The Homecoming

He tenderly caressed her cheeks which had turned crimson red. Her heartbeat had accelerated and sweat ran in rivulets down her back. And then, all of a sudden, panic slithered inside her. She felt a gnawing, stomach-churning twinge and turned around to scurry out as fast as she could. But, her body seemed to betray her emotions and her legs froze.

Roshni, are you OK? What happened? I am sorry if I …”

Before Vishal could complete, Roshni zoomed past him with all the vigour she could congregate from every muscle within her and soon she was out of his vision, leaving him befuddled and disenchanted.

Roshni stood still outside the shopping arcade exuding copious tears. Dark grey clouds were looming large in the sky, as if the reason for their precipitous emergence was only to serve as a warning for her. A blazing red Swift screeched to a halt right next to her and an effervescent woman screamed from inside.

Let us stop the glorification and unburden mothers – Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day! This day is special to me for more than the obvious reasons. Call it destiny’s decree that it was on this day I saw the two pink lines which transformed my core.  Months later, my daughter sashayed her way into our lives and became the epicentre of our world with her exuberance and delightful impishness. Like it is in the case of a majority of mothers, the first few weeks post her arrival were overwhelming and every cell of my body used to be in a dead beat state for most part of the day.  And then, there came a time when I was not enjoying motherhood. I was, however, petrified to share my thoughts with anyone about what I was going through. After all, how could a mother not take pleasure in playing the role which is celebrated by one and all? Aren’t mothers the embodiment of sacrifice? There was an outbreak of questions in my head during that phase and I was too hard on myself.  I could not handle this thwarting feeling and just kept mum and carried on with my farce. But, fortunately for me, I reached a breaking point one day. And that is when one of the most important life lessons I have imbibed from my mother came to my rescue – to take charge. Hence, after shedding bountiful tears, I began to perform my own research and discovered gradually that it is quite normal to feel the kind of emotions I was experiencing during motherhood and not acknowledging them makes matters worse. In my case, acceptance and minor changes in my routine helped me to get my positivity and zeal back but I know there are many mothers out there who are having a tough grind and are struggling in their own ways to live up to iniquitous expectations. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical health, and it is a matter of concern that so many of us are not willing to even acknowledge the situation, forget acting upon it. There is also a lack of awareness about the reality of motherhood because its glorification is so deeply entrenched in our minds that we cannot think about mothers beyond “greatness” and “selflessness”.

When My Daughter Was Ready To Let Go Of Breastfeeding But I Wasn’t

It was my 2nd week post partum when the discomfort had begun. My nipples were so sore and sensitive that I had lamented about not having the strength to continue breastfeeding in the presence of my lactation consultant. And here I am, writing about my breastfeeding journey of 3 years today! I don’t know if words can do justice to this journey which has been exigent and fulfilling, with steep falls and euphoric highs. But, it’s only these words which can prove to be cathartic for me in my current state of dishevel.

More than a year back, I had penned a blog post titled “Breastfeeding – The Natural Phenomenon That Does Not Always Happen Naturally”. Breastfeeding is as natural as it is a learned activity. Though nature has designed it to happen instinctively between a mother and a child, more often than not it takes practice and a number of permutations and combinations to get the position, latch and technique right.  Like most new mothers, I have had my share of struggles and moments of self-doubt in the first year of breastfeeding. It started with nipple sensitivity and soreness, and then when that settled down after figuring out the deep latch technique through online tutorials and forums, uncertainty about the adequacy of my milk supply crept into my mind due to frequent demands of feeds from my daughter. When access to the right support and information helped curb this apprehensiveness, my little one started teething and then began the biting and clamping which led to bruising and excruciating pain. I had to pump milk using a breast pump so that I could give my nipples time to heal and my mother would feed breast milk to my daughter through a feeding bottle. All these hurdles coupled with the fatigue resulting from sleep deficit and body ache bogged me down completely at that point. I had almost decided to give up on breastfeeding. The constant twinge, the feeling of being thwarted and the frustration came out in the form of tears practically every night. Then I happened to read inspiring stories of mothers who managed to breastfeed for years in spite of all the hardships on a breastfeeding support group on Facebook. Something changed after that. Something within me gave me the courage to carry on. I tried some hacks suggested by experienced mothers to reduce the biting and clamping, and gradually my tiny tot got the message and stopped doing it. By the end of our first year, breastfeeding had become a comfortable and effortless experience for both of us, and I decided to continue breastfeeding till the time my daughter self-weaned.

