Before secularism dies

It has been a long time.

I have felt this ever increasing need to speak up about the atrocities being committed in the name of hindutva in our country. But then i skip it because i didnt know how to say it any different.

I am an ardent fan of books. I read lots of them. I think a lot of people are not exposed to the beauty of books because of which they remain unaware of the importance of inclusivity in our current constitution. I fear that its days are numbered too. Maybe it is this lack of understanding that blinds them from the impending consequences of oppression.

The truth is even people who understand these turn blind fanatics. Maybe because of the comfort of standing among the majority, the false sense of authority and power that comes when nodding heads to the ones in power or its just the thrill of domination.

The ram temple issue was the cherry on the cake. How insecure are you, buddy?

I mean, it is understandable to fight and make your stand when you are oprressed, denied representation.

But, in a country with a majoritarian hindu community, the need for showing off is pathetic.

There is a story.

Once upon a time, there lived a prince who sacrificed his kingdom and went on exile because of his evil stepmother. He takes his wife along with him. The young lady gets captured by another evil man. The evil guy never touched her without her consent. Our hero, the king gathers an army, kills the evil man and gets his wife back. They return to their homeland. His mates there tell him that they doubt his wife’s purity. Right, because purity of a woman is in her body and not her heart. Again, our hero who is so powerful and good hearted, is torn between a whole kingdom who supports him and a single person, his wife. So, he leaves her, becomes the ideal man who sacrificed the love of his life for the well-being of his kingdom and returns to rule. *we can add some emotional moments here and there, but, the story remains the same.

The end.

Its okay to be whatever you want to be and believe whatever you want to believe, but, there’s a line between you and me . So, please stick to your faith and judgement and dont teach me what i should believe.

Elephant politics

An unfortunate incident occured in Thiruvazhamkunnu forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala. A pregnant wild elephant had accidently eaten a pineapple filled with crackers which exploded in her mouth hurting her jaws. She couldn’t eat anything for a few days and yesterday she died standing in the river, dipping her trunk in the water.

I felt deeply saddened to think that somebody did this to hurt the elephant. But, by noon, it was clear that unlike the initial reports, the incident wasnt a murder but an accident. Farmers in the locality use such crackers to ward off wild boars which ruin their fields and the elephant had accidently consumed the same. Even if it was unintentional, the incident was hurtful. The question of why farmers resort to such measures, why they dont buy equipments to ward off wild animals need to be dealt with in detail another time.

By night, i saw lots of posts circulating. One of them looked like this.

As you can see, suddenly everybody is talking about Malappuram, which is confusing for me. The incident happened in a district called Palakkad and the one which they are talking about is another district next to Palakkad. I understand that the people who are talking about this dont know the geography of Kerala but that isnt an excusable mistake.

The funny part is how suddenly everybody is singing solidarity to Hindus of Kerala. I didnt know elephants belonged to Hindus. Some went to the extent of collecting demographic data of Malappuram to point out that the muslim majority (75 percent) is responsible for this cruelty. Their understanding is that the muslims wanted to hurt Hindu sentiments by hurting an elephant which symbolises the Hindu God Ganapati or Ganesha. Are you serious?

For your understanding, i am a Hindu. I have best friends who are muslims. We share views, we share food, we share clothes, we share rooms, their moms make food for us, our moms make food for them. We live like how humans are supposed to live. We believe that this culture of secularism and intermingling in our state is something that is stronger than the religious divisive politics being played.

The second thing was how many took up our 100% literacy rates to compare and conclude that literacy rates doesnt bring humanity. I feel sorry that you had to look up data to realise that yes, they are 2 variables that cant be compared, exactly the reason why literacy should be promoted in the 1st place.

Third, some people asked if this is the Kerala model. And we call that ‘asooya’, which means jealousy. If you have fallen to such low standards as to compare our health care structure to this unfortunate incident, then thats plain asooya.

Fourth, Menaka Gandhi had pointed out that 1 elephant dies every 3 days in Kerala and that we also have a history of killing stray dogs. Fact check: the elephants that Menaka Gandhi counted might be ones that die of old age, because i am someone who reads newspapers regularly and this is not true. The stray dogs were put down because at a certain point of time, there were numerous cases of little children playing in front of their houses getting their eyes and ears torn off by stray dogs. This was how the general public reacted to that, ” Madam, we dont have security to guard our homes and save our kids, we cant let our children die at the hands of such menace.”

