THE GRATMEET

It was one of the usual afternoons for Mrs. Mintington since the time her old man had left for his heavenly abode. Though she found her loneliness heart-wrenching at times, she kept herself pretty much occupied with anything that her hands could lay on.

“Grandma, not again!”

This is Sally. The bubbly teenaged granddaughter of Mrs. Mintington.

Ah! It seems the kind old lady had once again invaded her granddaughter’s privacy and had set her messy room in order.

“Ha Ha Ha, my dear princess, I will continue to intrude into that little storm-hit-of-a-kind room until you learn the art of keeping things tidy and organized. You remember the deal, right?”, quipped the wise old Granny even as Sally threw her hands up in the air and stomped into her room.

“Freshen up and come in here quick. I want you to lend me a hand with the dinner preparations. You know we are having guests over tonight, don’t you?”

“Yeah, coming”, shouted Sally from her room.

Meanwhile Mrs. Mintington took out her prized porcelain and silverware from the cupboard. It was one of the four times of the year that she took them out. Not many people take out time to visit others these days. Holidays provide the much needed break from work and are usually spent in catching up with household chores. Entertainment is available just at clicks, taps and swipes. Visiting family and friends, is thus, quite occasional.

With age slowly bringing out the aches and pains in her once agile frame, Mrs. Mintington found it quite a task to travel anywhere these days. But, she made it a point to have her loved ones over for a weekend four times a year. A get-together every three months! And, no one complained! They all made it a point to be there.

Her two daughters along with their husbands and children drove in one after the other and the otherwise calm house sprang into animated conversations, fun and laughter.

“Mama, you will never listen. Huhh! When we had told you we’ll be getting enough food to probably last us all a few days, why did you have to strain yourself to prepare all these,” said her younger daughter Queena with fake annoyance as she helped carry the food from the kitchen to the table.

“My girlies and boys and their cubs would come and I would be sitting on the rocking chair and keep rocking away all through the day, without shaking a finger! Can it ever be possible, my darling”, answered Mrs. Mintington with a faint smile curving her thin lips.

“And, how the children love her banana brownies and mint-flavoured ginger ales! It would be disservice to rob them of Mama’s delicacies”, said Sheena the elder one as she helped lay the table.

“Wait, wait, wait, do you guys think Grandma has made these all by herself? An absolute NO! Let me tell you . . .”, barged in Sally just at that moment.

“Ah! Yes, Sally of course has been of such help, you know”, said Mrs. Mintington with a wink of her left eye and they all burst into a thunderous laughter.

“This laughter is what keeps me going my dearies, else life had almost come to a stop that day when Roby and Ruth met their fateful end, leaving my little sleeping princess to my care.” (Roby was Mrs. Mintington’s son who had died in a car crash along with his wife, Ruth thirteen years back when Sally was a toddler.)

“How grateful I am to God for this precious gift of family – for each one of you! And so, I will continue celebrating for you all till there’s breath and strength enough to keep me going.”

“So, what’s the date for the next GRATMEET, my girlies and boys?”

OH, MY SOUL, WHY DO YOU WORRY

Oh, my soul, why do you worry?
The Creator thinks of me and cares for me daily.
The one who created me
Has kept His eyes on me with much care,
And I rest assured of the fact –
Day and night, He watches over.
All that is good for me
He provides without hesitation,
With all His goodness
He becomes my ultimate provision.
The one who sustained me till now
From the time of my birth,
He will carry me through, in future,
Whether I am full or in dearth.
Whoever has taken shelter in Him
Has never been felt discouraged…
Then why on earth I spend all my time
On worthless thinking and depressing chime.
Has anyone ever got anything good
Without relying on God?
Yes, letting go off all my worries,
I’ll serve Him, trusting Him at every odd.

He hadn’t allowed everything that I had wanted
But He made sure, I sleep at peace without any fright.
For Him, my heart fills with gratefulness
Who strengthens and sustains me day and night.

(Note: At this time of difficult situation all around us because of Covid19 and Economical turmoil God gave me this assurance, and His faithfulness prompted me to write this poem with a heart of gratefulness to Him. Keep reminding yourself that He is the only source of our sustenance and provision. Don’t be worried and dismayed. He will take care of you all the time.)

AN ODE OF GRATITUDE TO MY LORD

When I think of Your mercies untold,
My heart fills with gratitude manifold.

When I remember the prayers that You have answered,
Humbly in worship, I surrender this insignificant self.

When I count the sins of mine that You have forgiven,
I realize how uncountably numerous they have been.

When I bring to mind the love that You have showered upon me,
How assured I am of that fathomless flow even unto the end of time!

When I imagine my tiny puny self before a Majestic You,
Can’t think if I would bow or fall prostrate in Your view.

Oh! with what Love You have loved me,
And with what Grace You sought me!

