Monday, March 5, 2018

Pappam or Papam?

One of the most recent debates that is taking rounds in the social media during March 2018 is attributed to a cover photo on a Malayalam magazine. Published from Kerala, the southernmost state in India, portrays a mother who is feeding her baby and has a tagline that says “Moms to Kerala: Don’t stare, we need to breastfeed”.

The girl in the picture is in fact a model who posed with the baby of a mother who was also present during the photoshoot. The big question that is trending now is, ‘Was she / magazine right in doing this’? There are quite a few supporters as well as critics for the assignment taken up by the young model.

The more I think about this debate, two words in Malayalam come to my mind. First one is ‘Pappam’ a term which babies use to denote the most natural feeding bottle available in the world. Second one is ‘Papam’ which means ‘sin’.

It is quite a strange situation that a simple organ in human body is looked at with such a wide spectrum of meanings. What is stranger is the fact that, sheer perception of human beings is what gives one the most innocent and an almost divine aspect whereas the other makes it an object that precipitates a state of a sin being committed that the society almost considers it a taboo!

A baby says ‘Pappam’ and look forward to the mother for quenching her hunger. The act by which the mother and baby becomes one again, is probably the only time after the umbilical cord gets severed. It is an experience something short of being one with God where you take part in sustenance of life on Earth!

The other side of debate borders around topics of sexuality and societal norms that demands women to cover their chest while feeding or otherwise. It is quite interesting to observe that not long ago, when caste system prevailed, there was a revolt in the state of Kerala among the lower castes fighting for their right to cover their chest!

Back to the big question, what is right? I doubt if we’ll ever get a single answer. What is the right thing to do when the same object is perceived by some as a symbol of selfless love and others as eternal icon of lust?

We’ve both sets of people around us and hence I think it is wise to leave it to the prudence of mothers to apply their judgement on what to do when they’ve to feed their little ones. You’ve a million pairs of eyes staring at your chest, of which some are of babies whereas others definitely not; both with an intention to satisfy hunger, with totally different perspectives!

Love your baby & stay safe!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Deputy of God!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Mar 2018

It was a few minutes past midnight on a cold and dark winter during January 2018. My two year old daughter woke up screaming ‘Amma’! She scrambled out of the bed and dashed towards the living room through the darkness, totally ignoring my attempts to pacify her. I switched on the light and it took a couple of minutes before she realized that we were still in the middle of the night. Fortunately I could calm her down and soon she was back on the bed sleeping peacefully through rest of the night.

This was just a beginning! One of the many incidents that made me realize that we’ve a very special person in our family, whose absence is too significant to be filled by anyone else. A few hours before the incident, I had dropped my sweetheart at the airport. She had to leave to India, alone, for an unavoidable trip for 3 days. With full confidence and days off from office planned, I took charge of our little ones, 6 year and 2 year old assuring her that everything will be alright. Little did I know what I was signing up for!

Our son had earlier showed signs of a developing cough and cold. It was as though the cold and cough were scared of the mother that soon after her flight took off, it broke all barriers. He was coughing and sneezing badly. I had initially planned to send him to school the next day, but with this, I decided otherwise. I couldn’t have imagined what I’ll end up with this decision.

I’ve two little monsters on the loose in a recently moved in house void of a very important person and there I was, like a man on a boat sailing on a seemingly peaceful river in an unexplored jungle with a blind turning ahead, beyond which awaits a steep waterfall to take me all the way to the rocky bottom into a mysterious abyss!

Next three days were filled with lots of incidents, some of which were thankfully managed and others where I felt like being driven to my wit’s end. I always thought and was even proud of myself that I am one of those husbands who helped their wives at home, the ones especially without a maid, so as to bring in an element of balance in the family. I was totally mistaken.

There have been multiple times during these three days when I stopped for a moment and wondered how in this world did my wife manage to do all these in a day?! All of a sudden I found myself attaining an enlightenment on the world of a ‘maid-less housewife with kids’ and the battles they’ve to fight on a daily basis while their spouses think that the petty issues they face in offices are nothing short of a World War.

