IT IS MY IDENTITY. CANNOT LET IT GO.

I love shopping for groceries. I usually go to places where there is a display of wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other staples. There is some satisfaction in walking aisle by aisle through various sections drooling over what is offered. Usually I make up my mind on what I want to cook for the upcoming week, so, when I am walking I am recollecting the recipe and required ingredients to buy apart from what’s there at home. I have observed one thing that distracts me from this process many times, which is kids talking to their parents. Usually they pick-up a chocolate or fruit and keep asking their parents to buy it. What grabs my attention is that most kids do this only in English. Most of the parents respond in English too. 

India is a non-English speaking country. There are many languages Indians speak at homes (or so I thought). The trend now has changed. Most parents want their kids to learn English at a very early age. I can understand the need because they have to leave kids at day-care centres. Especially in metro cities, people from many states come for jobs. So, it is difficult to manage if the kid cannot speak English. While this is true, I clearly do not understand why kids are not encouraged to talk in their mother tongue. 

Kids of many of my colleagues cannot speak, read and write in their mother tongue. I don’t know why speaking in English makes us feel ‘elite’. When adults look down upon their own language, they won’t consider the language worthy enough for their kids to learn. This is the situation with people who are migrating to new places inside India. People living outside India have a different story. Some of my friends did not even manage to make their kids speak in Telugu. The reason they give is that, “the child does not have an environment to speak in our language. Who can they speak in that language with? only us, so, it is very difficult to teach“. As a result of this most grandparents cannot even feel the satisfaction of talking to their grandchildren because they don’t understand a bit of the conversation, in some cases there is no conversation only gestures. It is making children deprived of rightful love and care they deserve. 

Couple of years ago, mother of one of my friend’s neighbour expired while she was at her daughter’s place. Let me tell you what happened. The daughter and her husband moved to Melbourne. This lady, who expired travelled to Melbourne to help her daughter during her second pregnancy. They went out for medical checkup leaving their first child and the grandmother at home. By the time they returned home, the grandmother was on the kitchen floor, dead. The parents asked the kid about what had happened, for which he replied, “She was saying something when she fell on the floor and he did not understand what it was”. Apparently she was asking for water in their language, and the boy did not understand that one word, which might have saved her life. 

Mother tongue is a language in which we can express well. Learning mother tongue also has a positive impact on our brain. It also improves our ability to learn and improves cognitive thinking. Until the age of 6, children learn languages very quick.  As parents we should encourage our next generation to learn our mother tongue. Mother tongue is an identity, also a very important link to our cultural roots. There are simple ways in which one can make kids learn mother tongue. Always conversate with them in your own language at home and even when you are at public places. Remember bed time stories?? Without buying those English story books, teach kids about our culture through bed time stories in our own language. If kids talk in English (which they do because of what they learn at school), make sure you only respond in your native language. This would automatically make kids pickup the language. Do not worry about their English speaking skills, eventually they would pick up the language from school. 

That’s for kids, what about adults? Now-a-days many of us read books only in English. Isn’t this true? Once in a while read books from your own language. Read some news in your local language. Write in your language. When was the last time you did this? You may start with grocery list :-). 

I am not against learning or talking in English in any way. May be, few years from now, there may be a world with only one language, “English”… It saddens me that one day next generations won’t be speaking my language. It hurts to see languages die. Many languages are becoming extinct because we don’t use them any more. My mother tongue is my identity and I would love to talk in that language with pride anywhere, except for professional reasons. Let’s preserve our languages !!

No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another

– George Bernard Shaw

 

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TRIUMPH IN FAILURE

 

Wings, I had wings

To soar high without any attached strings.

 

Dreams, I had dreams

To be the cream in the midst of creams.

 

Goals, I had goals

To touch many parched souls.

 

Ways, I knew the ways

To move on ahead along the coasts and the bays.

 

Steered, through every winding road I steered

No hill, valley or desert I ever feared.

 

Pinnacle, yes my aim was the pinnacle

To reach there, I needed a miracle.

 

Efforts, I put in hard and smart efforts

And I was offered all available supports.

 

Changes, alas there arose changes

In the contours of life’s ranges.

 

Questions, many questions

Gripped at all times the head and heart.

 

Faith, in God strong faith

Was the anchor while the river was in full spate.

 

Alone, never did I feel alone

Remembering always that God is still on the throne.

 

Own, never would He forsake His own

In hopelessness I would never bemoan.

 

Shine, for His grace shall on me shine

And not let me sorrowfully whine.

 

Hope, indeed I have a blessed hope

That I would in darkness never grope.

 

Victory, awaits me sweet victory

To bring an end to this journey’s story.

RECONCILIATION – THE NEED OF THE HOUR: FEELING THE NEED

Why these wars?
Why this loss of lives?
If men can love men,
And choose to live as close brethren.

