Happy Dependance Day

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It know this post is a bit late. But still an Opinion is an Opinion whatsoever.

70 years. In these 70 years, India has seen rise and fall, war and peace, victory and failure, humiliation and honour, equality and suppression. The country has grown with it’s citizens and is still growing, making considerable progress. We have always been a happy lot: singing in our miseries, smiling our way from failure to success… we have reached the 70th year of independence… or a guise of what we fool ourselves to be independence.

A country comprises a society which is a group of homes and families containing individuals. Now, are these individuals truly independent? Do you wake up to go to a college to study a course which you never wanted to choose? You turn in your sleep to see your snoring husband whom you’ve never loved but was forced to marry and wanna turn away and continue the rest of what would be another sleepless night? Ever seen a rock-band playing amazing tunes or a cricketer hitting your favourite shot and wondered if my dad had signed me into that course in that training academy a few years back? The list goes on, doesn’t it.

Independence in it’s truest sense is never having to be a solicitor to make your own decisions. The first half of our life is already scripted by what Gopal uncles and Pinky aunties have envisioned for their children. By the time we realise that we are living someone else’s life, it becomes too late and we are sitting in a Digital Signal Processing lecture, not understanding a word that is being spoken and praying that we clear the paper.

Again, we as a society have grown together. We have learned the ways of life. Be it to pray, to eat or to impose, we have learnt it together. But, in any point in time, we can unlearn what we have learnt and start anew. All it takes is the will to turn back and walk in the opposite direction. no doubt this would lead to chaos. But even chaos would form a pattern, eventually unfolding to provide us with solutions. If this could be done, maybe instead of more than a lakh unemployed engineers, we could have more of Na.Muthukumars, Deepa Karmakars, Kalki Koechlins, Dhonis why even another Gandhi.

Lost dreams are one thing, lost lives are another. Let us practice an independence, allowing us to venture out and choose our own colours to paint unique lives. Just because your children have small fingers, don’t drag them holding their arms. Allow them to walk their own paths… that is how people reach a destiny that is rightfully theirs.

Little Drops

Life. Soul. Feeling alive. Love. Movement. These are all emotions within themselves. For someone to feel these emotions for the first time… only imagination can help us wonder the reception of such experiences. There are some feelings which languages can never express. Birth is such. Love is such and death is such. I hadn’t known these as well nor did I ever have the need to. For, how could I when I was nothing but a fluidic embodiment secreted by biological reactions. But something unexpected happened and I rolled out of my flesh jail where I was imprisoned all these years. I felt a pressure that squeezed me through a tiny pore and before I could realise it, I was dangling at the corner of my sac, with a wavering vibe running through me.

The air around was ecstatic, filled with roars and screams. Fireworks had been set off and drums rolled boisterously. Rio de Janeiro stood right in front, throwing its charm all over as I lay there motionless, struck by the enormity of that enchanting beauty. My translucent skin glistened when the focus lights hit me with their new found allurement. It made me flicker and the crowd roared displaying their emotions. The stands were filled with people dressed in all colours imaginable and long poles outlined the entire field. Flags of various countries waved with pride atop these poles but amongst them one particular flag caught my eye. It flew higher than the rest with five rings- three on top and two at the bottom, intertwined with a sense of fraternity and respect for each other and embedded in plain white background. I overflowed with joy which grew enticed by the eyes that focused onto me. I wasn’t sure why nor could my knowledge locate the reason. But my heart had started melting which made a broad smile bloom across my face. Emotions ran unbound and the need to find reason if it had ever crossed my mind earlier, had been long forgotten.

As the wonder of visual enigma combined with glory and pride caused by nothingness started filling me, I sensed something. A sound reverberated through me… a loud and heavy heartbeat with sound of repeated deep breathing. As I turned about, I saw my creator. He was tall and well built, drenched in sweat and I was seeping from the corner of his eye. That is when truth hit me and I realised that I hadn’t been the creation of god but a mere providence of physiological mechanism and human feelings. I was a secretion, the emotional symbolisation of his historic victory. This realisation led to a fall which was very steep from glory to a common congruence accorded with his emotions. My heart started to regret deeply for I had relished a moment that wasn’t mine. But the shame was short lived and I soon recovered, transforming into a content little soul.

