Many a little, make a mickle

Mom’s 60th went of as predictably dramatic as befits her life, I guess. Friday morning we found her with a head injury…thankfully, nothing severe… she heals steadfastly. She was discharged today, on her 60th birthday. Her face now shows the signs of the life she has lead…the body grows frailer…she looks much older.

I hear about the Earthquake from the part time help-”Bibi, tum ja nahin rahee ho?”, she asks”. A few fleeting lines on FB, is all I manage to pay attention to. Mom takes precedence and the devastation of the quake quickly makes its way to a darker corner of my mind.  I return home with a less selfish mindset, to be shocked by the devastation.

A few days after the worst earthquake to have hit Nepal in 80 years, the death toll has increased to 4,000. We all want to help. But after the Kashmir floods, I’ve realized there are more suitable and practical ways to help, during such times.

If you know the region  and have resources at hand-reach there As Soon As Possible- If not, wait a while! it usually takes all concerned organizations, a few days to build proper channels to collect and distribute the aid. After Day Five Or Six, all essential items are already on their way. Taking them personally- is an exercise in futility, unless and until you reach there on time and you have the means and the method to rescue and distribute aid.

For all those who want to help there are number of organizations, working on ground level. Cnn has compiled a list. Check it out. Boond boond se sagar banta hai.

How to Help the Victims Of The Nepal Earthquake.

After seeing the work that the Red Cross and the Golden temple did in Kashmir, I personally recommend contributing to either that organization or places of worship. In times of need, we all turn to God and that’s where the maximum number of survivors will head to- for food, shelter, comfort and hope.

The Family Saga


Posing with a friend next to a haystack.

The lives of all family members are entwined, together… though, in each family the central figure varies. At times it’s the Patriarch of the family and others a strong woman- the Matriarch who holds the family together. The story of my family’s life revolves around my Mother.This is an album of Mother’s life.

Upcoming Event- Come And See The Blood On My Skirt

Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m the women of Delhi will be gathering at the Vishwa Vidhyalaya Metro Station, to March through various colleges to Kamla Nagar.  They will march wearing blood stained skirts, holding pads, cloths, tampons, condoms, contraceptive pills etc. The event is being organised by Bana Lata,  Devangana Kalita, Deepti Sharma and Sambhavani Vikram.

To know more about the event visit-


Paying It Forward

I think it was a Friday, the night of Shab-e-Barat, last year. I was heading for my customary nocturnal drive. Came down the Moolchand Flyover and there was a huge traffic jam. In front of me, a few cars ahead-were gathered some bystanders and there lay an unconscious man on the road , bleeding profusely. Next to him was a two wheeler and the pillion rider.  I got off my car, totally panicking-  my brother’s  body racing through my mind.  The ambulance and the PCR had been notified a while ago but due to the traffic they couldn’t reach the spot. ”Someone pick him up so that we can take this man to the hospital”, I told the men.  The ambulance was not going to make it on time. The pillion rider and a few of the bystanders picked the accident victim, put him on the back seat of my car and helped me to drive my Scorpio over the pavement, so that we could reach the Moolchand Hospital on time. What amazed me was, there was a police barricade on the opposite side and not a single cop had bothered to cross the road to help.

Thankfully,  a family saw me taking this young  man to the hospital and decided to follow me there. It took us maybe ten minutes to reach but unfortunately, by the time we did- he had passed away. The Doctor’s declared him dead but the pillion rider, survived with slight injuries.

A  friend I had called up, had dropped into Moolchand to ensure I wasn’t too shook up. The family which had followed me to the hospital, had also experienced a recent loss.  When the deceased’s family arrived, they were obviously distraught. It was too close to home for us- the one’s who had brought him to the hospital, watching the women of the household wailing uncontrollably and we just wanted to leave. We all stood there waiting for the cops. First the PCR arrived, then an Investigating Officer dropped in. They took the statement of the main eyewitness- the pillion rider and the Doctor. Questioned the rest of us, took down my personal details from my vehicle registration certificate- while obviously noticing  there was no impact of an accident on any of the cars. They took down our phone numbers and asked us to leave.

The reason I’m recalling this extremely unpleasant evening, is because ten months later, the day before yesterday- one Mr Kumar, found his way to my house. When a vardi wala stands at the door and asks for, ‘Madam jo Scorpio chalatee hein.. unhone ne accident kara he’, the domestic help starts to panic. Turns out a petition has been filed, stating that there are loopholes in the case,…therefore, our friendly neighbourhood cop, decided to drop in for a visit.   The usual, I’ve come from really far, I had to look for your house. ”I know you didn’t do anything but the family is very poor and wants 10-15 lakhs. Their daughter is getting married that’s why their lawyer will implicate you.” I totally ignored his request and told him I would come to the station, that day to do the needful. A neighbour who was listening to the conversation, said to me, “Never help anyone again. You’ve learnt your lesson.” My reply to that was, ”If the people who helped my brother would have thought the same thing, his dead body would have been stranded on the road!”

