Beyond the Gender

Scene 1: My youngest sister was born and though I was very happy to hold her and play with her, there was a silence on my grandparents’ side with the third daughter being born in the family. Childbirth is an important celebration in the family and apart from the parents, there is only one community who celebrates the arrival of a child in this world; irrespective of the gender and they are the transgenders, the third gender.  And they have the best network to find out which family has had a recent addition and they come along to celebrate at your doorsteps. It is considered highly auspicious and you will find people welcoming them on such special occasions.

It was about 2 weeks after my sister’s birth, when they arrived at my house and they were very happy to see my mother. They immediately came in and hugged my mother. Mother invited them inside and they sat in the living room. Sharing their joy on the good news, one of them went to the bed room and picked up my sister. In no time, she realised that she was a girl. They brought her into the living room and congratulated my mother. My mother lovingly offered them tea and snacks. They held me and my sister in their arms and showered their love.  After finishing tea, they got up and were about to leave. My mother asked, won’t you dance today to celebrate? They smiled at her and said, why not? But we won’t take anything as it’s your third daughter. My mother replied, I don’t care what others think, I am happy that she is born and I am celebrating and so should you.

And I will give you whatever I can to seek your blessing for my daughter’s future. She immediately went inside and got sacks of ration and some cash and gave it to them. They were hesitant at first but then got up Asha, who started dancing with joy and then everyone joined her. Asha, whose skin shone like gold, wonderfully draped in a red saree adorned with loads of gold jewellery and a beautifully done make-up. They all were beating their dhols and danced at length and the entire block was down at our home to see them dancing and having fun.

I was mesmerised by the aura they created. It was a true celebration full of dance, music, and laughter and a day to remember. After they left, I walked up to my mother and asked, Maa, why did she wear vermilion right up to the top of her head, a symbol which represents that she was married as per Indian traditions?” and why doesn’t Asha feel like a eunuch to me?  My mother replied because she is not. I was completely surprised and taken aback that why would someone, who is not a part of the community is with them and leading their life with them as their own.

Then my mother explained the story. My mother had a relationship with this clan which used to go back as old as 10 years. Their community was behind a building where my parents were staying at one point in time. They use to often celebrate the festivals and the special occasions together. Mother always used to share savouries with them and treated them with love and respect and that’s what she got in return too. During my mother’s second pregnancy when she was visiting doctors, she used to drop me there and they used to take care of him. They ensured I was well fed, well slept and well taken care of. And maybe that’s why I always have love and respect for this community as sub-consciously I have seen them being treated as a family myself and by my mother.

Scene 2: Sardar, who was the leader of the clan was highly respected and regarded as not just the head but the father too by every member of the clan. Sardar too used to treat everybody as a part of his own family and gave love and support. He was a very effective leader. He was running this clan as an organisation, where he would ensure that the community is earning money from respectable occasions and events in life such as childbirth, marriages so that the community is well fed and is getting all the necessary items for them live a happy and respectable life. He had rescued many people from prostitution and brought them into the community so that they are having a safe and have a better life. But hell broke loose, when Sardar got sick. It may be due to his old age and in spite of getting the best treatment he could afford; things were not getting better for him. This was a dark phase for the community as they were not sure of their future. Who will lead after he is gone and who will take care of the community and give them the same life which they have been living with loads of love and respect; were the questions rattling everyone’s mind but had no body had an answer to it?

So, one day Raza, one of sardar’s friend came to meet him. He had been with him the entire day and nobody had an idea what was going inside. People started having speculations that Raza, is going to be the new leader now. But, they also had their apprehensions and he didn’t know this community and will he be able to run it lik sardar did? In the middle of the night, Asha was called. He told her that he was not sure for how long he’s going to be around and wanted to share a secret with her before he dies. This was something weighing him down and was not letting him die at peace. Asha was a little girl, just stepping into her teenage. She was sardar’s daughter and sardar had taken her along everywhere he went. She had learnt how to get jobs for her people, how to ensure that they are not being cheated and are paid fairly for the services they provided. She has always been a shadow to her father and was loved by the entire community for the love and respect she has given back to them. With tears rolling her cheeks, Sadar got up and hugged her tightly. She could feel the heartbeat of her father and his oh! so frail body, which has just holding up to say something. Something which was untold of and unheard of.  

