Posted in Food For Soul

Decoding Dharma – 1: Jeev Samadhis – A Brief Glance

I am seeing more videos on Sadhguru’s personal life which I don’t like. I don’t want to know of his background.

For years, I too misunderstood this man. When he was writing this column, ‘athanaikkum aasai padu’ (desire for everything), i was in no mood to read it in the Tamil weekly. Besides, i was young and too much was happening in my life too, though not always pleasant. But many of his followers found him around that time. He wrote in the name of Jaggi Vasudev. Before even i read him, i had judged him as ‘one of those gurus.’ Its a pity that i similarly missed the Tamil author Balakumaran. With a stubbornness i refused to read both that i now regret. May be had i read them a lot earlier, I would be a different being now.

Even after Sadhguru became popular, I steadfastly refused to hear him out. I finally found the ‘Sounds of Isha’ to my liking. I must say the Maha Shivrathri festival in Coimbatore drew me to his brand of spirituality. Also the last straw was my recent visit to Isha where I saw for myself the immensity of his visions that broke my resolve of not accepting anyone for a guru. I am now a changed one in many ways.

I have questioned in very old blog posts of mine years back, why those like Sadhguru are not ready to attain Jeev Samadhi. I have also mentioned of rumours about his wife’s passing. Now I understand better and I need no more explanation. No need I feel, for Sadhguru to explain himself to people something that will never be understood by them. For one thing, like me in past, they may cling to this adamant attitude. Secondly, people tend to  like dwelling in such petty world where demonizing others can give them a cheap thrill. Thirdly, that is their level of spiritual perception. I trust. Believers trust. Trust is the basis for laying a strong foundation for anything worthwhile. Prana Pradhishta – i heard about it. It is inconceivable for most and undoable, but then I believe, to those with highest levels of spiritual maturing, yes, this is possible. These dimensions of spirituality cannot even be imaginable for most of the human race.

Only a Hindu/Buddhist/Jain can even perceive what this is. You have to live this culture, you have to live in this Punya Bhoomi to grasp such a concept. Jains in India do not even eat root vegetables like potato for instance because roots are life carriers. Extreme spirituality makes some Hindu sadhus live as nude ‘aghoris’ feeding on only the dead in the cremation grounds that are wasted already – not those that can flourish. Hindu sadhus’ penance without eating food for years, drinking water for years, standing on head for years  (this tribe has almost dried up today) is unthinkable, unimaginable to most others especially the Abrahamics. These are people who have fought crusades and jehads to lay siege over nations and communities and convert them. We can have nothing in common with them. Hindu Gods are not for sale, and not products for marketing. The way we know ‘eastern philosophy’ – the Abrahamics have no notion about and can never discover within their narrow limited realm. Their mission is to propagate, improve their statistics, count more heads for the flock, nothing more. Acquisition is to Abrahamics what renunciation is to Sanathana Dharmis (Hindus). Jesus reportedly asked his followers to go in pairs of twos to spread the gospel and increase their tribe … can you imagine this with Hindu Gods. Thanks a million I am a Hindu and in all my rebirths I pray to be reborn a Hindu.

Coming from Tamil Nadu where most ancient Hindu temples were raised over ‘Siddha peetams’ I can somewhat understand even if at grass roots level, the concept of samadhis or attaining Moksha or Liberation. Now this is a term never to be used by Abrahamics. Things are only black and white for them: heaven or hell. The soul attaining liberation, freeing itself from birth cycle, elevating itself to higher spheres is a concept beyond their organized religious understanding. Temples in south India were always consecrated over Jeeva Siddha samadhis. Even the one in my street is a Siddha peetam. The presiding deity Shiva sits as Shiva Lingam over the Siddha peetam. We worship the Siddha who gave up His life for holding Shiva over Him. Such is the Sanathana Dharma. We give up life – shed life voluntarily. We are the last to take others lives. Which is why most of us are vegetarian. No Hindu butchers in entire India mostly. No Hindu-run butcheries. Maximum fish seller, that is it .

Similarly Jains in India until today leave their material attachments on inner calling anytime and renounce the worldly life to attain Nirvana. A family of four, millionaires, father, mother, two teenage children did it in south India only months back. Jains fast for days endless even now and leave their physical bodies. Fasting unto death. Normal, average people, not necessarily monks. Once their family duties are over, they choose to leave earth and attain Nirvana voluntarily shedding their physicality. However, they may not always get to choose their moment as they reach this level without much deliberation or mental preparedness unlike Sadhus who foresee it all and plan for months or even years beforehand. Swami Vivekanand did it reportedly.  He decided to willfully shed his physicality at a preordinated time that he hinted to his disciples. Just like that. However this is not Jeev Samadhi. From what I understand, it is just that the physical body that is a receptacle becomes too confining for their exploding levels of spirituality that they these ‘mahapurush’ decide to shed it to go to their next levels.

Ramanuja, Aurobindo and many other saints in India attained Jeev Samadhis. In some countries this may be called suicide. Not in India. This is the way we have lived for millennia. Thanks Sadhguru for highlighting what we have been forgetting for centuries.

A friend was similarly telling me once how her great grand mother chose to die on a particular date and time, having fulfilled her familial duties. The old mother was too very spiritual and had become detached for years. She shed her body at a time of her choosing with family’s consent. Not suicide. Just like that, at the predisclosed time her soul left her body. Yes, our people have done that. Our ancestors. The most enlightened among them. If we cannot do it today, it is because we are materialistic. We have bonds that we do not want to break.

‘Koodu vittu koodu paaidhal’ – this is called in Tamil. Old Tamil/Hindi pictures had such scenes pictured. This is what the picture ‘Avatar’ is all about – Avatar of course is a Sanskrit word. The story is a beautiful make-over of the very ancient Hindu concept of reincarnation. Your soul can leave your body at your will – ancient Hindus did that reportedly (not all) but this, as i’ve reiterated, necessitates highest level of spirituality. This is where meditation helps in. And this is where precisely Yoga fits in. Yoga is just a tool to work with – like basic a,b,c for mind/body control. From here, you start your schooling. You don’t need to hallucinate popping up hashish to reach these levels of detachment or spiritual elevation. This is extreme mind control. Those who have have graduated upto transcendental meditation will agree. What we have to master is something larger than ‘pulan adakkam’ as we call it in Tamil. Control over our five senses as first step. Sadly, very few humans now are capable of these feat.

Spiritually every Hindu is inclined to go that way although not all of us have it in us to seek truth, or go in pursuit of truth the way our forefathers did. Nothing to us is coincidence. I have had numerous occasions in the past where I have had reasons to believe that there were some ‘signs.’ Signs that could be spotted and recognized. Divine interventions. It is useless trying to explain such profound heartfelt things to an Abrahamic or Atheist. I don’t even attempt. It is enough if we know and believe deep down our heart. We know this is no hallucination or brainwashing or fanciful imagination.

However, I am not yet ready to accept anyone as my guru. But Sadhguru helps a lot. Happy with this degree of spirituality of mine. I am a samsari. I want to pet my grandchildren someday. I want to shop and dress up and indulge in normal pleasures of life. Not ready for anything more. At the same time, I feel a reckoning in me like i’ve never felt in my life before. It is like, for the first time ever I sense, I am ready to go if my time has to arrive even this very moment. My son can take care of himself. Only one bandhan can stop me: that of my husband. He is someone who cannot live without me. Other than that, i have no other strappings to bind me to life even though to others i may appear very average – the typical shopping-chatting-gossiping housewife who does not more. That’s why i can understand about Sadhguru’s wife. I am at the base or entry level of the spiritual pyramid. If i feel that i am okay to leave given my modest quotient of spirituality, i can imagine what others in the highest levels of enlightenment may feel like. Of course God willing, I want to be there to pet my grandchildren someday – alongwith  my husband. It is a wish. It is not in my hands – nothing is.

I continue my rituals of Puja at home and visit temples as much as I can – i am glad in Isha they do not downplay the regular rituals like some gurus do for instance. I am comfortable with whatever rituals we follow in our family. I am adapted to them since my childhood.

In Tamil they say, ‘kaacha maram thaan kalladi padum.’ The tree that springs fruits will have to face the stones. If there is no fruit in a tree, who is going to stone it.

Yes, of course, I am passionate about elephants. That still aches my heart a bit. But I am sure the elephants will find their way around. From what I heard, it is the christian group Karunya institutions who have taken over forest lands illegally. I have friends based in Coimbatore who swear of it and they have no reason to lie. Besides, it is public knowledge.

We are not building Hindu temples or championing for Hindu dharma in America or Africa or Australia or Europe. We want Hindu dharma to flourish and not die in our own dharmic Hindu country where it has its roots. The propagation of Abrahamic fold in India MUST STOP. If there are Hindu temples today around the world, they were not raised on conversion background. Many westerners and even far easterners embrace Sanathana Dharma (Hinduism) on discovering the true meaning and depth of our philosophies.

I would like to make more visits to Isha. Meanwhile, happy to listen to Sadhgur in You Tube. His service brings tears to my eyes. I am very emotional. That is the greatest impediment for me for moving to my next level of spirituality. I am still materialistic and not able to break that jinx. I won’t force anything down my throat but i shall try (as i do now without success). Let me see.

Meanwhile, I am glad India still produces such great visionaries and mystics. Their service to not only Hindus but entire humanity is immeasurable. I am glad i finally found my way. Better late than never.

Posted in Lateral Thinking

பாலசந்தர் கண்ட புதுமைப்பெண்

Ilakkanam maarudho? Ilakkiyam aanadho?…. this post is dedicated to my girl friends from the 80s who define the incomparable Kannadasan verse in everyway.

பாரதி கண்ட புதுமை பெண் கேள்வி பட்டிருப்பீர். ஆனால் யார் இந்த பாலசந்தர் கண்ட புதுமை பெண்?

