Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When the flood gates opened

She held it in for so many days
She didn’t know she could at the beginning
Then she thought she would forever
But it wasn’t going to stay bottled in
The sobs that were caught in her throat
The tears that had been brutally blinked away
All waited to gush out

An almost friend who wouldn’t fight for her
The father who blamed her for what was obviously not her fault
The patriarchy
The friend who pointed out her flaws
(Maybe he always did, but hey! Terrible timing this)
Work pressure on and off
The fights that people decided to pick just then
The grandma who was disappointed
The weight that just wouldn’t decrease, darn it!
To do lists that didn’t seem to end
The bank balance, and the salary day so far off!

Maybe any of these by themselves
Even many at a time
Might have been battles win-able
But all at the same time
Steely forge ahead, she did
Even win many an argument along the way
Pretended she didn’t care about
What she shouldn’t be caring about
But take a toll on her, it did

So then it happened
She got up to shower
Just started walking from one room to another
Some last piece of hay from somewhere fell
The floodgates were opening, she could tell

She hurriedly closed the door behind her
Out came a tear, then another
A sob escaped to become a wail

What could she do
Apart from just let go.
Played music to drown the sound of weeping
Fall against the wall, and hope it would swallow her whole
Feeling the hot tears flowing out
The bawling hurting her throat
And yet,
To cry like one’s own heart mourning
To cry like a little piece of her was crushed
Lost, and alone
Wishing for a hug
No clue about how long the sniveling would continue
Even a bit clueless about how broken she was
Because she had used all her strength
In keeping it all together
Every little piece
Even as it cracked
And some shattered
She cried because she could hold on no longer
She cried because she’d hoped someone would help her
But they all had their own battles to face
Their own pieces to hold together
Their own sobs to suppress
So she let herself fall apart by herself
Not questioning if she could put it all back together again
Not caring, not right then

She cried so her heart would stop aching
And eyes stop burning

She cried and let it all out

Did everything become alright again?
Probably not
But who cared
Right then, even she didn’t have to
And that was just fine.
She was all cried out.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

A hand in hers

"I'm HUNGRRRYYYYY" he exclaimed again loudly, tugging at the seat belt.
The fact that he had eaten almost half a cake just twenty minutes ago didn't seem to change anything.
For an eight-year-old, he was still much smaller than most of his counterparts in his age. So his feet didn't reach the floor of the car. Far from, and they were now kicking at the seat.
Anna knew another silent tantrum was coming up. So she tried to mentally calm herself and concentrate on the road.
"Just a haircut, and I'll get you ice cream" She tried
"I don't need a haircut. It's fine. I need food" He declared
It wasn't fine. It was at least six inches long.
"They'll cut it really quick Noah. If not, your head will itch"
"It won't. You're making that up. You just want to punish me." He said and went quiet.
It wasn't loud or exclamatory this time. He sounded like he believed it.

Noah had come into their lives just about two weeks ago.
Josh and Anna had tried and finally accepted that they will not be able to have children of their own. It had been a long journey from that acceptance to considering adoption, But things had gone quickly from then. A little too quickly since the priest had recommended Noah - a bright and spirited kid - the priest had said, and earnestly requested them to give the little boy a home.
They had spent a long sleepless night considering it. It was a fact that when considering adoption, they had believed it would take a lot longer and that they would be getting an infant - not a fully grown child. And she had secretly hoped for a baby girl. At dawn, they had finally decided to go meet the boy and decide. They made that very clear to the priest as well.

Noah was a scruffy little kid who had said nothing and just stared at them. He hated haircuts, they were told. He didn't seem to look happy or sad about meeting them. Just a little impatient. He had liked the car that Josh had picked up for him and all but grabbed the chocolate from Josh's hand even before it was offered.
It had been love at first sight for Josh, and she had reluctantly agreed.

They had brought Noah home a week after that meeting. None of the adoption formalities had been completed, but the home administrators were more than happy to let Noah go to his "New Home"

In the two weeks that Noah had been with them, Noah had been rather quiet the first week. Not saying much. Over the last week or so, he had started demanding things.
It was always "Do this, or take me back". She understood that he felt insecure about his presence there, and was probably unsure about the permanence of this new arrangement. She wanted to give him time and make him comfortable. But no matter how much she tried, she didn't seem to have that rapport with him that Josh had already built. Noah and she seemed to tread on egg shells when dealing with each other. And today was the first time she was taking him out alone.

To her, that was a huge event, and it was not at all going as planned.

"It's just a haircut, Noah. How can that be punishment?" she asked as she backed into the parking slot.
He said nothing.
When she undid her seat belt, he made no move to get out. So she went around the other side and opened the door for him.

"Is it because I broke that plate yesterday?" his little voice shook
"What?"
Anna had always believed she was good with kids and that she was ready to be a mother. After Noah coming into their life however , she doubted every maternal instinct she ever believed that she had felt. What sort of a monster mother wished she hadn't had the child she had been given? - This thought had plagued her along with the all the helplessness and disconnect she was feeling.

All that doubt had probably seeped into her voice.  That or something else made Noah quietly get off the car.
She offered her hand. He didn't take it but stayed close when she let the hand fall and walked on ahead.

