Wednesday, 4 December 2019

ARE WE ON THE WAY TO ACCEPTING RAPES LIKE DOWRY-DEATHS?




ARE WE ON THE WAY TO ACCEPTING RAPES LIKE DOWRY-DEATHS?



After the Nirbhaya case on 16 December 2012, we have developed this habit of ranting on social media, holding noisy protests, organising candle marches and hearing our God-like celebrities expressing rage (a few tweets from the greater mortals are the testimonials that the incident was horrendous). Every time the news anchors report the incident, they pretend to be sombre and choose the best words from their vocabulary.
“The moral root of this nation has shaken once more” can attract more ears in comparison to “Another woman raped” which is as plain as a nose on someone’s face. Though this show of concern, mixed with anger starts with great determination and energy but it dies of natural death in a few days without achieving anything. The news of incidents of rapes with greater cruelty and fearlessness keep coming. The culprits of Nirbhaya case are still making merry at Tihar jail while taking a cue from them,  the potential rapists outside the jail have no fear of law. We, now, are a country where more than a hundred thousand rapes happen every year. The Hyderabad rape case is another slap on our shameless faces.
Have we grown habitual of rapes?
We are approaching a stage of acceptance of sexual crimes as we have accepted the dowry-deaths and honour-killing. We, Indians, are losers. We surrender easily. We cannot turn tides-we have never done that. Even in sports, we are infamous for losing from a winning position and not the vice-versa. I hear great-minds-with-meagre-education saying that these rape-cases are the consequences of women empowerment or the short dresses or the women keeping out till late. By saying this they confess that men of this country are beasts who on seeing a helpless woman lose their sanity. They completely ignore the fact that these sick perverts see even the infant-girls as opportunities.
The other day, I was discussing this issue with my young students. I asked how do you think we can stop rapes? “Girls should not be out after six,” one of the boys responded. “If a violent dog has biting-tendency, would you chain the dog or the people around?” I retorted. When he didn’t react, I asked again, “Won’t it work better if we don’t allow men to go out after six?” He smiled and nodded. A girl said that all girls should get self-defence training though she agreed that this too has limitations. However powerful and bold a girl maybe, she can’t overpower four or five men alone. “Girls should not tolerate slightest of nuisance and raise alarm at the very first inkling of someone misbehaving,” another boy came up. Finding a boy hesitant, I threw up a blunt question, “Do you think you can rape a girl?”
His response surprised everyone. “No, sir. It needs courage.” I knew he couldn’t choose the right words. “You mean to say every courageous man should rape? And, would you commit rape if you happen to grow courageous sometimes?” He shook his head voraciously, “My parents will kill me if I ever do such things.” That fear made me feel good. Every parent can instil that fear, if not values, in their sons when he is still young. They can tell their sons that they would not only disown them but would not spare them even if they manage to escape the law. We need to start from the beginning to teach them not to rape when we teach them not to lie, not to steal and not to quarrel.
I think it would be a good idea if teachers talk to their students especially boys starting with middle classes (just when puberty has hit or about to hit) asking their views on rapes. This can serve the dual purpose of sex education and making them understand the difference between ‘Sex with Integrity’ and ‘Sex with criminality’ elaborating the consequences at the same time.
We must think of the ways to make all men understand that rape cannot bring the pleasure they intend to seek like in sports, you will not enjoy if your opponent doesn’t play with the same zeal and spirit as yours. Sex is not the game that can be played and enjoyed without or against the consent of your partner. It is high time that we thrust into the minds of all men that they do not have a birthright to do sex whenever and with whomever they want. Sex is not a privilege and they need to earn it every time. There is no licence for sex other than the consent of their partner. We need more advertisements shouting and warning people against sexual assaults.
Women too, need to be cautious and vigilant. We can’t deny that they have a right to lead their lives in whatever way they want but taking small precautions can save them from the irrecoverable trauma called rape. While roaming in a forest, it is insane to take a beast for granted. They should not trust anyone when it comes to their body. I personally, have no issues with Public Display of Affection other than that it makes the two people involved vulnerable and also put others to risk. Rapists are psychologically ill and, in most cases, they are from a humble background. The tendency to rape is also a privilege-deficiency disorder. These already depressed people feel jealous when they see other men enjoying the proximity of women. They snatch what they can’t get.
I refuse to agree that rapists are sex-deprived or sex-obsessed people. They are sick with an untreatable mental disorder resulted from faulty upbringing. Rapists can’t be reformed. I have researched and found that they are repeat offenders. So, imprisonment is a waste of time and resources. It is like nurturing a threat on a false assumption of keeping it under scrutiny. Such notions soon make us repent when the offender commits another crime as soon as he gets an opportunity. To prevent rapes, we need the most stringent of laws.

