Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lessons of Life from my parents.

Change comes slowly; unnoticeable but unfailing like the rising Sun or the tide, the waxing  of the moon or the advent of Spring.... It envelopes us slowly but surely, the way each passing moment turns 'this moment' into 'that moment'...; the moment that was.... I am ever-conscious of the way we change, with age, time and experience... Some of us become mellow and softer, some stronger and surer, still others feel, despite their best efforts, as if Life is slipping by like a fistful of sand, leaving nothing of consequence... I, sadly, fall in to the last category, and try to pull myself out of the cess-pool of self-doubt and lack of confidence with a bit of thought and a bit of ;me' time. If I need to 'sort-out' my thoughts, I just wake up early into the morning, put on my trainers and shrug into my jacket. With my mobile playing my favourite tunes, and the roads clear of traffic, I either pound the pavement, or ride out on my bike... These are my two best means of introspection.
I often have my family and friends here tell me that I talk a lot, and that my tone is not always respectful although the words, in themselves, aren't offensive. Bearing these things in mind, I have been trying to be conscious of the following points in my interactions with others. I have tried to look back on the past two decades of my life and sort through the most important things I have learnt from the most important people in my life- my parents.

My mother always used to say to me, "Remember, Ruch, Help ever, hurt never..." This message of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, stayed with me and shaped my psyche. I always try to look on the bright side, unless I feel pushed into a situation and react out of anger or some such strong emotion...With perseverance, I hope to rid myself of all such vices, eventually. Sometimes, if I'm in a fix as to how to react to something someone close to me has said, (like the incident at home that I wrote to you about) and find myself giving in to the anger, pain and hurt those words can often cause, I lash back too... Later, when I've calmed down I am left with a feeling of emptiness... So I often ask myself, "Is it because I reacted negatively too??" As a lovely song in 'The Sound of Music' goes, "Nothing comes from nothing, nothing, ever, could.... so somewhere in my youth, or childhood.... I must have done, something good..." I think of what Mummy would say/do if I asked her for her views, and would I disregard her views the same way that my Mum-in-Law says I do hers??! This has brought about  change in me, maybe late, maybe far too long in coming, but a change that I wish to celebrate and embrace- I look to her now, today, as I would to my mother, if she were alive. God, I tell myself, has given me another mother- in a new form, but in essence, a mother who loves me and wishes me well. So I am trying, each day, to interact with her the same way I would interact with my mother- sharing worries, listening, following her advice and looking after her wishes in subtle ways...So far, it looks like something I should have always done- and I never would have had any difficulties in my relationship with her. Respect begets respect, and Love alone, begets Love!

From Dad, I learned that one must always support and speak the truth. Sure, its hard, and sometimes gets us into trouble, but ultimately, it always triumphs. Not for nothing does a great nation like India put सत्यमेव जायते as its National Motto!! When Lord Sri Rama, Shiva and Krishna- the divine, beloved deities of our Hindu pantheon, upheld Satya, (Truth) and Dharma, over all else, how can I not follow their simplest of messages?? - Love, Truth, dharma, and Non-Violence- even in the mind!! I talk to my father about everything and anything. His non-aggression and inner-peace make me realise how much we take things for granted! He never criticises others, but just looks at them as' living their nature'. His advice to me is never dished out- "do this, do that" and the other!! He will narrate a memory, an incident from his life which taught him something, and after we speak or write to each other, I find myself filled with positive energy- looking to others with love, hope and goodwill. His life has been my greatest example of how to follow the way of the Lord- Realise that divinity is inside us and not something outside of our reach. We are, essentially, that which we seek- in Temples, in Churches, in the Smiles of our children... i.e, Sat,Chitt, and Anand... 

Dad is a happy person! He is neither too happy when things are fine, nor too sad when anything unexpected occurs... He is peaceful, and calm, he is ever blissful, and always content. Living by himself for so many years is unthinkable to me, but he has done it without attracting attention, or making others feel sorry for him. I only feel the greatest pride when I think of him! I learn from his example and share my thoughts and feelings with him as I do with you. (Not the bit about Raj and I, but other things!)
With the parents that I have, I feel that life has given me ample scope to beat all odds and emerge stronger and more humble. So, for the moment, I am just keeping my head down and focussing on the positives that you share with me on  your blog! It is a treat to read and learn from you, Mon! Thank you for being my friend in need!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Restlessness...

