Learning “Motherhood” on Mothers’ day

I am not a great fan of “Mothers day”, “Father’s Day” etc, which are celebrated off late around the world. In my view, it is more a marketing gimmick for selling more products and promoting brands. Having said that, the second Sunday of every year is celebrated as “International Mothers’ day”. I would rather learn motherhood from the wonderful mothers around me rather than promote a marketing gimmick.

What can we learn from our mothers ? I would list five qualities, which I have learnt and admired from the mothers I have interacted in my life. There could be many more and these are my significant five. You could share your valuable five and this way we could learn from each other.

The first quality which a mother exudes is “Patience”. I have hardly seen a mother who does not put in extra efforts to display her patience. Right from feeding an infant or dealing with the antics of a child or bracing with the rebellion of an adolescent, a mother teaches us precious lessons on patience.

Perseverance is the second quality I have learnt from mothers. A mother never gives up. They don’t give up on anything. They are willing to convince anyone for getting their things done. They will follow up with anyone and everyone for the sake of their kids at school or otherwise.

The third quality one can adore in mothers is their “Selflessness”. In today’s world, most of us are so self centred that we forget many a time that there is a world around us. A mother on the other hand is serving others all the time and in this process,most of the time, forgets that she has her own world to live in. She lives for others all the time.

Loyalty is best learnt from mothers. They are loyal to their parents, their in laws, their children , sisters, brothers and their friends. While men may also be loyal, the unconditional loyalty of mothers’ is to experienced to be believed. It is to be believed to be learnt from our mothers.

The fifth quality I admire in mothers is their “unconditional love”. We all express our love and expect the same from others as human beings. However, mothers tend to love unconditionally. I cannot visualise a mother loving someone conditionally. This gives them the power of letting go when the love is not reciprocated in equal measure. This is when most of us find it difficult and feel hurt in our lives.

As I said earlier, a mother is an epitome of humanness. She is endowed with limitless qualities but I thought let me share my best five and request you to comment and share yours so that together we learn from one another.

As in the photo above, a mother appreciates her kid as much as she would do to other kids around her.

Our best tribute to mothers would be to imbibe at least one of these attributes from our mothers and live it every day of our life.

S Ramesh Shankar

12th May 2019

Why are we remembered on our birthday ?

I have always wondered as to why people remember you on your birthday. After all your birth day is like any other day of your life. You neither contribute more or less on that day of the year as compared to any other day. In spite of this your friends, relatives and well wishers remember you and wish you on your birthday every year.

Today is my birthday and I decided to reflect on the reasons for the same. You may be blessed to be born in a family with affectionate parents and loving siblings. This may make you a loving person to everyone in your family. This could be one reason why they may remember you.

Then the question to ask is “why do friends remember you on this day ?”. You meet people right through your life. As a kid you have friends and then as you grow up you gather more friends in school, college and at the work place. This may not be a sufficient reason for people to remember you.

Then I realised that people do not remember you because you studied with them or worked them in their life. People remember you because you touched their lives in some positive way some day in their life. A friend mentioned yesterday that she called up a distant friend to express her gratitude for helping her when she needed it the most. This act of kindness touches peoples’ lives.

We are blessed if we have been grateful to others or have been of help or support to them at some stage of their life. They remember you on your birthday because we have made a difference in their lives. Most of us are so busy with our daily routines today that we forget to express our gratitude to people who have helped us in our lives.

If we take a pause and reflect, we may realise that a small act of kindness can greatly impact the life of others. If we can take time out and call a friend or visit one just to say thank you or even just be there and have a cup of tea with them without expecting anything in return, it may do wonders to them and to us.

I may have taken years to realise this simple truth. Today I do try to call up a friend when I realise it is her or his birthday. I try to visit a friend or a relative when I realise that I can touch their lives in some positive way. Even being around unconditionally makes a difference.

I am not sure if you agree with my views. You have a right not to do so. But I appeal to you to try it and feel the difference. The positive vibes of touching people is to be felt to be believed. It is to be experienced to felt.

