The Maiden Flight….(part-II)

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Sudha opened the door and hugged her little bundle of joy. She was crying inconsolably. “What happened mumma” little Saloni asked innocently, while wiping Sudha’s tears. She looked at the beautiful face of her little girl and held her tightly again in her embrace.

“So do you want to play? Let’s go to the park” proposed Sudha, and Saloni hugged her excitedly. In the park, Saloni got busy in building sand castles and Sudha sat on a bench under a tree. She was staring into the blue open sky and was wondering about the cusp of situation she was into; she could neither leave this world, nor she could enter the next one.  While she was lost in her reverie, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a frail body of a lady, gazing at her.

The lady must have been in her late sixties and gave a genial smile. “I am sorry, I couldn’t recognise you.” said sudha hesitantly.

“But I know you dear. I am Maumita Bagchi. I live in your society, on seventh floor of your building. At this age, I don’t expect myself to be very popular, so it’s ok if you don’t know me” replied old lady in a light-hearted tone.

“Why don’t you sit aunty?” Sudha offered and Mrs. Bagchi made herself comfortable.

“I know everything about your circumstances Sudha, from my maid. You know how the grapevine goes, right?” said Mrs. Bagchi in a low voice.

Sudha just lowered her hands and started to sob.

“I used to have a daughter of around your age. Had she been alive today, then she must have been like you. She was young, smart and full of dreams, but she wasn’t courageous enough. Like you, she also chose to accept the circumstances and made no effort to break free. She tolerated years of domestic violence silently and paid a heavy price for her folly. She paid it with her life” said a teary eyed Mrs. Bagchi.

Sudha raised her head and couldn’t understand why she was sharing dark secrets of her life with her.

“How old are you?” asked Mrs. Bagchi straight-forwardly.

“I will be 30 years old, this October.” replied Sudha.

“ If you are lucky enough to grow up to a ripe age of let’s say 80 years, then you have 50 more years. These years look like huge but actually they aren’t. On an average, 8 hours are spent in sleeping and another  8 hours in household chores every day. That leaves you with 8 hours of life everyday, which is one-third of a day. So, one-third of 50 years is roughly 17 years. So 17 years of life is really left. How do you want to spend it? Sulking? Crying? Or you want to take charge of your life? You need to decide how you want to spend these 17 years.” said Mrs. Bagchi passionately and prepared to stand up staggardly while holding her stick. She gave Sudha a pat on her head and left for her daily walk.

Sudha was immersed deep in thoughts. She was visibly perturbed by Mrs. Bagchi’s words.

Saloni came running and said “Let’s go back home mumma.”

“Let’s go and search for a new home dear” said Sudha decidedly.

Saloni was blank and Sudha was happy by being finally free. She was determined this time to take her maiden flight…..

 

 

 

 

 

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Gender Inequality is Nature’s Plan

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Growing up in the “rape capital of India” can do considerable damage to one’s mindset. After all, at the end of the day, who we are? Just the sum of our life’s experiences. Witnessing extreme brutality against a specific gender can also sow seeds of rebellion, and so was the case with me too, few years back. I agree, that even today I am a feminist but my stance about gender equality has undergone a paradigm shift.

All these years of growing up, gave me an opportunity to view life from different perspectives and also the wisdom to respect nature’s designs. Man and woman are not created equal but they are definitely supposed to complement each other.

Every design of nature points towards creating harmony and simplifying the complexities. Had it not been the case, life would have continued to keep its existence as unicellular form, for ever. What was the need for evolution? Why cells combined to form tissues and so on? Well the answer is – harmony and division of labour. If every cell would have to just make ends meet, then how the consciousness would have evolved to the current level of being a human.

Taking a break from biology and coming back to the topic; nature has created this gender difference for some reasons and these reasons became clearer to me, after I became a mom. It’s true that I have witnessed my share of gender inequality at work-place and at home too, and every time I have used that last ounce of energy left in me to fight it out, yet I say gender inequality is nature’s design. May be inequality is the wrong word here, better would be to call it “gender distinction”. It is ok to question society’s attitude but how can we question nature’s plan?

The chemical make-up of a woman is all different from a man, and science has proved that ultimately, every emotion and thought we experience can have a chemical explanation behind it. The manner in which a woman can handle work and home, I don’t expect any man to come even close to that. Ok, we do have exceptions, then how many such men do we have?

