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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

The room which could not be opened…

I got locked inside a meeting room at office the other day.

I have this team member who has a long distance marriage. He comes in early and spends the next couple of hours over phone. The intimate talks, spats, and telephonic display of affection, at a distance where it almost feels like he is shouting into my ear disturbs my morning calm and peace (to put it mildly). So as soon as he starts his morning routine, I pick up my stuff and get into a meeting room. So that I can carry on with my work in peace.

The rooms have frosted glass doors, with large handles…nothing special…the usual glass doors.

So this day, I pushed open the door, went in, sat down and just got busy with my work. After a couple of hours, as usual, I gathered all my stuff to go back to my seat. I came near the door and stared at it. There was no handle. Just a tiny knob protruding out of the place where a handle should have been. The handle had completely broken off. There was no way I could open the door without a handle. And then “brilliant me” caught hold of that tiny knob and tried to open the door turning it around..and..voila!! locked myself inside!!!

My story has a peaceful ending…somebody was coming down the corridor; I banged and shouted aloud, the person opened the door for me. And I rushed out in a gust of relief…

While the episode in itself is not so significant, it’s imagery held a great significance to me.

It reminded me of my harrowing past.

How many of us enter into relationships and marriages like this?

Unknowingly, walking through a door, assuming that just because there was a handle on the outside ; there would be a similar handle on the other side.

And you walk in, let the door closed behind you and find yourself trapped – inside a small, claustrophobic room.  Locked, inside this glass cage, with no way to get out. The handle to push open the door broken, the tiny knob turned, locking you in.

You can see, through the frosted glass, the world – as it goes by you. And they can see you, standing inside. And while you stare longingly at the world outside, they think you are in this room on your own accord. Because you want to be there.

Time goes by, you think you are used to this airless, suffocating, cold room. You start believing that nobody outside wants you. That you have no other place to go, no other place to be in. That there will never, ever be a way out.

Till you decide otherwise. Till you holler out, shout and bang the door. Till you break it open for you in some way, and come out of your glass cage. And as you walk out, breathing in the air of freedom, taking ginger steps towards a new life, you realize, that the world outside is as much yours as for everyone else. That you deserve every bit of this fresh air as everyone else. That you are needed, wanted and loved and that the glass cage is not your destiny.

But now I am careful, very careful. And every time enter a room, I check if I can open the door before I close it shut behind me. Because, I no longer want to be caught again – in an empty, cold room, with no way out.

 

 

My story..Or yours?

Every one of us has a story to tell.

We are all broken inside.. some a little less, some a little more – but broken nevertheless.

Is your story worth telling more or is it mine? Is your pain worth more tears or is it mine? Did you face it all more bravely or was it me? Did you lose more or was my loss more devastating?

Who is to say? Who is to judge? Who is to label?

Who can put a price, a worth, a value – on my story or yours?

The blood that oozes out of my pores match the same color as yours; the tears that slide down when the heart snags over the broken pieces inside look the same, taste the same – both for you and for me.

Then why, oh why is it so difficult for one man to see the shattered insides of another? Why is there pleasure in tearing open another scab, or drawing blood from one another?

Are my broken pieces any different from yours? Are your shattered dreams any different from mine?

Aren’t we all just walking around hiding inside us a story that made us, that changed us, that formed us, that fused us?

Aren’t we all just living this life – for someone, in some way?

Is my purpose of life of more value than yours? Is your sacrifice more deserving than mine?

Who is to judge that? Who is to say? That your life is worth more than mine…

 

 

 

Words..paused

It’s been days since I have written anything. I stare at the blank page. Nothing comes out. It is as if the flow of words has choked inside me.

I am scared. I don’t want to lose this. I don’t want to stop my conversations. I scan my mind. The thoughts, images, words, dreams, memories – they are all there. But the flow of these pictures in my mind into the black and white text seems to have stalled.

