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.

Monday, August 19, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 99

Of Gods And Souls

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I was born into a definite religion but I grew up without a definite religion and belief system I could firmly follow. My parents were staunch devotees of Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi and we constantly had Sai Baba devotees in our home. I saw my dad offering his namaz as well as singing bhajans. He would collect money and send it to Ganesha Temple in Byndoor. The open minded of our parents meant we were exposed to all religions other than the one we were born into. I was called Farila and my elder sister Surila, which were complicated names which did not show our religion either. It was not until I was married that I had to make any religious choices.
When Rayyan was born, he went through the religious confusions that already existed in my family. His father wanted him to follow his religion very strictly, but he never saw any seriousness in his mom. I am not sure what he saw all those rituals as, but most probably he saw it as an act that we do to please others. I never wanted my own thoughts to influence him, but allowed him to follow what his father wanted him to do. Being a less diplomatic person, I told him often that you have to do this because this is what your father wishes and he will be happy if you do this. That was very wrong foundation to base someone’s belief on.
From the age of 12 to 17 Rayyan did try a lot to fit into the role his father wanted him to play. He was regular for his prayers and that was enough for everyone to call him a good person. This became a thing of pride for his father, but instead of happily embracing him, his demands kept growing. It became a source of his own ego.
One day my husband came in angrily and demanded to know where is Rayyan. I told him he had gone for prayer. All of a sudden he started accusing me of lying, "You are so ignorant. He did not go for prayers today, but he lied to you and you believed. You will spoil his life". I was very confident that Rayyan hadn’t lied and I would prove it once he came home. The more confident I was, the angrier it made my husband.
Rayyan came in little later and even before I could ask, he told me that he had gone to a mosque little further with his friends for prayers. Instead of trusting him and leaving the issue there, his dad started grilling him with questions and later on went to confirm that by asking others to be sure that he wasn’t lying. I knew back then that this would lead to a change in Rayyan and I think it did. The next day as we were having lunch together, Rayyan casually mentioned, “Maa if we go for prayer everyday regularly, it becomes something that we have to do and even if we miss it for day, people say we are bad. On the other hand, for those who do not pray regularly, people are so happy to see them pray even once a week. Why is everyone so obsessed with the relationship others have with God or religion? Isn’t it something very personal and we all should be more worried about ourselves rather than others?” I did not say anything much.
Many such tiny incidents kept taking place. Coinciding with his questions, the timing of his college, his travels and studies took its toll on his regularity of his prayers. I left him alone to deal with his life, because I had tried my best to guide him as his dad had said, but his obsession and his demands were pushing Rayyan away from where he actually wanted him to be. With Rayyan’s irregularity, the obsession of his father became more vehement and again it pushed Rayyan away. Finally there came a time when Rayyan took his stand and said, “I will not pray to please people”. He totally walked away from it. I tried a bit to convince him to follow the faith he is born into, but then I saw that I myself was not convinced enough about what I was saying to convince him.
I had tough time dealing with the accusations from everyone around me that I had spoiled him and chased him away from religion and God, but I know that I did not contribute to it in anyway not that he was away from God. It is the extremism and obsession of people with religion and about how much we pray, how we pray, why we should pray and other doctrines that made him take a stand. I am not sure about Farheena’s contribution into all this, but I am sure she has played her part in his changes.
He was cursed, verbally abused, his clothes were thrown out and many other stupid things followed. The more one is pushed, the more is the resistance, and his resistance grew. He did not fight, nor did say or do anything rash, but he just stopped praying.
Rayyan one day said to me when we were having religious discussion, “Maa, do you really think people believe in what they are saying they believe. More than 80% percent of the people in this world are religious. How do you explain so much of wrong being done then, when they know that God is watching them? If they really believed in what they say they believe, the world would be much safer and beautiful place to be in”. I slowly realized that it is the hypocrisy of the people that was irritating to him as much as it is to me.
When I ask him, how he will know what is good and what is bad without someone more knowing to guide him, Rayyan says, “We all have a soul and it tells us what is right and what is wrong if we actually observe and listen to it. If I feel I have to hide what I am doing from everyone, or if I feel that is going to be hurting or harmful for others, than that is wrong. It is a simple rule we all can follow to be on the right path. I think everyone will have their own thresholds of right and wrongs and we all should follow what our souls guides us towards”. It looks like that has worked for him so far.
One day, after having a heated discussion with a friend who is supporter of cow vigilante team, I was questioning actually myself rather than Rayyan, “How can someone believe a cow to be God? I find it very irrational!” and he actually answered me, “Why do you find this particular belief so weird when there are so many other Gods and his/her descriptions that is scarier or weirder? I find the cow a more pleasant description of God than many others”. I did not try to discuss with him further for the fear of actually changing myself.
Though Rayyan is not religious by rituals, I feel he is highly religious person because he has strictly followed and adhered to the basics of all religions of this world. When I go back and observe his life, I don’t see the sins of any kind touching him. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride have not bothered him much and I wish so much that I could say the same about me. I do see virtues like chastity, temperance, charity (in moderate ways), diligence, patience, kindness and humility which is a part of his nature. All these came to him inherently and not by my guidance. The day he wants to, he can fit into any religion of his choice without any changes he may have to make to himself.
Rayyan has never underestimated the power of belief, because he says, many people need the guidance and help from religion to lead their lives. I feel he has found a different way of connecting to God, which is looking inwards and listening to the voice or feelings we have within us. I don’t know when it happened, but somehow rather than looking outside for guidance Rayyan started looking within. I have always had my faith in God, but I do feel he has found a superior or better way of having a proper faith.
At present, I do not interfere in his beliefs because I find he is very convinced and there is no harm in the way he is.
That now completes my 99th post with just the last one to go tomorrow and also almost a peak into every aspect of Rayyan’s life, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of it. Wow! What an experience it has been to write all about this…..

