Memories..

Tiny flakes of the past, frozen on my window panes ,
Withered flowers of love adorn the parched land of my soul,
Eyes full of tears, I meekly gazed into nothingness…
Painful silence piercing and shredding my conscience,
I stood all alone, reminiscing the warmth of good old days,
Weary finger tips tightly clasping those tiny pieces of memories,
I’m just a vintage soul trapped in the rusty cages of time,
Broken, mangled and racked with guilt that seeps into my fault lines…
Fluttering to escape into the horizon, miles away from these memories that rip me apart..

Image courtesy: Google

Fatima Shiekh – A forgotten warrior

During the tiresome times of grave exclusion,  when the women and Dalits were tyrannized within the four walls of their houses, fettered by the iron chains of patriarchy and upper caste domination , brutally forced into the anonymity of second class citizenship , Fatima Shiekh , a relentless Indian woman stood up for their rights. Her persistent questioning and consistent efforts culminated into a revolution led by the downtrodden against the privileged. Despite igniting a historic war for rights, the story and struggles of Fatima Shiekh still remains in the fringes of history.

Fatima Shiekh was a reformer  and the first Muslim woman teacher in India who brought, the light of education into the dark corners of a regressive society. Born into a lower class family of Maharashtra, Fatima had to fight the hurdles of caste, class and gender discrimination throughout her life. Fatima and Savitribai Phule started educating a small group of girls in Pune reinvigorating the fight against social evils. She and her brother Usman Sheikh readily housed Jotirao Phule and Savitri Bhai Phule when they were ousted from their home for waging a war against the upper caste domination and patriarchy. Along with the Phules , Fatima laid the foundation stones of the first ever  all-girls school and an Indigenous Library in 1848, rocking the very substratum of a marginalised society.

Both Savitribai and Fatima speared the task of imparting education amongst the deprived. They introduced the little minds to the rational world of science, maths and social studies encouraging them to break out from the monolithic moulds. In spite of severe opposition , bitter sanctions, hurls of insults and humiliations from the mainstream,  Fatima refused to budge from the path she had chosen. She kickstarted a mass sensitisation campaign, knocking every door, publicizing the significance of education and kindling the light of empowerment. She argued that the benefits of education must seep down to every layer of the society. The efforts of these reformers formed the Satya Shodhak Samaj , an organisation that seeked truth for the underprivileged. Unfortunately, after 1956, Fatima gingerly faded away from limelight, leaving a legacy for the generations of warriors to follow.

Fatima Shiekh fought for an anti caste, egalitarian society, shacking every glass ceiling on the way. She embodied the true spirit of feminism and stood unflinching against societal paradigms. Her efforts cast lingered echoes about the endless struggle for dignity led by the downtrodden. In 2014, a brief part of her life was incorporated into the Urdu textbooks of Maharashtra. Due to the absence of ample written accounts on her life, Fatima’s story still remains buried in history awaiting due recognition.

 

She’s rising!

the contours of innocence pervading through her ebony eyes,
the oiled strands of dark brown curls slithering her greasy countenance,
the ages of suffering, fear and pain vanishing into a mirage behind her footsteps,
past the shadows that scream of tortures she endured,
gently stroking the wounds that scream of the torment she survived,
Embodying the agony of her tribe, the hopeless lives that toil behind the wretched cage bars of patriarchy, she’s rising!
She’s rising, crushing the manacles that clamp her down into a life of submissiveness,
She’s rising, from the ashes of bitter memories to pave way for every enslaved soul into the paradise of boundless freedom,
She’s rising, to face the rays of hope, breaking out from the hard crusts of tomorrow…

Where humanity fails…

“There is no glory in the battle worth the blood it costs..”

It has been almost a month since the Russian forces stormed into Ukraine, blatantly overstepping the international laws and inflicting a catastrophe into the civilian lives. The war is a clear failure of humanity and a painful testament to the fact that in spite of all these decades of modernisation, we still hurry to grasp the guns before we can sit and talk things out. The blood stained lessons from those great wars have taught us nothing…We, still have reached nowhere … As the war intensifies, a cloud of grave human rights crisis , looms large on the horizon.

The nerve numbing scenes of destructed cities, empty strollers, badly injured civilians hold a mirror to our shared humanity. From the onset of this war, millions are fleeing across the borders only to end up as refugees in alien lands, looking up anguishly into their bizarre future. As their cities are bombed into molecules of nothingness, horror is creeping into every home leaving the citizens without lives and livelihoods. Theatres, libraries, public buildings and museums are turning into graveyards, reminiscent of a dark past. Gunships are fluttering through the air, targeting hospitals and schools, foisting death and destruction all over.A war that was initially deemed as a walkaway, has been stretching over weeks as it failed to annex the resilience of Ukrainians. The impatient Russian forces are now utilising every avenue on their way to capture the war torn country.

