STRICT BUT NOT HARD HEARTED

One fine day, I was sitting by my bedroom window sill and thoughts of the kiddish behaviour of me and my siblings came flowing in. It was real fun! I’m really missing those days now. My dad was just like Hitler. Then I wondered, is it really true.. is he too dangerous? The answer from my inner soul was “NO”. He seemed to be strict… as hard as a coconut shell, but had a soft heart as the tender creamy part of the coconut within. The change of perception towards my dad and his ideologies, changed the way of living my life. He used to interact with peer groups and kids too, but very less.


On Sundays, we usually had our lunch and dinner together. On the dining table itself, he asked about the day that we spent, the problems we were stuck in and how small problems can be the creator of big problems….all of these were discussed with him. The great teaching he has given us, is to be confident and be a problem solver. Though his professional life was surrounded by official problems, I have never seen him breaking down. Rather he always tried to find out a solution and a way to move on in life. “All will be fine” – was his tagline. He was head strong as rock, and soft as cotton. When he got angry, we could never stand in front of him. But when his mood was good, he used to chat with us like a friend. I have discussed my marriage wishes and about the type of groom with him. It might sound weird, but it was true.

The warmth of his love is like a blanket
and his shoulder is my pillow,
He is the teacher and a willow.
Keeps secrets like a locker,
Keeps the family happy forever.
As strong as a mountain rock,
As soft as the cream of coconut.
Always holds us so tight,
To make our life bright,
Burns himself like a candle light.
He is strong as a shield and
soft as grass on the field.

His comparison is incomparable. He is hot like sun and cool like moon. His teachings and support towards my life, is as beautiful as Rose with few thorns. It was not acceptable in the early years, but later I realised very deeply and nicely when I become a mother.


In my view, parents are always comparable with many things as they have many shades of experiences in each and every step of life. Grab the lesson from the experience and move on with positivity.

BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE

A beautiful bird just commenced it’s flight in the sky. New found freedom made the bird flutter with joy. But sighting the possible dangers predators could pose the little bird was carefully put in a cage.

Cage was made of gold. It was spacious and decorated with beautiful embellishments. Food was served in a golden plate so was the water. Bird thought may be I was foolish to loiter aimlessly, may be this is my haven which is nothing less than heaven.

It flew happily within the boundaries of the cage covering every inch of it, devouring the delicacies off the plate. It began to croon happily and fearlessly. And that’s when it received it first shock.

“You are making a noise, stop it at once” boomed a thundering cane that stuck the cage, it was a mere harbinger of the problem in foresight. The bird went silent and it took no time to realize the constraints of the cage.

One day the cage was left unattended and open. The bird was in dilemma – shall I fly away? What if I fall prey to the predators outside, what if I don’t get to eat like I do here? what if ruthless winds shatter me? What if…what if…what if? And the ongoing ambiguity failed the bird as it couldn’t fly away but just fluttered hard on the threshold. And all it did was to attract the attention of the scissors that slowly clipped the feathers of the bird one by one leaving it wriggling in pain.

Now the food off the golden plate isn’t delicious nor the bling surrounding the cage kept the bird interested anymore. And one day the bird was lying motionless, it died and what was left behind was a repulsive smell.

That bird is nothing but our relationships. The cage is the name that we give to it. The embellishments are what we project on superficial surfaces – be it society or social media – everything right, beautiful and all hunky dory. Golden plate/ food – physical necessities we strive to fulfil, from bare minimums of food- cloth- shelter to sex and a charade of luxurious life. Crooning is the voice of our emotions both agreements & disagreements whereas the blow of cane is the realization that our voice is muffled and muted. Dilemma is about our innate fears and doubts about ourselves more or less like a Stockholm syndrome where we identify ourselves with the surroundings and people that we grew habituated to and in turn they grew on us finishing off our own identity. Scissors are the constant bickering, taunts, nagging and belittling of the persona and character of the person whereas the feathers are the very confidence and free will that soul possess. And when feathers of free will and confidence are slashed off what is left behind is an empty shell of monotonous routines and indifference, that is the motionless bird. And the repulsive odour is an emblematic to the core issue of lack of love and regard. To be precise it’s the hate, anger and pain.

