STOP-OVER ‘n RE-START

O’s Little Book of Happiness

Before putting down this book, I would like to share a few excerpts which I found insightful and encouraging. This is from O’s Little Book of Happiness. One of the books which kept me going last month. 1. How about you spend less time on relationships in which you feel like Charlie Brown, trying to kick the football Lucy invariably pulls away, and spend more time with people who don’t leave you crushed and disappointed over and over and over? Go find the people who are waiting to love you. Because they do exist.(Martha Beck)2. There is no big decision to be made now. My life doesn’t need changing. But it is extraordinary to realize that this infinitely happy moment, framed in time -not the memories, not the ambitions-is my life. And in this moment I change the tense: I stop becoming and just am. (Thelma Adams)3. There’s a reason the word incredible contains the word edible (Patricia Volk)Want more of it?🐜😄 Check out the book. Nothing critical, nothing adamantly philosophical, but it heals!

The World of Translation

I doubt myself as a translator, quite often short of breath while trying to bring to life the global version of a passage in my mother tongue. It is a hard task not to lose both the flavours, myself being only a learner, a seeker and not proficient in both the linguistic arenas. Even then I feel immensely blessed to have people trust me with their works. On World Translation Day, I cannot forget the first person to trust me with his beloved work on the life of his mentor and guide, Mar Ivanios. Thank you Zacher for letting me wade into a text which was personal and poetic. I thank Unni R for granting me the rights to translate one of his stories for Muse India. I thank Gracy Teacher for granting rights to translate a story of hers for Kerala Sahitya Akademi’s Malayalam Literature Survey. I thank Aar Sangeetha for the green signal to translate a few of her poems for Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature. Thank you Kala Sajeevan and Anna joy for granting rights for two of your poems. Hope it will see the light soon. Thank you Shahina EK Chechi for trusting me with one of your stories for a magazine, yet to come out. I was equally blessed to be translated by Anju Sajith, Saqti Mohanty and Vm Girija. I felt honoured and humbled to receive the Malayalam translations of my poems online and offline from Anju and Girija Chechi. I walked back the bridge with Anju, bringing her Paint Brush .000 into English, which is soon to be scripted as a movie. I never imagined that my scribblings would come in Odiya. But Saqti took the initiative and published those in leading dailies. I thank Radhika Ma’am for translating a few of my poems into Tamil. Evergreen memories about the effort put in as a team while working with Jyothi Gopu, Maya Alex and Ancy Cyriac on Vaidehi’s stories. I am grateful to the veteran in the field, Alaichanickal Joseph Thomas Sir for his timely advice and corrections, without which many of my attempts would have been still-born. I don’t think that I would have met any of the above friends, if not for the tryst with translation. These days while reading and translating a few stalwarts simultaneously, I feel the burden of dreams, expectations and anxiety of each of the writer who has trusted me while handing over their stories. Translation is not an easy task. Sometimes you spend days together searching for that one word, or trying to pattern the sentences so that nothing much is lost in the process, and that nothing feels alien on a foreign tongue. Somedays you pray earnestly for what is added so that it doesn’t turn out to be a kill-joy, but boosts the context, the plot and the reading experience. It is not a resting spot, rather traversing between languages is a long trail, reaching where spaces are liminal. I love translation, because it shows me that linguistic boundaries are permeable. And that there are places beyond rights and wrongs. Hats off to all those who are embarked on this journey, shouldering multiple linguistic spaces! Thank you Annie Vallikappen Amal Pirappancode കെ എസ് രതീഷ് Indu MenonS Hareesh HareeshKN PrasanthArshad BatheryAjijesh Pachat and many more who have supported my humble ventures.And yes, hugs to Agatha Kurian. This dear one is a motivation par excellence.

World Food Day, October 16th , 2021

On World Food Day, beyond food, think about the makers of daily bread. Someone in the family or in the hostel or in a hotel takes pain to sweat every meal time. Seldom do children address their parents’ needs and only the young who live by principles of love will extend a helping hand. Sagar Kolwankar’s My Name is Gulab is a sharp criticism on our society. But the heart of Gulab, the daughter, bleeds throughout and paints a rose in the end. I was reminded of this little book today when I saw this article. A 14 year old girl decides to make a machine to help her mother, and a teacher supports her venture. I believe that the best education happens when home and school join hands together for the betterment of the makers of our society.In 2019, to give her mum an extra set of hands to simplify household work, Navshri decided to innovate a device that can do different tasks.Excerpts:🍁🍁“First, I imagined and drew a rough device on paper. I applied simple scientific principles that can help my mother cut vegetables and prepare other dishes at the same time. However, to improve the design and to develop a real-time prototype, I approached my school science teacher Aradhana Patel for guidance,” says Navshri.Aradhana consulted a few carpenters to understand whether the design would work. Based on their advice, the device was altered and, by 2021, replicated. It was named Multi-Use Kitchen Machine.The device, which can be operated by hands, has eight functions including cutting vegetables, extracting juice, crushing spices, rolling rotis, among others. It is made using teak wood, steel plates, cups and more. To purchase the materials, funds were provided by the National Innovation Foundation.

