Life in the Times of COVID-19


Nizamabad, India.

20th March, 2020; 8.50 pm

She took a sharp turn on the road toward her hospital, her friend tightening her grip on her shoulder, their duty was about to start in ten minutes. They could see the hospital now, when Shiny’s phone rang, and she answered it, replying on her head phones.

“Yes, we are almost there. How many centimetres is she dilated?”

Hina could hear the sister’s reply, 9 cms.

“We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. Keep the labour room ready, okay?”

They just had to cross a signal and they’d reach.

“Who’s on call today?”, asked Hina

“Rama Ma’am. And this is her patient only. I really hope there are no complications ya” replied Shiny.

“Posiitve thinking, I told you na. You are wearing your ID card?” There are a lot of policemen today..because of Janta Curfew maybe.

“oi! stop!” called out one of the policemen on the side of the road, just after the signal.

Shiny spoke first, “Sir, we are doctors, going for duty. Our hospital is right here.”

“You first get down!”, he yelled. “Show me your license!” he demanded, lookng at Hina.

She obliged. Personally, she wasn’t afraid of policemen, but she could see Shiny’s hands were trembling.

“Where are you going, ha? kiske saath sone wali hai raat me?” (Who are you going to sleep with tonight?)

Hina couldn’t even think, “Sir, humlog doctors hai, night duty hai and patient emergency me hai” (Sir, we are doctors, we have night duty and our patientis in emergency)

“All of you lie saying the same thing! You women have no shame”, he was still yelling.

Shiny said, “sir please check our IDs”

“It’s janta curfew today! You didnt know? You will go against orders, you cunt?” he was yelling at the top of his voice, while coming closer and closer.

Hina looked at his badge, squinting to read in the dark, and did not see it coming, he had slapped her so forcefully, she fell down. Shiny was screaming. two other police officers were behind the first one.

Without a second thought, blood ringing in her ears, Hina got up and slapped him back. Within a few seconds, the male police officers dragged her by the hair, pushed her against their car, and handcuffed her. Shiny was still screaming. Her phone had started ringing, they pushed them into the police car and ordered the driver to take them into custody, saying “saali bataata hu tera ab, thaane me tera maza chuata hu” (I’ll show you when we reach the station)

Shiny was still sobbing. Hina was furious, this was uncalled for, and they had laws against abuse of female prisoners. How dare he slap her, when all she was doing was heading to work?

“Shiny, call Raj and tell him to come here, and message sister and tell her to handle the case with someone else for now”, she was trying to think amidst the rising bile in her throat and the panic of the situation they were in.

She did, and said,”Ma’am, you should not have slapped him back, why did you do that? Look what has happened now!”

“He cannot arrest us, Shiny! Women cannot be taken into cutsody after sunset! He is wrong here! Let Raj come, let him deal with this,” she started pacing the cell in panic.

Raj arrived in fifteen minutes, but it took them an hour to complete the paperwork. Shiny was beside herself in anxiety, the patient had pre-eclampsia, which means she could die of seizures during or after the delivery. Hina was numb, angry, she couldn’t figure out what to do or say. The police officer who slapped her came to let them out and said, “for this man you came out at night? If he didn’t pay your bail, I would show you a better time” and he walked off, smirking.

Shiny had her hands on Hina’s arms the whole time. “Please dont say anything,” she murmured against her back, “please ma’am!”

They walked out, and Raj was there, “What happened guys? He said you slapped him?”

Hina was quiet, she couldn’t say anything. “How much did you have to pay? we’ll pay you back” said Shiny. “I’ll tell you later”, she replied in a quiet voice to Raj.

“Ey, don’t be silly. Pay back later, let’s go to the hospital first. I got your bike keys, I’ll go and get it after I drop you both,okay?

Hina nodded, gratefully.

“Who’s on call for you all?” he asked, when they reached the hospital.

“Rama ma’am”, Hina replied.

“Sheesh. Tell me how it goes, okay?”

They hurried into the ward, knowing full well no explanation would be able to calm down the anger of their consultant when she found out both her PGs were absent while her Pre-eclampsia patient delivered her baby.


I’ve given up

I’m giving up on trying to please my mother.

This is it.

No matter what I do, it’s never right, enough or even done.

She told me yesterday I don’t do anything at home.

When I’ve been cooking breakfast and dinner since last September when she cancelled the cook.

