Picture Imperfect

A flash and a click,
And I felt sick.

My eyes darted around
In search of that terrible sound.

“Sweetheart in another pose please,
And stop being such a tease.”

I looked around at the couple with a smile,
At how love made everything seem worthwhile.

I slowly averted my gaze,
As my memories were ablaze.

When a flash and a click
And my hair I would flick.

A smile and a pout,
My heart clear, with no doubt.

He’d walk over and grin,
And say I was a beautiful sin.

A flash and a click,
It always did the trick.

I’d smile through my tears,
Unaware it would be the reason for my fears.

As I lay fast asleep,
He clicked away like a creep.

A loud thud, and a bang,
Then the door bell rang.

A click click, and a flash,
Into my room I made a dash.

I was plastered on every page,
Of every website I was the rage.

All I wanted was to die,
But I walked with my head held high.

A few months and I was forgotten,
Replaced by news more rotten.

But now a flash and a click,
And I turn into a brick.

Another flash and a click,
And I still can’t stop feeling sick.

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About the author:

Shirisha Pothapragada is an architect by profession. She is also a writer, and poetry is her forte. Shirisha has the unique talent of expressing emotions on social issues while maintaining the dichotomy in her poems.

Toast to single mothers

A writer who chooses to be anonymous has shared the following e-mail:
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Today, I considered changing my middle name by including my mother’s name along with my father’s. After all , whatever I am today is because of her efforts. I thank her for raising me all alone braving the dark days of loneliness, loss of spouse, humiliation of being a single mother and the lewd and discouraging remarks passed on us by our alleged well wishing relatives/ friends/ acquaintances. 🙂

Not many knew the truth about my father absence’s in our life. One fine day, she found herself left with only me – a six year old to cling on. Even lady luck did not favor her. Her father passed away two months after her spouse left her. Since then, she braved everything all alone, while she ensured that I have a good education and was raised as a better human being.

We made sure we hid this fact to avoid many troubles at work and school. His absence was camouflaged by transfer to some rural area. We made sure we did this so that the world does not bother us with unnecessary threats, advice, advances, gossips, lewd remarks.

It would have been difficult for her when her colleagues would ask about her spouse and she had to build a story. It would have been difficult for her when she was often reminded that she was raising a girl child all alone.

Today when I recall all this, I only wished that our society was less penalizing on single mothers. I wished friends and especially relatives stopped pointing fingers at the women for the loss or mishap. I wished people stopped looking down at them as inauspicious. I wished schools were more sensitive in such cases rather than pestering for father’s signature in the report card.

Today, I want to raise a toast to all single mothers. Destiny would have given you a hard life ahead. However I really urge you all to stand up and keep going. Trust that there is light and one day you will find it in your child’s eyes, when she/he would have grown up to be an independent and confident person.

Present day matrimonial ad

tanu

Image source

We are looking for a very “adjustable” handsome “Biba Munda” (docile boy) for our lovely, confident, well accomplished and beautiful daughter, working as a senior executive in a reputable company. The boy should have been well schooled in Indian culture and should treat all elders in the family with respect. He should not have been involved in any relationships before his marriage, and his first should be to our lovely daughter. He must also enjoy a good reputation in his mohalla (neighborhood). After marriage, our daughter will not ever see her current boyfriends again.

If the need arises after marriage, the boy should be willing to give up his career and take care of the wife and children and bring up the children as successful people. With our daughter’s permission, the boy can occasionally go out for men’s only night outs, but only after finishing up all the household work and cooking dinner for the family.

Expensive gifts from boy’s parents to our family members are most welcome and actually expected on certain festivals. We shall welcome the boy to our family with open arms and treat him like our own son. All we ask for, is that he be subservient to us and never disrespect us in public or in private.

In our society, we do not appreciate the boys talking to strangers, especially ladies. We do not think that boys from good families should “mix’ with girls except for our relatives.

