A time for everything under the sun

Oh the smile, the first smile, our first smile.

How it felt then: to breathe in the fragrance of the lime tree,

To listen to the silence of the park- To look up at each other

suddenly and marvel until we break into a smile.

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

O Lächeln, erstes Lächeln, unser Lächeln.
Wie war das Eines: Duft der Linden atmen,
Parkstille hören –, plötzlich in einander
aufschaun und staunen bis heran ans Lächeln.

Rainer Maria Rilke

“Mummy, look the storks are back.”

The children ran towards them, as the family made a perfect landing in the backyard.

“I hope they stay for long this time.” Said the little one.

 

He raced her up the stairs and reached first.

They were panting and laughing on the way down arm in arm.

“I told you I was faster.” He said.

“I didn’t even try.” She replied with a smirk, looking up at his grey temple.

The best part of the relationship was the way they could look into each other and understand.

For once, words were superfluous.

“I will love you forever and I mean it” he had said. His sincerity scared her.

“Forever is so far away”, she had said. “Anything could happen, I could die now, today or tomorrow.”

“You need a beating”, he had said sternly like a father or a school master.

“I pray for you to live forever” read the message he sent her later that day.

Summer breezes. Butterflies. Ice creams.

Before you knew, it was winter.

Melodies were soon memories.

The one sought after was shunned.

Enya sang- “Who can say where the road goes, where the day flows, only time….

Who can say if your love grows, as your heart chose, only time”

The once loving glances were filled with disgust, shame, fear and hurt.

There is a time and season for everything under the sun.

 

“Where are you all going?”  she cried after the storks as they took off in perfect V formation.

“To sunnier lands” they seemed to say.

“Will you be back next year?”

There was no answer.

The wind had blown it away….

 

 

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Went to a place

I went to a place, where the

pomegranates ripen on trees,

till they erupt liquid squeeze.

 

The sputtered seeds, where the

papayas hang till decadent,

fall with a plop on the land.

 

Time seems to pause, while the

ants tuck away provisions in their worry,

the only ones ever in a hurry.

 

Car games are unheard, where the

children play koko and kabaddi,

sprint over rocks and climb trees.

 

Laughter ruptures the air, where the

umbrellas are made of sticks and leaves,

and pull along toys of coconuts- small and green.

 

Under the shady tree, where the

grown ups sit knitting and husking seeds,

while old stories are shared and memories.

 

No one was hungry, where the

food came straight from the ground,

to the pan and gobbled by hungry mouths.

 

Cars drive slowly, where the

trees are filled with song,

medleys of flowers blossomed all along.

 

Sheep let you pet them, where the

chickens couldn’t be chased,

and the bullocks peacefully grazed.

 

Dusk approached, then you

looked up at starry skies,

with children hugging you on every side.

 

I thanked God for the day, where there

was hope where all else stalled,

Hope- After all.

 

Written on a trip to Yelagiri hills, Tamilnadu.

Photo credit: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/day-of-hope/

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The best doctor ever

I was depressed, suicidal and the end of my dreams. I admit that most of my pain was of my own doing. At one point of time, I knew that I needed help. I was afraid of losing “it”.

The first person I approached was a Christian friend.

She listened to half my story and then said,”How could you let this happen to you? How could you be so stupid? Remember that you will be judged for whatever you do!”

Another friend said “I can’t believe that you of all people did that. What were you thinking?”

Their words left the wounds gaping and bleeding. The ointment they tried to apply hurt more than the wound itself.

The next person I approached was considered pious, wise and mature. Somewhere through the conversation, I realised that she was digging for details. I also realised that the reason she did was so she could share the spicy story with her prayer mates, so they could tut- tutsy over it during tea. I excused myself and left.  I had never been so hurt.

I also lost my trust in the so called ‘godly’ people.

There was a male colleague who very interested in my well being. He seemed to notice everything I might be feeling and gave me a lot of sympathy. But when he asked me out for dinner, I knew he was being an opportunist.

Another friend (you see I had many), referred me to a psychiatrist. He listened to what I was saying attentively, was a bit threatened by my degree in psychology. He reflected back what I had said to him, explained to me where my discrepancies of thought lay, and how I had to take a stand on what I wanted in life.

He was good, but it didn’t help me one bit.

Many friends just vanished from my life when they got to know that I had problems. I guess they preferred to talk about makeup, clothes, and other people.

Anything but my problems.

 

I wasn’t yet going to give up. I had to fight.

