Friday, February 24, 2012

Tiny Specks Playing their roles!

How exactly does one define Nature? Is it only all the scenery and the flora and fauna that surrounds us? What about us, the bearers of the sixth sense - Who have inhabited this planet for ages and causing havoc to it on one side and trying to restore and conserve it on the other?

On seeing the contest about ‘real, authentic and natural experiences’, I started pondering about it and attempted to trace back along the lines of memory in search of events that would fit this description. What first came to my mind follows......

‘Oh! that huge kidney shaped thing there! Is that the baby?’ I had asked my doctor during my first visit to confirm my pregnancy.

I had done a self- test the previous night and the result had been positive. A visit to the gynecologist followed for confirmation. He immediately set about taking an ultrasound scan when I asked this question.

‘No, Not that. That’s your uterus. Do you see the small dot inside of that kidney? That’s your baby. Congrats’ the doctor replied calmly. Close to sixty years of age, he had seen hundreds of entries into the world and all sorts of reactions from first time mothers – Composed, Excited, Scared, Exuberant, and Nonchalant etc.

My husband was super-excited. And I? I was feeling blank! Absolutely Blank! I did not feel anything. Things were just happening and happening too fast. Yes, we had decided together that it was time for us to start a family and it was a very well planned pregnancy. Yet! What I was experiencing was only a strange blankness devoid of any deep feeling!

For one, it took some time for the news to sink in – Yes, I was pregnant and I was carrying our progeny inside of me though it was only a dot at that point in time.

All along, whenever I day-dreamt about having a baby I used to get reminded of the scenes in movies where married women learn that they are pregnant and are filled with elation and exuberance; They are engulfed in a feeling of motherhood; They keep touching their bellies and talking to their unborn child; knitting socks with lot of love etc

Well, in reality I was confused. ‘What a huge responsibility! Am I really capable enough to raise a child?’ I kept asking myself. And what kept surprising and to a great extent annoying and irritating me was the lack of any jubilant feelings inside of me that I had always envisioned. ‘What kind of a mother am I?’ I thought.

The super-excitement of all around me - parents, in-laws, friends added to my bewilderment.

Anyways, dutifully I started doing things which anyone pregnant is supposed to do. My moving around became extremely cautious. I was careful about my food restricting all unhealthy intakes and concentrating on the nutritional values in my diet. I meticulously followed all the medication prescribed and strictly avoided all foods that my grandmother asked me to.
One of my neighbors said that if you read good philosophical books during pregnancy the child will end up very intelligent and smart. Well, What do I love reading? Murder Mysteries. Ok ! Considering the good of the life inside of me I forced myself to read some of the books she lent me. Though it required a herculean effort to do so!!

My body did not show any signs during my first trimester. I had absolutely no nausea, no morning sickness and no cravings. It was just like my pre-pregnancy times. At times I had to remind myself ‘Hey! Don’t forget! You ARE PREGNANT’.

Days passed like this. My baby bump started showing and slowly gained size. I always looked forward to the visits to the gynecologist with a lot of zeal and excitement – To see the developments in the ultrasound scan – To find out what’s new this time. More curious about the way things were progressing.

Otherwise life was just like before – Work during weekdays and lazy weekends.

One evening I was lying down on the bed facing the ceiling.

It was a Friday evening. ‘Dhasavatharam’ movie songs were the latest in tinsel world and the song Muguntha Muguntha I had heard in the morning refused to get out of my brain.

With my eyes close I started singing softly ‘Muguntha Muguntha Krishna Muguntha Muguntha’ and ‘Thud’ I felt something. ‘Now what was that? ‘I wondered.

‘Krishna Muguntha Muguntha’ I tried to continue .

‘Thud,Thud,Thud’ again! With much greater force.

And then again! And Again!

Then the fact of what was happening slowly dawned on me.

It was my offspring, kicking me inside my womb. He was real and he was inside of me, exerting as much force as he could muster, proving his presence to me and maybe trying to tell me ‘I like the way you sound ma’. There he was, curled up safe and sound inside of me and trying to communicate with me.

A strange feeling suddenly swept all over me- A very beautiful feeling- Happiness and peace laced with something additional that I could not define.

‘Maybe this is what is called Motherhood’ I wondered.

We were two tiny specks in this vast expanse of the universe one inside of the other playing our roles in nature’s rules of evolution and expansion.

A smile came on my lips; the same one I had envisioned long back in my day dreams .

I touched my belly with affection and started speaking to my unborn child.

This is my submission to the Indi Blogger - Kissan 100% Real Blogger Contest

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feeling Angry - Write It Out

What do you do when you get really angry? When you are totally frustrated and almost shivering with rage inside?

All of us experience this at some point or the other in our lives.

Its one of the things that have a green-chilli effect on life….On its own it’s disastrous but mixed up with the other spices in the right proportions it makes life more tastier or can we say enjoyable?

