Category Archives: My Voice

Beauty does not lie in the eyes of the beholder

The alarm kept ringing unremittingly but Reeti woke up from her deep slumber only after her mother’s squawk reached her ears. She shot a hasty glance at the clock while she dived towards the bathroom to freshen up. She was late for office again and she knew she would have to face her mother’s wrath as this had become a routine off late. It had been almost 3 months since 23-year-old Reeti began having prolonged midnight conversations with Ritul who lived in Pune. Ritul and Reeti had connected on Facebook through a common close friend. What started as a casual Facebook messenger chat had now turned into a clandestine affair, though there were no talks of commitment from either of them yet.

Reeti gaped at the mirror and felt crestfallen. She was almost in tears looking at the malevolent, outsized pimple that had popped up right at the tip of her nose. All the efforts she had been putting in since the last few days to ensure a scrupulously clear and radiant face had gown down the drain. Ritul was in Mumbai for a customer visit and it was a special day for her – their first date! But she did not want to meet him now. He would also mock at her skin just like some of her friends and relatives did during her growing years. From medical treatments to her grandmother’s hacks, she had tried it all in the past but the pimples kept coming back with a vengeance. There was a time when Reeti was extremely miserable and down in the dumps because apparently no boy had a crush on her ever, even though she was considered to be a benevolent, affable and intelligent girl. But, once she began working for a leading MNC, her self-confidence increased and the thoughts about her physical appearance started taking a backseat. Though she had never met Ritul, she felt a connection with him and was keen to take this relationship forward. He seemed to be a sensitive and level-headed man but Reeti was too scared to lose her worth in his eyes. She did not want him to think of her as an unappealing woman and wanted to look beautiful for him.  But, the bulky bump on her face had shattered her desire. With a heavy heart and moist eyes, she sent him a text message.

“Sorry Ritul, I cannot meet you this time. Something very urgent has come up at office and I will have to work late hours. Hope you understand. Hugs!”

Are we worth it?

Bhavya traversed down the memory lane as the classic patriotic numbers played out one after the other in her locality. The reminiscences of her humming these songs along with her friends in their school bus brought the rare authentic curve on her lips. She recollected how she used to wait ardently to gorge on the delectable laddoos offered by her school on the occasion of Independence Day post the flag hoisting event. Her heart yearned for those idyllic days.  Lost in her own thoughts of her erstwhile life, she was blissfully unaware that her next client for the day had stepped into the room and was calling out for her. Her reverie was broken by the blaring honking of a vehicle in close vicinity and she realized that the musical extravaganza had concluded as well. On a reflex, she turned around and fear gripped her. Had she frittered her client’s valuable time away? Before Bhavya could apologize, she had been stripped off her garments and her façade had been put on. Bhavya had become Rosy. Rosy was aware that there was no way to escape from the besmirched, dingy brothel. She wondered if she would ever be able to breathe freedom again. The 17 year old was awaiting her Independence Day.

Raghu was an optimistic and affable soul. To the world, he was blind but he could see through the darkness he was born with and at times, could probably even observe what the people with the finest eyesight missed. He often thought that maybe, God had compensated him with this innate knack of sensing people’s emotions and mind-sets. He earned a meagre income, just enough to survive, by performing his daily job as the milk delivery boy in a particular neighbourhood. He had completed his basic education and could also type well on a computer. Those who knew him were often amazed by his independence and self-sufficiency. One day, a lady walked up to him to seek permission to cover a story about him. She clicked his pictures as he posed with a beaming smile and gave him hope when she mentioned about how the story would undeniably go viral and make him instantly famous. Though recognition was nowhere on his priority list, he presumed it would make it easier for him to get another job, a more respectable one, which could help him improve his living conditions and support his debt-ridden family. He was confident about his capabilities but unfortunately, most people did not even give him the benefit of doubt and assumed that his visual impairment would be a deterrent to his dedication and effort. So, as expected, his story did go viral but nothing altered for Raghu. A few did mention to him that they were proud to share his story as they “knew” him. Life was still the same for him – the same old routine, the same old “isolation” and the same old “pitiful stares”. At times, he speculated about the reason why no one out of the many who read his story felt that he was worthy enough. Perhaps, they were now engaged in making another story go viral.

