Princess Diana and Mother Teres – The Two Sides of a Coin Called Love-

Almost twenty years ago, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died almost at the same time, and the world experienced not only a sudden blooming of love but also a boom of it. The world burst into tears, barriers broke down and released a barrage of blocked emotions. It was like the world dared to confess in unison what it really longed for: the total woman as symbol of love.

They had appeared in two bodies, yet formed a unity: the princess who dared, the mother who cared, respectively the princess who cared and the mother who dared. Though their backgrounds and careers could not have been more different, they had one thing in common: They became unique role models, who in the affairs of love, respectively the service of it, broke away from the prevailing social conventions and grew out of them.

Diana was born with a silver spoon, yet vomited the food, which was served  on it,  as it threatened to suffocate her. Brimming with beauty and youth, she felt personally rejected inspite of it.

Almost at the end of her strength, she searched for a way out until she, finally, found it. She worked hard to add strength to her beauty or cloak her strength in her beauty. Like a Phoenix, she rose from the ashes of her failed illusions and used her growing popularity to offer her services as benefactress to mankind.

Teresa was not born with a silver spoon, and the property she left behind consisted of little more than a tin bowl. She also neither seemed to possess a determinable age nor tangible figure. Far away from her home country, she dared to enforce in India orthodox catholic thinking in times, when overpopulation seemed to demand birth control rather than the ‘damage control’ of its neglect.  She presented herself as a one-woman-institution, who took the burdens of the world onto her shoulders and by doing so gained its admiration, yet did not encourage it to make efforts of its own. To quote a Chinese proverb: ‘Charity is a cover for a multitude of sins’.

Diana and Teresa were an odd couple of exceptional women whom, once their achievements and star-quality were recognized, the media and donors developed into larger-than-life images, icons to be revered and further promoted. Their images grew ever larger and the association with them ever more profitable. ‘Here a hug, there a hug, everywhere a hug-hug’ seemed to be the tune to which they finally danced. Their image, however, partially blurred their real substance. They had become one huge photo opportunity, which sold well, till the end. The beautiful princess for a public that craved romance in all its shades and the withering nun to politicians and an assortment of social activists and climbers, who used her as bait for all the publicity donations could buy.

The glorification of rulers of times bygone had been replaced by a personality cult around two women who did not force their will on others, but opened the doors to their hearts. What surprises me, however, is the fact that Princess Diana and Mother Teresa symbolize eexactly the traits ‘modern women’ have themselves or have been emancipated from: sexy allure and self-sacrificing motherly love. The princess and the mother were in combination the dream of a ‘superwoman of yesteryear’, the holy grail of female essence, the vessel, into which every man would like to sink. It is a vessel more and more women have escaped from. What has remained, however, is a longing, a dream, a memory – of love and a safe haven.

With the death of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa the world bemoaned its own unfulfilled dream – the dream to love and be loved.

 

 

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Interview with Roswitha Joshi

First of all, I would like to welcome you in the Literary World. Being capable of expressing feelings in the form of words is itself an achievement. Here, at WordCurd we would like you to express y…

Source: Interview with Roswitha Joshi

Just a Human Being

Just a Human Being

by Roswitha Joshi

 

The more I read about equality as a goal to be achieved by changes of law and attitude and the more I read about modern man’s rediscovery of spirituality as antidote against materialism-induced stress, the more I remember my grandfather who, decades ago, lived his life free of bias and burden of useless possessions.

Grandfather was the son of a small farmer in the backwoods of Germany when feudalism was still ruling the roost and chances were very unequal indeed. Yet, the teacher in his village-school ‘discovered’ him as a sharp brain and dispatched him to town for further studies. There he picked up a variety of interests and skills on the personal level. And, on the professional one, he took up an assignment as sports-instructor, and then joined the police force. With an equally industrious and enterprising wife by his side, he became prosperous.

This prosperity, however, did not last. In the twenties, the big inflation caused the loss of grandfather’s entire savings. The value of money, in fact, went down to such an extent that some people wallpapered their rooms with it, and had to spend millions of marks to purchase a mere loaf of bread. During the subsequent world war, grandfather’s real estate was bombed out of existence. And, yet, he never lost his belief in the inherent goodness of man.

As police officer, he missed out on promotions because he refused to fine minor miscreants. Punishment he regarded as the very last resort. His approach was to try to reform people before they entered jail. And, thus, he confined himself to explaining why some deeds were misdeeds and should better be left undone. What he missed out on were titles and monetary benefits. But what he gained, in spite of constant nagging by more ambitious and less able family members, was a lot of genuine respect and affection, which kept him warm and smiling until the last days of his life.