Many of us do this mistake of believing that “providing” is enough and sole responsibility to be fulfilled in a relationship. Yes it is but our understanding has been restricted to tangible things. Providing time, love, regard, respect somehow and sadly diminishing from our ambit of reasoning as we are evolving. It is like you are gifting a pair of earrings but not ready to listen to what your partner has to say; gifting a watch and not giving time; providing a roof and not embracing the grieving person & say “I have your back”

If the bird you are nursing is fluttering hard, why not give it a window of freedom. It might like to enter the beautiful cage again if it believes it’s a bond and not a bondage!!!

I DON’T WANT TO FLY NOW

I remember, when we were small we used get fascinated seeing a feather of a bird flying around. Many used to collect many different feathers as their hobbies. I have seen kids running after it to catch it. I used to raise my hands up to catch them as it hits the ceiling of the room and used to go round and round with the force of the wind that an electric fan produces. A feather is one thing that flies around freely everywhere as the wind blows it away with its force. It never struggles or protest in and against the wind saying, “I don’t want to fly now.” A bird has a choice to fly but its feather doesn’t have that liberty. The reason being the weight of a feather which is no negligible. I was curious so Googled it and found out that, on average, a feather weighs just 0.000289 ounces (0.0082 grams). So even when the little force of the wind hits it surface, it takes a flight above the ground and travel wherever the wind takes it away.

Today, when I look at myself and my life, I see a feather like quality in me, lately. If I look into my past life, I have been a depressive young man, day dreaming of things that were not possible on my part at all. I had grumbled about my health, my position in my family, my family financial conditions and so on. But one time came, when I let God mould me into a feather, slowly but gradually. And I literally accepted and acknowledged whatever came in my ways. I didn’t grumble or shout back at God asking, “Why me, why this and that?”

Am I great? No, not at all. I have follies that no one else has but one thing that I have become or still learning to be is ‘fly like a feather’ without asking the Wind – the Author of our lives – “I don’t want to fly now”.

Is it really difficult to be a feather? Yes, it is. Crushing all my desires, my pride, my ego and going through a uncomfortable life condition is not at all easy. But flying like a feather helped me to be a happy and jovial person which inspired many to accept life, the way God allows it for me and them.

I received a hand written letter from a young girl who calls me uncle. And I wanted to show all, a part of it:

If I could impact her by just having a couple of feather-like characteristics, then I am ready to adopt all the characteristics of it and let myself be blown away by Him all the more.

The Bible also instructs to be like a feather: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Friends! Not leaning on our own understanding, our own desires and wishes and acknowledging God in every walks of our life are all feather like qualities. Are you ready to be blown away by Him wherever He takes you away or you want to compel Him by saying, “I don’t want to fly now, come later to blow me away”. Think about it.

Stay Blessed!

MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic floor final earlier this year to focus on her mental health. She has not minced words in documenting her struggles with mental health in posts on her social media accounts. Mind you, she has been a reigning champion – a superstar!

Of late, mental health has been drawing the much needed attention from several quarters. Celebrities coming out to share their mental health struggles has immensely furthered the cause, which is otherwise considered to be a stigma in most parts of the world.

If you are a person who still thinks that there is a lot of unwanted fuss being made about ‘mental health’ and that there are other issues that deserve more attention, then you really need to rethink. Just as one would nurse a bruised limb in case of an injury, a wounded mind also needs to be nursed.

Be it about the physical, social, spiritual or psychological issues, we humans focus more on the seen than on the unseen. And this shapes our behaviour most of the times. However, what is unseen is more crucial than what is seen!

Have you ever attended a Puppet Show? Not only children, but adults too are attracted towards the colourful talking, singing, jumping puppets. But, what attention would puppets draw without puppeteers or marionettists doing their jobs well, behind the screen? The voices of the puppets and their movements are all regulated by the puppeteers. Puppets look attractive, but without voices and movements, they won’t be any different than dolls or other toys that kids play with and no one would accord them much attention. What is unseen is significant to the visible performance of a Puppet Show and that by large determines the success of the show!

