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FROM THE PEN OF AN AMATEUR WRITER.

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.

Bring on the Festive Season as something very special is here, to Protekt us…

Durga Pujo, Dussehra ans Diwali, is a rich profusion of fond memories, for all of us. And especially for a Bengali like me, our countdown for the Durga Pujo, begins from the very next day of the Visarjan of Devi Durga. The Pandal hopping, Eating out, cultural programs, the Navratri Dandiya beats, dunuchi naach…there’s so much emotions attached to this festive season.

But, sadly, this year, the things are totally different. We are in the middle of a deadly pandemic. I won’t deny, the spirits of the festive season has definitely, gone down this year. But, it ain’t dead. Its very much alive within the hearts of each one of us.

Yes, the social gatherings, the “addas”(group chats) will be less, and, so would be the shopping sprees, and the dining in’s. But, life has to go on.

And just as the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” There is a way, to enjoy the festivities this year, by adhering to the necessary protocols issued by the Government in our interest.

And under no circumstances, the safety should be compromised. Protecting ourselves, our families from the virus, keeping the requisite social distancing, wearing masks and using sanitizers, washing our hands regularly, can never take a backseat, amidst all the celebrations.

So, here’s how we started the preparation for the season of festivities.

Shopping definitely tops the list. Followed by small family gatherings with some home made cuisines. But, to start with the festive shopping, you need to be well equipped and protected.

The first thing that one should buy is a good quality washable mask. And thankfully, I found Godrej Protekt P-W95 reusable face mask. It’s super breathable and light. It has a 6 layered Germ Shield Technology that filters out more than 95% of bacteria and particles greater than 0.3µm. Perfect for my family.

The second thing, that one needs, is a good quality hand sanitizer. And what better than the Godrej Protekt Hand Sanitizer, that kills 99.9% germs without water and soap and also keeps your hands soft. The 50ml bottle is so handy (fits in your pocket) and has become a member of our family. We never go out without it.

And the third thing, that I would suggest is the Godrej Protekt Disinfectant Air and Surface Spray. One spray and you are 99.9% germ free. This is perhaps my “Best Buy.” I hv used it to sanitize our car, the online shopping packages, the sealed groceries, the trail rooms, the shopping trolleys, the tables and chairs and so many other things.

Now comes the million dollar question, how to enjoy the festive season in a pandemic?? 7 months down the pandemic, I’m sure we all are aware of the basic protocols. Nevertheless, I would like to share a few tips.

1. Try making online purchases. This will certainly minimise the physical visit to the stores. And do remember to sanitize the delivered package with the Godrej Protekt Disinfectant Air and Surface Spray.

2. If you are going to the shops, then choose a time, when the footfall is minimum. And while shopping, make sure, you use the hand sanitizer every time you touch something. I know, it’s exhausting, but that’s the only way to remain safe.

3. Try visiting the standalone shops rather than crowded malls.

4. Make sure that the place you are visiting, monitors temperature of the person entering.

5. If you can’t resist trying out clothes at a retail outlet, then enquire and verify their sanitization process. Most will share it, if they don’t then you have the Godrej Protekt Disinfectant Air and Surface Spray. Use it generously inside the trail rooms.

6. Make sure that your mask is on, throughout the venture.

7. Try leaving kids below 10 yrs and elderlies at home to ensure their safety.

8. Maintain social distancing at all cost. No matter how enjoyable the moment is, don’t compromise your safety for small momentous pleasures. If you are alive, you will have tons of such moments.

9. Avoid mass gatherings at any cost. Everyone may not be maintaining the necessary protocols like you.

10. Even for family gatherings, try cutting down the number of invities..And don’t hesitate to check the temperature of the invites. There’s no harm in ensuring everyone’s safety.

11. And this year instead of gifting clothes, sweets etc. Try gifting and donating masks, sanitizers, soaps, hand washes. Godrej Protekt has a wide range of products, including fruit and vegetable wash to surface disinfectants, antibacterial wipes, sanitizers and sprays.

Here’s wishing you a happy and safe season of festivities. Stay safe and keep others safe.

Women- An epitome of sacrifice…

I’m a woman and I don’t want to be an epitome of sacrifice. Period!!

