As Dr.Nupur Talwar and Dr.Rajesh Talwar walked free from Dasna jail last evening, this image emerged on my timeline, on the Internet and on TV.
It told me so many stories about Life…it showcased…
- How inscrutable Life really is
- The unfairness and injustice meted out to this couple, their daughter Aarushi and their help Hemraj
- How to stay strong, find strength in a storm and go through Life with reflection, resilience and resourcefulness
- How to serve selflessly, how to be useful no matter how grave the circumstances are – the dentist couple refused fees for dental care that they had provided to inmates of Dasna
- The unflinching support that Rajesh’s older brother Dinesh Talwar provided the couple – he was the mainstay of the entire defense strategy, the chief-of-staff as the family soldiered on
- The focus and perseverance of defense attorney Tanveer Ahmed Mir – without whose leadership, the Talwars’ case may not have been made in the Allahabad High Court
- The brutally honest story-telling of Avirook Sen in his Book Aarushi and of Vishal Bharadwaj and Meghna Gulzar in their film Talvar
- The stoicism of the Chitnis couple, Nupur’s parents, as the family went through these harrowing 9 years
- That, no matter what, the truth ultimately prevails…and justice is always done
- How small, and petty, our own challenges are when we look beyond ourselves and around us
- Why we must always be grateful for what we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have
- The learning we must all take away: whatever happens, face Life!
- The Gulzar-RD Burman-Kishore-da genius: Musafir Hoon Yaroon…Bas Chalte Jaana Hai…
In this Podcast, I share candidly about how disturbed I had been losing my favorite pen some years ago while, paradoxically, I am very calm dealing with our numbing bankruptcy now! Understanding that everything is transient has helped me stay anchored.
Listen time: 5:36 minutes
Only when we are clear about how – and if – we are relating to people can we be happy in our relationships.
On a show that I recently hosted, my guest talked candidly about how his father and he could not see eye to eye over Life choices that the guest had made. Subsequently the guest narrated how he was thrown out of his house by his father. It was a painful memory and the guest perhaps made it sound light by calling his father “dumb”. Some members in the audience clapped and many laughed. But a few of them reached out to me and said that they found the guest’s statements about his dad questionable. At least one of them pointed out that his open remarks, and the audience’s reaction, may send a signal to children watching the show that it was cool to criticize your parents in public.
As a show host I am all for socially responsible comments in public. So, yes, both the guest and I may have liked to qualify the guest’s remarks as intensely personal, adding that these sentiments are not to be generalized. But, I believe, I let it be because a. I could relate to what the guest was sharing and b. such qualification might have been redundant as the guest was only sharing his personal story, of what he had experienced.
And that brings me to the moot question – is it okay to share how you feel about your dysfunctional relationship with your parent in public?
Those who know me and who have read Fall Like A Rose Petal or have heard my Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk are aware of my dysfunctional relationship with my mother. In sharing my story I only tell people what – and how – I feel about my mother. I don’t quite see it as criticism, I see it as the truth. Trying to make sense of why we have this apparently abnormal, unique, relationship, where there is no chemistry between us, is a lived experience for me. It is not imaginary or aspirational. It is what I have lived through. It is an integral part of how my Life has shaped and evolved. I have chosen not to hide it. I am not baring it all in public forums to malign my mother. I am however sharing in relevant contexts only to tell people that such things happen in Life – that even in a close, blood, relationship, dysfunctionality can prevail. And that when you can’t resolve the issues between you and the other person, it is perfectly fine to maintain a distance. I can’t get along with anyone with whom my value systems don’t match. That one such person is my own mother is just incidental.
The problem with society is that it expects everyone and everything to be stereotypical. And in reality there are no stereotypes – each one’s story, and each one’s lived experience, is unique. No one can understand the pain of a child not being trusted by his parent – my pain! No one can understand – not even me – the pain of a child being asked to leave his home just because he had a secular outlook – my guest’s pain! Indeed, we may have similar journeys but the experiences we go through are unique. So, just because our movies generalize the mother as sacrosanct, I can’t force myself to relate to my mother. Or just because our tradition and culture say, “Matha Pitha Guru Deivam” – advocating that the parents occupy an exalted position, even ahead of the teacher and God – it need not be true that everyone on the planet either feels that way or relates to that line of thought.
