I Don’t Want Children.

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“I don’t want children.”

My mother tells me I’ll change my mind,

“Age will get to you. You’ll want it because I did, too.

And before that, I didn’t, either.”

I want to believe her. To take her word for it. To tell her, “Yes, mother. You’re probably right, again.”

But I can’t. My heart yearns to be truthful and so I find myself lifting my shoulders.

“Maybe.”

 

“Say something nice to me. Something about my mind, not my body.”

“You’re fast when you work. I hope our children get that from you,” he answers.

My heart skips a beat. It is not excitement. It’s anxiety. Children, I think to myself.

He’s always wanted them. I told him I don’t. But my mother’s words came back to me.

“Maybe I will?”

So I told him, “Yes. We’ll have plenty.”

“Or just two?”

“Yes. Just two.”

 

“You’re going to be an aunty!”

That text message was long awaited. But there it was.

“He’s here!” I was so excited. For her.

“Meeting him for the first time!” I looked in. Into the crib. At his tiny, scrunched up face.

“Yeah. First time,” I said awkwardly, not moving any closer.

He was cute, sure. But not to me, no.

To me, he was tiny. That was precious.

You look at precious. Not play.

 

“Oh, who cares of stink?” She asked as she lifted our friend’s baby.

I’d just said, “No, thank you.”

I didn’t understand her maternal instinct. Only the stink.

“I don’t think I’m meant for this,” I tell myself as I look at them.

“Think or know?” My mother asks in my head.

I want to say Know. I know it, really. I simply lift my shoulders with a silent maybe.

 

The thing about children is…

I’ve been through this life. This long, tiring thing we call life.

It’s not easy. I’ve struggled. I struggle.

For respect. For opportunity. For money.

To have all that and not be lonely.

I struggle to hold the right to my body.

To what I clothe. To what they touch.

I struggle. To exist while I find purpose.

To find purpose I can fulfil without hurting.

I hurt. Everyday. For years at a time.

I struggle and I don’t want to carry that forward.

To create a life and send them out there.

“Your turn now.”

To feel what I feel. To live what I live. To love. To break. To lose.

Why should I?

I didn’t ask for this life but it is mine to deal with.

Why must I do this again? To birth and allow to struggle?

To desire to protect what I can’t? To fight. To yell. To hurt.

To learn to let go all over again. To watch from afar and say, “Repeat, darling.”

 

But it’s a crime to admit to it, isn’t it?

“Mom, I don’t want to be one,” is going against my purpose.

Every woman is a mother at heart, they’ve told me.

I’m not, I whine to deaf ears.

Maybe they’re not deaf. Maybe they know better.

Maybe she’s right.

Like when she told me that, “Teenage love will pass.”

Maybe when I’m 30, I’ll long for that baby. The one they lift with joy as I observe from afar.

Maybe I’ll wish I’d never uttered these words as I drag myself to that treatment I can’t afford.

Maybe they’ll point and laugh for cursing myself so young.

 

But today, it’s still my turn. It’s still my words.

And in the middle of all the “Maybe,”

All I really want to say is…

“I don’t want children, just give me my damn dog.”

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Mika

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“You haven’t blogged in a while. Don’t you want to write something?” So I opened a new document and stared at it. The only movement in the room was the blinking cursor. It’s been a while since I wrote anything. Not because I haven’t had ideas. But because nothing feels right. The first blog I write after April 16th had to be about her. It couldn’t be about anything else. But how do I write about her?

How do I put words to paper without crashing – body, mind, heart and soul? How do I ever communicate with words what it’s like to lose someone unexpectedly? To lose someone for the first time? To lose her?

Do you know how fragile our lives are? Her life was ten times worse. But nobody told me. I was so focused on him. “He’s older. He’s fat. He’s never been extremely healthy. I have to be prepared to lose him someday. It made so much sense. She was younger. She was active. She had always been a lot healthier. How could I have known? How could I have been prepared? It was a skin infection. He’s had thousands of them. He’s been okay. She should as well, right? No one told me she wouldn’t be. Because that was just the beginning of one week of pain. Physically, for her. Emotionally, for me. 

I still remember the 15th like it was yesterday. I went home from the vet but I just couldn’t stay away. How could I sit there and eat? And sleep? And watch TV when my little one was struggling to live? So I went back. I held her. I kissed her over and over again. I told her I understand she has to do what she has to do. But then the 16th morning happened.

