Sunday, 15 June 2014

A note to my Dad on Father's Day...

Dearest Daddy, 

There's something I want to come out and say
as I miss you achingly on Father's Day...
It's something I've always known and felt 
But never managed to express....
This feeling that my heart will melt...

Since you 'grew me up' and sent me, 
With a hug and 'do me proud'
(as I took your blessings at my 'vidaai')
I've wandered across the timeless ocean
With a deepening sense of sad, self-doubt....

Although I see the past like a mirror,
No memory too small to hide,
I still so wish we were together,
With you right here by my side....

As time goes by I realize the folly
Of holding on to the chimera of life,
For now I see as plain as daylight
What it really takes to be a wife....
It took me away from all I knew,
And everything I ever lived with,
in the hope of something new...

Now all I ever pray for
Is that in every future lifetime
God makes you my daddy again
For only in your loving company
Do I, your child, my trust regain...

I miss your voice
your face,
your laughter
your eyes
your singing
your scolding
(with infinite love, may I add...)
For only when I became a parent
I could see the courage you've had

you were my Father, always,
then mother and friend,
and guide and conscience

and I know this to be very true
this is what I'd say 
if, by some grace divine, I see you

I never say it as often as I feel it,
think it 
and know it
My dearest Dad, 
you're my rock, my anchor, my hero,
and always will be my ideal man!
yours, Ruch

13:55 Hrs
15.06.2014

P.S- They say it's very hard to live for others, lose your soul-mate and still carry on, be a Father AND a Mother to teenagers, live each day learning something new- even if you're in your 40s, 50s or 60s...
They say it' takes a special kind of man to put his wife and family first, even before his own career, dreams and goals...
They say life is a journey, not a destination; live each day like it's your last, and love each moment like it's your first...
I only say, Daddy, in living with you, loving you, watching you and learning from you, I have seen you do all this and more!!
Years ago you told me, with a hug and a brave smile, as you bade me goodbye to start a new life with my husband, "Ruch, I know you will do me proud ".... all I can say is in every moment of my life when I feel helpless, doubtful, alone or sad, I imagine you are with me, encouraging me, talking to me till all my troubles disappear, no matter what hour of which day I call you and everything starts to make perfect sense...I hope that someday, I make you as proud of me, as I am of being YOUR daughter!
I LOVE YOU, DADDY...


Thursday, 7 November 2013

It's Time now....

देर लगी लेकिन  
मैंने अब है जीना सीख लिया
जैसे भी हों दिन
मैंने अब है जीना सीख लिया
अब मैंने ये जाना है
ख़ुशी है क्या ग़म क्या
दोनों ही दो पल की है ऋतें
न ये ठहरें न रुकें,
ज़िन्दगी दो रंगों से बने
अब रुठें अब मनें
यही तो है यही तो है यहाँ
देर लगी लेकिन मैंने अब है जीना सीख लिया
आंसुओं के बिन मैंने अब है जीना सीख लिया
है कोई जो यह मुझसे कह गया
के कहाँ तू रह गया
ज़िन्दगी तो है जैसे कारवां
तू है तन्हा कब यहाँ
सभी तो हैं सभी तो हैं यहाँ

Translation: (in my own way...)

It took me a while, 
(to realise)
but....
I have learnt to live now
no matter what kind of day
comes my way
I have learnt to live now....

I have now learnt
...and found the meaning in the words
Happiness
Sorrow...
just mere moments of life
...two different seasons,
they come and go
never stopping or halting...
LIFE is of two colours
sometimes a friend, sometimes not...
it is HERE
LIFE is HERE...
Here 
There now
then....

It took me a while
but now I have learnt to live....
to LIVE...
without tears
I have learnt
to live now....

Then someone says to me
there you are!
HERE, you are......
(Why have you stopped!!?) 
Life is a journey...
It goes on...and on...
you're never alone...here....
Everyone is here
every ONE is Here....




