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Thursday, January 17, 2019

She invited it

Men who rape and butcher women/other men/trans people don’t become monsters overnight. They get the fuel for their hatred every time someone laughs at their misogynistic jokes. When their mothers say,’Boys will be boys’ as an excuse for their mischiefs. When their Gileadean handmaidens allow them to behave like monsters and get away with it. No, not wives. A wife would have been an equal and would not have tolerated bad behavior. Also, every time a woman says to another woman, ’No one would dare to speak/do something like that to me ever. She must have asked for it.’ The false sense of security is laughable at best and disgusting at its worst.

Are these the first questions that come to your mind when you hear about an assault/rape/murder:

-Was she drunk?
-Were her clothes too provocative?
-Was she sexually promiscuous?
-Did she invite it?

Who invites rape and murder? Don’t be ignorant.
Read up real news and try to clear the toxic cloud in your head. You know who equally lose in this game? Good, decent men who treat everyone with respect.

The next time I hear someone say ‘She invited it’, I am going to lose my shit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I know you, I see you


I know all your hickies and heartbreaks.
Your secret stash of cigarettes which you resolve to throw every new year but keep it for one last drag.

I know how many times you went to the restroom just to cry at your work because you felt incompetent.

Your alcoholic mother brings home her despicable boyfriends who try to grab your ass when left alone. You just thank your stars that you don’t have to live in the same house.

The jealous friend who secretly hates you but who wears a facade of liking you so that she doesn’t have to give up the benefits associated with you.

The world thinks you have it together but I know how fragile you are and how tired you are to have to put up that show. Just because it is expected of you.

I just want you to know that I know you. And I see you. You are not invisible to me.

Monday, December 17, 2018

New Orleans: The cradle of Jazz

(A year ago, we were in New Orleans. Posting what I had submitted to a publication about the trip)

Some say that Jazz was born in 1895 when Charles ‘Buddy’ Bolden started his first band and played an improvised version of rag-time music or ‘jass.’ Others say that modern Jazz was born in 1917 when the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded their first Jazz record, ‘Livery Stable Blues.’ The music genre peaked in its popularity in the 1920s when it reached Britain, France and elsewhere around the world. Hence, the Roaring Twenties are also referred to as the Jazz Age.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band

When we reached New Orleans (often referred to as NOLA), we had two agenda in mind: eat Creole food and listen to traditional New Orleans Jazz. After we tasted some delectable charbroiled-oysters, seafood gumbo, redfish in lemon butter, and beignet bread pudding in a local restaurant, we headed towards Preservation Hall in French Quarter. Also known as the Vieux Carré, French Quarter is the oldest section of the city of NOLA, and famous for its restaurants and live-music venues. There are walking parades through the French Quarter during the famous Mardi Gras or ‘Fat Tuesday,’ carnival that happens on the first day of Lent each year (in February).

We watched the American Jazz trumpeter Wendell Brunious and his band play in a very intimate setting. No photographs or recording was allowed during the show and for a good reason. You can truly feel the power of music when you close your eyes and are transported to a different time. Jazz became a symbol of equality during the Civil Rights Movement in America. Music lovers could enjoy the art form irrespective of their skin tone. Jazz musicians took it upon themselves to promote social justice through their creations.

The famous lyrics by Louis Armstrong come to mind (Black and Blue):
My only sin is in my skin
What did I do to be so black and blue?

Louisiana Wetlands

We booked a Honey Island Swamp tour via Cajun Encounters where we rode a flat-bottomed boat through the swamps. The tour began near Slidell, about 50 mins drive from the city. The swamp alligators usually hibernate from October to March and are difficult to spot under the duckweed, but we saw plenty of birds including great blue herons and swallows, wild boars, raccoons, apple snails, and a rodent called nutria. The bald-cypress, Louisiana’s state tree, that grows in the swamps are related to the California Redwood trees and can grow to 140 feet and be over 1000 years old. The trees produce a vertical growth from the roots for respiration and stability and are called ‘tree knees.’

We saw a lot of floating houses on the swamp that is accessible only with boats. Fishermen often live on the floating houses and fish or set traps for crawfish and crabs. Our guide who did shrimp fishing for a living said that commercial fishing has become less profitable and most of the people living in the swamps were switching to other professions.

Some houses flattened by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were a testament to the cruelties of Mother Nature. On our way back we saw the Mercedes-Benz Superdome light up in a hallucinogenic display.  The locals probably have bittersweet memories of the stadium when it served as a shelter for 10,000 people during the hurricane.

