A DAUGHTER TO HER MOTHER


Mother,

Are you aware of what your daughter has become? You, like every other mother on this planet, claim to know your daughters better than anyone ever will; but tell me mother, how, do you suppose, that you’ll know a person best when you barely know her? Yes, you did give birth to me, but that doesn’t make you an all-knowing force in my life, I’m afraid. You have no idea how much I hate being tended to. Yes, I hate it when you stop me from doing things because you know they’re bad. I absolutely detest the idea of a knowledge passed on. I like to live the knowledge I’ve earned on my own.

My knowledge may not be true to you just as yours isn’t true to mine, and we can blame time and the generation gap for this difference but what you’ll never blame is the single word that defines a life you’ve already lived and a life I’m yet to discover: Experience. I may fall if I climb a tree and scrape a knee, or both. But you know what, mother, I don’t care. You’re bothered about the scars it’ll leave on my skin, but have you ever spared a thought about the scars left on my soul when I am forced not to do something my heart aches to do?

You were liberal. I will not say n to that. You let me cut my hair short, you let me have all the guy friends I wanted, you let me take up sports, you let me wear guy clothes, you got me the material things I wanted, you let me go to good schools and even let me go to college! You let me ink myself and dye my hair and have boyfriends when I was only sixteen. But you didn’t look twice at the girl who cried herself to bed each night. You weren’t there when I was breaking down and grabbing blades to cut my entire body open and burning my skin to feel alive.

Oh where did you go wrong, mother? You didn’t raise a straight child! Like everything else in my life, my sexuality has two ends. It does. I am bisexual. I have a girlfriend now but I won’t introduce her to you partly because I know you’re homophobic, partly because we’re not confident making it public, but mainly because I don’t want you know it. I don’t want you to know me anymore; because you didn’t know me for a long time before this. Please don’t be surprised. You were working when I was seven years old and I took care of your younger daughter when you weren’t home until evening and all we had in the name of a parent was a drunken father who couldn’t talk straight to save his life!

Yes, you were the man of the house, but the problem with men is that they cannot be mothers. When you became the man, you were no longer our mother. You did everything you could to give us a comfortable life – you earned, and cooked, and rushed us to the hospital when needed, but you were always a wife before you were a mother and so you spent nights in hospitals with your husband in the emergency ward while your two little girls stayed alone all night locked in a house all by themselves, afraid to step into the dark kitchen when they wanted to drink some water.

You’ve been a good wife, I suppose, like all Indian women should be. In the stories grandmother tells of you and your brothers when you were all little, I hear about me. Somewhere along the line you fell in love and your fire extinguished and you turned into an ordinary Indian woman who took care of her husband and of her kids and did everything she could to keep afloat a boat that had no bottom. You were steering an anchored ship. Your husband was, and is the anchor. You daughters, the crew, are ready to abandon you. But a true captain, I think you’ll go down with this one drunken hell of an anchor.

You have a disease, mother, but don’t worry, most of the people suffer from this one. I’m a lucky survivor, I must admit, but you have a very bad case of ‘what-will-the-society-say’ syndrome, locally known as ‘log-kya-kahenge’. You worry about the thoughts of the world. Do you know why that’s bad? Because the time and energy you waste in thinking about what others think, you aren’t thinking about what you can do to make yourself happy. And it wouldn’t cause me much concern, for a huge number of the people on this planet share your invisible suffering, unless, of course, you applied the teachings of these sufferings to me and tended for the wounds I haven’t yet endured.

I am not allowed to put up photos on the social media where I stand alone with a guy anymore, not to mention I cannot visit anyone nor call anyone home. If I keep myself engaged in after college activities you show up in college and lash out on the HOD and counsellor. You threaten my friends. You threaten me, you question my character and my personality, and you question my faith, even!

Yes, you are a Hindu and I am your daughter; yes, I do have a tonne of Muslim friends, and yes, I have reverted to Islam long before I knew of their existence. But you don’t know this, like the many other things you don’t know about me. You are afraid that I’ll turn to Islam one day, because ‘log-kya-kahenge’ but, mother I already have turned to it. It’s been years!

Did you ever look up from the computer screen, when you sat in my room, and wonder who you’re sitting next to? Sure, you’re sitting next to a weak and sensitive creature you did the favour of brining into this filthy world some eighteen odd years ago, but who us she? Is she nothing more than your offspring? Isn’t she an individual? Doesn’t she have dreams and aspirations and wants and needs? Are all needs as material as they seem to you?

