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Conditioned thinking — How to break away from it?

August 18, 2009
[This post was submitted by a blogger who wants to remain anonymous.]

Recently I met a friend of mine from college days after a long gap. We had been rather close and used to spend a lot of time talking about whatever came to our minds. Gender inequality we faced was on of our favourite topics. We discussed it with passion. We were unanimous on one thing: we were NOT going to discriminate between our son and daughter when we married and had children of our own. Oh no sir!

Destiny did not put me to the test. It gave me sons, a pair of them. I was disappointed at not having daughters for the simple reason that I couldn’t prove to the world how those daughters were going to be brought up without discrimination unlike how I had been. I had been waiting to thumb my nose at the world in general and at remarks people were wont to make and to stand steadfast by my daughter(s). I consoled myself that I could prove my point when the time came by doing the same for my daughters-in-law. In the meantime, I tried to inculcate the right values in my sons.

My friend on the other hand was blessed with a son and a daughter. She had ample opportunity to put into practice what we so passionately believed in and discussed during college days. But as the evening wore on, I felt restless. Was this the same girl I knew back in college? Her conversation was peppered with a lot of ‘I was telling my daughter, men will always be men. Women have to adjust…….and more of such juvenile thought process” I was horrified. Where was that firebrand I knew back in the old days?? And what did she mean putting such regressive ideas into the head of her daughter, the new generation?? I was totally disappointed. And yet she claimed to have brought up her children as equals. Hmm…

Visiting her I noticed that she called her daughter to serve the guests a cold drink or for help in the kitchen. In my own house, my boys would serve cold drinks to the guests. Was it because I did not have a daughter, I asked myself. I admitted, perhaps out of habit, that “conditioning,” even I would have been tempted to call my daughter, if I had one, for help. But then breaking that “conditioning” is what we had talked about so passionately. I knew that even if such “conditioned” thoughts came unbidden to my mind, I would brush them aside consciously and do the right thing. Well that was me. Apparently my friend had succumbed ‘unconsciously to social pressure.

One day while relaxing over a cup of tea and pakodas, husbands in tow, she started laughing and told me of a conversation she had with her children earlier in the day over the phone. It seems that her ‘lazy’ son had appointed his sister to wash his undies on the weekends she visited him from her college hostel as they now stayed in the same city. His other clothes were given to the dhobhi. Till then he had washed them himself. Now that he was employed he gave the duty to his sister dangling the carrot of pocket money. The daughter who is still a student agreed. My friend was laughing at her son’s evident laziness and ‘smartness’ for finding a way out of doing some work. My husband and hers were laughing away too. I did not find it funny.

I wondered if the daughter had been older, and the brother younger, would the son wash his sister’s undies for her?? Would the parents have allowed it?? I could just imagine the horror on her face and that of her husband, in fact my husband too if I asked that question. So I kept mum. I wondered how they could see the funny side of it and not the less funny and discriminatory side of it. The father was even suggesting that the daughter should have held out for some more pocket money, as the son was earning well enough.

Am I over reacting?? I don’t know. But it revolts me that we should be “conditioned” enough to think that a brother washing clothes for his sister is a no-no but its merely a laughing matter (and the done thing) the other way round. I laid the matter before my sons later in the day. The elder son was merely amazed that such a thing was happening. The younger one flatly refused, saying, “I wouldn’t do that for him (elder bro) even if he offered me good money. (he washes his own undies by the way) But both of them were unanimous on one thing, the boy should not make his sister do something that he wouldn’t do for her. Ok, that is fair enough. That is exactly my point. But would he?? Would the parents allow it??

How difficult it is to come out of ‘conditioned’ thinking? Washing, cooking, laying the table, serving guests, sweeping, mopping are all woman’s work! I really don’t know how much I have succeeded in impressing my own children about gender equality. After all they live in the same society and see the difference in treatment meted out to women all around them. But I can say that I have tried my best and on occasions have argued my point with vehemence when they have unconsciously repeated ‘conditioned’ remarks heard elsewhere. I hope when the time comes, they treat their spouses the right way. But no matter, if they don’t, they have me to reckon with!

