The Guilty Mother ~ Part 2


So, in my previous post on “The guilty mother” series – Part 1, I had mentioned about how the son (and hubby as well), do not make it any easier for me to maintain a museum of a home. Apparently, I hate museums. Going by my previous posts, you would know that I sustain in chaos. There has to be something arranged in a haphazard manner to make me feel at ease. And so, one can imagine how stressed I feel doing house keeping knowing for a fact that, it stays impeccable only when I am the only living person in the home. But then, what is a home without some craziness? Now, coming to the crux of today’s post, I have some serious topics to discuss.

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The guilty mother in me kicked me in the gut!

Yesterday, the son came back from the park. He was cheerful. We even played badminton in late evening. And then, when I was tucking him into bed, he slightly winced in pain. On being asked, he showed me a cut on his thigh. Some child of his age probably and accidently pushed the swing in his direction and, he got hurt. I asked him – “Why did you not tell me earlier?” to which he replied – “Ma! You only said that we do get hurt in playing and that, we should not complain about it!” The guilty mother in me kicked me in the gut! Thankfully, the cut was not deep but, it wasn’t too superficial too! I felt bad, very bad as my son tolerated that pain only because I told him that getting bruised and falling was all a part of the game. Somehow, I had a very disturbed sleep. And as I was still trying to figure out a way to reach out to him in a way such that he doesn’t misinterpret my advice, another incident happened today.

In the morning, a couple of his friends came over and asked Arjun to join them. After all, there is still a week for the schools to open. I gave my regular instructions – “No playing inside anyone’s homes!” Now, here I would like to point out that one of the boys is my neighbour who stays all by himself for a major part of the day while his parents are out for work. And, the boy is going to fourth grade and so, he is still a child in my eyes. I would have happily allowed the son to go along, which I eventually did after looking into those deep cajoling eyes of my son. The guilty mother in me gave in to that coaxing look, but the strict mother in me came out and added her lines to the permission – “You can play, but not inside anyone’s home. You either play in the park or, you play in our lawn and block space. To put it candidly, you play in an open space!”

The friend clearly did not like my idea. But I am an elder and, he had to listen. So, they went to the park, played for 10 minutes and came back. Later, the friend asked me again – “Can Arjun come over to my place, please? Please, Aunty!” My answer was a NO as there was no adult supervision in his home. (Now, I will be shortly coming to the point on why I have been sceptical about letting the son alone with the said boy in case you are already judging the guilty mother in me as a domineering one too!) The boys spent some more time loitering around. Later, the boys drifted away and, Arjun came back with an expressionless face. He came in quietly, removed his footwear and headed into the bedroom and, opened his favourite book. I knew he was not studying. He was not crying. There was not a flinch on his face. But, the guilty mother in me knew he was upset. To steer him out of his unhappy mood, I asked him – “Can I play badminton with you?” Suddenly, his face lit up and, we played for a while until he saw the boys again on the street. Well, after that he went inside. I asked him – “What happened?” and, that was it! His eyes welled up and he looked at me accusingly – “I won’t be able to make friends like this! Why do you restrict me from going to his place? You know, he has many friends! All his friends come over to his place. And, you do not allow me! Why?” 

“Mum, I saw something the other day….”

Now, I will narrate an incident that happened a few months ago. My son was going regularly to the said friend’s place. That boy also used to come over and play at our home. However, the boy’s uncontrollable energy resulted in tearing off my bean bags. Needless to say, some of my cushions were also ‘injured’ in the process! I am sure his parents who are gem of people are oblivious to his actions till date. But I also dreaded the fact, how a home would look like if there were four to five like the boy! Anyways, I am digressing. Coming back to the incident I was talking about, my son had been to his place during one of the vacation breaks. Everything was normal until one of the days long after the incident actually happened, my son mentioned to me candidly about how the boy had shown him something on the phone and that, it was dirty! I asked Arjun to explain the word dirty (I did not want to judge a child). But the son replied back – “Ma! You know what dirty means!” His look churned the pit of my stomach. My son knew what he was talking about. And, I knew now. I spoke to the hubby and, he called the son and said, “Son! You are going to be six years old soon. You have a choice to decide your company. Good children do not watch clips on phones that are not meant for them. Now, you know that. Tomorrow he will call you and, you might go to his place again. This time, he might expose you to something murkier. What is worse, he is a child too. He is not having adults to chaperone him in the major part of the day. But, you have! Now, you decide what you want to do. Son, keep in mind, studying and playing are the two goals of your life for now. Nothing else should distract you. That said, you can play with him. But remember, if I get to hear anything negative about you from anywhere, I repeat, from anywhere, you will see a side of me you do not want to see ever! The choice is yours, son! Rest assured, you can play with him in the park. I will not say anything. But, no going to any one’s home from now on.”

The impact was deep considering the fact that, hubby is the cool cucumber in the family. He does not raise his voice. The one time he spanked Arjun was, when Arjun tried to lean over from a fort wall at Mandu! Otherwise, it is always the emotional mother in me who is the self proclaimed Cruela De Vil! So ever since that incident, the son never went to his place in the absence of the boy’s parents.

However, today I knew that he was being arm twisted into doing something he knew was not right! And, a part of him wanted to ‘fit in the crowd’.  I left him to his space after the uncomfortable face off and, immediately made a call to my mother who is currently vacationing in Chennai. I told her about the situation and, she heard me out patiently. Once she had heard the entire thing, this is what she said to me –

“Narayani, as a parent, you did what had to be done then. But, a NO like that doesn’t go well with children. You have to make that No sound like a No for him from himself. Now, how do you do it?

