In Defence Of Sons

During a ‘Daughters Day,’ I came across an opinion “A daughter is not a tension, she is equal to 10 sons”, the statement being too strong it set me thinking how far it is justified.

This opinion must have come from the depths of the heart of a parent whose son heartlessly abandoned his parents in the twilight years of their lives.

The reason is that daughters generally do have a soft spot in their hearts for those who brought them up giving them their own and never living their own lives to the full. This being the case they voluntarily offered to do the needful as their guardian angels.

The parents too are in my opinion accountable to some extent for the callous behavior of the sons who are more often than not pampered silly throughout from their childhood to even to adulthood. Apart from their natural affection for the sons there lurks the justifiable hope that they will be the staff they can hold on to in the instability of their old age.

This does not always work, unfortunately. This pampering results in the sons becoming full of themselves and completely self-absorbed that little room is left for them to have sensitive feelings towards others, especially the parents whom they take for granted.

Apart from their natural affection for the sons there lurks the justifiable hope that they will be the staff they can hold on to in the instability of their old age. This does not always work, unfortunately.

This pampering results in the sons becoming full of themselves and completely self-absorbed that little room is left for them to have sensitive feelings towards others, especially the parents whom they take for granted.

Without the least thought of giving them back their well deserved affectionate care and respect.

I am not blind to what is happening in our society. sons in many cases change beyond belief once they get married, sometimes in the initial years itself snapping their ties with their parents without any tricks of conscience leave alone qualms of it, all gradually drifting apart permanently. In both situations the pain caused is unfathomable.

While reckoning all this, one should not lose sight that there still exists sons who do show filial love and gratitude till the end.

Married sons in a joint family are challenged with a tight rope walking, balancing the interests of their wives and parents, belonging as they do to different generations and backgrounds do not make a homogeneous group.

That being the case, clashes occur at times. The sons in such situations find themselves in a vexing dilemma. But if they are prudent, they sort out the issues in time so as to prevent them from snowballing into bigger issues that may ultimately lead to separation. The efforts of such sons are really exemplary and laudable.

In this connection, I venture to assert that all daughters are not affection and warmth personified.

I have come across daughters who cleverly try to avoid attending to their parents in their hour of need when the responsibility of looking after them falls on their shoulders when certain unavoidable circumstances arise.

Even if they let them live in their families they are made to feel they are a nuisance, a burden, a pain in the neck they are forced to put up with. They too do not hesitate to leave their parents under the roof of an old age home.

Once the parents have outlived their utility when they would like them to be out of sight as they are already out of mind. They like to be rid of all responsibility so that the even tenor of their lives will remain undisturbed.

While eulogizing the daughters as angels incarnate let us not bitterly demonise sons en masse. To put this in other words placing daughters on a high pedestal let the sons be not pulled down drastically.

“A daughter is not a tension, she is equal to 10 sons”, I opine is a sweeping generalization, because there are exceptions in both cases.

 

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My Daughter- A Woman Of Substance

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Some said that it was clearly a case of “buri nazar” that brought about the disaster. Others were of the firm belief that only the Karma could account for it. But the unanimous opinion was that it was the sadistic play of irony, considering the way the voice that one and all loved to listen to was struck down cruelly one fateful day.

 

Here I am referring to the time when the great misfortune befell my daughter Pallavi, fondly called as “Pallo”, like a bolt from the blue 12 years ago, in the form of a rare neuro-muscular disease,  Myasthenia Gravis,  altering the smooth force of her live irretrievably.

 

Till then I had never seen eye to eye with the belief of nazar striking anyone hard all of a sudden. And the skeptic that I was, operation of Karma governing once life too had not found favour with me. But following this tragic turn of events I no longer scoff at them as they offer some kind of solace to my disturbed mind.

 

How can one otherwise account for when Pallavi’s career at its peak as the most popular RJ of Radio Mirchi whose Bumper to Bumper has recall value even after 12 years.

 

One of my friends recollected how exhilarating it was travelling back home in the car, after a hard day’s work in the office listening to her show Bumper to Bumper, which she conducted in a style of her own, a chatter which had stimulating content.

 

Among the countless fans she had, Kapil Dev who conveyed his accolades to her on the phone could be counted. All of them were deeply disappointed wondering if anybody else could measure upto her place. Why did the voice that ruled the air go off it permanently was what they wondered.

 

Her voice which clued Radio listeners to “Mirchi” was severely affected by Myasthenia Gravis whose “grave” that is very serious symptoms included slur of speech, severe breathlessness, acute weakness, inability to chew food and swallow water which would at times trickle down from the nose, drooping of eyes that disfigured the face completely. Click here to read her full story.

