TASK WELL DONE

I am not good at routine works at all. I keep procrastinating. But I am always good when I am asked to complete a task within a time period. So, this time after a thorough Self Discovering series my co-writers went through Charlie’s Task series and believe it or not they did very well. Some denied, some gave excuses, some didn’t respond yet some participated wholeheartedly.

Usually, I would have summarised the gist of the whole event revealing what tasks I had given everyone. But I thought of doing differently this time by expressing my gratitude to all those who have participated. 

During, the Self Discovering series Prabhjot responded after she finished answering her set of questions – “Chiradeep, I feel like I am a celebrity answering this questionnaire.” And Prerna said, “I really like the way my answers are published on a public platform.” 

I want to encourage my co-writers that they are not less than celebrities as they have been filling in the gap in some or other way. There are many who read their articles or poems feel encouraged, inspired or motivated. So, I gathered all that they had said during the last two weeks and framed them in one poster. 

The featured picture is blank but the one I am posting here is filled with the quotes of my co-writers.

Poster for Angels Bulb
(Candles Online Property)

Keep reading and keep giving your feedback!

God bless you all!     

WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS THE END…

What I am going to share today was a life-changing experience for me. Those 3 months taught me the value of life, relationships and it further strengthened my trust in God.

Rewind to 2014

While the life was as normal as any other day, I noticed a pea sized lump on my neck. It was on the front side, a couple of inches above the collarbone. I was getting ready to leave for work and I was late as always. I made a mental note of checking this again in the evening and dismissed it as nothing for the time being. The rest of the day was uneventful. Next morning my fingers could feel the lump again and it got me thinking. What was it? How did it come up all of a sudden? Why wasn’t it paining? The first sprint of scare rushed in my mind but I calmed myself down and chose to believe it is not what I was thinking it is. After all, cancer doesn’t happen just like that! Or does it?

The lump refused to leave my neck and mind. I spent the next several days googling about such growth and was mentally checking the probability of malignancy. A couple of months passed away and day by day the size of the lump was increasing and so was my fear. I used to press it very hard with the hope that it will pain but it never did! Boy, was it really the big C?

Time had come to share my fear with my family and even though nobody mentioned it clearly, they feared the same big C that I was fearing.

We consulted a doctor who suspected typhoid. Apparently, this was the most common symptom of typhoid. I was relieved. Not that typhoid was good but it was far better and curable than Cancer. I was advised some blood tests and a needle test. Needle test is when they prick a needle deep inside the lump and collect the particles of growth to examine for typhoid. A few days later we got the results. “No trace of typhoid found however further examination advised to rule out malignancy”

I was shattered. My world came crashing down. Was it really Cancer after all? I was not ready for it. Next several days were spent crying and questioning whether I deserved this. No words gave me enough strength to put myself back together. Routine life continued but the sacre reflected in every action and every thought. After all, I was just 30 then. Married only for 5 years and waiting to have a baby! Was I going to die without most of my wishes unfulfilled, most of my goals unachieved and more importantly was I going to leave all my dear ones grieving after I die?

Wheels moved faster than on. The unavoidable biopsy was scheduled. All this while my relationship with God was undergoing a transformation. From blaming Him to be stone-hearted to pleading for my life, it was full of enlightenment of good and bad deeds in the past.

The day of biopsy dawned. I cannot describe the feeling I had when I was wheeled to the operation theatre. All that I wanted was if there was malignancy there then I wished that something goes wrong with the surgery and I die during the procedure. I was ok dying without notice instead of dying every single day fighting the big C. Coward I know! But I was really not prepared for it.

Biopsy went well and the sample was sent for further investigation. The report was due after a week. This was my first test. I started undergoing change. I slowly embraced acceptance. I decided to make the best use of whatever time was left. I started expressing love more to my family. I started praying harder. My prayers changed from being demanding to being humble. I thanked God for everything He has given me and I asked for the fortitude to help me get through this phase. God is kind indeed. He blessed me with tons of fortitude and I was able to resume my routine quite soon. Of course, there were breakdowns and the fear did manifest every now and then but somehow I managed to stay put. I used to tell myself every day that things are going to be fine. I was learning to focus on positivity.

The report came. “No malignancy detected. Culture recommended” Aaaah… What a relief! I felt like I had been gifted a new life. I hugged my husband and both of us cried. God is Great! It gave me a boost and more faith to take on life. A sample was further sent for culture. Culture reports come in three parts, each a month apart.

Those 3 months transformed me completely. I was more positive, enthusiastic and living every day of my life. I was more confident that probably the big C is not in the picture. I joined a new job which seemed impossible a few weeks ago. I was my normal self again sans the fear at the back of my mind. I got introduced to spirituality during this time and my relationship with God enhanced further. God has always been kind. Each time I broke down He lifted my spirit with more confidence and fortitude than before. It was impossible without Him to keep going.

