Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Part of Me

“Every savage can dance”…that is what Mr Darcy said about dance in Pride and Prejudice. I couldn’t have disagreed more.

I was introduced to Kathak, a classical form of dance, at a very young age. I knew all the taals and tukdas while still in preparatory school. Joining my college’s dance team was an obvious choice then. Western dance styles are way different from kathak but it is an experience I enjoyed to the hilt.

Dance is an art. It needs devotion. It demands a lot of sacrifices, a zillion truckloads of effort and mountains of patience. I always think of it as a slow art. You can’t make a performer in a day. It takes years of silent work before one can step on stage and dazzle the audience.

I vividly remember the long practice sessions we had, dancing for close to eight hours each day, pushing ourselves beyond our limits. In those days, dance became my drug. I was addicted to it. I talked of nothing else, thought of little else. And now that I look back at that time, I think those hours spent in the company of my team-mates, twisting our bodies into impossible shapes, will be the most cherished of my college life.

Whenever I dance, I am transformed into a different person. It is like a trance. It lifts me above the worries of everyday life. When each beat of the music resonates with the beating of my heart, I lose all sense of this world. It is a state of bliss which bestows upon me a sense of achievement, of fulfillment, of being complete. It makes me love myself.

The array of emotions expressed by the slightest change in posture, the silent words said by the movement of my eyes, the great tales told without uttering so much as a word; all left me overwhelmed and humbled.

While I am dancing, I can be anyone I wish to be. I am not restrained to fit into a particular image or social norms which bind me. I can just be me, free as a bird in the purple sky of her dreams…

But even as I am reliving those moments from my not-so-distant past, I cannot help but keep in mind that that joy is forbidden to me now. Happy stories do not always have happy ends. A series of events forced me to give up my place on the team. During the days that followed, I alternated between being angry and painfully grief-stricken. It was like having a part of me snatched away. Some part of my little heart went cold. Dance was my passion, still is. But I realized, sometimes you just have to give up the things most dear to you.

Dance helped me learn a lot, from little things like taking care of my own belongings and travelling by DTC to larger lessons of life like discipline and perseverance. It has played a pivotal role in shaping me into the person I am today. It changed this fish’s perspective towards life. I interacted with new people and opened up to this world. I came out of my shell to leave others shell-shocked…

I still dance but it is within the confines of four walls. I do not hear the loud cheering anymore or the thunder-like applause, so common during our performances. That was another world. Today, dance is a form of meditation for me, a way to connect and communicate with my inner self. It is a means to escape into a different world where I am not chained down. Nobody can take away my heart’s foot-tapping beats…

“Swaying to the music, lost to the world… I live the dreams I dreamed as a little girl.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Journey

Sitting on the steps leading up to my balcony, I can’t help but be amazed at the world rushing by. Everyone seems to be in a great hurry to get somewhere while I feel like a task-less lunatic listening to the endless chatter of birds. But what is the great hurry? Alas! I can never understand.

I do not advocate a laid-back attitude towards life but what is the point of running through it? Take any sphere of our life and all of us inadvertently follow these steps:
Step 1: Set a goal.
Step 2: Achieve it.

Shouldn’t there be a step in-between, say step number 1.5, which says: Enjoy the journey? Our life today has become so mechanical that we fail to recognize it. Pick any example and I will show you the lack of imagination in their life. Take a student. What does he do? Most of them aim to get great marks and well, that is the end of it. They do not care if they learn anything along the way. They do not think twice about the methods they employ to achieve their target (which include all sorts of ‘illegal and unfair means’). Where is the fun element of studying?

Another example: let us suppose that you are driving to any random place. How many of you actually notice things going on around you? Obviously your eyes should be on the road but how many of you have ever stopped to admire the setting sun? Or enjoyed the delightful drops of rain when you’re stuck in a never-ending traffic jam? Very few, I’m sure of that.

And what does this attitude give us?
1)   Stress
2)   Tension
3)   Short temper

We are almost never satisfied. We always have a reason to complain, a reason to make life a living hell both, for ourselves and those around us. We never achieve inner peace (anyone reminded of Kung Fu Panda 2?). We never truly understand life.

As someone who has always worked hard to get good grades, I sometimes wonder if I could’ve used those hours in a better manner. Had I diverted even two percent of that energy into things I really liked, would life be more enjoyable? Maybe or maybe not. Who knows?

But now that I have totally changed my view towards life, I feel like a way better person. I always have a smile on my face. I think that is what you call inner peace. It makes the world seem like a happier place. If you embrace life with open arms and not just treat it as a task, meant to be successfully completed, it takes you into its depths. It shows you sights which stay with you forever, springing to life when you least expect them to, and making you smile a smile of contentment.

