Friday, October 09, 2015

Whose place is this anyway ?

I have this firm belief that there is a lot for us to learn from the way the human body is set up and works. 

It has all the elements of our existing societies  built in,  and we need to study that to look for solutions  in our troubled human societies .

I just read this article, "Who's Living with whom?  Bacterial Cells Vs Human cells in the body ".

Please do read the article.

It is not about who owns the body . It is not about who came first . And it is not about who is good and who is bad.  

From the time we are born, our bodies, in the highest tradition of Atithee Devo Bhava  and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,  play host to a huge amount of bacteria . It could be from human contact with other humans, or due to our newborn proclivity to pick up everything and first stick it inside the mouth.   At any given time, the ration of bacterial cells to human cells , is like 10 to 1.

The thing to understand, is that NOT all the bacteria are classified as the enemy. Over the years a whole bunch gets inside our bodies and settles down in the gut; that is stomach and intestines.  It is known that there are at least 500 species of bacteria that have settled down in the human body.

They are known to do several things. 

They help in the digestion of foods by appropriate breaking down of the food like complex carbs, the various B vitamins and the amino acids, into stuff our body can readily use.

And they also help handle "outsider" stuff like  foreigner pharmaceutical chemical stuff , which is new to the body systems.  

Another thing they do , is "Occupy" . They crowd out spaces , and colonize, and effectively deny  places to outsider disease pathogens that might want to settle in an cause a disturbance to the balance of the human body. And so we come to the conclusion, that  our ability to fight infections, keep our bodies running well in dynamic balance with all the other body systems , really owes a lot to the bacterial occupations, and their synergy and respect they might have developed for human cells. 

Our gut, is often called the 2nd brain.  Which is not a myth, but a fact. More brain cells or neurons are found in the gut, than, say, in the spinal cord.  This is called the enteric nervous system and it produces 2 neuro transmitters (brain cell messengers) that have a lot do with mental afflictions when their imbalance happens.  What we eat, how it is is processed, and how the gut brain responds , has a lot to do with the performance of these bacteria in the gut.

And now you will understand, why so many cultures in Asia/India, have traditionally had fermented foods as part of their diet.  A natural encouragement for the good bacteria to colonize.

So why do I get so delighted with all this knowledge ?

Because, like the article that triggered this range of thoughts, we have reached a state in our country's social set up, where we are now demanding "Who's living with whom? " and  "who  has the right to do what ....."

Some folks think they are the host, some others think they are the bacteria. And vice versa.  Some folks think the bacteria are bad, and after a  time, end up appreciating them and changing their opinion.

Some of the bacteria are sometimes more loyal to the body than the human cells.  And instead of applauding like in the body,  we start suspecting them of having a ulterior motive.

In times of danger and external attacks, the bacteria and human cells, neighbors over generations, fight the intruder as one.  Sometimes though , victory is a long winded process, as the intruder bacteria, manage to interfere in processes, possibly momentarily fool the human and good bacteria.  

There are a lot of knowledgeable, well meaning folks in society. But sometimes, personal material imbalances  tilt the societal balance, and they fall prey to planned bad advice from those that are hell bent on disrupting the  stability of the situation.

Like in the human body, external medications, pharmacological solutions exist, but always with side effects, and  we as a society are so oblivious to them as we go overboard , in what could be solutions, with immediate impact but with disastrous long term consequences.

And we simply do not understand that the solution lies in everyone playing their enlightened role to improve the balances in society.  There is no individual win or loss. 

And so the question to be asked is not "Who is living with whom?" but  "Now that we are living together , how can we make the best possible use of the situation, and create new learnings and processes, so as to make it a healthier society ?".

It doesn't matter who is the human cell and who is the bacteria.

What is important is to note that both need to coexist.

Having said all this,  one must say that elements of our anatomy, have a great amount of respect for those that oversee their living and prospering.  Occasionally, the brain may issue fatwas , leading to inflammations and pains.  But these are always with a view to giving the rest of the anatomy practice in what they do best, and teaching some entity of our anatomy a lesson.  

Which is learnt.

And that seems to be the basic difference .

The body learns.

We , of the supremely brilliant evolved cerebral cortex,  simply don't.   

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Digital, digital !

There is this big campaign happening currently where the key word is Digital. And it worries me. Because "digits" means fingers , and fingers belong to humans.

Hundreds of moons ago, I used to work  in  field which was politely called Data Processing.

I would talk to clients, study systems, design systems , program them in whatever language was popular then,  test them, prepare instruction manuals, and one fine day, the system went into production with live actual data.  It was a world of punched cards,  readers, voluminous paper outputs, and stringent data checks with lots of man-machine interactions.

What came out of all this, was "information" , regarding, say, inventories, funds, personnel, etc etc, which presumably was looked at by the managers.

Then PC's arrived, and "data" suddenly became "information", or at least pretended to be. Something appearing on a screen gave it a lot of sanctity, like the Gandhi cap being worn by folks for a similar effect.

Data Processing suddenly became Information Technology.  The sad part , was , that in many cases, humans at managerial levels could not keep up with the speed of Intel Inside, erroneous data migrated through the system like folks coming daily into Mumbai, and becoming untraceable.

In many cases there was loss of security, ie,  complete uncertainty about who could change what data, officially.   I had personal experience of many such episodes .

There was a time when on the 15th of every month, a large sum (by middle class standards)  would be credited to my account and then debited on the 17th. It was not me doing this or anyone I recognised . This was at a well known nationalised bank. I was intrigued, and someone even told me to go withdraw money on the 16th just to see what would happen. When I asked at the bank, they directed me to their HQ computer room, and asked me to check there. I was told that some data came on a CD from some agency, and it was processed regularly. The HQ man offered to show the CD data, and I ended up telling him the commands to open the file and read, since I knew the software and he didn't.   Back to the bank branch, and after much personal investigation, it turned out that the branch manager had no clue about account codification, and  someone at an extension counter was given the same account code as mine at the regular branch. Instead of correcting this (assuming that they called this a mistake), they found it simpler to credit and debit large sums in my account. This went on for 6 months till I raised a hue and a cry.

Then there was a time when I retired and  it was mandatory to create a pension account. Used to having joint accounts, I was informed that this would be a single named account where the nominee would always be the spouse. This was at India's premier nationalized bank. I wanted the bank to realize that making children your nominee was a more sensible thing, but there was no choice. Then one day, I applied for a new chequebook on that account.  Gone were the days when you got chequebooks free. It came by post, my account was debited with charges, and when I checked , I was aghast to find that the single name printed at the bottom of each check was the spouse's. I slogged for donkeys years, retired, created a pension account in a single name, and the bank still managed to put the wrong name. On visiting the bank, the officer glared at me , and told me they would send me a new chequebook, but I would be charged again for the postage.  He had the right to make stupid mistakes, but no right to waive the charges.

Then there was a Security situation in the place where i used to work, and the spouse still did. Every resident of the campus had family ID cards, mentioning dependents etc. When the status of the spouse temporarily changed  a few years ago, both of us got new id cards. Then they said that the daughter, defined as a dependent for decades on our records , would be given a  "daily entry pass" which would need monthly renewals and signatures at the gates.  I wondered about the "entry" since we already lived inside.   It was only when I raised a hue and cry , insisted on turning in our id cards , demanded daily entry passes for us too, promised to sign in at the gates everyday and approached the section head, that someone saw the problem and solved it.