We humans focus so much on what we consciously perceive, that we ignore the major preconscious and unconscious zones of our minds. What is concealed comprises of more than what is revealed. And, this concealed zone influences the revealed zone greatly.

This article is not about training the preconscious and unconscious minds. Rather, the intent of this article is to drive home the point that since a person is more than what you and I see him or her as, and since a person’s behaviour is regulated by factors more than what is seen in the external environment, we need to be sensitive to each other’s mental health.

Who are the target groups?

Everyone.

Starting from foetal stage till grey hairs right  upto the grave – each one needs mental health care.

Mental health deterioration in a person (if it happens) starts from the time s/he is conceived owing to environmental stressors and genetic predispositions. When we ensure sound mental health of an expectant mother, we ensure sound mental health of the baby that is born. If the foetus growing within the mother is indirectly exposed to environmental stressors be they in the form of physical/ psychological/sexual/substance abuse, domestic violence, workplace harassment, maternal distress and sicknesses, poor nutrition – the baby that is born either develops a hardy personality (i.e., extreme resilience to stressors and a remarkable ability to cope with them) or develops a vulnerable personality (i.e., extremely sensitive to stressors and ill-equipped to cope with them). Besides purely medical conditions, the genesis of mental ill-health begins from this stage. Hence, foetal mental health is of utmost importance.

Children’s mental health needs a lot of attention too. The way children are shaped and cared for reflects in their adult lives. While the mental health of all children is crucial, those who suffer from disabilities and consequently from low self-esteem, those from single parent or parent absent families, those from war torn parts of the world, those subjected to abuse, those exposed to trauma and other disturbing life events – need specific mental health care.

Adolescent mental health care is crucial as the youngsters leap from childhood into adulthood and dabble with identity, acceptance and self-esteem issues. As they experiment with looks, relationships, careers and largely detest the tons of parental advice that are heaped on them, as they taste success or meet failures – there mental health needs attention. If the adolescent suffers from physical or psychological disorders/ disabilities, targetted mental health care is essential. This is precisely the stage when adolescents need to understand and accept that it is absolutely vital to seek good counsel.

Healthy adults shape up a healthy world. Numerous factors can mar an adult’s mental health. Starting from a lack of social acceptance, repressed childhood memories, to job hazards (harassment, exploitation, deprivation of rights and entitlements, unhygienic environment, layoffs), personal or familial ill-health, financial crises, family disputes, domestic violence, substance abuse and many more such additions to the list – an adult’s mental health requires a lot of care.

During the sunset years of life when one lies in a phase of apparent relaxation, mental health needs to be cared for. This is the time when most aged people are left uncared for, given menials and in many cases given the least attention. This is the time when they feel unwanted, when their desires are left unmet and their thoughts wander without expression. This is the time when most of the aged suffer from various illnesses. While a seed that promises to bear fruits needs care and nurturance, a tree that has borne fruits and flowers throughout life needs to be proffered due dignity.

So you see, all stages of life require mental health care just as they require physical health care.

With this I come to another important aspect which I would urge everyone to ponder upon.

Is mental health consideration meant for the educated and the affluent alone? What about that tramp on the street, the maid in the house, that ragpicker, the child labourer, the trafficked girl in the brothel and all those who find themselves at the receiving end of educational, social, economical deprivation? Those whose primary concerns are two square meals a day, a few old clothes on the body and perhaps someone’s doorstep for shelter? Who cares for their mental health, if at all?

With an unprecedented pandemic hitting the world which was at the helm of economic, technological, social progress like never before – mental health has suffered severe battering. In the last one and half years, there have been reports of increase in crime and domestic violence of humungous proportions – a majority of which have been under reported or have gone unreported. Millions of people have been rendered jobless. Thousands have lost their loved ones. Children have been orphaned.

While mental health professionals are doing their bit to help a wounded world, what can you and I do?