When things don't quite go as per plan,
When LIFE isn't going how I (imagined it would when the journey) began,
When I feel alone,
divided, and joyless inside;
my heart heavy with the sadness that comes from a few ill-timed words and an aggressive glare,
from the one I hoped, would understand me...

When love is just a faint memory, life makes my present no gift...
when we spiral into blaming the circumstances,
the finances,
or the lack of time,
when careless jokes or insecurities you voice make me feel so powerless,
so 'without-a-choice'
When our inherent differences make this joyless co-existence we pretend to uphold a burden...

A marriage 'for' whom May I ask??!!
for joy, for love, or a dragging task??
"The kids are young, they need US," you say,
and "If I didn't love you, you'd be out in a day..".
not reassuring, if I dare say myself... not at all uplifting to be told I'm a slob,
Or that I'm aggressive when I only stand up and speak my mind,
add my 'partners' bit in our so-called 'TEAM PARTNERSHIP'...
trying to be an equal ally not a trouble, nor liability.
when my self-respect is down in the toes of my shoes,
when I feel nothing, any more, not even an urge to cry..

It is time, my Dear,
Its time to let you go,
time to say goodbye,
But certainly not time to die...

Maybe, if I only gather up my shreds,
and become a bit stronger and forge on, ahead,
alone, but not lonely,
Poor and yet positive,
I might still  make something worthwhile of my life yet.

Just need to leap, to spread out my wings,
to catch the air and learn to fly...
It is time, to be ME, again, and live and let (you) live too,
I do still care,
I also love you,
just not in the way we'd thought it would be,
Our lives are now so 'separate',
they don't mingle or gel.
This is not a marriage, no, it makes us all unwell.
We need to talk, but my words are now gone...
I am numb, I'm sad, I'm tired and sore,
I don't like this, I don't need this, don't want it, any more...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This too, shall pass.

My dearest Monica,

Sleep is a pause for the Soul- that which is eternal, unchanging and untouched. When we are sleeping, our Soul lies with God for those brief moments between dreams and wakefulness....That is when we have no sense of 'self' no bondage, no relationships, no likes and no dislikes...we are even unaware of our own breathing... We are like a shell, with the pearl within given up, deep in the ocean's arms...This was something I realised in the last couple of days..

Last weekend,when my Mum (-in-Law) came home, Raj and I were really happy and relieved. There were many reasons: Bapuji and Ba who are both elderly and frail, were making this long-haul flight and had arrived safely, if a little exhausted from the ordeal.We could look forward to being with the whole family and mum wouldn't have to worry about them (her parents) being alone in our village in India.

It was all okay for a day or so, when mum tried to coax them both to eat a little bit and rest a bit too. Of course, we were worried for their health and how they would cope with the long journey, but given the circumstances, this was the best option: get them both here before Ba was too frail to travel. Bapuji had not been his usual self since he arrived, and this was making us all worried to varying degrees. Once, mum asked him if he would come to the doctor with her, but he declined, saying that in a day or so, everything would be allright, he probably just needed some sleep. He did not eat much, and mum had to cajole him to eat a little bit that evening. What we never imagined was that it would be the last time we saw him awake..

That night, sometime after midnight, (when we all went to bed) Bapuji passed away in his sleep... I remember staying awake until around four a.m that night, on the landing of the stairs, unable to sleep, reading, writing and listening to music... I was listening to your favourite songs, mentioned on your last blog post and noticed Ba walking to the bathroom in the night... When morning came, I woke up early, and went down to the kitchen, where mum was making some tea for them both. We talked about how they were that morning, and she said they were both asleep. Ba told mum not to wake up Bapuji, as he must be resting after a long time, so she got Ba ready for breakfast and then went to wake him up. That's when she discovered that he was really cold...

With the family in mourning, we organized his Funeral...What struck me was how composed Ba was, despite the gravity of her loss... She's a terrific Lady. She's a fighter, a Survivor and a great example of how to face circumstances like these with equanimity and composure, calm and clear in the mind... Although suffering from cancer herself, she is an example of how to be stoic in the face of tragedy.

