Untitled: A Poem

All my childhood I was asked

whether I wanted to be

a doctor or an engineer,

and as a teenager I decided

that I would be neither–

that I would be different,

 

and I’m asked everyday

what I want to be when I grow up,

(turns out sane isn’t

the correct answer)

 

whether I have a plan,

(turns out no isn’t

the correct answer)

 

which college I want to study in,

(turns out the one that doesn’t 

turn me into a zombie

isn’t the correct answer)

 

because people want me to grow up

before I am ready to;

they say this world is no place

for a child, and it’s unfathomable

for one to not want a place

in this world.

 

And it makes me wonder,

if I ever became an adult,

who will I be?

 

Will I be the one who’s struggling

to cope with responsibility,

because I clung on to my childhood

as my friends left it behind;

the one who is stuck

conjuring castles in the clouds

while the rest of the world

conjures business opportunities

and profit margins out of

line graphs and pie charts

that she could never really understand?

 

Will I be the cool professional

who earns for a family

she has never known;

sheds blood, sweat and tears

climbing up a ladder that

leads nowhere, all the while

yearning to go back home,

where her heart leads her,

to children who have known

the love of a nanny better than

they’ve known a mother’s love—

but no, how can she give up

when she’s almost at the top, stray from

the only race she knows to win?

 

Will I be the adult who every child

is warned about; the one who made

a mistake and took the spiral down,

down into the dregs of humanity,

the very ones her parents

warned her about,

down into the dregs of humanity,

never again to be found?

 

Will I be the one who finds

true happiness in this world;

the one who can hear the tinkling

of ladybugs as they tiptoe

across a leaf, feel the smile

of the wind as it carries

a melody with it,

the one who finds soaring joy

in searing pain, tranquil calm

even in the noisiest abyss

and sights of unimaginable beauty

in this ugly, repulsive world?

 

Perhaps I’ll be the one who’s lost,

or the one who’s lost hope,

the one who has found a voice

or the one who never found her soul.

 

Perhaps one day I’ll know–

twenty, thirty or forty years from now;

and I can reach into the empty drawer
at the bottom of my cupboard,

unfold the disheveled piece of paper

on which I first wrote this poem;

 

scratch out the ‘Untitled’

that’s printed across the margin

in an impatient, soul-searching scrawl,

a question I didn’t know the answer to

as a child on the brink of adulthood

 

and put my sixteen year old

mind’s turmoil to rest with a word

that’ll take me a lifetime to find.

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Why I Prefer ‘Winging It’

As a student who is on the cusp of making important choices for my future as an adult, I am often told to sit down and make a plan. To decide which career path I wish to pursue, what colleges I’d like to apply to and how I plan to utilise my degree in the future. Though I’m hardly someone to refute the fact that high-level planning is essential in giving you a vision you can work towards, I like performing smaller tasks in bursts of spontaneity. For example, I have never in my life stuck to a study plan for more than a day. Whenever I try writing a novel, I never manage to make it past the third chapter outline before I start writing spontaneously, because the better ideas always come to me only once my novel starts taking shape.

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing why I like living life without a plan. Before I start, I’d just like to put it out there that spontaneity may not work for you, the same way planning doesn’t work for me. Ultimately, we’ve got to experiment and figure out what mode of working suits us best, because the way each of us likes to do things is different. This post is just my attempt at articulating my disinclination towards planning and why I prefer spontaneity.

I’m the type of person who thrives in a state of chaotic organisation. I simply can’t work at a clean desk and needs loud, energetic music to decipher my thoughts, not to clear them away. Adhering to a study plan is a Herculean task for me, and I find it impossible to tell you what I truly see myself doing in five years. I like getting out of my house even though the forecast says it’s going to rain, and wasting a whole day in the middle of exam season just because I can’t bear to look at my textbooks that day.

However, at the same time, I am someone who never turns in work late, has a problem not knowing where things are on my desk and can’t stand going out to eat if I don’t know where.

