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 .
This image I observed on Social Media is the reason for today’s post.The whole single – ready-to- mingle stuff. Why is there so much hype attached to it? If someone is single, people are always trying to set you up. People talk to you about :
-The security of a relationship
– Your biological clock
– having your ‘own’ family
– a home
– becoming responsible
And woe betide you if you are single and Indian and over 30! Book your package deal with a therapist because you are going to have serious confidence, self -esteem issues. Depression even. Apathy? That’s better than depression. Seriously.
But wait. Talk to people in a relationship (read marriage) be it arranged or self made – the list of complaints is not short either.
– I just don’t have the time for myself
– In laws, In laws, In laws
– What do you know about the pressures of raising kids today?
– I’ve been taken for granted.
– I don’t know who I am , really.
– My Hobbies? Interests? What? Are you joking? I have forgotten those long ago..
– Don’t tell my wife/ husband about my outing… Please!
– I have to buy a “responsible” family car not the snazzy one I’ve been saving up for
– Career of my choice? Can’t shift now. Too much depends on me.
– Aah.. those were the carefree days when I was single.
Sounds familiar? Well, I don’t understand. If you are single , you want to be in a relationship. If you are in a relationship you want to be single again. Or do you just want to be in that in-between- courting stage? What gives? Let me address each issue in the image above first.
1. I annoy people : Yes. I annoy people by being bold and standing up to them. I have thoughts. And opinions. Try to make me understand . I will respect you for that.
2. I am never anyone’s first choice : You might also not be mine. Wondering why Ms. PYTs Or Mr.Balloon bicep type seem to always find the right person, while you struggle? Funny, when you are strong…
3. I f*** shit up : So people avoid me, as they need someone to cover up for them, because THEY f*** shit up too.
4. I am just bad with relationships : People are used to others putting up with their idiosyncrasies, so when I tell it to them on their face, they feel they’ve received a slap. And I have received my share of slaps of this genre too. So, I am just as bad / or good at this as you are.
5. I am not liked : I have wallowed in this area for quite awhile. And I am not afraid to admit that. Everyone wants someone to love them and someone whom they can love, so where’s the question of like?- They wanna leapfrog that and go straight for the love part! And you are so brought up to be the person others like. Else you might be considered selfish. Well, I have just one bit of advice – Give as much as you TAKE!
6. I’m an ugly ass mother-f***er : Body stereotypes. The bane of our lives today. Who sets these standards? Blue eyes. Fair skin. Bronzed look. Long legs. Tiny waist. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Curvy but not curvaceous. Swimsuit body. Be the natural you. Be physically and mentally strong. Respect the inborn strengths of your body. Ugly ass or not .. you will figure out.
7. I spend my whole life locked up in a dark room with food and a laptop : I think food and laptop are better companions than 90% of the people on the earth.
Not so much about the dark room.
And the rest?- books are a better choice! I wanted to use a lot of swear words here. Lalochezia and all that? Wondering what it is? Go read a book!
Coming back to the whole discussion about being single or otherwise. I have just one thought.
And then, for sure, it won’t be all paradise. Be prepared to work on it. Put effort. Shed some tears. Raise your voice. But if, at the end of the day – you feel safe in your head and thoughts and the opinions you want to voice. It is worth it.
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.
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.
A short post after the huge event of the day. The huge earthquake at Aceh, Indonesia – made its presence felt all over the world. While the press and media will have some fodder to feed upon for the next week – I shudder to think of the physical, mental and emotional trauma that the affected people are going through at this time. My prayers and genuine thoughts for people whose lives have turned upside down in an instant. May their lives and mental strength bounce back to normal soon.
That being said – the choice of my title might be rather surprising for many, or even cynical. I am neither advocating it to be a welcome change of scenario from our otherwise monotonous existence nor feigning superficial courage over an event that some term as ‘exciting’, unmindful of the actual destruction caused.
The tremors were felt in Madras at 2.14 pm. What the earthquake warning taught me were some lessons. As I heard many people with their versions of the experience it was quite obvious that the earthquake set things in perspective for many people. When the tremors were first felt – most people encountered :
Self -doubt – They thought they felt giddy, some thought their blood pressure had dropped, some attributed it to low blood sugar levels, some thought their lunch had gone bad, some spoke about bad eyesight as their computer monitors were going crazy, and some thought that another person was pushing them around.
Priority check – Despite everyone running after money, fame, work, politics, gossip – when faced with an event that nature throws at you a.k.a Earthquake / Tsunami, one aspect took precedence over all others – LIFE! People were frantic to save their own lives and check on the status of their loved ones too (which was a little difficult – thanks to congestion and mobile connectivity issues.) People wanted to flee to get to the safety of their families – Work, office, career all took a backseat as each person wanted to safeguard their children, parents, grandparents, pets. The usually uncrowded streets ( between 4-6 pm) , were choked with bumper to bumper traffic with each person trying to outdo the other in their efforts to reach home.
People over materials – Another refreshing point that the tremors uncovered was the lack of importance one gave for their expensive material possessions when actually confronted with a serious issue. When asked to evacuate immediately – most people ran to get out first, leaving behind wallets, expensive cell phones, and other valuable items. Money and material possessions – were actually forgotten for awhile. An instant bond was created as strangers were willing to share phones – so that one may cross check on the safety of family and friends, with others volunteering to post messages on Facebook / Twitter, and some willing to lend some emergency funds to get to a child’s school and pick them up.
These were the joys that the earthquake brought to me. That there is still hope. That there still is a friendly neighbour or colleague. That there is someone who would lend us a helping hand. How good it is to trust. To feel one with the society. And not having to play the self-defense game forever.It is heartening to note that some small joys are still not forgotten and that people still have not yet fully been sucked into the vortex of greed and apathy. I only wish it did not have to be an event of such magnitude to force us face our choices. Here’s to a new life and new thoughts…