Poems and Creative writing

A Ray of Hope – Poem

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After a long break, chancing on a poem I had written during my school days – has spurred me on to get back.

A Ray of Hope – Mathangi J

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The skies were dark

when along life’s long river I decided to paddle

And on the banks I saw a bunch of people

all they did, was just dawdle

I found a number of willing comrades,

but neither of them had any grace

They said to me

” You may come with us, or you may go

Between us, relations will forever remain shallow”

 

The skies were darker when I went further down

But even there,people were frantically searching

for the materially studded crown

Hardly did they give me a glance

And to communicate, I did not even have a chance

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Scaling my vision, I saw a figure at the deep end

Slowly I paddled yonder and far

And when I saw her,

I thought she possessed invisible scars

 

As I saw her –

there was a question in my glance

To which she replied –

with a faint smile and understanding countenance

 

“I know what you search for

People – they possess none

They try to reach it thro’

temporary periods of fun

You’ve come in search of the keys

which will unlock your mind to peace”

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I stared at her with calm excitement

As I stared, her form suddenly did change

and flew towards the mountain range

…. In the form of a dove

It was then that I realized

there was a ray of light from the dark skies above!

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I was about 14 years when I wrote this .

 

 

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When you go through a networking page…

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I see you going through a networking site

I somehow catch the waves of your plight

As you ponder –

“Is their life a bit too bright?”

“Or is mine just, not quite right? ”

“Why are my finances always so tight?”

“And how come, everyone seems to be in a constant state of delight?”

 

What’s the big deal?

I want to scream

When you sadly draw my attention to the numerous “Thumbs up” on a page

It really doesn’t mean anything

I mean – “Whom do you want to upstage? ”

 

Do people really genuinely feel?

I have to wonder

When they shout and scream in happiness.

True. I wish them no bitterness.

But then, does everyone have to know?

Many times I am embarrassed, but I go along with the flow

 

All you excited shutterbugs ,if I may kindly appeal?

Ugh… pictures of your every meal?

A photo of your broken spiked heel?

A selfie at the driving wheel?

Please-oh-please – let not every aspect of your life be revealed!

 

Sometimes I am so tired of this Spiel

Where your real life is concealed

And I get to watch just the highlight reel.

Yes I do admit.

Sometimes I do wonder and sigh ” Why is my life such an ordeal?”

 

I’m confused. I think. I decide.

I don’t want no one to give me my pride.

I mean – I’ve worked hard. I’ve cried. I have truly, truly tried.

And many an illogical thing, have I taken in my stride.

 

But somehow I don’t want it on display.

“Why do you always keep to yourself? ” – I hear you say

Maybe I am scared, my peace it may steal

Or maybe I am cautious, it may end up my Achilles’ Heel

 

I am sorry. I will continue to be slow.

It’s really not because of my ego.

What I really don’t want to forego.

Is my happiness in watching me grow!

GONE GIRL – Book Review

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GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – REVIEW

What started as some in-flight entertainment, ended up being a book that scared me about the mind of people – men and women alike. For people who have already read reviews about the New York Best seller “Gone Girl” on Amazon / Good reads – would have seen words like dark genre, thrilling read, and etc .Here are my thoughts on the book.

THE PLOT : Perfect wife Amy goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary, but only after having organized her traditional treasure hunt for husband Nick Dunne. Nick, the bored male in the relationship, out of a job as a writer, and barely supporting his family by owning a Bar (bought with his wife’s money) – is definitely not in a “ Happy Anniversary” place right now.

With Amy going missing, a nonchalant Nick is forced to turn his attention to her absence, rack his brains for information that would make look less a suspect in the eyes of law. A confused Nick who remembers the “Amazing Amy” he met and fell in love with – is forced to deal with her parents, news that she was recently pregnant, the media, flirty moms who want their share of media, his sister, and the police – all the time wondering – whether he should have put more effort into the relationship. The introduction to Andie – the 23 year old Nick has an affair with, makes us like him even less.