Remind him that he has some amazing friends who are also going to join him in the first grade although they do not stay nearby.  

Remind him that park friends are not permanent. After all, he is a fauji kid and, he is never going to have the same set of friends permanently.

And importantly, remind him every now and then that it is more important to have good friends than having many many friends. True friends will always be less in numbers.

Every day, remind him that, he is his own best friend first! He may not understand immediately, but repeat it to him every day. A few months down, the change will set in and, he sure will find his happy space. A mother’s intuition is always right. So, don’t second guess your parenting. When one dicey experience strengthens your intuition, do not dismiss it. You may only appear domineering in tricky cases as this but actually, you are not. And then, being a careless parent is worse! This is just the first of his many to come heartaches. Don’t let him dwell on it. At the same time, do not restrict him from playing with the boy. Sometimes, a NO dents ego badly and, a child may not understand the reason behind the NO fully. Like you said – “Play in open spaces like park” is a good way of putting your message across. And in case, that boy doesn’t include him in the group, tell him it is fine. In that case, he can cycle or perhaps, play badminton or chess with you. And believe me, there are so many options out there. Make him realize that!

As a parent, keep a watch on him from a distance. And, I know my grandson well. He will not do something notorious to harm someone. Have faith in him J”

I felt a bit relieved. I finally had a talk with the son and, pulled out my mother’s pointers in the most delicate way possible. He listened to me intently. After a pause, he said – “Mum, there are some very big boys that come to the park to play football. I also want to play football.”

This was my chance to push my son out of his comfort zone that he believed was his age group friends! My instant reply was –“Go! Ask them! Tell the big boys you want to play with them.” His sceptical look told me his fears of being rejected. I added, “If they reject, it is fine. No issues. I will get you a foot ball in that case. But, you ask them first. Take the first step. How do you know that they will not include you without you even trying to make the first move? Ask them. Politely.” He suddenly recalled how he had kicked the ball many a time and that, they sometimes would ask him to kick the ball back when it went a little too far.

That was it. The uncomfortable sensation clouding my son’s aura was gone. He was back to normal and, we played badminton till the Sun pushed us inside with a warning –“Get inside or I will burn you both!”

There are times, I question myself a lot. I second guess my parenting means. The guilty mother in me corners me every now and then. But my mother tells me one thing and, she repeats it all the time.

“Every child is different, Narayani. Some children are innately daring. Some are born with a lot of patience. Some are aggressive from the beginning. Some are born with the art of manipulation. As parents, we can only channel the energies and guide the children. We cannot change their nature. Just like you cannot change the spots on a leopard because you like checkers! So, there will be times when your son may not prefer to go with the mass. Do not get perturbed. People often forget that geniuses do not come from masses. So, just have faith in him. He will learn to fight his battles. And, as a parent, be his safety net. Rest, let destiny unravel the wonders J”

So, dear guilty mother, take a chill pill! Relax……Being a mother is incomplete without the “good mommy, bad mommy” factor!

As for the wound, both the son and I know, will heal. Therefore, situational awareness will be my next subject of learning that I shall be imparting to my son.

So stay tuned, peeps! 😀

P.S: For reading The Guilty Mother ~ Part 1, click here. 🙂

“WoW! You did it? I am surprised!”


If you mean that, the answer is – “No. Please Don’t be.”

When I was a child, compliments were synonymous with something like gulping down a 500 ml Slice/Maaza/Dukes whatever! A red star in the notebook would take me to cloud nine and seventh heaven, whereas a black star on the discipline chart would swing me into the other extreme – Hell! My moods of euphoria and ennui episodes in school would leave my doting mother confused then. But I do remember the difference in her ways of handling me in both times. When I was intoxicated with small successes in life such as winning some recitation or, acing my subjects in school, I would be greeted with wide smiles and warm hugs. Given that, I was a consistent performer in academics, I never felt the sorrow or depression that stems from the other side. But that charade came down at an inopportune time – My XII std Physics paper which I still vividly remember with shivers. Had the paper been difficult, I would not have felt bad about it. However, the paper was a good one, the kind in which scoring was like a cake walk! But because of some flawed timing, one silly mistake of mine cost me a lot other questions that followed. The fact that I realized my mistake right after giving the paper made me feel depressed, inadequate and blank for a long long time! I remember those sobs yet, as they still reverberate in my ears at times, though more than a decade has passed by since the incident. But that day also happened to be a day of great learning for me – Even the mighty, fall. The below image just became real for me after that paper!

compliment 1 1

 

Real compliments are Assurances gift wrapped in Kindness

But the way my parents responded to my outburst that day made me a normal person again in a matter of few days. After the exam, they had taken me to my favorite restaurant and, had ordered my favorite meal too. Seriously, who does that? Now, I am aware I have mentioned this incident before too, but it deserves a mention here again for a different reason. I remember what my father had told me apart from his punch line – Heaven is not going to fall down, and those words have come along with me since then.

be like river

Errors, mistakes, loss of judgment….whatever you call it, can happen to anyone and everyone at any time. Sometimes, your success not only leads you to believe in a facade that you of all are utterly and totally incapable of making certain mistakes. Worse, it also makes others around you enforce that view further. It is perhaps that belief is the high hopes that people have spun around you makes you feel punctured with shame when events turn out exactly how you don’t want to! But then, even a river meets its diversions during its course. And, what does a river do? It keeps flowing! And, you must keep moving!

