The Night!

Why does middle of the night feel like standing in front of mirror and seeing my reality?

Why does it always show me what I am or I am not really capable of?

Why do all my misgivings start staring into my face with accusations?

Why do all the things that I want to do, get compartmentalised so easily into right and wrong?

Why at night I see my unfulfilled desires playing like trailers of movies I missed watching?

Why is it only at night that all the devils come at me together and take advantage of my lonliness?

And why does everything change as the first rays of the sun touch my side of the earth?

Why do I suddenly become the exact same person I was last morning?

Why do the devils who came looking for me last night left no trace of their presence?

Why do I start believing in myself again?

The Love of a Dog.

The Love Of A Dog

Twenty years of being averse to animals, were I can say the most deprived years of my life. My first reaction to a dog on the road used to be, instantaneously crossing over to the other side. A pet in someone’s house right away meant that I am not going to their house. My family, on the other hand was very different bunch of people. My dad had his list of pet dogs in his childhood and my brother was waiting for the day we shift into a bigger space to get one for him. I, on the other hand was petrified of dogs.

To my brother’s delight the day finally arrived that we shifted into our own bungalow and got home a boxer puppy, the tiny bundle of joy. We named him Newton. It took me a while to warm up to him. As time passed by, he and I both kept crossing one milestone after the other, until eventually we became very good buddies. I was now one of his favorite people and he, mine. I did not know that loving an animal could bring so much joy. The pleasure of coming home to an over enthusiastic and forever jumping cartoon was something else. The never-ending licks and he being behind me forever like he was my tail, was something else.

I was with him for only five years until I got married and moved on to another city. As much as in my heart I wanted to take him along with me, I could not separate him from his family. But those times were the memories that I cherish the most. No matter what mood I was in, I was bound to get into the happy mode as soon as I saw him. He was my constant companion, we went for walks, for drives, we shared the same bed and even the same pillow. What I wore, how I looked did not matter to him, he looked at me with the same warm eyes. Those brown eyes piercing into mine always told me he saw me for what I am. He was my comfort zone under all circumstances. On days when I was jumping around the house in joy over a sudden success, he was there with me, tugging at my arm, barking with glee, running around the length and breadth of the house like he’s won a lottery and he was also there with me when I was low, licking my face, urging me to smile or play. Newton taught me what it is to love and love without condition.

Five years of being with Newton made me compassionate towards animals. He had converted an animal atheist to a believer. After shifting to city post matrimony, my yearning for a four legged companion did not cease. Getting settled into a new house and new surroundings, I could not breach the subject of getting a pet. But as fate would have it, one day out of nowhere a frail and hairless puppy was at my doorstep, as if asking for help. I again could not bring myself to ask my family if I could feed this feeble puppy. After two days when the puppy refused to move from our doorstep, I started feeding her. After asking around in the neighborhood, I found out that her previous owner had abandoned her, fearing her skin infection could be contagious and harmful for his family. Sad, that he had not considered the dog a part of his family. And hence he chose to leave her on the roads to succumb to her fate. The mentality of supposedly called the most gifted species of this planet- the human being was barbaric. She was visibly sick. She had no hair when I found her and according to the vet, with lots of tender love, care and good nutritious food she would be good to go within just 20 odd days. And thus we embarked a on a new journey.

To my utter glee my husband was in total support of what I wanted to do with this dog. I did not know her breed and I did not care. I got started with mission “Choti”. Yes! I had named her Choti for the time being because, she was so petite. I secured a safe spot for her outside the house, in the veranda for her. She had somehow sensed that I was there to help her and not harm. My days started revolving around her upkeep. My mornings began by bathing her, applying her ointments, giving her supplements, preparing her meals and feeding her with my own hands. The vet had said that her hair will grow back in twenty days if I administer the medicines as prescribed. The wait was full of anxiety. I was doing my best trying to do the best for the hairless puppy in my care. It felt like a battle that I had to win.

Because she used to be in the veranda and being hairless obviously she did not make a very pleasant sight to see, people started asking me- why have you kept a sick puppy? You can afford real good breeds, why this sticky hairless one? Why have you kept an ugly looking dog in front of such a beautiful house? It is spoiling the look of the house. I was amazed and at the same time, appalled at the responses of people. Everyone had free, unwanted advice to offer. But me being her mommy and she being my baby, I did not accept any flak for Choti. I fought back with fervor, sometimes by being rude and at other times asking people, would they abandon their own child if it were to fall sick? I managed to hold the wagging tongues with my retaliation. And it was easy with my family backing me up.

