Thursday, 22 May 2014

Summer Wedding in Mathura

The scorching heat of the June sun was mercilessly burning down whatever came its way.
But the sultry weather was no match to the spirit of festivity and celebrations.
The celebration of binding two people together, in a bond of sweet surrender to each other.
The celebration of wedding, of a very close friend of mine, Ankit and his lovely wife Preeti.
My first ever chance to witness the grandeur of a North Indian wedding.

Mathura is known for Lord Krishna and ancient history, but to me it’s also the place where my friends and I had humongous fun and spent some memorable moments together. Working in Reliance Industries, served as a thoroughfare of reaching to great pals. My stay there is studded with precious memoirs, which I will treasure all through my journey.

The 2010 June sun was indeed merciless, but the warmth of the people out shined it. We were a group of five completely insane people, traveling from Surat to attend Ankit’s wedding ceremony in Mathura, our train reached Mathura in the morning. However I cannot miss to mention, how much we had troubled people in our compartment, by our over exuberant spirits. Two other guys were supposed to join us later, making us the indispensable seven. It might be worthy to mention, how the journey had transformed us to ardent card players, so much, so that we never missed one single opportunity to try our hands at it.

After a warm welcome with mouth smacking famous “kachoris” of Mathura, we understood that this outing was meant to be memorable in ways more than one. It felt lovely to be amidst people who religiously tried to make us feel at home. After late night card sessions, we slept well and woke up all geared up for an eventful day.

Ankit had arranged a car for us, and the mean machine was supposed to take us through Agra. And bestow us with the opportunity of witnessing the “wonder of the world”. Won’t say, that a June morning is the best time to appreciate the beauty of this splendor of art! Nevertheless the craftsmen’s skill and aura of the surrounding always makes visiting Sikandra, Fatehpur Sikri and “Taj Mahal” worth a million.

The long awaited ceremonies started in the evening, although a little tired from our expedition, we got all decked up. Happy faces, grandeur of Indian attire, delectable cuisines and most importantly the flashing lights of the disco floor made Ankit’s “Tilak ceremony” a grand success. We danced to the desi beats with full on enthusiasm; all fatigue vanished within a second.

However more resplendence awaited us the next evening, “the wedding”. Evening dawned with loads of light, shehanayi, colorful flowing chiffon sarees, the shine and shimmer of sequins and much more. Glee and ecstasy flowed past the vastness of the party plot. All possible north Indian dishes were served to the guests. And that’s the uniqueness of the Indian culture; each part of the country is so different from each other yet so similar.

Ankit dressed like a “Maharaja” waited for his beautiful rani to arrive, and so she did gracefully. Many ceremonies followed and gradually tied two people with the fetters of love, compassion, respect and understanding. A bonding to be cherished lifelong!

My stay in Mathura will always be special, I could witness my friend’s special moment, spend some free spirited time with good mates and above all I experienced an entire culture so different to the one I am exposed to and this very aspect is intriguing to me and makes the experience very special.

Thanks to Ankit, Preeti and their lovely families, Thanks to Vikas, Vivek, Sachin, Surjya, Vishal and Udaya for making the experience so cheerful and memorable.
Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Don't Suffocate me, it hurts my soul- Crime Against Women

My eyes are mirror, the minor to my inside!
The inside which is sore, the sore which is now a part of me!!

She opened her eyes warily, feeling dizzy and weak. Crying not only lets out emotions but vents energy as well. The sun rays on her tear stricken face brought an eerie shine. Yet, she looked beautiful! With trembling legs, she rose from the bed, the bed that witnesses her daily agony!  Blankly she stared at the man, sleeping peacefully. “Do I know him?” she asked in her mind, “Yes, he is the familiar stranger, I live with!” As she carried her fragile body out of her bedroom, her own image in the mirror shocked her. Who is this woman? The smudged kohl, the bruised forehead and traumatized eyes, it was only a shadow of herself! She felt a strange dizzy sensation in her head; her own shrieks suddenly filled the room, she heard her husband shouting with a wolfish grin on his face “Stop misbehaving, I am your legally wedded husband, I am not raping you, I am just loving you” he said. But why does love make her feel sore and humiliated, why doesn't she love being loved?

Somewhere in the unknown villages of Odisha, a mother remains worried about her eleven year old daughter. The lively little child has changed a lot in the last ten days. Her playful eyes have lost its twinkle, dark circles have started appearing. The studious child remains fatigued most of the times. A strange fear filled the mother’s heart. But she dared not to ask her, fearing to hear the worst, she chooses to keep silent. Little did she know, that her little child “Munni” was going through a trauma much more than she could ever imagine. It started with her uncle (father’s friend) giving her lift to school, then came chocolates and dolls and at last price for all the favors. “Uncle, I don’t want gifts, please leave me alone” she pleads. “I don’t like when you touch me, I feel dirty”. But her painful mourn never reached her “uncle’s” deaf ear.

She was a young professional, vibrant, attractive and beaming with confidence. Her parents counted on her for a better life and living. But off late, they have noticed her reluctance to go to office. When asked, she prefers to maintain silence. Arushi, lied on the bed in her room and aimlessly stared at the ceiling fan.  Her deep kohl lined eyes had many questions. “Who am I or What am I? Do I have the right to lead my life with dignity or am I just a commodity to play with?
After joining a renowned corporate office, life was beautiful. But her boss’s unwanted attention and favors soon became the reason of suffocation and discomfort in her life. His touch while shaking hands, his stare, his eagerness to drop her home and to dine with her, made her stay at office a nightmare. She could very well perceive his dirty intentions.

A country known for heritage and culture, a country where woman is worshiped as Goddess, is also a country where woman and womanhood is crushed under the cruel blows of rape, eve teasing, female foeticide and other  despicable crimes every second. Off late the country is witnessing some of the most heinous crimes against women ever and the toll is increasing everyday.
These criminals have not emerged suddenly, they have been part of this same society since time immortal but the vulnerable political scenario, easy money making have given them more liberty.
In a country where a political leader on an open forum says “Boys do make such mistakes but that does not mean that they should be sent to the gallows”, what else is expected to happen?

But we can’t just blame a handful of politicians for this epidemic.  Why don’t we inculcate in all young minds, respect for women? Why do we teach boys, that they are superior and women are supposed to be under them? Why do we ask our daughters to be careful while dressing and not our sons to behave themselves? Why millionaire cine stars tantalizingly shake their bodies to songs that deliberately depict women as commodities? Why rape victims are shunned from the society? Why? Why? Why? And it continues….

It’s only our collective effort which can bring a change in the society, the change which has to be essentially brought to the mindset of one and all.

Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta