I will be your tail…always.

“Where is your tail today, Aunty?” asked the shop keeper to the lady in her early 50s.
Behind her, holding the end of her saree stood a little girl of 6. The little girl peeped out
and gave a toothless smile to the shopkeeper. The tail… would always be right
behind.
The lady and the little girl had to cross a dry drain. The little girl was scared to jump
across. The lady said, “Come, I will hold you. With a bag of vegetables in one
hand, grocery in the other and a dangling scared little girl attached to her
waist, hey ho! She jumped. No one knows how it happened, but the next moment
the little girl, the lady and all the bags were strewn in the drain. What
followed were giggles and peals of laughter. But not before the lady double
checked every body part of the little girl.
 
“I think something is stuck in her food pipe. Doctor, please check properly.” The doctor
smiled yet again at the lady. This was not the first time she had complained
about her granddaughter’s erratic eating habits. “She is fine Aunty. She is
just a picky eater.”
“The doctor is not good.” She said later in the evening to everyone. “I will only take care
of it…my way.”
 
From the next day, she started the tedious practice of mashing the food with pestle and
mortar. Straining the mushy semi-solid further, just so that the food could
easily pass through the little girl’s food pipe, she watched with pleasure as
her granddaughter swallowed her lunch.
“You and I have come to a restaurant. I am a foreigner. You are from India. I will ask you
questions about India. I will eat with a fork and a knife. You eat with hands.”
chirped the little girl. Today she had decided this is the only way she will
eat. The lady happily obliged. All she wanted was to see the girl eat.
 
Many years later when the girl, now in her 20s, came back from the hostel and asked for a
2nd serving during lunch, the lady who was now older couldn’t stop
staring at her with fondness. “I can’t believe you just asked for a 2nd
serving. Eat…eat.”
Further few years down the line, she massaged the heavily pregnant belly of the girl who
was going to become a mother soon. “Will it pain badly?” asked the girl. “No,
not much. And even if it does, you will be thankful because you will have a
child in your arms.”
And the next day, she held a baby boy in her arms. Her great grandchild. She had skipped her dinner and breakfast. How could she eat while her granddaughter was in pain?
Another few years down the line, she sat on the sofa putting a little baby girl to sleep in
her arms. Her great grand daughter this time. “She looks just like you.” She
said to her granddaughter.
The years passed by and the granddaughter watched her grandmother grow older, have
difficulty walking but not an iota of her fervor and love for life had dropped.
She was upto date with whatsapp, video chats, using her mobile phone and loved
eating tangy golgappas and spicy barbecue.
“Apply cream on your hands and legs. And apply Evion cream on your face.” She said with an unpleasant look on her face, as she watched her granddaughter. “It is not soft
enough. You must take care of yourself. Take time out for all this. You must
not have cracked heels and chapped lips.”
A big lesson for her granddaughter.
“Come play
Uno with us.”
Pestered her great grandchildren. She mastered the new game in
fair 5 minutes and started to win the game. “I play better than you.” She said
with mischief in her eyes.
“I am thinking of taking a break from work.” The granddaughter said one day over the
phone. “No, don’t. Continue working. Not for money but for yourself. I know
you.”
A valuable advice which the granddaughter would always remember.
“You are bringing up your children well. You are a good mother.” She said to her
granddaughter after a short stay with her great grandchildren. The
granddaughter couldn’t be happier.
All these are memories today. Happy happy memories because all she gave me was happiness and joy. My Ammumma. Saying that she has been a mentor to me would be a major understatement. Of all her lessons, one will stay green forever.
The relationship between age and love for oneself should be direct. Keep adding sugar from your side to the lemons given by life and don’t shy away from taking shots.
The day she passed away, being distraught, I thought the pillars are breaking around me. Then like a spark, another thought came up. ‘We’ are becoming the new pillars for our next generation. A huge task undoubtedly. 
But like always…I will walk up the path you showed me. I will be your tail…always.

Einstein, yeh kya kar daala?

While browsing through Facebook. .. I came across a man staring at me with a huge smile on his no- nonsense kinda face. He said: My son has improved dramatically in Science and Math. I am relieved. It obviously is an advertisement for online tuitions.
But what caught me is Math and Science.

In my teaching career, I have come across enough number of parents who openly say to me, “This is English, all this is okay. Ma’am, show me Math and Science marks.” (PS: I am an English teacher)
I share this with many, and they ask me how I react. Well, I do not. Because each of these parents or children at some point of their lives will need something more than Math and Science.

I thought the 90’s was over. But frankly I feel it will never get over for Indians. Well.. we are the global leaders who are running board meetings now.  The new face of the global market. Are we?

This post is in no way saying that these subjects are detrimental. Oh my… how can I say such a thing?I am an Indian parent! But may I please take the liberty of saying they are err… over-hyped.

I was in for a pleasant surprise on my recent trip to Thekaddy. There was an in house shop run by a Kashmiri, and I happened to like quite a few things in his shop. While making the payment, he asked me about our family. There was a casual Hmmmm when I told him that M was in the IT field. He smiled and said, “Everyone is into IT nowadays. What about you ma’am?” I said, “I teach English”, and handed over my card for billing. He stopped packing and looked at me. “You are a teacher? An English teacher?” I nodded with a smile. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds. After a while, he kept his hands on his heart and spoke. “Oh my God. Aap teacher hain. Woh bhi English ki. Mein kya bolu?” I was a little surprised. “Have you even been to Kashmir, madam?” He asked. I said, “No.”
He lowered his eyes and said, “It is a beautiful place. I am also a student. I study Political Science. But because of the conditions there, I am unable to write my exams. I want to become a teacher. I have chosen political science to understand how our country is run. Only we can bring a change. IT field main tho sab log jaate hain. But I did not choose it because I want to study something ‘more’. I will become a teacher like you. But of political Science.”

