Our collective conscience is dead as a nation. There was once an India, a land lauded for being a beacon of democracy where the rule of the law and freedom of expression reigned supreme. The female form of Goddesses is worshipped in temples. The girl child is revered as Kanya, where prayers are offering in honoring her for being close to Goddesses. Temples are sacred.
We woke up to the brutal murder of little Ashifa, a tribal girl ruthlessly gang-raped and murdered where not a single voice rose when the gruesome crime was committed. We have mutilated the soul of a rosy little girl who must have seen in grown-up men, father figures, and brothers, a protector who would shield her from evil. A child sees the goodness in people. An 8-year-old knows nothing about physical violence, evil ways of this world and perhaps was alien to twinkling stars in the sky, expensive frocks city kids wear, toys, race, and her body. It was not her age. Perhaps, the poverty or simplicity of leaving a peasantry life didn’t allow her to dream in the small town of Kathua. She had her horses for company. I try hard to think about the sheepish smile on her face, trotting with her friends the animals and running to her ammi for food. At this age, little Ashifa was unaware of the challenges faced by her community or what it means to be a Muslim, rich or poor, prejudices or hatred.
We have bruised every child in this nation and in the vast sea of humanity. I dread that no child will ever trust the adults that we are and it’s horrendous to see half of the world on Twitter justifying this heinous crime or come up with their whataboutery. Breaking the trust of a young child is the worst of crime that we could ever imagine and that too in the name of Lord Ram. What do we see? A group of hyper-nationalists lawyers shouting Jai Shri Ram, politicians of the ruling party and the Bar Council in J & K indulging in mudslinging to side with the rapists. What are we becoming as a nation? The law is being violated. It’s not a question of Congress or BJP. The Congress Party hasn’t done better in the recent past nor condemned the two rapes in Kathua and UP immediately when it came in the public domain. The guilty silence of Congress leaders playing politics and soft Hindutva led to Rahul Gandhi issuing a statement, buckling under popular pressure or some of their members siding with fringe Hindu extremist group in the attempt to protect the rapists was an eyesore.
Better not speak about BJP, a party famous for using muscle power with their RSS friends to come up with insensitive remarks on the child growing to become a terrorist or a banker under the extremist Hindu ideology celebrating the death before he was fired. Our own Prime Minister who never misses an opportunity to thump his chest on clicking a selfie with daughter or the beti bachao campaign went into silent mode. It’s only very late that he made a statement condemning the rape but cut a sorry figure. Following his landslide victory, the first time I saw Narendra Modi emasculated and unconvincing for the guilt was wearing thin on him. The Unnao rape case in the land of Ajay Bisht-Yes I call him that. He is no yogi and time not to make Mahatmas or Yogis out of tainted politicians. Cases were withdrawn against one of his minister on the ground of alleged rape or the time taken to arrest Kuldip Sengar, the BJP MP pushes us to ask several questions. Why so much time was taken? This man should have been dragged and handcuffed at the first instance. The biggest tragedy is the father of Unnao being tied, beaten to death and humiliated to death in a police station. Is this what the people have asked?!
Oh! The silence of BJP women ministers cushioned in their ivory towers, right from Sushma Swaraj to Smriti Irani is telling with Meenakshi Lekhi, the BJP spokesperson who went on an insensitive rant questioning protests and playing the communal case referring to several other rape cases. Madam! A rape is a rape. Certainly, not sane voices are condoning rape happening in every nook-and-corner of India except your blind supporters wearing the Hindutva blinkers and little Ashifa and Unnao belong to the obscure places in the country which don’t make headline news.
The bigger question that we should ask ourselves: What happens after the candle vigilantes to protest rape and should every crime taking place whittle down to the urban landscape? The class divide can be and is evident. Media has a huge part to play in the way coverage is given to crime against women or young children. Why should it make us fume three months after the child was brutally murdered? Just because it doesn’t fit with the high-class narrative. Some media channels have much to answer and they got no right to pass the buck where we have seen them preaching hatred openly against a particular community. From every Muslim is a terrorist to label minorities enemies of the state, the rabble-rousers are making the country sit on a ticking bomb which is bound to explode anytime. Sad that many of us didn’t see it coming and the hatred spread at decibel volume at prime time was designed to brainwash the minds of people who have just one opium, religion or for that matter, saffronization of the Indian state. Tragic that an innocent child had to pay a heavy price. There are many children like her, unnamed and voices stifled in dark alleys where the latest is the gruesome rape in Gujarat. Yes, right Gujarat!
