Outward Smiles, Inward Screams!

fairy tales

“The prince charming came riding on the horse, kissed the princess on the lip and rescued her from all the misery. They rode into the basking sunshine and  lived happily ever after. Goodnight, honey. Sleepwell” said the mother and tucked her in the bed.

She waited for her prince charming to come, for the next twenty long years.

The knight in shining armour, the valiant man to save the damsel in distress.

She kept waiting and waiting, but the prince charming never arrived.

Cinderella, Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty, all fairy tales flawed.

False hopes and invalid dreams.

Outward smiles and inward screams.

 

Fair, tall and skinny, the stereotypes of beauty all glorified

The naive minds of little girls fed on such lies

But is tall, fair and skinny enough?

Try being sharp, intellectual and creative for once.

A beautiful mind is far better than a beautiful body.

 

Bed time stories need not be fairy tales of pretty young girls.

They can instead be inspiring anecdotes of powerful women.

All you lovely mothers with even lovelier daughters,  please take note, Cinderella, Snow White and Jasmine aren’t real.

Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sanderberg and Oprah Winfrey can be our role model.

Why do little girls have to wait around for a prince charming to come save the day?

She can be her own savior and when the sun shines, she can as well make hay!

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Marital Rape – Ignorance is not always bliss.

What is marriage? Our culture describes it as a sacred institution, its very sanctity is what our tradition preaches of. But it’s a matter of great plight that even today in some parts of the world, behind the closed doors and the drawn in curtains, marriage is primarily  just a contract for legal sex. She is your wife and now nobody is going to question you, neither she herself. But what our men need to remember is that just because she said “I do” once doesn’t mean you never have to ask again. A woman not saying no is not a woman saying yes.marital rape final

Rape, a word that we all are familiar with. A heinous act of forced sexual intercourse including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. It’s a depiction of power over the victim by sexual assault. It is a disgusting act criminalized in all nations. Rape is considered a violent crime and carries heavy sentences, even for a first offense. Depending on the circumstances, rape may be punishable by several years up to a life sentence. On the other hand marriage is a holy union of two people promising to spend the rest of their lives with each other. It is a sacred bond of love, togetherness and sharing of responsibilities. Now lets just put the two words together. One that is purely sacred and the other that is purely horrific. Marriage and rape. Marital Rape. But how many of us are actually familiar with the term “marital rape”? How many of us know what it really means? And how many of the ones who know about it actually feel that it should be criminalized?

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So many questions and such less answers. But that’s how our country is. Neither are we encouraged to ask questions nor are we encouraged to seek their answers. We escape whatever feels uncomfortable or awkward. The truth is that according to statistics most of the men in India, in fact many parts of the world for that matter don’t even consider this as something wrong or offensive. Providing sex to the husband is considered as a part of the marital duties of a woman. But the truth is that we are a country terribly hobbled by ignorance and custom. Hence people in general believe that taking her consent is not even important here. And that the man has a right on his woman and her body. Only because they are married. It is estimated that only 1% of rapes are actually reported. It is believed that women in India are 40% more likely to experience rape from their husband than by a stranger. It is also estimated that 10% of women in India experience sexual violence.

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More often than not the answer is “But when we are married, how is it rape?”Even women are  confused about this concept. Marital rape is nothing but rape. And a rape is rape, regardless of whether it is committed by a husband, father-in-law, uncle or stranger.  Marital rape in fact is even worse than rape for that matter, because these are the women who get raped the entire night and then get up to make breakfast for their rapists the immediate next morning. There are wolves all around the street but these men are the real wolves that hide in the costume of sheep in the houses itself. Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband.

Over 100 countries have criminalized marital rape.  The revolution started with women activists in America raising their voices in the 1970s for elimination of marital rape exemption clause and extension of guarantee of equal protection to women. The countries that haven’t are Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc to name a few. On one hand we try to live up to the fast paced growth and development of the leading superpowers and advanced countries like the US and UK and Canada but when it comes to treating our women we are in the company of countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan. Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), has echoing very archaic sentiments, mentioned as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse by  man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”  On having raised the issue of criminalizing marital rape, our law and the so called authorities claim that in a country like India criminalizing marital rape is not possible because of illiteracy, poverty, and the very sanctity of marriage. What does this even mean? The poor households are allowed to treat their women like sex objects? Is illiteracy a perfect veil to hide behind and perform any kind of heinous act that you want to? To say that the institution of marriage will be threatened by such a law is to either underestimate the very real affections, bonds and negotiations that hold good marriages together despite deep disagreements and differences, or to accept that sexual abuse and coercion is so common in marriages that no man dares risk such a law.

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One of the major issue fueling marital rapes is the taboo associated to sex in our society. Societies such as India that condemn and penalize sex outside of marriage often force men into marital relationships only for free access to physical consummation, which puts women under incredible sexual threat. In many parts of our country women are married to men who derive lust from the pain, who bypass the innocent consent that she thinks of being prevalent in their relationship. Her relationship with her husband is subjected to more of physicality and the bodily pleasures than being touched with the eternal bliss and bloom of the vows she took as the very steps of her life with him.

Ignorance is bliss, they say. But in this mad world that we live in, bliss means our women are being subjected to torturous physical abuse and are raped by their very own husband in the name of marriage. The same husband she had put all her faith in and took the holy vows with has become her criminal. The one who was supposed to protect her from anything and everything wrong as he had vowed to when he married her is now the very person responsible for her misery. But technically bliss will be when our men will show sensitivity towards their wives. When there won’t even be a need to criminalize marital rape, because it won’t exist. The sacred institution of marriage will be given the due respect it deserves. Men won’t have right over the body of their wives but will instead respect her choice. That is what the true meaning of bliss is. And that is when we can choose to be ignorant.

