Monday, 6 November 2017

You Break. I Build: A Note to Molesters

Hello Beautiful World!
I am ... well, never mind who I am.  As of now,
Lets just stick to the fact that I am a girl. Like you, I am young, my body is full of joy, my eyes weave dreams. I walk the streets of this city with hope and belief. And yes, there are times I break. I would like to share one such instance in my life, that shattered me  for months but then gave me the strength to emerge stronger. 

One day, I was on my way home from a general store, holding a packet of milk in my hands, walking on the left side of the road, humming some melodious song, enjoying the beautiful weather. Suddenly, I was on the ground, pushed fiercely from behind by someone. I was alive, but my thoughts were dead for some time. I pulled myself back and stood up, and started walking quickly towards my home. I got back home, washed my face, looked into the mirror, and started crying.

What actually happened was when I was walking on the road, a man, aged around 30, followed me on his bike. As he came near me, he raised his arm, hit me on my buttocks so hard that I fell head on the ground. 

Strangely, I felt guilty, ashamed of my body, and careful that no one saw me. Later, I wept as I shared this incident with my older sisters. All they said was, “Dear, this happens to us daily in the bus, work places, colleges... almost everywhere. Don’t worry yourself thinking so much about it. Stay calm and cool.”
They meant that every girl suffered from the problem of eve-teasing. They had taken this to be a part of their life. Something inside me stirred that day, and I realized that I couldn't simply sit back and allow something so degrading and disheartening to be an accepted fact of my life. 

That incident made me look at our society in a new light, and instead of bringing me down, it made me stronger than I was before. I now aim to be the first woman D.G.P. of Telangana, and ensure that eve-teasing doesn't go unchecked in our city anymore.
I now work hard to reach my aim. I built up my body, both mentally and physically. I joined the National Cadet Corps, and received the best cadet trophy, among other awards.


I don’t blame myself for that incident anymore.  We need to kill this menace of eve-teasing in our society. We need to stop looking at it as 'minor' incidents, and let those boys go unpunished. I can still recall with painful ease the hurt and disgust I felt on my own body after that incident. No woman should have to shame her own body just because some pervert on the street dared to degrade it. And the fact that I had to face it when I was just a little girl enrages me even more. Only a change in the mindset of this patriarchal society of ours can curb this problem. Instead of advising girls to 'stay in their limits', and watch their dress and movements, we need to teach our boys respect, and advice them to restrain their actions. 

Today,  I am a girl who is able to raise her voice, and if needed, her hand, towards those men who dare to eve-tease other women and girls. And although it is painful to talk about that incident even today, I'd like to take this opportunity to let myself know that I don't need to hide myself and my story anymore. I am Hima Bindu. My identity is only enriched by the fact that I am a girl, but it is by no means restricted to just that. I have dreams in my head, and passion in my heart, and those are the things that define me. That incident changed me as a person, and I won't allow painful memories to tie me down anymore. I want to serve as an example to all the young girls, and let them know that we don't have to put up with such behavior anymore.


Lets break the silence. Lets bring about a change. 


Cadet Hima Bindu: Passion, Strength, Pride.



Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Contemporary Relevance of Francis Bacon's Essay "Of Studies" by Hoor Banu

The Contemporary Relevance of Francis Bacon’s Essay “Of Studies”

Hoor Banu: All Smiles after a fruitful day at Osmania University

The paper won "Special Paper"  award at the "Paper Reading Contest" organised by Department of English, Osmania University, Hyderabad, 18-19 August, 2017 

Introduction

“Reading maketh a Full Man; Conference a ready man; and writing an exact man”, wrote Francis Bacon in the essay, “Of Studies”, published in the year 1597. Francis Bacon was a revolutionary lawyer, scientist and political figure of sixteenth century England. However, among students of English Literature, he is valued for his pioneering work on content and style of the English essay. Influenced by French writer Michel Du Montaigne, Bacon developed his own compact and formal style of essays. Some of his other popular works include, “Of truth”, “Of Travel”, “Of Atheism”. I have taken up for my study the essay, “Of studies". One may think, why in an age of information overload, when the dynamics of the way we read, write and study has undergone inexplicable changes, I choose to go back to Bacon? What is the relevance of remembering Bacon in the context of studies when our knowledge systems are being updated and altered every day at a maddening speed? In my paper, I would like to elaborate the importance of the essay, “Of Studies” as a testament to the culture of education and knowledge. The essay, is not only Bacon’s criticism of sixteenth century scepticism towards objective way of attaining knowledge but also useful to understand some of the academic trends in our times too (Zagorin 379). In the paper, I shall highlight the way  in which Bacon has illustrated the purpose, protocols and impact of studies.

