“What do I believe now?”

(How a simple question from my father got me thinking about ‘facts’ and ‘truth’)


I “What you get on your television screen and what you are reading in the papers are all lies.” In which my father worries about my health and education and I start questioning the truth

    “Appa, I’m going to be at a protest tomorrow at college, about the JNU issue, I might break my other leg before I come home if the wrong people show up!” I told my father in a flippant manner, three days after I’d just broken my left ankle.


“JNU? This whole Afzal Guru business? Why would you want to be on their side? Those people must be punished. I don’t understand why people are supporting people who are against the country.” He said with a puzzled look.


“Do you even know what’s happening, pa?” I asked him.


“Those people are screaming stupid slogans on campus, I’m all for free speech, but that is just outrageous. No should speak so badly against their own country, especially when they are all from here. And you’re a student, why aren’t you studying when you’re in college.”


“Pa, they did not scream those things, where did you get your information from? The TV? The videos that are doing the rounds are doctored, that too by Zee News. They aren’t the ones who were sloganeering, but even if they did, it’s all allowed under freedom of speech, isn’t it?”

Record scratch! The tapes were doctored!

“There are things you can say and things you can’t. And also, what is this you’re telling me that Zee news are putting out doctored videos. How can you say that, it’s a news channel!” Almost laughing at me.


“Pa, that’s the thing, the news channels are not reporting what’s really happening. All the things you’re seeing on the TV are not really true. The ABVP and BJP have planned an attack on free speech through this JNU issue, and the news channels are going ahead with all of that. What you get on your television screen and what you are reading in the papers are all lies.”

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Free speech? What’s that? Picture credit: Goog Jrle images


My father had the most helpless and scared look in his eyes. “What do you mean! We only believe what we hear and what we see. I read the newspaper every morning and watch television news every night, and have been believing it for decades. You can’t just say it’s all wrong. What do I believe now?”


II In which I face an existential crisis: Question everything


That question got to me. What do I believe now?


It got me thinking. People don’t usually think twice when it comes to news they read. It’s the same idea as when people would believe anything that a scientist say, even if it sounds ludicrous. It’s the same mentality people have towards journalists. We never question something written in the newspaper or on television. We consume thousands of words, and voices and images each day over the papers and the screen and take it for granted that the “responsible” journalists would bravely and surely tell the truth.

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Protests at JNU Picture credit: Google images

But the reality, at least when it comes to this issue is that that isn’t true. Zee News aired doctored videos related to the JNU issue, which were then picked up and circulated by various other news channels. All television programs had heated debates about what had happened, and all but branded the students of the prestigious institution terrorists. This was not responsible journalism. A biased and misinformed Media, and social trial of Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid happened too. Arnab Goswami of Times Now, openly said “I am naming you as anti-national tonight,” and “You (Umar Khalid), are more dangerous to this country than a Maoist terrorist!”


III “A slave is no longer a slave when he starts to fight his own slavery”; In which I try to find a resolution

I come back to the question, what do I believe? In our own college, we had the screening of the documentary ‘Fabricated’, which deals with the story of Abdul Nasar Madani, a Muslim leader from Kerala, who had been jailed for years, without any standing evidence against him. It was made by KP Sasi, an activist-filmmaker, to whom had I had a chance to ask this very same question.


Filmmaker and activist KP Sasi Picture credit: Google images.

“A slave is no longer a slave when he starts to fight his own slavery”

That line rang a bell. “You should always question everything you are presented with. The system is built with layers and layers of lies. We live in a world where you can be presented with lies on a national level and still get away with it. But the only recourse in a system like this is to fight, and question everything.”

Arundhati Roy at JNU

I kept thinking of what he said. I got home, to continue the same conversation with my father. I felt like he was still shocked by the revelation that I’d produced to him.

I looked at him, and said, “Pa, keep looking for the truth, you won’t find it initially, but if you keep looking and keep questioning, you will find snippets of it over time, and piece together an understanding for yourself. It might feel like a lot of work, but the current system makes it so that anyone who is a passive listener is fed lies. It takes active thought and a sharp curiosity to cut through the dominant discourse and find out for yourself what you should believe in.”
He sighed a little, still with a disappointed look on his face. I went and fell asleep.


