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Superwoman and her Superman

Few days back, I came across the news headline about the former President of US Bill Clinton’s affair with a 22 year old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. And it came to light after two decades where Lewinsky has gone from a political punchline to anti-bullying advocate. Though Clinton was a popular President even at the height of the scandal, during which he was impeached but not removed from the office and his reputation has largely recovered.

But Lewinsky, now 44, said that she was bullied and slut-shamed by the media for years after the affair was made public. In an essay for Vanity Fair’s March issue, Lewinsky said that the #Metoo Movement made her begin to grapple with the power dynamics at play in her relationship with Clinton.

“Now at 44, I am beginning to consider the implications of the power differential that were so vast between a President and a White House intern. I am beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance, the idea of Consent might well be rendered moot.” she wrote. “But it’s also complicated and I know one thing for certain: part of what has allowed me to shift is knowing I am not alone anymore and for that I am grateful.”

Recently Monica Lewinsky walked out of an interview at Jerusalem after the host brought up the question regarding Bill Clinton’s apology. And what she did was the correct response.

Later she explained, “I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not to allow others to control their narrative.”

Welcoming to our Bhartiya Sabhyata Sanskriti or Samaj, it’s time we stop worshipping the Superwoman. She became a Superwoman because she is married to a super archaic, super manipulative, super selfish idiot.

“Rohit Bhaiya’s wife is a Superwoman!”

“Don’t you remember her? She comes up randomly in all conversations. Your husband’s chachi’s mausi’s grandson Rohit Bhaiya’s wife – The Ideal Bahu! Everybody loves her!

“She gets up at 5 a.m. everyday and cooks breakfast. No not your definition of breakfast- bread and omelette, you lazy shortcut specialist! She makes Poha for bhaiya, Idli for her in-laws and also aloo paratha for kids. She packs the lunch boxes for everybody and also goes to office! What did you think? You are the only ‘career oriented woman’ in the family? She cooks dinner for everyone after coming from work. She then cleans the kitchen and goes to bed. Plus, Bhaiya loves her so much that he only likes Rotis cooked by Bhabi. Not only this, she is always smiling like Laughing Buddha!”

Sounds so familiar na? While every married woman may have been given the example of Rohit Bhaiya’s wife to highlight her inadequacy and miserable failure, nobody ever gives credit to Rohit Bhaiya for his wife’s achievements.

  • Rohit Bhaiya’s role in her Superwoman status

He gets up in the morning (by himself). He then gets ready (again by himself) after being served hot breakfast. He works hard all day,(poor guy). He comes back home and watches TV while admiring his wife as she takes care of the kids and 3 adults. He spends the weekends catching up with friends for a drink (while of course in awe of his Superwoman wife who manages his home and shares his finances so beautifully).

I think it’s high time we should acknowledge that Rohit Bhaiya has an important role in creating a Superwoman.

Behind every Superwoman, there is an inconsiderate man!

  • Best way to control a woman – put her on a pedestal

In our society, the most effective way to control a woman is to put her on a pedestal- “as an epitome of selflessness and sacrifice”. If Rohit Bhaiya’s wife’s daily routine makes you wonder if she is an unpaid full time maid, she is not! She is a glorified maid! Yes you read it right!

Instead of applauding her and putting pressure on her to flaunt and maintain her Superwoman Trophy, why can’t the likes of Rohit Bhaiya share some responsibilities to make her life easier? Or at least hire sufficient help so that she doesn’t have to do it all alone. Why should she slog like a Slave? But he doesn’t bother. It is her job after all. In addition to this, she gets perks of being married to him, such as being ‘allowed’ to work etc. What a lucky lady!

  • The Indian Man looking for the Ideal Wife to get married

A long time back, one of my friend had an unfortunate experience of interacting with a man for an arranged marriage setup and that was their first meeting. He asked her if hypothetically, would she take a few years off from work after having a child. She said that “I do not know how being a mother would feel like, so I really can’t say.”

