‘Mumbai ki barish’

‘Mumbai ki barish’

June is the month of transition. The transition from summer to monsoon and this shift is widely accepted by some and is dejected by others. But when you see with a layman’s eye, sitting in one corner of the balcony in a 30-storey building, this proceeding is a sign of comfort.

The downpour soothes the soul from within, finally bringing an end to the hot spell. One by one, when the little drops-of-heaven land, everyone in the living community rejoices. In a city of India, Mumbai, the monsoon gets tagged with the city’s name. ‘Mumbai ki barish’ (the monsoon of Mumbai), as it is fondly called.

Somewhere in that city, was a girl sitting at her window, watching the raindrops hit the closed glass. Anamika remembered her first monsoon in Mumbai. She had been stuck in traffic for hours. Something that seemed like a frustrating event to the rest, had become a blissful happening for her. She could’ve stayed stuck in that traffic for a few hours more. Window seat of the public transport bus, the person she adored, sitting next to her and the rains.

Hailing from the town of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, she had seldom seen such a beautiful scenario. The changing colours of the sky reflected in her eyes. She hadn’t found this level of comfort back in her small town. The glacial weather had frozen both, people’s minds and their hearts. There, she would crave for rains and be disappointed every time when the dark clouds disappeared. She remembered how back in the day when she was just fifteen, she danced to her heart’s content when it had drizzled, but later had to face the wrath of her mother.

Thunder shook the fragile windows of the renowned ‘BEST’ double-decker bus in which she had been sitting and had instantly brought her back to reality.

Remembering the next few minutes of that bus ride, she couldn’t help but smile.

To start the conversation, Anamika had offered the packet of cookies she had had in her purse to the person beside her. “Would you like some?” she’d asked. Smiling, the girl accepted and picked a cookie. She then noticed Anamika.

“Hey! You’re the new girl in our office, aren’t you?”

And that conversation had led up to the first ever relationship that Anamika had been in. For her, the monsoon marked a year to that beginning.

Love blooms in all directions in the Bollywood-city during monsoons. Be it Bandstand or Marine drive, one might see a lot of couples cosying around to enjoy the cold winds coming from the sea. Among these million couples were Anamika and Susan.

Enjoying the rains at seashores has been a common thing in Mumbai. But seeing the downpour while getting drenched in it and watching the ocean happily jumping in joy comes to a stop when one turns around and finds the streets flooded with the rainwater. The chaos on the streets, then only carries the worries of reaching home safely.

Sipping on some hot Chai and munching on the roasted corn in the balcony of their little apartment, Susan said, “I’m glad this became legal here. The last time I was here, Julie and I almost ended up getting arrested”.

Hearing this, a chill ran down Anamika’s spine.

Anamika was enjoying the rains with Susan to her fullest. But now, she had turned around.

The thought of having to face her parents with her reality flooded her mind. Mumbai was far more accepting than she had ever thought it would be, but what about the society back in her own home town. All this while she was enjoying the misty air and the showers in Bombay, but the storm was yet to come.

Her parents planned to visit Mumbai in winters to avoid the chills of Himachal. They had no clue that their eldest daughter was living with a pink-haired half-Irish woman who was someone she loved. But, Mumbai does this to everyone, it hugs you with open arms and then pushes you to fight your own battles.

The air of this city, or rather the monsoon of this city was magical, it brought together and separated people at the same time.

A few days later, back in their apartment, watching a cloudy sunset together, Susan said, “You know what I love the most about June?”

“The month?” Anamika asked.

“Mhm. It brings an end to this harsh heat season and the cool showers begin. It’s all pleasant.”

“Not all pleasant. I mean, it’s only my second monsoon in this city but I’ve seen the panic because of the rains.”

“Well… that’s rain for you. Some panic will follow it. But the city’s getting better, Annie. I see it. The panic is reducing. One day it might just be so well that people won’t panic because of rain at all. They will only enjoy it. And if not, then just calmly accept it. It’ll happen.”