To respect and serve his in-laws will bring him good luck and prosperity since our aashirvaad (blessing) is very powerful. On an everyday basis, the boy should only go to sleep onlyafter all the family members are satisfied and have gone to sleep. My daughter is used to getting bed tea in the morning, and that is the first thing that the boy should do after getting up early in the morning. The boy should also attend all parent teacher meetings at school and help children with their homework.

Occasionally, guests will come to live with us and the boy should keep all of them very happy at all times. Our daughter likes to go to the gym and he should make energy drinks for our daughter and give it to her before she goes. The boy should also be very well versed with all the religious rituals and often visit the temple with his mother in law. Trust us, if the boy obediently does all this, we will bless him and he will “Doodho nahao, falo and phoolo“.

Believe us, he can do much more, because our daughter is the one who will work after marriage and the boy will just “sit at home” and he will “just” be a house husband. So, he can take care of all the shopping etc. Since we also want our daughter to pitch in, she can manage all the financial matters in addition to keeping a job where she will be forced to have coffee every one hour and chat at the water cooler because of work pressures. She will be very tired by the time she comes home because she will have to use her brain the whole day.
Expecting to hear back soon with a photograph of your son.

P.S.

Sounds ridiculous and unfair?

If you do not like the above ad, pause for a moment and think about the sacrifices which women make to keep the men folk happy. Let us be fair to women and have realistic expectations!

About the author:

Sunil Kakkar, an IIT graduate and a Computer Engineer, is passionate about writing poetry in his spare time. He writes romantic as well as social issues based poetry in Hindi, Urdu and English. Here is a link to his Facebook page.

Marital rape

Marital rape is a serious crime. Yet neither the law, nor the society has tried to address it with complete justice.
Shirisha Pothapragada has written the following poem, capturing the emotions of a woman stuck in an abusive marriage. The ending of the poem to be is the best part, where she finally makes a choice.

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I had looked at my wedding ring,
And rejoiced at what the future would bring.
I was terribly unaware,
That I had walked into a nightmare.

It all started with a vicious look;
He had noticed an unbuttoned hook.
In company, he would hold me and smile,
An expert in hiding all his vile.

Once home my first lesson I learnt,
As my body he slowly burnt.
He would lock the room door,
And throw me on the floor.

Into me he’d empty his seed,
And say a baby is what we need.
He would feed me day and night
Till, of my beauty I lost sight.

But I set aside my fears,
And let him wipe my tears.
In his love I started to bloom,
And he then attacked my womb.

I lay crying on the floor,
My heart in an uproar.
He walked upto me and said,
What fun, if just the two of us played!”

And then he would go on and on,
From dusk until dawn.
When I screamed I was sore,
He’d laugh and say there was more.

Sated, he would kick me with his feet,
And I would curl up in defeat.
After an hour of fearful sleep,
I’d look into the mirror and weep.

Was my life the result of my sin?
I’d search for answers from within.
Now that the day had begun,
All the chores had to be done.

He would kiss me on my cheek,
And apologise for acting like a freak.
My consent had been withheld,
This injustice had to be quelled.

I looked again at my wedding ring,
Only words of sorrow it could sing.
I swiftly took it off my finger,
There was no more need to linger.

I walked out penniless and sore,
But at every step I felt my heart soar
..

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About the author:

Shirisha Pothapragada is an architect by profession. She is also a writer, and poetry is her forte. Shirisha has the unique talent of expressing emotions on social issues while maintaining the dichotomy in her poems.

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

We all love daughters. The sweet, caring and loving daughters who have always been the custodians of the family values.

But does a daughter not have her own identity and her own aspirations? And does that make her any less of a good daughter?

