Category Archives: Hormone hangover

All the outpouring I’m entitled to because I’m a woman.

A Morning Ritual

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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SEXONOMICS: Making Feminism Fun

I haven’t written about SEXONOMICS all these months, have I? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or Youtube, you may have spotted a mention or two. Back in the month of love and Valentines, I got attacked at my favorite performance venue. That incident triggered off a polarising among my community with a handful of men victim-shaming me or rushing in to prove their machismo. Many more of them ignored my requests for help. And I realised that I was standing alone for ideas that would get me attacked into submission. I lost all my friends, my treasured relationships.

I also came onto stage, braving crippling stage fright and carrying the wounds of abusive, gaslighting, confidence-shattering relationships. And with this incident, I was being vanquished and systematically bled out.

I found an ally right then, a slight acquaintance that I’d laughed with in the past. She spoke with me and for me. And she asked if I’d like to collaborate on stage. We joined hands with the only man in our space who agreed with our thinking. Drawing strength from each other, we collaborated on a performance piece titled ‘The Parenting Economy‘. We performed it at NCPA during the South Asia Laadli Media Awards. Within a month, we were featured at two other events, one a creative space and one a nightclub. Two months later, another feminist performer invited us to collaborate on a ticketed show.

This is how SEXONOMICS was born.  Dramatic, is that? I’ve barely been able to catch my breath in this journey from solitary feminist struggling for a chance to speak to co-founder of SEXONOMICS.

Each performance has been reshaped in its writing, its delivery but most importantly, in the thought it espouses. We’ve addressed bad parenting, toxic gender roles, troublesome dating rituals, sexist language, the burden of social approval, revenge porn, common fears around sex, gender privilege, feminism and more. We’ve made use of poetry, rap, spoken word, drama, satire and role play. Every single performance has been an apprehensive step fearing retribution like in the past. And every single one has yielded much joy, learning and possibility.

One major milestone this month was Scroll.in carrying the following story about us –

‘With humour and sass, SEXONOMICS  the Band aims to make feminism fun for Indian women’

I am very glad for all the wonderful conversations that SEXONOMICS has made possible for me, with my collaborator but also with others. If you’ve enjoyed my writings so far, I think you’ll like this next stage in my words also. SEXONOMICS is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“People are so comfortable in their minds with misogynistic references,” Pandyan said. “I just want feminism to also be something that is welcome on the furniture of your mind. It ought to be sitting on the same plush sofa that has been the prerogative of Salman Khan or Honey Singh so far.”

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t Flinch: Love In A Clickbaitey World

Love. It got so much harder with age. The finding of it, the keeping of it. But mostly, the being okay with it.

We are the generation that’s living life in flinch-decision mode. Swipe Right, Unsubscribe, Alt-Tab, Mute, Disconnect. No wonder our biggest addition to the world of relationships is “It’s complicated” and “ghosting”. Do we give up too easily? An entire generation of us cannot be uniformly more cowardly, weaker or superficial than the generations of humans before us.

No, I think the world is changing faster than it ever has. It’s already a universe different from the ones we were being groomed to enter. Nothing makes sense. And no one taught us how to deal with getting hurt. We don’t even allow each other (or ourselves) time and room to heal. Get over it, snap out, set his letters on fire, flush her pictures away, we say. Quick, quick, instant heal, instant burn, instant crash. It’s exhausting.

I decided not to react but live instead. I decided to hold off on flinch reactions for as long as I could. So I did not write reams of hate posts or heartbreak poetry about the diltoot (well, not too much). I briefly lashed out but I set it right. And before I knew it, we’re already three months into 2017, taxes are being computed and the world is making plans for the future.

In between all that, this nightmare happened. I got rescued, which is a novel experience for me. Nobody was around to even offer a kind word when an asshole was abusing me in college or when a ‘feminist’ fiance was beating me up and collecting accolades for singing about it. I got used to not being rescued, then I got used to being suspicious of anyone offering refuge and finally, I forgot what rescuing or even kindness looked like. This only happened because well, too much happened and I crashed. I would never have set foot on stage again, if it hadn’t been for this rescue. And instead, because of it, I went back onto that same stage and I led the orchestra. (Metaphorically speaking, that is – I opened an event that’s gone viral and then curated and hosted the follow-up event that got such a response that the venue got mobbed). I’m very tired.

