Here begins another week with some fresh brews from Candles Online!!

It is always a good exercise for the brain to make space for new additions to the existing stockpile of vocabulary (applies to all languages). So, this week we’ll be sharing new English words or phrases or expressions that we (the team of writers) have come across in recent times. It’s a week of learning together as readers and as writers, as in all other weeks of course!

I came across this expression which was a lockdown to-do-suggestion for people (especially ladies) confined to the home space during these Covid-19 times.

Skin fasting

Yes, this is the expression I’m referring to. May be some of you know it already, but it was new for me the first time I came across it.

We normally associate fasting with food, especially for religious purposes across cultures and countries. So, I was intrigued by this expression ‘skin fasting’ and dug up a bit on it. Let me share what it means.

‘Skin fasting’ basically means leaving your skin natural with absolutely no make-up or skin care products on it for some time. No face packs, face masks, exfoliants, moisturizers,  sun screen lotions, Grandma’s beauty essentials or make ups!

What does one achieve by Skin fasting?

Skin fasting helps detoxify the skin and allows the skin to undergo a natural maintenance process sans all the skin care and make-up ‘essentials’ it has become dependent on overtime. It makes sense to allow the skin to breathe, after all don’t our nostrils ache for fresh air in the midst of air pollution! So does the skin.

Do not clog the pores of your skin by layers of chemical (or organic) beautifiers for a week (or more) as you spend time indoors (for those of you who actually are) and treat your skin to a week of skin fasting.

I believe it’ll help you know your health as well. Many times we mask our looks to appear presentable, but shut our ears to the calls of the body either to drink more water or to add some essential nutrients to our diet or even to give up some dietary inclusions.

Taking care of the skin that God has blessed us with is very important, rather than merely looking for ways to beautify it.

Let’s do it!

Let me know in the Comments section if you knew this expression already or it’s a new introduction for you as it has been for me (at least I’ll know how much or less à la mode I am) 🙂 



When little Mercy was not allowed to enter the kitchen or step out of doors without either of her parents accompanying her, she felt caged. A precocious child with just six years of experience on planet earth, she failed to understand why her ‘freedom’ was curtailed. She shared with her Diary Pal how she wished to be free!

Neha was a new bride. Transition from a nuclear family of four to an extended household of twelve hasn’t been easy for her. With the burden of household work and practically no me-time, she wished she could be free.

Jimmy hated his schedule. Wake up early in the morning and exercise before school, heaps of assignments to complete after school, tuitions for helping raise his grades that have been spiraling downwards of late, prepare for periodic tests and sleep off. No time to play or watch TV. To top it all, his mobile has been confiscated by his well-meaning father. At fourteen, Jimmy craves for freedom.

We all have such Mercys, Nehas and Jimmys within us and around us. Oh to have the wings of a bird and fly freely in the sky! But, how do we respond when given such freedom? Freedom is treasured by those who know its worth. It is misused by people who do not value it.

In this article, I’ll focus on the flip side of freedom in relationships.

1. Taken for granted – Shackles are mere objects as many others that one sees around, unless used to bind a person. A shackled person knows the value of freedom like no other. For a person who has never been shackled, freedom doesn’t connote much. As a result there is not much accountability for overt behaviour – be it words or actions. Bonded labourers in faraway lands, treasure freedom when released because once upon a time their freedom was highly elusive. Freedom in relationships is often misused when it is taken for granted. Every relationship is governed by certain unspoken rules of life (besides the clearly charted out ones). These territories of unspoken jurisdiction are the ones which are taken for granted.

The very next day of marriage, the husband decides to make two cups of morning tea for himself and his new bride. This morning routine goes on for days, after which comes a day that he is taken sick. Now if the wife comes back from her morning walk and throws tantrums on not getting her cup of tea, this is precisely a ‘taken for granted’ attitude. Doesn’t this happen often?

2. Lies and Deceit – When freedom comes easy, lies and deceit creep in subtly untaught. Often such lying and deceit go unnoticed till there is a full-blown problem at hand.