Mystic Messenger has taken over my life (a.k.a. my terrible excuse for being inactive)

I never thought that a video game would affect my life so hard. But that’s exactly what Mystic Messenger has done.

Mystic messenger is a female oriented, otome game that was created by a South Korean company called Cheritz. The game is mainly a number of chat rooms where the gamer can chat and interact with other AI characters. Pre- programmed replies are offered that the gamer can choose from and enter accordingly, they get hears from the AI depending on their response. The entire process takes 11 days and features one good ending and a few bad endings.

mysmes opening screen regular

Opening Screen to the game

mode select

Mode Selection


I decided to try the game and downloaded it several times actually. The first time I downloaded the game I was in my PG. The end of the month internet was being a crabby little baby, and wasn’t connecting well so after I sat on the loading page for a while, I gave up, exited, and deleted the game. When I went home for my semester break was when I managed to get the game to load on my phone, with good, strong home WiFi.

The game featured five male characters and one female character, Jumin Han: a businessman; Yoosung Kim who is a college student; musical actor Zen, a hacker who is introduced as 707, and Jaehee Kang who is Jumins’s assistant. There is also the photographer, V, who in the beginning didn’t really play much of a role in the game as he didn’t have a route the gamer could play. So that’s how the game works, the more hearts you get from a character the more you lean towards their route. The first time I played it I got most hearts from Zen and therefore from day 5 onward I got to play his route, earning me a good ending there.

In August, (2017) on the day of the games one-year anniversary, Cheritz announced that along with the two stories the Deep Story and the Casual Story, they were adding a new part to the game called another story. There was a lot of speculation as to who the new route would be about. Most fans were fighting over V and a minor character who went by the name ‘Unknown’ (the main antagonist in the game). And after a bit of a delay with the release, Cheritz pushed the release date to September and confirmed fan suspicions. It was the V route.


Playing MysMes is not like an average otome game. Admittedly, I haven’t played too many otome games myself but I tried a few others after I played MysMes and I didn’t find one which was as appealing. MysMes take things to a whole new level. There’s a complex storyline that grabs your attention as you play, secret after secret keeps one glued to the phone screen. Initially when I’d first downloaded the game and seen how much time it was taking and how much it would affect my sleep schedule (there are chats that open in the middle of the night when every sane human being is supposed to be asleep) I thought I’d play one route, during my holidays, finish it and delete the game off my phone. Safe to say, that didn’t work. I played till I had the required number of hourglasses (currency in the game) to open the Deep Story and access Jumin and Seven’s routes. (The Casual story only features Jaehee, Zen and Yoosung) and then in September, I got into the V route and am currently on my 6th day of playing that. It’s an amazing route that’s difficult to play for the choices that MC (main character a.k.a. you) has to keep making.



The thing about MysMes is how much the characters become people you can love and want to talk with. They each have a complex backstory to them which is captivating. You need to know more. I needed to know what happened, which is why when I tried to delete the game off my phone and get back to a regular life where I didn’t have to delete my apps to make space for a game, I was literally constantly thinking about the game. I ended up downloading it again and playing through the routes.

Deleting the game from your device makes you lose all your gameplay from before unless you have it saved, which is why when my phone crashed and I had to have a reset done to fix it I lost all my data. By that point I had played with each character except for 707 and had received good endings in each route. When I got my phone back, I could only retrieve Zen’s route.


Visual Novel ft. V and “Ray” aka Unknown

MysMes is addictive. I’ve spent many days, staying up late into the night to finish chatrooms because if the next chatroom opens before you open the last one you cannot go back to that chat unless you pay with hourglasses.  It’s been a fun experience though, I’ll say. Squeezing in time between classes to finish chats, recommending it to people and then discussing it with them when they play it. Mystic Messenger has taken over my life a little. But I don’t think I mind. I don’t mind at all.


Now imma get back to playing.

