Desert Lilies

  

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   The Sahara seemed endless. And here she was, on a desert trail, all alone – and looking for an answer.

She did leave her country alone, only to be joined by people once again; people of varying colors, people of varying nationalities, tourists and locals – Africa made everyone one. Sitting in the moving trailer on the never ending desert, she could recall the warmth of Africans at her arrival. They did not even know her. They rightfully set the pattern of acknowledgement and knowing – at that very moment, she was positive she could make it.

Being hosted by a family of seven, she felt overwhelmed at the kindness of them all, three men, two girls and the elderly couple. The youngest girl had signed up for a hosting programme and that is how she met them all. The Potters.

“Literally.”
She turned. It was James. The oldest Potter sibling, his untidy hair and glasses in all their glory.
“Hi.”

Shell shocked, she zoomed out of her day dream and took in her surroundings; trailer, desert and people. She was almost sure she had not seen James when she entered the trailer.

“James..what?”
“What am I doing here?”
“Uh..yes, yes! That!”
“You booked the safari from my computer. I saw how you were; could not resist to be by your side.”

She was clueless. She suddenly forgot how to speak. What language did she know?

Yes. She ran away from them, those problems. It was the family that was making her insane. Torturing, even. She felt amazed at how wretched her folks were. Living off their daughter’s finances…not that she minded. She didn’t know that, though.

Not until..

“Literally!”
She jumped. She searched his face for a while.

“I have a name, you know?”
“Literally, that is it!”
“James! Do not!”
“But that’s what you said to me the first time we met”, James was teasing her with a mischievous smile.
“That was different!”, she couldn’t stop laughing, “I have a name, refer to me by the same.”

“Well, I don’t know what it is. Enlighten me?”

There she was, in the middle of a desert. And not just any desert. Sahara.

That is when she saw it. Far away from their trailer, she saw a glistening clearing of tall trees and…was that water?”

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As they gathered speed towards the oasis, she replied –

“Lily. My name is Lily.”

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The Fads of Feminism

From the last few days, there has been a video doing the rounds on the Internet and going hopelessly viral. If you have not watched the video already you may do so here and then proceed with this post.

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This video talks about choice; more precisely, a woman’s choice. And nothing is really wrong with the choice of topic. The video directed by Homi Adajania stars ninety nine women along with Hindi film actress Deepika Padukone as the face of the video (also inclusive of hairstylist Adhuna Akhtar, actress Nimrat Kaur, deaigner Anaita Shroff Adajania, director Zoya Akhtar and film critic Anupama Chopra in glimpses) and these strong women express the essence of independence exercised by their very gender on the behalf of the women of this country. They voice the opinions of thousands of women who are compelled to live the life they presently live, the women who compromise every step of their choices and ambitions for their unsupportive families, the women who are forced to abandon all their dreams and not live for themselves even remotely. Given the present situation of women in India (rape cases every single day, eve teasing, molestation et cetera), the theme of the video showcases the action that a woman will not hesitate to take no more. And nothing is wrong with that as well. Yet, following are some points that I would point out as markers of the irrationality showcased by the video . I, as a matter of fact, am not impressed.

1. Sexual activities.
The video has blatantly highlighted the idea of sex and its relation to a woman’s choice.

“To marry or not to marry. To have sex before marriage, to have sex outside of marriage or not to have sex.”

I am in complete agreement with the aforementioned quote by Deepika Padukone, but only partially. To marry or not to marry is a personal choice, yes. To indulge into sexual activities before marriage, again, is a personal choice; also, to have sex at all or not is also a legitimate personal choice. Check. To have sex outside of marriage? In a largely monogamous Indian society (read: no offense to polygamous families, only stating facts) a video on women empowerment practically promotes infidelity, in all openness. Although it could be a different story altogether if your spouse is in agreement with this aspect of your ‘choice’, the Indian psyche does not usually accept such choices. Thus, this particular ‘choice’ was better put off than included in a video that apparently empowers women. A subjective message to all the young women who probably follow Deepika’s everything; even if she is acting it out. Rationally speaking, unless your partner supports you indulging into sexual activities with another man, we look for loyalty. Indians, stereotypically do. Most monogamous humans seek it. Take that.

2. Superiority Complex, much?

“My choice, to love a man, or a woman, or both. Remember, you are my choice. I am not your privilege.”

