Padma on Conversations with a teen… Arthi on Mr Freeze Boogie Woogie prernasinha2000 on Marriage … Dr.Lisa Braganza on Marriage … mindcockpit on Stepping into adult life …
We are programmed to acquire. The enlightened ones acquire knowledge. The capitalists acquire wealth. The politicians acquire power. In this journey, we acquire ego.
Humans, with this intrinsic programming of acquisition, don’t know what to do when they have to let go.
Politicians dont want to let go of their seats. CEOs dont want to let go of their opinions.
Even as the scriptures have told us to leave the “moh maya”, we dont know how.
But, in death, we have to learn to let go. In the recognition that life is finite, we have to learn to leave our bodies behind. In ageing parents, we have to accept that their time will also come, and that we have to leave the pallu that always gave us strength.
Moksha for Lord Buddha came from being able to give up everything. I am far from that. But maybe I can also learn to give up some things, to re-program my mind to stop acquiring, and to start letting go.
When I can let go, then Mihir will fly the coop, without a tear in his eye and pain in my heart. When I can let go, I will come to terms that mom and dad are not with us.
I need to acquire the ability to let go. I need to let go of my programming to acquire.
In loosing, I will gain.
As a woman, I live many lives. That of a mother, of a successful corporate executive, of a wife, of a daughter in-law. I might live alone, or with my husband, or with my inlaws or in a larger joint family. Each of these lives throws its own challenges at me, its own trials and tribulations, its own pains and joys, its own happiness and laughter. And till I dont live these lives, I really dont know what the journey is like. And the irony is, often I dont even select for myself the life I lead. It is somebody else’s choice, somebody else’s wish, somebody else dream or simply somebody else’s fault.
From the outside, you only see a “screensaver”, a rosy picture. Once you jump in, you are sucked in, as if in quicksand. In themselves, each of these lives can be quite nice, but when you are trying to live them all together, I realise how tough it is. As a woman, I constantly live with the fear, or maybe even the guilt, that I am dropping one of the balls. I get stressed that I dont do justice to any of them. I feel drained at the end of each day, but dont have something concrete to show for what I did in the day. I dont seek appreciation, i dont seek recognition, I only seek cognizance that I do all these things, all together. I dont feel jealous that men have it so easy. I feel jealous when i see other women not having to lead so many lives. I feel tired when I look at myself in the mirror and remember the days when I was still leading one life, of a student, and of a woman…when I was leading my own life, not someone else’s.
Being a woman….it is just so bloody tough.
Thankgod I am a man !
As Woman’s Day approaches, I began to think about the words that describe many women that I know. What are the synonyms I could think of. A few words came to mind but i decided to look up the oxford dictionary, and I found words like ‘mother’, ‘daughter’, ‘lady’, ‘girl’, … and i said to myself: “are these really synonyms?”
“Isnt a synonym a word that means exactly the same?”
But are women simply defined by the roles they play ? And I thus decided to make a list of the words that are my synonyms for woman …
– silent sufferers
– jone of all trades, master of …
– ….. and the list can go on, …
Shouldn’t the Oxford dictionary consider these as synonyms of woman because so many of them that i know are better described by these words than by lady, girl, daughter or wife ! I dont think a woman can be defined through someone else, which is what many of these synonyms try to do. A woman stands on her own.
As i wrote this list, another thing that struck me is that many of these words when paired together are opposites. Mathematically put, this seems impossible. If A = B, and A = C, than B = C. But in women, why does this principle work ?
Well I guess, thats what make a woman so unique. The normal rules of math, of logic, of language, dont apply to her. She stands alone. Stands tall. Stands like an enigma that we cant explain, and hence we try and define her as a mother,wife, daughter, sister ….
Let me not do that. Let me give a woman her due. I won’t make her God because that is something I cant define either, nor will i find any other synonym for her. Let her be a woman, nothing more, nothing less, nothing similar. Let me celebrate her for who she is, and not for whom I want her to be.
