Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Women In Leadership : Crossing The Threshold

We, the woman of India, talk a lot about women empowerment. Fighting for our rights, feminism, protest against rape and above all equality. But there is another facet which we have to look into. What will happen if all the above are taken away?

WE are intelligent, educated and equally ambitious as men. The women I have chosen were once upon a time a village belle and a housewife till.....

#EveryWomanIsALeader in their own right. This has to be accepted by one and all. We don't want the seat in a public bus - we want the executive chair too. Don't give us provision- just give us our rights.  When rights and dignity are taken away, a simple housewife can protest too. 

My article is not dedicated to any woman in power, for they have many voices behind them. My article is a dedication to that woman who had to rise above her simple existence. She too would get up early in the morning when the sun has just peeped out from behind its cloudy veil. The melodious voice of M. S. Subbulakshmi, echoing in her household, has her humming as she prepares the coffee. Her daily routine starts with pleasing others. The coffee, which she made for the whole family, she has no time to relish while leafing through the morning news. She is the Lakshmi, the Sarasvati of the house. The quiet one – who touches every soul living in that house and one day, when God loves her more she goes away, silently.

There is mourning and then there is moaning – and then she is replaced and the saga continues. This is the lifestyle of most of the middle-class women in India. I know, for my mother was one such woman. Respected in life, missed and replaced in death.

 But what happens when a woman deviates from the path and refuses to accept her daily, quiet existence? Will she become another Bandit Queen? Or will she be called another Kiranjit Ahluwalia? Will she be thrown as an outcast because she dared to raise her voice? Or will she be called a goddess who had challenged her perpetrators? I salute the women who have stood against the society and have shown an equal viciousness in answering the atrocities meted out to them.

My words are not at all a propaganda, that when life becomes tough, pick up the gun and shoot the concerned person. But every woman has a tolerance point in her life and when she can’t take it any more –she wants to fight back. She wants her word to be heard. Thank you for giving us that voice.

Bandit Queen of India
Google Image
For those who don’t know about our Bandit Queen, look up here. I am not judging a person’s actions. Right or wrong, I cannot judge for I was not there. But it makes you think, what made her do it, how did she feel when she pulled the trigger for the first time to shoot one of her rapist. And then- to do it again and again and again. She is a dacoit – a murderer for she has killed many times. But no one uttered a word when they raped  her - again and again and again. This story happened in the 80’s and in the year 2012, the same thing happened with Nirbhaya. How many bandit Queens does the society need today to stop the horrific act of rape? When are we going to progress?

Trailer of the movie The Bandit Queen. Please watch this video at your own discretion. It has foul language and sexual content. 

Kiranjit Ahluwalia
Kiranjit's story can be found here.

An Indian woman living a quiet life in the UK.  An NRI. The famous NRI joke applies to her too – "when in India, they even carry the Biselleri water to the loo." So what made this highly privileged woman pick up a can of kerosene, douse her husband with it; and strike the matchbox?

Again an extreme case of crossing the tolerance point. In the movie Provoke, we catch a glimpse of her life, portrayed by the beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bacchan. But, could anyone feel the pain of this simple, Punjabi girl from Chakkalal? What must have she felt when every night she was the victim of marital abuse? 

Why must a woman be pushed to that extreme? Shouldn't her voice be heard before she loses her every sense of right and wrong? Why must death with a cause for acceleration of any law? After a tragedy strikes, the whole society wakes up to do a ‘peace march’ in front of the Parliament. Isn't it high time that when a woman complaints – it is looked into.

Under no circumstances can one say that this happens only in India. It is an international problem. It is a problem faced by every women, irrespective of their country, colour or status. We have already lost too many Jia Khans, Persis Khambattas and Jyoti Singhs.

Trailer of the Movie Provoked, which was based one Kiranjit's life.

Do not let women turn into Bandit Queens and Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Enough is Enough.

Do you think #EveryWomanIsALeader, if so then do take part in this inspiering competion Women In Leadership at How will women shape the future? Check out all the rules here. Share your ideas on how to empower, engage and elevate woman and you might win an all-paid trip to an exciting destination. Do join this movement. 

Click on the image to go to their website.

Friday, April 24, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter N : Nemesis: The Avenging Goddess

Nemesis depicted holding a scale of justice: 2 nd or 3rd CE
The story of Nemesis bears an uncanny resemblance to the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. While Saraswati accepted her fate, Nemesis wanted retribution. Another feature that I found very similar between the two is the presence of the Swan. Why this bird is present in both the stories is something I'm yet to understand.

With the last thunder, shooting across the sky, Zeus loomed over the curled up figure of a trembling woman and looked at her triumphantly. "It was worth the wait."

