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Fear of love

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I saw a puppy today. I called out. He stopped in his tracks and turned to stare at me. His tail began to wag. I called out again, kept being playful. His tail wagged further; wagged furiously at one point. You could almost hear the tail whip the air around and make a funny, subtle sound.

I slowly stepped down from where I stood, eager to inch closer to him, letting him see me as an ally. I was dying to pet him and play. He wagged his tail and made an amazing puppy face right back at me. But every step I took towards him, he retreated one step away from me.

He continued to wag, continued to give me that adorable look, and continued to step away until he ran off. He stood far away, by the gate, continued to stare at me. But he refused to come closer. I gave up after a point, and walked away.

I wonder if this what we humans do as well; to ourselves and to our relationships. One’s love for love is sometimes overridden by the fear of love.

 

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Auto-inspiration!

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Every now and then I prefer taking an auto to work – just so that I get to preserve my peace of mind for the day and let someone else handle the stress of getting me to and fro between work and home! The cherry on the cake for this one day in particular was rains! Imagine – you get to relax and eat your khakhra (yes, I am a Gujju!), watch the traffic around, take a stock of the new shops and showrooms that have sprung up on the way, and just be for a while!

The moment I settled into the auto, the driver reminded of how reasonable his quoted fare was (aah, the arbitrariness of meter-less transport!). I had to agree though, quite genuinely. I smiled and told him how he had saved me of the mindless haggle that I was expecting to go through just go get back home in the rains. This seemed to work as an invitation for him to launch into his observations about how the traffic and people’s driving are only deteriorating with time. These days, bitching about traffic seems to have become one of my best stress-busters anyway. It is a wonderful feeling to know you are not alone in your observations of how the driving skills are going for a toss! As I continued to listen to him, it became increasingly clear that he could not have been an auto-driver for too long. His tone, mannerisms, language, the choice of words, all sounded like they belonged elsewhere.

I asked him if he had been doing this for long. He said he had begun to drive an auto only 9 months back – a forced new profession at the age of 58! He ran a paan shop for a good 42 years of his life, having begun in early adulthood. He ran his shop right at the corner of the District court’s gate. This gave him easy access to all the good lawyers (not that he ever needed them until a few years back). Further, this vantage point also allowed him the honour to present a paan to the iconic bollywood actor – Lt. Pran Sikand. The loyal lawyer customers also helped him to get up close and personal with the Deol family when they were in Rajkot shooting for their movie Apne! So far so good. I was wondering how the auto driving would fit in with such a smooth life line.

Three years back however, he was hit by a motorcycle while buying vegetables one evening. This accident damaged both his legs, thus leading him to be hospitalized for a really long time. This was also the time when his shop was demolished as a part of some restructuring. The aforementioned loyal lawyer customers ceased to be as loyal, of course. As a result, he continues to visit the court regularly with his wife, in order to receive his financial claim post the demolition. Returning to the tragic episode, after spending a good 1.5-2 years with no specific progress, they moved to a small town nearby. He spent about a year there being treated the Ayurveda way. The final outcome however, remained the same – he would not be able to return to a fuller and regular functioning for his legs.

With steel rods in both his legs, a capacity to walk not more than 10 steps at a time, he told himself it was time to do something else with his life. He thus chose driving an auto to keep himself active and continue to earn while he could. Both of  his daughters have married already and his son owns and runs a cycle shop, which seemed to be doing quite well. My auto-uncle worked for the joy of it and to feel alive. He does not feel the need to charge any added fares in difficult times (nights, rains, sweltering heat, etc). He does not take breaks based on the weather like a lot of other auto-drivers he knows tend to do. He does not even bother to cut the call when his mobile rings in the middle of a ride. He does not care about getting late in reaching somewhere because he believes life is more important than rushing to get past other vehicles. He was a genuinely happy man.

I have very rarely met people so content with life, despite the shit having been thrown at them. He joked and spoke about the older times (his times, as against mine); how they were so much better in every respect; how everything had a more humane quality to it.

