An open letter to all who turn against refugees…

Initially written to: The Royal Commonwealth Society

I hope when I write to you this letter, I understand you. I understand your routines, your way of living, and your reasons — the way you wish me to. I hope I understand your dilemmas, anxieties and hitches — in the light you prefer to illuminate. And I most certainly hope, that I understand the essential difference between us. You’re from a country soaked with the plea of refugees, and I belong to one which is yet to receive its rain.

And perhaps this is where I should end my letter, because even when I seek answers as to why you shut your doors (borders) to these braves, who endured such stormy lives in turbulent countries, I might never understand your reasons, maybe as I myself have never lived them. I’ve never heard the voices of refugees like you have, never sensed the dust on their ragged clothes. Never seen the helplessness in their eyes, or the bones more prominent than their frail masses. And yet I prefer to continue this letter.

Because I wonder what I would do if I were you. If a brave came knocking on my door someday and I shut the wood on his face, what reasons would I give? The crisis is worsening, the rain might be over our head tomorrow. Will I or will I not welcome them? I’d have to act that crucial moment, so I better prepare my answers now. But my thoughts are blank, and I seek your reasons, to give some face to them.

Their stories echo in the hollows of media all day, and you got the privilege to meet them. They were almost like warriors at your doorstep and you had the choice to greet them. Now why countries and men like you chose not to, is what fuels my curiosity (not my anger).

A loss of privacy in your very home — is that what you feared? Truth be told, I’d fear it too. Yet when I think of the barren, bomb shelled fields they come from, even a four walled room seems enough secrecy to me.

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The acceptance of different cultural identities — is that what you looked down upon? These braves are from middle-eastern, Islamic countries. And terror and innocence, is all born in the same land. This often, I fear, is what compels people to view the beautiful religion of Islam as a birthplace of suicide bombers and head choppers. The image of refugees as harmless,unarmed warriors eludes our memory. But by the blurring the line between the ‘victimised’ and ‘victimising’, aren’t we merely proving our narrow mindedness? Our intolerance? Does this then, remain a more logical reason than the previous one? I hope you’re thinking what I’m thinking.

Security and stability — were these too, few of your biggest worries? They’re mine too. Yet when parents put their children in boats to cross vast stretches of oceans and seas, leaving their hole-riddled homes to (just maybe) make it to the shores of other countries, I wonder how tremendous a leap they take back in terms of security.

Really, I do not intend to contradict you because like I said, I lack experience of such a situation. But neither does my will allow me to support or agree, maybe because if life were a big sentence, I’d like to dot it with substance and meaning. I would add words to it, diverse and rich words so that it could mean as vast as I want it to. On the same note, if the entire world were a big country with endless borders and sea shores, I’d hope it could take in all the people from diverse religions and backgrounds equally.

——————

Your inner voice had said to you, “Why should you let them in?”

I don’t beg the question why? But rather, why not? My heart knows no answer.

And looking at the intensity of this rain of crisis, I do hope I never find one.

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Complex Framing — A proven approach to style changing

Definition:

Complex framing, is a way of twisting-turning a sentence by shifting the places of verbs, nouns, or prepositions in order to make the sentence sound more complex as well as add a different tone to it. This method is used by authors worldwide for expressing their unique styles by making simple sentences abstruse for the readers, usually for the purpose of emphasis or poetry.

Here’s an example,
The great Giza pyramids are one of the most famous seven wonders.

Now, there are many ways of framing these sentences for more abstrusity and uniqueness –

1) The great Giza pyramids are one of the seven wonders most famously known (to mankind).
2) One of the seven wonders most famously known, are the great Giza pyramids.
3) The great Giza pyramids are one of the most famous seven wonders known to mankind.
4) Being one of the seven wonders, the great Giza pyramids are really famous.

You get the picture.