Mr. Sunil Kakkar has written this beautiful and empowering poem on ‘daughters’.
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Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Maine Aksar Samaaj Koh
Balidaan Diya Hai
Apne Man Ko Maar Kar
Bahut Si Khushiyon Ka
Tyaag Diya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Maine Aksar Ma Ka
Saath Diya Hai
Rasoi Mein Kathor Parishram Kar
Mehmannon Ka Khaas
Khayal Kiya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Mere Babu Jee Ne Aksar
Mujhe Pe Naaz Kiya Hai
Auron Se Bewajah
Daant Khane Par Bhi
Maine Apni Nazarein Jhuka Ke
Apni Tehzeeb Ka
Pramaan Diya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Maine Aksar Bhaiyya
Ka Kaam Kiya Hai
Unke Mauj Masti Kar
Ghar Aane Par
Daud Ke Unka Swagat Kiya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Maine Aksar Yeh
Sweekar Kiya Hai
Rajkumar Toh Sapnon
Mein Aate Hain
Pati Ka Aachran Kaisa Bhi Hoh
Banu Main Ek Adarsh Patni
Sab Ka Yeh Sapna
Maine Sakaar Kiya Hai

Magar Aaj Waqt Badal Raha Hai
Ek Wajood Hai Mera Bhi
Apne Andaaz Mein
Apni Zindagi Jeene Ka
Maine Man Mein Thaan Liya Hai

Kadam Se Kadam Mila Kar
Main Bhi Ab Aage Bhadoongi
Meri Bhi Ek Hasti Hai
Meri Bhi Aakanshaayan Hain
Maine Bhi Kuch Kar Dikhaane Ka
Sankalp Pura Kar Liya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Main Aur Ma Bhi Ab
Poori Dooniyan Dekhein Ge
Ghul Mil Kar Aapas Mein Humne
Khilne Ka Prayaas Kiya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Apne Bhaiyya Se
Umeedein Hain Meri
Thoda Waqt Nikal Kar
Wohi Mere Nakhrey Uthaayenge
Khush Rakhein Woh Hamesh Mujhe
Maine Unhe Aadesh Deeya Hai

Main Bitiya Rani Hoon Na

Main Usko Apna Dil Doongi
Izzat Joh Karega Meri
Dil Se Mujhe Chhahe Ga
Aisa Hi Pati Mujhe Chaahiye
Maine Babu Jee Koh Bataa Diya Hai

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

About the author:

Sunil Kakkar, an IIT graduate and a Computer Engineer, is passionate about writing poetry in his spare time. He writes romantic as well as social issues based poetry in Hindi, Urdu and English.
This poem was originally published on his Facebook page “Suneel Ke Dil Se

Illusions of love

Abuse – could be in the form of emotional, physical or sexual, which can scar a person for life. It is not just women, but men who go through abuse as well. At times, people are not even aware that they may be being abused.

How would a person going through abuse seek help, if he/she is not even able to acknowledge it, or once acknowledged, it is considered shameful to talk about it? What does a person going through abuse feel, and why does he/she take it?

Shirisha Pothapragada, has captured the emotions of a woman who is in an abusive relationship, in this touching poem:

____________________________________________________________________

We are staying together he promised,
Even as your hair turns the shade of grey,
Cause you are my diamond, unpolished,
And I will shape you as I may.

I am his jewel, I beamed,
And he will be by me till eternity.
A better person he would make me,
I couldn’t have asked for a better destiny.

I looked on as he stripped me bare
Of all, that was me,
I put on the clothes he bought and the smile he taught
And this, he said, was why he adored me.

He shared with me his darkest fears,
And the pain inflicted by all.
Believing it to be the truth
I promised to catch him if ever he were to fall.

I walked his walk and talked his talk,
As I wouldn’t dare be a disgrace.
Words of love became far and few
Only scars on my skin I could trace.

I crouched in the darkest corner of the room,
As I got the whiff of cigarette and beer,
I felt a shudder run down my spine,
As I saw him appear.

I stood silently as my clothes he ripped apart
And threw me out the door,
This was my punishment I knew,
For he felt I had acted like a whore.

As the night faded, he would come to me,
Whispering words sweet as honey,
He would then carry me in like a baby
Reminding me never to disagree.