There are some places where you cant do much about the source of your anger…Say if the reason is your boss and his volatile outbursts what can you do about it?...Of course, when it goes beyond your tolerance limits you ought to do something like switching jobs or speaking out your mind to him so that he sees your side of things…. And there are instances when you can actually avoid it but you rarely attempt to do so…If its an argument with your spouse or irritation with misbehavior from the kids, how many of us try to keep our composure?

Being very tolerant and unaffected is also not always helpful. There is a thin line between being patient and being exploited.

You are repeatedly taunted about something upto a point where you are just being used as a source of entertainment its time to straighten your back, look at people in the eye and ask them to mind their own business.

There is a saying in Tamil ‘Saadhu mirandaal naadu thaangathu’ which roughly translates to ‘The land would not be able to tolerate when a timid person gets wild’. True – If a person suppresses all his anger inside of him without any vent the internal pressure rises so much that any outburst would be extremely dangerous – something advocated by stress management tutorials.

As I write this I get reminded of a scene from the Tamil movie Punnagai Mannan. A lady (enacted by late actress Srividya) would come across her gentleman friend(KamalHassan) hanging upside down from a tree and a boy smiling nearby. On inquiring her friend would come down and immediately the boy would break into an outburst of tears. The gentleman would say ‘He keeps crying if I get down ‘ and go upside down again. The lady would remark, ’Shall I show you how to stop him?’ and she would give the kid one sharp slap and the kid would stop immediately.

I am definitely not quoting this example to advocate beating or hitting to control kids. Just a figurative example.

One of the things I do when I get extremely angry is take out my journal and pour out all that I feel in writing. On and on …I would keep writing what all comes to my mind…exactly the way they come…in some occasions swear…sometimes curse…sometimes just fling a whole lot of questions…

Gradually my handwriting would transform from furious scribbling to my usual calm neater writing and I start feeling better.

Its like talking to a friend. Just that in this case the friend happens to be a sheet of paper who wont talk back or advise. You can be one hundred percent honest about what you write as its just a vent for your feelings.

If its something you don’t want to keep, for fear of others coming across it later you could just do on a paper and shred it once your anger ebbs away.

It is definitely very effective especially in cases when you cant do much about what caused your anger - like a dispute in the family.

I usually feel kind of exhausted but peaceful after this whole exercise and I start thinking about the whole situation in a calm and composed manner without letting the anger take control.

I have read somewhere ‘Anger is good if you are in control and bad if it controls you’

That’s one way I have found to keep mine under control :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Arranged Marriages - An introspection

“Ohh! SO how do you know if you two get along with each other or not? And you don’t actually date?” my colleague quipped during our conversation at lunch.

We were a group comprising of different nationalities from the SE Asian region and I was the only Indian.

One of my other colleagues had just mentioned that in his community after a guy proposes to a girl, it was customary that the parents on both sides meet and mutually agree to the proposal before the wedding.

“Well in India usually, it’s the parents that do the proposal, meet and decide first and then the girl and guy meet and then we just get married. The guy usually does not propose to the girl on his own. If the pair meets and likes one another first then they enter into a mode of convincing their parents” I added.

This statement had triggered that reaction on my first line.

This also set off a parallel string of memory in my head. During my deputation in the States one of my Taiwanese acquaintances at work once mentioned “ You know that guy Rajesh? He said that he met the girl for ten minutes and then the wedding was fixed. How can you decide in ten minutes! “And when I was about to head back home to India she warned “Don’t go back or your mommy will marry you off to someone you get to meet for ten minutes “

Arranged Marriages – Something that has been happening for centuries in India and just blends into the modernity of today ; You have websites for finding grooms and brides and quite often the pair meets on a webcam through Skype or Yahoo Messenger. Horoscope Scanning is computerized and emails are used as the initial communication mode.

One thing about them is that it’s a great boon to those who are not very good or successful at finding a partner for themselves. Society takes care and ensures that two such souls meet and enter into a life-long bond. It may sound unacceptable but lets face it – Some definitely need help.

The best thing in my view is that both the groom and the bride enter into the relationship with an open mind and a readiness to face reality. You know that there would be things about the other person that you are absolutely okay with and there would be things you which are way different from your personality with which you would have to put up with or to put it nicely “ADJUST”.

Lets not get into extreme cases gone haywire here. Those happen everywhere.

I am referring to the usual doing-not-so-bad examples.

To begin with, there is usually no – ‘You were not like this when we were dating and courting!’ From day one its ‘This is what I am’.

Of course there would be expectations – That’s only human. You enter the wedding with the mental readiness to give and take and with absolutely no expectations of perfection.
That goes a long way in making marriages work.

In India you don’t just get married to each other but into each other’s families – New relationships, new responsibilities. Yes there are pluses and minuses to it - On the plus side the family usually acts as a strong wall in securing the marriage and ensures that the couple does not jump into hasty decisions when problems arise.

