Regretted of having taken decisions that led you nowhere?
Or, regretted of not having taken decisions that may have taken you somewhere?
Regretted of having attended to calls you never wanted to take?
Or, regretted of not having kept in touch while people were alive?
Regretted of having fought tooth and nail for a lost cause?
Or, regretted of not having calmed down to think clearly and discuss with rationale?
Regretted of having wasted time on crosses that weren’t yours to carry?
Or, regretted of not having tied loose ends as your own cross, now neglected became too heavy to carry?
Regretted of having said too much?
Or, regretted of having said too little?
Regretted of milestones that you aimed for but, couldn’t reach them as your destiny bounced you on a different learning curve?
Or, regretted of not having more than you have only because the misery around seems too supernatural to digest?
Regret is a demon.
The more it is fed, the more it hungers for!
The more it is attended to, the more it breeds!
The more it is invited, the more it destroys!
I wonder if things would have been different if words spoken at some instances were different? Words – the most powerful arrows to be let free from the bow called tongue, could create histories, change course of destinies and bring wars!
But words are underestimated. They are underrated. They are mere words.
And that is precisely the chink in man’s rationale. If words were mere words, there would never be a need for a doctor! For, it is only when he says – you will be fine, you truly believe you will be fine!
But then, words are mere words. Do they hurt? Are you meant to be hurt?
While I was advised time and again by my father about keeping the tongue sweet, I have always rebelled at the other lesson he constantly repeats – Do not get personal with people who hurt you.
I know he speaks with wisdom, sage wisdom. Well, he is 75 plus and a calm Buddha. And, I take things quite personally. I am incapable of forgiving people who have invaded my personal space and questioned my thoughts. I cannot stand people tearing down each other just out of spite. However, I have observed my father to be quite unaffected by the disruptive energies around. And, I wonder how he is able to glide past them.
With time, It has dawned on me that Age is not just a number like they say. It is a big fat journal of experiences of all kinds. It is a fate map that makes you traverse unexplored paths, course through rough patches with potholes and sometimes straight roads. And it is a stark reminder that every fate map even if designed on similar lines, is bound to be traversed through differently because of time and ofcourse, different genetic codes.
Time is not just a number either. It is that entity that brings out the best in those that were written off and, brings out fallacies in the most righteous ones we looked up to.
Age and time together become a great team when intent and habit run the less explored righteous path. In other circumstances, they become a team nevertheless only to bring down a life like a deck of cards.
There is so much pain I have observed this year in family, extended families, friends and in many others that I almost lost my verve to write or doodle. In moments of utter confusion, I couldn’t find my peace in two things I loved the most – writing and doodling. It felt strange for I could not bring myself to do what I would have been doing at any other time whenever I felt upset. And, there the truth was – Time. It wanted me to perhaps feel the angst, pain and confusion to understand its various forms of manifestations around us. I played along too. The one thing I have learned about any art in my experience is – Let it be. Do not force yourself on it. Do not possess it. It will come to you at the right time.
This is the same life lesson about people too. Apparently.
And today, I suddenly opened my blog and began writing. I lost my uncle on 7th Dec. He was my maternal aunt’s husband.
From the time I remember how the world looked like, I have spent almost a part of every year with him. What do I remember about him? Everything.
His teddy bear like face, his fine taste for brands in shoes (Hushpuppies), his clean and ironed clothes that were wrinkle free at any time of the day, his penchant for cooking good food and eating good food, his passion for driving, his love for children…….
And much more….
I could go on writing about this man but I want to stop. Because good memories hurt when the souls have departed. The voids remain voids. Nothing can fill those voids up.
World is cruel, I think. Good times always earn a lot of good will. Bad times tear down everything about a good person who ended up taking bad decisions.
Worse, Regret the demon only makes everything more unbearable. There are many instances of ‘only if’ that sprout now and one wishes – ‘what if…..’
Like my father often says – in hindsight, every man is wise.
Apparently, even the best of people lose themselves in a maze of bad time. I met my uncle last in January this year. And I am glad I saw him healthy and fine. And that is exactly how I want to remember him, smiling and ecstatic about whatever task lay ahead.
Dear chittapa, wherever you are…I hope you are in a good space. I hope you help your beloved by being her spirit guide. She needs that guidance more than ever. NOW.
You think you are safe from life troubles until you aren’t.
You thought you dodged a bullet until the bullet with your name hits you from no where.
You convince yourself – distance is your friend until it becomes your foe.
You assume optimism is a solution to problems until you learn that it is a return gift from a rough patch of time only after it has passed.
You think pain of others doesn’t affect you until you start losing appetite and sleep and their pain affects you too. You comprehend empathy.
You believe destiny to be cruel and heartless until you chance upon the now discarded sign boards from destiny which you assumed were scrap.
You demand healing to be fast but, that is the whole idea behind the process of healing – to be devastatingly slow and painful.
Time. It is such a leveller.
2020 has been Time’s retribution.
This year has been a deluge of punishments or maybe, harsh lessons on life. Most of us were made to swallow the bitterness and, learn to remember the taste. No one forgets turbulent times. They leave behind many scars, too many to forget!
