She’s NOT your little princess !

As adults and parents we’re constantly influencing children around us in ways that we understand and also in ways that we don’t . However , we do know for a fact  that children pick up the small cues and messages based on what we say and do which eventually lead them to form their opinions and values .  At a time like this, when children have immense exposure to the myriad forms of media and advertising,  many of which express views and beliefs contrary to what we might our children to believe , I have a huge issue when parents themselves refer to their daughters as “my little princess”.

Words do matter. In a sense it would be fair to say that I don’t have an issue with the term itself as much as I have with what it represents in popular literature and media . Princesses are supposed  to be pretty, dainty, delicate , prim and proper and of course their only mission in life is to wait for and eventually marry their prince charming while silently putting up with (never arguing or quarreling , remember they are princesses!) evil women around them.

The women that I have known closely in personal life warrant adjectives like intelligent , sensitive , resilient , ambitious , achieving ,courageous, multi -faceted and immensely talented. None of these are qualities that are remotely associated with the image of a princess and yet , don’t we really want our children , daughters included to have these qualities ?

Popular literature has not kept up with the way women’s roles in society have changed and this duality is what leads to a number of issues in the lives of young girls while growing up . They might be intelligent, talented and sensitive , but still believe they ought to look a certain way, behave a certain way because they’re women . There is a reason body image issues are so common in young girls today . We need to make our children and daughters in particular comfortable in their own skin and not hold them to ridiculous standards set by a patriarchal society .

This of course doesn’t mean that girls should not be allowed to dress up as princesses but when most girls a certain age want to dress up as one , doesn’t it tell us something about the way we are bringing them up ? Let us tell them stories of brave , sensitive , intelligent women- women they are likely to encounter in their daily lives . Let us tell them that these qualities matter more than being thin , fair , pretty and dainty. And yes , please let us not call them princesses. They are a lot more than that!

Continue reading “She’s NOT your little princess !”

She’s NOT your little princess !

Economics, Social Work and Some Regrets

I LOVE Economics! I always have, since the time I was first introduced to it  as a structured subject in grade XI. I can watch debates on development and international economics for hours on end and as a student, used to read some books on the subject almost as if they were bed-time stories. Now, there are things that you love, and things that you are good at, and they may not necessarily coincide with each other. I have those too- I love to cook, but I am not really a good cook. Economics, however, was different. I like to believe I was good at the subject. Then, I went on to do a Masters in Social Work. Feels strange, even to me. This is what constitutes the regret part of this post. First things first, why did I do a masters in social work? The truth is, I had always dreamt of doing my masters in economics from a really good university, like the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) or Delhi School of Economics (DSE). I soon realized that the entrance exam for admission to these universities required a fairly good knowledge of mathematical economics- a subject I was neither fond of, nor was taught at my university in Baroda. So, I just gave up! Never even tried. Just broke up with my favourite subject of all time and instead decided to do  masters in social work.

Much of what I am today- the way I look at a problem, analyse it, judge it even, I owe to my training in social work. The one single thing that I have taken from my 2 year training in social work is the orientation, the lens through which I look at something. It has added many layers and dimensions to my personality and has made me a more evolved individual. It taught me about serious and important issues like gender and caste, issues that economics never touched.  I realized that economics was very different from other social sciences primarily because it never talked about many social realities, realities which of course, gravely affected the way economics functioned in a society. Nowhere in my economics course work did we analyse or understand how economic theories panned out in practice. To that extent, social work has in a sense completed the picture for me because I now look at economic theory from a point of view of social work practice and in my own head, it has helped me see things more clearly. However, the regret of not having studies economics stays.

