Reprehensible emotions & Sensible abstractions.


How usual it is for people to come and advise you about how you need to be in your life? It is unusual if people don’t.

Right? Right.

And today, I happened to pen down some thoughts on FaceBook on how locks and keys are an important aspect in our lives. We have a lock for our homes, cupboards, lockers, racks and so on. And, we also remember to unlock them, be our closets to wear choicest outfits or, unlock our passions in the arms of our loved ones or, unlocking our budget savings when we have to book a dwelling et al. But, these locking and unlocking come naturally to us. Maybe, we are at the most primal selves in the above mentioned stances. However, there is one thing we subconsciously lock but never bother to unlock while we assume that we have keys for all our important locks. And that one thing is emotions that come naturally to us when we do not envisage the outcome of events, that play against us while all the time we assumed, would never fail us!

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To say NO when it matters, to say what you feel without feeling offended about offending anyone, to pursue what you want by channeling all your emotions into what you love is perhaps the most difficult lock to unlock. It is a battle. Every day.

 

And, I happened to realize what unlocking emotions lead to, when we just give them a chance to express. That is what this post is all about…..

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The start of this year began on unsettling notes for me. With the son embracing his new year with measles, with my dad going through a surgery at the same time while I was very far far away from him, with the fauji husband on duty battling insane cold in some rough terrains and, with me who for the first time clung to her phone as if it were a lifeline because my mother needed my physical presence but, she had to do with hearing my voice, 2018 had a shaky start for us.

And, for the first time in life, I felt the pinch of distance. Those days in the past one month moved like a snail. Sometimes, i would simply sit on the porch of that guesthouse in the far far East and, look up and wonder….why? why? Is there no respite?’

To stare blankly at a mulberry worm or, at the blue sky view laced with the greens of the thick canopy of trees felt like applying a soothing balm on my bleeding headspace. Every time I walked and looked at the snow capped mountains, I wanted to lock the image in my head safely so that i could remember it whenever I wanted…..Mountains have that effect on you…..you realize you have seen and felt the Almighty by the mere sight of them. And along the way, there was this beautifully painful lesson I learned….while I stayed there….

“Sometimes….you just got to wait. You just got to trust the universe. You just got to train your mind to act sensible and, not sensitive.”

How difficult can that be?, I wondered in the years before. In my carefree days, my father used to advise the same at every given chance. However, it is this year I comprehended his words in its truest sense……

How difficult can that be? Answering that feels difficult too. But this is how it felt.

It felt like being stretched to your limits. And, while you struggle to touch the unfathomable limits, you also meet your doppelganger in desperation that would do anything to set things right again. It is as though we all have a selfish side that wants to universe to listen to it first. It is like becoming the prehistoric human who is frenzied about solving his issues no matter how they ought to pan out.

And, it was in that first week of this year, when I was at my lowest self. With an unwell child to take care of, my heart was racing fast because my thoughts drifted towards my unwell father and my strong willed mother who were tight lipped about their state for a long time.

And then, I looked at my son. Despite running a very high fever for three consecutive days, despite having sores deep inside his throat besides the exterior, despite not being able to have food and water normally, the boy was busy doodling. The images were not easy for me to understand. There were animals, trees and, a lot many images that were explained to me later. The rest of the time, we spent watching movies together….and it was as if the boy had prayed to the Universe for Jurassic movies and each day, there was one of the series that would be premiered.

That moment was as though the Universe was forcing me to think, think deeply over my purpose, how I must battle my indecisiveness  and, how I need to lift myself up when I don’t have people to do that for me physically. And, I took the son’s cue and began to mindlessly doodle in a notebook that I had bought ages ago to prepare some notes….

I am not even sure how time flew. It felt as though the noises in the head fell silent for a while. I wondered if this is what people know as meditation when the thoughts arrive at zero? In all those years when I would compulsively sit to meditate and, do breathing exercises, my mind would feel trapped in a closed glass case with a million fluttering butterflies. And now, when I began doodling, I felt the glass case shatter to pieces but, the butterflies were still fluttering around however in harmony.

If I learned about the incredibly dark powers of fears in the past, I also comprehended the enormous strength in the subject of abstraction. When I finished my first doodle, I had whatsapped it to my husband and my parents. After feeling pleased, both ended up asking me the same question – “what is it, actually?”

And, me being me who did not know answer to that either, quipped – “you don’t have to make sense of things always. Sometimes, just enjoy the chaos and let it be.”

Something I learned from my first grader son.

But there is one thing more I also learned stumbling through the phase….

“You may forget to ask the Universe what you need. That is perfectly ok. But, NEVER FORGET TO THANK THE UNIVERSE LATER when you get the things you need at the right time…..”

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Well, I am with my parents for a while now and, am trying to be more a help and less a pest. I assume, they see me as a help. That said, the juggernauts still lie ahead in clusters. And now I know, I need to channel my emotions somewhere lest they take a toll on my health.

So, when I tried….I have to admit (If I may add a bit of child like pride), that I actually surprised myself. What rambled out of my head fetched me ‘wows’ from many of my well wishers. I really did not expect any kind of feedback because I never considered myself to be an art person at any level. Even during school days, it was my mum who would do the colouring, painting and supw work for me, not because I was averse to it but because, I was horrible with these things then. So much that my mum could not see her only child failing miserably in arts while the only child aced Math and Science! And, after all these years, when I surprised myself with something, I felt I could not thank the Universe enough for making me unlock something that was dormant and NOT non existent!

I do not know where these roads shall take me. But wherever, the Universe leads me to, I have decided to trust it.

As I end this post, I shall share what I felt when I finished my first doodle…

When times were rough, I fell on my knees…….

The paper and pen beckoned me and, they loved me back as me…..

Sometimes, we all need to unlock those emotions to flow like an unrestrained river but, calmly. The results are surprising.

By the way, this is my first doodle. Definitely, it is not the best to a critic’s eye or, even to an amateur like mine. But, this is what gave me the confidence to take my steps ahead. And so, this is what I have decided to share.

my first doodle

P.S: I have made a few since then though they are shared on my page on FB which is not visible to all.. So will be creating a blog for my doodles in future. So, stay tuned. For more 🙂

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Words – 100 Grenades with 99 pins.


It was somewhere in the year ‘98 or ’99 when AOL was the new ‘in’ thing. But back then, it was the next big thing after IT. It was some kind of spiritual revolution. Office goers formed the chunkiest sections of this fan club. And, AOL paved way for many spiritual gurus who emerged quite successful with powerful oratory and, ‘enlightenment’ derived from Hitopadesha…Upanishads…Bhagwad Gita….et al. My father was an AOL follower during his days in service. And then, began the coaxing and cajoling. “You should attend at least one of the lectures. It is good, kanna. Why not go once? Just try the experience first hand. Meditation and Yoga are taught with such finesse.” I had umpteen arguments with him and, given my age then, I was absolutely gagging over the entire spirituality shebang! My mum remained distant from the topic as she never really entertained gurujis advocating spirituality. She used to seal the argument with that one powerful punch of a sentence – “How do these spiritual gurus WITHOUT ever having gone through the arduous rigmarole of the term ‘Grihasti’, preach so fluently about anger management, peace of mind and, art of living? I neither understand the guru nor the disciples!” (my mum unlike dad jibes rarely. But when she does, it is like Indra’s Brahmastra! There is no weapon to disengage her sarcasm!)

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But all that did not stop my father from showing me the pros of following ‘spirituality’. Regularly, he would hand me something written by AOL spiritual head. I used to read. Not because, my father asked me to. But because, I simply loved to read. And in this particular case, I pounced on every article he lent me only to find loopholes in the ideology. Every reading session was followed by a loud discussion on why we both were right about what we advocated for, though the two ‘right’ things were as different as chalk and cheese.