Complex framing is actually quite complex. There are a few things that a complex sentence always ensures and have to be kept in mind when reasoning or writing a sentence framed in this way, they are:
1) The newly framed complex sentence must convey the same meaning.
2) One of the reasons why complex framing is generally used is to add emphasis to a particular word(s) that the actual sentence couldn’t. Therefore, it is important that you know the word you want to lay the emphasis on and place it accordingly.
3) These sentences should only be used when applicable, else they lead to unnecessary ambiguity and the entire meaning supposed to be conveyed is diluted.

Now let’s take another example, this time an even simpler one:

Melissa wanted to go swimming, though she had an exam the other day. As the dilemma seated itself on her head, she knew deep down the exam was more important.

There are no flaws in the sentence. However, it lacks poetry and emphasis. Here are a few trick steps to keep in mind if you need some:

1. Identify where and on what (word) you need the emphasis.
It is important that you understand where exactly you want the emphasis, because every word when stressed in a sentence, changes the tone of the whole paragraph in a unique way. Shortlist a few main words which are highlighted in the paragraph or even the whole passage, then decide accordingly.

Now let’s look at the example. There are two main things clearly visible here:
— swimming
— exam

Melissa and dilemma are also important, but I’d first like to take these two so that the idea of complex framing is clear in your mind.
Start asking yourself? On which word would you like more emphasis: swimming or exam. Ensure that your character agrees with it too. Ideally, what Melissa is more concerned about is the exam, so we’ll stick with that.

2. Position the word you want the emphasis on.
Now that we’ve figured out what we need the emphasis on, we need to know how. j
Look carefully at the sentence to which the word belongs.

As the dilemma seated itself on her head, she knew deep down the exam was more important.

Like I said, it lacks emphasis. To create some, and on the right word (in this case, exam) — experiment. Keep twisting turning the sentence (or even just a part of it) until you find the ideal one.
To begin with, here are a few ways:
She knew that deep down, the exam mattered more.
Deep down, she knew that the exam was more important.

The best sentence is usually the one which conveys its meaning in minimum words. Preferably, we should go with the first choice. Fortunately, it also has a bit of poetry as well. Kudos, we got a bonus.

3. Check for grammar errors.

This is important. Never, ever sacrifice grammar for poetry or emphasis. Unless, of course, it beautifies the feeling in the sentence to near infinity. This is called poetic license.

So first, review the whole sentence.

Melissa wanted to go swimming, though she had an exam the other day. As the dilemma seated itself on her head, she knew that deep down, the exam mattered more.

No grammar errors here. Kudos to us again.
So this is it. Three steps: Identify. Position. Review. You might as well call it the ‘IPR’ technique. But this is the just the beginning. This example is merely the simplest of sentences. The true power of Complex Framing is not very evident here. But with practice and tons of examples, you’ll realise its worth gradually.

To give you a head start, here’s another one.

The PKK has been in conflict with Turkey since many years because they demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan.

Now this is as straightforward as that. For a debrief at a security firm, it’ll do the job. But imagine Shakespeare having to give Hamlet a dialogue such as this. Poor, poor Shakespeare. He’d squeeze the essence out of it for a pinch of poetry. Let’s imagine how he would proceed.

Remember the steps.

First one? Identify.

There’s only one subject leading the race of importance: PKK. Kurdistan and Turkey trail a little behind.

Second step, eh? Position the identified word.

Now this can be a little tricky. But if we look closely, shifting PKK from its place would be dangerous; this would easily shift the emphasis of the sentence to Turkey or Kurdistan, which are of secondary importance. But there are a billion ways to experiment with language and words, so give your shot.

In my view, I’d rather leave it untouched. But if this really were Shakespeare, he’d mould the sentence, thus changing its shape.

1. Remember, shorter the better. Switch ‘because’ with ‘as’.
2. Also, ‘many years’ is irrelevant, and it just makes the sentence look lengthy. It’s not like we’ve been giving an exact statistic of “how many years?” anyway, so ditch that.
3. Turkey has been repeated twice, and at close intervals. Any way to replace one of the Turkeys?

Now for some shape.

PKK has long been in conflict with Turkey as they demand separation from the state for the creation of their very own, independent, Kurdistan.

This ‘very own’ has been added for more emphasis to the need of the PKK.

This brings us to the third step — Grammar and Review.

PKK has long been in conflict with Turkey as they demand separation from the state for the creation of their very own, independent, Kurdistan.

No grammar errors. Yay again.

Ensure you only use Complex Framing when needed, since it is stupidly hilarious to beat the poetry out of every word and syllable in every damn sentence. This is to enhance your style, to rid the banality of an overused or often-heard sentence.

Tobacco— A Puff Is Enough

Dedicated to all who love fiddling with death sticks in their mouth (even when you take it out, you purse it between your lips again….and again…and again). Just another eye opener….

It’s the first plant cultivated by Native Americans for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The dried leaves given to Christopher Columbus by the natives on his arrival in Bahamas. It gave rise to its most popular product, cigars, in the early 1800s. And, it’s the one thing seen in the hand of every distraught, stressed individual. Think I know what I’m talking about? Tobacco, of course. And the one last thing? It’s also the leading ‘preventable’ cause of death.

Down to statistics, about 5 million deaths per year are caused by tobacco use
worldwide, and current trends show that it will cause around 8 million deaths per year by 2030. And what’s interesting, approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco use. One…two…three…and your neighbour living from you two blocks away might be dead in another three more seconds. So is mankind so interested in dying young? Breathing their last for imminent extinction? Why is it so difficult to let go of one stick? The answer lies in our brains—seeking tobacco is a physical addiction and psychological habit. When we are under stress or mental anxiety, we see tobacco as a way of release. Thus, we get accustomed to smoking and see it as a way of coping up with stress, unresolved tension, and at times even boredom. Tobacco soon enough, becomes a lifeline. This causes us to get highly addicted to smoking, chewing or smelling tobacco. Tobacco, moreover, contains a highly addictive drug called nicotine, that causes many young people to progress from smoking occasionally to smoking on a regular basis. And as science puts it, eliminating the regular fix of nicotine causes the body to experience physical withdrawal system and craving, making things worse. And our mentality, just makes it worst. Peer pressure, especially among adolescents is the most common reason of getting fixated on tobacco. In fact, about 70% of adolescent smokers admit to have gotten the habit due to peer pressure. (Perhaps a call for strong willpower would not be inopportune.)

‘Family first’, as we all say, is only a preach, not an act. Certainly not to the inveterate smokers out there. research shows that for every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more people suffer. Second-hand smoke causes more than 6 million premature deaths per year, and knowing that about 40% children have at least one smoking parent, we must feel some empathy for them. Inhaling even the smallest amount of smoke can harm our DNA and cause cancer. And what about the smokers themselves? Tobacco gives rise to myriad heart and lung problems, not to mention cancer as well. Heart problems like high blood pressure, severe chest pains, coronary heart disease, stroke, etc. become common as the chemicals in tobacco smoke harm our blood cells and damage the working and functioning of the heart. Respiratory problems like lung cancer affects our breathing and scars our lungs. The breath though, is something we’re all familiar with. The smell in itself is so appalling, that swaying hands to clear out air or cupping them over the mouth seemingly becomes from occasionally to reflex. If there was one thing tobacco went easy on, it must’ve been the eyes. Up till now, of course. In recent research, smoking has been linked to cataract and optic nerve damage. Also, in rare cases, cigarette smoke, which contains more than 7000 chemicals, can also lead to deformation of babies in women. The question arises: Is this what we’re aiming for? A generation brimming with deformity? Where our children breath smoke instead of oxygen? Nevertheless, all this in the end, only adds up to the consequence of this addiction.

Like family vows, ‘health is wealth’ seems to be down the drain too. And I must highlight, health, as it happens, is in fact connected to wealth. Smokers in impoverished families, countries, or communities, when die prematurely, deprive their family of income, raise the cost of health care, and hinder economic development. In addition, tobacco industries spend, or more precisely, “waste” billions of dollars each year on cigarette advertising and promotion. It has also been observed that tobacco users are less productive at workplace due to increased sickness.To sum up, not only is tobacco injurious to health, it makes economic costs equally devastating.