ignorance

THE WEDDING

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“Now that the mehendi has begun to wear off my hands, I guess I’ve started to accept the fact that my sister is now married, and happily so” said Mira with a content and nostalgic look on her radiant face. Remembering that night still brings in countless memories that make her eyes moist even now. Because that’s the thing about memories, they warm you up from within and break you a little inside, all at the same time.
Wedding, a word that we all come across every now and then, but never really realize its meaning unless it’s the wedding of our very own sibling, our son or daughter, or our own self for that matter. This one single word has the power to change our lives forever and if we are lucky enough, this change can be really really beautiful. And for Mira this change turned out to be pretty great in its own sweet way.
21st February 2016
During a regular otherwise monotonous hour long phone conversation with her little sister Mira, Ananya finally broke the news. Yes, she was engaged. Dhruv and Ananya had been dating for almost four months now and that day Dhruv had finally proposed to her. Mira jumped in joy hearing this wonderful news, trying to be happy for her sister, but deep down her heart was sinking. She was taken in for a shock and she maturely hid her emotions in front of Ananya. Mira and Ananya more than sisters were best friends, each other’s confidants, and everything else. Both of them were a close knit circle themselves, sharing everything right from clothes, bags and shoes, to food and even each other’s lives now on phone and skype, the two sisters had never been away. And suddenly this news had shaken up Mira from the inside. As much as she was happy for her sister’s fairy tale to have come true, she was overwhelmed at the same time. She kept down the phone and cried hard, unable to know how to react and what to feel. All she knew was that this was huge, and no matter how much we talk about being progressive and modern, her priorities will change. Yes, she will now be married.

Dhruv was just the exact guy Ananya had always wanted in her life. The sensitive, caring and understanding man that almost every girl aspires of, Dhruv was all shades of the ideal prince charming we all have dreamt of since we were little girls listening to our grandma’s anecdotes. Being a shy and simple girl that she was, she hadn’t been into the dating world much before. She had had her experiences with guys that never turned out the way she wanted to and when she was least expecting it, love knocked her door. And you know what love comes with, well it comes with sweet romantic dates, lots of surprises, late night phone conversations and tonnes of understanding and support along with, a fair bargain at twenty four, life had been kind to Ananya.Breaking the big news to mom dad was not as hard as it seemed. Luckily their parents were receptive to their daughter’s beliefs and supported her throughout. And having met Dhruv, their doubts and inhibitions too were easily catered to. As they say, when it’s right, it just is and everything falls perfectly into place.

And finally the D-day arrived, it was all happening, for real. It was dreamy and unbelievable and still so with the flow. Ananya woke up in the morning and felt a little jittery. Staring at herself in the mirror she realized it was her last day as Ananya Sharma and soon she is going to be Ananya Malhotra, the thought gave her chills. And right at that moment her phone beeped and the screen displayed ‘Dhruv’ she grabbed the phone blushing away.
“Heyy you! “
“Hii darling! How’s my prettiest doing this morning? All set for the big day? “ said a gleeful Dhruv over the phone.
“I don’t know. I am just surprised that this is actually happening. Let’s just run away. No big ceremonies. No people staring at us on that hugeass stage. No pretentious smiling and no 100kg outfits and jewelry. Phew!” exclaimed Ananya worriedly.
“Hahahaa! Let’s escape this drama and get married, naked in the fields ;)” Dhruv played along.
“You’re imagining this already, aren’t you?” said Ananya in a flamboyant tone.
“Well you know how to read my mind, love. One of the reasons I’m really marrying you.”
“You bet, Mr Malhotra. And this isn’t going to be all fun and flirtatious forever, you know that right?”
“I know exactly what I need to know and that is- I love you. And I can’t wait to see you in that beautiful wedding outfit dressed up like a dream.” said Dhruv calming her down.
“I love you too. Shit. I’m so gonna trip over that never ending lehenga in front of the entire flock of people staring at me. Dhruuuvv I am scared.”
“And I’ll be the first one to burst into the loudest laughter.” giggled Dhruv.
“I hate youuuu” screamed Ananya.
“And I love you. And I am gonna hold your hand so tight, I won’t ever let ya fall, never ever. And certainly not over one lousy lehenga on our wedding day.” Dhruv comforted her.
“We’re gonna be alright?”
“We’re gonna be just fine. Now cheer up and send me a happy bride to be selfie. Okay? Can’t wait to see you tonight.”
“Neither can I. Bye.”
“Bye.”
She hung up and definitely felt a lot better after this little cheer up session. At the same time Mira stormed into the room screaming “Come on it’s your wedding! Go take a shower. We need to start the haldi ceremony” Her little sister was the most excited and lively one in the family. Dancing around the house since morning she was certainly the life of the house.
The Sharma house was dressed up like a bride itself. Ferrylights, flowers and scents adorned the entire place. A big basket of fruits, lots of boxes of mithai and a huge plate having all the pooja essentials along with a medley of haldi and other necessities required for a typical Indian ceremony were scattered around the room in the most perfect manner. Ananya’s friends and cousins had come over and the entire house was full of life and fervor. The moment Ananya walked through the door, everybody stared at how magnificently beautiful she looked. Dressed up in a yellow saaree, her beautiful long dark hair flowing across her face and the slight shy smile on her face, she was glowing away like the perfect bride. Little did people know how terribly nervous she was, the prettiest smile hid it all.
The ceremony began and all the girls started to apply haldi on her already glowing skin. Smiling, laughing, chatting, teasing, singing and dancing they all were more than happy to see Ananya ready to embark upon the most beautiful journey ever, a journey of a lifetime, the most anticipated moment of every girl’s life.

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Mira stood at a distance and her eyes got numb seeing the merry group of people all around and an absolutely gorgeous Ananya having a content look on her face. Everything around was moving, still she felt as if time had frozen right there in her sister’s innocent smile, in her laughter, beaming with radiance. And right at that moment Ananya’s eyes began searching for her little sister. And there she saw her crying silently. They shared an eyelock and Mira wiped her tears immediately and hopped towards the bunch of girls around Aananya. Mira dipped her hands in the haldi paste and applied it gently on Ananya’s cheeks and arms. The two sisters looked at each other and no words could ever express the sheer vehemence of the moment. One look and each time they could simply speak more than a million words.

