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Monday, April 27, 2020

Why will Janaki not eat Chicken? #100LessonsOfLife -7

You need not agree on everything to be friends!
#100LessonsOfLife
Why Janaki Doesn’t Eat Chicken?
You need not agree on everything to be friends! This is what Farheena believes in. Since the memory of Janaki and Farheena cropped on my facebook wall, I was thinking of posting this. It was not easy explaining to Farheena about vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Even to this day, Farheena has no proper idea of where do the non-veg food comes from.
Farheena is a part of my own social gatherings. She gets along very well with most of my friends. I tag her along with me whenever I meet my friends for many reasons,
·         She never complains that she is bored when we are chatting away, but silently observes all of us to give her opinion later
·         She enjoys the little (or more) attention she gets from my friends
·         Being a special needs girl, she lacks a friend circle or social life of her own. So, this is the closest she can get to it
·         She is dignified, well behaved, not demanding and silent when she is in a social gathering. That is her alter personality which is completely opposite of what she is at home
·         She learns many new things when she is out with me, most of them positive. Ahem!
In 2014, I met with fellow bloggers and wonderful women –Monika, Janaki, Rachna, Indrani, Asha and Afshan. As usual Farheena was tagged along. She came with beautiful paintings to give away to whoever said she is pretty.
This is Farheena's gift for Janaki, her Facebook friend.
She sat there silently watching us as we ate our food and chatted away. There was this freak of a dish called Salmon Khan and while discussing the dish, we ended up with discussion about vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Janaki explained that she was vegetarian by birth and does not even eat eggs. I did not expect Farheena to get interested in this conversation, but she was. After all we were discussing about chicken which is more interesting topic for her than the Modi-Rahul-Kejriwal talk. It is surprising that the same discussion can happen in 2020..
Farheena was obsessed with chicken and non-veg back then, but now it has toned down a lot. There are times when she refuses to eat non-veg. Effects of Rayyan and his choices.
As soon as she came home, a message was sent to Janaki, inviting her to eat chicken or something like that through her Facebook. Janaki is one of those kind souls who try to keep in touch with Farheena on Facebook and put up with her bombardment of Hi’s. The lady said, “I don’t eat chicken, ask your Maa ‘why’?”  Farheena came to me with the iPad and showed me her message. Now, I was in a very sticky situation. I had tough time explaining to her why Deewali is celebrated, why people worship cow, why people sacrifice goats/sheep on bakrid which she saw on youtube and was horrified, why some women wear burkha whereas others do not etc.  Those are the days when I realize that we humans have become so complicated that we cannot understand our ways with basic knowledge required for survival. We need to understand the complicated things with a far highly complicated mind which unfortunately (or fortunately) Farheena doesn’t possess.
I tried to escape by telling Farheena that I had some work to catch up and I could not answer her questions right now. So, she waited patiently until I hit the bed and brought the topic up once again. Sigh! There is no escape from her questions. She waits until I have run out escape routes.
This is how our conversation went.
Why Janaki doesn’t eat chicken?
She doesn’t eat chicken because she is a vegetarian
What does she eat?
She eats vegetables
She eats vegetables in the morning, afternoon and night?
Yes
And also tomorrow? (now this means everyday in her language)
Yes
May, June and all? (this means all twelve months in a year because she cannot yet pronounce the other months)
Yes
Why?
Because she is a vegetarian
Why vegetarian cannot eat chicken
They cannot eat chicken, mutton, fish or egg as well
Why?
Many people do not like chicken, like you don’t like vegetables.
No way
Yes beti, many people do not like fish and chicken
But you said they cannot eat chicken.
OK. Look here my child. People worship different Gods. People who worship Allah, or Jesus can eat non-vegetarian food whereas people who worship Rama and Buddha cannot (this was backed up by showing different pictures of Gods to her)
Why? Why Rama and Buddha are bad?
No no no… they are not bad. They don’t want people to eat chicken. That’s all.
That means they are bad (that was final verdict). They are also responsible for people bursting crackers and giving me headache?
Hmmmm..
And they are also responsible for people who worship cows on street and scare me?
(Please don’t take offense. She hates the animal sacrifices and crucifying of Jesus as well and has same opinion of many things related to religion which will come out in different posts. Now I am worried that I am actually writing this up so that there will be no misunderstanding. Sigh!)
Hmmmm gulp!
Janaki is one of those people?
I answered after a long hesitating pause … Yes
I know now Janaki is not very smart, but she is my friend, she is nice and I like her.
This was kind of shocking because I thought that she would say she cannot be friends with Janaki anymore. But she just accepted that Janaki is different and she likes her even with that difference. But somehow, there was no convincing that Janaki is smart.
So there, if you are not a complicated person you can openly love another human being who you find weird, different from you and do not agree with. I wish I could get where she is! No chance though.