Oh yes! My teenage years were absolute bonkers. My parents pushed all the wrong buttons with absolute pleasure to ensure I did the right thing. And that is how I was hooked to reading newspapers and political magazines like Outlook and India today since my fourth grade. It had so much to feed discussions and arguments, you see? And, I was like that debate magnet! I just wanted to prove the whole world wrong then. Don’t ask what it was. Age or hormones, I am not sure. Well, you see I am again digressing by habit. So, where was I? Spirituality. So, my father assumed that I was averse to AOL only because I found its reviews ‘diabetic-aly’ sweet (I wanted to write diabolically, but then, no ill feelings to be harbored). Since, my father was reading many books on the subject, he badly wanted me to see what he was seeing. Unfortunately, the generation gap played in my favor. I couldn’t and, wouldn’t budge so easily.

And then, another spiritual guru came along. This man is a learned man and, he hailed from Bangalore and, ran some kind of school cum home for special children. He was conducting a workshop in Baroda and, without asking me, my father enrolled me in it. I was furious for two reasons.

  • One, I wasn’t asked.
  • And two, he shelled out 1000 rupees for two day workshop and, I could see a beautiful dress I saw in a show room slip out of my hands.

That morning, I was to travel with father’s friend and his daughter to Baroda for that workshop. I became a couch potato with absolute conviction, not ready to move my bum a bit. And, my father could not understand why I was being so stubborn. That morning, anger crowded the air. My father almost lost his cool when he saw me still not ready to catch the train that was to leave in fifteen minutes. Finally, mum took a break from her chores and told me categorically“See! I am not into this spirituality gig. But then, you both are fighting over such a measly thing! Look, Narayani….If not for yourself, just attend the workshop for your dad. Atleast, you will meet new people. You will make more friends. What is the harm? You aren’t losing anything. Food and shelter is taken care of.”

I suddenly caught the sound of new people and, new friends. Although a seventy percent of me was still unwilling, a thirty percent of me started pushing through. And so, I decided to go. And, it is not some disciplinary workshop. It can’t be that bad.

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Surprisingly, I enjoyed the workshop to my heart’s content. The man was a wonderful orator. (Before I forget, I have to thank my father profusely for enrolling me in this workshop. Because, what oratory means was comprehended by yours’ truly for the first time….and, I won many Inter school debates after having attended that workshop)

Coming back to this event that I speak of, the way this man conducted meditation and yoga was absolutely amazing. Sitting with our own yoga mats and, doing meditation in a crowd of over hundred people, I was a bit taken aback by the energy dynamics. Just imagine, a place like railway station or, an airport or a school. Even twenty people are enough to create a noise that tests your Eustachian tube’s resilience. And here, there was pin drop silence. I gather, I could almost feel what meditation is like. Absolutely comfortable in one’s own skin. If one had to take effort to point out noise, there was just this soft breathing of fellow meditators. That is it.

The two days flew away in a jiffy. I was floored by the man’s command over English. We also danced towards the end on some MJ tracks. It was cool. It was a fresh beat to my otherwise mundane routine music. To dance mindlessly, make new friends so easily and, to be oneself with no pressures in a crowd that had people of all age groups was something I cherished for a long time after I came back.

So, I came home with a resolution – Meditation and Yoga are happening every day. No matter what.

My father was visibly impressed. My mum was as usual nonchalant about my sudden bubble burst of enthusiasm. And, I was mighty pleased with self.

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Two days later…..

Two days post the workshop was all it took to throw me from the fluffy clouds of meditation and serenity into the daily grind of academics and, more academics.. And, all my calmness dissolved into the molten lava of all the pending class work.

I couldn’t meditate the way I did there. I couldn’t bring myself to do yoga like I could do there. And, I ended up comparing every experience with the one that happened there. Frankly, I felt miserable. I craved for an experience there.

So, what was there in that workshop, that was not here at my home?

I will get to that part later.

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It has taken me about two decades of life experiences to understand that words are 100 grenades with 99 pins. You never know how the one without the pin shall explode – In your favor or, against.

Words are those bursts of flavor that kiss your palate and, make you crave for the zest. They are like those pipes containing Hash.. that once puffed, will drag you back into a world that plays your senses sensuously. They are those strings of connection that seek a certain energy band to fit in. They are the most powerful weapons that man has. The fact is, some men know how to invest in the power. While, some fall for the con their own tribe weaves.

To see how words affect human beings, just go through the Internet. You read a fiery post and, it starts creating chaos in your mind. You read a psychology post, your mind starts to relate to it. You read about the chakras in your body, you start identifying with the methods to improve the state of your chakras. You read about some experience of a person that resonates with yours, you are filled with exhilaration that you aren’t alone. Well, it is not how the mind plays you. It is about how words play our mind here. Our feelings and emotions are string tied to words we let into our mind. Study a particular kind of books, and the mind ought to get trapped in ideologies of that particular subject. It is a very natural phenomenon. The same applies to people who preach about spirituality. Those words seem to take away pain, stress and other uninterrupted emotions for a while. Men and women conducting workshops to mentor people about how to manage lives with zero stress precisely know who they are dealing with. They impart their knowledge in a way that the crowd feels as though they have been deprived of this wonderful piece of information for so long. They feel so indebted to their mentors. Nowadays, it is not just the ‘gurus’ but even retired corporate employees who have taken up this gig and, are doing an amazing job lifting spirits, imbibing sense of community and, bringing in the power of prayer chains. I have deep respect for all those who are doing it with a genuine intention of instilling brotherhood in people. Did you know FaceBook has become a one stop complex for healers and mentors. That said, there is no free lunch. You got to pay if you want to heal.

I understood why I felt miserable a couple of days after that workshop. “You got to pay if you want to heal” – This is exactly what I comprehended within a week after that workshop I attended.

And, this is exactly the point I want to break away from the façade of inspiration for two reasons.

  • One, I fear being overpowered by the urge to un-follow myself and, follow someone because, the momentary workshops de-stress me for a short while.
  • Two, I have come across real life people who are healing people without mentioning a thing on FaceBook and Twitter. And, it is only after knowing them I have understood how difficult it is to take the road of less fame and, still put your heart and soul into healing people.

As for the fame savvy spiritual healers who conduct fabulous workshops for people, I have a few earnest questions (trust me, I am seriously trying to understand):

  • Can you truly feel the pain that you haven’t experienced ever?
  • Is controlling pregnant fears of mind synonymous with running away from reality by simply diverting your mind for a particular time window so that, the fears don’t overwhelm you?

I am sure there are going to be countless answers and explanations laced with science and logic. But then, I shall yet remain unconvinced while you answer both the questions in affirmative. While I shall take time to go through answers and prerogatives, I would love to share what makes me come up with these questions.

How can you possibly cure someone of a pain that you don’t know of, just by some healing art you learned and, was convinced that you can control your mind? No offence here because, I believe in Reiki and, very strongly. What I don’t believe is, people learning it by doing a course. To know how powerful your mind is, you must be conscious of what it is capable of turning you into when you cross over to the dark side. So, have you met the demons in you? If you haven’t, you cannot preach about the bright Sun without understanding the experience of Eclipse! That level of consciousness where you are able to visualize your own other half that you are hiding from the world, is a terrifying prospect to unveil. But, it cannot be ruled out. Because, time decides how the odd shall engage. In or against your favor, is not in your hands, friend! If you have watched the movie Ice Age : Collision Course, there is a scene where Manny and his entourage enter the land of healing crystals and, things are unbelievably hunky dory with animals stuck in their ever green youth and, with waves of optimism flowing like a perennial river under the rule of their top man – Shangri Llama, the leader of Geotopia, an epitome of serenity. It is only after the asteroid attack, the reality surfaces. Shagri Llama gets angry too!

Is controlling pregnant fears of mind synonymous with running away from reality by simply diverting your mind for a particular time window so that, the fears don’t overwhelm you? Having battled a serious medical condition that introduced me to dark fears of life besides gifting me with some life long side effects for life that I believe I am strong enough to endure, I can assure you that there can be no better mentor than fear. Well, how you face your fears is something you cannot learn from any guruji or teacher. You just have to do it yourself. No crash course in holistic healing is going to enlighten you more about your mind than your own dark fears, fears that you fear to embrace.