So if we really need to do justice to our loved ones, and to literature (for the sayings and proverbs it has provided us) people must, in a word abstain. ‘Quit Smoking’ has been hanging around since ages now, but as unbelievable as it may seem, tobacco addiction and smoking can be overcome. People, specifically illiterates, should be educated and made aware of the harmful effects of tobacco. This may seem trite and cliche, but here’s an eye opener- “A 2009 survey in China revealed that only 38% of the smokers knew that it causes coronary heart disease, and a puny 27% knew that it causes stroke.” This obviously shows that despite being so technologically advanced, education is still an imperious need and plays a vital role, whether be environment, tobacco, literature, or any other field. But for the sake of not disparaging technology, I would happily like to add that picture warnings, and hard-hitting tobacco ads broadcasted on TV are a big help, and thanks to them, smoking is at new lows. Therefore, these must be continued and prices of tobacco products should be increased, so that less people buy them. Government should also implement and promote compliance and support of national, state, and local tobacco laws. If there would be less of ‘lighting’ cigarettes and more of ‘pitching’ them, tobacco use could be as minor a problem as your neighbour annoying you. Then again, that’s highly unlikely since death might be haunting him already.
A puff, is indeed, enough. Enough to walk you to your deathbed, enough to sap you out of your money, enough to warp your home, your lifestyle and most certainly, enough for breeding a generation accustomed to smoke. The time is not tomorrow, nor today, it is now. Else, your very own ‘lifeline’ will cost you your life.

Speak Up Against Racial Discrimination

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In event of Mandela’s birthday, I had written another poem for a competition related to Africa’s struggle for freedom. My parents loved it, but the poem failed to win acclaim in the competition. Somehow I didn’t take this to be fair, so just thought of publishing it in a magazine or something. But even this is not as easy as it sounds. For the time being, I’ve decided to publish it here. If you like it, kindly say so coz that would just make my day. I’m trying my best not to sound desperate (I’m not!) but not winning the competition, really put me in a fragile place. The poem is in first person, about a girl who has been taken away from her homeland, perhaps Africa, and subjected to slavery. The poem recounts her experience of racism, coupled with struggle and torture, about how she is treated like a commodity—trapped in a box, travelling in a truck, and then finally emptied out. Initially she thinks she is free, but as the poem progresses it seems clear that she had it all wrong. She is free, true, but free only for more brutality and discrimination. Finally, towards the end of the poem, she is sick of it and speaks up. Using voice as a weapon, she demands her rights and racial parity. Her heart turns a fire, freedom an ignition. Once again she finds herself free, only that this time she is not mistaken. She is, indeed—free, at last.

Here’s how it goes…..

FREE, AT LAST

Somewhere in the heart of land unknown
Among the swarms of filth and cries,
A weight, conquering the head
Stood I, in dark despise.

Life, was a blunder
My body, a price
Freedom, a lost hope
And my skin, an abhorring sight.

Oh, the weight was too much
I must be young,
For my feet were small;
Patches of supple skin burnt in the relentless sun.

I could see a man, a man of different colour
Fairer than mine, darker than peace
Money in one hand, in the other—
My arm he seized.

For days I was trapped, crammed in a box
Beneath my feet were tyres turning,
Face sweating with heat of the engine fuel burning
I was emptied out—free, at last.

Free? Oh yes, free to sweep the floors
Free to mop the rooms,
Free to roam around
With my hands clutching pans and brooms.

I was beaten, taunted when I broke something
Called black, coloured, a nigger,
My pleas fell on deaf ears
Only injury, was what they triggered.

Is this what it’s about? My race, my colour?
The very reason why my equality was severed?
But that shall not last long, I vowed to myself,
I’ll demand more, empower what I’ve long said.

Now I saw a woman in me, a woman of different colour
Fairer than whites, shimmering like peace
Voice in one hand, in the other—
Freedom, I seized.

For days I have been trapped in a system of black and white
But now—
Beneath my feet are whites mourning,
Trapped in the echoes of a black soaring
I have voiced myself out—free, at last.

Liked the poem? Do comment.