Crab cages

World War II Museum

Located in the Central Business District of New Orleans on Magazine Street is a military history museum that boasts of one of the most authentic experiences of the World War II. War veterans can visit for free using their military-issued dog tags, and I saw a lot of WWII veterans meeting up in the museum. Some were too old to walk and in wheelchairs. Some probably dead a long time now. My personal view on wars is simple: the human cost of a war far outweighs its benefits. Every single time.

The entire museum has five buildings, but I managed to view only ‘The Road to Berlin’ and ‘The Road to Tokyo’ exhibits in Building 3 in two hours. The artifacts and videos moved me to tears and reminded us why we must remember history. Both the Allies and the Axis powers made strategic moves and mistakes. I read about some forgotten heroes who put the lives of their others before their own. For example, Archer Gammon who stormed a German machine gun nest with grenades and forced a tank to retreat until it fired an 88mm shell that killed him. Whichever side you are one on, you can’t help but wonder what makes ordinary men and women like Gammon rise to occasions like these with immense courage and belief? What makes a man wake up one day and say to himself, ’I got this!’ amid all the terrors of war?

Garden District

The Garden District with its huge mansions, t manicured lawns, and oak canopied streets is a world apart from most of Louisiana. It is famous for housing rich and famous celebrities and for ghost stories.

We started our self-guided tour from the famed 19th century Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which has 496 wall vaults, built above ground because the city is on a swamp. The cemetery with its unique style is often called the City of the Dead and has been filmed in numerous television shows and movies.

We drove around the neighborhood and ended our day with a walk inside the Audubon Zoo. You can also take an old-fashioned streetcar trip around the city starting in Canal Street for $1.25, walk through Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street, grab a bite at Café Beignet or Café du Monde, or take a steamboat ride on the Mississippi River.

The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My first ring

Every ring has a story.
SG proposed to me on Dec 9, 2006, with this ring from Kay. It cost just $100 back then and was a little loose for my ring finger because he didn’t know my finger size. The sentimental value of this thing is immense. Was talking about it to my friends recently and thought of wearing it for a few days to remember the flutter of heart I felt every time I thought that I was betrothed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

I am Kali

I was born of the rage of my mother:
To devour the demons that she fought.

I wore their heads in a necklace
To remind the wrongdoers that no evil deed goes unpunished.

I wage wars against the darkness
Even though my skin is dark.

Blood drips from my lips and the scyther I hold,
My lolling red tongue is the cause of nightmares.

But remember-
I was born because all was not right with the world.
Or else my pacifist sisters would have sufficed.

I was born because there were injustice, hatred, and pillage.
And as long as I see those happening
Another earthly girl will take my form
And bring down her fury upon the world.

If you want a lotus instead of a scyther,
Treat her well.
Your mother, wife, daughter, sister-
She can be Annapurna or Kali.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

A book of scars - 1

Freewriting about pain and betrayal

Don’t make me say it out loud
Because I know
You won’t hear it through the noise.

Read my lips, hear my heartbeat
Across a room full of strangers.
Does it sound familiar?
Do you remember the promises you made?

A mind is a tricky place.
You remember the things you want to.
And conveniently forget the rest.

But I remember-
Every lie you have ever told me.
Every lie I ever believed in
With every inch of my body.

Like a python coils
And squeezes its prey to death,
You drove the life out of me.

How do you live devoid of faith?
Stripped of the ability
To ever trust another human being?

People call me heartbroken
But my friends know better-
There was nothing left to be broken.

Inch by inch,
It decayed beneath my ribs-
One lie at a time.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

ফিরে পাওয়া

কখনো মনে হয় ফেলে আসা দিনগুলো ছিল সোনায় মোড়া?
এক টুকরো গোধূলির সূর্যে রাঙা আকাশটা ছিল আমাদের সবচেয়ে বড় প্রাপ্তি। 
তাও আমরা সন্তুষ্ট ছিলাম ‘এটাই স্বর্গ!’ ভেবে । 

ব্যাংকে রাখা মূলধন সুখের হিসেব দেয় কি?
সবকিছু থেকেও যেন কোথাও একটা অতৃপ্তি-
দুজনের প্রতি দুজনের অনেক নিঃশব্দ অভিযোগ । 

চলো না আজ ফিরে যাই সেই ফেলে আসা গোধূলির মুহূর্তে, 
তেমনি রাঙ্গুক না আকাশ আজ তোমার চুম্বনে ।