The problem turned out to be that the right to change data for a person was erroneously granted to security section when it should have been administration (which maintains personal and family  data for a given employee) . As a result,  newly created  designations having to do with specially bestowed honors on an employee , completely confuse  a section which has no clue about it.Sorry to say, the state of affairs still continues.....

It is not just us.  Courier company delivery people make deliberate wrong entries on digital tracking records saying "party unavailable", "residence locked" etc  when you have been at home the whole day.  All this to avoid an inconvenient  delivery. Sort of using the system to beat the system.

I worry about going completely digital.  I worry about  the people who make it their life's mission to devise tricks and shortcuts given a system .

But then there are also those who are sticklers for rules. Even if it means changing a fact of life .  Or should I say , death.

Post my father's passing away, I was involved with applying for the requisite certificates and documents, and was surprised to see a very well organized set of steps everyone had to follow.  You applied at a counter, submitted the required papers, mentioned the number of copies. They cross checked it for details , with the  paperwork from the cremation place , and you returned 2-3 days later to collect the death certificates.

I lived in another city and made a trip just to collect these certificates. When I enquired at the window, I was told that the date of expiry , on the doctors certificate and cremation certificate appeared to differ, and the change could only be done at the Municipal Head Quarters, some distance away , at a section , where only one person had the rights to modify data .  I rushed in an auto, and wandered through some unlabelled dark labyrinths at the Head Quarters, till I reached an office populated with just two people. A boss and an data entry person.  They effected the change in the blink of an eye, I asked to see the modified record on screen, and I rushed back to get my certificate copies before the place closed for lunch.

Digital or not. I was just pleased to see someone somewhere following rules. ....

Omar Khayaam once wrote " The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,......"

Clearly, he was an analogue type. He simply did not know what havoc a  digital tapping finger could bring......

Friday, September 25, 2015

Story no 1 : Ilaa's Story

The Times of India initiated a Write India Campaign a few months ago. Eleven popular authors  would participate. Each month, a given author would indicate a certain passage, and the idea was those interested in participating would  include this passage and develop a short story and submit it.  There would be 10 stories highlighted each month, and one winner declared, who would win a Kindle.
Amish Tripathy of the Shiva Triology fame, was the first author. The passage he specified is indicated below in red.  There were some facts mentioned (as far as I can recall) about depiction of women as progressive in 17th century Paithan, and one was expected to research this. 

The first month results are out, and while it is very clear  that one is not amongst the talented top 10, and possibly, somewhere beyond  3 digits in rank, it has been a fun thing to participate in.  

The second and third months submissions for Chetan Bhagat and Ashwin Sanghi respectively, based on their specified passages ,  have been done. 

My Amish Tripathy specified submission appears below. 

Ilaa's Story 

Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named Ilaa. Being cotton farmers, her family was well to do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmers grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak!
But Ilaa was not to be found in the fields. She wasn't working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.

'I am sick of this!' she grunted loudly.

The wind changed across the  river, and she had to hold her long tresses down with her slender fingers, to stop them from covering her face.  She turned and began tracing designs in the sands where she sat.  She was a natural artist, and loved drawing designs on walls and floors with rice flour, but had run out of space in her house.  She was often confused about what she wanted to do.  She certainly did not want to be a cotton picker all her life.  She composed songs, Powadas,   in praise of Shivaji Maharaj , and wrote them in secret.   But she loved and respected her father, who thought she should be helping the family in this yearly process.   And so she would go to the fields from time to time. 

Her brothers had a person come by, thrice a week to help them learn the three R’s.  She would stand behind the door, and listen, till one day her father noticed and allowed her to join her brothers.

This was something unusual.  Baba  Paithankar,  knew she was special.   Years ago, after he and his wife Bhama had despaired of having children,   he found this little baby girl in his fields.  Thankful for this “prasadam” from the almighty, he took her home, and he and his wife raised her.  As if miraculously, they then had children of their own, both sons.  But she, Ilaa, remained the eldest.    Baba named her after King Ila, the founder  of the city, who  , as story had it, strayed into Lord Shiva’s forest one day and was “cursed”  with becoming a woman. Mediation by sages and intense prayers  converted this, to a month as  woman and a month as man,  completely  messing  up his/her  psyche.

She picked herself up, brushed the sand of her skirt and ran home.  The idea was to be seen doing something useful, by the time the family reached home for a meal break.  Plucking the cotton was hard work, and they would continue into the hot afternoon.

Ilaa Paithankar’s mind was  split.  She probably carried the methylated DNA  of the old King .

In a  conservative powerful city with  so  many  patron saints and gods,  her mind  would  have  been forced  to confirm to , what was typically expected  of a  young  beautiful adolescent  girl;  it was sheer providence that she lived a bit outside the city  close to her family fields.    

An  afternoon  spent adorning the prayer room floor with  her designs, and  she sat down dreamily to pen her thoughts on the leaves  with one of the huge collection of reeds that she maintained.   She now had a decent collection, and only one person knew about it.

Jairam  Harshe.   The son of the old priest in Paithan’s oldest temple.

He was a friend of her brother, and  was himself trained in the religious texts as well as  a great speaker and communicator, having liased between the city leaders, and the merchants who travelled each year to Paithan to sell their wares.  He admired Ilaa’s writings, and encouraged her quietly, often wandering  on the riverbanks at sunset, when she would come by to fill water.

A shadow fell across Ilaa, as she straightened up after filling the second  handa .   It was Jairam, and she smiled as he looked at her, clearly unable to contain his excitement.

“I just heard.  Shivaji Maharaj  is expected  soon .  My father just received word.  The procession will reach by tomorrow, and there is to be an announcement.   I have been told to be present. Will you be there ?”    he  said,  trying not to reveal too much.

She adjusted the handas, smiled up at him .   He had his answer.   He walked a part of the way with her, and then speeded up as the city path appeared .

Ilaa was excited. She had heard about Shivaji Mahraj.   His exploits as a young ruler, his magnanimity,  his sense of justice,  and his secular outlook.   Brought up solely by his mother,  Jijabai,  he grew up , immensely respecting women and their capabilities.    His procession would pass by their farm on the way to the city.  And she wasn’t just going to stand and gape.  Not her style.  

There was something providential in why Jairam had told her what he did.

The next morning she got up before dawn,  and  rushed down to the roadside  with her red Geru powder and rice powder;  one would be made into a paste to color  some patches, and the rice flour would be used to do her designs on those patches.  
She  laboured on,  inspired,  as she  did design after design  depicting the  reign of Shivaji,   his mother , his childhood,  nature,  flowers, temples, and Gods.  The family , not finding her at home, was shocked to find her there, but  not too concerned.  Her father was very appreciative, and her mother came by with a bowl of rice gruel, to sustain her through the morning.  What they didn’t know, was that wrapped in a piece of cloth along with the powders,  was her entire sheaf of poems, inscribed on leaves. 

She would welcome Shivaji Maharaj  in her own way.

A welcome sound of hooves, and drums woke her from a reverie into which she had slipped.  There was dust  flying up into the air in the distance,  as the sounds came closer.  She stood up.  It wouldn’t do for the  horses  to ride rough shod over  her  rice flour art.  She stood in the middle of the path, her leaf inscribed poems in her hands, folded in welcome.     

