I am quite afraid of the “we need to talk” kind of situations in my personal life and at work, I am worried to see a meeting invite from the manager with just the subject mentioned as “Connect” and no agenda mentioned. Both represent not-so-happy communication, rather, it’s self-explanatory that it’s gonna be a difficult conversation. As one grows, one witnesses such conversations and there is no escape route.

Listening to negative things about yourself is not easy. Let me put it in better words. Listening to the areas of improvement in your work or behaviour is not easy and the first reaction is the defense. Most of us try to defend ourselves even before truly evaluating what we did. This does no good and then makes the conversation even more complicated. Next comes the blame game. It’s kind of easy to push the blame. Isn’t it? But does that make you clean? Think about it.

Over the years, I have been in such situations many times, and the journey from being a naive individual or professional to a mature and experienced one has given me a lot of learnings. And now, I have learned to look beyond the defense and the blame game. What do I exactly do?

While discussing the negative feedback the first and foremost thing that I do is accept the mistake. It’s hard but it’s the best to do! Then I talk about why it happened and what can I do to improve it. Trust me, this makes the conversation easier and short. Post this discussion, I reflect upon myself and disintegrate the feedback. I pick up what is useful and let go of what is not. Remember that not ALL that you get to hear is right or useful. Make your choice. Negative feedback or areas of improvement are not always a bad discussion if you learn to decide which part to keep and which part to let go of. Thus, you can actually turn these difficult conversations into something good.

But what if there is no mistake done by you and yet you get a mouthful from your boss, spouse, or parents? It happens, right? And what’s the immediate reaction of most of us? Yell back? Or revert in an aggressive way? Does it help? Definitely not! What do I do then?

Again, this didn’t come to me naturally but I have learnt it on my way to growing up! I stay calm! Sometimes so calm that it calms down the other person. We all know that one word leads to another and in no time an argument can flare-up. So, staying calm really works in these situations. The next thing that I do is the person what makes him believe that needless to say, in a very controlled tone. Once you know the source, it’s easy to clear the air. In most such situations, the misunderstanding is cleared but not all situations and people are the same. So, after considerable effort, if I feel that the other person DOESN’T want to understand, I end the discussion by saying “LET’S AGREE TO DISAGREE”.

Now, what I do after that is even more important. I shed off all the inhibitions about how good or bad I am in the eyes of that person. Again, this didn’t come naturally to me but I have learned this over the years. Someone has truly said that don’t let the negative feedback DEFINE YOU. You are much more!

So, take it with a pinch of salt and move ahead. Negative feedback can actually help you only if you learn how to deal with it. How do you cope with negative feedback and difficult conversations? Do you reflect upon them? Does it drive you to do better or do you break down? Do share your experience and tips and tricks!


“To meet any eventuality and to ensure smooth management of relief and rescue operations which may arise out of flood-like situation due to the heavy rainfall occurred in this district, it is hereby ordered that all officers shall remain present in their respective headquarters including Sunday. Any absence will be viewed seriously and action such as deemed proper will be taken against the defaulting person.”

Orders such as these are not uncommon in my line of work. But, what made me smile on receiving this order two days before was the fact that just few minutes before receiving this order, I had seen a WhatsApp message to write on the topic – ‘REST’ for CandlesOnline. I had volunteered to write for Monday, thinking that I could write leisurely on Sunday. But, what an irony it turned out to be! Leave alone write an article, my rest day was gone! Though losing a day’s rest usually makes one cringe, in emergency situations the call of duty is supreme.

Emergencies emerge every now and then in each of our lives – a loved one suddenly taken ill, a road accident, an unexpected death in the family. These are exceptions requiring occasional adjustments in our schedules for temporary periods during which our rest gets affected. Our bodies adapt, accommodate and rebound without much effort in responses to situations such as these. However, continual deprivation of rest is a silent killer!

Rest (it includes sleep and relaxation) is an integral part of longevity. Research shows that people deprived of adequate rest have a reduced life span, score lower on the performance scale and aren’t able to sustain for long. Machines made to run for durations longer than their performance capacity, often break down. They then need oiling and repair before they start functioning again. Without repair, they simply rust and rot due to disuse.

We humans are so much more than mere machines!

