A book a day… keeps the blues away

Different challenges people for themselves set

Announcing them somewhere on the internet

To gain publicity, or for accountability

It is trendy to challenge our abilities..

So I gave myself a challenge, announcing on “Goodreads”

That every single day for a month, a book I would read

Now forty-five days later, forty-five books I have read

On a variegated literary diet I stand well-fed

What did I achieve? That is something I cannot explain

I was already an avid reader, I did not need to “train”

To read a book fast enough to complete it in a day

You might ask if this obsession got in the day

Of my work, of other tasks to be completed

Surprisingly, reading a book a day never depleted

My time significantly, what it did actually

Was that each book became my best ally

For the day- enticing me away from TV and shopping online

As books worked their magic, I had less time to whine

Different worlds I experienced with each book read

Some barely touched me, with others tears were shed

From stories set centuries ago to politics contemporary

My selection of books was fairly arbitrary

Browsing through collections at my local library each weekend

Became a ritual of sorts, a gainful way to spend

My time- checking out as many books as I could 

Selecting books on varied topics such that I would

Be forced to move out of my comfort zone 

My reading choices expanded, I never felt alone

As books became my companions constant

I felt happy that my time was well spent

This was a challenge, which has reached completion

Now I shall withdraw from my self-imposed competition

Still continue to read daily, though not a book every day

I have waxed poetic about it enough, that’s all I had to say!

The bottomless pit..

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. –Erich Fromm

I thought from my parents I had imbibed

Through my childhood, values right

Growing up, undue emphasis on money we did not place

Life was supposed to be much more than a race

To acquire more wealth, accumulate comforts material

Our goals were supposed to be loftier, less tangible..

Maybe I was not as strong as I thought I would be

In the face of temptation, I swayed ever so slightly

At first, the lure of more money was accompanied

By other rewards, and an eager need

To be recognized in my field, which, after all, 

Had a philanthropic aspect to it, though small

So I worked harder, giving myself the justification

That there was nothing wrong in pursuing ambition

It would only be for a few years, until I was established

Then I would cut back on work, and lead the life I wished

I marvel at my naivete during those early years

I wish more powerful had been my fears

About getting stuck in the rat race 

So I could have retracted from that slippery place…

Neglecting my life at home and my family

I did not realize when the fine line was crossed by me

Between healthy ambition and vile greed

The desire for more was constantly justified as need

What’s more, productivity was encouraged and applauded

So, for my greed, I was constantly being rewarded

Therefore, ignoring migraines, heartburns and such

I worked harder to acquire more, at no point it was too much

I should have known I was headed for a burnout

The writing was on the wall, but I was too busy running about

To pay attention to it, so when I had a mental breakdown

I finally took notice, and heard the sirens sound

I then realized how the slippery slope of greed

Had robbed me of my prized possessions indeed-

Peace of mind and sound sleep at night- 

I had given up both without a fight…

That too, for nothing, because insatiable is greed

Continuously presenting each want as a need

I learnt my lesson, my greed I vanquished

Got back the life of values for which I had wished

Women speak up

Board-Meeting

I think I am fairly qualified

To give an opinion on the matter at hand

Yet when I present my side

Of reasoning, they seem unable to stand

The fact that I have spoken- after all, who am I

To comment on matters important

I am expected to remain submissive and shy

To refrain from an opinion even when present

 

As soon as I have finished, I get a smile

Followed by a condescending comment

By now I have figured out the board members’ style

My ideas for them are pure entertainment

Then one of them proceeds to explain things to me

Like I am slow of mind or imbecile

Let me assure you, I am neither or I wouldn’t be

In this boardroom, in fact I have gone the extra mile

To be where I am, so I probably have qualifications

That exceed theirs’- I analyze problems thoroughly too

I should not have to give any justification

In expressing exactly what I want to.

 

I am frankly perplexed and sometimes amused

At how men continue to disregard opinions that women present

Many do it subconsciously, though they might refuse

To acknowledge any misogyny, they support equality in sentiment

From the average workplace meeting to the presidential debate

“Manterruption” appears to be a universal male trait

 

Hear me out gentlemen, I have something to say

If it came from a man, this idea would be lapped up today

So lend me your time and attention valuable

I am confident of bringing new ideas to the table

 

Border

border

I cannot help feel a pang of jealousy

When I see a bird fly over me…

It is free to fly in any direction

No border can restrict that freedom…

 

Then I shake my head at the sheer absurdity

Of comparing myself to a bird that is free

I am a mere human, who happened to be 

Born on the wrong side of the border, you see

Where poverty, drugs and organized crime

Were making life difficult with the passage of time

My nest was in peril, unlike a bird I could not teach

My children to fly, to free them from the enemy’s reach…

 

 

Leaving home is never a decision taken lightly

The hazards of crossing the border were known to me

Yet what do you do when each day is spent in fear

Of losing the ones you hold near and dear?

