Thursday, April 6, 2017

Evening walk thoughts

As I was having a brisk walking session in the joggers' park beside my house - all in the attempt to go back to the pre-marital shape and size, I couldn't help but overhear a couple of old ladies. Early at this point, I should mention that I was just passing them as they were sitting on a bench beside the joggers' lane and have no habit whatsoever of eavesdropping on others' conversations. Anyway, one of them was complaining how she gives her son two pieces of fish and her son shares it with his wife whom she has given only a single piece. And the old lady seemed pretty indignant at the fact that the son's wife gets to eat a share of the fish that she had given to her son.

Here my question arises that, had the  woman had a daughter, she would have praised her daughter if she had kept the bigger piece of fish for her husband. She would have been proud that she had brought her up with good manners where she prioritizes her husband over her own self. And here, she was angry that her daughter-in-law got a share of the fish she had given to her son.

So basically, if we take her as a prototype of the orthodox society with misogynistic attitude, then how is a woman going to be empowered? When sacrificing is taken to be the ideal path for a woman, while a man is termed a 'man' if he can earn his bread and enjoy it, how can we make women happy and independent?

Now I am a firm disbeliever in the policy of sacrificial happiness in every step and sphere of life. Of course giving up something for a loved one gives immense joy at certain times, but if that becomes the habit, one day very soon you'll be in need of a messiah to deliever you. And I believe in being my own messiah, my own saviour.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Musings on loneliness

As it's the 27th day of 2017, I suddenly felt the urge to go back to where I first started. Writing. And today, I shall not speak coherently or about any particular topic. I have been wanting to write on quite a few interesting topics for sometime now, but being the lazy, laid back that I am, it has not come to success. So, here's what's happening in life.

My favourite teacher, who has also been my colleague for the past 3years, is about to retire in a couple of months, and the very thought of it makes me sad, really sad. She has been the guiding force for many of us at work place, helping and guiding us whenever we asked her.

I am witnessing my first batch of students passing out of school as they are all prepared to it for their 12th standard board exams. It is such a humbling experience that more than making me proud, I am trying to find humility in the fact that life goes on.

I am a new aunt, as my elder brother welcomes a son in the family. The feeling of holding little Simba in my arms was out-of-the-world, for the lack of a better phrase. That little heart beating, those big eyes looking at me, the helplessness of that tiny soul was scary. He slept on my lap, listened to all the songs I hummed and looked at me with wonders in his eyes. What better gift can a new aunt get?

And with husband abroad for a few weeks, every responsibility seems double, and every happiness seems half.

Then there are friends getting married every week. Some I approve of, some I don't. Not that my approval matters, or should matter. Just that, sometimes the vibes are not very positive. Sometimes, though assured a hundred times,my intuition tells me that one is not a very good person. And there starts the problem, when proofs for one's goodness cannot surpass my intuition and I am unable to give one the benefit of doubt.

And I have been trying to follow at least one TV series for the past few months, and have failed again and again. Started with Bengali, moved to Ukraine's and then Turkey's, but in vain. Somehow it's very difficult to follow the same story everyday at the same time. For that, I prefer Hotstar.

Being ill with no mother or husband to take care, is a painful business.

As I was at the doctor's chamber this afternoon for some stomach ache, I met an elderly couple. They have moved back to Kolkata after 35years in Hyderabad. Their son is settled in some other city. The old man waits for his son to visit and on the other days, remains quiet all day long. The wife seemed more in control of the situation and acknowledged that these are the prices we pay for living independently. It felt heart-wrenching to see the couple at the doctor's chamber. And suddenly, I found immense respect for my husband who is strict with maintaining family relations and valuing the knitted bond of the same.

Can't bring the post to a proper conclusion, sorry. Bye.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Of Hopes and Lanterns

I don't know why there is this illogical obsession with flying lanterns. Or rather, is it my anger with them that is illogical?

Flying lanterns make me sad. Very very sad. Almost to the verge of tears. Just look at them - these forlorn lonely creatures sent upwards by humans, without aim or power, just giving a faint false hope of life and love. Is it really justified to attach such hopes to lanterns whose basic nature is to fall down on the ground the moment the candles die out? Where is the hope? Where is the love? The recent craze has probably been the effect of Disney's Tangled, the story of Rapunzel. As if, the lanterns are the symbol of a traveller on his voyage to a far away land - an adventurer. In reality, these lanterns are a symbol of us - human beings. We attach our hopes and dreams to flimsy ornaments like these flying lanterns, and hope that someday these will take us away to the land of the unknown and we will - finally - find our happily ever after. What a sham!

On the other hand, look at the light crackers. They have their life in a moment. They burst in glory, spread the gorgeous shower of light for a few seconds, dazzle people and die in their glory as well. These crackers are the symbol of unreality. As if, our lives are to be lived like these crackers. As if, once we dare, we can become as glorious as them. As if life will allow us to live and die in our moments of glory.

Then why is it that I can only see the sham in all of it? Why is it that the lights and lamps and sweets and music - are all unable to cheer up a single heart?

