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.

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IT IS MY IDENTITY. CANNOT LET IT GO.

I love shopping for groceries. I usually go to places where there is a display of wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other staples. There is some satisfaction in walking aisle by aisle through various sections drooling over what is offered. Usually I make up my mind on what I want to cook for the upcoming week, so, when I am walking I am recollecting the recipe and required ingredients to buy apart from what’s there at home. I have observed one thing that distracts me from this process many times, which is kids talking to their parents. Usually they pick-up a chocolate or fruit and keep asking their parents to buy it. What grabs my attention is that most kids do this only in English. Most of the parents respond in English too. 

India is a non-English speaking country. There are many languages Indians speak at homes (or so I thought). The trend now has changed. Most parents want their kids to learn English at a very early age. I can understand the need because they have to leave kids at day-care centres. Especially in metro cities, people from many states come for jobs. So, it is difficult to manage if the kid cannot speak English. While this is true, I clearly do not understand why kids are not encouraged to talk in their mother tongue. 

Kids of many of my colleagues cannot speak, read and write in their mother tongue. I don’t know why speaking in English makes us feel ‘elite’. When adults look down upon their own language, they won’t consider the language worthy enough for their kids to learn. This is the situation with people who are migrating to new places inside India. People living outside India have a different story. Some of my friends did not even manage to make their kids speak in Telugu. The reason they give is that, “the child does not have an environment to speak in our language. Who can they speak in that language with? only us, so, it is very difficult to teach“. As a result of this most grandparents cannot even feel the satisfaction of talking to their grandchildren because they don’t understand a bit of the conversation, in some cases there is no conversation only gestures. It is making children deprived of rightful love and care they deserve. 

Couple of years ago, mother of one of my friend’s neighbour expired while she was at her daughter’s place. Let me tell you what happened. The daughter and her husband moved to Melbourne. This lady, who expired travelled to Melbourne to help her daughter during her second pregnancy. They went out for medical checkup leaving their first child and the grandmother at home. By the time they returned home, the grandmother was on the kitchen floor, dead. The parents asked the kid about what had happened, for which he replied, “She was saying something when she fell on the floor and he did not understand what it was”. Apparently she was asking for water in their language, and the boy did not understand that one word, which might have saved her life. 

Mother tongue is a language in which we can express well. Learning mother tongue also has a positive impact on our brain. It also improves our ability to learn and improves cognitive thinking. Until the age of 6, children learn languages very quick.  As parents we should encourage our next generation to learn our mother tongue. Mother tongue is an identity, also a very important link to our cultural roots. There are simple ways in which one can make kids learn mother tongue. Always conversate with them in your own language at home and even when you are at public places. Remember bed time stories?? Without buying those English story books, teach kids about our culture through bed time stories in our own language. If kids talk in English (which they do because of what they learn at school), make sure you only respond in your native language. This would automatically make kids pickup the language. Do not worry about their English speaking skills, eventually they would pick up the language from school. 

That’s for kids, what about adults? Now-a-days many of us read books only in English. Isn’t this true? Once in a while read books from your own language. Read some news in your local language. Write in your language. When was the last time you did this? You may start with grocery list :-). 

I am not against learning or talking in English in any way. May be, few years from now, there may be a world with only one language, “English”… It saddens me that one day next generations won’t be speaking my language. It hurts to see languages die. Many languages are becoming extinct because we don’t use them any more. My mother tongue is my identity and I would love to talk in that language with pride anywhere, except for professional reasons. Let’s preserve our languages !!

No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another

– George Bernard Shaw

 

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.

“I – ME AND MY LIFE” – IS IT ABUSING FREEDOM!

Uff… How annoying are my Mom and Dad! I don’t like anyone interfering in my personal matter it’s I – Me and My life. Do I need to check with them before making friendship! I wish I could be away from home, somewhere in a big metro city, having my own space, having as much money as I can in my wallet, there will be no one to question on my lifestyle.    

