Some Jarlie is better than no Jarlie

Yog and me achieved a new development milestone on a trip to the Supermarket, few days ago. We dedicate this milestone to Jarlie. This is how the story goes.

Toyna, Yog and I love Jarlie. You may ask, “Who doesn’t?” but that is not the message of this story. Till date, whenever we go to a supermarket, we always pick two jars of Jarlie, to share between the three of us.  On this historic day, Toyna caught one jar and Yog another, all the way till the billing counters. The two jars were the first items to be billed to ensure that  we could start eating them while the rest of the packets queued down slowly under the scanner.

Yogs eyes glowed as the velvety chocolate entered his gut. I waited patiently for him to come and offer me a bite. He usually does share (especially with me) the things he loves. I assumed that it is his love for me, that compels him to share his favorite food with me. However, that love did not seem to be waking up that day.

As the top chocolate layer disappeared from the cake, I decided to step in for myself. I walked up to Yog and took a dig into his sinful chocolate cake. Yog went into shock and all hell broke loose on the supermarket floor. How could anyone take a bite from his Jarlie? Didn’t anyone teach manners to his Mom? How unfair could the world get? He started crying loudly, right there on the side of the queue. That did not deter me. I calmly told him that we share things as a family.

I was hoping that my calm attitude would help him come around and return to being my loving son. When that didn’t happen, I forced myself for another bite from his jar. Now, Yog switched from shock to disbelief. He quickly kept the jar back into the shopping cart as if I had made it  impure by my touch. He ran to Toyna, with tears streaming his face and said, “Mama took two bites from MY cake!!!!”. Toyna calmly explained to him that it was OK and there was still enough cake in the jar for both of us. However, Yog had gone beyond the line of reasoning. He sobbed, stomped his feet on the ground but refused to touch the jar again. He kept repeating, “I want a full jar, only for myself. I will not buy Jarlie for Mama.”

I refused to give in to the theatricals. We had finished billing by now and I calmly walked out the store taking another bite of the cake. Yog was now at a complete loss of words or expressions. In his mind, he was trying to decide whether to try his theatrics for some more time or to try and salvage the leftover Jarlie from the clutches of his monstrous Mom. My next bite made the decision easy for him. He rushed to take the jar from me and quickly took a big bite. He then ran ahead so that I could not touch him or his favorite Jarlie.

I couldn’t help but smile at his tear strewn face. I was happy that he took a logical decision and did not let drama stand in the way of reason. After all, some Jarlie is better than no Jarlie at all. While Yog learnt the use of “Reasoning”, that day, I learnt that my once toddler son was on his way to become a big boy. I was no longer his first and only love. There were many more materialistic things in Yogs life that had become more important than me. I just couldn’t decide whether to thank Jarlie or curse Jarlie for that learning!

P.S. Special thanks to the bystanders at the Supermarket, whose names or even faces I don’t recollect. Thank you for being patient with a hysterical child and a stoic mother. I am sure God is watching and in return for this patience, He will save you at least one hysterical theatrics from your own child.

image courtesy: jarlie.in

If God begged you to choose a Dream…

I asked a simple question to 70 working women on the occasion of Women’s Day, “If God came today and begged you to choose your dream, what dream would you choose?” Ten minutes later, I had my answers. 100% of the women said, “My dream is to take good care of my parents and my children.” When I was preparing for the workshop, I knew a majority would prioritize this dream, but the majority would be 100%, was something that I was not prepared for. I coaxed them to think of a dream above being a mother and daughter because before being a mother/daughter they were individuals who had to have dreams and wants for themselves.

As silence progressed in the room, I knew no one had ever asked them this question before. They had not even asked this question to themselves. Right from the day they were born, they have been told that the ultimate goal of a girl is to take care of husband, parents and raise healthy kids. But what happens to women when children have moved out and parents are no longer in this world? Without having any dreams for themselves, what are women supposed to do at that time? I tried telling them that having a dream of their own did not make them a bad mother or a bad daughter. In fact, if they did not know how to achieve their personal dreams, how would they teach their children to dream uninhibitedly. If women in this world did not have dreams beyond being a mother and daughter, how would the nation progress? How would the world progress?