I have since some time now also realized something else about social work, especially with respect to myself. As I mentioned earlier,two of the most important things that I have taken from it are the orientation- the way I look at and analyse a situation and the social realities we used to discuss in class. I now believe that this orientation and facts bout our social realities should not be taught to only students of social work, but to every single child, in every school. Every child will develop his/her own orientation eventually, but social realities that affect us in the different roles we play should definitely be a part of mainstream education. Why do we not talk about gender, caste, class in schools? I firmly believe that if I were made aware of these issues right from my school days, the way I absorbed and understood economics would have been different, even better. This is not to say that social work will or should be rendered redundant, but definitely, there is no reason why theory and practice should remain mutually exclusive. Till then, all I can say is, “Economics, thou shalt be conquered in another birth!”

Economics, Social Work and Some Regrets

Simple is good!

I have fortunately or unfortunately been educated at an institution where deep analysis and investigation of problems, especially social ones was not just encouraged, also applauded. What has happened in my case as a result of this is that a lot of times, in an attempt to actually be objective about situations, I end up making them complicated, sometimes where it is completely unnecessary. Now that I am a mother, I often think as to how I would explain certain things to Rishi when he asks about them by not making them complicated, but also not promoting any bias. The incident I am about to narrate made me realise that at times, simple answers can be so hard to come by!

About 8 months back, Rishi and I needed to apply for our passports. As we were waiting in the queue for the passport office in Bangalore to open on a cold morning, we were greeted by a family of 5 (husband, wife and 3 children) who were in the queue just before us. The children took a fancy to Rishi and got busy playing with him. There was a group of men standing at a little distance from us, all wearing a skull cap and beard. The seven year old daughter of our new acquaintance asked her mom “Mom! Why are those men wearing those caps and have a beard”? I started to think how I would have answered that question in my head without making a reference to religion so as not make my child biased in any way, when her mother replied “Because they like it”! “But why”, pressed the girl. My head made another futile attempt at coming up with an answer, when the mother replied “Why are you wearing a purple frock? Did anyone come and ask you why? No. Its because you like it. So, they like to wear the cap and have a beard. It is their choice!”

I thought to myself, that was such a simple and beautiful answer! I really don’t know if an inference to religion should have been made to a child of seven, because then the questions would have been about why we don’t have it in our religion and they do. I am sure many mothers would have been capable of fielding and answering those questions too, but I thought, for now, this simple answer worked for the seven year old and worked for me as well.

Simple is good!

Its Just Different!!!

As I entered my newly assigned office transportation (my previous company made office transportation available to all of its employees throughout Bangalore), I was greeted by a colleague of mine I only knew by face. He introduced himself and in an effort to probably make me feel comfortable engaged in small talk about where I was from and things like that. Upon knowing that I am from Gujarat, he assumed that “food” must be a major problem for me in Bangalore. He volunteered to explain how it certainly was for him since he was from Delhi and was used to eating hot parathas for breakfast. He went all out at Bagaloreans first and South Indians later by saying they had no taste in food and how could one eat Idli-dosa for breakfast everyday! I ventured “but didn’t you just say you ate parathas everyday?” to which the response was, “ofcourse! But you can eat parathas everyday, not idli sambar!” Well, I said, too bad you re stuck in Bangalore then!

I have often struggled to make people understand that things, people, food, customs, cultures different from yours are just that- different. That is not reason enough to ridicule them. I have often encountered people who tell me on knowing that I am a Gujarati-Oh! you people put sweet in all your food!” When I say, “umm………..not true”, they claim to know otherwise. I just tell them that since they anyway think they know more about Gujarati food than me, the discussion is really unwarranted. I come across such generalizations everyday and from almost everyone. To state that a particular community have certain ways is one thing, but to turn your nose up at them is quite another story.

As a society, we lack the maturity to comprehend that people, cultures, food differ from region to region and respect that difference. A lot of practices pertaining to a particular region are also governed to a large extent by the climate, primary crops grown, availability of certain raw material etc. There is a reason why coconut, rice, fish are some of the food staples of the coastal region and corn a staple of areas of Rajasthan. It would look enormously stupid for someone to say “I dont know why Malayalis add coconut to everything that eat!” This means that probably the bowl of Payasam served to you  at a Malayali friend’s place might taste a little different from what you are used to eating. Does that make it bad? Nope-Just different.

