HIS AGAPE LOVE FOR YOU AND ME

Agape is a word that is not commonly used by people. The English word agape means, ‘ajar’, ‘open’, ‘amazed’ etc., but the Greek word agapē means, the unconditional love of God for humankind. And this Agape love is mentioned only in the Bible explaining how God has been displaying His love for mankind from the beginning till now.

If we look at ourselves, we find how intelligent and supreme we are from all other animals and all the creations as a whole. The Bible says we were created in God’s image as He formed us from the dust whereas He created all others just by His commands and words.

Doesn’t it show His special love and purpose behind creating us?

Apart from that in human history, we all know, how God has been a God of provision, sustenance and protection. He has always been faithful to control the cosmos, the seasons, the environment etc., all because of His love for us. He never abandons any provisions from anyone despite our deformities and iniquities.

Just imagine if one day, God calls me from heaven and says, “Chiradeep, you have been so wicked for last one month, so as a punishment, sunlight will be suspended for you over a period of one week.” And I will be in darkness for the next seven days. But the good news is He has never done like that to me or to any human-like me though we have always been taken Him and His goodness for granted. His love has always been unconditional whether we obey Him or follow His instructions. The only time we suffer when we go against His set system which He had set for the whole creation to run around it.

But the agape love of God manifested only in the context of Jesus’s coming to the world and dying for the whole of humankind. I agree it is not easy to understand or grasp it. As a young boy, I had this quest in my mind which remained and unanswered and unresolved for many years. The quest was – “Why on earth Jesus had to take birth and die if He was God. If He simply uses His might and authority everything will come into order… Then why this drama of such a painful death came into the scene in the first place?” My logical young mind couldn’t find any satisfying explanation for this question.

This question never left me till I entered adulthood leaving behind my teenage years. This burden weighed me down till one of my teachers enlightened me about The Truth through a few truths from the eternal scripture.

I remember, he asked me to name God’s attributes according to my generalized idea of God. As always, I was prompt to respond by giving a list of attributes that seemed appropriate to me – God is Holy, Righteous, Just, Kind, Good, Love etc…

He smiled and started to explain all the attributes of God that I had mentioned to him. As he went on illuminating my mind, I began to analyse them one after the other. This eventually addressed my quest and I could feel a calmness in my whole being.

Let me share about it in details….

If we read the Bible, we will find God’s these attributes are mentioned numerous times but for this article, I am quoting a few of them only –

 God is Holy: “For I am the Lord your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.

God is Righteous: “The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.”

God is Just: “The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds.

God’s holiness, righteousness and justice debar any relationship or connection between Him with the unholy, unrighteous and unjust ones.

Humanly even if we are corrupted, we will never want to be identified with corruption in any manner. So, when it comes to God, who is holy, righteous and just, it is impossible to think that He can easily mingle with us.

Mankind sinned against God and had fallen short of the glory of God and became unholy, unrighteous and unjust – “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

All the above-mentioned attributes of God declare that man cannot come to the presence of God. General understanding says that the consequence of any wrongdoing is punishment. So, men have to be punished. And the punishment is “DEATH” – “For the wages of sin is death…”.

That day when I was eagerly and desperately waiting for my teacher to help me understand my long-borne quest, he dramatically paused there and looked at me while I was amazed at his logical and Biblically proved explanations about the way God deals with His created humans.

He started speaking again about one last attribute of God with a confident smile on his face.

God is LOVE (includes kindness and goodness): The Bible says,

“So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, He created them; male and female he created them.”

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

God’s love ensures and reflects God’s heart – “I created these men and women in my own image, how can I punish them! I will save them from this eternal death. I will make them righteous, just and holy. I will give then eternal life”.

And thus, they can ultimately come to the presence of a Holy, Righteous and Just God.

God can’t die being God and being a Spirit. So, He had to take the form of Jesus – the human form of God with flesh and blood so that He can die substituting the whole human race, saving them from the wages of sin.

While dying on that cross, God showcased all His attributes together not even abandoning one. This was the reason why He had to die for you, me and for all others in this world.

Friends! In my life of pain and suffering, I have known God’s agape love for me all the time. It is possible only when we give in to Him. In closing, I can only say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Tasting and Visualising are two of the sensory perceptions that supersede the other sensory perceptions when it comes to authenticating God’s goodness and unconditional love in one’s own life.

