Pets and us.

Pets and us.

My pet dog, Chikoo, entered our world when we were not even thinking about getting home a pet. Well, that’s Life, isn’t it? It’s what happens when we are busy planning Life!

So, in walked Chikoo, muddy paws and wagging tail, announcing his arrival by peeing on the doormat and making a permanent home in our hearts.

Pet story.

Pets, I believe, come into the lives of those they choose. Chikoo chose us to fill the vacuum in our world and to teach us all about parenting–caring for a tiny being and putting others before us.

However, forgive me for saying this, but I believe not all are worth being pet parents. I know, this statement comes across rather harsh, but what else does one think of when one finds pets abandoned in their old age, or in their sickness?

There are countless such incidents we read or hear about, where a pet dog, or cat has been shown the door just because they grew older and became too much to handle. A responsibility to be shirked instead of fulfilled.

People bring home pedigreed pups and kittens to fulfil their children’s demands, but as the pets grow and their needs change, they become a “burden” people wish to get rid of as soon as they can! If caring for an animal is going to be such a ‘task’, then why bring home a pet, at all? Get a stuffed toy if your child demands a cuddly animal!

Giving them the necessary attention becomes too much of a hassle and people rarely pause to think things over before abandoning the poor creatures by the road side, to fend for themselves in a harsh world that’s so cruel towards animals.

There are also people who believe in maiming animals to suit their idea of how they should be!

Confused? Read on…

Once, on visiting a neighbourhood pet shop, I noticed a Doberman pup who looked listless and distressed. I wondered why I saw the sorrow in his eyes when I looked up to see his ears. The shop owner had coiled its ears and tied them up tightly with a string to make them pointy – the kind we generally find on a Doberman Pinscher.

I was shocked! I asked the shop owner why he had done so, to which he replied that that was how the dog’s future owners wanted it! It was, indeed, a revelation to me! The sadness and the pain in the pup’s eyes tore at my heart, but I felt helpless.

Would anybody do that to their own children? I feel, the way people treat their pets, speaks a lot about the people, themselves. And, the way they treat others.

This chopping off of the tail, tying the ears to make them stand tall and pointy – all of it infuriates me no end. I mean, what sort of cruel heart must beat within such people!

They do give custom made a whole new meaning, don’t they?

I have heard horrid tales of how people disown their pets when the animals are most in need of their love.

A family abandoned (read, discarded) their pet Doberman when she was pregnant–they actually flung her over the walls of a shelter for animals. When the workers heard a ‘thud’, they rushed to find the poor soul writhing in pain on the ground. Another tied up their old German Shepherd to a lamp post, leaving the animal in the heavy rains that lashed the city a couple years ago.

Oh god, each time I come across such news, I wince in pain. I wonder how their hands don’t shiver while in the act. It’s a living, breathing creature, for heaven’s sake! Don’t they have the thing called, ‘conscience’? Do they not pay heed to that inner voice which may berate them for the sin they commit?

I believe pets should be pampered and cared for like ones own babies, for the kind of unconditional love they shower on us finds no comparisons. We never get that kind of love, or loyalty, even from our closest family members. But, our pets live for us from the moment they enter our world to the moment they leave.

The day my Chikoo breathed his last, his eyes had only love for us. And concern. He passed away last year, but his memories bring tears to my eyes even today. I haven’t been able to get over his loss.

Even as I type these words, I have tears in my eyes. Finding the right keys on the keyboard seems difficult. But, that’s the kind of effect our pets have on us!

Whether we love them, or ill-treat them, the love they shower on us is the kind we, frankly, do not deserve!

And, for all that they do for us, isn’t it our responsibility to love them and to cherish them, in sickness and in health, in richer or poorer, till death do us part?

P. S.

I did not need to add a question mark in the image below. Those three fur babies are doing it for me!

Treat your pets like your babies

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

                 I had my first period at the age of 12, and today, as I sense  menopause peeping from round the corner, I remember a statement made by a professor way back in college:

Celebrate menstruation! It is what makes you a woman!”

