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Who can speak of a mother without emotion or feeling? Who can live without pondering over her love and sacrifice that builds a home? Whoever can fail to think of the moments she stood by when all others chose to desert? Who can forget her affection and care?

I know there are moments i fail to reflect on my mother’s love, fail to appreciate her life of sacrifice, fail to acknowledge that i owe my life to her whom the Maker gave for my own….but then as a mother i understand. I now appreciate her existence and the poem below is a tribute for the one who gave up her all to bring out my best..I love you mummy…

A heart that bleeds,

Bleeds forever,

Yet no one notices,

Words that stab,

Deeds that bruise,

The throb of this heart.

Years of sacrifice,

And selfless love given,

The heart bleeds,

Unheeded in its distress.

Uncared for, ignored,

Hurt and abused.

Careless words,

Increase the pain,

Works of love,

Taken for granted;

Thanklessness greets,

This bleeding heart.

Amidst its pain,

It continues to beat,

Its bloody wounds,

Find no relief,

Yet this heart goes on,

Its love to share.

How long will you

Abuse, insult and reject?

Can you overlook?

and ignore the stains,

That built your life,

From a bleeding heart?

-Written for my beloved mummy who has given her all to build my life

Tear Apart

(This post is based on a real life experience. All names used are fictional. This post is dedicated to all mothers who strive to give the best for their children)

It was yet another field work day at the Adoption Agency where I was placed as a student of Social Work. My Supervisor was busy as usual and there were several clients waiting for an appointment. I was doing some pending paper work when a lady stepped in with a two year old boy clinging to her sari. She spoke briefly to my Supervisor before I was called in. “You need to record this lady’s case”, my Superior told me. Soon I led the woman and her son to a nearby desk and began to interview her. I learnt that Sumathy was a recent widow. Her husband, a driver met with a fatal accident that killed him just few months ago. Sumathy had two girls as well and both of them were in middle school. She had been a housewife all along and ever since her husband passed away, she had been struggling to find a way to make money. Being uneducated and with no other skills, Sumathy had taken up job as a household help. Her income was paltry and meeting family needs, a constant battle. I soon assumed that she must have come to ask for sponsorship for her children at school since that was also one of the functions of our Agency. However I was in for a shock when she told me that she actually came to surrender her little son, Babu for adoption even as the unwary boy continued to cling to her sari. I tried to persuade her to try for sponsorship instead. But Sumathy had made up her mind. Apparently this was not an overnight decision but a well thought one. I tried to reason further saying that surrendering her child could not be reversed even if she wanted to later on. Despite the tears rolling down her cheeks, Sumathy stuck to her choice. There seemed nothing to do but process the papers and this is exactly what I did. Even as I prepared her case file, I continued to remain baffled at Sumathy’s eccentric decision.  Could a mother let go of her child, that too a two year old? All the other surrendered children I had seen so far were just bed babies who knew nothing of a mother or her love.

I was not around when Sumathy came and left her little Babu with the Agency. When I did go to the Foster Home a few days later, I found him right at the gate crying inconsolably, the only words coming from his mouth “amma’’. He clung to the grill on the gate, longing for his mother’s sari that always gave him refuge. I have never experienced more agony than at that time when I witnessed the grief of this young child. I tried to take him in my arms and distract him to play with the other children or the many toys that were around. But Babu would not budge. He continued to wail and mourn, clutching the grills. Soon the caretaker of the home came along and told me that nothing could be done and that he would become alright with time. I did not share her optimism but I realized that I was of no help to little Babu. He continued to call ‘’amma’’ all through the time I was at the Home. I felt a deep pang in my heart as I left the Home that day. I found it hard to accept that Sumathy had really surrendered her son.

The memory of Babu wailing for his mother haunted me for several days and has always been imprinted on my mind.  It was years later when I became a mother myself that I understood the reason for Sumathy’s hard choice. When for the first time I dropped my little girl at school and returned, the silence at home, the absence of her voice and the endless clanging of toys engulfed me and I remembered Sumathy. How did she feel to leave Babu that day at the Foster Home, knowing that she will never see him again? A few hours away from my precious daughter were agonizing. How was it for Sumathy who would not see her Babu even years later? Was she a heartless mother? I knew she was hardly that. Her sudden widowhood throwing all family burdens on her frail shoulders, her lack of education and inability to engage in any steady income generating venture and her own insecurities were huge handicaps she struggled with. She did not want any of her children to suffer because she certainly loved them all. She knew that three mouths to feed and educate was well beyond her means. She was also unable to work with her little boy demanding much attention. So she made her choice, drowning her feelings and allowing reason to take the throne, she surrendered little Babu to one of the best Adoption Agencies she could find. She knew that he would have adoptive parents to provide for him things she could only dream of and also lavish him with love. She knew that this was best for her precious Babu and so she chose to tear apart the little one who clung to her sari.