And then follows healing.
Healing is a slow process. Painfully slow. It happens at a snail’s space, one day at a time. And, no two days are alike. Perhaps, one day brings you hope and the very next day shatters it. But healing is a series of sine curves. When you are on the crest, you assume you will be on trough until you miss it and, you jump on to another crest. And then 2 crests ahead, you wishfully relax and anticipate a crest and you land on the trough.
It is a learning curve that teaches you not to expect. And humans are designed to expect, by nature. The whole gambit of Universe rests on the premise of knowing when to take and when to give without succumbing to the need of expectations.
Every word we speak, Every move we make, Every step we decide to undertake is a part of a larger design and, we are at the end of the day- mere pawns that move on the board of Chess played by the Universe. But, by its own rules.
Every life that way is a chain of events. A series of many unhinged episodes of the butterfly effect. A banana peel if not thrown in the dustbin can be the axe that breaks someone’s back!
Hence, the onus of doing what one must and when one must lies with each one of us.
That is all to it.
The hourglass doesn’t stop. And hence, we must make the best of the time the hourglass spares us.
There is something quite irresistible about being acknowledged, about being promoted, about being appreciated, about being known. I cannot describe that feeling yet. In simple terms of comparison, it gives you the same joy you feel on seeing a rainbow after a downpour or, a gush of water through the pipe after water shortage of 2 days or even, a sudden credit of money because some old RD matured and, you received it exactly when you were swimming in an ocean of expenses..
The need to be known/acknowledged is as primal as the need to eat, sleep and to be loved. It appears to be small. And, it grows bigger when it is ignored. It is that small snowball that transforms into an avalanche when NOT tended to – The need to be acknowledged, the need to be appreciated, the need to be accepted with quirks.
I have pondered over this need for quite some time and, the more I observe its inability to unhinge, the more I am bothered. Yes, the need to be known is a leech that won’t leave on its own.
However, I wouldn’t diss this need so soon. It is just that it has a propensity to overthrow logic and reasoning when the need to be acknowledged crosses the line and becomes ‘need to be famous’.
The transition phase is the biggest chink in a personality wherein one doesn’t feel the change of having stepped over until it hits back one day in the form of ‘exposed’.
Celebrities live in a perpetual turf of fear that way. As much as they want to hide from the public eye, their need to be on the front page emerges winner every single time. Good or bad publicity, things eventually work for them barring their resignation to the fact that noone will ever know their side of truth.
Well, that is the story of celebs whose life we assume is a wikipedia that can be moderated. But, that is NOT the case with us people who are in between following the regular lifestyle and living the absolutely warm and comforting life that we are conditioned to enjoy.
And it is here, the need to be known becomes a common desire along with the need for a common man. He wants the best for his family and life and getting noticed on a good note is an added bonus.
However, I have begun to look at this whole “need to be noticed/acknowledged/appreciated” in a different way. The need is genuine. However, its fulfilment comes at a price. When the accolades begin to pour in, the stakes are raised and, the greed to reach higher pedestals replaces the basic need to just let be. Then begins the unease of being in the spotlight. Suddenly, oblivion becomes the mountain top to scale. And, the maps leading to it now appear blurred.
You now see where I am headed to with this post. Fame versus oblivion.
It is only after being seen and being well acknowledged does the knowledge of fear arrive – the fear of having let the world know too much. For, at that time oblivion seems to be the better defense and utterly unavailable as it wasn’t chosen.
The self feels both fame and oblivion must be visited with a difference though – Fame achieved on a good note must arrive on its own and never hurried! and, oblivion must be a choice.
It may be a hypothetical scenario but, such is the power of manifesting what we want. If we want it, it will be given. However, some unforseen costs shall be incurred. 😉
There comes a time when we all desire for the need to be seen and, need it too. Yet, there is a difference. Not at all times, the desire may be reasonable in making the demands. The life turf is not just about learning to live along with survival but also knowing the difference between the desire to ‘be seen’ and, the need to be appreciated.
So, we lost a beloved elderly this week. I wanted to write about this gentleman for many reasons as his life would make an inspiring read for many but, I choose not to for two reasons,
One, I haven’t earned my place to write. Even though I have always wanted to write about this inspiring soul that lived life king size and the beautiful ways in which his guidance healed and touched many lives, it is not my place. For, I missed knowing him before the last 12 years. And, I will have that regret of not having known him before the last 12 years. And yet, I feel blessed and lucky to have known him and his loving wife (who departed 2 years before) in the limited time span.
The second reason, it will be more appropriate for the husband to write about this wonderful man and his beloved wife, for this wonderful couple happened to my husband’s god parents who played parent figure to the husband in his most troubled times after my mother in law’s demise in ’96.
However, learnings must be shared and there are two crucial life lessons I learned from merely observing this gentleman and from the conversations I have had with him in the span of 12 odd years…
1. The ability to make and take bold life decisions to secure and protect one’s family maketh a man, a man of steel. (If I may add, a rare breed of royalty)
2. Be the root for your family tree. Be so strong that the tree stands hale, hearty and sturdy even aftet you are gone.
I am not going to repeat why voids left by departed souls never go away and how they quite incessantly remind us about the fragile twins of destiny – Life and Time that continue to keep the sixth sensed beings on a leash.
