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!

LIFE ISN’T BUSINESS TO RISK IT

Apart from Good morning messages with very inspirational quotes, WhatsApp groups serve a lot of purpose than what meets eye.  In one such conversation with my childhood friends on WhatsApp, a friend shared this picture (actually this marked the beginning of our conversation, an important one)

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This conversation followed a fire incident that broke in a coaching center in Surat (Gujarat, India) claiming the lives of 21 students.  Many students died while jumping from a two storey building to escape the fire.  That was heartbreaking.  It was the scare of fire that killed more than the fire itself.  Lack of basic conformities and awareness as to how one should act in such tragic situations caused more damage. And that’s when I have decided that this is something which needs my, in fact, everyone’s attention as to Why, Who is responsible and How to do our bit to avoid or at least minimize the losses incurred.

Here’s a list of recent fatal fire accidents claiming lives of many and leaving charred memories for many more (all accidents happened in 2017):

  • Kamala Mills – Mumbai – 14 lives claimed
  • Plastic Factory – Ludhiana – 13 people (including 3 firemen) killed
  • Snack Shop in Saki Naka – Mumbai – 21 lives crammed and charred together
  • Rohini hospital – Telangana – 2 lives claimed 
  • Scrap market – Kota – 2 killed and 15 severely injured 
  • Cracker Shop – Rourkela – 1 killed and three injured
  • Illegal cracker unit – Jharkhand – 6 killed and 11 injured 

Special mention:

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Source: Google 

And then there are incidents exclusively where the property loss is humungous.  This is a pity picture which requires a lot of introspection – Who is responsible for this after all?

Electricity short circuit is the most prominent reason behind the majority of fire accidents. Cylinders or explosives going off comes next in line followed by other miscellaneous reasons that normally don’t find any mention in the list of reasons.  But does it absolve the “human hand” completely of its responsibility? The reason that was mentioned above are the ones that are apparent but the responsibility completely rests with people.

Non-compliance with the fire security rules, illegal constructions – squeezing and cramming of buildings in small spaces, No up-gradation / maintenance of fire fighting systems with time to keep them in working condition, No proper fire drills to the staff in offices.  Basically many “NO“s.

And the reason behind every “NO” that I have mentioned above is Greed and carelessness. People want to save every possible penny they could even if it means putting their and others’ lives at risk.  Complying to rules, training, purchase of requisite material everything involves cost and it’s something that’s loathed.  The greed to make quick and more money is the mother of illegal constructions, skyrocketing matchboxes (read apartments) where safety measures barely or rarely exist. And the basic attitude of “Jab hoga toh dekh lenge” (we will see when it happens) is something that must be done away with. “If caught for non-compliance we will pay something and buy our freedom” something that lingers on the mind (read habit) but not for once people plan future (in reference to fire accidents) with an apprehensive approach that we need to be careful and prepared for the worse.  And this approach is not just of the people coming from lower strata of the society with no awareness. But people with many sources of awareness at their disposal wait for the worse to happen before they realise and awaken.

Even with all the possible measures are taken unimaginable can happen, no denying to that.  But we lack the basic awareness to plan an escape in such situations (the first photo proves the same).  Probably because of not much attention given to this subject.  Parents and schools are constantly busy in ensuring that their children score highest possible grades and they don’t miss extracurricular activities too but subjects concerning their safety and security, be it self defense or otherwise  (escape plans in case of accidents like that of fire) are of trivial to no importance for them.  Hence no place in the curriculum, not even a chapter, workshops are a distant dream.  Companies/ industries are busy improving their profit margin every quarter whereas both employee appraisals (😁) and safety are not in compliance to their policies.  Can you tell me when was the last time you had a fire drill in your office?

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A photo doing rounds on Facebook. This is what I was talking about – carelessness and a bid to save a few bucks people are risking their lives.

These things seem inconsequential or immaterial but should definitely be a part of learning at different stages. If we are paying for fire insurance for our properties then some heed must be paid towards the safety of our lives too, isn’t it?  Talk about the safety measures to near and dear ones including children, use the social platform to spread a word, check if builders are completely complying to fire security regulations before moving in, yourself adhere strictly to all the regulations for safety,  electricity conformity is a must for every housing unit.  These are a few things in a bird’s eye view.

Remember: Your Life Isn’t A Business To Risk It.  Read, Talk and Spread the word for Awareness is the only key.

MY DAD TOLD ME A STORY

My dad 👤 had told me a wonderful story
when I was a little child 👼.
I took it just like another story back then
but it is only now that I understand the wisdom hidden in it 🤷.

