Iam neither a saint nor a thief, neither a follower nor a preacher. I am just me. I may have sinful thoughts at times, I may even be grateful to people for their good deeds. I am a person. Just living the path and going with the wind. The journey had been full of twists and turns. All the hardships may not be fruitful but have to keep going. And we must keep on the journey.
Embracing the new year with whatever and however it comes. No resolution. No plans. The Goodwill and being grounded is the only motto this year. That I bow to the Earth and to the Sun for the energy and light. That I be privileged to unprivilege myself for the under privileged. That I be powerful to unpower myself for the slums.
11th June is the most sad and tearful day of my life. It came as Tsunami and washed away all my strength and the teachings I have instilled in my child. I have tried to pen down my feelings several times but never had the courage to. I lost my son who was arevenound 20 years of age on 11th June 1992. He was 6 feet tall and we used to share our shoes. His black hair used to fall on his broad forehead. He was muscular and looked quite handsome than any other young boy of his age.
Since his absence, I have found myself in a whirlpool in which the waves of thoughts and blames from society make me spin around. The guilt feeling of not able to survive him suffocates me so much that I am not able to breathe even sometimes. On every 11th June, a process starts. A process of failed parenting, a process of seeing his death in my hands and that process I feel being dead slowly too- a process of unliving every moment while you are alive. I have been dying every moment since then, dear Anirudh. I can’t explain how the behavior and attitude of people change. The satire by people give the feeling of being razed head to toe. The path since 1992 is leading me onto such a journey which is full of cactus all around. There had been no celebrations so far. The purchasing of clothes is no fun at all too. I do make efforts to get out of the mourning. But as much as I try, I find myself more dipped and dragged into it.
It was a dark and unfortunate day full of storm. The storm was so dreadful that it not only washed away all joys of our life but also converted the day ( our life) into night (darkness). The place called Islam Ganj used to be a lively place. Kids used to play all kinds of street games. Oldies used to have their leisure time chit chatting sessions along with listening to Radio, street hawkers used to urge public through their singing skills. That day, the scene was horrible. The dreadful storm had washed away all our hopes. The street (our life) was dull and empty.
11th June converted the father’s day into a never ending moment of life. I had heard it somewhere
‘Sometimes life passes away in a moment, Sometimes one moment of life does not pass away not pass away even’
So, the life of the father has cling to that day although he didn’t pause anyone else’s life.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” –Mark Twain
It is bothering me that I don’t bleed anymore. The monthly circulation system which had homed my body for last twenty five years is no more. Now, should I say “Rest in peace” and let it go. But my mind isn’t accepting the change. Although my body kept reminding me that it is about to go.
The time it entered my body, I had staring looks. Our Indian culture doesn’t allow us to talk about these things and are kept secretive. Acceptance was not easy at that time as well. It pained and bled a lot. The suffering was unbearable. I was not to touch any kitchen utensils in those days and neither was I allowed to go to temple or go in the room which had a mini temple at home too. I was told to remain conscious when I sit and walk. The talk to boys or males be it your father or brother had to be ceased and that was the major part of counseling. Leaving all the psychological problems, I started enjoying the bleeding days by the age of sixteen. Maybe because by the time I knew that this gives me the ability to give birth to another organism and makes me look beautiful. I had a perfect curvy body.
But the withdrawal part is unacceptable at all. The strength it has given to my body is leading to weakness. The bones have become weaker. I apply homemade oil, sometimes branded oils too specifically on my knees. I feel insecure at times about my facial beauty too. My body and face curves are going away. My abdomen has become bulgy too.The body fat doesn’t allow me wear my previous kept loveable clothes collection.
I don’t want to feel low. I don’t want to struggle with ‘to be or not to be’. I am practicing yoga daily. Nowadays, I am even doing power yoga, which keeps me energized. I go for walk till the Majestic Taj. I am extra careful about the diet too. I keep telling myself it’s okay but, God, it’s not okay at all. You have been partial to us- the women. I have found ways to cure and cover up myself from menopause but rest of us are at mercy…
life has many flavors. It takes you on a roller coaster ride where you run up and down, tremble, shaken and get flattened too. It just comes with a tag ” ‘smile while you ride’ as you have no choice but be on the right hand side'”. Crying over tough or adverse phases does not help you. Just like average human beings on this Earth, I am an average person on this Earth. Even and odds have always been an integral part of my life.
It has been said by my mother that life means keep going and keep struggling. “chalti ka naam hi hai zindagi”. If you stop struggling means you stop living. She said those words when I was depressed and kind of tired of the struggling life. I have always been a giver and love to be so. There are times, when I am not able to serve others through my education or money, I feel deactivated and hapless. The words of my mother energized me a bit. I pondered over the words and gave it a thought. Summarizing, life and struggle are directly proportional to each other. The more you struggle, the better you know it. The Past is gone and I am really unaware what the future will be. So why am I thinking what I have done and will there be sufferings in the future. I should live in present. So what if I have struggled in the past, maybe life wanted me to. Maybe I am born to struggle. God might have decided this for me. When he writes our luck, he might be intending something and it might be our inner strength which he has put and he is just testing it out. I should not fail and prove him wrong. So, get up Shilpa, Just live the present and play the innings of life as it comes. The path of the ball will be automatically clear once shot. Remember to shoot it with full force and confidence.
