Poetry, Women Empowerment

Daughter of a drunkard monk- A novel by Saumya Vivek Kaushik

Roaring Tiger

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Book Review: “Daughter of a Drunkard Monk”

Author: Saumya Kaushik
Publisher:
 Omji Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. (1 February 2015)

ISBN-10: 9384028134

ISBN-13: 978-9384028138

Genre: Fiction


Rating: 4/5

Review:

The Indian literary scene is bursting at the seams with new authors, new plots (almost, and sometimes contrived), new ambitions and new hopes (for some of us at least). And amidst all of this, as a reader, I am often perplexed and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to read some times. It is not about choice. It is about the quality of writing. It is about the writing that is intellectually laced and about the kind of writing that aims to reach out to everyone. In all of this, there is the kind of book that is mid-way – somewhere there but not appeasing to the masses (or not aiming to at least) and yet it does. “Daughter of a Drunkard…

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Women Empowerment

An Open Letter to Nirbhaya…

Dear Nirbhaya,

It has been four years since you left us with a void, an inner question, and scream. A question that we ask amongst ourselves about that dreaded night of December 16th. A scream of angst against the baseless societal norms that still haven’t changed till date.

It has been four years and still hundreds like you plead to be saved and have their cases pending or are either dead. You were a voice, a voice to this blind and dumb nation that overlooked what it meant to be a girl.

You were an inspiration, a ray of hope, a fire inside every heart… You were a revolution. You taught us that we cannot take this victimization anymore.

It has been four years and we haven’t recovered of everything that happened past your demise. We haven’t forgotten you, brave heart. We haven’t forgotten your sacrifice and the question that you left with us.

Your untimely death was not a message but a fire that still ignites when we hear…

RAPE

It was a case which could have happened to any normal Delhi girl.

nirbhaya

It has been four years and you did teach us that this was not about you, it was a message that you left us “That I want to be there, amongst all of you. Live alike all of you.” It was you who set the bar and it was you who fought back when that accident happened. For us, a rape of a five-year-old, a sixty-year-old, and a passenger in an Uber are all harsh reminders of brutality that you faced.

It has been four years and you have done so much for us. Many of us may not realize this, but you my beloved was a voice for all of us.

Stalking, voyeurism, harassing came recognized as crimes against all of us. It is not an idea of fun of picking up a woman and rape her. It is not what a MAN does to prove his gender.

It has been four years but you educated all of us without books – no matter how horrendous the abuse be; we cannot afford to stay quiet. No matter if they call an abuse a stigma on us, we have to speak up.

We are not objects, we have a choice, and we have the freedom to choose.

It has been four years and still the calls to “100” ring every second.

It is the same Delhi, same people but you have opened our eyes to not hush up the matter and not flee away when a PCR passes by. Living in a metropolitan city and being afraid of men is just not weakening us, but weakening the whole foundation of the women society.

It has been four years and you have changed what it meant to be abused. You have raised a question on police, our government, our system and us.

It has been four years and a father, an ex-lover, a husband, a boyfriend, a neighbor, a stalker, a stranger, a landlord, an employer, a gym instructor in the form of criminals are spared.

Entrenched patriarchy and male chauvinism of a very high order are still the biggest sources of this heinous crime.

But, beloved Jyoti Singh Pandey it has been four years but this society now understands that “RAPE IS RAPE”.

It has been four years and we will be forever indebted to you.

From,

One of us and one like you…

Short Stories, Women Empowerment

Don’t Call (HER) a Slut !

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“A girl’s life was defined by lines: fine lines, hair-lines, bikini lines, class-lines, the tightrope line between being a good girl and a slut. But there was always a moment when the lines blurred and a good girl had to decide whether to toe the line, cross the line, or stay safe behind the line that guarded her virtue.”

A girl often called the most beautiful creation of God is an old adage but with the passage of time has completely lost its significance.
Why? Why has it happened? Why isn’t a girl treated like a princess anymore but a maid! A hanger, a chewing-gum! Why? Such questions arise!

The answer to them I found and today after hearing from so many people I have gathered up the courage to just vomit out my anger, my views, and my thoughts on the most beautiful creation of the Almighty!
A girl!