He philosophized at a point, looking at the rains spoiling all preparations for Garba around –  everything is supposed to happen for a reason. When we look at the larger picture, the different pieces of the puzzle do fit in well. I personally, love this philosophy. It makes sense to me. It lets me find peace when circumstances are hard to digest (at least right away). A lot of situations do not make sense even later maybe. But having faith in the larger picture helps. It made me wonder how capable an individual can be of creating a symphony out of the sounds of life as well as of playing it like a broken record. It all boils down to one’s perspectives. Perspectives boil down to one’s choices.

He never sounded sorry for himself or about life for a moment while he talked. That is what inspiration is probably supposed to look like – having been broken down, and having successfully patched itself back to full form.

 

For far too long

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For far too long now, I have held on to the grudge. I haven’t let you go. I haven’t let your touch wash off. I haven’t let those moments leave my mind. I haven’t let go of my anger. In time and space I have moved on. But in my mind, it seems to have frozen right there. The way I felt, the way I didn’t feel. That fear and disgust. That guilt. They haven’t left me yet entirely.
You violated me in a way that was too personal and close. An offense that would not easily leave me, in my mind, in my body.
You took for granted a very basic permission that was never given to you. You assumed to be your’s what wasn’t up for use. You left marks that were not visible but burnt the same. You helped me create a bridge with those around me.

I was never given the satisfaction of seeing you punished. Punished? I was never even granted the relief of seeing you accused for your own faults. They got lost in the folds of relationships somewhere, of blood and society. My cries and disgust slowly found themselves wrapped in the cloak of time and secrecy. Those times when I found the voice and courage to express, you looked away, and so did the others. I bore the shame of those moments and the pride of being my own saviour equally privately. I was (and am) willing to take the risk of making that shame public only to be able to feel that pride openly as well.
I have deeply hated your smiles, the times you have looked happy, the times I have been compelled to consider you to be a part of the family, the times I have had to be associated with you. I have hated how you never seemed to face any troubles, while I seethed within. I have felt suffocated in your presence.

You were the one who made the mistake, you were the one who took for granted way too many things and yet I was the one paying for it – in my mind, in the way I felt, in the way I stayed away. It was unfair. And that is probably an understatement. It is something I have hated for far too long.

I choose to let it go for good though. I will never look at you with any respect, of course. I have no qualms in disliking you and your presence each time I have to face you. I will never trust you, nor understand those who do. But there is something I will do, however. I will be calm; in my body and mind. I don’t need to boil within anymore. I do not need to shed tears of frustration and anger when I am forced to be around you. I am not going to feel disappointed in those who could have helped, but didn’t; they were doing what they knew best. I am not going to waste my breath on cursing you anymore or trying to catch you in the bad light for others to see.

I am going to walk ahead this point onward. I need love, not the hate and regrets. I might always feel sad about the past. But I will find the strength to be myself each time. It is sad that you will never understand what it takes to forgive someone. I hadn’t known it all this while either. I do now. And it gives me the space to breathe.

I am going to breathe. Deeply. And live.

Rushing through the now to get elsewhere later..

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I have gotten it all wrong, gotten it all backwards probably.

It has been one of the longest phases of life this time when I have been unable to shake off the feeling of gloom, monotony and have found it difficult to look forward to just about anything and everything. There are spurts here and there. Some things feel big enough or important enough to react to. And that reaction then lasts for about only as long as it can sustain by itself. Then we are back with the gloom, the black clouds.

In retrospect, I realize it has entirely been associated with the frustration of having been unable to meet a certain target; ‘settling down’ to be more precise.

Often when people around you begin to believe that there is something else you should rather be pursuing, in a matter of time, you might actually end up fooling yourself into agreeing to it. Worse is when you internalize it and make it your belief. So now you have a more intense problem to deal with – not only do people expect you to pursue a certain goal, so do you! And then it is harder to be able to see beyond it.

I have been frustrated, tired, dreamy, hopeful, resentful, sad and even defeated at different points in time during the past few months. And when you allow something to get onto you as much, sadly just about everything around you seems to resonate the same idea. And thus, all mentions of anything remotely related to marriage – your age, friends settling down, future career plans, investing into something major – just about everything around you begins to trigger difficult disturbances.

