Monday, November 16, 2015

Terrorism and Hope for Peace

I am writing this as a concerned mother of two. In the aftermath of Paris attack, the immediate thought haunting my mind; is this is the world we are making for our kids? The attack brought into attention Beirut, Baghdad, Syria and other countries reeling with the Terror effect. I am ashamed to admit that when I read the news of any terrorist activities in Arab countries, I hardly try to get in the details of the news dismissing this as a part of their daily struggle. Things changed after this Friday the 13th as the terrorism, ISIS related news and articles formed the huge chunk of my news feed and a larger part of discourse as well. It made me sit and take notice and delve deeper into the subject. As I was reading about Syria crisis, (though Arab Spring was a part of assignment I did together with my students of Mass Comm way back in 2011) I was shattered by the images of refugees, almost 50% of whom are kids. Kids, the future and hope of a better and improved world are left without any family members and friends alive, they are forced to live a homeless, education less orphaned life. I looked at my children and shuddered at the thought of having them to live such a life, if something happens to us and this is not an unfathomable reality considering what the world is going through at the moment. Any zealous fanatic in the name of religion, God whatsoever can do that. 
France and Syria might be on the opposite end of a spectrum in terms of the countries they are but the tragedies incurred are the same in terms of innocent lives lost. In between, there may be issues like Oil, Ammunition, Propaganda and Religious Extremism involved but the bitter question is how will that family less, homeless child be able to get its innocent, carefree childhood back? 
As I go through the daily rituals of taking care of my kids-sending them to school, preparing hot meals for them and safely tucking them into the security and warmth of their own beds, I think of those children faraway, did they get something to eat? Are they sleeping well? What is the hope for them to live? I don't have the answers and I am scared about the future of my kids and all the children worldwide. Is this the hope and vision of the world we want to build for them? 
The basic premise of 'all of us are born equal' that I try to teach them perhaps exists in my Utopian world. The discrimination of the people based on gender, color, race, religion and caste may be far fetched reality for them now but sooner or later they may experience it and the idea of an ideal world would shatter into million pieces. Do I want them to grow up in the global environment of violence, hatred and 'eye for an eye' attitude. We, as the citizens of this world share a collective responsibility to make it a beautiful place for our children. We are sailing in the same boat. Can't we give peace a chance for the sake of our future generation or is it too much to ask for?

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being a Mother

We all play various roles in our lifetime bearing different shades of emotions but the most crucial, difficult and demanding role in the life of a woman starts when she becomes a mother. In fact, the life of a woman can clearly be divided into two parts-pre-motherhood and post motherhood era. And, no girl in the pre-motherhood era can envisage what is in store for her on the other side because as every child is different and so is every mother. She can learn from the examples but the reality hits when she enters the battlefield or in this case she decides to be a mother. 
There are numerous physical and psychological changes which starts taking place as soon as a woman becomes pregnant. Though she is showered with all the affection and care during the pregnancy phase but when the baby enters the world, the needs and desires of the woman take a backseat while baby's needs take precedence. Basic functions like showering and eating have to be readjusted to match with baby's nap time. The social circle is restricted to other parents and baby's doctor. In totality, the baby starts to run the show and parents especially mother is just a player at the mercy of mighty director. The babies don't come with a rule book and every mother goes through waves of self doubts whether she is doing the job properly or not. There is a lot of learning involved along the way which is free by the way!
First and foremost thing that any mother learns with the child is patience and self control. A great deal of patience is required when after trying for two hours the baby still doesn't want to sleep. Lots of self control is needed when a three year old insists on buying a toy in the supermarket and on being declined, starts crying nonstop lying on the floor, when a four year old doesn't like the meal, mother has cooked so painstakingly. Overall, a lot of self control and patience is required to deal with kids in day to day situations.
Expected the unexpected-this is another important lesson of parenting. Things will never go as prepared and according to the set plan. All the vacation planning may backfire when a child falls sick or you may get late for a movie or dinner when the kid wants a toilet break as you are about to leave the house. In short, do your best but be prepared for the worst.
Listening also becomes very crucial when the child starts to speak. There are infinite number of questions which mother has to answer on a daily basis. Right from, why does water make us wet and why do I have a baby brother to why is Shahrukh Khan's tummy different from my tummy (six pack abs!), there is no end to the stream of questions and every question is damn important and critical for the little inquisitive mind. The mother not only has to listen to each question carefully but also give an answer to satisfy the kid's curiosity. For instance, I remember watching a movie with my first one and he asks me where are the hero’s mommy and daddy. I said, they don’t live with him. He asks me, why? I said, ‘as anyone grows up, he/she has to leave the parents house to go for college or work. You will also leave us one day’. On hearing this, my son started crying that he will never leave his Mommy. He will always stay together with me. I felt sudden surge of emotions hearing his words.
Kids bring a lot of fresh energy and different perspective in our lives as well. Though with them each and every moment is an experience in itself; from the first toothless smile , first baby steps to first words and then later on those full blown arguments but some moments are really special. Its really touching when he waits for his father to come home to have dinner with him howsoever late it may be. His random acts of kindness and sharing towards his classmates and strangers alike fill me with complete joy and pride.
With my younger one, there are no specific moment as such because he is just fifteen months but his birth will always be cherished in my heart. He was born in South Korea faraway from family and friends. When you are in your own country you have all the support and you know everything so things become lot easier. It is when you are away from the support system, living on your own then you realize your true potential. This is what happened when our second one was born. With no one from the family around us, we struggled and learned along the way. In that sense, my boy is absolutely cool, calm and collected not giving us much trouble since he was born. 
Going through all these experiences everyday without fail, a mother becomes a great manager, perfect negotiator, good policy maker and an effective communicator. Yes, motherhood is no easy job and bosses are difficult at time but they give loveliest of hugs and kisses which makes the job worthwhile.

Gujarati version of this article appears on