Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

The generation gap

There she was, the plump, loving mum who came and spent at week at her daughter’s university out of concern for second degree burns that the young girl had sustained when boiling water spilt on her while she was pouring tea. And so at every given moment the mother would lovingly change her bandages and warn her to be careful.
And then there was the pretty daughter. She was full of conflicting emotions: so excited about coming to a great university, and so embarrassed by her mum being around her, when all the other students had come to campus independently. One day when she was attending an open lawn party with the other freshers, her mum walked by and told her to be careful and not dance too much so that her burns could heal.
“Go away mum. I am with my new friends. You are embarrassing me,” she said.
The mother walked away, sighed, and thought of how she had sacrificed promotion opportunities at work so as to be able to devote more time to her children. And for what? For this day, when her daughter effortlessly put a group of new friends on a pedestal, and who chided her for dressing up in an old fashioned way.
The social exchange theory of Homas is based on the idea that all relationships are based on give-and-take. This perspective argues that people calculate the overall worth of a particular relationship by subtracting its costs from the rewards it provides.
I wonder what ‘reward’ this mother got for the relationship with her daughter?

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Don’t fly too high

You flew the nest at an early age,
Insistent and in a terrible rage,
We listened, my child, as we have always done,
Hoping that your happiness would come.

You have made your own nest my dear,
But have left us in a state of fear,
For the child we once cared for,
Seeks our affection no more.

You have turned your back on us so fast,
Leaving us in mid-air with nothing to grasp,
Lost and forlorn, we feel betrayed
By the Russian roulette that life has played.

Have we metamorphosed overnight?
Turned into beasts with overpowering might?
I think not, my child, we are just the same,
Maybe this is all life’s game.

My child, don’t fly too high,
After all the sun is in the sky,
It may burn your wings beyond repair,
And leave you in a state of disrepair.

We pray your cup will overflow
With happiness and a whole lot more.
Such tranquility is beyond our scope,
Yet in our heart remains a spark of hope.

Feelings …

Someone told me my feelings were wrong,

That I ought to grow up and move on.

But I am not a computer you see, or a light switch for you to turn off when free.

 I am me; living, breathing me, full of life’s vitality.

 The clock continues to play her song,

 But my feelings remain, even years on.

I do not choose to follow my heart.

Rather it is the heart that chooses …

I know he will never be with me, never caress my hair nor touch my skin,

never share his thoughts as he once did.

But shhhh!

Don’t tell that to my heart.

I may never be free from this sweet captivity,

from this constant state of uncertainty.

All I know is I am not a switch you see.

I am living, breathing me.

Coping with a toxic relationship

I see many of my friends, fast approaching middle age, who are clutching onto a marriage that has been dead and buried for some time. There could be several reasons for this, including the fear of a backlash from the in-laws and one’s own family members too. Being a collective society, in India couples don’t just part ways with their life partner, but in the process also have to lose a substantial portion family, friends and societal respect too. And not everyone has the strength to go through such a loss. It is interesting to observe the coping strategies that individuals come up with when caught in the jaws of a toxic relationship. One ‘strategy’ is pure denial. I know of one lady who refuses to admit there is anything wrong in her marriage and is blind to the chasm that has developed between her and her husband. Someone else I know copes by hurling himself headlong into his work, almost 24 x 7, which means he ends up having to spend very little time with the wife that he does not really want to be with. Others turn to hedonism, and secretly have several affairs, so as to “compensate” themselves for having to go through a life of personal misery. The most effective strategy came from one of my maids, who has used time management as an instrument against a violent husband. She managed to gain employment as a cleaning lady in houses at the exact time her husband was at home, that is, in the mornings and evenings. And when he goes off to work in the daytime, she rushes back home to look after the kids. She tells me the beatings have subsided largely because they are hardly together under the same roof, and also because of the fact that she now has her own income too. So rather than indulging in any form of escapism, she took the bull by the horns and came up with a workable solution to coping with a toxic relationship!

How pure is love?

Just as evil is a prerequisite to sensing goodness in all its fullness, so too love cannot be experienced without some amount of pain. After all, it is only when you love someone that you feel the gnawing pain of separation. Children catching a flight to return to their boarding school, a lover who has to go abroad to study for a year, or even the death of a loved one. Those who do not experience love also do not understand pain.

How can love be defined? There is the tender love of mother and father for a new- born child, the love of a friend, or brotherly and sisterly love.

As for couples, Meryl Streep in “Falling in Love” defined this as “the first person you think of in the morning and the last person you think of at night.”

A journalist friend of mine recently came up with a succinct definition: “It is mutual respect and passion.” How true. One without the other is incomplete.

But how many of us can love unselfishly? Does the parent not expect respect from the child, or does the lover not expect to be doted upon by her partner?

Even when we love God, do we not expect some deal in return? Perhaps yes. But there was one sufi seer, Rabia al Basri who lived in Basra in Iraq in the second half of the 8th century AD, whose love was pure and selfless. Here is one of her prayers:

 “O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.

But if I worship You for Your Own sake,

grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”