REGRETS HAVE NO VALUE – THE END

“Is there anyone in your life?”

She mulled over the loaded question while her mother looked at her searchingly, and in typical motherly fashion, where only mothers can guess what their child is going through, she prodded cautiously, “Why do I see regret on your face?”

She was jolted out of her reverie by Maa’s astute observation. Am I so transparent to her? But aching as she was to shed the deluge from her eyes, she gulped it down. Maa shouldn’t see me break down. It won’t be good for her.

“Regret, yes Maa, because I can’t find a prince charming yet. Maybe I’ll die a spinster with a few hundred cats,” she joked while faking a laugh.

“If that is meant to amuse me, it doesn’t. I’d like you to find someone like Diana did. Find a good man. I know why you hesitate to marry. Beta, not every marriage turns out like my own. Look at Diana….” the twin exertion of talking and worrying produced a fit of coughing in Maa and she immediately curled up in pain on the bed.

“Maa please don’t exert yourself for me. I know what you’re saying is right. I know you’re concerned about me but please, don’t worry. I’ve managed just fine till now and I will even in the future. Maybe when the time is right, I’ll find my Mr Right. Besides I have you now,” she smiled while she handed Maa a glass of water, plumped up her pillow and made her lie back down. “Just rest for me, please. Before I leave, I’d like to see you back in your own home and standing on your own two feet.”

A frail smile graced her mother’s face and Nina felt satisfied, no, content in the knowledge that her broken home was repaired at last. She didn’t care if she spent the rest of her life as a spinster, she had prepared for that eventuality for the past many years. But now she knew she won’t die lonely with her regrets. She had the love of a family, the love of a parent. And love does not have to limit itself to a love between a man and a woman. Love came in such varied forms. She knew she’d be just as happy with that kind of love because up until now she had nothing and no one.

Her mother looked like she was dozing off, so she kissed her forehead and tiptoed out of the room, where the doctor found her and gave her the welcome news that Maa was recovering well and would be discharged from the hospital soon.

A week went by when Maa was eventually discharged and in the midst of family and in the comfort of her home, she got better in no time. Meanwhile, Diana and her husband never once let Nina feel that she was an outsider. Her nieces were always vying for her attention, but what made Nina most happy was that her mother, it seemed, wanted to spend all of her waking hours with her, like she wanted to make up for all the lost time. So did Nina. So they happily indulged each other in small excesses of family life that are born out of love and affection for those we care for.

While at the same time she and Nisha had become more than mere acquaintances. Their frequent phone calls and Whatsapp chit-chats from time to time revealed to Nina how warm-hearted Nisha was. She had come to care for Nisha a lot in a short span of time and it was all owing to how open and kind Nisha was.

“You have to come to Bangalore first and have dinner with my family before you leave for Kolkata, or else I won’t talk to you ever again!” Nisha had commanded Nina and though it came as a surprise to her how quickly Nisha had begun to exert herself in their friendship, this was the most endearing quality of Nisha’s – that she was so trusting and trustworthy. Nina promised her she would come.

The day of her departure from Mysore was a teary-eyed one. Maa kissed her cheeks profusely, there were never-ending hugs and solemn promises that Nina would try to shift her place of work to either Bangalore or somewhere closer to Mysore so she could come and visit Maa and Diana as often as possible. Throughout the drive back from Mysore to Bangalore, she only thought of how bright the future with her family looked. It seemed she had found peace and love at last.

When she arrived at Nisha’s plush apartment, after checking into her hotel room for the day, she received a warm welcome from Nisha and her daughter, Myra. She couldn’t shake the feeling that Myra resembled someone but she couldn’t remember who, that is till ‘her’ Ankit walked in and she realized that Ankit was Myra’s father!

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Time froze as they stood looking at each other. A part of her told her that she shouldn’t stare at him like so because he wasn’t ‘her‘ Ankit anymore, but it was as if her eyes had a mind of their own. They would not stop staring with open longing, regret and sorrow at him.

His own eyes spoke volumes about how he still felt. It seemed the passing years had taken their youth from their faces but the effect they had on each other had not faded.

Nisha was bewildered, offended as well, as a married woman should  be who finds her husband openly gaping at another woman. She cleared her throat and addressed her husband, “Ankit, this is…”

“Nina! Nisha this is the Nina I told you about.” He looked at his wife guiltily, while Nisha clapped a hand over her face in horror.

