Thinking of you…

When something puzzles me, makes me wonder, confuses me, or makes me anxious I think about you. I try to think how you would look at it, and what you would do.

In my mind, I see myself telling it all out to you. I see you hearing me, in that patient way of yours. Listening intently, but your thoughts flitting in and out, looking at the whole situation in a way that never occurred to me. I hear you speaking to me – In that calm, measured, warm tone of yours. Telling it as it is. And making it all seem so simple, so easy to comprehend, so straight forward; that I automatically know what to do.

I wonder if you know how calming your manner is, and how much you are able to put a person at ease.

In my imagination,  I have these deep conversations with you about so many things.  Life, world, love, politics, religion, humanity, psychology.. anything-and everything. Learn, understand, articulate. Just talk, and listen, curled up in your warmth.

The vacuum inside me aches at times. Makes me aware of my incompleteness. How bare my soul feels, and how much it craves for you.

And then I close my eyes, and wander into that different world. Where I can see you, talk to you, feel you, experience you.

Your intense eyes, unruly hair, smile and scars. Your gestures, mannerisms, voice, tone and intonation. Your shyness, awkwardness, apprehensions and doubts. Your thoughts, mind, warmth and passion- I run through them all like a caress.

And I let the calmness steal inside me slowly. Easing the ache, and filling me up with the feeling of warmth, love and peace; and my mind once again picks up the thread of looking forward at life, of making the best of things and of never giving up.

That you are actually not here does not matter after all…

For you are always a part of me, in every chapter… from the one you entered, to the very last one – in my book of life.

 

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It is a sign..

When you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, anxious and maybe scared about something, think of it is a sign.

A nudge – by the Universe to act, to move, to take that fear head on.

Quiet your heart, breathe and let the whole thing wash over you. And when you come out of it a winner, as you surely will, life will be more beautiful and serene; and you will be stronger, and living a better life, than ever before.

Amen

 

Looking back…

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One more month to go, and this year comes to an end. I look back at these past ten months .. with gratitude. It’s been a learning, discovering, rebuilding, empowering ten months for me. Like a fledgling inside an egg, I have come out to explore and experience the world around me anew.

I take pleasure in living my life . Finding happiness in the little things . Doing things(which are still possible) that I have always wished to do. Fulfilling my own little whims and fantasies, and allowing myself to experience the small joys of every day.

Whether it was the wish to wear a short dress; take my Dad and Mom out to a fancy -upscale restaurant; dress-up nice, cook delicious stuff and celebrate on festivals; go out with my parents and little girl to see places; take a vacation trip and explore; cook new things every weekend (and now my daughter thinks I am the best cook in the world!! That’s such a proud and happy feeling); introduce my Dad to the world of smartphones; or painting into my hand something that I deeply wished to have; I did them all…

I watched some beautiful movies, read some amazing books. Met some people, whom otherwise I would have never noticed, who humbled me with their attitude towards life.

And of course, I have my “Unfinished Conversations”; my blog where I get to talk freely, from deep inside me;  and so many of you – who read what I write, comment, give me feedback and fulfill me in so many ways. I can never make light of “Unfinished Conversations” or all of you – for you helped me recover from what I was struggling with (Thank You Fellow Bloggers, Every One Of You..)

I try my best not to think of things that I can never have, or parts of me that are lost or damaged over the years. Fake people, who come and go as the weather suits them don’t bother me at all. I am completely indifferent to their presence or absence. I am neither curious about their lives, nor want any part in their activities. I am perfectly OK not knowing what is going on, and I have my own life to look out for and live.

Not every one gets a second chance in life. I did. And I am determined to live every moment of life, here, now..completely. No regrets, no bindings, no inhibitions.

“Life is never meant to be lived backwards”. And today I look back, just to see how far I have come, up this road.

Pic: Sculpture named “Pivotal Moment” by Angela Mia De La Vega 

 

 

 

Like a phoenix – from my ashes..

I have an abusive past. Every day, I work on putting it away. But just as how a recovering alcoholic needs to constantly stay away from the booze, I have to constantly work on myself. Some of the damage is permanent, some I work on every day, day-in and day-out tirelessly – To rebuild and redefine myself.

I have changed. Into a better, more confident person. I no longer feel so much fear as before, panic attacks and terror that paralyses me. I look forward, and try everyday not to look behind.

So, what then is making me look at my painful past today?

A blast from the past…

The man who tried destroying me decided that he wants to show his authority.  Decided that he could threaten and abuse my father and get his way. In the past, I would shake with fear. Now, I felt anger. Red-hot, boiling rage. I don’t feel cowed or submissive now. “Bring it on..I will not only take you for all you are worth, but I will sweep the floor off with you!!” is what I felt.

