Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Chronicles of Siya

Her Type Of Love

Write to me something...

Something that makes me feel good,

Makes me feel loved,

Makes my heart pound,

Makes my mind heal,

I need something from you,

To ignite my thoughts,

To look forward to life,

To learn that hope is not hopeless,

Do write something to me, something...

I need some love,

Some genuine love,

Will you love me for sometime?

Will you love me like crazy?

Will you love me like real love?

Not the possessive love,

Not the egoistic,

Not the caring one too.

I need you to love me


I need the liberated love,

Where you let me live,

Let me breath,

Let me be myself,

And I let you be the same,

Then we live together in love!

This is how Siya defined her kind of love. Yet it never happened to her because she let them go and they never came back to her. After all they were not doves to return. They were more of migrating birds. They migrated from one heart to another if you would let them go. She could have caged them. But she believed if you cage then slowly but surely love will fade away. You will be left with a vacuum, nothingness. You feel the void when you are not in love. She did not want that anymore in her life as she had seen it enough. Done and dusted. 

She always sought love. Never ever love came to her or whatever came to her was not love. So whenever someone asked her "do you have a boyfriend?" or "what's your love story?", she never had one in particular to talk about. Instead, she had a lot of them! Each time she unfolded a different story to different people. They called her Junior Madhavikkutty who was known as the princess of love. Those who read Madhavikkutty would know. Hence, Siya P Mahesh always had an ocean of love stories to tell. The most favourite of hers was her first love. Again, it can not be referred to as love to be precise. When you read along, you may decide.

The Unforgettable First Love

For anyone, first love is always unforgettable. It was no different for Siya too. The indelible story goes like this; Siya was in third grade when she met Moni. Moni was the studious boy in the class. The class leader of boys. Being the leader of girls she tried to impress the boy as far as possible yet never even a glance he returned. His shy demeanor made him more appealing to her. He looked at girls as if they were some weird creatures. Later, at some point he began to converse with her when there were no other ways left out rather than communicate with the other leader of the class. Siya too deliberately made some scenarios to keep the conversation on. She was thrilled. Unfortunately the next two incident trails made all her dreams turn into nightmares. It was difficult to tell whether the first one or the second one was more pathetic. That most unlucky day, appeared like a bad dream. 

Third period Clara Miss was going on and on with her amazing Math skills. Siya has a fear of Mathematics. The hate towards Math insisted her to go to the washroom often in the middle of every Math class. Most of the time it was a fake act to scoot from that period. But that day was different. She really felt the pressure. When asked, the teacher denied. Obviously Clara Miss knew her tricks well by now. After a few moments it was unbearable that she couldn't hold it anymore and the pressure released. Sitting in the front row, she could feel her wet skirt touching her skin. Imagine the embarrassment. Tears made her little cheeks wet too. Later what happened, she can not recall clearly until now. Everything was foggy while the teacher took her out of the class.

Post this incident whatever image she was trying to build up in front of Moni was washed off in utter embarrassment. Apparently, those who excel in naming ceremonies in the class, gave her some fascinating new names. 'Siya Pee Mahesh' , Siya peeya, CM (Classil Mulli in Malayalam) etc were a few amongst them. Leave all that aside, then came the second thud. What a plight! Listen to this now.

Siya and her friends used to walk to school daily. Moni's house was on the way to school which was news to her. Recently she came to know that the red house with a dog on the front porch, that she was too scared of, was Moni's. Apart from Math, Siya had a fear of dogs too. Apparently, Moni's dog was a huge, scary one. Always his tongue outside, with a predator look on his face, he reminded her of a monster. Their front gate used to be always closed. Still Siya was scared to death even to look at the monster. She never knew this monster dog was going to play the role of the villain in her first love story. 

That particular day, Siya and her friends were dawdling back home after class. They reached near Moni's house and Siya spotted the monster lying on the left side of the road showing his shiny monstrous fangs. How did he come out? Did they forget to close the gate? How should I pretend that I am not scared of him? So many questions and no answers flashed in front of her like a term exam Math question paper. Her heartbeat raised to the extent that she could clearly hear the "dhak dhak karne laga…" song running in background. She changed her side from left to right cunningly. But Mr.Villain was the cleverest. He could smell something fishy from miles away. Perhaps, Siya and the dogs shared some kind of telepathic relationship. They always knew when Siya was around and came for her.

"Aiyooo!!..." She made a subtle cry. Disney her best friend, warned her not to say Aiyyoo anymore because her grandmother told her that Aiyyoo was the devil's son's name. If you utter that word he will come for you right away. True that! "He is right in front of us now." She cried again.

Our villain too got up and changed sides seeing the suspicious moves of Siya. They both performed some kabadi movements and finally the villain was almost near Siya. He was gunning for the perfect prey. That moment of lightning, she chose to run as fast as possible. She screamed for help on top of her voice and ran for her life. Till then with all suspicious looks there stood the villain like a vigilant police officer. Upon hearing the loud cry and seeing her running for no reason, the villain was indeed certain about his assumptions. He too started chasing the culprit. 

