Tag Archives: freelance writing

Of The Stories We Tell

I have grown up listening to stories. Fairytales. Stories of war. Stories from Grandma. Stories of returning soldiers. And so many more. So have you all, probably.

I believe that the stories I have heard have the greatest contribution in making me the person I am, today.

The best part of a story, in my opinion is the essence of the tale – the pain or the sorrow it delivers or the bundle of joy that hits us after reading the same. The characters do play a significant role, but in the end, the story is what we are left with – the one that stays with us forever.

Sometimes, I like to miss my regular train and wait awhile at the station, because I have this (strange) habit of observing people. Each random face that I come across leaves a distinct impression on my mind. At times, I forget them. Then some days, when the weather is cold and I’m sitting by the window, watching the mist settle down from the mountains, I remember them – those people who had once graced a scene along with me. The crowded places mesmerize me, actually. Instead of the maddening chaos, what I find are melodious synchrony of people from various spheres, backgrounds and families. Each one of them tells me a story. Their eyes tell me of the conquests from their pasts. Their sighing and frowning tells me of the regrets they have. Each time, they bend down to kiss their children, they tell me of their love stories.

Often, I find myself looking at the lone man at the far end of the train. He holds a newspaper and squints as the old light flickers terribly in the compartment. He wants to know what is happening around him – what is happening in the world! Or perhaps, he wants to take his mind off certain things. So he hides his tired face with those sheets of paper. Does he have a family, I wonder. I think of his wife waiting for him, staying up late so that she can see her husband before the end of yet another day. The children have been put to bed and now, she sits at the dinner table, staring at the clock, having a hundred apprehensions run in her mind.

As the station draws closer, the man folds his newspaper and tucks it underneath his coat. His shoulders fall as he breathes out a sigh of relief. He has made it past another day. Isn’t that quite an achievement in itself?

After he gets down at his stop, I see a young girl board the compartment.

She is dressed in a rich red dress that exposes a lot of skin. The few women beside me frown in disappointment on seeing her attire. She is probably headed for a party. Every few minutes, she stands up from her seat and checks herself in the reflecting windows, making sure not a strand of her hair is out of its place. She wants to look as gorgeous as her friends do. She is seeking delusional perfection.

I have the urge to go to her and tell her that she looks beautiful. However, I want to know her entire story. Why a late night party? When is she going to return?

The woman sitting beside me keeps looking at her. Is she in awe of the dress she is wearing? Does she envy the fact that the girl is young and bold and the woman sees her youth in her? Or does she disapprove her clothes? Doesn’t she see the story that the girl is telling? Is she so busy doing a character study that she forgets to enjoy the story?

The train jerks to a stop and I have to get down. The stories remain incomplete. My questions remain unanswered.

As I get out and stand on the platform to watch the train leave, I see their silhouettes against the window. They are moving, going far away. I do not get to know the other stories they carry and it frustrates me to no end. I wish to meet them again – somewhere on the road, maybe on the same train again.

A cold wind caresses my skin and I realize the train has gone and it is time for me to leave as well. As I walk down the street, under the canopy of stars, I find myself thinking about the man. Did he reach his home safely? Is he having dinner with his wife and telling her about his day? Has the girl reached the party? Are her friends complimenting her on her dress? What about the woman? Has she gotten home, yet? Is she sitting with her daughter and reliving her own youth?

Under the faint moonlight, in the silence of the night, their stories haunt me. In some parallel universe, each one of us is a story. We hold tales of remorse, pain and joy and losses. Those tales are what we present to the world. Our stories are immortal. They are as infinite as the universe that traps us in its care. And these stories continue to live beyond time and space, presenting wonderful vignettes to lost travellers.

Of Crying That Makes Us Strong

I have never seen a person cry. For most of my life, the people around me have always been happy. When the day of tears arrived, they left.

I know people cry when they are in pain. They cry when every breath is laboured and things do not seem to be making sense. People cry when they are weak. And some cry, even when they are strong. People like you.

Mom used to say that it is okay to cry. For one day, every tear will dry up and you can stand up again. She often used to joke around and say that crying helps clear the vision. She had a weird sense of humour, I agree. Though her words never made sense back then, I think they do, now.