What does it mean to be a ‘mother’ ?

August 7, 2009
[Guest post contribution by Shailaja Mohan of Shail’s Nest.]

An elephant does it. So does a goat, orangutan, polar bear, tiger, puma… Yeah they all do, give birth I mean just like countless other mammals on earth including humans. There is a difference though. While after giving birth, the rest of them go about their business of being a mother quietly, humans (the one human that gave birth and the rest of the crowd consisting of women and men) crow and trumpet about it, some among them continuing to do so throughout their lives, never letting their offspring or anyone else forget what a great and noble act was theirs. ‘Pathu maasam chumannu, nonthu prasavichu’ (Bore you for ten months, of course technically wrong, and gave painful birth) go the Malayali mothers (in real and reel life) and I am sure their counterparts elsewhere have something similar up their sleeve to keep those errant and not so errant but merely independent (which it seems is the greatest sin in the eyes of most mothers) children in line.

It IS a tough act, no doubt to it. But please spare me all those paeans sung in praise of mother and motherhood. Please spare me also the worship and adoration. Please spare me all that (nonsense) talk of divinity. Please spare me that place reserved for mothers over there on that too tall (and shaky to boot) pedestal which makes one look ridiculous apart from the danger and discomfort of standing on it impersonating an inanimate stone statue while the rest of you burn incense sticks suffocating one in its smoke, burying one beneath garlands of tributes and chanting praises to mother and motherhood till one goes deaf…. And all for what??! For going through the perfectly natural biological act of giving birth?! Give me a break society.

Yes, I am a mother. So what??

I am no God-like figure.

I am no superhuman.

I am not an inanimate object/stone idol.

I am not an asexual being.

So stop treating me like all of the above just because I have given birth.

I am human.

I am made of flesh and blood like the rest of you.

I have all the human feelings and failings.

I laugh, cry, get angry and stressed. I may scream, throw something in frustration. I love with all my heart. I also hurt. I desire, long and yearn. At times I may feel jealous, envious, disillusioned, and delusional. I need love, sex, sympathy, care, pampering.

I sometimes hurt with innocent remarks or barbed words spoken in frustration. I forgive the worst of mistakes. I expect to be forgiven too.

Sometimes I am down in the dumps, I am lost. I need a hand to pull me out of my despair or at least railings to hold on to pull myself out. Don’t think/assume that because I am a mother everything becomes alright magically. I need affection, a caressing hand, a warm breast to lay my head when I feel cold and alone. I think you are the world, but I need to be made to feel I am the world too for someone, somewhere.

I am scared at times, unsure too. I make mistakes, I may want to walk out, start afresh. Instead of kicking me down, accusing me that a mother cannot, help me start over again. I am also capable of hate. I lash out, strike, spew venom. I may have my moods. I may look forlorn and morose. Don’t expect that ‘mother’ is a synonym for the mannequins in the malls or worse still, the models who are paid good money to do a bit of smiling for a short time in front of movie cameras. I also look frumpy most times quite unlike them, though I try not to.

I fall sick (remember I am human). I need the doctor, maybe someone to listen to my real or imaginary aches and pains. I want to be left alone just like you all want at times. I want to do my own things, not to be at your beck and call at all times. I have likes and dislikes. It is not always about your likes and dislikes. Respect my privacy. Motherhood does not mean my life is an open house for you all to walk in and out when it pleases you.

Don’t talk down to me, talk to me; you may know a lot of things. I know a few things too. Don’t treat me as if I have half a brain. I may not be used to certain things, so may take longer to learn or simply won’t be up to mark in some. Don’t poke fun or make unkind remarks as if I don’t exist. I do. Don’t assume (or expect) that ‘sacrifice’ is my middle name. Don’t worship me as you do the idol in the temple and then walk out to forget me till the next time you need something.

Yes, I became a mother when I gave birth, a biological act that has been assigned to me by Nature as of now. But that does not make me a saint with superhuman capabilities.

I am no God-like figure.

I am no superhuman

I am not an inanimate object/stone idol.

I am not an asexual being.

