Living Mindfully

I read in the newspapers that an anguished, depressed  Malaysian teenager committed suicide because the majority of her Instagram followers polled ‘Death’ than ‘Life’. She dumbly followed what the unseen crowd had ‘chosen’ for her. She let them decide her next course of action. End.

The greatest power- the power to choose what one thinks, or acts- handed over like a free gift to mindless others?

I took a walk in the past to recollect what the world told me to do  and how noxious it all was…!

  1. ‘You look like death roasted twice in hell-fire. Why don’t you go and hide yourself?’

The easiest way to get to a girl,( or boy), is to poke fun at the way they look. It was a generous helping of  ‘Give her unto this day the daily bread of bitterness.’ The chorus was faithfully echoed by all those who sought control over me.

Decades later, I laugh when I remember the trauma.  Invariably, all who poked fun at me, were not my well-wishers. All who loved me, ever, have always made me a better version of myself-physical, spiritual or mental. The difference between then and now is that I have learnt to ignore the opinions of the naysayers and value the comments of my true friends.

And so, in my four and half decades of living, I enjoy wearing a good dress, putting on danglers, and putting flowers on my hair if I feel like it. Do I look old/foolish/blah-blah…I don’t give a damn anymore.

Baby, look into the eyes of those who care for me and love me! They sparkle like diamonds. I can live in that light for eternity.

2. ‘Your accent is horrible and you speak like a train chugging non stop. Shut up!’

I speak my mother tongue without any accent. The rest of the two languages may be notched up with an accent. So what?Having been shut up for too long, when my words took flight, literally and figuratively, they soared like frantic souls escaping dungeons.

And to my utter delight, I found that there were listeners. They bothered about what I spoke and how I spoke and not about the way I spoke! If it came from my heart, they applauded me. That gave me the confidence to venture out more.

My accent is still flavored by the mysterious sea winds of my home land. I continue to speak non stop and irritate the heck out of my loved ones. They shrug and listen. Sometimes, they grin. Or politely tell me to shut up. Sure.

The difference is that I know whom to ignore and whom to listen to. When to shut up and when to shout.

3. ‘You overestimate your own abilities. You over reach, don’t you?’

Ahhhh! Do I now? I remember withering on listening to such comments once upon a time.

What I do is my business, monsieur. You can take it with a martini. Success or failure, I shall not come running to you for your shoulder to cry on. Okay?

One has to stand up for oneself, and fight for what is due! The world is a tricky customer. It will change from mockery to adulation in a jiffy if you succeed. Better not to expect a helping hand or support from the outside. Inertia and indifference are chronic diseases infecting the systems -running the wheels of worldly life.

Help your own self and then watch as the world arrives to help you. Remember Shakespeare in love. Queen Elizabeth’s take on Romeo and Juliet?

**

I started the article to make some sense of that mindless self destruction. Sixteen years of age! And she asked the world if she should kill herself or live!

At twenty six, thirty six, forty six, fifty six, sixty six, seventy six, eighty six, or ninety six, if you pose the same question, the thumbs-down voyeurs of the gladiatorial rings  (of the world wide Colosseum) will  still vote that you go to hell.

Time to watch the sky a bit. The nature and the birds. No one votes to kill you there.

***

 

Wolf Song

wolf

Woman, Wolf

Whatever name you go by

In the world of ours,

Watch and abide,

Listen and stay sharp.

For when the foe stirs

Aim for the jugular first.

 

Carry the howl within,

The thirst and the anger.

Ignore the brambles

The bleeding scars awhile.

It is time to fight

And so arm yourself nail and tooth.

 

Bare your fangs

That sparkle in  the moonlight

Let no enemy sleep tight

When the wolf stalks its prey.

And when they gaze at you

With revulsion and fear

Flip your luxurious mane

And walk gracefully away.

 

The wise ones know

That the  she-wolf within you

Is loath to forgive

Is wary of sweetness

Is proud and brave

And excels in survival.

But even they are unaware

That the flame within

Is a raging fire.

Touch once, it singes,

Mess with it twice, it will burn

Trouble it thrice, hell breaks loose

Wolf and inferno shall remain.

