Sunday, March 31, 2013


विचारों की उधेड़ -बुन
में भिड़ते -भिड़ते
कुछ शब्दों का जुगाड़ हो
तो कविता बन जाए

थाम लूं
किसी एक विचार की
चिकनी कलाई
तो शब्द भी
वहीँ कहीं मिल जाये

शब्दों में
अर्थों में
नया एक कोना
मिल जाए  !

Friday, March 29, 2013


The incessant clamor
of words seeking meanings
has died down

the blank noise
of life's long pause
is deafening

the salt-peeper
blank screen
of the mind
blinks with
every tick of the clock

no memories
cause any ripples
in the soul pool

so this is it then
I am finally dead

only the air
passing through the lungs

and then the pangs return
memories rip open wounds
buried moments
back for daily rounds

I am still
a prisoner !

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Almost two decades ago I was about 11 or 12 and for no apparent reason averse to Holi. Although living in pristine Shimla of the eighties I did enjoy playing in snow every winter with friends of both genders but Holi never inspired me enough.

It was Holi again and I was locked in my room all day,all the neighborhood girls did the same,only boys did venture out to throw colored water balloons and shout BURA NA MANO HOLI HAI ! ( don't mind,its holi !)

As is still the norm in most places,by evening the color games had halted and most families had settled down to spend a holiday evening together.Every evening I used to walk about 100 meters from my house to fetch milk for the next morning and because every thing looked sober now I walked to the booth as usual.On my way back about 50 meters away from my house in the narrow gali ,this man who ran a pan-bidi shop in the neighborhood sprang out suddenly from a corner and looked every bit inebriated.I stepped back to give him way,when he was about an arms length away from me he suddenly took out a handful of gulaal from his pocket and just because he was a couple of feet taller than me rubbed it in my hair very harshly shouting HAPPY HOLI.

I dropped the milk packets and ran home,mom kept asking me what happened and when I couldn't say what exactly happened she presumed some friend from the neighborhood had played a prank.

My evening stroll after that day did not happen for many years till I was older,stronger and probably more mature to handle a similar situation,if need be.I told mom what had exactly happened only a couple of days later and she did take it up with that man only to get a denial from his side,saying he never remembered doing any of that.

Many years later I realized that was my first brush with crude public harassment,maybe it could have happened to anyone who is physically weaker in any given situation,but when you are a woman in India numerous incidents of the same nature later make you conclude that maybe it happens more to girls and women and especially on festivals like HOLI.

The trauma of such incidents does not go away easily and I now realize keeping women indoors and SAFE is no solution.Why have we become so twisted that a festival has to be loud,noisy,drunk and ostentatious to be celebrated?

So whether its Holi or whatever do not take the argument that all is good in the name of  a festival.


Saturday, March 23, 2013


"India lives in several centuries at the same time."  - Arundhati Roy

This could well be true for all of us as people in this mish-mash of social melange`.
Whenever I think about the ancient Indian philosophical concept of Shakti, And whenever I celebrate the power and essence of womanhood I think of two women:


Both of them have made a huge difference to my worldview and have chiseled the woman ,the person that I am today and will grow to become as long as I live.

MUMMY- I was an only child and in 70s and 80s when I was growing up I did understand how much and how many times my mother confronted people,mostly friends and acquaintances who would pity her and my dad for not having a son or give unwanted suggestions to my mother to train me well in lady-like etiquette and household tasks.

As you would have guessed by now I was never forced by her into the kitchen or asked to dress in a certain way.I was very active in theater during college and rehearsals would often get late,but she once told me she had no reason to keep checking the clock because she trusted me completely.

Despite my father's and the extended family's apprehensions she stood by me like a rock to support my decision to move out of my small town for higher education and later when I chose my own life-partner.

She walked several kilometers as a young girl to get to a secondary school and hence instilled in me huge respect and value for education.She chose to work as a teacher to take the light to more girls like herself and even today is vociferous about girls being the hope for a better and sensitive society.

PRINCESS- The moment I conceived her I knew I had become a better person in some way,I cared more for environment,for other kids,for health,for music.

When she was first placed in my lap I knew I was now stronger than ever before,in this male-dominated setup I had a little girl to raise to be a good human being and overcome the gender stereotypes that she might encounter at all stages.

When she started learning I realized my education was not yet complete,her queries made me search for newer answers for better answers.She made me realize the special intangible gifts my mom had given me- my confidence,my self-respect and my dreams.

Today and forever I hope I live up to being the link between these two inspiring ladies ,one who has lived a long graceful journey and the other who is just beginning hers.



