Talking With Him/ Her

IMG_2123

I have the habit of talking with my favourite God:) It is akin to having a conversation with one’s best friend. (You can substitute the name of your beloved spiritual guide in the place of Hanumanji ) Here is the argumentative devotee trying to make sense of her journey:

Devotee: Lord, sometimes life doesn’t make any sense. I feel so lost in the melange… of the pot pourri of nonsense called this world! How do I traverse this seemingly intimidating ocean of unsurety?

Hanumanji: Stop using big words. Keep things simple. Thoreau caught it wisely- Simplify, simplify… Focus on those that need your attention. Ignore the irrelevant. Do not try for perfectionism. Accept that you control nothing- not even your actions. Offer everything at His feet: your thoughts, deeds, words…Then see if the worldly ocean scares you to bits!

D: I find myself overwhelmed by the glossiness and show around me. The glamour and the magic of make believe makes my eyes blink. I cannot see the path ahead.

Hanumanji: Glamour is magik. Trace the root- it comes from occult. Enchantment of the senses through allure and make believe. People trying to increase their aura and energy fields by various charms and colours…It is their choice. Why not grin and accept that the world has as many paths to happiness as there are grains of sand? Why not shrug your shoulders and wish those who enjoy that path the very best? And look confidently- without blinking in confusion- at your own rather simple stretch of sand path? Perhaps your way follows another magic?

D: Stress! Stress! So many expectations! So many commitments! Such little time! People who seem to be doing it all with utter coolness! Where am I in the midst of all this?

Hanumanji: (Laughs) What is stress but the showcasing of your ego? When you feel you control the action and the result, you feel the nervous palpitations of stress. What if I fail? What if someone mocks me? What if…what if?

What if you accept that even your action is beyond your total control? That the only thing you can do is to take the Lord’s Name and attempt whatever it is that you want to do? And that He/ She stands guard lovingly by your side at all times? That for the Lord, every flower of your offering – your attempt- is equally beloved. He does not differentiate between worldly success and failure.

And as for people who seems to be doing it all with utter coolness- may be, they have mastered that knowledge!

D: Where does one draw a balance? Thousands of demands scream for attention every passing moment? Meanwhile one reads about by-stander indifference. People who are so immune to sensitivity that they would rather make video recording of a crime or accident than reach out to help! How does one remain human in this world of ours?

Hanumanji: Remain your own authentic self. What you value will show up in your thoughts and priorities. Focus on those. Be the first who will reach out to help. The others will follow suit. The way to break the by stander indifference is to be the change maker. Be unafraid!

D: Which brings me to the main issue: Fear! There is paralysis everywhere due to fear. The fear of consequences, the fear of tomorrow,  the fear of what others would say, the fear of denied approval, the fear…

Hanumanji: You are more powerful than you think. When the Lord stands  by your side, what can make you afraid? And it is interesting to note that once you are unafraid, the enemy in your mind loses his/ her capability to frighten you! The enemy can be an examination, a potential diagnosis of a disease, a hateful personality, anything…The battle is in your head actually. Follow me?

Devotee: I follow you.

***

All these snippets are products of my overactive and febrile imagination. However, at the end of such conversations, I see light!  And with that little flame of hope, I trudge on my journey.

Until another wind blows and  my lamp gets snuffed. Then I start speaking with my beloved God again.

HE lights another lamp for me. Always. With utter patience. With infinite love and compassion. And then holding my shivering hand, walks by my side with His confident steps.

Then I become fearless.

***

 

 

 

Picking Your Battles Well…

IMG_2078

What do you need to walk away from——?

You may fill in the blanks with your own life experiences. It could be a bad job, a  terrible boss, an abusive relationship, a splintering family situation …The common symptom is that it makes you want to scream, embitters you, weakens you, depresses you, makes you feel utterly helpless and causes you to indulge in self-loathing.

I have pondered on that particular question at length. And concluded that what is Manna for one could be Poison for another.

You might call it cowardice, I would call it wisdom. You might call it fool hardiness, I might call it discretion. You might call it intelligent, I might call it selfish. You might call it well timed, I might call it too late. You can never please them all. Neither can I.

I have seen  apparent wise men and women fail miserably because they did not have the courage( my terminology) to acknowledge reality for what it was. They pretended everything was absolutely perfect and went grinning to their downfall. I have also seen wise men and women choose discretion as the better part of valour, and pick their battles intelligently.

