MediaParenting. Because...


It was a November afternoon in 2012. I got onto the narrow gurney and parted my legs in practiced nonchalance. The technician stuck the probe in with equal but real nonchalance and pointed to the black screen - “Look, that’s the heart beating.” I had not realized till then that I had been holding my breath ever since I had gotten on the gurney. I exhaled a tiny tear drop. There it was, my years of pain and prayer and hope. But no matter. She was come to me now. She was beating her tune inside me now. A wave of gratitude welled up and I gushed silently - “Thank you for coming to me, little one!”. And then I did something that every mother has done before me through all time. I made a fierce promise to that little being. “I will do everything I can to protect you, everything I can; so that you can be everything that you can be, the highest expression of humanity, the apogee of human evolution in thought and spirit - especially in spirit.”

Through eight months of pregnancy (this fellow was in a hurry), I watched everything that went into my body - and my mind. I listened to the most beautiful music I knew, the most soul-stirring kathakalakshepams (evocative expositions of scriptural tales). And I started getting my world ready. You know when you buy something and then you start noticing the same thing everywhere? There probably are the same number of people wearing ankle-length tights today as yesterday but you “see” them because you are primed for it. I was primed for baby - and everything I saw, I saw in her light. And what I “saw” disturbed me deeply. Everywhere, there was crudeness. Loud serials on TV, sleazy ads, Tom (in Tom & Jerry) chasing hot female cat, roadside Romeo chasing similar species, while beating up the villain.

Oh we've developed so much. There’s so much technology now - Wi-Fi, the ubiquitous smart screens. Yes, everything’s changed from when we were kids. And nothing’s changed. Fairness creams are still deriding dark women except now fair skin gets jobs instead of marriage alliances, women are still washing clothes whiter except Lalithaji now has a laptop and wears jeans, mainstream films still run on the formula of (Hunky hero + sexy heroine + evil villain) * (6 songs + 5 fights + 1 Item number) except they shoot digital now, aati kya khandala is now sheila ki jawaani. The websites have pornography and dark net, even the ISIS wants viewers on its videos, social media can literally kill, TV is a time-sink and zombie machine, screens are not just radiation zaps and ovens for eyes but as addictive as heroin. And if practice makes perfect, why are little boys practicing killing and burying skimpily-dressed female targets in their video games?

A being of light was arriving and I was readying my world for her. But my world was far from perfect. In fact, it was downright adversarial in many ways, ready to sabotage her budding wings.

Robin Williams quotes Thoreau in Dead Poets Society, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” Well, we don't have the luxury of going to the woods, unless it’s the urban jungle. But we do need to live deliberately, a considered life, a good life, a meaningful life, an essential life. We need to do our bit in raising up the collective evolution of humanity. But