Making India Clean

Making India Clean

Well, I don’t have a “Before” and “After” pic to validate my claims, but this is a true story.

I was part of a workshop this weekend at Manpho Convention Center, next to Manyata Tech Park. There were plenty of educated, rich businessmen who had come, dressed up in a prim and proper suit. Just outside this center, is a tea stall. During the morning break, hoards of *educated* people flocked the tea-stall, drank tea and smoked cigarettes…Now, just next to the tea-stall is a dustbin…which ideally is where the used paper tea cups should have been found. Alas, this is *India* (so, they say) and hence, most of them just threw their cups down on the roadside, mimicking what every other person was doing. At one point when I reached that tea-stall, there were hundreds of tea cups on the roadside, making it seem like a sea of white on the jet black road. Well, typically, I would have gone “Look at those foolish people, can’t they throw it in the bin, can’t they take care of India…blah blah blah”. But, for the first time in my life…I felt intense sadness, and not hatred for the people who littered the place. It was then that I began to truly change.

I went up to the tea-stall, picked up the dustbin, placed it right in the middle, and start picking up each and every tea cup from the road. One by one, people started turning and looking at what I was doing…I went on picking the cups…one after another…and throwing it in the bin. Nobody helped me out….but, most importantly….nobody stopped me. I finished putting all the tea cups into the bin…and just walked away…not speaking a single word. In the evening, when I went back to the same tea-stall, I kid you not…not even one used tea cup was on the roadside, everything was inside the bin. This is true, and I’m not mincing words here.

From this, I understood three major things in life:

1. If you find a place filthy, PLEASE clean it, instead of waiting for someone else to do it or cribbing about how filthy India is. Chances are, you might have been the cause for filth somewhere in India.

2. If you are doing something good, people might not necessarily help you out, but…surely…they will NOT stop you from doing it.

3. If a person finds a place clean, they will NOT make it filthy. It is only if someone finds the place already filthy…that they will litter it more. Next time you go to United States or Netherlands or UK and come back boasting and cribbing about how clean those countries are and how filthy India is…Stop. We know it. You don’t need to tell us what we already know. But, you can tell us one thing. What can YOU do about it?

Running away from home . . .

Running away from HomeI ran away from home. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? Ok, here’s the truth…I hated being an engineer or a doctor. When I was born in an upscale maternity clinic in Chennai, legend has it that I was immediately anointed to be the next big engineer in my family before they even decided a name for me. So, in the end, I ended up being called Krishna Kumar BTech, right from my childhood days. I proudly went around shouting my name hoarse during kindergarten and primary school, drawing sniggers and cheers. I felt proud. When I grew up and finally realised that BTech wasn’t really a family name, but a degree, I hid under my bed for a day refusing to come out even when my friends called me out to play cricket and eat pani puri.

The day I passed my 12th with flying colors, my parents embraced me in a group hug, gave me a few kisses on my cheek, stared me in the face and asked me for my choice between four options: (a) engineering (b) see my parents hang their head in shame (c) herd cows in the field (d) lick Rahul’s (Superstar engineering cousin of my family, duh!) ass.

So, in the end, I scraped through the four years of college life (read: torture) with repeated attempts before I could finally get an A4 sheet of paper that proudly announced to the world that I was an engineering graduate, and also that I was unemployed even though major IT companies like TCS, CTS, BTC, BMTC, and ABCD hired people like herds of cattle. So, when the questions from my aunts and uncles grew shriller, my parents decided to get me a job (using ‘influence’) in an unknown IT firm, that looked more like a spare-parts shop. That was the final straw.

So, yesterday night after a storm hit my house, utensils and slippers were hurled around with equal fervour, I packed my bags, took my beloved Nikon D3100, grabbed all my pocket money and climbed onto a late night bus to Bangalore.  So, officially, I ran away from home. Or, more precisely, bused away from home.

Early morning 5.30am

I was sleeping peacefully on the upper berth of SRM travels, when suddenly, I heard all sorts of words being thrown around and people screaming their heads off. I woke up with a start, rubbed my eyes and opened them to realise that people were conversing in a greek and latin tongue. The cleaner in the bus smiled at me and said “Nīvu alli hōguva?”, to which I just gaped in silence. “Aap kaha jayenge?” he asked, which met with another bout of rigourous head-shaking from my end. “Oh, tamil ah…enga poganum?” he asked. Ah, it was like taking a breath of fresh air after years of being held captive. “Therila anna. . . next stop.” I said.

It was then that I landed in the place of my dreams…Koramangala.

When I got down from the bus, I was shivering from head to toe. The cold bit into my bones and I wasn’t prepared for such a changeover. There I was, dressed in a trouser and sleeveless tops, in a place that felt like the Antartic. I looked around to see jumbled torn-up jelebi words and affirmed to myself that I was still in some part of India, the country at the center of the equator, just 2 kms from the sun.

