Rongali

Fresh starts. Thanks to the calendar, they happen every year. Just set your watch to January and you have the chance to put the problems of last year to bed. But who gets to determine when the old ends, and the new begins? It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, and certainly not a new year. It’s an event. Big or small. Something that changes us. Ideally, it gives us hope. A new way of living and looking at the world. Letting go of old habits, old memories. What’s important is that we should never stop believing we can have a new beginning. And that amid all the pain and hardships there are a few things really worth holding on to. With a message this strong and alive came ” Rongali.”

It was year 2004. I was a participant at the Mrs.India World pageant. Our first encounter with the esteemed judges and we were asked to introduce ourselves individually. My introduction was followed by astonishing reactions, hushed voices, empathised attitudes. It was not hard to understand that my fellow participants as well as the judges had limited knowledge of my state. What was more upsetting was the fact that whatever limited knowledge they had were all dark and negative. My land was known for all the otherwise reasons. That was 2004. And nothing much has changed.

Which is why we need events like ” Rongali ” that projects our state on the national and global arena as a colorful and beautiful place with happy communities who know how to live life, who despite a bitter past and all the bloodshed has chosen to embrace hope. We are communities who dare to dream. Our sun has been dotted out by clouds of toxic dust innumerable times. But despite the long history of sporadic violence, we have always picked ourselves up by our bootstraps and marched off to work because we as a community know and believe that there are a few things really worth believing in. Because at some point, we all have to choose. Do we fall back on what we know? Or, do we step forward, to something new? It’s hard not to be haunted by our past. Our history is what shapes us, what guides us. Our history resurfaces. Time, after time, after time. So we have to remember that sometimes, the most important history, is the history we’re making today. And this is the underlying current of Rongali, hailed as the biggest festival of Assam. It ushers a letting go of old habits, old memories. It marks the dawn of positivity, togetherness, prosperity and brotherhood.

Rongali’s message is loud and clear. Eventually at some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy. That’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here’s what I know: If you’re willing to take the chance, the view from the other side is spectacular.  We are simple, happy people. Come to our region. We welcome you with open arms.

I am a daughter of my soil and i am filled with so much gratitude for my land here and now, for recognizing what I have for what it is. For appreciating my small victories. For admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we’re all thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing… is reason enough to celebrate.

Finally, I’m not in favor of blind or false pride. That kind of disillusion is never useful. No one is perfect. Be critical of your motherland, just like you are of your parents. But if you find something that you admire, that you believe in and care about and feel strongly for, then be proud of it. Why not?

I am my son’s mother and we are growing up *together*

“You are going to need to practice a whole hell of a lot if you want to play the drums in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s ears.”

My reply pleased neither my son nor his dad. My friend felt I was being somewhat cruel. Well, i’m not advocating cruelty here, I am simply helping my son step out of the Disney fantasy we all grew up with and were made to believe in as kids that we can be anything we want to be. I’m not sure who started this, but I’ve heard the message all my life that a wish is as good as it needs to be. Wish to be an astronaut and it will happen. Want to be a billionaire hard enough and the dollars must — must — eventually roll in. Well, it is all bullshit, isn’t it? I know people had good intentions and wanted to be encouraging, but this led to children getting ribbons for just showing up, and trophies for “participating,” even if they sucked at whatever game it was. I don’t think that’s such a good thing to do to a kid. I’m not advocating cruelty, but merely truth. I am not saying varied experiences should be withheld. But to enroll a child in a professional arts class because he doodled a particularly interesting shape in preschool is blasphemous. We are the sculptors of much of our own destiny, taking the raw clay of us and scraping away things that don’t belong, and shaping the rest into the true realized self. It takes a lifetime. It’s frustrating for the young, but this is something that just takes time. A lifetime.

“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

baba blog

A friend messaged yesterday that her daughter would soon be joining advanced music classes and she has been told that she is already lagging by six months – something about cognitive enhancement. Another friend of my sonny I know has his feet in as many different boats as possible in the name of ‘channelizing energies.’ All this unnerves me. I sometimes stand back and question myself. Am I an adequate parent? Over the years, fair share of parenting has been done – my son went for yoga classes, a cricket academy, numerous reading sessions and drum lessons. But is there a defined parenting path? Have I ensured optimal levels of cognitive functioning? Have I charted his trajectories? No. I do not have my own trajectory in order. So I absolutely cannot determine his life direction for him. I cannot and I should not. Is it fair to screw blinkers on to him, wind him up, and set him on a narrow fenced path?

baba n me blog

I completely agree with the fact that as parents, children are our responsibility. But being responsible doesn’t mean taking every decision for them, it doesn’t mean making choices for them, and it definitely does not mean conjuring dreams on their behalf. Being responsible means helping them arrive at decisions, letting them know we will stand by their choices and, respect their dreams. Being responsible definitely means accepting their mistakes, and helping them derive their own lessons from them. If as a parent, I am able to teach him how to deal with successes and failures, and how to be persistent while following his dreams – I’d label myself as responsible. The successes and dreams will be his to make, not mine to decide.

me n baba blog

“The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don’t create the new life, they only bear it. This is why birth is such a humbling experience. The new mom weeps in awe at the little miracle in her arms. She knows it came out of her but not from her, through her but not of her.” 

Steven PressfieldThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

This is Arunima, a mother who is growing up along with her son, knowing, learning, making mistakes, rectifying them, searching the path….to happiness!