Random Conversations in the Dark

‘You gotta do the right thing. Always speak your mind, clear the cobwebs. Invest time and emotions on great relationships. Sort things out,’ nags Stupid Inner Voice at me. It’s been doing that ever since I can remember. And I listen. Every single time.

But what does one do when someone stone-walls you? I ask plaintively.

Is dying really the next best thing? Screams my Aggressive Inner Voice.

(Gee – now we have a three-way conversation going – me, me, myself. I knew I was multiple personalities)

I sit in the dark, shutting out noise, light. Hoping if I hide away, maybe everything will figure itself out?

NO – says Stupid Peaceful Inner voice. Go on out there, and be yourself. Some things you can control, rest you can’t. Accept it.

YES –  says Aggressive Voice. Stay in the dark forever, Woman! You don’t have a spine you see.

Wow! The ‘spine’ word kinda nailed it!

It’s time to be myself, because I just found my lost spine.

No more hiding away.

Sigh of relief!

Corporate Angst

Some Bosses are fickle
It’s like too much salt in your pickle
Others are bullies
It’s like hot summers and turtle-neck woollies

Some Peers are vultures
It’s like stale yoghurt with cultures
Others crave your shiny shoes
It’s like sipping cocktails with cheap brews

Some Enablers are befuddled Ablers
It’s like pins missing from staplers
Others are cud-chewing cattle
It’s like a gum-stuck-to-shoe battle

Thus Regular Guileless Employees
Who dream of exotic vacations in Hawaii
Transform into Alien Mutants
That yearn for nothing but intoxicating coolants


The ideal woman

Anusha’s brilliant writing captures this phase that I am certain almost every girl has gone through at some point in her life.


They said

Adamant (and not ambitious)

Brash (and not bold)

Fast (and not friendly)

Inflexible (and not independent)

Loud (and not lively)

Stubborn (and not strong willed)

They also said

Too thin (or too fat)

Too dark (or not fair enough)

Too opinionated, they complained

A handful, they wailed

They should have instead told me:

We like our women spineless.

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Being Vulnerable

Three years ago, my husband suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Five days after his fortieth birthday. It was a silent attack, the doctors said. Three arteries were fully blocked, and the fourth, partially blocked. If we hadn’t taken him to the hospital immediately, I doubt I would be here today, blogging. I would probably be busy working two jobs instead of one, ensuring my daughter’s future is secure.

My husband hadn’t been told he’d suffered a massive heart-attack. They told him they were taking him in for a ‘routine check up’. The cardiac surgeon wasn’t sure if my husband would even survive the angioplasty. They told me this, in the middle of the afternoon, before they wheeled him into surgery.

But it had to be done. Decision making responsibilities rested with me. I went ahead and signed all the consent forms. Numb, but willing.

They said the operation would take three hours. I quickly arranged for my 10 year old daughter to be dropped off at a day-care centre. I knew they would stay open until 7:00pm. Which gave me time to breathe, to figure things out. To get some semblance of sanity into the situation.

My husband’s colleague, who I hardly knew, stayed with me in the waiting room. This lad who was no older than 25, said the right things. He was probably as scared as I was, but it helped, in some strange way, that fear seemed to provide grounds for companionship.

Once my husband was in the Cardiac Care Unit, we were told he was out of danger. With all thoughts of not wanting to cause unnecessary worry, I took it upon myself to break the news as gently as possible to the important people in my husband’s life. Siblings, ‘best buddies’, everyone who was in his sphere.

It was amazing, the insights into human nature that this incident provided.  The days that followed taught me a lot about who I am. And my place in this existential space called family, friendship, relationships, life.

A really close friend in Bangalore offered emotional and financial support, and actually meant what she said, “I’m here. Don’t worry.” In that moment, I knew which friends were ‘real’, who was my ‘real family’.

Having undergone gender discrimination, sexual abuse in my growing-up years, and after l almost lost the one person I truly love unconditionally, I realized I will never stop being vulnerable. No matter how many birthdays I celebrate, how much money I make. I work hard at holding on to positivity, trying not to be bitter about my ‘pseudo-relationships’. Though there are days I can fight no more and I drop the ball at unexpected times!

There are labels attached to women like me, who, aware of their intense vulnerability, always wear a protective shell of aloofness around them. They are women who prefer to be completely self-reliant, independent. Too proud to show the chinks in their armor. Choosing to plow through their lives single-handedly. Quietly. Always with an unconscious air of self-assuredness about them. And I always look into the eyes of these kindred souls and smile, with as much kindness as I can draw from within. They recognize me, and always smile back knowingly, their eyes reflecting the same kindness. Because we are bound by a secret code. Of having dealt with pain, hurt, sorrows, challenges, far more than our due share in this lifetime.

I am starting to finally accept that it is okay to be vulnerable. To believe that I will always find a way to survive, though I am well and truly alone.

Participating Entry – YeahWrite #211 NonFiction Challenge
Word Count <= 1000 words

A play called ‘Aaina’…. And yes, I have a daughter.

21st March was a Saturday. No different from the other Saturdays in the past. I mean – that’s what I thought.

Until 7:30pm at Sudarshan Hall.

A subject that possibly each one of us can relate to. Why it is ‘okay’ to rape or molest a woman.  Why it is ‘not okay’ for a woman to walk out of a dead-end abusive marriage.

Raw emotions portrayed by a bunch of “amateur” theater artists brought to life memories from the past – either conversations I overheard from ‘relatives’, or the look of utter despair in the eyes of a friend, or some article I read in a newspaper.

Whilst we participate in candle marches, shout slogans, run workshops on ‘woman empowerment’ (nothing wrong, I am simply trying to make a point), as Mothers, let’s be brutally honest – gender discrimination (‘son’/’daughter’) begins at home. 

I thought my generation, my peers (be it friends, colleagues or cousins) – would be a little different. It is frightening to see that they aren’t.

I know this 30-something IT couple who have a 10 year old daughter. The girl is bright. But the Mom chooses to focus on ‘customs and traditions’ – holds multiple religious functions at her home. Nothing wrong actually – with the ‘customs/traditions part’ but she ALSO sadly states she hardly has “time for studies and it doesn’t matter so much because she is a girl.” I bet this wouldn’t be the case if I was writing about her ’10 year old son’!!

A very close relative of mine had a son – her first child. When a neighbour dropped in to congratulate her and said “Good job! First child is a son!” – the girl practically preened in front of her …”Yes Yes … I have a son!”  A normally level-headed, mature, confident girl is suddenly pleased she popped out an offspring that came with certain ‘socially acceptable’ body parts!  For some reason I couldn’t help but think of the movie “Species.”

I am sure you get the gist.

Mothers of our generation! Let’s be sane here. And a little courageous. It is ridiculous to moan about ‘interrupted careers’, ‘sacrificed BITS Pilani BTechs’ when you propagate the same twisted ideal in what you say to your sons. And your daughters.

Kudos to Sonal and the rest of her troupe for choosing upbringing as one of the root causes for gender-discrimination for their very first play. The play was sensitively handled, stellar performances from real people.

Maybe someday, we can also run a sequel that focuses on the good stuff. About couples who nurture marriages between equals, balance career and parenting goals, ensure equal opportunities in education and platforms for their children regardless of gender. Who do this quietly, every single day of their lives.

A miniscule percentage of the population. But we cannot lose hope, can we?

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