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.

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.

 

Love to love like a child!

Today is Children’s Day in India. We all are aware of the amazing grace children have. They are blessed with unconditional grace  to laugh open-heartedly, cry and scream with a passion, run fearlessly, pray with sincerity and love with a pure heart. Children have hearts that speak the truth and minds that follow their heart. They are already born with a mind to think which some people fail to understand. As Khaled Hosseini said, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors”.  As adults, our responsibility is to teach them to think, to question and to say no to people who hurt them. Sometimes, we overwhelm our children with excess love that we hold them back from reality.

I could write pages about how to love a child. I could also write pages about how people hurt children. According to the World Health Organization report on child abuse, approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused. A recent research in India has shown that as many as 53 per cent, or one in every two children, are victims of child sexual abuse. Sadly, many children are scarred for lives because of adults who strip their respect, dignity and their joy of life. In addition to educating children and encouraging them to be brave enough to say No to abuse, we need to be sensitive, vigilant and attentive to their little whispers of pain and signs of abuse.

When I asked Karthik (our three year old son), what love is, he once said that “love is like coffee…because you love coffee and you love me”. A child is born with enough love to teach us to love. And love for them is not about the most expensive toy you can buy but it is about teaching them to love life and to care for others. Let us love to love and be strong advocates for children’s rights. It is not only children that need to learn about their rights but adults who need to know that children are neither sex toys nor toy soldiers. They are born to live!