Compliments come in various shades too. In this case, it came to me in the form of assurance despite the bad timing. When the results were out a month later, I saw that I had done moderately good though, it was not my best. A replay of the time I spent crying over the fiasco, made me understand how words have the power to change your emotions. Had I been constantly reminded of how bad my paper went, I may have perhaps performed worse in the subsequent ones too! But, it was my parents’ assurance in that crucial period that built the confidence in me and, gave me a reason to look forward to.

Now, there is a reason I am citing this example here. We are living in a world wherein, compliments are more or less centric around decor of homes and gardens, attire and jewelry, bikes and cars and, the many materialistic indulgences that a man can covet in his lifetime. For instance – “Wow! You have lost so much weight. What do you do? What do you eat? Which gym do you hit?” blah blah blah is one of the most common set of questionnaire floating around when people meet people. These compliments make you soar as high as an eagle. Yes, they are compliments. I have no doubts about that. But then, how far do they come along when time and tide don’t pace with you?

Humanity is the most genuine compliment on Earth.

And now, coming to the crucial point, how many of us even acknowledge each other’s existence, be a stray pup digging into the bin across the street to find something to nibble on or, a very old woman suffering from dementia waving at you from the top floor for no reason? How many of us acknowledge a stranger’s smile while we go on a walk or, stop by to admire the innocent fun, two squirrels indulge in while climbing up the tree? How many of us say thank you, even when we buy something from the grocery store, or when we are served lunch or dinner in restaurants? How many of us initiate conversations with strangers while travelling by train? How many of us genuinely feel the thread of acknowledgement? Maybe, we all feel but, we don’t give it its due.

After all, what is mundane is what is most taken granted for. I remember an incident that happened with me in school. It was sometime in the year 1999. My father and I had gone to get a few Xerox copies of some documents. It was late evening and, we were walking towards the complex on the footpath. That evening, while I was talking and increasing my pace, I heard some thud! I looked back to see that my father had slipped and fallen into a wet ditch that was quite inconspicuous in the dark. It was a horrifying time for me as I could not understand how it happened in the first place since, he was walking right beside me. That day, people came running from all corners and jumped in the ditch and rescued him. When he came out, he was dazed for a while. Perhaps, the shock of having slipped with no forewarning of the incident, was still sinking for him, while I was still reeling from the freak nature of the whole accident. Seeing my flustered face and shivering frame as I took my father by his arm gently, a few men came to me and said – “Kuch nahi hua hai, beta….aapke papa bilkul theek hai..bas ek tetanus shot lagvalo.” We went straight to the hospital from there as my father had badly bruised his knee and back. He also got a TT shot! It took him a couple of days to recover.

At the time, I was a teenager. However, the incident is still fresh in my mind for two reasons – One, freak accidents come with no warning. And two, humanity is biggest compliment on Earth. When I saw people rushing over to help me and my father, I was overwhelmed. I cannot express in words what it meant to be helped by kind strangers and, further being consoled by them. The mere acknowledgement of the existence of a living is one of the greatest compliments we can give each other. It goes way beyond statements like – “You look fab!”, “You are so intelligent” or even, “You are such a good soul.” Etc….

compliment 1

Compliments should never stem from Surprises

When I worked as a pre school teacher a year back, I had a very different take on judging children. For instance, I made sure that the ones that were fast graspers shall sit on the last bench. The ones that needed help to grasp were my first benchers. But yes, I used to make sure that the rotation of positions happened to keep the discipline in check.

So, when I took over the class, I was briefed about every child. And, I was quite amused at how teachers judge the children purely on how they perform in tests. Well, I am not blaming teachers because having been there, I am aware of the kind of administrative work that also rolls into a teacher’s shoulders. However, I had some reservations about judging children. Now, it is here I would like to point out that it is not just among children, but also among adults like us, where we have a tendency to compliment people who are already doing well.

Sometimes, we know the importance of complimenting. But, we fail to give them at the right place. In my stint as a teacher (which was definitely short), I realized the importance of compliments at the right place. The bright ones in my class were always hungry for compliments, notwithstanding the fact that they were doing exceptionally good. Some of them had the ingrained nature of being ambitious and I am sure for all the right reasons, this quality is going to take them to great heights. However, it was the other kind that bothered me. Maybe, a lot of criticism at an early age mellowed down the ambitions in certain children who had trouble grasping. And, I started with the basics for them. Initially, I was met with a lot of indifference, but then I did sense a change of attitude in the following weeks. I remember a kid in my class who had issues with his left hand and, he had trouble writing. I used to spend more time with the selected five to six children, as they stood writing on their notebooks placed on my table. On good days, they got a star. Gradually the appearance of stars on their notebooks invoked a dormant joy in them. Their work was not yet the best. But, the stars motivated to do better and, the biggest compliment I received was from the parents in the PTM about how the children quoted me at home and, took efforts to write in a way that would fetch them stars!

