Ayn Rand & Me

We first met when my friend handed me the iconic book ‘The Fountainhead’. I wasn’t a literature person then; this friend was my only medium to peep into what I now call ‘Anatomy of thoughts’. Friends are people through whom you get a glimpse of the abandoned aspects of life. They introduce you to the world of a ‘Strick No No’. So, whether I talk about watching the late night semi pornographic videos on YouTube, humming ‘Sutta Song’ or reading the classic ‘Fountain Head’, I owe it all to her.

maxresdefault

Source : Youtube

 

She completed all the 753 pages in 2 days in the pretext of reading textbooks and when she started drooling over the personality of Howard Roark (the protagonist), I knew, I had to read it in all possibilities. And yes, her drooling was infectious. I was bitten by the snake of individuality. I met the inner thoughts of Ayn Rand in my teen ages and it affected my way of thinking profoundly. I was immediately enamored by her writing.

Imagine a kid who is trying to find her right place in the world – whether she should be friendlier and laugh at jokes she doesn’t find funny or should hang out with cool people and be more fashion conscious. Maybe trying to understand why are people rude, weird, awesome, deceitful- and how to cope up with them.

And then, Bam! Rand comes in and tells you to show a finger to anyone who doesn’t like you the way you are. And why is this? Because, you are an individual and have the right to live in this world the way it makes you happy, without any expectations from others. There is no point hating and wasting energy on things outside of our control.

6b7a3092521562701dd15168e06ce68a

Source : pinterest

She described the nuances of architecture and I deciphered her lines confining areas as rules liberating life. I started valuing freedom of expression at the cost of being ostracized from society. I thought it was okay to disregard the materialistic world and following the simple rule of doing good work without expecting anything in return. The introvert in me received an extra backbone to lean on. I didn’t only shake hands with Rand’s philosophy; I let it enter my veins too.

Although with time & tide, my views of me kept changing – a subtle part of me still believes that it is not okay to be pretentious. But the rest is quite chaotic in mind – now, I seek acknowledgement, I indulge in worldly pleasures and most importantly, unlike Dominique (the female protagonist) I don’t want to keep something away from the world just because I think that the world would not understand the worth. And her philosophy related to smoking that makes it royal and elite has never excited me to handle fire with passion.

There are many different interpretations of her work. Her attitude about ‘Being Right’ rather than convincing is often a questionable take, examples like destroying an entire building because you don’t are not satisfied with the output, or the infamous sex (rape?) scene of The Fountainhead – Rand has her fair share of opponents.

Here is a need to understand that her stories are in extremes, each character representing a totalitarian view of an ideology. The characters are not supposed to be realistic – they are simplified and their personality traits are exaggerated. Her novels are not meant to be a series of events, but a mindful journey committed to the philosophy of life. Roark (or Galt) is her ideal man upholding the values of individualism while Keating is the anti-hero who has no sense of what he stands for as an individual, he is only concerned with what others think of him.We need to decide an ideology in our lives and try to live up to it.

Her ideas always created tremors in my mind, however realistic or not- one cannot estimate the degree of accuracy, but it is worth thinking over. People have opted for architecture and have decided to marry another Ayn Rand lover; just because they were influenced by her philosophy. In any case, Rand’s work provides for interesting discussion material and you can discover a lot about a person based on her philosophical views.

And same favorite books make for long lasting love!

‘Paper Doll’

Colors glorify the white spaces of a canvas and the much desired interplay of strokes and colors create rhythmic alliterations that recite the monologue of a virgin poetry. For centuries different forms of art have played a vital role in shaping the history of mankind.

Early man’s cave paintings, stone age carvings, Egyptian pyramids, renaissance, realism, romanticism, surrealism, abstract and modern art – all these eras dogmatically reshaped, revamped and reinvented the artistic appeal every time. There were constant adaptations and experimentations for creating masterpieces that can stand high on intellectual grounds. Some art forms retained their status and were carried forward by admirers but the others were at the verge of extinction, only to be rejuvenated later.

The “Paper Doll” series by Lisa K. Salerno

80'sLadies12x12

80’s Ladies
 

  “It was unfolded  by accident, or perhaps it was by luck? I discovered a dissonant joy and longing in the repeating nameless-faceless forms of the vaguely female shapes I cut while playing with my daughter. While my initial intent was to entertain my little girl with these fun and innocent cutouts, I found myself imagining a story and character for each strand of figures. The repetitive patterns that unfolded reminded me of the ways in which our society so often ascribes stereotypes for each woman; ones that we impose upon ourselves, and ones that are imposed upon us.”