Sadar told her that, one day he received a call to come and celebrate the child birth in a house. He said it was most unfortunate call he ever received. He reached there the next day and started dancing and celebrating like he was asked to. Everything was fine when the women were around but once, they were tired and went inside, things turned dark and ugly. Some members of the family drank too much and started playing around with them. They started shoving things into their mouth, touching them inappropriately, beating them and made them dance entire night. Whoever tried to escape, they tried to rape them. That made Sardaar very furious and the inability to fight it all back, made him truly miserable. He filled everyone’s glasses to the brim and ensure that they pass out. Once everybody passed out, he decided to carry that girl along with his people. Initially he only thought that taking her along, will bring her people to an understand and realise the mistakes they have done and they would come and apologise to his people but it turned the other way.

The next day he got to know that the girl’s father, who was the police commissioner was torturing and beating everybody from the community to find his daughter. They had burnt his home and had beaten all of his friends to death. Raza, his best friend somehow escaped to find sardar and informed him of what was going on? With all his intentions, to return the daughter, sardar was now being feared to be killed. Raza, could have never let that happened to his only childhood friend and he took him to the railway station.  Sardar simply took the next train and he had no idea when he was going and he reached out to this place where he was currently residing. He was easily spotted by the clan the railway station and was brought back home and given a place and shelter to stay which ultimately, he made his own.  

But something had changed in that one incident and now he held a girl in his arms. That made him think of having a family, having his kid. He started bringing up Asha like his own daughter and give all the love of the father and the mother. Asha did not ever realise that she was a girl until today when it was revealed by Sardar. With guilt in his eyes, Sardar told her that he was willing to give her the address of a parents and she can go back to them and he was very sorry for what he did but he simply could not overcome the fear of losing his daughter but now that he was leaving this world he wanted to leave with no hidden secrets in his heart. Asha was broken and she didn’t know what to do now. All her life, she had known sardar to be her father and the clan to be her family. How could she leave all of this and go somewhere which she is not sure of? Also, what will happen to this clan, which sardar treated like of his own family and with him gone it’s going to be very difficult for them to survive. They will resort back to begging and prostitution which is going to affect them mentally and physically which was never the case, with Sardar around. She kept on thinking and then finally the moment and I wish she was called inside for last words with father.

Asha held his hand into hers and told that she doesn’t know who gave her birth but she knows that who her father and mother is and who has taken care of her all through her life and now she knows who her family is? She promised him to take care of this family and never let the people lose respect and lose their lives to the cruelty to this society. She promised him to always make them stick together. Sardar had a smile of satisfaction on his face while he took taking his last breath and also somewhere, he was sure that no matter what, she will be able l to take care of the clan even after he is long gone. Asha was announced as his successor and she stood in front of everyone with her blood-stained skirt, hidden by Raza standing right behind her. He made sure that none could see the bloodstains on her clothes so that her identity is not revealed unless the clan is ready to accept her for who she is. It was a tender age of 13 when she took over and till date, she has kept the values and dignity of the clan as it was with Sardar.

And now I understood, why did she wear vermilion for? As she was married to the clan, left behind by her father. I was wondering, that she took so much of sacrifice to keep the clan alive as it was easier for her to go back to her parents and be with them. But, she chose to be here and I think that is the true sense of service, something very rare to find.

The story has been registered under screen writers association of India!

Time changes and so do People!

I opened the door, and Ma entered the house in a furious mood. She sat on the sofa and started saying “How can she?”, “How can she say that about my daughter?” Is she blind? I had no clue of what had happened and looking at her mood, I didn’t even dare to ask.

I took my sister around the corner, who happened to be the live witness of the incident and asked her about what happened that evening? And here is the narration:

Mom went to meet her friend (It was one of those days when I was done with the final papers of my graduation and expecting results).  So, my mom’s friend asked, “when is she planning to get me married?”

[This is a classic question especially in a small town. If you have completed your higher education, then your ultimate goal in life should be to “Get Married”. And trust me, more than your family it’s the neighborhood who will be more worried about this, as if they are the ones who are going to sponsor your wedding or it’s them who is providing you food and shelter. Also, they will be having this very wrong notion that now the girl will start eyeing the guys in the vicinity (trust me, they won’t even qualify to be a driver to someone). Anyways, they will all take it upon themselves and start recommending a probable match for you. This is all cover-up. The real story is that they are interested in knowing if you are having an affair or are planning to elope with someone so that they can cook it like a snack and serve with their evening tea in their respective houses.]

Back to my mom’s discussion, she replied that my daughter wants to pursue her MBA and we are supporting her decision. Her friend replied, “But, your daughter is not fair and hence, you should start looking for a prospective groom so that by the time she completes her education, she will be having someone to get married to. According to my mom’s friend, it would take me about 2 years to find the right match (where she also included the multiple rejections on behalf of my skin color, so thoughtful). This is what made my mother furious, according to whom, I was fair and extremely beautiful (Trust me, you are the most beautiful only in your mother’s eyes. Every mother thinks so, can’t help it!)

