ബഹളമില്ലാത്ത ജോലികൾ

For-most-of-history-Anonymous-was-a-woman.

ഏറ്റവും കൂടുതൽ തൊഴിലില്ലായ്മ ഉള്ള സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിൽ കേരളവും പെടുന്നു എന്ന് വാർത്ത. എൻ്റെ ചിന്ത പോയത് ‘തൊഴിൽ’ എന്ന ശബ്ദത്തിനെ ചുറ്റിപ്പറ്റിയാണ്. എവിടെയോ ബേസിക് ഇക്കണോമിക്‌സ് ക്ലാസ്സിൽ ‘ If a man marries his housekeeper, the GDP falls’ എന്ന് പ്രൊഫെസ്സർ പരാമർശിച്ചത് ഓർത്തുപോയി. വീട്ടുപണി കൂലിയ്ക്കു ചെയ്താൽ സാമ്പത്തിക ശ്രേണിയിൽ പെടും, ഇല്ലെങ്കിലോ? ആരും കാണാത്ത, വില കൊടുക്കാത്ത ജോലി! അസംഘടിത മേഖലയാണല്ലോ വീട്ടുപണിയും!

ലോകത്തിൽ എവിടെയാണെങ്കിലും ,ചില ജോലികൾ വലിയ ബഹളമില്ലാതെ ആരെങ്കിലും ചെയ്താലേ വീട്, വീടായിരിക്കൂ:
തൂക്കുക, പൊടി തുടയ്ക്കുക, ബാത്റൂം വൃത്തിയാക്കുക, വസ്ത്രങ്ങൾ അലക്കുക, ഇസ്തിരിയിടുക, ചെടികൾ നട്ടു നനയ്ക്കുക, ആഹാരം വയ്ച്ചു വിളമ്പുക, പാത്രങ്ങൾ കഴുകുക, തുരുമ്പിച്ചതും, ജീർണിച്ചതുമായ വസ്തുക്കളെ കളയുക, മാലിന്യ നിർമാർജ്ജനം….
ഇതും അന്തവും, ആദിയുമില്ലാത്ത തൊഴിൽ തന്നെ. പൈസയ്ക്ക് ചെയ്യിച്ചാൽ കുടുംബത്തിന്റെ മുക്കാൽ ബഡ്ജറ്റും കൊണ്ട് പോകുന്ന ‘വിലപിടിച്ച സേവനങ്ങൾ.’
ഇതിനോടൊപ്പം കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളെ വളർത്തുന്നതും കൂടിയാകുമ്പോൾ, ‘ഇക്കണോമിക്‌സ്’ പഠിക്കാതെ തന്നെ, ‘ദൈവമേ, ഇതെല്ലാം കാശിനു ചെയ്യിക്കാനിരുന്നാൽ ജോലിസ്ഥലത്തു ഉണ്ടാക്കുന്ന കാശു മുഴുവനായും പലർക്കും കൊടുക്കേണ്ടി വന്നേനെ’ എന്ന് വ്യക്തമാവുകയും ചെയ്യും.
ഇത് വെറും സാധാരണ കുടുംബ കാര്യം. ഇതൊക്കെ ഒരു വിഷയമാണോ എന്ന് ചിന്തിച്ചേക്കാം.

രണ്ടിടത്താണ് വിഷയം സ്പർശിക്കുന്നത് : വീട്ടിലെ ഒരിക്കലും ഒടുങ്ങാത്ത ജോലികൾക്കിടയിൽ തന്നിലെ പ്രതിഭയെ വളർത്താനാവാത്ത സ്ത്രീകൾ ( ‘ A room of one’s own’ ഇൽ Virginia Woolf വ്യക്തമാക്കിയതാണ്); പിന്നെ നിറഞ്ഞ മനസ്സോടെ വീട്ടിലെ എല്ലാ പണികളും ചെയ്താലും, മാധവിക്കുട്ടിയുടെ ‘കോലാട്’ എന്ന ചെറുകഥയിലെ വീട്ടമ്മയെ പോലെ ഒരിക്കലും അംഗീകാരം ലഭിക്കാത്ത സ്ത്രീകൾ.

