Friday, October 30, 2020

FINGER-LICKIN GOOD!

 FINGER-LICKIN GOOD!


I was invited to dine at the house of a relative of mine who happened to be a relic of the Portuguese era. I was awfully late for the show; my hostess was extremely polite and waved aside my insincere apology with the same brand of duplicity. She placed my purse atop her ornate sideboard and elegantly guided me to the dining room. 

The food court was resplendent with delicately carved chairs around a long wooden table, adorned with a white damask tablecloth. A huge fusion of the most exquisite and expensive blooms was in the centre. And there around it was my dinner and the guests who were already tucking in! My face fell; I had already missed the appetizer – a delicious crab soup, served with white-something. 

I sat down in the seat earmarked for me (my hostess had taken pains to make placements for her guests) and looked to my right, then to my left. Nobody I knew sat next to me. So I mustered a shy smile at one, and, having received nothing but a cold stare back, I turned 180 degrees with great hope in my heart. Hell! The gates of Hades had frozen twice over!

I looked down at the table and froze myself. In front of me were an array of forks, knives and spoons of varying sizes. What was I to do with them, I thought? I was sorely tempted to poke my frozen neighbors in the ribs with a fork, being too timid to envisage stabbing them in the back with the knife, but I let this wicked thought float out of the room with the soup bowls.

The main course began and all the invitees picked up fork, spoon and knife with the precision of veteran surgeons, cutting and lifting and chewing like nobody’s business, occasionally washing the portions down with dainty sips from the sparkling goblets at the side. I just sat there, dumbstruck, until my hostess, espying me not tucking in like the rest, enquired if I was not pleased with the fare. 

And to my utter horror, she served me a portion of  tender lamb and some potatoes, ladled a spoonful of sauce and vegetables and urged me to “Try this”. I lifted a fork to pick at the peas in the vegetable section, heard a soft gasp and put it down (I learnt later that I had picked up the dessert fork). I tried the spoon-n-fork routine but, not knowing in which hand to hold the fork and in which the spoon, I made a blunder, naturally, and earned several negative points from my disapproving audience. Steadily peering into my plate like it was a long-lost lover, I kept chewing and swallowing stoically and sparingly until I had finished. Main course over, the coffee and dessert came around; I opted for a cup of coffee. There is no protocol for that; one just has to sip and savor. I licked my frothy fawn moustache and earned a few more negative points. At long last, it was time to leave. I thanked my hostess, grabbed my purse on the way out and beat a hasty retreat home. 

There, in the company of my husband and children, I gave thanks to God, broke bread with my delicate soap-washed fingers and relished each and every morsel of mutter paneer and bhaji. Then, having licked my fingers clean, I opened a box of ice-cream from the freezer and we all dug in. 

One day, I hope to learn what the fork-n-spoon routine is all about, but my God-given fingers are what I love eating food with the best. I hear the Chinese use chopsticks – that seems a better option. Just two sticks, lightweight too! But I am told, like the complicated martial moves the Chinese are so famous for, the sticks also need some intricate maneuvers. 

Imagine going on a journey with six sets of forks, knives and spoons! Our fingers go with us everywhere we go, so I’d rather use them to the fullest. Our fingers have been with us since birth and are at our humble service. I would vote for them any day over all the man-made gadgets ever invented to make men’s lives more complicated and cumbersome. Just as I would choose running water over all the kitchen gadgets invented to make a housekeeper’s life more comfortable and carefree.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

THE PROBLEM WITH MORE!!

 THE PROBLEM WITH MORE!

“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:8)

I often find myself praying two prayers, run-on sentence style, ironically and in the same breath.

"God, I have too much."

"God, when are You going to give me more?"

On the one hand, I find myself suffocating, sputtering and gasping, unable to breathe with everything weighing on my lungs. It’s like a 2-ton to-do list sits down on my chest and refuses to move until I give it treats of endless checkmarks and infinite highlight reels.

I present my blueprints to God, these carefully drawn constructions of a life I have planned. I layer on second and third floors to a ground level that is already shaky. I ignore a foundation that is beginning to crumble under the weight of trying to become something I was never designed to be. I stare at my plans and wish for someone else’s, something grander, more ornate.

God, when are You going to give me what they have? When will my life look just like theirs?

Please give me less, God.

But please, oh please, God, when will You give me more?

The Bible tells us we were never meant to live this way: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

It’s so beautiful that Jesus would use the imagery of a yoke. A yoke was typically used to subject oxen to the bondage of constantly plowing forward, driven ever onward by the heavy weight they carried on their shoulders — sound familiar? In Matthew 11, Jesus uses it to represent the true freedom only found in coming to Him for rest. He’s saying you can lay down the weight of the hustle, this constant spinning and striving, trying to work your way into worth.

