Hello? Is anyone out there?

Hello?
Hello?
Oh,
The signal is
Weak
And hell
I can’t
See

You can’t see?

I
Mean
I can
See
But
There’s
Smog
Everywhere
There’s
Haze
Or are these
Clouds
That wouldn’t lift.
The point
Is
I cannot see anything
Around me.

Are you stranded?

Yes, i am
In the
Middle of
The road.

Is there
Anyone
Else there?

I wouldn’t know
I cannot see.
Anything but my
Feet. My shoes actually.
Ya, my feet.

Where should we send for help?

It’s hard to say..
It’s getting dark.
I don’t see any sign boards
But do send help.
I don’t know what else to do.

Wait, maybe?

But how
Long should I wait?

Can’t say.

Can’t say?

Can’t say. We don’t know
Where you are and the signal is weak.
And the weather might remain as
It is
For weeks.

But that’s no help!

It is what it is.

Might as well take

a step at a time and see
Where goes.

Good luck, bye.

I feel sorry

I feel sorry 

about that 19 year old 

Who was supposed to be 

Losing sleep over

Medicine vs engineering

Red suit vs the blue one

Manali vs Kasauli


But instead

Her butured body lies 

Ashened

for some men had to 

Show her her place 

In this world 

Which was no place at all. 


I feel sorry

Because she must have 

Tried to make a point 

And so

Her tongue was ripped off

To give her a message

That she had no voice 

She must stay quiet

And quietly must she pass on


I wonder 

Even then

If she tried to take a stand 

Not willing to back off

And fight for her dignity

For her spine was broken 

By men who could not 

Stand being stood up

By anyone but

A woman. 


And though it was 

Her tongue 

That was pulled out

And her spine 

Broken to shards 

But it is the nation

That has lost its voice

And the ability 

To stand up for a cause

Crystal clear as the daylight


Because you see

the people in the office are 

Saying there was no rape at all! 

And you must face

The pawns of the establishment 

Guarding the mafia lord 

Or else this time

your backs will be broken

By men in khaki

Who never had a spine at all. 


I feel sorry 

Because just right now

Must we talk about

Caste discrimination

Because the goons would have not done 

What they did

Had she been a woman 

of another household 

Just as millions of women 

Who walk freely at night. 

The goons would have treated her

With high tea and 

Crostinis


I feel sorry

Because she didn’t get the

Life she deserved 

But also not the farewell,

The last rights  

Because the

fascists must save 

Face 

Must take control

Must dictate

Must reshape 

The past present and future 

Because some of us

Made them believe  

that

They can get away with anything 


I am sorry

That her family will never get

Closure 

Because the dark reality

Will never completely sink in

And the next ten years will be 

Spent wondering 

Did that really happen?

Did we even have a daughter? 

Are we even sane? 

How could a facade this large

Could altogether be forgotten? 


I feel sorry

Because she wasn’t the first 

and 

She wouldn’t be the last.

Lucid.

Remember the time
You said
You wished the time must
Freeze and
Froze it did
like a painting
like an ocean
like a clock stuck on 9
since ages
but was it only yesterday
when we were racing against time.

but even a stopped clock is
right
twice a day,
they say.
and as the clocks continued
to chime
the dust settled
under water
as it usually does
not withstanding the test of time

But the seasons have changed
And the winter is coming
But their is a warmth in
My heart
now that a quiet room
distracts me a little less
with the clothes hanging in the closet
the car sitting in the garage
the forgotten heels in the shoe rack
and the world falling apart
Silent as a grave

I know I am
right where I should be.
because you see,
the dust settled,
underneath the water
and the view
now is
lucid.


I should have known

I should have known that the world has become a shallow place,
a little vain
But the values from antecessors
Remain.
To give us a reminder of
What we’ve lost
And what we’ve gained.
It’s a confusing
time to be alive
To be forever torn
To be a semi-fit
Rather, an ill-fit
To have a grounded body
But a fluttering soul
Like a bird about
to take off
And off I would have gone
If I could
But only that
I cannot be everywhere.

do everything
not possibly.
There’s a limitation
There’s a price to pay
For one to be born as
Nature’s proudest experiment
To be its finest creation.
or a cosmic joke
Equipped and armed for
any adversity
But,
Only on the outside.
There’s a universe
Vast on the inside
That cannot be
Fathomed
Can never be fully explored but
Only survived.

The Price of Freedom – A Short Story

Inspired by real events


August 19, 2019, 9:20PM

Aditi

Tonight is going to be a long night. I look at the clock and I know it’s showtime. My father laying still in front of me. Ah, what a sight! His chest heaving up and down to the rhythm of his torpid breaths. I almost want to paint this tranquility. I want to capture this serenity, this moment. The tables have turned. Today, I am in control. Today, I am spoiled by choice. I could talk to my boyfriend, I could be out till late at night, and I could watch a movie. I could do any goddamn thing under the sun. Today, I am a bird and I will spread my wings. I think I want to dance.