Nisha’s reaction to this information made Nina realize just what her presence must be doing to this otherwise happy family. Regaining her senses, she stammered, “I… I’m so sorry. I… had no idea she… she was your… I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t be here at all. I’ll leave right away…” and she began to retrace her steps to the elevator, but a hand stalled her.

It was Nisha’s.

“No please, stay. This wasn’t your fault. This isn’t anyone’s fault. You had no way of knowing. And besides, what does it change? You liked him and he liked you but that’s in the past. The future is that you and I are friends and I don’t see any reason why the past should have any effect on that.”

Oh god, why is she so sweet and simple minded? Nina wished Nisha would rebuke her, tell her to leave, tell her that she wasn’t welcome in their cosy lives, but instead Nisha wanted to be friends. What kind of woman is she?

“No please I can’t. I won’t…”

“You will.” Ankit’s voice boomed out from behind them, “Because otherwise, you’ll break Nisha’s heart. And because you owe me an explanation.” His voice may have been gruff, but there was a hint of hurt in it. Nisha tugged at Nina’s hand and after much cajoling, Nina came back to their apartment.

There was an awkward moment when neither knew what to say or where to look but then Ankit turned to Nisha and asked, “Can I have a moment alone with her, if you don’t mind?”

“Why would I? I trust you and her unconditionally.” Nisha smiled up at her husband and then, without a word, without a glance back, went away to another room, shutting the door behind her, leaving them alone in the spacious living room that felt too small because of the suffocating silence that inundated it.

Ankit began, “How have you been?”

She smirked and shrugged, “As you can see, I’ve been good, I guess. And… you?”

“I think you can see too.” His lips smiled but his eyes didn’t.

Nina sighed. Yes, she could see he was very happy and led a blessed life. Till she came around with her sorry self, dredging up memories of a sad past. She felt like a useless piece of furniture that needed to be discarded.

“You’re very lucky you have her. She’s a great lady – warm, loving and accepting. She trusts you so much,” she looked down just then because she couldn’t stand being stared at by his searching eyes.

“I know. But you never did,” he accused and her head shot back up to his eyes. But he wasn’t done with his assault, “You never gave me a chance. You never told me why? And today I want you to tell me because I don’t think I’ll ever have closure unless you tell me why.”

A tear rolled down her cheek and she swiped at it with an irritated hand. She didn’t need any more embarrassment, but God, it seemed today her body was not under her own control. “Why?! Why indeed! Maybe because I didn’t want a marriage like my parents had. Because I didn’t want a broken home. Because I wasn’t sure if I could survive after suffering another heartbreak…”

“You thought I would walk away from you just like that? Nina, you never trusted me or my love to give yourself up to me…”

Yes!! Yes, I couldn’t trust you Ankit, because I didn’t trust myself! I didn’t want you going through what my father did. I didn’t want to be a mother to a child who grew up in the fear of being rebuked, beaten and abandoned. I didn’t want to turn into my mother!” She was crying openly now, uncaring whether her mascara and kohl ruined her face or not, or whether his neighbours heard.

“So this was why you rejected me? Because you couldn’t trust yourself to be better than your mother? Bad families do not run in the genes, Nina! Love, togetherness, effort, sacrifice…trust, that’s what makes a happy family.”

“Yes, I know that… now. My sister has a wonderful family of her own and I know now that broken homes can be mended as well. And you… look at your own family. It’s beautiful, just what you deserve! But it’s too late for all that now,” she looked past Ankit to his home, his happy abode, his life, and then with the solemn understanding of someone who has come to terms with their loss, she said, “I love your wife. She’s the perfect partner for you that you deserve. I think it was destined for you to marry someone like her who had no issues with trust. I wish you two all the luck in the world and I want you to know that I’ll never, never, never bother either of you again.”

Alarmed, Ankit said, “But why can’t we be friends? Nisha is not the sort to bear grudges, Nina. She likes you immensely…”

“And so do I but I can’t live with my regret staring me in the face everytime I see you or her. And neither of you deserves that kind of burden. We can’t be friends!”

She started backing away from him and he opened his mouth again to say something but Nina cut him off with a staying hand, “No Ankit, there’s nothing you or Nisha can say to convince me that staying friends with you will be of any good. I’ll only cause problems if I stayed. I was the past, she’s your present and your future, and the past has no place in the future, Ankit. So please don’t stop me. I won’t be stopped. I’m so happy that you’re happy, believe me, I am and I’ll always pray that you stay this way with your family. Farewell.”

