Getting to know “me” – body image

There is a certain ‘me’ that I have never been one with, the ‘me’ that is my body, the ‘me’ that is my physique, my skin, my hair. I have always looked at this bit of ‘me’ borrowing the gaze of an outsider, an outsider who lacks both the proximity and empathy I must experience but unfortunately don’t.

Hair

I remember as a teenager, when I first spotted hair growth on my legs, my world continued as it were. It was only a friend of mine- well aware of worldly affairs and stereotypes-who pointed out at those and asked me to get my legs waxed.

I was filled with sudden shame, a certain stigma, as if hair are not natural, as if I am the only living being blessed with those. I followed her advice and began to get my feet waxed at quite an early age. I have grown up in a town where you might end up being horribly waxed all your life and not even realize that the experience need not be this bad. I went through the trauma of burns and skin allergies only to realize later that the employee at the salon hardly knew what she was doing, she had no sense of temperature, of hygiene and definitely lacked humane sensibility, considering the cruelty with which she carried out this task.To come upon a solution, I stopped wearing  skirts and shorts for some years, something I loved, but just let go, as I let go of many more things as time passed. I have seen men with hair popping out of every crevice, they don’t hide, why should I? Why should I be compelled to hide? Why should I be mocked at if I don’t?I rarely frequent the salon now though, honestly I don’t care that much anymore.

DO you have whiskers? I do, I discovered this lately. For the first few days, I think I was in depression. Hair on the face!! This is it, life has come to an end! I don’t know why, but we all desire a certain permanence in how we look, in how we “maintain” ourselves, so even I took my sweet time to accept this inevitable change and many others that human body would go through. I know that one day I will have a wrinkled skin, but I still don’t like to believe it. Why?

White hair, well premature greying is now a norm. I am gonna go all white pretty soon. I have not been spared by anyone in my proximity. I have heard different forms of comments, whether its about ageing, or ugliness or vitamin deficiency. Why the hell should I even consider your foul smelling henna? I am not interested, why are you so perturbed by how my head appears?

Vaginal Hair, poor souls, I know you suffer much ridicule from many, even I made you feel really sorry for your existence. If your boyfriend demands a clean waxed vagina, punch him. period. No one has the right to demand anything from you, from your body, every body deserves to be celebrated and loved, first and foremost by the one who resides in it. Date a man who respects your body, cares for its well being, its good health, than looks forward to a plastic doll, why not buy him a nice robotic sex toy then?

I am acquainted with women who are scared to death during pregnancy for they fear changes, they fear that their men would not find them attractive enough. This is the lowest form of self-esteem and self-love my friends, you are not an object which has to stay as it were when acquired, you are not in a relationship based solely on how you appear to your partner, your partner is not as lacking in love and respect as you probably imagine, and lots more than I could say here. anyway, maybe later.

Lets move on to:

Breasts

For as long as I can remember, I treated them as someone alienated from my own self. I was disturbed at first, and slowly embarrassed. I remember a friend of mine who would call me names because I was heavy breasted, I decided to never run, I haven’t run for very long. I still feel conscious of breasts bouncing and catching attention. I do not understand why women do this to other women? Why can’t we accept that everybody is different?

On our farewell from school, I felt shy and awkward in a sari, for I felt that my blouse made them prominent, I could have also felt beautiful, wholesome, but no, I had borrowed someone else’s perception, and disliked what I saw in the mirror.

Men of course take it to another level altogether, from lewd comments and gestures, to being forcefully touched, squeezed and pinched, I think my poor breasts have indeed suffered much at the hands of horny douchebags all around.

At times, when that stupid bra makes me feel suffocated, I want to throw it away and just let my breasts breathe freely, but I lack the courage to do so. You won’t believe it, but I wear a bra and sleep at night, so scared am I of letting them be, there I go again, let me correct, so scared am I of letting me be me.

Belly

I hide my belly, I have almost always hidden it from everyone. A reason was also the fact that I have never had a flat one, but still, there is no need for the paranoia that I nurture. In the last few years I discovered a discoloration on my belly, something that my grandmother got at a very old age. I thankfully took it in stride unlike the other changes, but it did require much rationale from my adult ego.

