Monday, December 13, 2010

Entwined branches...

" I heard Dee is getting married" said Mom, yesterday. So then, the usual questions cropped up. The wise Brother asked Mom how she got to know of the soon-to-be nuptials, and then came Mom's nonchalant reply, "Dee's grandmom's sister's daughter's sister-in-law's niece told her friend, who stays in the same flat as Aunt's sister-in-law's cousin." Now, for those of you who are still confused, Dee happens to be Aunt's niece.And no, I am not going to tell you how Aunt is not really Mom's sister, but the wife of Dad's father's mother's cousin's (mother's brother's) son.
One thing led to another, and I began wondering how I would describe my relation to Dee. Is she my cousin at all? If she is, how many times removed (can I even use that term here) is she? In the light of the relation question comes the bigger question of how I could describe all my "cousins" to anybody who doesn't understand that for me, like many Indians, Arabs, and others, "family" is enough to include all those ties that go back to Adam and Eve.

(I had started writing this some time ago, and then I fell asleep, and like everything else, this waited for me to get back to it. Can't think of anything to add, so there.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

In reply to "Joys of Muslim Women" by Nonie Darwish(supposedly)

Islam, a religion oft misinterpreted, has faced a lot of criticism time and again for the various "injustices" against women that it reportedly advocates. This particular 'letter' by Nonie Darwish,( an Egyptian woman who has embraced the United States and its culture, is yet another thorn in Islam's already tarnished side.
Before I go on to express my views, let me make it clear that this letter has not hurt my religious sentiments, as such. Rather, it has made me question the paranoia of the West, and the extent to which people would go to achieve whatever their goals are, however insane. I have been reading up a few things here and there to know if this is the truth, and if I really follow a faith that is reportedly a champion of such miserable chauvinistic principles.
Why is it that most people, muslims and non- muslims alike, seem to have forgotten that Islam, in its most fundamental form, stands for peace? The cruel bloodshed that goes on in the name of Jihad in the modern day world, carried out by fanatics who claim to be Believers who are carrying out the will of God, is a blight on the religion and its tenets.
Let's look at the letter which prompted me to come out of my self-imposed writer's block with a vengeance. I am no expert on the religion, and I do not claim to know much about it. In fact, I am quite ignorant about Islam. But I do know a few things, and one of them is this- Islam is a moderate religion, which preaches peace and goodwill among mankind. The severity of the religion that most "Believing Muslims" (who beg to be different from the common "practicing" muslims) follow are, if I may put it that way, distortions brought about by Man, and Man here, is not mankind, but the chauvinistic, self- centered, testosterone-high psuedo male, who turns to a few pages from history in order to keep his woman (or women)in check and keep the frail pieces of his ego together along with his worry-frayed nerves.
Nonie Darwish (or her impersonator), however, has transcended levels of sublime stupidity at the very beginning of the letter. Islam, or any other religion that I know of, does not validate the marriage of a one- year old infant to any man, with or without all the gifts he can afford to give, in spite of which unborn children, in many parts of our poverty- stricken world are betrothed to equally unsuspecting 'partners'. There are verses in the Qur'an that speak about the Prophet's (pbuh) wife, Aisha and imply that she was as young as 9 years old when their marriage was consummated. However, as shameful as it may seem, this is a common occurrence the world over. Child marriages are common enough in India, among the tribes of Africa, and even among the Zionists and a few churches in the United States, despite strict laws protecting women and their rights. It is not a consequence of the spread of Islam. Moreover, pedophiles are everywhere, and we do not need a religion to help us have more of those, the world has too many anyway.
What is mentioned in the same paragraph about the dowry is true. In most muslim nations and households, it is considered a shame to take anything from the bride's
family. The man has to go to the bride's house, approach the father (or whoever is in charge of the household), offer gold, money and clothes. They do not take any money from the girl- no dowry, no "gifts" (like Indian muslims take). ((One up,dear feminists.)) This serves two purposes- one, to show that he is financially sound, or getting there, and two, that he is capable of taking care of the girl, and the family that is sure to follow, with his own money. (( Strike two!!))
