MY FIRST DATE WITH MR. HUSBAND

 

Ours is a typical arranged marriage. Both the families met, the would-be bride and groom stole glances at each other and then done! Shadi Mubarak ho! Oh, they did allow us to talk in private (in the other room) but all eyes and ears were on us though. We made the biggest decision of our life in those 45 mins.

Two days later, we mustered up the courage to meet all alone, obviously, it was a secret meeting. So I was supposed to see Mr. Husband outside Mc Donalds at Andheri station. Those were the days when smartphones were not introduced in India and there were no smart calling plans either. So the last we spoke was when I left from work. My cellphone battery was low and I had jotted down his number on my hand. As luck may have it, I got stuck in the infamous traffic in Andheri and I was delayed. What to do now? My cell phone had died out by then.

After 30 mins delay, I reached the venue only to realise the he was not there. I felt so embarrassed but heck, I had informed him that I have left late from work and he understands the traffic conditions here. I was contemplating whether he had left already? Also what started scaring me was thoughts like he being very strict or particular and he might assume me clumsy because of this incident, then it had be so difficult to spend my entire life with this man!

Cut to the venue, so strolled back and forth around the point we had agreed to meet but there was no trace of him. It had started raining by then and the rain and the overall embarrassment had taken the best of me. Finally, I gathered enough courage to call him up but my phone had died already. I spotted a public phone only to know that the number I had jotted down on my hand had been wiped off already. Gosh! Could there be anything worse?

I was almost in tears, partly because of the fear about what he will think about me and whether he will reconsider his decision of marrying me and partly because I was totally overwhelmed by the happening of events. I could have planned better, isn’t it?

I scanned every person who had taken shelter from rains under the shelter of Mc Donalds but he was nowhere to be seen. With a very heavy heart and eyes full of tears, I turned back and started making my way to the station……

…… and then some called out my name loudly… ADITIIII… I turned back at a lightning speed and I saw a man waving at me from near Mc Donalds. He was grinning from ear to ear and took quick strides to reach me.

I was staring at him in disbelief and with no memory of who he was…obviously wondering if it was the same guy I had agreed to marry two days back. Yes, you got it right, I DID NOT RECOGNIZE MR HUSBAND.

He was standing right in front of me all this while, he was watching me search for him from one end to the other of the premises, he saw me going to the phone booth and coming back without calling him, he saw me staring at every person out there trying to look for him and he was merrily having fun! He couldn’t contain his laughter and was only short of rolling on the floor laughing and poor me I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh.

Now, I can’t stop thinking how better it had been if smartphones had already arrived in India by then and I could have had his picture on my phone but anyway, the phone had died out so the whole universe was in tandem to put me in this embarrassing situation.

So that’s how my first date with Mr. Husband was. And if you are thinking whether he reconsidered his decision of marrying me let me tell you he didn’t! He said he was looking for a joker in his life and I am exactly that.

This was 10 years ago. Today I continue to be his joker doing silly things and making him laugh.

GLASS – HANDLE WITH CARE

I had always felt very sad and incomplete on seeing other children going to school while, I was at home all day, dreaming. I was a 10 year old boy, sitting at home with an imaginary tagline on my forehead – “Glass – Handle with Care“. I could only dream at that time, to be a big man one day, sitting on a table and working on a computer. But how would I reach that state of my life was nothing more than just a mirage for me at that point of time.

Finally, when the time came for me to step out of the house and enter into a school campus, my joys were leaps and bounds. I couldn’t contain them. I was admitted to the school directly into the fourth standard. It all happened because of my aunt (my mom’s elder sister). She convinced my all-possessive maternal grandfather to allow me to go to the school where she was working as a teacher. I was a thin timid boy with no courage at all, bearing the same imaginary tagline – “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Years later, when I passed out of my school and it was time for me to get admitted into a college the tension arose in the minds of my local guardians. But I joined. The day I went for the admission I saw a senior student carrying a sword along with all his friends, protesting against the government during the Mondal Commission issue in 1992. This time, carrying the imaginary tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” by myself, I was trembling in fear looking at the rowdy students out there. This is how my first time at college started with a serious jolt down my spines.

In 1997 after my graduation, I wanted to taste freedom and fortunately, my aunt stood by my side trying to convince my grandfather to allow me to study away from them at Bhubaneswar in Utkal University for my post-graduation. My father’s elder brother was the Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University. I stayed at my cousin’s to complete my PG in Utkal University. But I was strictly instructed to carry my tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care” without fail.

That imaginary tagline was the chain which put me under its bondage at every ‘First Step’ I took at different stages of my life. But I could breathe free with my lungs inhaling the fresh air of freedom for the first time when I came to Kolkata, my first out of state stay. I sensed, the tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” disappearing for the first time after many years in my life. I felt God’s promise of “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go“, real and evident.

