Month: January 2018

Fish Fry Equalizer

I recently watched Popular Malayalam actress Rima Kallingal’s powerful TEDx talk about gender discrimination prevailing in the Malayalam Film Industry. Rima Kallingal’s speech occurred in the wake of recent cyber attacks on her colleague and acclaimed actress Parvathy, resonated well with the current rising wave of woman empowerment in Malayalam Film Industry. The video is bang on in nailing the main points of unfair treatment of woman both offscreen and onscreen in the industry.

Rima Kallingal starts her speech with an anecdote about how she experienced or rather how she started recognizing gender discrimination in the form of Fish fry. Her mother while serving fish fry choose to divide the only three available fish fries among, her brother, her father and her grandmom(eldest in the family) leaving out the 12-year-old much to her dismay.

While many applauded the actress for courageously giving voice to the silent victims of female discrimination in an industry which is often deafened by the drums of Hero worshipping, for some the entire meaning was lost in translation. Some just didn’t get the apparent symbolization of gender discrimination and took the whole issue quite literally, and thus started trolling the actress for the TEDx talk.

Among those slanted set of feedbacks in FB, one comment got my attention. A person narrates quite ferociously, as we can guess from the language, how he worked in another country as a manual laborer for seven years to marry off his sisters and how getting an extra fish fry is a small thing considering he spent a chunk of his golden years to help his sisters make a home for themselves. Such a thought-provoking comment it is! It proves how gender discrimination adversely affects both the genders equally in the long run. Oh, the irony of that statement!

Let’s think objectively about a woman from a financially backward family who decides(assume she has the power to make this decision) to serve a the symbolic fish fry aka nutritious food to Men in the family, who do manual labor. For her, that’s the most logical thing to do as Men, the assigned breadwinners of a patriarchal society, need to be fed well to ensure further financial prosperity. However pitiable that sounds, many a woman, especially in rural India, might be forfeiting, sometimes even willingly, their share of food, attributing it to the culturally ingrained sacrificial nature.

No wonder more than half of the woman population in India suffers from anemia. This discrimination leads to the much larger issue of undernourishment of pregnant women and in newborn children. While we try to remedy such effects of gender discrimination, the panacea for the root cause is rather evident, Financial Independence of Woman. When we strive to make an equitable society, economic empowerment of Woman should be a cornerstone.

Just like the way we, women fight valiantly to break stereotyping and rigid gender roles, it is essential for a woman to create her own foothold of Financial freedom. For the coming generations, financial Independence should not be a choice given to women. More economic activities by women lead to decreasing means for discrimination. By taking up financial responsibility, women not only ensure her standing in the society but also paves way for a new culture which future generations can be proud of.

Attaining financial freedom is easier said than done. The basic and crucial step to financial freedom is Education. It opens up a wide array of possibilities to women. Moreover, Education helps everyone, regardless of gender, to create an awareness of an inclusive and gender-neutral society which is essential for the development of the country.

So in effect, by getting that extra Fish fry, Men also do not seem to be getting any advantage in the long run. It is to everyone’s benefit to dividing the fish fry equally. Education and the financial independence comes along with it can be the great equalizer while dividing it.

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Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a cheery book to start the new year, still the book managed to hold my interest until the end. The factual representation of HeLa cells journey, how HeLa is so important to science even today and the perpetual confusion  on the privacy trials of biomaterials, the books covers all these aspects ever so gracefully. Once you delve into a little deeper into the book, it becomes difficult to identify the goal of the book. Deborah Lacks, daughter of Henrietta Lacks, eventually the books turns into a memoir of hers. It is like a pitchfork with two metal prongs, parallels of the Journey of HeLa cells and Journey of HeLa’s daughter. You can reason out as Henrietta Lacks two immortal lives, one that of the cells and the other journey of her spirit, which lives on through her family. I enjoyed reading it and would go for a four

View all my reviews

The ones who can see Thestrals

Dealing with the loss of dear ones is a never-ending journey in search of the alluring light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. The loss, the beginning,  itself is so emotional that mere words can not confine the essence, so private that anyone other than you won’t understand what you are feeling, thus it is inconsequential here. The journey is about survival.The most significant phase of this journey is when you acquire enough courage to look back to that day and see how it changed your life so far. Personally, it took me more than a year to look back and live over the day I lost my father. Facing how an ‘Ordinary day’ changed to an ‘Unusual’ one,  without an emotional breakdown, turned out to be my first step towards a million mile journey, the journey of survival.