Read on…

We are always surrounded by happiness 😁 and sorrow 😔
and these two always compete to take charge of us.
Happiness is deaf 🙉 and Sorrow is blind 😎

Thus when we are going through a difficult time
we must not crib about it.
Why, you may ask!
Let me tell you,
the more we crib and curse 💀🗣,
the more we make noise.
The more noise we make,
the easier it is for sorrow to find us.
Since Sorrow is blind,
he comes in the direction of noise from cribbing and crying.
More the noise we make, harder he holds on to us. 😣

Whereas Happiness is deaf.
He can come 👣 to you
only if he sees 👀 a vacant space in your heart and mind.
If you have already invited Sorrow by making a lot of noise,
Happiness will never see the empty space
and will never come 👣 to you.

BOTTOM LINE: Never complain about hard times. Each one of us goes through it. Be strong and put yourself to test. Complaining or cursing (self, others or destiny) is not going to end the tough times. In fact, it will worsen the situation by making you more negative. Instead, stay calm. Do what is necessary. The storm is sure to pass. The dust is sure to settle. And after that shall come Happiness. Be contented. If you stay unsatisfied, you will start making noise again, thus attracting sorrow in your direction.

So, are you going to make some space for happiness today?

THE BEST WRITER STIRS THE EMOTIONS OF READERS

This week went so well as we wrote about each other applauding our works on Candles Online. I was drooling joyfully over the emotions stirred by Prabhjot dedicating an article for me, but after reading what Kuljeet wrote about Aastha my previous emotions were replaced with a fresh set of emotions. Both of them have been my all time favourites. The more you read their articles, the more you feel connected to their soul. The reason was clear they write from their hearts.

I took the opportunity to read a few of their old articles to quote them here in this article and I never could stop my smiles and tears. I found an article that Aastha wrote on 28th December 2016. It was on a 12 years old boy whom she met on a train. The whole story made me very emotional and feel proud of my sister, Aastha. One paragraph hit me hard and I want to share that here – “Often when we know what other factors can contribute or hinder our hopes, we tend to fall prey and lose hope. Without hope, there is absolutely nothing in life. This is where we need to find our balance back by holding ourselves. Everything that happens, every situation we handle has to make us more stronger and prepare us for our future struggles.” How insightful this article is! Don’t forget to click this and read it.

Do you really want to carry a burden on your chest for a long long time? Or is it better to share with a trusted person?  Sometimes the things are not as bad as they seem to us. Getting another person’s perspective helps“, says Kuljeet in one of her article which is full of good advice for all which we need in our life.

The above two are my personal best yet if I am asked about the writers who are professional and never at a loss of words or skills then with my eyes closed I will choose three people – Sulagna, Saakshi, and Pradita.

You might ask ‘Why these three’? Then better read their articles to know them well.

It’s also important, to be honest with yourself about which ones are your real regrets and which ones aren’t. If you make a mistake here, you might again be stuck with wrong decisions“, says Sulagna while writing on the topic – Your Regrets. Give a read to it and you will learn a lot from this article. And if you are hooked to it then go on and read all her 8 powerful articles. I seriously miss her on Candles Online.

My gold digger, Saakshi wrote a blinder for the topic – The Attitude of Gratitude, explaining how much she is grateful to a man who has been serving her family for more than 20 years. She says, “Now to capture Noorie (I gave him this name out of affection as he often complains that he became almost a women doing womanly chores for my mother and me) in words is like trying to collect all the sea water in a Coca-Cola bottle.” Read this light-hearted article and feel fresh. And if you again feel like picking up another book from Saakshi’s library then you can do so without giving a second thought.

Pradita, the name itself lets all of us here on Candles Online expect of something fabulous and amazing. Writing on the topic – Shadow of Sin, she wrote how the abuse of power is a grave sin.  She says, “Most positions of power occur over monetary reasons or in positions of trust. An abuse of power in such situations is not just a sin, it also breaks the faith of the subordinates who look to the power wielder for support, guidance, and leadership.” She is excellent in every way. Tell about, the formatting of the articles, the selection of appropriate words, presenting the subject matter and the flow of the article, everything looks perfect and professional. She never gives me the stress of checking the errors, formatting, adding a picture, etc., she does everything herself.

Sadly, the above three are not regular writers. But they are the best.

In the end, coming back to the same person whom I mentioned earlier, who made me travel through a memory lane this week, who made me emotional, who wrote an article wonderfully dedicating it to me I would like to say she has been the icon of consistency and persistence. Prabhjot is a writer who has always been straight forward and flamboyant. One of her articles is my all time favourite where she raises questions against the mindset of young girls who thinks negative about their looks. She says, “Remember – Looks are only part of your personality. It is as significant as your intellectual capabilities and your emotional balance. And beauty is not just about your looks – it is about your holistic personality.” She shares her own story and how she used to think previously while motivating and encouraging many others through this beautiful article.

