अनिष्ट(disagreeable, undesirable)

India is changing in a thousand ways. Not all of them are good, not all of them are bad. What we have seen in the past two or three years is a wave of saffron spreading over our country. The Bhartiya Janata Party, founded as the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, an organisation committed to turning India to a Hindu nation concluded a resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh, the evidence of the ascendance of its single-track politics aimed at benefiting orthodox Hindus and marginalising everyone else. For the first time in its electoral history, UP did not send a single Muslim MP to the Lok Sabha in 2014. Paradoxically, this was when the legislative assembly had the highest Muslim representation — 63 were elected in 2012.

 

“Those claiming to be secular and progressive do not have an identity of their parents and their blood. One will get self-respect through such identity, I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.”                                                                                                                   Anant Kumar Hegde, Union Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development

 

Not doing anything in the face of religious tension or intolerance is almost a trademark of our government. The whole government is probably not to be blamed, a leadership wherein the PM himself is responsible for the deaths of hundreds in communal riots in Gujarat is not a leadership at all. Our chief ministers are Hindu priests and brahmacharis, why do we expect the Muslims to not be marginalised anyway? Our habit of judging the character of all Muslims by keeping some random terrorist as an example of the otherwise peace-loving group of people does not help us much either.

 

“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in ‘Bharat’ or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes.”                                                                                                                                          Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, mentor to the BJP

 

I’m really sorry to say this sir, but rapes, as big a bane they are on the beautiful populace of our country, do happen everywhere. Day in day out we read reports of young girls being raped mercilessly in some or the other dark corner of our country, and yet we do not see any concrete action being taken by the esteemed leadership of our glorious country. According to estimates by The Quint, India witnesses about a staggering 106 rapes a day, and that is when about six out of ten rapes go unreported. In the face of such a tragedy we face every day, the mentor to our PM decides to blame it on urban values and not on the ineffectiveness of the law and order situation in our country. How inane is that?

 

“Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India.”                                                                                                          Giriraj Mishra, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

 

My grandfather was born in Pakistan and he migrated to India during the partition. As one of the pioneers responsible for bringing electricity to the state of Madhya Pradesh, I can proudly say that my grandfather did his bit for the country. His political leanings are inconsequential to the fact that he did everything in his power to help the country in spite of the fact that he is Pakistani by birth. Our mentality has been modelled in such a way that we inadvertently vote for the party that appeals to us not from the perspective of the work they have done for the nation, but from the perspective of religion. If the leadership of the party respects your religious faiths and beliefs, that party automatically becomes your first choice. The whole task of deciding upon the government trickling down to the ambit of religious and geographical differences is wrong.

 

“As a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue will not only remind every individual of our great nation’s freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance… a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will spur all round socio-economic development.”                                                                           Official website of the Statue of Unity, Government of India

 

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stood for the downtrodden and poor. He always ensured that the poorest sections of the society had access to all the freedoms that the British enjoyed in the country. Spending almost 3000 crores on his statue is simply defiling every ideology he stood for. These funds have reduced his legacy to nothing a cheap stunt for political gains. What these funds could have done for the poor people of our country would have immortalised the legacy of the Iron Man of India. Consider the fact that the bronze panels used in the statue were not manufactured in India as no Indian firm had the capability to do it, and hence the foundation of the statue was inherently Made in China.

 

“The countries in the world are unsure about how to tackle terrorism. The UN is also not in a position to guide them. It is heartening that Prime Minister of Bangladesh despite the fact that she is a woman is openly saying that she has zero tolerance for terrorism.”                 Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

 

I feel appalled at the fact that we always are puzzled when it comes to empowering the women in our country. When you sit down and realise that our honourable Prime Minister feels that ‘despite’ being a woman, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina having zero tolerance for terrorism is a unique thing to be noted is an instance that explains his true stance towards women. When the leader of the country believes that a female prime minister fighting terrorism in her country is a happening out of the ordinary, I sincerely see no serious women empowerment happening in our country. No matter how much we try to sugar-coat things, all of us know that Modi was responsible for thousands of deaths during the Godhra riots, and is unfit to rule a country as diverse as ours.

 

In the end, it all comes down us. What we think and what we do determines where our country heads . Leaving the decisions to leaders like the ones we have as of now is the worst mistake we could make.