Sometimes, the push in the right direction, a compliment at the right time and, a little acknowledgement of the very existence of our surroundings goes a long way in a child’s life. I still remember my colleagues’ surprised faces when the children who they had written off as consistent poor performers suddenly started performing very well. I suddenly remembered what hubby keeps telling me time and again, lest I forget –

“NEVER BE SURPRISED WHEN SOMEONE DOES WELL IN LIFE. BE SURPRISED WHEN HE/SHE DOESN’T!”

compliment

A genuine compliment stems from empathy and not surprise. And, empathy is what we all need, but lack big time. Because, when we have empathy, it will never pinch us to compliment at the right time, in the right place and, the right people for that matter  🙂

The Guilty Mother ~ Part 1


Like seasons, a mother’s personality undergoes myriad shades of change at every development milestone of her child. She plays the good mommy, bad mommy, sulking mommy, happily cooking mommy, moody mommy and what not! Not every day is her day. And, when it is, it is that time when the moon turns into a sky blue and, Mommy turns into a Cinderella with the yellow pumpkins becoming her carriages and, lizards becoming her footmen! I love fantasies, I always have! And, sleeping for me is an excuse to get into that unreal world and, play my fiddle as long as I want! Anyways, I am digressing by habit. Where was I? Yes, on regular days I am the regular mom who tries to do everything but fails to catch up on everything. I am sure, many homemakers who detest housekeeping business would relate with me. And today, hubby is out of town and, son and I have fallen back on a lazy Saturday routine.

So, after hours of making trains with the peg tables, my son has rehashed the look of my drawing room. Currently, it looks as though it has been ransacked by burglars. The cushions are strewn in some abstract fashion, the sofa covers are half in, half out. The center table is diagonally placed near the door opening into the porch! The wooden mesh turtle carrying a lampshade looks lost as it has already been rotated umpteen times! And, the wooden flower vase is seen hiding behind the tissue curtains in a fashion that someone like me who is prone to slip even while wearing slippers will have a Humpty-Dumpty fall! On regular days, this is not the scene though.  Because, on regular days I am the GUILTY mother who constantly pleads to the energetic creative world of mine – my five year old son to adhere to discipline. Yes, yours truly is Guilty As Charged.

A few weeks back, when I sat with the son before his exams, making a few test papers and some questions, I suddenly stopped midway for some unexplained reason and, started doodling on the last page of the notebook. It was some abstract design, one of the many that I make and that, either have no meaning or, have too many! I, of all can make no sense of what I doodle! However, that day I did not notice that the son was observing me doodle. He did not say anything and, I was oblivious to him being aware of my act. And, the regular mother in me resumed with the advising, pleading, coaxing, shouting, yelling etc……. My regular days with my son be like —–

“Study! Study!”

“Read aloud what you write! (A little nudge on the shoulder) How many times should I tell you?”

“WhAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW ON EARTH CAN ‘EE KI MATRA’ (Hindi) BECOME ‘uuu KI MATRA’? DON’T YOU LISTEN TO YOURSELF WHEN YOU WRITE?”

“+ MeAnS ADDITION! – mEaNs SUBSTRACTION! PLEASE……PLEASE…..Read, Understand and then DO!”

“What. Are. You. Doing!  What pleasure do you get in digging that pencil into a brand new eraser? Does Money grow on trees? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO IT?”

“Arjun! Where is your small water bottle?” (Which I find is now, a cave for all the crawlies and creepies that coexist with us peacefully…As per Arjun it is the snake Agasura and, all the creepies and crawlies are Krishna’s friends! If I say I am at my wit’s end, it is an understatement!)

“Arjun! Where is my kitchen scissors?” (I found the kitchen scissors in various stages of dying as I collected its mortal remains – the blades and the hold….from the garden…Well, the scissors was forced to cut down some strong branches which were later to be used for making a bow and arrow – as per the son! I got a new one which is now used for origami work thankfully!)

“Arjun, please keep the shoes on the rack! Please put that tiffin box in the sink! And, why have you not drunk all the water? You must drink a lot of water!” (On some days, I can hear an echo of whatever I speak. Trust me, he repeats my statements with emotions and expressions that make me go – “OMG! Do I really look like that when I speak? WOW!”)

“Arjun..read aloud! Focus! Concentrate!”

…………………………………..And, the list of my reprimands is endless!……………………………………………

So, after his exams got over, I felt as though I had won a gold medal! That feeling had more to do with – Pre kg! You are done! (Son is going to first grade this year) And no, I have not gone near any books since his exams have got over. Neither has he. But, something caught my eye some time back, a few days after his exams got over. That image made me swell with pride and, well with tears! Remember, I just spoke about some abstract design I had doodled while I was preparing his question papers. The son had drawn out his variations of the same on the same page with the same pen I had used. (The doodle on extreme top left is mine, the other two are his)

Arjun and me

This image was a revelation in parenting to me in many ways that can barely be expressed in mere words.

Today, I took a pause from my daily routine while the son is enjoying his holidays. And, I thought – I have to make the best use of this pause. And what better way than to introspect? Now the above piece of paper with the three intangible doodles made me realize why being an adult actually sucks and, no wonder it feels like being chained by archaic rules and protocols of which, many don’t make sense to me yet. The little Narayani within me smirked at me and, questioned – “Are you even practising what you preach? Why do you ask him not to doodle during study time when you yourself are not able to hold it back! He has your genes, woman! Believe me, let the chemistry in those magical genes work and, you will see a rising genius!”

Ever since the exams have got over, I have allowed the son to do what ever he wants. Though some of his recent shenanigans in the park have already diluted my resolve and I am secretly wishing for his school to begin again, I am also as a matter of fact, proud of his profound questions, thoughtful trances before the simple answers and, his endless trunk of tricks that he saves for priceless moments!

The other day, hubby had asked him –“What do you want to become in life?”

