IF ONLY WE COULD HOLD A CONVERSATION…

Image result for shopkeeper and customer anime

How often do we actually take out time to exchange just a few words with the people who don’t hold much importance in our life? Rarely or maybe sometimes. Recalling one of such acquaintances, I cannot forget my childhood memory associated with the purchase of junkies from a nearby colony provision store. No sooner was I able to collect a few coins than I used to rush to the shop to purchase either a pack of chips or my favorite cola! However, the owner of the shop had such disposition that all my excitement always cooled down on seeing his grumpy face. Since it was the only shop in my area, it seemed more of the kind of a monopoly store. His irritation level would rise to heights if I would ask him to display his collection of candies or if even I just had to add one extra item in the billing list. A smile was the last thing one could expect from this shopkeeper. Whenever I returned home after my purchase, I always complained to my mom about the rude and ignorant behavior of this man. But then again, I had no option than to go again to this merchant for purchases as it was the only store that existed in my colony at that time. Moreover, if anything went wrong or if I ever had to return an expired item, he took it back with so much of sternness as if he was doing a favor on me. His nags and my complaints went on endlessly until a piece of shocking news broke out one day.

I had risen from my morning sleep when I saw my parents leaving home early that day. When I asked my maid about it, she told me that they were going to attend the funeral of Mr. Jaiswal. It was as if the ground below my feet had shaken for how could a man who seemed so fit could pass away. I couldn’t help remembering how often I used to engage in a fight with this man at his shop even for his fuzzy attitude. All of a sudden, I just felt as if I had so many unsettled accounts with this person, left to finish. When my mom returned, she told me that this shop owner was suffering from mouth cancer and he committed suicide.

For a moment, I couldn’t believe if it was really true and when this reality seeped in me, I could somehow relate to the reactions of this shopkeeper in the past. Mr. Jaiswal was not bad, it was his circumstances that had turned him sour and bitter. Now it clicked to me that why he didn’t respond to my anger as uttering a word from the rotten mouth was so difficult for him. Moreover, the pain of those blisters in his mouth was the reason for the constant frown on his face. I really felt sorry for a dead soul that day and more than that I was agitated by my own self that how I could hold so many grudges against a diseased person for petty issues. It really struck me that why I didn’t even try for once to gauge the depth of his situation. I really wondered if I had just even tried getting into his shoes, I would have never held any complaints against him. I cursed myself endlessly for not making any efforts to discover the reason for his sternness. Why for God’s sake, I didn’t even hold a conversation with him? Sympathy filled my heart when I came to know from the neighbours in my colony that how lonely he felt as he had no one to look after him. It was not only the disease but solitude as well that was killing him. He certainly might have felt very low which led him to commit suicide and there might be no one around to even console him. Connecting the dots seemed very easy at that moment for one could then sense that his frustration was definitely the outcome of his sufferings. I couldn’t help questioning myself that how I could frame so strong and wrong perceptions about this person just because his behaviour was bad with me.

Mother Teresa has rightly said:- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’’ These words were somewhere resonating in my ears for I had turned so nasty in judging the shopkeeper that I had no time to empathize with his problems that were probably greatest than all of our rants. I felt very sorry for him and at the same time, I really felt that I just could not forgive myself for passing angry comments on him. I learned a lesson that day to not judge a person without knowing his struggle story. Moreover, it does not take much time to know the sorrows of a person only if we understand the real meaning of tolerance and patience. Even if it takes time, isn’t it worth it, if it can save someone’s life and make him feel worthy enough to live on this planet; making someone feel a little less lonely?

This incident really questioned my indifferent conscience that day and struck such chords in me striving me to live a life of awareness and kindness with empathy and compassion filled in the heart.

MURDERERS OF CHILDHOOD – I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU

I feel sorry…

Actually, I feel sorry for everything that happens around me, or even for matters that fall in my ears. If I am to cite an incident on instances I felt sorry, I would have plenty of them to pool in.

Marriage is all about in a relationship with a lot of understanding beyond imagination. Coping with married life needs better understanding at least with respect to age. When families marry off those kids (girls) at such a young age, I wonder how much do they concede. It is true their perception is never recognised, but all they do is flow with the marriage.

When in India, the legal age for marriage is 18, there are still child marriages happening in India. To my knowledge, my maid, who is hardly now 25 years has already four kids, and she was married at a young age of 15. And such young ages they conceive and give birth. They hardly get basic education, health facilities or anything that is requisite for such a young age. And they are all the more burdened with responsibilities of managing the family.

As she narrated me, there are many girls in their village who are getting married at the same age, they are mostly given a minimum education which she claims is just enough to read and write as the schools in those outskirts are not much more advanced to offer enough learning. Imagine, when we are assured the government is offering a good education, there are schools where nothing is done -maybe I can say, there is no school itself.

These girls are married off to some guys, who just ensure they have two three kids, and abandon those kids and the wife to survive on their own. And it is up to them especially the girl’s family or all by herself to endure then.

Is that what responsibility means?

It is not just poverty-stricken families who are on the same page, there are many in the urban areas who ensure to get their girl child to marry at a very early age- as if they are de-burdening themselves.

