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Value Your Daughter to Avoid Rape

Every time  rape happens, first question is about the woman’s character. Does a loose character woman (Whatever that is supposed to mean) have no rights??? Have no self-respect?? Have lost all the rights to her body ?? Have no dignity ?? Have lost all the say in the matters regarding herself??

What defines a woman’s character??

Is it the clothes she wears???

Is it her friends, she hangs around with??

Is it her profession, which at times may require her to spend crazy hours at office?

Is it her idea of having fun??? She might want to dance and drink at times??

Is it her free spirit?? She likes interacting with new people, she is an extrovert?

Is it her determination to put her career first??

Is it her strong determination to find her identity in the world?

What defines it?? And who defines it??

A woman can be any of character, but she still has a say, nobody can accost her without her will.

Bad character, loose character are definitions designed by patriarchal society to keep woman in control, in limitations. It is the way of dominating.

Rape is beyond physical exploitation, it’s a way of asserting power, superiority. It is way of telling woman that they are lesser being and can be controlled, manipulated, exploited physically and mentally. And this will continue to happen till the time society changes its attitude towards girls.

When girls are seen at par with boys, things will start changing.

When girl’s education is given equal importance, things will start changing.

When girls are trained mentally and physically to take care of themselves, things will start changing.

When girls are seen as financial strength rather than burden on the family, things will start changing.

When girls stand up for their rights, things will start changing.

When girls starts supporting their family, things will start changing.

The problem lies with every single family in our country. It has to be addressed at very micro level. Attitude towards girls need to change. They have to be accepted in the society for what they are and have to be given respect. It’s not something which can be handled by government alone, laws can be made to punish the culprit but that’s only after much damage would have happened to somebody.

The government can punish the culprit but it’s the people who are creating them. And it’s happening in most of the families, knowingly or unknowingly.

Change will come, when people change. You and I change, and force people around us to change! 

Brave and Beautiful

Standing at 5.5’’ she was a vision in pale yellow kurta salwar, it’s one of my earliest memories of Doon. There are very few people in the world whose beauty and charm can have lasting impression on you, she was one of them. She was kind, subtle, graceful and beautiful. There was sense of calm to her which you can only have, when you are truly comfortable being you. If anybody can do justice to all the coconut / almond oil commercials, it was her. She had long, dense, lustrous, jet black hair right down to her waist. And when she walked, they bounced with happiness. There was permanent smile on her face, which moved effortlessly to her eyes. She was a vision to eyes and soul!

It was the time, we used to live in different states. Little did I know then, that in the future we will share the same house. She moved to Delhi and we moved in together. We spent more then a decade in the same house and she remianed as beautiful and graceful as she was ever.

 

Much time has passed since then, life has moved to a different dimension. What define beauty is, it’s ability to stand the test of time. What define a person is, his/her ability to stand the test of life. She was always beautiful but today she is an epitome of beauty and strength as she looses her long, lustrous, jet black hair to radiation fighting brain tumour with a smile on her face, which still reaches her eyes.

We all know she is beauty made of steel and will come out of it stronger and better then ever.

Kamna. Beauty and grace with resolve of steel, which no destiny can beat!

 

Living the Romance

 

Sun is setting across the ocean. Sky is a melange of varied intensity of red, orange, pink blue colour. Waves are gently caressing the shore and  merging back into the ocean, where they belong. Wind is gentle and warm. I have just arrived in the Tanjung Rhu resort on Langkawi Islands, soaking in this breath-taking view from the lobby which opens to the ocean.

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The ocean is calling, I walk to the bar, pick up a glass of Bordeaux and start walking on the endless pristine white beach which now is changing colours in coordination with sky. I take my flip-flop out and start walking bare foot, waves lovingly stroking my feet, my blue dress is swelling because of wind and is getting soaked in water, it doesn’t care. It seems to be happy with the light playful touch of the wind. My lips are singing in joy as red wine kisses them warmly. My body sparkling as the gentle wind is drying the sweat off. I am feeling heady walking into the beautiful unknown. Some where far, somebody is playing, Claude Debussy, ‘Clair de lune’ on the piano. The sound is sugar to my ears and is taking me to a far off fantasy land where the world is at peace and there is romance in everything!

When are you really alone?

When are you really alone?

When people leave you?

When faith leave you?

When excitement leave you?

When belief leave you?