இயக்குனர் சிகரம் திரு கே பாலசந்தர் அவர்கள் படைத்த எண்ணற்ற திரை காவியங்களின் உயிரோவியம் மற்றும் உயிரோட்டம் ஆகிய துணிந்த தலை நிமிர்ந்த தமிழ் பெண்ணையே நான் பாலசந்தர் கண்ட புதுமை பெண் என்பேன்.

ஒரு வகையில் நானும் ஒரு பாலசந்தர் கண்ட புதுமை பெண் தான். எண்பதுகளில் பள்ளி பருவம் பயின்ற என் தலைமுறையை வேறு என்ன சொல்வது? .பாலசந்தர் எண்ணி எண்ணி செதுக்கிய சிற்பம்அல்லவா நாங்கள்? அன்று அவர் தந்த ஊட்டமே இன்று எங்கள் பலம் மற்றும் துணிச்சல்…

நான் பதினொன்றாம் வகுப்பு பயிலும் போது வெளி வந்த திரைக்காவியம் தான் அனல்  பொறிக்கும்   ‘சிந்து பைரவி.’ பின் வந்தாள் நந்தினி சிஸ்டர் ‘மனதில் உறுதி வேண்டும்’ என்ற திரைக்கதை மூலம். நந்தினி சிஸ்டர் ஆகவே மாறிவிட மாட்டோமா என்று எண்ணி ஏங்கிய காலம் கூட உண்டு. நந்தினியின்  விதி தான் எவ்வளவு கொடியது. வாழ்கை என்ன அவ்வளவு சுலபமா? யாருக்கு வேண்டும் இந்த நந்தினியின் வாழ்கை. எனினும் புயலாய் வீசிய இந்த தென்றலில் தான் என்ன ஒரு சுகம். போராட்டம் தான் வாழ்கை என்றல், நந்தினி தான் என்ன செய்வாள்? நந்தினியை புயல் என்று நினைக்கும் போதே, பூ போன்ற பேதை பெண்ணாகிய பைரவியும் நினைவுக்கு வருவாள் நம் சிந்தையில். சிந்து பைரவியில் சிந்து எவ்வாறு ஐம்பது சதா விகிதமோ அவ்வாறே மென்மையான மொழி பேசிய பைரவியும் ஐம்பது சதவிகிதம். பட பெயரிலேயே தெரியவில்லையா?  எத்தனை மாறு பட்டஇனம்  நம் பெண்ணினம்?

உண்மையில் என் தலைமுறை தான் பாலசந்தர் தலைமுறையா என்ன? என் அன்னையின் தலைமுறையும் அல்லவா அவரை சொந்தம் கொண்டாடுகின்றது!

நீற்குமிழி யில் ஆரம்பித்தது அவரது நீண்ட பயணம். பயணம் அல்ல, அது ஒரு சகாப்தம். வெறும் ஒரு ஆஸ்பத்திரி வார்டை வைத்து செவ்வனே எடுத்த படம். மருத்துவரின் சுயநலமற்ற சேவை உணர்ச்சியை பிரதிபலிக்கும் கதை. கடமை, கண்ணியம், கட்டுப்பாடு. இப்படியும் ஒரு தலைப்பு கொண்டு பின்னாளில் ஒரு படம் வந்தது. கடமை கண்ணியம் கட்டுப்பாடு என்றால் என்ன வென்று அறிய ‘நீர் குமிழி’ பாருங்கள். இந்த வார்த்தையே அதில் இல்லை. சொல்லில் என்ன இருக்கிறது. செயலில் தானே அவ்வளவும் உள்ளது. சொல்வது சுலபம். செய்வது அரிது.

‘வரவு எட்டணா செலவு பத்தணா’ என்று அன்று தொடங்கியது அவரது சேதி சமூகத்திற்கு. மூன்று நடுத்தர வர்க்க நாயகிகள். என்ன சலனங்கள். ஊடல்கள். திரை உலகை சேர்ந்த கவர்ச்சி கன்னியே எனினும் நடிகையும் ஒரு பெண் தானே? என்ன நிதர்சனமான உண்மை. தமிழ் திரைப்பட உலகில் அதுவரை காணாத கோணத்தில் பெண்ணினத்தை காண்பித்தார் கே பீ , ‘பாமா விஜயம்‘ வாயலாக.

நீர்க்குமிழி உடைத்தது சராசரி மனிதனின் அவல புத்தியை. ‘எதிர் நீச்சல்’ வாழ்ந்தாலும் ஏசும், தாழ்ந்தாலும் ஏசும், வையகம் இது தானடா என்று நடுத்தெருவில் போட்டு உடைத்தது  உலகறிந்த உண்மையை… நாகேஷ் என்ற சிரிப்பு நடிகனின் குணச்சித்திர நடிப்புத்திறனை படம் போட்டு காண்பித்தது….

உண்மையில் நாகேஷின் ‘சர்வர் சுந்தரம்‘ இன்னும் ஒரு படி மேலே. உலகையே வயிறு குலுங்க சிரிக்க வைக்கும் நடிகருக்கு இப்படி ஒரு சோக கதாபாத்திரமா. அவர் கையாள்வாரா… இந்த ஐயம் சிறிது கூட இல்லைப்போலும் கே பி சாருக்கு. அவர்  வைத்த நம்பிக்கை தான் வீண் போனதா. நெஞ்சை உருக்கும் காவியமாக வெளிவந்தது ‘சர்வர் சுந்தரம்.’

ஆணில் பலதரப்பட்டவரை ஆராய்ந்த கே பி யின் சிறப்பெண்னேவோ பெண்களில் பல வகைகளை மேற்கோடிட்டு வெளிச்சம் போட்டு காண்பிப்பது.

பத்மினி வைஜயந்திமாலா பானுமதி போன்ற ஆடல் பாடல்களில் தேர்ச்சி பெற்ற நாயகிகளையே அதுவரை கண்டிருந்தது திரை உலகம். பெண் என்பவள் காட்சி பொருளாகவே காண்பிக்கப்பட்டாள். சாவித்திரி ஆயிலும் சரி சரோஜா தேவி ஆகிலும் சரி, ஒன்று அவள் அழுதாள். அல்லது சிரித்தாள். அவள் தனது நாயகனையே சுற்றி சுழன்றாள். அழகிய தேவதை அவள். பொன்னிறம். அதிர்ந்து பேசாதவள். அதிகம் பேசாதவள். குடும்பத்து குத்து விளக்கு. இப்படி அல்லவா அறுபதுகள் வரை  சித்தரிக்கபட்டாள் சராசரி தமிழ் பெண்…

யார் நினைத்தது கண்ணனின் கரிய நிறம் கொண்ட சரிதாவும், சுஜாதாவும், சுஹாசினியும் ஒரு நாள் நம் மனதை கவர்வர் என. எழுபதுகளில் நடந்தேற தொடங்கியது இந்த அற்புதம்.

உடல் அல்ல உள்ளம், அழகல்ல அறிவு – இதுவே மேம்பட்டது, இதுவே பொருள், இதுவே சுகம் என காண்பித்தார் கே பீ , சுஜாதாவை முன்னிறுத்தி. எழுபதுகளின் பண்பட்ட காவியங்கள் மூலம்…

பாடம் புகட்டினார், வாழை பழத்தில் ஊசி ஏற்றுவது போன்று சில சமயம்.  பொட்டில் அறைந்தது போன்றும் தான் சமயங்களில்… இது தானோ காரணம் நாம் இன்றும் அவரை நினைவு கூறுவதற்கு?

அவள் ஒரு தொடர்கதை.   அவர்கள்.   மாறுபட்ட திரை ஓவியங்கள். திடமான உறுதிபடைத்த பெண்ணாக ஒரு புறம். ஆண் என்பவனால் ஆட்டுவிக்கப்படும் வெறும் பொம்மையாக மறுபுறம்…

சுஜாதாவின் மாமியாரை கண்டு மனம் உருகாதவர் எவர் ‘அவர்கள்’ படத்தில். கதாநாயகி சுஜாதாவினும் மேம்பட்ட கதாபாத்திரம் அல்லவா? அவர்கள்’ மாமியார் போன்ற குணாதிசயம் காண்பது அறிதல்லவா. என்னே நேர்த்தி . செதுக்கிய சிற்பம் போல்… உளி பாலச்சந்தர் அல்லவா! காலில் விழத்தோணும் கதாபாத்திரம். மாமியார் அல்ல, தாய். தாய் அல்ல கடவுள்.

ஆணின் வக்கிரத்தை கணவன் ரஜினி மூலம் சித்தரித்த வித்தை சொல்லில் விவரிக்க முடியாது. ஆனால் கமல் என்ற ஆணின் மூலம் ஆணின் அளவற்ற பேதமற்ற அன்பும் வெளிப்படுவதே அற்புதம். சமநிலை ரவிக்குமார் கதாபாத்திரம். இரு துருவங்கள் மத்தியில் ஒரு நடுநிலை. மூன்று ஆண்வகையுமே இந்நாளிலும் நிதர்சனம்.

