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A Letter to my Firstborn

Hi Baby,

Just when I was tucking your baby sister in, I could not help but think to myself that I was so lucky that you are my firstborn. You are a brat with the most mischievous air about you, undoubtedly, but you also have the purest heart. You are so compassionate and so kind, so joyful and always ready to spread smiles. How you came to be such an enigma, I will never know. But one thing I know for sure is that I hit the jackpot with you.

Tonight, after I put your baby sister to sleep, I gave you my undivided attention. It was just ten minutes in a day that I am able to give you with no interruptions but you accept it with a full heart and oh so much love. How do you that! How do you forget that earlier that day, I threatened to throw all your toys out and I had denied you a snack you so loved? How do you overlook the fact that sometimes when we are alone, the three of us, I attend to the baby first and ask you to wait for another five minutes while you complain of hunger? How is it that even after I have been a crabby mom some day and have not indulged you in any activity you like, you have the most kisses to give me in the night before saying good night? Your heart and mind amazes me. I am in awe of you, your mindfulness, your sincerity and your honesty.

Every evening when you are hungry, I make sure to whip up your favorite supper and I know you notice that because that is when you go all out to entertain your baby sister so that your mumma is exclusively doing something for you for those 15 minutes. I am glad that every single time I tell you that the baby is up from her nap, you leave everything you are doing to come coddle her. I cannot wait for the baby to grow up so you two can be naughty and mischievous together. I will be honest, I do not need you to be the big sister. I don’t want you to be the voice of reason or someone who schools her siblings. I want you two to be tight, thick buddies. No matter how much I tell you now that you have to help me look after your little sister, she is your companion for the future, not your responsibility. But yes, I do need your help getting through the first years and I know you and I make a pretty good team.

I know you have been on your own a lot lately and I hate myself for it but your little sibling needs more nurturing and looking after than you ever did. All those conversations we had before the baby was born, about being independent and doing things your way seem to be coming true now. Although I never wanted them to be true. I never wanted you to stop wanting me or stop depending on me for the smallest of chores. But the inevitable is happening, you are finding yourself, you are discovering the joy of doing things on your own and it is exciting to you. I love that after you have accomplished a task, the first person you want to boast about it to is me. In a way, it shows me that you will never stop wanting me. And that is solace enough. For now.

Keep going to your papa for those lengthy never-ending story sessions. No matter how adorable the new baby is, he always prioritizes you over everything else. I will be lying if I said that I am not jealous of the fun you two have but it also fills my heart with joy. You are a daddy’s girl through and through. And it so does not help my case that you look like a mini version of him. Good for me though, because both you kids look so much like him, I get to see the face I love all around me in a home filled with love, laughter and madness.

I have so much more to say to you but I’m lost for words. You will always be my special one, my happy squealy baby. Do not let go of that beautiful heart you have and that amazing attitude you have that you get so strikingly from your dad. Your father and me, we lucked out with you. You are our world!

Random Musings

It’s been way too long that I wrote for myself. Yes I do write daily, my livelihood depends on it but I don’t remember last time I wrote to feed my soul and narrate my story. I used to write as soon as inspiration hit. But nowadays, inspiration hits me when I am in the middle of a diaper change or going through a mundane house chore. I, very casually, tell everyone who listens that I am very comfortable in the place I am now. That I have all the help I need. And that I am doing a decent enough job of cruising through and managing everything.

Truth be told, I am doing a mediocre job at best.

Yes, I have help. And yes, it may seem like I do have it all together beautifully.

But today, It’s been a day.

I am sitting on the dining table, all by myself, finally having gotten the two kids to sleep. I started putting them to sleep at 8 pm but they kept waking up in turns and here I am, contemplating life as I know it at 10.30 pm in the night. Right opposite me is my silverware ‘closet’ and my full, tired reflection stares right back at me. I am blown that I have aged over a decade in the last year. People, too, find it amusing to point out that all my hair is now grey and that I have age lines on my face. I also have the gait of an over-exhausted mom, I’ve been told. I seriously don’t know what that means but I agree with their premise that exhaustion has got to me. And none of it is physical exhaustion. Or maybe, it is a little. I am a failure in my head with nothing to show for the 33 years I’ve lived.
Sure, I got married.
Yes, I have two amazing children.