Instead, the rest He offers us is more like a tree planted by the water, as Jeremiah 17:8 says: “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

It gives more oxygen than it takes. It provides shade and shelter to those who want to come and sit by it for a while. It is a welcome place of belonging. A much-needed respite for the weary. A place to come and rest our tired souls.

Heavenly Father, I waste so much time trying to earn my worth in a world that values this fleeting currency of “more.” I’ll admit, I sometimes try to take the plans out of Your hands, believing I somehow know better. Thank You, Jesus, that You see worth in me outside of any of my works. That You offer me rest. That You love me, regardless of what I achieve or get done today. Help me to live like Your love is unfailing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 12:9.

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 



Thursday, October 22, 2020

When your home becomes your school

 

When your home becomes your school

Homeschooling as a method of education has been gaining popularity in Goa and this is quite evident with the increasing number of families joining the association. The 4th National Catholic Homeschooler Meet will be held today in Goa with an open house to answer queries from those interested in knowing more

When your home becomes your school

 Homeschooling is being redefined and coming into the mainstream education system in Goa. With many parents opting to be with their children and educating them according to their desired syllabus of various boards, homeschooling is becoming a system of security and letting the child grow without any rat race.

Dr Zenita Sequiera Vas and her husband, Lewis, are parents to five children – Luke, Jerome, Maria, Clare and John Paul. She has been homeschooling her children for the last 13 years with syllabus from the NCERT/ ICSE/CBSE boards. Her elder son, Luke, is doing his Second Year BSc at Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts & Science, Margao. “Luke loves science and it was apt that he joined the Science stream at the college. My second son has joined the religious order at 17 years. In our home, we participate in the morning mass and then follow the schedule for the day according to school time. I feel very encouraged when I see more parents opting for homeschooling as it helps the parents a lot. A child can grow to their full potential. However, it is important for the parents to be committed and the main focus should be on their child’s education. In this system, there is security, both physical as well as moral wellbeing. The onus is on the parents and the child can excel according to their potential,” say Dr Zenita. She was one of the first parents to form a support group for homeschooling parents.

Homeschooling also benefits large families with multiple children, as they grow and learn together. While the largest family that is homeschooling in Goa has eight children, a family in Kerala has 13. Most children receive homeschooling till Class 10, while some continue till Class 12 and some till graduation through correspondence. The time at home gives them the opportunity to explore their interests in other hobbies, which turn into passion like music, sports, arts and gardening. It is also important to evaluate the children every year at home.

Nadisha Coelho James from Soccoro is one of the finest examples as the first homeschooled child in Goa. A mother of a two-year-old, she completed her PhD in Psychology at IIT, Mumbai. Daughter of Anna and Valentine Coelho, her two sisters and two brothers have joined the religious order. Nadisha studied till Class 4 in school before she started being homeschooled. It was a struggle at first because it was a new concept in the early ‘90s in Goa. “We had to devise our own way to do things and we then set up a support group in Goa,” says Nadisha, who is now encouraging the system through annual meets.

Speaking about the pros of the system, she explains, “A child can learn on their own interest and pace. There is no comparison or competition with other children. There is no conflict between learning and playing. There is internal motivation and socially, the children of different age groups interact together. It is important to have discipline in following the structure.”

Son of Glenn and Auriel Ribeiro Sa from Mapusa, Aaron is one of five siblings. He was homeschooled at the age of 11 years, right after he finished his primary schooling through public school. “I found homeschooling good as I was able to study any time of the day; I could chose subjects that I liked. Hindi and History were my least favourite subjects. In public school, I never understood half the things I learnt, just by hearted them like a parrot so I could pass my tests. Also in public school, I had classmates with ill manners. They would pass notes or make noises and disturb my concentration. By being at home, I did not have any distractions except my brothers and sister. I completed my 10th board exams through National Institution of Open Schooling (NIOS) and I’m now completing my 12th board exams. I was also able to pursue my love for drawing and painting, which is my favourite hobby,” says Aaron, who plans to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts after his Class 12.

The Catholic Homeschooling families of Goa, along with the Satvana Community from the Diocese of Delhi will organise the open house session of the 4th National Catholic Homeschoolers Meet at SVD Raia on October 20, 2019 from 4:30pm to 6pm. Parents, students and alumni of homeschooling will be open to answering questions about catholic homeschooling at the venue. This is the second edition of the 4 National Catholic Homeschooler Meet that is happening in Goa. There are nearly 150 members in Goa.

