Damsel in Distress

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Hello woman,

We live in a world of empowerment and #MeToo.
But dudes with dicks are a privileged crew!
So I sit to understand the world around us from the comfort of my conservative home,
And this is the conclusion to which I have come…

The expression of freedom, it’s never ambiguous.
It’s the Allowance of freedom that messes it’s meaning.
Figuring yourself out, a task I find ominous.
But I’m forbidden to do it on my own by she who claims to be my king.
Faith, something I’d like to understand on my own terms, dear,
But they keen to persistently interfere!
And some nights, helpless, I just think…

‘When I met her,
She said she loved me.
But as time came, she slowly stopped my heart beat.
I didn’t understand what I did to deserve the pain,
But she killed me like this every day.
Until…Until I felt all alone.
And tears choked me.
And in me sleep, each night, I begged for mercy.
If it was with her death or mine, I was so hurt, i just wanted it to stop.
I was sinking, and I wished to be left alone,
I would like to drown or swim on my own.’

So in a world of #TimesUp,

I am lost and miserable, but a dear friend has reminded me I am strong.

I’ll find myself mercy and the nightmare will be gone.

So, ladies, I’d like to remind you too, you owe it to yourself to find your way.
Believe in yourself, force happiness to stay.

                             -With love,

                              your ever so lovely,

                              Damsel in distress.

-SABAH BATUL

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Are you forcing your child to grow up? An Adult already in her childhood

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Are you forcing your child to forgo their childhood?

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Pc: AgileLeanife

As adults we tend to drown in our problems, we forget to take the little joys of life seriously. That is until we are our problems, and it’s tough to even breathe. But when that little one comes along, happiness is effortless, and we slowly start burdening our little bundles of joy with the responsibility of our joy.

We don’t mean to do that to our children, none of us do! Neither did my mom mean to do it to me. But when her life took a turn she didn’t plan out, she held my finger tight to protect me. Maybe that’s when I realised I had to hold back to protect her too.

I think it’s the circumstances we were in. Dad and mom didn’t have a fancy degree or a job that paid well. So it was all struggle in the small one-room apartment with three kids. But at the end of the day when we all sat down for that one hot meal our tired mother prepared, it was literally paradise. And when she got sick, and we didn’t have enough to care for her, the meals turned cold, and paradise turned black. Food was the least of our concerns though. The free clinic helped us out as much as they could, but she needed more.

What happened? My older sisters and I turned into mothers to tend for the one we were losing. Her pain ridden drowsy eyes would shine every time she would see us taking care of her. There quickly would be a tear running down her pale skin – a tear of remorse – of how things turned out. She knew she was dying, and she understood how that killed all of us.

I like to think that I was her favourite, as I read to her every night. She said the stories helped her forget what’s real and what’s not. She said she felt as though she flew away to a place where she had us all safe and happy. The house was warm, and the backyard was big, and we were all always laughing!

30 years later, I still remember the last time I sat down and read to her the words of another, she blissfully smiled. I don’t know if she understood much but she did enjoy. Her face was a shade of blank – mixed with joy, and I kept reading to her what I thought was her favourite book. Waiting for her eyes to shut, waiting for her to let go, waiting for her to fall into a beautiful doze.

The next time I saw her, she was wearing her best dress. She lay so still for her watchers that it hurt me. It hurt me to watch her the way she was. I took peace in the thought that she is happy now, and away from the painful corridors of those long hospital halls. But it still did hurt how everyone reminisced her living days and how they would miss her so dearly.

Meanwhile, dad held my hand as tight as he could. As though he was trying to hold on to hope for me. It was sweet.

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Pc: Hansen Spear Funeral Home

As my older sister gave the eulogy, everyone nodded and smiled and cried. But I felt like I was just there but somewhere else too. Somewhere away from all this hurt that my heart couldn’t possibly comprehend for me.

As the service was coming to an end, I could swear that I didn’t feel her presence anymore, although she was physically still there. And that hurt as well.

Then when she was given back to the earth, I could feel she had left us for good. Maybe she would look down soon on a dull night and miss us too.

