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FROM THE PEN OF AN AMATEUR WRITER.

Am I really strong??

What made you think that I had the strength to bear it all?? What made you think that I will be able to survive this at all?

What extra did you see in me, that you showered me with pain, the very thought of which, can make others insane??

Or did you add some special power or quality while sending me in my mother’s womb??

What was it God?? What was it?? Why did you choose me?? Why me??

I’m just an ordinary human, like anyone else that you brought into this world. But why couldn’t you provide me with parents or people who could show some care and true concern?? The orphanage turned a blind eye towards my wails and cries, as I took to the concrete for more sleepless night. The lady in the car said, they have the strength to bear this difficult life. But, I don’t want this strength, all I want is a life to live by.

I’m just an ordinary human. I can’t recall of any superpowers that you bestowed. But you took away the child I nurtured in my womb, without even giving me a chance to see him grow into a man, I wanted him to be. You took away something that I created with so much pain, hardship and love. What wrong did I do to bear this pain? If I were you, I wouldn’t have the heart to take a child away from her mother. But you did, and the world consoled us by telling that you give pain to those who can bear. But really god, really?? Do you really think we had the strength to deal with the loss?? No..No, one has. I am weak, the weakest of them all, yet I’m made to believe that I have the strength to bear it all.

I’m just an ordinary human, not a warrior at all. But I fought till I lost my consciousness, praying for their conscience to hit them hard. Their conscience didn’t intervene, as they tore my dignity apart. I still hear the whispers of my neighbors, as I sheepishly pass by. But, how am I at fault?? Where was I wrong? You weakened me further, thinking I had the strength to bear it all. It’s a tough world to fight against…that too with so little support. I wanted to end it all, escape from this humiliating life..but, someone said, god is there with you. If you are there, why can’t justice be served?? Why can’t the culprits hide, while I walk my head held high??

I’m just an ordinary human, with no place to go. My hungry daughter cries in my arms, as I struggle for some food. I could give away my life to save her, but will you look after her, when I’m gone?? Or will she be left all alone in this tormenting world?? Will she be tested a million times for her strength??

I’m just an ordinary human, a mere puppet in their hands. With strings tied so hard, that I dare not try. I want to cut those strings and run away, but my wings were cut, even before I was born. My strength and endurance is tested everyday, as they know, I can’t escape. I pray, I keep praying for a better life, until one day I finally close my eyes. I wasn’t that strong, as you thought. I heard them say, she should have fought. But, did they even know, how badly I tried??

If living in pain is what we define strength as, then I want to be the weakest person on Earth. Even when the whole world thinks, that I am strong enough to bear all the pain, ask me once to see, how weak am I?

I don’t know how much more, I have to bear, but somehow I feel this is how life is supposed to be..But, at the end of the day, please refrain from saying that I had the strength to bear it all. Because I know, there’s a point when we all breakdown, we reach our low…but then we pick us up, and continue the show..

The day I got lost…

The other day I got lost..

But getting lost, was perhaps the best thing that happened to me in a while…

I should have been scared, as in front of me lay the darkest of dungeons and the vilest of creatures with the power to wreck the very essence of a fairy tale..

But within that cacophony of chaos, fear, love and betrayal, I rediscovered my happy…

Sadly, they found me and brought me back to the face of reality..

But the devil in me smirked, as they fell

One cold wintery December night…

“Hmm..” she sighed, as she tossed for the 7th time. She knew that pretty soon she would lose the count. But counting helped, at times.

Someone suggested her to count sheep. Huh!! She must have counted a million by now, but so far sleep seemed like a distant dream.

She recollected, those lazy Sundays when they slept like a baby, sometimes, till 12 in the noon. The milkman, the doorbell, the newspaper boy, the cricket matches, nothing had the power to wake them up. The kiss, he would plant on her forehead, on waking up. The warm cup of tea..

Huh! She sighed..and silently wept as her baby rolled to the other side.

May be, its a dearth of fresh air. She got up from the bed. A gush of cold air bypassed her heart. She sighed, as up ahead was another long wintery night.

December. It was her favourite month. But this year she just wanted it to pass. She remembered, how he would hug her and pull her blanket while sleeping and then how she pulled it back and how their legs crisscrossed even when they turned their backs. How important was that one touch. How that touch, made her fall asleep, within seconds, in his arms. The warmth he gave her, in those chilly wintery nights. And now, all of a sudden it was all simply gone.

