Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mother or stranger?

One of my friends has employed a full time house help whom she got from her village. My friend told me that this lady had been deserted by her husband and that she has a five year old child. She left her child with her parents who are now looking after the little one. To sustain herself and her child she has decided to work for my friend. Once in five or six months she goes to visit her child, stays there for a week or so and comes back again.

My friend has two children aged about four and seven. The house help looks after these children so well that they have become quite attached to her. She feeds them, bathes them, plays with them. In short, she does everything for them with lots of love and joy.

What a paradox life can be when one is under dire straits. On one hand as a mother she is forced to entrust the care of her child to her parents while looking after my friend's children with so much of love. She must be missing out on sharing that special bond of love which can exist only between a mother and child. How she would be worried every moment wondering how her child is faring back in the village, anxious if her child has been fed properly and on time, worried if her child is being taken good care when he falls sick, or wondering if he is crying out for his mother.

When I put my thoughts across to my friend she told me that the lady had told her after coming back from one of her sojourns to the village her child was not at all showing any signs of missing his mother. In fact the little boy was so very attached to his grandparents that for the child his mother had become a total stranger who would come once in a while bringing with her lots of gifts for him.

Well is that also not the harsh truth of life? A child gets attached to an adult person who takes care of  its needs. So for all you know one can give birth to a child and be the biological mother, but it is the person who nurtures the baby who will finally take the place of the mother.This being the case my mind crisscrossed into the question will the same not hold true for children who are adopted? When people hesitate to adopt saying blood relation is more important, I would think motherhood is all about nurturing the child with great love and affection and for this to happen, one doesn't necessarily have to be a biological mother.      

Friday, June 14, 2013

Closing Down Stop Last date 15th July Stop

"Sir Telegram Sir"....... would always get the householder to just leave whatever he or she was doing and rushing to the door with great trepidation, wondering what news it would be bearing. God help if the telegram was delivered at night, the whole household would land up at the front door fearing the worst of the news.

Even though over the last two decades I have hardly given a thought nor remembered that telegram existed it was with a sad feeling I read in the newspapers that BSNL was planning to close the telegram services from July 15th of 2013 as it was running on a loss of massive scale. Where at one time Delhi alone was sending one lakh telegrams now the whole country is estimated to be sending one lakh telegrams.

This got me interested to know more about the history of telegraph in India. It was started in the year 1833 by a young Irishman of 24 years William Brooke O' Shaughnessy , who was sent as an Assistant Surgeon by the East India Company. He was asked to string a telegraph line between Kolkatta to Diamond Harbour a distance of 43.5 Kms. The first telegraph message was transmitted in the year 1850 on November 5th. It was opened to the general public from 1855 February.

As a kid I used to associate telegram with sad news of either someone being seriously ill or that someone had passed away. So the moment the person would knock on the door and shout  "Telegram Sir" all of us would look at each other and wait for dad to open it and tell us the content. But not all of it was sad it would also be the harbinger of good news such as birth of a baby in the family, or someone getting engaged or date of marriage being fixed and so on.

We all know how important it was to wish the newly wedded couple if one was not able to attend the wedding. So we had lots of telegrams being delivered on the morning of the wedding. I remember during the time I got married, It was with great joy that I received for the first time in my name a host of telegrams from my family and friends who could not make it on the D day wishing me. I have retained all of them and now it would really be souvenirs retained for posterity and one which would give me great joy whenever I want to reminiscence of my special day.

Not only then but we also got congratulatory telegrams on the arrival of our first child from some of our old time relatives who still valued sending telegraphic message than call on the telephone. During that time as long distance calling was expensive we used to send telegrams wishing our near and dear ones through telegrams. I remember once we suddenly decided to send a happy republic day message to our 5 year old nephew on Jan 25th evening to be delivered the next day!!!

But now all that seems so very ancient. My kids do not even know about telegrams except for what they have read as part of their textbook lesson. So we now bid adieu to this once very important tool of communication also known as poor man's quick communication services after 160 years. As The Hindu Newspaper titled its article on this aptly -  "Dot, dash, Full stop" - Telegraph service ends on July 15th.