It takes a village to raise my child

Chosen by BlogAdda among the top picks of the week

The baby yowled again. She sighed! She wanted to prepare dinner and was already running late with her chores. But the impish 21 months old would not allow her to perform any task and bawled the moment she turned towards the stove. She tried all the tricks to keep the toddler occupied but when nothing worked, she was left with no choice but to hold the tiny tot in one hand and cook. It was uncomfortable because she was making Koftas and hence, had to be tremendously vigilant to ensure there was no spluttering of oil on the child cocooned in her arms. Sounds like a typical day in the life of a mother? Well, yes it is, except that the child is definitely mine but the lady in question is not me, but is my close friend who lives in my neighbourhood.  That is the kind of bond my little one shares with my loved ones who reside in my housing complex.

Friends have always played a pivotal role in my life. Needless to say, my family means the world to me and I cannot imagine my life without them. But, my friends are my lifeline and they occupy a unique place in my heart. My friends have stood by me like a rock in every circumstance come what may. They have looked after me during times of illness or despair, when I was away from family. They have watched my back and instilled in me the confidence to be myself. They have brought out the best in me by invariably egging me on to tap and hone my abilities. They have always made me feel like a star. They have given me immeasurable moments to cherish for a lifetime. They have taught me lessons about life which no book or teacher could ever edify me on.

I have been extremely fortunate to have found wonderful people at every stage of my life. I lived in many cities owing to the nature of my father’s job and fostered deep connections with some friends at every place I set foot on including, of course, the six years of my hostel life. But once I began to traverse the conduit of the corporate world, I started to feel that I can no longer get myself to make those “special” kind of friends – the kind of friends with whom you don’t just have unlimited fun but you can bare your soul to; the kind of friends with whom you feel at home even in the strangest of surroundings; the kind of friends with whom you are connected through some invisible strings which last through the entire life span regardless of the number of times you meet or interact.  Once I took my nuptial vows, the workload at office and then the domestic responsibilities left us with little time for socializing. Gradually, without any real basis, the notion that I have probably crossed the stage when I can give my all to a new friendship, etched itself in my mind. Who has time in today’s fast-paced world for it anyway – I thought!

But, the universe conspired and we purchased our own apartment, which according to me has been one of the best decisions of our lives. The society that we live in is one of its kinds. There is a sense of belonging each one of us feels here.  It’s a lively abode abuzz with the energy and vibrancy of the residents and there is a positive, welcoming and affable vibe that is all around in the air here.  Though I warmed up to the place instantly, I still kept my distance when it came to making new friends. I enjoyed their company but did not make efforts to spend more time with them.  But, being a sucker for genuine love and warmth, how long could I stay away! My neighbour was my first friend here and through her I got acquainted with a few ladies, with whom I went on to build close ties eventually. However, the “unyielding me” would still say to my old friends – “Yes I have good friends but it’s not like how we were during college.”

Then, one fine day, I saw the two pink lines which transformed my world in more ways than one. Pregnancy made me realize how imprudent I had been all this while. My community friends made my pregnancy a smooth and pleasurable experience, so much so that I did not feel the need for the presence of anyone else from my family till a little before my due date. I was pampered in profusion in every way possible and was treated to lip-smacking delicacies throughout. My mother was also particularly glad and reassured to witness the manner in which we all connected with each other.

Since the birth of my daughter, my friends have become that village which is instrumental in raising a child. It is so relieving and soothing to be encompassed by a strong support system, especially when your husband has erratic working hours. I have never had to worry about any kind of emergency because of the existence of such obliging, accommodating and amazing people right next to me who never blink an eye even when they have to go out of their way to respond to a call of distress.  Like once I was not able to reach my husband when I was down with high fever, and a friend immediately offered to take my daughter to her place while I snoozed away to glory at home.

My heart wells up with joy and gratitude to see my daughter being showered with abundance of love by everyone. She is adored by all of my friends and their children who belong to various age groups. She gets to learn different things from different people and all this stimulation is aiding her growth positively. Having a village means I have a troop of folks to lean on for support and advice. Sometimes, it is not even about taking suggestions or seeking opinions. It’s not even about having deep, soul-stirring conversations all the time. Parenthood is a roller-coaster and during the lows, it is a huge stress buster to have someone who can listen to you without getting judgemental or someone who can make you laugh in a way only friends can. You get enough opportunities for a breather as you know your child is being watched by someone responsible and trusted during a gathering. There are times when my daughter refuses to even come to me because she wants to be with her amorous extended family, and I am delighted to be blessed with such moments. She also refers to a close friend of mine as “mummy” at times and I am indebted to God for bestowing her with such motherly figures in her life. I know that she knows she can count upon them always.

