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HEAVEN IN DISTRESS: Memoirs From My Last Year’s Visit To The Kashmir Valley

PRAYERS for peace……undoubtedly, over guns in action !

Recalling the Eid……that was last year, with beaming faces exchanging the festive vibe, embracing to the enthusiasm of the occasion.  And the same Eid that recently passed by, nearly ‘silently’in the land of paradise, engulfed in the midst of protests, and pain that followed. A helpless reality, distressingly coinciding, with my fondest memories precisely a year ago.

As i recollect……the first glance was enchanting, the first feel was amiable, so were the tall & shady Chinars– a witness to the testimony of tumultuous times. The dwellings wore a peculiar old world charm of the hills and other significant establishments guarded by the ‘men in uniform’ , had a story each-the once so sought after tourist hub was calm & cordial, yet pulsating with life.

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Srinagar, our heavenly abode for the extended weekend was bustling with gaiety & fervor.It was Eid… a three day long celebration.

My perception of the violence stricken Kashmir Valley (marred largely by the media coverage) had promptly overturned. Second thoughts of visiting Srinagar pleasantly transformed into “thankfully i made this decision”.Of, course paying  a little more attention to my gut feeling.

And here i was, brimming with excitement, elated to explore the alluring environment of the city.

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The deep waters of the’ Dal’ were indeed inviting.The distant high rise mountains reflecting in the tranquil waters of the lake …..made for an imprinting memory.

Basking in to the onset of Autumn, cozying up to the chilly evenings, absorbing the aroma in the air;the atmosphere was harmoniously ‘engaging’ .

Well ! the otherwise scary and hazy image was gradually getting distinct. The fear was nowhere to be sensed, except for the deployment of ‘men in uniform’, silently proclaiming their presence.  A stark comparison to what the common perception is.

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However, the masses still carry the ‘wounds of the past’ and the present, which often pops up in any casual conversation. And this queer dislike for the people in power immediately becomes apparent.

Nonetheless, the city was ‘untroubled’. The perceived animosity was at its bottom low.The general mood was quaint, unbothered by the upheavals in the political corridors.

The paucity of visitors, though ,was evident. A long line up of shikaras & houseboats, waiting in vain was suggestive of the conflict that had almost overpowered its once blooming economy.

Since then a whole year has gone by.The seasons have changed, so have the state of affairs,  that too, drastically. ‘Stones’ have substituted for a smile, that once mesmerizing aroma in the air is missing.

The same state, same people.

Agitated, opposed, uncompromising and hostile.

The existing dissent ,slowly consuming the already frail foundation of ‘one nation’.

Somewhere amid all the anger & agony….

Peace lays buried !

My vow to visit the valley one more time, for now, seems unaccomplished. But i do wait in hope, to make many more memories in the lap of serenity, yet again.

 

 

An Ode To The City That Shaped Me: SHIMLA

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There is something infectious about this hill town.

The craving to come back here has escalated remarkably with each passing year. Thankfully, the period of deprivation and constant yearning ceases with the arrival of summers. The soul instantly rejuvenates amidst the healing deodars and the calming breeze, the steep slopes and the meandering alleys. It finds solace even in the clusters of haphazardly built homes and the traffic chaos, the crowded roads and the flood of tourists. Yes it does!

My yearly summer sojourn in Shimla is a stress reliever and reminiscent of the days that have shaped me into what I am today.

The other day, as I watched a bunch of school children with visibly heavy bags on their backs, climbing the narrow alley uphill and with hardly any sign of exhaustion on their faces,  it took me back into time when I carried more or less the same expression without a complaint.

We had a school routine that stretched beyond the normal hours of the day and homecoming, entirely at the mercy of weather gods and the obsolete Himachal Roadways school bus. Notwithstanding the fact that the after school hours were mostly deficient of the evening play and largely devoid of recreational space and the left over energy squeezed by the never ending home works; I can’t recall cribbing being part of the hills.

The way life sculptured in this hill town was in fact a reward in terms of ‘simplicity of existence’. The less was more indeed. Our initial two room rented accommodation was our abode for a long time. I grew from a child to a teenager in that little space with all the big dreams.

It amuses me even more, as I recall those times when commuting was a struggle in itself.  It used to be a long wait for the local buses and securing a seat in the overcrowded sole public transport then, was an achievement in itself.