Dear Fatophobe

screenshot_2015-02-16-11-12-38-1.png The other day you stared at me in the cute dress I was wearing. I thought it was cute until you pointed at me in it and laughed. I never hated wearing it more after that moment. The day my friend wore something similar you told her how hot she looked. The rolls of flesh on my body recoil and try to hide themselves, only they have nowhere to go. So they ask me to cover them up. And I do. Heat of summer and I’m fully covered. The white vines that sneak up and down my body, around my stomach and my thighs are hidden from view. Like brilliant lightning bolts covered by thick, heavy, clouds. Thick, heavy clothes.


You appeared out of the blue that day. Was it the smile on my face that irritated you or the fact that I wasn’t dressed particularly nicely? A large tee shirt, my glasses, and jeans; and you decided you were remarkably clever and so asked me why I looked like an ‘obese Harry Potter’. Maybe you thought it was inconsequential at the time. Most probably you’ve forgotten about it. But I haven’t. It still hurts me to think of it. I wish it didn’t though…

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 2.58.23 PM

You stood surrounded by so many people. So popular, wanted and accepted. But it wasn’t enough. You had to make them laugh.

So, you saw my body as an easy target and said, “If you were a Pokémon, you’d be Snorlax.


I know my Pokémon, I know Snorlax.  And at that time, I knew that Squirtle was waiting to open the flood gates behind my eyes. It was funny for you. But it wasn’t for me. And it still isn’t.

I see you when you stare at me while I’m eating. Whispering to your friends how I shouldn’t, and how that’s probably all I do all day. It’s fascinating how you know so much about my life. Almost stalkerish I’d say. At the same time, when you see me run you stare and laugh. Fat girls doing normal things is the best form of entertainment when you’re bored, right?

So I cut down on food. And then get hungry and binge. After which I feel guilty and run to the toilet and force it out. It tastes horrible, coming back. And it burns my throat but it has to be done.


Be skinny

And you don’t just stop there, do you? You pick on the skinny girls as well. Say she needs to have more meat on her bones. Why? Are you a dog that will eat her? Crunch on her bones? Slobber over her flesh? Don’t I fit the bill for that? It’s like we’re nothing more than things to provide for you. 6c009767ff520b45caef55d4351d3ade

What pleasure do you get? Is it really funny to see someone’s smile fade away from their face after you insult them? Does it give you some kind of special high to stand around and poke fun at my body? To compare me to others things as if I’m a simple object that feels nothing. That has no mind, no skills of comprehending what you say? You tell me that you’ve been there yourself and people have done it to you. You know the pain associated in that case. You should know how much it hurts. To have everything going beautifully and then, have it crash down upon you because you aren’t seen as worthy. Because my body isn’t pleasing to you if it doesn’t follow the norm. And because I break the rules I should not be accepted into your ranks. Because that is how I feel. Short and fat, with rolls on my stomach that were called truck tires when I showed them to people. Arms, poked and prodded, made fun of for being fat. Every morning, I look in the mirror and hope, to someday, look such a way, that I don’t get up and feel like an outcast.tumblr_static_tumblr_static_filename_640

What is it that you get out of seeing a person cry? To see their day, turn from a good one to a completely shitty one after you open your mouth? The power you hold is great. Really. You look me up and down and make me feel so miniscule and unimportant. Your ever-sharpening wit that brings up new ways of insulting and hurting. You ridicule, and you know what, it hurts okay. It really hurts. Because no matter how many times I tell myself that you aren’t worth worrying about it’s not easy to stay afloat when your ship is being shattered by cannons on all sides.



A fat girl.



Ray of sun that tries desperately to enter the filter of the leaves. 

Brittle snow that melts away slowly off the slanting rooftop, 

Ochre summer wind blows to have a door slammed in its face. 

Only waiting to be wanted but never invited.
Like the paper plate that’s thrown, on the rubbish heap.

Once it’s done being used and can’t be used anymore…

The trash that collects, lying together, rotting, reeking.

Only waiting to be wanted, never taken in. 
Frayed aglet on the end of a rich man’s shoe,

Bottle of nail polish that’s gone clumpy over time,

Sock that’s developed one to many hole.

Thrown away without second thought
Large, loud, unconventional, strange,

Weird habits that can’t explained.

Normal people, they fail to understand.