There are times when wearing a belt hurts my belly, but in the fear of falling trousers exposing the crack of my bum, I keep the belt on, and allow my belly to suffer, I think this much penance for nothing is sheer stupidity.

Vagina

We were acquainted as poornima and Chhee Chhee. Chhee Chhee is not to be touched for it is dirty (basically a way to assure that little girls don’t discover the joy of masturbation). Chhee Chhee is to be protected, Chhee Chhee, if gets infected, UTI, then it should not be spoken of loudly. Chhee Chhee should be hurriedly cleaned and avoided.

That is some of the nonsense that surrounded my vagina’s reputation.

I never related the lobes and lips one studied of in biology with my real organ. I never even attempted at marvelling that how through this passage I might deliver a child one day. All of this is not a discourse, it should not be thought of. In fact, to be honest I hardly ever looked at my Vagina, and consequently, would not want it to be looked at either. This is pushing me towards acknowledging the extremely unhealthy understanding of sex and sexual relationships I had, but I won’t get into it here.

When I would have a discharge, I just knew I am to be disgusted, I never understood what it was, whether it was fungal, whether it was normal menstrual discharge, whether it was due to stomach infection, I just never understood. I do so now, and I am much relieved.

Buttocks

They are only meant for Potti. Apart from that, I never acknowledged their existence. I never noticed how they were, I never tried to look at them. I despised the fact that when you make love, they would be seen. I hid them as well, I wore long t-shirts, loose pants, because those with tight jeans were considered to be amoral when I was really young and I borrowed those tweaked notions of morality and sexuality. Later after being conveniently slapped at my ass by random men on the road, I made it a point to hang my backpack real low. It made me conscious, I still am, I hate it when I wear my skirt, knowing that it would make my bum stand out in all its glory. I wish I could enjoy that, i wish I could calmly and happily walk with a bounce, rather than a manly stride that i copied from my brothers.

Logs-Legs

My legs were called logs, because they were always very fat. I don’t have the long slender legs you see in photoshopped images, I have shorter ones. I have never been proud of them. I have never thanked them for making me move, for allowing me to enjoy the thrill in a bicycle ride, for letting me grant a kick or two. I just have them, that is all.

I wish I could respect them, and even take care of them, walk more often, run, give them that strength they firmly demand. But no, I just treat them as passive logs. What shame!

I wish I were more at ease with how I am, now that I am beginning to be so, I decided to share it, a move I might have been nervous about or scandalized by earlier, but i think that if I wish for all women and men to love themselves and not be embarrassed of body parts then I should probably begin with letting go of my own inhibition, of accepting my eccentricities and uniqueness, of acknowledging my redundant fears.

Love yourself, Love your complete self.

 

If you felt this made any sense, you might enjoy this blog post as well: http://gokaleo.com/2013/03/06/cellulite-its-time-we-all-just-get-the-hell-over-it/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Fear of the Gaze

I got off the auto-rickshaw and was moving towards the house, when I saw them. Two strangers staring at me, smiling leacherously, a smile which most women must be well acquainted with. I stared back angrily, they laughed and started moving towards me slowly. I felt uncomfortable with their unabashed gaze, and clapped my hands, my call for the two dogs, Angrez and Bhuta, who are my playmates here.

They came out from under the car and licked my hands, they walked by my side. I wanted to convey that dare you come closer, my dogs will rip you apart. I looked at them again, they smirked with their pan smeared lips, and I could feel my own fear. The fear that I have at times felt sitting in an auto-rickshaw and being watched from the mirror. The fear that I have also felt while going back home in a Metro, when late.The fear that I felt on being stared at by that red haired man in the train to Jhabua.The fear that suffocates me and makes my blood boil too often, but then I let it evaporate in silence.

I tried to reason with myself, perhaps they were just standing there for some valid cause, maybe they had just dropped someone from their car.

