A WOMAN’S POWER TO RECONCILE

Quite staggering isn’t it, how a woman revolves her life around her biggest priorities in a way men seldom can. She’s caring and soft but she is also brave. A little edgy and wants to soar high but can also compromise. She can forgive and forget, trust and love.

We hadn’t met before and perhaps would have never, had it not been for a prank urgent call from a friend that ended up in me ghastly cycling my way to his house, for a reason I’d never find out. And as a consequence of his actions and more for my disregard for the college I was enrolled to, we decided to bunk that day.

It was there that I met Dempa – an abbreviation to save us time from pronouncing her longish name – when she stepped out of her room and greeted us with a smile. I had heard from Rohan that his sister was leaving for Nepal the following week. Therefore, mistaking her smile to be the excitement for a new journey, I gleefully queried how happy she was on starting a new life.

From what I had heard, it was indeed promising to be a new life for a girl, who would turn 23 the same day she would begin her journey towards a new destiny. Dempa worked here in a BPO sector, shared a flat with her still studying cousin brother and was the quintessence of most independent women.

But in a split of minutes, between which we conversed mostly on why she was leaving and her plans for future, my expression changed. She was still smiling though. I was certain that smile, somewhat forced, hid explodable sorrow. “But why now?”, I asked, recounting my mother, who after losing her husband on a fateful Valentine’s Day four years ago, rushed to the hospital next morning to help a neighbour, who didn’t know what to do and where to take his ill wife. Like really?

These women, they can give reality a resounding check and stand as brave to the outside world while their inner-depth moist with tears and you would never know.

Dempa was a month away from completing one year in the job. That would mean a slight improvement in her arrears, more experience and a higher band (BPO sectors usually have bands that increases with better performance and experience) which will increase her salary. “Because my grandmother is going,” she said. Dempa’s grandmother stays in Kharagpur in the house of her eldest daughter. That is where Dempa grew up alongside her aunt’s two children.

Her parents stay in Nepal. But Nepal has never been home to Dempa. It is only a holiday destination for her. “I find it very uncomfortable there,” she says. “That is why I only travel there for a few days and come back at the earliest. But this time I have to go.” “Why don’t you just drop you granny stay there for a few days and come back,” I suggested trying to find her options.

Rohan once told me that Dempa was the eldest child in her family. She had two brothers. Dempa was sent to India to stay with her grandmother. She would never live with her parents again and apart from a few holidays when one side travelled to visit the other, they would hardly meet.

“No! There is another reason,” Dempa responded refuting my suggestions. “What is it,” I asked, anxious. “My father wants me to come back.” “Ohh,” I said exasperatingly. “Joseph daa, Rohan must have told you by now that I stay with my grandmother since my cradle days. I missed my parents then. My Boju (grandmother in Nepali) has been my only parent. Now my father wants me to spend more time with him. He will support me, he said,” Dempa spoke cautiously.

“Ohh great!! What have you decided then,” I asked. “I will go,” she was crystal clear in her mind. “What about Rohan then? He’ll stay alone?” I enquired and argued. “I have spoken to him, he will understand,” she said stubbornly. All the while Rohan was busy with earphones tucked to ear. He was playing some stupid FIFA game on his desktop. I was frustrated with him. Here was I worried about him but he wasn’t bothered.

“Don’t worry about him. I have already found him another flat. He will spend the final three months of his fourth semester with one of my friend’s family. I know them too well. They have promised to take care of him. He doesn’t have to even cook,” she said reassuring me. “Why on earth did this thing not come to my head,” I thought to myself.

Oh God! Such a wonderful creation. They would think of your well being even before you’d think of your own. You can’t beat them on that. Caring and thinking for others are in their DNA.

Then there was a little pause. I prepared to go home. But she said, “You know… This is the third time my father is asking me to come back.” “What do you mean,” I asked. “You had gone before?” “Yes” her voiced mowed down. “I had gone in 2013 after completing my higher secondary. But he didn’t want me to study further. So I stayed for seven months, fought and came back to India.” 

“Then the second time what happened?” I asked, firmly stuck to my seat. Going home was now out of my mind. This was getting dangerous. She said that last year she had gone again. “But I could only stay three months.” “Why? What happened?” I asked again. “He was about to get me married off to one his friend’s sons. My mother helped me escape from home,” she said, her eyes lighted with perhaps tears.

Dempa…No! Don’t go.” I was already protective. (No, don’t praise me for that. Anyone would the same thing on the count of these incidents.)

“Don’t worry. My grandmother is there this time. My father has also promised me that he won’t do anything as such,” she said again full of reassurance. “But how can you trust him?,” I shot back.

She was willing to risk it. After all isn’t love, bonding and trust the greatest gift of God. A mother’s love couldn’t see her daughter getting forced into a marriage. She acted then. Here was Dempa ready to trust again. Ready to bond again.

But my constant refutes and her unshakeable confidence soon turned the conversation into a heated argument. Then she backed down because I wasn’t willing to. “What if he again does something similar,” I questioned her trust. “He won’t, I know,” she said in monosyllables.

So you have forgiven him?” I asked, hurrying myself to leave without waiting for an answer. I could hear her say, “Yes! Forgiven and reconciled” as I climbed down the stairs having forgotten to shut the door behind.

She was ready to forgive and forget for the third time. At that moment she had exemplified what I had grown up reading and hearing. Of course, I didn’t realise it then.

We met at a shopping mall approximately a week later – the three of us. I asked her immediately, “What is the final decision then?” “I am travelling the day after tomorrow.” She answered.