For, I am a changed person now. And he is the same. And that is a difference. A very, very big difference!!

I was married to a passive-aggressive, physically and emotionally abusive man for twelve years. I used to be slapped and verbally abused in public places and in front of strangers, friends and relatives. Emotionally tortured day and night. I used to be even shaken awake from deep sleep and questioned on what I was thinking or dreaming of in my sleep! I used to be called names, and made to grovel physically in front of him. Lick his feet. Unspeakable, humiliating things which I try my best to forget, to bury deep inside somewhere.

He used to make me call myself names, make me say that I was a bitch, that I did not deserve to live, that I was worse than a parasite. He used to make me stand and tell speeches about his virtues and my faults; and then he used to beat me up. I used to be told day and night that I was worth nothing, was repulsive, made anyone want to puke, that I would die a dog’s death. I had a job, but was not financially independent. All the money was drained out by him and his family. I was isolated, and not allowed to make friends or have contact with my own family. I used to dress up in rags. I used to be left in isolated places at dark, regardless of the weather; kicked out of moving vehicles, punished in different ways by the entire family, for various things.

That his family was greedy for money, hated me, and helped him in torturing me and watched it with delight is another matter in itself.

To the outside world, they looked different. Sophisticated, well-dressed, tall, fair-skinned, charming, quick to joke… “No smoking, no drinking, no non-vegetarian food. Lots of prayer, rituals, customs… Saints”.

But I have not seen Sinners worse than these.

Greed, gluttony, cruelty, no ethics, no humanity.. a dark, filthy, repulsive soul is what every one of them had inside that facade.

People ask me often, why I stayed for twelve years.. I was too scared, too much destroyed, too much damaged. I had told myself so much that I was useless, that I really believed it. That there was no hope, no life for me. That this was all it was.

How I built the courage to make the decision to come out of that place, how this one person helped me understand that I did have other options to live and that nobody could take away my baby from me, how my tirelessly, supportive parents stood by me and took me out of that place, along with my little one is not for today.

What I want to tell you today is that I am no longer cowed, no longer scared, no longer anxious, of what that monster will do! Yes, I felt a pang, a twinge of anxiety shoot up and down, when the incident happened. That’s the remnant of the permanent damage that I have. But then I felt anger, amusement and my sarcastic self asserted itself!!

He does not know this new me. But I still know him and his family – in and out. More than they know themselves. I know how their minds work, their intentions, their actions, their tactics. I can read their dirty minds like a book.

He has no longer any hold on me. He can never get inside my head again. He cannot terrorize or scare me. He cannot threaten my little girl’s life and future. He is just a reminder of how strong I am now. How I have built myself up. How I have left my damaged self behind.

He is neither a part of my memories, nor a part of my dreams. He is no longer significant to be even a part of my nightmares. He is the character, who appears and re-appears in some chapters of my life, to present his charades and to play his part, to remind me again and again, that I am not what I was, that I live my life today with pride, respect, courage and confidence, that I live a life looking ahead not behind.

That like a Phoenix, I have risen – from my ashes, to live a new life, in a world of my own.

 

The faded picture on my palm…

 

I look down at the faded design on my hand. The letters of your name sprinkled on the palm – still visible to me, though barely there. I smile, looking at the now pale, mud-brown pattern.

It looks cartoonish, like a kid got hold of the henna pen and ran riot on my palm. But tracing it there had given me happiness… a special joy. As if I had somehow got a scrap of a dream in real. Something nobody could take away from me. Not even you. This here -on my palm – was mine.

I turn my mind to my memories with you. Few and far between. Lingering in the air like your perfume, long after you have gone that way. I hold on to them, like someone holding on to the broken remnants of a precious memento. Gingerly, carefully, lovingly, wrapping them tight and placing them carefully in that box in my mind.

I have more dreams than memories with you. Imagination soaring high, swooping up and down, living a life just a figment of my mind. A different life, a different me, a different world.

How does it feel to be loved, to be cared, to be wanted, to be treated with affection – I do not know. I sometimes wonder. It must feel good, very special I suppose. I can only guess.

But in my world of imagination, I know it all. And I have you too, as a part of me – for real – to fight, to learn, to love, to lean.

I wish I could just sit across you for an hour sometimes and talk, the way I can talk only with you. Have may be one conversation that is not left unfinished. But, it is what it is. And all I have is this faded mud-brown pattern on my hand, a vacuum, and a series of unfinished conversations passing day-after-day-after-day.

 

And Sherin Mathews Died…

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Sherin Mathews is dead.

