Sunday, June 30, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 49

A Project To Remember

I have been coaching students and helping them with their school projects since I was 15 years of age. Being a bright student, I was even able to help my own classmates with their studies and homework since I was in 5th Std. I also enjoyed helping everyone with extra-curricular activities and school projects.
Naturally I used to teach my younger brother, sister and their friends at times. When Rayyan started school, I was helping him with his homework as well. As days progressed, I saw that Rayyan was a bit different from any other student I have met. He would not allow me to help him at all, but would request me to guide him to help himself. I had set myself into a pattern of teaching and this was challenge for me. He would insist on understanding any topic I was teaching him before moving on to the next. I couldn’t move on until he understood what we were learning.
When the school started giving him projects, he would insist on doing it on its own, even when he was a small child. This was something I used to explain to everyone, but most of the children who I coached had various tricks up their sleeves to get most of the work done by me. I was quite good at it as well. The only person who never took advantage of my skills for doing his projects is Rayyan. He has asked my opinions, accepted my guidance but never allowed me to do the actual work.
Once his school gave them projects to work on and the topic was about science. They had to make a choice of what they would love to work on. My immediate choice was of solar system. I told Rayyan that I have worked with different students creating solar system and I would love him to do it as well. In fact, I was looking forward to show my talent to Rayyan so that he would start involving me more in his projects. Rayyan had something else in his mind and he worked on it in a completely different way. It was tough for me to watch him, because it went against all of my previous models of solar system. As the work progressed, I realized something about Rayyan. He was not only more creative than me, but also had lot of patience. He was a perfectionist and could re-do things over and over again. He never compromised on quality. I also saw that he never took references; his creations were completely new and unique. Finally I had to accept that though I have been a part of lot of student’s project, I would never be a part of Rayyan’s project. I was happy about it, because that was my strong belief as well. Honestly, I was no different from him in my childhood. The solar system turned out beautiful, but it was not an easy task for him to carry it to school. No wonder it came back home all broken, but Rayyan was appreciated for his work.
Apart from it, he created a device to check whether a material is conductor or non-conductor of electricity for another project, and lot of unique things which I had never come across in my own creations.

One of the best projects I remember created by Rayyan was flags of some important countries of the world. I told him to get the prints and create the flags, but Rayyan wanted to do it on his own. It was for a competition in his school. I saw him draw, color and create flags on white sheets of paper with sketch pens. His dedication to the project was amazing. The end product looks so much like printed flags. It was set up on a platform neatly with the names of the countries beneath them.
I got a call from his school the day he completed the project and presented it in school. His teachers were amazed that he had actually created the flags so perfectly. They appreciated him quite a lot. They took the picture of him handing over the flags to his school for treasuring the memory of his hard work. He also won prize for his project. Rayyan says, that it was something he enjoyed a lot working on the project, though it appeared quite boring to me.
What I have seen different about Rayyan is, his honesty, hard work, goodwill or any contribution gets recognized by others. I have worked so hard with children to bring out amazing projects, which looked great, but never have they been appreciated in the way Rayyan was appreciated for his work. I sometimes feel he has been lucky to bring out the best in people. He has not been accused, blamed or judged wrongly by others, but very often helped and appreciated. I feel that has helped him a great deal to walk on the path he choose and he chose the right path for him.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 48

Paula Aunty – Unforgettable Memories

When my mom had recurrence of cancer, I was looking for moral support to hold myself up emotionally. From the tiny town of Byndoor, it was almost impossible for me to find any sort of support. This is when I connected with a breast cancer support group which mostly had members from USA. I was wondering whether this would help, since we had huge cultural gap. This is when I bonded with Paula.
Soon our bond grew bigger than cancer support. Farheena and Rayyan got involved in web chatting with Paula aunty as well. In fact, the connection with Hi/Bye aunty was a huge turning point for both my children. The name Hi/Bye aunty was given to Paula because Farheena couldn’t say Paula. Since Paula came on webcam with a ‘Hi’ and went off with a ‘Bye’ the name stayed.
Slowly Rayyan got involved as well. Paula was curious to know about our life. Rayyan would click pictures all around Byndoor to share with Paula aunty. Somehow, in a short time all of us were very close to each other. Finally it was decided that we meet and the only option was for to travel to USA because it was not possible for Paula to visit Byndoor.
When Rayyan was in USA, it was great fun for him to enjoy Paula’s competitive spirit. Once they were in the pool and Paula was bragging how many kicks she could do. She challenged me to compete with her. I had no clue what it was all about because I was just learning to swim a bit. Then she challenged Rayyan and he refused saying it was not necessary. Paula wouldn’t let go of him. Finally Rayyan got into the pool with Paula and with the count of 1, 2, 3, Go they started kicking their legs in the pool holding on to the ledge. I could see Paula tiring out, but she wouldn’t give up. She was determined to win the battle for whatever reason and she went on and on for some time. Finally she stopped and stayed in the pool watching Rayyan. He went splash .. splash.. splash … She later got out of the pool, dried herself and still Rayyan was going on and on. We all had a good laugh as Paula kept accusing Rayyan of not considering her age, bragging off and so on. I am not sure how long Rayyan went on before walking out without any stress. Paula finally agreed that the name ‘Paani Holla’ was right for him. Though she admired him, she pretended to be angry with him for some time.

What Rayyan loved about Paula aunty was that she was not like other people he had met. She had great sense of humour and would end up like one of his age when she was with him. Another day Rayyan was trying to stand on his head and immediately Paula wanted to prove that she could do it better than him. She asked me to record it as well to show to Rayyan. Rayyan who was out playing, came in at the right time when Paula aunty was trying to stand upside down, and in the video you can see him zipping past me to capture her antics. He did not even see I was recording it already. Paula wouldn’t give up until she succeeded.

