Monday, November 24, 2014

Christopher Crossing the River

Yesterday I learnt that Father Kuriakose Chavara was conferred sainthood by Pope Francis. For some reason, I was reminded of Sister Ann and Sister Sheeba who taught me at Lena School, nestled in a small corner of the Nilgiri Hills, where I did my primary schooling. Maybe this was because Father Chavara had founded many schools like Lena. One can find several Chavara schools dotted around the towns of southern India. As I thought of the nuns at the convent, on the spur of the moment, all I could remember was the story of Saint Christopher that I had come across as a child. Perhaps Sister Sheeba read it out to us in one of those classes known as 'Moral Science'. Anyway, the story made a great impact on me. I can still see the black and white illustration of the gentle giant, Christopher, wading across the waters of the wild Jordan river, carrying the Child on his shoulders in my mind's eye; I can still feel the same tingle in my spine when the identity of the mysterious Child was revealed.
I really wanted to write about this story, and so decided to dabble in some narrative poetry.

Christopher was a giant, tall and fierce
Compared to him, they were dwarves, all his peers.
Carrying people across the river to earn his bread
A simple life, Christopher led.

The gates of heaven burst open one day
Torrents of rain, the gloomy skies turned grey
Full to the brim, the river was in spate
Nobody wanted to cross it and tempt fate.

All of a sudden, appeared a little child
Sweetly asking to cross the river, angry and wild.
Christopher refused, looking at the deluge in all its greed
But the mysterious child continued to plead.

And so he finally agreed
The child's request, he did heed
The child on his shoulders, he strode
Into the treacherous waters where the rain flowed.

The burden grew heavier with each step taken
Why did he accept this? His faith was shaken.
It was only a child, he thought, as the waters swirled.
Yet, it was like carrying all the troubles of the world.

Huffing and puffing, he reached the other end, half dead
That's when he noticed a subtle aura around the child's head
He vanished, without a trace.
Christopher finally understood, grateful for His grace. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter in the Desert

Abandoned street cats scrambling for warmth
Take shelter under the numerous cars
That dot the parking lots of the bustling city.
The sun turns in early,
Fatigued after many days of scorching summer
Night falls by the time the muezzin
Calls the faithful for the maghrib prayers.
The first stars of the evening
Shyly peek out of a velvety darkness
Eager camp goers pitch tents
In the depths of the silent desert,
Warming their hands around a bonfire
They count the stars,
Relieved at their escape
From the maddening megalopolis.
As the night wears on
The full moon beams brightly
Casting its glow over the vast emptiness.
A lonely man ambles down the desert road
Quiet, except for a few cars now and then
Wrapped in mufflers and monkey cap
Shivering in the biting cold
As he tries to sell newspapers
To anyone who'd bother to stop by.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Contents of a Suitcase

Kanjivaram silk saris, made to order
In vibrant hues of all kind.
A lone kasavu mundu with a golden border
She’d hardly wear them, never mind.
A tiny bottle of Indulekha hair oil
To be applied regularly, Amma had said
You won’t get all this on foreign soil
So please take care of your hair while it’s still on the head.
Pickled lime, mango in brine
Banana and jackfruit chips.
For a taste of home, you’ll no longer whine
Amma had said with a smile on her lips.
And now here she is in a faraway land
Comforted by this slice of home,
She gazed out at the stretches of sand
As the sun set behind the mosque dome.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who Are You?

Who are you?
Appa asks her.
His eyes, confused.
His hair, tousled.
His mind, a messy tangle.
Memory fading into oblivion.
Cobwebs of darkness all around.

She says,
'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one.
The one who fought over Scrabble with you.
When I was little
You held my hand,
Sat me on your lap
And helped me trace
The sacred harisree letters
In the plate of grain
On my vidyarambham day'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one.
You told me numerous stories.
How Krishna opened His mouth
And revealed the entire cosmos
To a startled Yashoda;
How Jesus calmed a storm
Brewing in the Sea of Galilee
Simply by raising his palm;
How Skanda tricked Avvaiyar paati
With the fruit from the jambu tree...'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
You made coffee for me at 2 am
While I struggled to commit to memory
The complex rules of quadratic algebra.
Years later, when I went to university
Far away from the home I love,
You became my alarm clock
During those frenzied days of exams
Not minding that you lived half a world away.'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
You were always so brave, fearless.
You would clutch my hand
As the village oracle danced his way to each house
Blood red robes, shaking his sword all over
Declaring the prophecies of Bhagavati.
As you placed the silver coins as dakshina
In front of him, you would tell me
To think of Swami and forget my fears.
And yet, today
As people in this vast city
Chant the cries of Ganpati baapa morya
Taking their idols to be immersed
In the vast nothingness of the Arabian Sea
You clutch my hand,
Fearful of the noises
That are now unknown to you.'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one'
She says again.
He looks at her again.
'Who are you?'
And in a desperate struggle to
Awaken some distant recess of his mind,
A single tear flows down his cheeks.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nilgiri Times

