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A little girl was jumping with joy, holding her father’s hand in one hand and a chocolate in the other. She was not too small almost in her teens but her innocence made her appear smaller than she actually was. Her family along with her mother, grand parents and brother had gone to visit a famous Kali Temple in the district of Bhirbhum. They were on a weekend trip and had plans of going for a little sightseeing once they finished offering the prayers. She was very happy, firstly, because it was her post-exam break. She had been cramped at home all this time and was enjoying every moment of the trip. Secondly, it was a family outing; she could do all that she wanted and her granny would save her from her mother’s scolding!

She could see the temple from the moment they entered the narrow alley leading to it. Both sides of the alley were littered with shops selling all kinds of articles with the picture or name of the Goddess Tara inscribed on them; starting from pens to key chains to photo frames and large posters…. You could get them all here. There were some modern things of utility too, like torches, costume jewelry, hand bags and a number of edible items like sweat meats of all kinds, and shops selling hot kachoris and jalebis too were aplenty. She was making a mental note of all the things she wanted to buy and have once they finish offering the prayers. The day being a Saturday, which was supposed to be the best day of the week to offer prayers to the Goddess Kali, the temple was thronged by millions of devotees. There were people everywhere!

Sounds of ‘Joy Ma Tara! Joy Ma Tara!’ resounded all over the temple. Thousands of devotees had thronged the Holy Kali Temple to offer their prayers to the Goddess. The prayer hall, which offered a clear view of the Goddess’s idol, was covered with a human carpet. The crowd was so huge it seemed like an entangled mass of human hands and feet, all trying to get a glimpse of the goddess in the process of being worshiped during Aarti.

Among all this noise, the pleas of a girl barely in her teens, was getting lost. She was small in height and was trying desperately to break free from the crowd, the smell of human bodies and the disgusting touch of the man who was freely roaming his hand all over her. She shouted for her mother ‘Maaa….!’ But there was no one listening. She tried to break free, meanwhile the noises around her increased and the rants of ‘Joy Ma Tara! Joy Ma Tara!’ was getting louder and louder. With the increase in the decibel of the noise, the man was getting emboldened in his vile act. In the crowd she had somehow lost grip of her father's hand and got plastered in front of this man. With all her strength she tried to move out of the crowd. After a lot of struggle somehow, she broke loose and sat down on the floor. From among the web of human legs she managed to crawl to the side of the prayer hall, which was a little empty. She leaned on the wall and started sobbing! All her innocence was shattered in one blow!

What was her fault? Like all devotees even she had gone to the temple and had plans of having a good time with her family? Is this what her family had prayed for? How can human beings be so cruel?


Surprise! Surprise!


‘I have a surprise for you!’ whispered Joy in Sirin’s ears. Sirin had been sulking the whole day, it was their marriage anniversary and both of them had to leave for work. Joy had a pressing client meet, which he could not give a miss while she had a deadline today for submission. Though their Companies would not shut down if they did not go to work, they were not granted leaves by their respective Bosses! Such was life!

The news of a surprise did not make her jump with joy instead she looked at her husband demanding a more detailed explanation. ‘You always keep saying that there are too many people around…. So today we will go for a candle light dinner and a late night movie after work. It being a Saturday tomorrow, there will not be any hurry. And then… We will spend the evening together watching a movie. What say? Happy?’ Sirin was so happy to hear the plan that she let out a little shriek and hugged Joy with all her might.

‘But, there is one little thing… that we have to keep in mind….We can’t tell anyone about this plan….otherwise it will not work out. Everyone will want us to stay at home for the evening. We will get back from work, and then just say that we are going for little drive, and then get the plan going. What say?’ Sirin was already feeling the adrenaline pumping in her veins. A lie to cover up for a dinner date with her husband…. How exciting was that? She was reminded of their days together before marriage and how they met each other without letting anyone know…. Wow…it would be really nice…she thought.

All charged up for the plan tonight they left on their separate ways to work. The primary task at hand now was to leave work early…. No matter what may come! Sirin was thinking if need be she will submit her resignation and leave early…. Resignation… No…No… that would be a bit too much… may be she will be a little sterner in her request to leave early! Joy had a more friendly work environment at office and it would not be a problem for him to leave early. So now, the success of the plan depended totally on Sirin.

The long hours at office were passing in a daze with Sirin checking the watch every few minutes. By the second half of the day she could not take the strain any longer and almost broke out in a fight with her team member over an issue. Her Boss summoned her to his cabin to ask about the issue. That was the icing on her cake of worries… however; she calmed herself and tried to give him a sane justification of her reaction. Although not fully convinced, he let her go and carry on with her work.

At 5.30 in the evening her phone buzzed with an incoming text from Joy: ‘Leave now… or we will be late. I am on my way to home!’ She knew that…. She knew that all too well that she had to leave soon, but she was yet to get her permission. She peeped into her Boss’s cabin to see him laughing heartily over the phone. That was, by far, a good sign, he was in a good mood and she could get her permission. And right she was in assessing the situation! He did not cause her any more worry and gave her permission to leave in 10 minutes sharp. Happy was too less a word to describe her state of mind… ecstatic was her mood! She rushed to her work station to wrap up the pending stuff and give some instructions to her colleague in case her work encountered some problem and rushed out of the building to reach home.

We need a little more compassion!

This weekend, I finally got to finish the Allison Pearson’s novel “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” Although the movie was, pretty good but reading always made my adrenaline pump. I personally loved the story since I sympathized with the concept of a frazzled woman who juggles two worlds. The story highlights a problem that every working person faces: The Comparison.
You definitely know what I am talking about: the guilt feeling and blow that you receive to your self-esteem when an outsider passes a verdict on you. They usually draw the conclusion from a distance rather than looking what is going on inside. You are no exception even I faced the same.

We all live in a glass house and that is a reality. It is hard not to compare yourself to everyone who surrounds you. Between family, Facebook and even community, we are surrounded by stories and images that tell us about how others’ are living their lives. Unfortunately, these frequent social comparisons lead to destructive emotions and unhappiness along with behaviors like regret, guilt and ultimately lying.

It is what you do not see matters the most. A rich and full life involves a number of trade-offs. No matter how “successful” a juggler you appear to be, you can never do everything well. That friend of yours who shows the brilliantly well-kept living room will definitely have the rest of her house in a mess. Again, maybe she stays at her home for only 8 hours each day. Or else, she might have not got that promotion last year.

The art of doing a successful trade-off
You will never be able to know what trade-offs someone has made when you observe them. The exterior projection is never true. Therefore, when people compare you with something they do not fully understand does never make sense. Neither should you compare yourself with anyone since you do not know what he or she actually is!

Fellow working Ladies, can we please be more compassionate to ourselves? Instead of worrying about how one can stack up against everyone else, can we take a few minutes to get clear our own priorities each day or maybe once a week? Once we start reorienting ourselves, even the worst comparison will look relatively painless.

I would love to see a lot more compassion from one Lady to another. Just because something is a priority for you simply doesn’t mean it is my priority. So, for a change let us all please stop the judging game and lets show some respect for all the trade-offs each of us make.

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