Image Courtesy: Google

The officials who seat themselves comfortably in airconditioned rooms miles away from the outcries of the battlegrounds, are still busy discussing, the cold realisation that peace is still a distant dream hits hard on the Ukrainian lives.. International actors have chosen to remain silent, witnessing this grave injustice seeping across borders. But now, it is imperative for the countries round the globe to join their hands and strongly advocate themselves against this war to prevent any further loss of life. A mass response is extremely essential against these war crimes to prevent an impending genocide.

After all the chaos, only a pyrrhic victory will be etched in history and when the dust settles down, what will be left behind in the battlefields would be innumerable mutilated corpses and tears that can never dry up… There are still “lives” infected with fear, breathing heavily, behind those blasted windows and dwindling walls… Innocent souls are still hiding in fear inside narrow bunkers, ancipating help..They have had enough… Their future is now in our hands #Notowar

Dear Women,

Dear Women,

Those curls and curves, those wrinkles and scars can maketh you a boundless beauty. Those flaws and falls, those defeats and debacles will funnel strength into you…Crush the manacles, take to air and live your life without boundaries. Break those glass ceilings and dream unto limitlessness. Set yourself free, warrior !

The struggles and pains of motherhood, the sacrifices, selflessness and scars of mothering will embed in you an enormous audacity . But after those sleepless nights and tiresome days of nurturing, please don’t forget to nurture yourself. With innumerous responsibilities and obligations when you hurdle down in life and dampen your spirits, please don’t forget to slow down and breathe…Set yourself free, queen!

You are an epitome of grace and compassion but never let anyone or anything ever override your choices. When you hit the lows of life, make sure you fall gracefully and build in yourself the audacity, to rise up from the ashes. Why be a damsel in distress, when there is a battle to be fought? Let’s take up the armour and lead the battalion. Set yourself free, brave heart!

The strength of your resilience can never be taken for granted…Endure nothing at the cost of your self respect, nothing can ever be worthy of your dignity. Your emotions and feelings aren’t anybody’s play toys hold your heads up and strom ahead. Your imperfections are to be embraced and your wildness is to be gracefully embodied… Please don’t let anything ever suffocate your dreams. Take the falls and flaws in your stride, and emerge with a roaring success. Set yourself free, invincible!

We, the different shades of women hood encompassing courage, compassion, grace and audacity. This women’s day let’s celebrate them all…more power to you, girls!! We got this!

Netaji Subash Chandra Bose

Give me blood And I will give you freedom

A Clarion call that revoked deep sense of patriotism in the Indian minds, that continues to kindle the spirit of nationalism in the minds of millions. Subash Chandra Bose, was a fearless warrior, a true revolutionary and an insightful statesman, his boundless thirst for freedom earned him a cult of strong-willed patriots. The chequered life of Netaji and his contributions to Indian freedom struggle, are ought to be remembered.  

Born into prosperity, in the land of Orissa Netaji was an academically brilliant student right from the beginning. His strong patriotism is said to have blossomed in those days. In spite of nailing the civil services he chose fighting for the nation above a well-paid British government job. As the seed of nationalism sowed by Mahatma Gandhi sprouted in Netaji, he joined the Congress and the Indian Nationalist movement. Netaji worked tirelessly, body and soul in igniting the spirit of nationalism throughout the length and breadth of the country. Despite stark ideological differences with the top Congress bosses, Netaji paved himself the way up to the Congress presidentship. The disagreements later shaped into the creation of forward bloc within the Congress. The immense popularity, Netaji heralded and the revolutionary ideas he propagated frightened British into imprisoning him eleven times during his heydays. Bose led the spirit of nationalism beyond the shores of the nation, he utilised his foreign associations to organise a military struggle against the British in the form Indian National Army. INA resonated with Netaji’s ideals as it encompassed warriors from all walks of life, breaking the boundaries of religion, caste and gender. The Rani Jhansi regiment of INA comprised of strong, empowered women who chose to rise up from the virtual anonymity of second-class citizenship, underpinning gender equality. Netaji cherished and nourished the dream of the day when freedom, touches the peripheries of our nation. He spearheaded the Indian Independence Movement in east Asia backed by the Japanese army. Despite sweating blood, he couldn’t fulfil the objective of Azad Hind completely. Japanese army’s failure sealed the fate for INA. Many INA soldiers were captured by the and were produced to trial. On a dreadful 18th August, Netaji boarded a Japanese airplane heading to South East Asia, in the midst of the journey a fateful plane crash brought an end to the valiant life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Fate snatched away a fearless warrior from the battle. Netaji left us, leaving behind a legacy to follow and a void that can’t be filled.