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THE COFFEE THAT MADE HISTORY

My footsteps echoed with a plangency, that almost scared me. As I walked, through the lighted but empty hallway, I could hear, the westerly winds, making the Eucalyptus tree leaves, rustling with fear. It was that kind of a night. My palms were wet with sweat and my heart was racing ahead of me. It was as if I was walking through the deep dark forest with the sunbathed leaves crunching under my foot, only this was the lighted hallway of my Operation Theatre. Every footstep accentuated the deadening silence that engulfed me. Suddenly, her giggles broke the monotony of that engulfing silence and grew louder. It was her trademark giggle and somehow it was music to my ears. Women have this nature of arriving from nowhere and imposing themselves on the scene. Perhaps, God has made them that way. “Meena”, I called in desperation.

Meena was the best Scrub Nurse, that I, a young and inexperienced Surgeon could have, in my graveyard shift. She opened the Operation Theatre door with a smile and said, “Perfect!! your patient has already been wheeled in”. I peeped in to see, the young kid, with a stick inside his abdomen and said in exasperation, “I dunno, whether the child will survive”. She immediately shot back, “It’s not for ours to think of survival. We are the means, never the end”. Women do that. They are masters at a refocussing back to ground zero realities and whenever they do that, God above smiles. You might think, “how insensitive!!”, but they love blurting out pathway driven truths. “The Anaesthetist is on his way and before he arrives, I have brewed some Coffee. It’s not the best in the World but will serve the purpose of re-energizing us“, she said smiling. “Gosh!! I need the coffee”, I thought. “How did she know that?” A million dollar question which men have been trying to answer since times immemorial. Women somehow know the onlooker better than the onlooker knows them. It’s a thought process that’s engraved inside that busy brain of theirs, since birth.

The coffee was soothing. One sip and my parched and drought-ridden throat suddenly had a voice. Meena was wearing her blue scrubs and sipping coffee with me. “Hows it?”, she asked. “It’s not the best in the World, but serves our purpose emphatically”, I said. “Ahh!!! the humour is back“, she blurted out immediately. “My coffee works, Isn’t it?“, she said it with a chuckle. I kind of knew by that time that she was loathing me back to confidence. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Women are like tea bags, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. Women somehow love to stand up and deliver in difficult situations, a thing we men always note but forget to mention until Valentine’Day or Women’s Day.” She expectingly asked, “Sir, how is it, that you are quickly able to sip away the piping hot coffee?”. I answered with a smile, “coffee is always good when hot because it fires up the fatigued neurons to act”. She immediately retorted back, “Isn’t this patient similar to the hot coffee, you are drinking?” When I gave an inquisitive look, she further added, “to operate on a difficult and diseased patient, takes courage but results in increased skills, which go down a long way to make you more daring, for such cases”. I argued back saying, “Surgery is an art, Meena!!” She coyly smiled and said, “Sir, Surgery is definitely an art, but Surgery is also a dare. For the skills to get better, the dare is essential”. She had a point there, I thought. Just then the Anaesthetist arrived and we scrubbed for the Surgery. We operated on the kid, and found a hole in the intestine and repaired it. The child remained over 2 months in our Surgical Ward and went home after that.

Its been 10 years since that day but it still rings clear in my head, whenever I am reluctantly operating on a sick patient. Meena’s words still echo and have over the years become a guiding light. Here was a woman, who taught me something, that no Medical College did. That eventful night, she changed a mindset for good. Now I relish a dare because 10 years back she proved it for me. She gave me belief, hope, desire and topped it with lots of smiles. For me, she has and will always remain a “Woman of Substance“. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I salute her indomitable spirit. Its always has been my prayer, “May her tribe increase“.

“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!

EXPLOITING THE FREEDOM

Sia (distant relative) and Nikhil have married two years ago. First few months went so well. But gradually, Sia realized Nikhil was controlling her. He wouldn’t allow Sia to talk to anyone, including her parents. If she talked to her parents, Nikhil would abuse her for this. Also, he would ask her to wear only the clothes approved by him and eat what he likes. At first, Sia thought her husband was caring for her but then it became suffocating for her. She would forgive him every time but Nikhil would never change. Now, they live separately and are on the verge of getting divorced.

I have a friend who was in a relationship with a girl long ago. Like every other guy, he too was smitten on his girl. For him, the girl was perfect and so he loved her a lot. He made sure not to control his love. The girl had many guy friends. Whenever my friend would ask about those guys, she would say they were just her friends. However, the girl was cheating on him and was dating many guys. After knowing the reality, my friend ended the relationship but she would call him every other day and would say, she doesn’t want to leave him. Also, she was not willing to leave other guys as well.

Reema was dating a guy and both of them were in a long distance relationship. The girl was of liberal thinking and so, she never minded her boyfriend befriending other girls. The boy, however on the other end was having some other plans and so, he cheated on Reema. The guy started dating one of his friends and when Reema came to know this, he denied and accused her of suspecting him.

The above incidents tell about how people misuse the freedom given to them by their partners and how they don’t realize the value of their other half.

When it comes to a relationship, we preach so much about “space” and “freedom”. We say every human should have freedom irrespective of whatever relationship they are into. But do we actually retain its meaning? At times, we start taking this freedom for granted. Or, maybe we don’t understand the true meaning of freedom in a relationship.

If your partner gives you freedom, then this doesn’t mean you can have a relationship with other people at the same time or you don’t have to be in limits. When you get into a relationship with a person, that person becomes special. But if you exploit the space, no one is as evil as you. Misusing the rights allowed to you doesn’t make you great. This shows, you have no respect for your partner and you do not value him/her.

Concluding, I can only say that – when you value the space given by your partner, the relationship becomes a fairy-tale but when you become controlling or crossing the limits, you ruin the relationship.