I kept calling the vet, “Is she okay?” They responded that she’s sleeping. At about 10am, I felt this pang. I went crying to my Dad, “Let’s not put her to sleep. She’ll live. She’ll come back.” It was this rush of a feeling. I sobbed to my Mom, “She’s going to be back here. She’s ours. She can’t go away from us.” My mom tried to calm me down. She made me sit down. The phone rang. “Her temperature shot up. We tried. But she couldn’t make it.” I just went very silent. I told them in my calmest voice, “I’ll have Mom call you back in 5 minutes.” I put the phone down on the bed and screamed.

Have you ever lost someone? For the first time? That was my first time. And since the moment we knew that she probably wouldn’t make it, I knew I’d be the one to get that call. I knew it would be me who told my family. But I didn’t really tell them. I couldn’t. How could you say words that are synonymous with, “The girl we loved is now gone”?

We went and said our goodbyes. The vet clinic vibrated with my mother’s cries. When you live in a dysfunctional family where saying, “I love you,” is the most awkward thing they can imagine, a furry baby’s love means the world. That little girl was my mother’s world. 

It’s taken me three months to acknowledge the fact that she’s gone. Three months to write this post without tearing my skin out because that would be less painful. But my heart is still broken. I wonder at times if she can still hear me. If she came still see me. If she knows that when I lie down at night, I wonder if she’s sleeping just like I’m about to. I wonder if I should go find her and check on her one last time. This world will never be the same. She came to us in a cardboard box, wrapped in old newspapers. I looked at her and said, “She’s a Mika. This is our Mika.” And that’s who she’ll always be. Our Mika.

I walked out of that clinic completely devastated. Never wanting to step back there again. I held my mother’s hand and told her, “She’ll give you a sign. She may be gone but she’ll always be around. You’ll know it when you feel it. I promise.” I had my doubts about that promise but I had hope and faith in her love for my mother. We went home and I headed out because there was a lot of difference between being home and knowing she’s at the vet compared to being home and knowing she’ll never walk back into that house again.

I struggled to sip tea and prepare for an interview for the job I now hold because all I really wanted to do was sob my heart out. My mom had gone to visit her friend. She called. I picked up with fear because I knew she was fragile. Her first words were, “Mika has come back!” 

You could imagine my confusion for I held her breathless body four hours earlier. Mom was at her friend’s house, crying. A friend’s house that we’ve visited a million times since I was, maybe, 12 years old. I’m 25 now. You can imagine. We’ve always parked at the same place. She always comes to our car. We always sit in the car and talk. But of all days, on April 16th 2018, the day we lost our baby girl, a bunch of school boys ran up to my mother and handed her a rescued baby boy. 

I’ll give you a little background. The doctors sat us down when Mika was sick and told us to never adopt pugs again. Because their many health complications are painful for the pet and the parent. Mika had Pug Encephalitis. A disease that mostly affects pugs under the age of 3 and is almost always fatal. We told him how we’d talked about it. How our third baby was going to be an Indian Mongrel. And this time, we’d get a boy. So we’d have two boys and a girl. The perfect family.

There, in mom’s hands, on the day we lost Mika, was an Indian mongrel furry boy. And what’s more astonishing? He jumped into her arms and nestled into her shoulders like Mika used to. It was a sign. It was meant to be. We named him Subramani, a.k.a., Subbu.

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There have been a lot of difficulties in our process to keeping him. From a father who wasn’t ready for another furry member to the reality of adopting another pet with an existing 5-year-old boy who was extremely emotionally attached to Mika, we had the odds lined up against us. So we tried to give him up for adoption. But every time he went away, something brought him back to us. He is ours. It was meant to be.

He’s not Mika. They’re extremely similar. But he’s not her. She can’t be replaced. She was the sassiest dog I’ve ever known. She could be a real bitch sometimes, too. But she was who she was… Small body, loud personality and a giant heart. Our lives will go on. I’ll have more furry babies in my life. But I’ll never forget the tiny puppy that wouldn’t stop licking me for as long as I live. No-one can ever replace her. Nobody will ever be my Mika. 

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Dear Chennai Super Kings

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We have a problem. A real one. People think the ones sitting at home, wanting to watch the match and hoping the match goes on don’t get it. But we do.

There are people in my state who spent their year’s earning on new crops. The money will go to waste if they can’t harvest it and while the banks may give hundreds of crores to someone who can leave the country, our farmers can’t get bank loans as easily. So they need the water. And they need it NOW.

