I will never be able to forget the first time I learnt this name. It was when I graduated with a B.Tech degree and was doing nothing but hanging out with friends and wasting money. During this time, I pulled along with me two very good friends who couldn’t help but abide by the rules of friendship when I tortured them to help satisfy my movie maniac soul. We covered Hollywood, Bollywood, and Tollywood, and if I could convince them, Kollywood as well. Since my other two friends weren’t as jobless as I was, the mission was usually carried out over the weekends. If we didn’t get tickets for a particular show, I would take it very personally. I would take the pain to get hold of the guy behind the counter and say, “Anna… Please Anna, _______ hero (name changed as per the film) ku periya, periya fan, Anna. Ennaku Telugu teriyada, aana padam pakkanum.” For some reason, the ticket guys were always sympathetic towards people who were non-Telugu speaking and yet fans of Telugu heros. Anyway, that weekend I decided to watch Kantri, a Jr. NTR starer. We were at a theater on RTC X Roads and the tickets were sold out. No luck with black tickets as well. So I decided to go and enact my little play but my friends hated the idea that I get tickets claiming to be a Jr. NTR fan. I did too. But like I said, I took it too personally so I got the tickets. We were seated at the 9th row from the screen, yes, that close! Jr. NTR’s films always gave me a headache but I thought to myself, “How much worse can it get compared to his previous films?”
Three hours later, I got my answer with a headache that Saridon couldn’t cure for two days. That was the minute Meher Ramesh introduced himself to my head.
KANTRI… BILLA… SHAKTI… SHADOW… Four mega budgets. Four mega flops.
His latest venture, Shadow, is a film that can directly be placed in the “Vijayendra Varma-Okka Magadu” category. Basically, a revenge story without substance. It is about how a sincere journalist’s son (Venky) sets out to avenge the death of his father. Now to achieve that mission Venky has to kill at least 5 people. In the chaotic process of doing that, he acts like a memory loss retard, meets the heroine, Taapsee, manages five duets with her, meets his long-lost mother and pregnant sister, and enjoys torturing us by adorning various extremely unnecessary costumes before we are blessed with rolling credits. Phew! Trust me, I was being very brief.
People often claim that Meher Ramesh may make bad movies but they always have a sense of style in them which I believe, is bullshit. Where is the sense of style in Shadow? Shooting a film in Kuala Lampur doesn’t maketh a stylish movie, stylish people do, or at least their designers. Now if Prabhas and Anushka looked classy in Billa, it is most definitely because they are. Making everyone you cast onscreen wear a pressed business suit and expecting that the audience think you made a rich film does not do the trick. If you have seen Raghav Lawerence’s Don and Rebel, you will know what I mean. And what have you done with poor Mr. Venky. The chimpu look, the numerous finger rings, the over sized black coat, and the ridiculously hideous motor bike. The least the hair stylist could do was take the pains to either patiently straighten Venky’s hair completely or skip using copious amounts of hair spray. About Taapsee, I am not even going to comment unless she stops shopping for clothes from the kids section.
According to me, Meher Ramesh usually copies the entire plot of his film from a previously released film. Kantri was largely taken from Bluffmaster. Billa was an obvious copy/paste from the Tamil film, Billa and I haven’t had the guts to watch Shakti. His innovative approach with Shadow is that he hasn’t picked the entire plot from one film. He has taken parts from various meaningless films and blended them together to churn out utter rubbish. And the best part is, he even plays the original clip alongside with the copied clip. What fun, no? You don’t have to stress at all wondering where you have already seen this before. For instance, you will see that he picked the MS Narayana in the swimming pool shot from Billa. The killing Nagineedu scene was directly picked up from Agnipath. Apparently, he also confessed that he wanted this film to be another Lakshmi that was directed by V.V. Vinayak. Now, what can I say about a director who confesses to copying? Much has been said about the Gabbar Singh Antakshari scene copy, so I shall rest my case with the plagiarism here.
Moving on to the next item on the plate. Consider Indian cooking, South Indian in particular. Most South Indian dishes have what is called seasoning that is added to almost all curries at the end. Seasoning usually has a basic formula; mustard seeds, jeera, asafetida, curry leaves, red chillis, channa dal, and urad dal, as appropriate. Now you can choose to add some or all of these items to get what you can call, tasty seasoning. But if you go ahead and add toor dal, masoor dal, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it would lead to indigestion. So does a Meher Ramesh film. The guy uses hundreds of talented artists, important people, and yet none of them add value to the film. Although the film includes Nagababu, Srikanth, Aditya Pancholi, Rahul Dev, MS Narayana, Shinde, Kaatraj, Vennala Kishore, Harshavardhan, Rao Ramesh, Nasser, Nagineedu, Subbaraju, Suman and some 10 other talented people, none of them get justified screen space. It’s like the director is in a rush. A rush to establish the reason for revenge, kill the bad guys, reunite the family, and do hundred other odd things in about 2 hours. And, if you like Subbaraju, please don’t watch the film. I thought I could only give Krishna Vasmi the credit for portraying a man who played Chatrapathi as Chakram, now Meher Ramesh has followed suit.
The music. Much cannot be said about the music since it was given by someone who is possession of countless drums, of all kinds, in all sizes. It takes your ears a while to realize that the lyrics are “Vedevado vedevado, he’ll be there where you go, you would even know he’s a shadow” and not just “dedabadooo deedabadooo deedaade dab dab dab”. Meher should probably have stuck with Mani Sharma. But what could good music have done to a stale script anyway.
