“Is it me?”

My silence was not a sign of enjoyment. It was one of helplessness..jpg

I was at the tailor yesterday. He had to take measurements and yet again, his hands were where it shouldn’t be. They always were but with my mother not around, it was more obvious now. I walked out wondering why he felt like he could. Maybe I should’ve panicked. I should’ve screamed and said “What are you doing?” But I was silent. I had told myself it’s part of life as a woman. Maybe I look like someone he could take advantage of. Maybe it’s not his fault that he feels entitled. Maybe it’s.. me. Is it me?

I told my mother later that day, “If this man was bad at his job, he’d be in jail for molestation already.” She shrugged and told me it’s who he is. She asked me why I couldn’t find another tailor. That sounded like a normal question to which I responded that not everyone can stitch well for fat people with slender shoulders. This one does. So I have no choice. Maybe if my body was different, I could avoid this. Or maybe it’s because I’m fat and my boobs are too, he feels the need to. Is it me?

But this wasn’t the only man. If I had to list down  similar experiences, I could go on forever. Like the guy in the flower market who casually pressed himself to my back and I blamed myself for shopping when it’s crowded. The old man at a temple who casually touched my butt and I cursed myself for not knowing it’s a mistake and thinking bad of an aged person. The married man on my right running his hands along my legs when his wife is sitting to my left and I knew I shouldn’t have worn those shorts on a Saturday night. Oh! How could I forget the stinking man who pressed my boob flat while he walked past me making me shiver with disgust for days and I shouldn’t have worn that damned kurti when I knew it was a little tight. If so many felt so comfortable over a decade, it couldn’t have always been them. It is me, isn’t it?

But then I remembered the man who asked me to kiss him when he thought he’d gotten me alone.. at 12 years old! I wore a middle school uniform and ran for my life. That wasn’t me. I didn’t know men could behave like that. I didn’t have big boobs, I didn’t wear tight clothes and it wasn’t an accident.

I suddenly realised I was wrong. When I answered my mother’s question, I was wrong. I was focusing on the wrong part of what she’d said. When she’d asked me why I still went to this man when I knew he was like that, I shouldn’t have given her a reason. I should have asked her why he was forgiven.

Why have we accepted the fact that he is who he is and come to terms with it? Why are our questions always turned towards ourselves and not the other person?

Why did you wear that dress? Why did you go out that night? Why did you smile at him? Why didn’t you ask for help? Why didn’t you scream at him? Why did you?

Why did I what?

Wear a dress I’d loved and bought with money I worked hard for? Go out of my house to unwind after a day of chaos with friends who just wanted a laugh and a fun night out? Smile at a stranger who was older than my father out of courtesy because I was taught to be kind and never harsh? Scream at a man that was invading my private space in a very disturbing manner knowing he could kill me and my Government will tell you its my fault?

Why did you?

Why did you raise a son who thought he could have it all? Why did you tell him he can abuse me and walk away because it’s his birthright to be an asshole? Why did you shame the girl who talked about it instead of applauding her for being brave enough to relive that experience over and over again with every word she spoke? Why did you bring a nation’s culture and values into behaviour that should be punishable?

It’s not me. It’s you.

You are the reason I had to walk away silent. You are the reason his wandering hands and his filthy mind are forgiven. You are the reason I feel unsure writing about my experience.

Because what if they read? All those men who have grazed and touched like I belong to them just because I’m walking past. They’ve made me used and worthless. What if the man I will someday marry read this? Because YOU have taught and preached to him that a woman is only good if she is pure and untouched. But then you went and told him he could. Now what about me?

You don’t have to answer to me. I’m nobody to you. But your daughter, your wife, your best friend, your future family will need to know why you, in your need to make your son feel important and manly, have tarnished her safety and way of life. Will you tell her it’s her fault? Will you tell her she should’ve known better?

When she asks you, “Is it me?”

Will you still say “Yes?” Or hang your head in shame?

Because we both know, it’s not her.

It’s not me.

It’s You.

“I ______ You”

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If I were to ask you what the three most powerful words in this universe are, you will probably answer “I Love You.”

And I would disagree.

I Love You – They make any relationship special. They make any moment so important. They make you feel on top of the world.

I Love You – What if I told you there’s something better? That there’s something more important?

I recently stumbled upon the wedding video of Colleen and Joshua. For a very long time, I thought I was the only person who believed in those words. Who knew how they made every other sentence in this entire galaxy seem so irrelevant. And then I heard Joshua’s wedding vows.

Because..

Love. He can love you and still not be with you.

Love. She will love you and still marry him.

Love. They love you but still won’t want you.

Love. It’s not the most powerful word.

Love. It’s not enough.

They still have to Choose you.

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On your worst day, when you’re stuck with the flu and your loved one has to be elsewhere, it is not love that keeps them by your side. It is the choice that you are more important than anyone else. Because there isn’t a sentence in this world that will matter as much as – I Choose You.

