Monday, December 23, 2013

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Title: The Almond Tree
Author : Michelle Cohen Corasanti 

Publisher : Fingerprint Publishing (Prakash Book)
Genre : Historical Fiction
ISBN : 9788172344870 
Number of Pages : 352

It is one of the rarest of rare stories that tell you of the triumph of good over evil. Not many stories I have read look into very personal accounts of the protagonist,this being an exception. This was too true to be a fiction!
The story takes us to the mid nineteen fifty and talks of Ahmed and his family and their travails in a war hit Palestine.
The story begins with the protagonist's little sister being torn apart by a landmine. What is heart wrenching is they can't even give her a respectable burial that very night owing to the hostility imposed by the curfew.
The heart rending moments from the story make you think twice about how power and hatred can shred this beautiful world into shambles.
The brutal death of his sisters, the holding of Sara's body by his only living sister and mother to keep the maggots at bay, the blowing up of their house charring it to a rubble, confiscation of their property by the Israelites and their life in the tent, their job at the construction site and the slaughterhouse, the inhuman sighting at the detention centre, the disrespectful barbarism of the Israeli officials towards Ahmed and Abbas when they go to meet their father, Abbas and his accident and the untimely death of Nora are agonizing moments that made my heart cringe.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I support LGBT rights (Part 2)

Meeting and knowing Rohan made me realize that love doesn't always have to be heterosexual and a family doesn't always need to have a husband, wife and biological kids. A family of course can have parents of the same sex and children not born of the germs of the husband and wife.
Having met Rohan told me of 'alternative' families that the society always had but wasn't willing to talk of.

Sreelakshmi was the first transgender I had known in person at a Gender Equality meet I had attended in the city organized by a publisher. The only other times that I had known them were at a 'badhai' function of a male child or at the city red lights begging. Everytime I ever came across a transgender I used to think that they would be curseful if I don't give them what they ask for,always making sure to walk away or hand out the money they were soliciting. To having been a beggar and then a prostitute her story ate my heart out. It takes careless courage to talk of a past that was a malady of misery. She had even authored her biography which I couldn't buy then for a poetry collection had been in my mind since a long time. I happened to partake pleasentries with her during lunch and what startled me the most were her intelligent discourses on gender equality. She stressed on why the movement of gender equality should be a collective calling for both the LGBT community and women. You have to be a gender equality believer with substantial sensibility to be talking like that.
She also expressed her desire to adopt a child along with her partner of those times. I have only always been hopeful of many orphans getting a family and home when I meet people like Rohan and Sreelakshmi.

Friday, December 13, 2013


'Google' will draw you a map to my place
as you would hold your phone in your palm
like a magnetic compass,
the red arrow turning its neck
left and right like a kathakali dancer, and then
straight on its nose
as you ring the bell.

I would brake my swiftly
speeding bones to not
plunge into your arms
which I believe
would be spread in
the "Our Father" position
to catch me lest I fall.

When we sit together to read
a book, the afternoon
would write stories of salacious silence,
some we will read
on each other's lips.

A kiss will be the only language
salient against sound

else we can watch a movie
with women in saris
swaying to the pontiffs of patriarchy
then when we get talking
I'll tell you about how crammed
the coaches are
when the hissing metal-head
ferries me home every evening.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why I support LGBT rights (Part 1)

Until a few years ago I really didn't know what LGBT meant. Yes I knew that gays and lesbians existed and they are the people who have a sexual preference for those from the same sex, but their existence made me wonder, what was so natural and socially unacceptable about them. For once I wondered why did me or anyone like me, create a hullabaloo about what they wanted to do inside the four walls of their bedroom. Back then the idea of a woman making love to a woman, or a man doing the same was the wierdest unreality I didn't want to come to terms with. I always thought that gays and lesbians were only into same sex relationships for pleasure while they understood nothing about love.
Until I gave a name to my stand for my own rights, which popularly is called feminism, gay-ism or lesbian-ism was something towards which I had an apolitical approach. I thought it was better to seal my lips about same sex relationships which didn't affect my life directly or indirectly, for I had no gay or lesbian friends and no one in the family who practiced homosexuality. Then I met Rohan De'Cruz (name changed). A dashingly handsome guy who was the first of my friends at the Christmas carol group I used to sing for. One look at the man and I bet every woman, every woman who appreciates the beauty in a man would turn a second time to look at him. Rohan was this warm, sweet guy who I thought could be taken home to introduce to mom. The friendship between me and Rohan grew stronger when one day he decided to confide in me. All the single women in our carol group dolled it up everyday, in the vain hope of getting into his good books. For the strangest reason this guy always blessed me, the plain Jane of the group with all the attention. And that made many women go green. I was even told that the more jealous ones had even planned something evil to impair my voice, so that they could get rid of me and take turns to thrill him with their charms.