Walking to a tiny schoolhouse in the clouds,
Much like the one Hillary built in a Sherpa village
Maroon sweaters and monkey caps in rows,
Breathing in the heady scent of pine and eucalyptus
The echo of the gong signalling recess break
Sunshiny days of hopscotch and 'teacher-teacher'.
Chasing butterflies under a blue blue sky
Where cotton clouds lay afloat.
Pretending to have long hair, a silly act
Achieved by wrapping  Amma's black dupatta around my mushroom cut.
Camp fires and kayaking
Pitching tents in untouched forests
A game of antakshari
Disturbed by the arrival of an uninvited guest:
A wild boar, indignant at the intrusion of its space.
Tuesday trips to town
Beginning with a visit to St Anthony's church
Followed by another one to the Ayappan kovil
St Anthony and Ayappan, no different
The Prince of Peace and the Prince of Pandalam, the same.
Done with the pilgrimages, time for pleasure.
Masala dosai and black currant ice cream at Kurinji's.
Tea at the old Irani chai shop.
Long hours at the Higginbotham's bookshop
And then a sleepy journey home
In the rickety town bus
Filled with people returning to the mountain villages
Gunny sacks with rice and vegetables
A chicken, here and there
Lovedale, Ketti, Yelenahalli, yells the conductor
The biting cold of the evening outside
And the smelly warmth inside the bus
Gently lulling me into the land of sleep.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is when you preach equality and oneness of humanity; yet you would not support your children marry someone from a different religion or caste.

Hypocrisy is when you constantly talk ill of your boss behind her back, regardless of the fact that there are many others listening to you; yet when the boss arrives, you become a yes-man, spouting a litany of praises, sycophancy at its peak. There's no doubt that humans are better than chameleons when it comes to changing colours.

Hypocrisy is when you talk about being kind and considerate; yet you pretend not to notice the old uncle standing in front of you in the MRT, his back bent double with age, obviously struggling to hold on to the iron poles. But you will remain blissfully unaware, smug in the warmth of your seat, nodding away to the music blasting off your iPod.

Hypocrisy is when you say you're proud to be a feminist; you staunchly believe that men and women are equal; yet you have no qualms about using your femininity to your advantage.

Hypocrisy is when you still hold on to the ridiculous notions of caste hierarchies, conveniently forgetting that Krishna was a cowherd, and Shiva, an angry ascetic who often smoked marijuana.

Hypocrisy is when you defend womens' rights, and yet when a woman is raped, you wonder whether she was alone at night, or with male friends, or if she was drunk, or what kind of clothes she happened to be wearing.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Unaccustomed Earth: A review

I must confess, I was at first slightly disappointed with Unaccustomed Earth, especially if you happen to compare it to the masterpiece that was Interpreter of Maladies. The book's titular story is about an American Bengali woman in Seattle, who awaits her father's visit home, for the first time after her mother dies. I didn't particularly like Ruma; I think I was struck by her selfishness, her fear that her father would want to spend the rest of his days at her home. Yet, I couldn't help empathizing with her, particularly in the ways she missed her mother more in her absence, than when she was there. And I loved the way the story ended, when Ruma finally unearths the secret that her Baba had harbored till then. 

The next story, Hell-Heaven , is told from the perspective of a little girl, and it's about an unlikely romance (I'm not sure if 'romance' is the right word) between her mother and a post-graduate American student who lands up in Boston. I liked the third story, A Choice of Accommodations the least. Was it because of the pessimism, the disappointment, expressed by Amit? (He remarks that 'all marriages disappear after a while', at a wedding of all places!) Or was it simply because he dared to put in words what many of us might have thought, but didn't have the guts to say?