Stay Blessed!

FRIENDS – A GIFT TO OURSELVES

Throughout our lives, we have different relationships with different people. Most of the relationships we have are by virtue of being born at a certain time in a certain family. Our parents, our siblings, our uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents etc. 

Then there is another set of relationships we have by law. If yours was a love marriage at least you chose your spouse, if you were in an arranged marriage even your spouse was chosen for you. Either way, the in-law’s family that you get is by virtue of being married to a certain person.

I am not complaining, we love our families fiercely. But there is one relationship which you choose and form. It grows on you. And it becomes a very important part of your life. That is friendship.

We start forming friends at a very early age. Maybe you are still in touch with your kindergarten friend. And all along we make a lot of friends. Some are left behind in the race of life and with some, the bond becomes stronger. So, for all of us, we have a few friends or at least one such friend whom we can call a true friend.


That my dear is a gift we have given to ourselves.

Growing up my parents have always been exasperated with the number of friends I had. There was this gang of school friends, the colony friends, the college friends, the computer classes friends, the tuition friends and the list goes on and on. I have loved to be surrounded by good friends. 

But now so many years later I cherish a close group of friends. Whom I love dearly and can go to any lengths to support. And I am sure they will do so too. 

You know what the best part of a good friendship is? There is no pretence. There is no need to put up a façade. I mean if it is your school/college friend they have grown up with you and know all the goof-ups you did as a kid. My close friend was there with me when my teacher punished me, or when I clumsily fell in the canteen, or when we made Maggi together and ate like it was the last packet on earth or she was there when we made lofty plans for our future which never materialized. My friend knows me so thoroughly that I don’t have to pretend in front of her. She understands me.

Then there are the friends I made as an adult when life had started showing its true colours. When life has become so hectic that we carry loads of tensions and stress on our heads. Meeting these friends and just talking or you may call it gossiping can relieve so much of my stress. I love these gossip friends with whom I can let my hair down and discuss just any topic under the sky and not be judged for it.

Also, there are friends who guide you when you need it the most. They coax, cajole and also at times be blunt but they help you give your best to the given task. The “friend, philosopher and guide” kind or friends are too precious as we can turn to them and trust them when our own judgement is compromised.

Finally, my closest circle of friends whom I can call the 3 a.m. friends. I know even if in the middle of the night I give them an SOS call they will drop everything and will be there with me to stand through thick and thin. I know I have a family for such times also but sometimes reaching out to friends is easier than reaching out to the family.

I just cherish and love the friends I have in my life and thank them for being a part of my life. Friends are the gift I have given to myself. When everything in life gets too much to handle, I turn to my friends and they bring me back to track.  

THE WARMTH OF XENIA

Xenia (Greek: ξενία) is the ancient Greek sacred rule of hospitality (corresponding to the Latin concept of Hospitium), the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home or associates of the host. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host expressed in both material benefits (e.g. gifts, protection, shelter) as well as non-material ones (e.g. favors, certain normative rights). The term is often translated as “Guest-Friendship” or (“Ritualized Friendship”) because the rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host. Hence, it is also known as “Guest-Friend”.

One of the prime motivations of living an itinerant lifestyle is the warmth of xenia. The veracity of xenia is, it never appears in the same way. It has its unique appearance in every home. It’s been more than a year yet the warmth of Xenia in my first visit to Shillong is so tangible! Whether it is about the caring nature of my cab driver Mr. Naresh after my arrival at Guwahati Airport and at midnight waiting almost an hour for someone to receive me at Shillong or at my departure from Shillong, the warmth of Xenia wrapped in that tiffin box given by Dr. Aunty Veera & Uncle Lumlang, each of those tiny days, small incidents, casual friendly talks, and good-bye hugs have enabled me to bag what is the love of hospitality.

“Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning.

Love has to be put into action and that action is service”. (Mother Teresa)

Action is the tangible output that is primarily sourced by Love. LOVE PRECEDES ACTION. It is the sacred love for others in our heart that convinces our mind to go an extra-mile, which reflects in Xenia. Often, we consider love as an emotion whereas love is chiefly an action word. And the Bible puts it like this,

“Love is Patient and Kind. Love is Admiring. Love is Cordial, Love is Forgiving.

Love rejoices in justice. Love is consistent, Love has faith, Love is Hopeful,

and Love endures through every circumstance.