Pat comes the reply – “I want to be a community helper” (He had a chapter on community helpers in his UKG)

So, I asked him – “Which community helper you want to become?”

D….O…..C…..T…..(E)….R”….DOCTOR! The ‘e’ was later replaced with an ‘o’!

Hubby was clearly enjoying the conversation and, further asked – “OK. Which doctor would you like to become? Like, do you want to become an Army Doctor?”

The son thinks for a while and says – “hmmm…..ok….Yes….”

I was folding clothes then and, added my opinion – You better be a good one then!”

Son was lost in deep thought…..and hubby patted him on his cheek and asked – “What happened, son? Planning to change goals?”

To which, he replies candidly “No pa! I want to be a doctor. But, I also want to become other community helpers like tailor, carpenter, gardener, cobbler, milkman, postman, soldier, policeman…..” (and, he named every community helper in the world!)

Smiles, giggles and perspectives come from such conversations. I added – “Well son, in that case, you better become an actor! You can take on all the roles you mentioned!”

Well, I said it! I realized, I said it in the spur of the moment! On a lighter note, it sounds funny now. However, did I really mean it, given my contempt for the kind of films, our Cinema is giving us??

The question itself was a Eureka moment for the guilty mother in me. Rather, I found the answer in my own question and, I have the faith in his destiny that he will be the mad bull for his goal and, will achieve what he wants in life!

Recently when we were visiting a few friends, I met a boy who was appearing for his boards. While the conversation hopped from one topic to another seamlessly, I asked him what was his stream of interest. The answers came, crisp and clear but not from the son. Every answer that came for every question was from the mother, who began the sentence as – “His interests are so and so….So, he wants to pursue this and this….” The boy has been raised excellent and yet, he was silent every time his mother answered for him. As a parent, I feel a child must always answer from the bottom of his heart and, no person must fetch those answers for him. Anyways, to each, his own.

Thoughts of a child, they say are the treasure troves where even a mother cannot enter and take a peek into. I am learning that now. When the son doesn’t want to share something with me, he doesn’t. And, I don’t prod. I am glad that he has a space where he can be himself with absolutely zero inhibitions. I also have my world of thoughts where, I reign supreme. I am the queen in my world of thoughts and, I revel in the power those thoughts

That said, I cannot remove the guilty mother from my personality. I am going to be the fussy mother, the confused mother and the nagging mother who wants to know everything about the son as he grows up, about his friends, about his girlfriends, about his heartbreaks, about his crushes, about his games, about the million secrets he intends to keep from me. He will get annoyed with me. He will also learn to dodge his CID mother! There will be times when he will also call me up less. But then, he is my son and, I remind myself each day of my life that he carries the many traits of hubby and mine and that, the fiercely creative combination of the fire and water that we are, he will learn the tricks and trade of growing up beautifully.

Besides, hubby and I constantly remind ourselves from time to time – “Allow him to make mistakes. Let him take the fall and rise! If his heart breaks, let him heal by himself. If he faces failure, let him fight it himself. You brought him into this world. Now, let him evolve by self, just like your creators let you!.”

In that absolute faith, I am sure that there will come a time when hubby and I will share the same kind of friendship with our son that, we share with our own parents today 😀

On a lighter note, my parents at the moment have every reason to grin ear to ear and, sit back and enjoy the many CID episodes this guilty mother will be sharing on this blog!

Shhhhhh………………………………………………………………………………………………………

shsh

 

My comfort zone is my couch! Ouch!


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

cz

Presently, my comfort zone is my couch! Yes, people. Having stumbled and sprinted through the daily rigmarole of house old chores, listening to son’s loudly resonating “You don’t let me do anything” intermittently when I try pleading him to take a break from his regular adventures of collecting insects and leaves from the garden (Son is going to First grade and so, is busy collecting souvenirs of nature for the new classmates!) and then, smiling bleakly when hubby asks if he could get a cup of tea, the couch of all places appears to be my comfort zone at the moment. It is here I stretch and yawn like a content Garfield and, put my indolent fingers to action to type about what it feels to be out of comfort zone! By the way, I love Garfield. Only because, I relate to this self announced cousin in more ways than one!

Now coming back to the topic of discussion today, what does it feel to be out of comfort zone? Magic? Wrong turn? Pothole? Road of thorns? Or, a fresh breather of evening air? Whenever I mull over the contentious comfort zone, it dawns on me that our definitions of the same, change with every stage we cross in life. Like, as a baby, the comfort zone is being held by the mother tightly against her bosom or, sleeping and dreaming sweetly on father’s warm shoulders. For the baby, stepping out of the comfort zone would mean taking the first baby steps into the park. Later, the steps progress into schooling years, games and academics, infatuations that accompany confusing teens and, then the ever challenging adulthood that makes one feel….childhood was a lot simpler! Aren’t we all tired ‘adult’-ing?

The very purpose of Life is to displace you!

