I can’t think of starting the new year without your best wishes.
My heartfelt wishes for you on this new year.
God bless you all.
And this is what I have been doing the year through.
My new release book Grow Up Messy is showered with love from readers and critics alike. Especial mention here would be for Ahana, my youngest reader so far. She disliked my cover instantly saying its very childish (Considering herself quite grown up for a ten year old) but loved the adventures Misry went through in the book. Although the character Misry is a naughty five year old yet her thoughts are more of a ten year old child. Hence the book is targeted for the middle grade and young adults. The book was loved by the parents and kids alike.
Watched Poorna, a film by Rahul Bose with the kids of my kids club. They had a fantastic time in the Inox theater with popcorn cold drinks and a very inspiring story of Poorna, an underprivileged girl who became the youngest girl to scale the mount Everest.
A family reunion time. Had been to a wedding at my hometown and was nostalgic as always. Memories freshened up visiting all the old folks and cousins. How can one stay away from family for sooo long I still wonder? Family is the pillar of strength for many of us yet work keep us moving to new places. Sigh!
A short trip to Sunderban was a big surprise packet. Sunderban trip was a very different experience. Chilly winds in the morning didn’t stop us from traveling in a mid-sized trawler boat in the cold water of the Sunderban delta that comprises of confluence of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river right before the Bay of Bengal sea. The mangroves which is the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tigers were the biggest attraction for us. Throughout the time we were on the boat our eyes were on the lookout for the King of this land. However, we were not that fortunate. We spent the entire day on the cruise eating lavish food like crabs, prawns and other sea fish prepared in the boat itself. Bengalis need nothing more in life after that.
PS I still have to document my trip on my YouTube and blog. Sigh!
Valentine Day gave me a new surprise. No not my husband. But my son and his pranks. The Day of Love celebrated in a different way. You can read it here.
With school holidays set in I didn’t have time for myself anymore. My life and time devoted to the kid’s demand. What a hectic month it had been. With almost all his friends taking examinations D had nobody but me to give him company. I literally had to hunt play mates for him. Finally got him enrolled in badminton classes. And I was stuck with his schedule. While waiting for his training class to be over I made couple of new friends and discovered many new things this small city offered. Especially trips to Malviya Road increased and window shopping turned out to be our favorite pastime. Learning new recipes and bitching about other girlfriends turned out to be another favorite timepass we women loved to indulge in.
Had been part of writing festival organized by Blogchatter. It was three months of interaction online interaction with aspiring writers and bloggers through twitter chat and facebook live. Here is one of my articles on How to write your first novel.
With the temperature raising every single day the thoughts never got a chance to evolve in the mind. I started with the other stories of the Jungle Series besides The Clockmaker. For some reason this series was taking forever to be published. Initially I had ten short story collection and that’s how I promoted my upcoming book. I approached the publishing houses. But nobody was interested to pick up short stories collection from a not so well known author like me. So I indulged myself in redrafting my stories into a full fledged novel. And it took me another six to eight months to actually finish it.
Again a busy month with the kids. My Kids Club had Summer Camp and the days were pretty adventurous. We had a visit to the Post Office, Space Mission, best out of waste and even had a lemonade stall in the busy market place run by the kids. It had been a freaky month with temperature outside reaching 46 degrees centigrade and inside almost touching 50 degrees centigrade with the kids laughter.
A few things in life has changed me completely and Aakaar, an initiative by the sanskriti department in my part of world is one of them. I got the privileged of learning Madhubani Art from the renowned artist Shrimati Shanti Devi, who has represented India in my countries regarding this Indian art form. I am in the kindergarten again and playing with brush after almost thirty years and its like homecoming for me. As a guru she passed on her passion to all of us however we could absorb just a tinge of it. We are all praise for her and her passion for bringing her imagination on the canvas. She says every art has a story. Madhubani or Mithila art was started by Raja Janak to document his daughter Sita’s wedding on the canvas and later the Ramayana. It is a rural art form and was hidden from the world all those years until Bihar was struck with massive earthquake and the paintings were revealed. Keeping up the tradition alive is this acclaimed artist whose wall art has been incorporated on the national museum Delhi. However, it is really painful to see an artist of this caliber being deprived of the samman, respect, which she deserves. She has been part of the project for the last ten years yet few students know her name or even bother to know more about her as an artist. Being a rural woman she doesn’t know internet and hence is not aware of promoting her work on online platforms. She also shared that folk artists are not treated well within the country whereas outside India, people really appreciate their work and give the due respect. I have been offline for a almost twenty days now and she had transferred me to a magical world. A world of gobar handmade canvas over which one takes the flight of imagination and imprints the lines with brush and colorful pallets. Sharing some of her renowned work.
