How to stop hiding behind Humor

I wrote this, originally, as a sample submission to Berlin Artparasites, and it is posted here-

I have used humour, and painted a smile on my face, to cover what I was really feeling.

It’s not an unusual thing to do; the best of us are guilty of it. Humour can be an amazing way to cope with life and a wonderful gift to give to others; most of the comedians do this, certainly. We all wear our masks, and hide every emotion, other than happiness, behind it. But it could be hurtful to do this to yourself.

I was very shy as a kid, and it is something I took with me even as I grew up. I was quite an easy target for bullies, and to be a little less vulnerable, I made my own mask of humour and hid behind it often. Everyone said that it suits me, and I took pride in it too. I wore my porcelain precision like it was real, but every once in a while, I’d smash something.

If the mask, no matter how well you wear it, gets in the way of how you actually feel, it can be dangerous. There are phrases like- “Smile damn it!” or “Fake it till you make it” being thrown around, all the time, but bottling up your emotions could be the most lethal thing you could do for yourself.

It affects the framework of your personality and boost up your anger or sometimes even lead to depression. Understanding the fact that all emotions are meant to be felt, was difficult, but a revelation nonetheless.

Now I try hard every day to rise above any depressive tendencies that I was growing up with. I cry a lot more than I used to, I express the pain and anger more, but I tell myself that it is okay to feel. You are human and we have feelings.

I also advise others not to bottle up or hide their emotions because it can come out in ways that you least expect it.

This life is both heaven and hell and all we need is to embrace it. Here are things to understand in order to get you started:

It is the first and foremost step, is to tell yourself that your feelings matter – there are people who care. Men are being told all the time: “Real men don’t cry,” and “Big boys do not show emotions.”

What those confused men, buried under the skin of patriarchy, needed to be told instead is that it’s okay, you are human too, and your personality should not be measured by gender-specific standards. You matter!

Women being told all the time: “Don’t be a drama queen,” “Don’t frown all the time” and “Smile, you don’t know who might be falling in love with it.”

What those confused women, buried under the bizarre societal standards, needed to be told, is that it’s okay, you don’t have to fake it to attract anyone, you don’t owe your smile to anyone, you are not a drama queen and it’s alright if you are. You matter!

It is important to understand, that you don’t always need to put on a brave face to everyone and that “I’m fine” is not always the universally accepted response when someone asks how you are doing. People should be told more often by their loved ones that when they ask about their well-being, they genuinely want to know if they are alright. Fake answers do not help all the time; fake happiness does not make you happy at all.

It’s important to understand that bottling up emotions doesn’t make them go away, it comes back, and makes it even harder to cope. For me, it was smashing things. For others, it could be about smashing someone’s head. Anger is the most dangerous when it is bottled up.

It’s important to understand, that there are people, who actually listen when you tell them how you feel. It’s important to understand, that writing down something actually works pretty well when all you need to do is to figure out something (Even if it doesn’t, you will have a new piece of writing anyway). I seek my comfort in poetry, others might find it in music, or painting, find an outlet that works the best for you. Art can be your greatest release. Emotional release is so gratifying and helpful, and art is the best medium for it.

It’s important to understand, that humour is the kindness that we all ought to embrace in our lives, to make others happy, and ourselves too. Humour is amazing if it’s not being used to hide your feelings. Laughter is the best when it’s genuine. Smile when you feel like it, not to wear it as a mask to hide behind.

So don’t go on with your mask, take it off, talk to somebody, write to somebody, or maybe, just sing to yourself. It really helps!


Dear purple eyes

(After Sarah kay- The type)

A friend asked me to write something about abusive relationships/domestic abuse. She asked me to write on the lines- “Just because you love them, doesn’t mean you would let them hit you!” So that she could send it to another friend of hers, to make her understand something. My first thought went to ‘The Type’, a poem from Sarah Kay (my inspiration), and this is what I wrote. 

