Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mother – by Maxim Gorky

Got to know and love Gorky’s mother. Yes, that’s how I can put the experience of reading about her. The best thing about this classic is that it is told in the views of a simple and endearing village old woman. Yes, she is simple, yet she attains as much greatness as a human soul could possible do.

She does not rise as a heroine overnight, nor are there any incredible twists and turns that enable her transformation. Yet this gripping tale of a woman who is already past her times, regains a new lease of life through her comrades.

Sowing the motherly love she has for her own son, she reaps a much greater love with which she embodies the entire world. In her own words, she marvels at the vastness of her own heart.

The Mother, set in the revolutionary period of Russia, is the story of Pelagueya Nilovna, the mother of Pavel Vlaslov, a great revolutionary.

The mother is a poor widow of a factory worker. She has had a terribly hard life with her beastly drunkard of a husband, knowing nothing but beatings and constant terror of being beaten up. After his father’s death, Pavel also becomes a worker at the factory run by the rich and creamy of the society. The wealthy industrialists feed on the sweat of the peasants and factory workers. The country is under the czar’s monarchy, the authorities ruthless, and the people in undue misery.

The mother gradually observes that her son is very different from what her husband or other factory workers have been. She finds him reading in all his free hours and one day he brings home a group of strange people from the city, amidst whom there is also a young woman.

The mother very slowly comprehends that these "young children" are revolutionaries actively working for a movement through which they hope to create a whole new world.
A world as it should be! clean and beautiful, a world that has "everything for all, and all for everything". A world that worships work, and makes it obligatory for every living person. A world that is strange to evil, thievery, greed, and misery.

She first merely considers them as precocious children engrossed in a new play. She then involves herself into it, more out of her love for her son and his friends, than anything. But slowly she understands, appreciates, and voluntarily gives herself to the cause. She stimulates the rest of the mothers and fathers to be with their children, to help them in their journey of seeking truth; to be proud of their own sons and daughters who are willing to be tortured themselves so they can to free the spirit of the entire human race.

It’s a tale that moves you to tears, yet makes you laugh with the same childlike fervor that she feels.
It’s the tale of a mother whose pure love for her son makes her take the same rough path as his, so far only dared by dashing young men and women.
It’s a tale of hope and truth. It’s a tale that reminds you once again that the greatest things in life are always simple and humble, waiting only to be seen.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My Story – Kamala Das

Recently after the demise of renowned author Kamala Das, I was tempted to read her much-talked-about autobiography "My Story"

Somehow I had a preconceived notion that it was a tale of melancholy and self-pity. The authoress proved me deadly wrong with her witty and quirky way of describing things; and the rebellious way she chose to live her life.

The book begins with her childhood experiences in Calcutta with her affluent and modern family, though she claims it being nothing more than middle-class.
She briefly gives us a picture of the racist treatments she and her brother had to endure in the British school, which openly preferred whites and degraded Indians and blacks, their society with a few English and Anglo-Indian neighbors and friends, and the anglicized cook who scorned at the children’s table manners.

After a few years, they move to Nalapat, her hometown in Kerala. The vivid and nostalgic descriptions of the ancient house, surrounding gardens, the stage plays she wrote and acted with her brother, her grand uncle who was a great scholar, aunts, grannies, household maids, get us hooked onto her story.

She also light-heartedly mentions her life in a convent that she briefly went to. The letters she used to write home from there used to be very demure and boring, much to the surprise and ridicule of her brother, who knew her better!

It’s a tale of an Indian girl, bold and educated, full of dreams with a no-nonsense attitude, who is brutally subjected to a medieval-age kind of arranged marriage in the tender age of fifteen, and the domestic worries and burdens that follow.
Very clever and much learned for her time, her views of life largely contrasted with the society she had to put up with. Therefore, things tended to become all the more difficult for her.

The authoress has the least intention of seeking pity or justification for some of her actions, and neither are those sentiments aroused in the reader.
However, it’s this incredible honesty of the authoress that has brought her both much acclaim and criticism.

I think this book might instill varied opinions, each time it is read, or when re-read after a long period. And that, I think, is the best aspect of a successful autobiography.

My StoryAutobiographyby Kamala DasRs. 100D C Books, Kottayam 686 001
(Available in Landmark, Chennai)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ramblings of an uncanny mind

I just can't define myself. If you ask what is my personality I don't have a clear answer. May be that is what I am. May be not. I don't even know if I am easily predictable or not.

One thing I can safely say about myself is that I am unstable. No, not in that dangerous way you think of. Just that I have volatile emotions, a few sublime qualities that are rarely seen, and a highly inflammable temper. That sounds like a chemistry lab, right? Well, chemicals are what all our emotions are made of, they say. And as long as the proportions do not greatly vary from the desired limits, you are normal. So actually, I am normal. But I can't deny that I am partially insane. But for that matter, who in the big wide world isn't?