All three reports came out clear. I was amazed by my tenacity and fortitude – both which were the gifts of Almighty. Some experiences are life-changing. They make us stronger and more courageous. Thank you God for being there for me ALWAYS. I truly believe that had it not been for God, malignancy was sure to be there because there was no other diagnosis to it.

Anyway, I am glad things turned out well. All is well that ends well, isn’t it? Today I am more matured in my thought process, value and emphasise my relationships more, take life easy. I have understood that life is not only about chasing dreams but living one!

IF THEY CAN’T BE SMART, YOU HAVE TO BE SENSIBLE

Why are you so obsessed about photographs?” asks my irked husband whenever I ask him to click me (only on occasions called festivals).  And I am ever ready with my taunts “why not? My sister, my sister-in-law, my friends – everyone gets clicked, and not just once but hundreds of trial and error shots, I only ask you once but you have a problem with everything I request (command, let’s leave it 😁)” and it depends on mood swings of the other party whether  to continue the taunt parade or call it quits. But the fact is he and me, both of us know why I want to squeeze in the memory of phone storage, simple! only to display the best one on FB 😂😂  and to count the likes and comments ensuing.  And I admit that I am guilty of liking to be “liked“.

I get mostly complimented on my smile. I am angry with Chiradeep at this point for giving me this surprise question/task 😡, just kidding.

What’s the secret? It’s just that I believe in this: A hug should be warm; A wish should be heartfelt; A smile should be infectious”.

If warmth and love are missing, then everything you do – a hug, a wish, a smile – are nothing but gestures covering your pretence.  I know for some reason that when I smile (not to the camera/mirror😁) at someone, for instance, greeting fellow parents at my daughter’s school, neighbours, for that matter a fellow passenger in bus who is a complete stranger, it’s the same positivity or happy vibe that I get reciprocated with. A simple thumb rule of life…at least what I believe and try to inculcate always – YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE.  So I have decided to “Smile” to keep the negativity at bay.

No rule is without exception: Do my Facebook page show you the “True Me”?  Do I smile 24×7 (a question is invalid, to say the least)? No! I have other faces which rarely people get to see. There are instances when my smile could be a pretence or a mere smirk because other options to speak out my heart are closed. I feel like shouting letting my disapproval known, I feel like rolling my eyes showing my disinterest in the person or conversation. But I fail to do so on numerous occasions, especially when family and relations are involved. And most importantly I find it really hard to say “NO” lest I make them unhappy, I break the harmony of the atmosphere. A recent example: Everyday when I return to home after dropping my daughter at school I have to pass a cafe. The owner of the cafe, a middle-aged man became my acquaintance after he noticed me for a few days. Things were fine till cordial exchange of pleasantries. But then he started inviting me to his cafe to have a cup of coffee. He was quite persistent in his urge. And I declined politely every day as I  always have heaps of chores to finish off at home. I was like always smiling and putting down his offer as gently as I could.  I didn’t want to hurt him or rude at him but after some time I could feel the irritation running in my veins on locating him. I even took a long route to avoid seeing him. Though nothing personal, though he meant business only in a very literal sense it irritates to me no end that people fail to decipher beyond the smile, beyond excuses that there could be a strong reason or a problem doing rounds in our lives. It’s not just him, I know people (more than acquaintances) who see the gloss but reluctant to see and accept the pain underlining other’s life. “Grass is always greener on the other side” so true.

Shall I trend a path more unlike me? My friend Chiradeep asked me “Can you ever be harsh on anyone?” Yes, I can be but only with people who see my true emotion without judging me and without holding any grudge against me. My siblings, my kids (kids pure souls and smart indeed) – perhaps the people who know me in and out. I can be me with them. And with others, I choose a more diplomatic way of dealing things – avoid conversation and if it’s not possible to avoid an argument. It’s not about safeguarding my image but I feel hurting someone in the spur of the moment is a foolishness when it doesn’t serve any good big time, period! Because to damage is easy than to build.

Bringing it to an end “I wish people are smart enough to read between the lines, if not so let me be more sensible“.

“HOW ARE YOU” – DO I MEAN IT?

Last week Pogo (my Pug) peed on our doormat and my Mom slipped on it. She got a swelling and a slight crack on her right leg. The doctor advised her to wear a rigid splint the whole day and remove it before going to bed. Yesterday night when she was removing the splint, Pogo was watching her. He immediately started licking my Mom’s right leg, that too particularly the swollen part. After the incident, we noticed a stark difference in his behaviour and especially with my Mom, he behaves very soberly.

It might seem unrealistic and funny as he is a mere animal! Let me share you a couple of happenings of my life with humans recently to see the difference and the message I derived out of it.