Clutching her handbag to her heart like it was her lifeline, she hurtled down the stairs. Ankit called out to her, but she didn’t answer. Then Nisha called out to her, but she didn’t turn back. She knew what she had to do. She knew her place and it wasn’t as anything or anyone in their lives. She knew what she had found back in Mysore. She knew there would be no happiness for her unless she let go of the past. Her past had only regrets and regrets had no value. She had vowed she won’t lead a life of regrets anymore and she knew letting go of this regret was the right step into the future.

Onward she went and never looked back.

 

THE END

 

Image Source: CC0 Creative Commons at Pixabay.

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FREE INDIA: I BURNT YOUR HOUSE BECAUSE YOU BURNT MINE

Today is India’s 69th Republic Day.

69 years ago we gave ourselves the Constitution and swore to abide by it as honest, progressive and peace-loving citizens. 69 years hence we are doing everything but that.

We are now a nation that not only endures but covertly even encourages religious bigotry, self-righteous vandalism, myopic sexism and ruthless rioting. Certain sections of our citizens have learnt that the Constitution is actually a toothless tiger. Worse still, some of our countrymen believe that it exists only so that it may allow them the freedom to engage in vandalizing properties, killing their own countrymen, abusing each other’s religious sentiments, violating our men, women and children and terrorizing their own brethren over trivialities like a movie!

This anger in my writing is a reaction towards the fringe mob attack on a school bus which was conveying children to their homes. The mob was protesting the release of the controversial movie, Padmaavat, in Gurugram, India, and had preiously burnt a State Transport bus before setting eyes on the school bus. Those of you who yet do not know of the attack, please head to this link and see the horror for yourself. And those of you who want to know why there are protests over the movie Padmaavat, please click on this link.

Anger swamped me when I first saw the video on a news channel and I’m sure this is the same emotion that must have overcome you while you were watching that video through the link above. These were innocent, harmless children, some as young as 4 – 6 years old, who were heading home from school, while their bus was assaulted with stones and sticks by an unruly mob whose only reason to protest was the release of a movie that depicts a character from folklore…okay, maybe history, but that character is very much dead.

I repeat – this was a ‘moving school bus carrying children‘.

Thankfully there were no casualties, but what if there were? What if the driver got hurt while he was driving, leading to an accident… and deaths? How does attacking children resolve the issue for these rioters? Where do we draw the line between the right to protest and heedless vandalism? If you have watched the video you may have noted the newscaster’s anger and she is right in pointing out, ‘These could have been my children, these could have been your children’. But it’s not just about whose children these were. The bigger question is how do you justify attacking an alive human being over a piece of fiction?

Sometimes I feel freedom is wasted on us Indians because we don’t just misuse it, we abuse it. This is not the only case of abuse of freedom that we have seen within the last one year itself in India. The very start of the year was besmirched by the infamous mass molestation of women in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve, followed by equally shocking incidents like the inter-religious attacks over the beef ban issue, the Bhima Koregaon attack and the northern India riots over Godman Ram Rahim Singh’s rape conviction. But these are bigger transgressions in the name of freedom. How about everyday abuse of freedom – in the blatant violations of traffic rules; in our stubbornness in finding loopholes in the law; in our netas not only supporting but propagating vandalism and unlawfulness; in our ‘chalta hai‘ and ‘jugaadu‘ attitude for everything; in a person spitting or peeing on public property because he can and because there’s no one to put a check on him?

The above instances prove that we have not only no regard for the law, but also that it has become the agitated Indian’s habit to take to the streets and cause mayhem, sometimes going to the extent of drawing blood, in the name of religion, cult, culture and gender? Throughout these incidents, the Police were powerless, the governments inert while the opposition is either muckraking or fuelling the agitation.

What use is the Constitution? What use are these words contained in the Preamble:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and… FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation…

These are just words if we Indians do not internalize them and base our lives upon these ideals enshrined in the Constitution. My fellow Indians, remember, we are lucky that we have the freedom to do as we please, to go where we want, to worship who we want and to practice what we want. There are many other nations out there where freedom is not freedom in the real sense of the word; where you may be free to breathe, but death is considered a better option. Consider yourself lucky that you are born in a country where tolerance is not just an ideal but a way of life. But in your lust for freedom do not forget that you are part of a bigger thing – you are a nation. You, your beliefs and your actions are what shape your nation. The future of us, our children, will have the same beliefs as you do. Give them a better lesson than violence and intolerance.

Freedom does not mean that you do as you please. If every one of us was free to do as we pleased, we would have anarchy. Freedom comes with a responsibility – that of respecting the freedom and well-being of others. If you don’t respect the right’s of other’s, why will other’s respect your rights? If you have burnt someone’s house to the ground citing religious freedom as the reason, remember tomorrow your house could be the victim of someone else’s right to religious freedom.

