Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dirt

The railings are the black gallows
that bind me like a prisoner,
I look for the stars
wrote tales about our love
on the skin of the sky.
Once on this dust
I wanted to walk free
with you, melting
in my shadows
once I wanted to
give a name to this land
call it home


Friday, April 25, 2014

Veil

She shelters it under
a shield, that they call
a veil or a wrap
a shroud to silence an eclipse
or her act of apology
for being Eve's daughter
she has no excuse to dump
the drape, sun shade for some
refuge for others,
she swears by that
piece of cloth
to avert the mimicry
of misunderstood metaphors,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thoughts on Patrilineal Virilocality

A very good friend of mine got married in her early twenties. Her marriage was being forced down her throat, since her mother was retiring and her father wanted to relocate. Although she had no qualms about a quick marriage and that too a forced one.
The first guy she met got along well with her. He was into hotel management and was working in a reputed hotel in Delhi. They both began dating each other until he lost his job. She had started liking him by then but in an Indian arranged marriage, expressing a desire to marry a jobless guy is like throwing the axe on your foot. Even then she was hoping against hope, that he would find a new job and they would end up together someday.
Because she had started planning a future with him. The guy got a job and actually a very good one. But to take it up he had to relocate to Malaysia.
My friend despite bowing to the decisions taken by her father for her marriage, always chose to stand up for her rights. She loved her job and didn't want to leave it. She also always wanted to be in Delhi, since her brother and his family were settled here. And she wanted to stay close to her natal household.
While the guy she was pursuing wanted to be an NRI at any cost. She tried her best to convince him so that he would settle for another job in Delhi. But he didn't budge.
She bowed to the pressure exerted by her family and settled for another guy brought up and settled in Delhi.
This guy was an old acquaintance. What amused me was the quick rebuttal of her earlier decision, since as a person who had closely known her mind, the other guy had made her heart his home.
Even then she decided to marry this other guy and not move out of Delhi. The only assurance in favor of this decision was that she wanted someone's shoulders to cry on, if something ever went amiss.
She wanted to be spared of the dilemma of making new friends and being a foreigner in an alien land.
Despite she settling for a quick arranged marriage I admire her for having not fallen into the trap of "virilocality".
Recently I saw an advertisement in which the intimate conversations of a couple going to get married are being aired.
One of most interesting aspects of the conversation was the guy telling the girl about her re-location to his place of residence. And the girl nodding her head and saying a "yes" with no signs of protest.
That is what most Indian brides have been doing and will continue to do. Virilocality has been etched in the aggressive Indian patriarchal family system.
In an interview held recently for Springer, I was asked the very irritating question pointing towards the change of residence after marriage. After looking at my cv and date of birth they may have expected me to be getting married quickly to avoid a "late marriage" and to not lose out on the good guys. 
I replied with an affirmative 'no' since marriage is nowhere in my mind. And I wonder why aren't men asked such questions that belong to the stone age?

Amusingly, the interview was for their mumbai location which doesn't house my parents. Then how on earth did they get the idea of me changing places after marriage, if at all. And the possibility that I would find a guy living in mumbai itself was ruled out out-rightly.


When I am told to marry an NRI to brighten my career prospects in research, I only have one question to ask  such people. Why can't I move out to a foreign country on my own? Why am I expected to marry and why is a husband expected to be the "passport" for a foreign country? A career counselor I had consulted six months ago, told me that this was the preferred choice of most Indian women, when it came to going abroad and finding a job or going for a higher degree.

The Nairs and Menons of Kerala practised the matriarchal 'tharavad' system until it was abolished recently. In which the woman stayed at her natal household even after marriage, and the husband stayed back at his place with his sister, if he had any. If he didn't have a female sibling he was expected to move in to the wife's place. Her children stayed in their mother's natal home which was also their home. The woman's brother in this case was the custodian of the woman's wealth and for such people a family meant 'sister and her children'. Although this system didn't project the rights of the Nair woman, since she was pitted as the sister of the Nair man, this didn't fan the fantasies of regressive patriarchy that expected the woman to leave her parents and home and make another person's house her abode.
What finds favor with women like me is the "neolocal residence" in which both the husband and wife stay in a place away from the natal households of both. This type of post-martial residence is widely practised in the west.
For my sisters, who think that there isn't a choice beyond virilocality, think again. Maybe we can start aping the west with this, now that we have started following them in everything we do.

