“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Becomes Air’; A heartbreakingly painful yet wonderful book. I am thankful to him – for telling us his story; telling us one can be vulnerable, gracious and brave at the same time; for his determination to leave behind his never dying words and for allowing us to have a sneak peak to his beautiful mind . I lost one of my best and sweetest friends to cancer. So I could not stop thinking about her while reading the book. I had often wondered what my friend had felt when she first heard about her illness, what made her decide not to disclose it to us. I don’t have the full answer. But, sometimes, in Paul’s vulnerable moments, I could somewhat imagine what she might have gone through.
Death is weird. It comes uninvited and lingers. It doesn’t care, who, when or where. The unannounced way it arrives is what makes death terrifying. I will never understand who losses the most in the battle against death; the deceased or the survivors they leave behind. We don’t know what happens to their mind or soul. But we are left with their memories, smile, laughter, kindness, cuteness, love, anger, dreams, worries and everything they expressed to us but them. Where shall we place this enormous weight. The longer we hold on to it the longer it take us to move on. But we can’t leave those behind right?
I am told , that death is a blessing to some. It puts an end to their pain. May be. But I think, death takes their pain and passes it on to us. What else could be the reason for the excruciating pain in our hearts. It was not there till they left.
Paul made me think about death. And Lucy, his wife made me think of life on earth after death. His beautiful friends and family, showed me what matters in this whole world. I will be grateful to them forever for that.
I don’t understand why people lie when the truth is convincing enough. I also don’t understand why people find “convincing” is more important than the truth. This year I have had many occasion to think specifically about this issue. It all started when I started hearing very elaborate stories and explanations which were full of contradictions. Makes one wonder how much time one would have spent for perfecting that lie and it was still so evidently nothing but a lie. Nobody is a saint. We all lie to others and ourselves sometimes. But creating a web of lies is totally different. Lying with the intent to manipulate people who are close is the most problematic. Often, I have felt that, people who make elaborate lies unnecessarily, believe that, others are not intelligent like them. But the problem with a lie is, the more you talk the more evident it becomes. Each time one person lies like this, it takes something away from the relationship, eventually turning it into a hollow shell. I don’t really know what to do with that shell of a relationship. So I keep it aside and evade contact with it. By the time it turned into a shell I would have become so distant and cold any attempt to rekindle it will only brake it. By that time I won’t even feel like giving a decent funeral for the relationship. This is what lies do. so I wonder again, why people risk ruining good relationship with unnecessary lies?
Hollow relations are nothing but stress. You can’t be yourself in a hollow relationship. You will have to be on a high alert all the time. Process all the words you hear and about to come out of your mouth. It is too much stress. Life is too short and precious to waste time worrying about such relations. If you have identified those hollow relations keep them aside and move on. Make some space for genuine people.
Each page contains volumes of emotions. Each sentence carries the key to someone else’s mind. Each chapter is a turning point. Each book is a new world. There is something so fascinating about fantasy fiction books. It enable us to travel in the multiverse. When we start reading a book we converse with the characters as a stranger. But somewhere during the journey, our self get merged with one of theirs’. When we finally close the book, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the emotions, responsibilities, dreams, burdens and memories of our character self, which may not have any resemblance with real life; Thus leaving us alone in a mental mayhem to solve yet another identity crisis.
Farseer trilogy may leave us feeling like a Witted – Skilled man in isolation; but in peace with the Farseer responsibilities. At the same time we may be quite unable to fathom the fact that, FitzChivalry is finally in peace when we are not. Or is he? Harry Potter series make you crave for Hogwarts days and then we argue with ourselves about the House, Sorting Hat might have chosen for us. Finishing Hunger Games series may result in a conflict; because we were always in love with Gale, not Peeta.
It is this crazy outcomes and unbelievable paths we travel, the unknown and new terrains, which excite, scare, and make us spellbound, that makes fantasy fictions so great and addictive. We find friends, family, dreams and clarity along the way. Sometimes, we find ourselves staring back at us. The fantasy world and the real world finds a connection that grow stronger day by day. We travel back and forth. We sleep in the real world but wake up with the characters. Sometimes secretly we start despising our real world.
In a nutshell, there is no better way to escape reality than going to the nearby bookstore and choosing for ourselves a fantasy fiction and allowing it to imbibe us .
“It is not the spotlights that bring dreams to life; It is the darkest hour of nights; the brightest stars and the eyes searching for yourself. Then you can feel the cool breeze surfing through the waves in your hair. You can see the sky reflecting the shimmer in your eyes. It’s in these precious moments of solitude dreams are born.”-Rohi’s wisdom. Maya was lying on the, now deserted beach, looking at the stars. She can name a few constellations. Rohi had taught her some. It’s him who taught her how to dream. If he was here now, he would have spent hours, silently studying the sky. He loved to hear the strong thud of waves against the rocks while he dives into the depth of the vastness above. May be he is there now. Swimming in a world of dreams. May be the star that shine like a teardrop is him. She is wandering the world now, in search of the solitude he told about, trying to bring her only dream to life; Him.
After a day’s work, everyone drive back home, with busy minds and tired eyes. On our four sides – for miles, people flow like a river. Someone will take a deviation; someone will get momentarily stuck with us; someone will chase us; someone will block us; someone will push themselves to the left extreme trying to escape from the crowd. All driving towards different destinations, but eager to beat one another in reaching there. We honk horns and scare the people with unsure eyes on the pedestrian cross. We step on the accelerator when yellow light tells us to slow down. Even the self proclaimed civilised persons behave like barbarians, when they are supposed to give way for an ambulance. Many will drive like a mad person and then they will shout at others, as if, others created all problems in their lives. Driving through the city is not fun. Sometimes it is nothing lesser than torture.
