Monday, January 26, 2009


26th January

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of Silence

I have a good friend who is an epitome of silence. It is not that she is a recluse but actively participates in conversations, puts across her views where necessary and mostly listens. She is aware that the virtue of silence is not in remaining mute, but speaking only when necessary. She is different from many who revel in monopolising conversations and in listening to their own voices. They indulge in empty talk speaking more than what the occasion or the question demands. It is not as measured and precise as is the case when we put our thoughts in writing. It is more a rambling thought process. It is always tempting to fill silent interludes with words whether necessary or not. Given a chance these long-winded people take over the conversation and do not allow others to express their opinion. They do not read the body languages or the non verbal clues of their listeners and keep talking not always relevant to the topic under discussion. I have seen people moving away when these bores join the group.

This set me thinking whether silence is a virtue and if it were so why this virtue is the most disregarded one.We should practice silence even amidst the busy surroundings. We need not talk continuously or give our opinion on all issues. It is enough if we listen unless required to speak out by the exigencies of office or situation. In fact silence is at times more powerful than spoken words. Such self effacing people as my friend command more respect than chatterboxes and are relied with confidences. In the midst of noises from loud talking, blaring music, honking of vehicles, all around us from all sources, there is a greater need for silence. In order to control one’s mouth and what one says requires great effort and achieved by very few. We cannot in search of silence rush to the forests or uninhabited places. We have to find the inner peace in the places where we live and work. Practising long periods of silence, although difficult initially, brings inner solace and peace. All the religions emphasise the importance of silence towards spiritual progess.It is only in the stillness and silence that there can be communion with the Ultimate. For this purpose meditation is practised to obtain this sense of tranquillity and inner calm. One can feel the powerful presence of God only in solitude which means keeping away from the distractions and noises of day to day life. Only “these two virtues, silence and solitude, enable us to transcend the emptiness of our life.” Prayer enables one to achieve this skill to drown the outer noises and sink into silence.

Silence is beneficial in many other ways. It prevents impulsive outbursts and the inevitable regrets later. It relieves the person from stressful situations and allows him to deliberate clearly and confidently on the issues. Those who practise silence turn out to be good listeners.

“The power of silence leads to a heightening of thought, of creativity and of understanding. It makes for a dynamic balance in our daily lives. For a few moments during, the day, let the world go by. In the words of revered Buddhist seeker, Lama Angarika Govinda: “You listen and hear the Silence /You listen and smell the Silence/You listen and taste the Silence/You listen and feel the embrace of the Silence.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winning an argument with the spouse