But then what got me suspicious was the fact that one of them just got water from someone’s home, and I had recently heard the rumour of people robbing houses on the pretext of asking for water. This was silly, I was connecting various dots in my imaginary danger.

The truth was that their stereotypical hooligan-like faces, their red lips, those piercing eyes, and the fact that they were relishing the fear on my face, it made me hate them. I could imagine how I must be looking, a timid stupid human. It definitely must provide pleasure to a bully and that is precisely who they were, bullies.

It has been a day, but I cannot get over it, it is still there in my mind, that someone, without saying a word, without physically harming me, just with a stare, could shake me right outside my house. Such is the pervasiveness of this fear, such is the extent to which I allow myself to be victimized. It is not as if this has happened for the first time, it happens every now and then, and I continue to live life as I want to, with my freedom, but it always affects me.

I wonder, Why am I letting this happen to my mind? Why do I raise that bulky man to such pedestal of power,when maybe he is not. I am sure many would have reasoned that he is just an immature guy who had nothing better to do on a lazy afternoon than to stare at a woman who calls two dogs by clapping her hands.

But listen, no matter who you are, whether you are a juvenile bum or a patronizing elderly, I don’t want you to stare at me,  it is not your existence, but my fear which troubles me.

Reflections on Kai Po Che

This is not a review; these are just my humble (and personal) reflections on the several meta-narratives of “Kai Po Che”.  Watching this movie was a nostalgic experience for me, as I could relate its many instances with my lived experience of Ahmedabad.

Some of the elements that stood out and made me connect with the narrative are as follows:

Cafe Coffee Day

It was interesting to note that Govind took his friend Omi, who was just released from Jail, to Cafe Coffee Day, where sipping on cold coffee Omi delved into the past (flashback technique), the cricket commentary acting as a catalyst in the reminiscence, acknowledging its (cricket’s) constant presence in Omi’s and any average Indian’s life, directly or indirectly.

This made me reflect on how the Cafe Coffee Day outlets which were once a modern phenomena, have come to be internalized in the daily or usual practices of urban India, it is not unusual to go there for a coffee (by say someone from Middle Class economic background). No wonder one also gets Vegetarian or Chicken Tikka Sandwiches and Samosas along with the Latte’.

Since it is a non-conspicuous part of your newly grown consumption, it is perhaps normal to take your (just released from prison) friend for a halt there. Your stop would have been at a Chai stall maybe ten years ago, but with economic liberalization, your business has grown, your image and perception of consumption has changed. Perhaps this isn’t the sort of luxury, you assume, that could overwhelm your friend anymore?

 Also, the cafe was shown as brimming with people, which indeed has been my experience whenever I stepped into CCD at Ahmedabad. There would be customers varying from tourists to youngsters bunking tutorials or celebrating birthdays, professionals, couples and also groups of elderly men discussing resident welfare and development. However, these cafes face tough competition from the amazing coffee one gets at local cafes such as Danny’s! Also the experience which Omi probably had at CCD was much colder than he would have otherwise had at a more localized joint.

Secondly, it wasn’t a surprise that customers were watching cricket at CCD. The proliferation of LCDs displaying crude jokes and juvenile puzzles along with alienated music, has somehow never worked in creating a standardised ambience at most of the outlets I have been to. What does prevail is the choice of one visiting your outlet. Interestingly, the CCD outlet near Paldi, would often be playing religious (Hindu) channels in the morning, and a medley of Indian and Western music (re-mix) from the 80’s and 90’s, in evenings.

Ishaan 10

The Flashback which I mentioned above, took the audience back in time (to March 2000) where Omi was watching cricket with Ishaan at his home (Old Ahmedabad) . Ishaan’s Tshirt spoke volumes of the fascination and passion for cricket which a multitude of youngsters in India harness, and live with throughout their lives.

At the back of his T-shirt was his name with the number 10, signifying a cricketer, an aspiring cricketer, or an admirer of cricket. In either case, it is the kind of T-shirt one must have come across at least once in a lifetime (beyond the official players)  if they have lived in urban India  (enthusiasts in the bus, bikers supporting  India during tournament, audience in stadium, budding players in neighbourhood park cum field, studs in school sports period and so on).