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World Mental Health Month – October 2021

I have noticed my dear ones shun the word ‘mental health’. Many of my friends reply to my ‘How are you?’, with the usual ‘Fine’, ‘Great’, ‘Good’! And I admit that many a times I do the same. But I have been in the shit, a couple of years ago. My mind has traversed the darkest valleys, and if not for the divine healing I would not have fared well. If not for that one person who walked up to me and told me that life was not over, I guess I would have remained in the dark, groping here and there for the way forward or behaved robot-like. There’s a lot of difference between surviving and living. I admit it to myself . I think living is important. Being honest with yourself is the first step towards healing. There were days when I had to drag myself up from bed, push myself to the workplace and move around like a mechanic. And the more I tried to hide it, the more damage it did to me. Some days I did not even try to get up and just gave in. Some nights I sat and cried, without even knowing why. Hey, does this sound like you? Am not going further down the lane. Because am sure with each step you will find a mirror in me. I know how important mental health is. Because I have seen the other side, and where it can lead you to. Anger, depression, over eating, inertia are a few of those curves down the lane. Does it happen now? Yes, once in a while. But thank God, now I know what to do and how to. And I know I am blessed. I take effort to reach out when I slip down the slope. And I know myself better each day. I love Life and am immensely grateful to it. Yes, there will be dark days. But let’s move ahead. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We are not super-humans. But we are people with vulnerabilities and an erroneous race. Let’s accept that and step forward. Why the masked self? You got one on your face to stay safe. That alone is enough. Don’t hide beneath another constructed self with which you painfully exhibit only your better side.To all out there, who struggle with each sunrise and sunset, stay brave. You will get through. The WHO theme this year is to remain mentally fit in an unequal world. Yes, sadly it is an unequal clime. We ought to live by principles, but it is not a fair world. But be fair to yourself. Don’t you ever give up. The best is yet to be!😍😍

ABC of Kindness

There is something which I wish to pass on to my daughter. Books. So I keep searching for ones which will interest her, she belonging to a generation bombarded by e-stuff and screen hours from all sides. Myself, along with parents of my age, know that it is not easy to get our children reading. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. I am immensely grateful to my dear friends who love reading and who pick up the best books for my five year old. Here is a book Saparya was gifted with a few days ago. Am grateful to the gift giver. ❤️I recommend it for all children between 4 and 7 years’ old. It is titled ‘ABC of kindness’, by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Summer Macon. The pages introduce the alphabets of precious things which I wish my child learns along with her alphabet at school. For instance, the book says ‘B is for believing-things will work out in the end’, ‘G is being grateful- give thanks along the way’ and ‘L is for Love- a thing we all can share’, V is for voices – let everyone’s be heard … I guess this is what I want her to learn first. Please check out for yourself what the other alphabets are for. I am re-learning my ABC’s these days. ❤️PS:- Will be helpful if readers and book lovers here can suggest book titles for 5 year old. 😍 Here are a few among the ones here which we find interesting : Chu’s first day at School, A Sunday with Grandpa, The Tiny Seed, Excuse Me!, Goodnight Ark! , Bubbles series, My Name is Gulab, ഭോലു തിരിച്ചു വന്നപ്പോൾ, അബ്ദുവിന്റെ പേനകൾ, സമ്മാനപ്പെട്ടി. One book worth mentioning is കുട്ടിക്കഥകളും ചിത്രങ്ങളും – വി സത്യേയെവ്. The above are Saparya’s favourites.

Daughter’s Day

What my daughter teaches me everyday, for which I am ever grateful.

  1. No mother is a perfect one. Mothers are all human beings, fallible creatures and prone to making mistakes. Daughters are born to help you correct yourselves
  2. Parenting is not natural. It is a process, a trial and error, which never ends even in your old age.
  3. This challenge called ‘mother-daughter relationship’ is not gonna be easy. But growing together is worth it.

