Surita Jhangiani

Writings and other musings

Our Teachers Are All Around Us

I’ve been thinking about leading with care a lot lately, especially when teaching, and more broadly. There is so much hurt and pain around us at the moment, while care won’t always solve larger issues, a moment of compassion can go a long way, and may help diffuse situations and prevent further hostility and out bursts of anger. Below is story of that reinforced the need to come from a place of compassion.

I was celebrating my mum’s birthday recently, and was reminded that our teachers are all around us. My mum is in a care home, she has ALS, which has robbed her of her ability to move and speak and has made her reliant on others for everything. Micro movements that we take for granted, such as minor adjustments to our sitting position, is something she needs assistance with. Because she can’t talk, she may spend hours waiting and hoping that someone notices her discomfort or responds to cries for help. Despite her physical impairments, cognitively, she is alert. I only get 1, 30 minute socially distanced visit a week with her. During this time, I make sure I connect with each of her siblings via video calls, as she otherwise has limited interactions with others. COVID has taken its toll on her, she’s isolated. Due to COVID visits are not as private as they could be and that’s okay, I’m grateful just to see her in person. My relationship with my mum is one of the longest and closest relationships in my life. As I was celebrating her birthday as best as I could, the person across from me was unhappy that I was “loud” and made their feelings clear in a passive aggressive manner. We’ve all reacted this way in response to annoyance. (As a side note, I am mindful of the volume on the speaker phone, and do explain my mum’s condition to others when needed.)

I forgot about the person’s comment until I left and walked by them. As I reflected on this incident, it reminded me of two points, that a moment of compassion goes a long way and it’s important to be clear in our interactions. I’ll focus on the former in this post. There’s always a moment before we make a judgement that we could take a different direction. This event helped to remind me of that, and to check myself and my actions. It’s easy to respond similarly when we feel tired, are stressed, or have had a difficult day. It’s easy to judge those we fail to understand. Ironically, or maybe as a part of my learning that day, my son was acting out. My spouse talked with him earlier, and I admired his patience, how he connected with him, and was able to create space for our son to open up. Later, I was tired and wanted to react when again he started to act out again. I really believe that people, children and adults, don’t mean to act out and there is a reason for the underlying behaviour. It took time, and patience on my end, and he opened up about his hurt again, and talked about his feelings a bit more. I’m grateful for my earlier lesson today, otherwise I could have responded in a way that closed the conversation (either through my tone or body language) and then I would taught someone I love dearly, that it’s better to hide our emotions than talk through them. Don’t get me wrong, this is not easy, it takes time, patience and self-regulation, but my day was a reminder of the choices I can make.

As I reflect on that day, the lesson to be compassionate and lead with care is coming through strongly, and has since changed how I interact with others. It’s easy to respond with criticism and judgement, we’ve all done this, myself included. I never expected this passing comment, she’s so loud, during my visit with my mum to hold so much space for my own learning and personal growth. You never know what gifts the day will bring you. If we’re open, our teachers are all around us. What triggers us, teaches us.

I’m sharing this in case it resonates or helps others in some way.

Thank you to my teacher that day.

Coalesced Memoirs

What is the point of a woman? 

In whose light were we created?  

we are classless citizens roaming the earth. 

Our bodies are not our own. Our minds are to be silenced. 

What are we?  

Why would anyone create a being with agency, but without agency? 

It’s a cruel joke 

You can achieve, but you cannot 

Live in state of constant flux and contradictions 

This world is not meant for you, but this is a place you must inhabit 

What is the point of a woman?  

It’s a cruel joke  

to bring a woman into this world with a tongue and an intellect 

For she dwells in a world were neither are recognized 

 How do you read my body?

You don’t. my body has been inscribed by the past that I hold no memory of.  Your reading of my body is a reading of the privileged of this world. My journey is buried beneath. Fragments may appear, but the inconsistencies wash away, and the grand narratives of our society continue to write their stories over my own. I was born in hope and grew into despair. I came to a place in my life where I thought it better not to appear, to disappear. Who would care? The world would carry on. One less mistake, one less burden. That is the beginning of my story.   

