Wrapped in your Presence: Mother’s Day

“Wrapped in your Presence”

I’m sitting on your Rattan chair in our balcony,
viewing over a dozen earthen potted plants –
ceramic ones have now lost their colourful charm
yet regaled by intermittent chirps of varied birds.

A wind chime on which sits a metal bumble bee –
has gone silent now in the still, early May air,
but the crows, pigeons and varied feathers chirp
aggressively – questioning why you’re not there!

I listen to distinct voices now – of mynas, pigeons
and god knows who else among your friends –
as one by one they come in view then fly away,
marking attendance – as in essence you’re there.

Always the teacher and principal till the end of life,
students loved you – plants, birds, and househelp
who you tended to with a gardener’s vigilant air –
in it an airplane passes low as if bearing your smile.

A black pedestal fan, I’d ordered for this balcony
as April brought in gusts of warm Calcutta air,
also to give you company as you sat here daylong:
he stoically awaits you – it’s a year since you left.

There’s a light, cool and soothing breeze now,
but not enough to tingle a mourning wind chime –
who’s watching me with the clock reading 8am,
knowing I can sit here in your presence till night.

******

“My Guiding Star”

Mom, you’re the Best, because…

Whenever I needed you, you were there,
Whether or not I asked for your hand;
You have always been the Guiding Star-
Shining on me from wherever you are.

You always urged me to go that extra mile
To ensure my future is wrapped in a smile;
Who I’m today, is because you were there –
Nudging me, when my mind wasn’t made up.

After often prodding me - right over the top,
You ensured you were there to cushion my fall:
If it was not for your firm, propelling hand –
As an Oyster, I might have remained in my shell.

“One’s work is what will count,” you always said,
“Beauty regimes, fashion, can be done without.”
You’d say to me, “Never ever neglect your duties –
Good things will then come to you automatically.”

Whenever in life’s race I felt I couldn’t carry on-
Holding my hand, alongside you ran along:
When the baton in exasperation I’ve dropped,
Picking it up, you’ve ensured I just did not stop.

Integrity, strength, and values you inculcated in me;
A sense of duty, confidence and self-discipline:
Whenever in life’s journey I may begin to slip,
It’s your teachings every time I will mentally flip.

All your efforts Mother, may they not go in vain –
My success in life, is what then will be your gain.
Truly fortunate I have always been throughout life,
An excellent coach, and role model in you to find.

for my Mother, Dr. Mahamaya Chowdhury.

PS: several short stories in my book ‘Existences’ depict my mother as coach and role model. The 2nd poem here is from my first poetry collection ‘Fragments’.

Ma (Mahamaya Chowdhury) retired at the age of 60, at the end of Sept 2000, as Principal of a teachers training college in Kolkata – after a long career as lecturer in Gwalior – Jiwaji University, and then Delhi University for about 8 years each. 

Incidentally, just after she passed a year ago, on Ma’s desk, I found the handwritten rough draft of a very pertinent speech now — Ma had made on the passing away of someone, as a college student in Gwalior — at the same institution that she went on to be a lecturer in the next year. 

These profound thoughts reflect her spiritual perspectives even as a young woman. And ironically, what she would have wanted to say to me just now from the other world. 

Ma’s speech…

“Good evening, my honourable teachers, affectionate brothers and sisters. I take the privilege on behalf of my class M.P.E (final) to speak a few words to you. 

Every one of you seems to be thinking that it’s a sad occasion, but let us not mind. If one does not create the place, the others cannot fill in. If every one of us is to exist forever, this world would have been a horrible place to live in. Nothing is lost as the scientists believe, so do I. I am an optimist, why should we sit and cry. 

As Shakespeare said, “This world is a stage and we all are actors and actresses.” So we must act our role well. 

I do not know whether we have acted our part well or not, that judgement is not in our hands – it’s unto your audience to decide. And as to what standard of finished product we are going to be – the outer world will judge by seeing our work. 

One piece of advice to you, it’s not a bookish idea – it’s what I have learnt in my life. This world is a two way process, we cannot demand from our fellow human beings when we do not give anything to them. 

This world is what we make and it is upto us to live to the standard.

…it’s continued in more pages 

by Mahamaya Chowdhury – 1965/66 LNCPE, Jiwaji University, Gwalior

———-

In her last year …above 80 years.
My dynamic Ma 🥰🥰…at 65+ could row us across the Bangalore lake, the boatman sitting back…
Today’s bloom…from where I’m posting this….where Ma would have sat now!