But hey, they do not pay the money to purchase the girl and use her as a slave. If we are going to look at it that way, then, what do we have to say about the poor Indian girls? They pay the groom, they arrange a wedding, boring a hole the size of a crater in the poor fathers' wallets, and then they serve like drudges in their households, cooking, cleaning and earning their daily bread. Why, they even convert the Ladies' coupe of passenger trains into mini-kitchens on their way back from work!
In most so- called "muslimly- backward" countries, the literacy rate for women is higher than in other developing nations. The kind of freedom they enjoy is amazing. The women, even though in hijab, work in educational institutions, in the government, and other places, (and this is the case even in post-Taliban, Bush-Obama's war strategy plagued Afghanistan), and since their men do not expect them to contribute to keeping the home fires burning, can indulge in all the pleasures their money can buy. These women do not have the harried bedraggled look that their American and other 'progressive' counterparts have. They enjoy more relaxed working hours, have the pleasure of being able to do odd, mundane, boring little things like spending time with their children, cooking for the family, and keeping the house less messy, and more homely. In short, they get to have the whole cake, and eat it too. Not a bad idea, that.
Divorce, of course, is easier to come by for a man. However, if anybody out there tells you that talaq in Islam can be obtained by just saying the word thrice, please laugh in his or her face. Men do have more power over their women, and Islam does say that a woman has to obey her husband, and follow his guiding hand. But women do get divorce, for various reasons, and with time, more women are able to obtain divorce and stay respectably in the same place after divorce.
Rape is something I do not have anything good to say about, because I have not chanced across any reports of people who have been brought to justice when a girl is raped. If, however, the charge is proven without doubt, then the punishment is severe, and, I must say, an eye- opener for other men whose brains follow the law of gravity too strongly.
Divorce, rape and beating are three areas where Islam is 'barbaric'. Again, Islam does not allow a man to beat his wife because she had mistakenly added starch to his shirt or miscalculated the amount of salt in his chicken curry. A man is allowed
to beat his wife in extreme cases, when he thinks she is going astray. Even then, he is not allowed to beat her to pulp, and leave her for the dead. Sadly, this is a common scenario in most Islamic nations.
As far as the question of Jihad goes, Islam is not a clarion call for bloodthirsty hounds to slake their thirst. It does not preach the subjugation or annihilation of disbelievers. An aayah in the Qur'an says,"You follow your faith, I follow mine." In most lines in the Qur'an, the idea that God will reward or punish you for your deeds, and will judge you, as a human being, for the life you lived, is pretty clear. There are verses which belittle relationships with disbelievers, and such like, but the Qur'an does not ask any man to take upon himself the difficult job of annihilating an entire world of people.
What is being done in the name of "jihad" is something that any self- respecting muslim would not associate himself with. And, it is a pretty well- known fact that the West does not tolerate what they do not understand, or anything that threatens to consume them and change their monotonous, worry- free existence. We can attribute the last warning in Nonie's letter to some kind of paranoia, and then again, religious intolerance and racial discrimination are the two least advertised western traits.
The last bit of the letter goes on to prove and reconfirm the paranoia that people in the West are experiencing, and people such as this writer are just feeding on that, like blood-sucking parasites.
Yes, Islam is becoming highly intolerant. More and more educated muslims are
becoming more fanatic in the name of "pursuing the faith", and it is the
younger generation that is increasingly leaning to the violent side of
Islam. So, there are well- educated boys who say they do not want their
wives to earn, to work, etc. They want girls who wear the hijab, and mostly,
they insist on girls covering their faces.
I dread to think of a world where the so- called "religious muslims" will
have an upper hand, because they do not do things in moderation, and they
tend to bend ideas according to their whims and fancies. However, I
think its not just the muslims that have to be stopped, it is this whole quest for power that has to be stopped.
Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew or Human, may your faith keep you, and may your luck keep you safe, from travail, destruction, and war.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I love you...

Dear boy,

I love you. No, I think I love you very much. I am crazy about you. I tell the world, I think, THIS IS IT. I have really found the perfect guy. I am ready to get married now.

The world asks, "Are you sure?"

