The Art Of Validation

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“I’m not trying to get validation nor do I need it anymore.” These were the words spoken by Selena Gomez during her speech in last year’s American Music Award when she won the award for ‘Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist (side note: it’s so weird to call 2016 last year since I’m pratically stuck in the time when Taylor Swift released her album ‘Red’ and blew our-more like mine- mind away.).

If you think about it, we’re constantly asking for validation from different members of society- friends, family, acquaintances and we even go to the extent of asking strangers for our validation. We are so lost in the search of other’s validation of us that we forget to realize that the only validation we need is of ours, and we’ve gotten so deep into this search, that almost everything we do, we need other’s validation.

-“Hey, do you think this dress…

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Slam Poetry Season

17th and 18th September – India’s first National Youth Poetry Slam is coming right up in Bangalore and as a poetry slam enthusiast and long-time fangirl of all things poetry, you can imagine how excited I am. NYPS is probably the only dream of mine that’s actually coming true in the near future.

Minor problems like term exams messed up any impending chance of me getting to witness the slam in Bangalore, but you know. If I’m ambitious enough and good enough, maybe someday I’ll be one of them, standing on stage with quaking knees and a voice not too rusted.

Until Sarah Kay agreed to come and perform at the NYPS Grand Slam. That’s when I lost all composure.

I got into poetry slam a little over a year ago, when I really got serious about writing poetry and exploring what little skill I had, and it was love at first verse. I remember watching Sarah Kay’s “Private Parts” and immediately flipping my book open, only to find myself at a dead end. More importantly, I remember wishing I could be confident enough to be so bold about things that we shy away from.

I remember blocking out all the textbooks and unsolved papers lying around the room and focusing on the words that were coming out of the video. I remember the magic of trying to get past comprehending the different accents and really feeling what the poet was saying. I remember the goosebumps that came with chilling metaphors and truths.

And I still feel that way.

Poetry isn’t only for those who are “writers” or “nerds” or people who “get” poetry. It’s for everyone who’s listening, and everyone who isn’t. Poetry is for the voiceless, the downtrodden, the aspirants, the superheroes. Poetry is there for you as long as you listen.

Poetry is like that one friend who crosses all limits and boundaries and still remains your friend. Poetry is the window to every poet’s soul – it transcends all distinctions and demarcations. It starts from one soul, reaches another. It has no beginning, no end, and more importantly, it has boundless magic.

tree

(I just added this image because I found it super cute, sorry!)

It’s been a month since I started 11th grade, and I’ve never been happier.

I thought I’d hate everything about the place, but as it turns out, I’m finally in a place where I can be myself. I’m finally in a class where people understand the pursuit of creativity, where people are ever-willing to discuss anything under the sun.

Maybe it’s because we’re all pursuing humanities, because we’ve been looking for the same thing, feeling the same sense of isolation. Maybe it’s because at some level, there’s a thirst for out-of-the-books learning.

As it turns out, I’m quite intellectually inferior to some of my peers in subjects like political science and economics and current affairs, but for the first time, I’m really enjoying it.

It’s quite crazy to think that I’m in a much happier place right now, after having spent nearly two years curled up in a ball of shame and confusion, but it’s liberating.

 

 

Feel Proud To Feel

Feel Proud To Feel

Sometimes, you’ve got to let yourself feel.

Emotions are as vague and unexplainable as art or music – you can’t define or explain why, it is what it is. And you need to realize that.

Understand, that you don’t always have to have an answer for everything you feel. It’s okay to feel sad and not know why. It’s okay to smile at nothing, even if you get weird looks.

We are rational creatures and intellectually superior (or so we claim), but there is always chaos within order.

If the pools of strings that are your emotions get mixed up in a big ball, untie it with patience when you feel like it, not because there’s a line of people waiting to pay for those strings.

Turn those emotions into lines of verse, or swirling patterns of colour, or pages of seemingly indecipherable numbers, or sheets of music – because when life gives you emotions, make the best masterpiece you can.

Small Things

(Prompt: 20 line poem, each line starting with the first letter of your first name. Only rule: can’t be about you.)

Sometimes I wonder about

Small things like the

Soft orange of the setting sun or

Sweet giggles of excited children.

Seeing beauty in everything

Seems too difficult until I remember the

Significance of the insignificant.