Monday, 14 October 2019

BOOK REVIEW - SUMMER HOLIDAYS





BOOK REVIEW

                         SUMMER HOLIDAYS

                                  By KORAL DASGUPTA


“Some sentiments are personal. They are deep and impassioned. They expose the raw, unfabricated feelings of the heart so ruthlessly that it feels naked.”  (Page 223)

To a writer, a review is not just about praise or criticism. The unimagined and never thought of perceptions that reviews bring out, which sometimes, even the creator of the story hasn’t touched upon are more valuable to a writer.

While reading ‘SUMMER HOLIDAYS’ I was wondering how challenging it was to write this story. For me, it would have been too difficult to write such a story. I was gobsmacked, mesmerised and in awe of the authoress. In an era when everyone writes either a Romance or a Thriller, someone chooses to write about families, siblings, and relations. And, it’s not just a naive attempt but a masterpiece. I reckon this book will soon be in the curriculum for the students pursuing literature. This is the story that I would call ‘Real Fiction’.

I have great respect for the people who respect relations. Our relations are our strength. They are the people God wanted to be in our lives. Our relatives are the people who love us in spite of knowing all our shortcomings. Their unconditional love brightens up our lives. We may not hear from them for months even then, we live with the assurance that we can bank upon them in the hour of need. The belief that some people are just a call away and will come to our aid no matter what the circumstances are makes us face all challenges life throws at us. A rift, small disagreements, trivial arguments, random quarrels should not cut off the divine bond that binds us. Our lives will always suffer and feel the lack of cheerfulness if we shove them out of the sphere, they are naturally an inseparable part of.

This story has touched me, stirred my emotions, wetted my eyes many times and for a change, made me a slow reader- I sipped it rather than gulping that I normally do. This book is a ‘Research Material.’

“When you don’t water your plants, they die.” This, Major Dhillon says about relations.

Narrated in an uncomplicated third person, the story begins with a rift between parentless siblings- a brother and a sister, that distances them for years but another pair of siblings-their kids, eventually bring them together again.

The protagonist, Rishi is a real artist. The way he treats Meera stirred the brother in me. He is protective but wants her to transform the small-town-introvert-maiden in her into a confident woman who flaunts her goodness. How great it is that a brother tells his sister that ‘She makes heads turn’. The teasing remarks he passes to his sister takes you back to your childhood.

    “Someone seems to have made peace with tattoos.”

The manner, in which Koral Dasgupta describes the artwork, shows her artisanal skills. I could see the picture that Viyaan buys and the sketch of the boy sitting under the banyan tree in front of the tea-stall.
I love the way he warns Viyaan Iyer, his employer against flirting with his sister. And, the way he snubs the taxi driver when he Meera reaches Mumbai. And, how he sweetly he treats Shabnam. Girls, do read this book and you will fall in love with Rishi.

Meera impresses as a motherless girl and a daughter of a disciplined Army officer. I love her no-prejudice-demeanour towards his father. Daughters are always so accommodating and understanding. I admire the efforts she put in to understand her brother, Rishi.

Major General Anil Dhillon is a stereotype army officer, disciplined, egoist and suppressor of emotions. He impresses towards the end when he accepts the imposter Rahul Pandey as his daughter’s suitor although he disliked his habits. That’s what a father is.

Viyaan Iyer appears rude. Despite his magnanimous personality, I worried about Meera whenever she meets him.

Deepti Bua is all right though, I felt that the author could have shown her thinking about her brother and niece a few times.

What a man Sharat Bahl is! A brilliantly drawn character blessed to have inherited the author’s great sense of humour. A perfect English literature professor. I had instant respect for him when he says, “In a few days he will see his dreams come to life. He will be able to touch it. Can anyone be richer than that?”
And when he says to Meera, “Usually it’s my wife who stands there staring at that photograph. I had just started to rejoice that she had suddenly grown young. Tough luck.”

And, the wife, Deepti Bua refuses to hold back.

“You can trust English Professors to be desperate.”
The ever-enigmatic and infamous Husband-Wife equation has been realistically expressed.

“Just check whether there are chilli flakes in the tea”

“You do all kinds of strange things and I have to hear about it for months after……… Why should I face the music for someone else’s strange habits?”     (Page 133 is fantastic)

We wonder how strange things manage to find only us. This is the kind of story that will bring solace to our distress of being cursed. When an author writes about the things you thought happened to you only, a sense of relief embarks upon you that you are not alone.

There is philosophy even in the humour. The comparison that the author draws between a Physics lecturer wife and an English-literature-professor husband is thought-provoking- She looked older than her age while he looked the same.

