Quite early on, even before society, kind of formally woke up to the thought of changing its thought processes regarding girls and their upbringing, I had a set of parents who were very clear about it. Yet they made no hue and cry over it. I was never made to feel that there was something which I couldn’t do but which my younger brother could. And being the elder amongst the lot, had its own advantages. I got to do everything first.
Rode the moped first. Drove first. Worked first.
But then social media, print media and society happened. Also happened the talk of bringing up the girls right. However, those growing up years spent in the vast cantonments made us independent.
Life in the forces helps one to be prepared for all kinds of exigencies and the exposure to that lifestyle tends to make us mindful, exercise constraint, appreciate the urgency, tolerate the hardships – in short, be prepared if you get into a jam!!
Independence of actions teaches you self-reliance and also self-determination. It also gave me an opinion, a yard long. It also gave us a thought process, courage to express and the audacity to differ. Thus, I would speak fearlessly, wherever I had an audience who listened to me!
But sometimes I noticed it did not matter, for I was the proverbial drop in the ocean, and no one cared at all for my opinions. Except my friends and family, of which the latter had no choice at least in this lifetime, being the captive audience, having no choice but to put up with my whimsical thoughts, actions, opinions.
(Yet they did and have done quite well!! Their support hasn’t waned!!)
So I kept being radical in my thinking and my take has always been different from the multitude around. Like the debate of how we bought up our girls and what we taught them. I reasoned it never was about that. People found me a bit wonky yet I maintained:
Its ONLY is about what we teach, demonstrate, coach our boys to do and be.
When no one listened and thought my ideas were unorthodox, I made a promise to myself and to my world. I decided I would use my power!!
Being an educationist helped, for most of my adult life, I had a wonderful platform to educate and mould impressionable minds. So, I kept teaching the girls to be strong, self-reliant and the boys to be respectful and caring BUT I targeted the parents: for those with boys in their midst had to make sure that those little men were coached right!!
Let this life not be wasted,
Thru re-cycled messages and pictures,
But let this be a day of introspection
For all of you - wonderful people!
As to what you want your children to be.
To be simply: successful & doing well?
And how would you measure their success?
In terms of the money they earn?
Or the size of their house?
Or would it be in terms of how proud you are
Each time they speak, they greet, they behave
Without a cue from you,
Without a single stern stare?
Well, I made my choice as a mother,
Not now but years ago.
And I stand proud today,
For each time my child does this & even more
When he calls up each day from far,
And says a “hello” to me, even if brief,
When he jumps up & does not let me lift things,
When he waits his turn to speak,
When he does not argue even if he disagrees,
When he respects my choices & my friends,
Even if he disapproves of one or both,
When he arrives at the airport with his eyes searching
For me in the crowd & moves up fast,
To hug me & say: “I missed you Mom”
Well, that’s when I know that my race is won,
For this is what my race had to be and was about.
This is who I had to race with.
This is what drove me to race.
The race to be the role model, my child will cherish,
And like him a hundred more under my care,
The race to ensure they learn all this and more,
For after all, in all his schooling years,
I was not the only one training my child.
His mornings started with me,
His day was spent in his teachers’ care,
So along with some of them,
I had succeeded too,
In making him what he was today.
Thus, my race is always with my own thoughts and ways,
To be in someone’s reflections of gratitude,
Some parent, some friend, some random acquaintance,
Who’d think kindly of me,
For making a difference in their lives,
Like I sit today and thank them all
For they ran the race like me,
With themselves, for themselves, to be themselves,
So that my child could be himself!