Talking With Him/ Her

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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.

***

 

 

 

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A Step At A Time…

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The last few chapters arrive for correction. The artist has done a spectacular job. As I edit, snipping a word here, adding a comma there, I stare at the divine pictures.

The journey has come to an end: Sundar Kanda- 156 pages, 50 chapters.  And quietly a book is born.  The end is  actually a beginning. As always in life.

But I cannot leave Hanumanji alone. The journey with Him has changed my life. How can I let go now- when the joy of describing everything about Him has got me addicted? It is like inhaling camphor in the temple. So I promise myself that the next book on Him is going to be Kishkindha Kand. The thought energises me. Another journey to look forward to. Great!

What have I learnt in the presently concluded one? That I am never alone. That the shield of divine protection encompasses me and my loved ones at all times. That one can achieve seemingly impossible tasks with His blessings. That detachment  is not just a philosophy but a very strongly protected forcefield. If the focus is on Him, everything meaningless falls on the wayside- what remains is what is meant to remain. Fair enough for this life journey.

***

 

ChumaduTangi: Burden Bearer ( Poem Translation from Malayalam)

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Chumadutangi by Lakshmi Devi

( Translation from Malayalam)

The Burden Bearer:

Here, in front of the inn

Meant for wayfarers-

On this  Burden Bearer Stone,

Let me heave the bundle carried

By my weakening body till

Now.

The shoulder bone has

The greatest capacity to bear

Burden, it seems;

And Destiny again shoves

Unbearable weight onto

That today.

For a moment, I ponder

What it is that I carry, stumbling

Struggling onward,

Wrapped within the bundle.

Old sins, virtues

Or both equally divided?

Unknown it remains,

The Fate has filled up my bundle

For me to bear unquestiongly.

There is a bright lamp within,

The fragrance of camphor

As my dreams get enflamed,

The pains unabated, stirred deep

Leaving an oily drop beneath

The forbidden is inside, and the

Whiplashes for those mistakes

Committed unwittingly

The drops of tears which flowed

The red of a fresh wound

A Sun of a baby smile

The chirp of a bird, the breeze

In a shade so green…

I can no longer keep

My load on the stone

It is getting late.

Closing the inn’s door

The watchman too has

Hastened away.

The lonely road that stretches

Long, calls me quietly-

Walk on, until

You fall, losing

Your footing.

Darkness all around me-

Yet  I can listen  to those

Who are ahead of me:

‘ Move without fear!

Beyond the sooty darkness

Of this tunnel,

There might yet be light.’

***

In the olden days, Kings used to construct inns for wayfarers and also stones for bearing burdens. Without anyone’s help, the  heavy load on the villager’s shoulder could be heaved onto the heft of these stones.

Today, I watched again a classic  Malayalam movie called, Amritangamaya.

It is a line from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad…From death to eternal life ( Mrityoma Amritamgamaya).

In the movie,  one character was reiterating that the human shoulder bone is the strongest- designed to carry the Holy Cross of one’s life burden.

Flipping casually through an old vernacular magazine, I ended up opening the poem page where the sentence was repeated for me.

And then, I picked up a crayon, and a pen. These help in shouldering responsibilities with grace. Truly Burden bearers.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koladu by Madhavi Kutty (Story Translation from Malayalam)

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Koladu ( The Goat):

By Madhavi Kutty aka Kamala Das written in 1969.

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When she was forty three years old, her mischievous elder son remarked : ‘Amma, you remind me of a goat.’

She joined his laughter.But on that day, when the rest of them went out, she took up a mirror and sadly examined her own face. She contemplated on the ways of  fortifying her skinny cheeks to make them fuller; thinking that it might end up fortifying her life too. When she had her youthfulness and her lush body, she had never slept alone on a mat laid out on the floor….But she was disinclined to stare at the mirror for long, pondering on such matters. The milk was beginning to boil in her kitchen.

By toiling endlessly from dawn to dusk, she took care of her family. Her body was pale and slim, and  seemed fragile in certain places. But she never complained and never collapsed  with fatigue. Because of that, as she staggered from the bathroom to the kitchen and back -carrying buckets of water-neither her husband nor her grown up sons ever bothered to give a helping hand.

She was neither educated nor sophisticated.Occasionally, they would  loudly praise her famed abilities in cleaning and mopping the house, in cooking their food and in washing and ironing their clothes. Whenever she heard their adulation, she would smile- exposing her deteriorating teeth.

Once her younger son got her a goose berry when he returned from school. That day, standing in her dark kitchen, she shed tears of joy. With the passage of time, she became a disgrace in his eyes too.

When she said that she would accompany him for the school drama, he said: ‘No need, Amma. I will be embarrassed.’

‘But why? I will wear my silk sari- my wedding sari…’

‘No…No need for you to come.’

Two thin legs moved around in that small house constantly; never resting. Finally that machine also became faulty. She caught a fever and  her stomach started aching. Neither ginger nor rasam could assuage that pain. On the tenth day the doctor told her husband: ‘Please shift her to the hospital immediately. She has acute jaundice.’

The children who were reading their school books were horrified. When a helper hoisted her onto a gurney in the hospital, she opened her eyes wide and cried: ‘Ayyo! I think the pulses are burning on the stove.’