The next hour was magical.  The approaching royal company slowed down ,  and the eminences got down to  view her art.   She bowed  in respect , and then uncovered her leaf manuscripts, and then , in a voice full of emotion,  sang the first few notes  of her powadas  in a full voice, that even had the horses  pay attention .   It was as if the trees stopped to listen, and the branches and  leaves applauded after every stanza.   

As  was the custom then, the family served simple tasty  horsegram gruel  to the travelers to energize and welcome them;  nothing fancy, but just what they really needed.  None of this, was planned  by  the family as a team. Only Ilaa’s activity was preplanned.  It was a credit to her father’s  enlightened  attitude that she was allowed to get on with what she wanted to do, while the family  did  everything  else  in indulgent support and good rural hospitality.

Shivaji Maharaj appeared to be pleased, and he sent his aide with a message for Baba Paithankar.   Maharaj  would be pleased to have Baba attend , with his family,  the session at the main temple in Paithan , the next day, where he would be holding court.

Even the sun dawned early the next day out of sheer curiousity,  as a  family, dressed in their finest , set out in their bullock cart towards Paithan. 

Ilaa had never been there ;  just once when she was a child, and she tried in vain to look for landmarks as they approached the temple.   Brilliant decorations ,  flowers,  silks, carpets on the paths, and a welcoming committee were seen guiding citizens  to the sitting area. Some simply stood in awe.   Jairam was seen rushing around running errands for his father, now too old to anything but the actual rituals. He stood on the podium, watching a sea of faces , all agog and waiting for the arrival of  Shivaji  Maharaj.

The arrival  of  Maharaj, at the predecided auspicious moment , was heralded  by the blowing of a conch shell, and  throwing of flowers and rice confetti in his path.  The Conch shells were not intrinsically a Paithan custom, but thanks to the city’s  prominence  in the  traders’  world,  and the  fact that traders from across the world came there,   the people of Paithan learned to appreciate auspicious customs and imbibed them.

Several prayers and blessing in honor of Shivaji Maharaj   having been completed, his chief aide, got up to make announcements, in response to a look and a gesture from Maharaj.    

“ We have great pleasure in announcing  the new priest  as the head of this temple complex.  The incumbent ,   Laxmanrao Harshe ,  having served the temple and the people with exemplary service ad courage,  is getting on n years, and had requested  us to appoint a successor.   Shivaji Maharaj  has great pleasure to announce that  this post will be now held by Shri  Jairam Harshe,   who  has proved himself  worthy with his scholarly activities, people connect, and   mastery of religious studies. “

Jairam  slowly walked forward, head bent in respect.   Presented with a  shawl, a scroll spelling out his appointment, and an  auspicious coconut , he walked backwards to one side on the dias  and looked up, to see  everyone  applauding and cheering  amidst slogans of Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai.  He saw Ilaa and her family off to one side, and smiled .  It was meant for Ila.  

But Shivaji Maharaj noticed it too. And he smiled.  Not because everyone was smiling,  but because of what he planned to announce next.

His aide held up his hand, and the crowd  quietened   down  to a low buzz. 
“Shivaji Maharaj takes great pleasure is announcing a new appointment.   That of the Poet Royale of  Paithan.    A life time post .    Commissioned to write the history of kingdoms, people, and in particular, women,  through  poetry and art.  With great pleasure, we announce that the first holder of this honored post will be Kum.  Ilaa Paithankar .”

For a while there was total silence.  In the crowd,   as well  as on the faces of the Paithankar family.  This was too sudden, too unexpected.  Poet Royale,  and  that too a woman. 

But then ,  everyone realized , this was Paithan, and here was Shivaji Maharaj.  There was appreciation of capabilities, and your gender did not matter.  This was a land of saints  , both  men and women,  each so  special;  of warriors, and mothers of warriors.  And the tradition simply continued.

Jija,  Jairam’s mother , motioned to Ilaa to come, and led her up to the Maharaj, and stepped back herself.  A  Silk saree   in 9 yards  , a green cloth and rice  was offered and she accepted with gratitude . She bent at touched the feet of the elders. 

Baba Paithankar  could only stare, wide eyed, as his wife wiped the tears from her eyes.  They always knew Ilaa  was special.  It was their secret.    The family bent low and did namaskars to  Maharaj.   Jairam looked on, a pleased smile on his face.  He hoped the future would hold what he thought it would hold. For him and for Ilaa. 

The special Court session having concluded, the city  bid farewell to Shivaji Maharaj, at the gates of the city, as he continued his tour. 

The Paithankars,  sans Ilaa  went back to their farm. 

She would be an icon  in the years to come , with her sensitivity, her artistry and her evocative poetry.

He family knew  she was special, she realized she was special,  but it took  a century to realize really how special she really was.

Long after she was gone,  she inspired Bahinabai Chowdhary,   a gifted Brahmin lady  in the throes of a dichotomy  regarding society, women, her marital status,  and her responsibilities, to compose some wonderful  soulful verses .

Special verses.  

So valid even today………

Friday, September 18, 2015

Her Full Story......तिची गोष्ट ..!

This is the real life story of "S", who has featured often on this blog over the years.
कुसुमची गोष्ट


पुरंदर तालुका,  जिल्हा  पुणे .  त्यातलं  लहानसं हरगुडे खेडं  .  आज तिथे ग्रामपंचायत आहे, आणि ग्रामपंचायतीत ७ पैकी ३ मेंबर शिकलेल्या बायका अहेत.  २०११ चा सेन्सस प्रमाणे ह्या खेड्यात पुरुष व बायकांचे प्रमाण बऱ्यापैकी समान आहे , पण लहान मुलांमध्ये मुलं  ज्यास्त आणि मुली कमी , अस दिसतं.  वर्ष भर काम असणारी माणसं ५७१, व त्यातली  ३१५ शेती करणारी (मालक, भागीदार) आणि १२० शेतमजुरी करणारी .  

आज ह्या गावात अनेक योजना राब्तायत . वृद्धांसाठी श्रावण बाळ योजना , निराधार भूमीहीन शेतमजूर अनुदान योजना, पर्यावरण संतुलित समृद्ध ग्राम विकास योजना, पाळ्णाघरे, डे-केर, अंगणवाड्या , शाळांसाठी क्रीडांगणे व इतर सोयी करणारी यशवंत ग्राम समृध्द योजना, आणि इतर बरच काही. 

हे आजचे चित्र … 

तेव्हाची गोष्ट …

पन्नास पंचावन्न वर्षापूर्वी , अश्याच  एका रखरखीत, उन्हाळ्यातल्या,  कोरड्या,  देशावरच्या सकाळी ,  आपल्या वडिलांच्या शेतावरती, लहानगी कुसुम , लवकर उठून, शेण गोळा करायला जाई .  ती घरातली नंबर  दोनची मोठी , तिला एक मोठा  भाऊ होता.  पाठची एक बहीण आणि मग दोन भाऊ .  

पण शेणाची गाठ तिच्याशीच पडायची. 

रोज पाट्या पाट्या शेण गोळा करून आणायचं आणि शेतावरच्या एका मोठ्या खड्यात जमा करायचं. दिवसामागून दिवस जायचे आणि तिथे खत तयार व्हायचं.  जरा कुठे शेणाच काम झालं , कि घरात  पाणी भरायला ओढ्यावरती चकरा सुरु. मध्ये मध्ये लहान भावंडांवर डाफ़र्णे,  त्यांना शाळेची गडबड करणे, आणि कधी कधी त्यांना पुढे घालून शाळेत पोचवणे. 