Postscript: Sometimes the realization that we are actually ALONE despite everyone around, dawns belatedly... For me, it came tiptoeing into my psyche. A chance phrase, a flippant comment... a 'I'm just joking...can't I joke??" retort when I was deeply hurt by it....all served to fill up the cup of joy. Or not.
Can life really change its course for the better if I accept the inevitable and make this jump!? Or am I too deep in, too far gone to make it out...??

Sunday, 6 October 2013

For my Soul-Sister, Preeti.

My Dearest loving Preeti, this song is for you and me, my sweet soul-sister. 

Listen to this song. Dwell on its words, the waves of music and the devotion of its Composer... there is profound grace in each word of this masterpiece. It has been stirring my soul since the first time I heard it. 
The thing that blows me away is its sheer beauty of melody, the meaning behind those words, J J (Ranbir's Character in the film)  and his simple heart and the depth of his passion for music... 

It reminds me of how much you have always been in tune with your inner soul- the sensitive, beautiful, ephemeral angel that you are. Since the first time we exchanged smiles at Nagindas in First Sem at SID, you have inspired and moved me beyond anything I can express in words... Your sketches, your Basic Design work, TRD Drawings and sheer will-power to overcome all the difficulties in your life was a lesson in survival. Having lost my mother a couple of months before I joined SID, I was raw, like someone skinned alive. Every emotion, every feeling was heightened by the sadness that in my life, at least, I would never be able to tell her, ever again, what she meant to me... She was my lifeline, and her loss weighs heavily on me to this day.... Such a loss can only make a person stronger, IF they can survive it, but in all my naked honesty, I tell you today that in those first two sems, everyday, it looked very unlikely ... 

My heart was drawn to you and Krishna Ma'am, for her blessing of motherly love for all of us. It was the fine thread, along with my father and what he must feel if I gave in, that held me onto life... so I tell you, dear Preeti, NEVER GIVE UP. YOU owe it to your mother, to live life the best you can and fight every obstacle, every negative onslaught from this world and its ways, every time you face pessimism. I and thousands of others are privileged and grateful to God for bringing you into our lives.... BELIEVE in yourself ALWAYS.... If you like it too, watch the video again, as I did, putting yourself in this holy place and ask yourself, what is that one thing or person or activity in your life that gives you true bliss. I think we both know the answer: MA. For both of us, perhaps, our mothers are our fountainhead of inspiration, love, beauty and gentleness. You are lucky, Preeti, your mummy is still with you, and I know you must be feeling the distance across the seas and that is what cuts you up and makes you lose heart sometimes... Just hold on, and remember, she is only a thought away. A whispered prayer and her heart will resound with your love cos that is what a mother's heart is like, baby. She is always with us, even if not physically next to us, she can still hear the echoes of our heartbeat in the throbbing of her own pulse. God is like our mother too, full of love and compassion... I always picture him as my mother because I lost faith in Him and His compassion many years ago when I lost my mother to Cancer...

As a teenager, I remember crying into my pillow, for nights on end in high School, praying to Him to please bless us with a miracle and save her...spare her life... but then, how could He let His carefully sketched-out plan go to naught!?? He won and I lost my mother to His powers over 18 years ago, and  I have not prayed in the conventional sense....ever since. Even if I go to the temple or stand before an idol, all I see is the Idol. I find that my god is my mother's memory, her life as she lived it, bravely and gently, lovingly and stoically...
My God is now in the eyes of my children... In the sparkle of a patient's smile as they squeeze my hand and tell me I have helped, which, I reassure them, is what I am there for.

Which brings me to this important bit I wanted to say!! DO WHAT MAKES YOU TRULY HAPPY; whether it is sitting down and listening to music or going outside with a sketchbook and recording something....in your poetic prose, or as a drawing. The inner-being in us all has ONE PASSIONATE FIRE within...it could be burning for anything- or anyone. Until we let it consume our lives, our time, our hearts, we will be restless and unfulfilled, feeling lost when we feel down.

