Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Letter to Her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Eid Mubarak ~Ye Le Teri Eidi!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thought wrong!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sonnal Pardiwala