We drove back Home ever so quietly. Home. The word felt empty, as were the vessels. There wasn’t enough food or clothes to go around. And we didn’t have topics to talk about because she wasn’t

there to listen. So we were walking zombies, making noise as we moved. We were all a little empty, crying while hiding in our rooms.

In my room, I was alone at last. As I was when she was alive. So that felt normal. But my lump of pain had me still drowning. Reminded of the beautiful past, where life was something you could live without having to think about it.

I went to her grave every day for as long as I could and read to her stories that helped me fly too. Sometimes I would take my own short stories where I had strong wings that would help me reach her at the highest station in heaven. I would imagine her smile while listening to my story. I would imagine her healthy. It would hurt her to think we forgot her and remembered her disease.

So we lived with her memories and somehow forgot to make our own for a while. And my greatest remorse is we missed out on our childhood, and that would be the last thing mom would want. As a parent today I work hard to make sure my children grow at their own pace. I make sure they never feel what I did as a kid. But I always dread the fact that there might be a time when I won’t be able to protect them when they will be forced out of the nest. That’s when I read my mother favourite book, she gives me courage through its words.

At this point, my youngest grew restless of watching TV and thought it best to throw a tantrum. I kept the book down and took her in my arms to make her a snack. “Honey, how is the essay going? “, I asked the oldest, she grunted in response. I smiled and gave my hungry kid a tight hug before I had to let her down. And this scenario right here brought my paradise back to life, and I began making the much-awaited sandwich.

 

 

 

Read this on Are you forcing your child to grow up? An Adult already in her childhood as well.

Younger at 40: Old is just a label

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Pic source: Masterfile

I hadn’t expected my life to turn out as beautifully as it did. A kid and an adoring husband. Book club on weekends, and picnics on sunny days. I was the lady in the movies, glistening in the background. Happier than the leads. But soon I came to a realisation that perhaps I was avoiding for longer than I care to agree to. I was old. I was actually the lady they talk about in the Olay advertisements. The saggy old hag that you need to avoid becoming. Their anti-aging creams lying to us just as our mothers did. “It all gets better as you grow old”, they said. What lies!

I am Colette, and here is my take on aging. I hate it, but I’m getting used to it.

Let me begin by saying it ain’t a ball, ladies. I am tired all the time! I am failing at yoga, if that’s even possible? (I don’t bend like the others do). I read books just so that my peers won’t judge me for being ‘unaware of my surroundings’. My husband orders wine for me when we go out with friends because it’s a woman’s drink (apparently he hasn’t figured it out that we live in the 21st century). My breasts are saggy, and I haven’t had sex for so long that I am pretty sure that the hymen is growing back. Menopause is killing me while burning me alive. I am tired of cooking dinner for my family, and I’m tired of pretending to enjoy small talks with my other perfect friends. And how is it that Angelina Jolie is about my age and she looks like a doll?!

So, to help you understand where I am coming from or maybe just because I need to tell this to someone, let me tell you a story. I did something I wasn’t supposed to. I went around and had a little affair. I met him in yoga class, the one I was failing. He was my teacher, I stayed back to learn the Uttanasana, and one thing led to another and so it began. The most satisfying two weeks of my life until Mary Kai saw us together going at it in the storage closet. And I was labelled a cougar.

It hadn’t occurred to me before, his age I mean. To me it was about the attention he gave me, the attention I missed from my busy and equally tired husband. No doubt what I did was wrong. I cheated on my husband, a terrible thing I regret. The divorce is going fine by the way. He is dating his secretary now (as he did for a year, just out in the open now is what I meant). Not many judgments directed towards him, at least not explicitly.

Now I am living my life as a divorcee woman. But the rumours and gossip have started to get to me!

So, I write to ask you all something, riddle me this, if age is just a number then why does mine matter so much? If consensual sex is nobody’s business then why does it make me a cougar? If every body type is beautiful, then why are my saggy breasts, wrinkled skin stuffed down a spanx, and child-birth survived loose vagina, disgusting? You can lust, and have every right to hate the label whore. I follow desire and I am having a mid-life crises?!

After you cross a certain age, people start assuming you’re old news and expect you to retire away from the world. Have a peaceful life, eating the fruits of the trees we planted in our youth. But my tree is still branching, despite the end of my youth. And I want to live, I want to live till I am alive. I don’t want to be declared old news. I still have a few more mistakes to make. And I still have enough love to give to fascinating men for fickle moments.

