My favourite read

Of all the beautiful reads I had, the one that I could not get over was Rachael Lippincott’s five feet apart. I remember waking up for hours in the middle of the night, checking up my tab and having the long read. Intriguing, emotional, heart-wrenching and absorbing is how I define my favourite book.

Picture Credit : Google

The story of the Stella Grant and Will Newman still makes my heart flutter. It dealt with Abby’s and Poe’s death, how the two affected Stella’s life and Will left her amidst this giving her a new life. The drug trial involved with cystic fibrosis patients having B.Cepacica was a whole new concept that gives us a sense of hope and the author wishes it too that one day such a treatment be found.

Having five feet apart in my collection is what that made me ponder about the life, the death, the love and the perseverance. It’s written with a heart that believes true love exists even in the most unrealistic circumstances. Don’t know where to start but this book has so much to say and what not to teach. A careful read of this book taught me that the death is inevitable to all and what we are supposed to do is to live in the moment and make the best use of it. When on medications what one must not lack is perseverance and the faith. It proves that love is the ultimate expression of the will to live. And children’s love is what binds the parents together when the terminal illness evokes in. Where there’s a love, there’s a sacrifice. It values the human touch as the premium ease of all sufferings. The protagonist of the story, Stella shows that girls know coding too. It shows how the transgenders share the equal rights and how the socialisation and technology has made living easy, causing awareness and helping people win the battle over a terminal illness such as that of cystic fibrosis. And above all, what this book had for me is one more lesson teaching never to take your health for granted.

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 ☺️.

IT DOESN’T TAKE TOO MUCH TO CHEER UP!

Past 7 months of pandemic have been really rough for all. We have been surrounded by gloom, demise news and too much work load. How can one cheer up in such cases?


Well, I couldn’t. I thought I was braving the situation well but a point came when I realised that I am not able to handle this anymore. The monotonous routine of too much of household chores, ever piling and very demanding office work and a hyperactive toddler was all getting more and more difficult to handle with every passing day. I knew I had reached the limit when I couldn’t control my anger and tears at petty things. I was reaching the breaking point.


I knew I had to do the damage control because If I remained upset for a long time, my family was going to suffer, my child would see my wrath, my husband would not feel loved and my MIL would miss my usual chit chatting self. Yes, if you are unhappy, your ENTIRE family suffers. The food you cook doesn’t come out tasty, how much ever you dress up, you don’t feel beautiful and how much ever you sleep, you always feel tired.


So what did I do? I packed my bags and headed straight to my mom’s place. 15 days spent with my mom made a big difference. Aarnav got to meet his other set of grand parents, I got to meet my parents after a very long time! The change in air, the change in environment and the change in routine made wonders.
My mom dished out one of my favourites every single day! My dad got so many new toys for Aarnav. Late night talks with mom which we had long forgotten about ever since I got married, no household chores – I was only a helping hand to the mom. It felt nice to be able to lean on my mom for support because I was tired being a support to my family all these months. Being devoid of any responsibilities and expectations for good15 days helped me cheer up. It transformed me to a happy human being that usually I am. 


It took nothing out of the box to cheer up myself. Good company, lessened responsibilities and good food did the trick. And if you see, these three things will do the trick most of the time. 
Lot of times, we expect a lot – from others as well as from ourself! We must learn to cut the slack. Take time off. Relish good food. Binge eat sometimes. Give in to your cravings once in a while. Hug your kids tight. Cuddle them while sleeping. Steal a kiss from your spouse, watch the sunset together. Chat over a coffee. These are the most sasta and tikau (tried and tested) remedies for a cheerful mood.


I understand, it may not always be possible. We cant fit every single thing in our routine and if you make a routine out of this, it won’t be fun any more! Just know that when you want to do this, go ahead and do it.
Be happy and cheerful!

SURPRISE AND CHEER THEM UP

“How can I cheer up in pandemic?”

