Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Awakening

As a young Egyptian truck-driver smiles broadly in front of a CNN camera, talking animatedly about his daredevil stunt of procuring food supplies by-passing groups of armed pro-Mubarak supporters on his way to the other side of Cairo, I experience a sudden rush of hope.
It has already been 16 days. People have left the comfort of their homes, company of their loved ones, security of their everyday routine-bound lives, shunned the way of non-action and plunged headlong into the struggle for change. And despite the prevailing stalemate that continues to endanger the future of the entire nation, they aren't backing out.
I'm just another observer, maybe sometimes even a shameless voyeur, keeping track of every new development not too unlike the news-hungry journalists who have trickled in from all sides of the world. But whatever the reason might be, I'm awed. The unfolding spectacle of a generation of people, oppressed and restrained, finally taking a stand against injustice, bias and bad governance is a sight to behold.
Years ago I had heard about Persepolis, known about the persecution of women in countries of the Middle-East and felt rage like no other. A married woman being sentenced to death by stoning on 'charges of adultery' or a blogger being jailed for 4 years for criticizing his religion and the reigning President in a blog post - these incidents have only served to highlight the pitiable state of human rights in Iran and Egypt.

Every time I'd come across such news I'd thank my stars for having been born in a country which respects the right to free speech and freedom of expression. A country which maybe plagued by a million disputes of varying nature, but which doesn't force the owner of a blog to register his/her web-page with the government or procure a license for blogging.
Complacency is a bad disease. It numbs emotions like discontent and outrage and urges one to just give in.
But for how long?  



It is human nature to be weak. But then again it is human nature to rebel. To cry out aloud if one is in pain. To take to the streets in order to shout a protest. To defy unjustly imposed curfews. To risk one's life for a greater cause.

The repeated 'Go Mubarak' slogans echoed by a million protesters in the heart of Tahrir Square, may just go in vain. Hosni Mubarak, the man who doesn't realize the simple fact that it is the people who make a country and not the other way round ('I don't care about what people say about me...right now I care about my country'), may refuse to see sense. A noble quest for freedom from oppression may end in failure.

But even so it won't mean defeat. For the voice of the people has already been heard. Loud and clear. The world is watching closely and the world is drawing strength. Protests in Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that wrong-doings of an autocracy can't or rather won't be tolerated for too long.

 "There is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom."
                                                                                        - Liu Xiaobo

And while Egypt continues to stick to its demands resolutely, I pray for the release of a Nobel Laureate who is being wrongly incarcerated a million miles away in another side of the world. And I pray for his countrymen to awaken too.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bittersweet life

KING This post is published as an entry for the KING AND QUEEN OF 55F CONTEST – The first ever unique, challenge for the coveted title in micro fiction category. To catch the crowning moments and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai



Rules of the contest:
  • You have to write a set of three 55F.
  • The first two sets should be a story on its own.
  • The  two stories should  climax / conclude / inter-twine in the third set of 55F.
  • The story could be of any genre i.e, love, crime, mystery or thriller etc.



Departure

It was the happiest day of his life. He rushed home without a moment's delay. He had to tell her first. When he turned the door-knob of his apartment and stepped inside the living room, she was already there. Wearing a sad smile on her face, a suitcase in tow she said  "Honey, I'm leaving."
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Fate

15 years of tireless work in poverty-stricken Sudan and Nigeria had taught her a lot. She had learnt to be patient and to keep her emotions in check. But nothing could’ve prepared her for this. UNESCO was about to send Kirti to India.
Back to the place she had vowed never to return to.
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The Beginning

Old and frail, diseased and wounded. It was always easy for her to help these complete strangers with a smile. But not today. Horrified, Kirti clamped both her hands over her mouth, staring at the vacant expression of the man bound to a wheel-chair. 
The man she had once deserted to follow her heart.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The V-word

And suddenly 'the season' is back with a vengeance in all its glory of newspaper pages crammed with dozens of ads on which place is offering you the biggest discount on purchase of cute heart-shaped cushions and cuddly teddy bears. The malls are overflowing with couples who don't discriminate between the escalators or inside of a book-store while considering probable places of cuddling up and getting touchy-feely. You are viewing too many number of billboards emphasizing the color red every time you're stepping outside the confines of your apartment. Your cell-phone inbox is being mercilessly spammed by messages such as 'Check your love compatibility' or 'Gift your partner with random thingamabob at blabbity-blah discount' and you're barely containing your urge to hurl the damn thing against the wall every time your phone informs you of an incoming text message.
Yes it is back indeed. The season of soapy mushiness and bubblegum pinkness. The V-day season, in other words.

Don't have a Valentine yet? You poor dear!
You're more unfortunate than an unsuspecting television viewer, watching Comedy Circus on Sony for the first time.
Don't stare into empty space you wanker! This is no time for being so complacent. Go woo that pretty girl in college, who is still single by a sheer stroke of good luck. How long do you think will it take for some creep to come along knocking on her door? I can already see people queuing up on her porch. And for God's sake don't use any of the tweets trending under the hash-tag of #bestpickuplines on her. She is more intelligent and net-savvy than you think she is.


Have a Valentine already? Woo hoo you the man!
But having a girl ain't enough. Have you started saving up on your allowance you dimwit? Who will pay for that bouquet of red carnations in these times when people are possibly making plans of stashing their bank account lockers with kilos of onions? Do you have the courage to go up to your dad with a pouting chest and hoodwink him into believing that you're actually in dire need of money for tuitions?
Forget the bouquet. Reserve that restaurant table first. And what about that ring with a diamond, the size of a grain of sand? Isn't that worth a year's beer+cigarettes+porn DVD rentals?

Penniless? Well the shopping malls and multiplexes were inducted into the "Hall of 21st century living" with just your deplorable condition in view. I mean, food-courts are totally affordable. Besides it's not that big a deal if you find a strand of hair floating in your raita once in a while.
So now we've considered all possibilities for your V-day preparations right? Let's look through them once again.

Girlfriend/Boyfriend-Check
Ripping dad off-Check
Minimizing the month's expenses-Check
Facebook account for uploading pictures-Check
 
What? there's still something left?
Oh yes of course! How can I forget?
Last piece of V-day gyan : Be good to her. Be VERY good to her. You may just get some at night.

P.S: No it's not essential for you to know the history of Valentine's day in order to impress her. I mean c'mon, who the hell cares about some dead Roman saint? Half of that story is considered myth anyway. Burning a hole in your pocket on the 14th of February, is all that really counts.
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