The last post http://celebratetheright.blogspot.in/2016/08/the-mother-father-midwife-and-half-born.html which was a metaphor for an existential dharma sankata, resulted in quite a few reactions.
There were some other
interesting visualizations such as “…the baby is afraid to be born through
mermaid, for it fears of a form that wouldn’t be beautiful or functional”
and someone who was aware of my dilemma quipped “…the baby can choose another womb where
it feels safe and give the hell to this mother (for not making it feel safe)…”
Most reactions wished for a healthy child being born without any harm to the mermaid, like one said “…the passion of the mermaid, the love of the man and the faith of the midwife will win and influence baby's evolution”. The moot point being, just like a bollywood movie, most people wanted a “happy fairytale ending”, resembling my dear friend Vidya’s comment on the blogpost that reads “The story will end most gloriously… man's deep desire…, the woman's will …mid-wife's unflinching faith …deliver a golden baby”.
Earlier this month, I was in a tehsil in Vidarbha, Maharashtra to address a group of 70 women who had assembled to celebrate their ‘wholesomeness’. I started my interaction with them by narrating the metaphor of ‘The Mother, the Father, the Midwife and a half-born Child’. Most of their responses converged around ‘mother has to push harder and she will’; it was very clear that, in their view the complete onus of bringing the child into this world rested with the mermaid. Deeper exploration with them revealed that their only focus appeared to be the half born child. They were completely obsessed with the child’s well-being and not one of them expressed anything about the mermaid. Along the same continuum a friend’s message read “The child has to be born, this is the moment when their belief of creating their perfect world is being tested… the world they are seeking can happen only when this child comes into being… if the child does not find life, the man and the mermaid wouldn’t be same again…”
What do these convey about our psyche? In these responses I find guiding beliefs and obsessions of parenting. During the past several years, I have observed across the country - from remote parts of Telangana to industrialized patches of West Bengal; even in distinctly different cultures - working mothers in Nigeria to women entrepreneurs in London – most assume an obsessive & onerous duty of bringing up their progeny. Underlying their disposition of ‘try harder for my child’ appears to be a belief that these women are solely responsible for the evolution and well-being of their children. Often, in this belief, they sacrifice everything. Recently, a Nielson report pointed out that about 87% of the women in India are most pressured for time; embedded in that report is the dominant cause of it (pressure for time) - that has to do with the children.
It’s not as if only the women are obsessed parents; even men when obsessed with the idea of a perfect/ most glorious future for their children, more often than not end up being the most significant stumbling block in their child’s ability to realize his/ her true potential. The visible characteristics of such parents appear to be
- · Possessiveness
- · Over-protectiveness
- · Continuing to wear kid-gloves even in a child’s adolescent years
- · Self-sacrifice & pampering
- · Yearning to control the child in her/ his teenage and
- · Continuing to be preoccupied with affairs (no pun intended) of grown up children
Mostly, these parents have never recognized the ability and willingness of their child to explore and embrace the world at her/ his terms. A flawed idea of love at the root of their behavior leads to excessive interventions, regulations and an overwhelming presence till the child suffocates.
Every time I was able to let go of my obsession as a parent, my children delighted; but have I truly got over my preoccupation – perhaps not. However, whenever I meet a parent who truly treats their child as an equal and rejoices in her/ his explorations, I get inspired.
Last week, I happened to be conducting a program where the organizers had invited Mr Harvir Singh Nehwal, father of Ms Saina Nehwal (pride of India); while responding to his audience, he narrated his own life by quoting a poem that left a deep imprint on him and am sure he would have offered the same to his daughter that made her embrace life's adventures. This is by Hindi poet Ayodhya Singh Upadhyaya 'Hariaudh'. Bear with me while I attempt an English translation alongside -
ज्यों निकल कर बादलों की गोद से
थी अभी एक बूँद कुछ आगे बढ़ी
सोचने फिर फिर यही जी में लगी
हाय क्यों घर छोड़ कर मैं यों कढ़ी
मैं बचूँगी या मिलूँगी धूल में
चू पड़ूँगी या कमल के फूल में
बह गयी उस काल एक ऐसी हवा
वो समन्दर ओर आयी अनमनी
एक सुन्दर सीप का मुँह था खुला
वो उसी में जा गिरी मोती बनी
लोग यौं ही हैं झिझकते सोचते
जबकि उनको छोड़ना पड़ता है घर
किन्तु घर का छोड़ना अक्सर उन्हें
बूँद लौं कुछ और ही देता है कर !
Leaving the bosom of the clouds
As the water droplet proceeded a bit
She hesitated and thought
Why did I leave my home?
What’s there in my destiny -
Will I survive or disappear in dirt
Will I vaporize in a fire?
Or embrace a lotus petal
The moment brought such a gust of air
Reluctantly she drifted towards sea
Where lay a beautiful shell with open orifice
She fell there to become a pearl
People hesitate unduly
When they leave their cocoon
Yet leaving their home often
Brings them a transforming breeze
And those of us parents who do not recognize this spirit, continue to keep our child in the half born state even though the child demonstrated her/ his ability and willingness to take the biggest risk known to humankind, when as an unborn child (s)he decided to step outside the womb and embrace all the uncertainty and ambiguity.
Amidst the scenario where, with every passing generation, the degree of obsessed parenting seems to increase, there’s a need to recognize the downside of such parenting orientations. We may not be conscious of the lopsided mental model, notwithstanding the purest of intention we carry, this triggered behavior causes immense damage to our children by denting their ability to realize their own true potential. I do hope parents are able to see the delusional attitude they carry– whether it lies in role-modeling they imbibed as a child themselves or with the fact that they are fixated with giving the very best to their children or whether it emanates from their flawed understanding of love.
Let us bless our children to experience and receive an enlivening, spirited & sorted parenting. As the Alchemist says – “…when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it…” Let us all, as parents dream of evolving to such a notch that would make sure that no child is left half born.
 One of my teachers Raghu Ananthnarayanan defines dharma sankata as a dilemma between two rights
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saina_Nehwal -- Born 17 March 1990 is a professional badminton singles player has been a world no. 1 and maintained her world ranking in the top ten since 2009… Won over twenty international titles… has represented India three times in the Olympics… the Arjuna award winner and a Khel Ratna, the Government of India (GoI) conferred on her the Padma Bhushan - India's third highest civilian award
 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho