Feminism is the most misused word in today’s world
and it worries me a lot
because I am not sure what kind of education
we are giving to our little girls
who are growing up in a world where “being a feminist is cool”.

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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!

WRONG DECISIONS OR WRONG PERCEPTION?

Today, I am going to share a story with all of you. It is story of one of my friend. I have known her from our Pre-University days. We stayed in a hostel to pursue our pre-university course. It was an all girls college, so we were at our luxury to do whatever we want but not breaking the rules of the college. Though most of us missed home, as days passed by we realised our parents are not going to succumb to our demands to move out of hostel. We enjoyed our two years of stay there and the bond we have made is as strong as the one’s we have with our own family.

Let’s call my friend Nidhi. Nidhi is very very pretty and a soft spoken girl. She has light brown colored eyes, almost of honey shade which added to her beautiful smile made her look gorgeous. There was a tinge of childishness in her. Her overall personality made us wonder how she would survive in this world. She graduated, got a job right after leaving college and was happy in her own world. Her parents arranged her marriage with a boy who is from their circle of friends. Her marriage invitation was not the only one that was grand, her wedding was a grandeur too. She looked very happy during the marriage. 

Marriages do not change friendship but they surely change the way we interact. Hour long calls prior to marriage become few minutes of interactions. The distance may not increase but there is some gap in communication with friends. Two years after her marriage, I accidentally met her on my commute one day. She looked pale with scars over her face. On asking, she said she met with a small accident a month ago. Casually I mentioned this conversation with another of my friend, who shared the truth with me. Seems Nidhi’s husband has been torturing her physically for sometime and also was the cause of her scars. Nidhi was admitted to hospital after surviving head injury from a bike accident. It was a deliberate act of her husband to hurt her. I wonder if he wanted to kill her.

I phoned her on an office working day so that I can talk to her. Her long list of problems in her marriage were way too much for one person to handle. Her husband used to beat her, also burn her on the skin using cigarette butts. Apart from the physical abuse, he also was insecure that she was having an affair. I did not even know how to react to her, but I encouraged her to file a compliant against him and that would be the first step to making her life better. She separated from her husband and is now fighting a case in the Honorable court of Law. 

So, what’s so bad about separating from her husband knowing he isn’t worth giving a chance? If you ask me, then my answer would be, no problem at all. But society does not see it in this way. In typical Indian households, woman who leave their husbands are considered bad women and have low tolerance levels. Many fellow women often say, “Every house hold has this problem. My husband isn’t a loving man either, did I not live with him? “. I fail to understand why they compare. Every one’s life is unique and so are their problems. If this is what society was discriminating her against, her parents felt they should be in sync with the society. 

Nidhi’s parents expressed their disinterest to support her in her marital matters. They were more worried about the repercussions of Nidhi’s seperation on Nidhi’s brother who is all set for marriage.  Her brother went to an extent to throw Nidhi out of the house declining her shelter. She moved to a paying guest accommodation and had to fight her depression all alone. Her parents stopped talking with her. What kind of a family does that? Many of her friends bothered the least to be with her. Some even said Nidhi made wrong decisions and is now suffering because of them. I wish I was in the same city as her which would have made it easier for me to support her. If parents, siblings, friends, relatives and society – everyone turn their backs, how is a person supposed to survive alone? Why is it so difficult for us to understand? Why don’t we let others live their lives? Poking our nose into other’s lives is a biggest problem in places where society domination is high.  Wrong decisions? How do we know if her decision was right or wrong? Ok, even if the decision was wrong, does that give us power to leave her to her fate? Why cannot we extend our gratitude? 

Nidhi is not alone. There are several groups for single women, single mothers, separated women, divorcees etc. Many of those women didn’t find support in their own families. I feel sorry for Nidhi and many others girls and women like her. Without an iota of doubt I am very well aware I cannot help everyone of them, though I wish I could. It saddens me when I talk with her. 

