HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHONA

Parul was trapped in a vicious circle of life – meeting expectations and fulfilling demands. Life was totally mundane and there was nothing that interested her. She often thought about wanting a better life but would reason to herself thinking she has everything to make life beautiful – husband, kids, own house, well paying job – what else can she ask for! Even then, life was utterly boring, monotonous and to some extent burdensome because of increasing responsibilities of growing up kids and dynamics of relationships.

Parul was married to Palash and they made a great couple then, but not any more! Palash who was in his early forties preferred long hours at office more than spending time at home. The once romantic young boy had now turned in to a workaholic treading the path of success ferociously. Parul who was in her late thirties had almost forgotten what romance is, firstly because she got very less time to spend with her husband because of his business tours and busy work schedules and secondly because, she had forgotten that she is a wife too while trying to be the best mom to their kids who were older than toddlers but younger than teens. In short, in 11 years of marriage, Parul and Palash had grown distant considerably.

Not that they had fights or arguments, but their life was not the same as it used to be in the early years of marriage. Both of them could feel the missing factor but never complained because they thought they had more important things to focus on – work for Palash and kids for Parul. Both had adapted themselves to a life minus romance, excitement and surprises. But slowly, Parul had started craving for the company of her husband. Each time she saw any of her friend going out with her husband, she would feel a little jealous. She never spoke with Palash about what she felt because she was burdened with the guilt of giving more importance to kids all these years and ignoring her husband to a very large extent, but secretly she longed to be with her husband, physically and emotionally. She would hope that Palash would understand her needs but unfortunately it did not seem like he even noticed any of them. It wasn’t like Palash was not looking after her or their kids. He was a good father. He did manage to spend a little time with kids every weekend. But for Parul, Palash’s behavior wasn’t very pleasant. She craved for his attention and company. But the irony is she had started noticing the difference only after their kids had grown up a bit. Perhaps, that was the time when Parul got a moment to look at her life with a fresh pairs of eyes. For her it was like Palash was there but he was not there! With each passing day Parul had started getting frustrated. She was being grind in ignorance and neglect.

These things started impacting Parul in a negative way. Mood swings, anger, and small arguments started stepping in. While Palash seemed to handle it well, Parul was not able to manage herself. All that she needed was her husband and his attention but she was not getting it. Things worsened between them when Palash announced that he will need to fly to London for work for two weeks. Parul was very hurt and annoyed that he didn’t seem to remember her birthday. As per schedule, Palash was to return home on the day after Parul’s birthday. Parul tried asking Palash if could return a day earlier hoping that he gets a hint about her birthday but all in vain!

Parul felt miserable after Palash left for London and nothing on this earth could lift her mood. She would go to office with a sour mood and return home with a bitter mood. This had became a new routine and on one such day when Parul reached office with a grimace, she was amazed to find a small box placed on her desk. It was neatly wrapped with a pink (her favorite color) gift paper and the sender had only mentioned “From your secret admirer”. She observed the gift for some time searching for the clue about who could have sent it but there was none! Lot of questions ran through her mind, like “Who must have sent this? Is it for me? If yes, why is not addressed to me? Is someone playing a prank? Now who is this secret admirer, does anyone even notice me?” She checked with her colleagues to know if they had seen anyone placing this gift at her desk but nobody seemed to know. At last, she just put it in her drawer and got to work. By the end of the day, she had totally forgotten about that gift.

Next day:

When Parul reached office, she saw another gift box, a little bigger than the first one. Again, the box said nothing apart from a short message which was typed on a paper and stuck to the box. It said “Please do not forget me” Parul looked around and blushed a little when she noticed all colleagues were looking at her with curious faces, all that she could manage to say was”I…. I don’t know who sent this. Its really wei… weird”

“A birthday gift?” asked one of the colleagues cheekily. “No, still a couple of days for my birthday!” exclaimed Parul. She was sort of embarrassed by all the attention that her gifts were drawing. She quickly dropped this gift in her drawer and started to work. But the curiosity stayed on her mind.

