For most of my life, I used to consider myself lucky. I’ve had a beautiful childhood, doting parents who have given me the liberty to make my own mistakes, an amazing environment where I can mingle around with whoever I pleased, the freedom to date whoever I want to and, the most important of all, an education. I had never, and have never, taken my privileges for granted. Until recently; I began to think – Lucky? Why did I consider myself lucky? Isn’t all this what I am supposed to be receiving anyway?
Not really, as the current state of affairs clearly exhibit. My eating what I want to, sitting however I feel like, talking and spending time with people of my choice, dressing up in what I feel looks good on me, and going out whenever and wherever I want to, are things I need to be eternally grateful for, it…
This poem is a representation of thoughts and how sometimes though we are physically in the moment, the mind wanders in the past. Looking for memories and stories to fill the blank spaces of the present. I wrote this poem when I heard the story of a friend. It seemed so similar to many relationships and yet was so different, there was yearning, there was pain and there was still hope. For me the man here could mean anything, moments that will never come back, ones childhood, your own past haunting you. It could mean anything.
Many people read this poem and give me their versions of the story. For some it is the story of a girl, for some it is an expression of yearning and some say it just is the mind, the way one reacts to things. This poem is open to interpretation, you can understand it in your own way. Let me know what you think of it. Here goes…
Your lost in the meadows,
your ashes gushing through the streams of history.
And sometimes I wish I could bring you back.
Flashes of laughter, of plays and games
Flashes of a word with a golden haze.
I try my best to look so deep
To find that place, the site beneath your feet.
I’ve lost that face, the person that existed.
Though you are here, it is those flashes I live with.
I blow wishes that fly gently like soft cotton in the breeze.
Across the maze, through the paddy fields,
Reaching those mountains, in search of those meadows and streams.
I open my wishful eyes in hope of finding you, of finding me…
And I see your eyes looking at me,
Fresh, unscorned, in a daze
There’s a glare at the side of your lashes.
I hide in the shadow of your face, waiting for the man in those flashes.
Yes, you are here and yesterday knows you were in the meadows too,
But my dear that was different,
Though the man is the same,
Then I was a woman who loved you.
The storm, the famine, the windy days,
had never gotten the better of us.
Because we knew through our games and plays
that there was no need for a fuss.
But, no flashes need to tell me of that unforgettable sky
It rained and thundered while the sun was bright.
“Rainbows!” they screamed, as they danced and made merry
And indeed it was, rainbows in the clouds of many,
I knew better, the God’s did lie,
It was a sign for us, of departure, of goodbye.
The rain had stopped and the sun did shine
All the colours stood, beaming in a line.
Stories were told of the fox and the crow,
As they laughed loudly, drunk in wine.
I stood there staring at the woven skies,
No hand in mine, no reason for merry.
Lost in the meadows, a million stories to bury.
Strange those days and stranger still life’s ways.
In darkness we had stood and faced the tests of time
Yet, the morning breeze, the coming dawn, had tore us apart
took away what was mine.
Those colours had faded and the sky turned blue
You came back and held my hand, things started anew
But I lost the string of love to the colours in the sky
And I know, you lost it too, all the things we couldn’t deny.
Years have passed and we’re still together
It isn’t the same, uncertain and wavery, things change like the weather.
There are hurt and regrets and unmet expectations.
There’s love, yet fear and many hesitations.
We smile, we laugh, our pain and anger kept discreet
Rarely do I see, do I experience your warmth,
Waiting here forlorn , in hopes to meet.
So many years of togetherness and we hold that number with pride
It’s been so full of hopes and disappointments, this long ride.
Teary I shut these eyes every night, trying not to feel the prick of your whiplashes
Touching the scars, feeling the pain, yet I wait…
Wait for the man you were, the man in those flashes.