Her trembling stopped and every muscle of her body tensed up as she turned to face her perpetrator, clutching the silken linnen close to her naked heart. "You will pay for what you done to me," she spitted  out.

The mighty Zeus roared in laughter and throwing a mocking salute at her, he shimmered away.

The young girl, Nemesis cried her heart out – feeling betrayed by the man whom she should have trusted the most. From that day on, Nemesis knew only one pain and that was the pain of betrayal. She roamed the world as the goddess of retribution, punishing those who  seemed to have everything or whom she suspected had more than what they deserved. In her fury, she punished a few innocent souls too. One of them being Echo. Seeing Nemesis in such a state her mother, the goddess of Night, Nyx, paid her a visit.

"You have got to get a grip on your pain," said Nyx quietly. "I understand what you are going through and I'm not, under any circumstances, belittling your pain. But punishing the innocent is not going to reduce your torment."

"But he is my....," a sob chocked Nemesis from speaking further. Nyx quickly came forward and hugged her. 

"Shush baby shush! It's over. It's in the past."

Her words instead of pacifying the angry goddess made her move furious as she whirled around to face a mother, "is it over, mother? Is it? How will I explain to the world about the child that is going to come to this world soon?"

Nyx studied for some time and then smiled, "don't you understand. This was meant to be. Whatever has happened to you is because you have to bear this child. Your daughter will change the fate of human history for centuries to come."

Nemesis turned to face her mother, surprised.

"Yes dear. My granddaughter is going to born to bring down hundreds of men with her beauty. Even our mighty Zeus cannot achieve such a feat."

After many days a smile brightened Nemesis's face. Her eyes glittered in anticipation as the hands trained slowly till her navel. "And what shall we call the little one?" She asked in wonderment.

Nyx cupped her daughter's face gently between her palms and said, "Helen."

Note : 
In Greek and Roman mythology, nemesis was the goddess of retribution. She usually appears the Myths and the personification of Justice. She was pursued relentlessly by Zeus and she changed many forms trying to escape him. Ultimately, he transformed himself into a swan and seduces her.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter M : Maenads- The Intoxicated Maidens

Dance of the Maenards. A Fresco by Pippi de' Giamuzzi, Italy
The flowers bloomed yellow, purple and every hue of pink and green like a fresco designed by mother nature herself. Tiny bluebirds and red Robins chirped amongst the beautiful maidens fluttering around the stretches of wildflowers. Sensual, free and bold the Maenads danced around, forgetting who they were and dancing with an abandonment that only the mistresses of Dionysus were capable of.

In the centre, sat the wine God Dionysus seemingly enthralled at the merrymaking that went around him. He was happy for he did not know any other way of life. He loved casting his spells on these wretched women who left their fathers, husbands, sons just to follow him – just to be happy. Intoxicated not only with the wine but also with a feeling of liberation these women who called themselves M followaenads would do anything that Dionysus commanded. And as was with all the gods, Dionysus took full advantage of it.

Today, in the garden of Thebes, many of the Theben women had joined his band of followers and this merriment was kept in their honour. Dionysus slyly watched the beautiful Agave watching him lustily from far. He had always wanted her but she had chosen another. Well…

"How dare you!" Shouted a young man walking towards him. "How dare you turned my haven into one of your pleasure houses?"

Dionysus laughed contemptuously, "do I need your permission now to go anywhere I want?"

The young man, the King of Thebes- Pentheus was the cousin of Dionysus and there was no love lost between the two.

"I don't want your sinful presence in my land."

"And how do you plan to throw me out?" Dionysus asked cheekily, enjoying the young lad's discomfort. 

"I want her back." Pentheus voice was steady. 

"Such bravado," said Dionysus. "But why? Your father is dead and I never interfered till he was alive. But now that he has...."

"Are you insane? You cannot turn her into one of your Maenads! These beautiful maidens who can shred a beast to pieces at your call." Pentheus was begging now. "She needs a proper life. You can't turn her into a somnambulist, who roams along with you, without knowing where their destination is."

Dionysus was surprised that anyone could question his way of life. His thoughts had reached his Maenads by now and they were swarming towards him, still dancing and laughing led by the beautiful Agave. 

Pentheus looked at Agave and pleaded with her, "let's go home. This life is not for you."

Agave laughed, her beautiful eyes blazing like fire. "What is there not to love about this kind of life? All my sorrow is gone and there is only happiness around me."

"But this is a mirage!" shouted Pentheus. "Soon Dionysus will be tired of you and he'll destroy you as he has done to so many in the past."

"Enough!" Dionysus's voice boomed out and with his anger all the flowers withered around him. A stench of burning flesh replaced the soft floral scent and amidst that stood a quivering Pentheus. 