That was an honest answer but it did not gratify his curiosity and he insisted. She said, “Probably not, because I love my job and it would be difficult to stay at home.” He complained, how women (these days) don’t understand that raising a family is extremely rewarding. It’s not a loss, rather a gain that would benefit her for lifetime. Plus, a professionally qualified women like her can find a job even after gap. She said him strictly that the rewards of parenting do not discriminate between men and women. Has he ever considered flexible hours post fatherhood to take care of his kids? To which he replied that mother’s ‘obviously’ share a stronger bond with children. She was shocked and enquired him that beyond breastfeeding is there anything that they cannot do for their child?

And at that point, he was getting very uncomfortable with the conversation. He said that women now a days have become too forward (whatever that means). He again asked her the original question like an unstoppable moron (this time wording it differently).

” Career is so important to you that you do not feel the necessity to take care of your family?”

“What if you die?” She questioned.

“Excuse me?”

“What if you die or we get divorced? Then I’ll have no job, no money. The love and affection will not suffice in feeding my kids. But being financially independent will.”

And she finally succeeded in shutting his mouth.

  • It should be her choice, not forced on her right!

Just to clarify, she took the argument to extreme. I have a lot of respect for women who stay at home and take care of their kids. I too am a stay at home mum. Before becoming a mother, I too was a working lady and my husband has always supported me in this. But there are some Superman outside who think that only they can fly and women are meant to stay at home. But let me clarify you, we stay at home mums are the homemakers. And only we have the right to make that choice. It should not be something that is naturally expected from us or forced on us by virtue of our gender.

If the mother chooses to stay at home, let us not ask her, ‘ But what do you do all the day?” like an idiot and give her examples of Rohit Bhaiya types’ wives who bring in money also. Being a mother and a home maker is a full time job and we do not need any salary for it. If she works, then also let us not make her compete with Rohit Bhaiya’s wife whose cleaning skills could potentially leave all janitors out of work. People like Rohit Bhaiya are inconsiderate of his wife’s needs but very cleverly and conveniently take advantage of their Superwoman.

There is no pride in being Rohit Bhaiya. So why should there be any shame in not being his wife?

Behind every Superwoman lies an Inconsiderate and Selfish man!

Certificates

Bhawna’s son Ritwik is going to school for the first time. Like every mother whose kid is going to stay away from home for so long, she is also going through a wave of emotions.

After coming back home, she sat in front of her computer and continued typing the story which she couldn’t complete yesterday. Oh! BTW Bhawna is a blogger. Her website is a high traffic one and every week she posts two blogs. What a fantastic writer she is! Along with the blogs; she is working on a book also. She goes to different events and has been awarded for her write ups also. Her husband Tarun always feels proud to introduce Bhawna as her wife and a writer. She speaks English so adroitly that Tarun’s colleagues also appreciate her. Moreover, Ritwik talks in English at such a little age and people around him always acknowledge Bhawna for this. That means, Bhawna talks to Ritwik in English and her mother tongue also. So, Bhawna is a powerful definition of an ideal woman.

But today, after Ritwik came back from school, Bhawna was nervous. All of a sudden,she is not happy with her achievements. She don’t know what to do and how to do. There is a contest going between her passion and her pragmatism. Well…Well…. Bhawna has to mention her qualification in her son’s school diary. So what??? There is nothing to be hesitant about it. She decides to wait till Tarun comes back from office.

” I know that one day I will have to answer my son. What will he think about me? That his Mom is an illiterate!” Bhawna almost cried.

“No, you are not illiterate. Who said that?? It’s just that you couldn’t continue your higher studies.” Tarun tried to convince her.

“But I don’t have certificates to prove my qualification and knowledge. The world demands certificates; knowledge has no proof but how will I make Ritwik understand all this? He is so small.”

“Do you really feel that you have to explain Ritwik about you and your qualification? No Bhawna, he is growing up in an environment where he will understand that Knowledge is Power, not certificates.”

“But what will I write in his diary? Intermediate? What will his teachers think about me?”

“Bhawna, you are a writer. Your job is to enlighten the society through your pen not your certificates. Your stories speak about you not the qualification. You are Ritwik’s first teacher.”

There was a ray of hope in Bhawna’s eyes, a confidence of being a writer, a mother and overall a woman who now knows how to create magic and raise a able bodied society.