“How can I celebrate my birthday without friends?”

My son asked me such questions near his birthday and I had no answer, though was confident that I will make sure that he cheers up on his birthday. As he is a Harry Potter fan, I decided to surprise him with Potter gifts and decor. When he woke up on his birthday, he was thrilled and excited. And I was happy with myself that at least on his special day, I could make him happy.

This wasn’t the first time that I had planned a surprise for someone. It’s one of the best ways to cheer someone up. I remember when I accompanied my younger sister Prabhjot for orientation as she was entering her college. She was going to start a new journey, away from her family. She has always been my best buddy and my baby sister as well. As I was getting emotional, I thought to do something that will cheer her up. So, before leaving, I took some paper slips and wrote messages in them like- ‘I love you’, ‘Miss you’, ‘See you soon’, ‘Study hard’, etc. I folded and hid them in various places in her room- in her pencil case, her handbag, her toiletries kit and shoved the rest here and there in her belongings. I smiled in my heart thinking about her reaction.

Later, on finding slips, Prabhjot would call me & ask, “When did you do this? I am getting a slip almost every week.” We laughed when she told me that even a month later, slips would pop out.

When we love someone, we want to make them happy in some way or the other. Surprises help in doing so. With gifts or just with words, it’s easy to bring a smile on the faces of your loved ones. So, surprise them and cheer them up!

THE CANDLES THAT BUILT MY IDENTITY AS A WRITER

Never did I imagine myself as a writer before. I discovered my writing abilities when I was away from home country, in Shanghai, when I had plenty of leisure time. After hubby left for office, I would finish my chores quite early and my son Arjun, who was 1 at that time, didn’t bother me much as he would mostly sleep and play on his own. I started as a hobby for one of the websites, participated in a few contests and won too. However, once I returned and resumed my job, I stopped writing as I got too busy with my work and pre-schooler Arjun. Soon after, I gave birth to my second son in March 2016.

Pregnancy, childbirth and handling two kids really wears you off physically as well as mentally. Though living in a joint family proved to be a boon for me at time, I felt lost, maybe due to postpartum.

If there’s any good news or any problem I am going through, or any other thing that bothers me, I have a group for me to vent out my emotions. The group, which is my biggest support system, consists of my cousin sisters Kuljeet & Prabhjot. As I was struggling to be normal, Prabhjot prompted me to write as she said I needed my mind to be occupied. She introduced me to Chiradeep. I was hesitant initially, exchanging messages with the leader, but this guy was so understanding and we connected really well. He trusted my writing skills and I was soon part of the Candles Online. It was in November 2016 when my first article When In Doubt Just Google was published. The story relays helped me to gel well with my fellow writers. Surprisingly I haven’t ever met Chiradeep and other writers on Candles Online (excluding my sisters, of course)! Yet, we all chat like age old friends, which is the best part.

The article gave me recognition as a writer and soon I was motivated to write more. The views and comments really inspire me to write further. Nothing is better than the connect the viewers make on reading my articles. And that’s my biggest reward I believe! Candles Online gave me the identity as a ‘writer’ and I can’t thank Prabhjot & Chiradeep enough for doing that.

Thank you Candles!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHONA

Parul was trapped in a vicious circle of life – meeting expectations and fulfilling demands. Life was totally mundane and there was nothing that interested her. She often thought about wanting a better life but would reason to herself thinking she has everything to make life beautiful – husband, kids, own house, well paying job – what else can she ask for! Even then, life was utterly boring, monotonous and to some extent burdensome because of increasing responsibilities of growing up kids and dynamics of relationships.

Parul was married to Palash and they made a great couple then, but not any more! Palash who was in his early forties preferred long hours at office more than spending time at home. The once romantic young boy had now turned in to a workaholic treading the path of success ferociously. Parul who was in her late thirties had almost forgotten what romance is, firstly because she got very less time to spend with her husband because of his business tours and busy work schedules and secondly because, she had forgotten that she is a wife too while trying to be the best mom to their kids who were older than toddlers but younger than teens. In short, in 11 years of marriage, Parul and Palash had grown distant considerably.

