The best lesson…

My mom has taught me a lot of things… like every other mother does. Some she was vocal about and some by example.

1. When her mother was not well, she was there to care for her no matter what. Her selfless love towards her mother was a perfect example of how children should care for their parents in their old age. In this she taught me to be there for your parents.

2. She fought with the institution to ensure my brother got admission to Bishop Cottons. She urged the principal to reduce the admission fee, borrowed money to pay it and ensured my brother was enrolled to the school. He was 6, I was 11. She vocally taught me that it was important to be fair to your children and give them equal opportunities. What they make of it is beyond her control but as a parent it was her responsibility to be fair.

3. Every night we ate together, my father, her, brother, uncle and I. At that time it was just the norm for me. She cooked, I helped, we sat down on the floor, spoke about school or current affairs or anything and ate the meal. Now when I have a family I realize the importance of that simple act. At the end of the day the family comes together and shares their day or thoughts or whatever, but essentially what builds there is a bridge of communication. Everyone talks to everyone in the family.

4. She taught me the value of money. She told me the income and expenses and how to make ends meet. I was 12. I saw her struggle quietly at various things we never had. Money is essential, but not everything. She always said, a path will carve itself out, some door will open and a door always opened.

5. The relationships you make whether blood or not are to be kept. Blood does not make anything thicker. Having people around, you can turn to was the important thing. She respected every person who she came across, whether young or old. It was of utmost importance to treat everyone with respect.

But of all that she taught me the one I value the most is what she taught me silently when she passed, that I have no control over anything except myself. That lesson walked into my life when I most needed it. I cried after she went about the what-if possibilities, when my dad told me, that it was her time to go, and there is no point in any what-ifs.

The only thing I can control is my part of the relationship with another person, my reaction to a situation or to what another person says to me, my thoughts about a situation, my words that I choose to utter, my emotions. Everything else is not mine to claim or change. This simple but powerful truth has changed my life. And she is my teacher.

I love you Ma, Happy Mother’s Day!!

Close the door…

At the end of the year

The doors are closing in

There is that little gap

Which will close soon

I need to

Pick my arms and legs

Lift my head

Look forward

And run

Before it closes

Yes

The finger refuses to move

What is this weight

Gluing me to the ground

I want to get up

I want to run

It’s in the mind

It’s all in the mind

Maybe there is no door

Maybe nothing is closing in

It’s probably my mind

Playing games

Stop

Stop now

Set me free

From your vicious circle of thoughts

Set me free from these bonds

From words

Let there be silence

Just silence

Quiet now

There are no arms embracing me

There never will be

Let me close the door

Maybe then

Just for a little while there will be

Solitude…!

Disabled…

If you want to group them into years

Then it’s been three years

But the loss felt each day

Is the same

Has it diminished?

Atleast by a bit?

I would know

Only when

I can believe that she’s left

On her own independent journey

To fly across the skies

To climb the the highest mountains

To run with able legs

While I go on

Emotionally

Disabled.

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…

To be or not to be

To be or not to be- that is the question
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them.

This is the opening phrase of a soliloquy in the “Nunnery Scene” of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. In the speech, the despondent Prince Hamlet contemplates death and suicide while waiting for Ophelia, the love of his life.

To be or not to be – was a question of death and suicide. As I see people in their late 60’s or early 70’s, I draw a parallel to this quote from Shakespeare who wrote his in 1600. Now the question is not suicide or death, but to live or die.

There are only two paths or perspectives people see life in, as they get to their 70’s – Live to Die or Die to Live. And this perspective defines the quality of life they lead, the relationships they have, their every waking moment.

I have seen people who are predicting or constantly tapping at an astrologer’s door trying to find out when they would die. From their standpoint its preparation for the end. Maybe at their age, then need to know. I don’t know if I will want to know. Anyways, so they are told a date or month and year of the end. Then what? The group of people who ‘live to die’ magnify each miniscule physical ailment as a door to death. They don’t particularly do anything significant during the day. They are just killing time, waiting almost impatiently. They wake up each morning, eat three meals a day, take their medicines, sleep, talk to a few people over the course of the day and go to bed at night. They are happy watching the sloppy serials on television and carrying the thoughts and feelings of those serial artists to bed. They choke their life to death.

The other category of people ‘Die to live’. They know, like the first category, that they have spent a major portion of their life. But they are fearless about the end. They accept the fact that there is an end, however, they are not looking forward to that. They are also eager to know when the end will come, but they live each day. They too wake up, eat their meals, take their medicines on time. The difference is, this group of people, travel, in whatever financial and physical means they can, meet people, read, enjoy their grandchildren, be a part of their life and growing up. They are excited about new things. They want to learn, explore the possibilities in each day.

It all about perspective; and which perspective one takes depends largely on the journey a person has had till that stage in life and the situations that he or she is in. However, the core of it should lie in a person’s inner belief.  

All this rolls back to how one is created. The growth from a cell to human form. The pain of delivering a baby. Learning everything, yes, “everything”. Going through human emotions, building and nurturing relationships. Making babies. Shaping them into individuals. Hell! There is a lot one goes through from that tiny cell. Life is precious. We don’t become what we become on our own. Its a whole big network of people who shape our lives, play a part in building us cell by cell. Its a magnanimous process, as vast and widespread as the internet itself. So then why waste the precious moments we are blessed with. When we think of it this way, it gives a broader and deeper meaning to life, itself! 

Nuts and bolts

I found this box in my mother’s bag. My mother passed a year ago and while goinggoing through her bag found this box which was once packaged with nuts served on domestic indigo flights. On one of my travels many years ago, probably from trivandrum to bangalore, I had bought this box of nuts for my parents. 

It’s contents span a lifetime and attributed to people she holds dear to her heart. 

There is a passport size phot of my brother in Bishop Cottons uniform. The struggle she went through to get him an admission at bishop cottons is something best forgotten. She paid a donation of 5000 rupees way back in 1989, at her own intuition and will so that my brother would get the best education possible.

The passport photo of me was taken for my engineering college admission, in 1995. Getting me into MIT, Manipal was a big step for her. Payment seat with a fees of 40,000 rupees per year. I can only imagine the jitters she must have had thinking of this colossal amount she had to make every year along with my brothers bishop cottons fees. I got the last computer science payment seat that year. Was she worried about sending me away from her nest, I don’t know, I was engrossed in getting that last seat. 

The picture of her and a boy, is before her marriage. She had come to bangalore to help her sister take care of her son, my cousin, Manoj. He remained her first child always. This was probably 1972..

The next picture is of her, Manoj and his younger brother Babu.. she learnt her first lessons of motherhood from them. They were very dear to her. 

The dice is something I got for her when she came to visit my family in the US, and we went to Las Vegas. Oh! How much fun she had at the slot machines.  By then my elder son was born and this memento says “Grandma’s casino, Las Vegas”.

The kushtex fabrics book is her phone and address book, her link to the world. This was a complimentary gift from a company whose fabrics my uncle and aunt sold in wholesale at Bangalore.

Then her bank card, hospital cards and some papers.  She has carried these with her for innumerable years, adding to the collection over the years. These little things mattered to her. Today she carries them in her heart, overseeing each one of us, visiting us, assuring us that she is here, somewhere around us.
Lots of love, to the woman, because of whom, I am, who I am..