Hopes Amidst the Ocean of Misogyny

It has been exactly 54 days since one of the Malayalam actresses was kidnapped and harassed by her driver and the gang. It did create an uproar both in social media and in daily lives. The culprit was arrested and the Police were in search of his mobile phone for video clip and call details.The police have been searching in the dark for quite a few weeks for the mobile phone and now, the case has reached nowhere. I am hoping that the culprits are punished and this case will not end up like the Soumya murder case and the Jisha murder case.

During the week when the incident had happened, there were a lot of discussions and debate happening online and offline. I remember during the Nirbhaya gang rape, victim shaming soared high and it was heartbreaking to see people known to me made jokes out of the incident, made misogynistic comments without any shame and blamed the girl for her misery.

But, things were different this time.

Yes, of course, there were people who wrote articles and opinions for their sadistic pleasure, but they were a minority this time. Ordinary people reacted in amazing ways that, finally, people understood what misogyny is. Earlier, the most difficult task for me was to make people understand what misogyny is.They never understood it.They blamed me that it was my problem because I see things through a feminist’s eyes.

I am not being blind-eyed to various other heinous incidents happening around us, especially the child molestation cases which are roaring high in Kerala.But, there is hope in front of me because

  1. The actress showed the courage to file a complaint.
  2. People were ready to accept that there have been misogyny in our daily conversations, the jokes we share, the movies we make and the way we were brought up.
  3. People are lashing out when they witness sexism around them.
  4. More cases are being filed recently and people are raising their voices against abuse.

Let’s talk further about sexism. Is raising our voice the solution? Will it beat sexism?Will it curb abuse? Will it help us in creating a generation which has a positive outlook on gender equality?

It starts young. It starts at home and school. It starts from that

  1. Pre-school teacher who shouts,”Why can’t you give the toy to him?You are a girl.Don’t be so adamant”.(It gives a feeling to the girl that she doesn’t have the right to fight/argue.)

  2. Custom of making a boy as captain/class leader and a girl as vice captain/assistant class leader irrespective of the leadership skills.(It gives a feeling to the boy that because of his gender, he can always enjoy certain positions even if he doesn’t possess the required skills.)

  3. Grandparents/parents who tell that it’s good if the boy learns the driving and the girl learns cooking.(It gives a feeling to the kids that there are certain skills associated with the gender.)

  4. Parents who tell their daughter that there is nothing wrong in giving up a fight/quarrel/game with her brother.(It gives a feeling to the boy that he is superior to girls and expects them to accept the defeat every time.)

  5. Society which teaches that moral shaming is the easiest way to silence a girl.

  6. Parents who lament that they don’t have a son to protect their daughters.(It gives a feeling to the boy that he is a protector or somebody who has more decisive power in the family.)

  7. Teachers/parents who silence the girls when an abuse happens at school.(It gives a feeling to the boys that they can always escape after doing a mistake because girls will not complain.It is a big encouragement for the boys to repeat the abuse.)

  8. Schools which run counseling sessions for girls and not for boys.(It gives a feeling to the girls that the harm is always on the girls irrespective of who did the mistake.It gives a feeling to the boys that they can do anything and it is the responsibility of the girls to take care of themselves.)

  9. Society which conveniently defends saying boys will be boys. (It gives a feeling to the boys that their gender gives them certain privileges to do certain mistakes.)

  10. Society which preaches that boys are the strongest of the genders.(Boys grow up with more confidence than the girls.)

This is not an exhaustive list and if we look deep, we will be able to find strong misogyny in the silliest matters we have been doing and talking in our lives.Now that people have been welcoming gender equality,let’s continue spreading the message of equality,let’s continue raising our voice against sexism and let’s continue the mission of creating a better society to live in.

We, the current generation parents, can bring a massive change in our society if we raise our kids right.I am hopeful about a brighter, happier and healthier generation which will appreciate and practice gender equality.I hope to see a day when feminism is not a bad word anymore.


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15 Malayalam Movies which I want the World to Watch ( Tearjerker)

Actually, I had stopped my series on Malayalam movies. But, one of my readers requested me for a list of Malayalam movies which are tearjerkers. So, here it is. Grab your tissues and get ready to weep.

**Spoilers all over**

15) Chithram (1988)

Chithram is a perfect movie which has all the commercial elements and it still stays a classic movie. The movie had record collections in the box office and ran for more than year in the theaters. The movie stars Mohanlal and Ranjini in the lead roles. Kalyani (Ranjini) decides to marry her boyfriend against her Father’s wishes. Her Father who stays abroad disowns her by hearing the decision. Kalyani gets ditched by her boyfriend on the day of their Register Marriage. She stays with her Father’s best friend, Kaimal (Nedumudi Venu), who is her local guardian. He gets a call from her Father saying that he has forgiven his daughter’s act and he is coming to India. To cover up the boyfriend story, Kaimal hires Vishnu (Mohanlal) to act has Kalyani’s Husband until her Father goes back. Three of them act well in front of her Father and Kalyani eventually falls in love with Vishnu. It is then a mysterious relative (Soman) comes to meet Vishnu. Three-fourth of the movie will take you on a laughter ride and the ending parts will make neutralize for it and make you cry.

14) Kaalapani (1996)

When you watch this movie as a kid, this is a patriotic movie but, as you grow-up this movie is more of an incomplete love story. The movie is about the sufferings of Indian prisoners who were brought to the cellular jail of Port Blair, Kala Pani.

The movie starts with Sethu (Vineeth) who is Parvati’s (Tabu) nephew going to Port Blair in search of his uncle. Govardhan (Mohanlal) who is a doctor gets arrested on the day of his wedding with Tabu. After reaching the jail, he witnesses the extreme behavior of the British people and suffers. Govardhan’s friendship with one of the British doctors,Len Hutton, helps in getting an order for the release of 14 people including him. Len goes to Mohanlal’s house and informs Parvati the good news. But, the sadistic jailers had plans to kill all 14 of them. Mukundan (Prabhu) was Mohanlal’s soulmate at the jail and he gets killed as part of the jailer’s plan. Govardhan kills the jailers in the fury and the order for his release is stopped. On the other side, Parvati will wait at the railway station for welcoming Govardhan and she ends up waiting there for decades. The movie ends with Sethu coming back from Port Blair and standing in front of Parvati without any answers.