- by KParthasarathi 27 Jan 2009
Sometimes we do not say what is in our mind for fear of hurting people. This silence can cause problems. Contrarily we tell immediately what is in our mind and this also can create misunderstandings. What do we do? There is no hard and fast rule. There is a time and place for everything. A wrong timing or place can do harm to relationship.
Sharmila did not mean to hurt Sanjay.Yet when he came from office and went straight to give her a bear hug, she said, “Sanjay, you smell a lot. Take a wash and change your dress before you come near me. Sorry, don’t take me amiss.”
It was a truthful statement as he was stinking after the long drive in the afternoon to the project site. The ‘sorry’ did little to assuage the hurt in Sanjay.He looked at her with anger in his eyes and moved away.Sharmila did not expect him to react this way to what she considered a reasonable comment. She was right but chose a wrong moment especially when he was wishing to express his love for her after a long day. She could have mentioned later when they watched TV after dinner.
When he came after the bath, he did not go near her but sat on the sofa to watch TV. She knew he was upset. When she took a cup of tea that he usually took, he declined saying he didn’t need it.
“Why are you angry? Even the kids have complained that you stink. You know I am your well wisher and if I don’t tell you, who will? Your friends, you must have noticed, are probably keeping away from you” said Sharmila. This made matters worse. The act of deriving support from the statements of children and an insinuation that friends are possibly keeping away infuriated him. He refused to believe what he considered a hearsay statement from the kids.
He blurted out in anger “I have not been telling you not wishing to hurt your felicity that every time I come near you, your mouth repels me. You don’t brush your teeth well. Often I feel like throwing up. Being considerate, I have been putting up with you. Don’t think you are a paragon of cleanliness and personal hygiene.”
“Oh, you talk like this. Do you know the sleepless nights I suffer from with your loud nonstop snoring? Have I ever mentioned about this even once? How heartless you can be accusing me with nonsense when I brush my teeth twice daily?”
What started an innocuous statement had graduated into full blown mutual possibly exaggerated accusations and resulted in both going to bed without their dinner.
There was no attempt on both sides to understand each other. The issues were never dealt with patiently at anytime but started as accusations. Instead of indulging in ridicule or sarcasm, there should have been a friendly chat when both were in happy mood and in receptive mood to other’s view points. It must be agreed by both that the arguments resulted from a real issue that had to be resolved. Putting up with sweat and smell however close the couple might be is certainly not conducive for bonding. The initial dislike may run the risk of spiraling into incompatibility. The entire unpleasant situation could have been avoided had care been taken about timing and also either of them ending the argument by some acceptance of some responsibility. Ego has no place in close relationships.
Some tactics may help.
See the purpose behind the accusation or argument. If the intention is honest and shows a genuine concern from the accuser, accept it with grace and address it in a comfortable manner.
Avoid ridicule, sarcasm, and offending tone. The purpose of the argument is lost if anger is provoked without eliciting a proper response to the message that is conveyed.
Never resort to making others agree that you were right and that the mistake lay with them. Just leave the message directly in pleasant tone which would be surely be taken note of.
May be if all these things fail, it may be necessary to show resentment and show anger to make others know that you are interested in them and care for them. But that should be the last resort. Expressing resentment is preferable than suffering in silence and allowing the chasm to grow wider. In some cases anger may actually trigger affection and emotional closeness too.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com
www.kparthas.blogspot.com

