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Musings of an Aunty Shooting for the Moon

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar reminds us to work hard, play hard, and follow our dreams.

We Punjabis are the one community that laugh the loudest, the hardest and the longest at jokes about ourselves. There’s this anecdote that stirs mirth for us Punjabis however many times it’s retold, and this is how it goes: there was a Punjabi man, in fact a Sardarji, who prayed every day, afternoon, evening, and night to win the lottery jackpot, for years on end. Finally, God decided he’d had enough of the man’s disgruntled grievances and in a booming voice, he said, “my Bhalae-manasa, how was I to give you a windfall win, when you’ve never, ever purchased a single lottery in all these years?”

Although it’s just an anecdote, like our ‘good man,’ we too, dream big and harbour even bigger ambitions, but just as easily, we get distracted or blame the rain or the ‘stupid’ people around us. We then lose our mojo and are quick to throw in the towel. So, surprise, surprise, rarely do we reach our aspirations.

Had Thomas Edison not lived by his oft-repeated tenet that genius is “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” we wouldn’t have had the 1903 groundbreaking, patented innovations that define our modern world, neither could we have lit our homes with just a flick of a switch. Although he wasn’t the inventor of the lightbulb, it was Edison’s legendary attitude to apply himself despite 1,000 failed attempts, and he never gave up on improving it, till he was successful in giving us the longlasting incandescent light bulb. However, to Edison, those 1,000 failed attempts were not wasted, but were a precursor to, “an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Our ancestors from time immemorial gazed up at the ethereal chanda, the elusive shimmering white orb shining amongst the millions of stars in the then-pollution-free night skies; and composed ballads and poems, while lovers pledged their undying fidelity under its halo. But the thinkers and tinkers envisioned a farfetched and overly ambitious dream to reach it one day.

It could very well have remained just that, a figment of an overly-active imagination and fodder for science fiction, if not for the generations of scientists who dedicated their entire lifetimes ‘aiming for the moon.’ They held on to the vision, however absurd and impossible it must have seemed, and didn’t let their personal lives distract them, neither did their faith in themselves or the groundwork of the many before them waver. The glitches and failures, of which there were plenty, didn’t deter them, nor did they rest on their laurels after successes. They remained gung-ho and kept a one-point focus towards the goal that one day, even if it wasn’t going to happen in their lifetimes, mankind would go beyond our own atmosphere.

Nonetheless, it would have remained an abstract, untested venture had Neil Armstrong not accepted the baton that was passed on to him and risked floating off into space for eternity, never ever to return to the small blue dot he saw against the endless and vast space. He braved it and took that “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And now, India has become only the fourth country in history to land on the moon with the ‘soft landing’ of the Chandrayaan-3 near the Moon’s south pole.

So, landing back into our homes, amidst our children and grandchildren, who, today, are free to choose from a million professional options. They are not locked into the tradition of our era when girls graduated into housewives and mothers, and boys were destined to sit behind the table their grandfather and father had sat on earlier. While freedom of choice comes with great responsibility, it’s their life to lead and live, and not ours. What we can do, is while remaining realistic and accepting of their strengths and weaknesses, is to be supportive and encourage them towards their goals, but prompt them to differentiate between working hard and stretching themselves to the breaking point. Remind them that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and can also make for a depressed adult!

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