Dew Drops

Reflections from the River of Life


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The Anklets

There on the table lay the admission letter from the most prestigious dance school in Thanjavur. My most cherished dream.

I held that envelope closely as tears rolled down my cheeks. They fell on the letters on the envelope and the ink spread out making the written word incomprehensible. Was it a sign? A gesture?

If Appa was here, he would have wiped them off saying, “Achu, these are precious pearls. My only asset. Don’t waste them over such silly matters.

I miss him every day. I have missed him all along. Every single day of these past eight years. But today, I miss him the most. If he was there he would have handled all of this beautifully.

This has been my dream ever since I was in school. And it is almost about to come true.

I scored well in my boards. But my heart resided in the beads of those anklets that I worship deeply. My anklets.

Ghungroo

But Amma…she never wanted me to wear them. She got furious whenever I danced. She has big dreams for me. Since the day the entrance results were out, she has been going around proudly announcing it to everyone from the milkman, to the vegetable vendor, to the temple priest to Nitya’s great grandmother. She has ensured that everybody in the village was aware of her daughter’s stunning performance.

She wants me to take admission in one of the most prestigious universities in India. Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) in Hyderabad. She has been working really hard to arrange the fees and to get the telephone numbers of distant relatives who can be my local guardian in that new city.

But I have some other plans for myself. How do I convey this to her? Will she understand? Will she be heartbroken? Will she blame me?

I have spent an entire week thinking about this. But today the rain has somehow brought a lot of clarity about what I want from life. It is time that I face it. It is time that she faces it.

I slowly got up and reached the doorway to her room. Just when I was about to step in I heard her talking to someone. I peeped in. She was on the phone. She was telling that she would reach on time like always. I was curious. I rushed quietly to the living room and picked up the receiver of the extension. I heard him say,

Ambika, the customers are now fed up. They need variety. They don’t like plain, bland items. They need fresh products. Think about my offer. Bring her on. Abhirami must replace you. I’ll take her to her dream city Hyderabad. I promise.”

Amma’s gasps were audible from the other end. She begged him again and again. But he disconnected.

It was 10.30 p.m. and I was still walking up and down the length of my room unable to decipher what the conversation was all about.

And then I heard the horn of a car from outside our house. I was about to get out of my room when I saw a fully dressed Amma going out of the house. She was dressed in red instead of the white saree I have always seen her in ever since Appa’s death. She was wearing jasmine flowers on her hair. As she walked slowly, I could hear the sound of her anklets.

Amma returned by three in the morning. Just in time to avoid the early risers of the village. Her eyes were wet with tears. Her hands trembling. She entered her room and closed the door. I could not stop myself. I peeped in through the keyhole. Amma folded her hands and closed her eyes as she sat down on her knees. She broke down. “How can I let her get into this even for a night? I have suffered quietly for so long just to take care of her. Only so that she gets a good respectful life. And now how can I throw her in front of those lustful eyes? Tell me. How do I save her from all this?” She was speaking to Appa’s garlanded photo on the wall.

*********************

Dusk falls. I walked into my room. It is pouring. Must be His blessings. Or may be His tears.

The window is open. Tiny droplets of rain that are falling on the grills are getting splashed all around the room. Few of them manage to reach my hands that are shivering and my face that is engrossed in thoughts.

Should I or should I not?

Amma couldn’t stop her tears when she saw me dressed up just like her with my anklets on. She begged me not to do this. She kept repeating that she will find a way out. It was just for one night; I thought to myself as I entered the car that was waiting outside.


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Accepting Failure

Failure is the Stepping Stone to Success.

A quote we have been listening to ever since we were kids. A quote we have all been made to learn by heart. But I doubt if many of us were taught what it truly meant. It means…

…if a person fails once, he should not lose heart. He must observe the mistakes that led to the failure and try to overcome them in his next attempt. Repeated efforts lead to one to success. Life is a long journey and in the course of life and career, one has to face many ups and downs. One can meet several troubles and obstacles on the way of life but should not be disheartened on these situations. Sometimes one gets a success and sometimes failure. Failures give a better point of view through which we can march our way onto success. So we should always regard failure as the first step or stepping stone to success.