Congratulations. “The new angel shall spread smiles and warmth in your family. Enjoy your God’s gift. My best wishes are always with you”. Unfortunately, these aren’t the greetings which a mother gets when she gives birth to a baby girl in a country like India. Why is the mother tortured? Why the hell she has to hear from everybody? “Beta hota toh aj yeh hota aj wo hota”

Why a girl is neglected every time? Why she has to become the prisoner of the deadly restrictions?  Why she has to leave her parents’ house after her marriage? Why she has to adopt her husband’s surname? Why our blessings say “May you be the Mother of 100 sons”.

Why is she tortured? Why is she harassed? And last but not the least why she is R-A-P-E-D?
Ever since December 16thincident happened, things haven’t been the same. Residents of other cities have started to think of Delhi as a haunted city worst A RAPE CITY!  Girls who always wanted to get into DU are now scared enough to compromise with their education and to decide not coming to Delhi from their hometowns instead flying overseas to pursue their education.

Why is it so? Our coming generations are sacrificing just because of some obscene acts of some motherfuckers. We are not allowed to move outside the house after 7. We have to carry a packet of red chilli powder just for the sake of safety! And By the way Safety from whom? Safety from boys? Or safety from the evil minded devils those are just hungry for lust and end up in mole stating innocent girls. Well, the latter part is sadly and unfortunately true! Girls do not feel safe because of the devils and not from the boys. There are just a bunch of evil minded people who should be punished so brutally that they never forget in their next seven births. But we live in India where the only step govt. took while the country grieves; the govt imposes sec 144 & shuts metro stations. Incorrigible!!!We are a country that kills little girls before they are born.

“ Ek Mahila ka rape hua”
“ Chalti Bus mei student k sath rape”
“Boss ne kia apni assistant ka rape”
“ 40 saal ki mahila ka rape”
and sadly but the truth
“ 5 saal ki buchchi ka rape” ?

5 years? She is just 5! We don’t even know what we were when we were five. And that small angel was continuously screaming at the top of her voice in a room full of rapists. What was her fault? She wore revealing clothes? She trapped a rapist in her lusty charms? No!! As I already said this is just a state of mind. If a girl is fat she isn’t called sexy, why? Because flab is never in!  And the skinny one is the one who everybody dreams for. This is the state of mind. If she wears Salwar Kameez she becomes an aunt and when she wears shorts she looks Hot! This is the state of mind. If her cleavage is visible she is a slut and if she hides behind several drapes, she doesn’t have a figure for jeans. This is the state of mind.
Why she has to look hot? Why she has to show her cleavage? Why she has to travel in the ladies compartment? So that boys notice? No, my dear, you are sadly mistaken! She can do anything because she has the right to because she is confident enough she won’t get raped. But ironically living in a metropolitan city and being afraid of men is just not weakening herself, but weakening the whole foundation of the women society.

If she dates more than 3 guys she is labelled as a slut and if he is surrounded by a bunch of girls He is the “CASANOVA”.

Who are too we blame?
Police? No!
Do you know what is happening on the fifth floor in the last house on your street? Then how come a policeman knows what is happening to a five-year-old in a room of Gandhi Nagar. We call them corrupt. Aren’t we corrupt? Don’t we occupy a seat in a college by means of fake certificates? Don’t we watch pirated videos after their release? We all have been under the influence of corruption once in our lives. So we can’t put the entire blame on the cops neither on boys. This is just a state of mind. If this post occupies even a 0.5 % of your brain then my mission will be accomplished.
We have to reply strongly. Change begins within us. Change begins with our steps. When we will change No Jiah Khan will commit suicide, in fact, no heroine will commit suicide. No boyfriend will use and throw a girl. No Damini will be raped and girls will walk freely on the roads, the other compartments will be full of girls. We will not have to buy a shrug for a tube top. We could live our dreams. We won’t be marrying young. Take the first step!
Respect a girl as you respect Maa Durga!

And don’t ever call a girl a slut!