  1. Recognize the need for sound mental of those around you – your spouse, parents, children, siblings, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, domestic helps, caregivers, service providers and anyone who you come in contact with.
  2. Cater to their mental health to the extent you can – Understanding words, appreciation, encouragement, connecting to legal/ medical/ mental health professionals as the requirement may be.
  3. Be sensitive – Do not share sensitive details of one person with others without their permission.
  4. Take care of your own mental health – In order to cater to and be sensitive to others’ mental health, one’s own mind needs to be in good health. Take a break when required. Do things that relax you. Arrange for like-minded caregivers to fill in for you in your daily chores as you care for your mind.
  5. Pray – Health is a blessing from God. He alone can grant the serenity and well-being of the mind when the tides rise against us. Whether you are in bliss or in the tumultuous tempests, pray that God keeps your mind tranquil and supple.

God’s plan for mankind was never chaos and destruction. But since we have driven ourselves into it, our mental health has suffered a severe beating. Seeking His strength, we can collectively work together for our own and others’ psychological well-being. May the theme of Mental Health Day 2021 be our focus for life: Mental Health in an Unequal World.

MY FLAWS

“If my flaws make me humble, receptive and compassionate as compared to your perfection that made you indifferent and rude towards a fellow being then I would proudly embrace my flaws.”

Kalpana Vogeti

REST WITH ZEST

Rest with zest,
Keep yourself calm and cool,
Take a break from your schedule
Don’t behave old school.

Work will be completed
with all its glorious parts,
Help your mind with little zest,
And think about your heart.

Just chill and take rest and
give time to take life’s test.
When heart, body and mind
balance is done,
Soul shows its ecstatic shades.

– Lopamudra Pal

REST – simple word, but very complicated. It has many meanings with prefixes and suffixes. But REST means to keep time for yourself, maintain body and mind balance. ME time fixes the problem and rejuvenates you. It is the perfect time for resting the body and testing the mind for creating new ideas. We in our daily lives don’t take out time for ourselves and then starts the blame-game. Sometimes we indulge into the problems so badly that we don’t realise what we get and what we lose. We try to satisfy each and everyone, professionally and personally. But it’s not always possible. Still we try harder and harder to get it done. We get really tired of being perfect. Perfection and being perfect is good, but not always.

We as human beings, get frustrated and take wrong steps. At times, some of us go to the verge of breaking relationships too. But we don’t realise the main problem. We don’t look at the angle, that we actually need a break and want to take rest with zest. We need to get a break from everything we do starting from what we think, we plan, we cook, we read, we write… everything. ” Just being with self”, that should be the essence of being in rest.

The heart is a very small thing, but very precious. It understands all the feelings, situations, emotions, good, bad … everything. Resting the heart means rejuvenating it with more good and positive thoughts. The longevity increases. Now, everyone is overloaded with work and the pressure is burdened with bad impact on heart and mind. It affects family members and other relations as well. Keeping yourself cool for all situations is the only solution. It can be taken by taking a break for resting. Divide the works among family members and spread equality. Work is a never ending thread. It’s a continuous process. We need to take rest for making the future bonding strong enough to handle all the odds.

“Stop overthinking.
You cannot control or change everything.
Let things go with the flow.”

An understanding heart is always a tired one. It takes out positivity from negativity. It too gets tired. It too needs rest for a while. But actually we don’t take. We should go for the break for our heart, mind, body and soul. Close your eyes, think nothing. Leave the worries behind. Keep your mind cool with low volume soothing music. Take long breathe, exhale and inhale. Feel the power of the heart and the brain syncing together. Then the nerves of your brain will run in a supersonic way.

Taking a break in any way, is to get yourself in a Restart Mode. Sit in the balcony and look around nature with a deep breath. Feel serenity and calmness within. That’s the result of rest with zest!

A STORY OF DECEMBER

The snow has put autumn to sleep
luring people to the
shop of antiques
to greet the Christmas’s bliss
bidding adieu to
autumn departing in divine abyss
as if a pleasure to remember
that comes with each December
Gathers a choir of red Robin
sitting on the dusty hemlocks
singing a mystical winter song
While the flock of Bohemian
teases the pansies and willows
spread across the snow banks
for trespassing their winsome land
A gem of a nature
for some an unwanted stranger
A muse to the lost
amidst the snow frost
A shroud for the dead,
while a scenery for the painter ahead.

Saniya Firdaus