A REGRET AND A VAGUE ATTEMPT.

Wish Life Was As Easy As My Computer Screen:

Made some errors?

No problem! Just UNDO and type again. But alas, no Undo button for Life.

I remember in the Spotlight series Saakshi asked me the same question: If you were allowed to go back and change one thing from your past, what would you pick and why?”

As I ponder upon this question, all that I see are my regrets and my fanatics. I regret days I wasted – I regret blunders I made – I regret the hurts I gave my dear ones – I regret the foolish decisions I made – I regret the wrong friendships I chose to nurture – and the list “I REGRET” goes on.

We often laugh away when our elders advice us: “One day, you will regret but you won’t have an option to undo your mistakes.” Isn’t this forewarning so fitting to this context!

Taking one such antic of my life into account:

One of my professional life demands is – ‘staying away from home’. Being well aware of my future reality, my mom used to tell me, learn to cook. Cooking has nothing to do with gender-specific obligations. Learn to cook now, you won’t regret when you will stay away from home. But with a manly swag 😎, I used to reply, “Oh, common, restaurants zindabad. We need to be mindful about the restaurant’s survival.” On 2016, when I settled in Kolkata, I lived with this swag for almost a year. But someone said rightly, “penny-pinching is a good teacher for men”. And that day came, ‘alone in my living room with half-burnt curry and over-boil rice for a meal, I wished, I could go back and learn that curry from Mumma and come back to cook for myself. But alas! It was too late for that.😔’

From the 13th of September 1997 to 27th of March 2007, there used to be aired ” SHAKTIMAAN” an Indian Superhero action show on Indian Television screen. Probably, that’s where most of we the 90’s kids were introduced to the unrealistic concept ” Time-traveling” (going back to the time to undo or do some undone works of our life). But our tender minds were barely capable enough to understand the disclaimers shown both at the beginning and end of the show – “All of these are ficious, it has no resemblance to anyone’s life. It is all the work of animation, IT IS NOT REAL.”

Wrong Doing – Regret – Learning is the process of progress of morally equipped human being. Now, a Saint is not a superhero who time-traveled and uplifted his life to glorious standards. Rather, once he was a wretched man, whose sins convicted him, he realised his mistakes by the reasoning of his mind, repented from his wrong ways, looked upon God to strengthen him with wisdom and holiness to navigate life in our sin-centric earth, and after a lot of hardships he gained the experience to live life with holiness and lo and behold NOW he is an example to all.

C.S Lewis said;

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

Indeed, we can’t go back and change the beginning, even thinking about it is a vague attempt. But why do we do so? Often, we consider ourselves as the victim of our past. And if I am allowed for an exact interpretation of it, I would phrase it like this, “I am the victim of my tragedy and the perpetrator of the problem is Mr. X or Ms. Y, not I!”
Going little ahead with this mentality, we EITHER start idolising a successful someone with same/similar story and their way of coping OR we start pushing ourselves to live with our wounds which later bounds us to live another heinous and cancerous way of life.
Penning from God’s perspective, God understands our frailties and he never wants to see us in malady. So, in the uniqueness of our problem, God wants us to repent from our mistakes and learn from our malady and attempt to live life on glorious standard instead of mulling in vain regrets and pining over silly attempts to go back in time and set things in the right order.
As we trust His perspective and attempt His ways, He offers us His strength in His personality reflected in Jesus.
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IN THE AMBIGUITY OF “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY”.

Being born and brought up in a middle-class Indian family, the warning sign I always received from my parents – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?” (In Hindi, Log Kya Kahenge?). The moment I hear this question, my mind starts singing the Old Bollywood song – “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehena. Chodo bekar ki batton mein kahin biitna jaye reyna” (People usually talk behind others, that’s there very habit of doing so. But it is better to leave such meaningless matters before the night fall). Whenever anyone poses this question before me, my defense is – “By birth, every individual is Free to Think and Free to Talk. When God and our Constitution cannot put a barrier to people’s mind and mouth. Then who am I to do that!”

