To the women in my life

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Source: images.penguinrandomhouse.comcover9781101911761

 

To the women in my life,

There are those who are remembered for their memorable work; work which has gone down in history. Frankly, history was never my forte. I am writing today to commemorate, to praise the memorable work of those whom I will always remember. I do not need world history for that. They are those who are a part of MY history. And that’s all that matters most. Knowledge is subjective; one can choose the information they want to assimilate. It is, hence, vulnerable to filtration. Perhaps that is why education at its earliest stages is consistent – to ensure you do not overlook the basics in your search for the specific.

I always complained to my Father about what the school thought was the necessary basic education. I had different views. As much as I wanted to study that water has the molecular formula – H2O, I wanted to be taught how to write a check (cheque). As much as centrifugal force intrigued me, I wanted to learn how to drive. As much as I wanted to learn how to invite a friend over for a birthday party, in both, English and Hindi, believe me, I would have appreciated being taught how to write a follow-up email after giving a job interview. I am unsure if I wasn’t paying attention at school but I know that all of the above, I learnt outside of it. My idea of schooling was different. It still is.

So, what did I learn and from whom?

The person I am today is either because of society or because of my stance against it. There are always two sides and you take the best from both. There are many things I find unfair and hence my disapproval toward it. That brings me to all the teachers in my life. We learn through our senses and I learn through observation. I have been observing my Mother, my teachers, my friends. I have seen what they do under an array of circumstances, emulate and improvise upon that. And I am glad that I had/have them in my life to teach me.

One of my teachers is my dear dear friend Ms. Apoorva Mandhani. And the other, who is a part of the same breath, the same heartbeat, Ms. Darshana Mishra. Their opinions matter to me, in a way that I can’t describe. I was once told that friends and family differ in importance. I understand. But importance is not the common measure here. My parents are first in rank under a different category altogether. I know that ultimately it is a joint discussion between the three of us – my nuclear family – that leads to most decisions. Also, many a times, I have done what I’ve felt is right because my family has given me the freedom and my friends have shown me how. I am not talking about importance or who comes first. I am saying they are important. Period.

Why the sudden confession of deepest admiration? It is because of a short story Apoorva insisted I read. By Chimamanda Agozi Adichie, “We Should All be Feminists”, is a story that not only explains the term “feminism” but also tells you how to incorporate that. And I would like to thank Apoorva for the same. Also, would like to mention how much I admire her for introducing me to such things.

You know what’s funny? She herself was introduced to that text by a man. So, awareness exists! Oddly consoling. The fact that that’s a consoling idea is ultimately sad. Equality should be a norm, like calling morning, morning. It should come naturally.

If I ever am asked about the situations I felt I was treated unfairly, was spoken to derogatorily or treated condescendingly, not because I deserved it as a human, but more so because I am a woman, the ear the interviewer would have to lend me should have to be a Nobel Laureate – a recipient of the Nobel Patience Prize.

Yes, I have been told it is my fault that I was looked at. I invited it all upon myself. Apparently, telepathy exists but has been wired to interpret a mental “no” as a “yes”. I cringe at the thought of who has told me that it was my fault. I am disappointed that I have never been able to correct their perception. I failed them because even though I have learnt a lot from them, in other respects, I could not impart a concept I believe in, to them. They are my friends, but I did not do my job as a friend. I apologize.

Yes, I have been told that I am 22 years old and that I should start looking to settle down in a couple of years. Yes! I have been told that if I want to continue studying, I should look for a man who will allow me to do so. I cringe at the thought of not only having to possibly share the bed with a human, whose “permission” will decide my future, but also at the thought of who has told me that that is what marriage is. I failed them because even though I have learnt a lot from them, I could not impart a concept I believe in. It is always my choice, my wish. If I have to take my future husband’s permission for anything, and I say permission, not opinion, then it will be ME who will either allow him or ground him to or from going to a party. I will decide if he can continue working or not. I will decide if his mother can stay with us or not. I will decide if he is allowed to be satisfied or not. Unfair? Who am I to control him? Well, who is he to control me? I am thankful to my parents for showing me that marriage is a two-way street and it is a mutual compromise. I am not saying I am all about the “I”; I understand it is a “we” but I prefer “you and I”.

