GLASS – HANDLE WITH CARE

I had always felt very sad and incomplete on seeing other children going to school while, I was at home all day, dreaming. I was a 10 year old boy, sitting at home with an imaginary tagline on my forehead – “Glass – Hamdle with Care“. I could only dream at that time, to be a big man one day, sitting on a table and working on a computer. But how would I reach that state of my life was nothing more than just a mirage for me at that point of time.

Finally, when the time came for me to step out of the house and enter into a school campus, my joys were leaps and bounds. I couldn’t contain them. I was admitted to the school directly into the fourth standard. It all happened because of my aunt (my mom’s elder sister). She convinced my all-possessive maternal grandfather to allow me to go to the school where she was working as a teacher. I was a thin timid boy with no courage at all, bearing the same imaginary tagline – “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Years later, when I passed out of my school and it was time for me to get admitted into a college the tension arose in the minds of my local guardians. But I joined. The day I went for the admission I saw a senior student carrying a sword along with all his friends, protesting against the government during the Mondal Commission issue in 1992. This time, carrying the imaginary tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” by myself, I was trembling in fear looking at the rowdy students out there. This is how my first time at college started with a serious jolt down my spines.

In 1997 after my graduation, I wanted to taste freedom and fortunately, my aunt stood by my side trying to convince my grandfather to allow me to study away from them at Bhubaneswar in Utkal University for my post-graduation. My father’s elder brother was the Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University. I stayed at my cousin’s to complete my PG in Utkal University. But I was strictly instructed to carry my tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care” without fail.

That imaginary tagline was the chain which put me under its bondage at every ‘First Step’ I took at different stages of my life. But I could breathe free with my lungs inhaling the fresh air of freedom for the first time when I came to Kolkata, my first out of state stay. I sensed, the tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” disappearing for the first time after many years in my life. I felt God’s promise of “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go“, real and evident.

Have I become very strong? Am I free from all the sufferings? Don’t I have any weaknesses anymore? No, not at all… I have become more weak and slower. But I definitely am free from that all-encompassing negative tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Never enjoy stagnancy but always be ready for the first time adventures relying on His divine strength.

Stay Blessed!

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MY FIRST DAY AS A FREE BIRD

“My First” is an interesting topic. I have had a few interesting encounters but I’ll mention a funny incident.

A college is a new beginning in any students’ life. After the much-disciplined life of schools there comes the college. We suddenly start thinking that we are actually grown up wand that now we can do anything we want. We feel like a free bird. After 12 years of studying in Girls’ Convent school, and 2 years of +2 in a women’s college, I got admission in Ravenshaw University for pursuing higher education. I had so many emotions running through me because for the first time I was about to step into a co-education institution. I had so many things on my mind, from what I was going to wear to how to figure out where the class would be located at. But I was not alone, three friends of +2 had also taken admission in the same university, which was sort of a relief for me. 

Finally, the day arrived when I stepped in Ravenshaw University. One of my friends had accompanied me in a rickshaw. After reaching near the gate, we waited for the other two friends. After they arrived, we exchanged some gleeful glances and entered the campus. It was huge! I call it the “Red Empire”. There is a big lawn, spherical in shape with antic street lamps neatly fitted. The buildings were red in color. And my favorite color is red! The scenic beauty, the neatness, the entire atmosphere inside the campus had won my heart. To the right-hand side of the lawn, was a big digital board which read “Welcome to Ravenshaw University”. But without wasting much time we headed for the inaugural lecture. It was to be held in Gallery No. 2. We asked a few students and made our way through the crowd to the Gallery. After walking for about 5 minutes, we could see the word “Gallery”. We smiled at each other and rushed towards it. But when we reached near the entrance door, the Gallery was nearly full and the class had begun. We exchanged “oh-no-we-are-late” looks and one of us told, “Ma’am may we come in?” The class which was totally hooked to madam’s lecture was startled by our interruption. We could even see backbenchers giggling among themselves. I felt really embarrassed. But then it was mentioned in the time table that the inaugural lecture was supposed to commence at 11 am. We are only 5 minutes late. Madam looked at us, she didn’t question, she glanced at her watch and told “okay class, we will continue tomorrow” and she got up to leave. We four exchanged puzzled looks. “Get inside”, madam said and left. 

