Nirbhaya

nirbhaya

I don’t smile at strangers

For I will be called easy

I don’t dance in public

For the fear of being sleazy

I wear make-up but not too much

For I am not a whore

I walk alone but not always

For then I’d be cold

I look away when they stare

For it’s their birth right

I never walk in shadows

For that means I’m aching for a fight

I fight but don’t resist

For you have to pick your battles

I wait for my moment but don’t wait too long

For while the pain is bad; my wrath will be worse

 

High Strings

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Her eyes are deep
Like the unknown sea
Of doubt and despair
Of destiny and fantasy

She smiles like the sun
Sighs like the gentle wind
Her mind, though, is black and white
And her heart is rather dim

She feigns acute pain
Before her life has even begun
She isn’t too bad though
She is just high strung

Her touch is sweet
And her hair moves like the breeze
But not many have been charmed
By the grace of an empty leaf

She’d hold your hand
Like in her world you matter the most
But when the lights go up
She vanishes like a ghost

She loves like a goddess
Of your thousand splendid suns
And you wonder if you’re falling in love
Even though she is so high strung

She looks so beautiful
Perched at the edge of her faithful mirror
You almost ignore the imperfect
Way she holds the scissors

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You shower her with gifts
She pretends it turns her on
Smiles her empty smile
When you hand over the latest Louis Vuitton

And when the day she walks away
Leaving your heart tortured and broken
You wonder if it was because of you
Or was she just high strung

A Suitable Girl

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For when you think I’m too old
To love and to have and to hold
Your Dorian laughs in his frame
As cracks appear across his face

For when you tell me I should cook
And not be reading so many books
Your kitchen sink mocks you
When everyday your dinner gets brutally bruised

For when you chide me for being too loud
And ask me to hold my tongue in a crowd
You know not how your friends oblige
By laughing when you really make them cry

For when you wonder if I’d be a good trophy
Me, with my innate lack of propriety
Your workplace thanks heavens
When you step away from matters of importance

For when you check if I’m “suitable”
If I’m a good enough “marriage material”
Alas! You are not able to see
You are not good enough for me!

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Ramblings…

I haven’t been here for a while. And well it has almost been as if I were cheating on someone. Like this book that stares you through from the corner of the eye and then jeers away the moment you turn around. So here’s starting with an apology to the mirror, I have been living far away from you for a lack of emotion.
But for the first time in many years, I do not have a feeling of extreme. No joy, no real sorrow. I am just trudging along an existence. I have made new friends, rejoined the old and through it all one thing remains – my renewed faith in life. Oh, Great! Now  I sound like I have come right out of an Elizabeth Gilbert book. But this is not a claim to being a romantic (I saw that in my mirror a long time ago)
This is just a diary entry that everyone should write once in a while to remind themselves of the beautiful people around them. A few days ago this cousin of mine left her humble origins at my dad’s village in Kerala behind to do her masters at one of most prestigious arts college in Chennai. Her neighborhood at the village wasn’t exactly the most conducive environment for studying; in fact the biggest ambition in the family was perhaps to go work in Palakkad (the nearest town). For girls, in particular, the ambition starts and ends at a marriage.
The education system in Kerala doesn’t really help the undergraduates if they want to leave the state. My cousin’s biggest fear is not being able to understand her class as even though she studied in an English medium Arts college in Trissur, the classes were mostly in Malayalam.
But despite of all of this, she is here. She is scared, is tentative about the course but nonetheless she is here. I feel proud, scared and this incessant need to constantly call her up to check on her and I wonder did my elder sister ever feel that anxious for me? Perhaps she did and never showed it or perhaps even better she had such belief in me that she knew I’d do well wherever I’d go.
Sisterhood is difficult, because you aren’t allowed to be as clingy as say a mother to her child and yet you can’t help but worry about the little girl or boy who walked in your shadows all your life and then one day decided to step up to the sun. The feeling was till now unknown to me for I was the little girl in the picture. But the past few days have been pretty different.
I often wonder had I been in my cousin’s place would I have had the drive to be anywhere close to where she is. To be driven when the whole world around you is asking (sometimes begging!) you to succeed is easy. But to look for greatness when you are really surrounded by none is the biggest challenge. This one is a tribute to my little warrior! Hope she prevails the big bad city!

In a stereotypical world…


“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf

I suppose the typical urban woman would consider the above thought almost biblical. But the truth remains, that our voice as an entire gender is almost always driven by stereotypes. A man has to deal with only common identity issues like which place or what religion he belongs to. We, women on the hand, spend all of our lives fighting stereotypes (and add to that the normal communal and geographical ones too common to all MANkind!) Even now half of the audience reading this would probably think in their heads oh, this WOMAN is getting emotional, is becoming a feminist, and is, well, a recent word I made up – womany!

I was searching for ways of getting published (aren’t we all?) and stumbled across this blog that explains how the New Yorker and the NY times have a majority of female audiences and yet most of their writers are male. It went on to talk about how women tend to write about more personal things and these journals do not consider that as literary prowess and that women writers are “intimidated by the white male culture” as the editor of Atlantic Monthly pointed out. So the article makes two assumptions, one that women are incapable of writing big policy pieces, and second, their “emotional” articles and those with a “sexy twist on work/life drama” is not worthy of literary recognition. This coming from a country that boasts of having a woman in a key policy making position.

It is true though, we like to write about what we feel rather than what we see, but whoever said that policy decisions and strategic moves for a nation or a corporate for that matter have to be devoid of all emotion and empathy?!

Remember the times when women had to write under a pseudonym to be published? Well, by the looks of the times today, we aren’t very far from that world. (I used to think we are) There are still occupations women are “not good at”. (A stereotype we fight every single day at our workplace) Like recently a classmate of mine observed, “Women are not good traders.” Another once mentioned how “women can never understand politics.” I am reminded of how many men rejected marriage proposals because the girl was a journalist (she wouldn’t be able to do justice to her “duties” as a wife)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to stand on soap boxes and hate men for their stereotypes, it takes two to tango. If we are so upset with these stereotypes, we should just stop attempting to adhere to them! We should be content with who we are and not try to prove a point every single day at our work place. (Lesson to self!)

I’m not a feminist or a nihilist (Gosh I hate the “ist” words, they are so patronizing!). But these stereotypes (and the million others I have broken) just make me attempt to fight them just for the heck of it. And it is beginning to get tiring to try and break Plath’s bell jar. Why bother upsetting yourself for somebody who has in his head made the stereotype (unless he/she is your boss: P ). And isn’t the fact that you’re trying to prove yourself mean you yourself believe in the stereotype? I’d rather just be myself and not worry.  However, the real”IST” in me is wondering if I should just swallow my pride and write under a pseudonym, who knows the New Yorker might just find me!