BOP!

And life as I know it has just come to a STOP.

I’m pregnant.

Unplanned, unexpected.

Mood swings.

Dark swathes of depression during the witching hours, is this me? Am I ready for it? Is this my body? Does anyone care?

Euphoria.

Wow, so I finally did it (note I don’t say we).

This is it.

Life as I know it has changed.

And I’m still struggling to come to terms with it.

No more impulsive holidays with just a backpack

No more long drives

No late night meetings

No dances or dandiyas

Pigmentation marks. Acne. Scaly skin. Dandruff. Swollen Face. Fatigue.

And I can’t drink, smoke grass, watch horror flicks, get into fights to chase away these blues.

I’m beginning to resemble a tuber and a rotten one at that.

My stilletoes are out.

Flat shoes keep my swollen feet from getting more swollen.

And heh, guess what?!  I just can’t complain.

After all how many get to be a mother.

With a shelf life nearing expiry and alarming stats (A woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute – about 529,000 each year — the vast majority of them in developing countries not to mention miscarriage, genetic abnormalities, and so on and so forth)

Last count the world’s population was nipping at  1.14% per year, about 133 million babies born each year (123 million and counting this year) and my baby (when it hops out) will be one in the count.

I should count myself lucky, they say….

Excercise

Eat well

Eat for 2

Eat 300 calories more

And don’t worry the nausea stops

You will get the pregnancy glow

You won’t look like a well-fed sow or cow (choose your bovine)

ENJOY

The morning sickness be damned

The pretty 30-year old neighbour who looks 16 to the jaundiced eye be damned

The gym going other half be damned

The well meaning aunty with the religious texts be damned

As I labour along, the whole world be damned!

Let me wallow in my misery, bask in the miracle of having a child inside, delight in the wonder of how the body changes, frown at the well-meaning platitudes, sulk at not being able to fit in (anywhere) anymore…..

After all I get to be pregnant but once!

Unless of course my body thinks it is an assembly line and the next one is in production……

The Exiled Prince

Back in the days when we had only Doordarshan, television was a weekend treat filled with:  Star Trek, the Enterprise starring Capt. Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Starship enterprise crew; Mickey Mouse cartoons in black & white; Vinod Dua and Prannoy Roy debating it up if it was election time and none of that ‘The Nation Wants to Know’ crap either; Indradhanush; Surabhi; Nukkad; The Old Fox; Target; Didi’s non-stop nonsense; several other Transtel-broadcasts that I can’t even remember except for the Transtel logo and all those feel-good serials not to forget the educative regional language movies on Sunday afternoon complete with subtitles. Here is where I discovered the beauty of Indian cinema, folklore, celebrated authors and unbelievable directors and casting crew. Kathasagar with its haunting music, and it haunts me even today, was good week day viewing if one’s parents deemed it right.

My mosima (nani/grandma) who was never a telly buff all of a sudden began wrapping up work early on Sundays. And this meant she woke up at 4.30 in the morning to make breakfast, the day’s non-vegetarian repast and a light snack. Waking up at this witching hour was worth all her while since a new phenomenon had just struck Doordarshan.

She went into raptures as she saw the handsome prince with his sober voice and the beautiful and dignified princess who later became the queen transport her into the realms of mythology meeting divinity. Ravindra Jain’s melodious voice sent her into raptures as she wiped her hands on her cotton saree and sat down in front of our Uptron TV to watch the RAMAYAN. The Story of the Exiled Prince replete with moralistic tome and values that define mankind was so enthralling that I remember her breaking a coconut when Arun Govil in his Ram avatar graced the telly. Such was the adoration that Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan wrought on devout viewers. According to statistics this was the longest running Telly Series at that point and had more than 100 million faithful followers. Twitter that!!

Ever since, the Ramayan has always been Arun Govil and Deepika as Ram and Sita. Though I did not appreciate the Ramayan but increasingly became rather more fascinated by Dara Singh as Hanuman and the pyrotechnics that Indian television industry was capable of the story never rang true in later years when I repeatedly, and at near-bodily harm, questioned Rama’s pose as the Maryaada Purushotham. How can a man who is willing to test his wife at the behest of a washerman (dhobi) be a Maryaada Purushotham I questioned by mum only to be rapped soundly on the head with a ladle.