Why should I be your older reliable friend? I am the protagonist of my story, and let me tell you it’s a blockbuster! I am ageing as badly as you can imagine -trying my best to get in terms with this- but I don’t want to fix my ageing skin or pop vitamins and heart medicine by the fireplace like you expect me to (Fortunately, I have my father’s genes and I am healthy as a horse).

I don’t want to do yoga and wait for my kid to call me once a week. I definitely don’t want to work on my stitching skills, or leave recipes as legacy. My legacy should be something colossal, something that I had fun making.

I guess what I am trying to say is ladies, I am tired of being just a wife, a mother and a friend. I want more, I want to be a lover, someone who turns you on. I want to try adventure sports, and not worry about my weak bones. I want to try restaurants and drink exotic drinks, not host boring parties. I want to see the world again and do more with my sunny days than picnics.

So if you understand where I am getting at or where I am coming from, that’s great! Otherwise, you can label me like you label others, an oldie with a few good years left. But I’ll keep living my life, reckless or meticulous, the way I want to. That is of course until you find me in an urn on a shelf. But until death comes running my way, I won’t let the world kill me with a number.

 

 

Gay for the Day: Are we your hashtag today?

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“How about pride week for Intrigue this year? It is cool and trendy. The theme can be- My Gay Best friend!” Arya exclaimed, in love with her own ingenuity. “Oh, so the keywords cool, trendy and aware took you straight to Gay. WOW. Pun intended, BTW!” said Amina rolling her eyes.

“So what do you suggest? Nothing is more eye-catching than rainbows and our support!” “Now that’s just demeaning, Arya,” Neha added. At this point, the conflicted clique of girls looked in my direction. Feeling obligated to say something, I added, “Did you guys hear about the Section 377 hearing at Supreme Court?” But I was interrupted by the riveting tale of Kylie Jenner’s thrown out lip fillers by Nishant who had just arrived.

But today, I had a little too much of the Kardashian talk, so I finally decided to say something, “Hey, did you guys know that the word ‘Gay’ actually means cheerful and bright and showy on Wikipedia. And it was picked up in the 19th century as slang to refer to a mass of people with flamboyant personalities -stereotyped- rather than a description of their sexual orientation, which should have pointed out.

So gays have walked the earth long enough for a shout out in the Bible, but somehow we aren’t surpassing the Facebook rainbow filter and derogatory references! Not all of us want to flaunt our fashion sense to the world. Seriously, what is wrong with you people?!

We live in a world with an expanded spectrum of acceptance, with people who are self-aware and brilliant actually striving to help us voice our choice. But your group of people, who think we are the It thing of today still box us down to a trend.

You know what? Just for one day let’s try to get rid of these people and relatives and aunties and dadas. Just for one fine day, it would be great if my sexual fantasies were left alone rather than paraded around. It would be really awesome if my choice was not put up for public validation! It would be crazy if I could just be the norm rather than the sore finger sticking out! Yes, I am Gay. But I don’t want to announce it at a fancy coming out party, because that’s just not who I am.”

Catching my breath amidst the feeling of complete exuberance, I continued, “ You know I read somewhere that section 377, which by the way penalizes homosexual sex, was established more than 150 years ago during the British rule, who themselves have eradicated this absolute load of crap long ago! Then why is it that in the name of culture I’m a criminal?

Why is it that if not by the law, in some way, we sometimes feel like the animals at the zoo? Caged and at display.

 

Maybe that’s why I hid from your spotlights, cameras, and #prideweek tweets all this while. Maybe that’s why we liked the closet better than the room where there always will be the disapproving murmur.”

 

With this thought, my monologue came to an end. And although beautiful, that is not how I came out. That was a story for another crowd and another time.

Today, all I said was, “Supreme Court claims the LGBT community is a negligible part of the population and denies them their right of choice.”

This was received with a short protest by my friends. They all agreed on how it’s unfair and how badly it sucks for the LGBT community to receive the animosity they are offered.