Overwhelmed by choice, I decide to play some Frank Sinatra. Music calms my nerves. It’s time to examine the subject. I go near my father and slap him just to ensure that the sedatives have kicked in. He doesn’t move. Impulsively, I slap him again. This one’s for taking away my phone. Then another, for throwing away my skirts. I am enjoying this now. One more, for forbidding me to fall in love and for hitting me. One, for being alive instead of my mother. And last one, for taking away my freedom. His cheeks have flushed red at this point but he doesn’t move. I know he won’t move for a while.

The first time I wished to be away from my father was when I had to go through a whole year without buying a single new piece of cloth because I hadn’t scored all ‘A’s in my third standard. When my grades didn’t improve, the cable connection was cut off next year and this feeling of wanting to be away from him intensified. I felt like a dog on a short lease. I was only rewarded when I performed. Worse, I felt like a circus animal. A performing animal. But I really wanted him to be dead when he almost beat me to death for falling in love. There is this boy with who I want to spend my life, make babies and my father almost kills me for that. I remember laying in a pool of blood. My blood. I felt molested as there was no part of my body, his belt hadn’t touched. The scars were all over my body. My flawless face wasn’t so flawless anymore. My reflection almost irked me. He not only took away my beauty, but also a part of my life. Today, it’s my turn.


August 20, 2019, 5:59 AM

Dad

The rain is relentless. I hear it thrumming on the metal roof and running down the broken pipe into the mud, and I moisten my cracked lips with my tongue. I wonder if they’ll bring me food and water. I wonder if they’re coming at all.​ The last thing I remember was going to bed and the next thing I know I am here, waking up from a hazy cloud of numbness. I am wearing the same clothes that I had worn to bed last night, my white ​kurta pajama which are now mildly soiled as if I have been dragged through my bedroom to the living room to the porch and further down my garden until here. I feel paralysed with my limbs tied and my mouth taped shut. My mouth feels as parched as it gets on the morning after a continuum of inebriation. My head weighs like a hundred kilos. I realize I may have been drugged.

I could hear the thunder ripping the sky outside. It seems even the Gods are furious. It hasn’t rained like this in New Delhi during the past six years.

I am almost certain that this must be a case of robbery as I do not have any enemies that I know of. I suddenly remembered my daughter and wondered where she was. A current jolts through me and I become fully alert. I realized that she was not here so she must be inside the house. Has she also been left to die somewhere like me? But goons don’t just tie up little girls. She could be raped. She could have been gang raped and then killed. No. No. No. No. No. ​Dear God, may they not touch her. Dear God, may Aditi be safe.I​ tried to call out her name but I cannot. There were just stifled cries.

Almost 10 feet away from me, is our backup LPG cylinder that we keep here, as it is safer to keep it outside the house. Next to it stands an antique wooden cupboard that contains a whole arsenal of weapons: a tool box with a hammer, pliers, handsaw, screwdrivers, and knives amongst other things that would have helped me untie myself right now, if only I could reach them. I know this because I assembled this kit myself over a span of 14 years that I have lived in this house and today, I have been held captive in my own garage. I have been tied to a hinge that I planted myself almost ten years back. I helplessly looked around. I observe that there are two sets of muddy shoe prints all over the floor. One must be around size 10 and another it’s half. Probably a male and female.

I must have been dreaming because I see the door storm open and Aditi walks in. She glides in like an angel in her spotless white school uniform. I almost jumped with happiness to see that she’s alright and unharmed. Hot tears once again streaming down my cheeks. ​It’s over.


August 20, 2019, 3:00 AM

Aditi

You know you are soul mates when even your thoughts are in sync. I remember seeing Praveen almost three weeks after the incident. My whole body melted when we embraced. With my best friend’s help, we managed to meet after school at her place. I wept that day in his arms. His strong protective arms almost felt like a warm blanket. He stroked my hair and softly kissed my scars. He told me everything will be alright. “Nothing will be alright till that man is alive…” I said somewhere between my cries. “Then let’s get him out of our way,” he said. I looked at his face to fully understand what he was saying or to search for any traces of humour but there were none. I knew he was suffering too. Praveen and I are not just any high school sweethearts but we have actually battled hardships together. We are endgame. He was the only person by my side when my mother succumbed to her illness and father drowned himself in alcohol without a care in the world. I knew Praveen truly cared for me. We hadn’t been with anyone but each other in past three years. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t live without him. No one else matters. In life, I know you are either a hunter or the hunted. I choose not to be hunted. I choose life.

I have to admit that this was the day when the seed was planted. This was almost two months back. But when last week, he found out my secret phone inside the pillowcase, he not only smashed it against the wall, but also declared that I will be sent off to an all-girls boarding school, almost 5000 miles from Delhi. That was the exact moment when I decided to kill my father and I am not sorry about it. Only I have the decision to choose my own life. No one else can choose for me. Not even “my father”. With Praveen by side, I knew I could do this. Nothing is invincible.