I found a small hotel nearby and booked a room for a day. Thousand five-hundred rupees! Daylight robbery. The pocket money that I had preserved all through these years did not seem to be enough anymore. I threw my bag aside on the bed in my cramped room, took my mobile phone out and called home.

“Hello…” my mom spoke into the receiver agitatedly. She had picked up the landline at the first ring.

“Its me…” I said, the words choking in my throat.

“Kk…”, she said, “Where are you chellam?”

“Amma, I’m in bangalore.”

“Oh, kutty, why did you go so far away? You come back now please.”

An Indian mother’s customary rule book states that once a kutty, always a kutty. Even though I’m 21 years old.

“No ma…I want to be here. I want to earn a living for myself, doing something that I love…”

“Do it here kuttyma, come back to Chennai. Don’t take all the fights to heart Krishna, I miss you.”

A tiny tear trickled down my face. I swiftly fingered it away.

“I miss you too ma. I miss appa too. But, let this be a new start to my life. One day, I will make you proud. Till then, goodbye ma.”

“Atleast answer my calls kk, you will not know what a mother’s heart is going through right now.”

“Sure ma…”, the emotional blackmail again. Sheesh.

“Saptiya da?”

No matter what the situation is, a mother’s standard question. Did you eat?

“Ya ma, I ate.” I lied.

“What are you going to do there Krishna?” she enquired.

I looked around my room, I found my bags on my bed, my slippers under my bed, and my camera beside my bed. My camera.

“I’m going to be a photographer ma. A wedding photographer.”

(Excerpt from a story I have been writing for quite a while…)

Transgenders – Their World and Beyond

Transgenders

Transgenders – Their World and Beyond

Introduction

There has been plenty said about transgenders…many of them are absurd and baseless. Things are looking up for them, we say, and we pride ourselves in being noble enough to accept a malaise into our society by providing them some housing complexes in remote parts of the city, far away from normal social life. All said and done, we still cringe when we look at a transgender walking down the road, eating at a local dingy restaurant, or at traffic signals. It’s something that is just beyond the disgust that is evident as we look at an alternate third gender (yes, beyond the orthodox binary gender discrimination that society has etched so firmly into our minds), at a mental level, we cannot still come to terms with people who look like an ‘absurd cross’ between a male and a female.

Our hatred for them is ingrained into our minds right from childhood. We are told stories of asuras, devils and transgenders. As all stories begin, we recount multiple instances of transgenders haggling us to give them money at the traffic signals, approaching us with a clap of hands and an eccentric flaunting of their womanhood. As we roll up the windows of our air conditioned car at the sight of them, or whistle and catcall when they walk down the road, or molest them when they are in secluded streets, we really do not understand how much of ridicule they actually endure day in and day out.

The Reasons

The people who speak against such transgenders cannot even comprehend how ‘such creatures’ can be born this way. Well, first things first, no transgender is born that way. They take a choice to be a woman. They are born as normally as you or me, the so-called male dominion. The identity crisis begins to set in around the time of puberty, when they are revolting within, as a man, they wish and feel womanly sensations and they start developing womanly attributes, and start falling in love with the concept of being a woman, decked up with jewels, hair braided with jasmine, the gaiety walk, and the pleasures derived out of being a woman through and through. They face ridicule right from childhood, when they are mocked by people for “the girly walk”, “the girly laugh” and everything that are associated with a girl. So, they brand the poor kid to be a “that boy who is a girl” and start calling them names.

It is at that instant, when the womanly tendencies take over a ‘man’ completely, that they choose to embrace their feminine side and turn into women by operating upon themselves. While they know that this would the start of a life of pain, they are ready…as they want to be a woman, mentally, emotionally and physically…and get rid of the ‘man’ virus within their bodies once and for all. And yet, we have women today who say…’I wish I was born a man, I hate being a woman’…well, take a look at these transgenders and be proud of your gender…of who you are…of how pure you all are…that men are embracing womanhood more freely than ever.

The Solution

The government recently announced that the third gender should be included in gender categorization, but, it still is not the long term solution. Companies, private and public, should be able to provide a minimal quota for transgenders. There are plenty of transgenders who are well-read and highly qualified, but without a job just for the fact that they are what they are. The concept of embracing transgenders into our daily life should begin at schools and colleges. Therefore, every school or college must have atleast one transgender in their staff roll. Transgenders always have self-respect and pride at their forefront, so, they pledge to never be corrupt.

The government provides them accommodation in a remote corner of a city, to live as a colony. Well, that only defeats the purpose. They are left to fend for themselves, banished from normal life. All the more reason for people to avoid them. They must be provided with housing facilities amidst everyone else, and treated just like everyone else.