The traffic behaves like the city itself. Driving brings out the real us inside. Thus the traffic we create act like the society we live in. We all rush together, obstruct each other instead of helping each other and waiting for our turns. In the end we all get stuck in a block. River turn in to an open sewer. We could have set sails to new shores-instead, we rot, slowly…..
Internal monologues are like living organism, they grow, they shrink, they evolve, but they never die. These monologues that accompany us even in our sleep; the shape shifting, extremely moody monologues, that never let our brain relax are our enemies and the only friend who knows our inside out. Some mornings they are like a cup of coffee; warm, friendly and welcoming. But at night they may eat us alive asking unwanted, irrelevant and extremely disturbing questions. We need them to console us. But it might be them that made us cry in the first place. They are like some politicians, changing allegiance like weather. They sometimes abandon us. Sometimes, they train us to rise from the ashes and fight with the whole world. The question is can we trust them?. No we can’t. But the truth is that, they are the only ones who are available for trusting.
These contradicting realities and dimensions they create inside our minds make our brains so cooked up that, it becomes even more difficult to tune your thoughts to the correct station. That’s when we need to realise that our internal memory is full of the unwanted informations, emotions, images, vedios, memes and jokes we had downloaded for no reason. We were getting worried and trying to run faster than our thoughts for no reason. It is an alarm to slow down, refresh and clean up.
It is important to ignore internal monologues sometimes. They are just different projections of us. One of the several options we have. Don’t get caught up in their web.
I am sitting unsure of what to do Waking up to the unfinished chores Sleeping on the unwashed plates Unable to create a routine for myself I am sitting unsure of what to do.
People with migraine on their side – know of the times they wanted to bang their heads. How many times have I wished for Picking up a hammer and smashing my head? Or drilling a hole right through my temple?
Nobody knows why life is complicated With responsibilities stacked all around. One after another it gets added on to- the things that I am yet to finish.
It is hard to explain what it feels like. So I clutch my head and roll on the floor. My life starts to spin around; blocking my dreams from being born.
The days I smell of Vicks; I fail to recognise myself. It is always like a dragon inside Waiting to open fire on the slightest glitch.
I press my head down on the pillow Holding my breath to kill my brain. But reality pulls me back again and again; to the wheel of life -full of pain.
Death was very young. Like everyday, he draped his black cloak and left home. He had to meet the girl by the river. It was her last day on earth. When he approached , she was playing with the water. Her laughter was like a sweet melody. He floated towards her like a wind. Suddenly she turned back and smiled at him. He stopped in his track. That moment something broke inside his heart and he fell in love for eternity. He hugged her tight with over pouring emotions. She gave him a friendly embrace and left the world. Since then, each life Death took reminded him of her. Now Death is the first to weep in every death.
Days and years are flying . Then came “Dark“; Making all of us wonder, how time is playing with us. The more we try to mess with it the more we end up in a mess. But at some point in life, we all would yearn for a time machine, so that we can go back and change the way we lived.
The small second hand in our watch is running tirelessly, taking each seconds away from us. It does not promise a new second in return. Consider ourselves lucky, if we get one. On each new year eve, we stare at the clock and wonder where did all our time go! When the grey hairs become more visible, we start to question ourselves; “what did we do in our prime?”. Time is like snow in our hands. It will melt away.
We take photographs, to freeze some moments for eternity. But years later, those frozen moments, will emerge us reminders for the days we can’t get back. But won’t it be better to have an attic full of frozen moments which we can visit often, than a dusty, empty and forgotten one?
Noone has ever taught us what to do with our time. We were told every day to do everything for the future. Ultimately, we become someone who doesn’t have any past. We were so invested in making a brighter future, without knowing that the future we were looking for, came by and left.
None of us have the time machine. So better freeze some moments and make some memories to create an eventful past and a remorseless future.
We are strange creatures. We can’t just live on food, air and shelter. We need a place for our mind to do its deeds. A space , which each of us create somewhere inside our head, and expand as we grow. This imaginary spaces of each individual are somehow interconnected that those transcended generations as information. Now we have reached a stage of looking at us, as an object made of a tangible physique and an invisible mind.
Our animal instinct had taught us how to keep the tangible component healthy but the answers to taming our mind is non existent. Yes, there are successful stories of people who did. But I am afraid to say, it works for them but not for others. They may have mastered their mind. But they don’t know a single thing about others. Each mind has its own path unseen by anyone else – how can someone else tell us how to tame her?
We glance towards our zen garden and it gives us a momentary calmness. But, it is an illusion our minds want us to believe. But it will burst like a bubble, within seconds. Because, our mind currents are too strong to be handled by a stranger’s wisdom.
Everyone can’t be Buddha. Because, no one can be someone else. It is our duty to find our own philosophy that can create the symphony to sooth our minds. Each book we read, each look we receive, each word we hear and every silence that passes through us is a lesson. But we will be cheating ourselves, if we believe in the words of the wise as the ultimate truth. It may be true for them. But not for others.
We often end up copying others in search for our peace. We simply adopt their methods, their inspirations. We wake up in the morning and create a schedule just like them. We can pretend with ourselves and others that, it is working. But it never will. Because, our mind is not shaped to fit into other’s design. Every answers to all possible questions we have is within us. We were born with an empty mind, which was floating in the emptiness. It is our senses, which filled that void with everything we came in contact with. Therefore, only we can break the code to our mind; we just forgot how. It is up to us to find our own meditation…
I closed my eyes in search of my roots. It was pitch dark. I wished I had a candle. I started digging all around my trunk. I had to find the tip of my roots. Now I wished I had taken some tools with me. The soil was hard. My nails got torn off first. Fingers started to bleed. For the first time in decades the soil became wet. But the colour of my blood dripped down away into the unknown. That unknown is where I need to go. Suddenly the earth cracked asking me to climb down. There was no time to spare. I ran down in to the womb of the earth and I crashed into something. It was made of glass. My mind lit up and now I could see. And someone was looking back at me. It was a mirror. “I need to find my roots, please move away”. Mirror gave a sarcastic smile. “Your quest is fake. Look at me. I am the core you are in search of. You need only accept it. You need only open your eyes”.