I feel that way a lot, lot, lot of the time, babe and that's why I can relate to you... What gets me going is my kids, and my work as a Carer at the Hospital. It's just that I cannot pursue my dream of riding my bike to the end of the world, peeping off the edge and taking photographs just yet! Gotta wait .wait longer for that till all my responsibilities are done and I'm, Inshallah, older but still able to do it..!! I need to find my SELF, as I know you have....! The message you sent me on facebook  made it personifies your dedicated love, care and heart-warming beauty for all those who are lucky to have met you, howsoever briefly, because you leave a lasting impression on hearts.


My little daughter Rani, 7, is with me and it is now early morning... (I've been up since before first light today) reading your message and writing to you... Rani cried with me, as we held each other; she cried because she had reawakened from a bad dream and I did because it is unbearable to watch her cry to me when I woke up and walked downstairs where she was sleeping with a friend (we had a friend's two kids stay over so she could have some time to go out). I found her near the foot of the stairs, silently sobbing, and scooped her up to take her with me...

Moments later, she said "Mummy, I was missing you..." Now, nestled under the crook of my arm, she is watching me write, sorry, type this. I told her about your message and we both cried again, until she said , "Mummy, where is she!!?? When can I see her??! I want to give her a big hug and say thank you for being YOU." Rani wishes that there were no bad people in  the world and that all good people are always happy, and that nothing would make them sad.

As she puts, it, THEY are GOOD PEOPLE, they deserve to be happy. ALWAYS.
Amen to that! This is from the me and Rani (Shivu is sleeping with her Daddy tonight, to keep stress away from her) : for you... and me... and the child in all of us...Maa.
Be Happy and stay BLESSED, always. You inspire me and make me feel special, Preetikins. I am always with you, right there with you in spirit. You are and always will be my soul mate- my spiritual sister... and I want you to know how much you mean to me. Love you forever....
infinitely...
eternally yours,
-ruchi
6-10-2013
0522 Hrs

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Heal the world...

Love.
Care.
Share.
Heal.
Give.
Live.

Heal the World
When I think, see, hear or read,
I see a world steeped in pure greed
It hurts and rankles,
as they carve the wound,
It makes us deaf
to the whimpers around...

Where girls are killed, or maimed or looted,
and society watches helplessly rooted
When problems are burdens on their innocent soul,
insurmountably large for a fractured whole

I pray.
With Love and He does bless,
I derive strength from simple goodness
From the littlest of things
the tiniest of beings...

I marvel.
At His glory and Love for us all,
I scatter the seeds of a promising song.
A FUTURE replete with hope and positivity,
where everyone does a little bit more,
making a tiny bit of difference-
sharing their gifts of abundance and plenty...

I hope.
That the day will arrive when equality is unquestionable.
Not so much a matter of choice but a duty of Humanity.
When everyone helps and looks after the 'others'
no matter how small or simple the contribution...

I dream.
Of the evolution of mankind into humankind.
When Love and Peace are not lofty goals, but basic tenets of LIFE itself.
A day when birth is not just an event, but an evocative phenomenon,
celebrated by everyone, and valued by all.
Dearly precious.
Cherished and Blessed.

-AMEN to that.
(Please click the links to share my inspirations.)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Until I Breathe.... Lessons in Love ( Part II )

(Lessons... part I is on My ordinary everydays- here)

Yesterday, I watched a 2012 Indian Film at home after over nine months of very little TV viewing... I don't even remember the last recently released Hindi film I saw, before this one. Perhaps it was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in 2012...That one was a superb film too, and I loved it immensely.... but work, kids and life is such that we're not a family that goes to the movies unless its a kids' film on the weekend matinee show!
Somehow, its been this long. Occasionally, I watch old films online, or re-run my DVDs, collected over the years when my husband and kids visit my mum-in Law for a sleepover on weekends. Those are the times I can get some 'me' time, or read, listen to music when my work is done. Sometimes, I go to work for a long weekend Shift (I work most weekends) It was one such day yesterday... the kids had watched a film in our bed with me earlier that night and when they went to bed after their goodnight kisses, I settled down to watch one of the more recent films. Mind you, I use the term 'recent' here in a very subjective manner- it was 'recent' by my standards!