அவள் ஒரு தொடர்கதை. பெண் என்பவள் பணிக்கு செல்வது அரிதாகவே காணப்பட்ட எழுபதுகளின் மா பெரும் காவியம். பெண்ணோவியம் என்றே சொல்லலாம்… . பெருமையுடன் கூறிக்கொள்கிறேன், அறுபதுகளில் பணிக்கு சென்றவள் என் தாய் என்பதை. பெண் தன்னை சிங்காரித்துக்கொள்வதும் பேச்சுக்கு உரியதாகவே இருந்த கால கட்டம். சுஜாதா என்ற பணிக்கு செல்லும் துணிந்த பெண்ணின் கர்வம் தான் என்ன. கர்வம் அல்ல அது. தன்னம்பிக்கை. கர்வமாக காணப்பட்டது காலத்தின் விதி. உதட்டில் பூசிய சாயம், தொப்புளுக்கு கீழே நயிலெக்ஸ் புடவை,  பாக் பட்டன் ப்ளௌஸ், தோளில் மாட்டிய ஹாண்ட் பெக், மனதில் சுமந்த குடும்ப பாரம்…மிடுக்கு நடை, கனலை கக்கும் நா, கனிவான இதயம்.. இரக்கமில்லா சொந்தம்… நன்றியில்லா பந்தம், கலைந்த கனவுகள், தொலைத்த வாழ்க்கை… என் உள்ளத்தில் என்றென்றும் குடி கொண்ட அந்த கவிதா (சுஜாதா), ஒரு தொடர்கதை அல்ல… ஒரு கலங்கரை விளக்கம், தன்னையே உறுக்கிக்கொண்டு உலகிற்கு ஒளி தந்த ஒரு மெழுகுவத்தி … காலத்தால் அழிக்க முடியாத அற்புத மணிமேகலை …

துடுக்குத்தனமான படாபட். இளமை குன்றா நடுத்தர வயது விதவைத்தாய். உறவு வரைமுறை மீறின் வாழ்க்கையின் போக்கு தான் என்ன.  துணிச்சல் தவறில்லை சுஜாதாவை போல , ஆனால் அளவு மிஞ்சின கட்டுக்கடங்காத சுதந்திரம் அபாயம் தான் படாபட்டைப்போல.

இப்பொழுது தோன்றுகிறது, கே பி படங்கள் இன்றும் வெளி வருமாயின், பொள்ளாச்சி பயங்கரமே நடந்திருக்காது என. பக்குவமாக வக்கிரமின்றி பாடம் புகட்டுவதில், அதுவும் பெண்டகளுக்கு, கே பி க்கு நிகர் கே பி தான். இன்றளளவும் கே பி தர இயக்குனர்கள் தமிழ் திரை உலகில் மீன்றும் தோன்றாதது, நம் மாபெரும் இழப்பே.

இன்றைய தமிழ் சினிமாவில், குப்பத்து தனுஷ் மீது ஆசை படுவது மேமேலடுக்கு மாடியில் குடியிருக்கும் சீமாட்டி. கைக்கு கிட்டவில்லையெனில் இவர் திரைக்கதை நாயகியை துரத்தி துரத்தி காதலிப்பார், படியும் வரை. எனக்கு கிடைக்காதது, யாருக்கும் கிடைக்ககூடாது  என்று ஒரு முகமாக காதலித்த பெண்ணை வெட்ட துணியும் பயங்கரம்.. ஸ்வாதி ராம் குமார் ஞாபகம் உள்ளதா? இந்த கன்றாவியை கரைத்து குடித்துதான் நம் இளம் தலைமுறையினர் இன்று முதிர்ச்சி நிலையை நோக்கி பயணிக்கிறார்.

எல்லை மீறுதல்களையும் உறவுகள் நேர்முகமாவதையும் மிக நாகரீமாக காட்ட கே பி தேர்ந்தெடுத்த இன்னொரு முத்து ‘அபூர்வ ராகங்கள்.‘ ‘கேள்வியின் நாயகனே இந்த கேள்விக்கு பதில் ஏதய்யா’ இது ஒன்று போதும் மறு விளக்கம் தேவையல்ல.
‘ஒரு புறம் பார்த்தல் மிதிலையின் மைதிலி, மறுபுறம் பார்த்தல் காவிரி மாதவி, முகம் மட்டும் பார்த்தல் நிலவின் எதிரொலி, முழுவதும் பார்த்தால், அவள் ஒரு பைரவி, அவள் ஒரு பைரவி…’ கவிஞர் கண்ணதாசனின் நிகரற்ற வரிகள். உணர்ச்சி ததும்பும் ஒரு பெண்ணை இதைக்காட்டிலும் விவரிக்க நான் கேட்டதில்லை. அப்பேற்பட்ட உணர்வுகளை வெளி கொணர்ந்த மேடை பாடகியாக வந்த ஸ்ரீ வித்யா. முதல் படமா இது. தமிழ் திரைவானின் அறிய ஒரு அபூர்வ நக்ஷத்திரம் எனவே கூறலாம். பட்டாம்பூச்சி போல மாறியது அவளது உணர்வுகள் – நிதானம் மைதிலி போல, பெண்மையின் இலக்கணம் மாதவி போல, அமைதி குளிர் நிலவை போல, அனல் பொறிக்கும் சினம் பைரவி (அம்பாள் அல்லது ராகமாவும் கொள்ளலாம்) போல. என்னை மிகக்கவர்ந்த ஒரு கதாபாத்திரம். நெஞ்சில் ஆழப்பதிந்தது…

அபூர்வ’ ராகங்களை’ பார்க்கையில், எனக்கு நினைக்கத்தோன்றும் கே பி எப்படி காலத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட சிந்தனை கொண்டவராக இருந்தார் என்று… அவர்கள்” மட்டுமென்ன ? பெண் என்பவள் இரு முறை மணம் முறிக்க எண்ணலாம் என்ற எண்ணத்திற்கு முதன் முறையாய் வித்திட்டது என்றே என் மனதில் படும். ஒன்றிற்கு மேலான கதாநாயகன் பாத்திரம் ஆசிரியத்தை இன்றும் உண்டு செய்யும். ‘ஆன்டி ஹீரோ’ என்ற மாறுபட்ட ஒரு குணச்சித்திரத்தை கிட்டத்தட்ட முதன்முதலில் தமிழில் அறிமுகப்படுத்தியவர் கே பி என்றே சொல்லலாம். எழுபதுகளில் நினைத்துக்கூட பார்க்க இயலாத நடுத்தர வர்க்க கதை.

அரங்கேற்றம். மனதை நெகிழ வைத்த மற்றொரு படைப்பு. குடும்ப பாரத்தை சுமக்க ஒரு பெண் எந்த எல்லைவரை செல்வாள் என்பதற்கான ஒரு சான்று. சூழ்நிலை காரணமாய் தவறிப்போன பாதைகள்… பறிபோன வாழ்க்கை..

ஆண்களில் சிலர் கையால் ஆகாதவராய் இருக்கையில், பெண் என்பவள் செயல்பட்டு ஆக வேண்டிய சூழ்நிலை. பெற்ற தந்தை கரை ஏற்றத்தவறினால் மகள் என்ன செய்வாள். அந்த இல்லத்தின் ஆணாக மாறுகிறாள். மறுபிறப்பு எடுக்கிறாள். ‘அவள் ஒரு தொடர் கதையும்’ அவளே, ‘விலைமாதாக குடும்பத்துக்காக தன உடலையே விற்க ‘அரங்கேறுகிறவளும்’ அவளே. அதுவரை தமிழ் திரையில் சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டதாக தெரியவில்லை. சிவாஜி கணேசனும், எம் ஜி யாரும், ஜெமினி கணேசனும் மரத்தை சுற்றிவந்து காதல் கானம் பாடி, அழகிய பெண்களை காதலித்து, காதலில் பல மோதல்களை சந்தித்து, வீர வசனம் பேசி வாதிட்டு,  களம் இறங்கி வாளிட்டு பகைவரை வதம் புரிந்து வீரத்திருமகனாக ஆண்மையின் வடிவமாக கோலோச்சிய காலம். ஆணும் தோற்கலாம் , ஆண்மையும் பொய்க்கலாம், பெண்ணும் வெல்லலாம், பெண்மையும் நிலை கொள்ளலாம் என அறிய வைத்த விதம் தான் என்ன…

அரங்கேற்றத்தில் கூட, மூன்றாவது ஆணையோ ஏன் முன் பின் தெரியாத பெண்ணையோ நம்பினால் மோசம் போக வாய்ப்புள்ளது என்பதை அப்போதே நமக்கு சொன்னவர் கே பி.

பெண்ணின் திமிரை எடுத்துரைத்தது ‘பூவா தலையா .’ இதில் சில வசனங்களில் எனக்கு உடன்பாடு இல்லை தான். அந்த கால கட்டத்தில், பட வினயோகத்திற்காக சேர்க்கப்பட்ட லாஜிக் ஆகவே நான் எண்ணுகிறேன்.பின்னாளில் ஆனால் அந்த தவற்றை கே பி செய்யவில்லை.

நிழல் நிஜமாகிரது படத்திலும் இந்த திமிர் பெண் உண்டு. இதிலும் ஓரிரண்டு ஒவ்வாத வசனம் உண்டு தான். ஆனாலும் அந்த திமிர் எனக்கு பிடித்த திமிர். அடக்கும் ஆண் கமல் ஹாசனையும் பிடிக்கும் என்ன செய்வது?! ‘இலக்கணம் மாறுதோ, இலக்கியம் ஆனதோ..’ இந்த கண்ணதாசன் வரிகளை இனியும் இவ்வுலகம் காணுமா. ‘ஆத்திரம் என்பது பெண்களுக்கெல்லாம் அடுப்பறை வரை தானே’ என்ற போது எனக்கே ஆத்திரம் ஆத்திரமாக வரும். ஆனால் கதைக்காக சொல்லப்பட்டது என்று மனதை தேற்றி கொள்வேன்…

ஆனால் அந்த மௌலி மற்றும் காசி கதாபாத்திரங்களை மறக்க முடியாது. அதிலும் காசி. இப்படி ஒரு குண சித்திரத்தை இன்றும் தேடி கொண்டிருக்கிறோம் நாம். நெகிழ்வு என்ற சொல்லுக்கு, உணர்ச்சிக்கு அர்த்தம் புரிந்தது அன்று. ஆபாசம் விரசம் கலக்காத காமம் என்றால் என்ன என்று நாயுடு சொல்லி கொடுத்தார். ஹாஸ்யமும் காமமும் கலந்தபோது ஒரு முக சுளிப்பு இல்லை. இதை குடும்பத்துடன் தான் நான் சேர்ந்து பார்த்தேன் எனது பன்னிரண்டாவது வயதில், கருப்பு வெள்ளை டிவியில். தர்ம சங்கடம் இல்லை.

