Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax


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You are Not Alone

   The world has become unbearable to me. The more I try to center myself and tap into inner peace, the more junk it throws at me. I love the trash-to-treasure idea but what do you do with random acts of violence with absolutely no motive or reasoning. It’s hard to erase those images from your psyche.

  My husband lovingly calls me the ‘enlightened one’ – what with my 24/7 obsession with making everything right with the world and my irresistible need to give advice to everyone about everything. But I was beginning to think he is mistaken. I’m barely keeping my head above the water. But it’s not like I’m going through the worst time of my life. Those years are way behind me. So then it got me thinking about those years when I felt all alone and a slave to my never-ending problems. Where was God, where were the signs, where were His/Her people?

   This is what I sensed from deep within. Even in your moments of deep despair, I was there whispering words of reassurance. You heard the words but didn’t know it was me. And then this song just popped into my head – ‘In the Arms of the Angel’ from the soundtrack of the movie “City of Angels”. I used to hear that song over and over when I was in Pondicherry, hating the course I was doing and wanting to quit. It was a very tough phase, with lots of tears and regret and doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. Back then it was just a song to me and it did not occur to me that I was being guided.

  Through several hits and misses I see how I was protected and saved from situations that would have taken me down  the road to damnation. When I had to deal with heartache I stumbled upon a kind saint and his compassionate words  to help me through it.

 Which brings me to the poem I want to share with you. I want you to know that whatever it is that you are going through you are not alone. Not even physically alone because me and several others are with you down that path. Struggling with the ugliness of the world before it disappears for good. All that we need to do is have faith that we will be swept away on the wings of angels and can live without a care.

 

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to me and the other belonged to God.

When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at certain times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me and I questioned God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints in the sand. I don’t understand why in times I needed You most You would leave me.”

God replied,”My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints in the sand it was then that I was carrying you.”

Mary Stevenson.


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Yo-Yo Feminism and the Unsung Glories of a Die-Hard Housewife…

My mom had this plaque on the living room wall when I was a kid. It read…

I’m just a little housewife

With dishes three times a day

With laundry and cleaning and cooking

And toys to put away

Now it’s not that I mind the housework

Or the screaming kids at play 

It’s that husband that burns me

When he says with a smile

Did you do anything today??!!??       

I’d like to say that is the story of my life. But that wouldn’t be true. I go back and forth between being a domestic goddess and a die-hard feminist.  You just have to walk into the house to know which avatar has taken hold of me. The DG version will have the house vacuumed, dishes done and dinner prepared well ahead of time. She will also be humming a tune as she scrubs the tub and she might even bake a batch of cookies for the kids.

It’s a whole different story when the feminist takes over. You will have to hop over the shoes strewn in the foyer to get to the living room, from where you can see the mountain of dishes piled up in the sink. Your truly will be on the couch wearing a grungy T-shirt and stained PJs. As the kids rummage the kitchen for something to eat, la femme reluctantly uproots herself from the couch and grudgingly makes dinner. Cupboards will be slammed, pots and pans banged around, while she mutters something about being a slave!

The unsuspecting husband walks in. “Hello”, he pipes. Only to be met with an icy stare. He knows better than to say something because that is all she needs. One word and she’ll start her tirade against all men and the thankless job of being a housewife.

Out here in the U.S., nobody uses the term housewife. It’s home maker or stay-at-home mom, which are equally unglamorous, unless you are in a reality show – The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! These glam dolls just have to dress up, have lunch dates and dinner parties, launch perfumes, vodkas or clothing lines (another excuse for a party!). They also meet with their dermatologists and plastic surgeons regularly. They are a poor representation of the common housewife and a sorry lot.

While there is some part of me that envies them- the part that doesn’t like housework I’m guessing – I wouldn’t last a day in their silicone/botox world. Also being a person who hates the limelight I’d rather live a life of obscurity than have a camera crew taping my every move! So all I can do is pretend I’m a diva and expect the imaginary help to do the chores. When I’m done with being a diva or the house starts to stink, whichever come first, I suck it up and go back to being domestic goddess.

