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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Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

This post first appeared in as a part of blog tour of Grow Up Messy!.

https://jdrhawkins.com/2017/02/16/grow-up-messy/

Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

  1. Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to be know everything just like the superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.

This particular scene from the book is very close to my heart. Although the entire episode is very funny but it actually depicts the trust of a child in the mother. Something which no one can ever challenge. I see my son in this episode sometimes.

  1. Children enjoy being dirty. We have done it so many times in our days yet as a parent if we see our child playing in the soil we try to stop him immediately. The same thing our mothers might have also done with us while we enjoyed. Isn’t it strange, when we grow up we follow our mothers so blindly.

There is an episode in the book where Misry plays in the muddy pool and ruins her fresh clothes. No doubt her mother is mad at her.

  1. Children have a very special place for animals in their heart. Whether they have pets at home or not but whenever they get a chance to pet an animal they will never stop themselves. I wish as we grow up we shouldn’t lose this emotion within us. It actually makes us more humane.

In the book, Misry befriends a sacrificial  animal as her pet what follows next is very       heart wrenching.

  1. As kids, our relationship with our first cousins is very interesting. Once in a year, during the school vacation we go to visit them. Whatever, time we spent together is always fun. We use to share things, study together, fight with each other and even share our little secrets. These moments are recreated when Misry visits her Dadu’s house. It is so much fun to have so many family members living under the same roof. Have you ever lived in a joint family or visited one?
  1. It will be a lie if I say I never had any difficulties in learning or rather mugging up the multiplication tables. This was one part that I always hated in Mathematics and the fact is no one said before that this multiplication table I will be using throughout my life. Yet when it comes to our kids we never fail to tell them how easy it is to learn the multiplication table. Was it really???

The book has a chapter for that too. Seriously dedicated to the Multiplication Tables.       How Misry and her family copes with it is something to watch out for.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Kala Ravi Sarathy

The post first appeared on

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1889117796?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

A delightful, heart-warming book that traces the journey of an impish little girl, Misry aka Messy. The stories are set in eastern India and carry a waft of the rural, simple life of an era gone by. Misry is impetuous, curious and often rebellious and one cannot help but fall in love with this adorable child’s antics. The parents have been essayed so realistically, one can readily identify with their dismay, tenderness, annoyance and more in response to their little daughter’s ventures. The language is fluid and the plots are quintessential to an East-Indian setting from the 1980’s. The character portrayals, the vivid narration, the peek into traditional rituals and customs, the overall earthiness and thought-provoking little adventures of little Messy make for a lovely read suitable for both young children and parents. A light-read that makes you go warm, fuzzy and nostalgic! 2

How much transparency is needed for our Armed forces?

The post first appeared on

http://www.ddsreviews.in/2017/01/Transperency-Armed-Forces.html?spref=fb

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost – How much transparency is needed for our Armed forces? by Paromita Goswami

When I wrote the book Grow Up Messy! I mentioned in details about the life of personnel working in Border Security Force. My chest always swells with pride whenever I read the scenes in the book. My father worked in B.S.F and hence I was brought up in that environment. It really helped me in shaping me up as a responsible citizen of my country. I have a special corner in my heart for the people in the armed forces. There was a time when I too wanted to join the uniform cadets however, I was destined to do something else. We will talk about it later.

The recent video of a B.S.F jawan that went viral on the internet and that which has really shaken the faith in the olive and khaki uniforms has really hurt me too. The video was about the quality of the cooked meal supplied to the Jawans at the border. It showed burned Rotis, Dal, without Tadka and all. And in my book, I have a complete chapter how Misry loved the Langar ka Tadka Dal.

Here is the excerpt:

Misry relished food prepared in the langar. First, the food had a manly touch unlike her mother cooking at home, which meant more oil, more spices and “Tadka”. And second, the food was cooked in huge chulha unlike the L.P.G gas cylinder at home and so the food had a different aroma and taste to it.

The Jawans had a special liking for Misry. Her presence and innocent questions reminded them of their children back at home, whom they missed very much. They loved to have her around and treated her like one of their children.

One of the cooks had also made a small bench and table for her to sit and eat with the rest of the platoon. The Head Cook knew about Misry’s love for langar food so he separated a small portion for her and added his special spices to it.