The morning was spent in the solemn haldi ceremony and finally it was time for Aananya to get ready for the event of her lifetime. Mrs Sharma dropped Mira and Ananya to the salon, making sure they were doing fine, she left for the wedding venue to make the last minute arrangements. Being the mother of the bride, she was stressed with the never ending responsibilities and chores. Mira was in charge of ensuring that her sister looked like the prettiest bride in the world. Before getting started the stylist asked Ananya to wear her outfit first. And Mira and Ananya got into the room to change and what happened next is quite hard to believe considering the fact that the wedding was in the next two hours.
“Push it. Try to zip it. Come on ”
“Wait let me strech it from here. Hold on tight. Put the hook. “
“Oh come on how can you put on so much weight overnight”exclaimed Mira.
“Mira, I’ll tell you something promise me you won’t tell mom. She’ll torture me for a decade for this.”
“Tell me. What is it?”
“Promise me first”.
“God damnit tell me already. We are running late. “
“Ummm”
“Spit it out” screamed a tensed Mira.
Baffled, Ananya finally said “I didn’t try the blouse earlier. Mom was pestering me to try it since two weeks, but I didn’t. And now I hate myself for this”
“What!? Are you freaking kidding me! What a dumbass are you? It’s your wedding. Do you even realize this. What are we going to do now? The baarat will be at the venue within two hours.”
“I am sorry. What do we do now? ”
“This is insane… Okay wait. You get your make up started. I’ll get it altered from somewhere.”
“Are you sure?” asked a terrified Ananya.
“Do we have any other choice? Okay don’t stress out. You can’t look stressed and tired on your wedding. I’ll fix it. Relax. I got you.”
Assuring Ananaya that everything will be fine, Mira left the salon.

She had no clue where would she find a tailor’s shop? How’d she go?  The driver was at the venue. She couldn’t tell mom. She was dumbfounded. And then to her rescue the salon guy offered to drive her to the tailor’s shop somewhere near. And she knew she had to do this for her sister. She hopped up on the bike with this random guy she never knew, uncomfortable and awkward she rode with him and strolled across the streets everywhere at six pm in the town. Night was setting in and it was darkness all around. She felt unsafe, she wasn’t sure if this was right. But all she knew was that it was her sister’s big day and she’d do anything it takes to make it all work. After twenty minutes of futile attempts at searching a tailor’s shop, they finally came across one. Mira jumped off the bike and rushed into the shop and pleaded the tailor “Bhaiyya ek ghante me baarat aa rahi hai. Jaldi se is blouse ko ek inch altar kar do”
“Pehle try nai kara!?” asked the tailor guy surprisingly staring at her.
“Nahin. Nahi kiya. Aap apna kaam karo jaldi” said an irritated Mira in a stern voice. For all it was, there was one thing about Mira, she never took shit from people. She knew how to be unapologetic and sternly confident about any and everything.
The tailor fixed the blouse in ten minutes and Mira rushed back to Aananya.
“I got you. Take your blouse. It’ll fit you now” screamed Mira rushing towards her sister.
Ananya ran towards her and hugged her sister affectionately. Yes she was her saviour. Not just today, but many days. They both were each other’s saviours. Standing strong like a rock for each other.
“Blood certainly is thicker than water.” said Ananya. “Nobody else could have done this for me today. “
“Hahhaa. It is, darling. I am your sister. I signed up for this. Well now you owe me big time, baby. Today after this fiasco all my guilt for not having been able to do much work for your wedding is gone.”
“Hahahaaaa” both the sisters giggled and made their way to the styling room.
Some odd two hours later, Mrs Sharma came to pick them up, Ananya got out of the room and Mrs.Sharma’s eyes got wet. Seeing her little girl turn into a breathtakingly beautiful bride, she was awestruck, and so was Mira. Mrs. Sharma removed a little kajal from her eyelid and applied a small black dot behind her daughter’s ear to protect her from all the evil. A typical Indian mother of two young girls, Mrs Sharma was overwhelmed to see both her daughters grow up into such beautiful young women. The three ladies finally got into the car and the chauffeur drove them to the venue.
The farmhouse was decorated aesthetically. It looked like the entire place was dancing in joy, celebrating the unioun of Dhruv and Ananaya. Ananya finally reached the altar, Dhruv was anxiously waiting for her, secretly a little tensed about how she was doing. As she started walking down the aisle towards Dhruv, cladded in an off white gold sherwani with a royal turban and a classic kirpan at the side, he looked like the perfect groom. Seeing her walk towards him beneath the extravagant phoolon ki chaadar in all the bridal glory, Dhruv was mesmerized. He couldn’t believe his eyes. A while back she was his girlfriend whom he was madly in love with and now she was going to be his lawfully wedded wife.