I have tagged my fellow bloggers Sheena , Sameena and Deepak to participate in the Indus Ladies Women’s day blogging contest.

Danushkodi…..

“You live so close to Danushkodi now. You must make a trip and see the remains of the post office where granny’s dad worked…” my dad told me a few weeks after we moved into quaint Ramanathapuram. I was enthused to know that my great grand dad’s town was so close and yet I knew that there would be nothing left for me to see there in remembrance of him or of the post office where he worked. Danushkodi was entirely devoured by a furious cyclone that struck in 1964, claiming almost 1800 lives and totally ruining the town’s well developed infrastructure. Yet I believed that a visit to see the ruined structures would be worthwhile and so we chose a weekend to see Danushkodi which is mostly referred to as ‘Ghost Town’. Due to the dangerous topography of this once while prominent town, the Government declared it as unfit for habitation and so Danushkodi was never rebuilt after the cyclone. Even access to this forgotten land is tough due to sand dunes that stretch across the entire route and lack of proper road or rail transport. With all these setbacks, did Danushkodi fade from memory? Apparently not!  Due to the religious significance of ‘Arichalmunai’ in Danushkodi where the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, thousands of pilgrims stop by all through the year for a dip in the sea. Consequently several private operators ply special jeeps with guides to move people.

I browsed to find out more about Danushkodi before the trip and the pictures of the ruins along with the accounts ofSand dunes and huts of fisher folk residing in Danushkodi those who had been there before lured me. In many ways Danushkodi was much better than what I expected and in many ways it was a disappointment. The sand dunes, bumpy ride in a four wheel drive jeep, the buried rail and road links, the ruins and the windy shore offering refuge to so many different migratory birds captivated me. Yet the litter and garbage strewn across this vast expanse which was once a flourishing town with people striving hard to make a living was certainly disappointing. ‘Arichalmunai’ derived from two Tamil words meaning ‘erode’ and ‘tip’ lives up to its name and one can feel sand tickling the feet while standing on this cape to gaze at the perfect blend of two oceans, one calm and peaceful and the other boisterous and rough. Complementing this irony is the enormous number of liquor bottles along with trash left over by pilgrims performing sacred rites. From this point Sri Lanka is just 18 km away and this was the biggest natural asset that accelerated the growth of Danushkodi during its glory days.

The remains of the entrance to the post office in DanushkodiI walked through each ruined building and took time to pause and ponder about the history of the site, the people who had built and lived in it and its sad status now. An immense sense of loss seemed to engulf me with each dilapidated structure I happened to gaze upon. The post office was very special. As I climbed up the stairs that remained in memory of this huge building, I could not but think of my great grand pa and his work here. I never had a chance to meet him and yet seeing this ruined structure brought out visions in my mind about his daily chores. I was immensely curious to know where his house was but I had no clue.  I returned, content that it was somewhere beyond, buried in the sand.

There are residents in Danushkodi now and most of them are fisher folk and small tradesmen who attract tourists and pilgrims with souvenirs. Danushkodi will never be rebuilt. The ordinary buildings which once housed simple citizens and local establishments are now a relic. Even if these leftovers of nature’s fury bury in time, memories of loved ones who lived and worked in this scenic city will never die down in posterity.

Homework Factory

A seemingly harmless factory operates in our home every evening. This is when my four year old daughter Dami and I set out to do homework. In the hours that follow the home work machinery is set into motion. While on certain exceptional days we manage to deliver good output much ahead of schedule by completing worksheets in a jiffy, this is not the general rule. On most days, our production is slow and this is when mixed and contradicting emotions surge in me.  On the one hand I feel extremely sorry to see those tiny fingers struggle to take a firm grip of the pencil and those tired pleading eyes. Yet the next instant I flare up in fury when after taking a ton of effort to teach an alphabet, I notice my little girl singing to herself or looking distantly at the toys in the shelf. I often get flustered over the excessive demand placed on our small factory which results in piles of homework and a lack of resources, meaning a weary and disinterested girl with no eagerness to get through with those daunting worksheets.

