Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Adventurous End to the Sunday !

I believe few experiences are just too beautiful to be put into words, yet this one - beautiful, adventurous and playful as it was, deserves to be posted. 

"As I put disinfectant on the sole of my feet, I cannot help but smile widely at the adventurous end to this wild Sunday. After dinner, me, my friend and her friend went for a walk in a posh area which houses all the villas. Yesterday also, me and my friend had gone there and spent 90 odd minutes walking in the rain talking about everything from life to love to career. Tonight again, all three of us went to the same area, deciding what we shall tell the guard if we get frisked while entering the posh territory. Much to our delight, the entry was an easy affair. 

There is a mango tree that I discovered there yesterday only and ever since I absolutely rejoice seeing it. It reminds me of all the fruit bearing trees back at my village which we, all my siblings, used to climb in the long afternoons of our school summer holiday times. Seeing raw mangoes hanging out from its branches just touches my heart and makes me very very happy. As I was lost in the tree and its surreal beauty in the dark of the night and the light of the sodium lamps, my friend expressed a desire to have 2-3 raw mangoes. So, we began gathering them. We were able to find only one from the ground, which was already lying there on account of heavy rains the previous day. After much deliberation I decided to use my slipper as a stone for we could not find a stone in that clean locality! On the third throw a good raw mango landed on the ground and with that we were left with the demand of only one last mango. On my fifth or sixth throw, I cannot recall, the mango never came down, on the contrary my slipper got hung up there! I was delightful when it happened. This was something that was happening after like ages, something of this sort. All three of us began to discover the slipper that had got hung up on tree using our mobile flashlights; each one us trying to solve the challenge in a different way. After fifteen minutes, we decided that climbing the tree would ease out the expedition. This made me really very excited. It was 9:30 pm and I was all geared up to climb the tree, more so, I had the opportunity to test my bicep strength. With relative ease I climbed the tree. WOW!! It was a heavenly feeling, reminded me of the times when I used to climb jamun tree in my village and savor the delicious fruit for the entire of afternoon with siblings. 


Carefully, I was taking every step forward on the branch of the tree, wary of balance and cautious of mis-steps. After reaching a point where I could hold a hard branch over my head with both the hands and rest my feet on the one below, I shook the tree vigorously, with all might I had. The tree was strong, not as strong as the ones back in my village, but yes it challenged me and my strength. The next moment I shook it more vigorously, but only more mangoes fell from it and there was no trace of slipper. My friend handed me my mobile somehow on tree, I switched on its torch and began hunting for it. I believe I understood tonight very well what camouflage really is, my slipper had become a better example for that than a chameleon in the dark of the night hanging on a tree. I tried hard to locate the slipper but it was successful in evading us. All three of us were trying to locate the elusive slipper. Every time someone used to come, my friends used to sit on bench and pretend to talk while I used to feel like those dacoits who hide on trees to jump over their preys.  After some 20 minutes on tree, amidst mosquito bites and ant bites, I realized that approach needed to be changed. We had shook two big branches where we suspected the slipper to be and it had not fallen down, instead what we had now were 12 mangoes, four times what we wanted and a lost slipper, which we did not want. I climbed down and then again we began hunting for the slipper. The challenge had gone beyond the slipper, it had become an intellectual challenge and an event that targeted our common sense and smartness. After five minutes of coming down, we intently began our search and then I saw something. Looked like a sole of the slipper, I saw it carefully and then shouted to my friends and called them. The light in their eyes said it all. Finally, we had, after half an hour found our target. We began throwing stone or mango to try to bring it down, but stubborn as it was, like me, it was snugly fit with a branch-end. So much of providential happening and such a perfect way, I wondered and smiled. Finally, our efforts paid off and the slipper fell. All three of us, high-fived each other and rejoiced, it was an achievement, it felt like one. 

And now another task lay ahead. To smuggle, thats what my friend said, to smuggle the mangoes out of the society. All three of us, carefully put the mangoes in our jeans pockets forgetting the serum that was oozing out from them and walked out of the area without getting frisked at exit. It almost felt like some mission was complete. It was one hell of a unique and different experience. Playful end to a wondrously productive weekend!! 

Keep the child within alive, nothing is impossible for a child!!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Beautiful Words on Love by Khalil Gibran

A very good friend of mine recently, in our casual discussions about life, journey and everything, pointed about a book she has read and with much emphasis she encouraged me to read it. The name of the book ? "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran. I read these beautiful lines on "Love" in the book and I read it every time, it only renders a wide smile on my face, reminds me of what Mahatria Ra says, 
"I am having an affair with Love, people come and go". Below I present the lines that I believe, capture love in its most purest of essence. 

"Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. 
To know the pain of too much tenderness. 
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully. 
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in 
your heart and a song of praise upon your lips". 


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Not Without My Daughter : After thoughts

26th April 2017: I was travelling back from Bhopal to Bangalore.  As much lost I was reminiscing the face of my mother when she bid good bye to me, her beautiful blue saree with golden border,  and the expressionless face of my father guising lots of blessings in his silence and eyes, I was happy to be away from the village and its people. Being there had tested my patience and my fortitude. But I do not have anyone to blame, they had taught me a lot, every question, suggestion, observation about me had strengthened me, contrary to what they would like to believe.  Notwithstanding all of that, I was happy, beginning to get life back on track. I had books in my bag which I could read but I did not want to, instead I was looking outside the train blankly, assured confidently that I was out of the world where marrying at the *right* age was the vox populi.

However, I reasoned that I must read something and so I opened a book, my savior and quickly got immersed in it. Before long, a man, who must be in his late forties came up to me with a smile on his face after seeing me reading. He struck a conversation and I remember intently listening to every word he was saying. I was delighted, muttering to myself, “This is the kind of conversations I savor and these are the kind of people I love to be around”. God had sent him to me, because He knew I needed to nourish myself. He always knows what is best. Among the five books that he suggested me to read, “Not Without My Daughter” by Betty Mahmoody was one of them. He had asseverated that all these five books must be the sine qua non of my library. I had devotedly accepted. His words were not frivolous, far from baloney; his words were a betoken of his higher consciousness and erudition in spirituality. I felt blessed.  Out of all the people in the train I was the chosen one for (His and )his profound words inundated with grace and kindness. His name? Vijay Gaikwad, a ticket collector. That I am sure sends us a very germane message that, “Knowledge is independent of the social stature, income, race, class, gender anything, the real knowledge.”

This article is about the book that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. With much emphasis Vijay had asked me to read it. I do not read fiction, but his confidence won over me and I immediately ordered it on Amazon and began reading it. Today I have finished reading the book. First day I read some 50 pages, second time I read it I completed 117, third day I dog-eared 395th page and fourth day the book was over at 518th page. It was worth reading it, it is a true account.

14th May 2017: there could not have been a better day for me to write about the book (and finish reading the book) which is the real life story of an American mother and her daughter who were held hostage in Iran by their husband (father) under the guise of  a two week holiday at Iran. The book tells the story of a mother’s strength, her indomitable spirit which fuelled her get back to her country with her daughter, a story of the Betty Mahmooody and her daughter Mahtob Mahmoody and their miraculous escape from a coerced habitation.

Immediately, after reading the book I searched online about Betty and found youtube videos and interviews in which the mother and daughter duo talk about their times in Iran and how those times have strengthened them. There is also a movie with the same name. The book, movie, interviews, all of them left me appreciative towards Betty and grateful towards the Iranians who helped her find way to America amidst all the unheard perils of the clandestine escape. From two weeks to close to 78 weeks in confined quarters, surrounded by hawk-eyes and never-ending insolence, it must have been a journey as grave as the one talked about by Viktor Frankl in his famous book, “Man’s search for meaning”.

I think all of us can relate to Betty’s experience. If there is one single lesson that I have drawn from this marvellous piece, it has to be this: “When we have that long term goal in our eyes, then the path appears, people appear, the strength appears provided we are willing to work every single day. There is despair, there is despondence, there is a whole lot of fear and amidst all of there is also courage which only we can find. Courage does not fall from Heaven above, courage is discovered, gleaned bit by bit from every experience, augmented bit by bit from every blow”.

The story has much fodder about the strength of a woman and that too with a six year old daughter. She had two souls to look after, may be it would have been easier for her had she been alone, but being with Mahtob, I would like to believe gave her more strength. It was a quest to secure a future for her daughter, if not her own, away from a land where she felt a stranger, where it was okay for men to beat up their wives and where women were considered to be voiceless creatures who if dared to say something only deserved a thrashing. I think I can claim that it was a good investment of my time and worth the read.

