CAN YOU?

For every mother that is greeted today,

There’s someone yearning for a child

 

For every child that greets the mother today,

There’s someone yearning for a mother

 

For every mother who feels proud of her womb today,

There’s someone unable to carry a foetus

 

For every child who feels the comfort of a mother’s bosom,

There’s someone awaiting with outstretched arms

 

For every mother who wipes her child’s tears,

There’s someone whose hands have none to wipe

 

For every child who has a mother to lean on in sickness,

There’s someone longing for those nursing hands

 

For one such mother without a child,

Can you be a child?

For one such child without a mother,

Can you be a mother?

 

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THE STORY BEHIND MY NAME

According to my parents and other family members, I was born on Sunday morning. In Hindu Mythology, Sunday is dedicated to Sun, whom we (Hindu) popularly call as ‘Aditya’. But I am a girl and, therefore; I could not be named as Aditya. I was named ‘Aditi’. For my father, this name has a great value and he only gave this name.

Years after when my parents took me for admission in school, Papa wrote ‘Parineeta’ as my name. The story behind ‘Parineeta’ is, I am a Virgo and according to the zodiac sign, my name should have started from letter P or T. And therefore, officially my name was Parineeta.

My friends used to call me ‘Pari’ and they would say you have such a unique name.

I was unaware of what my name means until one of my teachers asked me. That day, I went straight home, called my father and asked, “Papa what does my name means?” My father explained the meaning and then I knew ‘Parineeta’ means ‘a married woman’. Next day, I went proudly to her and said what my name meant. She says, “Dear, you must change your name because it is not nice according to your age.” Eventually, all my classmates came to know my name’s meaning and they started teasing me just because they heard my teacher laughing over my name.

At that time, I was in class 4 and so I didn’t understand these things doesn’t matter. As a result, I continuously asked my parents to change my name. Everyone at home tried their best to convince me for not changing my name but I had made my mind.

Finally, everyone acceded. It was decided when I will pass class 4, I’ll be renamed. Then went a series of discussion on what should be my name according to the zodiac sign. I chose ‘Prerna’ as my name out of all the proposed name. When my father was filling the name in the admission form of class 5th, he wrote ‘Prerna’. It was then I noticed, he was a bit sad as I was changing the name given by him. So, in the column of the last name, I asked him to write ‘Aditi’. He asked why and I said, “I will never lose ‘Aditi’ the way I lost ‘Parineeta’.”

Hence, I was named Prerna Aditi. Most of my friends call me with my last name ‘Aditi’. At home also, I am known as ‘Aditi’. In fact, at my workplace too, people call me Aditi more often. Now, I think I should have never paid heed to what others said about ‘Parineta’. Papa gave this name after he read the famous novel ‘Parineeta’ by ‘Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’. Years after, when I got the chance to read the book, I realized how beautiful the name was. That day, I regretted a lot. But it makes me happy when someone calls me by ‘Aditi’. It feels as if they are respecting my father.

I have seen so many people making fun of other’s name. But they never think of the emotion and love behind the name. Your name is your identity and if you want people to take your name with respect then you will have to ignore what people talk about your name. It is not about if someone’s name is old-fashioned or modern but it is about the love of our elders behind the name they had given and how we retain its meaning. 

Now, it is your duty to decide, which name you are going to choose, to address me… 😛

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.

THANK GOD!! MY LEGS ARE STILL INTACT 😜

I am a fearless person when it comes to adventure. My father used to warn me many times when I had to go for sports tournaments or bicycling tournaments with the same sentence every time, “Do not attempt any feats.. please“.. Such was my interest in doing different stunts.. Jumping from the top of water tanks (12 – 15 feet), running down slopes that are made of rocks, stand on the window shade of the top floor of our school building, walk on the roadside parapet wall overlooking a steep valley, I can go on with a big list.

Several times I got wounded. Most of my summer holidays were spent in hospital or at the least making rounds to the hospital for dressing of the wounds. There was one incident, that has changed the way I thought. Many of you in India may have used or seen a teak cot. The double cot in our home is made of teak, a type of wood considered very strong and durable. One day, me and my sister were playing a game which required us to jump from over the head board of the bed. I am pretty sure I would have invented that game only because I wanted to jump :p In the process of jumping, or should I say playing (LOL), my leg hit the head board, right in between of the knee and ankle. It was a very small bruise. There was not much of pain either.