Purposes of Studies
One of the most famous images of English Renaissance literature is of the picture of the title page of Bacon’s Instauratio Magna; it shows the ship of learning sailing back from the straits of Gibraltar traditionally thought to be the limits of knowledge, returning with new ideas an discoveries (Vickers 495). In “Of Studies”, Francis Bacon, in a precise and lucid manner describes the three primary purposes of study. The first one is“Delight”. Bacon states that certain people study for gaining pleasure. They wish to enhance their knowledge so that they can engage in academic studies of interesting ideas.  For example, one may be an accomplished scientist but studies equestrian life as he or she desires to become an expert in horse-riding. The idea supports the popularity of many hobby-courses and art workshops taken up by working professionals whether working in corporate or other fields these days. Such studies are meant for self-advancement, a desire that defines the Renaissance outlook of  Francis Bacon. The second purpose of Study is for “Ornament”: people who wish to come across as educated and refined while in conversation in polite circles may take up studies. They attain knowledge, not to improve upon themselves but to impress others. Bacon’s observation reminds me of Facebook and the erudite conversations on gender-rights, corruption and other such topics that many people take up in social media without being an expert in any of them. The third reason for studying is for enhancing one’s “Ability". The knowledge of subjects enables such people to improve their skills at work and the capacity to take decisions to make work possible. Bacon is here taking about educated professionals, like teachers, engineers, managers who use their education to complete their work successfully.

However, if we all are able to use our education in our jobs then why do we complain about the quality of our work? Often, in colleges, companies who come to recruit students complain that students have technical knowledge but lack  quality. I have been able to trace the answer in “Of Studies”.  Bacon clearly mentions that our academic knowledge can be perfected only by experience and observation. Thus, I have felt the need for an education system which is activity based and enhances the  critical thinking capacities of our mind.
But how should we do that in times when we are almost sinking in the sea of information around us? As a solution, Bacon prescribes, a few protocols.

Protocols of Study
Bacon, through common place metaphors, states that books are like food; Some are to be tasted, that is read in parts, others swallowed, to be read but not curiously and few to be chewed and digested, to be read with diligence and attention. Bacon even elaborates the importance of reading subjects like history which make men wise, poetry which lends wit, mathematics that sharpen our senses, philosophy that give us a moral ground, logic and rhetoric that enhance our ability to analyse and argue. These ideas by Bacon encourage us to devise methods to make our study more focused and impactful. For example, these days we not only learn from books but from the internet, television, radio, social media and cultural events. If we are asked to write assignments on Shakespeare’s Tragedies, we have a number of sources to flood us with information, some of them might not even be correct. If we carefully follow Bacon’s suggestions then we may devise ways to filter the information we receive and use only those that are relevant. Bacon’s ideas are for posterity, as they not only show us ways in which our approach to studies can change but also the impact it has on our lives.

Impact of Study
Abuent Studia in Mores; Studies influence our lives, writes Bacon. He then offers a list of subjects and their impact on our minds. Bacon confidently concludes that, “every defect of the mind may have a special receipt”; just as diseases have medicines, similarly our mental needs can be satisfied by study of appropriate subjects. Such a useful observation by Bacon has made me query about the impact of literature on my life. Many people have asked me, "why literature"? And sometimes, I ask myself. What do you all think? Do you ever ask that question? Well, I am no expert and have simply taken my infant steps in the ever widening world of literature, but I go back to Bacon and understand that literature has given me knowledge beyond the limits of  my academic interest, my  culture and  the possible boundaries that I thought existed in my mind.