Out of the blue, a “Pray to Jesus” song from Sunday school came to my mind, and I did.

He was right there.

“Where does it hurt?”, he asked. His eyes were so soft and gentle, it made me cry.

“Every where.” I replied crying harder.

And then he took into his arms and held me there with his love till I finished wetting his gown.

“Listen”, he finally said, “I have a plan.”

Then he had a good look at all my wounds, inside and outside and muttered,  “Will take time to heal.”

With that he got on his knees and with immeasurable patience, started binding each one of the wounds. The surprising part was that the wounds seemed to get better instantaneously.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

And he smiled ‘that smile’ which makes you all warm inside and want to burst out in joy.

He took me in an auto to a guest house and said “I’ll be back and will be right there whenever you call.”

I wanted to say, “Don’t leave me yet”, but I knew he would keep his promise.

He put two angels in charge of me to make sure I rested till the wounds healed. They were also to make sure I had healthy food for the body and soul. Angela and Gabi got for me apart from yummy food, books and movies which helped me understand what had happened to me better. I, who had been so starved of anything truly virtuous, took it all in.

For months, I walked through life completely dazed, barely perceiving what I was doing or how I was spending my days. I later realised that Jesus had come at the verge of a breakdown, just on time.

I watched how Angela and Gabi kept my feet from slipping and my eyes from seeing danger. They distracted me when danger was near, so I saw it only after it had passed. I still saw missiles of words and arrows of hatred aimed at my heart bounce off their shields and fall at their side. They lifted me over sharp edged stones  and I flew on their backs over dangerous and poisonous currents. They became real good friends.

But my bestest friend was Jesus. He came to visit very often, that is how often we called him. Those were the best moments in my life. We laughed and played and talked about so many things.

The most painful process was removing and redoing to bandages. But he insisted that unless they were cleaned they would not heal. So we talked about each one of them. I hadn’t even known some of them existed. Especially the ones on the inside. We talked about how each one of them was caused and he knew the antidote to each one of them. He taught me also how to protect myself from future hurts.

The answer was in putting on an armour apparently (Ephesians6: 10- 18):

I was to stand firm.

I was to wear a belt of truth.

A breast plate of righteousness.

Fit my feet with readiness to spread the gospel of peace.

I was to put on the shield of faith to extinguish flaming arrows.

I was to wear a helmet of salvation.

To hold the sword of the spirit which is God’s word.

I was to pray more on all occasions.

 

He was so patient and so gentle.

Finally one day, I was ready.

So when it was time for him to leave, I said ” I’m coming with you.”

He smiled and reached for my hand.

Ever since then, life has never been the same.

And the fun thing is, the adventures have just begun.

 

 

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Psalm 107:19- 21

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.blog.czarymary.pl

 

 

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My left foot- Christy Brown

Mein Linker Fuss- Christy Brown

“They all had interests, career opportunities and goals, to create meaning and wholeness in their lives and to direct their energy into their spheres of action and to create natural means of expression.  I had only my left foot.”

“Sie hatten Interessen, Arbeitsgebiete und Ziele, um aus ihrem Leben ein in sich gefestigtes Ganzes zu machen und ihren Energien einen naturlichen Wirkungs bereich, eine naturliche Ausdrucks moglichkeit zu verschaffen. Ich hatte nur meinen linken Fuss. “

 

Why I decided to write about this book.

I have been working with children who have cerebral palsy for the past 9 years. I am quite well versed in the latest treatment techniques and the individual prognosis of each infant. But this book was an eye opener and I recommend that every person working with special children should read it.

This is an autobiography of Christy Brown, a child who had athetoid cerebral palsy with normal intelligence which is very often the case in this type of cerebral palsy. It is also the most difficult type of cerebral palsy to treat.christy-2

Wikipedia describes him as an Irish writer and a painter who was able to write and type only with his left foot. His story was made popular through an academy award winning movie which came out in 1989 based on the book.

Christy Brown was one of 14 children born to parents of the lower middle class. Though they struggled to make ends meet, he describes a happy childhood, when he was mostly unaware of the extent of his disability. The first few chapters of the book are dedicated to how normal life was for him in his childhood. Of special mention is the attitude of his mother, who he frequently describes as being the only person who understands him. With a special insight that does not come with education or excellence, she seems to know what this special child needs. She makes sure that he is treated equal to all the remaining children, knows just how to engage him, despite his limitations and was instrumental in discovering his ability to control his left foot, subsequently teaching him to read and write.