I like my rescuer. It doesn’t go anywhere. Should it? Should I? What else? Have I lined up options? Have I protected myself? Am I looking at the big picture? Am I missing any details? Who’s SuperLiking me on Tinder? Is my Snapchat account still alive?

I don’t have to make a decision. I guess I don’t have to do anything. I have to remind myself of that often. I just have to take a deep breath and live through whatever happens. At 37 and single, I’m not really as raw as I was at 22 and abused or 31 and gaslit/dumped. But my reactions come from a place of habit. These habits don’t serve well. I’ve always prided myself on being able to acquire and drop habits easily. But how do you drop your flinch reactions without flinching?

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Take A Day Off Each Month From Being Me

This tweet by ChhotaHulk got me thinking.

I didn’t rally with a Yeah women! cry. I didn’t have to. Rather proudly, I replied that,

It’s true. This is something I first started doing because I didn’t have a choice. At least once a month, when my period hit, I’d keel over with cramps, nausea, headaches and low blood pressure (which makes me faint and when conscious, depressed). Once I fainted in a crowded Mumbai local train. After being lectured on eating better, exercising and what not by family, doctor and employers, I began doing that. But over the years, even in my fittest months, I struggle to cope with a regular day when I’m bleeding. I mean struggle, a physical, emotional, mental effort that leaves me wishing I had just been killed off as a fetus.

For the past few months, I’ve tried to give myself one day where I go easy on myself. I’ve slept in, eaten crazy things and shut down work. I’ve discovered that it actually makes me more productive, taking that day off instead of struggling through it and having to redo or strain through working harder on the same thing.

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Image via Unsplash/Christopher Sardegna

Over time, I’ve started learning to be even kinder on myself. My usual OCD self takes a break on that day too. I don’t make my bed. Sometimes I don’t even get out of it all day, except to get something to eat (in bed) or visit the toilet. I’ve taken to not opening my computer. Sometimes I even leave my phone in the other room and pretend I’m dead to the world. The months I’ve done this, I’ve found by early evening itself I’m feeling cheerier, hungrier, more enthusiastic and wanting to get back to my life.

And finally in the most recent past, I’ve also began giving myself the permission to drop the Social Me. That’s not bothering to be polite, not worrying about diplomacy (as little as I do anyway), not caring about who thinks what or the consequences. Each time is a revelation on just HOW MUCH I tolerate from the world. There’s the daily stupidities of people that you take just because it’s too tiresome to not do so. There’s the small cruelties and petty nastiness that people inflict on you, especially on the internet, unthinking or perhaps just because they can do so. And there is all the entitlement of men. This is rarely from men who are very close to me but comes my way by the bushel from slight acquaintances, distant friends and strangers.

“I THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE NICE! WHY ARE YOU NOT BEING KIND TO ME?? I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME. I WANT YOU TO TAKE CARE OF ME. I WANT YOU TO PAMPER ME. I WANT I WANT I WANT.”

….come the messages steamrolling me every single day. Well, that’s the one day in the month when I shut the door on them and throw cold water on their heads from the window.

The thing is, I’ve been doing this somewhat defensively and perhaps even a bit guiltily. But ChhotaHulk’s tweet made me realise it’s very, very, very tiring to be a woman every day. There is so much demanded of you, so much riding on your perfect delivery of these things, so many consequences of each tiny thought or action. It’s enough to make anyone crack up.

As I’m writing this, ChhotaHulk and I are still talking about it. He suggests that I not care about anyone and damn well do as I please. I truly appreciate his thinking about what women deserve but I know he doesn’t really understand.

Maids and landlords can make your life very difficult if they don’t approve of you. If you’re a woman, this doesn’t just mean your credit-worthiness and whether you stay quiet and clean. It also means whether you live up to their standards of what a woman should be like (read – shop for vegetables, cook from scratch, get up early in the morning, don’t drink or smoke, wear Indian clothes). Don’t believe me? I’ve had a landlady who got peeved with me because I was going to a work meeting instead of shopping for vegetables and decided to tell the dhobi, kachchrawala and the bai not to knock on my door. I’ve also had bais who would show up at any random hour because after all, “aap to kaam nahin karte ho ghar ka“. There were the watchmen from hell who would lech at me as I walked past in jeans and conveniently ‘forget’ to keep salesguys from knocking on my door. Plumbers, electricians, dabbawallas, shop delivery boys – all of these decide how well they want to do their job or if they’ll even do it at all, based on what I’m wearing and whether I smile at them. None of these have ever applied to the men.