So, stepping out of comfort zone is not a new concept to humans. Neither is it, to birds, animals, insects etc… In fact, it is quite a revelation to watch a butterfly spread out its crumpled wings with some difficulty as, it slips out of the cocoon and, works tirelessly on its first flight to freedom. Or, seeing a tigress train her cubs by seemingly throwing them to danger by lurking in the background to step in only if the hunting requires her agility is yet another way of Nature saying – You cannot languish in a phase of life! If you observe the way birds prod their young ones to fly….it is an eye opener on how Nature has designed the inmates of this beautiful planet. I have had the privilege of watching this phenomenon in 2014. We had been away from home for over a month. So, when we returned we found that a happy lovey dovey sparrow couple had nested on our shoe rack in our balcony. The eggs had hatched and, the parents were busy feeding the babies. It was a divine sight. After a few days, the first two which were the fast learners easily flew after a few hours of rigorous flapping. However, the third baby took its own sweet time. And, that sweet little time amounted to three whole days that was draining the parents’ drum of patience! And, why not? Cats are excellent climbers after all, unlike dogs! Each day, the mother and father sparrow would chirp endlessly. The chirping sounded like a reprimand, at times, like pleading and at times, like a fully pumped up encouragement. The parents wanted their weak baby to make its first move out of the nest. And, after two days, it did with great difficulty and, landed on the railing. And, it sat there for hours without moving! Even for my son who was three years old then, it was evident that the baby was scared of falling off the railing. The baby sat still for about eighteen hours before it started flapping its wings given the cold night (Working out always gives warmth!) The parents were also decreasing the perimeter of comfort zone by flying further and further away. This baby had its moment of epiphany when the blazing Sun, the next day started perhaps burning its soft skin and, it started taking tiny steps away from the Sun. And in doing so, it reached the end of railing where it spent sitting still again for a few more hours. It probably dawned on the baby that, it had no other way but to flap and fly! As if it got some sign from Mother Nature, it took its first flight in the late evening. In the first go, it did go down but, somehow the vigorous flapping gave it the confidence that was further fueled now by its parents and siblings that were circling it from far. As I watched the baby sparrow fly into the dusk, I felt an assurance of sorts. Well, it did fly after all! I learned something that day – Even if you want to be in a comfort zone or, have got used to a comfortable phase in life, destiny will play its hidden cards and displace you eventually!

Now the other part of the discussion is – Are comfort zones good or bad? Well, it is like asking whether growing up is a choice! As adults, we look back and find childhood to be a comfortable phase where we did not have much to worry about! However, as children, there was some internal push to grow up into adults soon, assuming independence is an unconditional luxury. The clause – Conditions Apply comes only later into picture. Truth to be said, it is a basic nature of any living person on this planet to seek change when (s)he is stuck in a stagnant phase that is neither putting him in a tight spot nor, is getting him something ‘extra’. Was that a rhetorical? Yes, sort of.

Comfort zone is where you must prepare!

Comfort zone is where you undergo two kinds of feelings. Either, you start believing that this is the phase you want to be in and, decide to revel in it mindlessly OR, you start preparing like the meticulous ant to brace yourself for predictably unpredictable changes that might come your way. It is also during the time you spend in comfort zone that, the destiny also moves its pawns in a coveted fashion. Stagnating in a phase perhaps, leads you into easily being check mated in a fair and square fashion. Perhaps that is the reason, a comfort zone must be looked upon as a momentary pause, where one ponders deeply over the goals to be met, actions to be taken, relations to be mended and maintained and, seeking more connection with self.

A life cycle has been designed in a way that when you look back, you only realize that what you thought in a bygone phase as a comfort zone, is no longer what it was. You can only look forward and, move on. That is perhaps Nature’s way of addressing the punch line – You just cannot get too comfortable with life, child!

Apparently, it is dinner time now and, now I have to move my bum off the couch! OUCH!

Life is like that, Friend!

gg1

Dear child, A failure is not too bad to be dissed.


Failure is seen as a bad word. Always. I am no exception. It just comes naturally to us to dodge failures, avoid failures, beat failures. Isn’t it? But while we are busy making sure of getting the failures off our back, we have missed a crucial point – Has any success ever come with no failure? And if it did, has it not encountered it later?

Something prompted me to write about why children need to come face to face with failures more, to understand the importance of success. After all, when success arrives at your doorstep, it is not you alone who is the sole owner of it. All those people who helped you arrive at this point (even if it is a tapri ka chaiwala), deserve a part in that success. However, failure absolutely and utterly belongs to you and you alone. And it is precisely why, failures guide you better if you listen to them carefully. Superficially, failures bruise your ego. Rejection kills your motivation on the surface. But for a soul to feel the success, he would always listen to voice of the failure which says – “Common! you deserve the best!”

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So, here is my post on Parentous which is a 2 part series. Below is the first part:

Come children, let’s talk about failures- Part 1! (An excerpt from my write up).

“When I worked as a preschool teacher earlier, I was irrevocably drawn towards student psychology. Although I handled preschool, I was also in a position to interact with students who were in eleventh and twelfth grade. It seemed as though I was a part of two different worlds, each oblivious of the other’s existence. My preschool kids were innocent, loving and obedient. They absorbed every word I spoke, like a sponge. I still remember how the kids used to fight for the first bench. But then, ever since I made it a point to walk around in class while teaching, the fights stopped. My kids mastered the art of head rotation with their eyes and ears following my gait and sound. You can say, I was their mother teacher. They took my scolding with the same grace as they received my love and care.

However, when I interacted with teenagers in the same school, I realized communication could not get any tougher than this…………………..” Click here to read the whole article.

Spiders, traps and souls.