Indian marriages are themselves a very violent institution that is gendered to the core and expects the woman to re-shape her life and choices. Patrilineal virilocality adds fuel to this fire, which is an important aspect that most women aiming for equal rights with men, tend to ignore, but must not overlook.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Say it with Style

I have always been a plain Jane and I have always believed that I don't owe prettiness to anyone. That might have been one of the reasons why my dressing style was never sassy. Many of my friends complained about me dressing down to look older than my age. But then in my skin, I didn't mind being the un-stylish and ugly science researcher. Whose preferred to sweat it out at the laboratory rather than spending a fortune at the stores. Another reason could be that I defied male attention to be on the safer side. 
Wisdom dawned on me on an evening at a coffee store when I happened to meet an old acquaintance who had got divorced in the near past. And surprisingly rather than raking over the coals of a fire that had burnt her, she was dressed to kill. And that made me wonder, if I was loosing out on something in life. Colours and patterns that could add a dash of spice to your life, was the thing I was wanting.
I decided to head straight to the mall and set a forest fire to my wallet. That big hole all the shopping would leave in my pocket didn't seem to itch. 
For a woman on the wrong side of twenties, as they say, style had to sensible and at the same time chic. I invested in a lot of dresses and colourful kurtis. I decided to also give up on the old boring checks and stripes I had and went in for two classy business suits for presentations. Despite this u-turn in my taste and touch of perceiving fashion, I still stay away from saris and ghagra cholis and all such dresses that can make you trip and fall. Having welcomed a riot of colours in my wardrobe set in motion my journey of style.
My style is still very sober and intelligent. Although the arrival of colours has livened up the chest of costumes. I prefer dresses and tops in blended colours to black and white shirts now. My shoes still don't rest very high from the earth. Not more than half an inch of heels for me. I love flats and especially gladiator sandles.
Now what needs shingling are my bangs. 2014 might have arrived to decide how I must wear my hair to not look boring. Let's see what I discover in this journey of style this year.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Relationship tips for a believer in Gender Equality

Relationships are the best teachers. Only if you are willing to learn.
People come and go and they leave you with lessons. A relationship heading south and finally becoming history is a tough task master.
It bends and breaks you, until giving up on it is the last resort. Even then we are left with a thousand questions when a loved one bids farewell.
Why did it have to end? Who's mistake is it? Who tried to sweeten the pot filled with venom?
Such questions plague our mind for quite a while. We either take the high road and call it quits amicably. Or we draw some bad blood and stage a drama to get them back.
My last break up was in September. The second relationship I ever had in life ended much like the first one. It struck like lightening, the truth. Since it didn't take him more than three weeks to take a decision about us. When he took a decision the "us" parted ways as "I" and "him". Though we didn't date each other since the two countries we lived in, didn't give us many opportune moments to meet, I remember him for always admiring me for being a self respecting woman. And I hallucinated, building my castle of dreams with his half baked words.
I do not hold him responsible for going away and taking a decision that didn't have me. I also do not want to point fingers at myself for not dancing to his tunes.
When it ended, of course I was left gaping in the sky. The reasons may have been varied, many of which won't even make sense. It took me one and half months to bounce back.

And that was the time when contemplation told me of a lot of things.
For a self respecting woman who calls herself a feminist loudly and clearly, relationships aren't a piece of cake. And then in aggressively patriarchal societies like India, it is not child's play, to find a beau.
What can a woman like you and me, possibly expect ourselves to be, when we look for our other half. I thought I'll write down those pointers somewhere and this is what made sense to me.