Acceptance of sexuality, regardless of the gender – is probably the most sensible issue promoted well with the theme of ‘choice’ in this video. The latter half?
In all exclusivity, this video was shot to promote and establish women empowerment; not superiority. Women > Men = Women Empowerment? Breach of modern feminism!

You do not put anyone down to empower yourself. I cannot say that you exist in my life because it is my choice to continue my social life inclusive of you; whatever happened to the essence of relationships?

3. Your size is not the concern.
It indeed is true that beauty and existence has no size; in this video it precisely means the same thing, giving hope to women on the heavier side that it is okay to not have a flat stomach, that it is okay to not have toned bodies; I do not possess the aforementioned ‘qualities’ myself, but I am healthy. Perhaps, it could have been highlighted that obesity shouldn’t be making anyone happy?

Majorly, Deepika talks about how size doesn’t matter. No, I am certainly not trying to say that “Gah. She has a great body and SHE is saying that?” She certainly is a fit woman, being a sportsperson and everything; my point here is that Deepika Padukone stars in an advertisement that promotes Kellog’s Special K which helps you achieve a ‘perfect waist’ in just two weeks. It probably is a good solution for people trying to get fit by losing necessary weight; but such contrast in promotion, Padukone? One needs to decide what they stand for when millions of young people are following everything you do.

4. Elitist outlook.
Unhooked brassiere and the freedom to wear what a woman wants is not exclusive to the urbane woman. There was no consideration of women from where majority of India comes from – the rural areas. A rural woman may not even embrace the idea of Western clothing (which is her choice, indeed), her social status and stand were not highlighted in the slightest; how is it possible to empower Indian women in general if only the lifestyles of urban women are promoted? Certainly an elitist outlook meant for the woman of the city, and that is my opinion of what I observed.

A glimpse or two of the actual ‘common’ woman in the video did not justify much of her problems, rather having sex or not was put up as a choice to be made, clothes were spoken of as statuses.

5. Modern feminism = Equality.
Several points in this video establish ‘choices’ that seem unsettling. Especially, the one that elaborates upon how it is a woman’s choice to have sex outside of marriage.

Imagine a similar video made by the many men of our country. Men from the cities, targeting fellow elites. And why not? Are not men being victims of domestic violence? Are not men being victims of fake and illegitimate rape cases? Are not men being victims of social injustices in matriarchal societies? The immeasurable amount of outrage that would have been encountered throughout the nation would have been unimaginable and I believe that my rational Indian readers will know that.  But then again, what about feminism? Does not the modern interpretation emphasize on feminism being a movement to achieve gender equality? It would have been completely alright of men to have made a short film on the lines of the Vogue Empower campaign, then.

Also, if the spirit of a woman can never be brought down; then why is the video being narrated by a talented actress who sounds like the advocate of millions of oppressed women? The reality is not reflected appropriately, and again – that is my opinion.

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Conclusion
         
          The essence of this video is very overwhelming  because we all understand the point behind this video, even with its flaws. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to attend the TEDx talk held in my college and Priya Tanna, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue India and the mastermind behind the Vogue Empower campaign spoke of this very campaign in detail. Tanna, the youngest ever editor in the history of Vogue, elaborated upon how women empowerment must be held as an important issue in India.

She also spoke of her ties with domestic and international celebrities who are supporting the seed of her idea and funding monetarily. Thus, I have two very different perspectives of the same campaign – the outlook provided by the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue India herself and the short film video by Homi Adjania.

Like Deepika Padukone’s promotional choices, the promotion of this campaign with a very sensitive theme of women empowerment, is conflicting.

The End of a Life

       Within the last forty eight hours,  I was informed about two suicides that were committed by two young boys; one who lived about ten minutes away from my home (aged 20 or 21) and the other, a friend (aged 19).

I have had never known the first person aforementioned personally,  therefore it will be inappropriate for me to include that person’s situation. But I will not hesitate to mention the death of my friend, somebody whom I walked back home with after school for three years and went for the same classes for those three years. This particular human was always good to me, even though he was a bit irrational, sexist and dark sometimes. But I did not really care about that aspect of his nature, although it did result in our numerous fights as I now remember. Also, most people did not like him because he kept to himself and boasted of his gaming skills; but I ignored most of it and held his company. A very knowledgeable person indeed, and a few will know about this side of him. The last time I actually spent quite some time with him was when he came home to give me the game ‘Counter Strike’ which I played so ardently back in 2011, and just before that we had attended the Mumbai Comic Convention at the World Trade Centre in South Mumbai with another common friend. We lost touch soon in early 2013 after meeting about twice or thrice and it has been almost two years now that I didn’t hear of him, until last evening.