Moni's mother who was about to drink her evening tea after a tiring day, came out running towards the gate hearing the loud cry of a girl and opened the gate. In that hurry the gate hit her chest in full force and she fell down with a thud. Siya's friends came running towards her. Meanwhile, Siya's marathon came to an abrupt end in front of Moni and his father who went out to buy veggies. Siya hid behind Moni's father. The villain too stopped seeing his boss. For the first time, Siya saw a wide smile on Moni 's face. She couldn't really figure out that deep smile though.

What a pity! She was shattered into pieces. The rest of the story need not be told I guess. 

Next day, the whole school was giggling at her. She and Disney were discussing the evil day occurred and took some strong decisions.

Siya pouted and blabbered, "Now they will give me new names again yaar. Moreover, the whole village would have come to know about this now. I don't think I will get a bridegroom from this village anymore." At that tender age she believed marriage was the ultimate goal of life and if you didn't, you were useless. Your life was wasted. Hats off to the social conditioning.

Disney was very thoughtful in this regard. She said, "Don't you worry. Look, though Kerala looks like karela, we have fourteen districts and so many villages in each district. If not from this village you will get your match from any one of these. So just calm down girl. Just forget this Moni... Maani and all. He doesn't deserve you."

Siya felt the breath of life. So there are still chances, she sighed. Though her first love went in vain, she felt happy to go by the board. 

Shades of love

Years went by, Siya had many relationships. Unfortunately or fortunately, nothing worked out. Her friends considered her gullible enough to fall in love over and over again. However, she felt like falling in love with love itself each time. She was not in love with those people, she was in love with love itself and that made the difference. 

Neverthless, at some point of her journey Siya found out love is not the thing for her though she sought love everywhere. She learnt that education and being independent is most important. She also learnt many other lessons. Love comes and goes. And love is not a thing for all. Love is not that simple too. If it was that simple, no one would have been interested in love because people like to stick with complex things. They do not like simple things in life. 

Most of the time relationships are loveless, she felt. Let it be living together, boyfriend-girlfriend or married couple. Either you or your partner controls the other. It is fine as long as both are happy about changing themselves for love. But when it is a deliberate act to change someone in the name of love and the other person feels suffocated in your love, the scenario turns unpleasant causing distress. That's not her type of love hence her lovelife was loveless always. 

One such partner whom she crossed her path with was Sharan. As usual this also looked like a perfect relationship in the initial stages. So much love and care. Later she noticed her friend circle had reduced. She was an outgoing, bubbly person. She made friends everywhere she went. But Sharan made faces if she made a new friend or been close with any friend. If she had a girlfriend then he named her as a lesbian. If any boyfriend then he blamed that she was in another relationship. He isolated her in all means in the name of love and care. She couldn't even recognise the trap at first. But going forward she was loosing her energy, weight and enthusiasm even in daily chores. Whatever she did, he found some or other issues and convinced her to quit. Each day went in distress and fights. Two years felt like two centuries for her. The harm he caused to her self respect was beyond words. It took another year to bounce back to normal. From then on she could spot the red flags anywhere and anytime. Possessiveness can not be named as love. You can be possessive but there is a thin line between possessiveness and controlling. Once you cross it you will ruin your relationships. 

Once she found the right partner though. It was all glittery, cheesy and chocolaty like any other love. It was her type of love, the liberated one. No ego; only love. No conditions; only respect. Now you are thinking what went wrong then?! Nothing was wrong, it was just a mutually agreed thoughtful break-up. At times we need to realize that we are not going to live only for ourselves. We need family too. According to them, what if they got married and yet could not lead a peaceful life! What's the point in living together in the absence of love? Do not live for love, instead love to feel the liveliness of life. It is not necessary that all love affairs should end up in marriage in order to be called successful. Sometimes you might have to give up on your 'right partner' and move on. It is alright. 

His father got an attack and did not wish this marriage to happen. His mother too begged Siya for her husband's life. As Siya knew how much he valued his parents and family, she knew without family it was not going to be a happy ending for both of them. It was a thoughtful, planned break-up. Both on the same page, with heart wrenching pain, both wept for days and then accepted the truth. Love is painful. It is not all about roses. Love taught her to be kind, tolerant, compassionate and to unlearn many many theories. Love made her a better person. 

Siya could have become a love guru! It is all magical and she knew the magic pretty well. She understood the tricks way before they were performed. Many lovers were looking forward to her love quotes and they were the most celebrated among them. Many approached for advice and some for counseling.

We are all prejudiced about love and relationships. Love should be like this, that etc. Let go off the prejudices you are holding on to. Be in love with love. Only then you can love peacefully. She is at peace with love now.

It was a pretty tough, emotional yet beautiful journey she had. Love comes with pain and without pain no masterpiece is born in this world.  In spite of being detached from love, Siya still loves to be in love. She loves all the different shades of love which transformed her into a conjurer of love, moreover a better human being.

Let you too find peace with love!

Friday, September 2, 2022

The Changeling

Breaking news was flashing continuously on the channels. 

"India unlikely to allow return of four women who joined ISIS." 

Post lunch, Annie was indulged in sewing. That's her routine for past few years. A depressed widow living in a huge house, whose only daughter ran away with other religion boy, couldn't hold more options for time pass. Her only entertainment became sewing forever. In front of the television she sat in her wooden armchair leaning forward with a periodic back and forth motion and sewing at the same time. For her sewing was Yoga which made her calm and undisturbed of all that happened in her life. She stitched curtains, pillow covers, cushions and if nothing else then she went on with some nice scarfs and gave those to the children who came to the Church on Sundays.

