What I Have With You, I Don’t Want With Anyone Else

There is a woman in my life. We talk daily, for hours. She shares everything with me, and so do I. She is probably the only person I can blindly rely on. She has my back, always. When she is hurt, I cry more than her. If I am disturbed, she cannot sleep at night. She knows me so well that she can sense my mood. No matter how much I try, I can never hide my feelings and fears from her. As long as I have her by my side, I know nothing can go wrong. And if things go sideways, she is always there with a solution. She is the smartest woman I know.

Life is fun with her. We roam around the streets of Delhi. Try new places to eat. Sit for hours in McDonald’s or CCD and talk. She tells me stories about her neighbours and her pet. Time seems to move so fast when I am with her. An hour seems like a mere minute. She takes me with her wherever she goes- be it to the doctor or grocery shopping.

She knows how I feel about the people in my life. She can even predict my thoughts. She is my secret keeper. My personal diary, of sorts. The best part, she has never let me down and she would never. My secrets are safe with her. I am safe with her.

Whenever I go to her place, she makes my favourites- Matar Paneer and Raita. One of the many ways she shows me how lucky I am to have her. She knows how much I love watermelons. She already has a big bowl full of watermelon in the refrigerator for me before I even reach!

I lost my mother at a very tender age. I was lonely and desperate. I did not know how to face this world. She came to my rescue and held my hand. I cried on phone for hours when I missed Maa. She calmed me down and made me realize that I am not alone. She showered all her love on me. She has some magic in her. Even after years, she has the same serene effect on me. She practically brought me up despite being miles away. She nurtured me, too. She instilled in me a sense of security which no one else ever could. She dedicated her life to me. She protected me like a tigress looks after her cubs. Dare anyone lay a finger on me! That is why Baba calls her “Dabang”!

She may be Dabang, but she is also the most compassionate person on this whole wide world. So generous and caring! There are no bounds to her love. She helps as many people as she can. She never says no to any needy person. She always smiles and gives. I have not seen a human with a bigger heart. She is a beautiful soul. She is a misfit for these selfish and gluttonous times. Whatever I say about her would only be an understatement. Words can never be enough!

She is my bosom friend, I am hers. She is my companion, I am hers. She is my soulmate, I am hers. She is my prized possession, I am hers. I forget all my worries and fears around her. She is the happiest with me. I know her deepest, darkest secrets and she knows mine. She loves me with all her heart. I love her with everything I have. She cares for me more than a mother cares for her newborn baby. She is wonderful. I look upto her. She is my role model, the ideal woman, the embodiment of all that I want to be one day. She is my silver lining. She is the light that always guides me home and ignites my soul. She is my closest, my dearest, someone I cannot imagine my life without- my Nani!




A Jumbled Rant

Present time is eternal. It is inaccessible to empirical consciousness and knowledge. One knows about time as “yesterday” and “tomorrow” but today seems to be unending.

Time is the double headed monster of damnation and salvation. Today will soon become yesterday. It cannot come back, except in memory. And human memory is fragmented and faltering.
This is the paradox of time. There is no escape from time except through memory. Time is inexorable.

Our relationship to this double headed monster is that of horror: the realization that time flies, that it takes it’s toll on us, that it will destroy us and bring death. Only way to negate this horror is through habit. Habit fixes time. It is a comfort, a way to cope with the struggles, sufferings and voids of human life.

Habit is a dual entity. It stops us from searching and seeking the purpose of life, inhibits us from asking important metaphysical questions.

Habit is invoked so that we stop ourselves from feeling any guilt or horror of the wrongs done by our ancestors. We have to shoulder the responsibility of the acts of horror carried out by our ancestors. Once we acknowledge this, we can overcome the guilt. Salvation is not possible without acknowledgement of guilt. Acknowledgement of the alienation of human life is the next step.

The answer to all barbarism can be found within humanity. Human beings are capable of restoring what has been destroyed.

Meaning of our seemingly purpose-less life can be found within the human community, in relation to other humans. The disease of human life is loneliness.

The ultimate truth of life: humans are born alone and they die alone.