Accept. This word hit Anamika hard. If only she had accepted herself differently when she discovered her sexuality, then things would have been easier. Rains would have been less harsh-er in Mandi and she wouldn’t have to run away from it. Millions like her, living in the farthest corners of the country shun this acceptance and let the heat of societal pressure sweat them off.   
‘Mumbai ki barish’ (the monsoon of Mumbai), however, percolates unbiasedly in people, just like love.

Co-authored with Vatsal Thakore

Blog Link : theinceptedpath.wordpress.com

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Guilty as charged.

Guilty as charged.

Every day I step under my shower and cleanse myself thoroughly with  water and stand there for quite some time. This happens twice in a day.

Every time I come home after being in the scorching heat, I immediately turn on my air conditioner and take a sigh of relief. This happens thrice in a week.

Every time when I’m in a restaurant, I ask them to serve me only mineral water and there they break seals of minimum three plastic ‘mineral’ water bottles. This happens thrice in a month.

Every once in a while, when I want to go to a place which is well connected by public transport, I’d still take a cab, because comfort. This happens once in a month.

Environmentalist say India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage and is only going to get worse in the years ahead.

Eight of fifteen hottest places in the world when the temperature was recorded were in India.

Plastic was found in the deepest part of the world, Mariana Trench.

The world’s most polluted city with highest level of carbon emission is in India.

I’m charged with such a heinous crime of harming my environment, but why would you care about this, right?

Haven’t you been doing the same things too?

However, guiltlessly, you (the reader) are still sitting in an Airconditioned room, after an hour-long shower with a bottle of plastic bottle on your side-table and scheduling an uber for your evening outing.

I, on the other side, am deeply grieved.

I have now decided; I would only use half a bucket of water if I have to bathe twice in a day; I would not use air conditioner below 24 degree and more than an hour in a day; I would take a bottle with me wherever I go; And my legs have been working fine too.

Small but frequent such steps would contribute in mending the that wrong that has been done to our environment.

Are you with me too?       

Image credits

‘If I had to live life in 4 years’

‘If I had to live life in 4 years’

If life had to be lived in a span of just 4 years, I’d choose to live it in my college life.

August 2015:

First day of college, a nervous and worrisome face enters this classroom. Looking out for similar faces, she finds none. Standing at the entrance, starting at the intermingled crowd, she feels- would I be able to find friends in these unknown faces?

Worried and nervous she sits on the bench which is empty and opens up a book to read.

August 2016:

Friends with everyone. Check.

Average scores. Check

Average Attendance. Check

Unlimited fun. Check

This initial stage of college serves as a buffet where you try to pick anything and everything that you know is edible.  The previous 365 days brought about a whirlwind of happy hormones.

Smiles never seem to go away from the face which was then worrisome and nervous.

August 2017:

College feels like home now. With a limited number of friends now and a below average attendance and scores, things seem to mellow down a little bit.

The aura of ‘chilling’ has seeped into every possible vein in the body. She likes it. She feels it.

Comfortable and homely.  Happy and sad emotions seem to sway with equal intensity.

August 2018:

Friends with a few. Check

Passing scores. Check

No attendance. Check

Nostalgia. Check

A known face to students and an unknown face to the teaching professor, she enters the classroom. Plunging into the corner-most comfortable desk, she sits. Cluelessly staring at the professor, she feels- would I be able to survive in the outside world where there wouldn’t be any of my friends?  

 Getting worried and nervous on this thought, she finds a book in her bag and silently reads it.

August 2019:

For a matter of fact, some people don’t even feel that it is this important to acknowledge it. This beautiful piece of experience in one’s life- College. I find no more words to write about it, to write about her who was a part of this four-year roller-coaster.

She learned a lot of things. Trust me when I say this, a lot.  With fond memories and a daring heart, she will soon embark on yet another life-changing journey. But what’ll keep her smile intact are those memories and those friends she made while she this amazing time of her life.

A year’s contemplation!

A year’s contemplation!

A year is a funny thing. It is like a checkpoint in our life which we accomplish in a particular frame of time.

Every year is different. There is not even a single similarity in the 70, 80, 90 or 100 years that you live. Everything is different.