 

आलोचना और स्वतंत्र विचार ये क्रांतिकारी सोच के अहम बिंदु है I (Bhagat Singh, 1930)

 

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Distinction Achieved

“May I come in, professor?”

“Yeah, sure Ritika. Have a seat”, said Mr. Roy.

Fidgeting, she sat down on a velvet couch, exposed to his deep stare. She looked around her. Even though it was quite a normal cabin, it seemed plush and spacious than the rest.

Mr. Roy, an ex-attorney, was an eminent law professor at The Institute of Legal Studies, Ranchi. Apart from taking classes of criminal law, he was also in charge of training the undergraduates for the internships. In the current circumstances, Ritika Dey, one of his top students had just screwed up on a very crucial case.

After what seemed like an eternity, Ritika spoke, “I am terribly sorry, sir. Just give me a chance. I ca-”

“I am sorry. It’s not in my hands anymore”, she was interrupted by Mr. Roy. His voice was soft but his intentions were clear.

Disappointed, she left his office. Unsure of her next step, she strolled the corridors for a while. Her eyes fell on a guy, loitering in the hallway. It was Dhruv Talwar, her former partner in that case. Suddenly, she felt a surge of anger rise within her. What a jerk! He was the one who had messed up and then backed out shamelessly.

Dhruv was among the popular guys in college. He was handsome, had rich parents and hanged out with all the cool kids. Being in the same batch, they knew each other to the extent of acquaintanceship. It was only after Mr. Roy handed them a case together, as a part of the innocence project, that they began interacting with each other. Their case began on a good note. But as always, Ritika remained invisible while Dhruv took all the credits. Deep inside she was furious, but she knew it was pointless. It would be only a matter of time before the project would be over and they would move on with their respective lives.

However, the prison visits were the worst. The inmate, Jay, was thrown to jail based on accusations of illegal trade with a potentially dangerous drug dealer. Though the shreds of evidence were inadequate, he was facing a death sentence. From a prosperous businessman, he merely became a nameless criminal.

Ritika knew that they had to meet with him every week and highlight the loopholes in his arrest documents. What she didn’t know until recently was the fact that the two guys with whom she worked were attracted to each other. Dhruv had arranged quite a few illicit visits to the prison. And it was the hidden CCTVs that had captured their rendezvous, thus bringing an end to the show. The prison officials obviously didn’t suspect their romance, but instead made an allegation of some conspiracy. Moreover, Dhruv was reluctant to come forward with his orientation. He was afraid of his reputation. This further jeopardized their case. She could tolerate gay dudes but her teammate going behind her back was not at all acceptable.

Ritika was snapped back to reality as a green light flashed on her phone.

Called the federal prison this morning. Your case is dropped. Jay’s visitation rights will be suspended from Thursday. Only a day and a half left. Do something ASAP.

Her best friend, Tiyasha’s message popped up on the screen. With long strides, she rushed home. Her classes were almost over. Dhruv was as lazy and useless as he could be. Thus, it was about time she took the reins and straightened things out.

Alone in her room, Ritika began contemplating her plan. It was vague.

The thought of his life lying in her hands made her even more anxious. She had to think fast. Now!  She started all over again, from the very beginning.

An idea struck her. She gathered her files and hurried away. An introvert, shy and apprehensive, the twenty-one-year-old had never before made the journey to a prison alone. But, here she was. Trying to look confident, Ritika Dey entered the large iron gates of the prison and walked straight, hoping for her strategy to succeed. After all, it was her life. She was going to be a lawyer. She had to assert her presence, with or without any help.

The Minor Majority

I am a nationalist.
There. I said it.

And I’m not ashamed of being dubbed one. I’m just sick and tired of how this concept has become one associated with rebels and radicals.
With the rise of the so called ‘pseudo-liberal’ junta in our country, nationalists being compared to terrorists is not uncommon.
Our country has just recently passed 3 landmark judgements. The abolishment of Triple Talaq, removal of Article 377 and allowing women to visit the Sabarimala Temple.
Now these judgments are instrumental, and they have given relief and happiness to millions of Indians.

However, our so called ‘Liberals’ don’t seem satisfied.
Rehana Fathima recently raised furore all over the state of Kerala after breaking into the Sabarimala Temple without permission and causing nuisance.

