Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The churning within

It was late at night, but both of us were in a mood to chat. I looked at Raghav's nails (they needed cutting) and exclaimed: "Oh my!....they are almost like claws that hold meat!......maybe we should cut them tomorrow!" Instantly Raghav went into flashback mode......and wanted to talk about some things that happened in school..... I was all ears - wondering what surprises he was going to spring on me tonight.

"Amma, you know what? One time they forced me to eat egg at school", he said. I was shocked. I held my cool and with as much calm as I could muster asked him quietly :"What did you do? Did you eat it? You didn't like them forcing you?" "No, amma. I said no to them.....but they did not listen. They pushed my head towards it and made me go close to it. But I moved away. Then they got angry with me and hit me on my leg like this.....", he said, showing me how they hit him."That was the only time they hit me and I don't know why they did that. How can they make us eat egg when we are vegetarians amma?"

I was angry like any parent wold be. I was seething with anger inside. Anger at the total disrespect that had been shown to a child and his likes and dislikes and his way of wanting to be. I closed my eyes for a few moments; allowed that anger to be; but held my son close to me and kissing him, I managed to say "I understand how angry you must have been......you didn't like them forcing you....and you wondered why they hit you for something like that?" "Yes amma.....and they never gave me anything else to eat for snack that day, but they gave something to the other children who did not want egg..."

He then went on to narrate another incident. This was to do with writing. "I have one more thing to say about school........they used to make me write words which they called out, without telling me the spellings. How do they expect us to write without knowing the spellings of words first?"he said. When I asked him what kind of words they used to call out he said, "They were words like 'world', even big words like names of states or continents like 'Rajasthan', 'South America' and all." Then he laughed and said, "....and sometimes I would not even hear it properly....I would hear 'world'as 'word'....I could never write those words because I could never remember the spellings!....sometimes they used to keep a timer for two minutes and say that we had to finish writing those words by then. How was it possible?" "They have to teach us spellings first before making us write!"he retorted. "So how did you feel then Raghav?", I asked. "I felt that I would never be able to do anything with words.....that I will never be able to remember spellings", he replied softly. I held him close and said: "Do you still feel that way now?" "No amma! Now I know so many spellings - like all the names of chess coins; I can remember them.....even for big words....but not all words."

"Is there anything else pappa?" I asked. "Yes amma.....few more things....the first thing is that sometimes they used to keep me from playing outside because of writing work.....like if I did not finish writing something....even if it was already time for outdoor play, they would not let me go. All the other aunties except one aunty would get angry and say no. Only one aunty was nice to me. She would say ok...but the others would not agree. She also used to help me with spellings, but the others would tell her not to. I did not understand why." "Yeah......it was confusing for you because one person said ok or yes and the others said no? right? " "Yes amma.....I was confused.....also once I had to go to the bathroom very urgently, and this aunty said ok; but all the others said I could not go.....I had to wait for one hour to go to the bathroom.....it was very difficult for me to handle that......" he said.

What do I do as a mother? Tell my son what an unfair word this is? Allow him to wallow in sympathy for being treated this way? Allow the anger to burn inside of me leaving deeper wounds that may never heal? Proclaim to the world what kind of a school that is? Two years ago, maybe I would have done that or all of that. Not any more.

Today I know a little better how to heal myself and my son. We heal ourselves by first identifying and naming the emotion we feel and verbalising it or talking about it to someone. Most often that itself is healing. Once we verbalise or reflect it, there is a letting go that happens inside and it does not bother us any more. It is like the first aid for a wound. Time will heal the rest of the wound I hope.

Just when I was thinking that we were done with the past ......there was this churning that happened within tonight.......within him and within me. We relived those moments of despair all over again - TOGETHER. I think that is the key. Today, I am with him listening to him mindfully, which I perhaps did not do then, or perhaps he did not feel comfortable to talk about it to me then. But now, we are really together in everything that happens. There is no separation; there is connection. There is no tugging; there is a surrender. I guess that is how one heals oneself really - by connecting with one's own self deeply, surrendering to the emotions one feels, resolving all the unresolved conflicts that simmer deep inside one's being. When that churning happens, then one can be sure that in time something beautiful will rise from within and move without.

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