Don’t Hang the Rapists, Please.

I do not support the death penalty for rapists. Yes, you read it right. I’m not in favour of granting the capital punishment for sexual molestation convicts.

If the rapist is convicted and decided to be hanged, first he^ will spend few years in jail, utilizing the time to move his case into the upper helms of the Indian justice system, including the appeal for a pardon from the President of India himself. In a country where it takes decades for a legal case to get any logical conclusion, the chances of a rapist getting out of the death row either by legal means or from the President’s pardon is highly possible and that’s not good for a civil society.

Even if the rapist is hanged for his evil deed, the death row for a sexual violation is an extremely soft justice done to a brutal crime. Granting the rapist an easy death by hanging for psychologically killing a living and breathing human is not justice in my books.

Instead of a death penalty, every rapist must be castrated by surgically removing the genital and let out into the society. A person convicted of sexually molesting another human must be allowed to live amongst us – you, I and everybody.

A castrated rapist must be given all access to lead a normal life for the reason that whenever he looks at himself in the mirror and when everytime he feels his genitals missing, he must be allowed to suffer a greater mental agony, much worse than his victim.

A rapist deprived of his genital and sexual feelings which he so brutally proud to use while raping his victim is a man without his manhood. Tormented 24 hours of the day by living with a disfigured image of himself, there is no punishment greater than being alive in an incessant psychological hell while forced to lead an abnormal life by disguising as a normal member of an ordinary society. A rapist deserves this mercilessly.

After years of a much deserved psychological suffering, at last when the rapist’s morality has lost its war within and when he decides to end his miserable life, that’s when I don’t mind helping him to choose the toughest rope and tie a foolproof hangman’s knot.

Don’t hang the rapists, please. Instead, make them hang themselves.

***

^Throughout this write-up I have referred the rapist as male and not female because I have not come across a case where a man has accused a woman of sexually assaulting him.

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Women, the power of courage.

Until recently I was acquainted with only two left-handers in the female fraternity and both Bharghavi Akka and Amrita are dear cousins from the maternal side of my family. But the unique trait of these two individuals is that they have a mixed-dominance in the change of hands between different tasks.

Unlike the dominant use of the right arm in every work executed by the right-handed people, my left-handed cousins easily interchange their hands depending on the errand, and that’s out of common in the world.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to travel in a Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation city bus number 507D. The route operates between Krishnarajapuram and Yelahanka Old Town, taking a traffic-clogged Ramamurthy Nagar, Ring Road, Nagawara and Hegde Nagar circuit. This one-off journey offered me an opportunity to observe a usual task carried out in an uncommon approach and it was an amusing diversion in otherwise what turned out to be a long and tedious ride.

Last evening at 6.20 PM I got into the bus at Krishnarajapuram, settled in my seat and looked around for the conductor to purchase the ticket. Since it was the originating station of the bus, very few passengers had occupied the seats. As the bus slowly rolled out from the dusty platform, a slender figure got in from the front door and set out to issue the tickets.

The lady conductor was dressed in a standard khaki chudidar uniform, a cream coloured weather-beaten leather bag dangled from her right shoulder and an automated ticketing machine was hanging from her lean neck. Except for a pair of small earrings, she was adorned with none of the jewellery or the makeup that has now become an essential add-on for the women of her young age.

Sporting such a deliberately unrefined outlook, she had consciously made herself look insipid in her man dominated surroundings. If she had to work her way through the prying eyes of the beast, it was essential for a woman of her occupation to stay natural and blend in the crowd. But what triggered my interest was not her natural beauty, instead, it was the manner in which she was issuing the tickets that caught my eyes.

The lady was a left-hander and until last evening I had never spotted a left-handed conductor on any of the journeys in my 39 years of travel by buses.

As she approached my seat, I handed her a 50 rupee banknote and requested for a ticket to my destination. In one swift pull with her left hand, she seized the currency from my fingers, folded the note vertically in middle and neatly tucked it with other banknotes already crammed between her right-hand middle and ring fingers. Following in quick succession, using her left hand she pulled out a two 10 rupee banknotes from the cash stack and passed the currency over to me. Subsequently, the lady opened the cash bag, rummaged with her left hand for a 5 and 1 rupee coin and neatly dropped the pair on my palm. These were the return changes that were due to me. In next second, using her right hand she grabbed the ticketing machine and with her skinny left-hand forefinger, she punched the unlock key, hit the destination code and as soon as the details were printed, still continuing to use her left hand, the conductor ripped the paper in one tug and swiftly thrust the ticket in my hand.

The entire transition lasted about 10 seconds and before I had safely placed the ticket in my wallet, the lady was already collecting the cash from my neighbouring passenger.

The attentive quickness of a graceful lady, coupled with the use of her delicate left hand for a simple task of issuing the bus ticket had turned the whole affair into a strangely captivating wizardry.