12) Pavithram (1994)

What will you do if your parents expect a baby during their old age?

Unni (Mohanlal) is the second son of Easwara Pillai (Thilakan) and Devaki (Srividya). He is love and unofficially engaged to Meera (Shobhana). The family goes into a celebration mode when Devaki becomes pregnant in her old age. But, she dies during delivering a baby girl. After a heated argument, Easwara Pillai leaves the house and Unni decides to take care of the child. His decision strains his relationship with Meera and they breakup. Unni acts as both the Father and the Brother to the baby Meenakshi (Vindhuja Menon) and she starts calling him “Chettacha”.

The movie is about how he brings her up and his intense emotional attachments towards her. When she goes to a hostel in the city, Unni who is an aged villager becomes an embarrassment for her. Unni couldn’t digest the changes the city-life had brought on her. The movie ends with Unni losing his mind and unable to recognize her when she comes back home to apologize.

11) Ennenum Kannettante (1986)

It is a teenage love story between Kannan (Sangeeth) and his cousin Radhika(Sonia). They both must have come to their ancestral house for the summer vacation. After an ego clash, they realize their love for each other. When Kannan plans to reveal his love, the plan backfires badly on them. When it was time for her to go back to U.S, she waits for him before getting inside the train. He reaches the station only after the train had started and tries to get inside the train and fails. He goes unnoticed the token of love which she had left at the station and their love stays unsaid.

10) Santhanagopalam ( 1994)

The typical lower middle-class family where the sons are struggling to get a job. Kurup (Thilakan), the Father, works in a factory and he goes missing in an accident while traveling with the second son, Jagadish and the latter survives. After months of waiting, Kurup is declared dead. The sons are overjoyed as there is an insurance in the Father’s name. When the paperwork for claiming the insurance was about to finish, Kurup comes back home. Nobody except his wife is happy upon his arrival. When the insurance people come for verification, the sons will lock up the parents. The movie shows the extent to which the sons cold-heartedly torture the parents for the money.

9) Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thaadikal (1988)

I was so scared to leave my brother alone after watching this movie.

One day a beggar comes to a house and asks for water. The elder sister leaves the younger sister at the door and goes to fetch the water. When she comes back both the beggar and her sister must have disappeared. The movie then takes you through the life of the younger sister who had become a beggar and how she comes back to her home. The song “Kannaamthumpi Porammo” is an evergreen hit. Also, Revathi made one of her best performances as the beggar girl, Kakkothi.

8) Vatsalyam (1993)

A family movie which portrays the love and affection the middle-class families have for each other. Raghavan Nair (Mammootty) is the one who runs the family and his biggest dream is to see his younger brother Vijayakumaran Nair (Siddique) as an advocate. The latter was also set to marry his uncle’s daughter. But, things don’t go according to what Raghavan had planned. Vijayakumaran marries his mentor’s daughter who is from a wealthy family. The new member of the family is disgusted by the lifestyle of the lower middle class and she humiliates everyone. The misfit goes to such an extent that Raghavan and his family ends up leaving the house. The movie was a superhit which won accolades for Mammootty. This was the first directorial venture of the talented actor Cochin Haneefa.

8) Moonnam Pakkam (1988)

It is a belief that whatever goes into the sea will come back to the shore on the third day. This belief is called Moonnam Pakkam.

Thilakan lives a lonely life and it is his grandson, Jayaram, who lights up his life. Jayaram often visits Thilakan with his friends and during one such visits, Jayaram drowns in the sea and his friends survive. On the third day, his body come ashore and the family breaks down. Unable to handle the pain of loss, after the funeral, Thilakan shocks the family by going far into the sea and committing suicide.

7) Deshadanam (1996)

Mothers in Kerala cried as much as they could after watching this movie.The movie revolves around a Namboothiri family.The movie deals with the personal pains of the family when they had to send the family’s only child to a monastery.The songs are soulful and capture the depth of the heartache of the parents.My favorite scene is when the boy comes home after the ceremonies in the monastery. According to the rules,after the ceremony the kid is a spiritual person without any family ties but the boy is too young to understand the concept.He runs to his Mother calling “Amma” and she kneels down to show her respect to the boy.This broke my heart and I couldn’t resist my tears.

6) Thanmathra (2005)

Let me be truthful; I haven’t watched this movie yet, for the fear of depression. Mohanlal is a happy family man who works in a Government office. One day, he misplaces an office file in the fridge. Another time, he takes off his shirt in the office to take shower thinking he is the office. He gets diagnosed with Familial Alzheimer’s disease, a disease which causes a gradual loss of memory and cognitive abilities. The family supports him during this plight and the movie is a real tearjerker. Mohanlal’s performance was widely appreciated and the talk of the town was that nobody couldn’t hold back their tears during the movie.

5) Perumazhakkalam (2004)

Oh boy!! this movie is a melancholic poem on the backdrop of rain masquerading as the tears of the protagonists. The movie talks about the extreme emotions two wives had to undergo. Raziya (Meera Jasmine) who is a Muslim girl is married to Akbar (Dileep) who works in Gulf. During a fight, he accidently kills his friend Raghu Rama Iyer (Vineeth). Raghu comes from a Palakkad-Brahmin family and his wife is Ganga (Kavya Madhavan). To save Akbar from the death penalty, Raziya needs a letter signed from Ganga saying she has pardoned Akbar. The movie is about the emotions they both undergo and the bold decisions taken by them. Rain plays an important role in the movie as it thickens the heartache. On one side, there is a woman begging for her Husband’s life and on the other side, there is a woman who has lost her Husband and struggling to forgive the murderer. A must watch and a personal favorite.

4) Kaazhcha (2004)

I remember walking out of the theater with a lump in my throat after watching this movie. The director Blessy has a special talent in making people cry. Mammootty who is a passionate movie fan runs movies on his projector during village festivals. One day, he finds a boy who was displaced from his family during the earthquake in Gujarat. Mammootty takes the boy home and he becomes the part of the family. When life was going happy, legalities come to play and Mammootty had to take the kid back to Gujarat. The law forces him to leave the kid in the refugee camp as he can take the kid only after a confirmation that the kid’s family is no more. In the last scene, Mammootty tries his best to request the refugee camp in charge to inform him if such a confirmation comes. And, you can guess the rest.

