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Only half a year is gone, but it has brought us sorrows of a century. The horrible deaths of Jayaraj and his son Bennicks is a new violent chapter about the disturbingly repeating accounts of police brutality in India. I could not finish listening to the distressing account of the alleged custodial torture which had allegedly led to the death of father-son duo, the first time I heard it. It was so horrific that, I had to stop listening to it in between.

Like many, I also want to believe, this year does not exist in my timeline. We saw migration of human beings for kilometers on foot, with no food and water; with nothing left in their hands except marks of hard labour. Their flesh burned on the tarred roads. We saw people dying in huge numbers day by day and the leaders immersed in throwing dirt at each other. We saw children eating grass. Then we also saw government looting people in the name of poor, and the rich being spared from spending their wealth. We saw man pleading of breath under the chockholds of power. We saw people being killed brutally, torturing ech inches of their body by the men in uniform, who had sworn to protect them. We saw our lands being encroached. We saw denials. We saw miseries, everywhere.

But the fate Jayaraj and Bennicks had suffered surpasses all boundaries. Is there any humanity left in us? As per newspaper reports, father and Son were taken into custody alleging that they kept mobile shop open beyond the permitted hours. What happened next is beyond human imagination.

Brutal custodial murders are not isolated incidents in India. It is a recurring phenomena. The Hindu had reported that, 1,731 custodial deaths happened in India in 2019 and that would mean that five deaths happens in India, in such manner daily. This is the outcome of a rotten and barbaric policing culture followed by many of the police officers.

One of the main reasons for repetition of these incidents are the lack of evidences, which makes it impossible for the prosecution (if any) to win. This gives a feeling of security to the criminal minds present among the police. Marshal Miller in his article ‘Police Brutality’   has listed the reasons for lack of success faced by the prosecutions in cases of police brutality. According to him “evidentiary problems render prosecutions of police officers difficult to win and thus infrequently brought” and “institutional pressures work against local criminal prosecutions”. He adds that this is “because of their close working relationship”. That is the reason why cleansing of the police department is as important as prosecuting the accused officers. Because, most often the undemocratic and corrupt elements present in a system will actively work towards rescuing the offenders.

Custodial deaths are not the only thing to be prevented. The police force all over the world are being accused of unwanted arrests, custodial rapes, harassment, non-registration of cases and the list goes on. Strategic reforms aiming at removing the criminal and illegal elements from the police is the only effective solution for all these.

Discussion on police reforms is not new in India. It started even before independence. From time to time, new suggestions were put forth and few of them got implemented as well. The first post-independence committee on police reforms were set up in Kerala, in the year 1959 and many other states followed suit. In 1971, Gore Committee on Police training was appointed and thereafter, in the year 1977 National Police Commission was appointed. When the recommendations by the National Police Commission were being ignored, seeking implementation of those, public interest litigation was filed before the Supreme Court of India. This resulted in the iconic judgment of Prakash Singh v Union of India (2006) .During the pendency of said case two committees were appointed, namely Ribeiro Committee in 1998 by the Supreme Court and Malimath Committee on reforms of Criminal Justice System in India, 2003 appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.  Apex court had issued seven directives in Prakash Singh case for Police reforms. They include, constituting State Security Council to ensure that to prevent State Government from exercising unwarranted influence or pressure on police, appointing State police chief based on merit and through a transparent process ensuring at least a tenure of two years, separation of investigation and law and order wing in police, Police Complaint authority to enquire into the complaints against police.

But many of the States were reluctant and slow to even pass laws for implementing the Supreme Court directions. The Supreme Court had to appoint a committee to monitor the steps taken by states, after two years of monitoring the implementation process by the court itself. This committee had once expressed its dismay before the Supreme Court stating that only 17 states chose to enact an Act, to implement the directions in the judgment. This shows the attitude of the Government towards reforming the Police Force. Incidents like Thuthukkudi deaths shows that, the reforms are yet to reach the ground level. Even now there are many promises of reformation are remaining unfulfilled.

The reluctance to remove criminal elements from the force has cost us many lives . It is threatening the security of the citizens, thereby negating the very purpose of having a police force. It is high time to take steps. The training given to police should also focus on instilling humility and constitutional values in them. The should be focus on rescuing the force from intrusion by corrupt elements and punishing the offenders in Uniform.#justiceforJayarajandBennicks.

