Wednesday, 26 July 2017

13 Reasons Why Not

To you who felt that the screams of your pain remained unheard,
And to you who needed a corpse to remember that you’re still alive,
Welcome to your tape…

Tape 1, Side A

I know life is not your favourite colour at the moment, and you are seeing everything in black and white, but honestly, even seeing things from just a black-and-white filter is better than being blind.
Personally, no colour will ever be brighter and purer than black and white. And black and white always merge to form shades of grey. It’s not easy recognizing people as warriors fighting a battle every single day, doing the best they can to not let their dark side overshadow their good, but everyone is a fighter. So are you! We’re all fighting battles every day. It’s alright if some days we don’t emerge as winners. Tomorrow we shall try again.

Tape 1, Side B

The world is not simple enough to just accommodate black, white and shades of grey. Everything began with a white palette and then you were handed the paint-brush. Even if you have lost sight of it, the paint-brush is still with you.
It’s still your life, your easel, your soul. Do it up with any and as many colours as you want! How you choose to paint your life is completely your choice!

Tape 2, Side A

Do you remember that clear night when you lay in bed and stared out of your window, gazing at the stars shining in the sky?  
Stars are nothing but carefully bandaged lights, aren’t they? Just mark all the memories that hurt you, so that they can become the stars that enchant you…

Tape 2, Side B

Stargazing in the city is a rare feat. Just paint your bedroom ceiling with the starry skies and the heavens above! You can then live under a dazzling sky every night.
Or just get out of your room and paint the town red. Red would suit the town more than your wrists, my love!

Tape 3, Side A

It’s alright to question. It’s alright to wonder. It’s okay to just talk. Shout if you must, scream if you need to, but please speak. I know you don’t want them to hear you, but there is always someone who’s ready to listen. There is always someone who’ll want to listen to you, not to a map of cassette tapes. You are more than a map of crisscrossed pain pathways. You are so much more than that!

Tape 3, Side B

I know you think that you are not enough. You feel you did not matter enough for them to save. No matter how hard you tried, you never were enough, even when you did your very best.
Guilt is not what you need to satiate, honey. You matter immensely. You are so much more than just ‘enough’.

Tape 4, Side A


We’ve all had some hot chocolate friends. And then there were the caffeine-addicts. You’ll also come across the white-collared whiskey-drinkers or the ones who are perennially on a juice-cleanse.
People come and go in pairs, threes, and fours, and so does pain. No one is meant to last forever. Even pain will not last forever.

Tape 4, Side B

Life is filled with joy and the chaos of happiness. Life is also sad from time to time. How else would we be able to appreciate the good times if we haven’t ever experienced anything bad?
Life’s a mixture of good and bad times. That’s just what life is. Life cannot be used as an excuse to not love yourself. Life cannot be used as an excuse to just give up.

Tape 5, Side A

Life is like a novel with many chapters. Some good, some bad. There are some great stories in the book of your life. Your laughter is like music to the ears, every time you speak, it’s like poetry oozing out of your mouth, your entire mind is a museum and every thought of yours is a work of art.
If only you saw yourself through my eyes…

Tape 5, Side B

You are so beautiful! Crimson love is present in your blood, and it is love that flows through your veins, making you the most loving person in the entire universe.
Your beautiful heart is like the crown jewel of your entire being treating everyone it meets with compassion and care. If only you could treat yourself with the same amount of love that you bestow on others…

Tape 6, Side A

You are like light. If you didn’t glow, darkness would engulf all in its path and instruct many to just live half-hearted lives.
Without your shine, they would be comatose; just lost in a world of life, a living grave of their childhood hopes and dreams. You are the light they need to let the night turn into day.

Tape 6, Side B

You are the light synonymous with life. It would be a shame if you would not love yourself for shining bright.
Go ahead. Radiate. You are not meant to burn.

Tape 7, Side A

You are meant to live another day, my dear light. I see you wandering at night staring at the stars. There is an unknown puzzle that you seek to solve, a journey that you hope to sight…Hiding from the day-star and only conversing with the moonlight, why do you not wait for dawn to arrive?
Let the Sun be proud of its progeny, after all?

Love,
Someone who genuinely believes you’re worth it. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Devastation

Do you remember the last time when you felt completely devastated? Last night? Or today at the breakfast-table? Or maybe during the last flight home? Did you feel like a colossal mess? Did you feel like killing yourself? Did you want to just fall asleep and never wake up?

I guess it happens to everyone. I know it happens to me, so I am sure it must be happening to you as well. Please don’t make me feel alone by letting me believe that I am the only one who goes through this…It’s alright. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

We all die a little every day – you’ll realize that when you walk into a corporate office and see people who, as kids, dreamed of being astronauts, writers and musicians are stuck in the monotonous, boring 9 to 5 jobs. We all kill a little every day; and sometimes we just assist others in the killing process. How many times have you crushed the dreams of your loved ones by telling them they are unachievable just because you meant well, and wanted to save them from failure? It’s alright. Don’t feel guilty about being a killer, and don’t feel hurt because you’ve been a victim. Dying is an indispensable part of life, as is causing death.