3) Amaram ( 1991)

Who loves you unconditionally? Sea! That’s Achutty’s late realization.

Achutty (Mammootty) is a fisherman who has only a daughter. She studies well and becomes the first person on the shore to pass Class 10. But, she is in love with his childhood sweetheart who is unschooled. It was Achutty’s dream to make his daughter a doctor and he opposes the relationship to continue. But, the two elopes and gets married. The son-in-law (Ashokan) eventually impresses Achutty but his ego will make him challenge the boy often. After one of the quarrel sessions, the son-in-law goes to the sea to catch the shark and doesn’t come back. The blames lands on Achutty as he had also gone to sea that day. He tries to convince his daughter that he hasn’t killed the son-in-law. He risks his life and goes to the sea during the storm and finds the son-in-law unconscious. Though he proves his innocence, he loses trust and hope in others.
The song “Pulare Poonthoniyil” is a visual treat from the director Bharathan.

2) Daivathinte Vikrithikal (1992)

Haven’t you seen certain people who are too attached to their native place? This movie is made from M.Mukundan’s novel of the same name.

As an 8-year-old, this movie had bothered me so much that I couldn’t handle the tension of the protagonist. I cried and took the help of my Father to get over the depression. The movie happens in the independent Mahe. Alphonso (Raghuvaran) is a magician who refuses to migrate to France during the French decolonization of Mahe. The movie is about the agony he and his family had to undergo when miseries come as a flock. There is a scene where Alphonso had to sell his favorite piano and he looks at it in pain for the one last time. I still remember Raghvaran trying to show the magic to the “new” generation kids and failing to get the response he used to get earlier. Yes, we all hate change especially a change from our roots. This movie will make you understand what the elders undergo when they refuse to move in with you to greener pastures.

1) Akashadoothu (1993)

I will give you a million dollar in rupees if you can watch this movie without shedding tears.Take up the challenge,watch the movie and soil your tissues.

Happy Crying!!!

You can check out these too :

15 Malayalam Movies which I want the World to Watch (Drama)

15 Malayalam Movies which I want the World to Watch (Romance)

15 Malayalam Movies which I want the World to Watch (Suspense Thrillers)

And the Award goes to …

… the pride of Kerala, the Super Star …

It was in my Class 3 that I first won a prize for a competition. It was first prize for Malayalam elocution as part of the school’s annual cultural festival. The speech was about how reading habits will help us grow as a better individual. My Father had taken his train commute time to write the contents for me. If my memory is correct, it was my Grand Parents who listened to my rehearsal sessions and commented on my performance. Those days, society wasn’t obsessed with the performance of their kids. So, it was not a big deal at home about me performing in the competition.

Winning the competition did make an impact in my life. Today, if I am a passionate public speaker, this brass trophy was the starting point. I am thankful to the judges who made me the winner of the competition. So, if a small prize could make a shimmering spark in my childhood and gave me the confidence to grow as a mature speaker, I believe that prizes/awards are important for budding talents.

The Malayalam film awards have been disappointing me for quite a few years. The recent award function by a TV channel was never different from the past years. Malayalam industry can always boast about the immense talent pool which it possesses; also, the new talents too. But, the new talents are rarely recognized expect in the viral Facebook posts. The award functions make sure that the big giants of the industry get an award irrespective of their performance in the previous year. Yes, of course, I admit their past glory but how lame it is to award someone who had only duds last year. I am wondering how the stars feel in front of others when they are called upon for awards by belittling the upcoming talents and going blind on other brilliant performances. This is like giving away Best Cricketer Award every year to Sachin Tendulkar as he was the greatest batsman of the millennium.

How come Perariyathavar was ignored when Suraj Venjaramoodu won a National Award for his performance in the movie? There could have been a mention of the different treatment and style shown by the Aadu team. Aadu bombed at the box office and went on to become a torrent hit. Not recognizing the talents of Anend C Chandran, the 24-year old cinematographer of Premam movie is a sin. His brilliant frames have a huge part in the envious success of the movie. Premam enthusiasts can go back and check the bokeh effects Anend had done for the scenes of George and Malar; they are heart-shaped bokeh. The comedy timing and performance of Biju Menon in various movies are making those movies huge hits. Already, Malayalam cinema has the burden of the guilt of not honoring Jagathy Sreekumar when he ruled the lighter moments of Malayalam cinema. Oraalpokkam and Ain were not even mentioned. It was a shock that they ignored Pathemari for any awards despite brilliant performances by almost everyone in the movie.

If we continue watering the grown up trees ignoring the tender ones, awards might lose the purpose. Last year’s Malayalam Movie State Awards was an embarrassing slap on the audience’s faces. When rest of the World looks upon Malayalam movie industry for its talent, creativity and making, it is high time we should rethink about our awards.

I have indeed become Old

Few weeks back while driving in Calicut,something pricked me when I passed the Sarovaram Bio Park.It is situated at the Mini Bypass Road — on the way to Arayadathu Palam from Eranjipalam Junction.Two decades back,the plot where the bio park stays now was an exhibition ground.Weekend plans were either to roam in the S.M.Street or to go for an exhibition.The latter occurred only once or twice in a year — during the Christmas week and during summer vacation.So the demand was higher.A lot of vendors,circus groups and performers camped for a week or ten days.There will be everything from safety pins to furniture. Some families came with big-shoppers and filled their bags full.In school,we pinched each other and howled “same pinch” upon seeing same colored fancy pens/pencils in the hands of classmates.School boys calculatedly spent 12-hours at the exhibition to meet their crush(es).School girls went with their parents in the hope that they might see their guy.Love birds used the opportunity well.Parents shopped as much as they could.

In Calicut,the first mall came into existence in 2007.Focus Mall.People rushed into it as if the world will end the next day.Some people even told that Focus Mall was a realistic version of Orkut. We met our long-lost classmates,forgotten teachers,purposely avoided relatives and nosy family friends.Some people went to Focus Mall daily.Some others traveled from other end of the city to visit the mall.Shopping from Focus Mall became a matter of pride.A lot of people shopped only from the mall despite the frustrating crowd and the unnecessary waiting in the queues.People of nearby districts and places made one-day trip to Calicut to visit the mall.Taking guests to the mall was a proud moment.We boasted to every Manu,Binu and Vinu that the biggest mall in Kerala is in Calicut.But,the initial rage disappeared like whiffs of smoke in the air.People were bored with seeing people whom they know every time they go to the mall.People became bored with the crowd.And the rage slowly died.When newer malls came,people stopped going to Focus Mall.Last time when I visited the Focus Mall,there were hardly any crowd despite being a Saturday evening.

