Live and let live

There was nothing that would make him acceptable to our over educated, wise, noble, open minded and highly cultured society. A society, where everyone is a judge, a judge who decides one’s character, puts one’s virtues and beliefs at stake, sentences him to humiliation and disgrace. Why? Oh, I see, because he had the courage to overpower the strength of our “society’s divine wisdom” and be himself.

The overly educated called him “a rotten egg”, the wise named him, “the ill bred”, the nobles branded him, “evil’s heir”, the open minded blessed him with their double faces, whereas the highly cultured pronounced him to be a “slave to his desires.”

Where in this unforgiving world, a world where he is already claimed to be a total disgust, where every other passer-by looks down upon him, should the accused innocent stand for himself?

He is just one of the many muffled voices. The voice of a person who gets hazed for being who he is supposed to be, the voice of a person who gets robbed, the voice of a person who lives an inhumane life in the society hiding his identity and the list simply goes on.

Is there any explanation, is there any justification? Why do we even need a justification or an explanation? Why cannot one just accept possibilities without with being judgemental towards things?

“Actually trying something out before having an opinion about it or trying to understand the other person’s point of view might actually help in digesting the facts”. Wait, what? No. Indians are past these. They fail to realise that we have moved on from juices to coffee to alcohol in public gatherings.

Discrimination in India, ah it’s alright, why? Because these are just words and they don’t harm people. It is a shame that we neglect the fact that discrimination is a crime and our Indian system doesn’t take the appropriate measures to stop it.

It’s the society that is being abnormal and it is its incapacity to accept him. He is as much a human being as you. Or if I put it this way, he is maybe me, or it might be you, or your best friend or even your brother.

Now come on, don’t you typecast him. He might be a homosexual, or a non-virgin, or a divorcee, or an alcoholic, or someone polygamous, or someone having an inter-caste marriage.

Nobody gets to decide the laws of nature, even nature doesn’t at times. Then who are we to give a verdict? Live and let live.

-Avishek Agarwal

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The Biggest Hoax?

What is religion?

A set of predefined ideals adhered to by those who believe; or a construct breathed into reality by a bunch of delusional single minded maniacs? Depending on who you ask, it can hold completely different connotations. A timeless dilemma, it has bugged men since the dawn of time. Volumes have been written on the subject and this debate can potentially go on for eons.

The perennial drive to stand out strikes us humans apart as a species. We want to feel special about ourselves; we want to believe that our life has a purpose. Religion effectively accomplishes just that. It superficially fills up the void science is unable to whilst at the same time, packs our hearts with hope and rectitude.

The real question, however, is- is religion worth it? Throughout the course of history, millions have lost their lives to wars waged in the name of religion. We’ve slaughtered men, women and children in cold blood- all to preserve its sanctity. If religion really is so full of righteousness, why has it brought about so much grief?

Or has it? Should the masses be blamed for the sins of the few? Should we let popular media shroud our perceptions about what is right?

Two of the greatest wars fought in the history of mankind weren’t backed up by religion. Religions don’t kill people, individuals with misplaced agendas do. Religion is what one makes of it. It can be directed to justify flying airplanes into skyscrapers, or on the contrary- to cast away one’s inner demons.

Maybe there’s a God residing up in his heavenly abode, laughing at the grandeur of it all; or maybe he lives within us all, nudging us towards the right pavement every time we go astray. Regardless, at the end of the day, we are all citizens of the world divided by race, gender, caste, creed and religion. Our personal beliefs may not be remembered a 100 years from now, but the impact we make on those we love will. Hope is beautiful, but it isn’t enough. Action speaks louder than words, and definitely louder than hope. We don’t need temples; we need more homeless shelters and orphanages. We don’t need to orchestrate festivals; humanity is what we need to celebrate.

Oblivion is inevitable, but love and universal brotherhood encompass all and will stand the test of time for millennia to come.

-Prajesh Dey

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder

Day 1. New city, new school, new start.
As she dressed into her new uniform, looking into the mirror, she said to herself, “The past is now behind me. It’s a fresh beginning, a blank slate.”

As she walked down the hallway with pairs of eyes on her, she again became very conscious of herself. Brushing it off as a consequence of being “the new girl” and recollecting her words to herself, she composed herself and went for her class. Soon, it was time for lunch. Again, she sensed many pairs of eyes on her. But this time, accompanied by the so very familiar comments. And her fear came true. Her past swirled back up inside her like a tornado. She rushed her way to the washroom and cried her eyes out. The new school was no different. The new people were no different. The day at school was no different.

That morning when she had looked at the mirror, she had finally rediscovered the kind, generous, exuberant, energetic and lively girl that the world had taken away in the past few years. And now, as she looked at the mirror in the school washroom, she couldn’t find that girl anymore. Once again, the world had taken her away.

The 16-year-old who weighed 90 Kg had been called “fatty”, “hippo”, “pumpkin” and what not for so long that she herself started believing that to be her identity. These names and comments that had started off as friendly jokes had eventually grown to an unacceptable proportion, such that self-doubt and self-hatred consumed her into a pit of depression. She started hating her body, herself. She was ashamed of how she looked. She was convinced that no matter what, her obesity is all that will meet people’s eyes. She had lost herself to body shaming.

This is just one story in thousands. Every day, girls who are either overweight or underweight are put through this trauma that eventually leads them to a point of being ashamed of themselves. The recent yahoo health survey has found that 94% of teenage girls in America have been shamed because of the way their body looks. And that, is a huge number! It may seem like just a joke, but such jokes may pile up into a person’s head leading them to loathe themselves, to believe that they are what their bodies look like. Moreover, they may even lose their interests, their passion. And in some extreme cases, lose their will to stay alive. These few minutes of amusement at their cost can take away their belief on self.

Fat girls are more than their “big rack” or the “rolls” that their stomach forms as they sit or their “heavy thighs”. And in case of skinny girls, they are more than their “flat chest” or their “stick-like” arms and legs.

They are about how their eyes gleam when they hear their favourite song or talk about their favourite book or movie. They are about the fire and love they have towards their passion. They are about the dedication and determination they have towards achieving their goals and realising their dreams. They are about all the love they have to give to this world.

After all, ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’

-Shruti Gangopadhyay