Golden words, those, considering, we women hate this thing we would like to think of as  an affliction! When I first learnt about it, I wondered if only women in our country suffered from it! Hilarious, I know, but in my day and  age, innocence still existed. With no Internet to illuminate us with information, we were too naive to understand life and her ways.  Discussing such taboo topics with elders was considered to be strict no-no. Mother did advice me on what I was supposed to do if something “went wrong” in her absence. But, Dad was not to be consulted as he had no knowledge about anything of the sort!
I would often wonder when I would be rid of this monthly trauma, and so once  badgered mother to tell me when I would become a free bird.  She muffled a laugh, wrapped me in her arms and enlightened me  that my periods would be my companion for more than half of my lifetime! I almost fainted.
Mother would recount tales of how  women from olden days were treated  during those few days  of the month. They would have to stay in an outhouse, or some dark and dingy room all by themselves and their plates of food would be pushed towards them through the door left ajar for such tasks, lest they “touched” someone and contaminated them.
They were forbidden from entering temples and kitchens, for they were impure. And if by mistake they did brush past someone, then that person had to have an immediate bath!  I was aghast at that piece of news! I also found out how certain practices  existed when I was young. Maybe they do so now, too! Maybe the way it is considered a taboo and has laws pertaining to behaviour during those days,is the reason why it  is looked down upon as an exasperating issue  rather than just another bodily function.
Some years ago, mother had invited some guests at her place and some religious rituals also had to be performed. I was on my period precisely at that time, but I decided to keep mum about it and help mother, lest all the work fell on her shoulders. As I went about completing the chores, I wondered why God, who created us, would consider His children to be impure because of something He Himself had blessed them with! How could our God be so petty? I confessed to mother a few days later fearing the worst. But, mother was a lot more progressive in her views than I gave her credit for and accepted my views proudly! I wish every mother would be like mine.
I  know that I am hurting sentiments by saying such things; I am aware how strongly some people feel about it. I have also read about some “scientific reasons” behind these so called laws. However, treating periods as a natural physiological occurrence, like urinating, would be a lot more sensible, isn’t it? Also, discussing it with girls, as well as boys, when they come of age, and making them aware of the various eco-friendly products that can be used during periods, would help create the awareness it so deserves. Doing away with age-old laws and  assuming a  more progressive outlook will help the  Naari lead a better and a happier life.

*Linking this post to Write Tribe #Period Pride.

Through the looking glass.

Through the looking glass.

                     I stared at the open wardrobe, engulfed in a feeling of numbness.  The sarees, the countless blouses, the innumerable bindi and safety pin packets (some half-used, some empty), and the scores of plastic bags  and paper cuttings stored in every nook and corner, left me unsettled. The wardrobe that I had planned on sorting and cleaning, seemed to hold countless stories of my mother-in-law. It had belonged to her.  It had held her precious belongings for years.  It had been her world, her domain.
My mother-in-law  passed away exactly four months ago, due to multiple organ failure. And, the complications arose due to the abuse her body had been through because of years of suffering from the dreaded illness – schizophrenia. The debilitating electric shocks she received in the early years  ( before meeting the psychiatrist, who was a blessing in disguise),  the number of anti depressants and drugs she had to consume to maintain her equilibrium, had all left her system weak and defenceless. In hindsight, her end came by so quickly, as if she was waiting to be whisked away from this world of suffering.    It all seemed  very well planned – well  planned by her destiny.
However, it is the destiny of others like her, that I wonder about, worry about.  Many a times, we read about mentally ill patients being mistreated because of their illness,  because of lack of knowledge of their illness. Being chained to a post, or  confined to a room, away from sunlight and  fresh air, hidden from  the world, they lead a pathetic life. There are also some, who get forsaken by their families, and live their  lives getting battered by life on the mean streets. And, all this for no fault of theirs.
I won’t say life was not tough for us.  It was a battle, which we fought, but, with a lot of help and support from our angel – our psychiatrist.  How many people, who suffer at the hands of a mental illness, receive the care they deserve?  Mental illness, in our country, is completely misunderstood.  Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorder, all of these, as we know,   fall under  this category and have a great many myths surrounding it;  myths that hinder the treatment that should be started at its earliest.
It is not only the myths, but also our attitude towards mental illness, which further proves to be  a hurdle  in its  treatment and care. The social stigma attached to mental illness is the sufferer’s undoing. The inability to notice  the symptoms, accept the reality that there is a problem, and share it with the society we live in, has a number of repercussions on the sufferer, leading to a  delay in the treatment. Why is it that diseases like diabetes and cardiac problems get tagged as lifestyle diseases, and receive  all the limelight, while mental illness gets swept under the carpet?
Timely diagnosis and its treatment and care can give patients a fair chance to  live the life that they are entitled to live, and  reach their potential. My mother- in- law was a fabulous cook. Watching cookery shows and then experimenting in the kitchen was all that her life was all about. It was a constant source of happiness for her and she could make use of her potential only because of the medical treatment she received all these years. The happiness that exuded from her every pore after preparing a brilliant recipe was incomparable! It was during those moments she spent in the kitchen that she really came alive.
She was also fond of dressing up. Wherever she had to go, whatever occasion she had to attend, she would dress up immaculately. People found it hard to believe she was a patient of a mental illness so grave as schizophrenia! Her ability to indulge in her hobbies, to live her life the way she liked, was all possible only because of her treatment. And, I am glad we could give her those moments of happiness in a life fraught with struggles.
The side effects of the drugs she took were plenty, but she never let those get in the way of her and her passion. I remember the tremors in  her hands, and how, in spite of them, the quantity of salt or spices in a particular recipe would always be accurate. Those moments of sheer bliss that she experienced sure must have been manna from heaven for  the poor soul. How I wish that the scores of souls suffering a similar fate could be given one chance at living the life they truly deserve!
There are helplines, therapy, counselling  for the patients as well as the care givers, which can go a long way in rehabilitating the patients of mental illness and help them lead better lives, as well as help their families and care givers by  guiding them  in their treatment and care. Awareness regarding mental illness is being carried out to quite an extent, but, it’s the stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be dealt with. We, as a society, have come a long way in accepting certain realities of life, accepting people and their varied ways of living. Then, why are we unable to accept an illness, which is not the fault of the sufferers?
I am hopeful that in the years to come, mental illness will be viewed in a better light and given the attention it deserves.  And, this in turn, will go a long way in banishing the  shame and disgrace attached to it, giving its patients a well-deserved chance to living their life to its fullest.