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Finally the moment was here, Ananya stepped up the stage, Dhruv lend her his hand to help her out like the most perfect gentleman. They exchanged garlands on a huge stage that went up as soon as they exchanged the flower garlands. Both of them surprised by what they were put through they held each other’s hands to comfort each other in this life changing moment.
“Why is this weirdest stage in the world going up, what’s wrong? I am already nervous.” whispered Ananaya to Dhruv.
“Chalo chand pe chalein. ” said Dhruv in a playful manner.
She laughed a little. And seeing her laugh reduced his nervousness.
“People are staring at us and this stage is going up right into the sky, what is this, are we really getting married?”
“People are looking because we make the most terrific couple ever. And as far as this stage is concerned, If I were to die here, I’d happily do so with you close to me. Because I have you. I’ve achieved everything in life.”
“But I want more of you. This is just not enough. I want a lifetime.”
“And we do have a lifetime. Now smile people are looking. I don’t want them to know what a sloth am I marrying.” exclaimed Dhruv.
All the jokes and all the failed and not so failed attempts to make her laugh and lighten up the stress, Dhruv certainly had his way with his girl.
While the couple was busy on the stage getting clicked and meeting the serenade of people all anxious to get a picture clicked with them, Mira was finally feeling a lot better seeing things go the right way. She was with her friends and cousins, the bridesmaids squad. All dressed up in beautiful lehengas and saarees glittering away, laughing, giggling and twirling to the beat of the quintessential music that filled the air, they looked like one happy bunch of bridesmaids.
“Hey! Look at that hottie in black suit” said Vidya , one of Ananya’s friends.
“Hahaha! Yeah he has got some killer moves as well to compliment that sauve beard and the rugged sex appeal!” exclaimed Shanaya.
“You guys! Come let’s dance!” sighed Mira, to change the topic because the same guy in black had been pretty much staring at her since a while now. Yes she was attracted to his charm as well, but she didn’t want to make any move nor did she want him to do so, it was her sister’s wedding and she didn’t want to steel her thunder or by any means create any trouble. But as they say, the heart wants what it wants, and when the situations conspire, no human efforts really work. The DJ began announcing – “Ladies and gentlemen! Now let’s fill the air with some love and romance. Some heat and some passion. Since we are celebrating the love of Dhruv and Ananya let’s all pay an ode to love with this beautiful dancing game we have up next for all you amazing guys and girls on the dance floor. I have a bowl of the names of all girls and another bowl of the names of all the guys. Each girl will pick up a chit and the guy and the girl will have to dance together. So give it up everybody.!” The crowed started cheering and howling in excitement.
“Oh I am not going to be a part of this rubbish game! How these people make weddings all sexy and fun, it’s weird. Aren’t weddings supposed to be a little more cultured and traditional. Are we really having couple dances and shit?!” said Mira.
“Well sweetie it’s 2017. Weddings are fun. Alright? Stop being a spoil sport. You are playing! That’s it.” said Shanaya and shut Mira up. Shanaya was Mira’s best friend who had come to the wedding just for Mira. She knew Mira was not really in the happy fun zone yet, but Mira and Shanaya were more of soulmates than just best friends. She knew how to handle Mira. She had seen her at her best and even at her worst. After a while of persuasion Mira agreed to play the game. A while later everybody started picking up chits and started meeting their partners. Mira went ahead and picked up the chit. It read “Aditya Khanna”. She read out the name and wondering how fancy the name was, she started looking here and there to find out who was this guy and to her utter surprise a man dressed in black suit with the sauve beard walked towards her from the crowd. And yes it was the same guy her friends had been gossiping about, his demeanour just as fancy as his name.
“Hi! Aditya Khanna!” he said in a husky yet charming voice.
“Hey! Mira Sharma. Glad to meet you.”
“Ahh! Pleasure’s all mine.”
Mira was trying to hide her feelings, and failed at it terribly. And there he was six feet of raw sexiness and charm standing in front of her, staring right into her eyes.
The music began playing and all the pairs started to get comfortable on the dance floor.
Aditya extended his hand forward “May I?”
Mira placed her hand in his and they both walked towards the dance floor. He held her waist and his eyes, deep and brown gazed right into her eyes, sparkling with passion, she had never seen before.

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When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks
And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are
The song seemed to have perfectly fit into their little situation over there. There was an electrifying passion in that moment, none of them being able to understand what that really was. All they knew was that they were lost in each other’s eyes. Aditya tightened his grip on her waist, it sent a shiver down her spine. She too held his shoulder firmly, they came closer and closer. The song stopped abruptly drawing them both out of their meditation of each other. Seeing how things get heated up a little too much, they both decided to get off the dance floor. Still exchanging glances from across the place they both knew that they were already so into each other. Finally Aditya gathered courage and walked up to her.

“Hey! I think I have a thing for you. It was a nice dance. Mind talking a little walk with me? We can atleast get to know each other a little after all this,don’t you think so?”
“Well! It’s my sister’s wedding you know. I mean you’re amazing but I don’t think now is a good time.”
“Oh come on! The happy couple is up on the stage getting clicked and meeting everybody around here. You can spare a few minutes for me, can’t you?”
“Umm okay. Let’s go!” she said a little hesitantly. She knew she was attracted to him and no matter how much she tried to avoid it, this feeling wasn’t sinking in.
“You look beautiful” he said looking at her.
She tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled sheepishly.
“And you’ve got really dreamy eyes” she said in response.
“Hahahaah! Really?”

“Yeah I mean your gaze can pretty much melt anybody then and there”
“Woah! That’s quite a compliment. So did I melt you?”
“Could you be anymore direct?” laughed Mira.
“Hhhaahaa! Just playing my odds.” he said with an innocent smile on his face that gelled perfectly with the rugged persona to make him look irresistibly hot and charming.
“Well wasn’t that question a little too soon?”
“Was it?”
“Maybe”
“Hmmm”
“Caught up in the game of words, haan?” she said playfully.
“Ahahahaa not really. Maybe it’s just that probably you make me fall short of words. And FYI I am a good speaker otherwise.”he said clarifying himself.
“Hhahahaa such justifications” she smiled.
“Always good to be safe” he smirked.
“Right. So what do you do?” she tried to drift the conversation.
“Well I am an investment banker by profession. I did my schooling in Delhi and went to engineering college and then took CAT and I passed out of IIM Ahemadabad two years back. Since then I am into investment banking. And currently I am settled in New York. Hometown has always been New Delhi. Dhruv is my childhood friend and hence I am here at this wedding. How about you?”
“Woah! IIM and all.That’s interesting. Infact even I am pursuing B.tech and yep even I plan to take CAT.”
“So that makes us pretty similar.”
“Yeah for that matter it does.”
Without having realized they had walked quite far away towards the backyard of the resort. It was a quiet and secluded place with no people around. Aditya and Mira were talking and then suddenly they came closer to each other. Breathing in each other’s scent Aditya started tracing the trajectories of her neck with his lips, slowly and tenderly his lips started moving across her cheek bones and he whispered slowly “Tell me if you want me to stop.”
“Keep going” said Mira, trying to catch her breath.
Finally he reached out for her lips and began kissing her tenderly but passionately, she kissed him back and in no time their tongues were into each other’s mouths. He grabbed her waist and pulled her closer, then caught hold of her hair. The jingling sound of her bangles created a mesmerizing music that filled the air in between them. It was magical and mystical. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him like there was no tomorrow. They licked, sucked and ate each other. She grabbed his mouth with her lips and kissed him hard. Her heart was beating faster than ever, her veins throbbed. She experienced a rush like never before. He calmed her and caressed her hair, massaged her back and shoulders. She buried her face in his chest and inhaled his addictive smell. She felt high, she felt passionate and more than anything she felt alive like never before.