The feminist in me wants to take it even a step further, and would love to talk about female superiority. I am a firm believer of the philosophy of “Sacred Feminism”. History is replete with instances of how the role of female in the society was always downplayed and patriarchy was highlighted. Gender inequality was never part of our culture and on the contrary women were revered in most cultures.

What we believe in, that we become. The rotten aspects of gender inequality are rampant in our society because we have been programmed to believe in this lie of weaker sex. Where does this inequality resides? It resides in the mind of the perpetrator and in the beliefs of the victim. Isn’t it? So I believe, it is more psychological in nature than physical. The women first need to change their beliefs about themselves, then at least half the battle will be won.

The day fifty percent of the population of the Earth will cease to believe in this fake idea of being weak, that day gender inequality will be erased. That day perhaps will be the day, when society will start to respect the essence of gender distinction. That day, woman won’t be inferior but will be an equal partner of man. That is the day of my dreams, when we will cease to fight over inequality and will aim for accommodating this distinction by creating safe work-places, equality in pay, equality in everything, except for equality in our basic roles, which we should never try to swap.

This post is written as part of IndiSpire prompt on #Gender Equality. More posts on the prompt may be found here

 

 

 

 

True Meaning of Creativity

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Creativity is the buzzword these days. There seems to be only two breeds of people nowadays- the creative and the not so creative ones. Who doesn’t want to be the part of this bandwagon, when creativity manufacturing machines are being installed everywhere.  There used to be a time in my life, when I used to derive immense pride on being called creative. Creativity to me was restricted to art and craft, and at best creating something best out of waste. It’s unfortunate that I spent almost 30 years of my life holding on to hollow beliefs about creativity.

Once I landed a chance to attend a workshop on the given subject. I was beaming with excitement while waiting for an opportunity to share a few tips with the group members. Little I knew that by the completion of that session, my beliefs were to be shaken.

The session began with defining the creativity and I was not amused to observe that almost everyone had stuck to the standard explanation. But we all were in for a big shock when our collective understanding was nullified. We all were asked to mull over the end-result of this type of creativity, which we are so much attuned to. We were told to introspect what in the name of creativity we do and what we should actually be doing. Is it justified to spend millions in decoration in the name of creativity? I was asked to think about the fate of my last created craft and I had to admit that it surely was acquiring dust somewhere or must have been lost.

I agree that today world is going crazy after creativity. Are we going wrong somewhere? Shouldn’t creativity be making our lives simpler and better, rather than making it cluttered?  Is it good to promote excessive consumerist tendencies in the name of creativity? Tons of plastic and raw material get wasted, which can be put to better use. “Does it mean that human being should cease to be creative?” a participant inquired.

The answer was simple and logical. “The world is in never-before need of creativity for collective growth of our civilization, but we need to address the subject with a changed perspective” responded the trainer.

So why do we need creativity for?

  • We need creativity to live our lives creatively. When we are down on luck and can’t figure out a way out, then we can resort to find out creative solutions for our problems. Remember, how Stephen Hawking learnt to live life creatively with limitations of his body and made something beautiful out it.
  • True creativity lies in solving society’s issues and not in increasing them.
  • Creativity lies in finding new ways of approaching the same relationship, which has gone stale.
  • It should help one to become a better version of oneself by reducing traits like anger, greed, jealousy, hatred etc. It should augment the overall quality of life.
  • Creativity doesn’t lie in buying new clothes every month, but perhaps in fitting in old ones by losing an inch or two.
  • It should be a win-win proposition for everyone. My win should not be someone else’s loss.

We all left the session lost deep in thought. Sometimes, there comes a time in life when you have to let go off old beliefs, in order to accommodate for the change.  At the same time, we all were very happy for being given so many avenues wherein we could explore our new found creativity, but with a changed perspective.

Stained Footprints of Humanity?

