Sunday, 1 May 2016

Then I Learnt To Let Go

And I was a bottled up jar of emotions, grudges and memories until my late twenties. A traumatic childhood contributed in part to my mindset being such. The prime target was my father, whom I hated with all my guts. In general, I hated everything. Including life. Self pity engulfed me as I chose to play victim.

Did the circumstances justify this attitude? Not really. Everyone has some problem or other, it is how one chooses to deal with it that makes the difference. While it is true that there were trigger events that were too hot to handle for a child, there was a great support system around me. I ignored that and sulked about how miserable my lot was.

The shift happened very, very gradually. It was only when I was in my late twenties that the first signs of maturity awakened in me. In hindsight, I now know that Bipolar Disorder, diagnosed only when I was past forty, set in at adolescence and played with my emotions and impaired judgment.

Initially my journey of purging my burdened mind did not begin with a design or at a conscious level. Meditation began the subtle shift.

Every event, every person, every challenge has a purpose in your life~ to make you or break you. And even those that break you, have the potential to make you stronger.
My myriad challenges made me look deep within for answers. My spiritual journey took me to an exalted new level of freedom.
When one gets rid of every layer of grime covering the soul, one experiences lightness of being.

So, I learnt to let go.

So,
I learnt to let go of hatred.

To be able to do so, one has to replace hatred with forgiveness, which I did.

So I let go of blame.
All it needed was ownership. That I was responsible for where I was.

So I let go of expectations.
The 'shoulds' which keep on bothering us~ she shouldn't have behaved like this, he could have been more supportive and so on.

So I let go of hurtful memories.
I did nothing specific. A heart full of love finds it difficult to hold such memories.

So I let go of anger.
Anger, the unjustified kind, is a sign that we find we are lacking somewhere and thus need to take it out on a hapless person.

So I let go of fear.
What was there to be afraid of for a man who had full faith in God's ways?

So I let go of secrecy.
And opened up. Writing my gut-wrenching story in the form of a Book was a cathartic experience. People tell me, it must have been difficult. I say, there's nothing more difficult than holding a secret deep in our hearts.

For, we are not designed to hold secrets.

And I keep letting go, for I am not perfect.
Gratitude to Priya Chawla, a friend, artist and thinker.
Her fantastic charcoal sketch, which I have used here with her prior permission, prompted my stream of thoughts..

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Three Paintings and a Canvas

She shivered in the cold, trying to protect herself from the blistering wind as best as she could. Her eyes darted around to see if someone would pass by. Anjali had never imagined that the trek in the forest could have landed her in this situation. She wished she had heeded the call of her friends to stick together and not drifted so far apart in her quest to admire nature..the flowers, birds and trees...the sights and sounds of nature she loved. She had shouted for help until her throat felt sore...they seemed to be well out of range. Now, afraid, cold, she was caught between hope and fear as dusk closed in on her. The beauty of the valley below with a light mist enveloping it seemed lost on her.

A Saviour?
The rustle of leaves prompted her to shout out Help! A thin young man, crept out of the trees. He just stared at her. This made her decidedly uncomfortable and nervous. Trying to hide her fear, she blurted "My friends are just around that bend and about to join me. They should be here any time now. Who are you?"
Surya maintained a stony silence and kept staring at her. Anjali then somehow sensed, with a woman's sixth sense, that her worst fears were true. She was assaulted brutally until she almost lost consciousness. Surya was about to push her down the cliff when she, with folded hands pleaded him to let her live. Thankfully, Surya, just disappeared into the night.

Three years later...
There was Anjali again. At the same scenic spot which brought back the darkest day of her life back to her present..she lived with each wound physical and those inflicted on her mind. Unruffled this time, although she was alone and dusk was approaching. This was the exact day, three years on and nothing much had changed at this breathtaking spot, whereas everything had, for the person who was now reliving it. There she sat, quiet, her feet dangling down the cliff. And then she heard the rustle of feet on dry leaves. Her heartbeat quickened. She kept looking down at the valley. Surya stood at a distance and peered at her in amazement. Then he threw his head back and laughed, wondering at the foolishness of this prey of his. He advanced toward Anjali and she was caught between the edge of the cliff and this monster who loomed menacingly in front of her. She turned around, got up and pleaded with him. "Please, I am just getting over that horror, let me go or I'll jump off the cliff." Surya found this amusing as he snatched her wrist in attempt to pull her towards him. In one whiplash of a movement Anjali swiveled around and pushed him with his own momentum off the cliff. The look of surprise and disbelief on his face made this worthwhile, as her fiery eyes caught a glint of the dark orange sun. Quietly, she trundled back to the car park, walking through terrain which she now knew like the back of her hand.

