Dew Drops

Reflections from the River of Life


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Amma, now I understand you.

 

My first English teacher, she is. My words, I owe her.

She taught me to be independent. She taught me to be brave. She taught me to stay committed. She taught me to take the right path, however difficult. Her name, ‘Sathyam’ which means truth. Truthful just like her

Mom. Amma as I address her.

Born and brought up in a small town in Kerala, she went to a convent school. She went on to become a B.Sc., B.Ed. while her cousins were all married and ‘settled’ with two or three children by the age of twenty. She got married to Achan (my father) immediately after joining B.Ed. and they stayed apart for a year so she could complete her course.

A year after she joined Achan, she was selected as a Primary School Teacher in a Government Aided School in the NCT of Delhi, but all of five weeks I was present in her womb when the medical test was conducted. In short, she lost two years of service because of me. She joined the school when I was one (thirty-five years ago) and continues to teach hundreds of students every year.

She meets many of her ex-students at various functions or at the temple and she makes it a point to remember their name and some of the incidents associated with their childhood. Initially, every single time someone came up and touched her feet, we felt awkward. We felt awkward because we didn’t realize the importance of a teacher in a student’s life. We felt awkward because we felt insecure. Amma has always addressed her students as ‘ente makkal’ which translates to ‘my children’. As kids, we were always annoyed with this expression. But she never changed it. A toffee we were sure to get only if she had decided to distribute a packet in her class.

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For a major part of our childhood we were brought up by Amma single-handedly as Achan had taken up a foreign assignment which stretched over a decade. She was strict, yet convincing. She loved me, but rarely expressed. She cared for, but I never understood. With my cousin brother, my uncle and my aunt staying with us for years and my ever-cranky and always ill little sis, Amma never had much time for me. Or she thought I was old enough and I understood. I loved summer vacations, but only the train journey. During the journey, she was my mother. She would share stories from her childhood, from our childhood. She would share life lessons her big girl must know. She would talk to me endlessly. Once she was in Kerala, she would mostly be busy attending my bed-ridden grandmother and preparing her ayurvedic medicines or taking us to various relatives.

Recently, I had a conversation with my sis about Amma and she started laughing. I told her that I still am not clear if I connect with Amma the way I should. I told her how I never got a chance because of her (sis) clinging on to Amma for everything all her life. I told her how I disliked one of my aunts for not even letting me sleep next to mom after Achan’s posting abroad. I don’t know if she ever realized, but I missed Amma more than Achan even though she was physically present. And maybe that’s why I never spoke to her about my decision to marry the person I loved. She was the silent spectator of my discussions with Dad regarding the love of my life. I never thought it appropriate to go and talk to her about any of my problems. At times I wonder why I never wrote a letter to her just like I wrote to Achan.

Even with all this imaginary distance, it is from her that I learnt most of life’s important lessons. Like,

  • Why we must learn to forgive and forget.
  • Why it is important to let go of your ego to maintain relationships.
  • Why we must not procrastinate.
  • How to fearlessly accept your mistake and apologise.
  • When to stand up for yourself and others.
  • Doing what you love to do irrespective of what others think of you.
  • How to remain content with what we have and not fall for competition.

My grandparents died. Amma and Achan have helped all their siblings settle down. I got married. My sister got married and settled abroad. Most of her responsibilities have been taken care of. Now, she has all the time in the world for me. But I have a family to attend to. I have my in-laws to take care of too. Many a times I do not give her enough time. And at these times, I realize why she couldn’t give me much time when I was young. She never complains. But I do feel bad for her. She calls me at least ten to fifteen times a day and the questions are repetitive.

How are you?

What are you doing?

Had breakfast/lunch/dinner?

How is your husband?

How are the children?

What are they doing?

All she wants to know is that we are fine.

Sometimes I do not answer her call. Not deliberately. But because I’m busy preparing breakfast or I’m busy teaching the girls for their exams or I’m busy cleaning the house. Sometimes I get irritated because of my anxiety disorder and my husband has to bring me back to senses. And at night, when everyone has slept and everything has been taken care of, I think. I think and I regret. Sometimes I silently weep. Wasn’t this the time I had waited all my life for? Wasn’t this what I missed all my life? And now how am I treating her? I wish she understands. I wish she forgives me. I wish I speak to her about it someday.

Love you lots, Amma!

I hope to spend some good time with her as she retires this September after 36 years of dedicated service as an educator.

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This post is written for #MyFirstExpert Story, sponsored by Godrej Expert and hosted by IndiBlogger.