The beautiful images are taken from Farhan Hussain, a visual artist. You can check his work at http://iamfarhan.com/ or follow him on Instagram https://instagram.com/farhanhussain/
“They called us dogs, treated us like animals. In an hour’s time, they turned our land into a graveyard,” said Ulfath Jaffar. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she narrated her story. Ulfath is a mother of four children; her husband was an auto driver. She stayed along with her mother and 1600 other families in Ejipura, until that fateful day. Her house was torn down, her family split, her belongings lost, in one day her life changed drastically.
Carrying her daughter in her arms, she explained that her family was living there for 120 years. She was born and raised in that same place. “I am a tenant, I have a voter’s id, Adhar card, all issued in the same address. Unfortunately I was not given the house papers because I did not have money. The leaders made the papers in someone else’s name in front of me just because he paid them 5000 rupees. They did not even let me make a bio metric card. We have been cheated by everybody.”
Ulfath works as a sales woman at a cloth shop, her mother as a maid. Like any normal human being she says she too has dreams, she would like her children to study and stand on their own feet. “I am poor and uneducated but I do not want my children to see the same life. They were all going to school, but now we are stranded, we have no place to go, no roof over our head, I feel helpless,” she cried.
People gathered around us, eager to tell their story. They wanted their voice to be heard. Ulfath could not speak but the pain in her eyes spoke loud enough. The moments of silence was broken by the voices of the people around. Strangely there was no one consoling her, they all abused the political leaders, called them every name in the book, but nobody even rubbed her back. It was a group of angry, frustrated, hurt and most of all broken people, who had lost all hope and had nothing but their voices to support them.
“The media reports facts; everybody knows that we have lost our houses, they know of the bulldozers mowing our houses down but who really knows what we are going through? Until somebody comes and throws you out of your house and leaves you lying on the footpath, you really wouldn’t know our pain,” said Pande, one of the former residents at Ejipura.
Gaining her strength Ulfath spoke again. The past few months have been frightening for each one of us, she said. We abuse our leaders because they broke our trust. We had faith in them but all they cared for was their life and their money. Being deserted and helpless is one thing, being hurt and betrayed is another. I do not see even a slightest ray of hope.
“I do not know what my rights are, I do not know the things the government speaks of. All I know is, I have been wronged. It wasn’t a doll house that they brought down, we are human beings and those ‘so called’ tents that they destroyed, were our houses.”
That afternoon Ulfath had gone to work, she returned back after a hard day’s labour only to find bulldozers tearing down the houses. Her first reaction she said was that of panic. “I looked for my children, people were screaming, the police were beating everybody irrespective of whether they were men or women. I went in, my house was already broken, I ran to my brother in law’s house. He is handicapped, he cannot walk. The police were dragging him. I stopped them, and told them that he could not walk and that I would take him out. They did not heed to my requests, I had no other go, I yelled at them. They hit me on my hands and legs and lifted my brother in law and threw him down, they then dragged him and threw him out. I did not know how to react, I was shocked at their heartless behaviour, sad that I had to go through something like this and angry at everybody around,” she said fuming as she recollected the brutal incidents that had occurred.
She also said that her sister in law’s hand was swollen by the way the police beat her. Everyone who tried to resist the cops got a good whacking she said. After a while people got scared, nobody tried to go against the police.
“I turned only to find my children taking shelter at the petrol bunk. There were many children there. All of them were frightened. I went to them and asked if they were alright. All thanks to Allah they were fine. The cops did not hit the children,” she said.
Syed Fardeen is Ulfath’s eldest son. The nine year old volunteered to talk when he heard his mother describing the scene. He said everybody were running hither and thither, his siblings and he were bawling not knowing what to do. “I held my younger sister’s hand and ran towards the petrol bunk, I wanted my mummy but she was at work so we sat and waited for her on the steps. There were many other children with me but I was still scared. My house was broken, I kept thinking, where would we stay after this.”
