Monday, February 27, 2006

Updated: Blog-a-thon 2006: Tainted?

Papa called her bahadur beta. Mummy called her sher.

But when she stepped out, where did her Mummy's sher beta run off to? For she no longer felt like she was brave.

How could she? They never let her- no, not since she had started to grow up.

Intelligent,sensitive,shy,- read her report cards. But when she walked past them she felt like the figures in her Biology textbook.

She felt she was the girl in those pictures. Naked. Exposed. Her privates labelled out with large arrows so no one would miss them.

Nothing else was brought into focus. No one labelled her smile as sweet. Or her eyes as twinkles in the amavas night. Or how her broad forehead certainly betrayed her quiet intelligence. They didn't want to know what she liked. Who she was. They didn't even want to know her name.

She was nameless, just a pair of breasts and ass and that was enough for them.Clearly labelled for all to see. By Them.

Like the girl in those pictures. Ch-13- Reproductive System.

She showered each day, twice, like good Brahmin children. She still felt filthy.

Their roving eyes cast black over body. No not like soot, which came off with a slight wipe off a wet finger. Like artificial colours of Holi, unnatural, impure- clinging to the skin , that a few hard scrubs couldn't take off.

Neither could Lux nor Dove. Nor Nirma nor Surf.

Industrial detergents only burnt that offensive skin. But it would grow back, fresh for countless coats of humiliation brushed on with fervour by those who unclothed her daily.

Their glances suffocated her in a sea of black ink- like the voter's dot on the index finger, hard to see and hard to clean.

Surely Eve must have lived even if Mummy had said no. She thought she must have, for she was Eve every day. Impure, unclean.Damned until her flesh withered away.

So she removed herself from that body. The body that brings in so much pain, humiliation and shame. The body that was brushed by 'accidently'. That was felt on crowded buses. That was smacked in throngs of people in the bazaar.

"No this body can't be mine", she thought, "Which is unclothed by their eyes everytime I pass by. Unclothed against my will. Unclothed when I thought these layers, metres of cloth, without form or attraction, could hide this body of mine. This body that becomes part of public, to be seen, felt, used to suit whosoever wishes to. Will this body ever be only mine?"

She was Papa's bahadur beta and Mumma's sher.

But if she was brave, then why did she die everytime they saw her?

But if she was a sher, why did she feel hunted,why was she the prey?

Men are individuals with free will. Excercise it- control your actions.
A woman's body is hers and only hers alone- not one to be treated as part of public property.
Street harassment is a crime.
Update: While I avoided writing a personal account /testimony of street harassment, for those memories come with their share of pain, humiliation and helplessness, Annie didn't and I think those who questioned the 'purpose' of this blog-a-thon might want to read it.
If nothing else you'd see how women are made to depend on men, why we cannot be alone, why we need separate lines and compartments. And if nothing else, you can remind yourself to not brush away our pain, our humiliation. To not brush us off as weak.
Lastly, I'd like to add, this isn't restricted to India. I experienced it first-hand in the Middle East.
Afterall, geography doesn't limit a man's ability to be an asshole.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Speak up

Blank noise project, this noble and much-needed awareness campaign, urges you to contribute to the 2006 Blog-a-thon on your views, testimonies, opinions and thoughts on street harassment/eve teasing.

I sincerely hope men out there would participate in this as well. If you don't have a blog, you can always show your support through comments guys.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The italics are from a hymn I heard many years ago sung in a Church -their devoted passion and longing in their voice I shall never forget.


His words echoed in her ears. She looked away as tears threatened to spill.
She didn't want to be there, in that hallway, exposed, infront of him. She wanted to be away. Away . Away from here.

"Save me from the future........"

She ran. Faster than her legs could carry. The people in the hallway became a blur, his voice calling out to her became distant. The gates of where she thought life would begin anew.

"O Father, I call out to you...."

She ran. Past the church where she had once found her refuge. Past the hymns she sang in the choir every morning before class.

She ran. Past the trees, the roads, the malls, the city.

" Take me back in time...."

She ran. Past the people, their lies, his deceit.

Past their bodies writhing together when she returned home.
Past the loneliness, past the humiliations.

" For I weep for your love....."

Her heart rang in her ears, her blood pressed against her skin, red, angry.
She ran to where she wanted to be. To where she belonged.

"Set me free O Father ...."

She flew into the air, past humanity, past this life. Away from what had broken her.
She flew past it all , and to where she belonged.

To her mother she extended her arms. And the ocean embraced its child.