To begin with, I love you all a lot! Each and every one of you holds a special place in my life. I have had amazing time with you. The memories we have made together will always be cherished by me. And when I say always, I mean it, you know. We may have had our set of issues. And who doesn’t? Or, we may just have drifted apart due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. But, this mortal being will never cease admiring you.

I know I have been a crappy friend to quite a few of you. I am snobbish at times, always irritated and what not. I must have done something tremendously remarkable to have friends like you! I may have been mean to you at times. I may have said or done things that are damn hurtful. I may have not been there for you when you needed me the most. I may have believed hearsay over you. I may have mistrusted you or broken your trust, for that matter. I am guilty of being a bitch at times and I am apologetic for that. I am sorry! I am sorry for being selfish. I am sorry for hurting you. I am sorry for letting you down. I am sorry for being a pain in your ass. Trust me when I say this, I regret letting you go. I will do all that I can to make up to you. Broken relationships are hard to fix, they say. But come on, everybody deserves a second innings!

In the words of a wise woman-“It’s not about people, it’s about circumstances”. We just drifted apart due to “situations”. But again, my affection and attachment for you will never lessen! We could totally pick up where we left off. It is mutual, actually, because neither of us have the time to do so. We all are so freaking busy with our todays and tomorrows that we have not a while to spare for our yesterdays! And that is not wrong at all because of the highly competitive times we live in. Life has actually become a “race”; and “if you don’t run, you will be like a broken anda”.

I have cherished all the moments spent with each one of you. I can’t forget that after spending 5-6 hours together in school, we had so much more to talk that we called each other up and spoke hours at stretch! Our day spends and all-nighters were so much fun! I still have sheets of paper with song lyrics written on them, which we would curate as internet was not the in-thing back then! And when the cool thing in town was texting, not WhatsApp, we used to SMS each other the lyrics of Kolaveri Di! We don’t even have to do anything to spend time. It just passes by sitting in my balcony for hours and reading comments on other people’s pictures on social media and wondering where the world is headed to with such morons in it. Sharing the room in hostels, helping each other with hiding phones during random checks in boarding school, sitting in the sun and studying together during exams, bitching about people, listening to Govinda songs at midnight, playing pranks on people, bunking classes to grab some food(or for no reason at all!), sitting in the library and brooding over what some scholar has written, standing in the balcony and discussing existential crisis, drinking umpteen cups of tea and coffee, cooking for each other, going on aimless Metro rides when bored, going for midnight walks, and what not have we done together! So much has gone between us. We have shared happy times. We stood by each other when no one did.

They say that old friends are the most valuable antiques and I cannot agree more. You can be your true crazy self with them and they will join you in your craziness. You don’t need to have common interests with people you know for the 3 or 4 or 5 years. You have those years in common. You have a whole part of your lives in common. And in the times of utter despair, you go back to the people who were there for you once.

Today, I make a promise to you all. I will always be there for you, in both perilous and good times. I will never push any of you away. You have been not just important, but necessary, parts of my life. I will always care for you and love you. I will stay by your side and never let you go astray. I will endure through all those tantrums and mood swings and heart break stories a zillion times, and still hold on to you.

I am not ready to give up on our friendship, not today, not ever! I hope you aren’t too.

Fare Thee Well, Home!

After 20 odd cups of black tea and coffee and an all-nighter, they were ready to leave the place that had been their home. For her, that place was the only home she knew from her birth which made leaving it worse! She realized how difficult it would be for him. The place had been his abode for more than 40 years. More than leaving the place, what worried her was how it affected him. She could not even begin to imagine what was going on his mind. He had spent, practically, his whole life there! He had countless memories- good and bad. It was a brave step, a decision that only a person with fortitude could take.

The place they were going to now, their new home, was a totally different world with a lifestyle so unlike both of them were used to! She was confused and anxious. She had panic attacks while the packers were packing their things. Their home was a house again once the packers left. The emptiness of the house was eating her up. The slightest of sound echoed through the whole house. She needed to vent her feelings, she needed someone to lean back on. She tried to be strong, for him because he needed her. It took her a lot of effort to keep herself calm. She pushed her anxiety somewhere deep down, in some corner of her heart. She managed to put on a smile, she was a good actor.