Every time a person falls; every time a person is in pain; every time a person cries, it helps them get a newer perspective. For we take off our rose-tinted glasses and retrospect. And by the time we are done crying, we know already that we’ll never be crying again for the same reason.

In some wickedly strange way, crying makes us strong.

The Dreams We See

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Lanton Hughes, American poet.

All my life, I’ve grown up reading stories. So have you, probably, and many other people.

I accept I was a nerd back in high school, though not your typical nerd from out of a teenage novel! I missed my P.E. classes to read books in the library. Though it was clearly against the rules, the grey-haired librarian didn’t seem to mind. Nor did she ever complain to anyone that I spent a half of the school hours hiding in there.

When she didn’t have a class, she’d choose books and give them to me. She even let me borrow two books when we were allowed to take only one!

On a fine autumn day, she asked me if I write stories.

Being only in sixth grade, her question took me by surprise.

“No,” I replied. “I only read.”

“You should try to write a story someday,” she told me.

“But no one will read it,” I stated.

“I will,” she promised.

I never got a chance to give her my story to read. I left school the same year and I didn’t really have a chance to contact her.

How or when I began writing is a memory that has already left my mind. All that I remember is that I used to write secretly. I was afraid of how my piece of writing would be received by an audience. In between classes, in the lunch breaks, I would sit in a lone corner and scribble a poem or two in the last pages of some copy. I knew no teacher bothered to look at the last pages and so, my little secret was safe.

Until one day. My English teacher interrupted a class and asked me to meet her in the staff room during the lunch break.

When I visited her, I found her reading something intently. As I walked closer, I realized that she was going through the little poems I had written.

“You write so beautifully!” she exclaimed.

I really didn’t know how to react. Was I supposed to be scared because she had found out? Or was I supposed to be happy because she felt it was good?

“Don’t ever give up,” she continued. “You have an extraordinary talent. Keep this dream alive and someday you’ll reach there.

She reminded me of my old librarian.

I found a confidence after hearing her. And since then, I’ve always shared my work with people.

People often ask me if I have ever dreamt of becoming a writer. That very question never fails to take me by surprise.

“Yes,” I tell them. “It is my dream to become a writer.”

It is a dream that has been with me for as long as I can remember. While some dreams come and go, this stays with me.

Someday, I’m going to write something for the old librarian to read. I remember her promise.

Someday, I’m going to thank her for igniting my dream.

Someday, I’m going to wake up and live my only dream.

I still remember a couple of lines from the same poem which i had scribbled at the back of my English copy. it reads like this-

“They told you, dreams are important,

That dreams are hidden somewhere in the sky, beneath the golden hue;

They told you to hold on to your dreams,

For sometimes, they find you.

The BEST Things About Wattpad – #5 – The People Out There (Fifth Edition)

I’ve always been a person who believes a lot in numbers and things associated with it. Until, @SamMaze told me that it’s an over glorified number! I think I’ll stick with that explanation, for now!

Excerpts from the interview –

akan_great16.128.33180What had you been doing?

SamMaze.128.461825

Where I am currently: At the kitchen table, pondering my next plotline.

akan_great16.128.33180

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself.

SamMaze.128.461825I am a young aspiring author that has been writing since elementary school. In a few years I plan to attend college to major in English. I have a wide variety of pets, from beta fish to rabbits. Quick fun fact: Rabbits are not as sweet and cuddly as they appear in Target Easter commercials. Depending on the breed (and personality), they can be as vicious as a rabid wolf or as shy as a fawn. Do your research before buying or adopting one!

akan_great16.128.33180 Was coming across Wattpad out of pure luck or someone happened to tell you about the same?

SamMaze.128.461825My friend actually told me about Wattpad, and it gave me a perfect outlet to share my tales with the world. Before this site my stories merely sat in a drawer after completion, but now they are actively gaining reads by the day! It’s quite fun to observe.

akan_great16.128.33180What is the one thing people will always find you doing?

SamMaze.128.461825People often find me teaching my rabbits a new trick, hanging out at Starbucks (Peppermint mochas are the best), or reading. I’m a rather simple person, and that is probably why my characters are so complex… because they fulfill my dreams of what I want to do in life.

akan_great16.128.33180What is the craziest theory you ever had in your mind?

SamMaze.128.461825The craziest thing that has ever crossed my mind would be when I once debated with a friend why a life-size bird house would be beneficial to humanity.

akan_great16.128.33180 A book where you wished you were one of the characters?