In short, I’m a paradox that’s really not accounted for on the spectrum. But I think I definitely lean towards the spontaneous side, and here’s why I prefer it that way:

3.1.gif Continue reading “Why I Prefer ‘Winging It’”

My Take On Gender Equality

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I was looking through some of my older writing recently, and I found this one-liner I wrote in honour of International Women’s Day on equality. Even though I think that this conveys my message in a comprehensive manner, I realised I had a lot to say on the topic of equality, especially from the feminist angle. So that’s what my post is going to be about today.

Nowadays, there are many negative connotations associated with the term ‘feminism’, but it is my firm belief that feminism, in its essence, is the strife for equality between the sexes.

But what does this term ‘equality actually mean? This is what the Oxford Dictionary has to say:

EQUALITY
ɪˈkwɒlɪti,iːˈkwɒlɪti/ (noun): the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.
It is my personal belief that this definition does not encompass the most important aspect of what equality entails– accessibility.
There is a general misconception that the path to equality is paved by equal treatment of all the groups involved (in this case, males and females). However, it must be noted that equality is only an end result, and in order to achieve it, we must take some measures which are preferential, non-arbitrarily. This is absolutely essential to ensure that all the groups involved reach an equal footing. In concurrence with the idea of equality being a set of scales, let me elaborate.
We know that a bale of cotton that weighs one kilogram looks much larger than a block of iron that is of the same weight. Even though the block of iron looks smaller than the bale of cotton, once weighed, we know that they are equal. It’s a case of five one pound weights and one weight of five pounds.
Let us throw the context of historical discrimination and the associated prejudices into the ring. There are several societies in the world where the very idea of a girl child being educated is viewed as scandalous. Girls are brought up thinking that their sole duty is to serve their husband faithfully and bear him children. Hell, there are hundreds of millions of people who believe that a woman must’ve ‘been asking for it’ if she gets raped.
In such a socio-cultural context, schools and jobs aren’t the only needs of the hour. Dignity, acceptance, empowerment– these are what should be the primary goals of gender equality.
After all, the schools will remain empty and jobs will stay unfilled if women lack the means the avail them.
What I mean to say here is that mere availability of equal opportunities is not what feminism needs– it needs equitable access. And in order for women to access these opportunities, society must first learn to treat them with respect and dignity they accord to males, treat their political, economic and lifestyle choices the same way they would treat a man’s and this is the only thing that will pave the path to empowerment.
This is the first step towards gender equality. A girl will only wish to obtain an education if she can see herself using it in the future. A woman will only wish to pursue a job if she sees herself being of some value to the workplace, and only if she her effort at making a livelihood recognised by her family. A woman will wish to voice an opinion only if she feels that she will be heard, and that what she says will be considered. I say ‘girl’ and ‘woman’ here, but this is true in case of any human being.
These are the small one-pound weights that will ultimately balance the scale. Just like any good economic distribution system, it is not only the availability of the good, or opportunities, in this case, but also universal accessibility that will truly make it successful.
And that is my take on gender equality.

A Mother’s Heartbreak

I know it isn’t Sunday yet, but I wanted to post a piece in honor of Earth Day. This is something I wrote some months ago, right after I posted this article on my blog. But I’ve made some changes to it in order to enhance the flow, added some thoughts I’d missed previously, and stuff like like that. Let me know what you think of this piece by leaving a comment below 🙂

Perhaps it isn’t lovers or friends who are meant to face the worst heartbreaks of all, but mothers.

She nurtures her child in her womb for nine months, showering him with all the love and warmth that she can muster from the very deepest chasms of her being, how the Earth envelopes a seed in her protective embrace, shielding it away from danger until it is ready to grow.

But that seed will remain latent, unborn unless there is water. And so the mother feeds her child the milk from her breasts and makes him two promises: when she feeds him from the left one, she swears that she will love him with all her heart. When she feeds him from the right one, she swears that she will do everything in her power to protect him until her very last breath.

And then the plant grows, flowers bloom. They are painted the hue of a time frozen in a sunset forever. The child grows too, and in his mother’s eyes, becomes the most beautiful thing that ever happened to her. More beautiful than even those flowers.