Thursday, March 21, 2013


On a recent trip to Rajasthan, through pockets of Haryana and then in two major Rajasthan towns I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of veiled women.The faces,the personalities all shrouded only a shadow visible.A human being whose face is supposed to be covered most of the time in the name of shame and family honour will never experience any kind of self-worth.

This reminded me of a post on Facebook a few days ago

For reasons religious or otherwise girls as young as three on the streets,face and head fully covered in the sweltering Thar heat on a crowded street did not look one bit comfortable or normal,constantly adjusting  rather struggling with their ghoonghats every now and then.

The big debates on TV channels and in literary circles about WOMEN EMPOWERMENT seem so hypocritical and farcical when you realise that  here probably nothing has changed for hundreds of years and and it doesn't look like changing for better some time soon.

How do you then blame the women beggars seeking alms wishing men success in business and work, wealth and health ( saheb tumhare kaam mein barqat ho,allah tumhe sehat bakhshe,tarraki de)
and wishing women the usual May you bear a son ! (Khuda tumahri jholi mein laal deve)

The truth is that for these women and hundreds of other women like them and their daughters there is no life,no future other than being the mother of a son.

A few decades ago a lot of daughters and daughter-in-laws like my mother only had to cover their heads and not faces and they considered it to be a huge favor done to them by their in-laws.They never even questioned why they needed to be BEHIND A VEIL.

During Navaratras and Kanjak my father never allowed me to got to any home to be worshiped as a little Devi?( This being a common ritual all over North India),and I resented it then because all other little girls got some goodies and seemed to enjoy the attention.

When I grew up I understood his logic of not allowing the same society and people to worship me for a day which would pity my parents the rest of the year for not having a son and felt sorry for me for not having a brother.Today the rule remains the same for my daughter and I hope one day she would understand my reason.

Me and a lot of my friends have had short hair for many years,at the risk of being called PAR KATI (refer to Sharad Yadav,a prominent politician inside the parliament during the debate over women reservation bill.)

We have never covered our heads or faces in our growing up years or after marriage and have preferred to carry our notions of decency and respect only in our minds and not in direct proportion to the length of our ghoonghats.

Most of us also don't feel the need to carry the other symbols of an Indian woman's married status-bichiya,sindoor,bindi,manglasutra, much to the ire of  the rigid minded traditionalists,and to add to that our husbands are not so-and-so's papa or sunte ho ji. We liberally use the beautiful first names their parents gave them.

We do not give up our maiden names leading to more raised eyebrows,because we believe that being married we are not dead or reborn,hence we do not need to dilute our identity just expand it to include our spouses.

Oh God ! so much of revolt to handle in homes!

But I believe all of these are such small but huge changes that need to happen in homes all over,in streets where we force our women to be veiled and be marginalized but do not sensitize our men to be respectful and tolerant of a woman as an equal human No more than them,no devi and no less than them as well.In religious places or ceremonies in homes where men are supposed to participate and women just watch and slog in the kitchens.

This post is part of a contest CELEBRATING GIRLS,CELEBRATING WOMEN

Thursday, March 14, 2013


मूक आज्ञापालन के विनिमय में
परिवार का नाम क्या उधार देते हो

सदियों से गड़े, ज़ंग लगे
मान्यताओं के खूटों से
मेरे सारे सपने
बाँध रखते हो

मेरी कुर्ती,ओढ़नी
के नाज़ुक धागे
कैसे चटखा देते होंगे
हे मर्यादा-पुरुषोतम
तुम्हारा चरित्र
क्या इसी प्रशन से डरकर
मुझे अस्थायी पहचान देते हो ?

अजीब है यह निर्वासन मेरा
घरों,गली-मोहल्लों ,गावों -शहरों
में तुम जगह नहीं देना चाहते
इसीलिए सती ,देवी या डायन
का बंधन बाँध देते हो

This was first published in The Browsing Corner .

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


आंदोलन ही तो है
अपनी अजन्मी बच्ची
के जीने के  अधिकार के लिए
सर्वस्व का दांव
पर लगा देना

आंदोलन ही है
उस बच्ची का
घर की दहलीज़ लांघ
स्कूल की चौखट चूमना
माँ के साथ
चक्की की तरह
पिस-पिस कर भी
किताबों का दामन
थामे रखना

आन्दोलन है
अपनी इच्छा से
मोल-भाव,देन -लेन रहित
अपना जीवन -साथी चुनना
दकियानूसी रिवाजों की
मैली चादर को
अपनी आत्मा के
लहुलुहान होने पर भी
उतार फेंकना

