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Author Archives: richameeya

Tongue Twister or Thought Twister….. (The best way out of a difficulty is through it)


(This post has been contributed by Riddhi shah, a friend and colleague of many years. She also writes in Gujrati.)

I was playing with my 4 years old son yesterday. Playing various games with him is one of my favorite activities of daily routine, specially the language games. My son speaks and understands three languages, Gujarati, Hindi and English and he loves exploration of new languages. We were playing ‘tongue twister’, which is known for improving pronunciation.

Betty bought butter but butter was bitter so,

Betty bought better butter to make bitter butter better butter!

We enjoyed speaking the tongue twister with various methods and laughed a lot. It was great fun. After playing this game for some time, my son asked me about the meaning of the sentence. I tried to explain the meaning to him that one girl named Betty bought butter but because the butter was bitter, she bought another butter to add in the bitter one so that the butter will become better or we can say sweeter. After listening to the answer, my son was satisfied and got engaged in another activity. However, after some time he came back and asked, ‘but mama, if the butter was bitter, Betty could have either thrown it or add sugar in it, why did she add another fresh/better butter in it. What if the fresh butter will become bitter too? The entire butter will be wasted then?’ I did not have any immediate answer to his question. I replied to him gently, ‘you are right in a way, my son but there must be some reason behind Betty’s decision. Is it alright if I give you answer after a while?’ His agreement gave me some relaxation.

First of all, I was so amazed on my son’s question. He not only thought about the question but also tried to find solution as per his understanding. Child Psychologists believe that children till the age of five, cannot differentiate much between real world and imaginary world as adults do. Perhaps this is the reason, children can accept complex situation better than we adults. If the entire discussion can be seen with broader perspective, this tongue twister teaches us a lot.

Today, most of the people specially youth are very busy. Thousands and lakhs of people like me are running for something. Some towards their aspirations, some for their children, some for their needs and few might be running just because others are running, but everybody is running. I am also one of the participants of this marathon. We have everything except time. We do not have time to learn from our Past or to learn from the incidences happening around us. Hence, sometimes we do not pause to examine the bitter incidences around us or even in our lives rather we waste a lot of our time in preparing sweeter butter from bitter butter. The reason behind this is we limit our perspective in ‘busy life’ that we don’t think to throw the bitter one and start with the new one. A very well known physiologist, Mr. M. Scott Peck has written in his book, ‘The Road Less Traveled’ that the problems are never that huge as we make them. One requires a sense to look at them and understand them. Many a times we do not understand the problem and also we avoid the pain we might need to face while addressing the issue because confronting and solving problems is a painful process. He also said,

“Our view to reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”

How true it is, isn’t it? But are we born with these maps? Not really, we have to prepare these maps and it needs to be constantly changed with time and need. But unfortunately, the young generation today has stopped preparing their own maps and that is why they are lost in their own circle. We have forgotten that there are multiple ways of making bitter butter better. And sometimes mindlessly adding more butter may result in all the butter being wasted.

I think I am also lost while writing, experiencing a bombardment of thoughts from all sides. But fortunately till I have completed this blog, my son has forgotten his question. Again I am relaxed as I really do not have an answer to his question.

Was this tongue twister or thought twister? Very COMPLEX ! Anyways you also try to play with this tongue twister tonight ….

Betty bought butter but butter was bitter so,

Betty bought better butter to make bitter butter better butter!

Link to her Gujrati article


I killed my brother!

I certainly as a doomed child

On my birth, my mother cried

I certainly was a doomed child

On my birth, my brother died

Ah! I certainly was a doomed child.


My mother was not allowed to feed

Sisters were not allowed to pay any heed

My father obviously did not care

Relatives gave venom of their share

Strategies to kill me were also tried

Yes, I certainly was a doomed child.


They say I competed with my brother

Came to this world and sent him to the other

But my bond with him is deeper than their

Even though he is no more here

They asked for him but could not get

I got him but lost to death


We touched each other

And played together

We talked with those unsaid words

He said he feared the outside world

I said I wanted to see that world

The world of light, the colourful world


But am happy you are not here my bhai

This indeed is a cold-scary place

The lights here are too bright for the eyes

Colours are all in shades of red


How is the writing challenge going for me?