The beautiful maidens started gathering around him but now their beauty was cloaked with their savage intend. And in no time they shred Pentheus to pieces imagining him to be a beast.

Soon it was all over and as the carcass remain of Pentheus lay on the ground Agave kneeled before him and gently placed a kiss on his forehead and whispered, "Now you too will be happy, Son."

Note : In ancient Greece, Maenads were female worshippers of Dionysus, god of wine, whose behaviour was often regarded as an acceptable by conventional society. Maenads also played a role in myth, notably the murder of King Pentheus.



#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter L : Loki : Under The Hood Of His Son

Loki Bound by M.E Winge shows Loki chained to rocks
beneath a poisonous snake. His wife, Sygyn, holds
the bowl for him. 
"That bloody transvestite! An abomination to us Gods, " thundered Odin, the Chief of the Gods. "He is the one responsible for the down fall of my son, Blader."

"But Sire, he was not here,"one of the lesser Gods, Hel ventured out bravely only to shrink back in fear at the rage in Odin's eye. "We followed all your instructions to bless every object that would harm your beloved son, Blader."

"All but one," Odin could not contain the pain in his voice. "Bring Loki  to me."

Soon Loki, the evil trickster was brought in front of everyone. No one had seen Loki before. Not because he was invisible but because he was the master in disguise. Sometimes he was a bird or an animal but mostly he loved dressing like  a woman. - he could come and go as he pleased, raising no suspicion, leaving only a trail of a tingling laughter.  Just when a secret was being buried by the Gods, Loki the trickster, would be there to snatch it away and expose it to the world.

But today he was in his own self - no disguise would save him from the wrath of Odin, so he did not bother to hide. Seeing his handsome original face, a gasp echoed amongst all the maidens in the assembly hall. One look from Odin and a hush settled down.

"Why?" Odin came straight to the point."Why did you kill my son, Balder?"

Loki looked shocked. "Balder is dead ? Oh woe befall us!"

"Stop the dramatics. Tell us why?"

"But I was not here at all." said Loki. "you can ask anyone if they had seen me."

"We all know you had dressed up as the giantess Thokk and urged the blind God Hodr to throw the mistletoe at Balder."

"Hehhheh." Loki's laughter echoed in the hall, stunning everyone with his boldness. "How can a mistletoe kill the  mighty Blader?"

"Because you knew it would be the only thing that would pass though his body since it was not blessed by the Gods." 

"How would I know that?" Loki asked calmly, sure that no one would know about his role in this great tragedy. But Odin knew everything for the great seer of the underworld had told him everything. From the death of his son to... 

Before he could say anything, Loki transformed into a bird and flew away. Odin ordered the winds to trace his flight and just when Odin was catching him, Loki turned into a salmon and hid in a waterfall. But Odin captured him with a fishing net and with one quick movement tied him up to Narfi, Loki's own son. Now one would ask what is so great about this .

Well, Narfi is one of the most dangerous serpents alive. No man or God could bear his dripping venom. Odin tied him to Narfi and fastened Narfi above Loki's head. its poison dripping down, tormenting the mischievous God. 

At this point, Sigyn, Loki's beloved wife, reached there and begs Odin to release Loki. Odin didn't want to but feeling pity for Sigyn, grants her the permission to try stopping the poison from reaching Loki. 

Sigyn tries her best to collect her son's poison in a bowl but in intervals she had to pour it in the waterfall and rush back again to collect the poison. Every time she removed that bowl, drops of the poison would fall on Loki's head and he would writher in pain. It's said that his every writher, would cause an Earthquake. 

How did Loki escape this? Well stay tuned :P

Note:  Loki is the most complex character in Norse mythology. He is an enigmatic figure, capable of trickery and deceit, who sometimes sided with the gods, at other times with the giants. Often Loki betrayed the gods, but, equally often, he helped them resolve their problems – many of which he had created in the first place. A perfect MIL :P 



Thursday, April 16, 2015

And We Remained by Asad Ali Junaid

Check out the Book Details 
Time Travel...
Writers are very blessed. With a few strokes of a pen or jamming on a keyboard one can time travel. Reliving your memories of the days bygone makes one think of all the hits and misses that one has experienced in life. This story is like a two-way street, in which the author makes us travel back and forth, throughout the novel. The excitement of a college life, the fears, the tribulations all turn out to be the background of this story.

The characters came to life...
The author has not restricted the POV to the protagonist. It's almost like small patches woven together to make a quilt. Warm, fuzzy and very relatable. How many of us can truly say that college life is only our experience? Youth is selfless and as a result it shapes the person not for what he or she has done but what has been done to him or her. Sahir Hasan had experienced all these things in his college life which has shaped him to be the man he was  in his 30s. Each chapter is the POV of one of the friends and all culminate to project their college days.

