Monday, 4 February 2013

Our Tryst With Jack and Jill

 When they first came to us they were puny and smelt bad. They were so tiny that they snugly fit into our palms. Their skin was soft and furry and they loved it when we rubbed underneath their necks. Soon Jack and Jill acclimatized themselves to be held and petted by human hands and stoically bore with us as we lavished them with cuddles and kisses. But never once in their six months stay with us did they lose their identity of being squirrels and did a thorough job of chewing up our cupboards and curtain rods.

Our first interaction with squirrels occurred when our nieghbours asked us to take care of two new born squirrels as they were going out for a vacation. I was apprehensive and excited. After my pet cat died, I never had an opportunity to take care of animals and was looking forward to the little ones. But sadly they both died.  My daughters and I were inconsolable and my husband had his hands full comforting three tear y eyed women. With a heavy heart we buried them and placed flowers on their little graves.

When I came back home I told my husband that we had to get two squirrels and give it to the nieghbours. We contacted a lady from the Blue Cross and were over the moon when she told us that she had two orphaned baby squirrels.  We jumped at the opportunity and thus Jack and Jill entered our lives. Though we took them with the sole purpose of giving them to our neighbour’s daughters, we realised that we could not part with them. Our joy knew no bounds when our neighbour became less keen on having squirrels as pets.

This time, Subashini, the Blue Cross lady was there to help us out. She taught me how to feed them milk with 1 mm syringes and gave them homeopathic medicines as supplements. Very soon they became healthy and very active. Their home was a blue basket and they rollicked in it. As they grew a little older, we started giving them solid food. Their favourite was curd, coconut, chickoo and apple. During meal times, we would leave them on the dining table and place the fruits on it and they would run around and grab them and eat. They were caged only during nap time and had free access to our hall and bedroom. They would climb up the curtains and sit snugly on the rods and chew them to their hearts content. Soon we segmented their blue basket into sleeping and bathroom quarters and they understood that if they had to pee and poop they would have to come to the bathroom segment and do it. They learnt quickly and made me a proud momma.  Their favourite toy was Goofy and their favourite perch was Goofy’s nose. There was never a dull moment and we relished each and every moment that we spent with them.

Soon it was time to initiate them into the wild. My heart was heavy with the prospect t that they would leave soon. Jill was the leader and Jack always followed her. She quickly went up and down a rope which I had tied from my balcony to a money plant kept on the ground floor. But Jack was literally shivering at the prospect of climbing down a rope. We coaxed him, but he was so scared that he darted into his basket and hid under his bed covers.  I realised that Jill was capable of surviving in the open, but Jack was a gone case.

The next day I took them to the neighbour’s house and let them loose on a huge tree.  Jill darted immediately and scurried up; Jack hesitated and then quickly followed her. I left their basket on the tree with food in it. I was happy that my plan worked. My babies were now ready for their new life.  I visited them for a week and was glad when I saw them darting among branches.  With regular updates from my neighbour I was finally at peace knowing they were still together and free.

Of Sense and Sensibility

The dictionary describes the meaning of sense in its verb form as: to perceive, understand, comprehend and realise.  Similarly the meaning of sensibility is described in its verb form as: A person's delicate sensitivity that makes them readily offended or shocked.

So every time we voice our thoughts or act, we need to think about the audience.  We do have freedom of speech, but it ceases to be free when our words hurt or affect the sensibilities of the listener.

And of late, I find that the so called upholders of our great democratic nation are leaving no stone unturned in enlightening us with their free speech. Given below are some examples of great wisdom that have been spewing forth after the Delhi gang rape.


  • ‘Rapes don’t happen in Bharat, they only happen in India.’ (Oh yeah! Where does Mr. Bhagwat and his cadre who stroll around in their short half pants that has western outfit written all over it, live? Maybe Mr. Bhagwat could demarcate the border and help us out. We women folk could all go there and lead a rape free life.)

