(Please excuse me if you are getting spammed by this post. It is not appearing in WP-reader, and I can’t let that go. So if you’ve already read this post in my blog or in your inbox, ignore it as a quirk of an OCD woman and move on.)

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I leave for a much needed vacation tomorrow, or so I think. In our family, nothing is final until we reach our destination. This was an impulsive plan that was hatched halfway through Saturday. This meant that I had to complete all my work scheduled for the week, over the weekend.  I had the following jobs to complete this week:

1. One 2000 word explanatory semi-technical article on a subject I was to learn.

2. One 3000 word analytical piece in a subject I was clueless about.

3.  One 500 word media report on a research topic, which while not as alien to me as 1 and 2, still required a certain amount of literature-research and understanding.

These had to be completed by Sunday night, so that I could run chores on Monday to leave on Tuesday (Again, I think.  See the second line of this post)

I completed (1) and (3) by 9PM on Sunday . I was already exhausted and overwhelmed at the prospect of learning about the subject of (2), and writing a 3000 word analytical piece about it in the next few hours. With adrenalin pouring out of every orifice of my body, and like a woman possessed, read and wrote for the next four hours. Finally, at about 1 PM, and uncharacteristic of me, sent it across to the client without a single re-read or review. 

As I dropped into bed, I was certain that it was a crappy article and my usual catastrophizing mind decided that I was going to be barred from writing anything ever again by the world.

This morning, as I sat waiting for a service, I read the article for the first time on my phone.

I was impressed.

I have no recollection of ever writing it, and yet, had I not known that I wrote it, I would have judged it as a darn good article.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was better than (1) and (3) that, while being good in an objective sense (ahem, I am a competent enough writer), were nothing like this spectacular essay that was fuelled by pure adrenalin. 

I hope my pride is not a premonition of a fall to come.

Just a tad bit egotistic

I leave for a much needed vacation tomorrow, or so I think. In our family, nothing is final until we reach our destination. This was an impulsive plan that was hatched halfway through Saturday. This meant that I had to complete all my work scheduled for the week, over the weekend.  I had the following jobs to complete this week:

1. One 2000 word explanatory semi-technical article on a subject I was to learn.

2. One 3000 word analytical piece in a subject I was clueless about.

3.  One 500 word media report on a research topic, which while not as alien to me as 1 and 2, still required a certain amount of literature-research and understanding.

These had to be completed by Sunday night, so that I could run chores on Monday to leave on Tuesday (Again, I think.  See the second line of this post)

I completed (1) and (3) by 9PM on Sunday . I was already exhausted and overwhelmed at the prospect of learning about the subject of (2), and writing a 3000 word analytical piece about it in the next few hours. With adrenalin pouring out of every orifice of my body, and like a woman possessed, read and wrote for the next four hours. Finally, at about 1 PM, and uncharacteristic of me, sent it across to the client without a single re-read or review.

As I dropped into bed, I was certain that it was a crappy article and my usual catastrophizing mind decided that I was going to be barred from writing anything ever again by the world.

This morning, as I sat waiting for a service, I read the article for the first time on my phone.

I was impressed.

I have no recollection of ever writing it, and yet, had I not known that I wrote it, I would have judged it as a darn good article.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was better than (1) and (3) that, while being good in an objective sense (ahem, I am a competent enough writer), were nothing like this spectacular essay that was fuelled by pure adrenalin. 

I hope my pride is not a premonition of a fall to come.

We have failed

It has taken me a week to muster the courage and some level of sanity to write this post.  

A fifteen-year-old girl I know committed suicide last week.

After her math board exams, some of the boys in her class taunted her that she would fail it.  The girl complained to her mom, who said, “if you had studied well, you’d pass, and if you fail, it’s your fault”.  The child tied a noose with her mother’s saree and hung from the fan that evening.

My chest hurts, and I am angry at various levels.

What’s wrong with us, parents, who have not taught our children resilience?  How can we raise a generation that is so fragile that words can break it?  

What stops a mom from telling the child “Screw them, they are nasty boys, they are not worth your attention”?  And instead gaslight her into believing the venom spewed on her?

What’s wrong with a generation that is always looking for validation?  How can one lose sight of what they are and what they want in the judgemental words of others?  Why has peer pressure become a driving factor for one’s existence?

What’s wrong with a generation a society that believes that taunting and bullying are ok?  What goes on in the psyche of the boy who said when confronted, “we were having fun, if she can’t take a joke, it’s not our fault”?

What stops a community from teaching children that it is ok to fail and you simply pick up the pieces and move on?