I truly wish those exhibitions and fairs at the temples were back.I miss the fun in riding on the giant wheel,I miss eating cotton candy and I miss those waiting-days.Or are these the symptoms of growing old?No matter what,those days were indeed golden.


A Metal Trunk

People say that our love for Mother is/should be unconditional.But,I do have certain reasons to love my Mother more.The beauty of Kerala is only in my heart and somehow I like to love the place by sitting at somewhere else,which means I come to Kerala very rarely.When I am on vacation,the days are spent like a queen by sleeping whole day and watching movies at night.I somehow get attached to my bed that ,at times ,I don’t even leave my bed room.So during one of such lazy vacations,I decided to help my Mother in cleaning the house.We changed the drapes,cleaned the terrace and planted some new vegetable seeds.

Do you want to see something special?”,my Mother asked me.I thought this is her yet another way of making me work.Twenty minutes back she had asked me whether I want to see some earthworms and made me dig the soil for a 100 meter stretch.Then five minutes back she had asked me whether I want to see her wedding saree and made me help her in folding her sarees.

No,Amma“,I replied.

One last thing for the day,then you can rest and I will make pazhampori for you“.I hate such situations.She knows that I will do anything to have pazhampori.”One last time,OK?“,I said.

I brought the ladder and climbed up to the attic.There was a big and dusty metal trunk.I glared at her for making me touch this dusty thing.We slowly placed it on the floor and I sneezed hard.She opened the trunk and I again sneezed.After sneezing for the third time,when I opened my eyes I saw a trunk full of memories.I saw a trunk full of things which took me back to my childhood.

The metal trunk had my old answer sheets,the diary in which I had written alphabets for the first time,my school ribbons which I had tied on my braids,the jewelry which I had made,my dance costumes,some of my favorite jewelleries,my friendship bands,my birthday gifts and cards,some stupid love letters which I had received,letters from my friends,my notebooks,my first diary,my slam book and many more.


That’s when I decided,one of the best gifts I can ever give to my kids is a trunk full of memories.When I was a kid or a teen,I never thought that one day I will see my notebooks and become emotional.Some birthday cards from my friends drowned my in a flood of memories.Suddenly I felt those things so close to my heart.

A note to the parents of my generation,don’t throw away things related to your kids because after few decades,those things will be more precious than Gold.


Worries of an Indian Girl

The recent articles and blog posts about sexism and frustrations of Indian girls made me write this post.

Couple of months back my Mother asked me whether I had met one of our family friends in Chennai and I replied no. The background story is one of my family friends saw me in the Railway station and the complaint was that I was wearing a loose sleeveless top. The lady got alarmed seeing me in a sleeveless top and complained to Mother saying I should be wearing Salwars as I am Malayali girl.Apparently,the lady is worried that I am spoiling the name of keralites and Kerala’s highly boasted culture(?).Now, this not new to me. Forget about sleeveless tops and party wears, wearing jeans can earn you the name slut.I find it very difficult to understand this concept. If a girl wears a salwar/saree, then she has a good character. From when on wards did we start making analysis of a person’s character according to the clothes they wear.Now,do men have such an issue? Imagine we girls making such an analysis about men — men wearing formal shirts and pants want to sleep around, men wearing veshti don’t think about /look at girls, men wearing lungi want to eve tease or rape and so on. When women don’t judge men according to the clothes, why does vice versa exist? Do not generalize because we don’t think that a guy is bad if he is wearing clothes which he likes.

I remember getting a message in my blog page after writing the post Shadows of a Girl. The message was from an old classmate who was a constant faultfinder of my posts. The message was an apology for the rubbish comments he had posted on some of my posts. The change in attitude happened after he took his newlywed wife to Delhi for honeymoon. The message said that he fumed in anger and helplessness when his wife got lost in a crowded street and she was groped badly. He wrote that his wife cried in shock that strange men squeezed her breasts and waist in those ten minutes she got lost in the crowd. And what was her dress?A pardah!! He apologized for his earlier views on women.But,what I want to tell the world is why should you wait for something to happen to your dear ones to change your attitude? What is so difficult to think that women are human beings too? And I know, in India, men get groped too.

Don’t do such things because a girl should not do such things”. I grew up hearing this dialog round the clock from my Grand Mother.But, thanks to my parents for letting me grow up doing things from playing cricket with neighborhood boys to rolling in mud. I thought such mentality was only in Kerala but as I moved out of home and started meeting people from other parts of the country, I understood that it is a national problem. Here are ten rules which I have heard often.

1)Girls should not talk loud

2) Girls should not play with boys after 10 years old or getting her period, whichever is earlier.

3) Girls should not go out alone

4) Girls should not stay outside the home after 6 PM (This still exists in Kerala. Thanks to the men in Kerala)

5) Girls should sacrifice

6) Girls should obey their parents, elders and whomsoever who has the right to rule/shout at her

7) Girls should give more importance to her wedding than her education.

8) Girls are the honor of a family and should save it at any cost

9) Girls should not tell their opinions because they don’t know what life is

10) Girls should give more importance to her husband and his family than to herself and her family

Most of these dialogues are followed by a story from the religious books praising women in those books who made sacrifices, who were epitome of patience, who obeyed her husband without any objections, who grew up according to her parents’ wishes, who saved the honor of the family and so on. Now stop right there. First of all, it is dumb to force girls to grow up under such rules and force them to be examples of the so-called “the good girl”. Women are humans too — what’s wrong in getting angry and shouting? Why should we sacrifice things which we like just because we are women? Why should we suppress anger and be patient just because we are women? Above all, why should we be good girls, why can’t we be just girls? Imagine a society telling the Indian men to be like the ones in the religious books?