I am now blessed with a completely renewed respect for such super humans who qualify for a title nothing short of ‘Deputy of God’. The amount of challenges they have to juggle around with are simply endless. This is something which others in the family will never get to know unless experienced first-hand.

It is quite natural for a lot of us to take our dear ones for granted. We’re not tuned to look at the daunting tasks each of our family members go through every day, especially the ones who choose to stay at home and look after the kids. This does not mean that the work done by the traditional bread-winners are less important. From the incident portrayed above, I would even strongly recommend every bread-winner in a family to go through such an experience which I’m quite sure will help you turn out to be better human beings and even result in a more loving family.

After what seemed like ages, finally the day came when the life of our family returned. We picked her up from the airport and as soon as we were all together back home, we gifted her with a beautiful picture frame where the letters read: “World’s Best Mom”!

Dedicating this to all loving mothers across our families and all those fathers who take an effort to appreciate these unsung heroes!

God bless. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

In loving memory…. Really?

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Feb 2018

In the last one month I have seen three deaths in my family almost one after the other. All three were uncles and aunts with whom I grew up and spent my childhood. When the news of their death was known, the first thing that came rushing to my mind was some of the good old memories I shared with them. Obviously the number of incidents I remembered with love, varied from person to person.

I would like to call the aunt who passed away, ‘the bond’ of the family. She was the one who worked as the glue between various families on my mother’s side. She was so good with her hospitality that most of us cousins never had a second thought of which house to visit when we get a vacation. A whole lot of fantastic memories associated with my childhood is in and around that house. My aunt was not just a wonderful host but also made sure that her kids, my elder cousins, also extended a warm welcome to each one of us every time!

One of the uncles who joined the good God, taught me some of the basics about humanity. He reinforced the thoughts in me about the importance of treating all people equal. I also learned the ‘joy of giving’ from him, through his various actions. He was a silent teacher where his actions spoke louder than his words.

The people I mentioned above are only a few among many who left us with nothing but a bunch of memories. There are others whom we don’t even recall for good or bad. What’s more important for each one of us will be this question, “Will you be a loving memory after you are long gone?”

We all know we are here in this world for a short period of time. During this time some of us are lucky enough to be born in good families and create ourselves good ones too. What will be interesting is to do an introspection and check if we’re really creating good memories about ourselves. The best way to do this is to check how we lived our life till date and see if anyone will find anything good about it if we became part of history today.

Think about everything that we do for our dear ones. Ask ourselves, is this enough? Is there a room for improvement? Many of us fail to understand the realities that surround us just because we’re not a party to it. As long as we don’t have a first-hand experience of the difficulties faced by our dear ones, our empathies don’t hold much value. It is quite a challenge to overcome some of the practices or habits we have cultivated over a period of time. This includes and is not limited to various behavioural patterns such as addictions, lethargy and indifference to name a few. All these in one way or other increase the suffering of our dear ones either at present or soon in future.

Addictions in all cases destroy both you and your family either directly or indirectly. You’ll be depriving your sweethearts their right to live. Addictions such as smoking and drinking directly kills you and thereby lets your family suffer. Others such as social media or gadgets’ addiction denies them the quality time you should be spending with them thereby shaking the very base of your relationship as a family. All these thoughts are applicable for each one of us throughout our lives and is not just a one off case at some point during our short stay here in this world.

So what’s required for creating good memories of yourself? Motivate yourself to lead a better life. No one has ever said it is easy to overcome addictions or lethargy. It requires a strong will. Accept the fact if you need help and take it before it is too late and do what is required to sustain the change. It will hardly help yourself or your family while you are connected by a bunch of wires in an ICU. Promise yourself to be a better human being and promise again not to cheat yourself and in turn your dear ones.

It requires a lot of courage and strength to create and sustain good memories about yourself. May the good God help you with showers of blessings to find that one motivating factor that will help you push forward to achieve a better life for you and your family!

