Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Infliction of a Life.

I feel humiliated every day, as I mark my attendance in this God Damn hostel. I feel humiliated when I see the lock being put on the door. I feel humiliated every time a security guard finds it in his right to tell me what and what not to do, where or where not to sit or stand, when or when not to arrive in the campus or hostel. All this for propriety sake and who define the propriety? Those who exploit it. Guards letch, policemen rape and the administration is not untarnished either. What kind of perverse mind makes a group of four guys and girls sitting on the library steps shady, inappropriate or offensive is beyond my understanding.

Reason being? Safety. From Whom? From the very guy(s) sitting with me, whom I have trusted to be decent. But of course, girls do not have the sense for that now, do they? I have to be protected from the people I believe to be safe with. The fact that they seek to prevent something which is by the agreement of both sides and always fail to even appear when it is unwilling makes the situation all the more ridiculous.

Besides, the very hormones they seem to suspect, I wonder what makes them sure of those produced by the ones employed to suspect or their own for that matter. I definitely am not. The guard at the library entrance, given the duty of ‘checking’ out, quite literally from top to bottom makes my skin crawl. Every time I pass through any of the campus' gates, I am painfully aware of security guards’ shamelessly unwavering gaze.

The fact that our administration believes in enforcing of security by caging in the endangered rather than impeding the pursuer has been embedded so firmly in the minds that the guards have assumed all the rights to rectify any girl and in any way. They snigger as I pass, pass lewd comments when going by on a cycle and have the nerve to warn me against reaching my hostel after 10 PM. Needless to say that to prevent anyone else from doing so is something not of their concern but of course they take sufficient care to point out our fault in being present at that place.

Also, what is so grossly wrong in two full grown adults deciding to spend time together, and why are they not given the choice of how they want to spend it so long as it does not defy the acceptable normal forms of social behaviour. They can anyway do whatever they want, I wonder if the administration comprises of too genuinely and abysmally dumb contingent to know this, or that these rules are the product of their frustration on the realization of this fact.

Yes, I am fully aware of my vulnerability but I would like to have the right to take care of it myself and count upon the administration to make it safe for me to do so. I can be trusted not to venture alone on a deserted road, I do not need to be told not to. But even if I do, I would like to believe that I have every right to do so and I have the support of people being paid for it.

If I stay out of hostel after 10, alone or with any guy, that should be my choice. What I choose to do should be my discretion. I defer the rights of defining morality for me to no one. And yet, I have the care takers dictating me on every corner. The sheer insanity, unfairness and illogicality of the situation eats my insides with rage and make me want to rip apart the person before me, piece by piece.

In my opinion, it is more of an exercising control thing than any genuine concern for the person. The wardens and the supervisors employed in a girls’ hostel have come to consider it as their kingdom where they are the queens. It is a sadistic pleasure they derive out of making the girls miserable to spice up their hopelessly mundane lives. Who does not crave authority? Oh what a thrill it gives them to call up our parents to insult them when we are late and demand an apology letter. If a male worker letches on a girl, it is of course the girl’s fault in wearing shorts. If a thief steals, it is the fault of the victim that she left her clothes out to dry. This campus abounds with pathetic rulers, too impotent to do anything that calls for a bit of effort.

All this but, much pain though it causes me, is bliss. I read what goes on in the world beyond. That women’s bodies are a site of punishment to the male members of the family is a thought that makes me want to hunt down every man with this mindset and turn him into an eunuch. It starts at the elementary level, where it is the mothers and the sisters who are targeted whenever an abuse is to be hurtled at some guy. The fact that I serve as a warning to my father on certain occasions makes me want to disappear.

The instances of gang-rapes, performed in the presence of police, ministers and most agonizingly the sons, brothers, husband or father of the woman are too frequent to be considered as a work of few disturbed minds, it is a carefully developed system, nurturing on the way our society is fabricated and functions. I am too paralyzed by the thought to express the anguish it causes or to write any further.

I wonder at the solution of it…and I see none. I am left to live with my helplessness and slowly wither inside.

I cannot be a woman. I do not want to be a man. I'd rather not exist.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Chronicles of Cooking- Part I

"Here you are, now try flattening it."

"Err…how do I start?"

"First cover it in parothan, n try to make it round and flat and as thin as possible."


This was the start of my cooking exploits in kitchen under the expert guidance of the best cook ever, yes, my mother.

A one month stay in Noida last year was enough to knock some sense in to my head as to the urgent requirement of me knowing my way around these areas. If not flawlessly, then palatably enough at least to keep me alive. DD was the one with me in Noida, an excellent cook I might add, and we did prepare our own meal. My job, owing to my incompetence in the finer art, entailed the chopping up of vegetables( after taking necessary instructions from The Mighty DD), washing extra dishes and the usual running-to-market-for-that-extra-pack-of-curd which Mum also employed me for frequently in my childhood. I never grew out of it sadly.

One not so fine day, DD went for dinner to her cousin's place, and I having politely( and foolishly) declined the invitation was left to take care of the dinner for myself. God bless the noble soul who invented Mobile phones, and I proceeded to cook some rice with Mum reciting continuous instructions in my ear. Well, when I thought I had understood it all, keeping down the phone I went on to add spices, which Mum had ambiguously denoted to be 'a bit'. To top it all, I had not the faintest idea as to what is that which they call zeera.

Deepti, another PG mate was thankfully in the other room, another of those equipped in the art, and I asked her to identify it for me.

"Listen, can you tell me what is zeera, or rather which is?"

"Hai Rabba! Where is Shalu?"