Years passed and I am happily married, without a single rejection in my life. Few years back, I went to visit my parents and bumped into my mom’s friend while shopping. I was surprised to see her. She suffered from Leukoderma and had turned white. She was trying to hide behind her husband. My father pulled her and introduced her to my husband saying that “Meet my beautiful sister-in-law”. She responded back in a very sad tone. “I am beautiful no more”. And then my father said, “Look through my eyes, you are as beautiful as ever (and I am so glad that my father said that)”. Such is the irony of life, today she was the fairest of all and she didn’t like it.

l guess both of us learnt something that day 1. Color of the skin doesn’t matter, what matters is your behavior and 2. Sometimes, you say things which are influenced and not truly intended.

My father always admired her for the support and kindness she extended to our family in the later years and thought she is not around, my parents still remember her fondly. The way we treat our near and dear ones during tough times, is what makes the relationships strong. There should always be a place for forgiveness and gratitude in everyone’s life!

P.S: Please note that this post is not influenced by any current events playing in media.

A sacrifice like none…

Scene I: Heera came running. Holding his breath, he said, “They are coming”. These words sent a chill down ganga’s body and he immediately ran to stove and took a burning log. He pushed himself to the roof of his house and lit the flag on fire. 

 

Looking at the fire, the entire village started running around as if they had seen a ghost. It created a total chaos with people shouting, utensils clinking, children crying all earth-shattering moments. But, after sometime, the entire village was drowned in the sea of silence. It felt as if, there was an earthquake and now the entire village was dead. In that silence, there came the noise of neighing horses, laden carts and marching men. As the noise started growing stronger, few men gathered at Ganga’s house, while rest of the people stayed quietly in their respective houses guessing what was going to happen next. Everyone was praying to the almighty that this too shall pass. 

Ganga, along with few men was standing in his courtyard and was discussing his strategy on handling the current situation at hand. He was startled by a huge bang on his door. He took his lantern are walked to the door. He quietly opened it. Outside was a soldier dressed up in his uniform, completely drenched in water and his boots looked like they had been into mud for ages. He seemed exhausted yet firm with pride. He handed over a scroll to Ganga as an official order of being summoned by the second in command to meet him immediately. Hearing to the message, few other village men decide to go along. Holding their sticks and lanterns and manoeuvring the land washed by current rains, and fields full of crop, they reached to the camp. Ganga met second in command and offered his pleasantries, which got unnoticed. 

 

He was an Englishman, dressed in his tidy uniform with no single mark on it and his conduct made it look like he would have killed million people to be where he is today. He has holding a glass and informed Ganga that, while they were travelling to another state, they will take a halt in his village. He was pointed towards the lieutenant colonel made ganga and fellow men aware of how lucky they and their village were for being chosen as a place for the battalion to spend some time. He asked Gangato arrange for their stay and dinner immediately. 

 

Ganga’s heart sank. Now, he had to prepare food for about 700 people. He didn’t know how to make that possible and not doing so will have a wrath on his village and he could never let that happen. Understanding what was going in his people’s mind, he quietly started walking towards his home, thinking how will he be able to manage this? Reaching to the corner of his house, he bid farewell to the village men with an intention to keep them safe. 

 

After, entering his house, he started gathering the grains sack, firewood, spice box everything required to fulfil their demand.  He was startled again with a bang on the door. This time he was terrified to open it, thinking what will be their next demand? He gathered himself up and opened the door. Only this time, he was releived. All his friend had carried sacks of grains and whatever they could get from their respective homes on their back to support him. He was so happy. He asked some of his friend to help the battalion to lay out their tents and make fire to keep them warm in these rains. While many of them stayed at ganga’s house to help him preparefood. They made Puris, vegetables and Jalebi’s andloaded it in the bullock cart and pushed it to the Tents. They didn’t leave the place until each and every member of the battalion was served. They returned home but the fear of unknown could not let them sleep the entire night. Next morning, the policeman came with the same order. Ganga and his friend kept on serving them for few more days. 

 

During this time, the rains subsided and there was a bright sunny day. Then, about a team of 10 Englishmencame visiting to Ganga’s house. He was again awakened by the loud thud on his wooden door. The moment he reached out for the door, all of them came in rushing and in no time, his courtyard was full of Englishmen. They started by appreciating the good service they have been getting and were there to thank the people who cooked the meal for them every day. 