– Lisa

There'sACrackInEverything

There is a Crack in Everything

“As the ambiguity of each doll shape faded away when paper, paint, canvas, and pen combined, the narratives of each painting emerged, so too did their titles. Each painting is named in a manner reflective of the way in which it investigates the contradictions and complexity of the female experience, sometimes playfully, sometimes flippantly, and sometimes defiantly…”

                                                                                 -Lisa 

Deeply Connected

Deeply Connected

“The intricate layers of color in each piece are as unique as the layers that make up each individual.  The overlapping and/or transparency of the paper doll shapes symbolize interconnectedness and how through our connections with others,we ultimately become ourselves.”

-Lisa 

Lisa.headshot00

Lisa K. Salerno is a New England painter, artisan and art writer associated with Lyrical Abstraction, feminism and equality, as well as projects that promote awareness and empowerment of those on the autism spectrum.

DuckTales Rebooted

One of our favorite childhood cartoon show, Ducktales  is back. It rejuvenates many cells of the brain with the episodes that are not so vivid but release happy hormones. Though, the cartoon has been rebooted by Disney for our entertainment, let’s dig a bit and brush up the concepts that established ‘Scrooge McDuck’.

Uncle Scrooge made it big with his survival instincts – a phenomenon called ‘Social Darwinism’ – existence of the fittest in the social context. In fact, in Charles Dickens’ “A Christams Carol’ , Scrooge mentions that the poor must be secluded to the public workhouses. The parallels could be drawn between the Nazi philosophy and Scrooge’s character.

“Those who are badly off must go there.” But, objects another man, “Many would rather die than go there.” To which Scrooge coldly replies that, “If they would rather die, then let them do it and decrease the surplus population.”

scrooge

Courtesy: deviantart

But, Scrooge McDuck’s character is grey and one can easily dwell between the positives and the negatives.

Ounces of gold drops from everywhere in the vicinity, Uncle Scrooge is an investor and now he is back to accumulate more & more. Scrooge’s story is like rags to the richest – no mother, cruel father and the fear of poverty made him what he is. Named after Ebenezer Scrooge, we don’t know what new flavors Disney has added to the stinginess of Uncle Scrooge this time.

“I’m Scrooge McDuck, I made my name being tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties.”

We hope this type they would have worked more on the personalities of Huey, Duey, and Luey, providing them with individual characters.

Here, enjoy the trailer:  

DuckTales

Love and ‘Other Factor’

Many have died and went insane, many have lost their hearts in vain, and many have scribbled on walls, or have cut their wrists. The lower class hard working love, the middle class struggling love and the elite elegant love; they all have to go through the same bridge of ego, narcissism, adjustments and criticism.

Tied across two egos, if the thread of love is constantly shaking then it may not be the right tempo to tremble, and you may decide to move on in search of the right tempo. Now the question is lucidly straight – how do you find the right tempo, so that you can absorb the tremors and enjoy the vibrations?  And when you keep moving you are deemed to find the right rhythm, now you are just left to do the mixing to please your love.

The pseudo intellectual ‘love’ doesn’t know that everything around it is imaginary – the maniac doesn’t understand the hypocrisy-

“I have to be independent but mutually.”

“I have to be decisive but have to consider you in every decision.”

“I can deceive you, but you cannot do it.”

“I can hear the truth; your ears are too weak”

The greatest verses in love have people making poetic claims, the wordsmiths have made it a royal phenomena and and poets/poetess have celebrated it with decorations and vibrant colors from ages. ‘Love’ has been pushed to the highest pedestal and all other emotions are treated like step children.

The love described above is the general presumption, but there are some kinds of love with the ‘other factor’ where love is interconnected with other emotions, where it is not the sole credit winner but the step emotions climb the ladder simultaneously.