Smiling, wrinkled faces of my grandparents

Screams of delight as we cousins run about

Sumptuous meals enriched by loud laughter

Silly jokes and banter

Slip away unnoticed by day and

Show up in memories ten years later.

Sometimes recalled by wistful smiles

Sometimes remembered by youthful minds

Showing that these small things matter, just like

Stars that twinkle all the time but are

Seen only by night.

Seeing these small things as I wonder about them

Seems to bring me to peace at last.

I Watched Her Cry

Day: April 28, Thursday.

Time: 2:00 pm (approx.)

Place: The 9/11 Memorial Museum, 180 Greenwich Street, New York City.

Nothing seemed real, until she caught my eye.

People were milling about, looking carefully at the photographs and names of each of the 2997 victims of the 9/11 attack plastered on the wall. In a corner of the room this woman sat, back against the wall, crying into her hands, only looking up to glance at a photo on the wall, before burying her face in her hands again.

The visitors passing by glanced at her, looking concerned, before moving on and leaving her be. But somehow, I couldn’t do that. I stood rooted to the spot, staring at her. All the while, I was debating whether to approach her, possibly be of some comfort to her, or to let her grieve and give her some space. (Which, in retrospect, was bullshit – the latter was most definitely my “unwilling to take action” side).

I kept telling myself to move forward, to kneel by her and maybe comfort her, to let go of those inhibitions that someone will see, that she might not want you. But a part of me kept preempting the conversation, fearing that I might not know what to say, and end up being awkward and shy and insensitive.

Meanwhile, another girl moved forward and started talking to her. Abandoning further thought, I moved ahead and knelt by the grieving woman, ignoring my aching toes.

“I lost my sister – it was her birthday today,” said the woman, pointing to a photo on the wall. “That’s her – with the white headpiece; it was her wedding.”

“I see her. She’s beautiful,” The ‘kind girl’ (as I’d taken to calling her in my head) said. It didn’t matter if the sister was pretty, of course; the present tense was what really stood out. Was I the only one who noticed?

A few moments later, the kind girl asked, “Would you like me to say a prayer?”

“I pray for her every single day, but sure,” said the lady with a slightly bitter (?) laugh.

By this point, a few others had knelt by us as well, drawing curious glances from the adults. But I tried to focus on the kind girl’s words – I don’t recollect her exact words, because I suck at hearing, apparently.

She prayed for the dead sister, for all the birthdays and years she’s lived; she prayed that she had had a beautiful life. She prayed that the woman – this strong, brave woman, I quote – be blessed with the strength to live through pain, dear God, and to cherish the years and memories they’ve shared.

The kind girl went on to speak of how she’d lost her best friend eight months ago, not in any such attack, but the pain remained seemingly unbearable, nevertheless. She spoke a few more words here and there before giving the woman a hug and walking away. The other three followed suit.

I have often been told that I speak unnecessarily, but I felt that I couldn’t leave the poor woman without saying something. I’d been silent all this while, but I felt the need to speak.

“I’ll be praying for you.” said I, in the gentlest tone I could muster. Placing a hand on her knee, I continued, “I hope you’ll be okay.”

I put my arms around her, against my general rule of not hugging people, and with a last smile, I stood up and walked away.

Ignoring the curious glances from my mother and sister – my father, thankfully, knew me well enough not to question my actions (though I did tell him that she was crying and she’d lost her sister to the attacks), I continued the tour. But for the rest of the visit, I was silent, shellshocked at what I’d witnessed.

Until that moment, the 9/11 attack had seemed like another disastrous event in history – unfathomable loss, and a vague sense of guilt and grief. But today made me think. Even 15 years later, this woman was crying over her dead sister, grieving for yet another year her sister never lived to celebrate. How many such people were still grieving? How can any of us begin to fathom the everlasting pain of such loss?

For the first time in my life, I really closed my eyes, and prayed to God, not for my grades or my family’s health or success, but for the strength people like her would need. For people all over the world who had suffered losses. And I meant it.

In a selfish moment, I wondered if she would remember the five of us the way I did (and would), before dismissing the thought, mildly disgusted at my selfishness. It shouldn’t even have to matter; not when she didn’t have a sister.

I never even asked for her name.

