LETTER TO MY FATHER

Dear Father,

Hope You are doing well there. I am fine here. It’s been long since I opened up about my feelings. Today I want to let it flow without any interruption or inhibition.

I want to tell you how much I miss you. The lateral distance between us seems irrelevant as I find you by my side every day in my dreams. Every time I cook your signature dishes I miss your touch in them. Every moment I watch my kids grow up I can imagine your expressions and reactions if you were around them. Every year when my trips are due to my homeland I can visualize how happy you would be to receive me. Whenever I have a disagreement with mom I know you would vouch for me. To put it plain and simple you are never away from me.

But more I find you closer to me more I regret not apologising to you for my rude behaviour, for my harsh words, for my cold shoulder that I gave you when you least expected it. We had a crisis, we stood together and rose to the occasion but I did let anger dwell within me against some of your decisions. The new then-found independence handed me over a bit of arrogance which I sometimes used in my words that hurt you. That was in the spur of the moment though.  You never held any grudge against me. We fell apart but kept flowing together only to reconcile more strongly. I thank you for everything you did for me.

Now having a family of my own I understand how spearheaded words can leave you wounded for long or forever. I plead of being guilty to have done the same to you. I wish I could have apologised to you early. I wish I could have ripped open my heart to you to show how guilt is written all over it. I wish I could talk to you one more time.

I miss you and I am sorry Daddy.

Yours Lovingly,

Daughter.

P.S: please post this letter to heaven as my father resides there.

People say “better late than never” but I would say “do it before it’s too late“. As a family, we all have such moments transpiring among us where in the heat of arguments or disagreements, disappointments, disapproval we end up shooting curses, venomous words to hurt people and satisfy our ego for that moment. Later everything falls back to normalcy. We sometimes apologise, sometimes take “Sorry” for granted and never actually say it because we know our family loves us with all our follies and we move on.  And many a time there are instances that our leniency would never give us a chance to say it to the concerned person even after we realise how wrong we were because that person is gone like in my case.

Remember: Apologise now before it’s too late because later you might have all the courage and beautiful words to express your remorse but the person might not be there with you forever.  Uncertainty’s thy name is LIFE.

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DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM

What’s Freedom? Probably not setting up the alarm in the night and not worrying about the clock ticking in the morning; stuffing up your favourite dishes without giving a damn to calories or pounds; spending without having to think twice about the bank balance and so on. But these things are too trivial, in fact, insignificant to define a deep and profound concept of “Freedom”.  My dear friends Chiradeep, Aastha, Prerna Aditi have beautifully given their insights on the same.  To be precise this week is about “Misuse Of Freedom”. Let’s see if I can bring something new to the plate, fingers crossed.

I hail from India, the largest democratic country in the world, where people have a say, rather “The Say”. It’s the public that elects their leaders to lead from the front.  To say the least, everyone knows what democracy means.  Our constitution makers after freedom decided to award a democratic setup to the generations to come because they precisely know what slavery means. And antonym to slavery is free, isn’t it? In my opinion, it won’t be wrong to say that “Freedom” is an unmistakably characteristic trait of democracy.

Freedom to choose and elect, freedom to practice the preferred religion, freedom to speak, freedom to contest (elections), freedom to form associations and so on so forth.  We really are a free nation. Really? That’s worth a point for a good debate.  Well, I am not up for that at this point.  Let’s focus on “Misuse” of freedom in a democracy.

Just as freedom (trust), when breached in a relationship, leads to disturbed bonds and emotional shutdown freedom in democracy when misused gives birth to disharmony in the country.  The bricks of democracy are laid on the foundation of trust – on its public and the government, trust that they will work in tandem with the interests of the country.  But alas there is no dearth of examples where this grant of trust/freedom is not only breached but murdered brutally.