I won’t detail again how strangers feel entitled to your empathy and politeness if you are female. I’ve already talked about that and interestingly, among the responses was a suggestion that I ‘reply politely and respectfully that I appreciated the man’s interest in me but I was a bit busy and would he mind if we didn’t talk now?’ I give up trying to explain that to anybody now.

And finally, here’s something else. As a woman, I’m rarely if not NEVER alone. It’s just not safe for me to be alone anywhere. Even in a city like Mumbai, going solo is subject to all kinds of conditions of place, time, dressing, occasion, day of the week, my age etc. Do you know just how big a luxury it is for me to disconnect from everyone? My bed is the only place I can do that in, that is all I am afforded and I’m still one of the lucky ones that has a room of my own.

For my own sanity, I’ve decided I am taking one day off each month from the responsibility of being ME, a big part of which is being a woman. The world can bloody well learn to deal with it and welcome me back with open arms when I return.

Any Earthquakes Out There?

It’s 6:30 and I have an hour to go before I get to start a webinar. It’s one of a series of things I’ve taken on that warned me that November would be a demented, mad, crazy month. Maybe subconsciously I took it on realizing it would be my last chance to let my demented, masochistic side out this year. 2015 has been otherwise so peaceful.

Yes, I know how that sounds, after all my whining and raging. But there have been no earthquakes thus far.

I’m taking a breather break between books — by reading an ‘easy’ one so to speak. This being the last few weeks, I’m making the final dash to putting a dent on my reading list and my books-to-read shelf. But even I deserve the comfort a known earthquake, I guess.

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I’m reading Marian Keyes’ ‘Anybody Out There’. And on the first page I’ve inscribed,

“8 March 2009,

It’s Women’s Day. I’ll be 30 this year and my answer to the above is “Not on this planet.”

Well. There’s always room to be proven wrong.”

Now I remember buying this book using the gift voucher that someone had sent me as a Valentine’s Day gift. Someone who never spoke of his interest before and didn’t even tell me about this gift until I arrived and only observed once that it came in on February 14th for a reason. But this is not about him. He was never even a shudder, let alone an earthquake.

It’s hard to know why I find this book comforting. The story is not exactly a happy one and neither is it is highbrow, self-help or inspirational. But it allows me to cry a little bit, to grieve the things inside me that are broken, a little easier. We need those earthquakes.

Have I been proven wrong, per the book’s inscription? I really don’t know. A few months later I met a man who would go on to shake my life so much that its reverberations are still being felt.

Last week in one of those deep, intimate conversations with total strangers that I find myself in at such times in my life, he asked me if I was currently with someone I was in love with. My mind immediately sorted that into two ideas and pulled up the signboard ‘NO’ to both of them. It would be wrong to say that I don’t remember feeling that way. I can remember with precise clarity what I was wearing, what I was thinking and how I was feeling the day I met him. And the earlier him as well. I remember the rush of hormones and blood surges and the creak of my bones, innards, organs towards each of them. I remember it like I’m holding a glossy picture in my hands. What I don’t remember is what that feels like from within, right now. I have no sympathetic feeling to those incidents, those moments. They don’t recall the same feelings inside me.

And I wonder if I will ever feel that way about anybody ever again. I know, I know, it’s the kind of thing people like me always say after they’ve been heartbroken and then they go on and get over it. Each time I’ve been in a relationship, especially in the horrific last dregs, I’ve wondered how I could be so careless, so flighty, so blase about the peacefulness of singledom. Every single time, I remember that with alacrity the way a person trapped in a desert probably remembers drinking water and spilling some on their shirt and laughing it off.

This time round, I’m recalling the brutality of people frequently. Each time a ‘new prospect’ rears its head, this thirsty desert swings into view. Do you feel earthquakes in a desert? I imagine it’s hard to tell with the sand blowing over you in every direction. And after sometime, it’s easy to lie down and let the sand take you. And the sand starts to feel like home. Maybe the age for earthquakes has passed.

People around me keep telling me ‘to get over it’, to ‘stop whining and bitching’ and that ‘he is not worth it’. Of course he wasn’t. No one is. But this is not about him. It’s about grief buried so deep inside my soul that I have to plummet to depths that are raw and burning. I cannot carry earthquakes inside me buried deep and walk around in a stable state. But it’s okay. They don’t understand. Many of them have never been uprooted in the same way and that’s fine. Just like survivors of abuse, of near-death accidents and of trauma are changed forever, so have I been by the earthquakes that have already been. There are and will be butterflies but this life is spread over a broken, bruised planet.

And I must go get to my webinar now. November can throw its tantrums.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Why Are Period Jokes Okay But Period Talk Not?

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*Image courtesy Simon Howden on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was in college, a guy leaned in and asked me,

“Why was there blood on the dance floor?”

These were the late 90s, Micheal Jackson was still alive, already white and not yet branded a pedophile. I shrugged. I had not understood the song anyway.

“Because Susie had her period!”

he guffawed as the boys around him erupted laughing. I frowned. I still don’t get it. The song and the joke.

If the idiot had any sense, he’d know that Susie would know to wear a tampon or a sanitary pad during her period. Even if by some miracle, she forgot to wear panties (no woman does that outside of porn films), the blood would not gush out of her and land on the floor in a  puddle. It would cake around her groin, with a trickle or two lining the insides of her thighs. I very much doubt it would even get as far as her knee before it congealed and dried up. It’s menstrual blood after all, not red wine. But how would he know? He was a man. What did he know about menstruation, after all?

I once had an argument with a friend over this. He thought joking about things made it possible for people to not take them so seriously. I see where that might make sense in some things. But not here. Most men are terribly uncomfortable with the notion of menstruation. This discomfort is indulged by a society that makes it okay to not talk about it and silences girls and women about a natural, bodily process. Making a joke of it, especially in an information-deprived environment actually propagates wrong notions. It also increases the shame factor that keeps the silent zone in place.

I think the heavy silence that lies around menstruation is dangerous. It gives men (and women) all kinds of wrong notions. I know men who think that having sex with a menstruating woman will kill her. I know women who use iPill as a regular contraceptive and I fear that one day they will bleed to death. (iPill is an emergency contraceptive that basically induces the period. Having a period more often than normal is not normal or good for the body.) I know men and women who think that painkillers can ‘solve’ the period. And I know men and women who think that contraceptives will ruin a woman’s child-bearing capacity.

Periods suck. They’re awful. I hate having them. Why should I not be allowed to rant about them? Why must I not be able to expect sympathy for strong nausea, blinding headaches, backache, stomach cramps and aching joints (on account of weakness due to blood loss, the doctor says)? Everyone gets sympathy when they face any one of these, don’t they? Why, when I have to have all of these together am I not accorded the same, just because it’s on account of my period? Never mind getting a day off to rest. The only people who will grant me that will also treat me as an untouchable, not allow me to pass by places of worship and create a huge hullabaloo if I reach for a bottle of pickles. Yes, this happens, even in 2014 Mumbai. It happens to me.

You know what talking about the above gets me? PMS jokes (which are period jokes in douchebag clothing, pun entirely unintended). I think PMS jokes are even more offensive. They don’t just spread ignorance like period jokes do. They also actively propogate demeaning women for natural body functions. They reaffirm the idea of women as shrieking banshees incapable of logic, sense or responsibility.

I have no problem with humour. But humour is only really funny when everyone (and not just the the person who makes the joke) gets that it is not serious. In the Susie joke, I think a lot of my classmates actually believed that a woman dancing during her period might leave puddles of blood behind on the floor. Think about what their attitudes would be towards the women in their life undertaking physical exertion during their periods?

So yes, we need to be able to talk about periods. What about period jokes? I’ll say they are okay the day it is permissible to sit around talking about menstruation as normally as we discuss Arnab Goswami and the next Salman Khan movie.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Update: I challenge every man reading this post, to go through this list. It’s creatively designed as a humour/horror quiz but is closer to the truth than most factual articles I’ve read. Go on, I dare you to read it through to the end.

