Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Break the Silence #MomsForABetterWorld

“Let’s raise children who wont have to recover from their childhoods.” —Pam Leo
 
As every other parent the things I want to tell my child is a never ending list. A few weeks ago for the #MomsForABetterWorld initiative I had to prioritise and re-order this list and I wasn't surprised that Awareness about Child Sexual Abuse topped my list.
 
Almost every person I have talked to about this has recalled some or the other incident of some kind of abusive behaviour they have witnessed or experienced as a child. So I am sure this is an issue even larger than we can ever imagine.
 
I have always hated the festival of Holi because I was once forcefully coloured by an inebriated neighbour, a friend hates chocolates because her uncle would make her kiss him for those, an online friend recalls how horrified she was when as a child a grown up relative exposed himself to her.
 
These are real incidents that may/may not damage the child physically but leave deep scars for the rest of their lives, we cannot even imagine the horror a childhood becomes when abuse is persistent and under the covers for years.

 
 
 
 
 

India is still largely a traditional country where issues related to sexuality are largely taboo.A large number of our children are still made to view their bodies with shame and fear. We rarely speak about bodily functions openly and our social setup does not bar unsolicited physical contact like hugging or patting on the back.
 
We have a country where toilets are still unavailable to a large number of children making them even more vulnerable and easily accessible to sexual predators.
 
A lot of parents from my generation are shy to speak about touch and pleasure to our children because we were brought up in times when even mothers or teachers would not talk about even mensuration or puberty.
 
Often parents think its too early to talk to children about it but the sooner they know the better. Also it happens to only girls is a huge myth- all children, boys and girls run a huge risk of facing abuse. 
 
The only way we can protect our children is by educating them about sexuality in an age -appropriate manner without scaring them
 
The increasing number of sexual crimes against children and the alarming trend that most often the perpetrators are people known to the child and the family makes it even more imperative that our children are aware of the risk and know what to do when.
 
Here are a few things that I often repeat with my six year old :

My Dear P,
  • Our private parts need to be named and these are just like our other parts but private because we do not talk about them in public or show them in public.
  • Always remember good touch and bad touch, try to know the difference between a simple/normal hug and an uncomfortable hug.
  • Even when you feel the slightest physical discomfort with any person run and tell a parent /teacher immediately.
  • You and me keep no secrets especially the ones that hurt.
  • Say NO to physical contact whenever you are uncomfortable. Go offend the world, all I care about is your comfort and safety.
  • Use your vocabulary well, use and know words and actions like cuddle, hug, kiss, hold, rub, show to indicate anything inappropriate.
  • Know that whenever you report any such incident or even intuition YOUR version will always be trusted by me, I am here to listen even if at first it sounds funny or awkward.
  • You can dial 1098 (CSA Helpline) and seek help for yourself or a friend whom you feel needs help.
 
A few reminders for myself and all other parents:
  • If our child is a survivor of sexual abuse he/she or us have no reason to be ashamed about it.
  • No tradition or family honour is greater than the childhood of a child so speak up , whatever the odds.
  • Stand by your child ,only love can heal even the deepest wounds.
  • We can prevent our children from being silent victims.
 
We need to be a loud and clear collective voice Against Child Sexual Abuse. Yes maybe awareness alone would not prevent all incidents of abuse but by speaking about it openly, strongly and clearly we are initiating a social avalanche that may save a lot of our children from suffering in silence.
 
This post is a part of #MomsForABetterWorld Blogger Contest at Women's Web.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Mom's Feminism




She was born in the Himachal hills, the nearest school was about 5 Kilometres from her house, where in addition to homework and play she also had to look after two younger sisters when their mother worked in the orchards.

So mummy's childhood was an all too common childhood for rural girls in India six decades ago.

I had a very different childhood, in a city, going to a good school , with plenty of assistance at home and practically no choices barred because so many decades ago my mother had chosen to fight for her education with her parents, her right to work with her in-laws and the world in general for the rights of girls.

She wanted to become a teacher and became one and  my achievements make her as proud as the achievements of so many of her students who give her so much credit for being a special teacher.

The voice in me that speaks for girls and against every discrimination against them is her voice. I tell her that she was my first ever feminism expert and she tells me she doesn't know what Feminism is but yes no human being must be put down because of her gender.

Today as she shares her childhood anecdotes with my daughter I know there is no one else who can teach her feminism better.

This post is a part of  Indiblogger #myfirstexpert sponsored by Godrej.
 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Footprints

 
Derek was brought up by his American foster parents with a lot of love and care. As soon as he was old enough to understand that he was from a different race and not their biological offspring both John & Dina had told him the entire story about their long stay in India and how they came about adopting him from an orphanage in Delhi.

They had two younger children too who loved Derek just like an elder brother should be loved. He had no complaints from life and never wanted to dig his history in India.
Dina & John were into organic farming and were not book people at all, the only reading material their house had was the Bible and the newspaper but Derek grew up as a sensitive boy who had his way with words.