Since childhood, both my parents used to bracket down my thoughts and choices with this question – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY. Even today, my mom often quotes me the same anthem whereas Dad has gone one step ahead. He squares me saying – “Now, you’re grown up. You can make the right choice. What you sow, so shall you and your family will reap. Now, it’s up to you!” Mostly, this line slows my pace of decision-making and filters me through a set of questionnaires. One among those thought-provoking questions – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?

Well, Is that so important to think about what others might think!

What’s wrong if I choose what seems me right!

If I listen to people, I might have to drop my choice. Will that be a good idea?

What has people to do with my life?

We all strive to attain good things for our life. Isn’t it? Hence, God has gifted us with the freedom of choice and to navigate this freedom He has empowered us with Knowledge and Wisdom. He had made us little lower than the heavenly angels. Alongside this strength there is a weakness – each individual is finite to his set of ideas and his strength for the execution of his ideas are also limited. In this finite state, as we are confined within our mind-box in the course of time our choices and ideas become irrelevant to our life at large. Probably, that is where we seek help from outside and look for ideas beyond our desk. But, alas. By then, the clock ticks, it’s too late!

In my professional life and at times in my personal affairs also I used to ask my trusted-ones to review my proposals and ideas. I do that because somewhere down the line I saw – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY” was standing on my way. Every time I ask for the screening of my proposals and ideas, I have been beneficial. Does that mean, I am listening to people? Well, let me put my defense in this way – the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” In other words, when I allow someone to interfere in my toiling of ideas, I will have a good return!

Everything in our life comes in mixed bags. I always had to choose for myself from the mixed bag. Optimistically, in the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY thought, our life is filtered from flaws and shaped to set an example. Alongside, it is people whose efforts give existence to Culture and Society. Culture and Society are something that give us an identity and distinguish us into a special category. Culture and Society are moreover a virtue for us.

My American friend Kristin always becomes an Indian in our midst. Just like our Indian moms and daughters in a family, she first serves us the food and then joins the dining. Even after our food, she collects our used plates to the washbasin. It is so blissful to find a foreigner respecting our Indian Culture and instead of complaining as a Westerner, she  tunes in as an Easterner. What made her to do that – the fear WHAT THEY WILL SAY when I am in their place and complaining about their culture.

To save myself from victimizing by the pessimistic side of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, I prefer to stop at the juncture of my mind and do a quick checklist:

  • Is he a God-fearing man that I will trust his voice?
  • Are his words based on the Absoluteness of TRUTH claims?
  • What is the reference point of his ideas – his own or God’s Word?
  • What is his story – Does he have a similar experience like my situation?
  • Is there a logical flow of his ideas or just random ideas unfit and no link?
  • Picture the Consequence – In the long run, Where I will be if I listen to WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY and Where if I follow my mind?

In the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, our life is always altered and becomes exemplary.

“In conclusion, dear friend, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things”.  – THE BIBLE.

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

Questions are imperative in human life. It is the questions of the human mind that instigates him towards the meaning and the purpose of life and defines the why behind its twists and turns. Questions are either raised by an individual or in reference to an individual. Behind every question, there is a Questioner! Ravi Zacharias in his recent book “THE LOGIC OF GOD” says, “The convergence of intellectual and existential struggles drives a person to a brutal honesty in the questions he or she has.”

One among the biggest questions of human life – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?” Like every other question of human life, this question is always in reference to a human struggle. Because we question only when life’s millstone burdens us. As a matter of fact, since my childhood, I have been frequently juggled and altered by this question – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? 

When I was a kid, I complained – “No one understands my choices.”

When I was a teen boy, I was hurt – “Why should I be like him? I am who I am!”

When I was in the twenties, I argued – “Why should I do that? It’s my life-my choice.”

When I turned thirty, I find myself – “Being misunderstood and misinterpreted.”

Towards the end half of 2018, there were some family issues and when I had to raise my voice to sort-out the misunderstanding between my family members, I was misunderstood being partial. In the meanwhile, I find one of my best friends going wrong in quite a handful of matters, as I attempt to correct my friend, again I was misunderstood being unfriendly, arrogant and bossy. Being too sensitive to relationships, being misunderstood and alone in four walls created havoc on my mind. The only question that distorted the peace of my mind is – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”. Why no one takes time to understand me or questions me – why do you think so? All that everyone thinks – BLAME HIM! 