He looked around and hanging at the corner of his eye, I watched a world that swept into me taking the form of a sea of emotions. His breathing became predictive but his heart raced at a pace faster than he just had a few moments back. Air whooshed past me as he fell on his knees, the gravity of his achievement unbearable even by his fiery strength. That sudden gush of air made me surpass the comfort of his eyelid and I was hanging on an eyelash, clinging hard to it for if I let go it was imminent death for me. I would splatter into a hundred thousand droplets and get absorbed by the coarse red soil of the running route.

I moved steadily to the eyeward end of his lash and swept down his face. Just then, the sky roared. We both looked up and saw a lightning streak creating beautiful art in the dark sky. The air had turned moist and winds blew past me. He kept looking up with raised hands with his face tilted, sloping parallel to the sky and I enjoyed the view from atop him. Little raindrops started falling and a few people started dancing in the stands, a few smiled looking at the sky and the others kept the roaring on. I slid a little forward, nearer to his nose to get a clear view of the stands and for the first time, he felt my presence. He wiped his cheeks and I climbed on the index finger of his hand that now faced the raining sky.

Little raindrops fell all around me, bursting with enjoyment. For, though they would fall to burst and evade life, their short life was filled with the happiness from that wondrous fall. I kept looking up as I locked my eyes on her. She was tranquility… serene, pure and beautiful. Ah, Heavenly…. That was the one word to define her. True, after all she was heaven’s manifestation. She looked at me and smiled but then ecstasy took over as she fell on me. We rolled into one… fluttering, as we mixed and fell. She blushed and I bubbled with the joy of new love, enticed by each other’s beauty. I was salty and understood pristineness with her touch.

She looked below and insinuated that both our lives and love were about to end. The ground beneath was to destroy everything that was gruelled with such huge efforts. Frightened, I looked at her to see her smile. We hugged and fell as one on the ground in front of his knees and soon the earth took us into her.

Emotions… they sculpted the very few moments of my life. I was the physical reaction to a man’s victory. I had boiled with pride, bathed in glory, ransacked in guilt, understood happiness, fell in love and attained eternity. As I look back, I am not greedy of a few more moments to live. No. I feel fulfillment.

Now, as I look below on the vast green fields which I soar over, I feel alive again. I turn to see her right next to me. The sky turns into a deep blue hue and the air is filled with the noise of roaring winds. As we start to fall, she holds my hand tight and we both start roaring, gleaming and bursting with joy. We have been born again in another place and at another time. Life would end soon but these feelings from our past present and future will stay unruptured by time.

The Dhaba

child labour

“One extra-spicy Schezwan fried rice” someone shouted from behind me. I had heard it perfectly yet my over-specific manager ran up to me and shouted the order again. It had been three days since I’d started working at this roadside restaurant, six days since my father had passed away and a month since I had been dismissed from school for not being able to pay my fees. My mother had been bed-ridden for as long as my memory extends and I have no siblings. But believe me, there are still more unfortunate people than myself. I atleast had a job.

“What are you looking at? Start cooking… can’t you see the customer waiting” my manager said, throwing a smile at the customer and a killer stare at me. I started preparing that all-so-important fried rice. Believe me, I hadn’t cooked before but learnt how to within the first day I started working here. I would probably attribute it to the push that if I didn’t learn, I would starve another day. Also, I needed money to pay for my mother’s medication.

I came out of the thatched roof under which I was cooking to serve the customer his dish. He started staring at me, then my manager and then back at me. I walked up to his table and kept the plate on his table. Just when I was about to turn, he caught hold of my wrist. “How old are you?” he asked. I didn’t know why he was asking my age. I turned to look at my manager who came running towards the table asking “Is anything wrong?” and turned to give me that killer stare again. My insides started churning with fear. “It’s nothing but tell me… how old is the boy?”