In doing so, she instantly made headlines all over the country, in a bid to revive her dead modelling career. But did she ‘really’ need to do it?
Fathima doesn’t really care about Lord Ayyapa, the main deity at the Sabarimala. She just wanted to prove a point. In the midst of that, she created nuisance at the temple and hurt the sentiments of thousands of ‘true’ devotees. Did she really need the publicity so bad?

Such stunts are quite prevalent in our country now. They seem hidden to the public eye. But after some observation, I’ve seen that these stunts are quietly ubiquitous.
‘Sanju’: A biopic on Sanjay Dutt, released to much fanfare this July. While the movie was enjoyable, the hidden assault on Hinduism was in very bad taste. While it is well known that Dutt was friends with Dawood Ibrahim, the film decided to portray underworld via a Tilak-clad Ganpati devotee. Now this is not a one off instance. Who can forget the ‘Shiva’ scene in P.K?

Even during festivals, there is sudden increase in news articles about the harms that firecrackers pose towards animals and how Idol immersion is bad for water bodies.

I do agree that these practices are harmful but the way our media portrays Hindu festivals is obnoxious and cynical. Where are they when Bakri-Eid or Moharram is on?

Similarly, why didn’t Rehana Fathima chose one of a thousand mosques where women aren’t allowed?
Why didn’t she hesitate to do the same at a place considered sacred by people of another faith?

‘Oppression’.

This is the word which would’ve been in the headlines if Sanju included Dawood. If articles got published on Bakri-Eid. If Fathima trespassed a mosque. If a person from the minority community is asked to stand up for the national anthem.
Why can’t we call a spade a spade and drop the victim mentality?
It’s high time facts stop being twisted to suit one community and target another.
It’s high time we start treating others as equal.
It’s high time we stop disgracing nationalism.

The Job at Hand

We have been living in an era of uncertainty. An age where our very existence relies solely on pure speculation of what lies ahead and conjecturing conclusions and outcomes out of scenarios and circumstances. Outcomes that may at times overwhelm us with their complexity and gravity. In other cases, their inexplicable nature and the perplexity involved with them makes us question our very being and relevance with respect to the ever-changing dynamics.
There have been pre-existing apprehensions surrounding the advent of newer and newer technological innovations in several sectors of our economy. That has however been the least of our worries, which is for a fact, quite unsurprising. For decades our economy has thrived upon these innovations, beginning with the Green Revolution in India, and the subsequent IT Revolution which introduced numerous breakthroughs in field of science and technology, and prospects for several others, but not without compromise. With the ever-increasing sophistication of machines and automation of industries and commercial centres, our reliance on the products of the evolving technological paradigms is growing at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of mankind.
Considering the current situation concerning our country’s economic order, we can establish unemployment as a major striking issue which continues to plague thousands of helpless and unfortunate Indians. The implications of such a predicament are not limited to a few sectors of our economy but are rather widespread and have infiltrated its roots, primarily the agricultural sector. India, for the past several decades has predominantly been an agricultural economy, and even today it supports the sustenance and livelihood of close to half the population of India even though it only contributes around 17-18 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In an economic survey released in Parliament recently, it was noted that Indian farmers are adapting farm mechanization at a faster rate in comparison to the recent past. Impressive growth has been recorded in the automation and mechanization of agricultural processes, ranging from the usage of tractors for ploughing the fields to the harvesting of crops using mechanical combines. All this has greatly contributed to the enhancement of agricultural productivity and efficiency. While the trend has been viewed by the government to be encouraging, to the keen observer it also presents itself as a distress call for an impending crisis. It is estimated that the percentage of agricultural workers of the total work force would drop to 25.7 percent by 2050 from 58.2 percent in 2001. The disturbing aspect of this trend is the rate of increase in employment in the industrial and service sector is insufficient to fill in the void caused by the diminishing dependence on manual labour in the field of agriculture. This has negatively affected the livelihood of peasants and semi-skilled labourers who primarily rely on this source of employment for their subsistence and that of their families. These people are mostly involved in seasonal employment, which due to current prevailing conditions, is mostly covered in a cloud of doubt. Such undesirable circumstances have strained their earnings, and have further added fuel to their desperation.