It turned out to be a wonderful surprise! An inspiring, enriching and honest film. ( I saw 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' yesterday. , for the first time)...Its an epic of love and passion- created by a man whose greatest love and passion was film-making. It made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me go quiet for a whole day. Yash ji, God Bless your Soul... I was completely blown away by the film. Bearing in mind the situation we are in, as a family- (the endless loop of Social Workers and Counselling we both undertook as a couple to work on our ten-year marriage and parenthood issues, the film Jab Tak Hai Jaan was like a sign from God...
It taught me a few lessons that I had forgotten... Lessons I had observed and imbibed in my youth from my parents and their rock-solid marriage which was beautiful beyond description. Growing up in the shade of their love was like being in the warm embrace of my Ba as we call grandmothers in Gujarati. It was like resting my head in her cotton saree-clad lap as a child... like being in the shade of a huge banyan tree at CEPT after walking in from the heat of a blazing, scorching, hot Indian sun... Their love for each other and others in the family was like the paras mani or Philosopher's Stone which turns all those who come in contact with, into Pure Blissful blessedness. Growing up as their daughter I was secure and safe, and had the scope to learn and think, sense and gain insight into 'what makes a good marriage'....
 I laughed, I cried, and loved every moment of it! The main character, Major Samar Anand (played by Shah Rukh Khan) is easily one of the very best Indian film and TV Actors of all times, and he was amazing...he practically 'breathed' the part... He is, unarguably, well-deserving of his STAR status; not because he is SRK, but because his essence is still the simple boy from Delhi, who may be followed world-wide by millions of people, and mobbed and loved by many more, yet still has his feet firmly planted on terra-firma. (In my humble opinion, of course!)
The next night, after my chores were done and my children were asleep, I and my husband talked about the film and we made a home 'date' to watch the film on DVD in the near future, together.
The next night, while I was searching for songs from the YRF banner on youtube, I found something marvellous-Yash Chopra Ji's interview with SRK...
Having watched the film, I had realized that Mr Yash Chopra had passed away, at 80, shortly before the release of this film... I had gathered as much from the film being dedicated to him... a tribute to a father, mentor, guide, loving and simple person like yash ji

FOLLOW YOUR OWN HEART
Be steadfast in your determination to reach your goal. The path may be hard, and the going rough, but you must have the courage of your convictions. Anything less, and you risk losing that 'vision'. It will simply exist as a 'phase' of your existence... you may exist, but you will not live fully and completely.

whether you want to work in a tiny village School or volunteer your able-bodied self to help those who are unwell in a Hospital, whether you are a Blood or organ Donor ( on the register,
Whether you want to be the best
Be Bold.
 Have the Courage of your convictions and what you set out to do or achieve is possibl
and stand up to your beliefs.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Reality Bites: INDIA TODAY- MARD (Part II)

Dear Farhan Akhtar and the MARD movement,

You're Men Against Rape and Discrimination,
did you know you've just taken on a gargantuan task of educating the population,

We live in a Metropolis of desire and plenty,
a country of God, a Land of Beauty,
we're run by greedy Leaders who couldn't care less for our Nation,
their sole aim is to win seats in the Lok Sabha Election...
they fatten their bellies whilst humanity is slain,
sucking the blood of the poor who live and die in vain

We all read about the big cities, some even live there...
we have Politicians adept at showcasing India's bumper bounty of beauty and diversity,
while hiding away the disturbing reality-
cities and towns that are morally poor
where riches and rags coexist like unborn twins...

We breathe in an age of connectivity and twitter,
yet hundreds of girls are denied a chance at a decent education
we boast of the latest iPhone 5s and the Delhi underground,
yet people live and die on our footpaths, of disillusioned, helpless deprivation...
and we still speak of INDIA EMERGING,
and TROUNCING the WORLD...
what a f#*%ing joke!!

There are some here in our Motherland,
who behave like something inhuman and grotesque,
A child loses her innocent trust of men,
by the vile acts of one individual...
In a country full of people who distribute Laddoos when boys are born,
and helpless mothers weep in fear and watch husbands or in-Laws sigh in frustration
when a little baby girl opens her eyes for the first time...

when some random male of the species begins to think he is God's gift to everyone,
where a girl-child or a woman is seriously assaulted, attacked and even beaten,
how and where do we start this crusade,
do we need Bob-the-builder to bulldoze the system
or shall we begin with an individual spade?!

