Neither the lamp nor the torch emit light, at least not the kind that truly brightens.
That kind of light only you can create, that luminescence lies within…
Shine on! today and always…
To all my blogging Friends
Neither the lamp nor the torch emit light, at least not the kind that truly brightens.
That kind of light only you can create, that luminescence lies within…
Shine on! today and always…
To all my blogging Friends
Another night falls
Crosses my dark Blue skies
The moonlight – An old forgotten friend
Piercing my dead slumber
Lets out a cry
Wake up! it says
Together we can
Still catch that dream
There is time still
Dawn is yet far
Nothing is impossible
In these surreal hours
I wake not
I have sunk too deep
Now I too
Have begun to believe
In the rationality of day
And insanity of dreams
Two day old baby found in the garbage dump near the municipal hospital. So far no one has come forth to claim her.
Eight year old girl raped by father.
Thirteen year old girl kidnapped on her way back from school.
Nineteen year old commits suicide. Found hanging by the fan in her hostel room.
Twenty one year old woman becomes victim of acid attack by a jaded lover. Suffers 87 percent burns.
Twenty seven-year old newly wed brought dead to hospital. Parents suspect foul play.
Fifteen year old accuses “god-man” of sexual abuse. Situation volatile as “followers” gather to show support.
Twenty seven-year old dies in the government hospital from uncontrolled bleeding after childbirth. Family alleges negligence by doctor on duty.
Middle aged widow accuses the local MP of rape. Alleges she is being threatened by the police to withdraw her complaint.
Just Our Everyday Reading Material ………..
This post is written in response to today’s prompt on “daily post” – “Reading Material”
As some of you know I write bimonthly for a parenting forum “parentous” . Since I haven’t been able to take out much time for blogging these days. I thought I will share with you an article I wrote for them recently. Just as a way of keeping in touch. Its about Raksha bandhan, one of the most beautiful festivals we celebrate here in India. Consider it my way of saying HELLO!
As a little girl growing up in Rajasthan I was surrounded with festivals – Diwali, Holi, Rakhi, Sankrant, Teej, Gangaur,… the list became even longer since the boarding school I went to observed even Parsi , Sindhi, Christian and Islamic festivals.
Every festival held its own charm. Shivratri meant fasting all day to get special late night dinner, Janmashtmi meant panjiri and late night bhajan singing sessions, Basant Panchmi meant a trip to the elegantly decked up in white jasmine flowers Music Room to sing “Aeyyy Shardey maa” at the top of our childish voices. Festivals added colour to our ‘uniformed’ blue and maroon life and were easily the high points of our existence in the hostel.
Two years in a Social work college though dimmed the rosy hue around the same festivals. Seen through gender, equity and environmental lenses most festivals lost their shine revealing their unstated biases, unequal consumption and unfair assumptions. Was it right, for instance, to burst crackers knowing many firework factories employed nimble fingered children? What about the pollution? What about Teej? Was it really a celebration of womanhood? Or another symbol of the gold polished shackles that bound us tightly to our patriarchal society? But the festival that I felt let down most by was Rakhi. The soft silk bands that I proudly hand wove for my troop of brothers throughout girlhood began to smack of gender bias.
There’s an abyss that exists
in the middle of me
it threatens to engulf me
to swallow me whole
As I go hurtling
down this hole
my lips part
to let out a scream
but no words form
freezing they fall into the darkness beneath
I throw out my hands
but grab only air
faster and faster I go
seconds away from annihilation
my eyes close
in a last prayer of hope
Softly I land
on a bed of dreams
saved once again by……….
Even when my kids were young I looked forward to their bed time. My children have never slept during the day. Not even when they were toddlers. So, after a long day chock-a-block with chores that ensued from being a mom to two wonderful but energetic bundles of joy. I welcomed their bed time like a third grader welcomes the bell announcing the end of school for the day. With relief and a whoop of joy.
Six years later, I still welcome bed time. The reasons though are different. They are still energetic and the day is still long. But now most of it is spent outside the purview of my home. School, sports, friends, hobbies, keep my babies away and occupied.