I thought about this decision for days. My decision only became stronger when I realized how much there was to gain from it. After all, one cannot put a price on freedom. I may not have been a class topper, to my father’s plight but this time, I had done my homework. I had watched at least a hundred documentaries and read at least a dozen books on the subject. I am almost excited for my future for the first time in years. I know I will get away with this. I had called Praveen from a friend’s phone and asked him to be here tonight. He should be here any moment now. Outside, the rain hasn’t stopped pouring for hours. It looks like God’s on our side. Amen.


August 20, 2019, 6:15 AM

Dad

I see that Aditi has carefully locked the door behind her. Her angelic face looks eerily calm and composed. I felt a pang of guilt for treating her the way I had been for the past few years but children tend to be lost and they need to be guided. Her grandfather wasn’t the one to spare a stick and that made me what I am today. I am thankful to my father and I know in my heart, one day she will thank me too.

“So you are up, huh? Sooner than we expected.” she says as she looks at me without blinking. “The pills were supposed to knock you out for at least 15 hours.” She continues speaking as if it’s business as usual. She crinkles her nose as she comes closer. “Did you piss your pants, Dad? Ewww!”

I realize the questions were rhetoric. My mind’s running haywire now. Why hasn’t she untied me yet?

“Praveen will be here soon. He’s probably late because of the rain.” She announces. For the first time, it begins to dawn on me that perhaps it is not a case of robbery and maybe, I have been held captive by my own 15 year old daughter. “This must be a joke.” I thought.

“What now? Why do you look so shocked? Don’t act like you didn’t see this coming.” she says as if reading my thoughts. Her voice laced with childlike rebellion. “Did you really think that you could get away with trying to sabotage my freedom? Not-going to-happen. ​Dad.​ ”

There have been a lot of times in the past 41 years when life hasn’t made any sense to me such as when the only woman I ever loved died a slow, painful death right in front of my eyes and there was nothing under the sun I could do to save her but this moment definitely takes away the prize. I hadn’t felt more futile in my whole life. After each chemotherapy, I could see my wife withering away until there was nothing left of her. I knew that life would never be the same. And now, it seemed like my own daughter, the only thing left from my wife, had trapped me in my own house and is on some kind of childish mission to teach-me-a-lesson.

It wasn’t long before I heard another knock on the door. Aditi unlatches the door and strides in the boy whose face is etched in my memory. He too is in his school uniform which is drenched from the pouring rain outside. He’s the boy who took away my little girl. The animal in me awakens, I want to tear him apart. He’s the boy who’s fucking my daughter. Period. There’s no other way to put that.

I still remember the night I first saw this scumbag. I had come back home after a hard day at the shop around 10:30PM. As I parked my car outside, I could hear the music coming from my house. This was unusual. Aditi usually slept around this time and almost never had any friends over. As I walked inside my home, the music got louder. I realized that it was coming from Aditi’s room. I opened the gate at once and there he was, merrymaking with my daughter. The room was filled with cigarette and Aditi was smoking one herself. The room was lit by fairy lights. She was draped in only a bed sheet. It seemed like a scene from a movie. I did what any father would. I grabbed the little bastard by his neck and kicked that piece of shit out of my house, naked in the middle of the night. No warnings were left to be spoken. The message was clear. I wondered for how long all this had been going on, under my own nose. In my own house. I wondered if the maids and the neighbors knew before me.

My daughter, as beautiful as she is, like her mother, walks up to me and rips off the tape from my mouth. That hurt but I didn’t make a sound. I realized I was choked.
“What’s with the tears now, Dad? Do you really expect me to buy all this drama especially when you never gave a shit about my feelings? Huh?”

“Are you going to kill me now?” I asked, sarcastically. She wouldn’t, I knew. We were blood after all. But I felt like I had to ask.


August 20, 2019, 6:47 AM​

Aditi

Praveen was finally here and he had brought everything that we would need today. I looked at my father who was looking at me intently. His face was almost unreadable. I didn’t like that. I wanted him to be scared. Like I had been of him all these years.

“What’s in there?” Dad asks looking at the container.
“Just petrol.”
“What the hell are you thinking? Release me right now, you dumb goat!!” He yells, just as he always does. Yelling is his first reaction to everyone and everything.
“How does it feel to be tied up, father? To feel that your life is in someone else’s hands.” I asked playfully. I could finally afford to be playful after all.
“You have gone mad. Release me right now!” He commanded again.
“Why did you had to be so strict, Dad? Why couldn’t you just let me be? Let us be?” I wanted to know. “He is just using you, you dumb girl. Boys use girls like you and then they leave when they find another one. You think I don’t know anything? I had lived in a boy’s hostel for 8 years. I know how young fuckers think. Your naivety almost terrifies me.”
“You terrify me!” I yelled back but realized now is not the time to lose my cool. “It’s too bad, these will be your last words.” I told him.
“Open the fucking knot…” He almost pleaded. His voice almost begging. I looked at him and for a moment, it all seemed too unreal. He didn’t seem like a man who could hit anyone, let alone his own daughter. He looked so sweet. So vulnerable. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But it’s not like I had a choice. If he lives, I suffer. I become the hunted.

