The Battle is Lost Not the War

We all know how brilliantly awesome and ‘Fabulous!’ the community is. The discrimination stems from fear. Fear of unknown, fear of the different. Anything that is different has the power to disturb the balance, there by leading to uncomfortable questioning of the status quo. To protect the make believe cultural, social order the different (difference) must be curbed out. Allowing the different to exist and thrive would mean giving power to the other. No binary can sustain if both sides have power.

Understand why there is hate, then fight the haters. Fight the system. This party has just started. It’s a long way ahead and it will only get better with each day.

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Something I doodled for the awesome folks! In solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

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I Wish I Could Tell You

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a story.
With a proper beginning, middle and end
All the plot holes are for a reason—
That all the loose ends tie up in the end

I wish I could tell you
Life is like a novella.
So hang in there, for
The next plot-twist will blow your mind away.
Urge you not to give up
Because there will be a happy ending.

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a happy love story.
Lovers’ toil will bring blossoms, and fruits of
Love’s labour will reap.
That, don’t lose hope
Soon you will wind up together.
This time forever.

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a fairy tale.
With its tests and tricks:
Wicked stepmothers’ plotting
Benevolent Godmother’s spells. Prince Charming will come and save you,
Or your Mulan will help you win.
And there will be a ‘Happily ever after!’

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a tragedy.
That you will go through the motions,
Winning hearts and losing friends,
Avenging the dead, offending the living.
That you will live, wishing
You never had been born.
You will die for your cause,
Oblivious if it was worth it or not.
That one day it will all come to an end.

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a musical.
Every time you felt
You were losing the plot,
A song would come
To lift your spirits.
That you would know life is
simple and complex
And much more than it seems.

I wish I could tell you,
Life is like a novel.
Happy, sad, tearjerker,
Thriller, crime, adventure.
When it would get unbearable—
I would jump to the end,
Just to make doubly sure.
So that I could tell you
50 pages later, you will
Feel like dying, but don’t.
‘Coz 90 more pages later
You will be the happiest person alive.
That when you would ask me with hapless sighs,
I could confidently say, this is why!

I wish I could tell u,
But I can’t. ‘Coz it’s not.
So when you feel like
Drowning in your tears,
Fight a bit more.
When it seems you are
Falling in black abyss, stay calm.
‘Coz I will throw the rope of hope
And you tug it three times
To tell me, I have got you.
It may take forever to get out
Or maybe the rope will fall short.
At least you and I would know,
It was worth the effort.

Beauty Concept, Body and Eating Disorders

We are told that ‘being health conscious is good.’ ‘Healthy is good, unhealthy is bad.’ Why then the media focuses on the svelte figure of women? And why does women’s magazine focus so much on ‘how to get flat tummy in 7 days?’ or which celeb lost/gained weight? According to media an actress cannot gain weight. Gaining weight, even if it is during pregnancy, is a horrible crime and not getting rid of it ASAP is an even greater sin. Hundreds memes defaming “the fatness” attract millions of like on social networking sites, but majority of them have ‘fat’ girls or women.

Then there is a section of ‘responsible’ media that has come out in defense of ‘fat’ women with campaigns like “Real beauty” and much ink (albeit virtual ink) has been spilled for and against it. While on the face value they are doing a commendable job of portraying full figured women of various ‘unconventional’ sizes, the products that they are selling tries to hide the cellulite, wrinkles—basically in order to be a ‘real’ beauty one needs to perfect the flaws. Another problem with the concept of ‘real beauty’, ‘real women’ is the models, although of ‘unconventional’ sizes and body types, are full-figured with flat stomach and toned (airbrushed?) ‘problem areas’ at best. ‘Real’ woman doesn’t look like that.

Women, like men and children have ‘flaws’. She has uneven skin, often with freckles and pores, scaly skin with wrinkles and worry lines that map her face and crow feet that highlight the twinkle in her eyes when she smiles. She has cellulite and sometimes she tries to cover it and on some days she doesn’t even want to bother about it. She probably has a muffin top or even a rotund belly and is (or is not) capable of liking the way it falls and rises when she is lying or she has perfectly flat stomach or striving for one. Either way, she is a ‘real’ woman.