The other day, when mum and I were discussing about this topic (this is one of the few topics that we agree upon), I asked her how she has dealt with the bleak phases of her life without approaching anyone? For my readers, let me tell you that my mum is someone who is made of steel. She was married off early. And, the first ten years of marriage (before I was born) was not a cake walk for either my father or my mother. With extended family to support, my parents had it tough. And it was in those years, my mum suffered health wise and, slipped into coma for a month post my maternal grandfather’s demise. When she emerged from that period, she found that her nails and teeth had deteriorated. She had lost a lot of weight. And, the worst moment came when she found her left leg struck by paralysis. To take every step ahead, she had to lift her left leg physically up and then, place it down. The doctors said she cannot walk normally ever in her life.

One year, people! One year is all it took for this woman to gather her will power and determination to making that leg walk! If you did not believe the reel life Beatrix Kiddo wriggling her piggy toe after thirteen hours of conscious paralysis in Kill Bill series, then you better believe the real story I am narrating here! And boy, she walked and how! I still cannot match her pace when we go for walks together.

In those years, the doctors also mentioned that she will never conceive. But then, she did. I was born exactly ten years after they were married. And, I came with my dad’s cherubic face and my mum’s curly hair!

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I asked her once – “How did you find strength in those days? How?”

And her answer was as simple – “I listened to music. A lot. I love listening to devotional songs and, I healed. But what I learned is – Learn to trust the Universe a little more than yesterday. God is watching over us. If He pushes us into a hell hole, He will also give us the ropes. Trust that!”

It is years later when an old family friend from Orissa Chapters of my parents’ life visited us in Bharuch and, narrated about the tough times my parents had in the first ten years of their marriage, a time when every couple around them were enjoying the highs of life and youth.

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Today….my father is a changed man in many ways. He doesn’t follow any spiritual guru now given that, he has seen and handled turbulent storms in his life, way more than what many people his age have seen and undergone…My mother is the same tough bird who is very vocal about rubbishing ‘spiritual’ nonsense. Like me, she believes in the power of Reiki. Only not in people who claim to be healers because they did a course.

And, I have become a selectively vocal human after facing my health woes and subsequent fears heads on! Yes, I still get anxiety attacks. I still panic over the 2013 episode. For some reason, my subconscious mind does not let me repress it. But now, I am not as paranoid as I was a couple of years back. Because, I believe that even those fears are signs from the Universe. They are perhaps making me aware of my thoughts, my words and, my actions. And, that is a huge learning curve that I am riding on currently.

Have I made peace with myself? Just to an extent, is my answer.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to conquering my fears and, embracing my volatile side with the same love as, I project my saner side out.

And, that is what spirituality means to me.

To be myself. To be Unapologetic-ally me. Anywhere. Everywhere.

i

When emotions simmer in the mind wok…..


…..anger is the first condiment we want to add!

How many times have you been able to control your anger when the urge to scream your lungs out with the most piercing words was simply tearing you apart?

How many times have you gulped down water so that you could just divert your mind towards feeling the soothing liquid slide down your throat because, even a little diversion is a great diversion from your woes?

How many times have you mentally waged wars on people you don’t understand, and not necessarily hate but, dislike intensely given their lack of empathy and understanding?

How many times have you felt victorious in bringing a person’s ego to your boots in your head because, reality of that sort is simply far fetched?

How many times have you felt disillusioned with all this anger within you because you feel a misfit, a misunderstood human, an angry human?

Anger is quite a potent emotion. Boy, how it plays your mind at times! The most fierce phase of this emotion is when it wants to flow out and, it is restricted. It is like getting that one last high smoking the last cigarette! But alas, it is never the last time.

Because, giving in to anger is like pressing the button for a chain reaction to begin. There is no end to getting angry then.

Because, when the chain reaction begins, even immaterial instances such as a cluttered home, a cranky child, an indifferent elderly and a, half read book rake the hormones within you.

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But does that mean, one shouldn’t get angry?

While I have read countless books on de-stress and calming down and have attended a few lectures too, I have realized over a period of time that nothing prepares you physically or mentally for a situation that you haven’t encountered yet. Even if you are encountering a similar situation again in life, you still shall have some new hiccups that you may not have met in the previous one. And, it is an observation that when a scenario emerges with an unsavory change in energies, anger and confusion are the easiest emotional attire for the mind. No amount of energy management or calmness prepares you for situations you never knew, existed.

The past few weeks made me realize a thing or two about harsh times. One, you and you alone will have to bear your cross no matter how heavy and suffocating it is. Two, you will always find a way when you trust yourself alone.

For some good reason, this post decided to tumble out of my head considering how slow the past few weeks went for my family. The way some events turned out in recent past is a stark reminder of how expectant we tend to become whenever we have something to look forward to. And, how disillusioned we become when, we don’t seem to get all the brownie points we wished for.

These weeks also reflected to me, my own emotions and mind map that has been tangled into a tight knot of unfiltered emotions. It is said that when you cross a certain green patch in your journey, you may find some potholes ahead, too many in one patch. And, that is exactly how the year 2018 began for me. It felt as I was jumping over those abysses that were suddenly spurting from no where. Anger became my defense mechanism for my vulnerable side for a while as I couldn’t do what I wanted when I wanted. Also, tt is difficult to stay cool and composed when too much of unsolicited advice comes your way. And that is when, I was reminded of what my dad said to me when I was going through a health crisis about five years back.

 “There is no need to tell people when you are going through a rough patch. One, not many of them will be able to help you in any way. And the ones that want to, might unintentionally create more confusion for you by giving too much of advice which, only adds to your anger. Remember, God helps those who help themselves. Help will arrive in unsaid ways. You just have to trust the Universe. With a lot of patience.”

The way my parents and my husband kept the news of my health crisis then, a secret from the world was simply an act of courage as I see now. When I was going through what I underwent then in 2013, I accumulated a lot of anger towards the Universe for putting my family through a pain they neither deserved nor were prepared to endure. But the same anger also taught me to be patient. It was as though I was being put through a series of pressure tests of the incomprehensible kind where I could almost feel my mind as a separate entity. The mind had gone insane for a couple of weeks in that web of agony until, I hit the rock bottom.

And, that was my moment of epiphany.

You need to gulp anger to taste nectar.

You need to hold that anger and, shape it into something tangible.

You need to bring all that anger together and, vent it in a way that it comes out in some form healthy.

Anger, I have learned over the years, is as potent as fear. It is as powerful as fear. It is as enlightening as fear.

It was that year 2013 and this, 2018 when I realized how potently the mind is controlled by anger and fear of unknown. Mind in itself is such an entity that works like there is no junction to take a pause. It has so much to give. Unfortunately, it does not have too many vents. Somewhere in our body, there are energy blocks that force us to go into a shell and, remain listless till we wait for the phase to pass on, which becomes slower with the whiff of that thought and attitude. It is as if the mind and the body work at diametrically opposite paces. And, that lapse in their coordination results in anger over self, people and the situation.

For instance, when a maid ditches you without notice on a day when you need her help the most is one of the common examples of intense anger towards a human whose standard of living is way below yours. Or say, you gave a responsibility to someone and, that someone did not care two hoots about it…Or, when you are not only NOT appreciated but, are depreciated for a good work…..or when, you want your child to finish a given work, but the child simply doesn’t do it NOT because the child is incapable but because the child doesn’t want to….There are umpteen instances in our daily grind that are priced examples of this lapse.

But does that mean, we shouldn’t get angry?

I, for one would never advise the ‘no anger’ concept. Like gulping down a glass of water may soothe your tongue but not your mind. It is all about channeling that anger. And that my friend, can never be taught. Do you want to learn how to control your energies? No human can teach you that. Because, you are born with the knowledge. To unlock that chest of knowledge, life gives you experiences that put you to test without preparing you. And then, when you have sailed through that phase and, heave a sigh, you realize – “Wow! How did we all come this far?”

But wait, life is like that. When you just sit back and pride yourself over having won one battle from the millions to win or lose yet, life already begins to set the arena for subsequent ones!