Shiraz, a mere gardener, the non-participant and yet very much part of the story is the author’s most favourite. Why, she tells in the acknowledgements. Shiraz never does anything wrong. He is the only one, Rishi has no complaints about. Shiraz is an unflawed human being. He grows beautiful marigolds. He talks to them. Rishi is so smitten by Shiraz that he finds his daughter the most perfect girl.
Shiraz would turn everything into an enchanting story.
He composes folk songs. Everything beautiful nature has, manifests in his songs. A lover of mankind is always a lover of nature though it may not be the other way around. Shiraz dies of snakebite.

“The ugliness is an illusion…You have to see through it to reach the real beauty…” Shiraz says.

The vain comparison between Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar irks the cricket-fanatic in me.

“Work like you are having a blast with the bat (like Kohli), rather than worshipping the bat like Tendulkar.”

And, not forgetting Kunj Bihari ji, the mouthpiece of wisdom, I strongly feel, he exists somewhere if not at IIT Mumbai. He exists and the author has studied him closely for she has written this character with remarkable precision.

Page number 239 to 243, I read with tears in my eyes despite the author’s spirited efforts of balancing emotions with humour. Let me tell you Koral Dasgupta, your brilliance failed here.

SUMMER HOLIDAYS is the kind of book on which I can write a thesis. It’s a book I can read again and again.
But, I am weird. Ending this write-up without criticism will disturb my digestion. A question I asked the writer in me after I finished reading SUMMER HOLIDAYS, why do we writers bring in characters, use them to our advantage and then discard them. I felt sorry for Professor Shayan Banerjee. Why was he in the story? And, the little boy who sold incense sticks on the road, who meets Rishi, rides on his bike, imparts a piece of valuable advice and perishes. Just one appearance?

I maintain that the way someone writes shows the way he or she lives. Only a person who values his relations could have written such a fabulous story. SUMMER HOLIDAYS will always remain alive in my memory. Beautiful story it is!

Do read this if you love your siblings and value your relations.



Saturday, 21 September 2019

BOOK REVIEW-Till We Meet Again



BOOK REVIEW

                      Till We Meet Again

                                           -Shiabji Bose 



 
‘Ordinary people have extraordinary stories'- the blurb says. So true it is! 
The story is about the mundaneness of a lower-middle-class household. Their financial woes. The worries of the lone earning member to make children capable of battling the challenges that life poses and his lifelong sufferings to realise only two dreams- to erect a roof over head and to solemnise his daughter's marriage. His shoulders happily and selflessly carry the burden of all other lives. And, when he perishes suddenly, somebody has to take up his role. The quantum of responsibility remains the same irrespective of his capabilities. The bereaved family survives on the saving of the deceased father.  Constraints and worries are an inseparable part of such ordinary lives.

I maintain that the rich only know what life is but the poor understand what life is. The story equipped with the author's deep understanding of life subtly corroborates my belief. The intrinsic and detailed narration of the struggles of a family makes ‘Till We Meet Again' a good read.
'Till We Meet Again' (though I have inhibitions about the validity of the title for the story) is a promising attempt by the debutant author Shibaji Bose. 


Another thing about this story that kept me hooked to it is the protagonist choosing to become a hairstylist. I could relate to it as I have gone through the same. I am a mathematics teacher and when my son conveyed his desire to become a Cinematographer, I was in a fix. After a few sleepless nights, I weighed that my son's dreams are more important than the bizarre opinion of society. 

The narration is a bit unfathomable in the first few pages where extravagantly compound and complex sentences and needless rosy adjectives make reading tedious. The inexperience of the debutante might be the reason for it and the editor should have guided him. 
The letter addressed to the protagonist from the diseased father is the only astounding feature of the story in the first few pages.  The letter to which every father and every son can relate to earned the first applause for the author from the emotional reader in me. The writing improves gradually as the sentences become shorter. Writing a book is a journey and it was appeasing to see an author metamorphosing through his maiden voyage. 

I also felt some loopholes in characterisation. Aryan, the protagonist is ordinary in everything but is like a hermit. He is a dutiful son, a doting brother and a decent male who doesn't 'salivate' (borrowed from the author's diction) seeing women. I would have cherished some more humanly vices in him other than being an ordinary guy. 
Kavya impresses me as a character (not as a woman). Shibaji Bose has portrayed her as a worldly woman with believable traits. Although the revelation of her connivance against the protagonist came as a rude shock, I felt for her. Committing adultery by a wife to teach a lesson to her husband for hiding some wrong practice is indigestible but I accept it as the changing values and modernised institution of marriage. Surprisingly, the marriage survives after the wife's revenge. I had to console the reader in me when the story announced that the couple had united again because I had envisaged that the story would end with Aryan and Kavya tying knot. Alas! It doesn't happen. Uncertainty is one beautiful aspect of storytelling. Readers may not approve of the unthinkable turn the story takes but they always appreciate the author's extent of imagination to outthink them.

