Turn The Mirror Around

O Ri Chiraiya
Nanhi si chidiya
Angnaa mein phir aaja re

So how many of us remember these lyrics till date? Well, I do. How many of us recall the very first episode of Aamir Khan's brainchild, 'Satyamev Jayate'? I do. And I shall do for the rest of my life. Because it is difficult to forget the things that come back to haunt you. 

When I got married four months back, a lot of people blessed me. Most of those blessings were in Sanskrit, which when translated means this 'May you be the mother of a hundred sons". I just smiled and nodded. Its 2013 and the fact that people still believe that sons are more precious than daughters came as a rude shock to me. When I first heard of the word 'gendercide' or 'genocide', I was blinking. Then I too resorted to the information giant Wikipedia for answers. This is what Wiki had to say.

"By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as "gynocide" and "femicide," have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But "gendercide" is a sex-neutral term, in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term, since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice."

Call it any fancy term you want to. Female foeticide, infanticide, genocide or any other. At the end of the day it accounts to only one thing. Murder. And if you actually dare enough to read more about it, you will be shocked to learn about the scale at which this murder happens. When I chose to write about this topic amongst all the others mentioned here, I decided to have a better understanding about it before I could make my own opinions. I did my own research and the results took me away from my existence. I was alarmed and depressed as I clicked links after links wiping away the tears on my face. At one point I even decided to not write about it, as it was troubling me from within. I had not been through the pain, but I did not have to. The information in front of me was so disturbing that I became ashamed of the human race. 

5 million girls are aborted in India every year... Five million. That is more than the amount of girls being born in the United States per year. Just search the words 'female foeticide' in Wiki. The number of times the word India is mentioned on the page will embarrass you. Just the fact that we have China for company in this heinous crime doesn't make it any better. Just imagine the callousness of the two most successful countries of the world. 200 million women are missing in the world today. Either they were aborted, abandoned, sold or killed. Doesn't make a difference, does it? Its not only the males who take the decision to abort the female foetus, they are often joined by their own mothers and rarely by their wives even. Take a look at the Ted video shared below and then maybe you will understand my frustration.

So what hurt you the most? Seeing those Chinese women in pajamas waiting in a crowd for their turn for abortion. Or the story of the Indian lady who strangled eight of her own daughters and buried them behind her house the minute they were born? More alarming than that was the smile on her face and the insensitivity with which she spoke about it. Agreed that she was born in poverty and treated like a slave and killed her daughters so that they don't go through the same plight. Was there no other way out? Couldn't she fight for the rights of her daughters? She was alone in her struggle, couldn't she have been the support her daughters needed? She would have had answers to all these questions, if only she had let one of her eight daughters live. Madame Rita Banerjee has asked the right question in this video. When we say "Save the girl child" whom are we addressing to? There needs to be an assumption of responsibility before you put forth something, doesn't it?

"Asking me why I need a son, instead of a daughter, is like asking me why I have two eyes and not one?" a woman says just after her first abortion from a state in India. "I want a son as we have a big business, I want what my husband has built from scratch to go to his own blood." says another Indian woman who has undergone nine abortions of female foetuses. "Raising a female child is like watering your neighbors plant." says another Indian women who still has not hit the jackpot by siring a son. A few women even believe that they are doing the crime as an act of kindness. "Why bring a girl into the world who will be subjected to a dreadful life of misery?" they say. Justified? To them maybe. Apparently women agree to this act fearing that if they don't bear a son, they will be replaced by a young, fertile(?) woman, who can bear a son. If people get their biology right, then there would be no need of this talk ever. Somehow the lack of education is a proving to be a catalyst for this issue. For the ignorant, here we go.

It entirely depends on the sperm to decide on the sex of the baby. Men have two sets of sex chromosomes. X and Y. Women too have two sets of sex chromosomes, X and another X. If the X chromosome of the male meets the X chromosome of the female, the foetus will be a girl with X and X. If the Y chromosome of the male meets the X chromosome of the female, the foetus will be a male with X and Y. If something is still unclear please google and understand it. Then educate others about the same. Believe me, looking at the male to female ratio of 1000:940 we should be able to do everything in our hands to bridge this widening gap. And education to all would be the start. Talk, talk and talk. We are no longer in a era where people shy away from talking about sex. I mean if you can openly talk about the need for a boy child, why not discuss as to what determines the sex of the baby, and the adverse effects that abortions have on a woman. Mentally and physically. If the want of a male heir can ignore the pain of a women, then the family does not deserve an heir. Such a family need not be carried on.

Now lets come to the supply. The wonder machine, the ultrasound scanner that determines the sex of the baby is being used at random to kill girls. This, even when sex determination of the foetus is illegal in India. So does being illegal mean that it is not prevalent? I'm afraid not. According to studies, the determination+termination of the girl foetus comes as a package in many hospitals. Some doctors are even performing this "savior" act for a meager 2000 rupees. Shocking? Yeah right. After the first episode of 'Satyamev Jayate' some doctors and medical centres were stripped off their license for practising this. But there are more than 70,000 ultra sound machines operating in the country today. God knows, how they are being used. Any one there to check? I think not. Any one cares? I think not.

