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. 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.

The Bible

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.  

A SWEET AND SALTY RELATIONSHIP

It was 21st December 2008 when my husband came to see me for the first time with his parents. Yes, we chose the traditional route of arranged marriage 😁. We were nervous as hell, hardly speaking anything, just occasional glances at each other in a room full of people. “Why don’t you guys take some alone time and talk?” Proposed my Uncle. The would-be groom sprang out of his chair exhibiting both his nervousness, anxiety and eagerness to strike a conversation. We decided to go to the nearby temple. We commenced our stroll and conversation. Our dialogues were borderline whispers 😁. As we were about to enter the temple an old lady begged for some alms. And I am not sure what was going on in his mind or that was a completely unmindful action, he handed a currency note Re.500. To this date, we have a hearty laugh about it. My brother and cousin joked about that incident “how we wish we disguised ourselves and were at the place of old lady, we could have received a hefty note”.

That was the first meeting, first conversation, first weirdly sweet incident. Then both the families (of course with our consent) agreed to carry forward this alliance and culminate into the sacred institution of marriage. We got engaged on May, 16th, 2009. We had a distant courtship period before we tied knot in the month of August same year.

Be it the courtship period or time frame after marriage till there’s an addition in the family (2nd August 2011), life if photo framed would be nothing less than picture-perfect. Stealing glances when surrounded by people attending different functions organised by the families not the newlyweds, holding hands beneath the tables 🤗🤫), discovering the person you are hitched with, late-night movies, lazy weekends, long strolls in the neighbourhood, outings…….. Yes, it was all candyfloss and rose-tinted!!!

When did things change? As the life of every married couple, ours too took a turn when we had our son, our first child. The idea of romance isn’t anymore the same. In fact, romance either takes a back seat or cease to exist completely. Its Love – for family, for kids, for the spouse that comes to the fore in ways that need the heart to understand the underlying emotion. To begin with, we were not together for the first eight months due to visa issues. Restlessness and eagerness to see each other was riding a high tide. And when we finally met we realized we are set to play a different ball game altogether – Parenting. The levels of frustration of sleepless nights could unleash havoc in relationships. With more planning going into every aspect of life – from grocery list to life insurance plans tensions do knock the doors. Postpartum depression definitely needs a mention here. I had severe mood swings, I would cry for trivial things, but my husband had my back. The best thing or say one of the best things about him is that he is quite easy going when it comes to how our home is kept. Even to this day when we are running into our 12 years of marriage and having two beautiful kids, he would say “take care, relax, sleep. Chores can be winded up later, health comes first”. That takes off a lot of pressure of running around and racing against the clock tidying up things. As much as he doesn’t give undue importance to the chores being done he doesn’t even pin-up his expectations or demands to the way I look. I was once almost like a big bag stacked with potatoes, but never did once his attentions deviated from me. If loyalty has a face, it’s him (I know the password to his phone and he leaves the phone without worrying 😂😉). He never ceased to take a stand, support and talk for what is right without any bias. And what else a woman can ask for.

Then what is Salty ( sour or bitter for that matter)? Yes, I’m coming to that part of our relationship. I would be a liar of higher-order if I say there’s nothing wrong in our relationship or us as human beings. My flaw is that I am extremely emotional and me getting swayed by emotions is no it new. And I see things through the tinted glass of emotions that can paint things differently than what they are. And making the situation worse is sudden flared up tempers of my husband. In the spur of the moment, he could say some really mean things which otherwise he never meant or never had any place in his psyche. When such extremes collide the air could be lot volatile at home. There have been situations when we would go simply silent for a couple of days just because he uttered something uncalled for and my emotional quotient being high decline to take it the other way than what I perceive. A constant feeling of breaking free brews inside (I am talking about myself) during those moments. I surely can’t give complete detailing of our conflicts as washing dirty linen in public isn’t a done thing 😁 and obviously dirty linen is an every household thing, isn’t it?😜

Then Still Continuing? Yes of course and going strong. These 12 years have taught me a few important lessons on life, love, commitment, respect and completing each other. My husband at the end of each of our clash says just one thing “you tend to remember the words that I never meant but blurted out in the fit of rage but forget my actions that I wholeheartedly mean”. Be it taking a stand for me even if I mean going against his family, be it encouraging me to learn something new at every step, giving my health importance over any other thing, most importantly being loyal to me – my husband surely got qualities that can negate or at least overshadow his shortcomings. After the first year of marriage I never saw him in an eternal romantic mood that I crave but also never saw him take his responsibilities lightly, doesn’t that qualify as love? And when love, loyalty, respect cohabitates there’s enough reason despite minuscule faults that we continue this journey together till death parts us away.