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He picked her up in his arms, held her waist and kicked open the door of the guest room. He made her lie down on the bed and began exploring each part of her body. There was an electrifying energy in between them. She smelled like lavender and tasted like heaven. He gently removed her dupatta and placed it aside, then grabbed her bangles and slowly removed them all, one at a time. He then caught hold of her feet and removed off her stilettos and began placing tender pecks on her feet moving up to reach out to her legs and thighs exploring each and every part of her body. He was in awe of her, tracing her stomach, belly button and finally the hip line with his hands he moved forward to reach out for her breasts. She unhooked her blouse and he removed her bra and began massaging her breasts. She unbottoned his shirt in haste and her hands began sliding on the back of his chest. He began licking her nipples and she moaned, experiencing pleasure that was out of the boundaries of this cosmic world.

Some half and hour later-
“Hook my blouse up! We’re late. I need to be there.” said Mira in a slightly tensed tone.
“Don’t worry! It’s all just fine. We’re gonna be there in a moment” he said helping her get dressed back again.
They both got out of the guest room and walked away in opposite directions.
The pheras were about to begin and Mira was with Ananya.
“Are you okay?” asked Ananya seeing a lost Mira.
“Yeah. Ofcourse. What’ll happen to me.” Said Mira fighting to hide her real self in front of her sister on her big day.
The solemn ceremony finally initiated. Ananya was sitting next to Dhruv and the priest was chanting mantras in front of the holy fire. The couple along with their parents were praying and reciting prayers.
Among all this while as much happy Mira was for her sister her eyes were still searching for Aditya. The man who literally took her breath away, the man she can never ever forget in her entire lifetime. She didn’t know what it meant, she didn’t know what he felt for her. She didn’t know how it would affect her life once she is out of this place the next day. All she knew was that she longing for him. And while she was lost in her meditations of him, she suddenly felt someone tapping her shoulder. She turned around to have taken in for a surprise.
“Heyy!” said Aditya in his smooth baritone.
“I was…” she couldn’t complete her sentence.
“Wondering where I was” Aditya said completing her sentence, looking in her eyes.
Dumbfounded Mira pulled away and tried to concentrate on the ceremony. Both Aditya and Mira were watching the aesthetic pheras being conducted. The preist was explaining the meaning of each “phera” necessarily the rounds the couple getting married are supposed to perform around the holy fire for seven times. Each time taking a vow for a life long relationship of togetherness, respect, love and longing.
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With the first phera, the couple invokes the gods for the plenitude of pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.With the second phera the couple prays for physical and mental strength and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.The third phera is taken for the fulfilment of spiritual obligations. The gods are invoked for blessing the couple with spiritual strength.The fourth phera is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony through mutual love and trust and a long joyous life together.
The fifth phera is taken to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire universe and for begetting noble children.The sixth phera is for bountiful seasons all over the world. The couple prays for bountiful seasons and seeks that they may go through these seasons together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows.With the last phera they pray for a life of understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship not only for themselves but also for the peace of the universe.

THE PRESENT DAY –
“And Now that the mehendi has started to wear off my hands, I guess I’ve started to accept the fact that my sister is now married, and happily so” said Mira with a content look on her radiant face, sipping coffee in the porch of her farmhouse in Lonavala watching the rain with nostalgia hitting her harder than ever.
“The mehendi has worn off your hands, Mira. But the memories will never wear off your heart. Because that’s the thing about memories, they warm you up from within and break you a little inside, all at the same time, but never really fade away. Look at us, who knew back then that I’d meet this wonderful wonderful girl at a wedding and end up being with her finally. It all still seems surreal. That you’re mine now and we’re here, together. The memories of that day are still afresh in my mind. For you it was your sister’s wedding and for me it was the day I found the love of my life. I am so glad to have found you.” said Aditya stroking her hair.Mira smiled gently and they both hugged each other. The warmth of their bodies, pushed against each other made the chilly rains of December a lot less colder. They were lying with their arms wrapped around each other, basking in each other’s scent and warmth. They both were at peace with each other. The pitter patter of the rain combined with their throbbing hearts beating against each other created a music their souls danced to.

Finally Aditya stood up and began saying “So, Ms Mira Sharma! Brace yourself. I am going to say something that might really sweep you off your feet. Umm okay, I am really going to say this now” he chuckled. Her forehead clinched, unaware of what he really was going to say, she sat uptight. He held her hand and bent down on his knee. “I think I am in love with you. I am in love with you since the day I first cradled your face in my hands. I am in love with you since you first read out my name from that chit. When we danced together and when we kissed for the first time. I can never ever think of letting you go now. My entire universe revolves around you since that one single day. That day when the priest was reciting prayers and conducting the solemn pheras around that holy fire, all I could think of was that why aren’t WE there getting married and having a life together, forever. I don’t know anything else except the fact that I am in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you, build us a house, have kids with you and finally die when I am a hundred and ten years old in your arms. That’s all I want from life. You, you and just you. So Ms. Sharma, (after a long pause of silence) WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

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Mira fell silent. Her world stood still. She wasn’t expecting this. A lone tear escaped her eyes and Aditya reached out to wipe it. Still holding her hand, he said “There’s no rush. I know this is a little too fast. But that’s how sure I am about us. And it’s all right. Take all the time you need. I am here, waiting for as long as you want me to.

“Yes!” exclaimed Mira “A thousand times yes!”
He sighed and took a deep breath, and finally drew her in his arms.
“I love you! “ she said burying her face in his chest.
And before they both knew, another wedding was out there awaiting the two of them but this time the tables were going to turn. Instead of watching the pheras and the gaudy ceremonies, they were going to be on the other side of the shore, witnessing it all, for real, with each other. After all as they say, life is a complete circle. It all ends right where it begins. And for that matter this ending is nothing but the start of an even more beautiful journey that lies ahead of them.

Because sometimes if you have the faith, fairytales do come true. The prince charming might not come riding on the horse but he will come, all you need is a little faith, a little patience and a lot of hope.