I ache to pray, sometimes, and as Ramadan approaches I dread that you’ll find out that I’m fasting and throw a fit. I hate to be related to you or your husband or your second daughter. I hate to be related to any of your relatives. I do not have a family. This is most definitely not a family. Family doesn’t snap at each other with every word they speak. They don’t push people to the thoughts of committing suicide.

Why don’t you just let me live? Do not curb my freedom, I beg you! I am not your bonsai plant that you’d keep cutting in an attempt to stunt its growth and shape it as you please. I am a human being; an individual, with my own free-will and thoughts. I want to exercise that will and live a life of my own, unashamed. I do not want you stopping me because people will talk about me. People will talk about me today and forget about it tomorrow; that is not what bothers you. What bothers is that they will question ‘what family does this girl belong to?’ and even when I say I do not have a family, everyone will point at you. That is what bothers you.

Oh you are a nice woman, alright, but as everyone is, you’re selfish. And I am your daughter, by a choice of fate, and I am equally selfish. If you choose to play the role of the jailer in my life, I will play Houdini and I will earn my freedom. You probably don’t know this either, but I am a real-stubborn bitch, and I’ll do what it takes to get my way. You lived your life, mother; now it’s my turn to live mine to the fullest and make it count.

Sincerely,
A Suffocated Daughter

ZAHAB’S GRADUATION


The sky hung unusually low that night. It seemed as though you just had to jump high enough to be able to touch the stars which, usually one or two in number but infinite tonight, were spread all over the midnight blue fabric like a badly done Zari work on the saree you bought for your graduation ceremony at college.

The realization of difference had dawned upon the skinny frame of Zahab that night. She had in her hands the proofs to the repeated allegations made by her own head every night ever since she had gained consciousness of her existence in the filth everyone called Society. She had finally placed all the pieces together, in her head, and she was in awe of the picture that the puzzle revealed.

Different parts of her that she had been carrying in the ugly, over-used cardboard box of life had fallen out when she tripped over nothing in particular, and arranged themselves in such a way that one would applaud them for falling out of a box and into place right in front of her eyes. She was different. There was no doubt about that. She was an unusually quirky company to her age-mates and a rather pleasant one to the old souls around her.

Young at age and in body, Zahab held a soul so old within herself one would wonder what it was that made her so. And so did many around her. Among the many wonderers was Afia, her girlfriend, who unlike Zahab was born a Muslim.

At the age of sixteen, a Hindu born girl named Abha had called up her best friend Osman and taken the Shahadah over the phone, very carefully pronouncing each letter of the qalma she had spent the last two nights by-hearting. She asked him to pick a name for her because there were just too many beautiful names to choose from, and he called her Zahab.

This meant that she was now different from the rest of her family, and they didn’t even know about it. She liked it that way and never told them. Another thing she never told anyone except Osman, until she met Afia, was that she was bisexual. Being bisexual in the Indian society is as good as committing suicide, but she did it anyway. She was a proud bisexual with a girlfriend by her side. She was different.

She wanted to kiss in public and drink wine at home. Her idea of home wasn’t a family, it was a lover, and if not that, just a book and a glass of wine. She hated family and the concept of marriage. Her mind was open to the thoughts that had never occurred to her mother before. Living in with her best friend was a dream and pre-marital sex was no big deal. But she was modest and mannered, alright.

She wouldn’t smoke or do drugs. Drinking more than a glass of wine was unacceptable to her. Skin show was only for her sexual partners and dressing was for herself.

Her tastes were exotic and rather unusual even to the ones who owned the exotic tastes so preferred by her. Language was her only true love and she started learning Persian to expand it to another world. She was crazy.

She didn’t modify herself according to society’s definition of a ‘good girl’ and so she was shamed. She was harassed. Her character was questioned by the people who brought her into the dirty world. She was broken. Her scars wee fresh and her love was lost. She left us.

The sky was so unusually low that night; she stood up and took it in her hands. She wrapped herself in the midnight fabric and she graduated to a better life.