We use technology to wipe out an unborn foetus
its only crime being it's an XX not an XY chromorome
we torture, bribe and beat our women into sumbissive creatures 
and turn them into dolled-up Barbie images
I have seen loud Men and boys wolf-whistle at their nascent sexuality- 
overlooking their earnestness to be free,
independent and respected...
and be treated as humans.

We have middle-aged men sporting their buff abs,
grins or smouldering gazes photographed to perfection,
we applaud and admire their grit, their sheer drive to look after their health and 'looks'
yet some people will watch Tennis to see if a woman player's skirt will ride up her well-toned body
as she lithely moves to earn our country a Commonwealth Gold medal......
We treat women like objects of sexuality; a condom, perhaps, or even worse....

Why such double standards??!! 
Where is the equality and diversity, the celebration of life and peace?? 
would they now dare to burn effigies of Ravanaa on Dussehra??
atleast he was far, far more virtuous than these men who violate and kill innocent children, animals and women?! 
In a country of Cow-worshippers, Ganga-bathers and Devi Maa-followers, thousands of women, girls and even children are Sexually assaulted, molested, sodomised and killed by sick inhuman bastards every year....sometimes, even our Gau Mata, the COW, worshipped as a mother isn't spared... two men, drunk to their eyeballs raped and stabbed this innocent animal (see here)...
Who can imagine the horrors that dwell in the mind of some sick people??! Its ironic, that in the land of Hinduism and Millennia of Knowledge where no animal could be more precious to Hindus the World over as a symbol of the Mother; giver, sustainer, nurturer and Krishna's beloved divine ward- an innocent animal, always docile and harmless can be attacked and abused in this grotesque manner...




"Krishna, nee be ganee.. baroo.." - Colonial Cousins sang in the '90s...
but I'm afraid, my Krishna is hiding somewhere... in the tearful eyes of an innocent childhood, destroyed.... weeping silent tears, pain and horror assail her tiny body... my krishna is alone, somewhere, waiting... as I wait for Him.


NOTES:
 A 5 year old little girl was kidnapped and raped, sodomised and left for dead in a Delhi flat last week... Her frantic parents ran from pillar to post, until, finally the police took notice and agreed to lodge and FIR... that night.
She was found two days later in a locked room under the stairs of her parents' apartment. Someone heard her little whimpers and tiny wails, and alerted the Police who found her barely alive.... As I read the news reports of the horrific signs of the brutality she lived through... enduring unimaginable Only kept alive by his will....As a mother of two little girls myself, this incident left my heart juddering uncontrollably every time I think of the innocent little child's ordeal... Her life, her innocence her future well-being are in tatters... all because of one sick, inhuman excuse of a male...
The Police first tried to stop the news spreading, then proceeded to fake a show of shameless outrage and sympathy. The ACP and his goons bully and slap young girls who dare to protest, try to silence the voices of thousands of Indians unified in protest as they demand change and reform.
Bala Krishna
The fat Netas with their white kurtas and Khadi jackets huddle together in the Parliament and shamelessly pass the buck, resulting in one faux pas after another... They pull grave faces and give lofty speeches and now trivialise the Malaise that afflicts our nation of Cow-worshippers and DEVI Puja devotees by saying this happens to hundreds of women all over India..... Is this the dream of Gandhi and Nehru!!? The Land of Rama and Maa Durga, Shiva and Vishnu!!
 As the little girl, who is my Krishna, fights for her life in the AIIMS, I pray to him, Lord of all beings... to look out for the innocent child- Bala Krishna..