Sunday, August 18, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 98

When Opportunities Knock

When recently I was discussing his first choice of career in Automobile Industry with Rayyan, he told me, “Maa, I never think of what could have happened. I just see good in what has happened and I am going to be happy with what I have. If I start thinking ‘what if’ I will end up being unhappy forever”. I wish I could be like him, but then I somehow cannot stop thinking what would have happened if he could have gone into automobile field.
When Rayyan was in school, he had come up with an idea about using the power generated by rotating wheels of a vehicle to power up the battery or something, which I cannot explain like he does. I could not understand what he was saying, because the working methods of cars and motorized vehicles has never been the topic of my interest. But, I did some Google search on what he was saying, and I found actually few people had tried it out, but unfortunately, it did not work out. This encouraged me to see a future for Rayyan in automobile engineering. Some people ask me, why when something he said did not work out, I was encouraged. It is because there were others who had seen it as a potential working model. May be it needed to be modified some more to work out. More than that, I love people coming with new ideas which means they have critical thinking ability in the area of work. That was what encouraged me. Later, in USA, I saw great interest Rayyan showed working with Jay in garage and I was further convinced about his career and Rayyan was also on the same page. But, then life doesn’t go as we want it to go and a small mistake from his father landed him in a different career all together. This tiny thing will remain a regret for me, no matter what Rayyan will achieve as an animator and progresses career wise. I will always feel now that he would have done great in the field of automobile Imagineering or something similar, but I at the same time I am so proud of the way he is progressing career wise.
Rayyan was at least able to take up his second passion of animation and he is happy. Rayyan has no regrets. As Rayyan finished his Animation course, Farheena was done with her special school training as well. Farheena had to go to a vocational centre which was situated further from our home, so we decided to shift there first, before looking for a job for Rayyan. Officially, Farheena started her career before Rayyan.
I had heard about Digital Juice when helping out a friend find job. I told Rayyan to apply for a job that company and try out his luck. He spent some time preparing his demo reel and then went for the interview. He landed with the job, but I was sceptical about his night-shift. Rayyan found that the job would be great learning experience for him and was very excited to take it up. So, he started his career there and it really helped him learn a lot about Motion Graphics.

