Senseless Superstitions

I’m often asked why I don’t write in third person which is writing from an outsider point of view, and or by using second person, where I am arbitrarily writing about a ‘you’ and ‘yours’, instead of vilifying my ‘aunts’, ‘uncles’ or ‘cousins’ or ‘relatives’ etc. For those who know me well, I am a poet first. But writing poetry has never been a coachable moment for anyone simply because for those that I want to teach, I give the impression of suffering from insanity or melancholy. After all, poets are disheartened people. And I had languished decades writing paramount poetry of my life devoid of ‘moving the needle’. On 28th December, 2014, I made the audacious makeover to write prose. And boy oh boy, what a difference it made.

Out came all those “When asked who’s the thief, started sweating bullets.” Never in seven years of writing in ‘first person’, had I never felt any repentance just because of the fact that I was not mendacious. If I were, I am sure my conscience would be bruised beyond recognition. Till today, I am proud to have abundant bravado to transcribe my actuality. I genuinely hope that this vigor shall last till I rest in peace. In pursuit of such truth, I desire to share in extreme authenticity that, “Sometimes painful things can teach us lessons that we didn’t think we needed to know.” And those that have been in the practice of demeaning other resilient individuals would stop in their tracks one of these days.

My memory has been my worst enemy. It is not easy to live with remembrances since when I couldn’t speak properly. At 14 months, I was effortlessly rattling sensible sentences and had the intellectual capacity of an adult. When I was in third grade, my grandmother, mother’s mother was caught in between the punting responsibilities of her brood. Sadly, besides my mother, none had the soul to raise a parent. But that one time, out of shame of disregarding their mother, two of her sons had decided to keep her in one of their homes for a few weeks. By rule of thumb the sons bear responsibility of the ageing parents but they had successfully created an exception to a tradition.

She requested my parents that she return to our place immediately. While she was there her elder son’s mother-in-law had verbally abused her. At our home, the four of us, my father, mother, grandmother and I were like the exemplary close-knit family. There was not a day when we didn’t show our love and respect for each other. It was quite a jolt for the three of us that my grandmother had to endure the darkest time of her life. While her transportation was yet to take place, her elder son’s son had visited us. I remember that I used to look forward to his visit as a kid. I feel fortunate that he still remains one of the few who is yet to insult me.

I don’t know what came of me but I couldn’t stop campaigning how conforming to certain forceful traditions is wrong such as keeping my grandmother against her wish in their home. I was also determined to ensure he would take my ruckus back to his parents and his mother’s mother. Although I admit, for that age, it was wrong on my part to display the choicest of bad words. I never did that ever again in my life. When my grandmother passed away, the same woman told my mother that my grandmother became a drifting wicked ghost. And that she had to put out food in front of their home and call that ‘spirit’ a ‘whore’ for it to go away. As Bertrand Russell had rightly said, “Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.” Perhaps, their fear stemmed from their previous abuse meted to my grandmother, and haunted them to take refuge in senseless superstitions.

Another that I can get over, is how my half-brother literally ‘stole’ my father’s dead body to bury him per ‘their’ customs. My father had thoughtfully instructed my mother and I to ditch that practice and cremate instead. Until then, I did not realize that many Hindu families who orthodoxly incinerate the lifeless, still do bury. Even though I will never have closure with my father’s demise, I still feel unacceptably disheartened for not having fulfilled his last demand. Since, I have piled on such experiences to the roll of my unforgiving manners. As time passed, I have begun to recognize that superstitions are indicators of weak minds.

My mother reminds me of how alone she felt after my father passed. Not because there was a great void because of absence. It was how she was treated – like a societal discard. She was not subject to the widow superstitions but there was none that treated the humanely. Those languished in the get-togethers at my home before and parcel copious take-outs, did not bat an eyelash to not only waste the food prepared in his honor but also not host her. It was not just the superstition that she was a new widow and considered inauspicious but stabs from the resented minds. For several of those, attempts of humanizing through poems was not enough.

There are many more I will continue to point out. This is my way of eradicating senseless superstitions through direct writing. It is my appeal to whoever reads, that it is not my aim to be endlessly negative or express my incapability to ‘move on’ or ‘forgive and forget’ or harp on the past. If these delusions continue to hold our humanity in ways leading to toxic behaviors, or linger to serve as prologues to intimidating fear from past relationships, or unease resulting from opinions, we would never progress as communities or as families. My goal is to change the bigotry that has been embossed as a convention without equitable reason.

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