(Komal hain kamzor nahi hai)
       (shakti ka naam he naari hai)
       (Jag ko jeevan Dene wali)
      (Maut bhi tujhse haari hain!

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Short Stories, Women Empowerment

The Lonely Widow- Published in Minds at Work 3

We are glad to have on our set the bestselling writer of ‘Life after him’ – Mrs Anjali Arora, whose novel has sold over a million copies nationally and abroad, is present among us to give a few tips to the amateur writers of the nation. Her book is soon to become a big box-office hit.

The interviewer announced my presence at the interview with sheer excitement.

So, Mrs Anjali How did the idea of penning down a book pop up in your head at the age of 52? The interviewer initiated the interview with her first question.

Well, Writing has always interested me and if I don’t write to empty my head I’ll go insane. Writing a book was never been my cup of tea because I always imagined myself as a homemaker residing in a countryside with my husband.

But your articulation of speech has made your readers (especially women) run head over heels after you and they’re expecting another masterpiece from you soon.

I laughed. Well, Yes! I write for women empowerment and if we take a glance at the current system of the country; my book is definitely a ray of hope for a few.

What is the story of your success? Your readers desperately want some fodder from your life and would like to know how you inspire them so much?

Ok. I haven’t spoken about it till now. There is a sad story behind my success. There have been a few incidents in my life which have shaped me into the person I am, today.

Please tell us the story Mrs Anjali, this time verbally, on air. She said pleasing me.
It happened two years ago.

************************

“We need to perform a few more tests on the patient; there are no signs of recovery” said Dr. Mathur.

I nodded my head before him, giving a helpless consent to save my husband. I rushed downstairs towards the reception of the super specialty hospital where my husband was being diagnosed for Liver-failure. Fifteen long days in the medical I.C.U and no hope of recovery. He was not even in his senses from the past week.The ventilator on his body was constantly giving him life-support and never once in a week did he gain consciousness and blinked an eye before any doctor. His condition was critical; none of the doctors expressed the belief for his betterment. I was left with no option but to agree to the doctor’s decision of keeping him on the ventilator and the treatment by the lifesaving drugs. I stood fourth in the queue of the billing section. Within a few minutes, other attendants left the space and an old lady sat before me wearing spectacles; her eyes glued on the computer screen.
“Yes Please”. “Patient’s Name”? She asked in a low tone.

“Deepak Arora”, I replied. “I need to submit the money for the X-Ray, Hemoglobin test, Liver Function Test and RBC count test. I stammered before her the names of the tests trying to understand Dr. Mathur’s handwriting.

“Give me the prescription”. She said.

“Here, here it is.” My mind battled with the thoughts of my husband on the ventilator; how he must be feeling? Does he know that he is getting support from a machine to breathe? Has he been sleeping from the past seven days?
My disbeliefs were disturbed by her instructions…“Six-fifty rupees mam” She gave away the prescription with her signature to me. I completed the formalities and rushed back to the medical I.C.U. on the ninth floor. The security guard stood before the gates of the I.C.U. and I was just a door away from my husband. But, I didn’t want to see him in a precarious condition; I had never imagined him, fighting between life and death on a hospital bed. Never ever in my worst nightmares!

“Bhaiya, here is the receipt of the tests, please hand over it to Dr. Mathur, for patient ‘Deepak Arora’, bed no-3”. I said panting my breath.

“O.K. Madam” He replied and went inside the I.C.U., I saw my husband’s bed from the closing of the door and the machines which occupied him. He returned after a few minutes with tensed expression on his face.

“What happened Bhaiya”? “You didn’t give the receipt? It is still in your hands”. I asked him embarrassed.

“Madam, Dr. Mathur has called for you, there is something serious”. He said looking at my face in a weird manner.

“What happened?” I repeated my question.

“Please go inside Madam” He replied opening the door.

As soon as I stepped inside, my heart beat thumped; I felt as if I would faint the next moment. Each step near my husband’s bed made my mind thought of the worst, while my heart prayed for the best.

“Has Deepak left this world”? Shut up Anjali. He might have re-gained consciousness. Think Positive. Stay calm. He’s alright. He’s alright. Everything is alright. God is listening to you. He’s alright.

