Writer’s Poem: Our Silence…

Writer’s Poem: Our Silence…

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Have you heard of the term “Bystander efffect”. This came about after a 28 year old woman, Kitty, was raped, stabbed and murdered outside her apartment while 38 people looked on and did nothing.

This led to a research carried out in 1969, five years after Kitty’s murder, which was termed Bystander Apathy (effect). Basically, it proved that the more people there are available in an emergency situation, the less likelihood there is for someone to intervene.

Today’s poem reminds me of this story and forgive me for starting this post with a downer. But, I thought to share it because I believe we all need a reminder that as heavy as our words, our silence is also heavy too.

Town watches them take Alfonso by Ilya Kaminsky

Now each of us is
a witness stand:

Vasenka watches us watch four soldiers throw Alfonso Barabinski on the sidewalk.
We let them take him, all of us cowards.
What we don’t say
we carry in our suitcases, coat pockets, our nostrils.

Across the street they wash him with fire hoses. First he screams,
then he stops.
So much sunlight—

a t-shirt falls off a clothes line and an old man stops, picks it up, presses it to his face.
Neighbors line up to watch him thrown on a sidewalk like a vaudeville act: Ta Da.
In so much sunlight—
how each of us
is a witness stand:

They take Alfonso
And no one stands up. Our silence stands up for us.

https://biologydictionary.net/bystander-effect/

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Black History-

Black History-

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The ship sailed their tanned bodies,
on a fateful day with promises,
filling the souls of young black
Men with:
dreams born of ignorance
dreams fuelled by innocence
dreams affirmed with words
which taste like honey,
mouthed by men who spoke
a fancy language.

The oceans witnessed the horrors
which men, inflicted
on another, without skipping a breath.
The promise land drew but
with no promises,
the Eden for the black man became,
A new wave of hell…

I am the descendant
of one such black man;
My soul is rooted
With black history:
We are not slaves who
gained our freedom;
We were free Men long before,
The chains found our wrists…

Flash Fiction: Super powers?

Flash Fiction: Super powers?

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Mama mama… he came, screaming into the room. My heart skipped a beat, I thought something horrible had happened. Since our house got broken in, every call of excitement sent a shiver down my spine.

Grandpa has super powers!” He kept repeating, jumping up and down with a huge smile spread across his face.
I saw a light coming out of grandpa’s hand“, he remarked excitedly when he saw me.
Aw Honey“, I smiled, “that is not possible”.

For a moment, his face was a mask of horror and I though, ah, I have broken my son’s heart. It was only for moment though because, he smiled again saying, “but Ma, you always say through God, all things are possible”.

I laughed, knowing that was something I could not refute that.


word count: 131. This story is in response to Flash Fiction for aspiring writers photo prompt challenge. Thank you for this week’s photo @Goroyboy

Mental Health Friday #30

Mental Health Friday #30

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Last week on Mental Health Friday, I shared the story of Rahul who was diagnosed with Vitiligo (which is white patches spreading on the skin as a result of decreased pigmentatio). He was going through a rough patch; what with the stigma surrounding vitiligo, low self esteem and suicidal ideation. Today’s story continues from there…

At that time, My Mom & Dad had many long conversations with me, where mom was obviously tender while Dad pretended to be little tough but, they both had the same motto – not to let me fall into depression. In the meantime, I got a counselling call from NIT kurukshetra (kurukshetra is my hometown as well) for Civil engineering. After another marathon session with my Dad and my brother, it was decided that given my state of mind at that time, I should straightway join NIT and not even think of dropping a year to prepare for IIT again. And that Ladies & Gentleman proved to be a great decision as the things stand today –> #Moving on is sometimes the best option available !

Hey wait! Story is yet to finish. Few days into the college, I realized that it’s not like school, it’s different here. The way you dress, the way you look matters utmost here, especially during the first two years. And so, by now my favorite enemy, the inferiority complex was back to haunt me. I remember one day crying heavily after returning from college. When inquired by my parents, I uttered “No one will marry me!” And my Dad gave me a look which clearly said – you moron, you are have just turned 20 and you have already started thinking of marriage and who knows, may be about kids also!!

Jokes apart, I had this insecurity that no one would like to be friends with me and that nobody will even invite me to their parties because I look so uncool with these white patches.

