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A FLASHBACK

When Charlie sent this picture to me, I remembered my childhood days. I mean, what a coincidence! The picture depicts my childhood. 

It has two kids and a real cycle down there. I and my cousin would ride a bicycle with the same expression. It was my childhood dream to own a bicycle. I never had one and this always made me feel inferior. I used to see my friends and cousins riding their new and colorful bicycle. It is not that my parents couldn’t afford one but they had priorities. They thought to pay my school fees and buying me a new school uniform was way too important than buying a bicycle. 

Whenever I sat on the back of my uncle’s bicycle, I felt as if I am on the top of the world. I used to sing whole way and never wished the ride to end. Some days, I used to throw tantrums for not eating food and weeping until my uncle would promise me for a bicycle ride. Such a drama queen I was!

Anyways, I used to ride my cousin’s bicycle. He was around 4 years old and I was around 9. He knew I don’t have one and how fond I am of a bicycle, so he asked me to ride his bicycle. But I didn’t know how to ride. I fell down every time. I would come home with skinned elbows and knees. My aunt would scold me for this. 

(Image Credit: Pixabay.com)

Then one day my cousin told, “Di today I will help you in riding the bicycle. Come sit and I will give you the support.” That evening, my Grandpa came out of the house and saw me trying my best to not to fall from the bicycle. He said, “Sit, I will hold the bicycle from behind and you have to put one foot on the paddle and then after paddling put the second.” I followed his instruction and to my utter surprise, this time I didn’t fall. I rode the bicycle for a complete 2 minutes and this was my biggest achievement till that day. I saw my cousin jumping happily. After that day, both of us would ride together. He used to hold me tightly while sitting behind me on the bicycle.

There were five bicycles in our street. Those who had would come along with their bicycles and then we would ride each of them turn by turn. Life was so easier then and we were so happier those days. I remember we used to celebrate birthdays by giving permission to ride the bicycle for a complete 3 minutes and that person could take the bicycle down the street to the old lamp post. Sunday mornings were dedicated for cleaning the bicycle. We used to participate equally and with full enthusiasm for the cleaning program.

Presently, I still don’t have a bicycle. But now I don’t feel pity or inferior. Because I have those memories where we used to share our belongings with each other.

These days, we are not willing to spare some time for people, forget about the belongings. If anyone parks his/her vehicle under our house, in no time we yell at them. In fact, if somebody asks for a lift or a ride, our calm expression turns into a frowning one. Even when someone asks for our help or assistance to do work, we pay no heed. We feel blaming others for our failure is easier. 

But we must keep in our mind once we welcome people with an open heart all the bitterness that we hold in our heart will vanish like a vapor. 

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LET THEM GET DIRTY, LET THEM EXPLORE

Those tiny little feet are a bundle of joy. We do our best to take care of the little baby in the house, from massaging to cleaning, from caring and pampering to child-proofing the house. But, as the little baby grows up old enough, we forget that the tiny baby isn’t tiny anymore. Instead of making her/him independent, we go overboard in making the child dependant on us for every little thing. Why?  Simply because we fear that they might not be able to do themselves or think that doing things for them is easier than making them learn themselves. And as our little children grow up into adults, we expect them to take their own responsibility themselves and make decisions themselves.

(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

Look into the picture, the soft pink feet of the baby are covered in sand. As the child learns to walk, those always so clean feet and legs are bound to get dirty. As the infant becomes a toddler and starts tottering, she/he is likely to get some bruises. So, should we stop putting the baby on the ground or the floor?

The answer is simply no. We can’t lock their exploring bodies and creative minds for the sake of safety. Children can’t learn unless they have hands-on experience.

It’s better to let them fall so that they learn how to succeed from their failures.  Instead of giving into their wants, make them learn how to wait and let them learn how to deal with NOs in their lives.

