After an early morning flight from Paris to Barcelona, our starving bodies could have eaten possibly anything (mind often thinks in extremes but is seldom prepared).
So, at the airport, we saw a Burger King outlet (a name which was most known to us amongst others) and scouted for the cheapest burger. We didn’t bother to ask what this cheapest burger actually contained and ordered two burgers (we were 3, but it was a 5-Euro burger!). Two of us took our first bites and realized, oops, maybe we had made a mistake. We asked our third friend and the same reaction! We wanted to, but our Indian smugness (to not make a fool of ourselves) didn’t allow us to ask anyone there about this exotic burger and we simply devoured it.
When our tummies gave a green signal, our minds woke up and thought let’s (for the sake of it) ask someone what we ate a while ago (by now you know what it was). In a very nonchalant way, we asked a janitor standing close to us about it and to our dismay – yes, it was beef!
A trivia here – all of us were non-vegetarians and one of us was a Brahmin.
We maintained our poise in front of this kind janitor who just sort of, for a moment, made Earth disappear from under us. According to a large section of the population in India, we had committed the greatest sin of all.
Next 5 min.
I can feel something weird inside me!
I might be disowned for this act!
I knew there was something wrong with it! Blah, blah!
Then we booked our cab to our hostel and forgot about this morning blunder which apparently scarred us for life. We might have joked about this incident the next day. Frankly, I don’t remember whether we ever discussed it, after that day.
Now, the ‘more’ part …
Just so we are on the same page, this is not about vegetarianism or experiences in a foreign land.
The intent of this post is to share a thought triggered by the above anecdote in situations I fail to abide by the value system which I think I have created for myself.
Why in those 5 minutes we were cursing ourselves?
What made us think that we had committed a sin?
Why was it such a big deal?
More importantly, why all of it lasted only for 5 minutes?
An obvious answer to the first three questions is – we thought that our value system didn’t allow us to eat holy cow’s meat that caused a sense of panic and made ourselves feel very small.
But, answer to the fourth question is what I seek!
I certainly am an advocate of creating a value system and considering it the bedrock for whatever you do in your life. However, I want to take a step back here and make you think – who is listing down these values for you? Who is telling you that you should be comfortable doing X but not Y?
KNOW YOUR WHYS!
What I have learnt is that you should allow yourself to decide about your own comfort level and what you think is right or wrong. The journey from a neutral perspective to taking a stand should be yours, not an inherited one.
When you take up this journey, there will be mistakes made, there will be learnings and there will be a crossroads; but, in the end, you would have created something of your own. A solid bedrock, unshakeable in the toughest of times; as you would know your WHYs/WHY NOTs to the core. There will be no dangling thoughts – whether I should feel bad/good about it, did I do a right thing or not, I never expected this from myself, so on and so forth.
A curated value system mapped to your own morality will be the most reliable barometer for navigating life.
Back to my story, now you know what happened after those 5 minutes.
We realized this was not the first time we had eaten meat.
We didn’t understand, how cow meat is different from a goat or a chicken meat.
We didn’t understand, how one animal is more sacred than the other.
We realized that someone else considered this as a sin and hence.
What we needed was our own sensibilities react to this situation.
(Again, all this is not about what one should eat or should not)
But I am not there, yet. I still get confused at times about my value system and my deeds. I still have a long list to be cleaned, edited and updated. What I think, I do have now is a sense of direction.
Can you see that closet, just behind that door?
That is my world now, with all the ghosts.
It is dark and gloomy with all the lost hope,
With black curtains, to drape me in their dope.
I sit there in denial, on the existence of that evening
Echoes of me drowning and whining.
When I think of that moment, my heart still skips a beat
And I realize that – I am forgetting to breathe.
Every night my mind goes for a debrief,
My heart looking for verbs of my grief.
But to its dismay life gives it a toss,
For the language is flat in the wake of a loss.
There are sharp pangs of guilt and remorse,
Deep strokes of helpless death throes.
And then, there is a sudden sense of abjection. Boom!
The walls of the closet witness a verbose eruption.
It is usually a monologue with un-chastened emotions,
About unanswerable answers and a tone of desolation.
This misery, anger, guilt and rage,
All have given me a painful tan.
And at this moment, inside my head
It feels like 21st June in the month of Jan.
It seems that time has frozen still forever.
And listen! If there is anything more painful than this, I don’t want to discover it ever.
A brush with death can lead to a new life,
But these strokes are hurting me, and it’s not easy to strive.
But, at times there is a gentle pat on my back; a whisper in my ears from a voice inside,
And I hear this from someone wise – Girl! Somethings in life cannot be fixed, they can only be carried alongside.
It will take some time here for sure,
To make that baggage, my own.
To go outside and meet my old self,
To again be the captain of my world that has been torn.
Until then, I will wake up every morning,
Step out of my invisible closet.
Strain my muscle to wear that smile,
And then shed a tear as the sun will set.
But you need not worry, you see
It’s not easy to take a toll on me.
