CROSSROADS – VI

Avinash sat on the sofa sipping while, an action movie on the screen. The perfect evening to wind up. But his mind was not in the movie. He was lost in the past. He remembered the small piggy tailed Riddhima. They were next-door neighbours and practically grew up together. He had a lot of friends but she was the one who used to help him out when he was in trouble. As a young boy, he had a knack of getting into trouble and then face the wrath of his strict father. Most of the time she would come to his rescue. Be it sneaking in some sweet delicacies when he was in time-out or giving him an alibi when he got into trouble. She would always say that you would do the same for me when I am in trouble. 

When they stepped into adolescence both got busy with their own sets of friends and studies. But whenever they met they brought each other up to date. She told him about her first crush on the head boy of the school. He told her about his first kiss with his girlfriend. How she teased him about it all the time. She used to call his girlfriend dumb and he used to be so angry… That’s another story that the relationship with this girlfriend didn’t last long. 

And then there were these famous arguments they had. They could argue on any topic under the sun. That was because when it came to life both had a diametrically opposite view on everything. But maybe these arguments let them stay grounded and not move too much to one end of the spectrum. 

The tables turned when she got her first job. She seemed to be getting into a lot of trouble after that. Oh want an uproar there was in her family when she moved in with Suyash. Ridhima’s mom called Avi to drill some sense into this Riddhi. But no matter what anyone said she was determined to do her own thing.

Avinash supported her through it all in fact calmed down her parents and talked them into accepting the live-in. 

But then that night almost one year into her relationship with Suyash. Avinash got a call from Ridhima. She was hysterical.. Crying shouting, completely broken. 

When the beer spilled on his lap he realized that he was so angry on the mere memory of that night that he was unknowingly crushing the beer can.

Ridhima had on the other hand plucked the courage to speak to a doctor. Or maybe was so desperate that she had to see a doctor. She walked into the doctor’s room. Dark circles under her eyes were already telling her story. “I can’t sleep. Even if I get to sleep the demons of my past and present keep haunting me. I tried having Restil too that is not helping me either.” 

I am desperate doctor.” 

My whole life has turned topsy turvy. It’s affecting my work also.”

The doctor heard her through and asked her a few questions about her age, diet, stress levels at work, and other things. Doctor asked her when did it all begin.

That fateful evening when she entered the room with her hand full of flowers and big romantic plans in her eyes. The day her life shattered into pieces, flashed in front of her eyes. Wondering how to put it all in words.

WORK FROM HOME – I WANNA GO BACK TO MY WORK PLACE ☹

It was raining heavily and I was balancing my umbrella in one hand and the purse in the other hand and another small bag with my tiffin etc. I realised that I had missed my bus. No auto or taxi in sight and I was frantic. There was an open day in school today. I couldn’t afford to be late, I just had to reach before the parents started streaming in. What a bother…

But today sitting at my window looking at the falling rain I was wistfully remembering those days. It was hectic but it was fun. I didn’t know I could ever miss meeting my colleagues, even the irritating ones. I didn’t know I could miss the early unearthly hour of reaching school. I didn’t know I could miss the noise of the children in the corridors and the hustle-bustle of the school. But I do. Only when the thing is gone do we realise the value of it. 

Anyways cut to present. My life revolves around three words – Work From Home. Let me give you the picture. My husband and I are working from home and my two children are studying from home. And the poor WiFi Router of my house is trying its level best but still barely keeping up with the demands of all our PCs, laptops and mobiles. 

With no need to get up early the teenagers in my house get up just 10 mins before the class is about to start. I don’t know how they manage to look and sound presentable when the teacher calls out their names for attendance. 

As far as I am concerned. I have come to realise that with work from home the work never stops. When we used to go to our workplaces there was a point in the day when we used to shut down our PCs and head home. The work for the day used to end there. But it’s no longer so. Everyone knows you are at home and have nowhere to go. So no fixed lunchtimes and no pack up time. Work goes on endlessly with endless kitchen breaks and cleaning breaks in between.

I am at home the whole time but I am not spending extra time with my family. We all are working and talking on the phone. Looking at each other and willing the other person to get up and make the next round of tea.

The guys working in the IT industry had their processes etc streamlined for work from home environment. But I work in a school, we were always hands-on, never heard of work from home in our line of work. So you can imagine the scrambling we must have done to make teaching at home and learning at home possible. The teachers are no doubt struggling and their struggle is visible but the administrators behind the scene are dealing with completely new ways of running the school. Every form, every notification to staff or parents has to be online. Every programme the school used to conduct has to be online, even exams have to be online. All schools are struggling to come up with a foolproof method to test the students sitting so far away in their homes. There have been storytelling, recitation, elocution, fancy dress competitions online. We even managed the group singing competition and skit also online. 

So in short for people who are not used to this system of working, work from home is a lot of additional hard work, intercepted with bouts of frustration ;). But there is one big advantage of work from home. It has made many of us learn new things and become more technically advanced. People who used to shy away from computers etc., are using it like a pro these days. 

So keep learning guys. This is a transition time hopefully we all will learn to handle work from home better.