Day3:

There was yet another gift waiting for Parul. It read “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” This time the note was handwritten. Parul was a little disheartened to see that the handwriting didn’t look like Palash’s. She had began to think that Palash was sending these gifts but now it was clear that it wasn’t him. And anyway, it was too much to expect that from Palash, more so because of the way he had transformed over the years. But Parul was sure about one thing, whoever that secret admirer was – he was somewhere around. He knew her and he was watching her. By now most of the office knew that Parul was getting a gift every day and most of them envied her for having so much love and excitement in life. Casual teasing and leg pulling by colleagues brightened Parul’s day. She realized that she was smiling after a really long time. She was happy but curious. She was liking the feeling of being pampered but she was also worried about who this secret admirer is. What is he up to? Will he create any problem in her married life? She considered sharing this with Palash but changed her mind instantly thinking that he may misunderstand.

Later in the lunch time, she opened all the boxes. The first one had an anklet – the same one she had been eyeing for a long time. She was so happy! She was amazed about the choice if the secret admirer and was curious to know how did he know that she had wanted that anklet since a long time. She thought hard to remember if she had mentioned about it to any one in the office, may be she did to some of her girl friends but why will she mention it to her males friends? And obviously, the secret admirer couldn’t be a girl – or that’s what Parul thought. Parul was full of mixed emotions – happiness, flattering, excitement, anxiety – all at the same time.

Her excitement reached a new level when she opened the second gift. It was a beautiful writing pad and a Mont Blanc pen – both her favorites. There was something scribbled on the writing pad – it said, “please do not stop writing beautiful poems that you always wrote when you were in college” Oh my, was this some old flame from college? Who was he? And how did he remember about her poems when she herself had long forgotten about her passion?

It was getting very difficult for Parul to contain all the excitement. She was thinking very hard about who could be this secret admirer. Her heart was pounding hard when she was about to open the third gift. The message on the gift box had created more suspense. “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” The secret admirer wanted to meet her on her birthday! She quickly opened the box and was surprised to see two tickets to the premier show of the movie of her favorite star! What?? She was going to get to meet her favorite superstar on her birthday??!!! Parul was on cloud nine! How did the secret admirer know about her craze for that superstar and how did he manage to book the ticket for the premier show?

By now, Parul’s face was glowing with excitement and happiness. But she wasn’t sure if she should go and meet the secret admirer. That day when she returned home her mood was nice after a long time. Kids were happy to see that their mom is no more cranky and irate. When nothing on earth could help to set Parul’s mood right, these small gifts went a long way. This secret admirer had easily done something which Palash could never do in 11 years. Parul couldn’t sleep that night thinking about meeting the superstar and the secret admirer the next day. It was going to be an eventful birthday this year!

The D-day!

Parul couldn’t wait to reach office to find the last gift. Today, the gift sticker only said “Happy birthday Shona!” She quickly opened the box and couldn’t believe her eyes! There was a diamond necklace – the same she had been wishing for since years but hesitating to ask for it from Palash. There was also a small note saying “Please pick me up at the airport at 3 pm today. Can’t wait to see you on your birthday” A smile broke on Parul’s lips and tears rolled down her cheeks.

The cat was out of the bag. The secret admirer was none other than Palash himself. Parul was moved to see his efforts to make her happy and she wondered how did he plan this execution so well. She was touched to realize that, all this while when she felt Palash was ignoring her to the core, Palash was actually noting her every wish, every desire and he even remembered her long lost passion of writing poems. While she thought that love and romance was fading away from their life, Palash had brought it back with a bang. While she was mad at Palash two weeks ago for not noticing her attempt of reminding her birthday, there he was deeply engrossed in planning all the execution. Parul knew how hectic his business tours are and she felt so special that he made arrangements to return on her birthday! She felt guilty for blaming her loving husband of ignorance and neglect. While she was immersed in her happiness and guilt, she was greeted mischievously by Tara, a colleague – “Happy Birthday Parul. So, how were the surprises since last 4 days?” Parul stared at her wondering how did she know about all this when she sat on another floor altogether and Parul had never mentioned about anything to her.

Slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle had fitted together. Palash had cleverly planned this with the help of Tara. Tara and Palash were batch-mates from MBA and they had re-connected at the annual party of Payal’s office last year.

Parul had fallen in love with Palash all over again. It was indeed her best birthday. They started a new life together from that day. Love, pampering and romance had found a new meaning.

We all hit a phase in our marriage when it gets extremely boring. That is the time when we feel like giving up but actually that is the time when we should hang on the most. We take our partner for granted and over the period of time we stop doing those small things which make them happy. While we assume increasing responsibilities in life and excel in them, we fail to do justice to that special relationship with our partner unknowingly. It’s not that we don’t love our partner any more but we fail to understand how important it is to express our love. Expression of love strengthens a relationship.