Long before Indira Gandhi made it her slogan, grandfather believed in ‘self-sufficiency is the best policy’, and his most valued possessions were his toolbox and basic medical kit. They enabled him to lead a life of variety, in the course of which he acted as amateur cobbler, amateur carpenter, amateur doctor, etc… The term ‘amateur’, by the way, is derived from the Latin word ‘amare’ to love, and an amateur is, thus, a person who acts out of love, not for material gain.

Grandfather, however, was often in trouble with my father who believed that ‘man should be man’, whatever that means – and greatly disapproved of grandfather’s ‘effeminate’ pursuits. I vividly remember the day when grandfather and I had shared a delicious meal – cooked, of course, by him – and then settled down to an afternoon of cozy togetherness. Our soundtrack consisted of ‘golden oldies’ from the twenties which filled the air with their light, spunky texts and tunes.

Everything was just at its peaceful best – until father stormed unannounced onto the scene and turned to stone, to be exact: a barking stone.

“What are you doing?” he roared, glowering angrily at grandfather.

What had hit him was the sight of grandfather, round-faced and rosy-cheeked, expertly wielding his knitting needles, while I was squatting at his feet glued to the pages of an adventure-story.

“I am knitting a shawl,” grandfather quietly replied.

“Why do you do it?” father questioned.

“Because it is me who needs it.” grandfather calmly replied.  “This is a woman’s job,” father scornfully rejoined

“I beg to differ,” grandfather stated.

Well, for father knitting was a gender-issue, for grandfather just another tool of self-sufficiency.

However, grandfather knew ‘manly’ skills, too. He was kind enough to teach me some very useful ones, indeed, like opening doors with a pin and defending oneself by striking with a fast kick at the right place of the attacker’s shinbone. In elementary school, this ‘craft’ made me the wrestling champion, as I was able to defeat both – girls and boys.

My grandfather’s family name translated means ‘love’, and if the proverb ‘Once you have the name, you can have the game’ is to be believed, he was an ace-player indeed.

 