So stop treating me like all of the above just because I have given birth.

I am human.

I am made of flesh and blood like the rest of you.

I have all the human feelings and failings.

Treat me like one, just like you treat each other. Is that asking too much??

My Amma – Mon Ami.

July 12, 2009

This post was submitted by a blogger who wants to remain anonymous. This is a true account of how his/her mother overcame difficulties to bring up her children and didn’t give up.
The words touched us and made us feel proud of the son/daughter but most of all his/her mother. A woman who has the never-say-die spirit. We hope the words will ‘speak’ to you too.
———————————————————————————– —–

My Mother:

It is often said that the force of character to handle stress is so much more in a woman than in a man. I personally know that it is true as I have seen my mother battle her way through so much.

The very basic characteristic of any human is his/her tenacity to survive against all odds. But unfortunately, that tenacity was found lacking in my dad. There was once a time when his business was doing great and money kept pouring in but unfortunately, due to some bad deals and even worse “friends”, he lost all of it when I was about 12.

He took to alcohol in a big way and pretty soon, lost all sense of what it took to be a good dad, what it took to be a good husband and he started living in his megalomaniac dreams of grandeur; a situation from which he has not recovered to this day. And he soon deserted us to live his life in solitude.

Coming from a very orthodox family, this incident was a major shock to all my relatives and they tried to bring him back into the fold. I still remember in my 9th standard visiting an AA clinic to meet my “dad” and there inside was a “decrepit stranger” whom I did not know and that incident still rankles as the most embarrassing moment of my life.

I was hurt, shocked and unable to control my emotions at that time and I could have gone either way. I could have become the psychotic extrovert or I could have become the deeply pained, shy introvert scarred for life. But it was thanks to my mother than I remained normal, remained grounded. Yes, being normal was an important attribute for me at that time.

Once a teacher by choice and interest, it soon became an important income source for her and she did initially struggle to make ends meet.

But more importantly, I am what I am thanks to her. She had the power to absorb so much and still walk around with a smile, a smile that used to light up the entire house. Nothing ever did depress her; no problem was too great to overcome. If I can say that I had a normal childhood, without any worries, it was thanks to her. If today, I can stand up and say that I aim to be a good human being and a good husband/father in the future, it is thanks to her.

I still remember as a kid, how she used to take everything in her stride and not blame “life” for it. During that initial period, the problems were many (legal, financial and emotional) and the solutions too few. I personally believe that a mortal of lesser strength would have fallen ill at that point but nope, she never gave up; she never gave up on her dream of bringing up her kids the right way, never gave up on her dream of educating school kids. A strong woman, who never cut corners, who inculcated in her kids, the importance of words like “honesty and integrity”.
The old wise folks say, “Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam” and that saying is very true!!!

This is my tribute to this wonderful lady; my mother, my guru, my friend and my guide.

This is my tribute to this wonderful lady; a woman who could stay stoic against all insurmountable odds and yet cry at the drop of a hat when watching a film.

I do not call her “amma” these days. I call her “mon ami” (“my friend” in French).
God bless!!

STAND UP … YOUNG GENERATION

July 2, 2009

[Guest Post Contributed by Anju Gandhi of ‘Awakening’]

I attended a marriage last month. Some details of the marriage:

Sangeet in a five star hotel with a guest list of 800+ (that includes not only relatives or friends but distant business colleagues or acquaintances and their family.

Marriage in open ground ( big enough to accommodate more than 2000 guests) fresh flowers decorations everywhere ( orchids, roses etc), fireworks, sparkling lights all over, games for children,valet parking arrangements for the odd 2000 guests, more than 150 dishes in the buffet spread ( Punjabi, Rajasthani, Guajarati, Maharastrian Mexican, Chinese, continental, Italian , you name the dish and it was there)

Brides outfit (minus the jewellery) more than Rs one lakh)

Gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom’ family (mind you to the grooms family not to the groom or the bride) – diamond jewellery to immediate family members (including the male members, gold to other relatives, 21 saris to grooms mother only clothes for all near relatives, silver glasses to distant relatives AND this is besides the dowry which was given to the bride.