And then a U-turn, Amy is alive. Milking her disappearance to her benefit. Playing a game to send Nick a message that he cannot take her for granted. Or mess with her emotions. A game she has played before. She watches in perverse happiness as her carefully executed plot to frame her husband, unfolds. It is not justice she seeks, but control.

And as Nick senses he is being framed – he counters her every action through his. Some subtle power play and ego we read about here. Amy who is now in the clutches of her one-time stalker, carefully executes another sterile plan – that of murder. She returns home into the arms of Nick, with an effective fool proof story for the media. Cameras flash, the police are satisfied, and the case is closed. But Nick is not satisfied . Neither are his sister and a detective on the force. After all no one can plan a perfect murder. But Amy did. And got away with it.

And while we wait for Nick to be a normal man, who divorces his psycho wife and moves on with life – he stays in the marriage. Because Amazing Amy is pregnant. With Nick’s child. Yes, more devious planning to keep him in the marriage. Before you start sympathizing with Nick – wait to read his justifications and hers for keeping the marriage going. That is something I am not giving away here.

MY THOUGHTS : The book starts of in quite an average manner. Moderately paced, Nick and Amy narrate their versions – each person characterizing the other through their own experiences and emotions. You understand Nick through Amy’s eyes and vice versa. You empathize with both of them in your mind. The narrative keeps trudging along – you are almost bored with the detailed descriptions of their life events.

And then the author does a 180 and steps up speed. Suddenly you are thrown into the vortex of Amy’s brilliance, her cunning, premeditations and patience. Just when you want to support her for not taking the situation lying down – you are stunned by how affected a person can be when they place too much importance on their own emotions and ego. For Amy – till now an above average person suddenly progresses into an unemotional, manipulative person – efficient in planning to kill, be killed if necessary and to ruin people’s lives devoid of guilt.

I quote Amy’s thoughts from the book “I was told love should be unconditional… Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional Love is Undisciplined love …”
And in the words of Nick Dunne “ … I write down everything about her day, her likes and dislikes… I am a great husband because I am very afraid she may kill me. The fact is , my wife is a murderess who is sometimes really fun.

This whole scenario scares me and would continue to if the roles / gender were reversed. Is this a trend in today’s world? Nick and Amy seem like a normal couple who go through the regular hills and valleys of life. Is this how people think now? Are they manipulated to stay in their marriages / relationships? Would they want to kill / frame someone they loved before? Is it all about power play and being in control? Having the last word at all cost?

In a life where we don’t get to choose our families and our own genes – we do sometimes get a choice of our partner. Someone we think might grow to be our soul mate. Granted we are on our best behavior during the courting phase – that is but a normal reaction. We preen, we coo, we coddle, we exhibit the best side of us. But when you end up sharing mind space for a long time, physical space, or even room space – you are bound to let your guard down. You are just who you are.

You know that their best behavior did not last. Maybe it shocks you. Surprises you. Hurts you too a bit. But News Flash : Neither did yours. He picks his nose. You snore. He is sloppy Joe. You whine and nag. No one is perfect. You need not be. For that would be unnatural almost.
Its good not to take things for granted. But to pretend? Lifelong? Is that a solution? I quote the author’s words here :

“ We pretend to be in love… and it feels almost like love sometimes… Reviving the muscle of early romance”

Early romance. The key words here. That beautiful period of discovery. Euphoria and Peace. Fear and Courage. Talk and Laughter. What poets write about. What films are made on. And then it changes? Does it fade? Or change? Or grow? I have no answer.
In true style of the book – here is my Quiz.

If the period of early romance is so special, how do we make it last?
A) Experience the “early romance” with as many people and move on when it fades out?
B) “Pretend” to be in the “phase” with your partner for as long as possible?
C) Accept some changes as growth but keep some silliness going?

What would you do? Have you felt all the things that Amy and Nick felt? Its time to think. Before committing to a person, folks – wait to think. Am I in love with the person? Or am I in love, with the idea of love. Its not the same. At all.

For a person like me – where a book transports me to a different world, where I visualize the characters as someone I interact with or observe – it terrorizes me. Are people like Nick and Amy people on my Facebook List. My whatsapp groups. Do I know them already? I hope to God, I never have to interact with such people on more than a superficial level. Peace out!