Ganga hesitatingly informed them that it was being cooked by him and his friends. They all started laughing and thought Ganga was making a joke. Ganga told them that the women had gone to their respective houses. They couldn’t believe this and started searching the entire house. All the rooms were full of grains, hay, farm produces but not a single woman in the house. Furious they threw everything in the courtyard and went to other houses in the village too but could find no women in the entire village. The village men started murmuring that the village was cursed for the women to stay with their men during a particular time of the year. After hearing this, they started kicking Ganga mercilessly to take out their frustration. Soon the village men started gathering in ganga’s house and after seeing this, they left ganga’s house. 

Scene II: While lying on the hay, on the roof of the cattle shed, Bimla, knew it was time now. The baby could come any moment. She was in huge pain but, had no one beside her during this time of labour. The one person she wanted by her side, was being kicked by few Englishmen right in the courtyard of the same house and she could do nothing about it. The pain of not being able to do anything for her husband was much bigger than the pain of having a baby but she had to keep the promise to she made to her husband that she has keep herself hidden, whatever it takes. 

 

With no support, she had no option but to give birth to her baby by herself. To keep her voice down during labour, she stuffed her mouth with her cotton saree and started pushing. She was drenched in her own sweat and blood all over and after a hardship of 25 minutes, she could pull out her baby. The moment she held him in her arms, she was delighted. She was praying to lord that all her pain was worth a sight of him. He was a symbol of her love and she would do anything to take care of him. But the happiness was short-lived. Soon, she realised that he was not crying. He was not moving, his eyes were shut and he was lying lifeless, drenched in his mother’s blood and tears. She started getting a sinking feeling as she just lost a piece of herself. Her heart started pounding, her breath was so fast. She wanted to cry loud for help, wanted to run to her husband to take the baby to the doctor but she couldn’t do anything at that moment or else Englishmen, who were standing at the courtyard will get to know where she is, which will mean death for her husband, rape and death for her and her house will be lit on fire and that would affect not just herself but entire village. She kept on holding the baby until the Englishmen left her house. Ganga pulled himself up and went to cowshed. The moment he saw his wife holding a baby. He was so happy. That was the best feeling he had ever got. He had forgotten all the pain; he had gone through. He sat near his wife, held her hand and kissed her forehead. She was sitting there like a stone. He pushed her but got no response. He took the baby in his hand only to realise what had happened. He was shaking and he had no words to express the pain he felt. He immediately grabbed his wife to his chest and then, she got the realisation of their loss. She started crying inconsolably. The news spread in the village and people started coming to ganga’s house to mourn his loss.

Scene III: Looking at the activity in the village, the soldiers took their horses and went into the village with few soldiers to find the truth. They forced themselves into Ganga’s house only to find it in the same state as they had left it in the afternoon. Ganga was sitting there with a wooden basket full of cow dung. He looked frail and lifeless. The soldiers stormed in every room to find what they earlier found. One of the soldiers signalledtowards the cowshed. They went inside only to find cattle and haystacks everywhere and came out immediately notwithstanding the smell.

Before leaving, they informed ganga that they will beleaving the village and so they did the very next day. With the English men, Ganga’s child was also gone but saving an entire village lying beneath the cow dung in that wooden basket.

 

I still remember her holding my hands during my childhood while narrating this story to me and telling me don’t let anyone take this freedom away from you. You have no idea what have we gone through to give you this freedom, where you can live your life and be yourself. Though she is no more on this world today, but I still feel the warmth of her hand over mine!

Bir and Soni

Excited about the results, Bir woke up. He freshened up and immediately rushed to buy the newspaper. He bought it and started screening the page hurriedly and there it was, on page no.7. His number was listed for the people who qualified. He was very happy holding that newspaper. He was selected for the government job, he was working so hard for and now, he knew his life was going to change for good. All his miseries weregoing to end and very soon he would start of life of comfort and happiness. He quickly packed and took the bus in the evening to go to his village to collect his joining notice. 

He reached early morning, and quietly entered the house with a big smile on his face. He was excited to break the news to his father. His father, Mr. Singh, was an extremely orthodox man and knowing about his son’s selection for government job made him insecure. Just the idea that his son being no more controlled by him, made him crazy. Instead of being happy, he took that letter and put it in the cooking fire, right in front of Bir’s eyes. He couldn’t understand his father’s behavior and was all heartbroken. Tears started rolling his eyes, but he didn’t have the courage to say anything against his father. So was Soni, Bir’s wife, who was standing holding the door of the room andlooking at the burning letter as her lost hope for her husband’s brighter future. 