Dedicating my post along with my story from the literary magazine Himal Southasian, also in my book Existences, for all mothers of the world, today…https://www.himalmag.com/a-doctor-story-shuvashree-chowdhury/?fbclid=IwAR38eVaUVJbWZiDHvurXX8FQ4KMaG3Eg4qaeU4E-VlsejEOdY2ekeVMmwmI

#mother’s-day #mothersday22 #mothersanddaughters #working-mothers #inspiration #motivation #lifecoach

Outside the Windowpane

“Looking out of your Windowpane”

Life and death must go hand in hand,
like two parallel beams of rail tracks –
they take you in and out of dark tunnels
through clouds and rain, then sunshine.

You may plunge into a river of sorrow
in rushing out of the tunnel of loss and death –
so you must be alert, conscious and vigilant
while you sleep on this train – to heal yourself.

It’s never known how long the ride might take,
on this journey to recovery and painlessness –
to where you’ll see a rainbow of optimism
peeking at you through the deluge of sorrow.

You have to trust that this journey will end
and you will go on in life healed from the loss,
keeping memories alive of those you loved – participating in Life outside your window pane.
————

PS: I typed the above straight here on my phone just now even as I was thinking of the irony of life – yesterday was my 16th wedding anniversary – today is my mother’s 1st death anniversary.
Though my heart feels numb, I made an attempt to look bright yesterday, and went out to Quest mall for a Bangla film(late actor Soumitra’s biopic). And then dinner at Mocambo(off Park St) that was around and popular right through my parent’s times. I just didn’t want to go to one of those new eateries.
The last year I have made the effort to lead my life the way I know best, by living every moment – even celebrating my mother’s birthday in September – for only then will my Ma’s soul rest in peace.
Incidentally, reputed Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh passed away on this day a year ago. Over lunch I had shared with her this news I received from a poet friend and Ma became very quiet. Would I have even imagined she would be gone suddenly a few hours later!
Ma and he would have undertaken their journey to the other world together – over their respective poetry! 😊🥰
This morning, I garlanded my parents photos …then wrote the top lines in tribute to my teacher mother from whom I not only inherited poetry – but the profundity of life.

#lifeanddeath #windowpane #healingfromloss #celebratinglife #mother #deathanniversary #poetry #poetryislife #journeyoflife #wisdom #lifecoach #inspiration

25/04/22 Sharing a write up I came across that elaborates my poem here: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/on-grief/article65308952.ece?fbclid=IwAR2LLwA9UV8yblkqno6VEaLWjpw4ahkxiORKNIk6mgDHPhu78SRh7BaHhrk

The Stories I Tell, and Why!

Why I tell the kind of stories I do: It’s life’s journey I bring into my poetry and prose writing, just as any literary author tends to. I cannot tell you with utter conviction how it feels to be born to Indian migrants in the US, but I can tell you what life is for Indian migrants to divided India who struggled to make their mark. Fiction is powerful only when it is laced with the truth.
On that note…
Sharing the immediate fall out of the previous post’s video. And what I meant by the struggles that make me the writer I am today – who can speak her mind without any hesitation. Confidence comes from continuously raising the bar, in repeatedly coming out of your comfort zone and into challenging spaces.
Another political drama, I inadvertently found myself in the thick of, happened in the year 2005, in Kolkata. This was after the several I’ve already narrated, among the experiences from my working life in my book ‘Existences’
This incident I’m going to relate, happened after Durga Puja, when I was working for the top, pan Indian jewellery brand.

We had several ongoing marketing schemes at the time, reflected through billboards all over the city, also on every print and tv/film media channel. I had personally been on a number of different Tv channels, both Bangla and Hindi, speaking and promoting our USP of the highest level of purity of gold in our jewellery, even demonstrating the same through random Karat metre readings, also exhibitions and fashion shows all over the city including the top rated clubs; promoting the brand in general, barely a couple of months of taking on my new assignment.

