Warped

Dreams and aspirations lie astray,

As I was taught restraint and obedience,

As I was directed to modesty and diffidence,

As I learnt to be demure and sympathetic.

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Wrapped as a daughter, a wife and a mother.

A philosopher. A cheerleader. A dictator.

A cook. A lover. A tutor.

Warped in multiple identities but The One,

Several faces at the loss of The One.

The price I paid.

Of simply being a woman.

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I am under veils of mystery,

Independence boxed by sentinels of society,

With their double standards and patriarchal mindsets.

The waters churn a storm beneath the calm,

The rocks brew lava within the silence.

A dam waiting to burst. A volcano itching to erupt.

Waiting for the dominoes to fall.

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Often called by the name of the rose.

Soft as petals. Rich in fragrance.

Unforgiving as thorns.

Simply a woman.



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Catharsis

For the last few months, I was operating on auto-pilot with the simplest default mode on. I was probably worse than a robot as at least a robot, has some direction configured. If someone had asked me to describe myself, then I’d have been at a loss! Let’s see what could have fit …

A process consultant? Eh!

An aspiring writer? I wish!

A health enthusiast? There have been days!

An experimental baker? Huh huh!

A questioning traveller? I try!

An awesome flower-chaser? Well… Yes!

That is one out of six … one and half if I give myself some benefit of doubt. That’s about it.

But now … I have at least one answer.

That I am still a person – and not a bad one at that. My consistent second-guessing of my mental state and of the Void I was peddling in is at peace. I am loving this … experience – it’s not quite a vacation- I don’t want to box it in. I have earlier written about the work my mother has been doing in the tribal village areas of Northeast India – possibly the most cut-off part of the country both culturally and geographically.

Since five days I have been immersed in the medical camps and the cathartic sense of purpose. These days are more real to me than the last few months. I am with people who still struggle for the most basic of facilities – for whom the word “doctor” is a distant dream. Yet the warm welcome, the outstanding hospitality and attention to details are simply wonderful! There is no power play, there is no politics, there is no personal vendetta. These are people who know work has to be done and are bent over backwards to ensure the dental camps operate smoothly.

No hiccup is too bad. No hurdle is too great. Why worry when there is a problem to be solved? Where there is a will… there is a way or at least a workaround! (I witnessed numerous classic textbook examples). Here I worried about my future, my life decisions while these people have no idea about their present. Yet they smile, yet they toil and yet they put the people above the individual. And for these fleeting moments, I am a part of this system, feeling their confusion, their pain and their hope.

I want to hold on to this warmth. As I write this after climbing half a hill to get range, I feel the cooling warmth of the autumn sun illuminating the valleys of rice fields and misty mountain tops. I want to bottle this light in a crystal decanter and preserve the pulse of those golden rays around me. A reminder that I too am living, breathing and thinking organism.

Unsaved

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Don’t you take a leaf from your memory

And hoard it away in the safe.

Your mind sifts through the times past

Filing the precious moments to be saved for eternity.

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Then you lock the safe and throw the key away,

Because you have the strength to move forward.

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But then the temptation rears its ugly head,

Mocking with the tantalizing flashes of simpler times.

When all is left is to smash it open

And scatter the vestiges of the souvenirs into the wind.

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You are empty-handed, without the safe or those recollections,

Left with exhaustion, incapable of creating more impressions. 


Written for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday – save/safe.

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My Gender

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“Because of your gender…”

“Because of your gender…”

“Because of your gender…”

It has become a revolving chorus in my head. I have been stubbornly silent for the past month – afraid of what might just spill out if I start ranting. I think I have calmed down enough to finally talk about it.

Basically, it has been a circus at work and I have been trying for a while to make a few horizontal transitions into a new department. I have never quite handled something like the new opportunity and the prospects are exciting as well as challenging.

While the murky politics of the movement played out, I got to meet with the super-duper-head of the new department a few weeks back. We are talking about one of the movers and shakers of the company and I couldn’t believe I was getting to speak to him. I walked into the conference room with my head held high and overwhelmed with what I had prepared to speak with him.

And it went downhill like nobody’s business. Not because he wasn’t happy with my work or my skills, not because he didn’t speak properly with me.

But because he stated precisely four times, that I am going to have tough time adapting to the new role given my gender. Given that I am a female. That his advice to other folks is different as they were all men. 

Four times.

Without even looking or knowing about my background or the work I have been leading these past few months. 

I chose to keep a straight face and not respond during any of those circumstances. I was expected to, I think, but I couldn’t dignify those comments with a reaction. I was afraid of what might spill out. I have never faced such blatant sexism – it is usually equivocal. And it delivered a sucker punch to my self-confidence.

I have cried and vented enough to people and I do not wish to put it writing – I am wondering if it makes me cowardly to want to forget it happened. It has been almost a month and I am trying hard to not dwell on it during those idle moments.

On one hand, I want to prove that any role is beyond gender.

But more than that, I just want to forget the way I felt when I walked out of that room – small, shrunken and insignificant.



 

Strings of Love

Perhaps it is simply an illusion

A myth taken from the pages of time

To make us covet, to make us feel

Instill a sense of direction.

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When we are all just puppets,

Held by its strings on destiny

A nameless formless intoxication of the mind

Led by the skips and tugs of the heart.

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Yet when two destinies collide

Tales are written and celebrated

Inked by the pull and push of the forces

Whimsical and barely out of reach

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Connects us to people and memories

Unties the knots of emotions

Releases the pulse of your inertia

Rushes the blood to the core of your soul

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A kinetic energy that sparks between them

Beyond science and engineering

Lighted by the divine interstellar explosion

Otherwise simply referred to as love.



Simply love.