Telling the kids what had happened, and explaining it to them was the hardest part; I didn't want to make them feel like nothing was the matter- since they could clearly see everyone was upset and grieving. I broke it to them as gently as I could, explaining that their great-granddad was no more amongst us, but would always be in their hearts and thoughts, if they wanted it. Others may disagree- choosing, instead, to keep the truth from ones so young but I am a believer in the facts of life. The sooner my kids understand the way life works, the sooner they can make sense of their world. Besides, they need to appreciate the feelings of others around them, and if they're unaware of what is causing the grief, how can they empathise??

Thank you for such a simple yet difficult lesson; prioritization! I think, I need a lesson in the ART OF PRIORITIZATION!! There is something my mother told us about a story related to Siddhartha, or Gautam Buddha, and his path to Enlightenment... In one of your last posts, you had mentioned the phrase , 'this too, shall pass', and today, or in fact, this last week, I realised the true meaning of the phrase...
It is said that Gautam Buddha was born as prince Siddhartha of Kapilavastu, to King Shuddodhana. When he was born, a prediction was made; that the newborn prince would grow up to become either a great, renowned king or a world-renouncing monk. Hearing this, the King who wanted his son to succeed him to the throne and be a great ruler, shielded his young son from all the unpleasant truths of life, in the hope that the wise men's prophecies regarding him becoming a monk would be proven wrong.

 But one day, the young prince Siddhartha witnessed the truths of life in quick succession- rendering his world-view obsolete, and gave rise to a restlessness of the Soul which made him seek the truth...He first saw an old woman, bent with age, frail and forlorn, and asked his father's minister who she was and what was the matter with her... "She is an old woman, young prince," said the minister, at which Siddhartha asked what had made her grow old, "...age, sir, has made her bent and old, and time is what has aged her... Siddhartha thought for a while and asked, "Will I too, grow old one day," "Yes, my dear sir, everyone who is born must age one day, just as surely as the sun rises and the seasons change with the passage of time..."
Then, the prince saw a sick man, ailing and emaciated, and a group of men taking out a funeral procession..with each passing sight, his questions grew deeper, his realization of the truth of life as he knew of it changed and he became more and more keen to find out what, if anything, could make a person really blissful in this world full of grief and suffering...
As if in response to his thoughts, he finally saw a monk, his face aglow and his simplicity rendering him with a magnetism that was hard to escape. We all know what happened next; how a prince realised the transience of the world, its joys and sorrows and how unaffected the soul was, in essence... How his realisation led him to renounce his kingdom, leave his loved ones and choose the path of enlightenment, becoming a seeker...

Its sad that it took a bereavement in our family to remind me of the lesson of life- living in the present and having no regrets. How do I focus on others all the time and still look after my soul and its inherent well-being!? How do I prevent myself 'reacting' to situations in a negative way and still not appear to be 'unresponsive' and 'uncaring'!? That is something I'm still pondering, as I take the kids out 'Egg-Hunting' over Easter, and watch them have fun splashing in the rain-soaked outdoors...
The learning continues...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Amazing Grace..

Dear Friend Mon,

My Dear Girl!
Sometimes, just knowing someone, somewhere believes in us is enough to get us up and running! for me, you are THAT someone, Mon... Whenever I miss my mother, my sister or my long-ago friend, I turn to the memory of all those days in our undergrad days at SID,C.E.P.T, when you insisted I joined you for breakfast at the CEPT canteen, knowing fully well that I had no money on me to even buy us both a chai... It still moves me close to tears, how effortlessly you turned my shyness to open up as we sat, and how you shared your own plate of chana-powa with me...
Whenever I was overwhelmed, or unsure, doubtful or confused, you sat down and discussed my 'concepts' , 'ideas' and ' just-born sketches' with me, helping me more than I ever realised...
To you, my sweet friend...the angel in disguise,
if you, ever, need a friend in life,
to listen,
to care,
to share
and to lighten a burden,
i will always, always be there for you...

A Song for You:

Bridge Over Troubled Water.... (click this link!)

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

 - Original studio version sung by Paul simon and Art Garfunkel