Violence does not need a reason but remember that you only reap what you sow.

This Republic Day, let’s take a vow to be responsible citizens. To bring out differences and resolve them by dialogue and not violence. To practice freedom but not out of malice and indifference towards the freedom of others. To abjure inhumanity, intolerance and deviant behaviour that harms the people of this country and the ideals of our forefathers. Citizens, compatriots, this Republic Day vow to rise above your menial differences and become better human beings.

Jai Hind!

Image Source: Catchnews

WHY SARCASM DOES NOT MAKE YOU WITTY

“She’s so fat even a hippo would look slimmer than her.”

“I thought I was looking at a blackhole!”

“Dodos aren’t extinct. I’m looking at one.”

“Looks like the waiter went off to grow those coffee beans.”

And the quintessential Indian snark – “Arey kahan mar gaya?” (Where did you go off to?) Actually, nothing in the English language comes close to translating the anger, frustration and derision in this Hindi idiom that literally means ‘did you die or what’.

When we, at Candles Online, decided that this week would be dedicated to ‘Pour Out’, meaning thereby that we would get an opportunity to rant on anything that our hearts desired, I jumped at the opportunity of writing about Sarcasm and how we seem to confuse it with wit. Well of course, there is a fair bit of wit involved in making a sarcastic comment – you have to know the recipient, you have to select a thorny topic that irks them every time, or would irk anybody in a certain situation, and find a clever way to garb that in a jocular form so no one can call you a meanie on your face. That takes intelligence alright. No wonder sarcastic people are also liked so much because it requires ample presence of mind to make sarcasm work. So, to anybody sarcasm = intelligence. But I don’t see it that way, or don’t see it that way anymore. This article makes a case for why witty sarcasm does not make you intelligent.

All of us, at some point in our lives, have been guilty of using the highlighted statements above, or something similar to that. We may have also been at the receiving end of such statements. After all, it’s so satisfying to dole out smart and wicked barbs at others just for the pleasure of watching them cringe or suffer. Right? But when you were at the receiving end of such barbs, did you ever notice the feelings it generated in you, even if it came from a friend? Did you not feel insulted, ridiculed, angry and disgusted, even if it was only for a fraction of a second? Would you want to feel that way? I don’t think I’ve ever come across a person who likes to feel that way, forever or even just once. Then why do we like to incite such feelings in others, when we ourselves would not like to feel that way?

No, no, don’t try to defend your statements. Don’t try to tell me ‘that person deserved it’ or that ‘it was meant as a joke’.

Sarcasm is never, I repeat, NEVER, a positive thing. Even if it is deserved, or meant as a joke, there is an element of derision present in it. Which is why I said, ‘guilty’ at the start of the paragraph above because it is a guilty pleasure that is purely born out of our contempt for someone or a situation.

Being at both the making and receiving end of sarcasm has taught me just one thing – it’s never welcome. I have been one of those people who would make unwarranted sarcastic comments on people only to watch them cringe, or to look smart. I’ve done that even to friends and at the time I used to think that it was cool, that it showed how intelligent I was. Only when I lost a lot of friends owing to my sarcasm did I learn that it just wasn’t worth it. But by then it was too late. There are some of my acquaintances who I’ve met recently and who were unaware of my changed behaviour, they still dislike me because of how I used to make fun of them. And now it hurts!

But I’ve noticed that it’s become a trend these days to not only make sarcastic comments but encourage them too. While I was at school, it used to be considered cool to say ‘Excused!’ in reply to ‘Excuse me‘, or if someone is clumsy, then remark ‘he was born with a hole in his hand‘ or when you bumped into someone, ‘do you have eyes or buttons’. Even when I joined college, it was not only the same, it was happening even more. Maybe I’d always been this sensitive but it always came as a shock to me how someone could be so blatantly contemptible to others, even to their own friends. Maybe that was the reason why I became that way as well, because I saw it happening around me all the time, but I shouldn’t make excuses for the way I behaved. Watch any television show, especially comedies, and you’ll come across characters like Dr. House who makes blood-boiling sarcastic comments. Yes, we love him but that’s because we are not at the receiving end of those comments, unlike his poor co-workers.

So, we know that sarcasm is not a good thing. But how do I prove that sarcasm does not make you intelligent? I’ll give you an example from my life.