I have nothing to write and thats why I am writing on such an inane topic. My challenge is to write 500 words….only 500 words everyday, but I have nothing…no topic…How can that be. I am generally a talkative person. And thats why I have decided to write on this. Truth be told, even this is not my original idea, people had to suggest me that why don’t you just write bout your mental state. Yes, why not!
So, what am I going through, I have this fear about what will I write, right from the morning when I get up. I think about it whole day, its like a nagging mom after you whole day. Not all days are like this though, I wanted to write a story, which I have finished in two days (hope you guys read it) and I write my notes., which thanks to the challenge are written more promptly.
So many a days it is not a problem, but some times it is. Why is that so? We never have to tell ourselves to at least speak 500 words to get into the habit of it. What is so unique about writing. Here is my analysis:
The sense or dearth of an audience: We never sit alone in a room and talk to ourselves, hoping that later on, somebody would hear it.We speak get response and move on.
The pressure to be original: While talking most of the conversation is about here and now and it is not getting recorded, nobody would later on say “Hey Richa, why do you everyday talk about the tortoise in your house” Well I talk about the tortoise to people who are interested in it and want to know what it ate today and we can talk about it everyday. Writing is always impersonal in that sense and you cannot be repetitive. also you cannot write what Jug Suraiya wrote about. Well you can talk about that without any hassles.
The need to be correct: See written word can be read (Ha ha ha), even if it is stored safely in  my laptop, it can be read. (But in this case, I am putting it on the net, so available to everybody who may be interested can read) So, I have to write and then read it and correct it and read it again. I may still be way off from being correct, but I make an effort and that makes the process way more formal then ……well!…..talking.
The need to organise ideas: Since we are talking in comparison to talking or oral communication, you may say, “well thats not unique you have to organise your thoughts and ideas even for talking”. well, thats true but still while talking it is possible to correct yourslef, go back, reiterate the whole point and then link it to your argument. that cannot be done with writing. If you do that, you may end up with a piece of writing will probably no make sense to you yourself, if you go back to it a few days later.
I am sure this is a very preliminary-superficial analysis but it in a lay person’s words places it why writing is not easy.
Happy writing to you and me…

