Why I would still burn Raavan’s Effigy on Dussehra

Recently in one of my writing group, someone brought the prompt “Having a conversation with Raavan”. In the beginning of the session, they talked about how bad they felt about burning of Ravana’s effigy, year after year, and how we shouldn’t be celebrating Dussehra in this fashion. We talked about the evil that recided within all of us. How we all have our dark side. So in the beginning I wrote about evil that resides within all of us. The shadow side of mine and how it looks from others’ eyes. But when it came to the Raavan prompt I couldn’t write it. No actually I did, it looked as dead on the page as dead it looked in my head. So in the end I read the evil inside me, piece. The session got over, but I was left with an unease, a feeling that you get when you don’t speak your truth, or unease that you get when you disagree with a bunch of people and are not able to put your point forth due to your incompatibility to speak objectively. Surely, it must have hit me in some ways, because here I am writing about it after two weeks. I have been pondering and wondering in my subconscious mind, how to bring my truth to the surface in the least objectionable manner for others. And here is my attempt to bring light to the things that have been disturbing me. 

For me Ram and Raavan, both are the same person. They both reside in us, if you look closely you will find so many similarities between the two. Like Ram was a duty bound king, he did what he did because as Sita’s husband it was his duty to protect her. Similarly Raavan did what he did, to protect his sister, his sister’s honor was at stake. They both were duty bound, the difference is the sides or people they were supporting. Sita on one hand was living her life, and was kidnapped from her house because of something Ram did, technically laxman did on Ram’s order. Soopnakha did what she did following her heart, and she took it a bit far or maybe Ram took it too far by cutting her nose. Now as someone of this age, if we see a man lusting after a woman, we might send him to Jail, here the gender was reversed and there was no one legal system for all. They did what they deemed fit for that atrocious behavior. I think they went a little overboard with castrating her nose. But I don’t know what other options they have to push her away. Now, Ram was fighting for someone he loved and someone who was innocent. While Raavan was supporting someone he loved but someone who had done some wrong deed. Now looking at it objectively, how many people even in this day and age will forfeit their own blood, in order to be righteous. Will you abandon your son if he accidentally kills someone? Or will you leave your partner if they threatened your neighbor in a fit of anger, and that neighbor reported you to the police. Think about it !! 

So Ravan and Ram both did what they did out of duty, but then who took it to extremes? I ask you that very question? Let me share a recent incident, where a 14 year old boy fell in love with a 20 year old girl, but the girl rejected the boy’s advances. The boy threw himself at the railway track and died. The boy’s family started harassing the girl and her family, until one day, they kidnapped the girl, raped her, and then shaved her head, blackened her face and made her walk in their vicinity. Now this my friends happened in this very century, just a week ago. Where someone avenged their dead by killing someone while being alive. Now if you look deeply at what Ravan did, he kidnapped Sita, knowing that in a society how the life of women can go ashtray, if she is Kidnapped by other men. Of Course there are flaws, Ram did her wrong and blah blah, I know that too, and yes I agree Ram should have stood by her. But in a way Ram lost even after winning the war. He lost his wife forever, the society took it away from him. But who brought it on him, Raavan did. Like what do you think will happen to this young girl, how long will it take her to recover from the trauma that she had suffered. Even if the boy’s whole family rot in jail, will it bring back what the girl has lost. So ask yourself, we are not questioning right and wrong, we are questioning the decision and from the place it came from, for each individual. 

In this way Ram and Ravan are two sides of us, one who takes decisions from a place of objectivity even in times of crisis, while Ravan is the other side of us which in anger take decisions whose repercussions we don’t understand at that very moment. Don’t we all love people who are objective and think about repercussions of their actions. Isn’t this why Dhoni was the most loved captain of our National Cricket Team. We all strive to be there, at least I do, and if you start working on yourself, you will too. No it doesn’t make you immune or less empathetic but it teaches you to step back from your emotions, understand the situation and then act upon it. As the great spiritual saying goes, “In times of anger, be proactive instead of being reactive”. And by abiding by this very saying, you will just not save yourself but a lot of other people too. This brings me to my point, why burning Ravana’s effigy is important. It’s a reminder to burn the evil inside of us, and use those ashes to recreate a soaring phoenix out of it. We are not burning a person, we are burning the evil that is represented by a person. 

PS: If you are a mythological music buff, look at the way these two prayers, one sung by Ram and other by Raavan, in praise of Lord Shiva, before the war. And if you understand music, you will understand what I am saying here, if my words didn’t say it. 

This was sung by Ram in praise of Lord Shiva before war
This one is by Raavan

The Name Game !!