I probe gently the feelings inside me. I feel numb, and sad, a numbing sadness enveloping inside me from that day. Just a sense of being resigned – to being misunderstood and misinterpreted. I just bow my head down on my hands and let the numbness and sadness drown me completely. A feeling of helplessness.

My mind is tired.

Tired of trying to explain, trying to show, trying to reveal the real me, that I am not the one whom you have sat on judgement, one whose verdict you sealed without trial, one whom you decided not worthy of your company without a chance. One who alone is the untouchable, not allowed to be seen, heard, or allowed to touch or talk. One who is outcast for crimes not committed.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

But why should this stop me from having my conversations? They were after all, always unfinished. They were after all only from me. They were after all begun on the strength of my memories, my dreams, my desires and my alternate reality with you.

Why should my mind dry out spilling the words on paper? Why should my imagination sputter to a stop?

I began a life anew here – through these conversations. I laughed, cried, shared, and recovered from my demons through these conversations. I found a calling, a meaning, a beckoning light through these conversations.

I cannot let this fail. I cannot let this dry up. I cannot lose what I gained painstakingly, working on it – day by day. Putting letters together, forming words and sentences on these pages.

Living every day with feeling and a sense of completeness.

My Unfinished Conversations are after all, mine – to be nurtured and loved, till every last word I have to say.

The misfit

I do not know the art of keeping people hooked to me. I look in wonder at the people who do, and sometimes – if I am in the very depths of loneliness, I envy them too.

They say if you need to keep people hooked to you, if you want to keep them interested in you, you need to play them as a game.

I have no idea how to do that.

You ask me something, I reply. I like you or not, does not matter. You ask a question, you will get an answer.

If I like you, my actions will leave you with no doubt about my affection.  If I am hurt by a person I care, I tell them. If I am confused by their actions, I ask. If I am happy and excited, I share. The ones I love, I love with all my heart. And I am happy for them, in all that which gives them happiness. For the life of me, I cannot ignore them or treat them as if they don’t matter.

If you ignore me and I value you, I feel hurt. I will ask you the reason, I will try to work it out; but if you decide that I don’t deserve answers and move away, I will do so too. Of course the hurt and pain remains; but I do not know how to hold a grudge or act mean to you; and every time you pass by I will still hope that you will acknowledge me as a fellow human.

If the person has crossed every boundary of mine, and broken my trust and betrayed me, I  just move away, and they are no longer a part of my world. Astonishment, the feeling of being blind-sided, angst and anger remains. Depending on the depth of closeness and transgression,  it then slowly fades and they become another member of this larger universe.

 

I do not know how to be mean. I sometimes wish I knew. Mean people seem to be so popular and successful!! I do not know how to get close to someone for my own gain. It’s happened to me so many times, and I see it happening around me so often, but I never seem to get the hang of how the whole setup works. When someone does something for me, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. I really cannot understand how one can use the person’s name and title and closeness to gain favors, threaten others, make the person lose credibility; or just walk away and treat the person who helped you as a stranger after you get what you want…

So yes, in today’s makeup world of masquerades, I am a failure.

I am a failure in the art of keeping people hooked to me, in the art of gaining benefits solely for self, in the art of keeping pretenses. And so I am also a failure in the art of making friends and keeping friends.

The mind at times feels numb and heavy, because the heart wants to share things with the other person; but the other person has decided that for whatever reason, I deserve to be ignored ; and do not deserve any explanation too. Ask them and you do not get any answers; do not ask them you still do not get any answers. You were there happily talking last week afternoon, and by evening the equations have changed so much that you are no longer in a position to communicate with them.

The intricacies of playing this game, confounds me. I really don’t want to play this game. It tires me and lies heavily on my heart. Why can’t you just talk to me when I talk to you. You don’t like something I did, tell me. You want me out of your life, tell me. You are busy with more important people, just tell me. Isn’t easier to just tell someone what is going on, than play the guessing-waiting game?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me… Maybe I just need to learn to live in this world of make-believes and learn to write my thoughts on a wall and share my feelings in the air.