But what is my legacy?

When people talk about me, what do they say? What is it that they refer to me as? What phrases would they attribute to me?

Cute. Chubby. Fat.

I got the best one told to me once. Big. My legacy is that I am big. Everything talked about me is related to my physical looks. Kid you not, well-meaning relatives have told me that they usually lose track of what I do professionally because how I look takes precedence over everything else.

And they have proceeded to make me feel like shit when I called them shallow. You cannot afford to have an attitude like this, they said. Be nice, be kind, that will make you likeable, they said. Because, subtext. Being physically obese was not a very welcoming trait. I still believe this though. This is etched in my head so deep, so hard that it refuses to shake off.

To me, being nice became my mantra. I was the ultimate people-pleaser. You wanted something done, I’m there for you. Need a helping hand? Bring it on. Looking for a scapegoat to take blame for your misdoings because ultimately they only seek your approval and company. That’s me! I was the nicest fucking person there ever could be. If, by any means, I miscommunicated something, I would go to crazy lengths to make sure I set it right. It was that obsessive. And this went on well into the first quarter of my life. So desperate for attention, so needy for any acceptance, I would morph into my surroundings like a chameleon. I hung out with teachers twice my age, I also hung out with students half a decade younger than me. All at the same time. I became friends with people’s toxic exes because I wanted to be the one who was liked by all.

Looking back, I feel sad. I feel sad for that little girl who was shamed for being big and alone. And shamed into changing her personality so drastically that she eventually forgot who she was.

Here I am now. A mother of two kids. A wife. A daughter. A daughter in law. An employee. A friend.

But I still don’t know who I am.

I still don’t know what I want my legacy to be.

Here I am now, breaking down toxicity around me and making space for people I love. It’s a hard job, to pick the real ones out of the crowd. To make space in my heart and head to accomodate things I am passionate about and not just fill it with things that are fashionably likeable at the moment. If you have any idea how hard it is to undo years to conditioning and neglect and near-trauma to get to a point where acceptance becomes you, then you will know what I am talking about. It is not the episode you have been through, its the lessons and experiences that you carried with you after that have to come undone.

Here I am now, staring at my reflection. The coffee in my hand has become cold now because I am seeking catharsis in words. And I hope it comes to me as effortlessly as the shame came to me all these years.

It is thanks to this shame and loathe that I have been unable to click pictures of myself. This series of pictures I took on my phone today are me at my lowest, but these are also proof that I am trying to shatter the limiting beliefs set for me as much as possible. It’s just that, healing is not linear.

And today, it’s been that kind of a day!

Managing my Day: Toddler+Newborn edition

I am blogging after two years. Sheesh! That’s an awfully long time. What is worse that in that time, Covid has become a pandemic, life’s taken a complete 360 and I’ve cruised through an entire pregnancy along with being Covidified (I know Covidified is not an actual word, but it should be tbh). There was this entire spectrum of things I could have written about in full detail but I didn’t. Instead I let time pass idly by while I binged on super unhealthy food undoing all the work I had put in to lose my weight pre-pregnancy. So, in a sense I am back to where I started physically but this time I have a toddler and an infant keeping me company.

Believe it or not, I get asked atleast once in a week about how I manage my work and my routine with a toddler and an infant. My answer is pretty straightforward, I have help. Loads of it. When I delivered three weeks early in June, my house help and her daughter helped me with the baby in the hospital while my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law took care of the toddler back home. My husband shuttled between the two. After a week when I was back home, my in-laws had to go back to their town but my mum stepped in along with my aunt. They stayed over with me for a month all through July. Things were pretty well sorted but then my house-help was going to go on a month long leave in August and my husband’s work schedule had gone awry so I decided to travel to my mum’s place 2000 kms away. Since the baby was under six weeks, we took the 36 hour train journey which turned out to be pretty uneventful. I stayed there for the next 40 days and came back home in the first week of September.

