Unconditional

Today is Rakshabandan. I message my brother. I get a smiley in return.

” What is unconditional amma?” asks my little girl.

I had adopted the technique Roald Dahl suggested, in his poem about television. That had made her addicted to books, to my great delight. I thank Dahl and stop myself from asking, if she was reading about love.

There is no other explanation. Only love is unconditional. Hatred, comes with twists and turns of malice. Indifference,  is a cool blue steel. Mockery is all yellow laughter. Envy, I think is not green. It is one flash of shark teeth-all red and bloody.

” Unconditional love, ma. What does it mean?”

I have on my lap, ArogyaNiketanam-Tara Shankar Bandopadhyay’s  Bengali Classic. A very dear lady has gifted it to me, and it is a translation in my mother tongue.

For a moment, I ruminate on what Jeevan Mashai, aka Mahashay, great soul and healer would have explained:

“Death is unconditional.”

It is too deep for an answer.

” Like my love for you both,” I say, ” like the love of most mothers and fathers for their children.”

” Huh?”

” Hmm… Like your love for Chechy,” I grin.

“Huh?”

” Regardless of anything, you love her, right?”

” Mommmmmm, ” I hear a groan from the other room, ” do not give her ideas!”

” Huh?”

” Ok, it is like this- if this person needs , hmmm an eye- you offer both of yours. There is no separation. You are, because he is.Or she is.”

” Huh?”

” You know your uncle? ”

” Yeah”

” Let us say that amma has unconditional love for him. What do you understand?”

” If he needs an eye, you will offer both. But you will turn blind.”

” Exactly-it is not important whether one turns blind or not”

“Mommmmm…that is soooooo melodramatic… She cannot get metaphors…hmmm,” says the voice from the room.

” Unconditional means…ok, but then how will you give him an eye?”

” I am sending him a Rakshabandan message instead,” I smile, ” it means the same”.

” Weird,” comments the voice.

” Ok- so Harry Potter’s mother would give her two eyes for Harry. She had unconditional love for her child,” concludes the little one.

” Now you got it right. ”

********

I mail my brother, a picture of his nieces.

May they learn to be there for each other, as you have been there for me- through life’s most treacherous paths, offering a steady hand. Unconditionally.

With love, this Rakshabandan.

I am the blessed one.

*****

Not Alone ( Thanichalla) Sugata Kumary Poem

image

Temerity means well, excessive confidence, a sort of effrontery. Hope dear Sugata Kumary teacher forgives me for the temerity; for doing a translation. The sort of precious feelings her lines evoke, I could not help it actually.

Thanichalla ( I am not alone)

In the dim light,

The dark tinged  wetness

After rain-

I sit alone, in the shadow of the even tide.

Alone? I am surrounded by those who left me,

Drowned in tears, all alone.

My sister,who left me so suddenly, just the other day

Stands caressing me

Nearby stands my younger brother,smiling

With his smile that never sets

My beloved, holds onto my hand,

Says, he will never leave me

My son comes running to sit in my lap

My mother kisses my forehead

My father hums a tune, besides me

My teachers, place their hands on my head

My friends, who have long left, look on and smile.

Though dignified as the roar of the sea,

I recognize their dear voices, touches

Seamlessly.

In this cool twilight, they entwine themselves

Around my heart and life spirit;

In this twilight which burns me in the agony

Of parting,

I sit

Touching them-

Without tears, without ever parting.

(Mathrubhumy, May 17, 2015)

Red for the Diplomat

” How do I look?”

As my elder girl turns to the younger one, for her much respected opinion, I remember my own childhood.

” Try another watch- golden colored,” says the young fashionista, assessing her sister’s ensemble, with narrowed brows.

” Aww..are you sure?”

” Yes. It coordinates better with your dress,” comes the firm reply.

The strange way in which the power balance changes in a moment!

In all other circumstances, the elder one rules, whether it is answering the query on Umbridge’s middle name ( Oh, chechy, are you sure it is Jane? Of course! Go check- Dolores Jane Umbridge and I read it years before, huh!) or clarifying a map location (Mumbai is not in the middle of Karnataka, you goose!) or even picking up the ice cream flavour (chocolate, chocolate and it is chocolate.)

I watch with a hardly disguised glee, as the elder one, becomes putty in two dexterous little hands .

” Your nail polish is red, and the dress is green and red. What about the red footwear?”