Rayyan was fascinated with window shopping in Walmart as well. He was never tired of roaming in Walmart and would be crestfallen we had to come back home after shopping. One day Paula decided to teach him a lesson. She whispered to me, “Today you and Farheena find a comfortable spot to wait for us. I will take the scooter and ask Rayyan to shop for us. I will make him run around the whole Walmart so that he will never want to come here again. Today, he will get enough window shopping of Walmart to last him a life time”. I agreed. So Paula got on the scooter and started off with Rayyan. Farheena kept watching people and greeting some of them as well and enjoyed her waiting because she knew that Paula had one of her dramas ready and it was always fun.

After a long time Paula was back and she told me, “There is something terribly wrong with this guy. We need to get him tested whether he is human or not. He is just walking and walking and walking without either getting bored or tired whereas I can’t even feel my butt anymore and due to boredom I am spacing in and out of time”. Neither Paula nor Rayyan learned any lessons with each other because Paula kept challenging Rayyan as long as we stayed with her. Rayyan had a lot of fun as well, because Paula would make all of laugh with her antics. What Paula observed and loved about Rayyan was, that he never spoke about his achievements even though she had prodded him to challenge her. He just went along and left it there once it was over. No talking about it or telling, “I told you not to challenge me”. She would accuse me that if I was in his place, I would post about it everywhere and keep reminding her of losing after bragging and challenging. She was right, because I can see me doing it even today if it happened. Even though her bond was strong with me and Farheena before we visited USA, she was saddest to part with Rayyan when we left USA.
Though we had Paula for a short period in our lives, she is very important part of our lives. All of Rayyan’s friends in Byndoor were familiar with her name. It was with very heavy heart Rayyan had to accept that Paula aunty had to finally lose her battle with cancer. Farheena sometimes waits for her messages even to this day. All the days my children spent with Paula aunty are unforgettable memories they treasure forever in their lives. She set a high standard for women in Rayyan’s life that it will be a challenge for others to meet.Though not related by blood, Paula aunty will be a family for us. 
Paula loved the way Rayyan listened to her. She was explaining Marshmallows to him. 


Friday, June 28, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 47

Confidence - The Best Gift Rayyan Gave Farheena

As far as I know, Rayyan doesn’t like competitions much. He loves to enjoy activities where no one has to prove anything to anyone or to be better than anyone. I was a highly competitive person and was very reluctant to lose even to my own children. Rayyan was the one who trained me about how to make Farheena win games, be it carom, video games or any other thing. He worded it cleverly by not saying you should lose, but by saying how to make Farheena win. He knew my hatred to the word lose. Believe me, it was quite tough on him to convince me to lose to Farheena, so that she could enjoy all the activities and enjoy the thrill of winning as well. He would push her just enough to give her a feel of real tough competition, pretend to be trying hard and would really regret losing the game or competition. At times, Farheena did really perform great with carom board or other video/computer games, shocking us.

We had a musical mug which would play a tune when we lift it up and be silent when put down. It was a gift for me from my husband on our wedding. After a few years it stopped working, but I still used it, because it was attractive. When Farheena was around 2 years of age, after drinking milk she started banging it on the floor lightly. Surprisingly, it started playing the music again. Rayyan grabbed at this opportunity and said, “Maa, Farheena has magic in her hand. She repaired the musical mug and it is working now. Farheena show maa how you did it…” and the proud sister picks up the mug and goes bang bang bang…. Moms cannot allow such things to happen, right? How can I teach Farheena that magic works or banging things repairs it? I have always been a rational person and 2+2=4 is the only way my mind works. Neither could I encourage Rayyan to behave in such irrational way. So, I told him that it is not true and things do not work that way. The child winked at me and said, “Maa it does. See…..” and he happily picked up the mug and allowed the music to play. All the while trying to wink and convince me to play along. Somehow, I did not wish to play along and brought out my automatic watch which had stopped working few weeks ago and told him, “Do you think if she bangs this, it will get repaired?” Rayyan was crestfallen and sad that mommy was not allowing Farheena to enjoy her moment of glory. I was confused now whether I was doing the right thing or not… somehow that sad, crestfallen face made me question myself. As I was looking at Rayyan, the tiny confident hands grabbed at the watch and went bang bang bang thrice, and Farheena smilingly handed over the watch to me. I was in a dilemma as to how should I respond to this situation when Rayyan started smiling again and exclaimed, “Maa, look your watch is working! Farheena did it again”. I wanted to clarify to Rayyan that may be the automatic watch was stuck at some point and the banging must have released it, but somehow I wasn’t stupid anymore. I realized that Rayyan was not fooled but trying to make his sister happy. Yeah, I can be intelligent, but wisdom is something which I was not born with. I am earning it slowly. For a few more months the drama of Rayyan asking his sister to tap or touch his eraser, pencil, book or toys for better performance continued. Farheena was so delighted to do it for him. Slowly it faded away, but I think that was the first stroke of confidence Farheena felt.
That was just the beginning. Rayyan has made Farheena the most important member of our family. When we are choosing a home, dress, electronic item, phone or anything, he involves her in decision making. Every party, occasion or trip, she gets the best seat, best food and all comforts while Rayyan comprises on lot of things. I at times feel uncomfortable with this, but Rayyan tells me it is his choice and that is what makes him happy.
I still remember how much he struggled to make her independent in playing MP3 media player on our computer. He would patiently explain to her the short cuts for playing a song, playing next, forwarding, rewinding and other features to her so that she could play the songs independently as she liked without waiting for us to do it for her. The whole training took nearly 3 months before Farheena started using computer independently. With time, she started typing randomly on Microsoft word. I was thinking of getting a keyboard for her where the alphabets would be in order because QWERTY was confusing, but Rayyan insisted that we train her with regular keyboard. Again he showed great patience in teaching her where the alphabets were on the keyboard. She would ask him where is ‘F’, where is ‘A’, where is ‘H’ and so on and he would point it out to her. Finally she started typing her name on the word. Many people are surprised that Farheena types messages today, but honestly, all the credit goes to Rayyan. I got involved only after I saw that Farheena was typing few letters.
Farheena feels she is very important person in the world, and Rayyan was the one who created that image in her mind. Many people tell me that Farheena is quite confident and girl with an attitude, and they applaud me for bringing her up so well. Honestly, more than 75% of Farheena’s developmental credit goes to Rayyan. He prods her so often to do things on her own. Though she stubbornly refuses, he never gives up. He also tells me not to do everything for her, because it is tough to teach her to do things. Usually, I often do things for Farheena because it is much time saving and easier than guiding her to do it. If not for Rayyan’s guidance now and then, I would have ended up taking away a lot of skills from Farheena. I am grateful to Rayyan for being such an awesome brother.
As for those who get bombarded by Farheena’s messages, you know now who you should blame.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 46