A few weeks ago, while I was dining with some friends, I heard someone in my know remark, “I think she’s gone off to Darjeeling to pluck the tea leaves”, to her boyfriend, about a waitress. This was followed by pointless tittering from both she and her boyfriend, who I could see, liked the way his girlfriend made such ‘smart’ comments (trust me, I know this person very well and she LOVES to make sarcastic comments ALL THE TIME). This incident was the reason why I started to think about why we are encouraging sarcasm so much in our society. It’s a nuisance, admittedly, but its encouraged because it gives us pleasure to inflict pain on others. That sort of behaviour is called sadism. Why are we garbing it as intelligence? Why are we encouraging behaviour that inculcates tolerance to sarcasm? Intelligence does not lie in making fun of someone, especially when that someone is in a position where they cannot answer back. Like the waitress in the above case, or a daughter or son in law, or an employee or servant. If you make a sarcastic comment on people who have the better sense to not answer back, and you know that they can’t answer back, then who is the more intelligent of the two?

Real intelligence lies in knowing when to shut up and when to just ignore a person, even when he deserves sarcasm from you.

So if your friend drops something for the thousandth time, now I think it’s better to just walk away rather than say something sarcastic and hurt our relationship. If you have never known just how much more satisfying it is to just walk away from a sarcastic person, rather than getting down to their ugly level, then I urge you, please try it. It’s difficult at first, but ultimately every bully will learn that his barbs are not working on you. But the main reason why you should not be making sarcastic comments is because it hurts someone and because you would not want to hurt that way. 

I hope that I have convinced you, dear readers, that sarcasm is not a witty thing, it is the opposite of it. It may give you a moment’s pleasure, but in the long run, the real loser is you. I know all of us get tempted to succumb to that sweet pleasure, and maybe every now and then someone may deserve it too, but please don’t make it a habit. You never know when you may be at the receiving end.

 

LIVE – MEANING OF LIFE

Albert Camus

‘You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.’

Religious texts, prophets, saints and the newest fads in wholesome living all advocate you to find the meaning of life – find out your purpose and live the way you ‘ought’ to live life.

Quite frankly and I’ll be blunt about it, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why we are so preoccupied with the true meaning of life. What I don’t understand even more is what finding out the meaning of life has to do with religion, because life, in my opinion, came before we found religion. In fact, at the cost of being branded an atheist, I’ll admit here that I feel life is far bigger and more complex a concept than religion. It may be just a four letter word, but it encompasses within itself concepts that none of us mortals will be able to figure out within one single lifetime, and that religion is only a part of life itself. Even if someone served us the meaning of life on a platter, it will take a much more evolved human brain than ours to grasp its entire meaning. For who are we, but puny human beings, living on limited air and time?

To me, the exercise of devoting one’s entire life to finding the meaning of life is a life not lived because life has so much to offer than trying to figure out what it’s about. To me, the question is rather subjective. The meaning of life could mean different things to different people. If a saint comes and tells me that the meaning of life is blah, blah, blah, I won’t nod my head in mute acquiescence. I’ll say, ‘that’s your way of thinking, not mine’.

To give you an example, a few months back India was witness to two parents abandoning their toddler to the care of her aged grandparents, in order to become Jain monks. They relinquished the world and embraced monkhood. For those of us who do not know about this, please read about it here. I don’t know about you but when I read the news I felt that they had wronged their toddler daughter by relinquishing her to care of their parents. They relinquished their duty as parents, something that should have come over and above everything else to them. But that is not what they think. To them the true meaning of life lay in religious pursuit.

My reason for giving you this example was not to tell you my opinion of whether their action was wrong or right, it was to show you that there is a difference of opinion in what matters in life most. There is thus, inherently, a difference of opinion in the assumed answer to the question ‘what is the meaning of life’.

To a pauper, the true meaning of life may be to earn enough one day to leave the footpath for good. To a rich man, it may be finding a balance between his work and home life. The purpose of a mother may be to ensure the good upbringing of her child, but the purpose of a career woman would be to be the CEO of a good company. A priest may find peace in devotion to religion, while a scientist may find it in a new invention. Who do you think is right or wrong? None of them!

So when two people, their desires, the way they think, the way they attain their goals, their very raison d’etre are different, how can they concur on what is the meaning of life?

Life is so many things to so many people, it’s meanings cannot be ascribed to a few set ways in which a few of us perceive it. To me, life is about a careful balance of pleasure and duty, ambition and sacrifice. I believe there are a set of duties that all of us mortals were born to fulfil, and some pleasures that every one of us must be entitled to enjoy. If we have ambition then we must remember to let it not trample on the lives of others. That is a kind of sacrifice and a duty. And that is not the only sacrifice that a human being must make in his life. When a person achieves a near perfect balance in these two sets of extremes, is when I believe we have found meaning in life.