God bless!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Demons from Heaven!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Jan 2018

I remember seeing an advertisement a few years back. A young father is shopping with his son in a supermarket. The little boy keeps a big packet of chocolates in the shopping cart. The father keeps it back. The son promptly returns the packet to the cart and stands there with his arms folded as if challenging his dad. The father keeps the packet again on the stands. The kid takes a deep breath and starts screaming on the top of his voice. The whole supermarket comes to a standstill and stares at the kid but even more at the dad. The ad ends with the face of a completely helpless dad with a caption showing the brand of a contraceptive urging the viewer to use it!

The above scene is not completely alien to us. We all must’ve seen or experienced similar scenes while shopping. There are quite a few couples in the world today who get influenced by the message passed on by such an advertisement and decide not to have kids in their lives. For them, kids are nothing but a nuisance or little devils. There are also a few couples who decide not to have a second child for the same reason or think that they have served their purpose as parents in this world by having one child. Ads like the one I mentioned above masks a complete spectrum about kids from the viewers. A prospective parent or a bride and groom to be who sees such an ad won’t see the other side of fence. Though having kids can be argued as a purely personal choice, here are some of the thoughts related to parenting.

Yes, kids can be demons at times, but they are demons from heaven! No kid in this world has ever asked their parents to bring them to this world. It is a choice that the parents make. Hence as parents it is not ethically correct for us to blame the kids for their behaviour which by itself is inherited from us or our ancestors.

One quite interesting fact which many of us don’t realise about parenting is that both the ‘parents’ and the ‘child’ share the same age, especially with the first child. A parent is born on the same day as the first child. Parenthood is a completely new experience for the couple who till that day didn’t experience a third person in their life. The magnitude of change that brings in with this new status in their life is huge, most often a bigger change than getting married itself! Obviously it will take a long time for anyone to get adjusted to such a change.

Your second child arrives and a magic happens! Without you even realizing it, you mature yourself as parents. You are no longer the same novice parents when you had your first child. Being more matured as parents equips you to handle the tantrums of kids better. What’s even more interesting and at times embarrassing is the truth some of us realize that you could’ve loved your first child even better if you’d known what a child really needs. It is very similar to getting experienced in a job that makes you do the job better than having no experience at all.

There is more to parenting than just the experience of being a parent. You will become better in managing finances since you’ve to now plan for additional member(s) in the family. Every other expense in life will now be multiplied with the number of kids you’ve. Decisions on careers many a times get influenced based on kids. Some of us stop working altogether whereas others have to shift jobs to ensure financial freedom and security. Without these little devils we would’ve just continued working where we were earlier. The choices you make on almost everything in life get influenced with kids. The movies you see, the cars you buy, the vacation you plan or even a simple decision as a restaurant to have dinner are just a few examples where kids directly or indirectly influence your decisions.

All these and more are nothing compared to the beautiful sight of your little ones hugging you dearly and sleeping peacefully looking forward for another bright and beautiful day where they can spent time with the God that they can see in this world, that’s none other than you!

Here is wishing you a beautiful parenting experience which is nothing short of being one with God.

Wish you all a very happy new year! God bless! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Licence to Love

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Dec 2017

One day during a casual walk I noticed an elderly couple coming from opposite direction. The husband was walking ahead in full stride with the wife slowly following him with a half drooping head. This picture reminded me of a common sight from yester years with respect to the bedroom arrangement for a couple. You may have even seen this in some of the movies from the past as well. There will be a bed which is used by the husband whereas the wife either sleeps on a mat on the floor or on another bed placed separately from husband’s bed.

Those were the times when there were clearly marked boundaries for expressing your love towards your sweetheart. Times have changed and life now zips through a fast lane where new trends get set with the blink of an eye. Even in such a jet setting time we still have people around us who believe in limiting the display of love to the person they chose to share their life with!

A lot has to do with how history influences us with respect to how we express our love to dear ones. Before the colonial era people living in the present day India used to have an absolutely free way of disclosing their love. With colonisation quite a few constraints came into place and we being a product of such a constrained society, continue to follow most of these customs even today. Hence many such acts including an innocent kiss or a hug or an embrace is considered as taboo or non-acceptable in most part of Indian society till date.