HER SABBATH DAYS

 HER SABBATH DAYS


Sunday morning up with the lark, I think I will take a walk in the park. Hey, Hey, Hey, it is a beautiful day! For every human being slaving away at the office desk all through the week, Sunday must surely be the promise of Heaven. Alas, not so for my dear friend Felicity whose tortuous tale I must tell you.
Felicity is a Roman Catholic but not just any Roman Catholic. She is a Sunday Catholic. So, when everyone counts on having good sleep over the weekend, she wakes up bright and early to go to Church. Jackie, her drunken father, stirs up in bed and clutches his head in despair. The revelry of the night before manifests itself in an ominous hangover. Only a sip of unholy water can save him now. He groans as he gets dresses quickly and heads for the nearest bar in the vaddo. Felicity is busy getting ready, dressing in her Sunday best and dousing herself with a heady perfume. Arms full of jingling bangles and golden chains around her neck, she covers her head with a psychedelic scarf and emerges from her humble abode, opens her pink parasol and heads towards the Church. She is accompanied by Antonio, her pompous cologne-reeking husband, himself dressed to kill and dragging his feet purposely, to reach late and have an excuse for standing outside as usual.
My friend enters and searches for a seat right under the fan, and soon its soothing swishing lulls her to near-sleep. The choir interrupts those 20 winks by breaking out into hymn as the priest, clothed in holy vestments, takes his place at the altar. Now, Felicity loves to sing so she hits the roof with her, ‘melodious voice’, causing the worshippers around her to listen in shocked silence. A baby bawls in protest, but she manages to drown his voice with her own.
The Mass begins and people all around her drift back mentally to their homes; some plan the afternoon meal, others, the evening outing. A young lady, two rows ahead smiles secretly. Wonder what is on her mind now? A young boy looks around furtively, spots the flavour of the day and throws her a rakish smile. A little boy sprints up and down the aisle in an attempt to beat the local athletic record. A baby squawks; her mother grabs the golden opportunity to take her out for some fresh air.
The lengthy homily that follows soon after, gives our perspiring Felicity a chance to catch up on her remaining 20 winks. An old man feverishly counts the beads of his rosary as he listens to the preacher, killing two birds with one stone. A few gentlemen slip out for a breath of fresh nicotine.
Homily over, its time for offertory. The ushers make the rounds with their collection bags. Antonio searches frantically in his pant pocket, sure he had a small coin in there. He fishes out a twenty but hurriedly pushes it back. Cigarette money, you know. By the time, he looks up again, the usher has already gone past and he heaves a sigh of relief. Felicity, of course, never carries a purse so one cannot really blame her for not offering up anything.
Mass proceeds and our young damsel is in distress because she has just spotted Mrs. Fernandes, the village gossip, sitting close by in the next pew. An unkind piece of slander had been doing the rounds just a week ago, Felicity being the villainess of the piece, and our young heroine had blown into the old woman, shredding her to pieces. “Peace be with you” time nearing, she is at her wits end trying to avoid that cursed woman’s fierce looks. Hitting upon a brainwave, she drops her handkerchief at the opportune moment and thanks the young boy who picks it up for her. Now she can receive the Lord with a clear conscience.
Finally, oh, finally, the priest utters those much- awaited words, ‘Go in peace’ and Felicity genuflects muttering “Thanks be to God” meaning “Thank God” and exits, heading straight for the nearest food stall. There she stuffs her mouth with sorpotel and sanna, talking nineteen to a dozen to everyone she knows before returning home to enjoy the rest of her weekly holiday. (721 words)

AUREAL CONCEPTION

 AUREAL CONCEPTION


At the approach of dawn on the twenty-sixth of May
Unexpected joy greeted our way
Rani was born so charming and a treat
Eager faces find her so sweet
As contentment is the greatest jewel
Let it be said of our little Aureal.

Considering that we hardly landed from Cochin
Our sweet Rani appeared on the scene
Now all that may be said and done
Certainly she waited for her son
Ever so happy and gay
Prayers for her health every day
To us, she will be always dear
In our hearts, a constant cheer.
On my journey’s, I was longing to see
Now I am merry as can be.

By her Grand dad

TO A MOTHER and other poems from the heart.

 TO A MOTHER


In the stillness of the night
A whimper breaks out soft
The alert ear listens
And rushes to comfort

A glass falls; the cut is deep
A wail is all it takes
For that earnest soul
To hasten and soothe.

The night is long; the lesson drags
A yawn is stifled
That watchful eye has seen
The brewing mug is ready.

The day has come to bid goodbye
To greet another’s world
Those eyes once filled with love
Now fill with un-staved sorrow.

The tree grows; a gurgling smile
And soon there are fears
A patient hand, a loving hand
Arrives to cope with all.

A head grown white, shoulders drooping
Yet she is the strongest
Her ways are loving solace
She is, yes, a Mother.


