Feminism

Feminism

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people , said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded defin...

Friday, 23 May 2014

Burnt

The little pieces of you
I gather
like shards of glass
which chafes my skin.
Paste them with the glue
of my tears.
Scraped off the walls of my day.

From the billowing sheets of night,
I pull out the strands
with smells of you
which I try to deny;
Weave in some of mine.

The scents of your body on my tongue
Like the wine of your praises
I'd drunk.

I scrimp and scrounge,
Scream out my lungs
But my voice bounces back
and my skin is burnt.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Codes Without Meaning

An ambulance siren screams
through the pre dawn darkness of the night,
slits the throat of silence.
Like blood, from a wound,
its wails gush out, running wild.

Like waves of the sea, astir,
weighed down by an anchor,
the quiet turns around and slumps heavy on my chest, with a thump.

Rock myself, from side to side,
Limbs flail,
But the silence has entered every tissue,
Frenzied, unrest overtaken mind.

An embedded code in every word, extracted each of its meaning.
What use are words when meaningless,
Garbled messages don't need saying.

Jumbles of letters, as they stay in my head.
Empty words empty spaces,
empty rooms, empty faces.
Devoid of all meaning.

I grasp at straws,
fistfuls of vacuum I grab,
like its a hollow I must fill.
Try to claw my way out,
whatever I may  grasp,
I cannot un-empty the dread.

No Country For Woman

Sure you've got freedom, li'l girl,
to do just as you please:
go, pluck the low hanging fruit,
stay away from higher up the tree

Don't ask for second helpings, my dear,
see, your brother needs 'em more.
for he must go out, work and earn
and you? you'll only stay home.

Remember to do the dishes and cook
and your siblings are in your care too,
forget about reading, writing and books;
now go bring water- stop giggling, will you?

No school for you, dear child,
you will soon menstruate,
there's no toilet at school;
and for you, the fields, aren't safe.

Work hard, learn what your chores,
and remember, virgin, to stay,
for when we look for a groom for you,
we won't need, much to pay.

Yes, he may be much older,
and you may be raped,
but it's all going to end well,
if you give him boys to his heart's fill.

Don't listen to those TV folks who say
the man's genes give you boy or girl,
just spreading wrong stories, they;
it's really only the mother to blame.

So if you don't give him an heir,
he may just fly into a rage-
without the cushion of dowry,
and even though you are underage;
what's a few beatings from your man?
he's your master now, and you-
yes, you are his slave.

Don't pick up fights,
or do anything to irritate
just go along
be patient and quiet,
there will be better days.

Life is tough, it's never been easy,
being born a woman,
it's part of your destiny:
to live and die under the thumb
of father, brother, husband.

The figure who holds
your fate in his hands,
he hit the jackpot-
it simply happened,
for he was born a man.




Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Song For Your Voice

Like the sounds of a thousand conch shells reverberating,
Like the touchdown of feet on dew laden grass,
Like the first song sung since the break of dawn,
or, on a harsh incendiary day,
Like the sun drawing in his talons.

When bathed in moonlight,
phosphorescent bugs flitting by,
leave little trails of fire,
studding the velveteen darkness
like jade on a rich ermine:
just such, little explosions
erupt within my core,
straining every nerve ending,
chased down my spine.

Detonations straggle,
chase after each other,
leave tiny trails of desire,
Like the softest touch
of a baby's behind.

Aware, awake,
yet partly doused,
my body and my mind-
sated, also satisfied.
Confusion and clarity,
your voice evokes,
twin strands woven together,
now ache, now delight.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Dreams

As I reach out to grasp, all I can catch are the shadows gently dying.
Open my eyes and off each one flies, dreams of tomorrow I'd been plying.

No, not you, you wouldn't understand,
these are but my own plans.
Not of conquest, nor space travel,
of simply, by myself, being.

Fritter away the seconds,
the minutes, the epochs, all turning me invisible.
You can't see that which sits stolid, unmoved,
you can't perceive beyond your senses.

How often have you said,
"Be clear in your words,
and use exact expressions,
Can't have you be vague,
Am not given to interpretation"

Salt tears sting my skin,
punch holes on my tongue,
acid churns, digests my intestines.
Yet the bare bones remain;
after all, only so much can be whittled away of a dream.

That stealthy creature who snatches my body,
invades my being.
She carries me on her wings of pain,
gossamer moulded delicately.

The shimmering webs she weaves
spins my yarns so deftly;
leaves me breathless,
clutching at my throat,
for fairness and justice.

I float, I preen, I am just me,
upon the waves tumultuous.
I live, I drown, I lay submerged,
Its my life to live- I'm living.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

My Bucket List

"Am ticking one off my bucket list. What does yours have?" I was asked this innocent question recently by a dear friend.
A friend, going to visit a place he'd long planned to see, and that's when he asked this of me.

The question got me thinking and I thought the ideas churning in my head deserved to be written down, more to sort them out for myself.

As I've grown older almost every discussion about ageing - specially while marking birthdays -  has centred around melancholy. Amazingly enough, irrespective of whether the person is in his/her 20s or 30s or older, the feeling is the same: a sense of being over-the-hill (at 20 ! and I'm in my 40s!) and at once running out of time to do the things one wishes to, at one's own pace.

