Blue

Maybe it was the way the meeting ended the evening before, or maybe it was the agonizing headache he bore since this morning. Regardless, he was fuming with a fire that could not be extinguished; a fire that kept flaring inside him the more he thought, burning everything in his way. It was a hot summer day, unusually sunny even for a coastline city.  His shoulders were sunburnt, but his forehead was distinctly red, probably owing to his raging ache. The sun’s warmth fuelled his flame.

It was not like him to be this moved by something. In life, he had learned to let things slide past. After all, his grandmother had told him, that in the strong currents of the river of life, what is significant and heavy remains put on the river-bed, while the unimportant and light are plunged forward by the force of being. But now, he found himself clinging on to the very bedrock,  trying to forcibly shift the current, so he could choose what stays and what does not. He was desperately attempting to be his own force of being. His grandmother, however, was not around to tell him that it was a bad idea, and so he blazed forward, his firestorm growing by the minute. He entered his office where the glass wall behind his table offered a picturesque view of the eastern beach. The ocean’s sight was breathtaking, and any person would have definitely stopped to soak in the view. Contrastingly, he immediately pulled the blinders and sat down on his chair in the dark. The sunlight was upsetting him; there was enough warmth in him from what was boiling inside.

“Anger is a bad virtue”, said Lina, his co-worker, walking inside the dark office, barely lit by what was left of the sunlight the blinders couldn’t obstruct. He refused to look her in the eye, and answered with his back turned, “Leave.” He was breathing fire.

“Let’s take a walk.” She signaled outside. He obviously did not follow. “I have something to show you. It’s about the deal.” He followed.

They walked next to the shoreline, under the shady palm tree leaves where the sun’s scorching light couldn’t sting them.  For the first time in weeks they experienced a silence. A silence, in which you could hear his blood boiling in his nerves, but his mouth refused to turn that sound into words. What was left to say?

“I’m sorry we didn’t get the deal. I know it was important to you, but to be honest, we had told you it was practically impossible and we tried our best, but we knew it was an astronomical, one in a million shot. You’ve spent the past weeks working night and day ever since you heard about it… Have you even thought about her yet, without bringing up the permit?”, her voice slowly faded.  He looked at the sky. “Is that what you wanted to show me?” he fired.  She responded immediately, “No, I wanted to show you the view,” and she pointed straight ahead, to the ocean.  He observed the view and exhaled. He looked carefully near the horizon and observed a tint of blue in the otherwise sunny, golden sky. The light blue merged with the darker sea-line and the different shades of the color gently contrasted against each other. Silence fell again, but this time, the sound of the ocean’s waves, crashing against the Earth and then rising again, filled their ears.

“It’s not what she would have wanted. I got so caught up with trying to secure the place where she was born that I didn’t realize that she was truly gone. Somewhere in my mind, I really thought securing that house would make everything alright somehow,” he said, his voice slowly cracking at the end and a thin film of tears forming over his brown eyes.

“She was your grandmother. How long will you keep punishing yourself?”, she asked gently. His head suddenly turned to her, and away from the ocean. It was a question that seared his every waking thought, his dreams, and everything in between.

He turned his face back towards the ocean. The sunlight was slowly fading.  A cool breeze brushed against his face, his forehead cooled, and his pain subsided. As another wave crashed into the beach sand, a voice whispered inside him “I cannot control the tide.” The sun dove into the ocean, and the noontide orange soon turned into a cool dark blue. His fury dissolved. The decision was already made – the state had refused to hand over the land where his grandmother was born- and there was nothing left to do. “You can honor her memory by listening to her,” Lina said.

“My grandmother is right. I cannot be the force of being,” he said and took one last glimpse of the ocean.

Walking back under the stars, with each step sinking in the chilled sand, they left.

 

You’re a girl, so you should shut up.

A few days ago, on the usual bus ride back from school, all eyes turned to the back of the bus. A senior had just slapped a junior for turning behind. I was sitting just a seat forward. I was vocal about my clear distaste for this act and when the argument got heated, a teacher was called behind to solve the problem.

