TO A SIMPLER TIME

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Take me back to a simpler time

Take me away to a better world

A world where xenophobia is still a foreign word

A world where words like genocide and anti-semitism, still absent from the dictionaries

A time when there were simple melodies and simpler lives

A time when people still knew the meaning of loving and living

A time when people didn’t die at the age of forty because of their hearts failing

But that sounds like a dream, you might reckon

In fact an imaginary utopian one

But just imagine a world, a lot less complicated

Just imagine a world, a lot more simplified

A world where we don’t produce nuclear weapons in the name of technology

A world where we don’t go about slaughtering people in the name of religion

And slaughtering animals in the name of nutrition

A world where leaders aren’t drunk on power and fame

A world where a single click cannot find a person’s address and name

A world where you can’t simply block people on social media and eradicate them out of your lives.

If you want to eradicate something, eradicate all the reasons that made you so fragile that you had to resort to such things in the first place.

Eradicate anger

Eradicate hatred

Eradicate poverty

Eradicate racism

Eradicate fascism

Eradicate terrorism

Plant love in the hearts of people

Plant acceptance and equality

And if nothing at all, at-least plant a sapling in your backyard

Take me away to a world,

Where world peace isn’t like a mirage anymore

But as they say charity begins at home

So let’s try to un-complicate our lives first

All the chaos and all the unrest

It will all just follow.

This unsolicited advice coming from quite a complicated person

Absurd, even I reckon

But aren’t we all struggling souls knocking at the same door

Well then let’s try to open the doors

The doors of a world much simpler, and a world much better.

 

 

 

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TO FORGIVE AND FORGET

to forgive and forget

 

In an attempt to heal the brokenness he left behind

She sits down again with a pen in her hand

In another try of feeling hole again

She begins to scribble away her pain

Remembering  all the lies he told her once

And how her innocent self believed them all at once

 

Alas came the storm of reality, a hurricane of verity

Same stories, he’s telling them all again

But only to someone else

She though is still stuck there, trying to liberate

Dreaming of a future, more perceptive

 

We all eat lies when our hearts are hungry

But the lessons learnt still remain uncanny

 

Forgive and forget, they say

Life is too short for dismay

Let go my dear, they say

But “how to” they never say

 

Maybe that’s for oneself to figure out

To give up all apprehensions and doubt

To relinquish from the clutches of the past

And to reach where we belong real fast

 

I don’t say forgetting is easy

Forgiving, not even close

Like there are thorns with the beautiful rose

But they still cannot affect its august allure

Similarly always remember you’re worth much more

And these setbacks

Only milestones

WISDOM IN WHITE

NANU

Clad in a sparkling white kurta pyjama, he sits in the backyard
White just as pure as his heart, white just as noble as his pride
He sips the cinnamon flavoured tea
While humming the gazals from his book of poetry
There is peace on his radiant face
His demeanour reflects nothing but grace
The wrinkles on his forehead reveal his garnered wisdom
Holding the radio with old songs over the window
He taps his feet along with the melody
So lost and yet so focused in his meditations
Every morning he chants his prayers and felicitations
Teaching me the spiritual way of life all these years
And telling me stories to put me to bed, all these nights
Having turned ninety two, being at the edge of his lifetime
He still is the wisest and strongest old man you’ll ever meet
Standing at the porch with rapt attention , I watch him silently
Smiling to myself, a lone tear escapes my eye
How transient is human life, I wonder
Years and lifetimes slip away like fraction of seconds
And the impneding death is what remains as an old age comapnion.
“Come here, my child” he exclaims
I see him smiling at me and gesturing me to come to him
I wipe my moist eyes and try to don a cheerful smile
He hops from his chair and engulfs me in the tightest and warmest hug
We sit there together right in the backyard
Laughing, giggling, chattering and sharing old anecdotes
The warmth and the peace, of the moment beyond any description
Singing to the rhythm of life, he still teaches me to live like there is no tomorrow.

NIRVANA

In Mark Twain’s words, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Called the spiritual capital of India, this magnificent city of learning radiates endless energy. ⠀

A city as old as time. A city that has seen the world turn, tides change and generations of humans born and die. Varanasi or Kashi, which has been standing the tests of time for over 5,000 years is said to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world
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Chronicle

Varanasi is a city in Northern India also known as Benares or Kashi. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is not only the spiritual capital of India, but also the holiest of seven sacred cities in Hinduism, and it played a significant role in the development of Buddhism.