And Its been only me in the kitchen since lockdown started

And some days when I make something different that has me working since 10 am

She starts making an elaborate dish of her own

Just so that she doesn’t have to acknowledge that I did something great

Because she did something great ofcourse

And she’s the mother so everyone has to praise her

And she obviously has more experience so it’s easier for her

And Everything I do is disregarded in a second

And that’s what she means when she says I haven’t done anything at all

Because whatever I have done, she has negated it

One day, I didn’t cook at all

And she did everything by herself and now has started telling me every chance she gets

That I didn’t do a single thing all this time

That she has been slogging everyday

Are you as confused as I am?

Whether this is my mother or my mother in law?

Life as an Indian woman


I woke up today determined to forgive everyone and especially myself

To start a day mending fences between my heart and my mind

Knowing that not everyone can think like me or that I do not have to get everyone on the bandwagon of equality, especially not to love them

I do not need them to be how I want them to be for me to love them

Because I love them nevertheless

And to have a tiff at something that is never going to change and spoil everyone’s mood and have everyone hate me back as opposed to the irritation I feel for them

Is not my idea of a good day

So I’m determined to let my opinions stay locked in a box

So that I can be called nice and sweet by the world

Non-confrontational. Kind. Simple. Easy.

These are the words the world will use.

Not knowing that underneath lies a volcano.

I concede.

I’ll be a woman you want me to be. Pink. Sweet. Nice. Blonde. Unassuming. Silly. Dumb.

As opposed to opiniated. Irrational. Arguer. Fighter. Brash. Complicated. Insane.

I concede.

Life as an Indian woman

It started with..

It started with me asking my dad to send me to get the milk, and not my lazy irritable brother

Because then his irritation at being asked to do something would spoil everyone’s day

That made my father angry AT ME

Because in my house, you cannot say anything to my brother because he’s male

So obviously now my father is angry at me for being angry at my brother

So as usual the guilt is on me for upsetting my parents but the crux of the matter, that he should be corrected for, is forgotten.

Everything that he does, be it calling us sisters “dumb” or “crazy”

To not getting up to do any chores

Is sanctioned by the patriarchy in my house

It’s okay for him to sleep till 6 pm and stay up all night playing games and not get a job and eat outside everyday

As long as he is sweet to them when they meet him

His chores are picking someone up, or greeting people when they come home, or get things from the market, or fixing the car or bike

And he does them grudgingly but that’s okay, cuz he’s a guy

Sometimes he’s still a kid, obviously, he’s just 25!

But mostly he’s tired from having gone out or driving a bike or doing these chores which he does after waking up at 6 pm

The rest of us wake up in the morning, make breakfast, serve tea, go to work, come home, make dinner, serve tea, finish work or study.

The rest of us are women. So we must slog.

The rest of us studied and scored medals. Work with passion and on the path of success.

The rest of us are women.

The rest of us come home to be scolded about not giving enough time at home.

I’m told that I have more compassion for my patients than I do for my family

I’m scolded saying I’m going to destroy my family someday

That because I cannot hold my tongue, I’m going to destroy my marriage

That the way I cannot stand my brother’s shortcomings is an example of what a lousy wife I’ll be

That if I don’t cook on time, my children will starve to death

I am a woman. So I have to hear this everyday while I live here

And no matter how many times I say there is no difference between men and women when it comes to family and that both have to do equally well

I am held to higher accountability.

Because I am a woman.

Life as an Indian woman

Do you ever feel what I’m feeling?

Do you ever feel like the world is closing in on you?

Even though you are sitting in an open space, sunlight on your face and the trees around
Yet it feels like thhe world is closing in, your head is pounding, your temples feel too heavy

And you try to watch a movie or dance or shake the feeling off

But the tension has moved to your jaw and now your whole head is in a vice

And you feel stuck, unmoving, breaking into the unknown and the world is closing in and your heart is okay but your pulse is pounding in your head and you cannot stop it

Ever feel like if you take a break this may go away?

So despite the gratitude you have for being at home and having your bills paid and not having to worry about anything,all you really want to do is run away and leave and live by yourself because this constant belittling is enough

Do you ever feel like all the stories you’ve been told about men and marriage and in-laws have put you off men completely?

That even if you ever love someone you do not trust them to be good to you and so you leave because you just cannot take the chance?

That being alone is much better than being hurt? That even if you do not have sex, or have a man touch your body, it’s okay because atleast you don’t have to take PV exams once a year

That your vagina may atrophy with misuse but atleast you won’t need to keep a man by your side just to keep it satiated

That even if you don’t get to have kids it’s okay because atleast you won’t be on 24/7 duty and taken for granted and being told it’s your job

Do you ever feel that maybe it’s not a bad thing to “end up alone” because eventually we all do end up alone, either in a marriage or outside of it?

