Aside Posted on
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
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
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”
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!
I was about 14 years when I wrote this .
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 :
Well, coming back to the topic.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
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.
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
* a lewd comment from a deranged moron
*being passed over for promotion
* not getting a scholarship / university of your choice
* extra-marital affairs / infidelity
* 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.
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”.
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.
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?
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.
Finding your OWN way – that is what you want. Just be YOU!
In the past 4 months of 2013 – I have heard 4 similar stories , almost one for each month – that of estrangement of relations. One was between a very close brother and sister, the other between a mother and her son, the third between a girl and her long term love who married someone else suddenly, and the fourth a divorce. Most people exhibited common feelings of betrayal, confusion and anger. What I have attempted to do – as an observer -is to just filter out the top 3 feelings that I felt most of them encountered.
3. Ego – “Relationships never die a natural death, they are killed by Ego, misunderstanding and lack of trust” . Most of us would have come across this quote at some point. Most of the people I spoke to – lost out on a relationship, because they kept waiting for the other person to initiate a call, or apologize or something that they decided the other person must do or vice-versa. Needless to say, with this conviction grows a chasm too large to cross. Well, if you think the relationship is important – then the logic of fair/ unfair has to take a back seat. Bury the ego and save what is important.
2. Taken for granted –This was the other negative emotion that came up during most of my talks about relationships gone bad. Parents felt they were being taken for granted, same goes for wives, brothers , mothers… the person who felt victimized at the end of it. While most of them talked themselves into looking at it as the closeness or lack of boundaries that their relationship had erased, definitely felt used and felt that they had NO role whatsoever in the other person’s life. This feeling of pain and hurt was a trigger to ending the relation, or unwillingness to patch up the relationship. Nothing is worth your unhappiness. If you can, walk away before it causes you more pain. You have the choice. Chances are you will feel more relieved than guilty.
1.Lack of Self-respect and thereby low self-esteem–
This was the top emotion that came out during discussions. The feeling of estrangement and distance that one felt with a loved one, became much deeper when people viewed it as a lack of self-respect. They regretted the time invested in it, the mind share one devoted, the power you give a loved one over your feelings and emotions and how it felt when all these emotions were trashed by their loved one! And with it a lot of guilt. “Maybe it was my fault. ” “I am such a loser.” ” Did I not do enough?”
Well here is some good news.
Obviously dealing with a lot of negative thought can make you feel as though ,all these social and familial relations are just not worth it.
But a little distance between people, a few rules and regulations, and lots of comfort with yourself would probably help reduce the feeling of validation we seek from our close ones, thereby giving them infinite power over our happiness. A bit more self worth and a little less emotion – that should be the key to get out of this vicious cycle.
Best of luck all!
Shri T.A.S. Chellayya (15th August 1927 – 23rd September 2009) – Shri. T.A.S Chellayya was born in Madras, the 7th child in a family of ten. As a student he was promoted twice to higher classes, so that he could study at the pace he was capable of. By the time he was 16, he was asked by his father who entrusted in his hands – the responsibility of the family business – to work in Calcutta. He was told in no uncertain terms to start from scratch, which he did.
Five to six years later, he was called back to consolidate the business in Tamil Nadu and by then the young 20 year old was proficient in about 5 extra languages as well as the tricks of the trade.
The regal and stylish man in the above photograph is my grandfather. Or rather, I , the author of this post, am the proud grand daughter of the person in the picture above – Shri T.A.S. Chellayya. Liberal in thought and protective in action, I had a wonderful childhood that was very positively influenced by my grandparents from both sides – and as an adult now, I have learned to realise the values of the gifts I have received from them. I share with you, lessons I have learned from my grandfather.
