Friday, May 29, 2009


Monika has tagged me to share with you an experience that was scary and horror filled. I cannot think of many such instances since my life has followed a pretty normal course with not many thrillers thrown in. But there is one that scared the life out of me and that is what I plan to report.

It was way back in 1975 and just on new year's day. I was returning to Jamshedpur with my first born-just three months old. My uncle was to accompany me. My mother came to the station to see me off. I was to board a train bound for Chennai coming from Mangalore and the train stopped at Erode where I was supposed to board, for just 10 minutes. I was naturally upset at having to leave home. My mother was full of advices as to how the child needed to be cared for during the long journey and other useful tips that only aa mother can give. The train arrived and my uncle got busy loading the luggage and left me along with the baby and my mother. He came back in 5 minutes and found that my mother was no longer standing by my side and I had no clue as to where she had gone. Now my mother's eyesight was weak and about 70% gone. There was no way we could find out whom she had followed and which compartment she might have gotten into. My mama was almost in tears and asked to porter to bring down all the luggage that had been loaded. A cousin Ambi, who had accompanied us and was to take my mother back jumped in and out of each compartment looking for her and all I could do was to stare at the train, child in hand and eyes filled with tears. Just when the guard was about to blow the whistle Ambi got down from a compartment followed by my mother. relieved to see her my mama ordered the porter to re-load the luggage and almost shoving me into the train waved a hurried good bye to my mother asking Ambi to take her home. We did not even know if all items of luggage had been loaded or not and it was only when the train began to move that the gravity of the situation began to register in our minds. It so happened that my mother mistook someone else for my uncle and followed the person into the wrong compartment. Once inside she could not see a thing and kept calling our names. I still shudder to think of what may have happened if the train had moved before she was located and disembarked. My only regret to this day is that I had the responsibility to take care of her in a busy platform and I had somehow failed her.

I invite all my readers to consider themselves tagged and share their horror experiences with us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tagged by The Pack

The Pack has tagged me to reveal 10 facts about me. Well I am not sure if there are 10 things to report about me that would interest others. But since the number is fixed one must strive to make ordinary facts interesting to esure readership. So here I go.

1. My readers ought to know by now that I talk a lot. Yes, i do. I take ten minutes to describe an event or information that others would say in perhaps two minutes? My son hushes me up at times and asks me to come to the point. I'll try, I promise, to mke my posts crisp and readable.

2. I am kind of laid back and were it not for my responsibilities as wife and mother and teacher to fulfill I may just not have a priority list to do things.Right now, at my son's place in New York I am enjoying myself by simply not following any order of doing things. It helps that I have no servant to worry about or else I'd have to finish my work to give her work. Jet lag is a pleasure, I sleep like a log in the afternoon, read a book at three in the morning have lunch at four in the evening......... Oh! what bliss.I can do what I want to and blame it on jet lag. It cannot continue for ever and back in India in about 40 days time I have to follow a routine, jet lag or not. But lemme enjoy myself while I can.

3. I am the kind of person who is perhaps quite approachable. In most of my train/plane journeys I find people talk to me easily. When I landed in New York and while waiting for prepaid transport, there was this woman talking English with a German or perhaps Italian accent (not that I know for sure, I only assumed) who told me that she watched a program 'way to India' or something like that and we spoke for 5 minutes and my son was kind of surprised as to what I could have possibly said to a complete stranger. Remember, she talked to me first. There are women, starting from one who fills water by the roadside to another who is utterly religious and has had a bath when I go for my morning walk, there are so many who have a kind word to say to me. I am indeed blessed.

4. I have a soft corner for women in distress. When I first started working and got a flat salary of Rs. 680/- during my probation period, I felt so empowered that I actually allowed a neighbor to take advantage of me with her sob stories. Another time a widow with 4 children and no job became an eligible candidate for my kindness. It is quite another thing that these ladies forgot me when their situations improved and my husband keeps warning me all the time but I am yet to learn my lesson in a big way. I am however more careful these days.

5. I am not the kind to fuss over my children. Oh yes, I am there to support and help them when they need me. But I've seen mothers cook separate items for dinner for each of her fussy children, or worry about the dress her daughter should wear for a particular occasion. I've seen others questioning teachers about each mark scored or not scored in a particular paper. I don't know if the credit goes to me or my children, but they have been uncomplaining and I've been non interfering, unless of course the matter was really serious. None of us have bothered too much about little eyesores. May be it was the situation we were in or my basic nature or the fact that there was really no cause for panic/alarm we've lead a pretty much comfortable life.