Be it Aryan's mother, or his sister- Rhea, be it Kavya, Reema or Priya, all the female characters in 'Till We Meet Again' are self-centred and ambitious. I felt a repressed disharmony and denigration in the author's portrayal of women. I am curious to know the reason for it. The author's rich vocabulary also impresses me.



Saturday, 7 September 2019

FOND MEMORIES OF MY SCHOOL TEACHERS





आओ बचपन सींचें - 6

चाहे कितने भी बड़े हो जाएँ, फिर भी हम सब हमेशा थोड़े-थोड़े बच्चे ही रहते हैं l नए कपड़े पहन कर बड़े भी इतराते हैं l जन्मदिन पर गिफ्ट पाकर बड़े भी खुश हो जाते हैं l 
जरूरी है बच्चा बने रहना और बच्चों से जुड़े रहना l  





FOND MEMORIES OF MY SCHOOL TEACHERS

A HUMBLE TRIBUTE


What could be a more appropriate subject for this week's post other than remembering the teachers who play an important but underrated role in our lives? 

My first thoughts were to write about the invaluable contribution of teachers in making us capable to face the challenges of life, however, I changed my mind for two reasons. 
First, all of us have written essays on 'My Favourite Teacher' or 'An Ideal Teacher' in schools that everything I would have written might sound cliched. Second, I am a teacher myself. My write-up to glorify teachers would sound like preaching or self-adoration. 
So, I chose to share memories of my teachers with you. 

My first school was St. John's Primary School at Barmer, Rajasthan. On the first day of school, my mother went to drop us (My Sister and I) to the school. Not ready to part with her, I went into hysterics and clasped her sari. When nobody could console me, Mr. Mathew came forward. He held my right hand as my mother's sari was in the tight grip of my left hand. There was a tug-of-war between Mr. Mathew and me. After putting up a spirited fight and creating quite a spectacle, I lost to Mr. Mathew. Overpowering me, the robust teacher with a bushy moustache and Rajesh Khanna like hairdo, signalled my mother to leave. His heart changed colours like a chameleon the moment my mother left. Giving me a tight slap, he sent me to my class. Another thing I remember about Mr. Mathew is his strange habit of pinching on the thighs of boys whenever they made a mistake. We wore knickers and his fingers bit our tender flesh like forceps. Though I have unpleasant memories of him but he made me sit in a classroom on the first day of my fifteen-year-long unforgettable and happening school life. 

Ms. Suman Kashyap was the headmistress at Happy Time Public School where I studied for grades one, two and three. Once seeing me crying, I don't remember why I was, Ms. Suman came to me and held me in her arms. When I didn't stop sobbing, she cuddled me like a mother. She was the same for every child. Soft-spoken, always smiling, cracking jokes and an ideal kindergarten teacher. Children loved to be in her company. She was everyone's favourite.
I was fond of her at that time but as I grew up, my fondness changed into reverence.



At National Victor Public School, Mr. Virender Singh taught me mathematics in grade four. My memories of him are significant to my making into a mathematics teacher.
After distributing the half-yearly exams answer-sheets to the whole class except me, he asked, "Who is Gaurav Sharma?"

Stunned by this undue summon, I timidly stood up. I knew I hadn't topped.
"You've got 17...passing marks. And, you can see I have given you undeserved marks here and there because I liked your name. (GAURAV used to be a rare name those days). In lieu of this favour, I want you to promise to do better next time."
I nodded like a robot but his words and gesture did motivate me. I managed to get fifty percent marks in mathematics which was a hurdle for me to be among the first three ranks in the class.
Virender Sir's words kept on haunting me and pushed me for improvement year after year. The progress, however, was gradual.

Pune was a new atmosphere. I was at Air Force School, Viman Nagar, Pune for classes six, seven and eight. I was like a rustic simpleton who had landed into a metropolis. The first day, class Six, when Mrs. Chawla, our English teacher, asked me to read from the textbook, I pronounced "Come on" as "Common". My classmates burst into laughter. Mrs. Chawla corrected me. Nervous, I still read it wrong. The class repeated their chortling. Mrs. Chawla reprimanded them and asked me to read it again. I think I got it right after six or seven attempts. That was quite an embarrassment. Mrs. Chawla didn't give up on me. She used to call me at her home and gave me grammar lessons. She would ask me to read the lessons aloud and corrected me when I mispronounced a word. That was going several miles farther to help a weak student. It was unfortunate I could not meet her when I visited Pune in July this year as she was in the US at that time. But I always remember her when somebody admires my writing skills.