Aching minds and crying hearts,
Longing for peace instead of fiery darts,
To love, indeed is an art,
Which every man must master and strive to play a part.

Reconciliation is a fruit of love. Love in the heart yearns to be reconciled with one who is not deemed to be on the same page as before.

Reconciliation refers to the restoration of previously existing friendly relations. It doesn’t simply mean ‘to patch up with someone.’ It involves much more. Though Reconciliation has been dealt with in Candles Online previously, this week is again devoted to the topic, thus recognizing its significant importance – be it in interpersonal relationships or in global ties. Without a doubt, reconciliation would make the world a better place to live in than it already is.

In today’s piece, I will be dealing with Feeling the Need for Reconciliation.

For any behaviour to manifest, there has to be a felt need. Though we do many things out of sheer habit, the human clock – be it biological, social or psychological – operates out of a felt need. Take, for example, hunger. When the hypothalamus perceives the need for food, it sends sensory signals and so you and I experience what is called hunger pangs. This leads us to go near a source of food and consume it to satiate our hunger. Just like hunger, most other physiological processes are born in the mind and are then translated into physical action/behaviour.

Reconciliation is not a physiological process, though the act of being reconciled with someone is reflected in physical and social behaviour. Unless one feels the need for reconciliation, the actual act of reconciliation doesn’t happen.

When we speak of reconciliation, we assume that there has been a point of conflict which was preceded by good relations. Genuine restoration of previous friendly relations is possible when the conflict is followed by forgiveness (which will be extensively dealt with on another day this week). Forgiveness, then gives way to the desire for reconciliation.

So then, what does it take to be reconciled with someone, why ought one feel the need for the same and how to reconcile? I’ll deal with the what and why of reconciliation in today’s piece. In the subsequent six articles of this week, we’ll talk about the how.

The intrusion of conflict into friendly relations results in the friendly ties being cut off, thus giving rise to enmity, anger, jealousy, a desire for revenge, stress and lack of peace as by-products. A continual indwelling of these vicious by-products results in a sick mind and body, thus affecting one’s intrapersonal and interpersonal well-being. Too much a cost to pay for the one life that is gifted to us!

The Bible says –

“If possible as far as it depends on you live peaceably with all.”

 These words of wisdom are not without reason. Count the costs of conflict and the blessings of peace – you’ll realize it!

So then won’t it make one look like a fool to be reconciled with someone who was only yesterday trying to cause harm? Won’t it make one a weakling before others? Is it not more logical to avenge oneself – tooth for tooth and eye for an eye?

We see this happening. Our newspapers and News channels are full of hate stories – whether social or diplomatic. Is it doing anyone any good? Well, the earth is still rotating and revolving. It hasn’t come to a standstill. But, human life feels the impact of unreconciled strained ties. Hatred breeds hatred and Love breeds love.

How then do we deal with the wrong done to us by a friend?

The easy way out is, of course, to shun all ties. But then, reconciliation is just the opposite of it. The answer to the above question is – deal with love. Sounds a bit impractical, doesn’t it? True.

How do you talk sweetly to a friend who has publicly ridiculed you? How do you go back and love your husband who has hurled abuses at you? How do you love your business partner who has syphoned huge amounts and got you thrown into prison? How do you love your wife who has cheated on you and is romantically involved with someone else? And, do you need to be reconciled with such people at all? ‘Not needed’ – many would say. ‘Not humanly possible’ – I say. Not possible unless we invoke the power of the Almighty to renew and strengthen us from within. It is for God Almighty to avenge the evil, injustice and wrongs that plague humans, and He sure does it in His way and in His time. Not for you and I to think of ways to get even and scheme and strategise the means for the same.

Reconciliation follows forgiveness and needs repentance as a necessary precursor. It takes one to forgive (or seek forgiveness) but, two to reconcile. Unless there are realization and repentance from the erring party, any desire for reconciliation doesn’t materialize.

That gives an easy excuse. Of course, you and I cannot go to such extreme extends to make an erring party realise, repent, seek forgiveness and have the desire to be reconciled. This is being over-ambitious for one’s self. And here again is where we need the power of the Almighty as He alone is the one who transforms human hearts and with God nothing is impossible – absolutely nothing!

Reconciliation not only restores friendly ties but also elevates us to a higher platform of functioning. It ensures a continued flow of love, peace and joy in our heart. It aids our soul to reflect the character of God in us. You see, while we broke away from God owing to our sin, He walked towards us to restore the friendly ties. And so, when we strive to reconcile with others, we strive for a greater goal!

Think about the depths of these words as the next six articles would take the topic to further details.

HOPING THE SNAIL WOULD EVENTUALLY REACH IT’S DESTINATION

I captured this picture on 2nd of June 2018 at Antargange. There is a temple on top of a hill, and the snail was on the steps leading to the temple. There are around 400 steps to reach the top. I wondered where the snail was going … 

Watching it for sometime really made me ponder over certain things that bother us day in and day out.