He was obviously stronger than her, and far more stressed! He was distressed because he knew how hard it was for her to cope with the situation. Not for a second did he show his anxiety to her. He was a better actor. He was leaving behind the place that gave him all that he ever wanted and needed in his life. But, no display of emotions at all. He tried to be strong, for her because she needed him. It took him a lot more efforts than her to keep his cool. He shoved all his worries away. He needed to express, but he chose not to. He managed to appear tranquil.

40 years ago, he came to this place with a trunk full of things and a mind full of uncertainties. 40 years later, he was leaving with a truck full of things (and that trunk too), a heart full of memories that would make him nostalgic for the years to come, and a mind full of the same uncertainties he came with!



Teaching in India ?

I completed my class Xth in 2010-11 and opted to study in a boarding school. I was interviewed by the Principal of that boarding school. She asked me that what do I see myself as 10 years down the lane. I told her I wanted to be a teacher – a teacher of English Literature in some college or university. I had it all sorted out back then. Little did I know that three years in college would make me dwindle on this career choice of mine.

Teaching is not just a profession. Teaching is responsibility – your responsibility towards the next generation of your country to shape their future. It is a commitment, a commitment to your country, a commitment to your subject, and, a commitment to your students. By teaching, I do not imply the mere dissemination of information. Rather, it involves motivation and inspiration, and thereby, alleviation. It involves the process of sharing knowledge in a social setup which is bombarded with “information and facts”. Knowledge goes much beyond “information and facts” and encompasses human values, cultures and traditions, good citizenship and a plethora of such ideas and ideologies that shape the human civilization. Knowledge increases when it is shared. And what can be a better medium of imparting knowledge than teaching ?

People are worried about brain drain. And rightly so, after all a majority of the best of India’s brain are working outside India, contributing to the economy of “other” countries. If I am right, which I might be, seeing the present condition of the highly qualified youth who want to opt for University teaching, in the coming decade there will be a dirth of teachers in India’s “public universities”. The next brain drain will not encompass doctors or engineers, it will encompass teachers.

In the three years of college, I have seen extremely talented and motivating individuals who are ad-hoc teachers. I joined the college when they were appointed as ad-hocs. I have graduated now but they are still ad-hocs, maybe in some other college of the University. Many more batches of students will pass out, but they will still be ad-hocs. Their students will get equally qualified and join them as their colleagues in the ad-hoc culture of the University.

There are, no doubt, many private institutions that are ready to give these ad-hocs what the public sector universities have been unable to give – a permanent position in the respective departments. Some may take up these opportunities after being fed up of being ad-hocs for 10-15 years. Some of those who have high saturation points may stay longer, hoping that someday they will be recognized by the administrators as one of their own, that someday this second grade treatment will stop. Futile. Kumbhakaran can wake up from his “nidra” once in six months. Will the administration of these prestigious global universities ever wake up ? I have serious doubts. Devoid of any rights and privileges, the ad-hocs are like “second class citizens”. It is a whole new system of Apartheid.

Some institutes, a selective few indeed, have however been a bit easy on them. Providing ad-hocs with most of the perks, they make the group feel like a permanent part of the institutes. But, as soon as the ad-hocs begin to feel secure and comfortable, they are bombarded with multitudes of extra-curricular and departmental work load. You pay them minimum wages, you put excruciatingly enormous workload on them, but you keep them happy by the superficial perks. The Utopian Capitalistic dream is not a dream anymore. It is a reality, here, in our country’s best institutions. But, don’t  we say in the Preamble to our Constitution that we are “socialists” and that we will “secure to all the citizens EQUALITY”? Maybe my understanding of these concepts is flawed then! But, if I am right, does it not mean that the current situation is against our Constitution, or if I may put it that way, UNCONSTITUTIONAL ?

Recently, 13 ad-hocs were terminated from Miranda House with one day’s notice. Are they daily wagers that you can dismiss them without even citing a proper reason ? They are the intellectuals of the society, some of the best brains of the country. Those who are familiar with Gramsci would know the importance of intellectuals in the development of a society. If a social setup treats their intellectuals like herds of cows and goats, I shudder to think of the future of that society.

