He

His arms carried me as a baby

His arms bore the weight of my education

His heart celebrated my every success

His heart cried at my loss

His legs walked for miles for me to stand straight

His legs stopped for me to catch up

His eyes saw the now and fretted tomorrow

His eyes dreamt of my tomorrow

His words cautioned me of the world

His words strung a thousand stories for me

He is

My hero.

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Buddies

This is one of my favourite stories. I was standing at the intersection of Gandhari Amman Kovil Rd and MG Road in Trivandrum. A tall girl stood there with her father. We had just attended a training class together. She wore a brown striped salwar, handbag on her shoulder and books in her hand. Her grizzly hair was tied back and she looked at me with suspicion. Her father asked me if I was looking for a roommate. I said yes. He suggested we look for a place to stay, together. I looked at her and thought, why not? I had no idea who this girl was.

Either the same day or the next, another girl from the training class asked us, if she could join us. She was a short, round faced girl. She wore a salwar with a dupatta neatly folded on one shoulder. She wore glasses and pretty much looked like a mirror image of me. She had the widest smile on her face and spoke faster than either of us.

We said yes. Again, we didn’t know her, except her name.

We found an agent, a short, stout guy who rode a TVS moped of the early 2000. I don’t remember how we found him. He wore a hat, probably to hide his baldness and glasses which he kept pushing up on his nose. He spoke like he was going to take us to the moon. We tagged along with him to find accomodation in the then unknown city of Trivandrum. The tall girl I met had an Ericsson mobile that looked like a modern day big remote. This mobile was to become our communication channel with our parents in the near future, for which she even charged us a fee. So coming back to the stout man with the hat, we set up appointments with him after the training session for the day, and hopped into an autorickshaw to see the place he had found for us. The short girl knew the in and out of Trivandrum, so it was relatively easier than I thought.

During these trips, we learnt a little more about each other. The tall girl had graduated from MES College Kuttipuram and the short one from Jain Engineering College in Chennai. We made many trips with the stout guy with the hat, to various nooks and corners of Trivandrum until one day, he took us to Pattoor. This was the first floor of a beautiful house which the owner was willing to rent. A one bedroom accomodation with a kitchen and bath. It was a luxurious setting. There was a PCO booth nearby to make STD (Standard Trunk Dialling, in case you thought something else) calls. The landlady was nice and liked us instantly. We paid the stout guy with the hat his commission and sent him away. The next day we moved our belongings to the Pattoor house and embarked on a beautiful journey of friendship, laughter and a million memories.

It has been eighteen years since we moved in together – three girls who didn’t even know the other existed till then, one from Bangalore, one from Kozhikode and one from Chennai. I cannot help but think, that this is destiny. Our paths were meant to cross and our lives meant to mingle with each other. We grew from naive (this is the short girl’s favourite word) twenty two year old young girls’ to mothers of children ranging from five to fourteen. It feels like a lifetime, and yet like yesterday when we were huddled in the autorickshaw following the stout guy with the hat, on his TVS, to the nooks and corners of Trivandrum.

May our conversations never be silent!! Love you girls, always and forever!!

xoxoxo

 

Whose fault is it?

Twenty second school shooting in twenty weeks of two thousand eighteen… Casualties, injured, children, teachers, law enforcement officers… I have children in high school and middle school and I am terrified like many other parents. It’s like living under a threat all the time and I feel helpless. I pray that no parent has to get that call with news of potential danger to their child. As parents we hold dreams and hopes for our children; for the baby we brought into this world. The thought of their future takes a permanent place in our minds, the day they are born. And today I feel so bad for the parents who had to forgo of their dreams and hopes. My heart cried when I heard a mother telling her daughter “run, baby and I will come get you”… What a devastating moment..!

Whose fault is it?

Is it the child? The teenager who reaches that darkest corner of his or her mind that the only way he sees out is to kill another. He goes to the extent of ruining his own life while taking the life of others. An extreme form of depression? Is the child born with depression? I don’t believe so. His circumstances lead him to take extreme steps.

So, is it the parents? When their child does this henious crime, do the parents wake up from their personal issues? Do the parents have issues or are they people like you and me? I am forced to think that the parents neglect about their child’s activities or child’s life in general isolates the young mind. I am surprised that how can a parent not know what’s happening in their child’s life. They don’t have to pry into each and everything, but don’t you always maintain that virtual umbilical cord even after it’s cut?

So is it the peril of abundance of resources? Are we paying the price of technology with innocent lives? Today we can search anything on the internet. The internet flows more easily than water. Anyone can find anything in that dark jungle. With nobody to restrict you or even tell you right from wrong, are you misled ?

So what is the school teaching you? In India we have classrooms or homerooms even in high school. There is a class teacher or homeroom teacher when you are in your teens. The teacher knows you and keeps that door open for you. You have the same set of friends. What I see different here is each child has his or her own schedule. After grade 6, you are on your own. You are given so much Independence and the importance laid on your Independence kills the, “I will watch over you” syndrome that we carried while in school. There were fifty girls in my class and I knew all of them by name. We knew each other’s parents. There was a bond. Here kids see each other maybe at clubs or in common classes. Aren’t they to young at 13 to be given this enhanced level of Independence?

So then is it the laws of gun control? Maybe it is. How is the seller going to know if the buyer is responsible enough with guns? In the first place, if you are not a law protection officer why do you need a gun? I have never understood this.