Back home, it was going to be just me with the kids most of the time. Before coming home, I made charts, lists of things I would need, plans about how I would work throughout the day. So, I was mentally prepared to dive head-on. My house-help had also resumed work and she made sure our home was deep-cleaned before we came back with the kids.

The first couple of days were predictably difficult for us to settle in, especially for the newborn. Her entire schedule was being tested, she was used to being pacified by my mum and my aunt and now it was just me and she was overwhelmed with the sudden absence. She did, however, get used to sleeping in the cradle since birth so rocking her to sleep in it helped immensely. My older daughter was back on home turf and was overjoyed. She got back into routine quite well.

I was planning on resuming work within a couple of weeks so we decided to hire additional help. We, Pramod and I, thought it best to not stress over housework when it could easily be delegated so that I could focus on the kids and my work exclusively. My help that I already had was delegated with cooking, dusting, smaller chores and assisting my toddler in her activities if need be. The new house-help was given the basic cleaning, swabbing and dishes to deal with. I delegated myself the job to oversee and make sure that everything was done well. The entire chores/work system would take a couple of months to stabilise so I gave myself that window to make sure the housework gets tackled efficiently by then.

Typically, my day starts at 7 AM when the first house-help comes in. She cleans the house and the dishes and I get started with breakfast prep. 8 AM, either one of the girls wakes up and ten minutes later the other one wakes up too. Papa wakes up in all the hullabaloo. The next one hour is chaos in the Dadala household. Diaper changes, bathroom runs, brushing teeth, breakfast choices, loud singing, video calls, tummy time, everything is happening all at the same time. 9 AM, my primary house-help arrives. She takes over the kitchen from here. I put the infant down for her first nap and have my breakfast. Baby Hashtag (the name my older daughter is known for virtually) uses this time to watch some television or colour. 10.30 AM, Marvelous Faye (my little’s virtual name) wakes up. She plays for a while with her older sister, feeds and gets ready for her bath. By 11.30 AM, both my kids are bathed and ready. By noon, Faye goes down for her second nap and Baby Hashtag sits down for her lunch. The rest of the afternoon is pretty much a blur where I spend time with the older kid reading books or playing or just talking while feeding the littlest. In the evenings, usually I take the kids downstairs in the apartment for some fresh air and frankly, a change of scenery for me as well. If Faye is cranky, I resort to babywearing. We are back home by 6 PM, I put the baby down for her final nap and BabyHashtag has her dinner. By 7.30 PM, our quota of play is done and we get changed up and ready for bed. I try and make sure I get them both simultaneously in bed by 8.30 PM. 90% of the times, they are asleep by then which leaves me free for the rest of the night. I am up till around 12.30/1.00 AM working, reviewing or cleaning up. I usually am asleep by 1.00 AM since I have to wake up fairly early next day.

So far, this has been our schedule. Having extra help is truly a blessing, best decision we made. Baby Hashtag is going to be 5 years old in a couple of months and Marvelous Faye is 4 months old now, this system so far works. Amidst all this, I try and complete 7-8K steps walking. I intend to increase it to 10K steps in a day and also squeeze in some time for a decent workout. How that works out, I’ll update you on that, in a new post next month hopefully.

Until next time.

My favourite Saree

This is my absolutest most favourite Saree ever! I wanted to wear this at my second wedding reception but couldn’t because of time constraints. The next (and only) time I wore it was at a family wedding and I am 5 months pregnant here.

Fast forward to post delivery, weight gain and neglect has made it difficult for me to wear this beauty again. I am dreaming of a day, hoping that I wear this again in the next 6 months but whenever I embark on a journey to achieve better health and try and get fit, something in my life goes out-of-tune and I spiral into my old habits. I think it is self-fulfilling. I keep dreading that something is going to mess me up and sooner or later, something does. Or maybe it is just bad timing, because the deeper endeavour toward a fit and healthy body should be a never-ending cycle you don’t ever break out of. To inculcate it in your day to day is the hardest part and it is the first step you take towards the betterment of you for the rest of your life.

That’s the hard part though.

That first step.