Yes, I have been told that my bill will be paid for me. The actual phrase is, “the one who invites should offer to pay.” It so happens, that is almost always the case. So, I don’t pay. I will always offer to split, but the choice is actually up to the other person. You take the offer or you leave it. You offer to buy me a drink, I’ll say yes if I please, no if I don’t. If I say yes, don’t bring feminism into the picture. It was a question, respect my positive answer. I was never going to judge you for not spending on me. Come up to me and talk. The conversation is what I will remember, not the bill you paid; not the money you flaunted.

Yes, I have been told that it is easy for me. After all, I can get married and that should take care of me – financially or in any other way. Isn’t that sad? Apparently, I sat with the boys in the classroom to different end results! One shall receive a bonus at work, but my future financial security is the  gold that the bonus will buy. I went through the grind of education to see a man with the same degree, off to work, and to see my degree on the matrimonial resume, being evaluated if I am worthy enough to be ground, albeit differently.

I must admit – I do not know what feminism exactly is. I must admit, I utilize my femininity as a mean to my ends. If I call myself a hard-core feminist, you will tag me as a hypocrite. But what you fail to realize is that I do so because it is hard to be a woman in a man’s world. It is hard to stand up for yourself, with the fear of being abused. The day that changes, I promise, I will too.

And that is why this post for the women in my life. I know I have company when I rant about the troubles I face due to gender inequality. My company is the group of women in my life. And I am glad and grateful that they are there. They support me and introduce me to ideologies worth holding on to. They show me how to do it and that’s how I’ve learnt.

The conclusion is, there isn’t a conclusion. There is only a solution. A lifelong debate, the competition of men v/s women, requires a solution, not a conclusion.

“I went to play hide-and-seek.”

“I read this book today.”

“I nearly slept in the history class.”

“I took the GRE, I’m going to America.”

“I met this person and I think I like them.”

“I got the job!”

“I think my boss hates me.”

“I lost the promotion to the other contender.”

“I am getting married.”

“I must take care of my parents.”

“We’re pregnant!”

“I’m considering taking up teaching.”

“The baby is crying, diaper change?”

“It is time to give our daughter away in marriage.”

“I spoke to the Doctor, they said I have Cancer.”

“I’ve had a full life.”

Did you guess which gender spoke the above lines? Are the primary experiences different? The path of life, different?

“She should not wear such clothes.”

“He touched her? She should not have been alone in the room with him.”

“Why was she out this late? No doubt she was gang raped. She invited trouble for herself.”

“You need not go abroad to study. We’ll find you a suitable boy to take you there.”

“Settle down, your biological clock is ticking.”

“Do not enter the temple, you are impure.”

“You are not a virgin? Oh, I ‘made love’ to 10 different women, but you are not a virgin?”

“I lost the promotion to this guy at work.”

“I feel like my presence in the creative team is just symbolic.”

“I think you should resign and take care of the house.”

“Why do you want to eat out? Didn’t you cook?”

“I don’t think you should take this job, I work here and can’t move.”

This is how a woman’s experiences, on the same path of life, are different.

This is still about the women in my life. I see them deal with this and succeed. I have nothing but pride in my heart and mind, for them. I am in awe. I admire them. They have broken the norm and have taught me how. My Mother was the breadwinner of her own family. She earned more than my Father once upon a time. My Father taught me that there are real men in this world, because he was okay with that. There wasn’t an issue at all.