My woes are as much greater and as much lesser than woes of many and, this is definitely not about what I am feeling. That said, this post is more about offering perspectives. And, I choose voids today.
As a seventh grader, one of my uncles who happens to be a Reiki healer gave me a quartz crystal. He said, it is a blessed crystal and that I must keep it safe and must interact with it daily and, it will help me achieve my goals. However, he added that if I happen to lose it, I mustn’t fret because its life with me was limited and that, it chose to move on as it no longer would have served my purpose.
So, the crystal stayed with me for many years (I did not keep a count) until one day, I found that I had lost it. It left me quite inconspicuously. Rather it took me days to find out that I had lost it. I did not know when.
I am not going to lie. I felt bad. I brooded over it for a long time. I felt weak too. Maybe because a part of me believed in good luck charms. Needless to say, I was miserable. My parents seeing me distraught couldn’t understand how I fretted like a crazy bat over a crystal when I shed no tears for having lost a few pairs of gold earrings as a kid, as a teen and as an adult. I wouldn’t exactly term that moment as something filled with grief but I surely felt guilty of having taken the crystal for granted, or for that matter assumed that it will stay with me for life. Material attachments? Well, it was my mother who reminded me about what Uncle had mentioned towards the end, the lines that I had conveniently forgotten. “It’s purpose was over. What it came to do for you, it did. It was time to move on.”
I lost a diamond once and, I did not even realize so until many days later when the husband casually asked me why my ring looked weird. He first thought was that the diamond went black. Needless to say again, I felt miserable.
And, I brooded as usual. The point is I have lost gemstones when I was not looking. And, I would kick myself later – “How did I not notice?” They just disappeared without a goodbye.
However, the husband comforted me with the same words that my uncle and mum had, for the crystal. The diamond’s journey was limited and it moved on.
I never had a fascination for jewellery and since the two incidents, have considerably reduced my interactions with them.
So, coming back to the pivot of void, attachment causes pain. But, attachment also sustains empathy – the ingredient that soothes pain. Ever since I lost my first crystal, I knew that some voids are meant to come into life to tutor us on being rooted and, looking into oneself more. For, I really believed that the crystal did magic for me and its absence disillusioned me, rather made me doubt my abilities to succeed. It is strange how we perceive an entity in many different ways. My mum explained later – “See the crystal was magical for you, because you believed in it. Try the same magic with yourself. Believe in yourself first. Maybe, the crystal came into your life to teach you that.”
Somewhere along in our need to stay rooted, our beliefs often turns into an obsession and, we begin to fear outcomes that may not run in our favour. I have had umpteen paranoid moments and my father would always comfort me – “Whatever happens is God’s will. Even the ones we don’t wish for. So, leave it to the Universe. It will give us ropes if it gave us the problems.”
My parents never really endorsed idol worship though they do have a few photos in their Puja room (but no idols per se). As my mum often says – even our traditional golu is a 9 day event only for we must follow the rituals only if we choose to do it. Else, the 9 days are just the same regular 9 days. Eventually, it is the intent.Everything else is secondary.
Talking about voids, it is interesting how they emulate the gravitational force. No matter how hard one tries, the void always has the stronger hand to play and it kind of pulls us back to mother Earth with a thud. It is a reminder that the most important quality a human must cultivate is humility. There are simply NO two ways about it. We take people for granted. We take material attachments for granted. We take time for granted.
The voids grow bigger in proportion to the value we hold of what leaves us. Material things – a small void. Time – a big void. People – An unmeasurable void.
People. When people leave us, they take a part of us with them leaving behind a part of them with us. All those conversations that we could have had, the wisdom that could have been imparted and the guidance that would have eased the rumble strips are now locked away in a memory trove wherein their possibilities shall continue to play the grieving minds.
We often try to think the way a departed soul may have. It is not just a coping mechanism. It is the spirit’s wayof guiding from after life. Or so I believe.
Essentially, voids are meant to humble us all in more ways than one as they remind one of all primes and lows of life turf. A void is a chartered accountant who keeps the debit and credit balance of crests and troughs. It takes many lows of life to finally reach a crest and, takes just a blip, an inconspicuous predator of a bad time to push one on the trough. Sometimes, the moments spent in the troughs are so many that crests do not quite feel as home because the fear of coming back to trough looms large.
Life is fragile. Mind is fragile.
And yet, it could be a verve filled life with an industrious mind that grows roots made of steel and gumption. When a life is lived that way, the purpose is achieved. Even the Almighty gets to feel proud of his work at times. This elderly gentleman certainly gave the Almighty that moment!
Live life king size and, leave a legacy – strong and wise!
The first English movie I remember having watched with my mum was Sound of music(1965) which was followed by MecKenna’s gold (1969). The latter also happened to be the first english movie my mum watched as a college goer then.