தாமரை நெஞ்சம். சோகம் ஆனாலும் நெஞ்சில் பதியும் விதம். சரோஜா தேவி வைத்து இப்படி ஒரு படம் வேறு யாரும் செய்திருக்க இயலாது.

இரு பெண்டாட்டி கதை ‘இரு கோடுகள்.’ இன்றும் நடக்கும் விஷயம் தான். ஊடகமாக. கையாண்ட நேர்த்தி அருமை. மேலதிகாரியாயை மனைவியை வடிவமைத்த விதம் திண்மை. அந்த மேல் சிந்தனையே ஆச்சர்யம். கருப்பு வெள்ளை பட காலத்தில், சிந்திக்க அறியாது.

‘காவிய தலைவி’ உண்மையில் காவிய தலைவி தான். இன்னொரு கே பி கண்டுபிடிப்பு சௌகார் ஜானகி. பெண்மையின் மேன்மையை மேற்கொடிட்டு காட்டிய இன்னொரு காவியம்.

நியாயத்தையும்,நேர்மையையும், நடுநிலை மாறா நிலையையும் விளக்கியது ‘மேஜர் சந்திரகாந்த்.’ அழகு பதுமை ஜெயலலிதாவின் ஒரே பாலச்சந்தர் படம். யாருக்கும் பயம் வேண்டாம் ஆனால் மனசாத்திக்கு பயந்து தானே ஆக வேண்டும். மனசாட்சி கேட்கும் கேள்விக்கு பதில் சொல்வது யார்.

நூற்றுக்கு நூறு ‘நூற்றுக்கு நூறு’ கதை, திரைக்கதை, வசனம், இயக்கத்திற்கு. மாணவ சமுதாயம் சீரழியும் இவ்வேளையில், எழுபதுகளிலேயே மாணவர்க்கு உண்மையை மறைவின்றி உள்ளது உள்ளபடி உணர்த்திய கதை. இன்றைய மாணவரே நாளைய குடிமகன். ஆங்கிலோ இந்தியன் சமுதாயத்தை வெளி கொணர்ந்த படம் என்றும் கூறலாம். சமுதாயத்தின் விளிம்பில் வாழ்பவரை உள்கொண்டர்வது கே பி யின் அக்மார்க் முத்திரை. ஜெய் ஷங்கருக்கு ஒரு சபாஷ். நான் சொர்க்கத்தில் (நரகத்தில்??) சந்திக்க ஆவலாக இருக்கும் முதல் நூறு நபரின் ஒருவர்!

சொல்லத்தான் நினைக்கிறேன் – மத்திய தர குடும்பங்களின் நிலை. அதிலும் அந்த கால கட்டத்தில், ஒரு குடும்பத்தில் முதிர் கன்னியர் இருப்பது மிக சகஜம். இந்த படம் எத்தனைபேர் மனதை தொட்டிருக்கும் என்று நினைக்க தோன்றுகிறது. இன்றைய மாறுபட்ட சூழ்நிலையில் இரண்டே மக்கள் கொண்ட தனி குடுத்தனங்களில் காண்பதற்கரிது. ஆனால் நம்மில் பலர் எண்பதுகளில் கூட கண்டது தான். இந்தியா தான் எவ்வளவு மாறி விட்டது. இந்த பேஸ் புக் யுகத்தில் நான் கே பி யை மிகவும் மிஸ் செய்கிறேன்!

மன்மத லீலை எனக்கு சராசரி ஆணின் மனநிலையை உணர்த்துகிறது. எல்லோரும் அல்ல ஆனால் வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தால் ஏறக்குறைய என்றே சொல்லலாம்! கமலுக்கு ஏற்ற பாத்திரம்! கே பி க்கு ஞான திருஷ்டியோ?!

புன்னகை மன்னன், புது புது அர்த்தங்கள், தில்லு முள்ளு, ஏக் துஜே கே லியே (ஹிந்தி), டூயட் இவை ஜெனரஞ்சகத்துக்காக எடுக்கப்பட்டவை. காதலும் உண்டு எனினும் பாடல் (ஏக் துஜே) மற்றும் ஹாஸ்யம் (தில்லு முல்லு) இன்று செத்தால் நாளைக்கு பால் விவேக்கையும் ஜெயசித்ரா தெலுங்கு அம்மாவையும் அமைத்த அருமை.

நூல் வேலி, பட்டினப்ரவேசம், தப்பு தாளங்கள், நினைத்தாலே இனிக்கும் என்று அடுக்கி கொண்டே போகலாம்.

மூன்று முடிச்சு . கமல் ரஜினி இணைந்த மற்றுமொரு படம். ஸ்ரீ தேவி நாயகி. அந்த நாளைக்கு எண்ணத்தோன்றாத கோணம் மற்றும் திரைக்கதை. ஸ்ரீ தேவி அப்பா மேஜரை மணக்கும் இயக்கம் கே பி யின் துணிவை நினைவூட்டுகிறது. மக்களிடம் அது மா பெரும்  வெற்றிஅல்லவா பெற்றது. கே பி சொன்னதை  அந்த எழுபதுகளின் அம்மா-அப்பா தலைமுறை ஏற்கும் மனப்பக்குவம் கூட ஒரு புறம் நடந்தேறிக்கொண்டு தான் இருந்தது…

உன்னால் முடியும் தம்பி யில் ஜாதி பிரிவினை எதிர்த்தார் தன் பாணியில். அந்த துணிவு அவருக்கு அன்றே இருந்தது. இன்றைய ‘பரி ஏறும் பெருமாள்’ அடுத்த தலைமுறை. கூட்டு முயற்சியின் அற்புதத்தை விளக்கிய கதை அது. நாட்டு பற்றையும் சேர்த்து கலந்து கொடுத்தது நாம் அறியா ஊகிக்க முடியா வண்ணம். இதில் வன்மை, நெஞ்சழுத்தம் கிடையாது.  அமைதியாக, ஆனால் ஆணித்தரமாக சொல்லப்பட்ட நீதி போதனை. ஒரு மிக சிறந்த உத்தி.

நாட்டை பற்றி நினைக்கும் போதே நினைவுக்கு வரும் இன்னொரு மெல்லிய சோகம் ‘வறுமையின் நிறம் சிவப்பு.‘ வேலை இன்மையின் தாக்கம், வறுமையின் கொடுமையை இவ்வளவு வலிக்கும் விதத்தில் அதே சமயம் எந்த பாத்திரத்திற்கும் சுய மரியாதை குன்றாமல் கூறிய விதம்… பல தமிழ் படங்களில், வறுமையின் அவலத்தை தான் நாம் பார்க்கிறோம். வறுமை கூட அழகு தானோ என்று நினைக்க வைத்த நெஞ்சை உருக்கும் காவியம்… ‘நல்லதோர் வீணை செய்தேன்… அதை நலம் கெட புழுதியில் எறிவதுண்டோ…’ என பாரதியின் பாடலுக்கு உயிர் தந்த அந்த திரை ஓவியம், கே பி என்ற சிகரத்திற்கு மற்றும் ஒரு உச்சம்.

‘தண்ணீர் தண்ணீர் ‘போன்ற படங்களை இனி பார்க்க முடியுமா. சமூகத்தில் விழிப்புணர்வை இதை விட எப்படி தட்டி எழுப்ப இயலும். நீர் என்பது இன்றைக்கும் நமக்கு பிரச்சனையே. வீட்டு பிரச்சனை, மாநில பிரச்சனை, தேச பிரச்சனை, பன்னாட்டு பிரச்சனை. எவ்வளவோ விதத்தில் கையாள வாய்ப்பிருந்தும், கே பி காண்பித்தது ஒரு கிராமிய கதையை. நகரத்தில் இன்றும் நமக்கு நீர் விநியோகம் உண்டு. தண்ணீர் லாரி வழியோ அல்லது போர் பம்ப் போட்டோ விடிவு தேடி கொள்ளலாம்… கிராமங்கள் காய்கின்றன வறட்சியில். இது மிக பெரிய கொடுமை. கிராமவாழ் மக்களை பற்றி சிந்திப்பவர் யார். குரல் கொடுப்பர் தான் யார். வக்காலத்து வாங்குபவர் யார்.

சரிதாவின் இன்னொரு காவியம், ‘அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை.’ அன்றைய இன்றைய அரசியல் சூழ்நிலையை அப்படியே படம் பிடித்து காட்டும் நேர்த்தி. பண்பட்டவனும் படைத்தவனும் பண்டிதனும் கெடுவான் அரசியலில். இங்கு எவரும் ஒழுங்கு அல்ல. ஒழுக்கம் அல்ல. மனது வலிக்கிறது ஆனால் நிதர்சனமான உண்மை.

அக்னி பரீட்சை‘ க்கு பெண்கள் தான் உட்பட வேண்டுமா என்ன. அன்றைய  சீதை அயோத்தியில் உட்பட்டாள் அல்லது உட்படுத்தப்பட்டாள் அக்னி பரீட்சைக்கு. இன்றைய பெண் ஆணை அக்னி பரீட்சை க்கு உட்படுத்த வைப்பாள்… ஆண்களுக்கும் மானசீக அக்னி பரீட்சை உண்டு என்று சரிதா உரைத்த விதம்… அக்னி பரிட்சையில் மிகவும் மனதை பாதித்த விஷயம், பெண்ணே பெண்ணிற்கு எதிரி என்ற சுடும் உண்மை தான்.இன்றளவும் இந்த படத்தை மீண்டும் மீண்டும் பார்க்க தோன்றுகிறது. அந்த தலைப்பின் தாக்கம் நோக்கம் இன்றும் விளங்க வில்லை.