From Goat to Ghost – The Story of a Bag

From Goat to Ghost –The Story of a Bag

If you see me, a mere leather bag, lying in front of you, would you ever think that once upon a time I was a sprightly little goat jumping around on a juicy meadow dotted with white and yellow flowers? No, you would not. You would probably see me as nothing but a container of all those things precious to the madam with long legs and an even longer face, who spent a lot of money to buy me in a fancy shop at Delhi’s fashionable Khan Market. You know, that market were, bit by bit, all the old stores have disappeared to make room for shops that sell costly stuff – sorry, I mean luxury items – to those who can afford them.
Yet let us forget that crazy market and get back to me. Yes, once upon a time I was, indeed, alive and kicking and roamed over the fields amidst my brothers and sisters. A happy lot we were and lucky that we had our old herdsman, thin as a wire, who guided us to places where we could find fodder, and to find fodder was not always easy in Rajasthan, that desert land far away in Northern India.
For when the rains failed, what they often did, we had to walk many a mile and stretch our lean limbs as much as we could to pull down a few wrinkled leaves from the brittle branches of a half-dead tree. Yet, there were good times too. I mean those when the weather God was in a benign mood and granted us access to those juicy meadows dotted with white and yellow flowers that I had mentioned before. Oh, how beautiful they were! And how tasty!
It all ended one fine – or rather not so fine – day, when a fat man with a soft moon-face and stony little eyes came to our village and pulled out bundles of money from a shabby leather pouch that dangled from the belt of his ill-fitting pants and waved them before the tired eyes of our old herdsman. He waved and waved, came nearer and nearer until his money almost brushed against the cheeks of our herdsman, who stood there as wooden and speechless as a totem pole. He stood like this for a very long time rooted to the ground he belonged to, just like us. His mouth did not utter a sound, but his stomach started to rumble. It obviously rumbled with hunger, while the fellow with the bunch of money danced before him the dance of mammon.
Here I should mention that our herdsman had become thinner and thinner over the years and his eyes duller and duller as he increasingly faced the problem of not only finding food for us, but also himself and his family. Sometimes I pitied the poor fellow – a wife, one son, three daughters, not to mention his ancient father. They all depended on him.
To cut a long story short, with tears streaming down his hollow cheeks, the old man finally could not resist the temptation any more, snatched the money and tugged it under his turban. Then, with a weak wave of his hand, he gestured to the fat man that we had become his, shrugged his shoulders and, head drooping, walked away – a lonely figure, getting smaller and smaller until he became invisible.
The fat man did not hesitate even for a second to whip us into the truck that had followed his car – a white car with a red light on top. You should have heard the noise we made. We bleated and bleated until we had no strength left to bleak. Yes, we were very much alive and kicking, before we ended up in the slaughterhouse later in the day. It was the worst day of my life and the last one too; but you know, my soul is still there. Somewhere floating around and wondering what has become of my body.
Well, what has become of my body is that my flesh ended up simmering as major ingredient of a spicy curry in a cooking pot and my skin, or rather hide, in the bag in front of you. It is a fancy bag with many pockets for all the items the madam, who owns me, thinks she needs to carry her through the day: her fat purse – probably made of one of my brothers or sisters or nieces or nephews skin -, her comb, her make-up kit, her assortment of lipsticks, her bunch of keys to keep all her possessions including rice and sugar under lock and key, her hanky – how I hate it when it is full of snot! God knows what else, – probably a lot of air and just, well, stuff.
What I like, however, is her cell phone. When it rings it vibrates and that tickles my funny bone, while the spunky tune makes me feel like dancing. But alas, only my soul – or should I say my ghost? – can dance. She also drops a book and her reading glasses into me, though I never see her reading. However, it is always the latest bestseller about to hit the stalls that she makes me carry in one of my compartments. For, you know, madam attends many book launches and gets a copy signed by the author there. She also attends many fashion shows where skeleton thin models parade before wealthy man with big paunches and their dieting wives and other fancy events to enjoy wine and cheese, meet friends and those who pretend to be friends and to show off.
Make an intelligent guess what she shows off. Yes, you got it right. She shows off me! Yes, yes, yes, she is very proud of me because I am a Louis Vuitton bag, and that is prestigious – at least in her circle of friends where all the madams vie with each other to have the latest designer bag and I am the latest model of one of the most expensive designers. Ha, what has become of me, I sometimes ask myself. II have mutated from goat to bag. What a fall from grace! What a destiny!
On the other hand, maybe I should be grateful or even proud because I could have also ended up as a shabby pouch dangling from the belt of a fat man who buys goats to sell to an even fatter man who makes bags.
Actually, to have become a bag gets my goat!

On Human Relations

On Human Relations           

 

New generations are growing up,

Devoid of pretence, sin and shame.

With shackle-free thoughts and pleasures to choose,

It’s to them I will one day proclaim.

                                   Heinrich Heine, German poet (1797 – 1856)

 

            Amongst the assorted word-shells hitting the headlines are two which give me the creeps, as they represent nothing but euphemisms, covering up and perpetuating an attitude, which assigns a status of inherent inferiority to women. They are ‘women’s upliftment’ and ‘women’s empowerment’. There is, however, a third one, which I hope, will crack wide open and release new dimensions to many a life of whatever gender. This is ‘human resource development’.

            Upliftment and empowerment are expressions, which denote the bestowing of a higher status to inferior beings by a superior outside force, and in this case to women by men. A bestowing from above resembles the distribution of alms, a kind but often condescending gesture on one hand, and an alleviation-cum-perpetuation of an existing power order, on the other.

            I regard gender equality as a natural right, inherent and perpetual. For me, the question is, therefore, not one of granting but of actively living equality, which can only be achieved by re-educating both sexes with an aim to change their attitude towards each other. This might turn out to be long and tedious process as it has to start right after a child is born. For parents should no longer receive boys into this world with a joyous ‘Ah!’ and girls with a disappointed ‘Bah!’ They should greet both with a happy ‘Hah!’

            Over the last decades it has become common, even fashionable, to speak of women’s issues. I doubt there are any women’s issues other than those faced by a gynaecologist, and even those are often related to men. A child produced is the product of a male and female fusion. A child reared is the product of male and female contributions. If a boy turns into a macho, it is not only because his macho father served as his natural role model, but because his mother uncritically accepted her husband’s domineering demeanor and, thereby, helped to pass it on to their child.

            According to a statistic, 80% to 90% of Indian women are estimated to be anemic and that mainly due to the fact that they eat only after the male members of the family have satisfied their appetite, or differently expressed: the women feed on leftovers. This is a particularly odd phenomenon as in most cases the women of the house cook the food and, thus, get plenty of opportunities to taste it in the process. Has one ever heard of an anemic male cook? Here again, it is the accepting attitude of women which has contributed to the perpetuation of the pecking order.