I cannot truly imagine the anguish and deep dread that they went through, but today when I look at them I feel proud. Their happiness is palpable. I think that it the case with struggles, when you are out of it, the pain no matter how killing seems to lose its grip on the afflicted soul. I also understand why Vijay wanted me to read this book and talk about it. He wanted to instil in me this story, deep in my heart, so that when I face struggles and challenges in my life, I garner strength from the vigor of Betty and apply in my own life.

Thank you Vijay. Thank you Lord. For those in Bangalore, feel free to seek the book from me.

Friday, May 12, 2017

वो कहती थी

वो कहती थी , "तस्वीर में क्या रखा है" ,
हर वक़्त तस्वीर की खोज में रहते हो,
शायद उन्हें अब इल्म है कि ,
मुलाक़ात जब मुक़म्मल न हो ,
तो आशिक़ तस्वीरों से ही बातें किया करते हैं | 

 वो कहती थी , "आज भी आस है तुम्हें" ,
कोई उन्हें बता दे ग़ालिब ,
आस होती तो षड़यंत्र होता,
बेवजह है तभी तोह इबादत-इ-मोहब्बत है | 

वो कहती थी , "मुमकिन होता तो साथ होती मेरे" ,
मैंने हसकर कहा , बस इतना ही काफी है ,
संसार के बंधनो के पार , इक दुनिया है , 
वहां तू ही तो है साथ मेरे | 

वो कहती थी , "हम अलग हैं" , 
जानता था काफी जुदा हैं,
पर इंद्रधनुष की खूबसूरती की वजह , 
भी तो सात रंग हैं , 
काफी अलग अलग हैं जो, 
युहीं सोचा मैंने | 

वो कहती थी , "उसके मन में है कोई और"  , 
आशिकी में मेरी निखार आ गया था और ,
उसके मन में था कोई और  ,
हरचंद मेरे क़ल्ब में सिर्फ वो थी ,है, और | 

वो कहती थी , "इतना जूनून क्यों है" ,
मैं कहता था , तेरी कशिश का इल्म तुझे कहाँ है ,
तेरे नैनो का जज़्बा तुझे मालूम कहाँ है ,
इस फ़कीर की पूरी हुई मुराद है तू | 

वो कहती थी, "भूल जाओ मुझे",
मैं कहता था , 
"इश्क़ है मुझे तुमसे, 
इसमें तुम्हारा कारोबार क्या " | 

मोहब्बत एक तोहफा है ,
किसी की सोच ही तोहफा है ,
तेरे दिल में नाम है किसी का ,
खुदा से करीबी की पहली सीढ़ी यही है -  मोहब्बत | 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Is this fair in a civilised society?

On Sunday I had an opportunity to meet a lady, 45 years of age. I was in an extended conversation with her. The conversation which was a normal chat about her life and interspersed with  few of my life experiences was a great investment of my evening time. She is the only one who lives at her beautiful home. Naturally, I asked her if she ever desired of having a family. Sensing her discomfort, I immediately changed the topic and went onto discuss something else. In the end though, as our conversation was progressing we found ourselves talking about the right of minorities, the ones who are physically challenged, their aspirations and dreams to live a life similar to the mainstream folks. There was something that was catching my attention. Her internal pain was palpable to me, it was not inherent in her voice, she is a strong lady and with much acceptance she was stating that the societal stereotypes do not allow one to follow their hearts sometimes. I had understood very well what she had meant and that pain which erupts when one is denied the most natural of human desires has not left my mind ever since and I am compelled to write. 

"It is a very natural human urge to share the deepest, most secret, most pure and unknown parts of one's life with someone, someone who understands them, acknowledges them sans judgments or opinions. Dreams to spend life with someone  who takes care of you in all your good, the bad and the ugly times are as natural as a mother's love for her child. Denying someone their right to act on these urges and to divest them from fulfilling those dreams is a betoken of deep rooted non-understanding of deepest part of our own selves and makes us aware of our own lack of empathy as a society towards those who are slightly different from us. When I feel it, it sounds very cruel and tyrannical to me. Despite functional limitations if two people are willing to come together to start a new life, society stands no right to annul it, or try to bring disgrace to the desire by citing their limitations. Two adults who are well-informed about their conditions and each others' condition, understand the challenges that lie ahead, if are willing to marry and enter into an intimate partnership, then what right is it of society to disturb the apple-cart? It deeply hurt me when I felt the distress that was not conspicuous on her face but written all over her heart when she said that she had accepted that family was not on cards, a kind of negative acceptance she had remarked. And she is not living her life dependent on someone, despite the brittle bone disease, she lives very independently and proudly ever conscious of her purpose in life. It really is uncalled for . I look at her and then look at LGBTQIA, I grow more disconcerted. They say our nation has progressed a lot since independence, I am sure it has. But is it justified that the progress has forgotten this crucial aspect of human rights? What kind of progress is this in which people cannot follow their heart's deepest desires and are left totally disqualified to begin a journey that almost everyone aspires for? Is this really civilized society? What kind of civilization is this? A woman is doubly stigmatised and faces dual bias. I never knew that such kind of incidence would so deeply affect me. As a person of sorted priorities and sorted decisions, I have always had a different take on lifelong partnerships yet the institution of  partnerships in someone else's lives commands deep reverence from me. 