 

However, there was still hope for Soni. After four and half years of staying way, she was soon going to be with her husband. Two days later, excited about her future, she was packing all that she’ll require to start a new life in this new city she was going to. While packing, she was smiling and thinking of how her life willchange for better. Her thoughts were disrupted as her father in law, Mr. Singh, entered the house like a storm. Everyone went into hiding in their respective rooms. He was furious to know that his elder son was taking his wife to the city with him. Mr. singh never approved of them starting a new life in the citytogether. He went to Sony’s room and got the box which she was packing to the courtyard of the house and scattered all her belongings in the dust. He yelled at Bir saying that, how could he dare to take his wife without his permission, and he would never let that happen. All the family members kept standing in the courtyard and no one spoke up. There a huge silence after he left. There was disappointment in everyone’s face, but no one had ever done anything against Mr. Singh’s wish. 

 

Looking at this, Soni went to her room crying and this time she was inconsolable. She had gone through all his cruelty all this time, thinking that sooner or later it will end, but this time it didn’t seem like ending ever. Bir with all his dreams shattered, stood at the sight like a stone but still he did not have the courage to speak anything against him. Sony kept on crying in her room and simply had no courage to express herself for she felt or what she wanted. After Mr. Singh left, Bir picked up everything from the floor, stuffed it in the box and brought it to his room. Now all her dreams shattered, Soni even didn’t want to look at that box and she went to the kitchen to make dinnerfor the family. Tears were rolling her cheeks and looking at fire reminded of all her burnt dreams and hopes in life. She went to bed with a very heavy heart and her eyes dozed off owing to the emotional storm she has gone through the day. 

 

Bir couldn’t sleep and was muddled in his pool of thoughts. His dreams and hope for his beautiful future were ready to leave him. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, he shook Soni up. Startled, she looked at him. He was standing in front of her with the box she packed. Before she could understand anything, he held her hand and signaled her to come along. Quietly they started walking towards the main door of the house. They kept their footsteps cautiously so that no one can get to know what they are upto. As they tried to open the main door, creaking sound of the wooden handle woke the servant of the house, Bhola who was lying on a cot near the door. He was shocked and stood up to see that Bir and Soni are standing in front of him. Both trembled with fear and didn’t know what to do with all the frightening thoughts in their mind. Bhola quietly open the door for them and sneaked them out. It was a dark winter night; chilly winds could make the person freeze and the sound of the wind could make the heart skip a beat. They started walking quickly as if they were running for their life without worrying about the darkness. After going to a  distance, they saw someone following them. Their heart froze. They started walking faster and then, they heard a sound. It was Bhola, who asked Bir to stop. Bhola offered to accompany them to the nearest bus stand.He knew the quickest route to get there. Realizing that Soni was shivering in the cold, Bhola offered his shawl. He waited with them till the dawn, until they got the first bus to the city. While waiting underneath that big peepal tree, everyone was drowned in their thoughts. Bir knew that now; he will have to let go of everything which he is entitled to from his parent’s house. His father will be greatly displeased and it may cost him this relationship, but there was no other way to ensure that his wife is happy and his kids are born at a place where they can get the right education, right upbringing and the right exposure for them to decide what is good for them. Bir knew that now; he will have to work harder and he will have to sacrifice a lot of things to ensure the comfort for his family and his future kids. 

 

Bhola was thinking about what his master will do once, he comes to know that he has accompanied Bir and Soni to the bus stand and has supported them in leaving the house. He may lose his job, but he more dreadful about the punishment, he may get from this cruel man. But he was happy as he knew, it was right thing to do. 

 

Soni was thinking about the challenges which they will have to face in future with her husband struggling for a job and the uncertainties in her life. But she knew that now, she has her life back and she can turn it the around the way she wants. 

They were all startled from their thoughts after the Bus arrived. Bhola helped them board it with a smile and his blessing. Bir and Soni not only took a bus that day. They started a new journey in life together, where they decided to ensure that they will give their children the future they deserve and make them capable who will be free to live their life, the way they wanted. After 15 months, Bir and Soni had a beautiful girl. I am the one.

Malati!

Malati

Do you know what is one of best things about Mumbai? It’s Mumbai Locals!

Locals are the lifeline of Mumbai. They are fastest means of transport which will take you to each and every corner of the city. But for me, more than a means of transport, it has been a diary full of amazing people, lovely experiences, great conversations, a place for shopping on wheels and much more.

Of many people I have met during my daily commute, I remember a special person and her name is “Malati”. She is a young lady, gracefully draped in cotton saris. She is tall, beautiful and with dark complexion, she is epitome of Indian beauty.  She has these big bright eyes, high cheek bones, her facial features are beautifully chiseled. Elements which draw your attention towards her are; her long mangal sutra (a sacred thread worn by Indian married women) and you can never see her without her flower garland neatly covering her bun. But, her best feature is her larger than life smile.

