Tuesday, August 13, 2019

13th August 2019

A no is a word to be known 
Understood and most of all 
Eaten. Raw. It tastes bitter 
Like the first coffee you had
With a person who chatters 
More loudly than you
In the quiet corners of a coffee shop 
Tucked in the folds 
Of a street that you pass by everyday
Spilling with human voices.

A no is a two lettered word
That comes quietly in a message 
Which should have not have arrived
It crumbles everytime you pass
By the quaint neighbourhood
Where he lives.  No is a sound 
That yells from the trees that are
Quietly ageing. Much like you.

Looking out of the window is 
An everyday conversation 
That happens. 
In the absence of love. When
Someone who should have spoken 
To you decides to seal his lips. 
No is a curse that has befallen 
On you for a lifetime 
In this trap of questions that chokes
Every day, no is an answer that has 
Made breathing easier than it used to be
When yes. Was a lie.



Monday, May 20, 2019

Status of women in the Syrian Christian society

Introduction

This article aims at showing the practices and procedures existing in the events of birth, marriage and death amidst the Syrian Christians of the state of Kerala in India. And the rituals and customs aimed at creating a mental and social divide in a patriarchal society with the place of women in the father's household and in her conjugal household after marriage. So also it will explore the elements of Syrian Christian wedding and the Indian practices customized exclusively for the women, and not the men to bear as symbols of devotion in a matrimonial relationship. 

The subject of analysis are the Syrian Christians of the state of Kerala in India, who believe that they were converted by St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ according to myths that date back to AD 52, but since 17th century have been divided into several different church denominations and traditions. The Orthodox and Jacobite syrian Christians are two of the segments of one denomination which split in 1912, with one paying allegiance to the patriarch of Antioch and the other to the Malankara metropolitan, the Catholicos.1
Kerala society in the earliest centuries was traditionally plural. It allowed for the portrayal and interaction of the Hindu, Christian, and Syrian codes which led to a later society inspired by all these schools of thought. There was an effective internal impetus towards reciprocal relativity among the various spheres of social life, and less of dominance or submission of any one in relation to the others. There had been the areas bound by a pluralistic system of values in which the other spheres of activity are accorded their due and place. It does not mean at all that the Syrian Christians did not have their private world. They did have their own private world. It related to their rituals and ecclesiastical life, “with the norms of endogamy determining the level of contact and intimacy between the individuals”. The Christian community, as the traditions of the Syrian Christians show, lived and developed and the Christian life grew on the pattern of temple-life of the Hindus.2 The community must have lived together as a caste, in villages or in towns, as is the ancient custom of India, and the church probably stood in a central place. Apart from the convenience for church-worship, the Christians considered it spiritually elevating to live near the churches, and this preference for living near the churches has continued in Kerala down to this day. They used to bring the sick to the church. The churches and the surrounding places were used as inns or Dharmashalas by the pilgrims.

1 A. R Sreedharan Menon, Cultural heritage of Kerala, An Introduction, p 57
2 A. M. Mundadan, History of Christianity in India, Vol. I, Bangalore, TPI, 1984, Pp. 1-21


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Is male objectification catering to gender parity?

A question that is doing the rounds in feminist circles nowadays is that do men get objectified just like women do, especially with feminism clearly addressing issues of misogyny and traditional patriarchy? The answer is yes, they do. But not the same as women.

Sexual objectification can be defined as the viewing of human beings as a sum total of their body parts with no regard to their personalities or feelings. Sexual objectification has made one person the agent and another person the object.

In our conception of heterosexual relationships, the man is considered to be the subject and woman the object. Sexual objectification does not give a person the freedom to choose what they want sexually.

Sexual objectification in our culture

Sexual objectification has a status quo attached to it, which has always made the woman the subject and this thinking is so deeply ingrained in our culture that items songs with scantily clad actresses have been used to sell movies to a male audience or female models have been presented as objects to sell products used by men. The target here is the sensuality of a man who will be attracted to female objectification and will buy the product.

Bollywood has successfully objectified women in movies, by making women actors expose their midriffs, cleavages and legs dancing to music with crude, sexist lyrics. Most women actors are presented as though they are to be devoured. Indeed sexual objectification of women runs the advertising industry and has sold thousands of products by effectively dehumanizing women.

OBJECTIFYING ANY HUMAN BODY ISN’T PROGRESS, MAN OR WOMAN.

Even in everyday life, girls are asked to cover up to avoid distracting their male friends and acquaintances which patriarchal powers in authority think will create “unsafe” circumstances for girls. Which they think can’t be controlled by imposing stricter rules on those who are complicit in making spaces unsafe for girls.



Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Body Shaming: Fat and thin are socially constructed images

Your body is your business, especially it's size but one of the first sexist social constructs that was often slapped on us was being told that a thin woman is pretty. I grew up to this idea of a perfect body image and thought that flab was "unpretty" and would not get me boyfriends and a husband when I'd decide to take the plunge and make a family. Adulthood brought it's own dilemmas one of which was, that I started to grow fatter despite being a vegetarian and a runner.This trend of moving from fit to fat got me thinking, even though I had no ambitious fitness goals like the actors or sportspersons.


