A FLASHBACK

When Charlie sent this picture to me, I remembered my childhood days. I mean, what a coincidence! The picture depicts my childhood. 

It has two kids and a real cycle down there. I and my cousin would ride a bicycle with the same expression. It was my childhood dream to own a bicycle. I never had one and this always made me feel inferior. I used to see my friends and cousins riding their new and colorful bicycle. It is not that my parents couldn’t afford one but they had priorities. They thought to pay my school fees and buying me a new school uniform was way too important than buying a bicycle. 

Whenever I sat on the back of my uncle’s bicycle, I felt as if I am on the top of the world. I used to sing whole way and never wished the ride to end. Some days, I used to throw tantrums for not eating food and weeping until my uncle would promise me for a bicycle ride. Such a drama queen I was!

Anyways, I used to ride my cousin’s bicycle. He was around 4 years old and I was around 9. He knew I don’t have one and how fond I am of a bicycle, so he asked me to ride his bicycle. But I didn’t know how to ride. I fell down every time. I would come home with skinned elbows and knees. My aunt would scold me for this. 

(Image Credit: Pixabay.com)

Then one day my cousin told, “Di today I will help you in riding the bicycle. Come sit and I will give you the support.” That evening, my Grandpa came out of the house and saw me trying my best to not to fall from the bicycle. He said, “Sit, I will hold the bicycle from behind and you have to put one foot on the paddle and then after paddling put the second.” I followed his instruction and to my utter surprise, this time I didn’t fall. I rode the bicycle for a complete 2 minutes and this was my biggest achievement till that day. I saw my cousin jumping happily. After that day, both of us would ride together. He used to hold me tightly while sitting behind me on the bicycle.

There were five bicycles in our street. Those who had would come along with their bicycles and then we would ride each of them turn by turn. Life was so easier then and we were so happier those days. I remember we used to celebrate birthdays by giving permission to ride the bicycle for a complete 3 minutes and that person could take the bicycle down the street to the old lamp post. Sunday mornings were dedicated for cleaning the bicycle. We used to participate equally and with full enthusiasm for the cleaning program.

Presently, I still don’t have a bicycle. But now I don’t feel pity or inferior. Because I have those memories where we used to share our belongings with each other.

These days, we are not willing to spare some time for people, forget about the belongings. If anyone parks his/her vehicle under our house, in no time we yell at them. In fact, if somebody asks for a lift or a ride, our calm expression turns into a frowning one. Even when someone asks for our help or assistance to do work, we pay no heed. We feel blaming others for our failure is easier. 

But we must keep in our mind once we welcome people with an open heart all the bitterness that we hold in our heart will vanish like a vapor. 

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LET THEM GET DIRTY, LET THEM EXPLORE

Those tiny little feet are a bundle of joy. We do our best to take care of the little baby in the house, from massaging to cleaning, from caring and pampering to child-proofing the house. But, as the little baby grows up old enough, we forget that the tiny baby isn’t tiny anymore. Instead of making her/him independent, we go overboard in making the child dependant on us for every little thing. Why?  Simply because we fear that they might not be able to do themselves or think that doing things for them is easier than making them learn themselves. And as our little children grow up into adults, we expect them to take their own responsibility themselves and make decisions themselves.

(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

Look into the picture, the soft pink feet of the baby are covered in sand. As the child learns to walk, those always so clean feet and legs are bound to get dirty. As the infant becomes a toddler and starts tottering, she/he is likely to get some bruises. So, should we stop putting the baby on the ground or the floor?

The answer is simply no. We can’t lock their exploring bodies and creative minds for the sake of safety. Children can’t learn unless they have hands-on experience.

It’s better to let them fall so that they learn how to succeed from their failures.  Instead of giving into their wants, make them learn how to wait and let them learn how to deal with NOs in their lives.

HE MAKES, BREAKS AND SHAPES US

In the church, we usually share our praise points and prayer points so that we can praise God for all the good things He had done in our lives and pray for all our needs along with the whole congregation. Last week, I stood up to share my heart, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I said, “I am thinking why I am living on this earth if I am causing so much pain to others.”

It was my hurt and my anger made me pour my heart like that in front of all but I kept on speaking quoting one verse from the Bible which reads, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” This verse let me understand that God owns everything and if He can establish the whole creation on the seas and on the waters then He can surely establish me on any difficult path. Remember, the very nature of water lets everything to drown in it yet, it was God who established His handy work on it. I was comforted soon afterward though my heart still hurts. 