Pain – Tangibles and Intangibles

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A discussion I had with a friend a month earlier was still swirling around in my memory I guess. And when things get stuck in your sub-conscious, you start getting clues from the outside world that keep drawing your attention to the same topic ( a newspaper ad, a dialogue in a movie, a quote that stands out…etc) – you know you have to address the issue. Pretty much last year this time – I had a post on similar thoughts – you can read it here :

https://mathangijeypal.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/parents-siblingsfriendsspouse-strangers/

Well, coming back to the topic.PAIN.

pain

The discussion I had with my friend was about the fact that there were socially  accepted negative situations – an accident, rape, a divorce, financial crisis, a death, loss of a job… that qualify as pain . This is when people try to understand you, sympathize with you sometimes, empathize hopefully, and maybe lend support so that you may get out of a situation.

But that set me thinking – is this pain okay because it is generally accepted? Hear about someone who lost a spouse / child ? – we nod our heads sadly, click our tongues and talk about their bad times. Hear about an accident ?- we thank the fact that it was not us in the situation and look concerned for the others. Someone undergoing a break up/ divorce? – call me anytime we say!

But does it justify the pain actually? To understand it further – I try to classify types of pain as I think there could be.

1. PHYSICAL PAIN

body pain

The accident types of pain come under this category. Broke a leg? Splinter? Heart attack? Eye pain? Also under this category – I would add heart ache. The pain you feel when you have lost a loved one. The vacuum left behind when a parent passes away. When it actually hurts. And heavily! Sometimes it can manifest itself to other parts of your body – the stomach pains, constant fever, nausea ,knee pain, migraines, stiffness etc… When pain seeks its release through some physical level – it all comes under physical pain.

2.EMOTIONAL PAIN

emotional-pain

That may be the most cliched picture I have ever put up, but who hasn’t endured a bit of emotional pain without your lachrymal glands setting to work? Under emotional pain, comes my next two categories :

a. Tangible pain : Pain that you can explain. In a perverse way – it is logical pain. The reasons which you understand. The cause and effect of your actions. Or others’ actions. You feel the pain but you know the origin as to why it happened. It may not be fair or just, but there is clarity. Examples are :

* A bad report card

* seeing your toddler cry for a shot

* when your pet has to be put down

* seeing your parents / grandparents become slow, dependent, or weak.

* someone getting credit for your idea

* rash driving and an injury thereby * having no kids

 * bankruptcy

*  a lewd comment from a deranged moron

*being passed over for promotion

* not getting a scholarship / university of your choice

* extra-marital affairs / infidelity

* illness

* a bad marriage

* children with physical and mental health issues…

The list goes on (Please feel free to add if you have more thoughts…)

Many of these situations are difficult. Life changing even. They affect our thought patterns. Make us angry. Make us depressed. Make us anxious. Sometimes, they tell us what we want to do to get out of a situation. Sometimes oddly, can even be positive. Bad marriage? – the best here would be to get a divorce and get on with your life. It might be the best thing that happened to you. Seen a loved one suffer due to illness? – we end up taking good care of our health. People who come out of these situations are stories of motivation / courage / and emotional strength.

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b. Intangible pain

This is where you don’t know what happens. Why something happened? What made it happen? And where you torture yourself with a million ” What-if ..” situations. Sometimes drive yourself to madness. Or loneliness. Or Depression. Because suddenly you are sliced out from a comfortable situation to the other extreme – without being prepared for it. An example I heard earlier stays in my mind . ” It is when you put your whole being into planning the perfect surprise for your spouse, just when you learn they are cheating on you”.

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Examples are :

* when your partner hides their health / career issues from you

* when your till-now-friendly-teen no longer wants to talk to you

* when you realize your “friend” was the one selling you out

* when the person with all the good health habits ends up with cancer

* the one person you want,but can never have

* when no one recognizes you

* or respects you

* when the nest you carefully built all these years, is broken (from the inside or outside)

The emotions that hit you. Shock.Anger. Betrayal. Self-sympathy. And the feeling of foolishness. Followed by loathing. Sometimes self-loathing. But most of all.. the lack of understanding.