Ulfath called her husband, Syed Jaffar. He sat with his head down, and said “I was angered by what I saw. I did not want my children to sleep on the footpath. I took out the top covering of the auto and covered them. The next day my auto owner found out about what had happened, he took the auto away. He did not think twice about me or my family. My children and many others took refuge inside a huge pipe. It was a gutter, we found it difficult to breathe. There were a lot of people inside, it was suffocating. My son fell ill because of the dust and the bad conditions in which we stayed. We could not take him to the hospital because we did not have money. We lived like that for 9 days until somebody told us about a place in Sarjapur and I came here.”
Describing the whole situation she said that the entire 15 acres of land on which their homes stood was now ruined. Fences were built around the land in a few hours and all the people were warned to stay 100feet away from the fence. “They treated us like animals, when food was being distributed to us the MLA called us dogs and said why are you distributing food to these dogs. If you give them food, they will not leave this place. Treat them how they must be treated he told the police,” we were all a witness to it said the others as Ulfath spoke.
Ulfath’s family has split her mother stays in the servant quarters at her employer’s house. I was curious to know how Ulfath and her family came to Sarjapur road, when I asked her she replied, “None of the government officials told us about this place. Some of the people who saw how miserable our condition was, informed us about the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) Quarters at Sarjapur Road. The mosque was giving money to Muslim families. Each one was given a coupon and on display of the coupon, money was provided. I received 5000 rupees. At that time the expenses were too much, all the money was spent on travel, food and other basic necessities. Now I do not have a penny in my pocket.”
Jaffar has been trying to look out for a job, if he does not go to work the family will starve. He says that though all he knows is to drive an auto, he is ready to do any kind of job for his family. He is trying his luck everywhere but hasn’t got a job yet. “I want my children to go back to school, at no cost do I want them to suffer. If they study they will not have to face the kind of life I am facing. They can be happy.”Even as the family moved to Sarjapur they encountered a lot of problems. Truck drivers and Lorry drivers were dropping us off for free, she said. “Many of us lost our vessels during the demolition. I lost 7000 rupee worth of belongings, there were a few things that I carried along but was stolen on the way. I realised that by sitting in Ejipura and crying, I wouldn’t get my house back. So we decided to move on and start doing what we have to. Only when I came here did I realise that there is no hope.”
Jaffar said that the thought of his future scares him, every time he thinks of tomorrow, a million thoughts cross his mind, a million questions for which he would never get answers. “I have lost all faith in humanity. There is no one who would help us, no one we can trust. Everybody we once looked up to and trusted be it the leaders who made false promises of giving our houses back or our religious leaders or the people around, everyone is selfish. We feel betrayed and lonely. It’s a huge world out there yet our world is so different, homeless and helpless,” he added.
Talking about the future, Ulfath looked up towards the sky and said that it is only hope that is keeping them alive. Hope of a better tomorrow, faith that god can do miracles. But then again after a long pause, she looked at her daughter and said, “If things still don’t get better, we have only one option. We will take poison and die. I’d rather die than live a life like this. Full of pain, fear and anger. People don’t cry anymore because their tears have dried up. Life has taught us so many things.”
At the end of our conversation, one lady tapped me on my knee, I turned to look at her. She introduced herself, her name was Fathima. She asked me you heard our story, you recorded our conversation, will this help us? So many people have written about this issue, will your writing bring a difference? I was speechless, I had no words to say and then I replied, “It is not my writing that would bring a difference to your life, it is your story, your truth that would make the change. I believe, humanity hasn’t died away. There is still a streak of hope.” I did not want to tell them to hang on or to be optimistic because no one could replace their loss. As they rightly said, until you stand in their shoes, you will really never know their pain.
As I got up to bid goodbye, I overheard a one woman saying, “We cannot help it, after all it is our fate. I only hope God does not abandon us.” Her words struck me deeply, the pain I saw in their eyes, their distrust towards the system and the aura of hopelessness that surrounded them brought out the dual face of our society.
