A FLASHBACK

When Charlie sent this picture to me, I remembered my childhood days. I mean, what a coincidence! The picture depicts my childhood. 

It has two kids and a real cycle down there. I and my cousin would ride a bicycle with the same expression. It was my childhood dream to own a bicycle. I never had one and this always made me feel inferior. I used to see my friends and cousins riding their new and colorful bicycle. It is not that my parents couldn’t afford one but they had priorities. They thought to pay my school fees and buying me a new school uniform was way too important than buying a bicycle. 

Whenever I sat on the back of my uncle’s bicycle, I felt as if I am on the top of the world. I used to sing whole way and never wished the ride to end. Some days, I used to throw tantrums for not eating food and weeping until my uncle would promise me for a bicycle ride. Such a drama queen I was!

Anyways, I used to ride my cousin’s bicycle. He was around 4 years old and I was around 9. He knew I don’t have one and how fond I am of a bicycle, so he asked me to ride his bicycle. But I didn’t know how to ride. I fell down every time. I would come home with skinned elbows and knees. My aunt would scold me for this. 

(Image Credit: Pixabay.com)

Then one day my cousin told, “Di today I will help you in riding the bicycle. Come sit and I will give you the support.” That evening, my Grandpa came out of the house and saw me trying my best to not to fall from the bicycle. He said, “Sit, I will hold the bicycle from behind and you have to put one foot on the paddle and then after paddling put the second.” I followed his instruction and to my utter surprise, this time I didn’t fall. I rode the bicycle for a complete 2 minutes and this was my biggest achievement till that day. I saw my cousin jumping happily. After that day, both of us would ride together. He used to hold me tightly while sitting behind me on the bicycle.

There were five bicycles in our street. Those who had would come along with their bicycles and then we would ride each of them turn by turn. Life was so easier then and we were so happier those days. I remember we used to celebrate birthdays by giving permission to ride the bicycle for a complete 3 minutes and that person could take the bicycle down the street to the old lamp post. Sunday mornings were dedicated for cleaning the bicycle. We used to participate equally and with full enthusiasm for the cleaning program.

Presently, I still don’t have a bicycle. But now I don’t feel pity or inferior. Because I have those memories where we used to share our belongings with each other.

These days, we are not willing to spare some time for people, forget about the belongings. If anyone parks his/her vehicle under our house, in no time we yell at them. In fact, if somebody asks for a lift or a ride, our calm expression turns into a frowning one. Even when someone asks for our help or assistance to do work, we pay no heed. We feel blaming others for our failure is easier. 

But we must keep in our mind once we welcome people with an open heart all the bitterness that we hold in our heart will vanish like a vapor. 

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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.

RECOGNITION! I WONDER…

Who am I, this I always wonder.
to this enigma I succumb and my will to explore, I surrender.

Am I wrong in doing so?
should I try to solve this steady and slow?

Known by many names and with
identity of people’s choice,
I may be loud and obnoxious or
an epitome of grace and poise.

But who am I?
With this thought constantly
brewing in my head,
I try to figure this out from
the dawn’s first ray till,
exhausted, I lay on the bed.

Do I have to be recognised
for everything I do?
or should I be just satisfied
and to myself, be true?

Recognition by whom;
By the ones who lift my spirits
or the ones who wish my doom?

Recognition as what;
As a person, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a lover, an inspiration, a poetess…
as with all these roles I play, with pride, I strut.

I NEED TO BE SEEN!

It’s amazing how we are all on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram nowadays. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when you are updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone just please acknowledge me?

We seem to want or need recognition that bad. My nine-year-old niece wants to walk the ramp and be a fashion diva. She would say “I want everyone to see me.” That’s exactly how we all want to be seen and recognized. What is it, in us that seeks to be “seen” or “recognized this way?

Usually the recognition we seek is from other people and usually, we don’t get it. Instead, we end up with feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, emptiness, and disappointment at not getting it. And then we work even harder at things still hoping for recognition, get rid of those people and try the same thing with a different group. It’s a trap of infinite loops.

We all have the potential to be seen or valued.

So, how do we fall into this trap of seeking recognition? Now let’s be clear that recognition is good and truth be told we all have the potential to be valued and recognized. It’s your essential essence and it’s valued and feels valued when you and others pay attention to appreciate and respect it.

But ironically it’s only when others pay attention we feel recognized. At that moment you feel seen and you experience your own value as a feeling.

The negative voices in your head calm down, you feel good and accept yourself.