I believe Meher Ramesh holds us, the audience, responsible for his first three flops and decided that this time he will not spare the audience. Shadow is a story of how Meher Ramesh takes revenge on the Telugu audience each time they cringe at Venky’s playing Chanti while chewing on a lollipop, MS’s comedy, or simply the film’s mindlessness.
I can only begin to imagine the magnanimity of his next audience targeted-revenge venture. Because Meher Ramesh is like King Vikramaditya in Vikram-Betal, chasing the success ghost and never in the mood to give up.
My 2nd grade in Primary School was the least favorite year of my school life, or at least, this is what I thought back then. My mom took me to Tirupathi during the summer holidays of my 1st standard to have a barber shave my head. This was done to please God in return for a favor He had bestowed upon us. So I went to PS that year wearing a pink frock and a pale yellow hat. Little did I know that I was in for some serious bullying.
Now kids don’t generally think much. They say and do things without actually meaning much harm. So most girls always forgot my real name and began calling me Gundu (the Telugu word for a bald head), girls wanted to pull my pale yellow hat off my head, while some girls wanted to use my bald head to play tabla, some others wanted to run their hands across my head and feel its prickliness. It made me angry. I used to scream, fight, and complain to the teachers, but after a while I just let go and became very quite.
Our school followed the regular norm like any other school except you could throw in prayers five times a day. We were woken up class-wise, sent downstairs to brush in the kitchen pantry, came back upstairs to sit in a queue to where ammas would give us a quick bath, sent to have our hair checked for lice (which we fondly called butchi-checking, I have always wondered why), oiled and combed neatly and then sent downstairs for breakfast followed by assembly before we went to class.
It took me very little time to understand that since I could skip a big portion of the regime, that being the hair-service, I could be the first in class. Now don’t ask me what’s the big fuss in being first. I don’t know. In a class that had anywhere between 35 – 40 girls, being first was always a big deal. I just had to be the first one to wake up, and be first in the line to brush. The rest would follow. And that is exactly what I decided to do. Soon I came first in almost everything. The teachers began to like me and my class girls, not so much. They thought I was greedy and was taking advantage of the fact that I could skip butchi checking. I had competition and I always won. Eventually, calling me Gundu became incessant and I had no friends. Absolutely.
Until she came along!
We had the December and early January every year dedicated to Sports Practice. This meant that we participated in various dances or drills and performed on January 11th, the Sports Day. Sports time was always fun. We were baked under the sun for several hours and treated to Rasna, we had no classes for more than a month, could wake up late, and just hang around in the dorm playing Charlie Chaplin, Categories, will you please, The queen of the palace, and other odd games. But before we got into serious sports practice, we would have one last Parents Meeting at the beginning of December after which we could only see our parents on Sports Day. My mom had come to see me and I had persistently bothered her to get me a Hajmola bottle. I loved the Hajmola tablets, most kids did. You didn’t necessarily need to have digestion issues to take it, it served more like tasty candy, it was sweet and sour and tangy, all at the same time. They were 130 tablets of pure joy in a dark bottle. Since we were never allowed to take outside food into the school, I was worried as to how I could fool the teachers standing at the blue grill entrance and take it inside.
Just as I was thinking of a plan, my parents bumped into hers. Apparently, they knew each other and were acquainted for a long time. They introduced us to each other and I realized that she was my senior. We didn’t really talk much since you never really could be friends with your juniors or seniors. Anyway, she figured out that I was planning to take the Hajmola bottle inside and decided to help me smuggle it inside. We both held the bottle in our tiny palms, and acted like we were holing hands, bid goodbye to our parents, and marched into the lobby with confidence. I must admit that there wasn’t much checking going on either as it was the last parents meeting for the year and there were just too many people.
As soon as we went upstairs to the dorm, we had a good laugh. I took a look at her and decided that I liked her instantly. She was nice. She suggested that we hide the bottle away in my shelf, between my clothes lest anyone finds out that I had it. I did so but before that I decided that we both deserve a treat. From then on we became the best of friends. We always hung out together. It was sports time and so not many people would notice that a junior and senior were hanging out that much. She yelled at people who called me Gundu, and always saved a seat for me next to her in the dining hall, and gave me her glass of Rasna as she didn’t like it. And I, shared one Hajmola candy with her after every meal.
The word that I had the Hajmola candy was spreading fast. Soon my class girls began to approach me for them, and I gave two to people I liked, and one to people whom I didn’t. I always had to give the candy cause they could go and complain to a teacher that I had smuggled goods if I didn’t. Apart from the daily after meals dose, I began to give her one candy each time I had my class girls ask me for it, since she was almost always with me. She also suggested that I hide the bottle in different places in my shelf each day. That way nobody could steal the candy. This went on for at least about 10 days. I was on the verge of forgetting the fact I had been bullied and friend-less for a major part of that year, and was happy. Happy for having finally found a friend.
One afternoon, we were sitting in the dorm ready to go out for the drill practice when she came up to me and suggested that we both go to my shelf and pop the candy. I wasn’t in the mood but I couldn’t say no to her, so I told her she could go help herself since she knew the hiding spot for the day. That was probably the very first time she was going to have the candy on her own.
