Why are women ‘help-meet’ to men?

Was a women created to be her man’s ‘help-meet’… appeasing, subservient, crying in anger and yet carrying a smile… a Lilith- ousted from Eden of equality, replaced by Eves of cunning, struggling every moment to regain her lost identity? Why do women carry that ‘Alabaster Jar’ to wipe a man’s rusted sinew or wash his ego calm with her tears? Why is ‘equality’ and ‘partnership’ such a darn farce? Why is it seen as a tragedy when a man is oppressed, and a tradition when a woman is oppressed? We are still a mediaeval mindset… men work and earn, talk about their glories, women slog, sweat and sob through their never ending chores, hoping for attention, seeking it not for survival but a little need for true love and not for those fake ‘I Love Yous’, waiting for the real partnership to happen someday, when man would not shy away from switching roles with his chosen woman, if she is at all. Why is homemaking only a woman’s business? And why can’t men be chivalrous in the upkeep of home and hearth, filling up of emptied bottles, binning discarded tissues, cleaning and drying clothes, folding and placing them neatly, dusting furniture, getting up before break of dawn, lifting, shifting and brushing things clean, burning through the furnace to plate sumptuous meals, running and rushing at every beck and call, exhausted yet carrying the baton of family much beyond midnight, and repeating the same beaten schedule through the next day and the next and the next….amidst heavy lids that refuse to be rid of the puffs and dark circles around themselves, earned through misplaced notions of pride?

Ah men! What an ego bloat you are! Did I hear sighs of resentment towards these thoughts? Well, traditions are ageless and so is oppression! And love and sacrifice are taken for granted. Oh yes! We all have heard it so many times….. ‘real men don’t do housework!’ Of course yes, they only boast, and brag and flex their muscles. And abuse too! Don’t forget that! It’s their prerogative, for women and ladies essentially do not abuse. They only tolerate. And who said its a bad thing to want a wife whose universe would revolve around her husband, housework and children? We all have known only this way through the ages right? Men are not judged for a messy house but a woman is! She can’t even burn beer but men can drown in booze. Even working women do far more work than working men! But a man rules the roost for he is the main bread earner. He not only wants his wife to be perfect but also wants her to appear neat, tidy and pretty. It hurts his image of things are otherwise. What will people think of him if he doesn’t doll up his wife?
It’s time we women reclaim our esteem. Let men also move and exert a bit more and brag a lot less please! And be a partner and comrade and friend in true sense of these terms. For once, I hope to see men truly being men, and not just in hollow words. It’s time to be real strong women and not just women of strength. Did you ever ponder upon how we menstruate, and bear all the pain with producing babies, changing nappies, feeding them, looking after them, carry those stretch marks with elan, never complaining, and yet you crudely rudely ride over us, tiring from working or even not working, demanding every cell of us, and yet expecting us to smile and die every moment, and yet living for you? Because you only live for yourself… Your trials, your tribulations, your achievements, your defeats, your struggles and your stories. Whereas we are not awarded a reason to live for us. I do not want to be a victim for I hate it so much to be subservient. For once I want to be free….before I die!

Devapriya

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Weird wistfulness

‘Weird’ is a word I have heard countless times. It’s too familiar and like my skin.
I was ‘weird’ then too, when I was in school and wore the stormy braid that refused to be tamed. I was this ‘brilliantly average’ mind that imagined stories and lived in lands that never existed. Weird? Yes! My thoughts have always tasted like raw acrid nutmeg though delightfully earthy in appearance….both pleasant and rude. But not as rude as the distressfully bitter neem that seemed to hush the taste buds cursing it. ‘Weird’ as it may sound, I disapproved of forced social interactions if they were not on my terms. A recluse, I gulped this word in the silent taste of water, everytime it was hurled on me. I was ‘carefree’ nonetheless much like the gushing streams of water washing away grime on its way. My abandon was never taken well and I was asked by so many to peel off the layers of my ‘nonchalant’ self and be force- carved into perfectly painful epitome of etiquette signifying worthiness as the world sees it.

Nothing has changed ever since and the epithet ‘weirdo’ has clung to me. I still survive on the turbulent dark narratives of hot caffeine, and yet my heart dances like an early morning rain at the thought of having ‘retained’ my exclusivity.
Often when I savour a bowlful of rich creamy cozy soup, my ‘weird’ thoughts take me back to my favourite childhood pages, that are capable of lulling tired eyes to sleep. Seems ‘peacefulness’ too is ‘weird’ just like me. It’s much like the increasingly taxing foolishness of a teen, eerily silenced to suit the canon norms of the society. I could ‘feel’ the world’s askance look at me, because it could never tame me to be subservient.
Weird as it may read, I have always been incompatible and agonisingly out of sync with my surroundings. And my peculiarity is well nigh universal with those who know me. They call me weird. I call myself maverick.

