For the “broken”

I have never done posts based on daily posts. It is because inspirations have to come from within for the posts to read well. But, from time to time, I have kept an eye out for interesting daily posts, more so, on a day lacking in motivation to write.

Today however, the guys at The Daily Post have for me a trigger I couldn’t resist.

Today’s post reads:

Tell us about a habit you’d like to break. Is there any way it can play a positive role in your life?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BROKEN.

I am obsessed with “broken”. I have always felt a strange pull towards broken people, ever ready to take them under my wing, and heal them. A sob story never fails to move me, to an extent that this trait has been used to take undue advantages.

Never mind, though!

Helping people has been such an overwhelming passion. Learning to say “no” is a lifetime project.

About broken – I have a different take. What happens when something breaks?download (1)

It is no longer like its previous self. Its shape has changed, there’s probably a crack somewhere too. But why would you call it disfigured?

Why won’t you credit it as a new shape, with its own characteristics?  Why wouldn’t you rather acknowledge its own independent features – admittedly not like its previous self, but of course something totally anew?

It has its own purpose, and identity.

Similar is the case with people. Broken people attract me because I realise that the kind of empathy, sensitivity, and goodwill broken people can learn to build is far greater than most whole people. It is just a matter of converting the pain to something beautiful. One just has to discover a passion where all their energies can be poured.

How often have you heard of people losing a loved one to some illness, later on going on to build support groups, hospitals, knowledge centres for others who suffer from the same illness?

Me? I have heard them tales too often.

A “break” can be transformed into immense positive energy. It doesn’t have to be always drugs and alcohol.images

Broken people also tend to take utmost care to not hurt people, or to “break” them in any manner. They tend to become healing centres.

What is so bad with being broken?                                                           

I want to explore why the general notion is so negative about broken people. They are the ones who are avoided and considered to be holding unnecessary “baggage”.

But is anyone really whole?

Truth is the world breaks everyone. No one escapes without a blemish. Some are just good at hiding it too well, and for too long. But, hiding has its own negative effects too.

Some wear it as badge, more like the scars of a war!

But, as a general rule, we are all broken. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Use your “break” proudly!

(This work by Subhabrata Dasgupta is licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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The soul crusher

You who are ever in disagreement shall one day agree with my vision, my thoughts. One day you shall see light shooting out of my words.

You who are ever in opposition shall one day nod your little head in approval, and my heart shall leap in joy.

Do you know how much heartburn you cause when you trample upon my ideas, over which I have worked half a day and some more hours?

Could you not show some solidarity or at least refine my thoughts?

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Why do you instead choose to just berate, and criticise, and never show the path to the ever-complying learner that is me?

Oh why!

What cruel joy do you derive from shaking up the very foundations that offer me confidence in my humble capacity for creativity and intelligent thought?

Your method is maddening – your words seethe, I discard them as another of eccentricities, and yet at a later hour those words trouble.

My mind doesn’t want to concede defeat, not to you.

The fight that goes on within the recesses of my mind is of a mighty scale. The objective is one – to get your nod of approval.

Do you realise how central you have become to my existence? Yes, THAT central that my first waking thought is about meeting your impeccably high standards somehow.

Yet, defeat rattles my efforts – day in, day out. The reactions are varied – ranging from feigned indifference to righteous indignation at such flat rejection.

But, this I promise you, defeats may rattle me, but they will not break me. From the ruins of defeat, I shall excavate the seeds to victory.

That victory shall be the sweetest, better than any I have had so far. That shall be a REAL feat for I shall have matched your high standards.

Till then, I shall try.

Today I lose.

I shall meet you tomorrow again.

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Valuable connections!

In a previous post titled “The years are numbered”, I wrote about how I was unhappy with the past five months in which I had only worked and not done a lot of things that I wanted to.

I have been trying to change that a lot. I have started music again. I have started exploring again. A creative project however couldn’t be started for the paucity of time.

But, one of the things I couldn’t change was not making new friends regularly.

However, much later, I realised that perhaps making friends will never be the way we know it to be.

I realise that people of my generation will probably only be able to make healthy friendships and connections through social media.

That is because of the way our lives are – busy and disjoint.

Where is the space and time for socialising?

At least, I am struggling to find it.

However, this is not to suggest that even when I do have the time, I would simply sit in front of the computer and chat with my virtual friend from Kalahari.Image

I don’t mean to say that.