Where He had placed his seed, in the womb of where life had been born. From where she had risen.

Deeper and deeper, to the bottom of the floor, her Mother cloaked her with Her midnight blue waves. She stormed at the agony of her child, splashing angry waves far and wide to the shores of those two legged creatures that wounded Her child.

The waters listened to her tears, as she sat and sobbed amidst them- the salt of her tears becoming theirs. Her sorrows bubbled to the surface and flew into the air.

Away from her.

This was where she belonged.

"Save me from the future
O Father I call out to you
I weep for your love
Set me free O Father ...."

Monday, February 20, 2006


Rummaging through her handbag- Christian Dior from Hongkong or Singapore? she couldn't remember- she sighed as she spotted the transfers in side.

Transit transfers ,valid for 2 hours- until they rip you again for another ride to another intersection crowded with piles of snow, black ice and footprints.

"Someday", she thought to herself, "it shall not be transfers but sweet-everythings that shall crowd my handbag, and p'haps some short words of passion".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Silverframed Photograph

A silverframed smiling photograph atop a walnut side table. Odd trinkets from various travels.
Two tickets to Singapore lying by.

A suitcase with its lid open.

Neatly folded piles of clothing. Light pink, light yellow, powdery blue, shadowy lavender. Matching petticoats and blouses. Yardley's talcum powder amidst a pile of cotton sarees.
A box of threptin and several presents. Some wrapped, some waiting.

Excitement in the air. Sweets in mithai boxes. From Aggarwal's, Haldiram's and other modern halwai stores sans the vest, the dhoti and customary enormous potbelly.

Last minute phone calls. Gudiya's 3 year old chirpy voice. To inform she shall be waiting at the airport with her teddy bear.

Giggles, soft smiles and eager hearts. A new camera- Sony cybershot 5.1, their anniversary present from the NRI son. Packed to bring back a stack of new photo albums.

The chatter mutes. The flurried activity freezes.

The suitcase lies forgotten. Clothes lay in abandon. An array of medicines turned into spider-web grounds.

A silverframed smiling photograph on a wall. A garland of flowers atop it all.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Nayan-tara- Part 1

He entered their bedroom and smiled at her. Her days had become quiet and, surprisingly enough, blissful. She never thought she'd have enjoyed her maternity leave as much. But it sure felt good to rest those swollen feet. And have the washroom by her side for those emergencies the baby must get a kick out of.

Ah. The Baby.

"I rather like this name for our boy", he said pointing to a newspaper clipping of one Arihant Sinha.
She smiles back -he understands she likes the name as well. But she smiles again looking at his pleased look thinking, ".... it'll be a girl, isn't that so baccha?", she said to her belly in her mind.

She liked this unspoken communication with the Baby, as though the placenta linked their minds. For the Baby did understand. Oh yes she did- sometimes she'd create quite a fuss when upset, leading to one of those rushed washroom affairs. Or she'd kick up in delight or agreement.

But today it was time for a story. The Baby knew, for it was her mother's blood that ran through her. The Baby knew her mother's heart very well now, for it wasn't just their minds, but their hearts too were linked.

As one's blood kept the other's heart alive. And her love in that blood which kept her warm.

So the Baby waited patiently, knowing Mumma wanted to share something. And share she did.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Once more

I sit by this tree, huddled under its crimson shade and I wonder.

I wonder where you are.

I hope you are not in a Heaven, where you’ve been promised other women and not me. For I cannot see you with another. If you shall sin, it shall be with me and none other. Like we did not too long ago. Because being sinners together was meant to be.

I hope you haven’t attained Moksha, for then I shall never be with you again. I like myself entangled in these earthly ties. I don’t want salvation from that which gave me you. For without Moksha, we are certainly promised several births.

And in all of them, you shall be mine.

I sit by this tree, huddled under its crimson shade and I wish.
I wish for one moment more.

Like the many we had not many dawns before.

And yet, I do not feel you are away, sweetheart. Maybe you are right here. For I feel your eyes follow me. For I feel your smile when I see myself. For I feel you in this breeze that stays with me.

For I haven’t stopped feeling loved.

Maybe you are here. Waiting for me as I live each day. Waiting for me till my last breath. And then we shall leave. To wherever we are meant to be. To where others await us.

And there, we shall be One.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Winter Winds

Sometimes when the winds blow savagely, I feel they will uproot my house and the city and we shall be left with a vast unending barren land.

Just the snow, the winds and loneliness.