We all have the potential of being something that matters to us and sometimes to others, the part of us that signifies truth and integrity. It’s not just a belief system or the construction of ideas of self-esteem, it’s the truth. Self-worth is a conceptual image that our mind builds up based on our essential value. Our integrity or our truth has always been there, simply because we are living beings.

When we hold an infant, we instinctively recognize the true value of human life, one which is often blinded by our false beliefs, prejudices and critical judgments of others. If we try we can see this precious nature of life in anyone or everyone.

Why do we stop being seen or valued?

As a child we get lots of praise, support and recognition for anything as small as playing with a ball, or walking or even laughing or eating, assuming we have decent, attentive parents. As we grow older, such support and recognition for small efforts decrease or sometimes becomes null depending upon how our relationships with the world shape up.

We are expected to behave, perform and yield results in a specific manner. We are constantly evaluated in school, college, work, relationships and are expected to give measured output. Even when we are able to give the desired result, the focus most of the time shifts to improvement and not to celebrate our achievements.

By the time you are an adult, you are conditioned to seeking recognition not your own value through boxed opinions and beliefs. With only so much opportunities and so much pressure to perform, we often do not recognize our own integrity and are often influenced by the opinions of others about us. Like a seven-year-old, we try to be ‘seen’, seek approval based on adopted opinions often starving ourselves of our real values.

We learn to mask our values from others.

One of the early false belief we adapt to while we are trying to be in touch with our true value is that we are most likely being shamed or scolded if we voiced out values in front of others. It might be called tooting our own horn, bragging, or put ourselves above others. “who do you think you are?” “Nobody likes a bragger” are the comments that hit us emotionally with guilt and shame.

But truth be told, this is where we learn to adapt to the opinions of others about ourselves, and quickly learn not to talk about ourselves positively, boast, or do any extroverted things to get praise or recognition. Instead, we are more likely to work hard, keep quiet, and hope others notice, and comment.

This programmed false belief is what we try to be in front of others. Somewhere we might be in touch with our core values or authentic self but we refrain ourselves from presenting it for fear of criticism and none acceptance.

It can be difficult to learn good self-acceptance practices in childhood because of this.

We repress our desire to be seen or valued.

As we grow older we don’t need others to repress our actions or the need for recognition, rather learn the pattern of criticism and shaming and are seasoned to do repress it ourselves. Priya put in a lot of effort into getting a literary fest together. Known and famous literary peoples from all over India showed up, interacting with each other and the event got started. As Priya was finishing up the last moment preparations, she felt the impulse to bring attention to the work she had done. A voice in her mind wanted to hint to others with a comment like, “I put a lot of work into getting this to work out for everyone’s benefit.” Her mind searched for a way to make it less obvious.

Priya had enough awareness to observe these thoughts of seeking recognition. As she saw them, another part of her mind judged and condemned her for it, “You are being such a pathetic needy person,” “What are you a narcists, needing all the attention on you?” “Grow up girl. You agreed to do this conference on your own. You don’t need praise from these people.”

This internal rebuttal, that part of Priya that wanted to be valued, was declared a needy, pathetic, narcissists, and shunned. The, “who do you think you are”, the response she learned from others, was repeated in her belief system to herself, just as she had learned to do years earlier from others.

I remember being in a training program for employees in my previous workplace and we were asked to introduce ourselves and include something that we were proud of. It was different for each person. Someone was volunteering for an NGO saving stray animals, someone was had run a marathon for cancer cause, someone had served in the army before and someone even said that he was proud of fulfilling his responsibilities as a son and husband. It was a way to say to others this is something that I do that is worthwhile and valuable to me. For a moment it was okay to acknowledge that we value ourselves and have others join in with appreciation and respect. Everyone felt good in the group. Partly because it wasn’t just one person doing it. Everyone was allowed and encouraged.

Let’s see ourselves first before being seen.

This was probably the best exercise to value oneself and also feel recognized by others at the same time. We don’t do this well in our society. Our culture is more inclined to criticize than to appreciate. The point here is the should not suppress the need to be feel valued by ourselves. We miss the mark completely and aim at getting recognized by others. This is probably a way to ask for recognition or to be valued in our society that isn’t lame and pathetic, but it isn’t obvious and can easily be misunderstood. Our culture isn’t big on it. We suppress that need for feeling our value with a condemning judgment. Instead of valuing ourselves, we shame and guilt ourselves for being egotistical, weak, or needy.

We have to understand that there is a very thin line between seeking approval and self-recognition. We have to know that self-acceptance and bragging are not the same things, and it is nuanced to do one and not the other.

Let’s acknowledge and accept who we are before even demanding/expecting to be recognized by others. Self-recognition is self-love. Let’s learn to love ourselves.