KEEP UP THE FAITH

It’s time to bid adieu to this year and welcome the new year.  It’s time to recollect the best times that this year gave and to dream for the next year.

For me, 2018 started with new hopes and new beginnings,  while putting an end to the sorrows and sufferings. Though there were remarkable changes that I went through- settling into a new city,  moving from a joint family to a nuclear one, my tag being changed from working mom to a homemaker,  the end result was worth it as I was reunited with my husband after one year of staying apart. The year also witnessed some lows as I lost a beloved family member. But,  at the same time,  God was kind enough to bless our family with good news too.
To accomplish great things,  
we must not only act, but also dream, 
not only plan,  but also believe. 
– Anatole France.

The year taught me to keep dreaming, without losing hope.  God tested my patience and gifted what I had asked for. The biggest learning for me was- just keep going,  just like the time!

With new dreams,  new hopes,  but my same old self,  I will step into the new year.  So, I hereby wish everyone peace and prosperity for 2019. Just keep dreaming and keep the faith in Him.

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SMIRK WHEN THE LIFE GIVES A JERK

I recently watched an amazing video by Dr Vivek Bindra,  a motivational speaker,  on the Battle of Chamkaur. It was a battle between the Khalsa, headed by the 10th Sikh Guru,  Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Mughal forces. The Sikh army was just 42 in number,  whereas the Mughal army was around 1 million.

Unbelievable?  Yes,  it is. And the result of the battle was the victory of the Sikhs. Dr. Bindra states that during our tough times,  we easily give up and don’t try. But,  Guru Gobind Singh Ji was such a powerful leader that not only did he think about fighting against such an enormous number,  but also won the battle.

It is very easy to quit at the difficult situations we come across,  but to be patient and keep trying is the key. Life is full of struggles,  we get so many setbacks every now and then- be it at work,  at the career front or in relations. But there’s no point in complaining now and regretting later because you didn’t try.

I have a couple of heroes around me whom I simply adore. One of them was my colleague. I always saw her smiling,  laughing and making others laugh. Out of curiosity,  I once asked her how does she manage to be so chirpy. She told me that its God who has made her so strong. At the tender age of 14, some dacoits barged into her house and shot at her mom,  dad and sister. Her sister died on the spot,  while mom passed away 7 days later. Her dad recovered and remarried without even letting her know. Torn and devastated from inside,  my friend didn’t lose hope and courage. She managed to stand on her feet and became financially independent.

There’s another heroic example of my friend who was going to shift abroad,  but just a day before, her husband met with an accident and his leg had to be treated.  The operation went wrong and he is still recovering,  but he had to part away with his job. Not only the dream of settling abroad was crushed to pieces by the destiny,  the financial burden also came up to the family.  My friend mustered all her courage and took up a job.  She is now financially taking care of her family. And after all this,  she remains happy and makes us laugh with her one-liners. She says there is no point in crying and cribbing about the adversities in life because one can’t control it. What you can control is how you face the situation and how you fight against the odds.

So,  smirk when the life gives a jerk,
Rise up and don’t give up,
For this life is a game,
And it will never be the same.

LOVE FOR MEOWS AND WHISKERS

(Captured by Preeta Bhatnagar)

This picture was taken in January 2012, when I went to my hometown after the birth of my first son.

I feel our house is blessed because cats have been visiting us for generations (their)! I remember spending hours playing with kitties when I was a child. My adoration for them grew as I got older.

When I visited my parents with my 3-month-old,  I was delighted to see 4 cute kittens with their mom.  Jumping here and there,  playing with their mom’s tail, discovering sibling rivalry,  it was a treat to watch them having fun.  The mom cat remained serious,  while the baby kitties were too naughty.  They got a scolding also from my mom when they ruined her plants by digging the soil and sitting in the pot.  But,  nevertheless, they were too cute and would wake me up with their meows in the balcony. Whenever I visit my hometown,  there’s a cat in the house for sure and my son looks forward to play with it and feed milk and bread.

SELF-TELEPORTATION BACK TO NORMALCY

I have seen you are very particular in noticing stuff. You caught a friend for posting a black DP, you are always interactive in the group, you respond for sure and quick…You store memoirs well. You kept the picture and what all I had written on that picture for your birthday…Those are some beautiful gestures…Whereas you were very quiet, backing out, negative, etc., previously…

‘Transformation’, that I have seen in you over the last few months. What made you change so much? Can you reflect on what made you sad, grumpy and depressive in the past and what really made you a happy woman once again?