In the era of nuclear families, it is indeed a blessing to stumble upon friends who become like family with so much ease that you do not even realize when and how. I am pleased with the fact that I have got myself to let off my guards and make friends again, the way I have been doing all my life. When you have such fine friends in close vicinity, everyday is a party! I know there are many who manage exceptionally well without one, but for me, it takes a village to raise a child and also a mother, and I am glad I have been endowed with mine.

A letter to a Mom from her Toddler

Dear Mom,

It seems like I gave you a very hard time today like I do on most days perhaps, as I can sense by your exhausted and flustered state. I am sorry but I did not mean to do so. I know there are times when you are at your wits end because you are unable to figure out the reason for my tantrum or outburst. But trust me Mom, that during such times, even I have no clue about the cause of my tears or feeling of distress. I am still learning about a lot of things. I have just begun to acknowledge my feelings. I have just started understanding the ways of the world. There is still so much that I cannot comprehend.

I know that you get tired of my howling at times. “Why do you have to cry or scream for everything!” you say. I am sorry mom but I am slowly learning to express myself and don’t know how to handle my emotions yet. I can communicate but I have a long way to go before I can talk to you clearly about what is going on in my mind. When you refuse to let me do stuff which I am keen to do, I feel unhappy. I want to explore everything in this world which I have only recently begun to perceive with my own senses. But, according to you I cannot do certain things and I wonder why. You explain to me about danger on some occasions but I don’t really recognize the safety risks you speak about and even if I do, I am not yet capable of retaining it all in my memory.

D For “Do Not Judge A Child With Your Own Yardstick”

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/d-for-do-not-judge-a-child-with-your-own-yardstick

It was a lazy, summer afternoon and the clock seemed to be ticking away at a sluggish pace. I was racking my brain to figure out the next activity to keep my toddler occupied as she wasn’t ready to shut her eyes for a quick nap. I am amazed by the stamina of these tiny tots who can tussle with sleep and stay hyper-active even when their body is signalling otherwise. The buzzing of my mobile handset jostled me out of my thoughts and I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by my friend who lives in the same locality. She had been keen to visit us since a while and apprised me that she would be arriving in a few minutes. I was eagerly looking forward to meet her and her infant, and rushed to churn curd to prepare a beverage for them. They were home soon and I was introduced by my friend to her mother-in-law who was accompanying her as they had arrived directly from a mall. After the typical exchange of pleasantries, I offered some homemade snacks along with iced buttermilk for them to relish. As we spent a while indulging in some general chit-chat, the topic of discussion steered towards parenting which was bound to happen with two children around. My 2 year old daughter was clinging to me, hence Aunty tried to garner her attention by engaging her in a conversation. After a few unsuccessful attempts, finally my daughter started responding but lost interest when Aunty began to ask her about what the various English alphabets stand for.

“Sweetheart, you didn’t tell me what does ‘D’ stand for? ‘D’ for…??”

Mommy’s First Day Of Preschool

If you are a parent to an infant or a toddler, in all likelihood, you must have experienced more than one “I wish I could get a few hours of peace” moment. And then, that day arrives at last with a boom. The first day of your child at preschool/school! All that you love to do but never got a chance to indulge in due to parental responsibilities, you save for this big moment. “I will write more once my child starts going to school”. “I will watch movies when my child starts going to school”. “I will catch up on my lost sleep when my child starts going to school”. “I will visit the parlour at peace and pamper myself once my child starts going to school.” “I will this.” “I will that.” Isn’t the list endless? But, all you do once the child is away is sit aimlessly and cast a vacant, faraway stare into infinity.