How did I not know it was happening? When did the situation change? From when was I unnecessary in the equation? These are the intangibles. All of us have felt it at some time. Along with the tangible pain. The intangible pain, is the one we are shy to share with others. Those are our innermost wounds. They affect our self-confidence and our power to let go.

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THE SOLUTION ?

People will always give you options.- Time is the best healer. Surround yourself with friends. Keep yourself occupied. Meditate. Travel. Join a class.Think positive thoughts. If you have been in this situation – you will tell me it hardly works. What can you do?

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Get in touch with yourself. Sit in plain view of nature – actually see the sky stretch endlessly. Let your thoughts wander on its vastness, the brilliant blue or the villainous grey shade it chooses to show you. Trees, grass, flowers nearby. Look at them closely – look at the small insect that goes about its work, irrespective of your problems. It might bite you when you get too close. Feel the air.  Look at the tiny grains of sand around you. Those are the basics.

And if at that point you forget the whirlpool of activities that usually smuggle your happiness – the quarrel with your kid / the wondering of what am I doing? / incommunicado parent or spouse / the cooking/ driving / budgeting… its worth it. You will slowly get there. The Pain will start to heal. And you would have found your own way to deal with it.

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Finding your OWN way – that is what you want. Just be YOU!

Peace out!

 

The many faces of Lady Liberty

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A couple of months back I did get to visit Lady Liberty. And though denied the regular visit to the Island (Thanks to renovations due to Sandy), I still went on a ferry ride and went berserk with my camera.  Here are some of them.

1. The sky, the clouds and she…

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2. A side profile you can see

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3. A bad day at New York maybe? 

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 4. This one focuses on just her and her individuality

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5. Symbol of freedom for eternity

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6. Did you take time to get to know her personally ?

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Do tell me, which one spoke to you at least slightly? 🙂 

Looking back on the past

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Turning back on the past ?

The tiger in the present, seems to reflect carefully at the ‘past’ and memories that went by. What’s past is also not in color, and the scene ahead is also in Black and white. To let us know – only  the present counts. Neither the past. Nor the future. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy life.

Have you met these people today?

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Well, almost everyone feels stressed at the end of the day. Crazy commutes, Pressure to meet deadlines, Family commitment, – but nothing saps your energy like people, their ability to push your buttons, and ‘politics’. Many a person has quit their job because they could not handle the politics, or because someone else’s psyche was far stronger than their own. Or stayed quiet at school or at home – because you just did not want to get into an argument with them. I’ve met a few annoying types – tell me if you’ve met them too!

1. The Do-gooder (DG) : Do not take this term at face value for the do-gooder is not the person who does good things for people. In fact this person has done everything much better than you have! Excerpts from a dialogue between DG and Me:


Me : Sniff! Sniff! I seem to have caught a cold.
DG:You have a cold? Make way, I think I have pneumonia.
Me: I guess its an allergy.. It will go away soon
DG: A wonderful immune system has been genetically handed down by my extremely healthy parents – I will get over my pneumonia faster than you get over your cold.
Me: Okayyy…That’s great! I guess I’m sensitive to pollution – Aaachooo! Must be the dust…
DG: Oh yeah! I’m extremely sensitive too. I have to be extremely careful when I step outside. (what happened to the genes,huh?) My dermatologist says I should not get too much sun, because of my sensitive skin. But I do not get a tan, I just become pink…blah,blah,blah…
Me: @#$%%! …Phew!

The DG is aggressive and annoying, friendly yet competitive and is humble as long as you let them take top-spot. Push them to spot 2 – and…well, why don’t you try it for yourself?

ENERGY DEPLETION – 25 % 

2. The No-Helpers (NH) : The no-helpers are not people who do not help you. In fact it is the exact opposite. They are people who do not let you help them. They are people with a gazillion problems, and are NOT (mind you – this is something I’ve learnt out of experience) … NOT looking for a solution. All they want to do is whine, and all they want you to do is make that clucking sound with your tongue and show them some droopy eyes, while at the exact same time – acknowledging their Herculean efforts at battling all of life’s problems.

