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I am listening

Hi, my name is Asana. My parents had an arranged marriage. My mother Sheena had never met my father Anurag before they got married. My mother is charming with a svelte body and a good dancer. She loves cooking. Moreover she loves reading. She is  truly an extrovert. My father is handsome, a typical “man from mars” type personality with muscular physic and a born leader. He is a computer expert. He is smart and wilful, though not much romantic. But he has a caring heart.

17 October 1992, my parents got married. On the first night of wedding, my mother was nervous and so was my father. They haven’t met before so the ambience was full of questions. “What are your views about marriage?” asked Anurag. “For me marriage is a commitment”, replied Sheena. “I too have the same view” said Anurag. “I love to read and I’ve read a lot of text on marriages and parenting. Do you have any such interests?” asked Sheena. “Well I haven’t read any such text but I’ve observed my parents and their marital life. I have seen their love, their fights, their togetherness and their distances” replied Anurag. “Moreover, I mostly read Computer Code!” added Anurag. Sheena smiles ♥

Things were going good for few months. As in every relation, my parents started fighting, reasons being difference in their views, their ego, dominating attitude of my father, expectations of my mother. 24 March 1993, my mother told my father that she is expecting a baby. The whole family was rejoiced with the news. Divya, my mother’s best friend paid a visit to my mother. Along with her she brought a book named Garbh-Sanskar. Garbh-Sanskar is an astonishing way of teaching good things to the unborn baby in womb during pregnancyIt is said that in Mahabharata, Abhimanyu’s education began while he was still in Subhadra’s (the half-sister of Krishna, wife of Arjuna, and mother of Abhimanyu) womb. He overheard Arjuna telling Subhadra the secrets of how to enter, destroy and exit from, various battle formations. In Indian culture it is believed that education of real and traditional values and parenting starts right from the time the foetus is confirmed in the womb. The reason behind this is based on the belief that the foetus has the ability to listen to outer world. Hence, whatever falls on the ears of the foetus moulds it to become such person after birth.

My mother read the whole book and was fascinated by the facts given in it. One day my mother and father decided to apply the concepts given in that book. One such concept was: “Think before you talk because the baby is listening.” This was the toughest to apply since they used to fight very often. One day my father bought a green shirt for him. “How can you think of buying that? You already have one”, asked my mother. To this my father felt disappointment. He thought this shirt suits him the most and expected his beautiful wife to compliment him. My mother had a quarrel with fruit vendor. After coming home she started telling the incidence to my father. My father said, “Why do you let people treat you that way? Forget them.” She was annoyed. She expected him to listen. “You want to spend time with your friends, what about me?” asked my mother. “Dear, I would return by evening. Then I am there with you” replied my father. To this my mother said, “You mean your friends are more important than me?” “But that is not what I said”, replied my father. Soon they started fighting, forgetting that their little child is listening to them. My father went with his friends and my mother called up Divya. It was Divya’s suggestion to my mother to make a pact with my father that: No matter what happens, no fight, no words for words. My father agreed to this.

Now they started using the mechanism of checks-and-balances to see if anyone of them is “violating” the pact. One day my father was trying to fix a pipe in the kitchen. Despite of his rigorous efforts he failed to do so. My mother said, “You should call a plumber. He’ll know what to do.” My father said, “I can do is on my own, will need few minutes.” My mother said, “You fixing it since morning. Nothing had progressed.” My father got annoyed and felt like a loser who can’t fix a pipe. Soon he started raising his voice. My mother brought the pact in between. To this he humbly replied, “Dear, I feel like loser when you try giving me advice. You should know when a man feels like this, what if our child is a girl? She should be understanding men in a right way” “Oh Dear, I gave you the advice just to help you. Look at you. You look so tired”, replied my mother. My mother gave a thought to what my father said; so did my father. One day my father was busy doing his programming work. My mother came close to him and started talking. Then she said, “No one listens to me anymore”. To this my father replied, “But I am listening to you right now.” “No you are not” replied my mother. “Do you really think so?” asked my father. My mother was quite sensitive. She never forgot the pact and replied, “I am afraid I am boring to you. I am afraid you are no longer interested in me. I seem to be very sensitive today. Would you give me some special attention? I would love it. I’ve had a hard day and feel as though no one wants to hear what I have to say.” “Oh! I thought you meant to say, “I give you my attention but you don’t listen to me. You used to. You have become a very boring person to be with. I want someone exciting and interesting and you are definitely not that person. You have disappointed me. You are selfish, uncaring, and bad.” I was so wrong.” They hugged each other, and you know what I was smiling too. ♥

