More than One Label

As Gillette Venus and BlogAdda takes the one-dimensional labels out of women, and brings to light, those multitude of things that make them who they are, I would like to contribute with something about my cousin sister about whom I have always had pride, and who has always deserved more applause and love than anyone else. I have known her since my birth, and I am proud about the choices that she has made in her life.

She has been the good daughter in her family, helping her mother in all ways possible along with studying at the college. Her being a good sister was evident with her elder brother as well as with us cousin-brothers and sisters as she became a great role model to all of us, and her presence as the guiding light was there even when I was going through dark times. Still, there was no random advice, but help.

A very old photo of my cousin-sister and sister :D

A very old photo of my cousin-sister and sister 😀 Don’t tell my sis that I didn’t write on her 😛

She has been firm in her decisions, and powerful in her ideas, and the quality of compassion was something that she seemed to have had for a very long along with her time spent in prayers. Being a compassionate human being was never something of lower preference for her. She knew that her prayers had answers, and never hesitated or doubted, unlike a number of her cousins which included us.

So, when we went to Kolkata in 2011, meeting her again was a major reason for that journey, while not denying the everlasting love for the City of Joy. She had joined the congregation of Missionaries of Charity hoping to do something for the poor and the downtrodden. We went to a number of children’s homes, old-age homes and places like Home for the Dying and Mother House. Visiting Kolkata had a lot to do with visiting her, who had spare time now after years of joining the service.

A photo taken in 2011 - tomb of Mother Teresa at Mother House, Kolkata

A photo taken during the journey in 2011 – tomb of Mother Teresa at Mother House, Kolkata

When I was a child, I used to wonder why she had joined that Roman Catholic group of religious sisters which needed more sacrifice and a lot more of the vow for poverty than any other group of nuns. Even her relatives had wondered if she could have joined a local congregation of nuns and did well in that community. But now, I know that it was because she was ready for it and this was another role that she wanted to do not for herself or to the taste of the people who knew her, but for the society.

Compassion had been coming naturally to her, and helping people was something that she longed for. Almost each and every place which had children needing help, she was there, and anger was something that never found her. In my whole life, I have never found her angry. Not ready to make a choice, she chose to be educated, and also decided go the way she wanted to, and that was related to social service, no matter what the relatives had said. Salute to her for that decision.

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus

I thank BlogAdda and Gillette for the opportunity to write on this topic. I also take this opportunity to tag Moon, Najm, Anita  and Sucheta to share their awesome views on the topic. Click on this link to know more about it: http://blog.blogadda.com/2015/01/08/useyourand-break-free-with-gillette-venus-indian-women-bloggers. And please don’t forget to acknowledge me in your posts. Thank you. *All photos used in this blog post are mine only.

TeNy

The Choices of Life

Gillette Venus and BlogAdda want you to write about someone, a woman who made a journey from ‘OR’ to ‘AND’, the one who immediately comes to my mind is my mother. I would think that the same applies to many other people too, and I had always wanted to write something about her, and it is good to be given such an opportunity rather than keep thinking about it.

There are a few things that I have heard about her from her brothers and cousins. Among them, the most prominent one is about her double promotion in the school. It is something that I have not heard much about, but I know that only the best gets that. Another thing that I have known is that my grandparents wanted her to be a doctor as my grandfather himself was one. But yes, my mother always had better ideas.

That old wedding photo which serves as the "mandatory photo of the person" :D

That old wedding photo – half of it serves as the “mandatory photo of the person” 😀

Her first preference was always to get a job at a firm owned by the government, and for which she attended MA Sociology at Saint Teresa’s College, Cochin. Obviously, getting her married off was the need for her parents, especially as her sister was married off very early. But she made sure that she got a job right after her course making sure that it was not just an OR for her, but an AND – she was going to work and then get married.

It was not really the pattern to follow at that time among her relatives as there were not many working women among her close relatives, and neither would there be among my father’s family whom she was to marry after a few years. But she had chosen to be ahead of the age, and get that job at the Union Bank of India. That was her journey from OR to AND, not without difficulty, but with confidence.

