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My Thoughts My Words

What prompts me to write this blog…

As we walk on this path called “Life”, each one of us has our own set of experiences. Though we might all be a collection of the same five elements, spiritually we are all so different. Even two people, passing through similar experiences , might take home diametrically opposite learning. That is what makes life and it’s journey so rich and varied. That is probably what gives each of us our own unique flavour, colour and fragrance….. just like the flowers in nature.. Can you imagine how monotonous it would be, meandering through this path called LIFE , seeing the same scenery around us!!! However high a belief we might carry of ourselves, do you believe one would be able to travel with people similar to us, throughout our stay in this world!!!!

Each one of us has been endowed with different perceptions and those, when exchanged, gives a different understanding on the same topic….does that make sense!!!
This is what really helps us grow in life. If I am going to “SEE” the events in my life through my same old yellow lenses, my reactions and responses will always be similar. If I have had a difficult time with relationships, and I continue with the same perceptions, how can I ever expect a different outcome!!!

Through this blog, I just want to help, maybe clean our lens or change them to see better and clearer. Having a deep awakening or realisation that “I” myself can change “My” life, is empowering…..that would be the endeavour here. Sharing with you my experiences and my leanings, and hoping that these would help you look at your life differently and therefore help you become happier., is my desire….

Shalini K Munjal

The Flowing River..

I sit there beside her on the pebbles so smooth, mesmerised by her movement as she flows. The slight slope in her bed, I can but barely tell till her path is obstructed by the mischievous rocks as they try to delay/pause her race down. The frothing and the gurgling, the turns and twists, her slipping and covering those very boulders leave behind so many riddles for me. Foolish of the obstructions to think they might succeed in containing her rhythm as she rapidly squeezes through them only to flow even faster till she is calm again. No, she doesn’t squander time to gloat over her victory for that is not how she perceives it. No time to waste, on she must go.

As she goes ahead I see her tranquil once again. The mighty sun’s beams dance gleefully upon her, breaking into a million twinkling stars. Her might I perceive as she is even able to break the golden rays into a shimmering wrap for herself. If I could see her face I am sure I would be able to spot the glint in those flirtatious eyes, a dimple in that infectious smile as if she herself was ……. ‘the seventh heaven, personified’.

Her sound is loud, but relaxing. She adds life to the valley through which she passes. The majestic mountains which give way to her meanderings, stand tall as if but to guard her passage. The trees the birds, the flora the fauna, as if all there just to add beauty to her journey.

What does she say as she charges down her path, unfazed by the trails around…..

As I sit there watching her, my mind becomes busy unravelling her mysterious message to me. Is she telling me that life will not be the same always? That there will be boulders and there will be pits. There will be times when I will feel curtailed and smothered. There will be the harsh sun to burn me. “But look at me’, she says. “It’s only when the sun shines hard and bright that I am able to adorn myself in a glittering stole!” She smiles at me,”It’s these boulders and rocks in my path which make my dance so graceful, my song so serene, my fall to majestic. If it weren’t for them you would surely have missed my beautiful gait.” Then she says something which seemed to taunt me. “Stagnant waters, however clean, will eventually begin to stink. To flow is to be alive.”

As I throw my head back and lookup at the sky, I mull over what she just whispered/quipped. I think of my odyssey. Of all the rubs that left me shining. Of the heat that moulded me. Of the chisel that chanced upon me as I lay hidden in a rough stone.

As she flows on, her gentle spray covers my face as if to bless me and say, “if it weren’t for these, ‘you’ might never have been ‘found’!”

Watch my dance, watch me glow….watch me leave the glitter off my feet, on the snow…….

In the box…

There he lay, eyes closed, hands atop his stomach, fingers gently linked, at peace. Marks of the needles that had persisted with his thin aging skin, as if left behind signatures on his arms. And those bruises that had probably replaced the red clots of  blood, some partially healed and some others, just water marks. How many futile and failed attempts would have been made to get that life prolonging liquid to course through his veins. With his eyes robbed of light, and therefore many an expression, I wonder if he even wanted it.

The new shirt he wore with a pair of white trousers raised my hopes that he might just get up and be ready for an adventure.

Those hands. Those eyes. The hollow cheeks. The silent lips. The tired feet with bent toes. They that had once traversed the world at large, traveling this long distance, to finally reach their resting state. How many summers, how many winters…As many springs, as many autumns.