The right-wing trolls in the garb of hate activism on social media channels have spewed venoms in celebrating the rape of an innocent child. The vilest crime ever committed by scum bags sinking lower and lower. As far as critics saying that the whole issue is being politicized or being made on religious ground, it has been in the first instance when politicians took part in a rally to protect the perpetrators of the crime. First, the entire rape was planned in Kathua since the girl’s family belonged to the poor tribal Muslim family, Bakerwal whom the proponents of Hindutva agenda wanted to displace. Second, the soul of a child was violated making her family walking 8 km from her homeland to be cremated which is the extreme of torture and harassment. Would you still argue that there is no communalization of the crime? How much hate can be spilled that we cannot spare an innocent life? Yes! She was murdered for being a Muslim. Period.
As far as asking, why Ashifa and not someone else? The child has become a symbol for entire India and rape victims in the country or the Hindu Talibanisation core agenda in say no to the usurpation of the constitution. I am a Hindu and not in my name, haters should commit a crime on defenseless children just by chanting the name of Lord Rama or yelling Bharat Mata ki Jai. It’s the biggest insult ever done to the Indian tricolor and religions. The sanctity of the temple has been violated. An irony, the temple’s name is Devi Sthan and we have killed the Devi.
Let’s not call Ashifa, ‘daughter of India’. We are doing a disservice to this tender soul killed in the flower bud. The staunchest defenders of the criminals who don’t deserve to live or voices went silent are as guilty as the rapists. Is this the new India with the ruling power’s desperate attempts to do cover up and protect criminals? Is this the change that people asked for in 2014? There is no point of clicking selfie with a daughter or the smug Beti Bachao campaign. Make no illusion, it’s Beti Uthao.
A relatable face on Indian television, Priyamvadda Sawannt wooed and won hearts of fans on the small screen playing the girl next door Simran in Meri Doli Tere Angana. The year was 2007 when the young actor captured the imagination and love of the nation in sitcoms like Bhabhi and Antariksh. One may argue that playing Simran was her calling card in the world of Indian television as the lead actor. It’s been an interesting journey for the actress who has won laurels, critical acclaim and recently bagged the Best actress Gold Award for ‘You and Me’ at the Virgin Spring Cine Fest and the Global Independent Film Awards in 2018. The short film ‘Adhure Poore se Hum’ whose English name is ‘You and Me’ has won several international awards and critical acclaim not just in India but spanning across the globe.
First break, early days and acting aspirations:
Describing herself as a Mumbaichi Mulgi, the Andheri born and Dombivali-hailed Priyamvadda was raised in the hurly-burly city of Mumbai which she calls her ‘jaan’, a place which catches humans in the raw. “In college, I was keen to walk the ramp since modeling has always occupied my mind and took part in several inter-college fests. While ads were something that I was always wanted to do but soon realized the need to not only learn but hone my acting skills is a life-long process,” the young actor quips.
While doing her BA in Sociology at VG Vaze College in Mulund, it saw her genesis sitting in acting workshops helmed by the revered theatre guru, playwright and the late veteran actor Satyadev Dubey -Ji and Rekha Sabnis-ji. “The workshops helped me to grab the main lead in a play directed by Rekha-Ji which was a great learning experience to understand the intricacies of acting. I was also part of acting workshops helmed by Chandrakant Kulkarniji and Waman Kendre-Ji,” she says.
“It’s been a beautiful journey as a model and an actor laden with struggle as life is a mixture of everything under the sun which prepares you for challenges in the profession. Struggle is part and parcel of life for if there is stagnancy, decay creeps in. Every single day is an ongoing challenge that keeps one on the toes and the struggle is a constant reminder to keep learning and believing in the adage of being an actor till I breathe,” she says.
Priyamvadda who also holds a post-grad degree in advertising secured her first break modeling for Liberty shoes, the ad which she believes was an awesome experience swaying to a small dance sequence and a challenge completed successfully.
Being Simran, good content vs hit shows
Playing Simran on the popular telly show, Meri Doli Tere Angana came into her kitty as a surprise and at first, thought was a prank call played by someone. She says, “I didn’t approach anyone for the show. I was relaxing at home and thinking about work one day when the phone suddenly buzzed. Someone called Shivani from Zee TV approached me and they happened to see the audition rushes that I gave to play the main lead in one of the shows which didn’t work out. I was elated thinking, ‘bhagwaan ke ghar der hain ander nahin naaji.’ Priyamvadda says with playfulness on her first stab in playing the leading role on TV.