1) Never give up on your basic principles in life. Even if that means, sharing the housework or cooking, stick to it. Life shouldn't change for a woman because she got married.
2) If you do not want to change your surname, just hang on to that decision. It isn't a legal necessity as many perceive it to be. Talk it out, your decision to keep your paternal surname much like your brother. If you do not want to hyphenate it, please do not.
And if you want to change to a new surname, please go ahead. It is your name, after all.
3) Keep your job and do not under any circumstances, try to give it up, because you are expected to do so for the husband's career. Earning your own money is the first sign of liberation for many women. And having your own money will be your only umbrella on a rainy day.
4) A joint account sounds like a very romantic idea. But your own money must be handled by you. Maintain a separate account other than your salary account, and put up a bit as an investment. Invest in a savings account, or shares or mutual funds. Or if you plan to buy a house along with him, get the papers written in your name making you an equal owner of the property. If something goes amiss, you will have proofs to tell him about your share in the investment.
5) If you have decided to move on with him to his place of work,  or to his birth place, along with his parents. Make sure that you have a few friends to lean on to. Friends you know from college or school or workplace. Friends who know you more than knowing him.
Yes, it is a very mushy idea to call his friends yours, but if your ship starts sinking, no one but your own friends would be there to help you. It may not be a very great idea to expect his friends to understand your side of the story.
Re-locating to a new place that is new for you as well as him, is the best idea for women like us.
6) Have a kid only if you want to. You didn't come on earth to birth babies. If you do not need them, announce your decision to him, before you enter into a marriage.
7) Do not let your mother-in-law be the decider of your destiny. Hold the strings of your life in your own hands. Everything from managing your finances to the decision of having kids, to the smallest of decisions should be yours and his. Do not let any member of the family like your mother-in-law or sister-in-law pull the strings for you.
8) Always have time for a hobby and if possible indulge in an activity that interests both of you. A friend of mine was recently showing me the pictures of her kitchen garden. I was happy to learn that her husband was contributing equally to the cause of bringing up a garden.
9) Keep in touch with your family. Talk to them whenever you can, and if possible everyday. Also, stay in touch with your siblings. Living in the same city as them would be of great advantage. Else atleast make sure, to not let the chords of your relationship be broken.
10) Place yourselves before anyone. Remember, if you can't love yourself, you may never be able to love anyone else. Aim for a relationship that doesn't put you at a lower pedestal. 
In case, of abuse of any kind, try to talk to him and if that doesn't work after a warning or two, just walk out. Nothing is more important than your or your self-esteem. Being a woman shouldn't take away the sense of importance from you.


Yes, relationships are tough and we all learn a lot from them. Getting the permutations and combinations right, isn't always that easy. But that doesn't mean that you have to adjust more and fall on your knees to make it work, because you happen to be a woman and a wife. 
A fallen relationship should teach you to rise and not fall deeper into it. The trick is to move on, and look for a self-respecting human who exactly knows what it is to respect another individual.
Relationships complete an individual. We must strive to look for a person, who will be our best companion for life, and a relationship that is an equal partnership. It is the boat of life, that needs two people to oar at the either sides to keep the balance.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quoting a Real life Acid Attack Victim

Today was a tiring and dusty day. Despite this the day was a learning lesson. I boarded the metro train from Vishwavidyalaya that was to terminate at the Huda City centre. Since the train flags off from there, there is no dearth of seats and I lazily happened to find one. After about three stations, two girls got in. One may have been in her early twenties. The other one sat a seat away from me due to which I didn't bother to look at her. A little later as I opened my eyes from a forced slumber, I could see the women seated in front staring tirelessly at a person seated on my seat. Initially I didn't care two hoots about it but later when I saw at the glass enclosure opposite me, I saw a partially disfigured face. I was taken aback. When I peeped with the left corner of my eye, as intently as a detective, I saw a woman with a half burnt face. The skin on the left side of her face seemed to have melted to acid. A few fingers from her left hand were also missing. My sixth sense told me that she may have been an acid attack victim. As soon as the aunty in black saree got off, I decided to have a word with her. And skid to the seat next to her. She was aghast because she was expecting her friend to sit on the vacant seat. I apologized while trying to wear an innocent expression. I asked for two minutes of her time to which she didn't refuse. Below is a written transcript of our translated conversation where in I use the initials 'R' for myself and 'H' to address her.

R: "Will you permit me to write your story?"
H: "Are you a story writer? Why do you want to make me famous?"
R: "No I am a blogger and a not so famous story writer and poet." H: "What do you want to know?"
R:"Your story if you want to tell me"
H: "I am an acid attack victim as you are seeing. My ex-boyfriend attacked me when I decided to not put up with his obssesiveness. Rest is history. My parents tried to get me treated but this is the best Indian doctors offered me. I want to go abroad for re-constructive surgery and I am saving up for it." R: "I see that you are wearing a very pretty top. Suits you well."
H: "Thank you. Yes I don't like to hide my scars."
R: "Yes I see that and I am inspired by your guts. What drives you?"
H: "Life. It goes on."