 

The Strange Funeral

The pyre was laid in the middle of the ground

The mourners were silent; they made no sound

Flowers were heaped in a great mound

Onto the body who, in white, was bound

“Who will light the pyre?” The question was raised

The daughter strode in just then; she didn’t look fazed

By the stares that followed her through the night’s haze

She held her head high with a steadfast gaze

She was stopped by the priest, who very calmly said

“Let the male member finish the rites instead.”

She stared at him mutely and slowly shook her head

She left the man in shock as she walked ahead

The mourners pushed her back with vigour new-found

She didn’t fight back; she merely stood her ground

“Please give me the torch!” was heard over the sound

Of the outraged cries belonging to the crowd

Her brother stepped forward, torch clutched in hand

“My sister, you must leave,” he sounded very sad

She broke away from the crowd, stomping across the land

Only to march up and take the torch in hand

She looked him in the eyes, even as she said

“I don’t wish to fight you, not when he is dead

But we’ve grown up sharing everything, yes, even our beds

Why can’t we share this as well?” The sister firmly said.

“How can we break tradition?” he demanded angrily

“Father must have spoilt you with his leniency.”

Even as he said them, she laughed bitterly

“It is blind faith over reason after all, I see.”

The torch was still burning; she strode to the pyre

She looked back at her brother; his eyes blazed with ire

She held out her hand; his eyebrows shot up higher

But he walked up to her and as one, they induced the fire

The onlookers muttered angrily; how dare they do so?

Misdeeds were one thing; this was an all time low!

But somehow, not one found the courage to say so

That “What you’re doing is wrong, don’t do it, just NO!”

The fire started slowly, then shot up with all its might

It roared at the mourners; they began to cower in fright

It sheltered the siblings; it was a strange sight

To see the fire shield them against the reigning night

The fire cooled its anger, now crackling merrily

The tongues of flame danced about almost innocently

The siblings shared a smile before walking back proudly

It had been quite a strange funeral, everyone agreed!

 

In India, among the Hindus at least as far as I’m aware, the bodies of the dead are cremated, not buried, and the act of setting fire to the pyre is carried out by the eldest son, while the daughters (or the women, for that matter) are not allowed to be present at the site of the cremation. I thought it’d be interesting to write a poem on something contrary to the practice happening. I think it might be a bit dramatic, but I thought I’d put it out here all the same!

See you through the screen!

My Take On Homosexuality

My Take On Homosexuality

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long, long time: homosexuality. Or rather, the LGBTQ+ community.

This is probably not going to go down well, but it’s better than going on YouTube marathons, right? I thought so.

Now, if you ask me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with homosexuality. You are perfectly within your rights to love and date whoever you want, irrespective of gender. And the legalisation of homosexual marriage in USA is a sign that things are definitely changing.

Of course, the fact still remains that according to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code homosexuality is a crime… stop raining on my parade, all right?

While we’re on the subject, I find it quite strange that gay marriage is a crime in India because according to Wikipedia, Rigveda, one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism says Vikriti Evam Prakriti (meaning what seems unnatural is also natural), and many literary works indicate that homosexuality was very much present in India and was considered pretty normal until the 18th century, aka when the British went about acquiring Indian territory.

Now, the point of this particular rant is that I want to present both sides of the argument and why exactly the two parties hold that opinion, before justifying my own take on it, so let’s get started?

Let’s get the negativity out of the way by talking about the homophobic category.

I remember when the ruling of the US Supreme Court was declared in favour of homosexuality, I was really excited, because it was a huge step in the evolution of society. And not long after that, my mother and I had quite…..diverse opinions on that. You can figure out the rest.

Now, I’m not being critical or derisive of anyone’s stand on this matter, but….. I don’t really see what’s wrong with having different sexual orientation. And I remember being really frustrated with my mother because she didn’t share my views.

In their defense, technically it is unnatural. Now don’t start judging me. Hear me out.

“Unnatural” can be read as something that’s different from the way of nature, right? And if we’re talking about Nature, as in the mystical force that we are supposedly offsprings of….

See, the male and female bodies are designed to, well, accommodate each other during…. intercourse (this feels so awkward to write). That’s the way God has designed it, or that’s how Nature works, depending on what you believe. So, when our minds start showing an inclination towards the same gender, or both genders, or people of all kinds of sexual orientation, irrespective of your body parts….it is against “the design of nature” – but that doesn’t make it wrong!