Neither do I crave to be in everyone’s good books. I am perfectly aware of my flaws. And I’m in complete harmony, with my sets of imperfections. I accept my flaws and imperfections. And I would appreciate, if others do the same.

I don’t want to be controlled, cautioned or guided by anyone. I’m open to suggestions though. And like the rest of you, I too, consider myself as an individual, a human, who is alive and trying to make everyday count, in this cruel world.

I have my set of expectations and desires. And I too, want them to be fulfilled. And why shouldn’t I?? I have is this ONE LIFE, just one life. And I want to rejoice, every moment I live.

Oh! By the way, I also, have a brain. And I love to use it. Rather, if you want some advice, im always there. But don’t you dare, impose your ideas forcibly on me. Or try to imagine that I’m beauty without brains. And even if you think I’m not beautiful enough, it’s okay. I truly don’t care. Not everyone has the insight to understand what real beauty is all about.

So what that I’m married, and a mother or a daughter in law, a sister?? That doesn’t change, the person I am. That doesn’t entitle anyone to set boundaries for me. I am aware of my duties and responsibilities towards others, and I will fulfill those, but not always at the expense of my happiness.

I’m flexible, but even a rubber band tends to break on stretching it too much. And I definitely don’t want to see myself broken and torn. And even if I break, I’m resilient. I will always spring back to myself.

I will follow the things, that I can relate to. I will abide by the rules, that I think can help me prosper. I will not cave in to unnecessary demands. It’s my life too. Rather, it’s my life. And there’s nothing wrong in wanting to live one’s life.

I’m The Durga, The Kali, The Lakshmi and The Saraswati. It’s upto you to decide, which incarnated form, you want me to be.

Rapunzel!! O Rapunzel!!! Just set me free

I accept, I’m an unmanageable, attention seeking witch..

But, that doesn’t give the permission, to keep me captive.

Tousled, roped and held up so tight,

Void of colours, streaks and the breathtaking highlights…

I was, once a free bird, who loved to twirl in the fragrant breeze,

Swagger around, like a seasoned trapeze…

Oh! One glance, Just one glance, and I had the audience, on their knees..

To be untangled, is all, that I wish.

Caressed, tended, a desire to be, once again, cherished..

Rapunzel!! O Rapunzel!! Just set me free!!

Truly yours,

Messy bun

#lockdown2020

Happy Teacher’s Day!!

They are sweet as sugar and hard as ice..

And they always give good advice..

They cheer us, when we cry,

They teach us never to give up, without a try,

They are the answers to all our questions,

They always show us the right direction,

They helps us to learn new things,

And become good human beings.

So let me tell you who they are,

They are our teachers, our guiding stars.

Happy teacher’s day!!

P.S. I scavenged the Internet to find a poem on teachers which kids could recite..Sadly, I couldn’t find any. It seems that not much is written about our teachers. So, I wrote one for my munchkin to recite. Hope you like it.

Happy Teacher’s Day!!

They are sweet as sugar and hard as ice..

And they always give us good advice..

They cheer us up, when we cry,

They teach us, never to give up, without a try,

They are the answers to all our questions,

They always show us the right direction,

They helps us to learn new things,

And become good human beings.

So let me tell you who they are,

They are the teachers, our guiding stars.

Happy teacher’s day!!

P.S. I scavenged the Internet to find a poem on teachers which kids could recite..Sadly, I couldn’t find any. It seems that not much is written about our teachers. So, I wrote one for my munchkin to recite. Hope you like it.

A letter to my ex-husband

“ I hope my letter finds you well. It’s been months, since we parted. And my wounds are still sore..but guess, it will heal with time. You were the love of my life and it was difficult, to let you go. But, I knew, I couldn’t hold onto you, any longer. You fell out of love and found new love. I was shattered, humiliated, and completely lost.

I never saw this day coming, but I was aware of our existing indifferences.I had to let you go. My friends tell me, to hate you as you cheated on me. I hate you. I really do. I wish I could hate you more.

I hope you and your better half are enjoying life.

You must be spending hours, talking to each other, hearing each other’s unsaid words.

You must be trying to squeeze in time, despite of your busy schedule.

The dinner dates, the quick getaways must be enthralling.

The hugs, the kisses, the romance must be at its peak.