I was beginning to get kind of depressed at this point. The characters were annoying me, and it seemed that Lahiri had succumbed to creating stereotypes. All her characters were Bengali Americans, Ivy educated, with PhDs, and they all dealt with loneliness, struggling between two cultures as different as chalk and cheese. It also bothered me that they all fought their troubles with alcohol; the younger generation, drinking or dating without their parents' knowledge. Further, through her stories, I thought Lahiri was trying to suggest that arranged marriages are kind of loveless, a sort of adjustment, where one grows to be only fond of the other out of mere habit, if nothing else. Almost everyone in my family and extended friends' circle has had an arranged marriage, and judging by how things are going currently, I guess I'll have one too (if ever I get married, that is). So this stereotype disturbed me, knowing that arranged marriages can be perfectly happy too. 

At this point, I was considering giving up the book, and remember thinking to myself that reading it was like eating Turkish Delight- at first, it's exquisite, but the more you eat, the more you end up feeling ill. But I don't like abandoning books half way through, so I persisted. And, was I glad I did! For, to me, Lahiri completely redeemed herself in the second part, a trilogy of sorts, titled Hema and Kaushik 

The first story, Once in a Lifetime , told from Hema's perspective, is about Kaushik and his family who return to the US after a stint in India, and stay in Hema's house till they can find a place for themselves. Kaushik and Hema's parents used to be family friends before; but after their return, they seem to have changed. Hema's parents remark in private that the Chaudhuris were not the same- Bombay had made them more American than Cambridge. Hema, aware of her schoolgirl attraction towards Kaushik, is hungry for his attention, but he ignores her, usually aloof and indifferent, till he reveals a terrible secret to her. 

The second story, Years' End , is told from Kaushik's point of view, and it's my favorite in the entire book. I despised the kind of person Kaushik grew up to be, and was shocked at the way he treated Rupa and Piu, and yet, I couldn't help but wonder whether I would have reacted differently had I been in his situation.

The final story, Going Ashore , is painful, heart wrenching even. Hema and Kaushik meet coincidentally in Rome, and the memories of the past bring them together, even when they both know that they cannot share a common future. I found Lahiri's flair for writing on loneliness very impressive- this, for instance, managed to convey volumes about how much Kaushik wished he hadn't let Hema go:
Behind the beach, rubber trees rose thickly on the hills. Somewhere across the water, beyond the Andaman Sea, was the Bay of Bengal, and Calcutta, where Hema was. 

The end of the story devastated me; and yet, it filled me with a sort of strange peace, the knowing that despite all that has happened, life just moves on.


P.S: Have you read this book? If you have, please let me know what you think of it. I've been craving to discuss this book with anyone who could be bothered.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kohl

A dash of kohl darkens her eyes,
She paints her lips blood red.
Every time, a little part of her dies
As she welcomes another man to her bed.
Such a strange society, she thinks.
To accept the man, they don't mind
Even though he abuses, beats, drinks
To her pains alone, they are blind.
And yet such hypocrisy!
They invite her to bless weddings
For she is auspicious;
The eternally wedded one,
Who will never suffer
The indignities of widowhood.
But apart from that, the man on the street
Will condemn her, scorn her, during the day
While stealthily planning to visit her 
In the safety of the night.
She cries at her helpless state
Knowing that the body will soon decay
Then what would be her fate?
The madam outside asks her to shush
The next one will soon arrive.
She adjusts the bangles on her wrist,
Paints her mouth again
Uses the kohl to hide the tears in her eyes
And goes back to a life of lies.

I wrote this after reading a book titled Journeys in the Night:Untold Stories from India's Best Known Writers, a poignant collection of essays written on AIDS in India. As I read more about how sex workers are so vulnerable to the disease, I learnt about how they are easily exploited, forced into the trade for lack of a choice. Kiran Desai's essay 'Night Claims the Godavari' spoke out to me, in particular. Here's something from the essay that is worth pondering over:
"I think of the sadness and defeat inherent in feminism, the humiliation of waving a banner: 'Well, I believe women should earn as much as men, and men should also help with housework etc etc...' when men from Oslo to Rajahmundry, are walking out of the back door, in fact, out of the front door, to seek out girls sold for less than the cost of a bottle of beer."

P.S: I haven't been blogging in ages! I'm hoping to be more regular here now.