In later years, I read CR’s Ramayan and liked the central character even less while my fondness for Ravana grew slowly but surely. Call me the misguided, misplaced 21st century feminist but for me Ravana represented more of a Purush (man), and a Uttam (superior) one at that!!

I stopped reading the Ramayan by choice though I had to read it at intervals thanks to some moral science and language classes.

Would there ever be a better version of the Ramayan and will some one dare spin a modern take on it I wondered?

To my pleasant surprise I have come across several.

Even more surprisingly the Exiled Prince may get a futuristic treatment if the opening chapters of the Crystal Guardian is anything to go by where the mystery of the Crystal that has been guarded closely for eons is about to be unveiled. Rama is the warrior prince who will embark on an epic journey to find the Crystal of Creation which may change the destiny of human lives for ever.

I hope the book lives up to the precursor I had the opportunity to read. The Exiled Prince may hit the stores sometime before the end of the year.

I’m not very sure if my mosima would have liked the Indiana Jones meets Star Wars new-age Ramayan , but my 13-year old niece to whom I read excerpts of the book can’t wait to read the rest of it.

Abuse of Power – I

Never thought I would touch this touchy topic but a few weird (co)incidences over the past few days had me scurrying to my keyboard before I lose the train of thought or drive. SO here it is.

Instance 1: Evening visit to a nearby temple saw me warily glare at the temple priest who caressed the cheeks of all the bonny girl babies, and not the lil’ boys making me wonder why. Mothers smiled on indulgently while the lil’ kids tried hiding behind the dupatta or the palloo. The discomfort in some cases reminded me of the pedophilia scandal that has rocked the papacy.

Instance 2: This TIME article on abuse.

Instance 3: A debate with a good friend/colleague who has a eleven-year old on the parenting riddle. How strict is strict? How can you restrict Internet usage/police kids without alienating them? How much information is too much?

Following these episodes were several other hapchance conversations and incidents that finally led me to this post. Sexual abuse is so common and widespread and yet few dare to voice their thoughts or write about this still-taboo topic. Abuse in any form is vile, but abusing an innocent mind and violating their childhood is the worse form of abuse.

Abuse of Power vs Abuse of Trust. Aren’t they one and the same?! When a person in power abuses or violates you physically/emotionally/psychologically (s)he is abusing your trust. It is as simple as that.

Lunch table conversations with female friends/colleagues broach the topic but when men are around the topic is skirted around. Why? Yet, over the years male buddies/acquaintances have shared instances of abuse so this is one area which is free of gender bias.

Earlier days, a joint family set up to some extent protected kids, and in certain instances propagated abuse. It is always a well-known devil who sullies and loots more than a stranger. Some pointers I have gathered from conversations with various folks:

  • Make the child aware of a good and bad touch
  • Let them know it is OK to speak out, even if against family members
  • HEAR them out before you close your mind or ears to what they say
  • Learn to read their body language and watch out for changes in behaviour
  • Sex education is important
  • Remember to TEACH boys to respect girls and Girls to respect themselves
  • Give them more control

I remember the fight our school authorities had to put up to introduce a module on sex education. Some parents even threatened to pull their kids out. These days though the pervasive nature of the Internet and satellite television means kids are aware of sex long before they reach puberty. Social media is the latest challenge parents are learning to cope with, in particular platforms like Orkut.

A wise friend shared this: Her 14-yr daughter insisted on having an Orkut account because everyone in her class did, and the school-leaving seniors wanted to add her on their ‘Friends’ list. No amount of playing the strict disciplinarian helped. The kid had Internet access at school, which was not having porn-filters or blocked/restricted access. This lady offered to open the Orkut account on condition that the child be aware of online dangers and issued some safeguards:

  1. Do not chat online with strangers
  2. Do not post/share personal information especially phone numbers, photos, residence address, school address and other details
  3. Restricted time on the Net
  4. Do not invite/accept invitations from people you do not know
  5. Finally, to drive home her point she showed/illustrated the lil’ girl with instances of kids becoming prey to pedophiles and how the virtual world can steal your real identity if used by the wrong people.

I came across TULIR during one of my story-hunting expeditions a few years back. Though unrelated to what I was looking for at the time, I have since supported their cause and this is an attempt to make more people aware of and accept that the evil of Sexual Abuse is very much there, and it is up to us to protect our young, and old so Life as it is meant to be can be cherished and LIVED…….. please do share your thoughts.