Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yes, I'm a man and am not a rapist!

All men are dogs, cowards, rapists, eve teasers, heartless, pervert, jerk, drunkard, male chauvinist.
I saw a scene from a movie where the man shows up his license to his friend and stating his gender, it goes as, "Ye dekh, Sex Male, Aadmi, Mard, Harami, Kamina"
So on and so forth. I never knew we're born with so many labels. But do these labels fit on everyone? Yes, I do know the number of rapes happening in the country, moreover worldwide. The number of women getting cheated everyday, women getting eve teased and stared everyday. Yes, I accept all the facts. Does that make me a rapist if someone from the same gender as mine commits that?

I've personally faced all the discrimination.  Girls, women alike avoid the empty seat besides me.(Accepted until the reserved seats for them are not full). I look everyday in the mirror, I resemble none of the above stated. Do I have thorns, or even plans to tease the girl? Shut up, I'm more concerned how much more time its gonna take for my stop. I'm a hardcore Mumbaikar, time is everything for me, much more important concern than the hottie sitting beside. When I usually play that information kiosk or breathing Google Maps for those cars and windows drawn down slowly, the father speaks up first, asking the directions. The moment I explain the address, how to reach there, the girl feels "okay" to blurt out a "thanks" with a smile. Is the father unaware of the word thanks or the girl doesn't know the address? Its very similar to a dog smelling a place to find if its a good place to piss! Do I really dress badly that I look such?

I would want to share this lil experience. I was in a hotel with mum, waiting for my order. A working girl, maybe frustrated after a bad day at the work rushed in and took a nearby table. Maybe she badly wanted to get her entertainment dose, so she started playing some songs on her tab (with the headphones on, thank God!). An irritating family with an equally irritating child came in, controlling their child's antics juggling with the food on the platter, they were about to leave just then the office girl thought to buy the lil boy an ice cream (God knows what she saw in that brat), such a sweet gesture, but the result not so sweet! The boy's mom refused to accept that, clearly insulting the girl's heart and moreover stating that even she wouldn't eat that as she had a medical restriction on it. Turning the girl's day from bad to worse, even she didn't have the ice cream then. I couldn't control myself and did tell her that the gesture was really sweet, managing to put a lil smile on her face.

See people? Two persons, same gender, but opposite in nature, that's how it works even in our case.
Just because I sweat a lot, maybe a reason to avoid me, that doesn't imply I have raped someone, I've walked more or played out cricket with my heart. Keep that simple!
Girls and women alike, need to understand that we tend to walk faster in by-lanes, not just because our testosterone levels are on the high and we feel the urge to touch every passing girl. Do hit those who do that deliberately, but spare ones like me.

Dear girls, Salman Khan is blessed with the leisure of hitting 20 goons at a time, without getting a scratch. That doesn't necessarily happen in reality, any boy would think twice before coming on to blows, but yes "we do" watch around, especially at those eyeballs. Most of the female friends feel we are too protective and behave like bodyguards. Do understand our situation, back home your parents expect us to drop you home safely.

Yes, I do get irritated when a silly woman drives carelessly, making me dive for my life. I do hate when girls take exorbitant time to dress and shop, I agree to lose my minds when they arrive late (as I said, Mumbaikar, reaching on time is our drug). Yes, I equally lose my mind on girls who've turned my best buddies into romantic jerks :-P. Does this make me a rapist?

To that eternal Bollywood question a girl puts up to a rogue boy, the answer is:
Yes I do have a mother, a sister, a niece as well, whom I love and respect extremely. And more importantly, I do have a heart. We hide all the pains, but yes we do get hurt when we see any such news.

The rapists prevalent today, even they had a mother and a sister, had they ever even slapped him for touching that girl in school inappropriately and got him on the right way, the media would've got one rape story lesser and our criminal records too. Don't you think, somewhere a woman is indirectly responsible for this?
To those pseudo activists who feel gender equality is must, is it really tough for women to carry a chilli spray? Or even learn those little tricks of self defense?
Dear "activists", If labeling all women as sluts is wrong just coz a handful of them behave like one, doesn't mean all the men are born rapists, just coz a handful of them do it.
That is what gender equality is!

