The Barren Trees and the Fading Sun Also Offer A Promise of Hope

The leafless branches of two tall and erect trees remind me of 1990 Satyajit Ray’s Bengali film Sankha Proshakha (Branches of a Tree). The film poignantly pairs the selfless love of a worthless son for his dying father with the three other corrupt and apparently successful sons of an ageing patriarch. The honest father is grieved to learn about the corrupt ways of his sons who have drifted apart for brighter prospects. The film’s portrayal of this slice of life is touching and sticks true to man’s perpetual struggle of trying to become a human.

empty nestThe birds will leave the nest but for human beings the value of relationships is strong and highly revered. Although the trees are bare, their roots are firmly in the ground. It is the parents who instil the right values in their children. As they grow the dependency on parents lessen. They don’t ask for a glass of water as they can themselves have one. Most often for higher studies and better prospects they move away from their cosy nest. Going out of the home town to other states or other countries have become a common phenomenon. As they settle in their respective places very few of them return. The lucrative lifestyle and monetary benefits cannot be evaded. The parents, if feasible, often visit their children. However, they are happy to be within their circles. The frequent journey for both the parents and the children soon become burdensome owing to age and health and responsibilities respectively.

Anita Desai’s A Devoted Son can be called to the mind. From my personal experience I can say such ‘devoted sons’ are unworthy and suffocating for the parents. The love and duties of the children are just eyewash. Their megalomaniac nature does not allow them to notice the helplessness and the silent tears of their parents. They openly blame, abuse and refuse their own parents. Despite suffering they only want them to be good and happy. The parents leave in their due time. Sometimes their forever departure opens their eyes. There is a popular Bengali song ‘old age home’ I cannot but miss bringing it here. How the parents still wish their children a ceiling fan in their old age homes in the future!

Since the roots of the trees are still deep inside the ground there is a promise for the trees to go lush green. The winter or the fall-autumn is a part of the natural cycle. Sometimes the wait is rewarding. The fresh new leaves appear in the form of grandchildren. However, most often the wait is futile, similar to Waiting for Godot. Need a proof? The old age homes are lavishly carrying out their business.

Another angle just like the film is the children diverting from the morally right values to gainfully wrong ones. Often an honest person gets trapped in the Ways of the World and gets labelled as dysfunctional. Some push aside their upbringings and resort to unfair means to play safe and bring happiness to their families.  This brings to my mind Sanjay Dutt starring Vaastav. Goons are not born but created by power hungry people. Often the exemplary honest parents fail but sometimes the falling of the leaves is the only acceptable reality.

dusk

The background of the twilight sky is reminiscent of Saki’s short story Dusk, revolving around deception and man’s inability to know what is there in the hearts of people. This is very much true to our times as well. I often wish I could read minds so as to prevent many disasters and keeping me sane. I fail to use sweetened and pleasing words. Either I say less or I speak what is what.

The disillusionment of man has been further triggered by social media. The need for an impressive show before others has made man more prone to material luxuries. Today Mother’s Day or Women’s Day is so much hyped and glorified, almost to a stifling one. Instead of celebrating one single day – mainly for likes and flattering comments, the true spirit of celebration lies in accepting a woman as a human being, and that can happen any day and even throughout the year. Also, it has become almost mandatory to pose for photos meant to be uploaded on the social platform – be it couple, tours and what not. I would be eagerly waiting for photos related to bad phase of our lives – like death, a bad divorce, harassment. The more this tendency the more the frustration and the stress.

Going by the rise of the paedophiles nobody can be easily trusted. Once you trust he will be sure to break it as the time comes. The schools, usually referred to as the second homes are increasingly becoming unsafe. Even the familiar faces are monsters in disguise. The children are duped into unfair trades, crimes and tortures.

SO now, I feel there is therefore a huge connection between parenthood and this picture. We try to provide the best to our children – be it clothes, food or values. There are women who digest verbal and physical abuse just for the sake of their children. Yet we cannot carpet the entire world; we can only fetch them right pair of shoes. It therefore becomes important for the parents to teach them the reality. Every human being is a shade of grey; we have faults. However, we must accept each other with open arms. The fight should be with the hidden villain in a human being. It is only when things go extreme that we should be attacking and revolting. Hence, before jumping to a conclusion we must understand the other perspective – the 9-6 one. Life is usually simple; it is we who make it complex. There would be filters and the 24*7 invisible scanners assaying our every move, every breath. The most challenging task is to patiently and calmly brushing them off and living our lives peacefully.

In this age rearing children amidst abiogenic delinquency is an operose task. The story of The Child and the Apple Tree and Happy Prince are so vivid when it comes to parenting. The parents will continue to offer their last help to save and help their children. This is draining yet it reflects purest form of love.