That’s when I woke up in a room flooded with light. I was blinded by my eyes. I had closed my lids and pulled the cover of darkness over everything around me, whenever I had a chance to find me. I let the society define me, muting my own voice. I was afraid of being an outcast.I let others tell me right from wrong. I allowed them to squeeze my pride. I forgot the basic rule; in order to find my roots I had to be me first.
Only half a year is gone, but it has brought us sorrows of a century. The horrible deaths of Jayaraj and his son Bennicks is a new violent chapter about the disturbingly repeating accounts of police brutality in India. I could not finish listening to the distressing account of the alleged custodial torture which had allegedly led to the death of father-son duo, the first time I heard it. It was so horrific that, I had to stop listening to it in between.
Like many, I also want to believe, this year does not exist in my timeline. We saw migration of human beings for kilometers on foot, with no food and water; with nothing left in their hands except marks of hard labour. Their flesh burned on the tarred roads. We saw people dying in huge numbers day by day and the leaders immersed in throwing dirt at each other. We saw children eating grass. Then we also saw government looting people in the name of poor, and the rich being spared from spending their wealth. We saw man pleading of breath under the chockholds of power. We saw people being killed brutally, torturing ech inches of their body by the men in uniform, who had sworn to protect them. We saw our lands being encroached. We saw denials. We saw miseries, everywhere.
But the fate Jayaraj and Bennicks had suffered surpasses all boundaries. Is there any humanity left in us? As per newspaper reports, father and Son were taken into custody alleging that they kept mobile shop open beyond the permitted hours. What happened next is beyond human imagination.
Brutal custodial murders are not isolated incidents in India. It is a recurring phenomena. The Hindu had reported that, 1,731 custodial deaths happened in India in 2019 and that would mean that five deaths happens in India, in such manner daily. This is the outcome of a rotten and barbaric policing culture followed by many of the police officers.
One of the main reasons for repetition of these incidents are the lack of evidences, which makes it impossible for the prosecution (if any) to win. This gives a feeling of security to the criminal minds present among the police. Marshal Miller in his article ‘Police Brutality’ has listed the reasons for lack of success faced by the prosecutions in cases of police brutality. According to him “evidentiary problems render prosecutions of police officers difficult to win and thus infrequently brought” and “institutional pressures work against local criminal prosecutions”. He adds that this is “because of their close working relationship”. That is the reason why cleansing of the police department is as important as prosecuting the accused officers. Because, most often the undemocratic and corrupt elements present in a system will actively work towards rescuing the offenders.
Custodial deaths are not the only thing to be prevented. The police force all over the world are being accused of unwanted arrests, custodial rapes, harassment, non-registration of cases and the list goes on. Strategic reforms aiming at removing the criminal and illegal elements from the police is the only effective solution for all these.
Discussion on police reforms is not new in India. It started even before independence. From time to time, new suggestions were put forth and few of them got implemented as well. The first post-independence committee on police reforms were set up in Kerala, in the year 1959 and many other states followed suit. In 1971, Gore Committee on Police training was appointed and thereafter, in the year 1977 National Police Commission was appointed. When the recommendations by the National Police Commission were being ignored, seeking implementation of those, public interest litigation was filed before the Supreme Court of India. This resulted in the iconic judgment of Prakash Singh v Union of India (2006) .During the pendency of said case two committees were appointed, namely Ribeiro Committee in 1998 by the Supreme Court and Malimath Committee on reforms of Criminal Justice System in India, 2003 appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Apex court had issued seven directives in Prakash Singh case for Police reforms. They include, constituting State Security Council to ensure that to prevent State Government from exercising unwarranted influence or pressure on police, appointing State police chief based on merit and through a transparent process ensuring at least a tenure of two years, separation of investigation and law and order wing in police, Police Complaint authority to enquire into the complaints against police.
But many of the States were reluctant and slow to even pass laws for implementing the Supreme Court directions. The Supreme Court had to appoint a committee to monitor the steps taken by states, after two years of monitoring the implementation process by the court itself. This committee had once expressed its dismay before the Supreme Court stating that only 17 states chose to enact an Act, to implement the directions in the judgment. This shows the attitude of the Government towards reforming the Police Force. Incidents like Thuthukkudi deaths shows that, the reforms are yet to reach the ground level. Even now there are many promises of reformation are remaining unfulfilled.
The reluctance to remove criminal elements from the force has cost us many lives . It is threatening the security of the citizens, thereby negating the very purpose of having a police force. It is high time to take steps. The training given to police should also focus on instilling humility and constitutional values in them. The should be focus on rescuing the force from intrusion by corrupt elements and punishing the offenders in Uniform.#justiceforJayarajandBennicks.
When she blooms in the night, like stars in the night sky , she used to fill the air and my heart with an alluring scent. When I was a child, my neighbour had a Jasmine plant. Her long hands had grown in every direction hugging a dwarf mango tree. Every girl in my locality was an admirer of her. Every day, dressed up like a bride, she will uncover millions of white buds. We were jealous of her beauty and we all wanted to steal at least a part of it somehow. But we could hardly convince our neighbour to let us pluck her flowers.
