Colorless Faith

​The vessels were empty;

And the windows broke;

The stomach longed for food;

The tongue had forgotten its taste.

Thirsty, desperate and disturbed

The mind didn’t agree to rest. 

In the corners and crevices of the city,

The eyes searched death with hope.

His faith had a color once;

With dire times he painted it with all,

Green, Saffron and White;

Helpless his faith become colorless. 

When will we paint the world white?

​Feminism, sexism, racism, castism, ageism. The gala words and the world goes gaga. The 100 other ‘-isms’  and the more recently my self proclaimed addition to this list – wordism. Though the word absolitely doesn’t make any sense, I would like to define it is as the practice of sprinkling seemingly sensitive words to make a point on serious issues for the sake of being crowned the SMART ONE. 

There is a  sort of obsession with these words today. Stories, reports and our day to day experiences do color our maps dark, but painting such serious issues with exciting tones is a mockery of the struggle that we as a mankind are going through. But are we all really together in this struggle? If we had been a wee bit more sincere, we wouldn’t have scavenged on petty things to prove that the challenge is for real. 

When I read media articles on sexism, when my facebook wall is filled with the stance of left and right wing leaders, I am saddened. Not because I prefer to agree or disagree , but because I feel that the world has failed to decide, to honor the commitment it is not only meant to but also obliged to. People have atleast started talking about these things and such issues have increasingly become hot topics of conversation is no argument for being content with the progress. Because what then? What happens when the coffee goes cold? What happens after all said and done we still judge a person for his/her skin color,  roots, or sex? Our conversation, perhaps  only reflectred an opinion of the well read class and not of the class which meant well. 

Petty issues are seen in perspective of caste and religion, when the background to it entitles a different story altogether. That being said, don’t misinterpret my statement to sweep the realities under the carpet. Because the tales are sadder and their ends haven’t seen justice.  

I am not here to preach about how to free ourselves from the shackles of such a long history of being unjust and facing injustice. That has a rather simple answer , and to the dismay of my readers I will like to keep that question open for introspection because we don’t need the answer but the courage to accept that it is indeed the true one. We need the courage to change our attitude. It is going to be tough, the war of two thoughts has never been easy, but no where was it said that we can’t claim victory. We live in a country with a history of diversity, value system, complex social and patriarchal hierarchy, and things will need time to run it’s course. It may question our values, it will try to break the system that now seems obvious to us. The war does bring casualties and though the wounds may heal, the scar will remain. 

So what are we then talking about? We are talking about the need of maturity to deal with it. To be able to inculcate a long forgotten lesson of think before you speak. In this age of social media, the gravity of words have fallen. Nothing is important, everything just passes. Words once mightier, find it difficult to get expression among the so called sensible. Everything is divided in two, the middle path is lost into the arguments of the extreme. Hypocritical comments are condemned, but I myself find hypocrisy to be more of a natural instinct than a flaw. Because more often than not we are not in the position to decide and what we choose doesn’t reflect our minds but rather it manifest our helplessness in this mad world in these mad mad times. 

This battle has been long. The debate of a perfect society is a monologue of the more privileged ones. It is not easy to dissuade oneself from the liberty to speak. But it is the responsibility that should matter more now than ever. It is time we give back the words their power, by cumulating its presence in actions. 

Story of the Forgotten Girl

​There sat on a mother’s lap- a girl,         Her eyes scanned the open sky,         When she saw the birds soar high.         All she wanted was to fly. 

There sat on a bench- a girl,                   Her eyes found pleasure in words,             A pile of books when she read.                All she wanted was to dream. 

There sat on a palanquin- a girl,           Her eyes forced low, for she had to be shy.                                                                       A wedding gown, sparkling jewellery when she wore,                                             All she wanted was to be unchained.

There sat on a pyre- a girl,                       Her eyes were closed, her body scarred. When she woke in heaven’s arm,           All she wanted was to never go back. 

The lap, the bench, the palanquin,         All empty shall remain.                             She could have soared high, dreamt and made it true,                                                 The world says she didn’t try. 

Oh, what do you know of her story?     Her struggle, her pain, her agony.         She had a heart, she did fight back,       She may have failed, but courage she didn’t lack. 

What society did, what society does.     No questions raised, truth is left to die.      History has forgotten her,                        The pages didn’t leave her side. 

MAYRA- A GIFTING RITUAL?

Just the other day I was talking to my brother about a cousin’s marriage that I had attended last winter. He was unable to show up for the wedding due to some prior engagements. As our talks progressed, we started discussing how everything in an Indian marriage comes to be associated with transactions, be it in cash or in kind. It is not that emotional bond is absent, but that which can be maintained without exchange of notes here and there, is engulfed by the idea of materialism.

A big fat Indian Wedding is a dream for many grooms and brides. And though money can be put to better use, I don’t think I have any right here to speak against it when somewhere down the line I won’t shy away from spending whatever it to takes to have my dream wedding. But the customs and rituals that are a part of the Indian wedding needs rethinking, or least a change in the way it has developed to be performed.

One such function, which to me is an extended version of dowry is MAYRA (also known as BHAAT) – a ritual wherein the bride/groom’s maternal family is welcomed by her sister’s family with much fanfare. The maternal uncle, along with his family, then gifts clothes, jewellery and sweets to the entire family of her sister signifying his pledge to share the financial burden of the wedding expenditure. The concept cannot be deemed unfit and ill. A brother-sister relation is that of protection, support and mutual dependency. And hence it is the duty of the brother to stand by her sister in all major and minor events of her life. But the social pressure that has increasingly been attached with this function is disgraceful. Moreover all the gifts are put on display for relatives and guests to see how ‘openheartedly’ they have been gifted. At this juncture, I have some questions. Why is there a need to plan a wedding that cannot be financed by one’s own means? And even if the brother is willing to help, why is there the need for such public display? Will not this ritual have more meaning to it, if this help is encouraged by the emotional leverage of the brother and not motivated by the societal necessity to go out of the way to finance something that not only digs a hole in your pocket but at the end turn out to be a complete show-off event where the presence of any emotion is weighted in terms of the amount of money you have spent on your sister and her family?

When I brought this issue in front of my elders, there were strange answers and explanations. People say that if it is in your capacity then why one should not help. But what is the proof of this willingness? What reason shall be put in place for me to refute the belief that it is the ‘what will society say’ attitude that is actually into functioning?  And if it is actually something so associated with the support and love theory of the relationship, then would not just standing beside your sister on the wedding day, assuring her that irrespective of whatever turn the future takes, you will not leave her matter more? Would not these words of assurance mean more than the number of zeroes penned down on the cheque book?

I am not advocating for a complete abolishment of this custom. But if the whole concept is based on money, then there is nothing that can be done to prove your love beyond it. But if emotions are what that actually govern the function, then there are no boundaries to what shall and what shall not be done. It is upon us to realize what we really want to do. Choking the meaning of such a warm relation by the hands of material exchange and show off, or to nurture it with mutual respect and trust? Remember, that the best help is one that is done without any aspiration for acclaim.