Here are some couples with ‘The Other factor’ prominently holding a place of honour in a relationship.

the-joker-and-harely-quinn-costume

Source : Axfashion

Abuse: Joker & Harley Quinn (characters from DC comics)

They are the most abusive couple, Jocker tries to kill Harley when he starts feeling attracted to her. Every bit of insanity they have, binds them together and they kill each other’s sanity. Joker can be fully devoted to her, become caring and all; but the overdose rots him from inside and to neutralize everything he has to abuse or brainwash her.

frida

Source: Khan Academy

Open Marriage : Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera (Kahlo was Mexican painter who married Diego )

Long before the concept existed, they passionately loved each other but had multiple affairs. Frida was bisexual and Diego loved only women, but this never interrupted their passionate love.

Kahlo quotes :

“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband. I also cannot speak of him as my lover because to me, he transcends by far the domain of sex. And if I attempt to speak of him purely, as a soul, I shall only end up by painting my own emotions.”

Alter –Ego: Dominique & Howard Roark (Characters from Ayn Rand’s novel Fountain Head)

howard-roark-dominique-francon-1024x759

Source: Anonymous

When people are insanely alike, they cannot get together too well. Dominique understood Howard’s creativity but she didn’t want him to waste it on the worthless society, and so she wanted to destroy him. On the other hand, Roark didn’t care about society and kept on creating master pieces.

sherlock-season-4-irene-adler-sherlock-s-other-brother-and-much-more

Source : moviepilot

Sapiosexual : Sherlock Holmes & Irene Adler (Characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories)

Holmes brain is trained to think faster and deduce logic, he had never fallen in love because he never encountered a girl with whom he can relate his intelligence. Irene was the only lady one who befooled Holmes and thus he was unquestionably attracted towards her.

Rationality of being Agnostic

In the words of Marx,

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of the soulless condition. It is the opium of the people.”

If religion is a system of dogma for the benefits of a particular sect than analysis has no value but if religion is a construct of moral codes, maintaining decency in society than beliefs and benefits can be kept on the two sides of the balance.

“A view that tries to please both sides of the debate and, like most compromises,
ends up pleasing neither. It stands, it seems, for lack of belief or commitment,
for indecision, for non-engagement.”
-Robin Le Poidevin

The delusional religious beliefs denounce the core of logical questioning, maintaining that curiosity is demeaning and non- believing is blasphemous. Religion and Antagonism beliefs are only parallel in the vicinity and they might intersect in an imaginary world. The foremost argument that vividly distinguishes the two is ‘reproducibility’. Logical and scientific methods are reproducible under pre-defined circumstances, but unquantifiable beliefs cannot reproduce, they have no solutions for a previously worked out problem.

But ‘Faith’ is the master of all trades, we create delusional Gods for our conveniences, a very prominent example can be observed in ‘life of A Pie’ that explains why people who have choices between believing and non-believing go for the former one. It is a perfect agnostic take on voting for the one that is more interesting and accommodating at a given time. At the same time just because one wants to believe in a version that contains fantasy, does not make it the true version.

“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for?
Love is hard to believe, ask any lover.
Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer.
What is your problem with hard to believe?”
– Yann Martel, Life of Pi

life-of-pi-5133c8456a706

About agnosticism as the belief system, Martel has to say the following:

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
– Yann Martel, Life of Pi

A novel of the Second World War “My Name is Five” by Heinz Kohler is another example of how one becomes a believer and a non-believer under different circumstances. Spitfire guns kill the protagonist’s best friend dieter while standing right next to him on a bridge, which makes him curse the existence and belief that someone called God helps people. And at one incident his grandmother died and he keeps on believing that it is because he took out the mark of a 14th person present in a celebration, as in Germany it was believed that 13 people present in a party can be a cause of death for any of the members. And then the ironical statement that “We Germans Fear God and Nothing Else” is shouted by the nationalists throughout the book.

However, the protagonist moves from being agnostic to atheist after he witnesses the cruelty done in the name of God and Religion during World War II.

In ‘The God Delusion’, author Richard Dawkins questions the agnostic beliefs and insists that we look at the available evidence closely and decide on the probability of existence of God. One of the major errors the agnostics make is to confuse God for nature, spirituality and morality. In current scenario, there is a need to understand that God as a phenomena is irrecoverably linked with religion and there is an urgent need to accept or reject this version of God and religion.