Fifthly, many celebrities have come out stating injustice and cruelty in the death of the animal. Duly noted, sir/maam. But, where did your conscience run off when there were attacks on innocent people? Why didnt you question the death of migrants run over by train? Why didnt you question the attacks in Delhi? Why didnt this conscience burn then? We need to introspect more people. Coz double standards suck !

Lastly, one more thing. Many people in Kerala, irrespective of their religions, love beef. Many people in Kerala are pure vegetarians. People have different tastes, dont judge us. We love each other no matter what they eat.

Swami Vivekananda said, ” I am proud to belong to a religion that has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We accept all religions as true. As streams with different sources mingle their waters in the sea, all lead to God.”

Stop crippling the true sanatana dharma.

Marriage and murder

The lockdown hasn’t ended yet and the future is still bleak. If the news of Covid killing people wasnt enough, there are rising cases of domestic abuse across the world.

Two weeks ago, my mother was reading the newspaper when she showed me a news of a young woman who died after a snakebite while sleeping peacefully at her home with her husband. She was already undergoing treatment after being bitten by a snake a month ago. In our place, snakebites are not uncommon. But, 2 consecutive episodes like these have never been heard of.

Yesterday, the police caught her husband. He confessed to murdering her using the snake. It seems he was in need of money which the woman had in plenty. So, he deviced the plan.

When i saw him, i didn’t see a monster who looked like he was ready to pounce. No, he looked like a normal guy. I looked at their home. A decent one too. I looke at their parents. They reminded me of my grandparents.

At first, i felt bad but eventually it slipped off my mind. It could be because i never expected myself to be in her place. But, is that true? Many of us subconsciously protect our fragile egoes believing that these will never happen to us. We blame the fate more often than we are supposed to.

My family is one of the many families in India where tradition is held close to the heart as and when it pleases. Most of the marriages i have attended have been arranged by the elders. How can they understand if the guy or the girl is an abuser by looking at their family, educational status or job? This is messed up.

If at all the bride or groom turns out to be someone who verbally, mentally or physically abuses the other,then what? Divorce is still stigmatised. It is a symbol of failure in good upbringing, failure in teaching adjustments and failure in finding a good partner in the minds of many parents.

Why are we so obsessed with the illusion of a perfect marriage. I myself used to dream of it, but, now i feel there are much more in life for me than that. I dont want raising children, managing a home and juggling a 9 to 4 job to be the sole purpose of my life. I am worthy of a life i dream of.

It is high time we break this cycle of creating bonds which doesnt assure happiness; a patchwork of adjustments. I understand that parents mean well. They want the best for us. But, all anyone could ever want is happiness.

I dont want to lead a life where i will have to adjust my dreams, my habits, my hobbies for the sake of social security. I am not the harbinger of honor to my family. Not at the expense of my life.

Since we all are stuck at home, having to cope up with the limitations, my mother was trying some food experiments most of which ended as disasters and my father the other day half joking half serious asked my mother, ” Dont bother. You are much too useless. When have you ever added happiness in my life anyways.”. My mother was quick to rebut, ” Who do you think i am to add anything in your life? When have you been of use to me either ? ” and a smile creeped up on my face for i knew she is what makes me think.

Fairy tales and stereotypes.

I loved reading books ever since i was a child. My mother would buy me short stories of talking animals, mostly moral stories of how we reap results from our actions.

In the early days of my childhood, i loved these books, but, in a few years, i stopped them altogether. I felt silly reading about talking animals. The haughty disdain that those are for young children and not for me took over.

That is how i slowly channeled my energy towards fairy tales. I loved them and was engrossed by the magical world of beautiful princesses being wronged for no reason, looking out for the prince who is going to rescue her from all perils. I continued to read these, watch cartoons and movies and never did i realise the prejudice that was quietly being injected into these until the day i felt the plates change.

One fine day, i realised that no prince is coming to rescue me. I felt cheated, reduced to something less than a princess.