THE SPARROW

A sparrow comes everyday
And says to me:
“It’s lovely to be free.”

I watched her as she built her nest
Way up in the tall neem tree
Her lover hunted for twigs
Soon their home was ready.

I saw in it eggs it held,
White and small and pretty
Captive she was for many days
‘Hatching’ was what she called it

Soon the little ones peeked out
Their tiny bodies were hungry
The duo toiled day and night
To feed their little future.

But then they flew away, away
She lost them: now she’s all alone.
I ask her why she bothered
That’s when she says to me:
“It’s lovely to be free.”

FEEL THE RAIN

 FEEL THE RAIN


It’s the season of the Green Carpet event once again; of life springing up from Dormant Earth. As the rains wash away the dirt and grime of a dusty summer, Nature gets a fresh makeover. The forest comes alive with the vibrant colors of wildflowers and the exuberant peacock shakes out his resplendent plumage as if to say “Come dance with me” In a dazzling display of dashing moves, he pays homage to the collecting clouds in the sky. Frogs in the pond lend their resonant voices to the orchestra of thunder and lightning in the firmament.
Have you ever danced in the rain? I used to wait eagerly every June for the first rains to come so I could run outside and get thoroughly drenched in the pouring shower. The smell of the mud drove us mad as my friends and I sang and laughed, abandoning all inhibitions to the wind that swept around us. The cooling waters cleansed our spirits and revived our souls. It was a truly awesome experience.
I relived this experience when I watched a Hindi movie many years ago; when Kajol urged the timid Akshay to fling away his umbrella and come feel the rain on his face in “Dillagi” Later, they danced in abandon to a rain song. Recently, in the movie ‘Rab Ne Bana De Jodi’ the hero Sharukh tells his beloved Tanni, “Pehli baarish me beegte jo mango woh zaroor milta hai. Just close your eyes and let every drop of rain reach your heart” When Tanni opens the window, recalls his words and feels the soothing sensation of the rain on her face, the experience is life-changing for her.
The farmer longs for rain; no sooner has he ploughed the field then he prays for it. A year of drought spells doom for the farmer who survives on rain to water his crops to abundant life. In ‘Lagaan’, at the first glimpse of the rain clouds, the drummer, in a drought- stricken part of Rajasthan, beats his drum to call the villagers’ attention to the much-awaited sight. The villagers, gazing with delight writ on their faces, dance in gay abandon to please the Rain God, pleading “Megha Re, Megha Re, Pani To Barasao Re”. Rains are indeed the lifeline of farmers and their families in such places. A year of drought could bring a flood of suicides for the debt-ridden’ men of the soil’.
Rains are vital not only for farmers and the growth of their crops, but also for all of us. We need water to drink, bathe, wash utensils and clothes and to nurture our gardens. Many a times, we grumble when we see an ominous black cloud, dreading the impending monsoons because of the inconveniences it brings. Slush, drenched clothing, waterlogged gutters, floods, cyclones; these are the other side of the coin. But if we take proper precautions to prevent them, the monsoons can be a joyous season for us all.
As a school-going child once recited, “Tis fun to splish-splash in puddles And then get Mom’s scolds and cuddles”. Parents are careful to see that their children don’t get wet in the rains for fear that they might fall sick. So they protect them with raincoats and umbrellas. Aren’t most people always cautious about stepping out when it’s pouring cats and dogs or taking shelter when caught in a sudden unexpected downpour? So little wonder then that they have never savored a rain shower or reveled in a rain dance. I may sound childish to some of you who will scoff at its therapeutic effects. But if you are feeling sad, upset or even angry, JUST DO IT once! Go stand in front of a shower hose, just close your eyes and let the water flow onto you. What you feel then is exactly what you will feel when you dance in the rain.
The only time I have seen adults enjoy the rains are in Hindi films. In fact, most movies are incomplete without a love song where the heroine is thoroughly drenched and having the time of her life. The umbrella becomes an excuse to draw closer to the hero, but soon it flies away, and they are back to being ‘Wet, Wet, Wet’. What an enjoyable way to romance!
Numerous songs have been composed to give expression to the feeling of joy when the monsoons come; Raag Malhar is a ‘classical’ example. Poetry and essays have also been written, but my favorite was the ‘Rainy Season’ drawing we did every June when school began. Then there were some cute nursery rhymes we used to recite with gusto like ‘Oh! Where do you come from You little drops of rain?’ and riddles like ‘What goes up when the rain comes down?’ In college too, we had a special cultural event called MALHAR during the monsoons which was a hair-hanging-down time of fun n-frolic that all of us looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed.
So grab the opportunity this monsoons. Feel the rain on your skin, revel in its feather-light caresses on your soul and experience God’s Love in the life-giving waters that spring from His heart to yours! (864 words)

WATER WAY TO GO

 WATER WAY TO GO! – Paradise Lost, Paradise Found.