The first few days of keeping up the pace and energy despite your body and mind telling you to take it down a notch. Despite you wanting to procrastinate and live by ‘let’s start tomorrow’, you ignore all the voices in your head to prove to yourself that you can do it. That’s the win! That’s the win you have been fighting for SO long.

And I don’t remember the last time I gave myself a win. I give myself a pat on the back everytime my toddler says something smart or helps me out but I am also constantly asking myself. Is that enough? Am I satisfied? And I am not. This is not what I had envisioned myself to be.

Yes, I am a happy mother. But I am not a happy person. And that shows in my personality on days when I do nothing at home. Nothing for my daughter, nothing for my husband, nothing for my family and nothing for myself. I have so many ideas. But I have no direction. It’s kind of ironic because my name actually means ‘Direction’ in Hindi.

Irony is laughing in my face right now.

What’s the point of such a realisation at 3 am in the morning? The only takeaway from this is that it’s keeping me awake. And restless. And tomorrow, I might wake up with half the resolve that is burning in me right now. But I see myself yearning more and more nowadays. Indeed that’s a good thing. It shows I have the fire. The fire that sets off and burns momentarily because I fail to fuel it with more oxygen from my end.

How do I plan to keep up the momentum from here, I’ll tell you tomorrow. Because I have hope that the momentum this time around will linger a little time longer.

Funny the train of thought a picture of a Saree can trigger.

Promises, promises

I promised myself last year that I would write more. Because writing for me is more about self-expression than providing information. I would rather someone reads my posts and think along the lines I do, or provides a different perspective but continuing the same chain of thought that I started in the first place. I wrote to create a stir, even if it was in my mind of one person. There was a time when I would get messages on my social media from a stranger in the middle of the night telling me how they were moved by a certain post I wrote on my blog about dealing with death. Or maybe just congratulating me about a job well done with a post that would just be me rambling on and on and taking no particular direction in the narrative. Even right now, my daughter is taking her snack break so she is watching something on the television and I am sitting beside her typing this while a song blasts into my ears from a distance. There is noise everywhere but oddly, there is also clarity in my thoughts. Something that I have not been able to achieve in the past few months, since the time I promised myself that I would write more. Ironically, I haven’t written anything after that.

I also promised myself I would work on myself. That I would take care of my physical and mental health. Physically, I’ve been in a dump. Mentally, it has not been very different. I am an angrier, chubbier, gnarlier version of my old self and I do not like it one bit. Why am I telling you all this? Because if you are in the same frame of mind as I am, you are not alone. As much as people tell you that you are not alone, you will end up feeling like nothing bad has ever happened to anyone else but you. Nothing will come close to measuring up to the magnitude of the storm you feel within yourself. And no matter how much you try and resolve it, it will feel like it is sucking the life out of you. And it will go on for a long long long time! I know, I’ve been there. Sometimes, I am there. But that’s okay I guess. Now, I do not spend all day obsessing over something that needs no resolution from my end. I still try and eat my way through my emotions but instead of carbs I binge on salads and fruits and drinks LOTS of water. This also brings me to a very critical part of my personal well-being. I cannot work on my physical health as long as the demons of my mind linger. It is a vicious circle and I am at the head of it, if being at the head of the circle makes any sense.

There is no overnight change but there are incidents that spark something in you. That is what happened with me. A few incidents that forced me to see myself in a light that I was avoiding this far. I came face to face with my insecurities, imperfections and the fact that I needed to work on myself before anything else. From the time I got pregnant to now when my daughter is 2.5 years old, I’ve been through a roller-coaster of emotions and experiences. Some good, others challenging and scary. But I’ve come out of it okay.Not stronger, just about okay.

And then I heard this podcast by a friend which talked about the very thing that prompted me to rethink everything about my life. The only difference is that what she talked about in her podcast happened to me two weeks before released it and it’s uncanny how it all lined up. Maybe, it is a sign. My subconscious is telling me to make the change. To take charge and make the change.