Love story

The stirrings of first love are a fantastic experience. Those who have experienced, and I believe most of you have, know what I mean. The intense desire to see the person again and again, to talk to others about him or her, to write his name secretly, to meet her secretly, may be….may be being able to hold hands. The innocence of first love is often lost with it. So, today I will tell you about the love story of Maya and Lalit.
Maya and Lalit study in class 8th of ABCD government school.It is like any school near any basti. All the children in the school are from the same basti. So, they are all known to each other, have grown up together.
This is a huge basti. It has many castes living together: Khatik, banjara, kalbeliya, rangaswami, rajputs, brahmins and many many more. Mostly the areas in the basti are separated as to which caste will leave where. So, basically there are sections of kalbeliyas and banjaras and rangaswamis and khatiks. The number of “higher caste” households are limited in number and more scattered.
Children play together and fight together. Adults gossip together and fight together. Fighting is as much a part of life as anything else. Fights between children is often physical but rarely lasting. But the fights between young adults if leads to maarpeet then it is hardly forgotten. The rounds of revenge-taking goes on for quiet a long time.
In this scenario Maya Banjara fell in love with Lalit Kalbeliya. They study in the same class and their houses are not very off. He used to some times pass chits of paper with jokes written on them, she and her friends would smile..sometimes laugh too. This had led to many a scoldings for Maya, but then scolding from teachers is a part of being in school, who doesn’t get it.
Some days when Lalit had some money he would buy small chocolates for her, they often ate them together while walking home and sometimes she hid them and ate at night.
Oh and last monday he had written an entire film song on a piece of paper, yes the same Lalit who rarely completes his homework had learnt and written an entire song! And the love letter that he had written to her. It was full of all those nice lines written behind the autos in cities. Maya and her friends had enjoyed reading it for many days.
Yesterday when the school bell rang, Lalit did not leave his seat. Maya and her friends saw this. As they came out of the school, they again noticed from the window that he was still in the classroom.
“Come on Maya, you should go back and talk to him”, said Pooja.
“you think I should? but what if somebody sees and complains to my mother”, Maya, who was dying to go inside said.
“Don’t worry we are standing here, you go in talk to him and run back”, Mahima her cousin sister said.
Maya went back to meet Lalit.
“What happened, why are you still here? why aren’t you going home?”
“I wanted to meet you…alone”
“Why?” Maya was smiling, she also has an idea why a boyfriend and girlfriend need to meet alone.
Lalit came forward and held her hands. What an electric current went through both their bodies. They were both a little scared, excited and convinced that this is the right thing to do.
Suddenly the door outside the room was locked by somebody. It seems Govind, Lalu and Mahendra were laughing loudly. Lalit started abusing, there were return abuses from outside.
“Pooja-Mahima, come inside fast” Maya shouted. Though she was a little scared but she knew that when she gets out she would give a tight slap to all three of them, useless buggers.
Even before her friends could come, they had opened the door. Lalit started fighting them. As all four boys were intertwined in the brawl, Maya thought it wise just to slip out and reach home on time. It was a close escape. She reached home on time and everything was ordinary at home when her mother came home half hour later.
Next day Maya, Mahima and Pooja walked to school together. Maya saw Govind standing on the school gate and giggling.
“Just shut your mouth and go inside, otherwise I will give you such a tight slap that you wouldn’t be able to get up for two days”, Maya shouted as she entered the school.
Govind laughed it out loudly.
Just before the lunch break Sadhna madam called Maya to the staff room.
What a scene! Her mother, Sadhna madam, Aruna Madam, Shaheen madam were all there. Something is definitely not right.
“What happened yesterday, Mahima?” Sadhna Madam asked.
“Nothing ma’am”
“After school?”
“Nothing Ma’am, really”
“What were you doing in the room with Lalit?”
This time Maya kept quiet
“Madam, I was asking her something about the work being done in the last month, as I was absent and Govind and Lalu just came and closed the door from outside, and when I shouted, they opened in a minute madam. Nothing happened” Govind pitched in.
“Why couldn’t you ask her in the school time, huh?” Shaheen madam “And have you become so old to be interested in these things?”
“Even a minute is enough ma’am to ruin the name” the mother said and then she started crying.
“Arre nahi, nothing has happened, why are you so worried, they are young children” Aruna madam tried to hush matters.
“Earlier also there have been complaints about her” the mother said in between the sobs.”She goes out in the evenings, it must be for this boy only”
Some, children had by now started to come to observe the scene.
“Go from here” shouted Sadhna madam.
“Madam, I will take her from the school only, there is no point in education at such a cost”
“Madam, we were only talking” Lalit made a small attempt.
“What was the talk about” Aruna madam asked.
“Yes, tell us, what was so important to talk about” Shaheen madam said.
“Friendship, is it?” Sadhna madam now intervened, “I have many a times scolded both of them”
“you are too old,huh, Maya?” Aruna Madam
“We are not tired of scolding them”
“He is an intelligent boy, he is good n studies also”
Govind – “Madam, I have not done anything”
“But what was the need to talk when the school got over?”
“And that too inside the class?”
“Answer this Maya?”
“Say something now, open your mouth” saying this the mother stood up and slapped her.
“Say something, why aren’t you speaking” and a volley of of slaps. She pushed her on the floor and kept hitting. The teachers were all silent for some time.
“I will kill you, if you do these things”
“Arre, they are children, why are you getting so emotional” Sadhna Madam, finally thought of intervening.
“They are young children Behen ji, they do not have any sense as of now” Shaheen madam.
“If, they will go on this line now madam, they will never be able to improve”
“They will improve don’t worry”
Aruna Madam-“Maya now we don’t have to do any such thing again”
“Say something to madam now, where is your tongue?” saying this the mother gave such a heavy blow that she fell again and the sleeve of her kurta came off.
Mother- “If I tell your father, he will definitely kill you”
Sadhna madam- “Easy behen ji, easy”
“Beta, aren’t you too young, just look at your mother”
“Your mother is so troubled, think of how much she does for you”
“Where all she goes and does work”
“And Govind, for your mother, you are the eldest, your father is not there, it is all your responsibility. Aren’t you sensible?”
“Madam, whatever was the matter, I have told you” said Lalit
“Then what were you doing inside?”
“We did nothing madam”
“Then why did they close the door?” the mother asked. She was troubled, crying and felt that probably her and her daughters name has already been maligned for ever. She wished to understand the situation, to come to terms with why her daughter was behaving like this, was she of bad character?
“What do I do, if somebody closest door, as soon as it was opened, I came out”
Aruna Madam- “Is that why Govind has not come today?”
Govind- “Madam, I gave him a mukka in his stomach and told him that I would call my mother to school today, thats why he may not have come today?”
“Then why did you not tell me anything since the morning?” Sadhna asked. She was troubled by the whole thing but above all, she was unable to understand how Lalit, such a good boy otherwise and also intelligent in studies can be involved in something like this.
“What do I do now madam?” mother was crying profusely, and Maya was wondering whether something so bad had really happened.
“Behen ji, the other boy tricked them and closed the door, its not that the got locked in the room by choice” Shaheen madam said.
“Madam, I had seen shayari written in her copy the other day, they must have written those shayari in the school itself. I am not educated, but I asked her sister to read them to me.”
“What Maya, are we old enough to be engaging in Shayari?” Aruna Madam said, she teaches class 1 and 2. She had taught Maya and Lalit too and was wondering when did they grow so old?
“Madam, I am forty years old, I have never engaged in any of these things.
“you come home, I will burn you, so that you learn a lesson, the moment you will go to the toilet, then I will come and burn you, you wait and watch. I don’t want such children”
“Behen ji, don’t say all this”
“ya, we also take care a lot at school, whenever anybody goes to toilet, we keep an eye, who is taking how long.”
“In today’s world you have to be careful all the time”
“Behen ji, you keep her home only, let her do the utensils and her senses will come back.”
“yes, I think it is right, she should sit at home and leave studies.”
Maya had now started sobbing and was wondering, why was it only her fault. Why was everyone thinking of making her sit at home, why not Govind and also why not Lalit?
So, what do you think, who has decided that the punishment needs to be meted out to Maya, the mother, teachers, community or some one else? Share your thoughts on what may happen next too.