तशी ती शेतात पण मदत करायची. आणि गुरं हकायची .  

शेजारयान साठी अथवा कोणासाठी,  एक म्हैस महिनाभर हाकली,  कि महिन्याचे पाच रुपये मिळायचे , ते ती घरी आईकडे द्यायची. गाय हाकली तर महिन्याचे दोन रुपये , आणि ते सुधा आईकडे द्यायची. कुठेतरी जत्रेत उण्डारत जा आणि बांगड्या विकत घे अशी पद्धत न्हवती , न्हवे , तिला माहित पण न्हव्त … 

तस शाळेचं आणि तिचं  वाकडच . वडीलांनी एकदा शाळेत धाडलं तिला . जाउन बसली पाटी  पेन्सिल घेउन पुढे . जशी जशी मुलं जमली, व पुढे बसू लागली , तशी ती मागे  मागे सरकत गेली . पाटी पुढेच राहिली, आणि ती मागच्या मागे वर्गातून पळून गेली . आणि मग पुन्हा शाळेत गेलीच नाही . 

जून मध्ये पावसाचे आगमन व्हायचे त्या आधी त्यांच्या शेतावर बैलगाड्यांची रांग लागायची. मोठ्या खड्ड्यातले शेणखत , एक बैलगाडी-भरून १५ रु ला विकलं जायचं, आणि तिच्या आईच्या पदरी थोडे पैसे शिल्लक पडायचे.  

तशी दूर दूरच्या शेतातून गुरे चारणे,  शेण गोळा करून, स्वतःच्या नावाच्या त्या शेतातल्या खड्ड्यात गोळा करणे आणि वर्षा अखेरीस खतमाती विकणे , हा त्या वेळचा, मुलींचा  पॉप्युलर धंदा होता, आणि हे पैसे त्या आपल्या आईकडे जमा करत. एकेका शेतात मुली आपापले शेणाचे खड्डे सम्भाळाय्च्या, आणि भरत राहायच्या. माणसा माणसात विश्वास असायचा , आणि एक दुसऱ्या च्या खड्यात कोणी लुडबुड करत नसे. 

तिला अजून आठवते, ती  शेजारयानशी वडीलांनी ठेवलेले उत्कृष्ट सम्बन्ध. एकदा शेजारयान च्या शेतात तिने सहा बैलगाड्या भरतील एवढे शेण  जमा केले.  तो मालक ते सर्व विकत घ्यायला निघाला आणि त्यांनी नव्वद रुपये देउ केले .  तिचे वडील म्हणाले, पैसे नको, पण तुझ्या लिंबाच्या झाडाचे लांब खोड आहेत, तसे तीन दे .  त्याच्याकडे शेताच्या बांधावर कितीतरी लिंबाची झाडे होती . त्यांनी खोडे दिली, आणि तिच्या वडिलांनी  आपल्या घरात जरूर असलेल्या दुरुस्त्या त्या लाकडांनी केल्या. आत्ता आत्ता  पर्यंत ते घर तसेच शाबूत होते…. 

तिची भावंड शिकली . आजच्या भाषेत , प्रगती झाली .  

पण तिला चौदावं  लागल आणि अवगतीच झाली असा म्हणाव लागेल. 


कुठूनतरी नात्यातून प्रस्ताव आला, आणि तिच लग्न झाल.  दापोडीला पुण्याजवळ  सरकारी बंधारे विभागात काम करणारा माणूस. त्याला आईने दिलेलं  नाव देवाचे ,  पण कुसुमला  कधी स्वर्गसुख  दिसलेच  नाही . 

दारूचे व्यसन,  जबाबदारीची शून्य जाणीव , आणि तो तिला घेउन आपल्या भावाकडे राहू लागला .  तिला दिवस राहिले , आणि पाचव्या महिन्यात नवरा म्हणाला, आतापासूनच  माहेरी जा. ती गेली, आणि तिला एक छान  मुलगी झाली. आजी आजोबांच्या कौतुकात, नातीचे  सर्व नीटच झाले, पण बाळणतिणीचेही   सगळं व्यवस्थित झालं;  कदाचित शेवट्चच …

दीर-जाउ  तिच्याशी अतिशय चांगलं  वागत, पण सतत झिंगलेल्याशी  कसं जमवायचं अस कोणीतरी म्हटल्यावर,  ती व नवरा तिच्या  नणदेकडे राहायला गेले .  सगळीकडे जमेना, दारू चालूच, लोकं  बोलायची,  नवरा चिडायचा  आणि एके दिवशी मध्यरात्री त्यानं तेही घर सोडायचं ठरवलं .  बस. जायचं म्हणजे जायचं . ती रात्र , तिने तिच्या काही महिन्याच्या लहान मुली बरोबर , खडकी बझारच्या फुटपाथ वर काढ्ली .  

 आता येरव्ड्याजवळ , अत्यंत गचाळ भागात आपल्या चुलत भावाकडे तिला नवरा घेउन गेला .  हा कामावर गेला आणि हि कुठेही बाहेर गेली,  कि तिला लोक हट्कायचे , काय काय अर्वाच्च्य  बोलायचे. ती गुडघ्यापर्यंत दोन वेण्या घालायची .  मवाली पुरुष छेड  काढायचे . 

सगळ सहन करण्यापलिकडे  होतं  , आणि लवकरच हे जोडपं  , एका  लहानश्या झोपडीत राहायला  गेलं ; चाळीस  रु ठेव आणि वीस रु भाडं.  अधून मधून सासू राहायला यायची , तिलाही तिचा स्वतःचा मुलगा अधाताधा ओरडायचा.  एकदा  हिच्या पोटात असह्य दुखू लागल , ओटीपोटी खूप कडक झालं  आणि दुखलं , नवरा गुल, आणि हिच्याकडे मुन्सिपालटीच्या हॉस्पिटल साठी चार आणे  सुधा न्हवते .  

मुलीला बरोबर घेतलं , चुलत भावाकडून चार आणे घेतले , रांगेत बसून औषध आणलं  , आणि घरी येउन घेतलं .  त्यानंतर तीन दिवस तिच्या अंगावर मोठा पूर आल्यासारखं , प्रचंड गेलं , पावलं  बुडतील एव्हडा जास्त रक्तस्त्राव झाला , आणि ती निपचित पडली .  घरभर राडा , घाबरलेली छोटी मुलगी, आणि दारू पियुन कुठेतरी  पडलेला नवरा . शेजारच्या बायका धाउन आल्या, मुलीला जेवायला घातलं , हिचं  घर साफ करून, तिला काहीबाही खायला प्यायला घातलं , आणि हळू हळू ती बरी झाली, तशी नवरा तिला माहेरी  सोडून आला .  काही महिन्यांनी पुन्हा परत. 


तीन दगडाची चूल , गोळा केलेला लाकूड पाचोळा , पत्र्यावर थापलेली भाकरी , आणि तिचा झोपडपट्टीतला संसार सुरु झाला .  पुन्हा दिवस राहिले . नवरा नोकरीत पर्मननट झाला , आणि त्याचं दारू पिणं आणखीनच वाढलं.  घरात पैसे देत न्हव्ताच, आणि प्रचंड मारपी करायचा.  तिची आई बाळन्त्पण करायला आली , आणि मुलगा झाला .  