ஒரு வீடு இரு வாசல், கல்கி, பொய் … ‘கல்கி’ என்னால் முழுமையா ஏற்க முடியா ஒன்று. ஒருவேளை இது கே பி யின் பரிமாண வளர்ச்சியோ என்று நினைக்கத்தோன்றும் சமயத்தில். கல்கி ஒரு விதண்டா வாதம் என கூட தோன்றும். ‘பொய்’ அதை நிரூபித்தது. பொய்யின் காதல் தர்க்கம் எனக்கு பிடித்தது ஆனால் முடிவு உடன்பாடில்லை. ஒரு வீடு இரு வாசலில் சௌகார் பேத்தியின் கதாபாத்திரம் அம்மம்மா… சூர்யாவுக்கு அழவில்லை, இவளுக்கு அழுதேன், இந்த நங்கை நல்லாளுக்காக… ஆங்கிலத்தில் சொல்வர் ‘ஸ்ட்ரென்த் ஆப் காரெக்ட்டர்’ என்று. கே பி யின் ஒவ்வொரு நாயகியிடமும் அதை நான் பார்க்கிறேன்.

நள தமயந்தி’ ஒரு இனிய காதல் கதை. கே பி இடம் எதிர் பாராதது. மாதவனுக்கு கிடைத்த அறிய வாய்ப்பு. அழகிய வாய்ப்பும் கூட.

பல பக்கம் போகலாம் இன்னும்…

‘கல்யாண அகதிகள்‘ ளோடு நிறுத்திக்கொள்கிறேன். மத மாற்ற எதிர்ப்பையும் , பெண்ணியத்தையும் இதைவிட கண்ணியமாக சொல்ல முடியாது. சரிதா, நீங்க எங்கே. காதலுக்காக தன் சுய மரியாதையை, அடையாளத்தை, முகவரியை, பாரம்பரியத்தை இழக்க முன்வரும் அணைத்து பெண்களுக்கும் இது ஒரு சவுக்கடி. மதம் மாறினால் தான் திருமணம்  என்றால் அது காதலே அல்ல ஒரு கணக்கு, அவ்வளவு தான். இன்றைய கால கட்டத்தில், இது எப்பேர்ப்பட்ட அளப்பரிய உண்மை. அது சொல்லப்பட்ட விதம் தான் என்ன. பெண்களின் வாழ்க்கை போராட்டங்களை, அவலங்களை, வெற்றிகளை, மன குமுறல்களை, இழப்புகளை, பெருந்தன்மையை, சுயநலமற்ற தன்மையை எடுத்து காட்டும் கட்டுக்கோப்பான திரைக்கதை. திரைக்கதை என்பது கே பி யின் மிகப்பெரிய பலம். வசனமும் கூட.

சரிதா சுஜாதாவின் கோபத்தை, சுஹாசினியின் கேள்வியை இன்றும் சமாளிக்க முடியவில்லை நம்மால், சாந்த படுத்த இயல வில்லை நம்மால்… நியாமானா கோபம், நேர்மையான கேள்வி… பதில் சொல்வதில் நம்மில் பலருக்கு ஏன் இன்னும் தயக்கம்

நான் நினைப்பது உண்டு இப்போதும். எப்பேர்ப்பட்ட அதிர்ஷ்டக்காரர் நம் பெற்றோர் என. கே பி படங்களை இனிமையான சலனமற்ற அறுபதுகளிலும் எழுபதுகளிலும் திரையில் கண்டமைக்கு. இந்தியாவிலேயே ஏன் உலகிலேயே அப்பொழுது கிளர்ச்சியற்ற ஆரவாரமற்ற ஆழ்ந்த அமைதி நிலவியதாகத்தோன்றும். குண்டு வெடிப்பு கண்டிராத காலம். தீவிர வாதம் தலைவிரிக்காத நேரம். கணினி கிடையாது ஏன் தொலைக்காட்சி  பெட்டி கூட நம்மில் முக்கால் வாசி பேர் வீட்டில் கிடையாது. நம் பெற்றோர் எப்பொழுதாவது சிந்தித்தனரா கே பி யின் கருக்களை பற்றி. வாழ்க்கையில் கடை பிடித்தனரா… கடை பிடித்தனரோ இல்லையோ, வேசினாரோ கூட என்னவோ தெரியாது, கே பி இடம் அவர் கொண்ட மரியாதை மட்டும் அலாதி தான். உண்மை உரைத்திருக்க வேண்டும். காலத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட கதையாகிலும், உட்கருத்து  நெஞ்சை உறுதியிருக்க வேண்டும். எண்டபதுகளிலேயே ஜீரணிக்க என் தலைமுறை தவித்தது. சொல்லப்பட்ட மாற்று செய்தி, மாற்று நோக்கு, மாற்று பார்வை இவையே எண்பதுகளில் பள்ளி பயின்ற என் வயது ஆண் பெண்களை ஒரு நிமிடம் நிற்க வைத்தது, சிந்திக்க வைத்தது. அந்த தாக்கம் தானோ என்னவோ, இன்றளவும் எம்மில் பலர் மாற்று சிந்தனை கொண்டவராய் உள்ளோம்… எமது இந்த முதிர்ச்சி – அப்படி சொல்லலாமா என தெரியவில்லை – இதற்க்கு வித்திட்டவர் கே பி . எமது தாய் தந்தை நினைத்து செய்ய இயலாதவற்றை நாம் இன்று மேற்கொள்கிரோம் … தைரியமாக, வீரியமாக, விவேகமாக…

 

 

Posted in Political

Hindu Reaction (or Non-reaction?) to New Zealand

 

One comment for New Zealand from a Hindu friend in social media summed up our typical and expected reaction:

‘Unakku vandha raththam, enakku vandha thakkali chutneyaaahhhh?’

(if you bleed it is blood, if i bleed is it tomato chutney to you?)

NO NATION/SOCIETY HIT BY REPEATED TERROR ATTACKS HAS A STATEMENT TO MAKE ON NEW ZEALAND – QUITE LIKE MY INDIA. We are fighting terror on day to day basis. India’s powerful statement on New Zealand is Her STOIC and DEAFENING SILENCE. Refusal to comment.

I see no sympathy whatsoever in my desi brothers and sisters. Pulwama is still in our memory. Hindus are in no mood to forgive or forget. Can anyone blame us? China by the way reiterated their support to world terror via Pakistan by vetoing in UN, against the incrimination of Masud Azhar as global terrorist. India will have to gear up and ban Chinese products with a full vengeance now. We shall do it.

All the same I would like to remind the New Zealanders and Australians or even Americans and Spanish that they are immigrants too. Who are they? Is there something called Good Immigrant- Bad Immigrant. Pakis know because they play this Good terrorist-Bad terrorist game always to hoodwink the rest of the world. For instance, their media especially journalists are ‘good terrorists.’ Jai Hind!

Posted in Women & Family

The Importance Of Not Letting Cowardice Confine You …

This is a pretty lengthy write-up (not unusual for me) but I feel compelled to post this. Because it PAINS….

I have spent years shuttling between India and Qatar, but mostly based in India as my son went on completing his schooling as well as undergrad course in our hometown Chennai. I had to double up as both mother and father who was permanently outstation. Just how much to control my teenage son as a mother (i grew up in a dominating women’s household) and how much leverage to allow him like his father might in reality was a big dilemma for me. To my knowledge I think I did justice to my dual role. I drew up some balancing parameters that we had to stick to under any and all circumstances. For instance, I disallowed my son, our only child, from riding a motorbike because young guys tend to speed or race in their bikes. I am averse to rash driving and get totally unnerved by the idea even if I myself have driven a two-wheeler. Instead I promised my son to let him drive our car which I thought was comparatively safe.

As a mother and father rolled into one, I have been for my son’s school admissions and university admissions. Mother and son even stood for USIS interview in hot sun for 6 hours! We have done so many things together right from the time I started homeschooling him at the age of 4 years in Malaysia. He went on to learn up to standard 2 at home, with me as his first and most memorable teacher and our first computer’s monitor as his classroom blackboard right from the year 1998-99. Standard 3 back in regular school in Chennai was like KG admission for my boy – schooling had become a new concept to him at 7 years by which time most Indian kids would be pretty well settled in academic school life. A complete misfit in his first couple of years of primary school back home in India, my son however was already reading the latest Harry Potter that was a universal hot-seller.

We weren’t the regular mother-son. In many ways we were the unconventional parent-ward thanks to our enforced solitary existence in Malaysia for 3+ years. Homeschooling changed both our way of thinking. May be that sets us apart from many others in our bracket.

How much ever you may try, you still cannot become a 100% perfect parent just the way your child can never become the 100% perfect son/daughter. In our case, my son blames us for his low sport quotient which I accept as our fault. I could only take him for swimming and music lessons, there were limits to my capacity to function as a father.

THE DEFINING YEARS

The high school and higher secondary years are the real formative years for teenagers in my opinion. Their peers’ circle expands by this time. Any good or bad association is formed at this phase of life that may have nothing to do with the way they were raised in their pre-teens. This age finally determines how the rest of the lives will be for our children. Essential character formation happens. Confidence building time. Trust is earned. Lessons learned. Friendships and relationships made in the late teens remain a lifelong bond. A very influential age in short. This is the time, parents need to keep a close watch on their wards. I have to give credit to my son’s school and his friends who have had a great role to play in shaping him into what he is today. Parents’ role gets limited with age. Peers step in who will have a big say in your children’s future which will have a lasting impact on their lives. The company our kids keep is very important. This company can make or break our kid. Parents can have a dialogue with their children without antagonizing them and without attempting to control outright. Hormones go for a swing not only for our teens, but invariably for us parents too when biological changes like an impending menopause may push us into losing control/temper. Where parents remained cold and unapproachable, the kids I have known have dared to stray. A mother’s job is 24 hours whether she is a full time homemaker or working woman.