The conversation then swiftly moved on to Justin Bieber’s engagement with Hailey Baldwin. And I stood there in silence, mourning yet another defeat of my people.

A Dream: The Middle Class Mother

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“I don’t know Radha, maybe it was a mistake to let my dreams go in the name of what seemed like love. Maybe it was a mistake to depend on Raghu for money.” Said mum to her friend. Radha sighed, almost feeling the regret my mom was feeling, and added, “at least you had dreams of value to miss. Mine was to get married.” And the dull silence broke into a sad laughter of reminiscence.

Mom was cleaning up after her friend left, the teacups were washed and arranged, and the table was back to its shiny self. “I need new books,” I told her with guilt. She looked at me smiling, “Of course, I’ll ask your dad for some extra money today.” And the guilt turned into a knot in my stomach.

How disappointing it was to see my mom depending on my father to the extent of disrespecting herself. She must have started out like me, a ten-year-old, with dreams of her own. She wanted to be a teacher she had told me. But she got married as soon as she completed her graduation, and my father found it ego shattering to let his wife work. “I can take care of you”, he had promised her. And today, he fought with her for every extra rupee in the name of house expenses.

A few years later…

“You just want to show off in front of your friends and family. Want to feign the role of a Memsaab. Don’t forget that I am just a clerk! Hold the purse strings, I always remind you, but no! You have to put Radhika in tuition. Why can’t you teach her? I ask? What is the use of that B.Sc. degree I ask” After a long pause “Why can’t you be a loving wife, or am I cursed for life with you? My friends sing praises of their dutiful wives, meanwhile I am stuck with you!” Father had his own regrets and dreams I guess; mom quietly packed his lunch while I skimmed through my 11th physics textbook to appear busy.

Conversations like these happened way too often than they should. From money for daal to an eraser, everything had to be approved by the Dictating breadwinner. And every time I reminded myself of my dream, just like my parents did. I wanted to earn a lot of money one day, and shower my mom with all the money bought happiness she missed out on.

A few years had passed when finally I got my first job, my stipend was Rs.500. A well-paying job it was, indeed, but mom was happier about the fact that I had made something of myself.

The first salary check I got was to be given to my mom, but a selfish desire shadowed my good intentions and I gave her the moony with regret, only to fulfil the promise I had made to a younger Radhika. She was ecstatic. I was sad. Something had happened over the years, I had turned selfish, and my mom seemed like a burden for a second. I was swept with guilt when I realised I had turned into my father!

Not trying to make excuses, but the child me hadn’t taken into account the ice-creams, dresses and birthday parties I had restrained myself from to avoid my mom being yelled at. So when I finally got the freedom of deciding my own budget, I didn’t want to share the happiness, not even with the woman who had suffered more than I did.

All those years a mom spends over preparing others to achieve their aspirations, while she shares tea over lost dreams. All those battles with dhobi bhaiya and sabji bhaiya to save that extra paise, feeling valiant over victory, only to get ingrates in return. Her dream was compromised just for her family. And we left her counting the change in her hidden box in the kitchen, amidst the grains of sand. Indeed a scary life, one of the Middle-class mother.

The Story Behind Her Eyes

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Pictures are stories that are already imagined for us. And one of such imaginations is the beautiful portrait in conversation today, the one that was compared to the famous Mona Lisa. The reason behind me taking this particular topic is to point out the human mind’s working and understanding of the complex stories, which we simplify to the level of spoiling its existence.

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The picture of the ten-year-old Afghan Refugee was one of the most famous covers of National Geographic. The picture was taken at the Pakistan refugee camp, and for about another 17 years, Sharbut was unaware of her fame and glory (distant from first world problems of popularity).

Fun fact: After the picture was published, many men recognised with Sharbat as their wife.

This dry and short introduction seems apt for the objectification of Sharbat Gula, being the portrait of the Afghan Girl. When the picture was taken, Afghanistan was under the gnawing Soviet Occupation. Many children like her were displaced under the label of ‘refugees’.

So, when I see the picture, I see a strong and glamorous woman, as do you. The piercing eyes have a sad story behind. But the popularity of the picture ruins its raw beauty for me. I think the picture caught the common eye due to her earthly, bold looks. Rather than the troubles she was facing. Her beauty stood out and was the riveting factor, rather than her traumatic childhood. And such a superficial outlook on the lives of the migrated Afghani’s is disrespectful and pathetic.