എല്ലാ തൊഴിലിനും വിലയുണ്ട്, ഏതു ജോലിയും അഭിമാനത്തോടെ ചെയ്യണം എന്ന് നമ്മൾ പഠിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ടെങ്കിലോ? അപ്പോൾ ആരെയും നാം വിലകുറച്ചു കാണില്ല; ജോലിയുടെ പേരിൽ വീമ്പിളക്കില്ല , മറ്റുള്ളവരെ അപഹസിക്കില്ല. ഭംഗിയായി വീട് നോക്കുന്ന സ്ത്രീയെയും പുരുഷനേയും ബഹുമാനത്തോടെ കാണും, അവരിൽ നിന്നും പഠിക്കാൻ നോക്കും. ഭംഗിയായി ഏതു ജോലി ചെയ്യുന്നവരെയും മനസ്സിൽ നമിക്കും. പണ്ട് Emerson പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്.

‘If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.’

വിവേകാനന്ദനും പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ടല്ലോ : ‘ദിവസവും വിഡ്ഢിത്തം പുലമ്പുന്ന പ്രൊഫെസ്സറെ ക്കാളും നല്ല ജോഡി ചെരുപ്പുണ്ടാക്കുന്ന ചെരുപ്പ് കുത്തിയാവുന്നതാണ് നല്ലത്.’

പറയാൻ എളുപ്പമാണ്. പക്ഷെ ജീവിച്ചു കാണിക്കാൻ പ്രയാസവും. ‘തൊഴിൽ’/വൊക്കേഷൻ /ജോലി എന്നതിന് നമ്മൾ വിചാരിച്ചാൽ പല തലങ്ങളും നൽകാം. അതിനു സജ്ജമായ മനസ്സാണ് ആദ്യമായി ആർജ്ജിക്കേണ്ടത് എന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു.

No Disclaimer

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If I could direct a short film, I will base it on  the theme ‘Respect.’  In the Canterbury tales, in her answer to what a woman truly wants, the old crone says, ‘autonomy over her life’. That is the version which has come to my notice anyway. To put it simply, ‘Respect.’

Going by my own life lessons, that was the toughest examination question that life posed: ‘how long will you stay without respect?’ It happened many times- in both personal and professional relations. Every time, the litmus test was the same.

Every time I made the fundamental mistake of being naive and expecting that the world was full of respectful people. So from one situation to another, I would march right on, without ever pausing to check the environment first: the subtle learning forgotten-‘find out what you are getting into.’

Why the Universe  had to expose me to the same  lesson multiple times has become clear to me by now. I was the  quintessential poor student, who kept failing every time and the Universe had no option but to force me to retake the examination many  more times: in different circumstances, with different characters playing in the scenes, but with one underlying core test.

‘Can you understand why you are in the midst of this drama?’

Now after a series of failures, I am confident to state the answer .

‘I know, sir! Oh, yes. Because I was dumb enough to not check the waters first. There is no respect anywhere in the treacherous vicinity, M’Lord! And every second I stay, my lifeblood will be sucked out by the negativity and pettiness. I shall now check carefully the environments where I invest my life and time and never compromise on my self respect.’

And thus I take up my pen . To write a note for those who might benefit from my mistakes.

Cardinal Rules of Life:

1. There is no love or growth without respect. It can be anything else, but disabuse yourself of the falsehood that love or growth thrives without respect. It does not.

2 . If someone gets a kick out of seeing you play small, making you look small, ensuring you stay small, either get ready to be a bonsai or step away. To grow into what you were meant to be.

3.  If you have tasted gutter water all your life- metaphorically speaking- you will find ‘respect’ a strange sort of drink at first! But get used to this heartening elixir, and you find yourself strong and alive again. For that, pick work, friends, and environments carefully. Else that old addiction to gutter water can take over and you will again find yourself in circumstances where respect is a word that is banned.

4. Nothing matters except your dignity. No one has the right to humiliate you or degrade you. No hidden agendas are powerful enough to hurt you; if you can see through the elaborate set up. The game of thrones is always at play in the friendly neighbourhood of one’s own life; but a wariness about the intentions of the other  actors might make you less vulnerable to hurt. You can step away, detached.

