PadGirl- An Anti-Superhero Script

-Pradeksha Sethupathi, III Year B.A. Economics

Narrator: It was night time. As the gentle breeze blew waking up the moon, the world settled… okay, who am I kidding? No way are we finding women outside after 6pm. At least, good moral women. So let’s set our narrative in bright daylight at noon. Let me also take this opportunity to make the disclaimer that no one, I mean no woman, was wearing “questionable” clothes like jeans, leggings and as such throughout this write up (sketch, story, whatever you want to call this) although this disclaimer has absolutely nothing to do with what is going to happen.

 

Our heroine is a girl (just stating – this is a modern, women centric subject that seems a great “hit” these days ) who as per her usual Friday routine has gone to watch the latest flick playing at the overpriced theatres near her. Now, we wouldn’t exactly stereotype her as a movie buff, but rather a connoisseur of some good popcorn because that sounds fancier. Unfortunately for her, today, the lining of her uterus decides to shed. Unprepared, she approaches the first girl she sees in the lobby, the PadGirl.

 

Our heroine (whispers in a low voice): Hey! Er… Do you….Can I borrow a pad?

 

The PadGirl opens her mouth to reply: ..

 

Guy from behind: Oh, you use a pad? That’s good. We need to create more awareness and ask women to use pads.

 

(Both the girls turn to look at him)

 

Guy: Don’t be scandalised. We need to remove the taboo surrounding this and talk about it openly. Haven’t you heard about the Padman Challenge? I did it too. I got 340 likes on Facebook and 120 hearts on Instagram. I would have had more on Instagram but some people just don’t follow you back when you send a request. I mean, it’s common courtesy.

 

Lady in her 60s standing nearby eavesdropping: The Padman Challenge?

 

Guy: Yes, see Akshay Kumar has made this amazing movie that is the need of the hour. He challenged everyone on his Instagram to post a photo with a sanitary napkin to show the world that it isn’t bad to talk about this. He was even generous enough to postpone his movie release date so that they could release Padmavat.

 

The Patronus charm uttered, Karni Sena and Gang enter: How dare they disrespect the Rajput valour?

 

His aid rushing forward: Sir, this is the Padman movie. It’s a biography of a man who revolutionised women’s sanitation by making low cost sanitary pads.

 

Karni Sena: Oh! Then how dare do they disrespect this great Rajput man and his valour?

 

Aid: Sir, the real life social activist is Arunachalam Muruganantham from Tamil Nadu.

 

Karni Sena: Oh Madrasi?

 

(leaves littering the floor with their flags)

 

A girl rushes in screaming: Who dares litter this place? (Starts picking up the litter)

 

PadGirl turns back to guy: Likes aren’t the point of the Padman Challenge.

 

Guy, offended: Of course. Do you think I’m dumb? I know women have their menstrual cycle. They bleed once a month from, you know, down there.

 

PadGirl: Yes we know, we are women.

 

Guy: But see, it is natural. God has made you this way. You can’t help it. You must accept it. We need to educate every woman to use a pad. I was the first boy in my friends gang who took up the challenge. Other boys mercilessly teased me, but did I stop? No! Girls who wouldn’t talk to me in real life got to know that I was a decent boy and accepted my friend request.

 

Grandma: Look dear, in those days, we had only cloth napkins to wash by hand every time we changed. Now, you girls have sanitary napkins that gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and do whatever you want, just like how they show it in the ads: singing, dancing, horse riding etc.  However, child, listen to me. Don’t use these new age things like tampons. I read about this girl who forgot about her tampon and died. My brother in law posted about this on the family WhatsApp group so that our granddaughters will especially read it. I keep telling this to my granddaughter who uses this thing called a menstrual cup. Now, what is this horror?

 

Girl picking up the litter stops and screams: Everybody should use menstrual cups. As women, we need to take control of our lives and not let the corporates decide for us.

 

PadGirl: I’m sorry but you can’t mandate people to use something they aren’t comfortable with.

