Tag Archives: silence

Things You Hear In Silence

When I came across this performance a few years ago, I was moved to tears. I knew even then that it had lessons for me that I was not yet ready for and would need to keep returning to, to embrace them.

Some time ago, I incorporated this idea into one of my performances myself. It gave me so much emotionally and in my understanding of the art of performance and of living.

Recently, the difference between thoughts and emotions have been occupying a lot of my mindspace. What constitutes intimacy? How do I justify feeling this for person 1 and that for person 2? What is one to do when logical thinking tells us that wrongness has to be ascribed to a person or a relationship? Are those feelings to be cancelled and if so, how?

I went back to the original experiment, inside my own mind-theatre. I imagined myself sitting, the way Marina is as a crowd of people pass in front of me, each staying for a minute in silence with me. I know now that I am quite capable of spending an entire minute with a stranger in silence because I’ve done two minutes of it on stage with a roomful of people I couldn’t see, some of whom wished me harm.

It got complex when I imagined the people I knew. People who came up in my mind were past lovers, former friends, family members. I started crying when I thought of one person. Crying because there were such complex and conflicting emotions and I know (have always known) they experience the same. I realised the world was never going to understand all the things that happened between us, labels did not adequately encompass it. I have not forgiven their actions because forgiveness is too simplistic a term – I know their reasons, they know mine, we both wrote the story that was us, what is there to forgive? I was able to just stay in that feeling and then pass to the next in time (like Marina did with Ulay).

Then I thought of another person. This one was never that important to me. They did something malicious to me once and I’ve never liked them since. What they did won’t be considered that evil by most, yet it profoundly hurt me because it hit on one of my early traumas. Each time I’ve seen them after that, I’ve felt a gut reaction, my stomach contracting, my face clenching. I know their reasons for doing what they did (not justification). I’ve spent a lot of time telling myself I’m wrong for having such a disproportionate reaction, trying to tidy it up. It is a lot of effort. And even inside my own mind theatre, this experiment doesn’t allow you any of the masks of words or lies. I knew if I actually had to do this in real life, I’d either throw up or run away, no control over my limbs. If somehow I was forced to stay in that chair (maybe restraints, physical or my own stubborn will), I would not, not be able to smile at them or even look at them impassively. I would burst into tears and not the kind I’d have cried for the previous person. Those were relieved tears in comparison. These would be frustrated, angry, hurt-animal-raging-painful tears.

I allowed my mind to go all the way there. And realisation settled over me. I feel what I feel. I am still me. My logic, my ethics (which are in the realm of thinking, not feeling) still stand and they watch as another part of me – my feelings – flow around uncontained. That means I am more than the beliefs I espouse, more than the stands I take, more than the ethics I champion. I am not made less strong or less woke or less anything because I choose to dislike the second person and allow the first person to be what they are.

This was a big thing for me, realising how much of my reactions have been peer pressure influenced. Only I can decide what/who I like and why. I may not be able to explain why and I do not have to justify it to anybody. When it comes to actions, yes, I may need to take a stand (such as ending a friendship with a MeToo perpetrator). But I do not have to negate whatever I felt for that person (meaning don’t have to question whether our past friendship was genuine and don’t have to think of myself as stupid for trusting them). I may be required to act and speak in certain ways out of consideration and respect for the world around me. This is not lying, this is merely adhering to the ethics of maintaining the integrity of the universe I inhabit. This is also not nullifying whatever else is inside me because those emotions that seem to contradict – they have their place too, inside me and inside this world.


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Who’s Here For The Screaming?

Summer is here and this time it seems harsher than it has been in past years.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not 2017 anymore. While the world is in turmoil in so many ways, it still feels like a better time for me personally than the last year was. Do we get used to suffering? I think so.

I’m not a suicidal person but…sentences that begin that way lend themselves to assumption, don’t they? I don’t assume I know the ending of people’s sentences when they start. But lately, I’ve been finding myself cut off more and more in conversations. I’ve spent a lot of time calling out mansplaining and the silencing of women and these actions are definitely gendered. But I also think this kind of NONONONONONANANANANAANAICANTHEARYOUIDONTHEARYOU speaks about our culture.

We are a world of screams and no words. I’m not here for the screaming. I empathise with the anguish that makes a human being unable or unwilling to receive any kind of input from other people. But I don’t want to tend to anybody’s wounds now. I don’t think I even can. It’s a hurt world and its healing lies in itself. Maybe that is the lesson of living – how to remember to stop hurting.


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


Inside A Cliche

Alone in a cafe, with a glass of white wine,
sitting next to a window overlooking a rain-soaked lake,
with Jean-Paul Sartre lying on my lap

Is that too much of a cliche? A cliche of what?
No…Solitude. Detachment. Indifference.