जवळपास एका म्हाताऱ्या मारवाडी माणसाचं  दुकान होतं. तो आणि त्याची म्हातारी बायको हिच्याकडे बघायचे  आणि त्यांना जमेल तशी मदत करायचे  .  तिला ज्वारी निवडायला द्यायचे, आणि दहा किलो ज्वारी निवडली कि चार आणे मिळायचे. असे पैसे मिळाले कि ती कन्वटीला बांधायची आणि मुलांसाठी काहीतरी खायला आणायची .  मग एकदा त्या मारवाड्याच्या ओळखीनी  एक दहा * दहा   चा , कुणा एका ओळखीच्या माणसाच्या मालकीच्या एका गोदामात्ला कोपरा राहायला मिळाला . त्याला पडले १५०० रुपये.  तिच्याकडे  कामे करून ९०० जमलेले. ती नवर्याला म्हणाली हे द्या, आणि बाकीचे ६०० काही महिन्यात कसे पण देउ .  त्या नराधामाने २०० रुपये दारूवर उधळले , आणि घरासाठी ७००च दिले . 

घराला चार भिंती, पण वरती डोक्यावर  काहीच नाही अशी परिस्थिती होती . समोरच्या बाजूला एका घराची दुरुस्ती चालू होती आणि कौलं उतरवत होते .  हिला तिसर्या वेळा दिवस गेलेले . अनेक महिने  तिने समोरच्या घरातून , विचारून, त्यांची कौलं गोळा केली, आणि उचलून उचलून घरी आणली.  कोणीतरी मुरूम आणून दिला , त्यानी  जमीन केली, आणि ज्या महिन्यात ७ तारखेस छप्पर झाले त्या महिन्यात १४ तारखेला तिसरा मुलगा झाला . पुन्हा तिची आई आली, जमेल तस तिला राखेवर झोपवून शेक दिला, बाळंतपण केल,  आणि गेली .  नवर्याचं मागील अंकावरून पुढे चालूच …

आत्तपर्यन्त्चा विक्षिप्तपणा काहीच नाही,  असं  नवरा वागू लागला . तिला रात्री घराबाहेर काढायचा, आणि मुलं  घाबरून पत्र्याच्या भोकातून आईला बघायची . हा आतमध्ये पड्लेला.  दिवसा मुलं आणि ही  बाहेर असली, कि कुलूप लाउन निघून जायचा. एकदा अशीच मुले आणि ही वाट बघत कितीतरी तास उभी होती , आणि शेवटी तिने  थोडासा पत्र वाकवून ,  प्रयत्न केला उघडाय्चा .  एव्ह्ड्यात  नवरा आला आणि त्यांनी कुलपाची किल्ली त्या भोकातून आत टाकली आणि निघून गेल. ती व मुलं बाहेर तशीच उभी . शेवटी कसबसं  सर्वात छोट्याला भगदाडातून सांभाळून आत सोडला , आणि तो किल्ली घेउन बाहेर आला, तेव्हा मायलेकं  आत घरी जाउ शकली.  

तिच्या हाताला उत्कृष्ट चव होती, अजूनही आहे. कधी भूक लागली म्हणून नवऱ्याला ताजी भाकरी,  वर तिखट आवडीची चटणी वाटून दिली, कि तो हसून तिच्या तोंडावर  ती  भाकरीसकट फेकायचा .   हेच तिचं  आयुष्य आणि हेच मुलांचं बालपण . एकदा रागवून आपल्या बहिणीकडे निघून गेला, आणि एक पहार घेउन घर पडायला आला.  मुलं शाळेत, हि कोणाच्या तरी घरी कामाला , आणि शेजारचे सांगत आले. तशी ही घरी धावली. 

हे तिच्या संसाराचे दिवस . ह्या तिच्या आठवणी . 


ह्याच दिवसात सासू पुण्यात ससूनला  अड्मिट झालि. हिच्या नावानी विचारू लागली. इतक्या सगळ्या वर्षात , तिचे सासरच्या लोकांशी उत्कृष्ट संबंध होते .  सासू म्हणाली "हीच माझा सगळं  शेवटी करू दे " .  ती  ससूनला जायला निघाली, तर नवरा दारू पियुन आडवा, आणि म्हणाला, "गेलीस तर तंगड तोडीन " .  तरी ती गेली ,  आणि सासूला शेवटची भेट्ली .  दुसऱ्या  दिवशी सासू गेली , आणि सर्व माणसं तिथून गुल.   घरात अन्त्क्रीयेला पैसे नाहीत, नवऱ्याला आई गेल्याची फिकीर नाही , आणि हिने स्वतःच्या कुड्या शेजारणीकडे  गहाण  ठेउन पैसे घेतले आणि सर्व सामग्री इत्यादी आणून, सासूचा अंत्यविधी केला . नवरा नावापुरता लोकाना दाखवायला  आला .

शेवटी शेजाऱ्यानी तिच्या घरी तार करून , मुंबईहून भावांना बोलवून घेतलं  . एव्हांना दोन्ही लहान भाऊ कॉलेज शिकून कामाला लागले होते, आणि बहीण १० वी  करून , लग्न करून, नोकरीला होती . सर्व मुंबईला . तिचे भाऊ आणि वडील येउन तिला  चारही  मुलानसकट परत घेउन आले. आजच्या जगात सुधा हे फार कमी बघायला मिळतं.  

"मला खूप वेळा जीव  द्यावासा वाटायचा . एकदा येरवड्याच्या तिथल्या नदीवर पण गेले होते .  पण रात्रीच्यावेळी "हि कोण बाई नदीवर कश्यासाठी आली…"  असं  म्हणत दोन लोकं आली, आणि विचारपूस करून मला  घरी परत घेउन आली .  आणि मग मला वाटायचं , कि मी गेले, तर हा नराधाम मुलांना विचारणार नाही, आणि माझी मुल चार दिशांना वेगळी जातील , आणि त्याचं कोणीच रहाणार नाही "   असा आज ती ते दिवस आठवताना मला सांगते … 


ती मुबईला आली, आणि माणसांच्या गर्दीत माहेरी राहू लागली .  चार घरची कामं धरली , समोर केंद्रीय विद्यालय होत, तिथे मुलाना घातलं , आणि थेंबे थेंबे पैसे  साठवून काही वर्षांनी भाड्याची  स्वतःची खोली घेतली. भावांनी तिचा नवरा जिथे नोकरीला होता,  तिथे संपर्क केला आणि त्याच्या अर्ध्या पगारावर तिचा हक्क सांगितला.  महिना अखेरीस   पगाराच्या दिवशी,  सर्व भाऊ व ती स्वतः तिथे पोचले .  शेवट पर्यंत नवऱ्याने पगाराच्या मस्टर  वर सही न करून पगार हातात घेतला नाही , कारण लगेच अर्धा तिला द्यावा लागला असता .   नवऱ्या वर पोटगी साठी केस केली, तर नवऱ्यानी आपलं नावच  बदललं आणि काहीच उत्तर दिले नाही . आज तिच्या मुलाना जातीचा दाखला हवा असतो, तेव्हा वडिलांचा नावाचा दाखला नाही, आणि वडिलांचे आणि मुलांचे नाव वेगळे , म्हणून तो मिळत नाही .