In a nutshell, ‘Grow old with me/ the best is yet to be’❤️

Prioritizing the Personal

*You and your friend need that email*Often, we make mistakes when we prioritise. We think that what we have listed as our priority requires cent percent of our dedication, and we sideline everything else. If given a choice over to reading and replying to a lengthy email from a friend who tries desperately to maintain the relationship over getting the work titled ‘Urgent!’ from your office done, what will be your option? Oliver Burkeman asks us to sit and reply to the friend. But we seldom do so. We sugarcoat it saying that we will email as soon as we get the cluttered desk cleared, since the mail requires an endearing response. Your desk will neither be cleared nor will your friend recieve the reply, even after two weeks. Burkeman says, getting yourself more into more work is not the way to becoming more efficient. “One can waste years this way, systematically postponing precisely the things one cares about the most. What’s needed instead in such situations, I gradually came to understand, is a kind of anti-skill: not the counterproductive strategy of trying to make yourself more efficient but rather a willingness to resist such urges—to learn to stay with the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed, of not being on top of everything, without automatically responding by trying to fit more in.” So what is important and how to go about it? Check this excerpt https://www.wsj.com/…/escaping-the-efficiency-trapand.

Hug yourself tight!

Some days turn out to be darker than the darkness. You search for a star, and feel disappointed not even to find a tail of it. It is so. The star need not come up. You are not a magician. You are mortal, a fallible creature. But you are blessed within to hold yourself tight. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And hold yourself close to you. Tell yourself, Tomorrow’s another day. Today is to be thankful.

Why You Should have More Than One Career!

(thanks to the editors of Kalyan Lantern September 2021 issue for publishing this)

A child grows up observing a social order which judges the merit of a profession on the basis of its financial rewards. More than the value of the service rendered, it is often what one earns that matter. ‘Easy money, easy life’ has become the motto of contemporary times. In such a scenario where we and the next generation gradually evolve into money-making machines, it is wonderful to meet people who choose paths differently. There are youngsters who divide their time between different jobs, not solely for monetary perks. They either move between two or more professions simultaneously or between one which they keep as a back up for financial reasons, and the other wherein they willingly invest their body, mind and soul for theirs and others’ betterment and wellbeing. There are also young people who after being placed in covetable positions have not stopped their education. Coursera, Ed-ex and Skillshare offer them ample chances to share their expertise and also learn about an otherwise unexplored area in their life, which can sometimes lead to a second career option. I would argue that choosing more than one way to travel is the best way to bless yourself. It will gift you with a feeling of being wholesome. In mitigating ourselves to one career, we inhibit our capacities to experiment with different possibilities of life. More than one path helps us to gain experiences from different sites, widen our social connections or networking, learn from different resources and let our creative energy flow through different channels. Being creative does not mean that we should excel in it to turn it into a profitable venture. For instance, you might be a creative story teller who can make people laugh and friends say, “One more, dear”. But that need not necessarily make you a renowned writer. At the same time, keep pumping your storytelling creative juices with which you make people around you happy. You can donate your free time to share stories and crack jokes with the lonely in old age homes, or children who live in orphanages. If you are ready to invest a bit more time and energy, the small backyard garden of yours can bloom into a small-scale organic farm, along with your corporate life. Or if you love baking, you can start an online cake shop along with your teaching career. Well, Dr. Nivetha Lakshman (doctors_bake_ on insta) is a dentist-baker. Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers and recipient of many awards including the Emmy, says in The Creative Habit, “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way”. Being creative will help you build a routine and bring more order into your life. It will definitely help in your mental well-being too. It can also help you heal. Manohar Devadas is a scientist, artist, writer and the recipient of Padma Shri Award in 2020. In his memoir Mahe & Mano: Challenges, Resilience and Triumphs he writes about how sketching and drawing helped him and his wife, Mahema tide over the tough situations in their life. In spite of a degenerative retinal disease, he and his wife worked on a special set of greeting cards every year. Mano made the drawings and Mahe sitting on a wheel chair, prepared the brief accompanying write-ups. They donated the sale proceeds of the cards to charity. Having multiple work options for reasons beyond materialistic fulfilment is a good way to break away from the monotony you feel in your daily life which is often centred around your solo career. People do not venture into choosing optional paths along with their current jobs because they believe that they won’t have time enough for all of it. Kabir Sehgal is a corporate strategist at a Fortune 500 company, U S Navy Reserve Officer, writer and record producer. In “Why you should have (at least) two careers” he says, “I make the time”. The key to making time is to do what you are passionate about as your second career option. Twyla Tharp agrees: Another thing about knowing who you are is that you know what you should not be doing, which can save you a lot of heartaches and false starts if you catch it early on. So, cheer up! Your life starts when you decide to choose between that which gets you a million dollars (period) or the ones which fetch you your daily bread, lots of sleep and good friendship (and much more). To quote Rutger Bregman’s Human Kind: Our biggest shortfall isn’t in a bank account or budget sheet, but inside ourselves. It’s a shortage of what makes life meaningful”. Paul tells Timothy, “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content”. Even when there won’t be enough of food and clothing, there will be endless peace and self-gratitude.

