I was living with my past in the same house. As I looked at myself in the mirror I saw a reflection of me. Sounds funny right? Whose reflection would I see if not mine? But this was only for me. I am Raina Rajveer Singhania, wife of the millionaire Sameer Singhania happily blessed with two kids and living a life which was touted as "paradise" for the world. But I was still empty, the void inside me could not be filled by any "paradise", let alone this one. Now you may think 'Why is she being ungrateful?' Its funny because even I don't have an answer for that... I'm not able to make peace with my past and a part of me doesn't want to.
I want to go back to the day this all started. The day my twin sister died- 31st December last year. My sister and I went out for lunch, just another normal day for us. We wanted to go shopping, eat at our favorite restaurant and just spend some time together. As we sat in the car after a good long day, my sister remembered that she had left something behind. "I'll just be back in a while yeah?," she said and started walking. I switched on the radio but the first thing I heard was a loud sound...the sound of a truck hitting my sister. The truck stood motionless in front of her almost lifeless body. But, the driver jumped out and ran for his life. There was a huge crowd around her but they were of no comfort. They just stood there for a minute or so, took in the tragedy and walked away. I couldn't process what had just happened. In just a blink of an eye, my sister had been thrown off her high of laughter and fun.
I sat down and held her limp hand, begged for somebody to help us. My hands were shivering and I had no idea of what to do. I started to reach for my phone, but my eyes were drawn towards her as she started mumbling. I still had hope and I wished for these to not be her last words. "Please make sure nobody knows about this. My family needs me. Promise me that you'll make them feel alright." She held my hand tighter. As the words left her pale lips, her eyes started closing and her dry mouth that had more to say closed too. I was so helpless and perplexed. I didn't know whether I should make my sisters wish come true or tell her family the truth and not deceive them. I didn't have much time to do anything. This was the decision that would change my life. A decision that had to be made quickly.
We were both the same, if not for our names nobody could ever differentiate between us. I knew what I had to do. And before I could even look back and think, I was in her shoes. I put her in the car and wore her jacket, her watch that I had gifted her and her shoes...the rest weren't important. I took the body home and comforted everyone. From the press to relatives and every other person in the city everyone knew that it was me who was no more. Almost every person who came over cried and spoke about all the memories they spent with me. I felt bad to not have anyone by my side and tell them how I was feeling about this.
I wanted them to speak good about her, she was a gem of a person. She deserved it especially at her funeral. The voices inside my head were telling me to yell and tell everyone "I'M STILL ALIVE. I'M NOT DEAD." Never had I imagined that I'd attend my own funeral. They were mourning for me, who was alive standing right in front of them. I didn't want any of this. I cried even harder. The body was kept in the middle of the living room and all I did was stand near a pillar right opposite it. Every time I looked there it was like I saw a reflection of me. The more I saw the body more it reminded me that it seemed like me. I knew that if I stood there for a long time I wouldn't be able to handle it. But I had too. Until the body was taken. I took a glance at everyone in the room I really felt guilty for not telling them the truth. Telling them that it was Raina who passed away but I couldn't break my promise.
As the body was taken, my body went numb and the next thing I remember from that day is waking up the next morning next to Sameer comforting me. "Hope youre feeling better now, you fainted last evening. I'm sorry that we had to take the body and couldn't wait for you to regain consciousness. The doctor had told us to not wake you up," he said while holding my right hand. I slowly slipped my hand from his and said "Its okay. I understand."
As I stood in front of the mirror, reminiscing about that incident. My flow of thought was broken when I felt Sameers hand around my waist and he asked "Why aren't you ready yet? Let's go down now the guests are waiting for us." I could tell from his touch now, I knew it was him. Those thoughts that were making me feel so empty were gone again. I had to behave normal. I turned around and said "I still need to put some makeup on and open your gift. So you go, I'll come". I locked the door after he left and opened my gift and saw a pretty red lehenga. It was Raina's favorite color, but little did he know that mine was black. I put on my smile that I had been practising for a year now thinking it would come off perfectly today without me trying to.
As I walked down, I saw him waiting for me at the end of the stairs stretching out his hand for me with a smile. I could see how much he loved her. This time I gave in my hand without slipping it back. He whispered into my ear, "I hope you liked your surprise. I told you I'd remember that your favorite color was red." "Oh yes, I absolutely loved it," I replied without even a second thought. It had been year since she passed away or should I say "I" passed away. And I was still living two lives. One in front of the world and one by myself. While I was thinking about all this, the fireworks started bursting, the room was filled with laughter and bright smiles. Everyone was wishing me "Happy New years" and raising a glass to "new beginnings." But, it was only me, Tania Rajveer who wasn't able to let go off myself.
