The Savior

The Savior

Jemima was twenty-four when she got married to a jewelry store owner. They had a good life. He would come home late and leave early. And he would constantly obsess over how Jemima looked.

Every month, he would send her to the biggest clinics in the country, just so she could get several procedures done, ranging from chemical peels, to microdermabrasion, sometimes a nip here and a tuck there. Six years had gone by, and they led a comfortable life.

Jemima was also very lonely. When you’re thirty, married to a rich person, and living in a big house with only walls for company, you do get bored. And neighbors kind of talked, a lot. Jemima always felt very useless and insignificant. And she prayed that someday she could help someone and be treated with respect. That’s how a few of her habits were born. One day, she complained to her husband that she couldn’t really eat anything anymore.

He was mildly alarmed, because he’d given her a strict diet chart which she followed religiously. Her diet comprised largely of fruit and no carbs whatsoever. This helped her maintain that twenty two inch waist of hers.

“When was the last time you actually ate something, Jem?”

“Dinner, last night. My belly kind of hurts.”

“I’ll have Ron drive you to Dr. Samuels’ today. I’ll call and get an appointment, don’t worry.”

He kissed her on the temple and left.

Jemima was in surgery when her husband’s store was broken into. They took everything. Emptied the registers, stole millions worth of jewelry. He thought he’d lost everything when he got a call from a very astonished Dr. Samuels.

“I just got robbed, Dr. S,” he sobbed, “I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

“Come to the hospital immediately. There’s something you’ve to see.”

He rushed to meet Dr. Samuels. Nothing could have prepared him for what he was facing. Recovered from Jemima’s abdomen were about three kilos of jewelry. A couple of rare Rolexes. He almost cried.

“How’s Jem doing, Dr. S?”

“She’s stable.”

Jemima’s husband had never felt so relieved before.

“AntiPropt”

“AntiPropt”

I looked at Em, hunched over the new batch of eye-drop formulations we were going over. Em has had myopia her whole life, and by the time it stopped getting worse, she was already a twenty-nine year old. I remember the conversation we had once, very distinctly, like it were yesterday.

“I’m so tired, Sean,” she’d told me, “Of being the only one in the family that’s not yet married.”

“That’s okay, marriage isn’t a big deal, you know,” I’d told her.

Em had shaken her head and said that she was Indian, and being as old as she was, and unmarried to boot wasn’t considered a good thing in her family. I told her I failed to see logic.

She’d sighed and explained, “It’s a thing. An actual thing. Indian parents don’t understand you, it’s true. You could be doing well career-wise, but you aren’t doing anything till you’ve actually gotten married to a nice guy and made a few babies. And I keep getting rejected. My parents are worried.”

That had sparked my interest. Em was beautiful: she was tall and stately, had dimples when she smiled (which wasn’t very often), and also had one of the sharpest minds in the lab. She was a brilliant scientist. Sometimes I considered her my competition, my only competition.

“I’m sorry I’m being nosy, but why would you keep getting rejected?”

She’d pointed at her eyes and said, “Proptosis and high myopia. They won’t even do LASIK on me. My eyesight is really bad. Minus eleven diopter.”

And she’d cried a little. I’d passed her a tissue, patted her on the back and gone back to the lab.

Present day, she would still get upset over her eyesight but she tried to shove it under the rug and pretend to be fine. But I could see through the façade. Strong Em had reached her breaking point. I’m trying to not be too intrusive but I notice Em pick up a of couple eye-drop samples that weren’t meant to be there, which she then proceeds to pocket casually. I know exactly what those samples are. I look down at my notes and smile to myself.

Two months later, Em walks in and she no longer has proptosis. No longer has myopia. She also has a shiny new ring on her finger and new veneers.

She’s hugging back everyone who’s congratulating her.

I’m at my station, working on my patent. I’ve decided to call it AntiPropt and it’s my baby. It’s my brainchild, my new eye-drop. It essentially penetrates the eye to slowly absorb and dehydrate the eyeball over a course of few weeks. Oh, but not too much, so that fluid loss from the aqueous and vitreous humor happens over a span of time, and doesn’t happen too drastically because having a shrunken globe is again, messy. And once the process is completed, this leads to a shortening in the actual axial length of the eyeball, making the images form on the retina like it normally should, thereby curing myopia without any invasive procedure. This drop had taken me years to perfect and Em has been my first successful test subject.

She comes over and hugs me.

“Thank you, Sean,” she says, “for my new eyes and my new life.”