Bride a Doctor

Groom a MBA

AND ALL THE EXPENSES BORNE BY THE FATHER OF THE BRIDE

Out of those 2000 odd guests only few knew the couple. Rest like me were guests who didn’t know even the parents. (I had accompanied my husband and father in law as they were also acquaintances of the father)

I wonder why the so called educated, modern and liberated couple didn’t object to this sheer wastage of money. Why they did not put their foot down to lavish gifts given or the dowry given and when asked the couple they replied “can’t help it, in our community all this has to be done”.

How can a self respecting. decently placed boy expect his wife to bring dowry. after all equality of gender is also something.

Why the girls family is expected to spend so much on the marriage. After all, the girl is equally educated and most of the parents don’t differentiate these days between girls and boys then why do the parents of a girl have to shell out so much to see their daughter married off. Is the daughter a burden on them? Is it a crime to have a daughter or see her settled in life with a decent boy?

Is it only the girl who is getting married? Is the boy not getting a wife who will leave her house, her family to come to live with him, his family and make all of them a part of her own family?

Why doesn’t the boy’s family also contribute equally to the marriage functions? Why it is expected from the girl’s side only to bear the expenses of the marriage function.

More important why squander so much on marriage functions and invite each and every one. Why can’t this money be given to the couple to start their life with more comforts? After all, the money is being spent by the parents. Give as much as you want to your daughter but why blow the hard earned money on strangers?

I suppose marriage is a family function where only close relatives and family friends should be present to bless the couple (we didn’t even go to wish the couple for simple reasons that we didn’t know the couple and there was a long queue near the stage, we just wished the parents and left), I just thought what was the need for them to invite us or hundreds of others. Was it just to show off their riches or to show off the long guest list or to promote their business?

Fine, parents who can afford to spend so much, spend but think of parents who are financially not well off, it becomes a burden for them to see their daughter married. That is why a daughter is not welcomed in many of Indian families.

Even after the huge dowry given (which according to me is the price given to buy the boy for the girl but in our culture which is seen as the price given to the boy to marry the daughter, as if the daughter is a liability on the parents, the sooner she is disposed off, the better it is for the parents) the girl doesn’t get respect or her due place at her inlaws place.

I am all for celebrating the marriage with all traditions and customs, having all the ceremonies , giving gifts to the couple but only because I want to give not because it is expected from me being the brides parents,after all we parents earn for our children and we want them to have all the comforts and facilities,( I would like to have all the possible ceremonies for my daughter’s marriage, follow all the customs) but with only close friends and relatives who are a part of your family and who will be happy for the couple but why invite the whole town to witness your propserity or why take loans just to maintain your name in the society ( no one will come to rescue you from the clutches of loan givers once you fail to return the loan).

If the parents wants to give to the couple go ahead and give if you can afford but please don’t make a public display of your affluence.

And to the young generation especially the boys who are on the threshold of marriage, stand up, raise your voice against dowry or display of opulence of your parents in the name of tradition and customs.. Take whatever your parents can give you, even demand (after all you have the right to and it is yours only) but don’t advertise it. Think of lakhs of family who cannot afford to do so. and even if they can afford it.

SHE

June 8, 2009
[Guest Post Contributed by Imp’s Mom]

 

SHE

She is worshiped
She is treasured
She is given all the luxuries of life that can be offered

Yet

She does not have Freedom

Freedom to make her own choices
Freedom to make her own mistakes
Freedom to live her life in her own terms
Freedom to learn from her own mistakes

Give her an education
Give her a chance to make it worthwhile
Give her a chance to grow, show her the love and watch her blossom

She is no less than a son.

Say NO to Gender Inequality and Female Infanticide.

