I FEEL SORRY – IT’S A CALL

One of my favourite speakers Ravi Zacharias quoted someone –

The 21st century is the bloodiest century in human history. We have spilt more blood on the soil than the previous centuries put together”.

As I ponder on his statement, it is quite evident, there are more than 40 active conflicts around the world at the moment. Bangalore one of the smallest Tech cities in the world records 25 plus divorce cases filed every day, over one and half a million people are violently murdered each year throughout the world, 800,000 people commit suicide every year and 17% out of them are Indian residents. 2018 records 34,600 rape cases in India which are reported, there still lies thousands unreported. NCRB report says, 22,955 human traffic victims are found in 2016 alone.

I feel very sorry for such states of my country,

but is my being sympathetic enough to do!

Irrespective of our financial and social stature one common platform from where we deal our life is – “Problem and Struggle”. A pauper has problems and struggles to meet his daily needs, alongside an affluent has problems and struggles to maintain his flamboyant social stature, for the sake of which often each of them compromises with the ethics and morals which causes grievous inner wounds – some of them are visible and some of them go invisible in the bright spotlights and grandeur.

Some of the beautiful souls whom I met in Candles Online fraternity is Kalpana, Preeta, Payal, Vipra and of course Chiradeep. Each of them is from different background and struggles every now and then to meet their own life requirements but whenever I am down in emotion at least one of them will surely pop-up to enquire. A couple of weeks back, both Vipra and Payal were on chat and they emphatically asked me one question – How are you Bhaiya? Even after my reply, Payal counter questioned “Pakka (Are you sure?)” and that was something truly meaningful. Often it is hard enough to express the inner pain but being empathetic and aiding with little affection and care is enough for a blissful touch. About feeding the poor, aiding the physically wounded and supporting the financially downtrodden, they are somehow managed to push up from their sorrowful state but how about the one who goes through with inner struggles and is unable to express it to anyone!

I feel very sorry for that state of life of a person, I think I can take a step to be empathetic…

According to the Bible, the two greatest commandments for humans are –Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is, Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the other laws hang around these two commandments. Taking the second law, the intensity of the love towards our neighbour is the way we love and take care of ourselves. When I am in a problem, I always do my best to resolve it, and if I have to be empathetic for my neighbour who is going through the problem I will have to do the best to resolve his problem. It is my deepest love towards my neighbour or friend that compels me to go beyond than just feeling sorry and mind my own business.

The Bible says,

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

Feeling sorry is not just an emotion that sprouts in our hearts as we find someone in difficulty. Rather it is far greater than that, as a matter of fact, it is the call of God for us to empathize and go beyond our limitations to enquire and care for people.

Theodore Roosevelt rightly said,

“Nobody cares how much you know,

until they know how much you care.”

RESPECT HUNGER

This is one of my favourite dialogue from an old Telugu movie “I respect hunger very much“.  That was touching.  Just as sunlight shines upon everyone, water quenches the thirst of every soul, air is life to everyone, hunger knows no distinguish.  It is the same for rich, for the poor; for human beings and for animals.   And hunger is one of the driving force that could make people choose extremes. A highly qualified graduate takes up the job of an ordinary salesperson wandering from door to door in the scorching heat because he has mouths to feed at home and he simply can’t afford to let them go hungry.  A woman (not referring to the well-educated ones who want to lead a life of luxury) forays into flesh trade because hunger is hounding her and her kin.  A farmer commits suicide because he found death to be an easy way out than suffering from hunger.  Millions of infants dying across the globe every year because of hunger.  I can go on with such moving incidents and examples where hunger pushes them, corners them to the unimaginable.

Hunger moves me immensely.  I have witnessed my own father who died suffering from cancer so badly wanted to eat something as he was unable to gulp down anything from his throat.  That was sheer pain. I felt so sorry for him. In fact, everyone in the family – my brother, mother, uncle, aunt – refrained from talking or discussing food in front of him.  If cancer was an apparent reason that took him down his pain was aggravated by even more painful hunger.  We too experienced his pain.

That was a page from my life.  There are more intercepts in those pages that have not only made me respect hunger even more but hungry people makes me feel sorry for them.  I make it a point that whenever any poor – homeless-helpless seeks some help (using “begging” would be too degrading) I try to give something to eat in my capacity.  After all the money that we donate serves this purpose only, isn’t it?

Innumerable incidents, so much pain all around that I have seen and experienced makes me ponder over a few questions or rather issues:

  • How could fortunate ones waste food? Do they realise the magnitude of pain a hungry person undergoes?
  • Why do people intentionally want to remain hungry while chasing their “dream figure”.  More and more people from this generation are becoming anorexics? NOTE: Healthy eating and dieting have nothing to do with abstaining from food.
  • When would governments of agriculture prime countries have a better mechanism to store food grains for longer periods, in healthy conditions?  Just an example:  The paradox of millions going hungry in India while food goes to waste is receiving increasing amounts of attention as the FAO stresses that one-third of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted every year. (Source Google)
  • What can we actually do to help?