I stayed as a Paying Guest in a tiny flat in Ahmedabad, and my landlady’s son would often sport a similar t-shirt, his name and number at the back. His fitness and practice were on the other extreme as compared to Ishaan though, but all that ceases to matter when sporting your love for the esteemed sport.

Religion

Religion emerged as an integral element throughout the narrative. The three protagonists were Hindus, where Ishaan and Omi belonged to deeply religious as also conservative households. The Pole in which Ishaan stays has a Jain white Mandir in close proximity of his house. Temples are often found maintained by particular families, or even within houses in Old Ahmedabad. These areas in Ahmedabad also serve as religious enclaves other than fostering close bonds within community.

What was interesting however were the different levels of religious thought the three portrayed in their characters. Omi epitomised the dangerous intertwining of religion and politics, which dominated his choices as well as rationale towards extremes. He personified the youth capable of being influenced in the desire for growth, development and power.

Ishaan reflected a more humane and of-age approach to religion which could be seen by others as utopia or foolishness also. Unlike Omi, he had no qualms in teaching a boy from the Muslim Community and helping them in times of need, even when he put his own life in danger for doing so. He seems to be a mix of youthful daredevilry and contemporary idealism; he dares to question as much as he loves to answer back in his impulsiveness.

As compared to both Omi and Ishaan, Govind seemed more neutral, pretty occupied with his own existence, survival, growth and consequential fears than particularly expressing thoughts on religion or God.

It would have been interesting though if the three weren’t Hindus. What would have the narrative been if Ishaan instead of the physically fit and agile, benevolent Hindu protagonist (helping Muslims in need and their leader in crisis) was a smart and strong Muslim youth?

There is a tension between the two opposing parties (Hindu dominated vs. Muslim dominated) which is referred to throughout the movie. I find it realistic, because irrespective of the discourses on inclusive growth and temperament, Ahmedabad often displays clear demarcations geographically as well as symbolically between the two communities which are indeed hard to miss. When Bittoo (Omi’s maternal uncle) goes to the Hindus for his political propaganda he greets them with “Jai Shri Krishna” which is symbolic of Hindutva beliefs and imageries. This form of greeting is a general trend in Ahmedabad across classes. In the movie however, one can clearly see posters of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, or other symbols, in the background often conflicting with the subtle presence of the Indian Flag and its suggestive secular nationalism.

Later in the movie religion exhibits a larger than life presence with its influence looming over political, communal as well as individual behaviours and reactions. The mobilising of sevaks and rioters is the dreadful reminder of loss of individual rationale in a mob, personified in Omi.

Dhanda

This pre-occupation with starting their own Dhanda/business amidst dreams of growth, would definitely find resonance in Amdavad.Where Gujarati’s and their sharp business skills are a general discourse, I have had the opportunity of interacting with people in professions varying from ironing of clothes to shop owners and landlords. And the most interesting insight which emerged from those conversations was the fact that most of them would handle more than one profession at a time, in fact multiple professions.

For instance: there was a small Dhaba where most of us (students and bachelors) would go for an economical and simple meal. The Dhaba owner would also rent rooms on the second floor of his house to students. Furthermore, he distributed newspapers in mornings and was also trained in quarantining your house from pests. In fact he epitomised the term “Jugaad” , for every need that occurred in his vicinity, he would attempt at a solution in his capability. This juggling of more than one thing is reflected in the shop owned by Omi, Govind and Ishaan in the temple area, where they handled tutorials, sports academy and also shop for sports goods.

Also, the idea of independence and self-esteem associated with your own work or Dhanda, is a very common expression in Ahmedabad.

Modernity, Sophistication, Growth

Once their “Sabarmati Sports Club” is established, the three friends begin to dream of a better life, a better shop (Though Omi had his reservations to that). Their desire to own a more sophisticated shop in Navrangpura Mall (Full AC) was an ambition as much theirs as that fuelled by the prevailing images of escalation. I place this in the context of Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project, and the rhetoric of development, world-class city and beautification that envelopes Ahmedabad. The idea to buy a shop in an upcoming mall is Govind’s, who though apparently wary, dreams of moving up in class hierarchies as well as pacifying his friends.