Bearing these and much more of a mess in mind, I headed out for a quick dinner with an old school friend. Technically a junior, she just got married last month. With the background in mind, there’s probably little need to talk about what all I would have thought about the meeting and how sorry I might have judged my situation to be.

To say that I feel absolutely different after one dinner meeting might sound lofty but feels absolutely real. I complained about my struggle and my state, which needs to change but refuses to nonetheless. But what my friend said to me in response, based on her understanding, led to an interesting paradigm shift.

To not have married by a certain age has its own frustrations and social judgements to be dealt with. But to have been married by a certain age has its own downfall for an individual (more so a girl) too!

When you commit to another person, another family, you somewhere enter into an unsaid agreement of making changes and adjustments as required. And this is not so much to do with being a male or a female but more to do with the fact that two people choose to be co-responsible for several aspects of life. This, by default, invites changes and adjustments.

So when I get to make my own decisions, expland my work the way it excites me, execute hastily made plans, travel unplanned, and take things at my own pace, I am getting to do something that has its own charm and importance in life.

More often than not, it is difficult to appreciate something fully well unless you are close to losing it or have already lost it. But when it is still all your’s and you can manage to crack through that feeling of wanting to treasure it, it needs to be savoured. It needs to be remembered as vividly as possible to not let go of that powerful benefit.

What I am saying in other words is that while there are disappointments (and will continue to be) there is also the possibility of marvelling what exists already, what is mine.

And I know for a fact and deep within me that I don’t want to make the mistake of rushing past the life that is, in order to make it elsewhere later. When I do that, I cheat on both the now and the later.

It is how the author Robert Pirsig puts it in ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, “I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things”.

And if getting onto other things is what you really want in the first place, why fret so much over things you don’t yet have?

I like to believe in signs and thus I like to believe in the idea that having this conversation tonight and reading such a strong sentiment post that had to happen together to tell me where I was going wrong. If I exercise my choice to live through my life in the now, as it unfolds before me, I earn the choice to feel differently too.

That unfailing Sun

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I have begun to love seeing these sunrises..between feeling groggy and rushing off

One of those beautiful mornings when the nature smiles upon you

One of those beautiful mornings when the nature smiles upon you

to work. They feel surreal, beautiful and heavenly. There is something so calming and at the same time energizing about seeing the Sun come up daily. And the best part is, it manages to be there daily. Just like how I see your presence in my life. Or mine in your’s. It beats me how there is never even a shade of doubt about the Sun coming up in the mornings, about it managing to spread those beautiful colours across the sky. That’s what reliability is. That’s what consistency is. That’s what inspires the trust. That is what I think of when I think of you and your love. The kind of a bond that won’t ever give up on me – even on days when I fail to wake up on time, on days when the rains refuse to let the Sun peek in, even on days when I might be shut indoors all day, I know the Sun will be shining outside unfailingly; I know you will be waiting for me just the same. I love the sunsets equally so. I like them because they give me the time to want the next sunrise. I like the sunsets because they compel me to face the darkness, force me to navigate my way out; out where there is better light and hope. I like the sunsets because they help me not to take the days for granted. I like the sunsets also because they tell me I’ll have to earn that next sunrise by going through the hell night might bring along. And more often than not, that struggle has been worth it. Maybe that is why I have grown to depend on you and your love so much. Because each time you move away, you come back; and you always will. Sometimes I might have to earn that time we spend together by holding my act together on my own until then, sometimes I might just barely drag myself through the interim. But that doesn’t matter. All nights have ended in sunrises; they always do.

I don’t know whether I love the glow of a sunrise because it reminds me of you or whether I love you because you bring in that pleasant morning feeling. But then I am not in any hurry to figure that out. I am happier basking in the contentment I feel. I am happy adoring that Sun as it comes up each day and reminds me of someone I know who is as dependable on, as is that beautiful Sunrise.

Growing up…

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It took the greater part of a day, and then I grew up.