एक व्यक्ति का शोध-कारखाना

यह कहानी एक ‘फलां’ शहर की है। ‘फलां’ शहर को न तो आप बड़ा शहर मानेंगे न ही छोटा। एक ठीक – ठाक सा अधपका आधुनिक शहर है, जिसके शिक्षा प्रणाली की यहाँ के बड़े बुज़ुर्ग एक स्वर में जम के प्रशंसा करते है।  खैर, कहानी है मेरे पूर्व सहपाठी की, जो मेरा एक मित्र भी रहा है, जिससे  मैं एक बहुत ही लम्बे अंतराल के बाद मिली थी।  वो भी यूँ  ही सड़क पर से गुज़रते हुए। एक दूसरे की खैर-ओ-खबर लेने के बाद मैंने उससे पूछा, “तो रमन, यहाँ कैसे आना हुआ?”

“घर पर पढ़ना थोड़ा मुश्किल हो जाता है, तो मैं सुबह यहाँ आता हूँ और शाम तक बैठता हूँ। ”

“बहुत बढ़िया।  मेरे साथ भी कुछ ऐसा ही है, मुझे घर पर बैठ कर पढ़ना नामुमकिन सा लगता है, तो मैं अपने एक दोस्त के  घर जाती हूँ जो सारा दिन खाली पड़ा रहता है और उसे अपना अड्डा बना लेती हूँ।” मैंने चुटकी लेते हुए यह कहा। “वैसे तुम भी तो पि. एच. डी. कर रहे हो न ?”

“क्या तुमने अख़बार नहीं पड़ा?”