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HE MAKES, BREAKS AND SHAPES US

In the church, we usually share our praise points and prayer points so that we can praise God for all the good things He had done in our lives and pray for all our needs along with the whole congregation. Last week, I stood up to share my heart, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I said, “I am thinking why I am living on this earth if I am causing so much pain to others.”

It was my hurt and my anger made me pour my heart like that in front of all but I kept on speaking quoting one verse from the Bible which reads, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” This verse let me understand that God owns everything and if He can establish the whole creation on the seas and on the waters then He can surely establish me on any difficult path. Remember, the very nature of water lets everything to drown in it yet, it was God who established His handy work on it. I was comforted soon afterward though my heart still hurts. 

(Picture Credit: Pixabay.com)

But when I saw this image God spoke in my heart again and I chose it for myself to reflect on it.

A potter takes the clay which is so easily moldable. He puts it on the wheel and spins it. The clay may be modeled by hand or fingers while the potter’s wheel spins. The raw moldable clay soon molded into different forms as directed or designed by the potter. After a pot is designed or given a form the potter dries it with fire to make it strong and usable.

What a beautiful picture it is…! It is like God shaping us as He wishes and defines our purposes on this earth.

I used to always grumble with God for creating me with such an ailment for which I had to suffer a lot and was held responsible for so many things which were not even in my hand. I used to question God when I was young. But later, He made me so strong that nothing had really shaken or discouraged me until the last few months. My present hurts and agony reminded me of my brokenness and how weak I am.

Yet… Yeah, Yet, I don’t lose hope on Him who says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” And lo and behold, today when I visited the potter’s house through this picture and saw how he was making something on the wheel. When the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 

Whoa!

We all are in The Potter’s hands. And we are all safe in His hands. He will make us, He will break us, He will shape us into beautiful pots to be used beautifully in this earth and the life to come for eternity.

Stay Blessed!

SNAKE – A REPTILE THAT REFLECTS VOLUMES OF WISDOM

There was a big pond at the backyard of one of our rented houses and throughout the year it was filled with different types of fishes, snakes, and reptiles – creepy crawly creatures. It was the exact replica of the image of the Amazon forest in my geography book. Every time I found venomous snakes gulping something, moving on the ground or in the water. In fact, it was next to our bedroom, so especially in rainy season one of my most regular scary dreams was venomous snakes entering into our house through our bedroom window and skylight holes. It used to be the only place where my great gully cricket teammates won’t dare to go in search of the ball. The only time I would dare to go there is during summer vacation to watch my cousin brother killing snakes with an iron rod, stones and sticks. And I use to scare him saying, the snake has taken your picture in his eyes and its mate will surely kill you one-day. Of course, he is alive today, as it was my reference from the famous Bollywood movie “Nagin” (based on snakes).

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales and with highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes’ paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. They range in size from 4 inches (Barbados thread snake to 393 inches long (reticulated Python). 70% of them are oviparous (lay eggs) while the rest are non-oviparous but they do not go through the larval stage. Isn’t it so amazing? There are approximately 3,600 known species of snakes in the world, out of it only 375 species are venomous and harmful for humans. Snakes are found in every continent except Antarctica and other small land masses such as New Zealand, Ireland, and Iceland. According to their evolution snakes have orders and suborders. All the modern snakes are grouped into the suborder Serpentes, again the suborder has two infraorders; Scolecophidia which comprises of 5 snake families mainly of the blind snakes and Alethinophidia which include the non-blind snakes. Scolecophidia comprised of about 305 known species while Alethinophidia is made up of over 2,600 species and sometimes split into Henophides and Caenophides. Caenophides consists of Colubridae – the largest 19 snake families (51% of all known snakes), Colubridae snakes comprise the largest 1,866 species, Viperidae (341 species), Elapids (359 species), Lamprophiidae (314 species), Biodae (60 species), and Uropedltidae (55 species). Infraorder Scolecophidia is made of 5 snake families mainly consisting of blind snakes. The largest family Typhlopidae consists of 266 species, mainly the typical blind snakes. The family Leptotyphlopidae is made up of 139 species, mainly the slender blind snakes. The other three families are Gerrhopilidae (18 species), Anomalepidae (18 species of primitive blind snakes), and Xenotyphlopidae which consist of only One species; the round-nosed blind snake of Northern Madagascar. This is just an overview or can be counted as a micro set of information about the snake species.

