‘Weathered’ – Weekly photo challenge

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Horror under a hijab

Wake up. Fold your blankets and finish the household chores. Silently wear your hijab. As you walk towards the mosque, shoulders hunched, a bead of sweat runs down your brow. Walk slowly and head bowed. Do not look anywhere but the ground. Enter the place which is supposed to be a sanctuary for you, but has lost its meaning. Do not make eye contact. You are meaning and worthless. Just a woman. You are meant to blend into the shadows and do as you are told. Go home. Do not get in anyone’s way. You are a symbol of a broken woman, and that is what makes your husband proud. Men catcall on the street. Hug yourself and shiver as you feel violated and disgusted. But no, you must never stand up for yourself or say a word against at any man. Bite your tongue and prevent yourself from insulting them, telling them you are more than an object to be stared at. Curse yourself for even considering it. But you wonder of you are actually more than just an object, a mindless tool that does what your husband demands. You have been called useless so many times you begin to believe it. See a poster advertising math classes. Wanting to join but telling yourself you will never be smart enough to do it, not will you be allowed to as women and education! Ha! What a joke. Sigh silently as you reach home and back to that mental and physical place of torture. A place where you are no more than a punching bag or slave.

An extract from the life of a hopeless woman.
We must spread hope, spread education and the message of equality. No one, absolutely no human being in this world deserves to feel useless. No one should be denied rights because of gender. No one should feel opressed of insecure. Become aware. Stop discrimination. Help the world reach its peak.

The Dance to heaven

When you close your eyes and you move your body to the rhythm, your heart and each drum beat is in sync as the blood in your vein transforms into a dancing liquid fire

Dance means everything to me. Whenever I’m faced with a dilemma, dance is who I turn to, because when the music starts, I am no longer what I was, but who I want to be. In those moments all my worries are washed away as I feel nothing but euphoria. It is in that blissful trance that I feel everything is possible and a new hope is born inside. Then, I am rejuvenated, and I try to perform to my very best.

Dance has been my outlet ever since I started class at the mere age of 6. My classes were the highlight of the week and I couldn’t help but practice the intricate footwork combinations that accompanies the rhythmic Mridangam. I made sure to perfect every movement. I would stand in front of the mirror to see if my hands were aligned, if my mudra was identical to that of my guru and if my facial expressions portrayed correctly the feeling of the Indian mythological characters whose role I was playing. My guruji once told me, ‘You may never be able to meet God, but you are closest to god when you strive for perfection,’ and this line has played through my head like a mantra on the numerous occasions I wished to give up.

I realized how privileged I was to have found such an amazing hobby to spend my time on and that I had such wise mentor to help me learn. There are not enough worse to describe how thankful I am to them and they made a huge impact on my life. I wished to give back to society and wished to have such a great impact on someone else’s life. I started teaching the art of Bharatanatyam to underprivileged children who never had access to such opportunities and it was one of the best decisions of life. The joy I experienced, the lessons I learned and memories I created, I will cherish forever and cannot be traded for any amount of materialistic goods.

The most recent group I worked with were of the ages 8-15. They ere some of the most enthusiastic and cheerful dancers I’ve had the privilege of working with. An institute called Rajasthani Mahaila Mandal asked me to teach them a dance for their annual program and they made every second of time worth it. With their infectious laughter, our sessions were full of masti, but at the end of the day, we never left without having come up with new steps and polished the old ones. When I first met the girls, I thought they were shy, but as soon as the music was on, the busted out in to Bollywood dance moves with such zeal, that I could not help but join them. We started choreographing to a song, Swacch Bharat ka irada kar liya hamne, meaning we have taken an oath to make India clean. It would not only teach them the importance of cleanliness but also impress its need on a whole society n front of whom the dance would be performed. Dancing with them taught me a perfect balance between work and play. Since I was quite close to their age, we would have loads fun just dancing to random song and competing to see who could spin the fastest, but since I was also the one in charge, I had to know where to draw the line and get back to work.

The bond I have formed with these is incredible, and I hope to form more bonds such as these.

I have attatched a small video of our initial practices. We were still learning so no judging please:) thank you❤

Autistic to Artistic

Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Autism impairs the ability to communicate and express thoughts efficiently. All autistic people undergo certain difficulties and watching them struggle is heart-breaking. What is even sadder is that able people are so unaware of this disease and even if they do know about it, their knowledge is flawed. Most feel that autistic people are handicapped and cannot do much with their life, but I can personally vouch for the falsity of this statement. if life is a race, some people are just given a late start or must run without shoes. This does not mean they cannot complete the race. it is just a bit tougher for them. In my summer vacation I worked at an NGO Shraddha where I met such brave, smart and hardworking autistic people just trying to help in their own way.

