Friday, March 30, 2018

When a woman failed as a woman, human, citizen and mother


I was travelling from Warangal to Secunderabad last Sunday. Owing to my unplanned travel, I couldn’t reserve my ticket in advance and realized a few hours before the travel that the reservation window had closed. With no other option, I had to travel in a general compartment. Besides, my interest in travelling with common people trying to know their untold stories would be satiated.

While on the platform before the arrival of the train, I learnt that there was a ladies coach to this train. I frantically moved to the end of the platform to board the ladies coach. A few minutes after boarding the train, I tried to settle down in the pandemonium. As I still tried to figure out a corner to settle down, the train left the station with a gentle push.

I looked around and noticed a lot of men travelling in the ladies coach. A boy 15-17 years old was savoring his samosas sitting in the single window seat. Soon I noticed that the men who entered the ladies coach comfortably settled down on the seats and I could see many women standing. An old woman, who could barely stand looked around for a seat and requested people to budge a little. None responded positively. So, she settled down on the floor.

Seeing this, I requested the teenage boy to get up from the seat. I said that the coach was allocated for ladies and seats should be offered to them. He arrogantly said “No” and looked outside the window. I again asked him to get up from the seat. He replied nonchalantly, “this coach is not a ladies coach.” I reminded him of the signboard written on the train. He didn’t reply to this, and another woman, whom I supposed to be his mother, pitched in.

“If this is a ladies’ coach, why are there many men in the coach? Ask them to get down. And he is not going to get up. This is not a metro to argue for rights. This is not a city bus or city train!” she said obstinately.

“Of course, no men should be allowed. But, most of them are senior citizens and hence, I didn’t request them. Moreover, I am asking for my right,” I replied controlling my temper.

She began to argue to that, and we had a verbal exchange; people in the coach witnessed everything but none intervened.

I travelled for another 1 and half hours standing in a coach that is allocated for women, and men sat sans a feeling of guilt or remorse. Well, it wasn’t just the pain of standing, but the failure of society that hurt.

The mother of the teenager had failed at many levels.

  •  As a woman she didn’t see what other women in the coach were undergoing. I was absolutely fine physically. What would have happened if a girl on periods, a pregnant lady, an old woman, or a woman with arthritis or any medical aliment had stood in my place?
  • As a citizen she failed to abide by the rules and regulations of this country.
  • As a mother she utterly failed to pass on human values, principles, conformity to certain rules to her son. In addition to this, she backed her son in his folly; thoroughly disregarding her duty as a mom, and showing him that disrespecting women is no big deal.
  • As a human being, she didn’t feel the ordeal of a 70 year old, and refused to budge while she comfortably sat in her place.

Had she been an illiterate woman unaware of social responsibilities, I would have given her the benefit of doubt. That wasn’t the case. She was an educated woman who owned a smartphone, watched videos on youtube and conversed in English. The other educated women on the coach too silently adjusted without uttering a word.

I understand that not everyone can raise their voice or stand firmly. But, why did they become only dead spectators? We witness huge support from women from various classes, regions on social media. Videos, write-ups on women are liked, shared and forwarded; but why do these girls fail in reality?

The horror of low cost/quality Sanitary Napkins


I was 12 when puberty kicked in. Unlike for many others, it was a smooth transition for me from childhood to adolescence sans stomach ache and cramps. But, very soon I realized menses don’t come to women at such cheap cost. I used to suffer back pain and have had terrible times due to Menorrhagia (Heavy bleeding) during the initial years. My understanding of these cycles, nature of procreation, and the importance of sacred blood was limited. The fundamentals of biological evolution didn’t dawn upon me immediately after adolescence. It took me years to connect the dots. I blatantly blame the society for making it an unavowed topic. No one ever educated me on this until one fine day it was sort of clearly discussed in Zoology class during my 11th standard.

My tryst with Menorrhagia during teens was intolerable and often made me end up being petulant during those days. The days used to be dim, fatigued and wrecked. Travelling, important events were either planned after the first three days or before that. There were times; I skipped school/college primarily because of this. I have had days where I ended up staining clothes, bed sheets even after using the best sanitary pads available in the market. I kept trying new methods to relieve from this horror. I have tried cloth, various kinds of sanitary pads to shun the mess. With each passing cycle, the deducing pain, I found ways to deal it with elegance. However, the learning curve and acceptance wasn’t smooth. From cursing all the Gods out there for the endurance to celebrating the 204th period, I have come a long way.

The experience I had using the low cost sanitary pad was nothing less than a disappointment rather a disaster. Each time I used the low cost/quality pad, I was forced to change in a span to 2-3 hours (sometimes lesser than that) which is nearly half the time I take to change when I use the cloth or high price pads. No, I am endorsing the high priced sanitary napkins. Though I wouldn’t mind doing it for the comfort they have been offering me. The point I am trying to put across is of quality. The equation is simple here. It is a universal fact, “You pay high price to get the best quality”. For someone like me who can easily compromise on the quality and brand in general, sustainability is of high importance and necessary when it comes to sanitary pads. Moreover, who would peep into your panties to see the brands? Comfort factor and smooth day matters.

