​DOG IS INDEED MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Those two innocent eyes, that wagging tail, all time pleasing attitude is what makes dog man’s best friend.

I was once watching a documentary that stated that dogs have an all-time pleasing attitude because this is their survival instinct. Hundreds of years ago, if dogs wouldn’t have tried to please humans and connected with human emotions so well, they would have been extinct by now. This quality of dogs, have made them survive over ages. This is good information to know and when I saw this documentary, it didn’t make a big difference to me, because till then there was no “Milo” in my life. Milo is my 6 years old female beagle and she is absolutely adorable. 

It was tough for me to agree to my husband and his brother’s decision of getting a pup at home. It would be just an additional responsibility, I thought initially. But as soon as that 35 day old pup entered my home, I fell in love with her. She was so tiny then, that all her 4 paws would rest on my palm. Her hanging ears, innocent eyes, wagging tail made me so much fall in love with her. She would struggle to walk on vitrified tiles because her paws, small as they were, would keep slipping. 

So, what did I really learn from my dog? A lot. She makes me peaceful and humble. She makes me feel so loved and wanted. She gives me a plethora of positive emotions. Of course, raising hasn’t been easy – it is equivalent of raising a child.

She taught me to love unconditionally. 

As a little pup, she used to run after kids and babies as though they would be ready to play with her. No matter how much I would scold her for pooping all over the house or running after the stray dogs, whenever I would come back from office she would welcome me every single evening with her wagging tail and her ever naughty acts. She connects with me and my emotions, she loves licking off my tears when I am in my worst moods and knows exactly how to raise my spirits. She brings in so much of happiness and fun in the house. 

I cannot understand why we human beings use the word “dog” as an abuse. I feel dogs are the most beautiful creatures. They know how to connect with human beings unlike any other animal. They love to please us. No matter how you treat them, they would love to do things to make you feel special. They are extremely playful which makes them so much fun. And the best part is that they are the most loyal of all animals. It is very strange but the very basic emotion of unconditional love that we human beings struggle to show is so very well exhibited by the dogs. And this is what I learn from Milo every single day. 

She taught me how to trust and be there for someone you love

Dogs are supposed to be guards for our homes. This fact is based on a single quality that dogs have – ability to trust their master completely. They amplify the emotion that dog’s owner feels. If a stranger like a plumber or carpenter enters the house, I am cautious of this stranger and just want to get the work done. Milo then keeps barking at this stranger and is far more cautious than me. She will keep running around the house till this person leaves our premises. If a loved one visits my place who I happily welcome inside, Milo showers that person with all the more love. She would sit around the guest and wag her tail indefinitely. No barking and no anger is visible in her behavior. 

When I was pregnant and I used to take Milo out for walks, I noticed that she started walking ahead of me. Sometime later I realized that she not letting anybody come closer to me – animal or human being. She was being protective. She somehow knew that I should be helped and she did it in her own special way. Though later on I had to control her protective behavior because it was getting dangerous but I totally got her concern for me.

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FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE – X

Sanika was sipping coffee at the breakfast table, alone. She felt much better after talking to the kids. Just the sight of Anika and Anshul revived her wholeheartedly. She felt so complete and relaxed now. Just thinking back about the idea of getting drunk the way she did looked really stupid to her now. Only if she would have just taken her mind off Pranay and spoken to her kids and husband – maybe she wouldn’t have been in such a mess today.

She was much calmer and felt much wiser now. Thoughts of Pranay kept appearing in her mind all throughout the day while she was at work – but she could keep the thoughts away and focus on her work completely.

In the evening, while returning back to her hotel, one question kept popping up in her head – “Why now? Why did fate get me face to face with him now? I got over him. I found a wonderful husband and have beautiful children, why would God do this to me?” She is a strong believer and always knows that things never happen out of nowhere, they always have a reason (a good reason). Life is always throwing challenges at us, always teaching us something new.