“नहीं, क्या हुआ?” मैंने यह सोच के पूछा की शायद उसकी पि. एच. डी. पूरी हो गयी होगी, और फिर सोचा क्या पि. एच. डी. पुरे करने वाले लोगों के नाम अख़बारों में छपते है।

उसने कहा, “मैंने लिखित परीक्षा में शीर्ष स्थान प्राप्त किया है। मैंने बताया था तुम्हें, याद है।”

“हाँ ”

“खैर, बाद मैं मुझे पता चला की साक्षात्कार में लिखित परीक्षा में मिले अंको की कोई एहमियत नहीं है, अंतिम चयन साक्षात्कार के आधार पर ही होता है।  मुझे 20 में से 3 अंक मिले … मैंने सुचना के अधिकार के अधिनियम के अंतर्गत अपनी याचिका दायर की है, पर असल में मुझे कुछ होने की उम्मीद नहीं है, ख़बरों में भी इसका उस दौरान ज़िक्र था, की बहुत सारे राजनेताओं के भाई-बंधुओं को पि. एच. डी. में दाखिला मिल गया और जो मेरे जैसे योग्य लोग थे …. पर मैं पहली श्रेणी की नौकरी ले लिए तैयारी कर रहा हूँ … इस बार मेरा आखिरी
मौका है … देखते है की क्या होता है …. जो कुछ हुआ उसके बाद मेरा भी पि. एच. डी. करने का मन नहीं रह गया है। क्या फायदा ऋचा।  सिर्फ समय की बर्बादी है।

“हाँ, इसका फायदा तभी है जब आपको नौकरी इसके आधार पर मिले। ”
“हाँ, और बि. एड. कॉलेज में नौकरी मिलने का कोई फायदा नहीं है, वो आपको अच्छी तनख्वाह नहीं देते ….” कुछ पल चुप होने के बाद, “14 हज़ार, पर असल में ऐसा है नहीं की आपको इतने भी मिल जाए …. वो आपको 14 हज़ार पर दस्तखत करने के लिए कहेंगे, और असलियत में आपको उससे भी कम देंगे। मैं स्कूल में नौकरी करना ज़्यादा पसंद करूँगा, पर मैं एक सरकारी नौकरी पाना चाहता हूँ। ”

“अच्छा, तो असल में तुम स्कूली-शिक्षण में वापिस जाना चाहते हो। “

“दरअसल अब मैं एक ‘पेशेवर शोधकर्ता’ हूँ। तो, मैं इसको ही जारी रखना चाहूंगा।”

मैं कयास लगा रही थी की आखिर वो कहना क्या चाहता है।  शायद वो किसी अनुसन्धान संस्थान के साथ काम करना चाहता है, पर इससे पहले मैं कुछ कहती वो ही बोल पड़ा, “तुम्हें पता है पिछले एक साल में मैंने 15 एम. एड. और 5 पि. एच. डी. की है। ”

“क्या !!”

“हाँ, मैं उनके लिए सब कुछ करता हूँ। ”

“तो, तुम कितना पैसा लेते हो?”

“बीस हज़ार”

“और इस काम को करने के लिए कितना समय चाहिए होता है?”

“देखो, शोध-प्रारूप तो उन्हें खुद ही लिख कर देना होता है, फिर अध्याय 2 मैं नेट पर बैठता हूँ और लिख देता हूँ, मैं ही प्रपत्र/ उपकरण बनाता हूँ। फिर वो मुझे डेटा देते है, मैं विश्लेषण करता हूँ और रिपोर्ट तैयार करता हूँ। इसमें तक़रीबन १० दिन लग जातें है।

“हाँ, और इधर देखो … दो  साल हो गए है और मैं अभी तक डेटा इकट्ठा  करने में लगी हुई हूँ।

“पर तुम्हें इतना समय क्यों लग रहा है?”

मुझे नहीं पता था की मैं क्या कहूँ, मैं मुस्कुरा दी।

” रमन, यह एक बहुत बढ़िया व्यवसाय मॉडल है, पर यह बताओ की अगर साहित्य चोरी (plagiarism) की बात आयी, तो कौन पकड़ा जाएगा ?”
“ऐसा क्यों होगा? मैं काफी अच्छे से ध्यान रखता हूँ  …. “
“पर मान लो ऐसा होता है तो ”

“मैं ज़िम्मेदार नहीं होंगा।  मेरा नाम कहीं पर नहीं है। यह मेरी गलती नहीं है, लोग मेरे पास आते हैं, पर तूम मुझे बताओ वो करें भी तो क्या करें, वो एक साल में शोध सिखने में असक्षम है। और अब क्या  कहें, मैं उनका नाम ले सकता हूँ पर वो खुद फैकल्टी मेंबर्स है जिन्होंने मुझे उनका शोध करने के लिए कहा, वो काफी लम्बे समय से अपने शोध के साथ जूझ रहे थे एंड फिर उन्होंने मुझे करने के लिए कहा। ”