 

Screamer: Well, then every woman should get comfortable with it. Listen, all of you, menstrual cups are eco-friendly. Haven’t we polluted the environment enough without having to dump your waste in it too? Just because you are in pain doesn’t mean you have to make other innocent lives suffer with the plastic in your precious sanitary pads.

 

Padgirl: I’m sorry but we, women, can’t be made to bear the onus of environmental protection on top of everything else. What we need to be working on is to develop a platform to voice our opinions and make the corporates, the developed countries and all those responsible except the women own up for the degradation they caused and take on the burden of cleaning it up.

 

Guy to Grandma: Do you know about the hashtag Me Too campaign, that was started by the women in hollywood?

 

Screamer: So you think women should, again, be begging the men to do something? How dare you voice such anti-feminist thoughts? Women must be treated equal to men. Why should we wait for men to do it when we can do it? As another woman, I’m ashamed of your existence.

 

Padgirl: Oh My God! You are a feminazi.

 

Narrator: The Screamer’s eyes bulge red. She sees the blood of all the men who dared to oppress women, the blood and soul of patriarchy, coursing through the PadGirl’s veins. With one last cry of “Hail Woman”, she springs herself on the PadGirl.

 

(Grandma backs away.)

 

Guy leaves chuckling: It’s all the Premenstrual Syndrome. I know about it too. Women can’t help it. We must create awareness about it.

 

Our heroine left stranded: umm… Does someone have a pad? Anyone?

 

Narrator: No wonder they say – Pad, pad everywhere, not a single one when you need it.

 

(Youtube Video Ad pops up)

(Sorry, no production budget for an after credit scene)

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Horizon 2018

-Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English

As the rhythm of the music thumped in time with our heartbeats, Horizon 2018, organised by the Students Union as the Club day, was held on 24th February, 2018. Several clubs came forth with their enthralling performances and showcased their talents.

It started off with a bang with performances by the various clubs – from the Classical Dance Club with their perfectly coordinated movements, to the Western Music Club whose voices were perfectly in sync as they sang a medley of popular songs, to the Western Dance Club who combined their dancing with a social message, the clubs captured the students with their talents. In between the club presentations, were enthralling guest appearances by Shravan Sridhar, a well-known Chennai-based violinist, and High Kicks, a contemporary dance group who performed a powerful and empowering piece.

As the on-stage programs got over, the students dispersed to attend the workshops organised by the different clubs, ranging from menstrual hygiene to debating and creative writing, to even Zumba workshops, the clubs organised it all for the students of Stella Maris College. Eminent people from various fields were called to conduct these workshops for the eager students. Meanwhile, the smell of freshly made bajjis, shawarmas and noodles wafted through the air for those seeking to satisfy their hunger.

Horizon 2018 truly quenched everyone’s thirst for knowledge and satisfied their ravenous hunger.

Doubt

-Madhuri Lalwani, I Year B.A. English

the life
of a poem
soaked in doubt
ends
where it began.

the life
of the poem
is the death
of it.

the life
of that poem
lies in its
nonexistence.

Till We Meet Again

-Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English

When people usually talk about farewells, they talk about it in the hope that there will be a reunion soon. Yet, there is one kind of farewell where the possibility of a reunion is very weak, unless you strongly believe in the afterlife and believe that you’ll meet the person when you reach that point as well. That kind of farewell is one of the best kinds, the one we all call as death.

Yes, the D word. Most of us are afraid of it, most of us worship it and some of us respect it and find it beautiful. I belong to the third category and this is one reason why I find death to be something that isn’t sad, but simply something that lurks around our shoulders every day, respecting our lives till one day it stops doing so and takes us in its hands. With beautiful deaths come beautiful responsibilities.