Upto 21 years I guess, this tough period lasts for our kids starting from their 13th. Girl children get periods so they are relatively safe with this release. As for boys, it is very difficult to control. A couple of my friends got concerned when their teenage boys would lock themselves up for hours in their rooms not coming out. Real testy time for us parents as we know by this time boys will be on to every vice you can think of: smoking, boozing, girls, drugs, porn stuff – unless of course you instill in them beforehand the moral fear and discipline. This is where good parenting comes in.

On another side there is the burgeoning academics. If Indian kids are least addicted to drugs, booze etc., compared to other parts of the world, i would say it is because of our heavy school syllabus and homework!!! Back to back assignments and test papers. (The flip side in this case is frightening depression in aspiring kids, which I am not going into here).

Wading through these rough waters is not easy. Balancing the tight rope of parenting is an art. I am no expert and I haven’t mothered a dozen kids either, but here are a few life experiences that I would like to share. This is the combined and collective wisdom of mine and my friends.

CHILDREN & TEENS IN MODERN INDIA

Why it is important to know your ward’s friends and their parents and their full peer circle

Once my son and his friends started driving by 18 years, the boys started going out as a gang. They attended co-education school and later university where boys and girls mixed freely. Girls (note: skimpily clad!) came home all the time to our house and my son as well as other boys frequented the girls’ homes. Birthdays and New year and Diwali celebrations were also gala events for them. I got used to girls driving back my son home in the middle of nights after cinema, because I was against him driving in unearthly hours! So the girls would drop him back home safe! They knew I would be staying awake agitated until he returned home.

I also got to know my son’s friends parents. We have attended birthday parties together. We also routinely met each other in school Open days, Sports days, Annual days, Boy scouts camps etc. I practically had everyone’s phone number and address. I knew where the friends’ parents worked, who their siblings were, what class they attended. In fact some of my friends’ parents became our family friends. That’s the beauty of parenthood. Parents of our children invariably become our good friends, sometimes even best friends.

I have had the distinctive opportunity of cooking for my son’s friends on very many occasions over years thanks to my homemaker status. That is one sure way of bonding for lifetime. Boys who eat together hang out together. Their loyalty  is ours.

I also discovered that the girls who were my sons friends were very smart, extremely intelligent, brainy and totally independent. Indeed that did not surprise me. They are this generation. The best thing about them was, they also groomed well, dressed well unlike ours that was a little hesitant in these matters. Boys and girls sitting packed in a single sofa brushing each other, patting each other became normal thing for us. We parents learned to accept the inevitable that education will one day lead to such an equality between men and women in every sphere. Indian women are well accomplished and are on equal footing as their male counterparts today. In a traditionally conservative society however, this sometimes leads to ripples.  I am personal witness to watching my son as well as his friends develop enormous respect for the fairer sex who they’re gallant enough to admit, were better than them in every conceivable way! Mostly, the male mindset is like this in India. Our media unfortunately chooses to focus on the negligible bad apples with an agenda and also for TRP .

I am for allowing our kids a free rein after establishing certain limits with mutual consent. Both parents and wards have to respect these boundaries. The best parents do not teach or reprimand their children; they inspire and lead by example. At the same time, when you say ‘NO’, mean ‘NO’ firmly and finally. Any dillydallying and weaknesses can make our kids get their way with us against our intuitive warnings. If you want to refuse permission to your son/daughter for a picnic or outing for valid reasons, do not yield to emotional blackmail. Stay unwavering and do not give in to temper tantrums. Always ask your child to account the pocket money. Yes, you can spy on their phones and laptops. You are the parent remember. A PARENT CAN NEVER BECOME A FRIEND. A PARENT WILL BE PARENT TO SON/DAUGHTER FOR LIFETIME. Do not believe in the bullshit that you can become your son/daughter’s friend. Do not compromise on your kids academic scores. Stay alert for any change in their mood swings and body language.

*******************************************************

But I agree generally and basically, all our children are sweet and smart. Sometimes, we parents come to learn a lesson or two from our children.

One day my son took out our car  by 6 pm in the evening, to go for group studies in his friend’s place. It was showering lightly and I asked him to return before 11 pm. I had his dinner ready in the table by 8. Then it started pouring cats and dogs as the monsoon unleashed its full fury for next 2 hours without a let-up. I ran to our balcony and noticed that the water level was starting to rise in my street. By this time, there was knee level water and draining had almost come to a stop. Just then the power was switched off by the department as with alarm I watched the water rise to hip level below my window.

I rang my son asking him to stay indoors in his friend’s place whose parents were also abroad. No need to come home in the rains as parking was impossible. Even steering into my street was not possible. The boys said they were hungry and they had had nothing. I said, nothing would happen to them if they went to bed on empty stomach for a night.

I called up my husband abroad and he in turn rang up the boys and advised them the same. I was restless that night – call it a mother’s instinct. Its almost like a premonition.

I used to rise by 3.45 always then. By 5 am my son was back and I was surprised that I did not hear the car parking sound. When I opened the door to the ringing bell, he calmly walked in and sat me in the living. Then he said in a very reassuring tone, ‘Ma, first of all, let me tell you this. I am fine, I am not hurt, I am healthy and have not suffered any injury. Neither did my friend. Both us are 100% okay’ . As my eyebrows creased in concern, he stopped me from asking questions and continued. “I did not obey your words, took out the car with my friend in midnight after the rains stopped because we were hungry and we wanted to eat out. Power was out completely and I rammed the car into a road roller parked haphazardly. There were warning signs in the middle of the road but they were invisible in the pitch dark with power out. It was a major accident and our airbags burst open and saved our lives.’

By this time I was completely shaken and started crying. I started fussing over my baby when he said, ‘we called our other friends rather than calling you in those midnight hours. The car had stalled. We pushed it into a by-lane out of view of traffic where it is quiet. There is no sign of accident in the road now. The road roller driver was already driving it out of spot a few minute before. No damage to the road roller either which belonged to city corporation. Not even a scratch but our car has suffered a heavy damage.’

Our car was only one year old then, but it was least of my concern. I broke down but I immediately thanked God for sparing my son’s life and also that of his friend’s. The friend’s life was also then my son’s responsibility. I had tossed and turned the entire night not sleeping well. Insurance matters could wait. I thought of calling my husband for whom it was 3 am then. Then decided against it. My son had just taught me a lesson: of how not to alarm or panic people. I fixed him a hot chocolate and calmed myself down. I decided to call the insurance people first.’

By the time I called my husband, it was 6 am his local time. I decided to adopt my son’s strategy of breaking the news calm and cool.

My husband told me this in equal calm, ‘first things first. Make sure, our son and his friend have no internal injury.. Ask them to visit a doctor. Secondly DO NOT REPRIMAND or correct our son. He did the expected thing for his age. Do not blame him for insurance loss or for car damage or for reckless driving or irresponsibility. We all learn from mistakes. This is a lesson he will not forget in his life. Do not say a word that might crush his confidence or make him feel guilty. Thirdly follow up with insurance/police. Verify and keep all the relevant documents like driver’s licence, etc ready. Follow up and by God’s grace we can afford the damages not covered by insurance.

However, the shock of the accident stayed with us for days. It took a month for my son to take back to his wheels. With a great difficulty I tried avoiding uttering a single negative word to him or his friend. They were only 18 then. I did not get to see the car but my insurance agent who inspected it personally said the damage was heavy on the front.

Being young, the boys bounced back in no time because we parents took it all in light spirit. I decided however to bring up the matter again to my son a few months after. I drew his attention to the financial loss but stressed, he mattered to us more than the car. And he for his part understood, why parents are always right and why parents have this instinct about their children always.

This incident is not only an eye opener for my son, but also for me as to how to handle things. How to be in control of yourselves always. The manner in which the gang of boys decided to break the news to me still impresses me. How gently I was told about it, the positive things first, the negative things finally. Their entire gang turned out in the middle of the night to the accident site with no parent having any knowledge about the accident. They decided to hand-push the car to safety and under a tree that covered it with branches after they physically force-opened the car doors with machines to rescue my trapped son and his friend. They left no tell tale sign in the road that returned to normalcy soon as they moved the car. Such a self-assured cool attitude really bowled me over. Then the boys method of seeking a practical solution to the situation… without inviting attention… without complicating matters… where did they even learn this maturity. They had even considered the insurance claims, police complaint everything. The insurers re-drafted their claim in the absence of evidence and paid only 60% of damages. The other parties were city corporation who allowed parking of road roller in the street middle (there were signboards that did not help), the electricity board department who switched off power who were impossible to deal with.

So often we underestimate our children. They deserve better treatment. Three of my son’s friends also lost their fathers in their early 50s due to sudden massive heart attacks in the next couple of years. The boys have taken the harshest blows. They handled pressure extremely well and are already adults.

*******************************************************

HEART TO HEART

Make no bones about what is expected of your kid. Spell it out in concrete terms what you want in and what you want out.

In his undergrad years, I would tell my son this: ‘if you want to smoke, smoke at home in my presence. I don’t want to know of it through a third party. But remember, it is addictive and in future, you will have to spend a part of your hard earned money on cigarettes even if you are not bothered about your health.’ Being this generation, the boys need not have to be told of the ill-effects of smoking.

Same advice about boozing. I only tell my son that it is not good to even try often the things that can become addictive by nature. First it will be a weekly beer. Then it might become a daily habit. Alcoholics are born this way. Health is secondary. Time and finance and family peace are the first and major casualties.

Dealing openly in these matters can preempt any plans our boys may have about smoking/boozing. It kills their golden goose called ‘thrill!’ They will hate us for this, but will be grateful one day in future!

As for love affairs, I make it straight. ‘Only a Hindu girl’ I tell my son, ‘I just cannot accept a christian girl or muslim girl for my daughter-in-law. Do not have ideas that if you live in America, you can change my mind!!!’ Also I tell him, if he is not ready to marry a girl, it is not good to have a fling with her. Unless and until you can afford to run your own family, these things can wait.’