So is it everything? It is. It is the parents, the education system, the laws, the technology that empowers, enables and pushes the teenager to that dark corner where nobody should go. I believe nobody wake up one day, picks up a gun and shoots people, especially not teenagers. There is an underlying reason that has had a snowball effect over the years.

Parents, please involve yourself in your children’s life. You don’t have to poke your nose into everything, but be aware of their thoughts. Talk to them, understand them, teach them the good virtues. If you have guns, lock them up, store them safely. It could destroy your family and many others like yours.

The best thing we can give our children is our time…!

With prayers…

Under the giant tree

I’ve spent many a days

Under the giant tree

Far away from here

In my grandmother’s house

That tree holds my childhood

And memories treasured

The games we played

As innocent nine year olds

It’s branches have rings

From the rope of our swings

It’s shade will tell you stories

About the cool evenings we lay there

Under that tree, in those swings

I see my mother smiling at me

She is holding my brother close

Swaying in the wind, happily

Going higher each time

I am scared they’d get hurt

But she has spent many a days

Under the giant tree many years ago

As a nine year old

In my grandmother’s house.

Identity

My older son is 13 years old and my younger one is 11. My friends have children around these ages. I know their children in close quarters. I have interacted with them and have heard about them from my friends. One distinct quality that stands out and takes me by surprise is their identity or their uniqueness. I see each child being their own person at such a young age. In my children, I clearly see their likes and dislikes. They have opinions, some pretty strong ones. Their choices and preferences are clear to them. They make an attempt to explain it to me. I can have a conversation with them, to understand their choices and the reasoning behind those choices. My friends tell me the same thing.

As I experience this, I reflect upon my years at this age. I don’t think I even had an opinion. Was I supposed to have one? I am not sure. I did what my parents said. If they told me to study, I did, if they told me it was time to eat, I ate, if they took me out, I went. I don’t intend to blow my trumpet about my obedience as a child, but I’m sure everyone in my generation, did the same thing.

We were aware of our surroundings, We knew about what was happening around us. We were more environment-centric than self-centric (in a good way). We did form our opinions, likes and dislikes, but that was after we stepped out of school, got into college, met people from diverse backgrounds. The tweens of today are already there.

A direct consequence of this self-awareness in children today, is that their obedience quotient may have taken a hit. It could be the empowerment they get at a very young age or could it be that my generation is at the cusp of the old and new? We are empowering them. When they feel empowered, they need a reason and rhyme for every action we ask them to undertake. In short, what we asked of our parents as 18 year olds, our children are asking of us at age 12.

My generation has to shed some concepts of parenting style that we imbibed from our parents. The basic virtues of honesty, respect, humility, integrity, etc is what we have to pass on. But at the same time, we should strike the balance of independence early on in their lives.

It is challenging. Oh hell, YES! Everyday! Most times I feel I am playing whac-a-mole or juggling more balls than I can handle. But each time its a learning. It’s not only children who grow up, we too grow as parents. Its that growth that we need to embrace. We should step out of our conventional concepts of parenting and be open to mend our methods according to new demands, without compromising on basic virtues. As parents, I believe we should nurture their uniqueness and let them bloom into the hybrid flower they were meant to be.

Another day, another lesson…!

 

 

Day 6 : Life lessons – what our parents expect

It was around 9pm and I was pondering about what life lessons I should write about today. There were no obvious triggers during the day. As I was doing the dishes I thought about a particular family where parents and children are going through a strain in their relationship, primarily because the parents didn’t meet the child’s expectation. The parents are retired from professional life and the child is a grown up person. I am due to return a call to Uncle and Aunty and I got thinking of their not so happy days for the past few months.

As children there is no end to the expectations we have from our parents. When we are young we expect them to buy us that toy, that particular food, the specific dress, take us out and what not. As we grow up, expectations are different but they still exist in various forms. When I had my children I expected my mother to come to the US and take care of them. She did it without a second thought, six times. She made six trips across the globe with her Parkinson’s to take care of my children. At that time it was something natural, it was what all parents of children who live in the US, did. I just expected her to do it.

As parents get older the “density” of our expectation most often than not hits the roof, because now we expect them to “behave” a certain way. I am guilty of this as well, for many years. I wanted my mother to talk a certain way, I squirmed when she said some things in a gathering, which “I” thought were inappropriate. I expected her to spend money in a certain way, because by then she didn’t have her own income. I was a very bad daughter as a grown up, to her.

When she passed, in her passing, she taught me life lessons, like she always did. The biggest one being, all she expected out of me was to understand her. I didn’t have to do anything about it, but letting her know that I understood remains my biggest failure as a daughter. With my father, I expect “nothing”. He expects me to call him everyday and give him even five minutes of my time, just so he knows I am thinking of him. I give him that time and often more. When he goes on long distance trips with his friends I just listen and encourage. That is all he needs and expects, a few minutes of my time everyday and encouragement at his age. All he needs from me is to hear him out and understand him. He needs to feel that I am there for him no matter what and that he can depend on me.

I am blessed that my mother taught me this extremely important lesson as she left. But when I see soooo many men and women around me who don’t get this simple equation of life, I feel sad for the parents and for the men and women. Life can be so much simpler and happier if we as grown ups take that tiny effort to understand them. Do they really deserve a struggle during the resting years of their life, after they slogged it out for years and years to make us who we are today?

The daughter-in-law and son-in-law can easily mess up this equation, which is extremely plausible. But it’s not about how the daughter-in-law or son-in-law treats your parents, it’s always and only about how you treat your parents. Everything else is a bonus!

For the wonderful parents I have and for everything they have taught me, I am blessed, many, many times over!!