Good memories of the times when bloggers met quite often in Bangalore. 
This is Farheena's gift for Janaki, her facebook friend. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

When You Can't Point Your Finger - #100LessonsOfLife - 5



Farheena will be your choice of a candidate if there is a job requirement that needs to find loopholes in rules. Mind you, she never breaks a rule, she will only go around it or find a loophole that she can adjust to her need. She does that all the time, and here is an example with picture.
You know how the environment around homes change during exams? People avoid TV, children are nagged always to study and there is overall a big change everywhere once February begins to move forward. It ends with frenzied last minute studying and writing of exams in March/April.
Farheena was lucky to escape the tensions of exam but she made a choice that she wanted to suffer the exam fever with children around her. Starting from February, she would get busy studying for exams and would end that with a picnic with all the children who have finished with the torment of their 10 month of preparations and finally are allowed to enjoy for a few days.
Once in March, my dad was sick and admitted to hospital. Farheena came there with all her books and study materials so that her exam preparation would not be disturbed due to her caring for her grandpa. Everyone would envy me for having such a studious child who was so serious about her exams. Many of them never knew the imitation game at all. So, she pretended to be a busy bee, lending her hand to make my dad sit, sleep or eat and immediately sitting with the books to study. 


She looked like someone who carried a big burden of life on her tiny shoulders. It was done so seriously, that sometimes even I would start worrying about that exams which did not exist.
After a tiring day in hospital, Farheena was quite tensed up with her imitation of children studying for exams with me beside her to guide her with doubts because she had lost a lot of time and exam was very near. Her dad had something to discuss with me, so he approached us with his query. Farheena was quite upset with this new disturbance at this crucial time and warned him by pointing a finger at him. “You don’t disturb us now. We have lot of work to do”. Being the egoistic man, he retorted, “Don’t point your finger at your father! How dare you do that?” Immediately, Farheena retracted her finger and pointed her thumb and with the same ferocity repeated, “You don’t disturb us now. We have lot of work to do”. We both had tough time not laughing out loud which could upset her considerably. Since he had his phone in hand, he could immediately click a pic without her knowledge. I shooed him off and continued with Farheena’s studies.
I sometimes envy Farheena because she easily lives in the world she creates for herself. The reality doesn’t touch her most of the time and she is quite happy. This is a kind of mental state that eludes us. Many children have their fate in the hands of their evaluators, but Farheena had it in her own mind. Her results were what she wanted it to be. How lucky!
Finally, there were some exams for evaluation arranged for her in Dina Special School and she did good job of it. Like always, she was very happy with the results. But, more than this real test, she always enjoyed the act of being a very serious student and getting the exam fever. That world is always a beautiful place where entry is so tough for people like us who can rationalize and worry.



Saturday, April 11, 2020

To Be Or Not To Be – The Dilemma #100LessonsOfLife 4

Happy to be carried around..the smile
says it all
There are no special children, but only special parents. Children are born as innocent babies who do not have to make choices, at least in the earlier years of their life. It is the parents who will have to change, make choices and adjust their life to the special needs of their child. Believe me, it is not as easy as it looks like, especially when you have become the decision maker of the situation where your child’s future is at stake.
It was hard on me as a mother to realize that my baby girl was not going to be able to walk normally. Most of the doctors had given up hope and told me that it is better to put her on wheel chair, especially after I went through cancer and had to undergo radical mastectomy on my left breast when Farheena was an 11 month old baby. It was a tough choice for me. I was finding it difficult to carry her (she was a heavy baby) after my surgery as it was painful on my hand and also on the part of chest where the breast had been removed and the surgical wound had not completely healed; but at the same time I realized that if I put her on wheel chair now, then she would never walk again. The comfort would make us both give up on the effort of making her walk, which was not easy. I did not want to give up without giving it my best.
After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that I am not going to put Farheena on wheelchair. The question everyone asked me was, ‘Who is going to carry her? It is OK when she is a baby, what when she grows up?’  I knew that I had no control over the future, so I decided to do what I had to today. I would carry her and make her walk alternatively as long as it was possible for me. When my strength would fail, I would decide what to do with her. Until then, wheelchair could wait.
Just regular .. 
15 days after my mastectomy, I carried Farheena all the way to BCH&RC (Bangalore Children’s Hospital and Research Center – which unfortunately is no more) for her physiotherapy. We were in a remote place and did not have autos around. Another challenge was the managing finances and affording auto was a luxury that I had to give up for some time.  She was not yet a year old back then, yet I had to stop at five places and take rest before continuing to the hospital. I knew I needed time to do this, so I went ahead and bought a pram for her. For time being, I realized that carrying her was not possible for me. We starting going out for walks, hospitals and shopping by tagging Farheena along with us on her pram.