SamMaze.128.461825Yes! I remember reading the Chronicles of Narnia and wishing with all my might to be able to ride on a lion into a fantastic battle against evil.

akan_great16.128.33180 What are your sources of inspiration? (I totally make it sound like a Science class, I know)

SamMaze.128.461825Nature, and God, inspires my tales. From the wingtip of a butterfly to the crash of a wave, each detail of the wilderness brings joy to me and, in turn, brings my stories to life.

akan_great16.128.33180Ten to fifteen years from now, how and where do you see yourself?

SamMaze.128.461825I see myself as a published writer, probably married, and still goofing off with friends.

akan_great16.128.33180 Craziest wish?

SamMaze.128.461825My craziest wish is to become a New York Time’s bestseller haha. I pray that one day it will become a reality.

akan_great16.128.33180We pray for that too! Share with us some of the weirdest and best dishes you’ve tried.

SamMaze.128.461825I have tried raw salmon, buffalo burgers, and (unintentionally) spoiled peanut butter. The buffalo burgers were probably the best, because they tasted like normal burgers, but with more flavor.

akan_great16.128.33180 Can we expect an autobiography from you?

SamMaze.128.461825Yup! Well… actually I plan to write one once I do more with my life. More adventures must be made!

akan_great16.128.33180How would you describe your everyday life? Boring? Cliche? Average?

SamMaze.128.461825My life is pretty normal I suppose. School and hobbies take up my days from dawn to dusk. The typical life of an average character in a story is different depending on the book, but my general conclusion is that they usually go through a life changing experience that teaches the reader a life lesson of some sort. I’m not even going to go into details about the ultra-cliché character’s life… because most people are aware that everything must go their way, they get the girl/guy, and it ends in ‘happily ever after.’

akan_great16.128.33180The most overused plot award on Wattpad should go to?

SamMaze.128.461825 The most overused plot on Wattpad is the-nerdy-girl-gets-the-bad-boy-who-lives-next-door haha. I think it is very cliché. Maybe at first it was a hit, but now it has been watered down into the energy drink that powers first-time stories. Yes, I think too often writers these days look to the market to see what is selling before they start their book. I heavily disagree with this method. Write what you want to write, not what others want.

akan_great16.128.33180 Do you believe in any superstitions revolving around the number thirteen?

SamMaze.128.461825Nope, it’s just an over glorified number. 😉 It is bad luck for those who believe in superstitions.

@SamMaze ‘s book can be read by clicking on the cover.

rise

Stay tuned for more!

How I Lost You

“Do not save your loving speeches

For your friends till they are dead;

Do not write them on their tombstones

Speak them rather now instead.” – Anna Cumins

I met her in junior high. We had been those bubbly little girls, always fangirling over some Hollywood character. The memories are hazy. I don’t remember how we looked like, back then. I remember she used to chatter all day long about Brett Lee, often mentioning facts as ridiculous as how many teeth he had lost!

We became quick friends. We used to talk to each other for hours over phone. We used to call dibs on hot anime guys! I was going to be her bridesmaid, she was going to be mine.

Indeed, I have too many happy memories with her.

When and where things went wrong, I don’t remember. I guess, she doesn’t too. Perhaps, it was when I had to leave school due to my Dad’s transfer.

Moving away didn’t seem like a big deal. We had telephones and e-mails and Facebook to remain in contact and I presumed blindly that things wouldn’t change.

Somehow, they did.

Conversations started getting shorter and most of the time, it seemed like we were calling each other just for the sake of old times. Our priorities changed. So did our friends’ circle. We thought that we were still going to remain friends forever, but deep inside our hearts, we knew that the thread was slowly withering away.

Five years of friendship was lost to a year of separation.

Slowly, other people started taking her place and a part of me still holds a profound amount of guilt that I had given up on our friendship so easily.

I used to browse through her pictures on Facebook and see her with her new friends, happier that I’d ever seen her. Though both of us used to be online at the same time, none of us took an effort of dropping a message. Strangely, it didn’t hurt.

At that moment, I knew, I had lost her.

When I returned back, two years later, our friendship remained as messed up as ever. We did talk, but it was no longer the same.

The good, old times remained carved in some forgettable corners of our classrooms.