I am the son and the daughter in my small nuclear family. But why be two different things? I am the offspring, the ward, the child. No need for a gender classification. I will take care of my parents, settle down in life and live. Boy or a girl, this is what a human actually does. I’m human. I’m proudly a human woman. That does not change anything. The sooner both sexes understand this, the sooner everyone becomes a feminist, sooner we all become anti-sexist, the better for humanity, as a whole.

Dhwani Hariharan

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful, strong WOMEN out there. Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee or Tea?

httpswww.chowhound.comblog-media201608header2-bellahousewares.png
Source: httpswww.chowhound.comblog-media201608header2-bellahousewares.png

Disclaimer: Completely fictional.

“Did you pack your-”

“Yes, I did.”

“But you didn’t even let me complete my sentence!”

I sighed. “Fine, I’m sorry. What did you want me to pack?” I asked.

“Never mind. You know all anyway.”

“Mom!”

She left the room then. I rolled my eyes and sighed again.

A strange lack of emotion, a blankness engulfed me. My actions felt mechanical.

“Tea?” she called from the kitchen.

“Coffee?” I answered a question with a question.

“We are out of coffee.”

Silence.

I looked at the door of my bedroom. I hadn’t lived in the house for years. The room hadn’t changed much. It was still a sort of a shrine to me. The perfect daughter of the house – who never really was on her best behavior with her Mother.

I knew she would cry at the truth of her own statement. I knew I had to be her strength in these times. And yet, there I was, exhausted at the thought of having to keep it together, leaving, to get away. It had been a very trying month at home. I had not thought I would be coming back home to this but one can only accept the fate presented.

My Mother and I never had the “confidant” relationship. That was always my Father and me. I loved my Mom, certainly. Her pain was my pain; if she had something to say, I’d always listen. I was always proud of her, like she was of me. But I was more like my Dad. Even though practicality and strength were my forte, two main attributes I could ascribe to my Father and Mother, respectively, the practicality came across strongly and stole the limelight.

I walked into the kitchen to see her strain the tea. I could see the fresh batch of tears glistening on her cheek. I shut my eyes momentarily, overcame the strong urge to cry myself and said, “I’ll speak to Uncle and make all the arrangements to get you to America for a while. I think that will make for a good change.”

“No.”

“What?”

“No!”

“Mom, please.”

“No. You have just begun working and me coming there will add to your expenses and come in your way. It won’t help both of us.”

“I can’t leave you here, alone.”

“I’ll stay at your Grandmother’s and I’ll be fine. I need company. I need the kids. You’ll continue being a ghost and me, more of a burden than I already am.”

“Mom, will you stop it? I never said anything like that! I don’t know why you keep calling yourself a burden!”

“This is the only world I know and you know how I fear change. America will be way too daunting for me. You know that! Why do you want to subject me to it without..without..”

And she began crying again.

“You know it is difficult for me, too,” I whispered. “I need you to get over everything, the same way I know you need me.”

“And to stay apart is the right way to do that, my dear.”

I was always like my Father. I had never seen strength overpower practicality. But I knew those words required a lot more strength than sense.

We looked at each other. Two sets of chocolate brown eyes staring into the depths of each other. And I felt a lot like my Mother suddenly.

“He loved the perfect combination of bitter and sweet – his coffee, you know? Piping hot,” she said and smiled.

“I like it just bitter.”

“Yeah, well, you were never sweet,” she said and chuckled.

“Mom!” I said and rolled my eyes.

She took her cup of tea and left the kitchen to sit in the living room. The television formed a slight murmur, dimming the ticking clock. Time had passed, as it always does.

My eyes scanned the platform. I picked up another cup and poured tea into it. I took my cup and went to join her.

There were always two coffee drinkers at home. There always remained two coffee drinkers, even after I left home. Perhaps no coffee was the moment of truth, of acceptance. Perhaps, that is the beginning of change, of moving on. Her way of bidding a Bittersweet goodbye. My way of helping her through it.

