Since my childhood I have always loved to read. I think I started reading fairy tales and then graduated to reading comics..short stories in magazines and then novels of the fabulous five by Enid Blyton ..and from then my romance with books started..and being a Pisces I always became so involved with the characters of the stories I read that I practically used to think I am a part of them just like Alice in Wonderland.
The other day as I was surfing the net I happened to read all about different species of animals and birds and the aquatic mammals. Really I had never in my wildest dreams dreamt that we humans could learn from them some very valuable lessons of life. I realised that animals all have some distinct quality which is very unique. We all know that Dogs are mans best companion as their loyalty is unmatchable..I wonder if any human can match their love and devotion to their masters. Then there are cats who teach us cleanliness, as they are very particular about their hygiene…Horses teach us confidence. Elephants are strong but meek they teach us forgiveness.. Turtles say slow down and enjoy the moment. Honey bees say work hard and dream big,as nothing worth having comes easy. Lion the king of the jungle teaches us bravery..Spiders teach us determination they never make their web in one attempt but they try and try till they succeed. I think I love this quality as today with all the modern technology and the social media etc there is so much to learn everyday…I keep on learning and sometimes I fail but again like the spider restart till I complete my task…as I always tell myself “I am not a quitter” Leopards stalks its prey with patience..and patience is the greatest virtue we can learn in this fast forward life. Rhinoceros are the second largest mammals ..they are strong but herbivores ..they feed on grass so now we know that one can be strong and healthy even by only eating greens. Orangutans and apes are the most intelligent..they imitate everything that they see new..they are a curious lot. And the smallest little ant teaches us the biggest lesson of life …they teach us teamwork..you will always find them together. And here we humans are so selfish that we want to walk the path alone so that we alone reach the top..but they say work together you will only reach your goals faster. Really fascinating isn’t it ?
Learning is always an ongoing and never ending process. I personally think that we are all students till our last breath. As we are always learning something new everyday..from everyone around us. When we are young our parents are our gurus who teach us valuable lessons of love and sacrifice. Our siblings teach us love..companionship..helping one another and so much more. Then comes school time where we have wonderful teachers who have so much knowledge to impart that I don’t think we can repay their debt in any way thru out our life. I still remember my beloved Canossa Convent and my wonderful and loving teachers like Miss Millicent..Miss Ophelia..Miss Vasanti Patil..Miss Kamla ..Mrs.Disa.. Miss Mira..Mother Edna ..Mother Trexi and so many more. Love them all as they have shaped and moulded our personality. Today we are what we are because of them.
Then comes college and a little bit of independence but it is here that we learn to hone our skills to perfection …of course ably guided by our learned professors. I was in Jaihind College where we had the best four years of our life as my dear friend Geeta Kanar always says. I remember our professors there like Mr. Rao..Mr. Mistry both my English and Advanced English professors..they always read my essays and Referce to Context answers in the staff room near all the other professors and that was indeed a proud moment for me when I got to know about it. Then Professor Balaporiya my French professor who had a soft spot for me as I always excelled in French..Mr. Hitler as we called him..was our history professor and history was a subject I loved. Anyways College taught us that we can be independent but never step out of line as there are always boundaries which we should never cross. And I am sure we never did it.
Then comes marriage and different responsibilities…but learning doesn’t stop as I told you it is an ongoing process. Now here you learn adjustment with your new family as you go to live in a new house where maybe the rules and way of life..their thinking is different..but one learns…..all do. Here I had an excellent guru …my loving mother in law Sita Bhagnari who taught me everything from scratch..cooking..cleaning everything as I was a complete novice too busy with my studies so never really learnt anything else. 😁 Moreover she taught me how to adjust in a joint family..that is the best lesson I have learnt from her…maybe many may find it strange but I think I am old fashioned enough so I love joint families where you all stay together in one big house..never lonely..never short of company..never scared..always someone there to help you ..advice you and of course to love you. Nowadays it is Hum Do aur humare do.. well times have changed so has thinking. There are always advantages and disadvantages in both. The key tool here is adjustment. A valuable lesson I learnt and I am sure all do.
And I cannot forget unforgettable real life stories of courage and determination which I myself have experienced in my life. The first being my beloved mother Lila Mehta..at the age of 70 she was diagnosed with cancer. We were all devastated ..our world was shattered…I remember asking the Doctor if my mother would be cured and his reply was she has around six months to live. I just collapsed right there. But my mom did not even give any importance to her disease ..she was only worried about my Dad being taken care of..getting his food in time etc etc…her world revolved round taking care of my dad..she knew she had to fight the battle for my dads sake..and she did it with her positivity and proved all the doctors wrong. That is her courage and determination . Then comes my mother in law Sita Bhagnari who was unable to walk without crutches or a walker and that too with great difficulty but that didn’t deter her zest for life…she never said no for anything..would accompany us to all family functions ..weddings..celebrations even though it meant her sitting on the stairs and going up backwards ..painstakingly she did it..she must be in pain but there was always a smile on her lips..and I am glad she had that spirit as we loved having her with us and she loved being social. How can I forget my friend Geeta Kanar who has been handicapped since years and walks with great difficulty but still comes down for her kirtans and goes to kitty parties. How can I forget that after coming down her three floors she has the gumption to climb two floors up to meet my mom who is bed ridden..she went there gave my mother company ..revoked memories of our childhood days and bought a smile on her lips..something so considerate only a true friend can do..Love you Geeta till eternity. Proud to have you as my friend. My dear sister Lata Kataria (Seema Mehta) who battled a traumatic disease bravely with a smile on her lips..never asking the question “why me”? Courage ..Grit and Determination three qualities that all four of them possess.. indeed they are Women of Substance. We all can learn from them.
So basically one is always learning..from colleagues..bosses…peers.. but the best lessons of life you sometimes learn from young children who have no hidden agendas or motives..who know nothing of selfishness etc. I myself have been fascinated with my own granddaughter Amara..sometimes whilst I speak to her she suddenly comes up with such a deep and meaningful reply which astonishes me. Really incredible that you can learn from such young and innocent children. So that shows us that we have teachers all around us .
And last but not the least our spiritual Gurus who teach us to be good human beings and teach us to walk the right path in life. We owe a lot to them for our spiritual growth.
So to sum it all up we have to remember that there are lessons to be learned everyday of our life…we can never quit being students… but the huge campus of life has now replaced our schools and colleges. And so let’s continue learning and growing everyday.
One valuable lesson I learnt from Mother Teresa is that helpings hands are better than praying lips. So try and help as many as you can . You will only get blessings in return and one cannot but want more of that..
Laji, its been a pleasure reading your articles. This one on your life experiences from where you learned so much, makes us all take a note of what we have learned from people who came across our life and have had a profound influence on us.
Life is a University…the education goes on and we all learn upto the last days of our lives!