I feel we'll still be called one, in the times coming ahead for all such sad incidents, but my answer to all them would still be the same one. I never know what the judiciary will make to tackle them, but whatever needs to be done needs to be done quickly. Save us all those tags.

Written by a man who's not a rapist and please I'm not even a gay!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Love That Never Was

Sunday, June 13 1999.

It was a usual lazy Sunday morning. No one really got up early at our homes. But today it was something different. Not just that it was a bright June morning in Mumbai but something surely more than that. Mom and Dad were all in hustles, preparing to leave for somewhere. Dad held my hand and said “Champ, would you stay at your maasi’s place this day? Me and mom gotta go somewhere urgently.”

Well I never could say no to visiting Drishti maasi, she always made special dishes whenever I went there and day long fun with didi and bhai was an added feature. But something made me wary, for the first time I saw mum weeping. The lady who always smiled even in toughest situations had broken down today. I didn’t ask her why but I overheard Mum and Dad saying something about a telegram. Well, I knew what telegram was, back then. You can call it the SMS service of the 90s. The television set was on, displaying some disturbing images from the ongoing war. It had become the talk of the society, schools, societies, friends, relatives, everyone spoke about it. Well Dad had to console Mom really well and we left for maasi’s place. I was puzzled the entire way, what could it be which disturbed Mom so much that she won’t share it with me! Even at maasi’s place, she clasped Mum’s hands real tight and persuaded her to keep calm. They left in the car and I was getting frustrated now, “What could be the matter which is still under wraps for me? Don’t they think I’m their family?”

The day got over and Mum Dad had returned. Mum was still weeping, even Dad’s eyes were moist, this was getting on my nerves. I finally asked Mum the reason for her miserable condition, she simply said “You’re too small to digest this pain sweetie.” I saw no point in digging it up further. A 13 yr old boy is too old to cry and he’s too small to understand why his mom cries, Lord save the teenage!
As years passed by I had forgotten this incident, I had completed my graduation and was spending some real good family time at home before I could join my company. Then, one fine day…

Tuesday, 13 June 2006.

Mum asked me to sit beside her and played a video disc on the TV. It was a recorded message, probably when I wasn’t even born. The man was a charming, good looking person in his 20s. Here’s what he said:

“Hey Ananya, I know this comes too late but heartiest congratulations on your wedding! Before you throw something on the TV patiently listen to me. I knew I did not attend it, your anger is justified. I also know you wanted me to be there just like your shadow, but I’d made you a promise, I shall never attend your wedding. Yes, you felt it was a joke, but never for me. I never attended it coz I knew I would have cried in front of you and you would have done the same. For same strange reason, we never could see tears in each other’s eyes.
Remember the first time we met? I suppose it was the 8th grade. A shy introvert guy, new in school, asked to sit beside the most famous girl in school and for me, the most beautiful. Our first handshake was so damn funny. It labeled me as a dumb for you. That was the kick start of a new friendship, or was it something more. Those school days, our chats, teasing each other with the worst girl or boy of the class, our break time fun, our quarrels, our fights, everything, all those memories bring in a new lease of life for me. As we grew up, we just got closer to each other, the tenth board exams, the farewell, we were taking leave of everyone around, I came up to you, you pulled my cheeks so hard and assured me that you were not gonna let me go away so quickly. The cheeks still do hurt, but those words bring in a greater relief. The “farewell” actually did never happen. We got into the same colleges, people around us changed, the place changed, not even our friendship remained the same, it grew much stronger. I still remember others asking me ‘Is there something between you guys?’ My answer was yes, something which cannot be explained to your trifle brains. Was there something we didn’t know about each other? Right from our first flings to our career plans, we could write a book on each other. Days passed by Anu and I had to make a decision for myself, this is what I secretly wanted to become. This was one secret I had, never told you ‘bout it. Shall always feel bad for it, but I knew you would have never allowed me to do this. Here I am, away from everyone, away from you, living a life I wanted, don’t worry dear, am doing something which will never let you down. I hope you don’t wear on your detective hats and search for me, you were always bad at searching, every time we went to a crowded place, I was the one to search you, I hope you’ll get rid of that habit of loitering.
The day I left giving you a reason that I had got a new job in other city, those memories are still crisp fresh. Never think that I was jealous that I shall lose you, no one could ever snatch me from you, you always said this, I knew Vivek was the guy for you and were soon going to be hitched. We met one last time at our favorite cafĂ©. You were so excited then, I could see it in your eyes. Vivek is the right guy for you; he’ll always keep you happy and smiling. P.S. Don’t torture him the way you’ve done to me.
My farewell couldn’t have been better. I could hug you tight and a kiss on your cheeks was the perfect sendoff I ever wished for. Your moist eyes, at the railway station, were the last painful sight of yours. I was pained coz I had lied to be there at your wedding. One thing I never said, I love you Anu, and shall always do!
Life throws up challenges at you when you’re not ready to face them. I know you must be searching for me at your wedding but you never saw me. I also know you must have sweared never to see my face. I hope you do see it now. I can’t assure you more such videos but will try to pen a few letters to you. I hope you read them and forgive me somehow. If destiny scripts, we shall meet in future.
As of now, it’s time to leave, goodbye, take care and tell Vivek to look after my sweetie, and I love you.”