But problems like these are the reason why we elect our government. You have to understand that the government now ruling my state wasn’t elected by us. The woman we elected has passed away and the current party is incapable of handling a situation even though the warning signs showed up three days ahead.

What so many have forgotten is, those elected or unelected officials sitting in ruling positions aren’t named Dhoni, Bravo, Billings or Jadeja. You are cricket players. You play for our country. You stay away from your family, or even worse, have them travel the world with you while you represent us. And during the IPL season, you come closer to home because you represent US. My city. My home. We have waited two years to see you back in the yellow jerseys. You did not deserve to be treated that way.

I can tell you a hundred other ways they could’ve handled this. They could’ve even showed up at the stadium with banners that held their protests while still cheering you on. They could’ve peacefully protested while letting you get on the bus and go to Chepauk with pride that CSK is back! As a marketer, I can think of a lot of things that they could’ve done instead.

But as a human being, I’m sorry.

I say ‘they’ because I hope you know, the man who threw a shoe at Jadeja doesn’t represent who this city is.

The people who tried to run behind your bus aren’t who we Chennai-ites are.

We’re warm. We welcome everyone from anywhere with open arms to create their homes here. We’re the city that rolls up their pants and says, “Let’s make our home liveable again,” when disaster strikes. We’re loving to a fault.

And I’m sure you know this, but I hope the 10th of April hasn’t taken away the memories we, you and my city, have created together for years. Thank you for still winning that match and not letting the hooligans get to you.

The people who rallied against you don’t represent us. I can tell you who they represent but what’s the point?!

I don’t know how you feel about the matches being moved to Pune. I feel bittersweet. You deserved a better homecoming. I’m sorry we couldn’t give it to you. I’m happy they can’t use you for their political gains anymore.

I hope you still want to come back next year. I hope when you think of us, you think of the ones who got so excited for you to be back. The ones with IPL schedules written in yellow stuck to the back of their closet doors. The ones who showed up to that stadium, knowing they could be hit at any given moment because they wanted to show you their support.

I hope, when you think of us, you remember the Chennai that loves you.

Because we do.

I Don’t Believe In Women’s Day

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 12.13.41 PM.pngI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

If you’ve wished me, I’ll wish you back because you believe in it and I won’t ruin it for you. But I will not buy into the facade that you’ve dedicated an entire day for me when the remaining 364 days of the year, I have to walk around afraid of what label you’re about to give me.

“Celebrating women, their beauty and their strength!” – Forward message of the day. Really?! How? How are you celebrating our beauty and our strength? By whistling at us? By winking at us? By grabbing us? By making kissing faces at us as we walk to our car in broad daylight with our father less than two feet away? By telling us children aren’t a choice? By judging us for not being married? By labelling us for dating? By relating the respect we deserve to the number of times our vagina has been touched?

You’re right. Not all men do this. But almost all women go through it. So good for you that you’re not all bad. But there’s enough of you to ensure we’re ALL suffering from the perverseness and your belief that you have the right to choose for me.

To choose my career – when it begins, when it ends, how far I go, how much money I make,
To choose my marriage – who I marry, when I marry, how big my wedding is, how long the wedding lasts,
To choose my role as a parent – if I can be a working mom, if I can be a full-time mom, if I can be the only parent who gives a fuck and changes diapers, IF I WANT TO BE A MOM,
To choose what I want done to my body – if I want to get tattoos on it, if I want piercings on it, if I want you to touch it, if I want you to admire it, if I want you to take pictures of it, if I want you to fuck it,

You believe you have the right to choose it all for me.

So where, in all of this, are you celebrating me?

From the moment I wake up until I fall asleep, I have to watch what I eat, how I look, how I smell, how I laugh, how I stand, how I sit – because you can’t keep your eyes, your hands, your words, your thoughts and your penis to yourself.

But hey! I have a day to celebrate me!

And it’s not just the men. Women label each other, too. Sometimes, we can be the worst kind of hypocrites. She’d show up at her house past midnight every night but, “Hey! Did you know that other girl’s out late every night? Someone’s a little slut!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a woman bitch about another, I’d be buying myself that Rolex right now.

Because having the latest gossip gives you street-cred. Knowing who is currently sleeping with whom makes you the talk-of-the-town. Because sometimes, the only way to get attention for yourself is to focus on someone else’s life.

