Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NAVRATRI SNAPSHOTS 2015



  •  A 40 years old, mother of two teenagers is distributing ice-cream sticks on the road near her apartment complex to street children. Some of them pre-teen and teenage boys, soon she is being pulled and groped and loud whistles and leering and she runs back inside the gated residential complex. The misguided kids enjoy the free ice-cream, aunty goes back to her condo, runs a hot bath and all that remains of the incident are the wrappers piled on the footpath.
    When we let go of any incidents as minor incidents of street harassment, don’t we pave way for far more dire incidents?
    What makes our boys believe they are entitled to rowdy behaviour ?Is our "Charity" misguided?

  •  I am watching news, my little one who is unaware of the technical gross details of sexual violence and RAPE, knows the word and knows that it is a cruel and bad thing to do to anyone. She stops colouring and after overhearing bits and pieces of a debate over the rape of two minors, she asks, "Mumma why do people hate and hurt little girls , so much? " I have no convincing answers.


  • In a neighbourhood Kirtan, almost every other song or line has the word "laal" (red), traditionally the colour for married women ( Saubhagyavatis), those singing these lines loudest are widowed mothers, sisters and wives , sitting in a corner away from the deity, the inauspicious women.



  • Not far from the Indian capital two little children are charred to death because they were not fortunate enough to be born upper caste, we look away and feel we have done our bit for the future kids of this country by distributing a few plates of poori-halwa.


•P : Mumma we Indians are generally brown you said , because of our genes and race and ,and climate.
Me: Yes dear.
P: Then why are all the goddesses fair, other than Kaali?
Me: ahmm....
P: and why don't they make Kaali beautiful? If a woman becomes angry does she become ugly?
I have taken some time from her to answer these difficult questions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A ZEN TALE

Once there was a little boy who was very sad about the way his parents treated his old grandfather. They kept him in the outhouse, he wore torn clothes and was served little or stale food in his almost broken plate and chipped mug.

A few days later the old man passed away, a day after the funeral as the parents were clearing the outhouse of the old man's things, the little boy rushed and snatched the plate and mug from them.

they thought he was just being sentimental about his grandpa's things but he said, " I want to save these so that when you are old and I put you in the out house, you can use them."

What goes around,comes around

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chains and Stigma



In the early eighties in my grandmother's village in Himachal, every winter vacation, one subject of curiosity for me besides village life was a man who used to be tied to a wooden pillar on the ground floor of his house with thick ropes.
At times he used to be very calm and smile at us kids and at others extremely charged up and would throw pebbles and mud on us at the slightest hint of noise or movement. Some villagers believed that he was possessed but in plain terms he was the 'village mad man.'

Recently his widow visited my mum and me after my father's death and all the memories came back, of how he would howl and howl for food or water, while his wife worked to support their three kids. How he would be taken inside after sunset like a chained animal.

Its only now that when I look back at it ,I realise he was a schizophrenic who was not only denied treatment but also compassion and basic human rights. He passed away a few years later.

His wife said ," We realise the importance of sanity only after we have lost it."

She talked about how they were isolated by the extended family and the villagers. How he was treated like a menace ,like an animal and she had to give in to the panchayat's demand to chain him.

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Several years later when I was a teenager , a neighbour lost her only son on his maiden journey aboard a merchant navy ship. Overnight this sailor's wife, well-educated, well-dressed lady became someone else, she would keep talking to herself loudly, roam in the neighbourhood alone at odd hours, attempted suicide twice. Finally her husband put their other two kids in a boarding and her in an asylum while he sailed.

Met her daughter after almost a decade, and I came to know she was institutionalised for many years and finally committed suicide.

Her daughter said, " I still can't forget how she suffered and how helpless we were."

She also talked about the stigma both she and her sister faced because of their mother's illness for jobs and marriages and how it left their father also in chronic depression.

********************************************
These are two of the thousands of mental health tragedies around us. We would accept criminals back into the society but even those mental health patients who recover fully or partially after treatment are not accepted in families , in society.

Mental illness even something as regular as depression is a taboo.

A little more compassion and acceptance that ailments which do not manifest physical symptoms are real too can go a long way in supporting patients and families challenged with mental illnesses.

In the "connected but lonely" world of today we need to be even more sensitive to people who need a shoulder to rest their head on, a listening ear, a sympathetic gesture and professional help.

Sometimes a little effort could save a life, could save a family.

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@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
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I WILL RING THE BELL.WILL YOU?

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

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