Life wasn’t all plain sailing, yet it was far more uncomplicated and desirable.  The compensation lay in the little gratifications.

A stroll on the Mall road, a horse ride on the Ridge, a visit to my favorite pastry shop, and coming back with a mandatory cone of vanilla ice cream in one hand and an eye on that irresistible yet out of reach expensive dress in one corner of the famous showroom opposite Gaiety theatre, made for those priceless childhood memories.

The weather in Shimla was one significant aspect that altered our moods and choices turning it pretty much mundane; a perfect example of which was the three month long boring winter vacations that made us visibly entertainment starved. Social media and television expansion was yet to take off, so life was at the mercy of Doordarshan and the Hindi film video cassettes that we occasionally hired to elevate our bored senses. We probably were the few enthusiasts who willfully bribed our wilted hearts at that time with the condolence that ‘a bag full of excitement was waiting at the onset of spring’ as we waited in anticipation for the new school session to begin. Ironically, that is what I miss terribly today. A time when aimless conversations and sticking around each other mattered over fingers on gadgets.

The fact that these extended holidays coincided with a spell of heavy snowfall, candle light dinners and candle light conversations inevitably became part of the ‘nothing else to do routine’, courtesy the state electricity department. Probably I can’t forgive them for making our lives- the habitats of the frozen city, utterly unappealing and uninteresting in those days.

For that matter, the rains in Shimla have a knack of cheering me up even now, when I am miles away. Although, usually the clouds here relieve themselves with full force, nonetheless its mystical, refreshing and has the power to generate a plethora of emotions.  It triggers nostalgia and memories cascade when friends post pictures of the monsoon laden city. The dense fog crawling gradually over the hills and every bit of the city drenched in vibrant hues post the life disrupting rains, exudes a raw charm that once uplifted our spirits despite the disarray it brought with it.

Once a calm and serene abode, Shimla has certainly metamorphosed into a set of unplanned & muddled structures taking away the sheen off its pristine beauty, however, the peace it still offers is unmatched.

Growing up in this small quaint hill town (although now it’s no more a small town) was a gift and a privilege, the realization of which dawned quite late in life. And sometimes I ponder, what if I was born in this age of life saving gadgets and the new found luxuries? What if I could escape all the dull moments then?   But if that would have been the case, I wouldn’t  have probably emerged a more accommodating and a tougher being.

I actually learnt my lessons in survival in every possible way; in the scarcity of amenities, in the exhaustion of climbing slopes, in the endless wait for buses, in the wintry discomfort, in the disrupting rains and in the absence of resources.

I am a proud product of the hills and my strength and perseverance for life has a lot to do with my spare parts being greased with the dis pleasures and hardships of life here. Yes, it made a big difference.

I AM A MAN: No Rules for me !

He is 40, married and father to two young daughters. He comes home drunk, picks up an argument with his wife, beats her mercilessly with a wooden stick throughout the night, smashes her head against the wall until she starts bleeding profusely, refuses to give her food or water for 12 hours, she faints, injects her nearly lifeless body with painkillers, and when the torture eventually ceased    her breath, he slashes her head with a saw, plans to slaughter her into pieces and meticulously contrives to dispose her dissected body parts at different locations.

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This is a hideous tale of a man living in the suburbs of Delhi, a plumber by profession, who chose to teach a lesson to his wife in the most horrendous manner, just because he suspected infidelity.

Oh! Hold on. I just forgot to add something here. This very self righteous, bigoted monstrous already had a second wife and a baby girl from her and very blatantly let her stay with the one she butchered in his fit of madness and inflated ego.

Being a willful husband to two wives simultaneously, he rebuffed her first wife’s ranting, had the audacity to question her if she had an extra marital affair or eyed some other man, and without a trace of humanity executed her. This to me is one of the most gruesome murders in the recent past.

Yes, we have such obnoxious men in growing numbers who exercise their supremacy with complete assertion;  flaunting their ‘male tag’ with an irrefutable authority and a non essential permission to evaluate, judge and pass on the severest of punishment to a woman who dares to voice her suppression and injustice. By the way, who is she to them? Nothing more but a commodity, use and then throw if not required.

They are merely selected, chosen, secured and then acquired to manage kitchens, cater to the families, produce future generations, bow down, keep shut, obey and provide consistent pleasures on bed. And dare she raise an eyebrow or escalate her pitch.