When ambition leave you?

When dream leave you?

Or

When hope leave you?

When are you really alone?

People can be substituted.

Faith can be rebuilt.

Excitement can be achieved again through different means.

Belief can be aggregated.

Ambition can be restored.

Dream can be renewed.

But how do you get hope back??? What does it take ?

Love!

Love is a very tricky business.

It happens when you least expect it.

It happens with whom you don’t expect.

It is confusing.

It is killing.

It is devastating at times.

It is divine.

It is liberating.

It is exhilarating at times.

It breaks you, but it makes you.

Love is a very tricky business !!

Angels Are Not In Heaven, They Are Around You!

It was pouring last night. Rain drops were filtering through the palm leaves and falling on the dry concrete land. At a distance some where, koel was calling out to her partner, weather was romantic, moon was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the breeze was making soothing sound. When the weather is so fine you must enjoy it outdoor, so we took umbrellas to guard ourselves from the rain and walked out on the road. Humans are strange beings, we want to enjoy the nature but on our own terms. We want to enjoy the rain but not get wet.

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While we were walking and talking, we saw a man walking his dog in the rain. A closer look and I identified him as my neighbour who was walking his dog, Brisky, in the rain. We approached each other and I jokingly asked him, if has got caught in the rain unexpectedly. His reply surprised me, he said, he walks Brisky out every day after her dinner because she suffers from arthritis and walk is good for her. Helps her deal with the pain. I further asked him, why was he getting drenched and walking without umbrella. He replied, because Brisky is getting wet in the rain so he cannot be using umbrella. He feels bad about it.

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It’s so easy to not bother about other’s comfort. It’s easy to provide comfort to others. But it takes a lot of unconditional, pure love to give up your own comfort for others. Men like Shibu, my neighbour, are rare but I am glad I know one!

Pained and Irrational Me

Traffic signal was turning orange, I stepped on accelerator to cross the signal before it turned red. I missed it by nick of time. Impatient, restless as I am, turned the volume up to the maximum while I waited for the signal to turn green again.

A face appeared on the side window, she knocked on the window glass with quivering hands. I don’t give alms to beggars but she was not begging. She looked like a dignified lady, she was selling ‘agarbattis/essence stick’ on the Chirag Delhi traffic signal. It was late in the night, she was probably trying to make last sale of the day. I rolled the window down and bought a box of agarbattis.

When I bought them, I didn’t know if they will ever be used. Unfortunately, they were lit  in front of my father’s photograph, the very next day.

I still cross that signal often. That lady still sells agarbattis there. For very long, I didn’t look at her to avoid evil omen. I was too sacred to look at her, it wasn’t her fault but how do you convince a grieving heart.

Time has healed the wounds. I am not scared of her anymore but I still don’t have courage to buy agarbattis from her. I don’t think, I can ever be that brave.

First Salary. First Learning.

I don’t read newspaper.

I didn’t read it back then. It depresses me to read so much negativity.

Sitting on my terrace, sipping early morning tea, 15 years back, I flipped the page of ‘Times Of India’. I don’t remember why, but I did. In the middle, on the double spread was a Samsung mobile phone advertisement. I clearly remember it was a silver colour mobile phone, you could flip it open from the centre.

I was fresh in college and the mobile phone was new to the world and were very expensive. Those days, even incoming calls were charged for Rs 32 per pulse. So it was just not the handset, keeping a phone was exorbitant. There were only 3 players in the market – Airtel, Hutch and BSNL/MTNL. Idea, Reliance, Aircel was yet to venture. Hutch was yet to be bought over by Vodafone. Mobile phone had a flaunt value since only few carried it.

None of my family members had mobile phone. I had not thought of buying it either till the time I saw that advertisement. There was something about that phone that was calling out to me. Mesmerised, I asked my father to buy me that phone.

My father looked at me and said,

‘If you need that phone, you have to earn it.’

I was per perplexed, I was 18, how will I earn such an expensive phone. I had never worked in my life. So I asked my father,

‘I don’t know what to do to make that kind of money. I am under graduate, unskilled, who will employ me? How will I earn money?’

He explained, ‘If you need things in your life, you have to work hard and find a way to make money, so you can afford what you want.’

That made sense to me but I was still direction less. How will I make Rs 16000 ??? It was a lot of money.

I wanted the phone. It had casted a spell on me, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was ready to work for it, I just didn’t know what to do to earn money.