(Scene opens on the deck of HMS 9 Entertainments. Captain Remo is seen, strutting back and forth, his medals gleaming on his breast as he checks the list in his hand. A group of men, all dressed in white are seen huddled in a corner, their pockets bulging.)
C. Remo: (Sniffing with disdain, his smart spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose) These vermin! What are they doing here?
Chief Officer: They are on the list, Sir. Caught for looting, that’s what it says in the file.
C. Remo: (reading from list) Says here that they come from a place called Paradise. Where in heavens is that?
C.O.: Why, Sir, don’t you know? It’s D spot for nirvana, for drugs, for…….
C. Remo: (dismissing this trivia with a wave of his hand) Let it go, man. Tell me why they’ve been sent to us, for Maria Pita’s sake!
C.O: (sighing) Well, the file says that they sanctioned too much Paradise to outsiders so the insiders want them out.
C. Remo:(with a loud guffaw) Want them out, eh? The ‘in’siders want them ‘out’! Well, that’s our job and we love doing our job, right?
C.O: Right sir. Dead right! (Chuckles at his own joke)
C. Remo: (Summoning a cadet) Son, take these prisoners to the galley and make them run the ship. Let’s see how well they can do that.
(Cadet mobilizes the white-clad men to the bottom of the ship and assigns them their task)
White-Clad Man 1: As I’m the leader of this party, I’ll supervise……
Cadet: You just sit down and row, you stupid moron. Prisoners don’t rule on this ship. I’ll do the supervising, you do the perspiring.
(The prisoners sit quietly, but not one lifts an oar.)
Cadet: (Impatiently) Well, what are you waiting for? A tender to be passed? Get to it and quick!
(The white-clad men pick up the oars and begin rowing frantically. The ship leaves the port, swaying like a drunkard.)
C. Remo: (screaming from above) What is happening down there? Someone’s in a hurry to flee or what? We can’t leave till we get the signal. Turn back, I say. I order you to turn this ship back to port.
(Cadet whips the prisoners and they turn the ship back to port, grumbling as they do so.)
C. Remo: (Appearing in the doorway) What are you chumps grumbling for? You didn’t make a noise when your Paradise was being raped, did you? Says here in your file – Prisoners made merry when Paradise lost her cherry.
(Suddenly a commotion is heard on deck. Captain Remo rushes up to see another group of white-clad men on deck.)
W-C Man 2: (bowing to the Captain) Sir, we would like to join your ship. We heard it’s the safest place for us to be in right now.
C. Remo: (condescendingly looking them up and down) And who might you Papadums be, pray tell me?
White-Clad Man 2: We run the most powerful game in the world. Ever heard of the IPL? We rule the IPL, Sir.
C. Remo (scratching his semi-balding pate) Yeah, Yeah, heard of it. But you don’t look like cricketers to me. You look a lot like those oafs down there in the galley.
White-Clad Man 2: (peering over Captain’s shoulders) Those worms! We don’t belong to their party, Sir. We lost Paradise to them!
C. Remo: (Losing it completely) Well, see here, all who come aboard are prisoners and will have to steer the ship from below. Get it? So now tell me, do you still want to come?
White-Clad Man 2: We will come but give us some other task. If you put us down there with that group, there will be chaos and division.
C. Remo: (thinks hard, then beams) O.K. I got it! What about scrubbing the decks and aiding with the mast? Can you wimps do that?
W-C-Man 2: (Looks around at his group, gets their silent Ayes and nods) Sir, we would be happy to clean up and set sail for you.
C. Remo: Ok, then let’s get cracking before another group decides to join us. My ship will surely sink with more of you heavyweights around.
(The port guard waves his green flag, signaling that the ship can now leave. Suddenly there is utter chaos heard in the galley. The two groups are engaged in a free-for-all, each trying to oust the other out. They kick pails of water, hit heads with mops and bottoms with oars.)
C. Remo: (Roaring above the cacophony) Stop it! Stop it at once! (An oar hits him on the head; he sees red) Dump all of them, I say. Dump the whole lot in the sea. Sink the ship. (To C.O.) I command you to sink this ship.
C.O. (Stammering) Sir, Sir, we can’t do that, Sir. Environmental regulations and all that. It could pollute the sea.
C. Remo: (Eyes bulging with rage) I don’t care, I tell you. I’ve had enough of this Harami Mantri Ship. Sink it now!
C.O: (trying to stall) Sir, another problem, sir. If you sink the ship, you will have to go down with it. Rule Numero Uno, you know.
C. Remo: Oh, my, I’d forgotten that Rule. But they must go. Forget the Eco Rule. Let’s just throw them in.
(The crew gathers around, ambush the white-clad men and dump them into the sea, where the weight of their bulging pockets aid them in sinking faster.)
C. Remo: (Gleefully rubbing his hands) And now, compadre, let’s head back for port.
C.O: (Puzzled) Why Sir?
C. Remo: Don’t you see? (Pauses for effect) With these men gone, Paradise will need a new ruler!
(Curtain falls as Captain Remo stands on deck, his face turned towards port-and Paradise)