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I can hardly control my surging thoughts, in the wake of recent developments in my beloved city, Delhi. The city of my childhood is witnessing a public health emergency and everyone is busy in passing the buck. Every year control measures are taken only after the fat is in the fire. Let’s accept that Pollution is a grave concern, not only for Delhi but for most of the tier 1 cities in India. Unbelievable? You can check for yourself at aqicn.org

What kind of development are we talking about friends? We are staring at a future where our children will be carrying oxygen cylinders instead of water bottles to schools. A future where pollution masks will be sold like accessories, to be paired up with the colour of your dress. Horrible it sounds. Isn’t it? But the way things are progressing , not only in India but in many parts of the world, this day is not far. Nature selects the fittest of the species for survival and in our case, we are pacing towards self-annihilation. The root cause of everything is our “Greed”. Our spending patterns are no longer governed by our needs but by our greed. Consumerism is the reality of our time and is pushing this planet to its limit. Earlier, there used to be “Summer Sale” and “Winter Sale”, but now “Sale” happens all throughout the year with intermittent periods of breathing time. Things are deliberately made not to last, so that repeat purchase can take place soon. Repair is for misers, Replace is the buzz-word.

Look around your surroundings. Is there a change? Vehicles are piling up. Solid waste lies strewn all over. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic pens, plastic furniture and more plastic everywhere. Any clue, where this ever so convenient plastic is coming from? It comes from petrochemicals, produced from petroleum. Gallons of petroleum are processed in order to prepare that comfy chair on which you are sitting now. Plastic packaging is convenient and cheap, but imagine that how much it will add to our carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (Source: @Wikipedia).

Everyone is well aware of the health consequences of soaring pollution levels. It is not strange that deadly diseases like cancers, heart troubles and respiratory illnesses are on the rise. Hospitals are mushrooming everywhere to cure our problems, whereas mass production of problems is going on. We are treating the symptoms, instead of working on the root cause. Today being diseased, popping in pills is not a big problem but not being able to drive a swanky car is a big problem. Millions dying due to hunger is not a big problem but not being able to dine out with family is a big problem. Actually, modern lifestyle has reduced some of our problems, by giving us multitude of other problems. Problem lies in the fact that we don’t know, where actually the problem lies.

Knowing this all, can we be a little more conscious while making the next super-market visit? Can we consciously choose products which are preferably not packed in plastic jars? Can we encourage our children to buy refills instead of buying use and throw stationary? Can we economize upon our frequent car trips? Can we convince our heart, to not follow the latest fashion trends blindly? Can we assure our spirit of the fact that god has enough for everyone and we needn’t hoard things mindlessly for bad time? The change needs to start from within. No government has ever solved the problem of any country. It’s the people only, who can be the torch-bearers and harbingers of change. Solution is in our hands. If we consume less, then they will produce less. Agreed, it will impede “Development” but at least we will be alive. Moreover, it will push everyone to look for cleaner and sustainable alternatives.

It’s ridiculous when experts say that Earth will become inhabitable in 600 years and it’s time to explore life beyond. I believe, me and my children have only this planet for many years to come. Let’s preserve it together by bringing in small but significant changes to our day-to-day approach.

A Helpless Parent….

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Today is a usual day but with an unusual state of mind. Mornings have always been action-packed for mothers but they were seldom upsetting. Much has been spoken, written and discussed about the series of onslaughts, which have recently been unleashed on the children. The mother in me is really scared this time. I am an ordinary mother, like million others, who fret and worries incessantly about her kid. I vaccinate my kid, if any seasonal epidemic is spreading. I apply ounces of mosquito repellents to ward off mosquito nuisance and ailments it brings. I pick up a nasty argument every morning, with my kid, over the healthy foodstuff I pack in her lunch-box. But today I am scared because I am clueless, as to how to shield my little one from the predators, who are lurking in our society, in benign masks. Predators, who are lurking in human form and will leave no opportunity to tarnish the little souls.

It’s true that goodness still outweighs the evil, but the little evil that exists, is enough to send shock waves through our civilized world. Empathy is the biggest teacher in life. Had I not been a mother, i wouldn’t have felt the grief of the parents, who have recently been bereaved. It takes a lot, to bring a life into this world. It takes even more to raise a life, step by step. It pains my heart, even when I just imagine about magnitude of their loss. A loss, which no matter what we say, we do, is irreparable. Whether it’s a road accident due to carelessness of a bus driver or it’s a massacre of hundreds of children due to lack of oxygen or it is a well thought out murder of a seven year old in a school or it’s a rape of a five year old in the school premises or a teen succumbing to gaming addiction, the damage is lifelong.