With death comes memories; something that people find sad. We stop doing certain things because we get reminded of the person who bid farewell to us. The words of a song will have a different meaning, you won’t be able to walk on a street you crossed everyday anymore, you skip certain pages of a book because they remind you of the person who has left you. Every bit of everything will be, in one way or another, connected to another person you’ve lost, and you’d wish for that person to be right there next to you so you don’t have to savour the moment, or, to be more honest, deny those moments anymore.

People affect our life. They leave a mark with a gesture, word, sound, touch, smell, presence. You name it, you’ll find a connection to that person; and that ought to pull you down. But the real question is, why should it pull you down? Why don’t you let it uplift you?

Don’t skip the song because it reminds you of that person. Listen to it and think of all the beautiful moments you had. Walk on the street again and count the number of steps you had taken before the person left and enjoy the big number. Read those pages again and again till you memorise every line so that the person becomes a part of you.

Death shouldn’t always be sad. It could be happy because it leaves you with a lot of memories that will never die. Those feelings they left behind will continue to live through you. And if you are optimistic enough, there is an afterlife waiting for you where you will reunite again with the person you lost; never to say farewell again.

Pyaar Ek Dhoka Hai

Celebrating Singlehood, The AIB Way!

-Akchayaa R, II Year B.A. English

Gone are the days when all the single people watched ‘Love, Rosie’ and ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ with a huge tub of chocolate ice-cream while all the couples had their share of fun on the 14th of February. This year on Valentine’s day, cherishing solitude took the centre stage rather than being in love, and we can thank the AIB, (All India Bakch*d) and their campaign #PyaarEkDhokaHai that took social media by storm. The hashtag used by AIB roughly translates to ‘love is betrayal’, quite unconventional for it to be trending in February, but self-love and flaunting your ‘singlehood’ seemed to share the limelight with roses, chocolates and other cliché V-day stuff.

What started as a story on Instagram by Tanmay Bhat, a popular comedian and one of AIB’s founders, became a serious event when more than a thousand people marked that they were going to shout ‘pyaar ek dhoka hai’ on Valentine’s day. This inspired the founders of AIB to actually organise an event where single people could gather and shout the slogan. People who are active on social media would have noticed their newsfeed being filled with memes featuring the viral hashtag instead of videos of a school girl doing tricks with eyebrows and pictures of couples who have the need to post every single thing they do (a welcome change, indeed!).

The campaign (or movement) was one of its kind and unlike anything India has seen before, particularly on Valentine’s day. Even before February 14, AIB welcomed people to send videos of themselves shouting ‘pyaar ek dhoka hai’ in colleges, offices and any place one can think of. The response was also heart warming as people from all over India and countries like USA, Russia, Dubai, etc sent videos of themselves, shouting the slogan alongside a group of happy, single people. On V-day, around five thousand people gathered at Kamgar Krida Bhavan in Mumbai to do something that nobody had ever dared to do- celebrate self-love and enjoy one’s own company on a day that might have made them feel bad for not having a significant ‘half’ to share it with.

The occasion was graced with the presence of AIB (except Khamba who got married three days later!), Kenny Sebastian, Kaneez Surka, Surmukhi Suresh, Zakir Khan and Ritviz. All of them took turns to come on stage and take pledges as the crowd cheered them on, repeated the pledges and shouted ‘pyaar ek dhoka hai’. The huge turnout and the enormous support made this quirky, fun event a huge success and the founders promised that it would happen the following year too.

A few days after the excitement had died down, Tanmay Bhat posted another series of stories on Instagram which said that if a silly event like this was needed to not feel bitter about being alone and to celebrate oneself, it was worth it. This event was not just about defeating the age old notion that all single people curl themselves into a ball and cry tears of despair because they have nobody to spend it with, but also to make people realise that enjoying one’s own company and self-love are equally important and worth celebrating. I’m pretty sure AIB received a lot of messages asking them to become a political party and contest in the elections. If they ever do so, making February 14 the National Dhoka Day would be the trick up their sleep to win the election. Now that would be amazing, wouldn’t it?