“Don’t look at me like that, Dad. This story is real. Maybe, a bit too real. No one is going to come in to rescue you. It will be short and simple. You will die and I will get my life back. It’s really that simple.” I told him calmly. I did not want to be angry at him in his last moments.
“Wouldn’t you wish me Happy Independence Day, Dad?” I asked, as I lit a cigarette.


August 20, 2019, 14:59 IST. Times News Network.

Delhi: Businessman killed after fire breaks out at residence in West Delhi

A 41 year old businessman was killed after a fire broke out in his garage at his West Delhi residence on Tuesday morning. The victim lived with his daughter in the house. As reported by his daughter, the victim had gone to fix the garage door early morning when the fire broke out due to a faulty cylinder, supposedly after he lit a cigarette.

“The fire department received information at around 7:30am regarding the fire. We rushed to the spot with two fire tenders. The fire was doused before it could spread to the rest of the house,” said a senior Delhi Fire Services officer. The victim was a widower and is survived by his 15 year old daughter.


29/9/19.

PC: Unspalsh. elijah-hiett-ISUqlGMU7o0-unsplash. ❤

Why Me?

I don’t go to a temple often

Neither do I go to a

A mosque or

A church

or anywhere else

Get the drift, right?

But yesterday I went

To a temple

Not too far

But the one in my home;

It was awkward

I have to say

The face off

With Him

Like meeting an

Old lover.

So I cut straight to the chase

And asked –

Why me?

I stood still and

Waited for an answer

Minutes passed

But nothing happened

No one spoke

None of the statues moved

But a tear did trickle down

My cheek

And I collapsed

On my knees.

Ok. I am on my knees.

Now, tell me.

Answer me.

Why me?

First, I howled

Then I pleaded

In a mumble

That barely escaped my throat

I submitted in a barely audible Why me?

I waited for a sign.

The hibiscus or the marigold

To fall on my feet

Or a cosmic intervention. Anything.

For I am stranded

in a vast

pitch-dark-room.

But, nothing happens.

So, I wanted to unhinge the temple,

slam it on the floor.

Watch Their smiling faces shatter

Into tiny little pieces

Perhaps then they will talk.

But they were quiet

As a stone could be.

And I collapsed further

My warm cheek pressed

against the cold floor

I need an answer.

See. You got me.

You got me on my all fours

for never bowing

before You the

Omnipotent

Omnipresent.

Now

Tell me-

Why me?

I did everything by the book.

I followed protocol.

I need an answer.

A reason to go on.

I laid there for a while

Made myself

Comfortable.

Maybe His holy Highness

Is busy

I laid there for

I don’t know how long

Like a wounded animal

Only wanting to be relieved of

her misery.

Wondering why people

Are so scared of death after all.

As I studied the scratches on my floor

I realised

Perhaps

The silence is the answer.

The quietude

The still flowers

The motionless figurines

Because you see

I had never raised

this question earlier

Never had I wondered Why me?

When self absorbed

I had strutted around

Like an

Entitled

Little

Snob.

Ashes

I walk through ashes
Left behind
From the fire 
that consumed my dreams.
The ones I concocted 
As a little girl
Sprawled on the grass
Under a tree
beneath the sky
Of chocolate houses 
And unicorns 
Swaying with the swings
thinking-
monsters are four legged
And fairies have wings.
The dreams 
Uninhibited Vast 
Lark, Open. 
 
Quite a fire it was 
Ignited by a spark
Of doubt. 
 
I walk through ashes
That fly
From the fire that
emblazoned my reveries 
The ones I concocted 
Sitting in the classrooms 
Bedrooms, parks and places 
Comprehending the
quagmires of the system
And their measures 
of artistry
Knowledge 
Decorum and
Duties  
Via books and lengthy monologues 
Telling me about the foundations 
And a way of life.
 
Quite a furnace 
it was 
Ignited by incongruity
Of the preacher that practiced
Hypocrisy and atrocities. 

I walk through ashes
Left behind
From the fire 
Which consumed my dreams
From when I was younger 
And walked with a 
Cloak of invincibility
That years 
Will bring clarity
Less, if not much 
Half, if not full 
And a Change
shall commence 
Sooner or later
For 
They must 
see their oversight,
their error.  
The dreams 
of walking alone
For those who seek love 
are weak and imbecile
And friendships don’t fray
Just as flowers don’t wither,
That honesty must win 
hard work must pay.
 
Radiant it was 
The pyre of 
My visions and dreams
Or lies force fed to me 
In legacy. 
 
And then the world tells me
They think I have changed
In ways they don’t recognize 
Of course!
Of course,
They do not recognize 
The immolation, the devouring 
Of my dreams, in the fire
That raged within me 
An inferno in my core 
That singed my soul 
Time after time
They tell me
I am not the same
But they do see a
Flicker of
light in my eyes
And 
a fleck of ember
When i speak
at times. 
Caught off guard
I don’t know what to say. 
I lean forward
Closer to their ear 
Unsure how else to cover  
I clear my throat 
And I tell them-
Likewise. 
 