Three things last forever – Faith, Hope, and Love –

and the greatest of these is Love”

A few years back, for an official purpose, I had my first visit to Kandhamal, one of the remote places in the state of Odisha. By the time, I reached there it was midnight, there was no mobile network, and unknown to me a couple of hours prior to my arrival the local govt. authorities declared that area as “no activity zone during the night” due to Mao’s activity. As I left the bus and was making mind to wait till the sunlight suddenly, I saw a man on a bike from the dark forest road asking, “Are you Avinash?” Thank God, it was none other than that good godly man whom I was looking for. Later I realized he had to sacrifice his whole night rest and risk his life just to receive me.

Someone penned rightly,

“People will forget what you said, forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

A guest is mostly at a strange place and is aloof to our culture. Making mistakes and putting the host in a problem is not their intent rather it is the output of their mere ignorance. Excusing their flaws and giving them comfort is only possible when we shift our perspective and pose ourselves WEARING THEIR SHOES.

A tale goes like this;

In a small-town, a poor man always begged at a rich man’s palace gate and the rich man always treated him just like dogs. He threw morsel at him and mocked him. Unfortunately, both the rich man and the poor man died on the same day. The rich man went to hell and the poor man went to heaven. From hell, the rich man cried out to God,

Richman: God, it’s too painful here, it’s unbearable. Could you please take me to heaven? Why did you put me in hell, what I have done?

God said, I visited you but you treated me like your dogs and threw morsels at me. You mocked my condition.

Richman: God, when did I do that to you?

God: I visited you through the poor man. And you did that to me all that you have done to the poor man.

The Bible says,

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some WHO HAVE DONE THIS HAVE ENTERTAINED ANGELS without realizing it!”  

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART VII

Samarth and Disha were absolutely quiet in the car as he drove her to drop at her place. He knows very well how she behaves when she is confused, annoyed, and upset. So, he allowed that space where she can stay calm for some time before finding herself again and solve her own problem, walking out of her dilemma. He grew up with her and there’s no one apart from him who knows her so well. And it was so beautiful that they came back in touch with each other once again after they were detached for a few years.

Good Night, Dish…And take care…” He said as he stopped the car at her apartment gate.

Uhmm” She nodded, looking at him once with a grumpy face, and waved her hand with a wry smile on her face before disappearing through the gate of the apartment.

Samarth sighed as he drove back to his hotel. He really doesn’t want to return back to his own city, leaving his bestie all alone by herself especially in this state but he can’t help it. He came here for a week to visit her after they got in touch through the dating app. He was one year younger than her and was also unmarried. His parents had already found a match and he had given a green signal to proceed. He is a very different kind of person. He doesn’t believe in being so choosy in regards to judge the character of another human being and accept her in life. He knows that no one is perfect in this world and everyone can strive for perfection if they wish to by God’s strength. It doesn’t mean that he takes marriage lightly. He definitely wants to talk to the girl at a length before diving into an ocean from which he can’t come back afterward.

He was feeling bad that he could not share about himself much with his bestie, Disha, as she was so troubled. She was the priority this time, maybe next time when he visits her again, he will have enough to share about his life with her.

Before ordering his dinner, he messaged Disha, “Sweetheart, I will be leaving tomorrow in the afternoon. I would love it if you see me off at the airport.” He waited for some time before falling asleep after his dinner, but there was no reply from her. It didn’t surprise him as he was aware of her so very well.

There were numerous thoughts that literally choked Disha as she sat there on her couch wondering about things. When she is upset or in dilemma, she pulls herself into a closet where she never allows anyone inside it for some time, but it lasts only for a day maximum. Unfortunately, the timing was not right for her to be in her closet when she was supposed to make use of most of her time spending with her bestie, Samarth while he was about to leave the city.

She didn’t care about her dinner or phone but simply kept thinking about all those little conversations she had with Akash, her prospective life partner, and with Sam, who was the one who knows her inside out for years together. She had no sleep in her eyes that night but all those words of both the persons kept ringing in her ears, making her restless.

What a beautiful soul this guy has!” Samarth remarked as soon as she explained what Akash shared. ‘What made her bestie feel so good about Akash?’ She wondered.

…he TOLD you the truth, much before your marriage…Try to see and understand things from his perspective Disha.Samarth had tried to make her understand, she recalled.