If I go on talking about my co-writers then this article will never come to an end. Someone rightly said some time ago, “Candles Online is like a library with so many books written by many authors“.

So true! And I believe that they all have the art to stir the emotions of their readers…

So what are you waiting for? Start reading and giving your valuable feedback.

Stay Blessed!

A WOMAN WRITTEN IN MYSTERY IS WORTH A CURIOSITY TRIP

Since I became a part of the Candles family, I have come to know each and every writer in this family through their writing. Except a few, I haven’t met any of them personally.  Reading the articles written by them gives me an insight into their lives. Usually, their writings are a small window into their minds, the thoughts, and experiences that have shaped them and made them what they are today.

One of my favourite writers in this group is Aastha. Her formal introduction on WordPress goes this way “I am a techie by profession, beginner in writing. Writing for me is the lone time for dwelling through my inner self. I try to be honest and express my true feelings through my writings.”

Well, I don’t agree with the beginner part of it. Her writings have the depth of a seasoned writer. But I do agree with the second line that writing for her is dwelling through her inner self.

I perceive Aastha as a beautiful demure girl. But when I read her articles they seem to be saying – “Be aware… I’m demure but my pen is not…”. This is my endeavour to understand her a bit more through her pen.

Aastha, The family person: I love the way that she has portrayed her bond with her family  – her sister, her parents. The articles like “In an envelope… “, “It’s relaxing and rejuvenating…“, “It is the only doorway to understand someone…” and Imposed pressure to stay strong” give us a peek into her childhood and her khatti-meethi relationship with her sister while growing up, the influence of her parents.

Aastha, the storyteller: Either she has a lot of friends, or she is the type of person in whom people confide easily. Or she is a very good storyteller. Either way that’s what makes her writing appealing. You know for me long and preachy articles with only advice don’t work. An article is interesting when it’s anecdotal. And she gets it bang on with articles like “Wrong decisions or wrong perception” which is the story of Nidhi and her disastrous marriage. Another one is “Use freedom in the best possible way” gives us an account of Ujwala and how she misuses her freedom. Or another very readable article is her counselling talks with Akshay “Holding each other“. Or the virtual relationship of Isha and Kartik so remarkably described in “A Virtual Blessing in disguise“. It’s surprising how she puts across her point without making it sound like a lecture.

The emotional, honest and strong Aastha: After reading her writings I have a distinct feeling that she has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her life. And I am so glad she finds solace in writing and shares her innermost thoughts with us readers. “She is a walking miracle” the story of her sister’s birth who was born with a birth defect and how the whole family coped with it will surely provide a lot of comfort and support to people going through similar circumstances. Another one is her own conversation with her doctor about her being so stressed that she could not even cry – “Sometimes a good cry can cure what a good laugh can’t“. “Ripple effect of Suicide” is a story of her friend Siddhu who committed suicide. I don’t know how you do it Aastha but you bare your heart in your articles and they sure do touch the reader’s hearts.

The funny bone is also very visible in the amusing description of an embarrassing moment (“That awkward moment when…”)

One of her best articles is when she shows her most vulnerable side and explains her feelings of loneliness “Maybe someday I’ll come home to a pair of compassionate eyes“.

Whether or not you understand more about fighting your inner demons and overcoming them in “Adding colour to life is in our hands when personal and professional lives collide” or you empathize with her strength and physical resolve in “The secret behind me being disciplined“, I am sure you will appreciate her honesty in accepting her shortcomings and conquering them in “The journey of finding myself in my own backyard“.

The Knowledge giver Aastha: Not all articles are emotional there are well researched and knowledgeable ones like “Secret sauce to effective education…” about the education system in Finland. Another informative one on her hobby gardening is “In the solitude of trees“.

I can just keep writing on and on. I hope I have been able to decode the real Aastha at least a little bit.  If not, I will just sum it up in her words. In a reply to a question in the face to face section (“I am in the spotlight – Aastha“), this is what she said…

What is the one thing you desire to do during your lifetime?

“There is a strong craving in me to be loved and be understood at a deeper level. It would take another person who really wants to look into me, which is not in my hands. So, meanwhile what is that I can do??? One day, I aspire to be a torchbearer for a change, a positive change that would make this world a better place. I am working on it.”

Hoping it turns out so!

(Dedicated to @aastharao)