Buddha is said to have founded Buddhism in Varanasi around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon at Sarnath, a nearby city located about 10km away. The city continued to grow in its religious significance and was under Muslim rule for three centuries from 1194, until a tolerant emperor restored some religious respite to Varanasi, which still remains a center of activity for Hindus.

For centuries, education, philosophy, culture, arts and religion have flourished here, and when you visit the religious center of Varanasi, you’ll see that this is what fuels the city and keeps it vibrant.

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Walking down the streets

Much of the daily life in Varanasi takes place on its 87+ ghats—stone steps that descent steeply towards the river and stretch northward into a crescent. Most of these ghats were built after 1700 AD and are associated with legends or mythologies, while others are privately owned.

As you take one of the popular boat rides along the shore, you’ll get a better view of all the ghats from the water. Assi Ghat is where the Ganges meets river Assi, and although it is not as popular for tourists and visitors, it is an important ghat for Hindus, as pilgrims bathe here before worshiping Lord Shiva.

 

Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the oldest and important ghats and is where the famous Ganga Aarti ceremony takes place every evening. A great place for people watching, this ghat is constantly lined with beggars, sellers, pilgrims, and everything in between.

Manikarnika Ghat is the popular cremation ghat in Varanasi. Best seen at a respectful distance from a boat on the water, you’ll come face to face with death at this ghat, which will leave you with a strange feeling — one that almost makes you appreciate the traditions and celebrations of Hinduism even more.

Scindia Ghat located nearby the Manikarnika Ghat, Schidia is known for its particular site of interest—the partially submerged Shiva temple at the edge of the water that sunk during the construction of the ghat in 1830. Although it’s next to impossible to make it to explore every ghat in Varanasi, the ones above are some that have specific significance and are popular among visitors.

 

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LEGACY

Varanasi’s legends go back some 10,000 years, to the oldest epics of Hindu literature, including the Puranas, the Vedas and the Mahabharata. They say Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva, who walked here with his wife Parvati at the beginning of time. It could also be the battlefield where the god Krishna set fire to a duplicate but imposter Krishna, or the place where the Lord Rama came to do penance after slaying the demon Ravana.

In a country where most cities have at least two names, Varanasi has over a hundred. The locals still call it Banaras, perhaps after the mythological king Benar. The Jataka Tales, a collection of ancient Buddhist folk stories, refer to the city as Jitwari, the place were business is good, or as Pushwavati, the flower garden city, or as Molini, the lotus garden city.

Under the name Kasi, the city was one of 16 great Indian kingdoms mentioned by ancient Buddhist texts from the first millennium B.C., when the invention of highways and coins first led to a flourishing of commerce. Iron arrowheads and fortified cities discovered by archaeologists suggest violent encounters between the kingdoms, but it was also an age of nonviolence. Gautama, later known as the Buddha, delivered his first sermon during this era. And Mahavir, the founder of the ascetic and nonviolent Jain religion, was born during this period.

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I was 16 when I last went there. City life is not so permitting to allow a leave in peaceful, places like Varanasi, neither can you take your life there. Varanasi is the place where you go for death, and not life.

“This is the best city to die in,” Prakash, son of the Pandit, says, smiling, as he looks at the sun rising over the ghats. The bathers are out in full force. Some lather up, while others dance and sing in the water. In the narrow alleys behind them, the city of Varanasi is just waking up.

 

 

ME TOO!

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Tucked in bed, lost in her books
The naive girl of thirteen totally oblivious.
In the confinement of her room,
Inside the security of what is supposed to be her home.
Suddenly the door is thrown ajar,
Her uncle stood smiling from afar.
Unaware of the evil she welcomed him with greet.
He paced forward hands full of chocolates and fete.
She merrily grabbed the candy,
And he slyly grabbed the opportunity!
Relishing the candy she hopped with cheer.
Meanwhile he slid his hand and stroked her thigh.
The little girl cried a sigh!
He coaxed her “It’s alright. Don’t you hush!”
She didn’t realize the menace in rush.
With eyes ogling at her creepily, his hands paced inside her skirt.
She stood there silently, didn’t let a single cry blurt.
The same men that were supposed to protect,
Donning the mask of her confidant.
But appearances are deceptive,
And not all uncles and family members protective.
A monstrous beast behind the mawkish mask.
She stood there frozen, getting groped.
Terrified to her soul,
She felt tainted, atleast that’s what the world made her believe.
So she kept silently suffering the ordeal.
Years later she wrote “me too” on her profile.
All the pent up agony had to be vocalized.
Seven years later though, she still gathered courage,
Not just for herself but for her entire entourage.

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!

fairytale

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