The Taxonomy of Crushes

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Recently I tweeted about a funny guy crush, this being a crush on a funny guy.

“What other kind is there?”

this man demanded, daring me to write a blogpost about it. So here’s presenting the taxonomy of crushes.

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress and not comprehensive.

Type 1: The Normal Crush

This crush happens as a result of a steady diet of fairytales, romcoms and heavy doses of parental pressure to get married. The crushee may be:

  • Adarsh Bharatiya nari: Cooks well, prays, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher
  • A Good boy: Works for a prestigious company, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher

Type 2: The Refinement of Tastes Crush

This crush happens when the crusher is a bit older and has a sense of what he/she likes. Alternately this crush could happen early and set the tone for future crushes in his/her life. The crushee may be:

  • Funny man: This crush specifically occurs because the crusher is laughing hard and mistakes the surge of ‘happy’ chemicals to the brain, for love. That, plus a man on stage is hawt.
  • Independent woman: This crush may occur because the crusher unconsciously believes crushee will take care of him, the way mama did.

Type 3: Inaccessible Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher experiences a distance from the crushee and mistakes ensuing disappointment for affection. The crushee may be:

  • Hot Guy: Chiseled cheekbones, firm butt, broad shoulders – these always belong to a stranger who inhabits a different world from yours (usually a place of male facials, assistant directors and auditions). As crusher, you have nothing to say to him; you don’t have to. He is an object of beauty. Enjoy him.
  • The Celebrity: See above and add that they’re only ever visible on a digital screen. For the snooty intellectuals among you, your version spews words only on the digital screen or occasionally on paper (you old-fashioned thing).
  • Teacher/Boss: How kinky of you, you authority-loving crusher!

Type 4, Level 1: Forbidden Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher has been told to stay away from the crushee and confuses curiosity/rebellion for interest. The crushee may be:

  • Married: Specimens of this type surface ONLY after marriage (their marriage, that is). Maybe they were born married. But they’re cool, good-looking, loyal and….attached.
  • Partner/Ex of friend: Take the above and add an extra knife through your heart, because he’s married or in a relationship with your best friend. Now, even if they don’t work out, you’ll never be able to hit on him because he’ll become your friend’s ex.
  • Family member crush: Cousins, uncles (or aunts)….namely every member of the family tree except your own parents. Why the last disclaimer, you ask? Because that’s not a crush, that’s Oedipus and Elektra.

Type 4, Level 2: Bad idea Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher tells himself/herself to stay away from the crushee, has developed mild split personality disorder on account of excessive self-restraint and begins rebelling against himself/herself, thus confusing it all for interest. (see Type 4, Level 1 for an earlier stage of devolution). The crushee may be:

  • Frenemy: You *hate* them. You want to tear them apart. You want to sink poisonous fangs into them and crunch their bones. And umm…maybe you want to do them. Sigh, the drama of it.
  • Friend: NononononoABSOLUTELYNO! your mind is screaming. This is the stuff of romcoms. And regretful memories years later that began with ‘We used to be friends until umm…’. Beer should not be mixed with tequila or vodka.
  • Friend’s crush: BFFs share everything, don’t they? Not the man, uh uh. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Or bid your friendship goodbye.

Type 5: ‘WTF just happened?’ Crushes

This crush happens because life is random.

  • Hormone overdrive crush: Women can blame this on PMS (post and pre) and the period. Men blame this on, well, being men. *Shrug* It happens, that’s all.
  • Same sex crush (if you’re straight, the other way if you are): You were checking that girl out! Admit it, you have a man-crush. You’re left wondering what part fits where. Don’t bother. It’ll pass before you figure it out.
  • Sudden crush on familiar, mundane person: Hollywood could earn a third of their romcom revenues from this one situation alone. Cue a bright spotlight or sunlight that mysteriously shines only on one person in the entire street. They’re just saying hi back to you. Why are they shining so brightly? Maybe it’s just too much white balance or maybe they fell into a fairness cream ad.

