Of demons and devils

She would laugh, high and free
“Hush! Just smile if you have to”, they said.
“Demons can sense happiness from miles away”

She would sing, sweeter than a lark
“Song is the call for a demon”, they said
And made her stop

She wore skirts that flirted with the wind, so pretty
“Flesh is sinful”, they said
“Cover up before you tempt the demons”

She would hop skip and jump on the streets
“Tread carefully”, they said
“Demons are every where”

She would go out in the twilight, to work and play
“Lock yourself inside”, they said
“Demons come out after dark”

The demons found her anyway.
Took her, cut her wings
“It was all her fault”, they said
“She lured them in, even after we had sold her to the devil of nothingness”

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Blues

Nurse my blues

Kiss the pain away

I fly, but with a broken wing

Against the wind

With a broken song

 

The clouds threaten to swallow

my existance

Dark, crackling with thunder

Drowning my chirrup

In their blackness

The land below me

Parched

Longs not for a storm,

but of gentle rain

 

I fight everyday, I flutter

I ask not for my battle to be won for me

But for a drink of cool water

And a few kind words

I ask for an embrace

 

My broken song

Rides the storm

As I do

On my broken wing

And all I ask

Is for someone to nurse my blues today.

 

Feminism Demystified

We women don’t think we are above men; we don’t want to take over the world and make men’s lives miserable. We are not a conspiracy to spread anarchy. Here’s my take on feminism and what it does, and does not stand for.

When I started standing up for my rights as a human irrespective of my gender, I was ten years old and unaware that I had just signed up to be a part of a much bigger movement Feminism. Over time, as with every movement, feminism has divulged into extreme radical and subdued versions and everything in between, faced open criticism and opposition, and has been misinterpreted and misrepresented to distort its meaning. Recently though, the misrepresentation of what feminism stands for has increased so much that I felt like it was time that someone clarified what we feminists believe in.  Here are a few myths about feminism that I would like to bust:

  1. What we believe in: Equal merit warrants equal opportunity

We want everyone to be eligible for all jobs, college and school admissions, promotions and careers if they are good enough for them, based on an unbiased and fair selection process, irrespective of their gender. What this means is that women should be eligible to be carpenters, mechanics, soldiers and politicians, and men should be eligible to be nannies, beauticians or whatever else they choose to be.

What we don’t believe in: Reservation for jobs or roles if there is equal opportunity.

We don’t believe in prioritizing merit over any other parameter, as long as the starting point remains the same. What this means is that we believe in equal opportunities for both genders to pursue their ambitions right at the start, to eliminate the need for reservation to level the playing field at a later point in their lives.

  1. What we believe in: Sexual harassment is a crime and must be punished.

We believe that any form of sexual harassment is a violation, and must be punished adequately. We also believe that victims are never “asking to be raped” and it is NEVER their fault. We believe in a society where both men and women are not just eligible to a career of their choice, but in one where they feel safe pursuing these careers, no matter how odd the hours, how remote the locations or how tough/easy the work. We believe that rape and other forms of sexual harassment must be punished by a fair court of law, like all other crimes.

 

What we don’t believe in: Exaggeration of punishment.

We believe that all those who directly or indirectly facilitate sexual harassment must be punished, if their crimes can be proved in a court of law. The rapist, the police officer who refuses to file a complaint, the parents who blame the victim, etc. must all be punished. What we don’t believe in is raping men to show them “what it feels like” or going out on streets targeting men because the world is unfair to women. We recognize that anyone, irrespective of their gender can get raped, that harassment is heinous no matter who it is doled out to, and don’t subscribe to victim blaming or “an eye for an eye” mentality.

 

  1. What we believe in: Freedom of choice

This stems from all that I have said above. We believe that the way someone dresses, what they eat, who they interact with, whether they drink/smoke/have premarital sex must be their choice. No judgment must be passed on these choices, and even if it is, it must not be based on their gender (for example, smoking is harmful for everyone and not just women). This judgment, especially when made based on gender, must not dictate terms of their lifestyle, their peers and most importantly, not be used as an excuse to blame a victim of sexual harassment.

 

What we don’t believe in: Freedom of choice trumps everything.

We don’t think women should get away with murder by the virtue of their gender. We don’t believe in celebrating femininity by putting men down, or by boycotting sanitary products. We don’t think that women should have the sole right on their children, but we believe that they should not be the sole bearer of their responsibility either.

 

Feminists are trying to separate gender from rights, freedoms and duties that a human being enjoys, not make the female gender more important than the male one. Feminism is about equality and the only reason it is called feminism is because historically rights of women have been suppressed, and the trend continues in the present. Feminists don’t believe in reverse sexism, but in its elimination. And we promise we will stop talking about “women’s rights” and start talking about “human rights” as soon as the society regards women as equal members.

The Story

Because you and I,

We fit

We are the same story

Told differently

Not two pieces of a jigsaw

But one, oriented otherwise

Not the rose and the thorn

Or the ship and the sail

Just two souls, together,

In the twilight.

Close your eyes,

So I can kiss you on the sly

Away from the world

Away from you

In the myriad of our dreams

Put together

Made one

Let me hold

The form more familiar than my own

Trace outlines of your strong arms

Feel your warmth

Under the blanket

Made of our sighs and wishes

The blanket

Pulled far apart

Come, watch the stars with me

They look the same from everywhere

Hold my hand

Sway to the music

Dance, ever so slightly

Hum to the rhythm of our hearts

Look at the moon,

See it fill up, just like my eyes.

