Freedom Is Everyone’s Birthright

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Magnanimous Word

Saare Jahan se Achcha…Hindustan Hamara

Happy Independence Day to all the people of Indian origin, wherever you are in this world, and of whatever faith, religion, color, caste or creed.  Be One!!   The country you hail from is one of its kind – a land of beautiful culture, strong values, spiritualism, linguistic and religious diversity.

It’s a day to value your freedom, to remember that it was attained after huge sacrifices, to not take it for granted and to constantly work towards maintaining this freedom so that our future generations can thank us, just as we thank our ancestors for the hard work they did to give us this day. A free country gives us all roots and belonging, it’s a prerogative but also an onus.

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This poem by Rabindranath Tagore sums it up:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where…

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That Rainy Day…

Here’s the first of my three short stories based on the given picture.
For Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) hosted by Priceless Joy.

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story based on the photo prompt by Priceless Joy

That Rainy Day

Simran’s heart skipped a beat as the rhythmic drum beat came nearer. And then the doorbell rang.

As she opened the outer latched gate, in came the fervent crowd and excitedly smeared colored powder on her feverish face.

“Happy Holi !!”  Today this chant sounded like din to her. This was the happy neighborhood where she and her husband Karan had lovingly celebrated their festivals, ever since they settled in this big city.

But exactly two years ago on Holi day, when Karan – a royal Rajput, had clashed with a rival Rajput in his ancestral village, all colors had faded. Only one color bled and that was red. Karan vanished from his village, while she, the only witness to the drama, came back to the city.

As the joyous crowd continued to shower colors that blended with the pouring rain, Simran gazed dumbly at the puddles. There were various hues – green, yellow, purple – but she saw only ‘red’.

Soon the crowd departed and the drum beating became faint. Suddenly she moved, and decided. She’ll contact the police.

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(The context of my above story is the evolving cities and villages of India. Some of the current day Rajputs , the descendants of princely warrior families of India, do live like normal working public. Many of them still maintain their good and bad regal attitude/s.  A kind of identity crisis.
And as you may know, Holi is a festival of colors celebrated in India.)

Copyright © 2015 Alka Girdhar

Unsafe Off-shores or Destined Deaths?

My mood had been sombre the whole of last week, an under-current of depressive sadness prevailed. Now slowly coming back to normal.

It was after the news that a 41-year-old woman by the name of Prabha Arun Kumar, an Indian National who had been working in Australia for the last three years, was stabbed to death, that too brutally with multiple gashes at the neck. This incident happened in Parramatta suburb of Sydney. Close to my home, Parramatta is my near-regular sojourn so I felt awful.

Even if this tragedy had not struck somebody from my close family or friends yet it felt heavy in my heart. And going by the media news and social media interactions, indeed it was so for all others within the Indian-Australian community as well as for many others within general Australian community. A candle light vigil, a community walk was organised and in another event Sydney Symphony Orchestra paid homage to her.

Prabha was originally from Bangalore, the lovely IT city where I too had an opportunity to live for a few years when I was an Indian resident long ago. She was employed by an IT company in Sydney while her husband and nine-year old daughter lived in India.  She came to Sydney for one year thereafter had spent two more years as her contract extended till April 2015. This April she intended to move back to India as her whole family was there.

Smart intelligent women want to work seriously and fulfil their dreams while supportive families provide their full support. Everything great about it.

But last week, that fateful day, she was coming back from work. It was night time around 9 pm. Getting off the train she was walking towards her home and to do this she was crossing Parramatta Park. While walking she was also talking to her husband in India over the phone. She told him there was a big man chasing her, soon after that they heard her screams. Over the phone, her family in India heard her dying. Her nine-year old daughter, who had not seen her mom for a while will now see only her dead body. Prabha lost her life just a few days before she intended to return back to India as her contract was finishing.

