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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Dreamcatchers 

They say dream catchers keep away the bad dreams.

The nightmares that don’t let you sleep. Leave you twisting in fright.

But what about the nightmares you live everyday.

No, not the ones that lurk in the darkness, hidden below your pillows.

The ones that stare at you in the eye in broad daylight.

Like the time you were called a randi for wearing shorts on the streets.

When unknown fingers traced their way along your thighs.

When they tried to pry them open by force.

Or how about the time, when you were denied that promotion because you had a vagina.

How they squeezed every last bit of life out of you, but stole your reward.

How they snatched your dreams and trampled on it.

Or wait.

How about the time your uncle PLAYED with you, when you were too young to understand?

And the shame, the guilt and the anger that followed, all the years after!

That once when you were marked unclean, because obviously God didn’t like bleeding women.

All the times you were taken for granted. Your voice shut out.

The days when your boyfriend thought it’s okay to vent out on you. Just, leave a mark or two. After all, you could just cover it with a little foundation here and concealer there.

Or that time, when your husband raped you and everyone you told thought it’s OK.

What about these nightmares?

What about the false promises and hurtful words?

What about the scars that they left on your skin, reminding you of your helplessness?

Will the dream catcher take them away too?

Will it?


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Look Closer!

“It’s not always black or white. It’s not always yes or no.

Things are more complicated that they seem.

Words can’t always express how you feel, and sometimes a word makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes tears spell happiness, other times smiles hide pain untold.

Some days the stars look beautiful, other days they remind you of someone you’re trying to forget.

The blazing sun may look like fire, but maybe it’s just a melting candle counting it’s last breaths.

Those innocent looking eyes behind the spectacles might have seen adventures you wouldn’t have even imagined.

That pretty boy with abs like Stallone, might’ve been fighting off demons in daylight.

Maybe that quiet old lady smiles at you because you look like her long lost lover.

Maybe your mom says she’s okay, but is not.

Maybe those straight roads lead to hell, and maybe the alleys hidden in the dark end on the stairway to heaven.

People are not just good or bad. Sometimes, there is a glimmer of love in the most broken hearts. Sometimes, the most radiant laughters hold cries for help.

Things are never as they seem you know.

So, look a little harder, feel a little deeper, hold on a little longer and you will see things for what they are.”

Most times, we just take things at face value. Nowadays we neither have the time nor the patience to scrape beneath the surface. We hear, but we don’t listen. We see but we don’t perceive. We comprehend but we don’t understand.  We sympathize but never empathize. In the hustle of everyday lives we just lose track of the smaller things. The details, the little clues that are probably the most important things in life.

Especially with people. Sometimes we fail to notice what’s right in front of us. That sad smile, that unsure text message, they tell a lot about a person, and most times we ignorantly miss out.

So just sometimes, take the time to genuinely lend your ear to someone’s story and get ready to get stunned by the truth that might be hidden within.


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Love Again.

It hurts so much that you don’t know what to do. The pain blinds you. You can barely remember you’re alive. Yet you walk around with a smile stitched on to your lips. Telling people you’re okay, when you’re not. Crying into your pillows when no one can see you. Tearing away scribbled letters, that were never posted. Typing messages on your phone that will never be sent. Swallowing in the anger, the disappointment. Staring into the sky and hating the stars because all they did was remind you of that one person.

The sight of others in love begins to repel you. Oh and love songs are a big no-no! Some days you feel anger for yourself. How couldn’t you see it coming? What you did wrong? Somedays it’s pity. You feel sorry for yourself. You look into the mirror and you can’t bear to look at yourself without tears streaking your cheeks. Then you begin pushing away the dreams. Burying every last bit of emotion, just so you don’t feel that crushing pain again.

Building walls because you don’t ever want to feel vulnerable again. You cross your heart & train your mind to look away if it gets remotely attached to someone! You slowly turn into the demon that you dreaded all along. You push everyone away because you can’t bear the thought of them leaving too. At your lowest days you wish you had someone, but then you say you’re better off alone. Then one day you stop mourning your loss. It stops hurting as much as it did. You don’t cry thinking about it now. Your words aren’t as bitter.