A child is given INR 100 to buy certain essentials that the mother requires. On returning, he gives the account of the amount spent and says that he has dropped the remaining amount in the donation box kept in the shop to help an NGO that takes care of orphans. He scores brownie points before his mother for his act of compassion, while in reality he has pocketed the change as a saving for his piggy bank. Another young girl permitted by her parents to spend a night to study with her female friend just before exams, sneaks out to spend the night in her boyfriend’s apartment.

3. Indulgence – Well, this is essentially a foot in the door technique! A little freedom initially emboldens one for more freedom either with permission or with coercion and compulsion. This is a common predicament of the parents of many teenagers, among others. Let me cite a true incident of a young couple who had come to me for Counseling.

A lovestruck couple married young, when both were 21 years of age. After the initial craze of being with each other wore off, the husband felt that he didn’t want to be tied down. He wanted to spend time with his friends (who were of course still studying in college!). The thoughtful wife didn’t throw any tantrums and let her husband have some free time without her. Gradually, those one or two hours of being with friends increased to whole evenings and at times even to night outs, thus annoying the wife. They celebrated their first marriage anniversary with a newborn in their arms. Still the husband’s evening outings and night outs continued. They had their second child two years later. Yet, no change in the young husband’s behaviour and a resultant friction between the couple! A little well-intended freedom created enough room for irresponsible behaviour.

4. Indiscipline – High levels of permissiveness leave no room for accountability. Hence, certain behavioural patterns ensue, sans accountability. Lets consider the common sleep-wake schedules. Without the help of an alarm or a loved one to wake up, most people would end up waking at mid-day. And without a self-check or being prodded by someone to go to bed on time, most people would end up sleeping earlier or later than required and thus would have a chaotic next day at work. Perks of limitless freedom!

In parenting, permissiveness is known for very few guidelines and rules coupled with fulfilling of all the demands of children sans accountability. Thus, children of permissive parents end up exhibiting the same behaviour as adults in their personal relationships and at their workplaces. A couple who have the laissez-faire approach to life are likely to end up with deep resentment for each other within a short span of time simply because their freedom has created inroads to several unwanted guests like anger, jealousy, lack of schedule, etc.

The above four discussed ways of misusing freedom do not in anyway advocate against freedom in relationships. Freedom with responsibility is the freedom that is enjoyed best. Freedom sans boundaries leaves the gateway open for several intruders to invade into our lives and create unwanted pandemonium. After all, not all things that are permissible are beneficial.

The Bible says –

“I have the right to do anything . . . but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything . . . but not everything is constructive.”


Ever clung to that old rugged jacket of yours every year when it was time for the annual disposal of ‘things you know you would never use again’? Or an old pair of shoes or that grand old wristwatch of years before?

You are not alone!

Yes, most of us are attached to things in our lives that we don’t wish to part with. Though the phenomenon of attachment as such starts from the pre-natal stage itself (attachment with the mother), in this article I am focussing on attachment with inanimate objects.

Many of us wouldn’t have paid a serious thought to this aspect of our lives. Maybe we have considered it too casual to spare a thought about it. But, actions spell more than mere overt behaviour.

Let’s explore some of the reasons for attachment to inanimate objects.

Memories – I treasure things that I receive from people, irrespective of how low or how high the price tag may read. Those things may be mere showpieces or objects of utility. And, I have a tough time discarding such things after a while. Even things like bookmarks, calendars, those small handmade greeting cards exchanged in school days – are my treasures. They bring a smile to my face. The reason why I consider them priceless and of more value than expensive or branded stuff is the memory of the person or situation attached to it.

On my study table sits a table-clock worth INR 30. It was gifted on my birthday almost twelve to thirteen years ago during my undergraduate studies by a  batchmate. It is precious to me! The reason being that the giver came from a not-so-well-off economic background where even sparing INR 30 would have meant that she cut some of her personal expenses. Though I have the means to buy a better-looking table-clock to adorn my table, I won’t be going in for a replacement.

Memories make us hold on to things. Letting go of certain things would mean discarding the memories attached to them.