This year though rung indifferently as well. For me, at least. The year- 2018.

To the people who know me well, know that I don’t like parties. I don’t like the concept of drinking over and dancing at a random place amidst loud music.  On 31st December 2017 and 1st January 2018, I was at one such party.

2018 has been the year of giving in. I don’t think I’ve received much of what I’ve given to the universe in this year.

There are countless memories that I’ve made. There have been a lot of lows and highs too.

But the most legitimate thing that existed in 2018 is uncertainty. The transition of 2018 from being engaged into many things to being jobless, studying, sulking and going through all of this has been different.

I will not say that this hasn’t happened to me in the past. It certainly has. The feeling of uncertainty has been an occasional visitor. But previously, it didn’t matter. Life went on and brought me some amazing experiences. Maybe, now too, life will go on.   

As we grow older, we learn. Learning is a continuous process. Learning how to face challenges is one of the hardest things but we learn it anyway.

I haven’t penned down my reflection of every year but Colleen Ballinger’s YouTube video gave me the inspiration to do so.

This insight into my life is filled with ambiguity and generic-ness and might not interest every one of you, but I hope at some point you (the reader) relate to it.

2018 was hard. 2019 will be harder. 2020 will be the hardest. You never know.

But all these years, you still keep standing. Having faith and hope in your heart, accepting the change and finally being happy.

Contemplating about all the things that have happened in the past 365 days, makes me feel a lot better.  

Breathing and thinking that everything will be alright.

Lastly, I wish all the readers a very happy new year.   

Love,

SkiesOfSakshi.

The Folks of Liberty!

The Folks of Liberty!

I was only partially conscious when the stench of the prison ground hit my nose and infiltrated my breath. My hands were released from the cuffs but the wrists still ached from the clinch of the metals. How long had I even been lying in here? Last I remember I was being manhandled by some people in the heaviest armours I had ever seen. How did I pass out? I had no idea. I looked around at the four walls. There was no way in or out of them. Then I looked up. I had been thrown into the prison, quite literally.

My eyes narrowed even more while looking towards the only window in the prison cell. A ray of light in the darkest rooms like a ray of hope in the dark times. But, this time, it was rather discomforting. The light highlighted the wounds on my body which were even unknown to me. With a million thoughts crossing my mind, I was beginning to have a mild headache. The cold floor on which I lay, was rather soothing.

I did remember why I’d ended up here. As much as that reason angered me, it also made me laugh. This was the fourth time I’d wanted to laugh hysterically but my jaws hurt from trying to laugh.

The coldness of the weather reminded of how I and my tribe stayed together even in the hard times of winters. Our hamlet was widely famous for its unity and prosperity. Those content days were far better than the recent ones. The unity was nowhere to be seen in this fallout. The people who were once together, now quenched each other’s blood. This transition was a little too sudden. But what was needed, was needed and now to a larger extent.

Over generations, somehow everyone had come to think that the opposite of order, was chaos. I and a thousand others had found out that it was actually freedom. The others, still in order, let their mouths stay shut. I didn’t. And now here I am, lying in a hundred pieces. If only I had kept my mouth shut, it wouldn’t have been broken right now. But something told me it was going to be worth it.

I was a part of a huge civilization that functioned on the dominance of power, like any other. It had its own peace and conflicts at times. It was neither a very ideal civilization nor a bad one. Thing was, the dominance of our rulers had begun growing, lately. An increase of taxations, reduction of certain actions in the name of laws… the suppression made people revolt, following which, the government agreed to have a peaceful discussion. They gave the people two choices:

To either live by their rules and keep their homes in the kingdom or leave from the kingdom in peace with some portion of food to ensure their survival for a few days. Choosing the second option meant leaving the houses and the life of a kingdom to wander until we settled. We chose it. Well, some of us did. That day, the kingdom saw an exodus of more than a thousand families.