A few months back, I got a mosquito bat since the mosquitoes have become absolutely immune to coil and Good Night! And presently, my garden is swarming with them as the weather has mellowed down and, is at the moment conducive for both us and them. So, winging the bat gave me the feel of a she-dragon creating fire and unleashing it on the unsuspecting enemies whose sole aim was to drink my family’s blood! And on one fine day, when I was almost done with the massacre of mosquitoes, I saw a sly one flying towards the ceiling. No matter how high I jumped on the bed, I could not bring the bat and the insect face to face. And, while I was trying out almost every Monkey King posture (The Forbidden Kingdom and the Monkey King have indeed taught me a lot in dealing with non-humans), the elusive Anopheles continued to evade my attacks. So, while I was almost balancing on a single left toe, on the bed, with my left palm resting against the wall with my right hand with the bat raised high enough to reach the smirking insect, I almost thought I was going to fall off the bed, not only giving the mosquito its victory but also, adding a physical injury to my defeat! But then, the Puppeteer had other plans! The mosquito danced its way away from my bat and, boy! Did it land? Where and how!

The fine strings of the invisibly light web not only escaped my sight but also my enemy’s! Yes, the spider had a feast that day as the unsuspecting mosquito landed straight in the web. Somehow, I had mixed feelings that day. Now, let me be honest. I bat the blood out of mosquitoes not out of disgust but out of self defense, which is not unusual. Won’t you kill mosquitoes knowing how they enjoy human blood? However, I detest spiders as much as I respect them for their undying resilience. Not because they are hideous looking with the extra pair of legs but, because they bring in the concept of TRAP! They show you what you want and not, what they plan to do with you once you have arrived in their paradise. I still feel like Lil Miss Muffet with spiders around. And, that is what fills me with a strange sense of horror at times. That horror is – Fear of Unknown.

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I am not a fearless woman. I never was. But there was a time, when I probably pretended to be strong and fearless. 2013 broke that charade for good. Because, that year I learned about the power of fear. Until that year, I was not so wary of the said emotion. It felt good to preach people about being fearless. But, my brush with myasthenia gravis in 2013 changed my perception of fear. The cold shivers that went down my spine on the first day of attack is still fresh even though 4 years have passed by. That stormy phase of my life set in with my loss of speech over night. And when it happened, the first emotion was shock. That shock later culminated in a horrifying form of fear when I temporarily lost my ability to see the world clearly. Now, it was not unusual for people to face health issues. But when things go from good to bad, from bad to worse, from worse to “on my way to kick the bucket”, in a span of two days with no prior warning, the word unusual would be an understatement. The days that followed filled me with terrible nightmares as my son was just two years old then. I felt the first wave of what they call – the blow of the void!

With the onset of that nightmarish episode in my life, I felt I had stepped in a trap. However, the Puppeteer who saw me get into the trap was also the one who guided me out of it. Yes, in that phase, I was very angry. Angry with the Puppeteer. For the first time in life, I had no fear of Him. I perhaps spoke to Him in my head baring my absolute self in front of Him. That phase passed too. My belief in Puppeteer became stronger after I healed slowly and steadily in the care of my family and friends, again His creation. But in that period, I also learned of a greater agony, a greater pain. And, it was the unfathomable ache that comes over people who love us with their life, while we lie stone cold on the judgment slab, waiting for the Puppeteer’s decision. That ache………..that stabbing pain……cuts deep………………

And yesterday, I felt not just that pain but to an extent, the void too. A soul that we knew for over three years crossed over to the other world leaving behind his doe eyed beloved, his parents, his friends and the many who lit up seeing that bright smiling face. The shock of having lost this beautiful soul that I talk of, is still taking its time to sink. No one will ever be able to understand the bereavement felt by the soul mate. Maybe, we can feel the empathy. But that void….none can feel but the soul mate. That couple was a young couple that had evolved like children in front of our eyes. Whenever I saw them, my heart swelled with joy, the same joy that is felt when marveling at children’s laughs and giggles. And yesterday, his demise left behind a shock, a vacuum. The incidence of his demise played and re-played in my head for a long time. In all the times it played, I felt like screaming out aloud – “No! Don’t walk there.”  All my thoughts revolved around the zillion possibilities of how it could be undone if the Puppeteer re-winded time. But Hubby’s words brought me back to the real world – “What has happened has happened. One can only look and go forward from here. “

No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake it out of my head, which is also one of the reasons I am letting my thoughts out here. I am yet to accept the fact that he had crossed over leaving his beautiful child like beloved behind. I cannot believe in the reality that there will never be a next time to meet them as a couple. And worse, I cannot bring myself to imagine how the soul mate is currently dealing with the void that life had cruelly thrown at her with no fore warning.

Memories of a lifetime created together, places traveled far and wide, brisk walks and long yaps, promises of growing old together with all the zest, now felt like a stinger. The journey remains to be covered, however. My father subtly mentioned the other day – We all have that train to catch, child. Some board early, while some arrive late. All we need to do is brace ourselves, with enough Hope and Faith.

Sometimes, life throws us traps and, we quite boldly walk into them. We walk into them with no semblance of the word – danger just like this beautiful soul did. That itself goes to prove the humongous faith we have in the Puppeteer. Perhaps, He has his reasons which we may never know of. It is His stage after all and we, are his puppets.

That said, I have faith in you, Puppeteer. Show us all, the way as you have, always.

Amen.

Why I adore Masaan’s Devi.


It has been a while since Trump became the new orange of America, since Arnab quit Times News, since Barkha Dutt left NDTV and since, I have blogged about some serious issues!