Your life is your best teacher. Do NOT let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

Blood and water.


Is blood thicker than water? It is. But it is the water that leads us home when blood forgets the feel of the flesh. Because….. it is not how you enjoy the dawn but how you embrace the dusk, that matters. And, that is all that matters.

There are always times in our lives when we know what exactly fair weather means. No, I am not talking about fair weather friends. I am precisely cornering the term – “Fair weather”. The season when happiness overflows like honey from a golden hive is such that, everyone seems to be a good Samaritan. Well, in good times, everyone is. Isn’t it?

And then, when the thundering typhoons invade life with no warning or perhaps, an unseen one, everything seems a blur in the subsequent times. And, there is no anticipation for help and yet, the blood craves for soothing words of its own tribe no matter how distant the flesh is.

The last week was perhaps the slowest for my family. It has taken my mum an insane amount of courage to get through what she did. With my father ailing for a while, and with me more than 2000 kms away stationed in the mountains of the East, my mum had probably seen quite dark times in the past week. But then, with good family friends and, her dear sister and her husband who lent moral support throughout the week from South and with me, speaking to her for hours telling her constantly that dad is going to be fine (despite being on the verge of madness myself), and with me calling up my dearest friend Nav and, my adorable cousin sister Chitra akka and venting out my emotions, the week passed slowly. That week, I sat inside my room surrounded by mountains and a thick canopy of greens and, pondered deeply over the intricately woven intangibles of destiny.

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I was to go a week before to aid my parents and, destiny was busy having its own agenda. And when, I had just decided on the dates, Measles happened to pay a visit to my son. And, the son and I sat inside the home for a cold week post the New Year while the husband was out of town for work. For me, things couldn’t get more uncertain. Every day, the conversation with mum would break me while I comforted her with all my strength and words. And, with the son having the sores of measles right down to his gut and with my father in a very bad shape far away, I almost lost my appetite.

The sight of food made me gag. No show on Comedy Central could bring any smile given the fact I couldn’t go out either. Drinking water seemed an effort as my thoughts constantly drifted towards the well being of the man who created me.

And, there were those times in the day when I would just sit on the porch and look at the mountains. Every single time, I prayed to them and, constantly prayed to make my father well again. To hear his steel like voice is an assurance for me always. And, the prayers continued.

Time suddenly felt like a black hole. It just kept sucking me deep inside. Nothing seemed to be moving fast. For some it seemed that my parents’ idea of leaving the beloved town and shifting down south was not working in their favor. For some, it felt that the idea of moving soon was the best solution. And, the suggestions were never ending.

My parents have had it tough since the past one year. Mum lost her elder sibling and my dad lost his mother. Both demises happened within a span of six months. The agony of having lost their loved ones took a toll on them, physically and mentally. For mum, her elder brother was like a shade of a banyan tree. Lakshman mama, as I fondly remember him, was a vivacious and a warm human who spread light of knowledge and wisdom wherever he went. Unlike his younger brother who is an extremely successful person on professional front, Lakshman mama for some reason chose to lead a very simple life with little expectations and, almost no care for luxuries much to my mum and aunt’s chagrin. When I last met him, his twinkling eyes and luminescent smile stuck like a portrait in my head. I still remember him just that way. But that said, his departure surely broke my mom somewhere within. And, time seemed to pass until another news shook us. This time, it was my grandmother who had decided to take leave. My father has become quieter since then.

Cut back to present, post my father’s recovery, the calls poured in. Good wishes were passed on. And, I saw my mum lost in thoughts. I instantly knew she missed her elder brother and, sometimes the tears just well up all of a sudden. Because my late maternal uncle had once told her that should she have any trouble, he will come running for her. This conversation happened somewhere a couple of years back. And somehow, she becomes emotional every time she remembers our last meeting with him. We all miss him. And, we miss him very badly.

Strangely, most of my mum’s childhood chronicles consisted of her younger brother R who was at that instant in time closest to her. It is said that R and my mum were inseparable and that, they were the perfect partners in all the shenanigans kids do at that age. Whereas Lakshman mama and Paru chitti weren’t the proverbial siblings then. Mum smiles today and quips – “It is funny that I don’t even have as many vibrant childhood memories with Lakshman mama and your chitti as much as I have with R and later in life, it is the siblings with whom I never bonded much became my pillars of strength! Strange are the ways of destiny…..” 

Well… that is the best thing about both my mum and dad. They have never ever mentioned anything unsavory about their sides to me, anything that would force me to opine. And so, I could judge my own affinity to bond based on the vibes I gathered from everyone related to them. For instance on the maternal side, I am closest to my mother’s sister and her husband. As ironical as it sounds, I don’t think I could have had a better sibling than my aunt. My mother and her sister are like ice and fire respectively. And, as much as I disagree with my aunt on many aspects of life, I totally love and adore her. It is like knowing that you can actually love someone unconditionally despite the fact that, that someone is absolutely capable of bringing out the devil in you! Oh yes! My aunt can make me look like Cruella De Vil at any time and yet, I cannot love anyone more than I love her….Well, that is probably how aunts and nieces are, or say, some exceptional pairs are! Lakshman mama who is now probably reading out stories from Bhagwatam to cherubic little angels in paradise, was my favorite among all the uncles. Well, one could say that I could speak to him about anything without being judged. The thing about him is, that he appeared too simple. For someone who clings to status, fame and class, he would have come across as a nobody. For instance, take the first look at him and, people would either get charmed by his simple smile or, may get intimidated by his very simple tastes in life. I guess in the family, both kinds existed with the intimidated one being more in numbers. I for one, respected him ever since I knew the myriad ways his brain could think and analyse. Trust me, the man was a genius from another world! Even if Lakshman mama did not do much on his professional front, he left for paradise as a good human, a brother who called up his sisters often, a father who doted on his son and as a husband who ensured that his wife would not suffer after he left. Well, my mum recounts that a whole community there came on the doorstep and mourned….It was as if he became more alive after he departed!

It was only after his demise, it dawned on me how vain most of us are. Why? Most of us judge people by their bank balance. Greater the assets, higher the education, the man definitely must command more respect. Isn’t it? Well, atleast I have no ounce of respect left for men who make and break family ties based on status and money.  They are better deemed non existent. And it is here, I feel that gems like Lakshman mama aren’t made any more. Sadly. My mum and aunt do feel the loss of a brother deeply and, I know there is no way I can pacify them on that ground.

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And, my father still misses his mother. A few weeks after she passed on, my father would sit and stare at his phone. Everyday he spoke to her on phone for almost 20 minutes. And now, that time of the day is like a time hole that can never be filled. Well, my granny too had a grand farewell just like my Lakshman mama. In her last few minutes on Earth, she told her children that my grandfather had arrived to take her home with him. Although I spent very little part of my life with her, her demise did leave a vacuum in my head. Old is gold, they say. And, our elders are diamonds. We understand their presence only in their absence.

We all miss our loved ones far deeply after they are gone. But the map of destiny is surreal. Rather, bizarre. Because, we shall never know who we feel the most comfortable with in the sunset phases of our lives. It is not how you enjoy the dawn but how you embrace the dusk. And, when you look back at what have you earned in life, it is not the money or castles you earned in a lifetime that shall count….it is how you touched people’s lives in unsaid ways is what shall leave your legacy burning bright for ever. And, that is all that matters.

All. That. Matters.

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Disconnect to Connect ~ Part 9


What if unfiltered thoughts paraded as fearlessly as guarded words? That would be the day when freedom will be understood as a responsibility besides being enjoyed as a privilege. But then, will that freedom be good?

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Has it ever occurred to you how chained you are to an environment that sustains you? For instance, would you look squarely at your insane boss and, tell him that he is a cross between an ass and an ass****?  Or maybe, take away your child from a premier institution and, put him in a normal school to see him or her evolve with the masses naturally at his own pace?  Or just, travel solo to a new place and, rent a room in a hostel, spend time reading and knowing people in the place regardless of gender and, see how it works out for you? I guess, none of the aforementioned are the ‘ready, steady and go’ options. After all, we are chained. To devices. To people. To places. Worse, to our own rabid thoughts. No question can be answered without fearing the intangibles. Sigh..

