Finding roots

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The flowers beckon me. It’s a new place….everything is new but the tree makes me feel at home. Growing up in a small town with lots of greenery all around, my mind had always yearned for a place where I could stretch out of  my balcony or window and touch a leaf.

past month has been hectic. I have left the place I called home for the past 15 years and moved back to  my motherland. A land which has transformed drastically and now has little resemblance to my memories. But still is a place which is my own.

As I take my son along familiar routes and explain to him. He looks at me and says, ‘You love India a lot don’t you’. And though I pride on that; I know how he feels. He has left the only place which he called his home and is struggling now to find his roots. My heart aches for him but i know that one day he too will feel the same love that I feel for this country which is ours.

Ruminations of the motherly types

As we stand waiting for the car to pick the son up for school; there is a bunch of boys. Some 15 of them, all school going. Their school is about 300 metres away. I can hear the assembly in progress but these boys…..they are yet to reach school. Before that they have more important chores to finish.

Like pulling each others legs. Like pulling stuff from the dustbin and throwing it on the road and most important, getting the first smoke of the day. Young boys some as young as 11 or 12 look at me and draw a puff in. And I become desperate. They pass a cigarette to a boy who is maybe 9 or ten and I can hear my blood boil.The  mom and teacher in me wants to go right ahead and give them a tight slap. One which will keep ringing in their ears for days together. But today is not the place. I have two young children with me. I have to look after their safety first.

My anger shifts to the cold store fellow. ‘How dare he sells cigarettes to juveniles?’. But then I understand him. He is an Indian. what can he do against the locals. He must be worried about the safety of his staff and his shop. So he has put this sign on the front’ no sale of cigarettes to juveniles’and has done his bit.

I think of going to the school and talking with the administration but I don’t think they will be able to do much. I remember once the school timings were extended because the portions could not be completed as they had had too many holidays during the academic year. Some boys had created havoc. Security forces had to be brought in but to no avail. The boys just climbed the high fence and ran away. From the next day extended hours were for those who were ready to attend.

Yes, it is a government school. For these reasons only parents now opt for private schools. But not all can opt for private schools. Private schools may or may not have local boards. Which means the kids will have to go for British boards which means they will need extra tuition which means additional expenses.

And it is not that the government schools are not equipped. They are. They have the best infrastructure possible. Also the best facilitator. But what lacks is the environment and the lack of dedicated students. One rotten egg spoils the rest. Or in this case some spoilt brats spoiling others who in turn spoil some more and so on.

Both as a mother and a teacher I keep an eye on ‘my children’ constantly seeing that they don’t fall into bad association. But it is so tough particularly in this age with our dependence on gadgets.

In my class mobiles are banned except to attend calls from the parents who knowing me generally give a  miss call to inform that they have come to pick them up.I am strict but I stay with them for just about 2 hours and what after that.

When I see young kids spoiling their life, I get a dull ache in my heart, how do I make them understand, how can we nourish their lives.

I wonder…………

 

Bidding adieu

Yesterday someone asked me for the name of some book….I tried hard to remember it but could not. Maybe age is catching up but then I remembered that I had mentioned it in my blog and so came down here and started browsing. And then memories came flooding by. How active I used to be. I remember there used to be at least a 100 posts a year.

Yes, priorities change. when Searching self was born, I was doing just that…’Searching self’. But then when I found my true calling the writing reduced or rather it moved to other avenues. But when I read through my old posts I was inspired. Am I a narcissist….who knows; maybe.

But then there are people who have been writing blogs for quite a long time. I really admire them. Consistently writing for a long time is really an art. Some of them have evolved into professional writers; maybe that helps.

2016 is about to end and a New Year beckons. Personally there will be a lot of changes. I just hope that everything happens smoothly.

So here is wishing you all a Very Happy New Year and hopefully lots of writing in 2017

I am unique

I am a housewife

and I am proud about it

and no no one forced me to be one.