On the day she retired, the rain never stopped for more than a few minutes :D

On the day she retired, even the rain never stopped for more than a few minutes 😀

She could follow her heart at that time period, and remains an inspiration for me when I struggle to follow mine. I am surprised at so many so called “achieving aunties” who think only about money twenty four hours a day, and I am glad to have a mother who acknowledges my right to study more, and also my privilege to stay single until I get settled in my way. There are always those relatives who are not ready to agree and pass on the judgments, and there is always one person who knows better; my mother. Now she has just retired after thirty seven years of service at the bank, after balancing her work and family life so well.

And then when it is the time to honour and celebrate the women in my life, there is just one who stands above the rest. Yes, there are not many other women who would let me share their stories and give me permission to put their photos on a blog too 😀 I had my difficulties in getting this photo too, but this was the better option as she didn’t want any of her newer photos to be used. Yes, this is also one of my favourite photos of my parents 😛

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus

I thank BlogAdda and Gillette for the opportunity to write on this topic. I acknowledge the tag of Ranjini for this blog post from http://rangelz.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/and-is-given-for-a-reason-use-it/. I also take this opportunity to tag Vartika, Tara, Namrata and Sagarika to share their awesome views on the topic. Click on this link to know more about it: http://blog.blogadda.com/2015/01/08/useyourand-break-free-with-gillette-venus-indian-women-bloggers. And don’t forget to acknowledge me in your posts. Thank you. *The photos used in this blog post are mine.

TeNy

Hoping for a Better Situation

There is no problem as big as the lack of toilets in India, and that too in the twenty first century. Even as such problems have been a lesser thing of horror in Kerala as I have felt during my travel throughout the state, it has been much more during my journeys through the less urban areas of the other states. There is no difficulty in knowing about the same either, as we can realize that just from the smell itself.

Considering the fact that the situation hasn’t got much better is really a cause of concern. We have gone through so many years after independence, and not much has changed as we can see. The progress that we have achieved is tremendous, but going to Mars and still not having toilets? What does that mean? There are serious health problems which can result due the same, and health is just one of the troubles – as we hope and believe that the new government will take good measure for the same, lets take the case of Babli.

The kitty warns you about the health hazards :D (taken on my GT-S7562)

The kitty warns you about the health hazards 😀 (taken on my GT-S7562)

It was early morning, and Babli got out of her room to the terrible smell of faeces. It was a cloudy morning and rain kept on pouring down like it has no other job to do. Babli’s area had not more than five toilets in total for the large number of people who lived around. She knew that India is one of the fastest developing nations in the world, and admired how much progress it had in the last few years – she had learnt about the same. But she wondered why there was no toilet for her.

It was worse when she had to go to school. She had to travel fifty five kilometres to reach the school in heavy traffic. It was near impossible to find a toilet on the way, and the boys always did it on the roadside, and she knew that it would have a terrible impact on her dignity if she would even think about the same. The time taken to travel that much distance was about three hours, and it was sometimes impossible to reach the school on time after waiting in the long queue for the toilet.

Babli knew that what she wanted was not a worship place; temples, churches and the rest of the places for God were not her concern. But the closest church had toilets and the temple also had a toilet for ladies in the premises, and due to the same, she had become closer to God. She never really prayed, but did hope for the abode of any God to appear so that she could relieve herself. She had decided that when she grow up, she would go to a restaurant and have some food there just to use the toilet there.

She knew that India was progressing, but isn’t a toilet part of progress? She wondered. May be she could write about it, but there was no point. She remembered the man who made a speech about it in the school. He had said that a clean toilet is the right of every Indian, and it is very essential for good health. Why was she deprived of her right? Why was he even without her privacy? She continued to ponder over the same. When she asked that man, he had said that there was nothing he could do.

How can we make the beautiful nature a toilet? (taken on my DSC-W310)

How can we make the beautiful nature a toilet? (taken on my DSC-W310)

This has been a problem for not just one Babli, but a lot of her friends who lived near her home and also those who came to the same school from different areas. Yes, each and every Babli in India needs a toilet, and it is a basic requirement that needs to be fulfilled before hoping for a lot of other things which arrive in the name of development. But what is the first step to development? It is time we start thinking about the same. Not malls, not multi-national companies, not high profile industries, but toilets for everyone. This is where Domex is doing a wonderful job with their initiative to bring toilets to as many villages as possible.

This is for the Happy Hours campaign at Indiblogger in association with Domex, a writing for “Toilet for Babli” which is part of “You Click Domex Contributes” initiative at http://www.domex.in/. Do click on the link for more on the same. You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on http://www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

TeNy