Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

Years ago, my father said ‘What you read is a definition of who you are or want to become.’ Then, when I would not show him my writings, he was amazed. After all, it was an accomplishment. But that was the thing – as a teenager in India writing romance stories online – I could in no way conceive of sharing those with the people who knew me in real life. But sharing my most intimate imagination with strangers was okay because they would only judge the stories, not me for writing them.

It took me years before I even admitted to my parents that I wrote romantic stories and fan-fiction online under a pseudonym. That I even had a semblance of a following.  They were proud of me. They truly did not care that I was writing romance – and romance from a teens point of view is a different matter entirely – they were just that happy that I was creative and had found a way to spread that creativity.

Since those were their reactions, without reserve, it can be said that they had not internalized it into me that writing romance was something I had to hide. In fact, throughout high school, I had regaled my grandmother and aunt with stories I read in Mills n Boons books. They had always listened patiently, never judging me or the women in those stories.

So what went wrong?

In the 1990s romance in Indian media was an obsessive thing. Men would fixate on a woman – usually for her beauty, sometimes for her spunk and many times for revenge – and then follow her until she gave in and ‘loved’ them back. Some women were wrong for loving a man while others were wrong when they refused. It all depended upon the story the filmmaker had chosen – and if the man in question was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The judgement, in truth, depended wholly upon the man despite it seemingly being the woman’s decision and her character that was being judged.

And every single time – parents opposed this love. It could be mild opposition, it could be extreme, or it could be comedic. But oppose they did. Love was taboo. And unless you were lucky, it did you wrong. It is in this world and with these role models that I started writing.

To me, a rape attempt was a perfectly usable plot device. But it could only be an attempt because ‘a heroine never gets raped’ and ‘the raped woman always dies’. This was a me who was still unsure of how sex worked – and thought she knew what she was talking about when men ripped a woman’s shirt. Sure, the shirt needs to be ripped to rape someone – after all, don’t the villains always grab the pallu in the films?

The intrinsic misogyny went deeper than this.  In my stories, when the man cooked, it was because he was taking care of the woman. He was the progressive and perfect man. It never occurred to me that every person should be capable of something as basic as feeding themselves. When a man fell in love with a woman – I found it acceptable to write that he scowled at all other men who even looked in her direction. But he was good because he did not tell her to change her clothes – he just glared at everyone else. I never understood that him having to glare at other men because they were ogling his girlfriend painted a fairly creepy society – one where only the protection of a man kept the woman safe.

In my stories, women have been abused, raped and hurt. There is emotional abuse as well as societal and familial pressures. All of these are things I had never faced or seen in real life. Yet, if I re-read my work, it is scary how accurate I was.  So how did I internalize all of this to the point that my stories rotated around women overcoming all these odds and the men who helped, supported or led them? How could romance mean learning martial arts so that you are never helpless and raped again to a sheltered teenager?

Because that is the world I was raised in. After all, familial attitudes are not the only thing that shape us. We are shaped by everything in our surroundings. From the films we watch, the songs we sing, the conversations we are a part of, or the ones we overhear.

When I grew up – I was influenced by stories and media that said rape was bad. Where the rape victim died and the ‘hero’ took revenge for her ‘izzat’. But rape was never shown, or truly described. It just had a man biting the neck of a woman – if even that. That was then.

Now, we are surrounded by news of rape. We are surrounded by mass media that propagates an internalized misogynist attitude. From lyrics to plotlines, there is objectification of women everywhere. And the children growing in this scenario are the ones who will be holding the reins a decade down the line. Some of them will not even wait that long to show the effects of this environment. For example, there was news on how a kindergartener had been raped using pencils by her classmates. This is now.

We cannot stop reporting on rape and sexual crimes. We cannot remove objectification of women from all media immediately. After all, the media is only a reflection of us. But we can try to change the narrative. It is not sufficient any more to give or even show your values to the people around you. It is important to discuss things. The children need to see and hear discussions about these things and understand that while they might be surrounded by sexualized media – that does not make it correct. That while a popular actor is dancing to extremely sexist lyrics, that does not make the reality of those lyrics okay or even acceptable.

It is easier said than done.

Everything is easier said than done.

But we have to start somewhere.

Let us start with teaching our children, boys and girls, what is okay and what is not. And let us keep telling them again and again until they internalize what we teach them, and not what the world is forcing them to learn.

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I didn’t know what to say, how to react. How do you react to something like this?
I could only feel. My heart was pounding, my breathing was starting to become erratic. This had to stop. I laid a hand on the center of his chest. I could feel his diaphragm expanding as he breathed me in. That was it, and I knew I was lost.

