THE INVISIBLE INFLUENCES

A couple of months back I was at the OB-GYN, waiting for my turn. There were almost 20 women already waiting, so I thought it would take time before I would be called in. I took out my phone to continue reading the book I started. Few pages into the book, I was pondering on the idea of the author when a girl in her mid-twenties walked in. 

Receptionist: Good morning Mam!

Her: Good morning! I need an appointment with OBG.

Receptionist: Name mam

Her: Abigail 

Receptionist: Number of weeks or gestation period?

Her: 28 weeks

Receptionist: Age mam

Her: 26

Receptionist: Married mam?

Her: Unmarried 

Receptionist: (Little hesitant, she asked again to reconfirm) Unmarried mam?

Her: Yes

By now, everyone’s eyes in the room were fixed on her. I slipped back into reading my book. I was called for my checkup and the doctor ordered for a scan. I was seated at the waiting area of the radiology wing when Abigail approached me and almost snapped with the question, “Would you mind if I sit here?“. There was a dose of anger in her face. “Sure“, I replied. 

“Is it so difficult to not make me feel awkward? Why can’t you do your own stuff and not concentrate on others?” – she said in a tone which was screaming frustration.

“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to. Abigail, right?”. She nodded

“Abigail, you are feeling awkward because you noticed us glance at you when you said you weren’t married. I understand that it might be difficult for you to go through the process of birthing being unmarried. In a conservative society like India, heads are going to turn every time you say you are unmarried with this baby bump. By now, you have made a decision to go ahead with the baby, so, the only thing you should do is to get accustomed to these stares.”

She was staring at me with a puzzled face

“I am not judging you. In fact, I don’t know how you ended up with this pregnancy. This pregnancy could be a result of someone not keeping their promise, or you are having an IVF, or you are the receiver of an unconsented sexual encounter. Whatever the reason may be, personally I appreciate that you stood for your baby. There is a lot more for you to handle apart from these stares. Don’t give too much importance to what we would think or say. Am I going to help you during your delivery? No. Would I be taking care of your kid in the future? No. Do you think if you would ever cross my thoughts again? Maybe.  Am I your family or friend? No.. then, why should you care about what I think? Abigail, I don’t want to be harsh on you, but straight to the point, please stop consciously noticing other’s behaviors.”

“Are you saying it’s my fault?”

“It is not about one’s fault. Not about what is right or wrong either. When you made a decision, you should be prepared for the consequences, good or bad. Whatever your path may be, there would always be people who dislike it or criticize it. If I were you, I would think about ensuring a safe and secure future for my kid. The rest should be taking a back seat at this point in time.”

She smiled and I moved on with my scan. I never saw her again. I hope she is doing fine and had a healthy baby. 

It is not just Abigail who thinks about what others would think or behave when we do certain things, all of us do. Many think that only when we are doing something that does not fit into the “rightness” of society we tend to change or modify our decisions. In fact, these invisible factors are influencing us every day, they would continue to do so if we allow them to. 

Consider a situation when you are out for dinner with friends or family. When we are placing an order in a round-robin fashion, if anyone before us chooses the same dish as we have in mind, we tend to change our choice. This is often because we think it hinders our individuality. We do not buy shoes or clothing we see are being worn by many others. 

One more example could be choosing our next vacation spot. Many who follow others on facebook or Instagram, choose their vacation spot that is different than others in their social network. Somehow, we like to say that we visited a place no one else did. Constantly, we are conscious of our decisions. 

As far as I am concerned, I give the least importance to what others or society thinks. I believe society does little when we are in trouble. If we have a very caring society and family, we wouldn’t be so worried about our decisions in the first case. So, why give so much importance to what others think? Why should we base our decisions on their thoughts? We should always do what is best for us but do not hurt others at the same time. 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

– Dr. Seuss

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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.

I fly even with my wings broken and
a mind full of desires,
no matter how insignificant,
if I am not better,
at least I am different.

I WISH MARRIAGES ARE MAINTAINED IN HEAVEN AS WELL!

I have always loved watching man and the wife spending quality time together. It gives me joy when a couple displays their affection for each other in public. No, I am not talking about public indecency. I am talking about holding hands in a gathering as they walk, entwining their fingers as they sit side by side, looking into each other’s eyes as they sit across the table at a coffee shop. When I see a couple happy together, it feels like their world is filled with love. The number of these true love birds are very less or negligible I can say, in today’s world. There are more broken families that I find than witnessing some awesome companionship when I look around. And I feel really very sorry and sad about it.

The world divorce rates reveal, Luxembourg is number one with 87% whereas India is 1%. India’s stat looks better but 1 in 100 is so much. In one lakh marriages, the number grows to 1000 divorces. 1% divorce rate in India doesn’t validate that the marriages are without any hassles. There are many in India who forced stay in their marriages either for the sake of their family, society, children or survival. The brokenness still remains if not divorces. Horrible it is!

