This book is a rare gem and a must read. It is a window into her special life. It offers rare glimpses into her day to day life, her struggles and victories, her childhood recollections of various trips, people she met and her loving supportive family. It sheds light on the important role of her instructor Anne Sullivan in her success. Her command over the language impeccable and vivid. Her narratives are paintings made with words. This makes the book pleasurable to read. The book was delightful and high spirited for the most part.
One can not help but read her life’s story with rapt attention as the intrigue for her remarkable experiences keeps growing with every chapter – how can someone who can not see or hear describe intangibles like love, art or nature? How do they learn advanced mathematics or experience museums? or read countless books in Greek, German, French and English? The books aids in making sense of it all and much more.
“Even as the roots, shut in the darksome earth,
Share in the tree-tops joyance and conceive,
Of sunshine and wide air and winged things,
By sympathy of nature, so do I.”
I felt great admiration for her exceptional abilities, unshaken will power and extra-ordinary intelligence. The journey of not only how she overcame but triumphed over her deafness and blindness is incredibly fantastic. I felt my imagination of innumerable possibilities broaden through her journey.
Please listen very carefully
For taken Hypothetically
A single singularity
Exploded quite impressively
Creating stars and galaxies
With what must be quite logically
And coolly cosmologically
The building blocks of you and me
And continents and land and sea
A process evolutionary
Through dinosaur hegemony
Into our human ancestry
To cultural diversity
A growing global family
Religion met the sciences
Where people made discoveries
Of fundamental articles
And elementary particles
Both magical and technical
And also Mathematical
And random and symmetrical
Chemical and classical
Explained the metaphysical
That all things were divisible
But there must be a particle
Much smaller than a neutron ball
When answering the Hadron call
Will finally inform us all
That we are one and we are all
That we are great and we are small
We are day and we are night
We are dark and we are light
And I am he
As you are he
As you are me
And we are all together
I am the egg man
I am the egg man
I am the Walrus!
Coo coo ca Chooo!
Don’t let a little superstition ruin someone’s (probably your beloved daughter’s) life.
Although I had read this a couple of months ago, the memory of a recent post on Periods (for (open-minded) Adults only) on Twitter is still very very fresh in my mind to the extent that I keep playing it over and over in my head at random times sheerly for the truth of it – her words couldn’t be more true – “I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species.whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way…”
Belonging to a “modern” world, living independently in US, earning my own way through this life, talking and thinking big things about women’s liberation and women’s equality, I am left shaken since a conversation on my first night in India some days ago (as I visit from California (sometimes when one starts living in a certain world, one might forget the truth of other worlds that exist in parallel)); as this young married but separated maid (living with her parents) who works at our home was packing left-over dinner for her younger brother and felt necessary to clarify to me that she was avoiding touching the food with her hands (hence the use of spatula) because she was in time and that she should not commit sin and bring bad luck and make the food inedible for her brother by touching it even by mistake during this time.
The manner in which she narrated those sentences (using 3rd person instead of 1st), it was clear to me that it was not something she understood but just something she had heard repeatedly over the years and she had simply recited those exact sentences to me like a parrot. It occurred to me that she must have been thinking about it in her mind when I walked in. She had been brainwashed to believe that she was dirty this time of the month. The irony of this thinking couldn’t be more obvious than now when she was bringing food on her brother’s plate and still made to believe she could be dirty at any time in her life.
I had a strong urge to make her sit right there and tell her otherwise. I thought of telling her that, in fact, we worship women who are in Time and that it was considered a very fortunate thing to happen and that in fact she should touch the food with her hand to bring good luck. But I knew better than turning her into a rebel at 11 PM on a random evening of her life as I did not know the consequences she might face had I taken that rash emotional step without thinking it through. What if she blurted what I told her back to her family and got beat up. That wouldn’t be helpful at all. I felt so stupid as I realized that I had never given a thought to what I would do if I experienced something like this (which is very common in India) first hand.