(Picture Credit: Pixabay.com)

But when I saw this image God spoke in my heart again and I chose it for myself to reflect on it.

A potter takes the clay which is so easily moldable. He puts it on the wheel and spins it. The clay may be modeled by hand or fingers while the potter’s wheel spins. The raw moldable clay soon molded into different forms as directed or designed by the potter. After a pot is designed or given a form the potter dries it with fire to make it strong and usable.

What a beautiful picture it is…! It is like God shaping us as He wishes and defines our purposes on this earth.

I used to always grumble with God for creating me with such an ailment for which I had to suffer a lot and was held responsible for so many things which were not even in my hand. I used to question God when I was young. But later, He made me so strong that nothing had really shaken or discouraged me until the last few months. My present hurts and agony reminded me of my brokenness and how weak I am.

Yet… Yeah, Yet, I don’t lose hope on Him who says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” And lo and behold, today when I visited the potter’s house through this picture and saw how he was making something on the wheel. When the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 

Whoa!

We all are in The Potter’s hands. And we are all safe in His hands. He will make us, He will break us, He will shape us into beautiful pots to be used beautifully in this earth and the life to come for eternity.

Stay Blessed!

BLEND IN IS WHAT THEY SAY …

I cannot stand snakes. I hate them so much that even a picture of them makes me sick in the stomach. Lizards are very close in resemblance to snakes, but I somehow developed an interest in them. I might have been very young when I started reading articles and watching national geography documentaries. They can stick to any surface and crawl. Lizards are very interesting to me 🙂 

Lizards are the most common species on earth, found at every possible place including our houses. Antartica is an exception. They live in rain-forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, and even on trees and shrubs. There are more than 6000 varieties of lizards. Of all these, I am very fascinated by Chameleons. Chameleons are the variety that changes color in a jiffy. pink, red, orange, green, blue, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. If you won’t get scared of watching lizards, then please watch this.  

There are certain interesting facts about lizards. Broadly, lizards are characterized into three color groups. I believe they are yellow, blue and brown/black. Each of these colors means compassionate, playboy, loyal. Interestingly the females mate with the species that are low in number in their vegetation to prevent extinction. By doing this, they preserved all three species successfully for the last 200 years. 

Lizard is the species which has the highest tensile muscle among all living species. It’s their tongue. Like snakes, lizards also smell with their tongue and do not have ears. To catch the prey, lizard lets out a small portion of its tongue to smell the surroundings. Once it finds the prey, it releases its tongue at a speed of 225mph. I would recommend watching that in slow motion 🙂 Lizards come in various sizes. The ones that are larger in size are the ones considered to be harmful to humans otherwise lizards are harmless. 

I can go on and on writing about them, but, let me tell you a funny encounter with lizards. I am not sure if it’s funny because it is going to have a sad ending. End of last year I went on a holiday for two weeks. By the time I returned home, there were not one, not two but three lizards in my kitchen. I was not scared when I saw them, somehow it felt very weird to be cooking in the kitchen where lizards are moving freely. How many days can I go without cooking? I had to find a way to get rid of them. I have no idea how to get rid of them. What’s the one thing that usually saves us? Google. Yes, I started googling to find out how to get rid of lizards. There were several remedies like peacock feathers, camphor etc. After failed trials for two weeks, I had no option but the forcefully send them out. I cleaned up the entire kitchen counter, placed back all jars into the cabinets. I tried using the broomstick and duster, but it was another failure.. 

Unable to find out any remedy, I contemplated if I should kill them. This fight went on for two days. I had no clue how to kill them either. Trust me, I tried various cleaning solutions, sprays possible. At last, what worked was cockroach spray. It worked but I had to see the lizard suffer. The tail portion of the lizard separated from its body and just like octopus tentacles it was moving even after it was separated for more than a minute. Trust me, it wasn’t easy killing those. I couldn’t sleep for a few days but I had no other option. 