But with some more of time, I realised that even if one comes, i no longer want to be the damsel in distress. I want to be responsible for the rights and wrongs in my life. I dont want to look up to another to fix my life, it is solely mine. That idea is so much more beautiful, when you can create something on your own rather than wait for someone to crown you queen.

The idea of developing imagination in the young is good, but, it shouldn’t be at the expense of sowing seeds of stereotype. How long will we hide that the world is not just black and white, there are shades of greys in the good and bad. To accept bad things happening to good people, one needn’t create horrible stepmothers. Its not the physical beauty that makes you beautiful, its your kindness and there is not a girl more beautiful than the one who can take care of herself.

I think we should stop feeding such stereotypes into young minds. Reading about how you earn what you sow is so much better than reading beautifully wrapped stories of narcissism. No, the world doesnt revolve around you, my little child and that doesnt make you any less a princess.

My intention was never to dissect a childhood memory, i just wish we could take out such weeds of confusions from the little minds.

How not to celebrate patriotism.

Yesterday, we were waving peace flags in my home. After the debates in the past couple of days, it was decided discussions on politics and religion will not be entertained at home. We were guarding the pact with utmost care, but it ended when my younger brother started watching a debate.

Now, to give you the context of the debate, there had been terrorist attacks happening in Kashmir in the past few days. Yesterday, in a place called Handwara, 3 more soldiers laid down their lives warding off the attacks.

So, the guy running the show has named the debate hour #avenge Handhwara and called up delegates from India and Pakistan. There is a 15 mins intro from the guy itself screaming at us at the top of his voice about how he claims that Handhwara will be avenged, how he will take Pakistani lives, how there is going to be bombing in Pakistan in retaliation, how he thinks Pakistanis are shameless and gallons of such absolute nonsense. And his guests, the delegates from Pakistan, they were not allowed to say 1 word bcoz he starts screaming once again when they speak. I mean come on man, grow up!

Do we really have to hate another nation to celebrate patriotism? I am an Indian, but, i dont have to call a Pakistani national a terrorist to prove that i love my country. I dont think bombing or taking Pakistani lives is the way we retaliate a terrorist attack. The same applies to calling Chinese as Corona. How stupid is that? Many have doubts regarding the virus being manmade and spread by China. A president even called it the Chinese virus.

Even if China did spread the virus, wasnt it the government’s duty to take measures to contain the spread. Whose fault is it that many of us still group up protesting that lockdown should be lifted, are we to blame China for that too? This is the insecurity talking.

If one is wrong, shouldn’t he have the guts to accept that, rather than blaming everything else?

Grateful.

I am grateful to everything that i have in life. My parents, my little brother, my friends, my home and every little things that i enjoy.

To have my mother waking me up and making me coffee and the 4 meals, with a pinch of complaining and tons of love is a blessing that i wish for forever. I am happy to be able to irritate my little brother whenever i can. He is an amazing cook and i shamelessly go behind him to make the best of dinners that we have. My father, i am so much like him in so many aspects. Though we are at odds in many ideologies, many leading into shouting matches, we realised that we dont have to be on the same side to love each other unconditionally.

I am so very grateful for my life. But, it was recently that i came to know about the many millions who are still underprivileged, almost on the bringes of death even in the times of a global pandemic and its not COVID or lessened immunity thats killing them.

The Uyghurs, China‘s islamic minority are still living in detention camps, airstrikes are still happening in Syria, the looming food crisis threatening to be deadlier than COVID in Africa, Myanmar military repeating crimes against humanity in Rakhine State as pointed out by UN, the shortage of medical infrastructure in Israeli blockaded Gaza, the extended internet ban in Kashmir, hundreds of Rohingya muslims dying after being stuck at sea for more than 2 months, in the biggest refugee crisis.

I think we should know them, their plights and their living conditions. Maybe with more awareness we become more responsible.

The List of my favourite movies.

“Movies touch our hearts, awaken our vision and change the way we see things. They take us to other places. They open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime. We need to keep them alive.”

