The Unanswered Prayers

The current pandemic has hit all of us in some way or the other. It’s like a dreadful dream which doesn’t cease to end. Initially, we never thought that it’s going to continue for so long. All the scientists and doctors are putting their best, yet the cure is still far away.

We have adjusted ourselves to the new normal- not stepping out until essential, wearing masks and social distancing. However, it’s getting very difficult for young children to get accustomed to this situation.

When the online classes were started, there was a little excitement, but now the children are wearing out. Especially my son, who just celebrated his 9th birthday, his first without his friends, really longs to go back to school. Every day he prays to God that COVID vanishes, everyone recovers and the normal life comes back. Almost every fortnight, he cries once and vents out his feelings. But this time, he felt so miserable that he said he was not going to ask anything from God as He wasn’t listening to his prayers. He said he was angry with God because he has been praying every day since February. I agreed with him, saying that COVID hasn’t gone, in fact cases have been increasing only, but this doesn’t mean that we stop praying. I also told him about the good things that it’s God only who has  kept us safe and together, besides he could also get so many gifts on his birthday, but my son failed to pay any heed to me and cried.

The start of the year witnessed an unimaginable arrival of a peculiar virus. As the year progressed, everyone waited for the weather change, thinking if that may help restrict the spread. The year is proceeding towards the end, but the end of the virus is still iffy. All these months we have been inside our homes, frustrated and complaining, yet safe and together with our nearest ones. I keep telling my son that God listens to the prayers, its only that sometimes He takes a lot of time. He has His own time and own ways and we can only wait and pray. It’s just sometimes that our patience is tested to the core!

CROSSROADS – IV

The story in the flashback…

Just as she was thinking about her live-in relation with Suyash, the doorbell rang. Riddhima went to answer the door. It was Suyash with a pizza box in his hand.

Hi!” Suyash said.

Oh, you didn’t tell me that you are going to get pizza today,” Riddhima said, surprised, as she bolted the door.

What? Why should I ASK you? We are not married, so stop behaving like a typical wife.” Suyash retorted as he placed the pizza box on the table.

Why are you over-reacting? I just asked you a simple question. I had already made dinner for us, so that is why I was asking.” Riddhima said angrily.

Dinner!!! Oh my my! You made dinner. Hahaha! Well, now tomorrow you will say you want a baby. Cut it now, what’s going on in your mind Riddhu?” Suyash asked sarcastically.

Oh, c’mon Suyash! Please STOP over-reacting”, Riddhima pleaded. “I told you the other day my physician advised me not to have outside food frequently as it’s not gut-friendly. That’s the only bloody reason I cooked. Besides, I was going to discuss with you about hiring a cook. I have already asked our maid to send someone”.

Another intruder into our privacy! What’s there to discuss when you have already decided?  Besides, I am least interested in these maid talks. Keep this stuff to yourself only. Now, excuse me and let me have the pizza before it gets cold.” Suyash said as he sat down to have his food.

Riddhima too went into the kitchen, reheated the arhar dal and jeera aloo that she had prepared and served herself. She preferred to have her dinner in the bedroom as she was upset with the cold behaviour of Suyash.

THE PEACEMAKER IN MY LIFE

Every time I am angry with someone, I prefer not to talk with the person concerned. It’s easy and gives you time to re-think. Also, instead of engaging in endless arguments, it’s better to give your mind some peace. Time acts as a healer and things gradually normalize. 

Yes, silence often works as a great peacemaker, but not always. Some situations require peacemakers who work as a catalyst to make the sour talks sweeter. And the moment I think of peacemaker, my cousin sister Kuljeet’s name immediately pops up into my mind. Whenever I am angry with anyone, I let her know and she has the perfect logic which works each time. Lending an ear to your problems and solving them is so easy for her. I often yell at my kids when they fight, which is the easiest thing to do, but I also remember the way Kuljeet used to handle her sons when they used to quarrel. She used to talk to them individually, then together, and sought out the differences. With both the sons crying and shouting simultaneously, I wish I could calm them down the way she used to do. 

A few years back, I was having some real issues and was frequently quarreling with my husband. I immediately told Kuljeet and she was all ready to calm me down and listen to my woes. She made me understand where I was at fault. I worked upon those things and everything became perfect.