On Power

The same daily carries two write-ups. One records the news of an eighteen year old boy who was jailed in POCSO case for allegedly raping a seventeen year old girl. He walked out of Tirur Sub Jail after 35 days of incarceration when the DNA test proved false. He said that he was abused by the officer who arrested him and at the police station was also threatened to be pepper sprayed on the genitals. The editorial of The Hindu carries a write up by R K Vij, a senior IPS Officer in Chattisgarh. He says, ‘The police officers must know that their mandate is to protect human rights and not to violate them’. He urges the authorities towards a more humane policing. Today morning I could not but sit down a bit and think about how we use power daily. 1)Often we interpret power as that to be taken for granted and to be manipulated according to our wish. We consider the granting of power to be a measure to rule over or control.2)Once in power, we often let our vision clouded by assumptions. Instead of being proactive we tend to be cent percent reactive, which leads to misjudgements and violence.3)Power is to be used for the well being of ourselves and others. If not, it becomes autocratic. In a democracy power is to be equally shared.Now, I can see heads nodding. That is because we seldom consider us to be invested with power. We consider only people in certain positions as ‘powerful’. We believe that we are the ‘ordinary people’ and ‘powerless victims’. Before washing off blood from our hands, look within. What about the power we weild as responsible citizens? Are we too autocratic, misjudging and blind? How to do we treat others? An elderly woman who tries to cross the road or get into a bus requires the power within us. Your neighbour who is abused by her husband requires the power invested in you. A bullied child at school, a starving man on the streets, need your power to get up. Will you stand for your colleague who is continuosly victimised for the extra fat she has gained? Where is your voice when your friend is in a lonely situation? Why is it that we are so powerless when it comes to choose to stand with justice or its denial? And the power we wield at homes? Do we let everyone participate in decision – making? Or is one person’s word which runs the household? Hey, these are trivial matters, na? No! These are space(s) which require your powerful interventions. What use is power if not to heal?

Independent Loners
Now, this post has nothing to do with Independence Day, the day I pen this down being the same in India. This is a random thought which flew in the air last day, during a conversation with a dear one. I nested it. Our families bring up every child equally. But there is almost always a loner in majority of the houses. One who thinks differently, often upside down. One who is unruly and loud-mouthed. (In some rare cases the disobedient one keeps mum throughout.) One who swims against the normal current. One who is the first to question by word or deed the sugary hegemony wrapped in warm blankets of traditions. One who is laughed at the most during every family discussion. One who keeps writing exams after graduation and refuses to bend an inch even after the results are negative consecutively. Usually the one who wakes up late in the morning and turns off the light at odd times, yet sit gazing at the moon every night. One who seldom makes it to adult family gatherings on time, but the organiser of almost all of the cousins’ trips and getaways. One who needs constant reminders to comb hair and cut nails. Well, such ones leave the nest to everybody’s relief, yet leave behind a load of memories. These late-comers and arrogant ones are more than often found looking into vacant spaces with a book in hand. They are as unpredictable as the stories they read and incomprehensible as the poems they dream. But for sure, these social offbeats follow their hearts over their heads, and are often found sweeping away the broken pieces of the ticker under the carpet. Neither saints nor sinners, these are beings who are ever-becoming. They are insanely sane you know!🤓🤓😜
PC : Saparya
PS:- one of my current readings is Annie Vallikappan’s കാവൽക്കാരി. Congrats Annie, on the second edition of the novel❤️

*The Taken for Granted Race *
It is in human nature to take it for granted people and things. Youngsters believe that their parents should be available at their beck and call, say to borrow money or to baby-sit their grandchildren. The old people firmly believe that their grown up children should be available 24*7 on phone or grace them with their physical presence. We have taken for granted the many relationships we have- to be available when necessary, and to be discarded when it gets in the way. We take it for granted that the streets and roads we ride or walk upon must be clean and fresh. There should not be even a dry leaf to disrupt our footsteps. No dog should cross the street and jump in front of our car with a chicken bone in its mouth, fished out from a packet which lay on the pavement. But that does not hold us back from throwing an empty packet of juice or leftovers deftly through the windows of our car. We assume that it is the duty of the sweepers to clean the roads. We never try to be responsible enough to do our part to keep it tidy. We have taken for granted the men and women who sweep the lanes in the morning and bundle not only dried leaves , but also the waste dumped the night before, scattered on the road and sidewalks, since the car driver or bike rider was in a mad rush to clear the scene. A big salute to the chechis and chettans who clear the mess every day. You and I are conscious of our rights. What about our responsibilities? Do we remind ourselves of the waste we make and leave for the rest of the world to take care of?