I once read an article in a Tamil magazine about a Eurpoean tourist who had seen a girl from a slum area in Mahabalipuram and married her as he liked her. In an interview he had mentioned – “Parents here put in so much effort in the marital arrangements of their children. I think that’s a reason for the success of marriages here. Whenever there are small problems, the thought of their parents pushes them through it and helps in building a lasting bond.”

There is also a thrill and suspense factor in arranged marriages. Its like your first roller coaster ride- You are extremely thrilled and excited but deep down there is a fear of how it might turn out. At the end of it you usually end up enjoying yourselves and having fun.

Its also like one of the goody bags at a lucky dip. You pick one without any knowledge of the contents. Its definitely something nice but you have no idea of whats in store for you.

I recently met an aged couple at one function. Both above eighty, they would have got married in pre-independence times and definitely at a very tender age as was the custom in those days – Times when they would have actually seen each others faces after their marriage. As they slowly walked supporting one another’s frail bodies I could not help but wonder how many things they would have seen together – a whole lifetime. I did not need any proof of the bond between them. The glow in their eyes spoke a million words. They had attained that stage where they could read each others minds without a word uttered.

Falling in love and getting married is Beautiful….Getting Married and Gradually Falling in Love is also beautiful right?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Convict's Mother

My poem 'A Convict's Mother' written more than a year ago

I never realized
When the innocent smile
Turned into an evil snicker and guffaw

I never realized
When the twinkling eyes
Became red and bloodthirsty

I never realized
When the toys in his hands
Were replaced with guns

I never realized
When the smell of liquor
Took the place of baby lotion

I never realized
When the sweet innocence
Was replaced with hatred and vice

I never realized
When playful mischief
Turned into acts of crime

I failed as a mother my son
I cannot bear
Even a tiny cut or bruise on you
Can they hang me instead?”

The mother wept.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Georgie Porgie

Yesterday we had gone to V's kindergarten for a chat with his teacher. A general parent-teacher discussion to share views and work together towards nurturing the child.
She was a very nice , polite and friendly person and she kept reassuring us that she just wanted to know him better.

Being a Dec born my little brat is the youngest in the class of Jan to Dec born 3 to 4 year olds - Still a toddler in many aspects.She had a little pocketnotebook in which she had noted down her observations about him which she kept referring to. What started as a quite a serious discussion became really funny towards the end as she shared her experiences with him.

Its very tough for my kiddo to stay still in a place. My little Einstein is very inquisitive and needs to know the details of everything happening around him. One of the meanings of his name is lightning and true to it , he would suddenly make a dash for things - Just like that- In a flash. He would be sitting still but suddenly he would run from one place to another.

This characteristic had had the teachers on their toes in the first month of school. Keeping the doors closed, taking turns to sit next to him and keeping him seated - They had been trying different methods they knew.What had taken her by surprise was that despite this he was very observant and grasped whatever was being taught. She had found him glancing through the pages of a read-aloud story and reciting it exactly the same way she had done the previous day.

V loves being in the company of children - so much that sometimes he gets over-excited and rushes towards them in an attempt to give them a tight hug, as a display of affection. This often results in a dash or push rather than a hug. The affection display was apparently sometimes during the toilet break when he suddenly hugs the kids from behind when they are busy attending to the call of nature .One of the victims of this hugging act had looked at her and exclaimed 'No more urine teacher.'The shock had been too much for him. :)

The children are taught to say a prayer along with the teacher before their meal .Athat time he would be busy meddling with his bag . Then when everyone is half way into their meal they will hear this tiny voice saying grace on its own 'Thank You God For the food we eat'. This would be my V. 'No one ever asked him to do that. It was so cute you know!' the teacher exclaimed.

The best part came next. This statement would have alarmed me if my son had been much older. But for a toddler it was very funny. 'He sometimes loves to kiss the other children. Yes its nice to have a gentle peck but he goes for this tight hug and a tight kiss'. She was also laughing as she said this. I caught a glance in her pocketbook and the note a couple of days back read 'Kissed Archana'. 'These kids get a little shocked and end up crying and sometimes I have a whole bunch shouting -Teacher, Vidyut kissing' she remarked.

So my son had been a 'Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie who kissed the girls and made them cry'. The teacher had told him 'You should not kiss like that. If you want to kiss, you can kiss Mrs.Chin now' . Mrs Chin was the Chinese teacher there.

A few days later he had tried hug and kiss another kids and the teacher had looked at him disapprovingly. My little one promptly responded ' Ok...Kiss Mrs Chin? ' - Fine you want me to kiss only her, so where is she?

The teacher told us that she had seen tremendous improvement in him and seeing other children he was slowly beginning to understand the dos and donts in the kindergarten.

End of it we were happy that the teacher was on a similar wavelength with us regarding children and that her judgement of V was in line with ours. An intelligent, inquisitive, very active and above all CUTE kiddo who loved all around him and loved expressing it as well .