“Tu jaanta nahi hai, mera baap kaun hai”, is one phrase you grow up on if you were born in India. Oftenly used by not-so-good-for-nothing sons of politicians, businessmen, celebrities to escape the law or mostly to get their way in any complicated situation. If Shakespeare was born in India he would never have written “What’s in the name”, because in our country a name is everything, especially the surname. In Fact, if he would have written: “Everything is in the name.” Lame I know but what can I say, it’s still true, know. 

But then I have a question for these men or boys, why they didn’t say anything about their mother. How would it sound, “Tu jaanta nahi mera maa kaun hai”, in our patriarchal world. Unmanly, right, a man hiding behind a woman even if that woman is his mother, even though it was she, behind whom he hid whenever his dad tried to beat the shit out of him. Now don’t roll your eyes, every Indian child does get a slap or two. A little beating does everyone a little good. The man who would ever dare to do it would have to walk, the walk of cuss shame. So in our country you can swear on your mothers and sisters, but you can’t throw their name around in a  stitch. 

But then if I think a little more, there is another reason for these YOLO kids not calling up on momma. Because Indian mothers, unlike their counterparts, care differently. They will definitely turn up at the place and would get you released too. But the moment you will be left alone with her , she will use all her homely weapons, from rolling pin to broom to the wiper for causing such a mess. But if that mom is anything like mine, then there are high chances that she will leave you in the officer’s care to teach you a lesson. Strange but that’s how our mother’s function and somehow we do too. 

Now you might be wondering after being gone from blogging for months, why I am bombarding you with such lame stuff. The reason is simple, the recent events have poked me to rise enough from my comfy chair of short story writer to don the hat of a blogger. 

Few days ago, NCB(National Narcotics Bureau) arrested a famous Indian Actor’s son for drug consumption and possession. In India it is a legal offence, and the punishment is quite lethal.  And Indian media has gone all crazy on it. So now, every single move of either the parent or the child is showcased as something out of ordinary. Every few minutes I see a new pop up from my news app regarding him. At times it’s like he was seen smiling in the Police van, but then seconds later another claim would come that he wasn’t smiling but laughing. And there would be this zoomed-out picture of him, to prove their claim. Another time the news claimed the child was crying inconsolably on seeing his father for the first time after his arrest. Now is that a wonder, he is a twenty-something kid, in police custody for the first time. He wasn’t brought up to end up there, and yet he did, of course by doing some wrong shit. But it’s human nature to break down in times of crisis, it’s a human reaction, what’s the news about it? The parents aren’t spared either, five days after his arrest when the child was denied bail, a zoomed-out video of the mother crying in her car was released. Now which mother won’t cry in such a fucked up situation. It’s not strange, is it? Every time I fucked up I cried and along with me my mother would cry, at times yelling and at times consoling, so what’s the news here ??

Never before have I wondered if there is another side to “Who my famous father is.” There were other kids arrested along with him, their father’s rich, true but not famous. Fame always surpasses the money in the media. The proceedings are still going on, and so we should too hold our judgements. But no, there is the whole circus going on about it. Sometimes media houses forget that to the other side of the news, are people, human beings with emotions, and allowing them some privacy in such times would be a human act. We often feel that as a famous person they are liable to such kind of indecency. But I often feel it talks more about us than them. Our idea of news, our addiction to consumption, our judgment on others, and our words piercing the hearts. I often at times disconnect with the news until a clear verdict is given out. And after it, if I feel like I might talk preferably write about it. Today I felt like writing about it because I feel that our media houses need to be a little more sensitive towards what they are pushing down our throats. A little sensitivity, a little niceness, a little kindness, goes a long way. And as Maya Angelou says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Comment ca va ?

As I ask the lamest question of the century to you, you purse your lips disapprovingly and whisper within “pas si bien, ma cherie”. And I understand because though you might be well physically or mentally but the chaos and the panic around us is saddening. 

One of my writer friends recently talked about writing condolences every day and how each time it breaks her heart to open up the messaging app and write one. How each day you become more grateful that it’s not you or your immediate family members but at the same time you know it can happen to anyone. 

So many of my friends have lost parents, siblings, or their own lives, and each day you wonder what next. My cousin recently shared a post talking about how never to say nothing could be worse than this because the moment you say that you are allowing the universe to show you the nightmares you never thought you could have. The situation is gruesome and you never realize it until it’s you who is in the situation. I realized an iota of it when I had to make calls asking for a plasma donor for a friend. I would never forget how my heart sank with each No for an answer. Yes the situation is bleak, yes I have cousins and relatives and close friends who are suffering terribly from the pandemic, and yes we all are sad and disoriented at the moment. But this situation of terrible chaos and losses has made me realize how much we need to look deep within for the light.  That except hope there is nothing else that can make us sail through this tough time. 