Honestly, I am scared to join this system and so are many of my friends. We will always just be a number. Students won’t even remember who is NP4 or NP5. That will add on the humiliation of being interviewed again and again after every 3-4 months for the same post, in the same institute. The zeal will subside eventually. We will realize the futility of staying in such institutes and some of us will move out of this system with better opportunities. Those who won’t, will continue to face the torment. How long will they be able to keep it together, though ? Not too long.

From an anonymous frustrated Indian- “The ad-hoc system/culture is a nice initiative taken towards the culling and killing of the intelligentsia of India.”


Some say

I resemble her,

I am her reflection

Some others say

I am her polar

My habits

Are like her,

I got her intelligence.

They said

He takes the good souls away

To make a better heaven,

And as it is in Heaven

So shall be on Earth

But, what shall be on Earth

When all good souls are gone ?

Apocalypse ?

I find no solace

When you bluntly

Tell me that

Atleast I have my father,

That there are children

Who have no parent,

That there are children

Who are all alone,

That I am lucky because

I have a roof on my head,

I have a father

Who loves, cares and provides for me,

There is someone who can sustain me,

Someone who can fulfill my demands,

Someone to talk to,

Someone to depend on,

A family.

I find no solace

When you tell me about

All that your mother does for you,

How much she loves you,

She means the world to you,

You love her to the moon and back.

I find no solace because

I feel deprived,

I don’t have memories to cherish

Like you do,

My memories are bitter and sad

My memories are painful and terrible.

I am not jealous of you

But I can’t relate to you

Just the way

You can’t relate to

What I have been going through.

It is easy to say

You have your father,

But however good he be,

A father can never be a mother.

I have learnt to live alone

I have learnt to do things on my own

Years have passed

Her absence still haunts me

Her void can never be filled.

I cannot remember

What she looked like

Unless I see her pictures

The recollection is not easy

There are very few memories

She closed her eyes


Long time ago

But I am afraid

To lose her again

To let her slip off my brain.

You want me to suck it all up

Gulp it all done

And move on.

How ?

How do I forget

The pain in her eyes

The coldness of her body

The fire fron her pyre

The garlands on her picture

How do I let it all go ?

How do I bury it all in me ?


Child Rights – An Issue Long Neglected

In a number of villages of Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh, children have been dying since 2006 because of malnutrition. Running schools, nutritious food and health camps are a rarity there.
• On the streets of Guwahati, there are thousands of children outside the reach of normal schooling system. Most must work to make both the ends meet. The numbers are much worse in many of the bigger cities.
• For her childish pranks, domestic servant Sonu was tortured, tied up and left to bleed to death.
• HIV positive school children are being thrown out of schools in Uttar Pradesh.
• Nearly 50%of all child deaths in India are due to malnutrition. Nearly 45 million children in the age group of 5-14 years are neither at work nor at school.


These incidents that I have mentioned are just a few of the thousands of incidences of lost childhood and the lost child in India. Even after 62 years of Independence, childhood for a large section of Indian children is labour, abuse, exploitation, no school, no play, no water, no medicines and hardly any food even.


Childhood is the age of freedom, learning, innocence, happiness, trust, hope and of love. The children are the most vulnerable in the society. “All children are born with fundamental freedom”- says the United Nation’s Charter of Child Rights.

However in the context of child rights, the very basic question which arises in our minds is “WHO IS A CHILD?” The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines children as persons below the age of 18. But under Indian legal system, there is no uniformly fixed age of a child. It depends upon the context and law to be applied to particular children.

Children’s Action 1999 states, “To guarantee the human rights of a child is to invest in the future.

The United Nation’s Charter provides for four basic rights of all children of the world, irrespective of their caste, creed, race, colour, gender, religion or any other status. These are:

1. THE RIGHT TO SURVIVAL which includes life, health, nutrition, name, and nationality.
2. THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT including education, care, leisure, and recreation.
3. THE RIGHT TO PROTECTION from exploitation, abuse, and neglect.
4. THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION that is to expression, information, and thoughts.

