Thursday, December 15, 2011

The giving tree

We live in a modern world. Our days and nights are filled with advanced technologies and the latest of gadgets. In this fast, techno world, we barely have time- for ourselves or for others. A guest is either taken out for a meal, or the food is ordered. At times, we do not even care to take that kind of efforts and put a handful of snacks, in front of them - at a meal time! Of course, we expect them to understand that we have a very busy schedule and that they should be thankful enough that we are sparing some time and a little bit of our pantry for them.

In this sky-rocketing priced world, we do not have enough money to help a needy charity/organization. Of course, we cannot even think of giving away goods like toys/books/stationary to some needy kids though we do not think twice before stocking them up for our children who, most probably, already have plenty of them! We can waste away thousands in lavish parties, but cannot spare even a twenty to feed one hungry stomach who cannot buy food. Needless, to say, we would rather throw the expired cans from our refrigerator but could not have given them away to a food bank. And, who has time to stop and think that, because we let that food rot away, we did not need it in the first place!

To sum up, we are letting our SPIRIT of GIVING die! And what a brutal way of killing it!!

Aamir and his wife recently had a baby, thanks to the marvels of the modern science. That they didn't go for an adoption ,albeit disappointing, is quite understandable as they would have wanted to continue their own genes and bloodline forward. Surrogacy, in itself, is quite a turbulent and immensely difficult decision in itself. And a couple, who has already gone through innumerable medical treatments and uncountable emotional turbulence, knows the next-best option that they want to choose. Hence, I respect their decision. Our erstwhile Bollywood has tackled the delicate concept of surrogacy, beautifully, in movies like 'filhaal and Life Express and many more. The lovable 'Phoebe' carries her half-brother's and his wife's multiples in Friend's season four. Another interesting factor is though new to the 21st century, the notion is not very new itself. In Mahabharat, Balram, son of Devaki and Vasudev, is born to Rohini who had miraculously taken him from Devaki's womb to her own womb. Since we are talking about Mahabharat, let's also talk about foster parenting and/or adoption, as Balram's younger brother, Krishna, though born to Devaki and Vasudev, was raised by the Yadavas(Nanda and Yashoda) and hence, came to be known as nandlal/yashodanandan.

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, when the Aamir-Kiran baby hadn't created waves in the mediaI was talking to my dad (over the phone, of course) and in general, updating him about our lives and those of some of my friends whom he know. And, in the process, told him about this very sweet couple, who have been trying for a child and unfortunately, even after years of marriage and numerous treatments/IVF's etc. haven't been blessed. On this, my dad narrated an incident back in 70's when a neighbour(not relative and not neighbours from ages) had given their second-born to a couple, who did not have any child of their own. Just like that. No hesitations, just a simple, pure, thoughtful act. Being in transferrable job, They had parted ways after a couple of years. Whether or not they always remained in touch, dad is not aware of that. But, he told that such gestures were very genuine and done without hesitation those days. Wasn't this the most precious gift to that couple? I believe, they would have gone on to raise the baby as their own, fussed over her milestones, worried over her sicknesses, educated her, married her off and then again made a huge noise over the grandchild(ren). (And Yes, you can trust me picturising a whole movie out of a small line! That's me!!) This led me to some thinking and lots of soul-searching within myself.