Type 6, Level 1: Social Media Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers don’t get out enough, thus experiencing Vitamin D deficiency, which messes up their emotion-rationale processing system. The crushee is:

  • A Display Picture: The reason women’s profile picture changes get SO many likes is that women have figured out way ahead of men what their best angles, their most come-hither looks and flattering poses are. Men can do it too. Really, I’ve had dozens of DP crushes.
  • Tweets: Maybe you have to be a word lover for this but don’t you just lurrve, lurrve, lurrve some people’s tweets? Each new pearl-of-wisdom/wisecrack/random reflection brings on a fresh surge of happy chemical in your brain. For the non-verbally inclined, there’s always Instagram, Imgur, Flickr and Vimeo.

Type 6, Level 2: Ulta Crushes a.k.a. Backward Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers have reached the ultimate urbane lifestyle and are about to implode Fight Club style. (see Type 6, Level 2 for earlier stage in devolution). The crusher becomes inordinately obsessed with the attention of people who already provide him/her attention and mistakes this for attraction. The crushee may be:

  • Commenter/Liker: The reverse social media trail has been followed up; the fantasy is complete. Being liked is addictive; you want to be liked more and you like them for liking you.
  • Secret Santa: (This, I heard on the social media) They’re sending you gifts! How many crushes do that in real life???
  • Service Provider: He fixed your internet connection when it was down. She served you just what you were hoping for, in your dabba, twice last week. They’re always there! *Sigh* Isn’t that the stuff of happily-ever-after?

* Image courtesy stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.

Scared Of Nobody

A colleague said to me,

You don’t seem to be scared of me.

I replied,

I’m not scared of anybody.

And I spent the rest of the day pondering that.

You never quite realize how much you live under fear until you break free of it. Afraid of your bosses, afraid of the government, afraid of your loved ones, afraid of losing face, afraid of being taken advantage of.

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Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true. I used to be scared of a lot of people. Even if I never admitted it, fear sat like a solid line above my head. It’s not that I’ve learnt courage. It’s that the fear has seeped out or evaporated. Like every experience riddled a tiny hole inside me, through which fear leaked & eventually ran out.

If you’re a woman, you’ve grown up steeped in so much of fear, fear, fear – fear of confrontation, fear of opposition, fear of disapproval, fear of abandonment, fear of a bad reputation, fear of judgement, fear of men, fear of women – this lack of fear is quite exhilarating.

I think the biggest fear most women have, is of something irreversible happening. Loss-of-virginity, marriage to the wrong man, childbirth (or not, since you’ll never be that age again and the bio clock is ticking) all fall under this. The fear looms huge like a monster, keeping you from making a decision. And back to the biological clock thing, there’s the fear that not making a decision will turn out to be just as bad a decision and just as irreversible.

There’s a conversation in Gone with the wind where an older lady observes that Scarlett has lost her fear. She also says that it is not a good thing for a woman to lose her fear. Women’s fears are the foundation of our social order. What when they are lost?

I’m just coming to realize that brashness is a result of this loss of fear. I thought about my last serious relationship. If I had feared hurting him just a little more and cared a little less about things like truth and fairness, things may have been different. Head over heart and all that. Still, that’s bygones.

The upside of fearlessness is really all that. Tremendous power and the energy that comes with it. Fatigue, boredom and ennui are indications of powerlessness. I experienced a rush of power and I think that’s fueled by (and adds to) being able to say just what I want, when I want, to who I want.

When the heady high dies down, however a hollowness returns. Hello fear, old companion, you’re back. It feels different though. This is fear of the world changing, of nothing seeming the way I thought it would be. But losing fear is an irreversible process, one that embeds itself in you. Once you’ve broken through, you know you’ll always be able to, again.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, right? And that includes fear.

A World Of Pain

A thick sheet of plastic over a boiling cauldron of black, festering poison. That’s me. A year – that’s how long it takes to grow this.

I’ve been in a strange mood all month. I lost the entire month of February, being unwell, asleep and drifting in disoriented confusion through questions like,

“What are you going to do next?”

I don’t know and I don’t even know to explain how or why that is the case. Having been a burning force of desire all my life – bottomless want for a goal, an object, a person’s affections, an intangible like attention – has driven me and taken me to achievement as well as over the disappointment of not achieving. Now, I just feel empty. Desireless is dead, as far as I’m concerned.

But today somebody asked me, in a way that I had to answer because I knew the answer and I couldn’t lie,

“How are you?”

And all at once that non-biodegradable, suffocating sheet of plastic formed a little hole and a stream of blackish hurt came oozing out. I talked and talked. And he replied, stopping only when he saw a tear ooze out of my right eye. So I continued talking.

