Tag Archives: Fiction

Saturdays with you.

When we were three and five respectively, our parents introduced us. Our dads were friends in college, you see? And our mums neighbours. I hated you the minute we met because you pulled my hair. But our parents loved playing rummy and disregarded us like they disregard children. 

We went on beach days every Summer, and on vacations together. We knew each other’s grandparents, and cut the other’s birthday cakes. You were my way into the school’s who’s who in high school, and I hated the three years we spent apart when you moved to another city, till I followed you there.

But my favourite memories will always be Saturdays with you. Eating breakfast at mine and dinner at yours. Our little sleepovers. Our little fights. The first time we kissed. The first time you fell in love with my best friend. The first time you met my crush on a double date, and you telling me to stay away from assholes who gaslight. 

My favourite memories are Saturdays with you. My best friend, my soulmate.


Domino.

Your haughty arrogance, and your sharp demeanor would render everyone insipid. Your sharp edges, and your pointed looks, your unshaken spirit, and your straight, unsmiling lips are masks they wish to bare open. They look at your dark patches and wish to scribble colour into them.

Unbeknownst to you, they try to scratch your surface and tear open barely healed wounds. They scar you and scare you. They make a spectacle out of your polished quite, and push you believing it a grand joke you’ve orchestrated. Seemingly unhurt, you try to retreat, but they have chained you with expectations you’re now honourbound to fulfill.

They don’t know you, darling. The struggle to open your eyes in the morning, and brace yourself. They don’t know you’re hardened against the tide of uncertainty, and hopelessness. They don’t know the scars you hide underneath your fancy suits, or the crescent moon on both your beautiful wrists. They don’t know that your laughter once meant joy and life, not just obligations, and pretence. They don’t know that you’re drowning and you’re shattering, and your greatest struggle is to load the dishwasher, and doing your laundry, and driving to work, and not deciphering stock values, or doing that extra credit assignment, or writing codes for the most complex programs.

Because to them you’re playing the hard-to-get game till they have drawn you out. But, they don’t know that your dark patches came from an amalgamation of different hues, drawn over and over and over.


Reading The Handmaid’s Tale in a Dystopian World

I have never enjoyed reading dystopian fiction much. Everything seems broodish, and sad, and even though they are stories of a reincarnated world, they are dark and honestly, terrifying.
I remember going into a reading slump after 1984, for example.

I’d heard vaguely of The Handmaid’s Tale. But it was never on my Goodreads Want to Read list. I never actively seeked it out or planned to read it. But somehow I did, at a whim.
I regret reading it.

Whether it be Offred’s mother being a protesting Feminist, who rallied for equal rights and everything a 70s Feminist rallied for, or it be Moira being everything that she was, or it be Offred taking things for granted- inheriting a world her mother had struggled to create, or it be Luke, who was frustratingly passive about everything and Offred supporting it nevertheless because “love”, every string of the story hit me hard.
I really shouldn’t have read it.

The story seems the farthest from fiction, if there ever was one. In the current political climate of Men’s Rights Activism, and Who Wore it Better?, and Good Girls don’ts, and Rape Muslim Women, and Grab ‘Em by the Pussy and Give Him a Chance, and Boys will be Boys, I don’t know whom to trust to bring about change.

I know Steven Pinker tells me we are better off than we ever were in the h eistory of humanity. I know game theory and evolutionary biology tells me the story of evolution of cooperation – how it is a non zero sum game- everyone is better off when we cooperate. I believe in that too. Of course, I do. And of course we’re better off than we were before. But we’re not quite there yet, are we? And we need to be. We need to create a world in which equality is the status quo. Respect for everybody. Is that really too much to ask for? Is it really not the most fundamental thing to aspire for? So we can all quote statistics about how we’re better off, and thank God for that. But we need to aspire higher.
The more I realize this, the more I think that I shouldn’t have read it.

I shouldn’t have read Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, because it’s too real. I wonder who will stand up for me if I go through it. I think all the men I personally know might just allow it. It’s the way it is. What to do?, they’ll all say. Ignorant is not the same as ignoring, but I think ignoring is much worse, and I think a lot of the boys I know will ignore. As they are doing now. Give this a chance, they’ll say. This way is better. “Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.” Right?

I shouldn’t have read the book because it makes me realise that the revolution I thought is coming is far, far away. I might not even be alive. And the temporal distance is scary. The princess may not be able to save herself in this one. Because she’s blinkered away and there are systems in place to keep her blinkered, and to keep her silent. And if such a time comes, there is not going to be someone to stop it.

I see Luke, and The Commander, and Aunt Lydias in this world. I know one of each in my world, and I keep wondering what I have been thinking of since I know of these things– Why aren’t we standing up against it, even now? After all this time?