अब तक मैं कम से कम दो-तीन बार ज़ोर से हंस चुकी थी और मैं ये सोच रही थी की सड़क पर से गुजरने वाले लोग क्या सोच रहे होंगे। खुद को थोड़ा शांत करते हुए मैंने कहा, “रमन, फिर तो तुम्हें कोई नौकरी नहीं चाहिए, तुम्हारा खुद का ट्यूशन सेंटर है और इस फलते-फूलते व्यवसाय के चलते, कोई भी प्राइवेट जॉब तुम्हें इतना बढ़िया पैसा नहीं दे पाएगी। ”

“तुम सही कहती हो। मैंने पैसा बनाया है। इसी वजह से मैं बाक़ी सब छोड़ कर पढ़ाई कर पा रहा हूँ। पर कभी कभी मुझे ऐसा लगता है की मैं गलत कर रहा हूँ। फिर मैं यह भी सोचता हूँ की जो फैकल्टी मेंबर्स मुझसे अपनी पि. एच. डी. करवा रहे है, वो एम. एड. के विद्यार्थियों को क्या पढातें होंगे। ”

उसे खुश करने के लिए मैंने कहा “पर यह अच्छा है की तुमने मुझे एक नए व्यवसाय मॉडल के बारे में बताया। “
“रहने दो यार। यह कुछ नया नहीं है, यह काफी पुराना व्यवसाय मॉडल है। मैं इसमें नया-नया हुँ।  एक और “फलां ” शहर तो इसका मुख्यालय है, वहां आप उन्हें पचास हज़ार दीजिये और वो आपके लिए सारा काम कर देंगे, आप उनसे दो साल बाद मिलिए और सारा काम ले जाइये। ”

“पर स्कॉलर को अपना विवा तो ठीक-ठाक देना होता होगा ?”
“हाँ, पर इसके लिए उन्हें एक तैयार पावर पॉइंट प्रेजेंटेशन भी तो मिलती है। “
“तो, तुम्हें ग्राहक कैसे मिलते है ?”
“ऐसे ही, विद्यार्थी आपस में बात करते है और मेरे मोबाइल पर कॉल आ जाती है। “
“शुक्र है तुमने यह नहीं कहा की फैकल्टी उन्हें सलाह देती है। “
नहीं, नहीं।  पर ऐसा भी नहीं है की फैकल्टी को इस बारे में नहीं पता होता।  कई बार मैं सीधा फैकल्टी मेंबर से ही परामर्श ले लेता हूँ, हम बस बिचोलिये को हटा देते है। ”

मुझे इस पर तो हंसी आनी ही थी।

“पर विडम्बना यह है की मैं अपनी पि. एच. डी.  नहीं कर पाया। ” उसने कहा।
रमन (नाम बदला हुआ ) द्वारा इंकित करी गई इस व्यापकता ने मुझे काफी ज़ोर का झटका दिया। आप इसके बारे में क्या कहेंगे, “एक व्यक्ति का शोध-कारखाना”

When we make them learn helplessness

In a school, after a long conversation where I mainly asked questions, the teachers finally asked me something.

“Madam, can I also ask something?” said Lakshmi a teacher in a private school.

“Yes please do so…we are talking ….” I said to encourage her to talk.

“There are some children about whom I am never sure how to deal even though I have been working as a teacher for more than 8 years.”


“There is this one girl and one boy in my class who never speak, even when I talk to them specifically taking their name. They just lower their head never make eye contact. They are both unable to write or read anything. I just feel so frustrated and sad that I don’t know how to help them.”

This reminded me about Khushi in my class who was also very much like this. She always sits on the first bench, yet it took me two-three days to notice her. She is so silent that she sometimes becomes invisible in the class. She also takes many leaves. She mostly sits with her head down not talking with anybody. To keep herself engaged she often tries to complete her notebook work. In my class I like to give each child chance so I often go from child to child and ask everybody to add something to the topic being discussed, whenever we reach Khushi the discussion comes to a stand still. Other children start getting irritated and start telling, “Mam, she wouldn’t speak, she never speaks, she doesn’t know anything.” It is a difficult time for a teacher, you want to give this child time to speak, but too much time may mean torture for her and boredom for others. You want to stop all the other children from saying these hurtful things yet not make this child too dependent on yourself.