The Goddess of Mathematics finally smiled at me.
The first day in class 7, as the bell for the second period rang, clad in a cotton sari and simple flat leather moccasins, with a single long braid and a small black 'bindi', a motherly figure walked in the class. She was Mrs. Seema Aglawe, the teacher to whom I owe my interest in mathematics. The way she taught, took away all my fear. For my newly found fascination, I started practicing math as and when I had nothing else to do.

 


I had and still have great respect for madam Aghlawe. I wrote a poem in Hindi for her and gave it to her.
I left the Air Force School and took admission in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pune.
Years went by.
After my father took voluntary retirement from the Air Force, we settled in Delhi and shifted to Ghaziabad after some years. Going back to Pune to meet my teachers and friends never happened.
Finally, after 30 years, life took me back to Pune on the pretext of my son's admission. I yearned to meet my teachers and friends who were connected with me through social media. I thought it was an opportunity to get the cover of my book unveiled by my teachers and seeking their blessings.
When a friend told me that Mrs. Aghlawe had consented to come, my joy knew no bound. Meeting her after thirty years and being a mathematics teacher for more than twenty years all because of her would have been a pleasure akin to the fulfilment of the final wish.
But...but...but... teachers give you more than you expect.
When Mr. Rakesh Trigunait, my elder brother like a friend, asked me to share my memories of my teachers, I said that madam Aghlawe might not remember that I had once written a poem for her.



 "Do you have that poem with you? " Mrs. Aghlawe countered.
I shook my head. Madam fished into her handbag and took out a diary. A paper was carefully preserved between the pages. "I still have that poem, " she said proudly.

         "Read it for everyone, " she instructed me. I was in tears. Seeing me overwhelmed, she stood up to read it herself.





She had also replied to my poem but I somehow had forgotten about that. After my poem for her, she recited her reply to me which she had copied in her diary.
 
I got the best gift of my life. While writing this, I am still in tears. Great teachers have humble ways in which their greatness manifests. Their greatness is not subjected to a few acknowledgments. She gave me a valuable lesson that day. 


Madam Naseem, who taught us Chemistry is an exemplary teacher. She is still teaching at a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Pune.



I was jealous of my classmate Saddamma as he played better cricket than me though I was better in studies. One day, madam Naseem asked Saddamma what his future plans were after his dismal performance in a periodic test. He replied that he wanted to take admission to the best college in the city after class ten so that he can play cricket at a higher level. "No chance bro...maybe in next birth," I said smugly. Perturbed by my unwarranted intervention, Ms. Naseem, took a few deep breaths. She asked me to stand up. What followed was exactly what an ideal teacher ought to do in that situation.
She inquired about the reason for my jealousy. Then, she told me to help Saddamma with maths and science. In return, she asked Saddamma to help me improving my cricketing skills. Saddamma and I complied and became good friends. I humbly bow to Madam Naseem.







Madam Oak taught us Hindi in class 7.





I still remember a poem she taught us and made us learn it by heart.


"हम पंछी उन्मुक्त गगन के 
पिंजरबद्ध ना उड़ पाएँगे 
कनक तीलियों से टकराकर 
पुलकित पंख टुट जाएँगे "

She is so soft speech compliments her prowess in Hindi and instills calmness in her listeners.
With her efforts, our school had become a study centre of "राष्ट्र भाषा प्रचार समिति" that worked for promoting Hindi. I enrolled in the course and passed the exam with good marks. Madam Oak used to teach her after school hours. I proudly show the certificate I received to my kids. 


Mrs. Sita Lakshmi was the oldest teacher in the school. She used to be my class teacher in grade seven. We called her 'All-rounder" because she could teach any subject to any class. A short and frail figure, she must have been over fifty-five at that time but came to school on a moped. Riding at a good speed, she entered like 'Hermoine Granger'. We often rove around the school gate to witness her 'grand' entry.


Mr. Thakur was my History teacher in grade eight. He had hardly any hair and wore a buttoned driving cap. Coming to the class, he sat on the chair behind the teacher's desk and removed his cap. Then he would teach us the lesson as if he was narrating a story without consulting the textbook. I still remember his story about the battle of Plassey- how Mir Jafar betrayed Siraj ud-Dauhla and the conflict between Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim.


After class eight, I took admission at Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 3 at Chandan Nagar in Pune.





