Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yowoto: The New ABC Of Parenting: B For Beauty

Dear daughter,

You are beautiful, my daughter. You are my gift from god. You are my lesson to learn.

We have family, friends, relatives and random people coming in and going out of our lives. All of these people and more besides constantly walk up to us, saying, “Oh! Your daughter is so pretty.” Even better, they go to you and say, “Oh, you are so cute! Such a beautiful child.”

Read the complete letter here.

Parentous: Goddess Of Small Things (August 2nd)

So, I think. I always think. What lessons am I imparting to my daughter? Motherhood has been a great teacher. I have been unlearning some old lessons and learning a few new. I have found answers to some old questions, while I seem to have discovered a new queries.

Read the complete article here.

Parentous: We've arrived. Have we? (July 11th)

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may house their bodies, but not souls.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

– Khalil Gibran

Read the complete article here.

Parentous: I Hate The Monster, But I Love My Child More (July 21st)

It’s always been there. Some speak about it. Some do not. Most often, we do not. It gives us that unsettling feeling. A feeling of oh-i-wish-i-did-not-have-to-talk-about-it.

We’ve skirted it way beyond we should have. We have saved our society from the blames it deserves. We kept thinking this will never come back to haunt us. But its ugly face appears every now and then. The monster is here to stay. With its long hands that enter people’s lives. And scars it for a moment. For a while. Sometimes, I hate to accept this, but for a lifetime.

Read the complete article here.

Yowoto: A Letter To The Bangalore Child Rapist

Mr Rapist,

Oh! You don’t like being addressed like that? Too bad. That’s all that you will be known as from now on. This is your identity for eternity. This is what will define you and your life. No matter how cool your actual name might sound, or how much effort your parents may have taken for finding the perfect name for you, from this moment on, none of it will matter. You will always be known as an abuser/rapist/molester. Fancy names, no?

Read the complete letter here.

Yowoto: The New ABC Of Parenting: A for Apology (July 10th)

Dear daughter,

‘Sorry’ is a beautiful word. Every time I hear you say that word, you grow in my eyes. Every time anyone says that word with sincerity, that person grows, a tad bit, in my eyes.

Read the complete letter here.

The Alternative: My first post

There are days, when I fail to respect and follow anything that I have taught her. There are days when someone we know closely behaves unusually. And then she asks me, “Amma, why did you/s/he do that? That is bad.” I know, I say. And I apologise. And I have tears in my eyes having realised that I did not or could not control an emotion of mine, which led to this action.

Read the complete write up here.

Dead air

It's been a while since I've dropped by my blog. I know. It's nothing to take pride in. But in the meanwhile, I've been writing. Let me now link the write ups here, from my blog.

Have a good day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

My best friend. She.

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject project http://www.iamsubject.com/the-iamsubject-project/. Here is my #iamsubject story.

My parents chose to call me Rashmi. I am an Indian. Born and brought up in the Middle East.

I lived a normal life. I saw my father and mother struggle to bring up their daughters. As I grew up, I was in love with words. I felt a strong sense of power in words, which I could never identify in any other element of life. I had a zillion questions in my head and heart, as I grew. I grew up to believe that I could steer my life the way I wished to and nothing else had the power to do so.

Until about I turned 26, life was struggle. And I think today, it was a struggle that I created for myself.

I loved people. I loved having more than enough of them in my life too. But not many of them, I felt, connected with me. As a teenager, I was a rebel. I always thought no one understood me. I always had the need to fight it out with everyone. I knew I was not wrong. And I was seldom ready to let go. When people loved me immensely, I felt something against them. When they disliked or hated me, I wanted to get through to them.

My parents are very religious. And they rightly attempted to pass on the faith and feelings to their daughters. I think I followed their faith until I lived with them. But I felt uncomfortable. I felt like being pushed to God. I felt comfortable with God, but not with being pushed and punished to grow close to God. Probably that was one area in which I did not rebel much, though I am sure, my parents felt the disconnect.