The wait was finally over, and it was Day 21. Tiny golden hair appeared all over her body, she suddenly started looking completely different. It was our day to meet the vet. He was extremely happy with the way we had progressed. And he could also identify her breed now. She was a golden retriever cross. For me she was my fighter child. She and I were extremely happy at the progress we did together. The base for a relationship was set forever.

She continued to stay in our veranda in her own mini den. And the same people who were anti Choti, started saying oh how cute, such an adorably puppy. None of that banter mattered to me anymore. Nursing a homeless sick dog back to her feet was more than a reward for me. As she grew up, we came to know that her guarding instincts are par excellence. That is the gift that she has given us in return for saving her. Because, she sits right outside our main door, no one in the house is ever afraid to stay alone. She’s our four legged security system.

Accepting and welcoming Choti into my life meant that I was signing up for hours of walking in whatever weather conditions, regular meal times and many a times expensive vet bills. But this does not deter me even for a minute from loving her. We share an unbreakable bond. She has me wrapped around her furry paws. We have our communication system. One look from her and I know whether she’s angry for me not telling her a bye when I am leaving, upset for not sharing the chicken with her, or wants to have her treats or just keen to have a tug of war with match with her rope toy.

When I fell in love with Newton, I think I automatically fell in love with the entire species. I have come to realize with my experience with dogs, that a dog has far more to offer than we generally deserve. Now, when I look back I realize that if her previous owner had not abandoned her, we wouldn’t have ever met. I don’t mean to say that the ordeal she went through as a tiny puppy was justified in any way. But whatever happened, indeed happened for the best for both of us. I am full of gratitude to have her in my life. And I will forever be indebted to Newton for walking into my life and showing me a side of me that I did not know existed within me, for showing me that I was capable of loving the animal kingdom so selflessly.

Being Childless by Choice in the Indian Society!

 

Let me begin with the fact that I am a 34 year old married woman with all my reproductive organs in working condition. I am married for the last 9 years. I do not have children, and I intend to keep it that ways.

When we got married, my husband and I were at least clear that we did not want a child for next few years.  We wanted to have a relaxed lifestyle and enjoy ourselves. I wanted to get to know the family and its ways.

Eventually as time passed my husband somehow became more and more clear about the fact that we were better off without children. And as he saw his friends and cousins becoming parents, he could not view himself being  one.  Nor had I felt the desire to become a mum even after two to three years into our marriage. I could not see myself getting pregnant and giving birth. We were on the same page.  My gynecologist told me that my biological clock was ticking, but for me my clock was on mute. It never rang. In time, my husband and I had decided we are not cut out to be parents. And we did not want to take the plunge simply because it was the next thing to do after getting married.

We as a family are active participants of the Bhartiya societal system. The Indian society is a society that is woven together with the threads of traditions, values and culture. It is a culture engraved with the concept of an ideal family that at least consists of-miya biwi aur do bacche. It is a culture that worships motherhood. And hence it goes without saying that our choice of life was frowned upon. The day I got engaged, the aashirwad to give the family a scion, preferably a male one was bestowed upon me.  Everyone was expecting us to hit the jackpot during our first night together. Every other month I was asked by some random relative or neighbor if my periods were delayed.  As years passed by we as a couple became the object of curiosity to many around us. There were speculations about who could be the defective one.  I was thrown questions and comments like- Did you show a good gynecologist? Or You are definitely going to regret this decision later in life!! or Are you going to  waste your life having fun like this forever?  Or How is it even humanly possible to voluntarily decide that you don’t want children?  A neighbor even concluded that me getting my golden retriever sterilized before she could get pregnant was the reason I was ‘cursed’ and did not have babies. Surprisingly, these questions were always for me. And they always found me at the strategic time when my husband was not around.

As all this began, it was emotionally draining at once. My husband could not understand the brouhaha the people created around our decision. And he asked me to stand up for the decisions I have made. In due course I put my guards up and told myself that it was my decision too and it did not require justification of any sort on my behalf to the society. I did not owe any explanation to any one.