Not that they had fights or arguments, but their life was not the same as it used to be in the early years of marriage. Both of them could feel the missing factor but never complained because they thought they had more important things to focus on – work for Palash and kids for Parul. Both had adapted themselves to a life minus romance, excitement and surprises. But slowly, Parul had started craving for the company of her husband. Each time she saw any of her friend going out with her husband, she would feel a little jealous. She never spoke with Palash about what she felt because she was burdened with the guilt of giving more importance to kids all these years and ignoring her husband to a very large extent, but secretly she longed to be with her husband, physically and emotionally. She would hope that Palash would understand her needs but unfortunately it did not seem like he even noticed any of them. It wasn’t like Palash was not looking after her or their kids. He was a good father. He did manage to spend a little time with kids every weekend. But for Parul, Palash’s behavior wasn’t very pleasant. She craved for his attention and company. But the irony is she had started noticing the difference only after their kids had grown up a bit. Perhaps, that was the time when Parul got a moment to look at her life with a fresh pairs of eyes. For her it was like Palash was there but he was not there! With each passing day Parul had started getting frustrated. She was being grind in ignorance and neglect.

These things started impacting Parul in a negative way. Mood swings, anger, and small arguments started stepping in. While Palash seemed to handle it well, Parul was not able to manage herself. All that she needed was her husband and his attention but she was not getting it. Things worsened between them when Palash announced that he will need to fly to London for work for two weeks. Parul was very hurt and annoyed that he didn’t seem to remember her birthday. As per schedule, Palash was to return home on the day after Parul’s birthday. Parul tried asking Palash if could return a day earlier hoping that he gets a hint about her birthday but all in vain!

Parul felt miserable after Palash left for London and nothing on this earth could lift her mood. She would go to office with a sour mood and return home with a bitter mood. This had became a new routine and on one such day when Parul reached office with a grimace, she was amazed to find a small box placed on her desk. It was neatly wrapped with a pink (her favorite color) gift paper and the sender had only mentioned “From your secret admirer”. She observed the gift for some time searching for the clue about who could have sent it but there was none! Lot of questions ran through her mind, like “Who must have sent this? Is it for me? If yes, why is not addressed to me? Is someone playing a prank? Now who is this secret admirer, does anyone even notice me?” She checked with her colleagues to know if they had seen anyone placing this gift at her desk but nobody seemed to know. At last, she just put it in her drawer and got to work. By the end of the day, she had totally forgotten about that gift.

Next day:

When Parul reached office, she saw another gift box, a little bigger than the first one. Again, the box said nothing apart from a short message which was typed on a paper and stuck to the box. It said “Please do not forget me” Parul looked around and blushed a little when she noticed all colleagues were looking at her with curious faces, all that she could manage to say was”I…. I don’t know who sent this. Its really wei… weird”

“A birthday gift?” asked one of the colleagues cheekily. “No, still a couple of days for my birthday!” exclaimed Parul. She was sort of embarrassed by all the attention that her gifts were drawing. She quickly dropped this gift in her drawer and started to work. But the curiosity stayed on her mind.

Day3:

There was yet another gift waiting for Parul. It read “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” This time the note was handwritten. Parul was a little disheartened to see that the handwriting didn’t look like Palash’s. She had began to think that Palash was sending these gifts but now it was clear that it wasn’t him. And anyway, it was too much to expect that from Palash, more so because of the way he had transformed over the years. But Parul was sure about one thing, whoever that secret admirer was – he was somewhere around. He knew her and he was watching her. By now most of the office knew that Parul was getting a gift every day and most of them envied her for having so much love and excitement in life. Casual teasing and leg pulling by colleagues brightened Parul’s day. She realized that she was smiling after a really long time. She was happy but curious. She was liking the feeling of being pampered but she was also worried about who this secret admirer is. What is he up to? Will he create any problem in her married life? She considered sharing this with Palash but changed her mind instantly thinking that he may misunderstand.