" her cousin's place".

I remember vividly the expression of pity that alighted her mask, and was a severe blow to my self esteem, it was the one I am not likely to forget soon, the one which I still see in my dreams, the one I recall whenever I conveniently forget the true meaning of 'Being Independent'. I remind myself that I might not be blessed with such benevolent partners in future...I was not this year but that is another story.

It was an expression quite like the one my mother wore right now.

"WAIT! Don't pound on it as if it were some one you are trying to kill, go gentle and easy. Apply force on all sides, redistribute it as and when necessary."

"Right.Err…I don't see it coming out round or uniformly thin. What do I do to correct it?"

"Nothing for now…"

"I think it is way too thin from here, almost torn in a manner of speaking, do I add extra dough on this part and make up for it."

Mum's expression had transformed into the one of exasperation, I could but faintly see the traces of the pity which sat there a few moments ago. I could almost see her rebuking herself in mind regarding the lenient handling she subjected me to, where the matters of the Kitchen were concerned.

"Haven't you ever seen me doing it?! What were you doing the few times you happened to stand with me in the kitchen?"


("I was too preoccupied with the thoughts of leaving I guess…")

"Alright, now pick it up and place it on the tawa. You surely could have done without those useless guitar classes. Go on now..."

I endeavoured to pick up the what-do-you-call-it which bore a striking resemblance to a map of asia with edges blunted. I wondered if I should point it out to her to lighten the matters up, but after a careful consideration of the situation, I dropped the idea. She scarcely seemed to be in a mood for appreciating the ways of nature, the way geography manifests itself right in our kitchens. On one of our doors in house, the paint has dried up and it looks exactly like the outline of the South Asian continent...but that is drifting away from the point. Do you now see now? My heart is just not there in this thing. Dash it, I told myself, I need to survive and that involves keeping the aforementioned heart beating.

So, as I placed, or rather slapped the what-do-you-call-it down on the tawa balancing it precariously on my fingers…it overlapped over itself.


I tried to put it straight, needless to say it wasn't going well. Perhaps the fact that I was wary of the tawa being too hot held me back from making a good effort. My mother impatiently pushed my hand out of the way and put the matters straight. Literally.

"Now pick it up and see if its cooked from the down side, and when it is…apply ghee on the top side and toggle it. Then apply ghee on the other side and while you spread it, move the parantha round and round on the tawa with your hand."

"Err…after how much time do I check?As in, how many seconds?"

Another scalding look. Between her and the tawa, I thought it would it would be nothing short of a miracle if I managed to come out unscathed. Mothers have this quality of making you wilt under their looks.

"It is most probably burnt by now…apply ghee."

I did.

"You want to be a bit more lavish with it…a wee bit more won't make you fat or something!"

"Whoa…go easy! That's too much now…."

"Alright. How much then exactly?"

"What are you? Completely dumb? Use a bit of your instincts, keep your engineering out of the kitchen."

She has started to lose it, it was turning steadily more dangerous. I reminded myself to tread more carefully around her and tawa.

But common! How are you supposed to rotate the thing when you can see that it is damn hot! I can't imagine how my mom's fingers aren't scalded! I am sure mine arent insulated that way! Anyway, what finally came down from the tawa as a pathetic excuse for a parantha proudly sat upon a plate…challenging anyone to eat it.

Having already laid the condition that I won't eat anything I cook, my mother valiantly took up the challenge. She made it out as if only the shape was grotesquely wrong and it was perhaps tad burnt, apart from that it should taste alright.

I felt guilty nevertheless. I wonder if that's what she intended.

P.S. Tell me what do you call it in English what you call 'Roti Belna' in Hindi?

P.P.S: Long have you been?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And That's The Way It Is.

There are times you wish you knew a person better. Indeed, there are times when you wish you could tear apart the person before you and turn him/her inside out. A glance, an untimely hint of a smile at the corners of the mouth, a smirk or the lift of an eyebrow for the smallest discernible faction of a second drives you into an insurmountable rage which you can but express.
At the other times, the same signs lead to a flash of realization, an awareness of the truth behind the facade worn by the person. The hurt then is so complete that you wish you never knew! There is no way to decide which condition you would prefer to be in.

There are innumerable occasions when you would go to an unthinkable extent in support of your friends while there are a few when you think you are capable to reach the same limit but this time to cause them a terrible insufferable pain. When you yearn for vengeance, a vicious payback for an injustice, a betrayal.

It’s inexpressibly relieving and bliss when your friends understand what you want to convey, disclose, without you having to explain it all, or at all, a task not enjoyable always. You can’t be grateful enough.
But then, when you understand too much, when you can see through, when you know, but can’t let on that you do, it’s suffocating. You can’t be disgusted enough.

There is a part who wants you to talk, perhaps to understand it all better, perhaps to ask for an approval, to gain an affirmation or perhaps to just share. Then there is a part who would rather you close in on yourself, be impersonal, unaffected.
You want to relax, safe in the knowledge that you can be yourself, that you can trust. You want to breathe easy. But you also struggle to free yourself from these bonds which threaten to strangle you, choke your belief and faith to death.

You have no way to decide which way to go.

What you want to be, you can’t be, for the sake of your own sanity. What is required of you is something you have never wanted to be, a person you would hate, detest, a mechanical and manipulative version of yourself.

This is the tension of opposites.

You hate and you care. You detest and yet you appreciate. You strain to hold on and all the while you want to let go. You get tired of people trying to be someone else. You get tired of trying to be someone else for them. You get tired of holding yourself up. You get tired of making efforts....