Just go for it. Buy that dress even if it shows your less flattering curves. So what if you feel that you look ugly just because you have those few extra pounds? Go finish that half-read novel. So what if you get dark circles? Go order the extra toppings on your pizza. So what if you’re broke? Go sing that song aloud. So what if you’ve got a terrible voice? Because what if that part of you that’s living today dies tomorrow?

Today was a bad day. But tomorrow will be better. How do I know? Because I like to believe that whatever happens, happens for a reason. And things will be the way they are meant to be. Go cry your heart out. No one is judging you. Or maybe they are, but do their judgments really matter? You know they don’t! Go send that reckless text. No one’s stopping you. It may all be for nothing, but at least you got what you needed to out of your system. Go walk that extra mile because you are only what you think of yourself to be. Don’t let others’ opinions of you stop you from advancing towards your goals.

So, when was the last time you felt completely devastated? Today? Yesterday? During that last conversation? It doesn’t matter. You’re going to feel devastated yet again. There are so many times when I’ve felt that things could not get any worse, but they actually have! And, I also remember times when I thought the future was absolutely bleak and hopeless, but things suddenly changed for the better. You’re going to die yet again. You’re going to kill yet again. Some dreams need to die, and all wishes need not come true. Some experiences will force you to kill certain bits of you, but never kill the parts of you that you cannot live without. Devastated is beautiful; because the last time I checked, broken crayons still colour. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Pieces

She sits down on the floor and makes no move. She sits and does nothing. She knows she wants to think, but she just can’t. She has been paralyzed, but with what?  The blade goes back and forth, back and forth. Back and forth, it makes a sound, almost like some melody. It hurts. It pains and pains. It pains a lot. She smiles. She keeps feeling the pain, and the pain keeps intensifying. She laughs.

Her entire room is dark. She has been sitting down far too long. Today’s the day, she decides. She thinks that this is it. Today is the day. And then, it suddenly stops. No more sound, no more melody. There is red around her…Staining red…But she is still able to get up. Her wrist oozes the most stunning vibrant red, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Turns out today wasn’t the day after all…

She gets up from the floor as the sunlight falls on her face almost mocking her existence. With a smile, she covers her face, and with a long-sleeved kurta, her scars and steps out to brave yet another day.

There’s something about her, something that’s strange, and something that’s unique. She does not appear broken, but he can hear the shrill cries inside her. She seems strong, she seems happy, but he can see the numbness in her eyes, and hear the pain in her voice. She’s probably made a deal with her demons, and yes, they have left her alone, but he realizes they took something with them in exchange – a part of her soul. Each time, she feels love, the crater in her soul longs to be filled.

Nobody ever sees her for what she is. No one misses a part of her. But, there are times, when she does miss some old part of herself. He notices her looking around for pieces. He wishes he could paste them back. Tiny pieces that may seem insignificant to the world, but they still belong to her, and she wants them because they are hers to take back, hers to place back. There are moments when she stands to search for them and place them back, and then the reality hits her, and it hits him too with harder force. He can see the pain behind those gorgeous eyes of hers. He wants to be there to fill in the blank spaces that she leaves behind every time she walks. He wants to be the shine of her eyes, the strength of her voice, and the reason for her happiness.

He wants her to feel loved, to feel happy from within, and become the symbol of hope and tranquillity that she is capable of becoming. He sees her for what she is – someone born to lead, not to lurk in the shadows. She is a being of purity and integrity.

He knows that she can cradle the existence of this small world of theirs one day, but today, he lets himself be consumed to bring light upon her so that she herself is able to shine one day. He knows that by doing so, he’ll be losing a part of himself, but for her, it will be totally worth it. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

A Note From The Rain

 This is for anyone who feels like continuing to hold on to something that Life wants them to let go of.



Hello!

When you want to hold on to your dream or a love for anything, and you feel like the whole world wants you to walk away from it, but you want to stay, I know how it feels. And I think everyone does…

I know you feel like the X that you drew on a map so many years ago seems further than ever…I know you feel like you cannot appreciate yourself no matter how hard you try because no matter how much effort you put in, they never seem enough…I know all these things because I recognize that look in your eyes – the look of tamed frustration of holding on to something that does not want to be held on to…I too understand what it feels like to burn with the fiery desires that one has the capability to possess and get burnt...I too understand what it feels like to have that heart made of fire-wood have its flames doused by the sudden shower of rain. I too have many questions, doubts and uncertainties. Questions that seemingly have no answer, doubts that want to pull at your strings of hope until they snap, and uncertainties that wish you would move on to something more stable.

You are not alone. And together, you and I, may have a solution; we may revel in entropic peace. Bear with me, the rain falls through my heart too, and I am simply trying to stop it from crumbling.

