But Why??

I haven’t written anything for some time now.

Not because I had a writer’s block… not because I had nothing to write. On the contrary. I was overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed and bogged down by all that was happening around me, in the world.

I just feel at a loss… at a loss to understand, why the species of “homo sapiens” behave the way they do?

I don’t claim to be a genius, ultra-special, holier-than-thou specimen. Just an ordinary person, like any other. And when I can understand that what is going on around is so destructive and so wrong, why is it so difficult for others?

It is really such a strange time to live in.

Man is at his most intelligent best, and the stupidest worst. He is aware, but his awareness is overpowered by arrogance. He is technologically advanced, but then uses it to spread chaos and mayhem. He claims to be progressive and then does the most barbaric things for the most archaic reasons.

Two year olds become Instagram Influencers, eighteen year olds eat tide pods for entertainment.

People are worried about their privacy, but then want everything  to be done for them by somebody, the more robotic and automatic the better. And don’t they understand that anything and everything that seems to be happening by technological magic, does that by harvesting the personal information that you give them?

Fake photos, fake videos, fake friends, fake life… anything else left?

And the way we take our earth for granted, is unspeakable.

Truth be told, we are just one of the many species on this Earth. We claimed ownership over this planet because of a developed brain, and then in the most stupid way are systematically destroying all that is necessary for our very sustenance.

The earth as a planet will remain… long after the human species is gone. This planet is home not just to us but to so many other species, known and unknown to man. And some of them adapt, evolve and sustain. The mysteries of this planet are so deep and human beings cannot understand it all. Life on this planet will go on, regardless of you or me.

Isn’t it ironic that the only species with the most developed brain, is the only one which is destroying it’s habitat completely? No other species does it.

I just feel so stupid seeing what’s being done by our kind.

I am tired, overwhelmed and defeated. By own species, my own fellowmen.

Why worry about a zombie attack when we are becoming more and more emotionless and robotic each day? We are all right here, becoming more robotic and more plastic, turning into senseless machines, keen to destroy ourselves.

 

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Welcome Back!!

Shreya put down her pen and looked down at her answer sheet with a sigh of relief. It was finally over. She had done pretty well. She had been very anxious and tense, and it all seemed silly now. After going through her paper twice, she looked at the clock. Thirty minutes to kill. She looked out of the window. The Sun baked the ground and she could see the dust rising lazily in the air.

She could feel a bubble of joy forming inside her which reached her lips bursting into a smile.  Her exams were finally over, sixth grade was done… and it was also a Saturday. The vacations did not excite her as much as her Saturday routine.

Mom would be home. She would find something special from the internet to cook. Grandma and Mom would be in front of the gas stove, busy chopping and frying when she returned home with her Grandpa. The delicious smell would hit her right at the door, and she would rush straight into the kitchen. She loved to peek into the pan to see how the dish looked. Grandma would be yelling to first wash her hands, but she couldn’t help it. She loved to see how the dish looked, and whether it looked as delicious as it smelt.

Saturdays were relaxed. She and Grandpa spent long hours at the dining table. She ate and over-ate while Grandpa told her stories.

Mom was also more relaxed. Both would laze on the bed for hours. Mom was more patient on Saturdays. She loved to ask Mom about everything. Even though she knew some of the answers. And Mom actually knew that she already knew the answers. It felt good to hear the answers from Mom. It made her feel better. Mom knew everything. No… Mom said she did not know everything. But at least it seemed she knew so many, many things. She hated it when Mom said she did not know, or became short or impatient with her.

Mom let her watch movies on Saturdays. She sometimes even downloaded movies from the internet for her to watch. She would ask Mom to do that today. Princess Barbie, or maybe she would watch Coco again. She loved that movie very much. Maybe she would make one more page on Coco in her scrap book. The first one she made was not so colorful.

“I want to go out today”, she thought. “I will tell Mom that I want to stroll”. She won’t say no today.

Ice Cream…yes. Grandpa would get her Cornetto Chocolate Ice cream.

Shreya sighed. A sigh of relief and satisfaction. The exams were finally over.

Her whole Saturday routine and every day routine had all been in a disarray because of the exams. Mom was also so much more serious. That she caught a cold right before the exam did not help matters at all. No special snacks, no movies, no stroll. Grandpa always gave salt water to gargle, Grandma was always careful about fried and cold items. Mom was always checking on her sniffling, asking her to drink water, touching to check the temperature and then getting a confirmation from Grandma and Grandpa if it was alright…it was so very frustrating!!!