Emotions – Inanimate objects, though lack the ability to elicit emotions, have emotions attached with them. This is probably why the first thing that most couples do after a break-up is to return the gifts received during the phase of a relationship. Certain objects make us cry, while certain others make us laugh. For some people, there are things that remind them of an injustice done and so they seem to have a sense of attachment to such objects to keep alive the emotions associated with the wrongdoing.

Security – We must have come across children holding onto their stuffed toys while sleeping. Some children carry their toys with them at all points of time. For children, this attachment is a sense of security. Though all children show this behaviour, it is seen more in children belonging to single-parent families, families where both parents are employed and are not able to spend much time with their children, families having an air of tension at all times and in autistic children. Attachment to a toy or a pillow gives a sense of comfort and security to the tender minds. However, if such a thing is observed in adults, it’s time for therapeutic intervention.

Obsession – Obsessive attachment means showing an irrational fondness for an object. Obsession over things leads to mindless hoarding – especially when there are multiple things that one is obsessed about. Obsessive attachment with things goes beyond a simple desire to possess. It is a subtle indicator of an underlying trait of selfishness, covetousness and a desire to flaunt. If any possession of yours is lying unused completely out of the radar of your memory for more than five years, it’s time for you to let go of it. If you have not remembered it being with you all five years, means there are less chances that you actually need it.

Attachment for inanimate things may be because of any reason. But, the bottom line is that there is an earthly tug in most of us. Knowing and reminding ourselves that all matter is transitory and that we humans are mere sojourners on planet earth is something that would help us shed the pull of material attachment to things and turn our focus to concerns of a higher order.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” – The Bible



Little Betsy went with her grandfather to the orchard one holiday. As she looked up in awe at the tall strong trees hovering all around, she expressed her wish to plant a tree in her name which would be exclusively hers. Her grandpa smiled and said, “Sweetheart, you don’t plant a tree. You plant a seed or a tender sapling which in the course of many years of sun, rain and hail grows up sturdy into a tree like one of these.”

The virtue of Patience is best tested in situations provoking impatience.

One statement which quite a few first-time moms often make about their baby is, “How I wish s/he grows up soon!” You would know it, if you’ve been there!!

Students wish for disciplined school days to be over soon so that they can experience the liberty of the colourful college days!

A couple in love wish they could seal their courtship in marriage without having to wait any further.

An ailing bed-ridden man wishes his days of suffering would cease soon.

In such and many other ways, all of us wish we never had to wait for something that we desire. However, whether we want to or not, we all have our seasons of waiting.

When we wait with calmness of mind and spirit to let the opportune time arrive, all the while trusting that God Almighty is in control, we learn and acquire the virtue of Patience. But when we fume and fret during the phase of waiting, blaming people, situations or God for the delay, we fail to have an audience with Patience.

Waiting requires Patience as its companion. Patience doesn’t announce its arrival. But as the phase of waiting is over, Patience leaves its seal behind.


We often say – ‘Sweet is the fruit of patience.’ However, this is not always so.

I heard of a couple recently who were without a child even after many years of marriage. When the lady conceived after more than ten years, their joy was unexplainable. They had waited prayerfully and patiently all these years. The lady went into labour while in her eighth month. Alas! She delivered a stillborn baby. This suffering was more severe than the pain of not having a child for more than a decade.

Can we exclaim confidently in such a circumstance – ‘Sweet is the fruit of Patience?’

A young father of a two-year old was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 33. He kept his hopes strong even as he underwent sessions of chemotherapy. He posted several vlogs giving honest updates about his health condition and encouraging all to keep praying for him patiently with faith. His wife waited patiently for God to intervene never losing her calmness. Everything came to an end when he breathed his last at the age of 34, last year.

Here again, can we exclaim boldly – ‘Sweet is the fruit of Patience?’

It’s tough.

Yet, it’s a necessary virtue.


Let’s weigh the odds.

What do we gain when we are patient?

The biggest gain is peace – peace of mind and peace in the surrounding. Being peaceful ensures that we can handle our tasks with greater competence and ease – be it regarding the person/circumstance provoking impatience or other tasks during that testing phase. Patience leads to acquiring another remarkable virtue – perseverance – which is a higher form of patience. Patience generates hope and hope, it is said, springs eternal in the human breast.