            Why do women accept it? One of the major reasons might be that they just lack the strength to shake and change it. As I know from personal experience, anemia is a very devious and debilitating decease, as it does not manifest itself in obvious wounds, but bleeds away enthusiasm and energy and with it the vigor to strive for change.

            Another big issue is the demand of dowry for a marriageable girl. If her family accepts the demand, it is a man, namely her father, who has to beg, borrow or steal to provide the monetary and material assets. If a woman is raped it is not only she who has been raped, but also the honor of her family, including the men. And so on.

            There is no gender-specific issue. All gender issues are ‘bisexual’, for both sexes are in one or the other way interlinked. Consequently, a forward movement is only possible if both, men and women, are prepared to move in the same direction and do not hamper each other, directly or indirectly.

            Lived out equality is a daily process of assertion which in practical terms means, women have to be prepared to think independently, draw their own conclusions, set priorities of their own choice and summon the courage to implement them.  No state authority or charitable organization can do this for them. Each individual woman has to carry it out herself in accordance with her specific circumstances, aspirations and means.

            Thus, the theatres for lived out equality will ultimately not be conference halls or other production units of learned papers, but home and working places. It requires a lot of mental and physical strength to play this vital act of life’s drama. For it could mean a lengthy uphill struggle converting a peaceful home into a battleground. Here, there is not magic wand in the form of reservation or similar proposals. If ever implemented, they can only provide a legal frame. The picture within the frame, however, each woman has to create herself, even if it means changing the existing one and infringing on male territory.

            Women, however, are brought up – again mostly by their mothers – to be ‘nice’ girls and being nice means to conform in a self-effacing or self-denying manner to the prevailing social norms. Being nice (‘n’ like ‘nincompoop’) is projected as accomplishment and verbally honored as worthy female sacrifice. I personally experienced this phenomenon when a male relative, comfortably reclining on a sofa opposite me, pontificated on the subject of how women in India are worshipped and put on a pedestal, while his wife was crawling around, wiping the floor. I am not particularly proud of the fact that the divine beauty of the picture he painted with words impressed me so much that I failed to see the demeaning one, moving right before my eyes!

            Even if a woman is well educated, well placed, earning well and, thus, outwardly successful, those attributes might not enhance her status within the family. I know quite a number of ladies, who, after a full day’s work at their office, do a second shift at home, which is not, like in the case of housewives, spread over the day but compressed and, therefore, far more stressing. Complaints about the double-burden are more likely to elicit comments like “Who told you to work outside the home anyway?” from the husband than a helping hand or a pat on the shoulder. It is comments like this, which rob women of a sense of achievement and pleasure and saddle them instead with feelings of guilt, futility and a broken spirit, only held together by a deeply ingrained sense of duty.

            Therefore, if a woman wants to lead a life beyond home and family, she has to face the fact that the quality of her life will improve only if the man in her life shares not just theoretically her outlook but the consequences of the same as well. This means that he does not only play his part in child production but in child rearing and housekeeping as well. Even today, very few men are prepared to do that on a regular basis. More often, they act like volunteers of a charitable organization, who shell out a piece of chocolate to a needy child.

            Many a times, Indian male friends have told me with a benign smile that I am “just like an Indian wife”, which, for years, I took as a compliment for I assumed it to mean that I looked in a pleasantly competent manner after the homestead and its inmates. One fine day, however, I could not resist fishing for further compliments and asked, “Why?” Pat, came the reply, “You are so submissive.” And it is this glorified submissiveness which pulls women down, because it represents a surrender of their own personality and aspirations to men, whose arrogance might manifest itself at best, in a benignly patronizing attitude and at worst, in crude macho behavior.

            Male arrogance and female submissiveness are attitudes almost taken for granted as they have been perpetuated over generations. Before they do not go, one cannot even think about a meaningful, lived-out equality for all, and not just symbolically bestowed tokens of benevolence to accommodate or shut up selected groups of eloquent ‘power-women’.

            To change an entire population’s attitude towards each other might take generations and can be made possible only if there is a political will, strong enough to create a desire for renewal in everybody’s mind and soul. Charismatic role models of both sexes, educational programs, films that depict love and courage instead of melodramatic outbursts are some of the means, which might contribute towards this aim. A special role will thereby fall on primary teachers, who, in the spirit of ‘you have to catch the young’, will have to spearhead an educational movement, aiming at the resource development of human beings irrespective of their gender. Only a humanistic evolution like this carries the potential to create a basis, on which men and women could live and appreciate each other as true equals.

              e-mail: roswithajoshi@hotmail.com,  website: www. roswithajoshi.com

The Panther by …

The Panther by ….