Perhaps, we grew up. And life moved crazily fast.

Or may be, we never had been friends in the first place.

I went through the darkest phases of my life, alone. There were times when I believed there was no hope. And what hurt me the most was, I had no shoulder to cry on. So I cried, alone.

That period of darkness I went through, convinced me that nothing was permanent in life and that I was going to lose people. It made me numb. And it made me forget about her.

Until a couple of months ago, we started talking again.

Of course, conversations were pretty short and awkward. I used to think a lot before saying her something. I hid certain things from her. She did too.

Nevertheless, we talked.

I waited for her messages. I desperately wished for things to go back to being the same again, just like the olden, golden times. I wanted to meet her and talk and talk and talk about nothing in particular. Yet, I kept all that to myself.

I’m talking to her as I write this. I tell her I’m going to write about her in the next post. She wants to read it. I want her to. But I don’t know where to start.

The happy childhood memories are fading away with each passing second. So are the not-so-good memories. Now, I remember the little arguments we had. I think about the time she threw a water pouch right at my face and burst out laughing, while I stood in the middle of the staircase, absolutely clueless about how I was supposed to react.

I remember the one time something happened between us and I refused to talk to her. She had cried over the phone. Yes, she did. I was the stronger person. But I’m crying as I write this.

The memories are withering away and no matter how frantically I’m trying to hold them close, they are slipping away. The castles I had built are slowly crumbling to pieces and she’s not there to lend a hand.

However, along with the happy memories, the bitter ones are gone too. They are replaced by a set of new memories – of this friendship blooming again. May be we can never go back to being the best friends we had once been, but I’ll try. I don’t know about her.

Looking back, I still can’t figure out where things went downhill. A part of me doesn’t want to.

I had never figured out that writing about her would be so tough. We have our fair share of memories and sorrow. And we’ve been through all that together.

And I owe it to her – she taught me the importance of having friends. She made me realize that some friendships will fall and some will last and some friends will leave and some will keep coming back. They are people who are going to raise a toast at your wedding day and even raise a mop if you want them to. They are people who one writes about. They are people who have the most impact on one’s life.

They are called, friends.

She is mine. She is my friend.

And I believe there will be brighter days.

No, I know there will be even brighter ones.

We’ll see them together.

The BEST Things About Wattpad – #4 – The People Out There (Fourth Edition)

So, I’m back with a conversation from another up and coming writer from the Wattpad community!

When I visited her profile in the morning to copy her username, I found out that her book Growing was at #11 in Spiritual! We congratulate you on reaching such a high rank!

Here are excerpts from the interview

akan_great16.128.33180Me – Hello there! In fact, good morning! Share with us a few words about yourself. How would you describe yourself?

Nafla3.128.90209

She – Umm well My name is Nafla. My hair color is brownish black. I’m Asian but not with the Chinese Eyes; I’m more of an Indian Asian (I am not from India). And ummm I like cheese… I think?

akan_great16.128.33180

 How did you stumble across Wattpad in the first place? Were you excited with the idea of free books or it was something else?

Nafla3.128.90209

 My sister recommended it to read some books and reading became writing and writing became obsession.

akan_great16.128.33180

 What is the one thing that you’re always doing?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Eating. And when I’m not doing that- I am baking. I love food. I am the biggest foodie there is. And I am luckily not obese.

akan_great16.128.33180

 Twelve years from now, where do you see yourself?

Nafla3.128.90209

  With kids, living the perfect life of a housewife.

akan_great16.128.33180

 *Wondering if I’ve ever heard an answer as sincere at that* Considering you are a big foodie, share with us some of the best dishes you’ve tried.

Nafla3.128.90209

 Well I eat Indian everyday; I’ve tried English, British, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian. My favourite out of all would be Hot Tandoori Chicken topping on a Cheesy Cheesy Pizza, Nachos in the side, Sweet Corn Chicken Soup for Starters, Hot n Spicy Wings and French Fries. Lol Don’t ask me about food; the list never stops. I think this was the longest paragraph of all the questions. Haha.

akan_great16.128.33180

 I bet we all talk a lot about food. Describe your everyday life. Is it something from out of a story book?