What I mean is social media can be a good place to start with. You read a person’s posts, see what he shares, know about what causes he is associated with, and suddenly, there is this natural affinity for him.

You have him in your friend list, but you’ve never had a chat with him. You try and have a conversation and you find out more about this guy. You read his blog, and really connect with what he writes.

One day, as fate would have had it, you need to move to his city. You let him know you are coming. You plan to meet up for dinner at his place; he introduces his family to you. There are his friends present who soon become your friends too. He plays the guitar; you sing and have a lovely evening – better than most evenings spent at your place.

This really happened to me, and this is why I believe how we forge friendships and a relationship is fast changing.

Mostly, it is changing for the good.

Otherwise, how do you explain an elderly man letting a young man from foreign shores, who he knows only through social media, call him “grandpa”?

How would you otherwise explain the long Google hangout sessions that grandpa and grandson have, despite a faltering internet connection, different accents and what not?

How do they still manage to retain the charm of a real relationship?Image

They could be having the same conversations sitting around the fire, and nothing would be different. How could you explain the guilt that grandson feels when he does not write long emails to grandpa for quite some time?

I am at a loss.

Someone I know from the time of “Voices for Damini” campaign is now one of my most valued friends. She is lady of such charm, and dignity. Every day, I learn from her posts, her status updates, her blog posts. The causes she takes up, the twitter activism she does really starts to rub off on you, and you do not realise how and when she has become an inspiration for you.

A blog-friend from America promises she will visit India soon, visit me and chat for a long time.

A friend from Coimbatore travels to Hyderabad just to spend one a half day with someone who he knows only through his blog. Last I knew, they were planning another such trip.Image

Maybe it is fate. Maybe some people are destined to meet, and social media is just an enabler.Image

I do not like that school of thought looking down upon social media as a virtual life for nerds. We have to realise that behind social media, behind every post, every blog, every comment is a breathing, living individual, who is unique, and who wants to connect to you.

In all probability, that person too wants to reach out.

Social media just provides you the platform by rendering useless physical distances, and the rest is up to you.

How you make connections is up to you!  

To tame a beast.

She knew it from the outset that the beast was going to untameable.

She knew, and she prepared precisely for that – a wild, no-holds barred beast, and a subsequent no-rules slugfest.

And, she fought it out with the beast, getting down in the mud. But, its power was bursting out of its veins. It had fought a thousand battles like these, right in the corridors of power, from whence it had arrived. It fought like it had nothing else to do in life.

The beast’s technique was impeccable, and it looked like it was a master in its game. She had heard terrible things about the beast, and it doubled her dogged determination.

But, her strength and depth were found wanting. In reality, a scrawny girl like her had no chance in hell. And, she lost. . .

It hurt, it felt terrible, and she broke down.

“Please teach me how to fight. Show me the tricks of the trade, oh beast!”

Precisely at that moment, the beast’s heart melted.

That was a magical moment.

moment

A new side to the beast emerged – that of

a teacher, a soft-talker, a guide, and a repository of know-how on how to fight.

And the two bonded. They talked.

For the first time, they talked, keeping aside pre-conceived, ill-conceived notions.

They asked questions, and got to know each other.

Disagreements were still there, though. But, they found a better way to find common ground. They drew their lines, and defined their comfort zones.

None breached the others’ personal zone, and ther

e were no fights, at least up to the time of writing this piece.

Pre-conceived notions can be deceptive. Rumours can be misleading, and hearsay is a trap for fools.

No matter how terrible a beast is, there is always a way to tame it.  

The trick is to find that way.

humble

The years are numbered…

The greatest and most lasting life’s lessons are those that you learn all by yourself.

Nobody can teach you those lessons.

You can’t borrow from other people’s experiences; you can’t learn things through their trials and tribulations.

My experiences have taught me it is almost next to impossible to get a head-start in this race called life. No, there is no way you can do that.

Primarily, because life is not a race, at least not of the kind as popularly perceived.

There are no competitors; there are no trophies, no famous felicitations.

It is not even a competition with your own self. At least, that is not the way things stand for me.

I hate that hurried pace that some like to call a busy, useful life. I despise it vehemently.

I quit that race a few months back. I quit that life, that particular thought process, that kind of company. I quit everything.

I started afresh, with as few regrets as humanly possible.

