Meera put the pen down on the dark brown circular table, after signing the papers. She had given her consent to be a surrogate. Though she could not understand a word written on the papers, she had been explained the terms and conditions.

She had made up her mind the previous night as she alternated between tossing and turning in her bed and staring at the ceiling in the darkness. How she longed that some divine power would lift her up from the ruthless world!

Radha came to her rescue and guided her out of the room. The procedures would begin in four days time.

You don’t know how noble a deed you are doing, dear. Yes, we do this for money. And, we are not supposed to have any emotional connection with the life that would be developing in our wombs. But, you know Meera, that is easier said than done. Motherhood itself is a perennial source of emotions. Whatever you feel in the next nine months is going to cast an imprint on the life in your womb”, said Radha sitting across Meera in the grassy field basking in the morning sun.

I have carried my Sia. But, she was mine”, quipped Meera with a wistful sigh.

Radha shifted to sit beside Meera. “You have to make yourself happy, Meera. Only then you can deliver a healthy happy baby as a gift to the couple. Many surrogates take themselves to be mere baby-creating agents – a task in exchange for money. But if I am to give you a word of counsel, I would say that always do whatever you do, with all your heart.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of footsteps on the dry leaves closer to them.

It was Mrs. Mehta. “Meera, I need to speak with you”, she said with a soft but firm expression on her face.

I’ll catch up with you later, Meera”, Radha mumbled and left.

I have no words to thank you for what you are doing for us. You are a blessed woman because you can carry a life within you. I, on the other hand, have been at the receiving end of family and society for being barren. I have spent teary days and nights with my agony known to me alone. It’s a curse, not to be able to carry a child in a country like ours”. So saying, Mrs. Mehta began to sob.

It was my husband’s idea to go for surrogacy”, she continued. “We read up a lot on surrogacy, practices in other countries and in ours. Our country is not open to commercial surrogacy. So, this place is in a way illegal. The recent laws enable only close relatives to be surrogates. But, I don’t care! I came here to assure you that in case of any legal complication, I and my husband will stand by you. In exchange, you will have to promise that you will not terminate your pregnancy under any circumstances”, Mrs. Mehta caught hold of Meera’s hands and literally pleaded with her.

Meera’s head reeled and her stomach churned within her. She was yet to process the information that she had just been given. From being a satisfied maid in a loving household to landing up at her sister-in-law’s place, having to part with Sia whom she didn’t know when she would see next and then landing up in this weird place – ooohhhh so much in so few days!! It was more than she could handle.

Cutting across the whirlpool of thoughts within her, came Mrs. Mehta’s voice of apprehensive anticipation, “You would do it. Would you not?

I will not back off. Rest assured”, said Meera and got up to leave. She didn’t care that Mrs. Mehta was still sitting on the ground. All she needed now was a calmness to get a grip of all that was going on. And, she needed to prepare for the coming nine months.

Meera didn’t come out of the small rectangular space that she had been given to stay. If the new laws render this whole thing illegal, what if I land in prison! Fear gripped her. She shuddered at the thought that she would never be able to meet her doll. As of today, she didn’t even have any trace or information about her daughter and where she will be. All she knew was that she had run for her life that dark night till she sees lights and hears soothing music and a strange feeling that her Sia would be safe in this place.

She didn’t have much understanding of any world affairs. She had been just a maid. But, she had ample of warm emotions.

‘Mr. Mehta has promised me to look for my daughter. I will make the couple promise me to not only find Sia but also take care of her should anything happen to me’, Meera decided firmly.



With tears welling up in her eyes and a lump forming in her throat, Meera stared at the retreating silhouette of her doll. She felt that she was separated from her world. But, a fighter she was!

“Yes, its a game . . . a short game for two months and three weeks. I’ll be with my doll in a matter of no time. Meanwhile, I’ll have to make ends meet and stay hale and hearty for Sia’s sake”, she said to herself as she lost sight of her daughter behind the pillars of the church premises. She turned around, steeled her heart and decided to go and get her belongings from her sister-in-law’s house.

She opened the creaky gate and stepped onto the dingy verandah that led to the kitchen which she and her daughter had called home for a week. She scanned around. There was no one.