I Choose You. In sickness and in health.

I Choose You. For better or for worse.

I Choose You. Since the day you were born until forever.

I Choose You. Despite your flaws and your shortcomings.

I Choose You. You’re not my best friend, you’re my sister.

I Choose You. You were a parent when we had none.

I Choose You. No matter what the world comes up with.

I Choose You. Despite the rest of the human population.

I Choose You. Even if she’s better.

I Choose You. Today. Tomorrow.

For the rest of my life,

I will always choose you.

Choice.

It’s everything.

 

Life goes on..

Today, May 4, is the birthday of someone very very close to me. “Happy Birthday bro..” It’s been a while since I met him and when he saw me he said, “You look bright. Full of hope. It’s nice to see you like this again.”

Last year I had to give up almost everything I had. My plans changed, my life changed. I spent the entire year in depression. Everything made me cry. There was a point when I believed things will never change. That my life was over and all I have to do is sit and just let the end come when it may. Now when I say it, I realize how over-dramatic that sounds. But at that point in my life it seemed like the most logical thought process one can ever have at a time like that.

It’s funny how when something bad happens, we believe that it’s the end. I’m not talking about a fatal sickness or an accident but rather just incidents. When you quit / get expelled from university, when you get fired, when you break up with your loved one, when someone close to you passes away or even when you fail an exam or miss your dream university by 2 points. It seems like a life or death situation. I mean, I get that it possibly is very life altering but it’s never the end.

It took me one and half years of moping around before I decided that I have to change things. ONE AND HALF YEARS ! You know how much I could’ve done in one day? Let alone 500 days ! 500 days before I realized it’s not the end because it’s not happy. That in fact, all I had to do was accept that things have changed. Because the only thing constant in our lives is change and the best I can do is to make use of all that I’ve got. I mean, I’m sure I could’ve sat around another year and half dreaming of what could’ve been but that’s just another 500 days that I won’t get back.

In my life, I’ve learnt that there’s nothing better than dreaming big. Dream what nobody dares to dream of. Dream to fly. Like Peter Pan. To just take off to Neverland. But that’s impossible if you never put your feet on the ground. Even a flight has to hit the runway, move forward and only then can it fly. Sitting idle and wondering about would-be’s and could-have-been’s will never get you anywhere. You have to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward.

I’m not a settler. I’ve missed what many would call “incredible opportunities.” When my previous dream crashed, I had to get a new one. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, mentally prepared to create a big dream again. I’m afraid that it’ll crash too. So I set my goals a little lower. Instead of a big future plan, I set my eyes on simpler things. Things that are more NOW than five to ten years from now – A company that’s not really easy to get into. A publisher that probably won’t even take a second look at my manuscript. I told myself that I won’t take anything besides this. I will get into that company if it’s the last thing I did. I will send the publisher every story I will ever write and at some point, I’m going to write something they will publish.

Think back the years you’ve lived through. How many moments have you had where you thought it’s the end of the world and it wasn’t? No, I’m not talking about December 22, 2012. I mean, you’ve lived through tough times. You’ve moved forward when you thought you wouldn’t. You’re alive and present. When you think about it you’ll realize that all those bad experiences have only made you stronger. Brave. Never weak.

Two years ago, I had it all. I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I didn’t make use of the opportunities. Now I can’t go back. I have to look ahead and I feel stronger than I ever did. Positive that if I could live through that, then I’m sure I can live through the next disaster and the next and the next. Because.. Have you ever sat in front of the ocean and stared at it? You know how beautiful and mentally soothing a view like that is? The way the waves move and hit the shore. The salty smell that comes from it.. Now, imagine sitting in front of the same ocean but this time, it’s still. No waves, no sea salt smell. Just still water. It’s not as beautiful, is it?! That’s life too. It has to have its ups and downs. I promise every wave has something incredible to give to you. A life lesson, a person, a memory.. And when you look at it as a whole, it’s beautiful.

No matter sunny or rainy, draught or storms, the waves in the ocean never stops.. The way, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s over, life goes on..

Accepting Yourself

This is something I struggled with for years. We all have those things about us that we wish were different. I had a million.

After I wrote that above statement, I stopped. For an entire day. I didn’t know what to say. The concept of accepting who I am, no matter what, is still new to me.

I grew up around people who were prettier and smarter than I can ever imagine being. All of them following a set of rules their societies, culture and families had created for them. And I didn’t belong. I felt lost. Sometimes, alienated. I found reasons to explain what was wrong with me. I was defensive about everything.

Recently, I posted a blog about understanding the fact that we’re all different and how we should accept each other for who we are. Sure, it’s tough to do that. But there’s only one thing that’s tougher. Accepting our own individuality. Taking pride in who we are. Even the ones we think are absolutely perfect and flawless have a problem with this. They all have things they want to hide or change about themselves. And I don’t get it. Imagine if we could just accept ourselves for who we are. Our positives and our negatives. If we wore our flaws with pride and say “Yeah. I’m like that. It’s what makes me different and unique.”