She went near the door. She could hear him snore. She remembered how pitifully she begged him to come to her room, which he shrewdly denied. He told her, it was work pressure, but her heart could sense the reason behind. She knew something was terribly wrong in her life.

Never before, he had slept a night without her, by his side. She was his warm blanket, for every single wintery night. But this winter, his preference have changed.

She went back to hit her cold bed, her bundle of joy, sleeping tight. She looked at him and closed her eyes. The clock, kept ticking, ignoring her, like all the other nights. She kept tossing, till her body could bear no more. But, still sleep managed to maintain a distance, from her pain stricken eyes. Finally she, succumbed to the provoking pills lying by her bedside.

After a long struggle, she could finally sleep like her baby. Finally, she could ignore those uncanny chatty voices talking to her, in her mind. Finally, her world became calmer. Finally, her blanket became warmer.

“Mumma!! Mumma!!” She struggled to open her eyes. But, he gave her a brilliant smiled. For him, she shall embrace, life.

The ignorant snores, kept bothering her for many more nights. The pain kept piling up. She lamented while wondering, how he could sleep with it, and how she could not, even when it was he, who was at fault.

She wondered how weak was his love, a slight provocation and it was all gone…But, it was time for her, to be strong.

After a while, things changed. He changed. He apologised. But by then, she too, had changed.

One night, he came back to sleep in her room. But by then she had learned to sleep without him.

Her tossing and turning started once again. Those cuddles, that once she starved for, were now gnawing her. That touch, which she had craved for, felt filthy. Once again, her fingers, foraged the bedside table, in hope of some sleep.

He begged..She cried..but by then accepting him back, had become an unbearable pain.

Her love got frozen during one of those cold wintery December nights…December used to be her favourite season..but now it has lost its reason…

Tomorrow will be better…

“I am sorry. I am so sorry. Tomorrow will be better.” I kissed him goodnight. As usual, with teary eyes.

There’s something mysterious about a sleeping child. You can’t stop yourself from pouring all your love, when they fall asleep. And they, with their adorable sleepy faces, can unleash all your hidden love and guilt. One glimpse of that innocence, and there begins your long unendurable guilt trip.

But, the moment they wake up, you are ready to take back your words, break your promises, without a second thought. Such is the power, of our little ones. One moment they make you regret your actions and the very next moment, they force you to find that secret safe space.

They can throw all the possible tantrums in a matter of few mili seconds, and tempt you to lose your cool. And then, confuse you almost immediately, with an endearing grin.

But, life wasn’t this bad or this complicated before. Was it?? It was better, I guess. After a year of dealing with the pandemic and a semi/full house arrest, somehow we have managed to let our demons free. And that demon, never fails to turn our lives topsy turvy.

Initially, when it started, I thought, Oh! Never mind. This is just a one time thing. It won’t happen again. I won’t lose my cool.

But that was the first time. I was totally unaware that there was more to follow. I had always been very proud of myself for following a minimum scolding and no hitting policy. My approach has always been very friendly.

However, over the time, I kept losing my cool. Somehow, the frequency of me losing my cool, kept gaining pace with every passing day. And somehow, it soon became a habit. And it would invariably, take me on a guilt trip, every night, especially at bed time.

“Oh! What a horrible mother I must be..no one shouts at their child like I do. What has become of me?? What if, my behaviour damages his childhood memories. Already we are dealing a lot of emotional stress due to pandemic. How should I work towards changing my behaviour towards my child? I must be ruining his future. May be this irritation and frustration has become a part of me..No…No.. Tomorrow will be better. I promise you baby that from tomorrow, I will be a changed person. I will deal with your tantrums, more empathetically. I will try to maintain my calm, no matter bad the situation gets.”

And so on..My thoughts on being a good mother, kept pouring inside my already disturbed brain. I immediately googled to find methods of dealing with the tantrums of kids and how to control my temperament, how not to lose my cool. I read and re-read, promised myself. But more than learning my lesson, I did that to get out of that guilt trip.

Yes..Tomorrow will be better. I promised, once again.

Wow!! Today indeed was better. I have become a much better and calmer person. I have managed the whole day without yelling. And my son, too, was at his best behaviour.

But, my subconscious mind said, “Don’t get so happy Momma. Wait until tomorrow or day after.”

