If you ask me what I’m missing the most during this coronavirus menace, I’ll say HUGS. You see, I’ve this habit of hugging all my lady friends and children. I’m not talking of an obligatory hug! No! I’m talking of what we Parsis call a ‘daabiney-koti‘ – a big bear-hug. Youngsters come to me for what they call a mommy-hug and some call it a granny-hug. So you see, I’m very rich in hugs which are a morsel of love and a slice of affection. Each one of us wears a public-mask in a sense, but behind that mask is the living presence of God’s spirit – the one and only supreme spiritual-energy that flows through each one of us. I am hugging that energy – not just the person!
God disguises himself behind the rich and poor, the beautiful and the ugly, so that we have many, many opportunities to give back our love to Him by loving all these different manifestations and expressions of God, who we call our friends. The mask itself may be seemingly imperfect, yet we know that God lives within. In reality, God is love and love is God. God comes from only one source, and by hugging friends we can be grateful that many people in our lives have been beautiful instruments of that Divine!
‘Munnabhai’ knew that hugging is healthy. Research conducted in USA’s School of Medicines Touch Research Institute suggests we need four hugs a day for our survival, eight for maintenance and twelve for growth. Psychologists praise the therapeutic value of hugs and say that merely 10 minuets of parent-child hugging a day can help in curing childhood maladies like diabetes, insomnia, fear of the dark, asthma and thumb-sucking.
For a child, hugs, kisses and cuddles are more important than being fed on time and sent to school with all the homework done. Scientific study has conclusively proved that children who have never been hugged grow up to be emotionally unstable, insecure, maladjusted adults whereas cuddling and hugging a child gives it warmth, love, security and a big boost in self-esteem, resulting in a matured, stable personality. I may add here that every child must be taught to distinguish between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ hug, so that a child does not fall prey to perverse people with wicked minds.
Adults seem to outgrow the need for hugging and in a rocky marriage, hugging is the first casualty. When problems come in through the door, love flies out of the window, even in the so-called love-marriages. If couples can hug and cuddle each other during difficult times in a marriage (and there are lots of these), the marriage grows stronger.
The need for hugging is moreso vital in old people. Old age is second childhood and old persons cherish being hugged. Hugging them prevents senility according to one school of thought. Old people who are frequently hugged by their children and grandchildren are less prone to loneliness and depression. Of course, old people can be very demanding and troublesome at times, they are worse than naughty children but a few hugs along with comforting words goes a long way in pacifying them to do your bidding.
There are wide cultural variations regarding hugging. In the West, hugging a friend of the opposite sex is acceptable while in India, some fathers hesitate to even hug their own adolescent daughter. Hugging should never violate social norms of decorum and decency. It should project warm regards and not an iota of obscenity. It should be genuine, with real affection for the other, for it to be therapeutic and not like the social hugging and air kisses seen at parties which are too artificial and superficial to evoke any feeling except hypocrisy.
The therapeutic effect of parent-child hugs cannot be over-emphasized as they stroke the child’s emotions and soothe the mind. Remember when as children we’d get hurt and ‘mummy’s kiss’ would make it alright? Hugs are exactly like that – they make everything alright!
Boley toh, hug your loved ones – now!