books · history

The Only Voices- Stories from War

When the dust cleared all the cities- Warsaw, Lodz, Cracow- had stories to share. Stories that pitted against their counterparts today reek of a hopelessness and horror, an emptiness and a stillness which makes it hard for you to believe that they’re real. Like Westeros’s medieval cruelty wonderland, the world that emerges from the fragments of stories that have poured out of the Germany-occupied-Poland of the early 1940s, it is hard to believe that such a whimsical, fickle world could ever have existed.

But the reality is stickier and messier because through the din, the only voices that ultimately reach us are those of the people who made it through. Not in one piece, because nobody could have survived the horrors of Schutzstaffel in one piece. Perhaps the reason Nazi Germany continues to be so fascinating, so terribly despondent and so inductive of faithlessness is that the horrors t beheld will never disperse or trickle to a mere stream. All of it just creates vivid impressions, images which are harder to erase even if all you know of them is through books and movies of recollections and the capabilities of a mind to create fiction out of half-known facts. Think then, of the people who ultimately beheld within their sight the scenes that make us shudder through the invisible wall of speculative imagination and fact-scourging. Think of the million and one things buried in the buzz of fleeting chaos as normalcy was slowly restored. Who do you turn to when the past comes knocking? Think of the possessions lost-  trinkets and heirlooms and movie stubs and pretty dresses and cosmetics and utensils and scrapbooks and toolboxes and  all the rest of it. Think of the half-roasted men and women, naked, shorn like sheep and marked not just on the outside with scabies but on the inside in ways that a good scrub cannot remove. Think of the children beholding scenes even adults cannot absorb without a rush of bile, of executions committed at the drop of a hat, of being thought of as a half-human, unfit for life and thus relegated to the slave bunkers from which survival would be a question of just ‘how long’? And most of all think of the walk of death all the way to an extermination chamber- a part of the Final Solution.

But the discourse adopted was so slow in revealing its absoluteness that it seems scary to look back now and think of how systematic it all was. And how horrifying. Here’s how it all went:

1) First there were the edicts banning Jews from enterprises, from certain areas and businesses. Starting as a subtle wave through the dark stillness of the storm yet to come, these orders were issued discretely- sometimes more outrageously but mostly in a subdued manner, and marked with a series of uprooting exercises that made people talk in hush-hush tones beneath the canopy of disaster but not yet strong enough to cause more than the occasional flare of panic before sensibilities flicked aside stories as rumors too fantastic to actually take place.

2) The slow cut-off was followed by the first raids and round-ups where people were asked, kindly to vacate their apartments within the minute. Left shivering to themselves, shriveled old men and women and children crying in their mother’s arms or separated- for there was no respite and all precious things were too be given up- jewelry, expensive silverware, gold, fur-coats, gilded watches. Nothing was impossible and complaints felt on deaf ears or on ears which turned make and slashed at you instead, forcing you to retreat. There were louder, more ostentatious attacks, buried hastily under the rug of complacency and fear.

3) With the growing war and distance, came the growling edicts and blaring announcements of ghettos where all Jewish people were supposed to report. Living quarters were cramped but properties had to be forfeited though anything you could carry off on your barrows and walk through the jeering crowds, could come. While on the inside, poorly constructed housing was established and privacy dismantled piece-by-piece, on the outside hate propaganda grew. As the ghetto gates closed, only labour and other skilled workers who were necessary to the war-effort were allowed to commute through. There was a lack of regard of any sort on the inside and the things that make life bearable were shut down, one after the other.

4) Then came the Kennkartes– identification issued to each Jew. If yours had a blue sticker on it, you were considered as safe and needed but everyone else was starting to get herded like cattle onto trailers going off to some distant place. There were rumors of places where mass-murders were executed and people didn’t return but there were official reassurances. Mark your luggage well, it will be sent on behind you. But the lies rang fuller because auditing and weighing was carried on in secret- rings and bracelets and clothes and even gold teeth still stained red were deposited to be auctioned off. Food inside the ghettos was scarce and existence barely sustainable but beyond lay a world of foggy concentration camps where things were worse.

