Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Home Schooling - Is it An Option in India?

Lately, these statements have become frequent!

Schools teach nothing nowadays!

Schools have become money minting machines!

They want our money but not the responsibility of our children's safety!
Recent incidents of violence and Murder in Schools have made parents sit up and question a system well entrenched in our psyche.

They are in unison considering, "Do their children really need 'School' to meet their future Goals?"

As a Homeschooling family we asked these queries half a decade back and opted out of school!

We homeschooled our two kids who were in seventh grade and second grade back then.

Today, my elder one is gearing up for Grade 12 and again reconsidering 'not pursuing' further studies in the conservative sense. He finds College a colossal squandering of Resources!

As parents we are again in the "Rethinking phase" We will innovate like we did. We love Challenges.

My younger one is happily home learning. Infact, he is in the sixth grade chronologically but he takes up Eighth Grade Academics and is doing a fab job of it.

Do we as parents teach them?

Far too lazy we are!

They fend for themselves, sit in all our Lectures of various subjects we undertake. More the whole life is a platform for learning.

They study, debate, attempt papers, cook with us, clean with us, fight and make up with us. They learn from every fibre of life.

Their shining and purposeful lives are a far cry from lofty claims of just "getting educated".

So, naturally when there is turmoil, parents who are exploring this path connect to us and many like us who made homeschooling as a way of life.
We as a family attend to it as frequently as we can but sometimes it does get Repetitive for us. So I am putting down regular queries and see if it helps.

What is Homeschooling? Is it allowed in India?

Homeschooling is when your child is no longer enrolled in any school and opts to stay at home to learn. Allow? Like whose permission can we ask?

We need our own permission to step down from our deep conditioning of a system that is not serving many needs. We need to give ourselves and our Children the freedom to loosen the Shackles which are no longer needed. We do not need permission, we need a Decision.

Related Article: On The Threshold Of Homelearning- Being Unconventional or Being Natural?

Do you think, I should homeschool my child?

That is a personal Call each family must take after careful deliberations of Goals, needs and desires.

How should I start Homeschooling? What do I teach my children?

If you consider homeschooling, I suggest go on a quarterly sabbatical. Do nothing academic for three months. Enjoy the freedom this new Decision brings. Just let loose. You will be surprised to  Discover lots of faulty "musts", "shoulds" that you have held and can happily let go. Besides the break with tiffin, uniform ironing, homework, tests and all of that will be absent! Also, the competition, hurry, comparison would rarely raise its ugly head. What fun! Think about it.
As to what to start teaching? Pick what is important to you and interesting to your child. These days, resources on internet and bookstores are tons, use them creatively.

Related Article: The U-Turn and Unlearning

Where do I register for homeschooling?

As yet there is no legal body where you can register. You do not need to notify anybody. You simply opt out of school and choose not to send your child for any schooling. There are voluntary homeschoolers group all over India. You can look them up on Google.

Who will Discipline them, like school?

Are you talking of Obedience "Do as I say" or Discipline, "Be a Self Learner?"

Think carefully about what kind of Child you wish to send out. A child can be moulded how you want. If you feel school will do a better job, well, stick to the school. If you have faith in your abilities to Bond and Vibe with your child, only then Insource your child's Future. For I cannot reiterate enough. Opting out of School is a Choice with no outside influences. Do not follow it as a fad or Craze. It is serious Adventure which you as a family will undertake. If you do not derive satisfaction out of it, it is in Vain.

How much does it cost?

As much as you wish to spend. No more no less.

On the practical side, there will be no fees, no tuitions, uniform, no extra curricular activities and payments.

As humans but we wish to jump from one system to another. In that case, you will meet plenty of scamsters waiting to prey on your Anxieties. We are looking for a free approach to how we learn, what we learn, what we spend. Why hand over money to such Alternate Launderers.
Autonomy is the key. Spend on important stuff that gives the whole family  pleasure and sense of Control.

How will the Child Socialise if he /she does not go to school?

Hmmm! Child goes into the same bus, same class, same environment. At times is witness to cuss words, bullying, gang behaviour. Is that truly socialisation? In that case, why the social elements of school not present when the murder happened. The child must have called out for help. At least screamed once, scuffled once!

When the girl was raped, why did thr mother discover it only when the child reached home? Why did the socialised elements not reach out for protection or even reportage? The affected Girl must have gone through tremendous trauma through the day till she reached home?
Why did the socialising friends slap so hard that a child lost his hearing ability? This happened in the locked Washrooms or Attics of School but children did have certain part of day left to come home in last two cases?

Is discipline, education or literacy imparted in schools worth losing a 7 year old just like that? Why no friends accompanied him? What Socialisation are we still wishing to Materialise?
The child ridiculed for Menstrual stains died of mortification. Why did none of her social friends stand up for her and Call out the teacher?
Where or what kind of Socialisation are we looking for?
(That was a tirade of an angry mother. I have kids too and when one kid is hurt, It feels deep.)