Sharing the joy..
Traversing two languages which you hold close to your heart, is like treading on a slippery bridge. And a thriller like Anju’s book which talks about child protection, art and a missing man takes a bit more than mere linguistic exercise to be transported into the global tongue. The angst I felt while translating the climax was too difficult to handle for a few days. That is when I realised that translation requires one to stay objective in the approach towards the text, without losing the personal touch with the characters. I walked with Jershid in Anju’s Paint Brush and tried to coax him and his stories into The Unfinished Masterpiece, as much as possible😊😊
I hope much is not lost during these tongue-trips.
Copies are available here
https://notionpress.com/read/the-unfinished-masterpiece
Please do read and let us know your comments.
Congrats again to Anju for bagging this year’s Best Young Woman Writer’s Award instituted by Malayala Puraskara Samithi . Also, for entering India Book of Records 2021 . Thank you for trusting me with this venture😍

Healing powers

The same daily carries two write-ups. One records the news of an eighteen year old boy who was jailed in POCSO case for allegedly raping a seventeen year old girl. He walked out of Tirur Sub Jail after 35 days of incarceration when the DNA test proved false. He said that he was abused by the officer who arrested him and at the police station was also threatened to be pepper sprayed on the genitals. The editorial of The Hindu carries a write up by R K Vij, a senior IPS Officer in Chattisgarh. He says, ‘The police officers must know that their mandate is to protect human rights and not to violate them’. He urges the authorities towards a more humane policing.
Today morning I could not but sit down a bit and think about how we use power daily.
1)Often we interpret power as that to be taken for granted and to be manipulated according to our wish. We consider the granting of power to be a measure to rule over or control.
2)Once in power, we often let our vision clouded by assumptions. Instead of being proactive we tend to be cent percent reactive, which leads to misjudgements and violence.
3)Power is to be used for the well being of ourselves and others. If not, it becomes autocratic. In a democracy power is to be equally shared.
Now, I can see heads nodding. That is because we seldom consider us to be invested with power. We consider only people in certain positions as ‘powerful’. We believe that we are the ‘ordinary people’ and ‘powerless victims’. Before washing off blood from our hands, look within. What about the power we weild as responsible citizens? Are we too autocratic, misjudging and blind? How to do we treat others? An elderly woman who tries to cross the road or get into a bus requires the power within us. Your neighbour who is abused by her husband requires the power invested in you. A bullied child at school, a starving man on the streets, need your power to get up. Will you stand for your colleague who is continuosly victimised for the extra fat she has gained? Where is your voice when your friend is in a lonely situation? Why is it that we are so powerless when it comes to choose to stand with justice or its denial? And the power we wield at homes? Do we let everyone participate in decision – making? Or is one person’s word which runs the household?
Hey, these are trivial matters, na?
No! These are space(s) which require your powerful interventions. What use is power if not to heal?

Book-er

I grew up with books. My Amma bought me more books than toys. Am forever grateful to her for that. I spend money and energy on picking them up from online to offline sites, including second hand book stores. I love people who give away books for free. I willingly offer considerable time to my paper-companions that I often forget to say hello to my two-legged friends and relations. Many of them do owe my sincerest apologies. Sorry, but I have no intention to give up my book-love. I don’t read to make myself scholarly. Sorry, am nowhere near a scholastic life, and I don’t look forward to be one too. I read because I cannot but. Simple. And seven years ago I did resolve that I would read every book I buy. So there is no guilty feeling in hoarding books now. Well, I have been chewing on these bits of thoughts for a couple of days, along with re-arranging my bookshelf. And I find the right write-up popping on my face today. (the link below) I remember reading Unni R’s story sometime back. Am happy that it is coming out in a version which is accessible to children.
To all out there who raise their eyebrows to see book-ers carry a bound spine to the dining table or loo, and those who shake their heads when your reader-neighbour hires a van just to transport cartons of print, we are as possessive of our books as we are about ourselves. Book lovers don’t live outside books, you know. So please make space for us. Next time, you find us buried under a stack of texts, just let us be. The whole world out there and in here is simply textual🤓

https://www.manoramaonline.com/literature/bookreview/2021/08/07/bhootham-book-written-by-unni-r.html

Cycling, Re-cycling

The morning painted three different shades of trees for me. One was blooming yellow, fingers painted red, pointing to the skies. Another one had strewn the roads with yellow petals, as if offering a flower-carpet welcome to all the wayfarers, including the ones who would stomp on the fallen dreams. The third one, had raised its arms up, as if trying to pierce the heavens. Naked it stood, swaying slightly, in the wind.
I found all the three in me. The blooming , the offering and the barren. The blooming days never foresee those nights when people walk away. You let them, shedding your petals, one by one. And finally when they storm out, your arms raise to the unseen powers and await the flowers, all over again. No wonder they say, it is a cycle. Just keep pedalling, folks!! ⏰🚲

On Sara’s
The flood of online and offline reviews were spoilers enough for Sara’s. Yet, I decided to watch the movie as I did not want to miss out Sunny Wayne and Anna Ben playing major roles in a seemingly promising script. Sara’s argues for women’s reproductive rights, the importance of carefully deciding on parenthood and the necessity of getting prepared for the life-long phase, once chosen. It gives enough material to think through the choices we make in life. I agree that a couple should carefully choose and decide when to have a baby, and how many they would love to and are capable enough to bring up. I also believe that young people need to be prepared well before venturing into parenthood, as it requires immense patience and love to nurture human beings. I also agree that they can choose not to have babies, as parenting is not the primary goal of a relationship. All that said, these are a few observations on my part.