Even ambitious schemes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA) have failed to permanently resolve this persistent issue largely due to several financial inconsistencies and inadequacies, as a result of leakages and corrupt implementation by the erstwhile UPA government. In 2015, the present NDA regime launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY), which is a skill development initiative scheme for the recognition and standardization of skills. The primary aim of the scheme is to encourage aptitude towards employable skills and to increase working efficiency of probable and existing daily wage earners, by giving monetary awards and by providing quality training to them. However, the inherent flaw in the scheme lies in its very initiative. While the scheme is progressively meeting its assigned targets to train 1 crore Indian youth by 2020, it itself doesn’t guarantee any placements and merely provides placement assistance. The scheme imparts 150-300 hours of training for 221 job roles, and the candidates are either school/college dropouts or are unemployed. This may seem to be an intuitive approach to attract the youth, mostly from a rural background who lack the means and resources to afford higher studies in private or government institutes. For them this represents itself to be a valuable opportunity. But once again, there is an uncertainty which prevails in the present financial situation. It is a prevalent fact there is a dearth of jobs and sources of employment in the country even after the initiation innovative schemes such as Digital India. There are several instances where people fail to get jobs even after graduation from reputed institutes, and have to on numerous occasions cope with periods of unemployment. In such a scenario, maintaining even the slightest expectations of assuring stable jobs to even 10 percent of the trainees under the PMKVY scheme would be ambiguous gesture to say the least.
Our government’s policies have aimed at only softening the blow of mass employment and focussed majorly on damage control. But this isn’t a solution-oriented approach from a government which promised a stable governance and economic and social prosperity for all citizens under the pretext of coming into power. There can be no denial to the fact that a crisis of an unfathomable magnitude is at close proximity. It is essential for the citizens of this nation and the government in power to realise the gravity of the situation and conjure a more effective and productive strategy to counter mass-unemployment. The policy makers need to focus their resources on re-evaluating their current strategies in place and focus primarily on creating new avenues for innovation and development, while at the same time make efforts to strengthen the capacity of existing avenues through direct investment or encourage skilled and semi-skilled individuals to take up fields of study and research specific to prerequisite skill requirement and technical know how for that particular work environment. The quality and standards of existing government and private-run institutes needs to be further reinforced, and these standards need to be maintained in the case of newly established institutes of higher learning through appropriate infusion of funds and proper resource management by the government. Unless we take such evasive measures to avert the crisis in the present time frame, we would eventually witness the greatest threat to democracy, which is none other than the rage and frustration of the 1.3 billion that constitute the world’s largest democracy.

Analysis of Emotions

ANALYSIS OF EMOTIONS.

I was the weirdest student. I took up psychology as an elective in 11th and 12th grade despite being a science student. Apart from the constant “Psychology is an arts subject vs Psychology is a science subject” debate, there was a lot more to arguments than just reaching a consensus. For example, look at my first sentence. Obviously, I wasn’t the only science student to take up Psych (pardon my use of short form, it’s how I prove to the world that I know more than them), there were others just as thick in the head. But it’s a general tendency to derogate oneself in order to feel more important. Half of you probably just thought, “Well, I don’t do that”. Again, a lot of people don’t. You’re not special here. And with that, maybe now it’s easier to realise that: we’ll do anything to make ourselves feel like we’re different and more important. You’re a unique snowflake alright, but a snowflake at the end of it, just like everyone else.

 

“You have the potential, you just don’t realise it”, is a statement twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools. You either get the Rudyard Kipling reference or you don’t. You can’t possibly have the ‘potential’ to get it. This is a very deceiving statement, it lets you believe that you’re intelligent. And perhaps you are, good for you. But what it unfortunately does is; it let’s you justify your laziness. “Oh, I have the potential, I just haven’t gotten around to really showing it”. Well how very noble of you. If there’s a boulevard people would hide behind, it’s this one. The real problem rises when high achievers become complacent and low achievers tire their souls out to the point that they sacrifice their own health. The statement in itself isn’t ‘damaging’. It’s just unfortunate that very few people can find a balance that does more good to them than bad. And until everyone hasn’t found that balance, the statement should be tweaked and reconstructed.