A Note from Posterity


Tell me father-
Were you a child?
To have thought you knew it all
To have thought you knew the best
To have thought that 
you
Understood religion
Understood universe
Understood humans
To have thought 
So highly of oneself 
And yet leaned on God
In the name of guiding light 
To unravel the great mystery of life
Of love and hate
Of love and loss
Wrong and right

Tell me father
Didn’t you know
You, your forefathers
And their grandfathers
Who knew not
the reason
Of blue skies
Of mountains high
That plants do live
the cycle of life
Your forefathers and their grandfathers
Knew not
Difference between 
a fact and a lie
Knew not
Physics
Maths chemistry history biology
Knew not fire 
Knew not rain
Yes them
Your those forefathers
And their fathers
created god.
Father, you created god.
It wasn’t waiting
When Adam and Eve arrived.

And in name of God
There were people whose
houses were burned
sons were lynched
Daughters were touched
Daughters were beaten
Daughters were dragged
And you sat in the comfort
Of your Home
Of your office
Of your car
And talked
And instigated
And polarized
While the capital burned down.
Their homes burned down.
Their homes.
Burned.
Down.
While you listened to music
Hummed in the shower
Attended fancy parties
Holding a glass of champagne 
Overlooking 
A lovely bed of flowers
reading
forwarded texts
With propaganda
Made you a rad
But I know
Your scars were borrowed
So was your pain
Your wars were
Uncalled for
Based on hatred and hunger
And revenge
Because today
None of it matters
And it was all an idea
Just as you were one. 

But i know
I know
You weren’t alone
You were united by divisions
With those you thought to be your own
Divided by boundaries
United by boundaries
Divided by color
United by color
Divided by theocracy
United by theocracy
And it went on and on
But sooner or later
one after another 
The veils were lifted 


And today when we know
There are other realities
We know
It was all a facade
A crutch
A conspiracy for commerce
For power
Just as slavery
Just as holocaust
Just as racism
And
I wish I could bring you
Back
Dig up your grave 
Sit you up
To show you
What a royal circus it was
And you 
a joker
a spectator
A puppet
But also
A co-conspirator 
Watching and clapping 
As you liked
living vicariously 
In a pseudo reality 
Of an idea
That played out too long 
I wish i could dig you up
To show you 
Your whole existence 
Was a lie. 
 

An Ode To My Lover

Dear darling,
this one is an ode
to the love lost
to the world
in which I myself am lost
the world that lured us
with other fantasies
and we got sold to what seemed to be best.
But must I say that
appearances my darling,
can be a fraud
and life a witch
only revealing as much as it wants
till one day,
it’s too late.

An ode
To the love lost
to the world.
the world as a stage
on which we’ll never bow together
for our acts are different.
the world as a circus
but we will never perform together
we will walk this life
alone or worse, with someone else.

This one is an ode
For the museums we will never visit
the gardens we would never stroll
the roads we will never kiss on
the mountains we will not take on

An ode to the poems
i will not send to you
the love songs I will not
sing for you
to the nights
i will not come back home to you
the days i will not spend with you

this one is an ode to
the prayers i will not say for you
and eventually will come the days
i will not think of you
and apart we will drift
tell ourselves-
it all happened for the best.
as if beggars are choosers

My soul, darling, feels cold
Feels hollow.
Is wounded.
Is bruised.
it’s too scared to be touched
by anyone else
But you.
and the heart doesn’t trust itself-
it’s never been this unsure
for the only thing it was sure about
was you. was us.
but oh, quite a joke.

the heart, darling, is still not listening
to the silence that came
with the absence of you
it’s being silly darling-
stubborn as a child
who thinks crying will get it what it wants
but life is a strict teacher
and soon it will learn
this teacher rewards the smartest. the bravest.
heart is a slow learner, darling.

but i wonder- does it not break your heart-
to go on without me?
it looks as if it doesn’t.
It clearly, doesn’t
because you darling don’t rest till you get what you want.

but then,
why does it break mine?
does it not break your heart
to embark on this journey of life without me?
to not celebrate your victories with me
and to not have my shoulder to cry on.
if this-
none of this-
doesn’t matter to you
doesn’t render you sleepless
doesn’t make your insides twist
then i might as well
prepare for this journey alone.

this one is an ode
to the future we do not hold.

Letter to The Governor of Alabama

Dear Madame Governor of Alabama, would you fancy me with an imaginary ride? I ask this as you happen to be a very creative person who seems to have pushed her imagination to believe that life is ideal and world is utopian.
Imagine that you are 15. Your exams are approaching and because logic and Science have never been your strong suit, you decide to go to your friend’s place for group studies and to brush up some concepts. It’s 7:30 in the evening and you decide to walk back home which is just two blocks from where you live. The winters are here and the roads are deserted. The air is thick with cold. You have almost crossed the first block that a screeching car halts next to you and before you can make heads and tails of what’s of happening, you are nabbed by three masked men. These masked men drive you to some deserted place where you are held captive in a dark room. It is in this room you are raped by these men for days, months and years- no one could say for sure. These men assaulted you both physically and sexually. You were their ash tray and their punching bag. You were also their bed. When the police discovered you a few weeks later, you were in a catatonic state. The medical examinations later revealed that you were pregnant and you didn’t know who the father was. Honestly, you don’t even want to find out because it doesn’t matter who it was, as they were all goons.

