Love and relationships, Poems

Secret love

No, you must not expect.
Inhale the beauty of his mind
while it rejuvenates your soul.
Fill yourself with the air of his love
and you shall be whole.

No, you must not demand.
Sip his intellectuality and perfection
while he showers you with his gifts of understanding and patience.
You shall be amazed with what you get without asking.

No, you must not complain.
Understand that your story is but a fairy tale
and it cannot be true except the love that you share.
He will give you all that he can-
his time, affection, support and care.

Yes, you must love.
Because it gives you joy, hope and strength.
Love him deeply, and rise in his love.
You were not meant to be together
but your souls were, nevertheless.

Always.

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Essays, Feminism

The Poison called Patriarchy

When we come across a successful girl,  we applaud her family for being supportive of her. We appreciate that they have encouraged her to make independent career choices. They do not distinguish between sons and daughters and have provided her the required cultural capital to reach where she is today. But in an intrinsically patriarchal upper caste middle class Hindu family, how ‘free’ are her choices?

On one hand, she battles the society; its prejudices, misogyny, glass ceilings and conservatism. But on the other hand, behind closed doors goes on another strife that nobody knows about. It is the constant struggle between her and the patriarch- her father in most cases. The independent girl on the verge of womanhood is enthusiastic, passionate and wants to explore infinite opportunities. She is unafraid of making unconventional career choices. Marriage is her least priority. Yes, she is growing older, but she wants to devote adequate time to attaining her education and securing employment. Hence, for her, settling down does not imply getting married and giving birth to a child but establishing a career and achieving economic independence.

However, the fault lines begin to surface within the family. As the daughter grows up, the father begins to behave more like a patriarch. In this capacity, he has made many personal sacrifices for the family. He expects the same in return from the ‘ideal’ daughter. If he does not have an elder son, he begins to search for a successor and inheritor in her. He is in his fifties or sixties and wants her to shoulder the responsibility of the family soon. Her individual aspirations are thus often not palatable to him. He wants her to establish her career quickly so that he can marry her off soon. He is not against her ambitions but wants her to align them to the needs of the family, just as he did.

The patriarch encourages but restricts; supports but controls. He sets free but the strings are tied firmly to his fingers. The entire notion of a girl’s independence thus seems illusory. Her choices are seldom free. Time and again, she is reminded of her obligations towards her family. She does not have the freedom to decide her own life partner because the honour of the family is at stake and the norms of caste endogamy are to be taken care of. She must not delay her marriage too much or the best ones (read the richest) might be gone. Her Ph. D. or job can obviously continue after marriage also, at least for the sake of persuasion.

The patriarch, now tired of running the family since decades, longs to retire from his responsibilities at the earliest. The biggest liability to be done away with is naturally an unmarried daughter. He wants her to finish her studies early so that she can start contributing towards the family income. In the process, she can also pool some money for her own marriage and the education of her younger siblings.

The role of the mother is now reduced to that of a mediator. She has no say in any decisions in the family. She is stationed between the patriarch and his daughter who are both adamant. She is the one who negotiates, but her role ends at that. The father, now assuming the role of the patriarch is now distanced from his daughter. They no longer share the loving relationship they did when she was younger. The onus is upon the mother to convey his diktats to her daughter and convince her to acquiesce. She is often placed in an awkward situation when she has to inform the patriarch of their daughter’s resolve to stay firm on her decisions. She is the worst affected in the tussle. She can neither side with one nor abandon the other. She must remain loyal to her husband because he feeds her. On the other hand, she does not want her daughter to lead a captivated life as she did.

As the daughter overcomes one hurdle after the other, she feels victorious to have challenged the stereotypes of the society. She considers herself to be a rebel and wants to set an example for other girls to emulate. But the fact remains that she is able to wage a war against the society but not against her own family. She is confined by the family values she herself clung to since childhood. She is torn between her dreams and the expectations of her family which are actually those of the patriarch.

The victims of patriarchy are never women alone. The mother is helpless and cannot let her daughter lead the life of her dreams no matter how much she wishes. The daughter obviously is subjected to restrictions and control since forever, none being slackened even after she grows old enough to decide for herself. Amidst this, the patriarch also suffers as he constantly swings to and fro from this role to that of the father. Even if he wants his daughter to be happy, he is also tied to his authoritarian position. He cannot grant her any more agency over her own life than to live it as per his rules; rather those set by the society. He must reinforce his supremacy by regularly exerting power and control, even if it implies throttling the dreams and aspirations of his daughter.

Patriarchy finds its way from religion to society and finally to the family. It has ruined more careers than poor results or other unforeseen circumstances have. When we dismiss allegations of gender discrimination by casual remarks like “Things have changed now, we have daughters and we have given them freedom to study and choose their career.” the sexism is quite apparent. Why does freedom need to be ‘given’ to daughters when sons enjoy it as a birth right? Can their choices be free if they are always forced to put their family before themselves? Patriarchy fails to answer these questions. Empowerment is possible only when women acquire complete agency over their lives. Gender equality must be fostered in the family before it can become the norm of the society; it has to begin from the home. Nevertheless, the minds of men ought to be decolonized from the tyrannical regime of patriarchy for gender equality to become a reality.

Experiences, Feelings from the heart, Poetry, Social issues

The young victim

This poem is dedicated to all of us- victims of a suffocating educational system with burdensome evaluation patterns. It is a matter of shame for any educational institution when the institutional torture it inflicts upon students is so severe that even the most hardworking and sincere ones cannot perform their level best.

I am the child carrying a bag bigger than herself
I am the student rushing from one tuition to the next
Or one who is just a month away from my degree
Bombarded with work he can’t finish in a century

I run, unaware of my destination
I collapse, gasping for breath
But I stand again to finish one more chapter
As my own will experiences a slow death

There are expectations from elders
Dreaded punishments from teachers
Ridicule from rivals
Contempt from competitors

I read but do not register a line
I write but the words don’t seem to be mine
I study but do not critically analyze
I think but produce no ideas

I now know what Marx meant by alienation
When nothing feels like your own
Neither your dreams, nor your goals
And work makes you feel overgrown

I don’t want to wake up to a new day
Because I will have to continue what I left before
At this young age, I want to disappear
Rather than read, interact and explore

My brain refuses to concentrate
As my heart isn’t into what I have to do
The bird wants to sleep undisturbed in its nest
So that tomorrow it can begin a journey anew

I don’t want to fulfil expectations anymore
I don’t want to match any standards
I want a free reign for my imagination
I want to explore different worlds

Frustration, depression, irritation
All gate-crash like uninvited guests in a party
The rebel within roars in indignation
To surpass every institutional limitation

Nothing can be learnt from too much work
It just becomes an imposed formality
Done in haste, whether good or waste
Life staggers between ‘dead’lines

I succumb to pressure
I lose my enthusiasm and motivation
“How much done?” displaces “How are you?”
My existence revolves around marks and submissions

Freedom and time are what I need
To think of new ideas, to try and try again
To learn from my mistakes
To knowledge  and wisdom so gain

When I see little kids play
Naughty, innocent and carefree they chirp..
They look so cheerful and happy
I wish I never grew up