My friends have similar frank conversations with their daughters. My friends make it clear to their daughters that in our Indian/Hindu culture, a girl is expected to stay chaste until her marriage. We can be progressive by all means without compromising on our native culture and morality/ethics. Most times, this honestly helps. Especially if your kid is to study/reside/work abroad or even in a different town/city within India, reiterate the Indian values a thousand times and every time you converse with him/her. Once your kid, always your kid even if you may be 60 or 70 and he/she is 30 or 40.

Through every crisis in life, it is also very important for us parents to instill courage in our children over anything. We should not turn them into cowards over-protecting them. We can let them reach far, still holding the leash in our hands. Dissuade and discourage gently if you have to, never forcefully. Encourage and prod, wherever you must. Be there when your ward slips/falters. This is one time you must NEVER criticize. Never compare either with siblings or peers. Every kid’s pace of maturity is different.

Taking the crowded town bus and sweating it out with masses under hot tropical Indian sun are essential life conditioning processes our children have to undergo. No point in cushioning them and softening the blows for them. Let our children face their own demons, but let us be there for them for moral support  should need there be. In today’s man-eat-mat world, it is important for your son and daughter to be raised STREET SMART because this is basic survival skill.

Many ask me, how it is possible for me to let my only child (he is an adult now) live abroad. It was not my decision, it was his. One day when he was 20 years my son said he wanted to go to the United States for his higher studies. I laid down only one condition: that he had to earn it by merit. If he could secure with his grades a good university admission that we could approve of, then we would be ready to foot his expenses. We never helped him in any other way. He did everything on his own – my role now was limited to swiping my card.

A girl who was with my son in school topped the Carnegie Melon university in US with a gold medal. One  boy in Bangalore is a start-up wizard. One was handpicked by Microsoft to work in their Seattle office. One is with MGM working around the world. One is a sailor in a merchant vessel. One sells bikes in Chennai taking over his father’s business. My friend’s daughter was one of the 10 participants to be selected by Google for their Innovators conference. She is a hacking queen. She traveled to and fro America on a fully sponsored trip. Another spent a month in Canadian cold in January braving -30 c temperature where she was on an assignment for the bank she works for.

THE GOOD TOUCH-BAD TOUCH LOGIC

‘How it is always the woman’s fault.’

Is it possible to lock up girls anymore in this 21st century. One Pollachi and already I am rained with advices to stop blogging. That I blog controversial. That I need to think twice before I post something in social media. I am 50 for god’s sake and no man can be having ideas about me at this stage of life. Yet, as some friends insist, ‘women are women!!’

About Pollachi, a friend asserts, the caste rigidity complicates matters there. Families are extremely conservative even if forward when it comes to girls’ education or employment. Family honour means more to the southern districts of Tamil Nad. Daughters can be either pride or shame – only one of the two.  This explains the reluctance of the women victims from reporting sex crimes to the law enforcement agencies.

You switch on any tv channel and there are 24 hours sermons as to how ‘girls invite this to themselves.’ So much so that even my husband is asking me to stay safe !!! Mother-in-law asking me not to post pictures in social media as if I am a teenager waiting to be kidnapped! The kind of panic mode that has set in is alarming. Instead of stopping the criminals and rapists from committing further crimes, our society is asking us women to play it safe, avoid late night outings, clubs, bars, dress ‘decent’ and do away with drawing inadvertent attention to ourselves!

Schools in India, teach KG girls of 3 years how to distinguish between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch.’ My friends’ daughters grew up this way – being taught not to allow the school bus driver to touch them, to watch out for dirty uncles and cousins and neighbours. Do our schools ever teach our boys about how to ‘touch good’ and ‘not touch bad.’ 

You are asking our sisters and daughters and mothers and nieces and aunts to stay safe and play it safe. How many of us ask our brothers and sons and fathers and nephews and uncles to make it a safe world for women.

One Pollachi cannot be a reason for us to restrain our daughters and lock them behind doors. One ‘Nirbhaya’ (of the Delhi gang rape case) cannot put our daughters always on backfoot. This is so cowardly. Asking your daughter to carry pepperspray to protect herself (which is wise i don’t deny) but doing nothing to rein in the criminal who is out to offend/hurt her. Tweak our laws Govt of India – make ‘rape’ a non-bailable criminal offence which carries death for maximum sentence.

A friend said, it is also important not to victim-shame girls who have been through the worst. We as humans, have to rise above that. What a thought! Refreshing to come across this in Whatsapp: What a wonderful write-up.

CRIMES HAPPEN EVERYWHERE. 

Where is not crime in this world. I think of the Austrian girl impregnated by her own father in a dungeon-basement for years who finally escaped to freedom. Child pregnancies are too very common in America. We know the story in Afghanistan/Arab world. South American women are worst abused with drugs and initiated into prostitution. Tribes in Africa mutilate women’s genitals for fertility. Some are classified as crimes, some have societies’ sanction that’s the difference. Many a time, it is trusted family members and closest kin/friends who abuse women. If women do not report, this is most likely the case. Only in India we have caste/community prejudice clouding these issues. Naming and shaming criminals is not allowed to happen which encourages wrong elements. Questions to be asked are never asked. Fingers to be pointed are never pointed.

THE HORRIBLE TAMIL CINEMA LOGIC OF A VICTIM MARRYING HER RAPIST TO SAVE HER HONOUR.

Is marriage the only salvation for a woman?

I am sick of Tamil films that show the rape victims marrying their rapists. This is what our masses are fed or brainwashed with. I can recall at least two films from 1980s – my teens. Today, Kamal Hasan is into politics. To be specific, I recall his picture ‘Sagalakala Vallavan.’ Kamal’s sister in the film gets raped (why the rape scene at all. what a perverse mind would film a rape scene even in celluloid). He gets her married to the villain-rapist who finally he reforms. Visu shot to fame producing/directing family dramas. In one of his films, he shows actress Jayashree marrying/accepting as her husband Pandiyan who forcefully ties the Mangal Sutra in her neck. Is marriage only about Mangal sutra?  Visu later went on to become a popular tv personality debating social issues. Vijaykanth is another actor-turned politician from Tamil Nadu. In his film ‘Amman kovil kizhakkale’ he forcefully ties the knot around heroine Radha’s neck and makes him his wife publicly against her wishes. Radha is advised – like Visu film’s Jayashree – to accept the man and live with him and ‘reform’ .  Vijay is another upcoming actor-turned politician. You can see him stalk girls until they would fall in love with him in many of his pictures – same with Dhanush (who mercifully has so far kept out of politics). Most Tamil heroes in our pictures do not leave girls in peace shadowing them everywhere. The richest girls are shown to fall for the scummiest slum boys which never happens in real life.

One thing that completely belies me is that, how when so much is happening in your daughter’s life, a parent especially the mother can remain totally ignorant about it, completely blind to what nightmare the child is going through. You can’t pick up anything from her body language? Mood swings? What kind of mother you are.

Social media is a double edged weapon. You can use it to your benefit or to your detriment. And I trust our girls are literate enough to make an intelligent choice. Nothing happens without our consent at some level. Even in Nirbhaya’s case, I was shocked at the naivety of the young couple taking a lift from total strangers. I am not asking parents to keep your daughters at home sun down. But just talk some sense into your daughters. How to stay wise. I refuse to use the word safe. This is just commonsense. Always letting a third party know about our whereabouts is a smart thing to do.

Finally I wouldn’t want to condemn the entire male species to being nasty and dirty (that they are anyway) – because in my life personally, I have come across only the best men. May be that’s a blessing. I have been under the protective wings of my father, uncles and I have a loving family. Men in my family wouldn’t hurt a fly. They respect women a lot. Of course they are today’s men at the same time. I have said this before, i am repeating it now. When I complained that I had to take a midnight taxi to airport for my 4.30 am flight, my husband said, then if I wanted to feel safe, I should be ready to leave home by 8 pm and reach airport before 10. No concession because I am a woman.

Let us women steel ourselves – that is our first line of defence. Never ignore your intuition/natural instinct, this is your best guard, heed to it.  And when a crime still does take place, let us REPORT it. It will go a long way in stopping the crime from reoccurring. Let us be each other’s support system. Let us celebrate boldness and bravery and not find an excuse to prop up any cowardice in us. Let us take care of ourselves.

Boys or girls, they are our children. Boys are equally vulnerable. Let us be parents who our children can trust and confide in, than someone who they may fear. Love and affection and respect and trust and confidence our children repose in us will keep them in good stead. Last but not the least, avoid ugly scenes like bickering/arguing in front of your kids. Children feel safe and secure when parents make a happy home.

 

Posted in Temples Of India

Gopura Darshanam Kodi Punyam !

HINDU NATION HINDU SOUL : A PICTORIAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF ANCIENT HINDU TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE SPANNING MILLENNIA – A POETRY IN GRANITE

Punya bhoomi Bharath is my motherland. The southern state of Thamizh Naad is my home. This is where I grew up: amidst a surviving ancient civilization of Vedic culture and Hindu temples with a millennial past. Proud of my distinct native Thamizh Hindu culture and heritage. This page will be updated periodically. This is just a  milli-micro fraction … like some 0.000000001 or even less of what India is all about. This is pure pedigree. Rare, precious thing in the world. This is also what that has survived the mindless psychopathic destruction-devastation that saw razing of thousands and thousands more by the Mogul, Turk, Arab, Persian invaders for about eight hundred years before the British took over for another two hundred. India is the last heaven on earth of the natives.