Hearing the breaking news, she took her eyes off from the needle and glanced at the TV. Annie's body trembled seeing the photographs of those four ladies. Not four exactly, that one and only one photo pierced her eyes. Her rocking chair stopped, the cloth and needle fell on the floor whilst she got up with a thud. She anxiously waited for the photos to appear again and confirmed that was Anitta, Anitta Mary Peter - her only child!

It's been almost 8 years she lost contact with her daughter. It was an intercast marriage and obviously Annie was not happy with it. Peter wouldn't have agreed to it as well if he was alive. 

"If I support this then his soul will never forgive me..." that is how she justified herself whenever someone raised the matter. But underneath her heart, there hid a mother who always wished her child all the happiness. Any mother would have that right?

Annie and Peter had raised their child with so much love and care like all other parents. A pious and orthodox family. Peter was an army man and Annie a teacher. As a result every aspect of their life was strictly regimented. Anitta grew up with such discipline and belief. That is what they believed until the day they got the shocking news about their daughter. Anitta eloped with a boy from another religion. With their shattered self-esteem they were ashamed to face the society. The mountain of pride they had built in all those years erupted like a volcano.

But there was a small glitch which only Annie knew about her child. Anitta had a best friend Niya. They were together from childhood. Later in her teens during a birthday party at home Annie got the shocking truth of their actual friendship. They were connected in all means. How one earth Annie, the believer could digest the idea of homosexuality. No! never ever. She thought about all the aftermaths of this relationship coming in limelight. For a believer this is obviously an unforgiving satanic act. If her father came to knew about it he wouldn't mind being a murderer himself.  

From then Anitta and Niya were separated by Annie. She somehow convinced her husband then Anitta was sent to her uncle's house in another faraway city. Annie carried the secret like a heavy rock on her heart. Perhaps, in reality somewhere inside her heart the news of her daughter running away with a boy gave her a little bit of relief as well as happiness. Better than the worst, she thought.

The news spread faster than wildfire. Neighbours tittle-tattled as much as they could. That's how Annie came to know her son-in-law's name, Rahman. Once Anitta left the house, all their routines collapsed. They spent their days in silence, not eating on time, gazing through the windows. Sleepless nights gifted them more older looks than their actual age. Neither they were interested in picking up telephone calls nor seeing kins. Some of them came home to visit. But Annie and Peter made faces and did not pay attention to the conversations. Annie found peace in prayers so she spent her days indulged in praying. She hoped her daughter will return one day. Later, Peter went back to warfront and never came back home. She searched for Anitta to inform her father's demise. Unfortunately all search went in vain. She lost the last hope of meeting her daughter. She lost her faith. Annie's single journey began there. 

It is not easy to live alone for a lady in a society where women empowerment rests only in the posts of armchair activists. Living single is not a thing for all. You need to be little more bold, little more strong. Literally you must be a boss lady. Else you are going to be washed off in a jest in the gossips. Annie was not one of that kind until her husband's death. Like all other housewives she too was submissive and duteous. But inside, she was strong. She knew it well. That's the reason she acted passive. She could handle all those tantrums of her army strict husband. The real Annie, the bold avatar emerged later which was something new for the rest of the world around her. 

Some of them recommended a second marriage. She was fifty and looked much younger than her actual age. So that was the most suggested option. A pretty widow living alone is not a good sign for the society.

She fought alone all these challenges, and finally God brought her child back! She couldn't believe her eyes. She slapped her own wet cheeks to make sure it was not a dream. The next challenge for her was to bring her daughter back home. She pleaded to all kind of Government authorities through her husband's army contacts. Annie came to know that Anitta has a little boy with her- Annie's grandson. That just whetted her appetite to meet them as soon as possible. It took few months to convince the Government. Annie was successful in the task. She went to the extent of traveling to Delhi. As per the Government, her daughter was an anti-national, radical moron. There was very less chance to release her to India. The only chance was Anitta's son. That was the only point she got - sympathy. She fought, she pleaded for her grandson. As per the officials who went to talk to Anitta, she was not even changed a bit. They said she is still poisonously radical and is a threat to the country. Annie was sure whatever her daughter be, she can change her mind, she will change her. When she got an opportunity to talk to her, Annie made her convince that at least for the time being act appropriately or else she will have to live her life in the prisons of Afghanistan forever. Finally everything fell in place. 

The night before their arrival was a Christmas - Hanukkah moment for Annie. She couldn't sleep all night. And the big day arrived. Her eyes were moist with tears of joy that she couldn't even see clearly her daughter and grandson stepping out of the car. She ran into Anitta and hugged her tightly as if she was not going to leave her anymore to anywhere. Anitta too cried like a small child. Years of affection and love poured out of both of their hearts. The whole scene made others who gathered too sob. There were media persons, relatives, neighbours and many others who came to know the International news and wanted to witness the great uniting moment of the mother and daughter. 

Annie hugged Anitta and sighed in her ears, "Anitta... my child!"

Anitta replied softly, " I am not Anitta. I am Sadeekha, Sadeekha Rahman."

Annie was dumbstruck for a moment. The next moment she regained consciousness and kissed Anitta's forehead.

