Woman’s Day?

The hair fell in a neat bunch on the apron, as the skilled hands of the barber, cut them to size. I knew the curling locks would be fun and fashionable, but was also aware that the norms were not what they adhered to. My hair style is for others to like. They liked it short and neat. ‘Short and neat’ was what it would be, assured the barber.

The gentle rhythmic sound of the scissors put the sleep on my heavy eyelids. I drifted between the real and the dream. The mobile phone of the barber rang. The caller tune was a catchy Bollywood song depicting the famous ritual of breaking of the ‘Matki’ – the pot full of butter tied away exclusively at a height. The pot as per the tradition is broken by an enthusiastic ‘human pyramid’ depicting the act of ‘Krishna’ – the God, to bring down the exclusive butter, for everyone’s consumption, without any prejudice. Everyone was entitled to the butter, rich or poor, girl or boy. 

The ring of the phone brought me to the real.

The barber temporarily suspended the project ‘short and neat’ to attend to the call, which seemed far more ‘urgent and important’ to him. There was no choice for me, but to overhear the conversation, as he spoke into the speaker phone louder than needed. 

It was a good news. The matrimony of his sister was fixed. 

His mother thanked God for his grace and her late husband for his wisdom which brought them this happy moment. She was happy for their father’s decision not to allow the girl to pursue her studies beyond what she had learnt at her home. The future in laws during their meeting, she said, were appreciative of the fact that the girl was brought up in the traditional manner and was not spoiled by giving her ‘unnecessary’ education. 

She affectionately added, “Beta, please do not to intervene and put a spoke in the event like you did in case of your elder sister. You know that, your insistence on educating your sister was the biggest curse.”

She went on to lament the sad fortune of his elder sister, who was yet to find a suitable family, just because every prospective bridegroom was threatened by the ‘over educated’ girl. 

The barber’s lips quivered but he didn’t utter a word.

“She is a fool” continued his mother, filling the silence with her outrage, “She still insists on continuing her work at that godforsaken school and has no interest in the household jobs. Isn’t that blasphemous”?

“She is too independent”, continued his mother, blaming his sister for her own helplessness. “…and the money she gets for the household has gone into her head. I wish I can get her married so that this demon in her mind could be destroyed. Her education is her curse, she will one day realise that”. 

The mother prophesied that one day the society will cut her wings and put his sister to her place.

The barber pushed a button and the conversation ended.

He picked up the scissor to resume his craft. The snipping of the scissors this time, followed a melancholy rhythm, betraying the thoughts in the mind that directed the hands. 

The phone rang again. He allowed the song to ring till it faded away. The exclusive butter in the high pot remained far away from the needy hands as water cannons from the crowd below brought down the valiant yet shaky pyramid of hope. 

I couldn’t stop myself from making the sympathetic enquiry on why he felt sad after hearing the happy news. He started to answer, but paused.

He picked his scissors. He assured once again, that my hair would be cut to size. He promised that when the scissors finish the work and I look myself in the mirror, I would find my hair ‘short and neat’, the way everyone likes it. 

The curls and the flowing locks were cut to size. The snipping scissors put me back to sleep. Like so many others, I also felt that the ‘real’ was not worth being ‘awake’.

We want to be slaves

Freedom! Freedom!

Chanted the revolutionaries as they marched resolutely against the oppressors.

…And one day they were free.

That should be the end, isn’t it? But then it is not. Its a new order. But it still isn’t free. Freedom is elusive. They could not find it. They continue their struggle.

Did they really want to be free? Do YOU want to be free? Do I want to be free?

What do I seek? What is freedom?

Freedom, for me. is to do what I want to to do, whenever I want. Freedom also means that, nobody should restricts me from doing what I want to do, whenever I want to do. Therefore freedom is also equally a restriction on others so that I can be free.

Freedom is unrestricted thought and action. Freedom would mean no boundaries and limits.

Now close your eyes and think about the space completely limitless. Space with no boundaries in either direction. With no base. Yes no base!! Wouldn’t that be a boundary too? Now think of moving around in this space (I guess calling it ‘this’ space itself will be a curb on freedom). As one closes his/her eyes, the hand would instinctively go to feel the walls to walk along, a railing to place the trust on. We want to hold on to something. Cling to the certainties of boundaries.

Yes, lets face it we are clingy as a species, as a life form. Possibly this clingy aspect of ours, is the factor which has been our survival. Clinging to the land as we evolved from the hunters and gatherers to the farmers. Clinging to groups of faiths as we tread on a path with no boundaries in search of the primordial question of ‘Who am I’?

We evolved in the quest of freeing ourselves from each initial state, only to find ourselves seeking the next state of certainty as we confront the limitless uncertainty of freedom.

Deep in our hearts we want to cling to rules. We collectively agree the best ways of living which is nearest to our imagined state of freedom. Each person exerting the his own way of thinking of being free. Thus in turn creating boundaries which the other person is not expected expected to cross to allow you, the ‘my’ freedom. These boundaries jostle with each other unseen, as the beings inside the bubble pretend to be free. Gradually, the bubble are settle in a tight matrix of other bubbles encasing other free beings. This pattern of matrix now defines the set of rules which define the collective sense of freedom. These agreed pattern is defined as the culture. The rules are the ethics we bind ourselves as a compromise to be nearest to the state of imagined freedom. Each being defined in a set of parameters and predictable behaviour to maintain the harmony. The rules get edified as the Dharma. Each individual set of rule based on individual set of tendencies. Each set of tendencies expressing themselves to define the limits of the bubble trying to derive definition of free living. Each finding its place in the matrix wearing the warm cloak of certainty hiding the hideous inside fabric of submissiveness. The allure of submission leading to hierarchies and skewed privileges which form the seeds for the next set of struggle to seek the illusive freedom.

Therefore we want to remain in a paradox. Wanting to be slaves as we seek the next set of parameters, next set of boundaries for Freedom. Indulging in a continuous and unending cycle of struggle.

This set piece, remains the next state of freedom, existing and surviving only till the time it starts to suffocate the beings inside. Or when the beings realise the illusion of freedom inside the bubble of existence within the cramped matrix.

Till the time the being inside once again starts to seeks answers to the initial and eternal question – “Who am I?

The beginning of the end of this struggle is when we actually get that answer of ‘Who’ wants to be free. And possibly it ends with the deeper understanding that we are actually ‘limitless’…therefore free.

Different dawn of the same long night

The night was long
He was tired but did not dare to yawn
He had not slept
It was already dawn

The bullet whistled as it arrived.
It had found its mark
Mercilessly it pierced,
all the way to the beating heart

Punctured
but it kept on beating
slowly draining away the life
It was meant to be saving

As the dawn broke
the transition was Complete
The body that once was man
had turned into meat

Far away the news app pinged a notification
Another death at the border popped on the screen
With a swipe of the finger it was removed
Cursing the bad news he should’nt have seen

The night was long
He was tired and gave in to a yawn
He had not slept
It was already dawn

They were far apart
Each blissfully asleep
One had no will to get up
While the other…Never will