The truth may be a hard pill to swallow. But if you can’t relate to the above, you’re probably the one doing it.

I mean, it’s so nice to sit at your favourite restaurant on a pleasant day with your best friend, updating each other on your other friends’ lives, isn’t it? “Oh she gained so much weight,” comes so naturally. That’s not bitching. That’s updating. Right?

But is it?

Remind yourselves of your conversations with this person. Have you ever mocked someone? Have you ever talked ill about someone?

Newsflash: If you’re an adult, chances are your best friend has another best friend and if she’s bitching about her to you, she’s bitching about you to her. Doesn’t feel good, does it? To know that you’re being spoken about? Yeah, I thought so.

It’s the year 2018. I’m a 25-year-old afraid to speak her mind, afraid to wear what I want, afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public, afraid to show up home late, afraid to post pictures of alcohol, afraid to walk outside once it’s dark, afraid to scream at that asshole driver and afraid to live my life without watching every little thing I do. Because I’m not just afraid of the men and their minds and their hands.

I’m afraid of both the genders. Because being violated physically is horrifying but that doesn’t mean gossiping about me and saying mean things behind my back while calling yourself a friend to my face is great.

You feel like celebrating Women’s Day?

Then do it the right way.

Teach your children (and yourself, if necessary) the freedom of choice. Not the freedom for you to choose for me. But MY freedom for ME to make MY OWN CHOICES.

For something as simple as being able to wear my favourite pair of shorts without having to worry about what man is looking, what man’s going to corner me on the street, what he’s going to say, what face he’s going to make or if he’s going to come touch me against my wishes. And without having to wonder if at that moment you’re looking at me and smiling, you’re also texting your other best friend – fat-shaming, name-calling and mocking me.

Until then, I’m calling this day what it is…

A SHAM.

Memories

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Who do you remember when you think of me?

Do you remember the girl who laughed with her head thrown back? The one who looked at you from the space between her fingers as she covered her blushing face? The one who pressed her nose to yours and scrunched her forehead?

Do you remember the girl who couldn’t share food? The one who needs that extra spoon of sugar? The one who can never eat enough?

Do you remember the girl who’d hug you at random? The one who’d hold your hand until the door opened? The one whose face lit up when you walked in?

Do you remember the girl insanely in love with you? Or the mess, sitting on the floor, head between my knees, sobbing uncontrollably?

Do you remember me at all?

Because I remember you.

When we talk about coffee, I remember your jokes about decaf.

When someone says movies, I remember the ones we watched.

When I pick up my first book, I remember your words.

When “Spiderman” plays on TV, I remember that little boy you healed.

When I read the word love, I remember how you said it to me.

How you showed it to me. Every minute of every day. And I smile wide. Until suddenly, I don’t.

Because I remember when you stopped.

I remember when your hand made my face hurt, not happy.

I remember when your words brought pain, not peace.

I remember when I was afraid of you, not in awe.

And I remember when we became you and me.

It all comes flooding to me. Like it was only yesterday. Like you have just walked away.

And I have to remind myself that in the end, I’m okay.

That I have no reason to cry.

That the pain need not exist anymore.

But that’s the problem with all the things we wish we’d forget.

Their reality hurt once.

Their memories haunt forever.

 

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Inspired by Kavipriya Moorthy’s “How do I look like in your memories?”

Feminism Isn’t Just A Word

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When I was employed, I was getting paid what I thought was a significant amount of money. But then they hired a man who was working under my supervision but got paid more than I did. “Experience” they called it then. He was new to the industry. His experience wasn’t in the same field. But I thought it acceptable until I found myself in the same position, switching careers and still getting paid less.

I’m quoting that as an example because I want you to know, I understand the word feminism. It’s not JUST about the pay gap. Like I said, it’s an example. And I couldn’t be more happier to live in a time where #MeToo has happened and voices are being heard louder than ever and women are being acknowledged, not dismissed.

But does everyone truly understand the word Feminism?

I know a whole lot of feminists who understand that word and who I look up to for various reasons including this. But then comes the bunch. The bunch that this blog is about.

I’m not a submissive person. I can’t “Yes, Sir” to anyone at any moment in my life. This might even become the death of me. But I like it when the man I’m dating is the “Man” in our relationship. I like it when he makes the final call. “Take my words into consideration and make a good choice.” I’m okay with this. Actually, I’d choose this. I’d rather not be burdened with it all.