His struggles begin when he realizes how different he is from others. He reminds me of a bird trapped in a cage, a plethora of normal thinking, feelings and emotions trapped in a body, which refused to obey him. Emotions bordering on resentment and hopelessness about his condition, his heartbreaking attempts at suicide, the way he fell in love with normal girls, changes the way you think about children with cerebral palsy forever. I personally have learned to look beyond the smiling face and the contentment that these children portray when at the clinic.

“Of what use was it when they said I was special? I didn’t want to be special, I just wanted to be a normal human being like anybody else. Just because I used my left foot to do the things that others did with their hands, they said it was something to wonder. May be it was something special- I was not sure.”

“Was nutzte es, dass man sagte, ich sei  etwas ganz Besonderes? Ich wollte nichts Besonderes sein- ich wollte nur ein ganz gewohnlicher Mensch sein wie jeder andere auch. Gerade weil ich mit meinem linKen Fuss das vollfuhrte, was andere mit ihren Handen taten, sagte man es sei etwas Wunderbares. Vielleicht war es das- ich wusste es nicht.”

I thought that as a society we should be careful in loosely labelling children special! Are we trying to fool ourselves or them? Reduce the impact of their disability to our conscience, or to themselves? I am not sure.

D534-4960

In this photo Christy Brown shares a laugh with Maureen Potter.

 

Finally there appeared to be some hope. Some hope of a new method of therapy, but there was a condition.

“ Nothing that is good happens without a sacrifice, and your sacrifice is that you have to decide never to use your left foot again.”

“Niemals wird etwas Gutes ohne Opfer erreicht, und dein Opfer besteht darin: du must dich dazu entschliessen, niemals wieder deinen linken Fuss zu gebrauchen. “

This is what he was told when he entered the rehabilitation institute. He painfully agreed to the sacrifice and kept to it for almost 3 years. Eventually he was able to communicate using speech to some extent, but was still almost completely dependent in his daily living activities.

He received help from a few people, which include a social worker Katriona Delahunt, who introduces him to painting and Dr. Robert Collis, who helped him to write his book.

The film and the book end in a happy note, the book at an event in which he and his family are honoured on behalf of his writing. The film ends with Christy marrying the love of his life. In real life he went on to write many more novels, poetry and plays, he also continued to paint. Christy Brown died at the age of 49 years. Speculations are that his life and marriage towards the end were not happy ones and that he had undergone abuse and had finally died of neglect.

Christy Brown’s story inspired me to look much much much beyond disability into a soul, a heart, a mind full of dreams and longings in each child I see. I wish that I would be instrumental, just like the exceptional people in Christy’s life to make a change, to realise a dream and help a human being achieve his full potential.

51mLFZv45tL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

I read the book in German, to practice my reading skills, but you can find the book in English on Amazon- https://www.amazon.in/My-Left-Foot-Christy-Brown-ebook/dp/B00LSZMRRK

In German- https://www.amazon.de/Mein-linker-detebe-Christy-Brown/dp/325722768X

 

 

Picture credits:

https://www.littlemuseum.ie/dear-christy-the-christy-brown-collection

http://www.amazon.in

http://irishphotoarchive.photoshelter.com/image/I0000rFXzSjjvhrM

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Getting through a Monday – in one piece :/

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22

Good morning! You are at the right time in the right place. It is a Monday morning around 8 AM and I just arrived at work.

My morning started about 3 hours earlier, when I jumped out of bed at the first sound of the alarm to face the new week. I cheerfully entered the kitchen after spending some time reading the bible and prayer and proceeded to make yummy and healthy breakfast and lunch, with lots of veggies.

I then woke up my husband and kids with a hug and a kiss wishing them a Good Morning! At 7:30 we are all ready at the door; uniform shirts tucked, and lunch bags in hand.

This is what I wish had happened.

What really happened is this.

I woke up about 2 hours earlier, after snoozing the alarm several times. I panicked looking at the time, had a mental conflict on whether I had time for the bible and prayer, or if God would forgive me if I skipped it just this day. I settled on a quick prayer. I then rushed to the kitchen and searched for vegetables in the fridge and find- that they have disappeared. (I did not have time to wonder if I had forgotten the week before to buy any or if I had used them up.) As the clock ticks away, my anxiety levels increase. I settle for instant Maggie noodles for lunch and heat up leftover food for breakfast.