With the arrival of the monsoons we had a short summer retreat to Kanha National Park to meet the Royal Bengal Tiger. We were unfortunate again. We didn’t get a glimpse of the tiger. However, we learned a lot of things about the area. Kanha is situated in Madhya Pradesh and is one of the first Tiger projects in the country started here in 1974.
Full fledged preparations for Durga Puja celebrations. For the first
time I was directing a Bengali Natak, Sashi Babur Biyer Swopno, (Shashi Babu’s wedding dreams) written by me.
I didn’t know it would turn up like this on this day. Today is Border Security Force (BSF) raising day. I am a BSF child. Even my book Grow Up Messy! is the story of a BSF child- growing up with daddy not around. It is something very common in the families of the uniform men in all the spheres. They are missed on many occasions by the family. But sometimes they are just gone forever without even sharing their last message. Leaving behind so many things unsaid.
This poem is dedicated to all the women whose men could not make homewards.
The years gone by never comes back but the memories and passion never fade away. Why let you passion die when you still have time? Take some time out and think. Was this really you always wanted to do or your heart sings a different tune?
Go follow your passion for the time is running out.
When falling in love is a crime….
It’s not easy. Trust me. It’s not. I have seen myself how much difficult it is for them to face the society again. I am talking about breast cancer survivors.
When my Ma was diagnosed with it, for us it was like half the battle lost. We were a family of four, I was too young then even to realize how difficult it would be for my family. But the reports stood bare staring back at us as if it were our fault.
Our fault?? Yeah, sort of. My Ma had observed the lump in her left breast when it was very small. She watched it grow and never disclosed her little secret to anyone in the family. For, two long years she inched towards her death everyday happily serving us and keeping us happy. Definitely, she must have cried alone when no one watched her and that I suppose would have been very often because all her children had left home to seek a career in other cities. So she had ample time to brood over her health and no one to confide to. That was the biggest mistake we did as children. We took our parents for granted. We never took out time from our busy schedule to make her confide in us. It was always she following upon us as we lived a distance apart physically.
Those were the days when we queued up in front of the telephone booths on Sundays to call up our folks back at home. Even visits to home were more of a celebration in the honor of our homecoming rather than discussing health issues with Ma. Days would pass by just meeting relatives and friends who would come down to meet us. And soon it would be time to return back. So yes the fault was ours.
Ma never had that courage to share her nightmare with us. She had watched her younger sister lose the battle to cancer. So maybe inside she was preparing herself for the worst and praying all the happiness for us in the meantime. That’s how mothers are and shall always be. For them, the family always comes first. But they forget that they are the pillars of the family that holds the walls of the home together.
So coming back to where I had started. Ma’s treatment started. She was operated in one of the renowned medical institutes of India and her left breast was removed. That changed her life forever. She went into hiding completely. She would spend hours sitting alone in the balcony looking down at the street crowd from our Lajpat Nagar flat. She despised meeting anyone, even the family members. Maybe inside she felt she was not the same person anymore. Her mastectomy had shattered her self-confidence completely.
In our country, physical attributes matter a lot, no matter how old you are. If you are beautiful people will love you if you are not they will find reasons to avoid you or mock at you. And mastectomy did exactly that to my Ma. She felt she had lost her identity as a woman and it was killing her inside.
I had seen how the ladies in the hospital ward react after mastectomy. Maybe they all went through the same trauma. But we didn’t know how to react to Ma’s behavior. We had no practical knowledge of actually handling patients leave alone understanding their emotional lows. What mattered, at that moment for us, was that she was alive and still breathing. And that was all we cared for. We never thought she might be in need of a counselor or someone who had undergone the same trauma like her to understand her emotions at that time. We did everything to keep her happy and smiling but we couldn’t connect to that chord which her heart wanted to hear.
We lost her after two years of fight minus the emotions she always sought. And all these thirteen years I had never realized that until today.
I realized it today when I went to attend an event for breast cancer awareness and support, Raipur Pink Marathon.
