22 Saturday
August 2020
Roar of a lion.

No one is perfect. My paternal grandfather, Bauji wasn’t perfect either. But he is the closest I have been to a living legend. He would have turned 100 today. He passed away at the age of 94, a man who would have really relished his 100th birthday.

He was a grand man. Lived life king-size. No one who met him realised he was just 5′ 4″. He had a towering personality. Loud, energetic, lively, opinionated and totally sure of himself. He could cut down to size anyone,anywhere. Relatives, family, friends, politicians. People loved and respected him because when you went to him for advise, you’d get the most balanced view. Keeping his personal gains aside.

There are hundreds of families he has helped by getting jobs, helping with education and truly transforming lives. There are many couples he has connected, some for a second innings. The most astounding one for me is when he saw my mother in a wedding, asked her parents to agree and told my father, I have fixed your marriage. Ja ke dekh lo, mana karna hai toh kar dena.. My dad met my mom and they lived happily after.So sure Bauji was of his decisions.

He was proud of being from Himachal. He lived his retired life in a spacious British kothi in the heart of Dharamsala, and there was hardly a day when someone was not coming to him for advise or to pay respects to a very large hearted man. He was the founder president of Rotary club Dharamsala, and did so much good work for the people of that beautiful little town.

He was disciplined, punctual, affectionate and social. When we went with him to the market every few steps someone would stop him to say hello. He waved out to people almost like a walking talking wind mill. I had forgotten how that felt until my daughter said she won’t go for a walk with me in our building, as I stopped every few minutes to say hello to neighbours. Ha, ha. Life comes a full circle.

Our summer holidays were spent in his gorgeous house listening to him and our wonderful dadima, Bhabhiji bicker all day long. They were a perfect example of opposites attract. One liked to go out, the other didn’t want to step out. One liked BJP, one supported the Congress. Twadda Bhajpa, Twaddi Congi went back and forth throughout the morning. They both loved good food, fruits, dry fruits. Most of all, they loved having family and friends over.

Their love for each other was intense and the 4 years Bauji spent after Bhabhiji’s demise were painful to watch. He’s the first grown man I saw crying openly for his lost wife.

I have learnt so much from observing him.His open nature, extreme helpfulness. His transparency,his guts- he would say what he felt on your face, not behind you. He was fun, but could literally shrivel up grown ups. There are two generations of our family who were terrified of speaking up against him.

Yet, we miss him today and wish we could have met to celebrate his hundredth birthday. A little bit of him lives on in all of us.Yes, he was legend. Lived a beautiful full life. And like a Lion, he roared.

Miss you, Bauji. Happy 💯!

16 Sunday
August 2020
I, exist.

I had been married for 15 odd years, a mother of two children, a wife and a dutiful daughter in law. I was well and truly immersed in my sense of duty to the family, work and household. One day, my mother brought me an enlarged picture of me. A solo selfie, in an antique frame. For the first time in 15 years I saw my picture alone. I was shocked.

Why… I didn’t know. My mom said she liked the selfie despite the highlights of grey beginning to show. I was stunned at seeing it because for the longest time, I had not gotten a solo picture printed or framed. Ever since my marriage, I always got pictures of both of us and after the kids, it was always either the kids or all of us.

Seeing that picture awakened a desire within me, to find myself. I had hidden and buried, forgotten the girl I once was in my roles as wife and mommy. I guess it happens to a lot of women. We forget ourselves, forget to give importance to the individual we were and gradually everyone around us also tends to forget our presence, needs and individuality.

So many times we tend to blame our partners or in laws or even our children, but the fact is that we forgot ourselves first. We ignored our small needs, and desires. We sacrifice at the altar of expectations even when no one asks us to do that. No one said we had to, but Indian women expect the most from themselves. I don’t know if we have seen our mothers do it and so we wordlessly expect the same from ourselves too.

Being a doctor and having a busy practise, I considered allowing myself a career the most joy I would allow myself. So I spent every extra minute in between devoted to my children. I hired two nannies, spent a lot of money pampering them just so that they would not miss out on anything because I was working. I don’t think I gave myself credit for being a working professional and a full-time mom and put my feet up and said, you need some time off too. Mothers seldom do. My holidays were planned around the kids and how they would enjoy the most. When I attended conferences I took the most early morning flight and headed back the same late night if I could so I could be with the children.

The lack of self love took a toll on me. Gradually all the self neglect began to hurt. This picture awoke me in a manner I didn’t know then would change my entire life. I began reading and learning about how to practise self love, and gradually did things which would make me happy. It’s been a journey of more than four years and every month I find more happiness, more joy and more purpose in my existence.

I still love my children more than anything in the world, but everyday I ask myself what I want to do, and always do it. I give myself what I want in terms of food, time, rest, leisure, hobbies, movies. My children are happier now their mom is happy. My husband understands my growth and transformation and believes I am so much more peaceful than I have ever been.

Mommies, I share this story with you in the hope that you will let yourself become the centre of your world. There are lots of women who have forgotten themselves. I do hope you will awaken one day and remember, you exist.