Conclusion: Relevance of Bacon
Francis Bacon’s “Of Studies” reminded me of the speech titled, “A Well Educated Mind verses a Well Formed Mind” by Dr SashiTharoor. In the lecture, Tharoor, explained the importance of critical thinking and creative, self-driven approach as a solution to many of the educational problems in the country. Similarly, Bacon proposes, us to constantly reinvent ourselves through studies. In the essay, Bacon highlights the importance of attaining and understating knowledge. In our generation, we use knowledge, to pass exams with excellent marks but does that ensure that we have understood what we studied or that our minds have been shaped by the books we read? We will become graduates in Literature but will that ensure that we shall become nation builders with suitable reading, writing communication and employability skills? 
Few of my queries have been answered by Bacon. The essay has acted like a catalyst to clarify the reasons we take up education or the study of a certain subjects. Bacon’s essay highlights the ultimate need for self-motivation and self-refashioning through studies(Cairncross). It shows that studies are simply not for an educated mind but a mind that strives to pursue excellence in service, character and moral growth.



Works Cited
Cairncross.A.S. Ed.  Eight Essayists.Macmillan. 1937 1st Edition. Print.
Vickers, Brian. “Francis Bacon and the Progress of Knowledge”.Journal of the History of Ideas.Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1992), pp. 495-518. University of Pennsylvania Press.Web.
Zagorin, Perez. “Francis Bacon's Concept of Objectivity and the Idols of the Mind”.The British Journal for the History of Science.Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec., 2001), pp. 379-393.Cambridge University Press.










Thursday, 12 October 2017

Company for some Spook and Science- Report on QLC Meet- 15.9.17.




Finding Our Inner Shell
Q.L.C. decided to explore some diverse genres in English literature in its meet-up on the 15th of September 2017. 

Chandana Deals
With The Last Question
Dr. Sumitra Jaiswal gave a brief introduction about the themes for the day- Gothic, corporate, and science fiction. She talked in particular about Prof. Jayant Narlikar, one of the first Indian writers in the genre of science fiction.

Sumitra Ma'am
 Talking Science Fiction
We began with Viola, Madhuri, Chandana, Meghana and Rakshita, who presented Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question, under the science fiction category. The story deals with the development of a series of computers called Multivac and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061. It tries to answer the question how the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted. In each of these eras someone decides to ask the ultimate "last question" regarding the reversal and decrease of entropy, which is often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system, which only increases over time. The answer is eventually unearthed only after the universe is dead. The story ends on a cliffhanger, challenging the boundaries of both science and theology.


Mahveen's Take on Company
We then proceeded to a world of constant entropy, as presented by Seema and Mahveen in the story Company by Max Barry under the Corporate fiction category. Company is an office-novel, a take on life in the modern American Corporation and on the management fads that influence how they are run. The story is both disturbing and hilarious in parts. The plot-twist leaves one caught off-guard, and raises various ethical questions about the corporate world. 

"That's the thing u learn about values,they are what people make up to justify what they did."

Megha and Team Bringing Ghosts into the Room


This was followed by a skit by Megha, Apoorva, Manisha, SreeLekha, Sumana and Keerthana. They portrayed a hostel room of girls and showed how different people have different perceptions on the existence of supernatural elements. Their performance made it easier to believe that they had brought a ghost into the room, and definitely send some shivers down our spines. 

Krutika Presents No Complaining Rule


Then there was a presentation on Jon Gordon’s  No Complaining Rule by Krutika,Grace and DhanaLakshmi. It dealt with wide-spread negativity at workplaces in the corporate world. The story revolves around a single-parent Vice President of an MNC who struggles with the challenges of her life, and is often pessimistic. The twist comes when Hope decides to stop complaining, and start finding solutions to the problems she is faced with. Then a survey was conducted to find out how many of us were complainers, and surprisingly, I turned out to be one.

Kirti, Rama and Gayatri then came up with a unique skit which seemed to revolve around a girl called Shell. Shell, who appeared to be lost in her own world, was often shown to be struggling with every-day tasks that most girls are adept at. All of her flaws were received with hearty laughter from the members. However the club suddenly turned introspective, when in the climax, Shell is somehow interpreted to be living inside all of us- like she is the one who adds essence the ­shell of our bodies.
The skit, although a little unsettling, made us look at ourselves differently, and allowed us to be more accepting of our own inner “weirdness”.