If you are sane, you should probably stop reading this at this point. Oh! but you don't. So that means you are not as sane as you believe too! Join the club.

Sometimes, I think I am thinking too much about myself. Am I being so self-centered, selfish, egotistical, egoistical, and whatnot? oops! I am still thinking about myself. But if I had done that for a fair period of time, I should have found out who I am and what stuff I am made of. But I haven't got around finding out that so far. May be I am stupid, no I think I am definitely stupid. That's comforting to say the least. Atleast I am not eccentric.

Well, coming to the point (I know you are wondering if I really have one, well hold on please) what I mean to say is actually you should be glad if you are yet to know yourself. The fact that you surprise yourself at moments, that you feel emotions that you never know existed within you, you do stuff that you never knew you could, discover things that you never imagined you would, gives you a new lease of life, everytime. That's the way of life. Do not label yourself.

Give in, give in, give in like a leaf to the eternal breeze that's called life.

Of course, resist change; fight change; but at the end happily give in, with the knowledge that you fought with all your might. That the change was not inflicted upon you, but you allowed it consciously, albeit reluctantly. Trust me, it gives you an inexplicable satisfaction.

What you have to really fear is stagnation, it is delightfully comfortable, oh yes! but only if you look forward to bury your soul and rest your head there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good touch, Bad touch - Seminar May 10, 2009

What started as a tiny spark emerged as a ground-breaking event, a first of its kind by Tamil bloggers:

A highly informative and useful seminar presented by renowned psychiatrists Dr. Rudhran, and Dr. Shalini, and was attended by an enthusiastic gathering of fellow bloggers and their families.

The seminar about "Child abuse and precations to prevent it", more widely known as the "Good touch bad touch" seminar was conducted on the premises of Kizhaku Pathipagam on May 10, 2009.

Dr. Shalini gave an eye-opening talk about the causes and psychology behind child abuse. She emphasized that people with low self-esteem seek such forbidden pleasures and as children are the most vulnerable part of the society, they make easy victims for such barbarians.

Mostly such persons try work in the vicinity of a large group of children and make themselves pleasing and charming to children. This way, they win over the confidence of the children, making them easy preys. Therefore, it is all the more harder to make out a child-abusing beast from a truly fond uncle. So, go by your instincts, or your child's.

Dr. Shalini also mentioned various anecdotes in which infliction of sexual abuse as a child leaves indelible marks on a person years later. An educated woman averse to marriage and sex was found to be abused as a child.An otherwise healthy man believed himself to be gay because of sexual abuse in his teens, by peers.

As for protecting little children from sexual abuse, Dr. Shalini listed out the following precationary measures:

1. Let the child know thoroughly the difference between its private and public parts. The parts which can be publicly touched are public parts. Those which cannot be publicly displayed or touched are private parts. The private parts can be touched only by the child's mother, or in some cases the child's granny. Not
even the dad!(A dad who had great maternal instincts was a little hurt by this,
to which Dr. Shalini said, it should be the mother's discretion to make allowances on this matter, as not all men are beasts, she added!)

2. Just like you teach the body parts and their function, let them learn the names of their genitals and their functions too.

Eyes - to see

Nose - to smell

Penis - to urinate.

Also, tell the child to notify you, should anyone try to touch their private part. Be careful not to overemphasize or overreact on the consequences. (This may become a ruse for naughty children to tell tales about people they dislike, Dr. Rudhran mentioned.)

3. Be discrete before your children, just as you would in front of your neighbors.

4. Handle tacky questions or information by telling them stories. Never overload them with direct information. It won't help and might bakfire with dire results. Stories with the information subtly imbibed in them will do the trick. For example, "...there bad dinosaur touched the good dinosaur's private part. The good dinosaur immediatly went to its mom and complained."

5. Do not plant unwanted non-sense into the child's head. If they ask you how they were born, never tell them stories about the flying stork. Rather, give them details but as appropriate as to the age of the child.

6. Do not encourage babyish talk for speaking about private parts, and normal activities such as passing urine or bowels. Use proper civilized terms for the same.

7. Most importantly spend as much time as possible with your children. There is no substitute to the unconditional love and support you give them. Your children must believe that they can confide anything in you. Practice positive talk. Say,"I will love you even more if you do..." instead of "I won't talk to you if you don't..."

8. It's not only little girls that are abused. Little boys should be adequately educated on this matter too.

9. Emphasizing on the pseudo-gay belief that many men have in our society, Dr. Shalini pointed out that, while we celebrate the puberty of girls with pomp and show, we hardly acknowledge that of boys. As a result, our men are sadly ignorant of their own sexual abilities. This brings a range of complications starting from unwanted curiosity, low self-esteem, and they fall victims to phoney sexual experts.We must make an effort to communicate with our male children on sexual issues and celebrate their puberty as well!