The mother in me is not only scared but has also become more suspicious. Suspicious of everyone, who ever ventures near to her child. The friendly chit-chat of the kid with the servant or with the security-guard, never sent me on the verge of a panic attack. Never before had I eyed the school bus-driver with my detective eye. How badly such incidents effect the collective consciousness of parents, can only be understood, when one is blessed with a gift of little life.

No parent should ever be made to go through such a loss and live in such a fear. We will definitely fail as a society, if we will fail to protect our little ones from such perils. If only that bus-driver was more careful, if only that peon was more thoughtful, if only we parents were more careful of our children’s activities, then perhaps many innocent lives would have been saved. The law will take its time to put the offenders behind the bars, but that is not the lasting solution. We, as parents, as policymakers, as teachers, as school administration need to think collectively, what we can do?

But I wanted to fly……

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It was very late. Nilofar had just returned from her friend’s place. Once again the home was full of giggles and laughter. The once so morose Duffy had sprung to life and was incessantly wagging its tail. Shahal, finally gave his newspaper a break and came out hurriedly to receive his share of sunshine. Fatima, who was till then monotonously rolling the chapattis in the kitchen, came out of her reverie and rushed through her daily kitchen routine. So much she wanted to share, as much she wanted to listen, for Nilofar was quite a babbler. That day was also no exception and so were many days, that were to follow. The child had the exuberance of the world, strong will to conquer the odds and a unique ability to speak her mind. Little did she know, that she were to find her nemesis, in those innocuous attributes of hers.

She had barely entered her teens and was desperate to come out her cocooned existence.  A cocoon which every parent creates diligently for his/her kids, in the hope that one day , the child will take his much cherished flight of freedom and soar high into the endless sky. Her grit, spirit and determination had never been a secret from anyone. It was to be seen that how high would she fly.

One day, a bunch of self-proclaimed well-wishers seeded a doubt in her mind. Daily she was fed the thought that how fragile her wings were compared to theirs and her flight of freedom shall always remain a flight of fantasy. So hurt was the girl, that she internalised the idea to the extent that when she finally tried to fly, she stumbled miserably. A single jibe, shattered  all her dreams, hopes and moreover, shook her confidence. A possibility had been wiped out, which had the potential to blossom and touch the countless struggling lives, with its magic.

Sounds familiar? Do you know or remember any Nilofar from your life? I spot countless Nilofars in my surroundings, in my classrooms and everywhere. Perhaps, you have guessed it right. I am talking about bullying, which is often pushed under the carpet or is given little importance in our society. The shortest  guy in the society is everyone’s  “chhotu”. The overweight girl in the class is casually called “moti”. The darkest child in the family is “kaalu”. The person with oriental features is plainly “chinki”. The seemingly light hearted banter is done for fun, but it’s not for the faint hearted. Only few braves can see through the day and rest all internalise the tagline for their lifetime. For a child, on whom this all is inflicted, this is not fun. Everytime a child tries to soar high, the very next moment his spirit is weighed down by the burden of these sneers. The child first denies it, then tries to rationalize it, accepts it and finally lives with it. Can you imagine the roller-coaster of emotions that the child is put through at such a tender age?

Many developed nations have stringent laws to prohibit and control bullying, but unfortunately in our country it’s taken as a part of growing up. Over the years, the damage that has been caused to generations, is difficult to evaluate and account for. As parents and guardians, we strive to raise healthy children, but the emotional health is often ignored. Do you think this is funny? Do you want this to happen to your child? Do we want to live with this feeling of making someone’s life less lived? Let’s save our children from bullying. I am determined to save my child and my students from bullying. Are you?

Why Mediocrity Reigns Supreme?

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It’s been almost a year long sabbatical since i wrote last but it’s really difficult to take off the wandering thoughts out of one’s mind , especially about matters which you feel passionately about.

A trivial discussion today, led me to a pertinent question which otherwise must have been on my mind but was somehow obscure. Coming straightaway to the point, the question boggling my mind is that despite humans’ endeavour to achieve superior results, why majority of us end up accepting mediocrity? What breeds this mediocrity? Nobody aspires to be a mediocre then why this cognitive dissonance. Why the zeal to conquer the world transforms into, just making ends meet? What kills the spark and strangulates the dreams? What reduces us from an individual to a mere figure, on the ever growing population charts? What is the difference between us and some of the great mortals, who had once traversed the same physical realm as us? The questions are endless but my limited understanding has led me to some conclusions.