This is a long drawn-out battle for the third gender, and my only hope is that the world will change to accept transgenders into our society better, not just as beggars or sex-workers, but, just like a normal working class of people like you and me.

Let us spread love, joy and peace to the world. All glory to God.  

My little fort . . .

The moment I was born,

He caressed me in his arms,

Crying, kissing my tiny forehead,

Proclaiming to the world –

“Oh, my beautiful angel!”

He was my hero – and I didn’t look beyond.

My life was him, and his life was me.

 

He held my tiny fingers and led me to kindergarten,

He brushed my hair and sang me lullabies,

He made me toast and gave me baths,

He took me to church and brought me whatever I asked.

He was my hero – and I didn’t look beyond.

My life was him, and his life was me.

 

As the years fell away like the late winter dawn,

His caresses grew more loving, more caring.

It wasn’t kisses to my forehead anymore, but kisses to the cheek.

His embrace longer, like two bodies destined to meet.

The pinches to my hips, the cupping of my lips,

He still loved dressing me up,

But more so – he loved dressing me down.

He was my hero – and I didn’t look beyond.

My life was him, and his life was me.

 

His kisses to the cheeks spilt over to the lips now,

His caresses almost entirely to my bosom and nowhere beyond,

He hugged me from behind, and bit my neck, in jest, he said,

He made his fingers into little soldiers, and ran it through my thighs,

The fort is being attacked, take cover, he cries.

He tears the veils and pledges his soldiers to battle,

Take cover in that tiny hole, hide like a herd of cattle.

And, so the little soldiers took cover in the fort,

In my fort.

“You have the most beautiful fort in the world” he said.

That made me giggle.

He was my hero – and I didn’t look beyond.

My life was him, and his life was me.

 

He died when I was 10,

I was unconsolable;

I went for nights crying my heart to cinder,

I tried joining him – but, never to flames could I surrender.

So, I lived on – for him.

Twenty now, and I know just how,

My little fort wasn’t breached anymore,

In my voiceless silence, I cried,

My soul torn to shreds, my body left in tatters,

By the man I loved the most.

Once upon a time.

You don’t need to try . . . too hard.

You don't have to try . . . too hard

You don’t have to try . . . too hard

I’ve been a firm non-believer of make-up. Well, girls might be of the opinion that it tends to make you look good, if that’s the case . . . well, great! But, there’s another section (of men and women) who put on makeup only so that the society accepts them. So, here’s my question . . . why should we try too hard to look good…for others? Is all the makeup that you put on, the lipgloss, the rouge, the kajal, the mascara, the eyeliner, the fake eyelashes…for the society? To all the women who wear makeup, try too hard to impress and fall in line with the “standards” of the society, just know that . . . you are gorgeous even without it.

Women of today are amazingly beautiful as they are. Financially stable, articulate, well-read, passionate, intense and fantastic. Gone are the days of trying to make ends meet, gone are the days when you had to look after the kitchen at home and nothing else, gone are the days that you need to accept the bullshit that your boyfriend/husband gives you because its the social protocol. Today, women are achievers, astronauts, nobel prize winners, pulitzer awardees, CEOs and what not!

And, so there’s no need for you to dress up, doll up, and turn on your “sexy” because people can look at you, boys can cast glances at you and drool over your mini-skirt or your clear, acne-hidden skin. Beyond the artificial enhancements, the pain you go through to match every shoe to your dress, match every accessory to your shoes, match every lipstick to your accessory, be presentable. Just don’t try too hard. The society is just plain stupid. It will never stop criticizing.

I firmly believe, as do so many men and mothers out there. Girls are beautiful, just out of bed, no makeup, their hair crazily strewn, skin wrinkled, acnes, and rashes included.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear makeup. Simply be you. If you do wear make-up, wear it because you want to not because you feel like you have to.

You are beautiful as you are. Period.

Love me forever . . .

Grief

 

I saw her first in the holy month of Ramadan,

Veils covered her in whole;

But, I fell for her eyes – the twinkle, the innocence

Left me in a trance – I lost myself;

With every twirl of her eyebrows,

My heart skipped a beat – I was in love.

“Excuse me” she said,

A magical, silken voice . . . I gaped back at her;

I knew then…she was my future.

I wanted no one else.

And as the temple bell chimed, and the azaan read out,

I joined my palms, and she spread them apart – in prayer to the Gods.

She was the one. The only one.

We meandered  through life together,

Holding hands and whispering promises

In each other’s ears – we will stay forever together.

Main tumse pyaar karti hun – she said,

Ana he bik – I said,

Languages weren’t a barrier;

Religions weren’t a barrier;

We were in love. And nothing else mattered.