The two were followed by countless movies that mum and I watched together. I remember how we enjoyed films like Rambo and Terminator and how we ended up remembering the dialogues having watched them umpteen times. My dad on the other hand found his interests lean towards the proceedings of Rajya Sabha, the editorials in newspapers and the nitty gritties of his 20 year old Enfield (the bullet that my father tended to with great care while the other bullets that his other friends had purchased then had already drifted to the other world). Frankly, I never quite understood his fascination with that bike and, my husband empathises with my dad as much as I still don’t quite get the same fascination of my husband for that bike.
Coming back to movies, Mackenna’s Gold is one gold catch. Anyone who hasn’t seen it, I would say has missed gold in his or her life. Hence, a few months back, I fervently searched for it in Netflix and Prime but did not find it. Finally, I found it on YouTube which was giving it on rent.
By then, I had already driven my husband mad with the obsession of watching this particular film with family. The husband reciprocated contempt, fair and square just the way I had been towards his idea of buying the bullet my father once owned (an ancestral version of the same).
So, it took my mum to convince the husband to watch the film. And, the husband finally gave in to my nagging that for the uninitiated, can be quite the ear worm that won’t go even after the purpose is achieved.
We finally watched it on youtube.
So, I had convinced the husband but in all efforts to be persuasive, I completely forgot about the progeny that had quite selectively inherited my compulsive disobedience. So in all the time we sat through the movie, the son frowned, grunted, made faces and finally slipped away to the other room after an hour of squirming. My enthusiasm in showing him the sets and the background of the film made in 1969 (even before hus parents were born) was met with absolute boredom. Though the son is quite the endearing kid who doesn’t like to disappoint me, his age got the better of his tolerance and finally, I was indeed talking to his hand. Quite literally, if I may add.
Soon, he was back to watching Rowan Atkinson (his favourite) in Johnny English on the second laptop.
But all my efforts were not lost. The husband was quite blown away by the film and, he was ready to watch it a second time.
A couple always has connecting threads between them. For some, it is ambition. For some, it is ego. For some, it is love for food or shopping. In our case, it is our common and deep love for great films, good books and traveling by road and having authentic cuisines at the road side dhabas.
Mackenna’s gold is one of those films that reminded us of our connecting threads that were revitalised with some chilled beer and snacks.
It was at that moment I knew I couldn’t have enjoyed this beer snack film moment with anyone else for what he said thereafter was the most precious advice he gave me as a friend, mentor and a soulmate…..
“Narayani, you cannot force the son to like what you like. You cannot force him to watch films you enjoyed as a kid. For instance, Sound of music may appeal to you. It doesn’t to him. Just like Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries do not hold your attention the way they hold his.
This may feel like a generation gap. Truth is, it is one natural process of evolution. He will have his interests. He will have his friends. He will make his own mistakes as a teen and as an adult just like we all have in our days as teens and young adults. We just need to be there to have his back when he sails through his years of peer pressures and Competitions.”
There have been countless times when I am utterly annoyed with the son only because he doesn’t take to music and art the way I do though he sings well and arts even better when he wants to. I remember my mother had felt the same about me when I just couldn’t relate to Carnatic music the way she did despite the fact that I sing moderately well (if I may say so). However, I was more into English music and, I still am. There was also a phase when I gave in to my mother’s constant nagging on why Carnatic music is amazing. I listened to it too for a few years religiously and despite my admiration for it’s oceanic knowledge trove, I simply couldn’t find my connect there.
In that moment, it dawned on me that I do not have to embrace what my ancestors may have taken to, diligently. And, if I am pursuing something else that deviates from what has been the norm, that also means my ancestors are guiding me in whatever channel I course in. As much as I felt the ‘eureka’ moment, I sensed my mother’s disappointment which ofcourse was not voiced. I wish I could have that maturity to accept even if our expectations are not met in their entirety. We still have our moments where our thoughts walk on parallel planes. However, unlike the unruly teen in me that might have wanted to prove her point, the woman in me knows that we can all agree to disagree. I gather it is fine to not be aligned along one path all the time. Every path that beckons us to walk on is a reminder on how much there is to learn and, in how many different ways.
The learning process varies just like means of cooking. You could always cook rice three ways. One- on the stove, two- in a microwave and three- in an electric cooker. Add a fourth and there is an induction stove. But at the end, you do get your rice plate.
Coming back to music, it has taken us many years of disagreements and grey strands to finally agree that we just have chosen different channels that lead into the ocean of music. My mum is an ardent fan of MS Subalakshmi (the legend) while I love listening to Kaushiki Desikan and that too not quite frequently. I love instrumentals from all regions of the world and my mum can never make sense of my taste in celtic and oriental music. The point is, even as mother and daughter, we are different and we are aware of the fact that we are. Yes, that awareness does strain at times but largely opens up perspectives we never knew were waiting to open their doors on us.
So, when I look at my son today, I am reluctant to admit that the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree and his choices in attire, music and hobbies do puzzle me, the same manner in which mine did, my mother.
Generation gap. I think the words need a makeover. I would rather term it as the revamped genome.
Isn’t a life being born, a miracle not just in terms of the XX & XY fusion but in the sense, how different the life turns out to be? We think, rather we assume we ‘create’ life after one of the many beautiful nights decides to reach the universal purpose of procreation and, we believe that the life we supposedly ‘created’ carries us in them. We continue to revel in the many antics of our progenies, reminiscing our own childhood or for that matter, taking the grand parents on the nostalgia laden train.