Think around the subject – Ever since I started speaking and was receiving accolades from guests for reciting rhymes perfectly, It was my grandfather who drew my attention to phonetics. He would stump me asking me to spell and pronounce similar words like “put” and “but” – and revel in my confusion as I fumbled for a convincing answer. He was the person who asked me ” why do birds fly in a V-formation, and not any other letter of the alphabet? ” Mind you, I was too young to even think otherwise, but it was my grandfather who triggered the process of “thinking and reasoning” in me. If the “why?” of a concept was important – the “why not” of a solution found equal importance in his thought process
Laugh aloud – My grandfather was one who believed in happiness. When the mind is happy, let it reflect on your face and actions. People who closed their mouth with their hands, or tried to suppress their laughter were met with a stern glance from Thatha (grandfather), who would come up to you and say ” Laugh aloud – what are you afraid of? ”
Confidence – My Thatha had a soft corner for confident people. Walk with your head held high. Look at the world. Meet people in the eye. A firm handshake. Speak loudly and clearly. Simple instructions but worthy ones.
Equality, Respect and security of women – This is my favorite trait in my grandfather. If you have come across chauvinistic or insecure men in the current generation- think of the situation 5 decades ago. Men were raised to feel they were superior and women were brought up to accept they could be treated like second fiddle.
My grandfather was intelligent enough to be a scientist, suave as a model, smart enough to control a business empire, and creative enough to come up with unbelievable solutions in stressful situations – yet, he involved my grandmother in most of his decision making processes. He would encourage her to argue, if she did not subscribe to his point of view and would listen earnestly to her thoughts if she had any on any subject she was convinced about. This is a rare occurrence in today’s world – and I am proud of the fact that my grandfather was ahead of his times 50 years back.
A woman’s respect at home and in public was of utmost importance to him and there was never a day when he has ever belittled anyone based on gender. He was our security shield when we went out, when we took decisions, and when we disagreed with anyone.
In the 1950s and 60s – he insisted on educating every girl in his family, and not rushing to get her married as soon as possible, and absolutely refusing to give dowry – which was the norm those days. He also believed in financial security for women / girls and always encouraged them not to be dependent on another emotionally or financially.
You’re the Inventor – You are as smart as Newton – if you came up with the theory of Gravity on your own! If you ever went to my grandfather for help with anything simple before your exams – woe betide you. Unmindful of the pressure on you for the next day, he would make sure you discover the whole theorem / rule / grammar syntax – all by yourself, never giving you extra information to make the process easier. Hundreds of examples, clues to take your thoughts in the right direction, and millions of contradictions later – you would leave tired by putting your brain to use (finally!), happy that you understood the topic, but still full of fear for the exam next day (for we have learned just one of the topics 😉
I wish I had another fifty years with him, especially now when I have learned to admire and am in awe of his qualities even more. People thought he was complicated, but his simplicity was what they thought was complex. Many thought he was ambitious, but his clarity in thought was what raised him above the rest. Strong till the end, I still believe he is somewhere nearby. Looking out for me…. Missing you Thatha.
I keep hoping I never find events to give me material for a sequel, but yet it happens…
1. Baby Afreen – Everyone has been talking about battered baby Afreen, whose only fault was that she was born a ‘girl’ – something that was the fault of her chauvinistic father (scientifically/ chromosomo-logically speaking). While her teenaged mother (19 yearsof age) has to undergo the trauma of getting over the incident – I wonder why her parents agreed to marry her to a much older alcoholic, abusive and drug addict husband. Moreover – why did they not bring her back after her abortion? You see, baby Afreen was a twin baby who survived the term of pregnancy only to lose her life 3 months later.
What possesses a man to abuse his own child, put out cigarette stubs on her head and dislocate her neck, poison and smother the child? I am filled with disgust at this person.
2. Girls let off for killing father – While the first bit of the post dealt with father killing daughter. The second half of the post is about daughters killing their father, who sexually molested them for a long period of time. Finally the girls killed their dad in the presence of their mother (who probably thought it was best for her children) as an act of self defense. The three women did surrender to the law but have been let off under self-defense, even though termed a homicide.
I feel sad that the place we call home is no longer safe, the people we hope will protect us from external dangers, are people we have to defend ourselves against, and that gender discrimination still continues to exist. We need to grow up – not intellectually alone, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
Somethings that most temples (medium-big) with a fair amount of history will definitely have :
1. A Theppakulam ( Tank) somewhere in the vicinity, sometimes with a mandapam in the middle. The deity will be taken there during celebrations of the temple.