The Pram era

Soon I recovered from my surgery and Farheena outgrew the pram we had bought for her. As she did not have a wheelchair, she had started walking with support by the age of 3 years. I started to carry her and make her walk a little everywhere after that. It was quite tough, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Someday my girl would be able to walk with a little support. The hope and dream gave me the strength to carry my girl until she was 8 years old or more. Not my husband, brother, father or sister could carry her even for short distance, but I could manage her for nearly a mile. I am not sure about that guy they talk about, but practice sure makes a parent perfect.
Standing and walking with support
Holding her in my arms became quite effortless for me, but later doctor warned me that it may slowly affect my back which could possibly render me immobile. The girl was growing up fast and was now above my shoulder. One fine day, I decided not to carry her anymore. I explained to Farheena that now she was a big girl and I could not carry her. We will have to walk and take rest and walk again. Farheena has always been a sensible girl, so she agreed. Not once did she ask me to carry her after the decision was made.
Though Farheena has a gait and she needs help to walk on rough roads, she has been able to manage independently in her vocational centre and home now. With a little help she can walk nearly 1 km which is something no one expected from her back then. I take great pride when she walks inside my school, her vocational centre, in malls, parks and climbs stairs with her bag without asking for help from me.  When we go out, Rayyan is a great help in managing her, helping her cross roads, walk the rough footpaths and help her climb the steps. I have slowly backed off from supporting her, because I know someday she has to manage her life without me and I feel she is going to be all right. Fortunately, lot of strangers rush in to lend a helping hand when I am struggling to manage her all alone which gives me confidence that she will be safe and taken care of when I am not around.
I carried her for two more years
I heard lot of myths from people that I am going to end up with hanging uterus, crippled back and many other maladies because of carrying her, as women are not supposed to carry weight. Nothing has happened so far, other than a bit of lower back pain which could be due to my own weight gain. X-ray show that my spine has taken a mild form of letter ‘S’ but it is not bothering me much.
I made my decision and stood by it, though at times things were so difficult that I was on brink of giving up. One of those times was when I was carrying Farheena to the hospital before my cancer era and stumbled upon a stone I couldn’t see and fell down. A lorry just brushed past us as we lay sprawled on the road. I got up and rushed to the hospital with a lot of guilt since Farheena was crying and she had some bruises on her hands and legs on the left side. Her orthopaedic specialist was available and we were going to consult him. He checked her out and assured me she was completely OK and the bruises were minor which would heal in 3-4 days without any medication. Next moment he exclaimed in shock looking at my feet. Only then I realized I had it on fire and it was aching like hell. “That is for sure a fracture. Get the X-ray immediately” said Dr. Gautam Kodikal. I was embarrassed, since I had carried limited cash for Farheena’s therapy and did not have anything extra. I think he understood my dilemma, went to the reception, paid for the X-ray, for the plaster and medicines and got everything without another word and did not give me a chance to open my mouth. He was right. There was chip in two metatarsal bones, though it was not completely fractured. I could manage to walk but couldn’t carry back Farheena. The doctor also asked the hospital vehicle to drop me back home. He never allowed me to pay him back when I visited him next. I know he did not shoot this episode nor does he remember he did this. I still visit him for our orthopaedic problems, and he never brought up that matter even once. Some people instil faith in you more than the holy things. I couldn’t walk much for two months. But then I healed and was back to where I left.  

Every time I felt like giving up, I remembered the words of Walt Disney who said ‘The difference in winning and losing is most often… not quitting.’ Today I feel we have won the battle…