कुसुमची मुल शिकली, मुलगीही शिकली . हळु हळु नोकरीला लागली .  आजूबाजूला सगळीकडे कोम्प्यूटरचा वापर सुरु झाला आणि तिच्या मुलांनीसुधा ते सरावाने शिकून घेतलं .   मुलगी लग्नाला आली, आणि  तिचं, बघून वगैरे ,  कल्याणच्या एका मुलाशी लग्न ठरलं .  भाऊ सरसावले. त्यांचे काका जवळच्या कॉलेज  मध्ये नोकरीत कायम झाले  होते , त्यांच्या मुळे  तिथली  जागा मिळाली . रिसेप्शन केले. सर्वांनी मिळून आपल्या बहिणीचे लग्न हौसेने केले आणि ती सासरी गेलॆ.  मुलीच्या वडिलाना रीत म्हणून बोलावणे गेले . कसेही वागले तरी मुलीचे वडील आहेत, ते लग्नात हवे , असे म्हणून मुलं  त्यांना , नाखुशीने का होईना , रीतसर बोलावणे करायला गेली . 

लवकरच इतिहास  पुन्हा तसाच घडला .  तिचा जावई  खोटारडा निघाला. त्याला नोकरी न्हव्तीच . बायकोला मारणे, आणि तिच्याकडून पैसे घेणे हा उद्योग. आई वडिलांचही  ऐके ना . मुलगी एके दिवशी तिथून निघाली आणि माहेरी येउन पोचली .  मग सासरचे सगळे आले. चर्चा झाल्या . मुलीकड्च्याना वाटलं , जाउदे ,  पुन्हा जोडलं गेलं  सगळं , तर चांगलच आहे, दोघही वयाने लहान आहेत , सुरवातीचे दिवस आहेत , ई . ई.   मुलगी पुन्हा सासरी गेली . सुरवातीला जरा बरं होतं सर्व , आणि मग एके दिवशी त्यांनी तिला घरून दूर नेलं , मार मार मारलं , आणि तिला कुठल्यातरी बाझार भागात तसेच सोडून तो घरी चालता झाला .  ती निपचित पडलेली, आणि तिथल्या भाजीवाल्या बायकानी तिला उठवलं  , घरी नेलं , औषध पाणी केलं ,  मलम लावलं , तिला जेउ घातलं , झोपायला दिलं आणि दुसऱ्या दिवशी माहेरी आणून सोडलं .  निर्लज्ज नवरा पुन्हा आला . त्याला तिच्या भावांनी  उठवलं , आणि बाहेरचं दार दाखवलं , आणि बहिणी पासून दूर राहण्याची सक्त ताकीद दिली . काळाच्या ओघात तिची काडीमोड झाली , आणि ती अनेक नोकरयानचा अनुभव घेउन , आता मुलींच्या वसतिगृहात नोकरीला आहे. 

तिचे कुटुंब

आज सगळी मुलं  मिळवती अहेत.  मुलगीही मिळवती अहे.  एका मुलाची फटफटी आहे. तीन सुना आहेत . अनेक नातवंड आहेत .  एक सून १२ वी  झाली आहे, तिला कुसुमने लायब्ररीचा कोर्स शिकायला पाठवलं , आणि त्या नंतर तिने MH-CET  चा सर्टिफ़िकेट कोर्स ही पूर्ण केला.  ह्याचा कुसुमला खूपच अभिमान आणि  कौतुक आहे.  

कुसुमचं  बारीक लक्ष असत . तिला स्वतःला कोम्प्युटर वापरता येत नाही , कारण लिहिता वाचता येत नाही, पण तो काय करू शकतो ह्याची तिला कल्पना अहे.  सुनेला दिवस असताना एक ग्रहण आले, आणि वेगळी वेगळी लोक वेगळं वेगळं सांगू लागली . तिनी मला रात्री फोन  केला, आणि कोम्प्युटर वरून शोधायला सांगितले कि हे ग्रहण कुठून दिसणार आहे, त्याच्या  वेळा ई. ई.  तिला गूगल माहित्ये .  तिचा बँकेत अकाउण्ट अहे. त्यावर दुसरं  नाव मुलीचं घातलं  आहे. काही प्रश्ण असले कि यॆउन विचारते, आणि मगच काय करायचं ते ठरवते 

तिचे , ती राहते तिथे बायकांचे मंडळ आहे.  त्यांचे कार्यक्रम असतात , माहितीपूर्वक भाषणे असतात माहितगार लोकांची . ती स्वतः लिहित नाही, वाचू शकत नाही, पण ती त्यांच्या मंडळाची खजिनदार आहे.  चोख हिशेब ठेवते .   

स्वतःच्या व कुटुंबियांच्या आरोग्या बद्दल ती खूप जागरूक असते .   आणि सुनांच्या बाबतीत तर खूपच .  माझ्या स्वतःच्या डॉक्टर मैत्रीणीकडे माझ्या बरोबर येउन तिला काही शंका होत्या त्या तिनी समजावून घेतल्या.  आपली   मुलं शिकली, सुनाही  शिकल्या , किंबहुना मुलापेक्षा ज्यास्त पुढे शिकल्या , ह्याचा तिला सार्थ अभिमान आहे.  आता नातवंड इंग्रजी शाळेत जातात. ती इंग्रजीत बोलली कि कुसुम्चा चेहरा फुलतो . एक सून नोकरी करते .  मी आणि माझी मुलगी तिच्या नातवंडान्च्या वाढदिवसाना पण तिच्या घरी जाउन आलो.  फ़ोटो काढले .  

आपापले संसार सांभाळत सर्व एकत्र, पण तरी वेगळे वेगळे रहातात. तिची मुलं सर्व नातेवैकांचा आदर करतात .  तिच्या सासरच्या लोकांशी तिचे संबंध इतके उत्कृष्ट आहेत, कि त्यांच्या सर्व कार्यात  तिच्या शिवाय अडतं . आजूबाजूला रहाणार्या लोकात अनेक वाईट सवयीची , दारू पिणारी, जेलची हवा खाउन आलेली लोकं  आहेत,  कानावर शब्द पडू नयेत असे शब्द वापरणारी लोकं आहेत, पण हिच्या मुलांना शिकवणच अशी आहे कि तिच्या समोर अपशब्द ते  कधीही  बोलत नाहीत.  

अप्पाप्सात त्यांचे काहीही म्हणणे असो, जेव्हा जरूर पडते तेव्हा तिच्या मुलांची दृष्ट लागावी अशी एकजूट असते . मध्यंतरी एकाला अचानक एका संध्याकाळी ताप येउन आय.  सी. यु.  मध्ये भरती करावं  लागलं . घर दार धावलं . मुलांनी जंग जंग पछाडून, आपल्या स्वतः कडचं  सर्व पणाला लाउन, तीन चार दिवस , रात्रीचा दिवस करून , पैसे उभे केले , सांगितलेली  औषध आणली , आणि भावाला अक्षरशहा त्या व्याधीतून ओढून बाहेर काढलं  . मोठ्या हॉस्पिटलच्या डॉकटरने ही   त्यांचं खूप कौतुक केलं . 

कुसुमच्या तोंडच पाणी  पळालेलं  तेव्हा पहिल्यांदी बघितलं.  सैरभैर झाली . उपास तपास , नवस,  सुचेल तिथे प्रार्थना , सर्व काही केलं . तिची भावंड मदतीला धावली, म्हातारी आई घरी नातवंड सांभाळायला आली , आणि शेवटी  सर्व सुख्रूप घरी आले. 

