The Innocent

They came out to join her as she waited, hands on her tense shoulders. It’d been ages since she’d been allowed to meet him. Today they’d finally given in to her pleas.

When she saw him coming, she ran to him sobbing, “Dada!!! I miss you so much!” He swallowed hard, holding her tight in arms that were ordinary except for a band of lighter coloured skin on one finger. There once was a ring there; matching one the woman at the door used to wear.

Looking upwards, bitterly he asked, “Why, God, are the innocent always the hardest hit?”

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Written for Indispire – 68 hosted on Indiblogger.in – “Do you have questions for God?” #QuestionsForGod

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Of love, loss and peace

Once, you were so desperately in love you were willing to fight even the army of the Gods if they tried to keep you apart. Once there was a happiness in your life that truly knew no bounds. Once you couldn’t wait for night to pass so that you could gaze upon that face again. Once you could spend hours listening to that voice and you truly began to believe it had the soothing quality of angels. Once every touch sent a current down your being. Once you believed that together, life would be a dream. Once…

Now, nearly a decade later, you wake up feeling nothing for the person lying in bed next to you, except perhaps a strong distaste…the kind that no known product made by man can change. Now, you feel lost in a darkness so deep that to you, it seems like even if you spent an entire lifetime trying to claw your way back to the light, you would still not be able to escape it. Now, that face has become one you would give anything to avoid seeing for it never smiles at you. Now, that voice sets your teeth on edge for the only words that are heard are fighting words. Now, that touch makes you recoil, for there exists no true affection in it. Now, the dream that once seemed so certainly the only reality has been lost for a long time and turned into a nightmare from which there seems no awakening. Now…

You wonder how the love just disappeared and on really bad days, you question whether it was ever there at all. You wonder if it was the little things that you stopped doing for each other. If it was just you who changed so much. If there was something you could have done differently or if you would do things the same way if you were given a second chance. You can’t really understand how you have gone from being near inseparable to just two individual entities in space and time with nothing keeping you together except a piece of paper that you once signed so joyously together in front of witnesses to seal your union.

You sit. You hold your head in your hands. You shed tears. You let them fall till all you feel is emptiness. In that emptiness you realize that you have to make a hard decision. One of the most difficult in your life. One that will change everything. But you know that although change is not always easy and can be so hard it can break you, it needs to be made. Change must come. Without this change you will never be able to pick up the pieces and rebuild a stronger you. A better you. A wiser you. So, you make the decision and you know this change…this choice…it’s for the best in the end.

Yes, you are alone now…but at least you’re no longer lonely. You’re by yourself today…but at least you’re finally at peace.

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Written in response to “Start a New Life” #StartANewLife for housing.com. Please have a look at their video:

Growing Up

When I published that little post the other day after all those months of…hibernation?…Yes, I think that’s probably the best way to describe my state of being…I realized just how much I have missed writing/blogging regularly. Moving to a different country brought with it change of proportions that I didn’t expect to encounter so quickly and for a while I was almost struggling to cope. My “home” here was the last thing on my mind. You see, when I first moved to Bahrain in July 2014, the husband and I thought it was time we took the “We two, Our one” (for the time being at least) plunge and try to extend our little family of two. Never did I expect to see those positive lines on the home pregnancy test just a month after we made that decision. I couldn’t digest the fact that at that very moment, I was already playing host to a baby and would be for the next nine months! Could I really be that lucky? I wouldn’t allow myself to believe the test. Truth be told, I think I only accepted that I was going to be a mother when my doctor pointed out the tiny little speck that was to be our child at my first ultrasound. (I needed her to show me where the baby was twice, because I couldn’t spot the baby the first time. I am hoping that is no gauge for how I will fare as a parent…sigh…)

I spent a lot of the first few months of my pregnancy like most other women, with my head bent over a toilet unable to tolerate the smell of food let alone eat it and shed weight so fast that at any other time in my life, the weighing scale and I would have been friends for the very first time. But, I was not in the mood to make friends and instead anxiously worried about the baby. I was also really lonely because since it had been just a month that I was in Bahrain before the onset of the morning sickness, apart from the husband, there wasn’t anyone else who I had the time to get to know well enough in the country to even spend an afternoon with to take my mind off things. Being at an emotional and physical low point (and being allowed to be extra fussy since I am expecting), I convinced the husband to let me have the delivery in India; in surroundings I know and with more people I love close by. So, here I am…back in the settings I ached for when I was all those miles away.