Photobucket
With passing time, carrying Farheena around became effortless for me

How Farheena Fights Corona #100LessonsOfLife -3

Everything was fine in Farheena’s world until March 13th. She was going for work and lived her life as though nothing has changed. When her vocational centre announced holiday for a month, Farheena suddenly realized there is something wrong and questions started pouring in.
It is very difficult to explain to Farheena what we cannot see and it was tough to explain virus to her. I am not sure how much information should be given to her without causing extreme fear. With my experience in bringing her up and all the smartness God has given me, I explained it to her in a best possible way and stressed on the importance staying indoors for a month or so.
She resolved to come out of this a winner immediately and made plans. Her first response was to surrender to the situation until May/June or that is what she said. I have no clue why she added those two months when I was expecting the April heat to kill the virus. She said when something is wrong, it is better to follow rules and stay indoors. I don't know how much she understands, but her response to the situation, made life easy for me.
Next decision was not to complain about food which came with a condition that I shouldn’t blame her if she cannot empty the plate. I have been very strict about wasting food and all plates in our home are empty before they enter sink. After some pondering and evaluating the situation, I agreed.
Then started her hunt for corona. As we casually stood on the balcony, the furthest point of our venture since lockdown, Farheena was peeking ahead intently. I asked what is she looking at and she says, "I am trying to see corona. Is that it?" She points to a far off bird. Now I cannot laugh out loud without pissing her off, so with muffled sounds I say, “No baby. It is a bird. Corona is very small”. Immediately she brightens up. May be she thought that if it is small we can easily handle it. I leave her in the brightened state to keep looking out for corona.
She started working around home once again, something she has quit since her time change in vocational centre. She meticulously dices tomatoes the only vegetable seen around now, at times dusted things, mopped floor, switches on/off appliances, and lends her hand in almost everything. Unfortunately, we are short of veggies, fruits and other stuff with just basic food items to pull us through, so there is shortage of work for her.
If we are carrying something very light, she wants to help us by holding it along with us which is very funny. Two people pass plate to Rayyan at dining table, two people keep one light book on shelf etc. I know she is missing her colleagues and her work, so I play along whenever she wants to.
Jigsaw puzzles have been her new attraction, along with some games. I am surprised to see her skills in playing carom. She is quite good at it though I have to bear when a lot of criticism is thrown at my bad shots. Once when I pocketed a coin and casually responded that, “That was lucky shot, I pocketed it by mistake” and she calmly places it back on board. Huh? Nothing said. I cannot believe what I saw but I think she slowly moves the coins to better position to be pocketed when I am not looking at the board.
Her art keeps her engaged as well.
As days went by, she somehow became the boss and started controlling what is happening around our home.
Recently, my bored husband swept the house and did mopping early in the morning. He is the most restless one in the curfew and Farheena is watching his every move. When Farheena woke up, he proudly announced to her what he had achieved even before she woke up and her response, “I hope you cleaned the toilets as well”. He had tough time closing his gaping mouth.
Yesterday, when I couldn’t tie her hair high enough which she wanted due to summer heat coming up, she did it herself and responded, “You don’t know to do anything properly, you only know how to eat”. I never thought anyone will ever dare say something like that to me ever in my life.
As soon as the curfew was on, she ordered me to confiscate keys (of house and two wheeler) from her dad because she said we cannot trust him. She made a rule that he has to explain where he is going, I should evaluate whether it is necessary and safe and hand over the keys to him after proper instructions of washing hand, not touching face when out and using hand sanitizer. She says, I have to repeat it each and every time he goes out. No compromise. As for me, Rayyan and herself, the strict order is to stay indoor without compromise.
Since the rules are set before hand on many things that we need to handle at home during lockdown, it prevents everyday arguments and fights.
When we sit out on balcony, she points at every person or vehicle, “Maa look, they are breaking the rules”.
Among all chaos there is constant lookout for corona as well. Anything that is looking different attracts her attention, like a piece of mop laying on bathroom floor.
“Maa, Maa, maa…. Please come here soon”
“What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything, just look what is it is on the floor there”
Initially I was confused for the panic but then I realized she is thinking of corona.
“No, it is not corona. It is a piece of mop”. I had to literally pick it up and put it in dustbin to calm her down and immediately she ordered, “Wash your hands properly”.
There were few ants in cornflakes and as I was trying to pick them out, Farheena looks at me intently and asks, “What is it?” doubt written on face. “Not corona, ants!” Whew!
Days are becoming too monotonous for her but she is carrying her out duty of combing her hair, having bath, changing dress and brushing her teeth regularly every day, yes add to it regular washing of hands. Though sometimes she skips it, she is walking indoors.
Yesterday, she was very excited about everyone switching off lights and we showing phone lights or lighting up diyas or candles. I keep her updated with what is happening because I think it is her right to know current events, no matter how much understands.
She had head bath, got ready, put on some perfume and went to the balcony with a chair. She watched as everyone switched off lights .. one by one. I could see her excitement. Later, she started shining her mobile light, commenting that was the brightest thing around our apartment. She shone it on our Giggle Garden as well. Then everything collapsed with sudden burst of crackers nearby. All of sudden she got up in hurry, sending the chair spiralling behind her, trying to rush in when the house was completely in darkness, she banged her leg on the ledge of door, stumbled on chair and everything was chaotic until Rayyan took charge of her and put her on headphones. More crackers followed… sigh! Now I am accused of being a liar and having fun at her expense.
She called her Mama and aunt to know about their well-being. She asks me for the updates regularly and she is back to watching serials online.
She is surprisingly calm and has accepted the new situation with great patience. Thank you Farheena for being more sensible than many others around me.
Unfortunately, since she is not dressed formally I cannot take pictures of her to post. I had once posted the picture of her mopping and she immediately asked me take it down and not to make her embarrassed in front of the whole world. “Everyone watches Facebook posts” was her response. Yesterday, I was just about to take the video of her waving her phone when the crackers started bursting.
Meanwhile she keeps asking, “We will go out in July or a month after it (she cannot pronounce August), right?” and I assure her yes. I have to agree that her innocence and different way of looking at things brightens up my day.
PS : she saw the mopping picture and censored it. Of to delete it now..






Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Farheena Reading Newspaper - #100LessonsOfLife -2


Imitating Devamma


Often grandchildren are influenced by the lifestyle of their grandparents and try to imitate them. It was less with Rayyan, but Farheena loved imitating her grandparents in their ways and manners, some of them which she continues to this day.
My dad started his day by reading news. He would sit outside the house in the morning light and read the paper leisurely every day without fail. Soon enough Farheena joined him in reading news. She would be out there with him for nearly an hour or so everyday reading news as intently as he did. Occasionally, she would point at a picture and ask about it. My dad would explain it to her.
My mom called my dad “Bappa”, so she also called him Bappa. Maa was the first word she could pronounce and Bappa was the second. Though a man with very little patience, my dad was very patient and could spend hours with Farheena.
When we shifted near Bangalore Children’s Hospital and Research Centre in RRnagar there were few houses in our area. The only people close was a family of Dhobi who lived nearby. They had 3 children who went to a reasonably good school. We usually ironed our clothes at home, hence, the dhobi very rarely visited us. There were just handful of houses in RajaRajeshwarinagar back then and we were just two families living in one block.
We used to share a bit of chit chat and help them sometimes when they needed something. Shops were not near. One day, the dhobi came by to ask my dad to lend him some old newspaper to pack ironed clothes. The grandpa was enjoying his morning news with his grand-daughter leisurely and asked him wait while he called me out to hand over papers to him. When I came out, I saw him intently staring at Farheena. His looks were not normal and I felt very uncomfortable. Yet, I did not make a big issue and gave him papers so that he could begin the work for the day.
I saw some birds flying around and perching in groups behind our home, so I stood there watching them. Not much time had gone by before I heard a huge commotion coming from the dhobi’s home with his wife shouting and children crying.
My dad went over to see what was happening and I followed him. When we reached there we saw that the dhobi was angrily hitting his children and his wife was trying to stop him, while she also seemed to be angry with her children. Just a few minutes ago, everything was fine, but now he was so angry and scolding them in Tamil. When we asked he told us in broken Kannada,
“Sir, look at this donkeys. They are 8, 10, and 12 year old. They cannot even read their text books properly. Your grand-daughter who is just 5-6 years is reading English newspaper so well. I was watching how she went through the whole sheet and turned over to read next page. All my money is being wasted on these donkeys who only know how to play”.
I burst out laughing and explained to him that Farheena is a special child, she is just 4 and she cannot read. She only imitates her grandpa. Also that explained his look. He wouldn’t believe me initially and it took us some time to explain things to him.
Finally, things were sorted out and as I walked back I saw that his children were reading their books with all seriousness, terrified of their father. Something good came out of this anyway. LOL
As I walked back with my dad, Farheena was waiting for us wondering why we left all of sudden. Rayyan was keeping watch over her. The joke was not over because I saw Farheena was holding the paper upside down. Luckily I did not die laughing that day.
Farheena would sometimes imitate her grandma cooking, dress up like my neighbour, or write stories like I do.
I am sharing the pictures from her story book which you have to look closely to see how she writes. If not looked upon closely, you will never realize what story she is weaving on those pages. Sometimes, they are accompanied by illustrations as well.
With her style and confidence, Farheena can fool many with her imitation skills, not just that poor dhobi.
On the other hand, this funny habit of Farheena is what encouraged me to go ahead with inclusive education because I believe that special needs children can learn better when they are with regular children by imitating them. Only requirement would be not to have too many special needs children in a group, because then the regular children may start imitation and the effect would be reverse. So far, I have seen the successful effect of this in My Giggle Garden, thanks to Farheena.

