snehasophy

This is for all those who seek the joy in little things !


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What’s Freedom To You?

I N D E P E N D E N C E

Liberty & Freedom were the words that came up when I looked for synonyms of ‘Independence’. I think it’s safe to say that an Independent country is also a ‘Free’ one. But considering a country as diverse as India, where people worship Rajnikanth in temples, cricket is a religion in itself and over a thousand dialects of hundreds of languages are spoken: ‘Freedom’ can be subjective.

To my mom, women being able to choose their own husbands nowadays is Freedom. To my grandfather, easy access to education and free information is Freedom. On the other hand, it’s us. The millenials. We were born into an Independent India. We didn’t have to struggle for our basic rights like our elders did, and somewhere along the line we began taking these rights for granted. Nowadays, the trend is to rant about how restricted India is, ON Independence day. As a friend of mine put it, “It’s like complaining to your parents on your birthday!”

The spirit of Independence day is to remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors for our generation to live in a free India. We need to show gratitude for the fights, revolutions and bloodshed that went behind the liberties that we inherited by birth. The Freedom, we think we are entitled to.

Well, are we grateful? I don’t know about you, I sure am. But…. Yes, there’s a but.

…But does that mean, we shouldn’t strive for more? 70 years post Independence, we should have definitely crossed some mile-stones. We should have had a constitution that progressed with time and accommodated the changing needs of its people. But sadly, we are stuck somewhere in the past, with laws that still don’t consider marital rape a crime and consider same-sex marriages one!

Instead of progressing we have regressed on many fronts, putting our forefathers’ fight for freedom to shame. Today, we censor public opinion according to the ruling leaders (sacking pahlaj nihalani), we ban things as and when we please (Beef, ripped jeans or sleeveless clothes in colleges), we lynch people who might follow a certain way of life or belong to certain minorities (Gowrakshaks), we collectively pass judgments as we see fit (arushi murder case, salman khan runover case), we don’t value human life (’82 Sino-Indian war: Deoliwallahs), we monetize on religious sentiments, we categorize emotions as right or wrong and punish people who work against these set categories, we repress dreams and kill aspirations when they aren’t in tandem with the norms. This is what we’ve become merely 70 years after we won “FREEDOM”.

Should we be thankful for the rights and liberties we inherited? Yes.

Are we entitled for more rights and liberties? Also Yes.

Speaking of Freedom, here’s what my friends thought we need freedom from:

  • Freedom from Chauvinism
  • Freedom from an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Freedom from feeling unsafe
  • Freedom to eat beef
  • Freedom from Patriarchy
  • Freedom from moral policing
  • Freedom from gender bias
  • Freedom from Intolerance
  • Freedom from the past mistakes
  • Freedom from State capitalism
  • Freedom from too much freedom
  • Freedom from weak and incompetent administration and management by our leaders
  • Freedom from wanna be activist who don’t fully have the grasp of the case they are fighting for.
  • Freedom from your own insecurities
  • Freedom from financial debts
  • Freedom from racism and regionalism
  • Freedom from curfew at home
  • Freedom from my husband’s tantrums (Not sure if this applies to everyone!)

In other words, it’s time for an UPGRADE. An upgrade in ideals, norms and laws. An upgrade in the way we function as a society. An upgrade to become a better people. The one that our forefathers aspired for.

You could either accept the reality of today as your fate, or raise your voice and ask for what you feel is Freedom. You could comfortably sing “Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindustaan Humaara” today, without meaning a single word of it; Or, you could free yourselves and India from the prejudices, injustice, corruption and hypocrisies.

The question remains, “What’s freedom to you?”, and more importantly, will you work for it like your forefathers did?

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How It Felt To Be Bride’s Maid To A Blind Girl

Calm and unfazed, Premala sits smiling even as others frantically move about running last minute errands. Premala is getting married today! She says that in her 23 years of life, this is her happiest day.

She pouts & holds, as I line her lips with the deep red shade of lipstick that her guardian selected. Why her guardian you ask? Well, ever since Premala lost her sight when she was 10, her parents kept her at a distance. Too poor to look after a blind child who was also happened to be a girl, her parents dropped her at a school for the visually challenged children & never really intended to look back & take her home again.

