Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Makeup

My mother doesn't trust women 
who wear it. She says, longer hair
is a better bet as Paul, the apostle said
they are a woman's jewels.

Why are they playing "hide and seek"?
seeking someone who is another person
because the one in the mirror
decided to wear a mask.

Why do they paint their face
black and blue, 
when the sun scorched brown
brings them back to life.

Advice to the Young Woman Poet

Do not imprison yourself in a cage of rules
they will bend and break your bones
let the twinge in your heart
instruct you like an experienced school teacher.

Write a poem because you wish to breath
Experience. Not for the vain glory you get 
showered with.

Read your work 
let it not let you down
instead rise from the ashes
everytime your emotions burn
as ferociously as a forest fire.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Walking Away

Airports fascinated me very much. Everytime I go there, a new story is born. Like common cold the memory takes its own sweet time to heal.
The blue passport with the golden Ashoka emblem was gleaming from underneath my huge black bag. Who would have thought that one day I would be taking leave from a country I had grown up in. My love for India was littered by my love for research. What followed was a struggle that threw my life in shambles. Sometimes, the choices we need to make are never the kinds that we might have decided to make. The project that came my way was like a lover who belongs to another caste or religion, for whom putting up a fight with the rest of the world made more sense than letting go.
Within days, I was freed of my predicament. Of trying to put up with parents who thought that a daughter staying alone in a foreign country, would spell doom on the family’s honour. 
This glossy ambience of the airport was like a precursor to things that were to follow. Much like a reminder of what I deserve and had not got, until now.
The destination board was beaming with blue and red lettered words. I could see a lot of human activity around me, much of which had a lot of bag and baggage to drag. Their noisy kids added to my daunting dilemma, and I decided to hunt for a quieter corner, where in I could be at peace.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Catholic church and its long history of clerical sexual abuse

This is not the first time that a priest has misused his powers and indulged in an act that priesthood forbids. A long and notorious history of catholic priests involved in sex crimes tells us that the preachy church has a rotten history of burying dirty secrets allowing systemic gender violence to mushroom in its backyard.
The latest incident that has rocked the church and its faithful followers is the repeated rape of a minor girl by the vicar of a local church at Kottiyoor in Kannur district,Kerala. He was the manager of the school in which the girl attended classes until February 6th, a day before she gave birth to baby boy.
What is bizarre is a system that had tried to cover up the crime until the Kerala police conducted intensive searches and arrested the accused priest and seven others including five nuns and the doctor of the church run hospital where the girl gave birth to the child, were on the run.  There were picked up on February 7th and booked under non-bailable sections. The police should be applauded for being swift and efficient but what breaks the heart of faithful Christians like me is that the onus of the sexual crime is being put on the minor child. The church conveniently retorted to victim blaming rather than accepting the need to clean up the rot in the system.


According to News Minute's report on an editorial written by Sunday Shalom, a Christian weekly, the rape could have been averted by the girl if she wanted to. The weekly said "Here, the girl is above the age of 15. Let me tell you this, as I consider you like my daughter, you are also at fault. Before the Lord, it is you who will have to answer first. Daughter why did you forget who a priest is? He has a human body and has temptations. He may have forgotten his position for a few seconds, my child who has taken the Holy Communion, why didn't you stop or correct him?"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Accamma Cherian

"I am the leader; shoot me first before you kill others."
These were the words of the brave Accamma Cherian who led a mass rally from Thamapanoor to the Kowdiar palace of the Maharaja Chithira Thirunal to get the ban on the State Congress lifted. Her courage was hailed by Mahatma Gandhi and she came to be known as the Jhansi Rani of Travancore.
Early Life and Education
She was born on 14 February 1909 in a Nasrani family (Karippaparambil) at Kanjirapally, Travancore to Thomman Cherian and Annamma Karippaparambil as their second daughter. She was schooled at the Government Girls High School, Kanjirapally and later at St. Joseph’s High School, Changanacherry. She did a BA in History from St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam after which she took up teaching at St. Mary’s English medium school, Edakkara in the year 1931. She later went on to become the headmistress of this school and worked for this institution for six years.
Read the rest of the post here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Masculinity and Gender crimes

The fight for gender equality has to constantly tackle one major problem: the sense of entitlement of the man and his perception of the woman as a weak object, a property to be owned.
A common crime that has been on the rise in India and has blatantly exposed the privilege of the Indian man is an acid attack, against an ex-lover, wife or a woman who has refused to acknowledge the sexual advances or a marriage proposal aggravating the masculine need to get what he wants at whatever cost and assert his power. Possessiveness, territoriality, insecurity have been entitled to men in a patriarchal society where they are seen as the custodians of women’s bodies and their rights.
We have been rocked by innumerable incidents of acid attacks in the past which have shown an increase from 83 in 2011 to 349 in 2015 (Research by Acid Survivors Foundation India). India has the worst convictions rates for acid attacks and much like the other crimes against women, these cases are treated with societal indifference and official apathy.
Revenge crimes are born because of this misplaced sense of entitlement and power. An incident that shocked me recently happened in Kottayam, Kerala where a jilted lover barged inside the classroom at the School of Medical education with a bottle of petrol pouring it on his ex-lover and setting her ablaze. The attacker who was a student of the same medical school then got out of the classroom and set himself on fire. The girl and the accused were admitted to Kottayam medical college where they succumbed to their injuries.
According to the victim’s friends both had been in love with each other for some time until the girl backed out because of her parent’s opposition to the relationship. The accused, a resident of Kollam stalked and threatened her on several occasions after which he retorted to this extreme step.
Entitlement is a privilege in a patriarchal society where women do not have the agency to refuse. Revenge is sought for rejecting a marriage proposal or sexual advances. Women are also been attacked for not bringing enough dowry, for bearing a female child and for not cooking a good meal or the refusal to do it.
Every crime against a woman is based on the deeply rooted bias that they are dependent humans who do not have the liberty to exercise the freedom to live their life which is a fundamental right. Women are struggling to claim their subjectivity as a fully formed human subject who have the right to say a no to a man.
Read the rest of the post here




                            Picture credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-24012424

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Doctorate degree is a not a freebie!

We treat our celebrities like kings and queens. Don't we? Other than cheering for them and paying for their bills, we shower them with a lot of love. The recent case of a stampede at the Vadodra railway station during the promotion of the SRK movie Raees is an example of how devotedly we worship our heroes and heroines. 
While most of these celebrities stash a lot of wealth, indulge in financial frauds and get away with crimes, there are a handful of them to whom we can really look upto. The ones who inspire us with their rightful actions and set an example for the future generation. In the past I have quietly seen famous celebrities accept honorary degrees for outstanding contribution in their fields, and blow one's horn about their achievements.