The only light moment was Mom and her jig at the end of every paper, marking the end of one more exam. Mom would also sit next to her when she studied, which she liked. But she did not like it when Mom asked her to read with focus, or looked at the clock. It irritated her. That’s when she called her Mom “Buffalo” in her mind. But Mom was a mind reader, it was like magic. Her head would be in the book or in the laptop, and she would say “And you are a baby buffalo”. It always amazed her. “How do you come to know??” she would always ask. Mom would just smile.

Ah! Yes… she loved to see her Mom smile too. Mom did not smile much. She was always serious. But she looked beautiful when she smiled.

Shreya felt she couldn’t contain the relief, excitement and happiness inside her. Her Saturdays were finally going to be normal. She could hug the whole world with joy. She felt so happy inside her. Back to Life.. Back to her favorite day!!!

When the bell rang, she could barely wait to hand over her paper, and rush out with her bag.

She had no time. She was busy. She had so many things to do… so many places to go. Her Saturday routine was back after all!!

Note: This was my entry for the short story contest of  March for Life Of Writers. The topic was – Favorite Day.  I didn’t win, but I loved the experience. Would love to get your feedback.

The women of beauty??

I am a loner – one of choice (A loner – by choice, not chance.) .

Being a loner has distinct advantages.You get to watch all the drama around without being a part of it.Being quiet and introverted is a bonus. Your mouth is shut and you observe more.

And you get to see so much going around. You are not drowned in the noise and babble. You have your own cocoon in which you are comfortable and secure.

A couple of days back, there was a collection drive in order to organize a feast at office, to celebrate a festival. I contribute, but I don’t go for the lunch. The introvert inside me screams blue murder seeing crowds.

Today was the D-Day of the feast. And as is the norm, people were asked to come in ethnic wear.

This is where the fun starts. Me in my blue jeans and t-shirt, was safely out of the game.

Sari is the ethnic wear for women in India. Men – don’t matter. For this is the battle ground for the ladies brigade. All the feminists, and pioneers of gender equality, and women empowerment join their weaker and meeker sisters; and unleash the power of lipstick and foundation.  (My thoughts on feminism?  Here… A Feminist? Not I…)

Hair is straightened, layered and colored. Eyebrows plucked out and redrawn. Concealer, foundation, blush, and layers are caked over the face. Finally, bindi on the forehead and signed off with the mascara.

Then comes  the actual attire. The said “ethnic wear”.

First – The sari blouse. This is the tricky one. This will give one the edge in the competition. How much of bare back is shown? Is it spaghetti strap, or tie-in. Is it sleeveless, or long-sleeved. Half the competition is won here. The other half depends on how much of navel is shown when wearing the sari.

Finally the heels and the brigade is ready to sashay, making sure every man around notices the feminist you.

The more “empowered” ones, the #MeToo representatives, are the more aggressive in their seductive display.

They know the men who ogle, who love seeing the glimpse of bare skin. And they parade around them, again and again. And if they do not notice, they draw their attention. Walk in front of them, calling out that someone, who has just disappeared around the corner… Take group pics with them, positioning themselves in that strategic way. Flirt, blink your fake eyelashes coquettishly.

To hell with objectifying the woman body!! I am so sexy, I need to be seen!! Back to my feminist ideology tomorrow!! For today, I need these suckers to lech at me!!

Oh!! And how they hate their tribe!! It is to be seen to be believed. Sticking cheeks together, clicking selfies, all the while hoping that the other one’s mascara runs or the fake eyelashes fall off. God! it must be so tiring to keep up the charade of love, when all they want to do is tear each others’ hair off!!

At first, I did not know whether to feel disgusted with the hypocrisy I was seeing or laugh at it. I finally opted for the latter, for it was so much more fun for me. And I enjoyed watching the elaborate enactment going on around me. It was like a costume drama. Like a performance, where every member knows their act and place.

Frankly, I believe this is why every #MeToo drive becomes a mockery. (#Me Too – Really??? That’s How You Define Yourself??) . A mockery of the ones who were really hurt, who really suffered and were victimized. Whose scars are there, hidden and hurting every day.

The real ones are never out there sashaying to the wolves.

They are also beautiful,and they not only dress well, but they also carry themselves so gracefully that everyone turns around to watch them pass by. They don’t revel in their stories. They don’t cry victim one day and push their sexuality in your face the next.