My new life seized me by the lapels, and had me in a trance for like five months. I threw myself into work with single-minded devotion.

Few months after that, the most valued word in my life became “Sunday”.

Living from weekend to weekend is tough. It breaks your body, but it breaks your soul the most.  It took me five whole months to realise that with the approach I had adopted, I was headed towards a dead end.

Suddenly, it started to feel like a race all over again, except that my only competitor now was “time”.hourglass

And, it dawned on me – that brilliant answer I was looking for all this while.

“Who do we race against?”

“We race against time.”

You are given a lifetime of 70-80 years on an average. You go out there and try to make the best of it. You try to accomplish the most you can in this time period.

You try to die with as few regrets as possible.

In these five months, I just worked. Now, work can give immense satisfaction, and self worth. But, what it cannot do is give you brand new experiences every day.

That is what life is all about – gaining new experiences. The kind of experiences people want to gather is obviously a function of taste and inclination.

But, invariably, life is all about gaining experiences.

Here I was spending five months of my life just working.

I missed out on writing and reading.

I missed out on embarking on a new creative project.

I missed out on learning and creating music.

I missed out on making up for all these years of not travelling.

I missed out on making new friends.  

I missed out on biking.

I missed out on spending time with loved ones.

I missed out on living well.

It is time that I lived, for the years are numbered and flash by pretty fast. . .

Images: Google Images

My voice of sanity!

How mad can this world can sometimes prove to be!

It is a difficult place to be if you are someone who is sensitive to change, for change will come, inevitably. It is often difficult to cope with the insecure individual residing inside me who is bothered by change of the negative variety.

That individual is a hopeless idealist, and I have been told a score and ten more times that idealism does not work. I have been told, and I have no difficulty believing in it. I don’t harbour the illusion that idealism shall one day be the order of the world. I really don’t believe in all that shite.

But, my friends, I am afraid that belief is one thing, and instinct is quite another. Belief can be cultivated, filtered through logic, and made politically correct.

Instinct is natural, you are born with it. All you can do is see yourself running hopelessly after the mirage of idealism. You can only secretly hope that your Mind is quick enough to knock some sense into your Heart, before some serious damage is done, unless….

Unless, you have those special people in your life who always manage to whisper words of sanity into your ears. We all need those little voices of sanity in our lives. I am fortunate that I have mine.

When nothing makes sense, and the world seems to be dominated by big, bad people, it is always safe to turn to that voice of sanity. Thank God for such beautiful people who are blessed with the ability to see the world as it is, and not through rose-coloured shades of romanticism.

Here’s dedicating this post to my own voice of sanity! You saved this day, like many other days 🙂

Who is the voice of sanity in your life? Who do you turn to?
Share, if you would like to!

Still Awaiting Justice for Damini


(On 13th September, a Delhi trial court sentenced the four adult defendants of the December 16 ga
ng-rape and murder case to death by hanging. I wanted to write, but I simply didn’t feel up to the task. Perhaps, my energies were too spent. I just wanted to commemorate it with my silence.

Fellow blogger and colleague Dr. Bhavana Nissima writes the final piece for Voices for Damini. All the photographs are from her blog “Tilling the Earthwoman“.)

On Dec 16 2012, when 5 men and a juvenile brutally gangraped a young woman in a bus in New Delhi, they didn’t realize they had tipped a boiling cauldron of agony over.

It was definitely not the first time in this decade that we had seen protests on Violence Against Women. See this NDTV page for some of the rapes that year and before and protests around the incidents. It was also not the first time that other metros and cities had seen protests that year.  See this article on how people protested in Haryana against State’s response to Rape in October 2012.

Slutwalks, streetplays and brief marches all had hit headlines again and again.

Nor was it the first time in history that people had protested. From Debi Choudarani in 19th century to Mathura Rape case, Maya Tyagi, Suman Rani, Manorama, Ruchika Malhotra we had been on the streets protesting and organizing for Justice and better systems—police, law, governance and yes, public education.

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Dec 16 brought us altogether, brought together histories—social and personal, of various forms of violence against women and we wove a rug together with our stories, with threads dyed in our memories. We then held aloft that rug and ran the streets of Urban India physically or in spirits for her, and for us.

We now called her Damini. Some called her Nirbhaya. She was the masthead for our stories.