Little piece of my childhood

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When she blooms in the night, like stars in the night sky , she used to fill the air and my heart with an alluring scent. When I was a child, my neighbour had a Jasmine plant. Her long hands had grown in every direction hugging a dwarf mango tree. Every girl in my locality was an admirer of her. Every day, dressed up like a bride, she will uncover millions of white buds. We were jealous of her beauty and we all wanted to steal at least a part of it somehow. But we could hardly convince our neighbour to let us pluck her flowers.

When I saw the picture of an indoor Jasmine plant in a pot, all i could think was about the beautiful Jasmine my neighbour had. Many nights I had waited just to watch her buds bloom, since her fresh scent was intoxicating. We used to hang around her, for the flowers she might drop. We used to groom her and bend the branches of the Mango tree for her to reach. How devastated we used to be, when many of her limbs get broken during every monsoon. But she would always come out of every trouble, and regain her elegant self quickly.

As I grew, and as she became older and older, it became so easy to forget about her. When I saw the online picture of the Jasmine plant, I tried to recollect “when did she die?”. I don’t know. May be someone did euthanasia.

How we forget about things that mattered the most to us? Broken glass bangles used to be treasured by us and now we dump them in a trash can without a second thought. Remember those days, when we used to keep the peacock feathers in our notebooks, for it to give birth? Though, we knew we are being stupid, it didn’t stop us from dreaming about beautiful colourful little feathers born out of her. Today, we plan our dreams, using calculators. Sneaking out of house, from the watchful eyes of mother just to play in the rain used to be our fun. Today, we curse our fate for leaving home without an umbrella on a rainy day. We have changed .I think, growing up is synonymical to losing touch with who we used to be. We let our little self die inside.

The little kid in us used to be happy about the little things we have. Even a torn cloth was enough to built a castle. Now we have more than enough but nothing is enough. Because we feel nothing is going as planned; missing the beauty of uncertainties. We need some reminders in our life, to keep in touch with our childhood, so that, we don’t stress out about the unwanted things we need.

So I decided to bring a small Jasmine plant home to get a piece of my childhood back.

Writer’s Block

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My brain is exhausted thinking about completing the unfinished write -ups. They keep popping up randomly, and I just can’t focus on one. So when I sat down to write, between my fingers and keyboard, words went missing. I just can’t find them. I think they took my imaginations and ran. Here I am, hitting nook and corner of my keyboard and I just can’t formulate a meaningful sentence. So, the number of drafts grew and piled up like non-degradable waste.

I opened my window and wished for something inspiring to happen. Nothing happened. How strange it is, that sometimes we have allot to say, and our mind starts to buzz with so many ideas, but we end up confused and say nothing? I think, we need to just throw all those ideas in to a dust bin, so that there is a clean space for us to think.

So I started reading all of my unfinished drafts, one by one, to decide which one has to be thrown out. It was a bad idea. My intention to declutter and my self, cannot work in harmony. Each draft gave me new ideas. They multiplied like virus. They infected my mind. When I was about to choke to death, a new realisation hit me; words are not workaholics. They don’t understand schedules and plans. They are free spirits. They will only visit, when they feel like. We need to vibe with the words. It is a genuine relationship that can’t be forced. Pretending to be someone does not attract them. It scares them away.

So I selected all my drafts, and pressed Delete. If they are strong enough, they will survive. Now I am waiting, for the words to come back to my screen.

Lives bloom in different colours

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Colours! some dark and some bright; Some like a garden and some like a night sky. They are vibrant varieties of rays travelling with its own unique wavelength. Their contrast and their similarities, their willingness to blend together and then diverge into thousand perspectives make our lives intense.

To the human world, colours are not just the images that fall on our retina. They carry many more meanings. Languages adopted colours to define times and explain moods. Politics took up colours and changed it into ideologies. Colours became festivals. Colours got converted into moments caught up in pixels.

But the colours, that mean no harm were destined to carry unfortunate burdens as well. World got divided into black, white, brown, red and yellow. People with same emotions and similar dreams got split. They were thrown into pits filled with hatred and anger. Colour decided right and wrong. Colour enslaved lives, and started wars. Colours, that are supposed to merge with each other emerged as a barrier.