She came back a few minutes later, and whispered into my ear, “The candy is gone. Someone stole it. All of it, except two.” I was shocked. We both ran to my shelf and I turned it upside down and looked for it everywhere. “Where could they have gone? Who would steal them”, she asked. I couldn’t imagine. And why would someone leave just two of them and take away more than 70. Very sympathetic, eh!?! I took the remaining two in my hand and was about to pop them into my mouth but stopped myself. I took one of them and offered it to her and she thanked me profusely. And we marched out for drill practice.
That evening, she didn’t give me her glass of Rasna and later that night, she didn’t save me a seat next to her in the dining hall. I tired to go and talk to her a couple of times but she was always busy with her classmates and pretended like she didn’t hear me.
I didn’t have to be a genius to figure out that she was the only one who knew where I hid the bottle, and that it was the first time she went alone to my shelf to take the candy, and that she stole all of them.
Of course, it wasn’t just about the candy. As a 7 year old kid, I was heart broken at the treachery. She was in the same school for 10 years after this incident but I never spoke a word to her. I knew that in life I was going to be through friendships that maybe be more sour than this. But this one was my first, and it taught me what kind of a friend I should never be.
I hate weddings, big, fat Indian ones in particular.
They give me a weird vibe. An anxious bride in a heavy pattu saree adorned with more jewels she can possibly carry reminds me of a decked up goat ready for slaughter at the village fair. Or a nicely decorated ox ready to pull a bullock cart for the rest of his life. The crowd, the noise, the ‘aunty groups’ poking their nose into other people’s business and discussing dowry and gold, thousands of flowers withering away, and food, lots and lots of wasted food just turns me off.
It was lunch time and I was trying to catch up on some regular news on ndtv.com when I noticed a pop up that said, “Watch ABC’s makeover on Band Baaja Bride”. Just to kill those 15 minutes, I clicked on the link and watched an episode. That evening, I got back home and watched a few more. Band Baaja Bride is this stupid show where a bride is selected from a pool of applicants to wear a Sabyasachi outfit on her wedding day. The stupidity part comes in when the hosts, Ambika and Bharat take the bride and knock the tube lights out of her pea sized brain. Okay, I would be a hypocrite if I said I wouldn’t be proud if I had a Sabyasachi or Manish Malhotra designed lehenga hanging in my closet. I agree, they are amazing. I also consent to the fact that every bride wants to look beautiful and perfect on her wedding day but the question is, how far will you go to look beautiful on your wedding day? And, what is your definition of a perfectly beautiful bride?
As such, we live in a society that knows nothing but to judge.
Aunty 1: You are 28 and you are not married? Rama rama.. If you remain like this only, you will get twisted babies at 35.
Aunty 2 (at a friend’s wedding): Psst! Do you know how much dowry the girl’s father is giving? All that jewelry is 10 carat gold it seems. For matching matching sarees.
Aunty 3 (if you belong to the groom’s party): No no! Girl is not good. Ears look like an elephant’s, she is dark, she is very short and fat.
Aunty 4 (to Aunty 3): Yes yes! Paavam! He is a software engineer in America so he had only 15 days leave, so he came quickly and had to say yes to the first girl.
Mother-in-law (to Aunty 3 and 4): Hmmm.. It doesn’t matter that she is well educated, independent, decent and comes from a good family, she is not perfect. I will just remain uncivilized and comment on her looks. Her fate! Even Band Baaja Bride rejected her plea for a makeover. Yeah! Let’s just ignore that my son is bald and has a squint eye.
Indian society has made weddings a difficult affair for women, a highly acclaimed business affair, rather. Your dad needs to put his life savings into it, your brother needs to work his ass off to get everything ready, and your mother need to take BP pills to keep her anxiety down as your D day draws near. So much of a business investment that will simply go down the drain the next day. And finally, nobody cares.
In addition to an ‘already pain in the butt’ scenario, this brainless BBB has to come in and give more ideas. As it is, a women’s confidence is constantly subjected to trauma when foolish directors make ads that show that only fair women get jobs, and darker ones will be turned down in an interview. That if you use a certain type of sanitary napkin, you will loose a basketball match. That if you use a particular bar of soap, you will remain young. At the worst of them all being, if you have dark private parts, you will have a sad marital life. Why target women? Why not have a “Santoor for Men” advertisement. Something that has a kid running up to Madhavan or Saif (who use Santoor) while yelling, “Daddy!!!!!” and, the female photographer can go, What?!?!?!?!
Now BBB in all it’s novelty, points out to brides, that they need teeth polishing, or hair straightening. What shit! I don’t blame them entirely. I blame the brides too. Why the hell do you have to come on national television say things like, “I have a broken front tooth, I am afraid I may not be able to give a beautiful, open smile on my wedding day.” Or, “I have very curly and dry hair. I’m concerned that a pigeon will come and lay eggs thinking its a nest.” And, “I have been wearing glasses all my life and I’m allergic to contact lens. Oh Gosh! I want to pose for photographs without my glasses on but I don’t want to be blind too.” Seriously, what were you girls doing for the last 10 years? Couldn’t you just go and see a good dentist, hair stylist, and lasik surgeon. I mean, if your tooth, hair, and glasses didn’t bother you then, why now? Or are you just so cheap that you find pleasure in making the channel pay your bills.