Navya Looking for an Alternate Ending

 Chetan Bhagat’s One Night @ Call Center was the next text to be tackled under the corporate fiction category. Presented by P. Navya, V. Navya and Meghana, who explored the problems faced by the six protagonists of the novel, the story wanders into the supernatural spectrum, when the characters get "a phone call from god". There followed a discussion on some interesting alternative endings for the plot, while we also analyzed the problems  that the call center workers were depicted to be facing in the book.
Asfiya Introducing
 the Kafkaesque


The next presentation was done by Asfiya, Hari Priya and Juveria on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In true Kafkaesque fashion, it deals with themes like absurdity of life, the disconnect between mind and body, the endurance of the sense of alienation. The presentation also asked us to explore the limits of our own sympathy, when we were asked what our reactions would be if our own family members turn into a "monstrous vermin", like the protagonist of the story, Gregor Samsa. It was also about discovering the true sense of metamorphosis in the novel, which was made all the more interesting by Kafka's cryptic writing style.

Time for Some Spook-
Deeksha, The Ghost.
To wind up, we had a truly spooky performance by Deeksha and Aanshika, who dealt with the legend of the popular horror film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The chilly room, the dimmed lights, and videos of Emily Rose's exorcism playing on the big screen made for a perfect ending for a meeting that had us all down various lanes in the vast world of literature. 

  





Report by K. Meghana.



Sunday, 24 September 2017

Be My Love: A poem based on Alice Walker's The Colour Purple by Supriya Kiran

I again wrote to God about this baffle
May be it seemed to him a trifle.

I lost the hope
Didn’t try to cope.

On one fine day
My eyes met with sparkling eyes
Eyes full of love
Eyes full of care
The moment was freezed
I found my letters answered
The eyes made me realize my worth
Now I no longer accept what is put forth
I realized love was not Albert
Love was ShugShug Avery”
Who made me me live life in my way

She made my life
I made her my wife

Now I carry love in my bones
Light in my smile

Now I’m not silly
Only Celie “happy Celie

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Mirror by Asfiya Khanam


Mirror



It's me here telling you the truth 
Don't try to get people's Ruth ..
You are not what you actually should be 
You show the face which you want the world to see..

Your life is a dream for the people out there 
Life is just a game, be fair 
You try to be the person you compare yourself with
You are playing a role which is a part of your life's skit.. 

Just be the person you are 
Twinkle in your own way, you are a star 
Be yourself , no matter what it takes
You will overcome all your fears and aches..

I have shown the Mirror , it's in front of you 
What you actually are you already knew ...
Listen  to your heart ,what it says 
Show the world your original face ... 

                 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

When Pride Rhymes with Love: Report on Q.L.C. Meet August 2nd, 2017 by Juveria Tabassum



“Love is a marriage of true minds,” said William Shakespeare in one of his many sonnets dedicated to a young man he was in love with. Just like the timeless English playwright, the world of literature has seen many brilliant poets and writers who found love in partners of the same sex, and chose to write about the wondrous sensation of loving another person, with little regard for the gender  of their beloved. 


Sumitra Ma'am Starting the Discussion
The Quills Literary Club explored few such authors and poets with its meeting on the theme, "Homosexuality and Literature". Dr Sumitra Jaiswal  gave a brief history of same-sex love in literature. 
The members then watched an award-winning animated student film, In a Heartbeat, which captures the innocent love between two young boys in the most endearing fashion. The film by Beth David and Esteban Bravo of Ringling College of Art and Design has gone viral on the Internet and has teased widespread discussion on the importance of such depictions of the LGBTQ+ community in mainstream media.

Meghana Shares Her Views on Homosexuality
After the film, Meghana delivered a speech about how homosexuality has always been prevalent in literature even though these texts have not been given the attention they deserved. She touched upon the social taboos around homosexuality and how change needed to start with classroom education that attempted to overcome such regressive thinking.


Ruhina Talking About The Color Purple
Supriya With Some Stirring Spoken Word


The next presentation was by Supriya and Ruhina, who talked about writer Alice Walker’s epistolary novel, The Color Purple. Set in the early 1900s, the novel explores the female African American experience through the life and struggles of its narrator, Celie. This was followed by a moving spoken word poetry performance based on the story by Supriya. It conveyed not just Celie’s pain through her days of abuse and neglect, but also brought forward her euphoria over finding true love in another woman.