As they sat, she looked at the little head that was downcast now. She had forgotten about that broken plate. It had been a nice plate, but nothing important. She had known that he had dropped it by accident, and had just given him another plate of food. She was certain she had not expressed or felt any anger then.

When they were called in for the appointment, she took his hand and stood up. This time, he let his hand stay in hers.

They walked together quietly to the high chair for kids. She helped Noah sit on it, and saw the tears in his eyes. They seemed quietly resigned but so sad at the same time. She wanted to hug him close and tell him it's okay. He was her baby now. But she didn't know how he would take it. If he pushed her off, she didn't know how she would take it. Josh would have probably done this better, she thought sadly.

Just when she was about to step back to the couch to wait, Noah caught her sleeve. His eyes were swimming with tears now.
"Can I hold your hand? Will you stay"

With her throat choked, she could only nod and manage a small smile as she picked his hands up.

He held on tight the entire time and had his eyes closed.

When it was over, she tugged at him and asked him to get off.

"It's over?!" he seemed surprised
"Yes, it's just a haircut. Why do you hate them?"
The look he gave her was solemn, a little too old for his age, and serious. He seemed to be considering her.
"Back there, the older kids cut our hair. And when I do something wrong, they guy who cuts my hair snips my ear to punish me," he said matter of factly.

The urge to pull him into that hug was back. But he didn't look ready yet.

"I won't let anyone snip your ear or hurt you" she promised, softly stroking his little ear.

He looked like he might consider believing her. That she decided was a huge step forward.
Not bad for first time out alone.

"So we're going for ice cream now right?"
He looked like an eight year old again. A smiling one at that.

"Obviously" she smiled back.

This time, it was him who placed his hand in hers. She held on tight.




The Internet, The Things and The People

The world is not what it used to be. We're more connected for starters. It's now possible to stay in touch with someone at the other end of the world in real time and at a fraction of the cost of yesteryears.

In the last 2.5 ...3 decades, the Internet has come up from an idea to a concept, and now to the established, unshakeable reality that it is today. Withdrawals and addiction to the internet have become common. That said, we the users cannot deny that it does make the world an easier place for us to live in.

A little too easy at times. We don't have to get lost, lesser things get lost in translation, the limelight covers a far wider region than it used to, we stay in touch with many more friends! (The quality of those relationships is another debate) Yes, the internet is a double-edged sword - but more and more of a necessary evil. One that is now spreading its wings wider.

I heard about the Internet of Things in a serious context less than a year ago. Conceptually, it's not very different from things AI movies have shown us. It involves getting the internet incorporated in many of the basic things we use, making them smarter. Helping them customize every experience we have.


The internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.In 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as "the infrastructure of the information society."The IoT allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure,  creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit.
-
Source Wikipedia

Imagine a world where you can check your gas or if you've turned off the iron box, or if you've locked your house from anywhere you are. A world where the chair knows who is sitting on it, and adjusts itself to fit the sitter. A car that can offer you the best possible route for your trip, possibly even drive itself. Cars that communicate with each other and the roads - the ecosystem in general - such that accidents are greatly reduced.

A world where your kitchen communicates with your grocer - automatically generating orders of necessities to be restocked.

Such a world is not very far in our future.
However, there are quite a few parts of that that bother me.

The Things that become smarter first will not be decided on the priority of our needs, but the investment capability of the conglomerates who will be researching it. Yes, they will do some customer research ... but come on, we know how that works.

The Nations that progress will be the already developed ones. And with the speed of technology development, it leaves a wider gap between the developed and the developing. Already quite noticeable.

A similar situation for the People who have access to this technology. So much more since private schools have quickly started adopting Smart Classrooms. E-Assignment submissions are the norm in most of the elite schools. Paperless offices are picking up.

That is one side of the coin, whereas the other side has kids with no access to basic school supplies and workers are drowning in paper work and doing manual labour which has been mechanized elsewhere.

The Internet Service Providers are looking for ways to put the internet in many more places - connecting everything into one, solving many problems and giving rise to new ones - The service providers look for ways to increase the reach of the internet.

India is the second most populous nation in the world. By sheer numbers, it might easily be on the top 5 list of Nations with the most number of smartphone users. But by ratio we've only covered a quarter of the nation.
There are countries which have reached the higher 80s or early 90s in coverage and have the bandwidth to cover the rest.

That means that 75% of the nation still has no access to the internet. They don't know what Google is. They don't know if it's a noun or a verb. They don't know what email is. Even if they do, they don't have a way to use it.

I recently went to a discussion that Aircel lead regarding the propagation of use of smartphones - because, let's face it, that's the easiest and cheapest way to get the internet reach the masses. The government has definitely been helping in making cheaper smartphones available for all. Service providers are doing their bit and for phone signals to reach even the hamlets. Aircel, for instance, has been providing free internet for the first six months of starting their service. Nice way to get people hooked, don't you think?

I look forward to the day that internet reaches almost everyone. Not because I'm a strong supporter, but because I do believe the Internet provides substantial power in terms of connectivity to the world, and it should be a balanced power.
(However, the affordability and the buying power does play a strong part, I know)
I also hope that this happens a little faster before too many things get woven in the web - making the catch-up run more difficult !

But let's face it, my wishes are idealistic.
There are bigger powers at play here. Much like during the times when we had monarchies and kingdoms ruling the world.

We watch, speculate, comment and wonder what next and when!