Excerpts from a dialogue between NH and Me:

NH: Oh! There you are! Did you know my child is flunking Chemistry? And I just do not have the time to help him/her. I am such a bad mother/father.
Me : Oh…do not worry. I’m sure you are a great mom/dad. Just spend a little time over the weekends with your child (Solution 1). I’m sure she will do well.
NH: Over the weekend? Weekend is strictly family time. We try our best to keep it casual and fun! I do not want to be a parent who robs them of their childhood.
Me: Why not stay up longer on a weekday and finish it off (Solution 2) ?
NH: The children need their sleep. And it is so tiring after a day at work. I never get some time for myself!
Me: Why don’t you arrange a tutor for your child? (Solution 3)
NH: Our family does not believe is spoon-feeding the kids. They have to be self-reliant. The right values have to be instilled.
Me: Maybe you should have some kids over and let them study together? (Solution 4)
NH: And clean up after them? No way! Do you think children would ever study anything when they get together?
Me: Why don’t you get off a little early from work twice a week and help your kid? (Solution 5)
NH: With all the projects I’m in charge of? Not easy man…
Me (Having learnt my lesson) : [Clucking sounds with my tongue and drooping myeyes ] – Oh do not worry! You are a great mom/dad. You will figure what is best for your child.
NH: Thank you! You always come up with a solution! Thanks again!
Me: &**^^$@! Phew!

ENERGY DEPLETION – 50% 


3.  The Rule Follower (RF):

The rule follower is someone who insists on dotting every I and crossing every T, at the worst possible situation for you. Family emergency? The RF insists that you have to fill up every form that you have to, and then will point out that your signatures do not match in the 5 forms you filled out in front of them 5 minutes ago. Accident at office? The RF insists that you send them an e-mail with all the gory details, following which they will ‘forward it to authorities’, ‘follow it up’, ‘will let you know’ and ‘keep you in the loop’! I’m not going to give you a model dialogue for this. I am quite sure we’ve met these ‘smart’ people within whatever minimum time frame we have lived on this planet.

ENERGY DEPLETION – 75 % 

4. The Silent Instigator (SI):

The silent instigator is one who keeps making digs at your progress, your dressing , your performance and your problems. They always get away with their statements because they never ‘mentioned’ you! The SI usually gets a load of their chest thanks to their snide remarks, and usually have their band of ‘Silent Suporters (The SS)’ who laugh and jeer at the remarks, and at all the right places.  A creative dialogue to explain my point.

Situation for Harried Me: Reached office late, fight with the elders at home, nagging spouse, non-compliant children, dysfunctional wardrobe, and awful commute. Sounds familiar? This might well be you!
HM: Hey, can you grab me a glass of water?
SI : Some people walk in late and start bossing people around.
SS: [All smiling] 🙂 :):) 
HM to another colleague:  Could you cover for me this Wednesday? I might have to take my sister-in-law to the hospital?
SI: Walked in late and planning a day off already? Tsk.. tsk . Maybe people should work before they start going on a vacation.
SS: [All smiling] 🙂 :):) 
HM : Hey! Would you mind? I’m having a difficult day here!
SI: Did I even talk to you ?I was just minding my own business. Wasn’t I?
SS: Yea.. yes.. you were just doing your own thing!
HM: @$@@^! Aaargh!

ENERGY DEPLETION – 100% (Beep..beep..beep)

There are many more – the Road Rager (RR), The Back-Biter (BB), The Erratic Reactors (ER),The Sycophant Sucker (Ss), Wannabe Loser (WL), and Egomaniaco Inseguro (EI). They are – and I  quote a term used by a fellow blogger – ‘Energy Vampires’. Dementors. They suck out the energy and happiness from you constantly. We need to figure out our own Patronus (for the HP followers here) to battle them relentlessly. And it may be in the form of a WorthWhiler (WW) – An expectant child, a committed cause, a dependent grandparent, genuine pet, or just some Inner Peace!

Find your own Patronus and do it soon!