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Prologue: On The Ninth Cloud

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Lewitt Somarajan the author of “On the Ninth Cloud” and a Special Correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz gives us a prologue of his book.

“On the Ninth Cloud, learn what the purpose behind every reason is, thus learn the reason behind the very purpose to be served”.

And he woke up with a similar pain in his head after having such a dream, for years now. But today was special, as, it was his birthday: his 18th one. From childhood, he was gifted in his own way -he possessed a highly evolved spirit; He could feel the sufferings of others as well as appreciate the wonders of mystic life; He could differentiate between the permanent & transient in life & knew well, it is love which feeds the soul of mankind & gives that much coveted ultimate peace, not the materialistic possessions.

He thought about the dream he had, for a while & then closed his eyes to account some of the moments of last date with his love… his beloved whom he used to call ‘angel’.

His life took a turn around, the day he met his angel. It was some evening, 11 months before, while he was walking through a lawn, completely frustrated &hating self for his soul was not in peace with the universe. Introspecting & asking his inner world: what love is? Why do we love? How to attain success which could be held, forever? Suddenly, a feminine voice called him from behind & he saw her for the first time! 11 months later, still he often thinks what life it would have been; if that day he wouldn’t have met her…his beloved…his angel.

For him, the past 11 months was infinity in itself for he could see his own being in every entity of this universe: He could contemplate the silence within to realize, love is the only divine feeling which separates humanity from animality: He could speak the language of the universe where words are a mere formality: the beauty which could be felt, but not expressed: All this & more he learned to experience only because he could love his beloved… his angel beyond all universal senses.

This birthday was special, as, he was not going to be alone. He merely had a few good friends: rest of them thought, he was insane.

Today, he invited all his best friends to be with him & his angel. He never introduced her to his friends in the past 11 months but his friends had certainly noticed some changes in him, in the recent past. The way he used to approach even the small intricacies of life changed & his friends were very happy about it, though they never had an idea that these changes of seasons in his life was brought about by a girl with whom he had fallen madly in love. On his 18th birthday, he wanted to give all his friends a huge surprise, but knew not, life is going to spring the biggest surprise on him. At least not till, he became 21!!!

Door bell rang & he opened the door to greet his dear guests.

‘Happy Birthday’ said his friend & handed over to him a huge bouquet.

One by one all his friends followed: some gave him tight hug, some gave him birthday kiss & some gave him even birthday bombs. Never was he so happy all these years & wished he could freeze this moment for ever…They started partying, dancing, playing songs but all the time he was keeping an eye on the door to greet his beloved…his angel.

‘She never used to be late’ thought he.

Side by side his friends were constantly forcing him to unveil the suspense.

But he said -‘wait till the grace to embrace this hour’.

At last she came!!! Dressed in a gorgeous black silk gown; her hair flowing like a river on her shoulders; with her elegant smile as if embracing the whole atmosphere- she walked towards him & gave a passionate kiss making that moment for him feel like an eternity.

When he turned to introduce her to all his friends; he felt like everybody, blinded by the heavenly grace & beauty of his beloved, is paying a mute respect to her. But the reason for their silence was quiet different.

Finally he raised a toast in the honor of his beloved…his angel & said:-

‘My dear friends…… Today I know that love is most beautiful feeling which is beyond the heights of heaven, deeper than the depths of ocean & stranger than the dimensions of time: Love is the only eternal fire which purifies the spirit from greed, lust, anger & ego & elevates the human spirit above the never ending shackles of life & death: In this hour, love blessed me in the form of my beloved angel so that I could carry the flame of love & pass on the wisdom of love to our children who itself will be the symbol of our divine & true love’.

He heard the clapping of his friends surrounding him & felt as if everyone is dancing to the tunes of his heart strings, driven by the passion of love.

He then knelt down on his left leg; took her hand in his & said in a calm voice -“Everyday often I used to ask the reason for my being, what I am seeking for…But now I know it was for you dear; I am living, I was living & I will live…So that I can cherish each & every moment like a wind, like a river & like the sunrays; So that I can feel the infinity through you, not knowing the destiny: Whatever form the fate will take, doesn’t matter, as our love is mystic; having the beauty to give that epiphany of the ultimate peace; Coloring even the faintness; bridging even the unknowns; Realizing which I could hold forever”:

“I LOVE YOU DEAR… YOU ARE MY ANGEL…THE REASON AS WELL AS THE PURPOSE OF MY EXISTENCE”

He remembers not anything what happened next.