The screen went blank and a tear rolled down Mum’s cheeks.

She murmured,

‘That’s Capt. Aryan Khanna, the man who loved your Mum and the one who taught your Mum what love is. Without him I could never love anyone, you or your Dad. Vivek knew about this, he never complained, his heart accepted me with happiness. I had found the love which every woman longs for, but not the one which I longed for. Your birth had completed my family and I named you Aryan, the sunlight of my life.’
That’s when I understood, the name Aryan had been engraved on her wrist, was for Aryan Khanna and not Aryan Kumar. I did ask her whether he had sent her more letters. There were a quite few of them, neatly arranged in a folder. The last page was “the telegram” which read:

“Capt Aryan Khanna dead funeral at 6 Mumbai home”
Mom said, ‘This was the telegram which shook me, I never knew he was in the army, I broke his promise, I said I would never cry, but I did that day and do it every 13th of June every year. Vivek and Drishti supported me quite well but failed to erase his memories. I still do love him and always will. I couldn’t stand the fact that I can never talk to him but only could kiss his forehead and thanked him for everything he had given me!’
Mum showed me an old photo of theirs, lovers or friends, your call, but they always looked so adorable but as Capt Aryan Khanna said, destiny had a different script.

That’s my story, the love that never was made for each other. People ask me, is this reality or fiction? I got no answer to them. Maybe mum was right, “I’m too small to understand this!”
I got to know one thing, Love is not what we see today, it’s not hanging out together, it’s not wasting your precious time with each other in a mall or a garden bench as if you’re on a duty, it’s not about precious gifts and expensive dinner on Valentines, it’s not about texting a 1000 love texts in a day; it’s about having that person in your heart, in your wishes, in your prayers and yet not expecting something in return. My Mum has done the same, she prays for me though, she says I got eyes like him, I’m her Aryan and one thing Mum, “I love you too!”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Love, Life , Lessons!!

January 1960 It was that time of the year when I felt sad and angry on my family, leaving for my boarding. The age old family tradition of sending boys to boarding schools didn’t go down well with me. The rigid discipline at boarding and royal treatment at home created a gradient in my life. Draped in a red blazer over a white shirt and black pants, which was our uniform along with my luggage, I set out for my hostel at Raniganj. The biggest issue reaching there was travelling. Although I had first class tickets, I severely missed out on interacting with people. I had men at disposal to ask, “May I get you something, sir?” but probably none in that world to ask, “May I play with you for some time?”