Prabha’s story is probably like that of many others. We read such horror stuff almost every day in the media. But when it directly influences our family, our community or neighbourhood, only then we take it personally. Not just for the sake of humanity or empathy but also simultaneously fearing the fact that even our life safety is perpetually under similar threat.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs also highlights that after our basic needs are met, safety is our major concern. Thus ridden by fear after such news about killings, we do not want a repeat of what happened so we look for all sorts of answers in such meaningless murders.

People like me, who are a part of the terrified community start deriving conflicting conclusions. That if this murderer guy did not touch the victim’s material possessions, can we then assume the attack was due to her ethnicity, her Indian looks?  On top of that she is a woman. But the police opine that the motivation doesn’t seem to be racial, and since the attacker didn’t harm her in any other way, so obviously he wasn’t out to exploit her modesty.

If the attack was neither racially motivated nor about exploiting the weaker gender then it was a random attack by a random hooligan who was in a random mood to kill anyone or everyone. Doesn’t make sense though. Specially when Sydney is supposed to be very safe. As per a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Sydney is sixth amongst the world’s top ten safest nations. Melbourne ranks nineth.  But it’s no secret now that Melbourne too has seen attacks and similar life-threats on students.  The Down Under that our Australia is, compared to other nations it’s always been a very peaceful lucky country with such a vibrant multiculturalism. Personally, I too have never experienced any discrimination ever, rather a very high level of acceptance ever since I migrated. But statistics are conflicting.

Also, so much controversy going on about India’s daughter not being safe in India but she is not safe in Australia too. Are Australia’s daughters completely safe in Australia?  I used to be quite fond of going to Parramatta Park but will now be scared to do so, even when I am no more a young girl. But our primary concern is for our children’s safety.

No point over-weighing all possible angles.  Although there is never a murder without a motive, often the real motive of such heinous murders remain unknown. In such cases one can only derive that it was about being at a wrong place at the wrong time.  A fatal combination of many factors. Firstly, she was walking through that lonely park which she normally considered safe enough. On top of that, walking at the night time which again she normally considered safe enough.  Walking alone at night that too being a woman. Now that’s something. Women continue to be an easy target if not protected by father, husband, boy-friend or son. I better stop here or else I will go again to my favorite lecture on feminism.

Till the cops find out, we will look for answers within nature itself. It’s as if Prabha was not meant to go back to her country again. Something called luck or destiny takes a person towards his/her death and as they say, when destiny strikes then there is no escape.

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I seem to be a House Divided as I present multiple perspectives on this news-story current in Australian media. I attributed the incident to our essentially evil human nature which is driven towards crime, sin, racism or gender bias. No human, including migrants and women, can ever be completely safe anywhere in the world, what with hidden hooligans all around us.

Other than our unpredictable human nature, I stoically reasoned such incidents to all powerful non-human Nature, which is destiny or God that overawes each one of us from time to time. Death and birth seem to be merely a predetermined coincidence, a part of the overall scheme of nature. What will be, will be.

Along with my above views I also mentioned a sad ironic fact that crime often gets provoked by the risks that the unsuspecting people take, esp. women, when they dare to venture out alone during dark hours. Am I blaming the victim? Not really. Taking precautions is what I suggest to my own family. Till the world becomes crime-free, that’s the best we can do, isn’t it?

Oh well, I do not seem to have found a solution here but I had my say. As Martin Luther said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

© All rights reserved by alkagirdhar.wordpress.com 2015

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Don’t Fight when in Flight

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When I need to fight
I take a flight
When I need to flee
I start to fight

Happiness in life
is all about knowing,
When to flee
And when to fight

Also
How much to flee
How much to fight

Flight

But this type of flight is always welcome…

The above poem and picture were in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fight or Flight.”

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When putting up the above picture for my poem for the writing prompt, I felt that these pictures are also good for Weekly Photo Challenge – Rule of Thirds.

The subject is off-center, the focus is more on certain parts. The rest is somewhat blurred out, though not exactly.  Possibly not the best attempt but almost there.

I took these random pictures when going overseas.