Sudden and uncertain, that’s how most dramatic events in life unfold; whether good or bad. There’s hardly ever a time to rehearse things out, to try and plan your reactions, or even to brace yourself. That’s how today unfolded as well. Another of those seemingly routine days; appointments following the clock and the clock following the appointments. And then came the jolt, as is supposed to happen on such days.

Despite my dislike, despite the discomfort and despite not having figured out how to behave, Life kind of manages to throw up deaths at me every once in a while. It is almost as if she keeps a watch. When I gradually become comfortable with the routine and keep focusing on helping people the best I can, through therapy, Life chooses to remind me that there will always be events beyond anyone’s control and wishes.

But today was not so much about the death. It wasn’t even about the uncertainty. I am probably getting better at seeing it as an inevitable aspect of life. Today essentially was about growing up, and as I said earlier, in about half a day.

I never found the time to stop and check with myself about how and when I learnt to say the right things, do the right things, and console the right people. There were several instances when I nearly gave in to my urges of wanting to run down and seek solace in my mother’s arms or maybe my father’s arms. Each of those times when I almost got up, something pulled me down again (and no, that was not gravity). It was the need to stick around for someone else that got the better of those urges, every single time. When I got a stranger’s car out of their parking lot to run errands, I knew I had turned into someone other people chose to rely on. When I downed one cup of coffee, washed the tear stains off and headed to the clinic to meet with the pre-fixed appointments, I learnt that I could get to work at the cost of my discomfort. When I dragged my father out from the middle of a crowd of upset people; sat him down at a nearby restaurant and ensured his diabetes doesn’t go haywire, I realized I had moved onto being practical and rational.

Being relied upon, being looked upon by people older to you, being considered as someone who can shoulder the pain, trauma and tears, being seen a shield for someone younger to you, and to cease being the person people feel the need to worry about – they all tell you that you grew up somewhere along the way.

Growing up is more in the mind. Somethings probably won’t remain the same in my mind anymore. Certain events act as an announcement, for yourself and those around you. I went through one such event today. It told me I have grown up. And it told the others around as well that I have grown up.

With a tinge of sadness, and mostly a lot of calm acceptance, I am now aware that it is all going to be alright no matter what. No matter who chooses to stay, no matter who chooses to go; no matter who makes their way into my life, no matter who I never get to meet with; no matter how big the repertoire of my experiences will be, no matter how confined my life remains in the vastness of Life; no matter whether I appreciate it or not, what is going to happen is going to happen. I am going to continue living, and I am going to continue to function, as long as I choose to. The day I decide to throw my hands up in the air and give up, no matter who will be around and no matter what help I’ll find, it just won’t be enough. We are all quite literally on our own in this path of Life. Its about finding good company on the way, and savouring it while it lasts.

When there is no ever-after..

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The age we live, nothing seems to have an end. You moved to a new place, broke up with someone you loved, your friend moved to a new city, you changed jobs, your parents chose not to move base with you, so on and so forth. It is not a ‘big deal’ anymore, is it?

There are a ridiculous number of ways in which we can all stay in touch from wherever we are; and at times, we ‘stay in touch’ even when we would rather not.

What I wonder about more off late is how would it have been if there would have been no ‘ever afters’. If every final goodbye had really been final; would that last hug have lasted a few seconds longer? Would there be more tears? Would there be a different kind of pain; the pain that you cannot share with the one you feel it for? Would it help me treasure my time with a person a little more because I know there is only so much of it left? Would we appreciate a person just a little more because we know they won’t always be around, not even to talk to on the phone, and definitely not to share pictures on Whatsapp. Would we put in more efforts in all our interactions; or would we be more ‘present’ wherever we are? Would we take in more of that experience because there might be no sharing and reliving later on?

I want to be able to go back into the time when a goodbye really meant a goodbye. When keeping in touch was not easy as it is now. When there was a possibility for all of us to work on our patience, when we couldn’t instantly gratify every need, especially that of having our loved ones around us.

In the times of an ease of access, I wonder how the pain of a separation for good would have made us different as individuals, and maybe as a society.

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