“Perfect timing!”, she said to herself. “All are asleep after a day’s business. I can easily sneak out unnoticed, without having to offer any explanations to my sister-in-law or having to face that bloodsucker.”

She didn’t have much to pack. With frantic haste, she put in all her and her daughter’s possessions in the same rugged bag that she had come with.

“What’s the hurry to leave? Now that you have dumped that brat somewhere, you can stay on here with increasing prospects to earn for yourself and us.”

Meera turned back startled to hear the voice behind her. Her sister-in-law Sushma’s otherwise rough and booming voice seemed somewhat slyly pleasant.

“Never!” “Never!” “Never will I stay here even for a minute longer. Not after what that monster of a husband you have, was doing to my doll. And how dare you call my daughter a brat? I made a mistake by choosing to come here”, said Meera fuming with gritted teeth.

“Well, mistake you sure did by coming here. But, my darling husband has opened my eyes to the lucrative business prospects that my young slender-bodied sweet-toothed sister-in-law can give us”, said Sushma with a smirk. “You came here by your choice, but, you can leave only by mine”, she boomed advancing towards Meera.

“Wh . . . What do you mean?”, Meera uttered, her lips dry and feet shaking.

Now Sushma was her usual self. She menacingly marched towards Meera, caught hold of her arm with an iron-fist and said, “Do you think I gave a roof over your head and fed you and that little fatherless brat of your’s just in exchange of you helping serve drinks to the customers at the bar and clean it up? If you thought so, you were a fool! Enough nights of sound sleep you got. It’s time for business”, said Sushma with a commanding voice.

“Look, I still don’t get what you want to say”, said Meera trying to loosen Sushma’s grip. “You want me to pay for my stay here . . . I’ll give whatever you say. Give me two weeks time. As you know, I have no work now. But, I’ll find work in no time and pay you every dime that you ask for. Let me go . . . before that monster of a husband you have lands up here.”

At this, Sushma twisted Meera’s arm backwards and said, “How much will you pay me? Five hundred rupees . . . eight hundred . . . or a thousand? You can fetch us a few years of tension-free income. You ……AAAAAaaaaa……oooooo……”, she screamed at the top of her voice as she was talking.

Meera had bitten Sushma’s free hand fiercely.



A major part of another year gone by! A year with its share of joys and sorrows, pains and gains, wishes fulfilled and some left dry, works accomplished and many left undone, new beginnings and long-dragged closures.

For many, it has been just another year in the annals of time. For some others, it has been special – the birth of a baby, marriage, success in the career, visit a place that one dreamt of, and many such. For yet some others, it has been a year that they wished had never shown them the days it did – sickness, disappointments, the death of a loved one, loss in business, a jolt in the career path, a broken relationship, witnessing a natural calamity, and many such more.

No matter what this year has brought in our lives – whether agony or joy, it sure has left behind its unique imprint.

Each day has challenges galore

And a cluster of 365 days, with still many more.

Some that made us strong to the core

While some that made us crash away from the shore.

As I reflect on this year, I see a mixed canvas of many hues – loss of two precious ones in the family within a short duration, a seemingly impossible marriage of a friend that eventually did happen and the broken relationship of another friend which was supposed to culminate in marriage shortly, to name a few. Emotionally stirring events in their own ways!

We begin a year wishing happiness, fulfilment and prosperity for others. And, we are wished the same as well. That’s how we come to expect each new day to bring good tidings our way. But when something unthought-of happens to shatter our peace, questions spring up in the mind – ‘Why?’.

Well, let’s accept it. Life is not always rosy – no matter who the person may be, no matter how many good works the person may have done, no matter how many blessings and good wishes might have crossed the way. It’s always a mixed bag!

As we enter another year, let’s wish for each other strength to face each new day of the year, courage to face the challenges, an open mind to receive the teachings of life experiences, a vision to move forward and break barriers and the zeal to discover oneself no matter what life throws our way.