And I wonder why. I am in love with you. I call you so many times in a day, in spite of all the work I have, just to tell you how much I love you, because my heart dies to say it out loud. I call during my lunch break, because I want you to know that I have not forgotten your existence amidst the various things clouding my brain in the middle of my work day. I send you a message while I am running back to work after my half-eaten sandwich has been thrown in the waste- bin, because I already miss you. I call when I am taking a much-needed break from my computer, because I do not want you to think I am ignoring you. I call again when I am leaving my desk just so you know that my work is done for the day. I call when I am going back home to check if you are fine and your work is going okay, and if your secretary is still disturbing you with her mini-skirt presence. I let you know when I am home so that you do not add worries about my safety to your sky- high list of worries about work, home,...
As I do the work I have taken home, I wait for you to call to say you are home. But you do not call. I understand, love, you have to unwind, take a shower, have your coffee, watch the game on television, catch up with your friends, talk to mom, feed the dog, give him some love, tackle the landlord and his mercenaries, call your secretary to talk about work, talk to the boss, and then cook or buy dinner. While I cook dinner, I think of you, and how much I miss you, and then you call. I leave my dinner halfway, talk to you. Dinner is not as important as you, is it? You say you will call me back, and I wait. I am sleepy, but if I lie down, I might not hear your call. So I sit down in a chair and wait for your call. I doze off, my work gets scattered, but my phone remains firmly in my lap, clasped resolutely in my hands. All this, because I love you, and I can not sleep without having said good night to you. Why would I do this every day of my life, if I did not really love you, I say to the world.

The world asks, "What do you see in him?"

And I wonder why. I am in love with you- the person you are. I do not care if you are short or tall, thin or fat, fair or dark. I do not care that your shoulders are not broad, that your hands are baby-like, that your feet have those black blisters and are cracked, that your eyes do not sparkle when you smile at me after I apologize whenever we have an argument, that your hair is too oily, that your nails are always overgrown and not clean, nothing. I really do not bother about your socks being unwashed, that little wrinkle in the front of your shirt, the fit of your trousers, the stoop of your shoulders, the ruffled,long hair. I have no complaints about the way you treat the dog, the way you drive your car, how you expect me to carry all the shopping bags while you find somebody to talk on the phone, how we always go to places that do not accept your credit card, or the way you smoke, drink, party or switch off your phone after an argument. Honestly, I am not hurt when you ask me to call you later while I am talking to you about my day, or when you doze off while I am crying to you. I understand that you are tired after work, have enough problems of your own to deal with (since we spend hours talking about them, and I try and resolve as many as I can), and the restaurants and shops should really upgrade to stay in touch with the latest developments.
I tell the world that you are like my father. Actually, you are a lot more caring than him. You do not like it if I have too many friends, outings, get-togethers, cookouts, parties, late nights, unlike dad, who used to allow outings and girl night-outs. You are a lot more protective than dad. He has never glared at the guy who smiled at me in the medical store. He has never asked me to stop thanking every guy who carries my grocery bags to my car, fills fuel in my car, serves food at restaurants,etc. Dad has never even noticed that the perfume I wear makes me more noticeable. In fact, dad has always made it a point to buy me my perfumes. Now that you have noticed, I have asked dad to stop buying me things, as he does not know what is good for me. I do not spend time with dad, though we always had our special Sundays where nobody was allowed (not even mom), but I can spend that time with you, can't I? I can't ignore you, darling. Dad understands. The world will too.Soon.
I announce to the world that I am getting married to you,that I can not wait to spend my entire life with you.

And then, the world asks again, "Are you sure?"

I wonder why. I love you. I care about you. I like the way you take care of every detail in my life. I do not need friends when I have you around- you are my best friend, and anyway, they do not understand us. I do not need my parents when you are there- you take better care of me any way. I do not have time to call anybody because I call you all the time. I do not have to drive to the grocery store- you will drive me there. I do not have to put up with the stares of every male in the place- you will stare at them, their wives, their daughters and the babies' nannies.I do not have to go out alone or even with girls in these dangerous times- you will take me everywhere you think we should go, when you have the time. Anyway, you know which places we should go to. I do not have to break my head over the kind of clothes I should buy- you know what looks best on me. Since I have known you, I have lost touch with my reading, my acquaintances, my friends, my family, my tastes, my likes, my dislikes, my individuality. I do not know the new me. You know me. I have a new self- you.
Why would I not marry you? Have I not made myself perfect for you, and forgotten who I am? Is marriage not all about adjustments? And don't I do enough of that to keep us happy for life? Is it not enough that I love you enough for the two of us?