That it might be a better life single and independent than it maybe married and lost in it

That maybe you are not like everyone else who can trust easily and be happy with massaging the male ego

That being belittled comes second nature to some and they are okay with it

That not wanting to be insulted by being called a “woman” is how you’d rather live

That being told that women are dumb and stupid and clingy and irrational by men who are not half the person you are is not how you want to live your life

That one comment from a man IS enough for you to walk out because it shows his innate nature and you do not need to see the ugliness of it.

Do you ever feel what I’m feeling? That true independence is not the freedom to dress or talk or work but the freedom to REJECT relationships thrust upon us by the world?

That if I don’t want to, I will NOT marry and I will be okay with that… But will you be okay with that?

Life as an Indian woman

Real life

Mornings are beautiful, I wake up thinking about the sunlight and how much I’ll miss this if I’m dead

And therefore basking in the warm glow a little more, slower, better

Until I realise what the world sees me as, they see me as a thirty one year old woman who hasn’t been married yet and acts as if everything is okay

I realise no one wants to marry me and even if they do, I don’t want to marry them

That now I’ve passed the stage where I can be second best to someone else

I want to be the best always, and I’m used to being the most important person in my life

And I cannot give that up

I don’t think I have it in me to tolerate a grown man smirking at me and mansplaining

Or telling me that staying at home is my job or kids are my responsibility

Or waiting at the table and asking for dinner

And acting high and mighty because he got a Y chromosome

Or threatening me with divorce if I don’t stay in my lane

Or blackmailing me with my parents health and asking me to dial myself down a few notches

I don’t think I have it in me anymore to take an Indian man’s bullshit and self obsession

To treat him like a God and be a doormat

Or to forget that I am worthy of being loved

I’d rather not have a man by my side and have no love than have one who makes me feel unloved

I’d rather ofcourse have a man who loves me and respects me but I’ve understood now what exactly it means to build castles in the air

I had in my grasp a chance to be with a man who respects me but I wasn’t willing to let go of myself and start all over again in a place where I am nobody

And I gave it up

And a huge part of me knows it was the right decision to make

But I’m sure I’m going to be made to regret this decision one day

How pathetic that life has to revolve around a man, and who has accepted you into their lives.

That your worth is determined by who you are married to

And that if you are not married, your worth is not as much as you think.

How pathetic that women should be screened by a hundred tests but men only have to turn up being decent and it is all okay.

How pathetic that I’ve crossed the age where saying any of this would not make it sound as if I was bitter or negative.

I didn’t find any man worth giving up myself for, and I do not want to settle. That is that.



Do any of you feel this way?

Like the world is borne on your shoulders

A moment’s reflection feels like a whirlpool in the Pacific

Breaks you open like an egg, cracked shells everywhere

Egg yolk dripping like a broken dream

Cascading over a sea of unfeeling thoughts

Do any of you feel this way?

Like speaking the truth of what you feel may cause the world to turn against you?

AS if every breath is just an armour to protect you against the onslaught of death in the battle of realness

That when hypocrisy pulls a spear at you and you duck, it just laughs and laughs till you get up, fling away your truth and join it’s side

Just to keep breathing.

Do any of you feel this way?

Like your throat is constricted with a thousand unshed tears

Begging to drag you into oblivion if you give in and cry

That within your throat, the desire to escape this life is so great,

It burns you from inside and rips you into pieces, one by one, dragging your pain into the bowels, slowly burning holes into your stomach that you can not help but feel, everytime you eat, it feels like it will kill you

Do any of you ever feel this way..

Like there’s a band Playing in your head, a drumroll you want to stop, but the beat is still on,

There is no other music,

Just a hammering into your skull

Asking you to end it all

How simple it would be

To sleep.

Life as an Indian woman

How to fail at living as a single woman – 2

Most days I wake up trying very hard to be grateful to be alive. If I start counting the things I’m truly grateful for, I’d start with my parents, being secure with a roof over my head, and not having to pay bills. I had zero idea my entire adult life that bills were being paid. This may sound like being rich, but it’s not, it’s just how life is when you live at home. There is a second side to this coin, which is being told that I don’t need to worry about things like that because “you’re a girl”. Yes, you got that right. You thought Mrs. Maisel was pathetic for not knowing her house deed was not on her husband’s name? All indian women can relate, because the minute we ask about finances, we are told “not to concern yourself with that” and “I’m handling it”.

My whole childhood, I wanted to grow up and earn my own money and be my own person. This may sound strange to non Indians, however majority working indian women will accede to how important this statement is. There are two types of Indian women, generalized; one – who want to get married asap and therefore everything they do is just to get to that goal, whether it’s education or a job, and two – who want to succeed in life and therefore everything they do is leading upto that goal, and even marriage is a step in that direction.

