Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Break-Up

It was way past midnight when she finally reached home. The effects of the whiskey were wearing off. She was no longer high on happiness. In fact, her head spun and she was feeling dizzy. She wished she had refrained from displaying her dancing skills at the club. Her legs ached. She got out of her heels and sat on her bed. She switched on her laptop and signed into her Facebook account.

He was still on her list of "Close Friends". They had broken up a week ago and even though she had changed her "Relationship Status" from "In a Relationship" to "Single", she still had not been able to remove him from her list of “Friends”.

She glanced at the list of notifications. He had changed his profile picture. He was with a girl – from the backdrop, she could make out that they were, both, in the living room of his house.  "Who is this chick?" she wondered. She looked at his Wall Posts. His status read, “Best Weekend Ever!!” She felt a sinking feeling in her stomach as she saw his latest “check ins”. He had visited a pub with her on Saturday evening, and on Sunday, they had gone for a movie together, after brunch at a restaurant which used to be her favourite.

She could not stop the tears from rolling down her eyes. She wanted to scream but no voice came out of her throat. She wanted to send him a message but he had changed his number. She did not have his new contact details. She was frustrated and she cried herself to sleep.

The next morning, she could not focus on work. She wondered how it had been so easy for him to move on. Even though she knew she was making a mistake, she could not abstain from logging into her Facebook account once again. There was another notification! He had changed his “Relationship Status” once again to being “In a Relationship”. He had uploaded new photos as well, of the weekend he had spent, with the new girl in his life.

As she stared at the screen, she, suddenly, burst out laughing. Surprisingly, instead of remembering the times she had spent with him in the last two years, it was a casual conversation with her mother that was playing in her mind. “Your generation is a strange one,” her mother had stated. “All of you are moving towards a culture of exhibitionism. It baffles me how you enjoy giving minute-by-minute updates of your life to the whole world. In our days, we had one camera and we developed the photos once in a year…But you upload pictures every single day – of lunch, of some kitten on the road, of your cubicle in the office – keep me away from all this. I do not need Facebook to let my close friends know what is happening in my life.”

Not being able to concentrate on any task, she decided to take the rest of the day off. After a long walk by herself on the beach, she dragged her legs home. Once again, she logged on to her account. This time, there were no notifications. She typed his name on the search bar but his profile did not open. He was no more appearing on her list of “Friends”. He had blocked her! She was even more amazed when she realized that this information did not devastate her. Although she was a little mad, at the same time, she also felt relieved. He had, with the click of a mouse, erased all possibilities of the two of them having any access to each other’s lives.

It was now her turn to shoot ahead. She managed to force a smile on her face as she clicked a picture of herself and uploaded it on Facebook with the caption “All Smiles J J”. She felt pleased as her picture received some instant “likes”. She had succeeded in showing to the world that she, too, was moving on… 

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Liebster!

I would like to thank Reshma for presenting me with the "Liebster Award". It always feels good to know that your writing is appreciated and receiving this award just made my day! Such appreciation always encourages me to continue writing and  I hope that I get better with each and every piece so that my readers always enjoy themselves while reading my posts.

Not everyone knows about the Liebster Award. Even I didn't until I received it! Well, 'Liebster' is actually a German word and, simply put, it means loving and endearing. The Liebster Award is an award of appreciation.

The rules of this award are simple and stated below:

  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2. The person must answer the 11 questions set by the nominator; and create 11 new questions for the people he or she has nominated. 
  3. The person must choose bloggers who deserve this award and link them in the post (These bloggers should have less than 300 followers).
  4. These nominees must be informed of their nomination.
  5. No tag-backs are permitted. 
So, here I begin with posting 11 things about myself...

