Teddy Bear #FridayFotoFiction

friday-foto-fiction-photo-prompt-cradle

 

The walls of the room are so pink and shiny that they hurt my eyes. The embellishments are over the top and seem unnecessary. As I am about to close my eyes and do some retrospection about my life, loud music reverberates the surroundings- “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around”.

The ‘crib’  also has toy teddy bears hanging on the top like the sword of Damocles. What if just after whirling round and round they fall down with a bang. There is nothing amusing about them as such. What is this obsession with ‘teddy bears’, I fail to comprehend.

As I continue musing, a woman enters, all smiles. She touches my forehead and shrieks, “Jack, little Aria seems to have a temperature.”

Oh, my God, she is freaking out. Again!!

I am fine. Someone please tell my mom.

Being a baby is not easy, I tell you.

 

(147 words)

Linking up  with Tina and Mayuri

Friday-Foto-Fiction

Advertisements
Posted in #FridayFotoFiction, Flash Fiction, parenting | 22 Comments

The Impersonator #FridayFotoFiction

plumber

 

I walk towards the corner house taking unruffled strides. I am a plumber today. Impersonation is an integral part of my job. I ring the bell and find myself face to face with a woman who looks as desolate as the house.

Soon I am inside, fixing the kitchen sink. Like a man on a mission, I stealthily divulge a camera from my pocket and tiptoe towards the bedroom.

“Why do you live with this beast? He thrashed you again yesterday, didn’t he? And then forced himself on you?” I hear a man’s voice.

“I want to run away but I do not have the courage,”  the woman answers dolefully.

“I am there, I will help you out,” the man retorts.

Just then my phone rings.

“No sir, your wife is not seeing another man”, I find myself answering.

Sometimes, the detective in me is overpowered by humanity. Sometimes…

 

(149 words)

Linking up  with Tina and Mayuri

Friday-Foto-Fiction

Posted in #FridayFotoFiction, Flash Fiction, Social Lens | 19 Comments

The Power Lies Within …

October-2017-Muse-of-the-Month-header-5

(This story won ‘Muse of the Month October 2017’ at Womensweb)

Sushila locked the door of her dilapidated house in a hurry and took long strides as she was getting late for work. As she sauntered on the bumpy Mumbai roads that took her to the nearby posh locality, her hand surreptitiously reached her neck and as she touched it, she felt a surge of pain that shook her.

She could all of a sudden recapitulate the entire scene that transpired the previous night. Her husband, a watchman in a gated community, would force himself on her every night. He would never be gentle and the mark on her neck was merely one of the few manifestations of his sadistic and carnal acts.

Sushila worked as a maid at a number of houses and she would spend her days cleaning, cooking and washing utensils. She did not have kids as yet and it was only a year since she had got married.

Mahesh, her husband was not an alcoholic and he earned good enough to make ends meet and even save some for the rainy days. Sushila’s father had found no vice or ‘bad habits’ in him and so he found him to be the perfect match for his daughter.

Sushila was excited and looked forward to the day when she would be all decked up and become a bride. The day she got married was etched in her heart.  On that day, as soon as the relatives and guests dispersed and they were on their own, Mahesh forced himself on her violently. She tried to protest, but he said it was her duty now to please him physically. She had not been intimate with anyone before and so she assumed this was how it was done. But, then this became an everyday practice.

She would lie writhing in pain and gradually she accepted it as her fate.

As days passed, her neighbour and friend Ratna enquired about the bruises. She unwillingly confided in her. It was Ratna who told her that lovemaking could lead to pleasure too. She was absolutely alien to this aspect of physical love or that it could be a bond between husband and wife.

***********

She was hastily brooming the floor in flat 202 in Shakti Apartments, where she worked in a number of houses. Reema madam suddenly came out in the living room and started reading out the morning newspaper aloud and her husband listened to her with utmost attention.

“Sex with minor wife is rape says Supreme Court”.

