A MODEST HUMAN BUT A GUTSY WOMAN

I have never seen someone that jolly and cheerful as her. It was very easy to know whether she was present or absent in the class. The reason was crystal clear, her loud voice and laughter. I had never seen her sitting sad or tired. She never used to keep people waiting. She used to speak what she thought to be correct according to her. When she used to scold someone, it was more like a loving and authoritative reprimand than insulting. But she never used to leave a person go easily 😛 . She believed in clarifying the matter more than keeping it in a hanging state. In our class, she was known as a ‘Clean Hearted Girl’, having no ambiguity within her. That was something commendable about her!

I am happy that I could relate to her so much because of our similar body structures. Is it necessary to announce that we were thin? 😊

She used to ride a bike much before the ad came up with the tagline – “Why should boys have all the fun”. She was having the fun even before the bike company even realized to make a jingle to sell its product. She was not tomboyish, but a beautiful and flamboyant girl.

She had kept friendship with as many people as possible in the class, unlike other girls. She was quite limitless in knowing and making friends. She was never a shy girl – not to flaunt around though but to keep decent friendship with all. That’s a pretty unusual attitude of hers which I admire a lot. In today’s world, when every feminist is fighting and shouting for issues like gender equality, my friend declared it with ease that she is equal to a man by her attitude and action in various aspects of life. She didn’t have to fight for it or shout for it or even try to prove it, but she lived it with her utter modesty.

No, I am not contradicting with what I said about her previously as not being a shy girl and what I said now about her being modest. Actually, I can put it this way – She was modest as a human, she was gutsy as a girl. And I believe, she possesses the same quality even today, though she had to go through many traumatic life situations in her life later.

We studied together at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for our post-graduation during the year 1997-1999. We were very good friends when we were in University, but we became close friends only after our studies. Usually, after a certain time in life people tend to lose their college and university friends. Even I did so. Presently, I am rarely in touch with any of my college and university friends. But the best part of our friendship is, we are still friends and in touch with each other. She never forgets to call me to wish on my birthday and Christmas every year. It was she who never let our friendship go, not even after she got married. Yeah, we had lost track in the middle for some time, while we went ahead in different career searches but we found our friendship back on track, after few months of her marriage.

There were quite a few hurdles that she had to cross over in her life – she biggest being, she lost her husband last year. She was utterly broken, she is broken even now, I know it very well. But I also know that she will get over it soon with the grace of God.

We grew in maturity with regards to our friendship, thanks to her. She knew how to own a relationship, a friendship. A few days ago, while talking with her on the phone, she addressed me as ‘Bhai‘ (Brother). And I knew she meant it wholeheartedly.

Dharashree! Yeah, that’s her name. I treasure her and our friendship for a lifetime. I believe a woman like her can bring a lot of change in this world.

Today, when the world around us has so many broken relationships, lost promises and loose-ended friendships, a woman like Dharashree can play a very important role to bring things together and on track. Only a woman like her, can win people, own them and live with all in peace.

A woman like my friend ‘Dharashree’, justifies why we all should celebrate the International Women’s Day again this year in 2019.

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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.

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“.

THE “ME -TIME”

Hello Everyone,

A page from my routine: I had to pick up my daughter from crèche between 12 noon – 12:30 pm.  It was 12:20 pm already and I was still at metro station at one end…nervously checking my phone every two seconds to check the time and waiting for the arrival of train.  When I finally reached the place, I was just two minutes late but the journey kept my heart racing and brain churning for entire 30 minutes. In short I was in “Tension”.  Recalling those 30 minutes now makes me ask a question or two – what would have happened if I was late? Perhaps they would have kept my daughter for five extra minutes  that’s it!  Why the hell was I so worried about it?  We come across many more such incidents where we constantly combat or at least try to combat our fears and insecurities.  We live by time frames and targets; swear by results and get obsessed by achievements.  

So indulged we are in the race to outdo others and sometimes ourselves that we have mortgaged our inner peace.  Broken relationships, anxiety, skewed balance of life, depression and an entire array of emotions that mark an unhappy individual are the bonus that we are accumulating everyday.

What to do now? I tell you, just relax! Make it a point to have a time of yours, spend time with yourself where you explore yourself and understand yourself.  In short “Meditate“.

Take a deep breath and “Meditate”.  Open the doors of your brain shutting out all the negativity and letting in the positive energy, focus and channelize your energies to something more productive and something more meaningful i.e. your mental peace.  Because it’s your inner peace that could help you see more clearly both sides of an issue, take better decisions and eventually grow as a person be it on emotional front of relationships or success in profession.  Meditation should be a part of our lives which could give us “Me Time” in the otherwise hustling and bustling world around.

How to define Meditation:  To sum up simply it is detoxification of brain.

How to Meditate:  Does Meditation means sitting at one corner with crossed legs and closed eyes precisely?  I would prefer to say “No”.  For me personally it is nearly impossible to concentrate that way.   It’s not my kind of thing 😊.   One would meditate to let the agitating self mellow down, let the brain to breathe, to focus and stop worrying about literally anything and everything around.  And this is only possible if one gets the much-needed medicine of happiness, the real one.  How to attain that?  What are the  alternatives to the general idea (perception) of Meditation?  Here they are:

Gardening:   It definitely gives immense happiness to see something grow out of your fingers (now don’t take it too literally, I meant touch).  Being close to nature, getting your hands stashed with mud, sowing seeds, watering and finally see the yield – a different sense of achievement, isn’t it?  Don’t be amazed if you meet people who actually spend time talking to plants as if they are individuals and evolve along with them.  Try it yourself.

Cooking:  I am not joking because for many it is just a boring routine chore.  How can it be a way of relieving the stress?  If you cook with love (may be for yourself 😉), try to experiment ( not necessarily to please others) without feeling the pressure to meet the On-Table Demand then you can actually shut the negativity out of chimney along with the smoke.

Long Drive:  Now don’t go to fetch your mean machine from the garage (save it for your routine schedules), I am talking about your long-lost, forgotten companion – bicycle.   When was the last time you rode it?  Wasn’t it fun?  Why don’t you take it along again and spend some quality time.  Feel the whip of air on your face, sweat in your palm and emptiness in your head (I mean devoid of all the frustration and negativity).  Physical fitness + clean environment is a bonus, what say?

Put on your dancing shoes:  Shut the world out and dance.  Dance your brain out and let your hair down.  It’s a great stress buster (believe me, tried myself quite a few times).

Practice any art:  When I say “Any” I mean “Any”.  If your heart is in love with any form of art and for any reason it couldn’t be your profession well that could be the reason for your frustration  in life ( there is a possibility) but at the same time that could give you a getaway from your tensions.  Pottery or poetry whatever it is, give it a chance to escape from the wheel of monotony, release your agonies and anxieties be new you!

Reading:  Well I am not an avid reader but for those who are, there can never be a best companion than a good book.  Pick from the lot and switch on your “Oblivious To The World Mode“.  Just see how well it works.

These are few possible ways to beat the stress and renew your energies – my way of looking at things. Whatever activity we choose the underlying factor should be Happiness at the end of the day.

Always be happy and do share your thoughts on this.