Dear purple eyes, auburn hair, bony fingers, tiny voice.
your mouth popsicle stained, pouting like a possum, did you see there were crocodiles on your way home?
with teeth sharp, mouth wide open, gasping, inaudible breaths, waiting for you on the sidewalk, on the train station, on the doorstep, on the park bench, on your bed?
Sweetness is what we live for, we,  human beings, fragile beings, as if we were nothing but sugar-coated metaphors, poetic devices and words.
But even sugar scratches the throat from the inside if you don’t mix it well.

So when the hands appear, near your waist, against your lips, searching your heart, playing with your hair, do not flinch,
but when the hands appear, near your hips, against your cheeks, searching your neck, gripping your voice, run!
And when the hands appear, near your spine, against your will, searching your patience, groping your heart, forgive yourself and strike back.

Do you know what it’s like, living in a home where the walls are foreign?
Do you know what it’s like, to eat your home-baked cookies, and taste nothing?
Do you know what it’s like, to get hugged by someone so tightly, that no air gets left in your lungs?
You know what it’s like, don’t you?
Do you know what it’s like to be loved? – Don’t tell me.

The walls you built were not meant to be broken, but someone broke it anyway,
Weren’t they supposed to climb on it, though?
The lips you are chewing right now were not meant to be red, but someone brought the blush anyway,
weren’t they supposed to kiss them, though?
The ring on your finger was not meant to be so heavy, but someone placed it anyway,
weren’t  they supposed to give you wings, though?
Don’t say a thing- ask yourself.

To love, and to be loved- there is great freedom in it.
But a broken bottle and glasses of wine, heaven for 4 days and hell for 3, I don’t understand what love could be so intermittent.
There are no crocodiles on the sidewalks, but there is one in your home, there is one in your arms,
My darling! What has happened?
You were top equal of my every love poem.
when did you start waking up with black eyes and call it love bites?
when did you start confusing claws for fingers?
when did you start stuttering? you were the one who used to sing so sweetly, don’t you remember?

Dear purple eyes, auburn hair, bony fingers, tiny voice,
grab your pencils, grab your heart, grab your courage, grab your voice,
Rise up, up and above, up and there you go, in the air, in the wind,
there is a place that you will love,
and this time, it will love you back,
don’t look down!Capture 2

The stories of Partition

1947, Undivided India:

1947, Kolkata:  A twelve-year-old is hiding in a graveyard, with his family. He’s heard the cries in the streets, and he could see the clouds of smoke gulping down those cries. He knows it’s searching for him, he has seen his people being taken away by it. He needs to get to the train to Dhaka so that he could forget how the land he was born in was burnt in such fires, that even the tombstones weren’t left.

1947, Delhi: A four-year-old sees her mother with starving eyes, waiting for rotis, as her mother burns the stove with trembling hands, remembering how the fire took her husband, just a few days ago. The news of rioters heading towards their neighbourhood comes with a man covered in blood and fear, on their doorsteps. The family of two, runs away, leaving the flame on the stove burning. She comes back, as a grown woman from Karachi, to find the flame still intact.

1947, Punjab: An eleven-year-old, with his innocent eyes, looks at the men of his family, picking up guns as their home burns down in ash. There was singing in the streets, and sights of infamy, complete families being butchered and the villages being smoked up, the 11-year-old finds his voice lost in battle. After many moons and years, he’s still finding his voice in gun powder and graveyards.

1947, Lahore: An eight-year-old doesn’t understand what is happening in his village, and why his mother is wailing and clenching her ears praying for the commotion to stop when all he could hear is silence. He is not old enough to understand the difference between the silence and the noises of death. Life was simple before this silence, and he couldn’t understand why were they running away, in trains and buses, to find more silence. The faces were unfamiliar, and yet they were not.

1947, Haryana: A fifteen-year-old fills his pockets with postcards and runs away from the beloved streets, which were now filled with angry mobs armed with swords and axes. He could see his people lying in the bloodshed as the caravan he was sitting in, passed through the macabre of war. He was separated from his father when the hatred was burning down his old home to the ground, how is he to forget the mobs that took every wood left of that house to burn in their own fireplace? He showed his postcards and crumbled maps to his children, years later, as bedtime stories, so that they could understand that the hate is never the answer.

