MY MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSION

I always laugh whenever I hear anyone talking about the Big Bang Theory.  Apparently, in the beginning, there was nothing – and then it exploded. The “nothing”, that is.

If we talk about creation, there is a creator, if we talk about life, we must talk about a life-giver.

So what is my post precious possession? It is the life I have. This is not a chance mixing of DNA when I was conceived – not a cosmic soup of protons and neutrons that formed me by coming together in a random manner.

I know that I am “amazingly and miraculously made.” I know that someone “made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

The awe and wonder that is filled in life itself cannot be explained.

Do you know that there is a lizard species called the stone dragon? This lizard has an amazing way of drinking water. All it needs to do is put one of its feet in a water source, and a capillary action soaks up the water through the entire length of its body until the water reaches its face and mouth – and that too, against gravity! How amazing is that?

Life is beautiful, and the day we understand that – despite all the pain and suffering all around us – we will see that there is a meaning to it after all.

Here are four reasons why LIFE should be everyone’s most prized possession:

My life is purposeful and precious: Since my life is the work of a Creator, it has purpose and meaning.  I now know that “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is my Creator’s purpose that prevails.”

No matter what pain and suffering I have gone through in my life, I know that my life is precious because my Creator has a grand plan that is already in motion as we speak. All the levers and pulleys of my life are inching its way to the ultimate reality, the reality of ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I doing here.’

The other day my husband and were drinking our evening tea and talking. We were discussing a certain turn of events that happened recently. Suddenly, I had a huge realization! Years earlier, a situation happened in our life that was so strange and uncomfortable that we wondered why it happened. And now suddenly, like a huge relief, I realized why I had to go through that uncomfortable experience – it all happened in order to experience the joy of our recent happenings.

This is just one small thing. Can you imagine the number of tiny situations that are all working together for good? Yes, for good. That is a precious life lived with purpose.

My life has a responsibility attached to it:  My life is not a lah-dee-dah scenario, when all I do is live it to the fullest and then leave this world. I have some responsibilities and some standards I have to live up to. My Creator has sent me to this world for a purpose, and my responsibility is to find out what my purpose is and then fulfill it. I also have responsibilities to the people who brought me into this world, my parents — and the person my Creator has appointed to be my life-partner.

I am also responsible for all the things that my Creator has put me in charge of. That includes what I own, and the rest of his creation – nature and all other living beings.

In the end, my Creator will ask me for an account of all these responsibilities I was assigned to, and I always want to be in the good books.

My life is joy overflowing : It is hard to explain – this joy! It is not something that everyone has, unfortunately, but it is certainly the kind of joy anyone can get, only if they look in the right place.

I am not talking about the LOL kind of joy – I am talking about the joy that comes from the inside. Most joy we experience and see others experiencing is based on a causality factor. I bought a new TV, so I am happy, I ate good food, so I am happy, I got a mobile phone as a gift, so I am happy. If we remove this causality factor, will the joy still be there?

The joy I am talking about is different – it is joy that bubbles out of my soul, even though I am sick, or suffering, or sad. It is not based on material gratification nor a partner’s reciprocation. It is the power to smile in the midst of my worries and sorrows. What a thrill to experience this kind of joy.

My life is eternal : And lastly, my LIFE is important because it is not temporary, it is permanent, it is eternal.

My Creator did not place me here on this earth, just to exist for about 60-70 years and then sink into oblivion, no way! My existence is beyond space and time. It may be outside the fabric of my understanding for now, but that is only temporary.  There will come a time when the secrets of this universe will made known to all, depending on which side of the fence you are in.

Value life, treasure life, honour life – this is a gift and a responsibility from your Creator. Will you live it to its utmost potential?

THE STRUGGLE WITH HEARTBREAK

Love is a many splendored thing, wrote Shakespeare. If you are a student of English Literature, you will know that one of the meanings of this line is that love, among other things, gives meaning to life.

However, does the opposite hold true with heartbreak? If love gives meaning to life, does heartbreak take away that meaning, thus ridding us of the will to live? It might seem like that, as I learned during my period of utmost heartbreak many years ago.

But having endured heartbreak and rediscovering life and love once again, I have become a firm believer that everything in life does not happen by chance. It is a part of a bigger design, a higher thought, a deeper more vast power.

