I Truly Believe In Love

When I was in college (graduation 3rd year), I read two books as a part of our syllabus – The Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Both are great works. Human relations, follies, expectations, insecurities, vulnerabilities – mainstay of these works. Me being a romantic to the core person was swept off my feet by beautiful portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy – the protagonists of “Pride & Prejudice”. Elizabeth, a strongly opinionated, free spirited , well read, beautiful and a charismatic girl. Her beauty was not only what was obvious but her refusal to let herself to be treated as doormat added to her aura. Despite of not having grand fortune and unfortunately quite a few annoying pompous characters in her family she never let herself to act or sound vulnerable. Meekness or submission wasn’t her. She represented grace. On the other hand Mr.Darcy was rich by leaps and bounds. Was as opinionated as his female counterpart was but the natural flair of talking easily to people wasn’t his forte. His stoic silence made him look haughty. His reserved nature was often mistaken for being too proud to mingle. But as the story proceeds the layers over his character get unveiled, making him a desirable life partner for every girl. Ok, I will be honest with you all – I really wished to have a Darcy in my life – handsome, even more handsomely rich and to enhance every other quality that he possessed – sensible & madly in love with a person to go to any extent.

It was their chemistry that kept me hooked. Left me happily teary eyed everytime I finished the book. I actually lost count of number of times I have read this book (haven’t yet counted the number of views I have paid to the series). It is no less than a fairy tale following the suit where poor girl meets rich boy, they get married and happily live ever after. It is more closer to the real lives where a union of two people isn’t devoid of involvement of families and friends. Superiority complex of affluent ones, misunderstandings – both of words & silence, expectations tied to engagements, pride invested in qualities (materialistic and otherwise) one possess, prejudiced opinions one forms of the other and how finally love finds it’s way – we do find such elements in and around our lives, isn’t it? That’s why this fiction stood the test of the time.

My Draw: To be honest, whether I read or watch this work of art, majorly it’s an escapism to the rosy world of romance I adore. I simply cherish love stories. It hand overs to me a sense of happiness. But over the years it apart from happiness it gave me one important lesson – Pride about something – good or bad, inadvertently nurses prejudice. Let’s forget about the book and it’s characters for a moment. Let’s take an example from what’s around us. A man regular in his prayers and social work feels proud of his desirable ways of life. When he sees another person who is not very invested in regular prayers and social work isn’t a part of his regular proceedings of life, the former one immediately forms a prejudice about the later one about how wrong he is without knowing him fully, without having an awareness of his portion of struggles in life. It is very much happening all around us. No denial. So if you let pride rest for long in your head get ready for an add on guest – Prejudice, period!

Moving on from this story, have you ever thought what would be life of Elizabeth and Darcy when they enter their 60s? When romance blooms completely into love. Well, not sure of them but I came across a Indian regional movie that exactly defines what love and companionship is. The movie’s name is Mithunam, which means a couple. It’s in Telugu. The entire movie is about an elderly couple – Appa Dasu & Buchi Lakshmi, whose children have settled in different parts of the world. In the entirety of the film you will see only these two characters. It might seem to be a reel showcasing their daily mundane activities but the depth needs a heart to let it sink.

The first thing what I noticed after I finished watching this movie is it isn’t some unrelated, non relatable celebrities that can give us couple goals. If companionship has to be understood look at our grandparents, look at our parents. My own in-laws are together for 42 years now. Have seen lows and highs together. Being together is what mattered. And probably for the first time on celluloid I have seen where it wasn’t about the rose flowers but about the fragrance it spreads. It isn’t about the attraction during youth but affection in the dusk of the age. Where hero and heroine aren’t the glamorous hot shots but someone more identifiable and relatable with us. Completely in love with this movie.

What Mithunam taught me?

Many beautiful aspects have subtly touched upon in this movie that can make a life meaningful and joyful.

  • companionship means understanding the unannounced pain, doing your part without being vocal about it. There was a particular scene where the wife comes to know how her husband has been helping her best friend over the years to get her son educated after her husband has departed. Never once did he let her know about her friend’s ordeals.
  • Work your bodies and rest your mind. Movie beautifully depicted the mantra for a happy and healthy life. From growing vegetables, doing chores to even unconventional jobs repairing slippers like cobblers do, this movie also speaks about dignity of labour and self reliance though in a very nuanced manner.
  • For the first time I heard the concept of attachment and detachment in this movie. Our love shouldn’t turn into constant worry or impediment – for us or others. Live life as it comes – this is what Appa Dasu taught me.
  • At the end when Appa Dasu dies, Buchi Lakshmi cries her heart out and says “thank you God”. Don’t get her wrong, she opens up as she talks to herself “I was constantly worried what would happen to this man if I leave this abode before him, he is like a child who can’t take care of himself. Now my worries are put to rest”. Is this not true love considering the fact that in India dying as a married woman (before her husband) is considered good.

