It is what it is, simple

A couple of weeks ago, I was in class with a few of my friends cracking jokes before the start of the lecture. I happened to be the only girl in that group and things were pretty funny until one of them made a rape joke. He started laughing but soon stopped upon noticing that I was not the least bit amused. I told him off, and so did another friend who admonished him in a way that implied he should not have made that joke because I was around; because there was a girl amongst them. It made me wonder what if it were just them with no girls present? Would they have found it funny?

Today, something related happened. It was not a joke but another case of belittling rape. I was so repulsed I had to leave and go somewhere else. I could not stand to sit there and continue talking with this ”friend” after he had made such repugnant comments about it. We were two girls and one guy talking about casual relationships. The supposed “friend” was ranting about how some girls are in the habit of teasing a guy and leaving him hanging. He then went on to say something to the effect that that is why women get raped; because they tease men.

 I told him off, telling him that a woman does not invite rape and that it is not her fault if she falls victim to it. He seemed to concede slightly, however still maintaining his stand that a percentage of rapes occur because the woman calls it upon herself. I let that one slip. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he went on to say that he would advise a rape victim to “enjoy” the ordeal as it would lessen her pain…

I could not believe it. I was raging inside and had to excuse myself from there as I just could not tolerate being there any longer. It made me wonder how such an educated, young adult could hold such a warped and disgusting opinion. What is to enjoy about an ordeal that is an assault and an aggression towards a person’s body, spirit, dignity and pride? My female friend who was present asked something that was quite chilling. She asked whether men think that rape is wrong because a male friend of hers had told her there is no difference between rape and normal sex.

I am not on a men bashing spree here because I fully understand that a well formed, mature, normal man would find rape to be abominable. How come then is it that a number of my male peers find rape to be something to joke about or belittle? How many more seemingly normal people out there hold the same twisted opinions about rape?

I was sexually abused as a child by an older relative. The details are quite foggy and I am still not sure what exactly happened but a few details of it have been coming back to me of late. It was not forceful. He made it look like something good and made me want it. Once I experienced how “good” it felt I would seek him out to give me the feeling again. For years growing up I thought I was weird. I questioned whether it still qualified as abuse because I wanted it even though I was just five years old. He was in his late teens but he should have known better.

I wonder whether my “friend” would still think of my case as sexual abuse if he knew of it or whether he would dismiss it because I “brought it upon myself”. It is searing to the heart when someone makes such dismissive and shallow comments about such a beastly act. It is a terrible ordeal regardless. It needs no qualification. Rape is rape, it is not normal sex. And it is wrong.

I am being haunted by vague childhood memories and I am frankly too exhausted to go into an elaborate discourse on the matter of sexual abuse. It is just plain wrong. Simple.





Musings over ‘Midnight in Paris’

A couple of weeks ago I watched Midnight in Paris for the umpteenth time. I love that movie; the music, the blurring of the demarcations of reality and fantasy and of course, Paris. I must admit that it is not the best movie about the city out there, but this one seems to feed my ever growing admiration for the city of love. In a nutshell, the main character, Gil, a wistful, dreamer type writer who lives in constant nostalgia, gets to spend some time vacationing with his fiancée in Paris. According to one of the characters, Gil suffers from “Golden Age Thinking”, a flawed perception that life was better during an earlier time. Gil thinks he was born too late, that he should have been around during the 20s, in Paris, with the rain. He is in awe of the city and wishes to settle there, much to the disapproval of his rather superficial and condescending fiancée. There are a host of literary, artistic and musical greats he gets to meet on his midnight escapades. Upon midnight, he is transported to a Paris in the 20s where he wines, dines and dances with the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Dali, Hemingway, among others.

This is in no way an attempt at reviewing a movie. It is just one of those movies that strike a chord with me, perhaps due to the fact that the character of Gil resonates to a significant extent with my personality. I have never been there, but I love Paris; the cobbled streets, old style buildings, historical monuments and its free spirit. I often picture myself, enjoying a coffee or a wine al fresco, nonchalantly soaking in my surroundings, perhaps frolicking about the streets with my lover without a care in the world or not. That lover bit is highly contingent on a few factors, but I am working on it.