Yesterday, we heard about the untimely demise of the son of one of our long time acquaintances. A suicide. The boy was 20-21 years old and had been under treatment for severe depression for the past five-six years. Mom has taught him when he was in school and recalls that he was always alone and never had any friends. She wanted me to accompany her to his house. But I could not gather enough courage to face the parents, so I refused. It must be so hard for them to accept child loss. I haven’t seen him for years now and yet it shook me up. He had left a suicide note which claimed that no one was responsible for his death and that he had lot of problems which he was unable to tackle. He also requested to donate all his organs.

I have been reading about and witnessing lot of cases of depression in young children and teens and it pains to see them suffer. If we delve deep who are we to blame for this? I believe it is all of us. The parents. The teachers. The society. We have stopped lending a helping hand to those in need. We have stopped being empathetic to people who suffer. We have stopped being kind and compassionate. Instead we have started to ostracize them as if they are infected by a deadly communicable disease. And I believe this exclusion, this feeling of being banished or left alone is what provokes them to take such extreme steps.

Depression is not something that affects only adults. Increasingly more and more children and teenagers are becoming victims of depression. 

Primary reasons for depression in children are:

  • Highly competitive atmosphere
  • Worry of peer acceptance
  • Bullying at school or college
  • Poor grades or failure in examinations
  • Abusive atmosphere at home
  • And most importantly the inability to accept failure or defeat

Childhood is supposed to be the happiest phase of life. But is it so? Do children have enough freedom? Do they have a worry-free atmosphere? Are they not subjected to teasing or bullying? Childhood is great, but it is certainly not worry-free! We all had our share of fights with friends, our share of sadness and shed tears more often than we can remember. No one, no matter how old or how successful, is immune to sadness. Everybody hurts. Everyone is susceptible to depression.

Most of us believe that children have nothing to worry about and keep giving them advice on how they must have an aim in life or how they must focus on their life ahead. What we do not accept is that the child may already have his/her share of burdens to tackle with. And it is sad considering how much we can help them as parents to be happy.

We have forgotten to teach them to enjoy a moment for what it is. We have forgotten to teach them to be thankful for the little joys in life. We have forgotten to showcase an atmosphere of love, kindness and compassion. Instead we help them in adding on to their already brimming basket of worries.

If a child fails or gets a poor grade, as a parent do show your displeasure. But also tell them that it’s alright to fail sometimes and they must accept it as a challenge to do better the very next time. Also, accept a child for what they are. Not every child is the same. Nor are their abilities to tackle problems however big or small. Don’t expect them to change overnight for the sake of your high ambitions and aspirations. Not everyone can be a Bill Gates, or a Sania Mirza, or a Sachin Tendulkar, or an Arundhati Roy. Be empathetic. If you scold, they must be aware that you do it out of love. Never leave the room or the child without sorting out or making up. This is applicable to all individuals. Differences are bound to be there between any two individuals. But for a healthy relationship, you ought to accept the differences and move on instead of brooding over it.

Studies show a steep increase in such cases of childhood depression in the last decade. A lot can be attributed to the lonely lifestyle contributed by nuclear families that opt to have a single child, lack of friends to confide in as parents out of scare do not let the child mingle with children in the neighbourhood and the pressure of studies owing to a highly competitive corporate culture.

Any unexplained change in your child’s behavior must be looked into. These could include mood swings, anger or temper tantrums, lack of sleep, continued sadness, loss of appetite, loss of interest in friends and activities etc. Your presence, your words, your support might help the child get through with it. Some simple steps that we as parents can do:

  1. Communication is the key. Talk to your child whenever possible. Be their friend.
  2. Provide them comfort. They must feel comfortable coming to you with their problems.
  3. Gain their trust so that they confide in you.
  4. Discipline, but don’t scare. You don’t need to shout to make a child know the difference between right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. Give logical reasons. It helps better in understanding and many a times helps them think of an altogether different reason.
  5. Your presence. Laugh with them. Play with them. Learn with them. Spend as much quality time as you can with them.