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Lately, I feel not only chained but also restrained when it comes to expressing my views candidly on any media. I have observed over a period of time that people seldom listen to what is being expressed. It is like you see an apple and slowly yet powerfully build an image of an orange and, superimpose it on the apple and, you declare – “No! It is an orange!” A counter view is like a lamb waiting to get itself thrown amidst a pack of wolves! Getting trolled is becoming a serious crime that is not being taken seriously as it should be. Sad, but true.

Talking about trolls, I recently came across an article by a woman who had written about why she doesn’t want her daughter to be influenced by the definition of beauty that is set by contests like Miss World and Miss Universe. Even to someone like me who attempts to first hear out the ‘other contradictory’ side of any conversation, this article sounded outrageous for two reasons – One, the author kind of butchered the hard work and dedication put by our new Miss World Manushi Chillar in about 1000 words. And two, she mentioned about helping her daughter know more about women like Madam Curie and Emma Lockhart. Now, I do not follow beauty contests for two reasons: One, With all due respect to the contestants, the subject does not inspire me and, I choose not to watch only because I have no interest in knowing about how women win beauty contests and two, I do not have the time to watch even a ten minute news given my work schedule that involves – work from home + tasks of a home maker. However, just because a particular subject doesn’t interest me, I will not demean it ever. Why? Because, I am not adequately enlightened about it to judge it. Even if I were, who gave me the right to judge anybody, for that matter? That said, the woman who wrote this piece got almost eaten up by a pack of mad frenzied women who declared her an imbecile parent with an ignoramus head. Hurtful it was, to read what she wrote. But, I was as hurt when I read the comments that followed. Acerbic is an understatement. Why does one have to tear the other person to shreds just because the said person said something stupid? Why? Why can’t people just choose what they read? Why, after all?

So, talking about anything in this world is bound to be scrutinized just the way the old granny across the street watches for worms in the fresh green organic peas that were delivered right from the farm at her doorstep. It is as if only intelligence, rather a measured intelligence has a place on earth and, rest all must be culled. So, is that freedom? I am not sure of that. It is selective right to appreciating freedom only when it fits like hallow for a certain alignment of thoughts.

So, you cannot make a stupid statement without getting poked, cut and bled on social media. And then, stupidity is relative as much as intelligence is. What may appear stupid to you may appear as a seed of a revolution for someone else out there. The same goes for “I follow this” versus “I follow that”. Like dunking oneself into a well prepared meat dish would be a ‘heaven came down on earth’ moment for a carnivore and, a scene of barbaric violence to a vegetarian. The battle between vegetarians and non vegetarians is, needless to say, an ugly one. And, the amount of hate that it spews is better left untold. And just when you thought vegetarians are ‘humane’, vegans came and displaced the former’s sense of ‘righteousness’ and, carnivores went back happily to munching pork cracklings and grilled beacon. They say, the food we eat defines who we are. I DON’T agree a bit with that. I have seen more compassionate non vegetarians with a golden heart than vegetarians who are filled with absolute contempt and arrogance for everything and everyone! Well, the bickering never ends. And, this is just one of the many I feel slighted about. So, where is the freedom of expression in its truest sense?

Like a child trying to fix a square in a circle is already labelled slow and poor and, that is exactly how the world judges. Superficially. Because the world would have predictably failed to see the three dimensional imagery of a home resting on the protrusion of a cliff overlooking pristine blue waters and, facing the rising Sun, painted by the same child.

Anyways, let me come back to why I started to write this post. So, I mentioned something about being chained, rather shackled by ‘What will the world say?’, ‘Am I doing it right?’, ‘What should I do to be recognized?’ and what not! It is as if – good things can happen only in absence of people. Because, the moment you talk about good dreams, good things – the first instinct of people is to pass it on to unknown people and, ruin it. So, it takes an enormous amount of self control to not let the thoughts out unfiltered. Of late, a small freedom of expression attracts a zombie of trolls that shred every ounce of dignity with no remorse. And this is exactly why I don’t discuss issues on virtual media where no issue is understood but, shall be debated with uglier than ugly words and actions.

And, it brings me back again to the concept of chains. Chains of expectations, shackles of pressures and stressful dilemmas do not leave much space for anything creative to bloom. As much as modern day parenting is evolving under the influence of “how to raise the child without spanking and admonishing?”, “Ten ways to engage your hyperactive toddler” and “ways to understand why a child does what he does” et al, it is becoming extremely claustrophobic for children who are confused as to why their parents are chained to devices that tell them how to raise children. Even Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not let their kids get too pally with their own creations. But, we people are masses that are enthralled with “get, set and go!” structure that is slowly making us forget what it is to go to a bank and open an FD or, go to a grocery store and ask about the prices of everything we want from a pin to a pan! Essentially, we are losing out on basic skills of survival by depending on devices with no semblance of the possibility – “What if Internet crashes one day?”

It is a very scary thought, if you have done some reading on cloudburst in the virtual world. However, I would reserve this topic for another day. Cut back to how we are dependent on the Internet is indeed some kind of a disease that we seem to have started hosting by choice. Only, the extent of dependence is variable. Except for the tribes that live in forests and, continue to live regally in the realm of their own traditions and culture (no matter how misogynistic and patriarchal some of them are) and, people of yester generations who are more inclined towards leading a sedentary life with no complications, we are all chained to a dangerous world that leaves no doors to leave. If you have checked the recent settings of FaceBook, you would know there is no option to delete an account with NO condition. Ok, let me explain further. You can delete the account only after you have clarified that it shall be deleted after your death. In an alternative scenario, you may continue your legacy by choosing a close friend/relative who can memorialize your account after your demise (God forbid). Now, isn’t that disturbing? You can only deactivate your FB account with NO condition, which you can reactivate again when you get addicted again. However, you CANNOT delete it without clicking on “Delete After Death” button! How many of you even read that?

I love FB. You can say, I am addicted to it. I love the beautiful and inspirational quotes that it floods me with, every day connecting me to like minded people who feel exactly how I feel about many things in life. And, I shall be ever grateful to this media for that. Having said that, I also know that if I ever want to lead a life away from the world, away from people and away from sundry that intrusively dictates on how I must lead my life, I would have to let go of this drug, the very drug that let me play with words in ways I never imagined. But, today is not that day. Neither shall be tomorrow. Nor, the near future. But some day, yes.

Penultimate post alert: 

When I began writing the series – ‘Disconnect to Connect’, I have started to understand to an extent as to why we are the way we are. There was a time when my mind got louder with every passing day with my tongue turning into an angry recluse alongside. However, a loud mind with no vent is like a bubble of pain, about to burst. And, this bubble has to be diffused. And, that is how the series began. With this post – I am reaching the penultimate count in the row of ten, wherein all the zig zags in my headspace are now leading me physically to a place I hope to enjoy and love. And, the ultimate post of this series shall take birth in the new place.

Till then, my dear readers – “Stay in good health. Be nice to people. Be kind to people. Essentially, listen to what is being said instead of trying to visualize an orange as an apple. Because, an apple will remain an apple. An orange will remain an orange. Come what may!”

P.S:

Dear Manushi Chillar,

You have done India proud and, I totally loved the way you talked about the highest paid job – that of being a mother. I caught a glimpse of your answer on that two minute news and, I did not watch anything before that, rather I wasn’t even aware of your existence. But, your answer has invoked a deep respect within for you. And, I would be even more impressed as a fellow woman when you complete your medical school as you have said. 

 

Cocoons to Butterflies, A rumble strip!


I am, at present, snuggling under comfy sheets in a nice hotel in a smog filled city where the hubby has come for his office work. The son and I have accompanied him (as faujis do not have the luxury of spending every day with the family through the year). So yes, this one week (until Saturday) is surely a blissful getaway for me. No household chores, no homework sessions (although I have got work for the son to do, but I wasn’t really going to make him study here, was I?) and no social engagements in the station. This is bliss! Bliss because I am in a space where I can write whenever I want, wherever I want and whatever I want to. And also because, we are spending quality time as a family in the evenings (something which we don’t get to do often).