Thus, bed time has now become “our connecting time”. It is the time I hold them tightly in my arms and tell them how precious they are to me. The time to hug them and kiss them. Sometimes a hundred times each and tell them how proud they make us. Not because they aced the math exam or got that coveted music trophy but just because they are ours. It is my time to hear about their day. Not only hearing what they say but also listening to what they leave unsaid. I have realized that it’s also the best time to motivate, set goals, assess progress and draw lessons. Safely ensconced in my arms, examples don’t seem like comparisons, corrections don’t become criticism. I find them more open to suggestion, more willing to introspect and reflect on the world around them.
But what is bed time if not story time? Many parents and grand parents are great story tellers. I remember the long nights I spent in my grandmother’s bed listening to her tales about talking birds and mimicking monkeys. I had my favorites that I could hear again and again. But each time I asked for a new story, she brought out one like magic from what seemed like an inexhaustible supply. When I had my children I realized I was not a great storyteller. I do not have the memory to remember stories or the knack of making up new ones. So I devised my own alternatives.
Here are five of my favorite things to do with my children at bed time:
Tell them stories from your own lives and the lives of those around you: Children are fascinated by stories from their parents younger days. That papa as a little boy rode his bike to school, climbed mango trees or that mumma had a favorite doll that she took with her everywhere she went, not only amuses little children greatly. It also helps them feel closer to the adults in their world. By giving them a peep into your childhood you help them relate to you better. I also believe personal stories from grand parents and parents lives give young ones a sense of history and pride. Those among us, who have worked hard and struggled to attain comfortable lives today can ensure that our children learn to respect and value what they have by sharing with them anecdotes from our past.
Exchange Notes: Most parents , specially of teenage children complain that their children never tell them anything. All queries about school, classes and friends draws unsatisfactory monosyllabic answers. Life today has become very hectic. Make your children’s bedtime the time to tune off from the world. Put that phone on silent mode, switch off that TV, turn down the laptop screen and talk. Tell your children how you spent your day. Who you met, what you saw, what you read. If you can, speak to them about the dilemmas you faced during the day, the sights that touched you – like the beggar you saw on the road. Share with them, If you saw or heard something that reminded you of them. Once your children are used to listening to you describe your day soon enough they will be telling you about their days too. And hopefully the habit will stick through those turbulent teen years.
Share your dreams: Not only is night-time a good time to introduce your children to your past, it is also the best time to speak about the future. Letting your children in on your dreams and aspirations can have the added benefit of teaching them by example to have their own goals too.
Share with them their babyhood: This is my children’s favorite part. The nights that begin with ‘When you were a baby……..” are the biggest hits. Children are self focused and love to hear about themselves. It fills them with wonder to know who held them at the hospital for the first time, or about the time they did something indescribably funny like curled off and went to sleep in the dog’s basket.
Read a Book: This time-tested bed time ritual needs no further explanation. My kids and I have read together every single day since they were born. To begin with, pick up something short and light. When my kids were two or three the pepper series was a favorite, as they grew they began to love Noddy, then came Roald Dahl and now at seven and nine we have Sudha Murthy’s short stories , Tintins and Malory towers by our bedside. I have found that reading at bedtime from an early age is the best way to inculcate the reading habit.
One of the things we traded off when we entered the ‘digital age’ as a human race was long drawn, idyllic childhoods. There is just too much to learn and too much to do. M and K are nine and seven now. Just children still. But not for long. Adolescence will arrive soon. Their lives will only get busier. But I plan on clinging to bed time as long as I can.
When I was a little child
I got a slap
the first one of my life
my mom was raving mad at me
servants are like our family
you never speak with them badly
he is more than your dad’s age
apologize immediately and don’t ever disrespect
so what if he works for you
ordering him around, will never do
after she had properly admonished me
she bent down to touch Mohan ‘kaka’s’ feet
I lost my mum soon after that
but I never forgot that slap
and the lesson that went with it
I pass it on to my kids
as their late ‘ nani’s‘ precious gift
As I grew up and saw the world
the more I watched the more I learned
there’s a special lesson that comes to my mind
the one I learned at a traffic light
of begging rackets I had heard many tales
to give or not, doubts always assailed
one day, a car just ahead of me
rolled down its window in the afternoon heat
I watched as all the beggars ran
to get their packs of ‘Parle G’
the packets were opened with such glee
even before the light turned green
since then ‘gur’ , biscuits or small bottles of milk
by my side you will always find
From elders we learn all the time
but there’s a special lesson of life
that I have learned from my child
once as I picked veggies with ‘K’ by my side
he tugged at me with all his might
mom, can I too have some greens
of course I said extremely pleased
you can take what you need
promptly he picked a bunch of spinach leaves
and proceeded to the other side of the street
there sat an aging cow
‘K’ kept his bundle at her side
I could only smile with pride
stray animals now I make sure to feed
whether ‘K’ is or not with me
These are some lessons that I have learned
by watching others who are sensitive and concerned
they have helped me be a better human being
I hope this silly rhyme
will help them reach many more like me.