Any middle-class Indian teen can easily relate to my teenage wish. It was 2016, I had recently moved to Kolkata. I came to know one guy from my hometown, who is known to me also lives in Kolkata. Several times, I tried to connect with him but always found him making some excuses for the busy schedule. Later on, one of his friends revealed me, it would be better for me to ignore him and stay away from his mess. His flat was not in the condition that any gentleman can stick there for a few minutes. After a few months, I came to know that he lost his job and had moved to our hometown.

During his college days, he was one of the most handsome looking guys in his group, financially quite sound and had studied from one of most prestigious schools But Now has lost health, unemployed and running out of money. He is a drug addict and lives an absconding life.   

“Freedom is destroyed not only by its retraction; it is also devastated by its abuse” – Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Freedom of will is indispensable and gives worth to every individual but it doesn’t give us the license of absoluteness. Freedom is always within the fence. But as we ignore the fence we misinterpret the definition freedom as “ABSOLUTE”. By doing it we abuse our freedom, considering it as an approval for anything and everything.

The Bible says,

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – BUT NOT everything is good for you.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – BUT NOT everything is beneficial”.

One of the common slogans of our generation is “Speed thrills but never kills”. Gearing beyond the speed limit is a thrilling experience and a smart work of hitting destination before time. Speed is freedom to enjoy the ride but gearing beyond the speed limit is jeopardizing our own life and our co-riders life. We can never deny the truth that, our life is not only hooked to our individualism. Our family’s life – our friend’s life – our community’s life is keenly weaved to the strands of our lifestyle.

An extramarital affair will not only devastate an individual’s personal life but moreover, it devastates his spouse’s life, it risks his family reputation and corrupts his community’s morality. Abusing freedom by understanding it as absolute is jeopardizing the sacred right of self and others.

The Bible says,

“No one should seek his own good, but the good of others”

By abusing freedom I traverse the moral and ethical boundaries of mine and others as well. As the end product of this violation, the enmity is created and we are tagged with all kinds of disgraceful identities and our life becomes a burden for self and to others.

God has created every individual for a unique purpose and a reflective splendor of him but by abusing freedom we create enmity with God and others.

The Bible says,

“It is because of your debauched life you are alienated from God and become the enemies of God in your mind.”

Let’s not abuse our freedom but fear God and shun evil!

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.

FIGHT FOR RIGHT!

Freedom of speech is under peril and suppression is on the rise. This has been a constant fabrication for centuries. But today’s risk is not only being incited by tyrants and sovereigns, as was the case in the past. Rather, it is being stoked up by the very people who are thought to protect this principle: democratically elected bureaucrats, artists, and journalists.

Article 19 of Human Rights declares that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Yet, this right is unquestionably not certain because of the basic components of language.

Words, sentences and passages release impacts. They provoke sentiments in audiences and users. Language is never unbiased.

But far too often it is the case that analysts and diplomats give rise to unrealistic and absurd social aspects through the means of their platforms. They post, tweet and share to turn the tide of public opinion in or against sensitive matters, using inception and inducement to their personal cause.

Grievously, these radical viewpoints are not just limited to the boundaries of society. Rather, they are part of the game for governments in the mainstreams. At times of elections, these governmental bodies themselves hints that the right to freedom of speech is being used for worthless, adverse and evil purposes. This leaves us with a bigger problem, how to make sure there’s no obvious abuse of one’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Owing to the heedless exercising of our right to freedom of speech, the decree to reduce the liberty of viewpoint and effect is, regrettably, growing powerful. It is an extremely saddening reality that general theory of common man infers that the circumstances are worse enough that they want their governments to resolve to forbid such speeches and therefore propose degrees of censorship.

Though the aim of forbidding people from making an attacking comment is good, it nevertheless serves as a catch-22 situation because it would deliver the governments with way too much authority in selecting what is or isn’t offensive. With power comes duties – and in this singular context, one’s duty includes not invoking disorder, chaos and mayhem. It is hence obvious why people would want to back governmental impose of censorship upon the manipulation of freedom of speech.