If any of you are petting a lizard, please excuse me for killing them. I feel sorry for them as well. As much as possible I am not going to do this again. From next time I would be careful to not let lizards than having to get rid of them later. Any ideas for this would be appreciated. I like lizards but I don’t think I would ever pet one. Though what I could learn from them is to adapt to situations around. It makes a lot of sense considering how bad the world around is now-a-days . Either we should stand out or blend in. By this, I do not mean that we have to do bad things to fit in. Lizards only do that to not get noticed and become prey to their predators. 

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” 
― Raymond E. Feist

WISER, GREENER AND PEACEFUL CREATURE – FROGS

From my childhood whenever I think of the biology class, I remember the time I learned about the Amphibians. Interesting it was to learn about the famous amphibians -Frog. Little did I know then, that one day I would end up writing about them as a life lesson giver.

Yes !! You read it right, – they are indeed one of these creatures, who will overwhelm us, with their incredible teachings through their simple lifestyle.

Every night during the monsoon. in my native, I was kind of accustomed with the lullabies of these frogs all nights while I was put to sleep. Then as a child, I used to wonder, what exactly they might be saying or discussing. It was indeed a soothing way to sleep then, better than the honking sounds of the cars.

Often now, I do think the same- as I have never learnt their language…  It just goes Ribbit …Ribbit…Ribbit…Ribbit…

It seems that those little creatures have a lot to tell us. Let me put a quite few of them here:

Adaptable 

Being called amphibians, born in the water, swimming across in the water like tadpoles and then becoming a toad and leaping onto the land and living without any hesitation. Don’t’ you think they are brilliantly adaptable. Put them in the water they swim, put them on land, they just hop on. Being Adaptable to any situation whatever it might be the situation, is something one needs to learn from these slimy green toads.

Patience 

Frogs – Whenever we think of it, the first picture that comes to our mind is a hopping one. But to catch a prey, it just stays still for while access the surrounding and then waits for the right moment to catch it. It is not easy. Trust me, winning over with patience is the hardest thing one can ever do. And here also frogs excel us.

Enjoying serene space

Most of the time they just wait and be calm. It looks like as if they are relishing the serene beauty of the surrounding- like the mirror-like still pond.  We as humans prefer all the hustles and bustles of the city and we forget to appreciate the beauty of stillness. The frogs, step on to the lotus leaves and watch the beckoning stillness of nature.

Cherishing the simple joys

Gone are the days, we see kids playing in the rain and enjoying it. Look at the frogs, when it rains, it just doesn’t stand in the shade, but take a leap into the pouring rain. Relishing the simplest moments in life is something we need to do, and it stays forever.

Observant

Frogs stay still for a longer time and then observe the surroundings quite well. One can see, with the slightest movement, frogs tend to jump away from the leaf into the waters. Their observation power is far more efficient than the radar system I believe.

Even though they seem smaller just fitting into our palm, they teach us lessons worth a lifetime.  If you bound to explore the hidden nature, then you get to learn many obvious things to learn from it. Spending some time with nature itself makes life worth living.

Walk away into the luscious greenery and be bound to the fullness of being one among them. Let the creepers recite you the tales of their bonding with the trees they are creeping on to. Let the birds teach you the virtue of flying and let the ants teach you the efficiency of teamwork.

Keep your eyes and ears open, let nature communicate with you. 

APPEARANCE CAN BE DECEPTIVE

Earthworms – Ketchuain (Hindi), Vaanapaamulu (Telugu), we used to call them. Have seen a lot of them during my childhood and their sticky, slippery, slender structure sent jitters and made me go Ewwww 😖. I have a few memories too associated with them.  My mother used to compare noodles (not the instant ones) to earthworms, especially when we used to demand during the rainy season. Creepy isn’t it? And when we kids used to spot them in parks we used to huddle around them just to ascertain the direction they were moving – coming or going 🤣🤣. Their bodies are such.

That was some nostalgia. Nostalgia because now it seems as ages have passed when I last saw them.  Not enough time for me to spend outside as well as no more open spaces available for them to thrive (at least in my knowledge). Connect the dots please 😁. So when the weekly topic was tossed I thought why not remember “Earthworms” in this week dedicated to “Creepy,Crawley creatures”.