What made You take my sin upon Yourself,
To be mocked, stripped and scourged for me?

Can I ever repay the debt of Your love?
Or give You the praises You deserve?

Forever I remain imprisoned by Your everlasting arms,
For in them I am cushioned against all of life’s harms.

BOSS IS ALWAYS RIGHT

I am giving him too much credit. And he will never let me forget this. In every future confrontation of ours, he will bring this up. Knowing the risk, I am still narrating this small incident of my life. (Maybe I won’t show it to him)

A couple of years back my husband started his own company and I started working with him. (I am telling you not a good idea). I will give you a brief background about myself. Before starting this work with him I was a housewife (right I too hate this term) for the last 10 years. So even though my degrees stated that I had all the required skill for an office job my great talents were obviously a bit rusted. My husband on the other hand was fresh out of the Corporate world with grand ideas about his startup. His expectations were of that MNC level.

My hubby dear used to turn into a typical demanding boss as soon as we started working. I on the other hand was still a bit laid back. Mind you I tried my best. But still, slip-ups were bound to happen. If he got angry with something I had missed and shouted at me I used to feel how dare he speak to me, his wife, like this. I gave him back good and ended up with both being upset. Almost every day we used to fight.

Letters to be formatted in a certain way, customers to be handled in a specific way, records and filing should be up to date all the time. Records should be available on the click of a button. Seriously I was scrambling to keep up with his bossy demands. And mind you we were a Startup and really understaffed. So, it was a struggle. He shouted, I shouted and then I cried (my best defence). But it hardly changed his stance. Eventually, I did understand his way of working and the number of incidents reduced a little. But his standards never came down.

Few years down the line he closed down that business and moved on to another business. And we decided not to keep all our eggs in the same basket. So, I took up a regular admin job in a school. 

Believe me when I tell you that it took me very less time to impress my current employers with my skills. And every time I get praise here for a job well done, I secretly thank my dear hubby for training me so well or at least for polishing my skills a bit. Really grateful for that period in my life now. It didn’t seem like a blessing then but has really helped me in the long run. Because it is the times of necessity and pressure that teach us the most important life lessons.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

I got discharged from the hospital last Friday. A week of running around by the whole family with me lying in the hospital bed gasping for breath was a traumatic experience. All of us needed rest. My mom and mom-in-law were on toes all through the week and they deserved to go back home and relax.

So two days after I was discharged, my mom said she was taking Aarnav (my 3 yr old son) with her. The idea was to give me some rest. Obviously, I rejected the idea upfront. The mom in me was not able to approve the distancing of my child, depriving him of mother’s love, making him sleep without those cuddles and kisses and overall other mom duties. However, this decision was forced on me by the whole family. Much against my wishes I had to give in. I waved my son goodbye with a heavy heart and tried to console myself by thinking at least he didn’t cry. It’s a different story that he didn’t know he was supposed to stay without his mom for a week.

The first day was difficult. I missed him terribly. I cried. But I fully trusted my mom’s judgement and believed in the idea that he will be fine without me.

Cut to today:
It’s been 5 days and my little munchkin is happy at nana-nani’s house. He is getting that extra pampering, is not bound by any rules and is having a gala time. He is the apple of their eyes. My mom shares his pictures and videos because I terribly miss him but more because she wants to instil that confidence in me that Aarnav is now ready to take baby steps to come out of my wings and prepare to fly. 

The exact same thing that I was cribbing about as to why a decision is enforced on me is something that I am utterly grateful for today. These 5 days not only gave me much needed rest, but it also ensured full concentration at my office work, no additional breaks for baby duties and thus wrapping up work on time. It also gave me some “ME TIME” which I don’t seem to have got in a long time now. More importantly, it showed me that Aarnav is slowly becoming independent, that my baby is growing up. I do feel the mom guilt but there is very little that can be done for it. Guilt and motherhood go hand in hand I suppose.

Anyway, the bottom line is – Lot of times we question the happening of certain things in life. We hate those times. We feel betrayed, shattered or even breakdown. But that happening could be a blessing in disguise. If we are able to manage the breakdown and negative emotions we may experience the blessing in coming time for which we would be ungratefully grateful.

MISSED YOUR BUS? BE GRATEFUL!

One can either be grateful or ungrateful, but is it possible to have a cocktail of both?

Well, there are instances when one can be gratefully ungrateful or ungratefully grateful. It depends on how one wishes to interpret such episodes.

Have you ever felt thankful for that heavy downpour because of which you could have a day off from work? There you go – you have at least once instance of being ungratefully grateful!! That rain which clogged roads and may well have been a barrier for some others, was indeed welcomed by you!