We have a saying in India (which is a global truth) – Roti, Kapda aur Makaan – which literally means Bread(food), cloth and shelter.  These are the basic requirements of any human being and food takes the prime spot. That is self-explanatory what it means to be hungry.  Talking about food, hunger and how sorry I feel about people going hungry every day I came across few interesting things t that good Samaritans are doing across the world: Langars (community kitchens)  in Gurudwaras (sacred place of worship for Sikh community) serve everyone without any bias of class, colour and creed. A hungry person is always welcomed there.  Food facility centres are being run who urge people to donate instead of throwing away the food so that that food can be used to pacify at least one hungry stomach.  Just like charitable hospitals, there are people who cook and serve at no to very low prices making food affordable for everyone.

Picture Credit – Google Inc.

Perfect and Inspiring example: “Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything.

I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan said. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”

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Picture Credit – Google Inc.

I can go on about this but I must respect your time as well just as I respect hunger 😊.  Remember this: always thank God as our hands reach our mouth for there are many whose tears are reaching their lips to satiate the fire burgling in their stomachs.

JUSTICE OR INJUSTICE – IT’S ALL ABOUT TWO EXTRA LETTERS

One thing that we see in abundance around us is Injustice. Every morning when you read a newspaper, 90% of the news reported are directly or indirectly related to some kind of injustice. Be it a rape, honor killing, domestic violence, female foeticide, money laundering etc. And what do we do about it? Read and forget? Sometimes, a bunch of citizens will arrange a candlelight vigil for protesting against a rape incident. Sometimes, a good lady may offer help to the maid to report the domestic violence to the police. But what is the end result? Do these efforts help? Are the efforts enough in the first place?

Raising voice against injustice is no joke. One needs a great deal of courage to stand for self or for others. And this is exactly where a common man lacks. Nation’s leaders have left a great legacy of fighting injustice. Contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy towards abolishment of Sati and Child Marriage, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule towards setting up education system for females, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar towards untouchability and caste discrimination go a long way in shaping up our nation. But are we capable enough today to continue this legacy? Another question that comes to my mind is, is our system capable enough today? Not enough courage coupled with insensitivity (of humans as well as system) is an even more dangerous combination and paves a stronger way to injustice.

So what do we need to fight injustice?

1) Reinforcement of Law: With all due respect to the judiciary system, our laws do need an upliftment. I fail to understand why we need 10+ years to convict a rape accused. Worse is, chances are high that he walks free on various grounds like mental ill-health, juvenile age etc. A crime is a crime, how can the accused be forgiven on such petty grounds? Why the accused is not executed, especially when we know that they are guilty, beyond all doubt? We have some excellent examples from our neighboring countries about how do they deal with rapists. Why can’t our laws be changed for better? Rape accused is just one example of many. There are various other areas where the accused though guilty are living a peaceful life while the victim is dying in misery. If the perception in the minds of the people is that the judiciary system is denying justice, there is no place a common man can go to asking for justice!

2) System Revamp: By “system” I mean any authority that runs this country selfishly and illegally. Be it police, politics, media, just anything. We need to have these completely revamped. Sure, there are a few honest exceptions, but it is indeed shameful that even today we hesitate to approach the police to report any kind of incident. It is even more shameful that the big fat politicians are filling up their own pockets in the name of needy. Recruiting inactive MLAs just because they are a dignified personality in sports or films and paying them a salary of lacs of rupees is a complete injustice to the citizens. While media may show that they are doing an excellent job by running with cameras and questionnaires to the targets, what needs to be questioned is the authenticity of the news that are released? How much of it is fabricated? How much of it is bribed? How much of it is true? These three are the clutches of a common man without which he is left crippled. It is important that these systems work together. They do, even today, the only difference is they work together (inter-connections) for the betterment of their own and not that of citizens.

3) Shift from Sympathy to Empathy: Indifference in humans is growing day by day. They witness an incident, sympathize and forget about it. Partially because they feel crippled because of law and order and partially because they are too self-centered. It is common to exclaim “Oh it is really unfortunate” or “so sad” as long as injustice is happening to someone else. But ever wondered what would such guys do when it happens to them? They won’t be able to do anything more than sympathizing with self. It is high time that we put aside the sympathy and feel the empathy. Unless we are able to really feel what the victim is going through, nothing inside us is going to prompt us to take any action. The most common example is accidents. People are busy making videos of the accident rather than helping the victim. The victim is literally left to die. And this comes from lack of empathy. Can there be a bigger injustice?