“One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”
– Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Dawkins also contends that most agnostics are actually atheists being nice to the believers and it is time for them to come out of the closet.Also, the question he asks is- do we need evidence for non-existence of a phenomena. If we have so far found no scientific evidence of existence, can we not rule in the favour of non-existence!

calvin-and-hobbes-god

Sagan, a self-proclaimed agnostic, however, could not find enough evidence for non-existence of God and hence chose to reserve judgement.

“My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”
– Carl Sagan

You cannot deny that there is something called coincidence and the probability of coincidence is 1 minus the number of events with no coincidence. Here, one can find God in the condition called ‘minus one’ to become a believer, or believe in the pure statistical concept of probability to become a non – believer, or become an agnostic by trusting the instincts of randomness.

Image Credit: jagran.com

Movies That Came Ahead of Their Time

Here is a list of movies that we think would have done much better if released later –

pyaasa

Pyaasa: The whole concept of existentialism was dug and presented in the soulful song of the movie “Yeh Duniya agar mil bhijaein to kya hai”. The words of Sahir Ludhianvi transcribes Guru Dutt’s tragic take on this materialistic world that repels soulful emotions. Pyaasa (The Thirsty Poet) runs after recognition and spiritual fulfillment. Waheeda Rehman plays a prostitute who admires his work and helps him in getting his poems published. The lead character played by Dutt is a poet who understands in depth emotions and can truly express the same through his words, but rejected by publishers, his family and the love of his life, he becomes a man of self pity. The narcissism in him takes a front seat. Although a box office hit, we say that the film came much ahead of its time because it was an experimental movie that explicitly exhibited the many aspects of human behavior and possibly the audience was not ready then to take in so much at once.

jhankar-beats

JhankarBeats: “Boss Kaun Tha, Malum Hai Kya” – Remixing of the old classics with the western beats is what the title stands for.  The different sides of relationships among friends, family and lovers were given a different treatment and simultaneously the film is a fine tribute to the maestro of music – ‘R. D Burman’. The dialogues are witty and real with a cast unforgettable – Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri, Rinke Khanna, ShayanMunshi, and Rinke Khanna. By integrating the sub-plots of the movie that refers to a nagging mother in law, a frustrated wife, a condom ad and a lover who cannot confess, the filmmakers never tried hard to take away the third world problems and keeping it real – the three male protagonists are after winning the competition called ‘Jhankar Beats’, which is not in any way equivalent to ‘the Grammy’ but is important to them just because ‘it is’.

ijaazat2

Ijaazat: Who could have ever thought of capturing the complexities of relations with such ease and beauty! Characters are not complaining and their silences are audible. Journey from the waiting room’s darkness to the past life and back to the waiting room was a graceful poetry in itself by “Gulzar Saab”. Maya’s (Anuradha Patel) character -that too in the era of 80’s was even unthinkable. She is the flowing poetry of the movie. She was the beautiful crazy spirit who balanced the abnormal society, even her death signified her radical lifestyle. When Sudha (Rekha) returns Maya’s belongings to her, she enticingly and emotionally asks her unforgettable moments back – ‘MeraKuchSaman ‘- the ultimate amalgamation of lyrics, music and singing for Gulzar, R D Buraman and Asha Bhonsle which can be never resurrected. The mature subject was delicately handled. This movie enhanced Rekha’s elegance and Naseeruddin’s individuality as a person.

Even the ending, when Sudha asks Mahinder for his permission to leave, gives it a perfect start(for a new life)’Ijazat’ to leave him forever (this time). We say, Ijaazat came before its time because Maya’s eccentricity, Mahinder’s interpersonal struggle and Sudha’s mature outlook towards life was too much to take in for the audience then.

my-brother-nikhil

Dor: It released way before ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ and claimed feminism in its most simple form. The bond between Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia disregards the popular notion that only boys can be friends, rather friendship as a concept is far more superior to gender, and no matter what gender, one can get motivated to spend some quality time with the other person, irrespective of any reason. This movie based on the lives of two women is intricately woven around overcoming adversity. Released in 2006, the movie was critically acclaied but was unable to drive audiences to the theaters as subtle feminist themes were still unheard of.

df9f53ec-4579-44a5-b3c3-80a7ff036b43

‘My Brother Nilkhil’: It was the path breaking film when the mainstream cinema was all about love triangles and romance. Director Onir decided to experiment with the concept of homosexuality and AIDS. With no over sensationalization, the film delayers itself from different angles – how one thing or ailment can change people’s attitude towards you. The movie came as a ray of hope in the country where everything and anything unknown becomes a taboo. However, if the movie was released today, it might have gained a lot more viewership than it  had upon its release in 2005.