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kindness is in our power

- by KParthasarathi 21 Jan 2009

Srinivas returns home from office late every day. He takes the metro train to his home as it is very fast enabling him reach home in less than a hour. The snag is this mode is not preferred by commuters after 8pm as the stations are deserted, dark and desolate. Ladies strictly avoid them whatever be the urgency. The stations are too situated a little away from the main thoroughfares. Srinivas does not bring even his two wheeler, let alone his Maruti, as there is no secured parking shed to take care of vehicles. You can only see some loiters or shady characters moving around in the vicinity. Srinivas as a rule does not carry money more than five hundred rupees or valuables except his mobile. On pay days he takes a taxi home. But one night when he alighted from the station and was walking towards the exit, he saw an unshaven young man in his early twenties walking towards him. Srinivas looked around. Not a soul was visble.The station was dark except at a few places and prevented an ideal background for crime.
The man pulled out a blade and said in a gruff tone "Give me your purse and the mobile." Srinivas without a murmur handed him the both. The man was not even in twenties as he had surmised but just a stockily built teen around eighteen.
As the boy started moving away, Srinivas said "Hey , can you give me ten rupees as I have to take a bus?"
There was a baffled look on his face. He didn't say anything but took out a twenty rupee note and offered it.
Sinivas took courage and asked him “You look so young and seem to be a good man by readily giving me the money for my bus fare. Why do you do this job that is risky and certainly not an honourable one. You don't have to answer if you choose to."
He looked at sharply at Srinivas's eyes and after hesitation said "I am a plus two passed and have no job. I have an old mother and younger sister at home. My mom is sick and cannot work. The girl is just thirteen and studying. I have no other go as I have to support the family."
As they were walking, Srinivas said "That is not the right answer.If all the unemployed took to mugging, the city would abound in muggers. Why don't you learn some skill and earn honestly like everyone. else"
I know no skill. I have no money to spend. I have to earn at least hundred or two hundred to keep the kitchen fire burning.I haven't taken any food since morning. I will use this money to take some idli or briyani for the two at home."
Srinivas gently patted the boy and told him "You seem good natured and affectionate to your mom and sister.I am happy about it. Are you willing to change and ready to lead an honest living if I show you a way?"
"Most willingly, Sir.I am not comfortable with this.I am always afraid I will turn to be a thief and slide into a life of bigger crime. I am also terribly afraid that I may go prison one day bringing shame to my mom and sister. My mom would commit suicide if she knew how I bring her the money.' he replied
Suddenly he took out the purse, took out just a hundred rupee note and returned the purse and the mobile. He said "I have not seen anyone talking to me so kindly. Most are scared and try to run away or scream for help. You are the first one to treat me as another human being and talk to me gently. Sorry I had to take the hundred rupees as my mom and sister at home would be hungry."
Srinivas said" Never mind. Have another hundred. I trust you. I will show you a way.Tomorrw is Saturday and I will be at my home. Come to my place at 10 am. We will discuss. Please do not come if you are not determined to change from this wretched way of life."
It was noon the next day. The boy had not come. Srinivas was vexed that he was cheated. He had a hope of transforming a young boy from a life of crime and shame to decent living. He felt that it was difficult to transform people given to crime and cheating. He was greatly disappointed and told his wife how even if he wanted to help someone, he could not.
Two days later as he was leaving for his office, he saw the boy standing at the gate and hesitating whether to enter or not. Srinivas was surprised as he saw a faint glimmer of hope at a refined criminal." Sir, excuse me, I could not come as promised on Saturday. My mom fell down and broke her leg. I had to take her to hospital and tend to her. We pledged some brass vessels we had to get the money. Your two hundred also helped us. I am determined not to lead a life of shame. I am willing to work hard. Please show me a way."
Srnivas decided immediately to take a day off. He took the boy to his automobile workshop who ran a travel service too. He met the owner known to him well and spoke to him privately for a few minutes. The boy was called inside. The owner said 'I will take you in my company for the sake of my Srinivas Sir. The boys will teach you driving in three days time. Sir has agreed to pay for the license. We will also teach you car mechanics. Once you get the license I will employ you as a driver. Till then I will pay you a stipend. You will work with the boys here. But before that I would like my foreman to visit your house now with you and meet your mother and sister to know what you are saying is genuine. Are you willing to work?"
The boy with tears in the eyes fell flat at the feet of the owner and Srinivas and said in choked voice" I would be indebted for life to you both. Turning to Srinivas he said "It would be a great honour if you can also visit me house and see my mother in bandage. You will then know that I cannot utter a lie to my living God."
When Srinivas narrated the happening to his wife later that day, his wife said “I am not surprised at all. I am fortunate to have such a kind hearted husband who is even willing to undergo hardship to help someone who deserves. You treat everyone with kindness, even those who do harm to you-not because they are nice to you, but because you are.”Kpartha12@hotmail.com


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Revenge

- by KParthasarathi 06 Feb 2009

“Ravi, what you are doing is not right. You have been running around with Vinita when you are already engaged to Sarala.It is not fair once you have committed to marry someone else. Even though you are not yet married to Sarala, it is plain cheating. You must move away from Vinita for the good of both” said his friend Ram.
Ravi laughed and replied “Oh don’t be such a prude. My marriage is slated only three months hence. How does it matter to Sarala what I do till then. Vinita and I like each other. How does it bother you?’
“Didn’t you tell me that you had assured Vinita that you will marry her? She is trusting you and giving herself to you in the hope of both getting married. I would not approve of this” said Ram
Ravi with an impish smile said “Forget it. It is all common in love and if she is foolish she will have to pay the price.”
--0--
“Sarala, you have been dating Mohan for almost three years and have gone very intimate with him going out with him now and then to holiday spots. How can you ditch him and settle for Ravi? Is it not a clear betrayal?” asked her friend.”
”Tell me what am I do when this Mohan is virtually a pauper and lives on his meagre monthly salary. He keeps counting money even when he takes me out to cheap joints. No doubt he keeps me happy. But I cannot imagine a life of want when all I need is luxury and a foolish husband who will shower money on me and allow me to do what pleases me most. Ravi is garishly rich with huge business interests and property. I will nevertheless be intimate with Mohan as hitherto even after my wedding to Ravi but will not marry him” replied Sarala
“You are not only an untrue lover but also a likely cheater.Fie on you” said her friend.
--0--
“Vinita” called her roommate Sharanya.”I hear you are getting married to Ravi and that both of you are already going steady and intimate. Is it true?’
“Yeah, he is madly in love with me and has promised to marry me within three or four months. You know I need someone in the circumstances I am placed.”
Sharanya asked her “Did you not tell him that you tested positive for HIV? How can you spoil a young man’s life? What you are doing is totally unethical and dishonest.”
“He never asked me. Why should I volunteer information that would take him away from me?” said Vinita
--0--
In life God has His own mysterious ways to punish the wicked. None can cheat Him. People think they are clever only to be overtaken by revenge from unexpected quarters.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The good Samaritan