“It is such a path breaking decision. What do you think Rahul?” Reema madam asked her husband Rahul sir.

“Yes, absolutely. When I think of women going through marital rape each day, I shudder. Women cannot be treated as commodities”.

Just then Reema madam’s mobile rang and the conversation came to an end.

But, the words echoed in Sushila’s mind the whole day. She wondered, if what Mahesh does to her would also be termed as ‘rape’. She was not a ‘minor’ she thought. Such thoughts tussled within her and she tossed and turned in her wooden bed.

Mahesh came and slept next to her. She knew what was going to happen next but she still felt scared. She felt naked and she felt as if she was nothing but a piece of flesh which satiated the desires of a man.

After the act was over and done with, tears ran down her eyes, as Mahesh turned and dozed away to glory.

****************

The next day, as she washed utensils at Reema madam’s house, she asked her hesitantly. “Madam, if a man has sex with his wife, without his consent, can the police punish him? I heard you and sir talking about it the other day”.

“Yes, absolutely. It is a crime. But, why are you asking Sushila? Is everything alright? What is this mark on your lip? The other day also I had seen a mark on your neck. But, you said it was nothing when I enquired. Tell me, maybe I can help you.”

At this, Sushila broke down. She held on to the kitchen sink and cried like a baby. The barrage of emotions which she had kept in check hitherto had been let loose.

As she narrated her plight to Reema madam, she looked at her unbelievingly. Sushila felt light headed and felt relieved by talking about it to someone.

Reema madam was very kind to her. She said one of her friends worked for an NGO and they would help her lodge a complaint and follow up.

She asked her finally, “But, Sushila, are you sure, you can take this step? You know the repercussions, right. I am with you. I will support you, but you will have to be strong enough to get justice for yourself. It can be emotionally difficult.”

Sushila looked at her with eyes that did not seem to give away any emotion whatsoever, and suddenly everything ran through her mind, how every night she felt scared, violated and went through hell.

She spoke without even thinking twice, “Yes, Reema madam, I am ready to lodge a complaint against him. I cannot lead this kind of life anymore. And I am financially independent. I am sure, whatever will follow cannot be worse than what I am already going through.”

Merely saying these words made her feel great. She felt in control of her life. She wiped her tears and looked towards the open window. The sun had risen and it shone bright.

It was a new day.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in feminism, Short Story, Social Lens | 4 Comments

Stop Judging

(This story was shortlisted for ‘ Muse of the Month September 2017’ at Womensweb )

woman-closeup-black-and-white

 

Neelima closed the door and took a sigh of relief. She stood there and kept staring at the wall clock. The tic tac sound made by the clock seemed to symbolize her own life. It was moving at a weary pace but nonetheless it moved with days turning into weeks and so on.

She moved towards the kitchen sluggishly and put on the pan to make coffee for her. The room was filled with the aroma of coffee and it seemed to lift her spirits.

As Neelima sipped her cup of coffee sitting in the balcony, she again sneaked a peek at the wall clock. Why was she so perturbed? There were still six hours for Amit to reach home.

As she went about doing her usual chores in the house, Neelima found herself looking at her image in the dressing table mirror. She could see before her a woman dressed in a skimpy night dress and she felt naked all at once. Quickly, she went to take a shower and opened her cupboard. Her cupboard swarmed with all sorts of clothes, jeans, shorts, crop tops, lacy night gowns and what not. From one corner, a cloth fell, and she picked it up wondering why someone would rave about wearing a torn piece of cloth. In her hand lay, a torn pair of blue denim jeans which were in vogue these days.

Stealthily, she put her hand beneath the bottom of all her clothes and dug out a salwar kurta. Her eyes lit when she wore it and saw her reflection. Yes, she could now recognize herself.

Neelima could not help but wonder as to why everyday she had to wear a garb of a stranger. Yes, her husband, Amit had categorically told her the day after they got married, that he always liked smartly dressed women. He could not stand a ‘behenji’ clad in salwar kurta.