Maybe I just need to let this all be, and continue to live as this misfit in the world which is truly now just a stage.

 

Why do you?

Empty spaces, empty places, empty dreams

Leave them untouched

Do not prop them up with your pillars of

False hopes, false fantasies, false fancies

Why do you weave stories that don’t exist?

Why do you imagine feelings that were never there?

Why do you think there is a place for you which never was?

 

That oasis is just your mirage – a figment of your loneliness

Trying to hold on to something that never was

Trying to feel the emotions that you never experienced

Trying to look for something that you will never have

Why do you think there is an otherwise?

Why do you still hope for the next week?

Why do you think anything will be different?

Mistaken, misunderstood, misjudged

Still hoping that the love that you feel will be enough for one more day

Still hoping that maybe things will indeed happen your way

Still hoping that you are seen to be worthy enough this day

Why do you still think you will be accepted like any other?

Why do you still hope you stand a chance like another?

Why do you still wish you will get more than crumbs and morsels?

Empty spaces, empty places, empty dreams

Leave them untouched

Embrace the emptiness and encompass it in you

For this only is yours today and tomorrow

 

 

 

 

Battle Symphony

I know this is a little late to pay tribute to Chester. But I don’t think there is any end-date or timeout period – to remember the people who in one way or the other touched your life and helped you push forward.

I love music. I don’t listen to music everyday, nor am I an expert in music lore. But, I have my choices – songs and singers, lyrics and melody, that I tune to depending on what and how I am feeling.

I listen to Bryan Adams just to hear his earthy raw voice, and songs that romance you, without even bordering on anything obscene. I can’t think of another singer who could belt out a song like “I Wanna Be..” without sounding creepy and crass, or who could make “Let’s Make A Night To Remember”, so romantic and seductive (hated the video though…didn’t do justice to the song). He is my childhood crush.

Taylor Swift and Katy Perry – I love these girls. I listen to them whenever I feel like kicking someone’s ass. They never fail to put me in a better mood.

Glen Hansard – makes me cry. His songs just touch that part of my soul which is aching and lonely. I love his songs, but I don’t dare to listen too much, for I always end up an emotional mess afterwards.

And then..there is Chester Bennington.

Chester came into my life when I was going through some very tough times. Struggling to recover from a past that kept haunting me, struggling to stay afloat, struggling to rebuild a life, begin anew, as a stronger individual. It was the time when I would have one good day, and then ten bad days. Days when I felt totally out-of-depth. Working hard, hard, hard to get out of the misery I found my mind swimming in.

The first song I heard of his, was “Heavy”. I know “Linkin Park” fans didn’t like the song. I know it was considered not to be “Linkin Park” type, but the first time I heard the song, it was as if Chester and Kiiara were talking to me – about me. I just sat there listening, my mind going “How do you guys know, that this is how I am feeling ?” Every word of it…it was as if somebody had pulled out a page out of mind and printed it out and were singing it loud (https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/linkinpark/heavy.html)

Needless to say, it was on repeat on my phone, and I was playing it again and again and again. And believe me, when I tell you – every time I heard the song, I felt a little better. And then a little more..and then some more.

I looked for more songs from Chester, listened to them more, and the more I heard him, the more I liked him.

Today, when I look back at those dark days, I know that Chester helped me a great deal in healing me, in telling me it was OK to feel what I was feeling, that I could get over it, that I had it in me to face my battles and come out it all with my head high.

Right when I considered myself out of the dark woods is when Chester decided to move on from this world. That a man who helped me find the value of life and living through his songs, decided that his life was not worth living broke my heart.

I understand that every piece of music that he gave the world, every song steeped in pain, an anthem of courage and will was a piece of his soul. That he was struggling with his demons just the way I was, and while he helped me get over mine…he decided to let it all go.