In the beginning, it seemed like the forbidden fruit, and forbidden it was indeed. The cute guy sitting in my college classroom wanting to be my friend had virtual “stop signs” written all over him. I was confused, how could something that seemed so right, be so wrong? I enjoyed the adulation, the attraction, the connection. Yet, every bone in my body knew this was wrong. And I, went with the flow.

And there began the most twisted, toxic “relationship” there ever was. You could tell that he was using me; somewhere in the deepest part of my soul even I knew he was using me. But the heart, you know, is a strange thing. Even when the mind is trying to be rational, the heart will reason the opposite.

My mind told me, have you gone nuts? How can you not see how he is ruining you? My heart answered, get lost, mind! I know I can fix him, I know that if I show him more love, he will surely love me the way I love him.

My friends would call me, but I would not answer the phone – what if “the boyfriend” called and the line was engaged? I would not be able to speak to him! My friends would want to take me out for dinner, but I would not go. What if “the boyfriend” wanted to have dinner – I would not be able to spend time with him.

And that was just the beginning.

There was a time when he got a little too friendly with another girl. She’s just a friend, he would insist, but would spend hours with her.  I was slowly going insane.

After a year of this madness, my friends slowly stopped calling me.  And the list of “friends” (girls) in “the boyfriend’s” list slowly increased. And yet, I stuck around, thinking it will get better, it will turn around for the better.

It only got worse. This was year number three.

One night, I took him out to dinner. I mustered up all my courage to say, listen, this is not working out. I can’t take this anymore. His response to that was, okay. That’s it.

That “okay” was, I believe, one of the most cruel things anyone has ever told me in my life. Somewhere in my heart, I expected he would stop me, ask me why I was saying these things, repent, change. No, not really.

However, from then onward, began my journey of healing. I actually went through the 5 stages of grief that most psychologists talk about.

It started with denial, of course. I told myself, he couldn’t live without me. He’ll be back. He didn’t come back.

The next phase was anger – a better word to use here is rage. I have never felt more contempt, more disgust, more vengeful for anyone else in my life.

After that came bargaining – all the prayers, the requests to God and to him, didn’t work either.

Then came the longest phase of this healing process – the depression. I was depressed for more than a year. The joy and laughter had gone away from my life (it had actually gone much earlier, but this was the clincher).

By the time the last phase of the process came about, the acceptance bit, I began to find myself again. I began to love my single life. My friends, the sweetest people that they are, returned, and were so glad I gave up the filth in my life.

It was around that time – after two years of healing – that my now brother-in-law introduced me to Rohan, a man who would change the course of my life again, this time for the best. Here is the account of that tale.

Whenever I counsel anyone today, I can totally empathise with them – especially when a heartbreak is involved. I don’t know why God made me go through that pain and suffering for almost 4 years – but is it possible that God made me go through all that, just so I can help other young people through their pain? I’d like to think of that as a possibility. And I thank Him for that.

Through this experience, I have learned many lessons. Here are the most important ones:

  • Trust your innermost being, and what it tells you. This is probably God trying to warn you about the pain you are about to endure.
  • Trust your friends – if all of them have the same judgment about someone, it is possible that they are right.
  • Trust his/her words/actions – believe me, if it not for real, it will show in their actions. Does he/she seem far away even though he/she is in front of you? If the answer is yes, and yes all the time, then it is quite possible that this is not meant to be.
  • Don’t give up. A failed relationship need not be the end. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Things WILL look up, for sure. Trust in God.

I find it so easy to share my past with the world today, because of the loving husband God has given me. As I write this, he read the first draft and said, this is heartfelt, I am sure people will connect with this story.

Don’t think heartbreak is the end of your life – if love gives meaning to life, heartbreak gives the lessons.

Time to embrace both.

THE QUESTION IS, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR INDIA?

Gone are the days to only expect someone else to do something — today you, yes you my friend, are called to make a change in India. The question is, will you rise up to the challenge?

 You may ask me – what can I do, I am a simple citizen of this country.

True, I tell you. True, you are just one citizen. True, there are so many problems in this country that you may think you are miniscule.

But let me tell you this – India has not needed people like you to make a change before.  And this Republic Day, such a proud day for our country – a day when we made our mark in the world map.  Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of gentlemen such as Dr Ambedkar and his team, we got our constitution and became a Republic.

Of course, we have not forgotten – but all that is history – the tales of sacrifice and service seem like a distant memory.  We are the golden generation of Indian history – living during a time when India is indeed the fastest growing economy. Today our culture, our business is spreading far and wide.