Martin Scorsese, director (Shutter Island, Taxi Driver , Goodfellas)

I have been a movie geek ever since i could remember. Initially, i used to watch all kinds of movies- chick flicks, romcoms, psychothrillers, horror, fantasies, anything that came my way. But, as my experience improved, i realised that certain movies had special powers. They could pull you into a trance, play with your minds and recede back into its depths only to surface back time and again, like an engraved memory.

So,today, i would like to make a list of movies that still take up a privileged spot in my heart.

1. Schindler’s list

This movie is like a medicine for me. Whenever i get disappointed, i go back to this movie to remind myself of the value of compassion and the difference one can make in another’s life. Please dont make the mistake of leaving it out bcoz its black and white.

2. Pride and prejudice

This feel good movie goes back to a time when chivalry in love was still in vogue. Romantics shouldnt miss this one.

3. The last samurai

This one gets you introspecting. This is not a war movie, rather it talks about righteousness, dharma, as we call it. This is my go to movie whenever i get indecisive.

4. The terminal

If you want to smile from ear to ear, taking in the warmth of goodness in people and watching how determination opens up invisible doors, this one would definitely be your cup of tea.

5. The next 3 days

He is my inspiration. The guy who believed in something and never gave up.

6. Interstellar

When imagination is stretched beyond a limit, it feels like the endorphin release after a heavy workout. This movie does just that. But why i often go back is for its magical background score.

7. Pretty Woman

Why i love this movie is because Vivian knows her worth. She knows how she should be treated and how she should not. And there is no compromise on that.

8. Stepmom

This is an emotional rollercoaster and i had seen it only once more than 11 years ago. But i still remember the christmas, the magic show and curiously enough, a 12 year old girl could understand the pain of a mother and that’s how brilliant this movie is.

9. Julie and Julia

This is a beautiful movie about a determined woman who realises her passion and her path is both humorous and a feast to our eyes

10. Catch me if you can

It was on a day before exams that i happened to watch this movie. I was tired and had given up trying to learn anymore for the day, but this movie recharged me. Mr. Frank Abagnale is a true example for the quote ‘nothing is impossible’. [the exam was easy too!]

11. The boy in the striped pajamas

Gear up for an emotional rollercoaster ride, set in the times of the holocaust. I cried a lot, not just thinking about the atrocities of those times but also on the pure innocence of 2 little boys on either side of a fence. A must watch!

12. Bucket list

A tale of friendship and dreams. The way they come to become inseperable is what i loved the most in this.

13. The Truman show

What if whatever you believe to be true ceases to be so? And there you have it.

14. Gone girl

I am a vengeful person. I am not proud of it, it just remains something that i am still learning to control. So, when i saw this movie where one could be vengeful to the extent of self destruction, i was quite shaken.

15. Shawshank Redemption

Why do bad things happen to good people? Maybe God is testing how much more one can handle before they break down. But patience is a virtue that all of us should learn, just like him.

And there ends my list. If any of you have watched any of the above movies, do comment on what you loved about it and do recommend your favourites!

How far away is our past?

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant stuggle

George Orwell

The Great Indian Diversity is something that each of us are proud about. There are more than 23 official languages spoken in different parts of the country and over 6 main religions practised.

As far as history speaks(around 2000B.C),the subcontinent was initially the home of a superior race (in terms of a higher intellect) who laid foundation to the brilliant civilisation near the banks of Indus. Their culture drew unparallels in organised settlements, art and crafts which even in present days is still an envy to many parts of our country. The underground drainage was built in such expertise that it puts much of our society and its present day drainage systems to shame.

The Indus Valley Civilisation

The historians believe that this community was too peaceful to exist for long as their war equipments proved short to defend them against the invaders. These invaders or barbarians though fully equiped with the best of technologically ahead weapons, knew nothing of being organised. Their craftsmanship were centuries behind these people and that was the first instance where Hindustan, the land of the Hindus or the people who lived near the river Indus, were forced back to a much primitive state, forgetting all about the Harappans and the gift they had for us.

The Bearded Man/ Priest King from Mohenjadaro dating back to 2200 to 1900 B.C

As of now, this is the first instance in the subcontinent where the community had to regress to a primitive stage. I call it primitive not in terms of their weaponry or aggression, for they were extremely talented in these. But in terms of art, peace, organisation, conservation and other terms of higher intellect that we attribute to human beings, these people fell behind.