Monday, November 24, 2014

Christopher Crossing the River

Yesterday I learnt that Father Kuriakose Chavara was conferred sainthood by Pope Francis. For some reason, I was reminded of Sister Ann and Sister Sheeba who taught me at Lena School, nestled in a small corner of the Nilgiri Hills, where I did my primary schooling. Maybe this was because Father Chavara had founded many schools like Lena. One can find several Chavara schools dotted around the towns of southern India. As I thought of the nuns at the convent, on the spur of the moment, all I could remember was the story of Saint Christopher that I had come across as a child. Perhaps Sister Sheeba read it out to us in one of those classes known as 'Moral Science'. Anyway, the story made a great impact on me. I can still see the black and white illustration of the gentle giant, Christopher, wading across the waters of the wild Jordan river, carrying the Child on his shoulders in my mind's eye; I can still feel the same tingle in my spine when the identity of the mysterious Child was revealed.
I really wanted to write about this story, and so decided to dabble in some narrative poetry.

Christopher was a giant, tall and fierce
Compared to him, they were dwarves, all his peers.
Carrying people across the river to earn his bread
A simple life, Christopher led.

The gates of heaven burst open one day
Torrents of rain, the gloomy skies turned grey
Full to the brim, the river was in spate
Nobody wanted to cross it and tempt fate.

All of a sudden, appeared a little child
Sweetly asking to cross the river, angry and wild.
Christopher refused, looking at the deluge in all its greed
But the mysterious child continued to plead.

And so he finally agreed
The child's request, he did heed
The child on his shoulders, he strode
Into the treacherous waters where the rain flowed.

The burden grew heavier with each step taken
Why did he accept this? His faith was shaken.
It was only a child, he thought, as the waters swirled.
Yet, it was like carrying all the troubles of the world.

Huffing and puffing, he reached the other end, half dead
That's when he noticed a subtle aura around the child's head
He vanished, without a trace.
Christopher finally understood, grateful for His grace. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter in the Desert

Abandoned street cats scrambling for warmth
Take shelter under the numerous cars
That dot the parking lots of the bustling city.
The sun turns in early,
Fatigued after many days of scorching summer
Night falls by the time the muezzin
Calls the faithful for the maghrib prayers.
The first stars of the evening
Shyly peek out of a velvety darkness
Eager camp goers pitch tents
In the depths of the silent desert,
Warming their hands around a bonfire
They count the stars,
Relieved at their escape
From the maddening megalopolis.
As the night wears on
The full moon beams brightly
Casting its glow over the vast emptiness.
A lonely man ambles down the desert road
Quiet, except for a few cars now and then
Wrapped in mufflers and monkey cap
Shivering in the biting cold
As he tries to sell newspapers
To anyone who'd bother to stop by.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Contents of a Suitcase

Kanjivaram silk saris, made to order
In vibrant hues of all kind.
A lone kasavu mundu with a golden border
She’d hardly wear them, never mind.
A tiny bottle of Indulekha hair oil
To be applied regularly, Amma had said
You won’t get all this on foreign soil
So please take care of your hair while it’s still on the head.
Pickled lime, mango in brine
Banana and jackfruit chips.
For a taste of home, you’ll no longer whine
Amma had said with a smile on her lips.
And now here she is in a faraway land
Comforted by this slice of home,
She gazed out at the stretches of sand
As the sun set behind the mosque dome.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who Are You?

Who are you?
Appa asks her.
His eyes, confused.
His hair, tousled.
His mind, a messy tangle.
Memory fading into oblivion.
Cobwebs of darkness all around.

She says,
'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one.
The one who fought over Scrabble with you.
When I was little
You held my hand,
Sat me on your lap
And helped me trace
The sacred harisree letters
In the plate of grain
On my vidyarambham day'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one.
You told me numerous stories.
How Krishna opened His mouth
And revealed the entire cosmos
To a startled Yashoda;
How Jesus calmed a storm
Brewing in the Sea of Galilee
Simply by raising his palm;
How Skanda tricked Avvaiyar paati
With the fruit from the jambu tree...'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
You made coffee for me at 2 am
While I struggled to commit to memory
The complex rules of quadratic algebra.
Years later, when I went to university
Far away from the home I love,
You became my alarm clock
During those frenzied days of exams
Not minding that you lived half a world away.'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
You were always so brave, fearless.
You would clutch my hand
As the village oracle danced his way to each house
Blood red robes, shaking his sword all over
Declaring the prophecies of Bhagavati.
As you placed the silver coins as dakshina
In front of him, you would tell me
To think of Swami and forget my fears.
And yet, today
As people in this vast city
Chant the cries of Ganpati baapa morya
Taking their idols to be immersed
In the vast nothingness of the Arabian Sea
You clutch my hand,
Fearful of the noises
That are now unknown to you.'