I feel it is the literal rain, an accompaniment to the drizzle of ideas and the hurricane of emotions that always makes melancholy more poetic than it actually is. Or, maybe, it’s because when life pulls the trigger, it is your own tears that comprise the rain that falls as dead bullets. That is not terribly surprising for the Universe thrives on War, and Life just so happens to be your personalised battle-field. In many ways, you have known all this time that a white murder was not too far along. The death of a dream you dreamed, a love you loved, a wish you wished or a belief you believed. Loss in any form is agonizing. That is where the rain comes handy. According to me, it gives the most beautiful explanation of this particular situation where you can feel yourself break; but it is not a clean break, it is not a clean fracture…It’s louder. It is the sound of rain in the most powerful thunderstorm you’ve been trapped in. Thousands of raindrops on roses, but they resemble thorns. Oh and the rain is strong; the drops relentlessly hit you, and the feeling is devastating. They shatter a part of you into billions of tiny pieces that you cannot put back together by yourself.

I know you wish things were different. Everyone does. But you have to be strong and you have to keep holding on, if it’s what you believe in. Hold on, despite the pain that comes from the ropes cutting into your skin. Hold on, in spite of the storm tearing at the billowing sails of your ship. Hold on, without a care for what the world has to say to you because that’s the kind of person you are. You drew the world around yourself because you believed in it. And you cannot let ‘Life’ tear you apart. Hold on not for the insecurities you have of the implications, hold on for the connection you possess with your dream. Hold on, not for false hope, hold on for true love. Hold on because you know of nothing else but holding on until you change Life’s mind. It is possible and it’s not. We have to be open to all possibilities. But, hope is never lost. Hold on to it. Hold on to yourself.

If you have to let go of something, let go of the questions. One day, they shall be answered. Let go of doubts. Your doubts can someday be rectified. Don’t doubt yourself, your fire shall burn again if you let hope fuel it. I know it’s hard right now, but in case things don’t work out, I promise that uncertainty can be made certain. You may have to live with the pain for a while, but wear it proudly. It simply makes you more human. Let go of the despair and remind yourself to love and love and love yourself. Hold on to the power of your heart, and feel it beat not just for itself, but for the love of your dream. Hold on to that. That’s all that matters.

Try to let yourself smile a little when it rains.

Love,
Someone who knows exactly how it feels.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

I Do? Do I?

For the past one and a half years, on an average, I seem to have got the news of at least six or seven of my close friends and acquaintances getting married. Marriage is a beautiful thing and I cannot even begin to express how happy each one of these updates make me…However, that bubble of happiness just bursts a couple of moments later when the next question pops up by the so-called well-wishers, “So, when are you going to tie the knot?”

I have had people give me such horrific looks of disdain when I explain to them that I don’t want to get married until I fulfil some of my career aspirations. They find it so unbelievable that some of them have the audacity to ask in return, “Are you sure that’s what you really want? Wouldn’t you want your family to find you a nice boy? Your parents are getting old; don’t you want to fulfil your responsibilities towards them as a daughter?”

It takes centuries for mind-sets to change. How do I actually answer the question: but, is that what you really want? 

Answering that question has now become obligatory, instead of voluntary especially because these questions aren’t hurled anymore from just aunties and grannies. Women younger than me are asking this question to me and to their little sisters and peers. 

If we study the theory of human evolution, centuries ago, cave-women were called gatherers – their instincts compelled them to find the toughest, strongest man (the hunter) who they knew they could have a family with, and who would provide for them and protect them. We live in 2017 in a modern world, and while we still respond highly to our primitive instincts, do we still need to rely on a man to complete us? Of course, to add to the noise, we have the biological clock ticking on us. We don’t want to be too late! 

Love makes us do crazy things. Usually, for most of us, logic fails miserably when our instincts call. Within seconds I have seen independent, fierce young women becoming this timid, soft person who needs to be looked after. 

But we’ve evolved so much with time – why are we still letting our instincts get the better of us? I know of women who are highly-qualified still having a closed mind-set when it comes to marriage. Don’t we have enough societal pressure to last us a life-time – waist-size, sexuality, college, religion, work-life balance – didn’t we get enough choices to make growing up that now we have yet another one pushed our way. The lavish way a family celebrates marriage, why can’t they celebrate achievement of career goals in the same manner?

A few days ago, I met a beautiful twenty-five year old girl who told me she’s never been in a relationship, and now she is too scared to fall in love because it could be years and years till she finally finds ‘the one’, instead meeting someone pre-approved by parents and hopefully adjusting according to his whims and fancies seemed the smart thing to do. I did not know whether to give her a pity hug, or to just tell her that she’s got it all wrong. 

Unfortunately, she isn’t the only woman who thinks that way. I know so many of them who follow the same mantra. Ladies, what happened to living life one day at a time?

Surprise yourself for a change, take a shot. Even if it does not work, at least it was a good learning experience. Fall in love with yourself and spare the pressure. What you cannot find in yourself, you will never find it in another person, so don’t go forging a relationship just to fill some void. It won’t ever get filled that way. You are beautiful now, and you’ll still be gorgeous ten years down the line. 

I am not against the institution of marriage, but I believe it should be for the right reasons.

Let your soul-mate find you. You will know when the time is right. Silence your instincts and use that energy to build an empire you can, perhaps, later cherish. 

Regular life is boring, why force it on yourself? Surely, you did not take birth to experience monotony. No one knows for sure what lies after death, and while there are many fascinating theories floating around, the truth is that you just have this one life. Do you want to waste it by being boring and scared? 

