Monday, 23 March 2015

Finding a Friend

Memories. Probably it’s the only word that can mean positive and negative to the same person, often even at the same time. Memories. They can take you at the heights of cherished living and can even push you in the dark abyss of life. Memories. They can be your weakest link and also your biggest strengths. Memories. They have the power to take the reins of life in your own hands and even have the strength to make you miserable enough to ruin your entire existence. Memories. Oh, You memories.

I had started my MBA. It had been two months and I was completely immersed in the hectic schedule of my studies and presentation and assignments and case studies. I had found a group of friends. We studied together and even had good fun. But somehow I felt disconnected from everyone. I was gelling well with other classmates, doing good in my studies but somehow I felt completely lonely. I didn’t really have a confidante in that huge group of friends. Everybody around seemed close yet so distant.  

Exams were nearing and I made it a point to spend few hours in the library. A couple of friends from the group would also accompany me. The day is clearly etched in my mind. It was 18th of October. After a few hours, one by one all the friends left. It was only me and one other friend that stayed back. We studied for sometime. 

And suddenly he stopped studying and said, ' I know you feel very lonely here. You don’t show but you feel alien amongst the crowd.' I was too stunned to react. 'It's okay to feel that way. I have seen you and the loneliness around you. I don’t know if you consider me worthy enough but in case you ever want to share something with anybody, I am there. And I hope you can trust me. I don’t let my friends down.' he said in one breath. 'How did you know?' was all I could say. 'I just know', he said and smiled. I smiled back. Somehow the smile didn’t feel fake to me that day. Somehow it felt warm and genuine. Concern that didn’t seem fake. Friendship that didn’t seem to be based on mere give and take. Somehow I felt that this friendship will last.

That day, we talked. We talked and talked and talked. Right from subjects that were mundane to the things that were important. I had found a true friend in that library that day. My two years of education seemed like a breeze because of the amazing friend that I found that day. Somehow I will always be thankful for the beautiful friendship and time that I shared with this friend. Because as they say being #together is what matters the most.

This post is inspired by - #Together.

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

A step toward the 'new' me

It was the monsoon of July 2012. Outside, it was pouring and so was my heart. It was bleeding actually. Somebody very dear, somebody who used to be my emotional anchor had backstabbed leaving me cold and blue. You sometimes get so attached to people and are so blinded by their presence in your life, that you can hardly reckon with a situation of them going away. It's as if you have never imagined life without them. You are so sure of their lifelong company that when they actually leave, the first reaction is shock, followed by denial and then comes the all encompassing sadness. The phase where you are literally lost in your life. The phase where thinking about living life without them, about getting up every day and doing the mundane tasks of even continuing life seem like a burden. And you have done everything to pull yourself together but in vain. I had done the same but nothing seemed to help.

A friend seeing my state of mind asked me to get some change saying that it should help me get out of the vicious cycle I had gotten myself into. Somehow her words stuck to my heart. I decided to get a place of my own and start living independently. Coming from a family where the mother gets anxious when you are late even for a few minutes, convincing them to let me go live in another city all alone was going to be a herculean task. Now I stay in one city and travel for three hours every day to reach my office to another. That is another herculean task I used to put up with. 

When I first broke the news that I wanted to go and stay alone, there was complete mayhem around. And the situation went from complete mayhem, to anxiety, to seeking the reason behind this bold step, to convincing me to change my decision, to coaxing and even emotional blackmail at some level. But I guess there was something inside me that was craving for change and hence I stood firm. 

Reluctantly, they agreed. After numerous trips for finding a proper rented accommodation agreeable to all the family members, a two bedroom flat was zeroed down upon. The formalities for renting the accommodation were completed and I moved into what can be called my first stint away from the protected atmosphere of my family where I have lived all my life.