Ever since the articles on low cost sanitary pads to rural women started spurting, I had tears of joy. Oh boy! Periods are going to be easy to my tribe than ever. I thought that was a marvel. Period. But, Alas! It didn’t take me much time to ponder on the quality of these pads. While all the headlines read low cost, none mentioned about the durability and the quality. My apprehensions have grown with time. I tried gathering information on these pads, read couple of blogs, checked images and to my utter dismay found out that they fail to serve the purpose. The size, shape, thickness, support systems (most of them aren’t manufactured with wings) gives a fair idea on how the inventors have been thoroughly focusing on creating a pad in low cost compromising on the quality. These definitely fail to give a reassurance to a teen/woman suffering from Menorraghia, which is explicitly a common phenomenon. Honestly, I wouldn’t use even if they are supplied to me for free of cost simply for the fear of staining or running into the washroom every 2 hours.

Today, a girl like me enjoying life in the urban setup with all the advanced facilities of transportation, washrooms, air conditioning and best sanitary pads/menstrual cups/tampoons still encounter issues and strictly avoid using light coloured clothes, physical activity and travelling during menstruation. Then, how does the inventors/NGO’s think our rural folks who travel kilometers on uneven roads to fetch water, walk to schools/colleges, and do physical activity in the fields manage their chums with these low quality pads. How can we expect these women to go behind the bushes every few hours (We can’t ignore the fact that most of them don’t use undergarments)? Where will the high school girls go to change the pad in the middle of the class (Oh yeah! Many Schools don’t even have toilets)? When these pads don’t suit me, how will they suit the rural women? Why do we often end up assuming things and make prototypes in our huge glass buildings. How can we take their vaginas for granted when theirs are no different from ours. The menstrual blood is thick red whatsoever, whomsoever and not pale.

The need is not just low cost pads but decent sustainable pads at low cost. We shall be doing no good by forcing our sisters in the other parts of the country to use these pads because unfortunately, our vaginas don’t bleed as per our economic statuses. They bleed heavy, thick, in clots too many a times. We shall be pushing them into embarrassing moments of staining their clothes, changing pads, running behind the bushes and ultimately purchasing more number of low quality pads. Thus, eventually coercing them to reject the pads embracing their age old methods. And, we might witness that spectacular failure if we don’t change our approach.

P.S. When people are upgrading to menstrual cups, shouldn’t we think of introducing them directly to cups instead of pads

Happy Women's Day !!


My mother was the 8th child of 9 children to my grandparents. My grandfather was a freedom fighter and a farmer. His wife, my grand mother is a dynamic lady (now 95 and enthusiastic) was a home maker who carried on her shoulders the responsibilities of the huge house and her children. She lost her husband to cardiac arrest in her middle age. My mother became fatherless at a very young age. She then became the responsibility of her elder brother. She did her primary schooling in her village and was moved to a nearby town to complete her high school. She used to stay at her elder brother’s house, who by then was married with kids. She spent most of her growing years away from her mother too. She would do household chores and attend school. Her tender hands washed clothes, utensils, cleaned house and all miscellaneous activities. She was innocent, naive to retaliate or demand. It wasn’t easy for her. There was no one to hear her fears, insecurities, and dreams. She was often shamed for her dark skin. Her relationship with her brothers and sisters was formal and more of veneration than love due to the huge age difference. There is nothing like the love and affection from the parents and she somewhere missed it all throughout her life albeit being surrounded by her brothers and sisters. At times, she recalls the times when she would weep inconsolably at the bus stop for staying away from her mother.

As time went by, she accepted the circumstances and made peace with the truth of her life. Post completing high school, she expressed her desire to go for higher studies. “Girls don’t need higher studies. Minimum education is enough. Learning household chores and crafts are important” was the staunch reply she received from her elders. Unfortunately, my grandmother also couldn’t stand by her. My mother wept for days but it went in vain. Later, she stayed with her maternal uncle and his family in another town. She enrolled herself for typing courses. Time flew by. Looking after her grandmother, moving different houses, mastering domestic chores, crafts and all is what my mother’s childhood and teens was about.

Post marriage, she entered my father’s house where she was given all the responsibilities of the house. Though she got married into a reputed family of landlords, by the she got married, the family lost most of their assets and was living merely. It was tough for her moving from a 11 room house in her maykaa to a 4 room house in sasuraal. She spread her effervescence, handled things poignantly. She was tested all levels. She was toiled physically, emotionally and mentally. My mother would manage the house with the mere income my father earned. Back then, it was joint family of 10 members. Within an year after her marriage, I was born. People made fun of the situation again. She was blamed for giving birth to a girl baby and that too when financial conditions were weak. My brother was born 2 years later. As fate would say it, things improved after his birth. My father got a better job.