I think all of us should make sure to sprinkle some love and top up the relationship with surprises and pampering, irrespective of the age!

Wishing you all a wonderful relationship filled with love! Cheers.

GROWTH OF THE BONDING

During Christmas, a survey was conducted with a few teenage kids. They were asked, “What would you hope to get this Christmas? They asked for a Computer – A giant Barbie house – A Trophy Case – A Xbox 360 – A Minecraft legos”. Then they were asked, “What would your Mom or Dad hope to get this Christmas?” They replied, “My mom would love to have a Gold Ring since she never really had a ring” – “She loves Necklace” – “They would be happy to get a new TV” – “He wants a night watches” –  “Dad needs a motorbike”.

To their surprise, the kids got all they desired both for them and for their family but there was an “either-or” catch. They had to choose between the two alternative gifts. Though it’s was quite troublesome for them but their choice turned-out a great blessing. Each of the kids decided to give up their gifts and took the gifts for their parents. They reasoned, “Barbie house & Legos don’t matter, FAMILY MATTERS! It is the only time I can gift something to my family. My relationship with my family is more important than the gifts I want”.

Bible says, ”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God”. And the expression of love is only found in “Sacrifice”. The biggest example of “the expression of love in sacrifice” seen in human history is the purpose of the Christmas story. God loves us so much that, He took birth in a human flesh named ‘Jesus’ and lived with us to die and pay the wages of our sins that we had and we will commit ever.

It would be profound to say, “Sacrifice nurtures relationship”. But in this blissful nurturing the clock also strikes through some gloomy phase. Sketching the picture further I would say, in the full-moon evenings of our relationship there also dawns a moonless evening – dark, worrisome and weak.

After each of our seminars and events, I and one of my brother prefer to meet for a personal time of analysis. Like that after one of our events, I went to meet my brother. While on the way I was thinking since I had hosted the event effectively, there is nothing more to discuss about the event just we will discuss the follow-up plans. But as we start our discussion, his opening line was, “Avinash, I am not at all happy the way you hosted the event yesterday.” Making the long story short, he scolded me like an elder brother and showed all my faults from tip to toe. As a matter of fact, he also scold me for the way I stood and walked while taking the sessions. I left his house with a heavy and discouraged heart and almost for a couple of days the only question that was bothering me was – “Am I so hopeless and so uncultured? How can he talk like this? Am I a big failure – a big zero?” After some time one more question came to my mind which answered all my questions and pushed me to mature thinking – “WHY DID HE NOTICE ME SO KEENLY ALL THE TIME?”

Those who loves us deeply, they always judges us quickly. A good soul shows us the mirror, not to humiliate us for our mistakes but to humble us and exalt us to a glorious standard without flaterring us.

An English proverb says, “Intent is prior to Content”. Taking one of the inside looks of the breaking of relationships can be ‘immature thinking’. In a relationship when our beloved one shows us our shortcomings, we immediately bracket them as the fault-finder of our life. We start looking at them through the eyes of an enemy. Whereas the reality of the story is too sacred. A person with good intent will always be the one who keeps a close eye on us so that he can show us our shortcomings and help us grow to the glorious standards of life. Joining for the round of applause is always easy and a public expression whereas often time the intent of the praiser is evil.

Relationship is always PROTO to an individual’s existence. Following the PROTOness of relationship comes the importance of loving and sacrificing for one another that grooms the relationship. As LOVE – SACRIFICE & GOOD UNDERSTANDING (MATURE THINKING) coalesce the bonding in the relationship grows from strength to strength and the beauty becomes exemplary.

The Bible says,

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,

just as you are doing.

ARE YOU A GOOD NEIGHBOUR?

When we talk about the delicate issue of RELATIONSHIPS our discussions hover around bonds between spouses, friends, lovers, parents, in-laws too. But the most immediate relationship is often given a miss or rarely finds a mention in that list – Neighbours.

I think I don’t have to reiterate the importance of neighbours when there’s a commandment  in the Bible itself- Love Thy Neighbour!