Dr. Mathur’s gaze made me uncomfortable; I would hear any bad news the next minute. I tried to divert my mind from his gaze and my eyes shifted on to the ventilator. It wasn’t running anymore! The lights were shut down and there were no beep sounds coming from it.

My hands went cold of the most horrible premonition.

“Wha-what Happened Doctor”? I asked. My eyes welled up with water, I was half aware of what he would speak next.

“We are really sorry Mrs. Arora. Your husband is no more, we couldn’t save him”.

My eyes became red in a minute, and I turned my neck towards my husband’s body. He didn’t breathe. It was a dead body. Has he left? For real? He’ll never come back? Never? For always? My Deepak. My baby.

The auspicious day of our marriage, flashed before my eyes on hearing the news of the demise of my love. How beautifully I dressed up as the bride and we were united by the Hindu rituals.

“Mrs. Arora? Mrs. Arora? Are you alright?”

I didn’t know what happened post that tragic news, everything appeared black and dim to me. Dr. Mathur’s face faded before my eyes and the least I remembered was; I fainted in the I.C.U.

****************************
I tried to open my eyes but the brightness killed me. My head ached as if somebody had blown a thousand hammers in it. I hadn’t slept for seven long days. My eyes didn’t open while my ears processed wails of some women in my house. I immediately expanded my eye lashes and the crowd at my place looked at me with mixed response. The lady in the green suit pushed me up and made me sit on the bed. I started remembering everything,
‘I am sorry Mrs. Arora; your husband is no more’.

The words replayed in my mind again and again. I became the center of attention in everyone’s eyes; women in my house came up to me and hugged me crying heavily, making depressing noises in my ears. I didn’t know how to react.
Deepak! Something has happened to Deepak… No!!!!! He had left me alone.

The memories of him breathing his last on the ventilator came back flooding and a tear rolled down my cheeks. I got used to the aroma of my house on my husband’s funeral. I was no more a married woman, but a widow. Lied ahead was a bumpy road of loneliness with nobody beside me, my daughter had settled abroad and I had nobody after her except Deepak.

“God needed your husband beta, more than you, and so…” Said my aunt in a monotone. I felt like slapping her. I didn’t want to hear anymore. I just longed for Deepak to come and shake me up, to comfort me by saying that all this is a lie!

My husband had died, died…

I was furious with God. He took away my husband. How could God do this to me? Taking away my life from me? I cried blindly, sobbing my heart out.

I went closer to his dead body. It was covered with a white sheet. I didn’t see his corpse; I just knew that this is a body. This is my husband’s body. I could not summon up the courage to touch him. My face went all sweaty and I breathed heavily, there was another panic attack rising up in me. My grief was so intense that I couldn’t bring myself to ask for a shoulder to bank on. Not even when my relatives and extended families offered solace.
After all the rituals were performed at my house, the place seemed to me like a cage with no exit points. One day, my mother came over to my place to check how I am coping up after the loss of my beloved. She decided to stay with me for a few days until I got over the shock. She got me books to read and made several attempts to distract my mind from Deepak’s memories.

I sat in my balcony for hours crying while turning the pages of our marriage album. I didn’t move and kept staring at one thing or the other for long hours. I became a walking corpse, the house was empty and quite, I felt scared and felt as though I’m going insane. Cooking alone pained me and eating alone killed me every night. I threw away the food with disgust. Relatives tried to comfort but unless they hadn’t experienced loss, they couldn’t fathom the sick, gut wrenching feeling that comes with losing someone you love so much. My husband was everything to me, he took good care of me in every way and made all the major decisions, and I felt so scared and alone to be doing all I need to do, things I’ve never done before and not having my greatest supporter by my side. I’ve often wished that it could have been me instead of him, but I don’t wish anyone to go through this nightmare. I just didn’t know if I would ever get any joy back in my life, I thought. He was truly my soul mate, someone I wanted to live my life with, all the plans we had, all of them made no sense now. I was a lonely widow.

I had a small part time job. When I came home at night I cried all alone. No one to say ‘Hello Anjy. My beautiful wife’.

