Sheroes… My beauty is my smile

“I was three years old when the catastrophe dawned upon me. My father did this to me. My paternal family incited my father for the attack, to vanish us into ashes, for we have no brothers in our family. Also, greed for property and matter fuelled this adversity to the extreme cruelty. They would then arrange a second marriage for my father. The blistering burns of the acid remained with me while my sister who was a year and half at the time of attack could not withstand the ferocity and passed away at the hospital. My mother and I, then fled from there…” 

Neetu finished her story with a sigh; a sigh of a long pertaining echo of anger and rage, of helplessness and loneliness and of brutal and inhumane act. Having heard the story, I gulped back my emotions and did my best to wear a smile, a smile to appreciate her journey through all the nuances. But I was rather stunned by the conviction and ease with which she held her composure and finished her story in the most subtle way.

Neetu is one of the eight women working in Sheroes Hangout, a restaurant in Agra that provides the acid attack survivors with a mean to re-live their lives, a moral support to rise and grow and a decent way to outlive all the rages and brutality that society once poured onto them. It started as one of the outcomes of an awareness campaign #StopAcidAttack on 8th March 2013. The other being Chhanv foundation which serves as a bridge between the survivors and society.

‘My mother and I joined Sheroes in 2014. The time when society wasn’t really ready to accept us, Sheroes gave us a home, a light to grow again. But… the initial 2 years were very tough for us. People used to make weird expressions and didn’t feel comfortable having us around. The restaurant building is a rented one, so we have to not only pay for the stuff but also meet the dues on time. We have seen such hard times…’

… A sudden halt to Neetu’s story and the air seemed standstill, with every elapsed second spanning to uncomfortable extents.

how could someone push a little angel, a daughter of his own to the verge of extinction, how did she compose herself through all those barbarity, how much sacrifice did she embrace to stand on her own, that too at this early age; she is strong, stronger than anyone in this room, maybe the strongest in this whole universe…

… I paused, dumbstruck and was not able to find the right words to speak out. I wondered about life for a second, as to how it leads a person through outbreaks and breakthroughs in its short span. Breaking the cobwebs of my inner self and the uncomfortably still air, I pointed towards the menu and the various photographs hanging on the wall.

‘When we started Sheroes, we thought of doing something new, something which people can cherish afterwards. And hence this idea of having no price tags in the menu, instead we let the customers pay as per their wish so that people belonging to every class, may it be of poor or rich, can afford to come here and have a good time.’

She added, indicating to one of the pictures there, ‘Akhilesh Yadav Sir, the then CM also visited us, appreciated our effort, promoted our campaign and gave a plot of land for two years in Lucknow to operate another Sheroes Restaurant. We are really grateful for his generous gesture. But… since the two years of time has elapsed by now, I guess we have to shut it down, and the lives of all 12 sheroe-ian will return to its primordial plight. I wonder how… ’ and she stopped amidst. I realised what might have caused her to stop and hence I didn’t ask further.

A cluster of emotions and thoughts preoccupied my mind. At this very moment when people are complaining about the poor Instagram filter for failing to mask their pimples, or the curry for being salty, or getting a mark less than the topper, or the car scratch on the bonnet, or the movie they have missed and what not, there are these brave souls at Sheroes who struggle every ounce of their existence for their identity and for bringing worth to their lives. The land where we poise the symbol of love, the Taj, do we really justify its significance? When we welcome millions of tourists from all over the world just to marvel this wonder and to become awestruck by the integrity that Shah Jahan beheld for his beloved wife, a daughter, a sister, a woman, have we really extended our gestures to all the love-deprived and terror-stricken people? Is it a metaphorical coincidence to be in the juncture of what is being believed and what is being bestowed? Isn’t it? Does it feel strange to just pause for a second from our productive, prosperous and progressive lives and look back at our footmarks and then look ahead to the path we have chosen? Doesn’t it? You and I, me and you have sensed it then, now, here and there. Have we just shake our heads in prohibition? Haven’t we? It is a truth that lies at the tip of the nose, seen by many yet overlooked by self; a truth that is known to all yet to be reminded again; a truth that is louder than a scream yet inaudible to many.

Now the truth has been told and portrayed as one of the biggest victories of good over evil, light over dark, humane over inhumane, justice over injustice, and love over hatred! Every Sheroe-ian is a spark of that truth, a glam of the victory and an inspiration to many. The best thing that I have learnt from these people is the way they have accepted reality. The lives of these people have shown that to live by the hardest way and to get a little less do not mean the end of our lives or do not decide its worth, it is the ethics we carry in hard times and the zeal to move past the adversities that decide the righteousness of our lives. The way they never lose hope despite being pushed by the odds, is a true inspiration to all. They are not just some people, they are ‘The Sheroe-ians’; an inspiration to many!

Sharing some pictures below.

 

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The Circle

… an insight to define one’s warmth from his comfort

Ever since we were introduced to the definition of a circle as the locus of all points at a constant distance from an origin, we have come to know that we are actually surrounded by numerous such circles. If you are sitting on your study table, look around; the dial of your watch, the Sellotape, the opening of your pen cap, the screw heads of your table, or if you’re in kitchen; the bottom of the pan, cap of the bottle, the plates, cups, the strainer etc.; All are the form of a circle. Look up the sky, you see the circular moon, the sun, or the earth which itself is a huge circle on which we rest. The circles appear in numerous ways around us, may it be tiny or large, but the mere fact that it has an existence in our lives cannot be denied.