The down-to-earth actor believes that irrespective of the medium or language, be it Marathi or Hindi, good content is always lapped by the audience and it is a great feeling to be part of meaty projects.
Today, there is a hue-and-cry on the state of Indian television, unlike the glorious 90s where strong content was churned and rifled with powerful roles sketched for actors. The down-to-earth Priyamvadda says, “I strongly believe that the audience’s taste has changed over times since in the past, shows were considered as milestones on TV. The Doordarshan days was marked by thinking minds where people were not like Priya Tendulkar’s Rajni chal padi toh follow the trend. People never followed trends in the heydays.”
“The past is the past which we should never hang on to. We must be able to think differently and nurture novel thoughts that will benefit society. The show, ‘Turning Point’ in the 90s that saw a few episodes hosted by Mahesh Bhatt was a landmark in Indian television’s history. Unfortunately, we don’t want to try novel things and today, many directors are making short films which are not seen by many people.”
For the actor, TV channels must consider giving one hour slot dedicated to new filmmakers that will pave the way for creating the platform to usher quality shows. She rues, “Everyone is desperate for hit shows and the attitude is to mint money which seems to be the sole reason they are in the business. Agree that we should all eke a living but that shouldn’t be the sole consideration, right!”
Priyamvadda says with a whiff of reason, “The first reason to be here is creativity in business but unfortunately we lack the conviction to make good work. We have become trend followers rather than trend setters and remixes is given prominence rather than trying to be uniquely creative. I am not saying everyone but most of us lack patience where our lives are tamed by 2 minutes maggi noodles be it TV or films which is the mirror image of society.”
She believes the entire thing whittle down to the way children are brought up in society to become doctors or engineers in this mad rush to make the moolah where creativity goes for a toss. “The most important thing is to be good human beings, instilling the right values in the mind to be able to lead a good life. Ultimately money will come. Our work reflects our values and injecting the right attitude will go a long way to make India the country we want it to be with less corruption in every sphere of life, not just films,” the actor avers.
Shows and films must be loaded with rich content that bears the imprint of great minds showcasing values like honesty as the pathway to success, she says. “Core strength in creating characters will make roles serving as reference points in future and it’s a challenge for great thinkers embarking upon it to overcome the tide.”
Hard work and perseverance always pay:
Priyamvadda Sawant is on a roll and her performance in Adhure Poore Se Hum has forced critics to sit and take notice with several awards such as Gold and the globally renowned GIFA Film Awards as best actress in 2018 coming her way. The actor says with a twinge of humility and philosophy, “It is very encouraging and important for your work as an artist to be hailed looking at the portrayal that won hearts. It’s the happiest feeling on earth and is an emotional high for me, Mile toh bhi acha na mile toh mehnat jaari karo kal miljayega. The most important thing is to have faith and be a better version as a human being.”
The Mrigank Dubey directed Adhure Poore se Hum has played an important role to boost the prospects of Priyamvadda where she lends credence by portraying various shades of acting. The versatile actor muses, “Such a beautiful question on the role that the film played in my career but tricky as well. See, it’s all about showbiz and talent but also good PR. I am yet to share the good news on Facebook or Instagram which is as bad per the film dictionary or showbiz bible since social media is important in today’s times. “Frankly speaking, the awards and recognition garnered on me as an actor have not yet been announced and not many know about it…“Toh abhi casting ho gayee hai awards ki bas telecast baaki hai.” The effortless gaze and ubiquitous charm with which she effortlessly switches from English into Hindi makes Priyamvadda at her natural best.
Bagging Adhure Poore se Hum:
On the outset, Priyamvadda considers herself lucky to bag Adhure Poore se Hum whose English name is You and Me that happened at a film fest where she says the maker Mrigankji approached her after liking her role in ‘God Knows’ which was also a love story. “I am thankful to my director and the creative team who strongly felt that I would do justice to the role. It was love at first sight after listening to the narration, fabulous dialogues coupled with both script and screenplay that made it easier for me to perform and emote on screen.