Recently, one very brilliant doctor asked me, how to avoid unnecessary confrontations and  avoid making unnecessary enemies. I thought of a life time of battle scars and grinned.

‘I  have read somewhere that you should speak up strongly if it is true, kind and necessary. It has to pass all the three tests!’

The good doctor, who was nursing his drink, gulped it down and toasted, ‘That is worth another one!’

Sometimes, as Dr Clarissa Estes so wisely reminds us, one has to have the strength of a jaguar and the heart of a butterfly. You should strive to have sinews of steel and a heart full of compassion.

First of all, be compassionate to your own self. If something makes you want to scream, please do. Scream your heart out. It is not worth killing yourself over an issue which can naturally resolve itself in one blood curdling yell.

If someone or something makes you suffocated, walk out before the life breath is extinguished. Gulp down the oxygen of normalcy before it is too late. Tolerating  anything bad (in any form) can be like inhaling carbon monoxide on a regular basis. It will make you slip into a comatose stage and from there, starts the end of what you truly are.

Will you survive at the end of it all? Oh yes! And shall live to tell the tale another day. Surrounded by warm sunshine and a slight breeze; staring at the blue sky and seeing a bird fly.

Because, when you walk away from oppression, you choose freedom. And if the battle is worth it- true, kind and necessary- then you will live to fight another day. With a sword by your side called ‘Self-respect.’

**

 

 

 

 

 

Standing And Wondering

image

None of us are perfect. In fact, we are so full of faults that earthquakes can map their fault-lines through our avaricious hearts and minds. The hollowness in our lives, at times, are attractive for vagrant thoughts and desires. It is there that a book makes its mark- by filling the void with its beauty.

I loved reading Subhash Chandran’s book, ” Manushyanu Oru Amukham.” I wished that he had not ended it at all. I wanted to read more about all the great souls who had walked on my mother land: with their ideals, humane vision, lofty thoughts, unselfish hearts, loving selves , with light shining brightly within them. The character I liked most was Govindan, the quiet and erudite son of the obnoxious Narapillai. In every sentence that describes him, the author has used his most lovely colours : pleasing, charming, enchanting. Brush strokes of simplicity, wisdom, selflessness, love of learning, kindness, and vision.

When Govindan Master gently rebukes his nephew Jiten on his monkey like mimicry of other human beings- by pointing out that certain past times weaken the human soul, I stopped breathing. Like Jiten, I too wondered on what the purpose of human life was : if a human being just lived to be born, eat, excrete, mate, procreate and die-like the lice in one’s hair, or the dog on the street or a leech on the cow. Of course, doing it all with more pettiness, more arrogance, more show, more evil, more vanity! Do we have the dream in us to leave a light for the world somewhere in our limited journeys?

Like Jiten, I too stared aghast at the shocking sentence written on the blackboard :  (my translation) “Man is the only living creature that dies before reaching his full growth.”

I wish more people would read this gorgeous book. This quintessential bildungsroman is available in both Malayalam and English.( A preface to man, published by Harper Collins, India). It will jolt you awake of your stupor. It will charm you with its raw energy. It will humble you with its beauty.

The author, in his post script, writes about the incident which led him to rewrite the scene of Narapillai’s drowned body being recovered. He had never witnessed the dredging of a corpse from beneath a deep lake ever. In a rural setting, he had no idea of what tools would be used for such a horrendous task. Even as the publication date approached for that chapter, he found himself on a serendipitous journey near a river to meet old pals. The bespectacled young man who pointed out his gang waiting for him by the side of the river, seemed unassuming. In a matter of minutes, the author and his friends found themselves being approached by a panicked friend of the path-shower. The young man had  gone in for a swim and had not emerged. He had drowned. They jumped into the water and searched relentlessly for his body. They were unsuccessful. And then they witnessed how a dead body caught in the clayey soil of the unforgiving river gets retrieved. A veteran diver and corpse retriever arrived- and using a pole used for rowing, he brought up the dead body. The toes were frozen-bleached white. Subhash Chandran writes that he was dazed in pain: to have met the young man just to get the  answer from the river- how do you describe the dredging of a corpse?

None of us are strangers to serendipity. Except those of us who are blind from within. If you refuse to acknowledge what you see, the scene passes on with a vacant smile. If you stand and stare, like Keats’ naughty boy, you have lots to wonder at. For a very long time. Whether you stand in your shoes or barefoot.

