Hello, Women’s Day!

Hello, women’s day! We meet again. It’s been a year since we celebrated you and declared how important you are in our lives and we have a made big circle around the sun. Today, we come back to you with eager expectations, grand achievements, deep expressions of gratitude, as well as silent protests, deeply wounded hearts and we come back with the souls of our sisters who have been stripped off of their lives, dignity and humanity.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is, “Be Bold for Change” – #beboldforchange. Pondering on the theme, it seeks men and women who are agents of pragmatic action and continue to call out injustice against the girls and women of our society. Be Bold – courageous words of empowerment that drives us to work harder for rights of a woman. It calls for people to be brave together in combating patriarchy and denouncing the evils of oppression. Change is constant. Change is necessary.

The last year, like the last decades and the last centuries, has seen the achievements of exceptional  women around the world in many aspects. With times changing economically and the world becoming more globalized and revolutionized, women, are still paid less, made to walk miles and miles to fetch water, discriminated for their gender, caste, race, womanhood and the list goes on. Yet, we don’t surrender and the struggles are real and they continue fiercely than ever before. I believe it is the sheer power and resilience of women that has brought the movement this far. Women around the world join hands in protest to all forms of oppression and injustices. Technology, hashtags and selfies are broadly used to propagate their exasperation and send clear messages to this world.

To me, the past year has been an amazingly meaningful journey as a woman and a young mother. Being in a society which is seemingly moving forward, it still has vile traces of hostility towards women who express their freedom. I have had the privilege of meeting some extra ordinary women this past year who work for gender justice and who lift each other up. It is my hope that we will focus on what is real, what has to be done, how we will work together to form an inclusive society. It is also my responsibility to raise my sons as feminists who will stand up for the rights of women.

Here’s a shout out to men and women celebrating women and saying NO to violence against women. Together, we can make this round around the sun, louder, passionate and successful!

Happy Women’s Day, sisters!

Happy 2, Rafu!

Happy birthday, my wild child!

You are two today!

May your life be filled with balloons and guitars and all things that bring joy to your heart. May there always be sunshine on cloudy days and rainbows when there’s rain. May you always have that sparkle in your eyes that ignites happiness to those that surround you. You are intelligent, creative, naughty, stubborn, a drama queen and so much more. We love you just the way you are (although, I don’t like your tantrums) and will be there to help you grow with faith, hope, love, humility, empathy and grace.

The whole universe is yours darling and may you explore every beach, climb every mountain, touch as many lives and never lose the naughtiness in your spirit.

We will always be there to hold you when you need comfort, pick you up and walk beside you every step but my darling, you will have to lead the way. Be independent and never let anyone hold you back.

Lots of love,

Amma

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Raphael

“Raphael? But his elder brother has a beautiful Indian name!”

This is usually the reaction of many people as we introduce our second son.

Raphael is an angel and the name means “God has healed”.

Our second son Raphael was born on 18 December 2013 in Chennai. After a some what complicated pregnancy, he was born one month before he was due and so he needed some time in the neo natal intensive care unit. He needed to start breathing on his own without oxygen and he was out there with tubes and IVs all over him. A heart breaking moment for any parent to go witness their new born’s battle for survival. His father and I were not able to hold him for several days. On 24 December, the doctors told us that his jaundice was too high and that he got an infection in the NICU. Our world came crashing down as each day, there was no sign of hope. Though the doctors couldn’t do anything and I, his mother who carried him for 36 weeks was helpless, there was faith that stood strong. The whole world was preparing for the birth of Christ and here I was, feeling like my world was crashing. But I still managed to keep faith and to pray for our little boy. On 25 December, at midnight we got a call from the doctors to go and see our little boy and that I could feed him! His jaundice had come down and the infection was under control and I could finally hold him in my arms. He fought his battle hard and came out strong and that moment will always be the best moment in my life. It felt like Christmas again! It felt magical!