It is time we ask ourselves, what kind of society  we are creating for ourselves and our posterity? Everyone and any one who desires to have a family, must be allowed to live that. Crushing this human desire is like plucking the rose bud which also dreams of blooming into a unique rose."

Love.

That one word that the moment we hear it our subconscious mind runs over to those faces, eyes and smiles with whom we have shared the love that we carry inside of us and continue to. A word as pure as the breath that sustains me, a word so pious as to deserve only innocence, a word that beautifies life, plants fire and an eternal peace at the same time. Peace which comes when you know you are a fountain of love for everyone that crosses your life's path - a love which treats all equal and makes no special relationship with anyone, a love that liberates our soul, purifies our spirits and plants a fountain of joy in the hearts that receive it, a feeling like no feeling at all.  Love which does not care about lust, passion or romance but a love which divests no one from it. 

This is a very very personal take on love which comes from a 26 year old. I have been in love, never out of it, in romantic relationships and out of it and currently with no desire to be into any for the only real relationship I have learnt I have is with The Tao, the God of 10,000 things which secures everyone without lording over single one of them. A love which sustains me, I am learning that love and because I sense a sincerity in me (Atleast, I would like to believe it that way) learning the mysteries of that love is so high that I find myself walking away from everything that promises the illusion of love, or is at the fringes of love, every single day. I walk towards the Tao and in the process get away from the illusions, the seemingly peaceful enchantments, the fugacity of idyllic dreams, the distress under the garb of false comfort and all the falsification of love that manifests in this world where one becomes special and the sole object of love. 

Healed have I, with close relationships that I have shared with people in my life. Those aspects that needed to be rooted out from my personality so that I could listen to the music of my soul have been healed by messengers of Lord, some of them who stayed for few years while some for few months, exactly as Lord had planned. But despite the healing that has happened, there is something greater that needs healing and that requires an intense brush with the deepest parts of me. There is something that still calls me, that attracts me towards it, only now I seem to be paying attention to that voice of my sub-conscious mind which has been hopefully waiting for my arrival. I have surrendered, I have accepted my insanity, my ignorance, the false belief of me being a doer. I have accepted that I know nothing and I have accepted that I need knowledge that would liberate me and save me from my own self, which will plant such strong foundation of the real truth in my heart that I will be better able to lead my life peacefully with increased awareness and increased gratitude. Even the last traces of the comfort that I implicitly derived from things external to me seem to be fading away, waning away, evaporating like dew drops in intense sunlight. 

Something mysterious seems to be happening to me, something like never before, it is not a battle it is the clarion call of a war, an internal war. It is going to be a long one, the result of which I know will purify my eyes, my heart , my beliefs and my sense of being human. 

I find myself hungry for something, something eternal, a truth may be, a truth of all seasons, truth about Love. Superficial beauty has fallen in its majesty in front of me, that brief sensation of internal beauty also loses its hold over me, the past stands negated, invalidated and destroyed. This is the second day of my new life, a life which has happened not due to some heart break, not this time, but due to a conscious decision, a hunger, a responsible choice, something that happens when you begin to listen to your truest, most pure and most innocent of parts, when you pay begin to pay heed to your soul rather than your personality.

A messenger of Lord had said a year back, "I felt you'd walk away because you were into mystic stuff".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Kindness

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her name will be “ELLEN.” ELLEN was small, shy. She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.
So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” — that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.” And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”
Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.
And then — they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing.
One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.
End of story.
Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still. It bothers me.
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
But kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything.

An Adventurous End to the Sunday !

I believe few experiences are just too beautiful to be put into words, yet this one - beautiful, adventurous and playful as it was, deserv...