- by KParthasarathi 16 Jan 2009

I was travelling to Howrah station by taxi. I had to reach Chennai the second day without fail. The pressing work in the office did not permit me to leave the earlier day. Even as the taxi was nearing Esplanade I felt giddy. I could not sit up with everything swirling upside down. I felt an urge to throw up. The driver turned to look at me anxiously but I motioned him to proceed. By the time the vehicle reached Howrah station, the giddiness became worse. An old porter nearing sixty came towards the car and sized up the situation in a jiffy after a small chat with the driver. “Don’t worry, I will carefully take you to Coramandel Express and put you in your berth. Can you get down from the car?” he asked. I had a heart attack a couple of years back. I was worried but was not sure whether this was connected with it. It was the first time I had this problem. But I was determined to reach Chennai come what may. I struggled to come out but could not stand. He took my luggage in one hand and with his other arm around me, he gently took me a few steps away and made me sit on a raised kerb. He requested me to wait assuring me that he would be back within five minutes. He came soon with a trolley and asked me sit on it along with my box. When I declined he said “Sir, don’t you want to go to Chennai? We have only thirty minutes more. Please sit and do not bother about others. You recline on your box.”
I was at the entrance of the compartment within five minutes. I could not get up due to vertigo. I was still reclining on the box on the trolley. Some of the passersby looked at me amusingly while some had anxious look in their faces. It was then one young man of around 27 stopped by my side and asked “Any problem, Sir? May I help you board the train. What is the coach and seat number? There is not much time left. Would you like to undertake the journey in this condition or cancel it?”
I managed to tell him that I must travel without fail and should be at Chennai on the second day. He took me in his arms and along with the porter virtually lifted me to take me to my berth. He said” Do not worry. I am also travelling to Chennai. I am travelling in the second adjacent compartment behind this. I will request the TTE to allot a berth next to me by exchanging. I will come in half an hour. Just lie down and relax.” I could not thank the porter adequately but stuffed a hundred rupee note in his grateful hands.
After about forty five minutes the young man came to my side and said “ I have managed to get the lower berth for you. I will be in the middle berth. So everything should be fine. Please do not worry.” He escorted me along with my luggage to the allotted seat. As I was still giddy I could not talk to him much. He brought me coffee which I could not drink. I slept off the whole day. I was feeling slightly better. The next morning I was feeling slightly better but could not sit up for long. That young man vacated his seat to enable me lie down. He sat here and there. He got me coffee and some lunch and frequently enquired of my condition. I was touched by his kindness and helpful nature. Being unwell I could not talk to him much except for the expression of thanks once a while.
When the train reached Chennai Central, he offered to drop me at my home on his way to his place. I told him that I was expecting my nephew and thanked him again for his good nature. He thrust his card in my pocket and left when he saw my nephew. When my wife and daughter who had reached earlier saw my zombie look became worried and made anxious queries. I had finalised on a good match for my daughter and the man chosen was to come along with his parents and sisters for seeing my daughter in the evening. I was therefore particular about not missing my train. The local doctor said everything was fine and gave me a tablet. I became fine once I was with my family.
It was 5pm. My daughter had already visited a beauty parlour and was looking at her dazzling best. Sweets and snacks were ready. The jasmine and rose flowers spread their fragrance along with joss sticks to create the right ambience. We heard the noise of a car drawing up. We all stood up in readiness to welcome them. It was then I received the utmost surprise when I saw the young Samaritan who helped me in the train entering my house with parents and siblings. He stepped forward and asked “Uncle, how are you now? Feeling better? What a pleasant surprise to meet you here.”
My wife and others looked at me bewildered. When I explained how I could make the trip with the help of the young man, there were peals of laughter. I expressed my apology to the young man about my not having seen his card. Needless to say, he became my son in law.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com
www.kparthas.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Times have changed, so have values