The sympathy and anger that grips me are the harmful pollutants that our factory ejects and these certainly need treatment before release into the atmosphere, which is the peace and quiet of our home. To handle these deadly emotions before any one takes the upper hand is in no way easy and I can relate from experience that I struggle to do this. Yet I have understood that unless properly and adequately treated, lethal consequences can be expected. So I get to the task of balancing emotions and this is a daily battle for me. Sometimes I shudder to think of the long term work plan of our factory. With each year, our factory will no doubt have to expand and take up additional load. Will Dami and I be up to this task? I still do wonder and in the mean time, I try my best to master my effluent treatment process as this alone seems to hold the key to the success of our rapidly growing homework factory.

Hi!

Like this post? Do drop your comments here and share similar experiences from your life where you have gone through mixed emotions. Take a moment more to share these on Close up’s facebook page http://www.facebook.com/closeupindia

Thanks a ton!

Preena

Ramnad Times

Welcome to Ramnad equals welcome to semi rural living. I was sort of prepared for this and my social work backing helped me stay realistic and not hope for too much. Yet I cannot deny the shock and surprise at living in this poorly developed district. The open drainage and green water logged plots with several black piggy residents was something I had not bargained for. The bumpy roads, erratic power supply, hot summers and staring eyes I was prepared for. But certainly not open drains! The monsoon season helped me witness the worst times here in Ramnad. In spite of the inflow of water into several houses, people still seemed to carry on as usual and were surprised when I happened to share that such things are not too common back home.

The people of Ramnad are traditional. Most of them are warm and cordial and few are exceptionally hospitable like our house owners. Most of the men lead a relaxed life, operating business and boozing while the women relish gossip and cooking. Sadly, women are suppressed with many young girls getting married without a right to education. Equality of the sexes is an alien concept here in Ramnad.

The only regular outing we have is the visit to the market. Ignoring the curious stares of fellow shoppers, we manage to shop with caution now after several experiences of getting duped. There are a few well stocked super markets. The place is completely stripped of branded goods. Prices of daily essentials like vegetables are hiked at the look of outsiders like us. A large number of bakers can be seen all through the town and “Mummy” is the most auspicious name for these crowded stalls. The market has a variety of king mummy, new mummy, best mummy…bakeries.

Women here attire in sarees while young girls sport salwar. Not many married women wear salwar kameez and in respect of the local dressing preference I restricted myself to salwars allowing my jeans and tees to gather dust in the cupboard. The only time I did wear jeans was to dine in a local restaurant. After the meal, the waiter was too eager to know where Deepak worked and started a small conversation and then he brought out his pressing query, “To which country do you belong?” We certainly don’t look western or eastern and after controlling a desire to guffaw, Deepak replied that we were pure Tamil Indians.

In Spite of all the snags and setbacks, I have somehow gotten used to life in this semi rural district and though I cannot say I love the place, I can confidently say, I live the place!

Tender Moments….

My little daughter’s innocence and love has never ceased to amaze and enthrall me. Just as she can make me as mad as a hatter, she can make me laugh like a hyena and cry like an infant. On the whole she has managed to evoke some of the deepest feelings I have ever felt. I guess that’s what daughters are all about.

Some time back, I decided to teach little Dami about money and so I started off by giving her few 10 rupee notes and some coins. She dutifully put these in a small purse and I often found her keeping her  treasure in a safe spot on the dresser. I told her if she collected enough money, she could buy herself a toy and this was why she safeguarded her loot. One day, while Deepak and I were discussing finances and the difficulty in getting through with monthly expenses, little Dami came running into the room with her precious purse and offered all her savings. She told Deepak there was enough money for everything and we need not worry. Both Deepak and I were taken by our sweet daughter’s affection. I was so stunned to see her sacrifice that special toy she could have bought by giving her money to us. We did not go on to take her money though she gave it with love. It was too less an amount to meet our needs and yet it was that act of love that clings on to the mind, making an appearance now and then to remind us of the little angel we love as our daughter.

Babe from Heaven

When you left Heaven that day,

Your tiny head in a manger to lay,

You knew what was ahead;

Yet came to fulfill what Scripture said.

 

Your first guest and gifts were chosen,

From the wise to the meek and broken.

Your family poor yet godly,

All this your choice in humanity.

 

You lived to be loved and despised,

Your words were life, men realized.

