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Letting a girl fly comes hard to Indian parents - but it needs to be done.
I had watched her tentatively spread her wings as she ventured into a hundred year old college. Frankly I was worried. What if she could not find suitable friends? What if she was ragged? What if she could not manage notorious Pune traffic on her brand new two-wheeler? What if… the list was ever growing and I worked overtime to sort out any wrinkles in picture developing on the canvas of her life.
I was roundly accused of pampering, a charge I sometimes admit to… had I forgotten I too had been to a college or my first days there? Our parents were tougher I think, as we fended for ourselves quite easily. There was not such a hullabaloo about ‘healthy interaction’, a polite term for ragging – as mostly it stayed just that. Being in Bombay (as it was called then) we all travelled by bus or train with no mobiles to stay connected. Yet never once did we feel disconnected or unsafe. Actually parents too never felt the need to constantly be in touch with us.
Then why was I different? I looked around; all mothers like me seemed to be in the same boat and they too had an upbringing similar to mine. We all were falling head over heels to do that extra bit for our kids. Did somebody say children faced peer pressure? I seemed to be falling prey to the same….
So here I was managing home and hearth and career and now had pulled on this added responsibility. Tackling college authorities for amenities was my pet peeve and one that had my blood pressure going through the roof.
But getting back on track, she made her first solo and slowly found a whole new world opening up. I saw the world through her eyes all over again yet could never understand the joy of eating a wada pav from the streetside vendor or endless texting on the cell phone or watching movies from the first row!
Getting into a B-school was a natural progression of her education but all my joy was offset by my worry receptors again working overtime. So began yet another episode. Of course today’s hostels are much different from my time, but I was not reassured.
The course was designed to sort out wheat from chaff, never mind that these students had undergone a gruelling selection process. Hearing her strenuous routine had me in shivers. But then companies did not pay obscene salaries for nothing. They knew the product; the recruit has it in him/her to take on corporate battles. So I guess learning was happening 24X7 for both of us. To be fair some of this ‘help’ was unasked for….
A sane voice inside reminded me everyone has to put in such hours. I understood that she needed to go through the process to emerge stronger. But understanding would not translate into actions… I prayed that God give my strength to her, give me her fatigue and doubts so she could soar higher. I did whatever I could to ease her burden!
That’s when I was told this story. A butterfly emerges from a cocoon by pushing out through its enfolding layers. Unable to bear its struggles, a child peeled off layers of the cocoon and waited with baited breath for the colourful beauty to fly into his hand. But that did not happen. It fell to the ground lay weakly flapping its wings. Nature had deemed its struggle necessary. This was to force liquid from its body to its tiny wings to make them powerful.
Some activities are necessary to gain survival skills. That is the law of Nature. The modern urban jungle too has its own laws to live by, its unique dangers that one has to learn to face and conquer. I would be doing an injustice if I tore away the cocoon or worse continued to reinforce it. Butterflies have to strengthen their own wings if they want to come out of the closed confines of the cocoon however warm and cosy it may be. And those around (namely me or other Moms like me) have to let them learn and win! The earlier we do it the better!
This was first published on my blog here.
Today’s changemaking organization that we want to highlight is the Friends of Children, Pune. FOC, Pune offers assistance to go to college, for young people from underprivileged families, who want to study and use education to better their lives.
Apart from financial support, they have been helping students in Pune and the adjoining districts of Maharashtra in other ways such as helping them gain valuable skills needed in the job market and mentoring them. FOC’s work is important to girls, because girls from poor families who find work in the formal sector often see a distinct rise in their own status within the family. Such young women who are financially empowered, have a better chance of being in control of their lives, whether it is decisions about getting married and having children, or on how finances are spent by the family.
You can support FOC by donating monies or other materials like computers and stationery. FOC is also seeking volunteers in Pune for various activities.
Pic of butterfly credit rkramer62 (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Archana is a physiotherapist, fitness enthusiast, amateur field botanist and nurtures a few bonsai. Happiest on a road less traveled. read more...
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