The Facebook effect

I looked around the tiny quaint chapel. It seemed like the perfect venue for the music school’s spring recital. The high ceiling with a beautiful glass painting ,the gigantic columns that arched gracefully, the dim lights , the magnificent altar and the grand piano that stood on the platform in front of the altar added a touch of surreal ambience to the recital. It was almost as if the music to be played by the students was to be an offering to the Gods.
I brimmed with excitement that was laced with a touch of pride and yet as a mother only could,also experienced the butterflies that flitted in my children’s tummy. They were to perform a duet – an exquisite composition called ‘River flows in you’. Oh….how I loved that melodious piece . I eagerly looked forward to their performance even though the practice sessions at home had almost always ended in a quarrel. Maybe it was the aura of the chapel that had restored my faith in the children’s capabilities.
I quickly updated the status on my phone…” At Carmel Church waiting for my talented kids to perform.”
I switched the iphone to the vibrate mode and looked through its camera to make sure we could get a good angle and a clear view. After all ,I would have to post a video of the performance on Facebook for all my dear ones to see.
I was glad we had arrived a few minutes early. At least we had the time to choose our seats and soak in the serene atmosphere. I voiced my opinion on the excellent choice of venue to my husband. He mumbled in agreement while he keenly looked into his phone to check the latest scores of the Augusta National tournament. He was a little miffed that I had chosen to leave home just as Tiger Woods was teeing off. If only he paid as much attention to me as he did to TW’s swing- I thought and sighed. ” A birdie!” he quipped with a grin. I shook my head. ‘ Some things never change’ I thought And went back to looking at my phone and checked the time. I had two minutes more until the recital so clicked on the FB icon.15 notifications and 7 updates? Already ? My status update had already received 12 likes and 3 comments from around the world. Ooh, I felt loved and popular . I proceeded to the home page to check the news feed.
The first feed -a friend who had changed her profile picture. I was amazed .’Wow!!! Did she look hot! How could a mom of three young kids possibly find the time and energy to work out and stay in shape?’ I felt lousy about myself .
The self pity was quickly overcome with hope when I saw the next feed. Guess Facebook was reading my mind. Another friend had shared a blog post,”How to get rid of stubborn belly fat in 10 days!” I would definitely have to read that when I got home.
Next post – 215 pictures of a friend vacationing in Bali. I was awestruck. Another vacation? The crystal blue waters and sandy beaches looked mesmerizing but I didn’t have the time to look through the entire album. Honestly,I was a little envious too. In these financially trying times it was baffling that she could vacation at an exotic locale ever so often.
The next update….it was a post on the recent terror attacks accompanied by photographs of orphaned children .How could people hate and kill in the name of God? I felt utter disgust and rage for the perpetrators of terror and violence .
Next was a post on the recent plane crash- a deliberate attempt by the co- pilot? Sadness for the victims of these incidents filled my heart.
My husband nudged me gently to let me know the show had begun. I switched back to the video mode to record my kids perform and quickly realized that I no longer was brimming with excitement. Too many flitting emotions had made their way through my mind and heart in a matter of seconds. I mechanically turned on the red button and watched through the lens all the time making sure I was getting the best angle. It didn’t seem too clear. Maybe zooming in would help. I was still adjusting the zoom feature when the smartphone informed me that the storage capacity was exhausted. I was exasperated! I glanced at my husband and saw that he had put away his phone to listen intently with his eyes closed. Rather than prod him to start recording I chose to put away my phone too. And that’s when I experienced it….a soul stirring . The same feeling I got when I heard church bells ring.Up until now I had watched the performance from behind the lens for the benefit of my Facebook audience and it had diluted the experience.It was only when I put the phone away that I engaged my senses fully to immerse deeply into the experience. My daughter’s deft fingers caressing the piano ,my son’s intense expression as he held the bow, their notes reverberating through the chapel sounded heavenly ..all in all truly a memorable moving experience that was captured only by my heart not a gadget . How apt that they had chosen to play ‘River flows in you’ because that day the it truly did.

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Blizzard of change

She looked up from the computer screen and outside the window. The sun shone brightly magnifying each snowflake into a dazzling diamond as it fell and disappeared into the blanket of whiteness that extended beyond the horizon as far as her eyes could see.Silently, she thanked the blizzard for having brought life to a complete halt in her city. She looked around at her family . Oh…how she loved them! At least they were safe at home with each other and not outside in the big, bad world. Even this sense of pseudo-togetherness of the physically present, mentally absent family members, each on their respective gadget, brought calm to her heart. Normally she would have tried heartily to convince them to put down their electronic devices and play uno or monopoly. Today she just let them be. Her mind and heart were still full of the gruesome images she had seen on her Facebook wall.
A BBC documentary on a horrific gang rape incident in New Delhi. The deep sadness she felt for the victim was quickly overcome by boiling rage for the educated lawyers who with great nonchalance spoke in defense of the barbaric, savage rapists. Ironically, gang rape was a common occurrence in a country where masses worshipped the feminine form of the Divine energy with great fervor . Such blatant hypocrisy!!! These very men who bowed down their head in devotion to the Goddess stepped outside the sanctum of the temple only to look upon women as objects of pleasure? It was a deeply ingrained mental sickness that penetrated the society like thickly interspersed, gnarling fibrous roots. The tortured victim could well have been her sister,her friend, her daughter.She felt her body shudder at the thought . Her mind conjured up ways of punishing those disgusting lawyers.There was no limit to the extent of torture she could inflict on them, if only she could get her hands on those B*******. For once she was glad she had immigrated to the U.S. but she knew that here too domestic violence and abuse was rampant.

