The Tall Girl With Her Weighed-down Head.

The Tall Girl With Her Weighed-down Head

This summer I traveled to India to meet my relatives one last time before heading off to university. On my last day in Bombay, I was having a stroll on Marine lines (which is inarguably one of the most romantic and beautiful spots in India), when I saw a young lady sitting rather dejectedly. The scene reminded me of a somewhat depressing phrase from Stephen Spender’s ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’, which I figured would make an appropriate title for this article.

Frankly, I don’t know why she was so melancholy and I didn’t try to ask her, but for some reason, my thoughts drifted to the current state of women in India. With the number of rape and sexual harassment cases rising in spite of huge protests against these horrible activities, India is slowly inching its way towards global shame.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not just another typical NRI – one who eats hamburgers for breakfast on the streets of New York and then flies to England to have a cup of steaming hot tea; all while criticising his own country. Actually, I’m more patriotic than I choose to show, and that aspect has gotten me worried about the current scenario; worried enough to ask my countrymen as to how such vile and disgusting men are allowed to roam freely in our country?

The other day I read an article written by Michaela Cross , an American student who travelled to India on a college trip and experienced sexual harassment.
As an Indian male, all I could do was hang my head in shame at the thought that a small portion of our community was tarnishing our society.

I’m aware that India isn’t the only country where such acts go on, and singling out a nation, especially when I am a citizen of that nation isn’t the way to go; but I believe that it’s high time we people take action. It’s time we make our voices heard.

But before we do that, we need to change our mentality. Our main fault lies in us branding the victim as the accused. It’s no surprise that rape is the least reported of all crimes, for in reality, it is the victim who must prove her good character, her mental soundness, and her flawless decorum!

 Rape is never the victim’s fault.

Also, a poem I wrote on the same topic a while ago:

She sits and stares,
Into the void – Her eyes tell a story;
Her memories are her only companions. 

The heir of a horrid past,
A successor to the throne of thorns,
Once the better half of a king,
Now branded sinful and impure. 

Her future sealed with blood,
Her emotions foggy; her existence insulted.
Her world unified against her,
Ready to feast over her corpse. 

Her transient soul scalding like red-hot coal,
Staring at the accusing eyes,
Craving for others to be exempted of her fate.

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The Child of War.

Bloodied from battle I rose,
From the altar of death – above my silenced legion.
Tears never seen came streaming out,
At the sight of a gashed head and a broken nose.

Once my brothers; now they lay around me,
And all I could do was stare –
At blown up houses, and uprooted trees;
At the pale faces and the rotting debris.

I looked at our flag – upright and tall,
We had won the battle, yet lost the war.
Countless women and children lying around,
A severed hand clutching a ragged doll.

It happened ages ago; that day,
And though the world celebrated my death with mournful silence;
Not medals,
But guilt decorated the grave where I lay.

A year back or so, I had penned down these lines in my diary:

‘She was a woman who lived in a cottage by the hill,
Accompanied by a dog that never barked,
And a phone that never rang.

She was a woman who was ready to die
To have a single fresh rose,
Mysteriously appear on her grave every day.’


I don’t remember what I was thinking of then, but I have a habit of noting down my thoughts and then going back to them later on, in the hope of striking on an epiphany and transforming those lines into a poem or a story. But even a year later, I couldn’t think of any way so as to add to these particular lines, and so I showed them to my father (who by the way, is a really good writer himself – you can check his blog here). What followed is a poem which we both wrote together. In around an hour, he supplied me with two new stanzas, and then I added my own inputs, after which we sat and edited the whole thing.

Here is the final poem :

She was a woman who lived in a cottage by the hill,
Accompanied by a dog that never barked
And a shattered hourglass.

She was a woman ready
To die, without any wishes, save
To have a single fresh rose
Appear everyday on her grave.

But it would never be,
Of that she was certain
For there is no bigger burden
Than to outlive your loved ones.

The light in her sight long extinguished
Was in fact a boon.
For now she could roam the gardens of her past,
And relive her honeymoon.

The house that once was full
Of chaos and joy
From dawn to dark,
Now stood empty, with
Silence gone stale and
A dog refusing to bark.

The moon waxed and waned,
The present dissolved into the past.
And everyday without fail, she lay a fresh rose
On her own tombstone, hoping this time be the last.

Transience

Countless poets came before me,
And duly departed; did they –
     Some walked away with sighs and shame,
     While others tasted nectar from the cup of fame.

They were the story of a moment in time, 
I too am the story of just a moment.

I’m a poet only for a second or two, 
I’m a poet only for a second or two!

Tomorrow, people might know me,
But why should people know me?
For me, why should the engrossed men waste their time?
I’m but a poet for a moment or two.