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Of Thought and Rhyme

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Essentially me

Being a Girl

I don’t remember exactly when did I start seeing my identity as a girl being a constructed one, but I always had a cognizance of it being perpetuated and enforced socially. I would struggle to comprehend the restrictive gender roles, while simultaneously upholding them because ‘this is what girls do’.

It was all an individual turmoil, where I thought it was just me who had troubles accepting what were the established norms. And as the elder family members saw it, why was I questioning them? Was I being a troublemaker and rebel just for the sake of it? Weren’t the other girls behaving the way they were supposed to? Where did this urge to upturn the norms come from? Is this what they teach kids at school? All this and more, stifling me everyday, with me thinking what’s wrong with me?! Why can’t I accept it just as other girls in my family and neighborhood and school and the entire world(?) do it?

My family tells me how I should behave like a girl.
My teachers tell me how I should behave like a girl.
The textbooks tell me how I should behave like a girl.
TV serials tell me how I should behave like a girl.
Magazines & ads tell me how I should behave like a girl.

If all these experienced and mature people are telling me, a puny kid, how I should behave, why can’t I accept it? There must be something horribly wrong with me.

Years passed, and I kept suppressing the inner turmoil, trying my best (against my will) to behave like a girl.

And then one day, a thought struck me like a flash of lightning (it’s always like that, isn’t it?).

If it is how I’m ‘supposed’ to behave like a girl, why would the idea need an enforcement? If it’s a natural order, why would everybody go out of their way to make me believe so? Maybe, it is not how it’s supposed to be. Maybe, it is how they want it to be.

I might not remember when was it that this clarity came to me, but I clearly remember what led me to it. It was a text (we debated for an entire hour later in the class about whether its form was poetry or prose) by Jamaica Kincaid, titled ‘Girl’. It is not an extraordinary story. If anything, it is a story that I grew up hearing in my house, every waking hour of every day of my life. (Perhaps that’s what characterizes ‘great’ literature – resonance.) Reading the narrative brought home the realization: I AM BEING TOLD TO BEHAVE LIKE A GIRL! IT IS PART OF AN AGENDA! MY IDENTITY AS A GIRL IS A CONSTRUCT! And the biggest of all: IT’S NOT JUST ME, THERE ARE OTHER GIRLS WHO THINK LIKE THIS. OTHER GIRLS WHO FEEL OPPRESSED, STIFLED AND CAUGHT IN THE WEB!

It was an epiphany. I had found a goldmine. An answer to everything that I was struggling with. A clue to work with. A hypothesis to seek validation on. An explanation for my unrest. A balm to my agony. A question for my question.

I was unstoppable in my quest. I scoured libraries, seeking comfort in other women’s words. Another essay in another class gave me words for my realization. It was the opening sentence of the first chapter of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, that validated my hypothesis for me.

One is not born, but rather becomes, [a] woman.

While the professor went on to explain the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, and how the former was a biological construct and the latter a social, I retreated to my corner. I had found my bible. I was in another world, delirious beyond measure, to have found it all to be a mere ‘construct’.

That one sentence validated my existence, my questions, my discomfort. I wanted to go back to my younger self and shout – NO, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU, YOU FOOL! YOU WERE RIGHT. YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG. YOU WERE RIGHT TO QUESTION. AND YOU WERE RIGHT TO NOT ACCEPT IT AS THE NATURAL ORDER!

Since that day, I have been living my life a little more freely. Being acutely aware of my gender identity.

I may walk like a girl, talk like a girl, dress up (or down) like a girl — not because I have to, but because I choose to. My behavior and actions aren’t so because of my gender identity, they are so in spite of my gender identity.


This Women’s Day, I wish for nothing but for more women (and men) to see their identities for what they are, devoid of the gender constructs. Maybe we wouldn’t need a special day, if we were to break away from the constructs. Maybe.


(This post was originally posted on medium.com. You can see it here.)

Love. And then some.

Lately, I’ve not been writing. And I’ve not been writing not because I don’t have things to write about, but because I think I don’t have time to write. But that’s bullshit. We all know that time is never a constraint when the task at hand is important enough. So that’s the thing, I’ve been ignoring writing in pursuit of seemingly more important stuff.

Something happened this morning, which made me go, “Oh, I should write that down!”. And then I realized, I have not written something in so long, so how to just pick up the pieces and start? But that’s exactly how, you just pick up the pieces, and start.

Do you believe in love? Not just the romantic-doe-eyed-abused-by-Hollywood-and-Bollywood-alike-oh-that’s-so-cheesy-who-talks-about-forevers-and-beyond-and-happily-ever-after-but-maybe-such-a-thing-does-exist-and-I-am-not-made-for-it-but-someday-it-will-come-to-me kind of love, but love as a universal feeling. Love as a unifying force, love as kindness, love as concern, love as regret, love as what makes your world a happier place – love as just that, love. Do you believe in it? I can’t say I don’t. And not after what happened this morning.

A man just threw a bagful of biscuits around the pack of dogs that I was feeding. And my heart just sank. In that split-second, I felt stupid and insecure. I felt scared that the puppies I thought I had befriended – the puppies I was trying to discipline, by having them wait for their turn till the others finish and letting them eat only when they were being fed, not like a bunch of rowdies that they will eventually turn into, I felt scared that these babies will now abandon me, given that better food awaits them, which they can hog on unabashed. In that split-second, I also told myself that it was silly, to expect loyalty and love from a bunch of stray dogs who don’t owe you anything. I told myself that it’s alright for them to abandon you and turn to that big pile of food. And then suddenly it struck me, while I was busy consoling myself for the impending love lost, the dogs were still sitting in line patiently, still eating out of my hands when it was their turn, sitting looking at me with their gleaming eyes – despite the big fat pile of food lying just next to them.

That was the time I believed in love. Pure, unadulterated love. Love that speaks through the eyes. Love that sees beyond the obvious. Love that understands without words. Love that makes the world – my world – a happier place. Love as just that, love.

So, do you believe in love?

Silence.

My new friend. Not too friendly, but once you start getting comfortable, it lets you befriend it.

I think I can get used to it.

Judgements and then some

 

Super-emo post alert. Read at your own peril.

 

This one is for all of those people who express emotions ranging from scorn to disgust to sympathy to disapproval to plain old surprise when I say I don’t hate him.

Maybe it is abnormal in your world to be at peace with the fact that things did not work out between two people. But in mine, there is no other way, but to be at peace.

Why should I let the circumstances drive my feelings? I cannot ‘unlove’ someone just because the social norms ask so of me.

And mind you, it does not mean that one is stuck up, and cannot move on. There is a very subtle difference between being at peace and holding a grudge. While the former allows you to be objective, the latter makes you think endlessly about what could have been.

The former makes you appreciate the other person for what s/he is, the latter makes you begrudge her/him for what s/he is not.

The former makes you care and be sensitive, the latter makes you frown and be reckless.

Many a times, the former is mistaken for a simplistic name for the latter, while in reality it’s not.

And you can call me ’emotionally unstable’ all you want, but I know not of any other way to be. If that’s unacceptable to you, be my guest and continue to express whatever concerned emotion you are used to expressing. I’m tired of justifying myself, and this is my one last attempt at doing so.

I do NOT want your judgements. Thank you very much.

The Broken Dream

When a dream dies, mourn for its death. Mourn for what could have been, mourn for what is not, mourn for what can never be. Mourn so that you know what you’ve lost. Mourn so that its soul rests in peace. Mourn so that when you dream your next dream, it’s not dreamt on the foundation of the ashes of the old one, but on a clean slate.

Don’t be in a hurry to move on. Don’t be in a hurry to wash it from your memory. Don’t be in a hurry to find a substitute.

Give time for wounds to heal. Let them gnaw at your soul. Keep them uncovered, but not unattended. Be aware of the pain, but let it consume you.

Deal with the loss, don’t run away from it.

 

 

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