I wish he was still here around, making his music, belting out his numbers, perking us and picking us up.

I hope he has found peace and relief from all the pain that he had and is singing his way along, wherever he is.

Thank you Chester. For me, you are still around. And every time I feel things bogging down and my mind becomes restless and angsty, I put on my earphones and hear you ask me to repeat:

“I hear my battle symphony
All the world in front of me
If my armor breaks
I’ll fuse it back together”

 

 

To the man I met in the trial room… I am sorry

Let me tell you an incident I am extremely sorry about today. I felt embarrassed, thoroughly appalled, and guilty about what happened.

Every time I feel too down in the dumps, I go to this place nearby, and shop for clothes. More than shop, I do a lot of window shopping. I also love trying out all these different designs and styles, which I definitely cannot wear for various reasons…but what the heck!! I can still try them out and look at myself in the mirror inside the trial room, right? Lifts my spirits up..

So on this day, as usual, I have this set of clothes to try out. My mind is completely engaged in the various styles, colors, cuts… I walk towards the trial room and the door is ajar and I push it open. There is a man inside, and he has a black t-shirt in his hand. I casually look at him, and just assume that he is the guy who belongs to the store, who checks the trial rooms and clears them of clothes left by the previous occupant. I gesture that I want to enter and he just smiles, nods and rushes out with the t-shirt in his hand.

I enter the room, close the door and pick up a dress from the bag to try it out… when suddenly, it strikes me like a bolt from the sky!!

That man was just another customer like me!!!  He must have just entered the trial room, and maybe he was just about to close the door, when I barged in. Of course, he must have clearly understood the assumption I had made about him. But he was too courteous and too shy to correct me. Instead of taking umbrage, he just let me take the room, and that too with a smile!!!

I groaned and sat down inside the trial room. I was no longer interested in the clothes in front of me. Shame, guilt and embarrassment flooded my whole body. I felt weak at my knees, and red in the face. After spending a couple of minutes, berating myself for my appalling behavior, I walked out in the hope that I could find him, and apologize. But I didn’t. I wish I could have seen him, and I could have said sorry; but I just couldn’t locate him or identify him.

But, what made me make the assumption, that he was not another person like me, that he was a trial room boy? Why did I not pay more attention to the person who was in front of me?

It was because – I had stereotyped him.

There are a lot of people from the north-east part of my country in this city, who work in malls, restaurants, salons and boutiques. They are in majority – pleasant, courteous, soft-spoken people; Their physical attributes are distinct from the people of the rest of the country. They are often slotted, branded and treated as if they are not part of us, even though they are every bit a part of my country as any other citizen.

My mind, that night, just saw a person who looked to be from this part of the country. In white shirt, and black pants (which was the uniform for the store boys); and it jumped to a conclusion. That he didn’t wear the store tag, that he was not wearing the store boy uniform shoes, that he was not checking out the trial room (as the store boys usually do when they clear out), but was looking down at the shirt in his hand… all these points didn’t strike me till after.

I saw something, and just made a conclusion. I had stereotyped him.

Stereotyping people – on the basis of how they look, how they speak, from where they are, or what they do. I myself have experienced being stereotyped, see it happening all around me – always.  I hate it..but, I am ashamed, that this one time, I myself am guilty of doing it.

Most of us are blessed with two eyes that see and a brain that functions well. Yet, we let our opinions, biases and prejudices, cloud our judgement. Race, religion, lifestyle, food habits, dressing habits – we judge people by these. Jump to conclusions, make assumptions, stereotype them. We sit on trial and seal the verdict on the basis of our narrow minds – overlooking the obvious.

That all homo sapiens are equal. And what separates one from the other is only their actions. What each does, and how they do it.

To the man I met in the trial room – I really wish I could tell you how really sorry I am for that incident. And thank you for not only being so nice and so kind about the whole episode, but also for giving me a lesson on not just looking at what I see, but understanding and comprehending what is in front of me, before I make a conclusion.