If you think that this callous act is only present in rural areas then be prepared for a reality check. Some of my friends who have been born and brought up in metro cities feel the same. They pray that they should only have male children. And did I mention female friends? Yes. Apparently if its a female child, then they have to invest in more gold during her wedding and take care of her during her pregnancy. Talk about long term planning. What if your parents had done the same thing and strangled you the minute you were born. How would you feel about it? Oops, you wouldn't have been around to know it right? In rich families the male child is treated and well fed like a king, but the girls are treated like maids and asked to serve their brothers. The male grows up with the same mentality and expects the same from his wife and daughter(if he lets her live). If this is what you mean by carrying the family name forward, then kudos. Also, open your minds to the fact that tomorrow your sons might turn gay and bring home men as their partners. Clearly for the lack of women. Then what would happen to the family tree? 'Abruptly cut' is the word that comes to my mind.

Please watch the movie 'Mathrubhoomi - A land without women'. This is how most likely India will be in the years to come. If nothing is done about this female genocide. 

There is also a part of the country where women are worshipped and taken care of well. Women walk together with men and are given the same respect. Being the youngest of two daughters I'm proud to say that I was never subjected to any sort of discrimination. I was educated well and today my sister and me, stand like pillars supporting my parents in every aspect of life. My in-laws and husband give me the respect I deserve as a working woman. But this is only a single pixel of the larger picture. I was not expected to sit and home and chant mantras for the want of a male child. Believe me there are a lot of people who do that till date. Prayers, havans and week long pujas are conducted so that the foetus if female gets turned into a male. Now what would you call this? Ignorance? Stupidity? Prevention? The picture when seen in entirety is mind baffling and disturbing to say the least.

So what do we do about it? Just ignore and walk around like the billion others? Well, I'm not going to do the same. I'm only a single person and a normal citizen but today I pledge that I shall try my best in educating the people around me on this. Education. That is the primary key here. Form a social group, discuss about this on various platforms. It is not the job of Evan Grae Davis alone, it is our responsibility as Indians. As humans. Talk to the people around you about genocide. Only about 1 in a 100 will have an idea about it. Discuss the harm it is causing to the country and the individual undergoing it. You might think that it might not make a difference, but what if he/she goes and talks about it to someone else? And they to someone else? See, that is how awareness spreads. There need not be campaigns or TV ads. Just plain simple talk. Treat the girls around you well. Be it your mother, your mother-in-law, your sister or your maid. Let them know that they are special. Let them know that they can make a difference. Let them know that they are not less than men in any regard. Make them feel good about themselves. Make them want to give birth to other females. Let people not dread the three words any more.

It's a Girl.

Look into the mirror, and look at yourself. Would you have been standing here if your mother had decided to kill you when you were the size of a peanut? How would you react if your mother told you that she had hoped for a male child, but unfortunately you turned out to be a girl? How would you feel if the wife you love so much today had been strangled the minute she was born? 

Now, turn the mirror around and look at the people around you. Look at their plight. Their ignorance. Their vanity. Their sexist beliefs. Their anger, disgust and insensitivity towards women. Is it justified? 

Its late. 200 million women are already missing. Please make sure your daughter or grand-daughter don't join the list.

This post is written as part of 'The Idea Caravan' for Indiblogger. Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

Check out the 'Its a Girl' documentary film here.

~ Soumya

The Losing Battle

Tring-tring the phone rang. Reema was busy in the kitchen. She came running wiping her wet hands on her kurta haphazardly. She was expecting this call.

"Hello?" She said.

"Ya Reema....." Her husband Vivek said slowly.

"So?" Reema held the phone tight.

"The doctor just confirmed it." Vivek said.

"Okay..." Her voice trailed off.

"I'm coming home. Lets talk then. Bye." Vivek hung up.

"Bye." She placed the receiver down slowly in its place.

She walked back towards the kitchen and continued doing the dishes. A tear fell from her eye into the wet basin.

The cancer was back. And this time it was in the last stage. She had fought a hard battle four years ago. But this time she knew she had already lost it.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

~ Soumya

Life - The Best Teacher

They say that time is the best healer and life is the best teacher. Couldn't be more right. I believe the journey of life is a long learning process and you get to learn something or the other every day from a friend or from a stranger. I cannot point out one single instance that has taught me something. A lot of learnings have been put together to form the person that I am today. I've always believed in one thing. If it doesn't succeed, it doesn't mean that its a loss. Its a lesson. A compilation of these lessons is what forms your life. How long you want to stay on a page, is an individual choice altogether. Below are a few instances that taught me the most important chapters of life.