Learning for exams when her brother has them. She was always more serious than him 

Imitating people of Byndoor in our native place.. including the coy smile

Exactly like my mom would sit... even that tilt of head

When you are Rome (Byndoor in this case) 

If only I could know what those quick notes were about

Fiction story with illustration

The conclusion of the novel

I really admire notes which are so neat and meticulous 

Story of a garden

Story of a bird


Imitating Rayyan



Thursday, April 2, 2020

Just a day in bringing up Farheena.. #LessonsOfLife - 1

It was a lazy Sunday evening when all children were out playing. I had the enormous task of keeping Farheena engaged in Byndoor, where our outdoor activities were limited. I had to come up with ideas to keep her engaged especially in the evening when everyone, including Rayyan was out playing in the field. Fortunately, I had my friends from Ladybirds who would give me different ideas and also connect with her through Video calls.
On this day, I gave her beads to work with. I was intently watching my daughter trying to pass the string through the colourful beads she had spread in front of her. She was trying to make a necklace for her doll Baby Jay. It was heart wrenching for me to see her struggle with her eye/hand co-ordination, where as we could do it effortlessly. I usually keep the smile up and never show her my concern. Not an easy task but I have become expert at it.
At this moment my mobile rang and I picked up the phone to hear my sister gushing about her son's achievement. He had won a competition organized by Horlicks. I could not concentrate well on what she was saying because one of the beads had fallen down and my daughter was searching for it.. .. it was right there and I wanted to point it out, but then that takes away all the fun. Rule number one with me, with all children is – Never interrupt them unless they ask you for help. Even then, first give guidance before helping. So I waited while listening to my sister on the phone… ahhhh…there she found it.. Yeah back to what my sister was saying.. he was one the cutest kids and everyone praised him there. I can agree because he was great looking child. I congratulated her and told her to tell her son I am so proud of him. She asked me “Hey aren’t you interested in what I am saying? You seem to be absent-minded?” Off course she could sense that I was not totally into the conversation though my nephew’s achievement meant a lot to me. I told her my daughter was making a chain of beads and I was amazed at her talent.  I am sure that must have shocked a mom whose son had just won a big competition but then she loves Farheena and went about asking more details about her activity.

How many of us realize that we all have our limits and anyone who can do his/her best is a real champion. It is not just the result but also the effort counts. My daughter was putting all her heart into making a necklace for her doll and according to me it was no less effort than a child winning a big competition.

I used to be a tennis buff and watch every match telecast, that was before I got dedicated to my bringing up my kids. I was sports lover in my pre-motherhood era. Many write off Ivan Lendl as a player who never won Wimbledon but for me he was the greatest Wimbledon champion back then because no player had ever put in as much effort to win that title as he had done. His style and game was dead against him winning the tournament but he did the best anyone could ever do. People will never agree with me and I accept their non-acceptance of my view.

I was not visible to my daughter; neither did she hear our conversation. Her focus and concentration level is quite high. She was totally engrossed in her work. I loved her dedication. Finally when she was reaching the end I got another call from my friend whose son had won a local cricket match. Looks like it was a day of achievements. It was that time of the year when competitions are held for children all around Bangalore. Many people know my love for children and they usually share their success with me. She was gushing as to how good sportsman he is, what bright future she could visualize for him blah blah blah .. Like my sister after sometime she realized I was not totally into the conversation and wondered why all of sudden I had changed. I told her I was watching another great sportsperson and excused myself from the call at the risk of being labelled an envious mom. I had to, not because I was not interested in what she was saying but my champion had finally finished her masterpiece and needed my help to tie the loose ends. She was worried that the beads may come out if she tried to move.

I am very sure those two proud moms did not understand what it meant for me to watch my daughter do something with total dedication… she may not be champion by the standard of the world but to me her every milestone means a lot. At the same time, I don’t undermine the achievements of those two lovely children. 

Baby Jay was finally garlanded and honoured and she clicked the moment to preserve it in her album …..
This was the day I realized the futility of my own competitive spirit. I always believed “Winning isn’t everything but second place sucks”. Every person has their own talents, skills and levels. Putting one person in competition with other is neither fair nor required. The only person I should compete should be with myself. Those who have been my co-students will vouch how hard I study even when I have white hairs on my head. I still try very hard to be best, but I don’t compare myself with others much. I stop myself from fretting over results, though it happens occasionally.