She use to take train from Mankhurd. She traveled every day to Byculla to sell vegetables. (If you are thinking, how come she used to get into general compartment? It was not her, it was me who used to travel in vendor compartment). She used to light up the compartment with her laughter form the moment she entered in. And, she will ask everyone for their well being. She would bring home made sweets on special occasions and share it everyone in the compartment.

One day, I was pleasantly surprised. The moment I got into the train, the compartment was painted in all the bright colors possible red, blue, green etc. It was a festival celebrated by married women, thanking the almighty for the amazing life partner and their blissfully married life. I don’t know how almighty came into picture but it did give them an opportunity to dress themselves up and have fun. All the married women were dressed in expensive saris and adorned layers of gold jewelry. Every one of them discussing the price of the silk sari they wore and the price of the jewelry they wore. Many of them could not contain their happiness in the glitters. It was total madness. Everyone got busy talking and sharing sweets or savories they had brought from their homes.

At Mankhurd, Malati entered the compartment. I thought she would have also dressed herself up like others. But, today something was different. There was nothing unusual about her regular self except for her smile. It was missing and today for the first time since I knew her, I saw her blank face. I wanted to immediately go and ask her if she was okay. Looking at my face, I think the lady sitting right next to me, Aruna aunty understood my feelings and stopped me from approaching her. Aruna aunty was very sweet to me. She had two daughters happily married and staying away from her and I reminded her of her daughters. She was one of the veterans of this vendor compartment and has been travelling for years to her fort office.

Instead of asking Malati, I asked her, why isn’t she dressed up? Why isn’t she celebrating? Is her husband not so good? What is it?

Troubled by my questions, Aruna Aunty decided to narrate a story.

She told me that once upon a time there was a very happy family. The father was earning well enough to provide for the family. He used to love his family and had dreams to educate his children to best of his ability. During summer vacations, this family went to Kerela, their native place and something happened which changed the course of destiny for this family. The father died due to organ failure. Till this time no one was aware that that father had a problem of alcoholism and the family was devastated. He was the only earning member. Now who will take care of the family, children’s education, the expenses etc.

After performing the last rites of the father, the mother decided to return to Mumbai so that the children’s education is not hampered. But, even that night was cruel to her. While going back home, some guys tried to trouble her by asking questions like where is your man? Why are you alone? Do you want a man in your life?

She was a single woman with two children and with loads of problems to take care of. It was this night that made her realize the importance of having a man in her life more than ever before. It was as if the world said that the life was over for her.

But, instead of getting scared, she reached home and decided to work for her children’s future. That night transformed her. Next morning she got up and wore her mangalsutra before going out. When her children asked, why is she doing this? She answered I am still married to your father and this mangal sutra reminds me that he is always with me and that she doesn’t need another man in her life.

Do you truly think this was the reason she wore her mangal sutra again? She wore it in order to prevent the people from troubling her. She does the same till this date only to take care of her children and protect herself from the evil eyes. Not for once, the children mention that the father is not there. Today, she sells vegetables and provides for the family with honesty, dignity and integrity.

It’s been long that I met her but it was that day when I saw courage being personified. I can never forget her face and her perseverance to not to give up for her family and herself. And I completely agree to what my mother says that no one can ever imagine what a woman can do for her family and her children.

Photo Credits: Elayaraja S

Link: For more work of Elayaraja, please visit:

25 Beautiful South Indian women Paintings by Elayaraja

 

 

 

October – A Movie for Love and Hope

October Poster

Decision Making Matrix before you watch October

DMM_October

With *Classy I mean, a movie where story is the real hero and there are no flashy songs or dance sequences. Also, you won’t find any action scenes to give you the adrenaline rush. People are drawn to the theaters only to watch great performances by the actors. And “October” is one such movie.

Honestly, neither the name nor the promos were so promising for me and hence, this movie was not in my “To Watch” list this week. The only reason I went to watch the movie was a message from a friend who fell in love with this movie.  So, I decided to go for an afternoon show on a Sunday and was pleased to see that the theater was having an occupancy of about 60% (I was not expecting so many viewers for this movie).

The movie has a humble start with a background of a hotel where few executives are training to complete their course in hotel management. One of the executives is “Dan”, played by Varun Dhawan. Dan is both cool and crazy at the same time. He goofs up with every job assigned to him even, the simplest ones. He is a careless, immature guy who wants to finish his course as soon as possible but due to his mistakes he is delayed by few months in the course. He dreams of opening up his own restaurant after clearing this course.