Often in professional life, we are asked to keep the personal worries outside the office door but that’s someway too difficult. One individual life with two parts – the Personal and the Professional has enough possibility to tilt.

Each individual’s existence is caused and causes “Relationships”. Relationships is not the presence of one individual rather it exists between two individuals completely different from one another decide to come together and form a relationship irrespective of their differences. The presence of differences in the possibility of confusion and misunderstanding. But these misunderstanding is NOT MEANT to the breaking of relationship rather IT IS TO educate and enhance the relationship. 

BEING MISUNDERSTOOD and QUESTIONED BY SELF – 

“WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”, IS APPARENT! 

DO I KNOW MYSELF? – How about that! 

Flipping the pages of history, wise King Solomon was garlanded with WISDOM, POWER, WEALTH & GLORY. Materially speaking there is nothing that he lacks in his life. But at the end of his life’s journey, he concludes: “I put my hands into all that my mind found good. I acquired everything I desired. I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is chasing after the wind. Everything is meaningless”. The question remains – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

In my imaginative visit to the potter’s house, I saw the potter’s house is filled with varieties of clay pots. 

I: Who designed all these clay pots? 

Potter: “I”!

I: Where did you got the pictures to design these pots?

Potter: Their pictures were in my mind and I designed them accordingly.

I: Why each of them is entirely of different shapes and size. 

Potter: Because each of them is made for a different purpose.

I: Can this small flower vase be used to store water?

Potter: No, it cannot be. It is meant to give home to the flower plant.

I: Can your vessel explain why it is made?

Potter: Nope. Does it know how long it will exist? Where it will be tomorrow?

Potter: But I know where it will be tomorrow and How it will be used and What will be its worth.

The Bible says, You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.”  – this is the message of the Lord.

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? – The Potter has the answer.

How about asking HIM? 

WHY DO WE WITHDRAW FROM OUR COMMITMENTS?

The concept of relationship exists prior to our individual existence! Before our existence, we have a relationship with the Creator God, since the time our mom conceived us our relationship with our family began and even after our death our relationship exists. But prior to the relationship, commitment comes. In fact, it is the COMMITMENT that initiates a relationship.

As growing kids in our family, we all love to be part of the wedding service at Church. It is truly a blissful moment to see how two individuals come together and a new relationship is formed. In such a blissful moment, the most enjoyable moment for we kids was – rhyming the marriage vow along with the Bride and Groom. In front of the whole congregation, the Bride and the Groom will stand along with the Pastor. The Pastor will ask both of them a set of questions and as both of them answer those questions, they will exchange their marriage rings and they will make this vow – “I take you as my Wife/Husband on my own choice. I pledge before God and people, whether it is the good or bad moment, whether in health or sickness, whether, in prosperity or hardship, I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU. From now, let my heart be yours’ and your heart is mine and both of our hearts be the heart of God.” 

Finally, they give their signatures on the court marriage certificate and they were declared as Mr & Mrs __________.

Something very similar happens, as defense personnel finishes his years of military training. In an elite gathering, he swears the pledge and joins the defense force. After so many catfights and cutthroat election, our political leaders publicly swear the pledge and take their positions to govern our nation.    

Rick Warren says, 

“Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make”. 

Switching to another picture, we see every year only in Mumbai and Delhi 40% of marriages are heading towards divorce (the rest of big Indian cities are yet to count). India is in the 78th position in the corrupt nations list out of 175 countries, according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Rank in India averaged 75.67% in 2018.

Kenneth Blanchard says,

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

How our commitment ends is read and watched and followed by others. 