Besides, nobody on the show actually cares about what you wear or how you look on your wedding day. Its all about displaying the Sabyasachi collection. If otherwise, why would Sabyasachi convince a bride who always wanted to wear a red lehenga that green is the color for her? Why would he convince a bride who wants to wear a lehenga to her Sangeet so that she can dance a step or two that she must wear a pattu saree?
The Botox injections for an eyebrow lift and cheek alignment, don’t even get me started on that. As such, an Indian woman is considered eligible for marriage based on her looks and sometimes her dad’s property, and now you come up with this whole artificial face lifts thingy. What are you going to do next? Bring in plastic surgeons and cloning experts to make replicas of Ambika Anands and Aishwarya Rais, I mean, your definition of ‘beauty’. What message are you trying to convey? Aren’t women allowed to have bad hair days, dark circles due to stress, walk on flats next to their really tall husbands, go without a facial for a month or two, and sometimes not wear any make up at all?
I would consider this post almost incomplete if I miss out mentioning the people who file the applications. If it is not a desperate bride dying to wear a Sabyasachi, it is either her mother, or mother-in-law or the groom himself. A few grooms on the show say ridiculous things that makes me want to crack open their skull like a walnut. “My fiance is perfect, but I want BBB to make her ‘more perfect’ on the wedding day”. What does that even mean, you superficial moron? Go and look up ‘perfect’ in the dictionary first. And, only ‘on the wedding day’ is it? Are you saying that eventually when her eyebrow lift drops, her hair goes back to being a bird’s nest, and her tooth filling falls out, you will not be in love with her anymore. You should stand in front of the mirror first and check out your not so perfect beer belly, bald head, and that prickly stubble that you think looks sexy on you. Why have only a Band Baaja Bride, why not have a “Grooming The Groom”? That would give a chance to help you realize your insecurities, talk about it on national television, and make your already perfect highness look ‘more perfect’ like a greek god on your wedding day.
My point is this. Weddings are supposed to be auspicious and joyful. What matters the most on your wedding day is whether or not you are in love with the person you are promising to share the rest of your life with. Whether or not you have all your near and dear ones around you to share the love and joy. Not whether you have bad make up, or a waist band that doesn’t fit you well. There was this one girl on the show who apparently moved her wedding day to an earlier date just to be on this stupid show and wear a stupid Sabyasachi outfit. If I were her groom, I would have called off the wedding then and there.
Please why don’t you just let a woman be!
Let it be okay if she acts at the spur of the moment. Let it be okay if she wants to be dressed in a casual kurti or a pair of jeans and a tee, and get married at the registrar’s office. Let it be okay if she to wants to take her ‘potential wedding budget’ and write a check to an orphanage ensuring that a few hundred kids eat decent meals for a couple of months. Let it be okay if she doesn’t understand the fuss about wearing a saree and lots of gold. Let it be okay if she wants to give importance to her marriage rather than her wedding day. Let it be okay for her to be confident and love herself, her body, and everything about her, her imperfections included.
Let it be okay if she hates weddings, big, fat Indian ones in particular.
Dear fat, fatter, and fattest people,
I call you fat with such confidence cause till date I have not seen anyone thinner than me.
Hey you, and you, and all you fat people out there, I hope you are all “fat and fine”. Well, I’d assume so only because you are so healthy and fit and cannot absolutely mind your business that you find immense pleasure in taunting me about my weight. This taunting that you do, I assume, is a fervent effort you make to feel good about yourself instead of trying to dig your nose with your healthy fingers. (Oh, wait! Do they even fit into your nose?)
Let me bore you with some tiny details about my childhood. When I had to give my entrance exam to get into Primary School in Grade I, we had to qualify and pass through three rounds of extensive testing. One; a knowledge based exam, two; a short interview, three; a medical exam. I prepared for the written exam for almost a year, but my mom was the most tensed for my medical exam. I was 12 kgs and looked like a bag of bones when stripped down to skin. My mother prayed really hard during my medical exam and told the examining doctors that I had just recovered from Typhoid and that’s how being 12 kgs at the age of six was justified.
22 years have passed since then and I have put on 23 kgs since that day, meaning I am now 35 kgs or approximately 77 pounds. My goal over the past four years has been to hit 80 pounds but I have not succeeded so far. I have been mocked at, taunted, ridiculed, and questioned over and over again for being this.
As it is, I go through a lot of trauma when I go shopping. Being a girl, I hate to shop for clothes because I never find the right size or should I say, the small size. And when I do, the piece I like is gone. In addition to that, you expect me to deal with you. Each time you call me thin, skinny, malnutrition-ed, weak, and ask me to put on some weight, I want to call you fat. I don’t want to yell, or making sly remarks at you, I just want to call you fat. This is because I know that it would hurt you and I want it to hit your mud filled brain that being called “thin” feels the same too. No, it is not okay to call me thin!