Each new day . . . each new year . . . adds on to the multi-cuisine called life. Its an amalgamation of sweet nuts, tangy lemons, bitter herbs, cocktails and mocktails, cool shakes and hot cordials. Let’s resolve to uphold each other to live life to the fullest, knowing that the God of the universe is our Creator who knows each one personally and wants to see the best in all. He crowns each year with His bounty!


Click . . . click click . . .
Click . . . click click . . .
Went my fingers on the mouse,
As I browsed to select the perfect bunch of roses for my aunt’s house.

A call in the morning to wish her a happy wedding anniversary,
And a bouquet of lovely flowers in the evening to end the day’s story,
Seemed the perfect greeting on my inventory,
In place of climbing up the stairs to their house on the third-storey.

All done, I was waiting for the thank-you call,
And praises for my thoughtfulness from one and all,
The happiness caused by a gesture small,
Would surely me a great deal enthrall!

‘Hello’ . . . said I at the very first ring,
Hoping that my aunt would in joy, dance and sing,
Expressing the pleasure that the flowers did bring,
Striking afresh love’s new melodious string.

Truly joyful were the couple with the bouquet in their hands,
As they resolved to forever with each other stand,
No matter if the days ahead were stormy or bland,
They would rejoice and make their lives a warm love land.

As happy as I was to hear the tinkle in their voices,
I remembered over the years their smart intelligent choices,
And lo came my aunt’s sweet enchanting voice,
‘Your selection was a good choice!

Thrilled we’d have been to see you at our door,
With those lovely flowers in your hand and nothing more,
To see you would have been a loving gesture of care,
That’s all we need in this old age nightmare!’

Stunned was I at the humble revelation,
Crashed down from heights of glory to the rock foundation,
Indeed the warm touch of a human hand,
Means so much more than gifts so grand!


Someone asked me, ‘Are we born disciplined and some people become indisciplined in the course of life? Or, is it that we are born erratic and indisciplined and we need to be trained to be disciplined?’

Interesting query, isn’t it?

Well, we are not born erratic. However, we need to imbibe disciplinary traits that are largely shaped by our environment. Chaotic environments have in many cases resulted in disciplined people and highly disciplined environments have produced indisciplined people as well. So, there is no hard and fast pathway that would result in a disciplined person with a disciplined lifestyle.

However, nothing beats a disciplined lifestyle! A disciplined lifestyle emerges a winner at all times.

Irrespective of one’s birth or an environment, one needs to be disciplined.

In the previous articles of this week, we have dealt with discipline in assuming and managing various roles of life.

In this concluding article, I’ll talk about a life of overall discipline.

Physical Discipline

Do you wake up on time every day? Or do you need to hit the snooze button a couple of times before grumpily pulling yourself out of bed? Most of us – young or old, would have had such an experience!

Let me share one such day in my life. I needed to start for my coaching class at 7:30 A.M. When I opened my eyes in the morning, my table clock showed 7:10 A.M.! I generally wake up an hour and a half before the time I am to set out in order to leisurely space out my activities with time to spare. And now before me were just twenty minutes!

The first thing I did was tell myself not to frantic. Next, I thought for a few seconds which activities of my daily schedule I needed to do and which to skip out so as not to be late. Once I was clear about that, I proceeded to carry out the plan thought of. As a result, I was able to step out at 7:30 A.M. which was my time for all other days as well and the day went off smoothly.

Though I happened to manage my day without any chaos, if I think of a possible reason for the above mentioned morning drama, it points to a late night sleep. I had been studying till about 2 o’ clock resulting in an incomplete sleep cycle.

“Early to bed early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

This is an age-old wise saying with proven results!

Eating healthy, sleeping adequately and on time, exercising regularly are few among the many physical disciplines that help to keep one’s personal and social life in place.

Emotional Discipline

Emotional discipline doesn’t necessarily refer to bottling up one’s emotions. Rather, it refers to regulating and managing one’s emotions for the benefit of one’s own self and that of others. Again, it doesn’t refer to manipulation of one’s own or others’ emotions. It refers to awareness and control of one’s emotions – be it an angry outburst or crying or laughing.

Spiritual Discipline

Another less thought of area. Knowing our Creator, building a personal relationship with Him and building on that relationship is vital to human beings. Yet, it is one area that is most neglected.