With Lakshmi madam, I discussed a little bit about these two children’s home background and kept comparing notes about Khushi and I came to the conclusion that all these three children seem to be victims of learned helplessness.

What is learned helplessness?

Learned helplessness is a state of mind where the individual starts feeling that nothing that she will do will have an impact on the negative situation that she is in. This happens after a long time spent in a situation where the individual is placed in negative situations…..and efforts made by her seem to be futile.

Lets take an example of a woman in an abusive marriage, in the beginning every time she experiences domestic violence she talks to her family members but all she gets from them is a baseless assurance of how things will improve gradually and how as a woman she should adjust with the situation that she is in. She then tries to revert to the strategy of fighting back, which leads to even more thrashing. She then has a baby and starts feeling that she is tied to this setting and cannot go anywhere….that’s when it is possible that she may stop retaliating totally and may bear everything silently.

Another example of learned helplessness which leads to child abuse is when the parents learn that nothing they do will make the child stop crying and they just let the child be.

In school setting we often see those children who fall in a complex situation of constant negative feedback from teachers and parents go into a learned identity of being helpless in changing their situation. Often siblings imitate what the parents say and do and peers imitate what the teachers say and do thus completing the circle of negative feedback for the child. Such children gradually stop making an effort to learn. They may not always the silent ones but may also be the extremely boisterous never listening type as in both situations they are not ready to engage with you or make an effort to learn as they have learned that this will not lead to anything.

In the next post we will discuss what can be some of the intervention strategies in such cases. If you know of a similar situation do share with us.

Learning is fast

This is my second post in the series mommy learns – an experience sharing in my journey of parenthood. If just by reading the title of my post have you decided that my hormones (even after 1.5 years of child birth) are not back to normal and I am contradicting what I said just last week, then hold on….come on! Don’t be too quick to judge.

It has been only one and a half year since I have been blessed with a daughter. The best one and a half year of my life. One thing that I have learnt about myself in this period is that I am capable of loving somebody so much. I did not know this. My husband doesn’t accept this about himself and continues to say that I love you both equally, but come on! Who is he fooling! She is the most important and most loved person in our family. But this post is not about this.

I want to share about how much she has learnt in this time period and how amazingly fast this journey has been.

Let me start by pointing out some of the things that she can do at this point of time: (I know, I know it is an impossible list to make! But some examples can be jotted)

  1. She can walk, run but I don’t think she can jump.
  2. She can say complicated words, joins sounds and says word like and sentence like utterances.
  3. She understands most of the instructions given to her and also ignores when she wants to ignore.
  4. She can go up and down the stairs on her own and yet today morning itself she just lost her balance while taking a step on the plain floor.
  5. She has her likes and dislikes and “knows” what she wants to do or not do. Its not so easy to distract her now.
  6. She likes playing with friends and is unhappy and expresses that when they leave or I try and bring her inside.

And yes……the list can go on….and on….

But these are examples of her physical, cognitive, linguistic and social developments. She is becoming a person in her own right! With opinions, choices, tastes, an understanding and awareness of “I”.

Lets take the first example, physical development of a very complex skill of walking. Walking is often defined as a continuous act of preventing oneself from falling. As soon as you take one foot off the ground, you are in an unbalanced unstable position and then you bend forward and quickly place the foot to be stable again. But you don’t step there, you repeat the process again. Though we all want to be in a stable state and yet to move forward (both physically and metaphorically) have to leave the state of stability or you can say by will put yourself in a state of uncertainty and then reach stability again. So, when she started walking, now obviously I am speculating, but I would like you to speculate with me. When she started walking, her desire to reach a place or an object currently away from her was so strong that she decided to take the risk of falling and took her foot up from the ground. In those days, she would not walk…but run….why? I think because she was not confident of her ability to get the foothold again and was probably consciously doing the act of risk the fall- and get the foothold.

So, when I say learning is fast…very very fast….I see this small baby wrapped in a sheet unable to suck, not sure how to breathe becoming into a willful naughty risk taking communicative toddler in just a year and a half.