Being afraid of these social norms, a lot of us restrict ourselves from truly sharing the emotions we carry deep inside, even to the ones with whom we are licenced to love. Ask yourselves these questions. Do I knowingly or unknowingly stop myself from expressing my love to my better half? Do I ever think that I need to express only this much love towards him or her? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions probably it is time that you start thinking about a change that you need to bring in your life.

We live in 21st century now and who is stopping you from displaying your genuine love towards your loved one? Why do we need to still adhere to the rules from colonial era that stops us from opening up our hearts and let the most significant other in your life know how much you love them?

We all live in a time when we dedicate ourselves more towards the social media that revolves around us than those innocent souls that long for us. We make it a point to post in Facebook about our recently acquired model of phone, but find it odd to acknowledge our love for dear ones on a special day. We shout from our roof tops about the recent movie we’ve watched but find it difficult to even whisper in the ears of our better half how much we love them.

Let us wake up and realize that the world is in need of much more love than what it gets today. The moment you exhibit your love for your dear ones you are sending a positive note especially to the little ones in your family about the need for love and care. This is the only way we empower them and the next generation to realize the value of love to make the world a better place to live. Teach them the need to love and that too unconditionally. Share with them stories of care and compassion so that when they grow up they too will spread the wings of love for those who are in need.

May the social taboos not stop you! May you be able to open up and make yourself believe in the power of love! Realize that through holy matrimony you are even more empowered with a license to love. Let that be the guiding force that motivates you further not to hold back but to embrace the need of this world to experience candid love.

Love as much as you can because you'll never know till when you are given time in this world to love and be loved.

God bless!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Multi-million lottery!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Nov 2017

“Getting a good partner is like winning a lottery. Ensure that you pray really hard to win such a lottery”. I remember my mom advising me long back about the importance of prayer to win the greatest lottery in life! Looking back after being married for almost 8 years I totally agree with my mom. I would like to make a significant addition to her statement though. It is not just enough to win the lottery but is equally important that you win it every day of your life and keep praying for this to happen.

There is a major difference between someone who wins a regular lottery as against a person who wins the ‘matrimonial lottery’. The first one becomes rich overnight whereas the next one will become rich over a period of time, only if he or she works on it. If you choose not to work on your matrimonial lottery you might end up in the same boat as the guy who won a multi-million lottery one day but lost the ticket the next day!

Here are some of the tips that may help you win the lottery in married life. As the case always is, there is no concept of ‘one-size-fit-for-all’ in marriages. Hence you need to find what works out well for you and design your winning strategy accordingly.

Listening Vs Hearing: Listen to your spouse and you are an instant lottery winner! Ensure that you focus your full attention when your dear ones speak to you. If you are doing something really critical do inform them about it but more importantly tell them what time will you be able to have the conversation they wanted to have and remember to have it. Listening is an active task whereas hearing is merely passive.

Honesty: This is one skill that is important in all walks of life, more so in marriage. The moment you say ‘I do’ you are promising each other to share your life in all its honesty. Think about this. If you are all alone in a room and facing the mirror, will you ever be able to tell a lie to your reflection that you see on the mirror? Let us remind ourselves that our spouse is our reflection in a married life. Hence for you to look good in the mirror ensure that you are honest to yourself and your spouse. Who knows, you may even stand a chance to double the prize money of your lottery with this!

Teamwork: There is hardly a substitute for this, being a husband and wife. The most beautiful families are where the partners work as a team. There is enough and more to do in a family on a regular basis. Short, mid and long term plans keep driving the life forward. The only way you could ensure happiness of achieving these goals are by holding the hands together and helping each other. The moment you decide to do things your own way, you risk the possibility of losing the lottery ticket.