In my mind, I struggled to break this invisible wall. How could I have them think beyond their current responsibilities? Then I framed the same question in a different way, “When you were a child, and you did not have to worry about taking care of your parents or your children, what did you want to become?” I told them my story of wanting to become a Dad. I told them my daughters story of wanting to become a Ballerina. Slowly, I saw the mood changing. A beautiful lady said she had wanted to become a Pilot. Another one promptly raised her hand and said, “I wanted to be a doctor…”. Slowly I had a list coming out – Fashion Designer, Musician, Dancer and more. I saw them really digging into their memories and trying to revive their childhood dreams.

While a lot of them came out with their dreams, the majority of women still looked at me blank faced. They still had not understood the question. Could there be another dream for a woman in addition to being a good mother and a daughter? As the clock ticked on and my time was up, I ended the workshop with a heavy heart. I left the floor urging them to connect with the child within themselves and look beyond their immediate responsibilities. I hoped that the child would guide them to reignite their dreams.

As I walked to my car, I could feel their dilemma walking alongside me. After all, I was in the very same shoes, just a couple of years ago. I had never acknowledged my dreams to myself. I kept thinking that if my dreams came out in the open, they would disrupt the peace and balance of my household. They would definitely come in the way of my children’s wellbeing. As a mother, I had to prioritize my children’s dreams. My wants and dreams did not really matter.

I think it was the monotony of daily life along with an urge to do something bigger that slowly forced my dreams to come out from the dark corners of my heart. As soon as my dream were out, I readied myself for my family’s disapproval. But that did not happen. In fact, they were thrilled that I had a dream of my own. When I started pursuing my dreams, it made me a happier and fulfilled individual. Because I was happy, I could keep my children and my parents happy. I am a better mother, a better daughter, and a better citizen because I am a happier person now than I was before.

I am sure the audience I met yesterday does not represent 100% of the women out there. I am sure many of us have identified our dreams and have built an ecosystem around us to support the dreams. I write this blog for those women who have not yet acknowledged their dream. If you do not agree with me on this one, please share your views. If you think the only dream a women is entitled to have, is that of being a Mother, Wife and, Daughter, I would love to talk, argue (or whatever it takes) to start a dialogue on this front.

Die Today. You can choose to Live Tomorrow.

The camera men are doing their job fantastically well. They are recording the entire wedding in detail. So what if the rest of the family sitting in the front of the stage are not able to view the main wedding, at all. We can always view the recording later.

Isn’t this how we constantly experience the most precious moments of our lives? Even before we have lived them, we record them. Annual days, birthday parties, first words, marriage proposals and even weddings are all viewed by us, only from behind a camera lens. So much so, that in order to ensure that the camera recording is perfect, we let go of the live experience completely. Such a shame!

Sadly this camera mania is just a metaphor of our larger lifestyle. We constantly invest time, money and emotions carefully crafting our future. So what, if we forego some pieces of our present in the process!?! All this effort towards building the future is going to be completely worth it, if we can sit back and relax in the future. This is what we have been taught since childhood. Study now, play later. Work hard, build a career. You will have enough years to enjoy when you grow old. We try and save all the good things for the future, as if the present is a punishment, not meant to be enjoyed. If I were to extrapolate this in a dramatic way, it would be equivalent to  choosing to die first, so that we can live happily, later.

Pessimists will argue that there is a reason we save and invest for the future. We don’t want to be begging on the road when we are 65. I completely agree! However, what is the guarantee any one of us will live till we are 65? For the sake of the argument, let’s consider that we are lucky enough to have lived till we are 65. What is the guarantee that all the material wealth we have accumulated in our lives will survive along with us? We live in the world of economic uncertainties and there is no form of investment that is absolutely fail proof. Yes, you may choose to buy an independent island and declare it your own sovereign country. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will not be overthrown by a neighboring island plus there is global warming, anyways. Unfortunately gold, stock, property or even Swiss dollars don’t come with a life time guarantee.

Bottom line, the only thing guaranteed in this life is the present moment that we have. If we cannot live it completely, right here, right now, it is not worth saving for the future, either. Work hard towards the things that matter to you, not the things that promise future security. The only way to secure your future happiness is to build a life around the things that make you happy today.

For once I will also think on behalf of the pessimists, “What if you are not able to save enough doing the thing that you love? You might end up begging on the street when you are 65”. The chances of you ending up begging are honestly much higher if you are not working on what you love, today. Even if, what you love does not guarantee a perfect future, at least it has already guaranteed a perfect present.

P.S. – Next time a camera man blocks my view, don’t hold me responsible for the consequences.