I Ain’t

“Your conversations, darling
mean a whole lot more
take another perspective
dig in a little more

There are signs, little diversions
indirect indications
things can get a little shady
don’t dig your own grave.”

I pondered, reflected, introspected
“How could words be so twisted;
communication misinterpreted
intentions turned topsy turvy”

Guilt, shame, utter pain
my eyes couldn’t have cried more
a blatant blame onto me
Flash floods!

Stepping back a little while later
recalling all I had said
the message I wanted to imply
my naivety!

I stand in front of a mirror
stare; peek into; ask questions
Guilty? At fault?
I get my answer.

No, I ain’t an attention seeker!

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Intent

Intent.
That will to do something. Achieve. Be.
That something you aren’t ready to negotiate upon.

Intent. 
That lack of will they said I had. That lack of pure passion that fuels success. That I didn’t want anything done.

Intent.
Days when I actually lacked everything else. Just breathing because it doesn’t need a voluntary will. No efforts.

Intent.
Sometimes the will to give up too. That done for feeling. That I didn’t belong and it all was a farce.

Intent.
The thing they said, maybe just to disqualify me.

Hypocrisy

Someone, somewhere, someday said,
“Treat people the way
you want to be treated as”

I wanted to be cared for,
affection, relation
Love!

I reciprocated the same
Giving away care and love
giving smiles away

Unlike the expectations
I got alligations
fingers pointing at me.

Called attention-seeking
and fake;
Someone to be condemned
To be steered away from

Somehow I let an allegation through
like a bullet shattered glass
blood, pain, tears; a mess

Now, I seek a mask
I seek Me!

 

Pay Back

Whenever we see an unhappy couple, or a couple facing some problems, we hear them blaming their partner for this. “It was he who caused this”. “She is to be blamed”. Blah Blah Blah …

When we are in love, we tend to idealise the person, overlooking their negatives. But when we go on to long term commitment, their negatives start to appear prominently. They are no longer ignored but fought over. “Why are you like this?” ” Why do you do that?” “Why can’t you change?”

In such situations we tend to forget that only the other person can’t be at fault. A person has been like this for some 20-25 years and you suddenly expect them to change for you, just because you don’t like something. Why can’t we simply accept each other? The way we are?

The other thing wrong about our relations is blaming and then seeking revenge. “He did this to me, so I would act this way to repay him.” “She did such a thing. I will make her repent. She deserves it.”

Why can’t we treat our mistakes better? Why hold grudges? Why can’t we simplify things? Instead of repaying each other or making the other person regret their doings, why can’t we forget and move on? Why cause each other pain? Or are we all sadists, deriving pleasure of the pain of our loved ones? Of our partners?

The next time you think of punishing you partner in any way, think how many times you have been wrong and they simply let go, never making a fuss. Think of why you love them before thinking what they deserve.

Hearts are fragile and anger only hurts your own self!

Owned?

The fault was in destiny. The day which bore her a burden forever. Cause when everyone was speculating a baby boy, out came a girl! The most common form of heartbreak once you get married. Everyone accepted her half-heartedly. The first thoughts associated with her? “She is a burden on our shoulders. To be married off someday.”

The years following her birth were not as deadly as the first day but she was still treated as a burden, constantly being reminded of it. While her brother had permissions to do anything, it was all vice versa with her. She was hindered for doing anything and everything. And the most common aphorism to follow? “You have to live with another family someday. All this would not be tolerated there. Hence be in  your limits.” Even before being married, she was bound by the idea of marriage. Her flight delayed.

All through she was taught how to do household chores. And above all, she was taught to be doctile. How she should never argue back. How she should not look anyone in the eye. How … blah blah blah. All this while she thought maybe marriage is the end to all this torment. Maybe it is not as bad as they show. Maybe …

And atlast the day did arrive. The burden was off from her parents’ shoulders. She was being married off. And she? Naive as she always was, she was dreaming. She thought her prince charming had just saved her from an unpleasant life and hereon everythibg would be smooth. Like a fairy tale. Alas! Life is no fairy tale…

With marriage came responsibilities. And soon it dawned on her that she had no help there. She alone had to manage everything. And then you could not say no to your husband. Angels will curse you all night. She wondered why was only the wife cursed? All day she toiled hard and all she got at the end was curse and displeasure? For what did she do all this then?