Raphael came home on 31 December, his father’s birthday and is 4 weeks old today and makes sure he gives me a couple of sleepless nights 🙂

Faith does not make promises as it is upto us to believe or not. In a world of pain and suffering, when there is a magical moment, it is a reminder that God is still holding us. This piece is not a call for belief but it’s a mother’s story of the birth of Raphael, our angel who was healed by God.

Amen.

For everyone born by Shirley Erena Murray

For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star over head.

Refrain:Cross and bowl

And God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace;
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice, justice, and joy.

For woman and man, a place at the table,
revising the roles, deciding to share,
with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
for woman and man, a system that’s fair. Refrain

For young and for old, a place at the table,
a voice to be heard, a part in the song,
the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
for young and for old, the right to belong. Refrain

For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free.

 Photo courtesy: Daphne Martin-Gnanadason

Lessons from a little heart…

When our three-year old son Karthik, witnessed the passing away of his dear grandfather last week, he had several questions like any toddler would have. He knew that Jonathan thatha (his paternal grandfather) was no more and that he has gone forever. For a child to understand “gone forever” is both beautiful and important. Important because he would not live with the expectation of seeing his thatha tomorrow and beautiful because he hides wonderful memories in his little heart and he remembers the lessons that thatha had taught him in his sharp mind.

When Karthik saw his thatha lying peacefully in a cold freezer box, he asked us how thatha could go to God if we put him in a box. He was upset that we did not open the box to let him go. His question may be innocent but it helped me reflect on a very important issue in life. Sometimes, we find it hard to let go of our anger and hatred and we let our hearts turn icy and cold but we try to convince ourselves that we are free souls. But, how can we be liberated if we do not let go of feelings that hold us back from being peaceful? I am grateful that my son taught me this very important lesson on one of the saddest days of my life.

Later, when the wooden coffin arrived, he said, “Look, the boat has come to take thatha to God“.  To me, this is one of the most beautiful imagery about passing on. We sail across the mysterious ocean of life and we move on to the ocean of eternal life. We don’t know if the winds are going to be rough or smooth but what we know is that we all travel through the waters of life and love.

 

Break the chain: ONE BILLION RISING

 

One In Three Women On The Planet Will Be Raped Or Beaten In Her Lifetime.

One Billion Women Violated Is An Atrocity.

One Billion Women Dancing Is A Revolution.

We at the Ecumenical Centre will dance and rise on February 14 at 12.30 to break the chain of violence committed against women.

This is a call for our sisters and brothers to STRIKE, DANCE and RISE and prove that women’s rights are human rights!

Rape is not a hot topic

Rape is not a hot topic in India but a cruel reality. The widely spread news about the gang-rape and death of a young medical student in New Delhi in December 2012 has stirred an uproar in urban and rural India. The response from across the country stunned me as this particular incident stood out as a story of courage and struggle when hundreds of dalit women and children are raped and killed everyday in India. However, I am glad that people have come together to address rape culture and the struggle of this young woman has become a symbol of hope and courage. Every revolution has a beginning and this could be one..

Rape is not just happening in India. It happens everywhere and it happens every day. It is not just a sexual act of violence that is physical..it scars souls. I am not sure if this brutal act excites rapists sexually, but I am sure this is an act of power that men use to showcase their weak strength.  The power a man feels while raping a girl on a moving bus must be so thrilling that it overshadows the reality of life and respect. Not just respect for the woman but also his self-respect.

If the society treats women as mere objects of desire, oppression, violence and sexual gratification, this is the lesson we are passing on to the next generation. We need to challenge the patriarchal system which blames women for getting raped and start promoting concepts of positive masculinities. Our society needs to empower men and liberate them from chains of patriarchy and power. To promote mutual respect and positive understanding of sexuality is a social responsibility and this can help put an end to all forms of sexual harassment. There are no easy answers but we can work towards making India a country where women’s rights become human rights and not just a dream. We have lots of good men..we just need more!