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#ArunaShanbaug – Another Chapter Closed Without a Pinch of Remorse or Regret

Aruna Shanbaug

Who was she? Just another human being whom I have never met. Were we related to each other? No. Not at all. Do I feel for her? Yes. She never got justice. I have always felt miserable imagining what if I were in her situation. Or a loved one was. A simple eve-teasing episode leaves you disturbed for days. Then what must be the condition of people who suffer so much. Even the thought gives me goosebumps. Oh! But then she was brain dead. Right? Which means just a pound of flesh. Should her death affect me? Oh, come on! It’s just another “case” that is closed. Or is it? In any case, her death today on the 18th of March, 2015 is an occasion for celebration. Isn’t it?   Aruna1 You read that right. In her last few minutes of ‘being alive’, she helped the wretched Sohan Lal Valmiki celebrate. Celebrate what? Celebrate his revenge. Celebrate his ruthlessness. Celebrate his brutality. Celebrate his animal instincts. When her journalist/author friend Pinki Virani lost her plea for euthanasia, she helped the doctors and nurses of KEM hospital celebrate it as her rebirth and a reward for their unconditional love and care. And today when she died, she has helped humanity celebrate it with open eyes. BMC which had plans of moving her out of the hospital to free the bed that she was occupying has a reason to celebrate. Isn’t it? All of us have a reason to celebrate. For she fought for each of us even in her vegetative state. As Pinki Virani said, “Because of this woman who has never received justice, no other person in a similar position will have to suffer for more than three and a half-decades.” [Source: Wikipedia]

42 years

How long is that? Do we know. I’m just three and a half decades old. And that itself seems like eternity. This woman suffered for 42 long years. All this while her attacker continues to live amongst us. I don’t know if curses work. But if they do, I wish that entire humanity curses him. He should rot and continue to live. He should suffer and remember her helpless face every second. He should pay for his sins.

I had read this piece by Telegraph immediately after it was published in March 2011. I wish I hadn’t. I read it again today. I wish I hadn’t. How many lives are affected by a single person’s sins…
I was the first one to find Aruna in the empty operation theatre in this hospital’s basement after she had been raped and brutally assaulted by that animal Sohan Lal (Valmiki). She was sitting, leaning against a stool with a dog-chain around her neck. There was blood around her. I ran out and brought the matron. As soon as she saw matron Bellimal, her eyes welled up and tears streamed down her face. She tried to say something but could not… only her lips moved. And then, slowly she lost consciousness,” remembers Pramila Kushe.
She survived. But how? I wish she had survived to describe the assault and get the monster tried for rape. And then I think it was better this way. At least she doesn’t know anything. She doesn’t realize anything. She doesn’t see anything. She doesn’t feel anything. Who gets punished for rape (however brutal) in India?
Pinki Virani murdabad.. Pinki Virani ke liye iccha maut (mercy killing)… Aruna Shanbaug zindabad.
Was Pinki Virani wrong in pleading for mercy killing for Aruna? I’m no expert in human rights. But I feel she did what she thought was right. And she did it with all her heart and without any bad intentions.
Was the Supreme Court wrong? It wasn’t. I do believe that crimes happen in every part of the world. But, in a country like India, where trials upon trials and delayed dates ensure complete security to criminals, a judgement on mercy killing was indeed impossible. People would have used it for their benefit without a second thought for money and power.
So thorough was the care she got over the four decades that she was bed-ridden, that Ms Shanbaug did not get bed sores, a fact noted by the Supreme Court in its landmark judgement of 2011, rejecting a petition to stop force feeding her. [Source: NDTV]
Were the nurses wrong in celebrating the Supreme Court verdict? I don’t know. We all would have wanted the same if it was one of our loved ones. Survive as long as they can, in whatever state.
As I read this post from Firstpost this morning, somehow I was happy. She is finally in a better place.

Aruna Shanbaug passes away: A unbearable agony and injustice comes to an end

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Mother’s Day

Rekha @ Dew Drops:

For all woman…mothers or not. #MustRead

Originally posted on The Belle Jar:

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This post is for my mother. This is in recognition of the countless hours of unpaid labour she did and continues to do for my sisters and I. This post is an acknowledgement of the fact that I have taken her for granted; she’s given her time and energy to me so freely and generously that it wasn’t until I had my own child that I understood how much this must have personally cost her. She is someone whose love and support I can rely on even when she disagrees with the choices I make.

This post is for all the people who work in childcare and are underpaid because what they do is undervalued by our society. This is for the folks – mostly women – who are often offered minimum wage or less to nurture, engage, educate and love a child.

This post is for all the people who are helping me…

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