Despite the fact that they move very very slow, snails make a definitive progress. When life challenges us it may so happen that we pause and life seems to have taken a stall. It is always important to keep moving ahead because something better than nothing.

Snails seems to have a plan. I don’t know how they make the plan but they are not clueless about where they are heading. Though life seems not so clear, though we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel it is extremely important to have a plan hoping for better.

Snails leave a trail of mucus as they move forward, to look back and see how far they have come. I don’t mean to say we should focus too much on the past, that could not let us move ahead with life. However, it is important to remember and be be inspired from how far we have come. Our trail is our progress !! 

TASK WELL DONE

I am not good at routine works at all. I keep procrastinating. But I am always good when I am asked to complete a task within a time period. So, this time after a thorough Self Discovering series my co-writers went through Charlie’s Task series and believe it or not they did very well. Some denied, some gave excuses, some didn’t respond yet some participated wholeheartedly.

Usually, I would have summarised the gist of the whole event revealing what tasks I had given everyone. But I thought of doing differently this time by expressing my gratitude to all those who have participated. 

During, the Self Discovering series Prabhjot responded after she finished answering her set of questions – “Chiradeep, I feel like I am a celebrity answering this questionnaire.” And Prerna said, “I really like the way my answers are published on a public platform.” 

I want to encourage my co-writers that they are not less than celebrities as they have been filling in the gap in some or other way. There are many who read their articles or poems feel encouraged, inspired or motivated. So, I gathered all that they had said during the last two weeks and framed them in one poster. 

The featured picture is blank but the one I am posting here is filled with the quotes of my co-writers.

Poster for Angels Bulb
(Candles Online Property)

Keep reading and keep giving your feedback!

God bless you all!     

OF SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-RESTRAINT

In a world where everyone is ready to compromise and satiate their desires, what makes you stay afloat – holding onto your values and maintaining self-restraint and self-control as much as possible? Apart from God and His divine strength what are the things that boost you to stay self-controlled?

In my response to this question, the first impression that I would like to make is that ‘self-restraint’ and ‘self-control’ are not easy. Looking at the different philosophies and belief patterns across the world today, it seems as if humankind has woken up to a desperate attempt to propagate and exercise ‘self-control’. The recent school of thought which I came across just a few days before was that one needn’t do anything to exercise control over oneself. The reasoning being that the moment a person attempts to control something in himself/herself, it generates stress. So the way out, according to the speaker, is to live the desire and let it die out in the process.

While I would not mince words to label the above as faulty reasoning (as did many others in the audience), I wouldn’t go into the details of justifying the same in this space – because then, that itself would consume the entire writing space!

How do I face my desires? When and how do I exercise self-restraint and self-control?

The question that is put to me seeks an answer – ‘apart from God and His divine strength’ what helps me to stay self-controlled. But as I set to think of it, I can say that all reins of self-control and self-restraint that I have and continue to practise in my life revolve solely around God and His divine strength.

Desire to acquire/possess

When encountered with the desire to acquire and possess things which are over and above my needs, what keeps me grounded is the faces of people who are deprived of even the basics that I am blessed to have. And so I acknowledge that what I have to satiate my needs and many of my wants as well, are enough.

A strong human urge is to want to acquire the things someone else has. It may be a piece of clothing, a particular vehicle, a house, a more lucrative career, better education to one’s child than a relative’s child and so on. In a day and age of increased materialism and digitization where the global market and the best of cross-cultural products are just a few clicks away, the temptation to indulge is difficult to resist. The desire to show that one’s possessions are unique and better than someone else’s is pretty strong. In such times the following verse from the Bible pulls my reins –

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife . . . or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

Neighbour, here, doesn’t necessarily refer to someone who stays next door. It broadly refers to anyone whom one is closely acquainted with. And so when I find a good possession with anyone, I make sure to appreciate it but I do not go further thinking – ‘I wish I had it as well!’

Desire to achieve

We are living in times of cut-throat competition to achieve. There is nothing wrong to aspire for greater career goals. In fact, the higher the bar we set for ourselves and push ourselves towards it, the more we tend to discover our hidden potentials and God-given abilities. However when it comes to having an endless desire to achieve, one tends to neglect certain more important goals in life.

I’ve been there. Having had quite a decent academic record, it was quite natural to aspire for greater goals. To be surrounded with expectations from friends, family, teachers and well-wishers to aim for loftier heights was indeed motivating. But in my desire to achieve, I came to a stage where I needed to ask myself the reason behind it all. And, I discovered that to want to achieve just for the sake of it or for the sake of people around is a vain goal. What is more important is to follow my God-given passion to create a difference around me.