Let me list a few examples:

  • A stand-up comedy show and a certain gentleman cracking up the most distasteful / under the belt jokes about a particular section of people in the society.  And when questioned it was all tucked under the carpet in the name of comedy. And freedom of speech card used effectively.  How appropriate is that?
  • A group of people shouting out anti-national slogans or instigating and poisoning minds  – again freedom of speech is highlighted.  Doesn’t it amount to being a traitor? Questioning the government on its policies is exercising freedom to question but conspiring against the country is treason, case closed!
  • A public servant or a politician misappropriating public funds for their personal purposes, amassing illegal wealth is a classic example of misuse of many things per se power, trust, freedom to build future.
  • Electing an unsuitable candidate as a leader purely based on false propaganda without a fact check is a misuse of freedom to elect which can only result in damaging the future of the country in an irrevocable manner.
  • Freedom to Express themselves is often misused as a right to abuse on social media and people often forget that if they have freedom to express themselves others also have freedom to disagree.

That was a handful and of course a very vague view of how “Freedom” could be and is misused in a democracy.  Freedom is a precious gift that must be cared for because of freedom exercised with responsibility no matter in what capacity paves a way for a better future, period! Freedom doesn’t mean to encroach other rights. And when freedom in a democracy is misused that’s what exactly happens – abuse of others freedom and rights. A small example: you have are free to celebrate your success at your home with your near and dear ones and in that process you break all the rules pertaining to the decibel levels thereby disturbing your neighbour’s sleep. On questioning you say “that’s my choice how to celebrate”.  Fair enough but what about the other party’s right of having a peaceful environment.  This happens.

We must value our democratic set up as much as we do our freedom as it demanded so many sacrifices, remember it.

Have you ever wondered why we need policing, rules and laws? Simple – to instill fear (respect is a minority, unfortunately) of consequences if your rights or freedom as a human or citizen are misappropriated.   They are to give everyone a fair chance of exercising their “freedom” and to curb misuse of it.

HUMAN AID + HUMANOID = GREAT RESULTS

Research is something I rarely do.  When the current topic of  Robots / Humanoids – their intrusion or inclusion in our lives was tossed up I was told this would require me to do some research.  The only humanoid I know is Chitti ( not even 2.0) from the movie Robot (Indian movie).  I was a bit reluctant for you know I am lazy at another level.  But going deep into the description about what we are expected to write about it I found it really interesting, so decided to “Hail Google”.

Well not beating around the bush and coming to the point I was very much interested to see how a robot or humanoid can prove or proving to be helpful for kids with special needs. As I scrolled down different pages available on the internet. It was really interesting to see how the introduction of humanoids is registering their importance in helping kids with special needs. Learning and communication have seen evident levels of improvement. And one thing I noticed is that as I was surfing different pages content of every page was different as in the countries where experiments were done, the robots involved, the figures and so on. Let me share a few examples :

  • International Robotics founder and President Robert Doornick says robots are especially effective at teaching socialization skills to autistic children. When kids interact with robots, he says, they “no longer worry about being criticized or judged by their behaviour or inadequacies, and are free to interact with a robot because it’s just a cool toy.” – This one is from the US.

La Trobe University Professor Rajiv Khosla with Matilda

  • Companion robot Matilda helps Australian teachers create engaging learning environments for special needs students while improving their cognitive skills – an example from Australia. 

 

developmentally disabled nj student getting help with robot
  • Meet “Alphabot,” our very own, interactive, 23-inch-tall humanoid robot who offers many new, exciting possibilities for students at Alpha School. This small, but mighty special education teaching tool is opening doors to the minds of our students.  This is in New Jersey. 
  • Source: Google

So every page I checked into opened up a can of new ideas for me about how can my child get benefitted if at all we introduce a robot to him.  My child is autistic and obviously, socialization and communication are the blocks we are working on to tumble them as effectively as we can.  With school and weekly sessions after schools through things moving in right direction no matter how slowly I am just wondering what could be the impact of having a big talking toy taking charge of effective interaction with my child in the way he likes (don’t think I am a billionaire, I am just toying with the idea)

