Shrink's Views

ramblings of an unknown psychiatrist

A tale of two teachers: A story

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on June 5, 2010

They were not just teachers they were cousins. They were lucky to get employed in the same Government run school. They spent considerable amount of time in our school, which is located in deeply rural area of Bihar, India. I knew both of them from the day of their joining. They were good at their work and were assets to our school. They worked overtime teaching village kids and encouraging their mothers. I liked them both. They were like my daughters.

Sita was the older one. She did her Bachelor’s degree before she did the certificate course in teaching secondary school students. She was able and energetic, when she joined. Her blemish less skin got scarred with pimples and got tanned in the tropical heat. By the time she struck thirty, she gained weight and lost her looks. I have seen her beauty fade right in front of my eyes. I was concerned for her marriage. How would she get married at this age in this society where all she has lost is considered important and all that she has accomplished is considered nothing?

Gita on the other hand was relatively young. She hailed from a large town. She had greater exposure. She was clear about being a school teacher. So she did her training appropriately without any ‘wastage’ of time, like doing a graduation. She was beautiful and carried herself well. She had a big family to back her. I wondered who that lucky one would be, the one who would marry her.

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Let us take a break. Do you think Sita and Gita ever got married? Take a guess and then read further.

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Yes. They did. Sita got married to a man who worked in a NGO in a tribal area. It is very far from here. It is even farther from residence of her parents and also her in-laws. He earned lesser than how much she earned here. I was concerned as she had to resign her Government job to go there.

On the other hand Gita got married in the town that she grew up in. Her in-laws and husband worked for the Government. They were rich. They could live a decent life from the money derived from their assets, even if they did not hold jobs. Her in-laws liked her so much that they did not take any dowry. (Sadly, it is a rare gesture in India.) Gita too resigned from the Government services. I was glad she could rest and enjoy life.

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Let us take a break again. How do you think these ladies fared in their marriages? Do take a moment off and think which would have been more difficult, which would have been happier, which would have brought happiness to their families?

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I would not guess if you have got it right or wrong. Let me tell you what happened. Sita left her Government job and gave up her stable salary, but she continued to do what she does best- teach. She started a small school in the tribal area where she was based. It is such a backward area, that even the Government did not have a school in a radius of 20 km around it. I am still shocked after I heard that tribal people are sending their children to study instead of using them for hunting, gathering and at their best- farming! Her husband’s development work took a quantum leap as she made in-roads into that community with education. Her parents and in-laws are proud of her as much as her husband. They may be short of material wealth but they are rich in their being. She is doing what principals like me can only dream of, even though we have a team and Government resources.

Gita resigned and rested at her new home. We teachers are as born as we are made. She taught children of her husband’s siblings and cousins, who lived in the locality. They were rich spoilt brats. Her methods were not appreciated by her relatives. She got fed up. In our school, even if a teacher beat a student, the parents always trusted our judgement. They aligned themselves to our terms of discipline in the best interest of the child. Gita lost that privilege. After all, there is a difference between teaching a rich kid and a poor kid.

Her husband loved her too much. He was very possessive of her. I am troubled to call it any other, so I fool myself calling this love. She could not visit her parents’ home without his permission, though it was just a couple of streets away. Going there alone would be such brazen behaviour that it would never be tolerated. After all, restrictions were for her safety. Her beauty conspired against her.

She had to restrict herself to household chores. She was never good at that. Her mother had pampered her by not letting her do them. While working in our school Gita escaped household chores. Her cousin Sita did the household work, while Gita attended to her personal grooming more diligently. What Gita treasured became the enemy of her life and what she avoided became her partner to escape a meaningless existence.

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I do not know what you had guessed. Let me tell you that my guess was wrong. My calculation was terribly wrong. I thought Gita was living a happy life and Sita was suffering. It is true that Sita has difficulties and Gita has comforts but that is far from reality. I wonder how I could be so wrong.

The patterns which make us anticipate outcomes may be right but these may fool us utterly at times. I also wonder if the patterns that we use are useful, if we could be wrong in both directions in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Hmmm… I would not doubt the usefulness of a pattern. Sita and Gita’s life indicates that there are more important issues than beauty and bank balance in determining soundness of a marriage and happiness in general.