 

Remember to teach them that to err is human. And there is no problem in this world that cannot be solved.

And if after all this you still feel that the child has a deeper problem that he/she is unable to discuss with you, take professional help. It’ll help the child if he/she knows that his discussions will be confidential. He/she may reveal the actual problem without much hesitation with the professional counsellor or psychiatrist. There is nothing wrong in consulting a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is nobody but a certified doctor/specialist who will help you with an illness just like a physician helps you recover from fever.

 

This is a beautiful quote I found the other day while going through this wonderful piece, Why Your Worst Doesn’t Define You? Do read it.

Linking this post to 1000 Speak for Compassion – July Subject – Acceptance.

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Theory of Relatives

“The laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and the speed of light within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels.”

…said Albert Einstein in his Theory of Relativity.

I always wanted to do a B.Sc. (Physics) but for my PCB score which dropped by a few points. Thanks to my excessive love for this favourite subject – Chemistry, if not for the viva scores I would have flunked in it. The organic and inorganic chemistry lectures were no less than a death sentence. I died every time carbon molecules attached themselves to other molecules, especially hydrogen. And a whiff of sulphuric acid in the lab made me throw up every single chemistry lesson I had learned till then. To add to it was the brutality subjected by Kidwai Sir’s shayari (poetry)Wah! Wah! The entire class would applaud while I sat there looking for clues on where I was and what was going around.

But Physics. It was that one subject which made me want to attend school. The experiments, the various results and their interpretations. They fascinated me. And Einstein was my secret love till the day I saw his picture hanging on the walls of Physics Lab. Heart broke. Love died a thousand deaths. But I pledged to devise one of my own theory in this lifetime. And I did it.

Albert_Einstein_HeadAlbert Einstein (Picture courtesy: Wikipedia)

Theory of Relatives

The love from your relatives is directly proportional to your success, your assets and your bank balance. The second part of this theory states that their support (read interference) is indirectly proportional to your need. Of course, we cannot generalize. There are exceptions. But majority falls into this category.

DISCLAIMER: My theory is a work of ingenuity and fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. ;-)

Relatives lend a helping hand when you least need it. They poke their nose in your everyday affairs as if to taste and check salt in a dish. Offering unsolicited advice is their strength. Turning the simplest of situations into a complex war is their Sun Tzu art. If you ever make a mistake of helping once, you are taken for granted for a lifetime!

You don’t score a CGPA 10? They sulk more than you and your parents. You opt for Fine Arts instead of Engineering or Medical? They are the ones who get worried about your future. You marry out of caste and become an outcast. Thanks to them. They are capable of results that your actions can’t afford to bring. Your father’s blood pressure increases not because you chose your partner. But because of your relatives beating chests and wailing at the top of their voice as if the world has come to an end.

“What? You allow your daughter to wear shorts. This is not our sanskaar (culture).”

“Dance classes? He should focus on his studies. Only that can get him good dahej (dowry) in the marriage market.”

“19-year old Chintu has a mobile? Baba re baba, you are ruining his life. Mark my words, he’ll marry without your permission.

“Your bahu (daughter-in-law) doesn’t wear a ghunghat (veil) on her head? She doesn’t even touch your feet first thing in the morning? Ghor kalyug! Your old age is bound to be spent in a vridhashram (old-age home).”

“Six months into marriage and Dolly hasn’t conceived yet? Her in-laws will send her back for sure. Everyone expects a waaris (heir).”

Relatives. Most family feuds are fuelled by these God-sent angels. They have different rules for you and their own families. Who cares if you don’t take them seriously! They will still continue to “care” for you.

As the Danish proverb goes,

Relatives are the worst friends, said the fox as the dogs took after him.

Thank God we can choose our friends!

And when Robert Downey Jr said, “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the F you were gonna do anyway.” he must be thinking of relatives only!

Jokes apart, life wouldn’t have been fun without them.

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