Mrs. Veena Kaul was my class teacher. She was strict but compassionate. A Science teacher who gives relatable examples from day-to-day life makes this subject even more interesting. 
In class ninth, I had stiff competition for the first rank with Khyali Dutt Sharma (I have given the same name to a character in my book 'LOVE @ AIR FORCE'). Madam Veena encouraged both of us. Seeing that competition was so tough that even half mark could make a difference, she declared, "I will not round off the marks. Whatever weightage comes out, I will consider it and will carry out the calculations in decimals."






That was sheer thoughtfulness of a dedicated and impartial teacher. Now, Khyali and I knew that even one-tenth of a mark can make a difference. We worked hard as if we were at war. On the day of the result, I had a clan of mice in my stomach.

I had stood first with a difference of 0.2 marks. I still have that report card. When I see it, I feel proud. The pride is not about beating Khyali but about having a devoted and thoughtful class-teacher.


Swati Dubey ma'am taught me Social Science in class 9. 
I remember I was making a list of rations and requirements for the class picnic when she was teaching. After a while, she said, "Agar tera hisaab kitaab ho gaya ho to pay attention here. " ( If you are done with your budget-making, then pay attention to the lesson ). I wondered how she knew what I was doing. But, now I realise she was a teacher and I was a naive boy of 14.





She often addressed me Vaibhav and I responded without an inkling because I knew it was the name of her son. "You are like my son, " she would say when she realised she had called me by the wrong name.





I remember the efforts she put into an inter-school exhibition. We had to put up an exhibition on the culture, literature, festivals, famous personalities in one of the Indian states and one country. West Bengal for the Indian state and Russia for the country were her prompt choices. I was on the team of five boys she had chosen. Her guidance and knowledge steered our creativity. We worked hard and brought laurels to our school.









The same year, Mr. Ved Prakash Mishra taught us Hindi. How knowledgeable!
What authority over language!
I waited for his period every day.
He was my first teacher who not only read my poems but assessed them. Then, he called me to his room and explained my shortcomings elaborately.
Often, on Sundays, he called me to his house and talked about literature. He remembered numerous couplets and poems which he quoted while conversing. I had to sit with a pen and paper because his quotes were too intriguing to be missed.


                                       "  जीवन तो इति न अथ  है 
                                 जीवन एक साधना पथ है "


                                           " भूले भटके कभी तो मेरा नाम लिया जाएगा 
                                        आँसू जब सम्मानित होंगे मुझे याद किया जाएगा "

Our school celebrated "हिन्दी सप्ताह ".
There were various competitions on all six days.
I had won the first prize in the essay writing, debate and Antakshri. The last competition was poem-recitation. Mishra sir was one of the judges. 
Khyali Dutt had won the competition because Mishra sir had given me one point less than Khyali. 
I was hurt. My immaturity was not ready to admit that a teacher who said I was his favourite student could do that to me.
When he learnt about my disappointment, he called me in his room.

                                     " निश्छल, निष्कपट, निष्पाप  हो जाना चाहिए शीश 
                                              जब बन जाते हो आप न्यायाधीश "

He told me that my choice of the poem was wrong. It was short and had less scope for you to show variation in expression. On the other hand, Khyali had recited "अर्जुन की प्रतिज्ञा" that had anger, emotions, and fear. 
I agreed with him.

After I left Pune I wrote him letters and got replies from him every time.



May God bless all my teachers with health and happiness. 
I feel indebted to them for their love and guidance. Thank you, dear teachers...Thank you so very much.











Sunday, 1 September 2019





BOOK REVIEW


"WHO KILLED THE MURDERER?"


   __________________________________By MOITRAYEE BHADURI








I love the books wherein every line enunciates what an ardent observer the author is. 'Who Killed the Murderer?' is just that kind of book.
A dark and spine-chilling story, 'Who Killed the Murderer?' will force the readers to ruminate how vulnerable and fragile life is. An untoward night, an irresponsibly hatched out mischief, unchecked immaturity and a moment of rage can bring us lifelong suffering. A selfish lie by a young girl against three boys (one out of the three is her twin brother) instigates two of them for revenge. And, when they have their revenge, her life changes forever. For the rest of her life, she lives with two daggers- one, pierced in her heart and another in her hand to harm others. She despises every pre-teen boy, even her son. So heart-wrenching! She turns selfish, self-centered, and wicked. No, don’t hate her. She is just sick and not responsible for her trauma. Faulty parenting and unruly schoolmates are accountable for her criminal psyche. 
An act of ghastly and cruel revenge can kill a person or turn him or her into a fearless, ruthless and deadlier survivor. No sane person would choose either even for his worst enemy.

