Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How men feel about rape

When I read about rape cases and see the news channels flashing lurid details of such heinous acts, I go through a number of emotions at once. There is this feel of shock and sorrow, emotions that are collectively shared by the entire nation. I also feel a general mistrust towards mankind especially after discovering that quite often the perpetrators of such crimes turn out to be the very people who were meant to be the protectors and the guardians of the victim. And when activists raise slogans against men and when the girls in my FB contacts post statuses directed against the male populace, I feel ashamed that I am born a man.

But at the same time, I feel dejected that the entire male population has to go through this guilt for the crime committed by a few sinful men. It is also a bit unfair, to be honest, that men, in general, are condemned for something which is amongst the most barbaric crimes in the world. I feel guilty for something which I haven't done, though someone else from my sex has done it and is making me pay for it. It is ironic in a way as quite often the actual perpetrator walks free while the rest from his community carry an aggrieved soul and walk with their heads hung low.

I do not say that the women are wrong in generalising the issue. With protectors turning predators, prejudice is bound to slip in even against those men who are clean in hearts.

But being a man myself, I can draw a parallel between suicide and rape in this context.

I have observed that those who have a tendency to commit suicide often go ahead with the act even for relatively flimsy reasons. On the other hand, some people have this mental block against it and no matter how troubled their life is, they will never be able to commit suicide. They may contemplate doing so, but they will not find that inner push to go ahead and get it over.

I can say this coz my own life for most part of the last decade had been plagued by severe depression and hopelessness with little motivation to live and with every reason to end my life. On umpteen occasions, I contemplated hanging myself by the rope or popping up an entire file of sleeping pills. My family, knowing of my mental state, would never leave me alone at home.

But even though I could have ended my life easily by simply plunging on the railway tracks before a speeding Metro, I could never commit suicide. And deep down I knew that I will never do it simply coz I am not programmed to do it.

Rape, just like suicide, is chiefly dependent on the way a person's mind is programmed. Some men will never commit rape, no matter how big a flirt they may be. On the other hand, some men who never quite planned doing it, may do it during the heat of a moment when the power of their lust overrides the power of their conscience. They will rape, irrespective of their social status, the degree of their education or the volume of clothes worn by their potential victim. They will do so because deep inside, they find it an acceptable act as their mind does not present any block towards this crime.

Again, without generalising, I would say that I personally may feel aroused at the sight of a peek-a-boo bra or the fleshy thigh poking out of the underlinings of a skirt, but despite all the titillations, I will never rape, though I may very well try to make advances and try to impress the woman and obtain her consent. I am not programmed to rape, just like I am not programmed to commit suicide.

I guess this holds true for other men as well.......

Thursday, November 21, 2013

55 word story: That acrid smell

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Source: Google Images

I sniffed the air. That acrid smell was getting stronger.

It smelt of a dead body.

But being a writer, I lived alone.

I moved towards my desk. A sickening stench assaulted me. I flipped open my diary. The smell was emanating from its final page.

You see, I had killed the protagonist last evening. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sachin, I hate you...

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I hate you, not because you made me cry today, but because you abandoned me.

I hate you, not because you walked along with me for 17 years, but because you walked out of my life today, so suddenly, so brutally and so hurtingly.

When I met you for the first time in 1996, I was barely 10. But a few minutes with you and I felt that you're the one made for me, you're the one who shall journey alongside me towards the other end of my life. And I wasn't wrong. Like a true angel, you shed light on my path as you travelled beside my side, never abandoning me even for a moment; being the only constant in my life in all my smiles, my tears, my failings and my feats.

I thought that we were meant to be together, for eternity, for ever, for as long as my existence would continue. But no. Today, you let go of my hands, those same hands which you had first held when they were very tiny and the ones which have grown under your comforting grasp in all these 17 years. How could you be so cruel, so merciless, so indifferent as to crush that very soul whose every breath was uttered for you, whose every beating of the heart owed its music to you, whose every true smile was indebted to your presence, your happy presence, your constant and unwavering presence, come rain or snow.

I hate you, not because of the smiles you spread over me (within me) every time you wielded your magic wand, but because of the ruthless way you wiped them off every time you put your wand down.