Its Just Different!!!

Hospitality- A burdensome virtue

‘A few days back, my husband and I were discussing how India and Indians in general are considered to be extremely hospitable hosts. I am also a Gujarati, a community which probably tops the list of those considered hospitable amongst Indians. As we discussed more, we realized that in fact, many of the eastern cultures were known for being hospitable hosts, for instance, Japan and China. In India, we are infact brought up on the adage “Atithi Devo Bhava”, which means that a guest is akin to God and should be treated so. This discussion got me thinking and I realised that in my experience, the responsibility of ensuring that guests were well treated rested largely on the shoulders of the women. After all, making scrumptious meals for the guests, ensuring their comfort at home were chores that primarily lay within a woman’s realm in the days of yore. India is a society in transition as fr as the status of women, but I can say with confidence that even as far as fifteen years back, the duty of ensuring that guests were treated hospitably lay with the women of the household. Rural India is not very different even today.

I remember a friend of mine who had spent a few years in Japan had commented on the role and status of women in the Japanese society as well and had mentioned how women still have a long way to go in terms of being considered equals and enjoying the same respect as men. What we consider and appreciate as hospitality in a society seems like a system which reinforces women’s roles as homemakers and binds them to the home and kitchen while men make merry. I do not undermine the possibility of choice and the fact that some women might genuinely enjoy that role, but to expect every woman to do so unfair, a sentiment that is echoed by my mother-in-law. I remember my mother-in-law being particularly disinterested and unexcited about celebrating Vishu (The Kerala New Year) when Shrikant and I had visited them first, after our wedding. She said festivals like these meant so much extra work for women as they had to entertain guests who would come home to wish them for the New Year, while the men just sat and made merry. It is almost as if women are not allowed to enjoy festivals because they need to think of how can can best serve guests who will visit them.

The other side of this story also proves my point. When guests call on a family, the women amongst them are expected and required to help the host family with cooking and other chores. So, if you are a woman, you dont get a break even when you supposedly vacation! Elders are known to mourn the death of traditional customs, rituals and practices in India and I have heard many of them comment on hospitality has suffered a big blow because you can no longer on your relatives like you could in the good old days. I am really happy that this is the case. With more and more women joining the work force, (atleast in urban areas) it is indeed difficult for couples to host people like before, and if they do, the men need to chip in with their nit as well.

The slow death of hospitality is not something to be mourned! It is a great opportunity-for women to truly enjoy things they could not in the past, and for men to do their bit as well!

Hospitality- A burdensome virtue

THANKS!!!

Who are the people we think about most often? Which incidents and experiences flash across our minds and eyes every so often? What are those things that make life worth living? I am not sure I know the answers to these questions, but I do know that my life has been beautifully painted with the love, warmth and friendship of a number of people, and, I feel that a few days before my first wedding anniversary is the perfect time to remember them, thank them and God for having brought them in my life.

MAA and PAPPA– Easily the best parents in the whole wide world. Apart from owing my life to them, I believe I owe my existence to them. The two words might seem synonymous, but my existence for me is the sum total of my experiences, values and beliefs. They are what differentiates me from others -what makes me, me. Maa and pappa havent just taught things- they have always led by example. The greatest comfort and assurance for a daughter is the fact that no matter what happens, she will always have her parents for her, and I am very proud to say I have that assurance. Cheers to the best parents ever!

GUDDI- Only sisters can appreciate and understand the bond they share. For quite some time, I regretted not having an elder brother. I was really sick and tired of being the elder one and showing understanding toward my younger sister. However, as we grew up, I realised how lucky I was to have a sister, and that too someone like her. We still have our share of fights and take turns at putting each other in a spot, but I do know that I really cannot have a better friend than her. For all her wisdom, patience, love and care, this is a great time to say thanks!