4 or 5 days after this incident, I started to experience pain, followed by swelling. I kept this to myself for a couple more days thinking it would subside on it’s own. Well, no, it came to a stage that I could not put on my school shoes. My father noticed this and as usual performed his duty of taking me to the hospital. The doctor said the wound is infected and covered it with some medicine and bandage. She said we should come back the next day for dressing and she would attempt to remove the puss. The next day when she opened the dressing, there was a fist sized perforation which was red. She started with the puss removal process. It was quite painful and lasted for more than an hour. She dressed my wound again and asked me to come back after 3 days for dressing.

This puss removal and dressing cycle continued for 3 more rounds but the doctor could not understand why the puss formation wasn’t reducing even after the medication. We got an X-ray done and there it was, a tiny piece of wood in my muscle. She cut open the wound and removed the piece of wood. Are you wondering what changed me? The simple ritual of using the restroom at home took as long as 20 minutes, to get off the bed, drag myself on the floor because I couldn’t walk because of the pain, then a struggle to hold whatever I can so that I can get up and do what’s needed and get back to the bed. My parents are very caring, but come on.. I cannot ask them to help me use the restroom because I wanted to try a crazy act of jumping off the bed. I felt ashamed as that situation of mine, it aroused because of my ‘adventures’.. All of this is mischief as a child but a lesson learnt to be very careful while having fun.

So, should I stop trying anything new? I keep doing adventures even now, I tried sky diving when I was injured. Somehow adventure brings life into me. Usually when I am going to attempt an adventure, there are two kinds of feelings in me. The first one, of course the excitement and the second one, the fear.. What if, this adventure leaves me disabled physically or even mentally? It is extremely difficult to find someone who can care without criticizing me or I might end up spending my entire life cursing myself for attempting it. Weird feeling I must agree. All of our body parts are very important, but mobility gives us freedom. I lived without using my hands, my eyes, my mouth, my legs etc (substantial injuries you know :D), out of all these lacking mobility was difficult to manage. When we can balance our body on our legs and move forward everything seems a little simpler or so I feel..

I use my legs a lot. I usually stand in all my meetings at office unless the organiser wants me to sit. One of my colleagues used to joke that some day I might get varicose veins.. Of late, I have become very lazy and uninterested in exercising making by body unfit especially my legs. I realised it after practising Bhangra (a Punjabi dance form) for couple of days. I could hardly move my legs for four days post the practice sessions. This motivated me to start going to gym again. You notice the fear? I told the trainer I would come back when I get fit enough to attempt tough Bhangra steps 🙂

Mobility is an important part of our day to day life. If we imagine our life without legs or even decreased mobility as per norm, we would notice that it takes two to three times the time to move from one place to another. Compared to a normal person, an amputee or a physically disabled person would have to invest time to plan their commute, considering the places they have to be and also the extra time that would be needed. A sore knee can set us back by a good amount of time. Please take good care of your legs. My mom says, several glands and organs of our body are connected to our legs. If we maintain healthy legs, then automatically our body would be healthy.

DEAR MOM

Dear mom,

I have never written about you. I have written about girls I have liked but never written about you. So here I sit down and type this letter just for you, dear mom. Although I don’t have clear memories of my early childhood and never asked you if it was easy for you to give up your job as a nurse to look after me, to take care of me, help me grow up, I thank you for that. It may have been a difficult decision for you to make I assume, but you still did it for me. Women are hardly asked about the effect of quitting their jobs to care for a baby or look after the family. It is expected of them, so much so that in certain cases if the newlywed wife doesn’t intend to give up her career she is criticized unfairly by others. Of course, things are changing in the present times but men are never expected or asked to give up their careers to bring up a son or daughter. You were so practical and did it anyway just for me so that I could receive your love from the moment I was born.

Mom, we don’t talk much. I mean at least when I compare with my friends talking to their mothers I don’t think we talk much. But I tell you things I would never have the courage to tell dad. I tell you about the girl I like, about the time I went to meet her. You ask me if we watched a movie and I say “no, no”. And I always feel very happy when you ask me to get KFC’s zinger burger whenever I go to a mall. Can I tell you something more? I have many close friends who are women, and also if I wanted to have a sibling it would be an elder or younger sister. Perhaps it’s the way in which women-kind can empathize and sympathize that makes them such amazing people, whom one can easily confide in, and talk about most things under the sun without being made fun off. I have guy friends too who share this trait but they are a rarity.