Those lips that looked faded and dry today, sucked of their essence , reminded me of a crooked black and white photograph hanging on the old dusty walls of an ancient home. Weren’t they the ones that would burst into a smile when the boy was naughty, when the wife dressed up, when the daughter tried her hand at cooking for the first time? Weren’t they whose laughter livened the house? The one that was mischievous and infectious. The one to put a shroud on many a secret, to be the link between many a relationship! The one who’s eyes communicated deeper than words. Those ones which first lost the sight, and then finally, life…

Wonder when that tiny being who’s arrival bought so much joy to everyone around left that body and enter this frail one! When did that youth with a confident gait give way to the wobbly step? That full laughter, to a gummy smile. The steady hands to an unsure tremble. When did that handsome face get traded for furrowed cheeks?

The feeble shoulders that now rested on the white sheet, would once have been strong enough to bear the burden of the family. Strong enough for a teary eyed wife to rest her head. Muscular enough to carry his children. Ever present for a friend to lean on, a parent to rely upon.

And that fearless freedom fighter, when did he ‘trade his chiseled body’ for this worn out ‘cape’? Or the mathematician with ‘the beautiful mind’. When did he give away his to an Alzheimer’s brain? And the other, a guide and consultant to the thinkers of the world. How did he give way to only thoughts, and no understanding? Why? Where did those bodies go? When and where did these come from?

All the Men in the box…..are they the same? Do you have the time to know of their game…

…….Before they trade their space for ….the box…

And their body, for the ‘one in the box’….

As She Peeked Into His Room …..

Though she knew he was hard of hearing, she opened his room door with utmost care. There he sat on the edge of his bed with his head bent over resting on the palm of his hand. His gaze fixed on nothing really, maybe the window to his mind, she felt. He reminded her of Socrates in his famous pose. She wondered whether to even enter for fear of startling him, but even from that distance she could spot a certain sadness, or was it emptiness. Tiredness, no maybe a deep hollowness, an abyss, she searched. As she stood there still deciding what to do she was overtaken by a sudden urge to hug him. Moving slowly towards the bed, she sat behind him, resting her head on his back, wrapping her arms around him. He didn’t move, did not resist, just allowed her to take over his being. Tears welled up in her eyes and slowly rolled down her nose on to his shirt. He did not react. She said nothing. Nor did he. She slowly rocked him from side to side in her embrace and he let her. She was sure he understood her emotions, knew her feelings but didn’t shift that gaze or utter a word. Her heart ached, she felt overwhelmed but no words escaped her lips. She didn’t know where to start, what to say, how to break the wall she perceived.

Why was there this distance, or was it just her perception? What was going on behind those vacant eyes and sealed lips? Those hands which didn’t even acknowledge her grip. Did he realise she was weeping, could he understand those warm tears as they rolled onto his back wetting his shirt? Were words really needed here, for they would have sounded empty compared to her emotions. Were their hearts in communion, and if so, would they really appreciate the interference as this melody was not in want of any lyrics. Everything falls short in the presence of such an unexplainable connection, she felt.

She kissed his back as her love dropped from her eyes along with the remorse of not having shared it with him all these years. Why had she felt so choked, so clogged with her thoughts that she could not share them with the one who loved her the most in this world? Why had she hesitated? Why did she wait so long ? Not a sound escaped her mouth. She still held back.

Why does it take so much courage to share your feelings with the one they are for? Why do we hesitate ? Why is one fearful of feeling vulnerable? Why do words come all the way up to the tongue and then suddenly dissolve? Are they that melt and gag as one struggles with a somber expression? Are they that weigh heavy in the chest, the burden toughest for even the mightiest?

“I love you pa, you have been a good father.” Words just tumbled out of her throat as if the dam she had built finally cracked and gave way.

He didn’t move. Didn’t hold her hand. Didn’t shift his gaze. She hugged her ninety three year old father a little more…. much lighter in her chest.

“ I have found my daughter again”….he said….and still sat there.

Mirror mirror on the wall..

Mirror mirror on the wall , can I also be happy like them all !!

Can I not be ,as pretty as her, as eloquent as him… successful as her, remarkable as him…

Can I not have their gait of confidence, ….

why am I lacking in these..why..why…why..