We four got inside, but we were greeted by startled looks, “who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here” looks. We four settled in and looked left and right to see many familiar faces. Finally, I spotted a familiar face and waved my hand. She was my school senior, she too noticed me and waved back. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Di, actually I,..”, before I could complete, another madam entered the class. “Settle down class, we have to cover two important topics today,” she said in an urgent tone. Without any delay, she started taking attendance (Ravenshaw University is still strict regarding attendance). After finishing with the left block, she signaled the right block for attendance. We four exchanged nervous glances because we didn’t have identity cards or roll numbers!

Meanwhile, it was our turn. “Yes, your roll number”, she asked my friend. “Ma’am I don’t know”, my friend replied in a feeble voice. “What do you mean by I don’t know? Anyways yes, next”, said madam in a hurried tone. “Ma’am I don’t know my roll no”, another friend of mine replied. “What? And you?”  Madam signaled me. “You too don’t know your roll number,” she asked sharply. “No ma’am” I replied. “You all are from which department? Where are your identity cards? Wait a minute, are you all freshers??” She asked us, nearly getting up from her seat. “Yes ma’am”, four of us replied. We could hear indistinct chatter and feeble giggles from behind. “My my”, madam exclaimed. “This is the Second year, English Hons. Class, your lecture is in the Gallery No. 2 and this is Gallery No.3. Common hurry up, you guys are late.” Madam signaled us to leave and showed us the correct place. After we left the room, we could hear laughter and indistinct chatters all through the stairs. Before we could catch our breath, madam had asked an office staff to accompany us to the destination. Had he not accompanied, we would have never reached the Gallery. Because we were new there and the campus was huge and lots of short-cut paths and ways puzzled us. 

Finally, we reached the Gallery No. 2. It was 11:30am. We missed some parts of the inaugural session. But we got our identity cards, roll number, library card, and the syllabus. After nearly 40 minutes, the inaugural session ended. We met with a few familiar people, friends of friends. After that, we headed for the canteen, for a quick refreshment.  We had a hearty laugh, with what just happened. Then two of my friends left. I and my friend took a walk around the campus and then headed home. Thus, the eventful day came to an end. My first day in Ravenshaw University is truly memorable. 

SPECIAL FIRST TIMES!!!

First times are always special because they make you either confident in continuing what we want to do or they make us really scared to go ahead in that venture. There are many things that have gone well for me when I think of my first times. Although there have been goof-ups too, sometimes because of me and other times not. 

The very first memory that I have of a goof-up is when I was going to the school in Dehradun for the first time. I was born in Gujrat and my parents had been staying there for almost 18 years. When I was 6 years old, my father got transferred to Dehradun and we packed our bags to come to this new city which was quite different. My father and one of his colleagues had got the transfer together and hence we were travelling together. I was 6 ready to go in 1st standard and my sister was 13 ready to go in 9th standard. And the other family also had two kids – elder one going to go in 4th standard and younger one was my age. 

We had shifted mid-session so getting admissions in the school was a challenge. Somehow we managed to get admission in a school named Scholar’s Home which had 3 branches. The farthest branch was quite far off where my sister was supposed to go since she was going to High School. The first branch was quite a big school but we did not get admission there, we younger ones got the admission in the second branch which was only the Primary school. The schools were quite far off from our home and there was a school bus that would take us there. 

I don’t remember a lot of it but I remember being dead scared. It was a brand new city, new school and away from home. I don’t know if I cried but I know that the only relief I had was that I was not alone going to that school. So, the goof-up happened when the bus conductor got confused about which branch he is supposed to drop us at. There were no mobile phones or landlines at that time. My sister was on the other bus. We three kids got dropped at the first branch which was not the school we were supposed to be at. I remember kept telling the bus conductor that I don’t think this is where we are supposed to be, but who takes a 6-year-old seriously? 