A frenzied mother enters the bedroom, forgets all about the morning kiss. “Why aren’t you all up yet”, she yells, “I have to do this every day, can’t you wake up on time?” At 7:45 AM we stand at the door, while one goes back to take the forgotten lunch bag and the other has to go to the toilet again.

I reach the office 10 minutes late and breathe.

And write a blog  😉

And I sincerely and honestly look forwards to the day.

I am an Occupational therapist working with children and I have varied days.

Today I will be seeing a 3 month old baby with a lovely smile, who will eventually be fine.

I will be seeing Baby Y, who has cerebral palsy and is at the moment trying to learn how to sit by himself and to hold a small rattle in his hand.

I will also have Baby X drop in whose mother is struggling in an abusive relationship, so I suspect that the session will be more about her than her child.

I have a group session planned with mothers in the afternoon who are so delightful to listen to, not because of their stories, for all of their stories are filled with pain and suffering, but because of how the spirit within them could overcome it all, and how they stand in spite of it all.

Some days can be real hard though! That is regardless of how much you like your Job.

Some days you rather rest in bed.

You rather not face that nasty colleague.

You rather not talk to that negative mother.

Some days you rather quit.

These are some of the things that help get through those days:

  1. I remind myself of my purpose.

I know that God has placed me where he has for a purpose, though I am rarely sure of the specifics, I know that his hand is at work. I am in this for him!

  1. I know my responsibilities.

I know, or have come to accept that there are things which need to be done by me- as a wife, a mother, a colleague, a therapist or a tutor. These things just need to be done, how I do it is up to me. Whether I choose to do it grudgingly or joyfully is completely up to me.

  1. I have a work I love.

I know I’m lucky and I know that not all work is enjoyable. If you are not in the work you love, try to find something you like to do and look forward to at least a few times in a week. Doing what you like to do, gets you through some bad days.

  1. I have a family to come back home to.

Yes, I have a messy house and naughty children who excited jump up and down when we get back, ready with the latest stories from school. It is never ideal, but it is a blessing and I am very thankful for that.

  1. I know bad things won’t last forever.

I still remember the first time I was heartbroken, I thought I would never recover from it, but I did. My friend says “Life is like a computer game, once you pass one level, the next one gets more difficult.” Through all the levels I have crossed so far, there have been varying levels of difficulties, but none has lasted forever, even though some seemed to.

  1. I have a goal in life.

Well, I stopped goal setting a while ago, but I decided that this one would stay, that if I died tomorrow, there would be nothing that I would regret about today.

I hope that you all have a great week ahead! God bless you all.

 

There are some resources I found really useful on this blog (http://makeoveryourmornings.com) , especially on how to plan your mornings better and get a good head start!

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Embrace

I shook my head for each of the questions the parents asked.

Could not this have been prevented?

Is there no cure?

Will my child be normal?

Tears flowed freely on the deformed baby that the mother held afar, not yet sure she wanted it.

I reached for the mother’s hand, the tears fell harder.

“She will never be completely normal, but she will smile, laugh and make you happy. You will be a good mother, she will love you.”

The mother nods, drawing her bundle towards her.

Some questions don’t have answers, but for now that’s OK.

 

 

 

Picture credit: Pininterest

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Female infanticide and Feminism

“To all the women, whose life seems an utter mess,

Who see neither way out nor a cathedral to confess.

To whom survival is the immediate need,

Who no advice columns or feminism heed.

Listen to me, listen here,

I bring you nothing new, nothing that would cheer.

But don’t listen to all the crap they say,

Just stay the way you are…. you’ll be OK someday.”

The parents cried over the child, wept bitterly. “Somehow please save this child”, they pleaded.

The mother had just been discharged from the Intensive Care Unit. She had seen the edge of death and come back. She had also been told that she would not be able to have any more children.

“Is this your first child?” I asked.

“No”, she replied. Then she told me her story.

The first child was a boy, he had died at 4 ½ months, she was not sure how, but he always had some difficulty in breathing. The 2nd child was a girl, she was now studying in 9th standard. The 3rd, 4th and 6th ones were girls too, studying in 5th, 2nd standard and preschool. The 5th child was a boy, who did not cry when he was born and died within a week. The 7th child was the one lying unresponsive before me with little hope of being normal even if he survived. “We just wanted at least one boy child”, she cried.

Here was a family who struggled to eat a meal a day, who would never be able to educate their daughters beyond high school who so desperately desired a son.  Listening to the story made me very resentful and angry. I avoided the parents for a few days, that is how long I took to talk to them without conflicting emotions.