The nasty vultures are ready to wreak vengeance in every possible way.  It’s a choice with them, whether to grill, scare, degrade, hit, burn, or chop her. Only to remind her of her origin, her feeble identity, her duties, her sole aim.

They are bloody just women, a piece of flesh. All they have is a vagina and a pair of breasts. Serve the purpose and stay zipped. What else?

There are no equals when a man is the provider and the so called protector. He is born to dictate and make rules. He is not here to follow them.

He can own one, two or three wives or even more than that. He can relish numerous women, flirt, rape, or murder. However, the bloody, dependent, incapacitated, good for nothing woman has no reason to point a finger or question her husband, her almighty.

In case you thought this is a one of its kind example and what have you got to do with it, let me give you an insight into the alarming figures from the National Crime Records Bureau.

To simplify the data clearly states that by 2013, over 848 women were harassed, raped, abducted or killed every single day in this country. The figures have only scaled since. And the place I call home, Delhi, has become the epicenter of crimes against women.

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For the judiciary, Subodh Kumar, the culprit in the above mentioned case, will be just another offender. And for the society, one more addition to the list of men who by default are cocksure of their superior gender and consider it their birth right to handle the woman in their own ways.

I understand, by now we are accustomed to such horrific, heart wrenching atrocities on women and it may not shake our conscience. But the woman, the wife and the mother in me is deeply unsettled inside, at the way the mother of two was hacked to death three days ago in the capital.

And much more agitated at the ‘pause to endure beyond a point’ , kind of rearing we fail to offer to our daughters.

Why don’t we raise our girls to respond to every affliction, every disregard with a strong opposition? Why the hell most of them are still educated to stick to their pati parmeshwars’ and be exemplary in their attempts to be stable homemakers even in the worst of situations? What is the need for that uninstructed command to keep their reservoir of pain hidden? Why do we want them to suffer in silence? Only to be chopped into pieces at the hands of an utterly insensitive man?

I guess we still busy breeding a generation with perverted notions and bigger egos, waiting for more daughters to go through the same fate.

WINTER, SNOW & NO FUN! Childhood memories of the once dark& dull winter holidays

The generosity of the weather gods draping my hometown Shimla, drop dead gorgeous in a pristine white blanket of snow, with nearly life crippling situation and a spell of darkness over the last weekend, took me back into time when a similar dose of climate chaos had upset our already mundane lives.

The scene was set against the backdrop of a heavily snow clad small hill town. It was 1992 then. The winters were gearing up for a small mention in the pages of history. The month of January had arrived, the temperatures had dipped remarkably low and the records were in the making. Life in the queen of hills was about to come to a standstill.

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At around 10 am on an icy cold lazy morning, when I woke up to untouched, luminescent white surroundings, I knew well, that the weather forecast had been more than true. It hadn’t snowed like this before in the past few years.

The winters had arrived with a bang and life had taken a back seat. The tall and shady devdaars bended helplessly, over burdened with piles of frozen snowflakes, the slanting tin roofs adorned the heavily laden mattresses of snow, and the roads were covered with nature’s immaculately designed white carpet and a few footprints. All mute witnesses to the one time stimulating yet, dreary part of the long school winter holidays.

Everything seemed unappealing and utterly uninspiring; post that initial excitement of the first heavy snowfall of the season. There was snow, snow and only snow as far as my eyes could see. The aftermath soon followed.

Candle light dinners, candle light conversations, candle light games, in fact, life was at the mercy of this cylindrical utility in wax. There was no power supply for over a week.

My working mother  was stranded at home, catering to me and my younger sibling’s ‘nothing else to do’ routine, while every single day my father would walk for nearly two hours to cover a distance of about six kilometres to reach his office. With no snow cutters and public transport almost negligible, there was hardly any choice left.

The day’s time table didn’t stretch far beyond eating and sleeping in our two bedroom rented top floor, we called home. Or else we creatively indulged in our favourite outdoor sport of making snow balls of all sizes, in an attempt to hit each other as hard as possible. Although every now and then waiting endlessly in vain, gazing at the tube light to sparkle  and surprise us.

To rest was the best. For that matter, taking a regular bath was conveniently avoided. And by the way, heading to the loo was another tough task to handle, so was obtaining water for the same. The water pipes had jammed and a chunk of ice was melted time and again over the gas burner in our dimly lit kitchen, to attend to the nature’s call.