Rayyan’s eyes looked quite normal and I never realized he had myopia for a long time. I have to thank my eyes that though they were tormented thoroughly throughout their existence, they still work fine. If not for my great eyes, I never know when I would have realized that Rayyan had myopia.
We were at hospital and waiting for the doctor where I had gone for a check-up for an injured toe. I was reading a sign board that had few instructions in red letter at a distance for patients who were waiting. Rayyan asked me, “What joke is this maa? There are just few red lines over there and you are creating words out of them”. I was wondering what he is talking about and asked, “You are telling me that you cannot read those simple sentences? They appear simple red lines to you?”  I was genuinely confused as to what was this humour all about. Rayyan was confused as well and asked me, “You mean to say they are actual words and not lines?” Finally he walked up to the board and saw that they were words and not lines. It took me sometime to realize that Rayyan couldn’t read things that are far away.
The next day, I took him to an ophthalmologist and got his eye tested. It was confirmed he had myopia and needed glasses.
It is surprising that not many people realize that myopia and computers/TV are not related and it is not caused due to bad lifestyles. Most of them blamed TV and computers for his problem. Rayyan is lucky that his mom is aware of such things and did not blame him for the problem. Neither did she punish him by taking away his computer games. Let us ignore that she wouldn’t do it even if that was the cause because she loved competing with him. My husband jumped to blaming me for not caring properly for Rayyan (no it is not a joke, he was serious) and damaging his eyes. His lamenting is sometimes funny for me, though it is irritating as well. “Already Farheena had a disability, you had a disability and now the only child who was normal is also with a disability. I am so unfortunate”. He was on phone, so he missed the classic expression on my face. Let us skip the wise cracks I come up with in retaliation, and go back to Rayyan.
We went back to the doctor and choose a nice frame for Rayyan with very thin rim. Rayyan was almost thirteen before he got the glasses. The first thing he observed was how different coconut palms looked. “Maa, I never thought that the lines of coconut leaves are so clearly visible to everyone. They looked like banana leaves to me always. The world is so different now”.
The most surprising gushing comments came from my dad and mom. When Rayyan walked in with the glasses, my mom and dad both were all praise for him. “I was wondering who this person was before realizing it our Rayyan. Oh my God, I never thought someone would look so smart with glasses. He now looks so wise and handsome. Fari, Fari, come quickly and look how cool those glasses are on Rayyan”. Yeah, I have to come out and say “Yes yes” to both of them and be surprised by the handsome boy who went to me buy those glasses and tried it in front of me to decide whether it suited him or not. I had to do it to avoid conflict with my parents. My younger sister said, “Now Rayyan looks like some scholar. Glasses were made for face like his. Look how wise he appears with those glasses!” Again I nod “yes yes”.
There were lot of adventures with Rayyan’s glasses. We went for rimless glasses, thick rimmed one and few more. One was lost, two were broken. Finally he underwent LASIK and bid goodbye to his glasses.
What I remember today is the way my mom, dad and my sister responded to him when they first saw him in glasses. Love is not blind, it is vision that makes everything look beautiful.
Rayyan’s version of the Myopia saga can be found here… 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 45