Some cuts are too deep...
One bad experience can take over your life. Here too there was such a case which could have really spoiled the lives of all those involved. But young hearts heal very quickly. 

"We stopped imagining eyes following and whispers behind our backs wherever we went. Our limp stopped showing. Our bruises turned from red to purple and then merged with the colour of our skin."

A Soft Love Story...
What is a campus story without a love story? The story of Wardha, Sahir and Sandeep has been woven across the many educational, social activities, political activities that goes on inside a college campus. No words or emotions has been exchanged between these three characters but the underlining emotion of love has been beautifully portrayed. The ending has been unexpected too.....

Unusual technique of writing...
'It's different' certainly not a cliche in this novel. The author has mixed various styles of writing in which not only the actions of the protagonists but also the thoughts move the story forward. While many people are talking about the email method used in the story. I found another technique very amusing. Shall I call it 'the look' technique?

Me: "What??? You can't be serious!!!" look.
Sahir: Still the "Should I???" look.
Sahir: "All good with you???" look.
Me:"Why do you care…???" look.
Now some of you might find it "breaking the rules", but I found it rather entertaining.


1. Keeping up with too many characters got confusing at some point of time. 

2. Growth of the characters did not keep up with the time frame of the story. Sahir did not mature much as a character. I can overlook the email chats between friends. I am sure most of us, when we meet our college friends, are more willing to talk about what we did in college rather than about our bread and butter. But Sahir's character affected me the most since he came across as the responsible one- till his thoughts about Wardha, after a 15 years of gap, emerged. He was still thinking in those lines !! Or is it the beginning of another story? Time will tell :)

 Note to the author: 
OK pardon me.. This is the voice of a married woman, who expects her hubby to behave when he sees his ex-girlfriend and not do a slow dance. The same law does not apply to married women. :)

Would I Recommend This Book..
A very bieezy read that will entertain you. And Time Travel is the addes bonus..:) How can you not think of your college days when you read such stories.

Line that stayed with me:
It was at that moment – seeing her unkept hair and a crumpled dress with a cast on her leg, helpless and hurt in the hospital – she went from being attractive to beautiful.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter K : Kumari : The Living Goddess

Young girls intiated as Devis. Google Image
The loud clanging sound did not bother her. The dancing smoke did not choke her as it would do to any 11 year old hurdled quietly, in all her finery, in a room full of people; chanting hymns and mantras. She knew how to switch off her mind from these daily occurrences. In that small, inward space-she was in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by wildflowers and the warm sun kissing her cheeks. And she had that Barbie doll which she had so wanted while they carried her to the king's palace – to bless his coronation.

Shantala Devi (name changed)  knew she was important for she had been told that she was important but her 11-year-old heart did not understand her own importance. She did remember the pain when a group of old men had come to her house and taken her away from her parents. She remembered those constant baths, the religious men chanting inconsistently around her, promising to purify her for the future.

She remembered her fears when she was locked up for the night in a roomful of severed  buffalo heads. That stench of blood had made her want to puke but her mother had told her before that she should not show these emotions in front of those strangers. She was just three years old and when the stench got better of her she had passed onto oblivion and when the morning dawned they had come inside to get her, shouting in jubilation – for she had not expressed any fear. Little did they know that she had fainted in fear. That day little Shantala became Shantala Devi – the living goddess of Kathmandu.

Eight years have passed since. Every morning, when all the children were still encircled in the mother's warmth, she was woken up, bathed, dressed in silk and then men and women from all over would come to offer her sweetmeats and flowers. But all the perfume could never take away that stench.

Her only knowledge that there was a world outside was through the tiny window in the corridor. Her caretaker, whom she called Hujur Baa, said that she's not supposed to see what was outside for that would pollute the soul. She nodded sagely, killing her very desire to investigate, for she knew no other life.

Every time she left the building, it was in a golden palanquin. She remembered when she had cheated the last time and peeked through the curtains. She had seen a small girl, carrying a Barbie doll. Well, she later knew the doll was called Barbie. Her eyes devoured that doll while the other girl looked in awe at the little Devi.

But this would be soon over. She too will have a Barbie doll, play in the sand and climb the mountains. She's going to bleed soon. She suppressed a giggle as one of the old ladies came to wash the feet with sandalwood. Soon – very soon she would become impure. How she waited for that day!