Though the company had good standard of work and great learning experience, the challenge Rayyan faced there was the dress code. Since he has never been into formal wear, it was difficult for him to manage the shirts and formal pants. Other than that everything went on fine until nearly a year later, the company suddenly announced that they were shutting down. Rayyan was enjoying the learning more than the earning and was disappointed. Since, he was there to receive Farheena when she came back from work, I had taken up full time job for once in my life. Everything had to be shuffled once again.
Few weeks went by as Rayyan attended few interviews but could not take up job due to distance, work environment, mismatch of work requirement and many other things. I told him to wait for the right job rather than jumping into just anything that came his way. Finally he found something he loved and was waiting for their call. It did not come by. I came across an ad for a company which was very close to our home. I informed Rayyan to check it out. He went for the interview and came back highly excited because his boss interviewed him in Jeans and T-shirt. He got the job in the company and he decided to take it ahead. The same day, the job he had applied for earlier responded calling him in. Somehow, since Rayyan already had the offer letter, he went ahead with the job giving up the one he coveted for long. It was not an easy decision to make.
When he started, he had no clue what the whole project was about. When he realized, it became a passion for him. His company was competing in Global Learning XPRIZE, which was associated with the Elon Musk. That name ignited lot of excitement in Rayyan. The company was looking to create scalable solutions to enable children to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic in short duration of time. Rayyan would come home excited most of the days and would discuss his project so often with me. They were working in Swahili language to reach out to children in Africa.
Meanwhile, Farheena’s vocational centre shifted to a new place and we had to shift to a new home again. Meanwhile, I got back to working from home like earlier. Rayyan was working with more passion as the days of result were coming near. I was as much excited about the project as was Rayyan. Finally the result was out and to the great surprise of everyone the start-up from Bangalore was the only Indian company among the top 5 finalists in the much coveted XPRIZE. Rayyan had a lot of trust in the project and his boss, but that did not take away the shock, surprise and delight even a bit. When Rayyan took up the job, little did he expect such a big boost for his career, yet here it was. I am not sure how is he going to beat that high peak in his career curve ever in his life, but then life is unpredictable and we will never know.

This also enabled Rayyan to help me out with saving Giggle Garden which was taking baby steps. I had started the school with a working partner who had to back off due to travel and health issues. Rayyan decided to buy out her share and become a part of Giggle Garden because he knew how much this project meant for me. At times things work out in mysterious ways and we feel blessed. I cannot stop being overwhelmed thinking how his company winning the XPRIZE saved Giggle Garden from closing down when the partner suddenly backed off and demanded I refund her share as soon as possible. At that time, the only option I had was to sell off all the materials we had bought to run the school and pay her.
When the project was coming to an end, Rayyan got an offer through an acquaintance who remembered him from the days of Arena. His team lead from Digital Juice had also recommended his name at BYJU'S which paved his way there even before he came out of his previous company.He had enjoyed working in the company which had its share of fun and parties along with the great achievement. As his work with Chimple was over, he had just enough time to finish the interviews, demo-reel before taking up the new job which started on his birthday last year. It has been a good progress for him so far.
I am not sure how, but life is pushing Rayyan towards education and teaching, since his mom is highly passionate teacher. At present, Rayyan is back to enjoying his work, though travel in the heavy traffic of Bangalore is something he doesn’t look forward to. I wish him good luck and also thank him for the gift of Giggle Garden, which is the best thing I have done in my life career wise. He not only loves what he does but also helped me do what I love the best.
He is happy and content with the way his career is progressing. What else can I ask for?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 97