And a year down the line..
This day had become a ritual of sorts. There was the same cold breeze, the same enchanting beauty all around her. Anjali had, however, lost the ability to appreciate any of this as she sat in a contemplative mood. These were just elements which existed but did not touch her soul. Then the rustle of firm footsteps on dead leaves, the distinct crackle that kept playing in her mind over and over like her own screams. She remained calm, to her own surprise. A man in a bright yellow T-Shirt and jeans joined her. As he admired the view of the valley before them, he seemed to say half to himself, half to her, "This is like the perfect painting. I must come here with my easel sometime." That made her curious but she kept mum. As the sun set fully, he then began walking back and seeing her still seated there, asked her,
"Aren't you scared of the dark that will be soon be enveloping us under the thick forest cover? We should be heading back to safety fast."

Without answering him, she got up and quietly made her way. On the path back, Karan struck up a conversation. "Hope you don't mind but I'm the talkative type." This brought that rare half smile on Anjali's pale, beautiful face. Before she knew it, she had agreed to have coffee with him at a famous hill town Cafe. Karan shared his side of the story which Anjali heard patiently without her facial expressions revealing anything. He paused decently for Anjali to speak. "Do you speak at all?" This made Anjali laugh but she immediately withdrew into a shell again, examining her emotions. Seeing that her thoughts had drifted, Karan chose to remain quiet too as they both sipped coffee.

They met a second time at an old book shop, this time accidentally. She shyly acknowledged his presence.

On their third meet, this time in the same Cafe, "I don't mean to pry but you do seem to be in a world of your own" Karan said. Anjali looked away and her eyes welled up with tears. Karan said, "Let's meet at what seems like your favourite spot tomorrow. If you feel so, let's talk"

It was Karan's turn to be silent. In fact he was overwhelmed by what he heard as the setting sun painted Anjali's face in warm hues, making her look all the more beautiful. The eyes which welled up with tears were now his. Anjali clasped his hand as they slowly walked back.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

To the Mother Born

(Image Courtesy~ Meenal Jaiswal)
Eighty is a mighty number when we consider that life expectancy of Indian women is less than seventy years. So when our Mom, Indumati, recently turned eighty, it was a special occasion. It is unfortunate that we could not celebrate it with gusto as we would have wanted to.

Her frailty and rapidly deteriorating health have taken a toll on her spirit~ well, almost. It is painful to watch the inevitable while knowing one is helpless. That whatever modern medicine can do for her degenerative spine is being done. That eighteen pills a day over many years have failed to reduce her pain and even the brave one is now cracking under the brunt of weeks of sleepless nights and untold discomfort.

I try to mollify myself that all this is the cycle of karma..we are born, grow up and eventually wither away. Is there an escape? Acceptance is a balm.

In her prime, she has been a lady who has never failed to inspire me. Sis and I owe a lot of our qualities to her. If we are honest, disciplined, resourceful and fiercely independent, we owe it to what we learnt from her, the fine example that she herself set.

In the mid sixties, when break ups of marriages were rare in India and virtually unheard of in a tiny village like Vasai where her maternal home was, she chose to take this call. Her children's future was more important to her than the questions society would ask of her and an abusive husband was not an ideal that she wanted us to emulate.

All three of us had the good fortune of the shelter that our magnanimous maternal Uncle provided us. To me, although he wasn't my biological father, he is the hero I look up to till this date. Mom made all efforts to ensure that our financial burden on Uncle was minimised. She took up odd jobs of embroidery and knitting which she excelled at.

When I finished College and stood on my own feet, it was a sense of relief for Mom, for my Uncle would not have to support us any more. So, since the ripe age of twenty I have managed to provide for my family, hopefully with reasonable success. As my business began to flourish, we managed to purchase our first apartment in Mumbai: the first place she could call home in the truest sense. Going out on vacations together gave us most joy.

Life has its ways. My late marriage brought in friction which is a rule rather an exception in India as more and more and more urban families decide to go nuclear. Much against my wishes and a move that brought about great anguish in me, my mom and sis decided to live separately shortly afterward. Fortunately, they stay very close by. All the same I feel everyday that she misses me~ such is her love for me. Also, I cannot comfort her and be by her side as easily as I previously could.