I spent the most wonderful six months of my life in that rented place. Managing the entire house, cooking, cleaning and other stuff gave me a new thrill. The anxiety whether I would be able to live alone and manage things on my own was replaced by the confidence that all you need is the belief in yourself to overcome all the fears inside you. Going from a complete emotional wreck because of the sudden loss of somebody very near to living alone in a new city on my own was a journey I will cherish. 

Of course the journey was laden with outbursts; of course there were times when I completely broke down on smallest of the things like burning a chapatti while cooking thinking about my non capability to do anything on my own. But things changed. I changed. And at the end of six months, I emerged as a new person. The bold decision of leaving my family and staying on my own in the midst of complete emotional breakdown paid off amazingly and I am glad I had the courage to take that step and #StartANewLife.

This is my official post inspired by - #StartANewLife.
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A Small Victory

A few days ago, seething with rage, I put up the below status on facebook.

"Sexual harassment at workplace. Heard of it. Read about it. Television, newspapers. But never had I thought that I would learn about it from someone so close. A reputed company. She was told it was employee friendly. Seemed like it. Good work culture. Friendly colleagues. Satisfied with her job. Until recently. When he joined as her boss.

45 year old. Young. Dynamic they called him. Until recently. When he started showing his true colours. An appreciative pat on the back that lingered on the back for more time than necessary. Calling under the pretext of silly excuses like showing him how to mail. Really? How to mail? At such a senior position? Then came the leering. Checking out. Eyes hovering all over the body making you feel disgusted.

But she thought it was only her perception. We women, sometimes even ignoring what is so blatant in our face. What-if-nobody-believes-me fear. "Let me just avoid him. I will avoid going near him' - she reasoned to herself. And then it took no time for his hands to reach inappropriate places. The disgusting smile on his face. 'You should keep your boss happy' - the intention behind this comment I need not elaborate.

She talked around. She was not the only one. Four of them had faced the same. Amusing. Educated women. Independent. Yet kept quiet about this. Well, are they to be blamed ? Finally, they gathered courage to speak to the management. And what does the so-called management do? Ask him point blank if he did all that. Hah!! Who are you fooling? Which goddamn criminal agrees to his crime?

His masterstroke - 'They are like my DAUGHTERS. Wow. Like wow. Where are we safe if you have fathers like these? Weren't these same words said by that man who was recently captured on camera in the aircraft? Similar words. 'Like my daughter.' The words echo in my ears.

He was let off with just a warning. Just a warning for a complaint about harassment by not one, but four women. All four of them have been told to avoid being with him in his cabin. Use common meeting room, they have been asked. Another wow. Reputed private firm. Employee friendly they claim themselves to be. Well, I don't know if safety of women is a part of employee friendliness for them.

While he continues the backhanded comments. He is their boss. Their appraisal in his hands. Two of them planning to leave the job. Strange. Yet true. They are planning to file a written complaint against him to the management. In the hope. That they will be heard this time."

When I put up this status, a lot of friends and acquaintances of facebook messaged me about the incident wanting to know which company was it and what exactly happened. This incident happened with somebody I know very closely and hearing it from her was more than just shocking. I was angry. I sought her permission to put up a status on facebook without her name and any detail. She agreed. A lot of friends asked me to keep them updated on the matter. I closely followed the matter. We tried finding out the laws and I wrote the complaint for them which they submitted in their company.

Initially, the management tried to hush the whole issue. When there was no action taken against the person in a week's time, all the four women resigned. As per the rules, they had to serve a month's notice period which they agreed to serve. And while serving their notice period, they continued their campaign in the company against the culprit and started gathering support. The culprit was now the centre of attraction (ofcourse in a wrong way) in the company. He tried to reason it out to all the women involved saying that his intentions were not wrong and other such blah blah pleading them to take back their resignations or else it would affect his career and that he had people dependent on him and he needed the job etc etc. These women stood firm and were just waiting for their notice period to end, dejected at the way a professional firm had handled such a grave issue.