We, who live in the cities, live in this golden bubble of wealth and grandeur. Our daily discussions with our families revolve around which movie to watch, or which new restaurant to try.  We complain about the colour of paint in our homes, and save up to buy second (and third) cars.

Do we wonder about what is happening elsewhere in the country? Even in our own cities? Does anyone care? Well, these guys did.

Let’s talk about Sunitha Krishnan. And let’s talk about sex abuse and slavery. If sex slavery does not move you to tears, nothing will. Young children, girls, promised jobs in big cities, are snatched away from their parents (sometimes even sold by parents) and pushed into the prostitution business.

Sunitha Krishnan was in the news when unknown assailants vandalized her car. Why? She was protesting against a gangrape case, a clip of which went viral on social media. She was looking for the rapists, whose shameless faces were caught on camera. She appealed to the people of India to identify these men, so that action could be taken against them. Putting her own safety at risk, Sunitha singularly battles rapists, pimps and traffickers on a daily basis.

Take a look at her TED talk (Warning: Graphic images of abuse):

Now, let’s talk about climate change and rapid disappearance of forests. Can you do something about it? Well, this man did! Environment activist Jadav Payeng loved his little island in Assam so much, and was so affected when he saw the trees disappearing because of floods and deforestation, that he decided to do something about it. This man singularly spent 40 years growing trees on 440 hectares of land. Today his forest is flourishing – so much so, that the birds and animals that were long gone, are slowly returning.

Payeng was conferred with the Padma Shri award on the 25th of January 2015 in recognition of his service to society and the environment. We salute him and congratulate him for this recognition.

See his story here – it is moving to say the least:

How about sanitation – now? We keep hearing on the radio and television how the government wants to make more and more toilets, not just for the sake of sanitation and health – but also for privacy, especially for women.

There’s nothing you can do about this, you say? Let the government handle it, you say? Let me introduce you to the ‘Poop Guy’. Meet Swapnil Chaturvedi, a man who left his cushy job in the US, and returned to his country with only one mission – to build toilets for the urban poor.

See his inspiring story here:

Speaking of sanitation, all you women, having a sanitary napkin is as normal for you as sugar in your tea. You probably have one in your purse right now. But have you once stopped to think of all those women who cannot afford one – for whom a sanitary napkin is luxury? These women have to use extremely unhygienic cloth during ‘that time of the month’.

Meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, who, in a bid to impress his wife, started a revolution in India when he created a cheap sanitary napkin by himself. This sanitary napkin now is being used by thousands of women across the country.

This is his story:

Now, think to yourself, how many times have you thrown your trash out of the car, or on the side of the road. Do we stop to think about how ugly it looks, do we think of the next person who walks by and also throws some more trash, until it becomes a huge mound of trash? Then we complain that the government is not doing anything? Do we recognize that we could have been the first one to throw it?

These college kids from Mumbai decided enough was enough. They had enough of their beloved train station turning into a garbage dump. So they decided to act – themselves.

Take a look:

A true act of community service, we should be proud of these kids – who, in their act of service, inspired the people there to take up the broom and do their bit too.

And finally, let’s come back to human trafficking – THE most despicable act that can be done with human hands. Aaboo Verghese and his NGO Purnata, are working day and night, collaborating with the police, lawyers, other NGOs and rehabilitation centres, to cut this evil from its very source. As he mentions in the video below, the task can get very overwhelming most of the times, but he is determined to do his part, and we salute him for that.

This video is an eye-opener for all those who don’t know much about how trafficking takes place. Take a look:

On Tuesday, we will celebrate our glory as a country – we will celebrate our greatness – the French President Francois Hollande will be there as the chief guest and will witness the parade. All that is great – it is good to feel good about our country.

But this Republic Day, let us be burdened to do something, anything – it is time to give back to our country.

Author Bio:  Khristina Jacob, works as a Writer & Editor.

Are you losing your cool too quickly?

for website INTOLERANCE

I must admit – reading the daily paper these days, or in my case, my news feed, is not a very calming experience. On one hand, you get to hear tales of love and sacrifice and on the other, you have hate and violence.

Consider the following news story:

Actress Neha Dhupia made a comment about  Narendra Modi over a monsoon issue in Mumbai on Twitter. She suffered a backlash from the Twitter world, in what many would call, the worst form of trolling (meaning being nasty on account of anonymity) that the Indian internet is witnessing, ever. She was called horrible names and was bitterly made fun of. And she was not the only one — Shruti Seth, another lesser known actress and TV presenter also faced similar backlash when she made a negative comment about the Prime Minister.