Wishing a woman, and every woman, a very happy Woman’s Day.
The relationship with inlaws is a very unique relationship, and can be very different for a woman with her inlaws and for a man with his inlaws. One begins to call a couple as mom, dad, or whatever, when one barely knows them. In India, it is even more queer because a man may have met his inlaws only a few times before marriage.
In India, the man treats his in-laws like he would treat his parents, but they will not treat him like his son. They wont call him by his name. They will call somebody 25-30 years younger with “aap” as a measure of respect !
When the son-in-law comes home, a tilak and an envelope seem to be an expression of love. And if that is not enough, a dinner spread that looks like a king’s feast is laid out.
I can scold my mom, but not my mom-in-law. I can make a joke at my parent’s expense but not my inlaws.
If I am travelling to my parents city, won’t think twice about staying with them, and nor will my friends notice it. But if I stay with my inlaws, friends will say, “in-laws ke saath raha ra ha!”. If my inlaws come to town, they may not be comfortable staying at my home. I know of the extreme cases where a mother-in-law won’t even drink water at the son-in-law’s house.
Such is the dichotomoy of this relationship. And now for a minute, put all of this into the shoes of a woman, and imagine her relationship with her inlaws. And to this, add the filter of the daughter-in-law staying with her inlaws !
My empathy with my wife suddenly shoots up !
Can’t we simplify this all ? Cant we just be friends and not give names to the relationships of son-in-law, mom-in-law, etc……Why can’t marriages come without inlaws at all? Can’t I marry a woman, and not her family ?
This is a letter I wrote to a friend’s daughter who is leaving for the U.S. to study engineering. Thought it may make an interesting read for many others at the same juncture.
Aanya …. 29 years ago, i was standing at the same place as you are….an 18 year old waiting to join engineering college. There was excitement in the air, a sense of ‘coming of age’, a little bit of apprehension of what the new, unsheltered world would be like, a burden of expectations (i had a brother and 2 cousins in IIT Delhi, and here I was the blacksheep of the family who could only make it to DCE) and a feeling of freedom. I could fly, i could do whatever I wished to.
The next 4 years went pass in a breeze. There is not a lot i remember about classes, because i attended very few. But there was a lot I learnt in those 4 years. Many of these learnings still shape my life today ….
1. Freedom of choice is not a birthright ; it has to be earned – a dispute with my dad over my smoking led to me taking up a job in college, so that i could pay for my own cigarettes! That small argument with my dad taught me in many ways how we cant take what we get for granted, and that adulthood gives us choices, but also means we have to work to get those choices. Life will no longer serve you on a platter.
2. Success is not a choice, it is a compulsion – after having spent 2 years slogging it out in XI and XIIth, i thought the pressure days were over. Soon, however, I realised that i was not smart enough to be an engineer and not creative enough to be an artist in engineering college, so i did what looked the easiest – i devoted my time to college politics and extra curriculars. I realised that it didnt matter what i did, as long as i was amongst the best in the class at it. I got away with an attendance of 1% in the final year, because the college knew that i spent 150% in doing things for the students that nobody else did ! Being successful was critical, not what i was successful at.
3. Hardwork is the foundation of success – there are a few people in college who become the best at everything with little effort. But for me, like most others, success was the result of nights without sleep, of trying and failing and trying again. Nothing came easy, but effort always paid off
4. The best friendships are made in undergrad – i have been fortunate to meet some incredible people in the last 30 years, and have formed close and deep friendships with some, like your parents, but there is something about the friends from engineering college that cant be explained. We may not meet often, not even speak often now, but i know that whenever i need it, they will be there. You dont need 10 such friends, but 1 is not enough either. Find your soulmates, because when everything and everyone has gone afar, they will be the ones still standing by your side
Aanya …. these are some of my learnings and memories of college….and you will have your own. Just remember to fly, to soar and look afar, to live your dreams. And as you do that, be thankful for everything you have.
Wish you all the very best, at work, in life, in love….