Only waiting to be wanted, but no one to take this hand. 
Left behind and left alone; no place to call own.

Fell into the cool abyss of monochrome;

Life in shades of darker greys: not rosy rays

Only waiting to be wanted, always taken for granted. 

My Grandmother Died. 

The day after Christmas is now forever going to be, for me, the day my grandmother died. Christmas celebrations weren’t as lively this time. She had been taken to the nursing home in mid-November due to respiratory issues. The day she was brought back was the same day I came back home. She came back in the morning while I landed at night. Though it was late, she’d told my mother specifically to wake her up when I reached. Her face was swollen and she looked awful. I felt bad for stirring her and told her to go back to sleep. We could talk in the morning.  This was the 23rd. 

When the doctor in the nursing home released her, apparently, she was much better. On the way back, the car fell into many potholes on the road. I guess her health fell with it. At home, she was perpetually on oxygen. She was unable to eat practically anything, both because of restrictions as well as because of desire. And had an entire shop worth of meds. She had lost her will to live. And who wouldn’t when all you’re allowed to have is only one litre of liquid through the day…

I hadn’t even considered the possibility of her getting worse from when I’d last come. But she did get worse. Now she was bedridden. She couldn’t even sit up without support. She couldn’t get up without being hauled up like a sack of potatoes. She kept on needing oxygen. She needed my parent’s for almost everything. The entire night was without sleep. 

On the morning of the 25th, Christmas Day, I had accompanied my mother to church. On the way back, my father called. He had decided that the best possible course of action was to have the dialysis done. We returned home and the ambulance was called. I helped the men put her on the stretcher and watched them carry her away to the nursing home. 

I remember, in the start of December, my brother called me to ask me what date I’m coming home.  I told him I’d be back before Christmas. It was then that I had the feeling. Was she waiting for me to come back? Was she merely holding on for just that? 

The morning of the 26th my mother called me while I was still in bed. It was early by my standards. My 6:30 alarm had just rung and I’d silenced the infernal buzzing and gone back to sleep. Mummas shaking woke me immediately. I knew what she had to say even before she said it. “The hospital called. It’s not good. They’re asking us to go right now.” It didn’t take me long to pull on my jeans and the closest t-shirt I could find and get ready to leave. By the time we left, it was almost 7. 

The hospital was close by, when I used to go to the school there, we would drive past it every morning on the usual bus route. Upon reaching the hospital my father went up to her room. A while later he came down and said that they had been trying to revive her and since the process was still on he should wait downstairs. And so, we waited. In silence. I put my hand in my pocket and found my crushed up boarding pass from my flight two days before. I fiddled with it. In my other pocket, I found the hair tie my roommate had gifted me. I fiddled with that too. I wondered how many people were told about the death of their of their loved ones in the same place that we were sitting. I wondered if it happened like in the movies where a doctor wearing a long white coat comes to greet the family and looks sad for them and they all burst into tears and mourn the death. I looked at my shoes and wondered about if anyone would care as much as I did that they didn’t need laces. 

It wasn’t like the movies. About half an hour later my father was called and he came bearing the bad news. He may have been a doctor but he wasn’t the right doctor. He didn’t have a white coat. My father had called my uncle asking him to come to the hospital. He called him again and told him to come to our home instead. 

We didn’t want him to but Baba insisted on driving back. I think it was because he didn’t know what else to do with himself at that time. We rode back in silence. I looked out the window and saw the people setting up shop. The early morning market place was doing full-fledged business, buying and selling things. I wanted to scream at them. Tell them that my grandmother is dead. I don’t know why. I just wanted to. I wanted them to tell me what to do because I didn’t know what to do myself.  

We reached home without me flinging myself out of the car. Then came the job of calling everyone.  All the relatives. First, family was told. Then neighbours and friends. The same thing. Almost like a record. I didn’t cry. I only sat and watched. I looked at the events unfolding around me. The cat looked at us from the sofa she slept on. Oblivious to the gravity of the situation. People running up and down all on phones. I sat. No one to call. No one to talk to. Ready to be told to do something, but not being summoned for anything. But I sat. If I got up it would be shameful. I don’t know why, but it would. I wanted to do something. I wanted to be useful. I just didn’t know how. 