As we slowly passed from one stop to the next, the number of passengers increased inside the bus. At some point during the journey a large group of passengers got on to the bus and as all the seats were filled by now, most of them ended up standing in the aisle. While the conductor got busy issuing the tickets to the new passengers, I got busy staring shamelessly at her left-handed magic.

As I continued to gaze at the brisk moves of her hands, the conductor finished issuing the tickets and her arms were given a rest.

Suddenly, I was aware of a pair of eyes watching me stare at someone else’s hands and I felt awkward. With a doubt, I slowly looked up and glanced at the conductor’s face. Her eyes were set firmly on me and looking at her face, I turned red with guilt.

As we looked at each other for a few brief seconds, we exchanged a soft smile, relieving me of the anxiety.

Today women do better at every job that was once meant only for men and that’s the power of courage.

Happy Women’s Day.

The 27 Year Old Hairdo

4th February 2018. Sunday.

It was a lazy Sunday morning and after a good night of sleep, I had got up without the need for any hurry. The Sun was shining through the Coconut palms swaying outside the window, but the air inside my room was cold. On the deserted street, a hawker was shouting his wares, a dog barked somewhere in the close vicinity and as I stood in front of the mirror looking at my lackadaisical image reflected on the glass, I groaned in disbelief.

My hair was terribly messed up after the prolonged sleep and if Kamala atte* had to see my mane in such a ghastly shape, she would not have liked it. As I continued to gape at my thatch in disbelief, I remembered a childhood incident that was partly instrumental in shaping my present-day facial image.

My present hairdo, a reminiscence from the summer of 1991

It was the middle of 1991, a year that marked the beginning of a decade which witnessed changes like no other decennium, before or after. During the ten years leading up to the new millennium, the government liberalized its economic policy and welcomed foreign investment. The notorious Licence Raj came to an end. Bulky computers with monochrome monitors started to appear in offices, there were new gadgets on shelves and the music from the movies started to sound better and more romantic. Every Friday as we witnessed more cinema releases than ever before, there were new Stars born and older heros started to slip further from our memories. The fashion trend changed from traditional to curious, the Coca-Cola returned to India and sparked the infamous cola war. As a whole new digital generation was added to cradles each day, the working woman became a norm in every urban household.

It was early June and I was on a summer vacation. Free from the grinding routine of my residential school in Shyampur near Bhopal, I was enjoying the holidays at Bhagya atte‘s home in Mysore.

By the summer of 1991, I had already spent six months away from Karnataka, the State in which I was born and lived since birth. During the days spent in Madhya Pradesh, except for the feeling of being in the same Nation, I felt isolated from the culture that surrounded me for fourteen years.

In my new State of residence, the communication language was Hindi in which I had little proficiency. Unlike Karnataka, the climate in Madhya Pradesh was harsh with prolonged winters and dry summers. The way elderly dressed was different in its shape and style, the shops sold alien savouries and sweetmeats. The people in the rural surroundings of Bhopal had faces that were fair in complexion, sharp in features and a body frame that looked physically malnourished and weak compared to that of the people from Karnataka.

In the central part of India, the food was completely opposite to that of South Indian States – at home the core of my diet was rice, but in Madhya Pradesh, it was replaced with wheat. In Karnataka, we had pakoda* as evening tea time snack and halwa* as a festive sweet treat, whereas in my residential school these were part of the regular breakfast menu.

Throughout the day when life was surrounded by such remarkable unfamiliarity, it was easy for a fifteen-year-old ninth grader to get influenced and cultivate new habits. Similarly, with each passing day, I started to enjoy the company of my new friends and within few months I was able to decipher and converse the unaccustomed dilect. The food which tasted strange a few weeks ago turned out to be delicious and as I ended up watching more Hindi movies, I realized the existence of a young Bollywood diva called Divya Bharathi. But there was one key element that influenced me the most and it’s the hairdo of my schoolmates.

My schoolmates from Shyampur, near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh during 1991/92

Many of my classmates, teachers and people I met during my days at Shyampur sported a hairstyle that was novel to me. Unlike today, during my growing up years, the South Indian men styled their hair in a particularly widespread method – they neatly parted it from one side. But at my residential school in Madhya Pradesh many parted their hair from the middle and for a curious teenager, it was strangely good looking.

Within few months after reaching Shyampur, I had abandoned my side-parted hairstyle and adopted a new middle path. It looked more natural in my new settings and I liked how my hair waved from the middle.

Back at Bhagya atte’s home in Mysore during the 1991 summer vacation, one particular morning I had finished taking bath and dressed up in front of the mirror. Following the customary buffing of the talcum powder, I picked up a comb and got ready to groom my hair. As I was about to part my hair from the middle, Kamala atte walked into the room.

Standing next to my fifteen-year-old skeletal figure, Kamala atte gently turned me towards her and took the comb from my hand. Drawing the comb through the still moist hair, she tenderly patted on the scalp and straightened the hair towards my forehead.