Who are Neighbours? Rather who are good neighbours? Or what are default neighbour settings? Door bell rings, ding dong- “Hello can I borrow one cup of sugar? Do you have a glass of milk? We have guests at our home can we send them over? What is your son doing? When is your daughter getting married? Hope we haven’t disturbed you. Hope you were not busy.  How dare you let the speck of dust from your home flew to our gate?”  Yeah this is how a standard neighbour behaves 😁. Yeah I grew up among such amazing neighbourhood where people’s interest always lied in other’s business. In fact during my 10 years stay in Belgium I missed such intervening neighbours (😉 pun intended). And whenever I visit my brother in India the same void is fulfilled by his neighbours who always make sure that they never miss an update from what is happening within the four walls of his home 😁. I love that, I enjoy that.

Well, this was a dose of humour. But relationship with neighbours has a serious tone to it.  My father used to say “Neighbours are very important in our lives. Our friends, our relatives all stay away from us. It takes time for any information  to reach them and eventually for them to reach us. When problems, traumas, disasters strike us it’s our neighbour that attends us first”. This made a mark on my mind permanently. We often talk about Society but that’s our neighbhours and a cluster of neighbourhoods that comprise  our society, isn’t it? So cordial relationships are so important for a robust society.

On innumerable occasions I have seen my father reaching out to help neighbours without holding grudges (also fortunate enough to have had neighbours who stood by us in our thick and thins). Having seen him take a stand for others I understood that relationship between neighbours is as delicate as any other relationship that we cherish and vouch for.

How to be a good neighbour?

  • Don’t try to peep in their lives through the creeks in the walls: We all have encountered such neighbours I am sure.  But too much intervention in personal spaces serves only irritation and agitation. We live in times where people need space from parents and spouses then neighbours should behave accordingly 😁. Please don’t worry too much about the gold your neighbour buys or their kids’ education or marriage. They can take care of that.
  • Don’t hold grudges: Ususally people hold grudges for trivial issues like ” they didn’t invite us to their son’s first birthday party, we were not informed about the promotion Mr.XYZ got” and this comic list goes on.  This is human nature. But you will be called human only when you act human. When something goes wrong with your neighbour, when the need for help arises in your proximity you should act instead of taunting.  You might not be able to offer financial assistance often but then your presence also counts amidst the crises situation.  Think about it!
  • Use your tongue wisely:  Tongue is a powerful weapon. It can heal, it can hurt. We all know how and what I mean so won’t go into an explanation mode. Spreading rumours, gossiping, using foul language, talking nonsense and inflicting pain and fear are signs of the rotten mentality. Stay clear of this in both directions – neither be a spectator/ recipient nor a participant.  Use your words to soothe a person’s grief, to boost confidence, to support.  Be a good person, period! And remember Karma always catches up.

A warm greeting, a gentle smile, a sound advice (only when asked 😁), a steady hand stretched out to help – And here you are  –  A good neighbour.  Be it, Be the change you want to see and people will not only love you but might possibly follow your footsteps.

And not to miss cordial relationships with neighbours is important at all levels be it buildings or countries – just saying 😁😉.

HEALTHY FRIENDSHIP -A MUST IN TODAY’S WORLD

Friendships as always being meant as the sweetest relation you have on earth. The one with whom you can be as vulnerable as you can.

Most friendships are dealt with without much thinking. Every phase of life we meet different kinds of people, with whom we develop a unique relation. Every friendship has a beauty to adore. Each people we bond with have a unique identity in life. Yet again maintaining a friendship is much harder.

Types of Friends

Some friends stay all along with us, in hard and easy times but, at some point in time, they get hurt for even the silliest thing that happens, and tends to break the bond over it. It is hard to convince someone to stay in a relationship when the trust is broken.

Whereas some friends , do not bother much, but they will be around when required. They are like candles in our life. They just come in when needed and then fade away or keep themselves negligible among the crowd.

Few friends, like the long-distance ones, they just remind and help us to recollect the days that were lost once in our life. They bring back memories as they shared the most important phase with us.  They are the ones with whom, we can continue even after a long gap.

Nonjudgemental ones- the most favorite of mine. They just are good listeners, they tell you everything without any filtration. They let you be as vulnerable as you can. Even if you do the hideous thing in life, they accept as vulnerable you are. (hard to find though)

Judgemental ones are again hard to be with. We have to be cautious with every word we speak with them. Even though they might be helpful or even good with us, they tend to judge which is hard to ignore.

How do we maintain these friendships?