SHRIKANT- Well, he’s someone who really knows what it is to be there for someone, what it is to be a friend. Now a year into my marriage, I can safely say that this has been the most eventful year of my life. I have discovered more things about him which I love and have also discovered a few I HATE! However, I have also realised I love being married to him. For all the tomfoolery he does all day, he’s brought a quiet maturity to me. I have seen a new way of seeing things with him. We don’t always agree, in fact we mostly never agree, but DAMN! he’s right on most occasions and I hate to admit that. I have seen how forgiving and giving he is. He has always dug into the food I make with gusto and has braved my culinary experiments with a smile on his face and a pat on my back. He has always made me feel a part of his family and has eased me into his family with such dexterity that I now have not one, but two families. In this last year, I have only loved him more for what he is and hope it will always be this way. Thanks buddy!

DILOO- I don’t know if she’s an elder sister or best friend. She’s both, actually. My best friend and soul sister. The way we think, the number of times we have telepathy, the number of things that have happened to us together is just spooky! When I had first joined the organisation where we met (she was my boss), a lot of people told me that they found us to be similar in a lot of ways. We had the same sun sign, we were both left-handed, Gujaratis, who had graduated from the same institute and department! We, of course did not find anything common between us for a long time, till we became friends. I thought she was cold and “khadoos” and she thought I talked too much :). Since becoming friends, we have been almost inseparable. The amount of trouble and planning we have undertaken to be with each other at the slightest opportunity is phenomenal. I don’t think I would go through that much for anyone else. She’s weird in her own way, but I love her to bits! In the 4 years that we have been friends, we never really had a serious fight until sometime last year and though it makes me laugh to think about it now, it brought us even closer, if that was possible. Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. She’s the best thing to have happened to my life in a long long time! So, thanks baby, for being my best friend and soul sister!

SHARAD BHAI– Outside of my family, if there is a person who means the most to me, it is undoubtedly Sharad bhai. His love for me and Guddi is evident in the fact that he always, happily, did EVERYTHING we asked him to without a frown on his face, even when we both were irritating little kids! Whether it was taking us out to eat ice-cream, or simply taking us out for a ride on his bike, or getting chocolates for us, or taking us for garba during Navratri-you just had to tell him and he would do it with a smile on his face. Although he moved to the US many years back, and I miss not having him around like before, he makes up for it in a number of ways.  When I had scored reasonably well in my 12th Board exams, Sharadbhai had not only called, but had also sent a huge packet of sweets with one of his friends who was coming down to India. It’s not so much about the sweets (though I love them), but about the fact that he genuinely cares. He never, ever forgets to call on birthdays! I can go on and on about him and still not be content. For now, it’ll suffice to say that he’s one of the most important people in my life and I cant thank him enough for all the love and affection he showers on us! Thanks Sharad bhai!

RADHIKA AND RAHUL DADA– Two of my closest friends! The three of us used to be part of the children’s gang of Kutir, who used to play together in the evenings everyday. Radhika always exuded calm and maturity and I loved her for that. The only good thing about changing schools in the XIth grade was that I met Radhika again! I hated the school, but loved the fact that we got to spend time with each other after a long long time. We have had some good times together. I remember going to her college in Anand and coming back in the crowded train. I remember the two years that I celebrated Rakhi with Radhika and Rahul Dada- I miss that now! Rahul Dada always remembers special days and never forgets to call. They are two of the nicest human beings I have known, and though Radhika and I do not communicate as much as I would like (given that she’s in the US and remains quite busy) she is one person for whom I am willing to do absolutely anything. Thanks Radhika and Rahul Dada for being so special!