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So, today I came across a very interesting post by a soul sister as she pointed out how the current generation of kids are absolutely pampered and inept. She further mentioned about the air conditioned class rooms, kids not knowing how to cover their books and a lot more about the ‘ready to use’ culture. And boy, she is so right! I have to agree with every word she let.

Both of us, being the products of 80’s are modern day parents. But, we kind of realized how far we have left the age old parenting means behind. There was a time when vacations were supposed to be refueling stations for recharging our batteries, learning about  importance of families and relationships, learning kitchen tricks from grannies and aunts, playing board games with grandfathers and uncles, visiting new places etc… Today however, vacations are meant to be exotic and they are meant to be getaways, away from our own people so that we can post about it on Instagram! Worse, the very vacations that we took by train in sleeper class in our childhood, undergoing all that humid wafts of monsoon airs gleefully are now looked down upon. I have observed how kids feel when such discussions crop up. It is as if flights earn you more brownie points among peers who travel by trains. It is real, people. The struggle to find a ‘status’ is real among kids.

So, today we speak of air conditioned classrooms, air conditioned cars and exotic vacations. Things we assume our dreams are made of. Are they?

Meanwhile, I see a pattern in my extended family too. While the cousins of our age had a humble upbringing, they fail to follow the same for their own children. For instance, lavish birthday parties, exotic getaways and, too many outfits for one child seem to be the norm. It is here, I am suddenly reminded of the many beautiful moments my mum shared with me about her childhood.

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The lost era!

My mum speaks very fondly of her father – my maternal grandfather Mr. VenkataSubramanian Iyer. She has been a daddy’s girl through out and, despite having lost him immediately after her marriage, her eyes well up even today as a granny herself , every time she speaks about him. It is as if her best memories of her life have been only around her father. She recants how my tatha owned just a pair of shirts and pants for a decade and more so that he could save enough for the family. And, he used to wash his clothes everyday, dry them without a crease and then, iron them with a hot vessel filled with steaming water (the old time ironing means when an iron box was not exactly a luxury)

His teachings that have been carved in my mum’s memories include:

kandhaiyanalum kasakki kattu – Even if your clothes are old and faded, wash them before you wear them!

Koozhanalum kulithu kudi – Even if your meal is very simple, make sure you are clean before you sit down to eat.

Seivana tirunde sei – Whatever you do, do with absolute devotion!

My mum follows these life lessons to the teeth. When I see her connection with my tatha, I truly know why a father daughter bond is so so special. My mum grew up in a joint family. Besides her three siblings (my two uncles and one aunt), the family comprised of her grandparents, her uncle and aunt with their four children and, also one of mum’s aunts (my tatha’s sister) whose husband had disappeared for while. So, it was indeed a huge family with its spicy share of drama, emotions and a lot of love and care. My tatha who was the eldest and, perhaps the proverbial epitome of unquestionable obedience towards his parents, gave his entire salary for the family. Therefore, there were many things my mum and her siblings were deprived of in their growing years. My mum recalls the heartaches she felt when the cousins would have ice creams from outside and my grandmother would eyeball mum and her siblings – “Don’t look up like that when someone is eating!” And, my tatha would pat my mum on her head and explain – “Some day, I will get you all that you want. Someday, I will take you all out just like your cousins are getting to do. Some day, my darling. But that some day is not today. Have faith. Our times to enjoy all that will come too. But, for now, let’s enjoy what we have, right?”

When my tatha built an independent home, my paati moved in with the four children that comprised of my two uncles, my younger aunt and my mum. And, as promised my grandparents ensured that mum and her siblings got ice creams on every Friday. The children had hit the teens. However, they had transformed into beautifully adjusting adults understanding what their parents were doing for them.

My mum explained how adjusting in an environment with the faith that things will turn around comes with raw courage. And it is here, she regales me with the role of my grandmother – Kalyani Paati (who I miss even today). Kalyani paati came from a rich and influential family. Her father was a banker with Lloyds at the time. So, when paati married my tatha in a traditionally arranged ‘stars meet stars’ marriage, she found herself in an environment radically opposite to her Maika. It was a life that began with tough adjustments. But those adjustments became trivial as my tatha was a very loving husband who loved his wife 12 years his junior with all his heart and soul.

I have heard from people how my paati emerged strong post my tatha’s untimely demise, determined to give a good life to the other three siblings of my mother (as mum had got married then). Perhaps, it was my mum who noticed how my paati would shut herself in the bedroom and cry silently for hours, wetting the pillows. Those were tears that never  left that room lest the children’s morale got affected. My tatha paati raised four children, took care of their parents and, lived a life of simple living – high thinking and, importantly left a fortune to their children so that the children and their children have a good life. They may not have led a luxurious lifestyle. But, they left the world with absolute satisfaction that they had raised good human beings. Now, isn’t that the best feeling for parents when they know that their children have done well for themselves and that, they are financially independent and, can take falls with grace no matter what? How confident are modern day parents on that aspect? The question is frighteningly difficult to answer.

Sometimes, when I sit with my mum, I ask her again and again about my tatha-paati (her parents), her tatha-paati (her grandparents) and, the many hilarious chronicles as were passed to her from the storyteller of her grandma and much more. I did not have the privilege of knowing her grandies or mine, except I was lucky to know my Kalyani Paati until she joined the stars above when I was in ninth grade. So, whatever I hear of them, brings me closer to their souls and, I wonder if my grandparents and their parents feel what I feel, like – “Do they miss knowing me as much as I miss knowing them?” or, “How would they have reacted when they would have seen me as a mother?” or perhaps, “What all have I missed learning from them?” et al. (I almost choke as I write this. It is as if they are hearing me. Only that I cannot see them.)

It is said that my tatha’s mum that is, my mum’s paternal grandma was a Math genius and, she never went to school. My mum recalls how she solved algebraic equations and riders but, since she never went to school, she could never explain how she did it. And, she aced aadu-puli attam like a pro and, was perhaps the greatest story teller of her time. My mum, who was one of the few grandchildren who adored her (my great granny was quite a firebrand who ran the household with an uncanny nerve and, handled finances very well), probably inherited her Math loving persona from her granny. All of the experiences my mum shares from her childhood with me, I gather that raising good children and making sure that they turn good does NOT stem from the fact on what parents provide children with. It stems from the fact on how parents let children be unapologetic-ally themselves with comfort of kind words and timely understanding even when the world around tries to seduce them in becoming one among the crowd.

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The thrill in spending trumps the question WHY

As parents, we are drawn towards fulfilling materialistic desires. When kids place a demand, we instantly gear up on how to fulfill the demand. Seriously, how many of us  analyze before fulfilling the demand. We comply.  Almost instantly. Why? Only because we can afford to. We have the money. Damn! Why can’t we spend it?

My husband who has had an extremely rough and tough childhood, with my mother in law passing away at an early age of 38, when he had just turned eleven years old, understood quite early in life that there was a crucial difference between needs and desires. For him, it was a game of survival in his formative years especially when my father in law slipped into depression post my MIL’s demise and, did not go for his job for two years almost leaving his elder son to fend for himself.  (My BIL grew up in a Ved Pathshala down south, getting ready to take up the profession of Brahmins) Those were the toughest times for the husband who was not only dealing with a harsh world outside his home but, at the same was also struggling to understand a father who could not could not tell a dream from reality at the time. Later, times improved when my FIL recovered from the depression and joined work again. But that phase can neither be forgotten by the husband, nor my FIL, nor the neighborhood that witnessed helplessly the four years of darkness that loomed large for the men.

So, my husband’s understanding of the difference between needs and desires was far deeper and clearer, unlike mine. Given that I was raised in a rather luxurious environment with a big home, a garden, a car, a bike and good schooling in a convent, I was oblivious to real struggles faced by people on a day to day basis. So, let’s say our marriage was an enlightenment for me at many levels. Ours is a love marriage. While many in the extended family raised concerns over my decision marrying into a home that was deprived of a female presence for almost fifteen years, my parents knew their parenting has not gone wrong at all because while people pray for good son-in-laws, my parents got more – the Universe gave them a son!