Somewhere along the line, you begin to forget what it felt like. The love, the care. The way your heart beat when your lips met. Those days that turned into nights endlessly with them by your side. You try to remember why you held that anger, but you can’t quite remember.

Then when we least expect it, comes someone who is patient enough to tear down your walls. To look into your eyes and see all your bruises. To hold you when you aren’t strong enough to face the world alone. Someone who tells you stories and makes you believe in magic again. Someone who’s voice makes you smile in the middle of the night. Someone who pushes you to be your best. Someone who tells you that you are beautiful on your worst days. Just like that, you know you were meant to be. Just like that, it’s all okay.

And just like that, one day you look at the sky, and the stars look beautiful once again! 🙂


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I Promise To Stay.

To the day your words will complete my thoughts.

The day your thoughts will become OUR dream.

To the day, our hearts would beat together.

To the day your promises would become a reality.

To the day our our skins will melt into each other’s and our days turn to nights endlessly.

To the day your silences speak louder than words.

To the day I discover the pain behind that smile of yours.

To the day your lips spell my happiness.

To the day your demons lose control finally.

To the day you find yourself again with me.

To the day your story becomes mine.

I will be by your side. I will wait patiently. To that day. I promise.


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It’s all coming back …

“The hospital is a strange place . It’s a place where happiness and sadness co-exist . There is a continuous cycle of birth and death in action . Its a place that can turn an atheist into a disciple ,but at the same time, it can push someone to the limits of disowning their faith . Fate bought me to this strange place . I waited at the lobby with about 50 others for my turn . Each of us probably had the same hope in our hearts .The same eagerness to return home with our loved ones . I could see a man nervously fidgeting with his phone , two women who murmured and sighed occasionally and a child who cried incessantly in his mother’s arms . But inspite of all the commotion ; there was an unsaid silence , a disagreeable gloom over the place .There was an uneasy feeling running through all of our skins , and no matter what we did , we couldn’t shake it off .
And then all of a sudden I heard a loud thundering voice ,”Relatives of Rosily Palaian ? ” . The voice startled me ! Almost Picking myself up, I approached the half open door in front of me .
At first I desperately searched for a familiar face but couldn’t . After looking around for quite a while I found her .
Her eyes seemed that of a stranger’s . It was dull and lifeless and dazed with morphine . The Air conditioning was a little too cold for her comfort . She kept groaning and twisting about in her 6/4 bed in an unsuccessful attempt to get off it . I could barely recognise her . The ICU had turned her into a completely different person . Even from a distance I could clearly say that she was in pain . The hands that once pinned my hair in braids were now swollen nubs . Her lips seemed parched and dry and had cracks all over . She tried to call out my name but either she couldn’t recollect it, or she had no strength to do so . The infinite tubes and wires entangled around her like snakes .

I could barely stop the tears streaming down my eyes . I couldn’t imagine how she ever got here . To this place that resembled a nightmare . How could she become this person ?
She had forgotten who she was . I remember , her running around the house , busy with her errands . I remember how she loved to eat sweets even though her doctor had advised otherwise .
But the person I was seeing before me wasn’t her .
At that moment I realised that the person we were trying to save , was already lost . Even if she did get better , we could never recover her spirit . We could never recover HER”

This happened a week before my grandmother finally passed away . And a part of me was relieved to see her pain and agony finally end .
As ironic as irony could get , she died on her birthday . Her life had literally come around in a complete circle . She had suffered more than she deserved . Why ? I can’t say . But inspite of all the wounds that scarred her life she remained the meek and humble soul that she was . Now that I think about it , I can’t say she was talented or had an extraordinary personality . She spent most of her day in the kitchen .Didn’t have many friends to socialise with . Her family was all she had . We her children and grandchildren were the source of all her happiness . And that’s why it hurts so much to realise that she’s gone now . To know that no one else will love us like she did . Selfless and complete love . But I’d like to think she’s in a better place now . She can finally be at peace . She now has achieved ,the complete happiness and bliss that she always deserved .

-To a perfect wife , a doting mother and the most loving grandmother ,Roslin Palaian .
June 13, 1944- June 13 ,2016 .