 Though a thrilling murder mystery, this book is enlightening for the parents. The story is a testimonial of how the parents' ignorance and a casual approach can ruin the life of a child and the people associate with him or her. The unreasonable unwillingness of Shagun's mother to engage a psychologist and her excessive obsession for only one of her children (Shagun) only aggravated the ordeal she suffered with.

On page 141, one of the characters talks about “Rage disorder”. Psychologists also call it “Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED. The sufferers show hostility, impulsivity, and burst into anger despite a lack of adequate reason. In the cases when family members are aware that the person is ill and needs to visit a psychologist but the ‘patient’ doesn’t admit that he or she is sick. They too, keep on suffering along with the person ill of IED. It is a dilemma for the people who want to help the patient but are helpless. I wish the psychologists could suggest a way to make the suffering person understand that it is a curable disorder and treatment and counselling can make life so much pleasurable and enjoyable for him or her and the other family members.
‘Once his cigarette is over, he will feel guilty and come back with an apology.’ Page 41

This is so true!

The author seems to know about everything- smokers, TV actresses, the casting couch, the police, the detectives, the beauty parlours, child psychology et al- everything is so well researched that you never feel inadequacy. Except for two moments when the private detective, Milli Ray lights smokes at wrong places- once in the living room of her super-rich clients, the Seths, and another in a hospital never did my over-analysing brain object.

I loved the way Moitrayee has pen-sketched her characters. They all are blessed-lesser-mortals- talented but have humanly vices.

Milli Ray fails to impress me. I will hail her only as a hard-working detective and expected her to be sharper and smarter than she appears. I would suggest the author to polish her character and give her a little more guile as she is likely to repeat her in another thriller. Milli Ray, the ex-cop and detective, deserves it and I am already yearning to read another adventure by her.

The portrayal of Shagun's character is the immaculate and sheer brilliance of Moitrayee’s writing. She has really worked hard on presenting her protagonist as a ruthless but suffering psycho. At times, one can feel the author's empathy for her leading lady. She is parti pris to her protagonist in her narration. I justify it.
ACP Trehan, smitten by Milli’s dynamism appears, like a Sub-Inspector and lacks the flamboyance and authority his rank and occupation warrant. May we see him  act like an ACP in future adventures. I wish!
Rik Sharma alias Rishabh Gupta and Neel Khatan appear as good as their character-traits are. The rest of the characters are mere props.

The writing style and the mature handling of such a sensitive story need a special mention. When you are an author yourself, you tend to read a book more with a writer’s frame of mind and less as a reader. Moitrayee’s writing forced me to read it more as a reader. Not many writers have done that to me. 

Yes, Shelley said, “Sometimes, the devil is a gentleman. I say, all devils are gentlemen with some behavioural dysfunctions.

And, at last, I wish to ask Moitrayee if she aspired to be a detective at some point of time in her life.

Few Things worth mentioning…
1.      A few chapters end with a one-word-sentence. They build up curiosity.
2.      There is not even one steamy scene despite so many entangled and complicated relationships. I admire.
3.      The mention of Bradley Cooper. He doesn’t have a prominent upper lip like me… You know, what I mean.
4.      This is a must-read book for the parents like Mr. and Mrs. Chopra. And, if anyone feels he or she has the slightest of characteristics as Shagun, the protagonist has, they must seek the help of a psychologist immediately. Please don’t let one bad night or an unpleasant incident deprive you of the happiness and love you deserve.
Nobody is a villain. We just need to wring our hearts to squeeze out the poison. We deserve it. We deserve a life. We deserve happiness. We deserve love.



MATHEMATICS, EGO & ME






आओ बचपन सींचें - 5

चाहे कितने भी बड़े हो जाएँ, फिर भी हम सब हमेशा थोड़े-थोड़े बच्चे ही रहते हैं l नए कपड़े पहन कर बड़े भी इतराते हैं l जन्मदिन पर गिफ्ट पाकर बड़े भी खुश हो जाते हैं l 
जरूरी है बच्चा बने रहना और बच्चों से जुड़े रहना l  



Dear friends,

Hope you are happy and enjoying your life.

Today, I am posting an anecdote for you all. This incident changed my life. I hope you will like it. 








        MATHEMATICS, EGO & ME


It was 2006, six years after I gave up my job and was contended teaching in my institute.
I was aware that people thought that I was haughty and had an intolerably irritating superiority complex. I, however, considered it their covetousness.
A good friend of mine, who lives in Pune, telephoned me one fine day and apprised that some Mr. Apte, also from Pune, was conducting a Personality Development workshop at Faridabad. 