5) Imagine the roll call because when they came to collect you at any time of the day or night, they flushed through the ghettos looking for potential victims. You were either of immediate use to them or you weren’t of any. Either way, there wasn’t much hope for survival because the flushing out was done without the least damnation about whether or not someone stumbled and fell, witnessed or withdrew. Dogs tore flesh and genitalia and breasts and pulled infants from their mothers and limbs until they broke off. The constant and gnawing fear of ‘you’re next’ was hard but perhaps it was worse to see your neighbours, childhood friends, parents, children, schoolmates, aunts and uncles shipped off into the unknown- to Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka.

6) And finally the emptiness would sting and if you were left behind, you were blessed but not really. There was work to be done and nothing would yet guarantee your survival through the harsh winter. If salvation was coming, it was never fast enough. And in the extermination chambers, people were asked to shed all their clothes and step into the light, following which they were pushed into mass, unmarked graves. Countless unidentified human beings with feelings and memories perished for the maniacal plans of individuals who bloated themselves into believing some false, half-concocted tale of Aryan superiority and here I am today, in 2014, unable to get these stories out of my head or lose the feeling that this world can never have a sense of justice whilst people perish, their stories abandoned, their truths untold, their existence turned into a betrayal.


Source: Mostly Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally. Review coming soon.

Also Wikipedia.


Life · philosophical · writing

Atonement- Honest Confession

Sometimes I wish I couldn’t feel pain. There are ways to numb it, of course. Sometimes I wish I could resort to them. It takes a separate kind of freedom and strength, I suppose. I’ve never thought of being alone as a curse. I’ve felt alone at the most profoundest of times- moments when I am seething under the unfettered agony of long-lost hopes and dreams that weren’t even mine to begin with. Why, then, must I suffer for a mystical soul I have no way of contacting through the passage of time? Why, then, must I feel this need to fiercely guard the best parts of me from a world I know for a fact would tear it apart, rip them from side to side and dangle them in front of me? Why must I feel, sometimes for all of humanity, at other times for individuals who don’t even need it either because they are way beyond my reach or because they never existed or simply because they are better equipped to deal with their pain than I am to deal with theirs?

At other times I wonder, if I didn’t have these rushes of happiness followed by subdued moments of pain- who would I be? Could I appreciate life better when I smell spring air for the first time every February and feel something flutter out of redundancy from within me? Would I understand people, situations- humanity as a whole, if I couldn’t feel things the way I do? If, in a crowded room or in the midst of a loud sea of voices, each one trying to subdue the other in a bid to entertain, I can feel stranded, suffocated, choked- does that make me lonely? It does.And yet what would I be if I wasn’t a product of this incessant voice every day- one which is either so optimistic that it wants to drench itself in every hue of the world in just a few hours or so pessimistic it wants to crawl under the darkest, vilest hole in the universe and just curse, curse, curse away every tiny pore of every cruel act of life?

It is strangely saddening to accept, with a humbleness, the hardhearted approach this world takes every time an act of kindness or of love tries to rear it’s head. When I cry for something I never even had to begin with, when I feel a sort of serendipity which is entirely of my own making-unguided, unpromised and so easily withdrawn that my insides could burst- I bear it all with a grin and a smile now whereas earlier such things led me down a path of self-destruction. The more I understand, the more helpless I feel in a sea of noise, of voices which do not wish to be identified but only jeer and call names from the comfortable cover of night, of human beings who will not spare a single, stranded thought for the fact that they are not the only one caught in the murkiness of life. I know of people who hide under the most intricate of setups- everyone does, some more so than others, but what of me? I want to throw of the covers and cling to the truth. I want to cling to honesty and love until my fingernails spurt blood, my throat turns hoarse and my limbs are nearly torn apart. I want to, but I do not have the strength.

So I swing like a pendulum, absorbing everything I can, writing whatever will ooze out of the corners where the truth sticks like treacle and I have to dig out its coalescing mass with a spoon that hurts no one else but me. Because people will be cruel. They will thrash and suffer and make you suffer with them but they won’t take the easy way out. Something holds them back from the truth. Something holds them back from freedom.