I could keep existing, but it killed me each day

To watch childhood being taken away

From my children- I had to find a way to provide 

A better life for them, to venture across the divide-

We could swim across the river treacherous

Or venture through the scorching desert perfidious

We could perish, and attain salvation thus

If we made it across alive, that would be a plus

 

Yes, we survived, my children and I

We crossed the border, our hopes did not die

 

We are undesirable statistics, we are aware

We work hard, knowing life is not fair

Life on this side of the border is not easy

But my children have been restored the carefree

Childhood they deserve-that was my sole aim

In crossing the border, yes, I take the blame

 

The birds are flying south, the border they will cross

While I thank God for my gains, and mourn my loss..

Image: (Painting/”Crossing Borders”/Gwynne Duncan): https://longislandwins.com/herstory/enstories-liberation-will-walk-endescaminare-hasta-el-final/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen to forty

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I am young, and have stars in my eyes

I need to work hard, and that’s no surprise

I know academic excellence shall pave the way

For a better future that I strive towards every day

I should have my life figured out- I am seventeen

My admission essay should spell out what I have not yet seen-

I should have a clear vision of my future, that’s expected

Being competitive is a trait I have perfected

An Ivy league education followed by a six-figure salary

Are prerequisites to being successful and happy

Ambition and drive I think I have in plenty

A prosperous life for me they should guarantee..

**

My fortieth birthday I celebrate today

 

That ambitious adolescent has come a long way

That driven girl of yester-years did achieve

Her professional goals- what is generally perceived

As success, I think I can claim I have in hand

Yet the parameters of happiness, I now understand

Are very different from what I thought they would be

As a seventeen year old aspiring for a college degree

The competitive streak that I had in me

Was not conducive for happiness, I now see

To excel at everything I had been striving for throughout

Be it work, or being a supermom- even at the risk of burnout..

Turning forty, however, has made me evaluate

What I really want from my life, on my plate

I have stopped competing with others around me

I’m trying to focus on my passions, what makes me happy…

 

By the way, the girl who at the age of seventeen believed

Her life was figured out, at forty, is still trying to figure out her life indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compliment

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My daughter, to you I must apologize

For the compliment I gave you the other day

When I called you “pretty in your dress”, I did not realize

That years of conditioning had made their way

Into this seemingly innocuous comment of mine-

A comment that flawed perceptions did validate

Calling you pretty was an unmistakable sign

That from societal norms I find it difficult to deviate-

In that moment I thought about you in your outfit

Though you were going out for a mathematics quiz

I realized my folly soon- this did not sit

Well with me at all, therefore the self-analysis..

I let you down (and myself too)

I should have focused on your intelligence

Instead I thought about your beauty, it’s true

The wrong attribute again took precedence

To your brother I would not have said

Something similar, my comment would have been

Geared towards his mental capability instead

Yet this is the discrimination I’ve seen

Over and over again, all around me

This behavior is so deeply ingrained

For a female, we think of her outer beauty

First- before we remember she has a brain

Next time I decide to pay a compliment

To a girl- in my choice of words I shall be conscious

I shall think of each field in which she is competent

Only then on physical attributes shall I focus

This is what I shall endeavor to do, my daughter

And if I fail, give me a gentle reminder..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refugee

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I think about this every single day

Why did my life have to turn this way?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know I am in luck

I am still alive, I am no longer stuck

In the hellhole that my country has become

Fortunate to get asylum are only some

Here I am in a land that has accepted me

On its soil, albeit hesitantly

Beggars cannot be choosers, you might think

Yes, the war did bring me to the brink

Of begging for my life and freedom

To knock at doors of anyone who would welcome

A refugee fleeing from the horrors of war

I cannot believe I have come so far

From the respectable citizen I used to be

Before my country was thrown into savagery

 

Yes, I am living, and my family is well too

Considering everything my people have gone through

Yet something in me is broken, beyond repair

I find it hard to see beyond the veil of despair

I was a manager, now I work in a store

For minimal wages, to feed my family of four

Yes, I am grateful that a job I could find

Yet thoughts of despondency cloud my mind

I am afraid that my feeling of insecurity

Will continue, throughout life, to haunt me

 

Then there is the survivor’s guilt I cannot shake

From my mind, news from my country threatens to break

Me into pieces, each time I hear stories of horror

Of innocents dying, including young children and mothers

If prayers have some power, fervently I pray

For this madness to stop, every single day

 

Yes, I think about it constantly

How the senseless war has torn my country

Forcing countless people like me

To be labeled “refugees”

But I am alive, I remember with gratitude

As I set out for my job with fortitude..

(Image: The Global Refugee Mural by Joel Bergner:  https://myhero.com/action_ashe_global_refugee_2011)