Untouchability in India and Nepal

          Growing Up Untouchable in India is an autobiography of Vasant Moon where he shares his experience of being an untouchable, and clearly portrays the situation and place in the 1940 of India. Moon was a Mahar, an untouchable. The concept of untouchability is to level the social status of people according to their caste. Castes were divided long ago; some castes were high castes, people from which more received respect and power in the society than people known as Dalits. The narrator has written about the untouchability in India. This concept exists in Nepal as well. I would like to share my experience about untouchables and prejudices related to them in Nepal.

      Untouchability is much less believed in urban areas, whereas it is seriously followed in rural areas of Nepal. Moon said that lower caste people were not able to eat together with so called “high caste” people. I learnt from my friend, who lived in a village, that low caste people are not even allowed to enter houses, and when they drink tea or eat lunch in any shop, and then they have to wash their utensils themselves; otherwise, they will be beaten up gruesomely. Dalits can’t raise their voice against such type of amorality, and even if they do, they end up without any result. In addition, Moon explains the education system of India in the 1940s where there were fewer numbers of girls than boys. However, the children were treated equally. As he grew older, discrimination increased and children were treated according to their caste. The situation is almost the same in Nepal as well. During my village tour, I saw some children sitting outside of the classroom. I learnt that low caste students were not allowed to enter their classroom. They even took their exams in a separate room. A child growing up experiencing these kinds of discrimination can never have a positive feeling towards his society. Once my friend touched a low caste girl and then, consequently, she had to take a bath every morning in the winter with cold water followed by puja, for purification, for a few days. Thus, Moon’s experience is worth studying as he is a representative of a society where people are suppressed just because of their caste.

Can you share a story related to untouchability?

 

 

Feeling unhappy? Tired? Frustrated? Want to be happy? Try It!!!

             In my “Academic Reading and Writing” class, our teacher is teaching us about happiness. We have read a time magazine article titled as “Health and Happiness”, where the author has given some tips to be happy. According to the article, counting your blessings in life, hearing music, nurturing your spirituality, moving your body, laughing big, doing something nice for someone else, making more money than your peers, seeking positive emotion, identifying with your heritage, using a happy memory as a guide, play the part of an optimist, trying new things, telling your story to someone, balancing work and home, making time, smiling etc. There is no doubt that these tactics can necessarily make a person happy.

            Today, I am writing this blog entry to introduce another exceptional way to be happy that I learned last term from the novel The Joy Luck Club, and that is fung shway! It is a Chinese tradition of bringing peace, happiness, balance and harmony to your life by rearranging elements and objects in your home or workplace. Although there is no scientific reason behind this idea, I personally believe it really does work. I want to give the tips to my friends how you can be happy using the idea of fung shway, and I can guarantee that you will feel happy.

            Are you devastated after breaking up with your boyfriend? Felling bored with tedious class work? Felling frustrated after getting bad grade? Do you want a change in your daily life style? If your answer is “yes” for any of the above questions, fung shway is for you!!!

          What you have to do first is to choose a day. You can choose your week-ends. On the fixed day, get up earlier than you do in your typical days. It’s better if you start the day saying your prayer. Then, take your breakfast, and start arranging your room. First, keep all the furniture out of the room, and then clean the whole room. Clean every corner including the ceiling, window, and the fan too. Also, clean your wash room and the veranda attached to your dorm. Next, arrange the furniture in the room in a different way than it was before. Now, keep your things in the shelf or locker in an arranged way. Spray air-freshener if you want to. You can also hang a few paintings on the wall, or you can buy a flower vase, and keep some colorful flowers in it. Don’t forget to use a clean colorful bed cover on your bed. Make sure that you keep your furniture in a way that there are enough light and air in the room.

             Now, you have finished your own fung shway! Don’t you feel happy now?  You will feel more happy taking a cool refreshing bath after all these hard work. Also, dress up yourself nicely for the day. How are you now? Let me know. 🙂

Callousness and Clouds

The story “Callousness and Clouds” in the autobiography Vasti of Vasant Moon give us an idea that our family members, and wealth may not accompany us throughout our lives. We may have to live without them at anytime.