When I saw the picture of an indoor Jasmine plant in a pot, all i could think was about the beautiful Jasmine my neighbour had. Many nights I had waited just to watch her buds bloom, since her fresh scent was intoxicating. We used to hang around her, for the flowers she might drop. We used to groom her and bend the branches of the Mango tree for her to reach. How devastated we used to be, when many of her limbs get broken during every monsoon. But she would always come out of every trouble, and regain her elegant self quickly.
As I grew, and as she became older and older, it became so easy to forget about her. When I saw the online picture of the Jasmine plant, I tried to recollect “when did she die?”. I don’t know. May be someone did euthanasia.
How we forget about things that mattered the most to us? Broken glass bangles used to be treasured by us and now we dump them in a trash can without a second thought. Remember those days, when we used to keep the peacock feathers in our notebooks, for it to give birth? Though, we knew we are being stupid, it didn’t stop us from dreaming about beautiful colourful little feathers born out of her. Today, we plan our dreams, using calculators. Sneaking out of house, from the watchful eyes of mother just to play in the rain used to be our fun. Today, we curse our fate for leaving home without an umbrella on a rainy day. We have changed .I think, growing up is synonymical to losing touch with who we used to be. We let our little self die inside.
The little kid in us used to be happy about the little things we have. Even a torn cloth was enough to built a castle. Now we have more than enough but nothing is enough. Because we feel nothing is going as planned; missing the beauty of uncertainties. We need some reminders in our life, to keep in touch with our childhood, so that, we don’t stress out about the unwanted things we need.
So I decided to bring a small Jasmine plant home to get a piece of my childhood back.
My brain is exhausted thinking about completing the unfinished write -ups. They keep popping up randomly, and I just can’t focus on one. So when I sat down to write, between my fingers and keyboard, words went missing. I just can’t find them. I think they took my imaginations and ran. Here I am, hitting nook and corner of my keyboard and I just can’t formulate a meaningful sentence. So, the number of drafts grew and piled up like non-degradable waste.
I opened my window and wished for something inspiring to happen. Nothing happened. How strange it is, that sometimes we have allot to say, and our mind starts to buzz with so many ideas, but we end up confused and say nothing? I think, we need to just throw all those ideas in to a dust bin, so that there is a clean space for us to think.
So I started reading all of my unfinished drafts, one by one, to decide which one has to be thrown out. It was a bad idea. My intention to declutter and my self, cannot work in harmony. Each draft gave me new ideas. They multiplied like virus. They infected my mind. When I was about to choke to death, a new realisation hit me; words are not workaholics. They don’t understand schedules and plans. They are free spirits. They will only visit, when they feel like. We need to vibe with the words. It is a genuine relationship that can’t be forced. Pretending to be someone does not attract them. It scares them away.
So I selected all my drafts, and pressed Delete. If they are strong enough, they will survive. Now I am waiting, for the words to come back to my screen.
Colours! some dark and some bright; Some like a garden and some like a night sky. They are vibrant varieties of rays travelling with its own unique wavelength. Their contrast and their similarities, their willingness to blend together and then diverge into thousand perspectives make our lives intense.
To the human world, colours are not just the images that fall on our retina. They carry many more meanings. Languages adopted colours to define times and explain moods. Politics took up colours and changed it into ideologies. Colours became festivals. Colours got converted into moments caught up in pixels.
But the colours, that mean no harm were destined to carry unfortunate burdens as well. World got divided into black, white, brown, red and yellow. People with same emotions and similar dreams got split. They were thrown into pits filled with hatred and anger. Colour decided right and wrong. Colour enslaved lives, and started wars. Colours, that are supposed to merge with each other emerged as a barrier.
Some among us have become so senseless that, they can no longer see beyond colour of skin. They have turned our lives into a mess by preaching about greatness of one over the other. They could have held hands irrespective of the colour and led our generations through a peaceful history; to an optimistic future.
Lives are blooming in different colours. These variants are meant to strengthen our society and nurture our culture. More lives will be lost and more dreams will be crushed if we just refuse to believe it. It is painful to see humanity pleading for breath under choke-holds. And I am terrified of the chaos it will uncover.
Colours are characters with pure souls. They are spread out for us to see the beauty in all things. Do not get fixated on one colour. Let us not make our lives a monochrome. Fill it up with every colour. Remember, all colours together make this world alluring.
Another Eid came and went. Entire world celebrated it during the lockdown. For me, Eid is only about family time. We have never celebrated Eid in an extravagant style. Due to the relaxations in lockdown conditions in Kerala, I was able to visit my parents. Therefore, it was as normal as, and as beautiful as, last Eid.
Lunch was followed by heated debates on politics. Then, we all got lost in our solitude, for some time. I went to my old room. Apart from some new cardboard boxes filled with unknown items, it remains the same. But it is tidier than I remember. I sat on my bed, where now the prayer mat of my mother is kept; neatly folded. A silent smile escaped from my heart, thinking, how I used to hate anyone else entering my room. The room was filled with a mysterious feeling, like a painful happiness. My brother, who was passing by, asked me, “oh! Sitting here being all nostalgic?” Yes! That was the feeling; nostalgia. It has been 2 years since I have sat in my room like that. This room is a witness to my life and a trustworthy secret keeper.
The room knows me in and out. It was place I go, to shed my emotions. I had sat on the floor next to my table and cried silently. I had lay down on the bed placing my legs on the window bars starring aimlessly at the fan leaves; vegetating. I would message him at late night hiding under the tent made out of my bed sheet. I used to laugh pressing my face to the pillow, so that others won’t wake up. I built my secret little castle of love inside my room and filled the gaps in my drawer with his gifts and hid my diary behind the wardrobe. My room was not a mere spectator. It always held my hands; sat next to me. We painted a dream world together. A world, which often gets attacked by my over pouring emotions.