I have been in many circumstances where conflicting views result in a feud and I always found it difficult to be a peacemaker there and preferred to escape from the situation. After all, who wants to be a punching bag?

Not everyone can be a peacemaker and blessed are those who can be one, because without them it won’t be possible to heal the relations!

GRAB THE BROOM AND SWEEP AWAY THE DUST

Ever since I shifted to Bangalore, I chose not to keep a household help and preferred to do the chores myself so that I stay active at home. People often are taken aback and ask me how do I manage to do so much all by myself and I tell them that I want to maintain an active lifestyle and without going out for work, this will ensure my routine in the house doesn’t get lethargic. Doing the cleaning job myself ensures that all the nooks and crannies are clean and clear from unwanted dirt and dust.

Lately, like many others, I too have become the victim of pandemic stress. Yes, I must admit that on watching and reading the news videos and similar stuff, I ended up fuelling up the negative thoughts inside me. I even wasn’t sure if I could write up my article scheduled for today because I was feeling too low until I talked to Chiradeep, whom I messaged about my inability to write. While we discussed the increasing rate of depression in this COVID era, we also conversed on how we can immerse ourselves in doing positive things.  It’s strange, yet funny at times when you know the exact cause of your worry and still keep thinking about it. The situation is similar to that web in one of those corners of your room. You know that you have to remove it with the broom, but you try to ignore it instead, only to realize that the spider has got enough time to build a bigger web. And, when it becomes too shabby, you just swipe it with a broom.

Our brain is now filled with numerous stuff- work, chores, kids (their health, online classes, screen time, entertainment, homework, etc), immunity of family, and a lot more. Above all this, we load our minds with all the negative stuff that we come across social media. And this needs to stop. We need to sweep away this adverse junk to make the head feel lighter and life easier. Apart from this, you have to trust. Trust in God. Believe in your prayers, asking Him to remove every dirt that you have in your minds. He is and will be there for you, forever.

TOGETHERNESS IN PANDEMIC

It was a 45th marriage anniversary celebration this June in 2020 for my parents as well as for my paternal uncle and aunt, both the couple married just 4 days apart. We had planned a get together last year only and were so looking forward to our gathering until this COVID pandemic ruined our plans.

We wanted to get rid of the growing negativity and monotony, so we sisters, Kuljeet, Prabhjot and I, decided to make a family video to celebrate our love and togetherness. We have a WhatsApp group by the name of ‘Pyara Tabbar’, which means loving family and is quite an active group. So, almost 40 members of our family danced and the final compilation was simply prodigious. Our efforts were highly appreciated and all the members confessed that it was so much fun and they wanted to have a similar kind of celebration frequently. We didn’t let the pandemic and lockdown dampen our spirits.

Whenever we feel low, we make a group video call, sometimes only our generation and sometimes with the elders. Our elders get cheered up just by seeing us all together on one screen. When we cousins make a video call, it’s more of pulling each other’s legs- making fun of someone eating during a call (Prabhjot, I didn’t mention your name), laughing on our pity state of too much work and chores, proudly telling about the new dishes that we tried, etc. One day, my brother, who’s currently in Bangladesh, staying alone, showed us his house, his in-house gym, and his lockdown hobby- painting. Till now he had made more than 10 paintings and has reduced 12 kgs by running on his treadmill every day. Altogether, it’s a wonderful feeling to share our feelings and inspirations. These kinds of video calls happen across the time zones too. last week to celebrate my uncle’s birthday we had a group video call. His son stays in the US and because of the opposite time zones he was half asleep. Poor thing he couldn’t keep his eyes open but we kept teasing him and pulling his leg throughout. Didn’t let him fall asleep 😉

In my friend circle, I have a group of friends who regularly get together to play Ludo online. I never thought playing ludo would be so much fun all over again. It’s like going back to our childhood. Adults fighting like kids in the game. People are also playing Dumb Charades, Antakshri, Lotto online with their extended families and friends. It’s a great way to reach out and come together.

My co-sister joined meditation classes with her sister. Sister stays in New Delhi my co-sister stays in Mumbai and the classes are conducted by a person who stays in another corner of New Delhi. Unheard of around 6 months back. But it works! And gives the sisters a shared experience too.