  1. I always tend to believe in the best of people. I believe that people are, basically, very good and I often make the mistake of taking people at face-value. There are times when I have had to pay a price for trusting people so easily but I'd rather be the person who trusts and gets hurt than be someone who is suspicious at all times. 
  2. Sometimes, I wish I could be in two places simultaneously. It would be wonderful if I could be in my home-town, Kolkata, with my family as well as in Mumbai with all my friends, both, at the same time. 
  3. I am a clinical hypnotherapist and I feel very uncomfortable when I see the weird reactions people give when I tell them about my profession. It used to be fun freaking people out while I was still studying but lately I am finding it to be quite irksome. 
  4. I am not a hard worker but I work smart and can complete most tasks assigned to me at rapid speed. 
  5. Despite being a food-lover, I am quite fussy about the food that I eat. 
  6. I am an agony aunt! I always end up in situations where I am helping people sort out their issues. 
  7. I love dogs and I wish I could have one as a pet. 
  8. While I can drink tea or coffee, I still prefer drinking milk and Bournvita every morning. 
  9. I have always believed in living in the moment. What lies ahead has never been a concern for me. However, these days I find myself becoming worrisome about the future and I feel that I need to change that. 
  10. If I had my way, I think I would be a student for life. I love learning things and I feel, like Tennyson's Ulysses, the true purpose of my life is "to follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought". 
  11. I always smile at people even if I do not know them. Even if you meet me for a brief one minute, you are sure to notice my smile! 
Now, I need to answer the questions that were set for me. Here goes:

  1. Given a choice between a world without feelings and a world without words, which one would you choose and why?
    I would choose to live in a world without words than live in a world without feelings. Empty words are meaningless and the language of words is just a symbol. Feelings are what truly matter. 
  2. What is the one thing about you that you think irritates others the most?
    Sometimes, I just cut off from people without giving them prior notice. When I feel like I don't want to talk to anybody, I actually do not respond to messages, e-mails or calls. My friends get irritated when I do not return their calls even though they have called me more than ten times in two days or sometimes even more; and no, I am not exaggerating! What irritates them further is that I bounce back into action without giving them any explanations behind the cause of my disappearance. 
  3. Describe what writing means to you in 3 words.
    Writing is expression. 
  4. If you were to be marooned on an island and could wish for only one thing (except return to the mainland) what would that be and why?
    I would wish for my entire life to be transported to the island! If I can't go back to my life on the mainland, at least my life can come back to me. Besides it does not really matter where you are, if you have your life, consisting of friends, family, and the things that you love, all around you. 
  5. If you could choose to be born as a celebrity, who would you be?
    I would love to be born as Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson). 
  6. The one blogger you wished you could write like would be ____________. 
    I have left the space blank because even though I love the different styles of writing of all the different bloggers, I somehow feel that I should stick to mine! 
  7. If you could possess a super-power, what would it be?
    If I could have a super-power, I wish that I could read and manipulate people's thoughts (like Matt Parkman of Heroes)
  8. Who or what influenced you the most to write?
    In my family, no one was fond of reading books other than me. However, everyone liked hearing a good story. Re-telling stories from the books that I used to read inspired or influenced me to write some stories of my own. 
  9. Science or God?
    God because it all starts from there. God is the source - you are introduced to the concept of God right from the time you are born. After that introduction, you will automatically start searching for more answers and stumble upon other paths such as Science. 
  10. What is/are your favourite book(s) and why? (Limit: 3)
    My favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I recommend this book strongly to all those who haven't yet had the chance of reading it. It is a wonderful piece of literature.
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder  is also on my list of favourites. It is a book on Western philosophy and I love the style with which it has been written. People who are not familiar with philosophy at all will benefit from reading this book. 
  11. If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
    These days, I find that people in this world are rather apathetic. I would like to change that. 
Now it is my turn to ask questions. Here is the list:

  1. If you had to describe yourself with the help of a song, which song would that be?
  2. What is that one thing you would do differently if you felt that no one was judging you?
  3. If you had the choice of starring in a movie, which movie would you choose and what character would you play?
  4. What is the one cause that you feel most passionate about?
  5. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
  6. Who was your favourite cartoon character when you were a child?
  7. If you could bring a tourist to only one place in your city, where would you take him or her and why?
  8.  What does your name mean? To what extent is that meaning applicable in your context?
  9. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  10. What is the best gift you have received?
  11. If you knew that today was your last day on this earth, how would you like to spend it and why?
I would like to nominate:
  1. Green Speck
  2. Sanika
  3. Me
  4. Ashok
  5. Chatty Wren
Looking forward to reading your responses!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Flutter (Flash Fiction)

She groaned as she stared at the heavy stack of paper-work that remained at her desk. It was still mid-afternoon and there were some more hours to kill before she could go home but she was very irritated. It was Valentine’s Day and none of her colleagues seemed to be in the mood for work. Most of them were taking off early and they were chirping to each other about their evening plans. 
She was single. She had been this way for as long as she could remember. She was yet to experience the chemical reaction called love.  