Love and regards
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon,Gurgaon

13 Thursday
August 2020
Hey Ram!

Lord Ram’s story has been written by more than 300 hands……even modern day writers are using the story of Ram, Sita, Raavan to entice readers of the 21st century keeping the Ramayan alive and relevant in the India of 2020. Why not? The story is about a man who left his crown and kingdom to be a good son, and then left his wife to be a good king. Tyaag, maryada, heavy words made Lord Ram a bigger human than is normally possible. His love for brother Lakshman made him human. The way he ate Shabari’s jooothey ber make him an example to every Indian to forgo the caste system. The bravery with which he killed Raavan make him legend. And the way Hanuman worshipped him made him a God.

Calling out Ram’s name in the time of need has been tradition. Ram -bas naam hi kaafi hai. The name when written on rocks was able to keep them afloat all the way from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka, had an army walk over to destroy Raavan’s gold ki Lanka, so why should his name not help all his believers?

How is business? Ram bharosey! Ask our entrepreneurs, factory owners, manufacturers. The ones who provide jobs to millions of Indians, they have zero help from anyone but the almighty. Despite demonetization, despite a complicated GST, they relentlessly keep working. They pay higher rates for power, but don’t get uninterrupted supply. They need to employ staff, but most people who apply are unemployable. They need easier paper work, they keep getting threatened by babus from various departments. They have lakhs of rupees stuck with the tax department, and they need to pay to get it back. This is the sad story of every small manufacturer in India. Will the government that celebrates Ram please help them now?? They are desperate, and don’t need heavy interest loans. They need pro-manufacturer policy, ease of doing business. They need Aatmanirbhar Bharat to happen on the ground.

228 doctors have died in the last 5 months from Covid 19. This in a nation which was clapping hands, banging thaalis and lighting diyas much before it all began. But they are still dying everyday, and many young doctors haven’t been paid for 3-6 months, they have salary cuts while on post covid duty isolation. Courts have been ordering their salaries to be paid, but what a shameless lot these doctors are!! They don’t think helicopters showering petals over them is enough payment by a grateful nation….they still ask for their salaries. Unfortunately, the petals cannot pay for rent or buy rations, pay school fees nor buy fuel.

Few metros have managed to go through the Covid peak and now cases have begun to reduce in the cities while rising in the heart of some states. We have had 23 lakh positive patients, and more than 47,000 deaths. It is not good governance nor great healthcare that most Indians are recovering from home isolation. Some secret factor either the universal BCG vaccination or MMR vaccine we were given in childhood or the genetic makeup of the Indian race is keeping mortalities as low as 2.3%, plus the fact that the average age in India is much lower than the citizens of Italy or Florida where need for ventilator is much higher and the death rate is scary.

The early and strict lockdown was well timed but it wasn’t removed by day 30…. And the extension to day 50 simply broke the reserves of the marginalized and impoverished who could no longer afford to remain in their tiny urban slum homes. The lakhs of migrants who went home are now waiting to return as cities have opened up. But a fresh wave of migration will bring another wave of Covid19. Lord Ram, show mercy upon us, and deliver us from this terrible menace. Humans are simply out of their depth in dealing with this calamity, the governments only power left is to lock and unlock. We are awaiting your help and divine guidance.

We did the bhoomi poojan of the temple even though we did not get the building plans passed. There was no extra special auspiciousness on that particular day, except to preempt a discussion on one year of Kashmir’s lockdown. We did not want media to focus on the longest and harshest communication embargo in the history of the world, we didn’t want public to ask, how has the 370 withdrawal helped people of Kashmir. So we had a grand bhoomi poojan, sidelined all those who made it happen, those who stood atop the previous structure, those who gave fiery speeches….they were relegated to their homes while a new age savior of the nation used this opportunity to fill hearts with joy,pride and devotion. After decades finally mandir wahin banayengey, and it helped us to forget the pandemic which continues to rage and the jobs that we are losing daily, the loss of income in every household.

Please forgive us God for using this moment as another political masterstroke. Forgive us for depicting a human towering over your image, for tweets glorifying a human instead of the God, for whatsapp forwards implying you as homeless being granted a home by a political party. Ram, you live in every straw, every stone, every heartbeat, every breath. The temple is just a symbol of where your image rests, most of us understand you are everywhere.

When China has intruded into our domain we dare not acknowledge their presence. We ban a few apps while they take square kilometers of our land. Our citizens pre-book One Plus phones while 20 of our soldiers’ bodies reach home wrapped in the tricolor. Our nation is truly at your mercy Lord Ram, save us as we celebrate the 73rd Independence day. Too many lives have been lost to keep us breathing free, make the intruders leave without further loss of life or limb.

They say the father on the nation also called out your name, when he breathed his last- HeyRam! It is my heartfelt desire that our people emerge as a morally strong,well educated and healthy populace, that would be true Ram Rajya.

When no one sleeps hungry,

and no one is arrested on fake charges,

When justice is swift and unbiased,

and everyone is safe.

When wealth is not concentrated into the hands of a handful

and policies are implemented to ease the life of the common man.

Into that heaven of freedom,my father, let my country awake.

Jai Hind.

Dr Sarika Verma

ENT Surgeon Gurgaon