One of my friends was narrating the story of a movie. Then she said, “after that they will have this” and giggled.”They will have what?“. We asked.”You know, that“, she again giggled.”You mean they had sex?”, somebody in the gang asked. And she said, “Don’t tell it openly. It is a bad thing”. Yes, I heard this from a married woman who has a kid.Sex is one of the words which will spoil a girl’s name. People often forget that sex is a simple thing. Even when they celebrate a girl becoming pregnant, they conveniently forget that she became pregnant after having sex with her husband. It is a ubiquitous fact. The mankind still exists because people are having sex; let’s tell it that way than the rosy way of telling that babies are born. So why should a girl be bad if she talks about sex?If you want a baby then a woman should have sex with a man. This has been happening since Adam and Eve and how is a woman talking about sex a sin? (That too in this century!!)

I am in love”. How often have you heard an Indian girl telling such a thing openly?90 % of the Indian women don’t let this out because having a past relationship will spoil her chances of getting married(even if the guy who rejects this girl would have had many relationships and is not a virgin).Yes, pure-girl concept is prevalent in Asian and Eastern countries. The usual dialog from the family, “Guys can do anything. Even if he rapes girl, he will get a girl to marry” discourages women even more from telling out their feelings.Recently, one of my friends informed me that she rejected a proposal. The reason which she gave me was that the guy’s parents are dumber and my jaw dropped. Looks like the guy wanted somebody who hasn’t been in a relationship, so she politely withdrew from the proposal but his parents wanted somebody who hasn’t had any crush or infatuation so far. She asked me how they can even think of such a thing when she is already 26 years old. How does it matter whether she or he has a past? Infatuations are mementos of our teenage life. Having a relationship will only help a person grow better. I read this somewhere “Relationships are never a waste of time. If it didn’t give you what you want in life, at least you know what you don’t want in life”.

I saw a comment in a forum which discussed about the above problems,”Twenty years ago, I was reading articles on the same lines. Twenty years from now, we will continue to do so. Some themes never grow up!”

Related Read : http://tamilculture.ca/an-open-letter-to-young-tamil-men/

In the Name of Daughters – In – Law

All was well. The wedding went well, the reception went well and the honeymoon went well too. It was on the ninth day after the wedding that the mother-in-law slipped and fell down from the stairs. The house went upside down, the incident became talk of the town and there was a war inside the house.

The mother-in-law blamed daughter-in-law for the incident.


Did you think that the newly wedded bride pushed her mother-in-law from the staircase?


Then you are wrong.

In Kerala, (I’m not sure how the custom is in other parts of the country), daughters-in-law, to be very precise the unlucky charm of daughters-in-law, are blamed if something bad happens in the house of in-laws after the wedding. In Kerala, there is a saying – “Ellam vannu kayarunna penninte neriyum aishwaryavum pole irukkum” which means everything depends on the luck and purity of the daughters-in-law.

The mishaps could be anything from the death of the pet dog to loss in business.

If we can dig in the old newspapers, we can find a lot incidents where the wedding itself was stopped because the in-laws felt that the girl was unlucky. The reasons to conclude the girl as unlucky are somebody’s leg sprained, the car met with an accident, somebody fell down while coming to the bride’s house, a black cat crossed the groom’s way(this one is not an exaggeration, I have to find/scan the news),somebody in the groom’s family fell sick etc.

canceled wedding invite

Now imagine the vice versa has happened, then the town will say that it was God’s grace that the incident happened after the wedding. If the mishap was death of girl’s father/mother, then the town will say that he/she was lucky enough to witness his/her daughter’s wedding and the soul will rest in peace(Now what the **** is this).There were incidents when the wedding wasn’t stopped even though the girl’s father/mother passed away and everybody told that she was lucky that the in-laws didn’t stop the wedding. I don’t understand how can someone get married on the same day when one of the parents had passed away? If it was the groom’s father or mother who had died, then the wedding would have cancelled right away branding her as the unluckiest girl on earth. Also, this news must have gone viral to such an extent that she will have a tough time getting married later.Why? Because, the moment a proposal of marriage comes somebody would say “Don’t you know? Her wedding was fixed once but the boy’s father died on the wedding day.” And the boy and the family who came to seek her hand would run back even without thinking twice.

If something goes wrong, why is only the daughter-in-law, at times her family, branded as unlucky?


Image courtesy : http://3.bp.blogspot.com

Related Read : Distance From BETI to BAHU

The Lost Glory

There is nothing much to think about this.” said Sudhakaran Nair, the local committee member.

Exactly”, my neighbor cum best friend Kunjali second Nair’s opinion by tightening the brown floral print lungi once more.

Ego is a big issue”, Nair continued, “and if you keep holding to it by adhering to your century old principles, then think about Vishalam and kids. Then, it is not a sin or a mistake. So many people, even your friends, do so.

The blue bucket, kept next to the front door, was filled with rainwater. Though the water was slightly muddy, it reflected Vishalam’s face. The expression on her face is very familiar. Regret filled expression; regret for marrying me. She stood there silently and she has been protesting the struggles and poverty with her silence. When her best friends are happy in their lives and have many reasons to be happy in life, Vishalam’s protest is her freedom of expression.

So where did we stop?” Nair spat to the courtyard. The murukaan* together his saliva flowed sailed on the rain water towards the jack fruit tree.

Yes, so receive this amount as an advance amount. There is Rs.5000 in the packet. Kunjali, give the packet to him”, Nair ordered. Kunjali opened his faded black ‘broker‘ bag and took out a packet covered with the national daily Malayala Manorama.

I looked at Vishalam and she went inside the house murmuring. Kunjali looked at me and reassured me by tightly closing his eyes and squeezing my wrists.

Kunjali and the local committee people dispersed as they had better works to do before the sun sets. House flies flew from one tea glass to the other licking the left over drops of tea. I went inside the house and Vishalam appeared from nowhere. My hands automatically stretched towards her and she grabbed the packet from me. Her eyes tinkled with relief and she locked the money in the wooden cupboard. Though I wanted to tell her that such things make me sad and hurt, I didn’t tell her a word.

Couple of months back when such an offer came,she forced me to accept it. The offer was from a gang of tourists. Nair came running to my house that day and danced in joy. He showed two thousand rupee notes and explained everything that had happened at the Mallika tea shop an hour ago. The gang wants to watch Kathakali live.”Put on the costume and be ready by 9PM”, Nair told me before leaving the house after stuffing those two thousand rupee notes in my shirt’s pocket.