But then, as they say, sometimes the glitter of hope shines through the thickest of times. While the one month notice period is not over yet, the news is that the culprit has been sacked from the company.

Just when our country is lost in a yet another controversy of 'India's Daughter', when every other day you hear about some or the other case of women abuse, when situation is such that seeing their daughter home safe every evening is a big relief for every parent, when dejection and anger about the current state of women in the country is reaching a yet another peak, this news of the abuser being sacked from his job comes across as a small victory in this fight against women abuse. Somewhere, it makes you realize that if we all learn to stand up against it, if we can gather enough strength to raise our voices, then may be, may be, this country can become a better place to live. The battle is still on and it’s a long way to go still but small victories like this are a flicker of hope that can give strength to carry on the fight. It makes me optimistic and a small voice inside me rejoices this small victory.

This is my official post inspired by - Look Up.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ah, you weather !!

BlogAdda's Tangy Tuesday Pick

We writers always take the weather so personally. We take cues from it. As if the weather is trying to talk. To us alone. Trying to convey something not heard by others who are incapable of reading its mystic language. Like the naughty eyes of a secret lover amidst a thick crowd that is totally unaware of the electric chemistry between them.

The sudden change from a supposedly hot March day to a cold July day. Like a woman with wild mood swings. Anger gathering up one moment and smile spreading her face another moment. Air washed in the smell of rain and hope and happiness too, caressing your skin like the lips of a first time lover – slow, cold, sensual – sending ripples through the body, engulfing you like the arms of an old sweetheart, making your tresses go wild and unruly, like the real you, atmosphere pregnant with the ecstatic thoughts of your first kiss. 

Spring blooming like your favourite perfume. You don’t want the perfectly cool breeze to stop like the time when you pushed your lover's hand from going at untoward places secretly hoping he wouldn’t let go seeing your mock anger.   

The heat of a May afternoon. Cruel. Sun in its full glory. As if it is his right to make people suffer. Mocking from far away. It's acidic laughter ringing in ears. Like that cruel magician in that circus who you thought cut the poor man in two halves. Sun burning holes in your skin like the time when that magician ran the thick axe into his body. Your dilemma as a four year old as to why was it amusing to others around you. Couldn’t they feel the pain of that half-cut man?       

The last week of June. With clouds scattered all over you, forming intricate patterns amongst themselves. Open to interpretation like a woman's advances. Trying to cover the sun. Like that old charm that your grandmother tied around your arm to shield you against the evil eye.

The drizzle of a July morning. Reminding you of the butterflies in your stomach
Image Courtesy : Google
on seeing your lover's name on your phone. The sound of drizzle like that of sweet nothings in your ears. Hide and seek of the sun with the clouds, like the one you played with your siblings in the farms when winning a game of hide and seek was the ultimate victory, enough to keep you smiling for days together. 

And then the downpour. Making everything around you opaque for a while. As if trying to convey about the loneliness of life, about the fact that this journey is yours and yours alone. That you would have companions but the journey would be yours. Stillness and fury unleashed at the same time. Of life and its cruelties.

Trees shedding their leaves in autumn. Like a woman suddenly aware of her sensuality, shedding her inhibitions one by one.  

Sun on a cold November morning making you feel warm from inside. Like the first sip of vodka. Like everything is alright in life. Or atleast will be. Very soon. The feeling of contentment.  Serenity settling in your bloodstream. Like the time when you saw that everybody you love was happy. Wanting the status quo to remain forever. Like the rainbows you see when you close your eyes with sun peering in on them. Colours of happiness and warmth all around.

And what about the foggy December days. Cold and lonely. The way you felt heavy with melancholy of the first breakup that was long ago. Like a broken bone, which though healed still pains. Sometimes. 

So many emotions, so many thoughts, ups and downs equivalent to a roller coaster ride. Ah, we writers ! We take this weather so so personally. While for others it's just change of seasons. How I wish they knew, how much they are missing what the weather is trying to say. Sigh!  

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