“What is life trying to teach me by making me confront my past? I cannot not see any good reason behind all this. Everything is so chaotic. I feel miserable and Pranay is acting like a weirdo. And in all this poor Atul is suffering immensely.”

She opened her hotel room and sat on the armchair in her balcony.

“Pranay must also be having a similar life. I know he got married to girl named Tanu. She was one of his father’s friend’s daughter. Oh yaa, one of those typical business cum arranged marriages. Maybe they have kids together. Maybe he is happy with his family. Or maybe he is not!”

“What is life trying to tell me? What part of this Pranay episode incomplete for me?”

Suddenly she just stopped still. It was as if she saw something transformational. Yes, it was indeed transformational. “When Pranay rejected me so painfully, I was hurt. I did all that is possible to get him back. And some time later I realized that the biggest cost I am paying for all this is losing my self-respect. I gave up. I stopped hoping that he will ever come back. And when I met Atul, life became easier. The only thing that was not complete in all this is the Closure. I never got the closure with Pranay. That is the reason I was panicky when I saw him. I don’t have any feelings for him anymore. But I need a closure with him.”

With these thoughts she got reminded of her satirical remarks towards Pranay the earlier day. “Good that I spit my anger on him, it made me feel better. But now it is also a time to give myself some space and talk to Pranay. It is high time that I get over him completely – my love for him has just turn into hatred. But I want him to be just another person in my life – no love, no hatred, no anger just nothing for him. That is when I will get closure.”

“But talking to him could mean a lot of other things. I will need to make it clear to him that we just talk it out. I need to know why he did what he did. I will forgive him and move on with my life. I cannot carry this baggage of painful past on my marriage anymore. Then maybe I need to admit it all to Atul as well and then the past would be rightfully in the past.”

“What about Pranay’s life? What about his marriage? Does he really love his wife?”

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

With these thoughts Sanika too opened up Facebook. She typed in Pranay Kapoor and hit the search button. There he is. Ok, so he is quite active in updating his DP’s. She browsed over his albums looking for his pics with his family. But none! There were no pictures of his wife. She quickly went and checked his relationship status – Empty. “Why would somebody who is so active on FB and is happily married put his relationship status as nothing? Or was he happily married or even married now?”

Sanika’s head again started going all around. “Oh no no no, if he is single – then maybe it is not a good idea to get in touch with him at all. What if, he talks me into his emotions? C’mon, I cannot be that weak. I just thought so clearly about forgiving him and getting the freedom from this forever. Why am I worried? Do I really have any feelings for him? What difference does it make if he is single, it doesn’t matter. I will call him and meet him tomorrow.”

With these thoughts she took the number of the guy who called the hospital doctor last Saturday. Her hands on the phone were trembling now.

​GOOD BOOKS ARE MY LIFELINE

There are times when the life feels terribly hopeless and there looks no way out of the darkness. When demons are dancing inside my head and all I feel like is screaming to shut them up. Pain and misery seems forever lounging on my neck and it feels that I will just burnout in no time and nobody would care! Such moments are spectacular because they become much more important than the happy moments of life.

What do I do when I am low? What makes me bounce back?

There are multiple things sometimes it is music other times talking to my friends or closed ones. But mostly what works for me is the books. Books are my best friends, they pep me up, they show me a mirror and they influence my thought process in a big way. I have been a self-help freak since ages. That was the section of a bookstore where I would spend my time. I love to go over positive thinking stuff, change my perspective, and think from different views. Every book that I have read has changed me in a certain way. Sometimes the change might have been detrimental too but I may not have realized it at that point of time.

Books influence me in a big way. Once I was reading a fiction novel and was very impressed with the protagonist of the story. But mid of the story, she started to have financial trouble. I went so much into the character that I started to look at my financial situation very negatively and almost even argued with my husband over it. Well, yes. That’s me – I can relate to books to that extent.

