Neha
We, Prabir and I, were at a store looking at backpacks. While I was busy looking at the designs being shown by a salesman, Prabir was exploring the suitcases and bags kept nearby.

Suddenly, I heard Prabir say 'NO' pretty loudly. I turned towards him and he told me that the uncle was touching his cheeks and so he said 'No'. I immediately asked the salesman not to do it and picked Prabir and made him sit near me. Meanwhile, I also told him that he did a good job saying 'No' to that uncle.

If you ask me, I am a very proud mother since this incident. And I am happy that my son knows that he can say 'No' and that it's alright and that we have his back always.

This incident has also reaffirmed my belief that it is never too soon or early to teach a child about good touch and bad touch. I have always taught him the real names of all his body parts and keep telling him what is good touch and what is not and what he needs to do if anyone touches him where he doesn't like or any other place. We also have a little quiz session time to time where he asks me as to who all can touch or kiss him and I tell him a yes or a no plainly.

Call me paranoid, but I know that I cannot be with my son 24*7 always. I know that he will have to go out and meet new people and not everyone will be good, so to say. And I know that if my son knows how to deal with such situations, I will have to worry a little less probably.

On the other hand, I also do not like complete strangers pulling his cheeks and neither does he. Saying no to them probably sounds rude, but I'd rather be rude than polite at the cost of the comfort of my little one. Better still, I carry him. So, the closer he is to me, lesser chances of strangers walking up to harass him (Yes, I call this harassment! Would an adult like getting their cheeks pulled by a stranger? No. Then why a little child who can barely express their likes and dislikes?)

So, yes, when my son stood up for himself and said "No", all at 2.5 years of age, I was a happy mother. And I know that all those conversations between us, mostly one-sided, have been of use.

So, all parents reading this, teach your little ones about their bodies with the real names. Tell them about good and bad touch and teach them how to say No. Most importantly, respect them for saying it and listen to them.

It is one of the biggest life lessons we need to teach and learn too :)

Neha

When what would seem like regular mundane details of life are interwoven with fine words, stories come alive. Rukhsat is one such collection of stories. Whether it is the characters portrayed so intricately in each story or the plots, there awaits a surprise in each.

Moreover, many stories are linked together in a beautiful way. It's like reading another perspective of the same story. The tales revolve around life and death, love and loss, and friendship and jealousy.  One story would take you to a point in time in the life of the respective character and then another will tell the same tale, albeit from the perspective of another character from the previous story.

Every story is told in a mystical and yet evocative manner, which would leave the readers looking for more. Whether it is Varun, Lotika, Manu, Siraj or Zayan, every character grows on you. They don't seem to be from another world, but someone living next door, people we see and may be acknowledge every day, and yet wouldn't expect that they'd have a story to tell.

Rukhsat leaves you looking for answers as you dwell deeper in the messages it conveys in an ever so subtle manner. It makes you think and introspect. In one word, it's unputdownable!

Neha

Why do we compare? Who do we compare with? What are the standards? Who set those standards?

No, there's so definite definition to being a mother. If there is any, that's being the best mother. Because all mothers are the best. None can be any less. We all fight for our children and love them to bits.

Can love be measured? No. 
Can our struggles be less than someone else's? No.

Each one loves. Each one fights.

Then why put yourself up against standards that don't exist? Why think that what you've done may not be enough? You're doing the best you can. And only you know the best for your child.

So, sit back. Take a break from judging yourself. Look at the awesome marvels you've created. Aren't they just perfect? Yes. Because you created them. Because you're the best. The best mother for your children.

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