I’m a big sister with a big responsibility

I stopped at my usual spot, the roadside tender coconut stall, after a particularly strenuous yoga session.

Now, this coconut stall  is owned by a family – a husband, a wife and a little girl – and the wife has become a good friend of mine. I have been frequenting their stall for many months now and akka has been really sweet to me.

It was only recently that the little girl plucked up the courage to come talk to me. And might I say, she is such a chatterbox! She would run up to my car window and peep in. She would bombard me with questions like – What is my name? Where do I work? What does my job entail?

Sometimes, she asked really difficult technical ones too: What was the light on my stereo used for? How do the a.c. vents work? How did it feel like to drive a car?

She was a proper little girl who wore her school pinafore, and had her hair down in two plaits, with the tails ending in matching ribbons and all. When I (occasionally) asked about her, she would demurely reply with single-worded answers.

I could see adoration in her eyes wherever she spoke to me. I recognized it because I have had the same look in my eyes, countless times.

I could tell that she was at an impressionable stage in life, and my words could influence her.

One day, I happened to ask her “Do you go to school regularly?” She replied, “Yes.”

The next statement at the tip of my tongue was “Nithya (name changed) , you should study well in school. You should study really hard, okay? Studies are very important.”

A lot of you might not understand what is wrong about this innocuous statement. I’ll make things clear.

Why did I assume that only studies can help her? Why not arts? Or sports? Why didn’t I ask her what she was interested in, before concluding that she had to study well?

Heck. How did I assume that she was NOT good at studies? 

And that was my big revelation. Thankfully, this thought hit me before I could give the poor girl a lecture on studies.

Disclaimer: I’m not against education. In fact, I’m a firm believer in primary and secondary education for kids. 

I simply assumed that she struggled with subjects at school. I simply took it for granted that if she didn’t pass her tests, she wouldn’t grow up to support and uplift her family.

When I break it down, my intention to encourage her was right. Her parents were doing their best, sending their only daughter to school while lumbering in the hot summer selling coconuts all day.

Yeah, I have to encourage the little girl. But I had no rights to steer her into a path she wasn’t interested in.

The biggest mistake I made was to assume the proverbial ‘big sister’ role and begin a lecture even before I knew this girl completely.

C’mon. I had only known her for what, 10 days, and I never bothered asking her what she ‘liked’. What if she was an artist? What if she was the next super singer? What if she was really good at sports ??

Of course, as a responsible adult, I do have the rights to tell her about the importance of education. But I should do it only, and I repeat, ONLY after getting to know her better.

We are at the edge of a paradigm shift. A Court denied alimony to divorcee woman because she is empowered to find a job for herself. There are celebrities who prefer ‘single motherhood’ over marriage. And then, there are young entrepreneurs and young creatives who prise themselves away from the society and blossoming on their own, in their niche.

It is awesome that we are sending kids to school and providing them with basic education. That’s amazing. That’s progressive. That also means that in 15 years, those children are going to hit the cul-de-sac of graduation – engineering. Then where’s the progress?

It is really important to identify an individual’s strength and do our best to encourage that. We have got to ask more questions. We probably have to ask a million questions before we can get close to an answer. But these million questions will help us in the long run.

Nithya and many more Nithya’s are quite shy. They hide their superpowers in their tiny little pinafores and their tiny little ribbons. 

I’m going back there tomorrow and figuring out who Nithya really is. I’m going to understand her better through her likes and dislikes and get to know her dreams. And then, I’m going to give her my big sister lecture.

 

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The Golden Compass [His Dark Materials #1] by Philip Pullman : A review

 

Ah! That feeling of reading a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping adventure. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Here’s a gist -> In Lyra’s world, Daemons are the soul-projections,in animal forms, of any human being.They are companions of the soul and the separation from their Daemon could even be fatal for that human.Lyra and her Daemon, Pan, are brought up and cared for by the Scholars in Oxford, just as any other child. But she has a bigger destiny to fulfill. Unaware of this, Lyra sets out on a journey, to look for her missing friend, who is one among the many children who were kidnapped by a secret society.The rumor is that the society intends to do horrible things to children, even murder them. Lyra is intent on bringing her friend back. Her adventure takes her to the deep North, where she meets many Supernatural and powerful beings, human and non-human. In her course, Lyra learns about bigger threats her world faces and ends up in the middle of it all. How she escapes danger and fights off evil forces is the story of The Golden Compass.

What splendid narration! Philip Pullman has a way with words, it just draws the reader in. I was instantly connected to the story from the first line. The story has a beautiful flow to it; and I wondered how it would be to hear a vocal rendition of this novel, narrated in a deep baritone. Such was the enchanting narrative of the book.

I liked the premise of the book. It’s complicated but it works as a good baseline to build on. A Destiny that Lyra has to fulfill for the saving the world-as-she-knows it, but, and here’s the complicated part, she has to do it without her own knowing. Nobody can help her, and she can’t know that she is the destined savior of the world. As for the story arc, keeping us readers in the dark for more than a hundred pages was a little unfair. Until then the story only wavers about without any ‘purpose’. The direction of the plot isn’t revealed. But not to worry, it picks up fast from there and slowly the big picture is revealed.

Each of the characters were designed so well. Lyra – what a lyrical name. I loved it! Lyra – like the mythical musical instrument lyre. Lyra is a non-fussy, mature, pragmatic child. She is sensitive to others while being equally outgoing and adventure-seeking.Lord Asriel and Mrs.Coulter and Iorek and John Faa…every character was unique.

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