Later in the lunch time, she opened all the boxes. The first one had an anklet – the same one she had been eyeing for a long time. She was so happy! She was amazed about the choice if the secret admirer and was curious to know how did he know that she had wanted that anklet since a long time. She thought hard to remember if she had mentioned about it to any one in the office, may be she did to some of her girl friends but why will she mention it to her males friends? And obviously, the secret admirer couldn’t be a girl – or that’s what Parul thought. Parul was full of mixed emotions – happiness, flattering, excitement, anxiety – all at the same time.

Her excitement reached a new level when she opened the second gift. It was a beautiful writing pad and a Mont Blanc pen – both her favorites. There was something scribbled on the writing pad – it said, “please do not stop writing beautiful poems that you always wrote when you were in college” Oh my, was this some old flame from college? Who was he? And how did he remember about her poems when she herself had long forgotten about her passion?

It was getting very difficult for Parul to contain all the excitement. She was thinking very hard about who could be this secret admirer. Her heart was pounding hard when she was about to open the third gift. The message on the gift box had created more suspense. “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” The secret admirer wanted to meet her on her birthday! She quickly opened the box and was surprised to see two tickets to the premier show of the movie of her favorite star! What?? She was going to get to meet her favorite superstar on her birthday??!!! Parul was on cloud nine! How did the secret admirer know about her craze for that superstar and how did he manage to book the ticket for the premier show?

By now, Parul’s face was glowing with excitement and happiness. But she wasn’t sure if she should go and meet the secret admirer. That day when she returned home her mood was nice after a long time. Kids were happy to see that their mom is no more cranky and irate. When nothing on earth could help to set Parul’s mood right, these small gifts went a long way. This secret admirer had easily done something which Palash could never do in 11 years. Parul couldn’t sleep that night thinking about meeting the superstar and the secret admirer the next day. It was going to be an eventful birthday this year!

The D-day!

Parul couldn’t wait to reach office to find the last gift. Today, the gift sticker only said “Happy birthday Shona!” She quickly opened the box and couldn’t believe her eyes! There was a diamond necklace – the same she had been wishing for since years but hesitating to ask for it from Palash. There was also a small note saying “Please pick me up at the airport at 3 pm today. Can’t wait to see you on your birthday” A smile broke on Parul’s lips and tears rolled down her cheeks.

The cat was out of the bag. The secret admirer was none other than Palash himself. Parul was moved to see his efforts to make her happy and she wondered how did he plan this execution so well. She was touched to realize that, all this while when she felt Palash was ignoring her to the core, Palash was actually noting her every wish, every desire and he even remembered her long lost passion of writing poems. While she thought that love and romance was fading away from their life, Palash had brought it back with a bang. While she was mad at Palash two weeks ago for not noticing her attempt of reminding her birthday, there he was deeply engrossed in planning all the execution. Parul knew how hectic his business tours are and she felt so special that he made arrangements to return on her birthday! She felt guilty for blaming her loving husband of ignorance and neglect. While she was immersed in her happiness and guilt, she was greeted mischievously by Tara, a colleague – “Happy Birthday Parul. So, how were the surprises since last 4 days?” Parul stared at her wondering how did she know about all this when she sat on another floor altogether and Parul had never mentioned about anything to her.

Slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle had fitted together. Palash had cleverly planned this with the help of Tara. Tara and Palash were batch-mates from MBA and they had re-connected at the annual party of Payal’s office last year.

Parul had fallen in love with Palash all over again. It was indeed her best birthday. They started a new life together from that day. Love, pampering and romance had found a new meaning.