I came to this life and breathed sweet freedom. I was free to be. I was allowed to be. I cherished the quiet, loved high fashion. Sought out nature and peace. Tranquility greeted me. These were my early years. Then adolescences came and the clutches of society followed. An education for you? No, no. Not needed. Work hard, you will be okay. This was the life you destined for me? A life of servitude? Without an education you handicapped me. Left me reliant on others. Trapped and caged you sold me away. You shed tears of regret, for somewhere deep inside you knew what you did. But for the moment you painted them as tears of sorrow for another sweet child has left the nest. There ends your story of my life. In your mind I lived happily ever after. Any thought that things were not as they seemed were swatted away like flies. It’s easier to swat away thoughts that disturb the façade we have painted of our lives, than face a reality that brings into question the foundation you have built your life on. You had a role to play in what followed. Blind ignorance is what you sought. So, you toiled away your years in blinding beliefs and narratives that you did the best you could. But for whom?

I want to cry for all the dreams that could never be, for all the ideas that never came to fruition. For all the countless nights that I spent dreaming of who I would be, what I’d create and where I’d go. There was so much passion, so much drive, and it all came to a silent halt. For what? For whom? Did my sacrifices, no, did our sacrifices create a better today?   

Why was I so naïve to believe what the world fed me? That I am here to serve the needs of others, to mother and nurture, but never nurture my own desires?  Why did my tribe continue with a belief system, a way of being, that no longer served us? Why did my tribe tell me to be a good girl? A good girl, who never made any noise, was never seen, nor spoke, and least of all, never, ever, thought. Live within your confines and all will be well. But for whom? I followed years of tradition with muted obedience. I took care of others. As women we have no desires, no aches, we just continued to serve. Allowing our bodies to be define by patriarchs. Obedience was our only means of goodness, but even that would fail us. I was bright, I could have been something. Instead I chose the good girl trap.

Why did I take this all in? Why did I let these false beliefs create my foundation? A foundation that kept me small, and continues to haunt me. I can never be truly free of the seeds that were planted in my past, despite my desire to go forward, they sneak into my thoughts, bringing doubt when I most need my strength.  

Whose seeds have we continued to sow? The investment and expense is our labour; the cost is ours alone to bear. The distributor of the seeds simply scatters them and allows them to sprout where they please, including in our tribe. Don’t be fooled, you’re not better than us, you are us. You complete the work of our patriarchs, the agronomists, who have divided women, pitted us against one another. You are the seeds that sprout. You quickly accept your place and alleged privilege, and believe in binary tales. no one is better than rest.

Witnessing the Present

Live each day in the moment, live for today, who knows what tomorrow will be bring. These adages seemed clichéd. Spoken in a mantra of positivity, flippantly thrown to those passing through a moment of apathy. Yet, their wisdom only became actualized when hurled into the throws of impending death. If only we knew what cruelty awaited. How I’d take back every wasted moment, live it again and linger in what are now fading memories.  My search continues, as I face death, I continue to reel from what I lost, instead of living for what remains.  Moments of wisdom come to me like hail storms, strong and fierce, live for the moment, it whispers. Why do I hesitate? It’s easier to remain submerged in distraction, than to bear witness to the present, that brings with it both sorrow and joy.


I ache for an embrace that our existence will be okay 

That Fear can be demolished 

I want to breathe for life, and no longer hold my breath in hope that we exist 

I want a world where you can be free, and not be bound and chained by a world that commodifies you 

I want us to grow and not drown 

Why can’t I bring these hopes to you? I want to save you, but I can’t… I see the longing in you to live and the reflection in your eyes that I can’t save you.  

Please save what I love, but am losing 

If You Look Back Far Enough…

If you look back far enough

You can see the blood that has fallen from my soul and lies at your footsteps.  It amazes me how you never see the massacre at your feet. You calmly walk over my history as you smile and walk hand in hand with your kin, as if the world were made for you. Take a moment and peer at the past, a past you thought was beautiful is built upon my blood. You seized my blood; it nurtured your growth, but you never looked back and thanked what fertilized your world. Why? You’ve created stories of glories never achieved, fame that inflamed, all to bury the truth of the past. A past of jealousy and fear so deep that it depraved the innocent of sustenance, yet their blood sustained your growth.  

If you acknowledge my presence in you, does your glory diminish? The foundation of your existence lies in my death, my death grew you. You flourished with each drop, grew stronger, sought knowledge and truth, all from the bloodshed that lays your feet.  

But whose truth do you seek? 

The Submissive Death 

I’ve been inculcated into a culture of submission, I’ve lost who I was, or maybe I never got to know that person. The person I do know, holds onto fear with an iron grip, I can’t let go. I think I want to, but what lies beyond my beautiful prison? Violence? Rejection? Loneliness? I don’t fear the latter two, for my prison has brought me years of solitude, and my thoughts reject me regularly. I’ve come to embrace the narrative of my mind. 

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