There has to be light at the end of the dark tunnel and until we find our light we need to keep going ahead. The only thing you can do for people who are suffering is to be there for them, listen to their cries, help in any way you could, make calls on their behalf, provide any kind of help that you could be it monetary or otherwise. Just be more human, kind, and sympathetic than you have ever been. The world needs more light, if you are doing ok then be that light for someone. Pass on good vibes, share happy messages, share calmness of nature, chirping of birds, blooming of flowers, full moon pictures, and poetry on a sky full of stars. 

Nature knows how to heal the burning wounds. Let it do the work, you just be the messenger for it. The strength of human bonds lies in compassion, where we turn inwards and gather the light from within, molding our common suffering into a hopeful future. 

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Boxed Up

Someone recently accused me that I box up people too much. At first, I denied the claim, as is my habit of denying any absurdity pointing towards me. But then I thought more on the subject, and here is what I found out.

Boxing up or labeling is what we do from the moment we are born. The minute a child is born, a gender gets assigned to it. Isn’t gender a type of boxing up. Children are reared differently, how subtle that difference maybe, but there is a difference for sure. Then how we teach relationship to a child is also boxing up. We tell them who is a confidant and who is not, whom to open up and whom to not to. We tell them whom to consider their family and who is friends, and who is a stranger. Of course, all this is done to ensure the child’s safety to protect them from the wild wild world. But today, I am not concerned about it; my concern is about labels. We are taught to label people in our life, Period.

Most of you will be rolling your eyes at me, but wait till you fully hear me out. Do you have a friend? Then welcome to this another analysis. How many friends do you have? A lot? But how many of them are real friends? Whom will you call up in an emergency? Who will surely turn up at your door? And more importantly, which friend of yours will be best to deal with you in the situation of crisis. Did names pop up in your brain? Good, then look at the next line carefully.

Best Friend, Close Friend, Fast Friends, and acquaintance- You must have seen these tags on social media platforms. Now each person who came to your mind in my above questions should be given a mentioned tag.
Did you do that? If not, please do; it will help you understand more about yourself. I am assuming by now you have put these friends in each category. Congratulations, you have successfully done the boxing up.

I am not here to judge you or moralize you. I am here to show you that the human brain is accustomed to boxing up. When you claim someone to be your best friend, you have put a label on them. All other friends who will come after that person in your life will have to measure up to that set criteria. Sometimes a new person will exceed the set standards; then, you are bound to pass on the sash to this new person. And that’s how the circle of labeling goes on.

The labeling is vital for your wellbeing. Each person is bound to have boundaries, and you shouldn’t be allowing everyone to enter into your life. The walls are created for your protection; that’s a human survival instinct. You need to protect your mind and heart from unnecessary trouble. Of course, even with so much precaution, you are bound to have some bad experiences, and they will make you notch up your walls, and that’s ok. It’s ok to have high walls, it’s ok to distrust people, but then the point comes to what extent? To what extent your walls protect you? To what extent the labeling is not robbing you of better experiences? Confused, I am too, but then we have to set boundaries on labeling again.

There will come people in your life who will not fit into one label. There can be someone who opens up some part of you creatively, but they won’t be available when you need them the most. They might be the one who knows most intimate details about your soul, but they might not want to be part of your life or maybe they can’t. Yet you keep them close and remain agitated because that particular person or relation can’t be boxed up.

The funny thing is you are boxing up your love too. When you love someone, you box them in the category of a lover. Each lover you will ever have will go to that box. Whether you like it or not, your mind has done it every time for you, even without asking.

So my conclusion on the accusation is, Yes, I box up people. Boxing has kept my soul intact and my mind sane. I am a high-walled person, and I like being that person.

For you, my reader, your experiences are your treasure. Never let anyone take away that from you. If they want to prove your experiences wrong, they should provide you with better experiences rather than telling you that you rely too much upon your experiences.

PS: You are free to give me your opinions? I am open to hearing you out.

Monday Musings

In the looming darkness of a winter night, I am sitting on a red brick at the rooftop, wondering about the universe. When I look up at the blackness of the vast sky, a single shining polar star catches my attention. I find it amusing or rather bold that a small star had taken upon himself to shine when the moon had decided to hibernate in a corner until his time arrives. While I am still admiring the polar star’s boldness, I notice a small blinking light in the sky. Then I see another one coming from an opposite direction, and the way they are moving, it feels they will intersect at some point, at least that’s what my understanding of geometry says. What if they meet, and what if they don’t?

