THANK YOU STRANGER FOR THESE WINGS

Dear Diary,

15 years back I had a very comfortable life, my husband was earning well and kids were doing good too. My role was that of a provider to the demands like housewives in our country are expected to do. I always aspired to be a dancer but with marriage, I packed my aspirations in a bag on the way to my new address. And really never got a chance to open up that sealed bag (smiles). Responsibilities piled up so does the monotony and mundaneness of life. At the end of the day, I had this feeling of being hollow from within. But no matter what, I had (still have) this habit of visiting the local library every 15 days. There I met this stranger. She was searching for a book on Indian classical dance. And coincidentally I was reading the same genre. She came to me and quietly (almost in a gesture for we were in a library) asked, “in which corner did you find this?”. I showed the directions and got busy with my book again. In a  few minutes, she came back and sat reading. As we lifted our heads from our respective reads we passed smiles at each other.

She was very young, around 20 years. Now I saw her more often at the library. We slowly became friends despite the age gap between us. I found out she had an inclination towards Indian classical dance like me. She was pursuing her dreams. I was in awe of her. I told her “Roshni (so apt to her which means light) you are so lucky to be able to live your dream. I am in awe of your family too.”

She smiled and said “I don’t have a family. Born to a sex worker, rescued by a good samaritan, called names by the society, it has always been a struggle to survival. But that has made me strong only, strengthened my resolve to make it better for myself and likes.

I was left dumbfounded. I could only say and all this while I have been complaining about my life when it is so comfortable. She chuckled hard at my words. Days passed and I eagerly waited to meet her again at the library. But she never turned up again, instead of left a note with the librarian addressed to me.

Don’t belittle your problems by stopping to dream and only complaining. Thank the hurdles in your way, thank the taunts and insults hurled at you for they might appear to be stones but you can make them into stepping stones to your success and happiness. They might appear to be dust and twigs directed towards you but you can make them your wings. A comfortable life doesn’t always mean a happy one too. If you’ve got one such life make better use of it and don’t waste it slogging through years. Your happiness is your responsibility. And show your gratitude towards God by being a good human and having humanity.”

Chaya finished her diary writing and glanced at the state award she received for her exemplary work in the field of humanitarian service to the sex workers and their kids and yes beside that award stood her achievements as a classical dancer, she always dreamt of. And in her heart, she thanked Roshni again “Thank you for the wings”.

 

 

 

A WORLD SANS GRATITUDE

Mr. Cold was busy in his laboratory developing a variant to be introduced in the human body. His intention was to unleash something so dreadful upon the world which is no less than an apocalypse. He had his mutant ready but so eager he was to test it in the real environment that he didn’t bother to have the antidote ready for it.

He released the virus “NOGRAT” in the air and sat back to see the drama unfold. As the virus spread in the air and inhaled, it instantly froze the hearts of people by squeezing out the warmth. The very source of warmth – Gratitude evaporated. And a different psychological cycle started operating. No one felt thankful to anyone for anything.

The privileged were thankless for what have or acquired hence the very emotion of service to give back to society extinguished. The already existing wedge in the society between the haves and have nots widened beyond imagination.

Children are not thankful to their parents for providing them a safe haven. Students were not thankful to their teachers for showing them the right path. As a result, respect breathed its last.

Friends, Family, Relationships all shed gratitude and don new robes of brand “ungrateful” and forgot every sweet and kind gesture they have been bestowed upon. Care, Love, Loyalty – burnt to ashes and buried deep down.

People devoid of gratitude towards God, towards fellow human beings, were soon bereft of all emotions that had gratitude as a breeding ground – love, care, sense of belonging, benevolence, sense of commitment, loyalty, respect, the intent of service. Meanness, Greed, Lust, Hatred, Jealousy now active in frozen hearts turned them into mechanically working robots. The air of ingratitude now started engulfing nature as well. Droughts, cyclones, famines, and fury everywhere. These extreme conditions made the inhumane humans devoid of all godly emotions devour on each other.

Mr. Cold was enjoying this sitting in his laboratory as the world sans gratitude was crashing because of his virus “NOGRAT”. As he let his hair down after a devilish experiment his pet dog came to him running from outside. It inhaled the same air that everyone did. He loved his pet dog. As he tried to snuggle with the dog it bit him.