I don’t even remember the objective with which I had started to write out this confession. I think I have reached a point where it doesn’t matter anymore, where in fact, I feel as though putting these thoughts out into the universe might do someone a good turn. If one person could read this blabber of jumbled thoughts and appreciate through them the fire through which my soul sometimes burns for no damning reason except the fact that evil exists in the world, perhaps one day for one person would pass in lesser agony than all others. And hence I titled this post ‘Atonement’ because all I want sometimes is to burn- burn until the entire heat of the world is gone and all anyone can ever think of anymore is love. As unhappy as it may sound, sometimes I wish I could take in all the hurt of everyone who has ever suffered and replace it with something bigger and brighter. I cannot, of course, and I will not force upon myself the impossible attempt of such a lost act but those moments at 3 am when it’s all you want from life- that, and perhaps a little dose of something that will lilt you into giddy sleep- it’s all I can do to keep myself from wishing for something of this sort. A miracle- when you do not believe in God, is impossible to wish for but nothing short of that can save the noise inside me.

And yet through this exhausting alternation between unbending optimism and sickening depths of despair, I feel an utter abandon inside of me- it creates a barrier between me and the rest of the world and very few people ever fully penetrate through it or even try- but this utter abandon, this sense of helpless longing for things I cannot even understand, let alone explain- this is what defines me. It’s what creates all the words that come out of me. So without pain, without despair and hurt I am incomplete and this axiomatic irony leads me towards a sense of justice like a rudder I sometimes wish I didn’t have. I want life without chains, I want my freedom without hovering in this space between nothingness and overwhelming love. I want no labels, no definitions, no judgement. Only endlessness.


books · Fiction · history

Exodus by Leon Uris

Exodus is the story of a nation, built over the blood and sweat of a population that refused to go down in history despite a million atrocities. It’s the story of a young German Jewish girl, separated from her family and a distinguished culture of polished living, sent to foster parents, haunted by the cries of ‘Jew. Jew’ ringing in her ears until she was left with no choice but to face the burden of the truth- she was a Jew and she needed to find her identity. It’s the story of a young boy- a Polish ghetto ‘rat’ who had to grow up too soon when the Germans came and began to round up the Jews for the ‘final solution’- a series of blood-curdling pseudo-scientific experiments and mass extermination programs with no end in site and the Polish people, swept away by hate propaganda watched only in awed silence whilst within the ghettos, the Jewish people organized their own defense using abandoned and out-dated artillery with no outside relief whatsoever. It’s the story of two brother immigrants from the Pale of Russia, who, forced to fled to the promised land of Palestine, put their heart and soul to bringing back to life a barren land they could call home until it was rich with the blood of their labour. It’s the story of an Israeli freedom fighter who was taught to live in war yet longed for peace, watching every day of his life toughen him up from the inside and the out until all that remained inside him was a will to build a nation so peaceful, that Jewish persecution would no longer be a problem. And it’s the story of an American nurse who struggles to understand what defines these people who seem to stop at nothing to fight the world, what makes them love a land so bitter and ruthless and yet their own, what makes them give up everything else and give their lives up for a promise they were never granted but had to seize for themselves.

Exodus by Leon Uris


Exodus is a book that will fill your heart with the magic and love of the stories that induce faith in the minds of people who have nothing else to live with. Broken and beaten- from the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen of the Nazis to the slowly sparkling rage of the Arabs who refused to relinquish the land the Jews built, from the British colonists to Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia- Jewish persecution has been an embittering lesson of murder and suffering as a price for carrying around a dream of deliverance. But when Palestine broke under the surge of the Jews who wanted nothing but a land of their own, the world seethed in flames and wished to extinguish the light that kept these Jews going. They had either lost everything under the siege of the Second World War or had lived for too long with a song on their lips, passed down the centuries, through generations, through all the pain. When Palestine lit up, the Islam world rained down on it and the rest of Europe stood back in fear, abandoning the Jews once more to their own devices.