Recently, I was going through a dark period yet again. The situation was such as I was feeling that a great injustice has been done to me from inside but from the outside I was compelling myself to show a positive image of the situation. Believing that whatever happens, happens for good and there is always something good hidden in a situation – I was always trying to look for the silver lining of this dark cloud hovering over my head. What happened was my head became a pressure cooker. I had put on unnecessary pressure of being good to others and ignore my internal feelings of anger and guilt. I was putting on a mask and at one point of time I felt that all my internal organs are going to burst out of pressure.

I got hold of a book whose title sounded really interesting. I read a few reviews of the book and felt that this was the one that I needed now. The book is called “The subtle art of not giving ****” (Language alert!). This book started doing something to me or I should say – my mind started doing something to me under the influence of this book. By the way, I am still reading it.

Every day during my commute to work I would open my Kindle and indulge into this book. First day after reading some part of this book – I became aware of the unnecessary pressure that I have made in my head. I am perfectly imperfect and there is nothing wrong in being wrong, guilty, frustrated and angry. I realized the world is full of pain and misery and I just need to hug my pain instead of running away from it. This realization made me feel very relieved. I felt as if a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I gave up all the positive thinking for once and felt relieved. I accepted that I was in pain and I need to make it explicit to myself.

Second day of reading this book, I started to feel angry. All the internal feeling which were subdued now came out very strongly. I felt angry at every person in my life. I felt angry at every incident where my right was denied to me. I still continued to read and felt even angrier. At one point of time, I felt that maybe my choice of the book was wrong – but no it wasn’t wrong. I needed somebody to show me the mirror and that’s exactly what this book was doing for me. A part of me also felt excited to see what might come up next. What other emotions will this book trigger inside me? I did not express my anger to anyone, I just became quite and maybe calmer from outside. People asked me why I looked tired and stressed, and I told them it was nothing. It was not nothing – it was a lot going on in my head. The pressure from the pressure cooker was slowly getting released and I made sure that it was controlled release. I started being more vocal in not accepting nonsense from people just because I wanted to be a good person.

This anger phase continued for a couple of days. A couple of days later, the next phase came which I would call a phase of responsibility. This is the phase that I am in right now and I am still to complete the book – I don’t know what is coming up next. But this phase of responsibility makes me realize that I am responsible for the situation I am in. It might not be my fault but I am definitely responsible for it. It is good phase to be in. I am not suppressing my pain anymore, it needed to be acknowledged and I did so. I am being true to myself in being straight to people and yet I know that whatever choices I am making today, I am solely responsible for it.

I love this book. I love it in a way that I also hate it at times. I hate it for slapping me on my face so bad. I hate it for showing me the mirror and making me realize that I look horrible (at least to myself). Some books influence you for life. For me, almost every book I read influences me for a very long time. Sometimes I read and re-read till I can memorize it.

If it weren’t for these pieces of printed paper that are full of wisdom – I don’t know how I would gather enough energy to carry on.

​WHAT IS POSSIBLE?

Long time back (9 years to be precise) while being in the course called “Landmark Education”, I declared myself a possibility of love, commitment and inspiration. And when I made that declaration on stage in a room full of people, I remember I was in tears because the moment was so very overwhelming for me. When I was asked to write on this topic 2 days back – the first thought that came to my mind was about the possibility that I declared myself to be. Am I still living it? I don’t know.

Well, what was running in my mind when I made the declaration? At that moment I think I was the best version of me. I have never been more energetic, positive and motivated than I was at that moment. I want to be known for the energy I have to keep my commitments; I want to be known for the work I do because that would be truly inspirational; I want to be known to unconditionally love my loved ones. Quite ambitious for a 24 year old that I was at that time!!

How far am I from the vision that I had for myself? I think only people in my life can be the right judge but if I have to look at myself – I don’t think I am at all closer to my vision. I have all the reasons in the world for not being my possibility but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the reality. If I were to die today (God forbid), I don’t think I would be satisfied at all. There is a lot to be done and a lot to achieve. And everybody wants to be kissed by the darkness of death only when they are satisfied that they have lived their lives fully – with failures, happiness, regrets, achievements etc.