“Wedding Dress Shopping.”

“Wedding Dress Shopping.”

Dana wants this big wedding. She’s so excited. She walks into a fancy boutique on Friday morning, with a whole entourage, all wearing pink. Jose, the camera guy, and Sammy, her assistant are in the mix. Dana tells herself that it’s going to be fun. Her Tiffany Nova square cut ring sparkles in the late morning sun.

The girl that’s going to be helping her with her dress walks in, and everyone is so pumped.

A round of hellos are exchanged and the champagne’s poured and Dana goes in to try her first dress on.

“I’m so nervous,” she tells Charlotte, the bridal store girl.

Charlotte pats her on the shoulder and says, “Aw, honey, don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Let’s get you changed into this beautiful ivory strapless. You did say strapless was your style, right?”

Dana nods and puts on the dress. Charlotte helps her tuck it back and secures it with clips, and she walks out to meet her entourage. Jose is still filming. Dana wants the whole thing done vlog-style for her YouTube channel, it’s been a fun seven years on there.

“OH MY, that’s stunning,” Sammy says. Sammy’s been trained to exclaim appreciatively at everything Dana does. Sammy is also really good at keeping secrets and that’s why nobody really knows who Dana is getting married to. Everyone’s looking forward to meeting the mystery guy, but every time the topic comes up, Dana giggles and brushes it aside with a wave of her long red nails that almost looked like talons from some mythical creature.

She goes on to try four more dresses, and buys the slinkiest one because everyone likes it the best.

“When do we meet the man now that the dress is done?” someone asks in the comments that afternoon when she posts a mirror selfie in a white dress on Instagram.

“Soon,” Dana replies with a winky face emoji.

Now she must find a guy since the last one died from an accidental stab wound to the carotid. The murder weapon? A woman’s blood-red talon. Incompetent police work overlooked this, and the murderer effectively got rid of it. No arrests were ever made. No one knew who the man was and where he went. That’s what happens when you don’t have a family and you end up in a dumpster with nothing to identify you with. The case was closed and filed away, never to be opened again.

Dana throws a glass at the mirror, breaking it into little shards.

“Why wouldn’t any guy last till the damn wedding?” she screams at her shattered reflection.

Feminism: An Essay.

Feminism: An Essay.

Science has a no-nonsense way of conducting experiments as we were taught in school. Make observations, draw an inference from said observations and the experiments and then supply a conclusion based on the results. Have no bias whatsoever and stay true to facts. That is what I will attempt to do here, be as objective as possible as to determine the cause and effects of lack of equality among human beings.

Before we talk about things like feminism, misogyny, benefit of doubt and subtle changes in the gender hierarchy, we need to talk about human beings as a whole. Dynamics between men and women and how our minds work is of essential importance while trying to understand the existence of complicated issues such as sexism, racism, casteism etc. Let’s observe ancient history, where men and women were barbarians. There was this inexplicable need the males felt when they saw the females, they couldn’t explain it but they NEEDED it. So they used objects to hit women on the head till they were unconscious and drag them into their cave to procreate. Sometimes the females would die, so they adapted & started using blunt objects to only maim and not kill their target. The females, tried to defend themselves but more often than not were physically overpowered. That’s how the seven billion people of today came to be.

“When the chips are down and rules don’t matter these civilized people will eat each other if they have to”, quoting Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight here.

Might seem out of place, but this is very relevant. It speaks about how everything humans do is conditional. And that only the condition matters.

Fast forward to the era between the 1500s to the 1900‘s, humans became much more aware not only of themselves but also of the things around them. Education and art flourished during that period, equal human rights started to seem possible and not just a far-fetched dream. That change came – not without reason – as science advanced scientists found that human bodies were all more or less alike irrespective of gender (excluding reproductive systems, obviously), caste or creed. That shattered the dominant male’s world view, in their opinion they were physically stronger & mentally sharper so they had to be superior, how could they then be considered equal to women? Like every change it not only took a while to implement but also wasn’t accepted by everyone, still isn’t till this day. Seems kind of weird for the mighty human species, the apex predators as we call ourselves, civilized human beings to not be able to make the change in themselves based on reason when barbarians made the change in themselves based on wanting to simply get off. The key point is the change suited the barbarians and their priorities, it did not suit the civilized human males’ priorities. “Kind of weird” is putting it mildly, it’s actually insane. What else would you call someone who completely ignores obvious evidence?