The dearth of funds shouldn’t deter filmmakers in exploring fresh and path-breaking subjects where perhaps crowdfunding can play a major role in executing good cinema on screen, she says. “It’s quite interesting to witness the power and support of commoners pitching through crowdfunding and case in point is the 2011 small budget film, I AM bagging the national award which showcases the need for all of us to explore novel ideas that will help pave the way for the new wave of cinema for the audience. Such brand of cinema should not only be nurtured at home but globally when we look at the slew of recognition, awards and accolades doled on‘You and Me’ that was selected under the short films category at the 71st Cannes Festival.” The short film also won big at the Calcutta International, Mindfield, Remi Film Awards, Cult Critic Movies awards, La Short Film Awards New York and City Indie Fest Awards.
Challenges of being an actor:
For Priyamvadda, the most challenging aspect of being an actor is to keep trying and striving till success doesn’t kiss one’s feet. Her motto is, ‘Acting till I am alive’ which not only showcase her mettle but an unrelenting passion for the craft. “I am always looking forward to delivering a good performance in doing quality and not quantity work,” she ostensibly says.
The actor who has modeled for numerous leading brands such as Kalash Oil, Vanita Mag, Amul and Tata Indicom believes that ads wield a huge power on society. “At the end of the day, it whittles down to both positive and negative aspects where perhaps propaganda in a positive way is downplayed to sell the product. Unknowingly, advertising helps to make up your mind in buying a product and this is what makes it so big.”
Films, theatre and small screen:
Being someone who has dabbled in various genres right from movies to ads, serials,and plays, it makes contrasting nuances for an actor to deliver. Priyamvadda says: “The difference lies in the various mediums while preparing for roles and in plays, for instance, there are several rehearsals but at the same time, the actor faces the string walks of no retakes. Performances in plays and screen differ since in the former, the actor should be audible to the person sitting at the last row while performing on the top whose voice should reach everyone. It’s the golden rule.”
“Serials bear a sharp contrast that carries a vice versa technique but the places shown makes the actor’s performance important as much as getting into the character’s skin. Put simply, the protagonist should always follow the writer’s and director’s vision that goes a long way in visualizing the character on paper that gets translated on the screen making it quite an interesting medium,” she says.
With this bang on attitude and passion, Priyamvadda Sawant is sure to tick off her bucket list while experimenting with various roles and pushing the envelope a notch higher to prove her versatility.
Dense foliage ruffled in the dark and fluttered at intermittent burst. Thud! Ballistic gunshots exploded in the air and tiny fire sparkles triggered the wolves leaping at a fleeting pace resembling spaceships zooming like electric waves. Tiny dotted lights flashed in the deserted night and carcasses were flung in the air to pop inside the famished mouths of the bloodthirsty animals whose faces spelled fear.
The pack of wolves skulked to the trace of blood drop slithered on the faces. The scent of an invisible flesh and lifeless skin slipped down the alley to float inside the iced water. The fearless animals splashed inside the water, tearing apart the cake flesh into tiny pieces and gush of blood seeped inside the stormy icy lake. The invisible flesh at the tip of dark disappeared. Splinter of gunshots ballooned in the air which distracted the wolves, oscillating the bodies’ right and left at swift round to follow the movement in the forest.
A flash in the pan moment captured the senses of the fierce animals trudging and thrusting their huge meaty bodies inside the forest, crawling to catch the enemy storming their territory. No human could dare to wander freely inside the vast expanse of forest rightly guarded and belonging to the terrifying creatures. The fur grew thick and battling the sudden rush of cold to conquer the demons playing havoc on their lives. Angry howls put to rest the thunder boiling in the sky. Every inch of the vast land sprawled from one end to the other was surveyed with the minutest detail to tear asunder vile forces daring to play with the force of nature.
The eerie silence stood helpless to the angst of wolves pack slowly growing into huge numbers and running in different directions to chase the intruder creeping silently to wreck the peaceful night. A bizarre night stretched endlessly. The trap was laid.
Huge forest roiled and swayed to the whims of the hurricane blowing widely as the mammoth trees twisted, bent and fell on the harrowing ground. The wolves flipped and jumped past the trees on the trail of the shadow slipping away from their sharp senses. It was now or never. Hot and violent blood chasing a nameless force. The thunder subsided into silence.
An unidentified body floated in the river. Flesh calcified in the pack of ice on the rocky terrain. The security guard who knows the wolves and forests at the tip of his finger disappeared since a couple of days. Search was on. No trace of wolves, the protector of forests. It was strange. The newspaper typed the headlines, ‘Pack of wolves found dead, security guard missing.’