And then, when they feel the independence invading their thought process, the truth hits like a silent bullet from no where. The lives we assumed we ‘created’ now seem to have their own trajectories taking form. It is quite intriguing and intimidating at the same time to watch the minds question without inhibitions about taboos and ways of Mother Nature we rarely speak about. The other day, my son asked me who is an albino and why? The question sounds scientific. However, the scientific answer had to be appended with lines ,”the world has enough sunshine and, there is room for all of them to enjoy it”
Looking back, I wonder who all reside in me. For, every life that comes into this world carries so many ancestors in them, each different from the other. The other day, an officer quite effectively pointed out the genome tree and its branches that lead into lives that have been born and, shall be born.
And, we so predictably and presumptuously assume that our progenies must be like us.
I remember being compared with my paternal aunt who shares my blood group that is entirely different from that of my parents. It was also the time when, as a 14 year old I was studying about Mendel’s laws and the ways of mitosis and meiosis. I was intrigued by the way the recessive gene sprang up in every 7th generation (as I vaguely remember now) and it kind of gave me a kick then in being the second human in the family to carry it forward towards dominance.
Well, science does dilute our emotions in many ways. And, engineering kind of kills them. So post graduation, the little girl in me lost the spark of questioning and drowned in the abyss of understanding the modalities of AI protoypes. I am mechanically aware of my addiction to the device. And yet, here I am expressing on the same platform about the thoughts that run through me every now and then.
But, a machine will never know how a human has evolved through countless eons and, it can only pick up as much as the human mind chooses to indulge it with.
That said, I am in that space of time where I have begun to question most of my own conditioning (rather there have been moments when I do tell my parents that things could always be different and that, it only takes a leap of faith to try)
Yes, I have these open ended conversations with my parents which I have more freely with my father who always has been the balanced thinker in the family. I would call him that man whose EQ AND IQ have always been in harmony and that is perhaps the reason why he never immediately judges anyone ever. Rather his thoughts flow out in well measured words that often are a product of deep thoughts and many bouts of silences. But when those words flow, they always make the impact in one strike.
It is post 3 plus decades of my existence, I now have begun to comprehend why it is important to channel emotions and why it is even more important to know which channel we take to shape them. I now understand my father even better and, being his daughter I realize the power in observing without judgement, a quality I still have not been able to embrace. Maybe, I will call that work in progress.
The point is we are all constantly evolving like planets. We all have to think on our feet when we run out of the well laid rules and fool proof plans that our ancestors passed on to us. Well, they passed them to us as a dictionary and not as an exam guide. We have to find our own solutions.
Coming back to my son’s interests, I gather there was some nature conservationist in the genome tree of either of our families and that reflects in the manner he cradles bugs, beetles, frogs, earthworms, slugs and other crawlies on his palms. His connection with canines deserves a separate post.
I may never be able to shower love on insects, the way the son does. I never had an idea about getting a four legged baby and, the son dreams about them every night. He has more knowledge about the many kinds of dolphins and whales and, I had no clue about the varieties in sea mammals.
It has taken me a while to accept with pride and at the same, sporadic episodes of confusion over the son’s happy go lucky ways of life. The husband would often tease me, “You take stress for all three of us! So, why increase the count?”
Though it was a tease, it was also true. And it quickly dawns on me, the big difference between my son and me. He retains only what helps him feel alive and grow. While I on the other hand end up absorbing almost everything that happens in a day.
The realization births here. I wish I could be that way. To say the right thing at the right time and, to be unnoticed and yet, shining bright within.
Talking of generation gaps, I believe it is time to break the generation cycles that have grown redundant and rather pave generation maps that shall allow the future starseeds to question without inhibitions and to feel everything with no regrets.
I took to doodling as an escape from reality when things were not quite smooth, especially on the health front. When fears take over mind especially when phsyical health feels threatened, there is little that optimism can do. In my own experience of having battled an auto immune condition that scarred me for life about 7 years back, I have learned – the road towards comprehending spirituality always begins from hell.
The fact that the moment I sought solace in random abstractness in 2018, rose as an epiphany when my mind subconsciously took to a strange coping mechanism I never knew of. The feel of pencils in my short stubby fingers that kind of ran on the blank pages with a mind of their own is something I shall never forget. The force diverted my propensity to overthink and wallow in helplessness into experiencing the unseen yet profound presence around that came alive in everything my eyes could capture- the thick green foliage, tall lush trees, bushy beasty red mulberry worms, the snow capped Sun kissed Kanchanjaunga and the fleeting mist that would often compete with the Sun during the coldest months of the year.
By the way, do you know that self talk is important? I bet, everyone does. However, noone mentions how a pep talk to self could be as physically draining as moving up a refrigerator to the 3rd storey with little help. Perhaps, it is more exhausting than moving up the darned refrigerator.
