BOREDOM PROMPTED ME TO EXPLORE

Bearing a tag – ‘Fragile: Handle with Care‘, I lived my whole life till I stepped on the soil of the City of Joy – Kolkata in the year 2001. Till then I had lived my life amidst close relatives and family in a very cozy and warm atmosphere. I had never done anything on my own or went outside alone. But in Kolkata, the challenges were new and difficult for me to face. After office time I had nothing to do but to read books, write something or study Bible. There was no one to speak with, no one to play anything or nothing to do that would entertain me, or nowhere to go as I had no idea about this new city and I was all alone. Soon, I was dragged into a depressive shell called Boredom.

In those initial days at Kolkata, weekdays were manageable as I kept myself busy at the office during the day time till 6 PM and somehow managed the evenings till bedtime. Sundays were also okay as there were church services till afternoon which kept me engaged. But Saturdays were worst. There were no office or church services on Saturdays except my lonely world called, Boredom.

Every time I woke up on a Saturday morning, I had one worry, ‘How to finish this day as soon as possible?’ But every time, I ended up dwelling in that uncomfortable shell called, Boredom without stepping out of my comfort zone.

But one Saturday, I decided otherwise. I wanted to break free by breaking the shell of Fear and Boredom within which I had been dwelling for a long time. I decided to take that first step in my life by stepping out of my dwelling place called Boredom which actually prompted me to go out and explore; explore something new and challenging for me at that moment of my life, something I had never done before on my own.

I remember, I told my mom, “I am going out to roam and around the city as I am feeling so bored”. My mom was aware of the plight of a 25-year-old man who had been spending all his life with a lot of restrictions and obstructions which had actually cringed him in a dungeon called, Boredom.

I took a rickshaw and went till the main road and took a taxi from there. When the taxi driver asked me where to go, I replied, “I don’t know. Take me wherever you think best for me to feel elated and happy but within Rs. 200, I should be here at this place, safe and sound.” Rs. 200 was like Rs.2000 for me at that particular moment and I had that much only with me to pay, attempting to kill Fear and Boredom in one go.

The taxi driver was a compassionate man. He understood my heart and responded well, “You must have already known and seen Howrah bridge, so I will take you to another bridge which is a new one and called, Vidyasagar Setu”. I nodded without saying a word as my heart responded to him loudly, “Thank you! But know that, I am at your mercy“.

He took me there, on that bridge which was way beautiful than any other bridge that I had ever seen till that time. When he brought me back to my place, I remember, I paid him Rs.170.00 but we both were extremely happy which were priceless. I was happy for taking the first step to come out of my Boredom and explore the city all alone for the first time, and he was happy for being that change agent in my life.

Captured by me: The road leading to Vidyasagar Setu

Many years later, when I had the opportunity to capture the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu, I remembered how I explored it in 2001, all by myself.

Captured by me: A glimpse of Vidyasagar Setu

I had been to Vidyasagar Setu a number of times in the last 20 years of my life in Kolkata but that first trip to Vidyasagar Setu will always be my favourite one till the end.

Captured by me: Crossing over the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu

Every boredom prompts something to explore. If your boredom doesn’t prompt you to explore then remember you are not bored but actually enjoying where you are.

Today, due to my health condition, I don’t go out much but I found other avenues or have explored something else to get out of my boredom. But all these mini or big explorations have always made me happy and kept me joyful instead of dwelling in depression and boredom. And I will quote that same Bible verse again which has always encouraged and prompted me to explore – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” We can not make use of our ideas, intellect when we are dead. We can utilise them only when we are alive and our God wants us to be happy and joyous in life, kicking off a life of grumbling and complaints. With this thought in my mind, I had initiated and gave birth to my child – Candles in 2006 and I am so happy to write this article today, which is the 2000th post published on Candles Online.

So friends! Never dwell in depression or boredom but be prompt to take the first step and come out of that shell called, Fear and Boredom to lead a joyful and cheerful life.

Stay blessed!

FIRST STEPS ARE NOT ALWAYS CAKEWALKS!

Escapades from the din and humdrum of routine life are fun, exciting, adventurous, a tad scary at times and offer elements of surprise that one would cherish or banish from memory forever. A first step taken either literally or symbolically in any avenue is more often than not, a step to remember – especially if you had been scared to take that step.

