Posted in Personal, Poems

BONDED BY FIRE

It

Happened then,

When we all,

Women!!! Old and Young,

Fat, Thin, Black to White,

Confused, Ashamed, Shy, Confident, Angry, Sad,

Met

In a

tiny space; HOME,

we called it then.

Colours, Fears, Strengths, and Weaknesses,

United us in the Bright Day

2016-11-29_17-40-22And

In those

Dark, hopeful Nights.

Two days and nights

We bonded – stories, nature, art

saw the moon, felt the sun.

Became

One Woman.

Many women, different women

We became one, breathed, existed;

United by the fire in Women.

This is a small attempt at capturing the essence of emotions, shared by few women, across all spectrum of culture, profession and roles; when we met at a small gathering, where we

“Had faith in the strength of the feminine collective…
And send love and light across many realms…
Believing in the power of the Wild woman”,
according to one of the fellow participant, who calls herself Earthling. This was facilitated and arranged by the Ecofemme team at Auroville, Pondicherry, India.
Note: I have tried to write my thoughts as a poem; where each line has one word more than what appears in the preceding line. I have followed this pattern till the it reaches six words, and again started back at one word. I chose 6, because it is the highest single digit number that is a factor of 360, which signifies a circle;  the beginning of an end of a beginning.
Posted in Personal

Paint Their Dreams

Samson, 12, had come to draw himself as the Prime Minister of India; as an afterthought he says, “I think I should be the Chief Minister first, and then I’ll strive to be the Prime Minister.” Is this some audacity? A little kid, who says he is 12, but barely looks 10, is saying this, when one of our volunteers asked him, what he would draw for the ‘Dreams of Chemmenchery’ painting competition. Unable to contain his curiosity, our volunteer further prodded, “So, what does a Prime Minister do?”

His answer, the insight and his style of speaking, amazed us, and soon all of us were flocking around him. Samson, also told us how he planned to major in political science and work on socially responsible activities as a student. One of us rightly remarked, “see he has already got his supporters”. He was right, none of us could ignore him or his dreams, his conviction and sincerity made sure that we all would connive our best to see this little person’s big dream would be catalyzed to reality.

Little Nadiya, all of 4 years had come to draw balls, and had brought big and small bangles too. She loves playing with them. She goes to her school regularly so that she can play with balls; she doesn’t have them at home.

Many younger kids were happy to draw houses, mountains, trees, crows, sun, streams, cars, balls, dolls, etc., but the elder kids were more creative than each of us who were explaining the theme to them. They wanted to be traffic police and obey the traffic rules, be nurses and doctors and save lives, wanted to have good schools, good pharmacies, good police stations, be teachers, police, administrators and so on.

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AWARE has existed as a social media group for the last 3 years, and we have been working directly on issues faced by women and children, both in the urban, and semi-urban areas of Chennai. Chemmenchery has well-built urban slums, one-room houses, where families have been rehabilitated 25 km away from the fishing hamlet of Nochikuppam, post-tsunami. Traveling up and down to the fishing harbours of Nochikuppam, has made it very difficult for the families here. With meagre livelihood options, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, it is the young children who are affected the most. AWARE has been working here for the past one year and conducting Holistic Community Development Project in Chemmenchery through intervention programs on

  1. Early Years Programme – focusing on pre-school education
  2. Street Classes – on improving reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills (6-14 years)
  3. Conversational English Classes for Adult Women – supporting mothers to engage in their children’s studies
  4. Creating Child Friendly Spaces – providing avenues for child inclusive community development

We have been conducting weekly drawing competitions for the children (3-15 years) there, inspiring them to dream and paint their dreams. Each child is given a set of colours and stationery as a parting gift. We also, visit their homes, and provide them with a certificate of appreciation, signed by our volunteer teachers and the child’s parents, assuring the kids our support in helping them realise their dreams. WE have reached 100 students now, we have to reach 5000 students more.

As one of our volunteers said, “I have never received a certificate as a student, but today, when I presented the certificate signed by me, it was an extremely proud moment”. Such thoughts inspire AWARE to do more.

BeFunky Collage

Support AWARE with your donations and your presence. Transform and be transformed.

For all your donations, please follow this link

https://milaap.org/campaigns/feeding-the-dreams

More details can be found on the campaign.

For any queries, you may contact

rsandhiyan@gmail.com, awareiwsd@gmail.com or menonsinna@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Personal

SAY NO TO SILENCE… REACT

Five years back I was hit on the head by a drunk man at the signal on the Gandhi Road in Velachery, Chennai, barely 100m away from my destination, Velachery gate, IIT Madras campus.

I was on phone, and was describing how a young man was acting particularly strange, trying to poke and disturb the bus driver of a bus that had a short halt at the signal. Soon, I saw him approach me, I moved and made way way for him. It was just too sudden, I was hit on my head. My friend, at the other end of the phone could hear the sound, and then it was only the sound of traffic. He could not hear my voice.

It took me full 5 minutes, and so many calls from my friend to slowly come to my senses. The time was 6:35pm, February 2011. Sun was still there, few street lights were also glowing. One of the most crowded signals here, filled with young and old, men and women, bustling with activity.

I could not sit up. The impact of the hit was pretty severe. I was expecting someone to help me get up, I wanted some water, I wanted to cry. I felt SHAME. Shame for not reacting. Shame because no one helped me. I was ashamed to be left all alone. Even, before I could make sense of anything else, SHAME engulfed me.

Soon, I could hear voices around me, few women stared at me, few men looked all confused, 3 young men (around 18-20 years) came closer and said, “Macha, no one cares that she’s been hit. Anyways, she’s on the floor and ready for more. Let’s do whatever we want, no one would care again.”

I just froze, I don’t know for how long. Suddenly an old man, a shopkeeper who had been witnessing all of these told me, “Just go away somewhere and be safe. This place isn’t good. All are under the influence of alcohol. The guy who hit you was taken away by his friend. He won’t harm you further, but others can. I have to leave, don’t get me involved in this.”

I don’t know where I got the energy from. Next I remember, I am running towards IIT gate. I got inside. Sight of the security guards made me feel safe, but I chose not to tell them. I did not want to answer why I was outside campus alone after 6pm. No, we are not forbidden to do that. I regularly used to go to a cafe outside campus, and mostly alone, and would not return before 7pm usually.

My phone was still ringing, my head was hurting bad. I talked to my friend. Told him what happened. He was already on his way. He told me to call other friends too. I called another guy who stayed outside campus. He brought in one more friend who knew Tamil.

My head hurt bad, but there was no visible injury. I was asked to take an X-ray, since the hit made me unconscious.

We went to the Velachery police station and gave a complaint. Initially, they refused to believe me. They judged me because I went with 3 male friends and no female friend to report this. They told that the spot had a TASMAC shop and that it could have been some drunk guy for sure. They made me go with them to identify the attacker. We insisted that all of us would go together. We got to know that IIT campus which has so many other schools and colleges nearby, and is located within the Institutional Area, filled with more than 100 institutes, had  at least 6 TASMAC shops around it. After few days of persistence, lack of any leads, ignorance from police and discouragement from all those who were close to me, I gave up on the case.

Five years have passed, the injury healed, the story’s been shared so many times, but still the SHAME remains, because every time people say “somebody could have helped you then”; but no one has ever said, “had I been a witness, I’d have done ………………”

STOP BEING SILENT… IT DOES NOT HELP… SPEAK UP and REACT