~ When you are young, you always crib about the meager pocket money you receive. Like any normal kid I did too. I was from a middle class family and I always hated the fact that my parents hardly had any money to spare. I always wondered as to why my parents earned so less. Mocking relatives and friends only added to the angst. But when I earned my first income at the age of 17, I knew how hard it was to make money. I had to host an event in a mall for an entire day talking my guts out non-stop to least interested strangers for a measly 400 bucks a day. I felt it to be humiliating, but I needed the money. When I stepped out I saw a cobbler sitting in the footpath and mending dirty, wet shoes of random people. I saw a man hurl a coin at him. At that time, the 400 rupees in my hand felt like a million bucks. And I understood the pain my parents went through to make the money they made. It is very hard to make money I learnt. But if you are lucky, you will be blessed with a decent medium to make it. Best ever lesson I've learnt till date.

~ As I started making a regular income I grew confident and independent. As I grew older I failed to acknowledge the fact that my parents were also growing older. I was so lost in my work and my personal life that I hardly had any time for them. But when I was on the verge of being diagnosed with dengue, my parents took a week off from their work just to take care of me. They don't work in big multinational companies so a day off meant a salary cut. That was hardly on their mind. They selflessly cared for me and that was when life threw its biggest lesson at me. No matter what, you should never forget the core of your existence. I was here because of them. They could have chosen to flush me down the drain the minute I was conceived, but they didn't. They gave me life and I shall spend the rest of my life taking care of them. And for this I would give up on anything. Or anyone.

~ Then I fell in love and lost myself to it. Everything for me then revolved around this emotion and the person associated with it. When it went kaput after 4 years, I couldn't regain myself. I fell into depression and lost track of my life. I took a sabbatical from work just to brood over it. One day when I saw myself in the mirror with droopy eyes , damaged skin and disheveled hair I went to my cupboard and brought out my old photo albums. In those pictures I was laughing and there was true love in my eyes. For life. I did not recognize the person in the mirror any more. I was a stranger to myself. That was when I realized that love is a part of life and I probably was more in love with the idea of love rather than the person. The next day, I was out of depression and back to leading a normal life. I have fallen in love many times after that but have always held on to myself. Never lose yourself to anything or anyone. A brilliant lesson that life taught me. 

~ I have always lived life in black or white. Honesty has been the key to my life's lock. But as I learnt recently, people don't appreciate or accept the truth. I fell in love with a man of different caste, accepted it wholeheartedly and declared it from the roof tops. And then, I married him. Whatever I did, I did it in the open. Unlike people who did it back doors and declared obvious love marriages as arranged. I was open about it as I did not feel anything about it was wrong. But not everyone thinks the same. A lot was spoken about us. And then I learnt the recently edited quote. 'Honesty is not the best policy. Carefully edited and modified reality is'. But it didn't bother me. I chose to stick on to what I believed. My mom-in-law then told me, no matter what you do people will always talk. You might as well as do what you want. Perfect, isn't it?

~ I've stayed with the same company since 5 years and I make a decent amount of money. But my friends who have jumped jobs make twice of what I'm making now. It bothered me a lot initially. But when I had a get together with all of them, it vanished. All they did was complain about their work. The timings, their boss, the distance, the client and what not. I had nothing to say. They all looked at me and I said, "I'm sorry. But I actually love my job". I'd rather stay in a place I love than do something I hate for more money. That day I learnt, never to compare myself with anyone. If you are happy, stay happy. Don't look at others and wish for their lives.

~ When I was dealing with an on-off relationship a friend of mine offered some advice. I blatantly refused to take it and instead abused him for speaking about something he has no idea about. Turns out, he was fighting a similar battle along with ailing parents and a career not going anywhere. I slapped myself for it. No kidding. That's when I learnt to never be rude to anyone. As everyone is fighting a battle with themselves.

~ If you are frustrated, vent it out. Like I said before, talk it to someone or write it somewhere. But never bottle up emotions. I did for the longest time possible, but when it came out it was not a very pleasing sight. It was the truth alright, but go back to the fourth point I've mentioned. People can't accept it. So instead of bottling up anger, frustration and emotions, let it free within yourself. Vent, vent and vent some more. Else, it will kill you from within and it shall make you a social pariah. 

These are a few lessons that life taught me. I saw and I learnt. And made them major mile stones in my life. 

Like I always say, 'There are no regrets in life. Only lessons'.

I am sharing what 'I Saw and I Learnt' at BlogAdda.com in association with DoRight.in.

~ Soumya

And I Blushed

Just because I do not react, does not meet I don't care. Just because I don't squeal with excitement, doesn't mean I do not like it. Just because I do not cry over something, does not mean that it does not affect me. Just because I don't talk about it, doesn't mean I have forgotten it. Just because I stay quiet, doesn't mean I'm upset about something. Just because I smile at you, doesn't mean I'm interested in you. Just because I don't dress up in lace and frills, doesn't mean that I'm not a girl. Just because I don't turn pink when you talk, doesn't mean that I don't love you. 

Well I'm a weird sorta girl. You have guessed that by now right?

When he asked me out for the first time, I said yes and smiled. When he told me that he loved me, I hugged him and told him that I loved him too. When he kissed me for the first time, I kissed him back with true madness. When he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, I said 'Yes' and jumped into his arms. Yeah pretty much this is what happened. I was never the girl to feel shy or blush or act coy. And my husband was used to it. Believe me if I did any of these things, he would have me tested. True story.