The country that I was born and brought up in, until some years ago, the ultimate dream of most of the women was to bag a perfect husband, make babies with him and look after them.  In India, the yardstick of judging a woman has been her housekeeping skills and her ability to bear a successor for the family she is married into. Not being able to bear a child was always considered a sin by the keepers of the society. Never was it considered that the man also could be responsible for the same. In extreme cases the female was many a times tossed aside like cattle which was of no use to the farmer for she had stopped bearing children and therefore stopped giving milk.  We women have been thriving inherently in the patriarchal societal system since decades now, trying our best to fit into the mold of an ideal bhartiya naari.

There are no two ways denying the fulfillment and the joy that motherhood and building a beautiful functional family brings along with it. I have seen my friends being overtly joyous on becoming parents. Becoming a mother has its own perks. For many becoming a mother is associated with the feeling of being complete or whole. But it also comes with a responsibility for lifetime. As their children grew, my friends started calling me the wiser one and even the luckier one that I did not have to deal with sleepless nights, howling kids, and their tantrums. Being a parent is a full time job and like everything else it needs skills to raise a well rounded child. It also means that you have to almost always put the needs and desires of the child before you, which is not easy or possible for everyone today. Many women had to give up promising careers to raise the child against their wishes.  Effective parenting needs lifelong commitment. Parents are held accountable with the kind of human being the child turns up to be. And in my opinion it is not an easy task at all given today’s scenario. Many a times women have their own demanding careers.  Bringing a child in to this world is no longer associated with the feeling of being whole.  Fulfillment is coming by in various other packages. Like, I find it extremely fulfilling looking after my two dogs and one cat and help every other animal in distress in my capacity. Every individual’s soul food is diverse.

With times changing, priorities have changed. Building a family does not necessarily fit into that scheme of things. Likeminded couples now want to spend time and energy building and forwarding their careers. They want to spend their hard earned moolah on seeing the world or on an expensive hobby or a luxurious lifestyle may be. The couples want to see the world, tour their own country, explore every nook and cranny, and tread an unknown path. It is not obviously about the children here, it is about the couples who choose not to have them.  Motherhood was always associated with the concept of feeling whole.

 In earlier times, children were also viewed as the “budhape ki laathi.” But now with the families becoming nuclear, it is not the same. The concept of joint families is wearing off, at least in the metros. Couples want their space and the parents want theirs. Youngsters in the Asian sub continent are settling down in the USA, Europe and Australia. In such cases the parents are generally left alone, to fend for themselves. Mostly in such cases the children cannot even come to their parents salvage in emergency situations.

As the century has turned, women have become financially independent. The mold of the “purush pradhan” society is about to crumble slowly. With one achievement after the other in every walk of life, the women are proving their prowess. And in this process they have become less dependent on the men of the family for their needs. Independence has given them the wisdom and capability to take their own decisions. And on a positive note the metrosexual man has started accepting his better half as his equal. The men now give all the creative freedom to the women. They exist as equals in the 21st century. The role dynamics of men and women in any kind of relationship have undergone a sea change. All this is causing shift in the needs and desires of a couple. Fulfillment of a relationship is not dependant on having a child any more. There are many other things that a couple, like to do together or individually to lead a content life. Married couples in agreement with one another are making well researched, well informed and well thought of decision of opting out of parenthood.

Not becoming parents, is a choice, a preference. It is a contended, fulfilled life despite or perhaps because of being what is called “childless”. It is also a good place to be in. I have no regrets.

TURNING 30! YAY OR NAY! 

​30, the age which many women dread to cross. (weird as it may sound, but nonetheless the truth). Obviously no one can do absolutely anything about it, but yes for many there’s not a very pleasant feeling attached to it. It is either the fear of growing old, or not wanting to grow old. Or may be not willing to cross the “jawani” phase. I recently wished a friend on her 30th birthday and her reaction was oh no, please don’t wish me, I don’t have a good feeling about the whole turning 30 thing. And I was surprised at her reaction. I then remembered that I turned 30, three years ago and I also had a similar thought process, though I was not so dramatic about it. I did not go around announcing how I felt about it. I did try to assure my friend that turning 30 is one of the best things that can happen to her, but she somehow was in no mood to pay heed to my opinion then. May be time will tell.  
As I recall, I also walked into my 30’s with a heavy heart. Suddenly that feeling of getting older was seeping in. And all sorts of things like oh! will I have to start using an anti wrinkle cream now, and whether or not my body will  respond well to the work outs I (seldom) try to do or oh my already sluggish metabolic rate will go further down the drain, will I have to dress age appropriate, can I not wear hair bands now, blah blah blah, my brain went on with its own train of thoughts.