The reason he committed suicide? He was caught copying in examinations and hence, banned for a year or so (as per my information on his death). In all probability, he was ashamed of his antics and did not want his parents to burn with shame due to his ‘act’ and that is precisely why he jumped in front of a running train. This, angers me.

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          Although it is sometimes understandable in various suicide cases that the victim of suicide was depressed, helpless and hopeless. But, that certainly does not mean that people like the friend I spoke of get away with their lives because of something the have done illegally or downright wrong. Such people, it can be said with all clarity, do not give a thought about the people who will do everything in their power to support them in their crisis. They do not think about their families, just get on with avoiding the shaming and hang themselves to a fan, jump in front of a moving train or cut their veins. But, this is my opinion. The point of this post is slightly more directed toward complete awareness because, having had suicidal thoughts at a point in my life (which I speak of unabashedly, now that it has switched and changed in all entirety), I would want a set of people to understand a few things in all clarity. This set of people can be just normal, happy people; but they could also be letting their demons take over and you wouldn’t even be knowing what your sister, brother or a friend is going through from the inside. They may share their concerns with you, but they could also not possess the ability to come out and speak of their fears, mistakes and anxieties. Or may be, you were just about to develop a state of depression and I may just have made you rethink upon all the problematic situations that you wanted to and tried, or are trying to run away from.

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Suicide or any sort of self harm, physical and mental, is really not the answer to dissolve an unwanted situation. Face your fear; you will feel pressurized, shameful or you will be broken into pieces. But you don’t give your life away. A life is a journey to experience all that you can till you exist in this reality. It is also fine to live in a cocoon of your reality, searching for a meaning to utilise all that time and energy for or looking for a replacement to all your adventures in this reality as you keep chasing a new one at the end of every adventure.

        That is a life worth living. Giving away your life could possibly leave the rest of your family and beloved persons in an eternal feeling of loss. The friend could have faced his family, told them the truth, have had to hear hurtful things for a few days and then get on with life as usual and perhaps, work even more harder in his area of expertise. It was his choice to throw away the good outcome.

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Choose your choices well, for you carve the path to the kind of life you project your present self with today.

Shine On ★

Reactions and Reality: Random Rant for the Teenager’s Soul

           Like most writers, it so happens to me more than often that I wonder about which idea or topic I must choose to write about today. Also, my posts must be relatable and I must try not make an open diary if it – my biggest concern, as a matter of fact, and it is possibly getting difficult since I have not blogged my concerns, tastes and poems out post December 2014. Priorities, to be honest. Also, lately I have also been talking to people more than blogging or writing about my thoughts and that certainly is an achievement, given my standards of actually speaking up for anything, in all rationality (p.s inclusive of my own opinions which I strictly rant among friends and Facebook). As I write this, I have just decided to sum up and write upon something that has happened in the capital of my country in my next post. For now, let me rant about reactions and reality.

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         Super broad, subjective concept of an emotion which practically is the essence of most relationships we humans share – love. And romantically speaking, I have always saved it to describe myself as a lovesick human. I love my close friends, family just as most of people do and I would always want to protect them and aid my parents financially whenever I can, given they have got through so much on financial insecurity whilst my older sister and I growing up. These are some basic normative ‘responsibilities’ of sorts we tend to feel towards our family and friends. But –

One fine day, Mother puts your favourite denim jeans to wash which you decided to wear to college next day – “What is wrong with you?! I was going to wear those jeans today! You could have asked me first!” And when you wake up on a holiday and see your older sister accessorize as she leaves for her office, you are shocked out of your wits. Pupils dilate. “Are you kidding me?! Why are you wearing my top?!”

The aforementioned examples star me. I star in the aforementioned examples. Are these not the same people I love? Sure, I love them so much that I cannot even put down into words. But again, there are other examples and people –

◆ Cute crush in college, “I love your short hair.” Winks.

◆ Cute crush outside college with other friends around, “Hey.” Smiles and turns away.