My point is, and you may not agree with it, but that’s your opinion, that figuring out the meaning of life is keeping you from fulfiling your very purpose of existing on this planet – living your life – which is why you have life running in your veins. All of us have a life because we were supposed to live it. We have different ways of living it and that is fine, because there cannot be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ way of living. We all live according to what our circumstances allow.

I believe that we have only one life to do and be all that we wish to do and be. I feel that if we do not forget to be ‘humane’ at all times and lead a life of peace and harmony, balancing our duties against our pleasures at all times, is when we will not need to search for the meaning of life.

THOSE CREEPY-CRAWLIES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘YIKES!’

Do you cringe when you hear an owl screech in the dead of the night?

Do you yelp when you see a snake?

Do you hide under the blanket when you see a creepy branch rapping against the window,

Or jump on the bed when you see a spider/rat?

Of course, you do! Don’t be all brave and snobbish!

There is nothing, nothing wrong with being afraid of something or someone. It’s one of the most primal emotions known to mankind – fear, in fact to every species. A dog is scared of a bigger dog, a snake is scared of a mongoose, a lion is scared of man. Fear is often the only thing that is between survival and death. Then why hide behind a veneer of forced bravery?

Okay, it’s Monday morning. Let me not preach!

This week on Candles Online we are discussing Phobias and Fears. Since this is a Monday morning post (the week’s worst day), and since I’ve done some serious sharing on my real ‘fear of failing at writing’ in another blog post, I thought I’d spare you all the drama and start this week off on a lighter note.

So what’s my great big fear? Any guesses?

(Hint: It’s related to an animal)

It’s LIZARDS!!

Apparently, a fear of lizards is called Herpetophobia. So that makes me a Herpetophobic!

Yes, I have a morbid fear of them. I can’t tell you just how revolting the sight of their jaundiced skin is to me. To top it all, thrice in my life have I had their slithery bodies plopping onto me from some overhead crevice, the most recent incident being just a week back, and I nearly had a heart attack; my Fitbit recorded a heart rate of 165 bpm when that thing fell on me, I kid you not!

And as if that isn’t enough, I’m the butt of all lizard jokes in my family. Every time a lizard happens to be in the room, someone goes, ‘Oh, there’s a lizard lurking in that corner. Watch Pradita go bananas now!’ My husband has even captured me having a breakdown on account of a lizard in the kitchen on camera! Yes, I’m that lame.

Now onto the analysis part. One must ask why are we scared of itty-bitty creatures?  Can we not shoo away a lizard? Can’t we sweep away a spider or a cockroach? Can’t we trap a mouse? Yes, we can. But our fears take ahold of us and force an extreme reaction from us even for something as small and harmless as a spider. Some people are just born with it, but with most, it is because at some point of time, when we were growing up, we were exposed to a similar over-reaction from someone else and it became a part of our behaviour. It could also happen because we have been taught to be cautious of creepy-crawlies, because they are either disgusting or because they can bite/sting. So we developed a habit to react strongly since then because it got hard-wired into our brains.

As we attain adulthood such unnatural and senseless fears generally abate, but there are many, many out there (like me) who are just as scared of a bug as they were when they were five, some even requiring medical intervention. Granted some creepy-crawlies, like cockroaches, are carriers of disease, and lizards infact help you in getting rid of these pesky bugs from your home, but we still go berserk when we see them.

There is a scientific reason too for why we are afraid of these tiny creatures. It’s because our brains confuse disgust with fear; because both are strongly associated with something called the rejection response. As we humans evolved we incorporated this disgust-fear response into our behaviour. so it became a part of our ‘behavioural legacy’. That makes sense to me, considering how I think lizards are actually just disgusting rather than being fearsome, because really, what can they do to you, except scare the living daylights out of you when they detach their tails and freak you out. Yikes!

I’ll give you a real-life example. My daughter loves all kinds of animals. She calls lizards ‘Lizzy’ and when she started recognizing animals she had no qualms or fear about going after even the ickiest of bugs, like slugs and centipedes. She was unlike me in the presence of a lizard. But that changed over a period of time when she saw me over-reacting to lizards. Now she replicates my reaction when she sees a lizard and I hate myself for it because I’ve taught her to have an unnatural fear of these things instead of telling her calmly that she should be careful of them. Lesson learnt. Hopefully, I’ll undo the damage I’ve done in time, but parents beware, you may be passing on your fears to your children.