It was interesting to note, how towards the movie’s end, Omi is looking at the pitch from a space with transparent glass walls. The association of glass with achievement is reflected in most contemporary urban architecture.

Daaru and Diu

Daaru and Diu are indeed synonyms in Gujarat, where alcohol is officially banned. No wonder the three friends chose to go to Diu for some respite from the slowly enclosing captivity caused by their increasing reliance on Omi’s uncle. The conflict between reliance and freedom as well as their interdependence is well established when Govind reminds a drunk Ishaan that his philosophical rendering of temporary freedom was possible only through the money earned under reliance, thoughtfulness and dedicated hard work.

It was interesting to note the chemistry between the three. Where Ishaan chose to talk idealistically and behave impulsively, Omi would catalyse Ishaan’s emotions (mostly) than opine on his own. Both of them displayed lesser fear in spending their money than did Govind. He was more cautious (out of the three firends) and at times even petrified of the ambiguity that lay ahead.  However despite being mocked at or teased, he would hold his own, than give in to external influences (barring the love of friends and Vidya) as would Omi. Together, the three reflected the co-existence of fear and inertia with dreams and risks.

Vidya and Vidya

Ishaan’s sister Vidya, had many essential characteristics of a young woman in Ahmedabad. Her  sense of power, strength and straightforward criticism or wisdom reminded me of my land lady’s daughter. Her confidence in her sexuality as contrasted with her fear of pregnancy, could be related to, by most young women in Indian middle class.

Vidya’s scooty, was an essential part of her character. Scooty is not just a vehicle, scooty is empowerment, it is a form of asserting one’s right to mobility outside the walls of the house, on streets that anyways in Ahmedabad are not male dominated. I wonder if it was deliberate that in her moment of weekness (during her anxiety over erratic menstrual cycle), she was in an auto with Govind, being enclosed yet watched, and well aware of the gaze of the other (auto rickshaw driver).

Vidya could be dominating and also encouraging. She chose to date her brother’s friend (her tutor), while the latter was inhibitive for he feared his friend’s wrath and also societal norms. Their relationship bore evidencenot only to the hypocrisy and notions of morality surrounding sexuality, love and marriage, but also makes one reflect on the unspoken rules of bonding in men (bro-code?).

It seemed slightly stereotypical to have Vidya dislike Mathematics, what if she loved the subject and detested Biology? Why are her aspirations limited to marriage with Govind or fulfilment of her brother’s dream? She is supposed to be Mother Nature perhaps, because as much as she could reprimand others in their cowardice, she could soothe Omi during his repentance while sitting in the stadium.

The other Vidya: The prevalence of coaching and tuition centres was reflected, which is quite evident in most cities and towns in India. In Ahmedabad there was a vehement focus on English language during my stay.

Vehicle and Status

When they were holidaying in Diu, there is a sequence in the movie, where they are playfully riding in a new car which is one of the many being carried on an extended truck. At that point, Govind is sitting at the back seat and the other two are fantasising about the future, where Omi would help Ishaan start his sports Academy.

A car, especially the one where you still havn’t removed the covers from seats, is such a crucial benchmark, which proclaims that you have arrived. You are an esteemed member of the Middle class moving higher up. You own, possess, your own vehicle with four wheels. Many families wait for years together, and the day the car arrives, it is indeed a matter of celebration and joy, incomplete sans religious blessings. My landlady’s son bought a car from his salary and savings, I was treated to sweets prepared for the occasion, while the entire family went out to the temple and then for snacks. For years they had been managing to fit on a single scooter, and later sat divided on a scooter and bike.

In the movie, Govind drives his own car when he goes to receive Omi. Govind is dressed in a business suit, a far cry from the humble attire he adorns earlier. These seemed to be markers of a much desired status.