One by one, as her colleagues started to leave, her boss glanced at her. She was filing some documents.

“Don’t you want to go home?” he asked.
“I will but once I am done. Initially, I was dying to be indoors but when I thought of the soppy love-sick atmosphere that would greet me on my way back, I realized that I’d rather stay here,” she mused.
“Ah! A cynic, are we?” he grinned and left her to get on with her job.

She left her office and stood at the bus-stop. She put on her ear-phones and just when she was looking at her iPod menu to select a playlist, a voice greeted her from behind, “Hey! Your bus left just two minutes ago. You’ll probably have to wait for quite some time till another one stops by.”

She turned to look at him. She did not know who he was but she recognized him. He used to wait at the same bus-stop as her and she had often seen him in the evenings. However, she was surprised that he seemed to know the details of the bus she had to board.

“Don’t worry. I am not a stalker,” he laughed, as if he had read her thoughts.

She gave him a sheepish smile and pretended to be engrossed in listening to music. She was in no mood to strike a conversation with this stranger. As she closed her eyes, humming the lyrics of the song in her mind, he tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey! Your bus is here,” he pointed. “You don’t want to miss it this time.”

She opened her eyes and looked up. Yes, there it was! She hopped on to the bus and got inside. The bus was unusually empty. She occupied the window-seat and stared at him. He caught her looking at him and smiled. 
“Thank you,” she mouthed, as the bus started to leave. He waved back at her. She kept staring at the bus-stop till it disappeared from sight. She suddenly felt good.

The old song faded into the background and now her ears were filled with the Beatles crooning, “All you need is love; all you need is love; all you need is love, love; love is all you need.” There was a smile on her face as her heart skipped a beat. Yes, love was in the air. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Just Another Day (Flash Fiction)

She sat at the bar, sipping her usual Tequila Sunrise. It was her fourth drink. As the music screamed in her ears, lascivious lovers occupied the floor, dancing to the tunes of their passionate desires. Colourful lights glared at her as she refused to leave the darkest corners of her heart. They just blinked and watched her crawling further and further inside her numb soul.

He stood in a corner, frowning distastefully at the seemingly happy couples. The ashes of his cigarettes were scattered on the floor in the same manner as the invisible shattered pieces of his broken heart. Refusing to be seduced by the boisterous ambiance of the place, he decided to call it a night and head home.

His careless stride knocked her glass on his way out. His sullen face met her icy stare. Life was only taking a shot to open the closed doors.

"Watch where you're going, moron! You are not alone, you know?" she cried in disdain. He glanced at her dismayed face and couldn't help but give a vengeful smirk. "I believe you," he chuckled. "Perhaps, now,  I am not the only one."

She rolled her eyes as he walked away, unable to make sense of what he had just said. He glanced back one last time before leaving the pub. 

They were both staring at the broken piece of glass and his half-burned cigarette on the floor. She allowed a broken smile to appear on her face as he caught her gaze and, finally, left. As the song that was playing faded into the background, she closed her eyes and cursed under her breath. Tomorrow would just be the same day all over again. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Journey To Omnism

I have always found it difficult to define my religious identity. I am born in a devout Hindu family that follows a number of rituals and religious traditions. Even as a child I remember having issues folding my hands in prayer before a deity. I failed to understand how the picture of God was any different from the posters of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and why bowing my head before idols of Gods and Goddesses was the solution to all my problems!