The hardest part is maintaining friendships. We are all selfish that we want all kinds of friends with us, surrounded all the time.  The first thing is we need to appreciate one’s privacy and their importance in our life. Give them the needed value and appreciate their value-add to our life. Even friends fight, it is natural (as we are humans), but it doesn’t mean we can’t reconcile. Ensure that you reconcile even if it is the hardest thing to do. Remember that the best things to be done are the hardest, yet the best always.

Being a friend means understands all the ups and downs your friends face. It is important to understand and be with them when they need. Some friendships break in a spur of the moment. It is important to go to the root cause and then decide upon one’s behavior. It is even true with every relationship.

Tolerance is an important aspect to consider in any relationship. Friendships truly require it in abundance. Tolerating one’s behavior when they are in their mood swings or even the happiest moments is tough as we tend to name it in the wrong way. So if you want a healthy relationship in friendship, be tolerant.

To Sum up,

Friendships do add great value to your life. Treat friends as they are the best you get who is irreplaceable in life. Never make assumptions about friends be open always. Keep clarity in your friendship.

DISCARDED TISSUE PAPER

When I found the love of my life, the rest of the world didn’t matter to me. He was my new found world. He was my present and my future. He added meaning to my life. Our hands together were enough to spin strands of gold for the path that lay before us.

And, he thought similarly too. For him, I was his queen – his friend, motivator, honest critic and an ever-loving wife. People held us as an exemplary couple. ‘A marriage made in heaven’ – said many. We soaked in all the compliments with wide smiles. Our loving bond strengthened by the day.

The gifts of this loving union are our two munchkins – yes, I still call them munchkins though both are in their twenties now. Our love for each other grew with every passing year that we spent with each other. We understood each other so well! And, we had made a pact with each other to agree to disagree. So . . . there weren’t intense quarrels between us. Of course, we argued in plenty – two different beings after all and numerous life situations to encounter! But, all our disagreements and arguments ended with one conceding to the other. Sometimes, it was me and at other times it was him.

Life moved on. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, passing away of loved ones, work stress, tantrums of children, low finances, fevers, pleading cries of the kids during immunization, mood swings of each other and not to mention the night snores (he snores a lot and I had such a difficult time putting up with it initially, though we laughed about it every other morning) – we dealt with all of these quite well.

Let me narrate a couple of episodes.

It was his father’s sixtieth birthday. We had arranged for a grand destination celebration. My father-in-law’s favorite color is yellow (I still remember). We had got the place all decorated in yellow – yellow flowers, yellow ribbons, yellow carpet (which was really hard to find), chairs draped in yellow covers and yellow tapestries. It was my idea. My father-in-law appreciated it so much that he went on talking about it for days together. He even went to the extent of dedicating a song for me that evening, the ever-loving daughter (yes, he never referred to me as daughter-in-law) that I was.

On another occasion, we had been to a New Year Eve’s party hosted by some of his friends and their spouses. We had been married for ten years by then. During a game of Truth and Dare, he was ‘dared’ to flirt with a ravishing lady in the crowd. He looked at me and then at the others and said, ‘I accept defeat. I admit . . . I’m not a daring person. Twenty four hours a day is still less to flirt with my girl’, as he put his hand over mine. I still remember the tender look in his eyes that evening. My blushing cheeks didn’t go unnoticed by those present around the table!

Those were the days in which he was slowly climbing up the career ladder. We had many sacrifices to make for each other and for the family. He always acknowledged how much I encouraged and supported him

I was twenty seven and he was a month more than twenty eight when we had married. Our munchkins opened their eyes in this planet at an interval of four years, two years after our marriage. Parenting wasn’t easy. It isn’t even now!! But, we both played our parts well, though his work didn’t give him the luxury to spend a lot of time with us.

As I juggled between work and family, his absence started to become quite conspicuous. We . . . talked about it. His answers didn’t satisfy me. But, I left it at that. Gradually, our monthly date nights became infrequent. Since I was overworked with job and family chores, I often lazed over the thought of dressing up and going out to parties. He dissented my disinterest. But then, he too wasn’t available when I had less work or was in the mood.

One night, our argument intensified. The words we hurled at each other weren’t pleasant. No abusive words were exchanged. No fist fights or throwing things around. But . . . suppressed expectations were expressed in enraged tones. For the first time in sixteen years of marriage, I slept with tears wetting my pillow. He didn’t put his arm around me as he always did  to pacify me when we went to bed after an argument.