Friendship

The three protagonists portray different flavours and nuances of friendship not just with each other but also with other actors in the narrative:

The trio

They Shared their passion for cricket, which also leads them to starting Sabarmati Sports Club.

They displayed Complementary skills and temperaments, While Omi could get access to the shop and money, Ishaan was the trainer, and Govind handled the tutorials as well as the practical saving of money being earned. Where Ishaan could be carefree and Omi would follow suit, Govind would be more realistic and at times even paranoid. It was Govind who was attempting at convincing Ishaan’s father for lending them money to start business. They trusted each other for working together. They believed in the strength of their bond. While Ishaan made claims of giving life for friends, Omi spoke of starting a sports academy for Ishaan. Though Govind would not generally overspend or go out of his line, he did take calculated risks for his friends (trip to DIU). However, when Ishaan was at Ali’s place during riots, Govind risked his safety and went up to the Muslim community so that he could be with his friend.

They fought when differences of opinion arose. Once Ishaan seeked their forgiveness, Govind seemed to handle it with maturity as compared to Omi, who took a while to let go of his grudge. Omi’s character would often fluctuate. He could be persuaded by his uncle and the persuasiveness was not limited to the money they owed. From accessing power to revenge for his parents’ death, Omi could be swayed, unlike Govind and Ishaan, who stuck to their rationale. Even though, Govind’s character is shown as slightly nervous or under confident, he emerges as more stable of the three.

Repentance, Having shot at his own friend, and having spent years in prison, Omi is overwhelmed at the forgiveness he receives from Govind and Vidya, at the realization of his loss, and also the continuance of his friend’s existence (Govind and Vidya’s son + Ali’s career in cricket).

Vidya, backup friend

Govind’s friendship with Vidya gave him a space to vent out what he couldn’t directly say to his friends. She encouraged and motivated him to fulfil his dreams, to be himself. Also, she reminds him to not be judgemental about his friends, she is indeed a positive influence in his life. It was not surprising though to witness Govind’s inhibitions in dating his friend’s sister (as mentioned earlier).

The tutor and his Tedhi

The camaraderie between Ali and his trainer Ishaan was based on mutual admiration and respect, which grew over a period of time. Initially Ali was unaware of Ishaan’s achievements (trophies) in cricket, while Ishaan lacked empathy towards Ali’s other interests. With Ishaan’s relentless pursuits, Ali’s confidence in Ishaan’s honest desire to see him (Ali) grow emerged.

Ishaan’s empathy for Ali extended towardsAli’s  community as well. The desire to help them made Ishaan overlook  (at times)  the short term inconvenience it may have caused to his friends .

Miscellaneous

Gol Gappas: The global and the local, that is the actuality of any place in urban India, let alone Ahmedabad. It was interesting to note that Omi was eating Gol Gappas while waiting for Ishaan to join in, for the movie Basic Instinct. During my initial days at my PG, I was stunned when offered a huge plate of Gol Gappas for dinner, it took me quite some time to get accustomed to such facts of life. Later on I came to realize that there were a variety of flavours available in Gol Gappas as well, however that is another story altogether.

On weekends it would seem as if the whole of Ahmedabad would eat out. There could be huge queues outside a shop which would sell vada paav and daveli and similarly so outside an Italian or South Indian Restaurant.

Further Stereotypes: I wonder if this reading is not too far fetched but I felt that the actors representing Hindu Community appeared as physically stronger (with moustache and buland awaaz) as compared to their Muslim counterparts. So much so that Ali faced malnutrition and his father had a squeaky voice. It was surprising to find  his father begging Ishaan to save them from Hindu rioters.It was disconcerting to watch the Hindu youngsters pull down Ali’s pyjamas, and him being pushed down by his trainer.

Stereotypes in Sports: Goti vs. Cricket: As is with most other sports in India, cricket steals the show, so much so that the other localized sports or genres are almost subaltern. This is quite evident in how Ishaan admonishes Ali for giving more relevance to his Goti tournament as compared to Cricket practice.

