DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY GIVES JOY OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Aquifers of joy spring from within and are manifested in many things that we do which further escalate the inner joy. Since joy is more intrinsically motivated than extrinsically, it carries with it an unalloyed innocent desire to bring joy to others around.

Being in a high ranking state government job, never was a deterrent to getting involved in family matters for my father during his career years. As his immediate family members, we have seen him as a workaholic as far as his official responsibilities were concerned. At the same time, he has been an involved family man.

On days that my mother took ill, we had my father don the apron, wield the ladle and dish out delicious food for the family. Yes, delicious! I mean it. The perfect sugar, salt and oil in whatever he decides to cook. He isn’t great at non-vegetarian preparations or desserts. But, all items of the daily cuisine have been mastered by him. In fact, there have been a few cooking tips and recipes that I have learnt from him, and not from my mother. Pickles are his forte. Coming to tea – by the fragrance I usually make out that he has made it. But, he only cooks for us – his family. It gives him immense joy. There are days in which my mother returns later than usual from work – only to find a full meal ready in the kitchen (well, this doesn’t happen always, but three out of five times for sure).

Not only cooking, he is great at cleaning too. When I was a child, I learnt many of the stain-removal hacks from him. Now we have so many stain removal chemical agents for our convenience, but I have learnt from my father which stains are removed by rubbing lime, which by petrol, which by kerosene oil, etc.

Once a neighbor uncle saw him cooking and asked him about it, assuming that perhaps my mother is an unwilling cook or a lazy bird for household chores. My father replied that he gets immense joy in doing the household chores for his family no matter how busy his official works may make him. It his family after all, and not someone else’s.

Not many men would be so involved in household chores. No matter whichever part of the world we see, household duties are considered to be a woman’s responsibility, not a man’s. It doesn’t matter how egalitarian the society is, gender role stereotypes prevail almost everywhere. And, not many want to break these stereotypes, no matter what the reason.

A part of this societal stereotyping and its aftereffects are there in my father. He doesn’t like it when we tell anyone about his expertise in handling household chores, for an apprehension of criticisms. At the same time, he joyfully continues to do all things for his family – even now in his retirement years.

I have never seen him grumble about any household chores that he does. One reason of course is because he does them out of his own free will. (And, before you think that my mother must be so blessed to have him help around, I must also mention that there are days she has had to chase him out of the kitchen or other work areas for messing with her plans and schedule or for adding on extra work for her because of his ‘help’.)

Doing things differently indeed gives immense joy!

JOY – A TREASURE WORTH ACQUIRING

Snow, rain and hail soak the ground enough to create underground water reservoirs. These underground water reservoirs take the form of natural springs and aquifers and replenish the earth while adding to the aesthetic beauty of the surroundings. Scanty rainfall reduces the groundwater level and dries up wells, springs and aquifers.

Joy is such a well spring that has its source from up above. It is a divine attribute, which unlike happiness doesn’t depend on what you and I do or don’t do. When our lives are soaked with the living waters from up above, the wellspring of joy rises from within.

If I am to give a reason for joy in my life, it is primarily because of the relationship that Jesus Christ has bestowed on me. Nothing that I do or don’t do, nothing that happens to me or doesn’t happen to me, nothing that I get or don’t get impacts that joy ever. It is different altogether.

There have been circumstances when storms have torn apart and ravaged through life, when injustice glared squarely in the face, when failures have sunk the spirit low, when weariness have pressurized the mind and suffocated thinking – all unhappy phases of life – but I have known the joy to have remained untouched. Tears have streamed down and the mind awfully rattled, but a strange joy overpowering them all has become prominent.

I have known, felt and understood that when the presence of God indwells a person, it generates joy from within. Manifestations of joy are different. It is not true that someone who can laugh heartily and make others laugh is a jolly person. Hence, external manifestations are not always good deciders of ‘joy’. A joyful person has a smiling countenance, but not all smiling people are joyful.