Then one day, while walking through Bhikaiji Came Place in New Delhi, I saw an advertisement pasted on the wall of Hyatt Regency. They were looking for interns for some job. Since I had little knowledge about anything, I don’t clearly remember for what exact profile they were looking for.

The phone was on my mind so I applied. I filled the form, pasted my picture and dropped it in their office. A week later, I got a call for an interview. I appeared and was selected for the front office job.

Excited I went home and informed my parents about it. Hearing that, they were shell-shocked. They had bigger dreams for me and here I was wanting to work in a hotel for a phone. They didn’t say anything negative. They were more in wait and watch mode.

I worked for a month and got  Rs 12000 as salary. It was a big amount for that time for a 18-year-old undergraduate. I took the money home and gave it to my mother, she returned it back to me and happily asked me to do whatever I wanted to do with it.

I was still short of Rs 4000 which meant I had to work more.

As I was walking out of the house to meet up with my friends, my father called me and handed me Rs 4000 and told me to buy the phone. I didn’t understand why would he do that since now I was working and I could very well afford it in another month’s time.

He said, ‘I was wanting you to understand the value of money, nothing comes easy and nothing comes free. You have to work for it. And since you have understood that you don’t need to work  for money, any more. You should focus on your studies.’

I quit my job the very next day and went straight to Karol Bagh market to buy the phone.

Years have passed but his words are still fresh in my mind. After that, I have never ever asked for money from anybody in my life. I know, I have to earn it!

Gentleman

Couple of months back, on the very narrow Narullahali road, I met with an accident.

The road is so narrow that it can barely take traffic running in both the directions. At places, where unplanned farm houses and school emerges, it gets further tight. On one not so fortunate day, I was driving at the speed of 30-40 km/hr , I was to take the right turn and park the car in front of the school. So I indicated, and was moving the steering towards right, when a biker came zipping from nowhere and banged into my car from the right side. His bike skid on the road, he went flying in the air and landed right in the front of car tyres. I was fortunate and quick enough to apply brakes on time to save his and my life. I got out of the car and ran to help him. He was lying in pain. The guard of the school also ran and helped the gentle man get on his feet. We seated him on the chair and started inspecting his bruises. The guard ran to get first aid and a glass of water for him, while I waited with him,

‘Is it hurting anywhere’. I enquired.

He didn’t reply, he touched his elbow and looked in pain. The skin was peeled from being scratched on the road. He was bleeding.

‘Can I apply ointment here.’ I pointed to the elbow.

He nodded. I did.

He still had his helmet on. I asked him to remove it. He was unable to do so, as his hand was hurting. So, I did it for him.

‘Is it hurting anywhere else?’

He didn’t reply. He touched his back.

I lifted his shirt slightly, he was hesitant so I backed off and asked the guard to check.

Since he landed on his right side, his skin from that side was peeled. He was bruised badly and bleeding.

The guard applied ointment.

We was panting because of the accident and heat, so we asked  him to rest for some time.

Meanwhile a small crowd had gathered, one Ola driver, one auto rickshaw driver, one passer-by, another biker, the school teacher and one of the waiting parents have come out and was witnessing the event.

The guy though in pain was sitting calmly on the chair and resting before he could continue on his journey.

In our country, everybody likes to meddle in other’s business. So the crowd contributed.

The Ola driver, in authoritative tone,

‘Madam, you should be careful’

The Auto driver, in angst,

‘You were taking the turn, it is your fault.’

The passer-by, said something in Kannada. From his tone I knew, it’s not good.

The fellow biker, was trying to know what was the damage to the bike. Not to the guy.

I ignored all, and was focusing on the guy who was hurt.

The auto driver came towards us and started speaking rudely in Kannada, language I don’t understand.

I looked for translator to understand what his problem was since it was not his concern.

The guy with all the pain, bruises and hurt chipped in.

‘He is saying, I should go to hospital with you and make you pay the bill.’

The Auto driver continued.

‘He is saying I should ask for money.’ translated the guy with all the bruises.

The aggression increased in his tone, I asked the guy, to ask the auto driver to mind his own business and shut up.

He did.

And after that people dispersed and went on their way.

I apologised profusely to the guy though I believed it was not my mistake.  But the guy was badly hurt and too much in pain, it was visibly from his face.