Talking about the force I mentioned earlier, it was NOT exactly the comfort giving presence I had craved for while my dad wasn’t in his best of health then. The force or the presence as we shall know as, was far from how a mother would cuddle her child in her lap and kiss the forehead and say – Things will get better…. well, this was Mother Nature,Pa Mei of a mentor that she always has been and will be, was preparing me with her opening lines – Things ought to get far worse…and they will get far worse right before they get a lotbetter.
The truth is always hard hitting and quite the bitter pill that no kid wants to ingest. Ever. I was no exception and I guess, still am not. It is perhaps the acceptance of truth that is more terrifying than the truth itself. As of today, I am consciously aware of my truth and, even though it keeps me aloof and strangely puzzling, I am more at ease with it than being projected as something I am not.
To cut a long explanation short, no one wants to hear the truth the way it is – naked and bizzare. I had hated it myself when I went through the first 3 tumultuous months of 2018 when both my father and father in law had some harrowing times on health front and as luck would have it, at the same time. I even wished then I could be lied to about things then. But, lies are drugs. They give you instantly what you crave for, by snatching away your most precious – the present when you have the time, energy and will to change things for better.
Well, that is what my 3 year experience of being an amateur doodler (by chance), taught – Art never lies.
No matter what you do to camouflage your emotions, your art will end up spilling the beans. Whether people see those spilled beans or for that matter, eat them is a totally different matter. 😉
Coming back to Art, it is the one universal entity that has made me feel closest to the unsaid presence. Its bluntness and audacity that walks the talk with absolutely no fear always astounds me and, wills me to be the same. I think, it was that precise moment when I had begun with no particular thoughts in the cold January of 2018 that I felt a surge of energy flow through me like rivers that had gone rogue. My mother would have called that energy – concentration, something that eluded mewhile studying and, possessed me while I devoured reading Reader’s Digests, novels and political magazines as a difficult teen.
Talking of which, I have always been quite an emotional human right from the start, which explains why I am NOT quite drawn towards people who push all the wrong buttons out of spite or perhaps, by virtue of who they are (shallow and flamboyant)
So, when I encountered the tribe of the above kind in the cold year of 2018, I gather it was Mother Nature’s way of guiding me on a cold Winter morning in the mountains, towards embracing a healthier vent to emote than succumb to the predictable ways of wagging tongues.
That said, 2020 has been the forerunner in what you call the race for the worst year ever. Given how predictably challenging, mentally draining and physically exhausting it has been as compared to its predecessors, I believe that my sanity was intact all through the harrowing times of health and tribulations only because of this wonderful religion called Art that kept me steady and grounded though there were some good number of wobbly moments inbetween. That said, I have nothing but heart felt thank you for every experience that was thrown on my face (even the two unsavoury calls that I wished I had never attended to but I did because destiny perhaps wanted me to)
And so, I traipse back to my safe haven where I am unapologetically myself, where I do not have to please or follow obligations, where I am as sublime and as savage with no inhibitions whatsoever.
Age is a number. And yet, age is a reminder too. It is a long continuous road of all those milestones crossed, some with ease and, some with bruises. And today, I am probably more comfortable with being myself than being someone I hardly associate with, with people around. This year on that count, has added more lessons to my life, 2 of which will be imparted to my son and, my grandchildren in future.
1. IT IS OK TO BE MISUNDERSTOOD. (Intellect and sanity are not to be sought in masses.)
2. It is NEVER OK to be bullied by anyone, regardless of age or gender.
Talking of bullying and other sundry, mental health is a subject that has still not earned its place in the world of health. The generic term is often dismissed as depression which is just a scrape off the multitude of ailments that plague millions each day. This lockdown has not been kind to the kind I am referring to.
I have witnessed a case close home. Rather quite close. I guess I will never know what does run in a mind that has experienced trauma and hence behaves in a certain way that seems absolutely off the grid for the seemingly normal crowd. But, I have learned enough to know that MIND IS AS PHYSICAL AS IT GETS. The good and the flip side is the same and that, it is limitless.
So, if you fill it with empathy and growth, it expands into the sky absorbing endless creativity and absolutely mind boggling questions. Else, it finds its depth in an abyss of self pity where it decimates slowly into just another layer of turd.
Doctors can only help as much.
Pills can only do as much.
Friends and families can only listen as much.
But, the most powerful game changer lies within you. – The choice.
The choice to make the difference. And, no one can ever take that from you.
Remember that every time you feel the need to be rescued.
We are all born with ropes or life jackets, as some might want to know them as. It is the art of learning to climb ‘the ropes’ or knowing to use the ‘jackets’ that test one’s verve not just to survive but, importantly live.
P.S: the image I have shared is my take on ‘Tree of life’.
Of the many things that 2020 had to offer, one stood out quite as a brandished sword. It paused the time and made one reflect and introspect.
Flaws are always visible. But one’s own rarely swim to the surface of the masquerade.
I am no exception.
Before I continue with this post, I have to share where this reflection is birthing from. I had quite an unsavoury moment a few weeks back. Rather, I had 3 of those moments that involved 3 different women with whom my interactions oscillated between silent listening and some unpleasant confrontations. The last one was particularly the unpleasant one I had been trying to avoid for long. Well for a closure, there has to be consent from both sides and in my case, the other end had stayed open for too long.