Smiled the Mirror back at me ,” Why don’t you see, you have it all, ….they CRAVE to BE like you….who has it all and …doesn’t see….

Mirror mirror on the wall…

My Choice…Wounded Or Wise!!!… Inspired by Sadguru

On a lazy Sunday afternoon I was browsing through YOU TUBE. Mindlessly watching one video after another, digging my teeth into freshly boiled corn. A good de-stress activity for sure. I came upon a short clip by Sadguru. I have always found value in his explanations. This one was specially intriguing.

Here he spoke of HURT, and the options one has at that time. Beautifully explained. He said, “When one is hurt, there are two options. You become wounded or you become wise. This is the choice. The more things hurt you earlier on in your life the wiser you should have become, isn’t is? But unfortunately most people become wounded. This is simply because they just need an excuse to turn their own intelligence against themselves”. And then what he said , caught my attention. “Especially when the whole world around you has turned against you, is it not very very important that your intelligence stands up for you?”….

Wow, I thought that was so very profound. So powerful!!

To think of it, when there are a bunch of people speaking against you, saying things to demotivate, what is the first thought that enters the mind? Hurt? Or, ‘anger? ‘Hatred’? Or is it ‘self doubt’??? One is definitely ‘wounded’. It is natural, isn’t it??

The mind, on which at most times control is difficult, takes the reins once again, as if duty bound, to take us on a roller coaster ride. The highest and the scariest one in the world, and land in the depths of grief. Where feelings of hurt, offence, outrage, anxiety, amongst many more, live ‘happily’ together (if they can ,sic!). I sometimes feel, it doesn’t like peace and calm, as it might have a fear or , insecurity of losing control. Going out of business. Having to become quite. That’s not its nature though. It is a monkey after all; it enjoys acrobatics…..!!

For a moment, let’s try ‘changing the emotion of hurt‘. Replace it. Replace it with ‘wisdom’. Replace it with ‘calmness’. Replace it with ‘introspection’. Maybe even ‘confidence’!? Confidence in the self. Also look at it the way you would, were you comforting another in a similar situation….A view from the ‘outside’, instead of one from the ‘inside’.

As I change my perspective, what do I see? A person who needs ‘compassion’! Maybe even ‘love’? And a ‘patient ear’! Yes!!! I think so! And, definitely not to be ‘judged’, at this point ……and absolutely not by himself…

As Sadguru said, it really depends on us as to what we choose in such a situation. Hurt, a feeling of being wounded? Or,….looking at it with wisdom? With weakness and defeat, or experience and empowerment? One, enriches you with ‘wisdom and knowledge’, and the other, clutters with ‘hatred, self pity and blame.

As I look back at my life I can clearly ‘see’ the times where my choice was the first one…..and when it was the second. Where there was an overload of misery and fear , and where I was fortunate to “make it a positive learning experience’. But I also realised, to my dismay, how many more times it the first one I chose. How many more times the ‘monkeywon. So many ‘missed opportunities’…..

Life, if one were to look at it simply, is like a school. Like school, here too we are taught lessons and given tests to check our understanding. There is one difference though, here we are tested first, and then the lesson is learnt, whereas in school, the teacher is kind enough to teach us first. In school we are aware of our syllabus at every point and can make a noise if a question is ‘out of portion’. There are certain rules here. In life there is no text. No ‘noise’ can be made as there ‘is no syllabus’. The learnings from one helps fairing better in the next. The wisdom, ‘earned’ is what make the difference every time…..

So what should my decision be? Have my intelligence work for me….or against…

Do I choose my thoughts to be sublime , or subjugated?

What is your thought? Have the ‘wisdom’ on your side, or …..

Wounded ? Or Wise?

And, Before Breath Turns To Air….

Beep….Beep…Beep…..the sound of the echo cardio gram machine on top of his head. The monitor proved him still alive. Every breath recorded. Every tone sounded reassuring to her. The rhythm was comforting. His eyes had been closed for a week now; his body motionless. Multiple tubes ran in and out of him. All playing a small but vital role in keeping that machine ‘in melody’. Still singing it’s song.

Sitting there by his side she recalled his life, his words, his dreams. Had he lived the way he had hoped? The way he had desired? She wondered. All the various things he had wanted to do, to accomplish, were they all off his bucket list? Or were even a few ticked? Even one?!!