I didn’t write…couldn’t in fact…for months and months, but now, having reached the stage where my belly has begun to enter a room before me and people no longer just ask how I’ve managed to put on so much weight, I feel the need to get back to writing. In a little while, if everything goes well, the husband and I will become completely responsible for another human life. Am I excited? Of course I am! I adore children and knowing that I have one of my own on his or her way makes me thrilled. Am I also scared? No…I’m plain old terrified! I am after all the woman who for the longest time truly believed her baby’s movements were just gas… When I think of that part of me that wants to write, I wonder if I will be able to sit at a laptop or desktop and have the time to write what I feel. Somehow I don’t see that as a sure thing in the near future. But, I’ll never know if I don’t try.

I suppose it’s time for me to accept that the girl looking back at me from the mirror has grown up and a new chapter is about to begin – motherhood…won’t you wish me luck?

Tying the knot

In India, did you know that there are more places of worship than schools or hospitals? Did you know that religious pilgrimage accounts for a sizable percentage of the total tourism every year? Did you know that studies have shown that the more educated we get the more the fundamental aspects of religion appeal to us? You may not have been aware of all that but you do know that everyone from cricketers to celebrities to politicians give generously to temples and other places of worship in the hopes of successfully bribing God into assuring them a good sporting series, movie or term in office. Right? So, does religion matter to us Indians? I don’t think I even need to answer that question…

VNY_4999Moving to marriage now, it’s a big step. It’s one of the most important responsibilities that a good number of parents believe they are entrusted with – making sure that their offspring are well settled so that they always have companionship and love in their lives. Most parents believe that that love will come only if the other person shares the same religious beliefs as their child. Perhaps, in a way, they’re not wrong. Any married person (unless they are really lucky) will tell you that marriage requires some amount of hard work. Even if you have matching horoscopes or have said the same prayers to the same God all your life; you’ll still have days when you want to wring his or her neck because you just can’t seem to agree on anything. It’s normal (I think). But, when you add religious differences to the mix, things can get dangerous. Remember, wars have been fought in the name of religion.

Being in love is beautiful. Finding someone who can make you happy and is there for you when you need them is a surreal feeling. I doubt that until things get really serious, religion even plays on your mind. But, when it does, suddenly knowing that there will come a day when you won’t enjoy the freedom to go to the place of worship you’ve gone to all your life seems like a frightening reality to me. The idea of having to compulsorily take a bath and perform a small religious ceremony before entering the kitchen in the morning, or having to wear a burqa and never venturing outside without a male chaperon, or eating with people who have no qualms about what kind of meat they are consuming or how the animal has been slaughtered becomes a very real future and one, which if it was me, I don’t know if I could handle. But, that’s just me.

Perhaps, all of it can be overcome if the couple is strong enough to face whatever or whoever opposes their union. Liberal enough in the way they think to adopt a lifestyle which is perhaps more spiritual than religious, in the conventional terms, and accept that their children will by default be registered with the same faith as the husband. Be willing to make compromises of a degree that I don’t think other marriages normally require, especially in our pretend-secular-tolerant India. Finally, to be so in love that the idea of being without each other is unfathomable. Without all of that, to my mind, the outlook of inter-caste/faith/race/whatever marriages succeeding in a country of such high religious fervour is not that bright.

So, I don’t think the concept of inter-faith marriage is entirely taboo. But, I feel that for it to become accepted as routine or normal, we need to abandon being religious and become spiritual instead.

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Written for Indispire – 25 hosted on Indiblogger. – “Inter-religion marriage still taboo among Indians. You’re take.”