  •          ‘Like Sita, if women cross the Lakshman Rekha, they will be abducted by Ravana.’ (Gee!! One more task for me and my ilk. We will now have to save our maryada and set limits for ourselves.  Else great men like Kailash Vijayvargiya, will not be able to help us, but will readily reprimand us and say, ‘Hey you crossed your limits hence you deserved the rape, molestation, stalking and brutality’.)
  •    ‘All the 6 rapists of the Delhi gang rape are Bihari’s.’ (OK, this implies that Bihari men are a sexually deprived lot. Hmmm!!  Mr. Raj Thackeray, shall we send the Bihari men to Bharath, so that Mr. Bhagwat could train them? But before we send them there, what about the sexual offenders in your own party? Don’t tell me you have Bihari’s in your party and have started following the dictum that all Indians are your brothers and sisters?)
  •   ‘Marriage is a contract, husband provides and restrict women only to household work’ (And I was under the illusion that marriage was about love and give and take.  Foolish me!! So all ye women get ready to only  cook, clean, breed, milk the cows, make cow dung cakes, satisfy your husband, (because marital rape is not recognized as rape by our constitution) and most important maintain your maryada, else you  will tempt men to become Bihari’s)
  • ‘The Kolkata rape case is not rape, it’s a deal gone wrong between the client and the lady’ (Why do we need enemies when we have our very own female Ravana in the garb of Ms. Kakoli?

P.S:  To all Women,  once  you step out of home collect your rakhi’s from the vending machines provided by Bapu  Asaram and don’t forget to chant the Gayathri mantra . These are proven rape deterrents.

The list is endless and one could go on penning these bigoted thoughts which   cast a slur on a nation famous for its mysticism and goddesses. Sadly the moral police have lost their morality and we as a society have forgotten our values.  And the scapegoat for our moral degradation is the decadent western influence.  Thus, the western dress is responsible for rape, western culture for divorce, western movies for killings and violence. And we poor Indians are so vulnerable, clueless and gullible, that the western noose is having a field day and is tightening its grip on us.

How long will we continue to blame the west? Isn’t it high time that we take moral and ethical responsibilities for our own wrong doings? Each one of us have the capability to understand what sense and nonsense is, so why can’t we put these faculties to use?  Why should we heed those who affect the sensibility of our nation and its people? Remember that these people would not be there if it was not for our vote and support.  So the onus lies with each one of us  to  either clap for / or castigate those who affect our  sense and sensibilities.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

From Cheer to Haran in a Vaahan

My daughter’s school recently staged the Mahabharatha. As she was rattling off how successful it was, she also talked about Draupadi’s Cheerharan, which set off a thought process in my mind. And the persistent questions that kept recurring were these- Has the situation of women changed from the ancient to the modern times? Has there been any change in the way men view them? Do men value them?

Personally I believe that not much of change has happened between then and now. The only solace for Draupadi was Krishna, who saved her modesty. But in today’s India, there is no one to save a woman, because she was, is and always will be viewed as an object of lust.

It was as usual a field day for the TV channels who were discussing how to punish the Delhi gang rapists. But the questions I wish to ask are: How many members present in the discussion panel and the members belonging to the TV channels are ready to do something to change the laws of rape in this country?  How does it matter if rapists are given death sentence or are castrated chemically, unless and until they are put to use through speedy trials and sentencing without scope for bail or further appeals?

I heard people arguing saying an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. Here I pause to ask-Will they say the same if their family member was gang raped and brutalized? It is easy to talk and offer platitudes, but one can feel the pain and the trauma only when one goes through it or sees their loved ones going through it.  Personally I think that barbaric laws will hold good for rapists. Lynch or publically castrate them, let them feel the pain of their victim. This would be an apt deterrent for future rapists. And for once I really don’t care what the Human Rights Panel or Amnesty International thinks about my view.

As a mother of two daughters I feel scared. I chide myself for being so paranoid, but rape has become so common in today’s India that I have a right to be paranoid about my daughters’ safety.  Whom will mothers like me turn too if God forbid! Our daughters’ are molested, abducted or gang raped? To a chief minister who says girls and women should not venture after dark?  To Khap Panchayats who say that girls and boys should be married off young so that they don’t have impure sexual thoughts? To an insensitive police force, who have the audacity to say shamelessly that the girl should not have boarded the bus at such a late hour? To an ineffective and slow justice system where the victim needs to run from pillar to post to get justice? And finally to a society who ostracizes the victim instead of the perpetrator of the crime?


We can have candle light vigils and protest marches, but these protests will bear fruit only if they result in reforms and change of laws. But will such changes occur in our country where the government and opposition have MP’s with criminal and rape records? Can we sensitize such people who are only bothered about themselves and their family’s security?  Can we like Ireland change laws to protect our women or will we continue to turn a mute, deaf and blind eye to their pleas?


I frankly don’t know if we can get concrete solutions to the above questions, but as mothers we can definitely bring about a change. We need to stand by our daughters and ensure that they have freedom to live a life without being molested or raped. Let us prepare them to be brave and teach them to defend themselves, because we can no longer trust the law enforcement agencies. Let us teach our son’s these sentences which Gandhiji said, ““To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”