Coming back to the point of fear and how they affect us, the fear of bugs and icky things, laughable as it may be to some, can be quite crippling to those who suffer from it. I am unable to sleep in a room where I’ve found a lizard. There was an incident when I was in college, and a lizard was camping in the washroom of my paying guest accommodation, and I refused to go to the bathroom all night long, with the result that I had severe cramps the next morning that required painkillers. I have taught myself to control my unnatural fear and anxiety with regards Lizards, but I gave these examples to only remind us all that fears, even of the tiniest of creatures, are not a laughable matter when they start interfering with our normal lives. Extreme distress caused by these fears and phobias becomes a psychological disorder that requires treatment and therapy.

How do we prevent this from happening? In some cases, like where you just are afraid of such creatures, and they start to cripple your life, don’t be ashamed to seek help, you really can’t do anything else. But when you start getting those nasty panic attacks, breathe and tell yourself that they can’t harm you unless they come in contact with you (in case of those creatures that are disease carriers or sting/bite), and that in most cases, those poor creatures are more scared of us than we are of them!

Above all, do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow yourself to be humiliated or humiliate someone else for having these phobias. Remember every one of us has a fear of something. If we don’t, we’re liars.

I leave you with this quote by Tim Hoch –

Don’t be fearless, just fear less

Have a great Monday everyone!

 

Featured Image: ThuyHaBich at Pixabay

WHAT’S A HOME? – I

The milk had boiled down onto the stove, hissing angrily onto the burner, the revolting stench of burnt milk filling the tiny kitchen. Meghana muttered tame curses under her breath. She began mopping up the spilt milk when the doorbell rang. ‘Manu! Please, get the door.’

Three seconds later, the doorbell rang again.

Manu?!’ No response.

She rushed to open the door for the milkman, paid him, slammed the door shut and ran to her son’s bedroom to wake him up. For the fifth time.

‘Kabir, beta, get up. It’s seven already, you have to be out by eight. Hurry!’ She threw his quilt back and picked up her eight-year-old in a bid to break his slumber. ‘Come on, wake up,’ she prodded him, ‘If you get late and miss the bus, I’ll have to drop you by the Metro. You don’t like the Metro, do you?’ He moaned a sleepy no. ‘Then go brush your teeth, bathe and come out and eat your breakfast.’ Off she went to the kitchen again, where she found her husband lazily reading the newspaper. ‘Manu, I called for you so many times. Where were you?’ That was more of a complaint than an actual question.

Arey baba, I was in the balcony reading the newspaper. Didn’t hear you.’ He replied, without so much as a hint of compunction.

Wah! You keep reading the newspaper, and I run around here barely managing to accomplish everything.’ She muttered.

Uff oh, stop nagging in the morning! Where’s my breakfast?’

‘Here,’ she handed him two plates of food and added, ‘Make sure Kabir finishes everything.’

She busied herself with their lunches. By the time she was done, it was nearly eight. She ran to the dining room with their lunches and found Kabir still picking at his food. ‘Kabir! Why haven’t you eaten anything? And Manu why didn’t you urge him to eat?’

No response again. She sighed and sat down on the table to help Kabir. After a few seconds she cleared her throat and said, ‘Manu, I have my dentist’s appointment in the afternoon.’

Manu humphed.

‘So, could you pick me up after the procedure is finished?’

His head jerked up, ‘What procedure?’

‘Extraction. My wisdom tooth. No rickshaws or cabs go there because it’s far. I won’t be able to talk much either. It will get difficult to come back by myself. Can you do it? Please…’

‘Tsk, Meghana. You know I hate this! I’m not going to be your chauffeur.’ He said dismissively.

‘Manu its only for today. I’ll be groggy with anaesthesia…’

‘No! Not today. Just write the address down on a piece of paper and show it to the rickshaw or cab walla.’

She stared at him, stunned. Then asked, ‘And what if he’s illiterate; because most of them are?’

‘Then don’t go. I can’t come with you today. I’m busy. Take another appointment.’ He got up and went to the bedroom to get his things.

She just sat there in silence, digesting his outright refusal and callousness. After twelve years of marriage, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to her but it did. And every time that happened she would go on a guilt trip – He’s busy. He’s got too much work. But of late she had noticed that he just didn’t want any responsibility beyond working and paying off the bills. She managed everything, right from Kabir’s PTA’s to the household chores and grocery shopping all by herself. And it was okay, really. It’s just that, sometimes, she thought, it would be nice if he could help, or just say – I’m there for you.

