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A woman who never felt the world belonged to her, decides to become one with the world.
One of the top 5 entries for April’s muse of the month writing cue, “Today the world is a little more my own.” (from Punishment in Kindergarten, Kamala Das).
She had walked down these roads a few thousand times. But it was only today that she looked. Silky green leaves peeping out of withered gray branches. A burst of life in a world that she always thought was dead. Just like her insides.
Her world was so dark that she had long given up trying to find her way across it. She could only put one foot in front of the other. Often, she would smash against cold, impenetrable walls, and stumble off in some other unknown direction. She fell all the time, and lay bruised and bleeding. Nobody would come rushing, grab her hand, pull her to her feet and ask breathlessly if she was alright.
Her father probably would have, if he had come back home that night twelve years back. If her mother had not died giving birth to her, she would have whispered in her ears that the brightest star in the sky smiling down at her was her father. Instead, even before she had learnt enough words to know the meaning of what she was hearing, she knew that her father was killed in a gang fight and he deserved to lay in a pool of blood by the river.
Today, she was free to do whatever she wanted. She didn’t have to walk into that musty room and lie on the bed with one leg smaller than the other three. Today her back wouldn’t hurt as it scraped against the hard wood covered only with a thin mattress. She wouldn’t have to stare at the bare orange bulb to take away the pain. Today, there would be no pain.
She stood on the old bridge and thought about her world. Not the dark corner below the staircase at her uncle’s house where she used to sleep, her aunt’s rough, hard palms stinging her cheeks. Or the deserted roads, cringing under the old tree, hugging her small sack of clothes to her chest. She didn’t think about any of that. Instead, she thought about how different the world looked from here. It was not black. It was golden!
At the horizon, the unapologetically bright green trees waved at her happily, their red and yellow and magenta blossoms blowing kisses her way.
As she watched, the sun put up a brilliant performance. He beamed proudly and spread his wings of fire against the unnaturally blue sky. The clouds blushed and glowed with pleasure as his wings caressed them. He paused for effect, and burst into colors she never knew existed – red and gold and yellow and purple – one seamlessly blending into the next. As she delightedly applauded, the sun gallantly bowed and disappeared backstage behind ink blue curtains. A flock of black birds glided across the sky to mark the end of the first act.
The silver moon fleeted in gracefully to take his place. So obviously aware of her irresistible charm, she shimmered and gleamed and danced with her thin veil of clouds. She scattered silver dust on the murky water under the bridge, so that the river looked as if it were a giant glow-worm nest, and it made happy little waves, clearly excited at being included in the grand performance.
And all of it was just for her. The world was making a last attempt at proving to her that it was not such a bad place, and it was making the most of the chance of awing her.
There was so much beauty around, that it filled her up and made her hollow, frail, scarred, cigarette-pocked body feel desirable. The beauty kept growing inside her, till it burst forth in the form of sparkling happy tears and the first smile of her life. Just as the cool evening breeze brushed her hair and put a spot of pink on her parched cheeks, the moon smeared the last of her shine over her tresses.
As she stood on the bridge, she was so surreally beautiful, that the world looked at her and sighed. It had come together to give her a farewell embrace. And to welcome her at the same time.
She placed a hand gently on her stomach and whispered, Isn’t this world gorgeous? Isn’t it so much better than the other one? Let’s go live here. And she plunged headlong into it. The wind wailed, the moon caught its breath and the water opened up its arms.
The world became her own, the family and friends she never had,the very first time she opened her eyes and looked at it. And at the same meeting, she became the world’s – so completely that she was one with it, and her soul exploded into a million gleaming pieces and joined the stars.
Pic credit: Stephanie Booth (Used under a CC license)
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"I chose to go out into the remote, wild, unknown, and make it home," says entrepreneur Kiranjeet Ahluwalia Chaturvedi, who owns Birdsong & Beyond.
The story of my mountain home Birdsong & Beyond started taking shape in 2009, on the internet, the way many stories do these days.
My childhood fascination for a life in the Himalayas led to an internship with a central Himalayan NGO instead of a much prized corporate assignment. But when they offered me a full-time job, I refused. I was overcome by fear and a lack of confidence.
My other longings pulled me away – the longing to fit in, to earn validation from others. By my mid-30s, with all the trappings of a middle-class urban life in place, the call of the snows couldn’t be ignored anymore. So I got to work on it with clearer intentions and a stronger sense of what I needed for myself, and why.
Many Indian elderly are firm believers in enslaving a daughter-in-law in the name of tradition which is actually a tradition of oppression and not of religious faith.
Albeit, the popular culture has interpreted scriptures as suggesting that Kanyadaan is the supreme form of donation given to someone, the connotation that the word donation alludes to definitely objectifies the girl.
Even when the exegesis justify the act of giving away the daughter, considering it a ritual to mark the initiation of the daughter into her husband’s gotra and her becoming the part of his family tree.
There is no denial of the fact that this initiation is not required on the part of the groom thereby formally denoting the end of the filial ties with the daughter as it was popularly instructed to the bride during the Vidai ceremonies:
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