What do we lose when we are patient?

We may lose time owing to inaction. But, any action or reaction done/shown in haste carries with it a possibility of regret. We may lose face before others, who may think that we are not courageous/wise/skilled enough to act/respond. I guess the list end here – we don’t have much to lose when we are patient.

So, why not strive to be patient!  


When I come across people who really put me through tough tests of patience, I consciously bring to my mind how patient God is with me. Being perfect and holy, when He sees me falling short of His standards, again and again, seeking forgiveness yet stumbling again – He doesn’t deal with me as my sins deserve. He is patiently working on my transformation. If the God of the universe is so patient with me, who am I to be impatient with a fellow human being?

Patience is a divine virtue. It cannot be acquired simply by sheer willpower, meditation or motivation. Since Patience is one of the important attributes of God’s character, He alone can embed this attribute into our spirits. It may sound vague and too abstract for some, but you would know it if you tap into this resource.

I make it a constant point of prayer for God to help develop this attribute of His nature within me which would enable me to reflect Him in tough situations and amidst tough people.

And yes, nature. Right from a tiny seed/sapling growing into a tree to a caterpillar metamorphosing into a pretty butterfly, the created nature gives marvellous lessons on patient waiting.

As I write this article, I can hear my sister in the kitchen telling the microwave oven to cook the bowl of Maggie Noodles that she has just put inside, within a second, without making her wait unto starvation!! Patience!!


Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity of attending several lectures on ‘Good Governance and Corruption’. The learned speakers delivered brilliant talks on these issues, citing numerous instances from the world over as to how seemingly all-pervasive is the cancer of corruption. Acts, Laws, Rules, Regulatory and Supervisory bodies – all in place, but no solution. Each of the speakers was asked this question – ‘How can we get rid of corruption?’

The answers they gave were similar –

Inner attitude has to change.

There has to be a change within!

Be it in any part of the world, certain values are imparted to all from childhood so that they learn to internalize them and live by them as they grow. Some values are deliberately taught, while some others are picked up from observation. However, this does not lead us to conclude that values are not inherited.

The role of genes in the transmission of values is significant. Genes are the carriers of values, the very same way as they carry certain physical or psychological attributes from parents to children.

However, genes are not the sole kings!

The values we have today are the products of the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. And, it is case-specific as to whether the environmental factors or factors of inheritance, have an upper hand.

Recently, I heard of two sisters in their late teens. Their father is an alcoholic and without any employment. Their mother does odd jobs to somehow help the family pull along. The environment that the two girls are exposed to is highly non-conducive to the development of sound values. All they get to see and hear is their drunk father hurling abuses at their mother and them. Despite such an environment, these two girls are extremely well-mannered, helpful, reliable and excel in their studies.

How did these traits develop?

There may have been other external influences (teachers, society, friends) who have impacted the two girls. They may have had the inner determination to rise above their circumstances. I heard some people say – ‘How on earth these two sisters are so good?’

Second case in point –

The son of a highly respected official was arrested for the rape and murder of a young girl. He absconded for years together, settled elsewhere using fake identities, but was eventually nabbed a few months before. His family which was once considered to be disciplined and having high ideals, was shattered.

How did this son imbibe such qualities?

It may not be easy to give a precise answer.

My grandfather was a man of high principles. In his memorial service, many people young and old shared how they had observed his traits of being God-fearing, extremely disciplined, non-compromising, straightforward, impartial, truthful and loyal. Some values which he has taught me are –

Always walk your path in the fear of the Lord; and fear no man. Man cannot destroy your soul.

Always be truthful. It may make you uncomfortable at times, but you will be on the safe side. But if you lie, you are digging a pit for yourself into which you will fall sooner or later.

If God has given you the means, give to the needy; don’t stack up things for yourself.

Besides these, some values which I have picked up from him are the values of being meticulous in his work, punctuality and cleanliness. He was never late to any place and didn’t keep anyone waiting without reason. He was a cleanliness freak; but didn’t go around ordering people to clean up any mess that would be around. He would start clearing the mess himself.