PALLAVI, DADA, LISHA AND PRASHANT JI–  My guardians in Ahmedabad! I was the youngest staff member, and was pampered and spoiled by these wonderful people. Though I hated my work, the only reason I spent 9 months there was these people. And when we left, we left together- and HOW! 🙂 I badly miss the lunch sessions we had together. I even managed to lose a few pounds owing to Dada’s brilliant idea of having only salad for lunch. The fact that he also ate only salad was the reason I could stick to it for some time at least. I remember the times we had planned dinners at my place when my masi was out of town. The Navratri when all of us had done garba together, the times we had been buried in work till the wee hours of morning, the time we had all gone to watch the stupid film “Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya” and the picnic to Taranga Hills are still crystal clear in my memory. I had some great times with these people and they all mean a lot to me! So team members-Thank you!

SAPAN– Easily the most focused person I know, and of course my oldest friend (we have been friends since kindergarten). Old photographs of us at each other’s birthdays still evoke fond memories and some laughs as well. Sapan was my only friend in class till Nakul came along. My disorganization and mismanagement (ya, I was famous for that even in those days) ensured that I rarely had my own stationery to use and whenever short of something, Sapan always came to the rescue. I suppose I was not a much adored character in school, but irrespective of what anyone said about me, Sapan always remained my friend. Be it helping me with Mathematics, or rooting for me in various competitions, he has always stood by me like a true friend and continues to do so. Sapan’s parents and extended family have always treated me like a member of their own family. I have had some of the most amazing times with Sapan and his family and for being such a great friend, I thank him with all my heart.

NAKUL– He’s easily one of the most intelligent people I know. Very well read, well spoken and articulate. And he’s also one of my closest friends. Nakul and I used to hate each other till the IIIrd Standard. In Standard IV, he got transferred to my class and we eventually discovered that the other wasn’t so bad. Thus began a friendship that has lasted all these years. Nakul is not only brilliant, he is also a wonderful human being. He has a disarming honesty about him which is rare to find. Like Sapan, Nakul has been a true friend and someone I can depend on.  Thanks Nakul, for being a great friend!

ROHAN– I cant exactly remember how and when we became friends, but Rohan is a great guy and someone who genuinely cares about his friends. You can call him any time of the day or night and expect a patient hearing from him. He has done very well for himself in life and for all that he has achieved I am both, happy and proud. Thanks Rohan for being the genuinely caring friend you are!

SWATI– She’s the craziest friend I have and also the most adorable. I have absolutely loved my time at HDFS because of her. I don’t know how we hit it off, but it was instant and thankfully has lasted more than a year now. She has a whacky sense of humour and I can’t remember laughing like a maniac with any of my friends other than her. (with the exception of Shrikant). She is supremely caring about people who matter to her and can go to any lengths to ensure their safety. She’s also a bit of a hypochondriac like me, but who the hell cares! I love her forthrightness and her sense of right and wrong. She is also one of the very few people who readily accept their mistakes and aren’t in the least bit ashamed to do so. I don’t know how I would have survived my stint at HDFS if Swati was not there. Like I said, I love her craziness and that is what makes her so endearing to me. Thanks Swati- you are one of a kind! Love you!

SHRUTI– Shruti is someone who will force you to spot a silver lining even in a jet black cloud! No matter how bad the day or the situation, she has the ability to say something nice and lift your spirits. She’s very intelligent, extremely witty, and has an amazing vocabulary. She’s someone with whom you can discuss almost any issue under the sun. Be it films, books or politics, Shruti knows her stuff. We have had some great times together in college with all those quiz competitions and public speaking contests. Shruti is someone who always remembers to get you something, no matter how small. She is someone who always grabs an opportunity to gift things to friends! A wonderful human being and friend, thanks Shruti for everything!

SUJATA– Sujata and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, and ended up being great friends. She is one of the most patient people I know. I have hardly seen her lose her temper or say something bad about anybody. In fact I feel she’s patient to a fault. I remember how happy I was to see her at my wedding-considering she was tired of having traveled a lot prior to the wedding, I had not expected her to make it. But, she did, if only for a day. We have had a lot of fun going for those so-called morning walks and eating Dahi-puri on the rasta . Sujju- Thanks for being my friend!

