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Life teaches us lessons in very strange ways. As each new year is added to the registry of my life, I find myself faced with more questions and fewer answers. And my questions get more and more difficult, so that even those older and wiser than me cannot provide me with the answers I seek. The recent experiences in my life have truly challenged me, but also pushed me to introspection and retrospection. The question I come against the most is a question for all the women of my culture and generation. And all those of similar cultures. Why do we accept and tolerate all that we do?

The last few weeks I have conversed with many sisters, sharing my story as I listened to theirs. This is not the first time I have heard a story and been shocked, surprised and pained to hear another’s experience. But it is strange how your own experience will give you a deeper insight. You suddenly wake up and say ‘how can this happen to me?!’ ‘This cant be happening to me!’ Suddenly your story becomes one of those stories women tell each other as a warning or as proof of how unfair the world is and our society is. Take heed, be careful…haven’t you heard what happened to xxx? You are an example now. And all those tales that seemed too cruel and ludicrous and impossible are only too real. They could easily be yours. Maybe they even are yours.

And as I relate my story and listen to theirs, the same helpless thought flashes across my eyes and theirs: why didn’t we do anything? Why did we accept it? Why did we tolerate as much as we did or stayed as long as we did?

For years I have campaigned for women’s rights and actively worked on women’s issues. Domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse. I know of it all. I know of in law issues. The drama of the Indian bahu. Dowry issues. Of cruelty, of culture and tradition being used as an excuse to mistreat or malign or slander. Of hidden backgrounds, of husbands with secret addictions and secret illnesses. I have, unfortunately, grown up with these tales. Read about them. Sometimes witnessed it too close to home.

The irony of my situation in light of this background does not escape me. It does confuse me farther, however. I was raised with much love and affection in a family that empowered me. I grew up thinking I could be whatever I wanted, like my mother. I was raised to be strong but to be polite, courteous, respectful of my elders. I was raised to love and give affection. To be responsible, to own my actions and decisions. I could question, but politely. I was raised to know fairness and truth and to stand by it. I had to follow my elders but not if it was wrong, unfair, or unethical. I had every opportunity and did my best, worked hard, obtained a good education, worked to be the professional I had always aimed to be. I am not dependent on anyone for financial help. I have a secure future, a brilliant one. I have an amazing support system. My family and friends support me and their love is unconditional. I have traveled the world independently, worked jobs, adapted to many different lives.

So why didn’t I wake up sooner? Why did I refuse to recognize the situation? And if I did, why was I willing to do all it takes to save something that was only hurting me?

The women in my life may ask themselves this too and may wonder it internally but they don’t ask me this. They don’t judge me or question me. I think this is maybe because they understand it too well. Maybe they know that if the situation was reversed, they may not have been able to do anything different. We are caught in a vortex. A vortex impacted by culture, tradition, society, preset moral values and norms, family pressures, personal obligations, sense of guilt and responsibility, expectations, fear, etc. etc. We are carried on streams not of our choosing, regardless of how strong, liberated, independent we may think we are. Our grandmothers, mothers, mother in laws, aunts, sisters, are all slave to these same forces. It is difficult to break the chains, break the pattern. My mother, my aunts, even my mother in law, may have once vowed that they would protect their daughters, that they would never let their daughters endure what they endured. They may have vowed to warn, teach, support and empower their daughters. Each mother would have envisioned a future for her daughter free of the negativity of her own past. I know my mother did. At some point, she even fooled herself, like I did, into thinking that we had broken free. Extremely loving in laws, a husband that is an equal partner, open minded family, etc etc etc.

However, as I stand on the other side and look back at my journey, I can only see the signs we missed that would have warned us that my path would be no different, maybe worse. I can see where we covered our eyes and chose the nicer, naive perspective, where we hoped for the best without taking action, where we decided to blame ourself rather than face the truth.

Because in the end, I really could not break the cycle. Not only in terms of what happened to me and what I endured but also in terms of what I did about it. The many chances to step away and walk away, the many chances to protect myself and my soul, I ignored them all. Despite everything, I took it all as my cross to bear and my burden to lift, even though it didn’t have to be.

And so my question is still unanswered. Why? Why did I? Why did all the women who did?

I think this is a question only stories can answer, and so I will keep listening to them and keep telling mine. And maybe one day it will make sense.