An immediate response to such painful loss is denial. Such a facade gives you an unreal peace of mind, a temporary easy way out. But eventually, the ineluctable reality slowly seeps in. The higher the barrier you create, the fiercer the effect of sorrow will be on you. Nevertheless, it helps you to deal with it at your pace and time. There were many moments when I closed my eyes and let myself believe everything is alright in the world. The numerous missed calls I made to my father’s cell, how I stopped talking about him altogether, the way I never told my preschool daughter that she lost her most favorite person in the world, all these anodyne stuff temporarily alleviated the dull ache in the heart. None lasted long and reality eventually took over.

Once the reality sets in, the blame game begins. which makes you question everything and anything around you? ‘Why me’? ‘What did I do wrong to deserve this?’ A million questions which can never be answered pops in your head. My personal spiritual beliefs always pointed towards the ‘karmic cycle’. But is Sorrow, really a karmic derivative? Much to my dismay, the karmic solution lies way beyond my human comprehension. Even if we keep track of the good or not so good deeds of our lifetime, we will never know if that goes to the debit or credit column of the Karma tally. The recent news report about how a man rescued a rabbit from Northern California wildfire and how that might have endangered the rabbit’s litters who may starve to death in some underground tunnel. A rather innocuous deed turned into a noxious one and yet again we fail to comprehend the grand scheme of Universe.

Another way to distract your mind is to start thinking the alternative scenarios. The ‘what if’s will echo in your head perpetually. The could-have-been- happy scenarios, and the possible turn of events will occupy your mind long enough. There will be an infinite number of things which you could have done better or you should have avoided and all those memories make a stunning reentry to intensify the suffering. It is like poking to see if the wound still bleeds. I did this self-torture for a while before realizing the futility of it. How much ever you poke around the past, it never changes and the best version of past is what was actually rendered.

 

When you run out of excuses to occupy your mind, it will eventually circle back to the raw sorrow of the loss. When you hide the remains of sorrow deep inside you, they turn into little seeds. You will never know when these seedlings become an all-devouring monster trees. The ways of sorrow are grappling and eventually, it will hide even the brightest sun. The ways depression can hit you is unimaginable. There was a time when I was addicted to mirrors. The moment when your eyes are filled with tears, and when you almost close the eyelids, you see make-belief images on the mirror, you see shapes and wonder what are they. It took me a while to realize no matter what I imagine, it will be only me in that mirror. That realization and acceptance will help you pull out of such pitstops before the tipping point.

The only bright spot in this journey is that you get to feel your red threads of fate along the way, the eensy red threads which connect your destiny with many others. Even a smile from a stranger you meet on your morning walks becomes a firefly in your low lit sky. They might have never thought twice about it, but there are many times, a smile and a hello from complete strangers lingered inside and brightened my mind. You will find your own tethers and hinges to keep you earthbound. No matter how down you are, there are hands which lift you up and refuse to leave you ever, its all about recognizing the love of family and friends. During the lowest of my lows, a worldly wise man told me ‘to count your blessings’ and I literally did that and the list turned out to be my anchor to life.

Over the past few months, I have read a gazillion articles on how to handle loss and went on from one thing to another in a loop trying to get a grip. None of them worked. None of them works. None of them will. You can get distracted and train your memory to forget it but from time to time the pain resurfaces. The weight of loss never leaves you even with time. It is something time can never heal. Eventually, you will learn to run with it or make peace with it in your own way. But the bruise stays with you forever festering and healing along with the ups and downs of your life. Once you see the Thestrals, there is no unseeing it.

Loss of a loved one is a life-altering event. You never stay the same anymore. It becomes a part of you and your personality. The sooner you accept it the better. It changes you in ways you can’t even anticipate. It uproots few emotions and plants an entirely new range of emotions.It makes you aware of the mortality, it makes you value the tethers and hinges of your life. The loss, sorrows, trauma, we would be much lighter without any of these. Since the fate has chosen to tread along this path, its better to assimilate the best parts of it, the heightened empathy, a better self who appreciates the value of people around you, to name a few. Every day I strive to be the best version of me in the eyes of my late father and along with time, I hope it becomes my second nature. That would be the best eulogy I can ever give him