He cried in pain as he shook off the dog away from him calling the dog “You UNGRATEFUL creature!!” and it was the very moment when he realized what havoc he created robbing the world of happiness as he stole the seed itself – Gratitude. And the horror is haunting him as he locked himself in a dark room, slowly inching towards death away from any help from the monstrous world which was once beautiful and helpful…

Trrrrrinnggggggg…

My alarm rang and I snapped out of that dreadful and scary dream. It’s beyond the contemplation of my wisdom to imagine a world sans gratitude! Gratitude isn’t a singled out emotion, but an ecosystem in itself, a gamut of various positive emotions. Being thankful for the almighty is the beginning of the thread that weaves the bonds between human souls. Being grateful in itself is great, it teaches humility, love, responsibility, loyalty – differentiating a human from just man – food for thought.

RE-ENGINEERING SELF, CHUCK SELF-PITY

Just one day left in this pathetic year by every means. World is already looking forward to welcome 2021 with high spirits. With vaccines being rolled out already in many countries world is back on track of hope. Hope of leaving behind the scared memories of losing near and dear ones, hope of bouncing back from the losses – be it a job or relationship, hope of a better life, hope of a healthy environment, hope of freedom (from mask counts first 😁) – Many Hope’s on this new year menu😁. What’s your stake?

No matter how much we despise the current year, it did one thing for sure – brought the entire world on the same page where people actually Hoped that everyone should be fine. Something that God wants us to pray for but we have built some strong walls of greed, jealousy, selfishness and ego around us that made us go completely deaf to our conscience. This pandemic has re-engineered the basics of human nature – Humanity First!!

With learnings and hopes stacked at one table, we are at that time of the year where we make resolutions. Lose weight, quit smoking, quit drinking, learn a new art, more time to hobbies, read more………… cutting it short – to be a better “ME”, isn’t it? Talking about myself I am really bad in keeping up my resolutions. Everything that I have mentioned above were and are on my list for ages (exceptions of smoking and drinking fortunately) and now making me introspect myself, “why haven’t you made it yet?”.

As I spoke about re-engineering previously, my self introspection handed me an answer to my question – I need to re-engineer myself. I have to chuck out Procrastination and Self Pity at once. These are the elements in me that I want to leave behind on this side of threshold before entering the new year. I have spoken many a times about my habit of procrastinating things. Let me be more succinct – I am LAZY (being rustic in addressing an issue helps find solution rather quickly😁). Delaying things have many a times conditioned my mind to search for excuses and sound not-guilty of the consequences. A petty example from my routine : during school days I have to get up around 5 AM in the morning to make sure my son catches his bus at 7 AM and doesn’t leave without his breakfast. Alarm makes its presence felt from 4:45 AM itself but I more often than not stretch the stay at bed till 5:15. With fifteen minutes lost in transition it’s always a run against the time. And if something unexpected happens then I switch on my self-pity mode “I had headache”, “don’t I deserve a 5 minutes extra sleep”, “after doing so much I have to endure the taunts”. For me so far it has been a visicious circle of Procrastination and Self Pity.

Over a period of time I have realised this isn’t doing me any good, in fact doing more damage. I could have learned more, grown more, done more to my family and society – only if I wasn’t as lazy as I am and suffered from self pity. Out of the two if I have to choose one to be abolished first from within me it has to self-pity. There are many instances where I get inspired from people around me, take an initiative to do something but on failure I go back thinking about the circumstances that I had faced in the past and telling myself “had it been not that ways it was then”. And at the end of the day I remain a failure.

I also wrote once “Statutory Warning: Self Pity is injurious to health” for Candles Online long ago. I believe it completely but sometimes we are unable to come out of the cast-it spells because we don’t realise we are suffering from it. Now that I have I have a path carved for me in front of me “Chin up, accept the weakness, acquire strength, learn from failures, taste the success, never give up”!

IS CONSUMERISM A COMPLETELY FUTILE CONCEPT?

Demand and Supply run the dynamics of the modern-day world or simply put Economics. Modern-day politics, policies, relationships – be it at the micro or macro level are governed purely by economics. “Size of the market” influences the amount of leverage any nation gets. To influence consumers or say lure them to buy a product, widen the market share is an old practice. With the world becoming a global village, competition is cutthroat and marketing is a serious business. At the end of the day it is to make a consumer believe – BELIEVE US, BUY OUR PRODUCT, HAPPINESS GUARANTEED!! And this is called Consumerism, to make (attract) the consumers believe that their happiness quotient in life will be enhanced if they buy a certain product.