In India,certificates are like lion’s shared. I know they matter a lot but they are not everything. Just imagine if Dhobi has to show his certificates to prove that he washes clothes neatly, Kaamwali bai has to bring her certificates along with her and Amazon, Flipkart delivery boys have to carry their certificates to prove that they deliver the product safely.

My God! then every Mommy in the universe has to show her certificate of motherhood to her husband to prove that she can be a good mother

The Perfect Husband

We were sitting at the tiny kitchen table, sipping our coffee and absorbed in our own private thoughts.
Two months had passed since Vikram’s demise and I thought I had started picking up life’s threads slowly. It was tough considering the fact that Vikram and I were married for 12 years and were dating each other for six years before that. My best friend, Mary, was sitting across me, staring intently at my face.

“So, how are you coping? Has Rihanna gone back to school?” She asked after a while.

“Yes, she started last week”, I replied while washing the dirty dishes at the sink.

“And you? Have you moved on Jenny?”

I sighed as all the good memories that I shared with Vikram flooded back to my mind. And there were plenty of them.

“I am trying but I need time. I miss him so much. He was not only a perfect husband but also a good father.”

“I think it’s time we took a look at Vikram’s life insurance papers. Get it sorted out, because the longer you delay it, the messier it becomes”, Mary said in a matter-of-fact tone.

A wave of irritation rushed in my mind because I was in no state to look at financial matters and even less prepared to go over the cumbersome insurance papers. But a few moments later I realized that Mary was right. At some point of time I would have to deal with it.

I sighed as I walked over to the study room where I knew Vikram kept all the important papers. The truth was, after Vikram’s death my life had come to an abrupt halt. I would stand near the window, staring at the noisy, busy street below, where life continued for all other people as usual. Life is like a wheel that turns and turns and turns: it never stops and stands still. But my life had come to a halt and I felt incapable of moving forward again.

As I rummaged through the papers inside Vikram’s work cabinet, my eyes fell on a white envelope. I recognized the familiar, scrawny handwriting and my hands that held the lengthy letter trembled slightly.

Dear Jenny,

I hope that when you read this letter I am long gone, for I am a coward, my dear wife. I cannot look into your eyes and see the love and tenderness for me replaced by disdain and loathing.

I know you think of me as the perfect husband, you trust me and you believe that I can never err. That makes it even harder for me to confess. I committed a sin and the burden of this secret has scorched my soul for so long.

It happened when we were going through a rough patch. Rihanna was just a few months old and you were going through postpartum depression. I hated coming back home when you were so irritable and moody, so I took to spending late nights at office. This was the time I met Meera. She had just joined our office and I knew that she liked me because of her more-than-friendly overtures.

The more I distanced myself from you, the closer I became to Meera. It had become a ritual for me to drop her home every night.

One night she invited me to her house for coffee. And I accepted. My subconscious mind knew what would happen in her house, but somehow I couldn’t stop myself. We slept together and I spent the night at her home. The next day I realized what a fool I was to jeopardize the wonderful marriage that we had for few moments of passion. I was terrified of telling you the truth. The guilt of cheating on you has burnt me every day. I vowed to work even harder on our marriage.

I know that no excuse would seem plausible for the sin I committed, but I pray that you find the heart within you to forgive me. I…”

I sat in the chair next to the cabinet and crumpled the letter, unable to read any more. I don’t remember for how long I remained like that but a million thoughts were running amok in my mind.

I had trusted Vikram blindly and never thought him capable of adultery. Did this letter change everything that we had built for years in our marriage? Could I forgive Vikram after knowing the truth?

Strangely I felt more at peace and calm than before. I knew that it was time for the wheels of my life to move again. As I shred the letter and threw it in the bin, I knew it was time for the past to be buried.

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Dreams of an Indian Girl

I am a girl in the mid 20s. I honestly think that being well educated has its own pros and cons. During interviews when I was asked, “Where do you ‘wish’ to see yourself after ten years?” the very first question that came to my mind was “Should I answer this obvious question which our society has decided for us or do I have the right to wish for something I’ve always dreamt of ? I ended up saying, “Taking care of my kids, my husband-cum-kid and his family.” This can be a brutally honest answer because this is the very system we have established and this system is so strong that if you want to demolish it either your family will suffer or you yourself.