Days passed. Annie learned that her grandson doesn't speak any other language other than Urdu. One more thing she noticed was Anitta and the boy share a brother-sister kind of relationship! Whenever she picked this topic Anitta will give some excuse to escape. Annie observed each movement of Anitta. After a month or so she understood one thing. It was not Anitta, it was Sadeekha living with her whom was unknown to Annie. Her acts, her character, her beliefs, her mannerisms nothing remained similar to Anitta. 

One particular day, Annie deliberately made a conversation during tea time. Both sitting in the verandah gazing at the clear sky as if nothing was wrong between them. For a minute no one spoke. Then Annie decided to be the ice-breaker, slurping her hot tea.

"Anitta, today you have to speak. I am your mother and I have the right to know about my child. Tell me why are you still there?? Why don't you just start a new life? I am here to support you. Let go off the past."

"Mummy please... I can't. I can not talk about this. If I talk, I belch all of it and you won't be able to digest it."

"Honey, I know I had hurt your feelings. I am sorry but, do not punish me like this. I waited only for you all these years. I can not bear this burden of guilt anymore. Forgive me and forget all."

"Let me make this clear for you. It is impossible for a come back. You never tried to understand my feelings. You were living for the society not for me, not even for yourself. You were afraid of society. Do you remember the day I begged you for my life. I will never be able to forget my Niya. Nevertheless you did not care about what I wanted. This is my revenge, my life is my revenge. You did not let me live my life. You couldn't accept your child. I couldn't love anyone in my life after that incident.  You know one truth? I have never been married to Rahman. Rahman just helped me for my revenge. This boy... he is not your grandson too. I was using him to escape from the prison. I knew there will be a chance of sympathy. Do you want some more ...?"

Annie stood like a statue. She cried,

"Why did you kill innocent people? What did they do to you? You could have killed me instead. My child can not kill anyone...ohhh God...! Forgive my child, forgive..."

"Stop this drama Mummy. Enough is enough. Killing was a part of my job. I wanted you to be ashamed of your daughter in front of this society, the society you were scared of. You were afraid that my homosexuality will shatter your pride. And now see... the same had happened! ha ha ha... You must die out of shame. I have either killed or helped my mates to kill many soldiers. Who knows, if I had killed my father too! Then am much self-satisfied." She sighed.

Annie felt petrified. She couldn't take it anymore. She ran out of the verandah to the backyard. She wept like a baby sitting under the mango tree. All of a sudden she stood up and murmured, "This is not my child. This is a changeling. Devil has taken my child. This is a changeling, am sure..." She blabbered on and on like a mad woman.

Annie did not eat, sleep nor talk for rest of the day. The next day she acted perfectly normal. Anitta was surprised to see her mother's casual behavior. How could she act as if nothing has happened! 

Annie looked happier than any other day. She made special dishes for lunch. When Anitta peeped inside the kitchen she was busy making the dessert. Anitta guessed, mother might be acting weird because of the shocking talks happened yesterday. Let her overcome. She went back to her room.

Annie looked around before taking out the small glass bottle from the cupboard. While slowly pouring the liquid in to the rasmalai mix with a spiteful smile, she kept on blabbering, " are devil's child..." 

Anitta loves rasmalai, let her eat how much ever she likes today. Let her have the sweetest death ever. 

"Oh my child... I miss you, I miss you..." Annie muttered in silence. Tears rolled down her cheeks and fell into the sweetest death.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Mission Mirage - Pursuit Of A Perfect School

Following my previous post 'Mission Impossible - The Maid Hunt', I had another spark about the next most infamous hunt which is the "The School Hunt ''. Especially post covid when the schools reopened none of them are fully equipped hence facing many challenges which definitely make the parents go furious. I would not even say the word 'unhappy' or 'disappointed' but only 'furious'! It is as bad as that here. 

You might be thinking " what?! Is she not a parent? Doesn't she have complaints about the school?" Oh! yes, of course mommies and daddies! I am also in the same boat. In India education is a business and we are all customers. I can't blame the fact that in a business when a customer pays money they are entitled to receive the best service at any point of time. Moreover when we are handing out our most precious products for their best future, the expectation is way higher. Money is the game changer. 

This was not the case when we were children. Our parents gave zero pressure to the school. If we got low marks no one questioned the teacher, instead we used to get 'sticky' notes. Literally no one cared where we went to pee, whether the teacher was 'really' completing the portions, whether we were doing homeworks etc. Because there was less business and more honesty. Most teachers were well experienced and honest in their profession. They were experts in handling even the notorious students. That era is over. 

Present day, parents are the ultimate pressure cookers. They pressurise themselves and make others too when it comes to kids. I agree pressure is needed to an extent but what if it becomes too much to hold! 

From the time a child is born parents are in the look out for the best school in the area. If there is not one they are even ready to move out in search of one. Even we are no different. We (it's not we actually it's my husband) have done our research well in this subject too. It is necessary especially when you have two children. We went to all kinds of schools. Some were out of our budget, some were cheap, few of them were unreachable, some were not transparent enough or fancy, some were religious. All these opinions were derived from the first few visits to these schools. This is nothing. I know people who made excel sheets of different schools with fees and amenities updated and I must say it was a great help. This excel sheet was circulating in many groups for some time.

The thing is, be clear with what you want, what are your expectations. If you are going with your friend's or kin's advice and select the school then there are chances you may be disappointed later. If they are happy with their school that means it satisfies their expectations, not yours. 