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No heaters to warm up, no geysers for hot water, and more importantly no television.  Please spare a moment to imagine, how deeply uninteresting life could  turn in those  months of long winter vacations, when there was nothing more to elevate our bored senses, except a weekly Chitrhaar, and a weekly movie on Doordardarshan- the then sole source of entertainment, and that too was completely out of question, courtesy the state electricity department . The Hindi film video cassettes that we hired occasionally, for a day, were also inaccessible.

How many snowmen could we make? How many books could we read, how many forced afternoon naps could we take or how many dull moments could we embrace? Without any close friends, cousins or an extended family around, I and my younger brother were entertainment starved.

The ‘period of deprivation’ was hard indeed.

And eventually, after more than a week’s torture, when the bulbs and tube lights suddenly dwindled and illuminated our bedroom, I was visibly ecstatic. I had indeed, found God.

Life was back on track and having access to television again, was a blessing, more than anything else.

Well, for a bunch of enthusiastic tourists, it is usually euphoric, whose trip to the hills is successful, once they can jump, play, and revel in the snow. However, for us, the inhabitants of the frozen city, it was a box full of complaints against the wintry discomfort and the administrative set up.

The situation had turned up somewhat similar this time too, however, there was no dearth of pictures, updates, and emotions sailing through the internet in wake of abundance of snow after so long. Sometimes I think what If I was born in this age of life saving gadgets? What if I could escape all the dull moments then? But how would I have learned the lessons in survival. And nonetheless, in all the displeasures and hardships of a life in the hills, I think I have emerged a more accommodating and a more tougher being.

REMEMBERING THE LEGEND….. Om Puri through ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’

Mr. Ahuja, a middle aged drunk dumb head conniving builder in hope of a plump construction deal with his wit and captivating demeanour  in ‘Jane Bhi Do Yaaron’,  was a character that lay engraved in my memory for his exceptional comic timing and  dialogue delivery. Om Puri and Naseerudin Shah had become favourites and actors whom I looked up with great respect vis-à-vis the frontrunners of the commercial films.

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This was a film etched in my mind for its impeccable combination of humour and realism. The pragmatic satire had brought together legends of parallel cinema and a masterpiece was created.

One of the pioneers of realism in Indian cinema, today, Om Puri has embarked on a different journey altogether, creating a void in the Indian cinematic arena. His acting prowess and the sheer magic of his husky and impressionable voice has been a treasure of sorts for the Indian film industry.

His electrifying on screen presence in Jane Bhi Do Yaaron was the reason I had been waiting impatiently to watch him and others in the theatre for the first time.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to encounter this rib tickling humorous treat by the stalwarts of the art cinema once again. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss at any cost. Being an avid movie buff, I grabbed the tickets available to experience the extra ordinary classic comedy of the 80’s on the big screen.  ‘Jane Bhi do Yaaron’ is one such movie I always wanted my children to watch and have a taste of the acting genius of our times.

This evergreen cult film had left a remarkable impression on me as a child and it was no less than a laughter ride every time it appeared on television. I remember being fed generously on the kind of cinema Om Puri and his likes were part of.  Although as a child, none of my peers had that kind of art films exposure.  Thanks to my father, a writer and a cinema lover, his unconscious efforts were detrimental in shaping my intellectual persona, and had unknowingly, culminated into a tremendous fondness for films with a deep insight into the pathos and psyches of the common Indian.

The legend Om Puri had a number of stellar performances in his acting career; however, his outstanding and utterly hilarious portrayal in Jane Bhi Do Yaron was a character I could not erase from my memory. It is a difficult task to pick one favourite scene.

Waiting for a movie I had already seen was indeed a delight once again; with my children showering praises and laughing their hearts out the same way. The way I burst into laughter decade’s back, my children, equally enjoyed the charisma of this cult movie. The characters and the infamous dialogues were still afresh and I could easily recall a number of them.

His sudden and shocking demise yesterday, leaves me with a very unpleasant feeling.  We have lost yet another acting genius, who had made his mark as an actor with unconventional looks and a strong throw of voice. His choice of films and his versatility of characters put him into the category of one of India’s finest actors ever.

Nonetheless, we will continue to cherish his films as much we applaud the actor in him.