Kaka:A respectful term for older men
nani: Maternal grandmother
Gur: An unrefined healthier form of sugar. Rich in Iron, often used as a sweet treat for children.
I watched “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” yesterday. A lot has been said about the movie itself, the story line, the direction, the music and Farhan Akhtar’s performance. Most of it is correct. Its a stellar film. But after watching the movie what I brought back from it was a feeling of despair.
Are you surprised? Despair, from a movie that’s suppose to be about hope, and following ones dreams and achieving the impossible!
Despair, because the movie captures correctly the faults of our system. The godforsaken conditions in which our athletes train. The ‘trivial things, that most of India fights to achieve everyday (A glass of milk and two eggs!!!)
Milkha’s story is set in 1960′s. But the sad truth is it seems relevant even today. In fifty years , we have been able to come up with many misleading slogans like ‘India shining’ and ‘Incredible India’ but we haven’t been able to come up with policies that bring real progress. (At least not the kind that goes beyond fancy statistics). The coat of glossy paint that clever politicians have painted with help of overpaid PR agencies comes off with the merest of a scratch, to reveal our naked, ugly underbelly.
If things continue the way they are the time is not far when India will become a black hole no one wishes to look at. Already most of our ‘well educated’ ‘ promising’ youngsters flee the country at the first chance they get. They cluck and make all the right noises each time they visit “We miss India, the culture, the festivals etc. etc.” But one doesn’t see many of them returning. A lot is being said about the reversing trend of expats coming back home. My humble submission is that barring a few, most of them have returned due to the economic slowdown or negative visa policies in host countries, not because India has become more appealing. The day the slowdown reverses and visas become available again most of them won’t bat an eyelid before hopping on to the next plane back to their ‘civilized’ western worlds. Where tap water is ‘safe’ and the bulb lights up each time you flick on the switch.
I for one don’t blame them. You get only one life. Who wants to lead it running from one office to another to get an electric connection, paying bribes to gutkha chewing babus for documents that are every citizen’s right by birth? Who wishes to open the newspaper every day to read even gorier tales of corruption, rapes, murders, that never get solved. Or the horrible heart wrenching stories of mothers who throw their babies to death because they are unable to feed them. Or wait in trepidation every night to see if their loved ones make it back home from the death trap we call roads.
India is seething with rage. Anybody whose head is not buried in the soils of vested interest can see that.
I know we started with very little. I know Britishers sucked us dry. I know we have a very large population. But honestly! I know too that those are just excuses. After more than sixty five years we should be banned from using them. Other countries with lesser resources have managed to turn around. Why can’t we? Each time one wishes to take an honest stock of our country’s progress. The few achievements that we have made are brought out and paraded. Implication being that since we have achieved “secularism (have we?), being the “world’s largest democracy’, so on and so forth….we should be exempted from other measuring standards.
I am a mother. If my child does well in one subject and fails at other three year after year, am I to pat him on the back and say “Very good son at least you have done well in one. You can continue to fail in others” Or am I going to tell him that since he is obviously capable, he must make an effort to improve his grades in other subjects too. Indians too are not dumb! They are hard working, intelligent, resourceful people. Our huge population is not a burden it’s a capital. Or could be if we allowed it to be.
My blood boils each time a young one rattles off that India is poor because it is overpopulated. Or when the elite tut tut over the “ignorant” villagers who won’t send their children to schools. I get mad every time the dinner table conversation turns to blaming the economically disadvantaged for their conservative practices like using quacks, having too many children, keeping women at home. And I get specially angry when the economically and socially disadvantaged are touted as being ‘untrustworthy’ , ‘thieves’ ‘murderers’ or born ‘liars’.
I have faith in the innate goodness of people. I believe people don’t wish to kill/ loot/ steal (barring a few anomalies, most of them in politics). Most People just wish to lead a safe, secure and happy life. They wish to step out of the vicious cycle of poverty or illiteracy or poor health that they are trapped in. Most of them only wish to make their future better than their present.