I think you see where I am going with this.

You know, writing long commentaries or giving eloquent speeches on tolerance is no way to explain how exactly it works.

Unfortunately, gone are the days of the Mahatma, where he said, “I have no message to give except this that there is no deliverance for any people on this earth or for all the people of this earth except through truth and non-violence in every walk of life without any exceptions.”

When I read this line, the first thought that came to my mind is, “Wow, it can’t get any clearer than that.” What an absolute statement to make. No margin for error or misunderstanding.

And yet, what we see today is, “An eye for an eye; and a tooth for a tooth.”

I wonder why people are so angry today – Angry and upset and frustrated and intolerant. Do you see how all of these negative emotions are so intrinsic to one another?

In the good old days, we walked out of our homes, and into the homes of our neighbours. We spoke to strangers, had meals with acquaintances. We had real conversations.

And what do you have now? The “Edit” button. In a virtual world, you can be the meanest version of yourself, without anyone ever having to know your true identity. Is that why people are surfacing their inner demons because they don’t have to worry about the repercussions?

Violence need not be physical, folks. Violence starts in the heart, and comes out of your mouth. But in our day and age, violence and intolerance are manifesting themselves through the online medium.

Today, having real conversations with people is becoming tougher. Why? That is because the response cannot be predicted, in order to prepare for the next sentence. In an online world, you can think about what you want to say, frame your sentence, edit it if necessary, and then send as per your convenience. Can you do that face to face? No!

But what are you losing from this process? You are losing the human touch. The intrinsic human need to bond with another, to blend with another, to connect to another.

You will be surprised to know how many people today are lonely, depressed and suicidal.

People are lonely, and yet are so glued into their mobile phones and laptops, wondering whether their 200 plus friends “like” their latest photo or not; that they cannot see beyond it, see the real world.

I should get back to my original headline here, Are you losing your cool too quickly?

What have we gotten ourselves into, folks?

Author Bio:  Khristina Jacob, works as a Writer & Editor.

THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF ADVENTURE AND ROUTINE

The perfect combo of adv n rout

 “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.”

Oh, what a deep thought, you may respond. But, if I may, this line by bestselling author Paulo Coelho is, to put it mildly, incorrect.

Let me explain.

Just the other morning, my husband and I were enjoying our regular morning cup of chai, when suddenly out of nowhere; this beautiful little black bird with a red chest came and sat on our balcony grill. We both froze, didn’t move a muscle; the bird sat there for a few seconds, looked around and flew off.

Bird-watching is clearly not our “thing” – nor do we have a strong affinity to birds in general. But that morning, we both had such wide smiles that continued all day.

Why? It is simply because adventure and routine are not separate from each other; they intermingle and blend with each other to make yours and my life beautiful.

My little niece, who lives in Hong Kong, came down to visit. We were invited to a wedding that day, and the little toddler was understandably feeling a little out of place. She moped around for a bit, and even got a stern stare from her mother, when suddenly, she screamed in glee, “Mommy, look, look, it’s a butterfly.” And then there was no stopping her. The slow drag of her feet was transformed into a joyful prance. She followed the butterfly, made a couple of attempts to catch it; she was having so much fun.

It started off mundane, yes, but then, it was Hello Adventure!

What is so lethal about routine after all? It is the inability to enjoy the little adventures that come our way, isn’t it?

Let me give you another example. I can share so many here, but I would like to hear from you.

This happened a few months ago. It was one of the slowest moving days at work. Same old job, same old desk – and my colleagues and I were visibly in low spirits. I am not sure what a senior colleague of mine was thinking, but he quietly slipped out and when he returned, he had a huge box of cupcakes for all of us. We all were overjoyed as we took a break to enjoy it. Our boss joined us too. We chatted about our lives, our work; and realised how happy we were at our workplaces. Now back at that same old desk, same old job, there was a new meaning, and a new adventure had just begun.

It is simple folks; routine is not lethal; because routine does not stand alone. Just like two sides of a coin, routine and adventure walk hand in hand.

When was the last time you allowed adventure to cross paths with your routine? Tell me about it.

After all, you are allowing a little adventure into your routine as you speak!

Author Bio:  Khristina Jacob, works as a Writer & Editor.