by KParthasarathi 05 Jan 2009
When I was a young boy of fifteen years a few decades back, a beggar woman used to come twice a week in the mornings. She was young with a chiselled face, sharp features and quite attractive. What irritated my mom and sisters was that she was always scantily dressed with a low neck blouse that showed her cleavage and exposed her voluptuous bosoms partly. She carried a small baby nursing the child even though it was two years or more. She was draped in a towel like cloth that was short in length and torn in places revealing her thighs. She will not go until she was given some change. She will call “Ayya, ayya’ inviting the men folk to witness her pitiable condition. The moment I hear her voice, there will be a spate of calls from my sisters and mom”Partha, don’t come out. Stay where you are. That shameless woman is here.” They will hurriedly give her some change to send her away quickly. But she would linger and cast sideways glance to see whether any eyes are looking at her. My curiosity aroused I will invariably peep through the window to see her who would be partially hidden by the plants and the walls.
My mother gave her two saris and a few blouses asking her to wear them whenever she came out to beg. But she would not use them and come in the same insufficiently dressed manner. When admonished by mom at her shamelessness, she would reply, “Amma, sorry, please do not mistake me. Unless I come in this way, people do not give alms. The moment I enter a house, the ladies rush to give me money and send me away to save me from the prying eyes of their husbands and grown up sons. I wear the clothes you gave while at my home.” My mom would tell her “Your logic is strange. Can you show your skin to earn money? Why don’t you work in some household and earn an honest living?” She would reply “Amma, I belong to gypsy community. My man would not allow me to work in other houses. We keep shifting base frequently. In the afternoons I make necklaces with cheap but colourful beads and he sells them. I am good woman and faithful to my man.” The logic and values of well-to-do never applied to them. It is a tough world posing challenges to the poor people. Extreme poverty drives some people to compromise on some values.
This set me thinking about the present days when nothing seems to shock us. Obscenity manifests in various ways. The extent of sexual depravity and extreme vulgarity has assumed alarming proportions. The obscenity prevalent in films, disco bars, advertisements, internet, literature and everywhere have numbed our minds. Voyeurism is an accepted habit amongst youngsters. Blue films and live shows take place stealthily. Cinema theatres slip in obscene clips in between film scenes to attract crowd. Some lament that the commercialisation of entertainment and media industry has posed a serious threat to our culture.
The problem is the widely differing perceptions of what is obscene and what is not. What is obscene to X is not to Y.The cancellation of licenses to bar dances in Mumbai invited mixed reactions. The definition of anything ‘impure, indecent and lewd” is itself subject to different interpretations even in the courts of law. They are subjective in nature as no clear guidelines are possible. Possibly the test of obscenity should be ”whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall” or to whose eyes the offending object/person may be open. But who is to judge, the government or the society? The beggar woman may not after all be considered today to offend the sensibilities of the prudes and the puritans.
Could it be that the more we hide more the curiosity to see? The women in US and Europe clad in scanty bikinis in the beaches attract no ugly stares as is common here. They are there in malls, parks, restaurants and everywhere in skimpy dresses not seen in these parts. There are always some elements even there who obtain pleasure in oggling.Be that as it may, the values have changed a lot and differ from place to place and country to country. There is nothing absolute about them and depends upon one’s predilictions.
Uni-sex dresses unheard of a few decades back are the in thing. The girls from decent homes, who twenty years ago would not come out without a duppatta covering their chest and a loose full length skirt, come today dressed in tight fitting jeans and tighter fitting sleeveless T shirts. It shocks us no more and has become accepted gear worn by all.
Obscenity to my mind is relative and keeps changing with times and generations. The types of relationships that would shudder us a couple of decades back like live-in-relationships, gay/lesbian marriages have all come to be regarded as normal with the governments of the day eager to give them certain legitimacy and legality. Post and pre marital relationships are very widely prevalent thanks to the internet and the wide opportunities to both genders to mix and socialize. They are regarded commonplace occurrences now and do not jolt anymore. The weakening of religion, spiritual values and the erosion of the stature of its leaders are also contributory factors to these changes. The lure of easy money is irresistible tempting everyone to compromise on cherished values. Whether they are welcome or not depend on one’s perception? Can anyone hazard a guess what would be the scenario two decades hence?
Kpartha12@hotmail.com
www.kparthas.blogspot.com