Ladies, if you choose your dreams over your loved ones, trust me, you will never be able to cherish that success. No! No! Don’t take me wrong, I am not against taking care of your family, but I am just raising a question as to why marriage comes with a heap of responsibilities for women only.

I have seen many young spirits who were provided with a great education, only for the holy purpose of marriage. However, when it comes to marriage, the common requirement is, “I just need someone who will take care of my family and me, that’s it.”

That is it? Seriously? And that is when I realised that we all have grown with a great Sanskaar called compromise and sacrifice! If she doesn’t have that Sanskar, she won’t be considered a good daughter, a good wife or mother and an ideal Bahu. For girls, each and every relationship brings along lots of answerabilities , especially after marriage.

Here I want to ask all the gentleman roaming around and looking for educated, independent brides; will you take care of yourself, your kids and your family while your wife is busy chasing her dreams? Will you be an equal participant in this kind of marriage system? Will you be able to take care of your whole house without your wife?

Can young women in India truly dream? Or are their dreams sacrificed at the altar of marriage?

Note: ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ have been used in the colloquial Indian sense of young women and men looking to marry/considered marriageable by their families. The views expressed in the article are entirely my own perspective.

Abnormal Girl

You are a normal child

My mother would always tell me

You have hands and legs, eyes and nose

Ears and mouth

You can think and you smile

A beautiful smile

Yet, when I walked into school

New or old

I was stared at

As if I had something

That only they could see

You are a normal child, my dear

You should not pay attention to them

My mother would assure me

And so I would march ahead

Pacified for now

Playing games, games of a teenager child

Learning things, growing up

Like a normal child

Until I felt the stares turn

My back, again

I would rush back

Into my mother’s safe cocoon

Wanting to be shielded

From those stares

Those whispers

Those comments

My mother would assure me again

Push me to fight the world

And not be coward

People say what they want to say

You know what you are

You are a normal child

You should be confident

She would say

I knew too

That she was right

And so I would dust my fears

And face up to the world again

Unmindful of the stares

Unmindful of the bias

I would work hard to show them

I was worthy too, I was normal

As my mother said, I should

Yet, the stares never went away

The comments never died

The judgements never ceased

Despite what I did

The tag always hung on me

“Oh! That acid thrown face?”

I was a normal girl, but a scalded one

The characterless one

Who might have ignited that demon

For the fair world

And normal was something

I could never take for granted again.

The 3 B’s

Don’t judge a woman on the basis of the three B’s Bindi, Bangles and Bichhiya( toe ring). Wearing these ‘symbols’ of marriage is up to her. The imperative word here is: Choice.

Yes, these three adornments are the quintessential signs of being married. You love them or hate them, you are bound to wear them. Why? Because that is the unwritten rule of marriage; that is what our Moms, their Moms, our Moms- in- law and their Moms- in- law did.

I am married for 6 years now….and very happily. 6 years and one kid later, I am still being questioned by well-meaning aunties, friends, house-helpers and sometimes even strangers about my refusal to wear these important ornamental pieces signifying my marital status. These three pieces are- Bindi, Bangles and Bichhiya.

I used to get intimidated by their scrutinizing gaze and I became defensive- my responses used to range from being allergic (not mentally but physically) to them, husband disapproving of it to simply forgetting!!

I guess with age and experience, I have become braver. Now I am direct- I simply tell them that I don’t want to and it’s quite amusing to see their shell-shocked expressions. Their body language coupled with the look on their face is enough to indicate me about the judgements they are quietly passing about me in their heads. Cerebrally, they have declared me as being too ‘forward’ or too ‘modern’ or too ‘mannerless’ and I am sure they get quite concerned about what are my morals and what values I would be passing on to my kid.

I have heard people saying that refusal to wear these significant ornaments is because married women try to appear ‘unmarried’. I somehow fail to understand this logic when I constantly see women carrying their kids in their arms (or kids dragging behind mother or some mothers running after the kids and in umpteen such, often hilarious positions)- the epitome of being married. and for those who don’t have kids, the husbands are often arm-in-arm.