Kunjappu rushed inside the house with a big excited and smiling face.”Aashane**, let’s do this solo performance every time we get an opportunity. I will get the makeup colors and costumes.”He hurriedly went out of the room and then returned in the same speed and said, “Everybody is doing this nowadays. There is no shame in it. Please don’t think too much. You take bath; I will be back in some time.”Thus I performed in front of a crowd which consisted of ten curious tourists and twenty-five yawning and half asleep local fellows. It became a routine to perform in front of non enthusiastic crowds. Later it become worse that people don’t want to watch the performance as it is boring and long. So, I went to become a hay-man dressed in the Kathakali costume and strangers stood next to me and clicked pictures. One day evening, while coming back from the temple, I heard people sitting at the tea shop commenting about me-“All he needs to do is to dress up and stand in front of the house, and he gets money. At least, the hard work he had put in for learning the art didn’t go waste. Easiest of all the jobs.”, and they laughed at me. My skin rotted out of embarrassment and the reality struck me like a lightening. Years of effort and learning invested in the art wasn’t to be embarrassed this way and I decided not to continue this business.Vishalam bursted like a volcano when I told her my decision but I wasn’t ready to give up on my decision.

The current offer is to perform in a movie and everybody is so excited about it. The van came around 10 next morning and a group of local crowd was inside it. Kunjappu help me to get inside the van and I sat on the stool kept aside exclusively for me. We reached the shooting spot and met the production controller. He told us to wait and we waited for so long that the group started dispersing slowly. Kunjali asked me whether I want him to stay back but I said no.

The dance master came to me and introduced himself and the assistant director informed me that the shot is ready.

You just have to stand there next to Kuthuvilikakku and do some mudras”, said the director.

Mudras?”, I asked him in confusion.

”Yes, you can do couple of mudras; we have the hero and heroine dancing and we want you to dance in the background. The arrangements are done to look like a Kathakali performance is happening while the hero and heroine romance and dance.

I said nothing and even before I moved my hands, the dance master told the director, “How about he dancing for the same steps which the couple are dancing? It will be a variety element.”

And I ended up dancing few folk steps in a Kathakali costume. After the shot, the production controller gave me a couple of five hundred rupee notes and thanked me.

It was dark and there was no way to know what time it was but I didn’t stop walking. When I turned back, I saw the production controller running towards me.

I forgot to tell you. There is a scene where the hero tries out the Kathakali costume. It is a small comedy scene. If you can rent us your costume, please let Nair know.”

I stood silently.

“Don’t worry, we will pay you a big amount.”, he said winking at me.

I turned back and walked and the remixed version of Santhana Gopalam was playing in full volume behind me.


*Pan Masala,** Teacher

Shadows of a Girl

I woke up screaming and taking off my bed sheet. I felt drops of sweat flowing till the end of my spine and they disappeared inside the fine cloth of my skirt. I peeped into my shirt and checked whether my not yet firm and still blooming breasts are in their place. I sighed. I badly wanted some water so I searched for the water jug and gulped water making my shirt go wet. I wanted my breasts to get removed from my body. There is no other female organ which makes the life of a girl terrible. Lying down on the bed did give me some comfort. The cool air which found its way through the bed room window soothed my headache. The window pane had weird designs made by the shadows of the nearby trees. It gave no surprise when I saw the switched off street lights.

 “Why can’t you wake up early and sweep the house?” mother shouted at top of her voice. I slowly pulled the bed sheet from my face and looked at her. She was standing tall with a broom. The dust from the broom made me sneeze. I looked at the timepiece and it showed 6 A.M.

 “You will suffer at your husband’s place. Lazy girl ! ” Amma shouted from the kitchen. I wanted to shout at her back but refrained. I have always thought how she can think about getting me married at the age of 13.

I am not going to marry until I get a job. Period.

Why did I born in this house? I should have born as Prakash uncle’s daughter. He stays in Chennai and his children are well off. Unlike me, they were smart and intelligent. Once, he once promised me that he would take me to Chennai for higher studies if I pass out tenth grade with flying colors. From then onwards, Amma started calling me, Oye Collector madam, please wash the clothes; Collector madam please wake up. I hated it. At times, I really hate my Amma. I wish she were not my mother. Bhavana’s mother is the best mother in the world. She loves Bhavana so much that never I have heard her shouting. They talk to each other as if they are friends. Bhavana has no secrets with her mother. She is so lucky. I don’t even remember talking with my full heart to my Amma.

 Before getting out of the house to school, I prayed well. Looks like God is not listening to my prayers. I have been praying for more than a year and until today I am tortured while going to school. While walking to the main road I still prayed. Nobody is there to help me and I wish I had a brother.

I got inside the 8.15 AM bus and stared at my toe nails. Suddenly somebody touched me and I recognized that touch. I slid my right hand inside the school uniform skirt’s pocket and took out a 1 rupee coin. I gave to him without looking at his face. I again slid my right hand into the pocket to keep the ticket inside. I hate him.

While getting down from the bus, I again recognized the touch. There were so many sleepless nights which I have spent thinking why can’t buses in Kerala run without a cleaner man standing at the door of the bus pretending to help the women open the bus door. Five months back, when I was sitting in front seat, he touched my hands. I stared at the cleaner man and he winked at me. A sudden chill hit me like a lightning and my heart started beating fast. I understood that he has kept the hands on the brim of my seat as if it is a normal posture to travel in a bus. He touched my legs and pinched me. I went numb. I saw my classmates flocking at the door to get down from the bus but I couldn’t even get up from my seat.  But my legs were shivering, my hands were sweating and my stomach had butterflies flying inside it. I gasped some air to make me look normal and then it happened. The conductor pulled me out of the seat holding my arms and shouted “Day dreaming girl!”.He used the opportunity well and slid inside my shirt sleeves as deep as possible to hold my hands. I ran to the door and stepped down from the slightly moving bus. While stepping down, the cleaner man almost hugged me to throw out of the bus.

At times, I feel that my Amma doesn’t love me at all. She never listens to me. All she talks about is the money she has to find to pay the dowry when she marries me off. I think she misses my father and that’s why she behaves strangely and rudely to me.