 

But what really is the point of these two random paragraphs, I mean, people don’t write out of nowhere, right? Point number three. Stop analysing where it isn’t required. Not everything has a reason we can be consciously aware of. My psych teacher had a extravagant quote that she’d say on repeat, “There are no just because in life, only because ofs”, and if you peel that onion it basically means that everything has a reason behind it. What half my class failed to understand was that she didn’t imply to us to ponder over the entirety of the incidences in our life. NO. That’s insane, it’s completely and utterly, and I say this in a very crude manner because no other word would quite express the same intent: STUPID. You can’t live your life wait deep in thought, trying to understand the WHY’s of life. Focus on the WHAT, move on. The whole meaning of her statement was that things do happen for a reason yes, but that reason doesn’t necessarily need to be in our consciousness. Lesson time, there are three levels of consciousness: The Conscious, The Sub Conscious and The Unconscious. The conscious is in the here and now. It makes us aware of the immediate things happening. The second lets us have intuitions and gut feelings and the third, well, we’ll never know. And that’s the point. Some things are better of not being known, so there is NO POINT, in trying to make sense of everything around us. Move on.

 

Now at this point in this piece of writing, you’ll realise that the title seems purely irrelevant. I am clearly not talking about different emotions and how they make us feel. But I am also clearly not in primary school. Anger, sadness, ecstasy, happiness, these are all noble emotions, but the subtle change in your body as you’re dipped in unexplainable emotions, this is what makes life worth living. Again, you either get that, or you don’t. My aim here was to make you feel, not just emote. To stir more than just tags for an emotion. To make you think, yet relate. The Fault in Our Stars really just taught me one thing; life is abrupt. Not everything has a conclusion. Not everything has an end to give you a closure. Not everything will feel complete.

And with that, I’d just say, peace out. The lame pun very much intended.

 

Unheared Whisper

Trees sway when I blow,
Plants rejoice when I flow.
When plants get energized and stimulated,
Nature turns serene and is never infuriated.
I am the moving air,
I am this earth’s au pair.
I blow around with a gentle breeze,
Whispering and making your life one of ease.
Everything had gone well for millions of years,
Then I realized something dire, I developed a fear.
A large monstrous figure is engulfing our earth,
It is spreading sorrow and not any kind of mirth.
This monster is developing at a very fast rate,
I don’t know what will be mine and my fellows’ fate,
This monster has taken birth due to human greed,
Pollution, air conditioners, vehicles, factories, take the lead.
Now when I blow, I don’t notice any greenery,
Now when I blow, I don’t see any picturesque scenery.
I mostly see droughts, famines, floods and fallow lands,
I do see industries where once used to be grasslands.
I see the animal kingdom in dismay and despair,
Oh! Isn’t there anybody to give them love and care?
When they lose their habitat, they move to cities and towns,
Even the lion king is killed and has to part with his crown.
Don’t kill and torture them by taking their homeland,
Don’t convert the forest patches into a wasteland.
I see the same anguish in the eyes of polar animals,
Humans are not less than ruthless cannibals.
For the frigid zone animals, I truly feel sad,
The ice has started melting, which is bad.
I also have a tough time seeing this disaster before my eyes,
Humans do nothing for the environment, except telling lies.
There are so many poisonous gases around me,
I can see them acting as my coffin keys.
I am also getting suffocated here,
I know my death is, indeed, quite near.
I have realized that nature will vanish soon,
Dear humans, it is a bane, not a boon.
One day, you will gasp for air and long for life,
Wake up humans, the time has come to strive.
Do something sensible or in hell you will be pinned,

This letter is from-
Yours sincerely,
The Wind.

Profanity: why we need it

It was Friday, I was visiting my home as I do every three weeks or so. It was my bad luck that this time I didn’t get a window seat but the train journey was only two hours. As I didn’t get a window to look outside at, I was peeking at the person sitting next to me as one does. She was watching Game of Thrones on her phone. I cursed myself for not charging my mobile beforehand. With twenty-three percent, I can only listen to songs. Soon enough, my eyes went back to her phone screen shamelessly. It was the Battle of Black-water episode, a brilliant one yet my instincts went alarming. ‘This one has nudity in it! Like a lot of it!’ I remembered immediately and looked around.

Naturally, the person sitting next to her, a man in his forties was peeking just like me. As expected, the scene came up and I was curious what she would do. She kept watching not minding the next person.  I observed that man who noticed a college girl watching nude scenes in a public place and he gave the most judgmental look I’ve ever seen. The awkwardness went away as soon as the episode moved on to the action scene.

Smiling at the situation I put on my headphones. I was listening to Eminem, a rap singer who curses a lot to express emotions. My parents used to give a similar look when I listen to him on loudspeaker, so I had to switch to headphones. Grown ups were always hypocritical about youngster’s line of interests.

