Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Stare back

Disclaimer: I am no feminist. I have never been very outspoken against male chauvinism, against their false sense of entitlement just because they possess a particular organ women don’t, against the ills that are meted out to women in our patriarchal setup, and against the atrocities which befall a number of women from varied walks of life across our country.

And, I bitterly regret the fact.

Being a dilliwallah since my birth, when my mom carried me over as a newborn from St. Stephen's Hospital at Tis Hazari to our Rohini home, I am proud to belong to the capital. Yet, sometimes, when I look at the worst kind of human beings possible sharing my city space, I cannot help curb the fury of hatred that seethes inside me. I cannot help recalling that it is because of them that my city has been dubiously branded the most unsafe city for women in India.

Alluding to the heinously barbaric Dec 16 gang rape of 2012 simply to be on the same page as you, I narrate a little, perhaps seemingly insignificant instance of harassment in the Delhi Metro. It is no big deal in itself; most of the women who commute by the Metro have faced numerous such incidents, but, it opened my eyes to some of my own weaknesses, and I am sharing this so you can overcome yours, too.

Nine o’ clock on the Monday morning of 20th July, when the Delhi University had opened its gates to the under graduates across various streams, I happened to board the Metro's yellow line to Vishwavidyalya.

A punctuality freak through and through, I wanted to reach my 9.35 lecture before time, so I caught the train Metro just as it was about to shut its doors to the hapless, and found myself in the last coach of the eight coach train.

With earphones plugged in to block the unwanted sounds of my surroundings, I remember having wished I had something to block unwanted stares, too. I was wearing a knee length denim capri and the 25 or so year old man in impressive formals had perhaps never seen one before. His eyes were glued to me as if I was the only other person inside that super crowded compartment.

And, he wouldn't stop staring. I am no stunner- an ordinary five feet tall 20 years old who wears specs and no makeup, not even a touch of gloss on her lips. It made me pretty uncomfortable, though such instances are as regular as a sunny day in June.

I avoided his gaze and looked down at my feet. Something about him freaked me out and I chose to ignore the entire situation, like most girls. Meanwhile, he continued to ogle.

Just then, a switch clicked at the back of my mind and I realized I was not the one at fault there. It was my city, my Metro and I had every god damned right to travel in any coach I desired, reserved or not. The city had been mine for the past 20 years and I wasn't relinquishing my rights to unwarranted shame on my part, and unwarranted shamelessness on that asshole's. 

I unplugged my ear phones, welcoming the sounds. I adjusted my specs and lifted my gaze. Then, I stared right back at the idiot, with five times more intensity, if I could supply an approximate measure. He hesitated and averted his gaze. I kept staring right at him. A few seconds later, when he looked back again, my eyes were still burning with indignation. I was so enraged that if I had a gun in my hand, and knew how to shoot, perhaps I wouldn't have given a second thought to pulling the trigger. Perhaps he got the message I had intended for him. Because, as I continued to stare as shamelessly as he had done, he got up, sacrificing his seat and moved back, hiding behind others at the other end of the coach.

I sighed with relief.

It was the very least I could do. It is the very least we all should do.

Because, sometimes, being afraid isn’t an option. Sometimes, turning a blind eye is not the solution. Sometimes, you simply have to stare back. So, ladies, next time if somebody tries to stare you down, stare back. Stare till you convince them of your not-so-healthy murderous intentions. Stare till they give up. Stare back.

And, to be safer when outside the Metro, carry a pocket knife and a pepper spray. Just don’t carry your fear along. Stare back, and give them the dirt they deserve.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Breaking Up!

I have been happier since we broke up. Trust me; I am not lying.

There is no longer the pressure of waking up every morning to look at your face and trace the stories it tells, of the day before. I don’t have to worry about how you have been; there is no mad rush of anticipation for what the day might bring for us. I do not expect, and am not disappointed. It’s a relief to be free again. Thank you!

I do not have to let my coffee go cold while I tend to your needs of being heard. And, you know what, my mornings are more peaceful and relaxed, now that we no longer share what we once did. To be honest, I was getting fed up of all your cribbing and whining.

