The Last Stretch


“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year


Just as Week 35 of my pregnancy began, I woke up that weekend to an attack of  horrible itchy rash on my pregnant body. The angry rash spread all over without mercy. I went to my doctor during the week, who put me on antihistamine and ordered some blood tests. When I asked her about relief from the itching, she said perhaps I could try cold water or ice? She sent me home with an appointment to see her the next week.

Those two weeks were the worst thing I have experienced. I couldn’t sleep, because I would wake up in the middle of the night to terrible itching, and sit for hours with ice packs over my raw skin, because nothing else helped. The antihistamine did not work, even though it came to a point where I was taking three tablets a day. I tried aloe vera gel, oatmeal baths, oatmeal paste, none of which worked for beyond a couple of hours. I’ve never missed calamine lotion more in my life. In the summer, I was cold and shivering most of the time, from ice packs and cold showers. This went on for about ten days till I found myself sitting on my couch one morning, applying another ice pack and crying. If I couldn’t deal with this, how was I going to deal with labour and motherhood?

The finishing line
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Continue reading “The Last Stretch”

5 Stressful Things To Avoid While Pregnant


“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” 

― David Mamet


A stressed woman holding a cup with red frown
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1. House hunting in Oslo

It all started with an innocuous little idea of wanting more space when the baby comes. Much as I did not enjoy the idea of having to, once again, in little over a year, shove all my belongings into boxes and move them one by one to another place, which will be my baby’s first home, this should’ve been easy and simple, right? Turns out not so much, not when you live in Oslo.

The rental market in Oslo is awful, and I’m sure I’m putting it mildly. C’mon Oslo, I was willing to put you on the top of my list of favourite places. I was willing to dethrone North Wales for you. Okay, we both know the probability of that happening is rather slim. But still,  you can’t give me a home without putting me through the wringer? You are beautiful and lovely, but when it comes to renting flats, you have a lot to learn from London.

And for god’s sake, when you have so much space, trust me you do, put a second bathroom in your flats and houses already. Don’t look at me as though I’m fussy. I’m not. Oh yes, everything is expensive here. But I want value for my money, and good quality doesn’t have to cost a limb and a leg. And give me a break, will you? I’m trying to have a baby here.

Continue reading “5 Stressful Things To Avoid While Pregnant”

13th Week of Pregnancy – Graves to Hello


“You are the closest I will ever come to magic.” 

― Suzanne Finnamore


image of a baby's hand on its parents' hands
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Tuesday

When I went to the GP for the first time after I found out I’m pregnant, she did some blood tests. The results showed that I might have a problem with my thyroid. So she referred me to an Endocrinologist, who ordered another round of complete blood work. They took so many blood samples, when they were done and they placed all the tubes with my blood on a holder, it looked like a Ferris wheel! I went to see the Endocrinologist on Tuesday to get the results.

She walked me through it and she was clear about the diagnosis: I have Graves’ Disease.

Continue reading “13th Week of Pregnancy – Graves to Hello”

Let’s Take Responsibility For That

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.” 

― Anaïs Nin

Image of a child holding a globe
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How did we get here

Become a society where

We know what we do is wrong

We do it anyway

We think that’s okay

As long as we don’t get caught

We complain of the watching Big Brother

Yet, we behave as if

Being watched is the only thing that

Keeps most us in check

 

Or we do the watching

Drawing some perverse pleasure in

Using others’ suffering

To feed our agenda

Make our point

Everything becomes about

“Just me and what I want to say”

Forgetting others’ troubles and pain

Trying to understand is too much effort?

 

The blame game

We’ve learnt to play so well

We shrug and claim

I didn’t do it

We point fingers at

The government

The media

Even our corner shop grocer

Everyone but ourselves

How do any of them exist

Without our support?