4) A Little more Courage everyday: Yes, we need to be braver than yesterday. And that cannot be taught. It has to come from within. We need to be strong enough to raise voice or take measures against any injustice done to us. There is no point in playing the blame game. It will take time to change the systems that run the country, but we can change our mentality faster. We must get rid of “It’s OK” attitude with which we swallow a piece of injustice every day. Be it getting chocolates in place of change at toll plazas, or touch and go episodes at crowded places. We must learn to stand up and say “NO, IT IS NOT OK”. It is important that we start to bring this change with ourselves. This small step will eventually lead us to have enough courage to help others in need.

5) Awareness & Education: This is the most important requirement for fighting injustice. It is very unfortunate that most of the victims of some kind of abuse do not know that they can raise the voice against the ill treatment given to them. They fail to understand that it is not the just the ordeal done by the stronger but it is injustice in reality and someone can help them (perhaps!) The most common examples are laborers who are denied the basic minimum wages, a housewife giving in to the hardships imparted by her husband. They feel it is just the way of life.  They need to be aware about how to distinguish the way of life from injustice. And for this, we need a solid awareness and education. While schools are doing their part of teaching children about good touch and bad touch, what are they doing to sow the seeds of courage in case of any unfortunate incidents? When media runs a campaign about reporting how a rape happened and how a prisoner (on account of some hideous crime) has had a tough life, what is it doing to let the common man know what their rights are or how can they safeguard themselves from injustice.

Justice or Injustice – It’s all about two extra letters. Screaming and whining because of injustice is very common, but we need to go a step further. We need to speak up; we need to bring in the change! If every one of us decides to take baby steps mentioned above, collectively we can remove those two extra letters from Injustice and get Justice for all.

SILENT ISN’T GOLDEN IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP

It’s almost a regime for me to talk to my bestie.  We share our deepest darkest secrets, hearty laughs, saddest moments day in and day out.  Few days back amidst such exchange of emotions she told me about a brawl that broke down in the premises of her husband’s office following a missed call.  You heard it right it was just a “Missed Call“.

Her husband is a good friend of mine as well.  It’s about a missed call that he made to his female co-employee and it was unintentional, more of an accident as he was trying to call his father and ended up dialing her number which was next in contact list by mistake.  Within a fraction of seconds he disconnected the call as he realised the goof-up he made.

It all began with that accidental call.  Soon there was a revert and it was the husband of that lady on the other side. “Why you are calling my wife at this hour? (It was only 8PM), “Do you call often?” He was quite derogatory in his remarks.  Nothing seemed to pacify him or make this moron understand the fact that it was unintentional.  He was adamant on seeing my friend in his office next day as if he had some old scores to settle.

Next day as expected that man landed at my friend’s office.  He was raring to initiate a scuffle and create chaos to be seen by everyone around.  But thanks to few good confidants of my friend, that was averted.  But that didn’t stopped that reckless rogue from spitting venom about everyone including my friend.

The underlying issue was his ailment of doubting his wife’s loyalty towards him and their relationship.  Suspicion is his middle name.  He would always point out at the way she dresses, a tinge of make-up on her face would set the wheels of his obscene mind churning, would keep a track of her minutes, would always make it a point that she is always under his thumb especially in front of his family which is dysfunctional to the core.  To sum it up – he is mentally ill with an apparently healthy abode.  All this garbage can still be branded and gulped down as “Male Ego”, “Chauvinism” which is  more uncommonly common in society like ours, though unacceptable.  But what surprised me, in fact stunned me was that woman’s stand.  When my friend asked her about her stand about her husband’s behaviour, rather misbehaviour she dropped her shoulders and sighed saying “What can I do? What stand can I take? I have to put up with this.  And anyways you shouldn’t have created so much ruckus here in office, Sir!”.  

That was something unbelievably stupid coming from a financially independent, educated woman who takes care of an unemployed (by choice) husband who himself has his past relationships peeping (in fact resting in his drawing-room) in his present with his wife having full knowledge of it, still making no bones about it. Had it been from an illiterate and dependent person, that would have drawn some sympathy.  This lady only attracts ire.  Few may hold a different opinion but inability to stand up and against such oppression in the name of family, love, values makes her equally guilty.

