Monday, 30 May 2016

Serious #5 Taken (ii)

It was a hot summer night,
and well, the city never sleeps.
I was walking back after dropping my friend off at the lane gate,
when my life took a turn too steep.

The street light was off,
- "gosh, can't the government do anything right?"
when I felt something graze my arm;
My hair was pulled,
and I saw a light, a bit too bright. 

I remember it all so vividly,
as though it all happened just yesterday;
A dirty, smelly cloth covered my face,
and I was pushed onto a tray.

Hands on me, hands to myself,
didn't know what was taking place.
Tried to scream, could barely sob, resigned; 
all I knew was that I wasn't going to a palace.

They were all very quiet, didn't say a single word.
"Experienced" - executed this a hundred times,
had planned this out years ago,
but what they didn't understand was, that I was still in my prime! 

The strange part was that they took me to house,
that looked much like my own.
Made me a servant to those, 
who resembled from whom I was born;

But it was never the same again,
And now at 22, the tears roll down perpetually,
and I don't even feel them,
on my rosy wounded cheeks.

The poem, about human trafficking in an urban setting, is part 2 of the Serious #5 Taken (i) which talks about trafficking in a rural setting. Human Trafficking is a serious issue, not just in India, but in many countries across the globe; not just involving girls and women, but boys and men too. Instead of being given an opportunity to go to school, make a living, live their lives independently, children as small as 3 years are kidnapped and taken to work, illegally, in factories, households, or restaurants, with below minimum wages. 

Is this what humans deserve?


                                                              - Ragini Zutshi Anand

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Idea Rant #5 CBSE = < Learning; > Rote Learning

"See, the thing is, it's not that easy dad-"

-"Don't you complain to me about it not being easy!
Everyone's doing it; Headaches are no excuse for marks so bad."

The results came out,
he'd scored a 97.2%.

He saw a ticket to a great university;
His dad, saw only the missing 2.8%.

Written below are my opinions and mine alone; they're not "directed" to anyone, and as the heading suggests, it's a RANT. I don't want The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) knocking on my door tomorrow along with the Indian Government, wanting to ban my article.


The amount of emphasis CBSE, and other education boards in India put on one year of a 17 year old child's school life is ridiculous, and disgusting beyond words. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this now because there is a sudden hatred within me for these "prestigious" boards of education due to the pressure I'm facing this year. I'm saying it now, because I now have a forum to, and the knowledge to be able to express my self in a correct manner. These are my opinions, and I've had them for a couple of years. 

Firstly, let's discuss the aspect of making a 15 year old decide a "stream"; subjects that he/she has to pick which will then decide his/her future, college courses, occupation 
opportunities and last but so not the least, the child's "interest". If a child does go by what interests him or her, he/she may or may not be able to find a suitable job in India, because frankly speaking, if I'm interested in anthropology (for example) 1) there are limited courses in India, forcing me to go abroad. 2) Limited job opportunities in India, again, forcing me to go abroad.

How is a 15 year old expected to think of all of this while making a choice? 
I get it, whenever I pose this rhetorical question to an elder or a teacher, they mention how times have changed and are now much better as compared to what they used to be. My generation now has career counselling, which barely existed when our parents were in school.
But does the providing of career counselling mean that children at the age of 15 itself are now expected to make a brilliant life decision and never falter, and strive for things that they may not truly want on the inside? Because truth be told, less than 20% adults in India would opt to change their career after the age of 30, implying that most of us, are kind of stuck with the choices we make, at the age of 15. 

Secondly, let's talk about the idea of board examinations. I've been told several times, that, "hey, listen, they're damn chill! Don't worry, okay?" and that's great, I get it. They're chill, if you study well you can ace them. Then why the life or death stigma around them? A lot of students reading this who may be in other, "tougher" boards than CBSE are probably thinking I'm a brat for complaining; but by the end of it, I'm going to talk and complain regarding the system I'm in, right? 

Continuing with the life or death stigma, if, for example, a student is unable to take his/her board papers well, due to an illness or injury or any other form of emergency, and isn't being given a retest, therefore having to give that exam, therefore doing badly, therefore failing (see the cycle?) - what gives CBSE the right to make that child go through one more entire year of school, as though that child has failed, instead of giving the child a retest? Can't the system be slightly more humanistic and flexible, and judge one situation at a time, instead of having a set of rigid rules for all situations, regardless of their uniqueness? What if that student is a school topper in reality, and is capable of doing really well, but just wasn't able to perform well due to other factors? Is an education board actually going to leave these things out to luck? 