In Nepal, Kumari, the living goddesses, were believed to be incarnation of Goddess Durga. Legend says that once upon a time there was a king, Jayaprakasha Malla who would play a dice game with the Goddess Taleju (Napalese name for Durga). He was under the oath of never to reveal it to anyone. But one day, his wife finds out and  the Goddess leaves them and never to return again. From that day, this Kumari Puja had started in Nepal for it is said the Goddess comes to visit the people through these virgins. Young girls are selected between the age of 3 to 11. They're taken away from their families and after many rigourous rituals are established as goddesses. They lead a life full of security and can never come out and meet the common people – except during the festivals. There freed from these duties, only after they reached their puberty. The years spent in luxury and security means nothing as their return to the society without any wealth, family or education.



#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter J : Juno: Tit for Tat!

This Sculpture of Juno is a Roman  though the
original was made by a Greek artist. 

Juno stepped up and held the newborn child for everyone to see and applaud. A cheer rose in the crowd and there was jubilation everywhere. The proud parents of the child Mars, Juno and Jupiter, hugged each other and the cheer in the crowd rose by several decibels.

And as the cheering subsided and the royal banquet started, Juno and Jupiter, retired to their chambers begging to be excused for Juno was still weak after the childbirth. Once the curtains fell down and cloaked them under the privacy, Jupiter's eyes blazed in anger. Juno remained calm and took the baby away from him and placed him in the cradle, crooning a lullaby and the baby gurgled basking in the attention.

"Stop it!" Shouted out Jupiter.

Juno continued calmly as if the words never reached her ears.

Jupiter could not bear it any longer and walked towards her and yanked her away from the cradle shouting profanities at her.

"You bloody whore! Is it not enough that I have to call this as my own? Do you have to rub it on my face with your senseless crooning?"

Juno stared at Jupiter for a moment. Then she burst out laughing. In between the spasm of laughter she sputtered, "my Lord! Where in the law of nature does it say that a man can have a child from other women but a woman must always have a child from her husband?"

Jupiter was stunned. "How dare you? Are you openly challenging my authority?"

"No," Juno had sobered up. She looked at Jupiter, her eyes had a tinge of sadness. "I am just a mere woman. How can I challenge the authority of a superior god like you?"

But her soothing words did not have any effect on Jupiter. He only understood one thing that today he was forced to acknowledge the child as his own. He could not tell everyone that his wife had cheated on him. But that did not mean that he had to accept the child even in their private quarters.

"Before I take your leave, my lady, I would like to know who the father of this child is?"

"He has no father."

"Do you take me for a fool?" Jupiter's face had redened in anger. "I know I know I have not fathered it. Then who is the one who has taken you away from your wifely duties and love?"

"I will tell you the answer as soon as you tell me who the mother of Athena is?"

"Athena? What has she to do with this?" Jupiter was really puzzled.

"Everything." Said Juno quietly. "Do you remember the day you brought Athena to me?" At Jupiter is nod, she continued, "you told me that she to was not born out of her mother."

"Yes… So?"

"Well if Athena can be born without a mother why can I not produce a son without a father?" As Jupiter looked away from her, she continued calmly, "that day you asked me to believe you. Today I ask you to believe me."

All that remained in that room, after Juno had spoken her words, was silence.

Juno was one of the three most important Roman dieties – the goddess of marriage and childbirth and a mother of Mars, the God of War. The above story is from the time when Mars was born. It is said Mars does not  have any father. Juno became pregnant by using magic herb which she had got from goddess Flora. She gave birth to Mars like this for she was angry that Jupiter had fathered a child without a mother. The ways of the gods were certainly strange!



Thursday, April 9, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter I : Don't mess with Ishtar: Goddess of Love and War

Ishtar is depicted peering through a window :Assyrian Wall
"What could I offer
the queen of love in return, who lacks nothing at all?
Balm for the body? The food and drink of the gods?
I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all."
 Lines from Epic of Gilgamesh 

Once upon a time there lived a Giant by the name Humbaba. He was so terrible that his roar was like a flood which would kill thousands of humans in one go. The Gods became very worried about him but they couldn't attack him directly for he was under the protection of the Sun God Utu. 

So they requested one of the bravest of all men, the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh,to slay the giant. After a bloody battle Humbaba was slain and when the King returned from the battle, his brave heart and handsome face caught the attention of the Goddess of Love and War, Ishtar. 

Ishtar fell in love with the handsome King and promised him all the riches of the world if he would marry her. Gilagamesh kept silent for a minute or so and then refused her offer. Stunned Ishtar ran after him and grabbed him by his arm, "Are you refusing me? A mere human refusing a Goddess?"

Gilgamesh said quietly, "Your love life is very well known amongst the humans. Tell me something. Have you ever loved anyone for a long time?"

Ishtar was stunned upon hearing this. Every time she fell in love, she felt it was for ever but it never lasted. Either the men cheated or they turned out to be a wimp. But Ishtar did not like being reminded of her failures. 