You know the one thing which is so underappreciated and equally undervalued is the immense hard-work you put in maintaining the home and family. It might seem that you are duty-bound to do it but the commitment and perseverance you show is just unbelievable. I have seen you washing clothes early-morning during the winters, do the dishes, when dad and I either just sit in front of the television or doze-off. I have seen you enthusiastically waking up early to prepare breakfast so that dad can go to the office and I can go to school on time, even though you might be running a fever. You never have any designated days as holidays. Dad has off days at work. I have off days as a student. But you never have. I heard you saying once “we women never have a day off”. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Especially after you fell ill last Christmas and I had to help out dad with the household work. I realized how effortlessly you do the entire body of work without complaining about your grievances. I know I have let you down, by not providing more help in maintaining the house and share the chores to reduce your workload. But I intend to work on it. Men have so-called “more important jobs” and women are left to do the “unimportant, menial tasks”. I don’t think anymore that women do unimportant tasks. Their contribution is as important and sometimes even more as the husband’s or the son’s. I have to make sure that you have holidays too and that we share the household workload more.

Mom, I love your liking for water-less puchkas and excitement for an occasional “yum-yum chili-chicken”. I love your eyes lighting up for steamed-momos, rosgollas and misthi-doi. I love the sweet mango pickle, our “jelly-pickle” you make during the summers and the kheer you make whenever I return home for holidays. I get so delighted when you prepare “tikhil-asma” and “bairka-asma” and our favorite, though tasteless yet very fulfilling “thappa-roti”. I miss the “osa-dishes” you made when I was small. I used to love mushrooms at that point of time. I miss our walks back from primary school. Mom, you know what quality of yours I love the most. Well, it isn’t just one. It’s your humility, your perseverance, your silent sacrifices without ever making a big deal about it, your quiet stillness and calm amidst all chaos, the way you stay calm and brave even during earthquakes when dad gets all panicky and scampers out of the house like a rat. We both know about that. I have grown up to be a bit like you, mom. I definitely look like you and I have some of your qualities, though not up to your level but I am working on it. And I have so much more to say and write but I will stop here now. I know words are never enough and I don’t say this enough but I love you, mom.

LOVE MY NEIGHBOUR

When I was a kid I used to get very interested when the secretary of the church used to announce about giving out old normal clothes as well as warm the clothes for free distribution among the poor on the streets in the winter time. And I used to feel bad that I was not able to participate in that noble act carried out by my elders. But when we initiated a project called ‘Love My Neighbour’ officially I was so delighted to be part of that.

Few very important and interesting facts I want to share with you all today about LMN.

In the beginning, we approached our friends, families, church members, different other partner organizations to give out their old but usable clothes or warm clothes. Then we stock them in one of our office rooms. We allotted few of our young boys to sort them all out according to their sizes and usability. One very committed young staff took initiative to supervise the whole thing and I want to draw the attention of my readers to this guy’s attitude towards this whole distribution project.

He discarded all those clothes which were torn or not in a usable condition. He organized to wash them all and he iron pressed one after the other personally. He folded them after ironing and put them in brown paper envelopes. He categorized each of those envelopes according to the sizes of the clothes inside them.

In the end, he was itching and scratching his skins because of handling dirty, old clothes of different people.

We initiated the distribution work at 12 AM to 2 AM in the night and gifted those packets when the beggars and poor people were fast asleep on the streets. On receiving his share of the packet, one old man started singing an old Bollywood song, “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai. Kahan Suru Kahan Khatam…” (What a surprising tale it is… when it begins and when it finishes…what’s the destination no one knows…).

This whole project gave us immense pleasure and joy. We were blessed by those old men and women on the streets.

But what caught my attention was that young colleague’s attitude towards all that he did. That was commendable. He was applauded and appraised greatly for his work and attitude. He didn’t do it as an assignment or ritual or tradition. But he did it out sheer love, care, and warmth for those who were desperately in need. And I feel this was the best way we should be celebrating or letting those deprived people part of our celebration during all these events we lavishly enjoy every year.

Stay Blessed!