She lived for a total of 3 years on this planet called earth,supposedly the only planet where there is life. 3 years… seems to be a very short period. But during these three years, what unspeakable horror and trauma did that little girl go through before meeting a tragic, horrible end!

From the moment I read the news yesterday that her body’s been found, my mind just can’t stop thinking about her. I just want to curl up in a corner and cry, cry and cry. Cry for that little baby, cry for what she must have gone through every minute of her painful life.

Thrown into a dustbin when she was born, and picked up by an orphanage – everyone must have thought that she lucked it when the Mathews’ decided that she would be their “chosen one”.

I would really like to know what drove this couple to adopt a kid, when they already had a biological daughter. It was certainly not philanthropy or the wish to provide a better life to a little orphan. It was definitely not love. I wonder how they benefited by taking in this orphan.

Did they not know that being a parent requires patience, requires love, requires courage and is a life-long commitment! Did they pick her up like a cute puppy on the street, and then got bored with her? And then they wanted to get rid of her!!

This man, who is her “Dad”, threw her out of the house at 3 AM in the night, for not drinking a glass of milk!! And then, when he did not find her 15 minutes later, decided to go and do laundry, and then go look for her in the morning??!!!

She was not a dog or a cat who could find her way back… She had developmental issues, she couldn’t speak properly, she was for heaven’s sake ONLY 3 years old!! 3 AM..she would have been groggy, sleepy, cold, scared, alone. I imagine this little girl in her pink top, black pants and pink flip flops standing terrified out in the cold and the dark, all alone..

The reports say the first version of events is a lie. That that’s not how the events actually happened. That the dogs couldn’t pick up her scent under the tree she was punished. That she was dead long before she was thrown out like a piece of garbage.

While the first version ( if it is a lie in itself), sounds so horrifying, I am unable to fathom what the truth is!!

All I know is whatever happened, the “parents” failed the child.

Yes, they seem to have a cushy, comfortable life, they don’t seem to have any want . They might be envied and respected among their circle of relatives and friends. But in my eyes, they are monsters; devoid of anything remotely human. They are poor as poor can be in their values, ethics and humanity. And their riches are worth nothing.

I do not know if they have guilt in their hearts, but they surely have blood on their hands. Whatever happened, and in whichever way it happened, they are responsible for the little girl’s death.

Love for what is your own is easy, that comes naturally to homo-sapiens. But taking somebody else’s baby and bringing them up as your own, not just providing materially, providing emotionally, psychologically; loving them from deep inside the way you would love your own, is not for everyone. But it is not something that you should be learning trial and error.

Taking a trusting, helpless little one and then realizing it is not in you to love and care for her; resenting her and her disabilities; wanting her gone..and really getting rid of her.. that’s not forgivable.

I feel very guilty even to say “Rest In Peace Sherin”.

What right do any of us have to say anything to that baby? Every adult in her life, every adult who should have been her care-giver failed her, in all possible ways.

All I want to say is, Just don’t come back here baby, in whatever different form or way.

For the truth is, Sherin Mathews died, not last week, or the week before that. She died, the day she was born.

 

#Me Too – Really??? That’s How You Define Yourself??

#Me Too tag – that’s all I’ve been seeing all around me for the past couple of weeks now. It’s the new craze, new frenzy gone “viral” – of something that’s been happening from so many years all over the world, but which people only realized when a major Hollywood hot-shot was cornered!!

It irritates me, makes me impatient, angry!!

No, don’t get me wrong. I know what it is to be abused..Oh yes, I know it very, very well. I know it’s effects, I know how much permanent damage it can do. I know how these monsters of the mind creep up suddenly on you, years after it has all happened.

But do I want that to be my label, my identifying factor, do I want to proclaim to the whole world – that “Treat me different, Look at me different, I am different, because #Me too”??

No!! Definitely not!!

That phase of my life does not define me. I refuse to give so much importance to that part of my life that I need to label myself on the basis of it.

And all the ladies out there who think they belong to the same fraternity because – “We are all sisters”, – let me tell you my experience.

During my long, painful years stretching more than a decade, there was not a single individual belonging to my gender who stood up for me. They were there – as part of the perpetrators, they were there – as instigators. They were there – eagerly drinking in on my miserable stories around the table, or water cooler only to giggle and gossip over it. (A Feminist? Not I… )

Apart from my parents (I cannot thank God enough that I have them in my life), it was a man – who gave me the courage, who made me believe that I did not have to take it like this, that I could give it back. That I could walk away from it all.

No.. not a woman, it was a man who helped me to the point from where I could redefine myself.

I refuse to confirm to labels which define standards of hypocrisy.

