Saturday, September 26, 2009

Down the memory lane-2

Let me begin with wishes for a very happy Navarathri and Eid to all of you. Festivities being part of the Indian scene getting in and out of shops has been a tiring experience. Not that I am a great shopper but getting a hair band for my scanty hair took me nearly half an hour what with enthusiastic teenaged girls crowding the ladies corner picking out make up kits and accessories to deck themselves for the pujas. I found myself sorely missing my grand daughters who have just begun to understand what it means to own bangles and stuff. That reminds me. I happened to look at a photograph taken soon after I finished my 11th standard boards. I could hardly recognize the teenager looking back at me. She had worn danglers (Jhumkas) and a ‘mattal’ to support ear rings that would pass off for mini plates and a vertical line instead of the round bindi I normally sport these days. I really wonder if I was really that crazy and if I was indeed so when did my teenage enthusiasm die? Be that as it may Navarathri is the time when girls are given special treatment. For my part I did my bit for the girls mentioned in my previous post and escorted a handicapped friend Prema to visit a friend of hers whose husband is recuperating after a mild stroke that had him hospitalized for a week or so. And again the visit took me back to the days when I had just arrived at Jamshedpur and we all lived in the same locality. Prema’s family has done for me that which I need several more births to ever repay.

My mother in law was seriously ill and bed ridden. She was forbidden the intake of more than 5 gms of salt per day and her kidneys were failing. Being diabetic she would be constantly hungry and with 2 small children I’d be at wits end unable to cope with her demands for spicy (forbidden) food. Prema’s mother was a friend of my mother in law and the dear lady would say that since she cooked early for her husband who left for work at 8 in the morning I could come over to her place anytime to pick up stuff for my mother in law. I’d sometimes knock their door at 6.30 in the morning and come back with steaming hot food.

“V was not always like this” she’d say referring to my MIL. “It is her illness that is making her act strange. You think she’d eat all of it? She’ll probably just taste a bit of it for a change and refuse the rest. Don’t worry about anything. You can come over anytime.”

To her credit I must add that she never discussed all this with anyone nor did her children, Prema included, question the reason behind my early morning visits. In fact Prema doesn’t even remember any of it now. But I have not forgotten the favor. It was like having my mother close by. My mother in law was also completely at ease about my contact with the family. She knew that T mami (Prema’s mother) would never set me against her. There were times when I’d have a complaint or two against my MIL. Her advice would be the same.

“Don’t bother about her outbursts. She’ll cool down by the time you go back. Do you think she’d have spared P (my SIL)? She is one person who is the same within and without. You’ll soon understand.”

True, my MIL was like a pressure cooker releasing steam from time to time. One had to understand the soft interior behind the tough exterior and T mami helped me see it.

I don’t know why I am reminded of my younger days so much these days. I lost a dear cousin to cancer. She was younger to me by a year and the first leaf to fall from the branch that sprung from my mother’s side of the family tree. She is mourned among others by her 82 year old mother. She was in great pain and has perhaps found liberation in death. We shared a childhood together spending our vacations in Gobi at my grandfather’s place. Her mother was an inspiration to me with a balanced temperament and uncomplaining nature. Those were days when parents generally let children run wild during vacations – no special treatment or attention. Anyone who was free would feed the children and one would fall asleep on mats spread out in a common hall. I wonder why the current generation of young mothers are so protective about their children.

My child won’t eat this or that……….
My son is an angel he’d never start a quarrel…….
My son won’t get sleep unless the AC is on……..

When we were young and up to mischief, anyone including the servant could scold us and our mothers would go about their work as if nothing had happened. They interfered only if there was a danger of children hurting themselves during a quarrel and the maximum punishment inflicted would be to withdraw the culprit from the scene. Never mind who started the quarrel. But we were happy as long as we got to enjoy ourselves.

Is this over protective attitude due to the fact that we have smaller families and more time in hand, thanks to modern gadgets? Or is the affordability in terms of money and means having a negative impact on inter personal relationships? Does one feel the necessity to flaunt one’s status in life even to one’s own parents and siblings? I am only generalizing but there seems to a subtle change taking place in society and the next generation of children may perhaps tend to be more self centered and uncaring and this will not be good in a society where the divide between the rich and poor is increasing by the day.