I’m so angry. I’m so, so angry.

I’m angry at myself for having being compassionate and kind and loving to somebody who only treated me with condescension, hostility and cruelty. I’m angry at the utter coldness that must have fueled this big tamasha that was done only to buy my silence for a few months more. I’m angry at the sheer viciousness that plotted setting me up in order to dump me publicly in the most humiliating, debilitating way possible.

I’m raging at so-called friends who shut me up by lecturing me on dignified silences, on the crassness of public whining and the censorship of my writing. I’m burning at the faceless groups of people who banded together with him, making my utter humiliation complete.

I’m seething at the roles of strength and endurance and patience and forgiveness and maturity that I’ve been forced into playing. I’m screaming at the gag orders, the handcuffs, the closed doors on and to my pain and expression.

I’m bursting with shame and indignation and fury at the thought of him speaking for women’s rights, against violence towards women, against homophobia. I’m biting on my tongue and choking back the bile when I hear about the accolades that his art gets when he performs ideas that I fought to bring into his consciousness, even words that were mine that he’s mouthing. So shamelessly. So remorselessly. So much without a conscience.

I’m beaten into submission by the sheer irony of life. A year to the day, he’s out celebrating accolades for something I first pushed him into pursuing. And surprise, surprise – it’s an event in honour of Women’s Rights. Life, you make me want to slit my wrists right now.

Is there no justice in the world? And if there isn’t, damn you for wanting me to crusade but only politely, for wanting me to champion causes being hypocritically championed by such offenders, for wanting me to be the Stepfordian crusader even as I bleed. Damn every single one of you.

I am in a world of pain, that’s how I am.

A Beautiful Man

I think it would be fair to say that in my choices in the opposite sex, I’ve been a ‘brains’ person, a girl who liked geeks. In those personality quiz thingies, my answers have leant in the direction of Einstein & Socrates rather than Brad Pitt & Adonis. My men have all been talkers, thinkers even but not exactly lookers.

This month I tried something different – a good-looking, handsome hunkish, visual treat of a man. He fits all the acceptable norms of male attractiveness. Height – check, long legs – check, sharp facial profile – check, full head of luxuriant hair – check, long graceful fingers – check, nice butt – ooh, check, check, CHECK! Complete nayansukh as the ladies who tweet would have it. Bonus points for a traffic-stopping strut and a deep, warm laugh. And let’s be honest, my brain did the checklist on this long after he was out of sight and after much detailed *ahem* perusal. When he’s around, the most it manages is,

“Ooh, that is one nice looking man, that is!”

Well, it is true that he also is a good conversationalist and has an interesting opinion on everything from movies and food to quantum theory and religion. That certainly explains our great conversations. But when I ask myself what I like best about him, I have to admit that it’s that he’s so darn easy on the eyes.

RODIN'S "THE THINKER"

RODIN’S “THE THINKER” (Photo credit: happy via)

For the first time in my life, I’m completely okay with it. He is so much *not* my usual type but I think I’ve had enough of heartbreak and drama from that type. Well, actually never mind the justification, who needs one to marvel at a piece of human beauty? It’s infinitely pleasurable and damn the accusations of shallowness. My eyes need as much nourishment as my brain, I’ve decided, and my brain gets more than adequate stimulation.

I wonder if I’m being disrespectful or condescending. After all, I would not like a man to think of me this way. On the other hand, I’m utterly frank in my open admiration of this man, not the kind of behaviour most women exhibit to most men. Is that not a sign of being treated differently, even specially? This association is too nascent and we’re too new to each other at the moment. But I could learn to savour this beauty; I am a lover of art after all. And then my interest which turned to admiration may turn to worshipful devotion too. Why should that be any less meaningful than the respect of the intellect? Both are things that human beings are born with, after all.

We are with other people because ultimately, they fulfil some need in us – companionship, boredom, respect, relatableness etc. If one can be entertained, charmed and even made happy by watching a movie, if one can be inspired by great art, why may it not be plausible that a perfectly satisfactory time may be spent with someone who pleases your eyes instead of your ears?

I’m still trying to decide whether my behaviour is decidedly regressive or aggressively feminist. Do tell.

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