To the Men…

paper-535969_1280Dear Men,

It’s international women’s day today. A day when the world acknowledges women and their pivotal role in society. A day when we can stand up and proudly say that we are strong, brave, independent, competitive and fierce – not the weaker sex but equals with you! But, as we celebrate what should be the turn of the tide, why are you doing your absolute best to crush our spirit?

Men, in your seats of power, you pass laws that offer more protection to cows than women and still think you are fit to talk of progress. You do not dole out punishment to those of your gender guilty of marital rape. Would you force such “duty” on your own wives and daughters? There is no place of refuge or solace for women who have been tortured, physically and mentally, by other men like you. Do you not remember that you made a vow to protect your wife when the two of you made your way around the sacred fire? How can you not see that the weeping woman could be her? There is no justice for women who are victims of heinous crimes but, if that wasn’t bad enough, you give her no sympathy either, finding ways to pin the blame on her instead! Like the way she is dressed or how late in the evening she is out or that she is with a male friend should make a difference when it comes to her safety… Are you not afraid that one day that nameless faceless woman could easily be your daughter? Things have deteriorated so much that it is now unsafe even for our children to play outside because there are those of your “superior” gender with an insatiable hunger for the unthinkable. How do you sleep at night?

Men, will you ever see us as your equals or will we forever be just objects that you can use and discard?

Men, do you not see that because of acts so brutal, so cruel and so barbaric committed by some of your gender, all of you are looked at with suspicion and distrust? That unless you change your attitude, more incidents like the ones that have already shocked the world will continue to take place? That we must teach our sons to treat our women respectfully? Do you not see that the drastic, immediate change should have taken place yesterday?

Dear Men, I was angry…once. Now,  I am just disappointed.

Thank you for giving us so much to celebrate this women’s day…

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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.”

UBC18: A is for Always

Sunil thought he could not have been luckier. Shanti was the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood and since that glorious day when she had given her consent to marry him, he had fallen more in love with her everyday. When he closed his eyes, he could picture her big brown eyes lined with the blackest kohl, the shining tiny diamond stud on her sharp nose and the way her lips looks when she pouted at him sometimes. He could not wait to call her his wife.

But, as time went by he heard talk of a possessive boyfriend. He dismissed the stories saying he was an EX boyfriend. He knew that Shanti  would never have agreed to getting married if that relationship wasn’t through but what he should have known was that the story tellers were not trying to protect him, they were trying to get him to protect her for a little before the wedding, Shanti was admitted to hospital. Acid had been thrown at her by the jilted boyfriend.

As she battled the most painful fight of her life, Sunil sat outside praying for her recovery. Fortunately, his prayers were answered and after an anxious few months Shanti sat up. She could take visitors and finally asked to see Sunil.

A curtain had been drawn round her bed and when he began to pull the curtain aside she said, “Don’t Sunil…please.”

“But, Shanti…”, he began to say, longing to take her in his arms.

“I…I can’t….I just wanted to tell you that I understand…”

“Understand what?”

“Why you would have broken off the engagement…”, she replied, her voice breaking.

“What are you talking about?”, Sunil asked.

“Just go away Sunil…it will be better that way…go away…”, she whispered, her voice shaky with emotion.

“Okay”, Sunil said, and got up. But he didn’t leave. He ripped the curtain aside and looked at an unrecognizable girl sitting on the bed, with Shanti’s voice. She screamed and covered her face with her hands. Gently he pulled them down and looked into her eyes. Then he moved closer and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.

“What…?”, she asked confused.

“I’m not going anywhere Shanti. I love you.”

She looked at him for a moment before saying, “Even now? When I’m…I’m like this??”

“Yes,” he said, “Always…”

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This is a piece of pure fiction. It had been written for ABC Wednesday “A is for”… as well as for the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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Is it hard to be a boy?

So, I was on my way back from work today and I was thinking about how so many women are still oppressed and suppressed. Then I started thinking about men and I began wondering if in today’s world, it’s actually hard being male too. I mean, I know it’s difficult being a woman…our challenges are endless…and most people I know believe that all men have it way too easy but maybe that isn’t entirely true.

We live in a country where there is a huge hullabaloo made about the girl child and female foeticide and such. I wonder whether parents who would like to have a son can declare their preference openly or whether they will be met with scornful gazes and looked at as people who are gender-biased.

We live in a country where a lot of women look at men they don’t know with a whole lot of suspicion. Thanks to the media, the characters of men have been permanently tarnished and all the male species that exists outside the circle of those we trust are regarded as probable criminals.

Men have a hard time when it comes to deciding their futures too. Although nowadays women who sit at home only are looked at with a lot of shock (take me for example), if there is a man who is sitting at home and not out making money, how tongues wag! It is almost like a weird kind of pressure that’s put on them to get out there as early as possible and make a living. No father wants to give his daughter’s hand to a boy who hasn’t got a steady job…and that’s the bitter truth.

Plus, boys are harassed, molested, abused and raped too, and not enough people give a rat’s tail about it. We only talk about the female population who is undergoing that trauma but hardly ever do we acknowledge that there are men who have gone through the same ordeal and need the same sort of support we talk about for female victims. In this case, as usual the minority is male and his issues have got shadowed by those of the majority…girls.

And what’s up with the thought that a boy who cries is weak? I mean…how sad is that if a boy can’t cry because men are supposed to be able to control their tears. How horrible it must be to grow up with the idea that “crying is for sissys” ingrained into your brain??

Poor men….maybe you don’t have it all that easy after all…

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Free Write day on Write Tribe…this was my take in fifteen minutes 🙂

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