The problem is not that the company is being hypocritical, (it’s ad world! That’s how it functions). Neither is the problem that they are using flat stomached, arguably well toned models. In fact their effort to break away from the stereotypes and widen our perception to accommodate achievable standards as beauty is commendable. The problem is with the words ‘Real beauty’ ‘real women’. Are they setting down definitions, listing down things that one needs to have or not have in order to qualify as being ‘real’ women? It, like many of the feminist and pseudo-feminist blogs have reiterated, borders on thin-shaming. A thin girl or woman is also perfectly real, for there is no such thing as an ‘unreal’ woman.

What it actually shows is, the power of media. It is the media that conjured the idea of a perfect body, with its runway model size women plastered across the covers of hundreds of magazines taunting women to look themselves in mirror and fret about not having that flawless complexion and high cheek bones. Feel their neckline and grope for that hollow made by non-existent collar bones. While those high cheeks, flawless complexion and collar bones on the glossy pages are retouched and often artificially conceived. As if that was not enough, the mannequins taunt them for not having that perfect body, almost saying “Oh don’t worry love, we might have it in your dress size but forget that it would look this good on you. You aren’t hot enough.”

In a world that is increasingly obsessing over body image it is fitting to now focus on body image issues. Eating disorders are widely condemned, and rightly so, but shaming the people suffering from disorders is no way to go about it. As is the case with most problems, we have got it all wrong when it comes to solving it. Yes, eating disorders are harmful and self-destructive. There is no denying there. To see that there are forums for anorexics and bulimics, not to recover from it but to encourage each other, support one another to push themselves and ‘drop that one more pound’ is disturbing, isn’t it? However the truth is that’s how the forums for ‘obese’ (no not necessarily obese but even the motivated healthy) work. Isn’t it then that they have appropriated the normal and widely approved norm for themselves? Why then does it bother us so much? It bothers us because we can see these individuals pushing themselves to the edge, in the direction where society pointed them in the first place!

I always had strong opinions when it came to eating disorder (partly because of my skinny stature and freak of a metabolism which makes it difficult for me to gain weight. I have been gangly for most of my life and often called, even though only in jest, as being anorexic). This was until I read Tina Chanter’s article Abjection, Death and Difficult Reasoning: The Impossibility of Naming Chora in Kristeva and Derrida. The relevant bits, from the point of view of this article, are the ones where she explains the abject (meaning: the state of being cast away, degraded. Something rejected by the system but has the potential to disturb the system) and sheds new light on eating disorders that must force us to reevaluate our responsibility towards those who suffer because of society’s twisted ideals. You must excuse me while I indulge myself by quoting from this beautiful piece,

[Abject is] Not one that plays by the rules of the game, but one that refuses the terms: a refusal, a no, a silent scream, an impasse, and in this sense a “safeguard” (PH: 2). Here is where reality is turned down, turned away, shattered: “a reality that, if I acknowledge it, annihilates me” (PH: 2), so instead, I annihilate it, at least for a time–and by the same stroke, I annihilate myself, taking on the impossible by destroying myself. For it is something that I cannot take on, cannot bear, cannot submit myself to, and yet I cannot overcome it. I become it, yes, I embrace the abject, abjecting myself, but I do not control or conquer it. I rewrite the rules–precisely by abhoring them, ignoring them, paying them no heed, being unable to abide by them, seeing their impossiblity. I demolish the rules in order to reform reality, to re-structure the world. I erase all the supporting structures in order to have to start again from the beginning, building up again from the start, piece by weary piece. And in the process, I punish myself–and any others who happen to get in the way might be casualties of my own self-denigration. …