I learnt that Life is not just about the destination. The journey is more important. It is about the little joys, not about miracles which never happen. It doesn’t really matter if you achieve your goal in a matter of seconds or an entire lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you have aimed big or small. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. All that matters is the quality of lessons you learnt along the way, the value addition to your character and the joy you derived from it. Live your life, you’ve got just one shot at it!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Joy Aborted

Instead of teaching me how to fly, you clipped my wings, left me to die.”

Public memory has a very short life-span. True to the last alphabet. A few weeks back, the country was taken by a storm. A popular actor shedding tears on screen brought us to the edge of our chair. It made us think, it made us weep, we swore to work for mankind…the country grieved for her daughters. But where is that passion now? Lost to oblivion…

 And this is exactly the problem with our people. They hear but do not listen, they think but do not act, they feel but are too busy to take initiative. Meanwhile, social evils like female foeticide can take whatever route they want.

This attitude often spells doom for expecting mothers. The effects of a child’s wanton murder are far-reaching…some of them so apparently unrelated that we fail to see the connection.

Medical Effects:
Human body is a very fragile system and when it suffers through an abortion, the effects are severe. Repeated abortions can actually interfere with a woman’s ability to bear children. It leads to problems in conceiving a child again. It also increases the probability of a natural abortion.

It is often seen that women, who have undergone several abortions, often develop complications during their pregnancy. These might range from getting diabetes to a high blood pressure. These may make termination of pregnancy unavoidable.

The medicines used may sometimes cause hormonal disorders. These disorders often make it nearly impossible for the woman to conceive again. Even if she does, her body does not support it. Also the probability of still-births increases multi-fold.

These are just the physical effects. Each time a child is aborted, the mother suffers from severe stress and trauma. The shock of losing a child cripples her psychologically. In severe cases, she may lapse into depression and withdraw from the society in general.

Sometimes extra-mural delivery of the foetus can occur in the interval between administration of feticide and initiation of a medical or surgical abortion. Although signs of life are avoided this is distressing and, in the case of a planned procedure, not the desired outcome.

Potential complications include injection site pain, amnionitis, or sepsis. Digoxin is associated with vomiting as a common side effect. Case reports of maternal cardiac arrest have also been reported following potassium chloride injection.

The effects do not end at the hospital.

Social effects:

In India, the minority is usually oppressed, suppressed and depressed. The story of women, the minority here, is no different. Life for girls is a never ending battle.

The falling number of girls (consequently women) has resulted in an increased number of crimes against women. Stories of sexual harassment, molestation and rape have become common. Incidents of eve-teasing are common place.

Women are given a low status in society, their role often limited to the kitchen and the bed. Mind you, there can be a thousand exceptions to this statement but it is the general story. Their own family members torture them no end. Domestic violence and abuse has seen a significant rise. The number of reported cases is, however, much less than the actual number.

Till a few years back, thinkers would think about the fate of man when there will be no women left to marry. I’d often thought that it would increase the value of females in the eyes of society somehow…like we realize the worth of things only when we lose them. But no, it just resulted in a worse situation for women.

Young girls from states like Bihar, Jharkhand and UP are bought at cheap prices for the prospective grooms. Their family is paid money anywhere between INR 10,000-15,000 (The average cost of a cow is 1000 times the milk she gives per day, which is around 25 liters, making the cost around INR 25,000. That is more expensive than a girl.). These women get none of the honour, love or comforts they deserve after marriage. They are often treated like filth.

Like I said…sometimes the connection is such, we fail to perceive it.

What are the solutions? Is there a way out of it? Can we do anything at all to curb this menace?

One of my teachers suggested a policy of fines and rewards when I asked him the same questions. In his world, we should fine the culprits and reward the informers. But is it really possible for such a function to exist without problems? Can it be enforced?

The existing laws need to be strengthened. The clause in the constitution which allows abortion of a frequency for medical reasons should be amended suitably, the penalties be made unbending and unforgiving.

Women should be educated about their rights and those of their daughters. Families need to be sensitized to this issue. The mass media can play a major role here. A village man may not know his consonants from the vowels…but there will definitely be a radio, a television somewhere in his vicinity.

Young people can volunteer to spread the message far and wide. Talks and seminars can be organized to generate awareness. The government should come forth with more schemes like the ‘ladli yojana’.

The change, when it comes, has to come from within. Our eternal hope, our unending prayers and our unshakeable faith will, one day, let her be born…J

P.S. My sister gave birth to a lovely daughter on the 29th day of May, 2012…her smiling face is my ray of hope…J