Prayer Power: This is the closest we’ll get to experience the supernatural power in our family that drives the whole universe. These are the days when each one of us are quite busy in our own worlds carrying out significant tasks, at least that’s what we think ourselves. The time spent together for prayer is when you bring a synergy in everyone. Nothing short of miracles will happen in our lives the moment we decide to spent time together to pray. This by itself, needless to say, is winning a lottery!

Love: A simple four letter word. We can’t possibly imagine the power that this word holds within. It is an all-encompassing feeling that can be stated as the glue that connects everyone in the family. Learn and remind ourselves to apply this feeling in everything we do daily. Believe it or not, this is something we forget accidently or conveniently a few years into married life. This is even more significant with your family getting bigger with kids taking up a considerable part of your time.

What I’ve listed above are just a few sample tips. Give yourselves some time to think about these. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to come up with hundreds more like these which will enable you to win that multi-million lottery every other day. Keep in your mind that this is one lottery that brings you luck only if you work for it.

May the good God bless you to figure out the ways to win the matrimonial lottery and more importantly to keep winning every other day in your life! 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Chamber of Secrets

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Oct 2017

I remember reading a story about how two people saw a dead dog on their way back home and described the scene to their spouse. The first one said, “I saw a dead dog today. The dog must have got run over by a car that its eyes were bulged out and the corpse had blood all over which had an intolerable stench as well.” The second one said, “I saw a dead dog today. You should see its mouth that was wide open. What a beautiful set of teeth it had!”

It is quite short a story but one which conveys volumes about perceptions. The way people perceive the same incident and more importantly the way these people influence others with their description. I’m sure you can easily imagine the facial expression of the first spouse in the story as against the second one. Who do you think felt better listening to the story of a dead dog?

The situation is not entirely different in many of our families too. We all have our own families where a lot of incidents happen on a daily basis. Many of us have the practice of sharing these incidents with our relatives and friends. Just bear in mind the story you just read and imagine the perception you create among the people with whom you share incidents that happen in your family.

We need to realise the definition of ‘family’ while deciding on what to share and what not to. You, your spouse and your kids form your immediate family. Your parents, siblings and their families form your extended family. Anyone other than this, is beyond your extended family.

It is quite natural that negative emotions get registered with people faster and it is quite easy to form opinions based on these compared to the positive ones. Hence the moment you share an incident or a story about a dear one in your family, keep in mind that you are creating a perception in the listener about your dear one. Negative perceptions are easily created and lasted than their positive counterparts.

The person with whom you’ve shared the incident will further think about it with their own perception. If it is a problem, they’ll try to either provide you with their version of solution or may even share this further with their extended family. We need to keep in mind that there are quite a few things in our lives that we need not necessarily share with everyone around us. There has to be a chamber of secrets in every family that needs to stay within the four walls of the family. There should be an honest attempt to resolve issues within the family first. The moment you open the doors to your chamber of secrets, it ceases to be your personal problem to solve. Though there are times when this may lead to solutions, there could be others that opens a whole can of worms.

What could pretty much be resolved between a husband and a wife should ideally be achieved that way. The moment you bring in parents, relatives or friends into a private issue, things could get complicated. You’ll never be able to really predict how either of the affected party will react to the situation. It may even get out of your hands and you’ll totally regret why you even bothered to involve a third person. We need to remind ourselves that if one solution didn’t work we should attempt an alternate one. If and only if you’ve hit a hard wall, try reaching out for helping hands.

If you are one such person who can’t live without sharing your life with others, ensure that you not only share the challenges you face about a dear one but also project the good deeds done by them. At least this will help in creating a balanced perception among others. Else it’ll be like driving through a one-way lane. It is quite natural that people will never get the complete picture of the challenge since the picture you paint in front of them is all what they probably see. They’ll most likely never get to know the other side of the canvas. 

It is important to share. It is more important to know what to share, when to share and with whom to share. May you be blessed with the prudence to maintain the chamber of secrets in your family and the wisdom to know when to open it up for others!

God bless.  

Pappam or Papam?

One of the most recent debates that is taking rounds in the social media during March 2018 is attributed to a cover photo on a Malayalam m...