May be because it is the toughest thing to do - to strip oneself of its bare minimum to be able to be honest with one and oneself. May be, after such moments of cruel honesty and sincerity towards one and oneself, the bare minimum is only the expectation that the bravery will be acknowledged. And there lies the hamartia of the human soul. Leaving behind everything, it still expects. It still looks for a ray of hope in the lanterns and crackers. That this hope is what will remain, and continue. That he who said that "the world will not end in a bang, but a whimper" was absolutely wrong.


Is it really so easy to find an "old love"? The one that is older than the body and as old as this soul? I leave this thought here, to search for a ray of hope and bring it to me, one day - someday.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The 'driving' force

A sister-in-law sent this photograph to me last week. Yes, that is me, 6 years old, on an uncle's scooter back in NB. I still remember how I used to visit these neighbours almost every day, stand on the scooter and pretend that I could drive it. This was back in the early 90's, when there was no searching of imaginary characters on the mobile, or crushing candies in a virtual world, or teenagers - in general - did not have the money or permission to party till late at night and get drunk and kill each other. This was a time when even an extra pencil, a surprise chocolate, a Nonte-Fonte comic book were the luxuries we looked forward to.

But this post is not to reminisce about being an early 90's kid, neither about the pros and cons of allowing too much to the kids these days. This post is about finding an old dream, hidden somewhere behind the shelves of deconstructionism, post colonialism, feminism, and intellectualism. This was a dream I had since I was literally a child. I wanted to learn to drive.

the sudden reminder of this dream has somehow brought back a realization to me - that all that we want to do now are probably rooted in something we have always wanted to do. Though I can not remember for how long I have been wanting to learn driving, this photograph is just a reminder that I have actually wanted to do this for longer than I can remember. And this is, for some reason, a very strange realization for me.

If you are an observant female, then it is probably not new to you that women are ridiculed for their driving skills every where. That they are slow on the road, slow to take decisions whether to take a right or a left turn, slow to park or that cannot parallel park, and so on. The feminist in me has wanted to break all such notions, and show that it's not the gender that is bad in the task, but the pressure of certain expectations on the gender that make them do so. Why, women are supposed to be gentle and polite, soft and kind, submissive and understanding. And who does not know the the roads are unforgiving and do not care whether it's a man or a woman driving? Then if we prepare our girls to be submissive and want them to follow their gender roles, how can we blame them for being non-aggressive drivers? And don't the men raise their eyebrows half-a-mile if there is a woman on the road driving something 'manly' as an XUV?

But what I realized when I saw this photograph is that these aspirations and ambitions have been in me since long, much before I was aware of these hypocrisies and gender roles. And this is a relief to me, that my dreams and hopes and aspirations are not a product of the society. Rather, I have had them all along, and now I simply have a better reason to follow them.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The new old-fashioned one

"...and love, so wrought,  
May be unwrought so. "
                             - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It was just a couple of weeks back that I was teaching the poem to a class of 16-year-olds, where it took me sometime to explain the historical background of the poem, how Victorian women had so freedom of speech or expression, even basic education was not available to most and how looking after the household and giving birth to healthy heir to the family legacy was the only criteria sought after. Living in those times, it must have taken a great deal of courage on E.B.Browning's part to write a poem where she asks, rather demands, to be loved for who she "is" and not what she looks like or what qualities she had. But didn't it take a lot of her husband's encouragement and support to come out and write. And not to forget that she was whhelchair-bound, which must have been enough to ignore her completely in the "marriage market".

2016. It still takes fair skin, slim figure, sharp features and convent education to make oneself valuable in the "marriage market". And if someone even dares to look beyond this, it still takes a soothing voice, or gentle manner, or matching the wave length, to fall in love. And so I began the post with the quote -
                                                         "...and love, so wrought,
                                                          May be unwrought so. "
Can we not love a person just for the person that he is? Not because he is your brother, or father, or husband. Not because she is your sister, or mother, or wife? What if none of these or any relation whatsoever fits the bill? What if it's just a person you've known, and you've come to respect and care for, just for the person that he or  she is? Not because she has been your childhood friend, or he has been your rakhi-brother.

Even while writing this, I feel it might be a Utopian idea, because who has the time to love for love's sake? These days, we don't want to go to the market to shop, so we choose the various online websites. We don't visit each other any more, because it takes time. So we update our "memories" on Facebook and Whatsapp each other in groups, rather than meeting in person. Yes, the barrier of states and countries is there, but it was still there a couple of decades ago. Our parents would still write letters and visit friends and relatives. They would still take a bus or a taxi to visit Gariahat or New Market for puja shopping.

So, am I being old-fashioned? I haven't really given it a thought. And all this thought is definitely triggered by my husband, who is a self-proclaimed "old-fashioned man". May be sometimes it's better to be old fashioned than being too knowledgeable. It's sometimes better to know less than to know more. And probably it's sometimes better to hold on to one's dignity and conscience than to just 'let it go'.