  1. I guess a brief note on feminism is necessary here as it is a label which is, as usual , just a passing comment in the movie. The 20th C. Second Wave Feminism, which was largely based on a white-middle class-Western ideology, emphasised on the reproductive rights of women. It was a time when contraceptives and abortion rights were discussed, debated and emphasised in public. Women became more aware of their bodies and their rights over bodies. The Third Wave was more explicit on the same. It was inclusive of women who chose to give birth and believed in not insisting on control of fertility, but rather the necessity to choose. Thus they fought for maternity leave rights, support for single mothers, and also for rights of mothers bringing up special children. After Sara’s , I would encourage the viewers to re-think on rights and responsibilities. As much as a woman has rights over her body to say NO to pregnancy, that much has another to embrace mothering. Sara’s argue for a change in our mind-set to accept women who choose not to become mothers. At the same time we must be mindful of (many a time) the lack of a responsible system to support women who choose to have babies and at the same time strive ahead in their career. We know mothers who have sacrificed their health so as to maintain a balance between work and home. Instead of blaming them, criticise the lack of support systems which does not offer provisions for mothers to go to work with clear minds and lively spirits. Many times a mother is forced to toil from day to dusk in the kitchen and her workspace, with little space to stretch her legs. And many women are forced to quit their jobs.
  2. I believe that the decision to have/not to have babies is not to be made on any emotional outbursts. The young man is quite frustrated with baby-sitting his sister’s children, and on the spur of the moment decides not to have a child after marriage. Such an emotional decision will waver after a couple of years for sure. And there is no point in blaming him here. Sara is ambitious and she has an aim. Her decision stands strong because she wants to leave her name for the posterity to remember in her art, as she mentions. But the husband, apart from his bitter-sweet experiences at taking caring of two children for a month, is more fearful than being less convinced about his prospective parenting abilities. Or in other words, the movie doesn’t address the husband’s changing attitude towards parenting, and its reason. And Sara cannot really point her finger at him for the same, as she is equally incapable of convincing him otherwise.
  3. I guess one of serious flaws in the movie is the portrayal of the couple who have decided on not having children. Sara’s aversion to children is shown explicitly on screen. Jeevan’s impatience with the young ones also stands out. I don’t think all couples who decide on not having children behave irresponsibly when other children are around. In my experience, they are open to receiving children at their homes and like to play with them. Their decision is not to have children of themselves, and not to remain child-haters. I guess a movie which claims to break stereotypes, makes a serious stereotypical reinforcement.
  4. Choices and decisions are not stagnant. Those might change and require revision over the years. The partners must be open to discussing and revising their options, as and when time rolls by. It is always in giving and taking respect that any relationship survives. On matters of differences of opinion the partners should sit down and discuss , before venturing to a counsellor. Such a scene is amiss in the movie, and it seems the doctor barges in and makes the decision for them.

Hope these are not more spoilers for those who have not watched the movie yet. The question remains if the script would have been better if the other characters were also equally round and developing as Sara’s. This is not a write up for/against Sara’s. I appreciate the work behind the screen. But at the same time, the ends remain loose in many places and might even unthread the tapestry woven. I strongly support people who have adopted children, especially single women, and who raise them with immeasurable love. I respect people who have carefully decided not to marry at all, but contribute significantly to the world in many ways. I respect men and women who want children. I equally respect men and women who do not want to raise babies. I respect transpersons who love children to the core. I appreciate mothers who chose to give birth and have included their family in their career-growth.I do understand the pain of childless couple who have been yearning for a baby for years together. I also admire those who over the years have accepted that they won’t have children for themselves and have embraced life. I respect those who have to take firm decision alone over their body rights. I respect humanity which is based on kindness, and makes right choices and take right decisions. I conclude by re-iterating that people come in all shades, and so do choices and decisions.