 Picture source for all pics:  self-clicked

 

© All rights reserved 2015

Rule of Thirds
Fight or Flight

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The Self-Ruled

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Rigid rules are for the fools
who need to be reigned
or else they will run unruly
For only rules can rule
these rebels who do not use
their heart or mind
to know wrong from right

Thinking minds obey the laws
but set their own unsaid rules
Rules, they better not break,
for they know, if broken, it won’t
annoy some ruling authority
but crush and break,  
their very own identity
their inner integrity

 My above poem is in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breaking the Law.”

The rules below cited at infographicaday, are worth following, though no penalty for non-followers

A.G.

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Helpful rules of life. Pic source: infographicaday

My Best (est) Friend

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Our friends from virtual world play a significant role in our lives but in such a subtle manner that we do not even realize. When we read about other people’s life stories or see their online pictures, we too transform, either negatively or positively. Negatively when we start assuming that every other person’s life is better than ours, which may not be the case. Mostly it is a positive change because we learn so much from our online friends, without even stepping out of our house.

So, responding to the prompt  FiresideChat, I can very well say that after reading such inspiring blogs by sensitive caring writers, it would be a privilege to meet them in real. There are two emphatic female bloggers I particularly felt affinity to but I may never get to see them.

My conclusion is, that if at all we wish to see our virtual-world friends in real life, then it is better to do so at the earliest possible because if we do not meet them for a long time, then seeing them face-to-face at some later stage turns out to be a case of either faulty perceptions and impressions, or else the rapport doesn’t build up.  They may seem very different in reality and thereafter we lose them off-line as well as online.  So, if at all you wish to see them for real, never leave it for too long. Otherwise be happy being online friends.

And yes, while there are many people in my life whom I would like to know better, would like to have a personal chat with them by the fire-side…there is specifically one person I heartily wish to know better.  Today, as I talk about her, I feel I do know her very well and yet do not know her enough.

What happens is that as soon as I am sure I know her, and have formed a confirmed opinion about her that she is like this, or she is like that…then soon she seems very different.  Confuses me.  Drives me crazy.  The very issues and habits in her that appeal me today, do not appeal me the very next day.  Sometimes she is totally feminine, like some insecure girl rather than being a woman.  And then she is changed the next day, confident as can be, beyond recognition.

That is why I want her to tell me about her inner fears, hidden wishes and desires that she doesn’t tell anyone.  I want to sit and listen to what she has to say as only I can be her best friend. This much I know.  This heart-to-heart chat will also improve our relation.

The fact is, I see her every day.  She’s there with me very often though sometimes even when she’s physically with me, she’s away in her her own world, her cocoon.

Have you guessed by now that I am talking about myself?  I would like to meet myself face-to-face and talk. I would like to observe myself, by going outside of me…judge myself objectively in a detached way.  I want to communicate with myself to get the inner self-realization about my purpose in life.

I want to know myself more than what others know about me.  Mostly, others define who I am.  My childhood friends and siblings remind me that I was like this or that, and I believe them.   My mother tells me I am like this and I completely trust that she knows much more about me than I myself do. Thus I get approvals and certificates from everyone known so as to conveniently define my behavior and adapt my future goals as per their previous set expectations.

Till now, my community and society defined my life for me.  What was charted out for me by the capitalist materialistic world was meant to be followed during my teens and younger age. Now, as a mature woman, I would like to sit with myself and have a heart-to-heart chat about her (my) life that she had till now. I want to know what she (me) wants to do with the rest of her life, so as to make the most of it.  I want to know her (me) through my eyes not this world’s eyes. I want her to re-discover her hopes, her strengths, her passions, her beauty, her inner truth. I want to heal her of any hurt that I myself have given to her.

I will soon chat with my bestest friend and share it with you all.

My above thoughts are for my own self-realization but they need to be applied by all human beings at various stages of life. And as said by one Doris Mortman, ‘Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.’

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That was my response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt:  FiresideChat.

“What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?”

© All rights reserved 2015