While it is important to find rest times for ourselves, it is equally crucial to identify the need for rest in the people around us. A humanized world is rapidly getting mechanized in a widely expanding digitized world! So much so, that we are increasingly losing sensitivity to the need for rest and relaxation in ourselves and others.  

Heard of the boss who comes to office at mid-day while issuing a whip for his staff to reach office before working hours and makes them to stay on beyond official working hours? An insensitive boss! The rest-deprived employees then vent out their frustration before their families, thus creating an unhealthy environment of depression, fear, anxiety and continual friction. Insensitivity breeds insensitivity!

From of years old, we all have been used to seeing wives and mothers working day in and day out to care for their families. Taking care of sick children, helping in their studies, cooking as per the taste buds of the family members, dusting, cleaning, attending to guests and some even balancing a job alongside. No gender biases, but cultural stereotypes world-over mostly accord the household chores to females, and hence the division of labour. That’s beside the point, since this article is not about gender equality or stereotypes. Be it a man who is engaged in heaps of chores or a woman, each one needs adequate rest. It is not justice for one person to slog for hours together without resting, without any one else lending a helping hand.

Human capital is a rich resource. It contributes aplenty to economic development. Apart from skill and training, the other important factor in assessing and tapping on to valuable human capital is ‘efficiency’. Efficiency is in turn assessed by performance. Performance is directly impacted by rest or the lack of it. Do you see the sequence here? Rest and relaxation indirectly impact economic development big time.

An organization having overworked employees will be an under performer in the long run, compared to organizations offering adequate rest, relaxation and recreation times to employees. Yes, each of us need to be on the toes in a fast-paced world – be it students in their studies or adults at work and home. None of us wants a night’s slumber at the cost of falling behind. Yet, it is wise to let the body clock tick away gracefully rather than pave the way for the clock to leap before time. Recognising the need for adequate rest and unwinding, some work places have a scheduled time for power naps or relaxation avenues like gyms, cafeterias, etc.

Two quick take aways:


You may be a person who can multitask efficiently. Still, identify people around to whom you can delegate some of your tasks. If you are a mother, delegate some tasks to your children. If you are a team leader, delegate tasks to your team members. If you are one of those meticulous perfectionists, who cannot rest in peace without micromanaging, work on yourself to let go of obsessive management and look for smart ways of management with optimum productivity. Use the time saved, for a siesta. A burnt out candle gives no light. It just leaves behind smoky remains. Divide and delegate tasks so that you can continue to glow and shine in the world.


Look around you for overworked people. It doesn’t mean that you go snooping into others houses, offices or even into other people’s lives. Start from your immediate surroundings. Start at home. Check with your relatives and your immediate community. Share responsibilities so that others get time to rest. Accept delegated tasks without a grumble or a murmur when you have spare time. Awaken the spirit of sensitivity and the sense of realization that people around you need adequate rest. Sharing of responsibilities is a vital indicator of caring for others.

We can contribute towards a healthier world with happier people if we learn to rest well and realize that others need to rest too.


You want to see him?” Murli asked in a low hushed tone as if seeking confirmation and to assure that walls that mended between hearts have finally crashed and grounded completely.

Son, are you testing this father?” Mr. Swamy’s voice was feeble, tears rolled down and there was a fierce battle of love and pain in his eyes.

Murli caught hold of his hand tightly in the warmth of his palms and said “forgive me father, this wait of eternity shall be over now” as he sat on his knees besides Mr. Swamy’s bed and connected the video call to Manohar.

Satya finally here’s a call from Murli, I am picking it up, come quickly” cried excited and equally nervous Mano. “Give me minute” pat comes reply from Satya.

Hi Mur…” and a silence ensued pausing Mano’s words as he saw his family with Murli, in fact the other way round. All the feelings that he suppressed for so long now chocked his voice struggling to find an expression. And his emotions found reciprocation on the other side as well. Words didn’t escape lips but lot was being spoken.

Mano, is Rhea with Murli? Is everything fine there? Why they didn’t respond or called us all these days” and Satya went on before she finally joined Mano and saw whom he was facing.

