Sunday, April 27, 2014

Satchu - an outcast disowned by family

Satchidanand Pillai born to parents who apparently looked affectionate to him. Both were dark, short and had smiling faces. The mother was not the biological one for Satchu. She was a step-mother and he called her "Chithi" means maternal aunt. His father told him that his real mother was dead and Satchu believed it. He had two step siblings, a brother and sister. All three were affectionate to each other and like all happy children, played and ate together. The reality was, she was not a mother for Satchu and his siblings????

Studious Satchu turned prankster. He was a hero among us children and as we were neighbours. Satchu was always there during a crisis. Be it an accident, a lost sibling or a broken toy  our dear Satchu was there. He was a hardworking student who was disallowed to play during exams. Once we had the good fortune to visit a nearby park which was unfortunately close to a canal. Satchu was keen on visiting the canal by crossing it and viewing it from the other side. There was a narrow pipeline which lay across  the canal that made its way towards our colony. We were seven of us with Satchu as the leader. Did we cross the precarious bridge safe up and down? No Satchu's younger sister slipped into the canal and fetching her out of it was a task for Satchu. This incident changed her life and that of Satchu.

Satchu landed in a hostel then to jail

That day was dramatic for what followed. His father came home and the entire neighbourhood near Satchu's sister who fell sick and never recovered. Then came the angry downpour from his father -"This brat (Satchu) is mad like his mother. Go away to the asylum you are fit to be there...."(Satchu's mother was alive in an asylum). The rattled father flogged Satchu black and blue and vowed never to see his face and sent him to a boarding school. The events that followed made Satchu regret his life on this earth. He picked  up bad habits, repeated every class and finally  was turned out of school. A young disgruntled adult who became listless in seeking a proper direction in life. He took to picking pockets, gambling and drinking. I know all this may sound like a movie. Today he stands a social outcast, quite tired of being blamed for all misfortunes. The boy who was born to a family that  later disowned him.The kind of relationship as  children we shared with Satchu could not serve in resurrecting the boy  whose fate took a wrong turn. The boy who was more sinned against than sinning.

Those stylish girls

Primrose and Cynthia were school and class mates who were smart and fluent in Hindi. Reason - they spent their childhood during the first seven years of schooling in Delhi. Normally Delhiites only get a smirk from Mumbaikars but these girls looked quite endearing to the teachers and we few classmates. Primrose, the elder was quite refined and conscious of her buckteeth. A suitable hairstyle did hide the buckteeth. How? Short ponytails above the ears gave ample scope for the hair to fly against the wind so that the hair kept lingering near the mouth. Wow! What a discovery for hair stylists. Cynthia, fairer and prettier wore a short crop with a fringe to hide the newly sprouting pimples on the forehead. The sultry climate only multiplied the growth of those pink eruptions.

Children of a single parent

Reverting to them , these chattering sisters had no worry at all to keep them morose. But no I discovered they were hiding a secret. During the break they never shared lunch, sat aloof from us and whispered animatedly as if the wall behind them would crumble.

Then one day I was behind them in a queue to pay the school fees. The clerk at the window insisted that the fees declaration form should be signed by both parents. The girls turned gutsy and defensive. They insisted that their mother was their caretaker hence she can sign for both parents. The argument lasted a few minutes. The girls had to report to the headmistress. The mother was called and the nuns congregated to wonder why the girls had only one parent. Their father was not dead (according to Cynthia). Estranged parents? Oh! ..no.  Then one day Cynthia confided to me, their father was elsewhere and an uncle lived with them. This was how parents kept secrets.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quest for life ..... originates from a passion to live

This does sound odd when youngsters sound philosophical about life. A more recent utterance by a student (Marina Keegan),  Yale student,who did not turn 23 but died in an accident in the US, she spoke about living a more meaningful life than aspire for a hefty paycheck. A similar case can be cited about an IIT student of Delhi who died prematurely while on vacation.No,hese girls did not have a queer family background but they did not live long to share their healthy views on life. 

Are we raising children the right way?

Parents who have been leading insecure lives do tend to pass on their emotional baggage to their children. And more such instances come from estranged parents on single parents. The mental make-up of the children of such individuals are introvert and reticent. Do not blame it on the genes. Neither can we opine that extrovert children hail from a happy parental background. Oh why should I sound like a psychologist when I am not. 

