WHAT IS YOUR STRUGGLE?

“Life is a book – read it!

Life is a journey – go through it!

Life is a feeling – experience it!

Life is a theory – prove it!

Life is an examination – pass it!”

This is the crap I used to write / practice in the initial days of learning Ms Word of Ms Office package (basic computer knowledge for everyone 😁) and used to feel so great about myself 🤣🤣. And seriously show it to the trainer in the disguise of getting my learnings checked – Look at the hidden writer in me, how philosophical I am (now I am realizing what a fool I was🤣). Well that was back in 2004-05, I was just 19 then. Now you know my age 😉. Old enough to understand what life is about? May be 😊.

It is a struggle for sure that is designed to check your temperament. The magnitude of struggle differ from person to person; situation to situation; day to day.

Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy – macro struggles (countries / economies are in constant face offs with these issues).

Anger, greed, lust, materialistic attachments – struggles of every soul.

But I am not educated enough to discuss anything so deep, serious and profound. So why not open up about our struggles that are no less serious than these 😁.

My biggest struggles: I am sure the list might seem and sound funny but definitely not easy to fight and even sure that all of us without any exception have such interesting struggles:

  • I struggle to keep my eyes wide open from the moment I enter any vehicle be it car, auto rickshaw, train, bus – just name it. This is the reason I refrain from sitting next to my husband in our car because as they say if you sleep sitting next to the driver you will surely rub off your yawning spirit on to him and driving needs utmost concentration.
  • I struggle to keep my diet on track. My taste buds accustomed to Dilli style spicy food (for Delhites its never Delhi but Dilli) salads and health drinks are too bland and boring. And sweet tooth is only aggravating my fight to keep a check on calories intake. But the only solace in this battle is that I am not alone 😉. There’s an entire army of food lovers who are finding it difficult to switch to alternative choices 😁.
  • I struggle to strictly stick to the list of “To Do Things” in a day. Yes, you call it Procrastination and I chose to term it laziness. Being blunt might give enough impetus to fight it😁.
  • I struggle to call a spade A Spade and that got me into soup lot many times.
  • Keeping things and forgetting them and worrying about the things ensuing.

That was just a glimpse into my mundane yet not trivial struggles. We all have such struggles that are laughed off, ridiculed but they have their own place in making our lives interesting, give us few memories. Won’t you agree? If yes open up about your “Struggles”.

I FEEL SORRY – IT’S A CALL

One of my favourite speakers Ravi Zacharias quoted someone –

The 21st century is the bloodiest century in human history. We have spilt more blood on the soil than the previous centuries put together”.

As I ponder on his statement, it is quite evident, there are more than 40 active conflicts around the world at the moment. Bangalore one of the smallest Tech cities in the world records 25 plus divorce cases filed every day, over one and half a million people are violently murdered each year throughout the world, 800,000 people commit suicide every year and 17% out of them are Indian residents. 2018 records 34,600 rape cases in India which are reported, there still lies thousands unreported. NCRB report says, 22,955 human traffic victims are found in 2016 alone.

I feel very sorry for such states of my country,

but is my being sympathetic enough to do!

Irrespective of our financial and social stature one common platform from where we deal our life is – “Problem and Struggle”. A pauper has problems and struggles to meet his daily needs, alongside an affluent has problems and struggles to maintain his flamboyant social stature, for the sake of which often each of them compromises with the ethics and morals which causes grievous inner wounds – some of them are visible and some of them go invisible in the bright spotlights and grandeur.

Some of the beautiful souls whom I met in Candles Online fraternity is Kalpana, Preeta, Payal, Vipra and of course Chiradeep. Each of them is from different background and struggles every now and then to meet their own life requirements but whenever I am down in emotion at least one of them will surely pop-up to enquire. A couple of weeks back, both Vipra and Payal were on chat and they emphatically asked me one question – How are you Bhaiya? Even after my reply, Payal counter questioned “Pakka (Are you sure?)” and that was something truly meaningful. Often it is hard enough to express the inner pain but being empathetic and aiding with little affection and care is enough for a blissful touch. About feeding the poor, aiding the physically wounded and supporting the financially downtrodden, they are somehow managed to push up from their sorrowful state but how about the one who goes through with inner struggles and is unable to express it to anyone!

I feel very sorry for that state of life of a person, I think I can take a step to be empathetic…

According to the Bible, the two greatest commandments for humans are –Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is, Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the other laws hang around these two commandments. Taking the second law, the intensity of the love towards our neighbour is the way we love and take care of ourselves. When I am in a problem, I always do my best to resolve it, and if I have to be empathetic for my neighbour who is going through the problem I will have to do the best to resolve his problem. It is my deepest love towards my neighbour or friend that compels me to go beyond than just feeling sorry and mind my own business.