This is where the child and the plant part ways.

While the plant tightens its roots and showers the Earth back with all the love it received, the child commits two betrayals.

First, he betrays his own mother. Second, he betrays Mother Earth, on behalf of the plant (because it is written in a mother’s fate to face the biggest heartbreak of all).

He uproots himself from the home that his mother gave him, the nest that she built with all her smiles and tears. He uproots her from his heart to make space for all his lovers and friends.

But he is never gone from her heart, and he knows that. So every time she asks him whether he has eaten and every time she tells him to come home and see her one last time, he tries to uproot himself from her heart. And that’s when she cracks, and her heart breaks. Like the Earth when you pull a sapling out of it. Like the earth when it has given away all its water to the plants and has nothing to sustain itself.

As if this first betrayal isn’t enough, he betrays Mother Earth next. He digs her up until her very core, drains her off her essence and uses it to forge tools with which he cuts her children down. And then he drains all his wastes into her precious water and pollutes the sanctity of her beautiful promise. As she lays dying, he burns her body mercilessly and digs up her grave, as if he can’t wait for her final breath to leave her.

But oh, he thinks it is alright because she is like a second mother to him, and after all, it is written in the fate of all mothers to face the biggest heartbreaks.

But perhaps, she will not be so forgiving after all.

Pray, Mother Earth, avenge them.

Avenge the mothers dying of broken hearts and drained out souls.

Avenge humanity.

Because Roots Have Songs: A Poem

Well, I’m back this week, and for the very first time on this blog, with a poem! As those of you who are visiting from my Instagram profile may know, I used to post longform poetry on there. However, once I realised that Instagram isn’t really the best platform for poetry, longform in particular, I decided to turn this into a sort-of poetry blog where I can post that stuff! However, I still post my shorter poetry on a more frequent basis there, so you can go check that out too.

Okay, I’m done with the self-promotion XD

I encountered a lovely, thought-provoking poetry challenge on Instagram recently, in which one of the prompts was ‘roots have songs’. So here is a poem-in-a-poem-in-a-poem kinda piece that I wrote about the various things that I think define me as a person (which here, are my ‘roots’) based on Antonio Vivaldi’s violin masterpiece Four Seasons.

Basically, my process consisted of listening to each part of the song separately, and write down what sort of feelings it elicited in me, and turn that into one poem about something that defined me. Granted, some of the pieces ended up taking a very different turn, but his piece was the ‘root’ for each and every one of them.

Before I start, I’d just like to thank the hosts of the challenge, @lipstickandmiracles and @annesparrow for the inspiration 🙂

You can listen to the song here, maybe even while reading the poem to get the whole experience 😛

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Four Seasons: Vivaldi

because roots have songs.

s p r i n g
your childhood.

there’s something that comes with reminiscing

the days you were a child— a kind of stinging sorrow

that’s a result of blissful buoyancy.

— the hours you spent with your friends

in the rain, dancing like the leads in your favourite movie,

jumping in the puddles, hair plastered to your face,

face towards the sky as you held your mouth open,

waiting for the raindrops to fill it;

but those raindrops had a will of their own

and they always fell into your eyes;

but now, you’d never do that because who’ll

pay for the ruined shoes that you spent half your salary on?

— the day you wrote your first sad song,

riddled with adjectives and alliterations

and all the melancholy metaphors

your favourite poet used; when you sang it

to your best friend, it made her cry,

and you, it made you beam with pride

but now when you try to sing that song

your voice cracks and your words slur

because you’re too used to keeping

your thoughts to yourself,

your words to yourself.

— the week when your parents were away,

so you ate twenty candies a day, unaware that

twenty years later, you’d end up being diabetic.

s u m m e r
— your home.

every time you feel like your home isn’t

your home anymore— that’s when you need one

the most.

— the time you were excited to go on a fifteen day vacation abroad,

but by the eighth night, you were tired of the beaches

and the fancy restaurants, and all you wanted was

to go back to your lifeless town in the middle of nowhere,

full of drab people you never understood,

sleep on a cot that creaked, a bed that was unmade

and eat boiled cabbage that your mother somehow managed to burn.

— your first night in your college dorm, when you said

to hell with independence and being an adult;

all you wanted was to go back home

and hear your mother scream at you all day

(do the laundry, stop playing your music so loud,

water the garden, don’t stay holed up in your room all day).

— the walls of your room which were once the canvas

for the masterpieces you drew as a four year old—

stories of princesses in pink and dragons dousing

the men who came to save her in its deadly fire,

pirates who sailed the seven seas to find an

ancient treasure which would bring them

peace and glory and gold;

the walls of the room which you then got repainted

as a teenager, to remove any trace of your childish naivety,

because you denounced the stories

of princesses who couldn’t save themselves,

and wealthy chests that they claimed would be an answer

to all of life’s problems, and in their place

you put up posters of your favourite bands—

bands that sang cynical songs about broken hearts

and broken minds

(all in all you’re just another brick in the wall);

and now when you visit your parents for

a week in six months, you stare at the bare walls

of your room, traces of the posters you tore out

the day before you moved out of home, still visible,

(just another brick in the wall)

and laugh ruefully about the phases and fancies

you had as a teenager.

f a l l
your f
a
l
l
from grace.

death and decay comes before rebirth

the same way faith comes before betrayal;

before every rise comes the most terrible fall

(and the falls that hurt the most are the ones

in which you betray yourself to the world).

— when you hated looking at yourself in the mirror

for those two years, because your parents had

told you all your life that you were the most beautiful child,

but you couldn’t fathom how chubby cheeks ridden with pimples

and eyes the precise shade of grey as a tombstone

could ever be beautiful.

— when all your life you were taught to proclaim what you feel,

embrace what you believe—

and then you entered the real world where you learned

that it’s better to keep quiet and move with the herd sometimes,

pull your fur coat tighter ‘round your waist, put your head down,

let your hair down on your face and live the rest of your life

as a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

— when you learn that there are some things

about us humans that are simply broken beyond repair

and that nothing can save us from ourselves—

for what is even the noblest of revolutions

but a product of the human philosophy?

w i n t e r
a part of you that you never knew.

they say that you, you are made up of the universe.

it is perhaps merely a statement to stroke your ego,

but if it’s true, there’ll always be a part of you

that you’ll never know.

— the time you earned your first ‘salary’ as a seven year old,

selling artwork in your neighbourhood to earn, just enough

to buy yourself three candy bars and a bottle of juice, but

when you saw a homeless man sitting

outside the grocery store, you pushed the coins into his palm

without a second thought and walked away

before he could take a look at your face

(or the tears that threatened to slip out of your eyes).

— the time that you told your mother you hated her

and shut yourself in your room all night,

even later, when you heard her cry for two hours straight—

because she refused to pay for a ticket to your favourite band’s concert.

— and every single time you kept your mouth shut

when you should’ve used it to scream out loud,

but oh what if it’s really nothing and you end up crying wolf—

besides, if it’s really as bad as you think it is,

someone else who sees it’ll say something

(is everyone in this world really blind, deaf, dumb

and indifferent?);

and every single time you said something when

you knew you should’ve kept your mouth shut—

but oh what if you end up seeming blind, deaf, dumb

and indifferent—

because every single person in the world

can’t be wrong, can they, (and you’ve been taught all your life

to stand up for what’s right).

. . .

. . .

. . .

Well, that was my paltry attempt at being poetic, haha. That aside, a lot of things I mentioned here stem from personal experience. If you feel like you had some of these experiences as well, leave a comment telling me which ones! Also, do tell me which of the four parts was your favourite.

Thanks for your time and patience this week, lovely reader! Already can’t wait for the next Sunday 😛

Love,

Deranged Delusions

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: A Book Review

“Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye

Through the bazars, caravans of Egypt pass

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs

And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

This verse by a 17th century Iranian poet fittingly summarises the premise of Hosseini’s novel, which I had the privilege of reading last year. It narrates a story that is eye-openingly dark, heartbreaking and shattering, yet is suffused with beacons of humanity, sacrifice and endurance.