Trust me, this intensity is growing daily. The Divorce rate was 12% in 1960 whereas it is 44% worldwide now.

https://www.unifiedlawyers.com.au

The divorce not only breaks down the couple it affects their families especially their own children. A child’s trust and dependability get shaken up when his or her parents split ways. 

I have a few friends who go through such brokenness even if they are still in their marriages. And both of them are silent and managing because of their children. They don’t want to part ways even if they struggle in their lives because they are more concerned about their child’s future than their own. I have a few more who struggle even after they got out of the wedlock. For all of them, brokenness has never come to an end until today. 

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Image Credit: Google Inc.

In the beginning, God created family in so much care and love. But it hurts me and I feel pain in my heart when I see families broken, whether divorced or forcing themselves in a bond along with their children suffering with them.

Since many years, I have been bearing that burden for all those broken families and I keep praying for all of them who go through that brokenness. And when I got married, God let me encounter a few challenges for myself too to deal with; probably, to train me and to equip me more, so that I can be a help to others.

It is true, “marriages are made in heaven“, but if I have to add further looking at the world around me, then I would say, “yet they are maintained on earth“. If they would have been managed and maintained in heaven as well then there would not have been any brokenness at all. 

I feel really sorry, worried for those broken people out of a marriage – a spouse or a child. I literally cry for them and also pray for them so that they reunite or reconcile with their loved ones. 

Stay Blessed! 

IF ONLY WE COULD HOLD A CONVERSATION…

Image result for shopkeeper and customer anime

How often do we actually take out time to exchange just a few words with the people who don’t hold much importance in our life? Rarely or maybe sometimes. Recalling one of such acquaintances, I cannot forget my childhood memory associated with the purchase of junkies from a nearby colony provision store. No sooner was I able to collect a few coins than I used to rush to the shop to purchase either a pack of chips or my favorite cola! However, the owner of the shop had such disposition that all my excitement always cooled down on seeing his grumpy face. Since it was the only shop in my area, it seemed more of the kind of a monopoly store. His irritation level would rise to heights if I would ask him to display his collection of candies or if even I just had to add one extra item in the billing list. A smile was the last thing one could expect from this shopkeeper. Whenever I returned home after my purchase, I always complained to my mom about the rude and ignorant behavior of this man. But then again, I had no option than to go again to this merchant for purchases as it was the only store that existed in my colony at that time. Moreover, if anything went wrong or if I ever had to return an expired item, he took it back with so much of sternness as if he was doing a favor on me. His nags and my complaints went on endlessly until a piece of shocking news broke out one day.

I had risen from my morning sleep when I saw my parents leaving home early that day. When I asked my maid about it, she told me that they were going to attend the funeral of Mr. Jaiswal. It was as if the ground below my feet had shaken for how could a man who seemed so fit could pass away. I couldn’t help remembering how often I used to engage in a fight with this man at his shop even for his fuzzy attitude. All of a sudden, I just felt as if I had so many unsettled accounts with this person, left to finish. When my mom returned, she told me that this shop owner was suffering from mouth cancer and he committed suicide.

For a moment, I couldn’t believe if it was really true and when this reality seeped in me, I could somehow relate to the reactions of this shopkeeper in the past. Mr. Jaiswal was not bad, it was his circumstances that had turned him sour and bitter. Now it clicked to me that why he didn’t respond to my anger as uttering a word from the rotten mouth was so difficult for him. Moreover, the pain of those blisters in his mouth was the reason for the constant frown on his face. I really felt sorry for a dead soul that day and more than that I was agitated by my own self that how I could hold so many grudges against a diseased person for petty issues. It really struck me that why I didn’t even try for once to gauge the depth of his situation. I really wondered if I had just even tried getting into his shoes, I would have never held any complaints against him. I cursed myself endlessly for not making any efforts to discover the reason for his sternness. Why for God’s sake, I didn’t even hold a conversation with him? Sympathy filled my heart when I came to know from the neighbours in my colony that how lonely he felt as he had no one to look after him. It was not only the disease but solitude as well that was killing him. He certainly might have felt very low which led him to commit suicide and there might be no one around to even console him. Connecting the dots seemed very easy at that moment for one could then sense that his frustration was definitely the outcome of his sufferings. I couldn’t help questioning myself that how I could frame so strong and wrong perceptions about this person just because his behaviour was bad with me.