I dated a very emotionally unstable man for a significant period of time. I dealt with his mood swings and was there when he needed me and waited to be needed again when he threw me away. I understood why he acted that way and I understood what he needed from me. I made the choice to stay. Given the chance to do it all over again, I’d still choose the same.

I can’t stand up for myself. I’m terribly shy and anxious in a confrontational situation. I’d rather text my emotions than talk them. I don’t like being hated and I definitely do not like it when someone is mad at me. I’d choose to apologize for their fault because that’s one less person who holds negative emotions towards me.

I like having a career. I want to make a lot of money. I don’t like the idea of depending on anyone else for my needs (parents excluded). But if I ever need to stay-at-home for my kids and depend on my husband, I’d do it without second thought. It would be the most obvious choice to me. I may not enjoy it all the time, but I wouldn’t regret it at all.

Which of these above factors make me a non-feminist?

Because isn’t that a major point of everything that’s happening right now? GIVING WOMEN THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE? The choice to marry. The choice to earn. The choice to fuck. The choice of clothes. EQUALITY & CHOICE. Allowing me to choose what I want without being ridiculed or looked down upon for it?

And if I want to choose to be a “homemaker” or a “submissive” or an emotional punching bag to a very disturbed man, isn’t that my choice?

Women, not all but the many I’ve come across, have this textbook definition for being a feminist – Independent – Financially and Emotionally, Unforgiving, Strong and if you go by Jyothika’s version – wears Aviators and climbs on lorries. But I’m none of those things. I’m independent to a point but I like needing him when I’m miserable. I like that he can say, “Hello” and my world is okay again. I like forgiving people even when they’re not apologising. I like being a little weak and wearing my heart on my sleeve, even if I know the other person is an asshole.

We are struggling so hard to get men to treat us as equals. But some of us forget that in that need, we’re taking away the choice from ourselves. We need to be united to get to where we need to be. But we’re squabbling on the inside because we don’t all understand what we’re even fighting for. To so many, it’s a label that makes them relevant. “I’m a feminist,” is something that makes them a part of the conversation. But what’s the point if you don’t understand what the conversation even is?

She can be a feminist and a housewife. She can be a feminist and in a shitty relationship. She can be a feminist and a stay-at-home mom. She can be a feminist and absolutely emotionally weak. She can be a feminist and extremely apologetic. SHE CAN BE A FEMINIST AND STILL BE HERSELF.

Because Feminism isn’t just a word. It isn’t just a label. It’s very real and very important.  And to those who got it right the first time, good for you and thank you!

To those who constantly pick on other women with, “Please! You don’t get to call yourself a feminist!” – Seriously, go take a class and educate yourself while the rest of us fight the battles for you.

 

The Stranger In A Helmet

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To the stranger in a helmet,
The one I can’t forget
Not for the romantic reasons, no.
If that were the case, I’d start with dear.
You’re anything but my hero.
You’re my worst fears come true.

I drive by thay street everyday,
I’m left no choice, I live two streets down.
And every time I see that corner,
The one you stood on, your bike parked, your gaze wandering,
I look around.
I try to spot every man holding a helmet, perched on a bike.
I wonder if it’s you.
If he remembers me.
If he’d say it again in broad daylight.
Does he know?
Does he know what he did?
Does he know why he shouldn’t have?
Does he know I still hear his voice in the back of my head and feel a chill run down my spine?
“Madam. Madam.” Every time?
Does he know that he hid in the dark, his face covered because his instinct told him it was wrong?
Does he know I’m judging him when it maybe wasn’t him at all?
Because I do.
Every man I see looks guilty.
Even the innocent.
That’s what you’ve done.
“Madam. Madam..” like a helpless man. I shouldn’t have turned.
Should’ve known you’re helping yourself.
But I was taught and raised to be nice to the lost.
Yet, as you stood,
Your hands on your pants, your mouth asking for mine,
I was glad it was me and my little sister had walked a few feet.
Imagine a table turned.
For being taught kindness,
Punished.
Humiliated.
Scared.
She won’t judge that innocent man,
She’d fear.
Because of you.

How difficult life would be.
As long as she lives, she’ll never trust.
Afraid of eyes, even the ones filled with love.
Yet, how easy it will be,
For you’ll forever live in peace.
Hidden behind a helmet
At 7pm, in the middle of the city
On a lonely street.
Just your voice echoing, “Suck me please.”