Tag Archives: reflection

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?


On belief and karma

Dear Universe,

Hi. What’s up? It feels like I haven’t talked to you in a while. Everything okay? Seems like you’re taking offence in my calloused way of living life. Like the listlessness oozing out of my pores is running in my blood. But you know what? It’s about as real as Trump’s intelligence. 

When you gave me blow number one, I was fine with it. It wasn’t terrible. I had a great run for the past year, so one isn’t going to bring me down. Then you gave me blow number two, and that was rough. It was huge, it was hard, it was not mellow. But I got through it, because, hey, I still have things left to worry about. So I displaced the anxiety and turned it inwards, and helped myself grow. The blow was just fading out, when you gave me blow number three. Oh well, I should have seen it coming. All the signs were there, if I had looked a bit clearly; if I had thought it were possible, if I hadn’t thought myself immune. It stared right into my face and yet, it was a blow. And then there was the breaking down. I cried so much. I wish it would all stop and I get to go forward in my life where uncertainty didn’t rule. I wished for something happier- a white dove, instead of the messenger pigeon. Come on, about time that something good happened right? So I kept a low profile.

Then came blow four. And oh man! I wanted to jump off the six floors of that building, as I texted everyone how much everything sucks. And it did. It did so much. I wish there were enough alcohol in the world to numb that pain, but of course I’m too broke for that. 

I wish this were all a dream, a nightmare. But I know it isn’t. But I’ve also not woken up from this dream. It still doesn’t feel real. It feels like it’s going to go away, and the sun will shine down and it will be a beautiful day. It feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I just have to scrape till I reach that point. But shit. How to scrape? 

And what if there’s no light? What if there’s more chaos, and deep shit? What if this is only the beginning and a lot more crap is to come before the actual light? What if it takes months, nay, years, before the light presents itself? What if friends don’t want to stay friends? What if I’m not smart enough to rely on my brain? What if I’m not empathetic enough to rely on my emotion? What if I go dark into the abyss and that’s it? 

Dear Universe, I believe in you. I believe in good things and good people and I believe that everything will be okay. I believe in happy endings and making my own happy ending. Please don’t take this belief away from me. It’s been a terribly crappy month and I have never felt this much anxiety for such a long time. Just stop?


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 honour-bound 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.