“Tomorrow will be better darling.” I kissed him goodnight with welled eyes, yet again.

And to my dismay, the saga continued on and off.

To be frank, writing this blog is also a part of that guilt trip, may be. I’m trying my best to be at my very best. And my little one is trying hard to be in his best behaviour. But at times, we both lose it. We both know, what we are doing is wrong. And we both are aware that there’s room for improvement. And may be this is how life actually is. Pandemic or no pandemic, we do few things, that we regret. But, the fact that we keep searching for areas or methods to improve ourselves, our behaviour, is proof enough, that we have not given up. We care for one another and have each other’s back.

My mother had scolded me, but still we share a very special bond. May be, my son too will realise the same. What may come, no matter how bad the day has gotten, we both have always reached a point, where we had apologised to each other for our bad behaviour. And I think this realisation is all that is important. The fact that we realise and accept our mistakes, probably brings us one step closer towards a better tomorrow.

And believe me mommies..Tomorrow will be better.. No matter how bad today has turned out to be. Have faith!!

With love..From Indian National Flag..

“I don’t know how many more…

I don’t know how much more..

I don’t whether this will ever end..

But, what may come..never for once, they let me bend…

I feel overburdened with their selfless sacrifice…

Oh!! How I wish my flutters , came without a hefty price..

They gave up their existence, but never abandoned my side..

For them, I have to flutter….flutter forever with pride…

Even when the petrichor emanates the uncountable bloodlines..

Even when I see them grieving, the departure of their precious lifelines..

The uncountable orphans, the widows and the childless parents..

I flutter because of their perseverance…

I have to flutter..flutter with pride..

Because in my flutters, lies their sacrifice…

Indian National Flag #kargildiwas

The little gentleman who stole my heart…

“You are the worst mumma in the whole world.”

Yelled my little gentleman.

And almost immediately my heart skipped a beat. His words pricked my heart.

I was tempted to screw his ear but I refrained. Self realisation has always been the most reliable teacher, and I chose to leave it on the teacher.

Though deep down in my heart, I knew, he didn’t mean a word he said, but somehow the sentence made me question my parenting.

“Am I really the worst mother??”

I knew that this was probably just the beginning of all the “ I hate you’s” …and there was more on the way.

But, the question remained, when and how did he get so old and insensitive?? He was just 7year old and he had already started hating me. I felt dejected.

It was just yesterday when he was cooing. And then the coos transformed into indecipherable babbling. And then he uttered his first words with a touch of lisp. Pretty soon, he mastered the art of joining small words to form cute sentences. And now all of a sudden, he has nominated me as the worst mumma of this world, using his limited vocabulary.

And that too, for what?? For Something as silly as the TV.

It made me wonder, when did that idiot box gain so much importance that it shuddered my parenting.

I understand the undying love of a 7year old has for the TV. I truly do. Once upon a time, I too was a 7year old, who was fascinated by the animated characters. And I shouldn’t be blaming him for the same.. But the title of the “ Worst mumma in the world” was definitely not acceptable.

May be, with time, both of us will learn to accept and appreciate each other’s flaws and learn to work towards them. It might take some time for him to understand the underlying consequences of the words he speaks. As humans, we tend to showcase the worst in us, when we are angry. But as parents, we have to help channelise his anger in a more productive way. And this was just the beginning of our journey.

That night, while putting him to bed, I asked him, “Am I really the worst mumma in the world?” I looked at him. His innocent eyes, narrated a different story.

“No mumma, your are the best mumma in this universe. I love you. You know, my friends mumma scolds him more than you scold me for watching Tv. I know you are the best. And I am sorry. But I also love the Tv.”

I planted a kiss on his forehead. This unconditional love from my little gentleman, will forever remain as my most treasured gift from him.

Time flies..I know…We all know…And within a wink, he will grow into a thorough gentleman. But this little gentleman, will remain the most unforgettable person of my life. He will be the one person, who loved me and hated me for the same reason, at the same time.

Parenting isn’t cakewalk. There are times when I cant have enough of him and there are times when all I want, is some space for myself. No matter, how overwhelming or how frustrating or how tiring or how redundant, the job of a parent is, but the rewards associated with it is also immeasurable.