The Game Changer
Art and design by: Rida Khanam
A demon tells you, you are fat, ugly and worthless. And the scary part is the demon is your own voice. We start feeling ashamed of ourselves because of what other people will say or think. But one thing we forget is that no matter what, we will be judged. This shouldn't stop any of us from being who we are just to be accepted.
Everyday we see several posts on how we should be respecting people of different shapes and sizes, articles on both men and women feeling ashamed of their body. Quotes likes, "Don't judge a person by their looks," and advertisements of fairness products. On one side where there are motivational talks given on how to be yourself and stand out, the other side shams a person for the same reason. Without even realising how it can affect an individual, society has formed it's own definition of being "beautiful" which every single person wants to fit in.
This article is about how each of us are constantly being judged for our looks, how it affects us, and what we should do to come out of this.
I recently took part in this inter school fashion event called Project Runway and the theme given to us was "Forever Emboldened". So my team members and I decided to narrate a journey of a girl who is demeaned in society for various reasons. We wanted to give emphasis on a topic that is neglected because it isn't taken so seriously.
We divided the dress into layers with each of them passing out a strong message.
▪The first layer was about how social media can play a vital role in making someone feel worthless with just a simple use of a hashtag.
▪The next layer shows us her hopelessness and how shattered she feels because of the constant criticism.
▪The third layer was all about how she comes out of this vicious cycle for fitting in this definition of being "perfect". The use of ravens and a dream catcher shows how she finds a passion which makes her feel good about herself in her own way. With a good support system and self esteem she is able to overcome her mental state of brokenness.
▪The last and final layer of the dress represented how she remains confident and proud of who she is, through a silhouette of a girl standing on top of the mountain and feeling motivated by her dreams with the beginning of a new dawn she is ready to conquer the world.
Our main message was to make everybody understand that being "beautiful" according to societies demands can be difficult. So we need to learn to accept our flaws and live with it because none of us can be perfect. Also remember that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. You are not how people define you. None of the comments or labels put on by others should affect you in any way because eventually you learn to live with your demon. You learn to live with yourself.
My really good friend Avani Thakkar who is a style blogger will give you her views on the dress. Do check her blog out
I waited at the airport lounge with a cup of strong black coffee, I smirked at the thought that two months ago I couldn’t stand the smell of it because now I couldn’t do without it. It was all those sleepless nights I had been having in the last few months… I needed something to keep me alive.
My phone was vibrating constantly but I didn’t bother to even glance at it, hundreds of ‘heartfelt’ sorry texts from people who once meant the world to me. Not anymore, though. I was smarter than that. I find it so amusing how these people that didn’t ever really care for me back when it actually counted, didn’t want me to leave now.
I “Had” always had this tendency of making people my priority and putting their happiness above mine… I did the exact same thing for him. I accepted all his flaws, took decisions for the betterment of our lives together, tried to keep everything in place and not lose that spark in our life. But for him? It never was the same. Even the smallest of smallest things that I’d loved about myself, were a problem when it came to him. And soon enough, I saw myself in the eyes of how he started to describe me. What he claimed to love about me before was now an insecurity for him and a weakness for me. While my eyes lit up talking about my plans to explore new cuisines, music, and different cultures, he simply shrugged and called them ‘boring’. While I loved my coffee with sugar and he loved it strong. They say opposites attract. It’s true, it happened. But while I adjusted to it, he compromised. I was ready for it, no matter what ‘It’ was but I wanted him to be ready to, I wanted him to say it, or at least show it… But I never got that.
It is said that one must leave when the time comes before it gets too late. It was that time now. I was suffocated, living in that house now, with the same old boring him who nagged, taunted and was almost jealous of all my traits. It was enough. I wanted to live my life the way I liked, the way I had imagined. But in order for that to happen, there was only one thing I could do. Cutting those ties was the only solution I had left, and definitely my hardest decision. But I knew this would benefit the two of us, I wasn’t just thinking about myself.
I was leaving this country and heading for a new beginning. By the time I had risen from my string of thoughts, my “strong black coffee” was cold. I heard the announcement for my flight. I picked myself up, threw the cup in the bin and switched my phone off. That one click of a button erased my past in seconds,I stepped into the flight and took a seat. A few minutes into the flight, the air hostess asked for my order, and without a thought, I said “A strong black coffee, please”.
