Sunday, 15 January 2017

What the stars foretell.


 I awoke with a jolt this morning, at 8:15 am (that damn cough syrup, I tell you!) and realised I hadn't gotten back to my usual blogging schedule! What had I been doing all these days? As I brushed my teeth, and drew up my to-do list for the day, I decided I would, apart from chilling, write a blogpost today. The morning passed by beautifully and by noon I remembered my to-do list. Switching off the television, I brought out my laptop, lighted a few incense sticks (aww, not really! Just kidding πŸ˜‰), and prayed to the Almighty for some interesting prompts to  fire my imagination. Having done all of that, I settled into my favourite chair, my fingers ready to fly across the keyboard and type up a magnificent post in a matter of minutes.

 However, as always,  no sooner had I fired up my laptop than the ideas that had begun swimming in my mind, vanished, just like that! I sat for almost 20 minutes twiddling my thumbs, racking my brain and thinking of something to write about. Was I facing the dreaded writer's block? And, if this continues, how is it going to affect my resolutions? A dozen questions crowded my mind and sent me into panic mode. Grumbling about the inability to write a decent post and stick to my schedule, I cursed myself and reached for  the newspaper to see if I could find something there. You never know when inspiration would strike and what would prompt you to write, do you?

 And, as I had predicted, or rather, hoped for, I found the prompt hidden in the papers, in the astrology column, of all the places! I rubbed my hands in glee as I scanned the column to see what my stars had in store for me this week. Now, I am really not a believer of astrology; it's just out of sheer curiosity, when the morale and the mood are running low, that I turn to the stars for help. At times, they do come up with absolute humbug; but, at times, they bring me gifts galore!

 On some days, they tell me Cupid's going to pay me a visit, or, that I should be alert because love is in the air, and I might run into the object of my affection. I sniff the air -  like Chikoo does when I cook his favourite chicken soup -  to get a whiff of that drug which would raise my heart beat; I keep my eyes peeled for my beloved everywhere I go.  Alas, it's only the scent of either mosquito repellent or a pain balm that knocks me down!
And on other days, the stars congratulate me for a possible windfall! I don't need to tell you that this does not materialise , either.

 It's primarily because of these lies the stars told that I lost faith in them.  Why make all those glorious promises when you know not what's going to happen? Sitting up there in the heavens, how can those tiny twinkling dots predict our future?  I deduced that it was just a pastime for some people looking for entertainment, for which they used the stars to instil into us dimwits some sense of hope during the lousy times we went through.

 Just scan through these columns and you will find a pattern there. On some days, the stars have only happy news for one and all. Like, this week, I - the Gemini - will be enjoying good times, personally and professionally. Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, Leo... all have wonderful times ahead! Creativity will be at its best; people will be able to focus on their goals and watch their dreams come true; some will develop the Midas touch, turning to gold all that they, well, touch! In short, life looks beautiful for every soul this week!

And, on other days, the stars are the harbingers of bad news, for one and all. Health, finances, relationships, jobs...they predict  turmoil in every aspect of life for every zodiac sign under the starlit sky! And, to think of it, there are countless people who believe in the stars, in all that they foretell! The kind of heartache they subject themselves to; wouldn't it be better instead to just gaze at the stars and delight in their sparkle?

Anyway, believe in them or not, the stars helped me complete my post and get my writing back on schedule. So, thank you, little twinklers, for your guidance. Keep shining, as always, and showing us the way when we stumble in the dark and risk losing our way! Literally, not figuratively, of course!

Do you believe in the stars for what they predict? Or, do you prefer relaxing in their shimmer?



Thursday, 12 January 2017

Far away from the maddening crowd.

Image courtesy:

 It's been almost a fortnight since life has been a tad bit peaceful. It may sound as if I rue the fact that life has been peaceful because of the "tad bit" part, but I am just being superstitious. You see, I fear, that if I enthusiastically proclaimed  that life has been blissful, and oh, so joyous, I might jinx things for myself! Ergo, the underplay of emotions. The peace I refer to has been courtesy of a new habit I developed.