Unsullied affection of the young

by KParthasarathi 07 Jan 2009

Mami as she was called must be in her early forties. Frail and slim, she had a care-worn look with hairs gone grey in patches. There was melancholy and forlorn look in her face that expressed no emotion. She worked as a cook in that big bungalow of a large well to do family. She came at 6am daily and left only at 6pm taking care of the kitchen whole time. It was a tiresome job with members of the family coming at varied times for breakfast or lunch with their own preferences for the food. She had to make many dishes not knowing who will eat what. The quantity cooked would therefore be liberal. There were servants also to eat the leftovers.
Mami was not this poor when she married. Her husband was working in railways workshop. He was loving and considerate to her. Life was peaceful though not comfortable.Mami managed to live within her income. They had a son whom they affectionately called Ambi.Tragedy struck their family when a truck collided from behind with the young man’s cycle when he was returning home one evening. She had none to look to, after her husband’s death with her parents having passed away much earlier. She had no siblings. She had not studied beyond class nine and cooking was the only skill that she knew.
The family she worked for was decent and allowed her son also to eat in their house in the day time. The ten year old boy came to her employer’s house at 8am daily on his way to school to take cold rice that she saved the previous night. He would be back from school by 1pm but would wait outside the kitchen for his mother to call him when she can serve him. There was clear instruction that that till everyone in the household ate the food was not to be given to the many servants in the house like gardener, maid, driver and an errand boy. They ate only around 2-30 or 3pm.Mami made her son also to wait despite his pleadings that he was hungry. The boy would drink water and lie folded with hunger in the rear veranda. Her maternal instincts would torment her at the boy’s plight but the obligations of duty steeled her determination to wait. Some days the members ate on time and on many days there would be delay.Mami could not summon enough courage to mention about her boy’s predicament to the lady of the house whose shadow never darkened the kitchen doors.
The only daughter of the family along with Anil, her son of Ambi’s age, came to live in the palatial house when her husband was transferred. The boy took a liking for Ambi and played with him in the evenings. They became friendly. One day when all the members were at the dining table at 1pm ready to eat, Anil was not there. He had returned from school. They called his name several times. There was no response. The servants searched all over and found him lying in the first floor in the bed. He refused to come telling that he was not hungry. His mother shouted at him telling that it was already late for his lunch and that he should come down immediately. When the boy did not budge, the grand mother said that she would fetch him. The boy was close to her.
“Anil, what is the problem? You are a nice boy. Why are you adamant today?” she asked lovingly.
“Grand ma, I am not hungry.”
“How could it be? You ate your breakfast of dosa in the morning and a cup of horlicks.It is nearing 1-30pm.It is not good for your health to take food after this long gap.”
“Is it so? Are you sure?” Anil asked
“I am very sure about it. Be a good boy and hurry along with me.” She said
“ Grandma , if I can be hungry after eating dosa and horlicks and a long gap would do no good to me, how come Ambi can eat the left over around 2-30pm after the morning cold rice he eats daily?”
The truth behind the question hit her like a hammer and the plight of the boy tormented her guilt conscience. She called mami and as she came running asked her, “Mami, how heartless can you be keeping your boy hungry so long? Did it not strike you to bring the matter to my notice? I want you from tomorrow to give your boy the food immediately after he returns from the school irrespective of who had eaten and who had not. Is it clear?”
Anil jumped with joy running down the staircase to wake up his buddy.Children are very perceptive.They keenly observe,listen and absorb the messages of the actions around.But the hearts of young are pure and innocent. They see no difference amongst them. It is pure affection for each other unsullied by the wiles of the elders.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com
www.kparthas.blogspot.com