Gradually she realised that though she worked as hard as her husband, she had to work at home too. He won’t move as much as a spoon. While he got to rest, all she got was more work. And displeasure of in-laws too. She wondered why only a woman was supposed to work at home? Was God biased or humans? She forgot our society believes in male chauvinism.

As some more time passed she was blessed with a baby. A baby girl. All her in-laws cursed her for bearing a girl child. Blaming her for being responsible for this tragedy. But what was her fault in it? How could she know what she bore. Yet no one thought about it. And instead of celebrations there was gloom in her house. It was another tragedy for them. But not a soul remembered what she had undergone to bring the life to this world. No one acknowledged her patience or tried to share her pain. It seemed she was unwanted. Surrounded by a whole lot of relatives and still alone.

As the birth of girl was gradually accepted, life began to be normal. But when the baby would cry, it would be her job to pacify her. Even after the baby was born, she alone had to take its care. When it would cry in night, she would be awakened to pacify it. She wondered why her husband could not have changed a diaper or fed it with milk that lay nearby?

She soon resumed her job too. Now she was handling too much together. House hold work, office, a baby, in-laws and a husband. She kept wondering why she had to be subdued and doctile. She wondered why women were doomed to this fate. Why was God partial to her gender? If her husband could rest after office why could not she? Why could she not go out and enjoy? Why could she not live?  Why were all bindations imposed on women only?

She had no answers. All she knew was that it all was unjust. Whether God was partial or the society, but she deserved much better, much more. And one such day, when she was tired of asking for her rights, she broke off. She broke all her chains that didn’t let her do her choice. She flew off away that day. Cause that day she realised life could not be what people say.  And your husband cannot be God. A wife has as much rights to rest and recreation as her husband. But still women feel chocked up, exhausted and sick.

A caged bird never sings of green fields.

A bird in a case can never love it’s owner.

 

marriageb

Painted in Red

They all sat together in a single room. Pin drop silence. All that could be heard was the sound of T.V. A news reporter was reading out the latest developments in the area. Developments not in the form of infrastructure or education but of situation. Of a situation that had led them to be locked up in their homes. Curfew. It had been a week that they had been locked up in their homes. First internet services were snapped and gradually all kinds of connectivity. One could not even know how a person was. No news source other than the national television. Indian television.

The issue with being dependent on Indian media was their non-reliability. They would never showcase the truth. They did cover the militant army encounters. They rejoiced on militant deaths. They showed their disapproval of people joining funeral of militants. But they never digged down to understand why an 18 year old would shun his studies and take up arms. They showed the angry mobs protesting on streets but could never gather the courage to bring forth the reason for their anger and anguish.

But right now they did not really have an option. They had no other source. The unrest was triggered by an encounter. And people had poured in thousands on streets for his funeral. Along with the prayers there was one thing that reverberated in the air that day. “Hum kya chahte? Azaadi!” This word, “Azaadi”, had compelled the forces to disperse the procession. Means used? Tear gas shells, pellets, rubber and even live bullets. That day a dozen more boys were killed. And hundreds others injured.

Tear gas shells are frequently used for mob dispersal. The proper usage? To be shot at an upward or downward angle of 45 degrees. But in this part of the world, tear gas shells were shot at 90 degrees. Right above the waist.  As if they were aiming it at people so as to cause injury and panic. More than tears by a gas, a mob can be dispersed by the realisation that a participant is hit by a canister and needs medical attention. From protests their attention gets diverted to calling an ambulance or arranging a vehicle and driving the person to care and safety. Similarly pellet guns are classified as non-lethal. On being shot they shoot out small balls ranging from 300-30. In most parts of the world they merely shoot 30 pellets at a time. But we live in an exception. 300 pellets are released from one shot and they are not as non-lethal as claimed by the security agents and the governing bodies.

Pellet guns did not merely cause death. In majority of the cases it caused something graver. It caused the death of dreams and hopes. Ideally they should have been shot below waist area. Instead every injured person with pellets was hit above waist. Most of them hit in head and eyes. Some wounds recoverable, others not so. The worst sorts of injuries were in eyes. And even worse the news that they had lost eye sight.

What was moving was an interview of a journalist with one similar patient. He had been operated upon but recovery of his eyesight was unachievable. When he was asked about his dreams, he said, “ Earlier I had but now everything is black. Nothing is left.” And tears had started gushing out of his eyes. Gloom. It was not merely the loss of eyesight. It was not merely a genocide. It was not a mere mob dispersing technique. It was intentional breaking of dreams, lives and souls. How could a democracy do this to its own people (and an integral part)?