I had landed at the Kolkata airport from an official trip to Bangalore, where the company has its headquarters. On the taxi ride home, intending to drop off my baggage and freshen up before going to office, as home was on the way, I received a call on my mobile from my office.
A senior staff, sounding quite agitated, abruptly told me, “ Ma’ am, the Park Street Police Station OC would like to talk to you.”
“What are you doing in the police station now?” I blurted, quite rattled, but there was only silence at the other end of the line.
“Madam, I’m from the Park Street Police Station,” the baritone stated, “I’m here at your office to inform you that a procession of 200-300 members of the “Swarna Shilpo Bachao CommItte” (Gold Handicrafts Saviour Committee – I loosely translated the Bangla name) are currently marching with banners and shouting out aggressive slogans against you. They are all coming over here to meet you.”
“What? Meet me…but why…what for?” I said, then forcefully added, “Is this supposed to be a joke or what?”
“This is no joke ma’am. They claim that you have directly ‘kicked their stomachs’, by stifling their livelihood.”
“Sir, what are you talking about…” I retorted irritably. “What is this drama…what have I done to them…must be some mistake! But well, if they want to talk, I’m willing to listen to them.”
“We have obstructed the procession, marching all the way from Dharmatala at the Free School Street crossing…should we send the full force to you?”

I was pretty irritated by what I perceived as a provocative, mocking and condescending attitude, but in a calm voice I stated, “I’m on my way from the airport, and will be there in office in 20 minutes. Please bring only 3-4 of their representatives to my office and we can discuss.”

After the instruction, disconnecting my mobile in a rattled frame of mind, I immediately dialled my regional office, then the head of operations at the head office in Bangalore, and briskly narrated the weird position I was in. I was still having difficulty believing it myself, yet from both sides of the hierarchy, very calmly and with much faith I was told to go right ahead and meet the rebellious procession’s representatives to first figure out what they wanted from us. But though my seniors had immense faith in me, just as they had shown me since I joined the company and for which this has been my most gratifying work stint, even more than the airline, I was of course extremely nervous. The very idea of 200-300 people marching up to meet me in my office in Camac Street, even in the presence of my quite large team before Diwali and the police forces…it was a daunting thought to meet those whose livelihood I had apparently slashed!

But the meeting with the leaders, which was centred around our brands transparency of processes and candid assertions that was to soon change the culture of gold and jewellery buying in India, went off rather well and politely so, with 3-4 senior cops as intermediaries to every point, on my request. This political committee a wing of the ruling CPIM party then, wanted us to pull off all our TV, Print and Radio advertisements on our education on the need for transparency in the purity of gold purchased that happened to highlight the lack of transparency in the local production process, which was used to mixing a lot of alloys vis-à-vis our 22k or 18k pure jewellery. Also that our Diamonds came with certificates on the clarity, colour and size, which was exchangeable at appreciated prices like no other company did at that time.

It was after the police and the group left, after I had served them tea/coffee and our always used Chocolate Bourbon biscuits; that several TV channel crew dropped in without warning. Out of which two channels were supposedly specialists in sting operations, that I wasn’t aware of. They harassed me, throwing abrupt, ridiculous and provocative questions, leading me on with words and sentences to suit their planned narratives, while I tried to answer nonchalantly into one camera mouth piece shoved at my face after another. I began to feel like I was a suspect who was about to be media tried and put behind bars, as a cruel witch who had slashed people’s stomach/bread and grabbed their sustenance. I tried to be as calm as possible thinking that if I was honest and forthright these Tv journalists would treat my words with respect.
But suddenly I began to feel I was being framed as the questions began to get personal, like they needed to throw my flesh to the waiting audiences on that evening’s prime time, who would bare me and then pounce on every inch of my unsuspecting plight for their quota of entertainment.
But I realised this, only after a senior staff, who had been trying to signal to me for a while actually sternly blurted out to me, “Ma’am please DO NOT say anything more…these are sting operation channels and are just trying to provoke and heckle you. You are Live!”
I just froze, shut up, turning my back involuntarily, frightened and humiliated by the immensely disrespectful attitude – like I was a thief, a bank robber, a suspect who would soon be arrested!
The first thought that came to my mind as I was shutting myself out from these crocodiles trying to get more of my flesh, was the gaping and shocked face of my father…he was always so proud when I came on television! But this, in case he chanced upon it, would destroy him, before he knew what was going on…
What was I paying for…escalation in TRP of the channels our company never advertised in…a woman thief, as projected in several yesteryear Hindi Masala films – is great entertainment! 😄
PS: The first photo is current – the rest are from over the last two decades. The saris we’re wearing – I’d got sanctioned, just for the Durga Puja and Diwali that year.

The video I mentioned is here: https://www.facebook.com/614624973/posts/10158432813729974/?d=n

#novels #shortstories #workingwomen #women’sempowerment #poetry #literarylife #literaryfiction #books #authorlife

On Holi: Colours define us – and how!