If anything had to be done about it, it had to be properly thought out, planned and implemented, not randomly try to change one person’s mindset without changing the environment they lived in and get them into trouble. For all the activist thoughts I have otherwise, in this one moment, I felt humbled as my heart truly sank while reality slapped me in my face.
As I am writing this blog, it is becoming more and more certain to me that although I am feeling helpless at the moment, I will do something about this when the time is right.
The morning after I wrote this blog, I got invited to a Goddess Puja at a neighbor’s home (We Indians are not only very religious, our religious beliefs are highly ceremonial and very frequent). My otherwise very kind and progressive mother gently reminded me that “I hope you are not in Time, otherwise you can not go for that Puja (for the fear of it being a sin)”. I had forgotten this cardinal rule ever since I moved to the US, where my life hasn’t stopped even once because of periods.
This is such a common superstition in our culture that even the most progressive women/people believe in it very honestly and staunchly. I rebelliously asked the same question to her that she has heard me ask for several years in my childhood – “But isn’t the goddess a female too Mummy? Haven’t the Gods made me like this?” She left me alone because she secretly agrees with me.
As a child, when I was IN TIME and my (highly religious and old) grandparents were in town, every one in and around my house, who had no business in my Periods, knew about my personal matter and I was asked not to enter the kitchen and kept away from all Gods because I was considered Dirty. Of course, it wasn’t just me who was subject to this funda, all women in the house were. Everyone knows this system in our culture, no-one has to be taught or told. All the Beautiful Dirty Women, in good intention, believe, accept and follow it very sincerely. Essentially, they have all accepted they are DIRTY when IN TIME.
It isn’t enough that we feel PMS-y, moody, in pain and sick during these Periods, now we also have to feel highly embarrassed, ashamed and shitty. It is a very subtle way of making women feel inferior.
I am about to share a secret as this seems like an apt time and space.
After I was past my 10th grade, I learnt how to hide my periods from my family and since then, I have lied shamelessly to everyone who reminded me about MY TIME. I have, in fact, gone to ALL the ceremonies and temples while having Periods that I wasn’t otherwise allowed to attend (and some times my mother knew but chose to act ignorant because I know in my heart, she agreed with me – Don’t ask Don’t tell). I can assure you through my first hand experience, NO bad luck was ever brought. I had secretly fought for my right.
This thought process and culture can and will NOT change, until every parent starts letting go of this superstition against women and is willing to take a chance. Sometimes bad things may happen, but I hope the educated, wise and intelligent people of our society will put a little mathematics to work and associate that random bad luck to probability rather than a woman in Time.
The only way to change this taboo is by worshipping the women in Time around you, especially inviting them to all special, religious occasions where they are otherwise uninvited and by treating them normally, with love and care. The only dirty thing about Periods is our taboo-ed thinking about it.
By Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
In a meeting last night someone shared a pearl of wisdom – the 18-40-60 theory.
When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you;
when you turn 40, you decide that you no longer give a darn about what anyone else thinks;
when you turn 60, you realize nobody has been thinking about you at all.
Don’t wait to turn 60. Do your thing!
I was in a meeting last Monday where the presenter spoke of the 4 bones that usually make up an organization.
1. WISH BONES – those who always have wishful thoughts but rarely transform into action and rely on others to make it happen.
2. JAW BONES – those who talk all the time but do little.
3. KNUCKLE BONES – those who knock out everything that anyone else tries to do.
4. BACK BONES – those who get under the load and do the work that’s necessary to keep the organization running under all circumstances.
Which of the 4 bones are you?
A gentle reminder of our insignificance.
“to really put us Earthlings in our place in the Grand Scheme, please have a look at another famous image, the Pale Blue Dot – a photograph taken of the Earth (the tiny pale speck, top center) by Voyager 1 in 1990 from 4 billion miles away (about 6 light-hours).
Words of astronomer Carl Sagan about this Pale Blue Dot: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”