Slowly the two lights are moving in a direction where they might collide. I wonder what does a person feels in a crash. Do they get the chance to decipher what happens at that moment? Or is it in a blink the light turns off, and you wake up in the bardo? As if suddenly changing their fate from landing on a place they wanted to be to a place where no one wants to be. Avoiding the collision isn’t that difficult in the sky, yet they keep occurring, not with flights but with other celestial bodies.

While I was sitting on my roof, wondering about a possible collision, somewhere from far off a distance, an asteroid is approaching the planet I am inhabiting right now. Yes, I am not fictionalizing it; yesterday, an asteroid named 2020XK1 of approximately 2-4 meter in size and 30 Magnatitude in height closely approached earth. What should I call it? When I think about a celestial body collision at one part of the planet, in another part of the world precisely at the Mt Lemmon Survey, they find an approaching asteroid. I don’t know about you, I find it interesting, and in a way powerful enough.

When I break away from my musings, I see a stalled flickering light in the sky, and I know that they have taken the precaution to avoid the collision. Now the two blinkings move away in their separate directions taking their awaited customers to their desired destination.

Writers Dilemma

I have a question for the writers in our community? Do you feel unease in finishing your work? I mean, does your heart starts fluttering when you know you are nearing the end of the story. I know this doesn’t happen when you write a story of 1000 words, but what happens when you are writing a novel? or a novella? or a short story of 20 pages or more? Do you procrastinate in writing the final scene?

I have not written much till now, and whatever I have written so far is not that long. I recently started a journey of writing in longer formats to test the water before I turn into a full-time writer. I wanted to see whether I have the patience and discipline to follow a routine to write every day and on a single piece of work.

Last year, I published a short story of 3500 words coming approximately to 16 pages, and it was where the journey of writing a longer format started for me. Writing a blog isn’t a challenging task, I mean, it is not easy, but it is not tough either. But when you are working on something you want to publish, it is a different ball game. You have to think of a plot big enough, your character has to be deep enough, and most importantly, you need to inculcate a discipline to write every day. And let me tell you that the last task is the tough cookie to crack from my personal experience.

You read so many writers’ interviews, blogs and sometimes talk to writers directly, and most of the writers would tell you that story evolves on its own. Very few writers have elaborate plans and use a storyboard concept for their writing; generally, these are fantasy writers. But if you ask anyone who writes literary fiction, they will always tell you they only had a seed, they watered it through their pen, and it bloomed into a book. Yes, there are still exceptions, a black sheep who might use a very different method.

So enough of my jibber jabber and pouring of my knowledge container on you. I want to listen your story. Did you ever procrastinate in ending your story? If yes, then why? And if your answer is No, then I must say you have nailed the game of abscission, my dear.

Please share your views and interesting stories in the comments. I am listening.

Another Rant

Some people are so full of themselves that they deny all the wrongs they have done to others. They won’t accept all the pain and humiliations they have put others through. They still have the guts to say that it’s them who are the victim while all the time they were the real torturers. I never get how people can be so ignorant of the wrongs they do to people like you keep pushing someone to the fence and when that person starts bleeding and start revolting against you, you start behaving like as if it’s their fault that they didn’t see the fence all this time.

I am furious and upset right now, but I am not someone who yell or abuse or throw things at people. The only way I know is to write and vent out my anger here on my blog, which is one of the few places that belong to me. I don’ know whether all this writing will ever take me anywhere, but how can you be sure that it won’t take you to the places you always wanted to see. Life is tricky and unreliable, we all make shitty decisions, we all go through hell at times, but that’s, not the reason that you should make other person’s life a living hell. And the biggest crime is not accepting all the wrong’s you have done to that person. It’s like you knowingly put the knife in someone’s hand, and when they get cut you say, it’s you who was holding it, while the person was still tied to the rope you were holding.

But then every experience teaches you something, something about yourself. Sometimes it comes in the form of a bolt of lightning hitting your head where you get some realization, and you start seeing a different perspective of the situation. You start realizing that it’s not wrong to keep yourself at first in your priority list. It’s not a crime if you make some tough decisions to make yourself happy. Your happiness is important too, people might disagree on that, but let me assure you I have been someone who always tries to make others happy, but only a few like I count those people on my finger, have worked very hard to make me happy. The soul kind off happy, where if death comes to me at this very moment, I will die happy.

PS: If you are reading this, I am sorry for filling your Saturday with my rant. But I had to get it out of my system, and I hope you understand.

PPS: I hope you are having a beautiful weekend.