It is up to the Government and Society to ensure these rights. And then all children will have a childhood free from labour, bondage, illiteracy, abuse, malnutrition, and homelessness. The Indian governments have done their bits to guarantee the rights of the children in India through enactment of laws. But as regards enforcement and implementation, the less said the better. Some of the laws made by the government are:

* The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
* The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
* The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1929
* Children Act, 1960
* The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890
* The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
* The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
* The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
* The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986
* The Orphanages and other Charitable Homes (Supervision and Control) Act, 1960
* The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
* The Reformatory Schools Act, 1897
* The Women’s and Children’s Institutions (Licensing) Act, 1956
* The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956

In a world full of conflict – economic, social, intellectual, and violent confrontations, child rights are considered to be one of those issues on which the world has achieved some consensus. But the question is have necessary measures been taken to make rights of children meaningfully available to them for their overall social, cultural and individual growth.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient. If children live with encouragement, they learn to be confident. If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with security, they learn to have faith. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to live to find love in the world.

Does it bother you friends that the child working in the garage in front of your house is of your age or that of your younger brother? While you learn during the day at school and play in the evening, this fellow is busy struggling for 12 hours in tattered clothes with grease and auto parts?
Or the fellow serving tea or food at the roadside shop?
Or the girl working as a maid at yours neighbours?
Or the firecrackers that you burst this Deepavali or the carpet that your parents purchased might have been the hard and handy work of child labourers?
Could they be as bright and as sharp as we are given the same opportunities?


Marian Wright Edelman had rightly said “If we don’t stand for the children then we don’t stand for much.”

Let us make a beginning by standing for the rights of a child, the rights of all children. Let us be aware of the rights to survival, development, protection, and participation. Let us take steps at our level to ensure these. Let us stand for our fellow children and demand their child rights. I also appeal to the grown ups to do everything possible so that every child can grow as a child and dream about and shape his or her future.


I would end by quoting the following beautiful lines from Pamela Glenconner,


Daring makes life new

In the words of Robert Kennedy- “Each time a man dares, he sends a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from different centers of daring, those ripples build a current which sweeps the walls of domination and resistance.

Daring means much more than simple courage. It includes vision and needs tremendous amounts of creativity to give real shape to the vision. So vision, creativity, and courageous actions are the basic components of daring.

It is courage and the spirit of adventure that distinguishes persons of metal from the meek; it is the daring of those select few that the world is what it is today – a better place to live, economically prosperous for a sizeable human population, a place with scientific and technological marvels for a better quality of life. It has been possible to progress because a number of women and men dared to question the existing values, practices, scientific facts and the established order in the world of literature and arts. It has been rightly said that, ‘Nothing venture, nothing win’.

Where would Homo sapiens be without a SHAKESPEARE, a LEONARDO DA VINCI, a GALILEO, a COPERNICUS, a DARWIN, a MAGELLAN, a COOK, a LINCOLN, an EDISON, a BACH, a PICASSO, an EINSTEIN, a LENIN or a MANDELA? They are just to name a few among the thousands of others who dared to think and act differently. Nearer home, and from times, not a distant past , RABINDRANATH TAGORE, VIVEKANANDA, MAHATMA PHULE, KABIR, JAMINI ROY, J.C. BOSE, C.V.RAMAN, E.V.NAICKER, MOTHER TERESA, HOMI BHABHA, BHAGAT SINGH, JAWAHARLAL NEHRU and MAHATMA GANDHI are some of the brightest examples of people who went against conventional wisdom, broke established norms and revolutionized the way we think and act. They changed our perceptions about the world – as it is and as it should be. It requires extraordinary vision and courage to go beyond the conventional and excel. Mahatma Gandhi showed us this through his life. He said, “I believe that a man is the strongest soldier to die unarmed.” The result of his daring was the new, independent and resurgent India.