More Coop Stories

Rayyan’s bond with hens was fascinating. One thing I learned from Rayyan is that language is not important when you want to communicate with any other living being. Rayyan speaks in English or any other language with animals and I see that they respond. Since he wanted to talk to our hens and call them, our hens were given names. The white hen was very tough and would fight with everyone, so I called her Phoolan Devi. Rayyan asked me what it meant, I did not elaborate the story much because I liked the name, so the name stayed. If he would get to know more about the dacoit queen, he would have not accepted it. The other one was called Tanya after my Mortal combat character. The white hen was dominant alpha female who made everyone listen to her rules. Tanya, the poor thing would never oppose her. She was in fact, terrified of her and keep out of her way. When we decided to let them brood chicks, a big fight broke between them. The eggs belonged to Tanya, but Phoolan decided to have it for herself because they both started brooding at the same time. I wanted to separate them and divide the eggs between the two hens, but Rayyan told me, “Maa, they are not humans. They will sort out the issue in a better way than we humans do. Leave them alone and let us see what happens. I don’t think there needs to be a partition there”. I did not trust Rayyan much on this issue and was worried for Tanya, but decided to check out what happens. I would make him sit near the coop for hours so that the weaker hen wouldn’t get hurt. Finally, they sorted it out. One hen would sit on the eggs and the other on top of her. I saw how the hen who was so scared and would keep distance from Phoolan, would climb on her back to be with the eggs. The chicks were hatched and you already know about the weird rooster who was their son.
When the time came to take the chicks out, somehow these two hens made peace with each other. No treaty signed, no promises made but they came to an understanding. One would lead the chicks and the other would be keeping watch from the rear end. The chicks were safe this way. At the sight of a dog, Tanya would summon Phoolan and she would attack the stray dogs or any animal at sight ferociously, as the other hen took the chicks under her wing. It was very surprising to see this behaviour. I have to appreciate Rayyan’s trust in animals. He feels that since they are not as complicated as humans, their solutions to problems are also not complicated. Since they do not use languages like us, there is no miscommunication between them. This experience made me agree to his theory. He also feels that they do understand what we say to them due to the tone and way we speak. So he talks to all living creatures.
These two hens lived with us for a very long time and they were great pets. With time they started responding to instructions as well. I knew Rayyan was about to come home school, because they recognised the van horn and would rush towards our backdoor for the titbits he would have for them. They loved to eat from our hands. Phoolan and Tanya never liked to be touched and were rarely coming inside the home. Rayyan’s only freedom fight was for the freedom of the hens. He feels that these species deserve a better life than what they are given. He feels very hurt every time he passes by a shop that sells chicken, because of their living condition. He has bonded with them and knows them to be more than just food. I hope more people will realize this.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 44

Rayyan’s Weird Rooster…

 I love cats a lot and had my share of pets when I lived in Bangalore. But when I had to shift to a village home in Byndoor I had to give up my idea of having pet kitties, I will not tell you why once again.
I found a new kind of love for chickens over here. First I had one hen which was bought by my husband for getting some fresh eggs. I used to feed her and gradually started to see that hens are so much smarter then we actually know and they need our love like dogs and cats. Rayyan also took care of them and loved them a lot. But unfortunately, he made me give them a lot of freedom and not confine them to a coop. This led to a lot of trouble for me in the coming 7 years.
Later he started accusing me of taking the eggs which deserved to hatch. Under moral pressure from Rayyan, I decided to allow the hen to breed and it was a success. Though we were not experts we did a good job. We were a happy family watching the chicks hatch one by one until we found one could not walk. 

It was very weak and was struggling to get under its mothers wings. Rayyan picked him up and slowly pushed him under his mother’s wing and it stayed there. After two days the hens decided to take the chicks for a small day chic’s day out trip and sadly the small one could not follow. In the world of the fittest survives it was left behind and again Rayyan was to its rescue carrying him and taking him everywhere the chicks went. It was a funny sight to see the hens peck and something and call the chicks and they would rush at whatever it was. Rayyan would rush with the weak chic so that it would not miss the fun or food either. After a week it was as strong as the others and slowly, because of extra love and care shown to it, it grew to be strongest alpha chick of the brood. 

When the chick was four months old we got to know he was a fine golden colored rooster… he grew up to be one of the finest rooster we have ever seen.
My hens are not the interior types and they are left to roam free in my backyard. If I keep them confined for the fear of dogs they stop eating and get weak. All this happened because of Rayyan’s argument that we cannot take away their freedom for safety. This rooster would go far away from home but would rush back (if he was able to hear) whenever we called him to have his lunch. He would enter my house and bedroom and sit beside Rayyan if he was sleeping waiting for his quota of special food. He was a huge bird but very friendly and you have to believe me that not once had he pooped inside the house. Our area had few other roosters but he set a rule that they should not crow. 