I grew up and every day was a little struggle within myself. I made friends, more friends and some more than just friends. As I grew, so did my need to make and keep friends. I found happiness in my friends. I found bliss in the moments I spent with my loved ones. I gave them the power to lush and crush me. Unknowingly. I gave them the option to teach or breach me. Unknowingly.

There came a time in my life, where I looked into the mirror and I could not recognize myself. My life was so crowded with people and their love. It is supposed to be good, right? Yes, it was. But it had one major flaw. A flaw that I refused to recognize until I began to feel lonely. Even with so many people around, I could not be at peace. I could not create my own happiness, as I had handed over the plug to switch on and off my happiness to others.

I saw that I had lots of people around me. People who tried to make me laugh and feel happy, yet I was not. My friends did their best to make me smile and stop my tears. But I continued to cry like a leaking faucet. I was such a mess. All that I was capable of was to crumble and fall on the ground like a piece of cloth. And, oh yes, cry. I was like a bunch of clothes that needed laundry, but refused to go for it. I so disliked myself like that. But I could do nothing about it.

I kept crying. Kept looking for an answer. Until one fine day, I found it. No, I mean, I recognized it. I realized I will continue crying if I chose not to stop. I realized that I had to be happy, if I wished to. It struck me that I cannot be wailing and bowling, if I wanted to move forward. I cannot be living in my past, if I wanted to move ahead into my future. I cannot cling to bad memories, if I wished to stay away from it.

And then I took that one step to help myself. One step led to another. And soon, I’d come a long way.

I learnt that happiness is what we create. Happiness isn’t a destination, but the journey itself. Peace isn’t something we can find somewhere. It is something we create within ourselves and treasure.

I met a new person around this time. She slowly became a friend. She was very different from me then. She was a confident and happy soul. She was someone who believed in being happy and spreading it. Her smile is infectious, people told. She was accepting and forgiving. She accepted and forgave with grace. She did not question the happenings in her life and run after the answers. She simply did her best and left the rest to God.

I am unable to pin point how we became the best of friends and how we are one soul now. All I need today is her. Her happiness and peace. And my life will be beautiful. Her happiness ensures people in my world are happy too. Her peace ensures, I’d go to any extend to make my loved ones feel at peace. She’s the one person I’d missed befriending all along, although I saw her every single day. She, I met her in my mirror reflection.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Building faith

It’s been a whole month of stories, awareness and healing. The month of April is when a bunch of ladies get together to look at a social monster in the eye. This monster is called Child sexual Abuse (CSA). We do our best to help others talk, think and act towards paralyzing this monster. It’s a very heavy month. Heavy with emotions, stories, tears and survivors. Most of all, heavy with fear.

As a mother, today I wonder. What will I do starting tomorrow? Another month, another day.  After an entire month of awareness campaign and talking what is right and what is not, what now? How am I going to help my daughter from the clutches of this monster. I hate to admit that the clutches are capable of reaching her too.

So, we talked a lot about teaching children to use the golden word ‘no’.  We talked about enabling them to be able to:
  • recognise safe touch from the unsafe one.
  • respect and love their body.
  • have the courage to stay away from uncomfortable situations.
  • in control of their body.
  • respect people for their actions and not because they are older.
  • make and follow their own safety rules.
  • respect others’ safety rules.
 Now, I think of a simple household scenario. A mother gives her child milk to drink. The child returns  complaining it is too hot. What does she do? Say, ‘Oh, it isn’t. I know. So, drink it.’?

This is the most common answer. How about thinking for a moment that maybe our ‘not so hot’ is indeed ‘hot’ to that individual? Let us try and understand that our child is a different individual and is not a part of our individualism. Or maybe, the milk isn’t really hot at all. But any way, let us maybe for a change say, ‘Oh yes, it is. Let me do something about it.’ Maybe go into the kitchen and do something/nothing about it and just bring back the milk. How do you think this will help him/her? It helps to build a trust factor. For our son/daughter to know, mamma knows that I know.