I got an invite for the event a few days back and I was very determined to attend it. I asked all my female friends out and two showed interest to come along. One of them happened to be breast cancer fighter. I have known her for a couple of months.
A very lively lady about my age, very focused upon her health and all. She practices yoga every morning and went for long walks in the evening. She inspired me to walk in the evenings. Soon after knowing her, I came to know that she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, of course from other sources. She never hinted anything about it and I never asked her too. We simply joined other ladies in the long evening walks and talked about MILs and other topics females always loved to talk about.
So here she was with me in the event supporting Breast cancer awareness support initiated by Raipur Pink Marathon at 6:00 am in the morning. We had assembled in a park along with several other people. The hostess initiated the program with yoga followed by two kilometers run. We were pretty happy to participate in the event. It basically focused on women health and exercise to keep fit which Indian women needed to do desperately. Till now we ladies were giggling and enjoying ourselves. It was our morning out without any baggage. Otherwise, we usually met with our kids along.
After the event, our host introduced my friend to a few more members of her team who were breast cancer survivors and fighters. Some of them were too young. My friend greeted the girls with moist eyes and after they left spoke almost in a whisper, “And I thought I was too young for it.”
My friend had been playing brave all these months but her guards were down when she met someone even younger than her who was fighting the same battle as her. And for some reason, my friend felt positive that she wasn’t alone anymore. There was a big support group waiting for her where she could discuss things she was going through without any inhibitions something which she apparently could not discuss with us.
That one line took me back to my past, thirteen years back, to my Ma. I haven’t realized till then that just meeting someone could ease your wound so much. I wish I had taken Ma to such support groups where she would have felt better while fighting the disease alone.
As they say. If you want to empathize you need to get into their shoes. Sympathises doesn’t always work. I appreciate the efforts of such programs that helps women come together for a cause and fight at it together.
I know this article is coming very late. It should have been delivered a few months back. However, my anger has not subsided yet.
I wanted to write about it especially when #internationalwomensday is being celebrated all over the world. You will agree with me that it is always the mother who shapes up the thoughts and action of a child. The first lesson a child gets is from his/her mother. She might teach her child by telling stories, assigning them duties, punishing them, helping them , mentoring them. So throughout our life at any one point of time we do remember her teachings and thank her for that. That’s the role mother play in our lives.
So I consider myself fortunate that my Ma taught me to be independent in thoughts, choice, opinions, finance, decisions just about everything I can think of at this moment. She had never questioned my abilities of decision making and taking its responsibility too. I might be correct or I might be wrong. But whatever the result, I know it’s mine and Ma had always been proud of me.
However, I have come across many girls and women who are not fortunate like me. They are dependent. Dependent on their folk be it father, husband, brother, friend or just about anybody else who influence their life in their thoughts, choice, opinions, finance, decisions just about everything I can think of at this moment. So it won’t come as a surprise to me if this article that I am writing after really getting furious, thoughtful and compassionate, won’t ever reach the people for whom I am writing this. Probably because they don’t use internet, they don’t read blogs, they don’t discuss topics like this or maybe it is not important for them at all.
Imagine a scenario. A girl in her teens getting ready to go out with her female friend. Maybe to tuition classes, birthday party, mall or just about anywhere where SHE IS ALLOWED TO GO AT THAT TIME OF THE DAY. Her mother’s words would be one of these, where are you going, this is not appropriate dressing, with whom are you going, come home in time. This I think every mother does to her daughter and there is nothing bad about it. For the sons the question set will be a little different or none at all. Anyways I won’t doubt a mother’s advice or questions to her child.
My article relates to a different scenario. A daughter experiencing her first menstruation cycle or maybe it is one of her best friend who is experiencing it for the first time. This is definitely a topic of discussion among the teenagers. It could be frightening sometimes like – I was leaking in the classroom or I stained my bed or I am not feeling well. For a girl who is new to this or hasn’t still gone through this phase yet is sure to have nightmares. I had too.
One of my classmate was married off suddenly. Well not really. It was a ritual which they were celebrating when the daughter bleeds for the first time. The ritual is almost like a marriage ceremony when all the relatives and friends are invited and bring gifts for the girl. The girl is dressed like a bride minus there is no bridegroom. She is confined to her room all the days of her first bleeding and none of the male member including her father is allowed to see her.