All this, happened in INDIA...
My India...
On one hand she glows and beams with a dazzling splendour,
from the snow-capped mountains to the Indian Ocean lapping her feet reverentially in an image of her as our Mother: Bhaarat Mata Ki Jai...
As foreign tourists visit our country, some with backpacks and a goal: teaching and helping rebuild India, one-brick-at-a-time (I knew a girl, Rachael Grivas from Australia who was doing just that!!) others come to WED Indian Ishtyle (Katy Perry and her Ex, anyone!?) or Discover GOD'S OWN COUNTRY... or frolic in the sun and lie on the sands of Goa's beaches...
On another darker level, the spotless mega-cities that are on every government distributed pamphlet hide their underbelly of monstrous proportions even as young innocence is left in tatters  at the hands of those we trust- our men-folk: the SONS of India...The Authorities go pussyfooting  around the grave state of affairs, the seriousness of the disease that afflicts our society and our very identity as Indians...
If we cannot protect our children, what future, really, do we have??? Shocking figures show us how serious the extent of human rights violation  really is- in the first decade of the 21st Century, India has shocked us all...(please read all about it- here)- I can't even bring myself to say it but there has been an INCREASE of 336% in Child Rape Cases... many more are feared, because there may be hundreds of cases that go unreported... Ultimately, is THIS the India Veen Bhagat singh and his comrades died bravely for?? Was this Gandhiji and Sardar Patel's dream?? Do we just let it go back to what it was like; 'BUSINESS, AS USUAL' AS THEY SAY... or do we shout silently and protest non-violently?? There is immeasurable strength in numbers and each and every Indian has a duty to her or his Nation. not just the Soldiers and Navy, Air force and BSF Jawaans... EACH ONE OF US MUST STAND TOGETHER AND BE COUNTED.
WE, ALL 1.25 BILLION OF US CAN MAKE THE CHANGE HAPPEN, BY BEING THE CHANGE ITSELF.
NOW IS THE TIME!
IT HAS TO BE RIGHT NOW OR IT WILL NEVER BE...

Krishna.-serenely beautiful as the monsoon clouds

THANK YOU to MARD and you, Farhan, for being a CATALYST FOR CHANGE. Even though I'm not a M in the MARD (being a woman, daughter, wife,mother, sister, niece, and aunt!) I still would like to make MARD my WARD (Women Against Rape & discrimination) and protect, nurture and watch her grow...
my child, my little India- who hasn't even been born yet...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

India today- Reality bites (Part I)

India. The Land of a 370 million Gods and Goddesses. India with its holy Ganges ,the river that purifies our soul, the river that Hindus have worshipped as Ganga Maiyya since time immemorial, whose swirling waters gush down from the Himalayas and enrich the flood plains of Northern India. The ghats of Varanasi, the Temples of the entire Subcontinent hail the feminine form as the source of 'Shakti' or  Divine Power. India. The Largest Democracy in the World. The Country that, in Jawaharlal Nehru's own words, "Awakened to freedom".. on 15th August 1947. Awakened ?? Did it really wake up!?

 In a Nation with a population of over 1.25 billion people; about half of them women- a girl, a woman, is deemed to be 'asking for it' if she ventures out alone, or steps out at night without a male companion. She is told that 'boys are boys' and that girls must 'behave' if they want to be good, virtuous and live a honourable, safe life. In our Patriarchal society, men are routinely hailed as the kul-deepak, or 'light' that bears the family name forward. What can one expect from an Indian civilization whose Epic the Mahabharata recounts that a hall full of male relatives sat and silently watched Draupadi being disrobed in the presence of many senior and brave warriors??! Yes, it began the MAHABHARATA, but did that make our BHARAT MAHAAN!!??? I do not think it does. The true horror lies in the fact that in a Country of over 1.2 Billion, who worship, and salute the Goddesses in female form as almost all Hindus do, women are still treated as second rate citizens.