Devapriya

Dear Home…

Dear Home,
My memories of you are so vivid
I remember watching that fierce badminton match
hanging over the railing,
occasionally sipping that frothy sugarcane juice.
I remember how excited we were every Sunday
To get up on time, eating and finishing homework
To be allowed uninterrupted Cartoon series
Tom and Jerry were our forever favourite,
So was Laurel and Hardy
I remember how every Sunday Maa and Baba insisted
On both of us watching the regional films
And the weekly ‘Chitrahar’ & ‘Chitramala’
So that we grow up respecting every human on the planet.

I remember how on long holidays we would meet family and friends
Over dinner or lunch
Maa tediously preparing elaborate menu
Decorating each dish with her undying love
I remember how Baba and Maa demanded weekly recitations
Of poems or reading aloud of short stories
To improve our diction.
I remember how Dada and I were forced out of the house every evening
To play, to fall, to hurt, to bruise
And to eventually rise stronger
And then return home, sweaty, dirty, hungry
Rushing to take turns to bathe and eat a sumptuous snack.

I remember how all of us would go up
Watching the stars right from your terrace
I wondered then as I wonder now
How cozy it all seemed
I often held Baba’s hand and asked him
Why shooting stars existed and why the moon shone everyday?
As I grew up I began enjoying the answers without questions
I enjoyed the raindrops drumming on the windows and washing our terrace
And I thought of many more things
I didn’t realise it then, that one day I shall leave you dear home
Never to come back again to your warmth and calm

Dear Home, one day I left you,
After 29 years of togetherness
Alone, cold, withdrawn.
You looked so empty and drab
Shocked that the little girl grew up too fast
And left you lonely.
I remember my people telling me
That the house itself was shocked
It grew distant though the memories grew fonder
The void biting into my heart as much as it hurt every brick of yours.
But there was no other way Dear Home,
You were a favourite to many
And everyone called you Barun Dada’s den,
A house famous for good food and good books

I remember how often Maa and Baba hosted people
But kept us safe from too many prodding elders
One glare from either was a signal for us to retire to our rooms.
After Baba, the grandeur diminished.
Though Maa kept it prim and proper till she joined me on my journey ahead in life.
Dear Home, You were never really mine
I could never return to you and your loving embrace
I could never return to caressing your walls
To me you were not just a noun
Or, a mass chanted pronoun
To me, you were my ‘Home’
A ‘home’ I miss everyday

– Devapriya

My Motherland, My Pride!

This land is the world’s encyclopedia
I love thee O Mother, O my India!
Your warmth I shall spread and give
To every being on earth that live
I woe and weep to see the boundary
Man Kills and destroys to prove his bravery
Isn’t thou known for your boundless love?
The green lands, water and pristine dove?
I love my motherland at every stage
It’s rich for its scriptures and every wise sage
Ah the majestically tall Himalayan caves
Here every woman is strong and every man brave
Man has come here from east and west
To find treasures found deep in its breast
She has sacrificed sons born from her womb
On the lines of duty, they took bullets of doom.
Here wisdom live in temples and flow in waves
And reside in mosques of thoughts that are grave
Here love removes rift in seething sands,
And hatred lie with pale brows in brave, broken hands,
I can fathom the ocean of tears you weep
And feel every torment long and brief
I can see your injuries of despair
And also gauge the hope of every prayer
O Mother! You’ve fought battles in air, land and sea
And tasted agony through every victory
For thee, I long for the day when betrayal and hate shall cease
When man will write poetries of peace,
O mother! You own these lands, forests mountains and rivers frank,
Your glory rings pride when bells in temples clank
We bow to you for all the battles won
Of paths undertaken and travels done

Gandhi and Gurudev… How the two humble giants changed the course of history!