Some also suggest (the very concerned ones) that we should wear these because there is a lot of science behind this…. Maybe there is or maybe not. I don’t know and have never bothered to find out either. It’s like a vegetarian refusing to consume eggs albeit knowing the benefits ; for no science can be bigger than one’s predilection.

I am not a crusader against these ornaments, these are actually quite attractive. A matching Bindi with a lovely saree can never go wrong after all. What we need to be against is the culture of ‘you should’ , the ‘culture of compulsion‘. For nothing should be forced upon us, whether it is by virtue of a relationship or a custom. I love putting a small Bindi on my forehead but can’t ignore my sensitive skin. Who on the earth want their face full of rashes?

What I am arguing for is having the right to choose, the right to wear what we want, when we want and how we want. It’s one’s personal choice- let us learn to respect it. And it is not just about ornaments, its about our comfortable zone and about so many other choices that women make. I love wearing bangles but I won’t wear it at the cost of the safety of my kid just to follow the custom as it might hurt my kid while I’m holding him. Iy doesn’t make me feel comfortable while writing or working. Likewise wearing a Bichhiya is also accepted but I don’t wear it as it hurts my toe and I am not comfortable with them when I put on my shoes.

What we should not tolerate are the judgements we tend to pass because of what one is or is not wearing. Let’s broaden our horizons a bit and start respecting women irrespective of whether they choose to work or not, get married or not, have kids or not, to cook or not, to have long hair or short, choose to wear a saree or a skirt. There are enough people to pull us down – our patriarchal society is unfortunately full of them. As women, the least we can do is not to pull one another down.

So to begin with, let us stop judging women who don’t display their marital status on their toes, forehead or wrists. They don’t love and care their husband any less than those who choose to wear these. They are as committed to the long-life and well being of their husband as much as any other woman is. I refused to accept and believe that such minor elements can be the cornerstones of a healthy and happy marriage.

Wear them because you want to, you love to and not because someone somewhere said that ‘you have to’. After all our marital status is not resting on these coats of arms!!

Filmy Pregnancy

Your odyssey as a mother could get a real wacky start, if you are a girl who has grown up on set stereotypes. Stereotypes that are so theatrically heralded by our Hindi movies and daily soaps.

From the day we decided we were ready for a baby, I started fantasizing about myself ‘passing out’ dramatically in the middle of something. Wishing earnestly, that the ‘who’s who’ of the family would be around to summon the gyno. In a very filmy way, the doctor would then announce the good news to my ‘not so shy’ hubby. How I would go red, blushing and choking with emotions, and have the remainder audience putting a kaalateeka on the back of my ear at the breaking news.

Alas! when it actually happened, there wasn’t an iota of drama I was dying for. What changed colours was just a damn strip and a very ‘matter- of -fact’ doctor. Much to my displeasure, she made it sound like a routine thing while writing medicines and listing out all the do’s and don’ts.

The morning after and all the mornings in the rest of the nine months were anything but ‘sick’. Every night, I would sleep imagining that the next morning I would wake up to a whole lot of melodrama. Me running to the loo, throwing up and hassled hubby and all family running around and me lapping up all attention.

Months passed and much to my disbelief, not a single day when I woke up to the ‘morning sickness‘ that was meant to be the major signs that authenticated a pregnancy as per the Hindi movies and soaps. And despite the pot of a belly that I was carrying ahead of me at 5 months, I always had a doubt whether I was actually ‘carrying’. To top it, my gyno never found anything alarming and would always laugh away my concern.

Contrary to any sickness, every night I would stealthily head towards the fridge and gobble down the cones of chocolate and butterscotch ice creams. So great were the Hunger Pangs and Chinese food cravings. No wonder, by the end of those 9 months, I almost resembled a dinosaur. From a delicate 50 plus, I was hovering around 70. And there wasn’t anything utterly feminine or angelic about this ‘mum-to-be‘ frame. Nothing came even close to the aura around a pregnant woman that was so repeatedly mentioned in the plethora of books on pregnancy and motherhood that I had looked up in these 9 months.