Be The Worthy One

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OMG! We are almost reaching the end of the series! There are so many more interesting stories to share but I have to somehow stop after 4 more. I am having tough time choosing the last four. I never realized that my relationships with everyone will be redefined when I started writing these posts. This has been a great experience for me, though for a few times it was stressing for lack of internet speed and power cut which almost made it a last minute rush to keep the posts coming.
Since the launch of the MCU, the Mjolnir or Thor’s hammer has become very famous. Though I used to read a lot of Spider Man, Fantastic Four and Dare Devil comics I was not much into Thor. So, when I started hearing the sentence, “You are not worthy”, or “You are worthy” I was wondering why is this so familiar and why do I feel I have heard it before. I kept racking up my memories, because I knew it was very much closer than the Marvel comics when all of a sudden it hit me like a lightning bolt. It was in Florida, when we had dinner at a restaurant that I heard this from the lady who ran it.
Paula, my friend was a lady with grand ideas. Her goal was to make impossible to happen. One of her goal was for our group of ladybirds to have a Sari party with the 3 Indians, which was nickname for Rayyan, Farheena and me. It was so much fun when the ladybirds came, that I have forgotten the timeline of the events that took place. We had the sari party, ladybird themed game, and visit to Disney World. We had excited dogs and excited Farheena who kept asking, “People coming?” again and again. In all the hectic schedule, in between somewhere was thrown in a dinner at Family Restaurant (Not sure about the name) in Springhill. This was one of Paula’s favourite place and the cake we had there has so far remained the most favourite dessert for me. Rayyan agrees me on the super taste of this cake and I remember Judy was also very impressed by the taste.
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We, the group of ladybirds along with our families went to the restaurant for dinner and fun. Honestly, we were all a bit crazy and were enjoying to the fullest. Sharing stories, jokes and having a blast while enjoying the food as well. Farheena was shuffling between people, not sure where she should sit. There were too many wonderful people around and she did not want to miss out on anyone. Rayyan, choose a corner seat and was the only one who was being his natural self. He also kept serving water and passing on dishes to the corner where the lady who was in charge of the food was unable to go. As for us, Deb started her drama with a sausage and we were almost choking on our food. After a while, we were laughing for no reason as well. Lois, took in charge of Farheena and ensured that she had her food between the fun and laughter. Rayyan made sure that the dishes reached everyone and also helped the lady clean up the empty plates and serve the people.
As we were about to exit the restaurant, the lady came to me and started saying something which I couldn’t understand. It was too noisy with all of us talking and she was speaking with an accent I couldn’t follow easily. All I could see is that she was pointing at Rayyan most of the time and then few times at Farheena. Seeing my confusion, Paula came over quickly. I finally asked, “What did he do? Did something happen?” at which Paula threw me an angry look and was ready to defend Rayyan no matter what he had done. She found that question great insult to him and taunted me about it for many days. The lady looked at me angrily as well and said, “No, no, the child did not do anything bad. I meant he was such a darling helping me around and being so nice throughout the dinner. Even his sister is such a wonderful angel. I would like to gift them something from our store. Please don’t go, wait here”. Saying this, she left in a hurry. By then, Paula was very happy and proud because she always felt Rayyan and Farheena are her people, even closer to heart than I ever could get. The lady came back with her husband and introduced him to Rayyan and Farheena and gave them the Florida T-shirts and few antique jewellery for Farheena. She kept running to and fro to see what looked good on Farheena. She said, “Remember this is a present from us to the two most wonderful teenagers who have come to eat here. I am so happy to have them here today. Please don’t mind me saying this, but people from your region spoil children with too much of love. The children are so demanding and keep ordering us around. Even the parents keep asking them what they want from the menu, while they make fuss over the little choices available here. But this young man here is so different. He got up so often, to help me out. I hope you will be worthy of them and do not embarrass this child during your stay here”. Paula couldn’t hear what she said, but saw my changing mysterious expression and rushed to check out what was it all about. I told Paula that she told me that these two children were worthy of me. Off course she did not believe me, but we were already late and we had to leave. Paula was very happy and would share this story with many people whenever she had a chance with what the lady said to me, changing the way she wanted it to be. We took quite a while to get back into the cars. For once, Farheena completely ignored everyone and went away with Lois, without any help from Rayyan.
Now, when the hammer, its worthiness and the phrase became popular, I would be constantly reminded of the lady and what she said to me, though I have no clue why she said that. I am a great mom, but then most of the time people nonetheless look at me like I am not worthy of these two children and I cannot lift them to prove my worthiness either. A good memory though which I loved sharing.

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Farheena's happiest memories are of Sari Party
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A special gift Rayyan treasures
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Arriving at the restaurant

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The calm before the storm 

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Checking menu

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The fun is to begin

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Deb made everyone around her go crazy

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Some dramatic narration

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Begging Paula for breakfast

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In saris and suit

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Friends close to our hearts forever

Friday, August 16, 2019

100 Rays Of Son -96

Knight In Shining Armour? Nah!