P.S: The purpose of the poem is not intended to blemish the image of the whites. Kindly acknowledge that the poem is an ‘account’ of slavery, not a ‘breaking news’ on CNN or whatever. It’s set in the past, to the time when slavery was as prevalent a crime as cyber bullying is now. Then again, it will never be as menial as the latter.

Comeback—A review of all I wrote in the year gone by

Now that I’m the mood for some real blogging (behold, it shall be temporary) I’ll keep posting like a maniac till the night sets in (It’s 8 already where I live, so I guess the night is in). Like I said, I’ve been busy, but not so much as to entirely give up on writing. Oh no, it’s not the judgement day yet. So as a comeback, or a fresh beginning, I’ll post all that I wrote throughout the year gone by—one by one, gradually, sort of like a review.

Here’s the first one—

Months ago, I was given an assignment of writing a poem about my motherland. It’s not a very good one, but it is something.

If ever I had to search for a wonderland,
I’d never distance my eyes beyond
For here lies, before me,
A country of whom I’m overfond.

With its seemingly tireless trails of heaven,
And grass wet with morning dew
India remains, but a
A camera full of picturesque views

Who could possibly slip away from,
An Eden of heightened beauty
And limit our world to the,
Bustles of our barren city?

For the true face of India,
Lies in it’s mountains of glory
In the serene beaches on its coastline
And rivers brimming with carp and dory.

In the panned plateaus,
Landscapes home to cotton and wheat
And the wide northern plains-
Buildings as far as the eye could see.

Are we blind to call our motherland,
A dumpster for litter and grot
When its meadows and hills still thrive,
And it’s grace is not lost?

If only we cater to its needs,
Keeping ours aside for a while
We’ll live in an aesthetic dream
Not surrounded by a garbage pile!

An apology to all who kept faith in me……

It’s been almost an year since the creation of this blog, and all those who actually viewed my blog might be thinking by now that I only write one blog post per year. Well, that is not true. I’ve been busy, quite busy, and even though I promised regular blogposts on this site, I never actually got the time to do it. I know the line “Never say you don’t have enough time, you have the same 24 hours Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and (other models of fame) ever had…” I say it myself, though I doubt whether it’s more of saying or extensive prating. Nevertheless, my heartfelt apologies for…practically everything I blabbed but didn’t do. Whether you landed here on purpose or your mouse just gave away, I want to thank each one you who viewed my blog. Although it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever stop by again, but if you do, out of illusionary hope, I’m all the more grateful.

Humanity to the Environment – Are We Really That Bad?

Taking into consideration the threat we have caused to our society and the cruelty we have done to our Mother Earth, humanity has learnt it’s lesson. Today, we have realized the difference between good and evil, through the disparate results they yield. We are guilty of and amenable to the fact that humans and technology together have destroyed our planet. Thus, in order to clean our image, we are trying to gloss over the evil, through the good we are doing now and will do in the future. And keeping technology in front, a makeover of the planet is indeed in action.

Knowing that change needs to be fast and fruitful, this makeover is likely the highest priority all over the world today. And yes, although technology has, as some would agree, ‘worsened our planet’, I do feel that it is doing an equally good job ‘saving our planet’, as it did demolishing it. For instance, using energy resources like the sun, wind, water, heat, and the like would have been absolutely futile if it wouldn’t have been for technology to create renewable energy. Many scientists also feel that sustainable development would never be possible without technology. And who has been behind this all these years? None other than mankind.

However, I would also like to add that not every person on this earth is doing things for the betterment of the planet. There are many, who have still not understood the
brutality done to nature, many who still act indolent, indifferent, and unconcerned towards any good for our own planet, and this, is why the good done is not so clearly visible and is not whole heartedly appreciated. After all, it is only through unity, that good can be seen and achieved.

But, at least we have now learnt that intervening with the ecosystem was a big mistake, and are doing everything we can to replenish the resources we diminished.

In sum, I end by saying that the only apology our earth would accept is if we turn it back to what it was before, and we better start doing it quick, before wrath is all that’s left for us to see.