She was dumb stuck. It took few moments for her to register before she broke the silence. She firmly kept her hand on Mano’s shoulder who was still at loss of words, prompting him to break out to build again. And decided to walk away from this reunion to give Mano and his family Time. As she was making her way out of that scene, a voice interrupted her.

Please don’t go away daughter“. It was Mano’s father. And this was the moment when Satya just gave in. “Appa, you called me daughter?” Happiness and astonishment were all over the place.

Yes and I should have done it long back” Mr. Swamy trying to straighten his back and sit as Murli helped him. “I was so blinded by my ego and false prestige that I purposefully turned oblivion to all the good things in life, to all the goodness you all possess. I am a culprit for I have sinned by breaking and keeping my family separated. I was stubborn enough to have kept a mother longing for her son, I have kept a sister at bay from the love and care of her brother and most importantly I have wronged you. I tried to snatch the love of your life and dash your dreams. When I failed in that my inferiority complex left no stone unturned to mend strong walls in an attempt to make Mano realise his mistake. Why I failed to see beyond the tags of Name, Family background, caste, society! I saw your mother in law weeping alone looking at the pictures of Mano but nothing moved me. This realisation came so late. I am ashamed of what I did but can only seek forgiveness. I request all of you to forgive this old man. I understand time can’t be reversed but going forward can be better if lessons learnt from the past mistakes. I beg you all, grant this old man forgiveness.

And Satya & Mano interrupted “please Appa don’t say that. We never wished to see you like this. All we desired for was your love and blessings. May be we could have chosen a different path to seek your acceptance, may be we could have waited a bit longer and tried to convince you. Ifs and buts, maybe – may not be are all part and parcels of our realisations and experiences. We couldn’t have asked more from the almighty“.

Every eye was teary at this moment as pain mounted for so long was finally easing up. And smiles slowly making their way to the serene faces as agony has winded up and tranquility set in.

Prema and Mano’s mother took turns to pour out their hearts and the house was now resonating with Pearl’s of laughter.

Murli and Rhea were watching this without uttering a word. And as they were lost in this emotional roller coaster show Mano’s father signaled Murli to come closer. As he came to the frame Mr. Swamy said “Mano, had it not been Murli and Rhea this old man would have died without his last wish being fulfilled. No amount of gratitude is enough for these kids. He is my second son, I found a person to whom I can complain about you, so be careful Mr.Mischievous” and burst out laughing, opening up to his son and daughter in law have surely pumped in new energy into this frail being.

Surely Appa, I owe my world to him” Mano looked at Murli with eyes filled with gratitude and continued “stop saying old man, last wish and all. Pull up your socks, buck up and be the fit Swamy I always knew because someone is eager to see you soon” Mano finally broke the news placing his hand on Satya’s stomach and Satya blushed.

Then why are you making her stand for so long, so careless you are Mano” his mother sweetly reprimanded Mano.

Blushes and smiles continued before the call ended and Mano announced that they will be coming home soon, maybe after a month or two as the project is getting over prematurely for some issues.

Amma, Appa, we will come soon” emotionally overwhelmed Mano ended the call.

After two months:

Satya and Mano landed in India, went to their apartment and met the other Swamy couple. Both the couples were on cloud nine in each other’s company. They missed it badly. The coincidence of same names might have spelled confusions for them to begin with but many bonds that have been knitted as a result of this are nothing but pure bliss to be cherished for life. Everything happens for good, for a reason – to sum it up.

Meanwhile Mano and Satya were in touch with “their” family. The happiness of having his family back has worked wonders for Mr. Swamy. He was rejuvenated and longing to welcome the new member of the family.

And finally the day arrived when Satya and Mano were set to leave, they met Rhea and Murli at their place bell rang. When Rhea opened the door, a girl in was standing there “Hi I am RIA, your new neighbour, just moved yesterday evening. Can I have a cup of milk please, running out of it…?”

And here we go again said Rhea.



Murli and Rhea took the earliest flight to the nearest airport to the town where they rushed as quick as possible at this dire state of the old man on his death bed.

How terrible it is, isn’t it, Murli?” Rhea leaned on Murli’s shoulder whispering to him.

Yeah, it is. And it is only we who can stand in the gap for them, our beloveds.” Murli said gently kissing his wife’s forehead.