THE AWKWARD CONVERSATION

 

Welcome to India, a diverse and culturally rich country where we can openly talk and express our views freely about any and everything except things like sex, menstruation, birth control and the issues associated to them. Yes, it’s a matter of great pity that even in the 21st century when we have progressed so much and have outgrown the boundaries of all sectors of development; sex and related issues are still a very big taboo in our country. We keep running away from healthy discussions and talks about all these absolutely natural and inevitable processes that sustain life. With a population of 1.25 billion, running in circles to escape the reality is just doing more harm than any good.

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Recently we observed the World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to spread awareness about one of the most common sexually transmitted disease- AIDS. The day saw a lot of people; students, youngsters and social servants taking to various platforms to spread awareness about the importance of safe sex and how to promote sexual hygiene. The most common way to practice safe sex is the use of condoms. But again in a country like India, even buying condoms is one hell of a task. Surviving the weird and the most awkward stares by every single person in and around the medical store, the moment you ask for a “condom” in the most timidest voice ever, is nothing less than launching a mission to mars, isn’t it!?

The main problem is that people relate condoms with sex and not with safe sex. In a country where people shy away from talking about sex openly, health and safety factors associated to it are still farfetched things. The mentality has to change, the mentality of keeping ‘things’ within the four walls will lead you nowhere, well nowhere except for a tsunami of population and few common diseases like cold, cough, and AIDS.

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But even though it gets awkward at times, it should never stop one from buying condoms and using them everytime he/she has sex in order to ensure safety and avoid unwanted pregnancies. Another way to avoid unwanted pregnancies is the use of birth control pills or contraceptive pills as we might call them. Birth control pills are oral hormones that control your menstrual cycle and are your big time saviours letting you have sex without creating humans out of it. But contraceptive pills are not just used to avoid unwanted pregnancies but also help with the symptoms of many hormonal syndromes in women like PCOS and endometriosis. So ladies, when your reproductive health is at stake, remember those little contraceptive pills are your tiny soldiers always there for your rescue.

Another huge taboo in India that atleast all women are totally sick of, is menstruation. The lack of awareness among young girls in mostly small towns is a matter of pity, as menstrual unhygiene and issues associated to it leads them to infections that in worse case scenarios even prove to be fatal. In India we don’t have a culture of “The talk”, yes the prep talk, neither for sex nor for menstruation. But as responsible parents it’s an essential part of their parental duty to prepare their young girls to face periods and everything about menstrual hygiene, maintaining a lifestyle that is good for her reproductive health. Our Indian society has been barbaric towards menstruation since a long time now. A girl when on her period is expected to not go near anything holy or sacred, like a temple, she is not even allowed to enter the kitchen in some conservative households. Women are not expected to visit temples during the menstrual cycle and for reasons only god knows, the same goddess that INSIDE their temples.

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Young girls in schools go through a lot of stress and trauma during the time they start getting their period. Bullying, insensitive attitude and lack of proper understanding in our young boys leads to some distressing experiences for little girls struggling with themselves during puberty. Menstruation is a very natural and healthy process, and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, we women bleed, five days every month. We go through cramps, mood swings, hormonal changes, PMS, and a shit load of bleeding along with it, after all this what men can least do is let us bleed freely.

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Despite the fact that India is the birthplace of the Kamasutra, and a home to many explicit structures like those in the Khajuraho and Konark, sex and related issues still continue to be a topic that is pushed under the carpet. We are too inhibited and conditioned to even openly talk about such issues and all we do is keep staring at women as if they were some objects of desire. Objectifying women has been an issue long standing in our country and eating into the roots of it now. Magazines, songs, movies, all of them these days leave not even a single opportunity to objectify women every now and then. For instance, let us just ponder upon the lines of the very peppy song as most of the people might find it, “Excuse me miss, kis kis kis kiss se tu bhaagegi hun bach bach ke, tenu rab ne husn ditta raj raj ke” which goes by – “Excuse me miss, how many kisses are you going to run from, trying to escape, god has been generous in granting you beauty” I mean what absolute crap is this? Females in some songs, magazines and movies are nothing but sex objects and the sheer abasement of the content is sometimes downright disturbing.

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Just as everything else, even premarital sex is considered a sin in our society, and just after marriage it is considered something really sacred and important. But what about the woman who has been suppressing her sexuality since her teenage years when her mother and the entire society told her that it’s almost equal to a sin even talking about it. How is she now suddenly supposed to have sex with somebody out of the blue for a happy and fulfilling marriage? How is she supposed to make this sudden transition of thinking sex as a sin to doing it for a happy marriage. Most women in India just consider sex as one of their duties as a wife. But in actuality sex is a visceral attraction, a chemistry match which is beyond the cultural standards of honor, obligations and beauty; and it should be considered nothing less than that, and certainly not an obligation for a woman as a part of her marital duty. Even today when it comes to marriage, men want a woman who is a virgin even when he himself might not be one. They say women should be “pure” in order for something as sacred as marriage. But the question is are you marrying a woman or do you want a box of ghee, that it  needs to be pure? Such mentality only makes our society gravitate back to the old, orthodox and biased culture it has outgrown of over the years.

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Today’s youth are settling in modern relationships.They are working together and managing a healthy sexual lifestyle. Therefore, it’s our responsibility as educated and empowered citizens to break the existing stereotyped societal norms. We cannot change everyone’s mind-set, but we can surely start it by changing ours and that of people around us. Change is imperative and inevitable. And just as we say, “Chartiy begins at home” similarly a larger and more dynamic change will take over us once the changes at grassroot level occur.The change of the state of mind begins at home. Talk to your family, it is awkward, but for a free country and it’s citizens with a free, non judgmental mindset; it is crucial to break the stigma regarding sex, menstruation, birth control and the taboos associated with them right within the four walls of our homes and then gradually throughout the society. Things like premarital sex, use of birth controls and even entering the temples and kitchens when the girl is menstruating; are not sins. The highly indispensable prerequisite is respecting each other and their choices as an individual. We need to inculcate this among children at a very young age along with sex education, to pave way for a free spirited, aware, modern and empowered young India.