A Very Happy Holi – with these thoughts…

Colours define us – and How!
What better day to think about this, than Holi, in adding to my previous posts and painting where I speak of colours making a statement.

Sometimes, the most unlikely person notices, and will know you better than those close, or whose taste’s you rely on, so as to seek their approval when deciding on something you’ve aspired for long.

I was to buy my first car in the year 1998, with my own earnings from working in an airline, based in Calcutta then. I had decided it would be a Daewoo – Matiz. This was after the gorgeous Lisa Ray became its brand ambassador. I was also wooed by the tagline “Love at first drive” in its print campaign, that highlighted the exclusive features of the Matiz in all its communications, just as by the comfort from a test drive I took of our family friend’s car. Now with this friend’s as well as my sister’s initiation, along with seconding by my parents, I booked a grey coloured Matiz.

The day I was to gain possession of the car, my sister and the family friend, my mother as well, and our family driver Shambhu – a man a few years older that I was, accompanied me to the showroom in Alipore. This is at the other extreme end of town from where we live in Salt Lake. We took a Taxi, so we could all return in the new car. While we waited in the showroom, the staff adorned my newly acquired car – after I had made the payments, with a number of free gifts like the wheel covers and the steering wheel grip etc. I decided to get the seat covers also installed, so the car would be ready to drive to work the next day.

It was at this point that Shambu walked up to me abruptly and said “Didi, don’t take this colour.” I looked at him in shock and replied “but why…its quite smart, isn’t it? Chot-di and dada also like it.”
“Its’ smart, but does not suit your personality at all.” He insisted “Please don’t take it.” I looked at him quizzically for a few brief moments: He had barely passed his 8th grade from his hometown in Digha and was quite a simpleton, yet thought it pertinent, that a car must match its owner’s personality right up to its hue.

I asked him, quite impressed actually, as I was then in the service quality department and very observant of such intricacies myself – “So which colour do you think will suit my personality?” He pointed to the car you see in the picture here and said “this one is very good for you.”
I looked at the car for a few seconds and promptly made up my mind on it. Then I approached my sister and friend seated on the sofa, both of whom vehemently opposed my choice, more so when they learnt who my newfound advisor was. Mother looked at Shambhu, nodding at him in approval as she stated “I was going to suggest you don’t take the grey, but you would not listen to me.”

Now it was just a matter of turning on my charm, to convince the salesmen of the sudden change in my choice. They politely conceded and quickly got busy in readying this blue car for us to drive home. As soon as we reached home, Shambhu driving us, I got my Lhasa Apso – Sylvie, and my father who was quite unwell then and at home, down and into the car, took them both for a test drive. The smile on my father’s face, Sylvie’s tongue hanging out with the wind blowing her snowy hair, are images still frozen in my mind. I was to have two pets thereon – one Sylvie, the other my very own blue Beetle – my Matiz.
My next car was somehow grey in colour as Bishwanath thought that would suit me better and he won. I wish I had listened to his mother who had insisted, “Why didn’t you take a Red car…it would have suited you much better than this grey!”
So anyways, the one after this was red, even though I was getting older and could tone down – in keeping with her choice and also mine, but sadly she was no longer with us to see it.
I was very displeased on going with Bishwanath’s choice in the colour of my debut book, that in its next edition and every other book I chose bright shades even if they are rather serious books – I’m the author and they represent me after all.
Then the current car I chose a matt gold, which Bishwanath again insisted he didn’t like. Just as he and my sister don’t like that I always opt for floral patterns and shades in my dressing.
But at my age – I no longer care what anyone else likes me to like – I just please my own soul. 😄
So you will see me in all the vibrant shades, though I love soft pastels as much – that uplift my mood and creativity.
I truly believe, and empathise, thus project in all my writing – that the human psyche has every conceivable hue and colour. Why then should I expect only black and white – then judge for the various shades I see. 🤓

holi #holifestival #holifestivalofcolours #holifestivalindia #holi2022 #colours #coloursofindia #coloursofnature #creativity #inspiration #authorlifestyle #authorlife

This photo, depicting the colour of the car – is from 1998/99
My painting: Love for Colour…

My Journey: International Women’s Day & Holi thoughts…

A Photo vis-a-vis a Sketch/Painting…

I’m sharing the photo below that inspired the sketch above – No it’s not a digital remake as many think. This is the bio of Sonjaye Maurya the reputed painter who sketched this – https://www.facebook.com/sonjaye.maurya/videos/352931922838876/?d=n