ARE WE RAISING A BRITTLE GENERATION?

When the popular Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide I was shell shocked. Only question in my mind was WHY?

I mean as a typical middle class person we all aspire for the success, fame and money. And he had it all… So what went wrong?

He is not alone. Recently there was news of a 17 year old Tik Tok star committed suicide. This social media star enjoyed a huge following on various social media platforms and had gained immense popularity due to her dance videos. So again the question – WHY?

Another actress of the ‘Balika Vadhu’  fame and contestant of Big Boss too committed suicide couple of years back.

These are just a few famous people we know so their deaths have made headlines. There are thousands others – students, housewives, patients etc who give up on their life and it is just a small news item in some inside page of the newspaper. And a notable trend is that the number of young people giving up easily and choosing death as a way out over the struggles is on mercurial rise. And many a times the reasons too are quite absurd.

* Problem – Failure in exams; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Didn’t get the new iPhone; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Parents denied night out with friends; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – not enough social media following; Solution – Suicide.

And I can go on with the seemingly funny reasons that we can laugh away but serious enough for this generation to take the dreaded decision or at least emotionally blackmail their loved ones into accepting their clueless demands, as well as jetting them in deep sorrow because of their weakness to confront issues or simply lack of trust on the bond they share with their close ones or simply because of their low to no comprehension of life and its value.

The question that looms large is why? We have a big hand in glove in raising such a brittle generation. See how:

  • The primary reason I understand is the parenting styles. I have seen parents of the mindset that “I will provide everything that my child desires. He /she will not suffer as I did in my childhood for small things because heck I can afford it“. This mindset of new age parenting is actually denying the children their right to evolve and grow strong. The struggle is cut short by providing everything readymade in platter hence snatching away from them the entire exercise and experience of knowing the value of things and they end up taking life very lightly only to be hit hard in the real world. When they grow up and the world does not fulfill all their demands like their parents used to they are at a loss on how to handle the situation. This is the point where they succumb easily to even the slightest of pressures.
  • Not being able to handle a loss is also another major cause of breakdown. Be it a breakup or death of a loved ones; be it a failure in an exam or business or career, some people really struggle hard to cope with it. As parents we need to make a child emotionally strong also. I personally as a mother tell my kids that it’s ok to fall, to fail, to lose because be it a game or life situations change. Not every moment or person is same. You might get hurt but you must know the art of self healing. And I firmly believe that this mental grind must start at young age. Usually we see parents intentionally losing to kids so that they see them happy and as they grow up parents want kids to win for their (parents’) happiness, irony isn’t it? Efforts must be consciously made to make our children understand that losing is not a big deal but not trying again or losing hope surely is. I see rather an alternative approach where winning, coming first, excelling in every sphere for the recognition purposes, being perfect is being encouraged. That is creating an immense pressure on young minds.
  • The prevailing education system sadly is not creating great characters. Our curriculum is on great deficiency when it comes to imparting good value in its students. It’s more or less a system following “demand and supply” theory. The occupation in vogue in the market decides the curriculum of the young ones. Educational institutions are no more a character building laboratories but factories mass producing robots having no substance / knowledge when it comes to their inner mechanisms (read mind and soul) in the face of extreme life situations. Surprisingly a lame man from a village is far more tactical, holding more wisdom and knowledge about life than a Masters degree holder just out of the college with no exposure to life outside the campus. And rightfully he is not the one to be blamed. In the first case life has given the needed lessons but in the second case the education on which the students rely so much for their betterment must have enough material to train the young minds. It’s really appalling that world history has witnessed numerous great personalities whose patience, hard work, perseverance, never say die attitude, humility we can swear by are either never a part of the text books our kids read or simply mentioned as a blink and miss chronology just to add the volume of the book. To put it precisely our education system is actually churning out literates and not educated ones with strong minds.
  • Wrong concept of “space” has doomed us. 10 years of age and we fear saying something to our own kids. They might get hurt, their space might get encroached, they might feel ashamed of our involvement in their lives… give me a break!!! These are the guidelines on which new age parenting is working on. This extreme fear of “we might hurt them” is actually making kids overtly sensitive. Imagine a baby is crawling towards an electrical switch board, what would be the immediate action of the parent , stop the baby or he/she will get hurt, isn’t it? Then why parents of young kids fear the reaction and go to inaction mode? Wouldn’t that harm your baby ? Is the world outside so considerate? It is our responsibility to train our children into a strong personality by telling them wrong and right for our grey hair isn’t just age but experience too. Its absolutely ok if they feel bad now but have the last laugh when life puts them in a tricky position for they know the solution. Giving space doesn’t mean dancing to their unacceptable whims and fancies but respecting their opinions, giving a thought to their ideas and thought processes, providing an amicable environment for their invidualities to prosper in a fruitful manner.

The crux lies in how we nurture our gen next. Right from the beginning one thing must be made clear : Life is not a bed of roses and world is ruthless. Whatever results your choices bear, own them up and don’t kneel down for we have your back!!! And one thing we must remember : Attachment and Love are not synonymous. Attachment with our kids impedes us from being strong whereas our Love for them groom them into a strong personality; an individual with an individuality even if it means being adamant or painted in bad light sometimes.