                                                                                                     Dhwani Hariharan

P.S. Yes, two days in a row! Wow, I do miss writing! Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

The Black Screen

httpsresources.matcha-jp.comarchive_filesjp201502p1312204.jpg
Source: httpsresources.matcha-jp.comarchive_filesjp201502p1312204.jpg 

Disclaimer: Completely fictional. Not intended to hurt anyone. Inspired from “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova.

The silence that greeted her at 6AM every morning was the one she had always loved. The morning birds chirping, the ocean that hit the shore and cascaded away, all became prominent in the calm silence. True, this was always evident during the late night walks along the beach, but her attention then used to be directed toward the hand that held hers, with all else becoming the romantic music, embellishing the regular to fantasy.

Today, she sat there, in front of the glass wall, beyond which lay the silent ocean. She had her laptop perched atop the desk, with a blank document open, waiting for her to type out the beauty she saw. She looked at the screen, then looked up. Someone walking down the stairs caused her to look around. She saw this beautiful man walk up to her and say, “Good morning, darling.” He gave a small peck and checked the screen. His small smile turned forlorn and he sighed, deeply.

“Why do you like the beach?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“What if you get sand in your device?”

“Hahaha!” she couldn’t help but laugh at his innocent, child-like remark.

“I’m serious, Zoya.”

“Alright, I shall take you seriously. I don’t know why but water has always been an inspiring source, I suppose.”

“Why not use a book? And a pen?”

“Have you seen my handwriting? Even I wouldn’t be able to understand what I write!”

“Oh, come on!”

“Everyone is allowed hypocrisies, so stop judging!”

“What do you want to write about today?”

“How about I write a chapter on you?”

“And have me published, with all my flaws? No thanks.”

“I love your flaws. I love you for your imperfections. They make me feel secure. I could use them as leverage later when I  grow old to be fat and ugly,  you know.”

“I will stand by you, come what may, Zoya. I promise.”

The promise echoed in his own head, years later today, as he looked at her, her “device” propped in front of her, the beach she so adored with the waves crashing at the shore, just beyond the glass wall.

She looked at the man. She felt oddly secure and yet didn’t really feel much. She didn’t have anything to say to him and even if she did, she didn’t know how. Just like she didn’t know what to fill the blank document with.

“I think I have writer’s block. It hasn’t lifted in days now!” she complained.

They were at the new beach house they had bought for her to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city during the summers, to write. Her next deadline was approaching and she hadn’t written much. The publishers weren’t threatening to drop her yet but she was still becoming anxious.

Her favorite spot was the desk which was strategically placed in front of a huge glass wall. The ocean was right in front of her and the sound of the waves gave her the perfect background score to type out her thoughts. On some days, her husband would play the grand piano, adjacent to her. This never disturbed her. The music and lyrics always went hand-in-hand. This was one of the ways she sprouted symphonies – many of which were published.

“How do you want me to console you this time?” he asked.

“Well, remind me that I do know how to write, considering I feel as though this is my first attempt, my first book, all over again.”

She sat down and curled up against him. She felt a little sick.

“Hey, you are my favorite author in this whole world. You pulled Graham Greene out of the top spot and sat there with the very first sentence you spoke to me.”

“I want to write a book which will pass through generations, have people breathe in the paper to travel several worlds with a sniff and feel the touch of those they could never feel,” they chimed together.

“It was the most crazy and weird start to a small talk I had ever heard. You just had me then and with the book you are about to write, I know you will have me all over again.”

She looked up at him and smiled. She didn’t say anything. Neither did he. The laptop made a sound which caused them to look toward it.

“I’ll get the charger,” he said and left her side.

He shouldn’t have. It caused her to flinch and her smile faded into dread. She stood up and moved away from him when he returned to the room. He realized that something had gone wrong. He began to approach her but stopped in his tracks soon. He noticed the dread turn into fright.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s just me. You were working on your laptop. It is about to die. I just brought you the charger. Or do you not want to work anymore?”

