I know I know, it is not sexy to smack kids now-a-days, even un-sexier to claim you were a recipient of one, not only as a kid, but even in late-20s (okay once only). Today I will make that unsexy claim, because, for that one slap, I will be forever grateful to Maa. That one slap put for me, in perspective, identities, values and priorities; that which serves me well every single day of my adult life.
(Warning: Smacking/Spanking a grownup Kid could be injurious to your health, if s/he chooses to hit back, a bone or two may need some fixing, dear Parents, so be judicious :p My Mom could take the risk with me, I have always had not so strong arms! On a more serious note, do not get me wrong, I am not saying slap your way out an unruly child situation, just that, sometimes that may be needed to instill sense which otherwise won’t come. Like everything else, nothing black and white about spanking, or should I say black and blue)
I had just finished my MBA from allegedly one of the finer schools of India, and gotten placed, allegedly , in one of the finer and well-paying global consulting firms. I was flying high. When things are going good, it rarely occurs to us that, the credit may not be entirely ours. I was the smart one, beyond criticism, especially beyond that of family, C’mon I had more degrees and better institutes on my resume. Isn’t that the reason I was getting so much “bhav” from eager Moms’ of younger kids and envious glances of those in my age-group?
Don’t exactly remember what happened that day 8-9 years ago, but vaguely remember I was piqued at some suggestion of Maa’s, and I rudely dismissed her. That month when I was home, this probably was not the only incident when I was acting the way I was. She had been patient all the while, but that day she lost it, she came over and it was her palm, my cheek – Chamaat! She roared
“Leave your degrees and your college outside the door when you enter this house. If you haven’t learnt how to be a human first, your degrees are of zilch use to me. Next time you enter please say it out loud, I am Ami not IIM-A”
It’ll be a big lie to claim that the self-built tower of ego collapsed instantaneously as hammer of Maa’s words came down heavily on it. No chance, Ego is a perseverant bitch and very quick to act truant. I was red-faced, I was boiling inside. If I were a volcano, the lava would have melted my entire colony. Being always perceived the mature, goody goody elder kid, I was rarely (never said never!) on the receiving end of such a spanking. Hence when it came, at a time when I thought I was infallible (Mind you, life has been unsparing in its resolve to dissolve any trace of such a thought now), I was furious and flummoxed, my brain froze. I just sat there and stared wide red teary eyed. (Which now I believe is a good reflex to have, holds one back from retaliation one would regret later).
The significance of her words have come to me over time. What is it that defines me? Is it my degree, the name of my family, my college, my company, my car (if I ever learn to drive that is) or the fact that I speak English? If someday I was thrown in the wild jungles of Amazon, will any of these help me survive? And most importantly, do my labels really help make me a good daughter, sister, partner, colleague, friend, citizen, human? What is it that I take in pride in?
Yes, indeed I worked hard to get where I am today (and no that isn’t saying much), but would I be here if my parents hadn’t given me the upbringing they did? If my friends hadn’t put sense into me when I was getting carried away? If life hadn’t been so kind to present those benevolent strangers, who knew me not, but never failed to extend a helping hand, when I wasn’t sure where my tuition fees would come from? If that girl who scored more than I did, hadn’t moved to another city, making the last seat in the famed engineering college available for me? If some omniscient author hadn’t written that one sentence in the book which gave me the answer I was seeking all the while, pulling me out of my self-dug emotional pit?
Ironically, Maa’s words have helped me the most when life was hell-bent on teaching me things the hard way! What was meant to be antidote for my over-confidence, turns out to become the ambrosia for my self-worth! She set me free of finding happiness in labels. In that, she also taught me to be grateful, for the good and the bad, the happy and sad, that every moment is an Enabler!!
Talking about labels, Shankarachrya takes it to another level in निर्वाण षटकम् . He says
मनो बुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तानि नाहम् न च श्रोत्र जिह्वे न च घ्राण नेत्रे
न च व्योम भूमिर् न तेजॊ न वायु: चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥
I am not this mind, intellect, ego or soul, neither am I these ears, tongue, nose or eyes .
Nor do I identify with these physical elements called sky, earth, fire or wind, I am but, THAT eternally joyous BLISS
As if saying, O foolish girl, you talk about not identifying with labels, while taking pride in being yourself? Ami, too is a label that would fade away with this perishable impermanent body!
Well, long way to go before I grasp the depth of Shankarachrya, for now, I am happy to have Maa who tells me what I need to hear and when I need to hear, even if it is not what I want to hear, more often than not, it is just that!
ક્યારેક પ્રેમાળ પાર્વતી
તો ક્યારેક દુર્ગા અવગુણ હારી
આજે જે હું છું, જે કરી જાણું છું
એ બદ્ધુ તારા શક્તિ સંચાર, સંસ્કાર ને આભારી!
ॐ शान्ति |