I snapped ties, well, almost, with  Facebook. Got myself de-addicted, sort of. For all that Fb did for me: helping connect with long lost childhood friends and distant relatives; bringing the world into my home for me to gape at and wonder in amazement at its awesomeness, and also get acquainted with some really talented people, I am ever so grateful to it. However, it took away with it my peace of mind; succeeded in making me feel (on hindsight) like a complete farce and getting me to believe that what I saw was what the world (apparently) was!

Yes, there sure is a measure of truth in most of the things we learn via the social media, but it does take away our peace of mind and most importantly, our time. Just to while away a few free moments, we check out our News Feed, and before we know it, we are hooked onto it! The 2 minutes we had at our disposal soon turn into 20 precious minutes wasted reading about stuff we will hardly remember after an hour, or so. Time sure flies at a great speed, leaving us feeling ashamed of having wasted it! Be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using these social media giants with discretion is what one needs to learn. These sure have the potency to turn us into freaks in no time, at all!

I quit visiting Fb, first for a day, then two and then on a daily basis. At times, I did go have a quick dekko at the stuff crowding my news feed, but then as quickly I retreated, fearing a slackening of my resolve. I spent the time (that I used to waste on Fb) in my books, in my kitchen and with myself, much more productively. And, suffice to say, life is so much more peaceful. I know, not everyone would agree with me about the fact that Fb can be a farce most of the times, except when people  share their innermost thoughts/feelings, truthfully. Fb can be the best pal one can have in one's  lonely moments. I can vouch for that. But, it can also become an addiction, and eat up all the time we could use for a better purpose.

It's my way of looking at the social networking giant that Fb is. But, enough of that, now. The best thing that happened to me is that now I am in a much better space, and in touch with myself.  My books - which were my best friends once upon a time - have regained their place of honour in my life. The bookshop is - like earlier times - my favourite hang-out, where I take myself on frequent dates, and return with an impressive collection under my arm on each visit.  And, life seems much more brighter. And, that is what matters most, isn't it? Wish I had realised this earlier, but, as they say, better late than never!

I do visit Fb when I have a blogpost to share - words that belong to me, instead of borrowed words penned by someone much more talented,  and who used their time creatively! Fb also gets a visit from me when I have some artwork to share with other artists, and amaze myself with art created by them and learn something in return. Visits that prove to be fruitful and enlightening.
So, thank you, my dear Mr. Facebook! You aren't such a waste of time!

A note to my dear friends:

Now you know the reason why you haven't seen me out there all this time? I still love you all, though. That's one thing that will never change, for sure! πŸ’–



Friday, 6 January 2017

The fault in our stars. Wordy Wednesday.

 It's always our fault...

 ...from the time we arrive into this world, to the time we take our first steps, testing the waters, tasting the air of freedom.

...from the moment our eyes dare to dream a thousand colourful dreams to the time we aspire to follow those dreams, and watch with ecstasy those dreams come to fruition.

It IS our fault...

...that moment when we spot the attire we have fancied for so long, we yearn to feel the fabric on our bodies, till the moment we dare to don it and feel our spirits soar, our heartbeat race with unbridled joy!

...the split second we decide to celebrate a day, any day, out in the open streets, beneath the starlit sky, with the wind in our hair and the radiance in our eyes.

It is so our fault.

Aren't we aware, that any way we  breathe, laugh, live, we will have fingers pointed at us, hands grabbing us, claws groping us?  Haven't we been taught that their actions are a result of our doings?  Why don't we learn that it's our imprudence that gives us the grief that seeps through our psyches leaving a permanent scar for people to gawk at?

Anyway...enough said.

 It's time we arrive at the conclusion that this is what awaits us: dark figures lurking in the shadows to pounce upon us, beasts waiting to maul us leaving our bodies, our souls, in shreds, and life going by...the world going by, with not so much as a murmur, leave alone a hand extended in support.
It's time we accept this sad truth, change ourselves, mend our ways, bow our head and withdraw into the dark ages. Confine ourselves behind the walls that will protect us better than the men who rule, and relive the life we left behind ages ago.


The Bengaluru horror incident brought home the dismal truth that women aren't safe in any city, under any rule. The sad incident and the blame game that followed only reiterates the point that whatever we do, however we live, however we dress, we will be hounded, harassed, assaulted mercilessly. The powers that be have been of little help and going by the way the world is turning out, I really don't know if we have hope for a better, safer morrow.
And, thus, the cynical post.

The above post has been written for Wordy Wednesday, at Blog-A-Rhythm (BAR).

This week's prompt: Word Prompt: Achieve   Arrive    Anyway    Always


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

I resolve to keep going!

  The new year has begun. And, so has our struggle to stick to the resolutions we made at the end of last year. We awake each day with renewed vigour; a zest to see ourselves taking baby steps in the directions we set for ourselves. We have vowed, after all, to bring about a change in ourselves, our perspectives, our attitudes. Diligently we put one foot after the other as we embark upon our endeavour to fulfil a hundred promises we made to ourselves. And, thou shalt not rest until thou hast fulfilled thine word of honour.

 However, regretfully so, we realise that as time passes, our resolve slackens. The resolutions we made have begun moving down our priority list even before the first month of the new year is a few days old. Ever so stealthily, our vows have been nudged aside as life, real life, takes precedence over superficial things, like resolutions. Who, in the history of mankind, has ever stuck to the vows he made on an impulse on a new year's eve,  when  fireworks burst into a myriad colours and blinded us to the realities of life?   The wild frenzy that engulfed us on New Year's Eve had us making promises galore; how we were swept away by the energy surrounding us, we were oblivious to the words we spouted!

 Still, a promise is a promise, so think some of us as we mask our guilt with nervous laughter. Our conscience seldom lets us rest in peace! So, we reach for those vows that now lie somewhere in the  waste basket;  dusting  away the thin film of carelessness that has settled on them, we place them up on the mantelpiece, where we can view them clearly, night and day. We reassure ourselves that we have it in us to do it; shutting up the nagging voice of discouragement that threatens to break our resolve, we move ahead in the direction of our goals.

 A very noble deed, indeed, since it was for us that we had promised to change. For the person with whom we shall be spending the rest of our lives - ourselves. But, do we realise the amount of hard work and courage that is really needed to fulfil certain vows we make to ourselves? The weight that needs to be brought under control, the career change that needs to be worked on, the ex who needs to be gotten over for good, the finances that need to be reworked so they stand us in good stead - it all requires courage and commitment and efforts.  Loads of efforts.

 Our psyches get attuned to our thinking and our behaviour over a period of time. ergo, when one fine day we work up the guts to change ourselves, we find it difficult  to follow the new commands. We were so well ensconced in our earlier habits that developing new habits seems like mission impossible. That earlier life felt as cozy as the worn blanket that keeps us warm during cold, wintry nights; why do we need to let go of that blanket?  Why not snuggle up in that blanket of warm memories a little longer? Old habits die hard, don't they?

 But, die, they must, else how will we work towards that better future we foresee? It is a necessity, setting out on this new adventure, for that's how we will see the world, learn about ourselves, our strength and our weaknesses that need to be worked upon.

 So, pull up your socks, roll up your sleeves and get ready to get dirty - for that's how you strike gold; that's how you achieve success in fulfilling your dreams. Nothing ever comes easy, therefore, toil we must. Nothing lasts forever, therefore let go, we must. It will be difficult, that I promise. But, it will all be  worth it. The new YOU who will emerge at the end of it, will be the YOU you will be proud of! And, this, too, I promise!

I began working on some changes I wish to see in myself way before the new year began. I didn't consider waiting for a certain day to turn over a new leaf. But, it hasn't been easy. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not to look back wistfully at the beautiful days gone by, instead I need to look ahead at the really magnificent days that await me. So, I have to keep going, keep fighting.

Have you resolved to bring about changes in your life? How are you finding the journey? What do you do to keep going ahead? Do share with me...I would love to hear about it. 



Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Pakistani Bride - Book Review.

    I had been on quite a long reading hiatus, which, fortunately, ended last week. I bought not one, but three books of varied genres to begin afresh. I wrote about Love stories, an anthology edited by Ruskin Bond, and,  I let you go', by Clare Mackintosh. In today's post, I review the third book, 'The Pakistani Bride', by the internationally acclaimed  author, Bapsi Sidhwa.

   Her books have been translated and published in several languages and she has received many an honour for her literary works. As humbled as I feel reviewing her book, I hope I am able to do justice to her work. So, help me God.

  The Pakistani Bride  is the story of Zaitoon, a little girl orphaned during the exodus that was the Partition of India and Pakistan. The bloodbath that led to a complete annihilation of the fabric of our country left countless families shattered and destructed.

 The following two lines  paint an accurate picture of  the aftermath of the Partition, of people's struggle to leave all their belongings behind to cross over to the other side - the side that now belonged to them:

   The train glides through the moon-hazed night, with a solid mass of humanity clinging to it like flies to dung.  From time to time a figure loses its hold, or is forced off and drifts like discarded rubbish.  A cry, then silence.  

  So, it was during their flight from this side of the border that five year old Zaitoon loses her parents at the hands of the butchers that men had turned into. She is adopted by Qasim, a tribal belonging to the hills of Kohistan, who is also fleeing to the other side of the border.  Qasim  finds his way to Lahore where he, with the assistance of his new-found friend, pehelwaan Nikka, sets up a house for himself and his 'daughter'.

 The story traverses through the formative years of Zaitoon, who is looked after like a daughter by Nikka's childless wife, Miriam.  It also follows Nikka's escapades with the law, and his and Qasim's rise from their humble beginnings.

 The story takes a break when Zaitoon reaches the "marriageable age" of sixteen; when Qasim, whose heart still beats for his Kohistan, for the hills that were his home, decides to give his daughter's hand in marriage to a tribesman. A decision that inspires in him the hope of seeing his adopted daughter become a part of his history, his land. A decision that finds disapproval from his friend Nikka and his wife, Miriam.

  Here, the author introduces new characters in the form of the suave Pakistani army man, Farukh, his American wife, Carol and Major Mushtaq. I did get puzzled as to how these characters would contribute to the story of Zaitoon, but the author has introduced every character with such care; etched every character in such a way, each one plays an important part in the main story.

  Zaitoon, with dreams galore about the hills and her impending marriage, travels with her father all the way to his land. Brought up in a society that secludes the women, Zaitoon finds the prospect of marriage, and living with a man stirring feelings within her. Feelings she had only  fantasised about in the privacy of her mind, her heart.

 Alas, little does she or Qasim foresee their dreams coming crashing  down with the beginning of Zaitoon's  new  life with Sakhi, her tribal husband.  The story takes you through the nightmare that becomes Zaitoon's life; a nightmare you wish reached an end soon.

 The story is riveting  till the very end. It stays with you long after you have turned over the last page of the book. In that, it leaves one perturbed at the position women have been allocated in our society.  I finished reading it in two days; the suspense left me disconcerted. What lay in store for Zaitoon? was the question that gnawed at me each time I put the book away.

 The life of women in certain countries is pathetic, is what we like to believe.  But, the bitter fact is that, the life of women in every country is really the same. Be it India, Pakistan, the Middle East, The US of A, or the European nations. Crimes against women occur because "we ask for it", is the popular belief worldwide.  The exploitation, the  enslavement, the harassment, the injustice, is all because it's a man's world. However much the feminists might scream for justice and equality from the roof tops, life for women will be the same as it has been for a countless years now - abject and pitiable.

 The book, 'I let you go', had its female protagonist - an American woman and an artist - suffering at the hands of her abusive and jealous husband, the kind of man who is found in Bapsi Sidhwa's story, too. Zaitoon's husband, a man of the hills, rather, a savage, makes life hell for his young bride. What follows is...what you ought to read. No spoilers in my reviews!

 Bapsi Sidhwa is an outstanding writer, who has brought alive every character in her story. Her characters have layers to their personalities; layers that get peeled off one by one during the course of the story. The incidents during the Partition, the turmoil and the ensuing tragedy that befell the citizens of both the countries has been depicted so beautifully, you feel like you belong to that era, that you are witnessing every incident as it takes place! The pain of the women, be it Zaitoon, Miriam, Carol or the countless women suffering the atrocities at the hands of their men is palpable and your heart goes out to them, making you wish you could change their destinies.

  I would urge you all to read this book. Read it so you feel the plight of women across continents; women, who fall prey to the tyranny of their men, regardless of the society/community they belong to.  Men are the same all over the world! This statement may reek of misandry, but, isn't it a fact?  Barring a few, the majority are aware of, and wield, the power they have over their women. This book is bound to leave a lasting impression on your mind, and an ache in your heart that refuses to subside with time.

Have you read a book detailing the lives of oppressed women like Zaitoon? Do you think we women have better destinies in store for us; do you think the situation will ever change? Do share with me.




Monday, 19 December 2016

Soul sisters.

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned how we women need to gather our army of women we can trust our life with. Women, whose shoulder we can lean on when life seems too heavy a burden; who will read our mind like no one ever will, and who will use just the right words  to soothe our frayed nerves. Surprisingly,  I have been meeting, and bonding, with such women like  never before! I do believe that the universe listens to us, to our fervent prayers, but this was not something I had expected!

A month ago, I happened to find  the whereabouts of a long lost cousin I had last met two decades ago. We lost touch with each other as life took precedence over everything else. I sent her a Facebook friends request (Fb proves to be the  miracle worker who comes to our rescue when we venture out in search of our long lost near and dear ones!), and the very next day she called, all the way from Vishakhapatnam! You can imagine the happy time we had sharing our stories of the past twenty years; talking nineteen to the dozen just like we did...all those years ago!

We discovered that we both were dog-mommies, in fact, we discovered a whole lot of similarities about each other - our thinking, our principles. We complement each other in a fabulous way - I am the submissive one, and she, the obstinate one - never bows down before any one - a trait I have always wished I was born with. We have been talking about everything under the sun and it feels liberating, indeed! In her, I have found my soul sister. I am hoping some of her obstinacy rubs off on me and I smarten up a bit!

I have also been bonding with a few more cousins, of late. We were close as kids, but then, life took over and we got busy. Now that we have connected (in our 40s) it makes me feel blessed to realise I am not alone. I wasn't alone earlier, either, but, there weren't very many people in my life I felt comfortable with. Having had some unpleasant experiences with some people I befriended, I had decided to desist from making any more new friends - a case of 'once bitten, twice shy', perhaps.  But,with cousins,  it's a different story, altogether.

It's  easier to bond all over again with cousins, despite the huge time gap. You have spent your childhood together; they are family, and they know how crazy you are, and vice versa! There are no inhibitions as well as no ego issues when they give advice or criticise you for something. You know they mean well. You know they want you to clean up your act and to see a smile on your face. πŸ’–

It's a similar case with friends from childhood. For, I also happened to meet a long lost friend on Facebook! We were students at the same dance class. We weren't best of friends, as such - she being younger, and a bit shy. But, I was in awe of that girl for her immense talent, and, also her self-effacing nature. Her bashfulness (despite being an all-rounder) that warmed my heart back then, is very much intact. We haven't bonded big time, as yet; some day we will, for sure. But, since being friends on Fb and learning quite a bit about each other, we had a short chat today, during which she said she felt we were "soul sisters"! Isn't that such an endearing term to use for someone you haven't met in ages?  We have hardly known each other, and, yet, surprisingly, we feel a connection!

Thank you, DP! You gave me such an awesome prompt!  I had been wondering what I would write about for my Monday post! We ought to catch up, girl, and soonest! πŸ’–

 The bond I share with a few of my closest friends, including my childhood friend, my ex colleague-cum-friend, my yoga teacher-turned-friend  and another dog-mommy-friend is precious to me. We don't connect on a daily basis (the vast physical distance being an obstacle), but we know we are just a phone call away. A phone call that works wonders on our sullen moods, leaving us feeling charged up and cheery!
 I have a  band of sisters, who I know will pick me up were I to trip and fall; who will be with me through thick and thin; who will be ever ready to swap some gossip, as well as knock some sense in me were I to act like a complete imbecile!
The bond that I share with a few of my  blogger friends whom  I met over the past couple of years is also something I treasure. For, a writer leads a lonely life - well, it's only in the quiet of our solitude that inspiration strikes. But, at times, the ghost of 'Writer's Block' haunts us days on end, and that's when we can count on our blogger friends to help pull us out of that frightening abyss. I have a chosen few gal pals who I have come to depend on, and who, though physically far, in the virtual world,  are but a click away. I know I can count on them for some exciting writing ideas, as well as some much-required technical support.

I feel a spring in my step, a joy in my heart, which (believe me) was sorely missing for a long time, now! For the last so many years, life was... oh well, let's talk about that some other day.
For now,  I have a very loving, dependable army of soul sisters in my life. Women who are fighters and achievers in their own right; women who have weathered many a storm and emerged braver; women I know I can learn a lot from. And, well, that makes me ecstatic! And, lucky!

Do you have your army of women you can call on in your time of need, or just to chill with? I am sure you do, but, if you don't, then start gathering them now, for you are definitely going to need them. Believe me! 



Friday, 16 December 2016

Behind closed doors.

  I have been on a reading spree, of late; just finished reading my second book from among the trio I bought last Sunday -  'I let you go', by Clare Mackintosh. A psychological thriller, it was the kind of unputdownable books I prefer to read. I finished it in about two days; it could have taken me even less time had there not been any other work needing my attention!

   The book begins with a hit and run case, but gradually emerges to be the tragic story of the heroine fleeing her miserable life as a victim of domestic violence. The writing is bold, in that  the scenes depicting the violence inflicted by the husband are graphic. It does need a lot of strength and willpower to  read about the acts of violence endured by the poor woman at the hands of her beastly  husband. I shuddered as I read those scenes. The kind of psychological control men can have over their women is ghastly, terrifying. One only needs to imagine with a sense of horror the kind of physical abuse the women must be experiencing.

  There are a countless women in our midst who are victims of domestic violence. Not many among those will ever  speak about it in their entire lives. Dying a hundred deaths everyday, they put up a smile to ensure their appalling  truths never get exposed for fear of incurring the wrath of their demonic husbands. Concealing their wounds - both, physical and psychological - they go about their lives, mechanically,  putting up a charade of normalcy for their families who dote upon them. Living in a perpetual state of fear of their husbands - the evil incarnates - they live  a life of servitude.

  It's human nature to pass judgements on people we come across in our day to day lives without pausing to reflect upon the lives they must lead.  That woman from our apartment complex who hardly mingles with others; the colleague who appears perennially terrified;  the friend who gives excuses galore for not attending our parties - do we ever wonder what the reason behind their behaviour might be? All we do is label them 'reserved', 'cold', 'snooty', even, without pondering over the kind of lives they must lead behind closed doors.

  There are organisations that help such victims, but rarely do the victims have the resources or the courage to file a complaint against their abusers. They not only fear the repercussions of their actions, but also find it difficult to trust the law. They know it's a man's world out there, akin to the one within the four walls of their homes. It's hell they pay for speaking one word against their men; they can very well imagine the outcome of filing a formal complaint against their tormentors.

  My heart goes out to these women, for the atrocities they face all their lives.  And, yet, I feel helpless, for nothing I say, or, nothing we say, will ever give them the motivation, the strength to step out of the hell they live in. Bogged down by worries about where do they go?/ how do they support themselves?/ will their parents stand by their side?  they suffer in silence.  And, even if they do muster the strength to move out of the hell hole, they have that nagging fear - will the men they leave behind ever allow them to live in peace? They never know what kind of revenge would await them!

 If any of you are acquainted with such  a victim of domestic violence, do extend your hand for support. It will take a lot of energy to fight for their cause, but it will be a fight worth it. Freedom, as we say, is our birthright, therefore, no one, not a single soul has any right to take it away from us. It's we women who ought to stand by each other, for it could have been our close ones suffering what those others are going through!
 Do think over it.