The Reality of Motherhood

Women rediscover themselves when they become mothers – they realize their ability to love unconditionally – to put the needs and comfort of a tiny being before their own-melting at their offspring’s helplessness and finding their innate ability to be brave and strong whenever the child needs help, no matter how often. That is the time the story of a mother’s giving begins- sheer altruism, empathy and selfless devotion, with no expectations of any kind.

Motherhood also completes women as individuals, improves their personality and brings out the best in them.  Motherhood is not a need-it is a choice-a choice that will try our patience for the next 20 years, if not the rest of our lives-push us to the brink of sanity-but the tipping point, thankfully, never comes-the cup never brimmeth over.

Strange, how nature has fashioned women-with our large hearts that give more than they can hold-that embrace and get embroiled in every aspect of their child’s life – making his life their own. The protective, nurturing instinct comes to the fore and the child forms an entire world for them. The mother is perennially undaunted by the prospect of losing her own identity and foregoing her interests completely as she molds the personality of her little ones. Her devotion and commitment extends far beyond the call of duty, driven by affection and the strong sense of responsibility towards her children. She saves them from awkward situations, protects them from the barrage of reprimands, scolding and punishments, always ready with excuses on their behalf, even tough it means bearing the brunt of immediate and extended family. For the mother, its not about herself, and what she has to endure, she has to protect them from hurt and discouragement, and teach in her own way, that is hopefully more positive. Her rapport and closeness with the children, she hopes, will help her achieve, what others’ complaints will not. Its not that she is not proved wrong, she is, because they do not often see the mother sandwiched between two generations, they seldom can see beyond themselves, and her softness becomes her undoing.

But somewhere along the way, ego, ambition and unfulfilled dreams get added and many mothers end up living their lives through their children, pushing them aggressively and adding stress and pressure in a world where children carry numerous other burdens to keep up with their peers, who may often be abusive, mentally, if not physically.

We may have given life to our children, but cannot control it completely. It is our duty to provide for them, nurture them to be responsible citizens and fine human beings, but give them space to blossom and grow too. We cannot fulfill our incomplete dreams through them, or use them to achieve what wasn’t within our reach. The joy should be to see them achieve on their own, providing the perfect environment to excel, develop a good personality and evolve a code of ethics, values and principles of the highest order, where purity, peace and sincerity are all important.

If we push our children, it must be so that they can build a beautiful, successful life, and they never regret missed opportunities and wrong doing, or losing out due to sheer laziness and the very human habit of procrastination.

Parents nurture their offspring for as long as they are together. Nurturing covers a wide spectrum, including so much love that it lasts a lifetime, care that is unparalleled, and discipline, which teaches children how to conduct themselves, know their limits, and give space to others, including their parents.

And one day, it is time for the children to fly…build their lives, cultivate their interests, learn and acquire skills and degrees that will sustain them through their adult years. Though times have changed, communication and accessibility keeps parents and children connected all the time, the mother is left forlorn, seeming to have lost her purpose in life and the very reason for her existence. It requires so much strength to fight this feeling and overcome this state…for decades she has forgotten to think and feel for herself, never puts her own needs before those of her children, and often, does not even remember what she likes.

That is when the waiting game begins-for their calls and messages, for them to come home during vacations, and for chances to meet for short breaks. The parenting, the support and the care continues, but an emptiness fills her days, with no frenzy, and not much to look forward to. Perhaps the mother child bond supersedes all, but their leaving home must lead to a new beginning, a journey of self discovery for all mothers, to learn what they now like, as older, wiser and mature women, and learn to find completeness in their own being.

The Dear Departed….

Seven years to this day…seems like an eternity. Seven years since a beautiful soul, a highly principled man, our father, left this earth.

His was the life of a truly great man,
Who made his life so sublime,
And departing, left behind him
His foot prints on the sands of time.