The Bible says,

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

Feeling sorry is not just an emotion that sprouts in our hearts as we find someone in difficulty. Rather it is far greater than that, as a matter of fact, it is the call of God for us to empathize and go beyond our limitations to enquire and care for people.

Theodore Roosevelt rightly said,

“Nobody cares how much you know,

until they know how much you care.”

RESPECT HUNGER

This is one of my favourite dialogue from an old Telugu movie “I respect hunger very much“.  That was touching.  Just as sunlight shines upon everyone, water quenches the thirst of every soul, air is life to everyone, hunger knows no distinguish.  It is the same for rich, for the poor; for human beings and for animals.   And hunger is one of the driving force that could make people choose extremes. A highly qualified graduate takes up the job of an ordinary salesperson wandering from door to door in the scorching heat because he has mouths to feed at home and he simply can’t afford to let them go hungry.  A woman (not referring to the well-educated ones who want to lead a life of luxury) forays into flesh trade because hunger is hounding her and her kin.  A farmer commits suicide because he found death to be an easy way out than suffering from hunger.  Millions of infants dying across the globe every year because of hunger.  I can go on with such moving incidents and examples where hunger pushes them, corners them to the unimaginable.

Hunger moves me immensely.  I have witnessed my own father who died suffering from cancer so badly wanted to eat something as he was unable to gulp down anything from his throat.  That was sheer pain. I felt so sorry for him. In fact, everyone in the family – my brother, mother, uncle, aunt – refrained from talking or discussing food in front of him.  If cancer was an apparent reason that took him down his pain was aggravated by even more painful hunger.  We too experienced his pain.

That was a page from my life.  There are more intercepts in those pages that have not only made me respect hunger even more but hungry people makes me feel sorry for them.  I make it a point that whenever any poor – homeless-helpless seeks some help (using “begging” would be too degrading) I try to give something to eat in my capacity.  After all the money that we donate serves this purpose only, isn’t it?

Innumerable incidents, so much pain all around that I have seen and experienced makes me ponder over a few questions or rather issues:

  • How could fortunate ones waste food? Do they realise the magnitude of pain a hungry person undergoes?
  • Why do people intentionally want to remain hungry while chasing their “dream figure”.  More and more people from this generation are becoming anorexics? NOTE: Healthy eating and dieting have nothing to do with abstaining from food.
  • When would governments of agriculture prime countries have a better mechanism to store food grains for longer periods, in healthy conditions?  Just an example:  The paradox of millions going hungry in India while food goes to waste is receiving increasing amounts of attention as the FAO stresses that one-third of food produced globally for human consumption is wasted every year. (Source Google)
  • What can we actually do to help?

We have a saying in India (which is a global truth) – Roti, Kapda aur Makaan – which literally means Bread(food), cloth and shelter.  These are the basic requirements of any human being and food takes the prime spot. That is self-explanatory what it means to be hungry.  Talking about food, hunger and how sorry I feel about people going hungry every day I came across few interesting things t that good Samaritans are doing across the world: Langars (community kitchens)  in Gurudwaras (sacred place of worship for Sikh community) serve everyone without any bias of class, colour and creed. A hungry person is always welcomed there.  Food facility centres are being run who urge people to donate instead of throwing away the food so that that food can be used to pacify at least one hungry stomach.  Just like charitable hospitals, there are people who cook and serve at no to very low prices making food affordable for everyone.

Picture Credit – Google Inc.

Perfect and Inspiring example: “Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything.

I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan said. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”

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Picture Credit – Google Inc.

I can go on about this but I must respect your time as well just as I respect hunger 😊.  Remember this: always thank God as our hands reach our mouth for there are many whose tears are reaching their lips to satiate the fire burgling in their stomachs.

LOVE MY NEIGHBOUR

When I was a kid I used to get very interested when the secretary of the church used to announce about giving out old normal clothes as well as warm the clothes for free distribution among the poor on the streets in the winter time. And I used to feel bad that I was not able to participate in that noble act carried out by my elders. But when we initiated a project called ‘Love My Neighbour’ officially I was so delighted to be part of that.

Few very important and interesting facts I want to share with you all today about LMN.

In the beginning, we approached our friends, families, church members, different other partner organizations to give out their old but usable clothes or warm clothes. Then we stock them in one of our office rooms. We allotted few of our young boys to sort them all out according to their sizes and usability. One very committed young staff took initiative to supervise the whole thing and I want to draw the attention of my readers to this guy’s attitude towards this whole distribution project.