Silence the noise around, and listen to your heart – you are just 1 in 7.3 billion people. Be sure to leave your mark. Remember this the next time you are forced to bow down to the wishes and expectations of others. 

You can always do better. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Faceless Stories

Everyone has their own reason for waking up every morning, or “a reason for being”. The Japanese call this “ikigai”. All of us have so many different reasons for jumping out of bed (or, as in my case, crawling out). It could be a compulsion to meet the minimum attendance percentage required in college (most college-students’ cases!), or, maybe, to just meet up with friends, to take up a new challenge that life throws our way – carpe dium. Reasons could be many – perhaps, to just hug your parent, or cuddle with your pet, or even crank up some silly music and goof around in your PJs. Maybe, you just like to see the sun rise and hear the birds chirp. The dawn gives you hope, light beyond the dark, and a chance to start afresh – a new beginning. Since the chance can be grabbed, why not?? Even though we might not all be morning persons, there is always that one reason in our life that gives us the belief and the hope of another day. It’s the belief we take with us to sleep at night and hold on to – and that is how life goes on…Really. Days, weeks, months, years pass by for these little reasons that make us “want” to wake up to a bright, new day. Reasons that keep us alive. These “ikigais” are something that just makes us so much more similar to each other than we realize…These “ikigais” are the faceless stories that are common not just to you and me, but also to stories we do not perceive, or realistically, choose not to perceive.

Last month, I had the unbelievably amazing opportunity to attend a workshop in Rishikesh and the lessons I learnt there – I could not have learnt them anywhere else. Amongst the various life-lessons the workshop taught me, one was that no matter where you go, which language you speak – everyone is one and the same...Flesh and bones…With the same hopes and dreams, same reasons to wake up every morning, same fears and insecurities. We are all watching the same movies, listening to the same songs and fighting the same battles.

Let me now get back to the title of my post – Faceless Stories. These stories are merely just every single person around us. The crowds that we get lost in, in shopping malls or in the middle of a crowded street. They include our batch-mates and our colleagues. Our parents. Our teachers. Even the celebrities we adore and worship. How much do we really know about their lives? Have we ever really stepped into their shoes and seen for ourselves what living their life felt like? How many times, before placing a judgment, have we stopped to ask ourselves what that person’s life has been like? Forget about each and every day, have we ever lived even one day in his life? If not, then, what gives us the power to decide for ourselves what ‘might’ that person be like, or what his life ‘might’ be like. We paint a face what in reality is nothing more than a faceless story…A novel that we are NOT the author of. This serves as the building block to all the pandemonium that we see around us, today. Clouded judgements and influenced perceptions.

Being absolutely non-judgmental may not be possible for all of us. All I feel is that – yes, we may be different from each other, but then, if all of us are different together, then in that, we are all similar. So yes – we are in all entireties, the same. I do not ask you to not judge. I ask you to not judge people by your own standards. Everyone around you is trying to hold on to their “ikigais”, fulfil their dreams, fight their demons, win their battles - and all unbeknownst to you. 

Faceless Stories - Scenario 1:
As you walk home after an exhausting day, a cute seven-year-old skips along the pavement holding her mother’s hand. You smile to yourself and say, “What a cute little girl!” and then something else catches your mind. Little did you know that the cute seven-year-old won her first poem recitation competition in school that day. She was given a certificate and everyone clapped for her. The certificate is now safely kept in a pink folder in her school bag that is slung across her mother’s shoulders. Her mother cannot help but smile a proud, little smile. The mother is reminded of her school-days. She remembers her days in school when she was great in debates and is so happy that her daughter is following her footsteps and enjoying public speaking. She can’t wait to reach home and announce via Facebook proudly before the world about how her daughter won a prize.
At home, the cute, little girl snuggles in bed clutching her teddy bear and soon drifts off into a dream world where she fantasizes about receiving ten more certificates and trophies that’ll adorn her bedroom, and more claps, more hugs, more Facebook statuses, more praises.

Faceless Stories - Scenario 2:
Your boss has just announced your promotion in front of the entire office. As everyone is busy cheering and congratulating you, you observe a colleague, who is a good friend of yours, slightly moving to a corner, with no smile on his face, fidgeting with his phone, and you immediately realize, “He wanted this promotion. Now he’s jealous of me.” Your colleague notices you looking at him and smiles, but you can make out it is forced. You make up your mind to stay away from him as far as possible. He has no idea about your decision. Just a while ago, he found out that the girl he really loved is marrying another man and he’s heartbroken. However, he does not want to share his bad news with you at a time when you are celebrating your success. He decides to shake off his grief and join in the merrymaking even though he does not feel like it. He is happy that he at least has a friend at work.

