IF ONLY WE COULD HOLD A CONVERSATION…

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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.

IS MY LOVING YOU, APPROVED BY YOUR SPOUSE OR PARENTS OR SOCIETY?

Oh boy! I was in the impression that this topic would be an easy one… But it’s not so… Now, I realised why the writers like Pradita and Kuljeet felt safe to run away from the battlefield 😛 . Even most of my writer friends kind of deviated from the main subject. I might twist it a bit as well… 😉

Sometimes, I wonder how acceptable my relationships with different individuals of opposite gender are, though the relationships are not of lovers!!! I call someone my sister, I call someone else my daughter but the question is how my wife feels about it… How do the spouses or parents of my “sisters” or “daughters” react to all these… And if all these relationships are without the cap of “sister” and “daughter” but just “friends” then there would be more questions raised and more eyebrows will be squinted against it. Now, if I think the other way around then what will be my reactions to such loving relationships of my wife or my close relatives with someone from the opposite gender…

Why do we feel that way? What is the reason behind our negative reactions or feelings towards such beautiful relationships?

I will come back to this later… Let me get into the more feasible examples around us where we shun love as taboo.

Let’s say, we went to Victoria Memorial (the renowned Monument of Kolkata) and saw a girl and a boy sitting on a bench and talking to each other… Just talking, let me highlight that…

What is the first thought comes to our minds? “How come these people get so much time to waste here?” “Oh today’s teens, they are getting spoiled day by day…” “How can their parents allow such things?” “Pity on their parents…” “They are such a nuisance in this campus.” And our negative thought processes or the curses for them are endless.

But the reality might be different. Those two teens might be discussing that, ‘this is not the right time for a relationship, we can concentrate on studies, we can’t meet like this behind our parents, we will be truthful to each other and protect each others from everything… We will keep our sexuality till our marriage…’ and so on…

I heard you thinking, “Unbelievable! That may be a rarest of cases…” Fine, I agree with you… but let’s think positive and react positively. What’s the harm in judging and reacting positively? And moreover, why is no one bothered to make amends when love is lost in a marriage, but quick to point out fingers to a male and female walking together without marriage?

Mind it, I am not encouraging premarital sex or trying to overlook the teen issues at all. That is not love but lust; I am dead against it myself… But, I want to raise a question against our thought processes, our narrow mindsets and our views or misconception about the purity of a beautiful emotion called ‘Love’. I want to proclaim the need of love in our lives individually as well as in regards to our families and societies at large.

The question still remains unanswered about the reason behind our negative reactions or feelings towards such beautiful relationships.

The ‘tendency to sin’ is the reason behind all this… It is because of the presence of sin within us which makes us feel that our spouse is exposed to vulnerability; our children are at risk of the lust with a covering of love… It is our tendency to sin (which means we can also fall into the same kind of temptation) makes us insecure about others as well even if they are safe and sound in the warmth of pure love. And thus, they feel it as not proper… they consider it as unacceptable… they termed it as societal taboo.

The presence of sin gives birth to two things… One, it distorts the meaning of love and confuses it with romance and lust which are just the fragments of Love. Secondly, it narrows down our mindsets and we judge without thinking even once.

In contrast to the above, the presence of love has a different effect on our minds and hearts. The Bible says,

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Fear comes when we commit sin, sin of fornication…sin of adultery. Sin makes us feel afraid of consequence and punishment. But love drives out fear and makes us feel comfort in its warmth.

Remember,

“We are born as helpless infants, dependent on our parent to fulfill our needs. Love, then, becomes need fulfillment and we seek this same love out as adults,” explains psychologist Dr. Beverly Palmer, author of “Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life.”

IS LOVE A TABOO?

Is love a taboo? Isn’t this too strong, a statement for a fragile and most beautiful feeling in the universe? Well may be yes, but ironically it is so true for a society that we live in. Since my childhood there have been quite a few relationships in which I wanted to pour out my heart and soul. But I didn’t or I would rather say I wasn’t allowed as I was preached since early age to give my love only to my children, to my parents, my future husband and probably of own status. And these unspoken boundaries limited my capability to express what’s inherent inside each of us.

Love is often hidden in layers or cramped in boxes and as a word is most hard to speak or talk about. Don’t believe me? Look at these statements:

“Think with your head not with your heart”, this propagates you to be logical and not sensitive. Why is it that bad a thing? What do Abraham Lincon, Thomas Alva Edison, Jim Carey and Nicole Kidman have in common, they all were noted a having highly sensitive characteristics and they did phenomenally well in their field and are admired and recognized as leading through caring for humanity, positive change movements, and self-discovery practices, something that sensitive people are good at!

Let’s take a look at this statement, “This is not your age to fall in love”. Well, what does it even mean? I guess the moment child is born; it develops an emotional bond with its mother. Have you ever noticed how when a child crawls it keeps coming back to its mother? That is Love! So guess, the above statement by ‘experts of society’ remain flawed.

Not agreed yet?

How many of you watch the daily News? Most of you, ever heard of love being talked about in the news channels? Forget about News channels in our own social media accounts how many times do we share thoughts or tweets about love. Remember that couple that we all have on our facebook friends list, so much in love and are always posting romantic pictures. After some point in time, we start criticizing them, start getting annoyed or sometimes even block them. “They were show-offs.” Really? Aren’t we dealing our own fears here?

As a young girl, we had a maid and she had a daughter just my age. As kids, we are the purest soul and never care about the classic obstacle in our mind ‘What will they think! I remember when her mother used to do the daily chores, I used to play with her daughter, and we slowly became best friends, completely unknown to my mother, who was a working woman.

I used to share all my toys with her and she used to get me ice candies from local ice cream shops all the way from her home, most of the time I consumed my ice candy in the form of colored water. But what matters is the gesture!

It was my Birthday and I had all my friends at my place, dressed in colorful and expensive clothes. As my mother, held my hand and took me to cut the cake, I told her I am waiting for my best friend. “Did I miss calling someone dear? As far as I know all your friends are here?”  “No, I am waiting for Meena”, it was my maid’s daughter name. “You and she can’t be friends, her mother works for us and that is the only relation you have with her, let’s cut the cake.”

As I was cutting the cake, I saw her standing in the corner, she was easy to notice as she was the only one in that party with faded frock, messed up hairs but that always welcoming smile and today she was holding two ice candies as my Birthday gift. I so wanted to go up to her, give her a bite from my cake and tell her how much I love her but couldn’t. The societal block overcame me that day. I lost a friend over a taboo!

Years passed and now Meena has taken over the responsibility of her mother. Whenever I look at her, she still greets me with same loving warm smile and makes me wonder; maybe we could have been friends if society rule of love was not based on our socioeconomic strata. Today as I sit here and think, how can love ever be inappropriate? Shouldn’t we say “I love you” to anyone we want, simply because we feel that way. Shouldn’t we deny the internal and external pressure to hide our feelings because they’re somehow inappropriate?

It all starts early; in schools and colleges we get teased by our friends for falling in love and are often mocked. Why, is it such a bad thing?

How many times have you felt uncomfortable when someone told you “I love you”, be at school, at college, a work, at our own homes. Sometimes we freak out when our parent come and tell us “I love you”. You have thousands questions running your mind, when all that is needed is a simple “I love you.”

Guess we don’t have much choice here either we can continue to live in a guarded way to feel suspicious of love and or we can work to reduce the taboo that love is for us!

(Image Source: Google Inc.)