monsson-wedding

Monsoon Wedding: Aptly showcasing the madness of the Indian weddings, this movie was way ahead of its time when it released in 2001. The movie has around 5 subplots running simultaneously- a bride still hung up on her lover, a groom who does not know what to expect out of marriage, budding romance of the wedding contractor (an amazing Vijay Raaz), a struggling father-son relationship, a crumbling husband-wife relationship, younger cousins flirting with each other and most importantly, child abuse. The subplot involving Shefali Shah and Rajat Kapoor was wonderfully handled and went on to show how child abuse is a common reality, we do not want to face. With the subtle movies like ‘Kapoor & Sons’ winning the box office, this movie would be a definite success if released today.

 

maxresdefaultSocha Na Tha: This is the most realistic a romantic comedy ever got in India. No virtuous or perfect characters, totally confused protagonists and essentially, no villains or big dispute keeping the lovers apart. It is only the confusion they themselves created that lands them in a mess and both the protagonists actually end up hurting a few people in their quest for love.This is perhaps the first movie in which lovers are not cocksure about whom they love, the importance their lives and family. The debut movie of Imtiaz Ali, this one might have struck a chord with the audience now rather than a decade before when characters were largely black and white.

lamhe

Lamhe: The bravest movie by Yash Chopra ever! A young woman falling for an older man who was actually smitten by the girl’s mother. The topic itself is a taboo in India where woman taking charge of their own sexuality is unacceptable, the people with younger partners are frowned upon. Even ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, released a decade later, which had a subplot of a young man falling for an older woman, took the safe path wherein the old woman does not reciprocate the man’s love and conveniently dies before the situation needs to become social. Yash Chopra on the other hand makes the protagonists battle their social and moral issues, involves the friends and families in this hot mess of a relationship and gives us a movie which is perhaps still ahead of its time.

no-smoking

No Smoking: The Kafkaesque movie featuring John Abraham and Ayesha Takia might be the most abstract project by Anurag Kashyap. There is no time space continuum, the line between reality and fantasy is blur and there is a hell like place resembling the concentration camps. As per Kashyap’s own version, smoking in the movie is akin to freedom of thought. The wife (secretory in fantasy/ alternate reality) wants ‘K’- the protagonist to stop smoking and ropes in Baba Bengali to make him quit smoking. As per Wikipedia, “the film has an unusual storyline comprising with elements of surrealism, fantasy, dream, reality, horror and dark humour which left critics and the cinema-goers baffled, this was frowned upon by Indian audiences, as it was unconventional, pretentious and they had never seen anything like it.”

jaane-bhi-do-yaaron

JaaneBhi Do Yaaro: A cult classic, this movie bombed at the box office when it released back in 1983. However, it has gained a tremendous fan following in the later years and is considered one of the best movies in Indian Cinema. A black comedy on Indian politics, media and corruption, this movie boasted of an extraordinary ensemble cast with unforgettable performances by Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani and Bhakti Bhave. How can anyone forget the hilarious Mahabharata scene towards the climax which had a Wodehouse like innocence to it? And maybe that’s what lifts the movie above the ordinary – the courage to laugh at ourselves. Re-released in 2012, it received an enthusiastic response from the fans.

love-sex-aur-dhoka

Love Sex AurDhokha (LSD): Released in 2010, LSD is an experimental movie shot entirely on digicam and presented in the found footage style. There are 3 largely unrelated short stories on the themes of ‘Love’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Dhokha’ in the movie. The themes of the stories involve honor killings, voyeurism, modern day relationships, media ethics and moral values. The themes as well as presentation of the movie is extremely dark. The typical Indian cine-goer still sees the movies as a form of escape and might not be able to digest such a big dose of reality in a movie. An important film nonetheless, which will leave you thinking for days.