Like Gil, I would love to enjoy walking in the rain. That, however is slightly hindered by my spectacles which fog up and get splattered with huge blobs of water whenever it rains, transforming my walk into something out of a zombie movie. Well, more than anything, Midnight in Paris moved me to want to familiarise myself with all the creative greats that magically appear to Gil at the stroke of midnight. I now want to listen to Porter, marvel at Dali’s works and read Hemingway all of which I still have not come round to doing (I am a huge procrastinator, but that is a post for another day).

However, above all this I draw from the movie one of the most poignant sayings I have ever come across in the two point something decades I have spent on earth. There is a bit of controversy surrounding the authenticity of its source in real life, but that for me does not take away from it its capacity to stir me into contemplation. I have left out some parts because I do not find them absolutely necessary, but you could always watch the movie to appreciate the quote in its entirety. I am a sucker for love sayings, so if that is not your cup of tea you may stop here. I do hope to see you on my blog again though!

In one of the scenes Hemingway’s character upon being questioned by Gil whether the fear of death ever afflicted him while he fought in the war, answers thus:

“All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same…I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face like some rhino hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave, it is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds…”

I will not even make an attempt at writing a hopefully profound analysis of what it means to me. I just wish to share it with you and hopefully it will stir you to contemplate about who and how you love.


Nothing in Particular


I really did not plan to write about any specific topic today. So please just try to pick some sense from my garbled flow of thoughts. Exams finally rounded the corner and I did my first paper today. Suffice it to say it was disheartening so naturally my mood got drenched and for some reason I was really aching to rush home and blog…about nothing in particular.

Anyway, it feels good that there are actually souls out there that appreciate my amateurish work. My heart has been doing a little leap every time I log in to my blog and see that yellow star on the right side of the top bar. Thank you so much for all the little jolts of the heart you have caused me by clicking the ‘Like’ button. It is utterly flattering to see people from USA, Ireland, Canada and Australia viewing my blog.

Today I bought a book, even though there are still two others begging for my attention. Whenever I do that, I usually feel like I am ‘cheating’ on the other books! The boyishly, good looking street book vendor tried to chat me up and find out where I live…which now that I think about it is a bit weird. I am about to gush again about used books…here it comes. So, whenever I squat down on the street to pick up a book, smell it and read the short synopsis at the back it is like everything else around me just melts into oblivion and for those few minutes it is just me, the books and of course the boyishly, good looking book vendor. I like to get lost in those moments when even the cacophony of engines and car horns seems to morph into an imperceptible hum and the people rushing past dissolve into an amorphous mush of colours.

I would say the same happens whenever I am on stage with my choir performing. I am really fortunate to belong to such a group of crazy albeit gifted individuals. It is one of the few things in my life that hold up a mirror to me every now and then and reminds me of who I really am. Because I do need that constant reminder to give me that push that I need to fulfil my obligations as a dutiful daughter and complete my rather unexciting and stifling business degree. Singing on stage with my mates is liberation; comparable to coming out of a closet. All that matters is the music, and the energy we are feeding off of each other. At those moments, everything else, even the audience, melts into the background, and for that one hour or so of concert it is just me, my choir mates, the music and our amazing director.

Today I learnt of the death of a third year student at my university. As I later came to learn, he suffered from bipolar disorder and as a result took his life in the most gruesome way. I was not close to him but he was a friend of a friend and sometimes I would exchange a few pleasantries with him whenever my friend and I bumped into him .I never saw any signs of anything being wrong. It is times like this that you wish you made the extra effort to befriend that person and maybe…just maybe things may have turned out different. It is very searing when your peers, although you are quite young, start dying. The reality of death somewhat becomes more poignant.

Life is fleeting.

It is interesting how whenever you think you have nothing important to say, your mind somehow ends up subconsciously conjuring up something quite sensible.