Many young men and women, ranging from the ages of 25-70 came to earn a living at Shraddha. Most of them weren’t from the best of backgrounds and their parents saw them as an extra mouth to feed. They expected a child who would help put food on the table and reduce their workload, but they got someone who would need special care even when he or she grew up, so they decided to give the burden of their care to the people at shraddha. Out there, they were not molly coddled, but instead taught to work and earn their keep. They were treated as normal employees and given tasks within their capability.

On my first day, I was terrified. I had never spoken to autistic people before and I was scared that I would not be able to properly instruct or aid them. I knew they were much older than me and I felt I would not be able to be strict with them and teach them about their job when it was my first day and their 2nd or 3rd year. I need not have worried.

When I entered I was directed to a really nice woman who showed me the place and taught me how to log in my hours. She then told me that I was to work in the machine room that day. They used leaves and old used paper and converted them into aesthetic plates and bowls in that room. I was sat at a table and instructed to cut the sharp stems and vein endings from the leaves because the autistic workers were not allowed to touch scissors. Once I was done with a leaf I had to give it to them and they would put the paper, cardboard and logo as required. I had to supervise them and make sure they didn’t take too many breaks. They tended to get lost in their own world and forget they were. If they stopped for too long I was supposed to gently coax them back into reality. Sometimes they forgot how to do their job and I was supposed to explain it to them. It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning as if more than 2 of them had a problem at once, I had to prioritize and deal with the problems quickly and efficiently. I soon got the hang of it and started interacting with them

One of my favorite people to work with was a man old enough to be my grandfather. He was so full of hope and passion. He wanted to visit the world and every time he went on a trip he used to find pictures of the place in newspapers and magazines for his own little journal. During the period I was volunteering, he had a trip to Pune planned. In our breaks, I used to help him cut and stick pictures in that journal he so dedicatedly maintained. He didn’t know how to write properly so I taught him the alphabet and helped him write a few of his thoughts on the trip down.

Image result for shraddha autistic to artistic

Some days I feel so hopeless, so weak and powerless in this world. I feel like I am living in my own sheltered world, and my difficulties are so insignificant when one sees the larger picture. When i read about a teacher raping a 5 year old i felt so angry at life, the world and mostly, myself.

I want to help her so badly, do something to make her pain less but i can not even panthom how she must be. Never have some of us had to go a day hungry or fend for ourselves in the world. At five, I was probably upset that my parents weren’t taking me to disney land or not buying me a new American doll. My biggest problem would be a jigsaw puzzle. I would be scared because my mpther would shout since i hadn’t finished my vegetables or homework. So many five year olds around the world would be mature by this age because circumstances did not give them the freedom to be naive and innocent. There is probably a little girl hiding in her own house so her drunken father does not break her left arm this night, a young boy digging out a half eaten banana from the trash to give his starving baby brother, two young girls sleeping in a dark alley afraid of being gang raped again and a boy staying up till late hours and learning to read from the light of a lamp post since his house doesnt have electricity.

Today, I realized i am blessed. I am priviledged enough to have been given a childhood, to have retained some of my innocence in this world. I am lucky that i have three meals a day and an education. I have an environment that helps me grow and people who support me. My electricity and water bills are payed on time. My biggest complains might be that the wifi is too slow or that i havent gone on a vacation in the longest time. These are just wants. There are those i need. I hope one day i can use what i have been given and give to those i need and be selfless enough to put their needs before my wants.

An unbalanced hourglass

Granules of golden through the hole,

One at a time, connected our soul,

When one needed even a dime,

The other gave up time.

In perfect balance, we share

Because loving nature made you care.

Then came envy, greed and hate,

The end of our date.

From me to you everything went

My life and much more i sent.

And occures an uneven balance forever

Since my heart wasn’t clever.

Soon forms a small escape route,

And all of our gloden blood

Escaped through that chute

Mixing to form a golden red mud

Which forever will stain our soul.

communication espionage – should the government be allowed access to our private data for national security?

Privacy or security? Normally the two go hand in hand, but communication espionage (monitoring our communication and recording and private data) is a violation of our privacy in the name of security.

Would you be comfortable being monitored 24/7? Would you be willing to give up all your privacy? Have all your data stored with one source, not having any control of what they would do with it? And why? So the government can virtually monitor all our communication to check for threatening keywords like bomb? I, for one, do not approve of communication espionage. Criminals are smart enough to use codes or another form of communication if they get wind of the governments techniques. This is not a good form of security and may provide a database of all information of citizens of a country, which if it falls into the wrong hands, is a matter of national security. It is far too dangerous to hand over all our data and personal information to a central authority. The process of mass surveillance is also very costly and our government should not use its limited resources on futile causes like this, but direct them to the wellbeing of citizens of the country like healthcare.

