Today’s article in The Hindu Magazine was really a very touching one, which brought a tear or two to my eyes. This person, who has just crossed his 50th bday, reminisces on those incidents which made an impact on his life and the way he lives it. Very well written article !!!
So, here I am, taking a cue from his article, may be like a tag from him, trying to list out those 5 incidents which really had an impact on me and the way I look at life. I am listing them as lessons, as there had been something to learn every time.
My maternal grandfather was a man of principles and he was very strict with everybody at home. He’ll assign chores for everybody and made sure that all those chores are done properly. If, today, my house is spic and span, the credit goes to my grandfather for instilling such values in me. I had the advantage of spending so much time in my grandfather’s house during my holidays.
My grandfather was a very pious man, too. Everyday puja will be a great ritual and everybody in the house has to take part. But as a girl entering into teenage, I had so many questions about whatever he did. Even though he doesn’t encourage questioning from his own children, he gave me the required freedom to talk my mind out. I had the privilege of being the first granddaughter of the house, so concessions were many.
One of the questions that I had asked him, still echoes inside me, along with his answer.
Me : Thatha, you always ask me to tell slokas to God and do namaskaram (prostrate) to God. But my mind is not agreeing to do this ritual. How can I do it when my mind is not involved ???? What is the point in doing, just for your sake and not for the actual purpose ?????
Thatha : This is just a beginning for you. This process is meant to humble you !!! If not today, in later years, you’ll understand the logic behind humbleness.
This lesson on humbleness learnt during my teenage, is one of the valuable lessons which I’ve learnt. The feeling of being humble before God, even when you are on top of the world, keeps life in balance.
My paternal grandmother, about whom I’ve talked so much in my previous posts, is very close to my heart. She was there for me, always and this was very important to me, as my mother was working. My grandmother is also a great businesswoman. At those times, when having a grinder (for making the batter for idly and dosa, without which we thought that we would die) was a prestige issue, my gmom went ahead and bought one. And she offered to make the batter for other neighbours for a very nominal fee. Being a great cook, she would religiously prepare pappads, vathals and sell them also.
While I was thinking that these business ventures by my gmom are not right – my mind was telling me that we were in need of that money and thats why gmomwas working so hard to make some more money. I was not feeling so good about the whole thing and went to talk with her. Her answer still rings inside me : My darling, whether we (the women folk) do these things for money or not, the main purpose is not that. It is to keep us busy, as an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. And just see the number of friends I’ve made through this business. BTW, Whats wrong in doing this business ?? No kind of work should be looked down. Work is God !! So, don’t even give a moment’s rest to your mind – keep it working all the time, in a positive way. WOW ! I was stumped by her logic. Its not the money, folks, but don’t let your mind idle.
My parents have a LET GO attitude towards us (the three children). To an outsider, it might look like that they don’t care for us. But in the true sense and spirit of life, it is the best independence that parents can give to their children. They loved us, cared for us, made sure that we always had everything we had asked for, and at the same time, gave us the independence to choose our own career. While they took so much of effort and care in choosing the right partner for me, they were also gracious enough to accept my sister’s and brother’s own choice of life partners. They let me learn from my mistakes, always waiting to give a helping hand the moment I turned towards them.
When I left my job, one fine day and came back home early, my father just asked me calmly, what’s your plan now. He didnt criticise my decision in any way and lifted my confidence in him hundred folds. He also gave me the independence to plan my finances. While my maternal gfather was the guiding light in the field of investments, my dad gave me the space to take my own decisions financially, too.
This LET GO attitude is very difficult to practise, as a parent, even though I am trying hard to practise it now with my daughters. I am amazed at how my parents were able to do it, without any qualms about what others will talk about them. There is so much to learn about this LET GO attitude, as I approach every new day, with my daughters.
In a typical Brahmin family, it is taboo to mingle with people of other lower castes. But my grandparents and parents made a difference, by not enforcing this rule on us.
I remember, sitting with my maid and washing the vessels along with her, all the while playing and talking with her. While I enjoyed every moment spent with her, it made a much higher impact on my maid. She was very highly respectful of my gparents and will do anything for us – because she loved being treated without any difference.
My paternal gdad was a great advocate of this culture. The car mechanic at the end of our street, the rickshaw man, the milkman who used to give fresh cow’s milk and even the barber – they were all my gdad’s friends. They all used to call him “sami” (equivalent of God) and all my gdad did was talk to them with love.
There were so many friends of mine, who were not Brahmins, but were welcomed in my house without any great fuss. The tolerance towards other religions is one of the greatest gift I’ve received from this family of mine.
This positive attitude towards people of other cultures has instilled the humane spirit in me, the greatest lesson learned by me.
My gdad loved my gmom so much, that he used to be calling her all the time. He wanted to make sure that she was near to him. Even though, we grandchildren, used to make fun of both of them, they used to take it in stride. I, for once, talked to gmom about this. It went like this –
Me : Patti, Isn’t thatha troubling you so much ??? He is keeping on calling you all the time, even while you’re sleeping. He is taking advantage of you, because you answer him so politely.
Patti : My dear, he doesn’t trouble me at all. Only if doesn’t call me continuously, there is something wrong. (Look at her way of seeing things !!! In old age, by calling out to your loved ones, you reassure them that they are there for you. How wise of them and ignorant of me !!!)
Me : You see, patti, when I get married, I’ll make sure that my husband doesn’t sit like thatha in one place and keep calling me. I’ll tell him that if you want onion sambar, cut the onions. If you want aloo fry, peel and cut the aloos. I’ll make sure that he shares every little work at home.
Patti : (Smiling) First, lets get you married and then lets see what happens to those resolutions of yours.
How true patti and thatha were !!! The great companionship they shared is a great lesson for me to learn a few tidbits in life.
Whether it is God sent or not, my hubby resembles my gdad in so many ways. For instance, if he is there at home, he keeps on calling me every second and if I don’t sit next to him, he is very annoyed. This also shows the companionship that he longs for. And I feel blessed. Now, I don’t bother whether he cuts the onion for the sambar or whether he peels and cuts the aloo. I do it because I love doing for my loved ones. My resolutions have learnt a better lesson.
DISCLAIMER : The idea is not to hurt anybody, but tell about those incidents and facts which changed my thinking and made me value life differently.