5. Be graceful as you step away from abusive environments. But listen!If needed, fight hard . If someone reads your quietness as weakness, and tries to harass you, do not hesitate before taking action. File a complaint.  Have your lawyer’s number on your speed dial.

**

All life’s lessons are totally my own. No disclaimer.

Transitions

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At nineteen,

I chose my path and all it had,

Unknowing of others

With more spirit, kindness and equal strength

Who could make my journey

True and meaningful.

At eighteen,

She chooses to follow galaxies

Laughing about observations made

From my own life.

 

I spent a lifetime struggling-

To survive, to just be.

My hands were calloused with holding

Weapons forged in life’s hot fires;

Fighting every inch of the way.

She tells me that life is better spent

If the tides are chosen well,

To swim easily, not fighting for every breath.

 

At cross roads, I often stumbled

Mistaking smiles for love:

Not realising that the sharpest fangs

Are hidden in the sweetest intonations

Of welcoming companionship.

She tells me that at cross roads,

All which matters is an unfailing compass

That marks out the pole star

Of your own destiny.

 

At  unforgiving transitions then,

May you fare better than I did, my child.

And may my failures be

Your inspirations

For always choosing better:

Cross checking with your inner eye-

That unfailing star, unerring compass,

That Kindly light,

Showing you the Way.

***

The Gift of Fear

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Have you been in an abusive relationship? I hope and pray that you never get into one.

I was reading  about Gavin de Becker’s ‘The Gift of Fear:survival signals that protect us from violence.’ It is about trusting the intuition, rather than any technology, to protect you from violence.

Violence can be of several types- physical, mental, psychological, emotional….the victim is abused because the perpetrator believes very strongly that ‘ you have been asking for it due to your behaviour/ choices/ resistance etc..’

All blame is shifted onto the victim. The perpetrator believes that , after all, he or she is the master of your life , is it not?

Abusers adduce to themselves the power of God-

-they will decide how you think,

-what you think about,

-what you dress in,

-what job you do,

-to whom you speak,

-in which manner you speak,

-whether you have the choice of saying NO,

-whether your life belongs to them (due to what they consider as their ownership papers- marriage or engagement  or commitment)

-whether you have any right to have sanity and breathe fresh air…

Actually, to that man or woman- you have nothing of the above choices. They will control. End of discussion. Why? Because…well because you are the cause of all their suffering. Oh yeah! Had you been an ideal man/ woman/ lover/ wife/ fiancée/ mother/ Godzilla… It would not happened, you see? So you deserve to be punished by all means available- legally, financially, psychologically, physically, emotionally…

Do children matter in this rampage? Not at all. They are collateral damage- they deserve it too because they are siding with the victim, aren’t they? What is the use of  by products,  that are of no use to the  original argument, eh?

Have they not heard of the words ‘moving on?’ When both human beings detest each other, what is the point of hanging on together?

No.

And that is why you have  dead beat dads, abusers, psychopaths, sociopaths, criminals, honour killers ,  and their ilk. The degree of crime is different but the underlying philosophy is the same. “You deserve to be punished for daring to do something that is not accepted in their code of living.”

I will not deign it to call as a code of honour- that will be belittling the word itself.

Quote from the book: ‘ For men like this, rejection is a threat to the identity, the persona, to the entire self, and in this sense their crimes could be called murder in defence of the self.’

De Becker forewarns- ‘ Like every creature, you can know when you are in the presence of danger. You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.’

***

Women across ages, have felt the trap closing around them so often, and still chosen to ignore it . They have for ages, suffered  terribly due to that stupidity. Suffocated and degraded into apologising for what they were.Told continuously that they were not good enough/ woman enough/ this enough/ that enough/  and drained of everything beautiful and dignified in this world. See, it was all the victim’s fault.

Later, victims have fled when intuition asked them to. The safety cannot be expressed in words.Even from within the safe arms of all those who loved them, within their strong forts, armed by their own true strength, they have been battling evil.