Also sharing below, the approximately 100 words write-up I submitted when I was requested, on being shortlisted – for the Financial Express (in the link below) mention of my book Existences on last International Women’s Day – on my journey to becoming a writer/author.
You are posed several tests and hurdles in the screening process of anything you achieve in life. Nothing is served to you on a
platter from heaven. It took me 12 years after writing this book, to find a noteworthy mention in the media even though my 2nd written book Across Borders received much coverage in the pan-Indian media.
But for couch-critics, whether the perfection in a sketch or the showcase of your book – it’s always attributed to a divine cake-walk.

Shuvashree Chowdhury.
Mine has been a challenging, but educative journey to becoming a novelist, poet and short-fiction writer. This was in transitioning from a reserved, and sheltered small-town, French colony of Chandannagar’s convent boarding-school upbringing, with my family and all vacations in Calcutta, participating in all school competitions whether sports or the arts; to a Delhi University’s bachelor of commerce degree course, in spite of a flair for words over numbers, in the north-campus as a hostler playing basketball for inter-college; to several job assignments serially in two decades at some of the top Indian corporates in Chennai and Kolkata – to being married to a senior print media journalist and author – before authoring five books myself so far.
All these experiences I consciously carry along, and they ring out aloud to give my writing voice a strength, even while retaining and upholding the true essence of being a woman. Thus giving me a repertoire of narratives for all the views I put forth astutely in all genres of my writing.

This was the coverage I qualified for inspite of a shortlisting, that the above write up was sent: https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/womens-day-celebrating-women-authors-and-their-work/2454466/

Happy Holi!

The Indian festival of Colours – Holi:
We’re just a couple of days away now. I just made this painting to go with the thoughts in my poem below – that’s from my first collection, Fragments.
Hoping to have a new edition of this this with my paintings as illustrations.
Also sharing the prologue of this book – my Vision Statement – to explain the purpose of my life’s work.
With my two decades of varied corporate experiences – especially in training youth – one would expect I’d not only have a vision-mission-values statement, but also display it at the lounge of my workspace.🤓

#internationalwomen’sday #holi #women’s day #international women’s day #indian festivals #festival of colour #holicolours #women’sempowerment #inspiration #visionstatement #missionstatement #visionmisiionstatement #relatioship #relationshipcoach

“That’s how the Light gets in…”: short story.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

I had wished my ex colleague and friend Sandip, on his birthday via two of our old working photos and a small writeup, on a Facebook post tagged to his timeline.

“A very happy birthday Sandip!
Congratulations and all the best on your new assignment in Dubai.
Vividly and fondly remember all the early experiences, till you became a hot shot apt manager of so many airports serially…though I never ceased to be exasperated with your constant pranks and to curse you royally for a long time…
And Peter Hooper, beside you…well only he could beat you to crazy pranks!
One I can never forget, is your lighting a matchstick to burn my hair when it caught in the car’s fan…early morning on the way to work at 5am. Also, telling new APM Lobo I take everyone who visits Calcutta on city tours 🙄😈…till Shane intervened and saved me!
By the way, bumped into Shuddho a few weeks back…he actually pulled his cap down to dodge me…but I got him…reminded me of the QC days when most dodged me this way!😄”

