I am

At 10, I looked like someone who missed childhood and teenage years to go straight into being an adult. I remember vividly, that I used to hear a lot of whispers and feedback that I was “Not a good girl.” At that time when someone is branded as not bring a ‘good girl’ it meant a lot of things that were disparaging to one’s morale, psyche and general well-being. But somehow, I ignored every single soundbite that didn’t make me feel better.

At Twenty, I was way more progressive, aggressive and rebellious than those my age. While I had cautiously cut off ties with anyone who didn’t contribute to my growth, I still heard through my parents that I was branded as, “Wrong kind of girl.” With that kind of image I had a tough time getting matrimonial alliances, attending social events without being rebuked, got snarled at (and I’m not even an animal) and was at the receiving end of pernicious insults. But I had it it me to take that toxicity to turn tangible and evoke immense jealousy.

At Thirty, I had seen it all. There was nothing negative that could sway me from my dreams, ambitions and goals. By that age, I considered myself successful financially, personally, professionally and in ways that I couldn’t be compared. Because I had created my own success, redefined how I was perceived and unperturbed by catabolic narratives. I was all grin when I started hearing that I was a “Transformed Woman.” Just like that the naysayers were reduced to minutiae and as usual I did not deter from what I was set to do.

At Forty, I feel invincible. The affection that I receive from those I’ve impacted surpasses anything else that reduces me. Those that are proud to be associated with me keep building and boosting me up, every day. I feel amazing being a better version of myself than I was yesterday. It feels like the best years of my life. And I have so much to give back. Those that stab have not vanished but I have the ammunition to shut them down. All I hear now is “More power to her.”

For all those girls, young and adult women who are chastised, taunted, tarnished and excluded, pay no heed. It might hurt, make you feel undermined, but keep the fire in you alive. There is only one thing that you must take care of – YOU. Nothing else matters. I put myself first during the darkest, hardest times and continue to do so. To remain unscathed. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”

In your little one…

In your little one …

I’ll find the echoes of your laughter
While you stroll in heavenly peace
The skies will be lit with your memories

I’ll find the huskiness of your voice
While you show up in dreams
The remembrances will linger on

I’ll find the humor that I’ve lost
While you loiter in my mind
The stories of you will be told

I’ll find the subtlity in sarcasm
While you smile down on me
The lessons you’ve taught remain

I’ll find the friendship that left
While your hearse went by
The time we’ve spent is forever

I’ll find the fill for your void
While you’d have told otherwise
The heart shall always pine

Unrequited (Love)

I hide this feeling
To keep a secret
It’s perhaps forbidden
And better unrequited

There’s nothing more
Besides a nagging prick
That it’s beyond control
But I can’t stop

Some days are low
Thoughts old and new
What you might be upto
Unaware that I still love you

Words turned poetry
While I waited long
To woo your smile
Only to burn endlessly

No future is ours
Yet, I dare to dream
May be in another life
You would be mine

15th Anniversary

I seldom write about my husband. If I do, it is a one-sided banter. This year on our 15th social wedding anniversary, I won’t proclaim that he is the love of my life or the greatest thing that happened to me or that our relationship is magical or that we have amazing chemistry. Because all that would be a lie.

Despite being eloquent, I can never put in words what he is to me today and what our relationship has come to be. If you asked me 10 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the relevance of our marriage. Together, we continue to learn many life lessons. And together somehow we overcome many hurdles.

This year has been the most trying for both of us. Even though I consider myself the strongest of us, I’ve been most emotional, vulnerable and struggled to get a grip on life. During such times, even without formal training he stepped in to be my grief coach and instilled logic that pissed me off at that moment but made sense after some thought. I have not been able to do the same for him.

Every day we both make unprepared compromises, put up with each other’s idiocies, different ideologies, eccentric work styles, mostly mine, raising my parent, polar opposite creative interests, my compulsive need to clean at odd times, even sometimes telling him what he should or shouldn’t eat, drink, the list goes on.

But in over a decade and half of being together, Ram quietly provided his assurances when I was disgruntled, showing that respect for each other is more than butterflies in the stomach, consistently showing that what happens at home is much more worth than outside perception, that he is proud of me without even saying, and that we don’t have to be a perfect couple to have found our quotidian blessing.

ATA Rummy & Tambola Tournament

Rummy is a game of skill or mere skill. True to this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreaktheBias, a social stigma that had piled up in many hearts and minds was shattered with an overwhelming participation, some wins were close to our heart but ultimate goal was to have good fun. Congrats to Sudha and Anila for securing first and second places respectively in the Rummy tournament.

Thanks to some timely, organizational skills and sleek event management by Sheethal (ATA Convention Women’s Sports Chair), Prashanthi Muthyala (Co-chair), Swetha, Sravanthi, Karuna, Priya, Anu, Rekha, Sunitha, Radhika, the event was a visual treat. Many thanks to Sanju for the endless supply of resources and refreshments for the event, CATS teams, Sudheer Bandaru and Deepika Boojala for leadership support and big shout out to all the ladies, their families that came to make it another spectacular extravaganza.