I started eating smaller portions of food and gulping down water like a fish but it didn't work in my favour. I have a very strange body type which of course I don't intend to liken with fruits. I have really heavy arms and it seems all the fat that stealthily gets under my skin finds a home around the arms. Initially I didn't pay heed to it and ignored all the warning bells. No one at home especially my parents ever bothered to tell me about it, nor did my best of friends. My arms started swelling and apparently one day a comment from a friend's friend got me thinking. His usage of sexist language was evident in the message he wanted to convey. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Pinch of Salt

She ambled towards the kitchen sheepishly. It was their first morning together after a lavish and loud wedding. They didn't have sex but to sleep in the same room with a stranger was an uncomfortable experience. They said that he was her husband but then he hardly knew her except for the fact that he loved to go for plays and took a keen interest in writing.
To cook for a stranger was an uphill task but this was the moment that could break the ice between them. 
The kitchen was neat and everything was placed in order with clear labels pasted on the jars. She smiled happily at the thought of having accidentally married a guy who was spick and span and knew how to take care of his belongings. 
The space was stacked with all the latest home appliances that were invented to make cooking an effortless and painless experience. She was in awe of the man she had married after having a glance of his scullery. He had indeed been brought up with a sense and value for responsibility. 
She wondered as to what was the first dish that she should make for her beloved husband that would make him fall head over heels in love with her. She didn't want the first meal of their life to leave a distaste in their mouths.
The window threw the warmth of the sun on her face.The bright red flowers in the garden were gleefully basking in the aubade aura of the yellow star. 
She decided to make chole (chickpeas) and puri (wheat bread fried in oil). She remembered that on their first date in a sparsely lit restaurant in south Bombay he had joked about craving for chole bhature after having moved away from home. Struggling to knead the dough to perfection she had to make sure that the surprise she had planned for her husband  remained behind the closed doors. After battling with the hissing sounds of the fried oil and getting incinerated in the heat she hurriedly rushed to the bathroom to wash herself. She didn't want to stink like a pig and waste the moment she was looking forward to.

The ceramic tray was brimming with utensils. The pots made a loud clinging noise that woke him up. With half open eyes and a shy smile he looked at her from the comfort of the couch that was his resting place for the night. He moved quickly to the bathroom and returned in a jiffy, quickly positioning himself on the wooden chair of the study table placed in the corner of the room. She couldn't look at him with confidence or for that matter with ardor as he was this stranger turned acquaintance who had posed with her on a gilded stage for the frenzied photographers last night.
As they sat down to have the first meal of their life together as husband and wife, he gingerly touched her for the first time moving the bunch of wet dripping hair away from her face. She was taken aback by the gentle grazing of his skin on hers. They said that a way to a man's heart was through his stomach, perhaps they were right.
As he broke a piece of the puri and dipped it in chole, biting into it like a gluttonous dog, the expression on his face suddenly changed. As she bent over him to inquire as to what was wrong with the food, he grinned and inquired as to whether she could find the jar of salt or not.She tasted the food, smiling back in hesitation intently looking at a man who had no qualms in forgiving her for being stupid, or perhaps unmindful.

Forgetfulnes and a pinch of salt gave them their first sweet moment.






'This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.'

Thursday, January 31, 2019

To the guy I started knowing on Ash Wednesday, last year

In the end what really matters
is this ache, strong and unavoidable
the longing that stays limp on crumpled bed sheets
on mirrors covered with steam 
where I trace his name and watch it melt
in the picture that makes me realise
how thick his  stubble is.

On some days the fear gallops
like a sick horse tied in a stable
thoughts meander and don't stay still
worrying about his dinner, the insomnia that is  a habit, the countless moments when he stares into his computer screen like a hungry child
His favourite lullaby, the sounds of the phone. 

On long walks to the church 
I remember the day we first spoke 
after being smeared with ash
On valentine's day last year
sitting on one of the lonely pews
of the church I made promises 
to myself to stay hungry. To grow thin.
To give a portion of the food I won't eat.
On the ride back  home on the metro 
I was content. Sitting alone on one of the seats I felt someday I'd find someone to sit by my side. To walk with me to the church. Someone who'd watch me pray and won't shy away from the colour of the ash.

I have watched the year pass by
like a carefree  childhood summer
I've seen the flowers wilt
wear new clothes and bathe in the bright yellow sun
I've travelled across the seas, eaten stale food, watched snow cripple the grass
for the first time, written goodbye messages, worn a thick skin over my favourite red sweater.

It'll be another ash Wednesday soon
when in a winter land I'll breathe through the thick fog, telling myself
that he is right beside me melded in my shadow
till I hear him again
my heart making a muted confession
during a long distance call
and another night we would spend
bearing the weight of bedridden arms
that have searched for each other, since a hundred Wednesdays.



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Year in Calgary downtown

The town is blinking. Tonight all her crooked alleys are brightly shining.
They glimmer like a newly wed bride gilded in gold.
I don't know the name of the place but it's anonymity comforts me, she doesn't know me either.

The new year party is on
The sky is dressed in the shimmer of fireworks. Her eyes painted as intricately as that of a dancer.
She's welcoming her new lover. Today is the day when she'll meet him.
I remember the connaught circle
It's nook and cranny thronged with people on new year's eve
reminds you of a swarm of bees, ready for attack.
I didn't know the names of the lifeless bodies swaying on the streets, poisoned with alcohol
I didn't know if they'd make it home after the celebrations
Or will wander on roads named after dead people.
One thing is common. Between how the new year arrives. There and here.
Every person pins their hope on tomorrow's sun.
They anticipate it's arrival like a mother expecting her first child.
Somewhere the bells ring. The sky is lit up. The people cheer.
Here comes another year. In a land I didn't know about.
Last year at this time I was welcoming possibilities.
This year I usher in nothingness.
Nothingness weighed down by doubts.
Doubts about how will I survive, this strange city's scary gaze.
He suddenly seems like the intimidating ruffian I used to meet on delhi streets.
Each day. Every other day.