Women & Art

Women wear an artful camouflage – the signature curves, the smooth pastel strokes of luster on the skin and the coquetry behavior make them the muse for many. What goes unnoticed is the spiritual and intellectual inclination that has subdued itself over centuries of dictatorial patriarchy.The world famous artistic paintings have used women bodies as a consumer of passion & love, as a possession of the lover, as a portrayal of chained emotion. Hardly, if ever, we come across such work where men are depicted submissive!

pobeb013_nude_green_leaves_and_bust

Courtesy :pratanacoffeetalk

One of the most expensive paintings in the world – Nude, Green, Leaves & Bust by Picasso, the painter’s mistress and muse Marie Therese can be observed in full obedience to Picasso, whereas he is guarding and enveloping his love, also branding her with his own initials PP for Pablo Picasso, a way to make her tied up to him in all forms. The artist always believed, ‘there are only two types of women- goddesses and doormats’, so he depicted Therese as a fertility goddess and positioned her in a submissive way to portray her as a doormat too.

Alternatively, there are artists who have questioned this submissive behavior by women through their work – If we keenly observe the work of Indian artists then many have questioned the taboo surrounding women’s body – Amrita Shergill’s each painting depicted a unique reincarnation for women. Gogi Sarojpal emphasized on the animal instincts of a woman. She perceived woman as KaamDhenu. It was important in the medieval period that women showed animal instincts in her behavioral pattern.

Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’ analyses the many layers of prohibition because of which we didn’t have great women in art & literature in the Shakespearean era. She imagined a scenario where Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith.

She goes on to describe –

“She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers.”

With the given facts of that time, she came up with the most probable outcome –

“She died young—alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh”

In Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical book ‘Persepolis’, she explains the effect religious restrictions have on women’s intellect and identity:

persepolis-book-cover-marjane-satrapi-45793_300_458

Courtesy :fanpop

“The regime had understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself:

Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my make-up be seen? Are they going to whip me?

 No longer asks herself:

Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What’s going on in the political prisons?”

The constant war against women’s intellect had severely damaged the thought process, where the nerves of emancipation have become numb. Even if societies have become so called liberal, these issues have not become archaic but are contemporary in ever form.

On the other hand there is literature like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘Twilight’ which is not supposed to be taken as serious reading but still goes on to form the culturaltone of the society. These works ultimately state that women have a chance at a happy marriage and fulfilling life only if they choose to forgo their identity or have no identity of their own to begin with!

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie points out in her essay and a TED talk by the same name, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’:

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”

 As varied the descriptions of women in the arena of art and culture might be, whether it is holding a mirror to society or dreaming a big dream of an equal world, we definitely have a long way to make our women free in their wilderness.

Featured Image Courtesy : The Atlantic

Love Letter To Gulzar Saab

I vividly remember the Sunday when I was jumping and singing

“Jangal jangal baat chali hai pata chala hai

Chhaddi pehen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai”

And my parents thought that I was just making up the second line, they didn’t believe me, till they actually heard the song on television. I think that was my first encounter with you and your magical words, I innocently fell in love with the way you so subtly and simply juxtapose the words in your sentences. If you happen to be with me that time, I would have happily shared my ‘Kiss Me’ bar with you that I used to get from my grandfather, after his long walks. I never missed Mogli and I made sure that I never miss the title track too.

An average student from a middle class family, I wasn’t surrounded with any unique literary element, and I was never introduced to the world of literature other than what I read in my course books, not that I had any encounter with the “Dead Poet’s Society”, but as I  was growing up, your songs started marking my mind innately. Each and every word of yours felt like mild susurrations, whispers, or a blow of fresh air. I started craving and searching for more.

Those days I wasn’t well equipped with internet, so during long classes I would ask my friend to write down your songs for me.  I still have the dairy where I dared to steal your words to preserve them in ink; I could wait for a life time for those words to come out from the well wrapped pages of the diary and flow rhythmically around me. And If I happen to cross you then I would intentionally let my diary fall –

“Kitabe maangne, girne uthane ke bahane rishte bante the”

I was surprised that there could be so many beautiful ways of saying the same thing. I was naive and ignorant, but you brought sensibility, love, anger, sorrow and every other possible emotion to my life. And I want to grow old with these feelings; I want the lines on my wrinkled face to reflect a life that was full of emotions.

“Dil to Bachcha hai Ji, Thoda Kachhaha iji”

Discussing your songs with my friends became my favorite topic of discussion. Your poetry appears fascinating to a layman like me and to critics who look to decipher the depth of it. Your words capture all my emotions and induce a beauty in them. It gives me sense of fullness, inertia and a battery backup for emergencies.

