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The Hand of God: From Waves To Woes

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By Shruthi Venukumar:

I am no stranger to miracles. Nor have they ever seemed strange to me. Not the day the slight drizzle swelled into a downpour the precise moment I stepped under the protective shield of my house, as if it had been waiting for me to be out of its way. Not when the microphone had fallen flat in its duty to amplify my voice and thus brought the naturally deep husky quality of my voice to the notice of the organisers of the elocution contest. They handed me an offer for the Sunday sermon job moments later. Not when the five year old me had fallen into the steel bucket immersed with the heating rod and was rescued by the half-blind nanny of my childhood playmate. She was amazingly sure-armed that day for a woman who had battled a bout of arthritic malice the previous night.

As a child born to believers in faith, it was not unnatural for me to follow in the laid footsteps with hands joined in supplication. Contrary to popular contention, my indulgence in science in the later years only built solid storeys upon this faith. Einstein’s words “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” resonated in my being like a talisman. Both the scientific community and the plaza of laymen believe that everything began with the Big Bang. But what set the ball rolling? Who scooped so much energy and matter into the hot snowball that formed the kernels in our Universe? We might never explore the full expanse of the Universe. Does it have framework limits? If yes, where lies the doorstep, and where lies the backyard? What lies beyond the haven? Heaven and hell will remain more than just fairytale fantasies or mythical mentions till the time these questions unfold before us on a notepad bound by strands of logic. Indeed, the unanswered, seemingly untouchable questions shaped my reverence for the Almighty.

My first generation Delhiite status is rooted in the late 1970s, when my father came to Delhi as a UPSC aspirant. In the Lord Krishna temple foregrounded in the back waters of Kerala, my grandmother and aunts had beseeched for divine guiding light for the path that lay ahead for their lad of twenty something, unintroduced to the world outside barriered by the gorges of language and culture. In the dark boarding hour, at the train station, there stood on the platform a man in his early thirties, forming with a companion a revolving human fence around some luggage. The man happened to be a long forgotten acquaintance. His accompaniment was his brother-in-law who was also on the list to traverse the great South to North journey. Unlike the lanky young man my father was back then, this man was settled, anchored in the Capital. The seat numbers on their tickets brought to them a chill, a refreshing one that succeeds anxiety and precedes calmed nerves. Ever since, the odd occurrence of 11 and 13 together in any manner has brought a smile to dad’s face. It has been more than three decades in the roundabouts of Delhi for dad now. Yet, that contact made in his prime, clinched by the prime numbered train seats, remains our closest circle of camaraderie.

Oftentimes, God set the groundwork for miracles in the offing, much in advance. Such was the clockwork precision, that when the miracle did play out, it appeared but a fitting cog in the scheme of things. Much like parents do, God corrected faults of mine, in time, with subtle reprimands. Hours before a solo classical singing performance, I was caught crooning a fast number.
“Concentrate on the song to be sung,” said my dad.

“I’m on a break. Will singing this make me forget the solo?” I had thrown back.

In the tiny hall with an assembly line audience, my clutch on the microphone was slipping on the perspiration. The lyrics rang in my head. The tune eluded me. I had blacked out on a song that had been on my tongue since my sixth year. The lesson was simple – to give nothing less than single-minded devotion to the task at hand. My endeavour has remained, ever since, to apply that lesson received a leaf away from the classroom in everything that demands the investment of heard work and the heart. I fear, had it not been for that slight in my tweens, greater disasters would have struck later on.

If checks came in frequently, there came balance in the form of overwhelming encouragement.

“It is very difficult to change this world armed just with the idealism of youth. Moral corruption has no inoculation,” I ranted in my fortnightly speech at the discursive space in college. The country was athwart with scams and scandals that could not be brought down with a few sandals thrown at the debauchery-mongers. “God save the country.” I shook my head. Later that evening, I stood with dad next to our new car.

“It has an inbuilt stereo system. Get a CD from the rack. Let’s check it out,” dad said. I walked in, absent-minded. Not a gizmo-aficionado I am. I pulled the glass doors to the CD rack apart and yanked out a CD by its plastic cover edge. Crooning a blockbusting number, I waltzed to the car.

“Put it in,” said dad.

A button was pushed, a rack was ejected. In went the CD, like any other. The response was loyally prompt, like that of any other CD. The awe elicited was unlike any other feeling. There in the snug tight ambiance of the car, wafted the soothing beats of our favorite song on Lord Krishna. The hundred an eighth song on the MP3 on shuffle mode, ringing out from a random pick out of three hundred CDs strewn on a teenager’s shelf rack! My pause froze goosebumps on my skin when, in the faint sepia glow from above, seemed to crawl out of a divine blue glass frame onto the dashboard, a toddler Krishna, cherubic and playful. If an electronic equipment with no master other than science has danced to the tunes of commands from above, what are human grievances arising from volatile indeterminate actions?

Any rational mind could clarify the occurrence with a perfectly logical explanation. After all, some song or the other has to sound out of a player on shuffle. The phenomenon does not seem all that dizzy if the tune is thought of as just another melody on the multi-melody churner. And that, I think is from where the debate derives its dichotomy. A turnaround recovery from broken to perfectly psyches, a mind that can conceive the depth of the ocean and express it with the use of limited alphabets, six billion individualities, distinct enough for the courts to decide that replication of thought written in the same succession of words is plagiarism … for a race that has come to refute the probability of coincidences, is it not too much of a coincidence that the grind continues day after day, seemingly without wands commanded by visible hands? God is that supreme force that we cannot fathom.

Going against the vagaries of oppressive religious precincts is no doubt inevitable for social change. But logic commands us to tread with caution when hanging religion and God on the same peg.

You must be to comment.
  1. Soumit Saha

    such a well written article.. the topic I could’nt say the same but writing style is amazing the vivid details are just enthralling at times… Would love to see more pieces from shruthi..

    1. Shruthi_venukumar

      Hey Soumit! Thank you so much for the review. Encouragement is what keeps me going. You can find more of my work by typing in my name in the Youth Ki Awaaz search slot if you wish. 🙂

      Once again, thank you very much for your words. So long then.

  2. Nehamb10

    Discreetly delivered.
    I remember asking you if you believe in astrology and you had defied it saying you need Scientific validation.
    The personal experiences add to the unique message of the article.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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