Nafla3.128.90209

 My life is pretty much the same as it has always been. Loving parents, busy family, loving husband, and grateful for each moment.  My characters however focus on the tragedies and the downside of life. My thoughts and emotions that I am unable to say out loud comes down in words from my character’s POVs.  The ultra cliché life would be wake up, go to school and there’s a new boy. All girls like him but he only likes you because out of everyone in the school, only you are real and only you can see his rude behaviours. Others are all swoon over him.

akan_great16.128.33180

Which plot do you believe is slowly losing its originality?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Bad boys definitely. And what irritates me the most is how they underestimate the meaning of a bad boy. Dating all the girls and saying rude things doesn’t make you a bad boy. It makes you human. An original bad boy- one who does drugs, goes to jail, gets expelled, fights in clubs and rolls in blood bath. This is the meaning of bad- not dating and dropping a few girls.  And yes I do think that. Writing should be about expressing your feelings and imaginations. But now it’s about what others would like to read. What ever happened to originality?

akan_great16.128.33180

Do you believe in superstitions? Do you feel that thirteen is an unlucky number?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Lol no not really. In my country however, the airport had Gate no. 13 and the President thought it was unlucky and now there is Gate 1-12 and 14-17. It’s just a number. I don’t believe in numerology; only God can decide how your life is supposed to be- not some people on the other side of the table with the same taro cards which they read to everyone.

Her book Growing and Pain can be read by clicking on the covers below. We wish her even greater success.

GrowingPainStay tuned for more interviews and book reviews!

The Rain That Never Came

The sweet-smelling dust of a scorching May evening settled in front of Daya’s house. The blistering sun had dipped down beneath the horizon, the salmon sky sporting a canopy of faint grey clouds which never rained. As the darkness spread its veil over the land, the clouds seemed to be devoured into the night, replaced by a sprinkle of stars. The clouds brought with them, a little spark of hope- a hope that led farmers like Daya to believe that it would rain that night. When it didn’t, they felt their hearts wrenched out till it shed the last drop of blood. This type of hope was dangerous, for it brought them happy dreams and later pushed them into the dungeons of delusion.

 That evening was no different.

 Daya sat in front of his house, on top of the weak bamboo fence that had cost him a small fortune.

When his old father had passed away, the land in front of their dingy hut had been passed on to him. With high hopes and brimming dreams, he had taken out his broken bicycle with the bent wheel frame and leather-less seat and rode to the marketplace where he had brought five fences to cover either side of his land.

 On his way back from the marketplace, he had stopped at the moneylender Govind ji’s house and asked him for a little bit of money to buy the seeds and the fertilizers. When the scrawny, greedy man with a bald head had hesitated, Daya had told him about the piece of fertile land he had inherited and how it would reap the gold. With eyes on the little land, the moneylender had given some money to Daya.

 It was strange how things had suddenly started favouring him. He had money. He had the land. He had the spirits. And he had a bundle of hopes that he was going to make it big. Perhaps, they might appoint him as a member of the Farmer’s Association in their little town of Kaman. For a man who had spent almost half of his life doing odd jobs on another person’s land, even six feet of earth meant a lot to him.

 That very evening, the rains had come lashing down on the little village, quenching the thirst of the parched soil. The rain had drenched the flamboyant trees and their leaves had turned a shade brighter. Little saplings were awoken from their slumber and they greeted the silver sheets of rain as it crashed deafeningly on the thatched roof of Daya’s hut. In a matter of few minutes, the sky had gone from an eloquent blue to an ominous shade of gravel grey.

 Daya and his wife had sat in a corner of their little hut, escaping the dripping droplets of rain. As occasional flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky, Daya had felt a uncontainable joy at the pit of his heart. Oh, how he would plant the radishes and carrots and potatoes in this little land! Oh, how generous were the lords to bring them a spell of showers in early summer! It certainly meant something good, didn’t it? Daya’s poor human heart exploited his hopes with richer thoughts.

 Daya had tilled his land with viral enthusiasm, singing songs in merry stupor and buying his wife a brocaded silk saree from the market. When his wife had complained, he had asked her not to worry for they were going to be rich! Such were his hopes that it drove him into a frenzy.

 Each night he had gone to sleep, smelling the rain that lingered in the air and the canopy of stars in the desert night sky.

 However, only the smell of rain had lingered. It never came down in a glorious downpour. It never kissed his land and never brought it back to life. It doused off all his dreams, zoning them out into oblivion.