Initially, Neelima did not take him seriously, nor did she gauge the intensity of his whim. One day, a few days after they were married, she wore her favourite blue kurta and even put a gajra in her hair. She looked forward for Amit to see her all decked up.

But, all hell broke loose when Amit saw her. He was enraged to the extent that, he steered out of the house screaming on top of his voice, “Didn’t I tell you, I hate such outfits. Can’t you dress up in a presentable way? I got all those chic dresses for you and this is what you wear.”

He did not speak to her the next day. The silence was killing her. She did not know what to make out of his fixation on western clothes. After, a number of other incidents, she was sure that this was not normal behavior.

But, what could she do? She was newly married and there was nothing gravely wrong with Amit. His family was kind to her and she had all the luxuries that a couple living in a metropolitan city could think of.

At times, she contemplated calling either Amit’s mother or her own mother both of whom, lived in Hyderabad. But, every time she picked up the phone, something in her curtailed her.

Many a times, she would blame herself for creating a problem when there was none. Any other girl would kill to have such a ‘forward’ husband and here she was forever mulling over it. But, Neelima had been born and brought up in Hyderabad in a very conservative family and since always she had worn simple Indian attire. No one prodded her to wear such clothes, but she herself was fond of such outfits and felt extremely comfortable in them.

 

It was almost time for Amit to come back home. She opened her cupboard and took out a Capri and a sleeveless t- shirt that they had bought from the mall last month. It was as if, her persona took a drastic shift and she wore a veil and was another person altogether. A person, who was alien to her, a person, the burden of whose identity had to be borne by her each day, in her bid to be a good wife.

 

One day, as Neelima sat flipping TV channels, her gaze was transfixed to an advertisement. It struck her like a bolt of lightning, when she least expected it. It was a short video, titled #stopjudging. It depicted a number of incidents where people are judged and stereotyping occurs. But, what stayed with her was the image of a salwar- kurta clad woman, who is shown walking with her held high proclaiming to the onlookers “Meri salwar kameez mujhko behnajee nahee bulatee (My salwar-kameez doesn’t call me a behenji)”.

Neelima scrolls through her phone and watches the short clip repeatedly. And each time she feels ashamed. She loathes herself for letting her dignity to be trampled. She resolves to stand up for herself.

As the door bell rings that evening, Neelima is herself. She is no longer wearing the garb of a stranger. When Amit sees her, he is stunned.

“I cannot live the way you want me to live Amit. I love wearing such clothes. This is my identity and if you cannot accept me like this, I will no longer stay with you. And yes, I called your mom and told her about how you wish to see me everyday. She wants you to call her as soon as you reach home.”

Amit looks at her flabbergasted. As Neelima turns around, she has a big grin on her face.

She feels alive again.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in feminism, Short Story | 2 Comments

Yearning #FridayFotoFiction

 

 

flash fiction writing #FridayFotoFiction Photo Prompt

 

The shop was abuzz with women thronging the place like bees collecting nectar. As I stood in the corner, I could not help but notice the excitement on their faces whenever they tried on a new dress.

They adorned themselves in exquisite clothes and then bought the ones they loved. I felt a tinge of envy whenever I saw them.

I wore clothes based on the whims and fancies of someone else. How I wished to wear what took my fancy!

But, I had a secret. Every night when the dusk fell and the shop was closed for the day, I would come alive and saunter in the shop slowly gazing through all those pretty dresses and trying on the ones that I loved. At that moment I could be ‘me’.

Who would have known, I also had dreams.

After all I was just a mannequin.

 

(146 Words)

Linking up  with Tina and Mayuri

Friday-Foto-Fiction

 

Posted in #FridayFotoFiction, Flash Fiction | 30 Comments

Heartprints…

Heartprints-and-Acts-of-Kindness-for-Little-Learners-MJCS-2

 

 

The lawn was abuzz with activity and people seemed to be having the time of their life. The place illuminated and every nook and corner was adorned with shimmery lights.