Friday, January 2, 2009

Unwelcome attention

by KParthasarathi 02 Jan 2009

I am very happy here and am always surrounded by care-free people, who keep laughing, jumping and doing what they like most. No one tells me to do this or that. I can be what I like to be. There is so much of vacant space with many big trees providing cool shade and breeze with benches underneath to stretch along. I never like to be confined to my small room and always wish to be in open space looking at the sky. Even a passing dog or running squirrel interests me. Many people come and talk to me on their own. Frankly I am not a mixer and would like to be left alone with my thoughts. I know many subjects from economics to philosophy though the latter is is my favourite subject. I have read many books but most of what I have read has oozed out of my sieve like memory. I try to remember the same. I am not spiritual or religious but yet often think of the creator who made this world and all the beings in it. But these friends who surround me are unintelligible to me though they passionately try to make me understand what they keep telling me. When I do not evince interest, they leave me alone to pursue my thoughts. Everything is orderly in this place, an old age home, I think. I am comfortable except for one thing that disturbs me a lot. I should tell you in detail about this young lady who is bothering me with her constant unwelcome attention.

She has made it a point to come almost daily failing which on alternate days. She does not go to others but makes a beeline towards me. She comes and sits by my side too close to my comfort. Something must be bothering her for she is always in tears. Even her smile is strained. She caresses me with her hand and strokes my head. She invariably brings some snacks or sweets in a small box for me to eat. However much I decline she would not leave me without ensuring my eating the stuff. I have told her in angry tones times without number that I would wish to be left alone and have asked her why she was troubling me always and not others. But she would not get upset. Funny she called me her appa (dad) and said she did not know others nor had she any interest in them except me. Frankly I do not know this lady at all though her face is familiar and reminds me of my long dead wife. She is no doubt kind to me but I wish to get along with thoughts undisturbed. I am actually planning to write a book on how a man can maintain his faculties at the optimum level by constant practice .But she daily breaks my chain of thoughts and my treatise is getting delayed .Am I wrong in expressing my annoyance at her and speak to her harshly? But she cries making me more miserable. I don’t know whether I have developed a fondness for her.

I have seen her always approaching one man in white pants and shirt near the office building. That man is not good. I think he is a cruel man as he has hurt me many times dragging me to his room with his henchmen. She should not go near him for her benefit and safety. I told her of my apprehension many times. But she just smiles and ignores my caution.

Today after she met me, she started moving towards the office, I followed her without being noticed. I wanted to be of help in case some harm came to her. When she went inside the office and I hid behind a partially closed window to overhear the conversation. I heard her asking him “Is appa improving? I do not see any sign of improvement. I could see no sign of recognition in his face.”

He replied “Sorry madam, it takes long time in some cases. We are doing our best and even made him undergo shock therapy. Let us hope he becomes ok soon. Pray to God.”
I could not understand about whom she was talking to him. I was determined to ask her when she came out who her appa was.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