She recalled reading the book, ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon. That had stayed with her. His story. His journey after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Now in front of her lay this young man. What had his ‘travels’ been like? What had his aspirations been; what were his aspirations even now? Though unconscious, could he still be hoping to return? To fulfill them, even now? Could he be nurturing a deep desire to live life on his terms, if given a second chance? Had his life too been spent as a response to the stimuli from those around?!? She wondered. Probably reminiscing her own.

She turned her gaze to another patient in the bed next to him. An elderly gentleman maybe in his eighties, on a heart and lung machine. There seemed to be more wires than flesh on him. In coma for a month. Not to resuscitate, said the file attached to the foot of his cot. How had his life been? Did he lie there with a sense of accomplishment or regret? A sense of contentment or remorse? Would there be repentance or approval in his eyes looking back at the path he had just tread upon?

What about the others there, in similar situations? If given a second chance would they change their course, their ‘vehicle’, their ‘route’, their ‘road map’….. Would she herself too, do it?

She thought of her journey thus far. Chose science in high school because of parental pressure. Then medical school as girls in those days were either doctors or engineers. Arts subjects were looked down upon. Her dreams for being a fashion designer bombed in infancy itself. ‘You have to marry a doctor only’, her family pressure. And then one after another her life was run as a response’ to people and situations around.

So many come into that Intensive Care Unit. Some go back and some move on. Lying there, some might have awakened to their true cause, their life’s purpose, and might actually have been able to go back and make changes. They are the lucky ones, she thought. What were the thoughts of the ones who did not make it back? With what reprieve did they lie there and with what grief and dreams did they leave, when their breath….finally turned to air..

Suddenly she heard long beeps. Beeeep…beeeeeeeeeeep! She looked at the monitor to find a straight line. All the efforts of the nursing team and doctors could not stop that last breath from escaping and all the air around, not being able to turn into ‘ another new breath’, for him ever again…..

Tears rolled down her cheeks. How many more such experiences would she need to go through before learning the true meaning….the true meaning of life, the true meaning of living….

Why do tragedies or a brush with them, only teach us the most important lessons on life. Why is it that only the tussle between the ‘breath and the air’, helps us to understand the importance of relationships, our dreams, our passion, our desires…. And the wisdom to recognise that we may be giving more importance to our frivolous choices over the ones that matter; that our journeys are different and so might be our paths…..

I wonder, will she be able to make that shift…..will I be able to make that change……will you be able to find your road,,,,,,remove the chaff from the seed…..before the breath turns to air…….

Oh! I Will Never Forgive You….For What You Did…

Ajay sat in a cafe on the very busy arterial street in Banff, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. He watched hordes of tourists moving about, in and out of shops. Some couples hugging each other, giggling and laughing; some holding hands. People waking around, window shopping or just enjoying an ice cream. Joy and happiness was the general feel in the air. Vacations are always fun, and what could be more scenic than Canada, he thought. The snow, the mountains, the peace….away from the maddening crowd back home. He revelled in the feeling of being a nobody here. No one knew him, and no one really cared; neither did he.

As he turned to call someone to take his order, his attention was caught by a group of young men sitting by the window. They were probably in their early twenties, maybe just out of university. What actually captured his curiosity was an animated statement made by one of them. “I will never forgive her………!” Those words simply pierced through his entire being. He didn’t really care to listen to the rest of the statement. He was thrown off … into his past….into his thoughts, into his wounds which he thought had healed.

It had happened so many years ago, yet the memories always managed to raise a tidal wave of emotions within. He was still in university when his mother left them, him, his brother and father. She had moved on. He was devastated. Could not understand why she would do something like this. He had always looked up to her. She had been his ‘go to person’. She always seemed to have the answers to all his issues. She was his ‘world’, and like it is , the person who is the closest has the key to our hearts. He also by default becomes the one who can hurt us the most. That is exactly what happened when his ‘worldleft. In his mind she became responsible for all that went wrong in his life. For him she was reason behind his father’s ‘untimely death’, even though it happened quite a few years later. The last rites were over before he could reach back home from London, where he was in the midst of his thesis. It was a family decision, though he felt it could have been stalled till he reached home. He was unable to get a closure even here. All this pain surrounding these old memories just bubbled up to the surface hearing the anguish in the young man’s voice. The hurt Ajay had thought had healed, the grief, the bitterness, the heartache, the anxiety……was all still there….