An evil which believes that no one has a right to run away, to escape to hope for a new life. ‘Ha! You thought you can get away easily , did you? Without all those humiliations that I was storing up for you day by day? I shall drag you through years of degradation, and subject you to the totality of all that was rotting within me. I will make you wish that you had remained under my control- because the act of escaping has made you deserve a punishment more harsh than  your rebellious subservience.’ See, it is all  the victim’s fault.

****

I am working on the translation( from Malayalam to English) of a taut psychological Novella that will  go to print in a matter of months.

The protagonist is a victim who turns herself into a perpetrator. It is a deeply disturbing transformation- wherein I have found my fingers trembling as I translated her thoughts, her vengeance, her fury. Try as I might to distance myself from the emotions every time I edit it, I find myself staring at that disturbing chasm of churning human emotions.

Suddenly, I do not know whom to pity- the heroine or the others. In one way, she has turned the tables by destroying everything. Medea she is, and justifiably so, in her perspective.

“Violence is a process, a chain in which the violent outcome is only one link,” explains de Becker. There are four sub components-

1. Justification- the person makes a judgement that they have been intentionally wronged

2. Alternatives- violence seems the only way forward to seek redress or justice

3. Consequences- they decide they can live with the outcome

4. Ability- they have confidence in their ability to use their brains or body or cunning or money to achieve their aims.

****

I think of William Faulkner’s disturbing classic short story,  ‘That evening sun go down.’ If ever there was a story to highlight  the theory of Gavin de Becker, it had been that. The doomed Nancy, I shall never forget. Ironically, the victim who had ignored her intuition  to her peril, in another great classic, Oliver Twist, had been named Nancy too.

All of which gives me a sense of destiny. At this point of my life, I was supposed to do this translation, read this book, and even type this note. To literally speak out against abuse of every kind.

For freedom, for independence, for dignity.

 

 

 

 

Notes To Myself

Perhaps tragedies have a way of throwing us into ice cold water and shocking the hell out of us- albeit temporarily.

But as Eliot wrote presciently, ‘..humankind cannot bear too much reality.’

However, in Indian mythology, in different versions of almost the same story, whether it is Nahusha cursed as a serpent asking Yudhistir about the greatest farce on earth or the Crane asking him on the greatest wonder there is, ( YakshaPrashna-or Baka Prashna), answer is the same:

‘Even when countless people die daily, those who live on, refuse to accept their mortality.’

Of course, the under current philosophy was to live with awareness and make the best of life; discovering what one wanted truly-instead of getting side tracked  into collecting the glittering baubles that the crowd seems to seek avariciously.

***

If I could write notes to myself today, I would add this amazing poem by the great Gopal Das Neeraj, called, ” Jeevan Nahin Mara Karta Hai.”

http://poems2remember.blogspot.in/2007/01/jeevan-nahi-mara-karta-hai-life-it.html

The last paragraph is especially relevant.

Nafrat gale laganewalon

Sab par dhool udanewalon

Kuch mukhadon Ki naraazy se

Darpan Nahin Mara Karta hai…

****

What certain women would like to speak

.courage

  1. If you think you can crush me, oh please-

You are sadly mistaken.

Sorry to disappoint you,

But I was born with a stubborn gene –

Which gathers strength with each attempt

Of humiliation, defamation, degradation.

And I was born with a funny bone too

That laughs with derision at every manly effort

To make a joke of my life.

Do check with those who love me,

You might be surprised

How much we laugh together,

As we dare to grow more lushly

Every beautiful day.

2.

It hurts , does it not

To see joy where you imagined sorrow?

Words, where you imagined terror?

Life, where you imagined death?

You have been encroaching into my sanctuary

Even after the boundaries closed shut long before,

Trying to spread the deep malaise of your nature

To infect the roots  of my happy  tree

Poisoning everything green around

With your fumes of hatred, lies and malice.

You have gone raving mad in the attempt,

I am merely bemused at your antics.

My roots go deep down the earth of my own truth

Which , is deeper than the whole falsehood of your beliefs.

Because, my truth is this:

Every human being deserves to be free- from what ails it

And be happy.

Try that bitter medicine for your chronic illness.