I do not deny that you made me wiser, more intelligent, and more open-minded. You helped me grow, enriching me with words I was too young to learn, exposing me to worlds I was too naïve to fathom alone. I became a new person altogether, because of you.

But, I have been happier since you have gone.

I guess I had become too dependent on you and had begun too care far too much. I had begun to believe everything you told me, without verifying it for myself and without realizing that you told the same things to so many, simultaneously. I was never your only love. And, I couldn’t bear that, possessive that I am.

But, all that is past, now. You have so many others to look after you and listen to all you have to say, with a patience I was too impatient to possess.

I agree I have begun to lose perspective of things ever since we split our ways, but I have gained insights into myself that I couldn’t, with you. I no longer have to be available to you; all my time is mine, now! It is liberating.

They are right when they advise us to move on when relationships begin to hurt, and not heal.
I am happier, now. And, I believe, you are indifferent. That works well for both of us, doesn’t it?
So, I will sign off. It’s not my attempt at getting back! It’s just a thank you note and a forgiveness note and a farewell note, not that you need it, but, still! J

Dear Newspaper,
I have been happier since we broke up. Perhaps we could make it work sometime in the near future, when you have happiness to share, instead of sorrow. Till then, I will take your leave! Take care.
No Longer Yours,

Thursday, 2 July 2015

My Kind of People

This piece is for all of you out there who mean the world to me. I am pretty sure I have told you how much you matter to me and how much I love you and how grateful I am that our paths cross. But, I am equally certain that I have hurt you, angered you, worn you down at least some time with the overbearing, dominant, possessive, unreasonable and rude character I periodically become.

So, this is an effort to apologize and to let you know I love you, even if I sometimes push you away :)

Thanks for being here, despite everything.

My kind of people:

The kind who will take the pains to actually open the link and read this ramble, despite being aware of the nonsense that sometimes comes tumbling out of my mouth, and of course, pen (keyboard, if you must!).

The kind who won't give up on me. And who will keep propelling me on and on and on till I finally manage to make it to wherever I need to.

The kind who care to call, and not just on birthdays. The kind who are unlike me, when it comes to making the effort to stay in touch; the kind who know magically when I am hurting.

My kind of people. The kind who will stay up at night if I don't sleep- when I am out, when I am down and needless to say, when I am down and out.

The kind who are kind to me, despite the staggering intensity of my stupidity, despite knowing that I invariably mess things up. The kind who continue to bless me with the honour of their faith, despite having been hurt.

The kind of people who believe I am more than the sum of my parts.

My kind of people.

The kind who will turn off the ignition at a long traffic light and roll down the windows to buy a flower or a balloon or a dysfunctional, cheap Chinese toy just because it helps somebody smile. The kind who believe in the good that the world has to offer; the kind who aren't afraid of being cheated upon- my kind of idealists.

The kind of people who will pose with me for pictures, no matter how messed up they are, inside; the kind who hug me despite having a million reasons not to; the kind who love without agenda.

My kind of people, who I can take to the gurudwara and sit with, in silence, for hours, without the need to make polite conversation; the kind I can talk to, late into the night; the kind I can contemplate the universe with.

The kind who won't judge but simply listen to my same old whines about the same old problems; the kind who type okay instead of OK in their texts; the kind who care for grammar, or if not, for feeling.

The kind who laugh and make me laugh till I am laughing so hard that my eyes have to cry; the kind I can cry with over the tiniest of issues- runny nose and blotchy cheeks and hoarse voice notwithstanding.

My kind of people. 

People who will clink their glasses of coke with mine and shout cheers, forgetting every misery they are plagued with, if only for a moment; the kind who won't withdraw from a hug unless I do; the kind who lift me up, whether I am down or not.

The kind who won't leave, because they know it will break me; the kind who will stay and the kind who make life tolerable and sometimes, even happier because of their presence.

You are all my kind of people.
You are all my best kind of people. 

I just wanted you to know that. 
But of course, I know you aready knew! Didn't you? ;)