I think the foremost enemy of excellence is self-doubt. The day we give in to our self-doubt , that day itself half  the battle is lost. Positivity breeds positivity and law of attraction (Gravitation) holds true in this sphere too. The framework of the society is such that it benefits from our self-doubt and propagates it, reinforces it. Tendency to find solutions outside, is a sure shot recipe for a disaster.

Secondly, being surrounded by mediocrity, we tend to project it on our self image and accept it as our reality. This further drives the point that it is better to be alone than to be surrounded by a bunch of idiots who are themselves full of self-doubt and spread mediocrity like an infectious ailment.

In our society, dreamers are often scoffed at but i would say that dreaming is the pre-requisite in order to actually achieve superior goals. It’s better to stay away from people who prohibit you from dreaming big.

Another factor for spreading mediocrity is conformity or a desire to fit. How one can think of breaking the glass ceiling by being trapped in that glasshouse, himself/herself? The world desparately needs more rebels, who can challenge the status quo. Rebels are always discouraged in present but are definitely remembered in history. Even the law of nature promotes diversity. If everyone would just aspire “To Fit” in the prevailing environment then what would be the consequences in the event of a sudden environment change? We need rebels to infuse diversity and break out of patterned thinking mold.

Fear is yet another important factor which shapes our behaviour. A mind full of fear will not even be half receptive to the external stimuli which life throws at us daily. The fear of losing out, the fear of lagging behind sometimes makes us compromise with our dreams. No person is born with fear in mind but it is developed as a response to the immediate surroundings. Many dreams are shattered midway as they are overcome by fear. Fear has the tendency to shift the mind from “what can we do today” to “what will happen tomorrow”. It triggers worry and worry is the biggest tormentor of today’s time.

Lucky are those people who never fall for above mentioned traps or who are surrounded by guarding angels who nurture their dreams, allay their fears, celebrate their eccentricities and wipe out their self-doubt. We, being parents, teachers, colleagues, friends can become the guarding angel of someone’s life. The more positivity we spread, better would be the collective gains of the society.

Karma and Holi-ness

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Festive times have arrived again and are all set to cloak everything with their magic of joy, happiness and goodness. A decade back, perhaps festivities meant buying only a couple of brand new clothes and a chance to fulfill countless gastronomic fantasies at one go. With time, the essence of festivals settles in and one can see them in different light.

Festivals mean, awakening the goodness within and spread it to one and all. As debilitating summer passes on the baton to monsoon, it begins to cleanse off everything of its mirth. Festivals are perhaps human way of cleansing our emotions and thoughts. A way to cleanse off the evil and ill will we acquire with the passage of time.

Goodness comes from seeking it within and seeking it for others. Isn’t it? Can one be the source of it by outsourcing one’s grief to others? Is there a way to pass on one’s karmic burden upon others? Then why all of a sudden, the roads, major intersections and riversides are teeming with broken coconuts, lemons, pumpkins, vermilion and what not.

At this time of the year, isn’t this act of wishing bad for someone, not related to us remotely, a despicable act? Is it so so easy to come to terms with our wrong deeds and strike the balance by merely squeezing a lemon or putting a coconut on an intersection? For how long one can keep the demons of one’s past shut and prevent them from exorcising the present? To me, it appears like a public display of hatred scattered here and there. A grim reminder against the charade of goodness we have become accustomed to wear. Why our fortune can come, only with misfortune of others? Juxtaposing this scenario with larger scheme of things, ain’t this the way things are panning out globally?Like the glory of my religion can only be achieved by demeaning yours. The supremacy of a man, comes from subjugating a woman. The satisfaction of driving a Lamborghini comes, only when my neighbor drives a Nano.

Why goodness can’t be an absolute entity with nothing to compare it with; nothing superior to it and nothing inferior. The truth is, that our goal of seeking extreme goodness is becoming our sickness, because it is difficult to attain it, sense it with our limited senses and comprehend it, without comparing or bench-marking it. The moment we fall into this trap, we are bound to embrace its fallacy, for human mind has this inherent duality.

Can’t we just accept the status quo for once and wait and watch. The river of life is bound to chart its own trajectory and any attempt to change its path is an imbecile act of futility. I know it’s easier said than done. As far as i am concerned, i am also just a mortal with my share of flaws who is trying not to be too good:)