So, what’s going on with Nidhi now? Nidhi’s parents met with an accident, her mom passed away, her father is left bed ridden with spine injury. Nidhi is taking care of her father now as her brother has settled abroad. Some people are just too good at heart and unfortunately those people suffer the most. May be that’s just because they do not know how to deal with others they same way they dealt with them.

This week we are writing about feeling sorry for those who we cannot help. Do you have anyone in your life who you want to desperately help but cannot? Do you feel sorry for them?

WOMAN – THE MASTERSTROKE OF GOD’S CREATION!

SHE IS WORTH FAR MORE THAN RUBIES. Her children arise and tell, “We are blessed to  be born from her womb”. Her husband says, “many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. I am sure, your beauty will fade away one-day but your godliness will ever praise. You have brought me respect, you are my dignity. The works of your hand are creative and worth to be praised in my community. In the dawn, while I am sleeping you leave your bed, kneel before God seeking grace for my family, prepare food and work hard to feed the entire family. Your kindness towards the poor and needy has always brought favour for our family in God’s sight. Your involvement and understanding my professional life brings profit to my wallet and comfort to my heart. Your counsel is full of wisdom and your lifestyle dispels the humbleness of your heart. When I sleep, the warmth and the beauty of our bed refreshes my body. YOU ARE MY CROWN!

You must be wondering, who is SHE!

She is the compiled picture I would sketch assorting the characters of those virtuous women who revealed to meHow does a woman look like!

The Bible says,

The beauty of a woman comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious to God. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

On August 2018, I met such a lady adorned with the inner beauty and from her mouth flows the word of wisdom and kindness. It was my first meeting with her. I was quite apprehensive about her response because I knew she is very introvert, talks less, professionally affluent and very intelligent whereas I am full-on opposite to her personality. Somehow after a little bit of mental exercise, I prepared myself and reached at her place. With a smile, she opened the door, introduced me to her mom and almost spent more than 1 hour 30 minutes of discussion. Since then I have never met her but within those few precious minutes with her words and gesture displayed the character of a woman who follows God’s ways, thinks relevant and speaks words of wisdom.

Do you know who she is? She is our dear Candles online writer – Rajnandini Sahu.   

The Bible says,

“A wise woman saves for the time of famine (difficult time) in her family and her household never run out of need.”

I have a cousin. Recently, she asked me about my savings and like most of the guys, I too failed to answer her. She scolded me almost for more than an hour on phone and the way she started sharing with me about different savings policies, I thought for a while am I talking to my cousin sister or an Insurance agent! Jokes apart, I realized she was right in scolding me on that. Most of the men are very bad in saving money for the future but women are not like that. In fact, they think about the future. A father desires for her daughter’s fat wedding but it is the mother who enables the father to save for the daughter’s wedding.

The Bible says,

“She is worthy of respect and trust-worthy”

I am very reluctant to talk to anyone about my past life and failures as today it is too hard to trust anyone. After a few hours of our chat when she asked me about my past life primarily, I struggled for a few minutes with the questions – ‘Will it be wise to tell her? Suppose she breaks my trust?’ But I assured myself to trust her and since that evening, our bonding was created, we started sharing our deepest secrets and became the first person for wise counsels in each other’s life. How beautiful it is to get such a trustworthy friend! The fun part is, I call her lovingly – Sweet Barlight (Tubelight).

The Bible says,

“In her life, after the Lord comes her family.”

I came to the world and immediately occupied her place in my Mom’s bosom. Since then our catfight broke out. Until we left home and moved to Delhi and Kolkata respectively for our professional life, there has hardly been a day when we haven’t fight, pulled legs or complained about each other. Even today, when we meet on vacations, fights are mandatory but honestly, her physical absence is always deeply felt and it has taught me many things with regards to dealing and respecting a woman. Often, I offer my seat to a lady on the crowded bus thinking about my Didi (Elder sister). I feel, if I respect this lady, God will surely listen to my silent prayer and bless my Didi.

Whenever it comes to family, I have always found her sacrificing everything and she always advises me “to put family first in everything that I do”.