The lack of ample recordings in the history textbooks, doesn’t dull the charm and zeal of Netaji’s journeys. In spite of his fatal untimely disappearance, the aura and charisma Netaji radiated continues to set the sails for many. Through a life of deep commitment to the motherland, audacity to fight the odds and readiness for invaluable sacrifices Netaji imprints himself in the hearts of every patriot.

Cracking the gender prisms !

Days before, a Higher Secondary School in Kerala made it’s way to the lime light implementing a historic decision to introduce gender neutral uniform for all the students. While many came forward accolading the historic move, some voiced strong disapproval terming the decision ” a concreted attempt to instil liberalism into the children.” In spite of this feud, the students warmly welcome the change and are daring to crack the narrow gender prisms.

Authorities point out that majority of the students weren’t comfortable in the conventional uniform. Many girls reportedly refrained from participating in sports and games due to the discomfort they faced while wearing skirts. The new uniform aims to render children more independence and encourage participation in sports. But the decision received severe backlash from many corners. Protestors claimed that the uniform was forcibly imposed on the students and the new uniform was highly inappropriate for girls. The critics also claimed that the idea of gender neutrality attempts to squash the congenital differences between the genders and foist male identity upon females in the name of equality. The officials repeat that the decision was entirely democratic with the parent’s support and none of the students were forced to wear the new uniform, they are given enough liberty to make necessary amendments in their attires at their own discretion.

Going back in time, people in the ancient civilisations wore garments such as skirts, tunics and shawls regardless of their gender. This continued with minor differentiations, through out the Middle Ages although social status was closely associated with the clothes. The practice of binding gender to clothes evolved later with time, further enhanced from the 16th century. Still, clothes do not have any innate gender, it is imparted as we see them through the social lens. The new decision enables the children realise, they are equals regardless of their gender and can grow up to be responsible individuals, mature enough to not judge a person by what they wear. This is indeed a historic step towards blurring the socially defined boundaries and dismantling the forcefully injected gender roles. Children now will get exposed to equal opportunities to learn and seek the world, this may eventually pave way for an egalitarian future. Moreover, gender neutral uniforms highly benefit the transgender students as it makes the journey towards unveiling their identity less complicated.

The term sex connotes the intrinsic biological differences among people while the term gender refers to the socially created roles and behaviours. Gender neutrality doesn’t aim to undermine the diversity of individuals or homogenise the sexual identities instead focuses on blurring the socially created margins. In fact gender neutrality clearly aims to embrace each and every shade of sexual identities. The inflexible and fixed characterisations as well as social expectations need to be countered, the future must give primacy to individual fabric freeing he, she and them from the narrow obstinate social identity boxes.

Students must be provided an opportunity to choose what they wear, according their own personal comfort and walk independently. Clothing should be strictly an individual choice, comfort being the only parameter. If boys feel comfortable wearing skirts and girls wearing shirts, why do we restrain them?

Let our education system be able to engrain equality into the future leaders and foster them to crack the glass ceilings towards a limitless future ! Together let’s create a better tomorrow.

Corruption Free India !

“If corruption is a disease, transparency is the essential part of its treatment.” – Kofi Annan.

The widely acclaimed democracy that thrives in India is recurrently placed under the threat of a serious menace that exists in our country since the time immemorial – corruption. It is not just the fragile laws but also the complex interplay of social forces, ideological biases and wide attitudinal anomalies that render the dream of a corruption free India loom like a chimera on the horizon.

Even after seven long decades after independence, India still faces rampant corruption at various levels, almost all the efforts in this thread have proved nearly ineffective in slackening the danger corruption poses to the democratic machinery that exists in our country. The opaque functioning of the bureaucracy and the lack of accountability often leave the citizens in dark, contributing to corruption.