There are so many secrets, we share only with our room. Our bed room is a visible version of our space. I ran my hand through the books on my shelf, pen on my table and the wardrobe filled with my cloths. My parents have kept everything like the same, as if, they want to feel that, I am still living in my room.
My little possessions in the room; they are not mere objects. Those are memories. The magnets on the wardrobe door, folded pages of a novel, cap less pen, broken pencil, rusting tiny trophy, and coffee mug; They are all memories, which I forgot without meaning to. We cannot take all of our memories with us wherever we go. Some memories, run off. But some get attached to the objects we leave behind. They live on those little things, and hibernate, waiting for us to return.
I wished like a muggle; if I could do the extension charm on my little pouch like Hermione, and take all those little memories wherever I go; as a reminder of my past, as a companion for my present and as a souvenir for my future!
There was a WhatsApp status put by my friend, asking for suggestions from others for the title of her autobiography. She has a beautiful name, “Maitreyi” . It is only due to my love for that name, I suggested “Maitreyam”. She also has the crazy habit of scribbling and keeping notes like me. When I asked whether she is planning to write one, she told me she might write an autobiography in future, if she feels like her life has become meaningful. May be if she was the one to ask that question first, I also would have answered the same way.
But every life is meaningful. When Anne Frank wrote the diary, she was an ordinary girl, hiding from the Nazis. But later what she wrote, became inspiration for millions. Our life become meaningful, from the moment we are born. It is not any celebrated status or position that makes our life meaningful enough to write an autobiography. Honest words are always meaningful. One should write if one feels like.
As I am writing this, I cannot help but wonder, how many great experiences we might have missed, because the writers decided to conceal their ink? We have set unspoken standards, making everything so tangled and confusing. We will spend our entire life trying to untangle it; doubting our abilities; questioning our desires and will slowly get lost in the maze drawn by us.
We scribble down our thoughts, re-read them, alter them and then hide those from the sight of others, thinking those are not worth reading. Then the very same us, will read other books and will be jovial for establishing a mental bond with the writer; never realising, our lines also would have made such wonders.The fear of being tagged as ‘not worthy’ make us abort our creations in the womb itself.
Writing turns words into emotions, and when someone else reads, those emotions turn into relations. When we hide what we have scribbled, we are closing the door towards thousands of invisible but meaningful relations we could have had. We are cutting the ties with ourselves and with the world; without knowing it.
All those words, idle on the pages of our note book, sleeping silently near the dry rose petals and colourful peacock feathers; they should be awakened. They don’t deserve to be forgotten like a lost love. They were us once; Our pain, dreams, laughter, love and anxieties. Without them, we may not have travelled this far. They deserve to see the light. Let us not judge them. They will derive meaning for themselves on their own.
High Court of Kerala is reopening tomorrow.It surely gives me a hope that, everything will get back to normal. After college, my office is one of the few places where I have felt like ‘I belong here’. I had to take a small break due to health issues. It was really hard to take that decision and stay home. Within few days, the pandemic outbreak began, and soon, lockdown was declared in India. One of my colleagues said, “the entire country took a break with you.”
Since the first day of lockdown, I have gone out of the house only four times. Twice for buying grocery and twice for morning walks. Now that lawyers are gearing up, to get back on track, the realization that many things as I know have changed make me nervous as well. Earlier, while at courts or office, my worries were mostly about work. Now, I will carry a lot of virus induced anxieties too.
I am used to many things; rushing to a colleague’s desk for help, standing close to each other during every day meetings, using neck band of others, eating near the crowded food joint or in the canteen, shaking hands, sharing food, drinking from bottle of others, doing quick research from the Association library , heading to the filing section to cure defects noted by the filing section, finding a way towards our files in the crowded 3A courtroom, leaning towards the handrail of the escalator. I may not be able do any of this anymore. It is difficult to let all those habits go.
I know that everybody is scared and there was a shadow of realization on the virtual faces of my colleagues that we will have to learn to live with this virus. But all are scared about the chances of carrying the virus home. Therefore, everyone will try to keep a distance from each other. These are hard times and we need to fight it to go forward. Or as my Senior told me, “no more fights, we need to deal with it.”
The physical distancing may not affect warmth of any relation. But, how can I stay 6 feet away when I see my friends again. It is going to be really hard to re-learn things like, how to express emotions and how to contain it. While going outside with a mask glued to my face, what affected me the most is, the vanished smiles. It looks like one grim world, with all those smiles hiding behind the masks. However, nothing can hide the reflections of a beautiful smile in one’s eyes.
Sometimes, it feels like living in a fictional world of Hollywood movies. And I am afraid that, our world will be remembered as ‘before and after Covid’. There may not be any more time on the beaches. There may no longer be sudden plans for a Munnar trip. There may not be any stand-up comedy nights anymore. There may not be any drive to Queen’s Way. Even then I am happy. Scared, but happy.
I am really glad that there is a ray of hope, and I have decided to cling on to it. I am happy that we are far ahead of many countries in preventing the spread of covid. It was on January 30 that the first case of Covid was reported in Kerala, and all Keralites stood as one and the Government did their best. I am grateful to all. I am happy that I am able to go back to my office and see those familiar faces. I will be able to do what I know and forget about the bleak news I hear every day. There will be a sense of purpose every day.
So I am getting out tomorrow, to resume work – intending to develop some new habits to stay alive, and importantly, stay happy .
Travelling is liberating; from the usual meaningless daily routines; from the gender duties imposed by the society; from the accumulating files on the desk. May be that is our reality. We were never meant to settle down.
We were meant to be wanderers. We were meant to follow the seasons. We were meant to migrate like birds. We were meant to swim with the currents in oceans. But we chose to settle down; like dust. We enslaved ourselves to the systems established and evolved by us. We became prisoners in the fortress built by ourselves.