When one of our common friends was finding it tough to decide on a partner he asked my husband as to how did he know that I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Without blinking my husband says, "When I saw her, I knew she's gonna be the love of my life. After that, she became my life and I knew that I couldn't live without her."

And I blushed.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

~ Soumya

My Perfect Love Trip

When my mother-in-law informed me that my courier had arrived I had no recollection of what I had ordered. The package sat snugly on the TV stand and I looked at it curiously. I walked closer and then it hit me. I did not have to open the package to know what it was. The package was emitting a beautiful citrus smell and soon the room was filled with it. The Ambi Pur sample that I had ordered on Indiblogger had finally arrived. I thought my order might somewhere get lost amongst the thousand people vying for a free sample. But hats off to Ambi Pur and Indiblogger for their efficiency. The package was neat and elegant and the sample smelt like a slice of heaven. The orange color was pleasing to the eye too. So I immediately went to our car and pulled out the almost empty Ambi Pur (Oh yeah, we are Ambi Pur loyalists) and plugged in the new one. I was used to the same old lavender smell, but the light citrus one was fresh and bursting with energy. All I wanted to do was put on some music and go on a long road trip.

As so the impromptu trip was decided. Me, the husband and our faithful Maruthi Suzuki Alto. And the destination? Our love nest, GOA. Goa was one of the many places we had visited together before we got married. It was magical and from then on Goa remains the most special place to us. We even made it our honeymoon destination. So when we completed three successful months of being married, we decided to celebrate and pay our dear old friend Goa a visit. Only this time it was a road trip. The first road trip I had taken to Pondicherry was a disaster. Bad companions, bad car and no Ambi Pur. There were a lot of people smoking in the car and the air freshener was hardly of any help. I had sworn away from road trips since then. But when my husband mentioned the idea of a road trip to Goa, I had to give in. The place I love with the man I love. Can there be a better combo?

So after light packing and a decent breakfast we bid goodbye to the parents and started off at 6 am. The weather was pleasant and the fresh air complemented perfectly with the citrus aroma that our car was emitting. We could have chosen another car, but since it was just the two of us and with the mileage that Alto provides, it turned out to be the front runner. Also, we did not have a second option :)

We had about 560 kms ahead of us. The planned route was via Tumkur to Davangere. Then via Hubli to Karwar and then Margao to Calangute. We had booked a room for us at 'Village Royale', Calangute, and we couldn't wait to get there. Cal, my husband started the drive as we wanted to get out off the city limits by about 8 am. Bangalore is a late riser and people only fill the streets by 9 am. We wanted to use this to our advantage. I'm a late riser myself, but this I was enjoying. I rested my head on his shoulder as he drove and 'Stereo hearts' played along creating a wonderful effect. This was heaven. Right here in front of my eyes. With a beginning this perfect I knew that this would be a trip to remember.

There is a stretch on the way to Tumkur that stinks like a herd of animal carcasses. I cringed as we approached it, but surprisingly felt none of that stench. My window is always pulled down as the AC in a vehicle gives me a royal headache and I pass out. Cal was not the one to take such chances. He pulled down our windows and cleared the stinky stretch in one go. All I could feel was the beautiful orange emission and nothing else. Just like they show in the ads I could feel a cloud of orange beads enveloping me to prevent me from the smell. Awesome job Ambi Pur. My husband smiled as this was the first time I had not complained about this stretch and sat quietly. We spoke of the last time we had passed this place by bus and laughed out loud. After making a mental note to only buy Ambi Pur from next time, we continued our journey and we were in Davangere by 10.30 am. The foodie in me was wide awake by now and I was craving the special Davangere dosa. The toast we had as breakfast was digested long ago and we walked into a street side small hotel. The butter dosa was crisp and fantastic and soon Cal was ordering himself another. After two cups of filter coffee each, it was time to head to Hubli. This also meant that it was my turn to drive.

After buckling myself, I started driving. I had never driven long distances before so this was another first that I was enjoying. Cal joked about me crashing both of us somewhere, but I told him that the fresh smell inside the car thanks to Ambi Pur was enough to keep me awake all day. We skipped the music this time and decided to play antakshari instead. I always knew that my husband had an awesome voice but he kept surprising me with one song after another. Me as usual sounded like a frog suffering from laryngitis. But watching him enjoy my songs made me forget all of it and he even grooved to some of it. We laughed and sang all the way and before the clock could strike one, we were at Hubli. Thanks to multiple dosas we weren't hungry for lunch but I changed my mind when I saw a road side vendor selling some fried fish. For some reason the car automatically stopped in front of it. Don't believe me? Cal didn't either.

