Friday, 27 June 2014

The Last Little Chapati

When I was little, I used to tag along with my Granny while she cooked. She knew I loved to cook, so she used to let me make the last chapati with a little ball of dough and helped me roast it. Those were delightful days. I felt like a big girl when I made the last little chapati.

Today, I am 28 n my Granny 84. Today,  when I make chapatis for family, my Granny tags along. She looks at me longingly. I know she still loves to cook but doesn't remember any longer how to do it. So I give the last little dough ball and teach her how to. She makes it and is delighted because she helped.

I cherish these moments and wonder how life has turned the tables. I feel blessed because life gave me this opportunity. To give back a part of my life, to the people who gave me my life. And to my Granma who gave me my first lesson of the last little Chapati.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Being Me... (1)

As an individual I often found myself engulfed in an array of questions – Why would this have happened in the first place? What was that thing that I had felt when I had seen that person? How does a Mother seem to know the exact time her child is hungry? Does God know that I am feeling lost right now? Will he be showing me the right path? When people say, time is the best healer, how much time do they really think it would take? Will I ever come to know who would cry when I breathe my last?

One day when I found myself utterly depressed, my doctor recommended meditation. He advised me to pray and contemplate, and told me that my qualms are somewhere linked to my spiritual origins. I found this amusing and at the same time didn’t want to believe him. I thought this can be a faux solution and there is nothing that anyone can do, but tackle with his/her daily frustrations, only as and when the day comes. There is nothing like an eternal solution to this. There can never be a day when I say that “today” was perfect, that “today” was without any apprehensions, “today” was without any fears. I went on to be my own victim, transiting through the days as if I was being forced to live them. As if nothing I did, really mattered to anyone.

Until one morning when I was dragging myself on the roads, I saw a truck of mirrors passing by. Several mirrors flashed on me an image which I barely recognized. I didn’t know who this person was. While I looked at myself, I realized that I was losing touch with myself. I am talking less to my soul these days. I have aged prematurely and I don’t remember when I smiled last. I could see some dark lines on my forehead and my eyes were a little less than hollow. It couldn’t have happened in a day, I thought. And that is when I realized that I have been doing this to myself since years. I haven’t had a clue of what my own thoughts were making out of me. And then I happened to read a maxim that almost suddenly woke me up from a deep slumber. While I was surfing one day I got to read a quote from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret “The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.” 
I felt my thoughts spin on a completely different path. I now wanted to get to know myself. I wanted to understand what I yearned for, what is the purpose of my life. A few initial days, I thought meditating would be the best recourse. However, that didn’t seem to be working. I often found my thoughts straying and it was a tough job to sit still for a long duration. But this time I was not about to give up. The sense of being was so powerful that I started looking for various ways of contemplation. I found out through a lot of research that meditation was not the only remedy. A person can look inside himself through various other ways like taking up a hobby that one likes, or taking a walk early in the morning, or talking to trees or pets. Hence I spoke to myself and concluded that what I can best do is work out. I started with a walk, then a jog and then sprinted across the country-side. I started feeling the difference since the first day. While I sweated out, I spoke to myself. I got to know I love certain smells in the vicinity. I realized that there are some beautiful birds which visit some places everyday and I started paying attention to the way they sang through their little beaks. Their eyes now suddenly were of meaning to me. After a few days of my jog therapy, I realized that I could hear my voice. I had started connecting with myself. And this had happened only when I learnt to connect with things outside me. “Paying attention” was something I learnt really mattered. Whether it is towards yourself, or towards someone you love, or towards the things that nature has to say.  Life had suddenly started to mean something.

I had heard of spirituality but had never thought that I could be interested in it. At the same time, I also wanted to connect with myself. I wanted to know the essence of my being. Now that I had begun my quest, I didn’t want to leave it halfway. I wanted the Universe to conspire to help me achieve it. Like The Alchemist, I wanted to be able to conquer my fears and even if I fell seven times, I wanted to ensure that I get up the eighth time.

