The Quiz Mistress

It is raining books in my home:) What fabulous joy! My daughter’s first book has been published.

Here is to many more books and moments of celebrations Kathu! So proud of you. The best way of giving thanks to the Divine, is to share what we have with the world.

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That Unassailable Law

giving

I have been rather an untutored pupil in the practice of the spiritual law- “In giving do we receive”.  But on reading books by many mentors on the subject, it became clear to me, that every one of us are either following it or not, every moment of our lives.

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, one of the greatest vernacular writers, also known as a Sufi among writers for his humanistic approach to life, once commented that prayer can also be synonymous with giving water to a thirsty creature. Today, in the newspapers I read that a young man was beaten for hours together in a running train, by three passengers because he dared to drink water from one of their bottles, without asking. Evil then can be interpreted as denying a living creature a sip of water and assaulting him for daring to quench his thirst.

Life has taught me that many people find it very hard to give- freely of their love, time, intimacy, affection, kindness, laughter, even money. They are miserly by nature. Stingy with sharing anything significant for their own umpteen reasons. Fear- of loss of control, of intimacy, of being seen for their true selves, whatever it may be…fear prevents them from understanding that great spiritual law. And the harder they hold on to whatever they have in inscrutable negativity, like Ebenezer Scrooge or Marley, the more the chain links are getting forged- preventing them from being free to enjoy a  meaningful and full life.

On days that I have bitterly despised those who have wronged me (my version of course!), complained about lack of whatever I really deserved, looked at my resources with fear of them dwindling away leaving me struggling, my energy level had proportionately tumbled down to the depths. Life did not seem worth living on those days. What difference would that make anyway, the cynical voice would argue from within.

And then, like a ray from heaven, one call would come from somewhere, pushing me out of my own little self,  to do some work which involved another’s welfare. Whether it was attending to someone in distress or arranging help for a child in need, or a matter of creating a policy or action agenda for bettering lives of others… it focused my energy onto something positive, outside my own narrow self. And then, miraculously my energy level would soar sky high, as if an ineffable divine energy  source was buoying me upwards,  and then connections would form, the correct people, the correct information, the perfect help coming in…not just pouring in but cascading in harmony. I would be used as an instrument, to do my little bit in a chain of fortuitous events.

It was then that I learnt the way. On severe painful occasions, all one has to do to start a blessing of happiness would be to willingly and sincerely do an act of service. Giving away from your money, clothes, books, time, even your blood- anything for another less fortunate, would miraculously turn the focus of that divinity towards your own bereft self- replenishing you laughingly, as if whispering, ah, now smartie pie, you have caught on…Vivekananda, I remember,  had spoken about this unassailable law too.

Life  might have placed us all in different battle fields- metaphorical or real. But surely, to know that to drink  a joyful sip of water, one has to be part of giving a joyful sip of life too- is a battle secret worth knowing and practicing.

Happy Giving!

Each one, Teach one.

On a bright summer day in 2014, when the teachers of government schools of the district where I was working as District Magistrate, invited me for inaugurating a  sports function, I decided to pitch a challenge.

” Can you make Teaching Learning Material for  the children in the Anganwady (Govt kindergarten) in your compound ? From the material around you, using the skill and enthusiasm of your B.Ed days, getting the help from your young students in work experience classes, by contributing some money from your own pockets? These children from anganwadis can benefit with your creativity. After all, they are your future students”

To my great delight they volunteered to take up the challenge. In a matter of four months, we had organised multiple camps to distribute their TLM to the concerned anganwadis. Hundreds of schools volunteered enthusiastically and their imagination was outstanding! Except motivating them and attending all camps, and applauding as each anganwady received the TLM kit from the school, I did nothing.

Of the 1.29 lakh of anganwady kids studying, we reached out to  75,000  children through the initial response.  Mathematics, alphabets, memory tools- the talent was amazing!

This is one project which I wish ardently the civil society takes up too- if you are creative, create and donate to an anganwady next to your house.

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Warming Sunshine

When we start , the Arctic chill has coloured the fog an opaque white. The drive is long and the cold intense. But she is smiling. When the debate gets over, and I tell her that she had spoken well, she smiles again. Every one is excellent. The eight toppers had come after clearing a  rough total of two hundred and forty schools, each representing their respective branch levels, where they had stood first among thirty schools, to compete at the regionals. She does not make it into the top three, and being a biased mother, of course, I  am really irritated at the end results.

As we return, the sky is clear. She enjoys her tiffin, and wonders on the board practicals that had begun. She wishes aloud that her optics  and electricity experiments would work out fine.

” Are you not disappointed? ” I ask casually. I had literally pushed her out of a warm bed at an unearthly hour for this round of competition.

” Well, to be truthful, I prefer losing to better competitors. Not really at the top of the cloud, but  I had a lot of fun, you know!” She smiles.

Suddenly the car passes by three  very young girl children, carrying firewood on their heads. They are in rags in that bitter cold. Their mother is loading more firewood on her own head.

My daughter stops smiling.

” My sister’s age…” She murmurs.

” And that…”, I tell her, ” is the reality that you have to change by your work. Science and debates and life are meaningless if not for that resolution.”

She nods her head.” I will  continue to teach  Science to needy students,” she says. ” I will do it, irrespective of the place I join.”

This time, the sky clears in my mind.

I look out at the sunshine and smile.

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