I see your shadow beside me

Lighting the world with its darkness

I want to turn around,

To see you, to run to you

And get lost

But I know, my eyes plot

To hurt me

Just a shadow, full of hope

And of love

Of a missing presence, so complete

Of a story, our story,

Just told differently, again.

Perfection

If I could have anyone

I would still pick you

Despite our slight bumps

Or maybe for them

You are my very own star

Not the brightest, youngest or oldest

But your fire is the most familiar

And the most pleasant

They have it wrong about perfection

It isn’t the absence of flaws

But my faults complementing yours

Perfection is in silly fights

And making up

It’s in missing the other’s embrace

And in shared laughter

That leaves behind a warm glow

It is in finding you

Without knowing I had been looking

And fighting for you

Yes, if I could have anyone

I would still pick you

For perfect times, both good and bad.

Lost

(For someone who made me feel special yesterday and probably didn’t even realise it. Thank you for that feeling anyway.)

Keep walking my friend
Through snowy hills
And slippery paths
Through pinecones
And harsh frost
Don’t fear, I won’t let you fall
When the time is right,
I’ll find your hand

Go forth into the busy streets
Full of vendors and perfumes
Be one with the crowd
Go watch the monkey dance
Fear not of being separated
Coz when it’s time to go home,
I’ll find your hand

Let not the dark silent lanes
Scare you
Walk fearless even with a blindfold
Splash through little puddles of rain
Sing under the stars
For when you feel truly lost, my friend
I’ll find your hand.

Philosophical Musings

To be like a seed. Hard and unwelcome with the fruit. Spit out. Moistened. Weathering both the good and the bad. Evolving. From a seed to a plant. Growing endlessly. Diseased some of the times, flowering some of the others. Bent by storms, nourished by the Sun. Changing. Slender green shoots. Sturdy brown branches. Heavy grey trunks. Inside, still a seed. Replicating. Leaving a little of itself behind, every spring.

To be like a star. Born out of an explosion. Young. Full of energy. Making worlds go round itself. Glowing brighter every day. Full of spots. Irregularities. Lonely. Inexhaustible. For a very long time. Magnificent, even in death. A more mature subtle shine constantly. Collapsing under its own glory. Almost like a slow explosion in the reverse.

To be like that smile. Spontaneous. Ever ready to hop out. To share its brilliance with the world. Dazzling. Beautiful. Broken. Hurt. Lost. Found again. A little reluctant at first. But bright as ever. Broken again, just when it was beginning to learn to be bold. Scared. Hidden beneath layers of wrapping paper. Unwrapped slightly, from a corner. Gleaming from the cracks. Spilling out. Ripping apart all hindrance. Stomped upon. Crashed. Shattered. Picked up. Piece by piece. Put together, much like a jigsaw. Held together by salty tears, and quiet sobs. Left to bake on long sleepless nights and eyeliner-stained pillows. Mended by sad songs and whispered pain. Healed by pain so vast that it fills all that’s inside. Timid and shy. But just as beautiful. Gleaming uncertainly out of a dark corner of the heart. Only visible to the self today. Blinding the world with its brilliance tomorrow. Stronger everyday.

Ruins

Step into the ruins. Watch the flock of birds fly away. Feel the flutter of their feathers on your forehead. Sense the regret of forced abandonment. Walk further inside; caress the eroding walls, no longer of sustaining the structure in place.  Tread on the crunching, stony pathways; carefully, slowly, lest you may slip on the uneven and twist your ankle. Explore the hidden passages and the cool, breezy caves. Keep a look out the secrets they hide. Listen to old tales of glory and splendor of battles and bloodshed, royal feasts and dances, of the diamond in the queen’s crown and the sword with rubies and sapphires. Imagine clothes made of the finest silk and prosperity for everyone. Think of all the pleasure that the boundary walls contained, and saw multiply. Look for lingering traces of comfort, security, prosperity. Climb that half-fallen wall for a look into the royal chambers. Visualize everything as it once was. Sit down, think of the great fall. Of that one lost war, of the one cruel ruler who destroyed his way through the paradise. Think of the helplessness, the loss, and the ruins that have come to be. Let the sun set, let the shadows narrate the story of fear, damage, grief. Leave. Look back one last time at the Iron Gate that was the protector. See how the pride has fallen. Let its rust take you back, one last time through the legend. Then walk away. Palaces that were, never come back to life. Neither do romances.

Ruins

The Perfect Date

City lights
Cold December air
Happy eyes
Hearts warm
Spring in steps
Soap bubbles
Icecream truck
Indulgence
Fireplace
Fuzzy blankets
Gravel crunching
Good night kiss
The perfect date.

The Funeral in the Savanna

(My friend drew something and wanted us to write a story on it, as a social experiment. Here’s my piece.)

Image

He turned around and drove away

With a small baby girl

He vowed to never return

To the city, that had robbed him of her

And had left nothing

To the city who had failed

All those who protected it

To the city, that had burnt

And rightly so.

 

Someday, he would tell his daughter the story

Of a wicked landlord

Who tortured and enslaved

And of the beautiful hero who stood up

Her mother, his love

 

He will tell her

Of her bravery, her beauty, her strength

Of the battle she led, and won

Of the life she led and lost

 

He will tell her of her grave

And the rose they planted at dusk

For her memory

At the fallen city gates