As her illnesses get better of her, she has fallen prey to depression. Unimaginable for a woman of spunk. Everyone used to tease her for her habit of wearing 'matching clothing and accessories', for her zest for life even when well past seventy five. A woman so full of life, bustling with energy, enthusiastic about learning, reading, picking up new skills. Until a few weeks ago, she cooked all the meals..even that joy has been seized from her since the sprightly woman now hobbles across even a few feet across the living room. She has gone quieter too.

I love you Mom. I know over the last few years I have not been able to give you adequate time. The brunt of taking care of you has solely fallen on Sis and she has done a magnificent job of it. Just wish I could absorb all your pain..

God bless you and thank you for all you have done for us. Am proud to be your son!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Gravity: The Centre Of The Universe


"Isn't Your Ego getting ahead of you of late?" asked the sing song voice inside me.

With my eyes still shut and after due thought, I replied.
"I too have sensed it, What exactly has changed? Can't place a finger on it."

"When was the last time you thought of me, spoke to me or hugged me?"
she asked in her soft voice without any trace of bitterness in it. Compassion flowed from her being.

The silence that followed was a calming experience. At last I was heading back to where I always wanted to be, from where I had veered away.

"There has been an exciting upturn in my life and perhaps due to this, my mind has been racing in multiple directions at the same time."

"It happens to everyone, don't fret about it."
And then she snuggled up to me.

The serenity I then experienced reminded me of my daily sojourns of the past...


I decided there and then that I must not forget this daily refuge of mine.

For my soul is my compass, the centre of my universe. Where I must gravitate to.

 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Top 7 Blog Picks Of 2015

Seven Blog Post picks in chronological order of posting: 
(to read the post, click on the Links)

There's Magic In The AirThere's magic in the air!
Is that just a saying with flair?

I can feel it, sense it, I swear

All around me in the air

Am I not making sense?
Can't you see with my soul's eyes? Read on..

We Are All ConnectedIt was predawn and I was walking barefoot on the beach, the sea to my left and ahead was a long stretch of inviting white sands for me to explore, the cool early morning breeze caressing me. 

The scenic surroundings made me stop and I was compelled to drink in the abundant beauty. I held out my right arm and cupped my hand, as if to catch rain water. If I drank from my hand, what would  I actually be drinking? Wasn't my hand empty?



And Then She Smiled

It was a pleasant evening as an old lady walked aimlessly in park, all by herself, lost in thoughts..eyes tracing the ground, not having the energy to take in the surroundings.
Oblivious of the hustle bustle of the kids at play.

All of a sudden, she was jolted out of her reverie by a softball that hit her on her back. As she stooped to pick it up, a five year old boy ran to her and apologised profusely.
"I am so sorry! I hope I have not hurt you, Aunty?"

"No you haven't, dear."

"May I have my ball back then?"

Yoga And Me
My Yoga journey began sometime in the late nineties. My induction into Yoga practice happened more
out of necessity than choice. I was a chronic, acute Asthmatic all my adult life and the asthma attacks were assuming life threatening proportions (I had been hostipalised in emergencies in intensive care twice.) It was then that my Doctor, Late Pramod Niphadkar virtually forced me to adopt Yoga and other breathing exercises to supplement my medical treatment.


It then began as a daily ten minute routine and along with my other regimen, it turned my life around. Even after Asthma was well under control, I maintained my routine since it had become a part of my system.

The Value Of Mentors

Change is a fundamental principle of life and so is learning.

From the wisest of Mentors I have been learning what to learn and how to learn.
And of course, implement the learning effectively!

Over the last decade, 
one of my earlier Gurus was, Jigish Bhatt​. Beyond our professional relationship, he remains one of my most trusted friends. Always there when needed, always there to offer solutions where none is in sight, last to seek credit. A gem of a person. After having been a book worm until my early twenties, Jigish reintroduced me to the habit of reading after a long hiatus. What a wise and valuable gift that was!

How Much Does It Take To Dream?
                                                                                           
Began by Writing quotes
Guess what, people got inspired.

I thought I was a Blogger 
Needed much more than a few thoughts
The fluency grew, a writer found his voice
Wait a minute, could I write a Book?





Ode To The Indian Woman


                           You are dignity


You are resilience

You personify elegance
So sensual are you

Tolerance are you

Resourceful are you

Confidently you seek
Your own space in a man's world



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