I even recalled a story my father used to tell when I was small.’ I used to fall sick quite often and hence my attendance in school was low. Your grandparents used to be worried. Once a palmist saw my hand in my childhood and told me that there is no line of education in your hand. But I was fond of reading and language. You see today I am MA, P Hd. in Hindi language and I have bagged many national level prizes for my work to literature. We make our lines in our hands by ourselves. Our luck is somewhat in our hands too. Hard work and determination can change the pattern of lines in your hands.’ This story always used to inspire me in my childhood. Recalling it has helped me again. Hence, I will keep struggling mumma and papa till i breathe and will try to be on the right hand side…
It was cold Sunday morning of December month of 2018. Me and my soul sister Atmiye Iram had planned to cover our programs Shiksha. We went to a school being run by group of youngsters for the under privileged by the name of “Meri Pathshala”. We reached there on time. The students were already present there in a good mood and in good number .ie. 30. The curious and smiling faces of kids gave us a sigh of relief. Earlier we had odd thoughts in the mind whether the children will be there or not, whether they will even give an ear to us, whether they will come in this cold weather or not but the delighted presence of students in a disciplined arrangement of rows and columns and a note on a slate as “Welcome team Guftgu” made us feel welcomed and relaxed. Mr. Nitesh Agarwal , one of the mentors was also there.
Mr. Nitesh as I will frame into words, is just like a father bird who pushes its child out of the nest to let it fly And stands on the back as a support. The team Meri Pathshala is also doing such work. The students’ creativity is being enhanced through different interactive activities like story telling sessions, debates and singing etc. The proceeding of our meeting started. Mr. Nitesh introduced us to the kids. We also told the students about our NGO and our motive of coming there. We had planned the discussion session, art session “Rang” by Mr. Kaushik Tayagi , story telling by Bhavna Kuntal, Guitar session by Mr. Asim bhai and Flute session by Mr. Anal Jha. It all started with the story telling by students. The barefooted students had a different glare in their eyes when they heard about our program.
First came Akashi who told a story in which she and her friends are going in a boat ride. While they were enjoying the ride, it broke into two parts. The climax is that they didn’t know how to swim.Suddenly they found a log in the water with which support they managed to come out of the river. As per Yeeshu, a chubby boy, there was a newness in his story. One day he got up with some magical powers. He used to become whatever he used to eat. If he ate tomato, he became a tomato. Seeing a tomato running here and there, monkeys came after him. Then to escape himself from monkeys, he ate a carrot. Eating carrot turned him into a carrot. A Rabbit felt tempted to eat the carrot. To save his life from the rabit, he ate another thing. This way, he kept eating several things in order to escape. He got tired in this eat and escape race. He wanted to come back into his real avatar. But he didn’t know how to. An idea clicked his mind. He ate his photo and hence turned himself into himself. He loved to back into his real avatar.
Then came Anubhav, a smart petite boy. He told us a story in which he used to make fake chocolates which had electric currents on touch. Once he himself touched it by mistake and faced the same current. He realized his mistake and discarded the fake chocolate.The session continued with the folk songs, motivational songs by the kiddos. Two girls also did mimicry of the act from a famous comic serial “Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain”. The time spent was so encouraging,amusing and positive that we and students got actively engaged. Meanwhile, our team member Bhavna also told a story of Bhasmasur followed by a motivational song singing by Anal Jha.
The guitar and flute sessions of Mr. Anal and Mr. Asim were like cherry on the cake. Mr. Kaushik opened the colour boxes and a blank canvas among students. We told them to paint their feelings on the canvas. At first, two –three kids came forward and painted a peacock in the centre, the entrance of Meri Pathshala on one side and it continued with variety of ideas and blend of colors. I noticed few students only chose dark colors. The flute and guitar kept doing their mesmerizing roles. The environment was full of zeal and enthusiasm.
We left from there although neither of us wanted to leave. While coming home, I realized that although they have blackish white fabric walls and no white smart screen, cotton mats and no wooden or fancy desks to sit, running water taps and no filtered water, strong knowledge and no WIFI but their creativity and imagination skills have no bounds. Education has different meanings there and I was proud to meet them. I wish that our education system or the syllabus needs to be less book-oriented and more creativity-oriented.
A well composed write-up! We are trained to be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh from the day we were born. The height of our stupidity is that we even discriminate plants and animals as per religions too. Hindus Vedas told to respect Tulsi Maa or Neem tree as our ancetors knew that we may ill treat nature later on and hence the poojas or cermonies are linked to them. But we patronize things. Same philosophy is with other religions too. The time few changes were made are not relevant in today’s scenario but we act like religious fools and keep doing silly things.
Instead of meeting me as whom they are, I often meet a person which is deeply trying to be a good Hindu, good Muslim, good Jew, good Christian, good Sikh, good nationalist, communist, Buddhist etc… Because somewhere, somebody in your childhood scripted you with a fear that you’re not enough as you are. Before you even understood about your choices, your distinct features, Your unique qualities you’re told that you’re Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist, etc… etc… as if you’re here to be someone and if you’ll not follow it you’ll face tantrums of others. They’ll hate you because you don’t follow certain traditions and norms, because they too are forced to do it and if you want a good image among these people,you should also follow this. One thing to laugh here is; each one of us carry this fear. We’re told that community will not accept you, it goes…
Dheeraj Katara is a wildlife photographer and Travel Photographer who hails from the love city – Agra. Dheeraj belongs to a noble family and had a childhood full of love and care for nature. So, nature love was a part of informal education given at home from his parents. When he was young, he and his father used to go for nature walk. He pursued his affection for nature and birds in formal education too and did post graduation in Biotech. Currently, he is working as a Research Scholar at NJIL & OMD, Agra.Continue reading Travographer- Dheeraj Katara