I always wanted to tell her about those men who is coming both in my nightmares and day dreams. I wanted to tell her how much I hate them and how much I hate myself when they touch me or pinch me. Once during the lunch break, I told Reshma about him. I somehow felt like trusting her as she has been sitting next to me since we both joined the school together. But I couldn’t believe what heard from her. She told me that her father’s brother who is staying with them always keeps her in his lap. He would caress her breasts when her mother is in kitchen, he would tell her to massage his legs and he would touch her hair as if showing affection. Reshma’s family is a joint family and her father toils to run that big family. I asked her why she is not telling this matter to her mother. My jaw dropped when I learned that her mother knew it and even tried talking to her father but all in vain.

I cannot explain the blood rush and the rage that wave inside my heart and body when they touch me or pass lusty comments. I want to hit them on their face when they do so but all I can manage is to hold my fist tight and then sit on the seat like a stone. Sunday is the only peaceful day but then Sunday nights are terrible. The thought of again bearing those hard presses and pinches will make me scream in helplessly in anger.

Few days back, I was sitting in the front seat, far away from the conductor seat. I gave him 1rupee coin without looking at his face and put back the ticket in my pocket. When the crowd grew, he came and stood next to my seat. He leaned on the bar next to the front seat in the bus. I could sense that he was looking at my breasts and my blood flushed. I held my bag tight to my chest and looked outside. When an old lady got inside the bus, he ordered me to get up from my seat. He shouted to everybody that students are making the private bus owners of Kerala in loss. I managed to stand up from the seat and stood holding the seat rod. He asked the crowd to give him way to the other end of the bus. Then it happened. On the pretext of pushing me, he squeezed my breasts. I thought I would faint then. I wanted to vomit as I felt sick in my stomach. I held the iron bar of the seat tightly and stood in the crowd. After this incident, I started getting nightmares that at times him or some other times strange men are trying to squeeze my breasts. My mother sleeping in the adjacent room neither cared nor bothered but yet shout at me to better sleep soon rather than disturbing her sleep. When she is in her slumber, she forgets me. I searched for one person to talk this out or to get help.

I lost my father when I was two. I know him only through stories from my mother which she told when she wanted to let me know how unlucky I am. It was from Reshma that I learned the secret behind my mother’s hatred towards me. A soothsayer made my mother believed that it was my unlucky charm which brought death to my father. A lot of times, I have secretly wished that my mother have hugged or kissed me like rest of the mothers of the village do. They oil their daughter’s hair, they celebrate when the daughter reaches puberty and they tease their daughter telling about the prince charming waiting for her. Once I took the bottle of oil and sat next to my mother who was sitting on the steps of the front door of the house. She gave me a glaring stare and I understood the answer. How can I ever tell a woman who hates me, who talks only about the pain she is taking to make money to pay my dowry about the men who eves tease me?

 Every time when I get on the bus, I wished I had the courage to hold the hands of the cleaner man from touching me and then slap him tight. But when I think about the school mates, neighbors and acquaintances in the bus I refrain myself from thinking about such a plan. I was going crazy thinking about the modus operandi that he worked out with me. Why do those two men torture me this way? Why should bus have a man standing at the women’s door? Why does he never move from the two meter foot-board while women are getting on the bus? He touches every other women getting inside the bus. He teases every school girl sitting in the front seat of the bus.

Ninth grade final exams were going on and I returned home at noon after the exam. Most of the times, I will be the only girl in the bus by the time the bus reaches the last stop where I get down. Somehow I was lucky for four days as the village Panchayat president travelled to my stop as he was monitoring the road work. I thanked my stars and for the first time I enjoyed the warmth of security. I realized how beautiful the sideways of the roads are. I understood what I missed by sitting scared and absent-minded in the bus. On the fifth day, after my Social science exam I gleefully sat next to the window of the front seat. My heart uttered sotto voce that things are wrong. I hesitantly looked back and I didn’t see the Panchayat President in his usual seat. Then I looked at the cleaner man and I saw the lusty urge in his eyes. I took my eyes off him and sat straight. My heart sank and I wanted to jump out of the bus. Altogether, there were only eight people in the bus. Two security men returning from their work , two tenth standard students coming back from their tuition class, the bus driver, the bus conductor ,the cleaner man and myself. One of the tenth standard students is my neighbor and I have already blocked his textbooks for my next year. The security men took the advantage of the nearly empty bus by keeping their legs on the bars of the seat and snoring off their last night’s pending sleep.

I jumped from the seat when the cleaner man came and sat next to me. He looked behind the boys and winked at them and I heard them laugh. He comfortably stretched himself on the seat and kept his hands around me as if he was my lover. I was not sure whether I was dead or not. I couldn’t move and inch and I shivered. When he held my hair, I took all my courage and jumped out of the seat. He laughed at me and pulled me to him. Bus conductor made a comment to encourage the cleaner man. He kept his hands on my shoulder and something inside me exploded with courage that I slapped him hard on his left cheek. He fell off the seat. He called me names and ran to me and lifted me holding my uniform shirt’s collar. I kicked him and suddenly the driver applied sudden brakes. Both of us fell down. His head hit on the gearbox and he was in a rage. I opened the door of the bus and ran. I ran. I ran until I reached my house. I slammed the door and got inside my room.

I wrapped myself in the bed sheet. I held it tight to stop myself from shivering. I heard my mother shouting at me for getting inside the house wearing the shoes. She poured her rants about me not being an ideal girl. I found it difficult to breathe and finally I cried. I cried my soul and anger out. I cried until the news reached my mother’s ears. Her hands made huge noises on my door and I couldn’t make out whether she was shouting or crying. I got up from the bed and slowly opened the door. There I fell on my bed again as my mother slapped me hard. I went blind, deaf and dumb. She lifted me from the bed holding my arms and asked why I slapped that man. She threw me down on the floor and ran out the room.

She lamented that the family’s honor is lost and now nobody will come forward to marry me. The complaints showered on my head and I felt that my head is going to blast. People flocked outside my house as the news had gone viral. She ran around our small house saying I have brought such a shame to her and the family. I lay on the bed and closed my eyes.

When I opened my eyes, it was dark everywhere. I couldn’t see the clock to know the time. I realized that I had a sound sleep. I touched my left cheek and felt the imprints of my mother’s finger. My ears pained and the clotted blood behind my left ear smelled. I got up and went out of my room. I stumbled upon some utensils. I switched on the light and saw my mother lying down of the floor. I ran to her but she turned her face without any emotions. She cursed me.