The answer was more political than human. A solution which no one was ready to implement. Egos’ and personal motives stood higher than humanity. And the streets of Kashmir were forever painted red.

 

Beyond…

She could see beyond that paint
Beyond that smile that was feigned

Beyond that fair blushed face
Their true colours lay barren

Spending time around, she knew
There was none to call own

Amongst claims of being close
Care was the easiest thing to feign

Beyond conversations she could see
The slight changes of expressions

And though they claimed friendship
They frowned on mention of needs

They did what people call care
Only that it wasn’t real

They were all messy portraits
Crafty, painted, lifeless…

And she knew they would break
Her heart the day she trusted!

Of Here and There

Apart from the stark contrast of culture and lack of mountains, one thing was very apparent at the new place. Wherever you look, however far you try to search there is no army man standing with  a loaded gun. This seemed so abnormal. Back home an army man could be found every 100 metres or even less but here…  She was clueless as to why. That was the first time she realised her homeland was a conflict zone. And that it was captive and yearning. All the people had a single dream. Freedom!

Adjusting to Indian society and culture was difficult. People usually asked very difficult and strange questions. Is it safe there? Have you seen terrorists? Does it blast every day? And they go on and on. That was when she knew the partial news coverage Indian media provided. For them it was merely a piece of land. For her? Kashmir! It was difficult to give them answers and bring forth the reality of Kashmir. Not because of the complexity of the conflict but because of the adamant nature of her questioners. They knew only one thing. “Mera Bharat Mahaan”. And they would not listen to a word spoken against India. Or to something that would paint India in bad light. They could not bring themselves to think or realise that India could be wrong and atrocious too.

Amongst all this a news took everyone like a storm. A guy had turned a militant and was now attacking army convoys. Army and CRPF were being attacked. It seemed as if armed struggle had started afresh. Following the news of blasts and killings she came to know about the person doing all this. (A name that means “bearer of good news”). This person claimed responsibility of all the recent attacks on the Indian army and forces. He also sent a strong message to counterparts in India, “We will earn our freedom soon.”

(the name). It was stuck in her mind. She could not understand why. Later, videos and pictures of the guy, who was by now being hailed as a hero, emerged. And she got her answer. She knew this guy. Not only did she recognise him, she even had memories of him.

She vividly remembered the smile that was always on display on (his name)’s face. How he displayed empathy with everyone. His kindness was an example in the whole school. Even teachers adored him and said the level of humanity he had was exceptional. He could not harm even a fly. Today the same guy was hurling grenades at humans. Unimaginable.

(his name) had lost his father very early in his life. Bought up by his mother alone, he knew her hardships and made sure he caused her no additional headaches. He was the calmest child of his age. His siblings were an elder sister who helped run the household with her mother and a twin. He always thought he was bestowed with the best mother and sister anyone could have. And his twin was like his own shadow. Inseparable.

It was late November. The sky was dark with black clouds and light was low even during the day. It had been snowing all night and it seemed to continue the whole day. Despite being the first snow of the season there was a strange lull in the atmosphere. As if something was utterly wrong somewhere and yet nothing could be done.  That day his brother was untraceable. He searched whole of their place but he was nowhere to be seen. Mother told him that he had moved out to buy some snacks. The nearest shop was a mile away. So (his name) started walking towards the shop. All the way long streets were strangely desolate. And the army numbers were higher than usual. Sensing trouble, he hurried. As he reached the shop, he met a strange sight. The snow was no more white. It was red. Even snow had withdrawn support. On the molten red part of the snow lay his brother. Shot dead.

For months together he did not talk to anyone. Neither did he attend school. He could hardly sleep. And when he did, he woke up shouting and crying. Doctors said he was suffering from PTSD. PTSD is not so uncommon in Kashmir. Almost half of the population suffers from it. Almost everyone has seen dead bodies, heard gun shots and grenades go off. People have dreams of identification parades and gun shots. And who held those killer guns? Army.

For a long time (his name) was depressed and could not resume his daily life. Probably he could not accept the loss. How could anyone ever anticipate losing a twin. It was after a year that he could finally face the reality and resume his life. It was difficult but he did all he could. Sometimes he would break down in middle of activities. Sometimes in midst of a crowd. That seemed to be the most difficult part of his life. Only if we knew better.