Today, a brave young girl died fighting for her life. Only because she was a woman. She was minding her own business, doing what billions of young people all over the globe do when they want to relax- spending some time with a friend, doing nothing out of the ordinary. She was merely out in public in the Capital City of the Nation, (also unofficially dubbed as the 'rape- Capital' of India) and was returning home from the Cinema at half-past nine in the evening and took a bus home with her male companion. This is not something that is unheard of in India today. Youth have their freedom. Youth have the right to freedom too. I cannot imagine anyone who would say that in 2012, it is unsafe to travel in the Capital at nine-thirty p.m. It is not something that would warrant such a horrific attack on her person. Today, she has lost her life. This Unnamed and unseen young woman has struck a chord with millions of Indians all over the world who salute her spirit and vow, silently, not to let things go 'back to business as usual' as one activist put it. This time, the Awakening has to be for ever. Today, India is united in grief, anger and dismay; shame, pain and disbelief. Nothing unites a people the way sorrow does- as did this one incident in Delhi 14 days ago.

Rape is not something Indians routinely shudder at. As a nation, we have become desensitised to this horrific attack on another human. Often, we begin the day reading about an incident of rape each day, every day, in the hundreds of reports in the Daily Newspapers all over the nation. From Metro cities to small, obscure or remote villages, men often control, dominate and treat women in this manner. Every year, thousands of girls are denied the right to be born, by families that want to have a 'boy' child . Stifled and murdered in the womb, the lucky few that see the light of day are 'indoctrinated' in the millennia old traditions of chastity, virtue and dignity being the sole responsibility of the female.  A few weeks back, another young teenager committed suicide, harassed by her rapists and troubled by the indifference of the Police Force-  a force employed explicitly for the protection of all citizens. A force led by an ignoble officer in that remote village who was even reluctant to lodge an FIR against the 'upper caste' rapists of the young Dalit girl.

 As I read the articles and soul-search within, looking at NDTV footage of Sunitha (a brave Rape-Survivor who was gang-raped 24 years ago, as a young girl of fifteen) a cry of unbelievable horror involuntarily escapes me...My little girls (8 and 6yrs old) look up from their playing and run up to me, abandoning their toy-train games on the carpet. "Mummy, what happened, why are you upset..?" I silently hug them, burying myself in their innocence, their childhood.
I search for words to explain to them in a way that they will understand, why being a girl/woman in India today is such a horrendous disadvantage.... Why men, unknown/ known/ strange/ familiar, must be approached in a guarded, manner, lest we be labelled 'frivolous' or 'flirtatious', 'coquettish' or worse....Why a raped woman is questioned about her 'past' , criticized for her choice of 'clothes' an the length of her skirt, the 'westernised' youth are told that these things did not happen in the last century? Isn't it true that looting, raping and killing innocents was part of the horror of partition?? This is the way most of our grandparents remember that most painful cleaving of the subcontinent. not only that, in the year 2000, Gujarat again reeled under the attack when the communal riots broke out...

I have questions but no answers, anger but no fury...just a quiet, silent, cry of horror...  As a society, we have a lot to answer for- be it individually, or in our world-view, our predisposition to creating and viewing  'ladki dekho- seeti maaro,' kind of films. In our refusal to see the 'symptoms' as symptoms and the 'disease' as DIS-EASE... In my eyes, the malaise of our society is the 'superiority complex' that some Indian Men are encouraged to adopt- be it via their upbringing, when parents and elders routinely favour the 'son' and 'truss' up the daughter to be the 'virtue' of the family. Where all the tenets of chastity and dignity are applied to a girl and rape is the ultimate degradation- the blot, that is likened to an indelible stain on her soul.
Many a time, a family with only daughters is looked upon as unfortunate, incomplete. Sometimes, an elderly relative or unassuming Asian patient (who I attended to as a Healthcare Professional) inquires if I have any children, and when I tell them, yes, I have two little girls, I am told, don't worry, God will bless you with a son too, someday. The sad fact is that they don't even think of the possibility that I am totally happy with my two Angelic Brats, and thank God every moment for the blessing of their lives.

Someday, I know, I will have to acquaint my daughters with the sad truth about the reason behind the regressive Indian mindset. Someday I will  have to tell them, of how walking, cycling, riding a scooter 'safely' back home in India, used to be an achievement in my University days... Eve-teasers abounded on every College corner, checking girls out and freely commenting on looks, hair, clothes etc. Often, I felt anger, a rush of disgust and solid good-old contempt for the mean-spirited sons of a society brought up with the mindset 'Menfolk are superior', just because they are men. Just because they possess the XY chromosome, and just because they have 'that' piece of equipment hanging between their legs.

