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...He came to Delhi with his father on a crowded train, most of the journey spent standing near the door (he still remembers), from Deogarh, a town in Bihar when he was 17. His father was also a rickshaw puller. Because they had no major source of income at home, his father escorted him to Delhi and took him to the rickshaw’s owner, a Marwari, for a helping hand to his family. Sumer has since spent his life traversing through the lanes, byways and streets of Delhi, where elephant-sized buses, autos with foul-mouthed drivers and expensive cars with closed windows zip by him. ...TOI on Dec. 8, 2017, 11:28 p.m.
...Few things are forgotten over time, but the traces always remain. Those unedited accounts. Some unimportant detail remains marked in our memory, forever. I remember asking her the last time, “Are you still forgetting things?” “I don’t know, I can’t remember,” said my grandmother. I don’t know where memories go when we lose our ability to recall them. May be, they then become un-retrieved accounts of forgetfulness enveloped in a faded malady of grief. Who knows? We don’t claim loss. *** She was a beautiful woman with a round face and very sharp features. In spite of her short height, she was distinctly graceful in her appearance. Age could not wither her looks. ...TOI on Sept. 21, 2017, 9 a.m.
...I have buried my past when I crossed the border. It makes me weak. I exist here. This is it. Or maybe I do not exist…. !” She ends with an un-ending smile. Reshma was trafficked from Bangladesh when she was 17 years old and was forced into commercial sex work by her own brother. She sent money to her family for a few years but now she says, “I have abandoned them too. It has set me free. I exist for none. I exist as none.” Unfortunately, ‘Statelessness’ is not a state of freedom, but of non-existence. Many others like Reshma ‘exist’ in this lost space and fight for the most basic rights for existence. In a country where conventionally women only have the sexual choices restricted to marriage, the rights of those are forced into prostitution or chose it for survival are badly refuted. The debate becomes all the more terrifying when the prescribed notions for morality clash with justiciable rights. ...TOI on July 13, 2017, 5:54 p.m.
...I chose sepia- the one which exists in diffused shading and is veiled with anonymities. Memories are often tinted on luminosity. I prefer remembering only the brighter patches, but there lies millions of shades of Grey, suspended between the black and white, faded and blurred. And that’s the thing about love. It lies suspended as an elusive reality for many. Socrates said, “A man who practices the mysteries of love will be in contact not with a reflection, but with truth itself.” But who knows the Truth? We all carry our own versions, conveniently. There must be some bigger mystery behind it. I hope it exists. And it would justify the alchemic reason for the masquerade of love we carry. After all, we belong to those who reason out everything. We call ourselves “Smart Generation”. The ones who carry all the smart gadgets and believe in our own versions of “Smart Love”. I don’t know what does that mean but I have seen that it mostly ends in despair. ...TOI on July 11, 2017, 11:48 a.m.