Counting and data analyzing the number of people who are “#Me Too”s does not serve them any purpose.

How many of you are really doing anything to prevent many more of them? How many of you would take it upon yourself to actually give someone the courage and support to walk out, to not put up with it, to not suffer in silence? How many of you would not use it to spice up your gossip circles?

Define yourself as #Me Too – but not as a label of what happened.

Define it as a label to show that “I too helped someone get out of it”.

Can you do that??

Groundhog Day

I watched the movie “Groundhog Day”, yesterday. (ya.. the 1993 one).

I do not know what the script writer or the director wanted the movie to be. Maybe they wanted it to be just a comedy on a guy fantasy – “getting away with it, without consequences, and still managing to win the girl of your dreams”. Or maybe it was not so simple, and it was a light hearted look on getting yet one more chance in your life.

Whatever it may be, the movie spoke to me. And I understood. Whether it was the same language or the same lessons, I cannot be sure.

Till some time ago, I used to have frequent bouts of anxiety attacks and depression. I struggled to not be a victim of my past and to move on. (Thank You Fellow Bloggers, Every One Of You..).

I woke up with dread in my heart, dragged through the day in a muddle of heart-wrenching sadness, loneliness, misery, self-pity and self-hatred. Struggled to stay afloat. Struggled to stay positive. Struggled to forget the incidents of the past, that kept coming up like vomit. Struggled against the rising panic that I felt inside me, the anxiety and the heart palpitations. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and kept wondering whether life was worth living. Desperately hoped that the next day would be different, and then it would be the same day all over again…

Every day – was a “Groundhog Day”.

And then one day, I came across a quote – “If you repeated today every day for the next year, realistically, where would you end up?”.

The words struck me.

I knew that this was not the day I wanted to repeat every day, every year. I knew where I would end up like this and I definitely knew, that was not where I wanted to be.

I put behind my half-hearted stabs at change aside,  and made an earnest effort to reclaim my life as my own.

I worked very hard on myself, trying a lot of self-therapy, devouring books from neuroscience, psychology, law of attraction, self-help, anything and everything that could help me live my life anew, as a better, stronger individual. I used to write notes to myself, have quotes to help me. Since I did not have friends, I ended up being my own friend… telling myself, that I could do it. That it was not impossible.

Every time I found myself slipping into negative, self hating monologues, I would force my brain to repeat the quote. And my berating mind would quieten down. Every time I felt the feeling of being not good enough, of being a failure, of being ugly, of being boring, of being good-for-nothing, of being a curse, of being a disgrace, of being a burden, I would try my best to focus on the line.  On the occasions, where I was able to pull it deep from some inside corner of my mind, I was able to gain control of myself.

It was not easy. It was difficult, very, very difficult. I slipped, I missed, I relapsed, but I never gave up. I made sure that every day was a little different, a little better than the previous.

Today, I can safely say that I have reclaimed my life. That I am in a better place. Yes, I lost a lot of things, yes there are some things I can never get back, there are some things that I will never have a chance to do or experience in my life because of the years that I lost; but there is so much, so much I can still do.

I have put my pieces back in a different way, to be a better and stronger person. I know I have a lot to be thankful about, grateful about, every moment and every day. I am as kind to myself, as I would be to my friend (if I had one), and I know that I deserve every bit to live a worthy life…

I realize that the world is as large and as small as I decide it to be. I understand that it is up to me to decide on what and whose company I need. I am responsible and in control of my life, no matter what.

The winter days, with blizzards, numbing cold and darkness are in the past now; the Groundhog has definitely brought in an early spring for me; and I am determined to live every day of it to the fullest.

 

The path towards the sea..

The mind wanders, through the meandering lanes of thoughts.  She strolls, in a leisurely pace, through the winding roads of memories and dreams. The crooked alleys of the past rarely beckon her anymore.  The sights of her abusive days no longer pull her, to re-live the pain and misery.

Sometimes she does stumble, unknowingly – on a trigger that throws open a door, from which gushes the toxic memories that crush her spirit. But she no longer stands transfixed, overwhelmed by the debilitating pain and shame. Instead, she slams the door shut, with both her hands and walks away.

And she glides on, peering into each lane, planting a dream there, picking a memory here.

She finds him standing there, on the path towards the sea.

Running her eyes through his face, she can’t help but smile. Hesitatingly, she brings her hand up and traces his face. Her fingers tingle, with the touch. He smiles, and gently takes hold of her hand. There is a bubble of joy bursting from the center of her heart now, like a sprinkler spurting higher and higher, and a tinkle of laughter bursts out of her.

