Ma ki Seekh! – A mother’s Teachings

I know this article is coming very late. It should have been delivered a few months back. However, my anger has not subsided  yet.

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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.

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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

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TV, Mobile & Kids. Is that you?

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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. kids-1136296__340

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.learning-164332__340

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.iPad-Mock-up-ebook1 copy

Below is the list of few Indian writing paperbacks and ebooks that can be an interesting read for your child.

  1. Grow Up Messy! by Paromita Goswami ( Ages 10+)
  2. Malgudi daysby R. K Narayan  (Ages 10+)
  3. The Rusty Series by Ruskin Bond (Ages 10+)
  4. The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, (Ages 8+)
  5. His share of sky by Rashmi Narzary (Ages 10+)
  6. Amar Chitra Katha is all time favorite of the kids and can also teach them mythology, Indian history, and moral stories.
  7. Bookasura #2: Koobandhee by Arundhati Venkatesh (Ages 3+)
  8. Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon (Ages 11+)
  9. Famous Five by Enid Blyton (Ages 11+)
  10. Nancy Drew by Carolyne Keene (Ages 11+)

All these books are available on Amazon.in.

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From The Pages of my Old Diary

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.

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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.

Why HOLI Me…?

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I don’t think I know of any other Indian festival where you buy something actually for others. India has so many festivals throughout the year that it makes every seasons enjoyable. (We have festivals in every season and if there isn’t one then birthdays and anniversaries make it up). So on every occasion we purchase something or the other and that too only for our own use. New clothes, sweets, home furnishings, home decor almost everything you can think of anything that is usually purchased during the festivals is entirely for personal use. In other words, you can celebrate the festival without a community too. Of course if you have a community then it is fun however, in the absence of it also you can celebrate it in your own way.

For example, on Diwali you can decorate your house with oil lamps, candles and electric lights, Christmas too you can decorate the Christmas tree in your house and but presents for your family. Or even during Durga Puja you purchase new clothes and visit the pandals with your family. In general talk about any festival you can celebrate with your family members only.

Whereas on HOLI you buy colors, pichkari, thandai and all the other accessories for other’s use. You cannot celebrate it alone with your family members. You need a community to celebrate this festival and that too spend your money to buy things for others. So in actual terms, HOLI is the ultimate community festival and that is the only reason I love it more.

 

 

Let’s celebrate womanhood together!

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The woman you love most in your life

Is there something special about being a woman?

If there is then lets celebrate womanhood together. This a blank canvas and whatever thoughts you share with me I shall put it here along with your twitter handle and will RT till 7.03.2017. On the due day that is 8th March the final canvas will be uploaded with hues and color of womanhood.

To participate all you have to do is type your thoughts and RT@authorparomita. Just make sure your words are max 10 only.

And this is what I got

 

 

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