That is probably why he would run away every now and then. Want to become invisible at times; melt away into the woodwork.

Why was he still hurting? After all these years? Still holding his mother and brother, amongst others, responsible for his grief? His wounds still seemed fresh. What was not allowing him to heal? What was it ?

Why is it that we are told to forgive the other? Forgive the person or persons who have caused us injury. Mental trauma. Why? Is it fair? Does that mean that I condone his behaviour? I let him go unscathed, unpunished?? Is it okay for him to hurt me?

No. The answer to all the above is NO… He or they caused hurt that one time, but every time it is relived, it hurts. It do so……again; and again and……yet again. The wound gets deeper and deeper each time it is recalled. It is like that scab on the wound you got when you scraped your knee on falling off the bike, as a child; and then one afternoon in complete boredom, you pealed it off. And then you ‘enjoyed’ repeating the act again, when a fresh one was formed. The skin underneath was not allowed to dry up. Not permitted to heal. And, it would bleed each time. What is the difference here? Is it not the same?

Every recall brings with it pain and anguish and even more sadness. And the blame goes on. The feeling of ‘victim lingers on. And on. The adjectives keep piling up.

No it is not easy to forgive, ….and then forget. Much easier said than done, for sure.

But here it is not about ‘them’. By pardoning them, I am not absolving them of what they have done , but in fact, taking a decision that I want to free myself of the guilt and tears. The decision that I no longer want to carry the unnecessary burden; the cross on my back. That I let go. That I now empower myself. That I make place in my heart for more good to enter. That I make place in my life to attract positive people and events. That I take away the right that I had given them to cause me continuous pain every time I remembered the event, even years later. That I have done a favour to ‘myself’….

I allow myself to heal

I allow myself to forgive for…I love myself

I allow myself…..I give myself permission…..permission to live as I desire…

To empower yourself, to be happy, to be free, to allow abundance….do not say “ Oh! I will never forgive you……”; ever again…

Karma…What Does It Mean ? Trying to understand it…

‘Karma’. How many times have you heard this word? Used so casually. ‘Oh it’s karma”! Ever given it a serious thought? What is it, really ?

In the ‘BHAGAVADGITA’, Karma is described as the action or deed done by an individual. It is a doing word. The Karma on its own does not decide whether it is positive or negative. Krishna says, it is the ‘intention’ behind it which is important.

The deed on its own is not what it is about. The thought and feeling with which it is performed is the driving force. A mother shouts at her child with a view to correct him, versus two or more persons shouting with the idea of disrespect or causing hurt or insult. One out of love and concern and the other out of just the opposite emotion….

The word intention has so much depth. So much to understand here. The intention behind the action is only known to the actor; the doer or creator of the karma, is it not? No one else can ever know it. No other person can ever know the true feelings or intent. That karma therefore carries the hue of the intention….good or bad; positive or negative; malicious or concern…..

When I ponder over this, I am shown that it is how we think, that holds a lot more importance. The true feeling, the actual driver behind. What goes on behind the ‘action’, carries more weight then? The verb itself might not be where it all ends?!?

When I turn and look at myself, I realise how much responsibility I have from the inception of the deed to the completion! Thought, wordand then the.deed….the intention runs through it all.

As I delve deeper into myself I start watching my thoughts, as a spectator does, the opera. ‘I’, lurking around my ‘My’ thoughts…eavesdropping on them. Paying attention, not to reprimand ….just to caution. What was my intention here? Where is my mind taking me? Can I correct it here itself??? Yes maybe I can! Maybe I just need to be more aware? More in the moment? Would that be able to help me create better karma; take more mindful decisions?!! Create a better future…..

EMPOWERING!!!! I don’t then, need to justify my actions to anyone; if I know my true intention, do I? YES… but first I have to be clear about my thoughts behind my actions; my behaviour…… Where they are coming from, as that will determine, where I go….

And could this then stop the blame game I so often play?!