Is Consumerism Bad? From a purely economic point of view, it is not. The entire machinery of the economy runs and depends on aggregate demand; the percentage of income spent by the consumers against the percentage saved. It is the demand/expenditure that determines the GDP of the economy. The higher the previously mentioned factors higher will be the GDP, hence a better economy. Therefore the focus is on influencing the demand of the consumers.

How Exactly It Works? A petty example: A consumer is attracted or influenced to buy a pair of jeans from a particular brand of clothing and he purchases that. It is direct income to the brand. Let’s see the trickle-down effect of demand / anticipated demand – it creates income for the raw material supplier; for the workers working in the factory producing the final product; rent for the premise holder; salaries for the showroom workers; income for the marketing teams; income for the factories producing petty items like zips & buttons. One demand creates a multiple fold impact. And when the aggregate / collective figure is taken it is huge. And not to mention every time income is created it is again pumped into the economy by respective parties via spending.

How Good It Is For The Consumer :

1.With the advent of concepts like liberalization, globalization, free markets consumer is enabled to make choices from the plethora of goods available in the market. Which means more choice.

2. Monopoly doesn’t work anymore, consumers got a say indirectly in fixing the prices suitable to their pocket.

3. Providers have to eventually take care of the quality of the goods provided because sub-par products get replaced easily and their market share will be grabbed by their competitors.

4. Mass production helps reduction of costs of production. Reduced cost of production provides the makers with a scope to attract buyers with better offers.

To put it straight Consumer (customer) is the king.

The Flip Side of Consumerism: On a weekend I would rather beat my coffee than beat around the bush. Coming straight to the point Consumerism encourages unnecessary consumption that has no impact on the life of the consumer if omitted. Simply the attraction to the colorful advertisements, the urge to show off, inferiority complexes brewing inside, insane levels of idolizing the celebrities makes people purchase the things which they certainly don’t need. From a fairness cream to a hatchback everything is pushed down the consumers’ (unmindful ones, whose number is multiplying fast) throat, making them believe – this will change your life for good. And when such demand arises it has its own negative points, hard to neglect:

1. Increase in conspicuous consumption results in multiple fold production which means more stress on resources, more waste disposal, more pollution.

2. Purchases made to show off an elevated standard of living often leads to financial crunch situations. Easy availability of credit cards / online shopping methods inspiring more such conspicuous consumption.

3. The psychological impact to keep up with the hollow standards of beauty, fashion, lifestyle is pushing people to depression and anxiety.

Can there be a “better” Consumerism? Considering how the whole concept of consumerism works if the onus to promote “good” goods is taken up by the producers that can make a great impact. For example, if healthy eating habits can be promoted via bio/organic products, made available to every stratum of the society possible, that could mean something because after all health is wealth. If celebrities are conscious about the brands or products they are promoting they will be doing a great service indirectly to the people who follow them blindly.

Role of Consumers: With the information on every product thrown at our face available consumers should educate themselves and be well informed before making any expenditure. It’s a matter of health – be it physical or psychological and of course hard-earned money!!

Consumerism is all about consumers and how they are influenced to buy. And they buying run the economy of any nation. So why not scale-out the thorns and keep what’s good and beneficial. We as a society need to move from conspicuous to conscious consumption.

Never use kids as pawns in your fights for you can’t expect a sweet yield if you have sown bitter and poisonous seeds.
It holds true for a family, a society, a nation, and the world.

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART VI

Sam saw a disoriented look on Disha’s face. He let out a sigh and called the waiter, “Hey buddy would you mind if we help in increasing CCD’s business a bit more?” Sam tried to be funny, to lighten the dense atmosphere at that table.

The waiter was confused, “pardon sir! Didn’t get you“.

Can you get us two cold coffees with vanilla ice cream please?  And yes take your own sweet time. So we are not only buying cold coffee but time too. That shall be all for now, thank you.” Sam placed his order which was of course an excuse to sit there longer without being kicked out for table occupancy instead of ordering anything.

Look Disha we need to talk” Sam turned his attention towards his sweet, confused, fuming friend.

But Disha was not in a mood to listen as she found the entire scenario difficult and to worsen things, in her mind of course Sam had said a word upon hers. “Sam if it’s about Akash then excuse me, I don’t want to listen to anything, at least right now. I need time,” gruntled Disha.

Sam chuckled a bit, nudged his head, and continued, “Forget Akash for a minute. It’s about Chetan“.

What about Chetan” puzzled Disha asked.

