That’s the thing about old friends. Instinct becomes your first and only language when emotions stay shrouded behind cooled gestures.
There are layers anew to peel off, bespoke of tense energy. But unexpectedly, a collision opens a floodgate of unspoken sentiments that simmer for an instant. Time goes back and in your heart you know that there can never be a second round. But you imagine a once over, desperate to pick out an alternative where barriers don’t need to be broken down, where your laugh is louder than the wind and the music isn’t a sanctum of restrained emotion.
But time doesn’t stop and the last vestiges of the sparks remain in the pointed scrawls lurking in the latent mind and the splinters of memories tinged with sepia.
For the longest time, I held unwavering perceptions of people. They were bound within the confines of the labels anointed – Mom, Dad, Teacher, Elder Sister, or just plain “Adult”. In my head, the parents could do no wrong; they were secure and unblemished on their pedestal where I had placed them. Similar expectations were laid on the other adults in my life. The formula was simple: Adults have the answers. Adults are the solutions.
The term human never really applied to them, until it applied to me. Until there was a world beyond black and white. Until there was a tricky middle ground of subjectivity at the edge of which I was precariously balanced. That is when I started to extend the liberty of making mistakes to myself and my peers. After all, it is probably the most natural thing in the world.
And finally, came a day when I extended the same courtesy to my parents (and the other adults, but obviously the key are my parents). I took them off the pedestal and gave them the freedom to be, and in the process took a weight off my shoulders of trying to view the world as per the lenses I believed I was expected to see.
In that moment, I looked at the person beyond the label and tried to catch a glimpse of their journey and their pains, of their unfulfilled dreams and their doubts. It taught me to forgive, for all the times I felt they should have done something different with me. It also taught me the meaning of unconditional love, of taking in the load of good along with the pinch of “bad”.
The view up from the ground was assuring to say the least, but now at eye level where I have allowed blemishes to touch them, the perspective is now pure and beautiful and familiar.
The last thing I want to do is wilt away in self-pity. It’s not exactly becoming of the kind of person I am, as hidden as it is under the layers of frustration and annoyance.
I took a digital break, and made a small visit to meet some friends. Three days of bliss … that too doggie bliss! My friends adopted a dog a few months back and that mutt brought a touch of happy reality after this really long haze. He made me laugh, he made love and he made me feel. Waking up to his kisses and demands for belly rub was therapy – a doggie therapy.
D has been a blessing throughout, putting up with my mood swings, and basically being a ticking bomb. He ensures there is a good supply of chocolate and feel-good movies, and smartly gets out of the way. He also cajoled me into embracing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now all I want in life is my very own Groot and Jarvis.
I read the comments on my earlier post and it moved me beyond words. To know that what I am feeling is completely normal and definitely not something to be ashamed of was heartening. What really touched me was the fact that all the support came absolutely without any judgements! It was pure and complete.
I am writing this, on my way to the year-end break. I wasn’t entirely sure it was going to happen given the circumstances but it is happening. While I don’t want to say I am running away from work, but yes… this is a conscious decision to initiate the detox. I want that noxious poison out – it’s been brewing for way too long and I don’t want to infect the people I love with it.
Thank you so much. I am definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
There has been a buzz inside my head, a silent disturbing noise that fades into the background but doesn’t quite let go of its hold on your mind.
I feel like I am spending my time in slow-motion, as the world passes by leaving a trail of scraps and lost bits of hope. I never really understood what it feels like to be in this. When some of my friends went through a really horrible phase, they put the words to their feelings but I could never understand. I always used to feel that just focus, gather the strength to take control of the situation and move forward.
And now, I realised how naive I was. How do you focus when the whole world is blurred? How do you gather strength when even getting up drains you of all motivation? How do you take control when there is nothing to take charge of!! There is no situation, there are no people, there is no direction.
The world is fine. It’s my head that’s in the limbo state. It’s just blank with the taunting noise serving as a sign of the existence of the negativity wrapped in my conscience. It’s been screaming, but even if someone listens, I don’t think I know what those words are.
I have been AWOL. I might be for some time more. It’s a mess.
I was recommended to detail about the work that was done during the dental camps I visited last month. I figured that by sharing, I can perhaps shed some light on a part of India that few people are aware of.
My mother, Dr Pratibha Athavale, has been conducting dental camps as a freelancer for seventeen years. This means there is no government, religious or politically driven body behind this. She ties up with different socio-voluntary organisations whose the only objective is “seva” or service. And that too in the part of the country mostly neglected. The states she has visited are mostly the seven sisters in the North-East India, home to hundreds of tribes and thousands of dialects, which are often limited since there is NO script.
Some of the tribes are relatively developed and have access (albeit broken) to power, network, education etc. On the other hand, some are still clad in loincloths and lead primitive lifestyles. The sanitation checks start from making them aware of the importance of washing their hands and mouths let alone brushing their teeth. This has led to her working with and for all sorts of people – and the takeaway is the same. We may be distinct in terms of culture and traditions but our core values are the same.
This year the camp was in Manipur covering three tribal villages and the camps were for three days in each. A little less than 1000 patients were treated in total – the treatments including scalings and extractions. Medication was provided and clinical advise was also given on a case by case basis. Needless to say, this was completely free of cost! It was amazing to see my mom in such a different light. She was super-woman! At 64, she was on her feet from 7 to 7 with cups of tea and light snacks as sustenance. She needed no fuel – she was operating on pure will and determination.
How does a dental camp work given the complexity of equipments? Well, over the years based on her experiences, Mom has put together a portable clinic complete with a dental chair, compressor, sterilizer and the other fancy stuff. A doctor by profession, she channeled her untapped engineering mind into assembling this.
A great team based in the different states ensures operational stability in the camps. These people have given up their families, their jobs and dedicated their lives completely for the upliftment of these tribes. While the impact at the ground level happens in oral health, another subtle yet powerful turn takes place in the minds of the people. There is a human connect happening with these tribes that has never happened before or has always been at a very base level. This medium starts a dialogue which can further progress into a potential road to bring them into mainstream society!
I was lucky to be a part of this movement for sometime and tried to make a small difference. After a long time, I came back with a sense of community! It’s a good feeling alright.
￼Do let me know if you have more questions or wish to support the different initiatives taking place for the North-East states.