 Like every regular family, unlike those few fairy tale ones, we all have our share of fights. My mom and dad, my siblings and off course my husband and I, all at times argue with each other. So far, not once has Rayyan said a word against or in support of anyone, no matter how one-sided the matter is. Many a times, I am expecting him to barge in between the two people, but he doesn’t.
As for me, when I am very angry and have thrown a deadly threat, I wish Rayyan would interfere and pull me out, so that the other person will think that if not for that guy I would have been killed today, so it is better to beware of this woman, but Rayyan never helps me out. Finally, the deadly threat ends up being just a threat and I have to come away saying, ‘I am giving you this just one more chance’; which is not as deadly anymore.
Recently, when I had a spat with my husband, Rayyan was like a person who couldn’t see or hear anything but could very much enjoy a video game. Somehow, after my threat and warning, I got intrigued by Rayyan’s behaviour and decided to talk to him. I very clearly remember that my parents wouldn’t have a single argument without us children taking one side and lending our support to one of them. Many times we would end fighting which parent is right so hard that they had to stop their fight to stop us from hitting each other. Here, this person has never felt that need at all…. How is that possible, especially when the mom is someone like me who is never on wrong side? He could support me, right? Why my son doesn’t do it? Why not support his dad at least? After nearly 25 years of watching this person just be invisible during all the chaos around him, other than those involving Farheena, I decided to find the answer.
“Rayyan, don’t you think someone could be in danger if two people are fighting? Don’t you think you should at least check it out to see that everyone is safe? No one is using physical violence to repress the other? How can you be so neutral throughout your life? How are you so impassive?” I asked. Initially when I asked those questions to Rayyan, I was expecting him to change and say sorry, but nowadays I know I will end up learning something new. “Maa, when two adults who can resolve issue peacefully or move away from each other end up arguing, fighting and hurting each other, what is left for a person like me to do? It is their choice and the consequences are theirs to deal with. Especially with a husband and wife, no one can do anything unless they themselves want to find a resolution for the conflict, because even if I interfere now, they will end up fighting again and again and whatever has to happen will happen in the end. In fact, the presence of someone else may escalate the issue, especially when one of them will feel ganged up on”.
I was right. Rayyan has some different viewpoint and insight into situations and life that I don’t have any idea about. But, as I talk to him I see truth in what he is saying. Just today, this same person was highly excited when I came back from Giggle Garden and exclaimed, “Maa come and see what I found today!” I rushed in to see him pull out one by one tiny cars, six in all. But when he wants to be philosopher, he can be one.
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I was born with a clubfoot, which made me realize in the initial stages of life itself that I have to strongly stand up for myself to stop people from dominating me or looking down upon me. Naturally, this self-defensive attitude changed into a rebellion nature against all kind of oppression, especially of those against women and children. I wanted to learn something about this from Rayyan as well. So I take up the issue of domestic violence with him and question him further, “Do you understand that in some situations some people are very cruel and dominant? Some women have no way out from the violence they suffer. Isn’t it our duty to step in and help them? How will they get the courage to escape the violence when they are scared to their bones?” I see that I am already agitated in defence of all those who suffer. Rayyan is very sure about his feelings and never even spends a minute pondering over my questions ever, “Maa, there is always a reason for someone to stay in the violent relationship,- being dependent, some belief that it is ok, not having courage to face the change or just finding solace that they are one of those sufferers who will gain something good in end. The answer is the solution to the problem itself and not what is taking place on that particular day at that particular time when we are present. Not just the person who is violent but also the sufferer and victim contributes to what is happening. It doesn’t end with someone else interfering and saving the victim. That will create the image of knight in shining armour to save the person, and they learn to wait for someone to save them. The only way out for such violence to end is, becoming strong to defend oneself. Real life is made of ordinary people with no saviours or hero”. As he talks, it looks like he is someone else, absolutely not the silly guy sleeping on batman bed-sheet. It is easy to listen and remember his words, but it is not easy for me to accept them immediately, or some of them though I appreciate, I cannot follow. I may not have his patience or tolerance for certain things. I try to probe further into this weird psyche, “So, you mean to say that if a lady in neighbourhood is being beaten by her husband, we should keep quiet and not interfere and save her?” I ask, and he says, “Maa how will you know what is happening there and what is the cause of it? Imagine a man from neighbourhood interferes and stops the man from hitting his wife, isn’t there the chance that it will become the cause of next fight? Even if that doesn’t happen, what when he hits her again? He goes in a saves her again? Can this continue? What if he brings her back home? She is safe only if he is a good guy, but if he feels he wants to hit her, then again someone has to save her, right? That is not the solution maa. At most they can call the helpline or see if the victim is actually asking for immediate help if that is one such stray incident where someone has gone crazy. If it repeats, then there is no solution for it. You can go and be a hero, if you want to, but the problem will continue”.
When I look back, I realize with lot of examples that I have witnessed in my life that the problem has ended only when the victim of domestic violence has sought solution and not with others trying to solve the issue. May be there are exceptions here like in any case, but not regularly.
We discussed this few times and slowly I realized that Rayyan believes in empowering people and not saving them. Somehow I realize that I am strong today because I stood up for myself and not because someone lent me support. Today, I feel I am a proud woman because Rayyan believed in me to defend myself and never rushed in to save me from anyone. I am sure he will laugh out loud reading this, because he takes great pride in my fighting spirit and feels I will never need to be saved but at most others may have to be saved by me.
Though, I may not to be respond like Rayyan, I have gained a new insight regarding this age old issue from this young man. Share your wisdom and enjoy your toys Rayyan.

