Monday, September 28

Card Game...

Years after hearing the tragedy, I met him. We sat across a table and locked our hands to chat endlessly. I had missed my friend too long, too much and too badly. I looked deeply into his eyes and heard him whisper his good times and bad. Deep in me, there was a shame that I stood all these days away from him. “I am sorry...very sorry” I told him. That was the best I could tell him now. With a gentle smile, “It is ok”, he said.

A short romance...a quick betrothal...a hurried marriage...and a painful divorce. That was the great tragedy in my little friend’s life. I was shocked hearing his personal story. So strange were his post-marriage days that there wasn’t even a honeymoon! Nevertheless, throughout his revelation, there was something that perplexed me: my friend made no complaints about what had beached him. He complained neither God nor his fate. He had only words of forgiveness and a determination to build another life where it had failed. In fact, he told me that the divorce proceedings were smooth and was on a mutual agreement of withdrawal. Looking onto his clean-shaven face, I saw a deep serenity glittering all across. He stood released and liberated for life.

My friend not only shared with me his crumpled fate... he also told me of his flying dreams...dreams to build his life back. “What a great strength he has!”, I thought. 4 months post-divorce, he was already working out a return plan. Hatred to none and joy to all, this young man was already employing eight paramedical-staff and running a medical centre. Beaming with confidence, he was putting back his life-bricks. As I bid him good-bye and shook his hands, I realised how smooth and soft his palms were. “His heart was as soft as his palm”, I thought.

Driving home, I kept thinking: I have understood today that life is all about overcoming obstacles, of seizing every moment’s magic, of enabling others to go forward... I have understood that life is all about living. I also understood today that there is more than one way to measure success and failures.

My thoughts run to Randy Pausch, the dying computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. He had said, ‘We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand’.

--- Photo : My favourite beach at Kappad, Calicut.

Tuesday, September 22

I do thy will...

Like the wind, I run;

Like the rain, I sing;

Like the leaves, I dance;

Like the earth, I'm still;

And in this, Lord, I do thy will.

*** Photo Location: Kappadu Beach, Calicut


Sunday, September 20

The beach

The beach is a favourite spot to be alone.
The sand looks clean and bright with a smooth texture. To stroll barefoot over these sands is a special magic. Smooth sand caresses my feet. Their tickling is a great joy. Then, in a rhythmic manner, the sparkling waters rolls over my feet... they are the waves. As these waves pullback, I too am pulled into the sea. Not wanting to stop... I go strolling.

The seashells washed up in the beach attract me. Some of them are alive... their owners are living inside them! Other shells have no life in them...their owners have left their beautiful homes forever. Most of these shelled creatures go back by the receding waves to the place they really belong: the blue-ocean...while others lay ashore. These relics of the ocean add beauty and life to the sands ashore. Without them, beaches would have been a poorer place... and we would have felt a little lonely.

One of the most absorbing sights that I see upon a beach is the numerous holes that the crabs make. These sea crustaceans’ excavate little holes and hide in them. The waves and the waters call them out of their hiding place. As waves recede into sea, these crabs too rush with the waters.

Aloneness and loneliness are two different feelings. Aloneness is to embrace solitude and isolation. It is a positive force to reinforce our heart. However, loneliness is being captive in one’s own heart. It is a killer of creativity and personality. Loneliness is a negative force that drags anyone to self-pity and death. Being in an empty beach or anchored in a quit landscape is to choose silence to cacophony.... to choose stillness to empty reverberations.

The most deceptive thing in the world is to imagine that they alone are strong who are noisy, or that they alone possess power who are fussily active.

If being still is a requisite for knowing God, and if man is “made in the image of God”, then the most dynamic element within him must dwell in stillness.


Thursday, September 17

On the hand of God

This leaf, so complete in itself,
Is only part of a tree.
And this tree, so complete in itself,
Is only part of the mountain.
And the mountain runs down to the sea.
And the sea, so complete in itself,
Rests like a raindrop
On the hand of God.
Verses: Ruskin Bond
Photo: From old photo file.

Sunday, September 13

" Hello God...

“ Hello God...

I have to talk to You... I have to hear You.
Since I am in a crowded place, I can’t excuse myself that I got to miss You.
Since it is a rainy day, I can’t let off my hellos to you.
Since I came home late last night, I can’t tell you that I will put you off this morning.
Life must go on, Lord...And our conversation will pull on.

The other day I was amused at seeing a pack of noodles. It was all alphabets.
Yes, ‘alphabet-noodles’, they call it. I really wonder who got that crazy idea of putting noodles in the shape of alphabets. As a child, I have eaten biscuits shaped in alphabets...chocolates shaped in alphabets... but never noodle. And I always thought that noodles were extruded... never thought noodles could be moulded into letters. Amazing! And it stands delicious upon cooking.

