Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Amma - Mon Ami.

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.
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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!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Guest Post Contributed by Anju Gandhi of 'Awakening'
Thanks for sharing Anju Gandhi

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
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