And this is why I believe that certain meetings, connections are fated. There was really no reason for me to meet Mary Morgan. And yet, it was preordained that I meet  her at a time when am becoming a bit disillusioned with the idea of investing in hope, resilience, love, friendship. I did not know it then but I needed a living proof of  all the things that I feel too exhausted to give myself to at times. And there she was. Eyes blazing with sunlit, sky blue joy, in clothes that fell superbly around her yoga sculpted frame and instantly trusting and warm.

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Mary is the wife of the legendary Dr Benjamin Spock, the author of  Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare. Yes, the same book that was written in 1946 and since then has sold more than 50 million copies and according to some estimates is the second biggest seller after The Bible. Yes, the same book  that was passed on to me by another parent when I had my son over 15 years ago. And has guided generations of parents through the toughest, most challenging years of child rearing with its simplicity, common sense and empathetic advice.

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Mary was in Bangalore to launch Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare in India and talked about the need for a revised Indian edition though she acknowledged that in a country where millions of children live on streets and do not have access to a childhood, this book can do only so much and no more. She spent some time in Delhi with the children of sex workers and she is more determined than ever to play her part in making a difference to some lives if not all. She also realises that the book must be translated into many regional languages to reach more parents and children. The absence of the media did not bother her. She was not here to be photographed and written about. And the book sells itself anyway. She was here to listen, to gather feedback and connect with Indian mothers and to learn about their uniquely cultural issues. “I want women to read and blog about it..even the first book sold only by word of mouth,” she said.
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What struck me also was just how non-judgemental she was. When a young man in the audience used the oldest excuse in the world to explain why men cannot be involved fathers, ”Our job is to earn, their job is to raise the kids,” Mary nodded and did not jump into an argument. At the end of the event, she passed on the book to him and said good humouredly, “Read it and then maybe you too will change diapers.” She is sensitive to cultural differences and aware that change cannot be drummed into minds and people cannot be talked down to. They can only be convinced and that is what the book meant for Indian parents hopes to do.
***
Five minutes into a conversation with her, I noticed that she spoke of her late husband as if he was standing right next to her. When a guest shared how Dr Spock’s book had helped her through motherhood in a foreign country, Mary exclaimed, “Do you hear that Ben? How wonderful!”
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She hugged guests, they hugged her back.A guest planted a kiss on her curls and she smiled, “This is possible only in India!” But she is the same woman who was a steel-willed political activist and got arrested many times and has strong ideas about empowerment, women’s rights and human issues. And I glimpse that side of her, when she is asked to pose against a commercial banner and she refuses, politely but  firmly.
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Her story cannot be extricated from her love story and I was drawn to the impossibility of it all. The fact that she was in her 30s and he in his 70s when they got married. Both had been married before and the odds were against them and yet they lived in an ever after that has’nt ended with his passing away at the age of 95 in 1998. They were both strong individuals and yet lived in perfect harmony on a boat away from land for more than 25 years. How?
***
I asked her impulsively, “what have we failed to understand what you both did?”
She smiled,”Rumi describes love in so many ways and romantic love is just one of them but the highest kind of love is when you look into someone’s eyes and see their soul..their divinity. The exterior is never perfect but the spirit is always perfect. Love is a journey to understand that what is within is more important than the exterior.”
That simple. That tough. And like I guessed, she feels the presence of her love everywhere. She says, “Sometime back, he came in my dreams and gathered all his books and gave them to me. That is why I am here..to take his legacy forward. To keep it alive.”
Excerpts from one of the most enlightening conversations I have had in my life..
The first moment of connection with Dr Spock..did you know it would be life long?
Yes. From the very first moment I knew that he would be in my life forever.
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What is the one abiding memory you have of him?

His gentleness, compassion and love.
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What did he learn from you and you from him?
I am still learning from Ben. He will always be my teacher. I invited him to rediscover his youth. He opened the doors of the world to me.
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When you say you sense his presence, tell us how?
He is everywhere. In the morning mist. In the evening sun set, In the stars at night.In the eyes of a baby. There is no place he is not.
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What is wrong with so many of us  that we can no longer believe in love, are cynical, can’t sustain relationships and keep chasing the wrong things?

Nothing is wrong or right. That would be only judgement. We have just gone off the mark. We are disconnected from our own true self. We cannot satisfy our emptiness with materialism. We must realise our true nature. And then all striving and all chasing will stop. And we will come to rest in that which we truly are.
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Is simplicity the answer in love and life? Less is more?
There is no less or more of our spirit. We are always one spirit. We forget. Then we realise that we have separated ourselves from God. When we see the price we pay for that separation, we want to stop and realise what we truly are. We are the ultimate of all life. Always have been. Always will be but do we realise it or not? Do we live it or not? That’s a much bigger question. Simplicity is like a side product of the realisation.
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What is your message to parents, to individuals seeking meaning and fulfillment?

How can we seek if we don’t know who we are? We must first destroy the seeker. We then find that the seeker was an illusion all the time. Then what remains? We realise that which has always been there. We come home to that. In that lies the peace we are seeking.
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Any words on the book?

I think Dr Spock would be very proud of this edition of Baby and Childcare in India. He always wanted to help parents through out the world. We hope that this book will serve parents in India with love and kindness.

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Reema Moudgil has been writing for magazines and newspapers on art, cinema, issues, architecture and more since 1994, is an RJ, hosts a daily Ghazal show, runs unboxed writers, is the editor of Chicken Soup for The Indian Woman’s soul, the author of Perfect Eight (http://www.flipkart.com/perfect-eight-9380032870/p/itmdf87fpkhszfkb?pid=9789380032870&_l=A0vO9n9FWsBsMJKAKw47rw–&_r=dyRavyz2qKxOF7Yuc ) and an artist.