My vomiting protects me, my gagging prevents me from being taken in, subsumed by the system, depended on, stops me becoming a part of the machine, interrupts the well-being and equanimity of everybody. Stops everybody short. You cannot merely go on, in the face of abjection. I will make myself a mess, I will mess up the system, I will infect you with the impossibility you have demanded of me, and which I cannot be, and I will turn it into another kind of impossibility. You have produced a system that is intolerable, and I have introduced the intolerable back into the system, thrown it back as impossible, taken on the impossibility you ask of me, the unbearable and the intolerable, I have become it. I have taken on what cannot be taken on, I have been transformed by something, I have become inhuman. I am not me. This is what was required of me, not to be me, and yet in becoming not me, I have upset the system that asked me not to be me. For I am not the objectified object that was required, I am no longer subject, but neither am I object. I have defied these categories, I have misaligned the categories, I have thrown a spanner in the works. Usually through some kind of bodily incursion–whether I impose my body on the world, or allow the world to cut up my body, or refuse, using my body as an instrument of denial, the world, or reduce the world to the bodies of others–my body is all that is left. I become nothing but my body, my mind all but gone, used up, and using up other peoples’ bodies, other peoples’ minds. And soon even my body is nothing, wasting away.

 

It is the system, the society that demanded them to not be themselves. At each street corner, with each new hoarding, each new shop it taunted them to change themselves to fit the bill of beauty. You must look thin and in a certain way to qualify as desirable and no, none of your qualifications matter if you are not desirable. We view those with eating disorders as damaged because we think they were weak and fragile and they broke under pressure from the outside world. We refuse to investigate the amount of pressure applied on them. They starve and binge and purge to get accepted by the world and maybe to destroy the world. They take the grotesque of the world and make themselves so grotesque that the world cringes. They make spectacles out of themselves not because they seek attention but because that is what was done to them.

On one hand society wants everyone to conform to its opinion on everything and on the other hand they pity those who internalise its views.  

 The system shamelessly says ‘maybe she is born with it, maybe she is a result of beauty products’ implying if you are not born a certain way, with lips arched at certain angles and don’t have thick black lashes, you are ugly. And you must change it. You are ugly and an eyesore. You must pluck and trim and change yourself, go back to looking boyish or better yet like the hairless infant so that we can take care of you. You need to follow the beauty norms set by the society, you cannot perceive yourself to be beautiful, and you mustn’t. And then when someone who tries so hard to fit in the beauty standard is called artificial and shallow. It wants them to plaster themselves with makeup and yet not too caked up that it shows.

We live in a world that functions on absolutes, on definitives. We are trained to believe in what is right and the only way to know the right is to know the wrong. Often the difference between the concepts of right and wrong is a thin line, and oftener than not it is blurred. In a nut shell, we continue to live and fervently believe in the concepts and Truth laying our foundation on blurred lines. With such a weak foundation what right we have to judge—condemn or condone anything? How does the system expect to save them from themselves while it was the system in the first place who sowed the damaging seeds that rot them from within, turning them against themselves? And how can it accuse and condemn, point finger of blame at the victims without taking responsibility of what it has done?  

 

A Short Queer History of Ice-cream Flavors

Once upon a time, many eons ago, ice-cream was invented. In the beginning of the time ice-cream came in many flavors. There was vanilla and strawberry and blueberry and butterscotch and almonds with caramel; and then there was chocolate. People loved ice-cream! In fact, it was believed to be the best thing to happen to humankind. As it was newly invented, people kept experimenting with flavors trying to make new flavors, perfecting the art of ice-cream making.

As time passed, it was noticed that some flavors were preferred over others. To get to the bottom of this and find the best flavor, a survey was conducted. The thing with surveys is that it is highly dependent on the sample size (and it’s a very important point, so remember it). The sample size was arbitrarily selected, and the results were astounding! Majority of people liked chocolate and no other flavor. It was also realized that later generations of the chocolate loving families had never tasted any other flavor. There were some people who liked other flavors but they were not in large numbers and thus ignored by the media, (media has always been treacherous and deceptive in reporting) although why it did so is never clearly understood but we shan’t busy ourselves with that here. Gradually, ice-cream companies realized that they should make only chocolate ice-creams and not waste resources on other flavors. Then there came a time there were no other flavors were available. If any child complained about chocolate or disliked it, he/she was reprimanded. Everyone would try and convince him/her that chocolate is the best flavor; their argument was very simple and very effective, “Look around you! Do you see any other flavors? Everyone is enjoying chocolate ice-cream. Come now, not everyone can be wrong and you alone are right, can it?” and the child, irrespective of age, scratched his/her head and thought “Of course if everyone likes it, it must be good! One person alone can’t be right against the whole world now. Don’t be silly. Don’t bother others with a petty matter. I will come to like chocolate in time.”