As I silently stood with closed eyes and stiff neck, holding my chin with her one hand Kamala atte rearranged my hair, parting it from the left side. In a brief second, she had crossed out the centre parting from my scalp and given my hair a new styling from the old days. When she had finished grooming my hair, Kamala atte handed me the comb and walked out of the room as silently as she had walked in; and in those few minutes, while she had styled my hair, there was not a single word spoken between us.

As I checked my reflection in the mirror, my neatly arranged hair with the side parting had enhanced my looks much better than when my mane was divided from the middle.

In last 27 years, on many an occasion I have had my hair trimmed millimetre short and few times I have even had my head neatly shaved. But whenever my hair was long enough to be styled with a parting, I have always tried it the way Kamala atte did it in the summer of 1991.

*Atte – Your father’s sister, either the younger or the elder by age.
*Pakoda – A fried snack.
*Halwa – A soft sweet confectionery.

The Toughest Battle, The Sweetest Win!

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody”
– Mark Twain

It was the toughest battle I had fought and it was a fight against the most brutal enemy I had ever faced. Strangely, it was a war within; a duel I had dared with my own dark evil side and hoped to win.

If my villainous side had triumphed in the crucial conflict, I was to lose the very core of my soul. And if my upright faction in my mind was to finish first by slaying the brute in me, then I was destined to be the ultimate winner. But either case, I was right in the middle of a ‘mother of all wars’!

The feud between my two conflicting sides was brewing for over a year, and in last few months my mind had turned into a bloodied battlefield like I had never witnessed before. Since the beginning of 2018, there was a strong urge in me to go berserk and destroy every damn thing that cared to get within my reach. But at the same time, every so often I heard a soft whisper emanating from the depths of my confused mind, warning me not to be a fool.

As the days turned in to weeks, the evil in me started to turn more into a shamelessly opportunistic hyena to win the battle. But the good part of me never grew beyond a terribly plain jackass, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

After trying months with numerous tricky propositions to drag me from the influence of a crooked part of my self, the good squad within my intellect came up with a dubious suggestion – get on a train with nothing but one song.

Suddenly, I heard a villainous laugh somewhere within me!

***

As I stepped onto a train decked with dark red and blue livery, the devil in me laughed with a hint of tease, clearly taunting my intention. But I decided to walk in and take a chance. I was hopelessly tired and I desperately wanted the melee in mind to cease.

Getting into the sparsely filled coach, I walked around with a hesitating gaze, narrowed down a window seat and rested with a sigh. Taking out the mobile phone, I plugged in the earphones, opened the music application, selected that one song my righteousness had chosen and clicked on the play button.

Immediately, I felt disoriented. The song my morally upright fraction had chosen was loaded with something I had not expected, it was a befuddling dope!

As the song started to play, with increasingly soft jolts the scenery outside my window started to transform from the busy city life to that of a tranquil rural hymn. With each passing mile, the song in my ears started to unfurl in the unhurried loop. As one replay followed the next, a slowly engulfing ardour emitted from within my heart and hugged me in a tender warmth. It was nothing like I had ever experienced, and it was strangely intoxicating.
http://www.hungama.com/song/ayomaya/17835838/

The journey lasted six hours, the song looped for six hours and I was afloat for six hours in a passionate rage – the six hours of cold-blooded ravage in which I did nothing but chase, confront and slay every devil hiding within the deepest corners of my mind.

***

After twelve months of the self-inflicted moratorium, today I’m in a position to do something I love the most – to put my mind into words with ease.

Her Maiden Glide!

Sitting on the edge of an outstretched boulder, she peered down the deep valley and from somewhere far below the cliff, she heard her mother’s cheerful calls. Focusing sharply on the sound and narrowing her vision, she tried to map the vast expanse stretched ahead. The distant horizon looked unending and welcoming.

Since the day she was born, she was looking forward to this moment. The very first time she had seen her father take the leap off the edge, she was spellbound and today it was her turn to conquer the heights.

She was not nervous, but her tiny legs were shaking in anticipation. Her mind was focused and with a natural instinct flowing through her veins, she jumped off the cliff and spread her fresh wings.

The sudden gush of wind on her feathers lifted her up, and she immediately felt weightless. Beating her wings for the first time, she soared high, loudly called for her mother and from somewhere far below, she heard the delighted reply.

The Sun was shining bright and the afternoon sky was clear. She kept her head straight, looked ahead, channelling the breeze across her gleaming cheeks. Slowly, she climbed up in circles and when she reached far above the hills, she stopped flapping her wings, allowing the warm air to help her glide.

As she flew, far ahead the Earth seemed to merge with the unknown in a large curve. Surprised, she looked down and as far and wide as her young eyes could see, she saw the world in a new perspective. The huge valley was now a scratch on the land, the trees were one large green canvas and the mighty pond was just a puddle. The hills looked beaten, a hazy mist covered the landscape and except for the soft whistling sound of the wind, all she heard was the silence of the skies; and for the first time, she felt at home.