Why am I not an ounce closer to be my possibilities? Maybe because I am too busy with nitty-gritties of life. I miss the bigger picture. I miss to see that life has to offer much beyond regular work, hard deadlines, occasional parties, bringing up a good kid in the world and keeping your family together. There are bigger problems waiting in the wide world and somebody needs to take ownership of those. Somebody needs to pick up the problems of the world and not just their own families.

I asked myself a simple question – while browsing Facebook if I see a friend’s pictures at Maldives at the perfect location with a perfect partner, would I feel inspired or jealous? While browsing more through the news feed, what would I feel when I see a person’s article on his successful attempt at rescuing small children from human trafficking? Would I feel inspired or jealous? Answer is clear for me. Pictures of my friend probably would make me envious (if not jealous) and that of the social worker would make me feel really inspired. What are my Facebook posts all about? Do I post something that inspires people and they say – “Wow, this girl is up to change the world for good?” or do they think, “Yet another person busy taking international vacation. I wish I could go there.”

All of us must have a vision for ourselves and create a plan to make that vision a reality. Facebook posts is one such example of doing a reality check – there could be many more. Each one of us wants to leave something behind. With the digital world it is even easier – your Facebook/Instagram posts would always be there stored safely in some server in some corner of the world (hopefully). Your children, grand-children and great-grand-children could also access it someday and say something great or trivial about you. The choice is yours to make the right choice today.

In the last 9 years of my life (since the time I made that declaration), I have done little in my life to move steadily towards being that possibility. I am glad that I get a chance to write for Candles through which I recreate my vision for myself while re-declaring the same.

So here it goes – “Who am I is the possibility of Love, Commitment and Inspiration. So, today again I give up all the dialogues in my head to be this possibility”.

RAISED FROM THE PIT – VIII

Lost in his thoughts, Binoy went in the wrong direction for quite long. When he realized that he was lost – it was already a couple of kms. So, he started to trace back the way till he could reach the house that he was supposed to call home. 
He just stepped inside the house and saw Aru di and Arnav sitting in the living room totally tensed. Aru di had been crying for long, he could make out easily. 

“Where were you? You scared us so much. Where have you been my boy?” Arunima came running to Binoy and took his face in her hands. She was crying because she had been too worried. And now this relief by looking at Binoy caused an outpour. 

“I… I… I just went for a walk and lost my way. So took some time to get back. So… Soo.. Sorry!” said Binoy in a confused state of mind. He looked at Arnav and saw that something had changed. Arnav actually smiled at him. Not a pity smile but a smile that said – I understand. That confused Binoy even more. “Isn’t this man supposed to hate me? Why is he being nice to me?” 

Binoy did not say anything else but went straight to his room. He needed a plan now. A plan that would never let him get hurt. A plan where he can have the safest bet. 

“So, how should I deal with these people?” He sat down at the corner of his nice cozy bed. 

“On one hand I have this comfortable new life which has clean clothes, cozy bed and full meals. If I leave this place just like that – it would mean going back to poverty. Do I want that? No. Definitely not. I can make something of my life only when I have the basics to survive. I am nothing if I am just a slumdog. This first option is not an option at all.” 

“What if whatever Bablu said was right? What if they really throw me out one day? I will have to go back to my old street job. But that would anyways be the place to go to if I leave now. Doesn’t it make more sense to stay and live a comfortable life? Maybe save some money also, so that even if they throw me out – I can make something better than my old life. This sounds like a decent idea – Option 2.” 

“What about Bablu’s idea of stealing all their money and running away? Stealing. Stealing. No, my mother would never approve of that. She would be deeply saddened if I do that. So that option is closed, that is option 3. But amongst all this, I need to be clear that I don’t get emotionally attached to them. I will just mind my own business. So that I am not hurt if they plan to hurt me and abandon me. They are a newly married couple, they will plan to have their own kids someday. I think then would be the right time for me leave. Or else I will be very hurt when they give more love to that child than me.”

