Tag Archives: abuse

Untitled

This one is from the archives. This poem holds a special meaning for me because of two reasons:

  • It was recognized by UNICEF as a literary piece spreading awareness about child abuse, specifically that of the girl child.
  • It introduced me to my life partner — this was the first piece of my writing he encountered and was touched enough to drop me a line. The rest, as they say, is history.

This poem is based on the right of a child to be protected from abuse and exploitation. I have not titled this poem because I want the readers to feel that just as a poem is incomplete without its title, childhood is incomplete without protection from the law.

Dark brown eyes that are red because of crying,
All hopes of escape and freedom are dying;

Clothes have been torn, hair is a tangled mess,
The face has lost all its childishness;
Hands and feet show marks of the whip,
Blood flows down from the cracked, parched lips;
Since the past three days no food has been eaten,
Her faith in God stands totally beaten.

Only seventy-two hours have passed since the time
There was laughter in life and bright sunshine
There were mother, father, and a lovely baby brother…
So what if they lived in a hut near the gutter?
There was dearth of money and they couldn’t eat well
But life was peaceful, and who had thought of such hell?

Loving neighbors, all sweepers by profession,
Who cared, but were financially in depression.
City life was expensive and father wanted the best for his son,
So he came up with an idea that would give him returns;
The very next day he came wearing a new coat,
In his hands he held hundred rupees’ ten crisp notes;
Life changed its course from that very moment
But there was no thunder, no lightning in the firmament!

The door creaked open and light illuminated the room
That hulk of a man, that lubber, spelled doom…
The message was to ask her if she was ready to come,
A customer was waiting — his fear made her numb;
But she was too tired to resent any longer,
Moreover, the louts were much, much stronger,
They washed her clean and gave her a dress
How she looked, is anybody’s guess.
She was led to a room where she would spend the rest of her life,
A girl of twelve followed by a lecherous man of thirty-five…

Share

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Personal

Celebrating women for a day

Here is an article I wrote for Hindustan Times a couple of years ago. For my readers in India, let me know if things have changed for the better on the streets, in the houses, at work …

——————

In 1909 some women textile workers in New York went on strike. After thirteen weeks of relentless opposition they won for themselves shorter working hours, better pay and a right to unionize. This uprising in those bleak times was recognized by marking March 8 as International Women’s Day.

One day out of 365 to appreciate women and all they do.

It wasn’t till Ponds’ publicized the celebrations on the telly did I come to know of the festivities across the globe. I felt happy. Here I was, a sixteen year old studying in an all girls’ institution exchanging spirited Archie’s cards on a solemn occasion. The significance of the day for me? We got free candies!

Apart from that one treat, everything else remained the same. I carried the same 4-kilo bag to school. I attended the same boring chemistry and physics lectures. I came back home to have the same daal-roti. And ended the day doing the same math homework.

Was it any different for my mom? Not with her nine-to-five office routine and household chores. She even wondered aloud while watching TV one day, “What’s all the fuss about?”

And really, what is it about this one day that is so special for you and me? Is it that the male species puts a pause on violating women on this particular day? Is it that women are spared obnoxious looks or comments while crossing streets? Do men stop touching us without our consent in crowded buses and trains? Are we given the dignity we have a right to at our workplace or our homes? Are we taken seriously, even if for a day?

Or really is it just a symbolic day to continue the fight that was started a century ago?

And what happens the morning after? You browse through your newspaper and find coverage on demonstrations for women’s rights, inaugurations of women’s exhibitions, celebration of the spirit of being a woman! And right beside these extensively glorified news items there’s a small nondescript column – 16-year-old gang raped in Satoha district.

Seven years hence television channels continue to celebrate the ongoing struggle of women in every corner of the world. I feel sad.

Who needs a reason?

I, for one, do not need a day to make me feel special. I know I am.

I do not want to be treated like a queen for a mere 24 hours. I rule my world every day and I do it with pride.

I do not demand respect at work or at home as an excuse on 8th March. I deserve it each day.

I do not want equality for I am not competing. I know I am superior. And this I say on the basis of my stronger genetic make up.

I do not want any honors bestowed upon me to mark an occasion. I am a woman – and that’s honor enough.

Maybe we could just do away with International Women’s Day and institute an International Men’s Day. Father’s Day sure has its contenders but what about a day that recognizes men, regardless of their paternal status? I wonder why we don’t have one date set aside to celebrate the spirit of “manhood”? Or is it that men can be celebrated only when they become fathers?