It was then that a thought struck my mind, “They say it is god who writes our fate. But who really writes the fate of the poor, is it the government? Is it the media? Is it the corporate world? Who really writes their fate? I wonder…”
This story should have garnered far more attention that it has. This article was written for a book that was on the stories of those who were brutally evacuated in Ejipura. The project was dropped in between, but I sent it across to the Tabor Kirana. If you have anything to say or would like to know more, you can send me an email.
The article was originally published in The Tabor Kirana.
The increasing number of rapes, molestations, acid attacks and various other crimes on women, has instilled fear and a strong sense of insecurity among most people. Women don’t feel safe in their own cities. While some of them take precautions, so as to stop any untoward incidents, the others have started raising their voices in hope that it would bring about some change in the system. The law no doubt, has been made more stringent, the society has become more aware, but the situation remains the same and so does the question, “Who is responsible for these crimes? When will they stop?”
“A woman like any other individual, has the right to dress as she wishes and to do what she wants. This is her birth right and no one can take that away from her. Asking a woman to change or to take precaution is like asking a man not to step out of his house, because there’s a mad dog on the loose,” says Vichitra Johnson, engineering student at Vemana Institute of Technology. We have seen the exploitation of the female gender since centuries. Crimes against women are committed every minute, some of them so heinous that they have left scars in the consciousness of every individual, a black mark on the society at large.
It is said that a woman’s dressing provokes a man to commit the crime, which was a sin in thought itself. However there are arguments that speak better, children are being molested too, and it certainly isn’t their dressing that is provoking these perverted men. When petty matters like dressing and reaching home before dark takes the limelight, the actual issue becomes secondary. The ‘cause’ for which the nation must stand up for, is lost in darkness.
Our culture speaks of respect and reverence to women, no other culture has so many female deities like we do. But does all this begin and end with words alone? Today, we hear of our great cultural heritage in the advices given to women and at times when we need to back our country up when topics of degrading moral values surface. On the one hand we call ourselves a developing nation, a transforming society. We are a ‘god fearing’ country, we worship female deities. And on the other hand women are treated as the weaker sex, who have to safeguard themselves from all the scot free criminals and the potential ones.
Sankesh Ranka, BBM student expressed his sadness at the fact that people still tell their daughters to dress right, to come back early, to stay safe and they let their sons do as they please because they are men. Parents are of course concerned for their children, but doesn’t discrimination begin at home, he questions.
Is it a woman’s silence that has been taken for granted over the ages, or is it the subordinate role that women have taken in the past that the society wants them to uphold even now, or is it sheer dominance that men want to exert on women. In all these arguments, the question still remains unanswered.
“I believe it is not the system that has to change. A change in the system may infuse fear in the people but men who want to be sexists, people who want to disrespect women will still do so. So I believe if there is a change to come about, it must be a change in the attitude, perception and mindset of the people. It is a thought that leads to an action,” says Mahesh Karunakaren, former State Level Wrestler.
Girls must be taught their rights, parents must treat their daughters as equals to their sons and sons must be taught to respect their sisters and the women around. That is where empowerment of women begins. It is there that a girl will learn that she has the right to raise her voice, silence is an option and she can opt to ‘speak’. Eve teasers are definitely someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s husband. When they decide to look at women differently, to change their mindset, only then will a woman be able to walk out of her house without the fear of being teased or harassed on the streets.
When a man realises that a woman has the right to choose her partner, she has the freedom to reject proposals that come to her, she is a human being with her own set of beliefs, acid attacks will stop. When women start connecting to other women and look at the other with sympathy and understanding, female infanticide and dowry cases will stop. Its not just a man but a society as a whole that bears the shame of the exploitation women face.
People around must realise that if there were no women to manage a home, the society would go haywire. Working or non working, women deserve respect for their very existence because they are no less than any man on earth, said Suraj Cyril, Visual Communication student and basket ball player.