‘P’ for Politics, ‘P’ for Prayer

 ‘P’ for Politics, ‘P’ for Prayer.


‘Mr. M.P. charged in land-filling case’, ‘Mr. J.F. held for rape of R…’, ‘UP Minister caught in sleazy video’, ‘CM runs away from home’. Oh, I can go on and on and on. A single thread runs through all these headlines – a politician’s human failings and subsequent falling. As recipients of the decisions these men and women make for our welfare or ‘woe’fare, we have the right and responsibility to act. Often, however, we only react. Either we get volatile, spewing venom, or we remain passive, ‘tut-tut’ing in protest. In rare cases, we act, as the villagers did at the rally on March 4th to implement the RP.
I must admit, at the onset, that I too am guilty of reacting to the deeds of our politicians. Who likes to hear heinous tales of a hormone-hippy MLA or a money-mad MP? Whether one rapes a woman or a piece of land the havoc created is the same. People are hurt, lives are destroyed, trust is lost. Of course, it angers me when I see the poor victimized so that the rich can buy them with their own money. It saddens me to think of women treated like prostitutes in their homes or workplace, abused and misused just because they are dependent on their ‘bosses’. I am aghast to hear that hospitals leech their patients dry when they should be giving them a new lease of life. And I have to hang my head down in shame that I have elected to the chair a person who is most likely going to bring the downfall of my country or state.
So I urge my fellow compatriots actively engaged in the battle to create a change of heart in our leaders, to get down on your knees with me and pray for them.
Jesus said once, “Have the faith to move mountains.” Is our faith that strong? When Joshua believed God and circled the mighty wall of Jericho, it came crumbling down. David defeated and killed the giant Goliath with stones, flung from a child’s catapult. Daniel was protected by God in the lion’s den and Joseph was given the post of governor in Pharoah’s court so he could save his family. God is definitely all-powerful. I am certain He alone can turn things around, if we only give Him full control. We need do only whatever he tells us to, and our actions should always be coupled with compassion - for our politicians were created as pure as we were in their mother’s wombs.
Pray for them – ‘They do not know what they do’. When the rich man died and went to Hades, he realized too late that all the ill-gotten wealth he had accumulated was of no use. It could not even get him a drop of water to assuage the heat of Hell’s fire. Many of our politicians amass wealth for their children and their children’s children at the cost of our children and our children’s children. They need our prayers desperately for their children will inherit their sins as well.
Pray for them – ‘They do things so that people may see and praise their deeds’. Ever heard of the herd mentality? We see it in young men and women, teenagers especially. ‘Everybody is doing it so I too must join the bandwagon. If I don’t I will be sidelined, ostracized even. I will lose my position, my power, my prestige.’ Our leaders too are rarely ‘one of a kind’. They all ‘herd’le together forming a well-knit family of fiends. The Zilla Parishad elections have been a classic example of this herd mentality. The fanaticism each party exhibits and upholds so fervently is distressing. So pray for true democracy and for ‘one of a kind’ leaders like we had in the past – Gandhiji, Nehru, and now Rahul Gandhi.
Pray for them – ‘Their God is money.’ All politicians begin with good intentions but somewhere along the line they forget these and embrace the immoral ideals of stalwarts in the field. Who ever heard of leaders having cars and houses on a meagre salary in the past? Even if they claim to be doing honest work, is that the right example to give the aam aadmi who has to walk with blistered feet and live in thatched huts? Even the attire they don is as expensive as their taste in branded models. Khadi, once spun by Gandhi on a chakra for a song, now costs a bomb. Visits to casinos, fist fights in airplanes, manhandling reporters are all signs of a power-puffed politician.
I have great faith in prayer to move mountains, and in God to achieve the impossible. My only fear is that he will ask me to find five righteous people so he can avert the destruction of the ‘Tower of Babel’ing fools and I will not be able to get even one, not even myself. (823 words)

This edited version came on 20th April 20, 2010

‘P’ for Politics, ‘P’ for Prayer.