Have I become very strong? Am I free from all the sufferings? Don’t I have any weaknesses anymore? No, not at all… I have become more weak and slower. But I definitely am free from that all-encompassing negative tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Never enjoy stagnancy but always be ready for the first time adventures relying on His divine strength.

Stay Blessed!

MY LESSONS FROM ALL MY BEGINNINGS

First times are hard to forget as it is the time when we step out of our comfort zone to do something which we had not done before. Either it brings sweet memories or it brings bad memories to us. Perhaps, therefore, first times are always known to be special. 

Well, I have so many first times in my life and today I am going to share two of my most memorable first times. These are so close to my heart and quite special to me.

First journey to Bangalore: After completing my bachelor’s degree, I came to Bangalore in November 2018. For me, it was not just an ordinary journey. It was a big step that I took out of my comfort zone. It takes about 48-50 hours by train to reach Bangalore. As I was going to Bangalore for the first time with so much luggage, my parents didn’t want me to go alone. Initially, I had planned to go with my friends but then the plan didn’t work out well. So I decided I would be going alone. I gathered my courage and spoke to myself, “if it is to be done then it has to be done now.” The train journey didn’t seem tiring to me. It was a fascinating and peaceful journey.

I enjoyed so much. 

While the train was departing from Patna, I promised myself, “I am not going to be weak. I will face whatever comes my way. If  it has to be done then I’ll make sure it gets done in the best possible way.” 

I arrived at Bangalore around 9:00 PM and booked an auto. My cousin came to receive me. I saw the city in dazzling lights and something in my heart said, “welcome Prerna! Your dreams are waiting for you. But for that, you will first have to spend a good time with struggles.” 

Well, the city seemed quite strange and confusing to me at first. But I have been exploring Bangalore all by myself. I love walking alone on the streets and is enjoying its weather. Though I travel across the world, I am never going to forget my first journey to Bangalore. It is one of the most beautiful memories of my life. 

First vote: Ever since I came to know what is an election and how important is one’s vote, I was quite excited for casting my vote. Well, I got the chance to cast my first vote in 2014 Loksabha Election. I remember I was so excited that I stayed awake the night before the election. I woke up early morning and made sure to get ready early. I had pressed my dress a day before itself. Seeing my excitement, my mother said, “it is just an election dear. Why are you preparing yourself so much?” But for me, it was the day when I would be practicing my right to vote. I was so restless to cast my vote that I asked my mother to get ready soon. Finally, we went to the election booth and I got the chance to cast my vote. 

There are so many first times in my life. All of them are safely stored in my mind. Though they are different, except one thing and that is they required courage to do. At first, they seemed intimidating but later they are no more intimidating. Some of them were bad and some of them were so good. But whatever it is, one should learn from their first times and should try to make the second times a better one. 

MY FIRST JOB – TIME TO RECOLLECT

Everything has to begin somewhere and it certainly ends elsewhere.
Every day is a new beginning and it ends somewhere.

I would love to share my experience with my first job.

It was a lovely day when I and my friends set out to the campus recruitment drive happening in a college in our native place, Cochin. In fact, being a careless person, I was the only one not carrying anything for the campus interview. Most of them came with a CV, photo, and copy of certificates and much more and me – just nothing. I was never intending to do anything. After reaching the campus, I realised I was I didn’t even carry sufficient money. I was, I am and I guess I will be totally absent-minded.

Thanks to the loving people who are supporting me and bearing me. My friend’s dad, on his scooter, took me all around the city to find a place to get my photo or even other stuff printed- luckily which I had saved on my email. Even though we managed to at least get a resume, I was happy. It was then when the exam began, and I went in to write it.

As usual, I was never expectant about getting to the next level. To my surprise, there was my name among 250 others – I was shocked. I called my parents informed them- they were super proud of me. I always feel blessed to have such kind-hearted people around me.

It was a long wait for the call letter. Still, the very first time I received it,  my happiness knew no bounds. My dad gifted me a Nokia 1100- the very first mobile phone I had. In September, I was all set for my training which was in Bhubaneshwar. The campus was huge, we all trainees had a big room to stay in. It was hard for me to find any familiar faces, but there weren’t any.

This morning was quite pleasant.

I  woke up and freshened up and walked towards the training centre. I could see groups of people coming into the same building. All had hopes and dreams and enthusiasm for the upcoming things the future had in store for them. I too walked in, grabbed a chair in the corner and sat there. I knew no one in the room, still, I decked up my face with a smile for everyone. It all began in a jiffy.

But I could still recollect the moments of my days- I had in the Infosys Campus, which became a piece of memory to cherish forever. Even though it didn’t last long, it still changed my life.