I hate you, not because you journeyed with me for 17 long years, but because you never told me that your journey shall end much before mine, and that I shall have to traverse the final years of it without you, on my own, without those smiles and tears I had got accustomed to, without that magic wand which had become a part of my journey, without the beating of my heart, without your presence, your happy presence, your constant and unwavering presence, come rain or snow.........

Hate you (Always)

Yours (Always)

To God, with Love

“You may have gone, but you’ll always be in me

Enslaved by your thoughts, my heart was never free

Your memories aplenty, my soul shall never jade

Into nothingness, my love, you will never fade…”

-Yours (always)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pittho's World Review: A window to the uncensored Pakistani society

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Book: Pittho's World
Author: Murtaza Razvi
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 204
Price: Rs 299
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: 'Pittho's World' has been penned by the late Pakistan journalist Murtaza Razvi. It is a compilation of stories which are inter-linked as the narrator Sheikhu recounts anecdotes from his growing-up years before his ladylove Rani every night.

The book is a fascinating take on the dichotomy of society; dogmatic at one point and liberal at the other, where a majority of humanity is prejudiced but with a few daring odd ones out poking their heads from amidst the cacophony.

One can say that the book is satirical since it pokes sweetly at the sensitive nerve points of Pakistani society, but in a way that the author cannot be dubbed a blasphemer. The narrator Sheikhu goes into a rhapsody as he strings snippets from the diverse characters in his family. If his parents and uncles were God-fearing and conservative, his Apa was the anomaly. She was outspoken, uncouth and even outright vitriolic when it came to speaking her mind. Then there was the old hag called Aunt Pittho who would occasionally storm into their house and stomp all over their lives. It was a mad, mad family with each character epitomising a facet of the Pakistani society.

The unique style of story-telling is also a winner and Razvi's usage of words and vocabulary is befitting to the tale.

Though the book is a work of fiction, it is a window to the real uncensored side of the Pakistani society as it transforms itself over the years.

The book, however, takes a bit of time before sucking you in. If you are looking for something which is a page-turner right from page one, this book may not be for you. But if you have the patience of a compulsive reader and the hunger of a bibliophile, you will manage to start, sail through and reach the other end. And at the end of your odyssey, you will let out a sigh; the characteristic sigh of a bookworm who has just read a good book.

Ritesh Agarwal

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Which is the worst TV show you have watched?

The bizarre thing about we Indians is that sometimes we stay glued to even those soaps which we know are bland and stupid, and to even those reality shows which everybody knows are bland and stupid.

One of the worst shows to come out in recent times was Ekta Kapoor's take on Mahabharata a couple of years back. Despite a starry lineup, it fizzed out soon and went off air midway.

Shahrukh Khan's game show in which he anchored a sports feature (i don’t even remember the name of that show and I am sure SRK himself wouldn't even remember the name or anything of that show) is another worst and hyped thing to surface and evaporate on the Indian telly.

So dear readers, any TV show you would like to point out in this regard? 

Ritesh Agarwal

Isn't technology manhandling us?

Pheed is the new kid on the block. Another social site for stuffs like photo-sharing and blah blah.
So Telegraph recently put this question to the readers, ‘Have you tried Pheed’

And this was my response:

No, I haven't yet tried Pheed and I do not think I ever will, or that I ever should. Social sites and apps are supposed to help or entertain us, not to enslave us. With so many of them already ruling our lives, was there any need for Pheed? It pains me to see how technology is manhandling the youths today.
During my thoughtful Dumbledore-ish moments, I often get reminded of what Rohit had innocently said in 'Koi Mil Gaya'-  "Insaan ne computer ko banaya hai, computer ne insaan ko nahi banaya"

Ritesh Agarwal

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dil toh pagal hai....Those were the days...

'Dil toh pagal hai' completes 16 years.....

I have fond black-n-white memories of my high school days when a chaste romance was the biggest draw at the bolly box office, when 90 minute quick films were still unheard of, when the glitzy malls were still unborn, when t20 cricket was undiscovered, when SRK's 3-hour romance sagas would be watched and re-watched amidst tons of popcorns and extra packets of chips by a whole big bunch of family that included everybody from the pishis to the maasis to the pot-bellied septuagenarian to the bawling baby to the howling maid. Those were the days...