The Panther by …

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated from German into English by Roswitha Joshi

 

Passing an unending chain of bars,

His tired eyes cease to behold.

He feels there are a thousand bars to pass,

Yet behind thousand bars, no worlds unfold.

 

The smooth gait of those strong and lissome paces,

Those narrow circles he roams prove his bind,

A power dance around a central basis,

In which stands numb and dazed great strength of mind.

 

Rare are the times the curtain lifts

To let an image sift into his inner lair.

And while through frozen limbs it shifts,

At heart it ceases to be there.

 

Mumbai Aug.Sept. 2012 023

Mumbai Aug.Sept. 2012 023

Julius Kerner (…

Julius Kerner (1786 – 1862)

 

 

Poesie ist tiefes Schmerzen,

Und es kommt das echte Lied

Einzig aus dem Menschenherzen,

Das ein tiefes Leid durchglüht.

 

Poetry is profound sorrow

And the truest of all songs

Rises from heart’s deepest burrow,

Glowing in pain’s fire-tongs.

 

Doch die höchsten Poesien

Schweigen wie der höchste Schmerz,

Nur wie Geisterschatten ziehen

Stumm sie durchs gebrochne Herz.

 

As deepest pain cries without sound

So does poet’s greatest art,

Haunts as shadow through the dead ground

That is known as broken heart.

Anand and Adamo – A Mod…

Anand and Adamo – A Modern Fairy Tale

There are fairy tales and magical moments in life, but – alas! – they happen only rarely. Yet, as they do occur occasionally, we never cease to hope that one day the Almighty – or whosoever is in charge of miracles might favor us with one. In Anand’s case, a rather stylish triple-wonder happened. That is how:
As is the habit of wives, his better half had rushed into a shop just for a little while, or so she had claimed, pulling their little daughter behind her. The desire to increase her worldly possessions was written all over her pretty face, while boredom was written all over Anand’s as he first patiently, then irritably waited for their return at the curb. They did not pop up.
Instead, just when Anand was about to fall asleep behind the wheel, someone in a rented car knocked at his window asking for directions. A rather tired Anand first kept sitting while explaining, yet suddenly felt a rush of kindness surging through his being and got out of the car not only to be able to communicate better, but to physically point the guy into the right direction.
That done, the recipient of his kindness not only professed eternal gratitude, but introduced himself after a few minutes of small talk as Adamo from Italy, a fashion designer with Armani, and gave his card.
He further claimed that Armani had held a show in Dubai the previous night, which Anand knew to be true, as he – every inch the fashionista – had personally attended it. Adamo then said that at the end of the show his boss had given him three suits as fringe benefit. They were, however, too big for his smallish frame, but would be perfect for Anand’s bigger one.
His tiredness gone, Anand’s eyes grew big, as Adamo opened the back door of his car and pulled out three suits, all in Armani bags, and made Anand try one jacket on. The fit was just right.
Being a bit suspicious by nature and very aware of the baser aspects of human nature, Anand’s first thought was that this was a trick case in the making and very curious about how Adamo would proceed.
Well, Adamo pointed out that he did not exactly want to sell these items, but needed some money to buy a birthday gift for his secretary who sat in the car smiling a million-dollar-smile. Moreover, her birthday happened to be today. Anand instantly rushed to her side and wished her many happy returns.
Adamo winked that from him she expected a bit more than good wishes, namely an I-phone, for which he did, after all, need some cash. While Anand smelled more of an opportunity than a rat, his wife and daughter joined him.
Under their critical eyes, he told Adamo that he did not carry more than the equivalent of 200 Euro, what would cover barely half the cost of an I-phone. He did not want to risk more in case this episode would turn out to be just one hoax in the line of the many hoaxes occurring these days.
To his surprise and delight, Adamo handed him all three suits for a price that – fake or no fake – was worth paying for three well fitting suits. As he had ogled Armani suits and felt their material quite often in shops he knew that there they would cost about 30 times more than he had shelled out. And, what the hell, even if they were fakes, they were still a smart investment.
With the grin of a cat that had just swallowed a mouse, he told me the moral of the story was that it did not cost much to be nice to strangers. I did not say anything but thought that with his good looks and poise even the cheapest outfit would look like a genuine Armani.