So, the last call left a bitter taste in my mouth. I tried to understand why the call bothered me. Well, I knew why it did. What I did not know is how I could have handled it better. Sometimes, you have all the answers. It is the timing that fails you and, you finish poor while you could have finished high. That was precisely my issue.
Later, I sat down and pondered over all the words I could have said, all the points I could have hit and, all the pain and angst I had within me that I could have released. Well, ironically I did not express myself at all except that I justified my decision to ghost a person with a simple sentence – I do not connect with you.
I do not know yet if I was right in saying so, but I have always followed a rule I still stick by. You either have a healthy and a sound relation or, you have none. Keeping a relation alive only because of obligations and sundry is unhealthy. It is like holding on to a leech that keeps you on a leash.
I for one, have always resented the need to connect with people only because they have something to offer in terms of success. Such connections become a liability later.
For instance, ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ works well with school friends, siblings and couples. I don’t think the same principle works in a professional setup or for that matter, a hierarchy where relationships tend to foster over agendas and goals rather than friendships and soulful connections.
Perhaps it was my deceptive demeanour of NOT being rude to the face or, my propensity to be amiable as much as possible (drama is not my forte) that more often than not has let people in the past into believing that I am a work magnet and that I do not mind being taken for a ride. Apparently, my respect for a particular institution was mistaken for complacency and that is exactly where I faltered in expressing what I felt. For, expressing at that time would have been a fail-fail situation. You see, you cannot converse with someone who takes offence at the drop of a hat or, just on a whim. It is like trying to meet the Sentinelese in the garb of a missionary. No offence though.
Coming back to the after thoughts that clung to me post this episode, I realized my own flaws too. It takes gumption to call a spade, a spade. I would say I tried once or twice but it created more chaos in my life then. Ever since, I thought of embracing silence as a better idea. But then, that was my flaw that I half heartedly embraced. And, I own it today for the epiphany struck me all of a sudden – what was I fearing then? Had I expressed my annoyance in whichever way I could, maybe I did not have to carry a silent charade and tolerate the gobbledygook from the person who in her bubble believed could puppet the strings by virtue of her position (or authority whatever one chooses to call).
Thankfully, that phase was a huge learning curve. It took me 2 years to learn how to say NO when NO IS THE ONLY ANSWER TO BE GIVEN. It hardly matters who understands your reasons. For, if you know that your NO is justified, the world must accept it whether it likes it or not.
The call which I never wanted to attend was finally attended to and, hopefully gave a closure at both ends though it was not the closure the other end was expecting.
But like I said, connections and friendships must always stem from unconditional love and trust unlike conditions of perks and agendas.
I hope the point was taken though I never said any of what I am writing here. It is here I would also like to add – the entire episode was triggered because of something I wrote a year back and, the person in question read it. Again, it was a post that contained my feelings which, I believe I was well within my rights to express with fingers pointing to NONE in particular.
But like they say, when you are on a guilt ridden trip, the whole world seems yellow though the tainted glass.
That said, flaws weren’t hers alone. I had mine too. When an opressor exercises his authority with arrogance, the oppressed always has a chance to retaliate with the gumption to face the consequences that are destined to be cringeworthy.
That gumption skipped me and, that was my flaw. And, that is exactly why this confrontation made me uncomfortable. I saw my flaw. Rather, she made me see it and, I thank her for that.
As for the others who sit on the sidelines with the option to switch sides – I guess they are the cats on the wall who are seen but, are never seen through and continue to feed the delusions of the said people who are not used to seeing or hearing the naked truth..
Happy cats, right? Play the bad cop in shadows and be the good cop ‘where it matters’?
The most upbeat moments from the many during my school life were moments when I would ‘inadvertantly’ say the right things at the right time. Yes, I wrote inadvertantly. Because, the words that unshackled themselves from my head had one goal and that was to reach the mic. I remember them vividly because I can count the instances on my fingers, yet leaving scope for more.
However, life experiences are different. Though I love taking notes even today, it did not train me how to express the way I felt. Even today, if I were to confront soneone, I would still choose to walk away because justifying oneself is not only a misery but a futile obligation.
Coming back to debates and extempores, one of the amazing experiences I had in school was an extempore which i nailed when I was 17 and, I was surprised that I did. For that was the first of all times when I had not prepared any speech at all and, a speech I wrote in a hurry only made me fumble. Yes, I rehearse a lot before elocutions by habit. Maybe, it is those continuous years of rehearsals in front of the mirror (like my parents always advised) that helped me in embracing the novel habit of taking notes. And, it is perhaps this habit that helped me nail the event that day. Till date, I harp my son into the habit of taking down notes and, being my son, he is compulsively disobedient. So, I am my mother right now. Persistent and adamant.
The point I am arriving at is – debates and extempores were good rehearsals of life lessons in school. The only issue is, they are ideal case scenarios. Try to find the right words to speak at the right time in the real world as adults and, words often fail us unless wisdom is a constant companion.
So, every time life pushes me in quagmire, I struggle to understand and respond to a situation unlike my loved ones who think on their feet instantly and know exactly what to say and when.