To think that there was a human being so devoid of malice, jealousy, envy or hatred…who was so accepting of failings and shortcomings…who was grateful for whatever was put in front of him, without finding fault…who was so detached from the material…for whom wealth and money had little significance…what he had in his pocket, he would happily give to anyone and everyone…who even in death, gifted light and sight to someone living.
His powerful presence meant the world to us, his quiet, gentle ways gave us strength, his wisdom, his stories and his Urdu poetry, all ring in our ears, even today. His learning and insights of decades, came our way in a shorter span of time, and stay with us to this day…the only difference being, we as his children listened attentively, hanging on to each word he uttered, while the youth of today lose interest in a few minutes, if not seconds.
He gave us the gift of life, and loved in his undemonstrative ways, nourished and nurtured, and taught us how to live a life of integrity with the highest ideals and principles, how to be unflinchingly honest, rather than believe the lies we weave, and how to value what we have, and what we are blessed with. He taught us the value of humility over arrogance, mildness over aggression, how giving in, is often a bigger victory than taking a rigid stand. How walking away always scores over confrontation, and not getting provoked, our ultimate test.
We learnt about mindfulness long after he had gone, and then realized, that though an atheist, not given to spiritual teachings and sermons, did everything so mindfully…
The world is emptier without him, and we feel so alone, even as we try to walk on the path of goodness he put us on…holding our hands as we began our journey of life.

Four Years in Yangon

I set foot in Yangon four years ago, and vividly remember the feeling of dread as the aircraft circled over numerous water bodies, lush greenery and pockets of habitation over vast expanses of flat land. The first three months were difficult and then we began to accept the place and its people. We began to enjoy the company of the locals with their ever smiling faces, and admire their level of contentment despite their very limited means and minimal access to comforts and luxuries. We admired the classless society, though there was respect and reverence for the learned and the elite, and we began to understand their amazing attitude and look inwards too.

Continue reading “Four Years in Yangon”


The wheels of time move on ceaselessly

A path unknown beautifully unfolds

A year passes, adding substance to our deeds

A new one to savor our treasures waits to begin.


One more to wish our loved ones well

One more to search for positive meaning

One more to hope and express gratitude

One more to work towards harmony and peace.


As the eagle soars to the limitless skies

The human mind soars in want and waste.

It is a time to introspect and rethink

Constantly finding ways to improve.


May each day bring joy and calm

Each morning renew our confidence and beliefs

Reaffirm our commitments and shake off our fears

Help us fulfill our wishes and dreams.

Of Religion, Rituals and Spirituality

Our fears make us search for omens and assurances

And look for answers that reinforce our hopes.

We seek the comfort of something to grasp

And unleash our insecurities manifold.


Shackled as we are with blind faith and baseless beliefs

Seasoned by dogmatic rituals throughout,

Reason and rationale not often taught to children

Religion meant to make us spiritually devout.


We must not question but blindly follow,

Never spurn or doubt staunch beliefs

The wrath of Gods acts like a sword

That can finish human life beneath.


Blind faith and frantic prayers become a way of life

Chanting divine names while practicing evil ways

Forgetting goodness and its desperate need

to improve our lives till the end of our days.


The mind gets knotted and begins to rot,

Causing stress and illness that causes grief

Clearing the mind to make it pure

Peace and calm are the needed cure.


Meditation and mindfulness seem to appeal

To silently introspect and look deep within

To clear and cleanse deep rooted woes

remove the burdens and free us from sin.


The path is tough and not for all to follow

Secluded silence a tumultuous pain

Fear of facing inner demons deters

Emotional bonds chain and constrain.



The Mother Long Gone

A precious life was ebbing away

Ageing, exhausted from past burdens she bore

Yet strangely content, with peace and calm

She had made up her mind to go.


Her life had had pains and joys

But the outcome what she wanted to see

Her job done, it was time to leave

Leaving a heart broken family.


Years have passed, her absence deeply felt

Her presence gone, but memories choke

A bit of regret, a lot of sorrow

Oh God! why did she have to go.


If only I had wiped her tired sweat

Helped ease the burden she bore

Shown gratitude for giving me life

If only I’d pampered and indulged her more.


Tears well up with a single thought of her

Dreams continue, echoes of her voice engross

All that remains is a heart full of sorrow

And the immeasurable sense of loss.


A mother continues in spirit for eternity

And I turn to her for comfort and solace

With smiling faces that she always wanted to see

The three of us continue, emulating her calm and grace.