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14 Responses to “A tale of two teachers: A story”

  1. samuel said

    “Hmmm… I would not doubt the usefulness of a pattern. Sita and Gita’s life indicates that there are more important issues than beauty and bank balance in determining soundness of a marriage and happiness in general.”
    Can you please list those more important issues..pl

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      There should be quite a few.Let me mention some.
      1.Love
      2.Willingness to give up
      3.Sharing common value system
      4.Sharing similar lifestyle
      5.Being mindful of other’s emotions/ needs
      6.Trust

      etc.Please do share your thoughts also. May be I should blog on this some time. I would acknowledge your contribution. 🙂

  2. shalom said

    Why do people make marriage such a complicated issue? When a lot of thinking goes into the “concept” of marriage , it makes a person confused … i am confused … now my concept of marriage is quite blurred . . . why do people marry? is it just a social contract, a moral obligation one has to fulfill to be part of a society?

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Dear Shalom,

      Thanks for visiting this blog and for taking time to comment. I can understand your confusion. Believe me, most people don’t make marriage a complicated issue. In fact many people do not think much about the ‘concept’ of marriage. Crudely, it is just like saying surgeons need not know the pathology to perform surgery. It is very desirable to know the pathology but the surgical skills count as much if not more than that knowledge. You can testify to that being in a rural hospital.

      Likewise many happy couples have not studied ‘marriage’, but have the skills to make a marriage successful.I can testify to this being a psychiatrist. The marriages of psychiatrists are most like to end in divorce among the doctors. Surprisingly they are supposed to have studied the ‘concepts’! It is because they may have knowledge but not the skill or willingness to work on their marriages.

      People have different reasons to get married. I do not speak for them. Speaking of myself, I would get married for companionship. It would not be a social contract. It would be much more than that. I would offer to be committed more that what law requires me to. May be because of my world-view that marriage is a covenant relationship and not just a contractual one. If you ask is marriage a moral obligation that one has to fulfill to be part of society, I would say no. Society does not compel us to marry. Few men believe that to live in the society marriage is a price man pays for sex! It just shows what they expect out of a marriage. They might believe that security is the price they offer to the woman. A cynic might observe that today’s modern woman has economic stability in her career and so demands her sexual rights. In my opinion companionship is a more fundamental need which marriage meets. Security and sexual fulfillment are byproducts of a good marriage and not the end products of a good marriage.

  3. Sammy said

    I guessed right!! Somehow I knew deep inside before completing the story that Sita would be living a more satisfied and fulfilling life – atleast I know I would be more happy making a difference like she is doing.. Great story Doc Dheeraj..

    BTW.. when did you metamorphosize from being a psych doc to a school principal (or was this story written by someone else?)

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Good Sammy, you probably have a mature insight on issues of life.
      Thanks for liking the story too.The story is written by me.I like to write from perspectives of people different from me.I do not know if you have read any of my stories.I had sent a few to Yesu.I ll send you a couple of them to your email.
      Thanks for being a regular reader.I too read your blog regularly.I just did not know much about Pacman and other games,so could not comment on the latest one!

  4. jyothi said

    Very true, Dheeraj. Because beauty is not in the looks but in the character…. though Sita’s beauty faded and she looked like an ordinary middle-aged working woman, her inner beauty bloomed and she bcame a source of strength to her husband……

    Good one, Dheeraj. I would like to read more from you.

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Thanks Jyothi, for taking time to visit the blog and read through the story. You have given a beautiful name to ‘character’ as ‘inner beauty’.I understand that is from your biblical world-view. Sadly, many of our Bible believing brothers and sisters do not live by this. The pleasures of external beauty though has short half-life is valued more than inner beauty which lasts a life-time.

  5. RPR said

    Yo dude! Nice post, but how could they possibly be “like your daughters” if they are contemporaries??? Or is this copy-and-paste? Anyway keep up the good work 🙂

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Bro,
      I filed it under the fiction category. I have written this from perspective of 55 year old school principal. Even though I have sort of sketched a background from my experience in Orissa. Thanks for your appreciation.
      Btw, if it were copy and paste I would have acknowledged the source or at least acknowledged that the source is not known to me.You should know me well enough to know I would not take credit for someone else’s creative/ intellectual property. 🙂 ( I hope I live like that for the rest of my life.)

