Bilkis Bano Case: Protest at Jantar Mantar

A very emotional, Shabana Azmi at Jantar Mantar, seemed flabbergasted and horrified at the release of the 11 convicts.
Shabnam Hashmi, of Pehchan, at the protest asking for the revocation of the remission of the convicts.
Kavita Krishnan, of AIPWA, appealing to the youth of Gujrat to tell the government, that it is insulted by this remission which has been done to garner votes.
From the young to the old, from celebrities to common folk, women and men from across all communities came together today.
Children at the protest
Gauhar Raza, at the protest in Jantar Mantar, which was organised by AIDMAM, ANHAD, AIDWA, AIPWA, AISA, AIMSS, AIUFW, ARMAA, BASO, NFIW, PEHCHAN, SNS and other other organisations.

Hundreds of people gathered at the protest.
Muslim families from Randhikpur- where Bilkis was raped, are moving to the relief colony, as there is fear.
In Delhi and across the country, a number of Muslim men and women, came out in support of Bilkis.
A Sikh man, came out in support of his Muslim brethren.

Inside Out

Demi Moore’s Inside Out, is one of the most interesting books one’s read, in the recent years. Deeply personal, it not only takes us through her journey as an attractive woman navigating through the entertainment industry, it not only explores the relationship between a woman and her various lovers and the play of power amongst partners but essentially to me it’s just an ode to motherhood, how things come full circle, how healing is our foremost duty to ourselves and the future generations and how self awareness and determination can change your life around, irrespective of your past!

Without giving too much away, let’s just say, it’s not for the faint hearted or the one’s who look at the world through rose tinted glasses. After all, how believable would it sound to people who believe all mothers are martyrs that a famous woman’s mother tried to sell her off for a few hundred dollars and trashed her infront of the press? How will anyone who has never had to deal with a Bipolar parent know what happens to you mentally, how you are the parent not them and how all of it skews your own view of the world? How can anyone who hasn’t been in that situation understand the bond between the siblings? How can anyone know, how it all comes back to haunt you when you least expect it and the addictions are part of the upbringing? But even if you haven’t had any of the experiences that made me weep, while reading this book, if you’re a woman whose had an unusual existence- read it, it will be your light at the end of the tunnel. If you are a woman, who has never had such experiences, read it so that you can stop being so judgmental about other women. If you are a man who knows an unusual woman, read it so you can get a glimmer of an understanding about how her head functions! But most should read it so that they can get a shred of understanding about mental health issues!

A strange phenomena has occurred since one has started addressing one’s own problems . Every time I step out in public, people peer at me and are kind of waiting for me to do something rather dramatic ( that’s what I feel). It’s like they’re trying to figure out where the horns on my head are at! Makes me think, it would have been nice to have normal genes or maybe mental issues that fit into other peoples idea of what a ‘depressive person’ should look like. SB, who is always up for pulling people’s legs, keeps nudging the other one to do some antics, to please the crowd. The other one just nods her head in utter dismay. Nothing hurts her more than insensitivity and nothing triggers the other one more than hypocrisy!

I was telling a friend of mine the other day that at my masochistic best, one once took a paper cutter (my favourite) and put a hundred and some slashes on my body in one go and then went to school the next day, while everything inside and outside me, hurt! This was when I wasn’t even an adult and my view of the world was far less skewed and I still thought that ‘someday everything will be alright’ and that ‘somehow I will find someone who will make everything seem worthwhile.’ Even then, the out of control behaviour was not so much weeping infront of others but withdrawing and running away. Now, the tears have mostly been replaced with sly comments, withdrawl or even better pure rage!

Makes me wonder how less defiant people go about getting help for their issues, considering the absolute ignorance that still surrounds mental health. This is a very interesting anecdote- My mother who made I can’t even count how many suicide attempts in her life, who was addicted to Corex for the longest time, seemed so normal to people that I have a childhood friend who claims she was absolutely alright because whenever she met her, she seemed fine! Unlike me, she wasn’t an introvert but was gregarious and gleeful on her good days, running around the house and singing songs for us. On her bad days, well, overturning cars, getting violent and waking us up in the middle of the night paranoid about everything! Thankfully, my aunt noticed her change in behaviour and took her to her first shrink- Dr Kothari. I marvel at how observant she was thirty years, ago and how ignorant people are still!