As if the 9 months were not enough, the finale was a grand twister. It had nothing of the exemplary theatrical stuff I was so longing for. Yes, it had everything that laid to rest my cravings for drama forever. There wasn’t any baby almost ‘about to be dropped’ situation. I wasn’t being wheeled just well within ‘cut-off-time’ into the hospital. Neither were any of my family members including dear prim-and-proper hubby running around in their most scruffy state. That was so wicked me but I had thought atleast on that D day, the world would see his unkempt look and I would be mighty amused. But, that was seemingly too far fetched a fantasy, perhaps.

It was the day, when I decided to get a nice haircut before I visit the Labour room. After coming back from the salon, I felt mild hints of recurring pain. But wasn’t sure of it and the cool and by then ‘even more well read than the doctor‘ hubby heard out a few symptoms and declared them as a false alarm. It kept on increasing and Thank God I decided to visit the hospital without thinking about the consequences. The drama wasn’t over yet as my hubby with such a sportsmanship spirit went to play badminton that day and I was left with no option except waiting. Finally, he decided to come back after 2 long hours and still asking, “Is it true?”

Once I reached the hospital, they ejected out a lot of emotions too along with the rest of the stuff while checking the dilation and effacement and put me on a drip. It was here that the drama unveiled. And I certainly wasn’t craving for ‘this’ kind of drama all this while. I was strapped to a device showing the pattern of my pains and contractions, as if I won’t be knowing otherwise. The pains followed the peak-valley pattern. The first few hours were fairly decent when I was at home but after 2 hours, my shrieks and sighs went beyond decent decibel level. In the last one and half hours of the gross 6 hours, (including the pain that started at home) before the baby decided that the mother had had enough it was like the ‘workout’ of my life. At the end of which arrived a pink coloured, all swollen baby not resembling any of Johnson baby pictures that hung around the whole house for 9 months. Honestly, I felt he resembled a cute friendly Bird! And trust me within 3 hours of reaching hospital, he came out as a King.

As I saw him being cleaned while I was being stitched, I experienced the moment of that ultimate bliss which was no match to any of the scenes in Hindi movies or soaps. When I held him for the first time,( after 6 hours) I was numb and my emotions completely froze for moments. It was as if whatever was left inside my belly churned for those few seconds that I held him. With closed eyes and tears sliding down from the corners, as I savoured every burst of laughter and joyous shriek reaching my ear, I suddenly felt a warm familiar hand stroking my forehead. Standing there was the ‘newborn’ Daddy all exhausted but so relieved.

Both of us laughed, eyes brimming but words completely failing. Few precious moments, that perhaps made up for all the day’s pain and also for any drama that was lacking in the preceding 9 months.

Looking back, deep inside I have felt so blessed at the smooth nine months and the smoother finale. But, we have laughed our lungs out of umpteen times at my version and naive expectations of those 9 months with family and friends. Dear baby is 20 months now and keeps us in his command with his smile.

Smile

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

—–Thich Nhat Hansh

Well according to Wikipedia, smile is a facial expression formed primarily by flexing the muscles at the sides of the mouth and is believed that it takes about 42 muscles to smile. Isn’t that interesting??

It’s always a rough beginning to my day when I can’t wake up in the morning. Thanks to my dear son who loves to play with me till one o’clock late at night. And the most unexpected thing is that he does so after completing his power nap from 11 p.m to 12 p.m. In the morning, I feel too lazy and I literally drag myself out of the bed in order to get ready for the day. When I come back to my room, I see Bunny(dear son) flashing me a dazzling smile that sticks there for the entire time I am in the room and I can’t help but smile back. In fact, I even catch myself smiling while changing his diapers And suddenly, my day doesn’t seem so bad and I go ahead with a grin on my face; feeling as though I have slipped on a pair of rose-coloured glasses. So the lesson turns out that, when I smile, the world smiles back.

Scientists and spiritual teachers also agree to the fact that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits our health. It activates the release of neuropeptides that work towards fighting off stress. Smile affects our body also as it is contagious and makes us look attractive, reliable, relaxed and strong. However, when we see a person smiling, we actually feel rewarded. This is because a study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. Too much Biology.

Now looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favour. We are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of us to release feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in our brain, activate reward centres, making us more attractive and increasing our chances of living longer and having a healthier life.