Here is the link to the blog I had written 6 years ago…/break-silence-ring-war…

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 95

The Amazing Siblings

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Today, along with the Independence Day, Indians celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan which is a popular annual ceremony during which sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care. This would be the best day for me to write about the bond shared by Rayyan and Farheena, because it is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. Rayyan is blessed with the most loving, demanding, bossy and jealous sister in the world. If I try to write about them, it would be another series of 100 posts for sure but I will just pick some bits here today.
I never realized how protective this young lady is until recently, when we were visiting my aunt who was diagnosed with cancer. Since, my sister, brother and our respective families were going to visit her, there was no place in our car for everyone. We decided to ask Rayyan and another person to take two wheeler from my sister’s place, which Farheena was not happy with. We kept chatting for long and it was quite late when we were returning home. For some reason, Farheena was on lookout for Rayyan and kept an eye on him. Near Lalbagh, she asked us to stop the car because Rayyan was stopped. My brother checked in rear view mirror and saw that the police had stopped them. Immediately Farheena was in a panic mode. I have never seen her being rude to my brother so far, but that day, she wanted all of us to get down immediately and save her brother and go to jail instead of him. “I don’t know what you do or who goes to jail. You people put him that situation. Get him here immediately and then decide who will go to jail instead of him”. She ordered my brother out like a boss which is the only time I have seen her do that. At that moment I realized, this girl is more protective of her brother and cares for him more than any one of us. The issue was resolved easily and we reached home safely, but I learnt how protective a sister can be. Throughout the drive, she kept an eye on him.
Though I remember very minute details about Rayyan, there is a period in my life, when I cannot recollect his presence at all. For a time period of 8 months, he is not there in my memory, other than the one episode of snakes in the rain which happened during that period. This was the time between Farheena’s diagnosis and passing away of my sister. I know I have taken care of him and loved him but, I cannot recollect any of it now. It looks like the memories of those days are erased. When Rayyan first saw Farheena, he was confused because the baby must have looked very different from his imagination. He thought she would be like Baby Blink from Baby’s Day Out. 
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The day Farheena came home
He was afraid even to touch her. After that I cannot recollect anything about how they bonded, how they interacted with each other or what happened, until a year later. This is the only phase of Rayyan’s life I have forgotten.
When Farheena was growing up, until the age of 4, the only interaction she had with children was with Rayyan. We shifted next to BCH & RC for ease of her physiotherapy and treatment, and it was very lonely out there. Rayyan had few of his school friends, but Farheena had no one. She started looking forward to playing with Rayyan when he was back from school and he would eagerly entertain her. By then, Rayyan had taken up a lot of responsibilities of his sister and would help me in her suggested therapy at home. There is high possibility that the loneliness where most of the time they had only each other to play with, that must have created a strong bond between them. Since the time I can recollect, they have been fond of each other.
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The memorable walks 
Since I have involved Rayyan in every activity, he became a part of her life. Be it walks, games, celebrations or her therapy, Rayyan was there. Slowly, she gained more confidence in him as well. If we would tell her that she will become strong with an exercise, she would look at Rayyan and ask “Yes Piyya?” Piyya is for Bhaiyya which means brother and ‘P’ is substituted for most words in her language. That is an eternal question, which often crops up even today. It is really cute the way she asks it and will never question its substantiality/authenticity once he confirms it. Rayyan would often be in dilemma when he did not know how good the object or issue in question was but the big people were telling his little sister it was good for her, and she wanted him to confirm it for her. He was under tremendous pressure.
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Listening to stories together
Sometimes it is hilarious how she responds to Rayyan. There was safety education about how she should protect herself from abuse in her vocational centre. They told her, no men are allowed to touch her and she should stop them if they did. When Rayyan came back from college and sat with her, “Smack!” she slapped him. As we both looked at her flabbergasted, she explained, “He is a boy, he shouldn’t come near me”. From next day onwards she was fine again. Sigh!
Once when I was busy cooking and asked Farheena to wake up Rayyan, I heard her calling out to him twice and then she caught him by his foot and threw him down on floor. Rayyan, somehow enjoys all the antics of Farheena, though I reprimand her and ask her to be nice to him, which is a struggle; because I find it very funny as well.
Even though Rayyan is the one who regularly expresses his love for her, she shows it when he is in danger or away. I clearly remember the second time I had hit Rayyan when he was made to lie to me by one of his dear one. I was under tremendous financial pressure back then and lost my cool, after which I promised myself never to touch him or even scold him, no matter what happened. I am ashamed of those two times I have hit him, and it is very embarrassing to write here. I remember Farheena crawling up between me and Rayyan and standing holding him, since she wasn’t stable on her feet yet and demanding to be hit along with him or for me to stop hitting him. To prove how anger makes us completely blind and stupid, she got few whacks as well but neither did she cry nor did she move. She was just around 5 years then. On the other hand, Rayyan’s defence of Farheena has been a bad prick to my heart, where I feel quite ashamed and never repeat the same mistake with her. If not for such moments, we can assume that Farheena is a very jealous sibling who hates playing second fiddle to her brother. Many can recall the messages of how she is missing her American friends, or posts on my timeline of her cutting tomatoes, potatoes and helping me shows her attention seeking tactics and conspiracies to get the limelight focus back on her and to stop me from writing #100RaysOfSon. She never allows him to talk to me for more than two sentences before starting her own chatter. At times, when we are enjoying a good movie, she will plop between us even if she is completely uninterested in the movie.
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Lets take a selfie 