When I started my journey towards spiritualism, I never knew that things as tough as these can bring an absolute sense of joy. Connecting dots was an enlightening exercise and I had started to believe in the concept of an after life and spiritual origins. While we all want to make sure that we find peace one day, we fail to understand the little nuances of being an individual. The anticipation of reaching the destination is so strong, that we fail to enjoy the journey. While we all want to bring goodness in our own lives, we fail to realize that goodness to self is called selfishness and goodness to others is called selflessness. It is then up to us to realize whether we opt for the first or the second one. While I kept all these things in my mind, it was still difficult to love selflessly. Material world is a big obstacle for anyone who is in search of real happiness. You may want to make things good for the other person, but because the world has become such a place, your motives can always be looked upon suspiciously. How on earth do you then make your world a better place! At such times it is important for us to understand that although we might want people to believe in us, not everyone would. Hence keep doing and keep walking. Don’t stop and look back to see what the result is. If you have been true to your heart, the result would always be in your favor.

The Great Lord Krishna (in the great epic of Mahabharata) has said in his well-known scripture Bhagavad Gita “Karmanye Vadhikarastay, Ma Faleshu Kadachana”. This means doing the best possible work from your side is what you can do and you have a right to. What you get in return is neither your lookout nor your right. .... (to be continued. ..)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A curd rice thought - Being Suman....

The other day when I was making curd rice for my Granny, one of her favorites, I couldn’t help but notice the change in the roles that had happened.

Tadkewali Dahi Chawal (tempered curd rice) has been my favorite dish since ages. I was introduced to it by my Grandmother (Nani) and since then it has been consistently my preferred form of rice. Even today I drool over the thought of it. Apart from curd rice, Grandma has brought in my life the love for reading, knitting and creative writing.

I remember the walks that we had till school, reciting Ram Rakshaadhyays from Sri Bhagwad Gita and Maruti Stotra… I remember the evenings spent in the gardens chasing dragonflies, butterflies… Smelling Mogra (Jasmin).. Collecting Jaswand (hibiscus flowers), Lilies, Roses, Aboli (Crossandra flowers)… I remember there was once a red breasted bluebird which used to frequent our garden and I sought after him when suddenly one day he failed to turn up… I remember my Julie, a Pomeranian puppy, who was my little angel and granny’s baby… She brought so much love and light in
our lives just to free herself from Granny’s arms one day and run away so far that we could never find her back…

 Life keeps running and we keep chasing it… We keep looking for joy in others and fail to look into the closest thing for it… Our souls… We crib and cry for the smallest of things that we couldn’t get and conveniently overlook the beauty of the things we already possess…

When I look at Granny today, I realize how much she must have suffered… She has been a strong woman… Surpassing all the sorrows… Little help from her husband… Little money… Costs of daily necessities, education for her girls… Overcoming the boundaries of womanhood… Making way for herself and her daughters… Bringing them up… Such strong two girls… Carving out of them beautiful individuals, who have in turn seen the worst of situations but still managed to emerge triumphant… Amidst this how much she must have lost and how much she must have craved for her share of happiness…
 I wonder at the way life turns the tables… Like a game of chess… The only difference being, in chess the king and queen are constant… In life if today one is a king or queen, tomorrow they may have to assume roles of pawns… Life is all about changing roles, adapting to the new ones, giving one’s best to the roles assigned, being ready for the next one and round and round the cycle of life goes…

My Granny has been my guardian and today roles have reversed… She needs me to guard her… A helpless soul, who had once managed to prevail over all helpless situations…, who was once a lioness who hunted and lived her whole life for her cubs… She is now a feeble voice who has lost all the logic and rationale of living… Who has created world through her kids and their kids and is now a vanished soul… But should you mistake her of being defeated?… She still has the lioness in her… She can still roar with all her might, if at stake are her children… The roles would reverse but the stories would continue… As aptly put in a song…

“Kal khel mein,Hum ho na ho,Gardish mein tare rahenge sada…Bhuloge tum.. Bhulenge sab..Par hum tumhare rahenge sada..” 
Love you Grandma... May we all find ourselves the same grit and survival instinct that you have shown till date...