As far as I know, my child, he does get attracted towards anything mechanical but his interests never sustain for a long time.  For example a few months back we bought him a musical keyboard as I saw him interested in the same. For the first few days, he did play it, experimenting with different keys and kept himself engaged. As the keys no longer seemed to be suspense for him his interest waived off.  On the other hand, he is still interested in the tablet (only watches for about 30-45 minutes in a day) as the visuals and the sounds are more interactive in the sense he sings along, learns along.  There are many things like names of colours, animals & their sounds, numbers, alphabets, rhymes etc that he learned from YouTube apart from what we teach him.  Going by what I saw I believe a fully loaded humanoid with artificial intelligence in the techniques concerning a kid with special needs could be of great help. The peculiar voice (for machine nevertheless it is and I would prefer it that way only) will be the first thing to engage his interest and with a toy interacting with him just the way he likes it communication is something I am expecting to improve.

Another area that slightly lacks my investment is spending time with my son.  Though I try my level best to keep him engaged with me in many ways – cooking or plain talking or activities but I often sense that the amount of time devoted is less than what it takes, thanks to the circle of chores. A humanoid fully functioning for him I can be sure of the time spent interacting.  And with the controls in our hand, his safety is something we can be sure of.  And I also believe a robot can be an immense help in controlling him physically amidst his meltdowns.  And who knows if it could give him a massage which I am unaware of targeting the correct points calming him down effectively.  With my strength obviously on a descending note over the years to come to a helping hand handling him will a big advantage for obvious reasons that the involvement of a machine will surely pause his agitated momentum and he will take notice calmly.

Not just about communication I believe these mechanical replacements to human aid can go a long way in making them independent as in not dependent on any human being for their daily little needs. For instance, my son now daily throws a tantrum to brush his teeth which I feel is a result of his oversensitivity to things, in this case, the feel of brush on his teeth or gums.  It’s a constant fight for me to make him brush his teeth, he really gets upset and tries to use violence (just flapping hands to ward off me) to escape it. Things could be different if it’s his toy friend in place of me. He can hold him more firmly and possibly get it done more smoothly.  Might assist him in things like dressing up, wearing shoes, cooking up his breakfast and so on making him more and more independent.  And that’s all in care for when I am gone.

 

Though an idea but I would say a wonderful one with a possibility of yielding better results when in tune with responsible humans for humanoids at the end of the day need commands/programming, for their processes thoughts are a result of our thought process.  What say? I would love to have such a humongous toy for my son to be with him for life.

MONOTONY IS CAPABLE OF BREAKING HARMONY – BEWARE!

A regular scenario:

A woman murmuring angrily and washing dishes “how I wish I haven’t had accepted the marriage proposal, I was blinded by your rosy words.  Every friend of mine is leading a dream life – holidays, gifts, maids – what not and look at me here I am stuck in a vicious circle of breakfast-lunch-dinner-dishes-dusting” and as the obviously upset wife was continuing with her complaints and work ‘Boom‘ a strong sound from another room disturbs her rhythm.  She hurriedly washes her hands and rushes in the direction of the sound, wiping her hands on her sides and shouting “what happened, what now” and suddenly all her angry/complaining tone took a U-Turn to worry.  She saw her husband lying down on the ground as he slipped on a wet floor (thanks to kids getting hyper on a weekend) and wriggling in pain.

Oh! You have to be watchful, you are not a kid anymore. What if I was not around.  Look what have you done to yourself” and the flow continues (in-built in a woman’s genes 😁) while on other hands she was blasting up kids for such irresponsibility.  And she helps her husband to get up and get to a comfortable place. Hurries to get medicine, applies it and sits beside him to comfort him.

All the angst she was carrying disappeared in the air in a fraction of seconds and her love and care for him came to the surface.

It’s a pretty normal scenario we are grown up watching, experiencing in our own lives.  More miles we cross together, more milestones we reach more and more monotony sets in (majority follows the suit) making us doubt the very root of our relationships. But time and again many situations arise that restores our faith in love and determines our strength as a unit – a couple.