Inside a cliche is the only place that a passionate person is disspassionate.

The Vagina Dialogues

Eight years after hearing about it for the first time, I finally watched The Vagina Monologues. Wish me a happy birthday since I’m being reborn. On second thoughts, don’t say a word. Just listen as we speak – my vagina and I.

I hated being a woman. The restrictions, the rules, the fears of my mother, it made me angry.

I hated being a woman. Being smaller built than the boys, slower than them at games, lagging behind them on my bicycle, my scrawny legs pedalling furiously to keep up. I never could.

I hated being a woman. It took me a long time to get used to my curves. I walked like my flat-chested 12-year-old self till I was 17. Till a classmate told that it wasn’t the done thing for a girl to walk with such a straight back. Till, a boy said, “You walk with your boobs thrust right out at the world.” And when I did get used to them, I took them on with a vengeance and used them as lethal weapons. Bait? Hah! Call them Venus fly-traps! I loved their power and I hated them for the compromise they were.

I hated being a woman. Bleeding every month, feeling pukey and giddy-headed and sticky and smelly.

I hated being a woman. 10 years old and being told, “Boys can do whatever they like. But a girl’s reputation is like glass.” Twelve and my tuition teacher’s voice, “What a horrible laugh, so loud and monstrous! Look at Sonya, how prettily she covers her mouth when she laughs. And she doesn’t make a sound.” Thirteen and being admonished, “Sit with your legs together. Only a slut sits with her legs apart.” Yes, I really and truly hated being a woman.

But I didn’t always. I didn’t know I was a woman for some time. And then suddenly I did. Or more accurately, I suddenly knew he was a man. As he introduced me to his manhood and asked me to pat it, hold it, feel it.

Oh stop! I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. I held myself back. And I held myself in. Realizing suddenly that if I didn’t, everything inside me would fall out of the hole.  And in that moment, I seperated my vagina from me.

Sometime later, I summoned up the courage to tell my parents. I said he had tried to kiss me once. ‘Tried to’, not did. ‘Once’, not many times. ‘Kiss me’, not…. 

My classes were stopped and we didn’t speak about it again. I gave up trust that day as well as faith in men. I even stopped hugging my father. I assumed a genderless identity. And later, sexuality was paraded as an accessory, not experienced from within.

As the years passed, I built armour upon armour. The strongest of them was the desicion that when I was uncomfortable or hurt or unsure or unwell, no one would know, least of all the person who caused me pain. I banished the fears. I suppressed the blushing and giggles. I stifled innocence and wonder. I held back pain. I shut down tears. I sent them all to the dungeon to keep my shameful prisoner company. 


I didn’t speak of it for ten years. One day a neighbor asked my mother about the guitar lessons I’d taken, since she wanted to send 8-year-old daughter for them too. When my mother told me, I asked her to tell our neighbor what had happened. She admitted that she was too embarassed to. I said, “If someone had told us the truth a decade ago…” and I left the room. There was nothing more to say.

Four years later, I was playing a silly game with my boyfriend, slapping and giggling. Then in a dramatic flourish, he pinned me down and held my wrists. That’s the last thing I remembered. The next thing I knew, he was shaking me very gently and asking, “What happened? I was only playing.” I didn’t say a word. Apparantly I’d gone all stiff and began whimpering.

My vagina was locked away into a dungeon when I was nine and went into silence after that. 


As I watched the monologues and the vaginas of women around me sing and squeal and laugh and moan, I asked myself,

If my vagina could speak, what would she say?

And I heard her stammering, painfully shy reply so clear it made me cry.

She said,


I’m sorry I disappointed you.
I’m sorry I hurt you.
I’m sorry you are in pain.
I’m sorry that I remind you of my existance.
I’m sorry I exist.
I’m so very sorry that I didn’t make you happy.
I’m really sorry that I don’t make you proud.
I’m sorry that you’re ashamed of me.
I’m so, so very sorry.

And as she spoke, her fellow prisoners stepped free from two decades of confinement. I had scratched off the worst I’d seen in my life and sent them down to my vagina, keeping the best bits for the part of me on show to the world.

My poor vagina, surrounded by my shame,
my guilt,
my pain,
my bad memories,
my nightmares,
my anguish,
my betrayal,
my agony,
my frustration,
my sorrow
…and my tears.

She cried, my vagina cried. And for the first time in years, I did too, with her.


Small wonder then that my relationships failed. Such a hellish place it had turned into that I’d only send those I wanted to banish down there. No wonder the very worst of men appealed to me and the very worst in them turned me on. And even they were petrified by what they found there.

I hated doing it in the dark.
I hated doing it on my back.
I hated doing it in bed. Or a couch. Or a car. Or in the open.
In fact I hated doing it so much that I never did.