Art by Rida Khanam
Monday mornings are one thing everyone dislikes,this mutual hate doesn't have any barrier any and everybody joins the bandwagon. One thing that brings people together is their hate to wake up on a Monday morning. A lot of us have problems waking up. Opening your eyes, turning to the right side and then pulling yourself up by itself becomes the warm up before the workout. It feels like you've been jailed and have to follow a routine timetable,there's no motivation in life it feels miserable(okay I might be exaggerating over here) but some of you might agree with me that your mood for the day depends on how you wake up. Especially after pulling an all nighter because you had to complete that PPT for your boss, finish that 2000 word essay because the time limit would end the next morning.
It does become tiring to just even wake up. But these are only some of the small problems before the real one's hit you unexpectedly without even an "important message" or an "urgent phone call" it happens before you even think about it. That's when things go out hand and then you begin to raise questions. Like the most popularly used ones being "Why me?","What did I do to deserve this?" So before you fall in this hole of self pity all you need is a bit of perspective.
When you're stuck and find no way out,sit down think for a while and then decide for yourself. Think of the tough situation and use this as a game changer to piece yourself together.
■ Tell yourself that everyday is a Monday morning because you HAVE to wake up without any given choice,
■ Give yourself a talk and some self motivation and THAT becomes your workout for the day before it starts,then don't worry because the end of this game isn't too far. It won't be that difficult if you've done your best at the stages before.
■You then deal with the "tough situation" with responsibility, dignity and a lot of hardwork. Let me make it simpler, just think as if the deadline is approaching you and the boss is waiting for your work so with that nervousness you'll make sure you finish it the right way without cheating and being truthful to him/her. The problem then gets solved and the tough situation is dealt with just like how the deadline is over and your work gets submitted. Except the real game changer happens when you find out that the game can be won in the first stage itself by being your own boss.
Art and Video shot by Rida Khanam
It was a really long and exhausting day at work. I called Papa up and told him that I'd be late and that he shouldn't wait for me. It was becoming a routine now, I was busy with work and he used to reach home early. He always had this habit of calling me at least five times during the day. Once when he used to reach his office, the second time was to ask if I had my lunch, then again when he reached home and the other two would depend on his mood. Today I only got one call. "Try coming home early alright? It's been affecting your health these days. Even if you can't... don't worry, I'll wait for you. Just don't hurry and drive the car fast." I replied in a second and said,"Yes Papa I know. I'm busy with work now I'll see you at home!" I didn't know why this call seemed very different. I hadn't been able to understand his voice today, usually, I know whether he's happy or if there's something wrong. It seemed like he was hiding something. I didn't know what it was but I wanted to.
I finished all my work and went back home. I had forgotten to take my spare keys in the rush I was in the morning. I knocked on the door and waited. There was no response. I knocked harder and the door opened slightly. I realized it hadn't been locked. So I pushed it open and went inside. Papa's favorite TV program was on and there was an unfinished meal on the table. There were a lot of thoughts in my head so I quickly ran to his bedroom and saw him sleeping. I was so relieved to see him in a good state. I put my bag down and tiptoed to his bed so that he wouldn't wake up. I covered the blanket on his legs and then before I even sat down next to him I saw him turn and say,"Oh you're here!", "Yes papa," I said in a very low and embarrassing voice.
I didn't know how to face him now because I knew exactly why he felt this way and what was happening. Papa had always asked me for one thing, it was my time. From when I was 16 to when I've become 26 the only thing he always wanted from me was my company. But things never went that way as I started growing older, it ended up with me coming home late because of events, spending too much time on the laptop or phone or just generally being out. I didn't even realise what I was missing out on. When I was young he left his best job offer because he wanted to hold my hand and help me take my first steps. Skipped his events and lunches with clients just so that he could attend my parent teacher meeting in school or even a dance competition I took part in. Opt for a day shift so that he could take me out on a night drive. He always did this without expecting anything in return but I knew what he really wanted.
Even if he had to go visit the doctor alone, spend some sleepless nights waiting for me to reach home after work. He never stopped me working instead he was my constant support, the person who I could rely on. However, today I realised that I had failed. I had failed in understanding what he really wanted. I could justify myself and say that I focused on working hard for him so that I could someday miss my meeting and take him out for a drive. Buy him a lavish house, his dream car and the other finer things in life just so that he feels proud of me and gets something back in return for what he provided me with. Now, it was my chance. He didn't want anything which would put me through so many troubles and struggles instead it was something very simple. Our roles had been reversed now. It was my chance to give him my 'Time'.