I always thought that words alone were shaped in alphabets and not food!!
But Lord, words have literally become food here.
I know, words are food for many... politicians, poets and lovers.

Life goes on Lord... alphabets, words, noodles, You and me.”

Thursday, September 10

...only whisperings for eternity.

“I have to put me there”, I would tell myself.

I have seen tramps writing their names on the rocks and lovers leaving there marks on Taj. I have read love poems itched by darlings on trees and motel room walls stained with lipsticks. Urban or rural, we find such works everywhere. ‘Graffiti’... they call it. These are attempts to capture the beauty of individual’s presence in that space...all these are little acts to place themselves forever in time and space. Most end up telling a bit of their love story or scribbling their names or jotting their devotion. Some can be just sweet-nothings.
Graffiti is an old human behaviour. We see graffiti on the walls of caves millions of years old. The only difference between the modern graffiti and their older counterparts is the proclivity of the modern graffitist to add his name quickly to his work.
As a child, I too remember the same acts: On the way to school, I would hide a stone in a crevice so that it will remain there ‘as mine’ forever. In the classroom, it would be the writing table that bear the marks of my presence.

As we are creatures of time so are we creatures of space. We would not like to forget the places that have moulded us... places that have seen our secret passions and places that have shared our laughter and sorrow. As life is a short journey, it is great to spend five minutes whispering good-byes to the space and time one is leaving behind. To this living room, this bedroom, to this kitchen, to this classroom, to the office cubical or even a hotel room, “Good-bye, dear room. Remember what we accomplished together here, how we laughed and we cried and fumed. Remember me, as I will remember you.”

Pausing to say a good-bye from the heart to the living spaces and cherished times that we leave behind is a great a superior act than graffiti.
Graffiti robs away the solitude of any space. I’ll say, “No graffiti...I will only leave my whisperings for eternity.”

Wednesday, September 9

A Goodnight Prayer...

"Now I lay down to sleep,
I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep;

If I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord, my soul to take;

If I should live for other days,
I pray thee Lord, to guide my ways"

Sunday, September 6

The urban jungle...

Every year, during the harvest festival of Onam, there is a merry making event called ‘Pullli Kalli’. Literally translating it to English, I call it ‘the Tiger Sport’.
Trichur, the central Kerala district is the heart of ‘Tiger Sport’. Long years of my stay in Trichur have always captivated me to this temple based cultural festival. The beauty of this pageant is the simplicity of expression from the ‘Tigers’ of the street. These ‘Tigers’ are real flesh and blood. But for a moment, they transform themselves to the wild... they transpose themselves to the urban jungles...they roar and growl...they howl and snarl. In a distinct choreography, they pace through the streets to the drum beats of their leader.
Times have changed this event very much. I was told that many young ‘Tigers’ went in for shortcuts in their habits: they started to use synthetic colours and were too cosmetic in approach. Nevertheless, there are the real ‘Tigers’ who use only natural vegetable dyes as their colouring materials. It makes more sense to use natural materials as they are user friendly and they allow the skin to ‘breathe’.

As I stand in the company of these ‘Tigers’... as I hear the drumbeats in the a
ir... I ask myself what I can carry home from this traditional gala of prosperity and joy. What really perplex me is the fact that there are little ‘tigers’ in all of us. The ‘Tiger Sport’ only high-lighten me the fact that there are little sleeping ‘tigers’ within me and all of us! Did tradition allow this strange enactment of our friends in the city jungles to tell us that life has to be viewed with a little ‘animal in us’? Is the Onam ‘Tiger Sport’ pointing me to that direction? The freedom of letting this ‘animal in me’ escape in these dances were so obvious in the roar and the growl of the ‘tigers’. What a novel idea it is to dance and please gods and also to let out the ‘animal’ nature in us! Will ‘Tiger Sport’ help us to be gentle and humane?

There are love stories too to this carnival. I was told of the story of a girl who wouldn’t fall for the boy who deeply loved her. Ultimately, the boy, together with his friends, had to bring out the ‘animal in him’. He took a ‘tiger’ walk to her house on an Onam season, and growl at her to captivate her heart! She fell for him!!

Photos Location: Trichur...friends as 'Pullies'

Friday, September 4

Life in September...

Come September, there are still rains in the clouds.

With water all around, with ponds all full...
I see the blooms of these beautiful violet flowers floating on clear still waters of my ponds.
After all, still waters teaches us that flowers can grow on them...
still waters teaches us that others can find beauty in them...
still waters are places of solitude where God opens up His altar of joy and providence .

No club membership charges are required to admire this beauty in God’s creation...
just a little time and heart to go out to still places and find rest and solitude.
What more can September offer me?
Let me quote a six-verse poem that I read recently...
Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.