Rape, Female Infanticide, Domestic Abuse and Crimes against women are the symptoms of our Patriarchal Society that is steeped in disease. The disease born from the 'superiority complex' that India has bestowed on all things Male. Forgetting the Value-system of our ancient forefathers, our Upanishads and the Vedas, the selective filtering of the desire for a 'son' has made India forget that Lord Rama was called Maryaada-Purushottam Ram because of Sita being his one and only wife. Even he was guilty and pined for her when he banished her to the forest, as an expectant mother...
Gone are the days of the sensitivity and gentleness of  actor Balraj Sahni and the Kabuliwala, who raised menfolk to the status of a fatherly figure in the eyes and psyche of his beloved mini bitiya. In India today, a three year Old girl is brutally raped in a kindergarten by one of the School support staff, and the deplorable, despicable vermin is merely locked up for the better part of a decade. What about the innocent child whose life he had so brutally and irrevocably damaged?! 

Most boys and men in India today are well-educated, conscientious and respectful of women and elders alike. It would be wrong to paint an entire populace with the same brush as the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humankind. But then again, there is a well-known saying, "One rotten apple spoils the lot." Granted, that not all of the nearly half a billion men are eve teasers or rapists. But as a society, we are going terribly wrong somewhere as we have done since time immemorial, to have brought a daughter of our country such untold physical and emotional anguish. That she fought for her life bravely is a testimony to her spirit, and it is this spirit that we, all 1.2 billion of us Indians must salute and resolve to imbibe. It is when a horror such as this strikes us, that India looks a little bit deeper into its heart and sees the elements of a regressive, sickening mindset searing the millions of good men who are innocent. So who do we blame? The Police, the Rapists, the Politicians? Why not address the issue of gender inequality in India at its most basic. Let us begin at the lowest rung of the ladder and eradicate the problem from the grass-root level??

 Long ago, in pre-Independence India, Raja Ram Mohan Roy had protested against the Sati pratha . his reform was the spark that ignited the change, until the practice was eventually outlawed by the British Raj in 1829 A.D. Now,we only read about it in books, or see it in remotely grainy Black & White films or a bygone era...At present, though, I content myself with making these notes for the future, chronicling our life and times. Hoping for a much better tomorrow when rape and Female Foeticide, dowry and the circus of the 'superior male' will have been wiped out. I hope for a future of equality and promise, wherein girls can be born and grow as equals to any boy or man in India. When they can thrive and realise their potential, fulfil their dreams and achieve their ambition.

India today, needs to awaken again. The country needs to adapt itself to be fit to function in the 21st century. On one hand, we have women in our Armed forces, Police and Paramilitary forces, we have women stand alongside and often overtake men on the professional front. on the other hand, we treat women in such a reprehensible manner- assaulting them physically, verbally, emotionally and in countless other ways. The perpetrators are not men alone, but all of society. Each and every one of us is culpable. From the miscarriage of justice to the one who does 'nothing' when faced with these atrocities. So what can we do!? One thing we ALL can do is start small. in our communities, in our localities- if we see someone behaving badly, make it 'our  business' to stop them. Not by violence. Not by attacking them, but by joining hands with like-minded people and showing them that this will not be tolerated. Also, a petition written by Namita Bhandare is to go out to the President of the Republic of India. you can read and sign it too, if you wish. (here)

Let's not dissect this incident alone and sensationalise the young woman who lost her life by singing odes to her, or lighting candles. By signing posters or shouting slogans. All this is going to be short-lived. What we need is a slow, steady flame that becomes a blaze. a Blaze of reform and change. A fire that burns evil, purifies our conscience and shows each one of us a mirror. Let us not question why we were silent for so long- this has been allowed to fester for far too long anyhow- the time to Act is NOW! The fight has just begun. Tough times lie ahead, and if we all can make our localities, our communities or streets that little bit safer, then India will, one day, be truly FREE.