They are the ones who have learnt to live again, who have rebuilt their lives out of ashes; who know what it is to be broken. They are the ones who found the strength to go on when they thought they couldn’t, when they thought that they had nowhere to go, when they thought it was all over for them.

These are the women of beauty. For their beauty is etched in their souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck with our stories?

Opinions, misconceptions, stories – born out of our experiences, exposure, dreams and nightmares. Childhood beliefs, or misbeliefs.

Encounters – someplace, somewhere.

And media… the all powerful media which so powerfully changes the life and perception of people, without any remorse, pity or empathy.

All of these and more shape the stories in our mind. And somehow, we are all stuck with one story about something in our lives.

When I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, I just had to sit back and think. Think about all the perceptions we generally have. And the perceptions media generates.

I want to share it with all of you here. Hope it resonates with you, like it did with me.

Love…

 

And I finally hear the sounds of silence…

It feels good when you finally stop explaining yourself. When you stop trying to make others understand who you are, who you are not, what you mean and what you don’t mean.

The heart feels light. The mind is at ease. And there is relief. It feels strange too… you are not used to this feeling of weightlessness. You are used to the weight of the baggage that you have have been lugging around for so long down.

Being happy is after all so easy. I wonder why I never knew.

When I understood that this life, which I am blessed with, is not meant to be miserable, was never meant to be miserable. When I understood that I was under no obligation to do anything, think of anything or follow anything that did not feel right, that did not make me feel good. That things that were good for me, that I really wanted, and the ones who were really the right ones were never meant to hurt me, make me cry or make me hate myself, it all felt so simple.

Every emotion of raw pain that I felt was a call of help from my inner self, telling me to stop-stop-stop. To stop abusing and hurting my inner being again, again and again. To stop looking for the things that I wanted outside and instead turn inwards.

My over-thinking of the painful incidents and hurt just worsened it.

It feels good to stop. It feels good to pause. It feels good to be yourself. And it feels so good to experience these moments when your mind is empty of thoughts.

Now, I can clearly hear the sounds of silence. The beating of my heart, the peals of my laughter, the bubbling joy of discovery, and the vibrations of relief and calmness. And I can now almost touch these happy images that come up in my mind. The images that bring a smile to my face.

And these quiet sounds of silence that I have enveloped myself with, make me so alive, that I no longer hear the babble and noise of the world without.

 

 

This moment…

 

Yesterday, I was watching a TED talk by David Steindl-Rast (I have shared the link below for all of you). There was one point he made, that struck me so much that I am not able to shake it off from my mind.

Every moment that I get, that you get – in this life, is a gift. We do not pay for it or work for it. It is given to us completely free..without any terms and conditions..to be used, in whatever way we want.

I have been turning this thought over and over again in my mind.That is such a different way of seeing life.

This moment is mine, for free…I can use it for anything. Now do I use it to laugh or cry; do I use it to love myself or berate myself; do I use it to feel good or feel miserable; do I use it to think about myself or think about what somebody did to me…is totally my choice. But, once I make the choice and use this moment to follow my choice, it is no longer free. My choice has a consequence. No matter what. Do I turn this moment into an opportunity, or do I turn it into a miserable, agonizing time – that is up to me.

Just this thought, makes me understand of how we are in control of our lives.

It is totally in our hands to shape every moment of life that is gifted to us into an opportunity to better ourselves..

Amen!

And that’s my Valentine!!

It is Valentine’s Day.

The day we are supposed to express our love to someone; shower them with gifts; dress in all the right hues proclaiming our status – available, interested, committed. The color of the flowers too are supposed to matter – red, yellow, white.

By the end of this day lots of hearts get broken, and lots are supposed to come together -for how many hours, days, months, I don’t know (now..that’s the cynic in me!!).

I am celebrating this Valentine’s Day too..

In love of the one person with whom I live every moment, every day of my life. That one person who has been with me every day of my life, and will remain forever. Funny, but true, this is my first valentine with this person.

Though this person has been a part of me from so long, it is only now that I cherish this being. Only now that I really see how interesting, kind and understanding a person this is. Witty and sarcastic comments that get me cracking; a sense of humor that is hidden from view, but always running underneath creating these intensely funny scenes in mind; quietly observing everything and everyone, understanding a lot but never letting it out, very kind, sensitive and generous, honest, open and accepting in the truest sense, someone who loves with all heart.

Someone who deserves to be loved, respected and cherished. But instead, all these years, I had let others dictate my feelings and thoughts about this person.