Exodus is a powerful book written in poetic prose. It can move you to tears with its depiction of cruelty, it can make you question humanity and it can unsettle your soul. The book certainly had a gripping effect on me but the one thing about Exodus that struck me despite the chords it hit was the fact that it was a one-sided account. It cannot be enough to consider the story of Israel without examining it from both sides. The birth of Israel through the eyes of Leon Uris will make you understand, for once, why people seek identities with nations, how they see their lives mirrored in the history of their freedom struggle, why they yearn to belong and how they set out to create futures and establish cultures. Because Exodus is about how nothing else could matter in the face of a brutal thrust for freedom.

Life · Love

22 Candid Life Lessons for 22 Years

Here’s 22 things I’ve picked up in the 22 years it’s taken for me to get here:

1) Follow your head over your heart. Remember that the world is subjected by your prejudices, your perception, your upbringing and your genes. Feelings can often mislead you or cloud your judgement but ruthless logic will take you a long way in figuring out things for yourself.

2) Have cake, not faith. The world will tell you to have faith, not in something concrete or believable that exists before your eyes, but in something you have no way of proving as right or wrong but should follow blindly, just because you’re told to do so. Well don’t! Eat some cake instead.

3) Love shouldn’t be about being heady and letting the world get the best of you. Love is a dangerous game and if you aren’t a player, step off the field. Let the athletes do their thing, be a spectator until you’re sure the plunge is worth it. Don’t let the overrated stories from movies, shows and books swoon you into believing violins will play and lightening will strike when love happens. Love is beautiful but it’s not a continuous, unbroken river. It’s a decision you make every day, it’s an anchor you cast every morning.

4) Most people leave, but most lessons stay. You’re going to interact with a multitude of people in your lifetime and only a handful of them will want you around forever. Some will let you go, others you will let go but whatever lessons they teach you will linger within you forever. These lessons might make you bitter, they might make you resentful and hurt and angry and unlovable and untouchable but at the end of the day, they are all you’ll have. So pick wisely through the traits you want to keep.

5) Love thy parents. Your parents are human beings and as you grow older, you’ll see they aren’t Superman. They have weaknesses too. But the bottom line remains that they gave you everything they could, just for you to have a decent shot at life. They’re never going to want to see you fall. And so you need to remember that as you rush through, they’re right behind you too. Once in a while at least, let them see how much you appreciate them.

6) Be a cloud, not a rock. Float around and dream, don’t stand still and let the pain get the best of you. If there’s something or someone worth fighting for, do it. If there’s something you can change, you should. If there’s somewhere you need to be, take a couple of days off and just go.

7) Don’t think, just do it. There’s always going to be stuff that you’ll just have to do. No ifs and buts, you have to stand in queues, fill forms, commute, shop and pay the bills. Don’t think too much and complicate the things that ought to be easy.

8) You don’t have to be an open book, but you needn’t shut yourself off either. There’s nothing worse than shutting yourself off to everything and everyone. Ask me, I know. People can be hurtful, they can be unbearable and insensitive but for every ten such people you’ll meet, there’ll be that one person with something good to offer you. It could be as simple as someone suggesting a band which could go on to be your new favourite. Whatever it is, people are full of good stuff and the more you let yourself see them, the more of an expert you’ll become at finding the things that you can adopt. And from then on, it’s just smooth going.

9) Do the risky things only with the people you trust. If you’re going to bend the rules a little, make sure you choose your company wisely. It could make all the difference between what makes or breaks you. Everyone will tell you it’s okay, even helpful to shake things up a bit once in a while. Reckless abandon isn’t what you’re aiming for but a few calculated risks may be worth your while. But if you’re with the wrong people, snap! That could be you dangling from a branch that’s about to break off a cliff. Cling to trees with stronger roots.

10) When your life is dark, seek help. Sometimes things become so blue, you might not want to move. Or you might resort to the kind of things that could ultimately destroy you. But before you take a step that you know is harmful for you but you still want to go ahead and take it because you feel that it’s better to hurt the whole wide world by hurting yourself, talk to someone. Seek out a friend or a sibling or a parent. And crazy though this may sound, go see a shrink. It’s not wrong to visit one. You know how you go to a doctor to fix parts of your body? Well your brain is the most complicated organ of your body and if need to see a doctor to help you fix it, go right ahead!