The Devil wears a little frock in my house! She will definitely graduate to Prada in a few years too.

My elder girl looks at me helplessly.

” Practice your speech now. The footwear can wait,” I say, officiously.

” Respected Secretary General and Fellow Delegates from across the world..” she begins, and then stops as suddenly.

” Mom, are you sure I should not change my footwear?”

My little girl giggles. Ah! The power of suggestion!

” You are a Ukranian diplomat elaborating on the country’s economic crisis. No one will look at your shoes, dear,” I scowl at the betrayer-in-arms snuggling close to me,looking as if butter would not melt in her mouth.

” The debt pile ..,” I prompt.

” She should wear red,” declares Ms. Anne Wintour in the making. She flicks a dust speck off her frock.

The diplomat changes her shoes.

” And now,” she declares her policy openly, ” I will violate the ceasefire agreement, if you open your mouth till I finish my piece!”

Peace reigns in my house.

My little girl falls asleep as various solutions are presented to the honorable members of the UN.

The diplomat leaves with a grin.

” Ma, when she wakes up, tell her I think she has great fashion sense!”

And that is how, I reflect somberly, global problems are solved within the family. Acceptance and tolerance of differences and strengths, indeed.

Whew!

*****

*******

Sword Fights and Floods

” The great thing about the Universe is it will keep providing you with the same lesson until you learn it.” That is a quote from Rhonda Byrne’s Hero.

It is so very true.Have you had patterns in your relationships with friends, near ones, relatives? A terrible draining pattern, for example? In which you often wondered what it was that you did wrong, to entail envy, hatred and abuse? Then suddenly you realise that the neighbour is still throwing his dustbin contents on your balcony and you are still forgiving. The clerk who is supposed to pass your travel bills happen to forget that your bills deserved passing. Rudeness in a shop sets you off. What did I do to deserve this? Ahhhh..

Once I asked my Guru this question. He laughed.

” Why does Durga have weapons depicted in her hands?”

” To protect herself,” I said, not believing my own answer.

” When logic fails, weapons help, do they not? To draw a line,” said Guruji.

I nodded. Tough metaphor but very clear.

It took me many years to actually implement that lesson in my life.

How to draw a line- simple. Step beyond this, and watch the sword rise. For I have to protect sacred territory.

Suddenly, dustbins stopped being emptied into my balcony.Clerks started passing bills as per rules. Relationships fraught with open as well as subtle abuse, stopped encroaching into my life energy.Bullies started cowering. Abusers stopped stabbing behind the back.

I have not quite passed that life lesson as yet. I am probably at Grade Ten. I need to do a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to learn the nuances more. But the learning has empowered me.

And the best thing about sword fight?

You are not afraid anymore.

********

” Ma, what does it mean- after me, the deluge?”

I should thank Dr.Who for teaching French history to youngsters!

” Madame Pompadour”, I said, ” was a very smart woman. Very accomplished. And using all the power allowed to her in that era, she was hinting at a certain importance of  self hood and existence. You see, after me what is left but the flood?”

” Awwww”, she says, ” that is arrogance!”

I grin. ” Your generation seems to like that aspect of personality a lot! I see a lot of swagger in your role models?”

” Nope. At the end of the day, attitude is all about being truly nice. Who can stand an arrogant, pompous, full -of -myself -person, day in and out?” She counters.

” It takes a lot of courage to be grounded and humble. Anyone can be arrogant. Do you know what the word humility means?” I ask.

She loves reading all about magic. Her cupboard is full of both Physics and Magic. Not too different, if you actually delve deep.

” Yup- walking the sacred earth,” she smiles.

” For that, you need feet firmly planted on the ground.”

” Mmmmmm…do you think that little brat can be taught humility?”

The little one sniffs, from somewhere close by. She is drawing a girl tottering on high heels.

” Hey, learn to walk on the ground- you walk too tall for your own good”, laughs her sister.

” I love high heels,” says the brat,” I am waiting to wear them when I grow up. Pink high heels,” she murmurs very happily.

And  as we laugh,  I rediscover magic.

Between the flood and the high heels.

Not surprisingly, it is spelt love.

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

Weighing The Words Right

” So she told me with a sarcastic grin that I was not going to make it to a management trainee role any day- I lacked confidence, positive body language and basic communication skills.”

The audience listens quietly .

” As I moved out of the room, I heard her laugh and comment to her colleagues-what sort of losers do they send for interviews anyway?”