What does the world know, anyway?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The long and short of things....

So, I was born tiny. Shouldn't have mattered one bit. Only that I was born into a family of tall people, who took a certain pride in their lofty bearings.
Being the favourite 'toss-in-the-air' kid was fun for a while. Then it got boring to whizz in air, and have fragile bones crushed in the tossers' attempts to prevent the tiny one from slipping through big, widespread hands. That is when the wonderful art of barfing presented itself. (Thank you for that, Ms. Guardian Angel.) Screw up face, turn beet red, make a small noise in the back of your throat, and viola, you are on terra firma, and everybody is giving you a wide berth. Happiness!!!
But then, you still remain the small one, who is dawdling while the whole world is moving on its long legs; the perfect size to get a stray knee in the head when the tall one kneels down to pat your oh-so-cute head. Just when you think you are growing up because your clothes are getting shorter than permissible, and feel good, the coconut tree competitors shoot up a little more. Sigh!!!
Constant taunts about the weather down in the shortosphere, the various experiments to prove the converse of "the bigger they are, the better they fall", always being pushed to the front of a crowd to see things better, and thus sometimes landing up in front of elephants and other minuscule objects, wearing extra long, designed-for-mummification kancheevaram sarees resulted in a desperate turn to high heels. Didn't help. It was now easier to prove all variants of the afore said theory of size and falling. Depression!!!
And then came my look-at-the-world-your-way lenses. So what if you are short? You don't have to bend down to walk through any door, except something designed for children. (Sometimes I don't even have to bend for those.) Hold head high, walk in, head intact, doorway intact, smile intact. None of that sudden ducking to avoid a wooden frame, no hair ruffled by various things in the door frame, no sudden stoop, no angry red bulge on the forehead if you forget to duck. Ha.
You also don't have to run the risk of hitting your head on the ceiling when you clamber up stacked up chairs to retrieve some long-forgotten, erstwhile and still largely useless thing. Take a chair, climb up, take thing, go your way; no having to wash off whitewash or, worse still, cobwebs from your hair.
Lack of space, too many people at home? No problem, curl up on a sofa, or in some corner of a bed, make sure no long limbs will disturb your little, curled up hands and legs, sleep well.
Even when you are being lined up for a sound scolding, you can simply stand behind one of those taller people, and not be noticed at all. No severe glare from elder to show you his or (more often) her displeasure; no piece of mind heard for being so big, yet so careless; sometimes, utter disbelief that the little one could have reached that high up to cause so much chaos- like climbing a tree and breaking a branch. Mischief managed. Ha.
All things considered, the weather in Shortosphere is so much pleasanter.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

There have been many incidents since my last (and first) post. But every time I think I should post, the usual excuses crop up to stop me from doing it. So this is just a wee little one, an exercise in 'self- indulgence'; to let my poor, muddled brain believe that I am back to writing, may be not with a vengeance, but I am not going to back out. Not now, may be not for a long time to come.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Of missings and musings

That time of the year again. Memories. Of wonderful times spent together. Of little plans, and revised plans. Of surprises. Of quizzical expressions. Of ‘exclusionary’ acts. Of fun. Of happiness. True, unadulterated happiness.

That time of the year again. Miss- its. Miss the good ol’ days. Miss the love. Miss the hugs. Miss the loud dinners. Miss the good- natured teasing, the bantering. Miss the camaraderie. Might- last- for- life friendships.

That time of the year again. Musings. What if we were the same old people… What if we had never drifted apart? What if nothing had changed… what if we had not grown up to see through shallow acts? What if we did not have to face reality? Harsh selfish reality…