You could try it and let me know how you felt ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Fights

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It is quite common to end up fighting with your siblings as a kid. We all have done it and the kids of tomorrow would do it. We feel it is fully justified when we did it but a bit immature when your neighbouring kids fight with each other. Fights could be over sharing a meal or even sillier an issue than that but it does happen. It’s fun to see children fight and then end up playing together as if nothing happened.

It is funny when adults fight. The most common occurrence is between spouses. All of us who are married would have experienced it umpteen times in our own lives. Most of the time when you look back on the issue on which you end up fighting, it is quite silly. But our ego does not allow us to give in. Each of us stand by our own stance and are not willing to compromise. Only time heals the issue or sometimes a mediator becomes necessary.

Another dimension of a fight is when teams on a play ground end up fighting with each other. Everyone agrees that sport is the best way to build comradeship but when two teams end up fighting on a play field, it is not sporty. It generally starts with an argument and sometimes ends up in a fist fight or even a riot on the field. Physical injuries apart from emotional distress are the only outcomes.

The worst dimension of a fight is when it happens between communities, societies or nations. It can be over sharing of waters of a common river flowing through them. It could be over boundaries and demarcation lines between them. It could be due to failed commitments. Whatever be the issue, it starts with a small flare up and then ends up almost like a battle or a war.

The interesting aspect in all types of fights is that “Ego” of individuals is the root cause. Kids do not like to give up their space and fight for their rights. Adults never want to compromise. They are willing to give up their values to protect their ego. Communities and nations fight with each other because of a ego conflict of their political leaders. Any fight could be nipped in the bud if we are willing to “let go” of our egos.

The best example is given by kids. While they end up fighting at the drop of a pin, they are also willing to forgive and forget at the shortest possible time. Adults as individuals have more inflated egos and hence take more time and efforts to give in. Teams suffer from clash of individual egos and team prestige. It takes time and effort from more than one individual in a team to resolve conflicts between them. Nations fight on prestige and false sense of supremacy. It takes months or even years to settle an international dispute between nations.

My learning is that fights may be inevitable. But, it may be a good idea to learn from children. While it may be normal to end up with a dispute, it may need a lot of guts to give up our ego. We need to give in and be willing to compromise and move on. There is no dispute on the earth, which cannot be resolved by sitting across the table and sorting out. We need to be willing to give up our egos as individuals, teams or communities.

Fights are quite common between spouses as seen in the photo above. We may not talk for days but need to learn to resolve it between us.

Another interesting learning can be from animals. I have never seen two animals fight and never give up. After the fight is over, they move on and are willing to live together again. The most common sight is that of street dogs. They may end up in a fight over food. But as soon as that is over, they end up playing with each other and move on in their life.

It is time to learn to give up our “Ego”

S Ramesh Shankar

Hurt

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I always wonder why some people do not realise how much they hurt others by their words and deeds. Today I heard of an incident where someone’s mother was admitted in a hospital and was recovering. One of her relatives who came in to see her mother instead of encouraging and consoling her, told her unabashedly that you are wasting your money on her treatment since your mother is not going to live long.

I was shocked and dismayed even to hear this incident. First of all this relative was not a doctor. Secondly, she was neither supporting this person financially nor emotionally to treat her mother. Then, I fail to understand what pleasure a person can get to make such unforgivable statements especially to a daughter attending on her mother in a hospital. You can hurt someone unknowingly and it is forgivable but if someone hurts you knowingly what do you do ?

I do understand all of us end up hurting people around us by our words or deeds some way . We may not realise it as and when it happens. However, we do regret when we realise it and seek forgiveness from the person we have hurt or from God for our cruel behaviour. In this instance, the relative was her aunt. It is beyond my imagination to even think of why people behave this way. I can understand how deeply hurt this person may have felt.

We are brought up by our parents and they sacrifice everything in life to give us comfort and joy in life. They never think twice before spending money on you for your betterment. As we grow up, our parents get old and sometimes they do fall sick and become immobile. It is at this time we need to think of how we can serve our parents. We can never in our life time repay the non financial debt of service our parents have rendered to us. In my view, it is a sin even to think of not treating them well.

In this case, the relative who made these scandalous statements was her mother’s sibling. Her mother had been like a mother to her since the age gap between them is quite a lot and her mother had died at a young age. So instead of being grateful to her and helping the family financially or otherwise to treat her mother, this person ends up making such regrettable statements. I will never recommend that we should even make such statements for our enemies if we are human beings.