And, how I adjusted in a small home (500 sq feet home) post marriage and, how beautifully my husband adjusted to my idiosyncrasies then, one of which included my poor home keeping skills appended by my tendency to splurge every now and then, is a story that I shall be writing soon about, in near future. So, after seven plus years of marital life (the package now with an adorable son included), preceded by a humble upbringing in an upper class neighborhood during my growing years, I have finally understood why understanding the difference between needs and desires is crucial while we play the role of parents.

Fan is a need but, an air conditioner is a desire.

A ball pen is a need. A Parker is a desire.

Vaseline is a need. A Mac Lipstick be a desire.

Titan is a need and, Edifice be a desire.

Hashback cars be your needs and, Mercedes be your desires.

Comforts are desires. But, companionship is a need.

So, if our kids are unable to differentiate between needs and desires, then as parents, we ourselves are failing somewhere crucially. Without a doubt, we all are doing better financially than what our parents did way back. And yet, our grand parents and parents made fortune better than us. Why? Low cost of living is NOT the only reason. Their understanding of needs and desires was as clear as crystal. They would not spend a penny more on what they felt was not worth a long time. Rather, they spent good money on festivals, families and good food, each of which is needed to sustain good mental and physical health.

Apparently, as adults today, our priorities are reigned by desires. Worse, we fear the flirtatious nature of money. What if the comforts leave us one day, even without a goodbye? Money has always been a butterfly. It rarely stays with one for long. It is like a river. No wonder, we call it currency, right? And, time is another conniving partner of fortune. It only takes an erratic turn in time for someone to go from riches to rags or, from rags to riches! As adults, most of us live in that fear subconsciously. We do not talk about it loud. But, we do harness it and, so give in to many investments like SIPs, mutual funds, real estate et al here and there, while the splurge takes its own course of action from the other hand in terms of shop-aholism, binge drinking and, show off of fortunes! So, how can we blame our children when, we ourselves are chained by our fears of being unapologetic-ally ourselves – the simple beings that came from simple families eating simple food, wearing simple clothes and leading simple lives?

We do not live in peace. We live in constant fear of failures. And that is exactly what is stopping our children from breaking free from their cocoons.

While we believe in freedom in parenting, most of us fail to understand that we are giving a hard time to our wards by not letting them be impenitently themselves while we push them into being perfect, ideal and competitive, without realizing that the word genius springs from Mother Nature’s palette where the oceans are not only rogue and unpalatable but, are also unrestrained and fearless. No two trees grow with the same patterns even if they are from the same family. No two rivers flow in the same direction. But, our reptilian brains cull our intent to understand this truth, a universal truth.

Today, we feel obligated to provide our children with almost everything. However, we are overlooking the ‘if’s’ and ‘buts’ that are nefariously hidden inside the knuckles of destiny. Failures, storms, curve balls hurled by time change a lot of junctions in our journey of life. Are we preparing our children to understand that? After all, comforts are merely tentacles of desires that continue to grow like weeds and that, there is no end to satisfying them. Are we anywhere close to making our children understand the importance of sustenance in a limited pay?

It is difficult but not impossible to lead a frugal lifestyle despite having the fortune to splurge. Fortunately, I have been raised in a state that has more rich people, many of who I know live a parsimonious life. While I have seen and understood class in the richer than rich acquaintances in my hometown, I have also seen in other closer circles (among close relatives and friends) where money and status is flaunted as class. And, my hometown, not a big city but with a big heart taught me just this –

Class is how you treat people regardless of what they have or not. And, it goes notches higher when you add kindness to it.

If we want our children to understand self dependence, humility and simplicity, we have to take the first step and that is, Stop preaching and start acting. Like my dad reminds me every now and then – “Preaching is the biggest bane of human existence. You want your kid to do something, don’t tell the kid. You do. He will watch. He will do. That is it. That is all to it.”

That explains everything. Pretty much. Right?

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Contempt is more dangerous than silence.


Recently Harvey Weinstein got a taste of how power play comes with a payback clause.  Accused of sexual abuse, molestation, power mongering and all vices against women, the disgraced Hollywood mogul is on his way down, down from grace!

For people who do not know Harvey Weinstein, this is the link. And, you must be aware of #MeToo. Apparently, this guy is the reason why this hashtag has been busy rolling out the skeletons out of closets in such a magnitude. Many renowned Hollywood actresses like Angelina Jolie, Alyssa Milano and Gwyneth Paltrow have come up with strong allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey. While I was scouring through articles on this subject, I was shocked by the comment section. Rather, I was aghast. Why? Because a large section called these women cowards and that, they could have spoken about this way early, saving other prospective victims in the process.

Now, I would NOT call them cowards. And surely, they are no saints. But, blaming them is NOT a wise thing to do, at least at this point in time when things have happened and, there is no way they can be undone. Talking about silence of these women while the same was happening to many women around, it is not an easy open and shut subject of question. Even renowned Italian director Dario Argento’s daughter Asia Argento was not spared.

Countless men and women approach the field of art to pursue their dreams. Many have had to ‘compromise’ either out of choice or compulsion, to ascend the ladder that led to their goals. Many still do. Apparently, they continue to do a lot of damage to themselves in the process. Unfortunately, many keep their lips sealed as they don’t want to talk about it. Even the doe eyed Rekha had a horrible taste of testosterone filled chauvinism at the tender age of 15, when she was kissed forcibly by her co actor Biswajeet and, the director refused to say a cut. Worse, the entire crew cheered the act! Were these perpetrators even closely reprimanded? No! But, the actress was branded a sex kitten and later, a home wrecker! Is it surprising? Not then. And, not now. Sadly.

In the West, French actress Maria Schneider was 19 when she starred in the 1972 French Italian film – Last Tango in Paris and, was a part of a scene she wasn’t completely aware of, a scene of a sexual assault. Needless to say, the actress felt not only violated but also did not get an ounce of apology from neither her co star not the director. Frankly, I lost every bit of respect for Marlon Brando (although he is no more) and, I find it so difficult to believe that the same man played such an enigmatic role in the movie – The Godfather!

And, the question pops up for the women– “Does their silence make them bad women, accomplices worse?”

We will come to that part later.

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metoo

You are not alone!

Cut back to present, my FaceBook was flooded with posts from friends who shared #MeToo with the intent of showing solidarity in standing up against abuse. A major section of people joined in, applauded the act and also, joined in saying that such acts will never be tolerated henceforth. And, a small section came up annoyed at the publicity this hashtag was receiving. A few felt, nothing productive comes from such hashtags and that, women who suffer abuse and join the #MeToo brigade years after abuse are doing nothing but lamenting on their past or worse, garnering attention. Fighting back there and then would have been more productive.

I agree with this crowd but only on the last line. Only on the last line that – Fighting back at that instant is a productive thing to do. Rest, I don’t associate with branding women, especially those who underwent such abuse and were silent during the crimes that happened later. Now, I am NOT an advocate for silence, especially when you have a choice to do something about an issue but you choose not to. However, talking about women who endured abuse while ascending the ladder in Cinema, is contentious. For many successful actresses out there, who have made it big because of their sheer acting prowess, to have undergone these phases would have been the most agonizing moments of their lives, something which they endured unwillingly to reach their goals. It is mighty possible that quitting the industry, killing their dreams and going back to lives they do not understand was not what they believed, they deserved at the time.

Like, Jamie Curtis put it bluntly – “Did I ask for it? I asked for a job. What came along with the job was sexual harassment!”

How many people actually get this statement? Read it and it is simple to understand that no man or woman asks for it, unless he or she is damaged goods suffering from Stockholm’s syndrome!

So, should victims be blamed for suffering the ordeal?

Should they be targeted for silence when, they were battling a war against those who could squish them like houseflies?

Should victims be harassed for speaking up? Then or, now hardly matters for someone who has been through hell and back!