I look at her dimpled smile as she chatters with the guests. The way she blushes when someone mentions the name of the groom. And emotions flood my brain.  I’m at loss of words as to how someone who is missing such an important aspect of life is so positive. I am at awe of her nonchalant grace.

She suddenly bursts into a song in Marathi & sings a couple of verses in her beautiful voice. Her voice so confident & clear, stuns everyone in the room.  Her voice managed to silence an entire room of cackling relatives and friends, at a wedding house! And then, she abruptly stops and asks me if her lipstick has smudged because of the singing. The women giggle as they hear her naive questions & tell her not to worry too much about the lipstick, to which she stubbornly replies that she wants another coat of lipstick! “It’s my wedding and I want to look the prettiest in the room.”, she says pouting again.

For some reason Premala had taken an instant liking to me ever since I first met her. Even at her wedding I was her maid-of-honor of sorts.

As I head towards her she asks me what I’m wearing. After all, she wouldn’t want her “didi” (sister) to look under-dressed at her wedding. I tell her I’m wearing a floral dress. I see her face light up! She asks to me come closer so she can feel the dress with her hands to know what a dress feels like, “I’ve never worn one didi, come closer, I want to SEE how your dress looks.” She runs her fingers through the creases of my dress and then looks at me with a smile and says something I will never be able to forget, “You look Beautiful didi.”

That one statement had tears flowing down my cheeks. I told her that she looks beautiful and all the guests were in love with her saree and her radiant smile returned!

This was followed by the wedding ceremony that was held in a church. I bore the bride’s trail. I was by her side until she was finally united with her husband, Sharad Patil who is a visually challenged person himself.

It was so beautiful to see how these two souls found each other. Their blinded vision didn’t stop them from finding love. Just because Premala didn’t see colours didn’t stop her from dreaming of rainbows and chasing behind them. At 23 she has a college degree in biblical studies and aims at reaching out to young girls like her.

If this isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is!

Many of us complain about things that don’t even matter. We are never satisfied and crib about everything that comes our way. Inspite of having the best education, best parents & friends to love us we point out to that one thing that we might NOT have. That one dress that you can’t afford or maybe that bike that your dad refused to buy.

One failed relationship and we give up on life, one test gone bad and we are ready to jump off the 17th floor of a building.

Sometimes all we need to do is look around us and absorb the strength and determination to keep going. Hey, no one said it’s going to be an easy ride. Take Premala for instance, she’s got it the worst way possible. An abandoned blind girl child, who had to fend for herself. But instead of letting all of this hurt and disappointment take a hold over her, she decided to give life a second chance, then a third & a fourth! Until she finally found what she was looking for. Purpose in life & someone to love. And that’s amazing!

Hopefully someday there will be more of Premalas in this world that gives up so easily. A world that fails to see the beauty in the little things. A world that has forgotten to be grateful.

Hopefully, Someday.


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Mumbai

You will find me in a million beating hearts.

In the clutter of the Dadar market,

In the chai -sutta of the rebellious city teen.

In the waves that sweep through the shores of Marine drive.

In the misty coffee houses of Matunga,

In the dingy slums of Dharavi,

In the chic bungalows of Juhu tara.

In the alluring charms of Kamathipura,

In the abusive banter of the fish mongers.

In the first rains that soak the children,

In the humid summers that drench everyone in sweat.

The groovy nights at blue frog,

The blissful prayers at Siddhivinayak.

In the buzzing streets of bandra,

Or the country-side bliss of vasai.

In every heaving-breath of a Virar local,

In the saddened silences of Tata hospital.

In the legendary evenings of Prithvi theatre,

In the infinite aimless games of cricket at the oval maidan.

In the cheers for the Mumbai Indians,

In the masked smiles of the LGBT pride parade.

From the nalli nihari and the salli boti

To the masala dosa and vada pav.

From the pillars of gateway,

To the roads of palm beach .

I’m a heaven for dreamers.

I’m the love child of chaos and tranquility.

I’m the unbreakable spirit.

I’m the euphoric emotion.

I am you .I am me.

I am Mumbai.