Reason beyond monotony:  When we mark the beginning of our relationships (committed ones, marriage or otherwise) we are set out to discover each other – likes, dislikes, mood swings, characteristic traits and much more.  This journey of discovery and self-realisation is always interesting. And definitely with an ample amount of Romance sprinkled the commencement is always colourful, bright and interesting.

But things take a different turn (not a U-turn necessarily) when we know each other really well and responsibilities of providing a safe & secured future occupy our priority list.  Efforts to thrill, surprise or cajole each other definitely take a back seat.  Perhaps sometimes we take each other for granted as well when it comes to the “Romance” part of life.  A petty example: a boyfriend reaches his girlfriend at her short notice leaving everything else at the helm of fate.  But when the same person is a husband and additionally a father can’t do the same thing unless an emergency is awaiting his attention for he is working to shape a better future for his beloved family.

Well, I won’t start off again on concepts of Love-Romance-Responsibilities, boring, right?

But Monotony has to be broken. For a simple reason – too much sedimentation of monotony could push love into the darkness of oblivion which is present but not obvious.  And that’s the point where harmony in a relationship is at stake.  Monotony in a relationship is one of the reasons resulting in issues like infidelity, extramarital affairs because “New and Undisclosed” always attract.  Comparisons and fall outs could also be probable outcomes of a never ending uninteresting routine.

How to break monotony:  I am not a columnist working for a magazine answering questions concerning relationships but I have few things in my mind (thanks to observation & experience) that I want to share, might come handy someday 😊:

  • Revisiting past is important to rekindle the lost giggles. Watching photographs, DVDs, a small talk over a cup of coffee about the treasured memories can help a lot in bonding again and again.
  • Quality time together.  Not necessarily expensive holiday trips but a stroll hand in hand, chirping or sometimes saying nothing just letting the golden silence sink in to dispel the disturbance caused by the clutter of words resonating in mind.
  • Cooking, yes you read it right. Cook your partner (oops I mean for your partner 😂😂) for the way to the heart is via the stomach. On contrary, you can also skip to cook sometimes, for the first step in breaking the monotony comes from breaking the schedules and anyways online ordering is so easy, use it, folks!.
  • Sharing chores often helps two ways – reduces the work stress and more time spent together in disguise, productively too 😁.
  • Gifts (though not a great supporter, yet won’t reject it completely) do work wonders.

Always remember one thing: Romance may fade over a period of time but love doesn’t.  If it’s the love it’s always there, just break the monotony to realise the beautiful feeling of being in love.

CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF LOVE

First things first, I am primarily focusing on Love between a Man and a Woman as a Man and a Woman that “could” culminate into life long togetherness. So other forms/facets of love not bothered here on this page today.

14th February is round the corner and something really obvious and repetitive going to happen. Ask me, I will tell you.  Television channels airing the same old “brand ambassador for romance” movies with a caption “Love is in the air, come experience it“; prices and sales of the greeting cards & flowers moving in the same – North direction; malls painted (well, almost or figuratively) in hues of pink, purple and red; girls planning how to react to the surprises they would or could get whereas boys demanding appraisals to meet the expectations of their fairer counter parts when it comes to surprising them. Have I missed on any point?  Yes? Let’s catch up then 😉.

And surprisingly it is something that I have noticed over a decade or fifteen years period(approximately), there’s been a transition in the very idea of how Love is perceived or looked at. The deep, vast and varied characteristic trait of Love has been reduced to a one-dimensional and shallow concept of Romance.  There’s a huge difference between Love and Romance. Few points of difference in a bird’s view:

  • While love is about staying together in thick and thin, romance commences when you are thin (read petite and svelte) and starts suffocating with extra pounds gained.
  • While romance demands regular surprises being in love requires absorbing shocks together .
  • Romance is more or less about flying sparks whereas love is about staying rooted with strength.

Well, that was preachy, isn’t it? But a truth indeed. Unfortunately with generations ascending Love and Romance are used as synonyms more often.  There’s an upward spurt in the number couples being rebels without a cause just because it’s more adventurous and they send a statement across and equally rapidly increasing number of fallouts after entering into a committed relationship (read marriage), growing number of couples giving a try to “live in relationships” because of their commitment phobia or simply lack of trust in their “Love” towards each other.  Thumb rule to be understood: To be romantically inclined towards someone it’s enough to know the good things only but to be in love forever you need to accept the negatives too.