A Story about Gender Discrimination

May 19, 2009

[Post Contribution by Kislay Chandra of Orange Blog]

The not very unlikely juxtaposition of a quote from Solilo‘s post and a conversation with a friend of mine sowed the seed of thought for this post. This is the quote from Solilo’s blog post “Brusque” –

“Do not keep quiet in the face of injustice and gender bias. Those who knowingly
keep quiet are as guilty as the perpetrators of injustice”

And how are they related? Well, they are related because my friend is a woman, working in a reputable multinational software company has been the victim of sexual discrimination. This MNC tries hard to maintain a decent sex-ratio, and I guess it is because of some tax incentive they get. Now my friend, let’s call her Mridul (she is very polite), and her colleague and friend, let’s call her Aparajita (she is very spunky), have together faced the brunt. Their victimization has been so subtle, nondescript, and insidious, that even they failed to notice it. Or, they did sense it, but did nothing about it, because as a woman, you are used to facing a more than average resistance than your average man faces. They, being the decent and helpful creatures (and confound them for being nice), have been facing a slew of shit since the day they joined their team.

Before I start telling you their story, let me tell you, that it suddenly dawned upon me ; what they have been facing is not just due to the misfortune of working in a software company in recession hit times as a fresher, but a significant portion of this “crap” has been dumped upon them on account of their sex. In one moment of epiphany, all the stories I heard over the past 5 months fell in place, illustrating the real picture. And it is ugly, sad and absolutely preposterous.

Here is the scenario – Mridul and Aparajita are freshers as I told you, and they were on bench for quite some time. For those fortunate enough never to have heard this term before, let me tell you what it means. It means that you are rusting. Your company has no work for you. And in these times, the axe may fall anytime. So these girls , along with another guy , one of the protagonists of our bitter-and-real life story , whom I shall name Mahamoorkh Chapanduk Pakhandi ( A big fool – A duffer – A hypocrite ) , i.e. M.C.P. , were grouped informally as a team , to be trained for the particular project soon-to-be-their team was working on. They were not formally allocated , but rather on their way to allocation. That is a like a state of limbo, between heaven and hell, neither here nor there.So the three of them started their training. This involved mastering a technology, by doing and learning. And these three, as unofficial members of the team, had no access to individual computers, but rather had to share one. Three people – One computer. That is shocking on an altogether different level, for the MNC is multi-billion dollar company.
Anyway, I think you all get an idea of what happened. One computer shared by three people, all of whom were supposed to practice their theory. Clashes were imminent and unavoidable. But after the initial unrest, the girls worked out things between them. But then, one computer, shared by two girls and one M.C.Pakhandi. This jackass, instead of being a gentleman and a professional, and trying to adapt to the situation, eventually turned out to be a pukka MCP, one that would make any other MCP proud. Like a wolf in a sheep’s clothing, eventually he showed his true ugly colors. Now, Shreeman Pakhandi , hogged the computer , rarely offered them the one chair they all had to share or relinquished control of the mouse/keyboard .He went through the material they all had to study together at his own pace. If he ever did offer any help and/or the computer, it was more out of condescension, rather than a genuine sense of fair play and team spirit. It was a gesture of magnanimity, doled out to make the other feel small and insignificant. Whenever these girls expressed their difficulty in grasping some concept or the other, it emanated a smile from him, one which said “You dumb girls”, the emphasis being more on ‘girl’ than ‘dumb’.A completely unrelated, and yet, a significant incident. There is a quiz where you have to write the name of girl, the first one that comes to your mind. Now the jackass who came up with this quiz, was probably banking upon the fact , that like him , most other males would also write the name of the girl they are secretly or openly in love with. The purpose of this charade being to ascertain the name of your love, so that your friends can have a nice time pulling your leg. So our friend, Mahamoorkh, in the presence of Mridul and Aparajita, wrote a name. And as expected, the girls started teasing. And can you take a shot in the dark, and think up what his response was?“I do not think of her like that. She is NOT beautiful”. Now you call me a loon, but this gives an insight into his character. Had the words been “I am not attracted to her”, it would have been no more than a blip on the radar. But the ones that actually came out suggest that, to him, Love is a by-product of sexual attraction. From that, I conclude that either he is sees woman as sex-objects, and only those beautiful or hot enough are worthy of his love. I may be wrong. I hope I am.Our friend, M.C.Pakhandi, then ganged up with a fellow pig, lets call him Sidekick Swine (Pigs are in the air, eh?) , and two of them together, then made fun of the girls. Now, a very interesting observation is that, in this entire episode, he has never passed a single lewd remark, or made any obscene gesture. He has done nothing, which can actually be construed as actual sexual harassment. But, even this is sexual harassment. And I do not need a pair of ovaries, and a dose of estrogen to come to this conclusion. In the events that have unfolded in the past 5 months, the actions of MCP and his two bit sidekick, SS, have been more or less influenced by the fact, they Mridul and Aparajita are two girls, normal girls, neither bitchy nor meek. He behaves so, because, maybe, he sees them as not worthy of competing against him, or his bloated ego cannot digest a challenge from the fairer and apparently weaker sex.This was one man. Now for some more.In this team, all the girls, the ones who were lucky enough to get allocated got testing, as compared to the guys, who got development. Testing is commonly perceived as a job beneath the dignity of any coder worth his salt. But in a company, where most of the employees have not studied CS as their major, most of them are not coders.