I’m looking at the (hu)man in the mirror, sang Michael

It’s up to us to make a change

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

We fight over

Causes misunderstood

We standby and watch

Starving children

Tiny palms scoop up diseased water

The only thing to keep them alive

Education a distant dream

Staying alive takes all their energy

When we don’t speak up

When we ignore and turn away

A conscious choice we make

To deny their fundamental right to live

With freedom, without fear

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

We hide behind glowing screens

Take false courage from being unseen

We hurl cruel words at each other

We think we don’t know them

Why care for the feelings of strangers

But not for a moment do our thoughts go

To the lives we burn

The irreparable damage we cause to bright young lives

Is consideration such a rare thing today

That we must remind ourselves

To be just a little human each day

When we post derogatory words

Threaten people for thinking different from us

A conscious choice we make

To spread prejudice

To pump more strife into our troubled world

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

A woman is abused

We hear in the news

We question her character

We judge her views

A woman is raped

We ask what she wore

Where was she when it happened

Wonder if it was her fault

We say we live in the 21st century

Yet our attitudes towards women are

Conflicted at best

Goddesses to be worshipped

Mindless virgins to be protected

Sluts to be slammed

Is any middle ground so difficult to imagine

When we get on our high horses

And victimise the victim

A conscious choice we make

To allow the aggressor

A free rein to continue his abuse

When he disrespects and objectifies women

We pat his back and say “we approve”

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

A loved one steals

A friend commits fraud

To buy a second or third house in an exotic locale

We say we aren’t committing the crime

Why not reap the benefits of someone else’s “daring deed”

We think we beat the system

We smile in smug  satisfaction

We ignore the people we harm

We deprived someone of their hard earned pension

A heart-broken father lost all his money overnight

He cannot afford to send his child to college

A single mother whose investments have disappeared

She doesn’t know how to keep a roof over her children’s heads

When we turn a blind eye

A conscious choice we make

To be as guilty and involved as the getaway car

To take from the innocent and feed the greedy rich

To let their “system”  make you the Grinch

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

The propaganda our governments feed

Killing thousands of innocent people in another country

They justify it with

We are better

We are bigger

We are threatened

And everything else under the sun

When we do not pause to think it through

Use our smart brains to know the truths

When we blindly accept what we are fed

Fill our heads with false pride and so called national interest

When we do not question their motives

Let them abuse power for their selfish dreams

A conscious choice we make

To let those power hungry people

Put human beings in a cage

Commit genocide and mass murder

And show the world a concocted image

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

When we make assumptions

We react with fear or contempt

All we see are

Gender,

Colour of skin,

Economic status, and

Faith

A conscious choice we make

To spread hate

To embrace the dark and shun the light

To not dig deeper for our true loving Self

Let’s take responsibility for that

 

When someone questions what we do

We say “They are doing it too”

Is that all it takes

To make us forget what we know to be true

Why the need to ape

Why bother about what others do and say

We cannot control how they see us

Let’s just  focus on what we do

What matters is the choices WE make

Let’s take responsibility for that.

— Srividya K

 

What do you think? Are we being responsible enough? How can we change things?  Share in the Comments.

18 Reasons #YesAllWomen Must Keep Going

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” 
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Someone online wrote that #YesAllWomen is dying out because “people are running out of creative stories to tell in support of it”. Well, here are 18 reasons why #YesAllWomen must keep going.

Image that says thinks women as people
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1. Because when I was in college, two men on a motorbike thought it would be fun to race past me really close when I was riding a scooter. They hit my scooter, and it and I went skidding across a busy bridge. I had a broken ankle, several bloody wounds, and was just lucky not to be run over by another vehicle approaching behind me. When people found out, this is what they had to say:

‘You came back late to the hostel the previous night. Those men must have followed you. That’s why the accident happened.’

‘Where were you going? To a play rehearsal? Girls from good families don’t act in plays.’

‘Why were you out in the first place? You should have just stayed in your hostel and studied like a “good girl”.’

It took me six months to walk normally again. The scars from the wounds are still visible on my arms and legs. If not for the helmet I always wore, my jaw and head would have been smashed  – my helmet got several dents from my fall. There was no police report and they were never caught, because no one noticed them. No, it was no accident. They tried to run me off the road because it was fun for them to intimidate a woman. And no, none of it was my fault.

2. Because no woman deserves to live in fear or die because she uses her right to say no.

3. Because the other day I was watching Sherlock Holmes on BBC and a woman was the “fetcher”. She fetches files, stands by looking pretty in a business suit and fetches the coat for the man. Why are women always the “fetcher” in most media representations? She fetches food, she fetches clothes, she fetches papers, her only role to serve others. What’s worse is that it’s so common, we hardly notice it or take offence to it. I’m sick of it. Aren’t you?

4. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a celebrity or an ordinary person, what race you belong to, what’s the colour of your skin, whether or not you are “pretty”, what clothes you wear or which country you live in, if you are a woman, you have experienced harassment or abuse in some form. What does that say about the world we live in?

Proof: When Kate Middleton’s skirt flies up because of the wind, the paparazzi, waiting like vultures, snap a photo of her bare bottom, and sell the picture. Magazines print it “because people want to see it and it sells”.  So how is this different from porn?  It’s just as exploitative. Selling parts of a woman’s body as if that’s all she is – a sum of parts with nothing more to her. And some woman actually wrote an article online, suggesting Kate Middleton should change her wardrobe choices so this doesn’t happen again! Blaming the woman’s clothes for opportunistic, soulless people taking advantage of her vulnerable situation – sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it? And she is the wife of the future King of a not so insignificant country.  #YesAllWomen.

5. Because every woman is constantly compared to other women in magazines, in video games, in films, on TV, in ads, and every form of media, as though the only way we can prove our worth is if we are better than someone else. We are enough as we are and we don’t need anybody’s permission to be so. We are in no way obliged to meet the standards set by a male-centric society.

6. Because advertisers spend billions every year to tell us what to think and how, and more often than not, they tell us to think of women as sexual objects.

7. Because people keep saying in a matter-of-fact way that it’s difficult to be a woman in this world, because women have to live in fear of being abused, harassed, raped or killed. How can you be calm when you say that, instead of fighting it? That’s just not acceptable.

8. Because when people know a woman suffering in an abusive relationship, they ask her why she’s still in the relationship. But when they know a man who abuses a woman, why don’t they tell the man to stop abusing?

9. Because when a woman says no, it’s not a negotiation or “playing hard to get”.

10. Because misogyny is so well hidden in our society that even men, who normally consider themselves liberal and would not just watch a woman being ill-treated, don’t always understand how and why some of their actions are a result of misogyny.

11. Because even women themselves don’t realise that when they are bringing up a son, they need to teach him to respect women, treat women as equals, and not look at them as the “inferior or weaker” sex.

12. Because even today when parents have a boy and a girl, they tell the boy not to play with dolls or take interest in “girly” things, like dance, arts or cooking, while they tell the girl to “stop climbing trees and behave like a girl”.

13. Because women are expected to learn to cook, take care of the house and take their husband’s name when they get married. How many men learn to cook because they are about to get married? Because it’s the woman’s job to make sure her family eats healthy food? Because men aren’t smart enough to learn or care about health? Men are never even asked about taking their wife’s name after marriage. Women aren’t sheep to be owned or herded.

14. Because the arguments against abortion are invariably made by men who want to control women’s bodies and paint women as a “child killer”. I read a news story where a 10-year old girl in Senegal was raped and forced to give birth to a set of twins as a result of the rape. When asked what she wanted, she said she wanted the man who raped her to be killed; because  of him, she can’t go to school anymore. Her innocence was killed and nothing was done to help her because of Senegal’s anti-abortion laws.

15. Because when the female half of the world population has to live in fear of the male half, even though they came wailing from the female half, it’s just sad.

16. Because it’s true #NotAllMen are abusers or rapists. We need men to openly declare that they truly believe that all women deserve respect. We need men to become more aware and speak up for all the women. This is not an issue we can afford to be divided on. A woman does not have to be related to you for you to care whether or not she is treated with respect. In fact, when men stand up to their fellow men and tell them to stop abusing women, that sets a powerful example. #YesAllWomen is a call to action to all those men who do care and respect women.

17. Because the point of #YesAllWomen is that we want a world where women are not abused anymore and don’t have to be afraid when they walk down the road alone, a world where women can live without fear. Too many people are dying waiting for that day and we are tired of it. We can’t wait any longer.

18. Because equal respect, equal rights, equal worth and equal share of this world is not a privilege. It’s a right. It’s a right every woman deserves. It’s a right every person deserves.

So to all those people who don’t take this seriously, who make jokes about this, who feel threatened by this, who want this “to stop already” – go on, fix these issues, then we’ll stop.  #YesAllWomen