“I will never forget my home,” said one,
“I don’t even remember what colour the walls were” Cried another,
“All I know is that the windows were stained and no new flowers grew” whispered someone from the crowd.

Kuch katre yahan bhi bahe,
Kuch aansu wahan bhi bahe,
koi barf ki chaadar me so raha tha,
koi judaai ke aansu ro raha tha,
ek ghar tha mera bhi chota sa kahin,
Dhoond rahi hu, par milta hi nahi.

We held hands, again

On the very first day, You told me I was magic,
I laughed rather shyly because so were you,
and even though your eyelashes were long enough to touch my cheeks, when we were close enough,
You still kept your eyes shut, for you already tasted all the fear on my tongue.
We were soaked in aesthetic pleasure and the scent of wine, and so I stole some of the delectable cologne you were wearing and kept it into my pocket. We held hands.

After some days of the very first day, you told me I was an ocean,
I agreed, and told you not to drown,
and even though you were shedding sweet words with a fluency which warned me of the practice you have had, You still said my name, like no one, ever had before, I was either a fool or someone who witnessed a poem with no words being created that night.
We found the box of Eros for us to stay for the eternity, and so I painted little windows and a rooftop using all the colours from your eyes, to see the stars in the night. Our fingers made love.

After a few weeks of the very first day, I told you we were stardust,
It was the most poetic thing I could have learnt from science,
and even though our fingernails knew each other, skin by skin, I kept my eyes open to watch you in wonder for days, for I couldn’t place the exact sapid spell that you must have used.
We spoke beautiful sonnets with our eyes, and so I wrote little tales on the leaves that were floating aimlessly through the windows and asked them to return. You spill wine on my dress.

After some time of us living in our box, you told me I was a painting,
I found myself staring back at me from a canvas,
and even though you used all your expensive oils in the horrid work, by which I’m trying to say that you were no Picasso, you still managed to give the exact shade of blush on my cheekbones, for you used your fingertips as the brush.
We kept our eyes closed, hands stretched out and hearts open, and so I sang all my favourite songs and whispered their meaning into your ears, to see if it tickles you. We danced on the table.

After many moons of us living in our box, you told me you were lost,
I couldn’t understand what you meant,
and even though you started painting beautifully, with the kind of genius I could never touch,
you still couldn’t do justice with the colours, for you knew you were painting dead flowers anyway.
We glanced at each other time to time and didn’t understand what was happening, and so I painted a new room for me to read my books, and found new stories alone. You painted more dead flowers.

After the perfect eternity of us living in our box, you stopped telling me things,
I stopped asking you question too,
and even though you kept painting about the things I used to write poems about,
you still painted dead flowers behind them, for I never told you how I hated them.
We stopped meeting each other on our own accord, and so I stopped writing our stories on paper, bed-sheets and new leaves that float by, they never returned anyway. I threw away the dress with the wine stain.

After I left our box of Eros, you called me with my last name,
I didn’t mind at all,
and even though you ran out of oil paints and didn’t bother to get new ones,
you still painted something using watercolours, real dead flowers, and even kitchen oil.
We were just a few moons away from forgetting the sonnets we once claimed ours, and so I visited once or twice to find our stories from our beds, but they never tumbled out. I bought a bike.

After a few years, you were utterly confused,
I never liked bicycling, but I did anyway,
and even though you sold some of your paintings, to buy oil paints and make new ones,
you still couldn’t understand why the leaves came floating inside from the window with written words on them, for they made no sense, but kept telling you they were asked to stop by.
We made new stories, but forget about the ocean and the stardust, and so I traced back all my paths to find the box of Eros, and I found it one day. I smelled familiar cologne.

I asked if you knew who I was, and you asked if I remembered who you were,
but nothing mattered anymore.

And on the very first day, you told me I was magic,
I laughed, but disagreed, because I wasn’t,
And though your eyelashes were long enough to touch my cheeks, when we were close enough,
You still kept your eyes shut, for you already tasted all the fear on my tongue.
We were soaked in aesthetic pleasure and the scent of wine, and so I stole some of the delectable cologne you were wearing and kept it into my pocket. We held hands, again.childhood-love-couple-wallpaper-768x432

Feminazi- What is that?