 I went back to bed after gulping some water from the kitchen. I slept peacefully that night. I dreamed about walking through the beach, singing songs and running around in garden. I saw my prince charming dancing with me. When he kissed me, I woke up. I screamed when I saw my mother hugging me. Her face was as calm as Night Sea. Her eyes were puffed from continuous crying. I felt good having her hands around me. The last time she hugged me is not even there in my memory. I tightly hugged her. She kissed on my cheeks and told me to stop going to school. She advised that I am too young to bear the embarrassment. I argued with her because there was one more exam left for me to pass the ninth grade.

Stop it Priya. People will talk nonsense about you. Let me talk with Prakash to get you married off soon.” She told me wiping her tears.

I fell back to my bed and looked through the window. The street lights were off but I could see the moon and stars. A million questions burped in my mind. I am good at studies and lately Meena teacher told me that if I can put in little more effort I can pass out with flying colors in my tenth grade. Then I can go to the town and study further. I had plans of telling Prakash uncle to loan me some cash and I will promise to pay him back once I get a job. The thought of job and salary for myself always brought me goose bumps.

I woke up early and got dressed up to go to school. Mother uttered no word but when I got out of the house I saw my neighbor hanging wet clothes on the jute lane. She stared at me and spat on the ground to get rid of my sight. While walking to the main road, I heard people’s whispers behind me, I saw people coming out of the house to see me walking and I felt that they were looting my inner strength. I walked faster and people at the bus stop covered me with their stares and glares. I breathed heavily to relax myself .People around me debated about whether I should be allowed to come out my house. But at this crossroad, I decided to go to school and study.

The bus came and I was the first one to get inside. I looked at the cleaner man and he looked away from my eyes. He has lost the guts to look into my eyes. I sat next to the window of the front seat of the bus. When the conductor reached my seat I looked at his face. He was not looking at me. I took a one rupee coin and gave him. I slid the ticket inside my skirt’s pocket and looked outside the window. The wind patted me to appreciate my courage to stand up for myself, the trees stooped to let me know their respect and my hair danced in the wind to show my happiness of freedom.

And I smiled.

PS:  This is not a fictional piece and this has disgusting memories from my school days. But, this incident was told to me by my relative who lives in a remote village in Palghat, Kerala. Looks like this girl is currently working as a teacher in the village.The ending of the story is made this way only to make the girls feel better after reading this and to let them know that they don’t have to give upon their dreams because of some morons.

 It is high time that Kerala should stop a “cleaner” man standing at the front door of the bus. A decade back when I went to school, things were bad. But, today things are worse. Stories which I hear from  school- going girls are nasty and terrible. Why can’t the Kerala Government fix an automatic door or have a bus without a door. In the worst case,  women are capable enough to open the door and get out of the bus. We prefer this to being touched and commented by someone every time we get in and get out of a bus.

Related Read : One Tight Slap , What I feel now is

Atithi NOT Devo Bhava

Though the Indian culture teaches us to see the guests who come to our place as God, the guests for whom I have played as a host have made me feel that some are worse than devils.

Past few months, I had to stay over as a guest at couple of places. Their hospitality overwhelmed me. All the places were not big but very neat, not posh but still elegant and not rich people but very loving people. They picked me up, offered me washed and cleaned towels and bed spreads and home food were heavenly. Above all that the toilet was clean; in fact very clean. I always prefer staying in a hotel while travelling but it is a nightmare to stay in a hotel in Kerala all by you. God’s own country is bad at treating women travelling and staying alone.

On the day of leaving, I searched for words to thank them and while we waited for my train, I unrolled my stories about Guests to them.

My parents were too busy to go anywhere as guests so we always played the role of hosts. The the only handful times when I were a guest were horrendous experiences.


Some wonderful GUESTS GODS that we had at our home.

  • Two decades back when cell phones were yet in womb, people will not show the courtesy to call the land line phone and let us know that they have cancelled their travel plan. We must have rescheduled our plans for them and later when they again make travel plans, they would call us up and shamelessly tell us that they are coming to our house.
  • They take our toys and give them to their kids and they would tell our parents to buy another for us. What the hell! How can they even think so?
  • Some would use our home as if we have leased it to them. They step on the cushions, they spoil the sink and (Grrrrrrr) they stink the toilets. Education, family status and financial wealth have nothing to do with a man’s cleanliness, late realization though.
  • Some would lock themselves up in the bedroom. They would never talk to us. During dinner time, first my brother would knock their door and come back saying they are sleeping. Then I would go for the second round of knocking and they won’t respond. My father would reluctantly call them for dinner and again nothing happens. Finally my mother would softly scream at them and they would open the door as if nothing has happened. They would sit at dinner table and talk nothing and then just leave the next day.
  • There is another type of guests who walk around in our home and use every other thing visible to them. They talk too much without giving a space for us to breathe some air. Some of them use my jewelry or accessories and then take them saying they are keeping them as my memory. Once they leave the house, we would have a huge mess to clean it up.
  • Now these are the funniest and most irritating type of guests. They would step inside the house by finding a fault. Oh you have become thin and malnourished, oh your hair has fallen too much, oh you have under eye circles, oh your bed sheet color sucks and the list goes on. They find faults with everyone and everything at home. Above this, they would hug and kiss me and my brother with the tag line that once upon a time when we were born they were suppose to visit us but couldn’t make it because of somebody’s wedding.
  • Some would take our car for their use and put it back in the garage with little fuel in it. Once they leave, we see dents and scratches here and there on the car.
  • Some aunts act as our well wishers (most of the time, my well-wisher), give my parents a long list of eligible bachelors in the town and that too when I’m studying in school. Some aunts are even funnier, before leaving they would come and hug me. They would turn their face to parents and then talk about some God in some temple somewhere out in their place is strong enough to bring a good son -in– law to our family. Looks like they made an offering to that God ten seconds back and they need Rs.100-200 to drop inside the offering box.

Most of the times, these are either distant relatives or some friend’s family friends who visit the city for some function, interview or entrance tests.

At times I wonder how come my Mother have this much patience to deal these situations. Sigh!

Incredible guests indeed.

Image courtesy : exploreindusholidays.com