Posted in Penned Tales

The best of both worlds.

“May I come in?” would have been the usual knock.

However hesitation devoured her consciousness and something awfully restricted her. It was nearly time to recite the mugged up lines and mock rehearsals were of no benefit anymore.

A low knock raised decibels in the unperturbed silence. Anything louder would have torn her apart. Inside the small cubicle, a man dressed in his formals awaited a greeting. She was there on time and punctuality is always a great first impression.
From across the table, he noticed her taking cumbersome steps forward. When she stopped near the chair, her palms palpitated and she breathed heavy. A first interview is meant to leave you in jitters and she was no exception.

A walk from the gate through the corridor to his cabin had already invited eyeballs approach her. She was used to such bewilderment, hatred and pity but how this man at the cabin’s desk scrutinized her was nowhere close to a regular stare that she had learned to encounter. He hadn’t asked her to sit but had looked straight through her, weakening her purpose. Something in his eyes promised her good news but she would rather not expect much.

The first thing he noticed in her, were the colossal night like eyes that reflected strength. The never maintained eyebrows arched lower than the usual pretty and joined just above the nose that sported a tiny nose ring. She looked like dark chocolate. ‘The darker, the better ‘, he had always differed. Her cheeks did not have a blush of pink or red, because no such color would have complimented her flawless skin. She had her hair pleated just fine for the occasion. ‘A saree that should not be bright’ she had spent hours choosing and draped it well for this particular meeting.

In her, he saw the honest attempts that were taken for this day but that was only secondary. What had actually left him amazed was how she defined beauty.

But how much of an influence could that be for her fate?
‘None’, silence intervened.

She would not be recruited reflected his astounded face.
Rather, he could not risk a recruitment spoke his discontent.

She had condoled herself and exhibited a feeble smile. Wasn’t that the first rule of accepting a denial? Her smile if little brighter did promise a revolution though.

But how can he be the first man to risk everything? Wasn’t she entitled a separate life and a mode of living? What audacity is this woman displaying? Does calling her a woman actually suffice the situation?

She could hear him speak behind the awkward silence. Backing out could have been an ordeal for life and hence, she blurted out.

“Sir. I not read write..I cook sir. One chance please please..sir. Sahab. One chance. “

Clearly the rehearsed lines did not fetch her, a good performance.

“This is not the place for you. You must leave. “
He had said in a jiffy and sabotaged her trials.

She knew that this wasn’t her place, for she was never meant to beg again.
Isn’t begging in trains, outside parks and around museums just as same as begging for your rights? The society definitely has a different rank depending on what you beseech but for her, both seemed similar.
She knew that there will be many rejections but she would not struggle for what is hers. She was meant to be a fighter instead. She knew that for her, to earn a small contract of the mess of a huge office required a huge revolution in itself. Also that she is just at the start of a journey to find the place that he talked about and that returning to where she came from was a dreaded option.

She broke but the man in her constrained her tears.
His sexual orientation and her gender identity do not match but their spirits never die.
She identified herself to be a woman who’s beautiful and was born a man who is strong.

He knows she is the best of both worlds, because he has a better orientation and courage that neither a man nor a woman could possess.

Posted in Penned Tales

Exchanged Places.

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“Sister , do you mind exchanging places?”

The first thing I noticed was his hair , longer than the girl next to him. He was sleek, mostly like my batch-mates from the university.

Bemused I stood amidst smelly shirts and adamant heads , unable to figure out that the voice was meant for me. In a jiffy , I shook my head and we exchanged places. I took the corner near the gate right next to the lady he accompanied.

Five minutes earlier ..

I was late for my university examination. Having missed the 9.05 metro , I was left with no time to reach the allotted examination center. I had somehow rushed through the queue , down the escalator and managed to push myself as the door slided open. Metro railways in my city work perfectly fine but using it as a means of commutation during the office hours is a dreaded task.

Since I had somehow managed to reach the metro station in a hurry , I had missed the door to the ladies section and getting in the general area was even dangerous. Mostly a daredevil stunt, we were taught. No matter what, I had sneaked in anyhow with intentions to tackle the crowd that left me aghast.

Oh yes, missing the special section devoted to us the ladies, did not promise good news for a thirty minutes ride.

“For any lady traveling alone , it isn’t a safer option.” 
My mom always frets about.

I remember how I had tried all practical justifications on equality to make her believe that we belonged to the 21st century but all in vain. An ordeal every Indian girl would relate to.
Nevertheless, it was just not my day to find a place to where I belonged – ‘The Ladies Compartment’

The bag-pack I carried was right in front of me and I struggled to hold myself straight against the jerking.

Minutes into a song I felt a touch as if someone nudged my shoulder. I struggled with my earphones and the crowd seemed ruthless.
“I’d rather keep it away” spoke my saner self.

I felt it again.

Every face I saw was as old as my father is.
But then, what moved at the back?
I could sense someone leaning in, someone camouflaging me and my movements.

Just when he made that call,
“Sister , do you mind exchanging places?”

        Yes , I had nodded a thank you and he had returned the smile.

But NO.

It’s not that I was a girl in distress who needed help.
It’s not that I am incapable of dealing with something that all of us are battling daily.
It’s not that I were to endure anything that is not an outcome of my fault.

In a country that thrives to develop and break free inhibitions, it’s all in our genes to face , to stand and to raise our voice against injustice. We’ve been raised to serve ourselves our own safety in a world that hardly cares.

So what he did barely mattered.

Or maybe it did? 

And maybe it does?

He could have been a mere spectator.
A silent spectator.
He could have shut his eyes and pretended to be blind.
He could have shook his head to anything that might have happened.
I wouldn’t have been amazed. ‘Cause that’s what I’ve grown up watching.

But what he did has left me startled.

To that guy I met in Kolkata metro at 9.15 am on 2nd June, 2016.

“Thank You BHAI”

Not for saving a girl from a situation that shames the society. 
But for exchanging places to know how it feels.