We have Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla, Ashwini Nachappa, PT Usha, Mary Kom, Kiran Bedi and then we have ‘Nirbhaya’. Let our nation be recognised by our achievements and not by our ruthlessness. It is silly that in the end we blame the woman after she all that she has gone through, after she has borne the brunt of a man’s deeds.
Do not blame her for being the victim, it is you and I who have given way for her to be the victim. It is not her silence, but ours that is responsible for her plight.
Every individual must change their attitude and begin respecting women, not because they have withstood the tests of time or because they are the source of life or because they have fought for generations and have come to a stage where they can live independently. Respect her because they are individuals like anybody else, with equal opportunities and equal rights. A woman deserves better and it is only ‘You’ and ‘I’ who can bring this change. It begins with you, in your mind!
Originally published in the Tabor Kirana, All India Catholic magazine
We’ve heard stories of people falling in love with their best friends, with a college mate or someone they came across at some point of time in life and that someone just became too special. What’s more? You have love birds in the virtual world as well, they have never met but every Skype call and message is so packed with love.
But what if one could fall in love with the imaginary, someone existing within the darkness of your mind. Can you really be infatuated with someone or something that does not exist?
This poem is an expression of one’s love towards the unknown. I hope you enjoy it, Read on!
Far, far away deep under the sea I see your dark blue eyes gazing at me It’s the surface keeping us apart And every time you blink, its love that fills my heart.
It’s your eyes I’ve fallen in love with It’s those eyes that’s driven me crazy The selflessness, the love, the innocence, the peace Everything your eyes depicts to me Raises my heart increases its beats….
How can I explain this loneliness and pain? My world, without you is, oh! so plain It’s a wave of departure that’s engulfed me… You’ve made me empty from within Is this what love really is…Walking through heavens doors, While in reality you’re on the floor….
No matter what it may be, no matter what they say. I hope, one day the clouds open wide I see you as a whole with your eyes shining bright I’ve made a quick decision, I pray it comes true Either you rise from below or I’ll come to you.
All I want to know is who you really are The genie in the waters or a fallen star Soon you’ll move away, soon you’ll find your way I know this won’t last for long You’ll soon be a memory to cherish, A thought that will fill me with bliss…
But every time I live this moment I know you’ll come alive Your piercing eyes will catch my sight And soon you’ll take hold of my mind.
I have no regrets for what is happening I know not whom to complain Cause you’re a dream that I’ve created And I’m the one to blame.
I can see you moving a part, Slowly pacing away However far you move, you’ll remain in my heart There forever you’ll stay!
The film is to be screened at New York on the 21st of March, for the UN Violence Against Women Day.
‘Scarred’ is a film that I shot while I was in my final semester. Being a Visual Communication student, my interest in films have only grown with time and my love for the medium has become stronger. Film making is more of a passion than anything else.
The documentary, ‘Scarred’ is beyond all a small attempt by someone in the big wide world to tell a story, the story of these women, who I call brave. Who have fought a battle that was never theirs and still emerged victorious. They are testimony to the fact that appearance and outer beauty does not define a person. Even though they lost their face they braved the tests of time, fought the underlying patriarchal notions of society, stood up for themselves and today no force can wipe out their identity!
Their stories have the power to change lives, to touch people. ‘Scarred’ isn’t just a film, it is a message that must reach out to millions of people who are unaware of the gravity of the situation.
While I was shooting the documentary I never imagined as to how this film would reach people. I was just experiencing the whole journey, a life changing journey. Three months of the shoot was an unforgettable experience. It changed my perception of the world, in one short sentence, ‘IT CHANGED ME’.
After the edit and the release, I knew that ‘Scarred’ was the closest thing to my heart. I knew that this film will change lives. Will it bring change in the society? Will it change the world? Will it change the system? No, these were questions I cannot answer and quite frankly, I am unsure of it. But I know that each individual who watches ‘Scarred’ will take back something, something that might touch your heart, something you will always remember, something that will bring you close to humanity, closer than it would to reality. 30 minutes will be an experience that you will never forget and that, I am sure of.