Give them an honest chance to do so and if its reasonable considering their past experiences, current beliefs and present circumstances, they will take it. Those of us with access to better education, newer opportunities are constantly moving forward. But some of those who don’t see a feasible honest way out of their ‘miserable’ lives may resort to crime. It is our job to stop this from happening by providing everyone with an honest opportunity to improve the quality of their lives.
I also have an objection with people who believe that the poor or illiterate need to be counseled or convinced to make lifestyle changes that are truly better for them. I believe if we want to get women into the workforce , we must make work spaces and public spaces safe for them. We must equip these spaces properly, ensure that women in workforce get treated fairly. Make sure there is a system that takes care of their household jobs. And then lets see if women don’t step out of their homes.
We want children to study. We must ensure that the schools are run well. That the education that is imparted is relevant and has the ability to turn their lives for the better. That it’s the kind of place where you or me would gladly send our own off springs. I guarantee you, regardless of how ‘ignorant’ or ‘backward’ the area is, children will flock.
We want people to stop using quacks or neglecting their healths. We must ensure clean, dignified, modern health services at the hospitals. Then let’s see who doesn’t avail of them.
If the services we provide are good. No other sops are necessary.
Bottom line, people want to change their lives for the better. They want to realize their full potential. They want to be productive.
If only the governments would stop distributing us inedible one rupee grains, coarse free uniforms, poisoned mid day meals and start giving us our rights!
India is sick. Its suffering from the worst kind of ailments. One food security bill will not change anything.
Along with other concerned citizens I implore Sonia Gandhi/ Rahul Gandhi/ Narendra Modi or whoever the heck claims to or dreams of leading this country.
Do something! Take action! Change now!
Milkha Singh ran himself out of his life of poverty and obscurity. Our pants are on fire too and if we don’t take charge now, we will burn to a gruesome death. It’s time we shook ourselves out of our stupor. Its time for us to start running.
Bhaag India Bhaag!
Yesterday, I plugged a hole in my heart that I didn’t realize existed. Or at least that I didn’t realize ‘still existed’.
As a painfully shy girl in a hostel full of happy boisterous girls I had only a few friends. D was one of the closest. We were inseparable. Sharing the complexities of our ten-year old worlds with each other. For some reason, I hardly remember now, we fell apart. All attempts at reconciliations failed. After we graduated from high school, and moved our separate ways our paths never crossed.
I caught a glimpse of her in a crowded place. Even with the changes that twenty-five years bring, I recognized her instantly. I thought she caught my eye too but I couldn’t be sure. Did she recognize me? Could she still carry the grudge? The reason had been so silly to begin with. But I was in doubt. I was scared of being snubbed. Worse, I was scared of flaring up the antagonism again.
I held back as she disappeared into the crowd.
But the memories flooded my head and my heart. I discovered that even though all the great friends I found and kept through subsequent years filled my life and my world with love and friendship. D’s space still remained. Unknown even to me, the twelve-year-old girl in me still missed her old ‘best friend’.
Should I go looking for her in the crowd. Where would I find her? What would I say? Had I lost her again? Suddenly, reconnecting with D became crucial. It became important to speak to her. Even if she snubbed me, I had to give it a try.
I scanned the crowds again and caught a glimpse of her. “D”, I called out. With my heart in my mouth. She turned around. This was the moment of reckoning. How would she react?
As D turned, I could see the spark of recognition in her eyes. And then her face broke into a grin.
It wasn’t even awkward. We just jumped into a conversation. We exchanged notes on our adult lives. And we looked at each other. The way only old friends can. Seeing behind the carefully groomed adult faces the little girls that we once were.
I am not sure what awaits for us in the future. Maybe we will grow to be best friends again. Maybe we will realize that we have grown too differently to be bosom buddies ever again. Who knows? And who cares?
Right now I am just happy that I fixed the D hole in my heart. I got closure. And that’s important.
Do you have a friend you’ve fallen out with, never to speak again? Do you think about him/her? If a chance presented itself would you reach out?
The daily post had the prompt “Keep Out”. Now who can resist that one. A midnight one liner from “still getting used to the time lag” me.
from my life
my heart &
if you’re sorry
if not having me hurts
if you’ve finally understood
what I meant all along
That’s where you belong……