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Stories of rape that we were never to able to share, of rape that we reported but the police never registered the cases, of rapes that were registered but never managed to get a court hearing, of rapes that got court hearing but culprits were acquitted on many grounds. Stories of rape where we did not get murdered but committed suicide unable to bear the constant taunt that we had gotten ourselves raped, of the social notion that it was a loss of honour, of parents who incited their daughters to commit suicide, of parents who committed suicide, stories where we neither got murdered nor died by our own hands but lived a soul-mutilated lives, zombied by our pain—a certain blanking, a certain dissociation with everything social. And others wondered why is she so crazy, why can’t she let go?

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Stories of incest when rapists were not strangers in a bus but our own father or step-father or Uncle or cousin or close family friend that we managed to divulge to good friends but never to our parents. Stories that made us step away from our bodies, of a certain fear of all men, of shame, of confusion that when we loved a man why did we still not wholly fully enjoy being in that state? Why did we still freeze?

Stories of women when a no didn’t mean “no,” of when we didn’t have the social and legal sanction to say no because weren’t we wives in a consensual relationship with a man? Because marriage is considered a lifelong consent to receive the man. But isn’t consent and dissent in every moment of every day? And how we could not speak about it because woh toh ghar ki baat hai. And if we refused, how we got called frigid and how we struggled to be not called that.

Stories of when we were kidnapped against our will and raped repeatedly till we agreed to become prostitutes. And once we became prostitutes, we could no longer call it rape—neither that which was past nor what happened now. Weren’t we now doing it for our livelihood? Didn’t we now invite “rape”?

Stories of public sexual harassment—of public spaces where we lost power over our bodies—that moment when we felt powerless, as if those body parts didn’t belong to us, that we could do nothing to protect our own selves, and that we had to brush it off because after all it wasn’t rape. Stories that deformed our sense of our self, that deformed how we looked at public spaces and why our muscles were so tense all the time in a bus, in a road, even in a metro.

Men also stepped in. For their friends and girlfriends and wives that they couldn’t stand up for, or were beaten up or killed in the process. For them who stood up for their sisters and were killed by molesters or tortured for reporting in the police station. For them, who sought justice for the women in their lives—daughters, mothers, wives, fiancées, girlfriends, friends and found themselves paralyzed by the system. For them who were rape survivors-raped by other men and women. For them who could not speak of the shame and guilt and emasculation they underwent in the process. For them who wanted redemption of their kind—“No, No. We are not like that.”1-_MG_1517

Damini brought us altogether. The rug that we weaved voiced us, validated that agony, and unified us in pain. Voices for Damini campaign stands testimony to this movement—an orchestra of male and female voices conducted by a man who couldn’t take it anymore.

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What is it that we wanted? What was justice for us? Through the many emails exchanged, the long phone conversations, the sleepless nights correcting and editing our voice, of reflecting on how change in a true sense could happen, of hovering over facebook pages and online sites to see how the process was unfolding—what we wanted came in the form of Justice Verma Committee Report.

Never before had our voices been so faithfully represented in a report of such significance. The Bill of Rights still makes me cry.

But the report was never enacted in letter and spirit.

And on Sep 9 we were suddenly told that the verdict was for the young woman and her family. That we should pray and wish for justice for her. That justice for her was Justice for Damini, Justice for Nirbhaya. That we should put ourselves in her shoes.

When did we ever not be in her shoes? When?

I am glad/we are glad that her soul and her family got a verdict and that the crime qualified for maximum sentence as mandated by Indian laws. (We can disagree on what the maximum punishment should be but greatest takeaway from the case is that unlike in previous cases, where culprits were let out because the woman was not previously “modest” and such frivolous reasons, in this case, without any reservations, there was a clear, unhesitant and clean verdict in favour of the rape victim). We are happy that one of our sisters got a closure.

But for the tens of thousands of us who spilled into the streets of India physically or in spirits for Damini, for Nirbhaya, we still await our verdict. We still await for our turn for Justice.

Enact and Implement Justice Verma Committee Report in full letter and spirit.

I’m good enough!

Have you ever realized what power these four words wield – “I am good enough”?

Try saying them to the mirror in front of you every once in a while. It feels empowering, and we all deserve that power; we all deserve that confidence.

For the most part of our lives, we are taught that we are not good enough, and that we need to buck up. We are taught to be like him, or her. Judgments are passed about your abilities, without any consideration for our feelings. The bar is often set too high, and unfairly so.