If ever he heard a rooster crow; he would rush there and silence him. Most of the roosters were terrified of him.
Once in a while he would bring a strange hen to hour home and ask me to feed her. It was very funny the way he stood there and watched them eat the food without touching any of it. One day somebody from the neighborhood complained that our rooster had tried to attack their kid. When it came to animals, I never trusted our neighbors. I told them the child must have troubled it, because this bird has been moving in and out of our house never attacking anyone. Few kids from my neighborhood trouble the animals and they must have troubled him and he being a strong big bird, he had defended himself.
Another day one of Rayyan’s friend ran to catch hold of it and when Rayyan turned around he saw the boy was running with the rooster chasing him. It was a funny sight. Few months after that my brother’s son who was visiting us tried pulling its tail and the rooster attacked leaving a gash on his face. My sister in law was very upset and told me to cut and eat the rooster because he had wild behavior but again I told her that he would not have done that if he was left alone. I love my nephew a lot but I could not punish this rooster because I know if I had a tail I would not like it to be pulled for fun.
This is when Rayyan told me not to be blind in my love for the rooster but to be careful. There were few more complaints from the people that the rooster was not safe and I could not believe it. One day I heard screams of a boy and rushed out to see that the rooster was standing there quietly and this boy was shivering in fear. “Hey! Why are you so scared?” I asked him and he said my rooster had attacked him. The rooster stood there innocently pecking the ground for food. “Don’t lie. He is not even bothered about you” I sounded accusing and the boy swore that the rooster had suddenly changed his behavior when he heard my footsteps. I laughed out loud. Imagine a fowl attacking a kid and then pretending as though nothing has happened when I came out.
Rayyan who had taken care of the rooster earlier and who loved it as much as I did, told me not to ignore the complaints. May be the fowl was capable of what they accused it to be doing. He started observing the rooster often, but couldn’t find anything wrong in its behavior. But complaints kept pouring in steadily and finally I got to see that the rooster actually attacked a kid and changed into ‘I am Mr. Innocent’ when he saw me. Amazing. He was a mild bird, sitting on my Rayyan’s bed, never pooping inside the house and moving out of way if Farheena was walking (believe me, he really did that) and to think he attacked kids behind my back was very tough on me.
After some lecture from Rayyan, I pleaded guilty and said sorry to anyone who was hurt. I knew this would not last and I had to give up the rooster because if I confined him he would not survive. He could fly quite high and so no walls were boundaries for him. Finally as a last straw my neighbor’s kid was attacked quite badly with bit of wounds to show and they were very angry. I tried defending this rooster, but Rayyan put some sense into me.
So with a heavy heart I gave him to a woman who raised fowls for living. She was the wife of the same auto driver who took the fish to be left in sea. Rayyan was very sad to say goodbye to the rooster, but he told me, that we cannot trouble others and put their children at risk. We fed him lot of his favorite food which was slightly fried sardines. We hugged and petted him for a while and I was again about to change my mind. Rayyan loved the bird, but he was not blind like me, so I said goodbye to the bird. It was something like Bollywood bidai.
The lady who took him said, he kept brooding and never ate food which she gave him. When she left him free he would climb up trees and never come down. She was having tough time with him. I again pleaded with her to take care of him for few more days until I could find solution for him and paid her handsomely for the help. The last I heard she had sold him to some unknown person for a hefty sum. She kept denying she sold him and said he still lived on the trees wildly.
We all think of him very often and miss him a lot. I go through the guilt of hanging on to him for sometime even after seeing he attacked a kid. It was very tough giving him away but there comes a time in our lives where our minds have to rule our heart. This was one of such moment where my heart overtook my mind but thankfully Rayyan was there to guide me. I am sure if he had made fuss that I am giving away the chic he saved and cried a bit, I would have created a lot of chaos and someone would have actually killed it.
When we talk about pet chicks no one understands that they are actually our pet animals who come over to be petted like dogs and cats and do not mind us touching or caressing them. They also understand what is being said to them. They jump around happily when they see us. They have their own attitudes and personalities. People breed them just for flesh and eggs and never try to bond with them… Wish they knew what they are missing.

Monday, June 24, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 43

Was My Prayer Answered?

My peace loving children I am proud of
This post is about Rayyan; yet it is not exactly about him, because he was not born when the event I am going to narrate took place. When I was pregnant with Rayyan, I have witnessed the most horrible sight I have ever come across in my life. If you do not like gory stories, read no further.
I was in Byndoor during my third month of pregnancy. There was also a pregnant cat visiting our attic and was planning to lay her babies in a cosy place there. This place was almost abandoned and she wouldn't be disturbed. My MIL and her family were not cat people. In fact, most of the people in our neighbourhood hated cats due to their stealing fish, messing corners and noise they made. When the cat started making preparations for the babies they hated the disturbing sounds of the cat and wanted to chase it away.
Being pregnant with terrible morning sickness, I kind of empathized with this pregnant cat and said a few words in her defence. This kind of triggered the ego game in the family, though I did not have much energy to play it. I was kind of lonely with my husband in Dubai and my maternal family in Bangalore. My in laws never tried to have a good relationship with me and in their defence I can say that I never tried hard either. I was like a stranger in the house.
One night, I could clearly hear the kittens and mom cat meowing through the night. I could hear everyone grumble and curse the cat. I was afraid that the cats would be in danger and decided to hire someone to shift them somewhere else. Of all the animals, I love cats the most and couldn't bear to see them hurt. Though that applies for all animals, the proportion of love is more for cats.
The next morning I tried hard to hear some sounds but there was only silence in the attic. Due to pregnancy, I could not climb up the shaky ladder to check, but I assumed the cat must have shifted the kittens like they usually do. As I walked out, I heard some sounds in the passage way of our house. When I peeped there, the most horrific sight met my eyes. If you are weak hearted, read no further because it is gruesome.
The cat was hanged to my bedroom window railing by its neck and was dead on the ground with the noose around its neck. The four kittens lay dead there must be due to rain or cold because two were dead suckling the mom. That meant they were not killed but left to die. A crow was trying to peck at them....
The nauseating feeling which started in my gut spread all over my body and soul and I was in bathroom for nearly 2 hours throwing up God knows what.
I did not have any energy left to fight it out with anyone. There was no way justice could be done because what law we have for such people to be punished? That day I felt the most helpless and vulnerable I have ever felt in my life. This horrible thing happened right outside my window and I could do nothing about it. The worst part was, everyone felt it was not a big deal and some justified it, whereas there were others who found it funny.
I cried for a long time and finally I prayed. I do not have any kind of God in my mind so my prayers are very rare. When I pray it is to some goodness out there in the universe without a name. I sat down on the floor and sent a prayer out to the universe sincerely with all my heart and soul. "Let my womb never bear a child who can be capable of cruelty to anyone". I kept repeating it for hours... I had fear in my heart that the child I carried may someday be capable of something like this. It could be in his genes, though I have not witnessed his father being cruel to animals or plants. Somewhere the dead cat had connection to his ancestors in my mind, though I had no proof.  
The next day I told my mom I was coming to Bangalore and would be there for some time. I did not tell anyone at my home of what had happened because I could not talk about it ever again.
I feel extremely grateful that both my children are very careful of not hurting anyone. They care even about insects and I have not seen either of them kill anything consciously. Though it is tough to believe, I have to because I have witnessed it. Sometimes I feel that my prayer was answered that day, especially when I talk to Rayyan. He doesn't place people superior to animals and he had been that way since childhood. It was in the same attic where the cat had her kittens that Rayyan told me he couldn't hurt the dangerous jungle cats. Even Farheena cannot bear to see anyone suffer, and is sensitive to emotional pain in others, even if they are hiding it very smartly. Though life came with lot of challenges to me, I feel lucky and grateful to life for not giving me children who would be capable of cruelty.
I live peacefully knowing that the two people I brought into this world will not hurt anyone either physically or emotionally. Thank you God!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 42