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The next moment ,,,,
Even though Rayyan doesn’t declare that he is going to be her caretaker, she does it so often. If he is late, she will try to locate him and check out whether he had his dinner. She wants to wake up along with him, even if she doesn’t have to go for work. Once, I told Farheena that I will not bother about calling him when he is late once he is married, because his wife will do it for him, Farheena was furious. “How can he not be my brother or your son, just because he got married? You have to take care of him as long as he is your son and my brother”. She ended it as though there was no scope for further discussion. She is like his guardian and I am somehow the chosen person who does the task that is assigned to me.
Rayyan is what is he is, mostly due to presence of Farheena in his life. His perception of life, values and other traits are highly influenced by her and her simplicity of understanding things.
As for me, though initially I wanted them to share the bond and live together, as adults I am not sure what life has in store for them. Though it is nice to know that Rayyan wants to be there for Farheena as long as he can, I am not sure if that is possible. I don’t want him to compromise on his life either. Recently, when I was thinking about Rayyan being married, many people said, that girls would hesitate to marry him if he becomes her caretaker, because it is a huge responsibility. That was worrying me and when I brought it up with Rayyan, he says just one simple sentence, “Maa, Farheena will be my filter. Whoever will pass her and come into my life will be free of impurities”. But at present, we have not taken any decision regarding future of Farheena because life has been changing every year for us. It has taken unusual but positive turns. Also, I am not sure how long I will survive either and be there for Farheena. So at present, instead of forcing a change on them, I am allowing Rayyan as well as his life to take its own course. I wish them both happy life ahead.

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Farheena panicked when Rayyan went crazy looking at the cake

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Oh no... he is trying to eat it whole

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Farheena takes charge and trains him to cut the cake
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Signature elbow hit of Farheena... she still does it

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Doesn't even know why they are fighting for ... 
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The outfit Rayyan lovingly picked for Farheena...I thought it was expensive, yet he insisted

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Imitating the brother 
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The original 

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Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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