I felt . . . something break within me. What I didn’t realise that night was that it was the beginning of the end! We lasted five more years. His constant neglect for me (though he continued to be a doting father whenever he did spare some time), broke me. I realised that I failed to attract him any more. Well, two child-births and the daily juggle between work and family had taken their tolls on my youthful looks. 

With his attention drifting away from me, I thought I was being unjust by being in his life. After all why would a man come home to a wife who interests him no more! He had reached the top of the career ladder by then. He was a successful man. And, he still looked young and attractive. ‘Maybe, that’s why he no longer likes me by his side,’ I thought. I was too pent up with unspoken emotions.

And then, one morning during one of our high-pitched arguments (which had begun to become frequent) he shouted out loud, ‘I am sick and tired of you.’ I was speechless. I felt the ground slip from beneath my feet as he voiced my apprehensions.

We finalized our separation two months after that.

I spent my fiftieth birthday with my children – my first birthday after our separation.

It has been four years since.

I have moved on. My children are my world now. It was difficult for them to understand and accept the separation. But, they have come to terms with it now.

He has moved on too. He has remarried. His wife (how much it aches my heart to call someone else as his wife is known to me alone) is young, beautiful and successful. Recently they celebrated their daughter’s first birthday. He had invited our children too. I encouraged them to go. They like visiting their father and paternal grandparents and I have never wanted them to cut off ties or harbour bitter feelings, though it still is a bit awkward.

I saw the photos and the videos of the celebration. His smile was just like the one he wore during the blissful years of our marriage. His father, now seventy six, hailed his wife as the best daughter (he didn’t address her as daughter-in-law just as he never addressed me that way).

They all looked happy. It was a normal family celebration. Nothing seemed amiss.

As I sit looking at the pictures controlling my tears from gushing out, I ask myself, ‘Did none of them miss me during the get-together? After all, I was a part of their lives for twenty one years – more than two decades! Is it that easy to forget someone who has been a part of your life – who has been a part of your laughter, tears, sicknesses, worries, failures and successes? ‘

I feel like the discarded tissue paper. We look for a clean fresh tissue paper to serve our needs. Once it gets soiled, we lose no time in discarding it. Do we ever remember that discarded tissue paper again?

Divorces and remarriages are rampantly becoming the norm not only in advanced cultures, but also in conservative societies. What was once looked at upon with raised eyebrows is widely encaptioned as a ‘laissez faire’ survival strategy. Though both the separated partners deal with their shares of emotional baggages, it is often more difficult for that partner who chooses not to get into another relationship after the separation. More often that not, it is the woman who gets to deal with the litany of emotions upswelling within her. This holds true for all classes of people – from glamorous movie stars to the middle-class homemakers. 

Relationships are delicate!  The next time you look at a discarded tissue paper, think of that deserted wife (or husband) who has been tossed into lonesome corners. Spare them a thought and instead of being judgemental, let your souls be sensitive to hear the imperceptible cries of such despondent hearts.

 

(Disclaimer: The narrative is based on those women who find themselves ‘unwanted’ after marital separation. This is neither a personal account nor based exclusively on any particular person’s experiences.)

 

WHAT RACKET ARE YOU RUNNING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

While doing one of the Life coaching courses, I was quite upset because I had a recent fight with my boyfriend (now husband). I was upset because he felt that I wasn’t giving him enough time whereas I knew so well that I was doing my best. It was a never ending fight between us. That day when my coach saw me upset and heard my story, he said – “Why you running this racket with your boyfriend?” Just stopping racketing and fix the real concern. I was in middle of that course that explained what a relationship racket is, so I instantly got him and started to laugh. With this change of perspective, I just needed an hour to resolve a million conflicts between me and Kapil. 

What really is a racket?

Racket is a scam. It is a fixed way of being which results in persistent complaints. Complaints could be about yourself or about others. Rackets result in constant complaints and consistent way of behaving. 

Still not clear, let me explain with an example

Reena lives with her in laws. Invariably, she and her mother in law always have a cold war going on about how to handle the kitchen work. Reena likes to cook but her style of cooking is very different than what her in laws are used to. Plenty of food goes for a waste when she cooks because nobody likes the taste. Finding this discouraging, she stopped cooking altogether. Due to this the load of cooking came on the Mother in law. Few months down the line, mother in law started to complain about Reena not participating in the kitchen. However, that isn’t entirely true because Reena tries to  do everything else around the house and kitchen. This constant complaints from both sides is the source of stress in the house. Many a times there are arguments, taunts and silent treatments to each other. It impacts the energy of the house. It impacts the peace of mind and health of these two ladies. 