 How he had waited for the rain! How he had waited for his hopes to come back!

 Two dry months.

 And it hadn’t rained.

 The last traces of summer wind waltzed past him, creeping into his lonely house where his pale wife lay, bathed in the glorious light of the evening that trickled in through the little windows. The same saree, that  Daya had given her months ago, was wrapped around her in a careless fashion, rough knots of her unwashed, dark hair drowning into the creases of the fabric.

 The sound of a little bird rose and fell with the wind, the wispy clouds clearing from the sky to make way for the stars.

 The chilly desert air had taken its toll, but it did nothing to the restless, thirsty throats of the couple who hadn’t eaten for a week. The land in front of their house had cracked open. The little saplings that Daya had planted had withered away, leaving no trace behind.

 A faint light from the lantern flickered inside his house and smelling the scent of the burnt wick and the smoked glass, Daya turned around to see the same, obliterated by the rapidly darkening night. The darkness of the moment devoured his sanity, transforming him into a madman.

 Everything had started chalking his doom.

 When he had visited the mukhiya the other day, he had waved Daya off. At a time when drought had taken over the land, there was very little anyone could do for anybody.

 The greedy, heartless moneylender had come to his house, demanding him to return the money. Poor Daya could only give him the brass utensils and a pair of bronze bangles that belonged to his wife. Although the man had his eyes set on the piece of land, he left, knowing that the land wouldn’t be of any use as the drought had set in.

 There was nothing left in the house. Only two pitchers of clear water stayed in a desolate corner of the house, staring at the agony of the helpless couple.

 Daya jumped off the fence and started making his way inside his little abode. The tatters, he wore were unwashed, and covered with freckles of dirt and his bony chest glistened as the low light of the lantern hit him. His wife sat leaning against the mud wall, her hand on her head, wondering if they were suffering because of some sin they had committed in their previous lives.

Oh, the heartbreaking explanations we resort to!

 The things that had seemed to be going so well had instantly stopped, driving their ripened dreams into an unfathomable dead-end. Life was a brute, wasn’t it? And so was the restless human heart that held on to the withering thread of hope, thinking that one day or the other, radiance shall come through the pain.

 Daya staggered down beside his wife, crawling up to the bed and leaning against it. Staring at the faint darkness that was interrupted by the light from the night sky, he let out a hollow laugh.

 “It will rain!” he cried in feverish excitement. “We will grow everything on our land! We will be rich! Everyone will look up to us!”

 A slight sob escaped his wife’s lips.

 On a dull, summer night, when the moon was high up in the sky, a blissful cry erupted from somewhere, the breeze carrying its echoes into forgettable corners of the land.

 From nowhere, the air became thick with moisture, the rain-laden breeze calling out to the people of the land. A clammy haze of rain spread across the land, hiding the moon and the stars somewhere behind their drapes.

 Tiny drops of rain splattered across the unpaved paths, clearing out the sand and trickling in between the cracks. A few drops trickled into Daya’s house through the thatched roof and landed on their limp bodies. If only they had held on to that hope for a little more.

 The next morning, all the people of the land knew was that, the drought had driven yet another farmer to his death. No one sympathized. They blamed it on fate and they blamed it the sins the poor couple had probably committed in their previous lives. No one blamed the rain. No one blamed the drought. For them, it had become an everyday phenomenon, waking up each day to hear how a couple of farmers had given up. They stared at their abject poverty and prayed it didn’t happen to them.

 It rained for the next few days as well.

 If only Daya was alive to see the same. If only…

An Era Of Voiceless Women: What Would You Do If You Lost Your Voice Today?

I hold deep admiration for two kinds of people:

Strong women

and

 People with strong voices.

I’ve always been impressed by women with strong voices – women who are not afraid to speak for their own rights; women who can handle everything in the universe; women who start out as little girls playing with Barbie dolls and grow into utterly perfect young ladies and move on to become mothers who are ten thousand times stronger.

Anything that sets us back physically, actually gives us a boost mentally. We are always striving to reach to the top, no matter what. We are always ready to speak out loud for our own rights and for the million women like us.

And in today’s world, we DO get a say.

However, there had been darker times in the past.