In the story, Vasant, the main character of the story had a troublesome life in the beginning of his life as his father was drunkard. His drunkard father used to beat his mother every evening. It continued until his mother called her father for help. Then, Vasant went to leave with his grandfather along with his mother and a little sister. After that, his life turned to be good. He was well treated in that new home. He was given well education, he started to leave among good people, and his mother also started to be happy. However, his happiness could not last for a long time. After his grandfather died, his so-called maternal uncle, Laxman suddenly appeared with his family and claimed for his grandfather’s property. Laxman and his family slowly started to torture them. After that his grandmother also died of illness. Laxman and his family took advantage of helplessness of his mother and forced them to live in a small room in the lane behind the house. In this way, Vasant passed through various events that caused him to leave his all the belongings day by day. First, he lost his father’s love, then his grandfather, and finally his grandmother along with his comfort life. (18-23)

This story is very often in our society. We can see many people who lose their property within a day. The reasons behind this may vary from person to person. Some may lose their property on business; some may lose their property because of habit of drinking alcohol and playing cards. However, it is often true that wealth rarely accompany us in our difficulties. In case of our relatives, it is a universal truth that everyone born on this earth must die and leave everyone behind. So, I sometimes think that is worthless to fight against with each other for property and other things in our lives as it is certain that all these things can leave us behind at anytime.

Happiness

Happiness is the state of being happy.  It can have different connotation to different people. Something that makes me happy may not make you happy.  For example, my friend associate happiness with eating ice cream, but her concept doesn’t apply for my definition of happiness. For me, I feel that happiness is when I am free of anxiety, stress, tensions, and depression. In short, a peace of mind is happiness. Sometimes, making others happy also brings happiness. For example, I got a beautiful bracelet, and my friend got an unattractive bracelet. When I gave her mine, she became happy, which made me feel happy as well.

People often equate happiness with wealth. Can wealth be regarded as a way to acquire happiness? No, it is not. Even if you are a billionaire, you won’t enjoy the delight of happiness. Ironically, cynical people believe that all rich people are very miser and self indulgent. Their greediness never leaves them to rest at peace. They always ascertain for a strategy to increase their richness.  The more they become wealthy, the less happiness they get in their lives. However, some people seem really happy because of their wealth. I see them enjoy every bits of life. As long as they have money, they are indifferent to problems and troubles. However, quite often, they lose their happiness due to some chaos in friendship and love affairs. So, this indicates that no matter how much rich you are, it doesn’t mean that you are happy.

Happiness is what we make out of ourselves. Happiness is something that isn’t tangible. Here is an anecdote I got from the Indian Newspaper called The Speaking Tree. “Once there was a kitten that chased her tail all the time. One day, an old wise cat saw her. He watched the kitten for some time and then asked her why she was chasing her tail so much. The kitten gave a shrewd answer saying she was finding happiness because her mother told her she would find happiness in her tail. Upon hearing it, the wise cat advised her not to chase the tail because the more you run after your tail, the faster it will run away from you. Don’t chase your tail, it would follow you. And the old cat walked away with wagging his tail.” This tells us that happiness is not something that can be caught and kept with us forever. Be happy and cheerful, you are sure to get happiness.

Haiku

I have always thought that poems are a set of lines that makes a long paragraph along with some rhyming words which makes the sentences sound more musical and the words carry deep meaning. But after being introduced to Haiku—a short 5-7-5 syllable poem, I found it more interesting. It’s a short poem that indicates a specific meaning with the use of limited words. There were multiple haikus discusses in class and below is an example of one among them:

Silence around us

Our watchful eyes hear the world

Hands do the talking.

                                -Jenifer Verginia

The meaning that I can derive from this piece of haiku is that what we see is the result of what we do. Our eyes see and hear the world. The eyes know what’s happening in and around us. The eyes see the things around us happening, changing, creating, effecting, and dying. The eyes also hear and see good and the bad, the new and the old, the eyes see much more than what we hear and it is our hands that are either responsible for these or it is our hand that makes all these thing happen. Our eyes see it and out hands respond to it, the hands do the talking. This particular haiku includes the line on the top, “Silence around us,” which, I believe, is written in the point of view of a deaf person or a person who sees the world around us as silent place. And the happenings in and around him/her are all seen and heard by the eyes and the hands respond to it, in one way or the other.

It also indicates that though we know what we are doing and what its consequences are, we still ignore them. Since the eyes that see and the hands that react are of the same person, the realization and the reaction are perceived by us. For example, let’s take the current issue of the Global warming, we know that we should not pollute the environment and stop the practice of deforestation, over use of natural resources and other such activities that harm the environment, but we keep on continuing it just for our benefit without thinking for the after effects and not thinking for the future. Another simple example can be the act of “Procrastination.” Though we know that it is not good to procrastinate our work, but we still keep the work for some other time and later we regret for doing it.