You healed and taught and cared,

As none before ever had.

 

In God’s time you did not refuse,

The cross with agony profuse.

Your death to save lost mankind,

Untold sufferings you did not mind.

 

In hope you rose from the dead to live,

Through time new life to people give.

How blessed to think of that day,

Your tiny head in a manger lay.

Simple Christmas tree

I cannot remember one Christmas when I did not venture to make a few decorations for our home. This year has been totally different and difficult because here in Ramnad where we moved a couple of months back, Christmas is such a low key festival and I am yet to find shops selling any kind of Christmas decorations. My art supplies are depleted and this left me stranded. Not to accept defeat, I brought out all the Christmas cards I collected over the years and began the task of converting a soap carton into a simple Christmas tree. This is how I did it, I cut the front and the 2 small sides of the box half way through. Next I cut a Christmas tree from an old greeting and pasted it on to the one side of the box that was left. I cut off the edges so that the shape of the tree could be seen. I also had a bright red wedding card that came in handy to cover up the base. I cut out a few leaves and a golden ornament, again out of old cards and pasted them on the base to give the tree a better look.

The tree did not look bad at all and the moment I was done, I found a small spot to place it. I stood awhile gazing at the tree when in a flash I realized something. The whole ornament was made out of old and used items; stuff that seemed to have no worth by themselves. But then when all these waste items were combined in the right manner, something of worth emerged. This made me think about the failures, mistakes and pit falls of my own life. Left on their own each of these hurtful experiences is worth nothing. But then I realized that by laying them all at Jesus’ feet and allowing Him to work out the right combination, something good can emerge out of the brokenness in my life. Each time I look at this simple Christmas tree, I am reassured that nothing is useless especially when placed in the hand of God.

My Christmas

Our Christmas tree was up on December 1st making our living room look bright and lively. I spend several minutes each day looking at the tiny ornaments on the tree and as I do, my mind races back in time to all the Christmas trees I have seen at home so far. I remember the glittery, short trees with silvery stars, golden bells and Santa faces, the tall casuarina trees with more branches to deck up and the real Christmas tree that we used for a few years. We always scattered cotton on the branches to make believe a snowy white Christmas. There were plenty of serial lights, whether the tree was big or small. The elegant, artificial tree that stands in my living room is so much better than all the ones I had as a child and through my formative years. Even the ornaments and lights are dainty and pretty, forcing an extended look. The snow is completely done away with because I am no longer a child and I now know that it never snows back home.

This Christmas tree that now stands in my house seems to ring out an important message. Over the years, with each Christmas, trees and ornaments have changed for the better. We have made room in our budget for new decorations and imported trees with greener leaves, stronger texture and better lights. This seemed to bring out a valuable lesson. How lovely each Christmas could be if like the tree, we who celebrate Christmas could become better individuals.  What would it be like if our values and attitudes improved like the new and fancy tree ornaments? How lovely Christmas can be if some misconceptions of life like snow could be entirely done away with. The tree stands as a reminder on Christmas day for us to reflect on the year gone by. Have we adorned ourselves with better qualities and a fresh perspective? The tree in your living room is a lot more than an art piece for the season. It is the reason to evaluate a whole year gone by and commit to live better. I make a silent prayer each time I see our beautiful Christmas tree “Lord make me a better person to reflect freshness and inner beauty all through the coming season and in the New Year”.

Soap Bubbles

My three year old daughter is a constant source of inspiration to me and playing with her has helped me re-live childhood joys. We spend many evenings together on the terrace of our apartment, blowing soap bubbles. Unlike other kids, my daughter does not enjoy blowing bubbles. She loves to chase after bubbles and catch them and so I always end up puffing air into soap water and making delightful bubbles for her to run after. This routine goes on evening after evening and my little girl spends all her enthusiasm, chasing these elusive bubbles. She gets delighted when she manages to catch one but her triumph easily fades off when she tries to hold the bubble and simply ends up with soapy droplets on the floor or on herself. The exercise leaves her completely exhausted and rouses a healthy appetite for dinner. So I always love blowing soap bubbles for more than one reason.

Bubble blowing has also taught me a very valuable lesson in life. Pondering over this childish game, I find a similarity in life. All the desires that constantly rule my life are like the soap bubbles. They are so many and there are always new desires that crop up. Like my little girl, I have been running and chasing after my desires all through life. Out of the hundreds of lovely items on my agenda, I may manage to touch a few and still at my touch the desire itself seems to lose its value and the craving ceases. Having is certainly not fulfilling. I end up worn out and completely exhausted with a constant appetite for more. Sometimes it is like an endless vicious circle that engulfs my life. If this is what you have gone through or are going through, allow me to share what I found and how I managed to successfully break free from a life-long addiction to desire.