With only a few days’ rations in hand, we marched forward. We were just some folks who were looking for liberty and we knew that at this very moment we felt free. We were no longer accountable to anyone, nor were we expected to do only a particular kind of work. For days we walked towards the horizon, we followed the sun and marched ahead. Celebrations were prominent at first. Every night was a festive affair. However, as they say, good times do not last. We were walking endlessly, with no direction in mind and that was the biggest mistake that we all had made.

I was hardly 20 years of age when this had happened. And at that age, during this event, I learnt some things.

Money was an illusionary concept. It was something that governments had introduced to us to keep us in control, to work for them.

When we were running out of ration, we settled in an empty grassland situated beside a forest. The physically stronger people chopped woods and the fast ones hunted and brought meat. We cooked it. Every person got an equal share of food and what did they have to pay for it? Nothing.

The woods were then further cut and houses were built. Everyone got their houses in that empty grassland. What did we pay for it? Nothing.

The lack of resources and the abolition of suppressive order had brought us in harmony. We realised our needs for each other and everything was built on the foundation of being helpful. We were free of rule and rulers. We were going to be together, we were going to be free. Helping each other in this initial stage of attaining liberty was an overwhelming experience.

But, Help, Assistance, and Cooperation, these terms only hold value when both the parties understand its true meaning. If one party feels that a task is a burden rather than an obligation, then the differences arise.

And since the ‘change’ was not accepted equally by everyone, feud founds its place. It started with minor issues. When the woodcutter returned home tired but was mocked for getting the lesser quantity of timber.

And as the issues increased so did the brawls. It had indeed become a daily ritual. However, Ruhan and his group of wise men meddled in between and helped in resolving the problem, thus maintaining the harmony.

Ruhan, the eldest of them all, to get rid of these daily trivial issues, made a decision. Since he was the eldest and the wisest, everyone agreed to him. He said that no woodcutters and hunters would work for free from that day on. Now that people had settled, they were to pay them something in return. A part of food or clothes. That day I had my first hysterical laugh. Some eyes looked at me with a fit of slight anger in them. I ignored.

The intra-community disputes began decreasing but what went unnoticed was Ruhan’s superiority. People blindly followed his decisions and accepted the solutions that he provided.

I was beginning to have a Déjà vu and this time it was for real.

Soon, he allotted some people to look after the trades and the houses. They eventually started getting addressed as ‘Ruhan’s men’. A month later, he had them dig up a few pits and wooden grills attached to them. He told his men to use them like prisons. He thought this would instil fear in the people and they’d stay in the discipline. Of course, some didn’t. People wronged. Trials were held out. People were found guilty and thrown in prison.

One day, Ruhan was found dead. People came to the conclusion that he died of old age, but the ones close to him didn’t agree. They suspected foul play. Then came Mahidi. Physically, the strongest man in our little settlement. “We need a new leader,” he announced. “I’m happy to take the place.”

Some of us raised questions as to why him. His sister then stepped up and spoke to the people, “You need someone fitter and stronger to watch over you. Ruhan was wise but fragile. His death is no surprise. My brother is strong. As for wisdom, I’ll work for the welfare of you beside him.”

And so, Mahidi and his sister became our new rulers. The first thing they did was convince people to give them and their men some of their food as they left their work and houses to work for the people. The taxes were imposed. I laughed my heart out that day.

I had been an onlooker all this while. Over the years things kept changing, and I just observed. I was not someone who would become a rebel and influence people with my thoughts about freedom. But to some extent, I did.

I had a habit of noting down minute details of the changes happening in the society, in my journal. This was something I had inherited from my father, capturing every detail and transforming them into words.

A few days later, after the new rulers had set their foot, robberies started taking place. Every day, a few things would go missing from people’s houses. Sometimes they were valuables, other times it was eatables. One such robbery happened at my house. I lost my mother’s jewels, some vegetables and surprisingly, my journal.

I wasn’t worried about it much because no one would ever try to peek into an old rugged book written with shabby handwriting.

The next day, I was called out to the ruler’s abode and confronted. I had no idea what all of this was about until I saw my book lying on the side table of Mahidi. So, these were the people who were hiring robbers to steal things.

The only thing I could sense was that the rulers felt threatened. By me. By my words. This was the third time that I laughed hysterically.