Let me begin by telling you that when your incompetent Comupter Science addicted and Mathophilic brain was dozing during interesting Biology lessons, you missed the chapter on metabolism. If you had been awake then, you would have saved yourself from this embarrassment now and figured out that people who are very thin, often, have high metabolic rates and that it could possibly be the reason why they cannot put on any weight. And it would have given you the power of logic to recognize that the human body is an enormous, unfathomable, natural and scientific machine that structures each body’s response in a slightly different manner and that makes it extremely difficult to predict the way one responds or behaves. But, no! You won’t get it cause you have only studied the Pythagoras Theorem that has been so monotonous over centuries, and worked with lifeless computer boxes that have one basic and banal design. Besides I also expect that you do not know about diseases like Marasmus which is why you call me “malnutrition-ed”. I demand you go and educate yourself, see lots of pictorial images before you use your boneless tongue to call me “a bag of bones”
You fat people, you come in so many different categories too. Some of you are just so fat and jealous that I’m so thin. That is why you throw questions at me like, “When was the last time you ate?” If you used that rusted brain of yours, you would know that everyone eats everyday, atleast people like you and me. The ones who are less fat among the “fat group”, you think no end of yourselves. You are also somewhat proud of your figure and you think that you are thin and right. So when you see me, you are shocked that there is someone thinner than you out there, so do your best to kill my self-confidence and obviously, you fail. The rest of you have no other topic to discuss with me. When you see me after months, the first thing you say is, “You are still the same and sooooo thin, you haven’t put on any weight?” Yes, like the only work I have to do in this whole wide world is to try and put on weight by drinking gallons of coke and munching away hundreds of packets of potato chips just so that I can please your carcass-picking soul and have you tell me that I look fatter than the last time you saw me.
You also throw me at the back seat of the car, you make me sit on your lap in an auto rickshaw, carry me up to fix your fused bulbs, push me over the fence to fetch your shuttlecock, make me run up and down the stairs when you have forgotten your handbag in your house, widen your eyes until they look like an owl’s when I order a large drink, and snatch fries off my plate assuming that I will not be able to finish them. First of all, you have the audacity to do these things, and then you complain that my bones are “poking” you. I would love to say to you then that I love your body fat and that you feel like my pillow and that I’m grateful to you for that.
Also, when you have the cheek to mock at my weight, just keep in mind that I can do an eight mile hike in a few hours, leading and entertaining the group with my chatter and songs, while you need to take several protein drink breaks. And, when we go shopping together, and you laugh at me that all the clothes in Size Zero and XS (or XXS) are gone, I pity you. I have to sympathize with you stunted brain that fails to show you the logic that all clothes in my size are gone and the ones in your size are left behind only because normal people are thin like me, and not many people are fat like you.
You, yes you married tongue-wagging Aunty! This letter is almost incomplete without a special mention of your crazy perception about people like me. As it is, I hate to see your and your attitude at weddings. Yes, those functions where you think you are the bride and wear a saree and gold that could be in par with your body fat, I’m talking about those. You have no shame and you know no respect. The bullshit you talk with my mother. You tell her, “Whaaaat!?! Aren’t you feeding your daughter? Are you eating all her food?” At that instance, I want to box your ears and ask you, “Aunty, it looks like you have spent all your money buying gold for this wedding, are you going to have money left to feed your fat kids or will they eat you when they are hungry?” Then, the other group of aunties, the ones who wonder how you are going to get married if you are so thin. You are so concerned and you behave like I am going to marry your son and pose for your family portrait. Oh, Please! Spare me the torture.
For your kind information, I am healthy. I fall sick less than once a year, and I have not even caught common cold more than five times in my entire lifetime. I don’t vomit when I smell cow dung, and I can do my own work without acting like a patient when I have my period. So better act sane and treat me with respect and integrity and don’t you dare judge my capabilities based on my weight. And the next time you want to butt into my calm head with your nitwit comments about my weight, laugh at me, and try to convince me that only Kareena Kapoor is Size Zero, you better think twice about it cause I may be small but my mouth isn’t.
The girl who has been Size Zero since you, I and everyone can remember
The year was 1998 and I had just finished my 7th grade exams. It was a typical day number one of the vacation. I woke up late, sat in front of the T.V with my brush in my mouth for more than 20 minutes trying to catch the latest film releases that summer, got yelled at by my mom for being late for breakfast, followed by home-made dosas and peanut chutney for brunch. As I gobbled up the last dosa, I breathed freedom. I was at home and this meant that I did not have to wash my plate. I lazily walked into the kitchen to dump my plate into the sink as I noticed my mother and my maid getting ready to make lunch.
I found myself a neat spot on the kitchen bench-top and flopped myself on it eager to catch up on their conversation. It was then that I noticed the weirdness in the air. My maid signaled to my mom and asked her if she wanted to tell me about it. My mom looked perplexed. I was just a curious cat so I pressed my mom to spit it out. And thus, she began.
A brief introduction; my mom ran a non-government organization (NGO) that had worked on some projects to provide free education to kids under 14 years, employment to single mothers, etc. She also participated in some sort of “women counselling” program where she did a lot from abc to xyz. Basically, she was all for women rights.
“There is this three year old girl, a kid from the nearby village. She is in the hospital. I’m going to see her this evening”, she said.
“What is wrong with her?”
“She was raped two nights ago”
My mind went blank for almost 60 seconds. I was 13 years old. This kind of stuff was too much for me to take. But my mom continued.
“She doesn’t have a father. She was sleeping outside, on a cot, in between her mother and her grandmother. (Summers in A.P were really hot and most people slept on their terrace) This man came along, he was drunk. He picked up the little girl from in between those two women and carried her to the dumpster at a distance, threw her on a pile of garbage, thrust his shirt in her mouth and raped her. It was only 15 minutes later that her grandmother woke up and found her granddaughter missing and went looking for her. She heard muffled screams at a distance and gave out a shrill cry at what she saw. Of course rapist ran away but only after the grandmother got a good look at his face.”