An unpaid job is a thankless job. There is no reward for cleaning up your house except that you have a clean house. There is no reward for cooking fresh meals for your family, except that you all enjoy vibrant health. There is no glory in showing up day after day at the bus stop to pick up your kids after school. No glory in sweating it out in a hot soccer field as your child plays. No bonuses to be had. No promotions to work for. Just the quiet satisfaction of watching your children grow up. Just having enough time to smell the flowers. Just the wisdom to know that life is magical and is unfolding right before your eyes.

Oh who am I kidding? I have often wished fairy god mother would show up, wave her wand and turn me into a princess and turn the mice and cockroaches in my house into maids, cooks and ladies-in-waiting! Until then I will never cease to sing my glories, be a domestic goddess and fight for my rights!

P.S. Domestic goddess just read this post and she insists there are NO mice or cockroaches in the house. Did I mention she was appalled?


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Calling All Warriors…

I’m not done saying all that I wanted to say about the treatment of women in India. There’s more to the story. It pains me to write about this but someone has to do it. My sincere prayer is that you are moved by my words to take action. I hope and pray that I too can go beyond just these words of mine to do something to change the future of women in India and other parts of the world.

A woman’s struggle doesn’t start when she is a girl. It starts much earlier. In the womb. Ultrasound technology which should be used only to detect birth defects and possible difficulties in labor is now used to determine the sex of the baby. The obsession with having only boys has driven many men and their families to take possession of women’s bodies and their reproductive rights. Forced abortions without the consent of the mother done by demonic doctors is a commonplace occurrence.

Little did I know that before I was born, women in the U.S. struggled with similar issues. I’m not talking about female feticide but rape, domestic violence and inequality. There were no laws in place for crimes against women and men just got away with everything. Women were dependent on them and didn’t have the courage to speak out. They couldn’t get credit cards in their names. No contraception. No abortion. Imagine if these women never fought, never broke the mold, never rallied for equality. Then where would we be? We’d be at home, doing the dishes and in all probability we wouldn’t be able to vote or go to war!

The images from America’s past took me to present day India where girls 9,7 and 11 were raped and murdered. And the world goes on. People wake up, drink their coffee and go to work. Life goes on. Apathy so deep-rooted that it has made us sick. We need to revive the Women’s movement. Not just in India but all over the world. See what the Women’s movement in the U.S. has accomplished. And don’t you roll your eyes and say it’s not possible in India. Martin Luther King had no idea that when he fought for civil rights in the U.S. it would spill over to South Africa and end apartheid. If it worked for African-American rights it can work for Women’s rights. Why even look to other countries for inspiration? We as a nation stood up to the British super powers and sent them packing.

We did not fight to be a free nation only to succumb to demons from our past. The very demons that Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Subramanya Bharathi tried to rid our society of. We did not oust the British to be governed by a bunch of unscrupulous thugs. It won’t take a small group of protesters in a few cities to change things. It will take every woman in every corner of the world. You cannot look away, ignore and not care. Your sisters need you. Not tomorrow or in a few days when you think you have the time or when you think you are ready. But now. Right now.

When something happens to one of our sisters anywhere in the world I want to hear every woman protest loudly and openly. Demand justice. Do everything in your power to help. If you don’t you will be an abettor, a facilitator and you will have to one day stand in judgement for not speaking up for those without a voice, those that have been violated or forever silenced.

If the cops and the justice system will not help women who have been wronged, let’s open shelters for these women. Let this be the first place they got to. Where they are not shamed or judged. But listened to and comforted. Doctors, counsellors, cops and lawyers who want to serve these women can help out at these shelters.

As you read this, many women will endure another night of battering, girls will be preyed upon by sexually aggressive men. Some will live and some will die. Some of these men will be punished. Some will go scot-free and hurt many more. You can read this and go on about your life as usual or you can don the raiment of a warrior woman. Take every slight against every woman personally. Say enough is enough. And fight till your last breath. Till a new era dawns and India can hold its head high and every woman can be free of fear.