After quite a few bad days, finally, one winter morning while sitting under the sun, I gave it a thought – why am I so unhappy and so ungrateful to God all the time despite having such a wonderful family, a wonderful college, some really great friends, no financial worries, availing best possible treatment available etc. Read more

Writer’s Poem: After a while…

Writer’s Poem: After a while…

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I don’t think enough credit is given to translators. I’m saying this because, there are some incredibly amazing poetry I have come across, which I wouldn’t have been able to read if not for the translators who transformed the various original languages in which the poems were written into English.

Today’s Writer’s poem Wednesday is a poem by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borge. “After A while” is a poem which resonates with a reader, it tugs on one’ emotional strings while at the same time, leaving a resounding message. It is the of understanding and advice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

After A while by Jorge Luis Borge

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up
and your eyes ahead,
with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today,
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to leave you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure;
You really are strong,
you really have worth.
And you learn,
and you learn,
With every goodbye, you learn.

Translated by Veronica A.  Shoffstall

p.s I would love to hear your thoughts on this poem. It really is a favorite of mine. (And yes, I have far too many favorites 😄)

 

Broken wings Can Fly-

Broken wings Can Fly-

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You asked the question,
Here’s my reply-
I cant tell you why those men-
Broke you that night;
can’t tell you why your mother,
Drunk herself mad;
can’t take back the childhood,
That destroyed your life;
can’t shut out the voices,
That’s screaming aloud;
Can’t make you believe in-
The body you have;
Can’t force off the blade from-
Your hands every night.

Can’t tell you to get over it-
That’s not right;
But together we’ll get through it-
That’s my pact;
Together we’ll sit through,
The dark till it’s bright;
I’ll bind up the wrists till-
You needn’t do that;
We’ll seek help together-
And wade through setbacks;
Together we’ll make it and
Don’t ask me why?
I love you my girl and
Believe in the lines-
Even broken wings
Can still learn to fly.

Originally written 24/August/2014

Mental Health Friday #29

Mental Health Friday #29

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Today’s Mental Health story entails the journey of Rahul, through growing up battling with a chronic condition- Vitiligo, in a stigmatising society, and its impact on one’s mental health.

“Ladki ka rang saf toh hain na ” (Girl’s complexion is fair, right?) – a question so often asked here in our country (India), even today, by so called well educated ‘to be mother-in laws’ of 21st century. Such is the unfortunate obsession for fair skin in our beloved country. But look at the irony of the fact, when your whole skin is about to turn white, you panic like anything because suddenly, you are being looked down upon for no fault of yours.

Well here I am, presenting my story (it won’t be sad & boring, I promise) spread over 13 long years of my struggle with a skin disease called Vitiligo or Leucoderma, which in layman terms can be simply put as a problem of white patches, whereby melanin pigment of the skin starts fading away and your skin colour starts turning milky white.

Irrespective of how deadly a disease is or for that matter, how adverse the circumstances are, you just need to hold on, you just need to believe that things will eventually turn better for sure.

The reason why I want my story to reach masses is not to glorify my successful fight with an incurable disease, but to convey that irrespective of how deadly a disease is or for that matter, how adverse the circumstances are, you just need to hold on, you just need to believe that things will eventually turn better for sure. Hoping against hope is basically the key.

Coming back to Vitiligo, well the disease in itself is not painful at all. There is absolutely no physical pain whatsoever, but believe me , the taboo associated with this disease just fills you up with so much of inferiority complex initially, that you almost start hating yourself .

The ordeal started one fine evening, when I was about 11 years old. I returned home after having a horrible cricket session with my friends (I was out for a Duck and went for too much runs while bowling, if I remember correctly). I was anyways, dejected because of the day’s proceeding, but suddenly my mom noticed a small white patch on my knees and she panicked –“It’s a white spot! Come here, let me see properly ”, she said, with her eyes already in tears.

This looks like fulveri (another synonym for vitiligo) ”, she said with a heavy heart. And a pandora box of worries & uncertainties started from there on.

My life was never the same after that day. Every now and then, my mom’s panic stricken voice and fearful expressions on being asked by her friends about my white spots, were more than enough for me to know that something huge and something bad has happened to me.