“She is very sick. The sick, drunken bastard bit her all over, on her vagina and it was bleeding uncontrollably. He happens to be the village Sarpanch’s son so we have tracked him down. Me and my friends want justice for the little girl. Do you want to go to the hospital with me?”
I was numb and disgusted. A three year old girl! What kind of a demon does that.
She was tiny, with several bandages on her elbows, knees and forehead. My mother went to talk to the little girl’s mother, trying to comfort her, and telling her that they had found him. I was very uneasy. I did what I do with most kids, gave my index finger to her to hold. She din’t take it. She was expressionless, and just started and started and stared, into some sort of emptiness above my head. I wondered. I wondered if she could even fathom what had happened to her. I wondered if she would grow up to forget this incident. I shuddered and wondered about the society we are living in.
She hadn’t moved for more than 10 minutes now. She was wearing a bottle green frock. A doctor came in to examine her. He moved up to her to lift her frock and see if the wounds on her vagina were healing. The second he touched her frock, she became violent. She started to fight off the doctor’s hands with all her might and was screaming so loudly that probably the entire floor could hear her now. Her mother ran forward and tried to pacify her but the little girl wouldn’t stop her terror stricken cries until the doctor left her room. Her mom was all tears said that she had been doing this. The kid wouldn’t let anyone examine her vaginal wounds. My mother pacified her mother and asked if the little girl had shown any signs of speech. Then my mom turned to me and explained that the girl could speak really well. She had even started going to the local nursery free-education program. But the incident had muted her. The doctors couldn’t tell if she had lost her voice due to the shock of the horrific incident or due to the way her neck was handled during the same. They mentioned that if it was due to shock she would eventually be able to talk again.
I ran out of the room. I cried, a lot. I cried more that night. I could not get her empty eyes and her bottle green frock out of my mind.
The rapist eventually got away. Neither was he tried at court nor was he convicted. Huh! He wasn’t even arrested. He was after all the son of the Sarpanch. He faked a letter from the Government Hospital that said that he had been in the hospital for the last seven days suffering from diarrhea or some shit. The police refused to issue an arrest warrant.
I have thought of that girl many times ever since. I think of her when I read about Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, I think of her when I read about the rape of any woman, in India or otherwise. I thought of her when I read about the public molestation about a 16 year old Gawahati girl by a dozen savages, I thought of her when I read about an independent 25 year old woman in Mumbai who was assaulted and murdered by her lust-filled watchman, I thought of her when another 6 year old girl in Haryana was recently raped, and I thought of her as I watched Haryana Khap Panchayats shamelessly tell the media that the cause of such rapes is women not being married early.
She must be 17 years old now. A teenager. Does she go to school? Does she remember the brutal attack? Will she ever lead a normal life? Does she have a boyfriend? Is she a strong and independent girl? How does our “society” treat her? Has she been shunned? How does she feel about denied justice? And most importantly, can she TALK?
I probably will never find answers to these questions cause I am like most Indians. I do nothing. After all, I have lived and grown up in a society that flops itself in front of the television every Sunday morning to watch shows that have been adapted from the epic, Ramayana, the one where the antagonist sneaks in and kidnaps a married woman against her will, in her husband’s absence, and where the protagonist rescues her from him but gives her as much respect as asking her to jump into the fire to prove her chastity and who abandons her when she is pregnant with his kids.
He was a muffin, a dark and handsome chocolate chip muffin. Although he hated his brand name, Little Debbie, he was glad that he wasn’t made at the Great Value factory. Nobody in general, the young, the old, and the middle-aged, could say no to him. He knew that even the ones who bloated with pride about their diet plans slowed down and stopped for a brief moment just to steal a quick romantic glance at him. He always enjoyed that attention. After all, he knew his life was a brief one, and a one that would end with a disgusting flush down the drain.
He had always wished to choose his home but he knew that was considered atrocious in the “muffin world”. So he waited each day, hoping someone would come by, pick him up, and lovingly put him in their shopping cart, and take him home.
It was a boring Wednesday and it was the first time he saw her. Of course he had heard about her, a lot. None of his fellow senior muffins had thought highly of her or her home. “It is the “muffin hell”, her home, it is infested with roaches,” he had heard them say. A muffin at her house knew neither love nor liberation, it always landed in a bin.
He saw her approach the aisle he was seated on. He was aware that she hated the banana muffin and always picked the blueberry ones so he wasn’t worried. He stared at her as she got close to his rack. It was the first time he got a whiff of her and she sure smelt good. He silently watched as she glanced up and down the rack and threw a pitiful look the blueberry muffin and silently muttered a thankful prayer to Little Debbie for making him with chocolate. Even as he was in the middle of his prayer, he felt himself being lifted from his steel rack and put into her shopping cart. He was shocked and in short of thoughts! He wouldn’t call it the worst moment in his muffin life, no, not yet, he knew the worst was just a mile away.
She was a loud chatterbox with big eyes. It took her new roommates three days to figure this out. Irresponsible and extrovert, an awful combination they had thought. She asked a lot of questions. Well, asking questions was considered okay, after all, she had just landed in the United States. It was during these question-answer sessions that they decided to break the news. They began with, “What do you think of cockroaches? And, Oh! They are called roaches here.” They saw her eyes widen with glee.
