Recently I had a chance to collaborate with Smriti Gautam on a project with subject that we share a mutual interest for- women and the overpowering emotions.
Here is a glimpse of a very strong emotion- insecurity, that women face often and how they deal with it or choose to live with it.
A birth mark that looks a lil’ uncanny A beauty spot in place revealing which feels funny Scars from the everyday battle called life Etched on my skin is my story. Gazing at the color- The pensive pigments and frivolous freckles I see myself from a stranger’s eyes The eyes with a shattering voice caging me in notions of beauty Peeping at the mirror- I stand, I quiver, I introspect A narrative of glory was written only to be trapped in qualms of unfortunate desire Alas! I cover most of it- Forging a smile attempting to embrace silence of my skin.
Days, weeks, months and years pass I question who am I- I discover many talents and some experiences worth tooting Only. If only, I had the courage to stand tall with no fear of those wretched eyes and unkind voices Alas! I stand covering myself in a piece of cloth constantly feeling naked. The day I break away from the chains of being wanted The moment I learn to savour my unconventional beauty That day shall my skin recite the glorious tale of “becoming” Till then I’ll stumble upon zones beyond comfort wishing to nurture who I am.
A big thanks to Smriti Gautam and all the lovely ladies who shared a piece of themselves and their stories with us.
Not one not two- there stood a queue never-ending Each one splendid with joy Holding a spot for the friend beloved- For a gathering dressed down- a little too rugged Ushering the loved ones gleaming with joy What was the occasion! I could only wonder as a passerby.
Curiosity led me to the front of the line Whilst I heard the intense remarks of a day being gracious Oh to my surprise! It was a celebration Oh to my dismay! An ill served meal was the occasion . Hungry stomachs and tired hearts were being fed But what happens to the day that comes next?
Coins scarcely managed for a day of survival Shall now be kept aside for a daughter’s dowry dragged till the law-approved age Or even better saved for a son’s education Empowering him to work at a humble position in an office barely fancy- An upgrade worth aspiring from the startling slums! With dreams being fuelled- indeed, the meal was scrumptious.
The roses on earth are colored pink, yellow and white Somehow it is always the red that them people crave- Layered and beautiful, tender yet fierce Erotically scarlet- so has he been told The cupid struck the arrow But he understands not Not blind, but colorblind- The rose he sees is not red.
Two people meeting together, At times even ‘some’ becoming one The usuals, straights, queer, extraterrestrial what not- All the glitters, butterflies, drama and hate The cupid knows what did he create But he feels not.
The magic in the air, a spell hard to get rid of Red flags decorated as dainty- A little too in love to ignore A sweet disaster worth the taste, a tempting high worth the chase The cupid sees the forbidden fruit But he desires not.
Alas! I can’t paint a soiree With Victorian costumes and gestures that speak of grandiose The year being twenty-twenty-one, It’s just four people; and three screens. Living in time zones with different days and nights Measuring distance in kilometers- and also miles Each day they try to stay together Haha- to no surprise failing miserably. But tonight it is special The siblings laugh at their usual banters- For they have learnt to put away the dullness quite adroitly, The mother asks them to come back home just like each day- Not for too long; may be just a visit till new memories are created for her to hold on But tonight it’s the father who imparts new and the unknown He sheds a tear of joy And reveals that he stands tall with pride, acknowledging the two kids who try to now be adults May be, it is the empty glass of whiskey beside the vacant dinner table The two children: unaware, awkward and shy- Gleam for a moment with joy- untill they return to their usual banters and frivolous complaints The year being twenty-twenty-one It’s just four people; and three screens- And a million emotions that timidly scream.
Victim of gadgets and networks Funny, how we think of flowers, trees and birds chirping- A foliage from mountains and waves from unknown seas drift right across the bittersweet memory lane Days pass by- A few with new learnings A few with breath afresh A few with just breaths.
Meaning or none; Feelings or some Time- it doesn’t cease From bud- to flower- to withered remnants all lost in blink of an eye We try to heal from “wounds of actions” Only to find ourselves etched with “scars of experience” Creations once brimming with youth Narrations now by voices forever tired A medley of gallantry: no, I am not certain A hum of survival: a lullaby before I say the final goodbye.