When we travel, we get this unexplained feeling of fulfillment. We have realized, that we can’t live without those bike rides. We know how much we miss opening our car windows when it is drizzling. We want to travel towards the sky, take a dip in pristine waters, play on sandy beaches, follow the trails in a forest or may be create one ourselves, sleep under the stars. I don’t think we are supposed to travel towards our destiny. Travelling is our destiny.
This is why , this lock down feels like an imprisonment. We can’t wait for all this to get over. We can’t wait to visit all those destinations in our bucket list.
It is half past three in the evening. I am laying on my bed clutching to my mobile phone, with my Laptop on the side. My brain is pushing me hard to go to sleep, but I was determined to stay awake and write something.
After spending around 2 hours in the kitchen, trying to make a dish with Soya Chunks, which ended up like an emulsion of tomato coloured water and gravy with Soya chunks floating like ice bergs and tasting just like water. Like punishing oneself for her own sin, I took some rice and the so called curry I made and tried to finish my lunch. When hungry husband who was immersed in a webinar asked for food, I served him as well. But like always, he was not diplomatic with his words in describing how pathetic the curry is. I could not stand it. After swallowing the remaining food, I escaped to the bed room. To punish me more, the power went off and the bed room fan stared at me blankly, with “I can’t do anything” look of some High Court Clerks. Cursing my fate, to invite fresh air inside, I opened my bed room windows, which were hiding behind the curtain, suffocating itself in the dust that had settled there in the past few months. I don’t like cleaning windows. I always come up with an excuse in my mind for not doing it. But today, I felt sorry for what I have done to them. Surprisingly, the breeze which rushed in was cool as the dark sky kept the promise and started to rain.
I got bored of staring at the screen, of being angry at my husband for not eating the food silently and of pitying myself for my inability to produce anything appealing today; either in the kitchen or on the screen. Somewhere in between being awake and asleep I read about a woman who lost her twins in her womb. I don’t know whether I was dreaming or I was imagining about my kids I never had. When I woke up, rain was pouring down heavily. Two years of marriage is two days away, but we are still living the life of bachelors. Class room reunion Zoom meetings, WhtasApp groups, and Instagram pages are filled with children of my friends. But I am unable to get hold of the fact that, my peers are growing, or that I am getting older.
We couldn’t even come to an agreement on buying a puppy. We have even had fights on who will look after the imaginary puppy. I just don’t know, how the short tempered, care free me can agree to give up my priorities and take the lifelong pledge of looking after someone. And I am unable to explain to myself the feeling which explode in my mind when I hold a baby. The confused, childish mother in me may never give an accurate answer about me having a baby.
Whatever be the progress made by the society, struggle of a woman to make a mark in her field is still the same. Because if she fails once, she might even be denied a second chance. I have heard many declaring that, women can always quit their jobs and be house wives. Like, she always have a ready, risk free and appealing career option. So if a woman fails, she will be easily written off and shown the way for home making. When a woman becomes a mother, majority expects her to quit the profession. I am not being a man hater. From my experience of practicing as a lawyer for around 6 years, I know this for sure. Majority of the skilled, enthusiastic girls disappear from the court halls after marriage, and many after becoming pregnant. The remaining adamant few have to prove themselves every day, otherwise will be easily tagged as derailed. I am afraid, will that be my fate? One invests years in her career. Even the thought of giving up is scary and so is giving up many other things. Will I be able to find the balance between what I want and what I am? It is a challenging quest, which I should do alone.
It’s kind of funny that, I search for my child in my husband. It’s like closing my mind with a lid to contain the thoughts from popping out like mustards in hot oil. I can only conceal it. The mustards will pop anyways. Finding answers to the opposing emotions inside us is the most difficult challenge in life. No one teaches us how to answer it. The more I try to be rational the more those get entangled and sometimes even strangle me. I am struggling with these thoughts, since the distractions are few.
May be it is not so hard for some people to take decisions in life, who greets the life as it is. But for people like me, who is stubborn on overthinking everything and then being anxious about it, simplest decisions are the hardest. We often say, things will happen when it’s time. But how can we leave our life decisions to time? Most of the things that happen in our lives are untimely. I was supposed to be travelling this vacation and here I am locked inside my own house. Time has, its own plan, or it makes up the plans while it runs. It has never paused even a second to think about us. Never will it ever. It is futile to trust the time. At least we should be able to own our lives.
The sky is stretched like a dark canvas, but it has stopped raining. The weather was gloomy and a bird was singing. She sounded very lovely, but lonely; or maybe I am the gloomy one. I could sense the hurricane of thoughts shaking me from inside, and there is a tree standing still outside. It looks so peaceful, like a meditating yogi. I looked at it for a long time as a disciple eager for guru’s wisdom. That little bird flew away from the tree’s branch to the unknown, maybe I should also let my thoughts go for now!
Hiding is in human nature. We hide from the people we hate; hide our emotions; hide reality from ourselves. If each of us has so many hidden secrets, I wonder how much this world has hidden from us. Others, including our long lost siblings, Neanderthals, couldn’t keep up with us, because of our ability and hunger to unearth these hidden secrets. The more we found out, faster we moved upward of the food chain. After conquering the kingdom from other animals, unquestionable barbaric rule of the Sapiens race was imposed upon other subjects of the earth.
We emerged as the only species which can create, rewrite and change the course of the history of this world. But have you ever wondered, whether the real history of this world is still buried deep to save the faces of some, to keep some always oppressed and to keep some always fighting, to keep on exploiting the nature? The history as we know must be the biggest lie built upon the grave of the truth, buried deep in between the lines of our history books. History of opponents contradicted and fought with each other and the one which got wounded always was the truth.When the past hid the truth from the present, the present also hid the truth from itself.