Now you have found a school. The fact about the school hunt is... in this whole earth none of the parents are 100% happy about their ward's school. Wherever you go you can seek issues. No school is perfect. I will give you a few scenarios and you can definitely read yourself somewhere in between the lines. 

Post Covid schools are seeing a surge in admissions. As it is a big shot business no schools are ready to admit that they are not well equipped to accommodate these huge numbers. Many old teachers have left and new teachers have come in place. Not only teachers but maid aunties, driver uncles all are fresh faces. Hence the human resource is under trained. 

Let's listen to the parents. 'Covidasura' is still lingering around so we all need our kids to wear masks to school and expect the school staff to follow covid appropriate behaviours. Unfortunately, we all know the truth that this is practically not possible in a public environment like school. If the teacher is wearing a mask throughout eight periods then what will be her condition after a day?! Also if the teacher wears a mask while taking class whether the child can really understand what she says?

"Auw avaa bua kungfu" according to me they might be hearing something similar to this. 

Leave all this, how many of you take your kids out on weekends? How many of you allow your child to play with other kids in your apartment daily? How many of you send your kids to swimming or any other common activities? Do you think your children are wearing masks throughout all these times? If the answer to my last question is yes, Alas!! Incredible parent you are! I have nothing more to say. You have every right to complain. But if the answer is no, then think about it before you complain.

School dispersal was chaotic on the first few days in all the schools. One of my friends was worried as the dispersal was not taking care properly on the first day especially for the day scholars/self pick-up. Parents were gathered in front of the school gate as if there was some protest going on. One parent commented, "parents were acting like someone had held the kids hostage and they were dying to get their children back!" Hilarious!! No one was ready to wait or be in a line. The whatsapp/telegram groups were flooded with more than five hundred messages by night. Instead of complaining why don't the parents take initiative, manage themselves, and be patient to go in a line. At times we act worse than kids. Teachers even have a saying amongst them, "kids are manageable but not parents!". Luckily within the next few days the scene was better I heard. 

One of my old colleagues called a few days back and she was also telling me exactly similar stories from other schools. She told me one of the incidents happened in a new so-called prestigious best reviewed International school which was shocking. Her nephew is in pre-primary and the first day was horrible. The security took the child from her. 

She asked, "Do you know which class my son is in?" 

He said, "No Madam, I will handover him to the aunty. She will take him to the class."

Then she insisted on accompanying him till aunty took over. Security handed over the child to aunty. 

Now she repeated her question. "Do you know which class my son is in?" 

Aunty rolled her eyes, "No Madam..." 

Mother got furious, "Then where are you taking my child?" 

"I will handover to some teacher, madam!"

When I heard this I was relieved our school is far better than this! Few other parents sighed, "Oh God! we are all sailing the same boat."

Any school you go to there will be a thousand complaints parents would have raised within these two weeks. Bathrooms are not clean, there are not enough maids on the floor, the teacher is not allowing my kid to go to toilet, teacher is taking class very slow, teacher is rushing and kids are unable to follow, they are not sending all books home, we don't know what is teaching in class, teacher is not letting my child talk/play, homeworks are not clear, play area is not safe, buses are not airy, there is not enough changing rooms in swimming class, online class would have been better, they should try hybrid model... the list goes on and on. Every parent group is bombarded with issues and worries. There is no end to this. While we parents are getting panic attacks, just look at our bundle of joys. What are they up to? They are happily playing, reading, doing homework and not bothered about anything happening around them. They are as cool as ice. Some of them even try to help the parents by saying "Mumma, it's ok...relax." 

I recently wrote a diary note in my daughter's diary (7th Grade) asking if the collection of books from the locker can be managed better as she was missing many books saying it's a rush during dispersal time. For this, she pouted and told me, "Mom, it is so embarrassing and I will get bad names in class. Please don't write diary notes, I am not a small kid." I was like... what else I could have done!? But also I understand her situation as a teenager. Anyways post that it got better. 

I am trying to conclude, the perfect school is a mirage. When you are in this school, you feel all other schools are doing well and only our school is in very bad condition. When you are in one of the other schools, you feel that the previous one was better. Understand that after a long gap of two years all are back in school. The kids, teachers and everyone else need time to settle. Give some time to settle down. Even then the problems persist then talk about it. So, there is no point in arguing, making fuss and fighting with school for each and everything. Instead try walking in, talk to teachers, management and solve the issues. That will do good. 

Hope you find peace with your child's school soon! Happy schooling ;-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mission Impossible : The Maid Hunt

Yes! This is an impossible mission to achieve. Getting that perfect maid in your dreams! In case anyone has made this 'Mission Maid' possible, hats off to you guys! We envy you so much. 

My maid hunt began only after I had kids. As just  married couple we both managed cleaning and doing dishes well. But the plot changed once kids came into our lives. And once in every two years or so we had to shift house as we were the usual Bangalore IT professionals who aspire to go back to native and settle at any given opportunity. 