आजचे आयुष्य

आज जगात विरंगुळा म्हणून खूप काही लोकं करतात.  आज ती आपल्या मुलीबरोबर घरातील एका भागात रहते. वेळी प्रसंगी  मुले व सुना जवळ पास असतात व येतातच. आता नातवंड पण मोठी होत आहेत.  जे काय  ती व मुलगी मिळवतात, त्यात काट्कसरीचा संसार, आणि नवीन प्रदेश बघून स्वतःला समृद्ध करण्याकडे तिचा कल असतो. 

मध्यंतरी त्यांच्या समाजातर्फे एक कोकणात ट्रिप निघली.  मुंबई ते मुंबई बसने प्रवास, आणि कोकणात भारतरत्न आंबेडकरांच्या व त्यांच्या पत्नीच्या गावाला भेट , काही शिवाजी महाराजांच्या गड किल्ल्याना भेट , आणि एक महाबळेश्वरि चक्कर , असं  सगळं  होतं. आपल्या शाळकरी  नातवाला मुंबईच्या बाहेरचं जग, आणि इतिहासातल्या   लोकान्बद्दल कळावं म्हणून ती व तिची मुलगी, मोठ्या नातवाला घेउन ह्या ट्रिप ला जाउन आल्या . 

त्याच्या पुढच्या वर्षी पंधरा दिवस रेल्वे व बस नि , त्यांच्या समाजाने अखलेल्या सामुहिक बुद्ध्गयेच्या ट्रीपलाही जाउन  आल्या , आणि महराष्ट्र बाहेरचं जग बघून आल्या .  समृद्ध झाल्या . 

आज तिचं  आयुष्य तिच्या नात्वानमध्ये गुंतलेलं अहे. त्यांचे अभ्यास, त्यांच्या शाळा , त्यांची ट्युशन .  खडतर आयुष्याशी झगड्ल्या नंतर , आज ती जेव्हा नातवाला गृहपाठ करताना बघते , तेव्हा तिला राहून राहून वाटत कि आपण शाळेत गेलो नाही, कधी शिकलो नाही हि फार मोठी चूक केली .

पण तिच्या नातवा  बरोबर बसून, ती सही करायला शिकली .  अजून बँकेत अंगठाच देते, पण बँकेचे सर्व व्यवहार येतात.  

आज तिला वाटतं  , आपल्या मुली सुनाना , आपल्याला जे करता आलं  नाही अथवा मिळालं नाही ते सर्व मिळावं .  तिला मुली सुनांनी नवीन प्रकारचे कपडे केले कि कौतुक वाटतं , पण त्या मागे त्यावर काय बंधन आपणच घालायचे असते हे सर्व जण  समजून आहेत . त्यामुळे तिला कधी मान खाली घालावी लागली नाही . 

मोठ्या मोठ्या लोकाना कोड्यात टाकणार्या तांत्रिक गोष्टी , ती पट्कन आत्मसात करते.  

माझ्या घरी काही कारणास्तव तीन फोन आहेत, आणि काही अंतर्गत प्रकारचे अहेत. माझ्या गैर उपस्थितीत ती कामाला येते , तेव्हा फोन  केला तर न चुकता बरोबर तो  फोन उचलते.   एकदा माझ्या मोठ्या मुलाबरोबर मी स्कैप वर बोलत होते , तेव्हा कौतुकाने त्याच्याशी हेडफोन घालून त्याच्याशी बोलली.  तिच्यावर मी एक व्हिडीओ फिल्म बनवली होती, तेव्हा तिचे अनुभव शब्दात कैद करण्यासाठी  "ओडासीटी" हि संगणक आज्ञावली वापरली होतॆ. अगदी पाचच मिनिटात तिनी त्याचे मायक्रोफोनचे  ऑन /ऑफ व कमी-ज्यास्त   प्रकार शिकून घेतले.


अनेक वर्षापूर्वी  प्रसिद्ध शास्त्रद्न्य, नोबेल पारितोषिक विजेते   कै.  ऐन्स्टैन यांचे एक वाक्य वाचलं होतं .  “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”  म्हण्जे,  "मी जीवनात जे शिकलो,  त्याच्या मध्ये मध्ये कायम "औपचारिक शिक्षण " आडवे  येत रहिले. …"

कुसुम च्या आयुष्यात औपचारिक शिक्षण कधी आलेच नाही.  पण अनुभवाने व आपल्या भोवतालच्या समाजाकडे बघून ती खूप शिकली.  अजूनही शिकत्ये . 

खूप वेळा राहून राहून मनात येतं , कि अती औपचारिक शिक्षण घेउन कधी कधी आपल्या संवेदना बोथट होतात, ज्या खरं तर आयुष्याशी झगडून झगडून धारदार होतात.

कुणास माहित, कोणीतरी प्रौढ शिक्षणाचे वर्ग सुरु करेल, आणि आज पासून दोन तीन वर्षात कुसुम हा लेख वाचताना दिसेल ?  

अशक्य काहीच नाही …  

(A print version of this, with a photo will shortly be released,  and presented to Kusum. Friends wishing for a copy may kindly let me know)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Shortly in Print......S's Story!

My household help "S" , who has been the subject of several posts on this blog from time to time,  came bustling in the other day .

Now that her three sons have their own families, her daughter and she live together in her own part of the house. The daughter has left behind a bad and violent marriage. All S's children work, including the daughter, and they have been after her to stop working houses. S says she will continue to work till her limbs are mobile. Whatever she earns, goes into an account held jointly with her daughter.

"Bai, I want you write something for me ! "  she suddenly said .

 "Sure. What is it ? Some form they want you to fill or an application somewhere ?"  I ask tentatively.

"No. I want you to pen my story.  ...."  she says, and I am intrigued.

She knows I write about her. I've filmed her and done a video about her.  And it is natural for her to approach me.  Most of the other people she worked for , have retired and left this campus, and mine is the only household she helps now on a daily basis. She says she will take a break after we move away . (Which may be soon ).

And then I learn why this has been on her mind. 

One of her neighbors, a very nice lady, with a paralytic husband, a son and daughter-in-law, just died the day before. She would do everything for her immobile husband, run the house, and basically make it possible for the son and daughter-in-law to work, which was the only family income.  They lived in this small room, and the son and daughter-in-law slept in a loft built into the same room.

It seems the lady got up one morning, threw up, and felt giddy. In that grevious condition, she got up, and somehow helped her husband with his morning stuff and cleaning, after which she wiped the mess on the floor . No one knows if she called out to anyone, because the son didn't hear anything, and the husband, even if he saw and heard, could only watch helplessly.

The son and daughter-in-law , on finding their mother comatose rushed her to hospital where they were informed that she was no more.  S went to attend the memorial ceremonies and funeral, and came back impressed with how everyone had these nice things to say in speeches , about the lady.

S herself , has led an amazing life. 

As the only child out of 5, and the eldest, who never went to school, she told me amazing stories about a long career in collecting cow dung; of  yelling at her siblings to go to the village school, and literally herding them there; of how her sister was educated in those days just like the brothers, and how they slowly gravitated to Mumbai because the village school was only till 7th, and there was a family anchor in Mumbai; of being married to a worst kind of man you can think of, and being a mother of 4 by the age of 21; of having the guts, and understanding parents who brought her back from that hell, along with her 4 kids, and shared a small dwelling with them till she started working houses, saving, and  managed to make a payment on her own four walls.

She speaks of days, when everyone knew everyone in villages, and her mother stored all the family belongings at the local landowners place when they shifted to Mumbai.  Her family tilled land for the landowner and earned in kind. And how to this day when they go back for a visit, the newer generations maintain the link...