So, this is constant way of being. Both of them don’t want to change their attitude and yet complain about each other. This is a typical example of a racket. 

Why do we run rackets?

Because there is a payoff. Every time we behave in a certain unproductive way, there is payoff that we just don’t want to let go off. Payoff is a gift that we get run a racket. But this payoff comes at a cost. Look at the examples of payoffs

Payoffs

Cost

Being right / making others wrong Health / peace of mind
Dominate / avoid others dominating  Satisfaction
Justify / Invalidate others Fulfillment
Win / make other lose Love / affinity / relationship
Look good / make others look bad Vitality

For every Payoff that we get, we have to pay the cost. 

How to identify rackets

Look at all the constant complaints that you have in your life against other people (or yourself). And ask yourself

Is there a fixed way of being? 

Is there a fixed complaint? 

Do you see a payoff right away? 

If you see a payoff, then look at the cost that you are paying for that payoff?

Once you know the payoff and cost, you have the right to choose. You can still choose the payoff but at least it is a conscious decision to keep running a racket. 

So, in short you are running a racket in your relationships when you keep paying a much precious cost for an unproductive payoff. And you keep doing it for days, months and years together resulting in unfulfilled and unproductive life.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WILD FLOWERS AND THE FLOWERS IN A GARDEN

A few years back, one of my very close friends revealed that she used to like me a lot and even have feelings for me presently (the time she revealed her feelings). But it was also true that she was happily married to her husband for years together. She could reveal her heart because she was clean in her heart and confirmed her dedication and love for her husband. But she went on to ask me a question that made me ponder on it, seeking an answer to that question.

“Why God gives that feeling of love in our hearts for someone very special but doesn’t give the scope to culminate it?”

And I quite relate to that question as I have come across many beautiful relationships where I’ve felt to be drifting away though I have managed myself to get back to be on the track. But this question still slithers in my mind and heart even today without having a proper answer to it. In fact, whenever I try to search a proper answer to that question it lets my mind raises more questions in my mind:

 Are connections bad? Probably, I will outnumber everyone in having connections with so many…

Is it better to avoid making friends? I have never learnt avoiding or ignoring any human who interests me or who extends a hand towards me.

Are emotions supposed to be suppressed? I am so outright honest with my feelings that I haven’t learnt the skills to suppress my feelings at all.

Is it good, pretending everything to be alright? Not at all, I really can’t pretend and be alright.

And the last question is a deadly one…

Is drawing a line necessary? Absolutely!

Relationships are so beautiful that we build with people irrespective of their genders. But ironically, it is absolutely necessary for us to draw a line when we are supposed to. I would like to confess, sometimes I hate to draw a line with someone I love so much. But I just force myself to do so… 😦

Why is it necessary? Why I do not have the scope or freedom to express my love for just anyone irrespective of their statuses (of whatever kind)? WHY???

I will give you a mental picture which might help you to understand why is it necessary to draw a line in relationships…

When we take a walk in the woods, or roads, or a field we find many beautiful flowers across the path blooming and smiling at us. They grow erratically with freedom. They look good, no doubt about it but they succumb to their end without proper care and attention because they are stray, far from a caretaker. Usually, those who walk across them, pluck them or uproot them from the source of their life and nourishment.

Whereas, if we look at the flowers in a garden, they bloom with pride and were well taken care of by someone who is attentive to them, not necessarily an able gardener or farmer.

Relationships that we make are like those beautiful flowers blooming with different colours and beauty. But they all look beautiful, protected and safe within a boundary drawn with godly standards.

The Bible says,

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

And a person with self-control draws a line and creates a beautiful garden.

How about bringing those wild flowers into the garden within a boundary? They will look beautiful within those lines as well.

Actually, our fallen nature makes things complicated. And God, probably doesn’t allow us to be disorderly and stray because He knows, the more we are allowed, the more perverse we will be in our behaviour and life. Why can’t we be of a clean mind, and keep beautiful friendships all around?

Friends! Let’s enjoy the relationships that we make within a permissive line drawn for the safety and lasting of those relationships.

  Stay Blessed!