While Mahatma offered peace, love and friendship through non-violence and sowed seeds of hope in a land ridden with despair, Tagore gifted beauty, sensitivity and feelings of courage and commitment to the people. It was as if both held two ends of the bridge to prevent it from crashing. During the freedom struggle both the giants held the staff of challenge to British empire ever so strongly. Their wisdom drew its depth from one source- Humanity and they both saluted it through their differing ways. Their words may appear scathingly critical of each other but in essence both of them drove their followers towards a common goal. A tall litterateur- Tagore held his pride of being an Indian over anything else and wanted Indians to echo the same so that colonials relinquished their deceptive ideas. His pride reflected in his poetry-‘ Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high……!’ Mahatma on the other hand was unapologetically righteous because he was convinced that truth cannot be smothered to death however gargantuan ‘power’ may appear. He continued spinning the ‘Charkha’ of his strength through his work and words which won him followers in the cause of India’s Independence not only from north, south and west but also from Tagore’s Bengal which was the theatre of renaissance and first struggle for freedom from foreign rule. Strange but true how intellectual ideals like Gandhi and Gurudev generated the requisite fire in people for purna Swaraj. Tagore celebrated love in all its possibilities and that was visible in his writings too because he knew, only those who love are capable of sacrifice. It was because of this fact that the French Nobel Laureate- Romain Rolland called the respectful exchanges between the two leaders as a ‘noble debate’. And said that the ‘whole humanity joins in this august dispute’.
The record of Tagore- Gandhi conversation reveal that at the core of their criticisms of each other, lay one thought- An India, free from colonial rule. It appeared as if one fought with the sword of words to arouse feelings towards one’s motherland and the other was using the sheath on non-violence as an arm to win freedom. Both the stalwarts were known for their integrity and fearlessness. While Gurudev called ‘Swaraj- a mist’ and held that independence from colonial rule cannot be acquired by abandoning everything foreign, Mahatma Gandhi discarded the idea of ‘Swaraj’ without everything indigenous. Thereupon charkha and Khadi became every Indian’s signature. In Gandhi’s own words ‘Hunger is the argument that is driving India to the spinning wheel. Because that is the call of love and love is Swaraj’. On behalf of the entire nation, Gandhi gave out his intent to the British empire when he said, ‘Come and cooperate with us on our own terms and it will be well for us, for you and the world.’ At the two ends of the rope, both were actively thinking, talking and driving the wheel of change. While the devoutly spiritual Tagore held that man does not need religion to have morals and distinguish right from wrong, Gandhiji declared humanity as the only humane way of existence and violence- sacrilegious to god’s creations. Amidst all the differences, they were strikingly similar. And that’s why at the end of World war I Tagore said that the awakening of India is a part of the awakening of the world. And Gandhi was weaving parallel threads of peace, humanity and silent resistance because he knew his influence has transcended the borders of his motherland.
While at one time Tagore assailed Gandhian philosophy and asserted that Swaraj cannot be based on external conformity but unity of hearts, Gandhi defended ‘Swaraj’ as the representative of the poor man’s wants and woes in a more forcible manner and at the same time as the establishment of the fact that Indians are capable of earning livelihood with such means and is now refusing to tolerate British suzerainty any more. It was this invisible common thread and mutual respect that made Gandhi write to Tagore, ‘I want you to give your best to the sacrificial fire that is being lighted.’ Gurudev responded with a heartfelt note of thanks which evidently stated his reverence for Bapu.

Tempest of love! 

Her arms were like the soothing breeze

On a rugged highland slope

Her eyes were like calming moon

On a hot summer night
He carried his storm within

Tested countless times before

The agony of times trampled his happiness

But he was the Phoenix with the Aron’s rod

He soothed her grief with his pain

And eased all tempests that burdened Her breaths 

She felt his peace through his heaving chest

As she wrapped him in her love & warmth
They made home in each other 

And their will built a fortress of love

Invincible, unhindered courage stood guard

To the memories that filled their treasure trove! 

Devapriya 

Brilliance of soul…!

I found them flustered and envious,

To see me abloom, dressed to the hilt

I saw them jealous of the simmering vibes

Of my heart’s brilliance from a million bonfire
I stood there unafraid all ablaze

They shrunk from the heat of my gaze

My thoughts reached out to the dense dark clouds

They withdrew in their own treacherous shroud
They said ‘you hold the blue, deep woodlands within you’

‘It petrifies us to look at the fresh morning dew’

I smiled in my substance and darkness

And delved deeper in my own wildness
I could ride the stormy waves in my heart

And unafraid, I could swim through every tide

I wanted to show how stars waltzes in my eyes

And how in the typhoon of the magic dust

I could fly and touch the skies
Devapriya

The dormant cosmos… 

It’s like a dormant cosmos

That talks about my indulgences

Of which I often feel proud, 

Indulgences that were lampooned

 by my soul

But they played with my naive heart

And played havoc with it.

It gave out an eerie rumbling sound

With a blanket of fog around it,

I flirted with imagination

To write another poetry of hope. 

Devapriya 

Of humility and grace! 

It wasn’t that she demanded diamonds and rubies, 

She only needed him to take her through

his mind to read the unedited thoughts;

To defeat the fears and melt the tears

To set their eternal love to tone for all ears, 

To burn her agony and iced pain

And savour thereby every gain,

For she believed they were meant to be

And their love would float on the divine sea
Devapriya 

The cosmic beats

I listen to the reverbs of the cosmos

It sings of her heartbeats and tells her 

She is like the break of dawn

When the sun kisses the horizon

And the tea is still warm.

Her life and pain sparkles

Even when dusk into night darkens

When she is happy, skies smile 

and stars shine in her eyes.

Even the earth sings of her soul

She is the Queen of stories untold
Devapriya