I was jaw dropped at her words of wisdom, my eyes popped out in amazement. That is when a lady's voice interrupted us reminding her of the next station they had to get down at. We parted with a polite farewell. As she was getting down she thanked me for trying to know her story. As I saw her melt in the crowd, I pondered at the lovely lesson those three words she uttered in the end, taught me. Indeed, life goes on!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Parsimony

Famished farms
crack open to bury
the bodies of feeble cattle
water won't soak
the homes of earthworms
this summer
only tears till them
gaping at a blue sky
cleaved by chopper chants
from where you watch,
writing it off as 
forged fiction.

When refugees flee
from homes
sleeping on streets with unknown names
your flesh memorizes
the velvet touch of blankets
you bought on your
last Swiss trip.

When girls get punished 
for owning frail bodies
tattooed in fear
your daughters take vows
borrowed from ancient acronyms,
their dowry comes from
chewing into the bellies
of the bloated.

Where bodies get burnt
in lands bruised by barbed borders
you are ferried in bullet proof cars
tinted by shame.

When onions and tomatoes
melt in dark dungeons
your mouth ajar in gluttony
feed from silver plates
stripped off melting bones.

When you throw tantrums
and sell slogans 
for fatter paychecks
the construction worker
bows his head
to his master
wearing a bead of sweat.

You and the hundred tongues
in which you beg for votes
doesn't tempt the seeker,
your pot of lies is full
and it will drown you
the day the poor voter
signs a decree
that will break the legs of the throne
you have been coveting
to trade for a mouthful of black lies.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Family Grave

Peas of the same pod
leaves of the same branch
yet brothers mock at each other
with closed fists,
and cockeyed curses
sister-in-laws re-write
rule books, sometimes
careful conversations
show the writing on the  wall
ambitious agendas aim to augur peace
others are two edged-swords.


Female foeticide in India and the PCPNDT act

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal diagnostic test act is a federal legislation enacted by the Parliament of India to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
It also banned pre-natal sex determination before and after conception, that was employed to detect genetic abnormalities or chromosomal abnormalities or metabolic disorders or congenital malformations or sex linked disorders.

Pre-Natal Diagnostic techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse act) 1994 (PNDT) was amended in 2003 to Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection act) PCPNDT to improve the regulation of technology employed in sex selection. 


It is estimated that more than 10 million female foetuses have been illegally aborted in India. Researchers for the Lancetjournal based in Canada and India stated that 500,000 girls were have gone missing through every year through the annual sex-selective abortions. 


It is a notorious problem in Gujarat and the North Indian states, which according to census data have an alarmingly low ratio of female children. Certain castes regularly practiced female infanticide and later female foeticide. The castes with a much lower proportion of female children to male children included Lewa patidars and the Rajputs in Gujarat; Jats, rajputs, Khutris and royal Brahmins in undivided Punjab, Rajputs and Gujars in the Uttar Pradesh.
The Act though strongly put on paper, is no good in acting as a deterrent. The problem has a cultural connection with the dowry system, which is ingrained in the Indian culture, existing as "bride wealth" or "gifts". It had been prohibited under the Dowry prohibition act since 1961, but all thanks to the myopia in the society, it continues to thrive. 

A very famous case from urban India that shook the country was that of Mitu Khurana who was tricked into sex determination by her doctor husband. Her in-laws then wiled her into having eggs, which she was allergic to, thereby she was hospitalized. They then forced her to abort the twin girls she was carrying. It was shocking to hear about the officials callousness who advised her to abort the twin girls and give them a son, so that her life and youth aren't wasted. 


In 1992, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen estimated that 37 million women had already ‘gone missing’ in India till 1986. Contrast that with the total number of ongoing cases under PCPNDT in the country (till September 2011) — a mere 1,040. No wonder that 28 of the 35 States and Union Territories have 0 convictions (till September 2011). Even the ones that secured convictions stand dismaly at: Chandigarh – 1, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat – 4 each, Maharashtra – 18, Punjab – 23, Haryana – 29.