All of us are materialistic in life and we accumulate wealth during our youth to take care of ourselves in our old age. We need to realise that serving our elders is a rare opportunity God provides to some of us in our life time. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need to consider it our privilege and honour to serve our parents and take care of them when they need us most.

If we think spending money on our parents or elders hospitalisation is waste of money just because they are old and immobile today, we are inhuman in thought and action. We have to realise that all of us will grow old some day and imagine our children thinking the same way and leaving you in a hospital unattended because they think spending money on your treatment is not a wise thing to do.

Some of us realise our mistakes in our life time. It is possible that some of us never realise it in this life time. Hence, I understand why the Hindu religion says that human being has seven births. This may be because God gives us six more chances to repent for our errors in life. I pray to God that all of us treat our elders with respect and dignity. We treat them the way we want to be treated by our children in the future.

Hurt is like the the shedding of the leaves by the trees during autumn. When someone hurts you, you feel barren like the trees may feel when their leaves shrug off.

Let us learn to forgive such inhuman humans and pray to God that he will bestow them with wisdom in this life or the next.

S Ramesh Shankar

Emotional Dustbin


We may consider the dustbin as the least attractive place in the house or office as we end up throwing all that we do not want in life. However, we do not realize how valuable the dust bin is as it relentlessly accepts all our garbage we throw into it.  I was wondering how valuable the dustbin is in our life.  In life, you always want people around you, who are willing to listen to all your outpouring.  We may call them the emotional dustbin.

  I had a colleague of mine in one of the earlier organizations I worked who ( in the photo above) symbolised the emotional dustbin.  He was easily accessible and was always willing to listen to the feelings of everyone around him.  I have seen him from morning to night listening to people and enabling them to outpour their emotions.  This is not an easy task.  One may get emotionally discharged if we keep listening to others sorrow all the time.

  However, in life, we all need an emotional dustbin.  As we grow up, it is generally our parents and in most cases our mother or an elder sibling, who plays the role of the emotional dustbin.  We can pour our emotions on them endlessly.  They have the patience and perseverance to listen to us and tolerate our non sense too.  It is this ability of a person, which makes him or her adorable.

This is equally true for us as parents at home. As our kids grow up, our patience tends to diminish. While all of us wait for our child to speak the first word in the world, we want to shut up the child as he grows up. We cannot tolerate the continuous muttering of our child. Then adosclent children tend to test our patience. Their rebellious nature challenges our emotions and we refuse to give in. It is at this stage, our listening skills are put to test.  

In the organisational context, most people managers are not good at listening.  We need to realize that our team members are people with emotions.  Our ability to enable our colleagues to share their joy and sorrow with equal measure will help us grow as a leader.  We need to learn to be like the emotional dustbin.  In most situations, we may silence our colleagues by our inability to be good listeners.  

  As adults, we always get along better with people who are active listeners.  We like their company as we can share whatever we feel like.  We pick friends and colleagues at work or life, who are willing to invest their time in us.  We are impatient with people who are restless.  While we want to liberally share our feelings, we are not equally excited when others want to do the same with us.

  In the cycle of life, we all are emotional people.  Some of us hide our emotions and find it difficult to express them till we lose control.  While others look for people around them all the time so that they can freely express themselves.  It is true that all of us want to share with others many a time.  It is easier to share with others and make them listen to your feelings and emotions.  However, it is difficult the other way around.

  May be it is time to realize that the dustbin is invaluable and human being as an emotional dustbin in life is the most valuable in our lives.

  Is it time to emote ?

S Ramesh Shankar

No tears to cry…


All of us would have faced situations in life where we are drowned in grief and have no tears to cry.  It is these situations where you feel lonely but do not want to be disturbed.  You want to confront God as to why he has besieged you with such a crisis.  You are lonely but prefer solitude to a crowd.  You want to be left alone as reflection helps you deal with sadness.