I felt sorry for such families who do such heinous act. At such tender ages, they are bound to enjoy their teenage, learn the life lessons step by step. For them, Marriage is like pushing them into a well and then lock up there for several years to endure a responsibility that came in soon.

It is not just the issue of younger age, they are also bound to give sufficient dowry to feed the richly-poor grooms family who shamelessly asks the girl’s family to pay for their expenses.

Even the urban areas are infected with such pathetic people, who are shamelessly greedy enough.

I feel sorry for such parents, who marry their girls off to such families, who are just greedy. Nothing could be done other than they being cursed with a Midas touch like a curse.

I being a mother of two girls, would ensure I don’t steal my children’s future and their dreams just to keep my reputation or my societal commitments. Instead of being sorry, for such wretched souls who are doing harm, I would be better to take a step ahead to protect them, at least my own children.

SINCE WHEN DID DOING SOMETHING LIKE A GIRL BECOME AN INSULT FOR A BOY?

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.”

I was dying to hear this in the labor room but it wasn’t supposed to be. I had a boy!

But unfortunately there are many people who go to all possible limits to ensure that they only get a news that says “It’s a boy!” In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in having a preference towards the gender of your child (like I had for a girl), the problem comes when people start to take inhuman decisions for that preference like abortion and killing the girl infant. If not, they would discriminate between the genders.

I personally know a family who is blessed with 2 daughters and they are so worried that who will take over their huge family business in future. The mother of the girls was made to abort the third child at least twice because she conceived a girl again. Not only are they doing foeticide but they are also putting the mother’s health at risk with these multiple pregnancies and abortions. The only question I have for this family and other’s of this kind “why can’t your daughter handle the family business?” I never got a convincing answer for that question.

It hurts me so deeply to see that people just cannot see girls as capable and as precious as boys.

“Let your brothers have those buttery paranthas – you can have later if there is anything left over.”

“While your brother is going to play football, why can’t you just make sure that kitchen is clean post lunch?”

“Keeping the home maintained is a girl’s responsibility. No matter what. So, you should better start learning the art of it.”

These statements aren’t uncommon even in today’s world. I have no idea why is it only girl’s responsibility to cook and clean when these things are something that is needed for the survival of a human being. Boys should know it as much as girls.

There was a brilliant advertisement made with #LikeAGirl. In that advertisement they ask certain questions to kids in late teens and the same questions to 10 year olds and younger kids. One of the question that they ask is “how does a girl run?”

Older boys and girls tend to mock it as a shabby way of running. Younger kids (both boys and girls) show a girl running normally and a 5 year old girl says – “running like a girl means running as fast as you can”. Then they throw a question to the audience “Since when did doing something as a girl become an insult?”

“Don’t cry like a girl! You are a boy”

“My daughter will be my son. She will support me in my old age”

Do you notice something weird in above statements? Doing something as a girl is a demotion of a boy. Doing something as a boy is always a promotion for the girl.

Who made this hierarchy that said boys are superior than girls? It’s just an outcome of patriarchal society that we exist in.

It is high time that we save our girl children and give them as much love and care as we give to our sons. It is also important that we watch our words when we talk to our kids. Saying anything that implicitly means that boys are superior should be omitted. It is very much required that our coming generation learns that both boys and girls are equal.

WHY CHILD MARRIAGE?

I experienced a flavor of Child Marriage when I was teaching a bunch of kids as part of a volunteer’s team at my workplace. It was a college going girl not yet 18 years of age who was getting married. She was my student and quite a bright one.

I remember my conversations with her.

“What to do, ma’am? My parents are forcing me. He comes from a good family.”

“He is also earning well. My parents say that he will keep me happy. I think so too.”

“I have never met him but my brother says that he is a decent guy”

In all my conversations with her, all I could feel was that she was brainwashed to believe that this is supposed to be best that she can get. We tried getting in touch with her parents, trying to explain them why she needs to complete her education first and be independent first. But all in vain! She got married at 16 and I never heard from her again.

She did not get the wings to fly, a single chance to explore and build her own identity. Why? Because the guy is earning well and comes from a good family. Is that enough?

I was 22 when my parents started a groom search for me. And every time they found a guy who was earning well and comes from a good family – I would be haunted by it. I was quite over the permissible age of marriage and hence cannot really compare it with the child marriage but I was quite a child, not as mature to really know what marriage means and what companionship really is. I could have been easily molded into whatever my husband and his family wanted. I could have never been a person with my own opinions and aspirations. Eventually, I got married at 25 to the guy I loved and I still think that it was early.

Well, coming back to child marriage. I cannot imagine what a 15 year old girl would go through when she is married off to a guy who comes from a good family and is earning well. With a minimum level of education – she is totally at the will of her husband and his family. They can keep her happy like the queen of the house or they can make her a servant who is never paid. Either ways, it is a loss for her because it is not as per her own wish. Where was she given a chance to explore her own thoughts and build her identity on them?

I get shivers when I think how would she take off her clothes and be intimate with a man she hardly knows. To what levels she would have to surrender herself for the sake of her survival? Physically, financially, mentally and socially; in every aspect of her life she would only have to survive on her husband. What a pity? Why do we have to do this to our daughters?

Empowered individuals create empowered societies and cities and nations and world. Subjugating half the population of the world in the name gender is only going to pull the whole world down.