On the day that I have mentioned above, that I woke up late, of the twenty minutes with me, I chose to spend ten minutes in speaking to God and hearing from Him, i.e., to pray and read my Bible and the remaining ten minutes to brush, have a bath and get ready to step out. For me, it was and still is important to have an audience with God before having an audience with the world.

Discipline doesn’t seem easy or interesting to imbibe. However, once mastered, its value is realised. Some people are self-aware and learn to be disciplined, while some have to be made to realize the importance of discipline.

It is easier to bend a plant towards the sun while it is still tender. Disciplinary attributes are best taught and learned in childhood for their effects to be seen in adult life. However, it is never too late to inculcate discipline. One can make use of reminders, help-mates and self-checks to ensure that one’s chaotic life is smoothened.

Be disciplined, be calm and at peace!


Person 1 – “Hey, I’m sorry for it all. This shouldn’t have happened. Would you forgive me for behaving the way I did?”

Person 2 – “Well, it’s good that you realize it. After some tussle within, I had forgiven you in my heart. And, now I tell you the same. Don’t repeat it again with anyone else.”

Person 1 – “Hoooofff! I’m relieved. Now that we are friends again, let’s go hiking this Saturday.”

Person 2 – “I hold nothing against you in my heart. But, the whole episode has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I don’t think it’s possible to go back to old times. We can’t be friends anymore.”

Person 1 – “How can you say that? I mean . . . we’ve been friends for decades and then this happens and you decide to walk away after saying that you’ve forgiven me. We’ve got to be friends again to prove that actually, all is well between us and that you have indeed forgiven me.”

Person 2  – “Sorry, forgiving doesn’t mean you and I need to be friends again. It simply means that I hold no grudge against you now. If ever we crossroads in life in the future, it’ll be in a clean-slate mode. No past record will hold either you or me hostage. However, I am not comfortable going back to being friends with you.”

Person 1 – “You can give it a chance. You could try trusting me once more.”

Person 2 – “That’s not something which I want to do. And, you need to respect that.”

Person 1 – “Initially, I was doubtful as to whether you would forgive me in the first place. But, I was relieved to know that I stand forgiven. But, I guess, I became a bit too ambitious by expecting more. Somebody said rightly, ‘Actions have consequences’.”

Person 2 – “Rightly said, ‘Actions have consequences.’ I can’t trust you with myself anymore.”

Person 1 – “Well then, here we part. I lost a friend. Good tidings to you!”

Person 2 – “Good tidings to you, too!”

This is a conversation between two friends involved in a conflict. Though there is forgiveness, there is no reconciliation. The reason being a denial of one party to the conflict, to restore old ties.

Once bitten twice shy – is an old saying. A requirement of reconciliation is two agreeing parties. This does not always happen. No matter for whatever reasons there is denial, it ought to be respected after an initial attempt to reason out.

Relationships cannot and should not be forcibly restored. The denying party has a right to personal space unless convinced otherwise.

This is true especially in case of a divorce between a married couple or a break-up after a romantic stint since deep-rooted emotions are involved in the relationship-building-up phase.

Hence the bottom line is that on the path to Reconciliation, one may face a roadblock called Denial. It has to be confronted with Reason. If Reason succeeds in displacing Denial with Convincing, Reconciliation is a short distance away. However, if Reason fails, the process needs to come to an end with due respect for the personal right to space being provided.

If the process of Reconciliation comes to an end without the desirous result, one way to resort to is prayer. Persistent prayer of faith changes situations and transforms hearts. It doesn’t breach the space of the other, yet continues its relentless persuasion.


Why these wars?
Why this loss of lives?
If men can love men,
And choose to live as close brethren.

Aching minds and crying hearts,
Longing for peace instead of fiery darts,
To love, indeed is an art,
Which every man must master and strive to play a part.

Reconciliation is a fruit of love. Love in the heart yearns to be reconciled with one who is not deemed to be on the same page as before.

Reconciliation refers to the restoration of previously existing friendly relations. It doesn’t simply mean ‘to patch up with someone.’ It involves much more. Though Reconciliation has been dealt with in Candles Online previously, this week is again devoted to the topic, thus recognizing its significant importance – be it in interpersonal relationships or in global ties. Without a doubt, reconciliation would make the world a better place to live in than it already is.