He discarded all those clothes which were torn or not in a usable condition. He organized to wash them all and he iron pressed one after the other personally. He folded them after ironing and put them in brown paper envelopes. He categorized each of those envelopes according to the sizes of the clothes inside them.

In the end, he was itching and scratching his skins because of handling dirty, old clothes of different people.

We initiated the distribution work at 12 AM to 2 AM in the night and gifted those packets when the beggars and poor people were fast asleep on the streets. On receiving his share of the packet, one old man started singing an old Bollywood song, “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai. Kahan Suru Kahan Khatam…” (What a surprising tale it is… when it begins and when it finishes…what’s the destination no one knows…).

This whole project gave us immense pleasure and joy. We were blessed by those old men and women on the streets.

But what caught my attention was that young colleague’s attitude towards all that he did. That was commendable. He was applauded and appraised greatly for his work and attitude. He didn’t do it as an assignment or ritual or tradition. But he did it out sheer love, care, and warmth for those who were desperately in need. And I feel this was the best way we should be celebrating or letting those deprived people part of our celebration during all these events we lavishly enjoy every year.

Stay Blessed!

REFLECTION ON CELEBRATION

My favourite month of the year is ‘December & January’ because it’s Christmas and my Birthday! The December advent smells me Carols, Christmas lights, Cakes and Sweets, Shopping, Family get-together, a series of marriage parties, Christmas Night ride, Fun and Hang-out with friends. Moreover, ‘It’s time to get a lot of gifts’. Sadly, What-to-do now! It’s all over, yet to wait another 309 days.

Uff… wish these 309 days would pass away overnight!

Through-out the year, we work hard and saves for our Festivals and Celebrations. In my research I found, the minimum expenditure of a family for a small religious festival is at least Rs. 10,000/-  and for an average Urban marriage function, it is 15–20 lakh. According to the Reliance money research, the Indian wedding industry accounts for over Rs. 1,00,000 crores and it is growing at a rapid rate of 25-30% each year. But at the end of every event, someone’s punch line would be – ‘Oh, it’s nothing worth comparing to my colleague Mr. Dixit’s ring ceremony!

With the advent of 2019, the New Year night road accident statistic increased to 71%. In every Indian city, at least 5-6 young people below the age of 35 die in the road accident. On 2nd January 2019, India Today reported, UP guzzles down 50 lakh liters of alcohol on New Year’s Eve! To be more specific, 18 lakh bottles of IMFL were sold and 23 lakh bottles of Beer were sold, in JUST AN EVENING!

These staggering statistics triggers us to one question,

WHAT IS THIS CELEBRATION ALL ABOUT?
WHERE DO OUR CELEBRATIONS LEAD US?

The celebration is a gathering of people which DEFINES a Definite Reason. It is an opportune time to Include people in our happiness, Interact with them more significantly and Convey our Love for them. The joy we share with others precipitates good wishes, blessings, and gifts.

I have received many expensive gifts from my family and friends in my life yet, for me the most priceless birthday gift I have ever received was in a piece of paper – A beautiful poem was written by my most beloved friend. I still treasure it in my wallet and carry it everywhere I go. It is just a piece of paper but the emotions, the love and the feelings it reflects are true and sacred.

Celebration and Gifts strengthen the bonding of our relationships. It reaffirms the JOY – SACREDNESS – SACRIFICIAL LOVE we have for them. The greatest evidence of it is – “God loved mankind and gave His only begotten Son, whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

What do our Celebrations and Gifts reflect today?

Keep thinking…

GRANDEUR WITH GENEROSITY

A certain king once prepared a lavish feast to celebrate his son’s marriage. As was the custom in his kingdom, on the day of the banquet he sent out his servants to fetch the invited guests to revel in the celebrations. To the utter dismay of the king, his servants came back disappointed. All of the invited guests had given some reason or the other to express their regret and inability to be a part of the celebrations. The king lamented over his foolishness to have invited such people. He then ordered his servants to go to the highways and bring as many commoners as they could to enjoy the grand feast. And so, there were a houseful of commoners who heartily enjoyed the lavish spread in place of those whom the king had earlier considered worthy of being a part of his feast.

Though the above narration is a parable, it reflects well the mannerisms of guests in today’s times. Partying was once a privilege offered by occasions. Material affluence has rendered partying into a regular affair, so much so that we tend to pick and choose which party to attend and which to let go. The importance of the occasion and the regard for the invitation thus go unheeded. This is the invitee-sentiment in most cases today.