Slowly with practice and patience, Farheena became good at stringing beads. Yesterday, when I asked her to make a bracelet, she quickly did a good job of it and an hour long break I was looking at ended in 5 minutes. That is the competition she should win and she does.

I begin with this story because Farheena is the simple human being who shows me simplicity of life. The stories will simple in their nature and not some great achievements or miracles, though some could be of those standards if you look at them from right viewpoint.

Thinking about Farheena and writing about her is always pleasant. I know it is going to be tough emotionally at times but also a relief more often.




Farheena the Artist


Farheena the acrobat...




Monday, September 30, 2019

A Special Person


Recently, I have been missing from social media. The #100RaysOfSon kept me on my toes for 100 days. This was the first time I felt connected to Cinderella by looking at the clock and being worried about it striking midnight. Race against time at 53 was fun.
Somehow I feel, I have to write about Farheena for the way she has made me proud. I would like to request everyone not to become judgmental about this regarding either the place Farheena works or the person involved in the incident. She goes to a wonderful place and people there are very caring and loving.
During the tea-break there was an accident and the hot tea from a boy’s cup got spilled over her shoulder. I got a call from the centre asking me to check on her and also get her a spare dress. I was quite nervous and worried as I rushed home, picked up her dress and rushed to her centre. I was worried about hearing her wailing as I neared the centre but to my surprise there was some extra silence in the place that day, and for some reason that increased my anxiety to the level I could hear my heartbeats. Then I saw her. She was sitting there calm and composed, waiting for her dress to arrive. I checked out and found that she had red rash on her back and her shoulder and also where the tea had soaked her brassier.
There was lot of guilt among the people around her and they looked worried as well. I could see that she had the burning sensation, but after the initial tears, she managed herself well was what they told me.
After changing her, I asked her to come back home and rest, so did her the person who was taking care of her tell her, but she refused. She decided to stay back, complete her work and come back in her regular timing. I tried convincing her, but she was firm on her decision.
When in the evening, as I discussing with her why she did not come back when she was hurt, she answered, “Things happen. Just because of that we cannot quit what we are doing. It was hurting in my work place and it would hurt in home as well. Why should I come home and hurt instead of working and being hurt? Just sitting at home is not making any difference”. I was quite taken aback not just by her attitude, the way she managed herself but also at the importance she gives for work and completing the task she takes up.
I never realized when Farheena was born, that she was here to change me and make me a better person. I thought God had chosen me to take care of a special child who needs a good mom to take care of her, but somehow I doubt it now. I feel he had sent her to correct an arrogant woman and make her a better person, a mission she has succeeded at.
Some people doubt that I am happy with a special needs child, because it takes in a lot of effort to bring her up. What they don’t realize is, the challenges here are very simple and basic. All it needs is a love, understanding and a bit of caring. Sometimes, regular parenting can be more challenging and frustrating as well. I may not be able to explain it others, but I really feel blessed and happy to have Farheena in my life. There is something so special, simple and different about her, that it touches me and brings out the goodness in me always. Someday, I will definitely have a concrete answer for that eternal question, “Why Me?”