The last time I slipped before this, was in my thirties and I kept telling people that I didn’t feel like myself! I wish I’d seriously asked someone for help, surrounded myself with wiser, gentler humans but even when the plastic bag went over my head and even when I lay in bed weeping for days on end, I never dragged myself to get any real help. Withdraw, find some new people, avoid, travel and become normal. Then every decade have a meltdown! How mature! They say, you live and you learn! The biggest learning, hero up, save yourself, ask for help, there are some really nice people out there. In my case, there were a few male friends, professional help, my own ego (at its best, it’s my greatest strength) and faith. The trouble is that by the time you realize or the world realizes, it’s usually a little late, like in Demi’s case, where all the trauma caused health problems!

Now, inspite of all the judgements I no longer hide. I no longer hide my scars and no longer make a conscious effort to wear full sleeves clothes or wear a watch, so that people don’t get uncomfortable. They’re my battle wounds, I survived them, I survived my life and now it’s time to heal.

While reading Moore’s book, one felt so grateful for the wisdom that comes from reading. I read something about forgiving your parents a long time ago. In May 2016, I wrote on a paper which is pasted in my basement- Things to do-‘Forgive your parents, if you can’t do it…still do it. If it seems impossible…still do it!’ I would get up and read that, everyday. I still do, when I’m home. Thanks to that and my mum’s enormous efforts, my relationship with her changed drastically in the last few years of her life. Demi’s book reminds me- they are fallible humans and when it’s your turn, hopefully your children will forgive you too! Until then, heal, if not for yourself for them!

76th

Ever since I’ve returned from Kashmir, whenever I see the national flag it reminds me that there’s an entire community, which has been told that the members will loose their jobs and their properties can also get confiscated if a flag isn’t hoisted at their homes , tomorrow.

So while some of us may enjoy our freedom, imagine if someone threatened you, with an ultimatum to hoist a flag at your place so that they could show the world and its mummy that Kashmir is now officially a part of India. 75 years of independence. Lets never take our freedom for granted and lets be aware that anyone who can threaten another’s rights can take yours away in a jiffy. While there’s much to be proud off…still hoping for a better India….a better future for the coming generations. Har ghar tiranga, at the cost of what?

Anniversary Edition

It’s been nine years since I began this blog. The start of it coincided with the end of many constants in life and this which was just supposed to be a blog about encounters with interesting women, somehow turned into, like most of my work, a self-centred project. A lot more personal…a little whiney, sometimes full of rage, at times appreciative but mostly flawed, real and in your face.

Many a times, over the course of these years, one has been reproached for over sharing, ‘not everything needs to be written’, I’m told. Well, if I wrote everything about my life, some people would get into serious trouble, so no, one does withhold a lot, covers many things with the same fresh cream and puts the same kind of cherry on top, the world uses to cover its bullshit. But mostly, it’s done, so that my cynical mouth doesn’t taint other people’s perfectly crafted worlds. Plus, someday my babies will read this. I don’t want them to have as skewed a view of the world as I. Hopefully, they’ll think everything is all sunshine and rainbows.

Yet, one attempts at keeping it as real, as one can, which then invariably displays my privileges and my eccentricities. Honestly, other than hiding things that aren’t mine to tell, one tries (and fails) at hiding about love. Samjhdar ko ishara kafi he? Nothing much can be said about unrequited love, other than it’s value lies in not acquiring, I guess. Plus, everyone I love is tattoed on my body (other than mum because for the past two years I’ve been going back and forth with the design). Don’t worry about who occupies my heart or for that matter who keeps me entertained in life; in my case, nothing leads to anything. This, sums up all I hide from you, my few and treasured readers; I suspect, most of you are only family, ex lovers and friends, worried the crazy lady will end up writing something she shouldn’t. Wellllll……..just pulling your leg!

So, stop getting enraged, not everything is about you …it’s about me! ( self centred, much?) It’s hilarious and infuriating: I’ll be writing about fifty year old superstars or commenting about a news item and someone will get pissed with me thinking I’m taking a personal jibe at them about matters one isn’t even aware off. Property rights are shrugged under the carpet with, ‘no, no, why do you write like this? Of course we appreciate what we’re being given.’ Everything is hunky dory, let’s continue to live in an era Before Christ and pretend we have no issues, since being treated like second class citizens is better than spoiling the family name.