I can go on about this feel good movie, but surely there’s more this movie can give us. Available on youtube with subtitles, give it a try! These two works have strengthened my idea and belief in love. I may not have Darcy, but surely I want to grow old with my man and lead a content life ☺️.

Home & Body – Cleaner The Better

My entire childhood and teenage (till 18) was spent in a small single room with just partition walls to separate kitchen and bathroom (if presence of a gas stove and a commode makes them respectively what they are called). And the space available in the middle of the house was a convertible one. When plates were arranged it was our dining room and when mats were laid it was our bedroom. If guests arrived third chair would find it difficult to fit in forget about having a couch. And when it rained we had a personal pool right in middle of the house. With regular power cuts we spent innumerable nights under the star lit sky and water supply as good as probability of finding an oasis amidst a dessert.

Memories!!!! Those days were tough. Financial and physical hardships have toughened our mettle indeed. Our navigation through those tough waters was guided by a compass with two blades –

  • You have a roof at least over your head and a full stomach when you go to sleep.
  • Work hard for your betterment, stop complaining.

14 years later, in 2017 I moved into MY (OUR) own house. What a joy it was! The peace of having and living in an abode where you are sure no one will surprise ( read shock) you with an evacuation notice out of nowhere is surreal (conditions apply – regular EMI thy name ). Every hardship, every austerity measure in the past finally paid off.

But since we moved into an old property considering our budget constraints then our house needed lot of renovation. We recently got the heating system changed in the pursuit of having hassle free winters and also to add to the resale value of the house if at all in future we decide to do so.

Allegory came to mind: We all know what renovation means – lot of dust and dump to clean up. While I was at it, one thing stuck my mind – isn’t our body same like our home? While a structure made of bricks and mortar gives us shelter, another structure made up of flesh, bones, water and blood shelters our heart and soul. We take a lot of pain and make lot of efforts to keep our premises clean lest it won’t be presentable and hygienic too. Then why we behave negligently towards our body that is nothing less than a temple created by the greatest architect – The God.

Yes I can hear those voices “what are you talking about? We take utmost care of our hygiene and with Covid around we are not taking any chances whatsoever”. I would say ” you are doing great. But what about those who are maligning this temple with various addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs? What about those who are knowingly or unknowingly giving shelter to dacoits named ego, greed, jealously, lust, anger, pessimism in the compartment called heart that are corroding and robbing them of their sanity & peace and consequently Joy. These termites are blindfolding us and deviating from the path which everyone of us is destined to trend. The path they make us walk are ecstatic to begin with filled with fun and frolic but as the end approaches we

  • Clueless,
  • Corrupted morally and ethically,
  • Consumed by poison once we were consuming,
  • Crippled by illness, close to a painful death.

Get your Insurance done: Just like a house has insurance against any possible loss and damage due to theft, fire, water etc. Insurance for our joyful lives is HIS WORD, EMI being EP – everyday prayer. If you sign for a premium plan of “Please Enlighten Me” you shall surely be delivered from temporary hardships of falling prey to the vices and get a bonanza of eternal joy!

Points to be noted :

  • Respect your abode, be it house or body.
  • Keep them clean for health – physical, mental & spiritual.
  • Rent/EMI/Prayer – being regular is the key.

Just like a structure that we live in needs regular cleaning so does what lives in us needs a regular check.

From rented house to own- I had my fair share of experiences, hardships, memories and delightful moments. Now I have embarked on a journey to cleanse my temple – renovating my approach, dumping out the negativity. It’s hard and I am prone to falter but assurance of Joy of Enlightenment is my driving force.

MY SEARCH FOR A DIFFERENT SUCCESS

Few days back I was gliding through my LinkedIn page. One of my distant relative updated her status “promoted to the position of Director”. I was happy to see her succeed but in another moment started self introspection “what I am doing?” , ” Where I am standing?”, “Will I ever succeed in my life?”. Basically I was anxious about “will I ever be able to EARN?” A question that I am struggling for a longtime now.

But is it just about money? Answer is an absolute NO. It’s about my craving for Identity. My thoughts at that (on many occasions) point were convoluted. I want to earn, I want name for myself, I want financial independence. I kept applying for jobs. Many applications were rejected outright, few made for interview round but success still eluded me. It was not just the applications that were being rejected but a piece of self was slowly dying inside. One of the reasons that prompted me to start blogging was to put forth my opinions and earn (I am not ashamed of admitting that). Five years now and the kind of success I supposed it would fetch me is still a distant dream. Who and what shall be blamed? No one except me and nothing except my lack of regularity, missing niche (my work doesn’t stick to one genre).