“Mom!” she heard an excited voice that brought her back to the present with a jolt. “Can I buy this top? It’s on sale! Just $30.” asked her daughter in a keen voice that filled the air with an attitude of ‘I have to have it’ persuasion, only a teen could display. She didn’t answer yet. She had drifted back to her thoughts. How unfair was it to this child if her ability was judged solely on the basis that she was a woman or on the way she dressed . Her true beauty lay beneath. She had so much to offer the world as a person not just a woman.
Her mind quickly flitted to the other video she had seen. An aged man of color being brutally beaten by cops. His crime? Walking the streets of a city in the US and not knowing the language. How two cops with a formidable presence could feel threatened by a frail senior so as to resort to his brutal bashing for their defense was beyond logical reasoning. This senior could well have been her nature loving outdoorsy type Dad. She immediately felt a twinge of pain. These clashes between the upholders of justice and people of color were a regular media feature now. How could this happen in a country that had so wonderfully and easily assimilated the richness of other cultures, languages and cuisines. The words Om, Namaste,  yoga, curry didn’t seem foreign to this land anymore. She looked around the room at her family and saw different shades of brown. Brown….the colour of mud, of Mother Earth. Beyond the brownness they were just like every other soul on earth. In a country where people spent hours in a tanning salon or sunbathing to acquire a tan, how could there exist a few who were prejudiced when they met people of actual color?
What was the world coming to she thought as fear gripped her gut. She hoped Mother Nature would continue to be harsh so that the cocoon of safety she had built inside their home would continue to exist. But wait a minute,”This is no way to live- constantly in fear?” her heart said. At that minute her son looked at her with his big,brown eyes and smiled contentedly at having won another Mario game. That’s when it struck her. The solution to the widespread prejudice and inequality in the world lay in the way our children were raised.She had to teach her children to treat all the people in their life with dignity irrespective of caste, race, sex and sexual orientation. How powerful would it be if all mothers pushed kindness and compassion before Math, baseball, music, dance or language arts!! If mothers taught their young sons early on to treat ladies with the respect they deserved. After all it was a choice a woman made everyday to nourish and nurture the people she loved. She was not born to serve! At least we could look forward to a spectacular future devoid of some of the evils that plagued our current society.
Outside the storm waned. She smiled. She was now ready to let her loved ones go. She would equip them well. There was hope for the future and it lay in her hands…..

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I am a SAHM..

I have been a stay at home Mom (SAHM) for 16 years now and of late had begun to question myself as to whether my being around the house had benefitted my children.On a recent trip to the bookstore while driving back 2 happy kids I proceeded with great naivety to pose my dilema to them. Did they think my being a SAHM had greatly enriched their childhood.? My preteen, always politically correc, son immediately quipped ” Absolutely mom” . Exactly the words my sagging ego needed to hear. I grinned and with bated breath waited for my teen to respond. She chose to look away. Being of the fairer sex herself she knew that I rarely asked for other people’s true opinions with the intention of knowing what they had to say. More often than not I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear. She knew if she erred in choosing her words the woman in the driver’s seat was certainly not divine enough to forgive and that error on her part would probably lead to the commencement of a long well rehearsed speech that began with “Really? after all the things I have done for you……”
Piercing silence ensued . At that minute it seemed as if the purpose of my whole life hinged on her response. While she played the waiting game I heard my bff, my inner voice, say “Look for the answer within . The child never asked you to be a stay at home mom. It was your heartfelt decision. ” Sharp ,crisp images flashed by in my mind. Moments I had spent with them,just being there ,watching them grow. Their first words,their first steps and our wonderful soaring journeys to the land of imagination every time we read the magical world of Winnie the Pooh or Thomas the tank engine. Memories so fresh they filled my heart with joy. It then dawned on me. I didn’t give up my career for them…I did it for me. Each moment that I had spent to play ball with them,read to them ,mould clay with them , craft with them or just swing in the park with them had taught me to look at the world with a new perspective which was pure,untainted and divine. I first had a taste of the boundless joy of being in the moment with my daughter . While everyone around was in the throes of fear post 9/11 ,my daughter sang about a world where all the raindrops were gumdrops and lemon drops. That immediately lifted my spirit .( Never before had I felt so much gratitude to a purple dinosaur for teaching her that song ). With twinkling eyes,boundless energy and a passion for curiosity my children taught me to romance life. They lived in a bubble and I chose to share that space with them .A space that taught me the all encompassing truth that life is now. I had the opportunity to learn what truly matters not once but twice. How blessed was I ! No job in the world could feed my soul the way they did. Why else would every cell in my body tingle with happiness in response to those memories when in my aging mind moments spent last week posing for a selfie seemed blurry?
My daughter’s silence told me that the kids bubbles had now shrunk. It was time for me to create my own bubble filled with my dreams and my passions. I still didn’t have an answer to whether I had greatly enriched my children’s lives but it didn’t matter because what I knew now with certainty was that my beautiful children had definitely helped raise a better adult.

– Vidya.

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