On a lighter note, you as a parent can create healthy opportunities by enrolling your children for activities that interest them and can be supervised.

Since you have, homeschooled your children, can you teach mine?

No!

Your Goals are unique. Homeschooling is a self autonomous stance we take for self development. Have your flexible goals. Carve your own path. Create your own Paradise. Solve your own problems. Is life not about that? At key junctures, employ tutors to get through public exams.

How can my child appear for Grade 10/12 exams?

Your child can avail of various options. Foreign boards take External Candidates (At a fee), but yes, at age 14 your child can! Look up their website please.
NIOS also has an option to give grade 10/12 at the child's comfort and leisure. Look up their site. They have Centres around you for Guidance. Look up and Ask around!

Your State Boards too have Form No. 17 whereby your child can avail of suitable public Exams.

My kid did and scored 93.6%!

Related Article: Decision Validated, Yet The Journey Continues

Can we go back to school if we cannot adjust?

Yes. Under Right to Education your child cannot be denied Admission. They may take relevant entrance tests and ask you to begin a Grade lower, since certain competencies that school tests may need, may not be fulfilled by a non school going child. Schools of Foreign Boards too are willing to take in kids as they are open to children from all backgrounds as long as willingness to rules, instructions and fee structure are adhered to.

What will be their future? Will we deprive them?

That anxiety is normal when you embark on a path that is against the norm. Stay with it. It will dissipate with time. As you will swim forward, enjoy and create new pathways, you might be the one carrying the Homelearning torch forward to illuminate others fragile heart. There are as many solutions as problems. Point is to enjoy while resolving them and live to tell the tale.

Related Article: A Year Into Homeschooling and Finding Ourselves

This blog is a flip crisp responses to regular queries to homeschooling we encounter. Connect with us if you wish to know more or follow us on social media to see our day to day adventures. We sell possibilities of Freedom and Serendipity and we charge nothing.

Is that not a bonus?

Authors of Homeschoolers Brigade!

Sonnal Pardiwala (Mom)
Nozzer Pardiwalla (Dad)
Shahen Pardiwala (16 yrs old)
Shahaan Pardiwala (11 yrs old)

P. S. - If you have any further queries regarding homeschooling, or if you want to see an answer to a frequently asked question, please post it in the comments below and we would be glad to answer it. Thank you!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Formidable Foe called Kangana Ranaut

If you want to hold your breath this weekend and suck in the air with sheer gumption of it watch the 'One Woman Army' called Kangana Ranaut on the Aap Ki Adalat show with Rajat Sharma.

She has redefined what brazen Courage is made up of. Other guests that appear hence forth will have to match up with the sheer audacity and honesty she brought in this no holds barred interview.

This is how such shows should unfold instead of the diplomatically correct and politically ingratiating words that tepidly fall in 'Pakau' manner by some of them who do appear in this show.

She has earned her fearlessness by plunging into the depths of misery and truly asking “What do I have to lose anyways?"

Before I launch into a full fledged admiration love letter to this lady, let me admit to a memory that reminded me about the spark I had lost long long ago.

I remember being asked to resign from a well known educational institute simply because I had refused to find carpenters for doing up the reception area of the school. Being a counsellor, I thought it was definitely not a part of my skill set nor job requirements. It was appalling to see even senior well qualified counsellors on board bring them quotations from carpenters and deriving pride that theirs was considered. I refused politely but firmly earning me the wrath of the principal and HR! They told me to resign else they will not give me a good work experience certificate and it will ruin my Career. I needed the job, yes but more so my self esteem was at stake here. I was rated the best Counsellor in their yearly assessments and yet I was an eye sore for them. I had not complied to their unruly demands and they  had the power. 

Well, I dug in my heels and refused to resign too. I did tell them “My career is my responsibility alone and that they should make the rudest possible termination letter ever but I shall not resign.”

Phone calls went back and forth, explanations and arm twisting followed but I stood there without budging. I had the power of the truth with me and so it was. They had to find a clause that since I was temporary placement, they no longer needed my services and they did give me a work experience letter, describing the period of my term too. I have never used that experience letter ever. I did decide to chart out my own life on my terms and conditions and have a rollicking career as a teacher, blogger (my book made it to Limca Book of Records), spiritual healer and just an independent human who no longer puts her destiny in the hands of insecure, so called powerful people.

So with lots of awe in my heart and fierce glee, I watched Kangana dissect, devastate and destroy the Bollywood film industry’s ways and all of that she went through. She choked, she sobbed on few words. The eyes raw with agony yet glinted with steel. I will not break now and never is what they said.

What is she made up of?

To look at her flimsy frame, she appears so dainty and all of her 49 kgs. There is no bragging on her part. She accepts her frailties as easily as she flings logic at the people who set out to destroy her. She accepts that she was in love with Hrithik Roshan and it was so deep while it lasted but when he intended to close the chapter, she did. She expressed her hurt that he made public the most intimate details of their times in his bid to hurt and humiliate. 