Be Happy Always

          Reading the article “The New Science of Happiness” I started to ponder in myself what happiness actually means for me. Eventually I have come up with the answer which I like to share with everyone.

          Happiness is satisfaction. When a person is happy with himself or herself, with whatever he or she has, that person is certainly happy. In my life, I have seen many persons who are unhappy in spite of having all the things that are enough to make a parson’s life happy. It is because those people are not satisfied with whatever they have. When they get more they start to want more. I am not saying that a person shouldn’t have desire or aim to get the best. It’s good to have dreams, wishes, and aims as these things make us happy and give us inspiration to go on in life. However, I also think that a person shouldn’t get over obsessed about his or her aim, desires, and wishes and makes these the main motive of living. When a person does that and fails to achieve those things, it becomes the reason of his or her misery.

          Happiness is to think about what one has, not about what one doesn’t have. There is a story I have heard from my mother when I was child that I like to share with everyone. Once there was a poor man sitting beside a street and grieving about his miserable poor conditions. He was crying and saying that he is so poor that he didn’t even have the money to buy a sandal that he could wear to save his feet from the heat of the street of summer. He was wondering about why god is so unfair with him. In the main, he saw a man crossing the road who didn’t have legs. Seeing that the man stand up, wept his tears, and started to smile thinking that he is lucky and happy enough, at least, to have legs to walk on. Therefore, whenever one gets unhappy and regrets that why anything worse happens to him or why he or she has failed, one should always look down to the people who are facing the worst than him or be happy by consider the fact that things could have been worse than this.

          Happiness is a feeling that needs to be felt. It is an idea that needs to be thought. We need to think ourselves happy in order to be happy. It we can do so, we will be able to find happiness in every simple thing or we could be happy even without any reason..

Response to “The Fury of Overshoes”

When I read the poem titled The Fury of Overshoes by Anne Sexton, I wondered a lot. Because, I found similarity with the theme of this poem as I passed my childhood. Sexton describes that she was afraid of wolf under her bed in her childhood. Like her, I was also afraid of some objects which were both real and imaginary. For instance, I was scared when I saw black shadow of anything in my window-glass at night. May be that shadow was merely a shadow of leaves of a tree, but, it seemed to me as if it was the shadow of a ghost! Now I can understand that it was imaginary. Actually ‘ghost’ is nothing just an imagination of mind. Children are usually imaginative. When I was child, I also passed the same situation through my imagination though it was fictitious. Another similarity which I have found while reading this poem is that I wanted to grow up so much like the poet. I used to wear my mother’s saree and make-up myself as if I was already grown-up. I also wear my mom’s sandal-shoe and wanted to walk by imitating my mother’s walking style. It was a great amusement for me then because of my firm eagerness to grow older as soon as possible! I remember another thing which I used to do in my childhood days was to put an extra cloth over my hair and pretend that my hair was so long like my mother! (Though my hair was too short then!). I wanted to mimic the gestures of elders and practiced it in front of the mirror. Everything I did just to grow older because I thought that only grown-ups were eligible to enjoy all sorts of fun and entertainment. My mother rebuked me when I watched TV at study-time. That’s why I imagined myself in the position of elders. However, now I can realize that childhood is the most precious and innocent phase of human life which is free from limited boundary and huge responsibilities. I wish I could hold my childhood as long as possible, but it is not possible. Sometimes I want to return back to my childhood, and enjoy fully those days again which I miss as a grown-up. According to my feeling, The Fury of Overshoes is not only a poem to me but also a way to reminisce of my sweet childhood memories and savor those days quietly in my world which is hidden in my heart where still I am a child, not grown-up.

On Aging

          I feel Maya Angelou has a totally different attitude and interest towards aging as she has described On Aging. She says she does not need others’ chattering when she is sitting quietly and lonely. However, most of our grandparents want not to be alone and quit. They always expect someone, either their children or grandchildren to be talking to them and taking care of them. Most old people hate being alone in the last few days of their life. Therefore, it’s natural that they seek someone to share their thoughts, and they often reminisce their young days with their grandchildren. Most of the time they are worried that they are getting older with time.

          Angelou asks others not to bring her rocking chair when she becomes week and unable to climb the steps. In contrast to this, we can see most of the old people do not like to climb steps or do any sort of hard work when they are aged. They expect someone else’s support to do their own work. Their preference towards dependency than independency increases with aging.