India’s child sex ratio (0-6 years) has declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and now to the lowest since independence: 914 females per 1,000 males in 2011. But the total number of ultrasound machines seized/sealed (till September 2011) stands at just 869. The individual figures for states are more disturbing. Not a single ultrasound machine has been sealed or seized in Delhi, one of three worst states (other two being Punjab and Haryana) in the 2011 Census, with a child sex ratio of 866 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011. Why does sex determination still thrive?


Dr. Sabu George one of the people who filed the pil because of which the PCPNDT was passed says that since it is a profitable deal for a doctor, therefore they propagate it. The client in most cases makes an individual choice or budges to the family pressure, because of which such cases go unreported and there is no conviction. According to a doctor from Mumbai, the greed factor is so ravenous that they forget the Hippocratic oath they take and forget the nobility of the profession they are in. Depending on demand, an ultra sound test can be charged somewhere between 1,500-10,000 which otherwise has a meagre cost of Rs.400.
The second issue is the lack of administrative and judicial accountability. Since the concerned officials never turn up on a call, the cases get lost and with no one to question, the issue gets brushed under the carpet.

District officials also have a hand, in the laxity in implementing the PNDT act. Ignorance and lack of awareness in maintaining unregistered machines had led to the eruption of the menace. Most often authorities let them off for a fine, which propagates the menace.

Close monitoring of the sale of second-hand or re-assembled machines and banning of portable ultrasounds will come into force soon.

India’s prime minister acknowledges gendercide as a national shame, however, the police and judiciaries do not implement the law because they belong to the same school of thought. Authorities often let the unlawful parents and doctors off with little or no punishment which doesn't curb the menace. Often, when the mothers disobey the husband’s family decision to abort the female foetus and bring it to the light of the authorities, the suits are ignored or given a light sentence. The mother is targeted for bearing girls and disobeying the family’s decision to do away with the girl child. She may even lose her job, be exposed to constant death threats, and may be victimized by the long and tiring judicial process thereafter . In many places in India, women who give birth to girls are prone to violence. Even if she is able to bring the baby girls into the world, their birth goes unreported and in many cases they are also  murdered.


It is amusing to note that despite having made rapid advancements in technology, the society is lurking in the darkness of a ancient age, that can't see its women eye to eye. 
With the tens of corruption cases against the UPA, this one also adds up. In having added the fuel to the fire that has been burning the society, lack of conviction and the indifference to an evil spreading its paws. It only shows the shortsightedness of the government and how its unethical practices have exploited the helplessness of thousands of female foetuses that may haven't seen the light of the day, violating a woman's right to live.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not needing the Male privilege

In places like India, male privilege is a necessity for survival. Since patriarchy is ingrained in the traditions and customs most of which are the burdens borne by women. What is amusing is the way the women follow the patriarchal traditions and customs in the name of 'choices' and give more fodder for patriarchy to grow.
A startling example of male privilege as observed on my facebook wall is a trend of status updates that I have observed when a female friend gets married. The first thing she does is to either switch to her husband's surname as it happens in much of India or take up his first name as is the norm in a few South Indian societies. And update her user name on facebook.
Interestingly, I have always itched to ask them as to how does that make sense? Is it a public display of affection or a sign of bowing to the privilege that a husband's surname or first name gets her in the society. Again many women may want to dismiss my school of thought and label it as a choice.
But, my question here is how many men have hyphenated their surnames or taken up the wife's surname, to part with the identity that his father gave him at birth.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

June

June is a damned month
I dread its arrival
on all of those days
the heat melts the creases on my forehead
I developed while hallucinating about you,
my stretch marks of love
with the will of a steaming iron.
Sweltering sun swallows
the luscious moons
laid on a platter
half or full,
the diamonds of the night
I wear carefully 
on my fingertips
and make music 
on a night consumed by 
the somber silence of longing.