***Not a parenting tip but an emotional note: I think what a troubled person genuinely needs is empathy and a listening ear. There are already demons inside their heads telling them that their lives are not worth living. So they don’t need any more judgments or rationalizations they need someone to hear them out, pay attention and understand.***

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KALPANA VOGETI AND KULJEET SAINI

 

FLIGHT OF FANTASY

She soared up in the sky. It was a beautiful night. The full moon shining bright and the city lights below giving fierce competition to the moon. She inhaled the cool breeze and flapped her wings. Oh, how she enjoyed this flight! The freedom to go wherever she wanted… Each and every light below beckoning her to come to check out the fun that they are having.

She perched on a window. The mother was putting the baby to sleep and the obviously tired mother had fallen asleep but the baby was flailing his hands and legs in the air and cooing. She whistled a beautiful song. The baby enjoyed it and finally fell asleep.

She flew over a dark alley. The policeman was walking his beat. The burglar was hiding in the shadow. She chuckled to herself and gave out a loud hoot. The policeman turned in the direction of the sound and saw the burglar trying to enter an open window. “Now he will catch him,” she thought. 

Again she soared in the sky. The brightly lit market place attracted her. She perched on a street light and saw a couple in the window of the restaurant having candlelit dinner. They both had smiles on their face and eyes only for each other. 

Oh!” She sighed “Life is so beautiful.”

She looked up and saw them – the guards were coming. “Oh no! They are coming for me. They will lock me up again…  I don’t wanna go back there. I want to fly…” She tried to get away but she was caught. 

It was morning and she opened her eyes. The steady beep of the machines and the distinctive smell of hospital told her that the dream was over she was back –  strapped in the hospital bed, paralyzed waist down. 

I will walk” she affirmed “One day I will fly...” and smiled at the nurse.

SEGREGATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME

Every year we celebrate World Environment Day. A lot of programs are done and pledges made. But I guess this year, more than ever we are realizing the damaging effect, we humans are having on the environment. It really is the time now to take some concrete actions or our future generation might face some even worse calamities than what we are facing now.

One step that I think is the most important is to make a conscious thought on how we dispose of the waste we generate. This has become more of a focus for me since my husband ventured into plastic recycling and solid waste management business.

You know that plastic has seven different types and each type can be recycled or reused. Used plastic is actually a lot of value. People are ready to buy used plastic. It can be recycled and converted into pellets that are used in various things from manufacture of fabric to lying to roads. Plastic is also used as fuel in factories with controlled combustion processes.

Then why is plastic considered to be a villain? Why are the mounds of plastic being accumulated in the landfills? Why are people just not picking it up and using it?

It is because of how we dispose of our waste. We are generating that waste. So it is our responsibility to ensure that source segregation is done at our end. It is inhuman to expect someone to scrounge our waste and separate the plastic from the dirty smelly kitchen waste. See the recycle value of the plastic also diminishes when it becomes dirty and filthy. Separating it, then cleaning it, and then recycling is not a viable proposition.

So please segregate the waste at the source itself. If possible use your kitchen waste to generate manure and most importantly, keep the dry waste separate and try to ensure it reaches a recycler. Mostly all municipalities are also asking the residents to segregate.

I am strictly following this segregation. Next step I plan to venture into producing manure from kitchen waste also. That is a little more complicated, but segregation is very easy; it’s just a matter of forming a habit.

Believe me, if we all segregate the dry and wet waste and ensure it is disposed of properly half the battle against plastic pollution is won.

 

BLASTING WEDDING CELEBRATION

She looked into the mirror and didn’t like what she saw. The eyeliner wasn’t proper. It’s her wedding day and she wanted to look perfect. The groom’s party would be on the way. There’s festive atmosphere all around and she’s yet to be ready.
 
Her father was teary-eyed when he saw her coming out finally. She was looking like a beautiful princess. Everything was so perfect till her mother rushed into the room sobbing… “There’s a bomb blast on the road where the baraat had to pass. They’re uncontactable.”
 
The world around her came crashing down as she fainted and was taken to the hospital. 
 
When she woke up, she found, on the bed next to her was lying her fiance smiling at her, “I’m just little injured but still in one piece… God saves my sweetheart… And trust me, we’ll have a blasting wedding celebration.” They’d a hearty laugh.

A SURPRISED MOM

PROMPT: Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw…

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw. Her face had a haggard look, roots of hair showing white. Crows feet beginning to develop near her eyes. When did this happen? When did she let go of herself?

Mummy can’t find my physics book“, the call brought her out of her thoughts. “Mumma I am hungry…” said the second one she smiled. Pulled her hair in a messy bun rushing off to look for the book and make breakfast…
Surprise!!!” Her hubby and sons shouted in unison… “Breakfast is ready for the queen of the house.” The elder son gave an exaggerated bow.  “Happy mother’s day Mom“, pecked the younger one on her cheek while her husband was just smiling at her.
Sitting in the spa later, she wondered that she had not let go of herself she had spent the time in building a family.