I was humbled that moment. Before leaving, he sad, “I am very lucky to have met an English teacher.” All I could manage was smile.

The next day when we visited a tea estate en route Alleppey, the lady who walked us around impressed me with her smartness. Even though she was an Oriya, she had learnt decent Malayalam to communicate with her staff. (Malayalam is one of the toughest languages to learn). She asked my husband what we did in Bangalore. He told about himself and then about me. As soon as she heard that I am a teacher, she asked me what I teach. “English”, I said. “Oh really! You teach English?” Before leaving I said to her, “You are quite smart. I really liked you.” She quipped,”No, It’s been my pleasure to meet an English teacher. Language touches heart.” I said, “Yes, absolutely it does.”

Sitting in the car, I couldn’t stop wondering about these two individuals. For me, they had glamoured a subject other than Math and Science.

A few of my friends tell me that because my kids are still young, I talk like this. When they reach Grade 8 or 9, I would also be quite keen that they take up Math and Science. I don’t have an answer to this. I will cross this bridge when I reach there. But I also remind myself that I am a 90’s product of a family where no one had studied anything else other than Science and Math, (barring my aunt) and guess what? I DID NOT take up Science or Math after my 10th grade even after scoring above 95% in both the subjects in my 10th board exams. I do not know whether you can imagine the hell I went through and made my family go through too, having to convince them that I do not like either of the subjects. So I still have a hope that I would do just fine if my kids take up something beyond these subjects.

Someday I will blog about that day when it actually happens. 🙂

Scream, I should and I will

Indians are docile. And Indian women are definitely docile. From the time we are born, we are taught to not raise our voices and sit properly. We are instructed to not show exhilaration of any kind. Politeness and ‘nazar’ both are reasons. ‘Chup raho. Excited mat ho. Nazar lag jayegi’. Heard it enough. Success has to be secretly admired and enjoyed.

And then came Maria Sharapova. Holy Behold! She took grunting and screaming in sports to a whole new level. I have watched her play with my eyes wide open… oops sorry, ears wide open.

I used to play basket ball during high school. And one of the things our coach used to tell us was, “BE LOUD!” Well, I was not particularly quiet, but screaming was not my cup of tea. And then a particularly screaming episode happened when I was dis-pleasured with a friend. I remember going up to the terrace of my hostel and in a perfect state of disharmony screamed like there wasn’t a tomorrow. I didn’t (…or couldn’t) speak for two days, well, couldn’t find my voice. But the scream made me feel particularly good. It was like all my pent up emotions went off in mid air and at none particularly.

While watching the silver medal winning match of P V Sindhu, many questions ran through my mind. I was not just watching the thrilling moves by the ace badminton player, but was also observing her mentor Pulela Gopichand sitting with bated breath and constant chanting within those breaths.

When Carolina Marin fetched her first point, she startled me (In a funny way…haven’t head that kind for a long while) with her scream. My 10 year old said, “What has gotten into her?” My husband quipped, “Sportsman Spirit.” And I was waiting for Sindhu to grunt too! And she did! I wouldn’t say she matched Marin, but I was happy that she screamed loud and clear.

After Sindhu won the semi finals, I became curious about her. I was reading articles on both her coach and her. What I discovered was very interesting.

Apparently, 10 months back in his academy, Gopichand felt that while Sindhu was practicing all the right shots, she lacked the aggression which a sportsperson (especially solo players) should have. He told her to stop the practice and stand in the middle of the court and just scream. She is a Bharatiya youngster and that too a south Indian (Deadly combination, exceptions please excuse), and obviously was very conscious and uncomfortable. The coach at that point told her straight faced that she will not touch the racket till she screams. Finally a teary eyed Sindhu had to scream. And the ace player was born.

Sports definitely needs aggression and a spirit where you believe in acceleration and exhilaration. From this stems another thought process.

Expressing ourselves and teaching our children to express themselves is a life skill. I have lost count of the n number of times I have heard this, “Don’t answer back.” Think about it, What does that even mean? Actually nothing. Basically an adult’s ego does not let him/her accept a young one questioning or asking for an explanation. At this basic level itself we stop our children within the four walls of our home. Imagine this child has to go and face the world. A world, where millions of such children who have been told not to answer back, have now stepped out just like your own child. Each one with pent up emotions and questions. And then we expect a peaceful world. None of us are really equipped really to listen to a NO, or accept arguments graciously or face aggression of any form. Being a teacher, I have heard this too, “We want our child to be equipped to face the real world.” But many fail at the ground root level within their homes by asking their children to express lesser. Anger is a ‘bad’ emotion which shouldn’t be expressed. How about we teach ourselves to express it, in a better way? How about we teach ourselves how to agree to disagree, and not let our egos and hearts get trampled on.

Sports can teach us a lot. This is just one of the many things.

And yes, do make that trip to your terrace.