And so I sent my Brahmin husband to buy some fried Ghee fish, my favorite. I wanted to stand right there and eat but thanks to a few local hooligans Cal sent me back to the car. He drove as I devoured the fish and smeared it all over my face. He laughed at me. I looked back at him and said "What are you laughing at? Aren't you allergic to the smell of fish?". He suddenly looked all surprised. He had not realized it! I was shocked. There was no merging of smells and the car still smelt fresh just like how it was at the start of our journey. Ambi Pur only kept impressing us more and more. Talking about our dating days we continued to drive towards Karwar.  On the way we stopped to fill fuel, relieved ourselves and continued our journey. The target was to reach Karwar by 4 pm but by the time we got there it was about 5 pm, thanks to the bad roads. At least we were spared from the stench and the headache that follows it. I was glad.

We stopped and had some bhajjis and coffee at a road side push cart. I don't know why people make a face when asked to eat from the roadside. The food usually here is tasty and cleanly made. And not to mention it is very cheap. Cal and me have made no bones about eating at road side stalls. We enjoy the food here just as we would in any other big starred restaurant. We were a little tired from all the driving and hence decided to rest for a while in the car itself. We sat talking non-stop and enjoyed every minute of it. Usually confined environments make me feel claustrophobic but Ambi Pur did not let that be. We sat there lost in our past memories. Only when we heard the clock beep at six, we realized that we had to leave. I took the drivers seat this time and headed towards Margao which was an hour and half away. I asked Cal to rest for a while and I drove listening to faint music. It was bliss and somehow at that time I felt a sense of freedom. Looking at Cal curled up in the seat beside me only widened my smile. This, this was my perfect life.

Cal awoke as we reached Margao. The humidity hit us and soon we were sweating. Goa, we were here. We stopped for some juice and then Cal took the drivers seat and headed towards Calangute. We reached our hotel by 9 pm and walked into our room with a big smile. It normally takes about 10 to 11 hours from Bangalore to Goa, but thanks to our million pit-stops it took us 15 hours. No regrets. We still felt fresh albeit a bit tired. But it was the most amazing trip ever. The journey was filled with the freshness of Ambi Pur and our love. 

How could it not be a perfect road trip?

This post is written as part of the 'The perfect road trip contest' on Indiblogger. Presented by Ambi Pur.

Check out the Ambi Pur Facebook page here.

~ Soumya

Lover vs Soul-Mate

Those butterflies and saxophones
That long, lust filled dramatic gaze
Is that what makes a lover?
Or the feeling just remains lost in the maze

How do you define a lover?
Slitting wrists or writing a verse
Or is he someone who comes along
And drives you away from a cynical curse

Is there ever a difference
Between a soul mate and a lover
This is how I make sense of it
Lover is a bud and soul mate the flower

A lover is the volatile start
He teases you with a promise
While a soul mate is the happy end
He seals the vow with a kiss

If a lover gives you the heavy blush
A soul mate offers you a forever smile
You will travel miles for the lover
But a soul mate walks with you all the while

A lover brings out the poet in you
He makes you write for him
A soul mate brings out everything else
And you want to write till the brim

A lover fascinates to the core
Its passion embedded in lust
A soul mate charges up the emotions
With passion then love becomes a must

A soul mate shows traces of a lover
This combination is a very rare case
In case you happen to find it someday
Make sure you accept and keep it safe

I don't know what brought us together
Call it chance, luck, destiny or fate
This one thing I'm sure of
He is my lover and my soul mate

Inspired by this post by Raajii.

~ Soumya

#40, Coco's

Aman and Arjun were seated at their favorite seat, facing the pool at Coco's. Everyday they met here, to spend time together over drinks and dinner. And this tradition had not been broken since the past two years. #40, Coco's was the city's most popular diner. Both in their mid twenties, Aman and Arjun were friends since childhood. Their fathers were business partners and both of them came from affluent families. They sat talking and laughing, sipping their beers much oblivious to the preening eyes of Aman's mother from outside.

Aman Shroff was the son of Dev and Mallika Shroff, owners of 'Design' the popular fashion chain. They were a page-3 regular and Mallika protected her family like a fierce Lioness. She knew the right places to be seen at, the right clothes to be seen in and the perfect angle to be photographed at. Aman, their only son was a paparazzi favorite. With supermodel looks he always had women swooning over him and he was linked to some women or the other at any point of time.

It was when Aman decided to break the news to his parents, that it all went downhill.

Mallika sat at the driver’s seat, clutching the steering wheel. She remembered that fateful incident that had occurred three months ago. She had heard a loud sound and had rushed to her living room.

Aman stood there, red in the face. Dev, her husband was hurling abuses at him.

"What happened?" Mallika sounded tense.

Dev spat out in disgust. "Ask your son."

Mallika walks towards Aman and holds his hand.

"Beta? Did you do something?"

"Nothing." Aman replied.

Dev came rushing towards him and slapped him. Aman fell down.

Mallika screamed.

Dev looked up in despair. "Its all over. People will laugh at us now." He sat down and held his head.

Mallika began crying. "But why? What happened?"

Dev looked up and pointed towards Aman. "Our son says he's in love."

"Oh! Who?" She asked.

"Arjun Mann." Dev screamed.

Mallika sat down with a thud.

Dev goes to her and holds her. "Yes, our only son has just confessed to being a homosexual."