Some among us have become so senseless that, they can no longer see beyond colour of skin. They have turned our lives into a mess by preaching about greatness of one over the other. They could have held hands irrespective of the colour and led our generations through a peaceful history; to an optimistic future.

Lives are blooming in different colours. These variants are meant to strengthen our society and nurture our culture. More lives will be lost and more dreams will be crushed if we just refuse to believe it. It is painful to see humanity pleading for breath under choke-holds. And I am terrified of the chaos it will uncover.

Colours are characters with pure souls. They are spread out for us to see the beauty in all things. Do not get fixated on one colour. Let us not make our lives a monochrome. Fill it up with every colour. Remember, all colours together make this world alluring.

Hibernating memories

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Another Eid came and went. Entire world celebrated it during the lockdown. For me, Eid is only about family time. We have never celebrated Eid in an extravagant style. Due to the relaxations in lockdown conditions in Kerala, I was able to visit my parents. Therefore, it was as normal as, and as beautiful as, last Eid.

Lunch was followed by heated debates on politics. Then, we all got lost in our solitude, for some time. I went to my old room. Apart from some new cardboard boxes filled with unknown items, it remains the same. But it is tidier than I remember. I sat on my bed, where now the prayer mat of my mother is kept; neatly folded. A silent smile escaped from my heart, thinking, how I used to hate anyone else entering my room. The room was filled with a mysterious feeling, like a painful happiness. My brother, who was passing by, asked me, “oh! Sitting here being all nostalgic?” Yes! That was the feeling; nostalgia. It has been 2 years since I have sat in my room like that. This room is a witness to my life and a trustworthy secret keeper.

The room knows me in and out. It was place I go, to shed my emotions. I had sat on the floor next to my table and cried silently. I had lay down on the bed placing my legs on the window bars starring aimlessly at the fan leaves; vegetating. I would message him at late night hiding under the tent made out of my bed sheet. I used to laugh pressing my face to the pillow, so that others won’t wake up. I built my secret little castle of love inside my room and filled the gaps in my drawer with his gifts and hid my diary behind the wardrobe. My room was not a mere spectator. It always held my hands; sat next to me. We painted a dream world together. A world, which often gets attacked by my over pouring emotions.

There are so many secrets, we share only with our room.  Our bed room is a visible version of our space. I ran my hand through the books on my shelf, pen on my table and the wardrobe filled with my cloths. My parents have kept everything like the same, as if, they want to feel that, I am still living in my room.

My little possessions in the room; they are not mere objects. Those are memories. The magnets on the wardrobe door, folded pages of a novel, cap less pen, broken pencil, rusting tiny trophy, and coffee mug; They are all memories, which I forgot without meaning to. We cannot take all of our memories with us wherever we go. Some memories, run off. But some get attached to the objects we leave behind. They live on those little things, and hibernate, waiting for us to return.

I wished like a muggle; if I could do the extension charm on my little pouch like Hermione, and take all those little memories wherever I go; as a reminder of my past, as a companion for my present and as a souvenir for my future!

Sleeping words

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There was a WhatsApp status put by my friend, asking for suggestions from others for the title of her autobiography. She has a beautiful name, “Maitreyi” . It is only due to my love for that name, I suggested “Maitreyam”. She also has the crazy habit of scribbling and keeping notes like me. When I asked whether she is planning to write one, she told me she might write an autobiography in future, if she feels like her life has become meaningful. May be if she was the one to ask that question first, I also would have answered the same way.

But every life is meaningful. When Anne Frank wrote the diary, she was an ordinary girl, hiding from the Nazis. But later what she wrote, became inspiration for millions. Our life become meaningful, from the moment we are born. It is not any celebrated status or position that makes our life meaningful enough to write an autobiography. Honest words are always meaningful. One should write if one feels like.

As I am writing this, I cannot help but wonder, how many great experiences we might have missed, because the writers decided to conceal their ink? We have set unspoken standards, making everything so tangled and confusing. We will spend our entire life trying to untangle it; doubting our abilities; questioning our desires and will slowly get lost in the maze drawn by us.

We scribble down our thoughts, re-read them, alter them and then hide those from the sight of others, thinking those are not worth reading. Then the very same us, will read other books and will be jovial for establishing a mental bond with the writer; never realising, our lines also would have made such wonders.The fear of being tagged as ‘not worthy’ make us abort our creations in the womb itself.