Coming to the 21st century, the human brilliance is at its pinnacle. Anything that we dream of are achievable. Technologies developed a month before are already a thing of the past. We are all racing towards an invisible peak, believing it is within reach. The rat race is wearing out people, pushing down many into pits of depressions. And what is this mountain? Is it a million rupees? A focus of a 100 cameras? A million likes?

Haha. This is really funny once you start thinking about it. People draining their last ounce of life to make sure that there is enough money hidden up in their bank accounts. Why not break free from these shackles and start doing what you love?

The worst part is not that you are dying for a lost cause. That is not a problem at all. You want to drain your life, its your wish, Go On. But, there has been a deviation to the frustrations of leading a fruitless life. Once people started realising that they are unhappy even after achieving what they thought they wanted, many are confused. And i believe this is one important reason for all of the hundreds of cases of alienating people.

In recent times, we see a rising intolerance to many communities. This is in no terms confined to India, there is growing intolerance to African Americans,Sikhs,Muslims, LGBTs, Women. I believe all these actions to be related to a deeper fear within oneself, a fear that they might demand equal treatment and refuse to submit as a lesser being. How can we call ourselves civilised and liberal when these fears are lurking beneath the masks that we wear.

Introspect.

I believe this period where we are all locked down to be a period when we can introspect. Dig deep within ourselves and solve the questions that nag us day and night, the insecurities that scream to be let out and decide for ourselves. Should the darkness be allowed free reign? Should we be the barbarians that the future blame, for regressing from the beautiful diversity that we appreciate now.

Dig deep.

Focus on the voice within

Being an introvert is totally fun. You are happily away from the nonsensical chatter, the hysteric emotional outbreak over the silliest of issues and all the gibberish about staying in trends. This was what i was exposed to, i wouldnt take the liberty to judge every college goer as the obnoxious idiot.

Anyways, i would like to share an anecdote from my early years of being an introvert, almost on the bringes of selfishness while minding my own business.

It was a Monday and i had quite happily returned home after Classes, enjoying the luxury of having the house to myself for a whole hour before my parents came. I had kicked off the shoes, oned the TV and went on to get some snacks when i heard someone from the rear of the house.

Being a decent neighbourhood, i had always taken safety for granted and it was a shock for me to realise that i might not have been alone. I was too scared to scream, being someone who valued a quiet existence far too much to raise a fuss unless and until there was some proof of an intruder.

I searched the house inside out. I roamed around for any footprints in the ground and trust me, i am a very keen detective.

Anyways, my efforts proved in vain and i started doubting myself. It was true that i was scared and what if the feeling was just too much of the horror movies that i devoured on a daily basis. (even the silliest movies are scary when you watch it alone).

Anyways, after some more searching, i gave up the idea and went back to enjoy my last minutes of luxury.

Later, after the arrival of my parents and my regression to the routine, the thought had completely been erased from my mind.

So, when in the next day, as i was waiting for my school bus, i saw a boy around the same age as mine lurking nearby, i was feeling a sense of dejavu. And suddenly i was reminded of the same creepy feeling of the previous day. I watched him from the stop, keenly following him, doubting again if i am being too harsh in judging an innocent boy.

The rest of it felt like a drawn out video being watched in slo-mo. My bus had arrived, honking its way as though its life depended on taking us to school ASAP. The boy also turned, but not to the horns, i am sure. It seemed like he felt that he was being watched, for the only person he looked at after turning was me. And sure, right at that moment, i knew. I knew it was he who had been there yesterday. Yet, i had no real proof to support these and i spent the whole day thinking of this. So, it wasnt a surprise for me when i found the rear door jammed, he had tried in vain and our neighbour had seen a boy roaming around our house and had tried contacting my parents.

Guess what, we had both described the same boy. And there i have it, my first experience with intuition and this incident taught me to focus on what your hear from within.

I have been lucky to have had many more stints with intution, each strengthening my confidence to trust it. People say women are gifted with this beautiful talent. To know the tragedy before it strikes.

There is a voice that doesnt use words. Focus. Listen

#discoverprompts

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