Rakshita on Frank O' Hara
We then moved on to a presentation by Viola, Chandana and Rakshita on Frank o’ Hara’s truly delightful poem, Having a Coke With You. The poem talks about how O’ Hara finds the man he loves, to be a far more enchanting muse than admiring great works of art or visiting exotic places, or indulging in philosophical thought and research. O’ Hara’s breathless verse conveys his deep affection for his beloved in lines like,
It is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
Viola's Take on Having a Coke With You
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.’
The poem and the presentation left the club smiling in a weird sense of shared contentment. After all, what can be more captivating than an expression of true love?


Maliha and Avani on How We've Made a Great Mess of Love
D. H. Lawrence’s We’ve Made a Great Mess of Love, is a remark on how the society has contributed to the perversion of love by making “an ideal” out of it. The poem, presented by Maliha and Avani focused the conversation around how the excessive definitions and boundaries that we put around love have broken down its innate purity into something that’s insincere and artificial.




Conversations on Homosexuality- Indian Style
While we deliberated over these thoughts, Soujanya, Gunapriya and Neharika came up with a light-hearted skit that showed a young Indian Millenial attempting to explain the concept of homosexuality to his oblivious mom and his adamantly homophobic dad.
This was followed by a video by Shravya, Swati and Ashmita, 

which was a collection of views and opinions of the students of the college on homosexuality. It was an interesting way to bring the conversation to our own shores. We had Srinidhi set it up for us with her brief speech about homosexuality in ancient India, where we learned how the concepts of gender and sexuality remained fluid in mythologies that maintained every human form to be a natural manifestation of the divine.

Akshara and Group take us Through Love's Great Power
The last presentation was by Akshara, Akhila, Srilekha and Rakshita on Vikram Seth’s Through Love’s Great Power. The poem is a scathing protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling of December, 2013 that overturned a previous amendment to section 377 of the IPC, which criminalizes homosexual love as “sexual activities against the order of nature”. Seth’s powerful verse suggests that it is not love that is an unnatural crime, but the use of power in a way that victimizes an already marginalized group of people, and deprives them of basic human rights.
In the end, as we reflected over the poignant verses that we’d just read, we realized how a discussion on homosexuality somehow ended up being a celebration of love in all its exceptional forms.
Celebrating the Many Colours of Love 

We do not choose who we fall in love with. And love is, beyond everything, an intimate, inexplicable connection between two minds and souls. Criminalizing or fearing homosexuality or any other expression of a person’s love, is merely an expression of ignorance. Maybe it’s time we stop branding each other with labels that dehumanize our true, natural feelings and let love run its own course.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Blurred by the Silver Screen- A Story by Meghana





Ridima was a normal girl her life took a great turn when she was selected at the auditions for a popular T.V. show. She got the part of the main lead, and was much praised for her performances. She was a dedicated actor and did all she could to make her career as part of the industry. As the months passed, she was soon well-recognized among her peers, and also much loved by her fans. She soon reached the pinnacle of success, when she won a national award for her brilliance.

This accomplishment made Ridima feel really proud of herself. The success got to her head and soon she started believing herself to be better than the rest of the artists she was working with.
At the shoot one day, she overheard some of her crew talking about her rudeness. This made her really angry and started yelling at them. The director was so upset at her behavior that he told her he won’t be working with her anymore, and would sign a better actress. 
Ridima was dumbstruck by his words. She went home sobbing and her mind went blank. As soon as she reached home she removed all the false lashes, the wig and makeup and stared at the mirror. All she could see was a pale girl who had lost herself to the world. She didn't know what she was doing as she stood there staring at herself the whole night. She felt broken and insecure.
The image that she had built of herself crashed around her ears. She realized that her success was attributed not just to her talent and good looks, but also to the efforts of everyone around her. She felt crestfallen and ashamed of her behavior, and vowed to treat people who work with and for her with the respect they deserved.
She also realized that she couldn’t run away from herself for the fear of others. She could comprehend the importance of a self-love that could honestly let her evaluate and improve her not just as an actor, but also as a human being. She decided to appreciate constructive criticism from her co-workers instead of discarding their words simply because she thought them to be jealous of her ability.
She went back and apologized to her director and all the other members of the cast and crew. Once they understood and forgave her, she once again gave her acting her full attention and this time, she was appreciated not only for being a talented artist, but also for being a wonderful person.
Together We Stay Afloat