Don’t you think you should have had the right to choose the father of your child Madame Governor?

Do you think it is appropriate to force a pregnancy?

Maybe you think it is alright but it turns out to be so devastating for a lot of rape victims who would rather kill themselves than bear their culprit’s child.

Imagine that you are now 20 years old, Madame Governor. The trauma of gang rape that haunted you has somewhat faded. At least you no longer wake up screaming in the middle of the night anymore. You no longer jump with fear when someone gives you a friendly pat on the back. You are less jaded. It’s getting better. You are now studying law at one of the best colleges in the country. After college hours you have signed up for a part time job at a local food joint in order to meet your student loans. Somewhere amongst this topsy-turviness of life, you were fortunate enough to find love. He cares for you. It’s as if “God” is compensating you for all the suffering he bestowed upon you when you were a child. When you are with him, it’s so poetic that all the suffering appears to make sense. After all, you earn this kind of joy.
This morning you are going through your planner to see the class line up and suddenly it hits you that you have missed your period. A few tests later you know that you have been impregnated by the love of your life.
A brief but bitter confrontation later, you realized that your love however is not interested in raising this baby because he has somewhere/anywhere else to be and he’s definitely not interested in marrying you (not that it matters).

As a child, you always knew that when you grow up, you want to be a lawmaker by joining mainstream politics in the greatest country on the face of earth and your parents believed in you because you always passed top of your class. They silently thought that you can even go on to become The President of United States. They exhausted all their money and their savings on your college fees.
But, when you told your parents about this latest “accident”, they seemed devastated. Your parents are outraged by your recklessness. As religious as they are living in the conservative state of Alabama, they are so not interested in this gift of God. You were not such a good investment after all and a child out of wedlock means that your prospective political career is doomed even before it’s begun.
You don’t have time or money or whole hearted support from your family or partner. What you do have is your student loan, part time jobs and a vague sense of ambition to be someone when you grow up.
Worst part is that you don’t even love this baby because you didn’t plan for it and everyday the baby reminds you of your treacherous boyfriend. While your parents question their lack of judgment, you question yours.

But do you think it is fair to keep the baby because some Governor passed a bill banning not to keep it? Do you think you are ready for parenting or are you looking at foster care or God forbid, garbage bins? After all, there are also mothers who abandon their children.

Dear Madame Governor of Alabama, you are 34 now and happily married. Life as is, ran it’s course and you were able to get over your college heart break. In fact, you are over 12 weeks pregnant now. Happily living with the man of your dreams. You and your husband cannot be more excited to welcome your third child. However, over last couple of days you haven’t been feeling so great. You wonder if it’s the morning sickness gone bad. You anyway decide to see your obstetrician tomorrow. Now you are at the doctor’s office, and the doctor doesn’t look very happy navigating the ultrasound screen. Even you can see that your baby is not moving. The doctor is quiet.
An hour later, you learn that your fetus has a neural tube disorder. It is the rarest of the rare disease called Anencephaly, that cannot be cured. There are chances that the baby will be a still born or will not make it more than few days of mortality. By now, you are hysterically sobbing and your husband leaves everything at office to join you at the clinic. The doctor explains to you that although the baby has a disease and his survival chances are less than 0.5 percent, your case doesn’t qualify for termination of pregnancy by law. He explains to you your options, which aren’t that many. You decide to wait for your ultrasound reports for one more week before you make up your mind. The whole week you spend praying and thinking what went wrong. You did everything by the books then WHAT WENT WRONG. The following week at the doctor’s office your biggest fears are confirmed. The baby will not live whatsoever.

You remember that the doctor hinted that one of the options is going to those shady, underground, overpriced clinics that sometimes don’t even sterilize their equipment. You know you are putting your health at a bigger risk but you just cannot go through this pregnancy knowing that there is no other way this will end. There are no surprises here. A fetus with Anencephaly does not survive. Now, are you supposed to carry a baby just so that you can donate his tiny organs 6 months later? You and your husband agree that you don’t want your baby to only know suffering.
After much contemplation, you did make that doctor’s visit in the squalid clinic, the beds of which are bloodstained from other women’s bodies and the ceiling is dampened, on the verge of leaking. Just because a governor decided to think she’s a messenger of God didn’t alter you from making your life decisions and you have never been guilty about it. You have been sad, oh so sad. You still say a little prayer for your baby every night before you go to bed. You pray for it to be happy in heaven. But have you been guilty? Never.

Dear Governor of Alabama, all this is getting too serious. You know the gang rape scenario, not being ready to be a single mother scenario and the terminally-ill fetus scenario is a bit too much maybe. But I wonder if you would accept the gift of God if your husband knocks up one of your house maids while you are caught up rallying your life out and it falls upon you, for whatever turn of events- to raise the love child? I am pretty sure Madame that you’d pray really hard that the baby, it’s mother and even your husband would collectively drop dead. Wouldn’t you now?