So, yesterday was my daughter’s first day at preschool. No, let me correct that – it was my first day! Because I definitely seemed to be the more anxious, besieged and lost one. She is almost 2.5 years old and I was amazed at her confidence in handling this transformation sportingly and with zeal and alacrity. I had decided to wait outside the premises of the school on the first day but was advised by her teacher to leave once she settled down. When I reached home, I could sense restlessness creeping inside me and then, without a warning I could feel hot tears trickling down. Damn, I was weeping! I sincerely don’t know why but I was. Maybe because I was terribly missing the presence of my daughter and could feel the void; maybe because the peace I was desperately waiting for seemed like a sinister stranger whose noise was more deafening than the tumult created by my daughter’s antics; maybe because I was feeling guilty about having been a bit harsh on my daughter over the last few days due to extreme toddler meltdowns, whereas she made things trouble-free for me at such a crucial juncture of our lives; maybe because I was fretting over her well-being as she faces this big bad world outside; maybe because of the fact that she is growing at rocket speed and time is just slipping through my fingers like sand; maybe because I was genuinely glad and keyed up about her entering this new and vital phase of  her life; or maybe because it dawned upon me that finally I have to take that first step towards cutting the umbilical cord.

‘Mommy Guilt’- No More!

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/mommy-guilt-no-more

The nascent years of parenting are full of indelible “firsts” – your baby’s first smile, the first step, the first word and the list goes on interminably. While these special milestones make for pleasant lifelong memories, there are also the other “firsts” which can be agonizing. Like the memory of the first fall! I still distinctly remember the first time my daughter had a nasty fall from the bed. Ouch! She had just begun to commando crawl and was playing on the bed, while I was arranging our clothes in the closet in the same room. I had an eye on her throughout and then just in a split second when I turned around, there was a thud. I couldn’t fathom how she reached the corner of the bed so quickly but she did and it was excruciating to see her howl. I panicked and kept checking for any untoward signs. I breastfed her to pacify her and finally, she calmed down and fell asleep on my lap. That day I felt immensely guilty and shed copious tears, blaming myself for the incident and wondering what if some serious injury had occurred. In spite of my mother and other veteran parents reassuring me that every child experiences such falls at some point or the other, it took me a few days to get over the remorse. My mother also narrated some related amusing incidents involving my brother which proved to be some solace.

Mommy’s Day Out – J&J Bloggers Meet

“You are behaving as if it’s your first day at a new workplace.”, remarked my husband with a chuckle when he witnessed my wardrobe which was in shambles as I tried to dig out that perfect outfit for the occasion.

Well, after I resigned from my plush IT job in 2013, I never really attended any major event or meet related to work. So, my excitement for the J&J Bloggers Meet organized by mycity4kids.com was almost the same as it would have been for my “first day at work”. One of the things that I absolutely love about being a blogger is the opportunity it gives me to connect with some brilliant and creative minds. I was eagerly looking forward to meet my fellow bloggers whose work I immensely admire. I was also keen to meet the energetic and talented team of mycity4kids.com. To be honest, I had refrained from using J&J products for my baby because I had my own reservations about them after reading a particular news article which was widely circulated on social media. Hence, I was certainly looking at getting my queries answered by the J&J team during the bloggers meet.

Summer Fun At Grandparents’ Abode

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/summer-fun-at-grandparents-abode

“The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.” – Sam Levenson

My daughter is now almost 28 months old, out of which she has spent about 10 months in all at my parents’ home at Visakhapatnam because of my husband’s business trips post her birth. Due to this reason, my daughter is extremely comfortable with my parents and I can very well notice that their presence is always a great stimulation for her. She is very attached to me and the only person I can confidently leave her with for a few hours is my mother. Knowing that she would care for my child just like I do gives me a sense of security and they have great fun together.

To the Mother who was not revered

//This article is the winning entry for the Momspiration contest conducted by mycity4kids. It is also available at the below link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/to-the-mother-who-was-not-revered-momspiration

Mother – the very mention of this word invokes deep emotions in our hearts. A mother is associated with veneration, strength, unconditional love and warmth. Our society places a mother on a pedestal, but does this same society demonstrate adulation and admiration for every mother who deserves it? 

During my stint as a volunteer with an NGO, I was fortunate to have had the privilege of meeting some extremely wonderful and inspirational individuals. Each interaction that I had with them has been a life lesson and has been instrumental in making me the person that I am today. That was the time when my friendship with Reshma, an employee of the NGO, happened. I believe that just like there are soul mates, there are also soul friends. These are the friends with whom we feel an instant connection; these are the friends who become an integral and indispensable part of our lives even before we get to know them enough. Reshma is my soul friend who is an inspiration in every sense of the word and she is someone who stands by me like a rock come what may. I thank my stars that I got an opportunity to bond with someone like her.