I revisit my my actions and the chatter behind each of them. The behind the scenes drama…

What is my thought when I correct someone at work, or at home? Was the compliment I paid my colleague on his presentation genuine or out of jealousy? Also the one I paid the lady at dinner the other night on her attire! And the one to the mother of the young man who received the award! And the so many I have in the past !?!? And what about all the charity work I have done?? What was the thought behind those?

When I check on another, is the concern genuine? Is there a thought that I want to say something to sincerely make this person happy, or is it just for…..effect….to sound good….or for a favour in return at a later point?

Is there anger rising in me while I am speaking to one, or irritation lacing my comment, to another!?!

As I delve deeper and watch my deeds, I ‘see my feelings that accompany them’……I stumble upon the lackadaisical comments made by my mind….the lose remarks…the insensitive commentary behind…. Where is this whole thing leading to? Where am I heading …..

Will I drown or can I be aware when I see it raising it ugly head… will I be able to recognise it or will it engulf me….

‘Empowering or daunting “….

What is karma, for I am still trying to understand, how it works…

Interstellar…..The Communication…..

Reading various books and articles I realise I do come upon very interesting meanings and interpretations to my thoughts and dilemmas. Have you realised that when you are looking for answers, they find you? Somewhere I think the entire universe ‘conspires’ to helps us find the correct message. Just the one YOU need. I have noticed that if one is conscious or attentive enough, one can feel the universe speak.

Recently I was writing out a message to send across. I added a sentence towards the end and went back to read it before sending it. It was not there! Ok, I thought, maybe I didn’t type it fully. Maybe I was mistaken. So I did it again. And this time too ,when I went back to read the message, that line was missing!! I thought of writing it out again. I was losing my patience. Then something told me to hold on. Not to do it. ‘Twice’ cannot be a mistake. ‘Twice’ could not be my imagination! But ‘Twice’, could be a ‘message’….. To me to not write that…To not send it with that sentence…To avoid it…..

And then, just to check, I gave it another try; and it happened again!!! I thought there was something wrong with my mobile, but my son assured me all was well ! I am glad I let go of my irritation. Paused and reflected. Could it be some greater power out there saying something??? Maybe it was the universe trying to communicate ….and I listened and acted thereby in accordance….

Later I realised that statement really was not needed. The message made better sense without it…but how many times do we listen to or understand these cues?

Pause and reflect….how many different ways the Supreme Energy is constantly communicating with us. Our inner voice of course, but in ways more than just that. Even through books…Maybe through another’s words, a song, an article in a magazine……and more…

When things don’t work out the way we think they should have, it sure is disappointing; but then we can only know what we can see….Not the full picture…..The bigger canvas might have different colours. The greater plan could be something far superior, beyond our powers of comprehension…..

In this whole machinery called universe, each one of us is just a cog . Yes, but an important one. The working is affected by our choices, but somehow all gets interconnected. Meshed together, I would say. It could be explained as five blind people feeling five different parts of an elephant, to describe it. Each one’s description would vary, but not entirely wrong. So each one’s reactions to ‘an elephant’, would be so different. The one feeling the tail might not be scared of the size, pooh poohing the fear of the other who has felt the belly or it’s leg…

The FULL picture is what we don’t know, yet we think our decision is always right….yet that ego kicks in…yet we feel upset….yet we are ready to fight to make our point…yet..yet…and yet…again…..

So many times I have noticed that the call drops when I am starting to share something….a feeling, or an experience. Sometimes relevant. Sometimes not . And often times I might have decided earlier that I don’t really need to share this just yet; and then, start doing just the opposite…and the phone gets disconnected, or the person has to go. How would you justify this…protection, universe conspiring, Higher Energy stepping in….What? This is like a reminder or, if one is aware, this could be a message to you not to go ahead with what you were thinking…or about to do…Leave it at that time. Let some time pass. Process it. Mull over it. You might find a new angle, a new meaning, a different aspect, and therefore a better response. A better job. A better project. A more lucrative business deal. Or safety from someone, or something not meant for you !!!

I have realised the more attentive one starts becoming, the better the communication. The more one listens the louder the message. The more one responds to IT, the more accurate it becomes….

Isn’t it like opening a new dimension to life, beyond the sixth sense!