"Sorry ma, sorry papa. But what do I do? I am this way. Please understand me." Aman begged.

"Of all the people in the world, you got involved with my partner's son. What do I tell him?" Dev yelled.

"He already knows papa. Arjun told him.” Aman said.

"What did he say?" He asked slowly.

Arjun had to leave home. He has nowhere to go. Can I please get him here?” Aman begged again.

Dev looked at his wife, and then back at his son.

Please leave. We don’t need you anymore.” Dev said slowly.

No…” Mallika screamed.

Papa, please…” Aman cried.

Get out Aman. Take your things and leave.” Dev yelled.

Aman walks back to his room and grabs the packed luggage placed on his bed. He had an inkling that his parents would behave the same way like Arjun’s. He hung his bag over his shoulder and stormed out of his room. He gave a last look to his parents and walked out slowly.

Mallika had not seen him since then. She knew through her sources that he had managed to find a house and was living in there with Arjun. He regularly went to work and had cancelled all the credit cards that his father had given him. He never tried to get back to his parents. Mallika thought that maybe he was embarrassed. A lot of trash was being spoken about him and Mallika would hardly step out of the house. The friendship between Dev and Arjun’s father had become formal and they only met to discuss business. Not a word was mentioned about either son. Dev was almost reduced to a nobody because of mocking relatives and friends. Their life had been turned around overnight and Mallika would never forgive her son for that.

Her close aide had told her that Aman dropped into Coco’s everyday. After a lot of thinking, she had decided to come meet him today. She had arrived early telling Dev that she was at a dinner party. She looked at her watch. Seven pm. She was just about to switch on the stereo when she saw Aman and Arjun arrive. She was laying her eyes on her son after three months. He looked happy. A sole tear escaped her eye and she closed her eyes. She waited for the feeing to sink in and opened them. Aman and Arjun were no where in sight and she cursed herself for missing them.

She was parked opposite to the pool and was neatly hidden under the shade of a Gulmohar tree. She looked around. She caught sight of a red jacket next to the pool. Yes, that was her son. He sat next to Arjun and smiled at the waiter. He surprisingly looked good, considering the fact that he was away from his parents for a long time. He looked clean and sorted. Mallika did not like it. For the pain he had caused them, he did not deserve to be happy.

Mallika was determined to break her silence today. She was waiting to lash out her emotions at her son. The son who had failed her and her husband. She waited for the perfect moment wondering when to barge in. She looked at her son who was resting his head on Arjun’s shoulder. Disgusted, she looked away. And then looked back.

Arjun was now playing with Aman’s hair. They were talking and laughing together. Aman looked satisfied and content. Mallika couldn’t believe the scene. The boy who couldn’t stay without his mother for even a day had stayed away from her for about a hundred days. And worse, he showed no signs of missing home. He seemed happy and content in his little world, out here at Coco’s. It was too much for her to digest. The past three months had been hell for her and her husband. But not a strain of it was shown on the son’s face. Unable to bear the contrast anymore, she grabbed her bag and barged out. As she got out, she could hear her son’s laugh.

She stopped and stood stunned. She looked back at her son again. He was laughing with joy and there was a certain glint in his eye. Slowly, she opened the door of her car and sat back. She looked back at her son and smiled. For the first time in many days. Tears flowed down to her lip, but still she smiled. Her phone was ringing, but she did not hear it. She was busy looking at her happy son.

Mallika had never seen Aman this happy before. He had always scored the perfect grades and had brought home the trophies. His dad had celebrated his achievements with extravagant parties, but all Aman did was play along. He never seemed thrilled by all the fame and money. He never enjoyed his life as much as he should. But today, Mallika was seeing a different side of him. For the first ever time. Aman smiled so much that it filled her heart with joy whenever she saw it. They was a certain glow on his face and Mallika wondered what it was.

And then it hit her like a warm gush of wind. It was love. Her son was in love and she did not appreciate it. He had judged his choice ignoring the obvious. This was the first time her son was in love and she did not do anything good for him. Instead she had thrown him out, without giving him a chance to reason. No wonder Aman looked so happy today. He was free from the judgement. He was free from his dad’s expectations. He was free from his mother’s restrictions. He was free to love. How could he not be happy?

Wiping her tears, she left her bag on the next seat and walked out. She locked the car and slowly walked into Coco’s. As she reached the pool side, Arjun saw her.

Aman, isn’t that your mom?” He pointed.

Aman looked up and saw her. His expression changed. Suddenly his face looked all hollow and drained out. There was fear in his eye. He slowly stood up wondering what to do. Arjun stood up and slipped his hand into Aman’s. Aman looked at him and smiled. The glow, the love, the happiness all returned back on his face. He had nothing to fear. He was with the person he loved. Nothing else mattered to him now.