Sneha sat at one corner observing people who were mostly her husband’s colleagues. She wondered why everyone looked spirited and happy. She had to unwillingly come to this party as it was the annual office bash and she couldn’t afford to give this one a miss. Her husband’s colleagues would raise eyebrows and she would be officially tagged as ‘anti- social’.

Sneha had not always been like this. She used to be a fun- loving girl who would enjoy being with people and let loose. But, of late she had transformed into this bitter woman who was fringing towards being a cynic. She despised her present job and though her husband had asked her innumerable times to look for some other opportunities or even take a break for a while, she continued to be stuck in the same place. He could clearly see that she had been distraught since the last few months. But, all his efforts in cheering her up went awry. He had planned weekend getaways, he took her to impromptu shopping trips, but nothing seemed to uplift her melancholic demeanour.

As Sneha sat there, she felt lonely in the crowd. She felt a sudden urge to go back home and bury herself in her bed and close her mind and heart to any of the voices that reverberated around her. While she was lost in her own world, the sound of jazzy music brought her back to the present.

Gradually, people came on the tiny dance floor swaying their bodies and living in the moment. Once the dinner got served there were fewer people on the dance floor. But, a couple who had been there from the beginning dancing with each other caught Sneha’s eyes. They were a middle aged couple and they danced holding hands, dreamily looking at each other. Even when everyone left to have dinner, they continued dancing absolutely oblivious to their surroundings.

A few people started giggling and passed some snide remarks about their ‘public display of emotion’. Sneha also found it odd as to why they did not seem to be bothered by the prying eyes of the people and she kept looking at them. She also felt a tinge of jealousy and thought that they really must love each other and must be truly blessed.

Finally, the music ceased and the couple headed towards the dinner counter. Sneha also picked up a plate and seeing that her husband was busy chatting with his boss, turned to the next empty chair she saw and sat. Just then she saw the ‘dancing couple’ treading towards her. They were not alone. A man in his thirties and an old woman accompanied them. All four of them sat next to Sneha.

The woman smiled at Sneha and introduced herself. Sneha did not know what to say so she complimented her on her dancing skills. At this the lady looked at her husband and said, “You know what I danced after six months today. I have a severe back problem which aggravates if I have physical exertion of any sort. But, Ram my husband here, he knew how fond I am of dancing and so he made sure I dance and enjoy myself. And this is my son Rahul. Say hello to aunty, Rahul.”

At this the thirty something boy merely smiled. The lady Reema then told Sneha that he was a special child and he can not speak at all. But, Sneha noticed that she said those things about her son without an iota of sadness or pain. She seemed to have accepted what life had to offer and it did not seem to bog her down. As Reema fed her thirty year old son each morsel of food, while simultaneously asking after her old mother, Sneha excused herself and moved to the washroom.

She stood in the restroom looking at her in the large mirror. She saw the reflection of a woman who had everything going for her. She had loving parents and in laws, a caring husband who let her be herself and stood by her and a job which gave her the freedom to be financially independent. The Gods of Fate were good to her. Now, it was her turn to be grateful and live each day with hope and happiness.

As she sauntered her way out, she saw her husband ,who was looking for her. She hugged him and smiled. He looked at her unbelievingly.

“Should we go? I thought you hated parties. I hope you were not ‘bored to death’ as you say”.

To this Sneha said, “No, rather I am glad I came.”

Sneha suddenly turned back and she found herself standing in front of Reema and her family.

“Thank you so much. Meeting you all was the highlight of the day for me. Please, be the way you are”, Sneha said, while Reema and her husband looked at her surprisingly.

Sneha smiled. How would they know that they took her out of the pit of darkness and taught her how to live? More than anything, they touched the farthest corners of her heart and she would never be disillusioned again. The heartprints which they had left on her heart would be etched there forever , telling her to embrace life with open arms.