11) Don’t shed people like you shed clothes. Many people are going to get drawn away from you eventually- some due to circumstances, others due to mistakes or misunderstandings. But just remember how everyone’s life is just as hard as your own. It’s not good to hurt for no reason. Send happiness out into the universe instead of pain.


12) Know some history and don’t glorify violence. The history textbooks you read in school may have felt like a waste of time, but here’s a secret of the world: the more you understand history and the way things work, the better you become at being a tolerant and peace-loving human being. History isn’t about memorizing a bunch of dates but about knowing why and how certain people have acted in certain ways through the centuries. What has driven them, what has made them pick a fight or abandon and flee? The more you know, the better you’ll see how sad violence is and how dumb it is to glorify it in any form in your day-to-day lives.

13) Seize the things you need to seize. All good things come to those who wait? This might not be as true as you think it is.Waiting doesn’t always mean something good will come along. You need to be prudent and not complacent in making your life decisions. You need to seize certain opportunities and hope for the best.

14) If you love something let it go…If you hold too tight, you’ll strangle them. You’re afraid they will abandon you if you loosen the leash but the truth is, if they want to abandon you, they’ll simply gnaw through it. It’ll just be harder for both of you in that case, but they will be gone anyway. If you give them the space they need to blossom, they are more likely to realize your importance and stay by your side.

15) Don’t compromise with your integrity and your ethics. Nothing can be worse than being left without your value system intact. It can make you hollow and dead from the inside. Don’t compromise with the things that make you human.

16) Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul. Pay heed to this quote of Charlie Chaplin’s. Don’t let your love be defined by the physical acts you indulge in; rather, let the physical acts be defined by the love you radiate.

17) Keep Hope. Remember the stories the world has to offer about people who stayed hopeful and stayed strong even when the world rained fire and brimstone on them. Follow by example and save a sliver of silver lining for yourself through every dark cloud that you face.

18) Save childhood memorabilia and keep a fond place in your heart for innocence. Life will toughen you up and corrode away your softness but no matter what, never lose touch with the child inside you. The innocence you see in the children around you should remind you of all the good things in the world. The memories you save from your own childhood will open doors of nostalgia that might sweep through you but at times it may be all you have and all you need to stay sane.

19) Be good to those who are good to you. You may be horrible to a lot of people; some unknowingly and others on purpose, but if someone does you a good deed, be sure to pay them back in kind. Even if it’s not in your power to give them something in return, at least don’t ever put yourself in a position where you might end up doing them a bad turn.

20) Find something awesome that defines you and give something back to the universe. As a writer, a painter, an athlete, a dancer, a poet, a quizzer, an orator or a million other things, find something you love. It doesn’t have to be your career and it doesn’t have to be your entire life, but find something that you think is awesome and take time out to do it. It feels like you’re putting something out into the universe when you let yourself fall into a task your body and soul loves until you forget how long you’ve been at it.

21) Listen to music! There’s something for everyone when it comes to music. Find your voice because the right kind of music let’s you be in touch with your soul and it let’s you feel infinite in a way nothing else can. In fact, the right kind of music can open the floodgates to your emotions and sometimes, that’s all you need.

22) It’s okay to cry sometimes. Crying isn’t about being weak; it’s about looking for new ways to be strong. It’s okay to let yourself go with the flow when you’re really upset and you’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel when you’re done.
Life · Love · Poems

A Mother’s Poem

Your little heart is made of gold
I never thought I would meet someone so divine
Your every tiny movement reminds me
Of love and happiness and absolute, unperturbed purity

Your soul is a little white wisp
A thread magically woven into a silver braid adorned with stars
You are pretty but even more so because
You see everything through large eyes full of wonder

Your tiny hands and tiny feet
Tell me how truly blessed I am that you fell into my lap
These tears- why I never knew what value they could have!
It was etched into me that you would forever come to me