She had all the silent anger at the writer and actor couple who threatened her with dire circumstances. I am sure they squirm in their plush sofas where they look at the delicate girl they intimidated. She did not once deny that she was not affected, not humiliated! She accepted all of it and put it out Raw out there for all to judge or indulge. She had a wizened philosophy too that "If my family or society is ruffled and hurt, It is ok for the time being. I will take it."   

Life has not been cakewalk for her. She admits it and nonchalantly takes it in her stride. She accepts her vulnerable part that loved and believed. She also does not hesitate to express the indignity she was put through at having her privacy invaded and family put through trauma. She sums it up so indignantly "If they put me, a successful actress through so much, imagine what they must be doing to girls with no clout or support?"

She met allegations head on elucidating her contribution and absolving what was not her piece of pie. 

She cooked up a storm that she did want to marry Hrithik Roshan and in his indecisiveness lost her 'other offers'. "I'm 30 and unmarried.",she gleefully and remorselessly throws in for audience to clap on. 

Such candour! 

You would not expect this from the likes of Alia Bhatt or Sonam Kapoor or Shraddha Kapoor, who being star kids are trained to drip artificial diplomacy. Their interviews are drab and induce headaches. In Kangana's words, 'pakau'.

I loved her quick dismissal of the case Hrithik filed as a "pakau case" even for the police. On hindsight, he did have the option to block and report instead of receiving 1000+ mails of unwanted attention. 

She waves Karan Johar's blog as 'waahiyat' which he wrote post the show down in his own show. She simply shrugs her 'Nepotism' remarks as counter observations to Karan's observation on her 'private low key social appearances'. Too true, that man could not take an opinion for an opinion. His spineless efforts at ridiculing her at an award show only lowers his image and repute. Even his sycophants are left helpless in the torrential criticism they get post participation in such nefarious activities. 

Still, Kangana is a true lady. Throughout the show, she called Karan's blog and ideologies 'waahiyat' but she did not use the 'below the belt' rude recourse to his sexuality to hurt or humiliate him. Everyone seems to be too eager to hit out at Karan where it will hurt the most, not Kangana. She is a Fair Foe! She stuck to her stance of not wanting a chance in his films with Ungli of Karan Johar, "...where I have only a ten minutes role is the worst film of my career! I don't want to be cast in his films" Candid, with dollops of self-deprecating humour. 

She rips apart the award functions as 'biggest fraud' and cheekily asks people to refrain from watching them. She elaborates happily how that whole thing is a sham and groupism things. How awards are exchanged for performances to avoid costs. 

Another thing she shares is the frightening revelation of the Head of Women Commission. If such is the scenario, it tells if how everything is 'bikau' and of no help to the common citizens. How money can twist those who people look to for help!

She admits to her climb upwards through "Queen" and "Tanu weds Manu" which probably gave her the lifeboat to swim in choppy waters such as these when you know people are out to put you in jail and have the support of money, power and such helpful agencies as 'the women commission'.

She has dealt with abuse, betrayal, deceit, intimidation, humiliation and public scandal with even a non-celebrity actor's claim of black magic! 

Her inimitable logic cannot be overlooked when she asks "Black Magic on him??? Who or why would anyone?"

Too true! All point to attempts at defaming a young girl who will not submit to your unruly stuff. An attempt to subjugate a spirit that cannot be tamed with threats. 

Today is her time, and she is getting her own back. She stands vindicated and redeemed. She does not need to justify but yet offers educational glimpse of a rotten system she has been plummeted into and emerged victorious. Wounded, scarred, yes, but not surrendering. 

Hrithik, Adhyayan Suman, Karan Johar, Aditya Pancholi may well heed the chimes of her glorious rise and slip into oblivion. They must learn their lessons and go 'no comments' for the rest of their lives! 

For all of this, she remains a grounded girl when she responds to a query of where she gets her fearlessness from! Why she is not on social media? She admits her lack of ability to deal with so many comments, opinions and people simultaneously. She is a 'One-on-One or One-on-few-people interactions' kind of person.

She simply puts "Ask what you will have to lose anyways?"

Her wisdom springs from fighting the pressure from her family to facing the threat to her family, to being blamed for the unrest to deal with pleas of ending it all by giving in. She has overcome her inner conflicts and demons and put forth a simple paradigm.

Hang in there with your talent, stand firm on your terra firma. Truth will reign. 

Her truth certainly shines and so do her eyes. They still have the painful acceptance that life is one long battle, inside and outside. Her naive hopes of being loved wholeheartedly are mercilessly crashed. Her thousand dreams of a cozy life mauled. She declares her painful depression and conquest too.

Does she ignite pity in you? 

Nope, only wow and awe. 

Her simplicity tugs at my heart strings and my patriotic self smiles when she asserts "I do not want Oscars. I am too content getting an award from my Honourable President!"