Is it possible to be joyful at all times? What about times of pain, sickness, bereavement, disappointments and loss? Can one be joyful during such times?

The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. It is a command. I used to think of the all possible permutations and combinations of life situations that are likely to rock our lives and wonder if it is indeed practically possible to be joyful in such and such situations. That is when I understood that joy isn’t of human origin after all!

It is extremely difficult, but yes, one can be joyful during such times only by allowing oneself to be soaked with the living waters. That is why, it is a rarity to find joy and to be joyful in the truest sense of the term at all times, just as it is not common to spot wells, springs and aquifers on all grounds.

However, once joy permeates lives, it cannot be robbed by anyone or anything, unless one voluntarily gives it up. Such is its powerful presence. A treasure worth acquiring!!

HANDS OFFER WHAT THE HEART GIVES

Joy is intrinsic. It doesn’t depend on circumstances. Yet there are times when tiny acts of love generate joyousness within.

One such account comes to mind.

As a child, I have had my parents and family always teach and encourage ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’ with the needy. We had a pouch of coins in a known spot of our house, which all the family members had access to in case a needy person came calling.

In my hometown, Cuttack, there are specific days of the week in which the poor and needy visit different specific areas of the city and go door to door for alms. The area around my house was visited on Tuesdays.

I used to wait for Tuesdays eagerly to run down the stairs from my second-floor quarters and give coins to these people when they came calling. They usually used to come between six to eight in the morning. Each one’s call was in a unique way. Some would sing songs, some would call out to the ‘kind and benevolent mothers of the houses’, some would shout out loud in a chorus to the ‘big men of big houses’ (bada ghara ra bada babu), some would call out to the ‘ladies of the houses of big men’ (babu ghara maa) while some would be silent beneficiaries in the group.

In my Tuesday trysts, I developed a heart connection with two of them in particular. One was a leper man on a wheel chair and the other was a man who used to push the first man’s wheel chair. The affection I developed towards these two men was reciprocal. There were days when on one shout from them, I would rush to the window signalling them to wait and that I was coming. And, they waited till I went down and gave them a measly few coins. We smiled at each other in this brief meeting of a few minutes. That gave the joy!!

I used to see my neighbours throwing coins from their first floor and second floor houses which these beggars gladly collected (because the poor have always been made to believe and accept that, such treatment is what they deserve). Somehow, I never had the heart to give that way. I always went down the stairs and whenever I was unable to, I had my father and sometimes my mother go down the stairs and give them the alms.

Because of this shared affection, there were days in which they kept calling looking up in the direction of my window till I or someone appeared from my family in acknowledgement. Seeing my affection for these two people in particular, my mother kept a packet of puffed rice for Tuesdays so that I could give it to them. There were days when they were late to come and I had to leave for school before they came. My mother would tell me in the evening that they had come and were given the needful.

They never asked for more. They were satisfied with the little that they got. There wasn’t any greed, nor did they ever try to take advantage in any way. To my tender mind, it was pure joy to meet them with a smile and put the coins and food in their bowls.

I was really sad when they didn’t come for a while, after which only one of them came. The leper man in the wheel chair had passed away. So, till my family stayed in that colony the lone beggar frequented my lane only to stop by my flat and then went away as soon as he received alms from me or someone from my family without waiting or calling on other houses.

Giving for the sake of giving or giving to ensure that one is doing something good, doesn’t always give joy. Had it been so, famous philanthropists of the world would have been the most joyful people. Hands merely offer what the heart gives. When we give cheerfully, intentionally and sacrificially, there is abundant joy. There are times when we give fearfully, grudgingly,reluctantly, ritualistically, out of certain compulsions or out of our excesses. Such giving or helping is limited to the act itself and does not yield any joy.

God loves a cheerful giver.

Its amazing to experience the enormity of joys that ooze of tiny deeds, and to impart the same to the generations that follow.