So, I promise myself again. To take care of my mental and physical well-being. I am starting on a weight-loss journey which is super difficult for me because I have a very complicated relationship with food and my emotions. But if I write about it, post on social media about it, I will be compelled to share more with my audience and to make myself look good, I need to show results. That will be my push. This is mighty superficial of me but I am hoping this tactic works with me because most of everything else has failed.

I will also promise to share about my path to weight-loss. In details, with numbers. Right now, I am not comfortable sharing it but I promise I will because I will not stay at it for very long.

I also promise myself to do everything I love. To get back to photography. To relearn the craft and to re-train myself. To write more. To love more and to forgive more. To love and forgive myself more.

P.S. The podcast I was talking about is https://beingmammabear.com/2019/07/23/mamma-bears-musings-podcast-ep-1-why-it-is-important-to-look-in-the-mirror/

Reality Check

I never could figure out how I was feeling after the death of my father. If I can be honest, I had no time to process it. He passed away at home within seconds of a heart attack caused by a bad fall. I was with him. We all were. Within seconds, it all changed. And it never hit me.

It happened late in the afternoon and I spent the remaining day receiving relatives and friends who had come to pay their last respects. I had no time to digest the fact that this would be the last night he was going to spend in his home with his family. Less than 24 hours after he passed away, the following morning I had fallen off a staircase and fractured my ankle. An hour after that when we were to leave for the cremation grounds for the last rites, I got locked in a bedroom and the locks got jammed. I was driven to the grounds in a frenzy after the door was opened somehow because my mum wished that I give my father his last rites. I am the only child and everyone respected my mother’s decision so they waited. They waited while I limped towards my duty.

When I did it, when I lit the fire, a wave of emotion washed over me. The final realisation. This was it. I hugged my uncle and cried. That was me crying, weeping for the first time in 24 hours knowing full well what was happening.

I have relived that moment in my head over and over again this past couple of weeks. That moment when I watched my papa go away. And although at the time I knew I had lost the most important man of my life, the enormity of the loss did not hit me till a few days ago.

It’s been four years since he is gone. And I blame myself that I did not accept death in its face value. I assumed it was a journey and people just left us in life to move onward in their respective journeys of life. As long as it was others, I was fine with believing this. Believing that death is the next great adventure.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Death is finality. There’s nothing that can be undone. The person is gone forever leaving behind a trail of memories and unfulfilled dreams.

What I would give for my father to be at my wedding or to play with his granddaughter! All these thoughts come to me now. 4 years after he is gone. Why? Because I always hoped against hope that I would see him someday. I know it’s stupid but maybe being stupid is justified in this case. Right in the aftermath of the passing away of my hero, I battled grief like no other. I tried to cry very little, especially when I was with mum. I decided to write an exam that was due in a month and I got immersed in studying. I also had a fractured ankle which led me to be distracted more often than not. Physical pain does that. It swerves you off your mental trauma. But that’s the thing with trauma. It returns with a vengeance and it piles up with time if it is not resolved. That’s what’s happened with me. I failed to grieve my father, his memory and that haunts me now. So instead of making me stronger, thinking about him breaks my heart. One piece at a time. And it shouldn’t. His memory is supposed to give me strength and here I am, broken because I cannot deal with emotions properly.

What are the chances that writing about this will make it better for me? Maybe it will, I’m gonna give it a go then. Here goes:

“Dear Papa,

You went away too soon. We needed more time together. You deserved more time with your family, your wife, your brothers and your friends. You should have been here to be with your granddaughter, playing. You should have been here with your son-in-law, discussing taxes. The world is changing and you should have been here to see all that. But you are not and no, that’s not ok. I have been telling myself that it’s ok but it’s time to admit that it’s not. I have lived with the lie of being ok for months but not anymore. It’s not great for my existence that I lead myself to believe that now. So I am telling myself this. That you are gone now. Physically. But all those good and bad times are here to stay. So instead of hoping like a lunatic that I maybe can create new memories with you, let me just rewind and play all that has happened. This acceptance will take me long but I know it will happen. Help me through it please. I want nothing more than to be a happy soul whenever I think of you. If this works, I swear I’ll write to you more often. I love you Papa.