She stole my heart and earned my respect with that Graceful conclusion that her sights are having pretty boundaries set and she means them. 

Henceforth when she speaks the world will listen and trust for she subscribes to the fearless tribe of women who look the world in the eye and say gently "Do thy worst and I shall still prevail...!

-By Sonnal Pardiwala
*Writer claims no rights over the images used as they are screenshots taken from the Show. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eco Friendship - Walk The Talk!

We teach in schools about environmental issues and stuff. We talk of environmental degradation. Before every festival, we talk about pollution being caused by various things we do and use.
Every Ganesh festival is preceded with how we are polluting the water through immersions,how the garlands cause utter waste, how the noise irritates the ear drums.

Is there a different way we can enlist happiness and peace?

So asked my heart!

Then began the Search for ways to make it meaningful for my children.

I had heard about Eco friendly Ganesha idols. Digging deeper, I found out we could grow plants in it too. So, I placed my orders to a sculptor who moulds them lovingly at home. She suggested to avoid glitter, shimmer and gloss so the mud could dissolve easily.
There we had our Ganesha idol, adorable and awesome! Sometimes things are that simple and that difficult. I had searched high and low at all the commercial places where idols are made. Not one place had simplicity that I yearned for. The general tone was "Bigger the better, Shinier the sweetest"
It was possible though to get the most arresting and loving idol possible.
It was imperative my kids learn to bypass the "Herd mentality" and looked at Ganesha idol differently. He could be simple and It was possible to connect divinely. The heavy rituals were sidelined by us. Getting a Priest was another exercise in futility. Well! The practical side asked "If he says 4:30 is the auspicious time, turns up at 6%30 and says it is ok!!??? Why not be your own priest???
Decided! We invoked Lord Ganesha's energies deep from our hearts and asked him to stay with us for a day and half, forgive our mistakes and Accept the Ladoos, Garlands and love we had for him.

Next was the Decoration. If we speak of being Environment concerned then using plastic flowers and Thermocol casings make no sense. As my children candidly put in "It takes nearly 3000 years for it to decompose!"

So, we decided to give a Green look. From the nearby nursery that sells organic plants we brought the lawn grass plates and plants to surround the idol. With a little home made paper and home toys a little "Ganesha Farm house" was ready.

Our children did get the purpose of being Eco friendly in totality. We brought Him without much fanfare and noise but lots of love and anticipation. Every Single one who visited was filled with awe at the concept and some even resolved to Replicate the same next year!

The immersion was too well thought out. The motto was to not waste a single scrap and give back what we took.

Since our clay Ganpati had fertilisers too, we decided to grow a Guava tree in it.
The immersion was therapeutic to say the least. We put the idol in the tub, and poured water gently to melt it. Each one of us took turns in letting it melt under our hands. The heavenly mud rubbing on our Fingers, absorbing the negativity and oozing out Relaxed energy.

We were in no hurry! No sharing Tempo rides with all Ganesha idols of compound stacked away.

No handing him over to hurried, uncaring hands.

We had loving family hands gently dissolving the Idol and ever so affectionately bonding. The children, too, silently partook of the loving ritual.

We had bought the Guava tree beforehand. Our mom planted it in the mud pot. Next day the remnants of the mud water went in all our other plants. The tree stood tall and proud.
The deco plants gifted to family and the lawn grass in our work place. The Garlands went into our compost bin to fertilise the soil.

Not one thing wasted. Not a bit of pollution of any sort!

Children learned what it meant to be environment friendly in literal terms and not just giving lip service to such concepts.

Just putting up status on Saving Environment will not serve the cause!

Just criticising others or Government will not change anything.

Each one of us taking a step in the direction and doing our bit to raise awareness in the Gen next will do the trick.

Each one at a time!

                  
                     -Sonnal Pardiwala

Thursday, August 10, 2017

History Textbooks Revamped but Assessment?