 

I WISH TO BE A BOY SOON- Dealing With A Daughter’s Dilemma

(This is the true story of a close friend in ‘first person)

I am a house maker, in my mid thirties and mother to a stubborn teenage, hyper sensitive offspring with a Gender Identity Disorder (GID).

Yes, I have a 14 year old daughter who is yearning for a gender reversal or as we more commonly know it- a ‘sex change operation’.

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I did not recognise her shocking transformation until three years back when she displayed visible signs of this utter dislike with her ‘female body’. Although, her demeanour was nearly boyish, that too, in the all girls’ convent school, it hardly seemed to trigger the keen desire in her at present. I didn’t realise as to when her appearance, clothing or body language took a drastic aversion and culminated into a strong mindset, adamant at doing away with her biological identity.

As a mother I carry layers of pain and struggle that I have locked firmly within, for years.

Well who wants the Pandora’s Box out in the open and send tremors down, into our calm and normal life. We were certainly not ready to encounter such a sensitive situation, that too, in the kind of dubious and ever pointing social set up we are a part of. I knew I had a bunch of otherwise mature individuals around me in the family and society, who perceive such behaviour as odd, unconventional and by large, unacceptable.

The mentally laborious process of denying and defying began a few years ago when she was 11. Our first face off with her ‘truth’ was very challenging. For my husband it was extremely distressing to cope up with the bitter reality. He often raised his hand at her and I told him, this was not the way out. He is yet to cover the long gap between acknowledgment and acceptance of her only daughter’s ‘identity in transition’.

The scolding’s and the unwelcoming attitude has pushed her into a traumatic silent world. She lives in this hard shell of solitude, keeping at bay with the world that surrounds her, juggling between her sense of ‘body betrayal’ and the resistance from her own father.

We have been through endless psychiatric consultations, counselling sessions, leaving us mentally exhausted. We had been keeping it under wraps for all these years. The fear of social stigma has haunted us for long and we have been hiding this uncomfortable fact from our family and friends, although, her appearance and gestures catch an eye or two, every now and then. My husband doesn’t prefer to take her for outings. Another day during a movie interval, she entered a ladies toilet, only to be mistaken for a boy, faced immediate objection and was asked to leave. Such situations are far more embarrassing and she too, behaves abruptly being hyper sensitive.

The onset of puberty was another task to tackle. It was a reminder that her physicality wasn’t in alignment with her mind. A year back, her dislike for her female being scaled another level when she happened to watch a you tube video on sex change operation. She has now been constantly insisting for the same. Our efforts, to tell her that it is not possible before a certain age and doesn’t guarantee success, have failed to convince her.

I was in fact surprised that she had access to terms like ‘puberty blockers’ and ‘hormonal injections’. I wasn’t shocked either, as we live in this age of information explosion. Nevertheless, she had been counselled that puberty suppression with hormones to develop traits of the gender that she identified with may be her way out, but at the same time, the changes may be hard to reverse. I have been at logger heads, every time, attempting to explain her regarding the medical complications and the possible repercussions.

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Having a young child with Gender Dysphoria earlier known as Gender Identity Disorder is not uncommon. It’s just that our awareness of such a fast growing sensitive issue among children worldwide is very limited. How to come to terms with a feeling that your body does not reflect your true gender and that significant discontent with your biological sex. However, the mismatch between body and internal sense of gender is not a mental illness, which the society otherwise is so adamant to label.

And our social responsibility to not disappoint people around us; that grave fear of rejection and the much bigger fact that everyone has been treating them as ‘one gender’, forbids us to gather the courage to confront the cruel world.

I always urge my husband to be friendlier with her and take her along out, though he still ignores my request. He loves her so much, but has lately, become a reservoir of conflict. And she too, in the process, adapted to his indifference. She has turned into a loner, opening up to a very limited set of friends.

I feel guilty, at times, as to how we put our own children to a solitary confinement, few friends and forced social deprivation, only because they deal with something that has sprung naturally and we are wary of accepting it. I am in constant pain to see my daughter’s dilemma.

Her disorientation and increased levels of discomfort with her body needed a more favourable approach from her father first; who believes it is something terribly wrong with her. In that case how can I point a finger at the world outside when my own better half is reluctant to accept her the way she is. And for that matter, how many of us are willing to accept and digest the fact that it is not an illness?

