Broken System

Broken

With a million dreams, I adopted this beautiful country,

Never doubting for a second, the hope, the dreams, the freedom would turn into fear.

Fear, a hidden forbidden feeling none of us accept as our own,

Yet I felt it on my way to dropping my kids to school, on the last day of this year.

The morning news reported a couple of 14-year olds arrested for threatening

to shoot up their friends, their teachers, the quiet and the funny ones,

your kid, my kid, the coach who pushed my kid to achieve, the friend who shared his lunch with mine.

The teachers who show up with a brave face every day in spite of this fear, to teach our daughters and sons.

This ridiculous broken system expects us to act as ninjas, to fight, rather than to prevent.

What chance has a 10-year old against these faceless automated monsters?

For those who love your rights so much, do these children not have a right to live?

Is your outrage not greater than the hatred and the bigotry and the politics?

I am just a mother, all I can do is voice. I do not want to be afraid to send my kids to school, is that too much to give?

 

 

An Arranged Marriage Ceremony

Ceremony

ceremony

As an Indian who has lived abroad most of my life, I find that the most riveting tales of my existence are around my arranged marriage. My friends want to know how it is to live with a stranger, my colleagues want to make sure I am happy. Even my kids are curious if we knew each other’s names during our wedding ceremony.

Well, to be fair, we did know each other’s names, height, weight, complexion.

Did we know at that time that one of us was a sociopath? Probably not. Just kidding!

The ceremony could be several hours long. In some case, it spans over days. We get to see each other a lot. I couldn’t help but whisper to him how dreary the process was. The tons of guests ate tons of food while they waved at us sitting at the podium, hungry for hours.

Each one of them would introduce themselves while we smiled till we had a locked jaw. Of course, I remember every sister of every aunt of every brother in law of every niece.

The priest read mantras from memory that I am sure he wouldn’t be able to interpret either. My sister would remind me to smile while my aunt would remind me to not smile too much and appear demure.

God forbid, if I dozed off, the DJ would suddenly switch to loud party music when everybody converted the wedding hall into a discotheque.

My bridegroom meanwhile figured out how many cuss words I knew as I mumbled under my breath. In spite of the tiresome rituals, there were parts of the ceremony that did mean a lot. At the end it did mean that this stranger would be taking me away from my own family to a different continent. That I placed my entire trust in him based on the promise of the ceremony. I probably made him so nervous he said “Do I?” instead of “I Do”. However, for 15 years now we kept the promises made at that irksome ceremony.

Checkout the book By Vulisetti’s – Motherish Childish

Neglect me not!

Pamper

“Avi, wash your face?”

“I did mom”

“Last I heard, people still used water and soap, not hand sanitizer to wash. And change your clothes…”

“I hardly wore them for a week….they are cool.”

We all get into this banter with our Tweens. I am supposed to head out to dinner, for a change, to a place where they didn’t serve on trays….well I do wish now we had gone to Burger King rather than to these fancy places.

What’s the opposite of pamper – neglect? Some of us do not like to acknowledge some  sections of society are neglected…so let us just say some privileged people in society are pampered more than others. For instance, the lady at the reception takes it up as her job profile to find and pamper those who she would like to wait lesser, treated better, respected. I guess it’s not her fault…how is she supposed to guess you make 200/hour if you don’t spend money grooming your hair.

So…after giving us this look like we haven’t showered for a week, she went on to say she would text us when a table becomes available.

“Ummm…you need my number?”

“Yes, yes” she hits some keys.

After noticing some 20 + empty tables offered to walk-ins, I ask her again. She says she tried to text/find me.

“I was right there…anyway…what’s the number you have for me?”

She scrolls through her waiting list, unable to find my name nor my number. Strange, huh?

Well….everything happens for the good….now my Tween has learnt the valuable lesson in life that he needs to dress like a million dollars, who cares if he is on honor roll or the pride of his family. That he will be judged by the color of his skin and his iPhone version, who cares if he will be the future President of this fancy restaurant or of this country.

IRMA

Penchant

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We would like to be on opposite sides across various tables but the thing that still binds us together is the penchant to be human. To all my fellow Irma survivors, seriously how many of you could get a wink of sleep in the days and nights it took for the howler to cross the state. If per chance, you were like me and forgot your faith I am sure you remembered all your childhood prayers, be it Hail Mary, Om Shanti or Allahu Akbar. In my part of town, Jacksonville, the power vanished when it was probably 100 mph outside… who knows… the constant commentary of the weather channel silenced now. I did not even know the dodge baller Irma actually came pretty close to us. I walked around with a candle checking to make sure my kids didn’t get blown away. My son said, “Mom you were scarier than the storm….crazy candle lady walking around at 2 am.” Jokes apart, in the morning I discovered the true spirit of the USA that so many of us fell in love with when we got off our boats/planes.