While I wrote this after Facebook’s birthday reminder, along with the photo suggestions (shared below); several experiences came to mind and as a writer I obviously thrive on them. But this time the thoughts drifted into the writing of my book ‘Existences’ which is actually my first and favourite – in which I lined up so many of such work life experiences.
When I was looking out for a publisher, after the one reputed one who I quit my job and wrote it on their beckoning backed out at the last minute, citing the excuse of – it did not fit their lists, I approached all the reputed publishers in India. Thankfully most replied, unlike the silence, that debut writers’ manuscripts are usually met with – which encouraged me to keep waiting for my train to authorhood to arrive; as with the discussions I had with so many editors I’d gained confidence on my own work rather than the contrary and give up.
One of the many comments I received from the very young editor of one of the top publishing houses was: “I read your collection of stories over my vacation. I really loved some of them. However, on the whole the collection to me felt uneven as all the stories are not equally strong…”
I found this usage of “not equally strong”…the most weak of all the comments I’d ever received with rejection notes. I did some research on the editor and realised he was barely about 23-25years, was a year or so old in the company, and this was obviously his first formal assignment after an English literature degree. He was like several youth I’d trained in a series of companies, and had little exposure to the working world to understand the dynamics – so how was he going to begin to understand the gravitas of my stories? I could not ask him to send my manuscript to a senior editor, as I had sent it to the senior most – who as per their protocol had courteously replied and sent it to the junior most one to screen.
So anyways, I understood the dynamics of the publishing industry well enough by now, to know I was on my own on this writing venture and as they insisted short story collections don’t sell – as apparently it doesn’t have one USP (unique selling proposition) like a novel.
This also made me realise that I would essentially have to ‘dumb-down’ my stories to make it commercially viable. Yet I didn’t want to change any of my stories as they were more than profound – even if a tad bold. So I wrote another lot of very short 11 stories to use as fillers between each of my original 15 stories to convey my ideas of the attitudes I’d inculcated and coached – at my 8/9 jobs with top corporates that I finally ended with – as a senior executive search consultant (head hunter).
To sum up the learnings from my decade of interactions with the formal publishing industry, let me now explain my previous post for the understanding of those who thought I shared the previous experiences to highlight my colleague’s lack of intelligence or misogyny or even show him down.
It was not that at all and as with all stories I narrate, even casually, I had a meaningful purpose. As even jokes and ragging are meant to teach you valuable life and work lessons. You just have to have the exposure, depth and maturity that comes from experiences – to understand such teachings. As a corporate coach I would tell a story only to depict a positive outcome. Even the negative experiences I depict for a positive outcome.
By lighting a matchstick to my hair in my previous post, after it caught in the moving car’s fan, even though he was not going to set fire on me, Sandip had demonstrated that at this job I could not let my femininity and callousness come in the way of discipline, to get to the job on time if I wanted to do well. Also driving home the point that I could have died from the fan and my hair strangling me, so I had to keep it well tied up. That there was no place for such laxity let alone any difference between a man or a woman with long hair. So though I called it a prank, it was an invaluable lesson he taught me – no callousness allowed in this airport job. I had to be serious about what I was doing.
Then when he suggested to the new airport manager that I take everyone who came to Calcutta around to see the city, I was in charge of 24hours reservations and ticketing, and also the VIP/CIP handling cell at the Calcutta airport, which had a separate 5 member team. Who else was supposed to know the city better than me! Just that I had to break out of the – I’m a coy and reserved woman who cannot do this or that… if I wanted to go far in my career.
Then, I was the only woman who went with Sandip to the morgue and then the crematorium when our dear colleague Anita Bhatia in uniform in the picture with us died in a car crash on her way to work one morning. When suggested by the GM, Sandip did not cringe from taking me along with him, just as if I were another man.
Now with all these experiences of equality I have encountered at work places, with obviously a few errant characters who are drenched in misogyny, am I expected to write books on the defamation of women! In fact all the interactions I’ve had with several editors of reputed publishing houses also taught me valuable lessons for my writing – I have learned to drive home my point with more clarity for all kinds of readers.
Feminism, in the absence of its indeterminant borderless actuality – is the supreme attempt to understand the divide – even if it’s through the mesh of prejudices.
If you attempt to look through the mesh of differences, feminism can exist.

PS: sharing my personal journey to becoming a writer here again…for those who might consider a writing career without weighting the situation – https://shuvashreechowdhury.com/2013/01/19/the-making-of-a-book-part-1/

Sandip Chowdhury, sitting lowest…

#lifecoach #feminism #shortstories #workingwoman #emotionalresilience #airports #airlinestaff #womensempowerment #moralstrength #positivity #inspirationalstories #authorlife

“So What?” – A Short Story

Wishing you all a very Happy Republic Day(26th Jan), with a Short Story – that’s representative of my personal tableau as a writer and poet – to uphold the views of women’s empowerment vis-à-vis the position of women in our country till today. If as a writer I do not speak up – what’s the point of what I’m doing!

“So What?” – A Short Story.

“Offence is the best form of defense” I wrote, and he replied, “Goodbye 👍”

Then I blocked his profile on Facebook, one I had barely known – that too only online, for just three weeks and yet had become so appalled with.

It started out benignly as most acquaintances tend to…with a wave emoji in my messenger inbox “👋” followed in the next message with more emojis and – “Hello Shuva. How’re you? 🌹😊”

I clicked on his profile and found it to be of a senior gentleman in army fatigues – common to many of the photographs that were displayed on his timeline. Most were in small or big groups, other than the profile photo which was such a close up of his side face that I could not identify him to be the same as the ones in the other photos. I’m not very familiar with the uniforms or batches, though I would definitely recognise those of any of the armed forces. So, I looked at this profile closer up and found it belonging to a retired Lt. General.