The weekends were the worst, I felt isolated in a room full of people and watching other couples eat and drink together in parties and meetings made me cry all alone in my heart. My neighbors started getting fed up with me as I was so down and they did not know what to say to me. A few ladies made ugly faces while I walked passed them and pitied me. I wanted to run away from that society.

The lonely, lost foggy feeling was sometimes unbearable. There was never a day after his demise that I slept smiling, my mother who was most close to me after Deepak was worried about me. She wanted me to attend therapy sessions but I refuted. One day while cleaning my closet she found a pile of diaries between my clothes.
“Anjali, what is this”? She asked confused.

I was taken aback. They were Deepak’s diaries. We used to write together every night about our day from the morning to the night. I had kept them safe and now they were in my mom’s hands.

‘Mom, give them to me’, it’s Deepak’s diaries. I snatched away the diary and rushed towards my room.
One by one I started turning the pages of our love story and how had life taken an upside down turn after the birth of our daughter. There were moments I shed a tear reading our fights written by him whereas his handwriting and spelling mistakes bought a smile to my face. His diaries were more than enough to get me back to life. I put them close to my pillow as if Deepak was alive in them. I took care of the pages as if they were my small babies. I smiled reading our words whenever I felt lonely. A thought popped up in my mind while coming home in the metro one day.

‘Why not write again’? Life is indeed giving me a second opportunity to stand up and fight against all odds!
I desperately waited for my station to arrive. When the train stopped at the M.G. Road station, I DE boarded hurriedly and ran towards my house as if it had been set on fire.

I unlocked my house, the keys lied on the dining table and I searched for my laptop in my study room, there it was! I typed the first word on the Microsoft document.

I lost track of the words I typed in a day and without eating a bit I kept writing. It seemed as a refuge to me. I created a blog for myself – An online diary where I would pen down all my activities and thoughts. God had closed one door for me but I had the potential to open thousands on my own. I published my articles and stories online on Life and its true colors. I started to gain readership and within a span of three months my blog’s link went viral on the social media. I had a life to live. Writing became my life. I didn’t feel gloomy anymore thinking about my loss. Penning down incidents became an escape; I could escape into a world of my words. I used to come home exhausted and immediately after my dinner I sat down on my table to write and answer to my readers. Reading and writing became not only my hobbies, but passion!

One fine day a fellow reader commented on my blog “When are you planning to write a book”?

The question seemed rather odd to me, me- A Writer? But after signing out from the blog I gave the comment a thought. Without a second thought and with full zeal and enthusiasm I penned down my book ‘Life after him…’ in a month.

Writing was a passion to me and I just had to give that passion a push. I wrote non-stop in the day, in the metro, sitting on the balcony and even while cooking food! My literary work with emotions required hell lot of dedication. There was no time machine to bring back or visit Deepak but I could make him live again through my words.
Life started to make sense to me now. My laptop became my only friend and Deepak’s diaries my inspiration. What had begun as a journal of events, slowly turned into a book of feelings towards life…

I went for long walks in the park smiling at the trees and the birds. No worries about life at all. Those were the moments when I became close to being happy.

I sent my manuscript to the biggest publishers in town and it got accepted within a month. That was a blessing from Deepak. If he wouldn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have accomplished so much in so little time. Writing had become an abiding interest and I wrote about everything which I saw in my solitary walks.
Life of a widow made way to my poems. I filled my diary with funny anecdotes about the patriarchal system of the Hindu society. My books, articles and poems received greatest response and were enough to make me re-live. I got paid a hefty sum for my articles and I saved them for my NGO. I planned to open one just for the widows of the nation. Deepak lived again through my words because I didn’t let this second chance slip out of my hands… Sometimes, when life throws curve balls we should never surrender before it. Rather, we should breathe again, smile at ourselves, forget the past and begin again.

There was pin drop silence in the studio after my narration. I glanced at the crowd and each individual exhibited emotions of agony and enthusiasm.

The interviewer gazed at me with sympathy and she sighed…

That was quiet a motivating one Anjali. Well, Now that I respect you more Anjali! After hearing your story. I’ll end up the interview with one last question. Please leave a message for our viewers.