Am I a complete failure? Last week my friend’s husband came to dinner (we are careful enough to follow the social bubble 😁). Out of nowhere he asked me “how’s your blogging going, seems you have a good fan following”. I dismissed him with a smile “No, nothing like that” . To this he told me that one of his friends sent him a link of one my blog (never before he read any of my articles) and praised it too. His friend liked the subtle manner of explanation, relatability of issues/situations mentioned. And as a matter of fact I never met or spoke to the “friend”. There was a certain sense of euphoria for me at that moment. That night I decided to once again go through the comments on my articles. That was the moment of realization for me. My success is not in the additional perks of followers, hits on site and money but how well I can connect to the people. How well I can communicate, how I can impact, how can I be a part of lives of those reading my words in some or the other way, how well I can motivate myself to reflect positivity in my work, Am I making any difference, Am I putting forth a good message relevant to people, Am I honest while voicing my opinions, Am I trending the path I talk about or refer to – My parameters of Success. Falling short of even one criteria renders me unsuccessful in my judgement! And I believe that’s the worse.

What inference my failures have given me? I was looking for “success” in the form of an offer letter, a designation and a certain amount credited every month to my bank account. What if I get them at this moment, would it put an end to my quest and thirst for “success”?. I might have been aiming for a higher pedestal everytime. Nothing wrong in that, absolutely. But what is wrong is getting bogged down if your plans and results aren’t in linear correlation. Wrong is deeming yourself to be worthless. Wrong is inability to draw inspiration from people and incidents showing us a different way and zest to live life as we are too consumed by a bubble we have created in our minds. In short wrong is inability to respect life and the designs almighty have for us ( I may be professionally unemployed because someone else might be more competent, qualified and in need – it’s that simple). And identity of a person is about the perception and ideologies one owns, can never be defined by a designation or job role. And people knowing me by my work irrespective of the level of fame (non existent 😁) I might have acquired is purely my Success!

I Have Decided My Path: I will keep writing, I have stories to tell, I have messages to deliver. In that process if I earn materialistic success I will receive that. In case not I have my own yardstick to measure success – Have I made you think? If yes I am SUCCESSFUL!!

BE DIFFERENT TO GET A UNIQUE JOY

We all are in a pressure cooker life. Hope you know what i meant.
Yes, from the time we are born, we are asked to do things, meet the expectations of others and much more. In this hurdle, we forget what we like to do exactly and what we want from life.

I remember the time when i was in my twelfth standard and my results were out, i did score good marks, but again my expectations from life were different. I didn’t want to go for a normal medical /engineering stream, I wanted to explore something different in my life. My parents like other parents did not force me to, they let me choose what I wanted to study. I didn’t want to burden them with my choices too. Hence I chose a normal degree course which did get me the best time of my life, the best job i could land in and much more.
It was indeed the best choice, that going with the current flow of engineering and medicine which almost half of my class did. Glad that I was not in the rat race.
The same thing I apply for my kids, I don’t want them in a rat race and choose what they like not what society is expecting them to do. It does bring in joy, a fullness of contentment which nothing else can give me.

You might not be in a better position, but you will be in a happy position with your choices because you chose them for your self no for anyone else.
Joy comes into our lives in different ways, one is through the choices we make. The more we stress upon unwanted things, the more we damage the joy of life.
You need not go with the crowd, just because they are doing things in the same manner, which went on for years. There is no harm in choosing something you like. All it does give you is peace and joy.

Choose yours wisely.

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY GIVES JOY OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Aquifers of joy spring from within and are manifested in many things that we do which further escalate the inner joy. Since joy is more intrinsically motivated than extrinsically, it carries with it an unalloyed innocent desire to bring joy to others around.

Being in busy state government job, never was a deterrent to getting involved in family matters for my father during his career years. As his immediate family members, we have seen him as a workaholic as far as his official responsibilities were concerned. At the same time, he has been an involved family man.

On days that my mother took ill, we had my father don the apron, wield the ladle and dish out delicious food for the family. Yes, delicious! I mean it. The perfect sugar, salt and oil in whatever he decides to cook. He isn’t great at non-vegetarian preparations or desserts. But, all items of the daily cuisine have been mastered by him. In fact, there have been a few cooking tips and recipes that I have learnt from him, and not from my mother. Pickles are his forte. Coming to tea – by the fragrance I usually make out that he has made it. But, he only cooks for us – his family. It gives him immense joy. There are days in which my mother returns later than usual from work – only to find a full meal ready in the kitchen (well, this doesn’t happen always, but three out of five times for sure).

Not only cooking, he is great at cleaning too. When I was a child, I learnt many of the stain-removal hacks from him. Now we have so many stain removal chemical agents for our convenience, but I have learnt from my father which stains are removed by rubbing lime, which by petrol, which by kerosene oil, etc.