The novel, set primarily in Kabul, traverses over a time period of forty five years, part of which includes the Soviet invasion of Kabul and the subsequent rise of the Taliban. Hosseini never glosses over the brutality or the violence that the women face, but instead deals with it with straightforward, unflinching honesty.

The story begins with Mariam, a ‘harami’, or an illegitimate child who lives with her bitter and despondent mother on the outskirts of Herat, a city in Afghanistan. Her charming father Jalil, a rich man who owns the cinema in the city, visits her every Thursday. These visits are the highlight of Mariam’s every week. One Thursday, when Jalil fails to visit her and take her to watch a movie, like he had promised, she goes to the city in search of his house, where Jalil refuses to meet her. When she returns home the next day, she finds that her mother has committing suicide out of the fear that her daughter abandoned her.

ATSS

Now helpless, she turns to Jalil, who unfeelingly marries her off to a man thirty years older than her, Rasheed, who lives in Kabul. At first, the man treats her well. However, as time passes by and Mariam is found to be unable to provide Rasheed with a child, having miscarried several times, things change for the worse.

As in most societies that regard women as nothing but baby-making machines, she turns into a burden for Rasheed, who heavily abuses her. The plight of this woman is heartbreaking; she is trapped in a marriage with a man whose past has turned him into nothing short of a monster.

It is then that Laila, a vivacious young girl, enters the storyline. In stark contrast to Mariam, she lives in a fairly well-to-do household and has a father who believes in educating her. It is at this point that we receive information about the Soviet invasion, with Laila’s brothers in the Mujahideen. There is also a subplot where Laila is involved with a local boy, Tariq.

When the war is at its peak, Kabul is bombed and every single member of Laila’s family is killed, except herself. And by an inexplicable twist of fate, Laila finds herself marrying Rasheed, upon learning that Tariq is dead, for Rasheed is eager to get himself a wife who may bear him a child.

As the plot progresses, the initial dislike that Mariam and Laila have for each other forges into a bond of love and respect. It is two women against the patriarchy, not in a world-changing sense, but in the sense of the small things that we tend to think of as privileges. They are trodden upon, pushed to the ground— as those men believe women should be.

However, there is a power that shines through this heartbreaking story— a story reflective of the lives of million of Afghani women. There is something so raw and intense in the human essence that shines through every single page of this novel that makes this such an extraordinary read.

Hosseini’s engaging style, eloquent in its simplicity, coupled with the harrowing truths that the narrative exposes are truly what make A Thousand Splendid Suns an absolute masterpiece.

* * *

It’s been a long time since I published a post here, as per usual :/

However, this will be changing soon because I’m going to be posting once a week in every Sunday! I’m going to be posting not only articles but also book reviews and long form poetry here.

If you enjoyed this review, leave a ‘like’ by clicking the star under my post. Drop a comment below if you’ve read this book sharing your thoughts on it, and if you’ve any books you’d like me to review in the future.

Why We Need To Discuss Climate Change More And How To Do It

Climate change–the issue that affects us on the largest scale, but is the one that is least discussed. I say it affects us on the largest scale for its repercussions extend to more than one single group of humans, to even the fellow living beings who co-inhabit this planet with us.

However, how often do we see this issue discussed, whether it be on social media or real life? Climate change and deforestation remain topics we think about only when we have to write one of those school essays that we detest. A half-hearted shrug before we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the air at alarming rates or raze an entire forest down in the name of ‘development’.

Unlike women’s rights, body shaming and mental illnesses, climate change isn’t getting the attention it deserves. While we see thousands of posts about them on the internet, catchy hashtags invented for the purpose of propagating awareness and all the poets and artists talking about it in their pieces, climate change doesn’t get any of that attention.

With a gift like the internet in our hands, our generation has still failed to curb environmental pollution– it has instead contributed in leaps and bounds to increasing it.