Consciously and subconsciously, I have imbibed many of these values. Genes, yes, would have a role to play for sure. But, I can vouch for what I learned by being taught and by observation.

How we are is being observed by others – both those who are close to us and those who don’t mean much to us. What we are teaching others would impact not only those individuals, but also a few more generations. So, in a way we regulate the genes by possessing certain values. Afterall, these genes would be transmitted to our offsprings. And, we are also in control of the lessons we teach. Apart from the self-concept that is unique to each individual, what is taught and what is inherited shapes a person.

The Bible says –

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

The onus lies on us!


The silent tears of a heart torn apart often stir the soul than many an uttered word.

Ever observed the tear of a mother sending her son into the Armed Forces to safeguard the nation – proud, yet fearful? Ever observed the tear of a young widow by the casket of her beloved husband, her world ripped apart? Ever observed the tears of a sick and ailing helpless man unable to fend for himself or his family – wallowing in abject poverty? Ever observed the tears that wet the pillows of lovers unable to break societal barriers and bring their love to its desired destination?

The welcome tears of the cry that tear across the din of the hospital wards and the anxious hearts of to-be-parents and relatives, marks the beginning of our tryst with tears. And life’s unending travails make sure that the lacrimal gland functions to its optimum potential amidst situations both joyful and sad.

It is a hard heart that doesn’t shed a tear when the circumstance so demands. ‘Boys don’t cry’ is the opinion of a culture that shuts the doorway of normal expression of intense feelings, so much so that generations become insensitive and rigid to their own biological make-up. And such a thought makes ‘cry-babies’ of girls/women, who give vent to their emotions through harmless streams of tears.

I once heard someone say – ‘Men are men only if they are aggressive; and women are women only when they know how to cry’. I pity the lack of understanding of human emotions this person had! Men of character, all through history are men who have known how to shed a tear. The inability to shed tears is not a test of manliness!

Without getting into gender battles on this ground, it is the need of the hour to be sensitive and sensitize each one to the tears of others.

Tear down the dogmas that bring tears in the eyes of others. Sometime back, I watched a horrific video of some upper caste women stripping two lower caste women naked in front of fellow villagers, tying their hair to each other’s and kicking them. The crime? The two women had taken water from the place belonging to the upper caste people because there was no water in their area! Broods of brutes were watching and filming the episode, but for a long time no one had the sense and sensitivity to step in and raise their voices, till the authorities were informed. The tears of the two women had no effect on the crowd! How those two women sighed later that – dying of thirst would have perhaps been more honourable than quenching our thirst at the cost of such humiliation which is worse than death itself! If your dogmas cause misery to others and bring painful tears to their eyes, tear down those dogmas.

Tear across dividing lines to spring open oases of joy in parched hearts. Nothing ever can stop you from making your way into human hearts that yearn for showers of love, care and tenderness. All that is needed is the desire to look beyond – to look beyond ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ and ‘mine’. Wipe someone’s tears before you think about yours. Provide for someone before you worry about your wants. Look for opportunities, look for aching hearts, look for ailing people, look for lonely ones – and you’ll be surprised how less painful your aches will be and how less lonely you will feel. Sensitize yourself to look beyond the dividing lines – to venture into less trodden territories.

Let’s do our bit. Will my sensitivity change the world? It may not. But, tiny drops of water make mighty oceans. The ripple effect which your and my sensitivity will create will help wipe the tears from many eyes. We cannot create heaven on earth, though our hearts so much long for it. However till we experience heaven in reality, let us open its gateway for ourselves and for others in planet earth.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – The Bible

This is the promise of Heaven!



Just as I sit to write this article, there was a potential stimulus to cause an emotional tension within me. A colleague had posted an obscene video in my workplace WhatsApp group. I had seen the hazy image and realized that it had inappropriate content. So, I decided not to download / view it. With peace still reigning in my mind, I continued with my other daily chores. Meanwhile, other colleagues began viewing it and were enraged at the person who had posted such a video in what is meant to be an official forum. And, as you would expect there was fiery exchange of words in the group. The colleague who had posted the video, pleaded innocence saying that it got posted by mistake. Some colleagues left the group. And the saga is still continuing as I write this article.