Just as I have stated in my Book, and as I say here again, I have nothing against my mother. I respect her for giving birth to me, raising me and teaching me the alphabet. That’s a debt I may never be able to repay to her. Never. By sharing how I feel about her, I have never intended to belittle her. Also, there are so many areas where I disagree with her choices in her Life. But I never will comment on those. That’s her Life. I only have a right to choose what works – or refuse what doesn’t work – for me in the context of my relationship with her. And in that context, I consider my relationship with her a dysfunctional one. To be sure, this can happen in any relationship, to anyone. It is my experience and learning that only when we are clear about how – and if – we are relating to people can we be happy in our relationships.
So, my two penny worth perspective is this. It is never a great idea to criticize anybody, least of all your parents. But that shouldn’t stop you from sharing how you feel about people and your relationship with them, even if they are your parents. Being socially responsible is important, especially on public forums. But you have a big responsibility, primarily to yourself first – to be truthful about your Life. If that means sharing how you feel about – and in – a relationship, so be it. Saying it, and sharing it, as it is always acts as therapy; it heals and contributes greatly to your inner peace.
Perceptions can derail you only if you allow them to.
My friend called me from Canada the other day. He shared notes with me on “how perceptions of people around you can pin you down”. He said in the time when he lived in Kerala, and when he owed money to family and friends, he would always be ridiculed for being a mudhalaly, an estate owner, who “lived it up” while claiming to be insolvent. “Even if I wore a shirt that was well laundered and ironed, they would demand that if I had money to “buy a new shirt”, I must find ways to repay my loans. I found social sentiments crippling…they made me very fearful, I was even scared of my shadow. I am still haunted by all those remarks and how I felt back then,” he told me.
I can empathize with my friend’s experience. Given our situation, (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), Vaani and I are consistently prone to public perception, scrutiny and judgment. But we don’t fear perceptions. We respect them as sentiments of people that we are answerable to; we remain true to ourselves and these people. Even so, we have realized that if we live in fear of anything, or anyone, we will not live, we will merely exist. So we deal with perceptions as they come along – head on, in the face!
What we have learnt is that a perception is always the viewer’s, observer’s, seer’s view of reality. So, it is totally relative to the point of view that someone, who’s looking at a situation or person, is holding. In most cases, perception is not reality. When someone has a perception of you, if they are merely misinformed or misguided by their imagination, they will accept a clarification and change their point of view. Such people are intrinsically honest and worth clarifying to. Others are not just holding a perception of you, but are also judgmental. Such people are best left alone. If you must, clarify, but don’t expect any understanding from them. And then there is the third category – people who are totally unconnected to you, but who will pass judgment in social circles, social media and even write your epithet. Such people and their opinions are best ignored. So, you see, in any of these cases, there is no point in fearing perceptions. Clarify to the best of your ability, and if you fail to convince someone, don’t let that affect you. Just move on.
In any situation, particularly when you are answerable to people circumstantially or emotionally, remember that you cannot prove your integrity to anyone – unless they see it or realize it themselves. In fact, there is no point in trying to prove yourself. Those who trust you will not be led by perceptions of you. And those who don’t trust you – or don’t want to trust you – will not let go of their perceptions of you, no matter what evidence you bring up in your favor. This is the way Life is. No one is to be blamed here. And there’s no need to grieve and sweat over your inability to erase ill-informed perceptions of you. However, always ensure that none of what you do disregards the integrity of your relationship with the stakeholder you are answerable to or are responsible for.
Bottom-line: Perceptions can derail you only if you allow them to. The only person you need to be true to, in the whole world, is you. If you are that, then perceptions won’t matter; they won’t haunt you.