DEATH: THE EXPECTED INTRUDER IN THE PATHWAY OF LIFE

Between transience and intransience is a deep river that all must wade through. There is no bridge. There is no parachute. None can lend a helping hand. Each to his own respite! There is no other way into the intransience. Most importantly, there is no choice to refuse to wade across the river. Clinging to the transient doesn’t help. Denial of the intransience is self-delusional. The river has to be crossed over!

There is fear of stepping into the river. The depth is unknown. But, there is no option of turning back either. There is no trail behind.

This is precisely the imagery of ‘death’.

Would you ever leave a newborn in the banks of a river knowing that the river waters would soon invade the banks and take along all that is there along the bank? Or for that matter, would you ever leave your parents or friends or spouse or any of your loved ones or even an acquaintance in such a place? Given a choice, most people wouldn’t.

But the thing with death is that, it offers no choice. The magic potions of immortality are best enjoyed in the pages of mythology and then left at that, without expecting precious vials of such potions to mysteriously land up beside the bedside of the blessed. Death is inevitable!

Death is an expected intruder in the pathway of life – ‘expected’ because we know it would come, ‘intruder’ because we don’t know when it would sneak in and put an end to life.

When we talk of being prepared or unprepared to meet death, we mostly think of the emotions, finances and social consequences as loved ones left behind to cope with the loss. We mostly think of the life that could have lived a few more years or of a life that lived to the fullest. We write flattering obituaries and speak fondly at memorials. We accord utmost respect to the departed soul and avoid remarking negatively during solemn times as these.

We often attempt to push death as far as we can within our means – by having the right lifestyle and avoiding known dangers. Modern medicine has enhanced life expectancy hugely. Knowing the inevitability of death, we strive to live life to the fullest potential. However, having strived well, we still have to wade through the deep waters of death.

Scary, isn’t it?

No matter what is the belief system of cultures across the world regarding ‘after death what?’none can afford to disprove death itself.

Death carries with it the ghastly fear of the unknown.

Parents often worry when their children go out on their own. But, when they know that the child is not alone, when then they know where exactly the child has gone, they feel assured, though their hearts (quite understandably) continue to flutter till the child reaches back home.

The fear, anxiety and grief accompanied with death is largely because of the lone journey into an unknown realm – none can accompany, the destination is uncertain.

But, what if the destination is known?

What if there is someone to lead the way?

Is death, a journey – or the end of all journeys?

Is there a destination involved, at all?

Thoughts and philosophies from centuries of old provide explanations for death. Hence, beliefs about life and death are relatively culture-specific and variant.

If life is perceived to be only physical, death would be the end of all journeys. Nothing beyond.

However, life does not merely comprise of the body – but is the union of the body, spirit and soul. We take care of our body, obey traffic rules and steer our vehicles in the chartered path so that our bodies don’t dash against anything or anybody and we don’t end up getting hurt. But, how careful are we about steering our souls and spirits in the right way, so that they are not hurt?

The question might sound a bit uncanny!

Especially because, it is widely believed that death puts an end to all hurts and pains. Does it really?

Death puts an end to physical pain. There is no doubt about it. None would dispute it, because it is visible and cognizable. In fact, we often heave sighs of relief when people in pain without a cure, pass away!

But, what about the soul and spirit?

We often wish peace for the departed soul. Will the departed souls be at peace simply because we wish so? Are those souls in utter disquiet, for whom no one wishes peace?

We also hear people wishing happiness for the departed souls wherever they may be. Would the souls be happy if we wish thus, or they would be unhappy if we don’t?

What can you and I do in preparation to transition into death?

  • First, believe that death is an intruder. It seldom comes announced. And so, preparation is essential to meet this intruder.
  • Second, believe that life is more than just the body. After death, the body ceases to be. But, the spirit doesn’t cease. There is an endless eternity for each of us to face.
  • Third, the preparation has to do more with self than others. We do need to have our house and finances in order well before dying. But, we also need to array our own souls well.
  • Fourth, we need to be prepared to face the Judge of all creation regardless of our belief systems while on earth.
  • Fifth, we need to acknowledge and repent for our sins while on earth. A peaceful death doesn’t ensure a peaceful eternity. Regardless of a turbulent or a peaceful death, we can be at peace in eternity only if we are forgiven.