Comparison – Downfall of Our Happiness

There are lot of things I have learned from Rayyan. I consider him my guide for life lessons he has taught me which has made a huge difference to my life. The most important has been about comparison, expectations and abstract beliefs.
When we shifted to Byndoor, Rayyan who was terrified of stepping into unknown waters, took to swimming, diving and just staying in water like an amphibian.
 Be it rain, pond, river or sea; he was at home in the water. He got the nick name ‘paani holla’ which is a speicies of water snake in our region. When he built good stamina, speed and passion for swimming, I was tempted to send him to swimming competitions. Rayyan refused, saying that the competitions will spoil the fun and love of water for him. 
It is difficult to get Rayyan out of pool even when the night progresses
Even with cycling he says the same. I used to argue with him that life is not just about having fun and enjoying, but also about proving yourself. Rayyan calmly replies, “I don’t think we have to prove anything to anyone maa. Why do we want to prove ourselves to be better than others? I feel comparison makes life difficult for many people. Imagine you are alone without others to compare yourself with; will you not be happy with a small shelter, any fresh food or some play time like Tarzan? Isn’t that we want more things when we see others are having it?” I am not sure how to answer that question, but I do think about it quite often.
Rayyan feels people get angry, agitated, frustrated and disappointed most of the times because of comparison. You are shorter, darker, smarter, stronger, richer, or weaker because of comparison. If you do not have anyone to compare yourself with, then your colour, height, weight, wealth, food, or anything becomes good enough.  One example he mentions is of the African’s. They became coloured people only after the presence of white Europeans. Until then, they were completely normal and happy in their continent. Though initially I resisted the theory and wanted him to be more competitive, slowly I changed. Rayyan still remains the same. We had lot of healthy debates when I used to teach him English grammar and degrees of comparison.
Somehow, I realize that his own insight has made him very peaceful. He is happy with whatever he is. As children, I remember we used to demand or yearn for things that were popular among our friends, but Rayyan has his own choices. I do not recall him even for once asking for a thing he has seen with a friend. Since he doesn’t compare himself with others, I see kind of peace in him and I have never seen him go through jealousy like I had earlier. Rayyan often buys me some gifts which is really precious to me and may be only to me because they mean a lot to me, but the best gift he has given me is the life lessons. I have learned to be happy with whatever I am today. Without Rayyan’s guidance, it would not be easy for me to deal with Farheena and her challenges.
When Rayyan had to work on a project for Arena, the topic he picked for 2D movie was something regarding how comparison to others makes everyone unhappy. He worked on it all alone because not many were interested in his project and it required lot of work. Rayyan works hard and he has passion for completing whatever he plans to do. Finally he put together this amazing short movie which got 2nd prize for him in Arena Animation, Jayanagar.

 I was overjoyed and Rayyan was happy as well. When he came home with the trophy, he was forced to pose with it so that I could treasure the memory. Farheena, was not so happy that her not so important sibling was getting so much attention from Mom, until Rayyan encouraged her to wear her medals, hold her certificates and pose with him.
Finally I realized, that the gesture of Rayyan towards making Farheena happy is what remains more important for me today than that trophy in his hand. This is the life-lesson that has changed me and made me a happy person than I was earlier. Thank you Rayyan.
 Which picture wins our hearts? The one above or the one below?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 41

Rayyan’s Girl Friends
Please do take note that there is a space put in between Girl and Friends above intentionally because the space has always been maintained.
Since his childhood, Rayyan has never been attracted gender wise for his friendship. His friends are boys, girls, men, women, children and animals. It always depended on that particular situation, place, and the living being with whom he would bond. Among his share of friendships, there have been some great ones with girls as well. Some have continued to be long distance ones, and others close to home.
Sometimes, I have been surprised by the trust his friends show in him and also the special and pure bonding they share. When we shifted to Byndoor, Rayyan had found a good friend in our neighbourhood. They both would chat for hours without getting bored. They played, partied and had had great time together. His friend was a bit elder to him and was also very protective of Rayyan. One day, she had watched the movie of Hritik Roshan’s Kaho naa pyaar hai and was excited to narrate its story to him. When I left him to hear the story she had just started with the first scene. When I entered the scene three hours later, he was listening with same interest and she was narrating it equally excited to the last scene. “How the narration of the story is longer than the movie?” I asked laughing, and she replied innocently, “Few scenes which he cannot see has to be described, right? So it took a bit extra time”. Their friendship was one of the most selfless, trusting and beautiful one I have ever come across. Even when she wanted to click some good pictures for her fiancĂ©, she trusted Rayyan more than me. When asked why Rayyan and not me, she replied, “I am shy in front of you”. OK. That sent in a lot of messages to me and also reminded me how insecure I felt around boys as a teenager. I was happy that I had brought up my boy in a way that girls trusted him more than his mom. In a small Indian town, it was difficult to believe such friendship existed.
I am very sure that no girl has ever felt threatened or unsafe with Rayyan, even if they are alone with him. Rayyan has always looked at people as persons without taking into account their age, gender, color, status or anything for that matter. I have been amazed with friendships so far.
When I tag him to my cancer support meets, he bonds well with my friend Uma Pai and she looks forward to meet him as well. Diane was another person, who bonded with Rayyan ignoring cultural and age barriers. Jay and Paula were friends but then became more like a family to him.
When I asked him when he will introduce me someone where the space will not exist between the girl and friend, he answers calmly, that it will happen when it has to happen. I am a bit restless, but Rayyan seems calm and patient. I know that he doesn’t believe that the sole purpose of a girl is to find a husband and marry so the sole purpose of the guy should not be to look at a girl for the purpose of marriage or for a serious relationship. He says that the world would be much better place if girls or women were treated like any other person. When I think back about my teen years and how even small gestures, looks or words would make me feel uncomfortable, I realized how much such a view from a guy is welcome in our world. This is how I learned to respect Rayyan more than I love him.
So, for him the relationships do not point towards love like the one we see in movies. I am not sure if this is what they say about the ‘good guys being friendzoned’ because the only difference I see here is that the choice is made by Rayyan to be there until everything falls in right place. I keep looking but I know I have wait for him to find his soul mate who will be on the same plane of thoughts like him. I am sure there is someone right for him somewhere in the world. I just want him to show some interest in looking …..