An isolated example

A close relative who lost her mother at a very young age was not reared by by her father although he offered the monetary support. She was looked after by a host of maternal relatives who hardly made her feel the absence of her parents. She grew up to be a beautiful and talented woman strong and courageous too. She became an exemplary woman for many in the family. Now this example cannot be generalised as such children without a parent or both parents are left as "destitutes" in the moral sense and grow up to be 'imperfect' examples in school and society. Especially girls are subject to a lot of insinuations if both parents are not present during the 'rearing' period. 

How do boys cope in a parentless world?

Here comes the crux of mental development when male children are deprived of both parents fare worse than those deprived of one parent. So 'parental' care for the growth of a human being is a must. That makes us different from animals. Animals do give up their fledglings (to grow on their own). After a certain period  these fledglings do cope with their environ and live in flocks, learn and live a life that adhere them to their species. So why is man different and more so boys. Do all parentless boys live in orphanages or destitute homes? Not necessarily but having interacted with my boy students, I found them no different from girls. Instead, they turn out to be more gawky, shy and reticent. Now these traits usher them to get into anti-social groups, a bit revolutionary or are also prone to seek divine company from holy individuals. The last option need not offer an optimal solution to grow as a better human being. Priesthood or celibacy draws men and women away from normal life which can induce 'perverse' thinking and quite often get parochial as well. 

Getting attuned to recognise human behaviour

The tendency to wean away from human beings and live reclusively is not a healthy trait in children. Whatever be the shortcoming, a child should be drawn to human beings. Many parents offer pets to single children to dispel loneliness. This does not imbue brotherly / sisterly affection. However, the single child does develop a compassionate nature towards pets and that's it.  I would like to discuss about 'Satchu' (Satchidanand) in my next blog who left a deep scar in his parents' mind after he abandoned them. 

All said and done I have dealt with more students than relatives in my life span. My earnest prayer would be to parents and teachers to treat young boys and girls well in a healthy manner instead of turning shock receptors in future watching your progeny go astray. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Uncle Sam's emissary came, sauntered and flew back!

Oh, does it sound political when the word 'emissary' is used. Here the country needs no direct reference, the emissary is brother-in-law, almost a familial accessory. He lives so far away that with every passing year it gets more and more difficult to relate with him about Indian culture and Indian life. I thought, with age, a person mellows down, gets more earthly and connects more warmly. But no, I am disappointed. Besides the goodies that he parted /disbursed, there is only a 'gel' like halo attached which disintegrates with the tropical climate . I mean the 'gel' of warmth.

Many years ago, a family friend who could aspire to be as highly placed as in the CAG office in India, she left Indian shores to Uncle Sam's country which extricated the intellect of her. Today she is left fully zapped of energy and drive. Hit by an incurable disease, she is longing to be back in India. Must admire her husband who has borne her indisposition with tremendous courage and patience along with the requisite medical cover. Today she aspires half-heartedly to be back.

Global citizens no longer relish 'alien' shores 

The most evident traits about expatriates is their dissatisfaction with Indian life and living conditions. Those who pioneered this dream of seeking 'greener' pastures hailed from Kerala. They wove and rewove dreams that were laced with petro-dollars but all said and done, dreams do not last a life time. Somewhere deep down  the Indian psyche is revealed at some or the other stage of one's life. Like an Indian he has his own way to savour a good meal or drink noisily, laugh aloud in public places, misuse toilets, make noisy gestures to communicate privately (?).

These very traits are applicable to those Indians in Europe, or the US or sophisticated countries like Bahrain, Singapore, Hong Kong or Japan. Many may vehemently refute this argument but I have observed  quite a few and the more I see them, the more plaintive is the disdain for a total makeover of personality which is impractical.

Cheerio to Paan

There is this gentleman whose passion for betel leaves and betel nuts is nutty. He had the good fortune to visit the Emirates but that also surged his love for the spittoon. In most places the spittoons were placed in the washrooms. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. His aversion to use the spittoon in washrooms lessened his urge to chew 'paan'. That was remarkable.

Love for spirits (potable)

Indians also yearn to gulp foreign spirits as they taste exotic. 'Phoren' liquor is attractive to Indians and expatriates alike.The latter feel  elated to be received with added respect as they hand over these spirits as if they were specially imported from heaven. The less said the better as many of my male acquaintances will feel hurt by these accusations. The insatiable thirst for foreign 'spirits'.

Second rate citizenship or first rate ruffians at home

The Indian male has this unique quality to feel like a 'monarch' of all he surveys. That sense of closeness or attachment to one's native soil is still rampant in the Indian expatriate. That sets him apart and defines an Indian feel for the soil that that he was born.A native longing.