Now mostly the second type of Indian woman has parents who ALLOW them to be who they are, or are smart enough to make their parents think like themselves. That’s the kind of Indian woman who is taking the country forward. The first type, unfortunately, are the ones who destroy a woman’s credibility. They join high power jobs and leave it when they get married, get to certain points in their careers then give it up to get married. This was a type of woman I never really understood. But now, I’ve seen into the viewing glass for type 1 and see their subclassification more clearly.

Type 1 Indian woman is again of three types.

The first, type A, is someone who only wants to get married and have kids. No matter what others say or think. Good for them. They are not hypocrites. They are clear about their goals and are confident enough to admit it.

The second type, type B, is the sad type. They are actually smart, intellectual girls, who’ve been seduced by the idea of marriage, and get married with the false notion of having a happy ever after, only to be told to stop working after marriage. The husband or in-laws do not approve. They do not like clashes so they give up.

Now the third type, type C, is the one who VOLUNTARILY gives up her career because she has too much to do at home, with kids, no help from paid help or other family members, and therefore needs to lessen her burden. Now this category has two types again – (C1)one who is happy to stop working, because she is more home oriented, and the second (C2), who resents having to stop working. Her career was her life and she gives it up – because no one came forward to help her in her household chores, this causes even more resentment towards everyone involved and a whole life of regret from that point onwards.

Majority women relate to type 2 of the classification. We argue we will never stop being type 2. But eventually, most indian women are pushed into type B or C of type 1. This is the saddest reality of an Indian woman.

If you are a married woman, which type are you?

And if you are single, which type do you think you will be?

I insisted I will remain type 2 my whole life. Until I grew up and was told that the reason I was educated was to be married to a guy from a good family. This is the harsh truth no woman wants to hear. This is also the gratingly sick reality which destroys the entire purpose of a woman’s existence to ONLY Being a wife. If this was all she was meant to be, of this is all that is her worth, how can you say gender equality exists??? No man is ever told his purpose in life is to marry a good woman. It is an expected goal but never the reason why he was educated or the reason why he exists. A man is never told that whatever he is, is secondary, being a husband is his primary occupation. Although, come to think of it, that’s sounding even more plausible to me now!!!


How to fail at living as a single woman

So a single Indian woman. What do you think that’s like?

Mostly the day starts with trying to race to the kitchen and make breakfast, which I do again for dinner. Staying at home as an adult sucks cuz life becomes a blur of racing to the kitchen and still being told I’m not doing as much as my family members. That’s what my life is like. A perpetual competition. And if I ever say I did more than anyone else, immediately the scales on my side start getting lighter with words like “incomplete job” “didn’t put on the lid yesterday” “fridge was left open” or some equally apalling shitty inconsequential to the universe thing which really should not matter in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve thought so many times about leaving and staying by myself in a place of my own, but my mother apparently “loves us too much to let go” which are fancy words for doesn’t trust us to go live alone and will not explain to her beloved relatives how she has “let her child go astray” because that’s what living alone in my family means – going astray. In other countries, it may be a socially acceptable thing for an 18 year old to move out, the only thing 18 got me was a phone. I couldn’t even have permission to “eat out” until I was 26, and even that I just stopped asking, to avoid the hassle of a lecture on how only wayward girls ate outside in public and will this now mean I’m going to tarnish the family reputation by hanging out in public areas.

Too many women get married by the time their 22 or 24 to realise how rotten the system of Indian parenthood is. Unfortunately, I thought being single was better than being an Indian housewife, and took the road less travelled by, and oh trust me when I say it’s made ALL the difference. I completely see what others in the rose-tinted glasses of marriage fail to see – the absolute hypocrisy of Indian parents.

Everytime I get a proposal, it used to be weighed with pros and cons, and so far, cons won out and we said no. Looking back, I realise my cons were based on how happy I can prospectively be, but my parents cons were based on how good it makes them look, bringing a family into ours. Ofcourse, marriage is about how much you can show off, isn’t it? So is Mr. Ophthalmologist a good enough candidate, in that will people appreciate my match making skills? He is tall, has a decent family, but has no property saved and lives in a rented apartment…hmm.. that would mean my daughter will progressively look poorer by each passing year, and people will definitely comment on their low economic status.. never mind, next!!

And so the search continues.