Listen to the universe….it is speaking with you……

And Then She Spoke……

Hemant had had a tough week at work. His boss had been pressurising him on deadlines and deliveries, collections and payments. He thought of catching up with an old friend of his for a simple lunch at a restaurant nestled away on a hillside, a couple of hours away from home. He had always enjoyed long drives and this seemed to be an apt destination; meandering through the tall coniferous on a less traveled road. Over narrow bridges across streams, and along water gushing forth from waterfalls. What a beautiful drive and a perfect way to de-stress! Listening to his favourite playlist that he had connected to the car’s music system.

As he drove into the long narrow driveway leading up to an old colonial bungalow with high arches and vines running along, he spotted his friend. She looked ravishing in a lovely long purple colour coat over her dress , and high boots. A casual scarf adorned her delicate neckline.

A table was set for them just as he had wanted; outside, among the trees and wild flowers, with the sun peeping through the branches, offering its warmth.

They had so much to share, after all twelve years is not a short time. Old school buddies suddenly meeting on Facebook. Friends who had lost touch after university. Today she was a counsellor and he, at a senior post in a multinational company.

Appetising finger food. Red Wine with roasted meat. Hot soup with cold weather. And lots of chatter and laughter. Some moments of regret and tear and then lots of stories, as they walked done memory lane.

Soon the beautiful afternoon came to an end. As each collected their belongings and silently walked towards the parking, the slanting rays of the sun casted long shadows behind them. Shadows which contained in its belly so many secrets they had shared. Some, maybe the first time even with themselves …..

With a promise to stay connected, they drove off, down the same winding road, but each towards different destinations.

Once in the car, on his own, his mind drifted off. Waves of emotions flooded his head as he recalled their conversation. So many topics; from formal in the beginning to sharing information about their lives. From casual to intimate. From indifference to intrigue. And then, each accompanied with varied sentiments and feelings. He was trying to search within, for the dominant one..

He did recall thinking of her at various points in life but could never put a finger as to which emotion accompanied it. But what did their conversation today throw light on? What was it that kept peeping in and out? Was it a deeper feeling? He wondered. Was it something he missed back in his university, when they were all together, friends and more?

Did he spot the same in her today? Is that what he picked up each time she turned her gaze? Times when she would float away, mid conversation? Had she come today to say she was still waiting?

As he drove along, the breeze from the rolled down window gently cooled his face. His hair gleefully danced. As he squinted to prevent the wind from blowing into his eyes , he wondered why people miss the cues. Had he? Had he missed recognising his own deep down desire? Had he missed acknowledging it….to himself? Had he missed reading her too? All these years? All this while?

Suddenly a cow appeared out of nowhere, and his immediate reflexes brought him back to reality. Still shaking from the incident he parked his car on the side. Grey clouds were approaching on the western sky, as if nature too was mirroring his sentiments.

He decided to drive on before the light pitter patter gave way to a heavy shower. The raindrops entering through the open window covered his face; but then how come he could taste salt?? His emotions seemed to be now mixed with the rain, both flowing away…..

As he drove on still trying to figure why his eyes were hazy; was it water or ….., he wondered why one sometimes fail to recognise reality. Are we so blinded that emotions evade us? Is it ever too late to make amends, to apologise, to start again? To accept and be accepted. To find oneself and therefore find the other? To ask for another chance ….

Why is it that courage deserts us when we need it the most? Why do words fail us when needed to share feelings? Why is it that by the time we recognise the void, so much water has flown under the bridge.. Why is it that neither party are able to recognise what is happening to the other or, the hurt they might be causing…

Why are relationships so complicated? And then again, are they all?

As he turned into his paved driveway, his cellphone lit up…it started dancing to it’s own tune. “Seema calling “, it flashed gleefully!! He stared at it as if that would initiate the conversation.

And then she spoke…….

A Big Fat Indian Wedding…

A beautiful day to welcome the wedding guests, it was. I wore a simple but elegant cotton dress for the lunch. The venue was tastefully decorated with white flowers; carnations and roses interspersed with baby’s breath. A few here and then a few there. The parents of the bride were understandably on top of the world, as they greeted their guests with affection and humility.

As I sat with a few friends sipping sangria and listening to foot tapping music of my younger days, I watched the guests walking in. I am sure there were a mix of relatives and friends. One meets and builds relationships with so many on the journey through life, some close and some still acquaintances. But then I guess A big fat Indian wedding, warrants an invite to all !!!