Invitors or hosts, on the other hand, leave no stone unturned to showcase a pompous celebration. This is true for festive as well as special day celebrations be it marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers or bachelor parties, house warming functions or baby-naming ceremonies. Competition to be a level higher than a friend, neighbour or relative in terms of the decorations, cuisines, innovative planning, return gifts, etc. takes precedence. At times hosts incur huge financial loans to present their exclusive grandeur.  

It’s not a hidden fact that many a lavish celebration speaks of the superficiality therein. And, how many celebrity marriages have succumbed to the pressures of time and events! It’s time to look deep within rather than look outwards and estimate the costs of competitive showcasing while sparing a thought for those deprived.

Isn’t it paradoxical that festivals and special occasions which are meant for all human beings (according to respective cultural and religious beliefs) have become the privilege of those who are socially and economically well off? I often wonder on 31st December and 1st January every year, if the poor cycle rickshaw drivers, the autorickshaw drivers, the beggars in the street corners even know and understand what the frenzy in the air all about! Do the child labourers get to feel special on 14th November every year as Indians observe Children’s Day or is it again the luxury enjoyed by the children privileged to have been enrolled in schools? Though the law of the land ensures free and compulsory elementary education for all children, many children in our country are still to be a part of it. Poverty, along with economic deprivation also creates huge social chasms!

What ought to be our response, then?

During Christmas celebrations every year, I remember the following verse from the Bible and try my bit to do my part:

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.”

It’s not wrong to celebrate. But when we do celebrate, firstly let’s be sure that we enjoy the purpose and sentiments of the occasion with all sincerity and secondly, lets spare a thought to the poor and needy – not giving them leftovers simply to get rid of the surplus, but by deliberately planning to make them a part of our celebrations in some way.

The following teaching in the Bible has always intrigued me, since my childhood days.

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I used to think if it is really feasible to do the above, what would people think, would relatives not feel that the host is merely being a miser and cutting costs, etc. Though easier said than done, it is not impossible.

Though one cannot change the whole world, one can definitely impact one’s immediate surroundings. True celebration is in seeing pure joy in the face of those who are often relegated to the recesses and not in merely showcasing one’s grandeur.

When the Creator Himself causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall in equal measures on the rich and the poor, it is our utmost responsibility to lessen the disparities caused by economic barriers.

A LITTLE EFFORT HAS A BIGGER IMPACT

For me, festivals and birthdays mean a lot of work and preparations. Still, I manage to enjoy it. Like every person, I too look forward to my birthday and I feel extremely happy when the day arrives. When I was a kid, I used to wait desperately for my birthday cake and gifts. I would choose the best dress and would live my “princess moment”. This happened every year until I celebrated it in a different way.

I was in 11th standard. I was heading back home after evening classes. The chilly winter wind was trying its best to penetrate through my jacket. The more it went windy, the faster I walk. I went to confectionery and ordered my favorite Gulab Jamun. I came out of the confectionery and found a girl staring inside the glass door. I could sense hunger and helplessness in those eyes. I asked “Bhookh lagi hai?” (Are you hungry?). She chose to remain silent. I took out a piece of sweet and gestured her to take it. She kept staring at the sweet for 2-3 minutes. And then she hesitatingly took it. I could see bliss in her eyes. I bought her few chocolates. I got immense pleasure and that was incomparable. Since then, I try my best to have a good time with poor kids.

Yesterday was my birthday. And due to some reasons, I couldn’t celebrate it. I and my cousin share the same birth-date. So yesterday he was celebrating his birthday. He bought a cake and went on the street. He called the hard-up kids for celebrating his birthday. Four kids surrounded him and were so happy. My cousin cut the cake and fed one of the kids with his hand. I am sure he must be happy. This made me so glad.

There have been numerous occasions when I have celebrated Diwali and other festivals with such people. The happiness on their face is divine. The crackers and sweets can make you happy for a moment. However, when you do such deeds, you get lifetime happiness. I know you would say one can’t bring contentment to everyone. But when we stretch helping hands to people, gloominess will turn into gladness.

I wish someday I will celebrate an occasion at an orphanage or at an old-age home. By this, I can be a reason for their happiness, at least for an instance. When you put your effort into making someone happy, then you get mental peace and you feel delighted. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount. But a little effort is appreciated all the time. Our society and many organizations are joining their hands for uplifting the underprivileged and malnutrition kids. Therefore, let us be a part of this noble deed. Being a reason for someone’s happiness is a blessing.