What if we are all locked up inside our houses. We can still get together and have fun. Connect with your loved ones. Just seeing each other’s faces gives the feeling that we are close by. Like my uncle in Canada said that next time you all join the video chat ensure that your children are also with you. We want to see how big they have grown. Such calls make great memories and give a feeling of being close.

So go ahead and make a dance video with your cousins, or join Zumba with a friend online.. Challenge someone to a cult fitness workout… Or join a prayer meeting with your grandma. All from the confines and safety of your home but together.

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KULJEET SAINI AND PREETA BHATNAGAR

THE 10 PM CONSTRAINT

Some of the best days with my cousins Kuljeet and Prabhjot were spent in a beautiful colony of IIP, Dehradun. As their father (my uncle) was working in IIP, one of the CSIR labs, in Dehradun, he stayed with his family in the residential complex, within the campus, which is one of a kind. Spread over hundreds of acres of land, the colony was full of trees and tea gardens. With the flora, the fauna also flourished and animals like monkeys and jackals were easily spottable, and even leopards too (which was rare though), the area being adjacent to forest range. Due to this proximity, the residents avoided stepping outside their homes late in the night. 

I used to visit my cousins often, especially during vacations. Before my elder cousin, Kuljeet got married, I stayed there for a couple of months. Her friends, Dolly and Archana, became my friends too and we used to have lots of fun. Our houses were very close and hence frequent hopping from one house to the other was common. 

Since we used to laugh out loud every now and then, my uncle, who used to get up early in the morning, had put this 10 pm constraint, stating that most of the people in the society sleep by 10 pm and since our voices could travel far away, we were not supposed to talk or laugh out loud. Though we were not restricted to go to each other’s houses, we were careful enough not to make noises of any sort.  We followed a ritual of late-night tea and each one of us was assigned days. So, when it was another friend’s turn, we would cautiously go out, have tea at her house, chit-chat, roam around a bit, and then come back. On days when it was our turn, our friends used to come over our place. Our laughter was out of force of habit, so to avoid our loud volumes, we would bite our fingers and laugh. Crazy we were and crazy were our talks. We could go on laughing endlessly and over any trifling thing.

Another important aspect was the midnight birthday celebrations. Careful planning and execution were done to do the needful. The birthday songs were sung in a hush tune and the birthday bumps were given silently. 

Our late-night conversations and celebrations still make us nostalgic. Though our volumes were restricted, our friendship bloomed and those were the wonderful days of our lives.

THE LIFE OF ‘NO’

The first word that we teach a child, unintentionally, of course, is NO. 

No baby, don’t cry.

No, don’t put your finger in your mouth.

No, don’t touch that!

So basically, restrictions are born with the birth of a child, even before, as the mommy-to-be follows many restrictions for the safety of the baby and her own good.

As the child grows up, the restrictions also increase and hence the number of Nos.

Can you get me that toy? No

Can I watch TV? No

Can I eat chocolates? No

I guess parents insist more on imposing restrictions on their children, rather than telling the logic behind our ‘NO’s. Obviously, the restrictions are for their safety, but we forgo to explain the reason behind them. It happens with me too. The moment my child demands anything, instead of telling him the reason, I simply say ‘No’. The result is instant- cries and screams are all for your ears! The reason is simple- your logic or reason behind the restriction is not comprehensible for them, so it’s always better to take the short-cut and simply say a No. We don’t even try to explain our point of view to them until they grow up to their rebellion age when they demand an explanation from every answer of yours. And slowly, the restrictions as parents mellow down.

I feel, eventually, restrictions take a U-turn and come back to the parents, which most of us must be experiencing, especially in this pandemic. 

Don’t go out without a mask.

Don’t watch the news on TV, it’s all negative.

Don’t go to buy the groceries, will order instead.

But all we hear is that same old story, “Outdoor walk is essential. You panic so much. We have also seen epidemics. In our times, nothing like of this sort used to happen”, etc, etc.

Restrictions act as prevention, they are difficult, yet they are imposed out of love and care. Few restrictions can be over-ruled, but when it comes to the safety of one’s life, these restrictions act as a boon.

Restrict when required

Restrict yourself from restricting

When you can avoid.