Your beautiful, soft fragility
I will protect you with every atom in my body
I don’t think love can be anything but this delightful vulnerability I feel
Every time I hold you close to my chest

Your unending stream of questions
They remind me of something I had once had but lost
You’re the mistress of a castle I’ll build for you with my bare hands
And you’ll sit atop a cloud, float through every dream you desire

When you laugh I imagine little droplets of rain fall from heaven
And every day that you’re with me is a day to be thankful for
I know one day I will wrinkle and fall
But even my last breath will embrace you with a renewed gift of fierce life.

philosophical · Poems


Your black thickening potions
Make me cry rivers of harassed poison ivy
Peering into a spittoon
Dreaming of the minute when disaster strikes
There’s fury in my heart, in my pen
And a ghost

Built through the years like a growing fog
It clouds every pore of my solid being
Digging deeper and creating holes filled to the brim
With the ugliest of passions- consequences of hard, suppressed recollections

There is a ghost and it’s everywhere
Perched on my shoulder it sticks out its tongue
Deathly red and sickened with frenzy
I fight it until I fight it no more
I collapse under the grey dew, under the crescent moon
I sit upright and let death wash over me
I move aside and let the rays beam through me.

Life · Poems


My dear swollen, smitten soul
You are whispering, piteously passing
Glances like a dull, hollow troll.
Trickster! Your sullen sassing
Builds misery in my rotten life
Like hot butter cut by a blunt knife

My dear crooked carousel
You reek of memories hardhearted
Yet baked in hot, squishy caramel
Folly! What black magic have you started
With cards that make me gamble so
In a minute, left with nothing to show

My dear unknown benefactress
You think you are on a level playing field
But this world will cut right through your crest
Alas! Your only miserable shield
Will break against the war path of light
This day will fall without a fight

My dear wizened, wisecracked phases
You’re flooding under a mountain of noise
But the powerful symphony still blazes
Wake up! You don’t have a choice
You will die like an ant crushed under a sole
So fled the world and take your soul.


Daily Challenge

Love · philosophical · Poems

Linger Forever

I linger on your lips
A thought in your head
A forlorn, love-struck thought
A battered, enchanting thought
A splatter of longing and a touch of naivety

I linger in your touch
Like the bristling strokes of a painter’s torn brush
Like the current passing through a dry winter day
Like the waves crashing on the shore and then abandoning it
Like a moment, there and then gone forever

I linger in your breath
Like a sudden blast of cool sea breeze when you travel over the waters
Like the last blow of after-dinner mint after a tall glass of lemonade
Like the night lily lingers in the duskiness

I linger in your arms
Like a lover long-gone with the embrace left cold
Like a tune, half-remembered in the recesses of your mind
Like a symphony so enchanting, you almost cry
Like an emotion so over-powering, you want to die

I linger in the sky
Like a poet’s muse, like the crackers after the celebrations
Like the crusts on your plate, like those destroyed lines of fate
I linger, forever and ever.


Linger- Daily Prompt

Life · philosophical · Poems

I’m Falling

I’m falling, perhaps because there is no bottom to this pit.
I’m falling, perhaps because everything I thought was true isn’t. And everything I thought wasn’t true, is.
I’m turning in my sleep and I call out but I don’t know who is supposed to hear me
I wake up in the middle of the night, turn my head from side to side to find some comfort in my pillow but it ends up hurting me
I turn towards my phone in the dark; the emptiness is overwhelming. It’s squeezing me
I’m falling and then there is no ray of sunshine left to turn to.
I’m falling and it feels as though the fire will consume me.
I’m falling and the air is still, silent with the ringing of the dead that haunt the night.
I’m falling and the endless murky waters pull me under
And I’m just falling…

Crossroads? Every single day feels like one as of now. I think every time I step out of the door, I embrace something new. I think I’m changing from inside me. I’m not afraid and I’ve never been this fearless before and it’s scary too. I’m a bundle of contradictions but maybe that’s a good thing. Even if it isn’t, it’s the way I am right now and that should be good enough too, shouldn’t it?