S says today's children have no clue about what their parents have been through, so that they can enjoy a life today, obsessed with phones, computers and the like. There have been situations of bitterness amidst relatives, insulting behaviours, disrespect at times, and there have been ways in which she has learned to handle these.  There has always been a sense of being thrifty, & conservative, where "show" stuff is concerned , and a great encouragement where anything to do with education was concerned.

In keeping with the age we live in, one of her children married against her wishes; she saw something in the girl that he did not, but she let him be, and has learned to quiet about it.  She knows her three sons support her daughter who must make a life for herself, but also knows , that things may not be the same after she is no more.

She wants me to write "S's Story",  include all the stuff, and print it and make copies.

She said she would like someone to read that publicly when she is no more and when they have a memorial meeting for her. 

I am stunned.

I admire her confidence, and her sense of self worth, in the face of the difficult life she leads. She is treated as a family elder in my house by my kids,  and she even tells them off at times when she thinks they are erring. Many years ago, my mother suddenly passed away, and we the adults were away on the day of the cremation for almost a day, attending to formalities, ash immersions and receiving mourners.  She had cooked and found that the kids had not touched the food till 4 pm, when she came to check if we were back.  She put it all away, made them sit at the table, and cooked hot fresh chapaties for them and made them eat.  We would be returning, and she would wait to see if we needed anything.

I have told her I will write this, and we will get it privately printed. (She has told me that it can even be 2 foolscap sheets     :-)   ).

At a time, when people keep discussing a woman as a function of the man of the family, at a time when so many women today make a lot of fuss and say how they don't do any banking work since their husband does it, and they just sign; and at a time, when papers are full of advice to people having personal problems etc, I am simply stunned at her clarity of thought, her sense of self worth, and her continuing support to every member of her family and extended family.

Come to think of it, I am not sure, and don't even want to know, what folks may say about me when I am no more. :-)  .  There will clearly be no books printed and chapters read. 

But I am pleased as punch, that S has thought of this, and I admire her attitude.

Stay tuned, for "S's Story".......   

(Forgot to mention that this " S's Story" will essentially be in Marathi , and not in English...)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jantar Mantar of the Mind

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that we all get what we deserve.

But sometimes ,  some get what they reserve.

The reservation is sometimes a result of rushing around, standing in lines, following some rules , and coming up with something in hand. There is no restriction on who can put in how much effort for getting whatever, in the need of the hour. 

Then again , it is often sometimes , the result of new rules, designed to favour and offer opportunities , to those normally deprived of them , for reasons , economic , or those of size-of-their-population.  There is effort required here too.  But there a push built in. 

It might be said that all this must be done for the greater good.

But sometimes we lose sight of the greater good....  and sometimes there is always Jantar Mantar .

  I am fascinated by the human body , and the similarities between our society,  and how things are managed in our own bodies, by whoever designed them,  and  i wondered how things would be if we introduced reservation within the body.

At an average weight of 10,886 grams the skin is the biggest human organ.
The liver, with an average weight of 1560 gms comes second.
The Brain , with an average weight of 1263 gms, comes third.  
Lungs (both) with an average weight of 1060  gms come fourth. 
The Heart, is fifth at approximately 300 gms.
The kidneys  come sixth at around 290 gms.
The spleen is 7th at 170 gms.  
The pancreas are 8th at 98 gms.
The  thyroid come 9th at 35 gms.
The prostate, found only in males, comes 10th at 20 gms.

At least in our bodies, might is not right.   

Skin, simply does not throw its weight around (though it excels at throwing volume around), despite being the biggest. It quietly works hard at what it is supposed to do, at the frontlines, often supported ably by internal networks . Very clearly, its wellbeing depends on those like the heart  which provides blood to it, and those like the kidneys  that ensure that it is good blood.  Like a responsible heavyweight elder, the Liver, is like the treasury, releasing different kinds of stored substances here and there , to keep things healthy and flowing well, and , say, benefiting the skin.  

The heart, although fifth in size, is actually like a Founder. It is the first organ a fetus develops inside the maternal uterus. It has its own electrical pump system, and basically provides resources to the Body Company.  It mostly inspires the various sections to perform well, gives them many chances if they don't, and like a Founder Chairperson, takes appropriate decisions in the best interests of the company.

The liver , although bigger (than the heart, and 2nd by weight) is like the ancestral house, large and heavily furnished, providing excellent storage and forwarding facilities .  It simply does not exhibit its despair,  till it has tried and tried to keep going. At the end of the day, it listens to the Chairperson Heart .

One can go on and on describing the human body in terms of an industrial set up or a society comprised of folks with different duties and abilities.

But one wonders what would happen if,  say ,  the kidneys, 6th in importance by weight, simply demanded  that they would withhold  getting the dirt out of our blood, unless they were given a place somewhere in front, like the stomach .

Or say, the lungs,  4th powerful by size, knowing that they were an ally of the heart at the Blood Exchange, suddenly demanded a removal of the thoracic rib barricade they suffered like a chaperone all their life.

The spleen, quietly , imbibing qualities of the human fist, whose size it mimics at 170 gms,  suddenly turning militant and refusing to make the red an white cell pulp, till it was given more importance ; I mean there is a limit to how long you can be ignored in a company despite putting in years of decent work.....

And what would happen, if the pancreas, which are actually the "nouveau riche", loaded with insulin factories, suddenly decide to have a lock out, despite pleading from the Kidney Ketone ladies?  I mean there is just so much they can tolerate regarding outside interference of drugs in the blood.   

It could be the thyroid, hitherto involved in managing slowdowns and rushed work, which might suddenly protest at being ordered around by  tiny but powerful  pituitary types using the brain as a front and decide to enforce a go-slow.

At the end of the day,  the Brain, not the biggest, but, which as the CEO , handles the day-to-day stuff, must take wise decisions.  The founder, the Chairperson Heart, has given it most of the powers , but it must use its experience from memory,  and not give in to the weird demands of the various organs, regardless of their size.

Occasional temporary slight relaxation of rules might work,  but the CEO Brain often goes about things in such a way, that the complaining organ ends up learning a lesson by itself,  atrophying , shrinking or even getting into neighboring fights , and straightens out itself.

Random, blatant, divisive disobedience  in our bodies, often ends up being carcinogenic.  And what follows is  a lot of chemical warfare with tons of collateral damage.

And so the various organs, have learned to respect each others abilities , duties, and attention to detail,  and learned to ignore size.  The CEO Brain, has developed the ability to adapt itself to the need of the hour, sometimes drastically. The interesting fact is that most of the various sized organs, hitherto protesting for a guaranteed  piece of the power pie , have realized that they are part of the whole, and when benefits happen, their share always trickles down to them.  

They need no reservations. Mostly because the Heart, Chairman of the Board, and the CEO Brain, work constructively and with great understanding and innovation, to keep things happy and running. Of course , the external environment greatly matters, but they ensure that the White Blood Corpuscular Security Plus is fully geared to handle things effectively along with the Cilia Militia..

Can we learn from this ?  I don't know.

There is something to learn, both for the Chairman and CEO as well as for the participating folks. 

Whether in the body or in real life .

The only difference is  power has not corrupted the body.  And there are no Jantar Mantars here. In any mind of any organ.
I keep forgetting these are Organs and not Organizations !

Just my 2 paisa worth......