Used Books Charm Me

It is yet another unexciting, sweltering Saturday when I am stuck in my lower bunk bed with my computer, surrounded by piles of books and papers, making another long drawn out attempt at finishing one of the crucial chapters of my research proposal. A gentle breeze sneaks past my curtains and tickles the back of my neck as the regular growl of an approaching motorcycle or car intersperses with incomprehensible distant conversations.

It is surprising that despite the amount of work I am swamped with, I still carve out some time to write a blog post, check out my Facebook, repeatedly refresh my email inbox with the hope of an interesting mail suddenly announcing its arrival only to be disappointed by an annoying update message from LinkedIn (why am I even on that site anyway?)…and ah yes, read a book.

I only recently decided to actively cultivate my readership. I realised it makes my daily commute to school appear much shorter and less annoying (our traffic jams are terrible). Of late, there has been an influx of cheap, second hand books into our city, much to my joy. One of my excuses for not reading books in the past was my inability to afford  them  but with these not so new arrivals, my financial ability has been somewhat elevated.

On my way to the bus stop in town, I always pass by a second hand book vendor. All the books I so proudly own have been bought from this particular guy, who already knows my name, perhaps because of his subtle charm and boyishly good looks…ahem, I digress. With his wares neatly arranged on the pavement, he beckons me with his sparkly eyes to go pick up a book. Many times I have had to pretend I have not noticed him and rush past, in the fear that stopping by would dent my measly student purse. Every now and then though, I give in to the temptation, especially when my small purse is sufficiently furnished, forgetting that I still have other more pressing needs pending to be settled.

So I am that weird girl, squatting down on the pavement, running my fingers over the creases and folds on the book covers and sniffing them. I have read quite a number of posts about the enticing smell of old books and I cannot agree more on this. I always get a rush admiring all those books laid out in front of me, amazed at the fact that despite their being in good condition, I am able to purchase them very, very cheaply. In my currency, each book would roughly translate into slightly over USD 1.

There is a charm that a used book possesses. Perhaps it is the thought that some other pair of eyes pored through it, some other hands cupped it and some other fingers flipped the same pages you are flipping. I often wonder what the previous owner of the book was like, what condition they were in when they were reading it, what purpose it served them, why they chose to give it away… I live two worlds down the first world and these books come in from far and wide. I suppose that also adds to the excitement of reading them. It is always a pleasure to stumble upon an unfamiliar, foreign, store receipt stashed in between the pages that was being used as a bookmark. Often I have come across an autographed book or one that was presented as a gift, with handwritten wishes on the front page.

The sentimentality a used book possesses is what will always draw me to them, even when I will be past my struggling student years and much better off financially. To all those souls scattered about the globe that have ever given away a book, thank you. You have quenched many a people’s thirst for words and sentimentality.


Despite the Virtual

Today in the bus on my way home, I was contemplating the subject of human connectedness. You could say it is my recent, not so pleasant online ‘experience’ that sparked it. It made me evaluate why I felt the need to be romantically involved with someone, miles away, our only form of connection being virtual, which in its nature is very limited. No wonder I was so unsettled throughout the span of the whole ‘thing’. Perhaps that was also due to my intuition remote sensing his foulness. But never at one point did I feel I was fully and truly in a relationship. Something crucially integral was lacking. Yet, I held on to it for a while.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not trying to disparage long distance relationships (LDR) at all. According to the effusive testimonials posted online, a great number have worked out, even those that began online. I admit I was a big fan of those LDR sites during the tenure of my online, long distance ‘thing’ as they kept me from surrendering myself to a mental hospital.

A friend of mine asked me whether it is possible to develop feelings for someone online or is it just projectionism. At the time, I answered it is possible as my feelings towards online romance had been thawed by the obliviously blissful situation I was in at the time. However, now that my head has sunk lower in the atmosphere away from the clouds, I think I would have a different answer. Well, at least with regard to my situation. I definitely projected these feelings on the person I thought I was involved with. Heck, I had feelings for an ‘idea’ of a person!