Faceless Stories - Scenario 3:
Your date just stood you up. As you sit by yourself, blinking your eyes rapidly to stop the tears from flowing, you suddenly hear a delightful scream! The woman on the table in front of you has just been proposed by the man of her dreams, and she's said 'yes'. You stare at the happy couple in anger and mutter to yourself, "Life's not fair! How can they rub their happiness on my face." You don't notice the sigh of relief on that woman's face. You do not see the creases on her face, caused due to incessant nights of worry. For the last ten nights, she has not slept a wink. "How do I tell him that I am pregnant with his child?", "Will he accept me and the baby?", "What do I do now?" - that is all she's been thinking. Finally, she can have a restful sleep tonight. Her baby is going to have a father figure after all. Life's good again. The man too can see nothing around him; he's too engrossed staring into the eyes of the woman he loves. It's time for him to become responsible now, take charge. He cannot behave like a child any more, because an actual child is going to come into his life - his own baby. He just cannot believe it!

Faceless Stories - Scenario 4:
You're having a great time with your friends. All of you have had a few too many drinks. Your friend insists on driving the car, and even though you know it isn't right,  you let him. The music is loud and all of you are singing along, having the time of your lives. You do not notice the man crossing the road, and by the time you do, it's too late. He's gone, and your friends just drive past the empty roads without even turning back to look at him. "He seemed poor...Was probably homeless...No one will miss him...Let's not get into any trouble...Run! Drive fast!" and you and your friends have escaped. It's been a week and life goes on for all of you. There are a few moments plagued with guilt, but nothing so extreme that you aren't able to focus on the task at hand. You just shrug off the ill feeling and get back to work. Back in an old dilapidated house, a visually impaired father is desperately waiting for his son's arrival. The neighbours feel his son abandoned him because taking care of the sick, old man was no easy task. The old man hears these whispers every day and wonders what is it that he did that drove his son away. 

There are so many more faceless stories just like these. Everyone around us, making their way home by the roads they know best - roads that we probably would have got lost on, till we made a phone call and asked them to repeat the address again...Because everyone around you has a life outside of yours, complete with their own thoughts, feelings and emotions. You could potentially just be a passing figure on the street to them. Every random passerby you encounter is living a life as vivid and as complex as yours - populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk…
Let them write their own novel, a novel that you do not need to write a book review of!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Let There Be Light

Suzanne Collins may be widely known for the Hunger Games trilogy, but years before she became popular, I remember being a fan of another series written by her - the Underland Chronicles. And I really liked the series! Now, in the Underland, a world within our world (or rather below it, to be precise), the word “light” is synonymous with the word “life.” This was years ago, but the only reason I mention this reminiscence is because I have only lately realized that for the current optimist in me, this was one of the earlier forms of positive reinforcement I encountered. In the words of Stephen Hawking, “However bad life may seem, where there is life, there is hope.”
So the formula goes:
Life = Light
Life = Hope
Light = Hope
Ever since we slid out of that primordial slime, our unifying cry has been for more light. Light in so many different forms – sunlight, torch-light, candle-light, neon, incandescent lights that banish the darkness from our caves to illuminate our roads, and the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night match at Eden Gardens. Little tiny flash-lights for those books we read under the covers when we’re actually supposed to be fast asleep. Light is more than watts and foot-candles.
Light is a metaphor. Light stands for knowledge, light is life, light is light…
When we were children, we were afraid of the dark at some point or the other. While psychologists believe fear of darkness is not a natural fear (after all, we live in dark wombs from the time of conception to birth), it is still a very valid fear – darkness stands for the unknown. It stands for oblivion. Time passes and we are no more children. We grow up. Monsters under our bed turn into monsters in our heads. Perhaps that is why, more times than often – we are afraid of the light. And what could be sadder? We are always on this never-ending pursuit of happiness, yet we keep finding reasons to lose our way. Hope is everything. Hope is the light that guides us home, to happiness.
Hope is being able to see that light despite the despair and darkness. Yet we still fear the uncertain, the unknown. Earlier, we feared the darkness, and as we grow old, many of us start fearing the light. It’s hard to say which fear is worse – a child’s fear of the dark, or an adult’s fear of the light? Or perhaps, both are just the same. Nevertheless, what’s important is that we move past these fears. Yet we seem unable to do that. Why?
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore had said, and I quote, “Happiness could be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”
This thought is iterated and reiterated throughout the series. Let’s take Ron Weasley and the Deluminator as an example - the Deluminator did not just turn off the lights, it was a beacon of hope. The light showed him the way; like a lighthouse would to a ship on a stormy night lost at sea, or a lantern to a passerby on a foggy evening. The main point I am trying to make here is that Ron Weasley was not afraid to let the light show him the way. For anyone who wonders why light symbolizes hope, this would make perfect sense…
Because light is what we wake up to every single day – to sunlight and a new beginning. It has been said that with the flight of the morning, through a heart of darkness shall always emerge the light.
If there is only one lesson to be learnt from a lifetime on this planet – I feel it would be this: light shall always trump darkness. I see it as a universal truth, if you may. A single candle is illumination enough to show you the way. Hope. Hope could mean the “light at the end of the tunnel”, hope could refer to a “driving force”, but hope is a matter of perspective. I like to believe that hope is everything. Lumos > Nox. Where there is life, there is light.