Dan is our very next door boy and Varun has played this character effortlessly. Everyone can relate it to him. He is someone who thinks from heart and don’t put his mind so much into anything unless required. We all have been like him at one point in our lives until life beat us to the level wherever we are today. A lovely thing about his character is that he is innocent like a child and has patience of a mountain.

Next important character is “Shiuli” played by Banita Sandhu.  She plays a girl who is dedicated towards her job, performs very well and always praised for her work. Unfortunately she meets with an accident, which makes her bedridden. She almost has no dialogues but delivers well with her emotions for a bedridden girl.

Geetanjali Rao plays the role of “Prof. Vidya Iyer”, mother of Shiuli. She plays one of the strongest character. Even with meager chances of her daughter surviving, she never gave up. She was going through family and financial pressure due to medical expenses incurred for Shiuli’s treatment, but these situations could not shake her up. She was firm on her decision and determined to take care of her daughter.

Special mention to Juhi Chaturvedi, for those amazing one liners delivered by Varun Dhawan where, he will give you courage and hope with the simplest of words used. These dialogues are funny but have a great meaning attached to them. This movie is all about hope and love, expecting nothing in return. To know why it’s called “October”, you need to watch the movie!

Image Source: Google Images

Dangal!

Maa ke pet se marghat tak hai
Teri kahani pag pag pyaare
Dangal dangal, dangal dangal !!

These words by Amitabh Bhattacharya from the movie Dangal, tell the exact reality of our lives. Dangal, one of most awaited movies of the year has arrived and what a film it is! Dangal is a father’s quest to give his daughters a great future. It is a fight with one’s own self to stretch their limit and achieve what no one has achieved. It is a Dangal with the society, the people who have always considered girls inferior than boys and defined rules for girls to live their lives.

But, when a girl breaks the stereotype, challenges the norms of this society and achieves what she wants to, there is always a man behind her and that’s her father. The father who had to listen to all those people who said your daughters should not, she must not, and she cannot and still stood by her to support her. Hats off to Mahavir Singh Phogat who took the courage of going against all odds and train his daughters to make them world class champions.

A brilliant job done by Aamir khan and the entire team of Dangal. The story has been kept simple and yet strong. The director has highlighted important events which has happened in the journey from a small village of Balali to the Gold medal of common wealth games such as the girls wearing T-shirts and Half pants for the first time while they were training, their hair cut short even when they protested against it, the father throwing them in the river asking them to rescue themselves. These events highlight that the father wanted the girls to be stronger, disciplined and self-dependent.

One moment where the father presses his daughter’s legs because they are tired of the training and confesses that he can either be a father or a coach and when he is a coach, father will have to take a back seat. Must Say, Mahavir Singh Phogat is a passionate man. There is a time, where he comes and stays at patiala to train his daughters, six months before the common wealth games.

These moments have been captured very beautifully in the film by the director Nitesh Tiwari. Kudos to him for not making them too dramatic and yet delivering the right message.

Aamir khan has done justice to his character. He has picked up the right dialect, the clothing, his physique everything builds it up to the character extremely well. All the girls Zaira (Young Geeta), Fatima, Sanya and Suhani (Young Babita) and done a brilliant job. Special mention to Fatima Sana Sheikh, who has played the character of Geeta Phogat. Sakshi Tanwar has been a great Daya kaur, the women who was struggling to be a caring mother and a supporting wife.

The movie has been shot in beautiful locations. The music has been embedded beautifully in the story. Every element of the film has been put so well that, it feels like it’s all real, just happening to you right in front of your eyes. Each one of us can relate to this movie in our own ways.

I will rate this movie 5/5. This movie is for everyone, irrespective of your age group. It will give you the motivation to challenge yourself and be the better version of you. And yes, if you have a daughter, please take her to watch this movie and tell her that there is nothing in this world that she should not and must not do just because she is a Girl! She can be the best in the game beating all those boys out there! Wish you all a Merry Christmas:)

Image Source: Google Images

How to have a great time with your Husband?

The long weekend has arrived! So, I thought of sharing a small list of activities for all the lovely ladies who want undivided attention from their respective Husbands.