Oh, that means you remember him, even to this day I feel you shouldn’t have done to him what you have done. He loved you ardently. Not only that you reciprocated, but got him in a legal soup. I feel for him.” Sam just ruffled pages from the past.

Chetan was one of the school friends, who with the passing time nursed feelings for Disha. They were just friends, that’s what Disha thought. As time passed he was obsessed with her. When finally one day he poured out his heart and consequently turned down by Disha he simply couldn’t take it. In the want of being accepted, persuasion followed by stalking happened. A sweet friend now turned into a psychopath scared Disha enormously. She informed her parents and the cops entered the scene to solve the issue.

Disha was furious now, “how on earth you can hold me responsible for that maniac? Suddenly you are sounding like my distant aunts who pinpointed my character and nature for his insanity. Where this is coming from? Tell me what’s my FAULT?” Her face was like amber on fire.

The silent Sam was now in action with his usual calm demeanor, “you spoke it yourself. First of all, I am sorry for my regressive remark. You are no where at fault when it’s about Chetan. And my point is so is Akash. Both the incidents are different when we look at the scenarios but the results are the sameyou and Akash are at the receiving ends, receiving flak and trauma for no Fault of yours. And I want you to think from that perspective. I could have easily said how does one’s past matters but we all know it does in some or other way. But in his case, I don’t even think that an accidental marriage or say charade even qualifies for the tag of Past. Still, he decided to let you know about it, he scored there for me. Now you have to think if he is worthy enough of your admiration or not. Just think“.

The matured Samarth left infuriated Disha lost in deep thoughts…

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART III

“Hi Akash, how are you? Was just thinking about you. Tell me, I am all ears” said Disha in a tone that indicated her willingness to dive into her (their) little conversations as suggested by Samarth and agreed by her.

Akash cleared his throat and continued “I am good, thank you. I was thinking if we can meet and talk this weekend” and before he could finish Disha interrupted.

“Meet? Weekend? How? Are you in the city or going to come?” There was a plethora of questions just shot by Disha.

“Hmmm” sighed Akash “yes I am in your city, so thought of meeting you. There’s something really important that I want to share with you and I wouldn’t have got any better chance than this. So would you mind meeting me this Saturday which is just two days away?

Disha tried to persuade him a bit to get a hint of what it could be. “Akash, I can meet you on Saturday but we can talk now as well, I’m good with it. What it is about, you can share with me” exclaimed a little bit intrigued Disha.

“I would have if I could have. This is something which I prefer to be shared with you in your physical presence and since I have the opportunity too I insist to maintain my silence for now, I request no more questions. Thank you for agreeing to meet me. Looking forward for our meeting” said an unfazed Akash.

“Ok, if you say so. See you on Saturday. Good night” Disha signed off after receiving a reciprocation .

For the next two days her mind was occupied by one question – what it could be with multiple answers though playing at the back of her mind. And when mind is in chaos heart yearns for the trusted ally and in Disha’s case it was Sam. She spoke to him at great length, basically listing out what her mind has been proposing to her – family, career – his or mine?, responsibilities – I must tell him that I am a pathetic cook so that his expectations don’t soar high, health – hmmm.. we will sort it out, PAST – and sought his opinion about “what it could be”. A calm Sam though suggested just one thing “let him open up, don’t try to pierce in. Take it as it comes”.

“Would you like to join me on Saturday? His call had made me all the more nervous” Disha asked Sam as she anyways wanted him to meet Akash.

Samarth declined to oblige. “You two are not even a party yet so the third me will not only be a crowd but nuisance. Don’t try to punctuate the conversation without even starting it. It’s not about my judgement of him but your confidence, rather I would say mutual confidence. Let it build. Don’t panic. Go ahead” Sam explained and calmed down somewhat nervous Disha.

Saturday finally here!!! Disha and Akash met at CCD. They exchanged pleasantries. Akash pulled the chair for Disha and acted very gentlemanly. Be it the way he addressed the waiter, or the way he sat, spoke to her without letting his gaze wander, enquired about her family – that was a perfect amalgamation of good ethics and confidence. Order was placed. So as they were waiting for their order to arrive Akash decided to answer the very much awaited question of Disha “what it could be”.

Seems Disha’s intuition was not completely wrong, it is his PAST!!!

“Disha, since we are on the verge of beginning our lives together I want you to know about me in and out” Akash commenced his conversation and was soon interrupted by curious Disha.

Drawing her eyes closer, she spoke out her guess “relationship?”