आन्दोलन है
काम करने की
स्वतंत्रता के साथ-साथ
अपनी पूंजी आप बटोरना
अपने छोटे-बड़े सब
तरह के अपमानों का
विरोध करना

आन्दोलन है
अपने बेटे,भाई,पति और पिता को
अपने जीवन के हरेक पुरुष को
औरत की गाली देने का
अधिकार न देना

आन्दोलन है
अपनी आवाज़ को
हर औरत की आवाज़ बना देना

सड़कों पर,झंडों और नारों में
तो है बस एक आन्दोलन
चूल्हे-चौकों में
घरों में ,मनों में
आत्माओं में
अविरत हैं
असंख्य अल्प आंदोलन

मशालें तो दिखाई देती हैं
दूर से भी पर
रौशनी लायेंगे शायद
ऐसे ही छोटी-छोटी
ज्वालाओं के आंदोलन !!

Celebrating Girls, Celebrating Women Contest

Monday, March 11, 2013


This is a Winning entry here at Women's Web 

Photo courtesy: Birbal Sharma
Another cold winter dawn will break a few hours later in her tiny hilly village.She does not even remember since when she learned to wake up at this hour,quickly grab her mangled woolen scarf and head for the barn.The young ones of the cows and the sheep are used to an early breakfast and she loves to see them snuggle next to their mothers as soon as she unfastened them from their stakes.Every morning she loses some precious time here just gazing at this divine scene.

Just before sunrise the kitchen chimney is smoking,she quickly guts the watery tea in her tin cup and heads for the stream.Thankfully the cooking is taken care of.In summers the water bit is fun,while filling her two pots she often slips her feet in the fresh cool gurgling bubbles of the stream and  also splashes some on her face,but in this season the water is so cold that even the pots are difficult to handle after a while.

On her way back she can see the boys heading for the primary school,carefree and naughty and the girls taking the cattle out or fetching firewood.Her mind wanders to the tangy chutney she had saved from her share of previous night's dinner,oh how she would love to have it with a crisp roti and another cup of tea !

But brunch as usual is hurried, the utensils have to be washed for the next meal before the men return from the fields and the cattle has to be attended to.

Long ago when she had gone to school for a few days she had learned about cities where there are cars and buses,taps for hot and cold water and no cattle or fields to attend to.Their teacher had told them that in cities girls also drive cars,go to schools and work in offices and factories.She had only seen one city lady-Indira Gandhi,whose picture hung on the wall of the headmaster's office.

In the evening as she brings back the grazing cattle home every day and carries the stock of firewood for the night she halts in front of the door of the village headman, some folk song is playing on his TV.She begins to hum along and tap her feet,but just after a few seconds the jagged edges of the rope holding the wood begin to cut into her shoulders and she moves on.

Dinner is the usual ,a small helping of buttermilk and rice.The utensils have to be done again,before she finally gets to lie next to her mother in their shared blanket.

Another winter day is over in Radha's life and she closes her eyes to dream about a world where 8 years old girls like her,went to schools. She wanted to be there where grandmothers and other elders did not believe that girls are a curse upon their parents like she and her three younger sisters were.She dreamt of a new dress,shoes,enough rice and buttermilk to eat.She often had dreams about going to school,driving a car,reading thick books and dancing on folk songs.She dreamt till it was a couple of hours to dawn and Radha woke up again to begin another day.

No celebration of womanhood,motherhood,equality or freedom is true or justified till we have little girls like Radha working and getting the basic amenities of life only in their dreams.

This post is part of a contest CELEBRATING GIRLS,CELEBRATING WOMEN

Friday, March 8, 2013


Say it to the female fetuses
you have shoved
down the drain
of your stinking desire
to have a male heir

say it to little girls
you denied food,education
and equality

say it to women
traumatized, brutalized
raped and killed
or silenced to
bear the agony
over and over again

say it to the women
you consider
just objects
lesser than you
in all respects

or best
say it to those women
your foot soldiers helping you
in maintaining status quo

come on Patriarchy
lets celebrate
your victims
whose resilience,even for you
is hard to let slide !

"I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves."  ~Mary Wollstonecraft

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Dates ,names and places like skins wrapped on tight ,skins we can not shed- life's tongue firmly in cheek comments on your updates as if it is taking lessons from Facebook.
Show me life what you got next ,I am ready,let me not mince any words or crop any pictures,lets move on ,full throttle !!

Monday, March 4, 2013


Each passing moment
is only once
on life's timeline
the now,never was
never will be

each year 
it passes on 
its mysterious bounty
and blindfolded
I fumble through
its goodies

Time the benefactor
of memories
can also sometimes
leave you so empty

a new cup of tea
a new year to be.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!