Dr. Rudhran who spoke next, invited questions from the audience, which was answered by both the doctors.
The interactive session further extended to topics such as sexual harrassment of women at workplace, and child prodigies. Few interesting points:

1. Unwarranted comments about a woman's looks and clothes to the extent of embarrassing her is also a form of sexual harrassment.

2. Child prodigies can grow up to be normal adults multi-faceted or not. There is no cause to worry about their extra-ordinary abilities.

3. You cannot create a multi-faceted personality in a child by forcing them to a lot of activities. Find what interests them most and help them towards that.

4. A young boy is least likely to be abused by his adult elder brother. No cause to worry. Nevertheless, the education of your child regarding private parts should help him against anybody, including his brother.

5. If you find a child initiating sexual abuse, it's an alarm for deep trouble. Either the child has been priorly subjected to abuse to the extent that it has started enjoying it, or it is mentally challenged. Such cases warrant immediate investigation and psychiatrical assistance.

Special thanks to Dr. Rudhran and Dr. Shalini who spared time in their busy schedule and shared their valuable knowledge on the subject.

Great many thanks to:

Mr. SK who took the initiative and contacted the experts and got their consent, Mr.Narsim, Mr.Luckylook and Mr.Adisha who worked tirelessly rounding up participants and publicizing the event, Kizhakku Pathipagam and Mr.Badri, who played the perfect hosts offering their own premises, refreshments, and mementoes for the guest speakers. Ramya presented the guest speakers with shawls.

Let's hope this is not the end but only the beginning of many more purposeful events in the future.

Information Courtesy:


Dondu Raghavan

Friday, April 17, 2009

In the eyes of God

You two are destined to be born on the same day, same time, same geographic location. You'll be of the same gender too. Let's see what you make of this world.

The two lives took a place each in their mothers' wombs respectively, at the very same moment.

After a few weeks,
"Hey I hear jubilation and joy. My folks are really happy."
"hmm.. I don't think they have realized I am here, yet"

After some more days...
"oh, I wish she gets up and walks about a little...I would like some movement"
"She keeps rocking me all day.. I guess, she's climbing stairs up and down..."

After a couple of months...
"Why does she keep stuffing herself so much... Doesn't she know that from now on, all I'll do is put on fat?"
"Hey, do you sometimes get a tingling feeling in your stomach as though you'd like to eat a little more?"

A few more weeks...
"I haven't turned upside down yet. They are going to the doctor to find out what's the problem. "

"Well, I have. I can hear her panting and sighing. all day!" .

The d-day
"ooh.. Here I come straight out of the incision. So this is earth eh? Not bad, looks so clean, smells good, lot of white-clad women, laughing faces... oops.. gotta cry! waaaaaaaaaaaaaw!"

"Here I come amidst ear-splitting screams...
what is this place? dark and smelly, who is this dirty old woman holding me? why is my mom lying on the floor, on a mat? but yes I can see she is happy and smiling.. yes, I gotta cry too.. waaaaaaaaaaaaaw!"

Some years later...
"Arjun! put your head in. I am going to shut the window and switch on the AC. My god, it's so hot today... oh my, look at the time, it;s really getting late for your school. Are you ready for today's debate?"

The boy does as he is told and sits back in his car seat. What he just saw disturbs him a little bit, but he manages to shrugg it off. "Oh yes, mom.. Poverty in India. I have the coolest points summed up."
"Good boy," his mom strokes his head fondly and fixes her eyes onto the road.

"Raju...Don't just stand and stare...take these bricks up to the third floor. "

"Yes, mother..." Raju turns his eyes away from the speeding car and starts climbing up the stairs of that big construction site.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

People wear make-up...

People do not wear masks, just make-up.
Oh, how easier it would be, if they wore masks. You can wait for the right moment for them to fall off, or you can try and tear them off.
But no, all they wear is simple, carefully applied make-up.
So it's really complicated you see, you can't tell which feature is for real and which one isn't.
Are the lips truly red? are those eyelashes are for real?
Is the hair truly black? may be, may be not.
If you like what you see, you think everything is real, or convince yourself that even without the make-up the person would be beautiful.
If you are repelled by it, you are convinced that a real hag hides behind all the glitter.
Well, so to bring up a weather-beaten cliche, it's a tricky thing, human relationships.
As they say, there are no black or white in this world. Only shades of grey... besides numerous colors of course!
And remember, people wear make-up, not masks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Valentine's day message

'You've got to give a little, take a little,and let your poor heart break a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little,until the clouds roll by a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.
As long as there's the two of us,we've got the world and all it's charms.
And when the world is through with us,we've got each other's arms.
You've got to win a little, lose a little, yes, and always have the blues a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.
Courtesy: Beaches (Film 1988)

Time for tea? Time for two!

Lone lunches have never been uncommon or unpleasant. Even when work has kept your nose to the grindstone all through the morn, if you just...