as if you were on fire from within
the moon lives in the lining of your skin.
Portrait of Vidhi
WordPress suggested that I could say hi, so well, hi.
This blog was a result of an impulsive decision.
the only impulsive decision I’m proud of.
There’s not much to know about me. Even if there is, I’d rather let it unfold in the posts I publish in here.
But hey, a brief introduction of sorts?
I’m Manya, 17, living in India. Travel, music, photography. Your quintessential teenager.
In addition to that, bi-weekly existential crises that make me stare at the ceiling in the hopes of finding purpose and construct my future.
I have known myself to have a problem with every single thing under the sun, or otherwise.
Nonetheless, there is one thing I can never find a fault in: art.
It’s my solace, my little happy place. I can express myself without fearing any judgment of sorts and I guess it’s managed to keep me sane for so long.
I am otherwise forced to live in reality. Hence, I always mange to convince myself that I am, in fact, a misfit.
Maybe I am, who can know these things.
On this blog, expect.. potentially anything.
Here, my efforts to make a change, even if it is small, one word at a time.
‘Not many people know what ‘queer’ means or know about gender and sexual identities. They’re not sensitized about this subject, they only believe what they see. we are divided into a male-female binary according to our physical appearance the day we’re born and while the Supreme Court recognizes transgenders as the 3rd gender, the society is a long way from accepting it. People think with the announcement of the verdict from SC, the transgender community has won all rights but that’s incorrect; we’ve only won the right to be called a human being.//
Dhananjay Chauhan, transgender rights activist, Chandigarh
(Sidenote- I’ve been wanting to do this project for so long and im really happy that i’ve finally gotten around to doing it.
While I do feel that a lot of things feel incomplete about this project as there was a lot of apprehension(?) involved I’m just really happy that i chose to begin somewhere.
The purpose of the project isn’t to show them as human beings who’re part of the society because that’s the entire point, they always were we just started recognising and acknowledging it( though i won’t be very sure about accepting it).
More than anything else, I wanted to do it for myself because for the longest time I’ve struggled with my own gender identity and wanted to gain a perspective from people who’ve been there and after years of struggling with it finally accepted themselves and are comfortable in their own skin.
In the following series, I’ll put up transcripts of my interaction with Ms. Dhananjay Chauhan, founder of the Saksham Trust in Chandigarh and Oshin, a transgender student from Dehradun).
‘I wanted to come to Chandigarh after seeing the work Dhananjay ma’am has done and my counselling for the German language course is on the 29th.
Another reason I wanted to move was because I wanted to register myself as transgender and to get your TGID( transgender identity) you need an address proof. My family disowned me when I came out to them albeit not immediately.
My family used to keep telling me ‘theek ho jaao’ and to take medicines but instead I told them to take medicines for themselves kyunki aap log bimaar ho; there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I should be allowed to choose my gender identity and allowed to be who I am.
After a while it got to the point that my brother hit me and that’s when I decided that I had to leave.
Life had become difficult and I didn’t know what to do. But if you would’ve noticed, transgender people have an inherent talent for the arts whether it’s performance art or visual arts. And hence I started doing make up. I knew I was fairly good at it and started taking in small bookings.
After a year I went back home because my mother called me back. She asked me to come back and told me to get better and live normally.
She was unwell so I had to comply to take care of her. I got my haircut and changed my appearance. But you can’t change who you are just by changing your outwardly appearance. Aap jo ho woh toh ho.
I came out after a year again, establishing my identity as a transgender. I fought with my mother and my brother and told them I wanted to be something and that’s why I’m here in Chandigarh.
I hope to give my MSW exam and to perhaps become a make-up artist someday.
Dhananjay ma’am has supported me at every step and she makes me believe in myself; I’m confident I can become someone someday. (Sidenote- we further talked about section 377, the right to equality for the transgender community and how they’ve been deprived of proper education for so long. She also told me how her friends have been thrown out of religious institutions; a few of her friends, after transitioning, were disallowed from entering masjids and reading the namaaz and how they have nowhere to go.
I wish I could’ve talked to her about other things besides her gender identity as I’ve always felt that one’s gender/sexuality preference should not be the only defining factor of who they are as a person. but again im super glad I talked to Oshin.
Sexual/gender divergent people have been oppressed and we’ve been made to feel alien to ourselves for so long, im just really glad to meet people who rose above that and learnt to accept themselves despite being told by society to not do so).