 

#WriteProBlogger #WriteBravely

 

I am participating in  The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. The prompt for today is heartprints. 

writetribeprobloggerparticipationbadge

Posted in #WriteBravely, #WriteProBlogger, Short Story | 11 Comments

Why Can’t We Have it all ?

working-mother-810x540

 

In the recent times a lot of emphasis has been laid on women empowerment. The concept of equality of sexes has attained a new meaning. And women are breaking the glass ceiling like never before. It is an undeniable fact that education plays a pivotal role and is instrumental in empowering women.

But, does education and qualification enable you to go out there and put your best foot forward? Well, not always. Of late, there has been a rapid increase in the tribe of women who are educated, who have a certain number of work experience under their kitty and yet they are unemployed.

Why would someone who has studied hard and possess degrees and experience which makes you employable, not work? As Indra Nooyi had once famously quoted that for women, the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict. So, owing to this, most women after experiencing motherhood choose to take a hiatus from their professional life. The reasons are numerous. They range from lack of a close kin to look after the child, unwillingness to take the services of a crèche or daycare and so on. But, the crux is that women want to be with their children, especially in the early years and watch them grow closely. Here I would like to add on that I am in no way belittling or deriding working mothers. But, I am making an endeavour to get a grip over the issue as to why qualified women bid adieu to a professional life.

Now, the thing which baffles me the most is that why we as women have to make this difficult choice in the first place? Why at some point do we have to take a call of either being a stay at home mom or a working mom?

As a mother to a six year old, I can completely understand why women would not think twice about leaving their careers to be with the child as I have been there myself. And, I had no pressure whatsoever to stop working, but I took a call as I felt it the right thing for me to do at that point of time. But, now, that my child is a little independent and is away at school for longer hours, I felt I could get back to work. As, I equipped myself to join the workforce again, I was pleasantly surprised that I was still employable but it was also equally disheartening to discover that most companies failed to offer flexible working hours.

I had to let go of a host of opportunities wherein I could work with some of the most reputed organizations but I could not come onboard owing to the fact that they fell into the category of full time jobs. Then, recently, I was offered a job at a firm which was into training and development. I was initially told that there would be flexibility and it being the work profile of a content manager/editor , I did not see any reason for  the ‘flexi hours’ or ‘part time’ work structure to be of any hindrance. But, after undertaking the required tests and proving my mettle, I was told that they have a strict nine hour work culture. I was miffed, to say the least as this was not the first time that this happened to me.

The reason I want to say this out loud is that I am sure that it happens with many more women who are sailing in the same boat.

Today, a myriad of initiatives have been taken so that women come back to work after a break. Some of them are praiseworthy and have contributed tremendously in turning around the career graphs of women. But, unfortunately, though there are companies who are coming forward and have hired women returnees, when it comes to young mothers, there are hardly any policies in place. Most importantly, the concept of ‘work from home’ and ‘flexible work hours’ is still frowned upon in most organizations. These organizations are set in their work structure and do not bend it even if women are ready to compromise significantly on the remuneration part.

Women returnee programmes are uplifting but have you wondered that after a break of say six to seven years not all women would have the courage and confidence to re enter the competitive job market. So, would it not make sense if we make our jobs more flexible( at least some of them as certain job profiles indispensably require more time and cannot be performed virtually) so that women do not flee the job market in the first place.

Family has always been an important unit in any culture. For a family to function smoothly, we need both parents to contribute both on the personal and professional front. If we do not value our women folk, we will lose out a breed of intelligent and conscientious individuals who can bring a lot to the table which will in turn benefit the organization and balance the entire social milieu.

But I am hopeful that if steps are taken in the right direction then there would come a time when women would definitely be able to ‘have it all’ in the true sense.

 

#WriteProBlogger #WriteBravely

writetribeprobloggerparticipationbadge

 

I am participating in  The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. 

 

 

Posted in #WriteBravely, #WriteProBlogger, Social Lens, women at work | 26 Comments