In fact, I think it’s the next step in human evolution. It’s a sign that our minds are growing exponentially, that we’re exploring options beyond our physical arrangements, and it’s something that we shouldn’t be afraid to accept.

Having said that, you’ve got to see where homophobia is coming from. The principles of religion have often been twisted and misinterpreted to suit the “managers” of God. And this knowledge has been embedded into the minds of consecutive generations.

And it’s not just homosexuality, or bisexuality or pansexuality or even asexuality for that matter. Any new concept that challenges the age-old social construct is looked down upon, scoffed at or shunned. It will take years and years to eradicate homophobia.

This does make coming out to people really difficult, though, because you really don’t know who believes what. Troye Sivan put it correctly, if you ask me, when he said that coming out to people about your sexuality isn’t a one time phenomenon – it’s something you’ll have to do over and over again every time you meet new people, and it will never not be scary, because you never know who thinks what.

And that brings me to the other side of things – the people who are all for the LGBTQ+ community, including me. Yay..!

I think we are mainly open to the emergence of this particular community because of the massive amount of exposure we’ve had to this concept – interacting firsthand with people of the LGBTQ+ community has really helped broaden our perspective, and the fact that we’ve grown up (somewhat) with considerable information about these concepts has helped us familiarize ourselves, right?

I mean, we have so many “Coming Out” videos by eminent YouTubers, so many celebrities and eminent personalities have declared their support – come on, Dumbledore was gay and look at the positive reception JK Rowling got for announcing that. If the Harry Potter series is including it…. How can we not be broad-minded?

But I digress.

Fun fact: According to survey in India in 2012, out of the 1.2 billion people (and counting), 2.5 million are self-declared homosexual people. If we take into account the undisclosed people of the community as well….. it’s a startling number, isn’t it? It’s even more startling that despite this, there is so much stigma about it in India itself.

I had no idea I needed to rant about this so badly. Oh, well.

The point is, I believe that love is equal. I believe that we are perfectly within our rights to love whoever we want, and in all honesty, this should not be a big deal. I shouldn’t even have to say this, really, because it’s your life, and you get to choose who you love, because it’s far worse to be incapable of love altogether than to love “against the norm” or whatever.

(I mean, look at Voldemort – he was a mess!)

But at the same time, I don’t think we should judge people or hate them for not supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Just as we’re entitled to the right to accept them, they’re within their rights to hold an opinion, no matter how wrong it seems.

But one thing is clear – sexual orientation should never be a point of discrimination under any circumstances. It shouldn’t be a big deal at all, and just because you’re gay or bisexual or pansexual does not mean that you should be treated inferiorly or discriminated.

And on that note, I’m going to end because it’s so hot I can’t think of anything else to say.

See you through the screen!

Why Do I Hide My Writing?

I remember someone (I can’t remember who) once asked me, “Why do you always keep your writings secret?”. And in dfferent ways, through different situations, that question has always followed me.

Why do I keep my writings a secret?

I find it embarrassing to reread my old work, let alone show it to others, and quite frankly, I’d rather not let anyone know just how weird my mind is.

But I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I eventually figured out that there are two reasons.

Firstly, the fear of judgment and misinterpretation.

I am terrified that people will judge me or more likely, misinterpret my intentions and just, I don’t know, hold it against me?

See, the thing is, writing is not always beautiful descriptions or metaphoric expression of emotions. I’m not always in the best state of mind when I write; sometimes I’m irrationally angry or sad because of something or someone and end up saying unjust things about them. And I know a lot of others feel that way (from what I’ve learnt while interacting with them).

People don’t really understand that just because our words are depressing, it doesn’t mean that we’re depressed. As idealists, we’re often let down because the world we live in is not perfect, and the helplessness we feel at not being able to make things right is reflected in our work. There have been so many instances where my peers thought I was depressed or bitter or just no fun simply because my writing reflected that. It’s had too big an impact on me for me to not fear judgment.

I’m not kidding, I have lost friends because they read my work and thought I was insulting them or didn’t value them enough, when in reality I was simply expressing my disappointment on our inability to truly understand one another. And it doesn’t help that I can be very blunt in what I’m writing, especially if I’m narrating an incident, which means more people are likely to be offended by what I write. Oops….?