Why did these women endure what they did? 

Frankly, WE ARE NO ONE TO JUDGE THAT!

And, I have great respect each one of those men and women who have come out and spoken about their ordeal in the past few weeks. They at least did now. And people, you need to be more kind. Appreciate these people for sharing their experiences now. Had it not been for such a collective voice of such magnitude, predators like Harvey would have stayed around abusing more victims till he kicked the bucket!

#MeToo has helped if not in a major way, but in a small way. And, any small step towards progress is a large leap! Beginnings are difficult, after all.

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#MeToo

Now, let’s talk about reality. How many times do we really give it back when we encounter such situations? I remember an incident when I was in twelfth grade. I used to stand at the stop at 7 AM in the morning, waiting for the School Tata Sumo to come and pick me up. And, around that time, a guy who used to go to office would walk past me. No, he did not touch me or even say a word. But, he did something that left me deeply disturbed. He would simply stare at me, scanning every bit of me from head to foot. He would throw that lust filled dirty stare till he crossed the street. That was the first time in my life I felt violated without even being touched! Initially, I thought I was overreacting and that, I must learn to ignore it. A week later, I felt miserable and finally confided in my mum. She accompanied me for a couple of days thereafter.

The guy would not even turn his face towards me thereafter. However, I asked my mum – “What if he does it again? You can’t possibly leave me at the stop every day.” And, she candidly replied – “What do you do when you see a stray dog lurking around you, creating a nuisance value? You pick up a stone and aim at it. And, even if you do not throw the stone, it is bound to sense your dilemma – to throw or not to! So, just hurl the stone! And, women have a high pitched voice not just to sing, but to scream at people too. Use it.” In subsequent weeks, I gathered courage and, pretended to be brave by doing an amateurish juggler’s act with stones, while I was trembling within. The pretension worked. The man never looked at me again. Later, my stop changed and, I got rid of the nuisance value. The Universe helped me too, I guess.

The second incident happened when I was in Pune, working with an IT firm. While my friend and I were travelling back to our home by the state bus, I could see a guy filming us on his phone. Given my non confronting nature, I was squirming in my seat until my roommate got up, walked up to the guy and whacked him hard. No one intervened. However, the perpetrator was a bit shocked seeing the dangly girl eyeball him and, hurl profanities! That day my friend enlightened me with these lines – “Narayani! Hume apna dhayan khud hi rakhna hai. Koi ni ayega apni ifazat karne! Samjhi!” 

I am no Beatrix Kiddo or Bholi Punjaban to invoke fear in people. Maybe it is my innate nature to NOT indulge in fights or, ‘giving it back’. Human nature is different for each. Besides, my upbringing has been actually full of sunshines and butterflies, another reason why I was quite rudely shocked by the devilry happening in cities. Not everyone gets the impulse to do the right thing at the right time. But with time, I have found what I can do with my instincts given that I do have powerful instincts about people I meet. I have gradually understood the power of being attentive to energies around. After all, broken adults cannot be repaired and, unlike how rabid dogs are culled, broken adults can’t. Therefore, paying attention to surroundings as much as we do to ourselves helps one keep the guard on, all the time.

While I blog about issues I never spoke of before, I am reminded of yet another incident that happened in the year 2007 when I overheard  a conversation (not deliberately) while I was in the loo. A girl in the next, was sobbing incessantly about the ‘ordeal’ her manager was putting her through. I never got to see her as she left before me. I never divulged about it to anyone, not even to my best friend. But, that conversation did make me realize two things:

One, that You cannot fight this tentacle system, a lone ranger without getting shredded! The least you can do is maybe, post about it on social media, gather likes from like minded people, sign petitions and maybe that is it. The storm that stirred up diffuses as quickly as it came. 

and Two, It is not easy for someone who has climbed the ladder on sheer hard work only to throw it all away because the system is exactly supporting the perpetrators

The point is, fighting evil is simple only on paper. On ground, it is war.

Read – IT. IS. WAR.

It is a war that consumes all of your energy leaving little for you to look forward to. Given the way, our judiciaries provide justice, no one wants to fall in the maze of this battlefield where, the evil seems to triumph all the time. No one wants to get old spending a major part of life and energy fighting legal battles. Whether or not, you agree on it, it is the truth this world lives. A very sad truth indeed.

It is easy for people to advise affected ones – “Fight back!” But, it is extremely difficult for the same people to understand the context of these situations. Each of the survivors are silently enduring scars within. Some of them endure because their lives are interwoven with intangibles that the world is barely aware of. At least, the educated class has the benefit of knowing the lesser suitable options to work out. But, what about those domestic helps that are harassed by the saabs and their memsaabs? The sad part is, they cannot even throw away their jobs, especially when they are the only earning members in the family. And, to engage in legal battles is absolutely out of question for them, especially when their goal for each day is getting the food on table, paying bills and fees and, getting a good night’s rest to work for the next day in good health.

The world is complicated, my friend. Solutions to problems are not written in black and white. And, arm chairing solutions for people whose lives are not being lived by us, from laptop and smart phones is hardly a progressive thing to do. Rather, we can begin with some empathy first!

While we talk about the successful women tribe, the rhetorical – “Why do people tolerate devilry for unaffordable luxuries?”, we shall come back to this question at a later point.

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The monster called BLAME!

Making relations is a very strong urge. Man is a social animal after all. Join a new workplace and you would know that more than the work, it is the people who make you want to work or not in that place. And, most of us give in to that urge only to realize that some of the relations turned out exactly how you did not anticipate. Sometimes, things go awry for a few when they undergo worse – sexual abuse/harassment/emotional blackmail et al. Who is to blame? – is the first question.

Why do we seek something/someone to blame? Why?

This is exactly where we humans make the biggest error in life. This question is bull shit! Instead of finding the point/reason of blame, why not do something constructive at that point as in how to tackle the situation in hand and, how to prevent such from happening in future? Dwelling in self pity and ‘damsel in distress’ mode makes things worse because we are chained by an archaic society that feels women lure men into doing wrong things to them. No, not just us, it is the whole world. Even America has its Wild Wild West, where you do find that women are not treated any different and, in some cases, far worse. So, that is not at all something that should surprise the world. What must indeed, is the contempt for voices that speak of a wrong done to them in the past or in the present. So, this is exactly where restraint in action does the damage. Perpetrators of crime get a free hand in vandalizing humanity because the bystanders do not want to get involved in clearing the cesspool which has an absolute chance of mucking up their worlds too!

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Now, let’s reiterate through those questions on women who have suffered abuse and remained silent.

“Does their silence make them bad women, accomplices worse?”

“Is success so important in life that you end up burning yourself to get there?”

No. Silence doesn’t make them bad women. Sometimes, a bad time or a bad circumstance forces a person to take bad decisions. And, bad decisions don’t make people bad!

Answer to the second, the definition of success is different for each one of us. So again, a goal post for each has a different path. After all, we are all nothing but the choices we make in life! Just that, no one asks for the dark side. It just tags along because, the world has more wolves in sheep’s clothing than sheep dogs.

We are nothing but the choices we make in life.

This is exactly what we are. At the fag end of our lives, what is it that we yearn for, the most? Comforts of life or, Companionship? Ideally, we crave for both. But there is one of the two that we want more in initial years because comforts in life are often reigned by greed. While companionship doesn’t see comfort as a threat, comfort unfortunately views companionship as one!

We all have our choices. Not all choices we make are going to make us happy. Not all choices we make are going to make us successful. But, if a choice stems from fear or lack of courage, then the choice shall surely come with burns and scars. There is no other way but to deal with it in a way that it helps the self and the others to steer away clear through rough patches in life. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many scars and burns one carries or how many mistakes one made in life. What matters is the intent to do the right thing sooner or later. What matters is the verve to walk the extra mile despite shortcuts trying to seduce you at every U turn. What matters is the courage of conviction to speak up if not for yourself but for someone who is going through a trauma you underwent. And, that is exactly what matters.

After all, people who have been to hell and back will never preach about high heavens. Never.

hh