On being considerate to spouse

Imagine a scenario where both the husband and his young wife are working. Both leave for office early after a breakfast of cereals, bread toast, fruit juice/tea and come late only. The wife comes around 7pm and the husband around 8pm. They have the lunch at office. The husband expects a three course full- fledged dinner in the night. On Sundays he tells his wife the special dishes he has a weakness for. She is also working in a private company where the work is demanding and exacting. She goes early and tries to return earlier than 7pm to prepare dinner. She gets totally exhausted by the time she finishes the work. He comes around 8pm equally tired and worn out. He is famished and rushes to the dining table after a quick wash. She would like to rest in bed for half an hour but cannot. There are no hugs on meeting each other, no holding of the hands or even a gentle touch but only a faint smile. After dinner he watches TV and she reads novels and both fall into sleep soon after.
Sundays are bugbear for wife with so much to do. She would expect her spouse to help her voluntarily in the chores of the house when he would be busy with computer downloading some stuff or uploading pictures/music. He would be talking interminably with his buddies or relatives on his mobile. He would be unaware of what his wife is doing. The doing of dishes, loading the dishwasher, putting the old clothes in washing machine separately for white and coloured,taking out the garbage and dumping it in allotted bins, ironing his own clothes, dusting and vacuuming the house and minor errands like visiting grocer are all that cannot be handled by the wife alone. She wouldn’t ask him feeling that he should be aware of the need to help out. He would be occupied with his own work and assume that there is nothing for him to assist her as she had not sought his help. In such a situation resentments turn into subdued anger. They are not communicated properly but in body languages that are mostly misunderstood. Over a period of time an emotional chasm builds up between them, affecting gradually love, romance and physical intimacy. Ego plays a large part in such a denouement. The problem lies in both not communicating their disappointments in cordial manner then and there instead of nursing the grievance inside. The expectations should be told specifically without making it appear as a command.
There is another cause for resentment. One of the spouses mostly, the wife, would expect the other to be always by his/her side anticipating and meeting all their needs. However close the couple are, each one of them need their own private space. It is virtually be impossible to cater to one person as there would be others to reach for in official, social and personal spheres. The husband may have his own binge sessions with his buddies, bridge tournaments and tennis/golf or whatever while the wife may have her own friends, kitty parties, and social circle while to confine either of them always to the other would rob the variety in life and make one dependent on the other. Different people have different skills which we may need and which cannot be provided by the spouse like in music, investment advice, spiritual needs, culinary/arts, and games.
The most important contributory factor for resentment is lack of communication. The usual response would be if he/she loved me why I should ask. However close the couple are it would not be possible to know all the expectations of each other. They do not have the powers to divine the thoughts in others minds. That would not mean they love each other less. Some are sharp to observe but many take things for granted unless asked specifically. It is therefore necessary to have frank chats in intimate surroundings during postprandial walks or while lying in the bed before sleep. The talks should not be inhibited by shyness or cut short by abrasive responses. There should be an open mind, a willingness to listen carefully and to genuinely understand the other point of view. There cannot be total agreement on all issues and a fair and reasonable give and take policy should be adopted. Questions need to be asked and an effort made to understand the way the other partner is thinking. At the end of the conversation there should be a feeling of coming closer and strengthening of the bond. Sharing of the concerns, the burden of the house, a trust and openness in all dealings are prerequisites for a harmonious living. It cannot be one person’s responsibility.
When the wife has cooked a splendid meal, it is not enough to enjoy the meal and stuff the stomach but it should be preceded by remarks of genuine appreciation. Frequent pats on the back are great motivators. Likewise the wife must learn to applaud the work of the husband even of day to day nature like mowing the lawn, cleaning the attic or trimming the hedges. Respect for each other even where they do not see eye to eye fosters greater agreement eventually.
One of the partners may have certain skills the other lacks and this one may not have the strengths the other one has. The differences should be acknowledged and should never be a point of ridicule.
The spouse or the family have their own priority and commitments for taking them out or going on a holiday or visiting relatives/friends should not be broken on other grounds like invitation to a party in office or cocktail by friends or some official work unless earth shattering. One must learn to say no to such invitations to show respect to spouse.
“Harmonious family living is about creating open communication, respect and even discipline. A household can be peaceful without being silent! It is about respecting each other, treating each individual as an individual, being consistent with your boundaries and communicating in an effective manner”.