He was now an award-winning writer, but even then had no interest in his own background story. John had passed away a few years ago and two months ago Dina too had breathed her last.

In her will she had left him a locker that he had opened a week ago. It had a few family heirlooms and a parcel from Sister Bridgette from the Orphanage in Delhi. The parcel had a journal in which were scribbled a few English poems in a rough hand.

All the pages were signed Sarla and were dated just a few months before his birth date. It had a small note from Dina & John about why they wanted him to get this only after they were gone and why they would want him to find this only connect with his biological mother.

Derek read the poems again and again, the strong language, the stark imagery, the stunning poetry…

He now knew where his writing skills came from, he was finally walking in his mother's footprints.

 

 
This post was written for Wordy Wednesday at B-A-R.
 
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Looking back - Life Altering A to Z Blogging Challenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge [April 2015]

 
 

 

I had signed up for this challenge almost on a wild hunch, on a trial and error basis. I was not sure how this works because I am not a very passionate blogger per se, though I need to keep writing something or the other constantly.
 
In the first week of March my father passed away. When I came back from there the mail for the challenge was in my inbox and I knew I had found a theme worthy to keep my going for a month.
 
Here are my take aways from the challenge:
 
  • Exploring feelings through alphabets, feelings that were somewhere deep down in the sub-conscious and wanted to be heard/spoken
  • Finding that sentiments like GRIEF are as universal as love. My posts connected me to daughters from across the world, I wish there were some dads too who could read and know what they mean to their little girls.

  • Learning is the only way to GROW and to HEAL. I am not a chat person but the TWITTER CHATS every Thursday brought in so much of learning and strengthened the camaraderie.( though I would suggest the hosts to have timings at least for one session that suits Asian Bloggers too).

  • Blogging is not only about self-expression it is also about SHARING and thus CONNECTING, the two basic human needs.

  • SURVIVOR is such a positive word whether it is this challenge, or its is life.


Loved this experience, it was almost LIFE-ALTERING. I am sure I will do this every year now on.

If blog Traffic statistics are to be trusted, these are my TOP 3 posts:

http://poojasharmarao.blogspot.in/2015/04/aide-memoire-in-memory-of-my-late-father.html

http://poojasharmarao.blogspot.in/2015/04/pay-it-forward-parenting-in-memory-of.html

http://poojasharmarao.blogspot.in/2015/04/open-letter-to-papa-in-memory-of-my.html

 


Friday, May 1, 2015

An Ode to Madness

 
 

 
 
I do not write words
I write my madness
 
I am insanely alive
a grief thumping inside me
tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc
clocks imitate heartbeats
hearts came first
time later
I guess so
 
Eliot ,Plath, Woolf
Kerouac, Marx and someone
I am bad with names
bled and bled in words
no relief for this angst
 
mind games with memories
the bad ones
always win
life is not a fairy tale
happily ever after
are a myth
 
good moments are eels
slippery,
ready to barter themselves
with that charmer called time
chatter, noise
blah blah blah
blah blah
spellcheck
fonts, colours, format
memories photoshopped
 
substance without make-up
soulless, soul less
I keep forgetting
the password to my soul
do you too?
multiple users?
 
One capital letter
one special character
one number
and one nothing
session timed out
"He died."
 
one word stuck
no glue, just tears
no scrub, no facial
can take it off my forehead
 
I always wanted a tattoo
that could define me
HOWL like Ginsberg
can we Tattoo Nothing?
 
label before person
usernames only
souls are useless
 
dead people breathing
tip tap tip tap
beeps beeps beeps
sensitive term
-humanly challenged
keypads and screens
blue, white, greens
Signal to noise ratio
ask Google
 
waiting for messages
that never come
images that never become
people
 
I am scrubbing time off me
years are piling on my back
like the rubble
after the earthquake
 
avalanche on twitter
or was it Sagarmatha
the forehead of the seas
snow is no good
to hide labels
you see
 
Red like the blood
from the slit artery
of that lonely girl
pain is a fluid
it finds its way
 
farmers hang till death
death hangs forever
silence is the heaviest
it can weigh down
many souls
 
the body knows
pain and pleasure
the agony and the ecstasy
touch ,smell, sight
two bodies
in one delight
plight
rhyme
TIME,TIME,TIME
 
Present TENSE as in tension
present perfect continuous
the impossibility
of madness
 
words to define
what words can never say
 
the bird that lives on a ship
flies, finds nowhere
comes back
no chains
 
words, not spoken
not written
not read
are these words?
 
or are these silences
as in many
together-alone
 
 
sshh...sh….
keep my secret
I was always mad
with bouts of painful sanity
in between.


Orange Flower Awards

@IAmSufiZen

COMPANIONS CALLED BOOKS

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Frankenstein
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
Lolita
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind
}

I WILL RING THE BELL.WILL YOU?

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!