The hospital called for us to bring some clothes for her body. I remembered then that when my grandfather had died I hadn’t cried till they brought in the body. I wondered if I needed that physical proof that the person is gone to actually feel the death hit me.

As time went by and people got the news, the house slowly started to get filled with people. Either offering their support or coming in to mourn with the family. We were kept busy. Chairs were brought out from dusty corners. Dusted. Cats were moved from their sleeping spots and told to go and sleep elsewhere. Ideally, somewhere where a human wouldn’t be sitting. I sat away from the prying gaze of relatives. Away from the crying and wailing of men and women who had known the woman longer than I. I sat and I thought. My mind felt clear. It was a good time to think. To plan out my work. All the work that I had left for the holidays. All the work I had been postponing. I should get down to doing it. Things were going to change now. 

Usually when I go back home I refrain from telling people. So, when I finally came out of the room I was asked, “Oh, did you come hearing the news?” Sometimes mum came to my rescue and answered for me. At other times, I had to say, “No. I’m on break. I came before…” But the reply to that was always the same. And I hated it. “Oh, so she waited for you to come.” Why did she wait for me to come, to die? How am I supposed to feel about that?

When I had gone with my father to the hospital to give the clothes that they had asked for, on the drive there he told me, “Grief is a very selfish emotion.” I agree with him. It is a selfish emotion. Was Dida also so selfish that she waited for me, only to die? Is that what these people meant. “Oh well at least she got to see you/ you got to see her.”  I mean would she have lived longer had I not come? Is that what you’re trying to say? And I pondered on this for a while when I escaped and went into the veranda. But there were people walking about outside also. I suppose there aren’t enough chairs… The cat jumped in and stopped between the grills when she saw me. I looked at her and her green eyes widened and she jumped back out. I looked out to make sure no dogs would chase her. The inside of the house was now stuffy and hot. In the middle of winter Kolkata still wasn’t feeling the regular chill that would previously make our teeth chatter. “The earth is dying…” I thought to myself as I took out water to drink. “And we are all dying with it…”

The hospital, according to some rule, only releases the body 5 hours after the death of the patient. This meant that the release should have been at around 12 noon since the time of death was registered at around 8 A.M. When the body finally came, it was around 2 PM. My great aunt had travelled all the way over from Barrackpore and arrived as the hearse van arrived. I rushed out to bring her in. She broke down even before entering the house. After I helped her in the body was brought in and put in the centre of the living room. I had helped carry the coffee table out into the back veranda earlier to make space. 

Flowers. So many flowers. So typically Bengali; to have Rajnigandha. Big green stalks with several white buds and some opened petals. The sweetness of the smell hit our noses. But the death still didn’t hit me. I stood behind everyone. Peering in from the gaps. Finally, I gave up. The cat sat perched on top of the fridge staring down from her vantage point. Then she got down and manoeuvred between the sea of legs – both human and furniture – and reached the centre where the body lay. She sniffed it and then retreated to underneath the sofa, watching. I still didn’t cry. I don’t know why I was waiting to cry. I didn’t feel any tears. I don’t show tears so easily. So why was I waiting to cry. As the body was taken out into the community hall I thought. “Maybe I feel like I need to cry because I need to show them I am in mourning. People don’t believe you’re sad until you actually have tears running down your cheeks, do they?” I put on my shoes to go out to see the body leave. The last time I’d ever see my grandmother. “Physical proof is everything to people nowadays. I need to show that I’m sad or they’ll think I’m a heartless bitch.” I walked outside. My cousin sister, whom I had grown very close to a few years ago, was there. Her family had driven over as soon as they got the news. Her eyes were red and puffy. She had glittering streaks running down her cheeks. She came over to hug me. I hugged her tightly. I was so happy to see her. I still did not cry. It funny how a time of mourning can bring together people. I hadn’t seen her in ages and here she was now, crying along with the rest of my extended family. 