Three years into being 30, believe me I feel it’s the best time in my life. I feel confident. I now have the courage to own my mistakes. I somehow believe I am more sorted with my life than I could ever be. I have a grasp over my life and the way it is turning out to be. And my poker straight hair is sudden curly like my body decided to gift itself a makeover sorts. Embracing the changes that come by, makes it so much more easier and beautiful. In the 20s my life kept evading me rebelliously. We were playing some sort of ‘catch me if you can’ kind of a game. But now me and my life both, like to go hand in hand.   Everything now is realistic. Unlike the castles built in mid air in my 20s
I am not complaining. The 20s were beautiful in their own way and wild in others. There was a lot of figuring out to do. Lot of mistakes to make. Lot of naïve fun to have. 20s gave me my base, my time for contemplation, time for some self discovery. And also was my time to find a (suitable) life partner. Like the life before we turned 20 was all hunky dory with the only tension being studies, 20’s threw all the uncertainties directly at you in your face. It was like passing all the tests of life. Making all important decisions that will stay with you forever,path of life, career, life partner for many,may be the number of children you would like to have. And so many things that will be with you till you are alive and will dictate how you live your life too. May be the 20s was an entire decade of figuring out.
After all figuring out, in the 30s you still have a long way to go but yes for most of us the path has been carved. By now you know in which direction you want to head. 30s is the time to enjoy the decisions you made in the 20s. Everything that you want to do now will be for you, not in a selfish way but in a way that you by now know that you need to focus on yourself. It’s a different feeling altogether. Like you’ve been swept by a wave of confidence. I think it’s the time you finally  start appreciating and accepting yourself and start caring a damn about what the others around think about you and your decisions.
About the second side of this coin, things that you ought to do now is be responsible for yourself and for the people dependent on you. This is the time when you have to see your parents age, and your children grow, your business, your career take shape and you have to be simultaneously be responsible for everything. Generally the time of role reversal from being taken care of to being a care taker. 
Its not a perfect age, but definitely a special time. And absolutely something to look forward to. And believe me after you’ve crossed this milestone of being 29, you’ll prefer revelling  in red wine rather than being sloshed by vodka. 

Sanskritik Bhartiya Nari- Has the idea now gone kaput?

The ideal Bhartiya Naari, who was she? Or what comes to your mind when you hear the label Bhartiya Nari? To me it brings about an image of a pretty sari clad woman, wearing a round bindi and vermillion in the hair indicating matrimony. It brings memories of our mommy, may be grandmommies, aunts,etc etc. They were the right examples that represented the Indian woman. Ideal not only in the way they dressed but ideal in every other way, performing every role with the perfection they knew. A doting daughter, a fine sister, obedient wife, caring mother, and many many more.  Someone who was content with her surroundings and compliant with the decisions the men in her life made. To put it simply, she was having little more than none, say in her own life. She still led content and a happy life without asking too many questions.

But as times changed, along with it, it bought about a plethora of changes in every aspect of our lives, and her life too.  The brand new bhartiya naari is now clad in crisp trousers and is taking the world by a storm.  

The shift from being a sari clad woman to one in pants has made the woman in charge of her life. She’s no longer dependant on the opposite sex, mainly the husband for meeting her needs. Whatever be the need- emotional or physical. She is capable of taking care of her own needs. Being financially independent, economic security that came with the presence of a man is not valid anymore.

The independent lady now wants it all. No more compromises. Marriages are also adapting itself to the demands of the modern society.  Today’s generation does not want to live their life in concessions. All the needs have to be met- ASAP. Whatever be the gaps, they need to be filled, legitimately or illegitimately. (Definition of legitimate or illegitimate differs from person to person here too)

Now cutting to the chase, I want to highlight the changes  that relationships between a man and women have undergone a change after the woman has taken control of her own life. Now the gaps between the relationship of a man and a woman are no longer overlooked. They might just be in love or will be living in together or the conventional married ones. A woman wants to be in charge of how she feels about a particular relationship and how she wants to be treated and dealt with.

Impatience is a vice in this era of instant gratification. And relationships are bearing the brunt of this habit. The end result is a relationship with a variety of unfulfilled wishes or gaps, which are being filled by outside sources.  And here, by saying, outside sources I am referring to INFIDELITY. Infidelity comes in various types, the boredom wala, the physical need wala, the emotional attachment wala, the novelty seeking wala and many more, that I may not be aware of.