Plus, the whole talk about smoking and lovers, in a society that represses women’s sexuality and asks them to pretend to be holier than thou, doesn’t sit well, with most people, so there’s invariably a lot of personal taunting. I forget a number of people in Kashmir, also sometimes go through what I write, which I get to know, when I meet them. The pictures of protests are frowned upon, the reactions to Kashmir ( I’ll write about this) harsh but even harsher surprisingly, is the reaction to mental health issues. The most unlikely people, who have seen parents suffering from mental health problems , people with degrees in psychology, have turned around and told me, ‘this is bs. Therapists just try to swindle your money.’ So, my conclusion is- it is so much easier to post about all the problems in the world other than your own, to speak about what makes you sound smart but never really say what makes you look vulnerable and to stand up for everyone, other than yourself!

But, one treads on, not as a feminist, an activist, philanthropist, not as anything that makes me belong to any group of people, known for their good deeds. You know, one has an aversion to the herd and the herd’s always disliked me in equal measures. Like Javed Akhtar said, ‘ jab tak mujhe sab criticize kar rahe he (Muslim/hindu/ liberal/conservative) tab tak theek he. Jab ek bolne lage ka yeh theek he, tab ghabrane ki baat he!’ I concur.

One treads alone as an individual, hoping it will be enough for some masochistic, lost, teenager (out there and within) overwhelmed with life. One’s just taking space on the web, stealing a little bit of your time and attention by following her heart and writing what is on her mind. Read, discard, criticize or ignore that’s upto you. Being…..that’s upto me!

Happy Friendship Day

I love how memories pop up on FB. That’s why, these days, one writes lovely notes to oneself ( privacy setting to only me, of course) and posts them on FB, for a later date. Someday soon, when things look up and one feels all gung-ho, it would be nice to be reminded of how far one has come from those nights of desperation, when surviving even one more day, seemed like too much.

This popped up today. Ironically, just a couple of weeks ago, while I was driving around the North of India, with a friend, we were discussing how crazy one was at this time. I was telling him how I wish, I would have listened to my gut and not ignored, the red flags. What I mistook for just heartbreak and desperation, was so much more deep rooted. Other than, he and I, no one knows, the extent of my nuttiness. Why hasn’t he jumped off the sinking ship, like the rest of the world? ‘Murder or institutionalisation?’ I pull his leg. He just nods his head and laughs. I’m glad I amuse, someone, most people are exasperated by my sense of humour/cynicism. Too negative, too different, too aggressive, too crazy…always, too much. Both SB and SC, are bewildered by the world’s reactions to us but the answer lies in these lines by Kipling-

‘If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much!’

Or my favourites, ‘ Gam or khushi mein farq na mehsoos ho jahaan. Mein dil ko uss makaam pe lata chala gayaa.’

Even this makes loads of sense-

‘ You don’t outgrow others. Your new vibration outgrows the vibration of your old self. Your energy field configuration is different from before. You no longer resonate with those who only resonate with with your old self. You naturally move into another timeline.’

Maybe one’s vibrations have been lower than before or they might be changing, all together. One’s closest companions remain solitude, death and God- who ensures that when all the doors shut in your face, you have the one that stays. Anxious, much? Old habits die hard, if they ever do, so one’s on tender hooks, when someone is being nice, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For how long, will this niceness last? Well, who knows? ‘Till it’s convenient I guess, the day it ain’t, all relationships are like revolving doors’ thinks the self protective/ cynical SB. Her motto in life remains, ‘tu nahi to koi aur sahi…koi aur nahi to koi sahee’ Misanthropic, much? Always. The other one is nicer, doe eyed and totally setimotional…like her mum, pity she doesn’t get to come out. But to you, believers in all thing lovely, who believe friendship/love make life’s journey sweeter and who look at the world with rose tinted glasses- Happy friendship Day!

To the one who stays, from SC to you-‘ Yaroon ne mere waaste kyaa kuch nahi kiya, sau bar shukriya, sau bar shukriya! Till, you’re around, I’m glad. When you go, well, you’ll remain in my thoughts and prayers, like the rest of them.’ From SB to you, my reproach to your niceness remains the same, ‘I don’t need nobody, ok! To zyaada baap banne ki zarurat nahi he, samjh aa rahee he?’

P.S- I sent this to a friend from New York. The month that I spent there was probably the scariest for me. Though, I was living in a beautiful apartment in the heart of the city, I was hysterical. I was so depressed that I missed a day of the Jane Evelyn Atwood workshop because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. So don’t take the red flags lightly and never let anyone convince you are fine when you don’t feel it.