She is happy and her face lights up with joy as she now walks in step with him. Her heart is full, with that rare sense of contentment and peace that she always finds in his presence. There is no need for chatter, for the silence between them is never awkward.

They finally reach the end of the road, where the sky meets the sea, and the sea gushes to meet the land. He brushes his lips against her forehead, and she curls up in his arms, warm and safe. And they talk, as the dusk turns into night. From one topic to another, the conversation flows with an ease that she finds only with him. They pause only to make love, only to let their embraces express what words fail to do. And they laugh, love and talk, never knowing, when the night becomes dawn…

………………………………………..

Yes, the mind wanders through the meandering lanes of thoughts. She knows, it is but a beautiful dream. She knows that he is a mirage. She knows that she will never feel the brush of his lips on her forehead, nor his embrace. And she knows, that the conversations will always be unfinished.

Yet, she smiles. For in those winding roads of her dreams, she lives every moment with him, and knows, she will find him right there, every time she went – down the path to the sea.

The lamenting man and his worries…

I had a very strange conversation with a colleague a couple of months back.

Now, this man is a piece of work. He is crass, turns half-truths mixed with lies into completely new “facts”, gossips, and complains incessantly about his life. Add to it, a penchant for leching, and you get the picture.

So yes, I don’t have the best of opinions about this individual. But, after this conversation I ceased having any opinion about him.

So, he calls my name out this day, and says he wants my inputs on a dilemma that he is facing. I ask him what it is.

And this is what he says, “My father and mother are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in a month’s time. My father wants to throw a party to all relatives, extended family and friends. He says, they are happy and fulfilled; that their children are all alive and doing well in life – with children of their own; and both he and mother are witness to it.  He wants to share this happiness with everyone by celebrating it in a grand way”.

I express my congratulations, and then wonder to myself what the dilemma is here. It is a happy occasion and worth celebrating..where was the problem??

And then it comes…

“I don’t want to have a party”, he says. “I have refused to host or participate in a party”. “Why!!??”, I ask incredulously.

“I will feel embarrassed in front of relatives. They will ask me about my pay, my social status, my car and all that. I feel ashamed and insulted”, says the man who owns two  homes of his own in a big city, a car, a very high paying job, financial security and a healthy wife and kids!!!

I am unable to understand. “And why would you feel insulted?” “I feel embarrassed because I don’t have anything”.”You don’t have anything???!!”,I exclaim. “Oh, and what about your two homes, car, the position you occupy , your family and your luxurious life in this big big city??”, I ask. I can barely hold back my sarcasm and irritation. “All that is there…”, he shakes his head. “But my wife doesn’t work, and my brother earns more than me”. “Hmm..”, I say and am just about ready to walk away. I don’t want this conversation.

He asks. “So I would like to know your opinion. What do you think I should do?”I rub my hands over my face to gain control over my emotions and them look at him.

“You want to know my opinion?”, I ask.

“Here it is. Your father and mother will have only one 50th anniversary in their life.  They are grateful and happy about the life they lived. If God forbid,  they are unable to host a 75th wedding anniversary party, can you live your whole life with the regret and guilt that you denied the one thing they wanted, for your own selfishness and insecurities which are baseless and hollow??”

He stared at me for a moment. But words like these have no effect on a mind like that. He had already made his mind up, and he cared a rat’s ass on others’ opinions in fact. He was emphatic that there was no regret or guilt element here. That his situation was more pitiable and deserved sympathy than his parent’s wish for a party. And finally, he put it all on his poor wife, saying that her parents were ill, she would not be happy seeing the celebration on his side, she feels insulted in front of relatives, that he was protecting his wife’s code of honor.

I mentally checked out of the conversation, kept my silence and walked away at the first opportunity.

I was fuming inside for a long time.

I always knew this man was insensitive (like for example, he wanted to know how “despite being pretty, well-educated, smart and able I ended up as a separated, single mom”), but I could not imagine someone being so insensitive to your own kin, your very old, aging parents who worked their whole lives to put you up to where you are today. To this position, where you sit in a cozy AC room, counting your “grievances” against life!!

They certainly did not deserve a son like this…

Happiness, contentment and prosperity are very different for each of us.

This man finds himself “with nothing”, in spite of having everything. I cannot count any of the items that he takes for granted, but I still have everything and I am everyday grateful for a second chance of life, of all my blessings, my parents and my little girl. I also know of people who live on minimum wages and say that they live a contented life.

We are all on a quest to find our Shangri-La in this world. Some of us find it right inside us, and some of us fail to see it even when it is in hand, and keep looking for it. It is up to us to decide where to look for it and how far to go for it.

Where do you think, my friends, you will find it??