“For, the world may be broken but hope is not crazy!”
- John Green

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Lesson On Love

"I love your shoes... I love you...what are you comparing me to? Your shoes?"
- Jackie Shroff on Koffee With Karan

People complain that the word “love” is used very loosely these days…At one point of time, I did have an issue with that, but these days I feel that the laws of love cannot be the same for everyone. Popular conception may have restricted the usage of the term "love" only while referring to couples, but why do we only need to perceive love in only one particular manner?
As human beings, we are born to love and to be loved, and it is alright, I feel, if love has different perceptions, manifestations, and expressions. Love is an incredibly powerful experience and those who’ve been in love can vouch for the same. Of course, the path of love is not an easy one.
Falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard work and for some, a bit of a challenge. Like many before have already said, love is the hardest thing we do…But it is also the best thing we do.
Love is an empty house that we move into when we need a place of comfort and security. However, love does not always prove to be a good home. Just like homes have dark corners where we aren’t willing to go for reasons we cannot fathom, or awkward spaces where we cannot reach; in the same way, love can have unfamiliar nooks for years.
In the beginning, we view everything with rose-tinted glasses. We are sure that if we make love look awesome, it will feel awesome. We don’t bother with the dark corners and focus and concentrate on what is in front of us. We decorate it our way so that it looks great, to make ourselves feel at ease. However, even when love is a comfortable home, it’s never a wise idea to stay at home all the time. Sometimes, we need to explore those unvisited rooms, those untouched territories.
Love has a tendency to dawdle. It does not believe in operating smoothly and ensuring that everything runs like clockwork. There are times when it disappears or goes missing, leaving us, the parties involved, to just ad-lib awkwardly.
Love is lazy and shirks from doing homework. While there is no end to the amount of love we really crave, how much love do we actually need? Love is an ungrateful, entitled brat. Sometimes, love hates intimacy. It hasn’t attended all its lessons. It blanks out when it has to perform. Most of the time though, love likes togetherness. Being in love may be a “wow” feeling but many times, we realize that it’s just not working for us! Love can suffocate us, it can make us feel claustrophobic. We keep remembering the warm, fuzzy feelings we experienced in the beginning and hold on tighter, embrace it harder without realizing that love needs to make space. Sometimes, allegiances may remain one-sided for years. Love may underestimate the amount of space it needs. Love needs some amount of distance to sustain itself. It needs to breathe, to run, to go away so that it can always return to earnest, safe embraces and the desired intimacy.
Saying “I love you” is only the first step. The steps that follow can be a bit of a struggle. Each day, as we move ahead, love changes colours. Sometimes, love is expressed in the form of anger. At other times, it moulds into anxiety. We also have a tendency to destroy love each day. We chase it away. We stop ourselves from acknowledging it, from recognizing it, because who knows, what it may ask from us. Many of us are threatened by love. We sometimes resent the fact that love does not come our way in the package that we expected. What is wrong with us? Doesn’t love mean dealing with differences, accepting contradictions and celebrating diversity?
In love, we become the keeper of each other’s memories. He may tell you about the cousin who bullied him incessantly when he was a kid and then acted as if nothing happened in later years, leaving you to deal with the bully when he comes visiting. You may tell him about the Sunday outings with your father when you were a child.
One of you will be the dreamer. The other will be fantastic with logistics. But the one with fabulous logistics skills will realize that she too has dreams of her own. She’ll hand back his dreams to him, and charge ahead to pursue hers.
You will witness the other person fighting lost battles. You’ll want to rescue them, you will be judgmental, and you will tear each other down. You will bask in glory when his dreams come true. You will feel left out.
Love can feel uncomfortable. She will never be good at being ill. She’ll be cranky and refuse to see the doctor. He’ll have no clue on how to deal with her illness. Instead of being useful, he will scold her when he discovers that she stashed away the medicines as soon as she felt slightly better, instead of finishing the prescribed course. Love involves a bit of yelling. It’s natural because when she are weak, the anxiety in her lover is triggered. Love makes us vulnerable. How can it not?
Love requires patience, sometimes a great deal of it. We need years to get into the skin of love and wear it comfortably. Love has childhood issues.
Love teaches us to trust in different ways. It helps us discover mistrust despite love. It stuns us. Love assists us in taking some steps back. Trust always has to be earned, it is never served on a platter. One of you will always be better than the other when it comes to handling trust issues. One of you may be better than the other at handling money. One of you may abstain completely from social media, while the other could be a Facebook junkie! One of you will thrive in clutter, while the other person needs everything well-organized and clean. One of you will get along fine with watchmen, plumbers, taxi drivers and carpenters, while the other will be ill-mannered and rude. Lead by example. Positions can and should be reversed from time to time. 
Love is the union of two souls. Love brings two people together to form a world of their own. However, the most significant aspect of any relationship is the realization that the two people who came together are still different persons, separate entities. They have their own rhythm, priorities, pleasures and passions. They have to fulfill their own separate dreams - dreams that may come in the way of them being together...
That does not mean love is over. In fact, love is the exact opposite of that. True love wants the lover to be absolutely liberated. It means that she’ll be separate from him and he will be separate from her. They need not continue walking on the same path – sometimes their roads may diverge and things will change, but it does not mean that love has gone.
Love always reinvents itself. It resuscitates.  Love demands diversification. Spread your wings and fly, and allow your lover to do the same. Love more and more, love yourself, love others, make love in new places, in new ways because no matter which path you choose or which destination you wish to reach, you’ll end up rediscovering love in these new spaces. Never close yourself to love, because…
While love is one of the hardest things that we do, love is the best thing we’ll ever do.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Far Far Away