Her husband’s eyes filled with tears.

****

Listen to this story in the original.

http://www.mathrubhumi.com/books/podcast/audio-story-koladu-malayalam-news-1.1472986

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panchagni: The Five Fires(Scenes 4-7)

Panchagni screenplay continued:

Scene 4:

Day

The Jail Superintendent’s room

The room is in the first floor of the office block in the Jail Complex.

The Superintendent is past fifty years of age. When he raises his head, after signing some papers,  the Matron, a forty five year old woman, salutes him.

Matron: Indira refuses to have food. It is the fourth day today.

Assistant Jailor and the Jail Doctor at the door.

Asst.Jailor salutes.

The Doctor pays respect in the normal way.

The Supdt is pondering deeply.

Asst.Jailor: Sir, we can charge under Section 45…

The Supdt motions with his head, negating the suggestion.

Doctor: She is very weak

Matron: If we manage to hold her for you, can you not give her glucose or some stuff?

Supdt: No, we can’t do it.

Asst.Jailor: Is her mother’s condition truly serious,  Sir? Has the verification report arrived?

The Supdt nods.

‘I have referred the matter to the IG. Let the decision be from there.’

An orderly arrives,( dressed in the Jail inmate’s dress), with tea for them on a tray

While serving, he comments sycophantically: ‘Too much freedom in the Jail nowadays! This is the result of that!  It was totally wrong to banish whipping.’

The phone rings. The Supdt picks it up,  says, ‘Yes’ , and then his face expression changes to obsequiousness.

‘Superintendent here, Sir! Yes, yes..but Sir! Yes, yes..the Doctor is observing her Sir! Ok Sir!’

He keeps the phone down.

‘The IG has referred the matter to the minister. But  it seems that some journalist has reported about the fasting incident in the Jail ! Hell!’

Scene 5

Jail. Indira’s Cell

The mercury rises in the BP apparatus.

The Doctor examines her as she lies on a bed.

The Matron and a nurse along side.

Scene 5A

Office of the IG Prisons

The IG throws a file to the police official standing in front of him.

‘Refer the matter to the Parole Board.’

Scene 6

Day

The courtyard of the Jail

Women inmates working.

A female inmate: If you get out on parole, do you have to report to the police station daily?

An ‘Expert’:

Hey, no! When I went, it was a good guy- as Inspector! He asked me to come just once a week.

The woman who had spoken on attacking her husband:

When I went on parole, I was  only apprehensive on whether I would end up before that son of a bitch!  I might have grabbed the cleaver again, forgetting  that the punishment could  get doubled  !

The Expert: No doubling ! All that is nonsense. It is not  there in the law.

A long whistle. The women stop work and return to their Cells.

Scene 7

The office of the Jail Supdt

The Supdt takes a typed sheet of  Official paper and pushes it forward

Indira stands in front of him, dressed in the convict’s uniform.

She is totally exhausted.

She signs on the paper.

Supdt: Fourteen days. Please read it.

She looks at him.

The Supdt checks the accounts and the voucher placed in front of him by a clerk.

‘You have some money as savings. You can take that. Also get your dress.’

He rings the bell.

He looks at Indira- she stands silent, emotionless. He thinks for a moment and then with great soberness:

‘ If you start acting as if the revolution has reached the next street…! Hmm..The Government can cancel the parole any time. Up to you’

It is a warning, also an advice.

*

Inspirations…

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When I was twelve, my mother gave me a small book- it was so small as to be kept within one’s palm. It contained the inspirational quotes of Swami Vivekananda.

For me, it was wondrous: this handsome sage telling that it was better to build a pair of strong shoes as a humble mochi, than to spout nonsense as a professor who has long stopped learning!  He said that the best way to forget one’s own sorrows was to reach out to remove those of another. He reiterated that infinite energy flowed through one, as one tried to make a difference by service- it was a universal law of the spirit.

I spent many happy hours debating on his quotations with my best friend, my namesake. In fact during a school tour, our Physics teacher was perplexed to see us analysing ‘why playing football was better to build nerves of steel than by rot learning of religious studies.’An age of innocence- that is all I can reflect about it right now.

Why am I referring to that book again?If anyone were to ask me to name a book that has transformed my life- that little dog eared copy of Vivekananda’s quotes, published by Ramakrishna Ashram, would be it! So many times, when I had felt like giving up, lying down and just let endless sleep wash over all the travails, it has been his vibrant quotations that gave me new energy and focus.

Why do we need inspiring people? Why do we need to read motivational quotations? Because, not every day is sunny and shining with possibilities. More often than not, it is a dreary, dark wintry day of hopelessness. The dark news from around the world make you wish to stop reading totally. Yet, life is meaningless without action.

And then he says from beyond: Wake up, and stop not until the goal is reached. You set a new target and you toil on- knowing that the efforts will not be in vain. The universal law springs into action and you find yourself carried by a buoyant spirit, and sunshine trickles right back in!

May every parent put a book of motivational quotations into her child’s hands. Three decades down the lane, the memory of one would make some tired traveller take another step down the road of life-with grit and determination.

*