Commitments might have been made one day at a time but BEING COMMITTED is a life-time deal! Life is a mixed bag of easy and difficult times. Difficult time demands an awful lot of sacrifices on its way. Though sacrifice seems painful and too costly at times, it is the passion of our heart for a definite purpose that makes us dare to sacrifice. A Committed man is also a man of integrity. His thoughts and ways are always God-fearing and Sacred

Often, we lack commitment in our relationships and profession because we hesitate to sacrifice our comforts and pleasures. Our commitments are mostly made when we are emotionally driven rather than driven by the maturity of mind and wisdom. Well, one of the modern-day quotes very clearly reflects the attitude of our mind – “If you want me to be loyal, then hire a dog not me”.

So far in my life, I have walked closely with two elderly men. Both of them are in their 70s’. Both of the God-fearing gentlemen have always given me one counsel:

“Relationships are initiated with commitment;

Commitment demands Sacrifice;

Respect your Sacrifices, they are Sacred and Integral!”

And as I look upon the picture of the death of Jesus on the Cross, I see the confluence of Relationship initiated with Commitment – Commitment is fulfilled with Sacrifice – the Sacrifice is Sacred & Integral to the human race. Indeed, it is His relationship with us that kept Him committed, though we were not! It is His commitment for mankind that demanded Him His sacrifice, which we human won’t be able to do! Moreover, Jesus kept his commitment with the sacredness of His heart, WHICH WE OUGHT TO IMITATE.

The biggest question of this generation is, “WHO AM I?”
All our worldly achievements have failed to answer us.
Our true identity is that we are created in God’s IMAGE
and God’s Spirit resides in us.

SALT – IT’S MEANINGFUL PRESENCE

Food without salt is tasteless and food with an excessive amount of salt is uneatable and harmful as well. In every food recipes, salt is always referred to be used according to the taste. We may use varieties of world-class spices in our food to make it royal and authentic but ultimately it is only the right amount of salt that brings the taste.

One of the reasons we immediately add salt and turmeric as we wash meat or fish or any non-vegetarian food because it removes the stinky smell from the food.

To preserve pickles for a long time, salt is very essential. Even it is the salt that doesn’t allow the ice to melt easily, for the icing of ice-creams one of the desi-nushkha (country cooking style) is to garnish the salt on the ice to keep it from quick melting.

Salt is essential for life in general, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. Salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous food seasonings, and salting is an important method of food preservation.

Salt is an essential element of our life which our body can’t produce. Hence it has to be provided within the recommended amount, through our diet. Salt helps our body to retain water and keep our blood pressure in normal condition. It is an important nerve stimulant for the proper functioning of our muscles. It contains many necessary nutrients which activate several salivary and digestive enzymes. The World Health Organization recommends an adult to consume 2,000 mg of sodium, equivalent to 5 grams of Salt per day.

Salt’s contributions to the human healthy existence are enormous and unignorable. The deeper the research goes the bigger the contribution of the list goes on and on. In overall, the undeniable fact of our human existence is – the SALT.

In reference to some of the earliest pieces of evidence salt processing dates to around 6,000 BC. It is processed from Salt mines, and by the evaporation of seawater (sea salt) and mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. In a year globally, 200 million tons of salt is produced, and only 6% of it is used for human consumption whereas the rest is used for water conditioning, de-icing highways, and other agricultural use.

Just think, if there would be no salt in the world what could have happened to our existence on earth! Will it be ever a healthy existence?

SALT & its SALTINESS is essential and identical in human existence.

Analogically Jesus said in the Bible says,
“You (HUMAN) are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Salt dissolves wherever it is used, it leaves its own shape but its presence is highly felt. Its character penetrates the food, adds flavor and makes the food eatable. Wait, its story doesn’t end there, it is the nutrients of Salt that keeps our body healthy and preserves our existence.

Often, we paradigm our life confined within I – ME – MY story but in reality, it’s not! It is an absolute illusion about the understanding of life. Each of our human action has a greater intensity of influencing others. Our life is keenly hitched with other’s existence. We leave influence while we live on earth.

God has created us in His image, given us the mind to reason between good and evil, foolishness and prudent living and reflecting godly characters. We are the salt and our influences are the saltiness that brings the taste in our relationships, it preserves other’s life from the sinful living and fulfills the purpose of our birth. Death is absolute, then our physical presence will never be seen like the salt’s story but yes, the presence of our influence will always be felt.

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.