Mallika approached her son and looked sideways at Arjun. He let go of Aman’s hand and moved aside. Aman’s mother then smiles at her son, pats his cheek and hugs him tight.
This post is part of  Contest 8.. on WriteUpCafe.com
~ Soumya

When you say nothing at all

The first thing I saw were your eyes
They were cold and filled with pain
Something about them soothed my soul
Like a parched desert drenched with rain

From a stranger you became a friend
Sharing with me your fancies and fears
I could see and feel myself in you
As I longed to wipe away your tears

Lost you had, your loved one
The void never seemed to fill
I did not want to replace her
But fall in love I did still

I should have held myself back
I was not allowed to love
I was only a short time guest
Soon I had to return above

But the love and courage in your eyes
Seemed to fill the hole in my heart
I felt healthy and filled with life
As you were filling up my joy cart

You wanted us to last forever
In my love you were thriving
How could I tell you the truth?
That day by day I was dying

I did not want to cause you more hurt
I wanted you to embrace life
You deserved to be loved and happy
Somewhere deep burying the strife

They said that all I had was a day
I did not want to burden you with sorrow
I used silence as the best weapon
Did not want to tell you I'd be gone tomorrow

Love is never supposed to end
I'd love you even after I close my eye
Hold me like a memory and look forward
New beginnings only arrive after a good bye

Don't say a word, just hold me close
Let me soak it all in before I fall
Because life sometimes is more beautiful
When you say nothing at all

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

~ Soumya

The Honest Post - Phase 4

Read Phase-1 here / Read Phase-2 here / Read Phase-3 here

After realizing that it had begun, Cal asked me the question, "Will you marry me?" I use the word 'asked' instead of 'popped' because I knew it was coming. Someday sooner or later. And if you guys think that I said "Yes" immediately and we lived happily ever after, think again. This is way far from that. Me being a commitment phobe was skeptical about getting into a relationship and the fact that I was only 25 then did not help either. I was dealing with a lot of turmoil myself and did not want to involve someone else in my already fucked up life. You see, I did love him. That's why I wanted to keep him away until I sorted my life. I did not want to see him hurt, at any cost. I asked for time and he patiently agreed to give me all the time in the world.

We continued meeting everyday and he did not pester or force me to give him an answer. We just remained the way we were and played and laughed together. I carefully avoided the topic and he seemed to play along beautifully not once making me feel uncomfortable. I fell more in love with him then. He used to spend all his time with me and expected nothing from me. I had never met a guy like that before and believe me I have met loads of them. I knew he was not the most good looking or dashing guy, but he is the only guy who has invoked immense feelings inside me. Feelings of all kind. The feelings I had chosen to hide. Rather bury. But he got it all spewing out and I was soon seeing a new person in myself. A much happier person. And now don't over exercise your brain and think that I settled for him (going by the reacher-settler theory of HIMYM). Its not like I'm Miss Universe anyway. I'm realistic and I know what I can get.

It took me quite a while to get used to the new me. From an arrogant women I was turning into a soft spoken lady. My anger diminished with time and I felt at peace within myself. He was changing me without wanting to. And I was changing without realizing it. But what ever it was, both of us were loving the changes. I had always found it tough to embrace happiness. I don't know why, but I felt that if I embraced it, it would go away. He taught me how to do it. He worked over time to clear the clutter in my head. The chaos in my mind soon eased and I was turning into a better person day by day. And as bad luck would have it, I had some hormonal imbalance and started gaining weight. The stick thin me started blooming and I did not look anorexic anymore. Everyone told me that I looked more happier now. I nodded at all their statements taking time to adjust to my changes. One at a time. It is not as easy as typing it here. I mean imagine taking out 25 years of being a person! But since it was for the good, it was a tad bit easier.

Cal's question still remained unanswered and I knew a day would soon come when I would have to answer it. Still I kept quiet. Wondering if it was worth it. After a few bad relationships, you tend to doubt the very feeling behind it. And to make matters worse, we were related. I didn't want it to go down like 'just an old affair' like the many ones I know today. Its tough to walk around colleagues whom I've just dated, just imagine running into an ex-flame at all family occasions. All this, assuming that we might go down the drain someday. And this would happen if we got together. So, I was thinking about snipping it right at the bud. Yeah cringe all you want, but all I was thinking was of protecting him and me from a heartbreak. I knew he had had his share of pain and I didn't want to contribute to it in any way. Call me selfish if you wish, but I wanted a clear conscience.

But he was confident that we were meant to be. I would not be exaggerating if I said that he gave his heart and soul in getting this negative thought out of me. He would tutor me like a child at times and tell me to think positively. At times he was angered by my cynical approach towards life. I don't blame him, I'm a really tough person to handle. But he never gave up. While I did about 10% of the work, he did the 90%. He literally got into my head and cleaned out all the unwanted mess. Not only that, he replaced it with fresh thoughts and a clean organised outlook. I kept wondering why on earth was this guy doing so much for me? Fine, he loves me. But why would anyone do so much for someone else? And that too someone whom you have known closely only for a few months? Before these questions could crowd my head he gave me the answer; "I love you and I would do anything for you".

Yeah, that was enough to shut me up for a few days.

To be continued.