 

 

Beyond our interwined souls, trouble brewed,

But we knew nothing of it –

We made love to each other;

Our souls, our bodies – lost within one other.

Outrage reared its ugly head a while later,

The religious fanatics, weilded swords and sickles

And threatened us with death;

A hindu and a muslim together?

Yaaa Allah, hey bhagwan, never ever.

But, we knew – we were either both or nobody;

So, we ran, we ran and we ran.

We took shelter in dilapidated huts; we crossed states –

Everyday was a nightmare – everyday left like our last;

She conceived on the run – And, that kept us together;

Laughter and smiles forgotten – fears and dread and tears;

We wilted, we cracked, we shattered, but –

It was not two now – It was to be three;

And so we prayed our prayers to Allah and Shiva

And they heard our cry –

The fanatics caught up with us.

They were merciless.

They laughed…mirthless – They stared down upon us – remorseless

I cry and I plead and I beg,

Mrtyuh Muksee yam amritaah –

Save me from death, O Shiva!

Allah humma ha tad’arnee –

Save my child, O Allah.

I shielded her from them;

But, they struck me down – They kicked my balls and broke my nose;

and with one lightning moment – they sliced the sickle through her neck;

Allahu Akbar . . . they screamed

Om nama shivaya . . . they screamed

And then they left – sickle-less – The mirthless laughter still hanging in the air

Like the smell of dead souls;

“Behead us all” I screamed after them;

“Behead your gods too”.

There she lies – beheaded; like a goat after slaughter.

Her veins spliced – Blood smeared across the abode of the Gods;

Bismillah hir Rahman nir rahim

I cried, my tears split across the barren stretch of soul;

My heart withered – as I held her head in my hands,

Just her head – beautiful as ever.

Her body was lying inches away –

Gargling blood and intestines.

I held her beheaded body in my hands

And I cried and I cried and I cried;

I ran my fingers through her stomach;

The wails of my unborn baby can never be heard;

I felt a touch on my fingers – I made to move my hand away

And there – on her stomach – the imprint of a baby’s hand;

My baby’s hands.

Let you not be born into this world of demons, my little one;

One day, the world will be a better place for you;

And I promise – I will have you then. With her again.

And as a hindu or a muslim but never both;

I brandished the sickle they left behind –

And I cut my throat apart –

I’m coming to you my beloved;

Fill this void that tears my heart apart –

Tere Bin Khaali Aaja, Khali Pan Mein

Tere Bin Khaali Aaja, Khali Pan Mein

Blood Stains

Blood Stains

How will you hold your wife’s arms,

Wipe sweat from your face after a hard day’s work,

Cajol your infant to a dreamless sleep,

Or, hug your friend after years of untogetherness,

How will you eat your food in peace –

Aren’t your hands stained with blood?

 

How will you feed your five-year old –

Place flowers on your wife’s hair?

How will you embrace your father with love,

Or, touch the feet of your mother,

How will you raise your arms in prayer to the Lord –

Aren’t your hands stained with blood?

Death is the only way . . .

Eye of God

Who are you, God?

How do I reach you, if not by death?

I closed my eyes in prayer,

And God answered,

Death is the only way.

Death of ego, of possessiveness, of hatred,

Death of doubts, of vanity, of scheming,

Death of chaos, death of your identity, and everything else.

.

.

.
Death is the only way.

In Love with You . . . Always and Forever ♥

Love

Waiting an Eternity

Quiet my heart, cry your tears in seclusion.

Rejoice; for today the love of your life will be married.

“Be the best man at my wedding, Vishnu” you said, nonchalantly;

And that was the knife to my heart; I died.

 

Do you remember at all, my angel?

The years of love we shared together,

The dreams of togetherness beyond seven lifetimes,

The castles of unconditional love, the stories of eternity

Etched on the walls of our beating souls?

 

I still ache for you, my love.

I yearn for a glimpse of you – surreal;

Across the floor, I notice

My angel with her hubby, happy and content;

Dressed in a resplendent saree;

Your hair braided till your waist,

Your voice, divine and enchanting;

Your face, the little mole on your lips,

Your deep blue eyes, your heavenly smell;

You laugh, and you smile,

And he kisses you gently on your cheeks,

I feel my tears burn my soul to cinder;

And, I move, in haste, to wipe them away,

Lest you see them;

 

My soul is missing you much, my love.

I wish for a single whiff of your heavenly breath on me;

A single strand of your long, luscious hair to brush past my face once more;

The music that lulls my heart to tears;

The imprints of your kiss, the echo of your whispers of love;

Will survive within me – long after I pass.

Erase me from your heart, my love.

Never were you mine;

 

Come to me, oh beautiful death,

Embrace me in your heavenly arms;

Let my soul be stripped of life,

And my heart be filled with eternal love.