Manu and Kabir left, calling out byes to her that she didn’t hear because her head was muddled up. Maybe she was over-reacting. Maybe she was expecting too much. But today, she told herself, I don’t care. Anger surged over her.

I want to get away, she thought.

Forget the dentist. Forget everyone.

For just one day.

Within the hour, she was bathed, dressed, and without paying any heed to her household responsibilities, she was out of the house; she didn’t know where to, but she didn’t care…

Continue reading the next part HERE

PREPARATION FOR PARENTHOOD

This week on Candles Online, we are discussing the importance of preparation in our lives. There are things that you can enjoy the most when you dive in head first, but for a majority of important events in our lives, we feel that we must prepare ourselves. Is parenthood one such event? Without doubt, yes. And yet, it often throws even seasoned parents into a conundrum.

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Source: Good Parentig Quotes

No matter how many books you read, or gyan you get from mothers around you, or prenatal yoga you do, nothing helps you get back on your feet faster than the thought of your newborn unattended. The stitches from my C-section still burnt with intense pain but one whimper from my daughter would make me spring up from my hospital bed. I wouldn’t entrust her feeds to anyone else. I’m sure many mothers will agree with me when I say that their mothering experiences were quite different from the one’s around them in certain aspects. The same goes for parenthood in general. No amount of research on being a parent is enough when you’re tackling a toddler who refuses to brush her teeth with ‘pink’ toothpaste and wants the ‘blue’ one instead. Aaaah, now there wasn’t anything about toothpaste choices in that book on parenting, was there? Don’t bother checking. There may be a thousand, no make that a million, other instances that the book doesn’t offer advice on. Why? Because every parent and every child is unique.

So should we not prepare for parenthood?

Of course, you must! While much of the learning about parenting happens on the job, there’s still a lot you can learn beforehand by observing others, through books, even through your own experiences as a child. For example, I am eternally thankful for the parenting books I read that acquainted me with the bowel movements of newborns, or else I may have had a heart-attack when I saw my daughter’s first few stools changing colours after every two days!

So yes, books, videos, the experiences of others, they all help you prepare, but the very first step in preparing for parenthood is preparing oneself, and by this I don’t mean buying things for the child, or redecorating your home to make it baby-proof, or going to the doctor or taking your health supplements on time; I mean preparing oneself emotionally to become a parent.

Two days back I talked to my best bud who is not a mother yet and we were discussing how some of our friends are second-time parents already, whereas she couldn’t conceive of being mommy to even one child because she thought she wasn’t prepared for it. What did she mean by that? Not prepared financially? Or her residence wasn’t baby-proof? Or that her career didn’t allow her to be a mother? It was all of that too, but mostly she meant that she wasn’t yet ready to take on the responsibility of taking care of a child. She wasn’t emotionally prepared.

Why is emotional preparedness important for being a parent when it’s your body and your pocket taking care of the child? It’s because biologically, after attaining puberty, most people can become parents very easily. Some are as young as just teenagers when they become first-time parents, but to be a good parent, one must be willing to take that responsibility and ensure that they will do their best to be good role models to their children. 

 

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Source: Pinterest

From what I have learnt after being a parent, parenting is all about being responsible, sacrificing and setting a good precedent for your child. Parenting is a lot of work and most of the time it’s a thankless job. Oh! also most of it is guesswork. Add to that, today’s definition of a parent does not limit itself to ‘someone who takes care of a child’ because the term ‘childcare’ itself means taking care of the physical, emotional, educational, financial and spiritual needs of a child. No wonder it’s a confusing experience for most first-time parents, but let me tell you, it isn’t any less confusing for second and even third, or fourth-time parents, because every child is unique! Again taking an example from my own life, my mother tells me, I gave her hell at mealtimes, and she fretted that my brother would turn out the same way, but he turned out to be an angel. So much for her parenting experience!

So if you are planning a family or are expecting a child in your world soon, the first thing to prepare is – yourself. Ask yourself if you’re ready. Ask your self if you will be devoted to your child – love him, nurture him, ignore his tantrums and bad habits, yet guide him on the right track to life and be a friend, mother, father, family, guide, teacher, protector and cheerleader to him for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you answer yes to all of the above, you’ll know your preparation for parenthood is almost done. Now go ahead, have fun being a parent and yes, you may now buy that cute dinosaur onesie! 😉

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Source: Pinterest

Featured Image: OnlineMommyDiva at Pixabay