Haiku 6

first day of autumn
under the cherry tree
trampled leaf

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ignorance

Ignorance is a human trait. As a human cannot be aware of everything in this world. The stupidity lies in not knowing  everything in the world, it is in the unwillingness to not open the closed doors of your mind.
And for a patriarchal society like ours, one can only imagine the kind of damage that ignorance might have done. Patriarchy has been dragged on foot because as a society we have done nothing to bring a change. We haven't even taken the first step by accepting the fact that we as a society haven't grown with the times.
Customs like dowry continue to thrive in the guise of the practice of giving 'gifts' or 'equal share in property'. Sadly no one has thrown a book at the perpetrators of such social crimes.
Ignorance is something of this kind, where to acquire conjugal rights a woman has to carry wealth in cash and kind. The sad story is that such practices still find a place in the society, because of our callousness. To make allowances for such illicit practices in the name of traditionality, tells us how much we should change. And for the starters, accept the fact that ignorance still breeds practices like dowry.
Informed opinion isn't knowing about everything in the world, it is about knowing the things you are expected to.

The recent example of ignorance are the ill-informed Indian voters who remind me of the story of Pied Piper and the rats. Most voters do not know their candidates well and are falling into the trap of populist promises or the prominent names who have given a face to the 2014 general elections.
The greatest example of ignorance is the Indian voter re-electing Congress to power and them, licking clean every bone and sinew of the poor tax paying voter. What needs to be seen on May 16th is how will the voters turn the tables for themselves?

Haiku 5

blue skies
on the cliff
tumble down

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giving Women's Empowerment a vote in the 2014 Elections

The country has started to vote, since yesterday. While I was watching news in the afternoon, a news piece informed me that a whooping 86% voters in Tripura decided to wear the voter's ink and a staggering 76% in the state of Assam. This displays the will of the voter to bring in a change.
Since the election dates have been announced, every political party is seen endorsing different schools of thought, most of which lay stress on development and women's empowerment. Isn't it funny and strange that a country that has 49% women voters is still struggling to promise safety to its women?
In the ten years of the UPA rule, the condition of women has only deteriorated and that shows their seriousness to the cause. And Rahul Gandhi in his first ever TV interview laid tall claims of how they had made the women of the country fearless by bringing in gender equal changes. After the Nirbhaya incident shook the country and the world, UPA did have a chance to mend it ways. It had a golden opportunity to get up from a deep slumber of more than eight years, when the crimes against women only kept doubling, and they were sleeping over it. 


Haiku 3

orange clouds
in the horizon
Sunday morning

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finding the voices of LGBT community

I was watching a malayalam movie day before yesterday. For the starters, what amused me the most, was that this movie was the story of a gay and his friends. In India such movies don't come into existance everyday.
The thrills and chills that the movie was sending down my spine, astonished me. It was the story of three friends who were police officers. The sudden death of one of the friends turns the tables for the other two friends. One of them, whose sexuality is kept under the wraps is handed over the reigns of the investigation.
The movie's ending left a distaste in my mouth. The guy who was gay, was the mastermind behind the murder. Because the dead friend had found the secrets behind the sexuality of the 'killer' friend. To not let that secret spill over, and to save his job, a law maker is shown to be a law breaker.
Such movies stain the social fabric. For not every gay is a criminal. And, not everyone wants to stay silent about their sexuality. We have slapped the ugliest of stereotypes on gays and in a time when they are wrestling a thousand demons, the curse called 'Section 377' made a comeback. To threaten the security of an LGBT person, because as per this medevial law, no two consenting adults belonging to the same sex, can indulge in sexual intercourse. This can put them at par with criminals and get them behind bars.
The section was declared unconstitutional by the Delhi High Court in 2009. The Supreme Court of India overturned the judgement in December 2013, giving the powers to repeal the law, to the Parliament.
It came as a rude shock for the ruling UPA government, with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi appealing to the parliament, to discuss the issue. But the UPA did nothing to discuss this matter in the last parliamentary session, where they were seen bull-dozing bills as pre-poll giveaways.
The re-criminalizing of Section 377 was applauded by the moral mentors of the society, especially the religious leaders who decided to get preachy and preposterous.
Many quoted the religious scriptures to sound supportive of an archaic law, that the Queen's people left behind.
Many celebrities came in support of the LGBT community and strong protests have been launched against it, since then.
Human Rights Watch groups challenge the ruling saying that it is making the prevention of HIV/AIDS an uphill task, while putting high risk groups like transsexuals in trouble.
Why I became a gay rights supporter is an episode in life, that was nothing less than a milestone.