It has become pretty fashionable to pick a textbook and find loopholes in it and get viral over its effects. 
Lately, the History Textbooks of Grade 7th and Grade 9th of Maharashtra State Board are under scrutiny and critical cynosure. 
Why? One may well ask! There have been changes in content. The Mughal Regimes and Sultanate Regimes have been Deleted and prominence given to Local Heroes and movements. 
In 9th Grade, emphasis is on post Independence movements and changes. 
One sees Glorification of one section and Relegates other sections into anonymity. 
The outcry is that such changes are sowing Divisive Tendencies through books in the minds of Children. 
The Children! 
Do the textbook makers ever give attention to the plight of the Children? Frankly, I as a Teacher, see the children saddled and burdened with the same assessment patterns that has been a source of Nightmare for them ever since History was introduced into their Curriculum. 
Let us take a look at a typical Assessment format of "History" papers. 
We have Fill in the blanks & Name the following amounting to remembering exact details like the year a certain King died to a certain ruler who made a certain city or monument or fought a war and won. 
One alphabet here and there and a mark is lost! If Shahaji is spelled Shahji, they definitely will get it wrong and Yes there is a monumental difference. Just an "a" missing changes meaning. Talk of Divisive tendencies!!! My kids scratch heads, bewildered, they sigh! 
"Miss, one alphabet I forgot and I lost a mark!" "Hmmm!" 
Then we have Historical reasons. Explaining why a certain event happened. "So and so king was defeated" "League of nations failed" which runs into meticulous and long sentences. 
Then there are Short answers which are anything but short. The amount of content has the eyes of kids rolling. "So muchhhhh!" 
Next question which I am so so used to "What difference does it make? If League of nations failed, it failed why are we supposed to mug up such long answers?"
"Effects of Cold War" has children jesting "Trembling minds, waste of time memorising exact words, less marks, shivering nights." 
Now as a Teacher in my initial years, I lectured that it was an important aspect of our life and we must know it. Taking a compassionate view however on the impact it had on their psyche, I stopped doing that and encouraging them to do their best. Some of them even had fevers before the History exams. 
Pick a seventh Grader or ninth Grader and ask them the difference between Communalism and Communism. They might recite the exact definition but ask them what it actually means!Chances are you will get a blank stare. I have spent Considerable amount of time in the company of kids from Grade five to ten. Their Retention for Historical facts is as long as the tests last. They would like to relegate to anonymity this particular long exercise in futility somewhere back in the mind as necessary and fatigue inducing. 
Where in the world will the divisive tendencies have a place in their minds when their conscious mind does not even focus on the matter? All their concentration is on simply getting on with it. 
Concepts like "Freedom of Speech" has them asking me "Miss, Can we have freedom of leaving this subject?" 
I have seen three varieties of students. Smart ones who have superb memorising skills. 
They mug up the answers
The average kind who pick and choose what will get them to get a decent score leaving few answers here and there! 
The not so smart ones! They give up and accept below average or failing marks. They just cannot remember. 
In all this, let us ask where in kids mind it matters which part was added or deleted? Whatever happened their Life still revolves around mugging up answers which have no relevance to them! If majority of students are given a choice they (many of them) would like the whole subject to disappear! This ain't my opinion. Just a long standing observation of Children over the years.
The brief answers &  Give Historical Reasons have them dizzy in the head and some trembles in the spine. 
If anyone sensible ever gets around to asking the students, they would want that the Government  should rethink the assesing of History tests. No matter what they add or Delete the brief answers remain "not brief" but looonnnnng! 
Short Answers are not so short! 
Verbatim details to be produced. 
Hilarious moments arise when children of tenth Grade forget the year India got Independence. They know the date for it is a Holiday but year???!!! 
They do not know the difference between Republic and Independence day. 
Do quiz your kids to know how much of what they mug up they actually understand. 
One alphabet here and there and they lose marks in fill ups &  Name the followings. 
Smart ones Mug up. 
Average ones drag on.
Not so smart just "Give up" today. Their angst and dilemmas do not change with changing textbooks. 
I would have welcomed if the students got a chance to do away with these long winding answers and rather give their interpretation of various events as they understood it. If they commented with understanding of how they would have avoided an Alexander from entering India. The role of Ruler of Ambhi and Deception therein may well merit discussion on treachery and its results. They could have reflected on formation of United Nations, its subsequent rule of Self determination and stance of Anti Colonisation bringing an end to Imperialist era, it would add so much to understanding world politics and its ramifications. 
Instead  children scratch heads on who led the White Revolution and Green Revolution. In the light of effects of milk, vegan movement and effects of pesticides on vegetal world, they may well question if it was all worth it! According to them, it exists in textbooks and villages. 
Makers of curriculum may well benefit if the textbooks change narratives to discussions  instead of only informing facts. Assess in a way that allows children some modus of control than the utter helplessness, they feel when they have to mug up long answers which lose their meaning in the process of retaining,till they can purge in the answer sheets. Forget all about it in the next hour while mobile game beckons or a friend calls out for a walk. 
They do not ever discuss historical details or their results therein. If at all they do question
"What is the use? Why do we have to remember this? "
I request Makers of Syllabus
Give a thought to Changing assessment patterns and making it student centric. Adding or Deleting will not affect their psyche. 
A child absorbs the political ideology from family ideology and not textbooks! Not definitely at the tender age when the only aim is "Exam marks".
When every single detail is to be delivered as it appears in textbooks, the focus beams on mechanical act of remembering during exams and not remembering for a reference while dealing with friends of various faiths.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Letter to Her

A person who has a "why" will live with any "How" so experienced Victor Frankl after his Gruesome, helpless existence in the Concentration camp. A horrendous unpredictable Hell where death was a welcome relief but till it descended one was at the Mercy of forces that tenterhooked your self - Respect, Dignity. One was stripped clear of possessions even the hair on the head. No clothes, no food, no medicines only endless drudgery, unmitigated, uncensored violence surrounded till a person collapsed in his own excreta and refused to budge from it till the heart and brain physiologically stopped ticking, registering!