I smile a seemingly meaningless smile; the sweet, short haired girl thinks, “Haha gosh, that was adorable. He just doesn’t want to make it public. Nice, decent guy.” And I am rationally, and with the power of my genius intelligence (here, identifies with molten lava), aware of how that man did not give a flying saucer. Life. Very, very relatable is it not? To the teenagers of my gender, yes.

And then that friend we adore the most. My girlfriend. My BFF. My secret keeper. So many nicknames, days of fun and memories. She is so special to me and we are never ever getting away from each other – until I see her behaving (just as she does with me) with another good friend. Volcanic eruptions. Fire. BWAHAHAHA. The evil laughs at my life. Come short haired cute girl, “Aww. She is such a sweetie. She always loves making people not feel miserable about themselves and she makes people happy. This is precisely what I love about her. She cares for others.” Add the same gawky cute crush smile at the end. Now enter the mind of this genius – “What in the world is she trying to do?! Have I lost all of my charm that she has to go get close to another girl and behave all BFF with her? Jeez, I have no friends! “

Angry, helpless and depressed, precisely how I reacted and failed to realise that I must start being myself in all reality.

          The aforementioned examples and the reactions may be (probably are?) childlike, immature and typically girly; frame them as you may. But that is precisely how I reacted earlier and most of us girls do. Think I am composing a completely pointless post, yet I am brave enough to come out and talk about the potential past (stupid) bitch in me. See? Smooth as silk.

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Although I have practically made this a ‘girl post’, yet what I say next is open to all genders.

◇ Why does it so happen that we often fail to realise that we always do not have to disregard people whom we love the most, only and only because we can ‘say anything to them because we love them’?

◇ Why does it so happen even more often that we measure our own worth on the basis of the reactions that others give to our approach directed to them?

◇ And why does it so happen that every time we see a close friend being close to another friend/acquaintance/nobody and feel sad about it? Is that not the person you love? Must you not be happy at the prospect of your friend being happy?

These things may seem tiny at first mention, but when you think about it, they actually contribute a lot to our attitudes. It is essential to establish and practice an attitude that makes you happy and does not let negativity come in. Do not let another person, nor their reactions define you; you define yourself and you choose your reality.

As a conclusion, on a personal note, I would like to acknowledge the fact that the reason I am an extremely proud person today, all at almost 20 years, is because I have come over and got out of such negative attitudes and situations. Go on and flush the unwanted stuff off thy mind, sweet unicorn. And when you do so, you will be marveled at the measure of sanity you will thereafter possess.

Remember, it does not matter where you come from – there is always a better version of you; all you have to do is carve it yourself. And it is really simple.

Shine On ★

On The Garden Wall

  

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   Yesterday as I taught the English language to my students at the NGO I work for, I came across a beautiful poem by Vachel Lindsay; a well-known name among poems such as ‘On The Garden Wall ‘, which only showcased the imaginary innocence of a little boy in his dream, in the 9th grade textbook and fell in love.

I would love to share the poem with you readers. Here it goes;

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Oh, once I walked a garden
In dreams. ‘Twas yellow grass.
And many orange-trees grew there
In sand as white as glass.

The curving, wide wall-border
Was marble, like the snow.
I walked that wall a fairy-prince
And, pacing quaint and slow,

Beside me were my pages,
Two giant, friendly birds.
Half-swan they were, half peacock.
They spake in courtier-words.

Their inner wings a chariot,
Their outer wings for flight,
They lifted me from dreamland.
We bade those trees good-night.

Swiftly above the stars we rode.
I looked below me soon.
The white-walled garden I had ruled
Was one lone flower–the moon

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Shine On.

You Don’t Even Know Me

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         The prolonged silence from my end has been disturbing me; the dullness of the daily experimentation that my days are filled of has torn me down to the extent of hibernation. People make me forget the unnecessary; they make me feel lonely too. They are around me and they care to take me away from my microcosm. But I love to live in it. It gives me a naturally pretentious feeling of joy.

The mess of speckless stationary, the neatness of those inner spectacles within the desires of my heart I just put down on paper; is the proclaimed CPR. Because I need to breathe. Because I fall short of air. But, I also love to live in the delusion of free wills and free minds; where I inhale their exhaltation. It makes everything easy. I fit in easily; I think I assume I do.

I will stand out, good enough. I always do. It’s your perception that lets you see me the way you want to see me.

You don’t even know me.