To kickstart this week’s topic – ‘Taking that first step . . . when you were afraid’, let me share one such fun episode from more than a decade before.

I was in the University pursuing my Post Graduation. The famous apparel chain Pantaloons had just opened their first outlet in Bhubaneswar. My University being just a few kilometers away, my friends and I decided to pay a visit after classes got over one day. We were excited, especially because there weren’t too many big brand outlets and malls in the city that time.

We weren’t disappointed! The stock of apparels and accessories pleased our eyes, though being students still, we didn’t have much money at our disposal to splurge. Once we were done with the ground floor, it was time to move up to explore what the other two floors had in store. There came the catch! Having been designed as a mini-mall of sorts sans food court, there were escalators to ferry customers to and from each floor. No staircase. No lift.

My first exposure to an escalator and the accompanying hesitation to take the first step! One by one all my friends stepped on the escalator and reached the first floor while I was still stuck in the ground floor. Somehow, I couldn’t muster enough courage to take that first step. My friends soon realised that I wasn’t with them and called out to me, to which I simply gave the excuse that I had to explore a few more collections in the ground floor.

After some time when I still didn’t reach up to the first floor, one of my friends understood the reason. It was very sweet on her part to come down to the ground floor, hold my hand and take me to the escalator – all the way assuring that she would be going up with me holding my hand. And, that is just what she did!

Lo! We reached the first floor hand in hand and joined the others in exploring the stuff there. The same friend held my hand while descending from the first floor to the ground floor as well. The others who had by that time known what had kept me downstairs, went down and and encouraged me to do so. But, this friend stayed back, held my hand, stepped on the escalator with me and gave me the courage to move downstairs.

It has been more than a decade to that first exposure to an escalator. Surely, I don’t spare a second before stepping onto escalators now! But, the memory of that first step sure makes me chuckle 🙂

As I stepped out of Pantaloons that evening thanking my friend endlessly for lending her hand to help me overcome my fear, I learnt a very important life lesson – first steps aren’t always cakewalks!

Across life’s pathways, being sensitive to others’ first steps helps makes the journey pleasant for them. At times encouragement from a distance helps. But at a few other times, what is needed is to extend the hand to hold on to and take the step together. It helps address the inner fear and the accompanying hesitation along with providing the confidence and the courage for an independent step in the future.

Coming to escalators, now that I don’t bat an eyelid before using escalators, I always look out for people who might be in the same place that I was years before and extend them a hand with a few words of courage. I am grateful to God for teaching me such a vital lesson from the experience that day and also for reminding me how He holds my hand across life’s myriad pathways with His promises – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you . . .”

So yes, a fun outing turned into a vital learning that day. To be sensitive and respond to someone’s inner fear of the first step does more than you can think of in many ways. It helps keep your conscience alive and responsive (that’s to your benefit) and helps the other person reach a new level of confidence along with accomplishing the immediate goal at hand.

 And if you are a person hesitant or afraid to take a first step in any area of your life – literally or otherwise, I would like to encourage you that a helping hand would soon come by. Don’t stop . . . move on!

DON’T LET YOUR PROBLEMS PUSH YOU

Inspiration – a word that awakens a person’s soul and motivates to find a way from apathy to probability. It helps us to transcend our ability and find new possibilities. Ability and effort may lead you to success but without inspiration, we can’t think out of the box. If you look into the life of successful people you will find, they were just ordinary humans before they found inspiration. They struggled and faced so many problems but never gave up. Not only successful people but ordinary people too, go through the same. And so did Deepa.

I was in school when I first met this beautiful and an extraordinary girl, Deepika. She was a class junior to me. We fondly called her Deepa. She is a girl of tremendous courage and will-power. Her dusky skin tone, playful smile, and captivating eyes make her look like an angel. When I first met Deepa, we were going to a youth festival. I didn’t know who she was. Just before reaching the venue, I came to know Deepa had lost her right hand in an accident years ago. The accident took away her hand but never broke her spirit. It was late at night when we reached the venue. I saw she was carrying her bag all by herself.

The next day, I saw her rehearsing for her dance. The way she danced, had so much elegance and beauty in it. She danced her heart out and smiled with every twirl. Her feet never missed a beat. I admired her dance and expressions. While getting ready for her performance, she did her make-up so well. However, Deepa never needed any make-up. Her face always beamed with self-confidence and enthusiasm. While she danced, the whole audience applauded for her splendid performance.