The article that made the front page read: The biggest forest in the country witnessed a dark secret that seems to be an impossible task to unearth. A skeleton snuggled between the ice. One cannot say that the wolves ravaged the security guard who has been missing for days. The wolves are dead and lying in a sea of dried blood in the scorching summer. Who did it? The entire forest has been ravaged with fire and still, no alarm bell was raised. We just lost signal with our reporter and hope to bring you on the ground information when the signal is retrieved. Inputs with bureau report.
The childhood friend’s birthday treat came as a surprise. No fancy cake, bundle of alcohol bottles or wild party. I didn’t even know that it was his birthday last Monday and getting caught into the humdrum of routine tasks in life takes away the small things away from us. We take our relationships for granted, too often.
He messaged me on Sunday asking about my plans for the next day and told about the beach outing with his wife and two-year-old munchkin. No slightest hint about the birthday. We get set on the day in his swanky BMW and reached the idyllic resort which he booked and sea facing, sitting at the hut having gorgeous food and exquisite wine. As we spoke about everything under the sun, N casually mentioned about the birthday and not without betting that I didn’t know about it. Thing is that he never told me or might have in childhood but got lost in translation. We spoke about everything under the sun, life, career and how he changed over the years. I have a knack for remembering so many small anecdotes and he feels it’s terrific to recall about mundane things or simple anecdotes. We both grew up in middle-class homes in the 90s when there was no access to computer, forget the internet and how out parents slogged to ensure we get meals or study. He was always a front-runner in academics and extremely proud to see him shining in life. He deserves all the success for I have known him as a shy guy but who was always dedicated, diligent, and hardworking. Today, he is a leading banker but who never forgot friends or people.
It touches my heart how N has been able to stay so grounded and stay true to his roots, not changing an ounce as a person. The person chooses to spend his birthday and inviting me to be part of his lovely family when he could have spent the special day in the company of his closed ones. The toddler is an enthusiastic young girl and we spoke how in our, life flitted like the sea breeze. In no time, the little one will one day travel to explore her dreams, go to university and soar. Somehow, I just let off about not being able to witness the blooming of the little monster who was having the time of her life, prancing on the beach and disappeared away from our glares. We spotted her in time. Honestly, I don’t know why death suddenly popped out of my mouth that I may not be here at that time in future. Perhaps, life is so uncertain that makes me aware of existence and having seen so many people, including friends passing away suddenly led this thought of not seeing tomorrow. As we grow old, we tend to worry about not living enough to witness each other’s joy. He asked, where I shall be? I was like watching them from the sky.
Difficult to fathom that I am surrounded by the sea and pristine beaches yet it happens once in a blue moon. It was one rare occasion of having a blast and drenching in the water, playing with the little one and for a selfie with the three of them. There was no point in going to the beach after five years and not plunging into the water. I am not a swimmer and never mastered the art. Every non-swimmer knows a trick or two as you thrust the arms inside the deep water and hold on to the sand beneath the water to float ashore, something that I have always done as a child. Did I tell you how N keeps pulling me of never inviting him at home since ages? I know and guilty of that for every time I make a planning, something or the other keeps happening. His wife jumped to my defense.
We spoke about caring which is a lost word in today’s world when I referred to mom who keeps telling me so many things in a day and he is like it’s better to be like that rather than not giving a damn. Lesson learned.
Quite an incredible week for me and it seemed that there is no place for a single boring moment. How I wish every day or week to unfold in this fashion! I remember telling the last time how a single FB update cringing about Jacqueline ek do teen reprise and A my friend in Jamshedpur called me instinctively. He made his sister read the message that resonated since Didi has a young daughter, learning Indian classical dance and how such reprise laden with double innuendos or crass dance moves is such a bane for young kids exploring dance as an art form in today’s times. A was my senior in Pune and it was quite an interesting WhatsApp conversation as I spoke to Didi and aunty for the first time. But, the line was breaking and we kept calling each other innumerable times. A bond has been forged not just with A but his entire family, from his sister and mom with whom I spoke via video call. Life and ways of friendship can be intriguing, right! How a small thing can trigger a deep relationship! I feel nurturing a strong bond with A’s immediate family whom I never met.