Dear Governor of Alabama, when you signed this abhorrent bill banning abortions, you stated that “every life is precious and a gift of God”. This is exactly the kind of statement one doesn’t expect from the lawmakers of first world countries as they are expected to be more in sync with the changing times.
Having made a statement as conservative as “protecting a gift of God”, you have out rightly disrespected the fact that some people may choose to be agnostic. Disrespected democracy. Disrespected the fact that first and foremost, you are supposed to protect your citizens and right now not only your citizens but the whole world is appalled by this imperceptive move. Also how different are you from other radical extremists?
If you think that you could masquerade a political move as a human life protection law then I am sorry for your delusions because nobody is buying this, for you have not even spared the rape victims. It hurts to explain to a woman, who is more than twice my age, that a seed cannot be separated from the fruit.
A fetus doesn’t start breathing till it is 24 weeks old. And although life is so much more than the act of breathing, it should only be a mother’s decision if she is ready to bring in a life to this planet- without any stigma, without any questions being asked at least during the first trimester.
As a citizen of a developing country, I can tell you that people in my country, India, look up to the United States of America as dreamland, floating in the clouds. Grass is green. Sky is blue. Air is clean and liberal. It is a matter of immense pride when someone in a family even travels to the United States, let alone securing an admission at a university or getting a job. It is seen not only as a land of opportunities but also a place where you can just be you. Where it is okay to choose whatever profession you like, where you could wear whatever you like, where you can be out till late because it’s safe to be out, you can marry whoever you like or not marry at all. A dream country which is a lot less conservative than the East. A rescue from the conservativeness that shackles the spirit. But today, it is as if the United States is going 200 years back in time. And today, I can vouch many women share my sentiment, when I say I am relieved to have not been born in the state of Alabama, USA.
I hope the Supreme court of the United States of America ends this madness that Madame Governor, Kay Ivey has started.


Proofreading Credits – My good friend Sri (@Sri_sallan) .

Illusion

What if all

I had been

Seening till now

Was a mirage

An Illusion

My mind’s tricks

And games

And now that I have fallen

Flat on my face

The spell has been broken.

The Paradise has disappeared.

I see nothing for miles

Just me

Amidst a sea of sand

But I wonder-

Who tricked me?

A feeling tells me

From the memory or a dream-

Perhaps

I did.


Does God Exist? – Speculating the relevance of Religion and God in present times. [7 minutes]

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It wasn’t long ago that ‘Happy Navaratri’ messages started flooding my phone and pictures of Hindu Goddesses started flashing over my social media. The auspicious 9 days were here and suddenly people around me had begun fasting and some of them had gone to the lengths of not drinking water, while for others not consuming alcohol and non-vegetarian food is their equivalent of fasting for next 9 days. I wonder if the latter category of people think that God too is a hypocrite? It probably is okay for them they think that as per God, it is okay to butcher animals for 356 days a year but these 9 days should make up for the bloodshed. A counterintuitive argument could be God created food chain and put us on the pyramid to probably not abstain from eating only what is natural. But, nevermind. Coming from a Hindu family, none of this comes as a surprise to me however the question remains: why is there so much suffering in this world if the God is as loving, kind and powerful as the scriptures say He is.The feminist in me cringes while reading the last part of this sentence, but as a matter of fact, God is imagined to be a male across most religions. All the more questioning the authenticity of the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. There has to be some logical justification for the holocaust, wars, famines, floods, rapes – some rationalization except for Drake’s two words: ‘God’s plan’.

Interestingly, almost 1.2 billion people on Earth are non-believers, agnostics or atheists. This numbers is almost equal to Islam followers which is world’s second most followed religion. According to the philosopher William L. Rowe, ‘agnosticism’ is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist’. Until something earth shattering occurs and we decide to base all our beliefs on facts, eventually becoming an atheist. Despite this, 75 percent of world’s population continues to practice some form of religion or another. Believe in God or not, religion is so deeply ingrained in our society that sometimes it’s presence is overlooked.

After all, what drives faith? Also, how relevant is the concept of religion in modern times?

The most accurate description of religion that I came across on the internet is, ‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.’

The origins of Homo Sapiens dates back to 200,000 years ago but inconclusive evidence suggests that origin of religion goes back to Homo neanderthalensis, approximately 300,000 years ago, who used to bury their dead- an evidence of the use of ritual. Suffice to say, even the primates couldn’t go on for long without connecting to some kind of spiritual energy.

Even the law relies on the religion to derive its moral compass hence, making murder a legally punishable act. Imagine living in a world where killing people is morally acceptable. Most of us wouldn’t be reading this article. Another example of this would be abolition of Capital punishment in most countries that is primarily based on the fact that only God can create and take life. Even our major festivals, that deeply affect our social calendars are all for religious purposes. Diwali marks the return of Hindu Lord Ram to Ayodhya from a fourteen-year exile (vanvaas) and symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”. Christmas is to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month dedicated to prayer, Quran recitation, introspection and fasting during the sunlight hours. Similarly, for Easter, Hanukah that have their own religious foundations.