Oh no! This isn’t a sight the artists would paint pretty But the one the poets would run away from in search of peace Yet the writers would love to stumble upon the chaos- For the “rush” that inspires an early mid-life crisis or a moral turmoil once in a while. I might speak otherwise, but the city- it has my heart; Born here- you’ll never realise the difference Travel a step or two: within this city you’ll come across abundant hues. The roads here are always rushing The streets crave for pin drop silence- Alas! All they accomplish is pitch dark corners; Harbouring a new crime or conning a judge for an event soon to be deemed “historic”. History here once was a matter of gallantry and pride- Memoirs of war heroes; battles- now merely “narrated scars”, Monuments standing tall and wide; Crossroads named after idols who once had a future bright But how come the present is dusted with a “phenomenon” called smog? Is it a roof over head for those who are “forced” to sleep beneath the stars on the umpteen footpaths? Men and women torturing each other inside homes, keeping themselves vocal But no one to raise a voice against the unjust! Oh yes! Communities for festivities and fancy parties But in times of hardship are we all alone? I might speak otherwise, but does the city have my heart?
Did a few words ever brought you close to someone? Did they make you feel understood enough to communicate your feelings one more time and then another till it finally became a common abode for the both of you? Do you remember mumbling those few words (most of which were mere sounds) only your mother could make sense out of until you gradually learnt to form nonsensical sentences which were a cluster of random words? This was all happening in your mother tongue and slightly in English if you hail from an “educated” Indian family. As you grew up you still were struggling to pronounce your words right and absorbing more of those in your evolving memory so that you could communicate with clarity. With time, experience and adequate nutrition develops mind, physique and personality. This also leads to emotional and perceptive growth in turn enabling you to express your individual self as well as identification within a social group. Does language play an eminent role throughout? Remember entering teenage and creating your own jargon with a bunch of friends while the teacher emphasized on “minding your language”? Also, the schools made an attempt that you developed an extensive vocabulary and got the “English” grammar just right. We were told to speak in English, watch English movies and develop a habit of reading English books while the mother tongue was a havoc and led to “fine” or even deduction of a few marks/ credits here and there. Subconsciously, we were taught that English was a superior language. But what was determining this hierarchy? Who were the people influencing our mindset even with the presence of abundant diversity in the Indian heritage? Being a British colony did hit us hard but after that we had enough time to embrace our own culture! Yet we are awed by the Western lifestyle. The need for globalisation has made it necessary to share information via a mutual medium but that never meant for us to start demeaning our own regional ethnicity.
The early men started communicating using gestures which were accompanied with the sounds they made. It was slowly and gradually that the words were formulated. Scripts and grammar were created much later. Languages continue to evolve even today especially its vernacular attributes. This was happening simultaneously all across the world amidst the primitive civilizations. Now the modern man can easily learn languages that belong to a different country while sitting at home itself. He can improve his skills by talking to the native speakers who volunteer online or wish to exchange knowledge about each other’s language. The media now is easier to access. It is appreciated to be multilingual. It opens up our mind and broadens are learning abilities further. It allows us to empathise with different cultures with regional literature as a powerful tool. But again, hierarchy and popularity of languages is extensively analyzed and understood before taking up a new one. Every time we visit a new place, especially the ethnographic researchers, the natives share more of their lives with us if we speak their tongue. This hints at the sudden sense of belonging that a mutual language generates. Also, have you ever grooved to the tunes of a song that wasn’t in a familiar language but still felt relatable? It shows that language is aided with expressions and emotions that need to be conveyed. A language may not be that easy to decipher and would require linguistic professionals, however it is an extremely powerful tool to share all those beautiful thoughts in our head using the innumerable precious words.
Been stuck in a room; now for a while? The windows are at a stand still, The curtains flutter towards the familiar edges, The walls- they wouldn’t move The fan hums in an absurd harmony while the roof reeks of monotony- Truth be told, the time has come Try and take heed beyond that stubborn door.