Something called retributive or divine justice like in Hindi films does exist in our otherwise monotonous life. It’s quirky and funny at the same time. Last week, I was chided by my yoga guru for the lack of concentration and not putting enough effort which basically means cheating on my postures as he has taught me since 2011. On Thursday, the yoga master told that I have performed well and had a good class. I nodded. It felt exhilarating and triumphant to be told of doing well. I agreed and told him how the last time, there was a lack of concentration due to the mind wandering from one place to the other.
I feel blessed for having such a good week of bonding with friends. The good ride doesn’t seem to wane and just been made a member of UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations which will go a long way in adding sheen and glory to my CV. It felt like being on top of the world but also a reminder to stay humble in life for what we get is the fruit of the efforts of so many people in our lives, from parents to close friends, the alma mater Fergusson college, teachers and plain strangers. Of course, my first mentor has played an immense role in my life and the latest I owe it to my current boss who should take the credit for this honor. No success, big or small, can be claimed by one person for there are so many who have contributed to it. We would be stupid to think it belongs only to us. Stay humble, stay beautiful always.
I am a smoker. I drink occasionally and a rare treat nowadays to get sloshed and slam the brain with alcohol. The home truth is both alcohol and cigarettes consumption when done to an extreme level and pretty much like substance abuse becomes toxic that makes it an almost impossible task to breathe. The same rings true for our relationships be it with family, extended relations, friends, colleagues or whoever matters. As hard as it gets!
One cannot cut the umbilical cord but it’s legitimate to chuck off ties with extended family or relatives who do us more harm than good. Self-inflicted harm is not something that we should subject ourselves to for the soul deserve nothing less than the best to ensure sanity. Negative energy can come in the form of family members or relatives who seemingly want to decide everything for us, the choice to be educated, getting married or not, having children and the choice of a partner.
I have seen it from a very close range with this whole bullshit argument about keeping mum simply because someone is elder which implies that he or she has the right to drag us in the muck or utter any rubbish on the face. The whole R for respect argument is thrown like a volley on faces to hurl abuse. I came across this article on ‘Here why it is completely fine to cut off family members from your life?’ which is an eye-opener and show why we have no right to stay in a negative relationship by accepting to be insulted or listen to the crap doled out. As self-respected and dignified human beings, we cannot let them have an emotional masturbation over us.
Manipulations, saas-bahu type drama, emotional aggression and putting us down is a forte they have mastered where they will not stop at anything to shows our rightful place as deemed fit in their dictionary. Putting in doubt the mind on how right they are and how wrong we are or deciding everything for us is something they are never shy at doing. It’s as if they are doing us a favor for being stupid. There is not a moment when they will not allude to this favor by pretending to be some saint, Baba Ramdev type and that you need to comply to their whims and fancies. The worse is to make one feel obliged to attend their family gathering or religiously meeting them or else you become an ungrateful prick and good for nothing. I am not arguing about the whole idea of being grateful and respectful to someone who helped in the past. But, I am sorry. I will help only if am able to, at free will and not at the cost of trampling my individuality. Firstly, I am under no obligation to you and secondly, nothing comes at the altar of my personal space or privacy. One should be grateful in the wider context to none.
As humans, our brains have been wired in such a way to seek approval from others and particularly family or relatives who may never see us as their number one priority. Why should you bend and twist to their wishes or value judgments? There is nothing wrong with being selfish and putting the ‘ME First’ at the top of the agenda. Nobody has the right to muzzle your thoughts, individuality, dreams, aspirations or act as a chowkidar to the steps taken. So what if they are family or close relatives!
As a person, I have always been more close to my friends rather than relatives for the first one has always let me be myself and blooming rather than casting sadistic judgment. It is my life and right to freedom. Healing should take prominence since, at every second, we face negative vibes, toxic energy, guilt or pain. I believe in the idea of erecting a wall or glass panel to shield myself from negativity. One has every right to choose travelers in this journey and chuck out the ones who make me uncomfortable.
Stop pandering to relatives, family or plain strangers who may hurt you for they may not be present at the time of waging the hardest battles. Of course, always honor your parents and close friends who stood tall through thick-and-thin moments. For me, my Mom, late Dad and close friends who stood rock solid by my side matter the most. I shall have no hesitation to filter relatives or family that may have hurt me or in whose company, the heart and soul cannot prosper. We all have choices to make and every step taken, good or bad will have a bearing on us. I have learned to take things in my stride by keeping distance or bluntly put, flushing people out of the system.