The Cycle of Life and Death

The cycle of life and death is eternal

That spares no one;

The one who is born must inevitably die

But human frailty wants to cling and hold on;


The shackled soul is tied in knots

Of love and longing, attachment and bonding.

And as we age, we begin to dread

Losing our loved ones…


We wish our parents alone, are spared death

And given eternal life…


Death of parents hurts like none other

Letting them go the toughest

You yearn for their presence

And long for an impossible return.


Time heals wounds of loss

And pain ebbs gradually,

All that is left is memories

And dreams that help us relive….


A Tribute to my Mother

The famous George Elliot said-“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face”. To which I would like to add, that the peace, the inner calm and purity that was so conspicuous in her expression, haunts me even twelve years after my mother has gone. And there is something about Yangon that brings back memories of her piousness, kindles a desire to follow a spiritual path similar to hers. Is it the people, the peace inspiring pagodas, something else about Yangon, or just my love for my mother?

She visits me in my dreams, and I search for her on the roads. When I see someone look fondly at me I wonder, if its her soul in another physical form. Because no one can love as much as a mother. Her smiling face, her endless wait for me to return home, her ageing frame as she waved while my train moved away… haunt me even now. I wish I had told her what she meant to me…I wish I had been a better daughter. If only I had known the emptiness of a world without her, if only I could have held on to her for longer. Death is so final and that one unchangeable reality which changes us forever.

She lives on in spirit, her voice continues to ring in my ears, her gentle ways and her desire to see well dressed children, makes me smile. As I grow older, I understand her stance better, the wisdom behind her actions and her ability to care for her family.

I am told that souls are immortal, and she is perhaps back in this world…if only there was a way to know that she is happy, and that she is loved…the way her three children loved her…

Sightless but Smiling-My Experience at a Blind School in Yangon

As one blessed with the gift of sight, through eyes that reveal to us the beauty of the world, and every product and creation on it, I am sure no one can even fathom what it means to live in a world of darkness, not knowing what things look like, which they can touch but not see. Such is the world for the blind-those who were born without the gift of sight, or lost it somewhere along the way. While it is wrong to feel so, but in terms of comparison, to have seen once or for a while is better than not having seen at all.

My first close encounter with the blind had me stunned-they existed on the periphery of my world, I had seldom spared them much thought, even though I felt sorry for them. I felt they were there somewhere far removed from my world. Till I came face to face…and got an opportunity to reach out to them. Facing fifteen children with smiling faces, was a shock that made me feel guilty for being complete…with a perfectly normal body and every possible gift life could have bestowed on me. My mind was in a state of turmoil with this close encounter, not being able to understand…would I be able to get close to them, would I cringe away from them, would I be able to look them in the eye?

After the first time, I had a choice…I did not need to go back, no one was forcing me, and the easiest option in front of me was to stay away, rather than push myself to try and teach them English…I knew my own limitations of not being a qualified teacher…would I be able to do justice? But all they needed was a bit of hand holding, a bit of support, and a bit of loving comfort as they picked up a few words of English.

And as I began to look at these innocent little beings, oblivious to their surroundings, I thought for a moment about what must be going on in their minds, and these words came up:

I opened my eyes into this world, but darkness enveloped me
I heard those soft endearing voices, but the faces I couldn’t see
As I grew, I knew my life would be a dark hole
To feel and touch, hear and speak, but sight was not mine to be

I hear sounds but the source remains an enigma
I taste and smell, but how things look I may never know
But still I feel the joy of being alive,
And know my way around to go.

I don’t know how many in this world can see
Who talk about the beauty seemingly surrounding me
All that I know is that I live with many like me
We bond due to our disability, and together we survive happily

The gift of touch helps me imagine
The sounds also have a story to tell
And with these I try and visualize
And I am told, the picture I draw comes out well.

Perhaps life is not fair, but I must not complain
I will have a tough life, but it might be without pain
I may not have much, but I will be untouched by greed
Because what I cannot see, I will never crave.

I can survive with simple joys and pleasures
Grow with the genuine warmth I discern
I wish I get not sympathy or pity
Only some care and genuine concern.

I live for today, thinking not far ahead
I should be able to build a life for myself
It will not be easy, but a path will open up instead
And who knows, one day, sunshine and light might just appear itself.