In my Post Graduation years, I had to take the intercity bus for a 30 km ride each day to the University and the same distance back again. Classes would invariably be over by 5 P.M. every day. I had four other friends for company (which made the travel a little less difficult). Bus-hunting was a daily routine. Buses did stop by the bus stop at intervals. But, we looked for less crowded buses to board (crowded buses are nightmares for all – but a lot more for females). Also, there were buses which had conductors who were reluctant to give the student fare concession. In this way we had certain criteria.

One fine evening, we had been waiting at the bus stop for more than 40 minutes without any of our familiar buses stopping by. Eventually, when one did come, it was jam-packed. My friends decided to board it anyway as there was no surety of another one coming by anytime soon. I was too reluctant – to the point that I asked them to leave if they wished to and that I would wait for some more time for a less crowded bus. One of them already had a foot on the bus and another had a had on the door railing ready to board. But, seeing my stubborn reluctance, they returned (wonderful companions) and so all five of us waited desperately for another bus to come by soon.

It was another 15-minute wait before we boarded a bus, much to our relief! The long frustrating wait of a humid summer day finally came to an end. We had hardly been seated for 20 minutes, that people began curiously looking out of the windows. I could hear the word ‘accident’ from the many voices that were commenting animatedly on the view outside. Just then, a passenger seated behind me gestured outside and said, “the bus which you were reluctant to board, but your friends were insisting, has met with an accident.” I was stunned as the information sank in! There was no loss of lives, though. The driver had lost control and the bus had skidded off the road and had rammed into a building nearby.

The passenger who gave me this piece of information had also been waiting for a bus at the bus stop and had been overhearing and watching the little drama that had unfolded among the five of us (you are being watched without your knowledge – beware!) much to his amusement, and had later got on the same bus as I and my friends did. “Had you all got into that bus, you would have met with an accident today”, he added.

I was so grateful to God that day! I had been ungratefully grumbling within myself as to why the bus that came after a long time had to be so crowded that we couldn’t board it. I also felt a bit guilty when my friends let the bus go only to stay back for me. But now, I was grateful beyond words!

I was grateful for the delay. I was grateful for the crowded bus. I was grateful that my friends got delayed because of me. I was grateful for all those events of that hour and a half, for which I had felt so ungrateful, minutes before.

Truly, there are events that come by unplanned, unasked for and entirely undesirable. But, when we put two and two together, the picture becomes quite understandable.

Since I firmly believe that each and every event in our lives happens under God’s sovereign control, I also believe that those people or events in our lives for whom/ which we are most ungrateful are the ones for whom/ which we will be grateful in the long run (only if we perceive our lives in their entirety and not in fragments).

GRATEFULNESS: WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT IT?

Being grateful while the world crashing around us is always difficult. At the beginning of this year, as we still struggle with many issues, I am happy that we are concentrating on gratefulness. Thanks to Geetmalini and Rajnandini who have been planned out this month so very well.

There was no writer for tonight but I was not in a mood to leave this slot go just like that. So I thought to quote a few outside bloggers and writers who have spoken a lot about this expression called, gratefulness.

Let’s visit their minds and hearts to check out their perspectives about gratefulness:

I thank the Lord for giving me a platform to write the things that I want to air out the things that I can air out. I have avoided my friends because answering the question “how are you” is just the hardest one to answer right now. There are things that I can’t talk about, not with my parents, not with my friends — things that hurt so much to speak about. I thank the Lord for being the one whom I can always call unto– someone who won’t get tired, someone who won’t be burdened by my burdens! Someone who hears me unconditionally, someone who won’t blame me, someone who won’t say “I told you so.”

I so relate myself to the author, Ms. Janis who so beautifully wrote this article.

Ms. Betul Erbasi says in her blog: “… focus on what is lacking is not healthy and it gets me nowhere. I can’t get my family here, nor can I go stay with them. The only thing I do to myself in this case is just make myself sad. This sadness in turn makes me irritable and unproductive.”

She was right. If our focus is always on the negatives then we can’t be of sound mind at all. We can’t focus on the things that are important in our lives, for ourselves and for our families.

Mr. Ashok rightly points out what I said in my article a week ago. He says, “Once we become grateful for every circumstance, every situation, every happening in our life: we shall always be joyous and at peace. And that this gratitude should not be kept only for big and momentous happenings of our lives, but should be expressed in our day to day blessings. We take so many of our blessings for granted, as our birthright!”

In the end, I want to conclude with this last quote from Dr. John Persico Jr. At the end of his article he poses a few thought-provoking questions for the readers, for all of us and I am quoting them all here:

Time for Questions:

What are you most grateful for today?  When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone you care about?  How often do you stop to think about how much you have to be grateful for?  Are you grateful for the things that really matter in your life?  What if you took time each day to be more grateful for your life?  What are you most ungrateful for?  How can you get rid of your ingratitude?

Life is just beginning. 

Interesting all of the above writers and their articles, right friends! Do visit their blogs and learn more about the heart-condition named gratefulness.

Stay Blessed!