I studied in a Christian school where I was introduced to the teachings of the Holy Bible. I think my parents were rather aghast when as a child I stated that my favourite festival was Christmas. Christmas was a wonderful time of the year in Kolkata! As children, my brother and I believed in Santa Claus and our parents played along by giving us gifts! Decorating the tree was fun. To top it all, there was no pooja at home on that day of the festival for us to wake up early! My parents were at home and we could go out wherever we wanted to celebrate. In contrast, I hated Holi because I was scared and disgusted by the way people rowdily played with colours. Diwali was fun as long as we were bursting crackers but eating vegetarian food and sitting through pooja was again not something I enjoyed.

I had Muslim friends and I looked forward to Eid because the next day I would be treated to delicious biryani!

Of course as I grew up, I realized that idol-worship and rituals is merely an attempt to bring metaphysical concepts into the physical world through symbols. I read up extensively on religion. I found myself in agreement with Karl Marx that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

I became an Agnostic and for some reason I did not like being stuck in a stance where I was neither denying nor accepting the existence of a Higher Being. Science was able to give me a lot of rational explanations but the evidence was not enough for me to declare myself strongly as an Atheist. The quest made me realize that science is merely an acceptance of what is. It is never a negation of what is not.

Buddhism and its doctrines fascinated me immensely. I think it was Buddhism that made me realize that religion is nothing but just a way of life. Despite knowing the impracticality behind some obsolete belief-systems, I have never been able to force myself to eat beef. I do not believe that eating beef is a sin but such strong has been the conditioning that it is something I have just not been able to try!

There was a period of time when I was a weak atheist. However, that phase did not last long. Every time I was in a fix, I found myself talking to myself mentally, “Please! Please get me out of this!” and each time a problem got solved, I felt the insides of my stomach jumping up and down with gratitude! Reflecting on these episodes made me feel as if I am the Goddess! Whenever we sit down to pray, isn’t it true that we are actually talking to our own self? This self can be given many names. It may be our ‘inner voice’, our ‘soul’ or ‘Higher Self’, or popularly known as ‘God’.
This reflection made me look at God as just a symbol that unifies some metaphysical concept with the physical world. I have observed that it is easier for people to access the intangible through tangible reality.

Even though I hate religious customs and traditions, I always find festivals to be fun and look forward to celebrating them. It is an excuse for the entire family to come together. Celebrating festivals from different religions increases community feelings because it helps one bond with friends and people from different backgrounds.

At one point of time, my Gtalk status would read, “I realized I am God when I sat down to pray and I realized that I am only talking to myself.” Through my course on hypnotherapy, I realized that the status I had put up merely as a quip actually had a lot more meaning attached to it. Even the Hindu religion talks of Brahma or the Creator. We are all Gods, Goddesses and Divine Beings in the sense that we are all creators of our own universe. The same world we inhabit stores different experiences for different individuals. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as Gods are nothing but symbols of creation, preservation and destruction. As individuals, we all create our world, preserve those parts we like and destroy the things we do not like. Myths and religious practices are mere metaphors to help us live our life and the fascinating aspect of Hinduism is that it actually follows Newton’s third law of motion – whether one reads the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, one always finds that for each and every action, right or wrong, there is always a consequence.

My mother is extremely religious and likes visiting temples and engaging in regular prayers. Initially, I had a lot of issues with that because I found it to be highly impractical! Today, I do not say anything. I have no issues if people worship one God, many Gods, a piece of rock or a Barbie doll! I seriously feel it is their spiritual journey and they will discover what they need to and move on, if they feel the need to do so, at their own pace. Recently I saw the movie "OMG! Oh My God!". I really liked Akshay Kumar's dialogue in the movie when he tells Paresh Rawal never to attempt uprooting people's faith - if they lose one faith, they automatically start seeking solace by believing in another.

Today, I would call myself an Omnist. I believe in all religions, including Atheism and science. I feel that as human beings, we have an unquenchable thirst for finding answers to innumerable questions. These answers can be found in several religions and I have no issues turning to any religion to find answers to end my soul-quest. Lastly, this post has not been written to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. It is merely an expression of my own spiritual or religious journey.