The surprises, the bouquets, must be adding more colors to your new life.

I know, that you are there for her, when she needs a shoulder to cry on. You are there to heal, that knife cut, on her finger.

I know, that you can do anything for her.

Have been there..Isn’t it??

She must be making all your favourite dishes. Love makes you do that. Love makes you do strange things.

She must be keenly listening to all your stupid jokes.

She must be making all the adjustments, to make you happy.

You both must be making sacrifices, for the happiness of the whole family.

I have done that. Isn’t it??

We have been there, isn’t it??

When we started our marital journey, it was pure bliss. We were inseparable. You would squeeze in time from your busy schedule to be with me.

You would surprise me with a million roses. I still remember those mesmerising dinner dates. How we gazed at each other for hours. How inseparable we became. How we made sacrifices to adjust with each other.

And then, with the clock ticking, the spark faded and we grew apart. The dinner dates stopped, so did the bouquets or the weekend getaways. Somehow we forgot to love each other, amidst all the responsibilities. We started weighing the sacrifices and adjustments, we made.

And then one fine day, you fell out of love, while I was still waiting for that spark to regain its strength. It didn’t revive. You didn’t try enough and neither did I.

Today, I met someone. I could feel that spark. But, I’m too scared to go near that spark. What if, it fades away?? What if, I’m betrayed, yet again??

With time, all the relationships fade away, the spark ceases to exist. The communication dies an early death, and we are left to phantom the truth.

I wish, I could hit the send button, but, we had stopped communicating, way before you filed that divorce. We never shared our thoughts, our concerns, our grievances. We took each other for granted, and it created more indifferences. So much, that one day, we were sitting on a mountain of grievances, unable to locate the love, that brought us together. “

**********

Just then, he snatched my phone from me.. And I ran after him.

“What are you writing??” Rahul asked.

“Just another blog.”

“A letter to my ex husband. Hey, the last time I checked, we were married. Isn’t it? I wonder, when I became your ex..”

“This is just a thought. May be my worst nightmare. Sometimes I think, what if we stop communicating and postpone resolving our problems, and…..”

“Priya, problems will be there, but, don’t worry, I will be there for you. We will sort it out…now let me read, your worst nightmare..”

P.S: This article is a piece of fiction. Just trying to convey the importance of communication between couples. Most of the time, we don’t communicate our real feelings with each other, and the problems starts piling up. Find time to solve those problems. That’s the key to happiness. But, yes, if the love of your life cheats on you, let that person go.

Complete???

“Why should I try to fit in, when I can just stand out??” Thought Sita.

Harvard degree, 8 figure salary, a BMW, she had it all.

“You can’t be complete without a marriage.” Argued her parents.

16yrs down the line, with 2kids and a divorce, she was standing at the alter, yet again, trying to fit into the ostentatious society’s definition of “COMPLETE.”

“Mom, are you sure, you wanna do that??” Riya winked, as she pressed the car keys into her hand.

Sita felt “Complete” at that moment!!!

The thrill…

“What do you want from life?” Asked Samir.

“I don’t know.” Shrugged Riya. “I truly don’t know. May be some happiness??”

“So, you are not happy??”

“I don’t know Samir. I’m happy. But not the right amount of happy.”

“Right amount??” Smirked Samir.

“Hmm..it’s difficult to explain. It’s like, something is missing. And I don’t know what exactly is missing.”

“You have a beautiful life. Isn’t it?? A beautiful home, a career to die for, and the best person in the whole wide world as your husband.” He said with a boastful grin.

“Whole wide world?? Isn’t that too much?? Don’t think so highly of yourself.”

“So, you mean, I’m not the best??”

“You are. But..”

“What but?? What else do you need in life to make you happy?? People who know you, are actually jealous of you.”

“Nah!! No one is..or may be few are.. but, still Samir…there’s something missing. I don’t know. I want some thrill. Life’s gotten to busy and boring. A thrill would be nice..My life is no more challenging. People have to deal with so many challenges, struggles, and I get everything so easy. It’s like, things have been readymade for me. Let’s forget it.”

“You are nuts Riya. Simply nuts.”

************

A week later. Samir’s phone beeped.

An incoming message fm an unknown number, “Meet me at 5.” Read Riya.