Most of my mornings start as a complete mess and anyone in my shoes would be frowning by the time they have their breakfast. We can’t always control what happens to us, but I am 100% confident that gracing your face with a smile can seriously change your internal and external experience. Smile is something that should be worn often. So make it a priority to surround yourself with people, places and things that brighten up your day. Be sure to look people in the eye and show them your pearly white teeth. The world is simply a better place when you smile!!

Love Thyself

Self-love is not being selfish because you can’t truly love another until you know how to love yourself and to fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness. We all have moments where we feel self-conscious whether its upon seeing that we don’t fit in our pants anymore or we have a bad day. But there are many people who lack self-love, their life is plagued by insecurity and lower self-esteem. And that is such a sad way of living.

When we love ourself, we will definitely have more emotional stability. We won’t pay heed to other’s talk and won’t seek validation and approval from others. We can motivate ourselves to be able to brush off criticism, judgement and negativity from our lives. This is because self-love allows us to deal with life’s challenges better.

Many times, we hold ourselves back from what we really want, due to fear of what others will think. But when we truly love ourselves,that won’t happen anymore or at least not as much. Actually to have a healthy and fair relationship, everyone needs to love themselves as it can resolve the conflict more easily and make the relationship more productive. Loving and appreciating ourselves helps to improve our lives and to do greater things. In this way, we will feel more confident about achieving your goals and won’t let society to hold us back.Trust me some confidence and self-love can go a long way!!

Survivor

Erica was a widow who lived with her only son. Her son Alex was all of six when his father Nathan suddenly left them all alone. She was a cheerful lady but on hearing about Nathan’s sudden demise, she was shattered. Nathan was a firefighter who died on duty. Erica at a young age was at once burdened with all the family responsibilities.

Two years passed by and Erica had grown to be a confident and high spirited lady. She was employed in a local hospital as a nurse and Alex had already turned eight. In these two years, she had learnt to balance her life well and was taking good care of her son.

One day, while she was in the hospital she heard a voice from behind,” Hey Erica, how are you? And how is Alex doing?”, It was Bryan, a good old friend of Nathan; whom Erica had known. They both had worked together and Bryan used to visit their place. On seeing Bryan, Erica couldn’t control herself and started crying. He was wearing the same firefighting uniform as Nathan. Bryan consoled her and asked her for a cup of coffee to which she agreed. Few days passed by; Erica and Bryan started meeting often and became quick friends. Bryan too genuinely cared about Erica and Alex. His visits became more often to their place. He would stop by at night and sleep at their house after a busy day’s work. Erica too didn’t mind this; rather she was happy as Alex had found a father like figure in Uncle Bryan.

As Bryan and Erica’s relationship grew to more than mere friendship, Bryan one day proposed Erica to marry him. He tried to convince her about Alex’s upbringing and other requirements. But Erica to his surprise, denied the proposal as she never wanted Alex to question about their marriage; after all he was only 8 years old. How could he relate and accept all this? She knew Alex loved Uncle Bryan a lot but might never accept him as his father. Seeing Bryan’s further advances, Erica realised it was time for her to signal him. Bryan kept on convincing Erica for one long year but she would have none of it. She in turn tried to reason Bryan to leave them all alone and go away from their lives; but Bryan being the nagging type, would time and again turn up on Erica and Alex at queer places. Alex was too small to understand the situation his mother was in. Erica while being in fear of the consequences that would be in store was also fully aware of the circumstances she would put herself and her son in if she didn’t stop Bryan at this point. One fine day, Erica mentally decided that was it. She mustered up courage and finally let go of all her fears about the consequences that her actions might unfold. The same day Bryan again turned up to see Erica at her garage. Erica seeing Bryan once again, could no longer tolerate his uncosy advances and slapped him tightly. He was at once aghast. He had least expected such a turn of events. Erica could clearly see Bryan’s eyes turn red. She could feel the conviction in his eyes to someday exact revenge from her.