 

She was entrusted to the care of Apollo Hospital, where she is still under medical care even though she now much better. The drugs have been too many and too strong, the most dreaded one being the steroids, notoriously known as the “necessary evil”.

 

The alarming side-effects of the drugs are so many that I feel the remedy too is to an extent match the severity of the malady to certain extent. High blood pressure, hazardous dips in sugar levels, totally sleepless nights for weeks and months, ghastly frequent falls, a few of them being getting thrown meters away with a thud loud enough to be heard in the other room, were in the course of the treatment.

 

Three major surgeries followed by chemotherapies, two highly critical phases where complete surrender to the Almighty seeing the only way to recovery, the weak to fortnights stays in the ICU punctuated her woeful life. Being under ventilators had become a routine.

 

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Her life before the illness was very eventful, having excelled in whatever she took interest in and pursued passionately, whether it be Bharatnatyam, Newsreader on Radio and Television, as a reader in Aap ki Adalat, writing and directly street plays, being named as “Miss. Geography”, being a topper in B.A. in Kamala Nehru College and the South Campus. She had won over all the students during her 5 year teaching stint at St. Mary’s School, before she took up voice-over as a career.

 

But amazingly, her achievements after her ordeal have been even more impressive. Her finishing a half marathon after the first major surgery was no mean a feat.

 

There are in this chronic illness phases that are known as “remissions” when the symptoms almost disappear almost totally. At such times she is at her active best. She ventures to other cities on office work and pleasure trips. Even though generally, her exerting too much is fraught with danger.

 

ICU Love Stories”, which she penned while convalescing in the ICU, observing the lives of the inmates she was surrounded by is a tale of its own. It shows the sensitive perception of an author she is gifted with. This ability of hers stirred many.

 

Contributing her bit to Radio Mirchi and the society as Group Head CSR, these achievements have really done me proud. But what I find really amazing about her has been the calmness in her stoic outlook on life, making the best of a bad bargain and making the most of what remains of her not so normal life.

 

Never did she lament her fate, self-pity has been conspicuous by its absence in her thought, speech or actions. She would always show a smiling face to me well aware as she was of what a life of agony, I as a mother was going through.

Anyone else in her pathetic situation would have wallowed in self-pity. Once she overheard me, pouring out to a friend of mine, “Why has God singled out my innocent daughter only to inflict on her such a dreaded disease which only a handful out of a lakh are affected with?” At this she became furious with me and admonished me for such negativism.

 

No fear of the unknown, living each day as it comes, going with the flow, forgiving and moving on, counting ones blessings, gratitude for all one has, are the guiding principles of her life.

 

Thanks to her will-power coupled with good medical care she is facing life boldly and cheerfully. Her never-say-die spirit in the face of a near fatal disease that she displays is simply remarkable. As the CSR head of Radio Mirchi her commendable innovative work have won her a number of awards.  Going to office occasionally and doing office work from home, she spends her leisure creatively, drawing, painting, changing the décor of the house, entertaining guests and more importantly blogging and writing stories.

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What is the stuff she is made of? A steely will and a positivism of a very high order. Her personality is summed up in the words “a woman of substance” award she received this year on Women’s International Day.

 

 

 

 

Dowry deaths are a phenomena that occur with regularity in our country in families that are poor or effluent, educated or uneducated.

As long as there is greed that is fed by the “self imposed helplessness” of the girls parents one can see no signs of this monstrous custom called dowry becoming less frequent.

Come to think of it, one wonders how can parents, brothers and sisters of the dowry victim can be absolved of shirking their bounden duty of saving the girl’s life when they know she has been suffering for long who then either commit suicide or is tortured to death in a diabolical household.

Especially in cases where the innocent girl tearfully entreats her father for years to give her emotional support and practical help and he fails to offer it apprehensive of societal pressure the members of her maternal family stand morally accused.

Giving the daughter high education is no doubt praiseworthy. But the responsibility of the parents does not end as when they say proudly “we have married her off, now we can breathe easy free from any worry about her future”. This ideally should not be the case. They should make sure that she is in the right place where there is no dowry harassment, domestic violence and round the clock slavery.

The most disturbing case of Neha Rastogi, a fully accomplished woman of today is a stark example of how a daughter due to the so called “Indian conditioning” waited years before taking the decision to divorce her sociopath husband.

At the first sign of dowry harassment reported by the daughter, the father should immediately take steps to nip it in the bud. And if the situation goes of control, without giving a damn to the society, proceedings for divorce should be undertaken.

Sangeeta Verma, a highly qualified school teacher, with a M. Sc. B.Ed from Ghaziabad, who was thrown acid on by her averashious husband, sustained 90% burns, blamed her own father to whom she was apparently complaining for15 years. Had he responded to her pleas, this tragedy could have been averted.