The train reached the destination and I took a rickshaw, got down at the edge of my street and walked home.

Usually the street looks alive filled with children playing hide and seek or badminton. I was one among those children a few years back until studies became a priority. Although, this Friday the street was unusually dead. There were no playing kids, no one was around.

After entering my place, having some food and rest, passing some time, I looked at the street again. It was still deserted. I asked my mother as to why there were no children playing. ‘Oh, you didn’t know? Lakshmi, from the next building died yesterday. It was a suicide’ she broke the news

‘What?! How?!’ I asked shaken

‘She had to write Quarterly exam the next day. Her parents were in the AC room while she was studying in the hall or at least that’s what they thought she was doing.  The next morning, they woke up, they saw her hanging by her mother’s….’ My mother went on to explain the details

‘Yeah, okay I get it. Stop’ I stopped her as I felt the back of my neck thinning and filling with uneasiness. ‘I used to play with her’

‘She studied Eleventh standard, in your school only. Your school is infamous for students ending up like this under stress, you have no idea how concerned I was when you were there’ my mother explained but I had to disagree immediately ‘My teachers are nothing like that! I mean, there was stress, anxiety and problems but…’ I wanted to argue but I couldn’t finish the sentence. I wasn’t able to tell her exactly how I didn’t end up killing myself even though I too had my fair share of dark days.

That night I couldn’t sleep but think and wonder, what would’ve happened to her to make her take that decision and why something like that didn’t occur to me.  I remember my first day in eleventh standard, my new maths teacher gave an introductory class of maths in general and he took an example sum of infinite series. He explained how one could easily get the answer for nine plus ninety-nine plus nine hundred and ninety-nine and so on. When I walked out of the class after it ended on my way to home, I looked at a BMW car and it’s hot engine, I looked at beautiful house where a gardener was watering the plants that had roses of different colors and all of them melted into the number nines, the infinite nines all crowded and standing in my way like a giant spider made of nine’s.

‘All of this? That car, that house, that garden. I can get all of this only if I go through this complicated maths?’ I thought, confused, stressed. ‘Did my mother and father go through this so that they can feed me? Is there no other way?’ I asked myself as the thought of finishing the assignment before the deadline was killing me. It was almost like Math was choking me and telling me I am the weakest person in the world.

I grew up in the same school for the first ten years with the same set of friends but I had to join the bigger school because the IIT coaching there was better. Being the new fish for the first time in my life didn’t help either. I had to face bullies for the whole first year and deal with them.

Thinking back about all of this in my bed that night made me wonder how, how did I get through all of that?

The age of 16 is very confusing. You are not an adult yet but you’re not a child anymore either. You use curse words or talk about sex, it’s inappropriate. You talk about free things that come along with Kellogg’s Chocos or dolls you wanted to have, that’s inappropriate too.  I remember seeing a video of a baby when given a candy or a favorite toy, the baby would stand up and clap its hands in excitement while jumping up and down. The same baby would cry aloud spitting everywhere and agitate in frustration if the same toy or candy is taken away. There is no shame is saying that adults come across similar situation all the time but crying or jumping as you clap is seen as straight up bad behavior. Well, for a person who’s sixteen and has been treated as a child up until that point, he or she have been expressing their emotions one way all this time, now they’re expected to express it another way but are never shown or taught how. Continue reading

A SIMPLE SORRY

The doorbell rang once, then twice and thrice in quick succession. I burst through the doors as soon as they opened, shaking myself dry. The rain was falling in sheets as if to complement my sour mood. I’d just had a big fight with my friend which involved a lot of cursing and shouting. To top it all off, I’d pushed her into the mud and was gone before she could get up. My mother asked me what was wrong and it all came pouring out- how it was all her fault and I had done the right thing. She made me sit down and explained calmly that no matter what had happened, I should apologise for pushing her.