Snakes have a wide diversity of skin coloration patterns. These patterns are a tendency to flee from predators, it is also their hunting strategy, as their pattern allows them to send little information to prey about motion. The blotched snakes usually use ambush-based strategies, it helps them to blend into an environment with irregularly shaped objects, like sticks and rocks.

Snakes also go through a molting process. The younger one goes 4 times in a year and the older once or twice in a year. Before the molt, they do not eat and hides or moves into a safe place to shed their skin. Molt keeps the snake young and helps to get rid of parasites such as mites and ticks.

Talking about snake without mentioning their venom! Oh, it doesn’t complete the talk. Snakes are a symbol of venom. Cobras, Vipers and closely related species use venom to immobilize or kill their prey. The venom is modified saliva, delivered through fangs. Snake venom majorly preys specifically whereas their role of defense comes secondary. Venomous snakes are classified into three taxonomic families:

  • Elapids – Cobras including King Cobras, Kraits, Mambas, Australian Copperheads, Sea snakes, and Coral snakes
  • Viperids – Vipers, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads/Cotton Mouths and Bushmasters.
  • Colubrids – Boomslangs, Tree Snakes, Vine Snakes, Mangrove Snakes, although not all Colubrids are venomous.

Out of 725 species of venomous snakes worldwide, only 250 species are able to kill a human in one bite. In India every year 2,50,000 snakebites are recorded and out of them, 50,000 recorded as initial death.

Snake venoms are also used in Medicines and much other healing and powerful aids after going through many kinds of’ medical filtration processes. Alongside, for an evil purpose, snake venoms, blood, skins, meat are used as a kind of too expensive injectable drug and starter food with wine. One of such, globally known places is “Snake Ally” located at Taipei, Taiwan in Japan.

Now, let’s take a look at Snakes in Business – In some part of the world, especially in India, snake charming is a roadside cultural show performed by a charmer. It has also relevance to Hindu mythology. It is a game in which the charmer plays the flute and the snake dances according to the tune. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1952 in India technically proscribes snake charming on the grounds of reducing animal cruelty. Snake meat is also served as a Japanese cuisine especially in Taipei, Taiwan. Snake venoms are used as an expensive injectable drug and also medicines for arthritis, cancer and many deadly diseases. Snakeskin is also used as the most expensive leather garment, house decoration accessories, and handbags.

Huh, my goodness! This is just a glimpse on the scariest creepy crawling reptile – SNAKE, there are endless volumes to discuss. Snakes are symbolized as the wisest of all animals. The Bible tells the human to be wise as a snake.

Learning from a snake, a wise reader at the end of his reading always looks for a takeaway, in other words, AN ANALOGY for life. What’s that here?

Snake is just one among those many creepy crawly creatures which reflect the strength of being wise, wisdom on how to survive in opposing environment and contributing to others’ need. What a creature we have in our creation!

An English proverb says, “CREATION WITHOUT A CREATOR IS IMPOSSIBLE TO EXIST”!

Indeed! There is no single amount of doubt that the Creator of Snake is – God, The LORD. He deserves our praise for such a beautiful creation of His’. A reverse of our thought is all that we need – Worshiping the Creator instead of His creation.

I LOVE TO WORK WITH A SNAIL PACE

Oh man, Aaii (Nani)… Look at this… there are so many snails invading our verandah…” I screamed when I saw 20 odd snails climbing on the verandah at my maternal grandparent’s home. And it happens only during the rainy season. I was a little boy then. If you see that scene I am describing, you will feel exactly as if you are watching a sci-fi movie with sluggish aliens invading your territory.