It’s not always easy to walk in this path. On one hand are the lures of power, position, financial affluence and recognition in aiming to achieve what the world calls ‘achievement’. On the other hand are obscurity, lack of fame and recognition, possible financial constraints and being an absolute nobody among the who’s who around.

I have dealt with this in realising that achievements of this world stay back in this world. They won’t matter much. All life comes to an end. The most illustrious person dies one day leaving all behind and so does a tramp on the street who has not much to call his/her own. But creating a difference in at least one person’s life no matter how insignificant a position I may be in, would matter a lot – not only on this earth but in eternity. As Jesus Christ says – ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I still am not there completely. But, this is what helps me to exercise restraint in the face of mindless desires for achievement.

Adolescent desires for relationship

This is something I have been mostly quizzed about by friends and the teenagers that I deal with. In senior school and college years, I was one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend. Most of my friends were into fluttering relationships. And some who didn’t, often lamented the fact that they didn’t have anyone interesting in their lives. On being told that I didn’t feel the need for love-life then, a few of my friends felt that though I was intellectually gifted, perhaps I was lagging behind in a component of emotional development J  

Well, what kept me in control? The love of Jesus Christ. I was so saturated with the highest form of love from my early teen years, that I never felt the need for the love of a man in my life before God’s appointed time. The love of the One who loved me with His all (giving His life for me), forgave my sins (which no boyfriend claiming to love me, could), gave me the assurance of eternal fellowship with my Creator (which surpasses any precious gift given by a lover), promised to be by my side at all times no matter where and in what situation I was (which even the best of all lovers cannot do) – was so encompassing and overwhelming for me that I didn’t feel the need to look beyond.

And so I didn’t fall prey to youthful temptations. Of course, it has been none of my doing. I am eternally grateful to God for helping me experience the depth of His love on His own accord – for loving me first before I could even think of anything of that sort.

Having answered the question in sharing the ways in which I exercise self-control and self-restraint, I also confess that there have been times in which I have given in to temptations – at times unintentionally, but sometimes with full conscious knowledge. Each time in reflection and introspection, I have realized that those were the times that I shifted my focus from God onto something or someone else. That’s when I tripped.

So yes, it’s not easy to practise self-control for long by sheer determination or willpower. It’s the power of God’s spirit that keeps me going.

THE PRESSURE OF MEETING THE DEADLINE

All of us might have experienced deadlines in some way or the other. The deadline can be sometimes quite short but no matter whether the deadline is short or not, it always gives us pressure. And this pressure keeps us stretched and straight towards meeting the deadline. So, today I am going to tell you about the pressure we face when we have a deadline. As we know, Pressure is a situation wherein we feel the urgency to complete a task in a very little time and maybe, with a very little resource. It compels us to complete the work on time and also, in a way that is effective and fruitful. The pressure always monitors our mind, so that we can give our best in a very limited time period. Sometimes it may result adversely. As all of us know working in a peaceful and relaxed environment is better.

I have experienced the pressure of finishing the work in a given deadline. And whenever I had this, I was completely into the work. Whenever I got a deadline, it seemed very important to complete the work as soon as possible. And for this, I would do whatever felt necessary and time-saving. Yes, you got it right. Whenever there is pressure, we want the work to be completed as soon as possible. Also, we take care of the effectiveness of the work. Maybe we succeed at it but somewhere something gets wrong. Do you know what is it? It is mental peace. Whenever we are under the pressure of completing any work on time or managing more than one thing at a time, we become a bit anxious. Whenever I am in such situations, I become restless. This restlessness, however, results in completing tasks on time but for this, I tend to skip my meals and would stay awake. Unless until I finish the work, it stays on my mind and even if I sleep, I am unable to have a sound sleep. Further, it results in my frustrated and furious behaviour. Sometimes it affects my health but one thing is sure that whenever I am in such a situation, I get annoyed easily on small things.

It was the year 2017 when I had to manage a function as a part of my academics. So many responsibilities were on my shoulders and so were the expectations. Undoubtedly, these two things came with working pressure. At first, I was calm. Maybe because I decided to carry things in a relaxed way or perhaps I thought it will be very easy, but eventually my calmness turned out to be stormy. I was experiencing pressure because the time was very limited and we had so much to do. I was handling several responsibilities. All of them were of equal importance. Those, whom I was supervising, didn’t get the scolding because it was me, who was assigned the work.

At that time I had an insight – pressure arises when the time is limited and we are in a very relaxed state. Gradually the deadline seems to be near and the work seems to be never-ending. Maybe at the beginning, we think, I’ll complete the work before the deadline and we get involved in other things or we might become lazy. And hence the pending work scares us. We become agitated. We get furious over little things, everything and everyone seems disorganized. Though we end up getting praises for being on time and carrying out things in a good way but our mental state seems to be in turbulence.