‘Mr. M.P. charged in land-filling case’, ‘Mr. J.F. held for rape of R…’, ‘UP Minister caught in sleazy video’, ‘CM runs away from home’. A single thread runs through all these headlines – a politician’s human failings and subsequent falling. As recipients of the decisions these men and women make for our welfare or ‘woe’fare, we have the right and responsibility to act. Often, however, we only react. Either we get volatile, spewing venom, or we remain passive, ‘tut-tut’ing in protest.
I too am guilty of reacting to the deeds of our politicians. Who likes to hear heinous tales of a hormone-hippy MLA or a money-mad MP? Whether one rapes a woman or a piece of land, the havoc created is the same. People are hurt, lives are destroyed, trust is lost. It angers me when I see the poor victimized so that the rich can buy them. It saddens me to think of women treated like prostitutes in their homes or workplace, abused and misused just because they are dependent on their ‘bosses’. I am aghast to hear that hospitals leech their patients dry when they should be giving them a new lease of life. I have to hang my head down in shame that I have elected to the chair a person who is most likely going to bring the downfall of my country or state.
So I urge my fellow compatriots actively engaged in the battle to create a change of heart in our leaders, to get down on your knees with me and pray for them.
Jesus said once, “Have the faith to move mountains.” God is all-powerful. He alone can turn things around, if we only give Him full control. We need do only whatever he tells us to, and our actions should always be coupled with
Pray for our politicians They do not know what they do’. Many of our politicians amass wealth for their family and descendents at the cost of ours. Pray for them. They do things so that people may see and praise their deeds’. We see it in youngsters, teenagers especially. ‘Everybody is doing it so I too must join the bandwagon. If I don’t I will be sidelined, ostracized even. I will lose my position, my power, my prestige.’
Our leaders too are rarely ‘one of a kind’. The Zilla Parishad elections have been a classic example of this herd mentality. The fanaticism each party exhibits and upholds so fervently is distressing. So pray for true democracy and for ‘one of a kind’ leaders. All politicians begin with good intentions but along the way they forget these and embrace the immoral ideals of stalwarts in the field.
Who ever heard of leaders having cars and houses on a meagre salary in the past? Even their attire is as expensive as their taste in branded models. Khadi, once spun by Gandhi on a chakra for a song, is now exorbitantly priced. Visits to casinos, fist fights in airplanes, manhandling reporters are all signs of a power-puffed politician. (513 words)

MY SEARCH - poems from the heart.

 MY SEARCH


The world is going, going berserk
With all its toil and hard work
There seems no time for leisure
For little joy, a simple pleasure
Life is, oh, so machine-like
Every hour, every day seems alike
The futility of living bores me
Its importance I just cannot see
Where can I find the kind of life
That’s free from every war and strife
My soul longs for that inner peace
From pain and sorrow final release
Worries will haunt me not
When I have found what I have sought.


COMMUTING

The mad, mad rush
To catch a train, a bus.

The jostling, pushing, pulling claws,
The spewed venom, the fight of jaws.
The cackling, chattering, bickering mob.
The utter indifference to an unheard sob.

Litter litters around the floor,
Heavy luggage blocks the door.
Beggars, fishers, eunuchs enter,
Hawkers pile on, right, left and centre.

Uncensored displays, perverted lines,
Juvenile feelings and lovers’pines.
Fetid smells - they often appear
Warning people to steer clear.

Warning signs, the signal light
Don’t come within the focus of sight
People walk and talk and sing
The cacophony is shattering.

A sudden halt; a thousand curses,
A shroud is brought and nurses.
Blood shed all in vain
A reckless man dies in pain.

Crowds gather; a splendid hall
Papers read; policies passed
Applauses; great speeches heard.
Its all finalized in written word.

Tea served; gossip spread
Praises sung of the Head.
Then in pomp they all file out
The path with paper strewn about.

A silver dawn; new hope is born
The railway starts another day
Alas! But just like yesterday.

These poems were published on 11 April 2010 in Sunday Mirror

FAMILIES ARE FOREVER

 FAMILIES ARE FOREVER.