Every being has his own way of living, means of living, tastes of living, principles of living, ethics of living or any ‘dash’ of living,  but the sole purpose of any living is to survive, and strive for his better self than yesterday, sustaining the basic elements of ‘life and matter’, soliciting some warmth, and rendering the same to others. Although comfort has never been the ideal place to endeavour for higher grounds of morale and abilities, warmth has imparted a soothing and reconciling reverberation to the human spirit. Both being different in meaning, we seem to comfort ourselves, maybe with material possessions or eternal content, but were never destined to settle there, for ‘A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing grows there #sourceInternet’; whereas we seek to falter (for a little longer ) under the blue dome of warmth; the warmth in the disguise of the cosiness that resembles that of our homies, the zeal that we feel when we meet different faces yet speak the same tongue, maybe the familiar one or the ditto, a song or even a rhyme that unite our mind and heart, a little bit of appreciation and sheer respect that you earn for the set of principles you aspire or a whole lot of other niceties that give you an ethereal sensation of being your highest self. That’s where you draw your circle; the circle that encompasses your warmth; the circle that defines the person you are, your likes-dislikes, happiness-sadness, acceptance-denial, choices-decisions, priorities-options etc. Being centered, you either tend to draw it close or expand a bit more, but on an average choose to keep it a constant expanse. 

The underlying fact that could not be reprimanded is that the warmth I feel within my circle might not mellow some others’ spirit and vice versa. In our journey of transient nuances, we happen to meet new people, conquer new territories, acquire new abilities and accordingly, we welcome new editions to our selves. The circle, almost perennial, confines us at all times. It works totally fine till you sense the tiniest perception of you being out skirted from your own circle, maybe by some external factors or by sudden cognitive outbreaks: An overall phenomenon termed as ‘intersection of the circles’. Every living element encircled by his circles has the tendency to influence and thus intersect our circles of warmth. The vulnerability of such intersections ranges from very frequent to very long. Sometimes you do it smooth and swift, aligning to a new position, cause you share more or less a common span of warmth within your circle that gets blended into others. But sometimes you find it difficult to settle offset, or to blend. In this transit, you feel ‘…disturbed’, ‘…need to find peace’, ‘…need a break’, ‘…why me…?’, ‘…conflict of interest..’ and ask all sort of self-awakening questions and statements, the answers to which are like a mirage. The sooner you catch the mirage, the swifter your transition gets, and the better you feel. The intersection, transition, and thus the loop converge to a prime element of evolution: CHANGE. Nature changes as spring advances to autumn and then to winter, human body changes from an infant to adult, living beings change from primitive to adaptive, and thus change is the only constant. Your circle always stays intact to you, seems constant but it has been through a rigorous process of incurring changes and alignments, sometimes adamant to give in or give out. After all, you must find the warmth where you fit in and feel cosy.

With this, I leave the readers to think about their circles, what defines them and try to interpret the intersection of circles with the surrounding elements of ‘life and matter’. Whenever you get into a conflict of interest, minds, opinions or of power, try to understand the role your circle plays, and the significance that change has borne, may it be universal or imposed. It is the individual himself who is centered, and responsible for how deep he is rooted in his circle or how adaptive he can be towards (change) settling offset (or alignment). I have found mine, but the prodigy still continues; as it is equally important to realise when to hold my expanse tight and when to embrace the change.

 

S-O-C-I-A-L

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S-O-C-I-A-L; One of the most bizarre words in the corporate world today.

  • ‘I’ll be busy this afternoon, let’s have the lunch on some other day.’
  • ‘I am really sorry, I was so screwed up in my hectic schedule that your birthday totally skipped my mind’
  • ‘ *The called subscriber is busy, please call after some time* ‘
  • ‘ Send the driver to pick up the kids. I have a meeting to catch up’
  • ‘ This is the only day I get an off in a week, please don’t bother me’
  • ‘Don’t be such ignorant honey! It’s your brother’s marriage. Give some decisions, some effort to it.- Don’t be silly dear. he is a grown up now, he can decide what color of the dress he wants, what should be the menu and all. In fact, I have bigger issues to settle this week in the office. ‘
  • ‘Hello mom, did you get the money I’ve sent for your meds?/yes! I want to see you, beta. come home!/ I wish I could mom. I have to get the project done by this month. so I won’t be able to. Don’t worry I’ll send money for you in time./ ….’sigh’… ‘

These are not dialogues quoted from movies, these are some excerpts from the real world. When people get so busy shoving their asses to make a better life, better self, and secure future, they almost forget the ethics of being social and humane morals. The role of a person as someone’s friend, son/daughter, husband/wife, loved one, etc has been compromised to a greater extent. The tragedy does not only lie in the fact that human relations have deteriorated immensely in this transit but also in the fact that people don’t realize being deviated from their principles and from whom they used to be until it is too late. The urge for material possession should not dominate the subtle human emotions. We should always be aware of our responsibilities as a part of the society and the balance among different elements of ‘life and matter’. Because Life is precious but Relations are priceless!!