It was like a long, deep slumber where forgetting all worldly worries, he was in the arms of his soul mate; His soul was in complete harmony with his beloved, as slumber restored the happy phantoms of hope & desire; His heart was ferrying in the serene ocean of love, where his dreams acted as a shield to protect him from the harsh realities of practicality: He knew not what life lay in store for him when he is going to face this callous world, otherwise he would have surrendered himself to that sweet slumber till eternity…

When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a mental asylum; He was told by his friends & doctors that he is Schizophrenic!!! At his birthday party, there was a deep silence among his friends when he was proposing to his beloved, as they could not see anyone to whom he is proposing!!! One of his friends, a psychiatrist, became so worried by his state that he took him to a mental asylum to diagnose what is wrong with him. There, the doctors after detailed check-up & consultancy came to a conclusion that he is suffering from schizophrenia…a kind of mental disorder whose symptoms include inappropriate actions & feelings & withdrawal from reality into fantasy.

There was no angel!!! His beloved… his angel was in his fantasy world “On the Ninth Cloud” which he manifested to escape the real world where he is devoid of love; where he could feel only the silence of darkness; where destiny chose him to suffer because of being neglected by his own youth; where he found no happiness how hard he tried to & at last he learned to be-friend his own solitude. This inferiority complex in him gave birth to “On the Ninth Cloud”, a hypothetical world where he was free to love; to be loved; to express his desires; his thoughts; to live with his contradictions & to quench his own soul with peace.

‘Your inability to overcome your own prejudices resulted in the manifestation of a fantasy world, where you found the much needed solace in the form of your angel.’ doctor concluded, after one month of close diagnosis.

‘But doctor…I can still feel her… I can still feel how she used to caress me, as if I were her kid; I can still feel her unconditional love, which took me towards that ultimate peace; I can still feel the warmth of her breath wherein I am unleashed & be one with the force; I can still feel that unsaid assurance she used to infuse in me every time our soul merged into each other’ said he.

His eyes filled with the tears of helplessness before the stillness of great force & he continued, “though my beloved is not with me, she is always with me; in my thought; in my actions: Destiny cannot separate us like this, for, my love for her is the absolute truth in itself.”

Doctor handed over to him a prescription & said, “Take these medicines regularly & try to keep your-self busy.”

Then the doctor gave him a tight hug & whispered in his ears in a fatherly tone, “Son!! More you will try to make the things complex around you, more you will find entangled in life’s web of complexities.”

“Forget everything what has happened, & try to seek happiness & satisfaction in each & every moment of life.”

“Always remember, life will neither give you more nor less than what you truly deserves.”

And he left the asylum, while his heart was drinking happiness & sorrow at the same time from the cup of life.

Three years passed by. The only time he used to go outside was in the evening, to take a walk through the lush green lawn, where he first met his angel; yearning that life will once again bless him with his beloved.

He never met his angel again, but his love for her increased day by day until it became a kind of mute worship. He spent his days hoping against hope to meet her & his nights in a spiritual quest of love through the simplicity of life. Though his mind said, ‘she is just a hallucination’ deep within his heart, he knew one day his angel would come & her grace would embrace his soul again.

On his 21st birthday, while he was taking a walk through the lawns, he met her again!!! She took him in her arms & they both cried; passionately kissing each other. Then she said, “Oh! Dear, science may call our love a delusion but you & I know the truth; the eternal truth that we are one:”

“Write my love ‘On the Ninth Cloud’ to let the world know: – love is the sole purpose behind every reason that exists & nurturing that love is the reason behind the very purpose to be served in life”

“But, I am not a writer”, said he.

And she said smilingly, “You have already written it, dear. You just have to fill those thoughts with the ink so that the followers of love may embrace it in their hearts forever.”

The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also the author of “On the Ninth Cloud.”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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