It was 11th December, exactly two weeks before Christmas. After the practice sessions, we were packing our bags to leave. While me and another friend were swaying with the higher and lower tones in the chorus of a song, a beleaguered Rohan pulled me out of the room and asked me to get into his car. I sensed that something was amiss. His face was pale, washed with tears and he was stuttering to breathe. He drove me towards the South avenue area which is more or less deserted after the peak office hours, in the winters. He stopped the car near an uninhabited corner of the road.
By now, my heart was in my mouth and I regretfully cursed myself for risking my safety while deciding to be out with a guy whom I had barely known for a few months. I didn't know what had gone wrong? I kept asking him about the cause of his worry but he chose to stay silent until we reached that deserted corner of the road.

''I lost my partner in a road accident.'' he yelled.
I tried to dig into his words trying to understand the meaning of the word 'partner'.
''What do you mean by partner?''
I inquired in dismay.
And his reply sent shock waves across my nerves, a spine chilling confession that changed the dynamics of my feelings towards him.
He confessed to being a gay and whimpered like a baby while telling me about how his partner had died in a car crash, a few hours ago, and why he can't make it to his funeral since his family didn't want him to lead the life of a gay guy.
I didn't know what to make of it. Did I have to mourn the death of love that will never be born between us or should I lend my shoulder to a great friend who had been supportive in times of trouble.
There was no love between us and there will never be a future for us. I decided to be the 'friend in need'.
That night, it was for the first time that I had known that gay love was not just sexual. One has to know a homosexual person very closely to understand the finer elements of the love for their partner.
Rohan found love in Jason again and the two have been going strong since three years. They would get married soon and adopt a son. That is what they want from life and that is what most gay and lesbian couples hope to get from life.

Rohan was the first of homosexuals I was ever meeting in my life. And since then our friendship has grown through the thick and thin.
Rohan's mom wanted him to be a 'closet gay'. She wanted to force him into a heterosexual marriage and procreation. I was one of the many 'good' girls who had caught her attention. But Rohan decided to clear the air about his sexuality and not ruin a poor girl's life. His decision to come out of the closet and stick to his ground makes him one of the most wonderful men I have ever known.

Through Rohan, I have known a lot of gay men and lesbian women who cow down to hypocritical calling of the society and marry. Some gays marry lesbians and vice versa while the others marry heterosexuals from their own caste and creed, falling to the tall promises of their families that never want them to come out of their closets. Many have kids that they never wanted to make, due to this fiasco of falsehood and live and die to please the moral mentors of the society.

The SC court ruling that happened in the morning made me think of Rohan suddenly.  I wonder which era we live in?  While martial rape is "legal" and the punishment in that case is negligible, sex between two consenting adults, well over the age of 18 and in the concealed corners of their bedroom is a "criminal offence" in the largest democracy of the world. The democracy that claims for equal rights for its people can't stand for the privileges of a section of the society that is blatantly getting discriminated against, for their choice of sexuality and is often abusively exploited. 

Section 377, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter ‘IPC’) was enacted by the British colonial regime to criminalise ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. It was rooted in the Judeo-Christian religious morality that abhorred non-procreative sex.
You can read more about it here.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thoughts of a Apolitical Nota Believer

This assembly election saw us caught between two constituencies. Since we had shifted only two months back, our names weren't included in the voters list of the constituency we had shifted to. And when we made queries about it, they told us that maybe by the time the country goes for the general elections in may or june we will get our right to vote.
By the way, it is not just us but many like us, whose names were missing from the voters list. I saw people creating a choral chaos outside polling booths while watching the morning news and most of them were residents in their constituency since many years. It is appalling that the election commission doesn't mind its business in the way it should. While a few of my brother's friends excitedly sang in chorus for Kejriwal's AAP many others believed in the power of the palm. Later while watching Arnab Goswami blare with the exit poll results, I realized that the broom had indeed swept the mango man off his feet. AC Nielsen and C voter predicts 16-18 seats for AAP and if Kejriwal is in no mood to join hands with the single largest party then a second round of voting might just be around the corner.
Kejriwal if we have to believe in the words in his mouth, is in no mood to barter a business with either the Cong or Bjp. And with the exit polls predicting two to four seats for the other regional parties fighting it out the reality is grim.

For an apolitical voter like me neither the Bjp nor the Congress holds promise, even a debutante AAP has not managed to win my favour. Don't know if either of these parties can arrest the inflation and make the streets safer for women, politics after all is a dirty ditch that rots of corruption.
And with Kejriwal not having done justice to the poor old man Anna Hazare, having let him disappear without crediting him for having brought him into the spotlight, if all the media reports are to be believed I do not know if the broom wielders are an alternative option we can place our trust in.
Had we being given a vote this time, my call would have been the Nota.