And this is what is missing in love stories spun off late.

What could be the possible reason behind this shift? I am possibly too immature or possess little knowledge to talk about the infiltration or influence of one culture on another, so I won’t start dialog on that note.  What I see is the huge impact of electronic media in the form of films and television.  Love at first sight, sugar-coated talks, all perfect people, pleasant surprises, glossy images – this is what influencing young minds.  And by young I mean as young as 15 years. Shocking yet true. People started believing what they see onscreen, they imitate them and strongly desire to live their dream of a perfect relationship as portrayed on big or small screen.  But soon gets a reality check once the honeymoon period (not literally 😂) is over and responsibilities make in roads into a relationship.  Adjustments and compromises which a are part and parcel of relationship underlined by love are a big NO-NO in romance influenced by romantic films and novels because only one person among the two have a say or prefers to have a say.  And fights/ disagreements are considered to be bad omens and ironically we grew up our parents, grandparents, uncles-aunts having disagreements and arguments.  Because having arguments is not a sign of receding love.  On contrary caring even when you have a tiff with your partner is Love.  For instance I have seen couples not on talking terms yet the wife communicates without words that she has cooked for husband as she doesn’t want him to go hungry and husband acknowledges her efforts by persuading her to take medicines on time as he cares for her health (can safely call it my story 🙈).  This is Love in true sense, at least for me who belongs to old school. There might be no expensive gifts, holiday trips, sugar-coated words yet there’s priceless bond!

Something really disturbing:  Not everyone will agree with me with my idea of Love and Romance and there could be a possibility that I might have let some misconceptions breed within me.  You are always welcome to challenge my ideas in the comment section 😊.  So coming to the “serious” issue, as I told films are having an impact on the very idea of how love is perceived, I stick to it. Our films have relentlessly promoted stalking as a tool to woo a girl and some cheap disgusting ideologies like “If she says No it’s a Yes”, “Her silence is acceptance”, ” If she passes off smile then she is trapped”.  Unfortunately an entire brigade of young people are taking these cheesy lines of their beloved stars as gospel truths often resulting in some gore incidents like rapes, acid attacks, eve-teasing, stalking and much more.  Responsibility to curb such mentality lies with parents as to how they groom their kids positively about accepting others’ decisions, right education and of course the brand ambassadors of hypocrisy (read actors) should think socially & responsibly before endorsing anything onscreen.  May God gift them some sense.

Finally a petty message for every couple who are and who think they are in Love – for relationship goal don’t imitate any star couple but ask your parents or grandparents as to what relationship goals are; as to what it means and takes to spend a lifetime together. AND LOVE IS NOT AND NEVER EQUAL TO JUST ROMANCE, IT’S BEYOND AND ABOVE IT!

And last but not the least a comic video to show how Love is misunderstood by this young generation:

INDEPENDENCE IS MY DREAM

NOTE: Excuse me if you find this write-up similar to “My Bucket List” but nevertheless it’s a part of that list.  And most importantly don’t draw any serious inference from the title for I am leading a blissful life.  And before you get sneak peek into my dreams here’s a small story that I want to share with you all:

In the year 2017, I met a stranger on my way back home after picking up my daughter from crèche. He approached me and asked me if I could just walk down the street with my baby and cross the VILLAN. Yes, you read and heard it right, I said Villan as I was accidentally offered a role of extra in a Flemish serial to be aired this year,  Undercover (name of the serial).  Yet no clue when I mean which month and if I will be seen or not, that was special to me as I earned for the first time after my marriage.  That was petty but was MINE.  I lived my otherwise so far elusive dream that day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We had to do four to five re-takes (I was perfect in walking though).