Humans Of Stella

-Samyuktha Shiva, I Year B.A. English
Image Credits: Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English

Krishnan sir

DTP centre

“I was born in one of the most beautiful cities in Kerala: Palakkad.

The best times I had there were definitely in school and junior college. I remember all the fun we had, the pranks we pulled, and laughing for hours on end. I was a pretty good student in junior college but, after a point, I realized photography was my calling.

So I made a decision then, and applied to various film institutes, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect because my dad had just decided to shift to Chennai to work on his Timber business and eventually open a theatre there as well. So I grew more interested in photography and cinema. I spent all my time watching films, but for me it wasn’t ‘entertainment’, it was work. As I watched each film, I’d observe the finer details, the technicalities, all the angles, the long shots, the close ups. I looked at cinema through the eyes of an aspiring camera man and photographer.

But then I got a reality check. Making it in the big talented world of Cinema isn’t easy. It’s hard. One needs a lot of talent, determination, and most of all: luck. I then focused more on just photography; I started doing wedding photography, photography for ‘kacheris’, and even for plays being put up on stage. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I started to really like my job.

Soon, I worked a lot more, and people even started sending in requests to print my photographs very often, and because of that I eventually became well informed about printing, xerox, and everything else that I handle right now.

It all changed in the year 2000 though.

I was in a two-wheeler accident, and sustained severe injuries, especially to my legs, that resulted in me needing bed rest for about as long as a year.

When I got back to work, I realized I couldn’t handle or carry the heavy equipment that would be needed for photography.

I then made a decision and opened a DTP store. Cut to a few years, and here I am in your college: Stella Maris, running a DTP centre. I’m content here and I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing.”

Much Ado About Adieu

-Sera Grace John, I Year B.A. English

Au Revoir, Paalam, Adios, Alwida, Zaijian, Ma’asalama, Proshchay, Subham, Totsiens – a million words but a single meaning – Goodbye! This seven lettered English word is the universal epitome of an inevitable emotion humanity faces, although in different wavelengths and dimensions.

The matter of this differing form is often connoted to separation, be it permanent or transitory. But all goodbyes, even the most morbid one is temporary and is a transition to something different. Hearing the word reminds us of hand-waving gestures and tear-torn cheeks, or smiles spilling wishes. It doesn’t mean just parting and missing.  Semiotically, waving hands signal “I’m always here for you“, “Until next time”, “Don’t forget me” and the like. It’s just a brief span of separation and may not always be a forever. It often entails hope.

True, it’s just one side of the coin that can relieve and help one believe that some goodbyes can be good enough. But like it or not, all goodbyes are not good – when it becomes a red card shown to a friend, or when it signals a break up in a relationship, when it is mumbled amid whimpers as someone leaves someone, something or somewhere beloved, when it becomes the last words of a dying dear, never to come back. In such situations, hearing this word puts a lump right in your heart and makes you sink under the heaviness.

At times, it makes you sob or even wail, sometimes it leads to perennial hugs and yet other times it makes your capillaries turn numb. But when goodbye incarnates itself as a big fat full stop on your notepad, drag it down to make a comma and continue writing the rest of your tale of life.

‘Cause after all, goodbyes are not stops, they’re pauses!

Misunderstood

-A Hanaa Mariam, I Year B.A. English

I see the way you look at me,

If you can even call it looking.

When your eyes raise to meet mine,

You look away quickly,

As if I am doing something shameful.

There is terror in your eyes,

Which you try your best to disguise.

That one momentary glance you throw me,

Is filled with a cold, icy, unspoken judgement,

That you didn’t have to utter a word at all

For it to be known.

I wonder if I’ve worn my clothes inside-out,

Or done something utterly shameful,

Or have dirt smeared across my face,

That is offending you so.

And then I remember, a sudden thought as if from long ago,

That my mere existence is offence enough.

 

I see the way you shrink back from me,

As if I am carrying a disease.