In today’s piece, I will be dealing with Feeling the Need for Reconciliation.

For any behaviour to manifest, there has to be a felt need. Though we do many things out of sheer habit, the human clock – be it biological, social or psychological – operates out of a felt need. Take, for example, hunger. When the hypothalamus perceives the need for food, it sends sensory signals and so you and I experience what is called hunger pangs. This leads us to go near a source of food and consume it to satiate our hunger. Just like hunger, most other physiological processes are born in the mind and are then translated into physical action/behaviour.

Reconciliation is not a physiological process, though the act of being reconciled with someone is reflected in physical and social behaviour. Unless one feels the need for reconciliation, the actual act of reconciliation doesn’t happen.

When we speak of reconciliation, we assume that there has been a point of conflict which was preceded by good relations. Genuine restoration of previous friendly relations is possible when the conflict is followed by forgiveness (which will be extensively dealt with on another day this week). Forgiveness, then gives way to the desire for reconciliation.

So then, what does it take to be reconciled with someone, why ought one feel the need for the same and how to reconcile? I’ll deal with the what and why of reconciliation in today’s piece. In the subsequent six articles of this week, we’ll talk about the how.

The intrusion of conflict into friendly relations results in the friendly ties being cut off, thus giving rise to enmity, anger, jealousy, a desire for revenge, stress and lack of peace as by-products. A continual indwelling of these vicious by-products results in a sick mind and body, thus affecting one’s intrapersonal and interpersonal well-being. Too much a cost to pay for the one life that is gifted to us!

The Bible says –

“If possible as far as it depends on you live peaceably with all.”

 These words of wisdom are not without reason. Count the costs of conflict and the blessings of peace – you’ll realize it!

So then won’t it make one look like a fool to be reconciled with someone who was only yesterday trying to cause harm? Won’t it make one a weakling before others? Is it not more logical to avenge oneself – tooth for tooth and eye for an eye?

We see this happening. Our newspapers and News channels are full of hate stories – whether social or diplomatic. Is it doing anyone any good? Well, the earth is still rotating and revolving. It hasn’t come to a standstill. But, human life feels the impact of unreconciled strained ties. Hatred breeds hatred and Love breeds love.

How then do we deal with the wrong done to us by a friend?

The easy way out is, of course, to shun all ties. But then, reconciliation is just the opposite of it. The answer to the above question is – deal with love. Sounds a bit impractical, doesn’t it? True.

How do you talk sweetly to a friend who has publicly ridiculed you? How do you go back and love your husband who has hurled abuses at you? How do you love your business partner who has syphoned huge amounts and got you thrown into prison? How do you love your wife who has cheated on you and is romantically involved with someone else? And, do you need to be reconciled with such people at all? ‘Not needed’ – many would say. ‘Not humanly possible’ – I say. Not possible unless we invoke the power of the Almighty to renew and strengthen us from within. It is for God Almighty to avenge the evil, injustice and wrongs that plague humans, and He sure does it in His way and in His time. Not for you and I to think of ways to get even and scheme and strategise the means for the same.

Reconciliation follows forgiveness and needs repentance as a necessary precursor. It takes one to forgive (or seek forgiveness) but, two to reconcile. Unless there are realization and repentance from the erring party, any desire for reconciliation doesn’t materialize.

That gives an easy excuse. Of course, you and I cannot go to such extreme extends to make an erring party realise, repent, seek forgiveness and have the desire to be reconciled. This is being over-ambitious for one’s self. And here again is where we need the power of the Almighty as He alone is the one who transforms human hearts and with God nothing is impossible – absolutely nothing!

Reconciliation not only restores friendly ties but also elevates us to a higher platform of functioning. It ensures a continued flow of love, peace and joy in our heart. It aids our soul to reflect the character of God in us. You see, while we broke away from God owing to our sin, He walked towards us to restore the friendly ties. And so, when we strive to reconcile with others, we strive for a greater goal!

Think about the depths of these words as the next six articles would take the topic to further details.