Now what could possibly be erroneous with having such a respected person in your social network? Even if I did wonder how he had found my profile and why would he want to be friends with me – I did confirm his friendship request.  

“I’m very well, thank you 💐” I replied and courteously added, “Hope you’re well too!”

“Yes Shuva. Am fine. Wonderful hearing from you 🌹😊” he wrote and then added in the next message “Please take care and keep in touch 😊”

In the course of the next weeks, he posted one longish poem after another as comments on several of my photo posts. I politely liked them, as I do all comments to acknowledge reading them. Then on second thought, on one of his comment-poems, even though I personally did not find any great poetic merit, or be impressed by its intellectualism, I went back and changed the like emoji to the love one, more to acknowledge the effort in writing such comments.   

Then after a few days, in my Facebook messenger inbox this gentleman shared a link – which when I clicked led me to a poem of his he had posted on his timeline. I read it dispassionately. I tend to read much poetry by the international masters, so I’m not easy to please with poetry, leave alone impress. That too, when a poet, whatever his social or political standing might be, does not consider the mastery of the language of the medium of his art – in this case English, important to the elevated art form of poetry as much as the inherent concepts or ideas that his hobby may carry. The perfected brushstrokes of language and imagery in poetry impress me, just as much as rhythm and flow. But in all courtesy, I acknowledged his poem by liking it. After all he was a veteran soldier.

A few days later, I received another link in my inbox, which led me to another of his poems just posted on his timeline. To my utter surprise, followed by distaste, not because he had written this rather sensuous, bordering on erotic poem, and posted it on social media – but because he had slid its link to me in my inbox – thus insinuating closeness and encroaching on my personal space. A woman who doesn’t like you, does not like your encroachment into her private space, whether it be her physical space, her room, or her mental space that you’re trying to barge into. It shocks me that men find this so difficult to understand or is it their egos that prevent them from pre-empting rejection that then makes them force themselves on you.

This second time, I did not like or acknowledge his poem. Though he would know that I had read his message link in my inbox. I abhor the idea of keeping my Email, WhatsApp or Messenger ‘Read’ option off as some people, even some friends are in the habit of doing for all messages. They might think it protects their privacy, but it is disrespectful in my view. If any message you send me remains – not ‘Read’ – in every probability it has not been read yet. As Facebook messenger is a very public forum for me to make time to read all the messages people chuck your way – especially those who do not acknowledge you on your timeline, and on your posts.

After a week, this man who is used to having every command and every whim of his catered to lifelong, in this case the acknowledgement of his erotic poem by a woman whose unsuspecting personal space he has shoved it into – akin to putting his arm around her with a caress, is obviously feeling spurned by her coldness and lack of response. How dare she not accept his overtures, that too in abject poetic form!

So, he waits to put her in her place of denigration. And now she isn’t his subordinate, nor his junior officer’s wife – so how can he bring her to her knees? However, the opportunity presents itself to him, when I change my profile photo and post it on my timeline along with two quotes of master writers and end it with a few words of my own.  

“There is a life and there is a death, and there are beauty and melancholy between” — Albert Camus: I posted as a Story, with my profile photo, with migratory birds in Banaras.   

“So what?? He replies to this in my messenger inbox, tagging the photo and the above quote.

“The rest is on my timeline…” I crisply write back, referring to the rest.

“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.”

— Langston Hughes.

“Boats don’t sink because of the water around them; they sink because of the water that gets in them. So don’t let what’s happening around you get inside of you and weigh you down.” I had added in summing up my post.

He took a few minutes to revert with these comments; “More of self-imaging and showing off than any tangible substance! 😳😂”

“Utter trivia 🙄”

I had just about read his comments, when the revulsion of his sending me his erotic poems earlier gushing out of my verbal gun, I shot back, “And you really think your poems have all the substance in the world…” then add, “you asked for this! 🙄”

“Hahaha. You’re mildly amusing 😳😂😅” he writes back.

But I’m far from amused at this misogyny and chauvinism, that I obviously recognise from two decades in the corporate world with several companies, in a fiercely patriarchal Indian society. So, I now bring out my verbal machine gun to tackle this giant. After all fighting my own battles, defines feminism, for me.