As months turned into years
It suddenly dawned on me,
That my life was no paradise
And that I had fooled not just me but everybody.

My worth I let be defined by him.
I was a nobody, he ingrained from the start,
It was not just my heart he broke,
But my soul he had ripped apart.

Finally, Unshackled and free I search for my dignity,
But as I lay alone at night I fall apart at the seam.
And as I succumb to the darkness inside,
I let out a silent scream.

His memories still haunt me,
His words still echo in my brain,
We are staying together he had promised,
You are not getting away from me, never again
.”

Arranged marriage dating – the latest fad in India!

A dear friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has written the following article – her views on arranged marriage based on her personal experience. I could relate to it completely. Hope everybody enjoys reading!
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AM Dating – Arranged marriage dating, is of late a fad among many Indian youths! The arranged marriage system is what makes Indian culture and tradition so unique. Over the years it has changed a lot and now it has become more westernized with the element of so called ‘dating’ being involved.

The word dating has a whole lot of connotations, construed differently by different individuals. This article is not women centric and its purpose is not to malign individuals of a particular nature. The reason I have written this article is to share my musings on this topic of arranged marriage dating as a person in the market myself.

My main source of inspiration has come from the guys I have encountered in this process and also from men and women who have faced similar characters and situations. My intention is not to find my better-half through this blog, but it will be a pleasant surprise if that happens! This article is for both men and women out there, who are seeking their soulmates.

From a high-level, the process of arranged union today, from a middle to upper middle class perspective can be described as follows:

Step 1: Registering on a matrimony site

There are many sites to choose from, the top ones being Bharat matrimony, Shadi.com, community matrimonials etc, counterparts of western sites e-harmony.com and match.com. But the principles of western dating are not applicable to Indian arranged dating. There is parental involvement and pressure, time factor to take ‘the decision’, horoscope-matching, auspicious timing for every milestone of the relationship, virtual reality of the game, the perception of the thin border between narrow and broad mindedness and various other limitations.

Step 2: Liking profiles and photos of suitors and matching horoscopes

The market has a lot to choose from. I call it the market, because choosing a spouse with certain attributes can be likened to choosing a car or a dress with X, Y, Z features for an occasion, except that the occasion is lifetime. The more the choices the more is the laid-back nature of the shopper as he/she may feel if it is not this one, there will be someone else. These choices unfortunately get limited by horoscope mismatches. Different astrologers and astrology software provide different matching criteria and results so the best matching case for me may end up being the worst for my prospect!

If I like Mr. X and he likes me and if both our astrologers give us the green signal, we move onto the next step that is dating! Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, blogs and other websites are great stalking tools that talk volumes about a prospect, something which even phone conversations that last for hours cannot provide. Birds of a feather flock together, so a prospect can be judged through his friends, family and relatives.

Step 3: Phone and other virtual modes of dating — the biggest flaw of our system!

Telephone is technologically the most useful device and I am grateful to Mr Alexander Graham Bell for inventing it! Phone connects and brings people miles apart together. This phrase has got stuck in our sub-conscious minds to such an extent that we try to achieve everything over the phone!

Mr. X, I who I AM dated on the phone sometime back, said he felt awesome chemistry with many girls over the phone. Then why didn’t he end up with one of them? Why is he even considering me? I secretly thought. He went on to say that he is wired to sense chemistry and compatibility over the phone even before meeting me. They say some men are pillars, others caterpillars. Mr. X was indeed a pillar and a caterpillar. Pillar, because he had most of the attributes I was looking for. Maybe he was a pillar too high to mount! A caterpillar, because he was way too slow in his approach and communicated just over the telephone, his favorite method. He was just not ready and did not feel comfortable to meet me or even Skype with me despite conversing for several months. He wanted it all on the phone. Alas! We parted ways!

Dating Mr. Y on Skype showed me our wavelength mismatches. Atleast Skype showed me that this would not work, which proved to be much better than talking to a faceless someone on the phone for an eternity! It might have worked had we met. But Alas! We parted ways!