Loss of loved ones is sometimes for the better. We are never too old to fulfill our dreams and never too lost to find inspiration among ourselves. I found my inspiration in me and my husband’s words. People will try to drag you down but you just have to keep going. Time heals all wounds. You also find one in yours. Just take a glimpse at the positive side of life and give yourself a second chance.

– Mrs. Anjali Deepak Arora.

The audience at the studio clapped enthusiastically, some even cried asking for autographs and then I took a bow!

PS : THIS IS A FICTIONAL STORY.

AUTHOR : SAUMYA KAUSHIK.

Short Stories, Women Empowerment

I am (NOT) getting Married.

Voila!

To my readers (if I am left with any). Seriously, guys, it’s been ages since I have blogged or expressed my mundane, INSANELY SANE thoughts with you. Hey! Hello! Namaste! How have you guys been? I know… I know… I am beginning my post with super boring clichéd lines. Actually, I had almost forgotten that I do have a blog running, and there are people in Iceland and Antarctica, desperately waiting for an article. So! Like I said; it has been a humongous ride – The journey from when I got a day job and my debut novel got published and then I got to play many roles post its release. To brief this all up, I would like you people (haters included) to know that I have not changed.

I DID NOT lose weight but yes! I lost two teeth and now my jawline is more chiselled than it was. I tried becoming a better person though, I swear! Read amazing books, met super-amazing people, shopped at amazing places only for good shoes and I hope this post also turns that amazing, now that I have bored you enough with (I) tag. (I) am not endorsing Apple. 🙂

On a serious note, now that I have almost made a comeback, I have got some serious, non-serious stuff that has helped me shape in a better way. I would like to remind you all, I will be turning twenty-two (22) this April, (Do Not forget to wish me) which saddens and surprises me because; half of my friends on Social Media have found the true soul mates of their lives. True Soul mates bole toh Pati-Patni and here I am; still figuring out to make this post a bit funny. Guys! I think there is some problem with a few of us out there; that we are simply forgetting our individuality and voluntarily gifting it to some (XYZ) for the rest of our lives. I do not understand the concept of tying the knot so early; yes! I respect somebody’s decision of living together but Marriage is really the last resort. I wonder. Is it a question mark that is no more haunting us? Forget girls! Guys! What’s with your macho attitude? Where has it gone? Don’t tell me you will not cheat on with somebody else with your wife. Girls! Do you really in the world feel happy posing before a person with DSLR in hand and the showing it off on the social media. Ok! Let’s peep into your plan… You get married. You have two kids- One boy and one girl, as per the plan. And then? Potty Training? Then.

I better stop writing now.

Working on this post made me realise that so much of our experience is rarely spoken and yet shared by us all, and for that reason, it’s not been any easy thing to write. How does one write about thoughts that only live in our subconscious? I hope and I so hope that this post encourages you mid-twenty guys and gals to go out and find the right answers in your life. Obviously, I am not Steve Jobs to lecture you on Success. I read this quote somewhere and this sentence defines my life each day: “Tell me; what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Please DO NOT Answer: – GET MARRIED. Do you really have an answer?

Our hopes and dreams never become fixed, it’s a lifelong process. Get a job. Earn some money. Be a part of competitions. Make a wish list. Travel. Eat. Breathe, Read, And Dance. Make Love and please say “thank you” to me later.

The stigma of being a single woman is so subtle that we don’t even feel it pervading our minds and spirits. Society wants to define you by who you belong to. If you do achieve, you will be targeted. So, don’t take it personally. If you’re a woman running for office and you’re married, they’ll say you’re not taking care of your man. If you’re divorced, they’ll say you couldn’t keep your man. If you’re single, they’ll say you could never get a man in the first place’. People will Judge You. So Fuck Them. I repeat fuck them! Men are taught to choose. Women are taught to be chosen. Marriage is not a cure-all for the problems of your life.

No

Don’t wait to find someone. You are someone. Marriage does not complete you. You complete you. Love is profound. Marriage is not.

Courtesy: Joy Chen – for the quote.