There are ofcourse instances where the suffering girl herself keeps her parents in the dark about her misery as she sensitively feels that their peace should not be disturbed in their old age.

But the parents should from the beginning be vigilant enough trying to find out how things have been working out in her relation with her husband and her in-laws in a joint family.

Shedding buckets full of tears and banging their heads against the wall with sorrow and guilt after the tragic event, in no where lessens the magnitude of their act of omission in a matter of life and death.

How ghastly the torturing for dowry can be, years ago in Bombay, I witnessed as a young girl, in a flat facing ours. A hulk of a man standing in the balcony threw his young pregnant wife to the floor and started kicking and stamping on her body while his mother stood still by him watching the torture with suppressed glee. The toddler, their child, was watching this act with a very frightened look.  This was all in full view of the neighbours who did nothing to save the situation.

A few days later the accursed girl bid goodbye to this world. The cause of her death being stated by the family as ” getting burnt while cooking on the stove”.

Not very long afterwards, the man got another wife to the shock of everyone.

I was a young girl then. I am touching 80 years now. Sadly, not much seems to have changed.

 

 

Youth and Old Age

 

Old age is the stage when one hankers not after luxurious goods

But only harbours the hope of hearing a few sweet words

Alas, the fulfilment of this wish often remains elusive

For the youth of the day have their own life to live

For us the ancients, they have little of no time to spare

So conversations with them becomes ever so rare

We the dull oldies are woefully ignorant of the current in thing

Hence, in the eyes of the smarties, we are simply nothing.

 

Our eager queries seldom fetch in reply not more than a monosyllable

We unnecessarily talk to them they think, because we have no work, we are idle

Our words of advice, (if we dare give it) fall on deaf ears

They are sure they are mature beyond their years

Every poser is answered after a long pause, maybe to curb our urge to talk more

Fearing our insipid chat?

Our normal talk is to them a source of irritation

For which we fail to see any rhyme or reason

The best way therefore is to keep mum

Taking in our stride their every fancy and whim.

 

This indifferent attitude of theirs is sometimes hard to endure

But they still love us about which we are very sure.

 

 

Published in ‘Harmony’, June 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Was Called A Crow

 

Swara Bhaskar has written that when she was born the first question her dadi asked was if the newborn was dark. The scenario has not changed drastically even today.

I have observed that many a girl, to a greater or lesser degree, suffers from a deep rooted complex about her dark complexion thanks to the hurtful remarks she has grown up listening to.

The demeaning comments, made directly or indirectly, right in front or behind her back consist of nicknames like, crow, negress, buffalo,  coal miner, kali kaluti, guarantee colour.

Well, these are old hat. No novelty or originality in these. Here is a bunch of out of the ordinary observations. A dark complexioned college girl whom I adore for her sociability, smartness and charming manners, tells me how over the years she has developed an immunity to comments that have come out from those who have no qualms of conscience while belittling someone who is dark complexioned. In between bouts of giggling, this girl named Rohini narrated to me, an amused listener, the comments that stand out for their creativity.

Once when she wore diamond studs a classmate told her that she looked pretty alright adorned by them and the diamonds too stood to gain as they dazzled with more brilliance against the ‘black’ background!

Another gem of a remark fell into the same category. A friend told her that she admired her sparkling white teeth and the pearlies appeared more lustrous when she smiled, the colour of her skin being responsible for it. By far the most picturesque comment that takes the cake was when Rohini was plainly told that in the dark it was difficult to spot her as her negro colour got completely merged in it.

This was too much of an insult for Rohini to bear, whose power of endurance had exhausted completely by then. “Enough is enough,” she told herself. When she confided about this to her sincere friends they put the blame on her only for being spineless when she was not inferior to any of them in any way. “The next time you face this kind of a situation, give such crass creatures a mooh-tod jawaab without a moment’s hesitation.”

And luckily enough, there came an opportunity where she could avenge her insult boldly. A group of girls including Rohini was getting set to attend a party. One of the girls dared to advise her not to feel embarrassed or left out in the party on account of her being differently coloured. “Rest assured and worry not you must be knowing that stars like Smita Patil and Rekha are dark too, “ said she.

At this point a befitting, strongly worded reply flashed across Rohini’s mind. She replied, ” Keep your bloody advice to yourself. If these actors could achieve super stardom in a domain where looks matter much with their non-white complexion, I with my intelligence, capacity for hard work, good academic career can shine brilliantly in any field I am in a position to choose.”  She continued, ” By the way, ask anyone I am much more attractive than any of you. it is the green monster that is jealousy in you that manifests itself in the form of such stupid criticism.”

So goes the story of Rohini who now displays a couldn’t care less attitude towards some of the self appointed mentors whose dictates of dos and don’ts about the colour of her dresses, etc she defiantly ignores.

