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'.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Game of Thrones - in real life

When you've remained protected from all sorts of storms all your life; no matter what the situations, you've been saved by your family members - though not really pampered or spoilt - but simply "protected" because they've faced the storms and have known that when your time comes no one will be able to fight your wars for you - that's when you know that it's finally your war that you have to fight.

Don't let the introduction make you believe that life is all thorns and no roses at all, because we all have our fair share of darkness and light. It's simply that when you are all on your own, all by yourself, you will find out - one mistake after the other - how you can survive the "game of thrones". Well, believe it or not, in real life as well, it is a sort of game of thrones, where everyone is trying to get their own motive fulfilled and keep their loved ones safe. Some of us are the loyal friends, who would go to any extent to save a stupid person who does not realize what's good for them. and some of us are so tied within the "bonds" of the family that they cannot see an inch beyond that limited space. Then there is the outcast who, contrary to everyone's expectations shines as the underdog, and though really deserves to come out as the champion, but in reality probably just dies an ignominious death. Only sometimes, rarely actually, do we come across the born leader, true champion of the goodness in mankind and benevolent conqueror, who conquers not just for the self but also for the people. It is in such cases, when the leader, the Mhysa, comes out of the protection and learns to fight her own battle. And whether or not she wins it remains a secondary question, for just watching her fight is a sheer pleasure in itself.

And why am I exactly bringing out so many Game Of Thrones analogies? Not only because I'm suffering from a post-Season6 hangover, but also because I find inspiration in her character. The ability to have faith in her conviction, take diplomatic decisions when and where required, have her focus undeterred and not shying away from accepting help and counsel from the deserved - one of her well-spoken lines are spoken in reply to "All men must die" as "But we are not 'men'..."

Even if I do not go deep into the troubles faced by a girl/woman in her everyday life, we are experienced enough to understand our own struggles and I hope compassionate enough to empathize with the fellow girls/women. And in such situations, a combination of Tyrion's diplomacy and wit along with Daenerys's confidence comes to the rescue. In such times, when it takes a lot to keep one's head from exploding do we need to remember that it does not help to challenge a giant as Prince Oberyn did or face the powerful enemy headlong like Ned Stark. Sometimes, one needs to bend temporarily to be able to survive permanently. And though such advice or musings may seem diplomatic and probably complicated to some, will anyone deny it - placing their hands on their hearts - that they do not follow this, not even once, not even a little? It's easy to judge. It's tough to face.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


How about you start reading this post by not reading my personal views, but answering some very short questions? How about, do you like to eat alone at home or at restaurants? Or, do you like to watch movies alone at theaters? Or, do you like to take long walks or destination-less bus rides al by yourself?

If the answers to the above-mentioned questions are in the affirmative, and you are ‘single’, then it’s a pretty common habit that you have. And even if the answers are in the negative, the society is not realy going to bash you up for wanting human company. However, if you are engaged or married, and yet you enjoy your own company, there are chances that sooner or later, you’ll be termed ‘selfish’, ‘loner’, ‘strange’ or even ‘abnormal’.

I enjoy a lone meal, may be at KFC or Domino’s or even a restaurant. I don’t feel guilty having a long walk with a cup of ice-cream or frozen yogurt and wondering about the workings of the world. And I definitely don’t mind travelling by myself, even if it’s for the first time and it’s a long journey. It doesn’t always have to be the company of headphones to avoid unnecessary conversations. I can simply look out of the window and be lost in a different world.

But is this behaviour accepted? Once, I had heard a gentleman commenting about youngsters listening to music on their journey saying that if you are out in the world, you need to interact with the people and not hide yourself behind the headphones. I was too young to protest back then. But today, I would like to pose a question – Why should everybody have the same personality or attitude towards the world and interaction with it? It may so be that I am out in the world as a compulsion, and would very much like to sit back at home and read a few pages from n old, torn book. It may so also be that I enjoy my own company in such a manner that I don’t need anybody else to enjoy a good meal, or a good movie. I would rather watch a good movie separately and then discuss with someone interested about it, than gather people to watch a movie I am interested in but just afraid “What would people say!” if I go alone.

Also, why is it a ‘crime’ to be fluent and well-versed and comfortable in a different language than your mother tongue? Does it only signify how snobbish you are? Or can it also mean that your medium of instruction has been different and you are simply mean that you are more interested in the beauty of a particular language, without demeaning any other language of the world?

Why are we so quick to judge? Why are we hell-bent on believing and arguing and proving that what we know and believe is the only correct way? Why can’t it be an open-forum discussion? Why does always have to be a win or lose situation?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Musings on a lonely evening

Paintings on the wall,
Paintings of the world.
She hung them on the wall,
With utmost love and care.

Her mother had told her –
“You’ll be happy, mark my words.”
She swallowed back a few tears,
Happiness was not to be hers.

Venting out through silly art,
Filling up the void -
She had none but herself to blame
Choosing the fire, not the soil.

It was too early to leave,
Too late to pick up the pieces -
She breathed in the poisonous air
In the world of champagne and air-kisses.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Horizons

Without any beating about the bush, let's come directly to the point. It's been a month since I have been married. However, this post is not about how I got married, or what I bought for the wedding or even how much fun the whole marriage event has been. This post, rather, is about life after marriage.

For all the single girls out there, life after marriage is usually shown through a rose-tinted glass where we are told that we will be absolutely happy after marriage, there will be a lot of Yash Raj Film-esque romance, and no doubt a lot of pampering and fun. I don't want to shatter your hopes, girls. No doubt there will be all these things if you are lucky. I am. However, there will be a lot of other things too.

There will be days when you wouldn't want to get up in the morning, but you'd have to, just because an entire family now depends on you. You may not want to dress up in the evening after a long day's work when the maid is on leave (provided your newly shifted base affords you to keep a maid) but you won't be able to roam about in the house in shorts or pyjamas. And if you are one of those who has shifted to a ridiculously expensive city where the salary of the maid makes you wonder whether you should take up her job instead, then may the Lord help you!

It's probably not about the work that you have to do. It's mostly about the false aura of romance and fantasy that surrounds the idea of marriage. Marriage has nothing to do with opening the door for your husband clad in chiffon when he returns from office. Or about serving Coca-Cola to your in-laws when they ask for too many choices of beverages. Or warming frozen food to impress your in-laws. Marriage is about growing up. Sometimes, all of a sudden, while sometimes a day at a time. But most of all, marriage is learning to be unselfish.

This post, being my first one after my wedding, is probably a tad bit emotional compared to my previous ones. I hope the nest ones will be less heavy and more according to my original style.