Then started a vicious and unpleasant circle of countless clinic visits to all the dermatologists in the city and in the nearby cities including Delhi. For the initial few days however, I was unable to understand the gravity of the situation (I wish I had never understood, for ignorance is bliss sometimes) and I was more in a confused state but eventually I started feeling a little odd, I started to hide my spots. So much so, that I intentionally stopped wearing shorts at all and trousers/jeans came to my rescue.

I can still recall that extremely uncomfortable feeling of insecurity, that feeling of guilt for the crime that I had never committed, which stayed with me for next 3-4 years during school. After that, though the treatment continued (steroids & all), but this negative intensity started to lower down a bit, not because I made peace with vitiligo but because I changed my focus. I started preparing for IIT. –> #Changing the Focus does help!

But despite the likes of Irodovs & Resnick Hallidays around (my engineer friends can relate to these terms easily), I could not clear IIT and boom!! Vitiligo came to haunt me again, this time more ferociously. It was all over me, spreading like a wild fire.

See the thing is, vitiligo is someway directly proportional to your worry hormones. The more the anxiety levels are, the quicker is it’s spread. That was a horrible time – a career failure after 2 years of rigorous preparation & an incurable disease which I was battling for last few years – just too much for a 17 -18 year old to handle. I started thinking of ending my life. Yes, it is true, I was really low on confidence and was almost hopeless. Had my family not supported me that time, I would have committed suicide. –> #Family Support does wonders!

To find out how Rahul overcame his struggles and lived to tell/write his story, be sure to look for next week’s Mental health Friday post! 

Thank you very much Rahul for sharing your story with us. Do check out his blog at The passportsouls.travel and say hello. 

If you’d love to contribute and share your story on Mental health Friday, I’ld love to have you. Let’s join hands to talk about Mental illness and blur out the stigma associated with it. You can contact me on My email address: mykahani@yahoo.com

 

Hope- a 4 letter word

Hope- a 4 letter word

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Hope-
Without it
I would be, a mess
Of a person, a shadow
Of a human, a remnant of
Someone who could have been;
Without it- I am nobody.

So I hold onto it,
Arms weary, feet dirty
And I cling onto it,
Mind boggy, heart aching
And I claw deep into it,
Fingers piercing
Last mechanism.
And I do not let go,
Despite the darkness
Building around me.

Hope-
A four letter word
Without which…

The above image is courtesy of THE odyssey online

Writer’s Poem: The way it sometimes is

Writer’s Poem: The way it sometimes is

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Have you ever seen a face in a crowd which reminds you of someone. Someone, a phantom whom you can’t put a name to but yet, you strongly believe you must have seen someone who looks like that before.

Today’s poem for Writer’s poem Wednesday tackles the same issue. It really is an interesting read (if I do say so myself). I first came across it being recited on Poetry Out Loud, and well, the reciter won the nationwide contest for that year. Hope you enjoy the poem.

The Way It Sometimes is by HENRY TAYLOR
At times it is like watching a face you have just met,
trying to decide who it reminds you of—
no one, surely, whom you ever hated or loved,
but yes, somebody, somebody. You watch the face

as it turns and nods, showing you, at certain angles,
a curve of the lips or a lift of the eyebrow
that is exactly right, and still the lost face
eludes you. Now this face is talking, and you hear

a sound in the voice, the accent on certain words—
yes! a phrase . . . you barely recall sitting outside,
by a pool or a campfire, remarking
a peculiar, recurring expression. Two syllables,

wasn’t it? Doorknob? Bathroom? Shawcross? What the hell
kind of word is shawcross? A name; not the right one.
A couple of syllables that could possibly be
a little like something you may once have heard.

So the talk drifts, and you drift, sneaking glances,
pounding your brain. Days later a face occurs to you,
and yes, there is a resemblance. That odd word, though,
or phrase, is gone. It must have been somebody else.

Yes, it’s like that, at times; something is, maybe;
and there are days when you can almost say what it is.

No judgements here-

No judgements here-

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You see the scars,
Displayed upon my skin;
Each bearing a story,
(Humorous of course)
Of a rebellious kid:

The 10 stair jump,
The bull chasing scare,
The crawling on limestones,
For the reward of a lollipop.

You see the scars,
Displayed upon my skin,
The ones with most impact
Though- I hold within.
Safely guarded:
From all’s prying eyes,
From questions whose answers,
I’m not ready to divulge.

You see the scars,
I let you view;
Don’t judge the whole me, 
The real me,
From just your pieces.