A LETTER TO THE ELDER PRINCESS


Dear A,

Before I start, let me confess that this is my first actual love letter to anyone. I’m not one to confess my love through letters but somehow it just seems appropriate to do this right now. I have written letters to my ex-boyfriend and best friend before this, and to my pen-pals and far away friends, but never of this sort. I’m nervous; I don’t know how you will react to this. I don’t think I like butterflies anymore – they’re making me sick as I think about you right now…

When we started playing around with the idea of being girlfriends, it was fun. It really was. I was excited after all the years of closeted bisexuality to have a girlfriend by my side. I came out to a lot of people after you were with me. It felt so good and liberating to be me in front of others without any shame. Thank you for that; it wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t around.

I admit, in the beginning I wasn’t serious about this relationship – at all. Calling you my girlfriend, and you calling me yours was a fun way of letting people know that I was bisexual. There was nothing more to it. But you do look good and after exchanging a few photographs, I was reconsidering my feelings for you. I wanted more than just fooling around with you. I wanted to hug you, and kiss you, and spend more time with you. Getting to know you was still not on my list, but I had been looking forward to it ever since we first met in the college canteen all that time ago.

I didn’t care, at first, if you met your ex over lunch, or if he texted and called you every single day. I didn’t care about how you went on and on about Professor either. I don’t know when this change happened, but I started liking you in a way that I didn’t think I could ever like a girl. I was dreaming about you at night and waiting for you in the mornings. This was really new to me, and I was scared. I didn’t know how to tell you about it, so I didn’t.

Over time when we talked, and you shared so many things with me, about your past and your home, about Professor and any other random thing, I liked it. I was falling in love with you and I didn’t even know it! A, I don’t know what it is that is making me do or want this, but all I want to do is see you happy. I know I won’t be with you forever and I’m completely okay with that! I just want to make the time we spend together memorable.

Sometimes I dream about kissing you, and at other times we are doing crazy stuff – like painting walls and redecorating a house that is ours. We don’t marry, or adopt babies, or do whatever it is that girls do together to settle in life; instead, we live together like friends, and we are really close to each other. It is a really cute dream. I like that dream.

In my dreams you often wear a banana-yellow t-shirt, one shoulder always dropped. Your hair is tied up in a really cute messy-bun, and you wear white leggings to go with the top. You look gorgeous and so comfortable – always laughing and smiling…

The day you told me that you’re happy with me, after a whole night of crying, and meant it, I felt accomplished in life. No one has ever said that they feel happy with me. And definitely no one has ever shared so much with me as you did in the past two weeks. After hearing you out and getting to know you, I really have fallen for you, and I worry when you meet your ex. He isn’t a bad person, but he has hurt you enough and it breaks my heart to see you so upset after you talk to him. I wish I could fix things for you and make it work, but I cannot. What I can do is love you and support you when you need me to, or just be there and talk, play table-tennis even though I can’t, check-out other girls and guys, and have a nice tiffin-box date with you when we find the time.

So please don’t freak out when you read this. I love and respect you a lot. I too am getting used to the feeling – it’s all new to me as well. Sorry if I’ve creeped you out! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! (That’s the closest I’ll get, to kissing my delicate little angel!)

#LoveYou #YouAreSoCute

Love,
Also A.

HUMAN


I do not want a name, a face, a gender or sexuality.
I do not want a colour, a race, a religion, or an accent.
I do not want a character to label me.
I do not want to belong to a particular income group,
or to a family…
I want to be Human.

If you can see me for who I am, a mere Human, then you have been in my shoes,
and I know they bite,
so thank you, for not judging me by my looks,
or my name,
or by the company of the people I spend time with.

Thank you for being Human, and letting a Human be.

MIND YOUR STEP


Mind your step, not,
for all the life’s an act of falling…

Now, if you tell me you’ve never fallen,
I’d be forced to say you’ve already fallen,
to the level,
of lying.

In the most literal meaning of the term,
you must have fallen down,
bruised a knee, perhaps,
as you walked about the town?

Or do you prefer romance to reality?
So let me tint this red;
did you happen to fall,
or did you jump into the flower-bed,
of love?

Look, mind your step, not!
Just don’t…
For all the life’s an act of falling…

You may mind your step so often,
and walk into a pole,
unless you walk like me…
‘Cuz then you’d be falling down some hole,
or walking into clear glass doors,
and randomly hugging,
the floor…

But, you get the gist, right?

Anway…
What I was here to say,
is that we are all falling now,
together,
as a species that does,
not enough good.