Re-climbing Bethany roads…
I hadn’t pre-planned a walk up the hill yesterday. But the cloudy sky brought back school-memories, and I let my heart overtake. Those June days, when we sat inside the classrooms half-listening to the rains outside and half-listening to the teachers; those days when we played pranks upon one another (phew, I remember picking paper bits to small pencils from my curly bunch of hair during break time), and always laughed, especially at ourselves; those days when a samosa was equally divided among five; those basketball days when we shouted ‘ East/West, Girideepam is the best!’; our dear teachers who balanced discipline and love on a single rod; those assembly lines which even under scorching sun, we braved; those youth festival days where Pallavas, Mauryas, Guptas and Cholas showed their best and won numerous accolades; those days when each task was met with a fervour which surpassed the mettle of mountain climbers; those autograph books, photos and tour memories which stay green and fresh during dark days of the present.
The campus has been re-structured and made anew. It looks different from what it was in the 90’s. I walk straight to the KG section. I close my eyes and savour the wind on my cheeks. Fourteen years in one school. That is a gift unparalleled!

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Those human-scented flowers…

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Without and without bindhis...

An 18-year-old girl who was left on the streets with her 6-month-old baby after being abandoned by her husband and family has become sub inspector at Varkala police station here. A true model of will power and confidence, Kanjiramkulam native Anie Siva built her life within 14 years”.

https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/good-news/18-yr-old-abandoned-with-baby-becomes-si-of-varkala-after-14-years-1.5784468?fbclid=IwAR1p3lIN_AHC_d0LO4_Su5eOS2jR6nBc01R9VLypIs2_D4Ml1omwuBsvir8

She could have given up easily, but chose not to. This lady officer’s story should not go unnoticed. Thrown on the streets with a baby in her arms, Anie realized that giving up was not an option when life beckoned. Selling essential items door to door, helping vendors at festivals and finding time to complete her education and supporting herself and her baby, she reached where she is today. Hats off to Anie Siva who braved the insults and proved to the world in fourteen years that dreams and action help one stride many miles without a pause. With and without a bindhi, women’s stories continues !👏🏼👏🏼

To the most Literate State

Vismaya V Nair, a 24-year-old woman, was found dead on Monday morning at the house of her husband’s family in Sasthamnada near Sasthamkotta in Kollam district. Her death came two days after she sent messages to her cousin telling him that her husband had brutally beaten her many times over a car that was given as part of her dowry. Vismaya, a final year Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery student, got married to S Kiran Kumar, an official at the Motor Vehicle Department, in March 2020. (https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/young-kerala-woman-found-dead-days-after-sharing-pics-injuries-abusive-husband-151023)

The Wife (2017), directed by Bjorn L Runge, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, talks about the kind of ‘soft abuse’ faced by many wives. What made me think twice was that for the wife there was always a way out, which she chose not to. She chose not to expose her husband who was slaving her intellectually, and reaping the harvest, including the Nobel. Of course, I find the ambivalence surrounding the relationship between the husband and wife is enigmatic even towards the end of the movie. But ‘love’ turns out to be almost always blind till the last breath. I was irritated not because the soft abuse had happened, but because it happened in a marital life shared by two people who are educated and well-read. That was alarming, and more shameful!

Vismaya was a final year medical student and her husband works with the Government. Both are well educated people from the land of literacy, Kerala. The State is the most literate in the country, according to NSO Survey. Just a minute! What good does education do for our girls and boys today? Do they know how to share space(s) inside a school, college, shop, train, bus, and let alone a house? Do we teach them Physics, Chemistry, English , Malayalam, Hindi, History and Botany to abuse each other physically and verbally, inflict wounds on themselves and leave not a single mark for history to look back and learn from? And what about the parents? Where are we pushing our children to? Moon? Mars!? If a parent feels irresponsible enough to pack off a daughter in kilos of gold, elder siblings feel like pacifying their younger sister and hushing her pains using the Malayali cliche “Potte mole..saaram illa..ingane okkeya..”, our State will see an increase in the number of victims, rather than survivors who receive justice, let alone a complete annihilation of victimization. This is a plea to the system of education in the most literate state in India. Please teach our children to respect and love each other. Please teach them that violence is not the way to win over a crisis. Please teach them that money is not the measuring rod for any successful relationship. Please teach them that a peaceful life is more valuable that a six figure salary or a BMW car. Please teach them that it is illegal to exchange humans for gold. Please teach them that marriage is not mandatory, and is a choice. Please tell them that the choice must be made carefully, not to please the parents or the society, but to live together in harmony. Teach them that it is painful to die everyday inch by inch, and that there is always a choice to walk out of abuse. Please teach them that mistakes can be corrected, and there is life ahead, even after a fall. Please teach them more Life and less Alphabet and Numbers.