~ Soumya

Building a Smarter Planet

I completed five years of my corporate life with my first company on the 27th of June. And I was rewarded very well. The feeling of being appreciated is quite something altogether and if it is for something that you put your heart into, then it is an added bonus. I started my corporate life on the 27th of June 2008 as a fresh faced graduate and stepped into the biggest giant of the IT industry. Today whatever I am is because of my tenure here and I'm proud to be associated with this company. I've made some wonderful friends here, some enemies, some ex-boyfriends (yes, I broke the golden rule 'Never date someone at your workplace'), some mentors and some inspirational idols. Some have taught me what I can become and some have shown me what I should not become. 

Five years. Zero regrets. Zillion lessons learnt. 

Talking about appreciation, two of my articles were published in the Tamarind Rice issue for June. Yes, I have been published three months in a row. It sure is a nice feeling, and definitely motivational. Soon I shall start writing my book and hopefully one day it shall get published too. This is more of Cal's dream than mine and I shall do anything to fulfill his dream. Someday. Soon.

So after spending five years with my company which focuses on building a smarter planet, I thought of jotting down a few points that would help us lead a smarter life. Or a better life. No, I'm not going to give out tips on how to save electricity, how to lose weight, how to become fair or how to go green. I'm going to be more realistic. Yes, as usual.

~ Accept yourself the way you are. Tall, short, fair, dark etc. You need to find yourself beautiful, only then the world will appreciate you.

~ Accept the harsh realities of life. Did you fail an exam? Did he/she leave you in the lurch? Did someone close to you die? Did you miss out on something? Whatever it is, accept it and move on. And for God's sake, stop living in denial. 

~ Act your age. Don't be an over enthusiastic teenager trying hard to grow up with the help of push up bras, tattoos or piercings. Also don't be that middle aged soul trying desperately to fit in the crowd with super bikes, a flashy car, the 'yo-yo' slang, a boob job or Botox. Look and act your age. Because believe it or not, people will always know your age.

~ Vent. Don't keep anything within yourself. Write. In a book or a blog. Publishing it or not is your wish. But write. Once you see it in print, you will feel light within yourself. And nothing better than a blog or a diary to spew out your feelings or venom. After all, both are your personal spaces.

~ Mind your own business. Someone bought a car, someone else is dating a foreigner, someone is actually happy etc etc. Believe me, none of your business. Concentrate on your life and let them concentrate on theirs. And for God's sake do NOT stalk people. On Facebook, Twitter or on a blog. Be it an ex, a frenemy or someone you want to keep a tab on. Because trust me, most of the times the owner is smart enough to know who visited their space. Identifying IP addresses and hacking into it is not very tough.

~ Stick on to your beliefs. You might be a small town girl/boy. But just because you are a part of a metropolitan city now, doesn't mean you undergo a self metamorphosis. We all have out foibles, do not put up a veneer to hide it. The more you try to hide, the more it will show. I have seen loads of kids who come to Bangalore to study and take up smoking, drinking, drugs and wear outrageous clothes just to fit in. And when the time comes for them to visit their folks they turn into the typical mama's boy/girl chanting chimes. Best form of cheating. Ever.

~ Do not compare. Even if you are living a fucked up life, make peace with it and see how you can improve it. Do not look at others and feel bad for yourself. And do not curse them for doing better than you. It is no fault of theirs that you are hitting rock bottom. Work on your life yourself, no one else shall or will do it for you. Look at others and set goals or use them as an inspiration. Nothing more or less than that.

~ Have a passion. Apart from your daily work and household chores make room for some activity. A long lost passion perhaps. Reading, singing or even just meditation. Fifteen minutes a day will do. Most of my writing happens when I finish work and wait for the husband to come pick me up. Never wait for the time to pursue a passion. Make time for one.

~ Pamper yourself. Somehow related to the first point but more materialistic here. Once in a while it’s okay to splurge on yourself. So go ahead and buy that shoe you're lusting after. Or go ahead and get that spa treatment you have been dreaming of. No matter how much the bill, that awesome feeling of taking care of yourself will be worth it. But only once in a while. And, don't pamper yourself at another’s cost.

~ Be practical. A knight in shining armor would come for me, all I need is your love and all other blah blah. Total bullshit. Life is never this easy. Word hard, set realistic expectations and go for it. Being romantic and sensitive is good to a certain extent. But being practical is what helps you survive. And that is what is right. 

~ Save. Even if it is a penny, save it. And please do not ever subscribe to a credit card. Its like the Pandora's box. Once you open it, you shall keep paying for it. Buy what you can afford and with the money you already have in your account. Also, whoever buys it, the amount shall remain the same. Just because someone asks you to pick something doesn't mean you pick the most expensive item. Imagine if they do the same to you.

And at last but not the least,

~ Love. Unconditionally but with caution. It is the best feeling in the world no doubt, but it is also the best killer. Be careful and notice the signs in case it is going downhill. Be blind in love, but do not be foolish. Shut the eye, but have all other senses open and ready. 

So, here we go, a few things that I think will help everyone lead a better, simple and smart life. If you think of anything else, please leave a comment. Shall include it in the part-2 of this post, if we have that many.

~ Soumya