After ages, I am reconnecting with my love for Neil Gaiman. Paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, he wrote, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

I love fairy-tales. Some people say for a twenty-seven year old, my love for fairy-tales actually borders on obsession. Somewhere I feel they’ve cast a spell on me that does not have or need a cure. To many, this may seem immature, weird or even childish and I have had my fair share of “Aren’t you too old for…?” questions, but I don’t mind. Really. For there is no feeling that I would ever choose over the magic and hope you feel running through your veins when the shoe fits Cinderella or when Sleeping Beauty awakens or when Wendy flies for the first time.

J.M. Barrie said it best when he said, “All the world is made of faith, and trust and pixie dust.” This just happens to be all we need too. But we let reality get in the way, and I wish we didn’t let that happen. I do not see why Neverland has to be left in the fairy-dust. And I most definitely do not understand why we cannot keep the hope we once had as children alive and afire. Like it has been said, growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional. What happened? Why did people have to go from loving fairy-tales as children to mocking them as teenagers? Don’t tell me, “Life happened. We’ve changed and we’re now moving past our former selves – we don’t know us anymore.” Yes, life is frustrating, chaotic and sometimes unbearable, and we cannot really do much about it. Dark clouds block the sunshine often for me as well – but what I do to pull myself out of this is wish ‘Once Upon a Dream’ like Aurora or ‘Let it Go’ like Elsa. The point is fairy-tales do not deny the existence of heartache, despair or sorrow, but they do deny defeat, failure and unhappy endings.

The lessons we learn from fairy-tales are no different from the lessons learnt for life. Yes, you do not need to believe in poisoned apples or pumpkin carriages but believe in the themes that these stories are rooted in. Fairy-tales, in all entireties, are not an escapade from realistic situations – our world is not unlike theirs, in which both good and evil exist. The difference could perhaps be that we don’t have magic or a Fairy Godmother to save us from the clutches of evil. But, perhaps, we’re so accustomed to being Muggles that we do not realize that magic exists. A good heart, a spoonful of courage to use kindness and goodness wisely and humour – that’s all the magic one really needs.

Once upon a time – for that is how all stories should begin – your story began, truer than true. And they all lived happily ever after – for that is how all stories should end – and yours will too. Life is a story with good parts and bad. How would you know happiness without knowing the sad?
If you do not like the story you are in, leave and find your own happily ever after. The best thing about fairy-tales is probably how applicable they still are in our lives – of course not literally, but metaphorically or symbolically – and how we are so oblivious to it all…
It may have been centuries since Little Red Riding Hood took on the Big Bad Wolf or Dorothy defeated the Wicked Witch of the West, but “Fear” has not changed. We were frightened as children, we’re possibly more frightened now. What frightens us today might not be what frightened us back then, but it is just a different wolf, a different witch. And we still need to battle them.

“Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time and perhaps earlier, are the best means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.”
- Jack Zipes

I feel this is what seems to be the most sensible approach to feeling better about the world that we live in – if we could only believe in making our own magic.

"Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget what precisely happened but if a story touches you, it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind you rarely visit."
- Neil Gaiman

One of my favourite metaphors is the following:
Just like the Baby Bear’s porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the universe is “just right”. Happy endings need not exist just in fairy-tales. I love fairy-tales and while I may not believe in magic mirrors, or Fairy Godmothers granting me the most exquisite glass slippers (shoes are quite expensive in real life!) but I do believe in the idea of hope and love, which runs from the end of one story to the beginning of another – the idea that happiness does exist. Love believes when you don’t. That is all the motivation and validation I usually need to get on with my life. The ‘bare’ necessities if you know what I mean!

To wrap this all up with a flick of a wand, I wish you all find the same joy and inspiration that I do from fairy-tales.  Fairy-tales have the beauty of always giving one a simpler, newer perspective of things, a transformation of ideology from “I wish” to “I will” and a belief in trust, kindness, goodness, hope and love.

I wish you all Hakuna Matata and lots and lots of love! There is life beyond the stone tower in which you’ve enclosed yourself. Set yourself free, and go seek your kingdom of Far-Far-Away!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Chrysalis

Don’t we all love butterflies? Well, maybe not all – I know my brother was scared of butterflies as a kid (yes, laugh all you want!) – but I’ve always been inspired by them to a huge extent. The first tattoo I got was of a butterfly…

I really feel that Nature is the best teacher. I mean – look at the butterflies! Magnificently hued and the objects of everyone’s envy! But then again, I wonder: what do we envy? We envy their beauty, we envy the fact that they blossomed from relatively ugly, green caterpillars to luminescent self-propelled flowers, if I may put it that way, and we envy everything we cannot be and cannot do. Human nature…

Just some time ago, while reading random facts online, I found out that butterflies have short life-spans. Yes, the longest may be a year, but their average life-span is a mere five days to two weeks. When I read this, I remember thinking to myself that this was yet another example of the law of impermanence in life. Nothing lasts forever. Now, that is both good news and bad news. What really was the point of being so beautiful if your life was merely fourteen days long, at the very best? Ironically, two weeks later, I got the answer to my question. Mother Nature’s mysterious ways cannot be undone; these fractals of our amazing world are here to inspire all of us, if only we paid a little more attention.