As it always happens, some did come to like chocolate, some didn’t.

A long, long time passed like this. One day a group of people found an old recipe book. It had recipes for ice-cream of all flavors. Those who didn’t like chocolate started preparing vanilla and strawberry and blueberry and butterscotch ice-creams in secret. But soon this news was leaked. The chocolate lovers went into frenzy. “This is preposterous!” they exclaimed. They could not understand how anyone could like any other ice-cream flavor. But somewhere deep down in their heart, and I mean deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, DEEP down in their heart they knew it might be a possibility. Sadly, no one ever looks so deep in their heart. So they argued that these people have never tried chocolate ice-cream and hence they should, no they MUST, try it to realize how much they love chocolate over vanilla or strawberry or blueberry. The only thing was, some of them had tried chocolate and were either dissatisfied by it or worse they were revolted by it.

Somehow the chocolate lovers convinced themselves that such diverse ice-cream flavors were threatening to the environment and atmosphere. They argued that it even adversely affects the culture. (Now dear reader, we all know this is stupid. Someone’s liking vanilla is not threatening to chocolate lovers. In fact, it is the opposite of threatening. But of course, I will let you be the judge of that. This is just my silly opinion and you are way cleverer than me.) As the chocolate lovers were in majority, they devised a sinister plan—it was decided anyone who liked any ice-cream flavor other than chocolate must be persecuted and was liable of getting strictest punishment. It worked too. People hid their likings and choices. Some ingrained this conditioned love for chocolate. But as time passed, another generation came and they decided to confront the chocolate lovers. And so, every time someone argued “you think you like vanilla because you haven’t tried chocolate yet” they retorted “Have you tried vanilla? No? You THINK you like chocolate because you haven’t tried vanilla yet.” Chocolate lovers were confused now. The more confused they got, the more furious they became and the more furious they became, the more hostile and threatening it was for non-chocolaty flavor lovers.

Several years have passed since; some chocolate lovers are still prejudiced against those who prefer non-chocolaty flavors. Some vanilla and strawberry and blueberry lovers are prejudiced against those who love more than one flavor. There still are, for the want of better word, ‘stupid’ laws. Now and then people are punished, tortured and murdered for liking different flavors. (Tell me it isn’t stupid to kill someone for not liking what you like? I know, I know. You should make an independent decision and a good writer is never biased nor should she blatantly try to influence her readers. Apologies. Ignore last 3 sentences. You never read them.)

There are also some people who don’t like ANY ice-cream flavor and they too have to convince everyone, not only chocolate lovers but everyone that its possible and not a problem to not like ice-cream. And the short history to ice-cream flavors shows us that it will be a long, long time till ice-cream non-lovers will be generally accepted by all.

I don’t know what you, my precious reader, think. If you ask me I can tell you one thing–everyone should decide for themselves after all A’s eating blueberry ice-cream does not affect X’s eating chocolate ice-cream or Z’s not eating any ice-cream.

Musings of a Grieving Heart

Rain drops fall
Slowly, rhythmically like a lullaby.
Gentle breeze soothes the aching heart.

Stars playing hide and seek
Come out, keeping company
To insomniac eyes.

The silence calls
As night falls, tempting
No, twisting the sinews of grieving hearts.

Broken dreams,
Shattered hopes
Playing like keleidoscopic images.

The terrace parapet,
The promise of flying then falling tempts.
But it seems too easy.

They say rain will wash all wounds
And it does too.
Burning like acid over old scars, I almost pray
To the nonexistent God.

There is no angel watching over.
Sometimes when people die,
They cease to be.

And maybe sometimes,
Every once in a while
It’s okay to be not okay.

Silence and The Dark

I fear silence and the dark
For they summon not the evil.
No, not the evil but
The past. The muddled
Dusty, smudged memories.
The deformed, mutilated memories,
The memories of dead dreams.

I fear the silence.
For I have no company but my own.
Facing my demons, wondering
How I got from there to here?
Their voices ringing in my head, as
Self-perception shatters like glass—
The shards piercing truth,
Distorting the reality.
Or was it real?