My purpose of sharing the above incident is to give a peek into how even small actions or words can pose as strains or stressors in our lives and drain us. Imagine beginning a day with such a video! Now, I trace my steps back and put myself in the place where I first saw the video in the group. What would have happened had I not seen the hazy image and would have decided to view it? Firstly, I would have been emotionally disturbed (as I gather from the comments of others in the group that it was highly sexually explicit). Next, I would have harboured a very negative impression about the person who posted it. Ultimately, it would have disturbed my mental peace. It would have continued to linger in my mind for several days and so on the responses would have continued.

That’s about me. However, there would be people who would have enjoyed such a video. There are people who sure begin their day with such content and spend most of their leisure time viewing such content. For them it is not emotionally draining, rather it is emotionally pleasurable – a stress-reliever.

It is then very clear that what is emotionally draining for one, may not be so for others. To give examples – one person may love shopping, while for another it may be physically and emotionally draining. One person may feel cooking to be a good stress-buster, whereas for another it may be a strainer.

And yes, not only do work, sickness, death of a loved one, divorce, disappointment, failure and the like, emotionally drain a person, but also events like a wedding, celebrating a festival, visiting a friend, a kitty party can be equally draining.

Richard Lazarus, a psychologist who has done commendable work in the area of ‘stress and strain’ is of the opinion that there are two ways to cause emotional strain in a person – exposure to certain stimuli present in the environment and the response of the individual to it. Some of the common hassles that drain people emotionally all over the world are – issues of appearance (weight, height and looks), health of family members, rising price of common goods, too many things to do in a short time, tax payments, misplacing or losing things, children’s education, a non-responsive spouse, loss of employment, a dip in the business, a house full of guests, truant/rebellious children, personal disorganization, frequent job transfers, shifting houses frequently, etc.

How then do we handle such emotionally stressful and draining events?

We all have certain triggers in our lives that drain us to the core…so much so that, all we need later is to be left alone for a while. However, since the triggers are different for different people there cannot be a one-size-fits-all remedy. A few general measures that can be taken –

  1. Stay away from the company of people whom you have identified to be stressors in your life. But what do you do, if your spouse/your children fall into that category? Identify what triggers them. Talk them into handling those situations better and show them reason as to how they can make theirs and others lives better by managing those little triggers in their lives.
  2.  Avoid situations that drain you. But what if your workplace stains you? Quitting your job is not the solution (unless of course it is too intolerable). What if your workplace is your stress-buster and your home is where you feel drained out? Leaving home is never an option. Effective management of people and chores at home would lessen the pressure.
  3. Take care of your health. Your health is God’s gift to you. Choose to eat healthy foods, drink healthy fluids, sleep enough and exercise well. A healthy body ensures a healthy mind. Too much toxins in the body and lack of sleep generate irritation and frustration easily.
  4. Spend time alone in the lap of nature. Gazing at the starry sky, listening to the chirping of birds, watching butterflies flutter from flower to flower, lying down on a grassy lawn are wonderful stress busters. If there is absolutely no way in which you can escape to such places periodically, take to gardening. If you don’t have a patch of land, buy some potted plants and care for them daily. You’ll soon notice the difference.
  5. Be alone with God – Pray. The Bible says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you.” No matter what is the draining factor in your life, take it to God. It may be something big and impossible or it may be a petty matter, God can and will help you manage it better if you take it to Him.
  6. Don’t escape emotionally draining situations; find ways of handling them. Avoidance is never the answer. That’s because, how many times can you avoid such a situation? And what would you do each time it recurs? So, a better strategy is to find out ways to tackle such situations.

The above list is not exhaustive, but the space surely is. As we deal with emotionally draining situations, it is also wise to identify in what ways do our words or actions drain others. Intentionally or otherwise are we causing stress in others’ lives? Let’s be mindful and make the necessary amends.