Inspite of all the petty Narapillais of the world who hold on to their prejudices and evils, who will mock you for being true to your own inner light, the need is to persist on your own path. Who knows, someone might feel their darkness removed by a small flicker from the lamp of your existence.

***

Transitions

image

At nineteen,

I chose my path and all it had,

Unknowing of others

With more spirit, kindness and equal strength

Who could make my journey

True and meaningful.

At eighteen,

She chooses to follow galaxies

Laughing about observations made

From my own life.

 

I spent a lifetime struggling-

To survive, to just be.

My hands were calloused with holding

Weapons forged in life’s hot fires;

Fighting every inch of the way.

She tells me that life is better spent

If the tides are chosen well,

To swim easily, not fighting for every breath.

 

At cross roads, I often stumbled

Mistaking smiles for love:

Not realising that the sharpest fangs

Are hidden in the sweetest intonations

Of welcoming companionship.

She tells me that at cross roads,

All which matters is an unfailing compass

That marks out the pole star

Of your own destiny.

 

At  unforgiving transitions then,

May you fare better than I did, my child.

And may my failures be

Your inspirations

For always choosing better:

Cross checking with your inner eye-

That unfailing star, unerring compass,

That Kindly light,

Showing you the Way.

***

The Secret Brew

 

image

As she flies, smiling, I whisper the contents of the brew into her ears:

Excellence

A mighty brew:

( Cognate of Character)

Remember this now-

Moment by moment,

Day by day

Month by month

Year by year

Never letting go of your dreams

Standing tall when laughter arises from all sides,

Heedless of all  mockery but your goals

Gritting your teeth

Keep moving onwards.

Aspirations,

Sweat of your brow

Time well used

Talents polished golden

Humility, contentment

Strength

Dreams

Passion and truth

Mix in love and friendship,

(Untouched by self centred pollutants)

Breathe deep

Courage and then,

Fly.

(Remember this too

When the wings are tired:

HE walks with you,

The ONE who put the dream in you-

Never doubt,

Fly.)

***

 

What certain women would like to speak

.courage

  1. If you think you can crush me, oh please-

You are sadly mistaken.

Sorry to disappoint you,

But I was born with a stubborn gene –

Which gathers strength with each attempt

Of humiliation, defamation, degradation.

And I was born with a funny bone too

That laughs with derision at every manly effort

To make a joke of my life.

Do check with those who love me,

You might be surprised

How much we laugh together,

As we dare to grow more lushly

Every beautiful day.

2.

It hurts , does it not

To see joy where you imagined sorrow?

Words, where you imagined terror?

Life, where you imagined death?

You have been encroaching into my sanctuary

Even after the boundaries closed shut long before,

Trying to spread the deep malaise of your nature

To infect the roots  of my happy  tree

Poisoning everything green around

With your fumes of hatred, lies and malice.

You have gone raving mad in the attempt,

I am merely bemused at your antics.

My roots go deep down the earth of my own truth

Which , is deeper than the whole falsehood of your beliefs.

Because, my truth is this:

Every human being deserves to be free- from what ails it

And be happy.

Try that bitter medicine for your chronic illness.

****

 

Keep Shining…

 

I watch you as you stand smiling in the  blazing sun. You are volunteering at a medical camp organised by your favorite Missionary Sisters. You tell me that you will share mangoes and onion slices with the team! I think of you in a few months at a beautiful University campus, studying Physics with the same sweet happiness on your face. How proud I am of my little girl, who once insisted on hearing the story of a lazy green worm-who never brushed her teeth, to pick up her own baby tooth brush!

May you always remember that in aspiring for greatness, you are answering the truest calling within you

May you always remain aware of the word humility, that it means walking the sacred earth,  even as your flight lets you touch the blue skies and beyond

May you know that to master one subject does not mean that you give up on other branches of  learning

May you realize that certain gifts were bestowed to be used for a greater good; beyond one’s own small circle of existence.

Your mother prays:

That you can enjoy Voltaire and Plato even as you analyse cosmology

That you should reflect and speak aloud about the silenced ones, even if the popularity charts world wide have forgotten that they exist

That you realize the nun who smiles while giving medicine to the poor on a blazing hot day in a dusty little Indian village, is as great a teacher, as the revered Professor who teaches in a University.

That you will never let another have such power over you that he or she takes control of your dreams and destiny

That you will always know that your ultimate loyalty is to be true to your own self. And you owe no explanation to anyone else.

And that, my dear, is the toughest lesson of them all- I hope you master that well,  every day of your beautiful life.

***