          Angelou claims not to equate tired with laze. When others see her walking stumbling, she says that not her every last moment of life is gone. However, this is not what most old people think. They always equate laze with tired in order to find an excuse for not doing their work by themselves. Though, the old are in their sixties, they pretend as they are in their nineties. Old people never think that they are still the same young people with a little diminished nature: color of the hair, nature of the skin, strength of the bones, ability to do hard work, capacity of their lungs, fitness in their mentality, etc. In contrast, most of the old think that they have totally lost everything and hence, nothing remaining with them now, and are worried about that.

          However, I would like mention some words about my great grandmother. She has three children and none of them are living with her right now. She and my grandfather lived together; she alone took care of my grandfather until his death. Even after his death, she is still living by herself in the same house as she was before: doing the entire house hold chores having no servant at home. When we ask her to come with us, she never does. When we say that she is an exceptional old women, she retorts by telling being lonely is troubles and peaceful for her. Moreover, she also says so many things similar to Angelou. I suppose, my grandmother is another example to Angelou’s poem.

“The Fury of Overshoes” is a poem by Anne Sexton in which we read that she was afraid of the wolf when she was a child. What an interesting stage childhood is! Sometimes we are afraid of real things that are never ever gruesome and yet some other times, we are scared of imaginary things, things that have never ever existed, things which are just imaginations. I was afraid of the huge, traditional musical drum which is a special part of musical apparatus in Gilgit, the city where I grew up. I still remember when I was a child, there used to be frequent musical shows in the open, beautiful and the lush-green garden in front of our home. There would be a storm of people to entertain from the musical program. A particular instrumental piece would be played with fourteen small drums along with one big, circular drum that needed a robust man to hold it on his belly and play. For me, those musical shows were really fear-provoking. I don’t know how and who had incorporated the delusion in my mind that the large-sized drum can rush at me at any time, and can swallow me in a single gulp, or it may beat me with its sticks until I fell to the ground paralyzed, wounded and badly hurt. My siblings and mother tried hard so that I do not fear the drum, but their efforts brought no hope of freedom. Whenever there used to be a musical show in our garden, I would not have the courage to step out of the house. I would sit silently in my mother’s lap while she would try to appease me by every possible tactic. My family members, many relatives and the huge drummer himself strived hard to bring me out of the trouble. Unfortunately, the delusion had so deeply prevailed in my mind that their description of the drum as an object unable to move was totally implausible for me. Well, it affected me a lot. I was deprived of the charms of the music. I could not dance and enjoy the music with my friends. The days of the musical shows in our garden would be among the worst days of my childhood. Being overwhelmed by the fear, I would not dare to step out of the home until the next day. I would be a topic of more special concern than usual for my relatives and neighbors in common and for my family members in particular on the days when music could be played in our garden. I would pray to God: “Allah papa, please make the drum afraid as it frightens me or take it away.”

On Aging

Isa is a little girl and lives in a join family. She is very close to her grandfather. Her parents are very busy with their works. They don’t have time to take care of their children. She loves and misses her parents too much, but she never be upset because she has an old friend (her grandfather). She plays and spends her times with him. One day Isa return from school and don’t find her grandfather at home. After that she has come to know that her parents send her grandfather to old home. Her parents are unknown about the love between the grandchild and grandfather. Now she became alone and doesn’t talk to anyone. A few days later she got fever and became sick. Although doctors tried their best, but their medicine doesn’t work. Her parents become worried. Then doctor advised her parents to get back her grandfather. Doctor’s advice works faster than medicine and Isa recovers.

This anecdote is a common event in most families. Children want love and care. Sometimes parents become so busy with their work that they don’t try to understand their children, but grandparents do. Although they are old people, they can read their grandchild’s mind. Furthermore, they can solve the misunderstanding between children and parents. When people become old it does not mean they are useless for the family. Actually they are the asset for our family as well as our society, because they are experienced. They had passed their life by observing the truth of living. Moreover, their valuable advice can help us to solve several problems. In western countries, it becomes a culture that people often send their parents to old homes when they crossed sixty. They equivocate old with child. Sometimes they forget that age changes, but relations don’t change. When they were child they (old parents) cared them, when they were hungry they fed them, when they were afraid they hold their hand and when they cried they sang lullaby.

Maya Angelou, one of the esteemed voices of literature. According to her poem “On Aging”, she wants to tell everyone that old is not useless. It is true that age losses their ability to work, but they are not burden; they want care not sympathy. Though they are old still they are our near ones, so Instead of sending those to old homes take care of them.