An offbeat situation like this raises our eyebrows and leaves us wide eyed open. I guess we are never conditioned to accept and absorb the ‘most sensitive’ issues of life with ease and maturity. Rather we grow up with inherent mute instructions to disregard them, as such behaviour is profoundly questionable, until the trauma tends to be unbearable and we desperately seek a helping hand and look for solutions in a psychiatrist or a therapist.

Gender confusion and problems like cross dressing, awkwardness with peers and such others are issues to be handled more sensitively, rather respond with a beating or threaten with dire consequences. Being unable to embrace one’s masculinity or feminine being, is treatable, and if persists, only requires a broader mindset.

Unlike the western nations where they have more ‘gender management clinics’ and a wider acceptability of the situation, I wish we rise above our levels of intolerance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON BEHALF OF TAIMUR

I have just landed four days ago

A newbie

In a fragile little body 

Snuggled in the arms of my guardians

Their prized possession

A much awaited ‘offspring’ to my celebrity parents

 

They had been anxiously waiting for my arrival

Ecstatic and intrigued…..

They announced me to the world.

I was conferred with my share of ‘instant fame’

Embarking on to a helpless journey

Into the murkier corridors of paparazzi

Thanks to the Almighty!

I am already a sensation.

 

The moment I became a physical separate being

They gave me an identity

A name

I am called ‘Taimur’.

My father, a history buff

Chose this for me

It comprehends to ‘iron’ or iron like in Arabic

But the ‘people’ have a problem with it.

 

They have labelled me barbarian

An invader,

My name equated to a ‘mass murder’

Wondering….

 If the same ‘Taimur’ has incarnated

 

 Someone said

 I share my name with the Pak missile

Another contemplated

If ‘Mughals’ had invaded us once again.

 

 And a few others,

Churning their ingenious brains

Ridiculously assumed

That I might not find a girlfriend,

For my name was too old fashioned.

 

Disfavour, disapproval, a disregard

My name has them in abundance.

They have trolled, mocked, condemned

Speculated and scrutinised to the core

A concoction of interpretations indeed!

 

However,

I am too tiny to respond

To your generous outpouring of displeasure!

And to the painstaking post-mortem

Of my name

Or, for that matter

Reciprocate your immense adulation

On the social media.

You have meticulously exercised

Your freedom of expression

 With a rhetoric

 

 I urge

Now, If  you could mind your own lives

Than dissect and decode my name.

 

 Let my parents revel my homecoming

Till then, put your utter nonsense to rest.

 

Yours lovingly,

Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

LET THEM QUESTION !

 

Nearly more than a decade ago, working with a national daily, while interviewing a NGO member associated with AIDS awareness, I had come across some disturbing disclosures cum queries from a general survey, that they had conducted in a prominent convent girl’s school in Shimla.

An apprehensive question like “What do I do about the physical complications that I have developed, post a hook up with my boyfriend”?, from a rather fretful and confused 14 year old, was an eye-opener indeed.

For that matter, have you ever felt terribly shy in the company of your children (and they, too experience it) in the midst of a passionate love making scene in a movie or a serial, a contraceptive or a sanitary napkins’ ad? Or when they ask you, “what is a ‘suhaagraat’ “? I have to admit; I too, have been through them on many occasions.

And now, when I look back, and ponder over the significance and the urgency of educating children regarding their physicality, puberty onset, sexual urges, levels of intimacy, relationship woes and the behavioural changes originating from such bodily transformations; I strongly feel such ‘questions’ are all around us, silently screaming for answers , and such ‘apprehensions’ waiting to get distinct.

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Notwithstanding the need for it, we still become ‘embarrassed dumb heads’. We still shun such queries and wish to evade their appropriate replies. Don’t we?

We Are Escapists

Well ! you know what; actually such questions and conversations are embarrassing, uncomfortable and inapt. And predominantly, not a part of our culture and sensible upbringing. We are inhabitants of a conservative set up, and a suitable distance is mandatory. Sex and sex related questions are labelled inappropriate, usually not discussed and elaborated.

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We primarily believe in action. Quite commendable for a nation, scaling high peaks of population growth, child sex abuse, sex crimes, and a merit holder for a country, with maximum porn viewership.

So What Have We Actually Done?