Binoy’s head was now bursting. On one hand he really liked his Aru di but on the other hand he did not want to expect too much from her because that would cause him a lot of hurt eventually. He put his head on the pillow closed his eyes and in no time – he was in a deep sleep. 

Arunima was completely taken aback. “What is wrong with Binoy? He did not seem to be himself. He did not even smile at us or try to make a conversation which is so unlike him.” She looked at Arnav who had a reassuring look on his face. She smiled to herself knowing that she finally got her husband back. But maybe she lost Binoy now. His indifference bothered her too much. Even though Arnav told her to leave Binoy alone – she went to his room. As soon as she opened the door – she saw him sleeping peacefully.

She sat down next to him and put her hands over her head. Binoy woke up with a jolt. He removed her hand and got up straight from the bed. He did not make eye to eye contact with her. 

“Is something wrong, Binoy?” 

He just looked here and there but not towards her. 

She kept her hand over his cheeks and asked again. Binoy just muttered, “No, nothing is wrong. Please leave me alone.” He did not believe that he just said that. The lady who was trying to make sure that he was not lonely – he just asked her to leave him alone. 

Arunima was hurt this time. “What did I do wrong? I am just trying to make him feel at home.” 

On the other hand, Binoy felt guilty of being so indifferent to his Aru di. But he was determined that he would stay away from her love because that would hurt him one day. 

Arunima went downstairs with tears in her eyes. Arnav looked into her eyes and just hugged her. “Just give him some time, it is a big change for him. He will need time to adjust to all this. He will be fine.”

Binoy wasn’t sleepy anymore. Lying on his bed, now one more thought kept coming to his mind – “Where did Aru di and Arnav keep their valuables?” He kept shaking his head to get rid of this thought. But it kept coming back and it angered him even more. What if Option 3 was the best for him?

MULTIPLE LOSSES

Loss… it is a big word and I do not know if I can do justice to this 4 letter word in this article.

Every loss is a big one till you lose something bigger. For my 3 year old, losing a ball in the play area is a loss big enough to ruin the whole evening. I try to make him understand that this is a very small loss and is something that doesn’t need so much attention. But does he understand? No. Do I understand when I lose something precious to me and somebody tells me “It’s not worth crying for”? No, I don’t either. Then how do I expect my son to understand. The fact is that loss is a very complicated event and how it impacts the concerned person cannot be understood by others. It is extremely personal for each person.

In my short span of life I have lost a lot. A few battles, some money and a few expensive items, some loved ones, sometimes my peace of mind, sometimes my self-respect and now while I am writing this – I wonder which one was worst.

Every time a loss happened it was the worst only till I had to lose something even bigger. It never ends and probably will never end. Losing and gaining is a part of life which gives us momentum to carry on.

A few years back, we (me and my husband) attempted to open up a venture. It was a restaurant and 6 months later we realized that we will never be able to sustain. We lost a lot of money that had been invested, leaving us in debt. What followed was financial insecurity, loans, EMI’s and a lot of frustration. This was probably the worst that I had lost with respect to materialistic side of me. This is the worst till now. What happens when you have no money to even buy next day’s dinner is something that I could not comprehend till we reached that stage. But even then I was extremely frustrated and angry but I was not broken. After all, it was just money and money is something that can be replaced or earned. It is needed for survival but I knew that we had enough to get through the situation.

3 years back, we lost a family member (my husband’s brother). Well that loss has shown me the worst of everything. It has shown me what grief is and how it can impact me. It has shown the value of love and more importantly the value of communicating that love. It has shown me what happens to a family when a member of that family just disappears to never return. One of my friends told me when the whole family was grieving over the loss – Death is the ultimate truth, once you accept this fact no other loss will be too big for you to handle. I don’t know how to accept that. Death is scary and is evil. I know it is the truth but how will I ever make peace with it when I know that I will lose my closed ones one day and I would be completely helpless. I don’t think I can and I don’t even try anymore.