I fear the dark.
For it is a powerful enemy—
Crippling perception and sense,
Warming itself with the dying dreams
And feasting over the dying humanity.
Self-doubts creep over like gas—
Curling silently, slyly
As I pretend to be dead.

My demons like Hydra
Refuse to be intimidated,
And I am no Hercules.
Maybe some heroes get engulfed by their demons,
Maybe some wither away in silence and dark.
When the wheel of time turns
And the hour of need is upon,
Overwhelmed,

Some Heroes fall to their death
As numbness washes over.

“Are You a Feminist?” : Shirking Away from Labels.

Labels have always been treacherous terrains. Since time immemorial people have been conflicted towards it. Some believe labels restrict us even belittle us while others believe labels can be empowering. Irrespective of the feelings towards it, many usually shirk from them. One such label is ‘feminist’. There is no cultural-political-religious shame associated to it and yet so many shirk away from the label, even when they are given the invisibility cloak of anonymity.

I don’t know why most people do so and I can speak only for myself. Over the course of few years of my affair with literature, it has broaden my perspective by many folds. I share posts “to the point of being obnoxious” and i even joke about them to break the ice to the extent that I often get— “Are you a feminist or what?” , “You are an activist/a feminist!” And every single time I go silent for few seconds contemplating in the deep recesses of my mind, hoping in vain for my subconscious to give an instinctive answer and when it fails to, hoping my conscious mind will make a logical connection, but it does a miserable job at being a mind. And so I end up shrugging with “I don’t think so… Maybe” or “not an activist, only a humanist… maybe”.

I go silent because there is conflict within me that betrays the label. Maybe in thoughts I am a feminist but in action other factors govern my decisions. Maybe I have a dreamy-eyed idealism which is in constant struggle with the ‘real’ world. I am not half as brave in action as I am in thoughts—maybe because thoughts don’t have ‘real’ world consequences that lead to losing what you hold dear to your heart unless you act on them. Because, as always, Miller was right—when he had Chris say “I was made yellow” because that’s what the world does to us, maybe. It shows us to think what is right, know what is right, makes every particle of our body rebel against it and yet, when it comes to transitioning the abstract thoughts into concrete reality it presents hundreds of consequences which, if were to become reality, we won’t be able to live with ourselves and so we have to compromise. Thoughts and action betray one another and all we are left to be is idealists in thoughts and practical in action. Chris, and Miller behind him, was right—the world does make us practical and we can only spit on ourselves to be practical.

So, if ever you ask me- if I am a feminist or not, and I don’t answer or go silent for few seconds it is not because I am ashamed of the label or I think the label is not good enough or that it is restricting but try and entertain the thought that on the contrary maybe I am not good enough for the label. Being something only in thoughts is too little a consolation to a label that deserves a lot more than mere talks.

Stranded and Alone

Battered and bruised
Stranded and alone.
Wrapped up in
The gust of wind,
The silence of storm.
See it approaching.
See it!

See it approaching—
Slowly, silently, stealthily
Creeping over me.
With my eyes shut,
I can sense it’s
Icy cold fingers
Tighten.

Standing with my
Arms wide open,
I can feel it—
The harsh wind—
whipping.
Whipping and lashing till
I’m blue in face,
Leaking.

Battered and bruised
Stranded and alone.
Bare to the bones—
Bleeding, leaking.
I am still here and
I’ll stand my ground,
I’ll.

Fumbling, stumbling, falling;
Yet I run.
Struggling to outrun
It. Running for my life,
Chased by a landslide.
Feet stuck in mud
I stand there—
Hit by avalanche,
While earth beneath
Collapses.

Soliloquy About Some Serious Shit and Crosses

People: you know what? You have changed.

Over the period of time many of my friends have commented that i’ve changed a lot. And they say it with an ominous ring to it.People change. It’s only natural to change with time. Sadly most of the changes are forced, forced- by situations, times. And the sad part is not that people are forced but that the changes are mostly, always bad. You willingly change for something and it will, 90% of the time, be a positive change. Because deep down you know you were responsible for it, willing for it. But many times, and I speak from experience, the situation, changing times, etc simply knocks you off from your comfortable seat and you only have to adjust and accommodate for survival. No grand choice there.