6. While I trust my children to manage well on their own, I cannot say that about my husband. I behave like a mother hen and my children call me an enabler. May be this is because I've seen my mother in law behaving like this towards him.

7. I've said this before and I say it again, I do not care too much for shopping. Window shopping?? I cannot shop for the sake of spending time. in Jamshedpur I know where exactly to look for things and it doesn't take me long to find what I want.

8. I cannot sing but I love listening to music. I am not too much of a TV person and I hate it when people keep changing channels.

9. I used to read a lot earlier but I've now become selective. I am currently reading a book on polygamy that existed in the Mormon community some 100 years back. It is surprising how religion could be used to justify the practice. Here again books dealing with the plight of women interests me. I see that cutting across cultures and religion women have always had to stand up for their rights.

10. I cannot defend myself. When I am accused of something I start seeing the other persons perspective and kind of offer to accept blame or at least part of it. In very much the same way I've always tried to find out what my children did before defending them. And even if they were right I prefer to advice them to stay away from trouble mongers.

So that was a long list. I promised to make my post short. Please wish me luck next time. As for now to quote a character in a Stephen King's novel 'Done, bun, cannot be undone'.

To tag others-

I think I'll tag those who've been quiet for sometime now.

I tag Dipali, Hillgrandmom, Lalitha of across the miles, Srijith Unni and Sumana.

Get going all of you.
As for me I have another tag to do before I get busy helping my daughter to relocate.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Unconditional Love and motherhood.

I felt like writing something about motherhood on Mother's day when I chanced upon Shoba's piece on unconditional love and decided to combine the two. Motherhood is defined as love personified and to a good extent it is unconditional. But it is certainly not so in the true sense of the term. I, for one feel it should not be so for the simple reason that unconditional love for one's children makes one overlook their faults and unfortunately to the extent of endorsing them. Let me give you an example.

I had mentioned about Mr. S in this post of mine. Unfortunately he and his wife were blind to their child's faults and today the couple have no peace of mind thanks to the son. It breaks my heart to see him fold hands in front of his scooter, praying perhaps for the safety of his son. Yes, the son met with a major accident due to drunken driving and the middle class family had to shell out their life time savings to save him. Blindly supporting one's ward will not help and unfortunately it is the mother who chooses to do so and often ends up holding vital information even from the father until things spin out of control. Motherhood is also a responsibility and there is no harm laying down conditions if only they would serve to disciplune your child.

P was widowed at the age of 36 and the onus of raising four sons fell on her. Her husband, when alive was a prudent spender but upon his untimely death had left her a tidy sum of money in addition to gold and several acres of land. She decided that her sons would have the very best and anyone who warned her about her overspending became her enemy. The family literally ate the money away and within 10 years there was nothing left. Not to be put off she encouraged the sons to gamble and speculate and finally the boys became paupers with huge sums as loans to their credit. Their wives lost all the jewelry they got as dowry from their parents and were open in their criticism of the mother whom they held responsible. While I agree that one's love for his/her children should want them to have the very best it should be conditional to their means. If everyone who gambled and speculated made lots of money all our bookies would have closed shop long back.

K's mother loved her a lot. She never let her do even a minor chore in the house. When the daughter got married her love for the daughter was such that she'd visit the daughter almost every month and be fiercely protective of her to the extent of interfering in the couple's day to day affairs and finally it was not the son in law but the daughter who showed her the door. She was devastated but had only herself to blame for the situation.

This mother's day I would appeal to all mothers to set terms and conditions if you want your child to mature into responsible adults. You may spare the rod by all means,for nothing has ever been achieved by terrorizing people. There are umpteen other ways to show that you care a lot for them but you also have certain expectations from them and being responsible human beings tops the list. Remember, if things go wrong you are the one who will be blamed.

I had the pleasure of going through a number of posts on the tag that connected mothers from all over the world. Each one was unique and special. Many wrote about how happy they were to hold their baby for the first time and how they watched him/her grow and so many other things. Motherhood is all about letting go.

Your child at the age of one wants to be let down to play with others of his age. You gladly oblige.

Your child runs off to school waving to his friends. You are glad that he has found a play group.