For the first time he spoke, directly to me,

‘It’s my fault, I was in hurry so I speeded though you were indicating, I thought I would make it.’

I am driving for last 15 years and not once anybody has been so honest in a situation like this. I was touched and even felt guilty that the accident happened with my car, while I was behind the wheels.

How you behave under stress defines who  you are. Most of the people crumble under the slightest of difficulty. It takes a man of great character to own up to his mistakes.

After five minutes, still in pain, he got up, thanked us and left. What a gentleman!

I regret not asking his name.

Brave Girls Are Not Born, They Are Made

I was 8 or 9, I don’t remember clearly, walking on the road in the friendly neighbourhood. Unaware that 2 guys who just drove past us had something in mind. They were teenagers on bike, they drove past us and took a you turn and came towards us, and groped me. I was shocked and stunned with their actions, I couldn’t move for few minutes. There action was so violent that it hurt my breast for days.

I went back home and told my cousin, who was older than me. She told me to ignore and be careful while walking on the road.

I was molested. Publically. I was asked to ignore.

The incident left a deep scar on my mind. As a result, every time I would see a biker or somebody coming on the scooter from the opposite side, I would fold my hands around my chest. Just to protect myself. It happened for years.

I was 10 or 12, reading in winter sun on our terrace. I suddenly noticed an old man appearing in the balcony of the house, which was in the back lane. Every time I was on the terrace, he was there. After few of these incidences I noticed he was doing something with his private part. I didn’t know what.

I told my cousin about it. She came to the terrace with me. I was told to avoid and not see in that direction.

I was molested on my own terrace. I was asked to ignore.

I was 14, travelling in the bus with my mother. It was crowded and we were standing with the crowd. Bus stopped, more people entered and I could feel somebody pushing his pelvis behind my back. I turned around to look, the guy pretended to look in all directions. It happened again and again during one hour of the trip.

I was molested in the bus. I ignored.

I was 17, travelling back from college to home in an auto. Few boys started following our auto. They were riding their bike matching with the speed of the auto, saying things I couldn’t understand. The auto driver parked the auto on the side, me still sitting on the back seat, pulled down the curtains. And started hurling abuses on the boys.

He came back, pulled the curtains up and told me in very authoritative tone to stay away from people like that. I didn’t even know who these guys were or what were they saying.

I was molested in the auto rickshaw by the bikers. Judged by the driver. I ignored both.

I was 22, in office. It was my first job, I was like any other peppy, bubbly, chirpy trainee. The head of the office would often ask me out for coffee, which I would politely refuse. On one of the occasions, when there was a big meeting being held, I was asked to call one of the senior most gentle man. As I went to call him, he held my hand and asked me to sit. I was offended and shocked. Despite of me showing displeasure, he didn’t let go off my hand for few minutes.

I was molested in my office. I ignored.    

And many such incidences have happened over the years ,which I was asked to ignore or I just ignored.

Why?? Why was I asked to ignore??

Why was I not told that next time you see that guy, note the number of his bike / scooter / car and call the police.

Why was I not told to raise the voice when I was manhandled publicly.

Why didn’t I raise my voice in the bus ??? in the office?? Why did I kept mum, why didn’t I speak up.

I, who is vocal, assertive most of the time and at times even aggressive, chose to stay quite about something which was crucial. Which was haunting and unacceptable. Which disturbed me so much that I kept thinking about it for days.

Why didn’t I stand up for myself. Why didn’t I take the bull by the horns.

Why???

As a child there are times, you don’t even know what’s happening with you. What you are told, is what you learn. I was told to ignore. Adjust. Accept it as a fait of a women. It’s easier to stay quite and move on. ‘Forget it’, as you are told.

It’s much harder to rise and fight for yourself, for your integrity, for your self-respect. I was told to walk easier and safer path. My psyche changed over the period of time and I learned to live with molestation.

There are millions like me who have learned to live with molestation. But I am glad things are changing, girls / women are coming out and speaking about it.

Things will change, slowly. But it will.

When Amaira, my daughter, was born I didn’t think or hope for her to crack IIT or AIIMS one day, that’s path left for her to choose. What I am going to provide her is self-assurance and mental strength to fight the world. Nobody and absolutely nobody will be able to mess with her. Equip her with right education and training to take on the civilised and not so civilised world.

I am sharing this, as I hope for all girls in the world to grow up as brave women!