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.

Advertisements

A MODEST HUMAN BUT A GUTSY WOMAN

I have never seen someone that jolly and cheerful as her. It was very easy to know whether she was present or absent in the class. The reason was crystal clear, her loud voice and laughter. I had never seen her sitting sad or tired. She never used to keep people waiting. She used to speak what she thought to be correct according to her. When she used to scold someone, it was more like a loving and authoritative reprimand than insulting. But she never used to leave a person go easily 😛 . She believed in clarifying the matter more than keeping it in a hanging state. In our class, she was known as a ‘Clean Hearted Girl’, having no ambiguity within her. That was something commendable about her!

I am happy that I could relate to her so much because of our similar body structures. Is it necessary to announce that we were thin? 😊

She used to ride a bike much before the ad came up with the tagline – “Why should boys have all the fun”. She was having the fun even before the bike company even realized to make a jingle to sell its product. She was not tomboyish, but a beautiful and flamboyant girl.

She had kept friendship with as many people as possible in the class, unlike other girls. She was quite limitless in knowing and making friends. She was never a shy girl – not to flaunt around though but to keep decent friendship with all. That’s a pretty unusual attitude of hers which I admire a lot. In today’s world, when every feminist is fighting and shouting for issues like gender equality, my friend declared it with ease that she is equal to a man by her attitude and action in various aspects of life. She didn’t have to fight for it or shout for it or even try to prove it, but she lived it with her utter modesty.

No, I am not contradicting with what I said about her previously as not being a shy girl and what I said now about her being modest. Actually, I can put it this way – She was modest as a human, she was gutsy as a girl. And I believe, she possesses the same quality even today, though she had to go through many traumatic life situations in her life later.

We studied together at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for our post-graduation during the year 1997-1999. We were very good friends when we were in University, but we became close friends only after our studies. Usually, after a certain time in life people tend to lose their college and university friends. Even I did so. Presently, I am rarely in touch with any of my college and university friends. But the best part of our friendship is, we are still friends and in touch with each other. She never forgets to call me to wish on my birthday and Christmas every year. It was she who never let our friendship go, not even after she got married. Yeah, we had lost track in the middle for some time, while we went ahead in different career searches but we found our friendship back on track, after few months of her marriage.

There were quite a few hurdles that she had to cross over in her life – she biggest being, she lost her husband last year. She was utterly broken, she is broken even now, I know it very well. But I also know that she will get over it soon with the grace of God.

We grew in maturity with regards to our friendship, thanks to her. She knew how to own a relationship, a friendship. A few days ago, while talking with her on the phone, she addressed me as ‘Bhai‘ (Brother). And I knew she meant it wholeheartedly.

Dharashree! Yeah, that’s her name. I treasure her and our friendship for a lifetime. I believe a woman like her can bring a lot of change in this world.

Today, when the world around us has so many broken relationships, lost promises and loose-ended friendships, a woman like Dharashree can play a very important role to bring things together and on track. Only a woman like her, can win people, own them and live with all in peace.

A woman like my friend ‘Dharashree’, justifies why we all should celebrate the International Women’s Day again this year in 2019.

KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

2018 is about to finish and now when I look back, I feel nostalgic. If anyone asks me how was 2018 to you, I would say, “It was the best in my life”. Reading this line, many of you might think, I just have got good marks or might have topped university exams or have got a good job with handsome salary. Trust me there’s no such thing. 2018 was best because of many other reasons. All the reasons when combined together, have given me so much. When 2018 started I was having a lot of stress. The reason for stress was some family issues. Though 2018 was not a fairy tale year but it made my year.

I graduated in this year and this really makes me happy. While I was leaving my college, I came to know what I earned so far. I earned love and affection from my teachers, classmates and also from my juniors. While returning back to home I had lots of memories which are going to stay in my heart forever. 2018 taught me the true essence of love. True love motivates us to look forward and work hard for our dreams. It is kind and never brags.