“What is your age?” he turned and asked me seeing that my manager wouldn’t answer. “I asked you a question!” he shouted and I squirmed. “Twelve years. I am twelve years old” I replied. “How dare you make such a young kid work in your kitchen!” he stood up and my manager sure looked intimidated. “Sir…”. “Don’t you know it is a crime? Would you make a child work just for your restaurant’s profit?” he asked. He pulled me and showed my hands to my manager. “Look. He has so many bruises and burns because of working here” He shouted and everyone had started to notice. My manager looked at me and said “Get inside” and I obeyed silently. I couched behind a mud wall and saw my manager trying to pacify the enraged customer. It soon seemed to me that the customer had calmed down.

After all the customers left, my manager called me out. “You needn’t come tomorrow. I had to endure all this just because you are working here. I will find someone else from tomorrow.” He gave me Thirty rupees. “Sir. Please sir. I am ready to even work over-time” tears started rolling down my face. I wanted the job badly. I had tried hard for three days to get this job and I wasn’t sure how long it would to find another. The house rent would be due another week, mom’s consultation in ten days. These thirty rupees weren’t enough. I cried, fell on his feet but he wouldn’t listen. He forced the money into my hand and walked away.

I came outside the restaurant and was sitting on the corner of the road, weeping at how I would go home and face my mother. “Hey you. Why are you crying?” a middle aged man walked towards me and sat next to me. He kept patting my back as I told him my entire story. “Hmm. That’s sad. How about I give you a job. Are you interested?” he asked. I glowed with happiness and replied “I will do anything”. “Come with me”. He took me to a house and we sat behind the stone wall around it. “My legs are hurt. Can you jump over this wall?” he asked. “Yes I can” and before I could realise it, I was on the other side of the wall. “Get inside the house. The second room to your left. I will give you the key to the locker I that room. All you have to do is to empty the jewellery and money from that locker into this bag.” he threw a bag which landed on my head and I found the key inside it. I didn’t want to steal. I sat there waiting.

“What are you thinking about? I will pay you one thousand rupees. Just be quick with it” He said. Money drove me and I came back with all the jewellery and money that I could find. He handed me a thousand rupee note from within the bag and asked if I wanted to do it again. I had never seen a thousand rupee note before. I wondered how much I could do with this money and a sudden “yes” escaped my mouth. He asked me for my address and left. There I stood, transformed into a thief.

Thousand rupees. That thousand rupees note has landed me here. I looked around at the freshly whitewashed walls that made my cell. The wet air around with the smell of self-hatred that I was emanating made me feel nauseated. I lost my mother, lost my livelihood… lost everything. Who was truly responsible? Was it the twelve year old me? Was it the man with the hurt leg? Or was it really the customer who wanted to HELP me by making me jobless and desperate for money? I stared at the white ceiling above me being sure that these questions would haunt me forever.

Alpenglow

It was unbelievably cold. The icy breeze hit my spine like sharp needles trying to penetrate my skin. My legs were so sore that it made me question if I could actually feel them. The wariness in every muscle of my body was so evident. My lungs had grown impatient and refused to do their routine expansion and contraction. I could feel my brain begging so deeply, asking me for just a moment’s rest. Yet my soul burst with happiness and love. I could roar… shout in happiness. I was on top of the world. This time quite so literally I was.

The horizon or more so, everywhere that my tired eyes could expand its vision was pure white. The sound of silence from the valley beneath was deafening. The combined breathing of my trekking team, the gush of ice-cold wind and the sound of my heartbeat saved my ears from blowing up. I sat on the earth beneath that was covered with snow as soft as freshly mowed grass. Staring beyond yonder, at the majestic view, I was overwhelmed with a forlorn dream to fly over this ancient land. A driving urge to gaze over this world from a greater height. Driven by ambition or by mere greed I was not sure. I am a man too after all.

I shouldn’t lie… the surreal thought of being above all, even above the world ran through my mind. I soon shrugged when a hand lay on my shoulder. “Have this” she handed me a bowl of soup and a protein bar. All this was her plan. “Where do you want to go for our honeymoon” I had asked and she had replied “Mt. Everest. Kabir I always have…” she started to explain and I lied “I have too!”. I was… well I am in love with her and would go to any extent just to see her smile. I grabbed the bowl of soup just as she sat next to me. She was as tired as I felt but I had never seen her face glow as it did then.