The speaker pauses, and then shaking off the bad memory, begins again, ” It took me three years to get over the trauma that her insensitive behaviour caused. I totally believed what she had commented about-that I was a loser. It took kindness, from great teachers and mentors, tears and grit, to get over her words.”

” Who was she?”

” Just a job interviewer- I was so naive and young, from a humble background. I thought these people were Gods and decided everything. My fragile self confidence had been shattered by a bored interviewer’s crude comments.”

I shift in my seat. I have memories of humiliation too-oh, just too many to count. I could absolutely relate to what the speaker was narrating.

” Seven years later, when she walked into my office, I recognised her instantaneously. One will never forget those who wound one deeply, if you have observed human nature. Not surprisingly, she did not recognise me. I had been just another fly , disturbing her coffee , in that routine campus interview. She had come to the office wanting me to extend the project offered to her company by another six months. It was a foreign nation and apparently her spouse had lost his job and she was the one earning a salary. If this project was not extended, she would go back with the team and her unemployed husband,  and all their plans for a new life in a new country would fail. So would I somehow, extend the deal? You see, it was so critical that she would do anything for it!”

I can feel that feeling of revenge, that burst of exultant laughter tinged with a wild yessssss, right within my heart. I really , really want the speaker not to forgive the woman.

He is a better soul than me, it turns out.

” For a moment, I felt that moment of justice. I wanted to laugh at her and throw her out of the office after telling her who I was, and what she had done to me, all those years before. Then I felt sad, incredibly sad. Lord, did I punish myself for three  long, cruel years, for the sake of what this ” small ” human being had uttered over a job interview? Who would give me back my beautiful youthful years that I spent in utter fear and trepidation of not being good? I told her the truth, that I could not help her since  her company did not qualify as per the project norms .I did not want anything from her either. By the way, did she remember me by any chance?”

” She did not. I told her about a scared young lad, in his first job interview, being mercilessly bullied and humiliated by a petty interviewer, who was just whiling her time away. She had done a meticulous job of shattering his fragile self confidence.”

” I thanked the now pale faced woman, for making me what I was, today. But for her rejection, I would not have tried for a foreign scholarship. But for her evil, even unwittingly, I would not have taken the path to self discovery and met great mentors. But for her, as a life lesson, I would not be the confident person that I was today. But I told her that I truly regretted that she had financial hardship due to the project loss. Sorry, now would she mind if I bid her a goodbye? ”

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

My daughter and I , discuss about the topic.

” This is the world that we live in. A lot of worthless people rule our self-talk because we give them a stature far beyond what they deserve. The ability to see who speaks, for which purpose, and  the  self confidence to discern the wheat from the chaff, are very critical life skills.” I fall silent.

” So next time, someone passes a nasty remark, check if it is true or not. If it is intentional and malicious, respond assertively. If it is unwittingly said, but beyond her mandate, draw a line and let her know. If it is worthless and not worth your time, ignore. And if it helps to ponder, reflect. But never let it sink you,” I say, from my own life lessons.

My child smiles.

” You need to smile more often, ” she says wisely, ” What about a pizza dinner?”

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

Write, rite, right…

I got my Royalty cheque. And it was pretty cool . Tell you what, there was a Tax Deduction Certificate along with it too!

Some voices trouble me at times:

” She thinks she is a writer. I do not think so.”

When a woman writes, everyone thinks that she is writing about her near and dear ones. So good women do not write!”

” You are an author, eh?” 

” How much royalty did you make?’

” Who published you?”

” How many people have read you?”

Let me do a Clark Gable to those ones.

” Frankly my dear, I don’t  give a damn!”

***********

Does it really matter, what another person thinks about you? What he or she thinks, you would be better off doing with your talent or lack of it? How long or short you should write? Who should be ideally reading you?

I am happily looking forward to two publications in my mother tongue , Malayalam, by early 2016. One is a poetry translation from English, called ” Daivathinte Pranayageethangal”  and another,a Philosophy translation from Hindi (Sree RamKrishna Upanishad).

The only truth I know, is that every human being has an inalienable right to be happy(and write!) in this world. If yours include a mixture that I cannot partake of, and mine has some ingredients that make you sniff, let us part ways as friends.

By the way, you can buy my books online. Please add to my royalty:)

http://www.nageenprakashan.com/ViewProduct.aspx?Criteria=MISCELLNEOUS&BoardId=12