The hearse van comes. The white swaddle is lifted and pushed inside. People get into the cars. My brother gives me his copy of the key to the house because this time he will be going to the crematorium. When my grandfather died, it was I who had gone with my father. He stayed behind with my grandmother. My father refused to hug me before he left. I don’t know why. Did he also think that I wasn’t mourning enough? That I needed to be crying. I needed those tears to be falling down my face in order to receive a little comfort. I don’t know. 

As the white van carrying the body drove out, my eyes stung. Hot droplets spilled out, instantly chilled by the air. My chest heaved and I released unattractive hiccupping sounds. I really hated 2016… 

The Art of Smiling

I seem to have mastered the art of smiling. No one can tell anymore that its faked. I’m so good at it that sometimes I even fool myself while doing it. It’s simple to do once you know how. You have to lift one side of your mouth. Flash a little tooth. But not too much. Make sure that you aren’t smiling too much. That looks weird and people catch on. Lift your eyebrows ever so slightly when you do it. This will make your eyes appear wider and bigger. And light source will reflect off your irises easily to make it look like your eyes are sparkling. Everyone knows sparkling eyes are a sign of happiness. 

The next thing to learn is the duration. If it’s a chance meeting on the stairs make sure not to stop smiling until you have passed the person completely. Dropping the smile too quickly is dangerous as the one you are smiling at may see the sudden change and know that the smile wasn’t genuine. However, this isn’t hard at all. Chance staircase meets are short and get over quickly. When you are in a group, that’s when things get hard. You need to hold it for longer then. Sometimes even throw in a laugh here and there. Mostly it’s better to just sit it out. Go home and curl up where people can’t see, sometimes it’s not easy to run away. Oh well. In cases like these it’s better to have a bigger smile than usual. Take the corners of your mouth upwards. Make sure your cheeks rise considerably. Your eyes should become thinner. If you can manage all these things you are doing it right. The next thing that you want to be able to do is shake your shoulders slightly, while doing this you can even laugh gently. That really makes it all come together. 

I’ve mastered faking laughs so well that even I can’t tell the difference sometimes. Laughs are loud and unattractive. They are ugly and gross but they are happy. On occasion, you can try to make them so much better by adding in a snort. For some reason, other people find snorts very funny. Oh well, if they’re laughing at the snort, you won’t have to keep up the laugh for so long. You can also try staring off into the distance. I tend to drop out of conversation so often people have given up talking to me in big groups. I don’t do well in big groups. All my dreams of being popular when I grow up have done a complete 180. I’m not popular. I’m a dork. I’m a nerd. I’m an outcast and a misfit. Even among those whom I call my own I don’t feel one. 

It’s only when I’m alone that I truly feel that I belong. Not with anyone. But with only myself. I find myself able to smile to myself. Laugh at myself. Sing to myself. Dance with myself. I guess I’m just special that way. That the art of smiling, comes naturally to me, and to me only.

“You feel so violated it’s sickening…” 


When I started writing this I had no idea I would get such a huge response. I went to my WhatsApp and asked many people one question. “If you have had an experience with sexual harassment and would like to share it with me for an article please message me.” There was a tidal wave. So many people sharing their stories. So many women telling me about how helpless they felt about how horrible it was. I didn’t know how to respond even to some. There were people I’d never spoken to before sharing their stories. This was definitely the toughest piece I’ve ever written. I’ve kept all names confidential. I also never want to read this piece again. It was hard enough to write. 

I always thought that if I were ever touched inappropriately I would kick up a fuss. Probably break the perpetrators hand off. I was wrong. The first time it happened I tried to shrug it off telling myself it was just a mistake or it was something. That he didn’t mean to do it. But the second time I knew it was not. It was done purposely and it was real. It was happening. In my state of shock, the feeling of awkwardness that overtook me was something so overwhelming that I, the one who would always encourage people to stand up for themselves and speak out, was unable to say a single word to defend myself. To defend my body which was so subtly and yet disgustingly violated.  
But this is something that as women we face not just everyday but all the time. From dress codes policing our body to the old creepy men on the road who stare at us to the complete stranger trying to get a phone number. We face it all. And it is scary. In a discussion with my friends, I told them how angry I was with myself for not retaliating to what had happened and they told me that they too had gone through the same. It seems that this is something that we have numbed ourselves to! We just simply go along with it as if it’s a regular part of our day! S tells me how a man pinched her breasts when she was in the 8th grade, when she was on her way to church. She was too shocked to understand what had happened. “When they show girls going into a shell after anything like this I always wondered why.” She said. “Then I realised, you feel so violated it’s sickening!” She tells me that every time she thought about what happened she had felt like throwing up. 