Very comfortable with my cancer survivor friends.................. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 40

The Surprise Birthday Party

Farheena’s birthday in 2008 was celebrated in USA. We planned a nice pool side party for her and enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately the decorations and party left a lot of confetti and papers in and around the pool to be cleaned up. Rayyan stepped in to help us clean after the party. Off course, he did all the work with us pitching in tiny help here and there.
Jay was not very happy that Rayyan gets major share of the work while rest of us get major share of fun. This was not the first time Jay decided to defend Rayyan even when he was not under attack from anyone. Somehow, he felt things were not fair. Farheena, off course enjoyed all the attention and gifts like usually does on her birthday. With pressure from Jay, we decided to give Rayyan an early birthday party, because by August 20th, he would be back in India. Surprising Rayyan was not difficult, because he doesn’t ask many questions.
So we planned another pool side birthday party and few close friends joined us to have fun. Rayyan like usual helped us get everything ready for the party, other than the cake which was kept hidden from him. We had some games and then everyone, including Rayyan gathered around for the birthday party. Farheena was also not told whose birthday it was going to be, so she was curious as well. The cake was placed and we all started to sing “Happy birthday to you” when the time for the name to be mentioned, Rayyan looked around to catch whose birthday it was when he heard all singing his name. His face was something I can never forget…… when he finally realized the party was for him. Soon he saw the name on the cake and also the yellow toy car Jay had picked for him knowing his choice. He was a bit overwhelmed to give a proper response for quite a while. We enjoyed the party and I can say this is one of the greatest birthday party Rayyan enjoyed with a family that was connected through love. And for the real surprise he had, it was worth all the effort.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 39

Life Happens and Rayyan Enjoys It

When Rayyan was busy with his project with Chimple, a company he was proud to be a part of; we had to visit my aunt who was not feeling well and lived in Bangarpet. Rayyan had some important submission to complete and he couldn’t join us. Unfortunately I forgot to hand a spare key of our home to him, which I remembered very late. We were already more than half way to the town.
I informed Rayyan about the situation and he was OK with it. We tried getting home fast, but it always gets late when you meet your relatives after a long time. By the time we reached home, it was almost 1 a.m. and I assumed Rayyan must have gone to one of his friend’s home. When I connected with him to let him know that we were reaching in half an hour and he could come home or stay at his friends place, he said he was already home and waiting for us.
I was a bit disturbed because it was cold and raining in Bangalore and he had missed his dinner as well. But my mind was also working on a conspiracy at the same time. For once I will get to see an upset and angry Rayyan and I will take some pictures of him so that I can have proof that he can give in to emotions as well. Whenever someone would use him an example for their children, I could show these pics and tell them the story how he responded when we deserted him without a key to our home.
So I eagerly look for him in the parking, and I cannot find him. It was raining quite heavily and our terrace had no shelter. So where was he? I climb up the stairs and see something…. And the superman drama unfolds. Is it is dog? Is it a wild animal? Oh, it is flying, is it a huge bird… no look it is Rayyan. In his dark clothes, on the terrace, jumping and enjoying the cold rain lashing at him, it was difficult to identify Rayyan until the lightning flashed. When I was about to say sorry for forgetting to hand the spare key to him, he said, “Sorry maa, I forgot to take the spare key from you today morning because I was in a rush to get to office”. Immediately my hand rushes to hold my jaw dropping down. I do not make a fuss about me being at fault and ask normally, “why did you come home? You could have gone to your friend’s place” I try to accuse him to see how he will respond. He calmly informed me that they were away. All the while he is enjoying the rain as well.
The next day, I was discussing the incident with my friend Parvathi in Giggle Garden who explained to me how lucky I was to have a son like Rayyan. “At 26, youngsters cannot tolerate such things. They usually go wild and I am sure if anyone else in Rayyan’s place would have broken the door and got in”. At that time I recalled many such incidents with Rayyan, where he had shown extreme patience and had been with peace where many would be flying in rage. I know he gets bored with the wait as well, but his response is never expressed through frustration, anger, agitation or rudeness. It is peaceful, always. It surprises me that he can maintain the patience and peace for so long.
Even though for us it may look amazing, for Rayyan this is normal behaviour and he is surprised why people get angry for trivial issues… only if he knew the battles we fight to keep that raging anger under control! Sigh.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 38