Some Wikipedia Information as to what are Earthworms:

An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented wormfound in the phylum Annelida. They have a world-wide distribution and are commonly found living in soil, feeding on live and dead organic matter. An earthworm’s digestive system runs through the length of its body. It conducts respiration through its skin. It has a double transport system composed of coelomic fluid that moves within the fluid-filled coelom and a simple, closed blood circulatory system. It has a central and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia above the mouth, one on either side, connected to a nerve cord running back along its length to motor neurons and sensory cells in each segment. Large numbers of chemoreceptors are concentrated near its mouth. Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm’s anus.[1]

Earthworms are hermaphrodites: each individual carries both male and female sex organs. As invertebrates, they lack either an internal skeleton or exoskeleton, but maintain their structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.”

(Source: Google.Inc)

That was some basic information, anatomy you can say.  Now coming to the point that out of innumerable tiny little creatures what made me choose this literally two-dimensional reptile – my choice was simple considering the amount of good they do for the ecosystem, in short for us.

  • Earthworms help improve the drainage system of soil. When they burrow deep into the soil, they aerate the soil thus helping it to retain more water and hence enriching it.
  • Earthworms eat the dried up leaves, dead roots and break down the organic matter leaving behind the casts that work as natural fertilizers for the soil.   They are rich in minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium. They are farm friendly, to say the least.
  • Their digestive juices and even dead bodies are a rich compost for the soil.

That was a bird’s eye view of what enormous amount of good these tiny creatures do. And I hope there’s no need to explain how soil is related to plants and farm and how they, in turn, are related to the balance of the ecosystem.  Basic science folks that we all have learned in school 😁😁.

What Earthworms have taught me? Looks are not at all in relation to the good qualities and character embedded inside – this was basic and cliched but a truth nevertheless.  Well, that reminds me of one particular incident where I misjudged and feared a person, though just for a few seconds but I am guilty, no shame in accepting that. As I have already mentioned so many times in the past that my son is autistic and meltdowns are our daily visitors. I was out with him along with my daughter in a crowded area. And BAAM, meltdown knocked my son and he was lying down on road throwing his legs and hands here and there, not letting me get a hold of him and was very aggressive.  People were watching me, crossing by me, few stopped to inquire as well but no one lent a helping hand. And I was perplexed and perspiring. A homeless man, with his rugged dirty clothes, a beer can in hand, unkempt hair and nails, all sorts of tacky accessories all over him, swaying to the music walked up to me. I was apprehensive now “Why he is walking towards me?“. I just held my daughter, stood close to my son trying to relax at that moment. But it didn’t take me long to realize that he only meant to help me. He spoke to my son, caressed his hair, his presence calmed down the little one and he stood up and agreed to walk with me again.  I thanked him and left but this incident never left my mind. Appearances can be deceptive, period!

Parallels to be drawn: I always found earthworms repulsive for the way they looked – sticky and creepy, but that’s just the way they LOOK, meanwhile doing so much good for others in their short lifespan. In the same way, I  feared that man solely based on the way he LOOKED but he did come forward to help me. The flaw lies within me, simple.

For me, it’s more clear now – Appearance Can Be Deceptive. Think beyond that. And in the meantime let the earthworms grow 😊.

SNAKE – A REPTILE THAT REFLECTS VOLUMES OF WISDOM

There was a big pond at the backyard of one of our rented houses and throughout the year it was filled with different types of fishes, snakes, and reptiles – creepy crawly creatures. It was the exact replica of the image of the Amazon forest in my geography book. Every time I found venomous snakes gulping something, moving on the ground or in the water. In fact, it was next to our bedroom, so especially in rainy season one of my most regular scary dreams was venomous snakes entering into our house through our bedroom window and skylight holes. It used to be the only place where my great gully cricket teammates won’t dare to go in search of the ball. The only time I would dare to go there is during summer vacation to watch my cousin brother killing snakes with an iron rod, stones and sticks. And I use to scare him saying, the snake has taken your picture in his eyes and its mate will surely kill you one-day. Of course, he is alive today, as it was my reference from the famous Bollywood movie “Nagin” (based on snakes).