As the trend goes the men are generally held at ransom for infidelity, and women always enjoy playing the victim. But isn’t it true that it takes two to tango, so whom do men cheat with? Obviously with willing women. So the blame does not lie with the men alone.

The opportunities to sneak out and have fun have become easier with women going to work and interacting with the opposite sex on a regular basis, or stay at home women having the world at her finger tips with this wonder gadget- the smart phone and the various social media platforms on it. And hence when in a relationship the feeling of being unwanted, unloved or undeserved creeps in ,the woman starts using the resources at her disposal to fill these gaps as soon as they can. And more often than not, it is also done for experiencing the thrill factor of being someone else’s center of the universe and for that teenager like fun. It is often done to unearth what lies in the forbidden land of pleasures. The changing times have made sex before and outside of marriage more and more open, marriage is no longer a prerequisite to sanctioned physical relationship. Many a times a simple thing like the need for a long and meaningful conversation draws us towards someone who’s likeminded and then one thing leads to another. The dynamics of every relationship is changing and the independent woman is now in charge of her side of the story.

Amidst the process of evolution, the docile saree clad Bhartiya Naari has vanished and her place is taken by a woman who is in complete control of her life and its demands. And she’s not ashamed to reclaim what she thinks is rightfully her to attain, whatever be the end result. 

Married women’s dilemma – mother’s house, still ours after marriage?

We’ve been hearing this adage since times immemorial that – Beti paraya dhan hoti  hai. I personally never gave it too much significance until the reality stuck hard at 24. I was married off in another town, away from my home town, my parents, my grandparents, my dog, my friends, and almost everything that I was used to since the day I was born.

The initial years of marriage are all hunky dory, for most of us. You’re living in your own bubble and enjoying it to the core to notice the world passing by. But I think slowly and steadily it strikes, when you go to “your house” or may we start referring  to it as our mom’s house (I wish I could enter emojis here) and you spot a new rug and your first expression looking at it is, Oh Ma! When did you buy this rug, you did not even tell me about it (offended ,but not showing). To that Ma lovingly says, beta, it just slipped out of my mind to tell you about it(what a trivial matter!). And you just nod (holding back a river of irrational emotions). Earlier when such a mundane task of buying a rug, was a family thing, everyone was involved (including you). You suddenly cant help but feel only one thing- left out!

Whatever just happened, has left a tiny bit dent in some corner of your heart. You suddenly  start feeling that you do not belong, you feel left out of the world, that you were a part of once, a world that was your own, or so you thought. That one rug has caused such an upheaval in your mind.

At first I thought it was a product of my overactive and superiorly sensitive mind, but one day after a heart to heart talk with a mate I came to know that, I’m not the only one and this goes on in every married woman’s head (heaves some sigh of relief). I don’t know if this feeling has a name to it. Or it has been already tagged like the “7 year itch” in a marriage. But it sure does exist in the crevices of every married woman’s mind. And sometimes these thoughts pop their head out from there, raising in valid questions.  Such is the life of a married woman.

This is something that every girl goes through after she gets married. The confusion about ownership, about what’s really mine, my parent’s home or my husband’s? Both or none at all.

The rational explanation that comes up here is that this is a phase, and in my opinion a transitional phase.  Or in my situation, the product of an empty head, devil’s workshop. Whatever be the case, it needs to be dealt with ASAP or at least with some caution. It’s ok to have certain fleeting thoughts, till  they remain in one tiny corner of your head. Letting these thoughts occupy the entire space in your mind can definitely be dangerous. Because, ultimately we have to let go. We have to learn to accept the situation. And deal with it maturely.

As time passes by, like all wounds, this one also heals. Or at least it hurts less. And that is because you grow up. Or probably get immune to it. Slowly and steadily though. Gradually you start accepting your surroundings and the situation you are in. Gradually but surely you start doing one thing that is extremely essential- Accepting.  As time passes by, you start building your own world, your own space.  And that is because by now you are comfortable with your new life,  enter the next phase of your life, most of you out there start out with expanding your own family and start making a space that is your own, a world that is your own.

That doesn’t mean you stop yearning for the place where you grew up. Ultimately however old you get, To your parents you will always be their little sensitive doll or their tom boy.