“I..I..uh..can..not,” she mumbled.

“Well, that’s okay. You can go upstairs and rest then.”

“No. Write…I can’t,” she said.

He looked away then. He couldn’t look at her anymore. “I’ll send Vanessa. She’ll help you go upstairs and rest.” He walked away. He was finding it difficult to contain his tears.

“I won’t be the person you’ve always known. The person you’ve spent twenty-five years with. I won’t be the same. I won’t be able to speak, write, anything. I’m sorry..” she said to him one night.

She had been surprisingly strong since the diagnosis. She was more worried about his life, after her.

“Will you stop it? You are just fine! You are how you’ve always been. Please, stop it,” he begged her.

“All the things that made you fall in love with me will fade away. One morning, I’ll wake up and look at you, unable to recognize this face.”

Her strength and indifference to the painful words she was speaking scared him a little. He realized that she had accepted her fate and he hadn’t.

“Who knew it wasn’t writer’s block that kept the words away from me.”

She looked at the back of this beautiful man. She wanted to respond but she couldn’t. She didn’t know how.

“I’ll send Vanessa. She’ll help you go upstairs and rest,” she heard him say. He then walked away. She felt helpless. She had so much to say but she just didn’t know how. Her frustration streamed down her cheeks and she broke down completely. She couldn’t recognize this man. She didn’t know if she could trust him. Was he trying to help her? Who was he? A chapter in her life she couldn’t write? She just didn’t know anything.

“A book to remember?” he asked. “That’s a nice definition of a book one would remember, always.”

She was surprised that her random rant would be met by eager ears. She smiled at the beautiful stranger.

“Yes, even those who have a tendency to forget! Haha,” she said and they laughed.

The laptop beeped. The blank document visible for a moment. No words would ever be written by the same hands on that blank screen. It was almost as if it knew. It allowed the room to see it momentarily and then it went black.

Dhwani Hariharan

P.S. I know it has been very long since I wrote something. So here goes…Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Time

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New Castle, NH, USA – Jan 1, 2017

Time is all you need;
Time to become, time to be,
Time for you to find somebody.
Be the women you aspire to be.
Be the woman you want to be.
Even if based on a movie or series,
Be the woman, they dream to be.
Ambitious, are you not, think thee?
But you are! Even if based on else, somebody.
The sand isn’t the same,
The waves crashing on the shore aren’t the same.
Then how can you immutable be?
Time is all one needs.
Be happy, be content,
You have a long while to go,
The year has just begun, even it isn’t anybody.
Change your view to January.
Look! It’s going to be a handful of twelve months, baby!
Things will work out or go wrong.
You can’t blame it on nobody
Time could take the blame but
It asks you to take it in your stride.
Time has control over everything
Time is somebody.
Time is the main being.
But time who?
Who we created ?
Yes.
Were you asked before it was created?
No.
So are you somebody yet?
No.
Will you be?
Absolutely!
Work harder, expect less.
Then one day, you will have time in your hands.
Goals in sight.
Don’t be ruled by emotions.
Like the waves which crash and forget.
Let it out.
Out of your system.
Out
All your desperation,
All your weaknesses,
Your sadness,
Your worries..
Let it out and let the waves wash it all away.
Away
And take them all far away.
Away
And you’ll feel light again.
Let time and water do the work.
Be like water.
Even it isn’t bound to the shore!
So should you mustn’t be.
Be such a woman;
The one you aspire to be.
Calm yet?
Yes.
You won’t be soon. What will you do?
I’ll let time do it’s work.
I’ll do what time would do.
I’ll do what the waters do.
Take it in my stride.
Engulf it.
And swallow it all.
And let it be taken far away.
Like the waves do, crashing and retracting from the shore.
That’s how one should live their lives.
Why doesn’t one?
Be unbound.
Be time.
It passes.
It changes.
And so does the sea.