While we were sitting together, I asked her how does she manage everything. She replied, “just like you do.” I was so impressed by her.

It was a three-days event and we stayed together. I witnessed how she managed everything gracefully. Deepa never seemed weak and never expected any sympathy or pity.

The next time when I saw her, it was the annual day function. She looked no less than an epitome of beauty. She hugged me as soon as she spotted me. I asked her whereabouts and asked her if she is performing or not. She said, “I am the lead dancer.”

She never fails to motivate and inspire me.

Today, I see her pictures on Facebook. She looks so gorgeous and full of life. If you look at her, you will surely fall in love with the spirit of this girl. We are not in touch and I don’t know if you are reading this Deepika but yes, you must know one thing, you made me realize it’s our willpower and determination that makes us beautiful. I learned, one should never give up. As long as, I stayed with you at the youth festival, I never saw a lack of energy in you. In fact, you were the most active person.

God bless you, dearie. I don’t know what are your dreams but I do know, you are a true example of women empowerment and will reach untold heights. I wish you all the best.

We, humans, tend to lose hope so easily. We cry over the spilled milk. Why can’t we focus on negating our problems and working on our gray areas? Unless we don’t accept our flaws and embrace our problems, life is never going to be beautiful. One should always look forth with confidence and determination. People who can look ahead will always find a ray of hope even in the darkest of time. One should never get pushed by problems, instead, be led by your dreams.

HOPE IS ALL WE CAN

Going to the bed,
With the hope of a brand new day,
Promising to start afresh,
Without knowing what the life has to say.

Building castles, booking travels,
With the hope of reaping the benefits,
With the hope of rejoicing the places,
Savouring without bothering,
A U-turn life may be offering.

Holding the egg for 9 months whole,
With the hope of getting nature’s dole,
The Baya weaves its nest,
with the hope that the wind will rest.

Life doesn’t stop,
It doesn’t stand still.
Hope anchors our souls,
It strengthens our will.

Tomorrow may bring dark,
It may bring light.
Hope for the best because,
The sun will always shine.
For the best because,
Hope is all we can.

BEYOND THE DOORPOST

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here.

 

Numerous times a day did I hear,
These lines from my mother dear.


Unaware what she meant exactly,
I often sulked dejectedly.

 

The house and the square courtyard,
Was all that I had to myself under everyone’s surveillant guard.

I loved my family,
So dared not march towards anomaly.


But their fears unspoken deep within,
And tears unshed bothered me day out and day in.


Courage had I none,
To venture out and have some fun.


The open skies beckoned with their serenity untold
The lush green orchards how I wished to behold!

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here.

 

Leaving behind the years of tender childhood,
As a young man I one day stood.


Shaking my fist and bellowing loud,
I threatened to go past the ominous doorpost.


Quiet silence surrounded me,
Sad lowered eyes refused to look up at me.

A sudden gust of wind,
Brought traces of noise from outside.


In no time was a flurry of stones pelted on the windows freshly painted,
Gun shots and fire – hearing which my mother fainted.


Hours went by as we stayed securely in,
Hoping it would stop and we would save our skin.

 

The night brought with it a silence so eerie,
I heard my father step into my room with eyes bleary.

The night was long with stories of attacks ghastly,
Of lives lost and families ruined.


Of women violated,
Kids killed and mutilated.


The reason for years of safeguarding,
Now clearly stood at my face staring.

 

Clutching my blanket close to myself,
I looked at my father’s retreating poor self.

Blood seemed to gush from my veins,
And the brain threatened to hold the reins.

 

Sleep eluded . . .
Thoughts crowded . . .


As the clock struck six,
I tip-toed down the staircase.

 

Looking back at my loved ones,
Would weaken my resolution.

I looked ahead and opened the latch above my head,
Taking a deep breath I slipped out . . .

 

Beyond the doorpost . . .
Into the darkness that my mother had guarded me against, the most.

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here!

 

 

(P.S. Written from the viewpoint of a youngster in a violent conflict zone of war and extremism)

Quote of the day

When life knocks you down, it’s you who has to roll on and gather up the courage to look up high at the sky.

Quote of the day

Acceptance of being guilty and wrong requires far more courage than fighting an obvious enemy.