I am brought up to be always strong and free;
And I will fight till I get on the path I always wanted to be!
During this last week of 2017, I wanted to re-visit the learnings of the year. What have I learned and more importantly what have I un-learned?
Did I repeat the mistakes of the previous year, have I incorporated the learnings of the previous year into my endeavours? Were there any habits formed or dropped? What did I stop doing this year or at least tried to? What did I start doing this year or at least tried to?
There is a long answer to the above-mentioned questions but there is one aspect which stands out and has started bothering me for a while, something which I have admitted to myself an infinite number of times and although I understand that it needs to be changed I haven’t been able to achieve 100% success. I need to, now.
I know it’s a human thing but it has started making me uncomfortable and even embarrassed me at times.
Today, I am doing few things comfortably for which I judged someone a few years ago. I am still not always comfortable with the deeds of other people which I think are not ‘correct’ or with the higher degrees of any behavioural trait which is yet not in my list of experiences or opinions.
At times, I still ask myself – why someone is not good at tasks which are so ‘easy’? Why is someone not speaking in a certain way? How can someone be so grumpy all the time? Why is someone not able to comprehend such simple things? How can s/he make such choices? Why is s/he dressed like this? What made him/her take this decision?
Whenever these questions come to my mind, they make me uncomfortable. And I must admit, this started happening to me ONLY in last 1-2 years and NOT before.
I was comfortable JUDGING people. Never did this thought crossed my mind that I am limiting my sense of understanding and acceptance.
It’s just not me, I know that. Also, I don’t want to go into the scientific reasons for Judging in this post, but I understand that probably we need a base to grasp first impressions. We probably maintain a bank of references, experiences and opinions which we consider as the only truth and compare to it, everything we come across in our lives.
But the problem here is, which I have had a hard time to accept (forgive me for that), my truth isn’t your truth and your truth isn’t their truth!
This acceptance has made all the difference to my thought process in past some time. Today, (ironically) I often judge myself for all my past judgements.
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always!
I have made myself understand that the place where I come from and the exposure I have had is a tiny circle and the fact is that for each one of us the radius of this circle is different – might be smaller than mine or much larger. I am not aware of that and if I have just come to know you, possibly I cannot be made aware of your circle either.
With the dawn of the new year, I don’t want to judge you anymore, I don’t want to assess you while we are conversing.
I am not aware what your story is and what you have been going through. I don’t want to form an opinion about you. Tomorrow if your thoughts evolve and you respond differently to the same conversation, I don’t want to point it out neither to you or myself. Tomorrow if your priorities change and you change your path, I don’t want to question that.
I need to understand that ‘Being Alive’ is a process where you constantly evolve; experiences, achievements, failures, circumstances and people around you, make you and your thoughts.
I know I need to make an effort here and I am ready for that. I want to learn to accept individuality and ask myself questions about whatever I am judging.
Be Curious. Not Judgemental. ~ Walt Whitman
I need to broaden my understanding of what is acceptable which I believe will cultivate a deeper sense of peace within me and make me better than what I am today.
This is one of my agendas for the coming year. Wishing you all best for yours!
Can this wall be broken?
Can these doors be opened?
Can she be loved in her raw beauty?
Can they observe her beyond her duty?
Can they look beyond her complacency?
Can she be appreciated for that little idiosyncrasy?
Can they look through that beautiful piece of art?
How she messes up before completing each part
Can they revisit her footsteps when she walked that extra mile?
How her legs had fumbled during that stride
Can they look beyond her pinch of pride?
And see how she struggled to make through the ride
Can they look through her glowing eyes?
How many tears have given her that shine
Can they look through the perfect mirror and rewind?
How she had assembled all those broken pieces behind
Can they look beyond that wave of tranquillity?
How many tides have given her that stability
Can they seep through the aura around her?
Can they sense beyond the odour that she wears on her?
Can they stop admiring that charming smile?
And ask why did she cry the last night
Can they stop admiring her for the path she has chosen?
And ask how many times her courage got shaken
Can they stop counting the mountains she has built?
And help her with the moments of guilt
Can they dare to question that poise?
And ask how she deals with all that noise
Can they stop admiring the armour outside?
And start appreciating the wounds inside
Can they stop admiring that sense of perfection in her?
And start looking for the imperfections that make her
Can they just stop saying that they ADMIRE her?
And once can she hear – they LOVE her!
They love her for the scars, that gave her the imperfect moments
They love her for the mistakes, before that final take
They love her without the armour, they love her for baring emotions
They love her for her weakness, they love her for shedding those tears
They love her for being vulnerable, they love her for her fear
They love her for her anger, they love her for her failures
Can once she hear that? Can once they say…
Today, they love her for being less than a winner.
Today, they love her for being that imperfect her.
Today, they love her for being a little more human!
Gita: Where were you? I have been trying to call you for an hour now.
Shanaya: Sorry Ma! After my painting class, I went to Pa’s office.
Gita (anxious): Why?