Let there be change.

Let there be change.

          Every morning, when I skim through the newspaper, my eyes  search for a particular piece of news, which I actually dread reading: a sexual assault here, a gruesome rape there, the lenient laws of our country which fail to offer hope to the victims, and the accusations that fly thick and fast, landing blows on the victims in the worst periods of their life.  Careless statements like, “it surely must be the woman’s fault”, or, “she must have been dressed inappropriately”, or even, “she behaved in such a way, she asked for it”, get thrown around so casually by the heartless public, it embarrasses me no end.  Seriously, do we ask for it?!
As much as I remember, I did NOT ask for it when I was just 14 years old, decently dressed in a salwar kameez, holding my mother’s hand, trying  to enter a crowded ladies compartment of a train, when a male hand, with long, sharp fingernails  groped me, pinched me and disappeared into the crowd, leaving me badly hurt and shaken. I also  did NOT ask for it, when I got spanked  in a crowded street  by a  boy, who was out to have fun with his rowdy friends, leaving me thunderstruck.  And, I certainly did NOT ask for it, when, as an 8 year old, I was violated by my tutor –  the teenaged son of our family friends, whom I looked up to  like an elder brother.
Each and every ‘incident’ (and some more)  happened  years ago, but I remember it so vividly, as if it were  yesterday! The disgust, the shame and the guilt attached to it came without an expiry date. Even now, it leaves me feeling nauseated. So, when I think about those unfortunate souls, who have been harassed and tortured in worse ways, I shudder to think, how long, before they breathe freely, sleep peacefully?
Such incidents rarely, if ever, get erased from our memory. The fear, the trauma that stays behind, breeds a  wariness of people, that refuses to die with time.  Each time I hear about little girls being tutored by   a male teacher, I pray the teacher doesn’t have a devil hidden somewhere within him. Every time I see young girls, lost in thoughts, or listening music on  their iPods while walking through a busy street, I pray for their safety. Not all are capable of fighting back. I wasn’t. I was too young and terrified when it happened.
I know, after reading about my experiences, people might wonder why I speak about such embarrassing incidents. There will also be others, who might say,”Such things keep happening. Why didn’t she slap the guy?”  Well, first of all, it wasn’t I, who  committed the sin. Therefore, I don’t feel ashamed speaking about it. In fact, I think we must voice our experiences, so that we know we aren’t alone. And, secondly, does ‘such things being quite common’  give permission to men to behave lecherously, and treat women as  objects meant to be pawed at?
However, the worst part of it is, when the victims get blamed for such crimes. I agree, that not every place is a safe haven for women to roam freely, dressed as per their likes. But, not every sexual assault takes place in a dark and dingy lane, where women are found loitering around in the skimpiest of outfits! These crimes take place in broad daylight, in the busiest of places, among known people, and with women covered from head to toe in traditional  outfits. Correct me if I am wrong.
It’s  time we pointed fingers at the culprit, instead of  finding faults in the victims of sexual harassment.  Let’s not forget there are daughters in every home.  Heaven forbid, if someday, some of those little girls fall prey to  such evil, won’t you hunt down those beasts for their blood?  Or, will you ask your girls, why they weren’t dressed appropriately, or reproach them for having asked for it? Or, ask them why they simply stood there, instead of retaliating?
Victims of sexual harassment deserve a sympathetic understanding of their ordeals, and not those  accusing fingers pointing at their ‘flawed characters’.  Just peep into those hearts, which thudded with horror, when their bodies were being attacked in such brutal ways; just feel those  wounds, which were inflicted on those innocent souls, and which are still raw and hurting. You will feel the pain they experience when inundated by scornful statements, which get sprinkled liberally at the first instance of an attack on their modesty.
Today, we strive to make our society a safer place for women. But, will we really be able to achieve it unless we  punish – and banish – the devil that resides in every mind? Shouldn’t we be making the laws stricter for the perpetrators, than ordering a decent dress code? Shouldn’t we be shaming the culprits, and bringing them out in the open, to be skinned alive in order to teach the rest of them a lesson?
A little change in our attitude, a lot of change in our laws, will definitely work towards ensuring  a safer world for every human being. Is that a lot to ask?