The weak rule of law and absence of speedy judicial actions against this malady further aggravates the problem. Today corrupt officials demand bribes not only to execute illegal activities but also to get licit activities done on time. The social fabric of our country that encompasses deeply embedded social economic disparities couples with the tolerance of majority of the citizens to bribery and corrupt officials thus leading to the sweeping of this issue under the carpet time and again. Furthermore, the Indian education system fails to mould the next generation into responsible citizens and impart significant values in them instead limits the future leaders to a nerve wrecking rat race where only grades and narrow self interests matter.
Corruption can undermine the fairness of institutions and even distort the welfare policies of the state. It can shape a culture of impunity where human rights are recklessly flouted and inequality thrives comfortably. Presence of corruption may severely affect the vulnerable sections of the population including women and the downtrodden sections. Such rampant spread of corruption will contribute to public scepticism and endanger the legitimacy of the administrative setup in a country.
Large scale comprehensive strategy that engirdle accountability, transparency and stringent laws can only uproot corruption from the Indian soil. Powerful weapons like the right to information and freedom of expression are quintessential in this battle against corruption. Empowering the public to voice themselves and report the corrupt officials will also mould a democratic culture which will weed away this malady from our country
“If a country needs to be corruption free and become a nation of strong minds I feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference, they are father, mother and a teacher.” These are the words of A.P.J Abdul Kalam. Corruption is indeed a cancer that is gingerly spreading its tentacles in each and every layer of our society, it’s quite imperative for a democracy to eliminate corruption and ensure quality life chances for its citizens. Let us begin the fight against corruption, from the precincts of our homes and vow to act as responsible citizens. The road to a corruption free India is indeed coarse but it is not untravellable. With a strong legal framework and an effective civilian participation we will be able to materialize that dream in the near future.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a simple and heart wrenching story that revolves around the lives of two Afghan women Laila and Mariam which will touch your spirits like never before. Khaled Hosseini has beautifully spun the poignant tales of many Afghan lives encompassed with love ,hope ,terror and resilience against the turbulent events in the political arena of the valley.

The story opens up with Laila, an innocent and adorable nine year old who is born as an illegitimate child of a well off business man Jaleel. She refuses to believe her mother’s stories of sufferings and is untouched by the grave realities of life. Her world turns upside down as her mother commits suicide. Soon is forcefully married off to a 45 year old conservative business man Rasheed.

Pic courtesy: Google

Mariam’s martial life begins almost well but takes a terrifying turn as she suffers from repeated miscarriages and thus gets subjected to immense torture and violence from Rasheed. The agony of Mariam’s story is then followed by the warmth of Laila’s exuberance. Born to a well educated, liberal father Laila dreams beyond the horizon. She lives a happy life with her parents and childhood mate Tariq. But a Taliban bombing upturns her life leaving her orphaned and terribly injured. Hearts aching, minds overwhelmingly desolated we’ll find ourselves deeply impassioned by the terrible fate of both these women but Khaled has more in store. Laila agrees to marry Rasheed, only to hide a shocking secret and is abhored by Mariam. She too is soon subjected to immense mental and physical torture at the hands of Rasheed. Khaled’s characters are all deeply layered and portrayed in shades of grey.

The story highlights the gender discrimination and patriarchal societal paradigms throughout. Khaled’s language is simple, but it can shred your conscience into a million pieces. As you turn to the last page, what fills your eyes is not tears alone, a fire is lit within. The volatile Afghan political history and its effects on the lives of innocent citizens is brilliantly portrayed. Mariam and Laila epitomizes the resilient Afghans who live through the dark ages with the lantern of hope.

Yoku Yatta !

As the Paralympic flame went out last day, our hearts were full of all the joys of spring. India had showcased its best ever performance, winning an incredible haul of 19 medals and setting an unparalleled history. Our Paralympic heroes fought all their hurdles gallantly, giving a befitting reply to all those who ridiculed and humiliated them. When each one of them stepped on to the podium, holding high the tricolour, all our hearts squeaked with pride and joy, arigato, Tokyo!

Better than the best: Meet India's 19 medallists at Tokyo Paralympics 2020  | Sports News,The Indian Express
Pic courtesy: Google

India’s paralympics campaign is indeed awe-inspiring. The stories of our champions encompasses blood, sweat and tears embedded in boundless hope. In spite of facing life’s dreadful challenges, they clung on to optimism and faith, and emerged with wings of fire from the ashes of life.

The star of the campaign was indeed, Avani Lekhara who marvellously clinched a gold and a bronze becoming the first Indian woman to win multiple medals in the same game, all at the tender sweet age of 19 ! She brilliantly fought back all the catastrophes and challenges life flung at her. Sumit Antil left us all star struck as he broke the world record thrice back to back and bagged gold for his country. He is truly an incarnation of resilience. Bhavinaben Patel created yet another remarkable history by winning India’s first silver medal in table tennis. The morbidity that confined her to wheel chair was left speechless as she fought tooth and nail to prove her mettle.

Our Paralympians have set an example for generations to follow. They are all indeed personifications of resilience and determination. Their victory is a huge lesson for the human kind. As we are facing a deadly pathogen, they have taught us to hold on tight and fight tirelessly till the end .

As the spectacular Paralympians return home with their heads up, a dazzling history is set, the radiant sun of hope is on the horizon. Yokku Yata, Warriors !!

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