Once a neighbor uncle saw him cooking and asked him about it, assuming that perhaps my mother is an unwilling cook or a lazy bird for household chores. My father replied that he gets immense joy in doing the household chores for his family no matter how busy his official works may make him. It his family after all, and not someone else’s.

Not many men would be so involved in household chores. No matter whichever part of the world we see, household duties are considered to be a woman’s responsibility, not a man’s. It doesn’t matter how egalitarian the society is, gender role stereotypes prevail almost everywhere. And, not many want to break these stereotypes, no matter what the reason.

A part of this societal stereotyping and its aftereffects are there in my father. He doesn’t like it when we tell anyone about his expertise in handling household chores, for an apprehension of criticisms. At the same time, he joyfully continues to do all things for his family – even now in his retirement years.

I have never seen him grumble about any household chores that he does. One reason of course is because he does them out of his own free will. (And, before you think that my mother must be so blessed to have him help around, I must also mention that there are days she has had to chase him out of the kitchen or other work areas for messing with her plans and schedule or for adding on extra work for her because of his ‘help’.)

Doing things differently indeed gives immense joy!

JOY – A TREASURE WORTH ACQUIRING

Snow, rain and hail soak the ground enough to create underground water reservoirs. These underground water reservoirs take the form of natural springs and aquifers and replenish the earth while adding to the aesthetic beauty of the surroundings. Scanty rainfall reduces the groundwater level and dries up wells, springs and aquifers.

Joy is such a well spring that has its source from up above. It is a divine attribute, which unlike happiness doesn’t depend on what you and I do or don’t do. When our lives are soaked with the living waters from up above, the wellspring of joy rises from within.

If I am to give a reason for joy in my life, it is primarily because of the relationship that Jesus Christ has bestowed on me. Nothing that I do or don’t do, nothing that happens to me or doesn’t happen to me, nothing that I get or don’t get impacts that joy ever. It is different altogether.

There have been circumstances when storms have torn apart and ravaged through life, when injustice glared squarely in the face, when failures have sunk the spirit low, when weariness have pressurized the mind and suffocated thinking – all unhappy phases of life – but I have known the joy to have remained untouched. Tears have streamed down and the mind awfully rattled, but a strange joy overpowering them all has become prominent.

I have known, felt and understood that when the presence of God indwells a person, it generates joy from within. Manifestations of joy are different. It is not true that someone who can laugh heartily and make others laugh is a jolly person. Hence, external manifestations are not always good deciders of ‘joy’. A joyful person has a smiling countenance, but not all smiling people are joyful.

Is it possible to be joyful at all times? What about times of pain, sickness, bereavement, disappointments and loss? Can one be joyful during such times?

The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. It is a command. I used to think of the all possible permutations and combinations of life situations that are likely to rock our lives and wonder if it is indeed practically possible to be joyful in such and such situations. That is when I understood that joy isn’t of human origin after all!

It is extremely difficult, but yes, one can be joyful during such times only by allowing oneself to be soaked with the living waters. That is why, it is a rarity to find joy and to be joyful in the truest sense of the term at all times, just as it is not common to spot wells, springs and aquifers on all grounds.

However, once joy permeates lives, it cannot be robbed by anyone or anything, unless one voluntarily gives it up. Such is its powerful presence. A treasure worth acquiring!!

MANTRA FOR JOYFUL LIFE

Mast Raho”, used to be my brother’s favorite dialogue. Whenever I would approach him during a problematic solution, he would calmly access and solve it, saying, “Mast Raho”, which means be carefree. Years down the line, he still solves all the problems easily. Easily, not because the problems aren’t grave, but because he looks for solutions, instead of worrying.

I was quite opposite and used to take tension the moment a problem would pop up in front of me. And I took a lot of time to shun the practice of worrying about all the big and small things in life.

There used to be a poster in my room, during my late teens:

Why Do You Worry?

You are either going to live or die.

If you live, there’s nothing to worry.

If you die, you are either going to heaven or hell.

If you go to heaven, there’s nothing to worry.

If you go to hell, you will be so busy shaking hands with your friends,

 that you won’t have any time to worry!

So, basically, the crux of the message was that there’s no point in worrying.

As we grow older, we get into the nitty gritty of the life complexities and so getting tensed or worrying is quite natural and unavoidable too. However, I have actually experimented this that when you pray to God, with all your faith, He listens. So, now instead of worrying, I have started praying.

So, ‘don’t worry, just pray’ has become my mantra.

Another thing that I have started following is- ‘don’t try to change others’ and simultaneously have accepted the fact- ‘to each his own.’ We all are born different and so have different interests and likings. So, if a person does what you don’t like, just ignore and accept that choices might differ! Yeah, that sounds difficult and even I am gradually trying to get this into my system!