The Happy Prince

Hence, the conclusion is this: the barren trees or the dusk, ‘the hour of the defeated’ do not depict the dead end. A prayerful soul looking only at the sunlight can definitely sail through the defeating hours with hope. Parenting is a difficult journey but it is surely exciting and adventurous and becomes more comfortable when we cut down the weight of expectations from our successive generations. Expectations block happiness and self-respect without which no human being can thrive.

This post is a part of Blog Birthday Celebrations contest hosted by Zainab and Geethica.

”slimexpectations”

 

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A Thank You Note To Myself on Gaining Freedom From Body Shaming

I would like to thank Akansha (https://mummatolilmissy.wordpress.com/) for introducing me to this Dare-a-thon. She is a full time mother to a 4 year old girl and also SC Professional working with a leading FMCG.

Dare to give up

I have dared to give up thinking negatively about myself, especially physical appearance. I AM FAT and today I have finally accepted myself.

I have always been FAT. I have, hence, been subject to innumerous jokes, criticism, ridicule and laughter therapies. Some memories I would like to share;

  • On a vacation trip my relatives have deliberately made fun of me in front of tourist guide. Although they have made me sit on one edge in the car, they have complained of lack of space to sit for themselves. I have been 11 years old then.
  • School mates have always teased me. I remember even after school finals one of my ‘friends’ have called to enquire whether I have reduced weight!
  • The teachers have also openly humiliated me for my overweight.
  • Every social gathering has been a nightmare for me. Some way or the other I have failed to escape body shaming.
  • Other diagnoses have included due to weight I can hardly speak, I am unsocial and I am too lazy and inefficient.

The impact of body shaming has been tremendous:

  • Finding how nobody really sees through my curvy body, I have shelled up in my own world. I have been blinded by unknown fears, anxieties and depressing feelings.
  • I have abandoned self-care, the most important ritual for any human being.
  • I have forgotten to relish whatever I eat. Even drinking water has meant I am gaining weight! I have never been a junk foodie yet people staring at me or giggling when I eat has been really hard to digest.

Does the immense mental torture and harassment, especially by people I have known from birth, be labelled as ‘rape’? I believe ‘rape’ is anything against your wishes – be it sexual abuse or emotional one. In this respect, I have suffered the emotional scars due to body shaming all throughout my life. Unfortunately, neither can they be given punishment due to lack of proof nor I can go on throwing stones at barking dogs. However, who cares about invisible emotional and mental health? None! People will designate you as lunatic and advise you to go to an asylum. That’s it.

Only recently, especially after battling with life due to dengue last year, I have realized how I should be grateful for the life I have been returned with. The seven days on the hospital bed, away from internet and known faces – including my son and my husband, I have really been reborn as a phoenix. It is miles to go but still I have dared to muster courage in resisting disgracing myself.

The first realization that has dawned on me is I have been too dependent on everybody except myself regarding rules of my life. Even the best peach in the world will be disliked by somebody. So, I should not strive to please everybody. I must learn to filter people’s mercurial reactions. The moods change often and I cannot dance to every changing tune.

I should stop victimizing myself. Self-blame and feeling guilty about everything surrounding me should STOP. I must understand that I am an imperfect human – NOT AT ALL LIKE THE PICTURE-PERFECT WOMEN. Unless I consciously harm anybody, I should not fret.

Self-assessment has been one of my tools to achieve positivity. Yes, I have my own limitations but I also have some talents. It is time to enlist them both for better productivity. Even listing down fears along with their probable solutions is beneficial.

I must take out some time for myself every day. Reading, writing or merely sitting idle are wonderful magic tools. I love listening to music or humming songs. Practicing hobby is really refreshing and keeps me diverted. This also includes exercise which keeps physical and mental health in good condition. I am so worried about mental health!

Ending the day with a sense of gratitude really keeps me cool and sane. I make it a point to count my blessings more than my failures. No matter what every day I thank GOD for the day.

I have therefore incorporated the afore-said rules for a healthy ME – yes, again MENTALLY. I have dared to give up mental stress due to body shaming. It has been one of the greatest challenges in my life. I feel happy and light to accept myself the way I am, irrespective of others’ opinions and advices.  Even I am less swayed by social media. I now choose who or what can tempt me, and I decide the extent of that temptation.

Real beauty lies within. The plastic beauty as projected by the world is misleading and often life threatening. Moreover, it is circumscribed by age and other manipulative factors. The moment I have undressed myself of the controlling myths, notions and societal standards I have set myself free.

I would like to introduce Arpita Choghule (http://arpitasmommylife.blogspot.com/) to carry forward this blog train. She has been a civil lawyer and now a doting mother to a 7-year old boy and 4-year old girl. 