Only and only by using language for the right causes can we secure the liberal right to freedom of speech. However, like I always say, this isn’t a one-way road. Well-known figures, shouldn’t use blasphemy or profanity in a manner that justifies extensive monitoring and restrictions of our speech.

To sum it up I would like to recite Voltaire’s famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

ABUSING THE POWER OF FREEDOM

I was wondering, what are in the world that gives us the power of freedom which we ultimately abuse or manipulate or misuse. And I found quite a number of things that allow us this Power of Freedom. And tonight, I would love to talk about them one after the other.

LEFT ALL ALONE

Have you ever stayed all alone at home? What do you do when you are all alone? Do you do things which are not allowable or permissible when your family members are around? Do you just freak out? Do you roam around naked (nothing to care about) in the house? Do you wait for that time when you can be left alone in the house so that you can accomplish your mischievous acts?

But why do we do like that?

I have stayed many times, all alone in my house. And that is the time I feel I have all the powers of this earth. That is the time when I feel, I can do everything that I want to as there’s no one to watch me or instruct me or interfere in my matter or obstruct me. I feel I have all the freedom I can ever have at that particular moment of aloneness. But that is the time I was put to test – The Test of Utilizing my Freedom.

No elders or parents would leave a kid alone in the house because they know that they are not matured enough to utilize their freedom. They can even put themselves to great danger. So, they were not given that liberty or freedom to stay alone at home.

My uncle who is also the founder of the organization I work in, always says one thing: “I don’t like tying you up with rules and regulations or police around you, but allow you the freedom to grow and explore yourself within this organization with diligence and sincerity.”

But somewhere we lack to handle that power of freedom bestowed on or entrusted to us. I have failed in it many times, I won’t lie. And I know we all fail at this or that point of time in our life when we were left all alone.

The Bible says – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

DARKNESS

By darkness, I mean the opportunity of not being caught or seen. This is actually quite similar to being left all alone but there’s a difference here which I will explain.

Suppose, in a hall where many are celebrating an occasion and the parents of a boy barred him not to tease the small girl of another couple. But unfortunately, there is a power cut and the hall became pitched dark for two minutes. And that darkness gave the boy the power of freedom and he went and pinched the cheeks of that little girl, to which she started squealing aloud. The boy would not have been punished severely by his parents if he would have obeyed his parents and would not have misused that momentary freedom he got because of darkness.

Thieves get that power of freedom when it is night or dark. Trust me, things that are done in darkness or undercover are never a righteous or pious one. Bribes are always given under the table.

Are we waiting for the lights to switch off so that we can misuse the power of freedom we get because of that darkness? Keep pondering.

The Bible says – “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

MONEY/WEALTH

Money gives the purchasing power as well as the power of freedom to its owner. And mostly, they misuse it.

I remember, when I used to get a small salary, my monthly budget was small obviously and above that my desire to acquire things were lesser. But when I got a good amount of money at the beginning of the month, I felt that power of freedom to buy this, that and many other things which I never used to think of. Don’t think that I am talking about necessary items needed at home. I am talking about useless things which I buy sometimes and regret later on.

In most of the lower-middle-class family, you would find them struggling after 25th of every month. Why? Because they used up their money lavishly using their power of freedom in the beginning and have nothing or very less money to buy the essentials for the last fourth or five days.

Hilarious??? But that’s the truth.

The Bible says very interestingly – Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

If I go on like this, I can find many such things that allow us complete freedom, either for some time or forever. Like the gift of FREEWILL, Power of Freedom is also attached with a series of responsibilities to it which are needed to be carried out in a better way and not to misuse it.

Whether it is in our home among all the family members, whether it is within the marital boundary, whether it is at our workplace, we do get that power of freedom in our hand to exercise it. Do we use them wisely or misuse it for our selfish desires and addictions?

Remember: “The abuse of liberty leads to bondage, the bondage of sin.”

Keep reading, keep pondering…

Stay Blessed!