Movies · philosophical

Movie Review- Queen

Once in a while a movie comes along like a blast of refreshing air. It’s so progressive, so piercing and so delightful that you gush on about it for hours. Queen is one such movie. Make-up-free, item-song-less and yet so seductive it could make your eyes pop out, Queen is the story of today’s girl. It’s a story of everything it takes for an Indian woman to muster her strength to build a dream and everything it then takes for her to throw it all into the dumpster the day she’s decides to get married. But it is also the story of everything it takes for her to earn it all back and learn to stand on her own two feet, alone. Most importantly, in the male-dominated, masala world of commercial Indian cinema, Queen is the tale of the brutally honest force that throbs in the heart of every woman.

Rani is getting married. She’s very excited about it. Who wouldn’t be? It’s pepping up to be one of those fat Indian Punjabi weddings we hear so much about. With a thousand questions in her head, she’s most excited about her ‘honeymoon’. She’s wanted to go to Paris and stand at the Eiffel Tower, hand-in-hand with her fiance (who would then be her husband) and she’s been saving up for it. And she’s also going to lose her virginity. Her friend teases her about it freely, when they’re alone together. Yes girls do it too.

But then he calls her and says, living abroad has changed him. Marriage is off the table. She begs him to marry her, to stay.

‘Who else will ever marry me?’ she asks but he’s adamant and he doesn’t want a ‘scene’ at the local CCD. He says he’ll call her and sends her away. But he never does.

Jilted, Rani still wants to go on her ‘honeymoon’ to Paris. She is vulnerable, innocent, naive and oblivious but it doesn’t matter. She’s a woman and she has made a decision to do something on her own

Alone in France, without knowing the language and with a broken splattering of English on her tongue, Rani manages to check into the hotel where she was supposed to stay as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Mehra’. And with a bed creaking next door with loud love noises emitting through the adjoining wall, just like that she befriends Vijay Lakshmi- a French waitress who is half Indian, who has sex with whoever she wants to and whenever, who has a son and lives alone, who dances in the streets and kisses strangers, knocks off her bras in the restrooms of pubs and then goes out there to jiggle with her friends and is entirely unabashed about it. For Rani, something like this is a first because even when she takes off her jacket and swings it into the air, she makes sure to stuff it into her over sized bag before deciding to dance.

And through flashbacks, we slowly see how her fiance had been that quintessential dominating man we often encounter- after wooing her with the cheapest, cheesiest lines, he feels like he then possesses her- you don’t need to work, why were you dancing like that in there with so many men watching, don’t you know how embarrassed it makes me.

Away from it all, these flahses come back to haunt her. She tells people, ‘my fiance left me’ but on the inside, she is starting to toughen up. She’s starting to be her own person.

Her journey then takes her to Amsterdam where the only lodgings she gets is in a room with three men. An Indian movie showing a girl sharing a room with three men and no sex? How bad-ass is that! Because these aren’t booty-hogging, lusty sexual predators. They’re just men who paint about world issues on every wall, who sing with their hearts and who put on a funny front despite their personal hardships. In the end they’re just men you can be friends with, because you can be friends and nothing more with men.

Living in the same room, Rani discovers this and more as she shares a bathroom with them- brushing their teeth together every morning in front of the mirror becomes a ritual but there are no leering glances, just plain comradeship. What would her parents say is something she dismisses from her head because she’s a modern woman.

An Italian man who inspires her to cook, a visit to a kinky sex toys store and to Amsterdam’s shadier neighborhood, a run in with a French mugger. This movie has everything that’ll make potbellied fifty-year-olds and good-for-nothing Roadside Romeos cringe at the same time.

But it’s a story about a woman- without stripping or sexy clothes or elegance. Just a story about how she’s normal. In oversized tees, on the streets, in a bar, at a rock concert. Queen is a liberation.

Kangana Ranaut is the lifeline of this film but it has a great supporting cast. A brilliant movie every Indian must see! Because no matter what we say, no matter how far we come- this movie will show you how much we’re still longing for. How much is still left unsaid and undone. And how most of it is just plain old happiness, without the need to make sex symbols out of every woman on every street corner.