She was particularly not a fan of cockroaches or roaches or whatever! But they, the brown insects, had had a special place in her life. She had spent all of her adolescent life dreaming of studying to become a surgeon. She had watched all her seniors as they performed frog dissections. She couldn’t wait to be in high school and major in Biology. But thanks to Menaka Gandhi’s stunted brain development, frogs could no longer be euthanized for knowledge purposes. Her Biology teacher had let her practice dissection on cockroaches. A big brown cockroach was her very first.
“You can keep your apartment as neat as Monica Geller’s but you will still have roaches here. It’s probably cause of the hot and humid weather, so be prepared,” she was told. Little did she realize that it would be the last day she would be able to associate with the roach as a fond memory.
They were everywhere. In the kitchen, on the table, under the blanket, in the shoes, around food, everywhere. Any food packet opened had to be sealed with a paper clip. That was the rule in her apartment. She once forgot to seal a packet of corn cereal. The next day, her roommate saw them feasting and crawling all over the cereal, through the transparent bag. Her roommate was furious, not at the roaches though. At her!
She quickly began to despise them and it increased day by day, exponentially. She always wondered how a country as sophisticated as the United States could not control a feeble insect infestation.
She used the electric cooker to make rice everyday. The cooker lid had a steam vent, small hole through which even her little finger wouldn’t pass. They always went into the cooker through that vent and ruined her cooked rice. They were there on both washed and unwashed dishes. The baby ones would crawl out from her college bag, onto the desk, and towards her classmate, embarrassing her the entire time. One boring afternoon, she was at home, sitting at the dining table busily punching into her keyboard preparing for her weekly meeting as she saw her friend walk into the kitchen. “I’m in the mood for a muffin,” her friend said and pulled open a box that was lying unattended for about a month now. Hundreds of thousands of roaches quickly began swarming towards her friend. She stared, aghast, as her friend impulsively dropped the box, causing the bitches to seek refuge at the nearest available corner. She had never imagined that those many roaches could even exist on the face of the earth. It had reminded her of the crawling bugs from the movie, Mummy. God! They were disgustingly everywhere even though she was at her neatest.
She woke up with a jerk. One of them might have just gotten into her ear. “The roach might have lost it’s way,” she thought, as she tried to remove it from her ear. She tried hot water, a torch to show the lost insect the way out, and ear-buds with lotion. Nothing worked. It was 3 am in the morning and she counted every minute down to sunrise. As the doctor used a water gun to eject the dead bitch out of her ear, she had finally decided that it was time. Time to move out, not just out of the apartment but out of the hot-humid-roach filled town. She booked her flight tickets.
A new place and a new apartment meant shopping for new stuff. She was happy that day. She was smiling as she entered the store. She wanted to do everything a little away from usual today. She got an Iced Mocha instead of the regular Americano at Starbucks, picked pizza for dinner instead of the regular pasta, took strawberry ice-cream instead of the regular pecan, and finally, picked the chocolate muffin instead of the regular buleberry.
He looked around the house as she unlocked the door. He could not remember the last time he was this nervous. His tension could possibly melt the chocolate chips embedded in him.
She set everything down. She was tired from all the moving and decided to grab something to munch.
He heard her humming a soft song as she reached out to him.
She carefully set the chocolate muffin on a blue plate and flopped herself on the couch. Just as she was about to take a bite, she heard her phone ring. She was expecting a hiring manager to call her. She took the phone and ran outside.
He knew his fate was sealed. In about two minutes, he would be swarmed by hundreds of roaches and thus, he would die a shameful death. He waited!
She hung up. She thought that it had gone well. It was her first phone interview. Then she remembered, the muffin. She hadn’t left food open and outside for two years now. The roaches would not spare a thing. She ran inside. And stared, and stared, and stared. No roaches. The relief stuck her like a bolt of lightening. She quickly called two of her ex-roommates and narrated her freedom episode with hyper excitement. Her move brought with it, freedom. “Little pleasures in life,” she thought as she picked up the chocolate chip muffin and began to undress it.
He felt the muffin paper wrap gently part with him. He blushed as she took him close to her mouth and bit into him. The purpose of his muffin life had been successfully achieved. To be eaten by a pretty young girl had always been his ambition. An ambition that was as strong as his roach abhorrence.
She walked back into the kitchen and took a sip of the iced mocha.
An abhorrence that was equivalent to………..
He stopped thinking as the iced mocha washed him down to where his soul found bliss.
That night, she slept peacefully, without her ear-plugs.
I think my forehead is a placard that has compassion written all over it. Perhaps I have a very very long nose that just pokes itself into everything. Either this or my friends think I have been in the shittiest of relationships.
My friends have ‘mostly’ approached me for relationship advice, or so I presume. Knocking the room no. 52 door at 2 am, asking me how to tackle her insecurity mania the day after my eye operation, making drunk ISD called across continents just to cry her broken heart out, and pleading to play cupid and shoot the arrow of love, I have faced every little piece of this shit.
On deep contemplation, I cease to understand the complexity of women. Their complexity is just an inch and a half longer than male complexity. After all, Oscar Wilde said, “Women are meant to be loved, not understood.”
Well, you got it! This is going to be a long one. So grab a snack or two, brew up some coffee to keep you awake through this one because, here, it’s Friday night and I am all charged up on red raspberry margaritas. (Blogstops don’t provide free food and coffee but thank you for stopping by)
A drama queen that I am, I try to cast a broader net, as if the drama in my life doesn’t suffice enough. So, I microwave some popcorn, and watch loads of romantic comedies. Both, series and films. Over the years, while the popcorn has failed to add me any body fat, the list of series has gotten longer. The more I watched, the more the hideous illogical concept thrust itself into my face.