Meanwhile, several months had passed by and Erica had forgotten about all those incidents. Somehow she had convinced Alex and together they had moved on. It was Alex’s birthday on the day and Erica had planned to throw a grand party. She had invited everyone in her friend circle. Guests had started pouring in before the cake cutting ceremony. Erica, dressed beutifully in an evening gown, stood by the door to personally welcome all. As Alex was about to cut the cake the doorbell rang. Almost all of her invited guests were already present; Erica wondered who might be at the door. She went up to open it. And to her utter disbelief, there stood Bryan. Against her wishes, she invited him in as she didn’t want any nuisance in front of the other guests. Bryan had a large bouquet of fresh red roses; contrary to the occasion. Bryan came in and settled among the crowd.

Alex cut the cake and the party went on. After the cake cutting ceremony, Bryan wanted to talk to Erica in person. He had always wanted to continue his friendship and was in search of answers since the incident. He was waiting for a hance and as soon as Erica went inside her room, Bryan came from behind and suddenly closed the door shut. Alex meanwhile came searching for his mother. Standing at a distance, he could see his Mom and Uncle Bryan through the glass window argue and quarrel brutally with each other. He could feel the animosity brewing. And then, all of a sudden Uncle Bryan pushed his Mom to the wall. All this was unbearable for young Alex.

15 years had passed Alex was now a grown up and handsome 24 year old man. He was pursuing a photography course in LA. He was the most dashing guy in his college and his sparkling azure eyes could easily attract any girl. He was in love with a girl called Carolyn; his school friend. He had never dared to propose her and that day he was finally going to swear his love for her. After college hours, he asked Carolyn for a cup of coffee to which she agreed. At the coffee shop, Alex proposed Carolyn and to his surprise Carolyn said ‘yes’. It was the happiest day of Alex’s life as her nod meant they could hang out more often and he could get closer to her.

A few days later, it was Alex’s 25th birthday and he had invited all his friends over to his place. Carolyn was there too. Alex and Carolyn cut the birthday cake together and kissed each other. After the party was over and friends had gone, Alex requested Carolyn to stay back. He took Carolyn inside his room and shut the door. Alex’s behaviour seemed odd to Carolyn but she didn’t mind and his actions went unopposed. He opened his cupboard and took out a gift-wrapped box and gifted it to her. Carolyn was surprised; after all it was Alex’s birthday. But without giving any further thoughts, she unboxed it and to her amazement, inside it shone a beautiful diamond pendant necklace. Out of sheer ecstasy and happiness, she asked Alex to help her in wearing it. Alex went behind her back with a sheepish smile. He put the necklace around her neck and suddenly tightened it with full force. Carolyn started suffocating and tried to defend and free herself from Alex’s clutches. He hit her, pushed her on the bed and slapped her. Alex had already locked the door earlier; shutting off the only escape route for her. He cornered her in the room. The cries coming out from behind the door would not attract any attention in that solitary place……. Alex showed no remorse and raped Carolyn brutally!Alex looked eerily content.

After about half an hour, Carolyn got up with all the scratches on her body and many a tear on her clothes. She tearfully enquired Alex,” why did you do this? I had trusted you“.

“This is what your Dad, Uncle Bryan had done to my Mom Erica 15 years back today. When I was only 9 years old, I had witnessed that black night. To save herself my Mom killed your Dad during the scuffle. Her hands were sunk in blood, knife stabbed on Uncle Bryan’s back. She sat there still and at last surrendered to the cops. She is still behind the bars. Tomorrow she will be released and my revenge is over. I have lived these 15 years without my Mom and my Dad. Maybe your Dad is dead and maybe my Mom had her revenge but what about me? This is my gift to my Mom.

Alex was a survivor- a survivor of that trauma he had been through 15 years ago – a trauma that had turned Alex into a cold blooded soul he had become. He had seen his mother being raped by a man whom he most trusted and considered a father like figure. He had witnessed his mother taken to jail. He had been forced to a foster home where nobody was his friend and there was no one to take care of him. He had been through years of pain, suffering and agony. He had built up angst against all the events that had gripped his life. He had understood that life wasn’t fair and the only fair thing in life left for him was revenge. And life had taught him the bitter truth – ‘Revenge is a dish, best served cold’.

“Never trust a survivor until you find out what they did to stay alive”. And Alex was a Survivor.

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