If I have to believe this video then I must say it was never so bad earlier. However, I understand things have changed over the years. The Jawans might be too stressed out defending the peace for our country just as we do while meeting our deadlines. Has life really changed so much? In the Video, Teg Bahadur has blamed his senior officers for selling off the ration that is distributed to them by the government. Can this really happen? Can someone even think of making money in this manner? If it were true then can that person be really termed as a patriot serving the armed forces to serve the nation? I don’t think so.  Such traitors need not be in any armed forces.

Every officer has a big responsibly of motivating his men so that they remain stress-free while standing in the first line of defense.  Every grudge of a Jawan,  no matter how small it maybe, is first dealt with these officers. It is his duty to see that his men are well taken care of unless of course, he is a victim of this bad practice too.

Not all officers are corrupt but those who are, they are really putting the lives of civilians at a big risk. And eventually the security of the country. I have only one question for them –What good is your money earned by corrupt means if the nation does not survive. Of course, India is very strong for this handful of corrupt people for we are the people of the country that has a big history of legends and no one can shake that trust off us be it money or fame.

However,  I do feel there should be more transparency in our armed forces too. With the growing technology, everything is visible now like this viral video. So why not make our procuring system and recruitment in the armed forces more transparent. Let the Jawans know how well they are being treated.

Another Video is of a CRPF Jawan who questions the facilities enjoyed by the paramilitary and the Central Armed police Force. When the risk is same then why not the facility. Let the parameters for selection be the same in both the forces. Earlier, when the Central Armed Police Force was established its main duty of line was restricted to only certain areas just like the B.S.F.

After Chinese aggression in 1962 in India B.S.F was established on 1st December 1965, to safeguard the international land and water borders of the country only. However, over the years their line of duty has changed. The B.S.F personnel is now doing all kinds of other duties besides guarding the international border. So why have their facilities not changed?

My book Grow Up Messy! is dedicated to BSF fathers who crave to watch their child grow.

No child would love to see their father so much in pain due to food condition or due to the lack of facilities. It is at a time when the men working in the forces should be heard.

P.S  To enter the #Giveaway please follow the above mentioned link.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Siddhangana Karmakar

The review first appeared on

http://siddhanganak.blogspot.in/

I won’t say I don’t read children’s books. If I chance upon a good children’s fiction I dive right into it, simply because I find them richer in imagination.

Growing Up Messy is a heart warming story which reminded me parts of my childhood having born and brought up in a 2nd tier city of Bengal. Misry’s escapades during afternoon hours truly made me connect with her. How many afternoons I must have spent doing the same! How much patience my mother would have shown to tolerate my disobedience.

Right from the character Misry to the descriptions of the world around her and the innocent naughty acts that Misry aka Messy got into reminded me of Tagore’s short stories as well.

I think it fits a much wider range of readers apart from middle grade. It can be a good read for mothers because it captures psychology of children and I personally feel it also sets standards for the modern parent. Things like not over indulging your child, making your kid realise the difference between want and need. The very busy parents of today who have high purchasing ability sometimes forget that indulgence is not always the answer. A story like this can be a gentle reminder to them while they read it out as a bedtime story for the young ones.1

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Mahima

This post first appeared in

https://incorrigiblemusings.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/grow-up-messy/

The Review:

 

Grow Up Messy is a story of a 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry father has a job which makes him change cities frequently.

The story is from the point of view of Messy which shows her innocence and guile. Messy is a ball of anxiousness and excitement which causes a ruckus and hence she got coined as Messy.

Throughout the story it is cute and sweet moments of a mother-daughter relationship in which makes the read more enjoyable. Apart from the adventures of Messy, the story depicts the day to day lives and sacrifices of army personnel and their families.

A book worth reading as it gets you to take a trip down the memory lane to your childhood which we often forget when as we get old.

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Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Author Devika Fernando

As posted in Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33089831-grow-up-messy

I don’t often read children’s books, but off and on, I’ll make an exception for a friend. And I’m glad I gave “Grow Up Messy” a chance, because it is a delightful read that manages to capture an adult’s attention and even heart just as easily as a child’s.

The story follows five-year-old Misry alias Messy through her life, giving us glimpses of her daily routine and the family dynamics as well as offering startling and sparkling surprises of a child’s mind. The author manages to make the book entertaining and light-hearted with a tinge of humor on the one hand, and thought-provoking on the other hand. Through the stories with a moral (and with their apt end that fits right in with the title) we learn about society and how it should and should not treat children. We are immersed in how India deals with education and social norms, in what is expected of good little girls, and how far a little imagination can take a child. Misry is adorable and spunky, and I grew to love her mother too. The descriptions make the setting and characters come alive, and there is just the right amount of realistic dialogue.