Many self sabotaged their own chances of Survival for it meant Super human effort to dive into the inner Resources of Spirit to Bind together the remnants of a forgotten being Called "You" when you have nothing Going, where you have nothing calling, what you have is not worth anything!
You my friend today are in that Predicament. You walked into your own Concentration Camp and handed over your power and Possessions to them.
Yes you allowed that first Slap to happen.
You cried in pain instead of Asking to them and yourself "How dare this happen?"
You explained it away as "What Can I do?"
You reasoned "Things will be better"
You hoped "One day they or he will realise how wrong they were or he was! What a Gem of a person you have been taking all the black and blue marks, concealing the red that oozed with Forebearance and patience"

You kept Gathering the fragmented being that is you for your kids!
Did someone tell you that you are panning an Abuse perpetrator factory right under your bleeding nose?
All the martyrdom for keeping a roof over their heads will result in a willy nilly who will either abuse or tolerate abuse!

Do you want the same belt marks pelted on your little ones or them to do the same to someone?

Your parents will not support you? What a wonderful exercise in futility!
Have you not been brave nursing or sometimes just not nursing those internal and external wounds?

Did anyone come through to stop the abuse for you? In that case if no one would hold the hand that cracks what else can you expect?
Why to expect?
Sometimes a violent annihilatory impulse must cross your "on the brink being".
To End it all!
End yourself, perish or End the Abuser's life.
It would be redemption of Sorts true but where will that leave your life?
Again at the Mercy of Others for a Crime. You may cry yourself hoarse pleading your innocence and no one will listen!
Just as No one hears your screams and blood curdling wails, do they?
Knowing fully well, the injustice inflicted on you, each decides to look the other side.
You know why no one helps you?
No one does for you do not Care!
You heard that right, you do not Care for your own being.
Too long Pity has been your constant companion. Pity from others who survey from afar your injuries. Cluck clucking on your pitiable affairs. Keeping their Distance for they do not know how to salvage a situation where they cannot enter.
Each senses your Helplessness and is wary!
You suffer for a profound reason.
You allow, you submit, you crumble!
So much advice is floating about why you should not be beaten and yet here you are nurturing an Entitled Weakling to rule your Spirit and Existence. You have blockaded your own Exit Routes!
I have no words of pity yet!
What is the use?
Can I balm the Gangrene that is invading your entire Being? It will amputate you altogether.
Do you not see, You have to do something?
All the words in the world are hollow.
You are not uneducated to not know what all of the typical "Do not tolerate Abuse" means!
I may make thousand bridges for you to walk out and through but The first step you have to take.
To me my own words of pity, sympathy, encouragement sound powerless till you realise what you are allowing.
Deplorable is your Condition I know but my dear Neighbour, You are the one who will Choose!
Choose to Lie in your Excreta and not Care or Take Stock and some Action!
Be catty and Shrewd.
Throw that Filmy Kindness Jargons you have learned and ingrained all your life.
In Martyrdom lies not your virtue.
They do not have to realise your value Someday.
YOU HAVE TO REALISE IT TODAY!
What Can you do?
First Permit yourself to breath and Repeat to yourself, you are not a bedraggled toy to be mugged around.
Tell yourself silently, you deserve to Get away from it all.

Even when it is raining blows and at present you cannot stop it, promise yourself a Dignified State one day.
Then Act.
Take Stock of your Resources! Financial Resources? Jewellery, any employable skill, place you can Go and camp once you walk away. Can you create finances enough to tide over few months?
Is there something you can build on?
Think Think Think there must be a way!
There has to! You must begin somewhere discreetly, slowly inching away, planning away.
There is this book by Meena Kandasamy "When I hit You" I bought instinctively for I am unable to sleep at times knowing you are breaking each second. I do want to read how a woman gathers that courage to finally fling away the many "Conventional" barriers she is tied to. Just like you are. Enduring day after day. I want you however to read it first. When you find in you the same "Wake up" jab, I will rest easy. For we women are bound with a kindred bond for each other's tears. Till one sobs the other cannot settle. Maybe in that book, You will find a new hope to charter a new journey of a constructive life on your own terms. When you will make your Grand Dignified planned Exit, I have promised to buh myself a Copy of "When I Hit you".
Take a Hard Stock! Make that hardest Decision. Talk to your kids only after you have planned everything and are way out of that Dark House. They cannot possibly want to stay in the Terror area but if they do, give a firm hand. They are better off with you even if it means lots of adjustments. Trust me, once you have taken the Independent flight, others would join in with hearty supports. It is only a clingy vine they fear or Domestic quarrels they abhor. No one has the time!
Once they know, you and your basic expenses are sorted by You, their Respect will multiply. Once they know your Decision is Final, they will back your abusers in the Corner where you once belonged.
Take the Slander and Gossip. One can learn to ignore it. Belt marks, table thumps, slaps marks, swollen eyes are not!
You are educated to find food on the table. Get clothes on the body.