The moment Chiradeep gave me the task of the week, I was thrilled to know that just like me, he himself is good at noticing things because everything he mentioned about me is absolutely correct.

As soon as I get time, I check my WhatsApp, which sometimes gets delayed, of course, if I am busy. I notice distinctive stuff and if there’s something wrong with a person’s display pic or status, then it troubles me too because I care for those who care for me. I am not that great that I bother those also who don’t bother me 😉.

I have been like that ever since. I want people around me to be perfectly fine and happy and if I can help them in any way, I do.

I remember my sister Kuljeet once complimenting me about my good observing skills and buying unusual gifts.

I love preserving stuff- stuff that is close to my heart. The way Chiradeep described me in my picture was more than enough to boost my confidence and make me happy at that point of time. I have been keeping the memories since the snail mail age. I have letters from my childhood buddies- Kuljeet and Prabhjot. I have a handwritten autobiography of my late grandfather, which I typed later, keeping it safely as a digital document. From chocolate wrappers eaten while having fun with my friends, to the special golden edition of the newspaper celebrating our country’s 50th Independence, I have been preserving everything that I love. I even kept the bills of the café shops and restaurants, when I used to go out with Anuj, before marriage. I have also preserved the clamps with which the umbilical cords of my sons were tied after cutting.

Why I do this? Because it gives me sheer pleasure in safeguarding memories. Years later when I go through this old stuff, I feel so ecstatic. It’s so much fun to recall old forgotten incidents.

Coming to the main point “transformation”, I would like to correct here that its not my transformation, but I am back to my old self. When I joined Candles, I was going through a terrible phase. I am sure most of us have witnessed a phase in life when the career takes an upper hand than the family members, of course for the betterment of the family. Anuj did his MBA, along with his job. After that, he had to shift to another city, leaving me and kids. Tough and crucial period it was for him and for me as well. I am a very strong person, but my strength is my husband. I go weak if he’s not there with me. The world around collapses for me if we are not together. He’s my life and my soul. Distances don’t keep relations apart, but they do keep the people away from each other. No matter how hard I tried to stay strong, I failed. Thankfully, Anuj made me take up a job before he left, otherwise I would have gone berserk. Work keeps you so busy that you don’t have much time to think about the negative thoughts that dwell inside you.

My sisters kept counselling me. Kuljeet kept reminding me, “Its just a phase.” My friends were there to lift me up. Yes, it was a phase and I am delighted it’s over. Now, I am back to my normal self, because after a long time Anuj and I are together and are living a normal life.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Preeta

It seems I am in the last year of school and answering questions in a friend’s slam book. Thanks to Chiradeep, who arranged such a captivating week of questionnaires.

  • Are you only good at laughing or can you even make people around you laugh at your jokes?

Ans: I am a jovial person. I love to laugh and I make others laugh as well, not at my jokes though, but at my actions and phrases that I use on certain situations.

  • Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not?

Ans: No, I have done something bigger than that- held a stranger’s arm! I was walking with friends in the busy Paltan market of Dehradun. I saw something and I hastily held one of my friendsss, Kapil’s arm and started walking fastly. I felt strange when Kapil wasn’t walking as per my pace. I was about to shout at him when I looked upon his face- the man wasn’t Kapil, but a complete stranger. I apologised, but the man was more embarrassed than I was.

  • What is your most embarrassing childhood memory?

Ans: I must be around 10 then. There was a pile of clothes on the bed that had just been dried under the sun. I thought to surprise mom by folding the clothes. I started the work and after a while I heard my mom calling me. I didn’t answer as I wanted to surprise her. Suddenly, everyone in the house started shouting my name. I still kept mum. Then my mom came into the room and was relieved to see me. She had thought I had gone somewhere without telling her. Though no one scolded me, just said that I should answer whenever my name is called, I felt embarrassed for the fact that my idea of giving a surprise scared everyone else.

  • What is your favourite activity or hobby that you always manage to spare time no matter how busy you are?

Ans: That would be definitely listening to songs, which I hear almost daily while doing my work or travelling.

  • If you are in a bad mood, do you prefer to be left alone or have someone to cheer you up?

Ans: Yes, I prefer to be left alone, but that has hardly happened. I am lucky to have a few loving and caring people around me who sense something is wrong with me and they lift up my mood.

  • Out of the negative emotions of greed, anger, jealousy and hate, which one would you say affects you the most?