My brother and I, growing up far away from our grandparents, didn’t really have a close relationship with them. We visited them once in two months, only for an hour or two and interactions were pretty much limited.

My grandmother was a petite woman with graying hair and a thousand wrinkles covering her face.

The many times she would call me to her room, she would spend away every minute asking me how my studies were going on. After a couple of small talks, there would be nothing to talk about, so I’d stand up and simply walk out of the room.

Conversations with her were usually small and I couldn’t blame her for it. There was a huge generation gap in the first place and second, I wasn’t really good at conversations.

So when my grandmother came to stay with us for a week, I decided to take the opportunity and get to know her better. The entire prospect of having someone in the empty house and not having to spend silent hours, thrilled me.

Every day after Mom and Dad would leave for their work, she would call for me and my brother and tell us a story.

No, the story never had princesses or horses in them, but they spoke about the lives of strong women and how they fought against the differences in the society in the past. As teenagers, the stories never caught our attention, but we heard them nevertheless because she seemed so happy while telling us those little tales.

It was the last day of her stay. My parents had taken a day off. While Mom was busy in the kitchen, Dad was talking to me. Grandma sat next to Dad, muttering something to herself as she flipped through the pages of the newspaper.

“I really think you should go there,” Dad said as he looked down at the folder containing a list of my preferred colleges.

“No, Dad! I want to go to a co-ed college!” I snapped. “I’ve told you so many times that I don’t want to go there.”

“But it’s a good college!”

“I don’t care!”

“Why are you always so adamant?”

“Because,” I spoke in a louder voice. “You don’t listen-“

“Theya!” my grandmother snapped suddenly.

For a woman as calm and collected as my grandmother, it was an unusual reaction.

“Keep your voice down,” she said.

A part of me was terribly irritated and the other part of me was embarrassed. Fighting the little tears that had started pricking at the corners of my eyes, I turned to Dad.

“I’m not going to that college, “I spoke through gritted teeth.

He sighed, shaking his head and standing up. This meant that we were not having this conversation today.

After he had left the room, Grandma motioned me to take a seat beside her. Grumbling, I complied.

“You didn’t have to talk like that to your dad,” she spoke.

“But I should have a say in what college I am going to study in!”

“You do have a say. That is why your parents are still waiting for your final decision.”

“But is it wrong to raise my voice? Is it wrong to stand up for my own wishes?”

Pulling me close, she shook her head.

“No,” she said. “I’m happy to see that you’ve a strong voice. You are growing up to be a strong woman. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Back in our times, though we had a voice, we never got a say in things.”

I looked up to meet her glistening eyes.

“Why?” I asked.

“I was born in an era of voiceless women. We were strong, but we didn’t have a voice. All we did, was sit in the kitchen and hear to the decisions being made. Back in those darker days, women were thought to be weak. The one or two who dared to speak up were looked down upon.”

“It’s surprising,” she continued, “to see how much things have changed! Women have made their mark in every field and they have struggled a lot to get there. I see the little me in you, Theya.”

By then, her voice had been breaking at places.

She held my hand and gave it a little squeeze.

“My father decided not to send me to school after the fifth grade. I was adamant to go. Yet, I didn’t know how to speak out in front of him. I was afraid of what he might say when he listens to me. So, all I could do was cry silently for several days. I had a voice, only, I was afraid to speak out. And so were many other women.”

“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.

This caused her to laugh.

“Oh, no, you don’t! Times have changed, hopefully. Women have always been strong. Back then, they had been strong as well. Only, without a voice,” she said. “When I see pretty young ladies like you, liberated and not held back by any constraint, it makes me immensely proud.”

That day, I saw my grandmother as the woman she was – strong, bold and beautiful. Though it was hard for me to believe that there had been a time like that, I could feel her pain. I could feel how it felt to not have a say in anything.

“So,” my grandmother began again. “What would you do if you lose your voice today?”

Later that night, when she was packing her stuff, I wished she could’ve stayed a bit longer.

“Grandma,” I said as I walked to her and offered to help with the packing. “I think I would probably go mad if I lost my voice for a day. I mean I can’t imagine that you’ve gone through all that!”

Shaking her head, she smiled to herself.

“Stand strong.”

Her question kept me awake for the entire night. Indeed, what would I do if I lose my voice for a day?

Art by-caffeineaddict
Art by-caffeineaddict