I feel the government should not monitor the communication of all its citizens, but only those who have a previous criminal record and are affiliated with criminals. This way, most innocent citizens of a country get to retain their right to privacy. The cost spent on monitoring will also be considerably lessened. There should also be a warrant required to check an innocent civilians electronic device and go through his or her private conversations.

Communication espionage violates some of our most fundamental rights. People will be afraid to express their beliefs and thoughts due to the fear of it being monitored and recorded. If we give up our privacy, we are giving up our freedom. We will not be able to do anything without being monitored, giving up your freedom to be safe is like not leaving your house so you do not face the dangers on the street. Countless Indians lost their lives fighting for independence and freedom, but communication espionage would take away our freedom and all the lives lost w0uld be in vain.

There is no guarantee that information collected will be used for only good. History has shown that data collected for ‘national security’ has been abused and caused more harm than good. Powerful surveillance tools can be used by corrupt officials to gain political strength. Financial information and bank numbers may also be in the hands of those who may use it for their own gain. there should be laws in place to ensure that the government cannot misuse information and courts should enforce these laws.

IF YOU HATE ME, IT JUST MEANS YOUR SPENDING TIME THINKING ABOUT ME, SO THANKS BABE😘

Do you ever feel like your insignificant? Like your there because you have nowhere else to be? Like no one will care if you suddenly disappear. In fact theyll probably be happy cause there’s more space for them. So let me explain to you what i feel like. So when we’re in a car, like 5-6 of us, we kind of ish have to squeeze in. Now see, I’m 5ft tall. Not more than 45kgs, a bit petite so itsnot like i occupy a lot of space but still, i feel like a burden, a waste of space, and that’s why would probably See Me hunched up, kind of of ish curled up, trying to make my self blend in as much as possible with my surroundings. Feeling unwanted is one of the worst feeling ever. feeling like you have nothing to contribute to the world and that you are easily replaceable. Im sure all of us have felt this way in life at least once.

I never want any human feeling like this. No one deserves it. Let me tell you this. No one is better at being you than you. this may seem a bit cliche but it is so true. YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED. TO BE HAPPY. every single one of you is special and dont let anyone else tell you otherwise. if they’re being negative take that negativity and fucking prove them wrong.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

everyone can reach the stars and beyond. its up to you what you wish to do. Your happiness comes first and i will always love and support you

SHYLOCK – VICTIM OR VILLIAN?

The topic of Shylock, the antagonist of the play ‘Merchant of Venice’ is always a point of controversy. He is a complex and memorable character who cannot be grouped as purely evil. He plays both the role of a villain and that of a human who suffers from the loss of the three most important things in his life: his daughter, money and religion. He has been wronged throughout the play and thus, longs for revenge. His cruelty and bloodthirsty acts of revenge may make him seem like a villain but there is a human element to him that we cannot ignore. He arouses sympathy at some points in the play and at other points, hatred. Shylock was a Jewish moneylender and was persecuted for his religion. Anti-sematic Antonio hated Shylock since he was a Jew and a moneylender. In the Elizabethan era charging interest on money was frowned upon and all the Christian traders portray shylock and a cruel money minded man. They treat him unfairly, abuse him in the Rialto about his profession, call him a misbeliever, spurn him like one spurns a dog and spit on his gaberdine. So, when Antonio comes to ask him for a loan, Shylock tricks him into agreeing to a bond that states that if Antonio does not pay back the money by the due date, Shylock is entitled to 1 pound of flesh from his body. Antonio was over confident and accepted the bond’ believing that he would be able to pay it back, and if he couldn’t, shylock would not actually go through the bond. Even while asking for a favour, Antonio still treats shylock badly and belittles him for no reason except him being a Jew. Shylocks hatred towards Christian grows when his own daughter, Jessica runs away with a Christian and steals his money too. This, to a point could be considered Shylocks fault as he would never have accepted Jessica and Lorenzo’s marriage and was not a good father, but Jessica did not even try appealing to him and betrayed him. In the end Antonio is unable to pay the money by the due date as his ships have been wrecked. Shylock shows no mercy and takes Antonio to court demanding justice. He does not show any mercy despite the pleas of the duke, Bassanio and Portia (famous mercy plea) He justifies his reason for going through with the bond in an extremely powerful speech which is one of the main reasons he cannot be termed as purely evil. He says Antonio has laughed at his losses, thwarted his bargains, turned his friends against him and thwarted him half a million. His only reason for doing this was that Shylock was a Jew. Shylock says that Jews too are human. They too have eyes, hands and organs. They are affected by the same things a Christian is. If you prick them, they too will bleed. He goes onto say that if you wrong a Christian, they will seek revenge. The same way, a Jew too will learn from a Christian and seek revenge. This speech of his introduces his side of the story and we sympathise strongly with him. While trying to take someone’s life may be extreme, he too has been wronged a countless amount of times and this was the only way he could get justice. In the end of the play, we see that despite seeing Shylocks point of view in the courtroom, the Christians are still unfair to him. They claim to be merciful by sparing his life, but they take away his livelihood and religion. Religion means everything to shylock and in taking away his religion, they might as well take away his life. They think Shylock should be grateful to them for sparing his life, but what they have done may in fact be worse than death. the play ends on a happy note for everyone but shylock and we cannot help but feel sorry for him. It was not his fault he was born a Jew and was persecuted so much, for if he was not provoked, he might not have gone to such lengths for revenge. Shylock has a pivotal role in this play. He is the antagonist. He is the villain who meets his downfall in the end, but he is a complex character whose character development is such that one sympathises with him and does not call him purely evil. There is reasoning behind his actions and it is not completely his fault as he was tormented for no reason besides his religion. He can be viewed as morally ambiguous as one might argue that revenge when wronged is a basic human reaction. Shylock may have taken it to an extreme, but he was justified to a point. Antonio agreed to the conditions of the bond knowing how much Shylock hated him, and is partly to blame as well. Shakespeare softens the depth of shylocks malice by adding a human element to him and providing a way for the audience to sympathise with him. It is up to the readers to decide for themselves whether Shylock was a victim or villain. He adds complexity to the play and leaves readers with food for thought.