The butterfly counts not the days or weeks it has, but the moments it has, and that is time enough…
Today a caterpillar, tomorrow a butterfly. We should never lose hope of what tomorrow might bring. Despite all the heartache, sorrow, pain and insecurities, we are all butterflies waiting to happen. Just when the caterpillar thought life was over, cocooned in darkness and misery, it transformed into a butterfly.

The caterpillar thought, “It is the end of the world.”
The butterfly realized, “It is the beginning of the world.”

The struggles, the battles you fight today, prepare you for tomorrow. They help you develop the strength and make you realize that you need to fly. You might feel that you are about to fall, but butterflies can’t see their wings, can they? They can’t see how beautiful they are, but people around them can. People are like that. We really are butterflies waiting to happen. People are like butterflies and the world is our chrysalis.

A month ago, I found a dead butterfly. It’s not the most common sight. Incandescent green wings, unimaginably beautiful…Dead…It really is not every day that you find a dead butterfly. Until I held it in my hands, its frayed wings, I could have lived in the bubble that butterflies are fairies that come out of nowhere, entertain us with their beauty and disappear into nothingness soon thereafter. But no life is unfair…and fair: an integration of happiness and sadness; change. Change is the only constant. And probably, that is the biggest lesson we can learn from a butterfly.

If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. If nothing ever changed, clear, blue skies would not follow storms. If nothing ever changed, life would have no meaning.

Just like the butterflies, we will awaken in our own time. We really are just butterflies waiting to happen…

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Bubbles

It’s been almost five years since I’m writing here, sharing random thoughts, emotions and feelings with the world that stops by this space from time to time. Maintaining a regular blog had always been on my bucket-list of life, and only lately have I realized the need to actually check items off this list. I am lucky to have had a wonderful life so far (touch wood!) – a loving family, amazing friends, lots of magical moments – but nothing really lasts forever. Life goes on, until it ends. But what comes between these two polarities depends entirely upon us…And that is my minimalistic approach to life. I’ve tried to make mine count so far. The rest of the journey is still a long, long walk to go.

And because we all have a bucket-list – a list of certain expectations that we hold of life – I intend on checking items off of mine, or maybe, writing a few more chapters. After all, your life is your story. You are the author. You are the author of this never-ending novel of love, adventure, fun and all that you want and more! (And the owner to a bucket full of soap-water!)

Life’s the bubble you need to blow. Blow your own bubbles, and pop them if you want. That sums up really what life is in my eyes…That sums up what my thoughts on life are – my thoughts are bubbles that don’t go *pop*.

There are so many bubbles like my thoughts – bubbles of happiness, regret, sadness, compassion, inspiration, etc. Maybe, we are all just bubbles ourselves. Bubbles that keep getting bigger and bigger, and inevitably, one day, go *pop*. The last couple of years are when I’ve really grown up though, to see the world as it is, and blow more bubbles. Bubbles can be more than just thoughts and feelings. Bubbles can be the happiest moments of your life – a sum total of all your happiest days – and it is because of these bubbles that you are still alive. A bubble can be a memory that cheers you up and reminds you of sunnier days. A brilliant-hued bubble reminds you of the rainbow beyond the rain and the dawn ahead of the dusk. These bubbles take you back to your childhood days when blowing bubbles was the supreme joy of life and blowing bubbles made a day your best day – made every day your best day! So, it is vital that we hold on to the bubbles of life, vital that we hold on to our thought bubbles and then enjoy the transcendence that follows.

What are these bubbles of life that make us smile?
Playing Uno with your brother. Petting dogs on the road. A good hair day. Someone saying that you look beautiful today. Music. Reading a book that you just cannot put down. Meeting your friend after the longest time and still feeling like you met yesterday. Raindrops. Telling your niece a bed-time story and even though she’s heard it a thousand times, she still has the same, curious moon-eyed expression on her face. Coffee after a long, tiring day. Your favourite song on repeat. Switching the television on and seeing that your favourite movie has just started. A bubble bath. Having 100% charge on your phone. Chocolate chip cookies. Pizza. Oh, these bubbles just never end!

And they never will…These are bubbles that never go pop. Because happiness never ends. Happiness is always around us. In forms that we don’t acknowledge and take for granted. A hug is happiness. A cup of hot chocolate is happiness. Happiness is always around us. And yes, so is sadness. But life is your bubble, and thoughts are your bubbles. So, it is your choice. You can choose happiness. You can choose joy. You can choose forgiveness. You can choose better instead of worse. You can choose love. Because you can make your own life. Life is your bubble. And if you don’t like your bubble, pop it. Start again. Blow another bubble.