"Why are you blaming me for all those failed relationships?" she pouted.

Gilgamesh went to list all the men she had loved and destroyed. Starting with Tammuz, whom she had sent to the underworld. Then there was a shepherd whom, in her fit of anger, she had turned into a wolf. And the very recent one, the gardener in the house of Sin, the Moon God - who had the audacity to reject her love and in her anger she had turned him into a frog. (I kinda like her :P)

"Does this not scare you?I can do all these things with  you!" Ishtar asked sarcastically. 

"Fine." said Gilgamesh, raising his stubborn chin in pride."This will be a quick death but if I marry you, I will live everyday waiting for death."

Ishtar was furious and stormed out and went straight to her parents. Amidst many tears she persuaded her reluctant parents, Anu and Antum to release the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh. Does the Bull succeed? Will Gilgamesh Survive and will Ishtar eventually get him.. is another tale to tell. But I swear .. she was one spoilt brat :D

Ishtar was the Assyrian and Babylonian Goddess of love and war. She was closely associated with the Sumerian goddess, Inanna.  The Ancient city of Babylon, located in modern Iraq, was the main site of Ishtar Worship.



#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter H: Hecuba's Fickle Fortune

Hecuba gives up her son Polydorus to shepherds to keep him safe
No matter how prosperous they are, call no one blessed, until they die."
--- Euripides, The Trojan Women.
Troy, 486 C

The maids silently decked up the lone woman standing near the window, watching the macabre of human bodies lying waste outside. It was wartime and 10 years of war had got one used to such sights. The maids understood why their Queen Hecuba was dressing up today. They also knew that the same fate was awaiting them. For they were the unfortunate ones, who had survived the war. In today's date, death was more pleasant than life.

"Come, my girls," said Queen Hecuba quietly. "Odysseus would take over any moment. I have no sons left to protect me today. Even my youngest,Polydorus will not be able to reach me on time."

The maids kept their heads bowed down, unable to stop their tears. "I'll not have any tears," said the brave queen. "We'll go like the Royals that we are meant to be. No Greek can call us weak."

"But, my lady, how can you be a slave?" asked one of the maids timidly, "you've always been one of the most powerful queens."

"As you say – 'have been'. Times have changed as we will have to accept it – with dignity."

These were the last words the maids heard from the great Queen Hecuba, before the Greeks barged in led by Odysseus. They were all taken as slaves. They watched mutely as they were divided like cattle amongst victorious army. Even the princesses were not spared. But Odysseus laid a claim over Queen Hecuba, declaring her to be one of his future consorts. Hecuba kept silent but her eyes spitted fire, promising retribution if given a chance.

She sailed with Odysseus homeward bound, ignoring his many taunts and provocations. In her heart, her only joy was that even if her whole clan was destroyed, her youngest son Polydorus was safe. 

But not for long.

One early morning the sailors shouted that a body was floating by. Upon investigations, it was found that it was Polydorus.He had come to take  revenge for his mother and had been killed in the process. The last ray of hope dimmed and she felt a violent rage overtaking her soul. That moment Odysseus walked up and upon seeing her tragedy, mocked her loss. 

Hecuba lost her senses and turned into a wild dog and ripped everyone on the deck. Though she freed all the maidens on that ship, she felt she had had enough and ended her life by jumping into the ocean. 

Thus ended the life of one of the greatest Queens of her time - the only character one can call noble in the pages of mythological sagas.

During the Trojan war, much has been said about Helen of Troy, But there is not much said about the fallen queen of Priam, the King of Troy. This is my tribute to her. 



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Birds and the Bees from a Lamb's Mouth

Google Image
I'm all set to write my AtoZ challenge. But a conversation I had earlier with my 7 year old son kept on buzzing in my head. So I decided that  I had to write about this before anything else. This is something which makes the adults stutter, but seems so innocent from a babe's mouth.

Coming out of the school library, Sonny saw a humming bird - hovering over the flowers on the bushes. 

"Look Ma, a Green-Breasted Mango Hummingbird," he shouted, excited at the open lab of nature right in front of him. Like a true, dotage mom I looked up in the sky and could not find any mangoes. (Ok my attempt of comedy is going overboard here.)

"How do you know its a Green-Breasted?" I peered at the small bird busy flapping its wings to hover over the flower. "Anyways, don't disturb it for I think it is looking for its food."

"No ma. It's trying to attract a female."

THUD!!! Nah .. not me.The books in my arm. 

I bent down and started picking them one by one. "Now who told you that, Sonny?" I had my Prima Donna voice on.  Has the S Talk Day arrived? He is just  7 oh Lord. No early bird discount here please. 