Developing Immunity In Nature’s Lap

Our joy was boundless when Rayyan, my first born came into our lives. By ours I mean my whole family, not just the parents. His father was away at the time of his birth, but my own family made it up to him and me. The last time there was a baby at home was more than 15 years ago when my youngest sister was born. Rayyan was treated like a prized, delicate and loved child who needed protection from the harsh world. Every time he wet himself, pooped or cried for milk, I could see chaos around me with nearly 2-3 people rushing to set things right for him. I remember how everyone went overboard with his care other than me. To be honest I was kind of getting irritated by the fuss being made over the baby. But the big army of 2 aunts, 1 uncle, grandma and grandpa overwhelmed and smothered me to do as they wished. Finally what counted was that they loved him more than anything else in whole world.  What more can a Mom ask for? So I stopped fighting and surrendered. 
Rayyan had low resistance to diseases. Any change in routine would make him feverish, get cough and cold or give him diarrhoea. He was slow in gaining weight. My family took it upon themselves to protect him from the germs and bacteria which lay in wait to get him. So he did not get to play much outdoor games, eat street food or play in dirty water. I knew this was wrong, but then there was nothing much I could do. No one bothered to take my advice. Leave alone his drinking water, even the water he bathed was boiled and cooled. Every time he went out, one of my family members would escort him. He spent long hours playing with Lego toys, watching cartoons or painting. Though he loved cycling, he was never given the freedom to go out all alone. He had to go circles around our home even as someone kept an eye on him from terrace.

It was quite tough for me to deal with this situation as I firmly believe in keeping children close to nature which will give a boost to their immunity. The more we protect our children, the weaker their body will be to fight invading diseases. It was also important that Rayyan be given his own space and independence. To make up for his smothered life I used to take Rayyan for long walks in the evenings or occasionally in the morning. I also allowed him to play in rain. When Farheena entered our lives 4 years later, she became a part of the walks where the children were allowed to touch and feel nature.
Initially I thought the fuss my family made would be over once there is another child at home or when he grows up a bit. How wrong was I? Farheena’s entry into our lives had no effect on my family. As days passed and Rayyan was nearly 10, he was still treated like a baby and not allowed any independence.
When I was confused about the upbringing of my children, there was a turning point in my life where I had to take a major decision. I had two choices in front of me. Stay in Bangalore and live with my family to adjust my lifestyle to their choices, or move out and go to my native village Byndoor to lead an independent life. As I sat pondering over what step to take, Rayyan was watching television, an activity which kept his boredom away. I wanted to know how many cartoons he could watch if left undisturbed. When the third cartoon started without Rayyan moving from his seat, I made my decision. It was quite tough decision to make but I finally broke free from the bondages of my family. Both my children were very close to all my family members and I was sure that they would miss them. But then it was high time that I took control of my own life and made my own decisions.

So off we went to the coastal village to live a life close to nature. After his first day in school, Rayyan could not stop talking about how active and strong the children in his school were. These were the children who played in fields, swam the rivers and ate fresh food. There were much stronger than the children I had seen in Rayyan’s previous school. 

Without much physical activities, Rayyan looked so small compared to his classmates. I assured Rayyan that with proper physical activities and freedom to roam in the nature, he would catch up with his peers.
To make my children more active physically and mentally, I got rid of the TV. They could have fun on computer but TV was a big no. Both the children spending nearly 5 hours in front of the idiot box was not acceptable to me. I knew we would miss it for a few days but then would get adjusted to the life without TV. Don’t jump to conclusion and call me cruel person. If you think life was dull and boring in Byndoor for my children, you are in for a surprise. Our days were filled with fun, adventures, games and weekly visits to the beach. To make it more entertaining, I gathered a group of children from my neighbourhood to join us on picnics, games and parties.

From being a protected child, Rayyan blossomed to be the responsible person. He started helping me in housework and shopping.  I had to be prepared for the chicks, kitten or fish Rayyan would bring back to keep as pet. In his new found freedom, Rayyan started exploring the town and its surroundings early in the morning on his cycle. His immunity started improving and I could see the change in him. Earlier, every year he had to miss some monthly tests or exams due to his illness. Now he was maintaining 100% attendance in his school and setting record for perfect attendance which he missed when we went for my Mom’s treatment. My mom regretted that quite a lot.
Though initially Rayyan was accompanying me for his outings, he slowly weaned off and started to find a group of children who could join him on long hikes to the nearby mountains and to swim in the sea. 

Finally he started wandering off alone at times on his cycle because there were not many children who could match his stamina and enthusiasm for long rides. His stamina was building up so much that he could beat most of the experienced swimmers at the local pond.
He started raising chickens but unfortunately they were not food for him but friends. Soon even I fell in love with his chicks. He became so lively and enthusiastic in the company of the animals.

 The dirty water, exposure to germs or eating street food occasionally did not make Rayyan sick or weak as my family feared. His outdoor life made him strong and his healthy body could resist diseases on its own. I cannot recall when I have last taken Rayyan to a doctor for medication and he is the same child who used to be sick for nearly 100 days every year apart from a recent infection he had due to dust on roads.
  My own experience tells me that children develop immunity only when we allow them to grow in natures lap. The fresh air, organic food and exercise are required to build a strong immune system. A lazy child who spends time in front of TV; gorging on chips and soft drinks can never have strong immunity.
Today, back in Bangalore, we do own a TV but my children are not interested in getting the cable connection. We watch selected program through internet TV. Rayyan has joined various cycling groups and events taking place around Bangalore. He is the only fit and healthy member of our family who has kept his weight under control and also he does not need any pills or syrups to keep diseases away.

 Rayyan did not change his lifestyle after leaving Byndoor. He travelled to his college, work and everywhere around Bangalore on his Bicycle until I forced to buy a bike as well, yet he uses his cycle often. He also managed to survive the endurance ride to Mysore. It keeps him healthy and fit, moreover he is doing well to both the environment and my purse earlier and now his bank balance.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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