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?”

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

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…Barking Dogs, Coiling Serpents

Picture 259

The first time I heard the phrase,  ” a serpent in the bosom”, my imagination hissed and spit savagely at me. A curling , black, nagini, coiled around the heart reared its flashing fangs at my petrified self. Slowly I shook my head to clear away the image, of what stood for ” someone hitherto trusted turning into an enemy “.

Perhaps many of us can relate to such snakes and traps..unwittingly we often offer our affections and trust, where they are not due, where they are often misused, and stored away for an opportune moment to strike us back.

” Biting the hand that feeds one, ”  ” Taking the snake coiled around the fence and putting on one’s shoulder,” et al are sage advices from the vernacular tongue, warning against being too naive in offering trust, love and friendship.

The randomly quoted incidents are very true and anything similar to any character/persona is very intentional.

– She was my friend. The school had many pillars and  all of us loved playing hide and seek. Half an hour into the game, from behind the pillar, I hear a voice sniping viciously, ” Gawwwddd, I cannot tolerate her at all! Such a sample!” The voice was very familiar and all the attributes she was mentioning  were more familiar…I took a peep, and there she was in all her glory..” killing me softly with her words.” I came from behind the pillar and she blanched…very white.

” Were you speaking about me?” I asked, not smiling.

She kept quiet, obviously caught off guard.

I took a good look at serpent sample one.

” Watch from behind the pillars- for the truth has many faces,” I told my ten year old self.

– The Professor, I thought, was a fair man. I ran to him with my doubts in Mathematics, and he was always ready to help. There was no reason to suspect that he had anything but affection for me.

I was late for his class, and reached just to hear him laugh about me to an acquaintance:

” She got poor marks, eh?  She is all speech and no matter!”

He turned and saw me standing all white faced. He regained his composure and asked me to take my seat.

” All apparent well wishers need not be wishing you well…beware.” 

**

Harpies are mythological characters who literally drop their waste on nourishing food. I have encountered many harpies who drop their shit on ideas, loving suggestions, energetic attempts at something new.They can come in many guises- of near and dear ones, young and old, looking absolutely normal as your own self.But try to create something in their presence and hell breaks out…fumes and smoke spreading all over.

The Harpies denounce you, your motivations, your ideas, your happiness because they think you do not deserve all that joy and happiness. Or maybe because they are jealous. Or they do not think it right. Or another hundred twisted reasons, filtered through their own prejudices, influenced by their nature and nurture. But one common characteristic of Harpy influence? They drain you of love, life, health and laughter. They will prevent you actively and subtly from being creative, whole, healthy and happy. They will do their best to torpedo your loving relationships. They hate you. End of class.

Tired often of people who turned untrustworthy, jealous, and petty without obvious reasons, I queried once to a learned person:

” Why do some people read so much into innocent words and deeds and take umbrage? Why do people imagine humiliation when none was intended?”

” People who suffer from jaundiced vision can only see a yellow world,” he laughed.

” So does that mean, we stop trusting? We stop creating?” I asked, fuming.

” It means you should learn to look at the picture of  Goddess Durga closely,” said he, smiling beatifically at me.

” Huh?!”

” Why does the Goddess have so many weapons on her tender body? Armed to the teeth, so to say? She is also Saraswathy in her alter ego- the queen of Shastras- logic, reason, wisdom..?”

I blinked.

” When shaastra aka logic  fails, shastra aka weapons may come to use,” he laughed.

” I should fight, you mean?”

” For what you believe to be right. For what you believe to be your right. Learn to stand up for yourself. Stop taking nonsense- from any one,” he concluded with a laugh and offered me sweets.

*****

Nowadays, when I encounter harpies, I adopt the following self-caring techniques.

  1. I step from behind the pillar.
  2. I stop wishing them well. I do not wish them bad, nevertheless. I turn detached and indifferent.
  3. If they try to slither their way back into my life energy, I cut them down with a symbolic cleaver called ” Get Lost “.

As that saying goes, “Above all, to thine own self be true- thou cannot then be false to any man,” or woman!!

P.S. Who said some good  snarling ain’t fun at times?