After persistent persuasion by my mother, my father moved us to a city for our better education. She would look after my brother, my cousin and me. She used cook, finish her work in the kitchen and always engaged herself in the productive activities. She is a cleanliness freak. Even today, she relentlessly works throughout the day without taking a nap during the day. My father is no easy man. It is indeed difficult to stay with a stubborn, conservative, headstrong, preposterous person. She sailed through tough times. All throughout, she withheld the pain and wouldn’t show it on her face. Her only dream was to see her children shine bright and get settled well. She went beyond her boundaries to make them take up their interested courses. Sometimes, she fought with her husband too. Never she asked for a saree, gold or a solitaire. She only wished for a peaceful life with her children.

It was in 2006 for the first time, she was distanced from her son. My brother went to a residential college to complete his 12th. I vividly remember that day when she wept for hours. Later in 2009, I moved out of the house for higher studies. My mother broke down for another time. I couldn’t forget for a longtime her tear filled eyes leaving me in the hostel. With both the children flying to find their ways, she had plenty of time. She filled it with service and spirituality. She made friends and won hearts. She created her world with friends, temples, pujas, tours to holy places.. etc. In all the years, she hoped and believed that good days are yet to come and her divine Saibaba is going to solve the problems.

Every baby victory of her children made her proud. She would overwhelm with the laurels they brought to her. At whatever note the night ended, she looked forward to sunshine. I cannot think of day she slept worry less. Albeit her health conditions, surgeries, she would wake up at 5 in the morning and get into her routine. She pulled herself out of the bed even during the worst times. She has built resilience, strength, patience, willpower in these years. She has built my brother and me. Never in my life, I saw her breaking down to the core. 25th December, 2017 was that unfortunate day, she was told the heartbreaking news that her son left this world. For the first time ever, I saw no life in her eyes. I couldn’t face her. I couldn’t tell her everything is ok. I couldn’t console her heart. For the first time ever, I saw a shattered version of her at all levels. I couldn’t tell her that her dreams are broken brutally. There is only emptiness and agony in her. I cannot fathom all the things she has undergone since childhood. Yet, she mustered courage to see sunshine, never giving up on life. Despite all the wrecks, today she gathers strength to wake up to fulfill her duties as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and wears many other hats.

Today, as I think of my mother and other similar women out there, I feel what can truly make up to their sacrifices. What matches their empathy. What is above their selfless, unconditional love. Is there any other great creation on this planet other than a woman? Without her, life will not progress. Families will not be built. Humanity will cease to exist. Love, compassion, patience will lose their true meanings. Womanhood cannot be celebrated in a single day. Nonetheless, on this day when some category of the world decided to put woman first and celebrate her against the rooted patriarchy, I wish you

“Happy International Women’s Day” !!!


Saturday, February 10, 2018

On a dinner date


Just when I decided to behave sophisticated while eating with perfectly manicured waxed hands holding fork and knife, shaped and coloured fragile nails brimming sexily, delicate fingers gently tapping my lipstick filled arched lip corners with decoupage tissues after each morsel, a plate of biryani was served on the table.

Then what?

My jungliness was exposed instantly when munching chicken leg piece.

My bae thanked the waiter and left immediately. Darn !! I have no clue why he did that.

I still have another leg piece to finish. Anyone wanna join?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

After Betrayal


To my heavy heart, moist eyes
To my onerous step, shoddy lungs
To my mourning lips, dead ears
To my longing cheeks, trembling fingers
To my lifeless hair, withering skin
I tell to console themselves
I tell to gather strength
I tell to rejuvenate and coax each other
For he is gone far beyond
Leaving me midway
For that bloody bitch
Who wears luring kohl
And annoying heels
I pray for them to reach hell
Soon and jointly!

World Human's Day


One fine day, few people felt there is a need to declare a particular day of the year to celebrate a cause, success, in memory of a person or a mission. So, they declared 1st December for the cause they were working for. Since they did, some other set of humans did declare another day for their celebration. This became epidemic. People round the globe started dedicating days for “dogs, cats, diseases, bicycles, rocks, emotions, activities....etc”. There were “World safety pin day” and “World lazy day” too. 365 days were all booked. No day was left out.

A wise gentleman one day realized that humans declared days for emotions, pets, luxury items but they haven’t declared a day for themselves. So, a highly intellectual team sat down to brainstorm. Unfortunate, all the days were booked. So, it was decided that Humans will share their day. Finally, the team was happy that they were declaring “World human’s day”. They rejoiced. But, wild pigs weren’t happy with this decision. Why? Because humans were sharing the day declared for pigs, and little piglets considered themselves superior than “Humans”.

They say "Humans create more dirt on Earth than us".

P.S. Absolutely pun intended.

Little Worries


Today,

Your alarm might have ditched you wickedly
You might have missed your bus
You might have skipped your breakfast
You might have been the victim of splashed muddy water by a speedy car
You might be running out of liquid cash
You might have been embarrassed for reporting late to an important meeting
You might have ate fried fish by mistake on an auspicious tuesday
You might have given the exam badly
You might have had an argument with your wife, mom, brother, boss, colleague or an unknown person
You might have had a bad day till now
You might be in deep soup, turmoil and suffering

Chill.. take a deep breath.. smile and say "Bring it on".

Life is too big to worry about little things.