And some of us are doing it right;
without putting up a fight,
they have proven their worth,
and fallen:
down-to-earth…

That’s what we call ‘em, I suppose…

But we are not like them;
all glorious, warriors of Rome…
We are nothing but fallen angels,
trying to find our way back home.

THE STORY OF REZA GUL


The following story is based on true events. The identities and names of the characters as well as the facts in the story have not been altered in any way whatsoever. It is a personal opinion I hold that the story of Reza Gul should be highlighted and that it should make its way into stories for young children of the future generations; this story is an attempt at doing the same.


History is witness that once upon a time, in a land not-so-far away, lived an ordinary woman by the name of Reza Gul. Like many people in her terror-stricken land, Reza didn’t know her exact age, but she had been wearing the shawl of Time for 50 or 50 years… The woman was old; there was no doubt about that! As old as time itself, perhaps, but she was beautiful. Her fair skin was browning, like the pages of an ancient book, but her skin hadn’t withered just yet; it was still soft and fresh, hugging her small frame just right.

Her hair might have greyed, given how old she was, but no one really knew what shade of grey it had acquired, for she always covered her head with a hijab. Gul lived with her husband, a daughter, three sons and a daughter-in-law, in Balabolok, a small district in the province of Farah in Afghanistan. Safiullah was a policeman in Abdul Satar village. No, he wasn’t just a policeman, the Abdul Satar police post was commanded by Gul’s eldest son!

Theirs was a family like any other, living under the terror of Taliban, just waiting for a Talib to show up on their doorstep, dressed in the robes of Allah’s beloved angels, and guide them, if not accompany, to where Jannah lay. Sometimes, I wonder if they believed that Qayamat was here already… But perhaps they didn’t, for they still talked to Allah through Salah, and prayed for their brothers and sisters in Gaza, like rest of the Ummah that wasn’t in Afghanistan…

On the 17th day in the cold month of November, Safi, along with a few more lightly armed policemen, was manning their post at dawn, like he always did. Now, being a policeman in a terror-stricken land is a dangerous job, and being a lightly armed one, even so. Taliban decided it was a good idea to attack Balabolok on this particular day and sent four hundred odd Talibs to Abdul Satar police post in attempt to overtake the district. Safi and his fellow policemen put a great fight but lost both the fight and their lives.

When Reza Gul heard about the Taliban attack, she ran to the post, terrified that she would see the worst today; and she did. Bodies of the Afghan policemen lay upon the floor like a badly spread out carpet, and upon the carpet rested her son, peacefully asleep, donning a red blanket of blood that once ran inn his veins, hugging his favourite toy – his gun.

Gul’s heart sank, but sank like the waves do before the coming of a tsunami. She screamed in anger and grief, her pain was too much to take! She was furious and so, boiling in anger, she picked up Safi’s gun and stood next to the policemen who were fighting the Taliban troop. The policemen were in awe of this hero and with a boosted morale, they fought, along with Reza Gul, against the Taliban. The enraged and grief-stricken mother had decided to fight of her son’s killers until she died, and her family joined her.

Safi’s father joined Gul at the frontline, as did Gul’s teenage son. Fatima, Gul’s daughter made bullets for her father and mother to fight, and supplied it to them. Safi’s wife and Reza Gul’s daughter-in-law had collected all the light and heavy weaponry she could find and reached the frontline to join her family. By the time she had arrived, the fight had intensified. There were bodies of Talibs lying around. This was a war waged by a family on four hundred terrorists who had killed Safiullah, a beloved son, a brave brother, and a loving husband.

The firing went on for over seven hours. Dawn turned to day, and day to noon, but the family fought alongside the policemen at Abdul Satar police post in Balabolok – the place where Safi had breathed his last. Twenty-five Talibs had accompanied Safi to Allah’s doorstep, and the anger of the mother had managed to wound another thirty one. The 375 terrorists of Taliban, fearing their life, perhaps, had fled the scene, and Balabolok was safe. Taliban had lost to the power of love and the maternal instinct of an old woman named Reza Gul.

Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far away, history witnessed the story of the victory of Reza Gul. What it didn’t witness was the grief that came upon the unsung hero after the fight ended. She sat with a straight face, as dry rivers of salt caked her cheeks, and retold the story of how she fought the Taliban. Everyone praised her for the deed, but the weight of the reason behind why she had done so was still pressing upon her chest. Her life had been altered forever. There was one person less in her life that she could love, and an addition of more than four hundred others she would now resent until she joined her son, Safiullah.