“Kabir” she called out and as I turned towards her, she kissed me. Our first kiss after marriage. Just as we parted, our guide called out from behind “We have to leave right away”. We both stood up dusted the snow from our jackets. I carried my backpack and we turned to leave. Just then, as I turned to have my last glimpse at that divinity, the sun rose from the skyline and turned everything into a godly orange. The snow reflected that bright orange light and I called out “Nikita” as she turned to see that marvel. She ran towards me and I held her close by her waist. After taking a long deep breath, she whispered “I love you”. I turned to look at her gleaming with joy and smiled. “I love you too”.

I Don’t

Marriage

Marriage is a common dream. The perfect moment where we are expected to find happiness… To feel content that the person standing opposite or next or sitting elsewhere is the one we’ve been waiting for all these years. There are age old dogmas which run in our society and the idea of marriage is one among them. Sure, it would have been the best practice years ago. But to keep following the same institution of marriage without posing questions about its practices in this era of enlightenment is a mistake.

There is a common tenet to exert dominance- both physical and sexual over a married woman by her husband. Sexual independence is only a dream to many women who feel bereft of having control over their own body. A UN survey says that 2/3 of married women are victims of marital rape. Marital rape is not an easy concept to be understood by many so to explain what it means, marital rape is when a married woman is physically or sexually abused by her husband without her consent.

Our society has been for long, driven by the idea of transaction that marriage also is being looked at as one. Matrimony is often seen as the transaction of ownership from the bride’s family to the groom. With such a transaction and signing of agreement, it is felt that open consent is given to dominate the woman involved and to reach any extent to implicate animalistic torture over her. Because naturally, she has been portrayed as a property according to this practice. There is a fault in the way people perceive marriage. It has shifted from the combination of hearts leading to asserting and establishing love for each other, to a menial idea of open and always available medium for sex.

The awareness about marital rape is so minimal that most women think of it to be a general practice. It is looked upon as a part in the process of getting married. The doctrine of ‘Pathi-Parameshwar’, wherein servitude to one’s husband is paramount is repulsive and to explain against it would only end futile. But how long can someone bear to stand such a torture. Stress after marriage increases abruptly for women due to various reasons, ill-treatment being the first. This is why as per another study, every six hours a married woman is forced to commit suicide.

She walked down the aisle, bursting with smiles. The veil and her bonnet combined couldn’t contain the outburst of joy on her face. He stood there, the guy who would spend eternity with her. He smiled too. She stepped onto the altar and looked at him. He was handsome, well built… a fine lad. She felt glee… Happiness attributed to the content that her parents have done enough justice to the belief she had in them- to have found her the perfect groom. Everything around her was pure magic and she felt ecstatic that this moment was just as she had dreamt. Perfect. All this to get beaten up, tortured, assaulted and feel deprived? Sounds wrong doesn’t it? Well, what is more wrong is that marital rape is not an offence punishable by law according to the Indian Penal Code.

It states that marital rape can only be punishable if the victim is under 16 years of age when the legal age for a woman to get married is 18. Such an age old legislation that is not even under consideration to be altered withal the idea of suppression leads to a situation where many cries of women have gone unheard of. The reason stated for not changing law with respect to this aspect, the reply given was that it would “weaken the institution of marriage”. Well if reporting marital rape would weaken it, I am startled if it was believed that upholding sexual assault would strengthen matrimony.

Well, what is more wrong is that marital rape is not an offence punishable by law according to the Indian Penal Code.

We all talk about ‘Mardaani’ and about how cool it is to be manly. Is it manly to assault and torture one’s wife for something as futile as sex? Is the woman you married just an instrument for pleasure and isn’t her respect supposed to be your priority? Is a woman supposed to be servile or is her life just to please you? Every woman has a say on everything that concerns her. Her body, soul and mind are hers alone and she has total independence over them just as anyone should. Anything apart from that independence is a violation that should be curbed for if a woman is not safe at home, how will she feel safe elsewhere?

So, if she consented to the marriage saying “I Do”, know that the “I Do” is not for anything and everything that is to follow.