So the assignment should be done purely on the basis of their performance in the training program, and not on their sex. But, the girls get testing, not because they are not good at coding, but because they are girlsWhat some guys actually think about the role of the female members the team – To act as a stress buster, for the overworked male colleague, by letting them flirt with them anytime they want, objects to practice their macho act on and an interesting way to engage yourself when at leisure.There was a team meeting in which the members were supposed to write down suggestions and ideas to improve the performance of the project. Our troika attended that meeting as well, even though they were not contributing towards the project. As they had no idea about what actually was going on, Mridul and Aparajita, could not have possibly come up with any idea or suggestion. So while they stared at their blank post-its, it caught the attention of senior male colleague. Initially, he coaxed them to write something. And soon it turned into a game, where another team member joined them, and unloaded a pile of post-its. They took verbal jabs at them, had fun at their expense, and shared this awesome in-joke. And guess what, M.C. Pakhandi, and S. Swine were nowhere around. Sexist? Or I am over imaginative?Personally, I would thrash guys like MCP and SS within inches of their lives, but that would not do anyone any good. His complex, his antagonism towards woman, in general or particular would only increase. I just don’t how can people like these be cured.Now that the story is over, some of you may challenge the neutrality of the story teller, i.e. yours truly. For the past 5 months, whenever I heard their stories, Mr. Pakhandi was never the villain. He was just a male colleague, sometimes very irritating and obnoxious, and un-co-operative, but never the enemy. The girls never saw him in that light till I pointed it out, and they gave an unbiased account, telling it as it happened . As I said before, the realization that something sexist was going on was sudden, and hence, the story.It is high time the girls kicked some serious MCP ass. I hope they get his balls as a trophy.

An uncommon strength, An undying inspiration…

May 12, 2009

The results for the Kerala State Board, Std XII, the regular HSE, and the VHSE, were announced today by the Education Minister, Shri M A Baby. It was around , perhaps, 11.30 am by the time he got to the nitty gritty, speaking of how it had gone down by about 4 percent, as against last year’s performance, and that there was only one child in the VHSE who secured A+ grades in all of his subjects. A rare distinction indeed. (The Kerala State Board gives only grades to the SSLC, the 10th Std, and both grades and marks to the 12th std. )Before you jump to conclusions, no, this is not about him 🙂

Shri Baby also mentioned that the education department would look into and give special attention to those schools who have performed the worst, at least 4 schools, from the bottom of the list, and ensure that any shortcoming by way of academic or infrastructure requirements are attended to, so that the students may be brought up, on par.

While all this was inspiring, the atmosphere at home was a little tense, as we needed to know some childrens’ results and the websites just refused to open. Finally, after more than an hour, relentlessly hounding all the browsers I have, IE, Firefox, and Google Chrome, one window on Firefox [yayyy! I love firefox!] opened with the result longed for!

The name was right, Revathy Narayanan, Roll No. was right… And she drew in a deep breath, proceeding to the marklist. English, 59, C+, (a sigh, quiet, but heavy!), GFC -General Foundation Course- better 76, B+, MLT -Medical Lab. Technician course- Practicals, a whopping 140 out of 150, and 48 out of 50, A+ in both, Chemistry and Physics, 78, B+, and Biology was 67, B grade.