I often remind myself of the popular statement – ‘Live each day as if it is your last’. To live in love and amity with fellowmen, to live in repentance of sin, to live with the assurance of being forgiven by God, to live in the joy of living, to live with the assured hope of a glorious eternity – is a worthwhile preparation for death.

Would such a preparation, offer any consolation to the loss of a precious one? Not always.

In his book ‘A Grief Observed’, C.S. Lewis writes about the loss of his wife of four years. In fact, he has converted his journal of those grief-stricken days into the book. He shares of his struggles, the memories, the longing to have his wife by his side again, remembering the nitty-gritty of their brief time together, trying to reason with God and then coming to a resigned acceptance of reality. It is a book I purchased when I was searching to gift such a book to a dear friend who had lost her younger sister at child-birth after giving birth to twin daughters.

There were too many questions with the family? Thee young man who dreamt of a happy family, was now broken – having lost his wife and a mounting task before him to raise two children single-handedly. Knowing that his wife led a life of love and preparation for eternity, provided no immediate solution to his woes.

There can be no one-size-fits all type of solution to deal with death. Some of us learn to cope, some repress the loss down the deep recesses of the mind while some never cope with the loss of their loved ones at all. A shoulder to cry, a hand to wipe away tears, ears to hear repeated narration of memories – make losses bearable.

WARDROBE-GING

She always dresses up as a behenji…

Hey gal, c’mon, be a sport! Dress up in brighter shades! You are young . . . if not now, when?

Here comes Babu moshai! He always comes dressed to college as if he is attending a job interview! Chill dude! Be cool!

Ever heard such remarks?

You guessed it right – attires define looks and looks define age. We may argue vehemently in opposition but cannot deny the stereotypic perceptions of society (which includes all of us too, by the way).

My mother’s generation wore saree when they transitioned from school to college. It was compulsory! This was the time between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some schools had the girls wear sarees in Grade 9 and 10 as well. The percentage of female literacy was abysmally low, then. To be able to complete schooling and enrol in colleges was not a privilege all girls were blessed with (some still aren’t even now). No doubt, girls were married off as early as fourteen! And so, they were categorically reminded that they were big now – of marriageable age – hence they need to dress and behave like ‘women’, not as carefree ‘girls’ any more.

This, in my opinion, was essentially a social transition from teenage to adulthood minus adolescence – a taught and learnt consciousness that ‘you are no longer a girl now, but a woman and have to dress up accordingly’. Thinking of it today, I fail to imagine how the psychological transition would have been! How would it have felt to skip one stage of life (as delineated today), without even having any inkling to it!

In this day and age, with the market entering almost literally into our wardrobes, the dressing sense of boys and girls, men and women have drastically broadened and are no longer socially definitive as earlier (though there are exceptions). But, I must say the community that one lives, moves and operates in, plays a vital role in defining one’s attire and consequently one’s social age.

I am presently stationed in rural India – a place which is essentially a cake of conservatism topped with the frosting of modernism. I dress up in traditional Indian salwar-kurtas to work. And yes, not to miss the dupattas!! While within the comforts of my residential quarters, I laze around in T-shirts and trousers or other similar comfy casuals. Two seven-year-olds of neighbor families often visit me and address me as ‘Didi’. As lockdown ended in June last year, a neighbor guy got married and brought home his newly wedded wife who remained draped in beautiful sarees with her head covered all the time. These kids duly addressed her as ‘aunty’, much to my amusement (both the husband (who though in his late twenties has started balding) and wife are much younger to me in age and are promptly addressed as ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ and I am called ‘Didi’). You can well understand why!!