  1. Hide your TV remote. Best would be to throw it out of the window and pretend that you never had it. Anyways, we women are popular for misplacing stuffs in the house. This might give you a chance of having a romantic conversation. Make the most of it! And if he says, how come you forgot where the TV remote is, you have a long list of things which he has forgotten. I am sure, he won’t dare.
  1. Remove all the chairs placed right in front of your TV. This will eliminate the chances of his butt magnets getting attracted to that chair. You can pull him out for a lovely evening walk.
  1. Ask for his credit card and tell him that you want to go shopping. He will offer to accompany you. Grab that opportunity. Though, the entire idea is to save you from impulse buying but still that’s better than watching that South Indian Movie for 1000th time. 
  1. The moment he tells that he is feeling sleepy, start calling up his relatives and pass the phone to him every time you talk to one. He will make sure that he takes you out so that, you don’t call them up. For many of them, you know much more information than he does!
  1. This one is best! Tell him, its bottle gourd (doodhi/Lauki) for dinner. Within few minutes, you might be having a candle light dinner. Make sure you take him to a restaurant which doesn’t have a TV and even if, it has one; make sure he is sitting right opposite to you.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and lovely weekend with your husbands. Let me know if you want to add to this list. Also, if it worked for you!

I am my Father’s Dream

Father, the most important person in any girl’s life and so is he to me. My father, the only man in a family of 5 with 3 crazy daughters. He has had a tough time bringing me up. I was born in an orthodox Rajput family where boys were preferred over girls. My father never ever let that stigma get to his daughters. He moved to a city against his father will so that he can give his daughters good education, good life and a good upbringing.

He had a very humble beginning and worked really hard to give a bright future to us. When people were sending their daughters to girls only school, He chose co-ed schools for us to give a different perspective to life. He wanted us to feel equal to the boys. He always says that being a girl doesn’t make you incapable of doing things rather makes you capable of doing things which boys can never do. He would persuade me to stand in the same queue as boys. He wanted me to understand that when you say you are equal, you should act like it and never ask for any privilege for being girls. He encouraged us to help mother in her household like getting groceries, washing utensils etc. at very young age. When I was 10, he would send me to banks to help him in his banking related activities like making deposits, cheque encashment etc. I never resisted because I liked doing new things. That gave me confidence. May be, because of that I love trying new things every day. When I entered teenage, I started having identity of my own. I started doing what I wanted to do. By then, trying new things became bunking school and tuitions, partying from my tuition fees, making new friends etc. which is against his values. He would always want us to focus on study and not have so many friends. He would simply not like my friends coming to my home but I ignored that. I liked all of them and somewhere even they have contributed in making me “ME”. And I remember all the days when I have bunked classes and spent time with my friends as wonderful memories of my life.

I was a rebellious child. I would not listen to him until he justifies with a logic. I would question him whenever he objected me to do anything. I would argue that my point of view was better than his. We started having opinion differences. It started from clothing, consistent on my friends, moved on to my choice of education etc. He wanted me to pursue a line of education where life should be peaceful. I should go to work in the morning and return by late afternoon and take care of my house. Now I understand it was a father’s concern but I never wanted that kind of life. I wanted to do my MBAs and when I expressed that to him. He stood by me. And when he did so, nothing could deter him. All his peer advised him that why are you educating your daughters? Are they ever going to give you back? Build your house. He replied, “If I make a house instead of educating them, it will be just one. But, if I educate them. They will make three other houses”. Now, he has made everything on his own and I am proud to say that my father is a self-made man.

He is the man who motivated me when I took a different route and opted for higher education while other girls were getting married, He sent me out of the home to pursue higher education while many people questioned his decision. He even stood strong when I decide to marry the love of my life when all his family members threatened that they will not attend the wedding ceremony. He said, it’s about my daughter’s life and she will decide for herself not You”.

Now when I look back, I see that all my life I have done right opposite to whatever he suggested me. I never listened to him and yes, have hurt him many times. All this while, I thought I am being myself. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am achieving my dreams. I am living an independent life. But, then I was struck by a very pleasant thought. My father always wanted his daughters to be independent, contributing equally to their house, live their life on their own terms and realize all their dreams. Now, I realize whatever I am today, it’s not me! It’s my father’s dream. I am my father’s dream. For me, I am yet to be!!

What is the Opportunity Cost of Not Having a Strong Online Presence?

Small Business Marketing Forum

By Michael Dunham

Oftentimes, as a business owner or marketing manager, you will look at various marketing ventures with the objective of figuring out what strategies to implore that will get you maximum results for a certain price.  We think about how much business we can generate, or need to generate, if we invest x dollars in a marketing strategy.

What many marketers do not look at is the opportunity cost of not investing in a certain strategy or putting off that strategy until “business picks up.”  Anyone who runs a business has probably caught themselves saying they would invest when they got more business, not thinking about the redundancy in the statement.  By delaying a profitable marketing venture now for other strategies or because you don’t want to be too invested in marketing, you are actually costing your business more money than you are saving.

As the great Henry Ford once said, “A…

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