Been trapped in a city full of lights; now feels like a lifetime? The road is drenched with noise The flicker of the red light glitters; Yet it doesn’t appease the one in your eyes The sky is dawned with dusk The pace now depraves the lust for the details- Truth be heard, the time has come Try and find peace in a lover’s arms.
Been loved like never before, now for an eternity? The walk- the talk- the fears- the tears- Lived through them all The fun and games have been left behind Curiosity now pays the debt of adapting; The stories aren’t wicked anymore, Just crooked with yet another encore Truth be felt, the time has come Try and stop being a slave to your inner boredom.
After years of dodging; every occasion with a more bitter excuse Finally came a day when somehow the visit just couldn’t be refused From far away, that house in village stood still and tall Now haunted with lifelessness On inside did it suddenly grow small? Or was it the memory of it that brimmed with grandeur? The windows creak The walls reek Spiders smile weaving a trap of nostalgia The garden once full of roses and lemons is now musty; Haunted by emptiness somehow braved through my grandmother’s beliefs- Evident by the statue of Shiva I remembered since I could remember; Survived lessons from my cousins teaching me to play games- While I stood there being timid, young and shy.
Monkeys in the yard My aunt’s smirky remarks Talking to uncles altogether a hurdle- I knew I never would fit in there, Now affirmed. Yet the lullaby from past lingered longer Singing to me of a wish why did I let go so easy- So early at an age so tender! Alas! Now it is too late to return Only reminscence, what hath been done cannot be undone.
Dear ALMOST discarded clothes, They say vanity is shallow yet turn to it for rescue when in vain. We are made to believe that work, career and money are supposed to be the primary priorities and attire is completely secondary or even a little beneath that. But aren’t these secondary objectives the reason to prioritize the more meaningful ones? We experience that intellect stands with us throughout while beauty fades. But isn’t it because we let go a little too easy? Why can’t the two be in a symbiotic relationship? This is the reason for you adding colours in my wardrobe and my life. The humble garments with a varying touch of fabrics had brought an utopia of its own kind to me. You have allowed me to be flattered of who I am and made me believe that I can be whomever I wish to be. You have made me feel pretty when a guy would comfort me for being ugly and showed me the mirror when I was too overwhelmed with my bold sartorial experiments. Those floral bras have supported me when nothing else was in place! My mother’s saree draping me with her nurturing tenderness had inspired me to care a bit more. Those socks, scarves, mufflers borrowed from friends never really meant to be returned open the doors enabling me to relive the several thousand memories and remind me of how I have a part of them in my own persona. The brother’s T-shirts meant to be worn out in the gym have made me feel loved and empowered simultaneously. Dad’s shoes have always been too big to fit in. The sweater from ex-boyfriend would never go well with any of the dresses yet it lies somewhere in a corner, at times tearing me apart. You may never get the credit for standing through thick and thin with me but somewhere unknowingly and without any need for acknowledgement you were giving me reasons to take care of myself.
My mother had been asking me to get rid of you since ages but looks like I can’t let you go. You have been a part of my evolving personality since a child who didn’t care of what to wear to a snobbish teenager, a girl in her twenties trying every bit to be a lady, a woman in her thirties who would realize she now is a rebel, another one in her forties who would question was everything worth it, one in her fifties drenched in nostalgia of youth and in her sixties a little content with herself because- she would have seen it all. How would bidding goodbye not be a matter of heartbreak? The time changes and so does the trend. Even if I choose to be a fashion laggard in the name of “experimental fashion”, you don’t fit me anymore. Hence, there is no way I can style you any further. Don’t worry, I won’t let you suffer with my younger cousins even when I am bombarded with the idea of responsible sustainable fashion as a trick reminder by my mother. I apologize for the times when I demeaned you and chased after the ones in stores and online even when you were in the best of condition. Sorry for differentiating amongst you based on brands. Sorry for thinking that you were not enough at times. My dad has blamed you for wastage of money but secretly you were giving me lessons on how to save for a reason. No matter how old we grow, howsoever we ignore each other I’ll always love you and know that you’ll always be there for me even if it has to be a different silhouette or a new form altogether. Love, The girl you own.