“Why did you want a son so badly”, I finally asked her. That is when I heard the rest of the story.

She said that she did not have anyone. Her father had left her mother because she didn’t have a son, to bring up 3 daughters alone. None of her sisters or she had even been to a school, they just couldn’t afford it. Finally she was married to her uncle, her mother’s brother at the age of 12. This saved the usual marriage expenses that the girl’s family were asked to meet. You can read about wedding expenses in India here (http://www.unmappedmag.com/issue-24/the-true-cost-of-an-indian-wedding/).

At 13 she had her 1st child. By then her mother was no more. So she did not have her mother’s emotional or physical support in bringing up her children. Both she and her husband were daily wage labourers, who were hired for unskilled work occasionally earning enough for a meal a day.maxresdefault

Why did they want a son? Oh everyone made fun of her. They made fun of their 4 daughters, they told her that she could not bear a son. She wanted to prove them wrong. Her sister in law had a son (and a daughter). When you had a son, you had more privileges, like a better place to sleep in the house and better food to eat. “It is not that I don’t love my daughters, I will make sure they study till high school, but a son would take care of us in old age, the daughters will get married and leave.”

*                                         *                                             *

There is a story in the recent news about girls who were abandoned by their parents at birth 18 year ago, who grew up in orphanages, who now are being taken back to their biological parents after DNA testing (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/Ghost-of-female-infanticide-returns-to-haunt-Usilampatti/article16899855.ece).

They go back to families who are already making plans for their marriage and education. The media emphasis is on the positive response of the biological parents and their regret about the initial mistake. Why make them look so good for taking back daughters who belonged to them and should have been protected from harm and brought up by THEM. I wonder why no reporters asked the now young women how they feel about going back. About going back to a place where they were unwanted. About having no choice or options regarding the same.

What will happen to them tomorrow when they are no longer in the news? Will they be treated better in their homes than in the orphanage where they were neglected?

*                                         *                                             *

The mother, whose features I have often tried to imagine, having seen only her eyes, pulls the veil over her 3 year old daughter’s face, who does not resist at all. It is a hot day. She’s just a child.

“Why do you have to do it?” I ask, overcoming my usually hesitation in asking intruding questions.

“She will have to get used to it”, the mother replies.

A-Salon-for-Veiled-Women-in-Suresnes

She didn’t want my pitying looks, and maybe wanted to defend herself, so she added: “It makes little girls look very cute, don’t you think? I like putting it on her!”

“She looks lovely.” I said.

*                                         *                                             *

“When I grow big I want to be just like you” she says, hugging me and pressing her soft cheeks against mine. She is 4 years old.

“What do you want to become when you grow big?” I ask her.

“I want to be a Mummy!” She says clapping her little hands.

“I know” I prompt further, “See I am a Mummy AND a Baby Therapist, no? What do want to be? Mummy and …….”

“I want to be a Mummy!” she says firmly, putting her hands on her hips. “And I going to have 100 babies!”

Dear Lord, I prayed, whatever it is that her heart desires, protect her from hurt and harm.

*                                         *                                             *

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie an excellent writer, a beautiful human being and a hard core feminist writes ”To raise feminist daughters, mothers must take pleasure in their own achievements, follow both the challenges and delights of the work, and give themselves room to fail. Ultimately, they must be full people.”

“Motherhood is a glorious gift”, she writes, “But do not define yourself solely by motherhood.”

Dear Ms Adichie, Feminism is for those who love eloquent speeches and for those who have been taught to appreciate poetry.rose-fausto-empowering-women-economics

I don’t see a reason for not defining yourself primarily as a mother- isn’t that or doesn’t that become part of who you are? There is nothing inferior or shameful about that.

How long do we strive and to what end?

Its probably not even about striving.

It is probably finding yourself in a world which doesn’t care or see.

It’s standing against the odds and saying I matter… too.

It is resisting the urge to run and hide and wearing a mask instead.

I would like to tell all women-

YOU ARE WORTHY.

You are worthy of all you dream of. You do not have to prove your worth.

Your worth is not in the children you bear or your academic accomplishments.

Your worth is not in the name you add on to yours after marriage.

It is not in the things that you cannot do because the world won’t let you.

It is not in hiding your beauty, so others will not take advantage of it.

Your worth is in who you are as a woman, the obstacles you overcome.

The way you are capable of holding strong and moving on.

And when you realise your strength, you’re gonna be OK.

You’re gonna be OK.

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