“People refuse to accept us and say that we don’t have any feminine traits; they try to correct our ways and tell us to act in accordance to the sex we’re assigned at birth. There are no policies to keep a check on the atrocities against transgender people. Granted, we have legal recognition but the rules that apply to the general public are not enough. Sometimes, even the authorities are uncooperative and laugh at our face if we complain.I’d often stay back after my classes in order to make my community more visible, to create sensitization amongst the university students. They’d scowl at me on the first day, look at me disdainfully on the second day but on the third day perhaps they’ll realise that I’m a student just like them. It will happen eventually, I’m sure; our visibility can speak for us but right now, people are not sensitized and I do realise that it might not get better for me or for my counterparts but I will continue to fight for the future generations to live a life of dignity and respect. I know If someone would’ve guided me when I was young, I wouldn’t have been clueless and spent more time fighting for the life that we deserve. But I wish to be that person for my community members now.” “I think many people, due to the privilege they’re born in, don’t know how it feels like to be discriminated. I will continue to go against the odds to make people realise that yes, we are different but different doesn’t mean wrong.”
(Sidenote- She told me she’s a trained Indian classical singer and that’s what she devotes her time into when she’s not engaging in activism. Besides that, she also demanded for the university to build a washroom for transgender students inside the campus which is a first in Chandigarh.
And talking about the first pride parade in Chandigarh held in 2013, she told me how they chose to start from the university campus itself since people here are comparatively more accepting and could be sensitized through learning and discussion since now they share the same space. Like I said before, there was a lot more to be asked and answered but I really cherish the interaction that we had, it was so beautiful.
This was my first time interacting with transgender person up close and personal and I could see a glimmer of hope in their faces beneath all that they’d endured.
I think because of this, I managed to gain some clarity about my own self.
I’ll continue doing this project whenever I have the chance to do so again).
I’m apologising in advance if this comes across as an incoherent rant even though it does qualify as one. I’m unable to translate what I’m feeling to words, I’m not sure if I can but I hope I’m able to make even 5% sense.
I felt the need to do this as a way to cope(?); we all heard the news yesterday and I’m sure you would’ve read plenty about it already. Crying as I’m writing this while listening to the ‘You did it to yourself’ bit in ‘Lies, Greed, Misery’, I absolutely fucking was unaware what it felt like to be heartbroken until yesterday.
I’m heartbroken for the twelve-year-old me who had found comfort in crying with her face thrust in a pillow while listening to Chester until I fell asleep; who finally knew what it meant to be understood by an artist, or anyone for that matter.
I’m really fucking heartbroken for the thirteen year-old me who struggled to find her place and resigned eventually only to relate to every lyric that Bennington sang on those friendless and lonely days( and nights).
I’m really fucking heartbroken for Mike Shinoda who lost his best friend and still had to put up a brave face to confirm this news. I’ve had someone close to me try and OD on meds and the only way I did not let it affect me was by disassociating and denial. I didn’t know how to deal with blaming myself for not being there enough especially when they needed me the fucking most. Something about his suicide feels far too personal than it should.
The weird part is, I have constantly thought of suicide, too, either in the context of killing myself or remembering conversations I’ve had about suicide. For someone who is prone to depressive phases, I understood what may have triggered him to take his own life. I’ve been lucky enough to have talked myself out of suicide three years back and fortunate enough to have had a friend talk me out of suicide at 4am in the morning when I couldn’t hear my own voice of rationality. All this due to a peaked depressive episode and peaked suicidal tendencies. So, yes, I understand. And at the same time, I don’t.
I only wished he had reached out in this one moment of vulnerability, then I wouldn’t have to be thinking of how I took Linkin Park’s music for granted. I would’ve continued to take their music for granted and blasted ‘Battle Symphony’ on my headphones to pump me up before an exam. I wish I could bring him back. But he’s gone. He’s fucking gone and given me enough reasons to be missed although these were thrusted in my hands far too soon. Far too soon.
I’ve cried four times since yesterday and am attempting to write this in order to cope. Now would be a good time for these to work.
Chester, if I could thank you, I would do it a million times over for the comfort of understanding, for saving me from so much shit, for being one of the reasons to pull through when I could not, for keeping me grounded during days when it got real and for existing and making beautiful music. I’ll fucking miss you, man.
My last post was 4 and a half months back and I don’t even have justifications anymore, I’ll just return from the hiatus like it never happened.
A lot, LOT has happened in the past year, and I’ve managed to document most of it in photographs.
I’ve also recently been acquainted with the convenience and magic of phone photography and I’m slowly realising that maybe the moment is so much more important than the means I capture it through.
Here are a few photographs I took-
‘please take pictures of your friends. take pictures of your friends when they laugh, and when they are happy. and when they are sad, too. take pictures of them partying, studying, eating or sleeping in your bed. take pictures of their new hair color, take pictures of them when they roll their first cigarette, and take pictures if their last, when they quit smoking. take pictures of your friends just being themselves. tell them they are beautiful all the time you think it.
they may dislike the pictures now. but one day, very far from this year, they will be thankful.’
(via tumblr, all credits to the writer)
Friends got me this polaroid camera for my 17th birthday. I’m so thankful and blessed.
I tend to forgot about this blog a lot many times but I’m glad I can always come back to an unusual homely feel and everything feels the same.
Here’s some of my mom’s work when digital cameras didn’t exist.