“Insanity is like gravity, all it needs is a push”, second quote I mention from The Dark Knight by Joker which speaks about the condition from the first one, and how that condition just needs a trigger and it can turn into an irrational compulsion, a force that drives you from within to take/not take actions based on facts. In the barbarians that condition was being horny, which drove them to make the change in their style of weaponry. For the civilized men the condition was power, which drove men to deny that the power dynamics were not in their favor, at least based on empirical evidence it wasn’t. I firmly believe this is the reason for feminism to even exist, it’s the incapacity of people to accept change since they weren’t able to place facts over personal priorities.

Feminism proposes the liberation of women from the patriarchal society we have created, & change it into an equal one regarding matters of social, civil & personal rights. A society where people aren’t judged by their gender, but by their abilities. Atleast, that’s what the originators of the ideology imagined.

It took a while for the world to catch on, but the various social media movements such as #metoo and #timesup gripped the world in horror, when people realized how women’s rights are still lacking in majority of the world. Shouldn’t that have been enough to make people realize how messed up our priorities are? Human beings can send machines beyond our own solar system, we can send humans on the moon but we simply cannot accept men & women as equals? That is where another kind of trigger happens where not unlike an auto immune disease the protectors attack what they want to protect.

When a person/people propose a revolutionary theory in any particular matter, the immediate reflex of the human species is to ignore it, to laugh and ridicule it and finally to destroy it. Again, let’s look through history from peace & unity promoters like Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior to scientists like Hypatia & Archimedes all of them were murdered. Feminism met with the same ridicule,it wasn’t a person though but an ideology so it couldn’t be killed off. With people taking sides according to their own opinions, a divide came into place which wasn’t much different from the divide caused by race or religion. And that is precisely what brings me to my third and final quote from The Dark Knight, again by the Joker “You either die a hero, or live long enough to watch yourself become the villain.” The hatred spewed in each direction between pro-feminists and anti-feminists, began to blur the lines & before people could know what was happening the victim became the aggressor in the form of feminazi’s and male-bashing. Is that a fair statement?  Women were denied equal rights for centuries, still are in many places and yet they are being held accountable for being overzealous and ending up violating what they claimed to believe in. Are they both the same magnitudes of offence? Definitely not. Does that make it right? Definitely not, but it surely gives men the excuse to stereotype all feminists as feminazi’s and try and draw attention away from the underlying issue.

So what now? Are we doomed to ignoring what the other side is saying and yell our own opinions louder? Will humanity get compartmentalized on the basis of difference of opinion to the extent that people will just stop trusting each other? Depends on what you believe, if you believe the need to prove yourself right exceeds the need to question & analyse what’s right then the Joker would be proud of you.

The reason I keep mentioning the Joker and his lines is because one of the few great things DC comics ever did was to create the character of The Joker. He had no superpowers, but he also didn’t have any delusions about people. He saw the world for what it was and not what he’d like it to be. He had no motives of his own, and that is precisely why he was so dangerous, he knew people. How their minds worked, and that is specifically why this fictional character’s quotes from a somewhat old Hollywood film hits home a little too hard. 

But he wasn’t right in the end of the movie, was he? The people in the bomb-rigged ships carrying the trigger for the other ship didn’t blow each other up. From that I’d like to believe in humanity, I would sleep better knowing that maybe, just maybe at the brink of destruction humanity will do what it does best- evolve. Because that’s all any of us can do really, do our best to learn and listen, and have faith in the people around us.

© Suyash Upadhay, 2019.

50 Word Story: Stand-Up Comedy

50 Word Story: Stand-Up Comedy

Morgan’s at the bar, cracking jokes. That night he meets Sally, they fall in love.

Sally likes comedians.

Deep down, she hates anti-feminist jokes.

Soon, she adds a new piece to her collection of shrunken heads in the basement. Morgan fits right in with the rest of the offenders.

The Power Of Belief

The Power Of Belief

Guest post by Suyash.

I jerked awake as my chef slipped my supper into my room.

I smiled at him, he had a look of disgust on his face. I wondered why.

I remembered my family from back in the day: a devoted mother, a strong father and an annoying little brother. They doted on him so much I was almost jealous sometimes. He became a fine man, more successful than me even, and our parents were very proud.

Right until the day we found his body in a car. The brakes had failed. That tore the family apart. My mother overdosed on pills, and my father hung himself in grief. Thank God I survived as I dug into the meal which looked much better than it tasted.

“Looks pretty normal from the outside,” the prison guard said, “who’d have thought he murdered his entire family”