The old saying goes, “truth can never be concealed for long”. But it remains as the longest concealed ever. When we are in a race, hiding from ourselves, burying our inner voice to achieve the target set by the power centres, it is very convenient to hide the truth and give ourselves the sugar coated falsity we desire. We would believe anything which feed our pride, boost our ego, and make us belive that we are superior. We will kill each other, wage wars, destroy dreams, and annihilate other life forms, so that we can thrive. So we lied to us, that this world is for our luxury.
Now we all had to retrieve to our safe bunks fearing an invisible and (so far) invincible enemy. Now there is time to contemplate the worthlessness of all what we have done. The deeply buried truth in all of us, that we are not here to rule the world and this world is not ours to ruin; that we are all one – this reality is the hidden gem we should hunt for.
Data protection is a growing concern now. When the locked down world is practically living inside the internet; when we are giving out more information than we should; I feel so insecure thinking that my privacy, which is priceless for me, might not be private anymore. To fight Covid, data collection of the infected individuals and that of the possible cases are inevitable. But, we don’t know how this data is going to be used in an ‘after Covid world’.
My friend Nithin Ramakrishnan had wrote an interesting article on the data protection scenario in India in connection with the Sprinklr data issue going on in the State of Kerala in India. He has rightly raised concerns over the lack of effecive data protection provisions in India. How far, our information available, in the servers of others, are safe? Isn’t it like keeping my valuables in the locker of another person? In my opinion, there is no effective law to protect one person’s private data in India.
Isn’t the issue of drawing a line between our privacy and public health be treated at least as important as showing the number of unfortunate demises, the number of infected, the curve and the peak. ? Isn’t it as important as the economy? Isn’t it more important than showing what the celebrities are doing in their homes during lock down?
There should be an active poltical involvement to educate the citizens- not mere political gimmicks. Actions should be taken for spreading awareness and holding public discourse on the topic of data protection. There should be positive steps taken to make individuals aware about their right to privacy and how the misuse happens. There are no active and effective awareness campaigns on how one should protect his or her privacy in the virtual world. The presense of large number of digital illiterates, demands, an active social movement in this regard.
We are proudly marching towards digitalisation, without teaching the masses what it is really about. My thoughts, my dreams, my conversations and my opinions are mine. I don’t want those to end upon the desk of an analyst working for an MNC or an election campaign team, without my voluntary consent. We should realise that, our data might be worth more than we can imagine. We need to protect the most lucrative commodity in the global market- “our data”. Like Stephane Nappo said, my “privacy is not for sale”.
I have lost track of time. Wake up in the morning, but its already noon. Went up to the terrace to see the trees, it’s already night and eerie dark outside . The clock I have is all messed up.
There are allot of movie to be watched. Thriller? Romantic? Horror? Action? Fiction? I get confused. Open my Note to scribble something, then all of a sudden, I am watching Trump.
But it is not only what I have lost track of, I have lost count of the graves as well. When tombstones are the only family at funerals; When you don’t get to give a last goodbye kiss; That’s more painful than death itself.
The virus is mocking everyone. Elderly and the youth alike. It is not the time to show off the adrenaline rush. All the dead were healthier once. People are stranded at unknown sites, Nothing to do but wait this to end. And there are people with placards outside, shouting slogans. I still don’t know what they need.
I guess its better to lose the track of time, than loosing my mind and my dreams.
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Covid took away so much from this world. But it gave back one thing we had lost. TIME… For the first time in past seven years after college, No one is busy. Everyone is free to dive into their thoughts. Pick up a painting brush and pour the dreams on a canvas. Scribble a poem and let out the emotions, Chit chat without checking your watch; because you are not busy tomorrow.
Yes!this was the situation of the fortunate few. When we got our time back, majority lost their source of life. When the busy world stood still, they slept hungry under the roofless sky, and they walked miles ,because they wanted to be home. We are happy because we have money in our accounts. But it had disappeared from the hands of the poor.
When this is all over, don’t go back to the way we lived. Where those who had , had more than enough. Where those who didn’t had nothing. Where the animals were going extinct. Where the nature was being ruthlessly massacred. Where no one had time for anyone. NO!not back to the normal before lock down.
To a normal, where everyone have enough. Where the rivers get cleaner day by day. Where all can breathe fresh air. Where we can co-exist. Where there is time. Remember, world doesn’t require us humans. We require the world. But like the many, I am also confused. How to? Like us think. Because now we have time. *****
Where was I? I was entangled in things that mattered to me. But yet it was not suffocating. I didn’t feel like I was bound. I felt free. I realised I have time to sit back keeping all my works aside and simply watch the evening turn golden. I could relax and chat with friends unbothered about the ticking in my watch. May be I found peace in my chaos.
Earlier I used be bothered alot about consequences of my actions. It was like walking on eggshells. I became too good at not breaking them I forgot how to walk normally. When one becomes too detached from self, mind will start deteriorating. Anything you put inside will get consumed by worms.
I was struggling to find my way back and I had begun to succeed somehow. Then I found this book. This beautiful book that looked at peace in the book shelf in Mumbai Airport. I picked it up instantly – “A Book of New Beginnings; Some Words for Living, Edited and with an Introduction by Jerry Pinto”. I am still not sure whether its the book cover or the book title which is most beautiful. This happened a few months after I started my own lawyer office.