Fortunately my first two experiences with maids in Bangalore were quite good. They both were good and took care of cleaning part with least supervision. Along with providing food, we looked after any medical expenses which were serious. It was a win-win situation for both. They were honest and trustworthy. Only now, I realize their real value and how lucky I was! They never complained about salary. Thousand five hundred was minimum wage for 'jhadu pocha' and doing dishes, cleaning the kitchen. Bathroom cleaning happened twice a week. (Cooks I haven't tried yet). They attended to each and everything pro actively. Shanthi Akka and Shaarda Akka, I am very much grateful to them. We gave hikes every year more than the hikes we used to get from our so-called IT hubs. Happy maid, happy home!

Again plot change... Now we have two kids. The dream of settling in native has become a mere dream itself. Enough of this shuttling. We decided to settle in this much cooler city and bought our own house in Sobha. Even kids are grown up and they are like "we are ok with visiting visa to native but no permanent visa mom and dad". They speak as if they were in Bangalore for 50 years and we are asking them to leave everything and go somewhere! It's been four years in Sobha, the real challenge began. 

I was in the hallucination that all maids are the same and they will be like my previous akkas. But after reaching Sobha I have learnt many lessons. Let me explain. I haven't changed my maid in these four years. I have enough reasons for not changing her. In Sobha 90% maids are Bengalis. For them this is like a gulf job. One comes first and then they bring the whole family here and send money to native. They have great respect in their village as they are the rich ones in the family and made a concrete house with tiles on the floor. 

Firstly let me tell you the challenges I had with my dream maid.

Language barrier : I knew Tamil and Hindi quite well so I thought it would be easy to communicate. But she is a pure Bengali and her Hindi also sounds like Bengali. Actually it is Bangla they speak. We all know from where they migrated. Now, whatever I tell she understands half and the rest half is guess work and vice versa. I am still learning. I understood one trick that you need to add an 'O' sound to the words, then it will become almost Banglandi (Bangla+Hindi). Shakthi becomes Shokthi, Darr becomes dorr, bus becomes bos etc. Some words are even separated while spelling it. For example: Brush - Barash, clap - calap. These tricks might help you to communicate in a better way. Thank me later ahh ;-) Meanwhile try not to forget your original pronunciations as it may create problems at your workplace. 

Supervisory role : This is a dirty job which I used to hate even during my working days. I really can not rule people nor be strict/rude with them which I am still learning and getting better at it gradually. My husband is top at this though he hates people management. In turn he trains me in this field so that I can manage my house help. Most of the maids here are lazy or too busy as they are working in more than 10 houses on a daily basis and time management is very important. So, if you are not supervising (minimum once in two days) them and giving out instructions they will just flee away leaving half the job for you to do. If there is a chair or chappal on the floor they will clean perfectly around that as if that is glued to the floor. Kitchen will be half clean. Dishes will have residues of food. Bathroom will have all the dirty water flowing all over. Some will use the cloth only once dipped in the bucket of water to mop the whole house. Hence the floor will have stains. These are all common issues. But if you have time to manage, then you can effectively train and change your maid to an average one. Time and patience is also important.

Attrition/Ghosting : This was not so popular until the last two years. Now comes the new gen maids who are postmodern and do not encourage the above mentioned supervisor madams. If they feel we are trying to control their work or salary is less according to them then that will be the last time you will see them. From next day they will neither come to your doorstep nor pick your calls. As Sobha is a big community (around 6000 houses) they are sure they will get another house in no time. If someone is ready to pay them more than you pay, ghosting happens again. My friend has changed four maids in three months! Listening to these 'ghost' stories I got scared and decided to keep my old maid itself. Something is better than nothing.

The great attitude : This is something that irks all of us. You correct them/give suggestions and they pout or talk back or ghost you. There was this nanny with my cousin for years. She is good at work but over the years acted like her mother-in-law. She was fed up and got rid of her recently. Same story with another friend. Do not even ask me about new gen nannies who are quite busy handling their social media reels and if you have a word, no looking are cursed!

Give me a break! Let's listen to the cooked up stories of our Master Chefs. I do not have much say on this as I have tried none till date. I decided so, seeing the cooks of my friends. In Sobha, they come home with a hashtag "I am the best cook here". The package is also overwhelming. Dinner is more costly. Once they start cooking only then you find out that they are not real cooks but aspiring cooks who fell into this category only to earn an income easily. According to them, if you know how to make chapati/paratha and aloo curry then you have passed for a cook's job (Don't you feel like a Master Chef now?). If you are ready to take risks you can ask for more and explore their skills. Never ask the name of the dish though! Sambar may look like Chinese curry, vegetable curry may taste like sambar. Try at your own risk.

Apart from all these challenges they create, I must point out the challenges we create ourselves for reasons I still don't know!! I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings but I have to say this. There are people who want only Hindu maid, Vegetarian maid and the list goes on. Do you have any idea that you have only 10% where you can select from and you are doing the elimination process in that too. Your chances of getting a maid ( I didn't say good maid) is likely to be 0.0009%. No offense, but I really wish to say more but it is not safe considering the current situations, you know…

Let me conclude. This is a never ending hunt. If you are a working couple I pity you in this matter as it will be difficult to supervise as I said earlier. All the best and try more options. If one of you is not working then you have fifty percent chance to train, mold into average skill level and make them stay as long as possible. Hope you all run into your dream maid one day! 