I understood that most often desires or cherished dreams fall apart because they are totally against God’s will for my life. The answer to the crucial question, “Why are desires unfulfilled?” lies in the Bible. You want something but don’t get it….You do not have because you do not ask God – James 4:2 (NIV). Many times it is so true that we do not get what we want because we do not ask the right person – God! But then does God give whatever, whenever we ask? Certainly not! When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures –James 4:3 (NIV). So when you don’t get what you ask for you can be quiet sure that God is not pleased with your intensions. There is still one more reason when what you truly crave for never happens. The sluggard craves and gets nothing….Prov 13:4 (NIV). Asking God does not ever absolve us from the responsibility of working diligently towards what we wish for.

Just like the bubble that bursts and leaves nothing but water droplets when it comes in contact, so also desires lose their charm, once reached. If my life-long aspiration is a dream home and I end up building one, I realize that the thrill of it wanes down quickly leaving me with regrets that I invested on a villa and not an apartment. I was dissatisfied even in the desires that happen and then I found the reason for this as well. My quest again led me to the Bible and I did find the answer that totally released me from the desire to desire and gave me a sense of complete satisfaction and contentment. It all began by looking at God’s desires, not mine.

Obedience

God longs for obedience from His children. He says in Hosea 6:6,” For I desired mercy (or obedience) and not sacrifice….” (KJV) Some of the people who really pleased God and found His favour were those who were obedient to His words. The Psalmist for instance quotes in Psalm 19:7-10 that he desires the law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear and judgements of God more than gold or honey. Sure enough, the Psalmist turned out to be a man after God’s own heart. To obey is also a sign of respect and love and as our Heavenly Father, God expects and desires this of us. I found that the more I desire to obey God, the more I find peace and quiet along with the assurance of doing what is right. In Mark 4:19, Jesus explains the Parable of the seed and the sower to His Disciples and states that one of the reasons why the word of God can be snatched away is the desire for things. Beware that your desires do not choke out God’s word!

Knowing God

God, to whom everything belongs, desires that His children know who He is. Again in the later part of Hosea 6:6, God reflects “…the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”(KJV). How can we know God? It is only by having a constant and invigorating relationship with Him. Again the writer of Psalms is one who has excelled in knowing God. In Ps 27:4 he passionately expresses a desire to live in God’s house just so that he can see God in all His splendour. In Ps 37:4, he invites everyone to delight in God and this is definitely because of the intimacy he enjoyed in knowing His God. Even the prophet Isaiah says in Is 26:8,9, that his desire is for God, His Name and His Renown. The Psalmist and Isaiah no doubt found the best part of their life in knowing God. As a result even in the face of adverse situations, they could live a life of assurance and contentment. There is also a warning in the Bible, Ecc 12:5 says, “Remember your Creator….before the days of trouble comes…and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home…”. There is no endless stretch of time before you choose to know God. Make it a desire to know your Maker.

Truth

God desires truth. “…you desire truth in the inner parts…”(NIV). The inner recesses of our being are known only to God and us. Are we true in what we say and think and do? It is easy to wear a mask and facade before people. But in the inner parts, when it is just you and God, can you cover up your actions? The Bible teaches us to have purity in what we speak and instructs us to flee from evil and do good. Working for peace is God’s way and the reward for this is a long and satisfying life (Ps 34: 12-14). In short, God desires our value system to be in line with His and for those who strive for this, His blessing is assured. Eph 2:2,3 clearly states our life before Christ and one of the distinct qualities of those who follow the pattern of the world is “…fulfilling the desires of the flesh…”. This is true for those without Christ. But for those who are chosen to know God in the way of truth, the desires of the flesh lose their charm. If you find yourself still pursuing the way of the flesh or the worldly desires, you need to seriously ponder about your status with God.

My study on desires has opened my eye to a way of contentment and I have given up on the soap bubbles that I used to chase.  I find great fulfilment, happiness and contentment in obeying God, knowing Him and living by His truth. There is no other formula for a completely satisfying life and as a bonus the Bible says, “The desire of the righteous ends only in good” – Prov 11:23 (NIV).