We were too young to understand all this and believed she was married off until she returned to the school after few days, a little embarrassed. She didn’t hide anything from us but what we understood from her tale was terrifying, for me at least. And then one day it happened to me. I started crying thinking something was wrong with me. As a dutiful mother my Ma answered, ”It’s okay! You are an woman now. ” Between the sobs I did ask her “Then what was I before?” She said, “You will understand when you grow up. Period.” That was her way of educating me about the most important phenomenon of my life . I don’t blame her because she too had learned the same way, when she grew up.
Like her there are lots of mothers who may have given more or less similar answers to their daughter’s query. I have come across women who are pretty confused as in how to address their teenage children regarding sex education. But why should I only bracket mothers here, it should be parents as a whole. Most of the parents shy off or shoo off or divert the questions of their teenage children regarding sex education. They leave it to the mercy of school or text books to educate their child regarding this topic or maybe in the hands of time.
In most school syllabus, Biology subject has chapters with elaborate understanding of human organs and its function. There is chapter on human genital parts and its function too. However, this chapter is mostly skipped in the classroom discussion due to our mental inhibition maybe. We are just not comfortable discussing it in the open. However, that does not stop the curiosity. In the absence of proper education these teenagers now either turn to internet or friends which unleashes a different zone all together. The world of half knowledge or fun and pleasure. So the most important education in a child’s life that is sex education is not taught at all but left at the hands of life’s experience or half knowledge.
From here I will go back to the girls. Those girls who are not allowed to make a choice. Turn eighteen they are pushed off to marriage. Mind it they have no knowledge of the most important education of their life and they are about to start a new chapter in their life. Here comes the Ma ki seekh again, mother’s teachings. “Be good to your mother-in-law, respect all the elders and give affection to all the young ones in your sasural, in-laws place, your man is everything to you now, always keep him happy. Don’t ever, do anything in your sasural that will bring bad name to your parental home.” Finally the innocent, young, sanskari, virtue, girl is off to her sasural amid vidai, a tearful journey of leaving her parental home.
So now what. Does she know anything about contraceptives or how to use it? How can she, she had never asked anyone before nor had anybody told her about it. Neither can she ever question her husband who himself may be in the same bandwagon as her. He is sankari too you see. So being a good wife she conceives within a month or two. Great celebration time! In our part of the world the next nine months people will ecstatically wait for the newborn to be a boy. What if it is not? That is a separate section altogether. So our good girl who is not even twenty years of age mothers her first child. And just like her mother, she will rephrase the lines to raise her child.
This scenario is not confined to the people of lower strata only. Educated from well to do families also have cases like this. But what if she was given sex education and all the information relating to it. She could have had a choice of actually parenting a baby according to her comfort level. At least a girl should be given this choice whether she wants to be a mother now or later because not just physically she has to prepare herself mentally also to raise a healthy baby. At least she should have a right to it.
But who will educate her of her right to motherhood or her choice. Her mother who had been her driving force behind all her thoughts? Her friends with whom she had shared so many secrets? Her teacher?
Sex education is also any child’s right and I feel it is first a mother’s duty to educate her growing child. Now how she can teach? She has to be bold enough to answer all the question her child might think of pertaining to that subject. If need be she should direct her child towards the right source from where the child can get complete knowledge about the subject. It should not be a taboo. It is a RIGHT
I have a kids book reading club and most of the time I have the parents asking me this question time and again, ” How to make the child interested in reading books?” So I have written this article for them which I am sure can help.
Two decades back it was an easy sight to watch a child with story books in hand. We have grown up reading Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton and Mills & Boons. Reading books had been part of our lives and there was so much we imagined when reading these books. Right from fairy tales, to magical world to adventure stories of the sea, books had given us a big world of imagination. The characters stood alive in front of our eyes taking us to a new adventure along. Our summer vacation always started with a to-be-read list of books. Comics like Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Choudhary, Tintin, Phantom were a big favorite of children at that time. Even the adults indulged in story telling sessions. I remember my childhood when all the children of the colony would assemble in my granny’s room in the evenings to listen to her stories. She would narrate tales of mythologies, folklore and fairy tales and all of us would just listen to her mesmerized.