Nine years ago, my brother passed away in a car accident, in the middle of the night. He was all alone, dying in his car. A passing vehicle saw him and the driver and his friends  pulled  out my brother and took him to AIIMS. They called us up and waited for my Dad to arrive. I don’t remember the boys, neither does my father. The shock of loosing him was too great…we didn’t get into the pleasantries, at that that time. It will always be our regret that we couldn’t thank those strangers. But there’s a simple policy we follow- whoever we can help, we shall help. If we can’t thank or pay back the kindness of those strangers, we can definitely Pay It Forward.

Anyway, I spent a few hours alone in the Police Station- going from the Women’s Desk to the Reporting Officer to the Station Head Officer to the Investigating Officer, trying to understand  the court petition and look at the FIR. Luckily, I have a Father who doesn’t like being yanked around. He told me before I went to the Station,” Tell them- if you’ve done something, your family is willing to send you to Jail and irrespective of what they say to you, don’t give them a single rupee.” Worked like a charm!

 Since, it was a hit and run case, the lawyer who was representing the family could not find anyone to take the flak. Though, the main eyewitness to the accident, the pillion rider stated exactly what had happened in the First Information Report, they had not taken a written statement from the rest of us. The lawyer was suggesting that the IO had shown incompetence in the investigations, by not doing so, which is actually incorrect. Since, they had my details from the RC, the court wanted them to get my statement. The court just needed a statement to be submitted and the IO was trying to scare me, for his own reasons. But once, he realized that I wasn’t paying any heed to his hints, he quietly took down what I had to say. Though, there still may or may not be some legal ramifications that I will have to deal with, in the future.

This is despite the fact that last year the Ministry Of Home Affairs, had issued guidelines for protecting Good Samaritans. This appeared in an article written by Tarique Anwar for FirstPost, titled,’ Want to help accident victims but scared of the law. Fear no more.’ Take a look at the guidelines and how they were breached in my case.

1. If a person, who is not an eyewitness, moves an injured person to the nearest hospital, he or she should not be questioned and be allowed to leave immediately.

2. Good Samaritans should be exempted from civil and criminal liability, except in case of malafides.

3. Those who inform the police or emergency services about a person lying injured on the road should not be forced to reveal their identity and personal details.

4. Personal information such as name and contact details of those who come forward for the help of road crash victims will be voluntary and optional, including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) forms provided by hospitals.

5. In case a person, who has voluntarily stated that he or she is an eye witness to the accident is required to be questioned for the purpose of investigation but the questioning will take only once. Standard operating procedures will be developed in 60 days to ensure that the rescuer is not harassed, intimidated or hassled by the police or courts.

Technology, such as video conferencing, should be used to examine a witness.

6. All registered public and private hospitals cannot detain or demand money for registration and admission of the injured unless the person who has brought the victim is his or her relative. The injured should be provided necessary treatment without delay.
All hospitals designate a minimum of 2 percent of its annual profits towards free treatment on injured.

7. Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he may be reasonably expected to provide care, shall constitute “professional misconduct” under chapter 7 of the Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 of the Medical Council of India. Suitable disciplinary action will be taken as per the norms of Chapter 8 of the said regulations.

8. All public and private hospitals will implement these directions within a period of 60 days from the date when these directions are issued. In case of non-compliance or violation of the directions within the time prescribed, the licenses issued to operate these hospitals shall stand revoked.

I’m writing this because I don’t want anyone to be dissuaded by the incident. I believe that it’s our social responsibility to aid whoever we can. But after my visit to the Station , I’ve realized there are some precautionary measures one should take, considering the Police is not going to follow guidelines.

How To Help Accident Victims

1) Don’t try to pick up someone who has been injured- Only, in case of extra ordinary circumstances try to move a victim- you’re willingness to help, may harm them more.  In the above mentioned case, due to the accident and Shab-e-Barat there was a terrible jam and there was no way for the ambulance to reach the  victim, on time. Gauge the situation carefully and then decide on the best course of action. But first and foremost call the ambulance and report to the Police.

2) Try to protect the victim-While help arrives, try to protect the victim from further injuries, from other vehicles.

3) If you are an eyewitness to a Hit and Run  take down the number of the vehicle. 

4) In any case, however you may be involved- in terms of providing help, try to save your own skin, as well-

a) After, the above mentioned incident, I have realized that it’s best to give a written statement, whether the Police asks for it or not. Since, I did not witness the incident, at that time, they did not ask for it.

 b)Keep a record of your own statement and the statements of the other bystanders.

c) As an afterthought, a visual entry of the incident would have been a good idea. Though, when you see a dying man, the last thing that’s going to occur to you is recording it, even if you are a photographer.

d) Call a family member or a friend to tell them about the incident, so that someone is there to assist you, if the need arises.

As the Supreme Court states, the Preservation Of Life Is Of Paramount Importance. Helping an accident victim is of grave importance and if once in a while you have to bear the brunt of it just think,”no good deed goes unpunished.”


P.s- Updated on the 10th of Feb- Over the past few days, I’ve got a mixed reaction about this post (many think I shouldn’t write about such things in details)  and today morning, I was discussing this and someone passed a snide remark about how I drive alone… lah lah. It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to speak to the family that had helped me to take the victim to the hospital.  Somehow I managed to get in touch with them. Though, “moolchand aunty” had not been asked to give a statement, she was quite willing to do so. She said to me, ”something’s are our moral responsibility and if we are inconvenienced by them, so be it.”