#quotidianblessing American Telugu Association-ATA

Godspeed

Tomorrow when we gather without you
Remembering your laughter and vibrance
There will be tears you won’t ever see
While we look craving for your glance

Of many unfulfilled dreams of friendship
And the young years you’ll live elsewhere
For all the amazing things you let us keep
Besides wishing we had more time to care

While we have many celebrations of your life
The regret that there won’t be a goodbye
Will haunt us forever in questionable strife
We will always wonder why you, why, why?

Words and actions will always be inadequate
In ways that we are unable to foresee
But we will try to be the most passionate
That you will continue to teach us to be

Being there for the ones you left behind
Is going to be the hardest act to lead
It’s our turn to fulfill what you entwined
Until our time to join you and godspeed

Rest in Heaven

Even when we’ve memories of a lifetime
There will be moments when we miss you
To come to terms you’re gone forever
Won’t make it better for any of us
But knowing that you’re immortal
Is the strength we muster to move on
That you’ll perhaps watch over us
Especially when we most need

Your absence is going to hurt so much
Regardless of the times we’ve spent
No one could ever fill your big shoes
However hard anyone could ever try
A piece of our heart burned with you
Leaving us empty and aching
If only we all had a little more time
We’d hold on and never let you go

Thank you for all the knowledge
And the pursuit of excellence you chose
Teaching so many valuable lessons
About life, love and personal relations
Despite transcending to another world
You brought us together this time too
There shall never be another like you
Rest in heaven, until we see you again!

Overcoming Inadequacies

I never felt this complete before. There are so many indequacies I’ve overcome this year although it’s not even three months since new year. It took me to overcome intrinsic, personal, unconscious biases that I harbored and the boundaries in my mind.

My struggle with infertility and the state of mind it often leads to propelled me to come to a conclusion that I am meant for many not just to parent one or two. And, to pick myself up to lead the way for topics of taboo was not easy, but here I am.

I felt like a fish out of water around traditional establishments. But with a little nudge and a leap of faith from community leaders, I have begun to explore glass cliffs with women who have limitations just like me. After delivering a successful American Telugu Association International Women’s Day event, I won’t be looking back anymore.

I am fighting my ‘Congnitive Dissonance’, wherein upon hearing my own voice in a recording, I experience huge distress. So I started to rely on constructive criticism which I was uncomfortable with for a long time. Feedback is indeed a gift!

My passion for work was transmitting as anxiety without me realizing the detriment it was causing to those around me. With little help, I am able to curtail that tension and bring a sense of calm in crises. I didn’t know my power of modulation until I exercised it.

Negative perception about me used to bother me a lot. And I spent a lot of time and energy retorting or trying to revamp my image. I realized that no matter what I cannot dissuade cynics. Now, I’ve conditioned myself to just become stronger with each gossip.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.” And my goal is not to be a real life hero or be perfect but to be purposeful. To feel complete and help others to be.

#community #leadership #women #changemindset #breakthebias #quotidianblessing

Gender Equity – My Perspective

I made a lot of mistakes in my life, both professional and personal. But to be able to be vulnerable in front of those in whose shoes I was 20 years ago was the most riveting experience. Many may choose to call it ‘paying it forward’. Yet, I was the one who made the best of it. While sharing my own, I revisited so many memories and blunders alike that made me who I am today. I wouldn’t be this version of me if those didn’t happen.

Thanks to Sachidanand Angadi Sir, my lecturer at Y.B.Chavan College of Pharmacy, who is now the Principal of Yash Institute of Pharmacy, to have thought about me to be amidst his amazing students to share my sentiments about gender equity, my life journey, why I had to give up pharmacy to take my current path, life altering situations, and a little career guidance for those who wanted a perspective.

It was a rare happiness that I couldn’t express in words hearing the voice of my classmate Dr. Gajanan Vaishnav and be able to witness a monumental change of female to male student ratio. During my time we were about 1:6 but it is a 50/50 now. Thanks to Suwarna and Swamini ma’am’s support that I was able to seamlessly enjoy the virtual one hour. This wouldn’t have been possible if the pandemic didn’t let us explore options to bring the world together in some form.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” And I had the opportunity to be rekindled by 100+ of them. I am blessed indeed.

#quotidianblessing

Let me be…

Let me be
When I want to play in my mother’s womb
Let me be
When I want to feel visible
Let me be
When I wear blue and black
Let me be
When I don’t want to braid my hair
Let me be
When I want to be a tomboy
Let me be
When I want to be different
Let me be
When I feel various emotions
Let me be
When I hit puberty
Let me be
When I don’t want to marry
Let me be
When love is love for me
Let me be
When I want to travel the world
Let me be
When I want to wear shorts
Let me be
When I don’t confirm
Let me be
When I wish to pamper myself
Let me be
When I am defensive and loud
Let me be
When I am calm and compassionate
Let me be
When I am an extrovert
Let me be
When I don’t want to talk
Let me be
When I don’t want to get hurt
Let me be
When I don’t want to banter
Let me be
When I want to rule the place
Let me be
When you don’t agree
Let me be
When I don’t fit an honor
Let me be
When I walk away
Let me be
When I want to ink my arms
Let me be
When I want to be a boss
Let me be
When I want to rise
Let me be
Let me be