In case you wonder what happened to me suddenly, let me put it straight; I am fed up of the Women’s day messages. Yes, I am a woman that too a housewife, But I have not sacrificed. I mean every other message that I get talks about the sacrifices that woman make. Maybe I have but so has my husband. Most of the time, he is the one, who holds back his wishes, his wants for our sake.  My sacrifice if any must be minimal. You may say that I am lucky. Maybe I am. I have not been abused, my wishes have not been sidelines,  my voice has not been subdued, And I do not think that my rights have been subjugated.

We just lead ordinary lives. Each respecting the other and adjusting to the numerous demands of life.

Yes I am the first one to wake up and the last one to sleep. So is it a sacrifice? I don’t think so. It is just that I can take a nap when I am free. The rules of time do not apply to me much. When I decided for marriage, when I decided that family will be my prime responsibility, it was my choice. A choice that my husband did not get.

Yes I am lucky. I haven’t faced discrimination. As a youngest child, my parents had gathered enough experience to understand that I was an individual in my own right. I was given the same opportunities as my brother got and sometimes more. The only restriction that I had was that I had to be home before dark. Well I never had the need to stay out late for that matter.

As a wife my opinions are valued. As a daughter in law I may have faced prejudices but my family has always stood beside me providing the moral support which I needed.

Today when I balance my home, my child’s education, seva I don’t feel I am sacrificing anything. Because whatever I did was my choice. A decision which I took with my eyes open and a heart full of love. I wanted to be the backbone of the family, the one whom the others could confide in. I wanted to be there when they wanted me most. You may say that it is in my gene…the slavery, the ready to be ‘the doormat of the house’. I don’t think so.

Whatever we say it is the woman who makes up the home, she is the caregiver, she is the planner, allocator, and in many cases the one who looks after the financial planning too. The men may be the bread winner but it is the woman who runs the show.

Then why brand woman as people whose rights have been compromised or the ones who don’t have a voice. Many like me don’t run offices nor climb mountains but we build lives. And no we don’t yearn for a day or some declaration. We are just happy looking at the values we have built up.

 

Yes there are many who face odds. But for those; is it necessary to cry out and declare the entire human race as one who compromise on womens rights and needs. Is it so necessary to circulate the sob stories. Is it necessary t brand the males as predatory?

I am unique. I am special and no I don’t need a day to tell me that

 

Right or not

‘Now sit here quietly, thinking of nothing, till you become normal’, said my mother, making me sit in a corner of the kitchen. The kitchen had a ‘courtyard’. It had a big guava tree. One which my brother and father climbed. Yes, we sisters never tried climbing it. Before you jump to conclusions about our patriarchal society and how girls are not on par with boys, let me inform you that no one stopped us from climbing that guava tree. We were just interested in the juicy fruits, the climbing part was left to the boys.

I sat in the corner fuming and fuming, till all the steam sizzled out. No one came to pacify me. No one bothered to ask anything. Like a pressure cooker automatically cools down, I did too.

‘I am hungry’, I said. ‘lunch is ready’, she said. And that was it. No mention of the incidence to anyone, no violence, no drama.

In case you wonder, what had happened……I had just learned about ‘rights’ the previous day at school. About how we all have rights, how to exercise them and how to demand your rights. My teacher Mrs. Choudary was a wonderful person. Each point she made would be etched on our minds. I still remember her teachings some 30  years later.

And so my experiments with ‘rights’ had started. I demanded that food was prepared according to my liking because having nutritious food was my right. I demanded that I get a good book to read because getting a good education was my right. And so on. All was fine until I demanded a hair cut. Mother said no. In her opinion it had to grow a little more so that it could be cut evenly. That was it, ‘ I started my monologue on how my hair was my property and it was my right to get it cut. My mother had had enough of the nonsense and thats when she dragged me to the corner of the kitchen and made me sit.

I tell you sitting alone without thinking or doing anything can be therapeutic. It calms you down and lets you think.

Moms know best they know how to handle their child. My mother knew how to take care of me. She had various ways to handle me. If I cried too much for petty things, she would wait till it was dusk and then lock me out in the courtyard. No shouting, no beating. 5 minutes and I would be normal. She stopped teaching me when I was in second standard. She just said, ‘It is your life. If you want you study or you can always become like me’. I looked at her routine. She got  up at 6 not sleeping till 11 in the night. She was our cook, washerwoman, data bank, cleaner everything and decided that studying and getting a job that paid was better. She sure knew how to deal with us.