3 Comments

Filed under Personal

Civility: A golden rule

Sitting across the board room conference table you have a disagreement with your colleague — do you shout and tell them to shut up because you know you’re right?

Do you stand up defiantly, raise your hand, and say, “You are useless. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Get out!”

Do you cross your arms against your chest and with piercing eyes, say, “So what? I don’t give a damn!”

Do you attack their personal beliefs, drag their marriage or sexuality into your rant, and shower profanities?

Do you stuff your fingers in your ears as they start to speak and run around the room going “La la la la la la la la”?

No.

You would probably try to rationalize in a calm voice. You would most likely say something like, “I guess you’re trying to say ABC, but hear me out because I’m saying XYZ.”

You would, if you were talking about something diametrically against their point of view, perhaps even go to the extent of saying, “You are looking at this from your perspective, but the way I see it…”

Maybe you’d count to 10. Think and rethink before you blurt out. Wonder if it’s belaboring a point and a waste of everyone’s time.

Maybe you’ll even put yourself in the other person’s shoes and decide to give them another chance.

What you wouldn’t do is call the person names or even obliquely try to drag any personal issues, theirs or yours, into that professional conversation.

There is something that holds you back from shouting like a two-year-old and having your voice heard. Something that tells you it’s inappropriate. Something that restrains you from being rude, uncivil, impolite, and crass.

It may be the fear of getting fired. Or being judged. Or just holding a high personal and professional standard. It might also be an ingrained part of your being that came from a good education.

You might disagree completely with a person, but you wouldn’t be uncivil.

In most cases, the same behavior transfers to personal relationships.

Maybe you fight a little harder, show your emotions more openly, point fingers, and sulk with your loved ones. But even then, you don’t intentionally, at least, disrespect them. You try not to generalize and either try to bring the argument to a resolution or agree amicably to disagree in favor of living under the same roof peacefully.

But when it comes to conversations on the Internet — be it instant messages, responses to “controversial” status updates or tweets, or even blog comments, that something that keeps us civil in other settings doesn’t seem to apply.

Don’t get me wrong — most people are as courteous in their written communication within the social media sphere as they are in real life, but there are a significant number that shock me with their smuttiness.

They hurl abuses. Get personal. And stray off-topic just to show a person down.

No restraints. No courtesy. No room for agreement.

No room for anything except their point of view.

And not all of them hide behind the cover of anonymity either. When they post something extremely offensive in response to an NPR report on Facebook or tweet a rude personal, albeit public, comment to a Washington Post reporter, their names and Twitter handles are visible to all. Yet, they somehow feel protected. For some reason the intertubes provide them with a notion of safety. Of being untouchable.

This is where they can give someone their piece of mind. Someone they don’t even know. Someone they’ve probably never met … and never will.

Maybe that is the crux of the issue…

The fact that this “someone” is “somewhere” in the ether — a real person but with no real significance.

Someone who they don’t have to interact with on a daily basis. Someone who they are never going to get close to. Someone who doesn’t really matter to them.

And if they don’t matter — heck, why care about them? Why bother with being civil? Why spend time being polite? Why not just dump all your angst on this person and move on … to your next target?

It’s easy.

And I guess that’s why people uninhibitedly curse on the road or flip off motorists. They don’t know ’em, so how does it matter?

But isn’t this behavior the most telling of one’s character? Doesn’t this devil-may-care attitude and crassness online reflect on who they are as a person more than anything else? The internet just brings out their true nature. This is the real them — callous, close-minded, narcissistic, stubborn men and women who refuse to acknowledge the existence of another perspective. They will argue to death with a stranger who “doesn’t matter,” so to speak, just to satisfy their egos.

And if you’re on the receiving end of such bashful commentary, what do you do? Do you also stoop to their level to show them who’s the man? Or do you take the high road?

It’s easy to get sucked into the rudeness spiral. But, just as in real life face-to-face confrontations, you control your actions online. Just as you wouldn’t flip off someone you know, just as you would tell someone being rude to you that it’s inappropriate and you don’t appreciate it — you ought to be the calm, rational, composed person online.

I’m not advocating taking crap from anyone, but don’t lose your decency.

You’re better than that.

Share

Also posted on Writers Rising.

10 Comments

Filed under Personal