My Independence – Financial Independence has always been my dream. I have mentioned it so many times before as well.  I did enjoy that before getting hitched in wedlock. From taking petty odd tuitions to being an executive in a financial institution; from meager 1K to 30K+  per month in Indian currency and I had it all.  As the digits changed, as they ascended they gave immense pleasure. The increasing purchasing power in hand did boost up my confidence in being an equal supporter and contributor in the family.  Evolving standards of living did mark their presence felt in our merry times, felt fortunate and blessed.

Now after almost a decade of apparent unemployment (don’t miss to read between the lines) and reading innumerable times “We Regret To Inform You” I still yearn to live my dream once again. Though I am blessed to have a roof over my head and a comfortable life with no dearth of any sorts I have realized it was not the amount in hand but the role and the place in the set up that mattered.  The sense of being equal and being able to contribute makes a whole lot of difference, that’s my opinion though.  Nevertheless, that would take away nothing from millions of housewives working 24×7 to make things work and keep the flow intact for the family and I am an active member of this section.  Trust me, ladies, we are doing absolutely great!

But my longing for a job (my dream but not a dream job, will talk about it in another write-up) is not about just money only, for the Belgian Tax System suggests me to cool off my heels at home. For me it’s about my identity, interaction with the world outside, new learnings, regaining my confidence, enhancing the horizon of knowledge and more importantly it’s about one’s preparedness for the uncertainty that lies ahead in life. When life throws lemons at you, you be ready with your apparatus to make lemonade out of it 😂.

You can safely call me materialistic but my experience says that a pay cheque in your hand is not ONLY about purchasing power but it’s also about enhanced confidence of being an active partner when it comes to running affairs of the household; it’s about equally able to question as answerable you are; it’s about giving your family/partner an assurance that they are not alone in their journey; it’s about better preparation for future ( as said by the richest man Warren Buffet two streams of income are always better).

And this is what I suggest to my near and dear ones – strive for financial independence to ensure stability in the long run for economics do have an impact (if you know what I mean).

So I won’t stop dreaming about living my dream with and for my family. Though a lazy bug I am, I will surely work out a way to the realization of my dream one day – Hopeful and Willing too.

Anyways I  won’t mind facing the camera again 😂😂😉 (that’s called being over-ambitious and fantasizing).   Any suggestion on this path of dream realization is welcomed.

I KEEP COUNTING

What would you call a person who gets upset at the simplest things like losing a single spoon from the cutlery set or a porcelain plate crashing to pieces? Emotional or Maniac?  I think the second one fits the bill better. And I fall into the second category 🙈.  Such trivial things could upset me, sometimes to an extent that I nag my partner to grant me the permission of shopping again😁.  Because a set shouldn’t be disturbed – as if the other spoons are going to ask me about their lost relatives 😂😂.

Over the years I have started letting down my hair and not to react so much to a lost spoon or spoiled mat, courtesy: Kids. They have taught me “Mom why to worry about a mere mat when you have spoiled mattress there” 😂😂.  I have started taking things lying down and that’s good for my blood pressure 😂).

Well, that was all in light vein. If there is someTHING(s) that really moves me emotionally, that happens to be Photographs, for there are numerous memories associated with them. And since I am from the generation of camera and a roll, my memories span about two decades 😂😂.

What Memories? How funny we used to look, how awful our fashion sense used to be, what games we used to play, our favourite hangout, our hideout, fractured bones, medals won, fights ensued, our secrets, Mom’s delicacies,  Dad’s affection, first crush, first job, marriage, kids … I can go on.

Photographs are my escape to my past, my moments – moments that I have enjoyed but can’t relive, moments that I want to treasure for life. Photographs are precious to me (especially the ones taken with a camera because once lost can’t be retrieved from the cloud 😂😂), they relax me and spread a happy curve on my face.

My habit of counting and worrying over spoons, glasses, clothes might die a silent death someday but I can’t stop counting the moments I cherished and memories I made with my family, my siblings, my friends, my kids. Photographs make it possible for me.

NOTE: Guard your photographs well. If jewellery is lost you can get the exact or even a better model but if photographs are lost you won’t get the exact moment recreated, IMPOSSIBLE!

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