Things have changed today. Granny’s storytelling sessions are now replaced by games on iPad or smart phones, books have been replaced by YouTube and TV channels and our living rooms, which decades back used to be the meeting place of all the family members in the evenings has now been replaced by smart televisions that have two screens running with two different channels at the same time. Whatsapp and Facebook updates have replaced our family discussions. It’s only the TV or apps on Smartphones that do the speaking in the living room now while the family members are mute spectators only.
Children don’t read books nowadays because they have never seen an adult reading a book. I remember my parents always with a novel in their hand most of the time when at home. Whenever they got a time out of their work they would love to indulge in reading books, magazines or newspaper. So as a child, I was familiar with the presence of books at home. Right from spiritual to Epics to thrillers and dramas, the collection of books, by my parents was huge. However, if we talk about today, most of the parents don’t read books at home. They read emails, whats app messages or Facebook updates most of the time. So a child easily becomes familiar with these instead.
So it is us, the parents, the adults at home, whom the child watches and behaves accordingly. If you want your child to love reading books then you got to love it first. You can easily start this by choosing a reading den in your house. Remember, how your daddy loved to spend long evening hours sitting in the easy chair in the corner of the drawing room reading his favorite author. Find out a similar corner for yourself in your home. Here are few things you need to make yourself comfortable there. A chair to sit comfortably, reading lights and a book shelf where you can keep your favorite author’s book. Once you are ready, sit with your favorite beverage and make yourself comfortable with a book in your hand. The first day, the second day, the third day I bet your child will follow you there with his favorite story book.
Kids are like the wet cement. Whatever you imprint on their mind will remain with them forever. Your work does not end here. Once you find your child has shown interest in reading books you have to make his books accessible to him everywhere in the house. The reason because children are restless and they won’t spend more than few minutes in one place, unlike the adults. So make a similar den for them in those areas where they access more like the living room, balcony, their room, dining area or play room. Unlike adults they don’t need much, just the bookcase, couch or rugs with few throw pillows on the floor are more than enough for them.
They will shift their positions many times while reading so they need space. One thing that you must always take care of is the reading light. Whichever place your child choose to sit and read should have adequate reading light otherwise it may affect the eyes. A bookcase near the child’s bed is always a good idea. You can always read him out a story before putting him to sleep. This will help him develop the habit of the reading book before going to sleep. As a parent, you have to ensure a good supply of books for your child. If the bookshelves don’t have new books the reading habit may suffer. You can do that by taking your child to bookstores once a month, or book fairs or you can even sign up with some children book clubs online. There are several Book Clubs online nowadays. Choose one which is nearby your area and join in the physical meetups. This will help increase interaction among the like-minded souls and the children will develop an interest in books in a better way.
Today ebooks are the trend in the market. When the world is digitized so are the books. With free reading apps, it is very easy to read books on iPad or Smartphone or any other gazettes. Moreover, it is easier to make children read ebooks as they are already gazette freak. Ebooks ease the need of stacking physical books. You can carry thousands of books at a time with the ebook readers like kindle, kobo, nook. Audiobooks are also in trend these days wherein a book is in audio format and the reader is a listener. This is especially useful for those kids who are unable to read on their own. By listening to the narration they can enjoy the book. It also enhances their listening skills.
Below is the list of few Indian writing paperbacks and ebooks that can be an interesting read for your child.
- Grow Up Messy! by Paromita Goswami ( Ages 10+)
- Malgudi daysby R. K Narayan (Ages 10+)
- The Rusty Series by Ruskin Bond (Ages 10+)
- The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, (Ages 8+)
- His share of sky by Rashmi Narzary (Ages 10+)
- Amar Chitra Katha is all time favorite of the kids and can also teach them mythology, Indian history, and moral stories.
- Bookasura #2: Koobandhee by Arundhati Venkatesh (Ages 3+)
- Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon (Ages 11+)
- Famous Five by Enid Blyton (Ages 11+)
- Nancy Drew by Carolyne Keene (Ages 11+)
All these books are available on Amazon.in.
There was a time when I use to do micro poetry. But over the years many things have changed. Tomorrow is Bengali New Year’s Day and on the occasion a small event is being conducted by our community. Each one of us have been asked to say few words from their old diary. This is mine which is dated 20.3.1998 in the page of my diary.
I have never before typed in Hindi. I am pretty familiar with the language but with pen and paper. This is my first attempt on computer so pardon me because I don’t know how to type the words.