When my daughter says, ‘Amma, tummy full’, while I feed her. I simply stop. Who am I to say ‘No, your tummy is not full’? Maybe she is right, maybe she isn’t. But I do know, if she is hungry, she will come back for food/snack. So, I need not be worried. No child stays hungry for any reason.

Similarly, the other day – my daughter had rashes in her inner thigh. And she was crying. I was consoling her and while I told her, let me see and apply ointment, she said no (hiccups of teaching children to say ‘no’ J). What did I do? I stepped away. Did not touch her. I told her, if I need to help you, let me see and touch the rashes. But if you do not want me to, I will not. By the way, it isn’t very easy to say that. But I did. I better practice what I preach. In another 10-15 minutes, she came to me saying ‘Amma, you look and put medicine for me’.

Such instances help me build faith. Helps me trust her more. And hopefully, in the process – she knows her Amma trusts her words and that she knows her body best and have the right over it.

This isn’t  very easy. To say no cousins/relatives, when my daughter does not like being carried by them. But I do it anyway.

As I bring up my four-year-old, I am growing. As I teach her to say no, am learning the lesson too. As I teach her to respect her body, I am learning to respect mine. We are growing up together.
I also want her to know that shame and respect does not live in her body. And that they are the demons within ourselves. We need to look at them in the eye and deal with them, before we face the monster outside. I want my daughter to know no part of her body is good or bad. I want her to love her body because she was born with it. It is a gift. And not have pride in it. She did not do anything towards gaining it. Let her pride reside within her thoughts and actions. So be her shame.
This isn’t an easy one, for I need to get the basics right myself. But this is a journey am embarking on from this moment. A journey to meet my demons and deal with them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nice to meet you, Veera.

I met Veera a few days ago. I took out time from my wife-mother-employee role and went to meet her one evening at 9.30pm. I had no clue what she was like or where she was going. I had no clue she would take me on a journey with her. I had no clue I’d meet the Veera in me.

Coming from Imtiaz Ali, the hype was all around the journey. Quite literally. But this wasn’t an all-India tour. Just like that. This was more. While Veera and Mahabir travelled across the country, they travelled through time as well. Into their past. They travelled within themselves. They met their selves at some point. I think Mahabir had already been there. In his past and he dwells there. But when Veera met herself, she was nine. And then she couldn’t return.

Stockholm syndrome, they say is the centre idea of the movie. The streak that defines Veera’s character. So not! In our country, it’s so not. The centre idea should be the root of the syndrome. How did Veera find happiness in captivity? Why did Veera  run back into hostage when she was given the freedom to choose? Why did Veera trust a stranger? Why did she save herself from being sent home?

A child is to find happiness and comfort within his or her home. A child is safe within the four walls they call home. In today’s world, we forget that is so untrue. In today’s world, we tend to have no time or inclination to listen to subtle messages. This story deals with a subject that needs discussion and confrontation and sensitisation. Child Sexual Abuse.

Veera preferred strangers to living in a society where her abusers still roamed about happily. Veera preferred vast dry lands filled to her luxurious home. Veera preferred the show-peaked mountains and a make-do house there with Mahabir, to her wealthy New-York based married life that is awaiting her. She had no intentions to marry Mahabir. She simply loved him. She simply loved the moments, mountains and movements. Yes, her ability to move in freedom.

Mahabir, her kidnapper has his own story to deal with. And such truth he’s done it with. Being the snappy, smile-less man. His one smile towards the end of the movie brought tears to my eyes. On the other hand Veera always found happiness in all. When she says in the end…I am a stupid and will remain so, but I do not want to be like one of you – to her people, my respect for her was immense.

This movie was a visual treat and a very soul-fulfilling one for me. When I walked out of the theatre, I knew I’d met the Veera in me too. With more courage and will to live on my own terms coz the world won’t understand any way!