This little gentleman stole my heart, the first time I held him and I will cherish all the beautiful moments we share. He will forever remain the most unforgettable gentleman of my life and I would do anything to relive these moments of sheer joy, pain and unconditional love.

Unscathed!!

The striped blue shirt…

Scores of dust laden books lay around..piled up, unorganised..The kitchen was narrating another malodorous story. The tables and shelves couldn’t bear the load of the dust anymore. The whole house was yelling for her attention.

She wiped the mirror. THERE WAS DIRT IN HER HANDS. Saw her reflection, after ages almost. It look her a while to look into her eyes, to face the mirror. Her iridescent, vibrant, anxious eyes, concealed a secret, a secret that, if unearthed, could crumble her life. But then, she smiled and started laughing out loud. She laughed so hard, her eyes welled up.

She never knew, how this would end. She never knew how to start again. But, she had to start, somewhere. But was that somewhere, somewhere really near??

Was it about time? She thought. Time to let all of it go and leave?? But where would she go?? What would she do?? She has given a solid 7 years to this house. How could she let that go in vain?? 7 horrendous years, 7 years of deceit, 7 years of humiliation and 7 years of pain.

Her skills were minimum. A graduate was all she was. “A worthless graduate,” he had often claimed. Those claims had pierced her heart, ripping it into a million pieces, which till date she struggled to affix. So she rummaged through the heaps of chaotic clothes, like she always did, in search of some solace. The chaos had become too much for her to handle. It had always been. But, now it was time for the chaos to end. Once and for all.

Next, she poured her attention to the book shelves. Those books were her life. They were the only thing that had kept her alive for the cursed 7years. She touched them. A familiar touch. A touch that always caressed her. Her father used to read it to her..and she often dreamt of reading them to her own. If only, she had one.. If only….

Those books were a legacy. The legacy of the Banerjee family. Few were treasured first editions. She couldn’t possibly afford to lose them..Nonetheless, now, she couldn’t afford to keep them.. those books would fetch her a lot of money, more than she could imagine. She needed that money.

The thought kept provoking her. Parting with those books, those memories was going to be tough. Those books defined her, those were her only connection to the family that she once belonged.

She looked around, closed her eyes and sighed heavily. A sigh of anguish. A sigh of relief.

He was no more. It was over a month that he has not put his foot in the house. She had loved him more than she had loved anyone. But he couldn’t value the love he received. With time, her love too faded, just like the rainbow that erodes into the boundless blue.

The man she loved, was in love with someone else. A someone she knew. A someone, she once called friend. A friend who took away “whatever little, that was left.”

He won’t come back ever, that was one thing she was sure of. But, she had learnt to live without him. Time had been an excellent teacher.

She sipped her tea. She reminisced how much he admired that cardamom tea she made. And how after a while, the same tea became distasteful. Infact it wasn’t just the tea she made, fault was found in everything she did. She never knew how flawed she was, until he became a part of her life.

But, today the tea tasted like it used too. The smell of that, cardamom added a vivacious essence to her life, once again.

She piled up the books, a selected few. Those fews, which would fetch her a good deal of money. Give her the much awaited fresh start.

She wore her favourite silk kurta, keeping hesitation and shame at bay. That magenta one, which he hated and she treasured. “Only you could choose that disgusting color. You are nothing but an incompetent dweeb.” He used to tell her. Recalling that, she grinned.

But that incompetent dweeb, had left her studies, left her life, left her parents….just to be with him. All for the sake of love. Which, at that time she thought, was enough to last her whole life. However, she received none. Love disappeared and so did the life she had once dreamt of. Her virtues, that he once admired, unknowingly transformed into unforgivable and unacceptable vices.

If only, she had listened to her father and had continued with her studies instead of getting married so early.

If only!! If only!! If only!!

An enduring list of “if only’s” tangoed in front of her eyes. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. She opened the door, carrying the heavy load of books. Finally, she had mustered the courage to live.

She walked by the road, down the lake. That lake was the place where she had first met him. That lake was the place where it all began.

Oh wait!! There was a huge crowd. What was that crowd, all about??

Her heart thumped.

The crowd made sure that they were audible from a distance.

“A corpse was found floating near the place, where water hyacinth flourished in abundance. It was in a really bad state. So bad, that it was beyond recognition.”

She righteously pierced through the crowd to witness the atrocious scene.