As soon as we came in, the teachers were surprised to see us as we weren’t even expected. I started crying and so did the other two kids with me. We spent the whole day sitting in the Principal’s office. There was no way they could get the confirmation from anywhere either our parents or the other school. We did not know which bus to take us back home, so we waited for long 6 hours or so for the school to get over. Once the school got over, we were escorted to the school bus. The bus was waiting there and I was so relieved to see my sister on the bus. I remember telling her the whole story and then repeating it for my parents multiple times about what really happened. I don’t know how scared or worried they got. 

Now as a parent, I feel that it was a pretty bad goof-up. We could have been lost and I can imagine the state of my parents once they came to know what really happened. Later on, till the time I was at that school – it was a pretty funny story to tell other kids that how I got dropped at the wrong school.

The first-time event isn’t always goof ups. They are also memories for a lifetime. And there is one more first time that I would like to share which was rather special – it was the first time I travelled abroad. It was an official trip to the US and I was just 22 years of age. That opportunity was rather an unexpected one but I was quite thrilled that I got a chance to stay there for 3 months. During the journey, I kept listening to the song from the movie Chak de – “Badal pe paon hai”. It did feel like I am cloud 9 and everything around was so very exciting. The first experience of explaining a Mc Donald’s cashier that I wanted to have a vegetarian burger was quite funny. After a while, I asked them if they could make a burger without meat and the lady looked at me as if I had asked for all the trash in the restaurant. Just by her look, I left the place after having fries and coke. 

At the Denver airport, I was quite nervous at the security check for a simple reason that I had to take a domestic flight now. I had heard quite a lot about their security checks. I did the regular drill of taking off the shoes, socks, coat, specs, etc. Unfortunately, my mobile was still in my pocket. So when I went through the metal detector, it beeped. And I realized that those guys take the metal detector beeps way seriously than I had ever seen. The security personnel there looked quite scary and he asked me to step back. In all my nervousness, I did not understand him at all. He had to say this thrice for me to get it and my eyes were fixated on the gun that he had taken out because I wasn’t listening to him. Of course, once I stepped back they checked me thoroughly only to find a harmless innocent mobile in my pocket and then they let go of me. I was trembling by the time all this got over, but now I knew how to handle the security there. The more nervous you are, the more trouble you are in.

We were a group of Indians working together on a project while my first stay in the US. Our project manager was an old American lady who was a workaholic. She once came to me and said – “Prabhjot, I have trouble communicating with some of our colleagues”. I was a bit puzzled if my friends were in some trouble. 

She said “Every time I ask a question to Anand, he always nods his head sideways. I cannot make out if he is saying a Yes or a No. What does it really mean?” 

I couldn’t help but laugh at this. She was sincerely quite embarrassed in asking this question and it was her first time working with Indians. I told her it is not just you, we Indians also get confused with each other. And then I had to tell my manager to sensitize the team to not use nods and communicate very clearly in Yes or No. 

Well, first times are special. Not just first time events but also the first time objects are super special – like first salary, first address of your own, first house, first car, first pet and the list goes own. My husband gets quite frustrated every time we cross the ATM where I withdrew my first salary from – because I always remind him that this is the ATM where I saw so much money in my account for the first time and what a thrill it was.

WHEN THE CHAOS IN ME FOUND BALANCE

When we say that words have the power to heal, it is not merely another cliched statement. I am thoroughly convinced of this realization. I have always enjoyed reading more than writing until lately when writing has turned my source of catharsis. During my childhood, writing even an essay caused a frown on my face for I always lacked expression and my words failed to gather any attention. I did write at times but they were meant for a diary. It was used to vent out my frustration whenever I secured low marks or the homely anguish troubled me. Other than that, writing didn’t come naturally to me. However, it is an irony that today I find both pleasure and solace in writing.

Just like many others, I resorted to writing when depression struck me and I felt no one could understand me better. It was like there was an earnest need to get things out of me as I felt that I was growing hollow day by day. Blogging has actually been the best decision of my life since the support I got from the writing world has been amazing. I don’t mean assistance in literal terms of flowering comments and appreciation but their consistent presence that asserted I am not alone helped me to recover soon.