Happy maid, Happy home... :)

Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Great Indian Depression

It's been a while, I sit writing one story then the next few lines, I am stuck with another one. I just can't move forward as if there is a traffic block of letters in front of me. Usually the so-called 'Block' will happen if you run out of words or you are sinking in a pile of ideas where you are lost, thinking of which one to write. I feel I fall into the latter for a change wherein often I had encountered the first scenario. 

I have a ton of things to write about. I consider current affairs but then I don't want to be stamped as an anti-national and proceed to dungeons. I could write about my own life which is again equal to a suicidal attempt. No no no! Next comes books, plants, children, Covid, love, kings and queens, feathered friends, finger licking food... the list goes on and on. Then I end up writing none. What a dilemma! This is how we humans are right? We have millions of thoughts running parallely through our mind and head while we are stuck at no where, unable to choose between brain and heart. So, finally I've decided to talk about us, people, and their emotions. I hope this doesn't end quite emotionally.

The 'Me' inside 'Me'...

She called me on a cloudy evening while I was chilling with my coffee on the balcony, observing the crows on the branches of a nearby tree. Why are they sitting on this tree and watching me and my family all the time? I wondered. Something quirky. Looks like a family to me - crow mom, crow dad and two crow kids. Might be our ancestors who came to safeguard us from evil eyes. The mobile cried at the same moment when I was about to make a fake 'caw' sound to communicate with the family. Anyways, I can postpone this conversation to tomorrow as well. They are not going to go anywhere until the babies become teenagers. But this one calls me once in a blue moon. So let's communicate with her first, I thought. It's been months ever since we have spoken. There are these people whom you can throw yourself to even after years and years as if you have just spoken yesterday. She is one of them for me. We knew each other for more than a decade. As usual we began the conversation.

"Hey, you know what...! Me... residing in me is talking to me about me"- 

Is she in trans?!

"oy oy what's happening? You too fell for him!??" I gasped.

"Not yet, apparently his words of wisdom have come true in my case. Listen... all these days it was me talking to myself. But now, there is a third me inside me talking to both the 'me's ! You know, earlier any issue happened the second me used to advise and suggested alternatives and we used to resolve somehow. I was at peace at the end of the day. Now the third me has arisen and it's a total mess. Whatever we both say she wouldn't agree. I am confused and going mad. Am I really crazy?? Just wanted to check if you have encountered this phenomenon at any point of time!"

After listening to her I felt like I was also going crazy! Because at times I too had these multiple personalities peeping at me from the backstage of my mind. Reminded me of Vikram's 'Anyan' film. One person with multiple personalities living inside. I am sure most of us especially, those who are in their mid 30's would. They call it a midlife crisis it seems!

Another friend texted me saying she feels sad for no reason, always stressed. She can sleep well but when she wakes up it feels like someone has put a huge rock on her heart. Is this depression? What could I say!

I am neither a medical person, nor an expert in psychology. But I am a psychology enthusiast and always have been doing my own research on these topics. Unfortunately in India, there is no concept called 'Mental Health'. People hesitate to discuss it, even if they do, the society will rather give them a tag - "ohh paagal hein/ ithiri vattundu/ athu oru loosu etc (he/she is mad) ". 

So we feel it is better to normalize our negative feelings and we keep suppressing them deep inside. We bury them deep inside our hearts so that they don't peep outside and make any noise.

That won't work for a longer period of time. The volcano has to burst somehow in the long run. Something lit in my brain. Yes! I got the key. The crows; my mind connected the dots. The key is 'Communication'.  

I told her, "look, you need to open up to someone at some point. Do not let it burst, rather let it pour. Pour your feelings, talk to someone. Choose the fourth me from outside and the other 'me's will disappear automatically. At least for that reason I could anticipate more calls from you!" I giggled.

I guess the pouring technique works for most. It is like decluttering your mind. You allow yourself to flow without any inhibitions, expectations. You just need a good listener. You being the radio and they being the listener. So, choose wisely. World has a deficit of this kind. Hope it is working for her as we have a lot more conversations nowadays and she doesn't mention her 'Anyans' anymore.

The Positive Era

Be positive is the most seen flashy quote in the last few years. People have become too positive that even their RTPCR test results turn positive nowadays. Oh! Come on, just kidding. We are sinking ourselves into the deep positivity trench that even a bit of negativity can shatter us. We do not want to see negativity anywhere around us where we are living in a world full of negativities. We are dreaming of an ideal world, ideal people, ideal thoughts which is a mere dream. They tell us to ignore the negative people wherein we are sharing one roof with them! They might be our family, colleagues or neighbours. How will you avoid them on a daily basis? I have seen people living in a bubble. The positive wave has been hit so hard. We are unable to distinguish between real negative and false negative. In the name of positivity what is really happening? You know what is positive but you don't see that much around you. On a daily basis at home, office, college you see a lot of negativity. As per the positivity experts your parents, kins and acquaintances are all negativity bombs. Now you are not happy because you want to get rid of all this negativity. They say stay away from negative people which is practically not possible for you. As a result you are always in a sad and confused state. You are losing your real happiness. You are spending all your energy to fight with negative people or to make them understand. You were doing far better before the positive era. This is what it means "too much of anything is not good". 