“Feminazi- a radical feminist”

When I noticed this word for the first time, I brushed it off, on natural impulse, thinking that maybe it is a spawn of a creative, yet misogynist mind, an individual, trying to argue against feminism on the internet, and the word shouldn’t be given any notice. But then, it was everywhere, in the blink of an eye. I was horrified of course, and tried to know what exact meaning does it offer on the best research platform I could have laid hands upon- Google! And the results were chucklesome, yet inappropriate for my anxious feminist heart.




a radical feminist.
They gave us a new name.
They compared us to Nazis. They are so afraid of the constant efforts of extremely intelligent women and men around the world that they are trying to give us a bad name.
And in the very next moment, Every voice being raised was brought down with the label of double standards.
Everyone started complaining about the people complaining about real issues. Everyone was offended.
feminism in itself was being tossed around like an insult and still is.
there were long discussions, whining sessions and arguments. They even asked us to check our privilege and invalid questions were being bombarded on us.
On rape culture, they came up with the arguments like- “Men  get raped too!”, as if, men getting raped doesn’t come under the ‘Rape culture’.
When the ‘Movember’ was started to raise  awareness for prostate cancer, no feminist threw pink bras at the movement asking-“But what about Breast cancer?” But the vice versa came into the picture so inevitably that it doesn’t even shock us anymore.

I call myself a feminist.
I believe in equal rights for all the genders and I don’t really care that the term ‘Feminism’ sounds sexist. I know the definition, unlike many, and just because it’s called feminism instead of Egalitarianism, Which obviously advocate the same ideas, I won’t take the word in any anti-equal context.
I couldn’t care less that the word sounds like it is only directed towards women, just like I couldn’t care less that the word ‘Mankind’ sounds like it is only directed towards men because it simply doesn’t!
I’m also Egalitarian, or a Humanist, or whatnot. It’s not a zero-sum game.
And trust me, we’ve heard it all before, you don’t need feminism, you don’t need more rights than you already have, but how about you look beyond the picture?
All the arguments you present against feminism are actually not against feminism.

“Men get raped too, and they are not even treated as victims.”
–  Firstly, men getting raped is a real issue and should get its own voice, rather than just getting used as an argument against women getting raped.
The misogynist society doesn’t let men to be soft, to be the victim, with the belief that only women are the weaker sex. The problem is not feminism, but quite anti-feminist.

“All feminists hate men.”
– The funny part is, that all the people who would like to conclude all feminists as man-haters are the ones who clear their throats to sing the same old “Not all men are the same” song.
I consider myself a feminist because it’s also simplistic and regressive to attempt to label a diverse movement like feminism as majority or universally, and simply because some people perceived the extremists of feminism  as representative of the ideology, just because it didn’t fit their agenda, it wouldn’t stop me from advocating equal rights

“Women suffering in the Middle East deserve feminism, not Kim K with her nude picture on the internet.”
– Why does her photo exclude her from Feminism? Why does a body come into the picture anyway?
The women suffering in the Middle East deserve feminism, the women working in the First World country deserves feminism, The 12-year-old boy in India deserves feminism, how difficult is it to understand?

Okay,  I’m also an atheist, or a lover of science, or a dreamer who doesn’t dream of fairy tales. I believe in facts and evidence.
You want to convince this atheist, feminist, brown girl? Stop presenting anecdotal evidence and pre-prepared talking points based on emotionally charged mud slinging. Give me real evidence. Give me data. Give me statistical studies that prove feminists to be a man-hating regressive ‘nazis’  that counter the studies that show that acts of equality are often seen as a reversal of aggressive dominance to someone used to being dominant.
Prove to me that we don’t need equal rights and there is absolutely no sexism present which majorly affects females and other minorities.
prove to me that women dominate the world when they are actually objectified on a daily basis by both men and women around the world.
Prove to me that you were all about equality without feminism.
prove to me how feminists are the members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party that are trying to invade Poland.