‘MY’ Law : Moral policing

Moral policing, sexism and religious intolerance are some very common yet extremely sensitive issues that are currently eating into the roots of our society, and with the advent of social media, this nuisance takes on to another level. Cricketer Mohammed Shami became the latest victim of religious extremism after he posted a picture of him with his wife on his official facebook page. The comments that his post garnered since then, are tasteless, to say the least.

Many Facebook users were quick to remind Shami of his religion, when he posted a photo of him with his wife on December 23 on his official Facebook page. His wife, HasinJahan was seen wearing a sleeveless gown. This was enough for some people to start bashing and abusing the cricketer, a Muslim, asking him to make sure that his wife covers herself up in a hijab.

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Most of the comments are directed towards the cricketer, asking him to make sure his wife doesn’t stray from the religious customs. People have also requested Shami, on behalf of the religion, to not set a bad example. While there were no dearth of such comments on his photos, on the bright side a bevvy of reasonable others decided to show their support to the cricketer by showing love instead.

. More often than not athletes and sportspersons are bashed and becomme a topic of controversy for their choices and actions. For instance, Sania Mirza, the darling tennis player of India, has always been a victim of such kind of intolerance. Sania has been subjected to a fatwa by a muslim cleric for wearing revealing outfits in the international tennis circuit. “The dress she wears on the tennis courts…leaves nothing to the imagination,” Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui told The Hindustan Times. “She will undoubtedly be a corrupting influence.” Similar fatwas have been issued against Mirza who was the first woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The problem with religious fanatics and not-so-closeted bigots is that they really don’t get the idea that they have no right to tell others how to lead their lives. It’s one thing to follow archaic guidelines and rules from your religion. It’s a whole other thing when you shame someone for not following the same.

Recently the Rio Olympics 2016 also witnessed the same spectacle. India’s official uniform for the opening ceremony, a yellow saree and a blazer on top, was not quite popular with the ladies. But as usual they didn’t have much say over the choice of their apparel for the same. The least they did was carry the blazer in their hands instead for the red carpet walk, and that certainly made a definitive style statement at the Rio Olympics.

It is downright pathetic that while we call ourselves a progressive nation, our women are still not allowed to even wear the apparel of their own choice. Every individual irrespective of the sex or religion has a certain set of rights as the citizen of this country, and exercising the freedom of choice is but one of them. Women today are going places, and don’t need men or anybody for that matter to tell them what to do and what not to. And it’s high time all the misogynists and fanatics hiding behind the veil of religion start to accept the modern day woman who embraces herself fiercely and unapologetically.

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Most organised religions are patriarchal and oppressive towards women. So, when on December 24, Shami posted a photo of himself with his wife on Facebook, he immediately became victim of a slew of attacks from ultra conservative Muslims, making lewd comments and criticising him for “allowing” his wife to dress up in a “revealing” (sleeveless) dress.

Of course, it is the men who think that they can tell women how to dress, or tell men how to dress their spouses. It’s years of conditioning, privilege and just sheer lunacy that has brought us to a day when we can see men shaming a cricketer by saying things like “Sharam karo sar aap ek muslim ho bibi ko parde me rakho (Be ashamed Sir, you’re a Muslim and you should keep your wife behind curtains)”.

 

The problem also extends beyond religion to a great degree, as it ultimately comes down to misogyny, men dictating women on what they are supposed to do. Whether it is conservative Muslims who make the women don burkas to supposedly protect them from the lustful eyes of men, or it is European nations not letting women wilfully follow their taditions by making burkinis illegal, it is always men who assume that they have a natural right, to tell women what to do, and in the escalating world that we live in, this misogyny demands to be curbed.

Thankfully, not all people who dwell the internet think that way. These comments received a lot of flak, not only from people of other religions (including Hindus who got a little too carried away with their hate, conveniently forgetting that their religion too oppresses women on what they should and should not wear), but also some liberal Muslims who condemned this sort of meddlesome behaviour.

“The hijab has never been a problem for me” said the Bahraini sprinter Ruqaya-Al-Ghasara who runs in a hijab, a full length muslim headscarf. She certainly made history for muslim women athletes, but again it’s the own choice of the athlete to wear or not wear a hijab while on field, and the world needs to respect that.

In an interview with Sportskeeda, badminton pro JwalaGutta said “The people passing such statements have an advantage, you know; they are hiding behind a mask, to make these comments. I’m quite sure in real life, they will never have the guts to come forward and tell me such things. In fact, they will refer to me as ‘JwalaMaam’ and even ask for a selfie or an autograph or something. Over time, I have realised that it’s become a sort of entertainment for people, where they make such comments to attract more attention or get more likes, without realising how sensitive it might be.”

Even Shami did not back down to such meaningless outrage. In another Facebook post, the cricketer said (referring to his wife and child), “Ye dono meri zindage or life partner hai me acha trha janta hu kiya karna hai kiya nahi. Hame apne andar dekhna chahiye ham kitne acche hai. (These two are my life and life partner. I know well enough what to do and what not to do. We all ought to mind our own business”). It was joyful to see the Muslim cricketer fiercely backing his wife and standing in support of her. Shami as a celebrity managed to set a right example for the masses to take a stand against misogyny and religious fanaticism. This, possibly, if everyone followed, would not make religion as bad as it presently is. But that’s wishful thinking.

 

These people question what you eat. They question what you wear. They question your caste, character, religion, language and what not.

For all these concerns, we also have one simple question for them.

WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO ASK ALL THESE QUESTIONS?

Spreading hatred and fanaticism won’t do any good to anybody, for a while we should try putting up a smile on somebody’s face instead. In this mind boggling era of social media our beliefs and opinions can reach the entire world within a fraction of seconds, it’s on us what we choose to spread, hatred or love, extremism or acceptance. The world is what we make it, remember, we always have a choice.

Jingle bells !

Ah Christmas. There’s no denying that it’s a special time of year. Surrounded by family, delicious food and presents, it’s not every day such a great combination arises. Here are some of the reasons we love Christmas…

 

Christmas time is Family time!

Although they drive us crazy and there may be more than one fight on Christmas Day, it just wouldn’t be the same without family. From petty squabbles over the remote control to silly Christmas cracker jokes and board games… family Christmas fun is the best. It doesn’t change as you grow older either for although you might live away, there’s nothing quite like coming home for the holidays.