"Mr. Apte is a celebrated motivational speaker and trainer," he told me and insisted that I should attend the workshop. I gave all sorts of excuses- my busy schedule, my parent’s health, and other lame and inadequate pretexts. 

Although it was May, which is comparatively relaxing for teachers, I didn’t want to go as I thought that my personality needed no rectification. Finally, he said that he was coming to Delhi for attending it and I would have to accompany him.
I had to agree to oblige him.
It was a three-day workshop in some Motel in Faridabad. The fee was Three-thousand-eight-hundred rupees which I painfully parted with, just for the sake of my friend.

During the introduction at the start, elucidation came that among the eighty men present, I had the most humble social status. There were Chief Medical Officers from renowned hospitals, ACP’s of Haryana and Delhi Police, CEOs, highly placed Government Officers and many more.

The rumbling ghost of superiority took a backseat and consented to wait and watch why those refined gentlemen had gathered there.
The post-lunch session on day one itself was the most significant period for me that changed my life.

Mr. Apte drew a square on the board with four vertical and four horizontal lines inside it that divided it into smaller squares. He asked the trainees to count the number of squares it had. Some found 16, some 17, few others found 20 while few could see 24 squares in all.

My answer was 30 which was the highest number (of the squares) anybody had quoted.
Mr. Apte came to me and asked if I was sure. My ego replied to him on my behalf, 'Yes sir, pretty sure. I’m a Mathematics Teacher. It's a routine thing for me.'
‘Oh, I see," said Mr. Apte, 'However, I advise you to recount.’ 

‘No, Sir. I can't be wrong with this. I dedicate ten hours a day to this subject,’ I said, smugly.

Mr. Apte smirked and asked me to follow him to the podium.
‘Mr. Sharma, we will talk about the squares later. Let’s have fun exercise before that. And, gentlemen,’ he addressed the others, ‘I’ve chosen him for this exercise because he is a Mathematics teacher.’

He took an A-4 size sheet of paper, held it from two opposite corners and asked me to tear it off with a punch.
As I punched, he withdrew his lower hand foiling my attempt. He asked me to give another try and did the same, letting it loose just before my punch landed on it.
The third attempt failed too. I stood exasperated and exhausted because of repeated failure.

‘No sir, it will not tear off if you keep doing so,’ I said when he asked me to try again.
Hearing my reply, he smiled smugly and looked at me, ‘And you realized that after three blows?’ I sheepishly gazed into his eyes feigning the shame.

He continued, ‘Each blow was deadlier than the previous one; enough to knock me down if I had been in the way,’ he paused and smiled and looked at the amused audience, ‘Actually Mr. Sharma, you had realized that right after the first hit. However, your ego forbade you to accept failure so early. It stopped you to concede defeat even though you knew it was impossible. You thought that I might not do it the second time.’

I wanted to run away from the hall. He had not finished, ‘And, coming back to the count of the squares, I can prove that there are more than thirty squares in it even though it’s not my routine job.’

My arrogant mind was still not ready to accede to his challenging my knowledge of mathematics. Nevertheless, I decided to hear him patiently. I didn’t want more embarrassment.

He said, ‘Count all the squares including the black outline and then count them leaving the outline. That would double the number of squares that you counted.’
Mr. Apte placed his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Mr. Sharma, there will always be something more to learn. Remember, improvement has no finishing line.’

Years after the incident, I always try to keep my ego in check and always try and still trying to be a better teacher and a better human being,
Thank you, Mr. Apte, for the valuable lesson you taught me.


*********************************************************************************


Keep watching this space for the announcement of the winner of 'LET'S TWIST A STORY' - the contest held last Sunday.


Here are the results of the contest 'LET'S TWIST A STORY'.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Om Tiwari, Mr. Ratnadip Acharya, and Mr. Nuranis Ravi for keenly evaluating the entries.


THE ASSESSMENT OF OUR ESTEEMED JUDGES

S.NO
NAME
JUDGE 1
JUDGE 2
JUDGE 3
TOTAL
1
HARSH NATH TRIPATHI
7
8
9
24
2
ANSH 
GUPTA
7.5
6
8
21.5
3
VAISHNAVI KULKARNI
8.5
8
8
24.5
4
SHRUSHTI DANI
7.5
7.5
3
18
5
DIVYAM AGARWAL
7
7.5
3
17.5
6
SHRISHTI SUMAN
7.5
7.5
3
18
7
KESAR 
BAJAJ
6
6
1
13
8
TANISHQ SHARMA
7.25
7
1
15.25
9
PIYUSH TIWARI
7.25
7.5
8
22.75

Congratulations,  Vaishnavi Kulkarni. You are the Winner.
Well done,  Harsh.
Kudos to all participants. Keep writing.

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