Things started becoming better between my father and my mother. They stopped fighting because it would teach me something wrong. Now they understood each other quite well. There were less fights and happier memorable moment until the day came when my mother was hospitalized for delivery. I was about to come in this world. I was about to see my parents to whom I have just heard. But something more was to be heard before coming to this world. My case was an ectopic pregnancy. It was a difficult situation as either of us would live. I wanted to live. I wanted to see the world. But my fate ended inside the womb! Everything was so silent. Asana never came to existence. You might wonder how I know my name. Don’t forget I heard it when my parents had a fight over my name. If I would have been a son, my name would be Aakash, and if daughter then Asana. I am still happy, because Asana and the Garbh-Sanskar brought my parents closer… I am still listening…

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Do Self-Help resources really help you?

It is said that “God helps them that helps themselves”. It’s quite true. But nowadays, Self-Help resources like books, magazines, blogs, and videos help people a lot. One should always thrive to improve self and in that endeavour taking help of such resources is not a sin. One who wants to improve “intellectually” is advised (by the Self-Help authors) to ask three questions prior to do anything: What, Why, and How. So why not apply these questions to the Self-Help resources itself? What is Self-Help? Why do I need Self-Help? How will I find ways to Self-Help? Let’s deal with each of them.

Wikipedia defines Self-Help as a self-guided improvement—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. For me Self-Help is nothing but an attempt to make ourselves what we desire out of ourselves. It’s like improving ourselves daily. It’s learning. The term Metanoia – the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self or way of life – suits perfectly to this context.

I remember that in my career as an engineering student we had a book by Dale Carnegie – Art of Public Speaking – in our curriculum. After reading the gist I wondered and asked myself a question: Do I really need to read the book prior to speaking in public? The question had an essence of self-confidence mixed with sarcasm. At the same time there were few students in my class who lacked the self-confidence that they can be a good orator held the book as a “divine blessing”.  I never meant to disrespect the author and at the same time I never meant to underestimate myself. The author has given his best to the bestselling book around the globe. I read the book and adored it. Reading such texts one would surely develop a notion about learning through Self-Help resources. Recently I read an article being published on the World Wide Web dealing with matters of Love. It had everything starting from “how to ask a girl for a date” to “how to end a relationship like a real man”. I just broke into laughter. My point is one need to reach such resources only when she/he has the confidence that she/he cannot do a thing but has a desire to do it.

Now the last question is quite interesting and important. How will I Help Myself? Now every Self-Help material starts their mentoring with this question. In my childhood I used to hear lots of stories from my grandma and my mother. At the end of the stories they used to give me moral-of-the-story, followed with a question: Did you understand? Well I never understood anything because I used to “hear” them. There were proverbs written on the walls of our classroom. I used to read them, but never thought about what they mean. As soon as my parents allowed me to live with the attitude “let me handle myself” I started encountering problems. My problems are the opening doors to start helping myself. Understanding self is the foremost thing one should do. Knowing one’s strength and weakness helps a lot. It makes you strong, confident, and a good learner. Improve on your weakness to transform them into your strengths. Now I don’t hear, but listen. I don’t read, but understand. I don’t see but observe.

A friend of mine had a breakup with his girlfriend. It was hard time for him. Soon he started blaming himself and things became worst for him. He was losing his self-esteem. He took help of Self-Help book on matters of love. Now he was feeling good and gaining confidence. In reality he was following the tips without applying his own mind. The ‘good’ feeling was temporary. No book can teach you how to behave at every moment of your life. It is said that a real teacher is one who gives you the vision and not just the view. In case of Self-Help we are our teachers. Merely reading the Self-Help materials won’t help unless you apply your mind. Just by reading “how to become a good orator” or “how to be a real man” won’t make you either of it. Next time when you go through such thing remember to apply your own brains. Or else it will lead you nowhere.