Unexpectedly…

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‘ People do not have enough time to read or watch anything long. So , can you write something interesting, which is er, let us put it this way, amenable to quick enjoyment?Especially now that all are writing love stories, can you try one?’ My friend sipped her coffee.

‘ Can I write a murder mystery instead: very short?’ I wheedled. Wry cynicism is more my nature than  a naive trust in happily-ever-after. Give me  short films like ‘Chutney’ any day with Saki’s stories as accompaniment!

‘ Later…we will try that later. You have half an hour,’ she said.

She is like a sister to me; and sisters have the right to demand anything.

*

Love In a Train

**

Sound of rain…and a train whistling…The story unfolds in a train compartment

Young man: Damn! The train has stopped again! Someone must have pulled a chain..The phone has no range in these parts…where are we, in the middle of jungles? Who lives in such places?

Old Man: ( Coughs) I guess, people like you and me.
Young man: I did not mean to be rude.But see, there is no internet or mobile range.
Old man: Girl friend? Urgent call?
Young man:( laughs) Oh, no! No time for all that…Besides, I am yet to find someone that special.Just my mother…wanted to tell her that the train is running late.
Old man: Since we are alone in this compartment, may be you will like to listen to a story?
Young man: Oh, yes…there is nothing else to do, anyway! I mean…please tell me…
Old man: It is a love story…
Young man: ( curious) Really?

Old man… It began in a train compartment like this …some fifty years ago
**
Young man( Old man’s younger version) voice: Oh, blast this rain…and this train is moving through jungles! Who lives in such places, I wonder…Ah, not again…another station?

Sound of a luggage being dragged
Young man( whisper) My lucky day! What a beautiful young woman! That must be her mother…or aunt?
Middle aged lady: Beta, can you help with the luggage? We are drenched…

Young man: Oh sure…here we go..Where are you going?

Middle aged lady: Oh this girl works too hard and has fallen sick! I am taking her home for a vacation…
Young woman: ( laughs) You exaggerate greatly auntie..

Young man: You work here…in the jungles? It must be terrible…What are you doing…I mean ..Are you teaching? You should try for a job in the city..There must be options…
Young woman: These are tribal areas…and people are much nicer than in the cities…I am a doctor.
Middle aged woman: She is a good medallist. Did her higher studies in England but insisted that she would work for poor tribals….Works with a missionary hospital here…
Young man : ( Utterly flabbergasted) Really! My God! I feel so stupid…I am sorry…I mean…
Young woman: It is alright….I hear that a lot. It is my choice and I am fine…What do you do?
Young man: I have my own business…

*
Cut to modern train scene…train chugs..whistles..

Old man: I told her that I was running my family business in the big city. I had just opened a new factory in a nearby town…I was trying to impress her…You see, I had fallen in love.

Young man: Whistles! ( It strikes him for the first time that old men were once young too!)

Old man: We got married eventually.My wife started her own hospital in the tribal region.Later we started a school too…
Young man: Wonderful! Where is ma’am now?
Old man: Sighs…Love is such a gift…but sometimes it is snatched away fast…The memories remain.She passed away five years before…
Young man: I am so sorry
Old man: Don’t be…We had a beautiful life together.Today, our only grand daughter took over as the new head of the hospital…she has just returned from England with a gold medal…like her grand ma…I went to bless her.She wanted someone to accompany me back.I refused.There is strength in my old bones still.Besides, I wanted to travel in a train back…for memories’ sake…

Young man: I am speechless.
Old man: My phone is buzzing….the range must have come back…Hello…hello dear…I am fine…I have a travel mate…a young man in the compartment…we are having a good time chatting….Yes, I shall take my medicines…don’t worry…What…ok, will give the phone to him…One second..
Young man: Hello, yes…Ensure he takes medicines before he sleeps? Oh sure, I will remind him..May I know, your good name? Ah..lovely name…sorry, I mean…yes, sure…Shall look after him…

Old man: ( Laughs) She is as stubborn as her grand ma…By the way, what do you do beta?
Young man ( respectfully ) I have my own tea plantations, sir.
Old man: Ah…a businessman…I like that…
**
End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to The Way

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I was listening to the great Wayne Dyer recently. He was espousing the beauty of Tao Te Ching by Laozi. ‘The Way’, as he explained, seemed so beautiful.

Then it struck me. Who better epitomises all that than my own beloved Hanumanji?

Bhoot Pisach Nikat Nahi Aave

Mahaveer Jab Naam Sunaave

1. To live with integrity, joy, peace and balance…I can think of none but Hanumanji.

2. Learn to die when you live… Live without fear of death…I think of Hanuman offering himself as food to Sursa, telling her that he would accomplish SriRamji’s task first!

3. Have your own sacred space…Trust in your own nature… If you knew who walked by your side, you will never know fear!

Haanumanji always carried his Lord in his heart and offered every action as an offering at Sriramji’s feet.

4. Be radically humble…

I think of Hanumanji telling SreeRamji….I am just a monkey….jumping from one branch to another itself is an achievement! Whatever I do, Lord, is because you make me do it! How can I take credit for my actions?

5. Non resistance and detachment….flow like the water and accept uncertainty

Tough but so true! Hanumanji’s journey to Lanka is a perfect example of that. He met enemies and friends in that journey. He stayed calm and cool. He was so accepting of every situation and never lost his sense of humour! When Ravan ordered his tail to be set on fire, Hanumanji grinned to himself that the Goddess Sarada has helped in the nick of time: by  making him order such a strange punishment!

6.Be soft and pliable and do not be hard  and brittle….Flexibility in approach

Ah, who better to teach that than Hanumanji? He changes from humble follower to ferocious warrior to loving colleague to respectful family member….so calmly. He is unforgiving to the wicked ( the killing of the water demoness) and playful with the good hearted ( the tricking of Sursa), fair to the kind ( respecting Vibheeshan) and ruthless with the foes ( killing of the rakshasas)… He counsels Ravan and is so humble in his approach…

7. Living by not interefering…. Never trying to control anything….

Hanumanji could have easily taken Sitaji back with him from Asokavan.. But he never tries to control the situation. He is aware of the bigger design of the Master Planner at all times.

8.  Be generous, be strong by bending, living Oneness…

Jai Hanuman gyangunasaagar….

**

Probably it is human nature to relate whatever one reads or hears to what one knows in one’s own sphere.

The lesson of detachment, the ability to feel comfortable in a situation over which you have no control, to be flexible…all these are so tough in real life. But how truthful they are!

I now know that every one we meet comes to teach us some lessons…If we do not learn, then we shall endure the same experience in a different form…names and forms and situations might change but the lesson remains the same!

How blessed to listen to wise words and wise counsel. How important to trust ourselves…and the God above. How important to know that when HE walks by your side, nothing can make you afraid.

Jai Hanumanji!

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

***

 

 

 

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.

****

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