Why do you think our new generation has taken suicide so lightly? Even for a small worry they choose to flee away from life. Fight or flight- they don't know to choose wisely, when to fight and when to fly. They are scared to face the challenges, risks. Instead of telling them to stay away from negativity we should teach them how to handle negativity. Unfortunately, from the time a child is born to schooling they preach about perfect parenting, perfect teaching. We endorse good mental health of the child by affirming each day that they are special and unique. Think about it, after all these special treatment when they become adults is the world going to give them the same treatment? Just take an example at work. Will their boss/colleagues be going to give them a special, unique or equal kind of approach? Is their life and society going to be non-judgemental? No, never. In any of our human history there is no society who were supportive enough. There will always be derogatory and pejorative remarks. We can make people handle this chaos only by exposure. If you are keeping your child in a bubble with least interactions and always pampering  then he/she will be least exposed to negativity therefore most fragile. Absolutely, experience matters. We learn from our experiences. This doesn't mean that you need to send your children to the war-front. It means let them learn how to handle criticisms, how to handle judgmentalism.

Rather than preaching about positivity, help them to get along, help them to be happy in small things. Teach them gratitude, teach them compassion, teach them generosity, teach them to handle real bullies, teach them to be bold not rude(nowadays bold means rude!), teach them to be independent yet sociable. This will help them to survive in future. 

See what happened to one of my friends recently. She was a positivity bomb. She wanted to think positive, see positive, listen positive, breath positive... Oh my! She posted positive posts from morning to night. She will tell us, "You know, always surround yourself with positive people. Think positive, that will give you positive energy in life." She declared herself as the official brand ambassador of positivity. And then I met her after a while, everything changed. The real story unfolded. She was sinking in depression. I was shocked. Due to the surge of positivity in mind yet the lack of positivity around herself she started to feel negative. Whatever her parents, relatives, colleagues say she could sense negativity only.  She was suffocated, stressed and didn't know how to avoid her own family and friends. She had undergone counseling and was prescribed antidepressants. Now, she has understood one thing that it is not possible to eradicate negativity from your life but it is possible to wisely manage it. She knows her parents love her abundantly, apparently their old way of handling things and traditional thoughts were not going hand in hand with hers. She understands the issue very much now and learnt to handle it slowly. There is no point in fighting, instead try ignoring the comments not their love and care. 

Hope it made some sense. Mental health is as important as physical health and too much positivity is also not so good for your mental health is what I learnt. So to all the positivity experts please educate us how to handle negativity rather than just saying surround yourself with positive people. I am afraid we don't have so much positivity left in this world to surround ourselves with, else we might have to create bio bubbles to live in. Because each person has their own positives and negatives. How many of you are sure about yourself being positive to everyone at all the instances? Not so sure, right? It is the same for all. Like us, they too have two sides. Accept it and be grateful, happiness will follow. 

Be an optimist not a positivity bomb.

Monday, March 21, 2022

World Poetry Day

There was a village where people never heard about poetry. Once a poet came across the village. He sat under a banyan tree and began to write poems. Upon reading his poems some people cried, some smiled, some were enlightened and few turned out to be brave enough to fight against injustice. The news flashed all over the village that one magician has reached who can influence their thoughts and emotions. People ran towards the banyan tree in excitement. 

Then the poet told, " I am no magician. The words are magical. The language and literature is magical. They never die. They can ignite and influence our thoughts and emotions. They always surprise us with miracles! Try writing something of your own."

ലോക കവിതാദിനം

കവിത എന്തെന്നറിയാത്ത
ഒരു ഗ്രാമത്തിൽ ഒരിക്കൽ ഒരു
കവി ചെന്നുപെട്ടു. ഒരാൽ മരത്തിന്
കീഴെയിരുന്ന് അയാൾ കുറെ
കവിതകൾ എഴുതിക്കൂട്ടി.
അയാളുടെ കവിതകൾ വായിച്ച്
ചിലരുടെ കണ്ണ് നനഞ്ഞു,
ചിലർ ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ് സന്തോഷിച്ചു,
മറ്റു ചിലർ ആശ്വാസം കണ്ടെത്തി,
ചിലരാകട്ടെ പോരാടാനുള്ള ധൈര്യം കണ്ടെത്തി.
നാട് മുഴുവനും വാർത്ത പരന്നു.
ആളുകളെ നിന്ന നില്പിൽ കരയിക്കാനും ചിരിപ്പിക്കാനും കഴിവുള്ള ഒരു മാന്ത്രികൻ വന്നിരിക്കുന്നു എന്ന്. കേട്ടവർ കേട്ടവർ ആൽ മരത്തിൻ കീഴെ ഒത്തു കൂടി. മാന്ത്രികനെ കാണാൻ. 

അയാൾ പറഞ്ഞു, " ഞാൻ ഒരു മാന്ത്രികനുമല്ല. ഈ എഴുത്താണ്, കവിതയാണ് മാന്ത്രികൻ. എഴുതുവിൻ, നിങ്ങളെക്കൊണ്ടാവും വിധം. അത് നിങ്ങളുടെ വിചാരങ്ങളെയും വികാരങ്ങളെയും ഉദ്ദീപിപ്പിക്കും. ഭാഷയും സാഹിത്യവും ഒരിക്കലും മരിക്കുന്നില്ല.  അവ എന്നും അദ്ഭുതങ്ങൾ കാണിക്കും!"

The Chronicles of Siya

Her Type Of Love Write to me something... Something that makes me feel good, Makes me feel loved, Makes my heart pound, Makes my mind heal, ...