This post is dedicated to those moments of chaos, where you feel lost. These are the same moments, which get you closer to your own selves.
What are these moments? It can be about a conversation with your family/friend; death of a closed one; a new acquaintance; leaving of a dear friend; churning at work; many more. It can be found anywhere, you can have them once in 6 months, or 6 times a day – all depends on factors that are yet to be configured.
I am attempting to share such chaotic moments here (inspired from last month); hoping that this can help you identify yours. Happy reading (:
Marriage, Mother and Me
This isn’t very random but surely a chaotic moment. Any woman in her late twenties is surely bombarded with either marriage updates of her school and college peers; or posts by friends who find this too quick, too awkward, too uncomfortable. So be it as you may, there is no way you can miss these conversations.
Last week was full of activities – unplanned, unasked and unwanted. My grandmother died (of old-age I guess); and this got my mother to Delhi for a couple of weeks. And inspiration to this month’s piece is from a relatively long back-to-back stay (she visited me week ago as I got operated to get rid of my foot plantor warts) with your mother. Jotting down some quick pointers that you and I may want to refer back in life:
Spinning wheels of wisdom and self-doubt: In the middle of everyday chores, she will suddenly point out to you that “oh your intelligence is both a vice and a virtue! This can back-lash in your future life”. While she tries in all her subtle ways; but it isn’t very difficult to know what she hints at.
It is at this juncture I feel she and I have carved such different universe around us.
She comes from a circle where families adhere to certain traditional expectations from their sons and daughters; and she is always worried on how she has failed to put those virtues in us completely – made us so much more confident, independent, rational – that the society may not be very acceptable to. It is funny how she feels sad about the same things I am most proud of, that I received from her.
I come from a circle where my peers are questioning the rationality of traditions, norms, culture; not to of course ridicule any of them (while of course there are cases of ridicule, too) – BUT to find more meaning and essence to what we follow and thus follow the natural process of elimination and selection.
She really can’t see my world; and feel sad that seeing her world; she feels so worried about us. I really hope; fate and future takes us to paths where she sees the small, pocketed but real society that I come from, where I feel empowered, blessed and equal (this is relative here; of course not to discard relativities).
Just an after-thought, we happened to have a real long conversation about her marriage with Papa on this visit of hers. My maternal grand-father visited Pind (small village in Punjabi) to meet my paternal grand-father. On his very first visit, my maternal grand-father gave shagun – a means to confirm the marriage – to my paternal grand-father; thereby confirming marriage of my parents. My father wrote letters to my mother (not posted) in the period between fixing of marriage and the day of marriage; but my mother hardly had any clue till the day of marriage of who this guy is going to be. It might seem very distant to our worlds today but this is what our parents have grown out from. And it is indispensable that today, they make efforts to fit in; in their own society, in our understanding of our society and many such microcosms. Kudos to the spirits of mothers! (:
Sacrifice Lists of a Development Professional
This thought has got stuck with me for quite some time and I thought today is perhaps an opportune moment to translate this into an incident.
An aunt in my social circle (haha, rare word associated with me) at Delhi; as and when she meets; always greets me with the warmest words. Her words post that, are what have always disturbed me; and had also triggered this post. She would always say something to the effect of “Young people like you are the ray of hope in this society. The truest way to follow one’s religion (we are connected with same religious philosophies, therefore religion) is to give service to humanity – what all you young people in this development sector are doing.”
There have also been some of my colleagues who would say something on the same lines. Some of such experience I recall; “We are doing such good to the society, we deserve to be respected.” “We are sacrificing Corporate salaries to do something meaningful in life.”
These narratives mostly leave me furious and agitated. I must admit that I entered this sector, somehow in the same spirits – Service to the society. But there were many reasons why this bubble did burst; very soon:
- When we choose our careers, our trajectories in life – the central point in decision is always around our own happiness. Whether the happiness comes from working in a development sector, corporate sector or any other profession is totally on the attributes you treasure – that you may get different from these choices. There are rare cases on selflessness found; and for the scope of this piece; I think it’s better left unsaid; except just reiterating the fact that they are indeed very very rare.
- The idea that you are providing service to anyone in the society is good for an ego trip. But just to repeat my first point à it is ultimately to service your own needs – whether of recognition, connecting to people, respect, fame around social services, sustainability àgathering happiness for you.
Having said that, I will not discard the fact that there are some professions that are doing better to the society; or may be, let’s say – less harm to the society. This indeed needs to be recognised and systemically, such professions need to grow. It is not far-fetched to say that most jobs in the development sector may be towards building a better society (this is quite debatable though). But such a macro classification has no value when we make our micro decisions. Think about it. When you were choosing your career options; what kind of questions were you asking to yourself? How green/sustainable/ethical is your sector? OR How remunerative/ satisfying/opportunistic/congenial is the sector as per your skills and expectations? I will not be surprised to have many asking the latter question. With that, I rest my case.
Lessons to be learnt at every ride back home
The story that has made to the piece is a Sardaar Ji uncle who happened to drop me in his auto from office to home; on one of those damp days (mother being here, grand-mother passing away – no zone to have any extended conversations).
But then who can stop the might of a man who knows meaningful Acronyms of anything under the sun; by his heart. I didn’t have to give him any signs; he started by emphasizing the need for simple living and deep thinking. Who can argue on such simple and meaningful thought?
Uncle, on his very own started quizzing me (trust me; I gave him no signs of being interested in a conversation, say quiz at the least). Some of his questions I remember I do feel a lesson for lifetime were:
- What do you mean by Mazhab (urdu word for religion)?
- Man Jism Had Bandagi (To devote yourself to the almighty with the maximum potential of your body and heart)
- What you mean by Bhagwan (hindi word for God)?
- Bhoomi, Agni, Wayu, Aakash, Neer (The five elements, believed to be the core of our body and life’s existence; according to Hindu mythology)
- What do you mean by Family? (this one’s quite obvious but worth documentation)
- Father Mother I Love You
An interesting statement that he just made as an observation from life – “Is Duniya me na koi bhooka mara, na kisi ka pet bhara hai” (In this world, there is no one who has died of hunger; and similarly there is no one who had felt satisfied with what he earns”) While I was discussing on how the first part may not be completely true; there are no second thoughts on the merits of the second. It is strange how we have eliminated the feeling of satisfaction, sufficiency from our society, almost to alarming levels, especially when you compare with even a generation older than ours. We are a more demanding, unfulfilling, impatient and unsatisfied as a society than the previous ones; despite the huge boom of products and consumerisation that has filled our tummies, wardrobes, house, kitchen and body – with newer and finer products.
There is again, no real end to this story, a struggling point to my articles and my life in general.