The women in them.
A bunch of fools, I tell you. Most stories have two men wooing the same woman. Usually, one man is an asshole, while the other is a gem. You, me, and the celebrity character herself, all of us know this fact. And yet, as I watch them through the years, the foolish dud of a woman ALWAYS chooses the ‘asshole’ guy. Why? Why? I mean, WHY?
Here, I warn you, don’t ask dumb questions like, “What are the women in Desperate Housewives desperate about?” or, “Does Sex and the City have free porn in it?”
Let’s start with Carrie Bradshaw. Carrie is our celebrity woman from Sex and the City, the silly annoying woman who looks like a horse. Mr. Big is the big asshole. The commitment phobic ______ who loves her enough but cannot or does not want to marry her. After a painful break up with him, she meets this cute and heart warming guy, Aidan Shaw. I mean, seriously, after he cuts his hair, one can tell the difference between him and his dog, and he is handsome. Our Mr. Big who wasn’t ready for marriage and all that sorta crap marries Natasha (some xyz). Mr. Big basically wasn’t just up for marrying Carrie, and she was this desperate woman who needed commitment. Oh! He also treats her like the paper towel he uses to blow his nose into. While Aidan’s really the commitment type of guy and even wants to marry her, this complex horse cheats on him. Eventually the series ends with Carrie and Mr. Big ending up together.
Lexie Grey from Grey’s Anatomy. This young and beautiful doctor falls for the really old and hot Mark Sloan. And, when I say hot, I mean a true peacock. Although Mark, in the past, has been the asshole, he falls in deep love (whatever that means) with our beautiful Lexie Grey. However, Mark has other priorities like competing with Derek Shepard, and wanting to become a father. Young Lexie is not up for it, and they break up, twice. Once because he wants to adopt his daughter’s son, the second time when he becomes his lesbian friend’s daughter’s father. Dr. Jackson Avery comes along. People who watch this show will love Dr. Avery for his eyes. Dr. Avery is young, sensitive and fun loving. Someone with whom Lexie would have been so happy. But our darling Lexie needs drama. So she gets these feelings back for Dr. Sloan and Dr. Avery has to let her go. Time flies. Finally, Lexie Grey tells Dr. Sloan that she loves him, and dies in a plane crash.
Heer from the recent Bollywood film, Rockstar. God alone knows why JJ was portrayed the way he was. The arrogance, the pain-fame funda was so artificial. Anyhow, Heer marries this normal guy and she is suffering from a life threatening disease. She had a chance to die peacefully, but the asshole man, JJ, ruins it for her. Heer leaves her husband to be with Mr. Celebrity JJ. He gets her pregnant, and this worsens her health condition, and eventually she dies.
Susan Mayer from Desperate Housewives. Mike Delfino is somewhat the perfect man for her. But nooooo! She has to go and have an affair with her asshole ex-husband, Karl Mayer. Meera Pandit from Love Aaj Kal. She had to dump the matured and sensible Vikram Joshi for the foolish moron, Jai. Seriously, Jai? The kind of man who realizes that he’s in love while he’s getting mugged? Having known Dr. House for more than eight years, Dr. Cuddy still expected to get out of the relation without being hurt? Melanie Perry from Sweet Home Alabama. The one who loves the life at NYC and leaves her husband, Jake Perry, cause she thinks he’s too uncool. And, then says no to all her dreams and aspirations, and her boyfriend; Andrew Hennings, goes back to the rustic life with Jake Perry. Please note, she said NO to Patrick Dempsey.
Over the years, the only two sane celebrity characters I have come across are Monica Geller from Friends, and our very own Geet from Jab We Met. Ms. Geller knows what she wants and chooses Chandler Bing over Richard Burke. Mr. Burke is not only too old for Ms. Geller, but we don’t like him cause he doesn’t share the same dreams that she does.
Geet! This girl deserves a standing ovation. She had the sense to give it back to Anshuman (all the bad words included here), the man who treated her like shit, and choose our Mr. Right, Aditya Kashyap.
That brings me back to,”Why do women always make, or are shown to make the wrong choice?”
A Tollywood flick, Jalsa, says something that sums up to this. Being with the asshole guy is like life in a jungle, and being with the guy with the big heart is like living in a park. The logic being, life in a jungle is all exciting and never boring, while a park becomes monotonous with time. What stupidity!
Listen up, women! As much as we like adventure in the jungle, we go trekking only once or twice a year. Besides, there may be snakes, and scorpions, no food, and NO toilets. In a park, there is security, there is calm, and there is laughter and joy. As much as we drool over Christian Bale as Batman, we always want to come home to a Chandler Bing. We don’t need the assholes who burn our gifts, have the nerve to ignore our calls, and who treat us with “I’m the high-school bully” attitude.
So screw the Gotyes and take pride in being “somebody that HE USED to know.”
You don’t have to act all Adele’ish and let him be your “one and only.” You don’t have wish to find “someone like him” cause being with him once was traumatic enough.
Let the Carrie go, and let the Geller come in.
There is fun in choosing Mr. Nearly Perfect. (Of course, who are we kidding? There is no Mr. Perfect)