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My Idea of Romance

By Sadho:

The word — Romance, regardless of the magnitude it carries in its meaning, is but a much underrated word. It though continues to flourish today, but its reach as well as its breeding is limited. Its usage in terms of the way people use it, is barricaded to emotional love between the two human species — male and female. But Romance is not limited to just between these two flesh and bone subjects. As such, as it never should have been, but shockingly it has, either forcibly or deceptively. Today, when I look around, I see no Romance. Oh, leave romance; I see not even a tint of it.

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There is this other thing called self gratification prevailing all around the Globe in a manner and speed, which is beyond any earthly comparisons. People, in their desire (which too, get born by /from observing the activity of other people) to be different in a manner they think that will make them attain uniqueness, are but becoming impostors.

To explain my above statement, I will request you to consider, for instance, the “Save Tiger Campaign” (in India) by several media houses and corporate organizations. Whatever has been done has only been done on papers and screens only. That too, without any, and I can say this much that with Zero concrete outcome. TEHELKA’s Chilling Exposé is the blatant proof!

As “Save something campaigns” have become fashion statements these days, people pick one depending on their choice/life-style, as they pick clothes, and then make some noise. What happens after that, no one gives a damn! Whether that “something” lived, died or whatever is of no concern for anyone. Because what matters for them is the visibility of their campaign, the self gratifying pleasure that they squeeze from it. Not the authenticity or the purpose for which that particular campaign was initiated.

And I’m not generalizing everyone in this generalized statement. I understand what certain people — the artistic kinds and few other tribes; feel or might feel about issues and factors affecting and plaguing our society, and I’m in very much in awe towards this nature of theirs and carry tremendous amount of respect for them in my heart. But that is not the point here, the point is, people today are applying the “herd mentality” everywhere they can or want to, and in everything. And this is very dangerous, because, while they are at it, they are at the same time also not aware of their selves being at it. It’s like sleep-walking. You are walking, but you do not know you are indeed walking, because you are not awake, therefore, not aware.

You don’t start or initiate a campaign just because your neighbor did and got famous. You ought to have something concrete to do so, something valid. Something which gives you not just the self gratification, but the purpose of fulfillment because of the initiative and the steps taken in regards of it. You ought to have the gut to fight it out, even if it demands your blood. Yes, blood!

I know all this sounds too ridiculously romantic but then that is the purpose of it, that you make love — Romance — to it. As this is the way you make love to something or someone. To speak in the tone you would understand — it is something that when you feel about someone in a very emotional manner. Say, for the most simple example, if you are a man and feel for a woman, and are willing or are determined to do anything that circumstances or in circumstances she might demand you to do, and you will do it, without much consideration of the outcome that your action might have on you or on your life personally. Because you know, if not for her, your life has no other purpose or meaning. Because you have given away yourself to that cause which is her. Because you realize she is your purpose or campaign, which you must save, because you initiated it, and now she is your duty above everything and everyone else.

So, when you feel about some issue affecting a certain section of society, you ought to have that romantic attitude you are supposed to have when you are in love with a woman as a man or towards a man as a woman or in similar sex and are willing to do absolutely anything for your partner’s sake.

And this is my idea of romance, where I attain ultimate freedom only when I give myself completely to the cause which I have chosen. And it does not necessarily need to be a social one, nor does it need to be for the betterment of humanity or any such kind. My cause can perfectly be me. I can be my cause and dedicate myself towards it. As for me, life is too small to live for others, I live it for myself. I do not help anyone. I do not intend to do so. Although certain people, at certain time, may have or might benefit from my actions. But that’s purely non-intentional and also completely coincidental.

When speaking about the ‘whole’, I understand the limitations that a certain major section of it has, carries, or builds. But that’s precisely what’s it’s all about that all those limitations are but the creation of their mind, their own self. As my friend, Mrinal, phrased it up perfectly — “The defined capacity, the sphere of life beyond which they can’t tread.

So, WHO defines the capacity but, the sphere of life beyond which they can’t tread?

Well, it’s the same person, who wants to support the cause or dedicate his or her life towards it. And if that person starts freeing himself or herself rather than restricting or limiting himself or herself with preconceived notions, conventional rules and regulations and boundaries then there would actually be no “defined capacity, the sphere of life beyond which he or she can’t tread“.

Consider this little analogy; a man is like a lion. A wild one. Angry yet calm! But at the same time restless too. He walks as if he rules the land beneath and he looks at the sky as if he is acknowledging the fact. As he should, indeed! The entire earth is his forest; he roars and with it thunders the entire vicinity, he hunts and hunts like a king ought to do — with ferocious wildness! But he does all this, while he is free. Once he is caged, behind the iron bars, for the entertainment of mass, in the name of hypocrisy born from the mass’s own greed, he is no more than a motor-operated toy. He is not there, inside that cage with his own wish or choice, but is there, forced, by outer forces. And so, he now awaits the two moments, the first of his approaching last breath and the second of reproaching hope of his freedom before his death, because he is unable to do anything else. But man isn’t, he though resembles the lion, but is above him in something a lion can never have — mental superiority and the ability of rational clarity which comes from within but is realized by endurance of years and years of desire to have what he wants, what he deserves and what belongs to him — his self. His own self, or to say in simple manner — freedom. Because, no life, without a cause or purpose, irrespective of its nature, can ever attain the freedom which belongs to it and for which it longs.

Life, without it — cause or purpose, is exactly like that caged lion, who knows that freedom of wild is what he deserves but he will never have it, until he frees himself from the cage. In the similar manner, you might know what you want or deserve, but will never have it, till you make yourself wholly committed to it.

So, in my idea of Romance, if someone is voicing his or her opinion on a certain issue, say for example, the disgusting whiff coming from the gutter, it does not necessarily mean that he or she have to go literally down under the gutter to clean it. He or she can implement/execute means via his or her opinion to do so. But he or she has to be completely romantic towards it i.e. truly committed at voicing it out till it’s finally heard and done by the concerned parties/agencies/department undertaking the particular job.

In romance, what matters is that when you feel about it or for it, you be true to it, in whatever form that you find yourself drawn to it. Like for some men, when they are in love with the woman they dream about, all that matters to them is that they keep looking in her eyes. Nothing else matters. In the similar manner, if one is romantic about voicing just his or her opinion, one should just do it. And keep doing it. Continually. Voice it out. Simple. Straight. Voice. Voice. Voice and voice. Because for that person, voicing out his or her opinion, in the idea of romance, this is what will define it and the true purpose of it. That he or she be true to himself or herself and the path that he or she chose. And did not just pick it up, because the passerby was doing it or for better excuse, oh, my neighbor or the person I admire is speaking for it.

And it doesn’t matter that people or organisation and governments will listen to you or there will be some concrete actions be taken upon your voicing out your opinion on the issue, however valid. But what matters and what actually should only matter is that no person, organisation or government can tell you to shut up and sit down. Because you know what you are doing and why you are doing. Because you know you are right and you have a right to voice your ‘voice’ till the time you are being true to your purpose. But, whatever you do, whatever you may oppose or support, whatever means you may take for the cause, the purpose, or your romance, should never be at the expense of other people’s life.

And that is My Idea Of Romance!

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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

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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