Take pictures of your battered self. Sounds funny, to a Shrewd one it does not. It will help you as a daily reminder what you must never allow ever again. Another to let the law officials know what you were up against and why you need to keep that brute/s at a far far distance! For he and his allies will not surrender so easily. Threat to your life is also a possibility. It is there even now. Any of the blows can kill you in one swipe. Somewhere, some how you have to take chances!
The only way is Break Away and Build a New life however low on Amenities it maybe.
After a long hibernation of your spirit, few Jolts are necessary.
Too long you have accepted a meagre and precarious quagmire pulling you in and in till it gobbles you up in enterity.
You were not born to simply be a punch board.
I am there, waiting for your first catty, bold step. A planned step.
I am waiting for you to create your new "Why" and live with the new "How".
Once you do, I will have Gentle hugs to boost your Flagging intent.
Once you choose to Live, I will be there with a Salute!
Once you Dare, I will tell your offenders to not bother you for You are on your own and Have a Right to Be Not Bothered.
I may not have the answers to All your Woes but I am praying that you find in your wailings a need to stop and Say "Enough" and "No more".

Monday, June 26, 2017

Eid Mubarak ~Ye Le Teri Eidi!

My maid sauntered into my house, six years ago. She said she hailed from a remote hamlet four hours away from Kolkatta. 

She quoted a reasonable amount and was willing to wash my terrace balconies. That is all that mattered to me. She has today become the Reigning Queen of many households in our building. She begins her work at eight in the morning and works till midnight. She is by no means rude or greedy like many I had seen and witnessed earlier. She has won hearts with her patience - she will wait if your work is not done. Never in a hurry. She does everything. Fill water, take your wheat to the flour mill, take kids to bus stop for school, baby sit for an hour, fold clothes, wash clothes, floors, window sills. I have never heard her back answer or grumble. 

There is a purpose to all the hard work. To earn money for her three children in village who are raised by her mother. She and her husband with kids were thrown out of their family house those many years back. She with her husband ventured into Mumbai to find their fortunes. She has heard her kids growing up only over the phone and once in ten days, in a year, when she visits them.

She hardly ever takes an off, for she is hard working. Only when she is injured savagely, she will be off work. Always smiling at idiosyncrasies of kids and adults and shares their joys and sorrows. News of Death, illness or issues in building we get from her. No, not gossip, it is her concern that she shares and understands my aloof lifestyle. She informs so I may do the needful. If I do not, there is no judgement. She is nonchalant sharing all festivals in the building and yet present for work all days.

She is a boon for Holi, Diwali and Ganpati fests, she is present as she has nothing special to do. She is favoured for her omnipresence. Her only festival is "Eid" and she distributes kheer to all and sundry whether she works for them or not. 

She brings kheer for kids all over the building for in them she sees her kids enjoying. A day before Eid, I hand over the "Eidi", her rightful gift, according to me. I have been doing it all these years. 

This year I had to go for a trip and was not sure if I will be back for Eid so I gave her Eidi and wished her. Her whole being twinkled. I thought it was the money. 

I thought wrong!

She took it quietly with a happy smile. After some time she came to me where I was cooking "You know Bhabhi, I work in so many houses. I clean for their festivals and work diligently for all. Only you and the Doctor bhabhi above gives me "Eidi" No one else does. Koi humko Eidi nahin deta bus aap dono hi."

In those garbled words, she made such an important statement for our Country. 

Eidi for a Person is love. A happiness they have been feeling ever since they were children and after Namaz they waited eagerly to have their Elders keep Eidi in their hands. What they gave was not significant.

They gave. That was significant. You cannot describe the pure bliss of being the recipient of Eidi. It is the love of elders. It is belonging. It is the counting of Eidi coins to eat the Sweets or just lovingly stave it away. 

Here, where Runu is so far off  from her children, her parents. From both forces. From one she may Receive "Eidi", to another she may Give "Eidi". Both pleasures taken away for livelihood is an important duty. One she has no complaints about. 

She accepts. People have changed her name to "Renu", to "Reena" to suit their sensibilities and avoid the discomfort of reminders of her faith. Her services are valuable you see. She is willing to go the extra mile for all. 

They give her generously, but on their festivals when their Happiness counts! 

They do not realise, this one day is valuable for her. 

The Eidi you put in her hand will make her being shine and put a spring in her step. She never counts it anyways. 

It is important you put something you call "Eidi" for her soul knows what it means to hear "Ye le teri Eidi!" 

She accepts her fate and the Subtle Discrimination as she hands over her Kheer containers to Everyone, sharing her Eid filled heart. 