Ans: Anger for sure. Actually, I have never been affected by greed, jealousy and hate. I don’t pay a heed if anyone hates me or is jealous. But, I do get affected by the anger.

  • What skill do you wish you had?

Ans: Remembering the numbers involving money! I am very bad at recalling the exact amount I paid for something, or have to pay. I even forget the amount of my kids’ tuition fees and my husband’s salary. Gosh!

  • Are you a good listener?

Ans: Yes, I am a good listener. I listen calmly and give my advice whenever anyone needs me.

  • Are you able to say no, even when it makes you unpopular?

Ans: I say no only if I am not able to do what’s been asked. Popularity is secondary for me.

  • What is the funniest rumour you have heard about yourself?

Ans: That I am going around with someone. Sounds too funny when one is happily married with two kids!

Thanks a lot, Geet for this interesting questionnaire. I loved answering it. It was fun recollecting a few memories.

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – III

“I must say, you haven’t forgotten the recipe for the best tea!” Sudha said.

“And I hope I never forget that!” Dr. Lal said with a laugh as he stood up, clearing the dishes.

They both laughed out loud together. The couple has been doing these laughter sessions quite often. Dr. Lal wanted to make sure that Sudha doesn’t get into depression due to her ill-health and thinking about their children. Sudha also wanted to keep her husband happy because he had lost his life savings- their children.

“Don’t stretch yourself to make a scrumptious dinner. Just make curry-rice.” Sudha said.

“I know you are jealous of my culinary skills.” Dr. Lal winked at her and said,” I know dear, just don’t worry.”

He switched on the TV for her favourite show “Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah” and went to the kitchen. Sudha loved watching the serial, even the repeat telecast of the old episodes.

Dr. Lal turned on his favourite songs on Carvaan and sang along. He started preparing for the dinner- Fish Curry and Dum Biryani. The smell of pungent spices filled in the house. He glanced at the wall clock. It was about time for Sudha’s medicines. So, he quickly prepared khichdi for lunch and went inside the room.

“And I thought that you forgot about the lunch because of a feisty supper!” Sudha said.

“Here, have this”, Dr. Lal said, handing over the lunch. “I am almost done with the not so feisty supper. Will just have some rest after this.” He joined Sudha in watching the comedy serial.

“What’s the name of the new neighbour?” Sudha asked.

“Raman. Nice young man.” Dr. Lal replied.

“Is he alone here? Is he married?” Sudha was inquisitive.

“No idea. You ask yourself when you meet him in the evening. Now, have these medicines and rest. I will just tidy up the kitchen and come.” Dr. Lal said and went away.

Sudha had dozed off by the time he came back. He went to draw the curtains together and started locating the remote control to switch off the TV. It was on the dressing table, in front of their family picture. Sudha had displayed all the photos of their children across the house. Every now and then, one could have a glimpse of the family, their children.

“It’s all in the photos only.” He said to himself. He didn’t like the idea of exhibiting the pictures of their children, but due to Sudha’s emotional blackmailing, he had to give in.

Later in the evening, Raman arrived with some packets of flowers and vegetable seeds, wrapped beautifully in a golden tissue fabric with a red satin bow.

“I thought it’s better to gift you this, rather than flowers. I am sure your garden will love them.” Raman greeted Dr. Lal.

“That’s a wonderful thought Raman, I am touched. Thanks! Come in.” Dr. Lal went inside to get Sudha on the wheelchair.

“Dr. Saab told me about you and your Geriatric Care research. I am amazed. In the world full of engineers and scientists, where technology is turned and twisted every now and then, you chose Geriatric Care Study. Why?” Sudha asked surprisingly.

Dr. Lal brought a glass of water for Raman. He took a long sip and replied, “Aunty, I chose this because of my grandma. It’s a long story.” Raman hesitated.

“We are in no hurry. Dr. Saab and I will love to hear.” Sudha said.

HOPE IS ALL WE CAN

Going to the bed,
With the hope of a brand new day,
Promising to start afresh,
Without knowing what the life has to say.

Building castles, booking travels,
With the hope of reaping the benefits,
With the hope of rejoicing the places,
Savouring without bothering,
A U-turn life may be offering.

Holding the egg for 9 months whole,
With the hope of getting nature’s dole,
The Baya weaves its nest,
with the hope that the wind will rest.

Life doesn’t stop,
It doesn’t stand still.
Hope anchors our souls,
It strengthens our will.

Tomorrow may bring dark,
It may bring light.
Hope for the best because,
The sun will always shine.
For the best because,
Hope is all we can.