When A was in 11th grade, on the bus home from school she was harassed. “He was leaning against me and I didn’t mind so much because the bus was crowded” She later realised he had been rubbing his genitals against her shoulder. When she glared at him he moved away but she said she could feel him staring. “I just got off the bus.” In some cases, retaliating makes us look like crazy emotional monsters. People stare weirdly and no one comes to help. T tells me of how when her butt got smacked in the middle of a busy road, not one person came to help her. When she screamed at the pervert who did it she was laughed at by bystanders and ignored by the policeman standing there. “It was just so embarrassing!” 

It feels like staring has become obsolete. Groping and touching is the new in thing now. And it is spreading like wildfire. Forget what a woman is wearing, forget what she is doing. They are just silly excuses that we hear. Silly excuses to defend the entitlement of patriarchy. “There was this time when I was in 8th. I was walking back home from school. My home was in a posh and calm neighbourhood, so I had my guard down. I kept walking down the road to my house, when this man- a worker from one of the construction sites nearby- stepped in my path. I was taken aback, but merely curious about what he wanted- up and until he pulled his dick out of his pants. That was where I freaked out and ran, all the way back to my home. I couldn’t sleep properly the next couple of days, because it disturbed me that much.” R tells me. She went on to casually point out how there’s always something that happens in crowded buses, shocking me into realisation that this is exactly how much we’ve numbed ourselves to this kind of thing. K and G haven’t though. G says, “Once I was sitting in the bus on the way back home when the guy sitting behind me slipped his hand between my seat and the glass window and groped me. It must have looked like I was sleeping which is probably why he thought he’d get away with it, but I turned around and fired him. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about and everyone else looked at me like I was deranged.” K had a similar thing happen to her. However, she smartly took pictures of it happening and the conductor of her bus and the people around made the man get off the bus immediately when they got to know. K also recalls the time she was stopped on the road by a man she’s never met before who offered her a ride back home in his car, telling her he finds her very pretty. She says he told her, “Please don’t think I’m a creep I was just hoping to strike a conversation with you!” it was only when she told him strongly to stop that he actually did and finally left her alone. 

The fact that something like this is becoming so regular and almost common place is ridiculous. So many times women are harassed and molested and nothing is being done. We are told that we should not have been doing things and we should not have done things. It’s like we are punished for having bodies. Instead of telling us to refrain from going out in the dark, and wearing clothes they call ‘inappropriate’ what should be said is not to us but to those who harass, instead. Unfortunately, the punishment for being born anything less than a “man” is such. The worst part is that the artful way in which such disgusting acts are so often carried out are often glossed over by many. The discomfort and awkwardness that is created is never understood. I guess you really don’t understand till it happens to you. 

(All names have been kept confidential in order to protect the identities of the women I have spoken to in order to allow them to speak freely.)

Jack the Ripper

​Toward the end of the Victorian era, there were a set of very grisly murders that took place mainly in the east end of London. The serial killer was named Jack the Ripper and was called this owing to the way in which they would rip into their victims and remove their organs. Their identity is still unknown to this day.

The rain that falls outside caresses the glass of the window gently. Golden drops reflecting the street light outside. The fog lies heavy over the town. No respectable person is out at this time of night. Even those of the East End have scurried away to some hovel in the back end of their boxed in homes. 

There is one person outside however. Cloaked to protect themselves in the terrible wet conditions, a hat covering their eyes from any unlucky spectator and a blade hidden in the pockets of that large cloak. Wrapped up well to preserve the shine. To prevent the moisture of the surrounding areas from damaging the blade.