Those who came to visit were offered a gracious cup of tea and then lulled into a battery of tests – a moat, a dragon, an army of defenses. And those that got past, walked up to the gates to find them locked. No entry into this love-lane, we’re shut, you’re unwelcome, go home. They did.


My new friend calls me a child and tells me that there’s a little girl he sees when he looks at me. Now I understand. At long last, I’m in the throes of an emotion nearly long-forgotten – TRUST. I banished it to my basement along with the other more tender emotions. If other people trust with their hearts, mine has gone made its home in the hovel downstairs. I trust from deep down there, like a slender creeper growing out of the ground. And what do you know? He’s right after all. My vagina thinks she’s only nine years old. That’s the last time she breathed free. Sweet child of mine indeed.

I used to be a sweet child. Warm, affectionate, trusting and open and always getting into scrapes. All of that went away with the confinement, right down into my vagina which is everything I am not. Sweet, pure, soft and warm. And it stayed that way for twenty years despite the confinement.


The book was wonderful. But the play brought it to life. It made me laugh (not smirk) and cry (not scowl). It gave my vagina her freedom and her voice too.

This is for Mahabanoo, Dolly Thakore, Avantika, Jayati (the moaner!) and Sonal Sachdev, the wonderful, spirited ladies who made last night come alive at Prithvi theatre. You made me whole again. You brought me back to life.


If my vagina were to dress up, what would it wear?

Well, it’s worn iron shackles for two decades. Now, if she could, she’d like something light and airy – preferably nothing at all. 😀


I read Lolita when I was eighteen. It was a revelation. One more step in what turns out to be a long journey. A journey of healing. A lot of people I’ve discussed the book with say that it is a sick book, making excuses for paedophilic behaviour. But I think, they just don’t know. Of all the people, I can hardly be an advocate for child abuse.

But reading Lolita gave me some perspective on what happened to me. I suddenly saw my abuser as a human being – a very bad and flawed human being, a sick human being but a human being nevertheless. Not a monster, but human. And human beings can be overcome, overpowered and even forgotten. Almost.


About 5 years ago I was at a doctor’s clinic when I suddenly realised that the man sitting across me was my former guitar teacher. I was shocked that it had taken me that long to recognize him. Even more shocked at what I felt – nothing at all. In my memories he was a big-built man. But in person, after all these years he just looked so tired, so small, so weak, so obscure and so old. I can’t change what happened and it would a lie to say that I’ve forgiven. This is a wound that cut me so deep, it bled me right out of the right to be angry and seek revenge. Seeing him again was like someone smoothing over the scars of the wound.


I didn’t have the courage to put this up online immediately. I had to ask a few friends about it. Two of them told me that it was deeply moving and should be shared. One cautioned me that I should remember to ignore any weird-ass reactions. Finally two others,  told me about their own personal accounts of horror. And in the end, that’s really what gave me the courage to share this.

Happy birthday to my vagina. And welcome to the world of the living again.


From Sandman: Endless Nightsdeath_gaiman.jpg

Most people want like a candle flame, flickering, wavering.
But you want like a forest fire.

Getting what you want and being happy are two very different things.

When there is nothing left to want, all you do is wait till there is nothing left to wait for.

And what when there is the world to be wanted?
Like a forest fire, like a volcano, like a flaming, blazing star, like a thousand shooting suns?
And along with desire, the equal knowledge that what you want can never be
Like a parallel universe of ice, diamond-hard and bright

Waiting is all there is, for an end that will never come since resolution can never be reached without possession.

I once said that when I want someone or something, I want them like the air I breathe.
And people like me can learn to survive without air
Gill-like swimming around in the pools of substitutes

But one never forgets what real air tastes like.

Pot Of Gold

lips.jpgHer parents say that she was born talking.

Then she discovered writing
English grammar compositions
Stories and poetry
Letters and emails
Chats and instant messaging
SMSes, orkut scraps
Resumes and reports

Then she stumbled onto blogging
And anonymous posting
Even editing and deleting
And much later, private publishing

But silence is yet to be learnt.

Turnabout isn't fair play

She picks a gob of mud and aims carefully
Splatch! It spatters down his clean (too clean she thinks) face

Then she sits back to sip her drink
But it makes her choke


…she thinks in panic

And so the loquacious one is silenced

But it wasn’t fair play!!

Are her final unspoken words


She spoke to me

Not a word said
Yet her silence whispered secrets
only a true mate to my soul could know

As I contemplated her silence
She seemed to blur

I saw her speaking to another
Or was it a reflection in her mirror?
Was it me?

I stayed wondering,
Eternity only, for company


He said, “Its all about two-liners, and reading in between the lines.”
I said, “Yes.”

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