It was Lake Town's Jaya Cinema for us, our favourite movie haunt for all those big blockbusters of the year including 'Dil to pagal hai' which I watched with my mom, housemaid, masi and cousins after hours of anticipation, planning and mayhem. I tried hard to emulate that whistle tune which Rahul would break out into during those epiphanic moments of Madhuri. I also gaped at Karisma's red hot attires which made my teenage hormones work overtime. The puffed-up, ready-to-chew lips of Madhuri also inspired thousands of men across the country to look for their own heaven-made match. Really, those were the days....


Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma and other hauntings

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Book: The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…And other hauntings
Author: Manish Mahajan
Publisher: Cinnamonteal Publishing (
Genre: Horror
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 83
My rating: 4 out of 5

Review: You know what a great cover illustration can do to a book, even if it happens to be a really shoddy piece of a novel. As you can see above, this stunning cover design is the stuff dreams are made of (rather, nightmares are made of). And to add to that, if I tell you that far from being a shoddy work, this book is simply brilliant, then your curiosity is bound to pique.

‘The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…and other hauntings’ is a collection of short stories which travel through the various sub-genres of the horror genre. Being the greatest fan of spooky things that I am, this book is a treasured object for me. With barely 83 pages in its urn, this book is quite skinny (though the fat price of Rs 250 more than makes up for its skinniness). The tales are all extremely short, some barely lasting a couple of pages. But they are good, really good. The horror can be subtle in one story and gory in the other. The author Manish Mahajan, who makes a debut into the world of literature, has taken help of very few words to cast his presence on the literary podium and to make me look at him with respect, bordering on reverence.

Here is what I jotted down at the end of each story the moment I read them:

The peepal tree of Lachhmangarh
An arresting tale of a haunted tree, this story draws inspiration from myths, hearsays and rumors that have always revolved around the much-feared ‘Peepal’. Manish Mahajan unleashes his fiery imagination, takes you along and dumps you right before this tree where you are left alone with one Mr. Rathore, our vengeful protagonist.

13, Church Street
Hmmm..makes for a good read. Ends too soon to leave a deep impact! The quaint settings offer a nostalgic touch.

Begunkodor Ghost Station
Once again, the author amalgamates imagination and reality to weave a tale which is not entirely fictitious. ‘Why does a dead woman knock at the door of a railway station master on duty?’ To find out, read this chilling account that relives the horrors of 1967.

Her Unkept promise
Brilliant plot, chilling climax! What can happen if an author’s stories begin to come true one by one? This tale gives you the answer.

The secret in the photograph
Oh my God (make it omfg). What a deep, disturbing and original plot. This is the story that makes you marvel at the ingenuity of the author. A photograph that has a unique secret to it!

Valley of the Dead
A story of flash fiction genre which is engaging but lacks the punch. Setting is eerie, language offers detailing….

Raag Bhimpalasi
Another fresh story, unique plot, gripping and chilling execution. ‘Raag Bhimpalasi’ is about a room that emanates flute music every Sunday morning. What’s the secret? Read and find out.

Strefford’s Roll Call
Though the story keeps you hooked and promises some astonishing revelation towards the end, that moment of climax never arrives. The plot churned around ‘crossings’ and ‘ticks’ over graves is fresh, but the story ends on a cryptic note. An unsolved mystery whose beauty lies in staying unsolved…

The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma
This story has an Edgar Allan Poe-esque narrative. The 1st person account of a friend’s disappearance, marked by a sharp vocabulary, makes this a classy story. If you pine for classics (the way I do), then this story will bring back reminiscences of Holmes and Poe.

This is a pretty ordinary story, an anomaly to this-otherwise wonderful book. Narrative is weak as compared to the rest and the plot has nothing exceptional to offer.

Burn the old papers
This story is very chilling, despite the cliché in the plot. Narrative has an arresting quality and though the end is predictable, the story does offer its share of goose bumps.

The greatest dare of all time
It is a typical old Indian ghost story. No subtlety here. Skulls, corpses, apparitions do show up, drumming up fear and chaos. Not the best story of the book, but an engaging tale nevertheless. Rustic setting adds authenticity and the author’s narrative does the rest.

Final verdict: Do buy the book or else cajole the author to send you a free review copy or try stealing it from me (that would be the greatest dare of all time)  *wink wink*

~Ritesh Agarwal

PS- This Review has been done in association with The Tales Pensieve. These guys are funny. They send you free books and then request you to write a few words on them, which is like giving Tendulkar a new bat and then requesting him to play some shots with it. He is going to do it anyhow.   ;)

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