Book Review: Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire

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 “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressedby Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Dr. Shashi Tharoor is an Indian politician, a former United Nation diplomat who is currently a member of Indian parliament (Lok Sabha). He is also an acclaimed and an amazing writer who has authored over 16 bestsellers, all of them centered on India’s history, culture and politics.The Inglorious Empire is a manifestation of the British legacy of imperialism and oppression which gives a bitter account of India’s devastation by its Colonial masters.

Shashi Tharoor, the author is known for his fiction and non-fiction works. He is also a globally recognized speaker on India’s economics and politics. He is the author of hundreds of articles and columns published in The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times Of India and many other global publications.The book reiterates and reincarnates the planned exploitation done by the Britishers in India in a very factual and self-explanatory way. Some of the major themes and ways in which the Britishers oppressed the Indians are mentioned by the author in the book which includes:

Book Review – Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta

Elixir

Book Details:

Author: Sinjini Sengupta

Publisher: Readomania

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Elixir-Sinjini-Sengupta/dp/9385854542

Review:

I was aware about the success of “Elixir” as a short film and the rave reviews it had been garnering at various International Film Festivals. So, when I read that the story has taken the shape of a novel, I was eagerly looking forward to get my hands on it. However, I wasn’t aware of the plot of “Elixir” till the time the book arrived at my abode. The moment I read the fascinating blurb, my curiosity was piqued and I was intrigued to know more about Manisha and her parallel world.

Plot Summary

He is an affluent entrepreneur and she is a successful professional. They have a perfect life or so it seems. It is their 10th anniversary – the big one, the special one! But why isn’t Manisha happy? Why is she feeling a void? On a perfectly normal day, while on her way home from work, Manisha enters a coffee shop and then her life starts changing. She meets a man there and he comes to her in her dreams that night, and every night thereafter.  She starts a new journey with him in parallel to her existing life. But what happens when the lines between her reality and dreams get blurred? Will Manisha be able to find her answers through her parallel existence?

What Works

  • The vivid and poetic prose – With Elixir, the author takes the reader on a journey which is heart-breaking yet fulfilling, melancholic yet uplifting. What I loved the most about the novel is its sublime poetic prose and vivid imagery which hooked me right from the beginning. As the story progressed, I was gradually immersed into Manisha’s world and was a part of her reality as well as her dreams. When you get to read lines like the ones I am quoting here just a few pages into a novel, you know you are in for a literary treat.

“When rain hits the earth, it brings a few pieces of the sky down with itself…have you ever seen it? The pictures shift as you do…the tall towers, the TV antennae, the row of pigeons on electric wires…and far beyond, if you look, the endless blue of the horizon. These solitary reflections, they last throughout the dark nights…And then? Then, on the morrow when the sun comes calling, they go back. To make the sky one whole again. But wait. Can the sky ever be whole, with such void all over itself?”

Nothing will change if we believe nothing will change

// This article has been published on Women’s Web and is also available on the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/12/article-on-feminism-surprising-response/

Something incredible happened today! A man chanced upon my article on the Myths of Feminism and after reading it, he dropped a message in my inbox. He mentioned that he was someone who used to quite often mock the concept of feminism and though he did not intend malice, he enjoyed flouting at his feminist friends.

However, he admitted that he felt guilty after reading my article and realized the damage he was causing by countervailing the efforts of those contributing towards the movement. He also confessed that his own understanding of feminism was flawed and now he has resolved to actively advocate for this cause. After having come across derisive comments about feminists splashed all over social media every other day, I had to read this reader’s message several times to ensure I was not hallucinating. No prizes for guessing that I am absolutely ecstatic after reading his note to me. Through the power of my pen, I had set out to do my bit to bring about a change, albeit a small one at my level and this incident reaffirms my belief that I am on the right track. For someone who has been told innumerable times by many that “Nothing will change” as an outcome of my endeavour, this feels like a vindication of sorts.