The snails are one of the ugliest looking creatures that we find around us. I always had a curiosity to hold them in my palms but never got that courage to do so. And these days when I have the courage, I don’t see them.

The snails are Invertebrate (Animals that do not have a vertebral column), Exoskeleton (External skeleton that protects the body of an animal) and Hermaphrodites (A living organism that has reproductive organs of both sexes) creatures.

Usually, there are different types of snails around the world which are mainly categorized according to their habitats – Land snails, Clean Water snails, and Sea snails. Some edible snails are reared for the purpose of different delicacies. There are some French cuisines prepared especially made of snails. I would love to taste them one day. There is an interesting fact that I found about the snails which have been used as famine food in historical times. Wikipedia mentions, a history of Scotland written in the 1800s recounts a description of various snails and their use as food items in times of plague.

The snails are also found in different sizes. They are as tiny as a bee or wasp and as big as the size of a rabbit. Unbelievable!

Giant African Land Snail

See the picture above. It is a Giant African Land Snail, a pet of that woman. But it is better not to keep them as pet as it’s considered one of the most invasive pests in the world and is believed responsible for carrying a parasite (in its slime, no less) that is responsible for a form of meningitis that is harmful to humans.

The shells of snails have been used as ornaments and decorative items. They are very popular among people around the world.

A snail is usually symbolically denoted to laziness – the sin of sloth because of their slow movements. But unless we crush them to ground, they are invincible and persistent in their journey which they start with a pace which the world never appreciates.

Sometimes, when I look at myself, I relate to it. Many things I am unable to do with the pace usually the world expects from a normal person. I do it slowly and calmly, without any hurry. I get annoyed when someone asks me to do things quickly which is beyond my ability.

The laid back (not lazy) people are happy people like me despite my struggles, I feel.  Therefore, I would conclude that it is better not to fall prey to the sin of sloth but it is also important for not to fall prey to the rat race of this world. I would prefer to be a snail, rather neglect my loved ones by running around money.

Stay Blessed!

VALUABLE LESSONS FROM THE SPIDER

You must’ve seen me around you some time or the other. In case you haven’t, you must’ve at least heard about the encounter of the valiant king Robert Bruce with one of my brethren. Let me remind you about that encounter in brief. The king of Scotland, Robert Bruce had been defeated six times in battle by the army of England. He was dejected and was in hiding in a cave. That’s when he spotted one of my brethren trying to spin a web – attempting again and again till success was achieved. King Bruce was inspired and got up to attack England again. This time he was victorious!

We spiders don’t have lofty ambitions. But, we are pretty much target-oriented. Whatever target we fix, we make sure to achieve it. We don’t leave any work undone if its within our capacity. Take for example, spinning our webs. At times we face external hindrances while spinning our webs. Gusts of winds blow them away, rains wash them away or humans brush our webs off to keep their houses clean. But, we start all over again. We do not give up! Well, yes, we create nuisance for humans by finding a space for ourselves in the corners of their houses till we are discovered. But, then that’s how we survive. Think of it human readers – don’t give up till your targets are achieved. Don’t get discouraged by hindrances. Keep working on your goals with focus, and you will attain success in the work of your hands.

Do you know why we spin webs? To trap prey for our food. You would’ve observed the fine threads of a spider’s web. Let me tell you one secret about the threads. They are our unique gifts. These are not ordinary threads. The threads we spiders use are fine silk threads produced by our silk glands. Again, there is no uniformity in the type of silk that we use to spin the web. The threads can be thick or thin, dry or sticky, rough or smooth. We use the type of silk depending upon the prey that we are planning to trap for the meal. After all, like human beings, we too have our meal moods and varying tastes! We are grateful to our Creator for gifting us with such special silk glands. Our Creator has gifted something special to each of His creation. Discover the special ability you have been blessed with and use it to proclaim your uniqueness.