Not only that, at the age of 17, I can safely say that most of us are going through a lot more than just academic pressure; there is always stuff at home, with friends, with body image, etc, etc. and the additional academic stress is completely unnecessary and puts all students into a race which they may not even want to be a part of - the race to get into an elite college. 

Furthermore, they emphasis not on learning or the gaining of knowledge, god no! They instead, are firm believers of rote learning, an ideal they believe will make us successful and happy individuals in the future. (insert beyond sarcastic thumbs up and smiley emojis here)

Now CBSE decides to show up and goes like, "Hey, we're going to test you on like 15 chapters for each subject, EXACTLY when you're going through emotional turmoil. Hope you have fun!"  
Why not spread the exams over a better period of time, and have the organization that organizes them (still CBSE) clear up the stigma around them? Because let's face it, if there are students committing suicide because of the stress caused due to this,  the results they get, OR the importance given to them for most subjects for admissions into colleges. the organisation is doing something wrong, somewhere. 



Look at him just reading and gaining knowledge. Why can't we have that, instead of rote learning? HE'S SMILING GUYS. COME ON.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Serious #15 Don't tell Me to Hide.

Please don't tell me to hide,
to hide my face underneath that cloth;

I've got beauty in my eyes,
that tell my entire story, so forth.

The curtain over my face, 
pretending to act like a shield,
does nothing more than prevent me to look;
through it, looks at the outside world,
 I do steal.

I've got a lot to prove, 
and a lot more to show,
than just my pretty face, that you make me cover;

And yes, I can do it all with my face covered,
But "why" is the question,
 which has no answer.

The poem above, written by me, foretells the life lived by a girl in our culture, the Indian culture, where there exists an unfair (in my personal opinion) tradition of women having to cover their faces with a cloth in the presence of men or when they go out in public. Different regions of the country go by varying systems of this tradition.
Although this tradition is decreasing due to increasing modernization, it still persists in some urban and most rural parts of India.

Each individual has the right to change the world, or bring about a change in at least a few people's lives. Isn't not being given the opportunity to reach self actualization and instead being made to sit at home, with no education or a chance to work efficiently and to reach one's full potential, very unfair? 
Although, pragmatically speaking, the cloth over the girls' face shouldn't hamper her ability to work; but that's not the case. 

The "dupatta" or "chunni" that is draped around one's neck and over the head gets along with it some stigma, that has stuck around for centuries. 
It has made the woman.... well, let's just say that's just one of the reasons as to why we're having to fight for equality today, shall we? That's ONE of the reasons why feminism exists today.

The girl in the poem is just questioning the tradition, and as usual, receives no valid answers.                               


- Ragini Zutshi Anand

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Unrealistic, Dreamy Views.

The Moon doesn't show 
in the murky skies anymore,
are the poets' blind?

Or is it a mere way 
to convince oneself,
that all is well, 
and sublime?

A distorted photograph of the world
is being painted before our eyes,

They say, "oh the flowers, so bright!"

- It's a lie, a scam, I tell you!
and just about nothing seems right.

Our world is dying, 
slowly it is; 
I know it sounds pretentious,
but that is the harsh truth.

And we better do something about it, 
we, the "future of the world"
before it's time for death.


- Ragini Zutshi Anand.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Guest Post #4 - Kavya Sharma

Kavya Sharma is a very close friend of mine, and she's written this poem that I really liked, and I hope you like it too.

A Photograph;

It is a reminder,
That things were once perfect,
It is a memory,
Nobody ever wants to forget.
It captures moments,
Of our daily life,
Keeps them fresh and sometimes,
Brings pain as sharp as a knife.

It expresses the pain and sorrow,
Of a weeping lover,
Reminds him of the times spent with someone,
Who to him was as lucky as clover.

It expresses the happiness and joy,
Of a mother who has just given birth to a Child,
And to a family of tigers who've found their daily meal,
After a long hunt in the wild.

It expresses trust,
Of a friend in a friend,
And defines their friendship,
So that it never ends.
A photograph truly expresses,
What you want to say,
Without any words,
Just with a smile, by the way.
It reminds us,
Of the times good or bad,
And is a reminder of,
Beautiful things or people we've ever had.
I do have a large number,
Of Photographs of my own,
Which are dear to my heart and remind me,
That the broken bonds can too be sewn.

- Kavya Sharma

Aesthetic beauty, and what not.