The next moment I found myself partially conscious on the cold floor of the prison.

They’d even felt threatened enough by my laughter that they broke my jaw before throwing me in this pit.

How would I not have laughed? The order was a funny thing. All the while living the kingdom, we kept thinking it was keeping us suppressed and bound. To an extent, it was. All of us wanted freedom from that. We got it. But the freedom was not only from suppression, but it was also from being kept in check.

A society can never last without order. Not until it is rid of indiscipline. Because the ones causing it would always have to be kept in check. And the strong will always misuse the truth of it.

Following the trend of human society, we come to know, that only the dominant of the fittest shall rule.

The spare piece of parchment that I always carried in my robes has finally come to use. This might just be my last entry in the journal, for I do not know what Mahidi and his sister will do of me. For now, I’ll sleep.

 

 

Collaborated/co-authored with 
Vatsal Thakore
Blog link: theinceptedpath.wordpress.com

A DUSK IN THE PARK.

A DUSK IN THE PARK.

His old brown coat mixed well with the surroundings as he entered the park. The brown trunks of the trees camouflaged the man who never wanted to be seen, anyway. He always found the hour of settling dusk as the most peaceful one. People returning home from their hectic days. Children winding up the playfulness of the park. The elderlies taking them back home. But among those, there were certain he always had his observing eyes for. The ones for whom dusk was the beginning of being in the park.

Today when he settled on a wooden bench, he saw a boy quietly sitting in the darkest corner of the park. ‘Must be a teenager waiting to meet his friends,’ he thought. But there was nobody to be seen around. Nor the boy had an electronic gadget in his hand, unlike many other boys of his age. From the boy’s expression, he could make out that he was sulking.

‘But what has this young lad got to be sad about,’ he wondered. ‘Maybe he scored fewer marks in mathematics, but students these days hardly care about their grades. Maybe his mom scolded him. Maybe he has had a fight with his teenage girlfriend or a crush. Just maybe, he has no friends, been a victim of bullying in his school and needs someone to talk to. Maybe.’

Shifting his gaze, he produced a tobacco pipe from his coat pocket, put it in his mouth and lit it. The first whiff of its smoke made him oblivious to the presence of the boy for a while. At that moment, the park keeper walked past him towards the centre of the sitting area and turned on the last of the lights that were left to be turned on. As faintly as they lit, hardly making much of a difference, they might’ve mattered to the lonely keeper who had to spend his fifteen minutes of each day, walking the perimeter of the park, turning on the lights of every segment. ‘He has a strange look on his face’, the man thought. ‘Peaceful. He looks peaceful. How? Bit of a masochist if you ask me. Who stays peaceful at a job like this, being alone in this dark?’

As the darkness was rising overhead, the park gradually got deserted. This time, he kept the tobacco pipe aside and lit a cigarette. He was not sitting any far from the gate when he realised that a car had screeched to halt and a young woman had walked out of it. With her long strides, she had already entered the park within seconds and started running. He smirked at the irony of her visit. ‘If you wanted to exercise so diligently, shouldn’t you have walked from your home which is four blocks away from the park?’ His generation was so different from these youngsters who were only fooling themselves with this fraudulent act.  

For a moment he only kept staring on the now empty path. He desperately wished to find someone new in the park just so he could have something to shift his attention to. On eventually failing, he heard his worst thought, ‘Was it worth?’

It’s impossible to not have this thought in contemplation, in loneliness. A man can sit by himself and try not to wander to the same dark places of his mind; he can sit and keep observing the surroundings, the people around him, but for how long? There comes a moment when eventually the consciousness loses the battle and gives in to the one question that’d keep haunting it. In this man’s case, ‘Was it worth?’

However, he’d certainly find solace in these dark alleys of the park on a wintery night. The temperature was dropping but he still sat there, on the cold wooden bench. He usually walks around or two around the park and then settles down, but today, he realised that he has aged. His frozen knees couldn’t tread further. His breaths grew deeper and he now thought he shouldn’t have smoked up. Remembering the things that he shouldn’t have done, the list went endlessly.