In the recent past, I went through some unpleasant days of my life. I was feeling very low and discouraged. During such moments a couple of my friends asked me – HOW ARE YOU?

To one, I hesitated and in a very subtle way I portrayed ‘I am fine’. But immediately, my friend caught me and started checking with one of my contacts and also on my social media pages just to know what is exactly happening in my life.

To another one who is very close to me with bit hesitation, I shared about my bad condition. But the response was very casual or taken for granted kind of.

Did you notice the difference?

I would like to quote Payal’s (Candles Online writer) comment on it – “Humans are losing the sense of sensitizing the pain in others life. We have gone busy in grappling the materialistic and temporary gains.

Indeed it is like the condition of a leprous leg, unable to sense the pain and need for medication. The more I ignore the condition, the more the germ spreads and the more the ability of sensitivity is lost.

WHOM SHALL I BLAME FOR SUCH  AA CONDITIO OF MY LIFE?

WHY CAN’T I SENSE THE PAIN IN OTHERS?

Human is the epitome of God’s creation and is given the ability to understand the pain of others. Through understanding the pain of others and comforting them we project God’s image as that’s how we are created.

One of the life-changing experiences of Indian cricketer Mr Sidhu was a meetin with Mother Teresa. When he went to meet Mother Teresa and donate Rs. 10,000/- for charity, he saw Mother Teresa cleaning the wounds of a couple  of people with leprosy on their death bed. The room was stinking so much of their rotten flesh that Mr Sidhu had to run out and puke. After that when Mr Sidhu handed over the money, Mother Teresa said to him, Son, I do not need your money, I need your time.

Do we have time for others? The answer is, NO.

But why do we actually become opposite to how we were created? Where is the root of that leprosy? I think it is inside of us, inside of me?

The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”

What is that sickness?

Sin is the sickness of our heart. It is the bitterness, anger, arrogance, pride, clamour, evil speaking, malice and lust. These are little foxes who take birth in our heart and causes us to sin in a greater manner – Murder, Rape, Loot, Corruption, False Witnessing and many more.

Let us deal with these little foxes today!

Sickness cannot be called as sickness without Healing. When there is Sin, there is also Holiness. It is the LORD who is Holy, and as long as He exists we have the hope of becoming holy and  being healed again from the sickness of  the heart.

God has given us just two principles;

“Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind

Love people as you love yourself.”

I’M MY OWN HERO

In the middle of a dandelion field there
stood a forlorn silhouette tall, fair and lean.
Delicate features with curly brown hair,
waving at me from a distance with a smile filled with despair.
I walked towards her with a heavy heart,
scared and anxious about what she would want.
Wiping the tiny pearls of woe running down from her big beautiful eyes,
she said her happiness is like the dandelion, scattered by the wind, leaving behind loneliness and despise.

“Why shed tears for the emotions you have no control on,
it was never to be owned so now let it go and move on.”

I put my hand out to reach for her’s, held her soft palm and braised it with love,
reassured her that I can love her like no other and in my arms, I held her with love.
To my surprise, she smiled and said she felt better,
I was awestruck and no words my heart could utter.
The mirror in front of me showed me that I’m my own hero, my guardian and my true inspiration;
that I should listen to myself, my inner voice and within my soul find my salvation.

(Note: God gives strength at the time of chaos. He is my inner voice and my ultimate salvation)

CAPTURING PICTURES – WHAT INSPIRES ME.

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(Pictures that caught my attention)

 

I am someone who believes everyone has two faces. One for the world to see, one only they know exists, and what the world sees may not truly be the real picture. What we hide behind our faces, is the real face. And that goes for everything under the sun; animate or inanimate.

Finding the hidden faces of things, of people, is the sole motivation behind my love for capturing pictures. I don’t call myself a photographer but just someone loves to capture what the world refuses to show or reveal.

It doesn’t matter if I have a professional DSLR or a vintage camera because it’s the curiosity to go digging deeper under the surface that triggers my love for photography. For me, capturing pictures is not about capturing memories. It is all about capturing those pristine moments when I could unveil a certain human trait or explore nature in a different light.

Guess, what I am trying to imply is that although many consider photography a hobby, for me, it is a little more than a hobby – it’s a habit. A habit to seek the ordinary from the extraordinary, the average from the fantastic, the calm from the cool, the melancholy from the mirth, and the transient from the constant.

Thanks & Regards,

Asha Seth

OF SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-RESTRAINT

In a world where everyone is ready to compromise and satiate their desires, what makes you stay afloat – holding onto your values and maintaining self-restraint and self-control as much as possible? Apart from God and His divine strength what are the things that boost you to stay self-controlled?