Invisible to the human eye, at least for now, the Collector stands high above the streets. Death scythe in hand she waits, her empty eyes show no sign of remorse or sorrow for what is to happen. She is merely here to do her job. Collect the souls of the dead and leave. Tonight it shall happen slowly and carefully. She has no emotion in her. To her it is another soul among the countless human souls that are being taken from all over the world. In any case, she is forbidden from interfering in the issues that plague the human world.

She watches them walk briskly and deliberately. They have a motive in mind. Around the corner, then the next, cutting through the fog that closed up, swallowing their cloaked figure from behind. But she with her supernatural eyesight can see. The cloak stops in front of a dilapidated home. Inside there is a dim light that struggles to find its way through the grime that covers the windows. The carefully wrapped blade is drawn, and opening the rotting wood door with ease they step inside. A few moments later there is screaming that is quickly silenced. The Collector looks around. Nobody else has heard. Her attention is drawn back to the entrance of the house where the cloaked figure is dragging out a woman. Presumably the one who screamed inside the house. She is beautiful by human standards. Pale skin and a petite body covered only in a dirty white dress. She is alive still, but barely just. 

The collector watches as she is strangled properly by the cloaked figure. Black and purple bruises start to appear on her neck where the rope lovingly embraces it now. And as they do her pulse fades away and her spirit starts to appear next to the Collector. The collector makes her move to take the spirit to the next world but she looks at her with pleading eyes. The spirit is just as filthy as her body was. Covered in mud and hair all a mess but something about her gaze makes the Collector feel sorry for her. “You can stay till the end but after that you must come with me.” 

“I thank ye greatly me lady” the spirit tells her. They turn their attention back to the cloak. Satisfied with his work, strangling her, he takes his blade and rips through her throat spraying blood all over the pavement and the street. Then slowly and what seems to be lovingly they caress the body of the woman and soon get rid of all the organs from her putting them inside the cloak.

Hearing a scream beside her, the collector turns to look at the spirit who is flying down to the cloaked figure. She follows in hast but doesn’t reach them in time to stop the spirit from pushing her murderer down. As her death scythe slices the spirit, sending her straight to the underworld, the cloaked figure rises. They stumble to their feet, blood drips from their body onto the pavement and mingles with the grime. The collector watches as the figure stumbles toward the pier, their own blade sticking out of their chest. When they trip and their hat falls off, long yellow hair cascades down. She falls over the edge right into the murky waters of the river, never to be seen again… 


When you say I’m beautiful, what do you really mean? What do you want to imply when you say that I look pretty? When you hadn’t noticed me before but I suddenly caught your eye, what do these words mean? You, the man who has so many falling at his feet. Why do you notice me now? What makes you say such things that you know I will like to hear?  When you tell me these things I feel like a swallow. I am flying in the air. I am light, free, and yet I am tied to the earth. Forced to come back down when you leave. That is how I felt with you. That is how I was. 
What do you mean when you tell me I am beautiful? Is it just another way of your getting me to fall to your feet like the thousand others you have enraptured. I see how they are, captivated by your words. Your laugh ensnares them. You know exactly what to say to make the yours, and each day you add to your collection. And me? Am I in it? Am I your prized possession? You had me. You caught me. And then let go. So I fell from my place in the skies. You plucked away the wings you once gave me and let me plummet to the ground. Your prized possession? I guess not. In the end, was I more than just another one of those that you used and threw away? I guess I didn’t make a dent. I was just another game to you and I lost while you walked away with everything that I did. And it’s been so long, yet I still know you. I remember you. 

And though it scares me to admit this, I miss you…

Where is God? 

Where is god? I do not know.
Is he in the homes of the suffering?

Where is god? In all this show

Of fire and bodies gathering.

Where is he when those whom he calls

His children are all fighting.

Does he come to help,

Offer some relief to the people who dying?
Is he there, when his flock

Murders in his name?

Does he hide when cruel men

Pass on the blame

Is he there when little creatures

Cry out for his help?

Is he here when evil persons

Wreak havoc and bring hell
Or has he left, ashamed

Of what humanity has become

And drifted far and

Far away from this human scum

For we may be his children but

It’s time that we grow up

See that while we’re different

We are all the same stuff
Blood and pain

Crying and shame

Laughter joy and all that remains

Deep down we’re all just human.

God or not.