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales and with highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes’ paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. They range in size from 4 inches (Barbados thread snake to 393 inches long (reticulated Python). 70% of them are oviparous (lay eggs) while the rest are non-oviparous but they do not go through the larval stage. Isn’t it so amazing? There are approximately 3,600 known species of snakes in the world, out of it only 375 species are venomous and harmful for humans. Snakes are found in every continent except Antarctica and other small land masses such as New Zealand, Ireland, and Iceland. According to their evolution snakes have orders and suborders. All the modern snakes are grouped into the suborder Serpentes, again the suborder has two infraorders; Scolecophidia which comprises of 5 snake families mainly of the blind snakes and Alethinophidia which include the non-blind snakes. Scolecophidia comprised of about 305 known species while Alethinophidia is made up of over 2,600 species and sometimes split into Henophides and Caenophides. Caenophides consists of Colubridae – the largest 19 snake families (51% of all known snakes), Colubridae snakes comprise the largest 1,866 species, Viperidae (341 species), Elapids (359 species), Lamprophiidae (314 species), Biodae (60 species), and Uropedltidae (55 species). Infraorder Scolecophidia is made of 5 snake families mainly consisting of blind snakes. The largest family Typhlopidae consists of 266 species, mainly the typical blind snakes. The family Leptotyphlopidae is made up of 139 species, mainly the slender blind snakes. The other three families are Gerrhopilidae (18 species), Anomalepidae (18 species of primitive blind snakes), and Xenotyphlopidae which consist of only One species; the round-nosed blind snake of Northern Madagascar. This is just an overview or can be counted as a micro set of information about the snake species.

Snakes have a wide diversity of skin coloration patterns. These patterns are a tendency to flee from predators, it is also their hunting strategy, as their pattern allows them to send little information to prey about motion. The blotched snakes usually use ambush-based strategies, it helps them to blend into an environment with irregularly shaped objects, like sticks and rocks.

Snakes also go through a molting process. The younger one goes 4 times in a year and the older once or twice in a year. Before the molt, they do not eat and hides or moves into a safe place to shed their skin. Molt keeps the snake young and helps to get rid of parasites such as mites and ticks.

Talking about snake without mentioning their venom! Oh, it doesn’t complete the talk. Snakes are a symbol of venom. Cobras, Vipers and closely related species use venom to immobilize or kill their prey. The venom is modified saliva, delivered through fangs. Snake venom majorly preys specifically whereas their role of defense comes secondary. Venomous snakes are classified into three taxonomic families:

  • Elapids – Cobras including King Cobras, Kraits, Mambas, Australian Copperheads, Sea snakes, and Coral snakes
  • Viperids – Vipers, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads/Cotton Mouths and Bushmasters.
  • Colubrids – Boomslangs, Tree Snakes, Vine Snakes, Mangrove Snakes, although not all Colubrids are venomous.

Out of 725 species of venomous snakes worldwide, only 250 species are able to kill a human in one bite. In India every year 2,50,000 snakebites are recorded and out of them, 50,000 recorded as initial death.

Snake venoms are also used in Medicines and much other healing and powerful aids after going through many kinds of’ medical filtration processes. Alongside, for an evil purpose, snake venoms, blood, skins, meat are used as a kind of too expensive injectable drug and starter food with wine. One of such, globally known places is “Snake Ally” located at Taipei, Taiwan in Japan.

Now, let’s take a look at Snakes in Business – In some part of the world, especially in India, snake charming is a roadside cultural show performed by a charmer. It has also relevance to Hindu mythology. It is a game in which the charmer plays the flute and the snake dances according to the tune. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1952 in India technically proscribes snake charming on the grounds of reducing animal cruelty. Snake meat is also served as a Japanese cuisine especially in Taipei, Taiwan. Snake venoms are used as an expensive injectable drug and also medicines for arthritis, cancer and many deadly diseases. Snakeskin is also used as the most expensive leather garment, house decoration accessories, and handbags.

Huh, my goodness! This is just a glimpse on the scariest creepy crawling reptile – SNAKE, there are endless volumes to discuss. Snakes are symbolized as the wisest of all animals. The Bible tells the human to be wise as a snake.

Learning from a snake, a wise reader at the end of his reading always looks for a takeaway, in other words, AN ANALOGY for life. What’s that here?

Snake is just one among those many creepy crawly creatures which reflect the strength of being wise, wisdom on how to survive in opposing environment and contributing to others’ need. What a creature we have in our creation!

An English proverb says, “CREATION WITHOUT A CREATOR IS IMPOSSIBLE TO EXIST”!

Indeed! There is no single amount of doubt that the Creator of Snake is – God, The LORD. He deserves our praise for such a beautiful creation of His’. A reverse of our thought is all that we need – Worshiping the Creator instead of His creation.