This shall pass

Ek woh din bhi the,
Ek yeh din bhi hain…

Ek woh raat thi,
Ek yeh raat hai…

Raat yeh bhi guzar jayegi…

Here’s something i only just started wondering about.

What does one pack up when one moves out of a significant others home and life? How does one pack up? What do you take and what do you leave behind? How quickly do you move? Do you ask for help or do it yourself? Do you pack carefully or just throw it in boxes? What do you do about the things you share? About the things you bought?

For some reason, i had three sets of pads in the bathroom drawer. Three large bags of Always sanitary pads in the third drawer of his bathroom I had just reorganized two days ago. Why would I have three bags? Two for heavy flow, one for light days. Do i pack all 3? I don’t have room. But what will these do here? You can never have too many pads. And these aren’t cheap. Should I combine half and half in one bag? When was my next cycle date? Will i need to still take birth control? Should I refill it here? Would he distribute them to his female friends? That would be odd. Would he think of me when he opened this drawer? Did i even want him to think of me when he looked at a bag of Always sanitary pads? When would he think of me?

I spent twenty minutes staring at the drawer, until my thoughts were swarming around me, forming a dense, confusing wall of images and words and phrases.

And then I shook myself, picked up a half empty bag of overnight heavy flows and stuffed several light days in it. I shut the drawer and I continued to pack.

I like to think that whether heavy or light, i’m prepared for my destined flow right now.

gawande failure and rescue

Especially after the very disappointing commencement I attended at my medical school for this years MD class. Im really looking forward to my graduation next year, but id like to have a speaker who inspires, motivates, and pushes me as I step into the world as a new doctor! Not someone who is carrying a political agenda, blowing their own horn, or are just awful speakers.

Gawande’s speech should go in the annals of awesome graduation speeches and also as part of those compilations for medical students and residents. I mean, everything that drips out of his wise mind should. This is an eloquent, excellently written description of one of the key features of medicine that we in the field ourselves like to avoid. We don’t like to think of failure, but the truth is that a plan is necessary at all times, and it is always a possibility. The bigger failure is not having a plan and not being able to pull off a feasible rescue, especially in this time and age.

I like to think that in a few years when I am in that position, I will not hold on to ego and useless vanity as I’ve seen others do but instead aim to have a stepwise plan for every possibility.

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

…why I continue to watch, love and relish movies from India (Bollywood/Kollywood/Tollywood/all of em!), I’m going to direct them right here:

http://memsaabstory.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/stereotyping-and-ignorance/#more-15416

I’m getting too tired to explain why the cinema of any culture is unique to its own, it shouldn’t and can’t be compared to any other. I love Korean melodramas, and I love fast paced well directed Hollywood flicks, and I’ll still relish DDLJ every time I watch it…I don’t expect one to be like another, I wouldn’t want that at all! The beauty of cinema is that it provides a kaleidoscope of the culture it grows from, it is unique to that culture, it is made to appeal to and serve that culture and those who appreciate it. Nothing can be or should be universally mainstream…where’s the fun in that? And how limited would our world and our horizons of creativity be if we only limited them to one style, one type, one “preset” accepted presentation of cinema.

Thank you, Memsaab :)

The Cup of Wine

…spilleth away

this post by a friend reminded me of some couplets by Omar Khaiyyam, from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyyam. Ah, how well I know the speed life takes, and how quickly it passes, and how difficult it is to hold onto a single moment. Life can change in a moment, take twists you never expected, bring you to a completely different place from where you started. The trick is to keep looking up and ahead, with hope and faith rather than despair and fatigue…to realize and accept what we’ve been given and live it as well as we can…

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

 Sometimes, though, its just so difficult.

Fox is Fair

‘course it is. them’s real tears glenn beck is streamin’, don’t ya know? he’s crying over the state of this foresaken country, you shameless liberals! and all you cynical skeptic jerks out there…tsk tsk tsk. lemme get me my rifle…nah, hold up, lemme watch sarah on the box first, i need me a sweet dream tonight!

News like this makes me glad I don’t own a TV, so I don’t even flit by Fox even on accident. This line sure did make me laugh out loud!

Palin said in a statement that she is “thrilled” to be joining Fox, adding, “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.”

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