Oh! Ok. That is an average performance, given the fact that papers would have been easy, and of course the fact that tuitions galore should have enhanced the performance in at least the science subjects? That would be one’s normal reaction, in this day and age of competitive, fierce competitive examinations, and preparations!

But no, not this time. I sat back and looked at the screen, Revathy, chewing her nails, a bit unhappy, her mother not quite sure of how precisely the results had turned out; to say I felt proud of her at that moment was an understatement. Why so, you might ask, given this well, just above average performance?

Let me take you back a couple of years, for that. Revathy had just completed her 10th. Results time again. Grades only this time, and she managed A+ grades in most, with only an A grade, and a couple of B+ grades. So? Did she not perform less satisfactorily this time then? Absolutely not.

Let me explain. Revathy is the daughter, the elder daughter, of Chandrika who helps me at home (I do not like to mention domestic help, because for me she is and has always been, in these last 13 years, family :)). Chandrika works at our place, and two other houses, battling odds like opposition from her relatives, her husband who used to, till a few months ago, drink and abuse his family, and so called well-meaning neighbours who never forgot to take pot shots at her, esp. when she dressed well, and ensured her kids had education. Government schools, and travelling by public transport, but good education nonetheless. But, sadly no tuition. For she could not afford it. I did call Revathy, and told her to find a suitable place to go for tuitions in any subject, and that I would take care of it, but she simply said that it was Ok, and she would manage. She did. Awesomely!

So, you see, today, when she proved to me again, Revathy, ie, that believing in oneself, working towards an objective, no matter where you are, is the stuff inspiration is made of. She inspires. She shows me the way, as her mother has, several times, when I was down because of nastiness I have encountered here and there.

She shows me that impossible is really nothing. That being a girl, in an underprivileged background is nothing. That it is all there for the taking, only one has to reach out and take it with both hands. One has to want it, and one has to be it. And being a girl, who was supposed to be a domestic help like her mother had nothing to do with it.

Back to the moment of the results. As I had mentioned, she was unhappy about the C+, but I just glossed over it, congratulating her, and sending her off. A few minutes later her mother called to ask me to speak to her, as she felt she compared poorly, with her fellow classmates. What could I tell her?

So I asked her if anyone of them did not go for tuitions. The answer was No. All of them did.
Did they have a father who really was not bothered? No.
Did they have to learn each bit of their course, all on their own, with no outside help? No.

Then, I told her, my very dearest girl, why you’re the best there is. I told her how proud I was, much more that my own children, whose results anyway could have been way better! And I told her that finally it was all within. See, I said, how that wanting to do the best you could has brought you here? Low grades in English don’t mean a thing, it’s just a number, a letter.

And please, I told her, please, let us look upward, and ahead, because what has happened has… and nothing can change that! But a positive, and strong outlook ahead will make even miracles seem like child’s play! I thought I heard a tiny sigh at the other end. I hope it was one of relief 🙂 I am sure though, that it must have been the fact that I was about to end the call, that made her sigh 🙂 🙂

Whatever be that, I know that I am so so proud of this young girl, who defies fate, and shows us, that being the best you can be is not about gender or circumstance. It is about who you are, and want to be!

Thank you, Revathy, and thank you Chandrika. Now, you’re a wonderful mother, much more than you will ever know yourself to be 🙂 And now you too are famous 🙂 🙂

God bless you, always 🙂

Post Script: Chandrika’s younger child is a boy, who she wanted to have, so badly, because she faced endless jibes about having a daughter. The young man has just completed his 10th, a little rogue, is his mother’s worry , in caps.. :), but an affectionate chap who really means well. His grades too were above average, but nothing to match his sister’s performance in the 10th. But to have achieved that much is to his credit, though he did go for tuitions, in most subjects 🙂

This is an impromptu post, really, and as usual I have rambled 🙂

However…
It’s been a day of much upliftment, and joy, all around!

12 May, 2009

[Written by Usha Pisharody]