I have always found it difficult to read books which tries to teach the reader as to how to live. No-one can teach anyone as to how to live. That is something someone will have to find out on their own. But people can always share and take you with them to experience their journey. That is what the book did to me. Each time I became confused or thoughts get convoluted I could find someone else resonating my mind through their words. Sometime in an excerpt, sometimes in a poem written in an unknown language and translated beautifully, sometimes in a letter written by a retired Head Mistress to her children, some times in a photograph and sometimes in a story. But to realise that others have stood where I am now and wondered where they were going gives a strange yet warm feeling of companion ship. It taught me that it doesn’t matter whether I am misunderstood as long as I understood myself. It helped me realise that the past, how disturbing, traumatic or exploitative it may be was not terrible. All the bad and good things that had happened to me together made me who I am right now. It helped me to laugh at hypocrisy, cope up with trauma, ignore the narcissists and realise my shortcomings.
The book is like a Bible to me. Not because it taught me how to love God but because it shared my journey towards loving myself. There is not even a single sentence in the book which I don’t connect with. It is impossible for me to pick a favourite line.Today my mind was humming “Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in the warmth of human relations.”*
*Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand & Stars (translated by Lewis Galantière)
As a woman who has joined the “30 club”, I am now used to hearing “when are you guys going to have kids?” “don’t you want an heir?”, “why don’t you two go and see a good gynaecologist?” and “who has issues?” . Most of these persons are not concerned with ‘flimsy’ issues like, whether a couple want kids?, whether they are mature enough to be parents?, do they have time for parenting?, and is it mandatory to have children just because two people are married?. Because most of them are not at all interested in, or believe in concepts like reproductive rights, right to choice or right to privacy.
Our country is a winner when it comes to population. There are already crores of starving mouths in the country. We are decades behind many countries when it comes to proper sanitation, health facilities, education, gender equality and many other aspects which are necessary to lead a life with dignity. Nevertheless, as soon as two persons get married, they are expected to give the news about “expecting”. It is time for third persons including parents, to stop expecting this from a married couple. But somehow, this is the most difficult thing to make them understand. Fortunately, my parents never asked me these questions because they know I am fully immersed in my career and in building a peaceful life.
But I have heard stories about numerous couples spending lakhs, just to give an offspring to the family. Tragic fact is, many of them are unable to conceive a child due to the stress of ‘not quickly conceiving a child’. They are silently burning in the agony “well-wishers” created for them.
Child churning factory:
Marriage is not a factory established to churn out kids; and children are not commodities manufactured to satisfy the ego or dreams of someone. A child is an individual with emotional and physical needs, who is incapable of conveying them unambiguously; at least in the early years. Therefore, unless and until people are not ready to have children, do not force them to be parents. Unwanted parenthood may not only ruin the lives of the parents, but also, may adversely affect the mental and physical development of the child.
Postpartum blues does not exist?
When a woman becomes pregnant she has to face so many physical and emotional challenges. Some mothers may also have to deal with postpartum blues. It is real. When a mother faces Postpartum Depression, another mother may face Postpartum Psychosis. People suffering from postpartum blues require proper care and attention. I have literally heard old ladies of the household criticizing a newbie mom for having “mood swings” saying this is just “nautanki” of modern women; and that there were no such things in their prime. First of all, their ‘prime time people’ did not have a clue about many things. Therefore, don’t compel “modern women” to bear a child when she does not want to. What is wrong with a woman deciding not to go through all these? And what is wrong with her husband respecting that decision?
Torture like treatment:
There are couples who find it difficult to conceive a child due to fertility issues. For them, Assisted Reproductive Technology is a great solace. But there are couples who just want to accept their infertility and don’t want to undergo any treatment. This may be because of the huge amount of money needed for the treatment or because they don’t want to go through the difficulties associated with the treatment or because they are interested in adopting a child or because of any other reason. Pushing them to spend huge amounts of money, making them undergo treatment and discouraging them from adopting a child etc. are nothing less than torture. All this in the name of “own blood”; simply to see the cycle of parenting being repeated!
An individual is entitled to decide, to not have children for any reason or for no reason at all. So please stop asking married couples about your “expectations”. Wish them good luck, and then “shush”.
There are moments in life, when we feel guilty to take sometime for ourselves.Like it is a crime to have some fun. When piled up work is a constant in our lives, even sparing some time for a weekend trip makes you feel guilty. Somehow, this feeling is instilled in you as a virtue or value, that, we start to take pride in being a workaholic. Having a good work ethic and being a responsible professional is a good thing. But it is equally important to be a happy person, to find time for your loved ones, to have enough space to deal with personal problems in our lives and to have good mental health.
If we don’t give ourselves time to breathe, we will end up gasping for air at night, due to all the anxieties building up in our head. If we lock ourselves in a box, then there is no point in waiting for others to free us. It is our decision to stand up for ourselves. It is one of the hardest decisions to take. But once we take it, we will find it easy to implement. For many, it takes reaching the brim of a breaking point to gather the courage to take that decision.
We should show the strength to tell others, to stop expecting more than what we can deliver. We should start telling ourselves also to stop all the painful efforts to deliver more than we should.
We need to take control of our lives. Once in a while, we will have to sit and evaluate things that matter the most to us. We will have to find time to live. Because life does not start with retirement. Life is what we have in our hands now. And we should never feel guilty for enjoying our lives. We don’t owe anyone that much to sacrifice our basic personal right to be happy.
We can’t belive that she left us. She was the sweetest among us with the most beautiful smile. It hurts. It hurts like hell. But we are happy that she is not in pain anymore. We are happy that she found peace. We know somewhere up there she is happy. May be little sad for leaving us. This realisation that, she is not a phone call away hurts. She took a piece of our heart away when she left. There is a hole there now and we will never be whole. We are trying to fill that void with her memories. The happiest memories now coated in pain. She was one of the best among us. She was the best. Little stubborn sometimes. But we loved her stubborness too. We miss her.