It’s an old idiom “everyone has to bear their own cross” funny that it’s with this proverbial cross our faith, mettle and strength is tested but never for once are we asked if we want to bear the cross (but then again giving us a choice would sabotage the entire functioning of this remarkable philosophy). I, like the rest of us, have to bear my proverbial cross or the metaphorical “truck loads of shit”. Someone once told me “well if u wanna survive in this world, gotta take care of that truck loads of shit of yours” (maybe not exactly in those words). But the problem, you see, is not that we hopelessly fail in doing so; the problem is what happens to us while we are busy taking care of metaphorical truck load of shit or working hard to bear that proverbial cross. We change- and mostly for worse. We lose a part of our self. Period. But the question is why? Even if you avoid looking at it, it is still there. Out in the open, looming overhead flashing in big fluorescent letters. It’s not easy you see, to come face to face with your “cross” and to feel the fear of the unknown creep over you. I read somewhere (and I am skeptic about it being true as I haven’t read the original, so please do correct me if I am wrong) that even Christ himself asked Lord if there was a way out so that he won’t have to die for the creation called humans, so it is only fitting if we mere mortals are scared of it. But what does the trick is not the fear but the feeling of coming face to face with something so huge, so enormous that you can feel yourself dwarf in front of it. It’s the enormity of this proverbial cross that overshadows the past, the present and the future. The feeling of momentary limbo: not knowing what you feel, what you can be, what you can do to speed up the recovery mode, knowing you ought to do something yet never exactly knowing what. It’s this feeling of sudden… of sudden something that has got you off balance. Yes, mostly it’s the suddenness and the hugeness of the coming of this humongous truck unload and pile up all the shit in the world and rub it on your face, almost saying with a smirk “tag, you’re it”.

All the while you focus on how to get rid of it. How to go back to a life without this stupid wretched thing. But as they say “sometimes there is no going back”. And this scares the hell out of you, you know. So all the time you focus on this proverbial cross and metaphorical shit; condemning each and every cell of yours to get over and done with it ASAP and yet it hangs around your neck like an albatross. Gradually you lose your speech (not literally, but let’s say- the will to speak) not because you have nothing to say but, because most of the time you won’t make an iota of sense to those around you. Not because you cannot understand other’s pain but because there is just so much to communicate and you feel like you know no language to communicate it through. Words of your own language feel foreign because they are always a shade or two lesser than what you want to say. But whom am I kidding, most of the time you feel there is no point in talking, You fail to communicate and well that’s exactly what you are supposed to do when you talk. So gradually you turn reticent, succinct; never initiating a query and people get offended (and rightly so). And all this while that cross is still there in front of u clouding your vision, the stench of that metaphorical shit numbing your brain until you feel everything three times removed and you realize talking to others doesn’t make sense but you try doing it anyway (hazards of being a social animal) and viola! You are now a happy hypocrite with a conscience (which ends up making you not so happy about yourself).

To reiterate, you are a normal li’l fella who comes face-to-face with his/her cross and then things start to spiral out of control. Somewhere along the way you start feeling like Sisyphus. Also, at times you have a clear insight in human character but u fail to communicate and when you try to it only leads to hurting people. By the time you come to your sense and assess the situation you realize you have made a successful transition into a hypocrite with conscience (if they exist) and yet you cannot get rid of that blessed cross because you have to bear it till the end of your journey, or they say. Also as a complimentary gift you get a foul nasty temper(yay!). And by the time you get a grip of everything you have also successfully turned into a recluse and social misfit. Boy! It is some way life to live, isn’t it?

People: you know what? You have changed.

Me: 🙂 you think?

Conceding

“Shut your mind,

All will be fine.”

Sitting in dark,

With memories pounding on door

Crouched in a corner,

While regret like gas

Creeps in from crevices.

Running after Ghosts of future

Away from Shadows of past.

Yet on a sunny day

With misty eyes,

I wait for-

Fog of memory to lift;

To find a familiar face

In this sea of unknown eyes.