 Books were my ultimate solace and lone sense of entertainment, alas they never spoke back! As I neared the end of first part of my travel, it was dark outside. The station where I got down, Cottage Hill Road was a deserted one. Even the biggest festival happening would go unnoticed at this place. Come at any time, this place showed no signs of life. Only a tea vendor adorned the platform. And to his company, a railway man who was the in-charge of the station. I politely asked him, “When will the train to Raniganj arrive?” He gave me a cold blooded look, paused and answered plainly “2 hours late, train at platform by 11:30 pm.” The cold blooded look coupled with his announcement could never amuse anyone on this planet. I pity the old tea vendor who had no regular customer but this man. 2 hours to kill, on a weird platform, showing no signs of life, no sight of a town or village as long as I could see. This led to my frustration even further on my family for this suffering. I sat on a bench, head bent down and cursing everyone who were responsible for the 120 minutes I shall have to suffer.

 With my head still bent down, I felt a tap on my shoulder and I looked up to see a woman clad in a cream color sari in front of me. Her face had a magnetic charm and her eyes were deep blue, she had cheeks resembling the Himalayan apples. We conversed as
 Lady: Waiting for a train, son?
Me: Yes, madam
 Lady: No formalities please, you can call me aunt. When is your train arriving?
Me: Its 2 hours late. Expecting it at 1130 pm
 Lady: Okay, could I sit and talk to you?

 Those last words were nectar for my ears, as if God had answered my prayers, err maybe my curses. She sat beside me and asked about me, my school and my home. I didn’t ask her anything as the rigidity lessons at hostel had made me only answerable and not questioning! She ran her hand on my blazer and said that it was the finest fabric she ever felt, she held my hands with a comforting feeling. I must say, her hands were the softest I ever touched, maybe babies have such softness. She smiled and said, “I must say, when you grow up, you shall be handsome and smart.” I plainly smiled and out of boredom, I asked whether she would like to play with me. She smiled and nodded yes. The smile on her face made her look an angel, that’s when I named her in my heart, “Angel”.

 Our talks went long and suddenly I heard my name from behind. It was Rakesh with his mother. Rakesh was my classmate and unfortunately my roommate too, I always hated his bragging nature but was the only one whom I could meet here, if not for my angel. Her mother was a typical zamindaran; short, stout, heavy gold bangles and necklace. I greeted her and return I got an egoistic smile. Next 10 minutes what we heard were their bragging about what they did in the vacation. I kept looking at my angel, she was smiling and giggling, looking extremely beautiful.

A goods train was passing by, a man crossed the track just before it, missing by a whisker, delay of a millisecond and he was gone for sure. During this, I felt that angel had grabbed my palm very lightly and her eyes shut. I calmly held her other palm and assured that everything was alright. She ran her palm across my face and hugged me tight. And then started Rakesh’s mom about this incident and the society and blah blah and she thought my angel to be my mom and complaining to her about this, all my angel could do was nod her head and all I could do was drowning myself in angel’s eyes, for the first time I saw tear in her deep blue ocean eyes. Her eyes always reflected her innocent heart.

 Finally the station in-charge declared that train would arrive in a minute or so. We hustled and got ready with our luggage. The train chugged in and the station in-charge warned that it would only halt for 2 minutes. This meant I only had 120 seconds with my angel! I hugged her tight in my embrace and she ran her hands through my hair and kissed me on my cheek. I returned her gift with the same and boarded my train. Even as Rakesh’s mom was giving her stern instructions, I had been watching my angel and the teardrop which rolled over her apple cheeks. The sight was becoming unclear, that’s when I felt my watery eyes. As the whistle blew and the engine chugged, our eyes were engaged to each other till the platform had vanished in the woods, that was the last sight of my Angel, maybe this is what they call love. Was it love? Yes, no, maybe?  

Even today my memories of my angel are fresh as if we had met a few hours back. Even today whenever I visit Raniganj, Cottage Hill Road is a special place for me; I stare at that platform, that bench, that tea stall even today. My kids get confused as to what is so fascinating in that lifeless station. They don’t know, this was the same lifeless place which taught me life.
Life’s a gift, it changes every time. Nothing remains constant in life, few people make it special, not necessary close to you, but definitely close to your heart. Life is defined by such moments, such people. Never program or control your life. Don’t just lead a life, live it!