I think a more important question is to ask oneself is can we exist without religion? Maybe not all parts of what was written thousand of years ago is relevant in today’s day and time but I believe some parts of it can be used even as guiding principles. For example: for starters, I think life indeed would be simpler if people stopped indulging in the seven(7) sins as per the Bible: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath and pride. These sins, as per Hinduism, have nothing to do with God, but everything to do with our own self, our Karma. It’s more like ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’. These sins are not a rebel against God/deity/centralized superpower, contrary to some modern religions.

It’s beautiful how Buddhism preaches to strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life and do not worship gods/deities. Another life changing take away lesson comes from Buddhist philosophy are the Four Noble Truths, that state the Truth of Suffering, The Truth of the Cause of Suffering, The Truth of the End of Suffering, and The Truth of the Path that Leads to the End of Suffering. The First Truth is that suffering, pain, and misery exist in life. The Second Truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire. The Third Truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome. The Fourth Truth is that the way to overcome this misery is through the Eightfold Path. As per Buddhism, the eight-fold path is the way to reach Nirvana- rightness of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and meditation.

But it’s no surprise that this is a hard path that Gautam Buddha laid down for his fellow followers, and most of the disciples (in the modern sense) eventually ended up praying to demigods (Asuras and Devas) for the earthly desires and wishes. If only escaping suffering was so easy. But the first 3 Noble truths are definitely riveting — because during difficult times, it’s the thought that matters. These wise words have the power to cure depression and impart stability and strength in face of difficult situations — a lesson that could be life-altering if a person truly believed that any suffering could be overcome.

However, contrary to a misguided belief — Nirvana does not mean to sit under a tree/live a life of a monk/chant mantras eyes shut-day in, day out. Those who think this are actually out of their depth here. It actually is a state of mind which can be practiced by anyone and everyone. Hinduism tactfully guides us towards “object of human pursuit”, or Puruṣārtha. The four proper goals of human life as per Puruṣārtha are:

· Dharma — includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and right way of living. These enables social order, right conduct, and virtuous behavior. Dharma, in another connotation, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is the pursuit and execution of one’s nature and true calling, thus playing one’s role in cosmic concert.

· Artha — signifies the “means of life”, activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in. Artha incorporates wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity. The proper pursuit of Arthais considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism.

· Kama — signifies desire, wish, passion, emotions, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations. Kāma is “love” without violating dharma (moral responsibility), Artha(material prosperity) and one’s journey towards moksha (spiritual liberation). Work, indeed, is worship.

· Moksha — signifies emancipation, liberation or release. In some schools of Hinduism, Mokshaconnotes freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, in other schools Moksha connotes freedom, self-knowledge, self-realization and liberation in this life.

Hindu literature emphasizes that dharma comes first and without dharma, Artha and Kama can lead to personal and social chaos. Dharma is then preceded by Artha and last but not the least, comes Kama. That is quite pragmatically spot on. It is almost utopian to imagine a life with just right amount of Dharma(moral values) blend into right inclination toward Artha(economic resources), be nourished with right amount of Kama(love) and know exactly when to stop and reflect for Moksha. But with balance, it probably is possible to devour into depths of depth of each in order to explore and savor life to the fullest. It must be at this point, that the inherent tension between Moksha on one hand, and the active pursuit of Kama and Artha on the other comes to a resolution. A meditation in itself if one state seamlessly transcends into another. An example of the opposite end of the spectrum can be read in ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma.

This right state of balance where Dharma, Artha and Kama meet to blossom into Moksha is termed as Nishkam Karmain Bhagavad Gita. It means: ‘act and enjoy with renunciation, do not covet’ or ‘Detached Involvement’, further laying the foundation for ‘Business ethics’ in the modern workplace. The Karma theory provides an operational basis for constructive achievement and is perhaps more relevant today than in the Mahabharata times. The doctrine of Karma Yoga emphasizes detachment and equanimous attitude towards success and failure and inculcating virtues like sacrifice, dedication, belief and greater good of the people as the motive for action. Nishkamta doesn’t obstruct any comparisons nor does it mean that one shouldn’t have any targets.

All said and done, if there’s one thing I realized being a grown up then that is — adults are as confused as children and we spend most of our lives making sense out of this confusion. It’s some part guesswork, some research and some just a matter of chance events, mostly attributed as luck, or fate. We remain fragile as a baby despite our fierce accomplishments and the depth of our own emotions blow us away. We find ourselves on our knees more often than we imagine and comes a day we find ourselves crippled to the extent of helplessness that reaches out only to faith, at times blind.

Faith is simply much more than an option for those of us who have experienced sheer joy or immense pain, because in our hearts we know that none of this makes sense. We did nothing to deserve either this happiness or the pain. But who do we thank or blame for this haphazardness? A supernatural power sounds like a good idea to hold on to our sanity.

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