Somebody abused this person physically, mentally, emotionally for years reducing the person’s integrity to nothing, Somebody said this person is hateful, somebody said this person is good-for-nothing, somebody else said this person is quiet and so is useless, another person said this person has double-standards and is a hypocrite and hence should not be associated with.

And then, so many stood up and pointing fingers said this person is not good enough – Not good enough! Not good enough to be a wife, not good enough to be a friend, not good enough to be an acquaintance, not good enough to be seen with, spoken to, spoken about. Jeez!! God!! total liability!! Treat this person like total crap. You don’t gain anything. Act as if you don’t even know this person. Stay Away!! It is a shame! It is a disgrace! There goes the untouchable!

And I too listened to all of them. Believing that after all, this person is only worth hating, only worth a life as miserable as possible. Abusing, accusing and making this person hurt and cry and suffer so much.

Oh! how much did this person suffer because of me!!! For nobody could hurt this person more than me. If what the others said was a stab on the back or shoulder, what I said was a dagger right through the heart.

It’s taken me a very, very long time to understand this person, love this person, beg forgiveness for what I have put this person through, appreciate, love and cherish this person. Today, I love this person with all my heart, with all my being. I am proud to be a part of this being, and I enjoy every moment living with this being.

I no longer cuss and berate this person. When somebody flings their barbs and we both hurt, I hold and hug this person close to me. When she wanders towards the abyss of dark thoughts and scary, hurtful memories, I gently lead her back to the light.

Now, we live together. As one. In love, every moment together -in harmony.

This Valentine for me is with the only person with whom I can never part.

This Valentine is – For Me!!

 

My favorite postman.. and Bret

In my childhood home, my daughter loves to ransack the library. She delights in discovering the drawings and doodles that I had done when I was around her age or younger; and digging and finding out the old, yellowing, countless picture and story books that my sister and I used to devour as kids.

It makes me happy too; the joy of seeing your child read the same books that you read when you were a little girl; or seeing her coloring the pictures you had left half-colored more than 28 years ago.. is indescribable.

When my girl discovered our collection of “MISHA”,  the wheels of my memories started turning, to recall one of the happiest periods of my childhood. And that’s how this post happened.

Now, I am 38 years old. So you can guess, that the wheels had to turn wayyyy back to go to that place where I used to stand on my toes, waiting for my MISHA to be delivered. (“MISHA” was a children’s magazine published by the USSR. I loved it. The pictures, the puzzles, the stories, the glimpses of Russia, the rosy cheeked kids… a different world – so mysterious, so different from my own.)

But this is not about MISHA.

****************************

This is about the man who brought it home for me every month, the man whose face is etched like a picture in my mind.

This is about my memories – of my favorite postman. And another man – who reminds me of him.

To me – my postman  was ancient.. very, very old.

He had silver hair and bright, happy eyes. In the images that I have in my mind, he is very tall, though I have no idea if  that was true. His face was lined and creased with age and his eyes crinkled with what I now know are laugh lines.

He was one of the most cheerful, happy people I have ever seen.

He would ride into our compound, ringing his cycle bell, dressed in his khaki postman uniform, and then call out very loudly “Keerti!!!”

“Keerti” was not my name, and he knew that. But that is what he had decided to call me. And that’s what he called me – for all the 7 years that I was in that town.

I was a quiet child, and very shy too. Talking to people was not easy for me. And though I was very fond of him, I would never speak to him. But he never seemed to mind. He loved me all the same, and seemed to understand the quiet child very well.

Every time he cycled in – he would look out for me, would seek me out, and hand over the post specifically in my hands – with a flair.

It was as if he knew, that though I didn’t show it, this ritual delighted me, and the shy, little girl felt pretty important in being considered to be responsible for the family post.

His face is etched in my mind, and every time I recall that face, and his throaty beckoning of “Keerti”, I can’t help smiling. Inside my heart, I become that little girl again and there’s this warm, fuzzy feeling that envelops me. He is one of my most favorite people – one of those very few who I felt understood me.

And that number is something that I can count in one hand – in fact I don’t even need all my five fingers for that.

Coming back to the present, ages later – the quiet girl, is a quiet woman now. Life has shown me more downs than ups, and I have had to rebuild myself from my own ashes.I am misunderstood and judged, by people who don’t know me and don’t want to know me, and labelled in different ways. But again, I have written enough about all that in so many of my posts, and I don’t want to revisit it again.

Two years back, we had a team of our senior management from overseas coming in at office. Meetings were scheduled, as always.

