A milestone

When I was about 13, I decided I wanted to write—to be a published novelist.

Then life happened. Luckily, however, I still wanted to write. That’s how this blog came about, and ever since I’ve been writing plenty of self-declared short stories, opinions, random musings, and travel thoughts.

Moving to Canberra took my writing to a whole new level. I joined a writers group, and thanks to being exposed to incredible poetic talent, the embers of my poetry began to flare up. As a result, I’ve been writing and experimenting a lot with free verse poetic forms.

Now I’m super thrilled and proud to say that with the help of my incredible writers group, I’ve managed to get in on an anthology of womxn’s poetry from all over the world.

Published by Animal Heart Press, the book is called From The Ashes. It’s co-edited by Amanda McLeod and Mela Blust.

Preorder the book here

What’s the point of seasonal campaigns?

It’s rather an important day in the world of marketing. Major brands across the world convene months of planning and hard work while smaller brands collate rushed last-minute efforts to make a splash. The reason? Today is International Women’s Day.

Although most of the world is unaware of the importance of this specific day, India—where I live—is outspoken and even unashamed in promoting it. Of course, it’s convenient that it falls right within the much bigger topic of trend: Women’s History Month.

Workplaces, media outlets, social media channels are all sharing the spirit of encouraging and empowering women. And because most brands that do so, do so only to news jack and ride the trending wave, the hoopla often seems fake to me. As a result, those who’re sincere get bogged down by bright and flashy banners on social media that slap a woman’s face on it to gain viral status. As someone working in online marketing myself, I see a company’s desire for branding attention. As a passive internet observer, however, I find it annoying and futile to spend so much time and energy into one day.

No point of doing it just for the sake of doing it.

Regardless of my personal beliefs, though, brands will advocate women. Not that it’s wrong, but it feels so wrong to do it just for today rather than any other day.

It’s like the Me Too movement. Every waking day was painful as I saw revelations from so many folk I’d appreciated in the past. People for whom I wasted my time in theatres or on movie marathons were all abusers.

That’s when I realised how petty and insignificant those movies are. But that was all. About five months down the road now, not many care as much as they did then. They’ve moved on. Nothing about the Me Too movement or the cases against the celebrities came up in the Oscars. Everyone spoke to each other and of each other with fondness and compassion—where’s the fierce determination that had broken the internet a few months ago?

Poof.

Every trend has its end. Women’s issues, empowerment, girls’ education are all great topics to pursue. If only we pursue them instead of just perusing them.

Restrictions

“As quoted above, the directors of the board, in a unanimous decision, have agreed to terminate the alleged accusations placed on it by the self-proclaimed advocates of rights. It is hereby declared that any individual or group, with our without legal advice, can no longer seek or demand the permission of the board or any other decision-level authority for additional time off of premises for purposes including, by not limited to, spring breaks or bearing offsprings.”

Huh?

“Sorry miss,” Julia’s supervisor sighed before raising his voice over the din of machines and hum of laboured men, “No maternity leave here.”

The determinant

“You’ve been up all night?” Asked Andrew. “You don’t have to work so hard, you know.” Esther’s colleague had popped into her workspace with his chai latte. She didn’t reply right away. She was focussed on the micro organisms, and trying to discern a behavioural pattern.

“Well, it’s my job, Andrew.” She replied tearing her tired eyes from the microscope and rubbing them with her fingers. “But you’re right, I should get home. See what the kids are up to.”

“Damn straight I’m right.” Andrew bobbed his head raising his latte as a gesture to her.

“You’re a single mom, you don’t have to hustle so much. Why don’t you get your ex-husband to split finances with you? You’re raising the kids, and it’s only fair that he does his duty as father and man.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” Esther raised her eyebrows at Andrew. She was tired, but not unstable. She knew what he hinted at.

“Well, it’s the man’s duty to bring home the money. You don’t have to.” He shrugged. Esther’s expression hardened. Andrew didn’t realise what he was saying.

“I’m a scientist, Andrew. I won’t compromise my duty just because I’m a woman.”

As Woolf said

Virginia Woolf said that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she’s to write fiction. Here’s how I take it: For a woman to succeed — or get any work done that’s worth talking about — she needs to have a room of her own.

When I first told my parents that I wanted to find a place of my own, they refused outright even before considering my concerns. I don’t blame them; they’ve become conditioned to believing that every girl moving into the city for work or going off to college needs a roommate who can watch out for her. And I don’t deny that’s every bit as true and that their worry is as every bit as valid.

Except that I wanted a room of my own.

Having lived all my life in a shared space, both with my parents and then with my brother, I craved something that I could call mine. It didn’t happen right away, and I ended up spending my first two years away from home in a shared home and hostel.

Now, at last, I have a room of my own. And I see what Woolf intended.

Every time I walk into my room, I walk into a space that looks and feels just the way I want it to. My clothes are right where I leave them — one day on the floor, another day on the shelf. My toothbrush nuzzles between my pyjamas so that I have to fish it out every evening, a small jar of ground coffee perches on the top shelf, pleading with me in silence for a coffee date. And the book I’m reading at the moment lies on top my favourite shirt, the sleeves clouding the title.

When I walk into such a sight after a long day at work, I have only thing in mind: there’s no place else I’d rather spend the rest of my evening.

When I first moved in, I didn’t know how having a room for myself would change me. I didn’t know that I would enjoy the sunlight streaming into my room through the thin yellow blinds, I didn’t know I’d wake up every morning feeling enthusiastic to face the world, and I didn’t know that I’d come to rely so much on the non-decorative, cream-coloured walls of my room to comfort and hold me whenever, regardless of my mood.

It’s been just over a year now, and even though I’m not the best tenant to the room, the room — my room — has been the perfect host.

There’s nothing special about my room. There’s no wallpaper, no posters of Hollywood actors eyeing me, no streamers or balloons to incite the neighbour’s kids.

My room is so plain that anyone but me wouldn’t want to live here. The mattress is my furniture, the floor my dining table, the shelf my pantry, and the doorknob my clothes hanger. In short, my room has become my abode, a place where I can think outside of my head, wake up at 2.50 am to write, and let my creativity run amok without a person to judge.

I enjoy going out, but at the end of it all, all I want is to come back to my room and stare at my walls. Or read a book with a coffee by my side. Nothing makes my day more complete.