I met Mr. Z who seemed fine over the phone, but we did not have any attraction but infact had repulsion and arguments over the meeting! He was not the guy which his profile spoke of and he was not the guy who he seemed to be on the phone and Skype. Atleast he was the bravest of them all as he had the courage to come out of the tele-world and meet me! But again! We parted ways! There were others too who did not cross significant milestones.

Step 4: If all goes well meet up, court and marry!

This is the best part- meeting a few times, getting engaged, courting for few months and finally tying the knots! After the ‘yes’ comes in, days fly by so fast making arrangements and preparations for the wedding.

My take 1. Arranged marriages are not for losers!

‘Shudh desi romance’, is a film which portrays the modern day Indian way of thinking about marriage and relationships. The hero in this film gets marriage jitters and runs away from his AM and opts for a live-in relationship. Such films which portray AM as terrifying must be slammed. AM should not be portrayed in this limelight. Many feel that it is for losers who failed to attract the cool ones out there! Nowadays there is less of the element ‘arranged’ in our weddings. It is more about choosing a partner you think you may fall for one day. This does not mean I am anti-live-in. This just means that I, despite the fact that I am a modern independent woman, prefer getting hitched the arranged way.

Education, work and being in the US has made me independent. The reason I am going in for AM is not because I am a sucker who did not find love, but because I consider it as a fun-filled challenge of getting to know an unknown someone from scratch, committing to each other and falling in love later.

It is an ordeal mainly for parents who go through tons of profiles, get them shortlisted though horoscope and various criteria set by us, the AM daters! It doesn’t end there, this is the beginning of talking endlessly to prospects, one after another, saying goodbye to a few, saying hi to the new till we get the proof that we have indeed found our soulmates!

My take 2. It just happens? Make it happen!

Love is not a fantasy. Sayings like ‘A goddess does not hunt for Mr Right, she attracts him’ and ‘Do not seek love, it will find you when you least expect it’, just do not seem to work much in the world of long distance and virtual dating. Prospects need to make a deliberate attempt to know one another, respect differences and overlook flaws. Getting involved and being vulnerable require courage and are not to be looked down upon. Vulnerability is the test that filters the worthy ones from the ones not worth fighting for. Pestering from parents is a major force which either pays off or snaps the so-called budding relationship.

Unless we live continents apart, then we can consider reaching to each other’s hearts through video chats before meeting but not through just phone. Only shallow conversations about day-to-day life, likes and dislikes, hobbies and general world topics can be had on the phone.

The game must move onto the real world ASAP! Live-dates provide the much needed level of comfort and pave the way for attraction, a broader context and deep conversations which can be subsequently had on the phone. Chemistry and compatibility which are proportional to physics are results of attraction. Both, physics and chemistry are essential for creating and sustaining the ‘spark’.

My take 3. Not interested in arranged marriage? Well, don’t register!

A humble request to daters out there – If you are not ready for marriage please stop the process right away! Delete yourselves from the matrimony sites. Shopping for the perfect match does not work when you are not a 100% into it. Do not do it for your parents or because people around you are getting hitched. Wasting time by shopping and trying out a list of people and giving false hopes and expectations is the most immature and uncultured thing of today. Don’t keep people guessing as well. If you do not feel a match would work in the long run, pull the plug on it as soon as such a thought hits you, preferably in the initial stages itself, rather than experimenting for ages.

If you want to be modern, date in-person, like in the west. Do not complicate matters by trying to achieve chemistry, compatibility and a lot more on the phone. A person who is scared to meet up, get involved or reluctant to reveal his countenance on video-chat, is simply not worth wasting time over. Slow, laid back individuals who take no responsibility or make no attempts to make it work must be avoided too. There is always a ‘next please’ in this game! As per Dante’s Divne Comedy, To reach Paradise, one goes through Inferno. Similarly the AM dater goes through many toads and ‘just-friends’ to get to her prince charming or to the princess of his dreams!