I asked myself, if I can muster enough courage to offer my offspring to a couple, who would bless me their entire lives? Will I ever be able to be that 'giving tree' who, with her entire heart, be that 'source of joy' to them? Would I be willing to offer my seed, my uterus, the fruit of my womb to somebody? Surprisingly, the answer came as a 'no'. With the second difficult pregnancy, where I had developed, vericose veins condition, looking after one very easy-to-handle toddler had become a strenuous task for me. And, the aftermath, of the PND, phew! not to go into details, let's just say, I had seen the darkness. I just fear to go through all that again. The first question that comes to my mind is, who will look after my two kids, if, in case, any complications arise. I don't think I will be able to do it even for my own family. I felt very very selfish with that thought and felt, in today's world, we miss that feeling of living as a community as a family and have become very very individualistic. It has to be an act of selflessness to the highest degree. And following it, also came the question, even if I did, would it be acceptable to the would-be parents? I pictured myself, saying, " We, Me and my husband, are done having kids for ourselves, but would would go ahead and try once again for you. Our next child is going to be yours. He will know your lap as the mom's lap, your hand as the dad's hand." Would they doubt my spirit? Would my bonding with the child ever be gone? will my heart still ache for the child? Nine months is a long time, after all! Promising somebody such a blessing is one thing, and actually carrying it, dutifully, through the end is another. I will have to forego all attachments. If I go ahead and give the child in their arms, later on, Will they find me as an interference, a nuisance? Or the child will enjoy the love and warmth of two sets of parents and all will be peaceful? I put myself in their shoes, and tried to find an answer. Most Shockingly, even to this question the answer came as a 'no'. It won't be accepted, by the receiver as well. Probably, I might be wrong in this answer as I have not been there. I cannot understand, fully, their thought process.

What do you think? Can you see yourself as that giving tree?Or Will you be able to take the fruit from such a giving tree?

In case, you are wondering
The picture above is of the tree in our frontyard(old home) and was taken in spring.
A tree bears all the fruits, nurtures it, and when ripe, gives it away. Hence, the title for this post.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Chitthi aii hai

Who doesn't like to receive letters in their mailbox once in a while? I do! It is such a welcome change from the usual junk mails and bills. Be it a postcard or an invitation or a holiday greeting - all convey a warm note from a friend/ well-wisher.

On monday, USPS declared the delays in the delivery of the first-class mail, reduction of work force and closing a few post offices. The news saddened me deeply. Not only was I used to rely on the USPS for some last minute mailings, (which,by the way, had an amazing delivery time. Sometimes, they would be recieved the next day itself!) but also to send ' rakhis' to India, which again had a speed record of 4 days at the max, unlike the internet placed orders. I always had the convenience of posting, At my ease, as there's an USPS office every 3-4 miles or so. Not that I am not a proponent of internet and would no way, go back to stay without it. But nothing can beat the warmth of opening those envelopes and feeling the creases of the hand-written paper with your fingers!

I wrote my first ever letter, when I was 4, to my brother who was staying with our amma(grandma) then. Though, the letter was dictated, in hindi, by my dad, I very well remember that watching him write one, I had brought one of those blue coloured, pre-stamped envelopes(does anybody recall them?) and insisted that even I want to write one. On being asked, what, I had no clue! Still I was adamant. All I knew that they have to start with 'priy'/dear as that's what all the amma's letters to my dad used to start with, while tauji's (papa's elder brother) were in English, mostly where amma's ended. Sometimes, there would be those yellow postcards, when they wrote separately, i guess.

The love affair with the letters grew when my dad got transferred, and having formed a strong bond with my friends in those tween/teen years, we promised to stay in touch with each other through letters. How we used to decorate them with stickers, drawings and different colour pens! NG,TR,SK,J, MS, RS - do you remember that time. I still remember, how excited
I used to be to recieve them! As the pressure of studies grew, they became few and far between and graduaally were reduced to none. I had saved almost all of them despite so many moves we did!

The highlight in our household, something, which each and every member cherished and looked forward to were the epic letters from my eldest brother. He was in hostel, then, pursuing the engineering course and made it a point to address each one of us in his letters. To mom and dad, they were a sign of his well being and good health. I, still remember, how anxious they used to get, if the letters were delayed by a week or if, in his letters, he would hint of a slightest temperature or a brief bout of diarrhea that he would ave just gone through! To us, his letters were inspirations, they acted as a guide to us, full of his experiences, his advices. We were the little ones at home; he was the revered one, out in the world. We saw the world with his eyes, in those well-crafted dextly written Missives.

To be continued..
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