Then one fine day, we end up finding that one thing we love doing best. Luckier ones end up actually doing that thing that excites them.

Then, the rest can be described as “Pure Magic”.

There is no better joy on this planet than finding one’s feet. That feeling can be felt, or maybe even imagined, but it cannot be described. At least, my humble words fail to do so.

Imagine waking up every morning feeling positive about the work you are going to do during the day. Imagine being pre-occupied with thoughts about how to improve the quality of your work. No, imagine being possessed with improving the quality of your work.

That is the most beautiful feeling that can ever grace our lives.

Ever felt that satisfaction of looking at yourself in the mirror before going to bed after a day of good, old-fashioned hard work. You’re tired and weary eyed, probably goddamn sleepy too, but your soul sings.

You look at your reflection – eyeball to eyeball, and break into a smile and think, “I’m good enough.”

All your detractors were wrong, and there’s nothing like the guilty pleasure of quietly proving them wrong.

Yes, I’m good enough, and I always was! Life is beautiful! 

Believe!

Put yourself through the grind, doesn’t matter what it costs, doesn’t matter what it gives. Nothing has been promised, and it will never be. You do your own digging with your own hands. You’ve got to dig till the dirt in your nails starts to hurt. No tools for you, Sir.

You’ve got nothing to break your fall. So, you must fly well. Fly through dark clouds of despair; fly through sunny skies of promise. But, pray, don’t let fair or rough weather decide your spirits, for these are but illusions of the mind.

Don’t run this race; this is just a trap. Don’t trust these numbers, they inevitably lie. Learn. Learn to slow down. Learn when to slow down. Learn how to slow down.

The beauty of this game is in how it has most of the people fooled all of the time. Inflated egos, drooped shoulders, happy faces, sad faces – Oh! The variety of emotions this game manages to conjure up in the lives of its hapless players.

But, nevertheless, put yourself through the grind. Don’t be lazy. Don’t let inaction be your forte. If you’ve got to spend your time here, you might as well spend it trying to build something beautiful, you know, just so that the time passes fast.

At times, when this stuff feels too unreal, try to instil some belief. Believe! A man has to believe in something, lest he plans on becoming an ascetic. Even an ascetic believes. He believes in the way of his life, and hopes for some kind of deliverance in the afterlife.

So, no matter what happens, believe!

Believe, and put yourself through the grind.

Looking back.

My month long stint in Hyderabad came to a close on last Sunday. Never before in my life has a one-month period meant so much to me.

Strangers became friends, a rented apartment became ‘home’, and deep within myself, I discovered a mirror image of my Mum.

I had never imagined that I would have the same obsession as Mum when it came to cleanliness, and washing clothes. But, one morning at about 1:30, when I found myself cleaning up after a party and loading trash bags before throwing them out, I stopped in my tracks!

“Shit! I am just like Maa”, I said to myself, with much horror.

Perhaps that is how things work. One grows up picking up qualities from parents, without even realizing it at times. In more ways than we realize, we are mirror images of our folks, no matter how hard we find it to admit.

One thing that made the Hyderabad experience most memorable was the visit from Allwin. It was the first time we got the opportunity to meet in real life. So you see, virtual friends can become real life friends too, and very good ones at that!

He took all the trouble of coming from Coimbatore to Hyderabad, just so that he could spend a day and a half with me. That was remarkable!

Now, the shift from virtual to real is surreal. You know the guy, you comment on his blog, you exchange thoughts through facebook and phone calls. Yet, when you meet him in real life, it is different.

It took my mind takes a little time to re-associate the Allwin I knew with the Allwin I was seeing before my eyes. To start with, he really doesn’t look like the gravatar image on his profile. That picture is a younger version of Allwin.

He was taller, and lankier than I had imagined. But, when he spoke, it was no longer difficult to associate the two Allwin’s. The association became easier, and fifteen minutes later it came naturally.

Through the photographs on his laptop, I was introduced to his history – his life in college, his first job, his family. In an hour’s time, the author of Allwin Bright writes was no longer only a guy behind the computer screen.

The best experience has to be the chat we had sitting outside the apartment from 3:30 to 5 in the morning. Sitting under the starry sky, with a pleasant breeze blowing across our faces, I discovered a new dimension to friendship.

Despite all our cultural and geographical differences, somewhere deep down, we relate to each other very well. Glad to have discovered a great friend through this blog.

Thanks Allwin!