Some would blame the youth for it– but that is not right. How can you blame the youth when you have failed to sensitive them to the issue and when you have failed to curb their consumerist tendencies for the very products that are causing it? How can you blame them when you have been teaching them the current definition of ‘development’, that involves a dependency on what happens ‘on the larger scale’?

Some others would blame the leaders and their refusal to sign bills– but that isn’t right either. This is one of the very few problems that can be solved by individuals themselves, without a dependency on the government, and it is high time we realise that.

Now that we have discussed the issue of awareness (or lack thereof) in detail, you must be wondering why an issue of such gravity isn’t getting it. It is rather ironic on the internet, for it is full of rebels without causes, people who can start a war over something as trivial as clothing and celebrity gossip.

There is a problem staring at these internet warriors right in their faces but they choose to ignore it. Because that is what they have been taught to do.

But why is that?

We humans have been taught to conveniently ignore the things that bother us, whether it be our conscience or something like climate change. 

But why would climate change  bother us?

In a world where a nation is defined by how ‘developed’ it is– where ‘developed’ means large scale industrial production and new-fangled technology–this ‘development’ is everything to us. Being a consumer is being at a position of power and owning a car is a status symbol.

However, climate change  poses a problem to this definition of ‘development’. It demands that we stop this incessant and directionless trajectory we are headed on. And this is a bitter pill for this society to swallow.

One may question further, in an age where people are breaking barriers and evolving constantly, wouldn’t it still be possible that someone would question it?

Before we answer that, let us examine the factors that have led certain causes such as feminism to become global phenomena and help millions of humans lead better lives now.

In our society, social media has a bigger role to play than ever. Catchy hashtags, small pages with tremendous online presence, fierce debates and discussions–they have revolutionised the direction revolutions take. With artists and poets taking the lead, several issues have been discussed and are on the track to resolution. People with mental illnesses, previously stigmatised, have now found acceptance and their place in the society. Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have found their voice.

One of the biggest factors  would certainly be romanticisation of these issues. Poets like Rupi Kaur have taken it upon themselves to spread the feminist message, and many protagonists of books these days are found to be people who are victims of racial discrimination, mental illness or abuse of some sort. Furthermore, there is no shortage of abstract paintings and photography that contain a hidden social message. This has elicited a visceral and emphatic response from its audience and has worked to create a realisation about the issue at hand. As much as we may abhor romanticisation, it has had a greater impact than government campaigns ever will.

Sadly, global warming hasn’t received this liberty, and we choose to romanticise the apocalypse instead.

However, I would like to provoke a visceral reaction from you all by presenting some facts about climate change that will help you grasp the urgency that is essential to putting an end to it:

  1. If everyone in the world lived the way people do in the U.S., it would take five Earths to provide enough resources for everyone.
  2. The Arctic region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040.
  3. The UNHCR has warned that climate change could cause the displacement of 250,000 people across the world by 2050.
  4. Dangerous sea-level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world’s coastlines by the end of the century.
  5. 147 million to 216 million people worldwide can expect to see their homes submerged or put at risk for regular flooding by 2100.
  6. If Greenland melts completely, which could happen in 140 years, according to “Six Degrees,” by science writer Mark Lynas, then “Miami would disappear entirely, as would most of Manhattan.” “Central London would be flooded. Bangkok, Bombay and Shanghai would also lose most of their area,” he writes in that book. “In all, half of humanity would have to move to higher ground.”
  7. Global warming kills over 300,000 people every year, according to a UN report.
  8. Over 1,000,000 species are on the brink of extinction due to global warming.

Taking these facts into consideration, it can be quite easily noted that we humans are doing a stellar job of killing ourselves bit by bit. As easy as it might be to leave the future generations on in a dangerous and uninhabitable planet the way the previous generations have, we have more than the human race to answer. There are millions of other species that also call the Earth their home, and even though we are late, we aren’t too late.

This is one of the problems where small steps can lead to big results. And all we have to do, is bring the discussion out of classrooms and science labs and into our social and cultural interactions.