She didn’t pay a heed. Got ready. And both left for work. Samir dropped Riya to her office.

Next morning. Incoming msg fm Jas.

“When shall me meet today?”

Next few mornings, Jas continued with the messages. “Loved it yesterday.”

“Let’s meet over tea.” Sometimes coffee.

Riya, trusted Samir. But somewhere down, she felt anxious. She wanted to know who this Jas was.

She had no intentions of following Samir. But that morning, the message, read;

“The best date ever. Thanks.”

This was it. The last straw.

She left her office early. Her heart was beating faster than usual.

What if, Samir is having an affair?? What if, she sees Samir with another girl?? What will she do?? She wanted to turn back.

But, how could Samir do this to her?? There was no change in his behaviour towards her. They were as lovey-dovey, as before. But, these messages, had a different story to tell.

She was standing outside “The Cafe 3/4th”

She peeked in. Yes, Samir was there. But with a man. They were talking over something. She hurried back, before Samir could see her.

She was happy that it wasn’t a girl. She had expected one. A sigh of relief. But it didn’t last for long.

“What if, Samir is gay??”

They have known each other for long. But history suggests that many men hide their true identities to avoid defamation. But, their conjugal life was great.

Then why would Samir keep meeting this guy over coffee??

She wanted to ask Samir, but resisted herself.

Next morning. The phone beeped yet again.

And before Riya could take a peek, Samir rushed towards it. He had a smile on his face. The smile reminded her of something.

Their initial courting phase. Samir had the same smile, the same, as before.

Riya’s heart couldn’t take it anymore. She felt suffocated.

“Who is it??” She asked.

“Someone from work.” Samir replied with his charming smile.

Riya didn’t like it at all..

She couldn’t concentrate in office. She started imagining all sorts of things. Samir with that guy. Samir leaving her. Getting married to Jas. And what not.

That night, she thought of confronting Samir.

“Samir, I wanted to talk to you about something. I mean Jas.”

“So, you know?? I knew I couldn’t hide it for long. I’m sorry, I should have told you.”

“Tell me now. I’m totally shocked Samir. I mean, what’s going on between the two of you. I’m sorry, but I hv seen few of your texts.”

“I wanted to tell you long time ago..but didn’t have the courage to do so. In fact, I was sure, I couldn’t hide this from you any more. I’m sorry, that it had to come out this way. I’m…I’m…”

Before he could complete, Riya spoke..”GAY?”

“Gay?? What gay??”

“You are gay Samir. It’s okay. You wanted to come out. But then, why did you love me or marry me?? Do you really love me?? Or is this all fake??” Riya burst into tears.

“Riya..Stop crying. Why the hell did you think I’m gay?? Or in love with a guy?? I’m perfectly straight and I love you like crazy.”

“But…but…the coffee dates??The messages?? What about those??”

“Remember my best friend, Vihaan?? A few weeks ago, he came out. He is gay. He has been struggling a lot from few years. No one noticed. He was on the verge of committing suicide. Thankfully, he opened up to me. JAS is a co-worker, Jaswinder?? Remember him??”

“Oh ! God, Jas is Jasminder?? But, I couldn’t recognise him at the cafe that day.”

“Have you been spying on me??”

“No..I mean yes..but, Sorry. Plz tell me the whole thing.”

“Riya?? How could you?? Anyways, will deal with this later. Jas has always been very open about his preferences. I knew he was looking for a partner. So, I took the opportunity and introduced him to Vihaan. And viola!! They connected. So, Jas threw a party in my honour, that day. If you would have waited a bit longer, you would have seen Vihaan too. But you had to have everything your way. How could you Riya?? How could you??”

“I’m sorry. You smiled that day..and that smile was so, like the smile, when we used to date. I got confused. And the messengers…oh!! I’m so sorry Samir. Please forgive me.”

“On one condition..Next time, if you are in doubt, ask me immediately. Don’t wait for the problem to brew in your head.”

“There won’t be a next time Samir.”

A few weeks later.

“So, are you still missing something in your life?? The thrill??”

“I had the thrill of my life. Believe me, I’m feeling blessed to have you. My life is all good. Don’t want any more thrills.”

Samir’s phone beeped. He had the same smile, the charming smile….

AND THE THRILL CONTINUES….

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