It was his higher secondary school exams. The ones parents say are the way to an easy life (the most common lie though). He had studied hard and thought he could ace the exams. It was the physics exam day. He was glad for he had attempted whole of the paper satisfactorily. But as he reached home that day, a new pain was awaiting him. In his absence some army men had entered their home forcibly and tried to impose themselves on the ladies. When the ladies did not yield they took them along with. Later, their bodies were found in a nearby brook. Both of them dead.

Rapes, forced disappearances and deaths were not new to Kashmir. But when this all happens to someone first hand it is difficult to bear. That day he felt helpless. His brother had not been given justice. And when he wanted justice for his mother and sister, he was met with same fate. Post-mortem reports were altered. Rules were bent. And the killers were given a free passage along with a transfer. Justice was murdered once again. Again, like all those years when 100’s of youth were killed and no one was held responsible.

The day he realised he could not get justice in the Indian legal system did he make up his mind. He wanted to avenge the deaths. Not just of his family but of Kashmir. Of the 1000’s of martyrs who laid their lives to free it from the occupation. That day he disappeared.

She could still remember the day like it had happened yesterday. (his name) had not appeared in any other exam. Nor could anyone get him to talk or do anything. It was the onset of depression. And this later led to his disappearance. Some said he killed himself in grief. Others said he crossed over the border. But no one did anything. Moot spectators.

It had been a year since his disappearance. He had returned as suddenly as he had disappeared. His eyes still spoke of the ordeal he had met. His pain had not died away. Time did not heal his wounds. Incurable.

Yet, whenever she had conversation with her Indian class fellows they held him wrong. He was labelled a terrorist even without hearing his side of the story. News anchors shouted to establish their point. People started discussing him on national television. But they never knew what provoked him. She wanted to ask them how they would feel if their brother was out to fetch snacks and was shot at without any fault. Was it some play? Was he a wax model? A target to practice upon? She wanted to ask them if they had ever reached home and found that some army men had misbehaved with their mother and later killed her? Would they still worship their country, their army as they do now?

Her staunch Indian fellows were blindfolded by the media and their national chauvinist mentality. The truth never reached them. She wanted to tell them his truth. But then are Kashmiri students studying outside the state not killed and labelled terrorists or lodged in jails for no fault? Or even worse, they sometimes merely disappear. And quiet she kept.

 

Brave

There was one thing being repeated over and again
“I don’t really care, it’s all fine”
Though brains tried to reflect
Heart had turned rebellious
It was chaos, no, a war
An invisible, internal fight
Though outside they thought it happy
Nothing could internally be worse
What fun they assumed it to be
Being internally fought and torn apart

Awaited

She was jolly that day. A day out with her best friend. What else can cheer up  a person more than a friend. They didn’t do anything extraordinary. Only a walk down the road and a dessert in a famous shop. As she was relishing her dessert, she suddenly noticed he was gone. Nowhere within site or in the shop. A quick glance around confirmed that. She frantically got up to check the streets for him. No clue. He was gone!

A cry escaped her lips. Scanning her surroundings she realized she was home. It was still dark. Clock on the wall read 2. A nightmare! Relieved, she went back to sleep.

The next day she met her friend. Together they laughed on the weird dream. At that moment they could not conceive the thoughts of separation. They had no reason after all. There was no possibility.

As much as they liked each other’s company, people envied them equally. As per the traditions of our society, their friendship was condemned on all levels. The most common thing? “A guy and a girl can never be just friends!” To counter them, they only had truth. Their minds had never wandered to the romantic sides. They did not consider gender when together. They were just two souls searching and seeking together.

But our society does not take rest easily, or does it? His friends started to taunt him. And ask about their relation too.
“Are you flirting with her?”
“Is she your girlfriend?”
“Are you two in a relationship?”
“What is going on between you two? You two are always together!”

After some time the guy snapped contacts with her. No explanations, no goodbyes. This sudden change of behaviour drove her crazy. She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t contact him and didn’t know why.

She had hopes he would return, If only for a final goodbye, but he would. She kept waiting, pinging him. Neither did he reply nor did he offer any explanation.

She kept wondering whether he was not affected at all. Did the sudden parting of ways not affect him?  Not the least? Depressed, she kept wondering what had happened. Was he so fed up with societal pressure that he gave up a cherished friendship? Or did the taunts of society reflect his true feelings? Was he somehow inclined to his friend? To her? Did he love her as they all said? Or did he quit so she may not have to hear anything?

In the dark cold nights she kept wondering. Why did he quit? She awaited an answer. None arrived. And the void remained!