Mother Teresa has rightly said:- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’’ These words were somewhere resonating in my ears for I had turned so nasty in judging the shopkeeper that I had no time to empathize with his problems that were probably greatest than all of our rants. I felt very sorry for him and at the same time, I really felt that I just could not forgive myself for passing angry comments on him. I learned a lesson that day to not judge a person without knowing his struggle story. Moreover, it does not take much time to know the sorrows of a person only if we understand the real meaning of tolerance and patience. Even if it takes time, isn’t it worth it, if it can save someone’s life and make him feel worthy enough to live on this planet; making someone feel a little less lonely?

This incident really questioned my indifferent conscience that day and struck such chords in me striving me to live a life of awareness and kindness with empathy and compassion filled in the heart.

MURDERERS OF CHILDHOOD – I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU

I feel sorry…

Actually, I feel sorry for everything that happens around me, or even for matters that fall in my ears. If I am to cite an incident on instances I felt sorry, I would have plenty of them to pool in.

Marriage is all about in a relationship with a lot of understanding beyond imagination. Coping with married life needs better understanding at least with respect to age. When families marry off those kids (girls) at such a young age, I wonder how much do they concede. It is true their perception is never recognised, but all they do is flow with the marriage.

When in India, the legal age for marriage is 18, there are still child marriages happening in India. To my knowledge, my maid, who is hardly now 25 years has already four kids, and she was married at a young age of 15. And such young ages they conceive and give birth. They hardly get basic education, health facilities or anything that is requisite for such a young age. And they are all the more burdened with responsibilities of managing the family.

As she narrated me, there are many girls in their village who are getting married at the same age, they are mostly given a minimum education which she claims is just enough to read and write as the schools in those outskirts are not much more advanced to offer enough learning. Imagine, when we are assured the government is offering a good education, there are schools where nothing is done -maybe I can say, there is no school itself.

These girls are married off to some guys, who just ensure they have two three kids, and abandon those kids and the wife to survive on their own. And it is up to them especially the girl’s family or all by herself to endure then.

Is that what responsibility means?

It is not just poverty-stricken families who are on the same page, there are many in the urban areas who ensure to get their girl child to marry at a very early age- as if they are de-burdening themselves.

I felt sorry for such families who do such heinous act. At such tender ages, they are bound to enjoy their teenage, learn the life lessons step by step. For them, Marriage is like pushing them into a well and then lock up there for several years to endure a responsibility that came in soon.

It is not just the issue of younger age, they are also bound to give sufficient dowry to feed the richly-poor grooms family who shamelessly asks the girl’s family to pay for their expenses.

Even the urban areas are infected with such pathetic people, who are shamelessly greedy enough.

I feel sorry for such parents, who marry their girls off to such families, who are just greedy. Nothing could be done other than they being cursed with a Midas touch like a curse.

I being a mother of two girls, would ensure I don’t steal my children’s future and their dreams just to keep my reputation or my societal commitments. Instead of being sorry, for such wretched souls who are doing harm, I would be better to take a step ahead to protect them, at least my own children.

THAT OLD LADY WITH THE HUNCHBACK

We come across many helpless people in our lives. We see them, feel pity and move on, not because we are not sensitive, but because we don’t know them. We look at their sorry state, think about them, feel bad and angry simultaneously simply because we are unable to help them. We even thank God for being generous on us and not putting us in that situation.

There is one incident which I still remember and perhaps that was the first time when I felt sorry for someone. I must be in my early twenties. I was in a photo framing shop and was paying for my stuff when I noticed an old fragile woman with a hunchback, walking slowly into that shop. She waited for her turn as the shopkeeper was handling 2-3 customers at the same time. She asked for her photo lamination which she had ordered. He said, “That is not yet done.”

I covered a lot of distance to walk till here and you haven’t done the work”. The old woman said.

I will complete it today and you can come tomorrow to take it, I assure you.” The shopkeeper said.

The old woman sat there for a while as she must have been too tired to walk back. Meanwhile, I took the balance amount from the shopkeeper and returned home.

Throughout my way, I kept on thinking about her and questioning:

Why was she alone?

Why did no one from her family accompany her?

How could her family members send her alone?

Why did that stupid shopkeeper didn’t keep her order ready? My order could have waited, her order should have been priority. How could he didn’t sense this little thing?

I was full of anger, yet I couldn’t do anything. I felt so sorry for that old lady with the hunchback. Her family members didn’t have any empathy for her condition. I don’t know the reason behind her coming alone, but whatsoever may be the situation, I felt her children ought to have taken care of her and somebody should have accompanied her.

I feel sorry for those parents who nurtured their children with love and care, but as they grew old, they left them to be on their own. More than that, I feel sorry for those children.

I feel sorry for those who lose their loved ones. I feel sorry when I read news of the newborn girl child being killed by her cruel family members. I feel sorry for those who don’t realise the importance of love. I feel sorry for those who don’t love their country. I feel sorry for those who are too self-obsessed to cherish their relationships. Above all, I feel sorry for myself because I am not able to help them out!