Pouring my heart out clears the toxins out of my chaotic mind and lightens my soul. The best part is that writing gives full liberty to create an illusionary world where I can not only dream anything fancy but can also fly. Earlier it was difficult for me to think positive and maybe even today my poems end on a sad note most of the times. However, I can say my sufferings have reduced substantially for writing actually works as a therapy. It has even enabled me to see the beauty in things which made no sense a few years back. When the ink bleeds, it actually breaks the walls that we build around us to avoid further hurt from penetrating. For writing brings along the gift of acceptance melting the heart to even perceive others’ sorrows.

Initially, I wrote about my pain, my miseries, and my preferences. However, when nature around started affecting me positively, my words gradually drifted towards the colours beyond white and black, reflecting joy. My writings are evolving day by day as now I have developed linking the observations beyond my personal experiences thereby empathising with others’ circumstances. Every element of nature be it living or non-living has now meaning for me as if it all symbolizes something ethereal. It is certainly a fact that our words can create an impact only when they are poignant enough to affect us deeply and we are fully convinced.

Whether we write about the demons scaring us or the fairies in heaven, it reflects the exquisite mental state and our position of the heart. Whenever we articulate the stories or poems depicting verity wrapped in ornamental words, it becomes more appealing. Just like the words have the power to rescue us from the chaotic world, they also have the potential to strike the reality hard on the face. Writing has always driven me forward while helping me to reminisce the bad times like a good memory. No sooner than our words start leaving footprints than we realize that this talent needs to be utilized for healing than reminding people of their scars. With this, I conclude by saying that writing actually helps our own selves before acting as a support system for others. Thus, we need not be mindful of what we write for it is actually necessary to vent it out before we fill rivers with our tears!

SEEING THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY

I was never a writer… I never thought I could write something that would interest others. It is thanks to two very important people in my life that I got into writing. 

Let’s begin from the starting…

As a kid I loved stories. My Dad used to buy so many books for me from book exhibitions. I had a great collection and I used to love reading and rereading them. My storybooks were my prized possessions. There were a lot of  Russian book exhibitions in our area so my collection had a great many stories of Czars and Czarinas. Whenever I read a story I always visualised it – the room, the ambiance, the characters, etc, I always formed a mental picture of the whole thing. This craze for books spilled over to my adolescence also. From Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys to Mills and Boons to Sydney Sheldon, Danielle Steele I guess my affair with books was lifelong. 

Coming back to the point, throughout this journey I never felt the urge to write. I was quite happy reading what others were churning out. My sister Prabhjot was actively writing for Candles Online. I don’t know what spark she saw in me and proposed my name to Chiradeep. But it was only due to the coaxing and guidance and patience and perseverance of Chiradeep and Prabhjot that I became a blogger. They both saw something in me that I myself didn’t.

Writing changed my life in many many ways. I was very bogged down by the daily mundane chores of my life. Life was just routine and not exciting. Writing for Candles changed that. Just the fact that the people were reading what I wrote and commenting on it was exhilarating. The small little limelight that was shown on me boosted my confidence a great deal. 

Writing an article is never easy for me. I usually plan everything out in my mind and then start typing. Some days it easily flows and some days I get stuck at every word. But it’s a journey which is very fulfilling. It’s an outlet for my emotions. Because of my love for stories I use a lot of anecdotes for my articles. And the inspiration for these articles comes from people around me and my interactions with them. I have started looking at the world from a different perspective. After all, anything or anybody or any incident could be an inspiration for my next article. There is a story in every person I meet I just try to weave them into my articles and my thought process.

WRITING MY HEART OUT

Writing has put me to ease, always! Be it expressing my feelings in a better way or just venting out my feelings writing comes to my rescue. I started expressing via writing at a very early age. I was 13 yrs when 3 children from our school died in an accident while on their way to school. That was the first time I felt the need to let out my emotions through a poem. That poem was a tribute to those kids and it was so well received that the principal of our school had put it up on the notice board for days together for all to read. Those were the days when there were no school magazines or anything alike, hence the any of your contribution getting displayed on the notice board was a huge achievement.