Vismaya is one of the many women in our land who have burnt in shame. There are many wives out there who deal with soft and hard abuse in marriage. Some for two years, some ten years, some for thirty and some even until the day they breathe their last. Silence in the face of abuse is not the way out. Abuse is violence. Justice is the containment of violence. How do we stop abuse? We stop it right where it starts, right at homes. Nip it in the bud. Let us live and let live.

Semiya Upma : Recollections

I tasted semiya upma for the first time, when I was a second year
M A English student at Baselius College, almost thirteen years ago. My tongue savoured every bit of it, and my greedy belly wanted more. So for a second time, bunking a session on Aristotle’s Poetics, I ran to Viji Varghese Eapen and Susan George ‘s home, one evening.😁 They were staying at Chalukunnu then. Yes, it was through Kochamma that I was introduced to her special semiya upma, flavoured with love and laughter. ❣ Heart and stomach full, I returned home. The next day I was summoned by the teacher who took the hour. I sheepishly lowered my eyes to the ground and apologized. I remember the entire episode each time I make semiya upma😅 It never tastes like Susan Kochamma’s. But with each thread of it I catch a whiff of those good old days! 🥰🍂

Cathartic Bottling!

Eight years old, I was sent to a drawing class at Kasturbai Social Welfare Centre, Kanjikuzhy, during summer vacation. To be honest, I did not appreciate it much. But, I went for my mother’s sake. Well in 2020, for my daughter’s sake, I poured a few colours over chart paper and bottles. She, like any other preschooler, loves to play with colours. I found out that I can keep her still for an hour or so, when there are different shades of bottles and a few brushes, on the floor. Almost a year ago, I painted a bottle and a few broken egg shells to the delight of my then three year old daughter. Over the months, I could feel colours wash all over me. I am not an artist. Painting ‘beautifully’ is not my cup of tea, but painting is equal to a cup of tea, these days. The cathartic effect cannot be dodged. Yesterday, I sat with my daughter who is more colour-conscious than I am, to paint a bottle so as to house a money plant. It was drizzling slightly outside. The breeze gently kissed our foreheads. The money-plants breathed life into the emptiness of bottles. I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of the scene. To all out there, trying to fill in these locked-down days with extra creative hours, cheers!

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When the storm rages…

I started scribbling on my blog (nmjs.in titled Mizhi) at the onset of Covid 19. It was never meant to be a daily affair. I wrote now and then whenever a random thought struck me. Writing is healing for me. And I was finding my medicine. Never did I anticipate that a year later I will be looking within and re-checking with myself, if I should maintain the site for another year. I spent a few moments yesterday contemplating on the different turns life took in 2020., for myself, for my friends, family and the world at large. The hot air rushed in through the window, slightly ruffling the curtains. The chimes did not jingle at all. I sat frozen after I received the sad news that a dear little one in our family had succumbed to Covid. I must admit that I felt many emotions seeping in- anger, pity, sorrow, apathy. Through all the sicknesses and surge in the number of deaths across our land, with masks on our faces, sanitizer in one hand, gloves on our palms, drinking warm water, gargling salt water, inhaling turmeric steam, safe social distancing, vaccination drive, exercises, healthy lifestyle and what not! we are still wading in the pandemic waters. 2020 seems not to be the only year, as many of us had expected; but it was just a spark which ignited a forest fire, which no one knows will recede when!

If there was one thing which I have never stopped doing all over the years it is reading. Through wind, sun and rain, I keep my eyes glued to the printed words. After a few teary minutes, I hauled myself to my book shelf and pulled out a couple of books. I read those one after the other, for an hour. Though a few sentences unfriended me, many of those did embrace me warmly. I would like to share a few of those lines here:

Reconciliation with the body can take many forms; it is not necessarily evasive or rationalistic to say that healing may also be about reconciliation with or in a body that is not going to ‘get better’ physically in the straightforward sense. There are reconciliations and liberations that will happen within a situation which, physically, may not change much- which is what so many learn through ministry with the terminally ill, or with those who live with long-standing, continuing disabilities. We know that there maybe a healing in such circumstances that has to do with a new capacity to inhabit the body, a freedom within a body which maybe dying, mortal, limited, afflicted, in all kinds of ways. .. Because we have intelligence and love and imagination, our living in our environment is an evolving story, not just a given fact. (Rowan Williams)

…the day the desert tree blossoms/is the feasting day for the fowls of the air/ The evil fowls and the good fowls/The owner of the earth covers them in his cloth/promised them/when he holds the promise/Thirst shall not kill them/so the world changes/rain comes after the drought/the yam festival after the sewing time./ Do not lose heart,/have arms, we have shields ( Kofi Awoonor)

At night I received a text message from the grieving father- My angel is in the safest abode.

Then I knew, no matter what, Life has won, and will! Trust, hope, love. These are the impossible, but the necessities of the hour.

Skydiving in Faith

Mathews George

Mizhi

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