Have you ever lost a relationship that you were not ready for? When a relationship dies but the people are alive and they move on. Well, I have gone through the heartbreaks that life had to offer me. Maybe to teach me something worth learning. I lost some important relationships while I was not ready to lose them.

Couple of years back, I was in a situation at my work place which was very difficult to handle. I was very low on confidence at that time because I was not able to manage all the expectations that people had from me. I was jumping from one place to another without giving it a thought. It was change in my career because I had just stepped into a leadership role and I screwed it totally. I felt like a failure and almost believed that I cannot manage as a good leader. Well, that was past. Today the situation is completely opposite. But at that point of time, I felt that I had lost my confidence and my self-respect. Just the right amount of guidance and right kind of energy channelization turned it around for me.

For me, all these big losses have always resulted in just one thing – learning more and more about life. And I know I have a long way to go.

I cope with each of my loss by drowning myself in work. I have done that multiple times and each time it has helped me emerge as a better person. And the only motto I have in mind for life is – Be it whatever, just bring it on!

​RELATIONSHIP WITH MY TEARS

I was sitting in the conference room alone. I was in a call with 3 other people from other end of the world. There was apparent difference of opinion which was getting heated up. People were refusing to see my point of view and I was feeling helpless, angry and attacked. 

I opened my mouth to say something and realized that people on the other side would notice the quiver in my voice. Tears were already flowing down my cheeks, thankfully nobody could witness that. I spoke finally as strongly as I could. It was time to call in my manager to resolve things but I had to be in shape before I call him in. If he sees me in tears –  I don’t know what will he think of me. So I waited till I calmed down and tears were not troubling me anymore. Then I had further discussion and thankfully tears did not come in between that. 

Tears sometimes are a problem for me. Because they have to appear when I am angry, upset, helpless, too happy or any other extreme emotion. I have been labelled as somebody who is too emotional and not too strong in her views at times. I credit that to my tears. 

Sometimes, I also feel so what if my tears show up. Isn’t that a part of the emotion that I am feeling? Why am I embarrassed of them? I am embarrassed because the way people react to them. They suddenly have a face showing pity on me. They start thinking that I am out of control and probably need a break. That irritates me even more. In my early years of career, it was a bigger problem now I have learnt to handle them – though my tears still disappoint me so many times. 

You know what, I need to cry out and that’s why I just want to watch a sad love story!” This statement isn’t very uncommon from me. Strange, right! Why would I want to purposely cry and in absence of a reason I watch an emotional movie or read a love story? It indeed happens with me when my life becomes too mechanical, when I haven’t got a chance to feel human emotions to its depth – I miss emotions and I miss these very tears that disappoint me in a number of situations. 

The day of my wedding when I was supposed to bid goodbye to my family to be a part of my husband’s family – I saw everybody crying, my parents, my sisters but these tears did not come out. Why? I have no clue! Was I not sad? I was. But I was also very confused at that time. Too many things were happening, too many things to be taken care of that probably my tears did not enough motivation to show themselves. 

So, I have a strange relationship with these little pearls of water that just choose to wet my eyes and cheeks. Sometimes I miss them terribly, sometimes I get embarrassed with them, sometimes I get into trouble because of them. 

My dog saw my tears at a very early age. She used to come and lick them to show that she wants me to be happy. It was the best ever feeling with this gesture of hers. My son tries to divert my attention when he notices them. He says – “See Mumma, I can jump so long!” He is sweet little darling who believes that life is all about having a smiling face. 

Tears, o tears – you are an integral part of me. 

You make me what I am with all my emotions packed nicely in me. 

I am not ashamed of you, I am not very proud of you. 

But thanks for making me the way I am. 

I love you and wouldn’t know how my life would be without you.

(Featured Image Credit: Google Inc.)