Obviously the point of the picture was to show the Afghani struggle, but it turned into more of a sympathy towards the beauty in pain. Which was completely out of context, and unrequired. To prove my point I’d like to take the example of Bibi Aisha, her picture we feel sorry for. But the Afghan Girl, we find breath-taking. But both of them are damsels in distress, then why the different take?

What I am trying to say here is, I find it that our prejudiced vision prevents us from seeing the ugly in the beauty, and the truth behind agitated green eyes. And I find it terrible that my biased eyes will never see something as it was meant to be, and how it will continue to discriminate and box art. So will you break this chain?

                                                                                                                              -Sabah Batul

                                                                                                                        

 

Dear Dad

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Dear dad,
When it rained really hard,
Or the fires burned down the curtains,
When the game was won,
Or my leg was broken.
When I sang too loud,
Or wailed in distraught.
When I didn’t know if I’d make it,
Even when you yourself were lost.
You held my world in your two hands,
Looked me in the eye,
You made me breathe,
And I closed my eyes.
When I open them again, Jack,
Everything was alright!
I don’t how you do it,
But you made me smile,
And now, you make me cry!

When you peeked through the door to check on me.
When you were burdened with self-doubt,
But stayed strong for me.
So when you left without saying goodbye,
I collapsed; I thought I had more time.
When I stood at your funeral,
And I missed your smile.
I missed how you promised me the world,
When you hugged me with all the love you could offer.
Then is when I believed that love is true,
And there has or never shall be anyone who will be as good as you.
Oh, Dad,
Every single day, we miss you!

Dear Jack,
You were twice the Man there ever existed,
And you didn’t even have to try.
You were as perfect as they get!
Every single day, I’ll miss you!
I’ll miss you, Jack.

 

-Sabah Batul

#thisisus

A Little Lust For Lonely Nights

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Cherry lips, kisses rough.
Edges blue- blossoms and girth.
A kiss for new years.
A hug for Valentines.
A little lust for lonely nights.
Horny days, and
Maybe a few date nights.
A little lust for lonely nights.
A man’s power, with the touch of a dirty saint.
Some late night talks.
A strong jawline, and a rugged face.
I need it bad, I need it tonight!
To get a little low, a lot on the naughty side! So, what I need is-
A little lust for lonely nights.
-Sabah Batul

Death, be mine

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Death, be mine,
Kiss my chaste lips.
Drain me of life.
Make me the beauty of sleep.

My friends can hold me a wake.
And mourn the life I never adored.
Share how they miss me,
And talk of the memories we planned to make.
Lie about my Bright future,
And the chances I lost.

Then when they’re done,
And have devoted me a mural,
Ready to bury me under the cross.
Death can come for me,
Take me in his arms.
And dance with me in the ball of yesterday and goodbyes.
Oh death, I beg thee.
Make me yours, and I promise to never take another as love.
Death, be mine,
Kiss my chaste lips.
Drain me of life.
Make me the beauty of sleep.
– Sabah Batul

#death #poetry #kissofdeath #thoughts

What is?

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What is torn? What is raw?
What is real? What is not?
What is music? What is loud?
What is drama? What is life?

What is love, or friendship?
What is a dream? What is existence?
What is an exuberant scream?

What is the future?
What are your hopes?
What is jealousy?
What is a real low?

What is the sunrise? What is a good view?
What is feeling content? What is not knowing who are you?

What is wanting to read to escape?
What is feeling at peace when depressed?

What is anticipation?
What are thoughts?
What is over thinking? Or anxiety? or being overwhelmed? What is reflection?
What are doubts?

What is -‘What if’? Or ‘Maybe’? Or ‘But’? Or ‘Why not’?

What is rejection?
What is mature?
What are relationships?
What is feeling secure?

Does any of that make sense?
Or, What is sensible, even?

What is- nostalgia and childhood and happy?
What is the reason for this poem?
Who knows!
I don’t have all the answers yet…

-Sabah Batul
#whatis #reflection #thoughts #sabahonpaper#poetry #poems #writers