To conclude, I may add that almost all festivals are celebrated to denote the triumph of good over evil. Different reasons are quoted for celebrating Navarathri. Devi Mahatmiyam says that even with the combined strength of all the gods and demi gods, it took a long drawn war before Shakthi won the battle against Mahishasur, a demon. Ram led a battle against Ravan and ultimately defeated him. Demons are vanquished and justice prevails is the message. Even Gods could not accomplish it in a day. Corruption, terrorism, caste differentiation, communalism, avarice, dowry menace, female feticide and unhealthy competition are some of the demons that damage our social structure. We may not be able to change the world. Why not begin with changing ourselves and inculcate the value of community life in our children? They need to be sensitized by parents and no time is better than the present time. Let us begin right away. Happy Navarathri!

16 comments:

Ugich Konitari said...

HHG, Great post, and I think everyone should read that last paragraph again and again. As you say, all our festivals truly are a depiction of the victory of good over evil; they are also something that tell us that someone had to work hard to get that victory, and that nothing is easy. So many days of fighting, so many years of Vanwas.

Its really telling us to be dutiful . Like your experience with your MIL. And yes, strangely, I too see myself remembering the old days very often these days....isnt old age wonderful ....:-)

Monika said...

brilliant brilliant post HHG

dipali said...

Corruption, terrorism, caste differentiation, communalism, avarice, dowry menace, female feticide and unhealthy competition are some of the demons that damage our social structure.

We need more than divine help to eliminate these evils from the world!
Great post, and happy Navarathri, HHG.

Antarman said...

Nice post!
When we were young and up to mischief, anyone including the servant could scold us and our mothers would go about their work as if nothing had happened. They interfered only if there was a danger of children hurting themselves during a quarrel and the maximum punishment inflicted would be to withdraw the culprit from the scene. Never mind who started the quarrel---exactly that was the way in my family.

Manasi said...

Dear Grandmom... I dunno how to address you... I really don't. Because when i read your posts, i feel so alike with you even though the road i took to where i am today has been unconventional to say the very least. It surprises me no end when i am reading your posts and find myself nodding my head in agreement. It actually feels like i may have swapped places with you, like i am Grandma and you are the 30 yr old me...

Please dont take this comment of mine just as my profuse excitement in words of appreciation but also my acknowledgement of an AGEless wisdom that is stamped in every nook and corner of your thoughts.

Ageless... yes!

Best wishes,
Manasi

Just Like That said...

Happy NAvratri to you too, HGMom.
That was a caring neighbour you had.
My Mom sometimes talks about the friends she had in the places Dad used to work, and I feel amazed at the understanding and love they had in those days. So different fom the days of today, when neighbours hardly get to see one another. :-(

shoba said...

Great post, HHG. From what I see, I think the future generations might actually end up being more helpful to others, as most of their basic necessities will be fulfilled quite easily, the way the world has shrunk in the past years.
Happy Navratri to you..

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
Right now I'm touring all over the place.will get back after the 15th of October.Take care each one of you.

Monika:Tried voting for you but couldn't.

hillgrandmom said...

Best wishes for the Festive season HHG--more festivities to come too I know. Thanks for sharing your memories. We enjoy them.

Shachi said...

Lovely memories. It is so important to remember and acknowledge all forms of help we receive to lead a blessed life! Kudos!

The Talkative Man said...

HHG,
Since beginning her teaching life in '68, my mother in her sixties, took her first vacation in forty-one years, visiting me in the US and has been quietly enjoying your articles on many an afternoon!

Hope your Alto is doing fine.

The Talkative Man said...

Another nice memoirs-based site is here:
Memories and Musings

Sumana said...

HHG, This is true that these days moms are over cautious and sometimes tend to forget and avoid the simpler pleasures that the kids draw from simple acts. I too keep telling myself to not act ina particular way. Joy of playing with anyone you want, sleeping on the charpai and getting fed by aunts and uncles, well got transposed to a different world in seconds. Wonderful post. Nice to hear your expereinces with your MIL. Age and illness make the elders act just like kids.

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I have some six more days to back to my home base.I'll be more active on my blogging spree after that.Take care each one and thanks for your inputs.

The talkative man:I am glad to hear that your mother is enjoying my old posts.Since we belong to the same generation and genre i can almost imagine what her response would be.Please thank her for her interest and I'll check out your link.

Sue said...

HHG, my parents say we act over-protective because we learn our parenting from books. I know I started out like that (because, really, how on earth could I learn it from my parents, what did they know?) but now I've learnt to let go quite a lot. And you know, it's made such a difference to Rahul. I think I learnt to let go as he learnt to talk and articulate his needs. It's harder letting go of a smaller kid.

Sue said...

BTW, Happy Diwali to you. May your home stay lighted and happy all year.