'Don't you remember, Appa?
I am your little one'
She says again.
He looks at her again.
'Who are you?'
And in a desperate struggle to
Awaken some distant recess of his mind,
A single tear flows down his cheeks.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nilgiri Times

Walking to a tiny schoolhouse in the clouds,
Much like the one Hillary built in a Sherpa village
Maroon sweaters and monkey caps in rows,
Breathing in the heady scent of pine and eucalyptus
The echo of the gong signalling recess break
Sunshiny days of hopscotch and 'teacher-teacher'.
Chasing butterflies under a blue blue sky
Where cotton clouds lay afloat.
Pretending to have long hair, a silly act
Achieved by wrapping  Amma's black dupatta around my mushroom cut.
Camp fires and kayaking
Pitching tents in untouched forests
A game of antakshari
Disturbed by the arrival of an uninvited guest:
A wild boar, indignant at the intrusion of its space.
Tuesday trips to town
Beginning with a visit to St Anthony's church
Followed by another one to the Ayappan kovil
St Anthony and Ayappan, no different
The Prince of Peace and the Prince of Pandalam, the same.
Done with the pilgrimages, time for pleasure.
Masala dosai and black currant ice cream at Kurinji's.
Tea at the old Irani chai shop.
Long hours at the Higginbotham's bookshop
And then a sleepy journey home
In the rickety town bus
Filled with people returning to the mountain villages
Gunny sacks with rice and vegetables
A chicken, here and there
Lovedale, Ketti, Yelenahalli, yells the conductor
The biting cold of the evening outside
And the smelly warmth inside the bus
Gently lulling me into the land of sleep.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is when you preach equality and oneness of humanity; yet you would not support your children marry someone from a different religion or caste.

Hypocrisy is when you constantly talk ill of your boss behind her back, regardless of the fact that there are many others listening to you; yet when the boss arrives, you become a yes-man, spouting a litany of praises, sycophancy at its peak. There's no doubt that humans are better than chameleons when it comes to changing colours.

Hypocrisy is when you talk about being kind and considerate; yet you pretend not to notice the old uncle standing in front of you in the MRT, his back bent double with age, obviously struggling to hold on to the iron poles. But you will remain blissfully unaware, smug in the warmth of your seat, nodding away to the music blasting off your iPod.

Hypocrisy is when you say you're proud to be a feminist; you staunchly believe that men and women are equal; yet you have no qualms about using your femininity to your advantage.

Hypocrisy is when you still hold on to the ridiculous notions of caste hierarchies, conveniently forgetting that Krishna was a cowherd, and Shiva, an angry ascetic who often smoked marijuana.

Hypocrisy is when you defend womens' rights, and yet when a woman is raped, you wonder whether she was alone at night, or with male friends, or if she was drunk, or what kind of clothes she happened to be wearing.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Unaccustomed Earth: A review

I must confess, I was at first slightly disappointed with Unaccustomed Earth, especially if you happen to compare it to the masterpiece that was Interpreter of Maladies. The book's titular story is about an American Bengali woman in Seattle, who awaits her father's visit home, for the first time after her mother dies. I didn't particularly like Ruma; I think I was struck by her selfishness, her fear that her father would want to spend the rest of his days at her home. Yet, I couldn't help empathizing with her, particularly in the ways she missed her mother more in her absence, than when she was there. And I loved the way the story ended, when Ruma finally unearths the secret that her Baba had harbored till then. 

The next story, Hell-Heaven , is told from the perspective of a little girl, and it's about an unlikely romance (I'm not sure if 'romance' is the right word) between her mother and a post-graduate American student who lands up in Boston. I liked the third story, A Choice of Accommodations the least. Was it because of the pessimism, the disappointment, expressed by Amit? (He remarks that 'all marriages disappear after a while', at a wedding of all places!) Or was it simply because he dared to put in words what many of us might have thought, but didn't have the guts to say?