In a world where freedom to choose is the root to so much evil, a simple person can make a choice to be kind….and God how much difference it makes. It makes all the difference between a monster hurricane Irma defeating man versus humanity defeating hurricane Irma. Kudos to every lineman in Florida who worked their behinds to restore power, kudos to every neighbor who extended their generator to the family next door, kudos to every fish market that gave out free ice to everyone who asked and so much more kindness to go around, it is hard to list it all.

In the state of fear we have been living in these days, where blacks fear whites, browns don’t belong and whites feel uprooted, I have seen my entire community come around, all colors and orientations, to clean up debris, open up their homes to evacuees, hand out water and ice, rescue people on boats. These people will probably never be acknowledged but they did what they did because of love. And as long as there is more love than hate in this world (and I have learnt my evacuation route by rote), I will feel safe.

 

Guess What?

Satisfaction

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There’s so much to love, so much to hate,

The satisfaction from beaches, scorching sunshine and Coke….. guess the State?

 

Lollipop Memories

Lollipop

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Stubby little fingers feeding pigeons perched on a loft beneath the window sill.

The rotund pushing the frail aside; how she wished she could feed them all.

Her mother calls and she scurries, across the terrace that singed her bare feet.

She plows into a massive form and yet she cannot wait or stall.

Mother hands a note that says ‘pint of milk’ with a rupee and sends her off.

Papers dancing in trifling whirl winds, open drains with paper boats.

Cycle skidding in the dust, hawker selling sullied ice cream cones,

And when a scarce car whooshes by,

The urchins race across to break their bones.

The counter-top at general store is too high;

The peddler smiles at enormous eyes and knows their name.

He hands the change and while she gawks;

At neat stacks of jars with soggy biscuits and lollipops;

He wonders if she ever talks.

She flits back home, she hands the change.

Twenty years subsequent, she gazes at buildings with a hundred floors, watching the sun skim windows on building tops.

Still haunted by native dust and smelly alleys, lazy street dogs and broken kites;

Insufferably longing for soggy biscuits and lollipops.

 

Abuse – Savage Town

Savage

alone

I did not get to say NO, does that mean I wanted it. I did not know how to understand what happened, does that mean it did not happen, or that I am misunderstood.

Society has come a long way since my generation was younger. I am not here to blog on how molesters, especially child molesters are not getting enough punishment. There are thousands of advocates for that I am sure. I am here to talk to the good people. The ones that are sick are not getting cured by reading a blog.

I have come a long way from a small town I grew up in India. Long way to freedom, stability and security….however, I know there are thousands of stories of little girls and boys that are untold. Stories of unwanted touching in trains, buses, homes. Stories that resonate with victims who went unnoticed for the sheer fear of stigma. What is this stigma, in the mind of a 9-year old?

The stigma of having rattled an adult, of having rocked a boat, of declaring themselves as a sex object. There is an inherent bias in society that decent kids are not meant to know, express and communicate about sexuality. It is considered modest to not publicly display affection. Social media is considered the savage here, not the neighbor, or the cousin living right under the parents’ noses.

How do you make these kids speak up? Guardians, please teach your kids that it is ok to talk about sexuality, abuse and other uncomfortable topics. That their feeling of guilt is misplaced.

Now, let’s get to what happens when a victim does speak up. Responses such as – “The child has a very active imagination.” “Just look at the short top she wore, it wouldn’t have happened but for that” are ignorant and totally unfair. Girls are stowed away at home and sent out only in the company of a male protector, just like jewelry is put in a safe. For parents who dare to give freedom to their children, there is a constant, nagging fear. How many predators are they going to protect them from? And why is this problem not getting fixed in India?

Do you really think people in countries, with lesser crime rates are all born as better human beings? Not really. People behave when they fear the law, when victims speak up, when there is an awareness in the society. Not to forget to mention the other end of the spectrum, where women abuse the laws that are already skewed in their favor. This makes the necessity of proof vital. Thereby, the onus on the real victims of such crimes is manifold. The wrong escapes by complicating the system with red tape and corruption. The right gets buried under the burden of scrutiny.

Let us not raise children, who grew up strong healing from their traumas, but those that are brave enough to fight their demons, right when they face them.