Photo Credits: Madhu Jagadesh, Sculpture enthusiast’s FB page (hope that’s okay), Google Images and My personal (cell phone and old digicam)

 

 

 

Posted in Women & Family

Why India does not celebrate the International Women’s Day

I am the daughter of a working mother who taught the deaf and dumb high school girls (they were still called that then, not referred to as the speech and hearing impaired), earning her living as a bold and fiercely independent woman since 1964. Yes, half a century before, my mother was a teacher who was trained to teach special kids. She passed away in service, working until the last day of her life. I am enjoying the fruits of my mother’s sweat and labour by way of investments to the present as she secured our lives the best she could when she was around. This woman I hardly knew. She is kind of a stranger to me now, yet she is one woman who can bring me to tears right this moment even as I blog away about her. I cannot pass through her school 36-37 years after she left, without breaking down. That is her powerful presence that shadows me forever. She is there with me when she is not there. What I love most about my mom is that, she made her own decisions. She shopped, she went to cinemas and plays, visited temples, enjoyed good music and food and books (Tamil) and lived it up. She was also a smart investor. My mother was clearly ahead of her times. She missed only one thing: looking after her own health. A big lesson for my generation women here. Women tend to neglect their health, but its a huge, huge mistake. Family suffers for this lack of foresight. Women must take their health rather seriously because they are the backbone of their families. Their indisposition may have a cascading effect on our entire systems – for worse. My Women’s Day message is always for women to take better care of themselves first. The short life of my mother that was rich in every other way is a reminder to me as I pledge to eat right, exercise and stay healthy as long as I can.

Women who can manage their homes well only can shoulder further responsibilities at national level.

Our External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj became the first woman minister to speak as Guest of Honour from India at OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit this week. Sushmaji went on to quote from sacred Hindu texts the Vedas and Shri Vivekananda, the world renowned Hindu saint who attended the Chicago World Parliament of Religions over a century before.

Hindu women remain the most underestimated ladies in the world because we don’t give up our traditions and customs, and we refuse to get anglicized/westernized or ‘arabised.’ Clothes or accessories or  your English language prowess have nothing to do with who you are. Strong and bold women from India emphasize this naked truth every time they are on world stage. Thank you ministers, you did India proud! India is your responsibility – this 1.3 billion nation. Our PM Shri Narendra Modiji cannot have better ambassadors.

“If women are gifts, then the sari is the best gift wrap”

Indian women abroad are also representatives of the Hindu Dharma outside India. Indian culture is something that must never be compromised. Wear your heritage and pedigree proudly on your sleeve. Do not succumb to the temptation of becoming a cheap duplicate of the West or Middle East. We are Indians, we are the Hindus, and we are what we are.

This is how women are described in ancient Sanskrit scripture. The Shloka was penned thousands of years before when women did not work outside their homes.

  • Karyeshu Dasi: dutiful like a servant
  • Karaneshu Mantri : gives intelligent advice like a minister
  • Bhojeshu Mata: feeds like a mother (in this context, feeds her husband the same way his mother would have fed him)
  • Shayaneshu Ramba : Pleases in bed like the heavenly beauty Rambha (celestial courtesan in Hindy mythology)
  • Roopeshu Lakshmi : Beautiful like Goddess Lakshmi (beautiful and bountiful like the very Goddess of Wealth Lakshmi – lucky omen for her husband)
  • Kshmayeshu Dharitri : Having patience and forbearance like Earth
  • Shat dharma yuktah: woman who has these six virtues
  • Kula dharma Patni : woman married into the Kula (family) (Kula is a family tree/clan; each Hindu is born with a Kula and Gotra which was why conversion was impossible. Only in recent years, Hindu Dharma sees voluntary conversions in large numbers from around the world) (the family tree grows with the woman becoming part of a specific Kula once she marries into the circle)

Feminists may disagree. My kind of feminism is not that of the placard holders. My idea of feminism is practical. Building a happy home, raising a responsible family (our children, future citizens of the nation) are more of a woman’s responsibility, the way I see it. For the simple reason, I don’t trust men for the role except in very extraordinary circumstances. Women continue to get pregnant when men don’t. Courts still give custody of children to mother over father on priority, in divorce proceedings. I wouldn’t want to deny my biological factor which shapes me the way I am. Men and women and equal in some ways and different in others. In the name of feminism, no woman can still take off her shirt in public and parade topless even in America. Being feminine today earns you the label ‘sexist.’ Being Tomboy has come to mean ‘feminist’. This is such a wrong and ill-conceived notion. Where I come from, women are an intriguing mix of everything. Indian women at least, are an enigma. Why should we fit into stereotypes.

In India, Navrathri – the 9 day Hindu festival that culminates in the 10th day Dushshera-Vijayadashami, is women-centric. Hindu Goddesses constitute equal and 50% of their male counterparts in our culture. I am a She Worshiper as much. An all-male God is unthinkable for a Hindu. The International Women’s Day makes no sense to us. It is for those who deny women equal rights. India has had a woman Prime Minister for 17 long years in the past: the charismatic Indira Gandhi, the woman who led India to a crucial war against Pakistan in 1971, who took on the likes of the then US President Nixon and Henry Kissinger bravely and defended the nation from foreign aggression.

Who says we have patriarchy in India. They cannot be more wrong. No society can be more matriarchal in reality than India.

Yesterday was still a time to recap little things from grassroots. Of how my friend who went to work in scooter in 1994 some 40 km up and down during her pregnancy – until she had her normal delivery. Roads then were potholed and a week before she went into labour, she even met with an accident and fell off her two-wheeler. Miraculously neither the mother nor the unborn daughter of hers got hurt.  An other friend is a single parent who has raised her son amid hardship, who is excelling in his chosen field of study today. She is an innocent divorcee, from her son’s second year and a working mother who never remarried. Another one is a widow but is always on road to earn her living. She tended to her husband who was ailing for years with ‘cerebral atrophy.’ My friends are made of steel. My aunt who served as a teacher too for a whopping 35 years, has had a double mastectomy – yes she is a cancer survivor. She has also had a double knee replacement surgery. She is a fountain of inspiration when it comes to women’s health – and in fact used to counsel breast cancer patients.

My bosom buddy from school was paralyzed head to foot thanks to JBS (a syndrome that affects our nervous system) virus for 4 years, soon after her delivery when her bodily defences were low. She not only recovered fully with physiotherapy, she continues to light our way as a beacon of hope by leading a normal life like any of us today, a good 15 years after she was afflicted and confined to bed.

Every woman has a story to tell. Every woman has a story she can relate to. A woman i know takes care of her mentally and physically retarded son from birth. The boy is now 7 years. The infinite patience and love of this young mother will break your heart. Another elegant septuagenarian lady, my friend’s mother, raised her younger daughter who was born with Down’s syndrome. She is a retired school teacher who tours the world with her 35 year old childish daughter in toe always. Together the mother and daughter have a whale of a good time. The daughter can take care of herself, a rarity given her condition. The mother trained her in personal hygiene through grueling years. Only a woman can be this, can do this. The half-child daughter of hers is in her fertile years. She leads a physically normal life without help which is a feat.

I doubt how many men have this kind of patience, tolerance, love, affection. Women are gifted by nature with these incomparable qualities. It is easy to tag some of us as ‘housewives’ who do nothing productive. Is it. I have always believed we women, and more so we housewives, function as catacomb binding and securing the family together under one roof. Our rewards are not financial. We get paid by way of quality life for our family.

Indian women are extremely strong and made of sterner stuff. There is substance to our women, not mere exterior sheen. Let us raise a toast to our womanhood – I see my Devis (Goddesses) in my friends, in my mother-in-law, in my nieces and cousins, in my sister, in my aunts. They are the living goddesses who enrich my life. I do not know of others. As far as I am concerned, I can gel well only with women friends of mine. Making male friends is still difficult for me, and is probably too late. With my women, I can be myself. With men – even if their intentions may be good – I have to be formal, i have to even watch my clothes. I am comfortable in women’s company. I cherish my women friends and feel blessed they are part of my life.

My friends do not frequent beauty salon. They do not hide their age. They take care of their elders. They have raised beautiful families they are proud of. In this hour, I wish to remember my two friends who have not lived to see this day. They both passed away due to cancer two years back. The girls who attended same class with me. One sat next to me for 2 years in standard 11 and 12 at school. She ran her own school for autistic children and was an exponent of classical Carnatic music. She was also a double PhD in teaching children with special needs.

My women are doctors, engineers, directors of companies, accountants, fitness instructors, teachers, journalists, lawyers and of course housewives. India teems with brilliant womenfolk. Our Chennai-born Indra Nooyi was world Pepsico boss. Indian born and Indian origin astronauts have flown into space. Women drive trains in my country. I have been flown twice to Doha by women pilots in an Indian airline. Sky is our limit. Literally.

We are proud of the outgoing Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi who has asserted in many interviews worldwide, how she is a mother at home to her daughters, wife to her husband and daughter to her mother.

Today is also the day to remember our housemaids, women nurses, janitors, farmhands, tailors, factory workers, bus drivers, women masons, cooks, street hawkers, vegetable, fruit and flower vendors, sales girls, receptionists, clerks, beauticians, women in armed forces, actors, etc., who make our life more comfortable. There is dignity in labour.  If not for these sisters of ours, rest of us cannot be having it this easy.

And finally everyone of us is a worthy woman in her own right. We may be singles/spinsters, lesbians, widows, divorcees, childless – but we are complete by ourselves. Lord Shiva is also called the ‘Ardhanaari’ because He absorbed Shakthi as His other Half. In Tamil we say, ‘Shivam illayel Shakthi Illai, Shakthi Illaiyel Shivam Illai’ – it means ‘There is no Shiva without Shakthi, and no Shakthi without Shiva.’ I beg to differ even in that. Shakthi is wholesome on Her own. If Shiva can complement her, fine. Bonus.

This year we school girls are celebrating our golden jubilee – all of us girls are 50. Most of us have also celebrated in last few years our silver wedding anniversaries. We look forward to bat to 75 not out at least! That’s our spirit as we work out, practise Yoga, eat healthy, go on all-girls tours without spouse/family, party yet philosophize (are we that age already?!) and generally stay healthy and happy! We shop till we drop and we drink up on life! Kudos to womanhood! The Feminine.