Every day brought some lessons for me. The best lesson that I learnt was “not everyone we meet or have in our lives are intended to stay forever”. The only thing that will stay forever is bittersweet memories. The year is ending day by day and so it is taking away toxic people from my life; for which I am very thankful. The last six month of 2018 proved to be of great teachings. I learnt so much. I saw myself as a grown up, matured enough to make life decisions. I found when we are determined; no one can change our decisions. Once we are determined, we get the courage to walk alone in the city full of crowd. Even though we are alone, we are always surrounded by our determination and willpower.

I hope 2019 will also bring so many lessons for me. It will be a year that will witness my growth as a matured and persevere human. I wish 2019 to award me with success and good health of my near and dear ones.  In 2019, I won’t waste my time in anger, grudges and being disappointed. I would rather invest it in being a happy and cheerful soul. After all, life is all about finding happiness despite the odds. Therefore, welcome your new year with open arms and hopes.

ORGANIZED STUDENT LIFE: STRIVING FOR GOOD MARKS AMIDST FUN

People say student life is the best. Being a student was never a hard time for me. I have had enjoyed my academic life always. During school life, I managed to have a good student image but that doesn’t mean I never had fun. People say a student’s life should be organized and student should make the best of it. This is because student life is the phase where we grasp things quickly. Parents always ask their children to focus on their studies and to befriend the intelligent ones in their classes. At times it may happen that we get envious of intelligent children and would try to compete them. In that case we might end up getting our routine upside down. So how can we achieve an organized student life?

If I talk about myself, for me my academic life was always organized. I knew my caliber and strengths. Instead of being envious of toppers I used to work on my interest areas and tried to improve my grey areas. When I was in school my routine was fixed. It was my habit to wake up early, get fresh and start my day. I would go to school and there I would engage myself in whatever was being taught. However, I was never a studious girl. I just studied to learn new things and not more than that. Apart from studies, I used to participate in some of the extra-curricular activities but that was limited. When exams approached I would turn into a book worm and fortunately I got good marks. During college life too I was never so studious. I would attend classes and would study to learn what was being taught.

After I have passed out from college I feel I should have been more studious. It’s not that I slept late, woke up late and didn’t study appropriately. I mean to say the way I was organized during my school life was way better than my college life. Though I was a fun loving girl in college, I knew study is what I have to do on regular basis. During my entire student life, one formula that helped me a lot is- setting up goals. I remember when I was in my 10th standard, the short term goal was to work hard for final exams. I used to study for long hours. I did this, not because of the fear of exam but because I knew this is the only way that will help me to study for my exams. Despite of studying for hours I never forgot to enjoy my days and take rest. I had made a schedule and I followed it. In college, few more things got added up to the study schedule, they were: study buddies, watching short movies and taking up the notes. Every morning I would wake up and would start my day. No matter what happened I ensured I read atleast a page, not just for the sake of reading. This helped me in learning so many things. However I was never a topper. Honestly speaking, I never studied for getting good marks.

I enjoyed every single day. I went for partying with my friends but I ensured that study and party never gets mixed up. I feel proud that I never had an issue of low attendance. A good student is the one who knows what they have to do and plans accordingly. Whether you are in school or college, your focus should be on grasping things, utilizing the resources provided to you. Setting short term goals and striding towards the long term goals can really help us in making the best of our student life. When we study in groups then we learn things quickly. Apart from this, one must focus on keeping student life away from other things. I am not saying we should not get indulged in some other activities but having a balance between everything can really be helpful in making the best of our student life.

ON THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION

What is the purpose of Education? Why do we go to schools and colleges? Are our lives determined by our board percentages? Is the pressure on the students and teachers justified? These numerous questions and more prop up in my head when I think about education and its purpose. In schools everyone asks about the toppers and the not-so good performers are looked down upon. And once people get jobs and start working they are asked: “Dude, what’s your salary?”, “How much package does the company pays you?” Have you ever seen the nature of the job or the actual tasks to be performed by the prospective employee reported on the newspaper? I don’t think so as the only thing which is reported and highlighted is the highest annual salary package granted to supposedly the most brilliant and most meritorious student.