"Ma!" he was shocked at my question. "Don't you know humming bird flaps there wings faster and increase their speed so that they can attract a female?"

I saw two ladies passing by. I quickly gathered my books and pulled the 'good hand' of my Sonny and yanked him towards my parked car. (Good hand since he has a hairline fracture on his right hand and no I have not done anything however much the doctors and teachers give me 'that' look.) 

"Listen Sonny, you are not supposed to watch such things in the TV?"

"Why? It was in Wilde Kratz. And what is wrong about it? That is the nature's way. They have babies like that."

"Babies?" I squeaked. 

"Yes Ma. Like people get married to have babies, same way." He said in his 'you are such a dud' tone. 

Keeping my hand steady, I drove home, my eyes totally focused on the snaking path ahead. I managed to reach home amidst a lot of info about humming birds and people making baby process. The first thing I did was enroll in the school's Sex education for Parents classes. Unless I know about the humming birds how do I teach him.... till then my son, please please don't go outside in the garden.

Hidden Passion By Summerita Rhayne

Click on the Picture to Check out the Book Details
Historical genre is one of my favorite genres. Having devoured Barbara Cartland,Anna Campbell, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Sarah Maclean, I was a bit skeptical when I got this book for review from the Author, Summerita Rhayne. I was all prepared for a demure heroine and a lot of  'priye', 'pitashri' and 'mrignayani' thrown in. For those who are wondering what the words mean, its 'love', 'Father' and 'Doe-eyes' respectively. And before any of you snicker, the regency novels are full of them too. But somehow we have made it into a joke in our Indian genre. So I promised myself to read this with an open mind and accept the fact that there was a time when people did use these words.

Sizzling Chemistry..
"She had an impulse to trace those planes and angles. His mouth.... she blushed at the thought of how it might feel to have it touch her. She was an innocent as princesses were expected to be."
.... and thank god she isn't. She is spunky, knows her mind and is a rebellion. All the ingredients I like in a girl (except in my daughter..PJ) Rukmini is portrayed as girl who follows her heart. She is depicted as an huntress, seductress and above all a woman who can fight her own battle. She had me lusting after Devesh and mock Pala, one of her suitors. I applauded when she questioned her father regading her marriage.  Her words,
"I select everything I own myself, my clothes,my jewellery. Why can't you allow me to choose the man I wish to marry?"  
The above line shows very clearly that her upbringing had been very forward compared to those days yet marriage is one space where she is not given the rights. Why?

Social Standings

From time immemorial, we have given too much importance to the social standing of a person. Easier said than done for everyone wants a better life their children. Suppressing my bourgeoisie mentality as I read about Devesh, I could very well see her attraction for him. His rise from a farmer to being a king can be a very interesting subject, if the author had so wished to explore.  But keeping it in the lines of the romance, he cuts a dashing figure as lover, friend, king and a savior of his tribe. 

Do Away with the Society

Having read all the books of Summerita Rhayne, I see a growth in her writing. Her writing is tighter, her characters are well placed and the most of her secondary characters come when they need to without boring explanations as to why they are needed. In this genre, it is very easy to spread out, to make your imagination run wild. But reigning those thoughts and keeping the focus on the protags makes historical romances different from Historical fictions.

Kiss Formula

Keep you dirty minds away. I don't mean that they keep on kissing. The author has literally followed the Keep it Simple Stupid style. The princess who knows what she wants, the King who is bound between love and duty and a conflict will they or won't they. You cannot go wrong with this formula. So if you are looking for your world to change after reading this book, please don't. But a few hours of a beautiful romance and a cuppa is definitely guaranteed. 


Well researched, well edited and well presented. The author has taken time to do a bit of research of the clothes worn durig those times. The ambiance has been set right and the romance is sizzling.

Would I recommend this Book?

If you love only Romance - No. But if you are a lover of Historical Romance.- A Must Read. 

The Saying That Stayed With Me

"You've been a wanderer too long. Your spirit rebels against settling down even when your heart compels it But tell yourself, you aren't tying yourself down if you follow your heart.  You're only on a new adventure ....."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter G: Galatea - A Siren's Cry

A painting of Galatea and Polyphemus by French Painter Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Sicily, 4th BCE

Galatea the sea nymph was feeling radiant today. Acis was going to propose to her and even her parents had given their consent to their marriage.  She swarm to the shore, where Acis had promised to wait for her.  As she swam along, the happiness radiating from her gave birth to new flora and fauna in the water kingdom. A beautiful, pale blue light emanated from her and this attracted all the sea creatures towards her. 

During that time, a Cyclops giant, Polyphemus was passing through and the blue light attracted his attention. He went up to the edge of the shore and saw a beautiful maiden swimming merrily amongst various shoals of sea creatures. She was a divine beauty and he immediately fell in love with her. 