****

 

For My Daughters: A Letter

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My daughters,

One day, amma might not be there to tell you all these tidbits. Not pleasant to hear, eh, but then, we will start with discussing some home truths.

The world in which you live has both darkness and light. Like your favourite movies and books have villains and villainess abounding, our little earth has her share of these horrid creatures too. Dementors, Soul-suckers, horrendous evil- name them what you may- they exist.

Remember the scene of those froth dripping mouths of evil when they attacked Frodo and Company in the Two Towers?They were trying to stop those monsters from getting to the innocent women and children.

Evil exists, in both myth and reality. In fiction, fantasy and our daily lives. In souls so dark that a six month old flesh and seventy year old flesh and twenty year old flesh are all flesh to them- to be attacked and devilled and destroyed. Hence, caution!

Amma does not want to frighten you. But awareness is the first strength. So start being aware that all things that smile need not be the Kind GrandMother. It could be a wicked wolf in disguise too.

How can you make out the deadly swamp from the pure river?

The great intuitive power which the Divine has vested in you, will serve you well. But for that, you have to value that gift, and respect it.

It is called the Ïnner voice.

By the way, there is a word called “Bestiality” in the English language. Among the various meanings are “being like an animal” or “being depraved or brutal”.

I want you to listen to this very carefully.

There is not a single living animal, bird, insect or fish…any non-human living thing which is capable of “bestiality” as much as the human being- man or woman. Animals might kill, but they kill to defend themselves or to satisfy their hunger. Even the wild lion, tiger, bear…they do not commit acts of unimagined torture on another living being. They do not rape and insert rods into innocents. They do not throw burning acid into beautiful faces claiming to love them.They do not shoot a child because she went to school. They do not hammer the head of a three year old because her parents pray to God in a manner different to theirs.

So, only human beings are capable of “bestiality”. We defined the word in the first place- no animal did.

That is a very important lesson to remember as you grow up in this world.

Have I frightened you? Sometimes, fear is a good companion, provided we let her sit afar and tell us her tales.

Does that mean, all the bright, beautiful, brilliant little souls should hide themselves away?

No.

It means that all the bright, beautiful, brilliant little souls should stay wide awake in their awareness- of light and dark.

Listen with a smile to the cacophony around you– telling you what to wear, what to dream of, whom to desire,what to yearn for,how to worship God,which job to do, what vacation to take, how to be hot, how to be cool..go ahead, listen…but then decide for yourself.

That is another lesson, by the way. (Have you wondered on that phrase- by the way? By life’s way, as we travel..:)

Decide for yourself – all your life choices. You will make mistakes, but they are yourmistakes.

Be proud of the fact that you chose for yourself, even if you failed.

Dust yourself up, cry a bit, but then simply go ahead and choose again.

That is thousand times better than primping that you never made a mistake at all.

There is the story of an old crone in the Canterbury Tales.  Someone is tasked to find the answer from her on the greatly discussed question: What do women want?

The old crone gives the answer : Sovereignty over their lives.

How do I explain that conundrum to you?

Hmmm, let us put it this way:

Women (as well as men) have the right to dream of living their own lives. They have the right to choose their destinies. They have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. They have the right to let their inner light shine forth in whatever creative way they might choose for themselves.

Basically, they can dress, dance, walk, sing, dream, work, study, climb mountains, play football, mess around with clay and wet earth, fall in love, make love, have children, watch them grow, live happily, die gracefully…I hope you get what I mean.

But then, my girls, sadly, even after millions of years later, having been evolved from primitive animals, our world seems to be having difficulty about this simple proposition.Especially when it comes to women, let alone groups and sub groups of apparently “different” characters.

Remember the phrase ” Live and Let Live”.

It is also one of the greatest spiritual principles enshrined in all religions of this world.

It is based on one word- respect.

I have a right to live and shine in this world- as much as you have. As much as a butterfly has. As much as that evil creature has. As much as the mango tree has.

Yeah.

So, where were we?

Somewhere on the way, Amma lost track of what she originally wanted to tell you.

Does not matter, right now- the sunshine is bright enough.

And remember as you run off and play- be kind, be tolerant, be accepting, be yourselves.

Dare to be.

Bless you,

Your Amma