Have you tried stroking yet?

How often do you get stroked? 

Strokes here do not refer to the brain attacks or the jhakas that cricket fans are familiar with. Strokes are those gentle hand movements on a body that shows love, compassion or appreciation.

From a small baby to a wild elephant every single living being craves for strokes; and humans, the so-called most social of all living beings, crave for these strokes the most.

You must have heard about elders, and even doctors and nurses, advising young mothers to give oil massage (thel maalish) to babies with their own hands daily, before giving the baby a bath. Have you thought about the significance of this advice? Well, it’s not just for blood circulation or softer skin. The mother’s physical touch means a lot for the baby’s proper growth and development. It is a bonding time for the baby and the mother. It is the first stroke that he/she receives as they enter this new world!

As babies and small kids we get stroked quite often. However, as we grow, the amount of strokes we get reduces considerably. Strokes need not be physical all the time. There are two types of strokes: verbal and non-verbal. While verbal strokes are words of appreciation like “Good Job!”, “Wonderful”, “Smart Boy!”, etc. , non-verbal strokes could be a ‘pat on the back’ or as simple as a smile.

A fine example of a positive stroke is ‘Jadoo ka Jhappi’ from the movie Munnabhai. Few years back after watching this movie for the nth time in the television, I thought of trying it out on someone. Sitting in my office cubicle I pondered on how, when and whom to try it on. I decided to think it over a cup of coffee and headed towards the pantry. Lost in my thoughts, as I was filling my coffee cup, I noticed this pantry boy, busy doing his mundane work of cleaning cups. He had a very innocent face and was extremely good looking. I wondered how come I hadn’t noticed this young man before. Even though hugging this young man in the office pantry and thanking him did not seem to be a great idea, I decided to stroke him. I went to him greeted him with a warm smile asked for his name. He was shocked and scared and replied “Rakesh”. I said “Rakesh, you are doing a wonderful job! Thank you so much for all your good work,“ leaving him even more shocked and surprised!

I am not sure how happy Rakesh was, that evening, but I bet I was feeling very happy and content with myself. From that day on Rakesh would greet me with a warm smile.“ Good Morning Madam, aap kaise ho?” he would ask. “Yes it worked!” I would say to myself each time he greeted me.

Few days back another incident reminded me of the importance of giving and receiving strokes and pushed me into writing this article. My mom-in-law is a very artistic and talented lady and makes beautiful jewellery. A week back we had put all the items she had made for an exhibition in our residential layout. We were able to sell many items during the exhibition and people appreciated my mom-in-law and me for our good work. Days after the sale, I was taking my 3 year old daughter to the children’s park in the layout, when I heard a girl calling me “auntyyy.” I get irritated every time these young girls call me aunty because though I am a mother of a 3 year old, I feel I’m still not old enough to be called ‘aunty’. So I turned around with a grim face to see who this girl was. Diya, an eight year old girl grinned at me. She said, “Aunty that green necklace I brought from you, they are so pretty aunty, I wear them every day to my music class.” Her eyes gleamed as she described the green necklace. My face brightened instantaneously and I thanked her and gave her a flying kiss as she waved goodbye to me and my daughter. I don’t mind if she calls me aunty, I said to myself.

When I got back home, I thought about Diya. She is just 8 years old. She doesn’t probably know that she just stroked me. She doesn’t even know what strokes are. She was just being impulsive. But we rarely find adults who are impulsive at giving positive strokes. On the other hand, it is easy to find people who are impulsive in complaining and condemning.

It is ingrained in our life-scripts that it is not right to ask for strokes when you need them. This is fundamentally wrong. If you need a stroke, then there is no harm in asking for it, from the right person at the right time. My good friend was once going through a rough time. She used to stay with her brother, but was never so close enough to confide her problem with him. All she needed was a warm hug from him, but she hesitated to ask. One day she summed up all courage to ask her brother for a hug. “Bhaiya …can you please give me a hug” she said, her brother ran towards her and gave her a tight hug and tears rolled down her cheeks.

Strokes can have transformational effect on every human, so let’s give, take and ask for more strokes!

Happy Stroking!

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