We walk in and I see this nearly 7ft tall man, with silver hair standing at the head of the table.

Now, I am pretty intimidated and maybe I look nervous, I don’t know. But the next thing I know – Bret, who is “senior management” to my “senior management”, graduated the year I was born, more experienced than every person in that room – walks over to me, takes my hand in both his hands, bends down and introduces himself, his blue eyes reflecting so much kindness and understanding.

And I look back into his eyes, crinkled with laugh lines, and his face creased with age, and all I see is the face of my favorite postman.

Bret made me feel so comfortable that day, that I (who was the normally “invisible” person in the room)  had a real conversation about the challenges with my work, and what I liked and I did not like with what I am doing. When I walked out of that room that day, he asked me to hold on, to take heart and to keep doing what I was doing, that what I did mattered. He followed up on what he said,things did become better for me; and he is as warm as ever every time he meets me.

Two different people, two different times, two different countries and continents, two different social status, two different roles, but the vibe that came out of Bret, the vibe of understanding, empathy and kindness was same as that of my favorite postman.

He understood, just like the other man did, that I was scared, that I was shy, and he conveyed to me through his actions that it was OK to feel the way I felt, but I was still a person whom he would like to interact with.

And that made a big difference – to me. It did then – when my postman yelled out “Keerti” and handed over the letters only to me; it did now – when Bret walked across the room to make me comfortable.

And that is what makes them my favorite people, that sets them apart from the multitude of people I know.

It is very easy to strike an equation with the loud, gregarious, “go-getters”. But not every one can have the large heart to step out of their roles and take that effort to make the quiet ones comfortable, and tell them that they matter too, that they are as needed and as important as everyone else.

My old postman and Bret did just that…And they hold a permanent place forever in my heart.

 

Till we meet again next year…

This is my last post of the year.

2017 was my year of hope and fulfillment. Was it a good year? Yes, I believe it was. The Universe delivered to me with an open heart, and gave me more that I could ever hope for.

Many things changed – for the better. A few remained as they were.

I end this year with gratitude and look forward to the next year.

2018 is my year of courage, happiness, progress and accomplishment. Of living my life in the best way possible. Of winning my battles and crossing the barriers. Of  learning to completely love the person I am. And I know in my heart, that the Universe will enable me to do it all.

“Unfinished Conversations” and all of you were a big part of my recovery this year.

I love you all and I wish each one of you happiness, peace, strength and hope.

Signing Off For Now..

“Shiny Kesavan”

 

A life worth living

Not every question has an answer. Not every happening has a reason.

Sometimes, you are left with a hundred thoughts hanging around waiting for a closure, a meaning, a reasoning. And you are left questioning yourself and your sense of worth.

Grieving someone who is still alive while grappling with the unanswered, is very painful. You are left drained out and numbed inside. You pound your brain constantly with questions, knowing very well that you do not hold any answers. You churn and twist your heart so much that it bleeds out from every crack and pore; and there is only so much pain you can take.

And at the end of it all, you are no better from where you were. The answers are still not there.

So when your heart is heavy with ache, and your mind is numb with doubts; just pause. Hold still, and close your eyes. And listen to your throbbing beats. Even in the midst of all your misery, your heart still beats – as always, as ever. Your brain still thinks and does all that it is supposed to do. Whatever you are feeling is of course, a part of you…but it is not the whole you.

You are still alive, you are still a part of this world, and you have a purpose and a reason to be here. You may not be good enough for this person, but that does not mean you are not good enough. You may not be wanted by this person, but does that mean your life is not worth living?  Why do you want to seek what is not yours? Why can’t you accept the truth as it is, just the way it is? What more do you want to realize – a banner printed out saying you are not wanted or welcome? What answers are you seeking out, what relief are you looking for?

After all, isn’t it you who stamp your own worth?

So why don’t you just step back, and leave the unfinished things exactly as they are? Just let them be, let the questions be unanswered, let the wishes be unfulfilled, let the doubts linger. Let go of that rope which you have held so tight that it is cutting right into you.

That pain will heal only when you release the rope.

So loosen the grip and let the rope drop from your hand. Let it pain, let it sting, throb and bleed.Let the pain engulf you as you release it and then let it recede, leaving behind dredges and remnants of it in it’s wake.

And you will live – battered, shattered, broken maybe, but still whole, still lovable, still the person you are. And when you finally learn to love yourself, exactly the way you are –  you will realize, that you alone are enough to make this life worth living.