My school has zero tolerance. Normally, If I’d have slapped anybody, I’d have a call to my mom, a red card issued and probably all free classes cancelled. But this guy got off scot free, increasing the already burning fire inside me.

The next day, situations led the same way causing me to yet again stand up and voice my views. This time, he came up to me and said, “You’re a girl, so shut up and stop talking so much. I’ll finish you.” which was like an alarm gone off.

I’ve been brought up in a family of strong, independent women and so I did give him a very strong piece of my mind before he went to the teacher in the bus yet again. He could have no answer to my arguments except an abusive word, which just prove my point.

The teacher came up and said I was at blame here. She said, I shouldn’t have argued in the first place. And all this time, nobody in the bus pointed out that it was wrong. I told her that she was defending a student who not only said sexist remarks but also used violence in school boundaries. She could say nothing but tell us not to speak to each other.

The next day onward, I paid a little more attention to what I was hearing at school. A teacher said, “Earlier only the boys were naughty, now it has been generalised” comments like “Behave like girls” began to sting me more and more. Even in the school clinic, the teacher said, “Earlier only girls used to come, now boys are coming.” I’m sorry, I did not know physical pain was restricted to a gender.

I was really unwell so I stayed at the clinic for an hour when I overheard the conversation between a young girl who wanted to go home because she was menstruating and in pain. She, (the doctor) said, “All of us women have to go through it, you can’t put a break in your life because of it right? Everybody does. Its not a big deal”

In my family, everything has been taught equally and to each child. I realised I was facing an unreasonable amount of sexism in my school, on a daily basis. Me and my male best friend, while hanging out once, were playing a game of whose punch was the hardest. When I won, I heard a boy Going by whisper to his friend “Ha! He got hit by a girl.”

My school is the best in my city and if this is the case thoughtour the world, we’ve hardly changed our thinking.

I really don’t mind fighting each ine of these people to kill off their thinking, but not a single other soul thought this was wrong. We keep screaming feminsim, the teacher who couldn’t do anything for me in the bus talks about women empowerment while the bitter truth is that even in 2017 we cannot accept women as equals. And it is not just boys like the jerk on the bus, but also women like those teachers who reinforce this orthodox thinking. Also if you are staying silent on the subject, you are equally responsible.

Rather than girls and boys, when can we be addressed as students? Our gender identities never matter more than our personal identities. Let us stop fixing behavioral qualities on a biological factor. Teens already have lots going on for them, dont make life tougher by making each day a battle.

The need to write.

Have you asked the sun the need to shine so bright? Or the stars the need to twinkle like specks of gold, adorning the dark sky like jewels? Have you asked a drowning man the need to breathe? Equivalent, are all these to asking me the need to write.

A tiger roars. A roar is its expression. It’s nature. Cats meow, dogs bark, frogs croak and the nightingale sings into the darkness of the night. Similarly, I write. Writing for me roaring like that tiger, it is my expression, my nature. Many may say, that writing cannot be compared to life processes essential for survival. Writing cures the ailment of my inner soul, which is equally important for my living.

My pen is holy, as it is the medium through which my inside body, connects with the outside world. My hands transport what is happening in my soul with ink; my blood, laid down on paper in the form of letters. Writing is cathartic. It is the act of opening a pandora box, for my emotions burst open and bow down on paper. My soul feels lighter at the end of each sentence, removing, from on top of me, the burden of unsaid words.

You know the feeling you get after running for a long time? A fatigued, depleted feeling? This worn-out emotion coupled with joy is what I feel after writing. My energy, both mental and physical is absorbed to its fullest as my hands try their best at matching up to the speed of my mind’s thoughts, rapidly trying to grab all of them and put them down on paper.

Writing for me is freedom. It sets my spirit free. It is me facing my demons and angels, witnessing the confrontation and winning. Writing gives me clarity, it shows me what I feel, who I am, It is a mirror which never lies, a reflection of the soul.

The need to write is my need to live. It is the signal for my soul to go on. These words are all that I really have.

Writing for me is living and breathing. The gift of expression is one without which I cannot quite imagine living life. For me, I come alive only when I write.

No matter who stays or strays, your words can never betray.