I see the way you try to build a protective layer

Around yourself. And, if, by mistake

My skin grazes the skin of your hand

Or if I take a seat next to yours,

You wipe that place furiously, lest it festers

While trying to be discreet about it,

But failing miserably.

 

Your eyes rover over my face,

And then your gaze lingers on my headscarf,

Eyeing it cautiously- bordering on predatory,

You curl your lip in distaste.

Either you do that because you think it is outdated

(which by the way it is not)

Or because you think I carry bombs inside it,

Waiting for the right moment to set it off.

How utterly ridiculous it sounds.

Maybe you should try saying it out loud,

Just so you know how crazy you sound.

 

I see the way you hide your children from me,

Turning to them and whispering something in their ears,

With your gaze firmly fixed on me.

I see how their faces pale and their eyes widen,

As if remembering me from their worst nightmares.

They clutch each other tightly,

Holding on to dear life.

You think I am going to kidnap them

And maybe even torture them.

The thought makes me cringe,

And bile to rises in my throat.

You might be sitting next to a potential kidnapper,

But you wouldn’t for once doubt them,

With their easy smiles and acceptable clothes.

Now you look at me, as though you would want nothing more,

Than to just rip the headscarf off of my head,

And make sure that I have no secret stash of weapons,

Or a handful of grenades, hidden inside.

And the thought itself is a gentle reminder,

Of how you became the barbarian,

You so despise.

Humour To Honesty- The Evolution Of Comics

-Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English
Image Source: http://www.theodysseyonline.com

Two things make a comic what it is – the art and the content. I try to focus on the latter when evaluating a comic, partly because as a very lazy cartoonist, I do not want to feel bad about my own abilities, but mostly because you can get a good joke across with any average sketch.

Of the comics that one still reads from the good old days of the 20th century, most are American dailies like Calvin and Hobbes, and Beetle Bailey, and Hagar the Horrible – and the list goes on and on, because American cartoonists published a lot of strips in a lot of newspapers – and they still do. Now, a few of the same comics are published in Indian newspapers, which is why we know them so well. The thing about the typical American dailies is that they’re typical family comics – one can understand them and enjoy them regardless of their age, and regardless of the generation they’re from. They’re timeless, in the sense that they follow rather typical tropes, with similar kinds of characters in different settings. Today, one gets their daily dose of cartoons from off the internet, rather than newspapers. The traditional three or four panel template is no longer a necessity – cartoonists choose how they want to structure their comics because space isn’t a constraint, now that they’re publishing their work online rather than in a newspaper. Web comics, especially the Buzzfeed kind, are centered around things happening in the now – the trends, the fads, the slang and the humour are all very relatable to us – the young and hip crowd. The newer comics also have a touch of postmodern existentialism thrown into the mix, with dark and sometimes extraordinarily absurd humour, that seem to elude the comprehension of the everyday adult. There is one comic that fits into both the categories of comics, that is humorous, honest and melacholic at the same time – Peanuts, an ageless masterpiece.

 

Compared to the simple, yet neat style of drawing comics, a lot of the relatable webcomics have a slapdash sort of appearance, where it seems almost like the artist compromises art in order to capture their mood on paper before it disappears – and this style works most of the time because the cartoonist understands that the capturing a character’s expression perfectly is more important than the general grandeur of the cartoon. Even more common nowadays are comics where the characters are simple figures – a mesh of shapes and lines. Bill Amend, the retired artist behind Foxtrot, dabbles in both styles – he makes quick cartoons with stick-figures on napkins at restaurants, while at the same time making classic Foxtrot Sunday strips.

Comics have gone from having fixed tropes and exaggerated humour of the general kind, to ones that seek to portray things that are real, more related to emotions and thoughts (often focusing on the darker side of the human psyche), than just humorous situations. Superhero comics have become darker over time, and many of the most popular graphic novels now, like Maus and Persepolis, focus on history – on different crises, from the point of view of people who have lived through them.

It seems almost like the most important part of a comic is no longer humour, but honesty.

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