I want to re-emphasize that she is equally guilty as her silence is encouraging her husband’s sadistic and patriarchal approach where a woman is deemed to be acceptable if she is a silent spectator. She will prove to be a culprit to her daughter (who is just two years old) and her dreams.  She is doing nothing but preparing a ground which would allow her daughter to grow up with a mentality that a woman can’t question a man.  There could be two possible outcomes to such a cowardice approach of that little girl’s mother:

  • That could kill the confidence of a budding spirit. Since parents are the first role models for any child, looking up at her mother’s way of handling issues (very much passive) there’s every possibility under the sun that she would accept things lying down in future without any objection, without any contest and let out a foul cry blaming fate.  Unfortunately, this is the environment majority of girls grow up in. “Pati Parmeshwar Hota Hai” (Husband Is God) is the tonic girls are made to mug up breaking them from within, doubting themselves and leaving them always to search for a shoulder to lean on. I pity the poor child!
  • She might end up as a rebel with no cause.  A child needs love and mutual respect as catalysts for a healthy development.  But in the case at hand it is mental harassment, emotional abuse, fear, oppression that play constantly in front of her eyes and in mind in her growing years.  And it’s proven that with such a volatile and disturbed environment kids might end up being bullies or rebels.

To avoid any such occurrence in future that lady should raise her voice now even if it means walking away and out of such a rotten relationship.  By the way I forgot to reveal one twist in the story. This lady chose her partner (love marriage) and was well aware of his ways even before the marriage was consummated.

Is it Love or pure ignorance or self-degradation?  In this case I clearly see that this lady’s sensibilities are paralyzed beyond repair to put up with such a scrupulous person with her self-respect at stake every single minute.  In order to be acclaimed as a doting and pious wife she has completely laid herself on pedestal enduring character assassination at the drop of hat.

I understand, ego daunts a relationship but lack of self-respect isn’t saving it either.

Do think about it.

STOP BEING A VICTIM AND OWN IT!

“She is level-headed and opinionated!”

“She is a feminist!”

I have to say, when it is needed, I have spoken out loud and talked about my opinion though it has created repercussions both at personal and professional level. I have been stereotyped as someone who is ‘outspoken and rude’!

It happened when I took up public health after doing bachelors in Dentistry, despite my family’s wishes for me to continue it and run my own clinic. It happened when I raised my voice on unequal pay scale at office for same positions and prevailing gender bias. It happened when I fought for ‘price for marriage’ and rose against the concept of dowry.  It happens all the time when I have to defend myself whenever I disagree to follow the ‘norms of society’ set for a woman.

“A woman should not work late at night; a woman should only wear certain type of clothes; a woman should not drink alcohol or smoke; a woman should not have male friends once she is married; a woman should do as her husband says or if he ‘permits’; a woman has no life after divorce, she should continue living with her husband no matter what; a woman has no right to property, she is a liability”.

THE LIST OF WHAT A WOMAN SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT DO IS NEVER ENDING!

I have had to speak out quite loudly against ‘gender-based harassment’ at workplace. Just because I am a woman really does not mean that you have the right to belittle me, or making me feel like I have achieved something out of favors by men or by pleasing them or I am not good enough to lead a task just because I am a woman! This happens often in my job and many women face the same issue, and I have had to be strictly vocal about it. People will mistreat you if you take injustice lying down!

MY RAISED VOICE HAS HELPED!

It has made it possible for me to reach new heights in my career and getting promotions much before men in my office. If you deserve something, if you have worked hard for it, you should not remain silent just because you are a woman!

When you raise your voice, you make yourself known, and people know that there is someone who will not back down, who will not be silent. That is why I believe that raising your voice is a good thing. It helps people see others’ point of view, and make sure that they know why there is a need to speak up, especially against injustice.

Most of the time oppression against women start in their own families and are in-built in women. Indian women prefer to depend on their male members for financial and safety measures. Emotional and financial dependence of women gives birth to egoistic tendencies in men with negative mindset. They start imposing their decisions on wife and other female members of the family.

Even the most ambitious women face the injustice at workplace almost at every stage, employers hesitate to hire young women fearing potential pregnancy, if they do get hired the pay scale is always less than males, they fall much behind their male counter-parts after marriage due to responsibilities of family, many women drop out to raise children. Working women, especially in rural areas are monetarily and physically exploited by men either due to inaccessibility to credit sources or due to lack of laws to help protect them. Women also fall victim to social evils like infanticide, inhuman treatment to widows, especially in Northern India, Bengal and Rajasthan or polygamy in southern parts of India.

Women have faced tremendous injustice over the years, often due to women’s own lack of courage to face situation. Instead of silently bearing all the atrocities perpetrated against us, women should raise their voice against injustice; create awareness amongst women about their rights.  Women should channelize their efforts by forming women groups, linking the disadvantaged to NGOs and legal firms and getting heard, by writing and publishing articles, organizing workshops and seminars.

MAKE VOICELESSNESS LOSE ITS WICKED GRASP, GET YOURSELF HEARD!