I had been looking forward to the celebrations specially as it was after the long cold pandemic period. Everyone had been through their share of turmoil; some who had knocked the doors of death and managed to escape while some others who had lost a loved one to it. A few who’s job profiles changed forever, while a few fortunate ones who actually found deep meaning in their journey.

Over the next two days I observed many people who were maybe meeting after decades, all ready to party and make fresh connections. There was liquor and food, flowers and jewellery; designer clothes one more beautiful than the other, all showcased for the other’s perusal… Money seemed to have suddenly lost its density. It seemed to just flow like liquid

There was much fun and dance. The bride’s family, so close knit I thought. I definitely consider it a boon in today’s world. And also because I am such a sucker for human bond. Really, I wonder, is there anything more important! But then that is me. I had such a warm feeling in my heart with my smile touching my eyes, just watching them.

Me and my favourite sangria did get to spend some time by ourselves across the days of festivities. And slowly I saw, or rather perceived a tear in the fabric of the close knit family. An occasional incident here and there threw up to the surface what all was camouflaged behind the smiles and laughter.

I completely understand that everyone does not have great relationships. People are different, I agree. But it is saddening to see the disturbance within one generation, being allowed to seep through…….

Today as I sit after my morning walk sipping my coffee, watching a flock of sparrows playing amongst themselves, my mind meandered back to the beautiful wedding I had attended a few months ago. I recalled the smiling bride and blessed her silently. Remembering the magnitude of the celebrations, I shuddered to think of all the effort that would have gone into it, behind the scenes……..

Yes behind the scene, a lot goes on . A lot stays hidden. In so many families…..

As I sat today I thought of my own children and then the youth in general. Are these the adults of tomorrow whom we will be handing over our world to !! Is the youth even matured enough to take care of it?

As a parent myself, I wonder if I have raised my progeny as an asset or a liability. They are the children of the world. Am I leaving my old incorrect thought process with them or have I empowered them with the knowledge to decide for themselves what is right and what might not be ? Am I leaving a heavy baggage of my actions, reactions and my tainted glasses or have I been able to keep them light so they can fly, taking the world with them? Today do they have their sight intact or is their vision impaired?

Have I been able to remove a veil off their eyes or have I cast a spell of hatred, doubt, mistrust and ego …..for life, and banished them…??

And as I go back into my thoughts, dear reader, I would like to leave you with a question, whose responsibility is it anyway………

And I Thought I Was The Full Chain…

As I sat in the balcony of my room at the ashram, a fleet of thoughts over took me. Were they ‘realisations’ or ‘theories’, I know not. Or were they just various haphazard conversations with the self ? Various incomplete divulgence, or disorganised answers? I was still trying to decipher whether I would find some meaning in these, when my gaze shifted to the river flowing a few metres below, in the valley.

At places it flowed unabated, and then there were points where white foam formed as it encountered rocks of different sizes. Obstructions or not, boulders or non, it continued unfazed. My vision, still trying to capture it’s journey, was politely hazed over by a veil of dust which gently rose up between ‘us’, caused by the construction below.

My thoughts returned to the book of Om Swami I had finished reading the night before. ‘The book of kindness’. It felt as if He gave wings to a lot of my thoughts. The weave He had created had caused a calm to descend on my own confused incomplete dilemma.

The opposite of ‘kindnesses’ is not ‘unkindness’, but ‘No Kindness’, hmmm, never looked at it that way…..

And then to ponder on charity. I have always been grateful that a little happens through me. I too have often told myself that I am only an instrument, a medium through which it happens. Am not the doer, as Swamiji mentions.

Then as my thoughts meandered along with the river, it struck me how many times one feels a little pride creep up when one loosens the purse strings. A little twinge of it, at least. But the river here was showing me it’s charity, the mountains theirs, and the bees; the trees laden with fruit silently stood offering their gifts. I was humbled by the magnanimity of nature, by it’s generosity; and the silence in which it is done…..

Then again why does modesty give way to the ‘ego’? The ‘Giver’, is someone else. The ‘Receiver’, yet another. I am just the conduit in-between. Am I not!!! Then why does the ‘Container’, in the middle, succumb to ‘Ownership’?….. I ponder…..

As the veil between the river and I dissipated, so did the one over my eyes and mind.

Where I might have thought I was the full chain, I am… but a link….