In all spheres of human activity, it is daring that leads to meaningful changes. Those who dare achieve, maybe through failures at times, but the failures teach them to do things differently than earlier and dare further. In education, in business, in science, in creatives, and in social actions, one is motivated by a vision of the new and the goal is reached only through continuing courageous actions – in short through daring. Daring is not a foolhardiness, but an informed desire to go beyond the normal and excel. As Charles Lindbergh said and I quote, “What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.” The commoners may ridicule the darer and even may try to stop the darer; the powerful may try to put obstacles in the path of when their interests are hurt by the act; but the sheer courage and the undying spirit of the visionary ultimately wins and the new is ushered in, even if the person is no longer there. Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stakes, but the Copernican model was accepted subsequently and further modified by many scientists. If one is triumphant, a new life is achieved; if one fails while daring, one is still better than those who have seen neither triumph nor defeat, as they never dared. Failures do not symbolize cowardliness but braveness. So, we must dare and dare again and go on daring.

I would end by quoting by Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.

Perks of Being a Bengali !!

I have grown up listening to statements like “Kaisi Bengali hai tu..fish bhi nahi khati?” or “Tu Bengali hoke meetha nahi pasand karti?” or “Tera nickname nahi hai..aur tu kehti hai tu Bengali hai!” and the most epic one is “Tu toh Bengalis ke naam pe dhabba hai Shinjini!”

A few days ago, a friend from college asked me my nickname and I was shocked to see her response when I reliably informed her that I don’t have one. For the next 10 day, I was barged with questions demanding explanations. According to her, I am the first Bengali among her acquaintances who does not have a “daak naam” or nickname. I tried to explain to her that it was not a big deal to be a Bengali and not have a nickname. And she was nearly convinced but then another friend of mine made it difficult for me by telling her that I cannot bear the smell of fish! The icing on the cake was that I am not particularly fond of sweets! And then months of questioning followed up!!!

Yes..it is hard to believe but true… I am a Bengali…a half Bengali to be precise, but I cannot eat fish because of the smell. I do not like to eat Rossogulla because it is way too sweet for my digestive system to be able to digest, but, this does not change my origin or identity. And yes…I don’t have a daak naam but that does not change who I am either. Even the Bard of Avon Shakespeare has said, “What’s in a name?”

But, the thing I have not told anyone who inquires me about my nickname is that I don’t have ONE official nickname…I have many! Actually every second person calls me with a different name altogether! My Didi calls me Montu Monu out of sheer love and fondness! My paternal grandmother used to call me Moina Pakhi (Cuckoo bird). According to her, when I was a young child, I had a very sweet voice! My maternal grandmother calls me Shinju (short for Shinjini) and I am also known by that name by my friends, cousins and peers! My Mumma used to call me Guddu-Muddu obviously because of my body structure!!! But the best of all is my father, who, in his bold and husky voice calls me Shinjini!

All those who think that Bengalis must have a nickname, must eat fish, must eat sweets, must participate in Durga Pooja, must be self-centred, must be dark skinned, must have curly hair etc. etc., may please note that we live in a country which is a confederation of many different cultures, traditions and lifestyles. Stereotyping people of one community is equivalent to ostracizing them. Instead of doing so, we should learn to respect individual differences in people. Instead of creating barriers among ourselves, we should move beyond the petty differences and love the people around us.

The Odyssey of Existence

The sacred souls that meet they say
Will even part one day.
The body is a transient shore
Where the soul thrives to explore
We live this life with the law of karma encircling
Some turn toward seduction and some towards meditating.

The realm of earth lies on the continual law of birth
Existence emerges beyond the phase of fertility
On the land of habitation and invisibility
Dreams flourish through incalculable times
As the continual law of die and be again chimes
The bogeyman of destruction can
Never swallow the changing phases of time.

The unexplored, unsaid versions that envelope our minds
The swift flow of images that sweep at unexpected times
Induce a sense of belonging to a world unknown
We realize that the dogma of resurrection is not absurd
We wake up to know that we are not alone.

Reincarnation binds lives
Into the eternal bond of pleasures and grievances
The journey of existence seems longer than life
Many lives as the strings of pearls
Add essence to dissolution
They adorn the paradigm of
Prediction and resurrection.