2. Much to the excitement and awe of devotees (irrespective of age), most temples used to have Elephants to be worshipped.
Though this is not a must in recent times, temples try to make sure there is an elephant for important functions and celebrations relating to the Temple.
There are many things that comprise Life in India. One cannot and may not classify them under any one blanket judgement.
Traditional – yes. Freaky modern – also yes. Family bound – yes. Infidelity – also yes. Snow – yes. Greenery -yes. Deserts and thorny landscapes- also yes. Karma – yes. Karmic Yoga – yes. Corrupt politicians – also yes. Astrology – yes. Occult-yes. Feng Shui and Tarot cards – also yes. Religion- yes Atheism – also yes.The Audi Q7 – yes. Bullock carts at a traffic signal – also yes. Aishwarya Rai – yes. Innumerable village beauties- also yes. Joint families – yes. Living in with partners – (more recently) yes! … and the list goes on. What I propose to do in this series (if it comes to that) is to highlight a facet of Life in India each time – sometimes great stuff and sometimes not so great.
DRIVING IN INDIA
To drive a vehicle in India you need special skill sets. Not everyone are equipped with those. According to popular belief – for driving you need hand-to-eye coordination, good judgement on the roads, adherence to traffic rules, and maybe a little bit of first-aid knowledge . In India, you need all this and more. I reiterate.
1.What would you do if – you are in a car going in one direction, and find yourself sandwiched between two huge luxury buses that are going in the opposite direction, trying to overtake each other – and therefore converging towards your car? Hand-to-eye co-ordination? I think not.
2.What would you do if – the bike rider behind you decides to squeeze past in the unbelievably small gap between your vehicle and the median? Good Judgement? Hmpph… And wait- this awesome racer will not go with the regular traffic flow, but will cut across vehicles twice his size in nano seconds to reach the other end of the road – in order to have a tender coconut!!!
3.If you escaped the other two situations , you would definitely have encountered the following one. Ceterus paribus (all things remaining the same) imagine cruising along the road at a normal speed, probably trying to get to office on time – I am sure you would have met this girl. She is a skinny coy girl, head bent down and crossing the road, unaware that you are coming at her in your luxury contraption. As you grapple with the wheel to avoid hitting this helpless girl – you find out that she was on auto-pilot as she crossed the road, head bent down – not because she was timid to make eye contact, but because she was texting! First-aid knowledge? Maybe a little …
Like I said before, you just have to be more talented to drive in India. You need more soft skills like – thinking out of the box (which you will have to do sometimes in self-defense) , physical skills like – good neuro-muscular coordination and extremely high reflexes, and a spiritual side too – an instant connection to the power above to save the many lives that you meet on a daily basis – on the road. And I forgot to mention the one quality stands between you and raging Insanity – Patience.
Woe betide you if you are a woman. Every man across every section of the society subscribes to the one opinion that – if something has gone wrong, it must be YOUR fault. The oestrogen. It does not matter if the guy in front of is tipsy after a little drink or just wallowing in his own EGO . He will unashamedly ask you ” I wonder why they grant licenses to women?”. And if you are wearing Sunglasses, the average Indian male registers your presence as a visually challenged person. So for women, the quality mentioned above alleviates to -Extreme patience.
Well to give you a fair idea, the 3 situations mentioned above are not stand alone situations. They happen all at once. The 2 buses coming at you, a bike guy trying to squeeze in between, and when you come out of the blind spot – you spot the “blind” girl walking slowly towards her destination. Add to this the separate rules that exist for the autorickshaws, the pedestrians who eat into the roads because there are no platforms, the people fitting banners and flags, the dug up roads, the cacophony of horns – You are finally in the everyday Indian driving situation!
I seriously believe that if you can drive in India, your skills are definitely easy to adjust anywhere else in the world. It is just like a video game – but the difference being – the first level is just as complicated as the last, and that you have just one life instead of three!!!