A tsunami of thoughts have been creating havoc in my headspace that at times, I find myself engaged in thoughts even when I am asleep. It has a lot to do with the fact that I am truly living in an alternate universe where magic and fantasies are as real as facts and truth. Or perhaps, I am not yet keen on buying masks to hide what I feel. Perhaps, I am not getting along well with the idea of being diplomatically correct all the time! Perhaps, I am just fine as a solitary bird who does not want to be a part of any social circle. Perhaps, being alone in this world without feeling lonely is a very coveted place reserved for a few lucky ones! Perhaps!

Masaan

I watched the movie Masaan yesterday. I have been wanting to watch this movie since long and yesterday, it finally happened. I adore Richa Chaddha. And, I adore Sanjay Misra. Indian cinema has to retain these gems to produce good films that shall influence the society for good. And, yesterday when I watched Masaan, a core issue came to light. The real culprits are not the ones who make mistakes. The real culprits are the ones who do not let people come back to normal life and move on.

There are two parallel stories in the movie. Set in Banaras, the plot revolves around Devi (played by Richa) and, a parallel one is about Deepak, a civil engineer who hails from the cast of people that work at cremation ground, burning funeral pyres. Devi gets caught in a maze of turbulence when she accompanies her boy friend to a hotel room and, gets caught by the police during the raid. But the police take their time to film the act that leads to suicide of the boy. However, Devi lives. She actually survives. Getting through the daily grind, averting her gaze while walking down the street, switching the jobs every time her past catches up with her, Devi plays her ‘silence’ card meticulously. She avoids social interaction, lest her past flares up. However, she is also very clear about her decisions in life. When her father chides her for the fiasco saying “How could you do such a thing?”, she replies candidly without batting an eyelid- “I liked him. I liked to talk to him. And what we did, we were into it, together. He died, I lived. Was his action my fault?”

The character Devi has asked a valid question. Was his action her fault? While the question is contentious, it also brings out yet another pertinent question – “What the character Devi did, was that really a crime?”

Later in the night, I pondered over why people messed up in the head have a different take on normal things. And the answer came through this movie… – What Devi did was not a crime. Perhaps, a careless choice of a place where things could go wrong evidently. A hotel room for sex is like baiting the beast to feed on the live fawn. What were the odds that the fawn could escape? But that said, the crime did happen. Not at the time of the act but after the incident. The crime happened when the police not only filmed the act but demanded a lumpsome bribe from Devi’s father to hush the matter and save Devi from getting a case of abetment to Suicide, filed against her. The crime happened when random strangers approached her with indecent proposals, hinting at searing her future with taunts and shame. The crime happened when her learned Sankrit scholar of a father failed to muster courage and say to his daughter – “Hell with you people! I stand by my child in her rough times!”

Devi moves on and is able to, because she takes charge of her life. Deepak on the other hand, loses his motivation to rise in life when his hopes of marrying his love stare into his face blankly in the form of a dead body that just arrives with the many others. The body is of his love, Shaalu. When he loses his love to a bus accident, his dream of a good life out of the cremation ghat is also burned in that funeral pyre. However, the wheels of time turn and, he learns that stagnancy in life gets you no where.

Happy endings is what people want in real life too. Sometimes, the phrase ‘Satya Meva Jayate’ does not arrive in its truest form when the perpetrators are brought to justice alone. It will have truly arrived only when people like you and me give the much needed support to victims of abuse. To say those words to someone – “We are with you. What happened with you was not your fault. Life goes on and, we will help you move on”, is a big deal.  But yet, we don’t. That is where a society needs to work on. Help the victims. Give support to survivors. Do not stand in the way of people who want to reform and, do good in life.

Be like Masaan’s Devi, my friend!

Recently, there was a discussion in a group about a short clip featuring a 23 year old woman convincing her mother of her decision to be in a live in relationship.

Many of us come from a generation or, have been raised by a generation that believed in the old school of thought – Marriage is a holy union. And, sex is best reserved for it. However, I feel if a woman of today wants to have a different take on it, we should not squirm and instantly jump the gun and, shame the woman. Who knows, live in relationships may be as genuine as marriage. But then again, who knows!

So, when there was a question in the group as to how many women would be comfortable letting their daughters get into a relationship they are not exactly sure would culminate in a marriage, the clarity in thoughts that poured in, was amazing. Many were not comfortable. However, there was a handful who felt that they would not want to barge into their children’s take on relationships. It felt good to see that the winds have changed their direction after a long time and, a change is slowly setting into the new age parenting.

However, as a mother, I do have a small addition to my perception of a woman’s decision in entering a relationship that might be a cross between a casual and genuine one. If a woman is bold enough to take conscious decisions, pertaining to partners, lifestyle and relationships, she must also be courageous enough to bear the consequences without blaming the situation/circumstance/people. Because, when a woman takes a conscious decision, she truly is in cognizance of what she is doing and, why and hence, when the outcome does not favour her, she must take charge of her life instead of getting pulled into the blame shame game. This is where Masaan’s Devi inspires the modern day woman.

If life hurls heart burning hiccups at you, awaken and rise. Take the consequence of your conscious decisions with a pinch of salt and, use your acumen to move on. Women empowerment will happen when women take that lesson of resilience from Devi “Life is going to hurl curveballs at you. They will attack you, dent you, dilute your morale and make you feel worthless. But you must believe in yourself. Because, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will!”

That said, do watch this gem of a movie! It will change the way you think, for sure!

And, I love this song….. Tu kisi rel se guzarti hai….me ek pul sa thar tharata hun…..