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 100


Happy Birthday Rayyan


August 20th will be a great day for me, because this was the day when Rayyan, the unending blessing of my life was born. I fought for my life very hard 24 years ago against cancer because of few reasons, but foremost among them was that I wanted to be there for my daughter and second, I also wanted to be there with my son. He was such a cute, lovable and peaceful child that I did not want to miss the chance of bringing him up. I was damn sure that he was going to make me a very happy mom, and you bet I was right. He was also the support that I could fight hard against the odds.
This is the final 100th Ray of my son. I have to appreciate Rayyan for his courage in allowing his mom to share all the good and weird stories and pictures of his in an open forum. Not once did he feel nervous, embarrassed or scared of the whole thing.
This has been my interpretation of Rayyan, his discussions and lifestyle, which were published without his permission prior to it going live. There has been some changes in what he says and what I wrote at times. For example, he never uses heavy words like soul in his discussion, but says “something inside me”. I assume that is the soul he is referring to. Even about many other things I have written, I had to keep it short because we at times discuss for hours over matters. If I went into details, each topic would have been of hundred posts, so the end result could have been a bit shorter version which may change it a bit.
I missed writing about many other beautiful part of Rayyan’s life. The special gifts he buys for me, the day Farheena took him shopping to Shopper’s Stop for his birthday and bought him a lot of superhero T-shirts, some exclusive things I made for Rayyan like a T-shirt with his name and many more such things. I am sure there are 100 more stories waiting to come out some other day.
I had made my mistakes with Rayyan in his earlier childhood. When he started school, I expected him to emulate me and score high marks and stand first in class. After all he was my son. But later I realized he is my son and not me. The awareness made a huge difference to me and also to Rayyan. There was no need to change this wonderful, lovable, content child into my dream child, who would be ambitious. Rayyan is lucky that he is always content and happy. He is happy with his clothes, toys, books, life, marks, achievements and the whole world. He is happy with his colour, height, weight looks and other aspects of himself as well. Initially being stupid, I had tried to steal that all from him. But, I made a tough decision and decided that I am not going to change my son for the sake of achievements we expect from him. I am going to allow him to be what he is; as finally what counts in our life is not whether we are successful, but whether we are content and happy with our lives or not. The freedom of choice applied to every part of his life, including his religious choices.
As the result of this Rayyan does not come home with medals, cups, certificates or championships as much as he could if he tried, but nevertheless I am very proud of him. As proud as any mom would ever be!
I have had my share of the achiever children’s moms advises. They often asked me what made me proud of Rayyan, because for them it was staying ahead of the pack that was matter of pride. But I knew the worth of the person I had with me. Whenever I took out Rayyan for shopping, he always calculated how much money a toy, snack or dress would cost before telling me whether he liked it or not. Isn't that better than scoring 100% in Maths? Even when he was a toddler, he never demanded anything from me. He was happy with the stories I told him, walks I took him and games we played together. His most treasured possession was the lullaby I made up and sang for him every night. That was one thing he did not want to share even with Farheena. Even when I started Giggle Garden, he told me that I could not use his lullaby for the Gigglers.
When I was going through cancer, he suffered silently so that he would not make things worse for me. He would sit beside me, working on some painting quietly, and when Farheena demanded attention he took care of her too.
People have been asking me endlessly to change him into someone else. I wonder why I would do that! He is happy with himself and so I am. He has not been a topper in class, he had to struggle a lot to clear his languages in SSLC exams, he is not very ambitious to get into competitive sports though he loves cycling and swimming a lot. All this is held against him, and people sometimes say he is non-achiever. Another complaint against him has been that he is not faithful follower of his religion, a behaviour that brings out the wrath of many people around me. People who are concerned for me, and are my well-wishers, worry about my children’s future as they see no great achievement coming their way.
I have been often accused of spoiling him with too much of leniency. I don’t find anything that indicates he has been spoilt. He does not spend money on phone calls, petrol or any other extravagances. When all his friends were zooming on bikes, he used his cycle to travel around everywhere in Bangalore so that he can save on petrol and rickshaw fare. Only when he got a fat bonus from his company, did he give in to my pressure and bought a bike. I used worry about his safety on roads, as cyclists do not get priority on city roads, but he assured me that if we follow rules and keep cool, cycle is the safest mode of travel.
Though he is accused of not following religion, I feel he does follow the religion perfectly, what he ignores is the useless rituals associated with it. He does not throw temper tantrums, as for the fact I have yet to see him get angry and violent. He is kind towards animals and trees. He is respectful towards fellow human beings, no matter what their religion, nationality or status is. Isn't that the base of all religions?
I have been worried sometimes, whether these comments may make my children feel that they have let me down, but NO. For some wonderful reason, both my children do not find anything wrong with them, and know it very well they do not have to change to make their mom happy and proud. The negative comments do not affect them because they are sure of my support and love. I feel that has been the greatest success for me as a mom. Farheena is damn sure I love her the most and so is Rayyan.
Children are gifts. We do not get to choose our gifts, but our loved ones choose them for us because they think we deserve it the best. Imagine a situation when your loved one gives you a ring with blue stone, when you really love a green stone….. Do we try to paint it green or change the stone? NO. When we are so specific about little material things given by our loved ones, is it right to change our children who are unique individuals with their own lives? I myself had tough time letting my son go his way, discard the engineering field and take up animation as profession. But I did it because I feel it was the right thing to do. Today I say for sure I was right. He is passionate about the field he has chosen, and his work is the testimonial to it. A barber who can give a perfect haircut is way better than the King who rules his kingdom inefficiently. Better allow everyone to excel in what they are good at and love to do. We should not change our children to be what we want them to be, instead we should allow them be the best in what they choose for themselves. There are no perfect children in this world, it is our parenting that will give us the power to love an imperfect child perfectly. As for me, Rayyan is the closest to the perfect child I would ask for.
Dear Rayyan, I want you to know that I could not have imagined anyone better to be my son. You are the best and Maa will always love you.



















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