-DH

P.S. Letting it all go in the previous year.

Gone

August Goodbyes

My blog on my mug!!!
My blog on my mug!!!

Alrighy then. First and foremost, apologies for having abandoned my blog…for nearly 1.5 months. No excuses. A very bad thing to have done. Complete lack of trying as well… Been out of Reach of my inner writer; willingness to write. Things have finally fallen into place, and so I can begin!

I understand that my entire theme of July went down the drain, but I shall write that out as I did learn cooking, albeit, basic, just-for-survival cooking! I can’t let Julie and Julia July just fade away with the category blank!

Anyway, August is here! Who am I kidding… it has been here for weeks now, sorry 😦

It’s the final month in India, for I don’t know how many years to come! I’m quite blank, I’m neither excited, nor sad. I’m just..?

It started with saaa aka Abbas leaving, that’s when I wrote my first goodbye. Now it is time for me to say so to my special people and hence, I shall obediently give them my kind of goodbye – something this permanent and PDA-like. And what is a better medium than an abandoned warehouse of written work!?

August is my last with my people, my soulmates, my lovelies, and I am going to make it all worth it!

Before I begin, if I miss out on someone, which is unlikely, remember that I love you too!

As for practicing my short stories, many more months are yet to come! So worry not!

First, for my egg, my penguin!

P. S. Okay, must admit, feels great to write here again…knowing someone somewhere is reading! Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂

Reach

Julie-and-Julia July!

My omelette attempt on my parents anniversary on Nov 21 2015
My omelette attempt on my parents anniversary on Nov 21 2015

July is here! The next new month! A new theme! So, the count down for ‘further education’ has officially begun and now the time has come for this book worm to enter the kitchen and learn to…cook. Yes, the worm doesn’t know much.

Having set the priority for this month at home, I figured, what better than to use the same for the blog? So, remember the movie Julie and Julia? The one where Julie Powell blogs about the 524 recipes she learns from Julia Child? This is going to be nothing like that.

The plan is to write about the tiny, simple food items I learn to prepare. It won’t be helpful, it won’t look appealing. But I’d like some encouragement and hence, this plan!

Please await my feeble attempts at cooking and learning the different types of egg preparations for the current month – July! I’m sorry, Julie-and-Julia July!

P. S. Please don’t accuse me of copyright theft…I hope this is sufficient acknowledgment for the wonderful and inspiring movie with brilliant actors! Happy cooking! 🙂

New month, new theme!

Image source: http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/02/24/635918693439235694275665686_parents_child_silhouette1.jpg
Image source: http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/02/24/635918693439235694275665686_parents_child_silhouette1.jpg

At what age does the child become the parent? I never thought of this until now. Now probably because it’s the anxiety of separation, which is twofold. One, the fact that I am leaving my parents alone and going quite far; two, that I will be all alone to deal with what’s coming, which is intimidating. I am growing up and learning to be independent and it’s daunting. Also, my parents are growing younger than me, making them more vulnerable and require reassurances. Don’t misinterpret this. I am still dependent on finances which they will be providing but there are minor details and instances where I can understand that I am being the parent.

So I guess this is the slow transition, from being the kid to the adult; the same transition which the parent goes through, from being the parent to being parented.

Devoting the month of June to “Parenting Parents” I have decided to write one instance, every Sunday, when I felt that I am being what they have been for me throughout my life. I have been the parent, taking care, reassuring, guiding, something my parents continue to do even today, undoubtedly. It isn’t embarrassing for me to admit that at times they need help and I take charge, I feel good about it! Finally, I can reciprocate on some level!

Hopefully you will be able to relate to it if you are of my age, look forward to it if you are still young, recollect it if you aren’t very old yet and observe it if you are the transitioning parent right now. First case on Sunday!

P. S. I took a day off at the start of the month. But for a change I am being consistent! Shhh, I must not jinx it! Happy parenting! 🙂