A friend of mine, who lives in the USA, has a daughter who is in KG class. One day, the little girl came home from school, saying she needed to take a T-shirt the next day. Her teacher was going to iron an anti-drug message onto it. Unable to find a blank one, my friend sent her off with a shirt that already had something lettered across the front. That afternoon, the daughter showed off her new T-shirt. On one side it read: ‘Families Are Forever’. And on the other side: “Be Smart, don’t Start’.
Jokes aside, let me ask you a direct question – If you had to choose from a) An interesting job. b) An independent income of Rs. 60,000. c) A happy family – Which would you choose? Do you know what husbands and wives answered when asked this question? 80% said: A Happy Family.
When a boy and girl fall in love, they seek to seal their commitment to each other in the holy bond of matrimony. A newly-wed couple needs time to get to know each other well, even if they have been in love for years before they were married. But once they are comfortable with married life and with the in-laws, it is time to have children.
Sometimes, young couples postpone children until they can afford them or if the wife wants to pursue her career so they can buy a home. “We seem to be drifting apart,” a worried husband revealed to his counselor once. His wife and he had decided before their marriage that she would continue to work until his salary was up to Rs. 40,000 a month. Six years into their marriage, he was still short of Rs. 10,000. For six years, they had said in effect: “We can live without the risk of children until we can have children without risk.”
Having children is a physical process, involving nine months of expectancy followed by the painful act of delivery. This is always borne by the wife and therefore most women would rather postpone or avoid getting pregnant. But the experience can be a spiritual one as well. When a mother holds her little baby for the first time (even if its her fifth delivery!), it is as if the Heavens have opened and an angel has been placed in her hands.
Someone said once that a baby is a ‘gift’ you give to your spouse. It is a tangible expression of the love you have for each another. As you learn to be parents, there is continuous sacrifice to be made. Friends and colleagues blur into the background as your little ones become your main focal point. You have to juggle the finances to meet their needs and, sometimes, their ‘greeds’. As they throw tantrums and test your temper, you learn that Love is a decision, not a feeling. And that it has to be UNCONDITIONAL to be true!
With your spouse as well, the relationship switches from gratifying yourself to pleasing the other. Sex for pleasure is complemented by sex for procreation and that, in itself, is a purely spiritual experience. There is a transition from living for yourself to doing things together as a couple. I always used to admired a couple who would do the family shopping together. They did not go to the market, split the grocery list and shop separately to save time. They would walk together from shop to shop, hand in hand, drawing envious looks from the women and raised eyebrows from the men. The whole family would sit together in the church, occupying an entire pew (they had five children). Once, their teenage son protested saying he wanted to sit with his pals instead. His father convinced him that they were a family and so should stay together.
It is an oft repeated argument that lack of money causes marital unhappiness. But if you check out the divorce courts, you’ll be surprised to see that rich couples are more eager to spilt. A hedonistic lifestyle may be one reason; another could be the immoral irresponsibility that some of them freely indulge in. When a married man or woman puts “ME” before “WE”, extra-marital affairs and a ‘singles’ lifestyle will surely abound.
Having a child is the final and strongest pledge of a couple’s love for each other. Sometimes, a child could be the reason for couples, on the brink of a marital breakdown, to reconsider and get counseling to save the marriage. A child should never be sacrificed for other needs like a career or a fat bank balance. It is better to stay unmarried if you wish to amass wealth or fly high in your career. Once you get married, your children are a testimony that your marriage is a complete one. For those who cannot have children for medical reasons, adoption is one solution. Sometimes after adopting a child, couples have been blessed with children of their own.
Marital life is a continuous struggle; one has to balance at the fulcrum while making both ends meet. Children can seem a burden at times especially when one has to manage home and work at the office. And nowadays the nuclear family system makes that even more difficult. Children have to be kept with inept Ayahs or in questionable crèches, and both are expensive options. So couples think several times before trying for a second child, let alone a third or a fourth.
There is no substitute for mother’s love, of course, so women could perhaps consider opting for a career as a ‘homemaker’ instead of working outside the home. There are many ways of using one’s talents and educational qualifications; an enterprising woman can start an entrepreneurship right there in the home itself. I am a stay-at-home Mom who writes. This gives me scope to use my talents to earn a little to supplement the household income and still look after my four kids.
Quality time can never substitute for a 24*7 Mom at home. My mother worked and I hated the maid who looked after me. I often remember pleading with my Mom to leave her job and be at home with me. A job does give women freedom and self-esteem but when it comes to children, they need the continuing warmth of a mother who bore them in her womb for nine months. At least for the first five years.
I think it is time that organizations in India rethink their policies on working mothers, especially those with tiny tots, and reshape them to the advantage of the women and their children. The working woman is here to stay and it is time that conditions are made feasible for her to look after her children while working from the home. After all, if they can do it in Japan, why not here?
It is said ‘A happy family is but an earthly Heaven’. Families are forever. Let us uphold the dignity of the family by choosing to nurture our children well, looking after their mental, psychological and spiritual needs first. A fancy car, a posh bungalow, a banknote-feathered mattress can never replace the warm, tender caresses of chubby fingers or the sweet cherubic glow of a child’s countenance. I cherish every moment of love I experience when my little ones nestle close to my heart as I sing a lullaby to them each night. May that joy be yours too. (1,241 words)