College days will forever be – “Copy ke panno jaise, jahan din palatte honge”,

Missing someone is “Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi to nahi”,

The sorrow that’s incurable is “Dil agar hai to dard bhi hoga, iska koi nahi ha hal shayad”,

Blissfulness of daily life is “Ek hi khwab kai baar dekha hai maine”

And what fun is praising a sexy woman by simply calling her hot; it has to be “Doodh ka ubaal hai”.

Proposing someone is “Takiye chaadar mehke rehtein hai, jo tum gaye, tumhari khusboo soongha karenge hum”

 And I cannot possibly feel the pain but it gives me goose bumps, every time I listen to “Yaad hai Barisho Ke Din Pancham”.

 Through one of the discussions when I came to know that your song, Satrangi Re is based on the seven stages of love, I felt enlightened and spirited as if it was the key to open the box of wisdom. And I was equally amazed when I found out that you used Gulmohar to signify love and blood both, in the song from ‘Omkara’:“Jag Ja ree Gudiya …………..tera bichauna, bhar bhar ke  daaru, gulmohar ka tokra”

I would have never imagined ‘Chand’ in so many forms, if it wasn’t because of your songs. As Saba Bashir has explicitly written in her book I swallowed the Moon’ that you perceive moon differently every time – “if it is a fifty-paisa coin, it is a bundle of clothes as well”. And moon was never the same for me either, it was the symbol of beauty (Chand ki bindi wali ratiyan), it was waiting (kuch chand ke rath to guzre the, par chand se koi utra nahi), it was the symbol of dreams (kabhi kabhi aas paas chand rehta hai) and it was love itself (Kya chand aur zameen me bhi koi khichaav hai!).

I so wish I could hold your hand and take a walk on a moonlit night where you can tell me about the different forms and I could just listen to you without even a blink. I so wish to become an invisible soul who can just observe you, when you write, sitting calmly, in your white shimmering kurta. I so wish to go for an astral projection when I shut my eyes and start listening to your recitations. I so wish to go through your personal notes that you pen down in Urdu. And once in my life, I so wish to go through your collection of books.

I wanted to be like Maya from your film ‘Ijazzat’, that you so perfectly sketched, I don’t even think she was human but poetry in motion .She was the beautiful crazy spirit who balanced the abnormal society. And if I were Maya, then I wouldn’t be writing you a letter but only poems. If I were Maya I would ask you to buy me some moments of belongingness, if I were Maya I would draw your sketch with your words and send it to you. But Alas! I am not- and I still don’t have the courage to become bohemian but deep inside I know that my heart belongs to everywhere I can go.

I would say that I love you only for your written word, but there is so much more. That voice which induces music to most mundane of utterings. Once I hear anything in your voice, I cannot read it or think of it in any other voice. Be it “Kitaabein   jhhankti  hai band almariyon ke sheeshon se” or “Wo bheeg rahi hai baarish me aur aag logi hai paani me” or “kisi mausam ka jhonka tha jo iss deewar par latki huyi tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai”

Then is your sensibility towards the issues like patriotism, war, religion and riots (Lakeerein hain, to rehne do, Kisi ne rooth kar gusse mein shaayad khainch di thi..inhiko ab banao paala, aur aao, kabbadi khelte hain). Rarely has there been a more mature and sensible approach towards the topic and this increased my respect towards you manifolds.

Gulzaar Saab – I can go on writing about all the revelations, I came across because of you, your efforts to translate legends like Amrita Pritam and Tagore, the biography of Ghalib, your work on the despair of partition, your poems on Women Empowerment “Kitni Tarah Mai Jakdi Gayi”

but just one thing that I specifically want to confess –

“Mukhtsar Si Baat Hai, Tumse Pyaar Hai”

Through the Eyes of Patriarchy

 

‘Patriarchy’ is such a miraculously dominant word, even pronouncing it makes your heart pound and gives you goose bumps. The frown on your face becomes more prominent and the eyes dilate and stretch. Its existence has infected society with ego, vanity and pride, as a result, the war of egos has created children of ignorance.

This photo essay is an effort to sketch the existence of patriarchy, keeping the hope alive that things could someday become better, all we need is to dance on the corpses of patriarchy and mock its existence with power and authority. Continue reading