“You take yourself and your poems too seriously. People are liking them only for your army clout or don’t you get that!”

Then before he has a chance to recover from the unsuspecting blow, I shoot again at closer range with a fire wrapped bullet this time, “Why don’t you copy/paste this and put it under your latest poem…see the hypocrisy!”

“Ooooooh. You’re hilarious 😂😂” is his spontaneous reply.

I’ve always imagined, possibly from films watched as a child, giants lunging and laughing when darts are thrown at them by a midget. His online laughter now, reminded me of it. This superficial mirth was actually his camouflaged attempt to absorb his shock, brace the situation, then mentally brace himself, to diffuse his opponent’s potency. Afterall, he doesn’t know this form of a bullet he’s encountering, nor ever imagined that the unintelligent woman he has perceived, can also fire with such powerful caustic venom – so different from those ones he’s encountered lifelong.

But my bullet of insult is now gut deep inside him. I can gauge its wreckage. And in spite of his attempt to cough it out with laughter, it only gets further gorged into his loins – enflaming his punctured male ego. Also, fear must creep in – what if this woman actually goes and pastes this conversation on his timeline, below any one of his erotic poems. His inspirations and his imaginations – would no longer be left to anyone’s imagination. And I had a good mind to do just this – paste this exchange as a comment below his poem, as not only had he encroached my personal space, he had made the bigger gaffe of attacking my pride of work – the writing that I made my life, over the past decade. How else was I going to uphold the confidence in myself – to march ahead as a writer with my head held high?

“Definitely brings out your pedestrian standards. Personal too 😀😂” he wrote , in punching back hard, after picking himself up from the mental wrestling ring he was viewing me in.

“Offence is the best form of defence” I countered his attack, with all my inflamed senses on high alert.

My mother passing away abruptly just nine months back, and what had led to my comments and quotes on life and death – had handed me the baton of all her moral strength to add to mine. She is surely with me in spirit.

“Goodbye 👍” he wrote, in concluding abruptly.

In walking out of the boxing ring in sportsmanlike fashion, he conceded he had struck the first, also subsequent blows.  I really hope he had received the answer to his question –  “So what – You’re only a woman!”

I left the court promptly, after receiving the messages:

You’ve blocked messages and calls from …’s Facebook account.

You can’t message or call them in this chat, and won’t receive their messages or calls.

——–

Sharing the song “So What” – to go with the title of this Story: https://youtu.be/FJfFZqTlWrQ

#feminism #womensempowerment #selfempowerment #internationalwomensday #strengthofawoman #Indianrepublicday #womenpower #shortstory #poetry #poetslife #empoweredwoman #sowhat #fightback

Netaji: “Freedom is not given, it is taken”

“Life loses half its interest if there is no struggle-if there are no risks to be taken.”
— Netaji
The painting…My humble tribute to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose – devout patriot, brave son of mother India who relentlessly fought for our country’s independence – on his 125th birth anniversary.
I chose to get to work and make my own image of Netaji, rather than spend my energy praising or criticising – the WB or Central government’s initiative on the tabloid on him which was rejected or the proposed granite statue of him in Delhi.
Before the painting all day – As we tend to celebrate everything with food, I had a very typical Bengali breakfast menu and personally made peas kochuri, with sautéed alu and spring onion, and carrot kheer.

Exercising my personal Independence — I had announced in the morning that I would be making Gajar Halwa, but in keeping with exercising my creative instincts and also deciding on making a Bengali dish instead, I made special carrot kheer.
BG (husband) who is more non Bengali in his tastes, was extremely annoyed as he was expecting halwa when I excitedly showed him the kheer and then he even threatened to order halwa on the Swiggy App. I was obviously upset, as so much effort had gone into the kheer, but asked him to go ahead and get halwa if he wished.

But I don’t give up easily…so I sent our cook to BG with the kheer along with tea and it was returned untouched. I sent it across again with another cup of tea. Again untouched. Then I served the kheer, with breakfast. When he finally consented to taste it and then asked for a second helping. So, independence and persistence if you’re confident on your work, pays off! 🤓Now please read Netaji’s words on my painting over again, along with his quote I started with.

#netajisubhaschandrabose #netaji_lovers #painting #cooking #bengali #kolkata #kolkatadiaries #selfconfidence #inspirationalquotes #selfempowerment #motivationalquotes #lifecoach #freedom #independence #self-assurance #emancipation

The breakfast I describe above…