Your children stop talking the minute you enter the room. They have secrets that they do not wish to share with you. It hurts but you accept the situation all the same.

Your adult daughter/son has found a partner or may be you have found one for them. Either way they are ready to enter the next important phase of their lives. It becomes imperative to become invisible unless the situation demands that you interfere. And the reason for your interferance better be valid. The relationship cannot evolve with you breathing down their necks.

So at the end of it mother hood is about being conditional when your children are growing and unconditional when they settle down in life. One just has to decide where to draw the line.

Happy Mother's day to all of you moms and supermoms!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Karma Philosophy.

Troubles come in battalions and one tends to feel all is lost. They are like thunder clouds that darken the sky and there is gloom in the air. But then there is a downpour and it is all bright and sunny again. Do we wish away thunderstorms and torrential rains? Of course we don’t. It is only on the rarest of occasions that torrential rains cause havoc in the form of floods and the human race is such that even after a tsunami people muster courage and start anew.

Take for instance Mr. T who faced a tsunami like situation some 10 years back. He lost his older brother to a major heart attack although he went for routine annual check ups and no heart trouble was ever detected. The brother was in fact a father figure since Mr. T lost his mother at an early age and it was his brother who took care of his emotional health ever since his father remarried and a step mother arrived on the scene. He hardly got over his brother’s death when the company he worked for decided to forcibly retire some of its employees and he was one among the unlucky few. With four children studying, two in high school and two in college, the family was devastated. Lay offs were not common but his organization was trying to reduce its work force, thanks to automation and computer technology. They dared not touch the workers with a solid union support. Officers were the affected ones and their services could be terminated on the slightest pretext. Everyone seemed to write Mr. T off. His wife stood by his side like a rock and the family managed to tide through troubled times. The children rose to the occasion and are doing very well in life thanks to their combined effort.

Mr. P likewise thought all was lost when following a mild heart attack he was asked to go for a bypass surgery. He was a teacher by profession and our government seems to think that teachers do not fall ill. He got a medical allowance Rs. 20/- quite enough to buy 2 strips of paracetamol or asprin but certainly not sufficient for financing costly medical treatment. His son had just joined his MBA and he had exhausted all his savings for his admission to the course. His wife again rose to the occasion. The extended family helped as much as they could. 16 years have gone by and today the family is up on its feet with the son and daughter happily married. Friendly loans have been repaid and the truma they faced is now a thing of the past.

My own sister in law suffered a stroke and was on ventilator for nearly a month. Finance was not a major issue but with a weak heart and an urgent need to have a valve replacement things did not look bright. It was sheer will power that saw her through and today she has recovered sufficiently and is well enough to direct the servants. She is once again the supporting wife she had always been.

I can give so many similar examples where a traumatic turn of events for whatever reason depresses the spirit of a family but the revolving wheels of time sees to it that a cold winter is soon followed by a cheerful spring and summer. After the initial shock one gathers strength and fights back.

When my father passed away one heard relatives saying that my mother would have been better off if the two younger children had not been born. She could have got the daughters married and lived with the older son. Now the younger two had not even begun school and were an added responsibility. Logical enough but I’d feel outraged and fiercely protective about my kid brothers. Now I realize that the responsibility of having two children to care for actually gave my mother a good reason to lead a purposeful life. She was visually challenged and was almost blind for the last 10-12 years of her life. She had stopped reading and writing long back. But her mental sharpness was immense. She’d remember details about when the interest from fixed deposits were due, what her bank balance should be at any given time, the amount that she last withdrew and god knows what else. She lived to see all of us settled and spent her final years surrounded by doting grandchildren and dutiful sons and daughters in law.

Why should people suffer at all, I wonder. There are explanations of the sins of past births and the balancing of karma. They say that the sins of our ancestors have to be accounted for and just as the son is expected to pay off the father’s debt we suffer due to the misdeeds of our forefathers. All this is fine and help one to find reason to fight back. As long as one is not directly accused and the blame lies on an unknown ancestor one seems motivated to get on with life. I have a different explanation to offer. I do not know of past or future births or the good/bad deeds of my ancestors. But I do know that just as spring cannot be appreciated unless winter precedes it, the good things we are bestowed with cannot be appreciated unless the possibility/ probability of bad times was either experienced or foreseen. I wonder if there is any other explanation.