Well, staying silent is my easy shelter. I am fine staying silent rather than regretting of not having spoken the intelligent words that eluded me exactly when I needed them.
So, I encountered a strange situation in the present where I found myself in a quandry of sorts. My predictable flow of avoiding confrontations changed dramatically. Rather, it changed course.
Details are inconsequential but a long story cut short, I severed ties with someone I used to know, for 2 reasons : one, I received a lot of pain from the said person and had no intention of continuing to receive it for my own good and two, it felt wrong on my part to delude the person into beliveing that the said person could control people and their lives by completely disrespecting boundaries.
It is quite the bleeding comedy of life that people often forget how they treated their teams when they were given a beautiful chance to lead at the helm. People who are kind don’t have to remember at all. But people who aren’t have to dig their brains for instances that portray them in a good light or rather suffer from a terrible amnesia where they supposedly remember only the times when they felt good. It is easy to tell an unkind person that he or she is unkind. What is difficult to understand is that insanity is the best defence and, has no cure. So if the person is unkind and effectively puts on the garb of a victim after having victimised everybody around, there is a slim chance for anyone to express in a healthy manner. Acting for some may be a second nature. But, acting out of compulsion only because options were – zero confrontations or, a cesspool of hate, is misery.
In my case, I chose the former and sailed through by not being vocal but ambling on a neutral gear to keep my sanity intact. Yes, writing was my outlet and it saved me from spreading my thoughts to others who were oblivious to the situation. Thankfully.
It is also difficult to make people understand that connections and friendships cannot be forced. The intent to bond must come from within. Besides, the reason to have shown restraint (answering why I kept silent, rather tolerating all the gobbledygook then) was strictly out of respect for professional space so that the purpose of why a team has come together to do something productive is not lost to a ridiculous sense of ego that feels must be satiated first. Unfortunately, this concept of coexisting peacefully is not everyone’s cup of tea and hence, will be positively misunderstood by people who know nothing about invoking love and respect and rather believe in demanding them like toys in a Hamley store.
So when the diatribe was launched on my silence then and my ghosting the person later, I was aghast at the audacity of the person who felt offended only for being ghosted by me on all accounts after having treated me like some asset for scoring personal goals.. At that moment, I felt the traumatised Richard Bucket who is perpetually on a rhetorical overdrive of being villified despite being the victim all the time.
The issue was a major dent on the ego of the person. And the dent became a fracture after the spiteful conversation.
Apparently, hurting someone was never one’s intention. But, protecting one’s energies definitely was. The difference is quite indicernable to the naked eye, but to a naked mind, it makes all the difference in the world.
But, it is here I would like to bring back my experience of years of rehearsals I spent on countless debates and extempores that I won. None of that experience helped when I received this call when I had conveniently assumed that the person would be graceful enough to understand and move on. Well ironically, when I had the chance to show the person the Dorian Gray in him or her, I just did not say a word of what my reptellian side would have wanted to.
I did NOT counter poise the ascerbic attack I had so meticulously planned in my head. I could have said so many things and yet, I chose a certain narrative that was hardly what I had imagined.
I later reflected on my response. A part of me was angry that I wasted the chance of getting back at the person with all the ammo I had but a larger part of me was glad that I chose NOT to become the person at the other end of the phone who is plain sad.
Life is beautiful. It gives almost everyone a second chance. Ironically, ego and power often blinds the eye and chances of redemption are thrown out the window. It is like kicking the blessings of life away when there is a chance to take the tougher path and be humble even if power rides high on your sleeves.
This conversation for me was one of those experiences that felt bitter and horrible but underneath left a life lesson of being a badass when the time demands, henceforth. The experience unfortunately also trained me to be mildly surprised if I really found kind people around and yet, I find myself not completely trustful of them.
That is how the said person has left me. Once bitten, twice shy? Maybe.
Leave people better than you found them.
It is a very profound statement.
When we meet people who hurt others by words, byactions in lieu of the authority and arrogance they hold and nurture and worse, do so knowingly, we end up disillusioned. We feel caged. We develop a deep resentment even if it is not in our nature to hate people. Worse, we lose hope of seeking kindness in good people too.
For, emotions are like the ocean. The waves cannot be stopped or controlled. And so, is the intent to bond. You can force people to do your bidding by using power or threat. But, you cannot force love and respect out of people you mistreat. Those are the two things you CAN NEVER EVER buy even with a million bucks in your account and with an army of people to help you with.
What does it take to earn love and respect?
Just be good to people without any agendas. No amount of forceful connections and gifts will ever equal the greatness of letting people stay happy in their own spaces and importantly, respecting their choices, freedom and lifestyle.
Just be kind to people and be sensitive to their problems. Do good without expecting and, you will be flooded with good things you never dreamt of!
Pull each other up instead of tearing someone down out of spite.
It is that simple.
I wish I could have said all of this to the person on the other end of the phone. But, my experience in debates and extempores taught me a crucial lesson even then as a young adult.
People you converse with need to have a certain level of sanity and intellect to understand your words. Else, the purpose is lost. And, so is your energy and time.