Think about the world without such women, how devastating it would be! Yes, it is about these women who bring completeness in our life. We tend to think and categorize women as weak, vulnerable and risk factors in our life whereas it is not the truth!

God created everything yet He didn’t find a perfect companion for man. So, He gave deep sleep to man and took one of his ribs and formed a woman. When God brought her to man, the man said, “Now it is done. This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “WOMAN”, for she is taken out of the man.”

Yes, SHE – the Woman is our need. She is God’s Masterstroke of Creation to bring completeness, beauty and value.

Thank you, God, for HER and thanks to every woman!

MAN CAVE

When I was asked to write on this topic, I had a bit of an idea of what it might mean. But when I resorted to google and started reading the wiki page on this, my reaction to what I was reading changed in the following way –

– Within a few sentences I felt – “C’mon, this is totally bogus. You got to be kidding me that a term like that even exists.”
– After a few paragraphs I felt – “Ok, maybe this makes a bit of sense. It is not as bogus.”
– Towards the end of the article I felt – “Oh God, I too need a man-cave.”

So, now keep reading and figure out what you feel towards this concept of man-cave
By definition, man-cave is a man’s own space. Something that he can call his own where a female presence is not appreciated. The décor of this space and cleanliness (or lack of it) is something that the man is in control of. He doesn’t like or approve of his mother, girlfriend or wife to have any say about how this place should be designed or maintained. It is typically used when a man wants to do his own stuff. It could be something creative or destructive or just time-pass. What he does in that room is also something that a female doesn’t have a say in.

This concept, as I understand, stems from the fact that the woman is the boss of the house. She is the one who decides what colour should be the walls, curtains, couches and everything else that needs to match with this. She is the one who is responsible for the cleanliness of the home; that also makes her the one who is often shouting and screaming and losing her peace of mind when the place is untidy. Yes, we see this happening in almost all the households. This concept arises from the very basic stereotypes defined for a man and a woman.

I am totally for this concept because I feel that there should a place not just for the man but also for the woman to be oneself. A place where there is no pressure of keeping it a certain way, a place where you could do whatever you want to do. I was sharing a flat with 2 girls who are also very close friends before I got married. 2 of us shared the room as well and we hardly ever had any concerns about how either of us wanted to keep the room. The room was always full of stuff toys (mostly pink). And that room had a big thermocol sheet attached to one of the walls where we used to display our earrings. Both of us were extremely fond of collecting all kinds of earrings and loved to put them on a display and every day we would pick and choose which one we wanted to wear. I loved that part of the room.

When I got married, I ended up staying with 2 boys because my brother in law also moved in with us a few weeks after our marriage. Living with 2 boys was so different than living with 2 girls. Within a month, I was missing my female friends so badly but now there was no going back (of course). Sharing the room with my hubby meant no stuff toys and no display of earrings. Living with 2 boys meant too many house parties at the end of which I would only be cleaning up. It also meant that FIFA world cup and IPL matches were the highlights of every year. It further meant that it became my responsibility to handle all the laundry, all the cooking, all the cleaning – in short, I became the woman of the house (which included shouting and screaming and losing my peace of mind over lack of cleanliness).

I wish I knew about this concept then and had a bigger home. I would love to have a room that we both share, but also 2 separate rooms for each one of us to do our own stuff individually. A room of my own which I could decorate in pink stuff toys and my earrings. And similarly, a room where he could play his guitar, play his Xbox or watch “Man vs wild” the whole day.

My family has grown with a kid and because of our son, our in-laws also live with us. So, the place that I could call my own (woman-cave, maybe) became almost non-existent. My husband moved out a year back to a different city for career reasons. It was a difficult decision and distant marriage really sucks. But one advantage of it is that I have a room that I can call my own now (I share it with my son, but he is too small to impact it in a big way) and my husband has a whole house that is only for him. One of the positive things of a long-distance marriage.

So, man-cave is a great concept according to me. I just want a woman-cave as well.