Thursday, June 26, 2008

Milk of Human Kindness

The other day I came upon a news clip about this villager in Orissa who rescued a bear cub which had strayed from the forest and took care of it. The cub has become a part of the family, treating the villager's 7-8 year old daugher as its sibling. It is quite tame and the villager, till now, has not used it for any commercial purposes.

The authorities (Forest Department, police) got to know of this, took the bear cub away and parked it in the zoo. They are also planning to arrest the villager for illegally keeping a wild animal in captivity. Which means, that his daughter, whose mother died sometime back, is going to become an orphan.

What sort of justice is this? Understood, that he did something illegal, but it was done with the best of intentions - the cub would have died if he had not looked after it. Being an uneducated villager living on the borders of a forest, he is unaware of laws that stop people from showing kindness to animals. And in doling out justice to the animal, a 7-year old child is being orphaned! Of course, another matter for debate is whether the bear will indeed have a better life in the confines of the zoo given the notorious facilities that Indian zoos have - at least, with the villager, it was living free, with open spaces around it.

While we definitely should care for animals and ensure that they remain in their natural habitat, sometimes we take things too far and become insensitive to human life. Maneka Gandhi, the most high profile animal lover in India, sometimes does push things too far (though I admire her work through People for Animals) - I wonder how she feels about all those people who were persecuted and presumably tortured by her ambitious husband during the emergency?

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Love

When my daughter got admitted to school, the parents were called for an orientation session on parenting. It included a session by a child pshychologist and the lady (or was it a gent?) said something that has stuck in my mind for 5 years. She said that though parents always crib about their children when they come to a psychologist, the children never complain about their parents - in fact, they always say 'My mummy is the best' or 'I love my daddy'!

Though it was rather touching, I was also a bit skeptical (that's my usual state of being, the 'sthayi bhava' as exponents of dance and abhinaya would say). But as my daughter grew up and started expressing herself, I began realising the truth of the statement. Being a single parent, I have a lot of pressures to handle. On top of that I almost have two professions and both are equally demanding. Amidst all this, I can make very little time for my daughter, though I try to make up by making her a part of almost all my socialising.

However, the pressures of such a life are difficult to handle and slowly but surely, I became the irate parent, impatient with her, taking out my frustations by scolding her (sometimes for a reason, but sometimes just to get the angst out of myself). After many a long day, I have been too tired to even listen to her and am hardly part of her daily routine like homework, etc. I've missed countless school shows and prize distribution ceremonies because of my travel schedule. Sometimes I feel that I should send her to a boarding school, but can hardly think of it seriously, since she's the one person who belongs to me. Ironically, that's probably the reason why I take her for granted and turn on her when I'm battling my inner demons.

What about her? Call it unconditional love or an uncanny sense of diplomacy, she still says 'My mother is the best' and 'I love my mamma the most'. When she was quite small, I had once scolded her. She went out of the room and after sometime came back with a card, which she shyly presented to me. On it was written 'Mamma you are the best and I love you very much' - I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. On every mother's day she makes a card for me and on one such card (which was titled 'Happy Moter's Day') she had written 'you are kind'. She still considers me her hero, is unnaturally proud of me and unusually shy when she has to perform in front of me. Diplomacy? I'll go with unconditional love.

As she's growing older, the bond is getting stronger - the flip side is that she only listens to me and not to too many other people. There are still the daily ups and downs to face but I've realised that this is one love where there's no profit and loss account, no tracking of how much you gave and how much the other person returned and definitely no threat of the scheming 'other' who will take your beloved away. Even when the day comes when she will turn around and say 'Mamma, you're so stupid', I will cherish the love that she has given me all these days and be forever grateful for it.