‘Years ago, when I’d started losing more than I could bear, it was my choice to hold on to the few remaining ones. Loneliness scared me. But trying to lace my fingers with a closed fist scared me even more. So when everything began being unreciprocated and I decided to snip every thread, it was my choice. Yet now I’m contemplating, thinking if I should’ve held on, no matter how fake they became, just for the sake of company. Months have passed and I still see them when I sit here every day in this empty park. I see the disturbed teenage boy, presumably stressed over his broken relations; the park keeper, trying to find the little forceful positivity in his dead-end job and the lady, too keen on pretending to be fit. I’ve told myself over and over again that they’re not there. It’s just me seeing what I once was. Someone disturbed over a relationship, someone trying to stay positive in the meaningless job and someone as keen as a young girl finding joy in physical exertions.

I can say that in my head every day and yet I will see them every single day in this dark empty park, telling me that loneliness has driven me mad.’

Lunatic as they inferred him to be, but he was just like the people, finding solace in the darkness of the park in their heart which was once lively.  

 

Collaborated/co-authored with 
Vatsal Thakore
Blog link: theinceptedpath.wordpress.com

Standing at the door of a Brothel!

Standing at the door of a Brothel!

That night, I reached the brothel earlier than usual.

Brothels are a lot like chameleons. They look different during different times of the day.

Once the night has set in, brothels look like a marketplace of sorts. Different kinds of skins are put on display, and the customers carefully choose one (sometimes, more) depending on what they prefer. The music always plays loudly, mostly to mask the noises coming from the many rooms. Even the noises vary. Sometimes, it’s the general rocking of rickety beds and bed-posts. At other times, the bawling of the fatherless babies of the prostitutes. Occasionally, it’s the sharp cry of a young virgin forcefully entered.

But that night, I had reached the brothel before any other customer. The place was surprisingly clean, and mostly empty. A young woman was sleeping near the doorway, presumably tired after a hard day’s work, cooking and cleaning for the residents of that brothel.

“You are early today,” the owner remarked. She was a thin, pale woman, dressed in a simple saree and her hair neatly tied in a bun. Without her dark red saree and all the make-up that I usually saw her in, she was hardly recognisable.

“I was told that the early birds get the prettiest and youngest worms,” I replied, looking around to see if any pretty young ones were close.

“Pretty ones don’t reach here. Young ones, yes. How young would you go?” she asked me, getting up from her chair.

“Umm…” I wondered what to reply. I liked them young, but how young was I willing to go, was something I had never considered.

 It was difficult for me because I never got an appropriate choice. People like me are hard to find. It’s not that I have been a choosy kid, but the truth is I have never been given a choice.

Even as a child, I did not get to pick the children who played with me. I was always a choice. All my past lovers left me because I was always an option for them and not a “priority” or a “preference”. I have been treated like a leftover food item which is never given a second thought before discarding. Thus, for a person like me decide to choose anything becomes difficult.

However, retreating from the flashback, I registered that the owner was still gazing at me looking for an answer.  Even though she knew that I didn’t have a choice being the only “girl” looking out for a “girl”, she eyed me questionably. And this was the harshest truth that I had to accept.  I had no choice on my sexuality. Therefore, as usual, I couldn’t answer and unlike any other customer, paid her without receiving any service.

 I had been early to brothel most of the nights, in the fear of getting caught. But today was the earliest.

/* Backstory Alert:

So, a few years ago, somewhere around 2016, I took part in the writer’s search organised by theanonymouswriter.com. Having cleared the first round, I was assigned the task for the completion of a story in the second round. The story you read below is the second round task and the content written in red is provided by the esteemed writers of theanonymouswriter.com and the content in purple is written by me. Also, TMI but I cleared this round as well, making it to the third and the final round for the writer’s search however not clearing it. The story is fictitious and holds no relevance to any person or entity living or dead.

Now that you’ve read the story above and the backstory, I hope it is relatable. */  

Featured image credits: http://testofwill.blogspot.com/2006/12/dark-house.html