I was beginning to get kind of depressed at this point. The characters were annoying me, and it seemed that Lahiri had succumbed to creating stereotypes. All her characters were Bengali Americans, Ivy educated, with PhDs, and they all dealt with loneliness, struggling between two cultures as different as chalk and cheese. It also bothered me that they all fought their troubles with alcohol; the younger generation, drinking or dating without their parents' knowledge. Further, through her stories, I thought Lahiri was trying to suggest that arranged marriages are kind of loveless, a sort of adjustment, where one grows to be only fond of the other out of mere habit, if nothing else. Almost everyone in my family and extended friends' circle has had an arranged marriage, and judging by how things are going currently, I guess I'll have one too (if ever I get married, that is). So this stereotype disturbed me, knowing that arranged marriages can be perfectly happy too. 

At this point, I was considering giving up the book, and remember thinking to myself that reading it was like eating Turkish Delight- at first, it's exquisite, but the more you eat, the more you end up feeling ill. But I don't like abandoning books half way through, so I persisted. And, was I glad I did! For, to me, Lahiri completely redeemed herself in the second part, a trilogy of sorts, titled Hema and Kaushik 

The first story, Once in a Lifetime , told from Hema's perspective, is about Kaushik and his family who return to the US after a stint in India, and stay in Hema's house till they can find a place for themselves. Kaushik and Hema's parents used to be family friends before; but after their return, they seem to have changed. Hema's parents remark in private that the Chaudhuris were not the same- Bombay had made them more American than Cambridge. Hema, aware of her schoolgirl attraction towards Kaushik, is hungry for his attention, but he ignores her, usually aloof and indifferent, till he reveals a terrible secret to her. 

The second story, Years' End , is told from Kaushik's point of view, and it's my favorite in the entire book. I despised the kind of person Kaushik grew up to be, and was shocked at the way he treated Rupa and Piu, and yet, I couldn't help but wonder whether I would have reacted differently had I been in his situation.

The final story, Going Ashore , is painful, heart wrenching even. Hema and Kaushik meet coincidentally in Rome, and the memories of the past bring them together, even when they both know that they cannot share a common future. I found Lahiri's flair for writing on loneliness very impressive- this, for instance, managed to convey volumes about how much Kaushik wished he hadn't let Hema go:
Behind the beach, rubber trees rose thickly on the hills. Somewhere across the water, beyond the Andaman Sea, was the Bay of Bengal, and Calcutta, where Hema was. 

The end of the story devastated me; and yet, it filled me with a sort of strange peace, the knowing that despite all that has happened, life just moves on.


P.S: Have you read this book? If you have, please let me know what you think of it. I've been craving to discuss this book with anyone who could be bothered.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kohl

A dash of kohl darkens her eyes,
She paints her lips blood red.
Every time, a little part of her dies
As she welcomes another man to her bed.
Such a strange society, she thinks.
To accept the man, they don't mind
Even though he abuses, beats, drinks
To her pains alone, they are blind.
And yet such hypocrisy!
They invite her to bless weddings
For she is auspicious;
The eternally wedded one,
Who will never suffer
The indignities of widowhood.
But apart from that, the man on the street
Will condemn her, scorn her, during the day
While stealthily planning to visit her 
In the safety of the night.
She cries at her helpless state
Knowing that the body will soon decay
Then what would be her fate?
The madam outside asks her to shush
The next one will soon arrive.
She adjusts the bangles on her wrist,
Paints her mouth again
Uses the kohl to hide the tears in her eyes
And goes back to a life of lies.

I wrote this after reading a book titled Journeys in the Night:Untold Stories from India's Best Known Writers, a poignant collection of essays written on AIDS in India. As I read more about how sex workers are so vulnerable to the disease, I learnt about how they are easily exploited, forced into the trade for lack of a choice. Kiran Desai's essay 'Night Claims the Godavari' spoke out to me, in particular. Here's something from the essay that is worth pondering over:
"I think of the sadness and defeat inherent in feminism, the humiliation of waving a banner: 'Well, I believe women should earn as much as men, and men should also help with housework etc etc...' when men from Oslo to Rajahmundry, are walking out of the back door, in fact, out of the front door, to seek out girls sold for less than the cost of a bottle of beer."

P.S: I haven't been blogging in ages! I'm hoping to be more regular here now.