He waited for her to come out and then on bended knees declared his love for her. Seeing the one-eyed giant swooning with love, made Galatea burst into a laughter. 

"Oh! you're really looking good as a slave," she mocked. Vanity for her beauty making her cruel. "What makes you think that I will fall in love with an one-eyed giant? Go and look for someone who looks like you?"

Polyphemus felt hurt for he truly had fallen in love with her. It was known during those times that when a Cyclops fell in love, it was for ever - unlike the Gods who were known for their capricious nature.. 

"Fair Maiden, I can give you anything that your heart desires."

But Galatea didn't want to hear anything and told him to go away. Heartbroken Polyphemus went away from there. But he returned the next day and from then onwards kept a watch over her from a distance. He blew the breeze when she fell asleep under the scorching sun or made the tree leaves fall over her when she shivered in cold. He became her invisible protector whom she never came to know of. 

It was during one such watch that Polyphemus found out about Acis. Even though in his heart he knew he had no right over her, he became very jealous. The sight of the handsome youth made him very angry and  he knew if he wanted Galatea he would have to fight for her. 

So one day he waited for the right opportunity and finding Acis alone on the shore, he threw a huge boulder towards him, intending to crush him underneath the massive rock.  But Acis saw the hurtling boulder coming towards him he shouted, "Galatea help!"

Luckily for him, Galatea was coming to meet him and hear his cry for help. Without thinking, she turned him into water before the boulder could hurt him. Galatea saved him from that attack but in her haste to save him she forgot that once any human turned into water, they could not change back.

Legend goes to say that the Siren's call the sailor's hear is Galatea lamenting her fate and if any man goes in search of her, hearing the Siren's call- she sees Polyphemus in them and kills them. 

Galatea was a sea nymph who became the object of attention of Polyphemus, the monstrous Cyclops who tried to crush her young lover. This story became a very popular subject for the artists of the Renaissance.



Monday, April 6, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter F: Freya- All that Glitters is Gold

Freya with her brood of Children

Freya and Frey, the twins of the Norse God Njord, didn't know any other way of life other than slavery. All their lives they had been subjugated to that so when their father, fought against the Vanir's and won, they felt their lives would turn out for the better. They reclaimed their position as God and Goddess of Fertility and started living their lives as fit for the Gods. Then one day, as was the norm in their culture, they were forced to marry each other against their wishes. Both were not happy about it but they couldn't go against thier father's wishes.

Freya's Story:

One day Freya was travelling in her golden chariot to meet her parents.She loved everything gold; and it was said that even the tears she shed were gold. (Tears are priceless must have stemmed from this :P especially in Bollywood movies). So with her brood of children, she was on her way to visit her parents when suddenly something glittering caught her eyes. She descended upon Earth and found it lying on a stone. It was one of the most beautiful necklaces she had ever seen. Awed by it, she went to touch it,

"Stop! Who are you?"a voice boomed from behind. Whirling around, she saw four dwarfs glaring at her.

"I'm Freya, Goddess of Love and Fertility. I saw this shining gold and came to see whose craftsmanship was this?"

"Oh yes.!" said one of the dwarfs, "we know all about  your love for gold."

The middle one waddled up to her and peered at her, "let us introduce ourselves. I'm Afrigg and these are Dralin, Bralin and Geer."

Freya smiled at them, sure that her beauty would win them over, "did you make this necklace?"

Upon confirmation, she asked them sweetly if she could have it - of course at a price. They kept quiet for some time and then whispered amongst themselves. Bralin stepped up and asked, "what will we get in return?"

Freya licked her lips in anticipation,for she was now sure she would get her heart's desire. For there was no amount of gold that she could not give against the necklace.  "What we have decided," mumbled Geer, in a nasal voice, "that you've to spend one night with each one of us."

Freya was shocked and would have left the place there and then if her fascination for gold did not outweigh her morality. So, she agreed.  After sending her children off in her magical chariot, she spent four nights with the dwarfs,

Now Loki, the mischievous god came to know about this and informed Frey. Frey was furious and when Freya returned home, he took away her necklace. Freya begged with him to return it but Frey said that she can only have it back if she would cause a major war between two kingdoms.

How Freya causes the Trojan war and gets back her necklace.... well that is another tale to tell :)

The Norse God, Freya was forced to marry her twin brother as was the custom during those days. Incest as we call it now was a law during those times since Gods could not associate with mere mortals. But both Freya and Frey were not happy with it and had many affairs outside their wedlock. But one thing they could not break was their marriage to each other. Her most famous myth is how she went about t acquire the beautiful gold necklace, Brisingamen.

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