One of my best friends is a gay who was the first person to enlighten me about the archaic Section 377. Many people like him couldn't even mourn the untimely death of his partner, all thanks to the homophobic ignorance his mother practised. What startled me the most,was the emotional upheaveal he experienced which I believe never existed for a gay couple. Before that incident, I always used to think that gay partners only understood lust. And it was embarrasing for me to come to terms with the short sightedness I possessed. He has been dating an American since the past four years. But I had seen it all, the mourning of that loss and his struggle to let go.
The other people from the LGBT community who ravished my old school of thought was Srilakshmi, a transgender, whom I happened to meet at a book reading event. Her heart wrenching tale cringed tearing down those old notions about hijras or transsexuals.
Before having met her, I was scared of them, but thereby my eyes opened.
Ruchika (name changed) is a lesbian who met me in a party organized by my best friend Rohan (name changed). Since it was his birthday party, only his closest friends had been invited. As a straight person, I felt out of place in the midst of gays, bi-sexuals and lesbians, but trust me no one tried to grope me or molest me or gave me a wrong signal. The lesbians in the party made it a point to hang out with each other thereby making me feel comfortable.
Going to that party made me realize that 'consent' is sought in the gay community much like it happens in the heterosexual community, and abuse is a notorious reality only in gays with a criminal mind.
Standing up for gay rights is as important a necessity as standing up for our own rights. If the UPA government was serious about upholding the gay rights, then they would have surely passed an ordinance against Section 377 or atleast bothered to instigate a discussion.
Parties like AAP have welcomed dialogues with the LGBT community, but what needs to be seen is are they really serious about doing away with Sec 377.
Let us therefore, not just vote for development but also human rights in the upcoming elections.
Choices don't make a criminal out of a person, and homosexuality is a natural trait and not a disease, unlike what ignorant people like Baba Ramdev had to preach.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 2 104° C

This dark room is a blanket
underneath which I croutch,
fingers of fire descend
gives me the gift of languages,
sneeze and sniff
whiff and wheeze
pant and pour
tears boil
from coal rimmed eyes.
The burning bone
is an indelible stench
Therapy chokes the meek
medicines are weak
flames rise and fall like the
ebb and flow of a tyrannous tide.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cliche

Cliche is what writers should stay away from. It is like that low grade fever that hangs on to the soles of your feet. Writers are thinkers, is what the world says. I chose to agree as well as disagree. Writers start writing for varied reasons. It could be a heartbreak or a missing conversation or a lost part of you that you try to resurrect in your words.
But, whatever it is, if you don't have your style and your language has loose frayed edges. The reader may dismiss it. In the earliest days of having started to pen a verse, my sonnet teacher always told me, to do something that will glue the reader's eyes on to the page.
After many years, I realize what she meant, although I can't still write a sonnet without feeling doubtful about the meter and rhyme.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hijra

I don't have mounds of flesh
that I thrust proudly
like an army officer,
I don't see men
calculating the ratio of my hip size
and comparing it to my waist,
no one with his X-ray xenophobia determines
the circumference of my buttocks
or validates the volume of my lips.



Books

For an award winning recluse like me, books have always been my best friends. During the times when candid conversations were out of question, these non-living objects have lent me ears. When I am not breaking my head over an experiment, you can find my nose buried inside a book,  basking in the glory of its companionship.
A book is a tiny non-living object that always has a room for me, in its hearth. Its pages, have taken me far and wide to places I may never see. Books have told me the stories of people whom I have admired since childhood, and have wanted to emulate. They give me a peek into their lives, their triumphant moments and those of despair that bogged them down. I have always been a fan of biographies, autobiographies and crime thrillers. Stories of people who have changed the course of the world give you eyes,for a vision, for your own future. Gloria Steinham and Nivedita Menon made me mull over the inequality we face in the world, as women.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Last Supper-Gaza

In the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit
the Red Sea parted and enemies counted their footfalls
on the graves of our forefathers.
Since then, milk and honey haven't flowed
only bombs have made music
as we walk on egg shells.
We preserve the locks of hair our daughters left,
and remember our sons by their pictures
we waited for their burial, drunk by the unholy passion of pain
their tiny bodies we held, close to our chest, all night
to not let the maggots feed on them,
their graves do not know their names
as the apricot trees that gave them shade, have wilted
at the enemy's commands,
for a few pieces of silver, they have plotted against
our husbands, who will be nailed
to their crosses soon.