We all hit a phase in our marriage when it gets extremely boring. That is the time when we feel like giving up but actually that is the time when we should hang on the most. We take our partner for granted and over the period of time we stop doing those small things which make them happy. While we assume increasing responsibilities in life and excel in them, we fail to do justice to that special relationship with our partner unknowingly. It’s not that we don’t love our partner any more but we fail to understand how important it is to express our love. Expression of love strengthens a relationship.

I think all of us should make sure to sprinkle some love and top up the relationship with surprises and pampering, irrespective of the age!

Wishing you all a wonderful relationship filled with love! Cheers.

GROWTH OF THE BONDING

During Christmas, a survey was conducted with a few teenage kids. They were asked, “What would you hope to get this Christmas? They asked for a Computer – A giant Barbie house – A Trophy Case – A Xbox 360 – A Minecraft legos”. Then they were asked, “What would your Mom or Dad hope to get this Christmas?” They replied, “My mom would love to have a Gold Ring since she never really had a ring” – “She loves Necklace” – “They would be happy to get a new TV” – “He wants a night watches” –  “Dad needs a motorbike”.

To their surprise, the kids got all they desired both for them and for their family but there was an “either-or” catch. They had to choose between the two alternative gifts. Though it’s was quite troublesome for them but their choice turned-out a great blessing. Each of the kids decided to give up their gifts and took the gifts for their parents. They reasoned, “Barbie house & Legos don’t matter, FAMILY MATTERS! It is the only time I can gift something to my family. My relationship with my family is more important than the gifts I want”.

Bible says, ”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God”. And the expression of love is only found in “Sacrifice”. The biggest example of “the expression of love in sacrifice” seen in human history is the purpose of the Christmas story. God loves us so much that, He took birth in a human flesh named ‘Jesus’ and lived with us to die and pay the wages of our sins that we had and we will commit ever.

It would be profound to say, “Sacrifice nurtures relationship”. But in this blissful nurturing the clock also strikes through some gloomy phase. Sketching the picture further I would say, in the full-moon evenings of our relationship there also dawns a moonless evening – dark, worrisome and weak.

After each of our seminars and events, I and one of my brother prefer to meet for a personal time of analysis. Like that after one of our events, I went to meet my brother. While on the way I was thinking since I had hosted the event effectively, there is nothing more to discuss about the event just we will discuss the follow-up plans. But as we start our discussion, his opening line was, “Avinash, I am not at all happy the way you hosted the event yesterday.” Making the long story short, he scolded me like an elder brother and showed all my faults from tip to toe. As a matter of fact, he also scold me for the way I stood and walked while taking the sessions. I left his house with a heavy and discouraged heart and almost for a couple of days the only question that was bothering me was – “Am I so hopeless and so uncultured? How can he talk like this? Am I a big failure – a big zero?” After some time one more question came to my mind which answered all my questions and pushed me to mature thinking – “WHY DID HE NOTICE ME SO KEENLY ALL THE TIME?”

Those who loves us deeply, they always judges us quickly. A good soul shows us the mirror, not to humiliate us for our mistakes but to humble us and exalt us to a glorious standard without flaterring us.

An English proverb says, “Intent is prior to Content”. Taking one of the inside looks of the breaking of relationships can be ‘immature thinking’. In a relationship when our beloved one shows us our shortcomings, we immediately bracket them as the fault-finder of our life. We start looking at them through the eyes of an enemy. Whereas the reality of the story is too sacred. A person with good intent will always be the one who keeps a close eye on us so that he can show us our shortcomings and help us grow to the glorious standards of life. Joining for the round of applause is always easy and a public expression whereas often time the intent of the praiser is evil.

Relationship is always PROTO to an individual’s existence. Following the PROTOness of relationship comes the importance of loving and sacrificing for one another that grooms the relationship. As LOVE – SACRIFICE & GOOD UNDERSTANDING (MATURE THINKING) coalesce the bonding in the relationship grows from strength to strength and the beauty becomes exemplary.

The Bible says,

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,

just as you are doing.