Writing is therapeutic for me. I write when I am sad, I write when I am happy and I write when I am overwhelmed with my own life. I prefer to write mostly because you are always able to edit what you have written, unlike the words that you say. So writing my emotions out is the safest bet for me because I am dead sure that it is not going to hurt anyone.
Writing heals me you know. When my life had hit the rock bottom, it was writing that I resorted to. From poems I moved on to write about social issues, then short stories and then microblogging at Instagram. I let my distress make a way out of my mind through each blog that I posted. Every blog of me, every story that I wrote has a true part of me. This was a major catalyst in my life. It helped me tremendously when I was fighting infertility for years together followed by undergoing very difficult fertility treatments. I wrote about my loss – a loss that no mother is able to take. But writing it out gave me the strength to move forward.
I took to Instagram recently. Over there, I write about my IVF journey and I feel so good when some women reach out to me just to tell that they look up to me as a role model and hope that they will be able to overcome infertility like me. Some ping me to ask about infertility doctors and some others ping only to pour their heart out. I am so blessed that God has given me this art which helps me touch a distressed life and provide comfort or motivation to them. I am also working on creating my own website and I am hoping to put up such content there which will make a positive change to women like me who crave and pray for having a baby. Wish me luck with that!
I wanted to do a career in writing but the accounting bug bit me and I turned in to an accountant now punching numbers to balance sheet and P&L day and night and words only playing on my mind all the time.
I can not end this emotional outpour without mentioning about two people. I met two wonderful people who took my writing interest to the next level in the form of blogging. Those two people are none other than Savio (he joined Candles Online recently) and our very own Charlie. The encouragement that I have for from these two is incredible. So a big big thank you to Savio and Charlie for being a constant support and a critic. You have always helped me improve. And all of you – my extended blogging family who take time out to read my articles and blogs, I can’t thank you enough! Your likes and comments on my post cheer me up to no extent.
I would like to take your leave with a very inspiring quote from Maya Angelou in her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings –
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Happy writing guys! 🙂

WRITING CURED MY SANITY

Ever since I became a mother, I was completely lost. It was like a new era of my life, that confused me to the core. For one moment I wanted to be a perfect mom, the next moment I lost it with my impatience. It took me so long to understand that there is nothing like a “perfect mom”. We all do some or the other way to be a good mom or maybe an average – but motherhood is not measured using a scorecard. Exactly this is what I learned as my first lesson from the time I began to write. It helped me burst the sanity of perfection and much more.

And all I began to do is love my kids with all my heart. People might point fingers at me for being so insane. But I was enjoying it to the core. The moment I shed a cloak of sanity and trying to fit in, I was happier and merrier.

It was all the moment I began to share my experiences. It showed me that I was not just alone in the world dealing with the same issues. And I could literally enjoy the moments of my life.

woman reading book
Photo by Joy Deb on Pexels.com

I am not an avid reader, but I love reading.  If I could recollect the first book I read -it was Matilda – the story of a little girl with unlimited dreams. I was more like her, but with much more limitations to succeed. Earlier the thoughts were cluttered in my head. And all I did was just think – rethink-think and again re-think polishing it a little bit. At times it confuses my present and the past. The moment I began to write the thoughts cloud reduced to minute ones, as my thoughts began to float in my words. It was a turning point in my life.

Writing has befriended me like no one ever can. I could weave my dreams, realisation, achievements and even my limitations in a better way. I could write even when I was judged many times. It helped to boost my confidence, making me realise a hidden potential in me.

The more I write, the more I feel relieved.

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Finally, during my times of depression, especially the one’s most ladies can’t wade off – the postpartum depressions- writing helped to build a career in my life. Even when the pay off was not so grand, I enjoyed every bit of appreciation that occurred to me.

In a way, writing helped me discover a hidden me, who was in great slumber.

My key advice to newbies would be, keep writing, never stop your pen from bleeding. Do not be discouraged by unwanted comments. Just ignore it and move on. You have better things to listen to.

Writing is discovering your insanity and then embracing it. This is how my SoulRecitals was born.

Happy Reading And Writing!!!