When death is near, people tend to forget every resentment, bitterness, difference of opinions against others that they rear for so long. I wonder why they don’t do it when they are happy in life… It would have been so good and easy for them as well as all others around them.” Rhea was philosophical and emotional at the same time.

Hmm… Right.” Murli agreed with his beautiful wife as they waited for the flight to land.

Had it not been same, the letter in Manohar’s name would not have reached in Murli’s doorstep and if the letter would not have reached them, they couldn’t have known that Manohar’s father was terribly sick and seeking to see his son and daughter in law’s face at least for the last time. It was a letter from Manohar’s sister, Prema, letting her brother know their father’s condition and wishes. But Prema had no knowledge about his brother’s whereabouts and where he is located at present. She had secretly kept contact with her brother, Manohar. Their father was angry with him because he married to an orphan, deserted girl who had no family background. Satya had lost hope in life, if Manohar would not have held her tight. And he left everything to be with her for the rest of their lives.

Murli and Rhea finally reached Manohar’s father’s house in a bus from the airport. They were extremely tired because of the 6 hours bus journey to this small town yet they had the joy that they could be of some help to their most loved friends and their family.

Prema was surprised to see these strangers instead of her brother and bhabi, “I am sorry, I could not recognize you both!!!”

Prema, that’s your name, right?” Rhea asked as she hugged her tight making her confused all the more.

Would you not allow your guests to at least come inside?” Murli smiled and asked her as he greeted the old lady standing inside, knowing that she could be their mother.

Yes…yess… I am sorry… Please come in… But…where’s Mano Bhaiya?” Prema asked frantically.

And they explained everything from the beginning till the time they had received Prema’s letter informing about her father.

Manohar and Prema’s father was happy to know about his son and daughter in law but he was sad to know that he could not get to see them right away though he was unaware of the fact that both Prema and Manohar were in touch.

Murli and Rhea did everything that was possible on their part to take care of the family despite of their resistance.

If Manohar would have been here then he would have taken care of you all the same way… Isn’t it? Are you not acknowledging this M. Swamy? Are we not the same as your son and daughter in law?” Murli said as Manohar’s mother hugged Murli tight and wept, letting all the tears flow that she kept stored within herself for years together.

Murli and Rhea brought back that smile on all of their faces which they had lost for many years. They stayed with Manohar’s family for a week or so but all these times they avoided all the video calls they received from Mano and Satya and letting them know that they will soon be back I touch. That really made Manohar and Satya bit worried, thinking what could have happened but they had no clue about what all have been happening back there in India. Murli and Rhea knowingly didn’t want to trouble them unnecessarily when “Dad” is stable now though he was not fully cured. They also didn’t share the good news about Satya’s pregnancy because they wanted Manohar to break the news himself to his family.

The day, Murli and Rhea were ready to return, the father requested something which made all both of them emotional…

Murli, you are like my second son now…” He stretched his hand towards Murli as he clasped his feeble hands quickly, sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at his watery eyes. “Yes, Dad. I am your second son. Tell me, what can I do for you?

Is he still angry with me? Can I not see him and my daughter in law once? Can you arrange it for me, for us… before you both leave?” He spoke again with a feeble voice, as his lips were sticking to each other.

Rhea nodded blinking her eyes as Murli looked at her…


2 years later:

Rhea… Rhea… come fast I am dialing in. I can’t wait to talk to Mano and Satya” called out Murli from the bedroom.
Coming Murli, just 2 mins.” Responded Rhea from the kitchen.
All the confusion of same initials leading bitter sweet experiences eventually paved way to a great friendship between the two families. It was their weekly ritual to video call each other every Saturday.
A lot had happened in the two years that went by. Mano and Satya had played a role of catalyst in the life of Murli and changed it for good.
If it wasn’t for Satya to send Rhea to the right house and then check on Murli out of concern about what was the whole fight about, Murli would have never been hitched to Rhea. The casual but persistent leg pulling of why Rhea was looking for him and pairing them and constant teasers by Satya and Mano had finally made both of them fall in love. And now they were a newly married couple drowned in love. Rhea had filled Murli’s black and white life with beautiful colours and Murli gave her the much needed love. Rhea would always say that she shall always be indebted to Satya and Mano for thinking of this alliance. That’s how a life policy seller a life maker of this man called Murli.
In the mean time, an onsite project was assigned to Mano and hence they had to move to Germany for 3 years. Nevertheless, distance didn’t matter their friendship with Murli and Rhea. They would be in touch regularly and video call every week.
Hìiiiiiiiiiiiii…. ” shrieked Satya as soon as the video call started.
Hellloòooooo…” responded Rhea with equal enthusiasm and joy while both the M Swamys’ greeted each other with their usual “what’s up bro” kindda question.
You look very excited Satya! What’s the matter?” Murli asked
How can I not be excited Murli?? There is something that we want to share with you” Satya chuckled
Wait, let me guess… are you guys moving back to India?” Rhea chipped in.
Arre no… two more years for that ya… but there is something big happening before that.” Mano clarified.
What is it now tell fast, we can’t wait.” Said Rhea impatiently.
Well…. we are expecting a baby. We had our first ultrasound today and we heard the heartbeats.” Said Satya somewhat shyly.
Whatttttt, that’s the best news!!! Congratulations guys…wow! We are going to have a junior Swamy!” Exclaimed Rhea and Murli in unison.
But guys, we want a promise from you…” said Mano with a straight face.
Don’t worry bro, this stays between us. We won’t discuss it with anyone else. Tell me, what is it?” Murli assured and Satya and Rhea were listening intently.
Promise us guys… that when you have a baby, you won’t name him or her with the same initials as that of our baby!” Mano broke into laughter while saying this and so did all others.
Later in the night:
Murli, did you see how happy Satya was?”
Yes, of course Rhea. A baby does that to all isn’t it?
Right Murli, but this is different. Satya will be the best mother in the world. I remember she telling me about how difficult it was to grow up in an orphanage and not know about parents and not get a love from mother. That time she had mentioned that she will love her child a lot, give him or her the best of everything, everything that she never got but craved for.” Rhea recounted the episode a little emotionally.
Oh Murli, I forgot to tell you.” Rhea came out from the emotional episode and jumped to her senses. She quickly opened the drawer of the writing table and handed over a letter to Murli.
Murli, see this. I got this yesterday in our mailbox. Doesn’t look like a normal correspondence. Sorry, I forgot to give it to you yesterday.
Ah.. show me what is it” Murli took the letter from Rhea in a jiffy and tore the envelope carefully to pull out a sheet of paper.
The expression on Murli’s face changed as he progressed to read the letter. Clearly, there was something to worry about.


Next morning Satya was standing in the balcony thinking about yesterday’s events. Her cheeks were still burning with embarrassment. “How could I be such a fool? Why did I just assume that the invitation was for us when we hardly know anyone?” 

Anyway this was a very weird situation. Feels like a glitch in the matrix. I mean just imagine what are the odds of two M Swamys staying in the same building same floor right next door….??

Manohar came out into the balcony to find his wife lost in thought. “Come on Wifey.. Let bygones be bygones.. Lets enjoy this perfect Sunday morning.”

The whole day was spent in setting up the house as there were still quite a few boxes left unopened. “Phew this house moving and setting up is a tiring job. Lets catch a movie in the evening and dinner after that” said Manohar trying to cheer up his still morose wife.

A week went by…

Mr. Murli seemed very busy in his work. That suited Manohar and Satya too as they didn’t want to cross paths and be reminded of the party. But mix ups kept happening as both were new to the society the watchman and neighbours also didn’t recognise them. So one day the mail was mixed up the second day the bills. They just pushed it under the door of the other Mr. M Swamy if it was not theirs.

Saturday evening again… Intercom just buzzed and the watch man said there is a lady at the gate to meet Mr. Swamy. “A lady? Who has Mano called over without even telling me. To top it all he isn’t even at home. This man is so forgetful!” thought Satya. “What name did she give?“asked Satya to the watchman. “Madam is saying she is Riihaaa..” the watchman stammered at the name. 

Weird sounding name anyways send her in..” said Satya.

When Satya opened the door a very beautifully dressed lady maybe in her late twenties was at the door. Obviously she was dressed for a party. And had a very confused expression on her face. 

Is this Mr. Swamy’s house?


I mean Mr. M Swamy…?