These so called mentors strictly monitor the color of her clothes by scrutinising her whole being from head to toe. One school of thought was of the opinion that she should never ever be seen in bright clothes as they look loud and garish on her whereas, opposite was the advice of the other school that earthy colours should scrupulously be avoided as they tended to make her skin duller.

Rohini now dresses up in the colours she loves. Not to make a point to them but simply because she loves those colours.

In this context I would like to add my own experience. My complexion is not dark. It is if at all is wheatish. Once when I went in for my palm coloured with mehendi, one of my so called friends cautioned me against it, for according to her I was dark.

I am sure that if you do not fall in the fair category so to say, you would have heard a comment or two on these lines sometime in your life. Do share the most obnoxious ones here and how it affected your being even if it were for just a while or if it left a lasting impression on your life.

So-black-that is the theme but the outlandish remarks are amazingly many hued!

 

The Journey

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THE JOURNEY

This was a journey in which I experienced only sorrow throughout.

I was travelling from Bombay to Delhi in a train many years ago. The cloudy atmosphere outside the train added more gloom to my grief caused by my losing one of my favourite brothers elder to me by several years close to a father figure. To my surprise a matronly looking woman and a puny fragile old man seated right in front of mine seemed to be in mourning too.

The two of them made such a depressing sight that I wanted to look away from them with a handkerchief held to her eyes, she sobbed intermittently, while the old man beside her had moist eyes. Even though I felt like avoiding looking at them, I could not resist seeing her face again and again; she was a splitting image of one of my close college friends with whom I had unfortunately lost touch with for quite a few years.

I thought it would be unnatural if I did not ask my co-passenger what made her uncontrollably sad. I brought myself to enquire sympathetically about the cause for her bitter crying.

In reply what I got to know was that she had lost her only sibling eight years younger than her just a few days ago when death descended on her in the form of a cardiac arrest. She was fit and had no history of any cardiac problem. She was a brilliant student, was holding a high post in the educational field and was doing her doctorate. She endeared herself to one and all by her warm and friendly nature.

“Even though she was so much younger than me she was of such a caring nature that she was like a guardian angel to me and looked after my aged father (sitting beside me) who had single-handedly brought the two of us following the death of my mother, in an exemplary manner, fully repaying the debt of filial gratitude. She did not bother to marry one of the reasons for opting to remain single was her worry for her father and me feeling lonely. I am a spinster, not by choice.”

Proceeding further in her tearful narration she told me with what flying colours she had passed out in her post graduation from the Bombay School of Economics and Sociology. At this moment I intuitively asked her the year in which she finished her the year in which she finished her post graduation. When I heard the year of her passing out, which was the same as mine, I at once connected the striking resemblance on t of this lady to my friend. “So, you are Kanta’s sister!” I exclaimed tears welling in my eyes at the thought of my dear friend’s demise.

“Arre, how do you know my sister’s name?” She questioned me, her melancholy expression momentarily changing one of intense surprise. “How can I forget her name since we were studying in the same class for M.A in Sociology for two years during which we grew very fond of each other? My name is Girija” I told her. “Oh, I remember her mentioning your name while talking about her classmates.”

Kanta’s sister sympathized with my bereavement. We were sailing the same boat, hence we could plumb the depth of each other’s sorrow. But her sorrow was much deeper. She had no sibling, no mother, had a decrepit old and ailing father who had of late turned somewhat of a recluse and not the least important factor, she was a spinster perhaps destined to remain single because of her age. In contrast, I had so many elder brothers and had a small happy family, living a normal life. She had little to look forward to. Loneliness loomed large before her.

She once again lost control of her emotions when she told me her father and she were going to Haridwar to immerse her sister’s mortal remains.

The journey came to an end. But a longer more arduous journey-of life-lay ahead. It had to be traversed bearing the void in our hearts with stoical resignation.

 

 

Aside

HOLI

 

 

 

 

 

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HOLI

This is a hilarious incident that has become a part of my memories of the Holi festival. Once in Bombay, right under my flight a group of Holi revellers, all kids, were at their most riotous, often getting scolded by passers-by for forcibly applying colours on them.

My granny of ripe old age, stood  near the window excitedly watching the boisterous fun of the naught children. In her hand she held a bottle of digestive mixture, deep pink in colour that she wa)s shaking vigorously. She was about to consume it when one of the children saw her doing so. Immediately, he screamed, saying “Nani khelna chahti hai.” (Grand mom wants to play) Now the entire group raised their heads to the first floor,

Two of them just rushed to our flat headed straight towards the window to my grand mother and applied gulal  to her sunken cheeks! We were really surprised to see my toothless granny without losing a moment pouring the carminative mixture on them!

She was poorer than a bottle of medicine but richer by the admirers she had gained by all this!