So the rights issue was withdrawn. I had a good meal and a good nap and peace reigned.

Next day, Mrs. Choudhary began the class with a ‘so we learnt in the last class, what are rights, today we will learn about our duties. For there are no rights without any duties.’ And she again gave a wonderful class about duties, what are they, why we should do out duties and how without doing our duties, we cannot demand our rights. And I was filled with remorse.

Over the long weekend, I had demanded my rights but had I done my duties. Had I helped around the house? No, Had I studied? No. I asked many questions to myself and the answers were mostly No. Then did I have the right to demand my right?

 

Today when I see various people demanding their rights, I feel pity for them. for they don’t have a mother like mine or a teacher like Mrs. Choudhary. No demanding rights is alright but how many of us have done our duties?

We all demand but what do we give back. Apart from taxes that is. Do we throw that wrapper in the dustbin. Did we answer a question by our fellow traveller politely?  Did we say sorry with a smile when we occidentally stamped someone? Society is not just by others but we are also a part of it. Be the change to demand the change.

 

 

”BACK”

I move my hands over the keys. Everything looks new. The screen, the words everything. Thats what happens when you try to write after a two and a half month break.

I remember 2009 and how I would be eager to type away my present,, my past and some fiction. And now, no more. I am more relaxed, no more in a hurry. There used to be a need to write, to revolutionize thinking and make a change. Not any more. The change first has to become with self, how can I try to change someone else when I remain the same?

The India trip left me in a tizzy. But that is usual, it happens all the time. India has become like any other place; more global maybe. ‘Indianess’ is lost somewhere.

Or maybe just maybe I have become a ‘Bahraini’

Who knows!!

Stranded!!

It was a Monday that day too. It was a day when I was at home, at peace and enjoying my leisure time. Browsing through sites, I felt at peace when there was a knock at the door. I got up to find Shamina at the door. Shamina is an old lady about 60 + working as a maid to my  neighbour. ‘Did madam leave key with you’, she asked.

‘No, but you have a key, right?’, I asked her back.

‘Yes but I forgot to bring it….Its alright I will go back home and bring it’, she said.

‘Where do you live?’, I asked her. She mentioned a place quite far.

‘You’ll walk?’, I asked.

‘Yes, no buses ply on this route’, she said and turned.

‘Wait, I said and picked up my car keys.

She sat silently by my side. ‘Where does your husband work?’, I asked.

‘I don’t know’, she said and remained silent.

Some days later I met Sheetal my neighbour on the stairs, it was not often theat we met and so started talking. I told her about the day Shamina forgot her keys.

‘Oh, Shamina is my strength’, Sheetal said, ‘You know how often Ricky falls sick. It is Shamina who looks after him. ‘She is very silent and sad, why so’, I asked.

‘She had a daughter who was detected with leukaemia at the age of 12. eventually she died. Her husband left her soon after that taking her passport with her. So she is left here stranded’, Sheetal said.

But surely the embassy can help, if you want I have some friends in the Indian Ladies Association who can help’, I said.

But she does not want to go back to India. It seems that her family outcast her when she married against their wishes. Anyways her parents have died and her brother does not want any relationship with her, so where will she go’, Sheetal said.

Visions of people stranded like her rushed through my eyes. In addition there are those who came in the ruse of a better life but discovered otherwise. The laundry wallah who is a graduate and came in search of a job but was tricked into signing a contract for ironing clothes. By the time his contract ends he will be considered useless for any other jobs. The road cleaner who thought it will be fun to be in a ‘foreign’ country and pooled all his resources to come here only to sweep roads in scorching summers and freezing winters, for whom even a samosa ia a luxury…. The rag picker ho picks up cartons from the dustbin. He has forgotten his mother tongue or his birth place. The stories are endless.

So many stories like this all around…..

I wonder how many Indians actually live here. For there are countless, unaccounted ones…