I retreated into a shell. It took me more than 5 years to rebuild my confidence in myself. I felt rejected. I could never trust anyone anymore. That is the reason I didn’t tell you before. I was scared that you might not trust me… Or you may leave me.” Disha remembered how Akash was trying to express his worries, his emotions when he opened up revealing about the traumatic incident that he had to go through. Akash’s worried face flashed in front of Disha’s eyes. ‘He was scared that I may leave him? Poor thing.’ She felt pity for his condition for the first time.

She also remembered what he said last night over the phone when she insisted him to speak out, “I would have if I could have. This is something which I prefer to be shared with you in your physical presence…”. A smile appeared on her face as she thought, ‘so he had the guts to tell the truth, sitting in front of me. He was truthful and definitely has a clear conscience.

One of the factors that shatters marriages is that the partners know quite a bit ‘about’ each other . . . but don’t know each other well.” Disha murmured again to herself when she remembered these words of her darling bestie, Sam. How blessed she is to have him in her life… She thought. ‘He was right, I was worried knowing about Akash and about his past, but I was blind to know and understand the person he is… Sam understood so quickly even without meeting him.’ She thought again and for the first time, she felt a bit calm in her heart.

She tried to close her eyes again, praying in her heart, “Lord, counsel me tonight. Have a little conversation with me in my sleep, so that I can make the right decision about Akash. Amen!

Disha fell asleep really late that night, but she was at peace. All the little conversations that she had for the last two days will definitely help her to take the decision. She will definitely see a ray of hope when she will be awakened in the morning.

Will she go to the airport and share her decision with her bestie, Sam, hugging him tight? Will she try to call or meet Akash tomorrow and try to know him more in a better way and accept him to be united with him?

Well, no one knows about it except Disha herself…

THE END

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART VI

Sam saw a disoriented look on Disha’s face. He let out a sigh and called the waiter, “Hey buddy would you mind if we help in increasing CCD’s business a bit more?” Sam tried to be funny, to lighten the dense atmosphere at that table.

The waiter was confused, “pardon sir! Didn’t get you“.

Can you get us two cold coffees with vanilla ice cream please?  And yes take your own sweet time. So we are not only buying cold coffee but time too. That shall be all for now, thank you.” Sam placed his order which was of course an excuse to sit there longer without being kicked out for table occupancy instead of ordering anything.

Look Disha we need to talk” Sam turned his attention towards his sweet, confused, fuming friend.

But Disha was not in a mood to listen as she found the entire scenario difficult and to worsen things, in her mind of course Sam had said a word upon hers. “Sam if it’s about Akash then excuse me, I don’t want to listen to anything, at least right now. I need time,” gruntled Disha.

Sam chuckled a bit, nudged his head, and continued, “Forget Akash for a minute. It’s about Chetan“.

What about Chetan” puzzled Disha asked.

Oh, that means you remember him, even to this day I feel you shouldn’t have done to him what you have done. He loved you ardently. Not only that you reciprocated, but got him in a legal soup. I feel for him.” Sam just ruffled pages from the past.

Chetan was one of the school friends, who with the passing time nursed feelings for Disha. They were just friends, that’s what Disha thought. As time passed he was obsessed with her. When finally one day he poured out his heart and consequently turned down by Disha he simply couldn’t take it. In the want of being accepted, persuasion followed by stalking happened. A sweet friend now turned into a psychopath scared Disha enormously. She informed her parents and the cops entered the scene to solve the issue.

Disha was furious now, “how on earth you can hold me responsible for that maniac? Suddenly you are sounding like my distant aunts who pinpointed my character and nature for his insanity. Where this is coming from? Tell me what’s my FAULT?” Her face was like amber on fire.

The silent Sam was now in action with his usual calm demeanor, “you spoke it yourself. First of all, I am sorry for my regressive remark. You are no where at fault when it’s about Chetan. And my point is so is Akash. Both the incidents are different when we look at the scenarios but the results are the sameyou and Akash are at the receiving ends, receiving flak and trauma for no Fault of yours. And I want you to think from that perspective. I could have easily said how does one’s past matters but we all know it does in some or other way. But in his case, I don’t even think that an accidental marriage or say charade even qualifies for the tag of Past. Still, he decided to let you know about it, he scored there for me. Now you have to think if he is worthy enough of your admiration or not. Just think“.