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Lipi Restarts Her Life Thanks To Her Parents’ Great Show of Courage

‘kadam chhota change bada’

 

This is a true account. I am hiding the identities of the people involved.

 

This is the story of Lipi. While doing her graduation she has fallen in love with a guy. Since love marriages do not consider caste and background, Lipi has had fallen in danger. You have guessed right! Her parents have been dead against it. Her father has been especially angry at this shocking revelation at the time of the girl’s marriage. However, they have agreed to the marriage thinking of their daughter’s happiness. The couple is basically from the ‘simple living’ lot craving nothing but the contented smile on the daughters’ (Lipi has a sister) faces.

I have witnessed the victory smile on Lipi’s face. Thus, the gala Bengali marriage preparations have begun. From buying Benarasi saree to hunting for the perfect caterer for the night, listing down to-do list and ticking off the invitees as they have got the invitations, everything has been smoothly accomplished. It has been the Valentine’s day Lipi and her lover have successfully procured new identities. The newly married couple has gained the blessings of Lipi’s parents. Thankfully, the ‘sasural’ has been very near to Lipi’s home.

Into this otherwise blissful marriage unfortunately, God has not granted her the wish of pro-creating. She has remained childless despite several visits to doctors. The couple has finally accepted their fate and has lived happily.

Ten years into the marriage and they have been well-accepted, admired and loved by both the families for their warm, loving and caring nature. And then, something has happened. All of a sudden, Lipi’s happy world has come crashing down and she could not prevent it. Can you guess? I hope you can.

One fine winter morning in the month of December, the month of Christmas Lipi could sense something wrong with her husband sleeping by his side. This is the strength and sense of a lover and a wife, may be! On checking his pulse she has found it to be missing. The doctor has come only to officially declare what the grieving family has already prepared itself for. Her husband has died in his sleep, out of heart attack! He has been only 44.

It is so simple to say “he has died” but one whose world revolved around ‘him’ can only feel the heart-rending and inexplicable pain. No word can console her enough. Nobody can empathise with her.

I have met Lipi the next February on Saraswati Puja. I have been missing the jovial and jolly Lipi. She has been smiling but for the world. The trademarks of a married woman have been absent! Although I do not support those, but still when you see a woman who has worn them proudly, stripped of her favourite marks, you feel sad. She has been remembering her husband on every topic we have been talking about. How he has loved roses! How he has relished homemade delicacies!

Soon after I have been swept off my feet on hearing about the ‘kadam chhota, change bada’ moment. The parents who have disliked Lipi’s love marriage are now gearing up for her remarriage. This out-of-box thinking is definitely expected from people hailing from the land of Raja Rammohan Roy, who had pioneered widow remarriage. They have been thinking of companionship of a too young widow. That’s good!

After rigorous efforts from the parents Lipi has finally given her consent to her second marriage. On a careful search they have been blessed with a noble man who, too, has been unwilling at first. He is 10 years older to Lipi. His parents have died and he is all alone. Only after genuine convincing the bachelor have agreed to marry a widow! What goes around, comes back, isn’t it?

This time the marriage has not been a gala affair. Only the very close and honest people have been the invitees. I have missed Lipi’s second marriage (I am staying out of my home town post marriage) but I have prayed for her bliss whole-heartedly.

Now when I see and hear about Lipi and her husband’s lovely relation I feel really glad. The photos I come across in social media are proof enough that Lipi has get over the nightmare. She is back with her affable smile. The trademarks are back on their place. I have met her new husband twice or thrice and I am impressed. He is a gem of a person. I feel she is happier than her previous one. However, this is ONLY my opinion. Perhaps that is why God did not bless her with a child in her previous marriage. Generally, it is difficult for a child to accept a new person as his/her parent. Whatever, they are happy, and that is all that matters. Only God can turn an utterly hopeless situation into something positive and vibrant!

I would like to mention here that these parents have always been reputed for their generous acts – be it taking care of their relatives like their own family members (who have never returned their favours) in their home or helping another woman remarry after her divorce. Therefore, when they have resisted the love marriage, it has been contrary to their otherwise ‘modern’ mindset. Perhaps, they have only been thinking of their daughter’s well-being.

This is a very powerful act. Very few can enact such strong roles with such dexterity and confidence. Hats off to this couple (parents) for showing such courage when widow remarriage is still considered a taboo. The incident proves how ONLY a modern mindset can turn a lemon into a lemonade. This need not come from just ‘education’ which majority confuse with. An illiterate person can be more modern than the highly-intellectual. That can generate small steps towards real development – first, within the home and later in the big society outside.

Drops of water make an ocean’

I dedicate this write-up to the continuous hard work, sincerity and selflessness of this man and his wife. In person I can perhaps never tell them how proud I feel to have them in my life. Hence, this is my attempt to make them and their activities famous.

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true life-story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe now. For every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.