Why would we be willing to participate in a virtual friendship or relationship knowing very well that it is such a limited version of the real thing? Why would we be willing to substitute raw, uninhibited, wheezing laughter for little yellow smileys and LOLs?  I suppose the answer is that we as humans have an inherent need to associate; to be needed by another, to be wanted, to be thought of, to be dreamt of, to be remembered, to be missed, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, for being. Despite the restlessness and anguish this mere semblance of reality causes we still embrace it because we seek relationship even in its encumbered forms.


Stupid Girl…

So I got sucked in…

…into the warped, distorted world of…I cannot even think about it without cringing and stabbing myself in the foot…the warped, distorted world of, online dating. Now I would not normally do something like that, I thought it was for loosers and look at me now sitting in the looser corner. But in a moment of carefreeness, I decided against my better judgement to go along with it.

“I am sure you get this all the time, but you have amazing eyes…”. That is how this silhoutted avi first struck up conversation after viewing my online profile on a chat site. I was not looking for romance, and typically in such situations, I would just carry along the harmless flirting with no intent of pursuing anything serious.

“I know it’s virtual, but could you be my girlfriend?”

Aargh. Stupid, silly, naive, soppy, delusional me. I said, “Why not? What’s there to lose?” Well, there is your sense of reality hitherto to lose, that’s what. I really was hopeful, I have to give myself a pat on the back for that. A sarcastic one, if there is anything like that. He was 8,000 miles away. Promises of, “I want to come to (my country) really soon to visit my intelligent, witty and exotic girlfriend” abound.


That should have given it away. Fast forward, I came to learn I presented an opportunity for an exotic, romp…because I am this exotic, sexy beast. The fact that  I am still a virgin excited him the more at being this exotic, sexy beast’s debut sexual experience. The nerve?

I “broke up” with him last night…on Messenger, after realising he was just a cocky, brash, sex crazed sham. My daydreams of running up to him in slow motion at the airport upon his arrival at my city and being swooped up in his arms in a strangely familiar embrace came crushing down, miserably.

I am glad I nipped this delusion in the bud though. All I have to say is, never again!

Stupid, stupid, girl.


Show thyself, ye distraction…

I am having one of those days where I have so much to do but I sort of slow down. Not to be self-indulging, but that fact about myself has always fascinated me. Not in a good way, though. Whenever I am swamped with work, my response is always to virtually shut down and look for something else menial to do. I have my undergraduate research proposal word document, open, staring at me, reminding me of how much I still have not done. There is my supervisor who I have been avoiding for I have nothing substantial to show for my research work and I would rather just duck whenever I see him than have to suffer the embarrassment of having little to show. Exams are tauntingly peeping at me from around the corner (Which corner is always beeing alluded to in that phrase? Why couldn’t it be from the edge of a circle?) My room, do we really want to get into that? I do not live in a hurrricane prone region, but you would think a hurricane rummaged its way through. Then there is the usual emotional clutter which I would rather sweep under the carpet…figuratively of course, because I do not actually own a carpet.

So as usual, I will desperately search for a distraction. Just to get away from the mundane and often drab duties I would gladly, if I were rich, pay someone else to do for me. Here I am, typing away at a sulk laden post that will more likely than not get a few eyes rolling, assuming that there will be eyes willing to suffer through reading this. Hopefully, I will get a sudden rush of enthusiasm and give my proposal the attention it deserves… Till then, I will be haplessly clutching at a menial distraction.


“Please lace my shoes…”

That’s what she asks me ,every now and then whenever she needs to go to church on Sundays or just take a walk and enjoy the sun outside. My aunt, who’s 20 years or so my senior, lives with us. You see, she’s mentally challenged so she cannot stay on her own. She used to live with my grandmother upcountry, but when she passed away last year, my aunt came back to live with us. She also lived with us while I was a kid and would help around with the chores. Even then, when I was old enough, she would ask me to lace her shoes for her. She’s never been able to learn how to do it.

Sad that she cannot perform this simple task for herself, it does make me feel quite useful because she still needs my help after all these years.It’s interesting how a simple request like this could just be that boost you needed on an otherwise melancholy day. We all need to feel important, useful, needed even if it’s through performing as simple a task as lacing someone’s shoes.