I took a step forward and he smiled. That smile that Nickelback wrote about in Rockstar – ‘They’ll get you anything With that evil smile ’.

And then he slipped away, ephemeral, a dream, an imagination.

But he was there, I could see him still. I moved forward again, the smile became wicked, I was in his arms but he had sucked his lips in. There would be no kisses for me. That was okay. My lips were painted red. We would have ended up looking like clowns. I held him tight, and he held me. I felt so safe and oh so warm inside.

With another smile he let me go, and I walked away.

Smiling at my dream, buoyed by the idea of a man who may not exist, but was terribly real in that one moment.

 

Am I the crazy one?

Posted: November 30, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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So, usually when everyone is going in the opposite direction as you, it tends to mean you are driving in the wrong lane. But is it that simple for life as well?

Are you sure I am the one in the wrong just because everyone is disagreeing with me? After all, is that not how the world changed, evolved? By people questioning standard practices? By people who did what they wanted to and ignored the rest of the planet and its opposing views?

My issues are not so big, not world changing. Then again, don’t you fill an ocean drop by drop?

I have a problem with people who say a woman is impure because she is on her period. If you are pro-birth (which you have to be unless you are interested in the extinction of humans – not an entirely bad idea) then what gives you the right to turn up your nose at the process that is proof a person can have children. And aren’t these usually the same people who think a woman is incomplete unless she has a child (or more) of her own?

I have a problem with people who say they have ‘given’ me freedom. I don’t understand. I was never yours to free. I am my own person. If I was a minor, there could be something you can give me permission for, especially if you were footing my bills. But I am not. Not a minor and not financially dependent on you. Who gave you the right to free me? I was born free, thank you very much. I am a citizen of a free country, and we did win Independencce in 1947. I don’t need your permission to be free.

I have issues with people who think its okay to tell me how to live my life. Its mine. My parents taught me to be me, not anyone’s shadow, not even theirs. They helped me take decisions, but never took them for me. Did you know, I named myself. I did. And they tell the story of how their three-year-old changed her name to her liking with pride.

I do not like people who think they can take away things from me because they think I should learn to go without. I can just earn them on my own. I never needed you to get them for me because I could not, I only asked because it would have made me happy that you put in an effort. Now I know better than to ask.

I do not tell people when I really like something they did for me. I thank them, but the depth of emotion I used to share – no more – except for a few very close friends. I learned the hard way that when you tell people you like something, you give them the power to take it away from you. I do not want to give people the power to hurt me. It is unfair to so many people who would never even think of hurting me this way, but better safe than sorry, right?

I do not fit the box so people try really really hard to push me into it. I am a woman but I don’t define myself that way. I am me, first and foremost. I don’t see people as their gender. They are a lot of things first – kind, loyal, rude, nice, mean, cruel – the things that matter. Gender really does not play that big a role into it for me. Now I have had to learn that its only me.

The first problem was so broad in scope and the last is so minuscule. To me though, they all matter a lot. Maybe not equally, but then again, is there any real equality available any where?

Maybe I am the crazy one. Maybe I am the one in the wrong lane. But I do not want to change. I do not want something as unilateral as gender to decide how I see people. I do not want to be pushed into a box – just to make other people comfortable. I do not want to use labels. I want to be me and I am okay with other people being themselves. I don’t need them to fit in a box either.

Maybe I am the crazy one. But I’d rather be crazy.

Breathe.

Posted: September 22, 2015 by Arushi in Thoughts
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Do not write what you are feeling right now. Do not do it. Write about something else, anything else. Write with so much passion, that you can change how you feel. So that you forget what you were feeling, what you needed to vent, and can only remember what you are writing about.

Let each word give you catharsis. Let it give you freedom. No. Demand freedom. It is your right and you are only bound by the chains that you have allowed. Break them. Shatter them Grind them to dust.

Know that it hurts. Hurts you. Hurts others. Know that it is not easy. Do it anyway. Break something. Build something. Allow the world to collapse around you. No. Burn it down. If it does not make you happy. Make a new world on the ashes. You will miss what you have lost. But you have to move on. It might hurt. It might be lonely. But continuing is not an option. Never an option.

Do not be the phoenix who rises from the ashes, the same as before, if fresh. Be the arsonist. Burn it all and leave unscathed, yet filled with the memory. Learn from the experience, but do not become the experience.

Get hurt. Forgive. Not for them. For you.

Live. No matter what they say. They live their own lives. No one has the right to mess with yours.

Be. Yourself.