This incident actually made me traverse back in time. It has been more than 4 years since I actively began to get involved in volunteering with NGOs. I can vividly recollect some of the things I have been hearing ever since.

“Anu, I am proud of you. But, will doing all this really change anything? Trafficking will continue to happen. Nothing will change till the mindset of people changes”.

“Why will someone change their views just because you or for that matter anyone else is asking them to? Do sensitization workshops really work?”

“Oh! It is wonderful to read what you write but those who really need to change will not change just by reading an article.”

So in a nutshell, “Whatever we do, nothing will change till the mindset of people changes.”

And then we are also cynical about the positive transformation of this ‘mindset’. Why? Humans are meant to evolve and I know a good number of people who have changed their thought process and outlook with time, including myself.

Short Story – And She Shut The Door

// This story is the winning entry for “Muse of the Month November” contest conducted by Women’s Web and has been first published at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/11/and-she-shut-the-door-motm-winner-short-story/

Kalki struggled to shove the dazzling embellished azure Kurti down her body. She glanced at herself in the mirror. Less than two years ago, she was inside the same trial room, effortlessly slipping into clothes two sizes smaller than the one currently in her hands. Before she could meander further into the past, she was called out for frantically by her present.

“Kalki, are you done? Aarav is getting cranky and wailing too loudly.”

“Yes, give me a minute Akash.”

As Kalki tried to placate her adorable and impish 8-month-old, she noticed that Akash’s gaze was fixated on the lady standing beside them in the lift of the shopping precinct with a tiny tot in her arms. Donning a striking red maxi dress on a body with just the right curves, she looked every bit alluring. Kalki was in awe and wondered how some women manage to have the perfect figure even after childbirth. She let out a deep sigh and followed Akash who was headed towards the basement parking lot.

“Which restaurant do I have to drop you at? And don’t forget to come back home on time. I don’t want to be late for my official call.”

“Mainland China. Yes, I will come back on time and in case Aarav is too grouchy, just give me a call.”

Kalki was keyed up to meet her dearest college chums, Prisha and Shakti. Though she was a bit apprehensive about whether Aarav would be fine without her, she was also looking forward to her first little break since the time motherhood had happened. She had managed to convince Akash to look after Aarav, who agreed to do so for only two hours because, as usual, he had to attend an important official call with his onsite project team.

Battling the tiny terrors

//This article has been sponsored by Odomos and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/battling-the-tiny-terrors

“If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” – Unknown

Trust the tiny terrors to wreck havoc in our lives; not just within the confines of our homes, but outside too. Mosquito bites are not just bothersome, itchy and uncomfortable, but they can also be fatal. We are all aware of the rampant prevalence of mosquito borne diseases like Dengue, Malaria, Chikungunya etc. These are life-threatening ailments which are caused by particular types of mosquitoes and the alarming death statistics bear testimony to the fact that mosquitoes are now among the deadliest foes of our country.

The Painter’s Magic – By Aadya

//This story has been submitted by 10-year-old Aadya who resides in Hyderabad. She had written this tale as a part of  the Children’s Day Special Creative Writing Event which I had conducted in the city. The kids were given different word prompts to pen a short story and her prompts were “Rainbow”, “Creative” and “Farmhouse”//

In the heart of the quaint town called Artland lived a creative painter. He loved his farmhouse because he would get lots of ideas to sketch and paint over there. Sometimes, he would draw such amazing pictures that those would be taken to the art gallery in the town. One day, a strange but interesting thought came to his mind. He had the urge to go inside the beautiful work of art created by him. He called up his friend who was a magician and expressed his desire to him.

Super Short Story – Theme “Fear”

I took part in a Halloween special micro-fiction challenge in which we had to write a tale in less than 50 words using the word “fear”. This is the super short story I came up with as my biggest fear is losing my loved ones.

Super Short Story 12