  6. Deepthi said

    Very good story!! Its quite an encouragment for women. Nice way to put forth that, what looks colorful and appealing may not be actually glossy as it appears. Yes, patterns are useful, but not completely, because the factors that affect a marriage relationship are dynamic, they keep changing with TIME. Strength and the quality of a relationship changes over time.

    People change over time, their prioties also change over time. Maturity changes their perceptions about happiness. We can never say that Gita is going to be perennially sad and dis-satisfied, and Sita’s life will be filled with sense of fulfillment and contentment all the time.

    At last Life is always a mix of happiness and unhappiness. Its all about how an individual perceives the meaning of the word “HAPPY”, because its a very relative and a subjective term, and varys from person to person!!!

    I just want to ask you one question regarding outcome(happiness aspect) of your article, is it written from the author’s perpective or from the girls (how have they reacted to their own marriages – their feedback)?? Looks most likely its from Author’s!!

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Thank you Deepthi, for your valuable inputs in such a detailed comment.
      I like your view and agree with you completely, when you say that people change with time and so do their priorities of what they want and what makes them happy.

      You have said, “We can never say that Gita is going to be perennially sad and dis-satisfied, and Sita’s life will be filled with sense of fulfillment and contentment all the time.” I agree with you.I have given you a snap shot into their life.After all this is a short story and not a TV soap to cover entire spectrum of events in their lives.

      Anyway, I agree with you Sita may be disillusioned and burnt out after a decade and Gita could find happiness after child birth and keep herself busy in child rearing. It is also interesting to to note what would have happened if each of these girls had ended up marrying into a setting like the other.In my opinion it would have been a disaster for Gita anyway. She would not have been able to take on the responsibilities and challenges that Sita had taken. She was a good teacher and a person with good character. But to do what Sita has done requires much more than that. Sita would have adjusted to the new family in the city just as she had adjusted in the tribal area. This is how the characters I created would have been. So, another lesson we learn from the story is that one ought to prepare to be in any setting and be prepared to adjust.

      You have said, “Its all about how an individual perceives the meaning of the word “HAPPY””. It is not in perceiving the meaning of word “happy”, but it is how one appraises an event and the meaning it holds to him that makes him happy or unhappy. I do not agree that happiness is a very relative and a subjective term, and varys from person to person.Everybody’s happiness is similar, what is different in individuals is the reasons for that happiness and expressions of happiness.

      I have written in an earlier comment that this is fiction. There are no girls to give feedback! I have tried a style in which I am a narrator and also an observer like the reader. In a way I am communicating a story at the same time reacting to it like the readers in the story.So it gives a heightened sense of reality.Your comment makes me think, my idea worked.

      Thanks again and do visit the blog again and enrich it raising questions and debates.

  7. RR said

    Nice inspiration. What I learn is, a challenge free life is not much helping for ourselves or others to grow or to live. If the writer also thought that everything went very smooth in those girls´s lives and according to their wishes alone, there wouldnt be nothing here to make a story.

    “The realist always adjust the sails according to the winds. She/he doesnt wait for the winds of unexpected circumstances be calm.”

    An unexpected circumstance is indeed a blessing for those who are optimistic enough to face it. After all life is not only to grow older but to grow bolder and wiser. And people always grow wise in time of discouragements and sufferings. Its our choice! To breakdown or to grow.

    I believe, no contrast situations will affect both the teachers if the true purpose of their life is known to them.

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Thanks RR for these words “The realist always adjust the sails according to the winds. She/he doesnt wait for the winds of unexpected circumstances be calm.”

      I agree with you in the issue of them not being affected much with whatever happened if they knew the purpose of their life.It is like knowing God’s will. The problem is that most of us are not aware of that reality and knowing that something is God’s will does not enable us to accept suffering easily too.

      It does make logical sense though that ULTIMATE being all loving and all powerful has ordained some thing for us, even if it is terrible, it is for our good. To truly believe it in the heart, such that our negative emotions would not emerge requires super-natural faith.

      Another thing is that even among people with great faith, the will of God becomes clear in retrospect. It is OK to not have clarity.In a sense clarity is opposite of faith!

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