“Grow Up Messy” would make a lovely read for a mother or even to read out loud to a child in a similar age. I can even imagine some of the chapters being valuable for teaching in schools.
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The inspiration behind my new book Grow Up Messy!

This post originally appeared at
What is the inspiration behind my new book Grow Up Messy!?

I always find my ten years old enjoying the cartoon programs on the television channels. Sometimes I also sit down next to him to watch the show. It is so good to watch him so excited especially when the cartoon characters are out on an adventure. My son would be fidgeting or squealing along with the background music. I wondered what was so special about these stories –  Chota Bheem running in the forest looking for his friends who are abducted or Nobita again stuck up somewhere with Doraemon’s gadgets or Motu and Patlu flying up in the air when kicked by the boxer. If that was not enough there is the Ben10 using all sorts of gadgets to save the alien attack.

No matter what the plot was the children enjoyed it and are glued in front of the television set for hours at stretch. And it is not at all good for their health. It is a very common site to find a very young child in specs due to eyesight problem these days. However, it was a very rare sight a few decades back. Even children sitting indoors at home was a rare sight.

Most of our childhood days were spent outdoors having fun with friends. And even today they are our best memories. There was so much we could do and so much we could see and learn from experience.

However, as parents now, we hardly allow our children to learn from their experience. We are always telling them what is right and what is wrong and on top of that, they have a limited time to do what they actually want to do, play.  Homework, tuitions, curricular activities, swimming session, dance session, karate classes the list is endless. By the end of the day, the child is completely tired, of course with physical exertion, however not because the child had been doing what he or she wanted to do but what we wanted him or her to do.

This is mostly due to two reasons, FEAR and QUALITY TIME. We fear our child will lag behind in the rat race and hence we start equipping the child from an early stage putting in so much pressure on the little mind that they forget what they really want to do. They start looking at us for the next instruction eventually growing up into an adult who is unable to make decisions or take its responsibility. As parents, we are so busy with our career that even though we might be physically present with the child yet our mind wanders elsewhere. We fail to give the quality time. And even if we do, we restrict it to weekends or other holidays not when the child needs it most, when he gets up from sleep, when he comes back from school and when he is put to bed.

In my book, Grow Up Messy! the protagonist, Misry alias Messy, is a naughty five-year-old and she does all that she wants to do. Sometimes it is right sometimes it is wrong but whatever the end result is, she experiences it firsthand. And astonishingly these small experiences actually shape her up as she grows. Each of the chapters is like small stories interwoven which any parent can enjoy reading with their child. It is more like an adult reliving the childhood and sharing with the child. Set in the early eighties West Bengal, the book is truly inspired by the innocence of the childhood. Let them be what they want to be FOR NOW.

You can read more by following the above mentioned link.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Mahathi Ramya

As taken from http://www.fantasticfeathers.in/2017/01/grow-up-messy-by-paromita-goswami-book.html

This is the story of a sweet naughty 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry is the daughter of Anurag who works at Border security force and thus have to move to many places due to his dad’said work assignments.

As expected, the story shows the world in the perspective of a 5-year-old, her naughtiness and her innocence. Like every other parent, her mother Madhavi sometimes says, ‘Grow up Messy’ because of the kids’ naughtiness. Also, she loves the innocence, intelligence and energy of her daughter and prays inside her heart ‘Never grow up, Messy’.

That’s very true of parenting right? Even though kids annoy us with their childish behavior, they are adorable too. We want them to become mature but worry that we miss their innocence and naughtiness. As I am already managing 2 year and 5-year-old boys, I could relate to this feeling.

More than the childhood adventures of Misry, I learned about the lifestyle and sacrifices of the families of army who protect our country day and night to keep us safe. These lines from the book are worth a mention
“Men in uniform have no time to look behind for their family. Restoring peace and harmony had always been foremost for them. Salute to their wives who are so strong willed that even in situations like these they know how to take control of themselves and let their men march away for the nation without any frown on their forehead.”
Misry is adorable and intelligent for her age. Her mother Madhavi shows good patience while managing misry and clarifying her doubts. Anurag is an ideal father and the way he deals the problem when misry stops going to school for a silly reason is very nice. The characters of misry’s dadu and dadi, pallavi mashi, honey etc are portrayed very well and make the story strong. I loved reading this book in a 5 year old perspective and would recommend this to parents as well as children. The ending felt abrupt though it says to read second part of the book series. It might have been better. The book cover and title are apt.
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