A Tribute On Her 60th

There are infinite aspects, the word ‘mother’ conjures up in our psyche. The first few memories which are evoked are of the personal- The natural mother, female relatives like the grandmother, the step-mother and the mother-in-law. Other than these obvious evocations, the word educes images of the figurative, the infinite, the natural and the divine.


This primary relationship, is considered by most psychologists to be the bedrock of the individual psyche. The mother complex of the son is a term we are all familiar with.  It was probably 2005 or maybe ’06, when I read Carl Jung’s theory on the ‘Mother complex of the daughter.’ I can’t recall how much I understood about the hypertrophy of the maternal element, the overdevelopment of the Eros, the identity with the mother or the resistance to the mother. What I do remember is feeling half normal, after reading it. It was only then, I realized that irrespective of how ‘abnormal’, my family setup may have seemed to me as a child, under the surface there lay a generality and a shared commonality with other families and other daughters.


The rest of it, I have only started to understand years, later. I will at some point share Jung’s views. But this is not an exercise to understand my psyche or flaunt my views on yours. A few years, a senior photographer, who was working on a lovely portrait series on Mothers and Daughters, asked if I would like to be a part of it.  I wriggled out of the process. I couldn’t explain to him why. Only recently, when another photographer friend asked to interview my Mom, I realized that though, one has been fairly open about one’s life, there are some aspects of it which are far too complex, to just put out there and they would have to be dealt with delicately.


We recently ran a campaign on this blog and almost all the women had such glorious things to write about their mothers. I can’t say those things. I can’t even say I loved my mother as a little girl! She was so unlike every one else, not just because she was unwell but because she was like a force of nature. At times placid and calm like still waters or a gentle drizzle on your wind shield, slightly blurring your vision and in the next moment thunderous and violent, like a hurricane. Yet, in her moments of lucidity, oh so charming and hilarious.


I can’t paint you a picture of my mother, without her looking like a poor victim of circumstance or a really unpleasant person. Neither, of which would be true. Yes, I can’t tell you stories of exemplary maternal sacrifices. I don’t have any memories of my mother fussing over me, stuffing my mouth with delicious home cooked meals… teaching me how to grow up to be a lady. I remember my Mother, zipping her way through Delhi streets in her Maruti, racing with whoever dared to. I have visions of a woman with impeccable taste and confidence-wearing mini skirts and backless blouses. I recall someone, who was always generous to a fault… a person who lived without any concept about her ‘station in life’. Her monthly dates- visiting cinemas and parlours- with the domestic help, blurred her children’s view of what was considered to be the norm. I remember someone, who had a keen understanding of human behaviour, yet no coping mechanism to deal with it- a person who was just too intelligent (as her Shrink’s put it) and too sensitive. I have memories of a woman who loved and hated life- both at the same time. Someone who gave my first alcoholic drink, told me about sex… someone who made me laugh and oh how much she made me cry.


I can’t tell you all that my Mother is because I sometimes see her through the frightened eyes of a 9 year old child, perpetually afraid her Mother might die the next day and at others through the skewed vision of a cynical, 35 year old daughter, whose tired of the tendencies. When I stop seeing her through a daughter’s eyes, without projecting my expectations on her, I see a woman with a misplaced Child Ego State, whose gone through life wanting to be mothered. Someone, whose done unpleasant things, so that she could get the attention she deserved.


I see a person whose lost most of the people she loved-son, siblings, parents-every four to five years someone passes away- and survived. A woman who has legendary survival instincts and a will and stubbournness that would put most people to shame. My Mother is a melting pot of dichotomous values- she can be so good in one moment and not so great so quick- it can make your head spin. I see someone who loves expensive things, yet doesn’t care for money. I see a woman who was like to a sister to her son, whose still like a love sick teenager around her husband and has always been a friend to her daughter. I see a woman who dances with the help and playfully chases her husband around the house with a glass a water, in her hand, threatening to chuck it at him.  I see a person who has retained an innocence that’s impossible to find.


There are many aspects the word, ‘Mother’ conjures up. My mother may not be like your Mom, or the next person’s. As a little girl, I wished she was. But as a grown woman, I realize that there are many people who come from regular families and still feel unloved.  There’s a special way in which my Mom loves- with her whole being- senselessly, generously and obsessively and how we were loved! My mother may not be like most women but she sure is one of a kind!

My Mother’s Heart.

There it was, this wilted away skin…

Showcasing years of painful memories.

They stared right at me those big lumps of torn figments…

Once, they had been creamy luscious skin.

Bitter sweet smiles

Parched soul,

Suppressed tears filled in her two containers…

Oozing through the pores of her skin.

Hardened mounts, longing to be seen

Longing to be touched.

Peeling away the layers of joyless years

I found a thing made with her nurturing milk.

In a bed of burnt skin, beating away gloriously,

lay-My Mother’s Heart.

9th April ’04

11.00 p.m

Saadiya Kochar