The matured Samarth left infuriated Disha lost in deep thoughts…

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART V

It’s ok Disha. Take your time.” Akash comforted her. “My parents also asked me to hide this truth from you as they felt there was no need, but I feel that you must know everything about me if we are going to start our journey together.” 

But you should have told me this before.” Disha mustered her senses and said.

There’s still time for our marriage Disha. I am not afraid to face the consequence now. Whatever will be your decision, will be my luck. Thank you for coming.” Akash stood up to leave.

You want me to drop you? He asked.

No, thanks! I am going to meet a friend of mine from here. I will go on my own.” Disha replied bluntly.

Very well, bye then. I will wait for your reply.” Akash said and left the place.

Disha just nodded and sat there alone for some time. She ordered another coffee and dialed Sam from her mobile.

Hey Dish! What’s cooking?” Sam asked teasingly.

Shut up and just come here,” Disha ordered.

What? Where? What happened?” Sam asked.

How can he do this?” Disha was full of anger.

Dish, just send me your location, I am coming right away,” Samarth said as he grabbed his car keys and dashed outside his house.

Sam was clueless about what had happened. Akash seemed a nice guy, he thought, but who knows what’s going inside one’s mind. Following the GPS directions, Samarth reached CCD in half an hour. He spotted Disha from a distance, who looked worried and was fidgeting with her coffee straw.

As he went to her table, Disha jumped out of her chair and hugged Sam. 

Will you tell me now?” Sam said, holding her hands.

They sat down and Disha narrated everything to Sam.

What a beautiful soul this guy has!” Sam said smiling.

Are you kidding me? He hid such a big thing from me all this while and now just opening up prior a few months before marriage, do you think this is right?” Disha slammed.

At least he TOLD you the truth, much before your marriage. Cards haven’t been published yet; the world doesn’t know that you are getting married.” Sam tried to explain. “He could have never told this to you, but he opened up, against his parents’ wish. Try to see and understand things from his perspective Disha. Put yourself in his shoes and then take a call.”

Disha didn’t expect this reaction from Sam, as mostly he would agree to whatever she used to say. But this time it was different and she was not liking it.

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART IV

No No No… Disha you are not allowed to do that. Don’t start this guessing game. I have really gathered a lot of courage to come face to face to you and share a very painful incident of my past” Said Akash with a grave face.

Disha was really worried. She wanted her little conversations with Akash to start but the look on Akash’s face told her that this was not the direction she was expecting the talks to move in… Anyways she kept silent and gave time to Akash to gather his thoughts.

I have been married before..” blurted out Akash.

What??” Disha started to speak… “Wait let me complete… then I will answer all your questions.” Akash stopped her mid-sentence. She kept mum but there were a lot of questions in her eyes. In our 36 months of relationship, he did not tell me such a big thing about himself.. 

Akash continued…

6 years ago, like any Indian household where the children are of marriageable age, my parents were also looking out for a match for me. Since I didn’t have any girlfriend, I was ok with the way things were moving. After meeting a few prospective matches, I finally met Archana. She was a simple docile girl from a traditional family. There was no reason to say no to her. She seemed like a girl who would fit in our house and my life. My family was going gaga over her. The family background was good and she was qualified. So this seemed like a perfect match.”

Within a month our marriage date was set. I met Archana a few times but always there were her siblings around. We actually didn’t talk much. Most of the time went in the teasing and fun that goes with a grand Indian wedding.”

After a whirlwind of shopping and multiple functions we finally got married. Archana was welcomed into our house with  an open heart. But she was a changed woman the moment she set step into our house.” 

On our first night together she told me that she was in love with another man from a different religion and she had been forced to marry me. She got into this marriage only to get away from her family.” 

She laughed on my face saying that she didn’t understand how I could be such a simpleton and not recognise the red flags during our marriage. Her bags were packed and she left to be with her boyfriend who was waiting for her. And I was left behind flabbergasted. To face my family and the world. I was completely broken after this. The marriage between us got annulled. But I was not the same again. More than my heart my trust was broken. And the world can be very cruel with their taunts.”

Akash continued “I retreated into a shell. It took me more than 5 years to rebuild my confidence in myself. I felt rejected. I could never trust anyone anymore. That is the reason I didn’t tell you before.  I was scared that you might not trust me.. Or you may leave me.” 

Akash was looking at Disha with so many emotions on his face. Disha opened her mouth to say something but the words didn’t come out…