I have myself been through situations like these in my life.  The first time after I lost both my parents in my early twenties I lost faith in God.  I stopped visiting temples and questioned the very existence of a spiritual power beyond human kind.  It has happened to me on a few other occasions later in my life too.  Every time, it makes you cry but without tears in your eyes.  Every time you look at the world with different eyes and console yourself only by comparing with people who are in more distressed situations than you.

Last week one such incident happened to me.  I called on a friend who is as gregarious and vivacious as human beings can be.  She is a person whose mere presence can energise you.  I have seen her brings smiles to the lives of many around her.  I have always seen her finding opportunities to help everyone around her in every possible way. I called her to enquire about her well being since she stays in another city.  She did not even pick up her phone.  I was worried.  I sent her a message and she replied that her mother is seriously unwell and her grand child is also not well.

I reflected on this incident and realised that even a person like her did not have tears in her eyes to cry.  When all the good deeds you do to others does not ensure your happiness, you wonder whether it was worthwhile to be good in life.  You wonder if helping others is necessary when God does not want to help you in a crisis.  This applies even to people like her who are selfless.

I have also seen colleagues and friends confronted with multiple crises at the same time.  One sometimes wonders why God is cruel to such people.  Even before they barely wriggle out of one crisis God presents them with a bigger challenge and this shatters their confidence in themselves.  It is during phases like these, we need to be around to help such people in distress.  We may not be able to relieve them of their stress.  But, our very presence and being around may instil faith in them that they are not alone to face this emergency in their life.

However, I am a born optimist and I realize that every night is followed by a day.  Everyday the sun sets to rise again.  Hence while our tears may dry up during a crisis , we need to keep our hopes alive.  We need to believe that we are capable of dealing with everything in life.  After all there is no dead end in our life.  There will always be a turn and we need to have the patience to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Let us pray to God so that he ensures that good people in life do not suffer this way.

It is better to cry with tears than without.

S Ramesh Shankar

Friends forever

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One is born with relatives but we make friends in life.  We do not have a choice to choose our family or relatives but we do have an option to choose friends and so we do.  My experience in life has taught me so far that relatives are generally less reliable than friends.  I do not want to generalise that all relatives are non dependable or all friends are dependable.  After all both relatives and friends are humans and they are bound to err like all of us.

I was born in a lower middle class family and my father was a central government employee.  While I was born in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India, I have grown up in different parts of the country.    I have had the privilege of living in east, north, south and west of India.  Even as a child I have seen that family friends were more supportive than relatives.  The true test of reliability is not when you are doing well but when you are in distress.

I have experienced in many such occasions in life when I have gone through a bad patch.  Way back in the early eighties, I lost my mother and then within two years my father was on the death bed with a kidney failure.  It was  mostly friends who supported me financially and emotionally rather than relatives.  As I said earlier, there were some close relatives who helped me too but the selfless help came from friends.

Today I remembered these friends because I was in Bhubaneswar to attend the marriage of a friend’s daughter.  I started my career in a steel plant and grew up with a group of young friends from different states of India.  Although we belong to different states and speak different local languages, we have been together and in touch for more than three decades.  We have not met many times during the course of these thirty years but something somewhere strikes a chord between us even today.  We do not miss an opportunity to attend any marriage or other social functions in each others’ families.

As regards relatives, they are inherited in a way with your family.  They are with you and support you in ways they can.  However, as you grow up and separate they get into their own world.  If you do well in life , they still connect with you and seek your help too.  However, if you are in distress, many of them may forget you or feign ignorance in times of need.  As I stated earlier, it is not fair to state that all relatives are like that.  Some of them have been of great support to me in my life and I will ever be grateful to them.

I recently attended the alumni meetings of the graduation classmates and post graduation mates.  Both of them were nostalgic and we could relate to each other as if we had just passed out of college.  The bohenomy was symptomatic of our unconditional relationship.  We shared our joys and sorrows and when in need everyone was eager to help each other.

I would just like to emphasise that friends are forever and we need to nurture and cherish those relationships.  Relatives are inherited and we need to be in touch and keep a respectful relationship.  If they behave like friends, then we are lucky but  if they don’t we should never regret.  After all some friends also may behave in abnormal ways after being in touch with you for years.

As in the photo above, three of us are friends for almost four decades now.

Let friendships last forever

S Ramesh Shankar