THE ONLY CHOICE

As the sky turned from blood red to a spectre grey shade, a shrill scream was heard resonating in the mansion. It stood solitary, a few miles into the menacing dark forest. There was a clearing. Outlined by 10 feet stone walls which loomed over the forbidding mansion. If one took a closer a look, they’d see the tangled vine stems climb up the cracked wall, the only things that could get past it.

Inside, a sturdy wooden door lay ajar, letting the first few rays of moonlight seep in. it was in that faint light, the silhouette of a girl could be made out. Standing in the ancient hallway, right under the crystal chandelier you could see the slight tremble of her lip. Adorned in a traditional white wedding dress with her curly hair in an elaborate up do, she was the picture of an ideal bride. But one thing was missing, and it wasn’t something blue or borrowed. It was a smile. That girl, she was me.

From all the 1000 off wedding scenarios I’d imagined as a child, this was nowhere close to any. Never did I imagine I’d dread it this much, that I’d be stuck with a monster for a husband. A man, whose face I’ve never seen. There was no love involved in this. It was meaningless deal, a business transaction. One that I had no choice but to follow through.

It was 9:03 am when I got a call. A call saying that the boss wanted me. He had been following me for a month and he wouldn’t stop till I was his wife. Obviously, I was frightened. I decided that I was going to call the police but then the gruff voice said something that hanged my life. “We have your brother. You will willingly marry and bear children for the boss or we will hurt him.” A soft gasp left my mouth and my mind went into overdrive. I started panicking. But even in that panic I knew, there was no choice. I would do this for my brother, no matter how much the idea scared me.

So here I was, probably looking the prettiest I had ever looked. The white lace dress accentuated my curves and made me feel exposed, but he had given strict instructions to wear this. I did not dare to disobey him. The pictures of my brother I had seen were already too bloody and gory. He had made it clear. One more mistake on my part, and he dies. The eerie silence was suddenly disturbed by the grand oak clock chiming 12. It was time.

A burly man walked in. following him was a hesitant priest. The man lifted his head and I saw the face of the man I would spend my ‘forever’ with. A long scar ran down the side of his firm face and his eyes had a menacing glint that made me want to run away. But I could not. I looked down, scared to make eye contact. He came and took stood in front of me, so close that I could feel his breath.

“Let’s begin” he ordered the priest. And so, we did. My voice shook as I choked the vows out. A lone tear fell from my eye. I did not wish to live the rest of my life as a slave, but for family, I would.

“You may kiss the bride”

I broke down. I started sobbing and lashing out.

ENOUGH!” he boomed, but I did not listen. my emotions had taken over. “okay, your brother shall pay.” And before I could protest or process what he had said, he made a call. He showed no mercy, no sympathy.

It was all over. It seems as if my life came crashing down in that one second. I was a mess but in that frenzy of feelings, I felt a bit hopeful. There was nothing left to fight for, I could give up and not feel guilty at all. And so I did.