The film looks at the underlying patriarchal structure that guides the entire mental and physical functioning of the society. It looks into the misogynistic ideologies that exists till date. My main aim was to send a message across to the world, to you! What that message is only the film will tell.
Scarred urges you to not just lend your ears but to lend your hearts to the issue.
Scarred is the second documentary all India to be made on the issue of Acid Attacks and the first to gain a nationwide platform. The film has been featured in leading newspapers in India.
It has been running in several film festivals and has won all the categories in the Rolling Frames International Film Festival (Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best Music Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Direction). It was also nominated in the Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival and the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, a State Award. It is currently running for the Zero mm Youth Film Festival South Asia, 2016.
An interview in Asianet, a leading Kerala News Channel.
Recent coverage in the Deccan Chronicle, Kerala
Here is ‘Scarred’ in the Deccan Herald, leading national English daily.
Featured in the Deccan Chronicle
A story of it was in the Bangalore Mirror, the first paper that covered Scarred.
India’s Daughter, I considered myself one too and so did half the nation living under one government, hoping for the same damn thing since ages- our rights and our freedom! My freedom! Come to think of it, it’s strange that in our world we ask for our freedom, ask for our rights to be given to us, for justice to be done. Why ask? Why beg? Is this what it all is? The modern, independent woman must bow down and succumb to the pressures of the male dominated society and beg that justice be done to her? Does that give you a sense of power?
I am a woman and I live in India. And yes I am afraid, afraid all the time that I am a woman, afraid that I live in a land that through actions, time and again have proved being a woman gives you no right, no freedom. Up until now, I like many others believed that someday there will be better security, better hope, better future and if nothing more at least equality of man and woman. But I was foolish and so are you if you think better of the future.
I’m sure now that I have accepted that and am willing to close my eyes to you, the fascist government, infringing on my right and upholding the very thought that man and woman of the modern world have tried to fight, the mindset of a woman being the lowly one, the less deserving one, the world is going to be a better place. Isn’t that all you want, the men in power who are sitting on your high chairs (surprisingly with the votes of man and woman alike)? You want us to turn a blind eye to all that threatens us, turn a blind eye to the hurt and the wounds on our body and walk away from it all, like nothing happened. But dear government, we have been quiet too long and you can ban all that you want, but you will never be able to ban and stop the fire that is ignited within.
India’s Daughter reflects the mentality of not just the rapists or the so called ‘educated’ lawyer, it reflects the mentality of the society that we live in. The men that we women may be brushing shoulders against in buses and trains and it shows just how unsafe we are! Ban it, to give us a false notion of security but trust me dear ones, on those high chairs we did not need a documentary to tell us this society is full of misogynistic ideas and men who are equal to stray dogs running on the roads. We did not need a lawyer to point out the fucked up state of our nation. We knew it all along, it’s just reality hitting the entire nation at once.
It sickens me to see what this great country has come to and I feel ashamed that I live under this sort of a government that had a bad past, no doubt but shows us a bleak future as well. It saddens me that Nirbhaya could be anybody, even me. What are you afraid of? Being questioned? Are you afraid that may be now a woman will come to her full power and say No! Is that what I see? Fear of the masses coming together for a woman? Is that against this country’s values and principles? The blind folded Lady of Justice in your courts has taken an all new meaning. You have tarnished the belief that I had in you.
You can ban the film for fear of your power be shaken, but if these atrocities require a nude protest to stop, if you require a protest with women all over to come together with their honour and chastity unhidden to send out a message that it never is in our clothes or our moves and that consent belongs to us, then that sort of a protest is not too far away.
In all glory I would like to say, do not proscribe the film, proscribe me! I am the fault, I am a woman! And I am a happy fault, a strong one, a powerful one, and I don’t need your permission to speak, to question, to exist!