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A challenge i have overcome

— Dr.Prof.Rameeza Rasheed

I have faced several crises in my life but could always face them with courage and could overcome them with the help of my family members. But a severe crisis hit me in the year 2002 when too many unfavorable events happened in my life simultaneously, challenging my ability to face them with courage and confidence . That was the year, I retired from my job, my husband passed away and my two sons left home to work in foreign countries. Suddenly, my roller coaster life with a tight schedule related to the demands of managing a home, a full time career, managing medical needs of my husband which included frequent hospitalisation, attending to professional and educational needs of my sons, then their career and their marriages came to an end.

After my sons too left to far off countries with their families, I was devastated. It took nearly six months to realise that I am left all alone in this big city and in this big apartment. Since I am not used to idleness, loneliness and leisurely way of doing things. I found it extremely difficult initially, to cope up with sudden changes in my life. Most of my friends became intensively preoccupied with their grand children and thus were busy. My relatives too were busy with their social activities. Slowly, the visits and phone calls of friends and relatives dwindled. In the cities neighbors seldom interact. Due to all these reasons I felt that I am left alone in the middle of a vast desert not knowing in which direction I should proceed. Sometimes I felt that suddenly, the fate had pushed me into a sea and I am getting drowned since I do not know swimming. Sometimes the total silence surrounding me due to lack of human interaction was killing me. Some days sleep will elude me for the whole night. Some days I get up in the morning and wonder how I have to spend the whole day. Sometimes, I felt idleness is the great punishment that could be given to any active person and on other times I felt loneliness is worse, since there is no opportunity to hear even our own voice.

Hence, I became a member of several social clubs, NGOs, think tanks and senior citizens forums and academic bodies just to get human circle around me. But nothing helped me concretely and I still felt vacuum in my life. Then, I realised one day that, it is not loneliness that is causing me depression since I am always a very private person and I was in the habit of longing and seeking for loneliness even whenever I get an opportunity and used to enjoy occasional private hours with my own company. I could identify that, my problem is idleness which was agonizing me constantly, resulting in affecting my mental, physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing and rendering my sunset years very unproductive.

One day, I resolved that, I will face the twin challenges of loneliness and idleness with active aging methods. That time, I happened to read about the concept community psychology which is prescribed by social scientists as a suitable tool to solve elder’s problems. In simple terms, it means, involving the seniors in the community services either on voluntary or honorarium basis so that, their psychological wellbeing is maintained or restored. But when I pondered over that concept, I realised that I am not cut out for community service due to my health problems. The next best thing I wanted to try was writing. Since a women web site which I was reading at that time regularly started announcing articles contest. The topic announced was dear to my heart and I attempted for the first time in my life to contribute to that contest. When the result was announced I couldn’t believe my eyes because, I got the first prize of Rs 2000. The web site stated that it is a story wriiten straight from the heart. I got several appreciative comments which further motivated me to contribute to every article contest announced by them.

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I had won several times which emboldened me to send an article to a popular news paper. It too got published and I became their regular contributor. Since it was a highly circulating news paper many of my friends who read my articles in that news paper contacted me to congratulate and give their feedback. Emails were pouring in from the readers with appreciative comments. For one of my articles in that news paper on the subject of memories of my village life, mails arrived even from far of nations and Indian states. That day my joy reached the maximum level and realised that I have reinvented myself in my sunset years as a serious writer. From then on writing became my passion. I started contributing to other journals, online magazines and I have my own blog in which I write on innumerable topics on which I have an opinion. The comments I receive from the readers on my articles and blogs act as energy boosters and motivate me to write more and more. It is my opinion that, if the content and style of my writing has to be of some standard I have to gather more knowledge on a variety of topics. I executed this objective by extensive browsing in the internet, reading leading newspapers and journals, listening to scholarly lectures and discussions of think tanks and Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV and Prime Time panel discussions on topical issues in the TV channels. Thus my passion for writing led to reading and listening habits. I found to my thrill that, the new passion sharpened my writing skill and helped me to put my ideas in print through simple and appropriate words . This style of writing could reach the readers without causing them any mental strain and could establish easy connectivity with them. Thus I met the challenges of life i.e., loneliness and idleness with the twin tools of reading and writing. The result is, not a single minute I am frustrated with my current position in life. The two tools are highly therapeutic and best companions. Because ,their companionship is available to me at any time of the day and for any number of hours, these two tools are highly suitable to those who suffer from empty nest syndrome. In fact, the total silence at my home and the absence of frequent visitors and phone calls which were originally considered by me as depressing factors in my life have become blessings due to the gift of undisturbed atmosphere which is very conducive for writing and reading.

In fact now I have gone back to yester year’s busy life and now, 24 hours are not enough for me. The additional benefits made available to me are the creation of a human circle ( which has emerged from the readers) around me who regularly interact with me and cash incentives. More over, when we participate in writing contests we take special efforts to write straight from the heart and articulate our views in crystal clear manner . The net result is quality enhancement in writing style. Today, I am glad that my life with two dominant challenges is filled with very productive activities such as writing, reading, listening, helping those who are in need and spending as much time as possible communicating direnctly with God for spiritual guidance. The ultimate reward is peace of mind.

A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it. - Ray Davis


About the Author
Dr. Prof. Rameeza Rasheed is a retired Professor of Economics with 30 years of teaching in JBAS college for women (formerly SIET college)-Chennai.

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