Love, Chinki”

Hulk-Me, SMASH!

The last time I wrote anything on the blog was over two months ago. And that too was a ‘sponsored’ post. Let me break it down to you. Most of the content you see on a blog, if in the end it plugs a certain product, 99 percent chances are that it is paid for. Nothing wrong with that. That’s exactly how new-age advertising and marketing works. That’s how customer reach is widened and the audience gets to know about a new product or a service.

However for me, personally, the fun and the release that came with incessant writing did not come with posting paid content on the blog. Ofcourse, it meant that I was finally earning some money, if not good, while doing something that I enjoyed. But in the process, what I enjoyed doing started to become too daunting a task. Deadlines were supposed to be followed, a format to be kept in mind, keywords to be inserted and dozens of back and forth checks with the brand before the post finally went live on the blog. That was not fun at all!

Someone who had read my blog from the time I started writing 7 years ago, pointed out to me that the tone of my posts had changed. That I was too cheerful.

“Woah! How’s that a bad thing?”, I asked.

“Well, that’s not the real you! You are anything but cheerful when you blog. You are sarcastic and sassy and sometimes, over emotional. Never cheery. What’s wrong with you?” she exclaimed.

Damn it, she was right.

This remarkably sane friend who has made an appearance in my anecdote at a point of convenience while I was trying to make a point. She IS right. She IS also very imaginary but that’s not the issue here.

My writing is the issue right now because I am suddenly hyper aware of being judged.

I am a critical, overbearing and an overly friendly person who will do anything to not be on your bad side. But I cannot tolerate bullshit. When I read crap online, I am always the one orchestrating a backlash.

And then I read the content I’ve created recently and I want to seriously punch myself in the face. But I also want to give myself some benefit of doubt. I am the Bruce Banner-Hulk version of blogging gone awry because I’m constantly oscillating. Never fierce nor angry nor aware. But I’m mighty miserable because at this rate, I’m sure I’m gonna run out of ideas. My creative well is drying up and just like how these similes are getting more juvenile, I am too!

It’s time I let Banner-Me take a backseat and let Hulk-Me take over the blog for awhile. Hulk-Me was writing posts before sponsorships and campaigns happened and I was Happy and the reader was Happy.

As Captain America would now promptly tell me, “Dr Banner, now would be a great time for you to get angry!”

“That’s my secret captain. I’m always angry!”

AAAAARRGGGHHHHHHH *furious typing*

How I introduced the concept of oral hygiene to #BabyHashtag

I am writing after a loooong break! Why the long break you ask? Just. I found myself surrounded by a lot of toddler energy and my daily schedule went out the window when teething woes got added to the list.

While we are on the topic of teething, let’s talk oral hygiene. I’ve prided myself of having gotten though 29 years of my life without a single visit to the dentist. I never really needed it. I thought I was blessed with gifted gums but turns out my mother was a tooth fairy. She gave me good genes and a healthy oral hygiene routine, the knowledge of which I would happily pass on to #BabyHashtag.

#BabyHashtag started cutting teeth really early. By the time she was six months old, I could visibly see two white bits on her lower gum. They sprouted up within a couple of weeks and the next month came along another set of pearly whites on the upper gum. By the time she was 9 months old, she had 4 teeth and was biting everything in sight.

As was tradition, we went shopping for the baby every weekend. There was always something that we had to buy for her. Call it, new parent mania or whatever, we had it. So one of our shopping trips when she turned 6 months old, we bought her the booster seat and we also bought a set of training toothbrushes for her. These training toothbrushes for babies by Pigeon is essentially age appropriate gum and tooth cleaning aids that are shaped like toothbrushes so that the baby can learn how to handle them.

The third yellow toothbrush in this set is a miniature toothbrush and #BabyHashtag started using it a little after she turned one. Initially we did not give her a toothpaste, it was just the brushing she got used to. We guided her a few times, later she started mimicking us. Trying to use the brush like we did. It was endearing and heartening to watch her try and succeed after a few misses.

When I was trying to decide whether or not to introduce a toothpaste for her, I was sent the Mamaearth Berry Blast Toothpaste.