SARAT BHAIYA– One of the coolest people I know. Stays calm and unruffled, no matter what. Whenever I have gone to meet him, I have always been gifted something-be it a box of sweets, a funky kurta or a beautiful mug. He was actually my first friend at work, and I almost bitched to him about Diloo (that was before Diloo and I became friends). He is honest, dedicated and a gem of a person. Thanks Sarat Bhaiya!

VICKY BHAI– Technically speaking, he is Shrikant’s cousin, but has been kind enough to adopt me as his younger sister. Given his training and professional background, (he is in the Indian Navy), he comes across as surprisingly unassuming, down-to-earth and calm. He was the only one in Shrikant’s family who knew about the two of us before anyone else. I know how happy Shrikant is in his company and how much he trusts him. Needless to say, I too feel the same way. It is honestly difficult to find someone as genuine as him. Shrikant and I always knew that whether anyone else supported us or not, Vivek would always do. Shrikant, Vicky bhai and I were always a team, and I used to eagerly wait for Vicky Bhai’s letters to me, which he would slip in with his letter to Shrikant. He’s a great guy and it has been a pleasure to see him be a part of our lives from the time Shrikant and I met, to our wedding, to now, and hopefully, always! Thanks Vicky Bhai!

ECHI–  Shrikant’s sister and my sister-in-law. Wait- there’s another way to describe her too. She’s the Buddha of our family, or, the only human being I know who comes close to being a Buddha! Devoid of any feelings of malice, envy, anger, ego or greed, it is actually difficult to believe that a person like her exists in this day and age. She’s also the coolest sister-in-law I have ever seen. She’s a fan of peppy music, loves to dance, doesn’t care how you look or dress, and will never have a negative thing to say about you. Can you imagine what a relief it is to have someone who will laugh at even the stupidest of jokes, someone who is broad-minded enough to discuss anything under the sun and someone who is completely accepting of you? Shrikant and I both adore her and honestly, we can only aspire to be like her. Thanks Echi, for being the Buddha!

AMMA AND ACHAN– Any newly married woman will have some amount of anxiety as to how she will get along with her parents- in- law. Thanks to amma and achan, any such anxiety that I may have had was quickly put to rest. They have always been accepting, yet non-interfering. I have never felt the pressure of being a typical daughter-in-law in their home. In that sense, they have never discriminated between me and Echi, which is why I respect them so much. Going to Kerala is something Shrikant and I always look forward to, even though every trip means losing money to Achan in the game of rummy!

KANDI VELIAMMA AND FAMILY– My most enjoyable times in Kerala have been spent with Kandi veliamma and her family. They are a truly boisterous lot and in that sense are closer to my personality. I love trying to communicate with Ushechi in my halting Malayalam and her halting Hindi. I love the fact that Mimmi, Unnu and Kukku are such adorable cousins. I just feel like an integral part of their family. They are an amazing bunch of people and they add a lot of zing to Shrikant’s side of the family. Thanks to all of you- I couldn’t have asked for anything more!

JAGAT MAMA, MENABEN, CHARUBEN, JI MAMI- My most favourite family members. Right from my childhood, I have seen how they have stood by each other in times of need. It is from them that I have realized what it means to be a family. I also know that they constitute a huge and important part of my mother’s life and have brought a lot of fun and happiness to her life. The times I have spent with them in Ahmedabad over the last few years have been truly memorable and I love them all!!

ATUL BHAI AND BHARGAV BHAI- My cousins with whom I bonded at the time of my wedding. Atul Bhai came in early and helped manage most of the things. He was there when anyone required anything! He came for the wedding all the way from Kolkata, with his son’s board exams less than a month away. He holds a very special place in my heart. I was 12 years old when I had attended Bhargav Bhai’s wedding and it was great that he could attend mine! My brothers made my wedding a success and for that I’ll always remain grateful! Thank you, Atul bhai and Bhargav Bhai.