  • In the absence of a progressive and supportive mindset for education and information on sex related issues, we have successfully powered a generation with perverted perspective towards women, who find it absolutely normal to justify a ‘rejection’ in the form of any severe sexual harassment. In addition to that we have‘disillusioned’ adolescents and teenagers who experiment with their sexuality in a bid to prove that they have grown up, sometimes, ignorant of the potentially negative outcomes.

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  • And for that matter, why not? We have spoon fed technology to them and that now, information explosion is a substantial part of their growing up, our children too, have full access. Fingers on Facebook, a constant eye on you tube, and of, course the generous amount of porn easily available today, the resources are plenty for them, to explore, comprehend and indulge in such activities. Although, often, unreliable and misleading.

Did We Encourage A Healthy Communication?

Have a look at the two situations below, one from my school days and the other from my daughter’s class.

  • As I recollect a biology class in progress, (nearly 20 years ago) apparently, each one of us had a peculiar awkwardness on our faces, while the chapter on ‘reproduction’ was being taught. We were not the only ones who felt a bit hesitant, even our female teacher was visibly uneasy and shy.
  • On the other hand, my ten year old daughter came up to me with a comprehensive narrative of how they were introduced to the approaching physical changes in their bodies, in a puberty orientation programme called ‘Growing up’. Initially, separate sessions for boys & girls.

I am sure each one of us has faced an awkwardness of that sort at some point in life, simply, because the doors were always closed, hence, no one to guide. And a notice reading “Do not even think of asking such questions”, hanged permanently.

I am sorry to say, but we as a society and nation are still ‘blockhead’ and evasive. Over the years, we have remained indifferent when it comes to giving the requisite knowledge and adequate counselling to our own children in this regard.

New Age Parenting

The effort begins at home.

We can be more contributing towards common sexual misinterpretations and pertinent queries faced by children at this age .

As a parent myself, I at least attempt, not to evade these questions. I know easier said than done, I do try to deal it with patience, than tag it nuisance. At times, the mere explanation poses a challenge. However, all I ask for is some amount of time. Then in a simplified manner & in a language suited to their sensibilities,  satisfy their curiosity and strangeness towards it. And yes, I make it sure they do not feel ashamed of it. For instance, I said it was natural and just a process of growing up when she asked me about pubic hair. The outcome being, she seldom hides or keeps such awkwardness inside.

We can certainly help raise more ‘gender sensitised’ adolescents.

I know ‘we’ are yet not ready. Our age old values and upbringing pose a stiff resistance but we can at least try and strike a balance between our morals and their inquisitiveness.

The Schools Need To Step Forward 

So as the opening paragraph of my write up fairly clarifies as to what the absence of sex education can lead to, the role of educational institutions becomes all the more significant.

WHO clearly states that 34 % of the HIV infected persons are in the age group of 12 to 19. Therefore, it advocates imparting of sex education for children who are 12 years and above.

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The Benefits

  • Helps them being less inquisitive about the other gender.
  • Relieves them of the usual curiosity relating to their changes in body.
  • Helps in preventing child abuse, unwanted pregnancies, and educates about unprotected sex and it’s after effects.
  • A better way to deal with sexual issues in adulthood.
  • It may not be the only resort to prevent sex crimes, but is vital in shaping their mind sets.

Thankfully, a few private and government schools have taken up the cudgels for making our children less vulnerable to changing times, a lot of them still do not think of it as a necessity. They fail to view it as a learning process that can be parallel to the conventional teaching methods.

As some students are reluctant to open up and ask, a few teachers are equally wary of getting into that ‘forbidden zone’.The way some parents think sex education shouldn’t be part of the school curriculum, some teachers, too, believe it is not their job to teach it. Perhaps, all of them are not equipped to counsel. Most of them lack the expertise & carry a vague idea about sexual health themselves.

A guide to the ‘good touch bad touch’ and the growing up sessions may just be the beginning. But what if every child could confidently open up before its teacher, since most of the times, home is not the ideal place to talk about it.

Why Not Be The Change?

Let’s just accept the fact that a clear scientifically inclined emphasis on sexual needs, its complexities and its possible consequences, will help cultivate the adolescent’s minds towards a more ‘responsible sexual behaviour’.

The benefits can be rewarding.

Let’s just shed our inhibitions and be ‘friends’ to them. Help them decide what they should know and when they should know.

Let’s open the doors. Let the curiosities unfold, and let them be more sorted out.

Let them question!