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Decorations- where is the Christmas tree?

Sparkles, baubles, ribbons, tinsel and glitter…even if you’re a self-confessed Scrooge, turning on the tree lights for the first time has a gooey effect on most of us. Fairy lights and a spray of tinsel can turn even the gloomiest room into a festive haven which is just one of the many things we love about Christmas.

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Put on the new clothes because it’s Christmas time!

Christmas gives us the perfect excuse to dress up; a dress for the office  party, high heeled boots on Christmas Day and a new smart winter coat for drinks on St. Stephen’s night… there are lots of opportunities to get the glad rags on. Trying to decide what to bring home for Christmas if you’re confined to one suitcase can be difficult but then, we do love a challenge

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The Christmas party!

Christmas is definitely an excuse to party and enjoy ourselves. November tends to be a quite month and once December kicks off, it’s a whirlwind of work parties, friendly gatherings and dinner dates. It’s impossible to make time for everything but it is a lot of fun trying. Once Christmas music, dodgy dance moves and mistletoe are thrown into the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster or success… depending on how you view the situation. And of course the Christmas cake. Do I Need to say more?

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SANTA – enough said!

We all remember how we felt as young children waiting for Santa and how the anticipation would build as Christmas approached. That really is such a special feeling and one that’s so important to recreate for children each year. Deep in concentration, Santa letters are posted each year and parents start to collect the loot in preparation for the big man’s arrival. Presents, big or small, it doesn’t matter as long as Santa delivers.

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And last but not the least- FOOD!!!!

The festive season tends to involve lots of food; from Christmas dinner to the mandatory turkey sandwiches not to mention the vast amounts of sweets and selection boxes that tend to accumulate in the run up to the day itself. It’s probably the one day of the year where it’s almost compulsory to eat so much you feel as though you could burst. No guilt allowed, everyone is enjoying the day and January is time enough to start a health kick.

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AMMA

India has seen 16 Prime ministers and over 280 Chief Ministers in various states, but still, never was such love showered on any political personality, as on J. jayalalitha.

Jayalalitha acted in 140 films across 6 languages. She was the highest paid Indian actress from 1965–80. When she entered as AIADMK worker in 1980 she was out of respect called as Amma meaning madam.

Although a life as great as hers cannot be summed up in an article, we have tried to highlight some key facts and events of her magnificent life.

  1. Her full name is Jayalalithaa Jayaraman. She is also referred to as Puratchi Thalavi and Amma. Puratchi Thalavi means “Revolutionary Leader”.1
  2. She was born in Mysore and not in Tamil Nadu.2
  3. As a child, Jayalalithaa had a fan-girl crush on cricketer Tiger Ali Khan Pataudi  She used to go for his matches along with binoculars just to watch him.3
  4. She is trained in Bharatanatyam, western classical piano, classical music and other forms of classical dance.4
  5. She is fluent in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, English, Hindi and can understand Malayalam.5
  6. As she is fluent in English, MGR wanted her to be a member of Rajya Sabha from AIADMK.6
  7. She was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1984 and served till 1989.7
  8. After MGR’s death, AIADMK split into two groups, one supported Jayalalithaa and the other supported MGR’s wife Janaki.8
  9. Jaya contested in 1989 elections and become the first woman to be elected as Leader of the Opposition.9
  10. Jayalalitha was attacked brutally and molested by DMK members on 25th March 1989 in front of Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Assembly speaker.

While Jayalalithaa was coming out of the assembly, the then minister for public works, Durai Murugan, among Karunanidhi’s favorites even today, obstructed her path, clutching at her sari as she cried for assistance.10

This incident—with its echoes of the shameful disrobing of Draupadi in theMahabharata—was the beginning of the end for Karunanidhi. Jayalalithaa publicly vowed to “never step foot inside the House until conditions are created for a woman to attend the Assembly with dignity”. The media condemned Karunanidhi and his men as uncouth and rowdy. And Karunanidhi did nothing – he did not dismiss Durai, nor did he condemn the incident.

She left the assembly with her torn saree and this brought a lot of sympathy for her.

  1. In 1991, Jayalalithaa became the youngest and the first female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to complete a full 5-year term.11
  2. She resumed office for 5 times. Her tenure of 5228 days is the second most by any female Chief Minister of India next to Sheila Dikshit (5504 days).12
  3. She introduced police stations which are fully operated by women and established 57 all-women police stations across Tamil Nadu.13
  4. Jayalalithaa is the first and only incumbent chief minister of India to get disqualified from holding the office because of the disproportionate assets case in 2014.14

However, on 11 May 2015, she was acquitted from the case by Karnataka High Court and was re-elected as the Chief Minister.

  1. Jayalalithaa holds the world record for hosting the largest wedding reception in the Guinness Book of World Records.  She organized a lavish wedding with over 1,50,000 guests for her foster son Sudhagaran in 1995.15

SOURCE: QOURA

  1. When she became Chief Minister, she was given a cheque as her first salary. She said she had “abundant sources of income and did not need the salary.” On being told that she should receive salary as a public servant, she accepted Re 1 as salary.

From food products, schools, TV, daily products, water bottles…. AMMA’s name is famous everywhere. AMMA was the nothing short of messiah for the poor. Doubt it? Here are few of the schemes launched by AMMA for the welfare of the poor and needy.

  • AMMA Canteen
  • AMMA Water bottle
  • AMMA pharmacy
  • AMMA laptops and mobile phones
  • AMMA Salt
  • AMMA Baby Kit

 

 

Despite numerous controversies surrounding her political career, Jayalalithaa has long enjoyed a cult-like following in the state, largely due to her populist and pro-poor schemes only. Rich always has it, AMMA made sure that the poor never lacked behind. She had subsidized all the basic requirements; from food, to water, to medicine and what not. For a poor, if someone just comes along and feeds his starving children, he or she is nothing less than GOD, and rightly so.

She was such a fighter that even death fought for 75 days to win her.

She became the Chief Minister for 5 terms, and each time on her own term.

AMMA will be missed.