Writing turns words into emotions, and when someone else reads, those emotions turn into relations. When we hide what we have scribbled, we are closing the door towards thousands of invisible but meaningful relations we could have had. We are cutting the ties with ourselves and with the world; without knowing it.

All those words, idle on the pages of our note book, sleeping silently near the dry rose petals and colourful peacock feathers; they should be awakened. They don’t deserve to be forgotten like a lost love. They were us once; Our pain, dreams, laughter, love and anxieties. Without them, we may not have travelled this far. They deserve to see the light. Let us not judge them. They will derive meaning for themselves on their own.


Getting back to work during lockdown.

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High Court of Kerala is reopening tomorrow.It surely gives me a hope that, everything will get back to normal. After college, my office is one of the few places where I have felt like ‘I belong here’. I had to take a small break due to health issues. It was really hard to take that decision and stay home. Within few days, the pandemic outbreak began, and soon, lockdown was declared in India. One of my colleagues said, “the entire country took a break with you.”

Since the first day of lockdown, I have gone out of the house only four times. Twice for buying grocery and twice for morning walks. Now that lawyers are gearing up, to get back on track, the realization that many things as I know have changed make me nervous as well. Earlier, while at courts or office, my worries were mostly about work. Now, I will carry a lot of virus induced anxieties too.

I am used to many things; rushing to a colleague’s desk for help, standing close to each other during every day meetings, using neck band of others, eating near the crowded food joint or in the canteen, shaking hands, sharing food, drinking from bottle of others, doing quick research from the Association library , heading to the filing section to cure defects noted by the filing section, finding a way towards our files in the crowded 3A courtroom, leaning towards the handrail of the escalator. I may not be able do any of this anymore. It is difficult to let all those habits go.

I know that everybody is scared and there was a shadow of realization on the virtual faces of my colleagues that we will have to learn to live with this virus. But all are scared about the chances of carrying the virus home. Therefore, everyone will try to keep a distance from each other. These are hard times and we need to fight it to go forward. Or as my Senior told me, “no more fights, we need to deal with it.”

The physical distancing may not affect warmth of any relation. But, how can I stay 6 feet away when I see my friends again. It is going to be really hard to re-learn things like, how to express emotions and how to contain it. While going outside with a mask glued to my face, what affected me the most is, the vanished smiles. It looks like one grim world, with all those smiles hiding behind the masks. However, nothing can hide the reflections of a beautiful smile in one’s eyes.

Sometimes, it feels like living in a fictional world of Hollywood movies. And I am afraid that, our world will be remembered as ‘before and after Covid’. There may not be any more time on the beaches. There may no longer be sudden plans for a Munnar trip. There may not be any stand-up comedy nights anymore. There may not be any drive to Queen’s Way. Even then I am happy. Scared, but happy.

I am really glad that there is a ray of hope, and I have decided to cling on to it. I am happy that we are far ahead of many countries in preventing the spread of covid. It was on January 30 that the first case of Covid was reported in Kerala, and all Keralites stood as one and the Government did their best. I am grateful to all. I am happy that I am able to go back to my office and see those familiar faces. I will be able to do what I know and forget about the bleak news I hear every day. There will be a sense of purpose every day.

So I am getting out tomorrow, to resume work – intending to develop some new habits to stay alive, and importantly, stay happy .

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Travelling is liberating; from the usual meaningless daily routines; from the gender duties imposed by the society; from the accumulating files on the desk. May be that is our reality. We were never meant to settle down.

We were meant to be wanderers. We were meant to follow the seasons. We were meant to migrate like birds. We were meant to swim with the currents in oceans. But we chose to settle down; like dust. We enslaved ourselves to the systems established and evolved by us. We became prisoners in the fortress built by ourselves.

When we travel, we get this unexplained feeling of fulfillment. We have realized, that we can’t live without those bike rides. We know how much we miss opening our car windows when it is drizzling. We want to travel towards the sky, take a dip in pristine waters, play on sandy beaches, follow the trails in a forest or may be create one ourselves, sleep under the stars. I don’t think we are supposed to travel towards our destiny. Travelling is our destiny.

This is why , this lock down feels like an imprisonment. We can’t wait for all this to get over. We can’t wait to visit all those destinations in our bucket list.

wisdom from a tree

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It is half past three in the evening. I am laying on my bed clutching to my mobile phone, with my Laptop on the side. My brain is pushing me hard to go to sleep, but I was determined to stay awake and write something.