None of the lot have the Sensitivity to overcome "It is not our Festival." and just say "Ye le Teri Eidi."

I feel content, I could overcome and teach my children a small lesson in humanity. It is her happiness that should count, she offers her labour to us the year round, non-stop, no holidays during "our festivals" the only one who will work during those days when other maids will say, "It is our festival, we will not come.

Let us Give them "Eidi" when it matters the most to them! Be not afraid to hug them as that is how they wish "Eid Mubarak." 

Veils of Discrimination lifts then and Sprouts of Equality can be sowed. 

-Sonnal Pardiwala

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tinkle Buddy Box

On 18th of April 2017, we were returning from a tiresome road journey back from Gujarat in this sweltering heat. 

We had chores lined up and a weary body to contend with. My younger one was blissfully active as he had caught up on his sleep in the car! Pleasures of Childhood! The thoughts on how to keep him occupied in the afternoon and get some rest sounded like two conflicting goals. 

But someone up there conspired to alleviate my misery. On our doorstep was a delivery boy, waiting with a box of Tinkle Buddy Box




I simply told him it was a pre-birthday gift arranged by his Angels. Kids love surprises and mine is no exception. After the mandatory bath, he settled with his Buddy Box and was engrossed happily for at least three hours. To my relief, I got my dream nap undisturbed and without having to worry over him. 



So, I would like to share in his words his opinions on the world he discovered in that box. A journey in the words of an eleven year old rather than an intellectual dissection by a 40+ worldly wise woman who has lost the innocent childlike wonder. 

The box comes in bright colours and neatly packed stuff. We will take the tour as it unfolded. However, there is a cute introductory booklet by Suppandi giving a peek into the various activities rolled into the box.

Being an Avid Reader, naturally he gravitated to The Tinkle Super Special Book which is 192 pages filled with pure entertainment. Central characters being Shikari Shambhu, Suppandi and hilarious accounts of their (mis)adventures which sure tickled his funny bones. It is loaded with Trivia that added to his general knowledge and made for a great Quiz to let us know we are so ignorant! It added to my repertoire of a few things that I should have known but forgotten. 

Tinkle Holiday Special Book was labelled by him as a sombre affair of Adventures by Aliens, inanimate objects like batteries, slippers and ancient objects like mummies.

His vote for the favourite one goes to Tinkle Super Special!

The next to grab his attention was the Tinkle Board Game akin to the good ol' Snakes and Ladders. It comes with its own flavour of fun. The green fibre Dice almost looked like a Candy to him and we did pull his leg to not gobble it accidentally! Our punishment for the teasing was we as a family had to set aside our time to play the Board game. As a family, it turned around as a Fun Bonanza of peals of laughter. The varying and cute penalties won his heart! He happily coloured himself a black moustache. 


I, happily, discovered I could recite the table of eight but also haltingly (much to my chagrin). The material of Board game however is not likely to last the rough and tumble of this eleven year old who thinks it can be utilised and moved around as he wants (sometimes drumming on it lightly to sometimes pushing it around). I would settle for a  little tougher material but all in all it makes an interesting family game of leg pulling and surprises. 

He and his elder brother together endeavored to put together the Shambhu's Adventure Jigsaw Puzzle. It contains 108 pieces. It took them around 30 odd minutes to bicker, poke fun, call each other mild names to get it all into a pleasant and complete picture. 





The stickers, however, did come out and will not last more than few uses. They aim to take lesser time the next time around.

Being a DIY guy, next he picked up the Super Special Activity Booklet. There are 16 fun activities using paper, pencil, glue, bottles, straws, scissors, books to make handy stuff for use, for example, a cute little pencil box and a snaky card. He plans to attempt few more in days to come. 

His delightful squeal at the Tinkle Badges of his favourite characters like Wingstar, Defective Detectives, Shambhu and his ludicrous Suppandi, had to be heard and enjoyed. 

The Tinkle Paper Plane Activity was the quickest to reach its conclusion and also reached its perishable end pretty fast. That is how eleven-year-olds operate I guess! 





The Tinkle Card Game features Suppandi, Shambhu, Tantri in various colour codes. Two to six can play it. The twosome brothers had fun combining them colour-wise and character-wise. Quite some noise emanated in form of giggles while forming rules or dealing cards. He says "It is an eye stimulation game".

Suppandi's Auto Rickshaw Box: It has twin activity of creating its shape and colouring it intricately. It sure promises hours of creative, crazy affair with imaginations and colours. It has to be folded and creased. A boon for a mother who wants to be left alone to do her chores without supervising every move. It is pre-cut and pre-creased. No need for cutting and using scissors. What relief!
All in all it was an engrossing buddy for my little one. 

The box comes in with a Subscription form and a special introductory discount offer price for a period of six and three months. 

Fills up hours of an active kid's daily vacation schedule with a little family time thrown in the Board game and lot of "Me" time reading and making stuff as instructed.

By Sonnal Pardiwala