Baby steps , article published in The Tribune, India , dated 19Oct 2016

MIDDLE

A small step that is a big leap
by Anjali Sharma

“A girl is innocence playing in the mud, beauty standing on its head, and motherhood dragging a doll by the foot” — Alan Beek

EVERY parent wants the best for his or her child. The best of opportunities, education, career, company, friends and future. Parents even sacrifice their peace of mind, for the apple of their eyes. Every step of a child’s growth is a mystery which unfolds with time and through experience. Sending your child, for the first day to school is a bitter-sweet experience. It may have led to anxiety attacks and given sleepless nights to many parents. I am no exception.

As my little darling turned three years old, we landed in the national capital, Delhi and school hunting for the tiny-tot began. Because of our Army background, the preference, of course, was an Army school. Accommodation was allotted in the civil area, so we opted for the best school nearby. This requirement was fulfilled by one of the most prestigious schools of Delhi, but now the big question was, will she get admission there or not. But, all thanks to the point system, the distance from the school to home played the major role in overcoming this hurdle.

Finally our little Miss got admission in the premier institute and with that began the real roller-coaster in my mind. How would she adjust to the new environment? How would she cope with the challenges awaiting her? Whom would she share her initial thoughts and needs at school with? Her hesitation coupled with my apprehensions, ensured that all these thoughts kept on flashing in my mind, giving way to turmoil, day in and day out. I was restless. She was about to enter a whole new world all together, a world away from the safe environs and cosy comfort of home, a world full of strangers, the outside world, a world made of friends as well as foes. I was sure that I would not allow my love and concern to mar her very first step to the this new world.

Then came the Big Day, the day when my darling was to enter a new world. The mere thought of parting from her, even for a few hours, gave me goose-bumps. To my surprise, when she got up for school in the morning that day, she was all excited. With great enthusiasm, she got ready and with pride wore her school dress. Her joy knew no boundaries when she saw her new schoolbag, water bottle and her lunch box. Like an obedient child, she folded her hands to pray and seek the blessings of our ancestral goddess.

Finally, came the moment when she was to enter her class for the first time. She surprised me yet again as she took to her class as fish does to water and waved at me, much as to say: “All is well, Mama I am a big girl now!” After waiting for three long hours, my princess was out again with us with all cheers and smiles. She wanted to rush back home, so that she could come back to school again, the next morning. Watching her on her first day of school left me wondering how time flies.

From a newborn, to a toddler and now as a nursery kid, all by herself in school with no parents around. Her infancy has given way to her magical years; which will soon turn into years for discovery. Let her make most of it. She will always remain a little girl for me, but for her to learn worldly virtues and vices, I must also learn to share her with friends, work and play.

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Art of being tactful ,dated 27 Nov 2016

MIDDLE

The importance of being tactful
Anjali sharma

QUITE often we talk without thinking and blurt out things which land us and others in embarrassing situations. Army life with strict discipline and tough life also offers you with all fun and enjoyment.

Once after a dinner party in a mess, when all officers and ladies were in the process of saying goodbye to each other and about to leave, a lady was obstructing everyone as she was in conversation with a senior’s wife and was not bothered about others’ inconvenience. Suddenly an officer, who couldn’t contain his displeasure, intervened by saying, “Ma’am the point has been registered, shall we take your leave now?”. This may have provided relief to the senior lady and others present, but left that lady sulking and furious.

A young officer was on leave and went for breakfast to his fiancee’s place. The girl was so overjoyed that to impress him, while playing the perfect host, enthusiastically asked him, “Would you like to have some yellow butter?” To this the officer promptly replied, “Is there any black butter also?”

In another incident an officer’s wife, who did not believe in wastage, called another officer and his family for lunch the next day so that the leftover food of the previous night’s party could be used and she did not hesitate in mentioning the reason behind the lunch party, which left the guests in a shock.

It’s taken as a privilege when a senior invites you for dinner at his place, which you cannot decline until and unless you have some work which is inevitable. But this junior officer declined the offer of his senior as his wife was doing her research work and was on leave for only a few days. The love birds did not want to get disturbed.

A bachelor who was about to get married, very proudly displayed the photograph of his would-be wife on the request of the unit ladies. But he was rather shocked when the ladies, instead of praising his fiancée, appreciated only the photo frame.

In the Army, the commanding officer (CO) is often referred as the ‘old man’, which may not hold true in today’s scenario as the officers at a very young age are getting their commands. But a young officer landed himself in trouble by calling the CO’s wife as a COW — which stands for commanding officer’s wife — in front of other officers. This was rather tactless on the part of the officer.

Once a senior lady in very stern words conveyed to the officers’ wives that if anybody showed displeasure in participating in the fashion show for the ladies meet, then their husbands would have to bear the consequences during their upcoming promotions.

An officer got the biggest shock of his life when another officer’s dog came running towards him and pounced on him and the other officer, instead of taking charge of his dog, starting instructing the affected officer to “stay put”.

Once in the middle of a party in a mess, a lady, not much acquainted with the norms and working of the organisation, went direct to the CO and started complaining about the workload her husband had and objected to his late night duties.

Being tactful is an art which comes naturally to some people. But if you are still struggling to achieve it, despite the best of efforts and cannot attain it, then ignorance is bliss.