Stereotypes in Education System: Education vs. Sports: Similarly, the voice of sports is often subdued in front of the rationale given in favour of studies. Ishaan and Govind had a tough time convincing administration at Kendriya Vidyalaya school to support sports education. I could definitely relate to this, for I have myself spent time in trying to convince the principal at KV in Ahmedabad, for allowing me to conduct a workshop with their students.

The movie therefore seemed to be a simple and realistic narration of the many complexities that exist in actuality. The intricate web created by religion, socio-economic as well as cultural structures, politics and individual motivations or desires was hence displayed in the context of Ahmedabad.

Children are Watching…

                                        (Photograph: Poornima Sardana)

Just like the “common man” illudes us into believing that they are people sans identity so does “children”. We begin to fit them in roles carved out by the myths we dwell in. They could be objects of display/paintings of adult understanding of the perfect /marketing gimmicks/urban consumers/subjects in rural photographs/images for activists/punching bags/teddy bears/pets/heroes/stars/performers/trophies/flowers/clowns/fashion statement/pillows/pain/monkeys to be caged…anything but human!

“Children”, apart from the fact that this term is generic and emanates romanticised visions of angels and candies and balloons, there is much more to them. They are living, thinking, and human beings like the rest of the adult world. Much more observant, agile and sensitive though.

Now on reading this, most of us would say, “Obviously!” Regrettably, in practice, this obvious isn’t so obvious. I do not wish to undermine the existence of excellent parenting, but this is an attempt at highlighting the nuance of the other extremes.

We over protect them and act silly with puckered lips/ senseless (and comic) baby talk or/and become absolutely indifferent to our own behaviour and responsibilities as facilitators in their holistic growth and learning. Though I much condemn unnecessary celebration of esteemed unreal innocence, the latter is much worse.

How we build our relations, how we deal with our situations, our reasoning and reactions have an influence whose roots spread deep enough to sustain for years together in the minds and hearts of our children. They watch, they hear, and it gets stored in the conscious as well as the unconscious.

I shall narrate a few recent incidents:

An irritable father, after a long day at work, shrugged off his boy as troublesome and foolish. The boy generally scores above 90% if that satisfies the judges of intelligence. He is quick at picking up languages, and has an astounding general knowledge. He is brilliant at acting and enjoys sports. He has a tendency to win friends. But for his father, and an equally irritable grandfather, that boy is to be treated like some mosquito that drinks their blood. Every time the child reasons he is asked to maintain silence. He has begun to sulk. Now exactly ten years later, these are the very people who would be complaining against him being shy/introvert/coward.

A mother whose daughter has her board exams is a nervous wreck. She cannot sleep well. She talks about it day and night to her daughter. She keeps a check on her daughter while she studies. She compares her with others who had done well in their board exams. When the daughter’s grandparents call, she discusses what subjects she must choose next year because she will have to appear for the entrance exams of coaching accordingly. The situation has become so, that the daughter is unable to think beyond her performance. She is uncomfortable at social events and is now being teased by others for the same. Another reason for the mother to be a nervous wreck, right? The moment that girl will start with her job; this mother won’t care about her performance, but would want her to become a little less ambitious and graceful, so that a nice boy would marry her.

A Couple has violent fights. They shout, abuse and at times break things. They do not feel the need to maintain their unity in front of their children. Given a chance they involve their children in it as well. They both speak ill of each other with their children. They are not a unit. The children do not know whether to bank on them or not. Whom to respect? Their daughter has borrowed her mother’s temperament. When she gets angry, she does a public display. At that time, the parents unite in scolding and reprimanding her. But the roots lie somewhere else.

Though I can narrate one incidence after another, which is not the purpose, I request all of us to be responsible. Be aware of the gravity in words and actions. Know that life is too huge to be spoilt over trivial issues. Our children, their emotions and love are real, nurture in them true happiness and reasoning and empower them to sustain it. Careers and futures they will manage, they are smarter than we are.

A post on Kafila by Sohail Hashmi:

http://kafila.org/2011/02/22/teaching-harmony-practicing-disharmony/#more-6801