Is the purpose of education to enable us to earn money and get rich? Earning money is definitely a necessity but education is not meant to serve this purpose. Rather its purpose is to make us become open-minded, life-long learners; help us in finding our interests and become ethically judicious human beings. Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton was not the richest person in the world. Neither was our beloved former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, but they contributed to our world in the best possible way they could. And perhaps that’s the biggest purpose of education. Of course not all of us can gain that level of expertise and excellence in our respective fields, but that does not matter. We still retain the power to influence and touch the lives of so many around us and influence our society in a positive way.

In the modern materialistic world we are taught to be competitive and consistently outperform others. This leads to cheating and use of unfair means in the examination. Education should teach and guide us to share and work together, synergize and learn from each other. Just because a student gets the highest marks does not mean he knows everything. Even he can learn something from the poorest performer who may have his or her strengths which our mark-based rigid examination system fails to gauge. Teachers play a pivotal role in helping these academically weaker students. Unfortunately, teachers are also subject to the system and are pressured to focus on the high-performers than each student to boost the reputation of the schools. The school is for the students and not the other way round.

In India we have a very peculiar way of coercing the students to choose subjects. Most of them are pushed to choose science and mathematics because these subjects have the biggest earning potential. Engineers and doctors are the highly respected professions apart from the highly coveted IAS services and other Central Government jobs. What does this lead to? This leads to corrupt bureaucrats who are not at all interested in serving the people and select the jobs just to enjoy the benefits. There is no harm in enjoying the perks but providing service should be the priority. Likewise we have heartless doctors who ask for money before treating a dying patient. Engineers are plagued with inefficiency and do bogus work without any civic responsibility for the safety of people. Sometimes I feel like these are the worst sort of people, as they are educated bandits, looting the common man of their hard earned money.

None of us are encouraged to become teachers who remain the backbone of our education system. It’s because of them, the few who have inspired and influenced us; we have managed to make something of ourselves. Perhaps someday we will realize that life is more than money and that every profession is necessary and respectful in its own way. Education is not limited to school and is imbibed from every experience we ever encounter and every person we meet throughout the course of our lives. So let’s keep learning, let’s remain a student, let’s keep moving forward.

MARK ARE JUST NUMBERS

There has been an increasing trend in the maximum marks obtained in Class X and XII examinations in recent years. There’s a rat race among the students to secure the highest. In 1990s, getting above average was considered great. And if anyone secured above 80%, that was extraordinary.

I remember my sister Kuljeet and I used to tell our little sister Prabhjot to calm down and enjoy also when she was in X. She once quoted the example of a girl in neighbourhood, also appearing for boards, who used to have rice instead of chapattis just to save on time on chewing so that she could study more. Sounds weird, right? Yes, weird it was, skipping on your food just to get some 10 minutes of extra studies! Thankfully, we managed to mould our sis a bit(only a bit) so that she could enjoy also, without compromising on her studies. She played Holi also during her boards and secured 89%.

Along with this increasing trend, there has been growing trend in the number of suicides among students as well. Students committed suicide because they failed or didn’t get a desired percentage. Some of them were too stressed that they didn’t even bother to wait for the results and ended up taking their lives, without thinking about the family and associations they made.

My brother was not great at studies. He secured decent marks in his X and XII and went for a hotel management course. In his college, he spent four years, instead of three, but my parents never complained or made him feel inferior. In fact, they used to ask every time on the landline call if there’s anything he requires. His failure didn’t deter him in putting his hard work when he got the job. With continuous hard work and dedication, he is now the Country Head in one of the leading restaurant chains abroad.

I keep telling my son also, that it’s ok if he doesn’t get full marks (he’s in Grade II only), what is more important is that he has understood the concept and can apply his learning anywhere.

Thankfully the education system of our country is also changing now. Instead of one final exam, we now have continuous assessment. Not only studies, but sports and extra-curricular activities are given weightage. Instead of just cramming up the answers, focus is now on the learning. The other day while was teaching my son Maths, I was amazed that instead of just sums and problems, children are doing logical reasoning questions at younger age. Same was with EVS, not only children are learning about the difference between a nuclear and a joint family; they are learning the concept as well.  With regular homework, assignments and projects, overall capabilities are taken into account.