A few friends I made there, remain, my friends, the rest drifted away like me. It was a memorable time for me though. The only thing I carried ahead was the teaching and the moments of fun I had with my friends there.

Even though I had many more dreams to conquer, my path drifted away from there. Still, it was the first job in my life. The first something doesn’t have to be very dramatic in everyone’s life but it does leave some very valuable memories to carry forward with, in life. It allows us to the scope to experience something new and learn from it. I didn’t have anything dramatic in my first job yet, I had lessons which I learned for life that came afterward.

MY FIRST DAY AS A FREE BIRD

“My First” is an interesting topic. I have had a few interesting encounters but I’ll mention a funny incident.

A college is a new beginning in any students’ life. After the much-disciplined life of schools there comes the college. We suddenly start thinking that we are actually grown up wand that now we can do anything we want. We feel like a free bird. After 12 years of studying in Girls’ Convent school, and 2 years of +2 in a women’s college, I got admission in Ravenshaw University for pursuing higher education. I had so many emotions running through me because for the first time I was about to step into a co-education institution. I had so many things on my mind, from what I was going to wear to how to figure out where the class would be located at. But I was not alone, three friends of +2 had also taken admission in the same university, which was sort of a relief for me. 

Finally, the day arrived when I stepped in Ravenshaw University. One of my friends had accompanied me in a rickshaw. After reaching near the gate, we waited for the other two friends. After they arrived, we exchanged some gleeful glances and entered the campus. It was huge! I call it the “Red Empire”. There is a big lawn, spherical in shape with antic street lamps neatly fitted. The buildings were red in color. And my favorite color is red! The scenic beauty, the neatness, the entire atmosphere inside the campus had won my heart. To the right-hand side of the lawn, was a big digital board which read “Welcome to Ravenshaw University”. But without wasting much time we headed for the inaugural lecture. It was to be held in Gallery No. 2. We asked a few students and made our way through the crowd to the Gallery. After walking for about 5 minutes, we could see the word “Gallery”. We smiled at each other and rushed towards it. But when we reached near the entrance door, the Gallery was nearly full and the class had begun. We exchanged “oh-no-we-are-late” looks and one of us told, “Ma’am may we come in?” The class which was totally hooked to madam’s lecture was startled by our interruption. We could even see backbenchers giggling among themselves. I felt really embarrassed. But then it was mentioned in the time table that the inaugural lecture was supposed to commence at 11 am. We are only 5 minutes late. Madam looked at us, she didn’t question, she glanced at her watch and told “okay class, we will continue tomorrow” and she got up to leave. We four exchanged puzzled looks. “Get inside”, madam said and left. 

We four got inside, but we were greeted by startled looks, “who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here” looks. We four settled in and looked left and right to see many familiar faces. Finally, I spotted a familiar face and waved my hand. She was my school senior, she too noticed me and waved back. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Di, actually I,..”, before I could complete, another madam entered the class. “Settle down class, we have to cover two important topics today,” she said in an urgent tone. Without any delay, she started taking attendance (Ravenshaw University is still strict regarding attendance). After finishing with the left block, she signaled the right block for attendance. We four exchanged nervous glances because we didn’t have identity cards or roll numbers!

Meanwhile, it was our turn. “Yes, your roll number”, she asked my friend. “Ma’am I don’t know”, my friend replied in a feeble voice. “What do you mean by I don’t know? Anyways yes, next”, said madam in a hurried tone. “Ma’am I don’t know my roll no”, another friend of mine replied. “What? And you?”  Madam signaled me. “You too don’t know your roll number,” she asked sharply. “No ma’am” I replied. “You all are from which department? Where are your identity cards? Wait a minute, are you all freshers??” She asked us, nearly getting up from her seat. “Yes ma’am”, four of us replied. We could hear indistinct chatter and feeble giggles from behind. “My my”, madam exclaimed. “This is the Second year, English Hons. Class, your lecture is in the Gallery No. 2 and this is Gallery No.3. Common hurry up, you guys are late.” Madam signaled us to leave and showed us the correct place. After we left the room, we could hear laughter and indistinct chatters all through the stairs. Before we could catch our breath, madam had asked an office staff to accompany us to the destination. Had he not accompanied, we would have never reached the Gallery. Because we were new there and the campus was huge and lots of short-cut paths and ways puzzled us. 

Finally, we reached the Gallery No. 2. It was 11:30am. We missed some parts of the inaugural session. But we got our identity cards, roll number, library card, and the syllabus. After nearly 40 minutes, the inaugural session ended. We met with a few familiar people, friends of friends. After that, we headed for the canteen, for a quick refreshment.  We had a hearty laugh, with what just happened. Then two of my friends left. I and my friend took a walk around the campus and then headed home. Thus, the eventful day came to an end. My first day in Ravenshaw University is truly memorable. 

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.