For instance, a kid walking through the hallways at school when a bully looks at him and goes “Hey shorty!” What he really expects from that kid is for him to cringe about his height and hang his head. But instead, if the kid looks right back at the bully and says “Yeah, I’m short. What about it?!” I’m sure the expression on that bully’s face would be priceless. People always expect your weakness to be the one thing that sets you apart. But I believe that it’s what makes you different. It makes you you. And that’s not a flaw. That’s your strength. There is a power that comes with accepting that.

I spent a major part of my life wishing I was someone else. I’ve prayed and begged for a different life. A better body, a better family, a better home. I believed that I had a horrible life. Then I met people who had it worse. People who would give anything to have what I have. To live the way I live. To look the way I do. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had days when I had no idea why. Why would someone want to look like ME? Want this life? But this is the truth. It’s difficult to accept but there are people who have a whole lot less than you and I do. People, to whom, having an education and the ability to read what I’ve written, feels like a privilege they will never have. And I stopped comparing myself to the ones who had it better. When I felt ugly, I remembered the scarred. When I wished for a different home, I remembered the homeless. I started to feel fortunate. To feel lucky. But those are still just external factors. No matter how hard I tried, the inability to accept who I am as a person never went away.

Until a few weeks ago.

When I think about it now, I want to laugh at the number of years I’ve spent feeling like there’s something wrong with me. In a world filled with people who followed a set of rules their societies, culture and families had created for them, I always felt like I didn’t belong. I felt lost. Sometimes, alienated. I tried to find reasons to explain what was wrong with me. I was always defensive about everything. Never, in all those years, did I think for even a moment that there wasn’t anything wrong. I was just different. I wanted different things. And all I needed to do, was accept that.

I read somewhere –

 “There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?” 
― C. JoyBell C.

I believe that painting is simply you in a mirror. That image of perfection is who we are. And when you accept that person, the world will fall into place. Yes, it’s difficult. But it’s not impossible. It takes time and patience. Just like accepting a partner in a relationship. Forgive your mistakes. Forget the criticism. Embrace who you are as a person. Believe me when I say, there is a beauty in a person who has the confidence to show off who he truly is. Yeah, there will still be those few bullies who try to “fix” you. Honestly, they’re not worth your time or energy.

You are your life, your experiences, your emotions, your love, your battles, your scars, your heartbreaks, your talent, your wins, your loss, your looks, your world, your struggles and above all, you are YOU. And always remember, the best thing you can do at the worst moment of your life is to just simply ..

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Doodle Artist : ME 🙂

The People Around You

When we’re walking on the streets, wrapped up in our thoughts, we forget that there’s a world that’s buzzing with life around us.. Have you ever stopped and looked at someone and wondered? Have you ever looked at a teenager and wondered what kind of home they go back to? Have you ever stopped and stared at a person in a suit and wondered what kind of pathetic boss they work for? Have you ever smiled at a kid that is enjoying whatever little time he/she has left as an innocent before the big bad world corrupts their brain? Do you ever take a moment of your journey to look at someone’s life other than yours? I did once and it changed every journey I ever took from that day on..

It was a regular day back from university to my apartment and I was so wrapped up with music and social networking that I almost didn’t notice.. You know how we have friends? We laugh, we fight, we giggle, we tease and we make the lamest jokes in the world? I saw a gang of seven people, in an MRT, do that.. through sign language. I might not have understood everything they signed, but I understood that laughter, I understood what it meant when one of those guys shook his head and closed his eyes while laughing uncontrollably.. I looked around me and saw every person around them stare at them in awe and they didn’t even know about it.. I will never forget the tiny tear a woman wiped from her eyes as she looked at these people who have so much more to whine about than you and I do, but yet they were so happy, so filled with joy..

Somehow, since then, I always look around, I always notice.. Those old aunties who laughed so much they had tears coming from their eyes, that cute couple that would not stop staring into each other’s eyes so so lovingly that it started to annoy the shit out of me, that little kid that dangled her legs because her feet wouldn’t touch the ground, that random kid who smiled at me for no reason when standing in line at Starbucks, that girl at the market that always gives me and my mum some extra vegetables out of kindness, that mother who was texting her husband about their divorce while still cooing at her daughter in the pink tutu, the mentally ill homeless guy that wandered near my old house and always had a smile to give, that old woman selling bananas who probably went back to a small house with barely any food to eat and yet asks you how you’re doing..

Take a moment, look around you.. Look at every life around you.. At all the happiness around you.. At all the people that are probably in way more shit than you’re in right now.. And give them a smile, just because.

For all you know, that’s probably the best thing that happened to them all day..