I’ve heard this argument at least a thousand times till now-how apologising makes you the bigger person, how you should learn to forgive and forget. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me back then and things haven’t changed over the years. I judge people within seconds of meeting them, and most of the opinions I form are harsh. And if they do anything to even remotely justify my thoughts, I rant about it to whoever is listening. My parents no longer explain things to me “calmly” and I blame them for not taking their daughter’s side in everything. Sometimes I say sorry, but it doesn’t reach my eyes, so I don’t think anyone is buying it. I have a gift of being unfazed by everything happening around me. You may think I’ve been very rude to you, but chances are that I haven’t attached any importance to the incident and am blissfully ignorant of your anger. I’ve seen people giving “sorry notes” to their friends with a chocolate inside it. What’s the logic? Are you trying to win them over with food? Does putting it down in writing help you feel better? Why invest so much time over such a silly thing? All this was before I joined college and lived in a hostel for the first time. There is something very different about living with someone other than your parents. You form such deep-rooted friendships that they start feeling like family. I was still the same, forming opinions about all my roommates as soon as I met them, rude as ever. But as they turned into friends from roommates, I finally understood why people apologise. You don’t apologise to make yourself feel better, you do it out of love or respect for someone. It’s alright to set your ego aside if it makes someone happy. You write “sorry notes” because the person is important to you. The apologies don’t come easily, but at least I’m trying. I guess some things can never be taught, you have to realise them on your own. Maybe this is what growing up is all about?

 

                                                                                                                -Sonal Mahanta

BARGAIN TIME

Veteran politician Sharad Pawar just did the unthinkable. He gave a clean chit to Modi in Rafale deal. But Shivsena calls Rafale “father of the Bofors”. So are they going to switch sides? But there is more. Mayawati announces to contest all the seats in MP independently which will clearly damage the chances of Congress returning to power riding on an anti-incumbency wave. And why is KCR praising Modi and calling Rahul Gandhi a buffoon? Naveen babu is going soft on NDA supporting its candidate for vice chairman of Rajya Sabha and interestingly ‘rebellious’ Jay Panda is yet to be inducted in the saffron fold.

Image result for chess

All of them are up to one thing –bargain. For Mayawati, its once in a lifetime opportunity- to be the queen. The third front comes to power and she becomes the Prime Minister, more importantly, the unanimous leader of all Dalits for once and all. But for that, she, of course, requires a greater number of seats in the lower house. So she seeks a “package deal”-  Lok Sabha seats in all the states in which she supports Congress in assembly elections.

Pawar is a more seasoned politician. He wants to appease both Modi and opposition. So that in case of a hung house, he is favorite of both the sides. And the ever confused Thakrey is doing one thing he is good at- giving empty threats and trying to take revenge for the treatment he received at the hands of Modi-Shah duo.

For satraps like KCR and Patnayak, it is a simple thing- Modi may need their support for continuing in 7RCR. This means he owes them some favors- special packages, accountability cases and even support of BJP in local assemblies.

Now in the other end, there are Gandhis who are willing to pay any price to keep Modi out of power, for he is the first one in the history of Indian politics who has tried to eliminate Congress permanently. So Mayawati may get what she wants and if the situation arises, Congress party may support any leader from regional parties.

 

But saffron camp is less compelled a bit. Modi is the only pan India mass leader. They are hopeful that with support from parties like YSRC, ADMK, TRS, and BJD they may return to power. And unlike Congress, BJP has a leader who can change the game at last moment as he has done in Gujarat and Karnataka. So Shiv Sena will not be offered more than it got in the previous election and JDU will no longer be the elder brother in Bihar. In states like Odisha and Tamil Nadu, the party will contest all the seats and be prepared for a post-poll alliance if the need arises.

 

The Lovers’ Burden

The mirror told the truth. Savitej was no ordinary man. Over six and a half feet tall, and consisting of two hundred pounds of pure muscle, he was touted to become one of the greatest soldiers of the Bihar Regiment, joining a Param Vir Chakra awardee and multiple Vir Chakra awardees. An exceptional marksman, a cunning strategist and a gallant leader, his booming voice and strong personality made him equally feared and revered by his battalion.

He slapped himself and muttered, “Wake up, wake up, wake up. Another day’s about to start.” He looked at all his scars, as he would, every morning. They meant nothing to him, in spite of what they made him go through. There was a pain radiating down his lower back. And for some reason, it was the only thing that mattered to him. He smirked and got dressed in his track suit, for his pre-dawn jog.

Taking his first lap around Danapur Cantonment, the pain felt more than usual. Looking around, he saw the armoured units warming up their vehicles for their daily patrols and the supply trucks arriving from Patna. The first flock of birds was taking flight and a couple of roosters were beginning to crow. All in all, it was another usual day.