As I wind up this post, I realize I must be God’s favourite child for Him to have embellished my life with such amazing people. Whenever I have felt low, beaten or sad,   thinking about these people has lifted my spirits and made me count my blessings. I can only hope that I will be able to bring a fraction of the love, light and warmth that you have given me to your lives too.

THANKS!!!

MYRA and COOCHIE!!

MYRA and COOCHIE!!

“Coochie! Where are you hiding!!” she squealed in a sing-song tune. Four-year-old Myra’s world revolved around her pet pup- Coochie. Weird name, one might think, but not so for Myra. The word “coochie” encompassed everything nice and lovable for Myra. She had picked up this word from her mother, who often referred to her as ‘cutie’, which, loosely translated in her childish lexicon became ‘coochie’. Her parents loved to see her struggle with the word in an attempt to pronounce it correctly and also experienced pride over her resilience and persistence to use it nonetheless. Coochie was Myra’s constant and only companion. Myra’s parents led the quintessential corporate life in Mumbai, and though they realized Myra needed someone closer to her age to play with, they could not spare the time and resources to have another child. When Myra took to Coochie like a fish takes to water, they were extremely happy and relieved.

Myra loved to play with Coochie in the small garden of their apartment in Mumbai. She and Coochie were escorted by her nanny, who, however, seemed more interested in gossiping about the other inmates of the apartment with the watchman and other “bais”. One day, when Coochie went to fetch the ball while playing with Myra, it was suddenly confronted by Mr. Mehra’s prodigious Doberman. When the Doberman let out a bark, Coochie ran out on the main street, shaking with fear and trepidation. Little did Coochie know that life on the streets in Mumbai was worse than confronting Mr. Mehra’s Doberman or any dog ten times your size for that matter! Myra became restless waiting for Coochie and started wailing. Her nanny immediately took her home and sent the watchman to hunt for Coochie. Myra’s parents were alarmed on seeing her cry. Her huge eyes were filled with tears and she was inconsolable. She had, after all, lost the only companion she had! Myra’s parents promised her that they would get Coochie back for her. In the mean time, to distract her, they advised her to have an honest conversation with God request Him to help her find Coochie. They told her that if she prayed with all her heart and soul, God would never disappoint her.

Coochie did not realize that the outside world would be so treacherous. It had to perform antics and daredevil stunts in order to survive. Dodge cars, hide from other sinister and seasoned street dogs, ignore the stench of garbage and escape children wanting to pelt it with stones! Coochie started missing Myra and her warmth and unconditional love. Utterly dejected and disappointed, it hid behind a small bush when two hands gently lifted him and muttered sweet nothings after what seemed to it like eternity. Mrs. Shah stayed in the same locality as Myra and often met her mother during morning walks, when she was accompanied by Coochie. She promptly called up Myra’s mother to inform her that Coochie was with her and was safe and sound. Myra’s mother heaved a sigh of relief and it was decided that Myra and her father would go and get Coochie back home.

Myra was ecstatic on seeing Coochie as it was on meeting Myra! She cuddled it forever. Her happiness knew no bounds on being re-united with her best friend! Her small and unadulterated heart blessed Mrs. Shah. As Myra was returning home perched on her father’s shoulders with Coochie in her small hands, she saw the huge effigy of Ravana being burnt and people singing praises of Lord Ram. When she asked her father about it, he explained to her that it was the festival of Dassehra being celebrated, which marked the triumph of ‘Good’ over ‘Evil’. Myra realized the significance of what her father told her and could visualize all things evil that Coochie must have faced before finally settling down in her cozy lap once again. She learnt the most important lesson of her life that day, which was to stay with her forever- “God listens!!! Prayers are powerful!! And no matter how cynical anyone might be, the good always triumphs”!! With this, she thanked God for having heard her and gave a loud, resounding kiss to Coochie!

MYRA and COOCHIE!!