Well, I don’t know what the couple feels, but I certainly am amused each time the kids call us out loud!!

A friend narrated this hilarious incident a couple of months back in which her five-year-old daughter declared before guests once, that she would organize her mother’s marriage in a grand way. After the round of laughter died down, her mother (my friend) tried explaining to her that she (my friend) is married to her (my friend’s daughter) father already. The kiddo refused to accept that her mother is married, citing the reason that married women wear sarees (just as her grannies do), but she has hardly seen her mom wear sarees!!

Our attire defines our age, much more than we can think of. But yes, this applies more to women than to men. Though we don’t have many dhoti-clad men in India now, we would not see as many aged men with designer denims as youngsters too! But if we do come across a few such men, it would do nothing to define ageing in men. Visible ageing in younger men is usually evident from receding foliage on the head or a paunch or by strands of grey hair.  

Women often shift to shades of pastels as they age or when they lose their husbands or if they are separated from their husbands (this has got to do more with a latent or even at times manifest societal compulsion than with one’s personal feelings). I had this schoolmate who had lost her father as a toddler. Her mother dropped her and picked her up from school every day. She used to be attired in bright coloured sarees with her usual make-up on. Once I overheard someone remark ‘Look how ABC’s mother dresses up even though she is a widow; it would unnecessarily draw the attention of men’. I was a 15-year old then and could very well understand what they meant. Somehow, I felt a supportive heart within me towards my friend’s mother that day!

Attire and marital status have the potential to lessen the social age of an ageing individual or age a relatively younger person. No matter how we see ourselves as the years pass by or how others see us, keeping the soul and spirit young and agile beats the fragility of the body. 

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like
curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.” 

Albert Einstein

PARENTING FROM A DISTANCE

With more and more Mommies and Daddies working away from home, parenting is a huge challenge of the hour.

Take this colleague of mine as an example. Let’s name her Mrs. Smily. Mrs. Smily had been a stay-at-home-mom for twelve years in her fourteen years of marriage. Her world revolved around her corporate-working husband and two children that she doted on. One fine day, she received the news that she has qualified the public service exam that she had appeared for, seven years before (systemic delays in govt. machinery is an interesting topic to write on!!) With an enviable job in her kitty, she stared at a transferable job that would invariably involve parenting from a distance. The thought terrified her, now that she had two teenagers to think of! It was a massive parenting transition!

Numerous Daddies and Mommies around the world face this predicament. While both parents working away from home is an inescapable financial necessity for many households, having a formidable career is a personality need for others.

Distance parenting doesn’t always involve working parents, however. Let’s break it down.

Case 1 – Either or both parents work at a different location from where their child/ren live.

Case 2 – The child/ren are enrolled in boarding school or residential college away from the parental home.

Where financial necessity is not a concern, parents go for the easy way out – SACRIFICE. One parent (mostly the mother) quits her job to take on a major chunk of parenting responsibilities. The other alternative is to compromise with children’s education and enroll children closer to parent/s so that parenting is not hampered.

This works well for a lot of people. However, many parents are left with pangs of regret years later somewhere deep down their hearts having not been able to achieve much career-wise. Many are left with regrets of having not been provided access to quality education as the educational institutions were far from home.

So then, how do we handle parenting from a distance?

There aren’t exhaustive fix-it-all strategies. That’s precisely because familial and societal/ cultural dynamics vary widely along the diameters of the world. However, there are certain general age-specific tips that work to a great extent if followed diligently.

I’ll write about parenting teenagers from a distance.

Needless to say that teenage is a hurly-burly phase between childhood and adulthood – with silent prodding whispers in the minds of some and roaring tempests within others. Myriad challenges rock the boat of teenagers. In such a phase, parenting is all the more important.