After spending around 2 hours in the kitchen, trying to make a dish with Soya Chunks, which ended up like an emulsion of tomato coloured water and gravy with Soya chunks floating like ice bergs and tasting just like water. Like punishing oneself for her own sin, I took some rice and the so called curry I made and tried to finish my lunch. When hungry husband who was immersed in a webinar asked for food, I served him as well. But like always, he was not diplomatic with his words in describing how pathetic the curry is. I could not stand it. After swallowing the remaining food, I escaped to the bed room. To punish me more, the power went off and the bed room fan stared at me blankly, with “I can’t do anything” look of some High Court Clerks. Cursing my fate, to invite fresh air inside, I opened my bed room windows, which were hiding behind the curtain, suffocating itself in the dust that had settled there in the past few months. I don’t like cleaning windows. I always come up with an excuse in my mind for not doing it. But today, I felt sorry for what I have done to them. Surprisingly, the breeze which rushed in was cool as the dark sky kept the promise and started to rain.

I got bored of staring at the screen, of being angry at my husband for not eating the food silently and of pitying myself for my inability to produce anything appealing today; either in the kitchen or on the screen. Somewhere in between being awake and asleep I read about a woman who lost her twins in her womb. I don’t know whether I was dreaming or I was imagining about my kids I never had. When I woke up, rain was pouring down heavily. Two years of marriage is two days away, but we are still living the life of bachelors. Class room reunion Zoom meetings, WhtasApp groups, and Instagram pages are filled with children of my friends. But I am unable to get hold of the fact that, my peers are growing, or that I am getting older.

We couldn’t even come to an agreement on buying a puppy. We have even had fights on who will look after the imaginary puppy. I just don’t know, how the short tempered, care free me can agree to give up my priorities and take the lifelong pledge of looking after someone. And I am unable to explain to myself the feeling which explode in my mind when I hold a baby. The confused, childish mother in me may never give an accurate answer about me having a baby.

Whatever be the progress made by the society, struggle of a woman to make a mark in her field is still the same. Because if she fails once, she might even be denied a second chance. I have heard many declaring that, women can always quit their jobs and be house wives. Like, she always have a ready, risk free and appealing career option. So if a woman fails, she will be easily written off and shown the way for home making. When a woman becomes a mother, majority expects her to quit the profession. I am not being a man hater. From my experience of practicing as a lawyer for around 6 years, I know this for sure. Majority of the skilled, enthusiastic girls disappear from the court halls after marriage, and many after becoming pregnant. The remaining adamant few have to prove themselves every day, otherwise will be easily tagged as derailed. I am afraid, will that be my fate? One invests years in her career. Even the thought of giving up is scary and so is giving up many other things. Will I be able to find the balance between what I want and what I am? It is a challenging quest, which I should do alone.  

It’s kind of funny that, I search for my child in my husband. It’s like closing my mind with a lid to contain the thoughts from popping out like mustards in hot oil. I can only conceal it. The mustards will pop anyways. Finding answers to the opposing emotions inside us is the most difficult challenge in life. No one teaches us how to answer it. The more I try to be rational the more those get entangled and sometimes even strangle me. I am struggling with these thoughts, since the distractions are few.

May be it is not so hard for some people to take decisions in life, who greets the life as it is. But for people like me, who is stubborn on overthinking everything and then being anxious about it, simplest decisions are the hardest. We often say, things will happen when it’s time. But how can we leave our life decisions to time? Most of the things that happen in our lives are untimely. I was supposed to be travelling this vacation and here I am locked inside my own house. Time has, its own plan, or it makes up the plans while it runs. It has never paused even a second to think about us. Never will it ever. It is futile to trust the time. At least we should be able to own our lives.

The sky is stretched like a dark canvas, but it has stopped raining. The weather was gloomy and a bird was singing. She sounded very lovely, but lonely; or maybe I am the gloomy one. I could sense the hurricane of thoughts shaking me from inside, and there is a tree standing still outside. It looks so peaceful, like a meditating yogi. I looked at it for a long time as a disciple eager for guru’s wisdom. That little bird flew away from the tree’s branch to the unknown, maybe I should also let my thoughts go for now!