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!”  

LOVE – FORGIVENESS & JUSTICE EMBRACING EACH OTHER IN ONE PICTURE.

In my imaginative visit, I was in the shopping mall with my Dad and I got attracted towards the luxurious bone china made Nymphenburg Adonis dinnerware, as I proceed towards the crystal glass made dinnerware shelf, I thought to hold it and feel the touch but as a result, being a kid I was unable to balance the weight of the serving bowl and it fell from my hand.

The noise of breaking the bowl alarm the salesman, he yelled and took me to the manager. I was fined to pay the cost of the complete dinner set but I am just a kid, even it is impossible for me to have at least 50 bucks in my pocket, how can I pay Rs. 16,100/-.

At that point, my father had to jump into the picture to pay the wages of my mistake. He apologized to the manager, paid for my mistake and took me home. He was unhappy with my action yet he understood my weakness and absurdity.

As we drove back, he just smiled at me and said,

“SON, I EXPECT YOU WILL NOT REPEAT YOUR MISTAKE”.

MY HEART WILL GO ON…

Meera was a dusky, beautiful and introvert girl from a conservative family who was a fresher in Engg college when Manan saw her and fell for her head over heels, not wasting any time to woo her, win her heart, propose to her and persuade her to say yes with his charming looks and flamboyant ways in a way that she fell deeply in love with him.

The four years of college went by in a flurry as good times pass in a blink of an eye but they were the most beautiful four years of Meera’s life as her love and cared for Manan only kept growing manifolds with each passing day and she almost became a shadow to Manan, a point she marked by setting her ringtone to her favourite song “Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, Mera Saaya Saath Hoga…”, something she often hummed for him as she was an old school girl who loved old Hindi movie songs.

They both got placed in different jobs, in different cities and went their ways with promises to stay in touch and meet often but as luck would have it, on the first day of his new job, Manan met Kalandi, an outgoing, stunning fashionista who was a ball of energy and a complete contrast to Meera and Manan couldn’t help but get swept off his feet by her outspoken and candid personality and soon forgot about Meera.

He tried to keep things normal with Meera for first few months but she was quick to sense the change in his words and his tones and Manan knew he wouldn’t be able to hide his disinterest in Meera for long and one fateful day he broke the news of having met Kalandi to Meera who was crestfallen and devastated but keeping her dignity intact hung up the call in tears, never to call Manan again who was indeed quite relieved to have the burden off his chest.

Manan married Kalandi, had a blissful honeymoon in Greece and returned to start his new life with the women of his dreams but the thought of Meera and what he did to her never left him, it was eating him up from inside but he drowned the inner voice of his soul in living a buzzing and high life with Kalandi who knew nothing about Meera and Manan nor bothered to tell her about his affair with Meera neither ever tried to know what became of Meera.

A couple of months later Kalandi fell ill as was admitted to the hospital where she recovered within a week and was discharged soon, but she was no more the same girl whom he married, intact she was becoming more and more like Meera with each passing day and that made Manan restless to the limits that he tried to enquire about Meera finally But was only met with dead ends.

A week later Manan was sitting in a cab on his way to office, already troubled by Kalindi’s behaviour, when he picked a discarded newspaper from the next seat and started reading it when his eyes habitually fell on the obituary section, and him was shocked to see Meera’s obituary who committed suicide a fortnight ago, Manan was overcome by nausea and immediately called Kalandi but the phone fell from his hand on hearing her new caller tune that rang in his ears….

“Tu agar udaas hoga, To udaas hongi Main bhi…
Nazar Aaj ya na aau, Tere paas hongi Main bhi…
Tu Kahin bhi Jaa rahega, Mera saaya saath hoga…
Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, Mera saath saath hoga…”

(Should you ever become sad, then it will make me sad too because I desire to share your sorrow,
Whether you see me or not, I will always stand by you,
Wherever you live where you stay, I will always follow you; I can’t let you feel alone.
Wherever you go my essence shall follow you…)

ONE LAST TIME

He puffed a cigarette and exhaled a circle of smoke hoping to see her on the other side with a pinched nose and her hand waving to break this smoky cloud.

He wanted to hear her say one last time, “Sweeto, I am telling you I will really dump you if you don’t quit smoking.”

But it was too late, she had quit him before he could quit smoking. She had quit this world and vanished into the smoke that rose from the dead.

Life may not give you a second chance. Be good and do good.

DO IT NOW.