Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Little Anchors

The dictionary meaning of "anchor" is a heavy piece of metal lowered from a ship into the water in order to stop the ship from moving. In life sometimes we need strong anchors who steady the rocking boat of life. And as I found out, these anchors could belong to small hands as well.

The househelp who is working at my place lost her husband and she has four children to look after. Now the eldest daughter also works as house help at another place. She is dark yet very mature and attractive. I saw the way she takes decision for all matters of the family and how controlled and decisive she is in all the work that she does. I was really impressed. The mother listens to her and does things accordingly not because she is scared but she also has come to respect her daughter's decisions. This girl has studied only till the 5th standard but her siblings are going to school.

I do not know whether she was good at studies or whether she was interested in going to school and study further but all I can see is that she has sacrificed her interests in the whole interest of the family - to earn and ensure her brother and sisters are educated.

I was wondering about the maturity of this young girl. It would of course remain a mystery as to what she would have achieved in life and how her life would have shaped up, if she had the opportunity to be educated. Wouldn't she have had a dream for herself? Wouldn't she have aspired to be somebody, someday? But like she does on a daily basis, she took a decision - to keep her interests at bay and give her family the top priority.

This is a little salute to the millions of little anchors that dot our country.

Down Memory Lane......

The moment summer vacations approach, we see tension and worry written all over the face of the mother. In fact, I have heard parents complaining as to why schools give vacation at all? When I was working as a teacher, parents would request us to have some special classes for children during vacation time. This request was coming from home maker mothers. In such a case, one can imagine the plight of working mothers.

I totally empathise with the mothers, as keeping the children occupied for two whole months is not an easy task at all. Don't we all know this? Specially when children are so restless and so energetic that they need something or the other to keep them occupied.

In earlier days, when we were kids we really used to look forward to our summer vacations as that would be the time when we could visit our grand parents in the village. Even mom would look forward to this vacation as she would also get time to be with her parents and a good break from the routine work. I remember the thrill of getting up early in the morning at five and we all would get ready and go to the bus stop and leave by 7.30 am to reach only at 6.00 in the evening. My grand parents also would look forward to these times when they could pamper their grand children and their daughter!

I still remember the way the bath water would smell with water being heated in the large copper vessel, the aroma of food cooked by using firewood, the delicious laddoos that my grand mother would have already prepared along with whole lot of other yummy snacks. Imagine all painstakingly done at home with the major ingredient added for the food being love!!

Sometimes my cousins also would come and we would have some great adventure too! My daredevil cousin brothers would ask the auto driver and drive the auto themselves and take us to the government guest house which was right on top of a hill (luckily we have survived all these mad expeditions!) , going out at midnight when all the elders were sleeping and eating omlette from a roadside cart, climbing little hillocks and eating wild berries, getting chased by a mad bull and sliding down the mountain to escape... feels like Enid Blyton adventures now.

I should tell you about this incident which happened when we were all having dinner ; all of a sudden we heard a loud hiss and suddenly a huge rat fell from the roof right in front of us and a little later we saw a snake going behind it. We were so very terrified that we did not sleep a wink all night. There was also a time when we saw a two headed snake and a tree snake sliding down majestically from the tree where my grand father was plucking flowers .

There were also midnight excursions when we would take a torch light and go near the river bank and have fun. Lots of ice creams and fruit salads would really make our day.We also would visit temples and watch people dress up as tigers and lions and other animals during the festival time. Not to forget the mythological stories that my grand father would narrate at night to all his wide eyed grand children listening in rapt attention.

Now these were really unforgettable moments and I feel sad sometimes that my children can never experience all these joys. Villages no longer have that flavor and have become mini cities and hardly have the same serenity that they once had.

Now my kids' holidays would be to visit grand parents in Bangalore and still have fun listening to stories from grand father and eating yummy dish prepared with lot of love again by their grand mother. The similarity stops at that. Because instead of climbing hillocks they go up the escalators to malls. Sunsets and scenery are what they watch on T.V. In place of olden time games they now fancy PlayStation and Gameboy.

Well that is life now, as the proverb goes "That was happiness at that time, this is happiness now"