To The One Who Continues to Live In Our Hearts

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My eyes were fixed on the roaring waves that late evening. I was standing on the land, where my most admired person ever belonged to. The sky was almost dark as the gloomy dark clouds almost enveloped the sky. The waves were high and their roar was easily heard.
The sight wasn’t pleasant, it was scary and chilling. My heart was already beating faster, for my life was hanging on a cliff with uncertainties.
I walked towards my mother to sit beside her, and I could make out from her face that something was wrong and that she was avoiding to tell me.
I kept quiet and did not ask her anything. We got into the car to drive back to the place. Throughout the journey I kept glancing at her, she wouldn’t notice me, which she otherwise does. 
We reached the guest house and switched on the TV. I was trying to look okay, since later that evening I had already gulped down a bad news.
The news flashed on the TV screen about death of APJ Abdul Kalam sir. I was numb and shocked. My mother then broke the silence by saying, “I got to know about the news when you were at the beach.”  On asking why she did not tell me about it then, she replied that she did not know how to give me another bad news.
Tears started to roll down, and my hands inked in black color of the smudged kohl. God rained grief all over me that day and I wonder if he is really kind to me.

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I was in Chennai and I wanted to go to Rameshwaram ( where Abdul Sir was born and raised in) but life is cruel sometimes, and I couldn’t go. 24 hours round trip was impossible then.

The reality hasn’t sunk in yet; however, his loss is replaceable. He was a benevolent human being who died doing what he wanted to- Delivering a lecture at one of the top engineering institutes in India.
There can never be another APJ Abdul KalamPeople’s President, Missile Man, the man with wings of fire, and the one who read and respected both Hinduism and Islam.

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I remember when he was just a distant away from where I was standing during a conference. I was blessed to have a glance of him, to hear his words of wisdom and to be a part of his audience. I still remember each story of his life that inspired countless people.
His words still echo inside my head.

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character.
Where there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the Nation.
When there is order in the Nation, there is peace in the World.
-APJ Abdul Kalam”
Today, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s mortal remains would finally be put to rest. My Akhari Salaam to Kalam Sir.

All the love, respect and admiration that I have always carried for him shall stay for eternity.
I pray that his soul rest in peace.

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You will be terribly missed, Sir.

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Underestimate – The Mountain Man

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The treacherous mountains pass
The nonavailability of resources
took away his lady who was in pain.

While others cursed and fell victim of
the difficult route, their fate, their luck,
the grievous yet determined man
put his shoulder to the wheel to save
lives of everyone, who had given up.

The mean laugh of the onlookers and the
voices of those who called him demented
strengthened his courage and purpose,
making him an undaunted and steely man.

The task wasn’t easy, the way either .
The man continued to crave the path
with his little hammer and huge resolve
not for a year or two, but the brave man
won over all failures for twenty two years
to chisel the route, to fight the mountain.

The villagers in astonishment, with a guilt
awarded the man for always persevering
despite of all discouragement from them
for never underestimating any failure
for never underestimating his hard work
for never underestimating the difficulties,
by recognizing him as the mountain man.

This is in response to Drashith’s free writing challenge. The word given was underestimate. You can read more about the challenger here.

Underestimate immediately reminded me of a very very powerful story of a very hardworking man, Dashrath Manjhi, who was a poor laborer in a village in Bihar. When I read his story, I was much inspired. Although I have tried to pen down his story and courage, I would want you to read his story here. He was also awarded and a film is also made about him.

– Kritika Vashist

They are Humans, I am a Disease

As a child I had a house to live, friends beside,
now the only place I can have is ghettos,
now the only friend I have is darkness.
Though I am alive just like them;
I am not supposed to breathe.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

The school teacher taught, “Be yourself.”
But they made me an object of abuse,
by shamelessly stripping me,
when I showed them the real me.
I am still their laughing-stock,
for carrying a book in my hand.
Though I have brains just like them;
I am not supposed to learn.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

Draped in a bright saari,
shining in gold earrings,
retouched by some make up,
I dance like a woman in front of those,
who look at me with disgust,
who give me a sly leer.
Though I have passion in me;
I am not supposed to have a dream.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

I grew more effeminate,
I was mesmerized by jingling anklets.
My mother took me to saints,
the psychiatrist gave me drugs,
to make me what I should be.
None looked into my eyes,
to know what I wanted to be.
All my tears are still unnoticed;
all my words are still unheard.
Though I have a mouth;
I am not supposed to speak.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

I walked to different places,
far or near, to earn a living.
They allowed all men and women,
not a manly face with strong femininity.
They didn’t interview me;
they didn’t ask me questions.
Their words became vilification of me.
My existence became their only question.
Though I am productive just like them;
I am not supposed to work.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

Beneath the same sky,
on the same land,
leaving me with no option,
they make me sell my body.
My dance academy,
their brothel.
My fantasies,
their desperation.
Though I have a heart just like them;
I am not supposed to have a soul.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

Shamed by many,
nauseated by some.
My existence is ghastly and offensive,
to all of them, to God, to the universe.
They give me a name, “Hijaras”,
and they invite me,
at child’s birth, to marriages,
to bestow the blessings,
but my auspiciousness is still lost,
in their shallowness,
in their hurtful humors.
Though I was born the same way;
I am not supposed to live like them.
Because for them;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

Though I have feelings just like them,
Though I have a heart to love, just like them,
Though I am one of them,
I guess, I would never know,
why they still think;
They are respectful, I am a displease.
They are humans, I am a disease.

The situation here described is usually seen in South Asian countries. This poem is an effort by me to spread the message that the situation in which these people survive should offend us, instead of their existence. They are one of us, and they seek our support. The society never ceases to show its double standards (one para in the poetry describes that). It is time to stand up against the heartless crowd that never fails to demean them in any way. 

However, the situation in India is now improving with time and the acceptance. Transgenders have come out in large numbers to fight for their rights.

〉 Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist who, along with a legal agency, had petitioned the court about their identification as “transgenders” instead of either male or female, last year. Her efforts didn’t go in vain, and The Supreme Court directed the federal and state governments to include transgenders in all welfare programs for the poor, including education, health care and jobs to help them overcome social and economic challenges.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist.

〉 Madhu Bai Kinnar – an independent candidate – defeated her opponent by more than 4,500 votes and became the mayor of Raigarh, in the central state of Chhattisgarh on January 2015. Kinnar, who is 35, is a member of the lowly Dalit caste, once known as ‘untouchables’. Before her victory, she earned her living by performing; singing and dancing on Howrah to Mumbai trains. She only stopped when asked to represent her community, which reflects their confidence, willingness to make efforts, and the enthusiasm to be considered as human as we call ourselves. 

Madhu Bai Kinnar, a transgender woman and mayor of Raigarh.

There are more examples of these beautiful people who are not afraid to face the discrimination that the society throws at them. If each one of us starts speaking for them to all those who are displeased by them, I believe that their lives would become more meaningful.

-Kritika Vashist