KNOW YOUR CHILD/REN

Most parents experience the ecstasy of observing their infants take the first steps or utter the first word. In the midst of many such firsts, the developing infant enters into teenage. This is where most parents lose touch. From being the guiding lights in their children’s lives, parents start feeling pushed to corners. And this is where, parents need a firm grip on their teens’ lives. The personality and individuality of teen is forming shape, but the teen is not an adult. Parents, show interest to know your teens well – their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and passions.

COMMUNICATE OFTEN

No matter how busy parents might get, communicating with their distant-living teens ought never to get a backseat. Stay away from the peering eye of parents unleashes them to enjoy and experiment with life and its choices. This is where parents need to be vigilant by communicating often, though their teens are not before their eyes. Phone conversations, mails, video calls – use all media of communication to interact with your teen. Since, this is the age when most teens start hiding part of their lives, parents need to master the art of reading between the lines and also to be prepared to receive certain shockers without falling off their chairs.

ENCOURAGE FREE EXPRESSION OF EMOTIONS

Though all parents desire to have well-mannered teens, many will end up being disappointed. There is no point in having a courteous teen, who is suppressing a volcano within. It is only when teenagers express their raw emotions, can they be guided to regulate them. Even though the teen stays away, a non-judgmental relationship of trust would make him/ her express emotions across the miles.

MAKE YOUR TEEN AWARE OF THE LAWS OF THE LAND

This is an often neglected area. Though it is applicable to all individuals and all teens, it is all the more important for teens staying away from parents. Your teen ought be well-versed with Emergency Helpline numbers; laws against bullying, eve-teasing, cybercrime and ragging; traffic rules; grievance redressal bodies and common acts of justice and justice so that s/he does neither commit errors of omission or commission due to ignorance nor is victimized by mindlessness of others.

HELP YOUR TEEN GAIN FINANCIAL LITERACY

When teens stay away from parents, an often tempting way of compensation is to give too many monetary freebies. This is where parents need to guard their temptations. Giving only as much as a teen requires and guiding him/ her to be accountable for anything that is received and spent along with tips for wise saving and investment would help raise a financially literate teen.

WATCH YOUR WORDS

Though is not something unique to parenting teens from a distance, it is definitely important by several more levels. Harsh words and criticisms from you might make your teen disconnect all channels of communication for days or months on end. This would not only increase parents’ heartbeats, but also embolden the teen to get into an unacceptable pattern of behavior which is not healthy. As parents staying away, may your words be edifying, encouraging, compassionate, coupled with persistent exhortation and wise admonishment. Do not avoid informative conversations on love and relationships with opposite gender.

INGRAIN IN YOUR CHILD THE FEAR OF GOD

Accept it or not, God is the anchor in the storms of life. A teen might be away from the vigilant eyes of parents, but can never be out of the purview of his/ her Creator. In times of loneliness, hopelessness, frustration, dejection, failures, temptations, this anchor will pull your teen through. Having the assurance of the love of God and a fear of wrongdoing will provide stability to your teen in difficult times.

These might not seem to be anything different from the regular ‘handle your teens well’ stuff. But when away from your budding teen, the significance of these seem all the more profound.

CRISES OF TRANSITIONING INTO ADULTHOOD

Transitioning into adulthood is momentous – almost like completing the finale of the first lap of life and embarking into the genesis of the climax. There isn’t any demarcated interlude called ‘transition’ in between shifts from one stage of life to another. I wish there was!

Though each of us is sculpted by the Divine Sculptor, how we for our parts, handle the life events of various stages would be a lot different if we can be prepared for them. When sculptors carve or painters paint, they essentially give shape to an etched mental/ physical imagery. Artists who start randomly and end up with masterpieces are few and far between. So is it with our lives!

Guided transitions are less stressful and less chaotic. By guided transitions, I do not mean to refer to cut-out modular paths to be charted by individuals. Nor do guided transitions pertain only to the transitioning individuals. Along with an individual, it is the family, the society, the nation and the world at large that transitions. Hence, guiding the minds of people to be part of transitions into adulthood at large is vital.