It is fluoride free, 100% natural and MadeSafe certified. It’s the newest product in their baby care range and I was all too excited for it. I also got another brand’s toothpaste in the banana flavour just in case she rejected this. She happily accepted the berry blast toothpaste. The other toothpaste we bought sadly never saw the outside of the packaging it came in. It’s cute to see her brush working up that little lather and getting totally excited by it.

Like I mentioned, the Mamaearth toothpaste is fluoride free so it’s ok if your baby swallows it while brushing. They naturally and instinctively try to mouth everything that either looks interesting or smells good. She’s taken amazingly well to the zingy berry flavour and brushing is well, a breeze.

You can buy the toothpaste on http://www.amazon.in or http://www.mamaearth.com

F for Finding the light | Hashtag Disha

The mood around me has been generally sombre this past week. It was a dampening ill health situation at home with the baby and on the national map, the Asifa case has left everyone shocked. I’m not getting into the details of the gory incident. Graphic images and minute details of the whole episode have been shared endlessly over all social media platforms. But to what end?

Momentary outrage?

Or that moment in history that will change the course of life as we know it?

Definitely, it’s not the latter. These periods of momentary outrage are not what bug me. In this time and age where faceless trolls thrive on the internet, outrage over issues like Kathua and Unnao are not unheard of. What is most common in these situations are that there is no end in sight when it comes to rape.

Being the mother of a daughter, incidents like these shake me to the very core. More often than not, I’m left thinking if I’ll ever be able to make sure that she is protected. I cannot be breathing down her neck all her life and follow her everywhere if that’s what protecting her would mean.

I’m not here to provide a solution to a crime that is so deeply embedded in our social strata, it’s alarming. Abuse is not confined to the downtrodden or the middle class. It is prevalent in the upper echelons of the society as well. In most cases, when it’s abuse by someone who is a known person, the episode is let go and the case forgotten because ‘log kya kahenge‘ (what will the people say). I have known women, so many women, who were subjected to abuse as a child in the hands of a known relative or a family friend. At the time, it felt comfortable to them. And when they were old enough to understand what had happened, their confessions to their mothers were stifled by the family elders because ‘bahut puraani baat hain, bhool jao!‘ (‘It’s a matter of the past, forget it and move on)

It is poisonous. Nursing that feeling of being wronged and violated over the years. It is toxic. Not everyone can come out of it with conviction. They succumb to being abused. Mentally, physically and emotionally. It makes them endure toxic relationships in their life as if they are normal. And despite the fact that they know deep down that the relationship they are in is abusive and destructive in nature, they will live with it because they end up feeling that they deserve it. I’m not making this up as I go. I’ve seen this happen with dozens of abusive and imploding relationships around me. Not just spousal relationships, every other familial connection gets affected.

So how are we, as new parents, going to change anything?

By teaching our kids some simple things.

  • Irrespective of whether you are the parent of a boy or a girl, teach them about consent.
  • The power that they hold by teaching them to say NO when needed.
  • Everything about the good touch and the bad touch.
  • When you want to talk to your toddler mid-tantrum, get on your knees to look them in the eye and try and understand what’s pestering them. They will learn to communicate better with you and trust you more as they grow up.
  • If you have older kids, do not shy away from conversations about sex education if your kid is inquisitive. There are books now that help break this down for your kids in the gentlest and smartest possible manner.
  • Teach them that no matter what or how close they are to anyone, violation of personal space is never okay.
  • Have open and comfortable discussions with your kids, especially when they are older.
  • Reassure them constantly that you are always around if they want to talk.

We as parents have to constantly work towards finding the light amidst total darkness for our babies. We know the world out there is the worst but we have a life to nurture, let’s do that with all the positivity that we can find within ourselves. Let’s be the change, however miniscule it may be.

Disclaimer: When I talk about abuse and rape, I am not polarizing it as a crime that targets only women. I know men have been subject to abuse as well. My focus and concern however stems from the fact that I have a daughter and in light of recent events, I want to be make sure we are doing everything we can in raising her in a safe and solid environment.