In my response to this question, the first impression that I would like to make is that ‘self-restraint’ and ‘self-control’ are not easy. Looking at the different philosophies and belief patterns across the world today, it seems as if humankind has woken up to a desperate attempt to propagate and exercise ‘self-control’. The recent school of thought which I came across just a few days before was that one needn’t do anything to exercise control over oneself. The reasoning being that the moment a person attempts to control something in himself/herself, it generates stress. So the way out, according to the speaker, is to live the desire and let it die out in the process.

While I would not mince words to label the above as faulty reasoning (as did many others in the audience), I wouldn’t go into the details of justifying the same in this space – because then, that itself would consume the entire writing space!

How do I face my desires? When and how do I exercise self-restraint and self-control?

The question that is put to me seeks an answer – ‘apart from God and His divine strength’ what helps me to stay self-controlled. But as I set to think of it, I can say that all reins of self-control and self-restraint that I have and continue to practise in my life revolve solely around God and His divine strength.

Desire to acquire/possess

When encountered with the desire to acquire and possess things which are over and above my needs, what keeps me grounded is the faces of people who are deprived of even the basics that I am blessed to have. And so I acknowledge that what I have to satiate my needs and many of my wants as well, are enough.

A strong human urge is to want to acquire the things someone else has. It may be a piece of clothing, a particular vehicle, a house, a more lucrative career, better education to one’s child than a relative’s child and so on. In a day and age of increased materialism and digitization where the global market and the best of cross-cultural products are just a few clicks away, the temptation to indulge is difficult to resist. The desire to show that one’s possessions are unique and better than someone else’s is pretty strong. In such times the following verse from the Bible pulls my reins –

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife . . . or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

Neighbour, here, doesn’t necessarily refer to someone who stays next door. It broadly refers to anyone whom one is closely acquainted with. And so when I find a good possession with anyone, I make sure to appreciate it but I do not go further thinking – ‘I wish I had it as well!’

Desire to achieve

We are living in times of cut-throat competition to achieve. There is nothing wrong to aspire for greater career goals. In fact, the higher the bar we set for ourselves and push ourselves towards it, the more we tend to discover our hidden potentials and God-given abilities. However when it comes to having an endless desire to achieve, one tends to neglect certain more important goals in life.

I’ve been there. Having had quite a decent academic record, it was quite natural to aspire for greater goals. To be surrounded with expectations from friends, family, teachers and well-wishers to aim for loftier heights was indeed motivating. But in my desire to achieve, I came to a stage where I needed to ask myself the reason behind it all. And, I discovered that to want to achieve just for the sake of it or for the sake of people around is a vain goal. What is more important is to follow my God-given passion to create a difference around me.

It’s not always easy to walk in this path. On one hand are the lures of power, position, financial affluence and recognition in aiming to achieve what the world calls ‘achievement’. On the other hand are obscurity, lack of fame and recognition, possible financial constraints and being an absolute nobody among the who’s who around.

I have dealt with this in realising that achievements of this world stay back in this world. They won’t matter much. All life comes to an end. The most illustrious person dies one day leaving all behind and so does a tramp on the street who has not much to call his/her own. But creating a difference in at least one person’s life no matter how insignificant a position I may be in, would matter a lot – not only on this earth but in eternity. As Jesus Christ says – ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I still am not there completely. But, this is what helps me to exercise restraint in the face of mindless desires for achievement.

Adolescent desires for relationship

This is something I have been mostly quizzed about by friends and the teenagers that I deal with. In senior school and college years, I was one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend. Most of my friends were into fluttering relationships. And some who didn’t, often lamented the fact that they didn’t have anyone interesting in their lives. On being told that I didn’t feel the need for love-life then, a few of my friends felt that though I was intellectually gifted, perhaps I was lagging behind in a component of emotional development J  

Well, what kept me in control? The love of Jesus Christ. I was so saturated with the highest form of love from my early teen years, that I never felt the need for the love of a man in my life before God’s appointed time. The love of the One who loved me with His all (giving His life for me), forgave my sins (which no boyfriend claiming to love me, could), gave me the assurance of eternal fellowship with my Creator (which surpasses any precious gift given by a lover), promised to be by my side at all times no matter where and in what situation I was (which even the best of all lovers cannot do) – was so encompassing and overwhelming for me that I didn’t feel the need to look beyond.

And so I didn’t fall prey to youthful temptations. Of course, it has been none of my doing. I am eternally grateful to God for helping me experience the depth of His love on His own accord – for loving me first before I could even think of anything of that sort.

Having answered the question in sharing the ways in which I exercise self-control and self-restraint, I also confess that there have been times in which I have given in to temptations – at times unintentionally, but sometimes with full conscious knowledge. Each time in reflection and introspection, I have realized that those were the times that I shifted my focus from God onto something or someone else. That’s when I tripped.

So yes, it’s not easy to practise self-control for long by sheer determination or willpower. It’s the power of God’s spirit that keeps me going.