Also, Indian marriages are actually between the parents. So are your parents courting my parents enough?? Did they bring sweets? Were they polite to them? Ofcourse, we will give a dowry but if you ask for it, then you are out. Why would the guy want to talk to the girl? Is he too forward? Does HE make the decisions?? Why isn’t the guy talking to the girl? Is he not interested?? Is he GAY and only doing this to appease his family? Does he have a relationship with another woman? Sometimes, it does come down to what the girl actually wants. My daughter wants to work after marriage. You need to decide whether you are for or against right away. Taking permission to work in 2020 may seem stupid to some of you, but it’s still the most important thing in India. If she works, the money is hers or his? According to too many indian families, a woman’s salary is obviously her in-laws to do with as they please. She has zero control over it. Sometimes, they say yes while they court your parents, and turn against you after the marriage is done, citing reasons of “not enough dowry”, making it sound like the modern version of a bonded labourer. To keep submitting your salary to your in -laws until they decide your debt is paid off. Which is mostly never.

So why do Indian women even bother getting married in the first place? I used to think the answer was just one word – sex. But turns out, it’s more complicated than that. The most easy answer ofcourse is sex, but there’s also a certain power in being a married woman – you get to crib about your in-laws and husband, and that makes you officially an upstanding citizen of the community, with privileges like commenting on others’ marriages, why the woman next door has spoilt children, the lack of attractiveness some women have that’s driving their husbands away, getting youngsters married and most importantly, commenting on why singles are failing to get hitched, which in case of boys is their inability to hang on to a proper job and in case of girls, anywhere from her weight to her dark circles, or her inability to be a sanskari indian girl.

Articles like this cannot just be winded off, because how much ever this started as a rant, social issues take up our whole lives, especially of women, because after all, aren’t we complainers? I love it when men comment “oh we have it so much more worse than you do”, because that line will give away the level of maturity or empathy a man has to women, which is none.

To be continued!

book reviews

Eliza and her monsters

Eliza and her monsters. .

To be two people at one time and not having them meet, is the most difficult way to live life.
Eliza Mirk was everything she wanted to be as Ladyconstellation, and was not comfortable with who she was as Eliza Mirk. That’s really what this book is about. To be comfortable in your own skin is just as important as being successful or getting into the right college or finding what you want to do for the rest of your life. .


Ofcourse, as the author says, it’s a tribute to fandoms and fans everywhere, and it’s evident in the way Eliza says she owes her fans a good story because all her success is because of them. Everything she went through in the book as a popular comic writer was mainly because of the anonymity, and that was because she was not comfortable being who she was. .

It all comes down to this, while on the path to finding what you want to be, try finding out who you are as well. No matter how different you are from your family, they are the only ones you can rely on in times of crisis, so talk to eachother even when you don’t think they’ll understand. It may not be possible to have a lot of friends who care about the same things as you do, but when you do find such people, hang on to them, learn to forgive them and yourself because any form of love requires forgiveness and understanding. .

I loved this book, despite not understand much about Orcus and the comic World Eliza created! .
A good read for above 12 yr olds! .

✨You found me in a constellation ✨


Today was an unusual day. It started out with my being terribly “buy anti-emetics and electrol” and “put an IV in me” sick, which obviously involved the whole family, despite it being the first day of Ramadan. I was in such bad pain, for the slightest moment, I wondered if death would be this painful.
We keep growing up and celebrating birthdays and living life, but I think about death on an almost everyday basis now. I’m always thinking about death. I don’t know if that sounds morbid, but it does help me appreciate the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds, it helps me bask in the early morning sunlight without hurrying. It makes me want to absorb the thrill of being alive, rather than just existing. I think about death so often that sometimes I wonder if I’ve lost my sense of youth because of it.

Perhaps I’m making life decisions based on this thought process. Because if I am, I’m already half dead inside. My morbidity seems so strong inside me, and yet I do nothing to counter it. I cannot even write. Usually, when emotions run high, poetry comes flowing out like a river when the dam is open. But death or thoughts of dying do not open that dam. They keep it tightly shut, hence no writing can happen on that. And thus, the silence of death rings it’s sharp bells inside my mind and not on the page.

I think of death so often, I wonder if I’ll miss being alive when I’m in the grave, or will I be too busy worrying about my sins..? Will I miss the gentle pitter patter of raindrops or the orange sunrays seeping through the clouds like the warmth of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day? Will I miss doing nothing and planning my days, while I look at the muddy ceiling from inside the grave? Or will the white shroud block everything of the previous life and will it just be an emptiness till the day of judgement? If it’s just going to be an emptiness, why do we get lonely when we are alive? Why aren’t all empty emotions reserved for life in the grave and all others for when we are alive? I can understand negative and positive emotions, I can, but I cannot understand emptiness. It feels like such a waste of time sometimes, to have these empty years which mean nothing, to keep going on and on and on. What purpose do they serve? What purpose do I serve? What IS the point of life if it has to be lived quietly?