Yes” said Satya suppressing a smile, by now she had realised what the mistake was but she was enjoying this little charade. Actually because this time someone else was squirming under the spot light confused…

Anyways she put her out of her misery and said you mean “Mr. Murli Swamy? You are at the wrong door. This is Mr. Manohar Swamy’s house.

The lady still confused said, “But the watchman said…” 

I know this is a regular here. Two M Swamys living on the same floor. ” “That door leads to Mr M Swamy you are looking for” Satya pointed out. 

Thanks a lot. ” she said and smiled “I am Rhea by the way. the watchman really didn’t know how to pronounce it“. Said the lady. 

Satya went back to her household chores after saying bye to Rhea. Later she heard some raised voices coming from that flat. A man and woman were arguing. It had to be Murli and Rhea. The sounds were coming from that house. Satya peeked through the eye hole but couldn’t see a thing. “Oh What a racket they were creating. Looks like something serious.

Anyways its none of my business.” She watched TV. Mano was out with his friends. Perfect opportunity to catch up on the latest Netflix drama. 

After about an hour or so she heard a crash and a door banged and out came a very angry Rhea and went straight to the lift. Lift door banged shut and all was silent. Satya wondered which drama was more intriguing the one on TV or the one outside. 

Next day morning they were sitting down for breakfast when they got a call on the intercom.

Mr. Swamy this is Mr. Kapoor” Said a very serious sounding voice “I am the chairman of this society.” 

See Mr. Swamy I know you are new in our society and don’t know the rules. We take the decorum of the society very seriously. If you and your wife fight in such loud voices and then throw things and bang doors. Others are also affected. We have senior citizens living here and children. We have got complaint about the ruckus you and your wife created yesterday…

What???” Said Manohar. “I didn’t fight with my wife” “What raised voices what banging?? I don’t understand you.” Retorted the confused and little angry Manohar.

But Satya did. “Oh no not again” she thought. 

Once all the misunderstandings were cleared and explanations given and apologies sought. Both Satya and Manohar sat at the dining table with their hands on their heads. Only with one thought echoing in their mind. 

“Had it not been the same…”


So, Mr. Bose, now that the confusion is resolved, we would again like to apologise to you and Mr. Murli as well and would like to take your leave.” Manohar said, holding his wife Satya’s hand, who was smiling sheepishly.

Oh! Come on now Mr. Swamy. You don’t need to be. Besides, after all this, I can’t let two of you go without having dinner.” Mr. Bose said.

Oh yes! In fact, because of this namesake, I had such a good laughter after so many days.” Murli said, grinning.

No, we landed here just like that, committing faux pas, should have ĺthought about the invitation card. It’s our fault we came without thinking a bit. We are already too embarrassed to stay.” Satya spoke in dismay.

Murli turned his face to Satya, looked into her eyes and said, “It’s perfectly ok, Mrs Swamy. Please don’t feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. I brought you two to accompany me.” He said, smiling from ear to ear.

Satya, who was also looking at Mr. Murli, blinked her eyes, breaking the short eye contact and turned her head to fix her hairdo.

Absolutely, Mr. M.Swamy, Mr. M.Swamy & Mrs Swamy, be our guests and enjoy the rest of the party”, Mr. Bose said, signalling a waiter, and handed Murli a drink. Satya, however refused one and picked up a glass of water for herself.

You two, just enjoy and please don’t feel weird about anything. I have got my car, so we can go back together after dinner.” Murli said to Manohar and Satya, excusing himself as he had to go to meet his friends.

Oh! Okay”, Manohar said.

No thanks”, Satya interrupted. “We will book a cab.

Save fuel and care for the environment”, Murli turned back and shouted as the volume of the music was getting louder. “I will see you in a few minutes”, he said and went away.

Such a funny guy he is”, Manohar said, sipping his drink.

It’s all my fault Mano, I should have checked first, but I got so excited at the glance of party invitation only that I completely neglected the norms. Obviously, hardly anyone knows us here and inviting for a party is out of question.” Satya said

Calm down sweety. Its all right. Just enjoy. It was destined for us to come here.” Manohar tried to persuade Satya.

Yeah…destined…Had it not been same” She thought in her mind.