What’s with an education system that terrorises youngsters enough to take their own lives?

Do you know what’s worse? Last year, this child’s cousin committed suicide. On the day the board exam results were declared, she had asked her neighbourhood boy to check her results too. The boy told her she had failed. The child killed herself. Turns out the child had topped her school, and the boy was taunting her.

Neither of these children who died had mental health issues.  I met the girl who died last week a couple of months ago; she was this gentle, smiling, perfectly normal child.  I asked her about her preparations for the impending board exams, and she said that she was ok with all subjects but was worried about math.  I told her that she could call me anytime (she lives in a distant village) if she needed any help, and she shyly said she already has a tutor.  

I am beating myself now.  I should have said something to dispel her fear.  That she’ll be fine.  I don’t know what I could have done, but I know I should have done something.  I feel impotent rage at myself and society.

This is not the first case of youngster suicide that I know of.  I live in a university campus, in which every year, one student commits suicide, usually due to academic pressure, and occasionally due to some form of relationship failure.  There is something catastrophically wrong with a society in which youngsters, supposedly the liveliest of all age groups feel compelled to end their lives.  It is a systemic failure;  we have failed as parents, teachers, community, and human beings.  

I feel tired and beaten.  I can’t bear to think about the mom, my childhood playmate, and the pain she must be in.  I can’t think of what may have been for this child.  I am terrified about my own child and all the children I know.  I want to do something.  I don’t know what.  

Good bye, Mr. Heckles

If you have watched Friends, you’d probably remember this scene when Rachel falls off her balcony while taking out the Christmas lights and hangs outside Mr. Heckles’ window.

In this freeze frame, what struck me most was Mr.Heckles’ state of relaxation. I felt, as always, wistful. I have not put my legs up and relaxed either in mind and body in years, if ever. It’s not that I don’t. It’s that I can’t. 

I have always been a restless person. Teachers in my convent school called me names like “jumping jack”, “spring seat” etc. Even now, as I sit typing this article, my toes clench and unclench rhythmically, and I alternate between cross-legged sitting (I have a floor table) and Japanese seiza every one minute. “Spring seat” fits me perfectly because I can’t sit still for two minutes before jumping up like the spring under my butt expanded. I have broken two computer chairs in the past five years because of my physical restlessness – another reason for choosing a floor table to work – one can’t break a floor, I hope. I can’t stand, I must move all the time. Even in sleep, I can’t stay still – I toss and turn so much that I wake up with more body ache than I had when I went to bed. 

The mind is ten times more restless. The only time my mind is stable is when I am writing. Thankfully, I am a writer by profession – did I choose the profession subconsciously because of the brief respite writing affords me from my relentless agitation, or was it lucky coincidence?

I have tried meditation. I cannot meditate. If I force myself to sit still for anything more than 2 minutes, my body feels like it would explode. I try focusing on my breath as I am taught to. Yeah right.

I am currently reading a text book on Ayurvedic principles and finally understand why I could be the way I am. All human beings, according to Ayurveda, are a combination of three elements – air (vata), fire (pitta) and kapha (earth). Those ruled by Vata – air must move. Stillness is unnatural to them. And when the air element is disturbed (as it seems to be for me in recent times), they are a veritable tempest – both in body and mind. The text also prescribes that the way for people like us to meditate is to not force stillness but use movement as an ally – to roll a rosary as the mind repeats a word or phrase – a mantra. 

When I was 13 and my mom had just died, my dad hired a yoga-meditation coach for me. I was a disturbed teen at that time, and like all teenage pricks, didn’t take the coach seriously – I was disinterested in the class, and dropped it altogether in a couple of months. But there was something he said then that I remember now – he taught me a one-word chant and said “your mind is like a mad elephant – the more you restrain it, the more damage it would cause. The best way to treat it is let it roam freely but around the pivot of the one word”. 

In my adolescent arrogance, it didn’t make sense to me. Now I wonder if he was right. I remember the one-word that I was supposed to pivot my thoughts around. Perhaps I should try it.

As for the Heckles pose, I had better reconcile to the fact that I would never ever be able to relax in body or mind like that. And that it’s ok.

Five too many

India had five school shootings this year.

Data: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/school-shootings-by-country

This is unacceptable.

UNACCEPTABLE.

IS there anything we can do about it? Protest perhaps? No, I am serious. FIVE IS FIVE TOO MANY.

Any India-living Indians reading this blog…please contact me, if you have any ideas on some proactive stuff we can do about this. Even a signature campaign should be fine. Please get in touch.