Shanaya: I promised him I’ll visit sometime this week for coffee. He always talks about his office cafeteria and its coffee.
Gita: (impatient and curious) Okay!! How was the meeting then? He has got a lot of work these days due to the coming elections. I hope he didn’t hurry with you.
Shanaya: No, Ma! He was happy that I came and didn’t make it look that he’s got a lot of work.
Gita: Did he tell, what time will he be coming home?
Shanaya: Yes, he said he’ll be late. He needs to visit a colleague of his.
Gita: Ok. (her voice had a strange sense of relief)
(Shanaya starts emptying her bag)
Gita: What happened? What’s in your bag?
Shanaya: Ma, you forgot, you gave me the list of items to buy, last night.
Gita: Oh. Yes! Did you get all that?
Shanaya: Yes, after my school I went to that supermarket close by and got all the stuff. Here’s is the bill and the left-over cash.
Gita: Oh, that Asha supermarket. These people have done a really good job with it. You almost get everything there, from groceries to crockery to clothes. There is even a pharmacy just outside it.
(a slightly lower pitch as if she didn’t want her mother to hear that) Ma, I wanted to talk to you about something. About this morning!
Gita: By the way, what did you have for lunch today? Sorry, I wasn’t well in the morning thus couldn’t prepare anything for you.
Shanaya: No problem Ma, I had samosas at the canteen. What happened to you? These days, you have been falling sick quite often.
Gita: Nothing dear, may be because of that BP problem.
Anyways, come here, show me today’s painting. What was the theme today? What did you make?
Shanaya: Nothing great! They give such weird topics. Sometimes I don’t get it.
Gita: Don’t worry child. It’s just been a month for you. Give some time to yourself and you’ll make some of the best paintings.
Did you get that pain relief balm which I asked you to?
Shanaya: Yeah, I have got everything on that list. I kept all of it on the sofa there.
Gita: Okay, Okay. I’ll get that.
You go and change. Rest for a while if you want.
Shanaya: No Ma, I’m fine. I’m going for a bath. I’m feeling a bit tired and exhausted.
Gita went near the sofa, searched for her balm. Her neck was aching since last night.
It was kept beside her daughter’s bag. As she was about to apply the balm, that pharmacy bill got her attention.
She took it in her hand and couldn’t believe what she read.
Disturbed and troubled by the thought, she took a deep breath.
(speaking to herself) Why did she buy sleeping tablets? A whole pack of it! None of us has any sleeping issues, then why did she get those?
Gita started panicking, searching everywhere to find those tablets, throwing all the stuff on the floor.
She started getting out of her breadth now. Restless and sweating. She didn’t want to think anything. She was trying to convince her mind and heart that her daughter hasn’t done anything wrong. Maybe she is mistaken, maybe this is just an illusion.
Then her eyes went to Shanaya’s bag. She clutched that bag like a hungry dog. Distressed and disturbed she started emptying all its pockets. She couldn’t find anything except the books and some stationary.
She lunged at the floor like a log of wood, trying to hold her breath, her thoughts.
Repeatedly telling herself that everything is fine, she was feeling so uneasy that she could’ve collapsed then and there.
Then she saw her daughter’s painting book lying on the floor. Still, blank in her thoughts, she picked that book up and looked-for today’s painting.
It was, of a heavily bruised woman lying on a bed.
She froze! That moment everything got blurred in front of her eyes, that book fell from her lap. Struggling to stand and trying to defy all her thoughts, she remained still feeling dejected. Maybe now, she knew what had happened!
While she was trying to sink in what she just saw and get hold of herself, the telephone kept beside her started ringing and it kept ringing for a while.
(after a minute, she picked up the telephone)
Hello! (with a tight throat and heavy voice)
Is this Mrs Deewan? (A man’s voice)
I’m sorry to tell you Ma’am, but an unfortunate incident happened with your husband an hour back. Can you come to the Singra hospital?
Holding the receiver, she remained there devouring in despair.
I stare at the sky, Bed of stars, a bead of twinkling light passing by. It’s a soothing low light, Where you can dwell in your own heart and its sight. Sight of things surrounding your life; People you praise, situations you revile. Have I been too busy lately? Giving up on, all my frailties! Have I lost myself to the pack of city dwellers? Have I failed to attend all my desires? The mind wants to shut all the extraneous noises around; The heart wants to enjoy just the soothing sound. The mind wants to emerge from all the corporate boxes; The heart wants to create a personal oasis. A place and time where I am not alone, Good books, good thoughts, positive energy galore! A kind of courage possessed by few, I need a journal and protracted periods of solitude! And when I want to interrupt my inward dive, I want to shake up my social life. People around, those in good faith; Al fresco dinners, chats and a lot of debate. And then give me a ride with the souls I don’t know, New hobbies, new philosophies, new dimensions to explore. Give me a ride into the uncharted woods, Let me shed all my hoods. That I believe, get your soul evolving; Ever improving, ever ascending! That I believe leads to one’s ideological osmosis; And in a desert, you create a personal oasis.