We don’t hesitate to enter into lofty towers or kings palaces, though we are negligible, tiny and unwanted. We give priority to our survival tasks. A wise writer writes about us, “The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.” We want to encourage you not to be taken aback by the gigantic personalities in your lives – but, to be clear about your tasks and prioritize them even if it would require you to barge into unwanted terrains and face difficult people.

You may have observed another thing about us. We walk on our ways alone. You will never see clusters of spiders together spinning a web. We don’t hesitate to walk alone on our paths. Teamwork is good, desirable and essential in certain circumstances. But, in our lives, we walk the way on our own. A message to our human readers, don’t be afraid to walk your path alone. You may not always find favourable company or the support that you desire. But, that shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. Keep on moving ahead by yourself knowing that your Creator is close beside you.

I believe I have given a brief peek into myself and those belonging to my clan. You’ll find us everywhere – of course, the type of our species depends upon the climatic conditions of the place. Antarctica is the only continent that remains unchartered for us. But, now with the global temperatures increasing, we’ll be there soon too.

So yes, fix your targets, discover your special inner abilities, prioritize your goals without being afraid of people or circumstances and lastly, never hesitate to walk the path alone.

Next time, you spot one of my brethren, be sure to recall and strive to practise these four lessons!

THE CRAWLIES WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS BEFORE GETTING WINGS

Eew! Eeks! Boo! Spooky! Scary! Aaa…!

We usually utter such words whenever we spot a creepy crawly around us. As I start writing on this topic, I feel the tickling sensation as if a bug is going to hop upon my arm or I am going to step on those wiggly worms!

In spite of the petrifying feeling these little creatures give, they are fascinating, at least for the kids. That’s why there are so many children’s books written on these creepy crawlies.

Lio Lionni’s Inch By Inch depicts the story of an inchworm who tries to measure the world around him and avoids being eaten by predators.

There’s an interesting book by Jane Yolen, Bug Off which is a collection of creepy crawly poems, which in fact are very inspirational, eg.-

An army of ants, in their working class pants,

They don’t sop for movies, they don’t stop to dance.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman is about how the bees who apart from sharing the nectar, share the load also.

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot to learn from nature, even from the teeny-weeny organisms.

One of the favourite books of children is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kids love it so much that I read it to them almost every day, especially to my 3-year-old. It describes the journey of a caterpillar who starts his journey from an egg and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It is such a fascinating book in which the caterpillar eats so much that he becomes big and fat from tiny.

That’s one of the most important jobs of a caterpillar- to eat. They eat as much as 27,000 times the weight of their body during the life cycle. Also called the eating machines, caterpillars have the fastest growth rate than any animal.

(Preeta, with her tiny friends)

Another distinct feature of caterpillars is that it may have upto 4000 muscles in its tiny body. No, I am not kidding. It’s really strange that nature has made us such- we humans with just 650 muscles in a huge body might suddenly start feeling so small!

Caterpillars outgrow their skin and also shed it 3 to 5 times. After the final detaching, they stick themselves on a tree branch and enter the pupa stage. After the process of metamorphosis, they become moths or butterflies.

Sometimes, I also wish I could develop a cocoon around myself so that I can have a “me time” and transform myself, shedding all the pessimism inside me!

One typical trait of caterpillar really surprises me is that despite 6 pairs of eyes, it has poor eyesight and relies on its antennae for searching food. In order to be safe, caterpillars group themselves in a row, mimicking a snake and fooling the predators.

Some caterpillars also associate themselves with ants in order to seek protection and provide them food as a reward. Now, that’s I call business!

We all are vulnerable, yet unique. We feel inferior, yet are beautiful inside. So, keep the faith, just hold on and fly high.

“Just when the caterpillar thought “I am incapable of moving,” it became a butterfly.” 
― Annette Thomas