That putrescent blue striped shirt looked so familiar. She bought it with the money, she had saved. It was his 37th birthday gift. He wore it the day, they parted their ways.

She left the place, carrying the huge load….But, with a smile on her face..

Let’s make the roads to the school safer…

I was married off at quiet a young age. And so were my sisters. It was nothing uncommon in our village. The reason for early marriage was not to get rid of us. It was to save us.I hail from a village near Ranchi, Jharkhand. My father was the village Mukhiya. So, out of fear we were spared from the brutality of getting raped. Yes, rape. Rape was nothing uncommon in our village back then. Once a girl reached adolescence, it was customary for them to be raped. We did have police, who were aware of the ongoing crime but they chose to remain silent spectators. But,no one came to rescue the poor girls from the clutches of those monsters. If anyone raised their voice against these monsters, their whole family had to pay the price, so it became a hush-hush affair.

Most girls from our village went to school. Yes, it was far away, but still we managed. I, myself studied till class eight, Hindi medium though. My father, had a modern outlook as compared to the rest of the villagers. He wanted us to study, but, the then, prevailing condition in our village, forced him to marry us off at an early age. Especially after my little sister was abducted from a local shop, to be preyed upon.

It gives me Goosebumps, as I narrate this story. My father loved his evening tea. Since, there was no tea leaf at home, so he had sent Chutki, to get some from a nearby shop. It was around 4:30 in the evening. Broad daylight, as I can recall. The water was boiling, as we waited for her to return. She didn’t show up even after 45mins, when the entire errand would have roughly taken 10 minutes for its completion. My restless father left in search of Chutki. She was no where to be found. Finally, word of mouth, revealed the entire episode.

She was lifted from the shop by four drunk men. We all knew who they were. Nobody dared to speak a word against them, cause of the reputation they held.Ironically nobody even tried to rescue Chutki from their evil clutches. Sadly, this was not a one time incident. These were very common in our village. But, by god’s grace Chutki was rescued. Thanks to Sarla masi. She was taken to a school. It was the same school  where we used to study. The four known delinquents, were waiting for their fifth partner to join them in their crime. Chutki cried for help. Sarla masi recognised her voice. Her house was located adjacent to the school. She came down with a big laathi(stick) , and rescued our little Chutki. Had it not been for her, we would have found a blood stained Chutki trying to overcome the mentaland physical trauma. But, the brave Sarla masi, our Rani Laxmibai, became our savior.

So, after that incident, my father started marrying us off, one by one. Only our youngest sister was spared, since she was too young to be married. It’s been many years, since that incidence, but still makes us shiver. Chutki is happily married, with two sons. My father, is no more. My sister and mother lives in the village. The village is still not safe for girls to roam around freely or go to school,as the travel distance is beyond imagination.

I have the right to live my dreams, I have the right to education. I wanted to learn more. But circumstances forced me to choose something different. Something that I was not ready for. Now,I’m struggling to make my younger sister follow her dreams. She will be giving her 12th boards next year. She is home schooling, as the high school is far away from our village. Plus, the safety issues also pose a restriction. Not only on us, but for each and every girl of our village.

We want the girls to be educated, but before we think about educating them, we should think about making the roads leading to schools safer. Allowing them to roam around without any fear. Making schools accessible to each and every one of them. Every village should have their own schools. It’s tough for girls to travel so much everyday to study. Many drop out of the schools for this reason. There’s no one to accompany the girls everyday or guarantee their safety, on their way to school. So, parents are forced to marry off their daughters instead of encouraging them to study.

If we want an educated India, we would have to make India, a lot safer. We have to invest in building schools within the reach of these girls.Schools were meant to help us learn new things, to educate us, not to be used as a place to molest girls. Police are meant for our protection, not to be silent spectators. There are large number of plans made by our honorable government, to help the female gender, but their applicability is still questionable. There are schools, but they lack the basic infrastructure and at times, even teachers.

As far as our village was concerned, there was a school, parents encouraged the girls to go to school, but the girls were not safe. The safety of the girls were always at stake. 15 years later, now, our village is better,but still unsafe for the girls.Providing a safe environment to the girls can help boost up the education process. And for this we need strict laws and their proper implementation. We focus on educating the female child,empowering them, but we fail at providing them a safe environment.

P.S. The story is written as narrated and is based on true incidents. The identities of the characters have been changed to maintain anonymity.

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