Judgment and misinterpretation are things that every person has fallen victim to, and it is basically the story of my life. Some things are better left as secrets, and my writing is one of them. So if I’m voluntarily showing you something, take it as a sign that I trust you J

Secondly, showing others my writing is like losing my invulnerability. If you think that’s an exaggeration, joke’s on you, it’s not.

When we write, it’s not just a string of words. It’s an expression of our deepest, most suppressed emotions and thoughts that we don’t have the guts to say out loud. To me, words aren’t just words – they’re like…..they’re like keys, each one opening a door leading you to my emotions. And in a world where boys aren’t allowed to cry or show emotion and girls are stereotyped for being overemotional, do you actually think I’m going to just hand over my writing and let you have access to all the things I keep hidden?

My writing is my armour. To give it to someone is like stripping myself of any protection – it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable and extremely vulnerable.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to show anyone my writing. And I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing.

On an unrelated note, I know I haven’t updated in nearly a…week? And I hope I can go back to my “daily update” schedule, we’ll see. That will probably only happen if YouTube shuts down, but….oh well.

See you through the screen!

 

Pots And Pans

Pots And Pans

I had a rather…..interesting morning, if I’m being honest.

Actually, no, not interesting. More like traumatizing.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was just disastrous.

Today…I had to make breakfast.

Now, before I actually narrate the story, you should know that for all my usual self-(over) confidence, I have no skill or confidence in the kitchen. I know it’s important to know how to cook and clean – even more so if you’re an Indian daughter because what will your in-laws say, beta?

But I am a part-time klutz and it’s not that I don’t have an interest (despite what Mom says), it’s just that I might as well as be navigating the Labyrinth in the kitchen, that’s how lost I am.

And if there is one thing I don’t really like, it’s knowing I am terrible at something.

Yes, I’m a prideful person. Sue me.

So, anyway, I entered the kitchen and ten seconds later –

“Amma” (Amma means ‘Mother’ in Telugu) “I finished peeling the potatoes now what?”

(See? I cannot survive without my mom, and this is one of the things that constantly worries me when I start pondering the meaning of my existence and how I’m ever going to survive within the walls of social norms)

“Who’s going to cut them? Or did that not strike you?” was the reply.

Actually, Amma, that did not strike me, but I’ll keep that to myself.

I kept fumbling along like this and she was rapidly losing her patience as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen.

Unfortunately for me, she mistook my hesitance and uncertainty as disinterest.

Ergo I spent the next five minutes being scolded for my apparent disinterest which went something like this:

“You are fifteen, you cannot keep running away from the kitchen!”

“I know you liked the movie Ki & Ka” (this is a Bollywood movie showing the switch in gender roles where the husband takes to the pots and the pans) “but no husband is ever going to cook for you.”

“This isn’t book-reading; you actually have to use your head!”

“I can’t teach someone who doesn’t have interest!”

I didn’t dare contradict her.

I ended up making a mess of the whole thing and now I’m hiding away from the kitchen, where I’ve been called to help my mother to make lunch.

Uh, no. I’ve started enough disasters for the day, thank you very much.

But to be fair to my mom, the dish I was supposed to be making was in fact extremely simple. All you really have to do is soak flattened rice in water, cook it along with curry leaves, potatoes, blah blah blah and ta-da!

I think it’s just my lack of skill in dexterity that’s creating the problem.

But I think it’s also the fact that the more someone criticizes me while I’m doing something, the worse I do the job. Criticism tends to discourage me and, I don’t know, I just get really defensive.

That’s a really bad quality for an aspiring writer, I know.

It’s just, I respond better to people correcting me and helping me, as opposed to just criticism. I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious I had no clue what I was doing, so really, my mother just wasted her energy pointing that out. I know I can’t do it, will someone please teach me now?

The reason I wanted to write this down is this: You can’t avoid something if you aren’t good at it.

I ran away from cooking because I knew I was bad at it, but it doesn’t solve the problem. As a growing person, it’s important to realize that you can’t get everything right on the first try.

I don’t like doing things wrong. If I’m doing something, it has to be 100% accurate. And that’s not always going to happen.

Having said that, there is no way I’m entering the kitchen right now. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hiding to do.

See you through the screen!