Not having enough time to read or pursue other hobbies is one common refrain. Of course, we all have limited time and more importantly, for most of us who are not Ambanis, also limited resources.

Those of us who are wage slaves, well know that we have given up our claim to large chunks of our waking hours, our precious time, entire portions of our lives. We've bargained it away in return for printed paper -nothing more than a promise to pay you- money as we call it. This, in turn we exchange for a whole lot of "things".

So how goes the bargain of time for money and money for things work out : a relentless pursuit that seemingly leads nowhere? Increasingly I see, being added to the things, are experiences, yet almost all linked to the notes.Time in exchange for money which is, in turn, exchanged for experiences.

 And how does one achieve the maximum from that which one has?
Alas, that is a question I have no answer to and leave to the author of the next self help book. I'm going to talk of something else entirely.

All of these discussions kept taking me back to a favorite word of my mother's : contentment. One day last June chatting with another friend, we zeroed in on this word. How lovely it sounds and what it means to us, how much it meant to my parents generation and how little to those in today's world.

My mother would often exhort us to be happy with what we have. In the days of license raj and shortages and rationing of food (I already warned you I'm old  :-/ ) it made sense to us. We siblings would share everything offered to us. Our parents would buy a roll of cloth and my dad's and brothers' shirts as well as my frock would be made out of it. We saw nothing amiss in that. My dad with his craze to have a car of his own, did buy one, on his meagre salary but we had to scrape for months on end so he could repay the loan he took out for it.

Fast forward to the nineties, opening up markets, globalization and here we were with multiple models of not just cars but a surfiet of goodies cramming up the fast sprouting malls.It was all we could do to keep up with the pace of rapid commercialization.

Yet, in the India of today, the new generation just stepping into their youth has known no other world, save that of get-ahead-in-life, denoted in the past by the basic "roti-kapda-makaan" now replaced by so much more. To today's youth owning a laptop or a car are really no more luxuries, but almost essentials. Every middle class Indian aspires to these.

And more power to them, I say. Why not? Aspirations are great, dreams are what propel us forward. As long as we fulfil our dreams without trampling on the rights of others and subverting our own integrity,there should be no quarrel with anyone.

But I keep going back to the video of the man who wore a sanitary napkin, Arunachalam Murugunantham. Hew speaks so eloquently of what it means to have enough and to be satisfied with it. If you have a home in a city and then one more in another city, you may have one in each continent, the question  remains how much time are you going to spend in each? Where do you stop hankering for the next "it" thing? The latest, the most "happening" item of luxury which proclaims that you have "arrived"- but where exactly are you headed?

So here comes in that favorite word of mine. Contentment. To be happy in what one has. It does not mean ceasing to want or move ahead in life. Let's just say, to me moving ahead means decluttering my life of unnecessary objects, unnecessary wants and surround myself with only the essentials. Spend more time with people I love, those who matter to me.

All those trips which are meant to give us new "experiences", yes, I want those, too. But the ones I know I cherish the most will not be a view of a sunset from an exotic hill top or the skyscrapers of a glitzy city. For me those moments are the ones shared with my family, my son, listening to his plans for the future or sitting chatting with my mom, over a cup of tea, listening to her tales of times gone by.
So, increasingly, that's my bucket list. What's yours?



Saturday, 3 May 2014

Dandelion

Like a limb I can dismember,
Or take a door off its hinges,
The parts of me that are you,
I try to dismantle.

Unraveling in spools,
layers of skin,
wearing thin,
With nothing to hold it in,
like a sticker left glueless.

The parts of you that were me
crept up to my innards
unknown to me, stealthily
and now what's left in the entrails
which flaps about 
and that which slithers away.

I stare agape, confounded,
as I try to retrieve me:
 which parts are your blood
and where's my skin?

And the process begins 
of layering 
shoring up of my being
lest I collapse 
like a mountain of dandelion.

Till My Luck Runs Out

You see me walking on the street,
what do you see ?
A woman, a human, a person
who simply passes by?

No second glance from you
and I'm safe,
I hurry,
lest my luck run out and you come back
My molester, my groper, my brother,
You male citizen of this vast country of mine.

Shouldn't be out this late,
say the voices in my head,
Mom's voice reprimanding,
you should be home by now.

And that early morning run
in the park,
you sedate looking uncleji
cool as a surgically placed scalpel,
your hand slides
past my behind.

I'm too shocked to react
certain I must be mistaken,
that couldn't have been on intent ?
When next day you remove all doubt
 and sure again,we have a rerun.

The template repeats
over and over all of my life:

a twelve year old in a temple,
a youth in a bus,
shopping in a market,
walking up to college
minding my own business.

But it never lets up,
the assault on my senses,
the groping eyes,
shorn of all pretence.
the grabbing hands,
the bodies shoved
in my face.

All you brothers, lovers mine.
fathers, uncles too,
all you husbands and friends 
not to forget 
the few grandparents:

yes it's easy to pretend 
we are only meat,
but you must be human 
I know,at the core of your being.
See me as human too.