Completing his jog, he returned to his bungalow. His lover was still sound asleep on their bed. He kissed his lover and sat down at his desk, to write his daily log. He winced as he sat down and murmured, “Am I getting too old for all these acrobatics?” While writing, he nodded off and fell asleep.

The sound of the bugle awakened him. He woke up with a start, and saw the mess on his diary. “Oh, not again,” he said, tearing off the ink blotted pages and tossing them into the trash. He saw his lover move in the bed, and said, “Good morning, my love. How are you this fine morning?” A high-pitched voice replied, stifling a yawn, “All good! You?”

“Never been better. The pain keeps getting worse, though.”

He was greeted with an eye-roll, followed by the usual “I told you that we didn’t have to do it last evening. But you insisted.”

He chuckled and said, “I’ll be fine. This pain is worth it. This pain is worth the sacrifices you make.”

A smile as warm as the sun outside shone at him, and his lover got up. They embraced, and he said, “Off you go to the barracks. Make sure no one gets to know.”

“Yes, Sir. See you on Saturday.”

He watched his lover jog towards the barracks. As the figure got smaller and smaller, he wondered how long they could keep it going, without being exposed. Eventually, he’d have to tell someone about the pain. He couldn’t tell the army doctors, or his peers: it would result in an immediate suspension and court-martial. He did the usual and called his sister up, and asked for medication. Hearing his symptoms, she laughed and said, “You’re forty-three, and your phase still hasn’t passed? Oh, Dear Lord.” She prescribed some pain-relievers and hung up.

Thursday, the 6th of September, was like any other day for Lt. Gen. Savitej Singh Johar. Going through files, letters, requests for leaves and go-aheads, was his bread and butter. As he leafed through the Services hockey team’s request to go out and practice in the SAI complex, he realised that he hadn’t played a good game of hockey in ages. He closed the file, and got up. ‘Let me go to Bharadwaj and see if I get into the officers’ team for the next tournament’, he thought. As he walked outside his air-conditioned office, he received a call from his sister.

Answering the call, he could hear people, on the other side, shouting in glee all around, shouting “Love Wins!” He heard his sister shout, “Go see the news immediately! Bye!” What could’ve happened, he wondered, that his sister called him up to tell him to watch the news. He went down to the lobby, where a crowd had gathered around the TV. Some were murmuring nervously, some had small smiles of relief and some had looks of immense disgust. He read the headline, and his heart almost stopped.

The headline read, “Supreme Court unanimously strikes down Section 377.” His pulse grew faster, and he felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders. His hands were trembling, and a tear came to his left eye. He had never felt relief like this in his whole life, not even when he finished at the Defence Academy. All his life, he had live in the fear of his superiors finding out, the fear of being isolated by his peers and the fear of losing the respect of his battalion.

Walking back to his office, he dialled the barracks and ordered them to tell Brigadier Agrawal report to his office. He was told that Brigadier Agrawal was arrested by the military police, a quarter of an hour ago. Before they could tell him the reason for the arrest, there was a sharp rap on his door. Disconnecting the call, he barked, “Come in.” The door opened, and four military police officers walked in.

He smiled at the officers, and said, “Ah, yes, boys, how may I help you?” He recognised them all, they had all served under him, at one point. None of them smiled back; on the contrary, their faces revealed apologetic expressions. He couldn’t understand why. His smile disappeared, and he said, “What’s wrong, boys?” The shortest of them, Officer Mishra, said, “Lieutenant General Savitej Singh Johar, you are under arrest for violating Section 46(a) of the Army Act, 1950 as reported by Brigadier Lohith Agrawal, with video proof. He was arrested twenty minutes ago, after he showed a certain video to his bunkmates, as a reaction to the news. You, sir, are part of it and named explicitly in it.”

His joy turned into fear, his elation turned into anger and his newfound throne of safety crumbled into a pile of dust. He stood up and bellowed, his voice breaking, “Are you out of your minds? Did you not see the news?”

“Indeed, sir. Acts of homosexual intercourse are not permitted in the Armed Forces. Please come with us.”

Savitej sank into this chair. His mind went blank. His limbs grew cold. His muscles stiffened. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he could hold no longer. The pain his back was at its worst. He remembered all his lovers: the times they had spent, how he held them, how he kissed them and the times they had become one. As the officers handcuffed him, and took him away, he could see people coming out of their offices, and looking at him in shock and awe. And that’s when he realised: Everything had changed and everything was the same.