Have you ever tried pushing a door open with all your strength, only to be met with an even greater force holding/ pushing the door from the other end, thus preventing the door from being thrown open? What happens eventually? Either you give up and resign yourself to the fact that the door won’t open or you garner even more strength and break open the door, in the process damaging the door (and any other thing or person that is holding it up at the other end) but letting yourself free. What if someone at the other end realizes that you are trying to push a door open and opens it up for you? You are let free and the door is saved from damage as well, plus you are grateful to the one who opened the door for you.

Transitions are crucial. They involve constant pushes and pulls. As individuals we constantly evolve. Guided transitions help the transitioning individuals and those witnessing the transition to be on the same page.

According to me, four transitional crises commonly hit adults. Understanding, acceptance and adjustment of these are vital.

BODY DYSMORPHIA – Who hasn’t gone through a morning before the mirror wishing for a little bit, if not massive, changes here and there in the body? These wishes are more or less guided by societal standards, media promotions and the infrequent taunts by significant others. Even five year olds are too conscious of their looks these days! Intentionally or not all of us have surely gone through this. Transitioning into adults, girls and guys alter their looks to be attractive enough for their prospective better halves. Though I do not intend to be gender-specific, the reality is that it hits females the most!! Having to continue in their efforts to be presentable and beautiful is a pressure most women carry with them till their dying breaths even if the men in their lives don’t bother much about the retracting foliage on their heads or about the paunches that enter doorways before their feet. While taking care of the body and remaining fit and healthy are essentials, obsession about one’s own body image or body shaming others is an unwanted baggage of adulthood. The crisis of body dysmorphia can be better dealt with if adults realize how the body functions and ages with time, how certain sicknesses force one to look a certain way, how child-bearing alters a woman’s body, and so on – rather than expecting an ideal look from adult men and women.

ROLE PERPLEXITY – The once carefree fun loving daughter faces the daunting possibility of managing an entire household as a married woman. The once nonchalant son is caught between the dilemma of being an obedient son to his parents and a dutiful husband to his wife (in which sorry to say, most men fail miserably). In this transition into adulthood, the spices and condiments thrown into the pot by extended family and society play a crucial role in making the dish delectable or rendering it tasteless for life. Breaking stereotypes is no small game!

WORK – LIFE EQUILIBRIUM – We live in demanding times. Bosses at each higher ladder have families, but rarely realize that their subordinates have families too. The family fabric is being stretched into the extremes with each generation focussing on earning the livelihood that they cannot enjoy spending. Children have parents who are MIA. Wives have husbands who are MIA. Husbands have wives who are MIA. The crisis is individual-specific in certain cases and organisation-specific in most of the cases. Some adults who wish to devote time for their families, hobbies and adventures find their hands tied due to the work commitments, whereas, other adults do not realise the importance of family and hobbies.

SOCIETAL IDENTITY – No longer is the Bunty next door addressed as Mr. Sharma’s son, but by his own name, occupational and societal identity. This identity creates a sense of responsibility which is new for most adults to shoulder. Also, there is the added pressure on singles to “settle” down. The young person may be quite satisfied with his/ her occupational identity in society, but till s/he gets married, the poor person is considered “not settled” by people with sorry faces as if they are genuinely burdened by the singlehood of others around them.

I had my mother share once how my father used to fuss over the sarees that she picked to wear, soon after they had married. His wise father who had been observing this for a while, gave him a piece of his mind, much to my father’s amazement (who didn’t know that his father had been noticing all along). Well, my father hasn’t let go of that habit to this day, but my mother surely felt a hand of support and understanding from her father-in-law that time, in a new house with less known people away from parents.

Facing such and many other person-specific crises, is a huge load on the shoulder of the transitioning adults. Role of adults themselves, caregivers, society, media and counsellors is of paramount importance as to whether the adults that the world will be home to, would be well-adjusted ones or those who would continue to pass on the generational legacy of crises over the years.