I Truly Believe In Love

When I was in college (graduation 3rd year), I read two books as a part of our syllabus – The Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Both are great works. Human relations, follies, expectations, insecurities, vulnerabilities – mainstay of these works. Me being a romantic to the core person was swept off my feet by beautiful portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy – the protagonists of “Pride & Prejudice”. Elizabeth, a strongly opinionated, free spirited , well read, beautiful and a charismatic girl. Her beauty was not only what was obvious but her refusal to let herself to be treated as doormat added to her aura. Despite of not having grand fortune and unfortunately quite a few annoying pompous characters in her family she never let herself to act or sound vulnerable. Meekness or submission wasn’t her. She represented grace. On the other hand Mr.Darcy was rich by leaps and bounds. Was as opinionated as his female counterpart was but the natural flair of talking easily to people wasn’t his forte. His stoic silence made him look haughty. His reserved nature was often mistaken for being too proud to mingle. But as the story proceeds the layers over his character get unveiled, making him a desirable life partner for every girl. Ok, I will be honest with you all – I really wished to have a Darcy in my life – handsome, even more handsomely rich and to enhance every other quality that he possessed – sensible & madly in love with a person to go to any extent.

It was their chemistry that kept me hooked. Left me happily teary eyed everytime I finished the book. I actually lost count of number of times I have read this book (haven’t yet counted the number of views I have paid to the series). It is no less than a fairy tale following the suit where poor girl meets rich boy, they get married and happily live ever after. It is more closer to the real lives where a union of two people isn’t devoid of involvement of families and friends. Superiority complex of affluent ones, misunderstandings – both of words & silence, expectations tied to engagements, pride invested in qualities (materialistic and otherwise) one possess, prejudiced opinions one forms of the other and how finally love finds it’s way – we do find such elements in and around our lives, isn’t it? That’s why this fiction stood the test of the time.

My Draw: To be honest, whether I read or watch this work of art, majorly it’s an escapism to the rosy world of romance I adore. I simply cherish love stories. It hand overs to me a sense of happiness. But over the years it apart from happiness it gave me one important lesson – Pride about something – good or bad, inadvertently nurses prejudice. Let’s forget about the book and it’s characters for a moment. Let’s take an example from what’s around us. A man regular in his prayers and social work feels proud of his desirable ways of life. When he sees another person who is not very invested in regular prayers and social work isn’t a part of his regular proceedings of life, the former one immediately forms a prejudice about the later one about how wrong he is without knowing him fully, without having an awareness of his portion of struggles in life. It is very much happening all around us. No denial. So if you let pride rest for long in your head get ready for an add on guest – Prejudice, period!

Moving on from this story, have you ever thought what would be life of Elizabeth and Darcy when they enter their 60s? When romance blooms completely into love. Well, not sure of them but I came across a Indian regional movie that exactly defines what love and companionship is. The movie’s name is Mithunam, which means a couple. It’s in Telugu. The entire movie is about an elderly couple – Appa Dasu & Buchi Lakshmi, whose children have settled in different parts of the world. In the entirety of the film you will see only these two characters. It might seem to be a reel showcasing their daily mundane activities but the depth needs a heart to let it sink.

The first thing what I noticed after I finished watching this movie is it isn’t some unrelated, non relatable celebrities that can give us couple goals. If companionship has to be understood look at our grandparents, look at our parents. My own in-laws are together for 42 years now. Have seen lows and highs together. Being together is what mattered. And probably for the first time on celluloid I have seen where it wasn’t about the rose flowers but about the fragrance it spreads. It isn’t about the attraction during youth but affection in the dusk of the age. Where hero and heroine aren’t the glamorous hot shots but someone more identifiable and relatable with us. Completely in love with this movie.

What Mithunam taught me?

Many beautiful aspects have subtly touched upon in this movie that can make a life meaningful and joyful.

  • companionship means understanding the unannounced pain, doing your part without being vocal about it. There was a particular scene where the wife comes to know how her husband has been helping her best friend over the years to get her son educated after her husband has departed. Never once did he let her know about her friend’s ordeals.
  • Work your bodies and rest your mind. Movie beautifully depicted the mantra for a happy and healthy life. From growing vegetables, doing chores to even unconventional jobs repairing slippers like cobblers do, this movie also speaks about dignity of labour and self reliance though in a very nuanced manner.
  • For the first time I heard the concept of attachment and detachment in this movie. Our love shouldn’t turn into constant worry or impediment – for us or others. Live life as it comes – this is what Appa Dasu taught me.
  • At the end when Appa Dasu dies, Buchi Lakshmi cries her heart out and says “thank you God”. Don’t get her wrong, she opens up as she talks to herself “I was constantly worried what would happen to this man if I leave this abode before him, he is like a child who can’t take care of himself. Now my worries are put to rest”. Is this not true love considering the fact that in India dying as a married woman (before her husband) is considered good.

I can go on about this feel good movie, but surely there’s more this movie can give us. Available on youtube with subtitles, give it a try! These two works have strengthened my idea and belief in love. I may not have Darcy, but surely I want to grow old with my man and lead a content life ☺️.

IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO DO WONDERS IN RELATIONSHIPS

Many people struggle in relationships, especially romantic ( love and marriage ) only because they aren’t being kind enough. When it comes to our parents, they don’t complain even if we are not kind to them. One might ask is being kind that important? Personally, I feel that is the most important aspect in upkeeping with  the relationship. Being kind is rather simple but works wonders in relationships. So, how do we do that?

Do you surprise your partner with small gifts at times?

Do you walk up to your partner, wrap your arms around them to say how much you love them?

Do you regularly keep a check on your partner if they are feeling fine?

Would you voluntarily ask you partner if they want to talk when they are feeling low?

Do you assist your partner in day to day chores?

When your partner is sick, do you take good care of them?

Do you also do the dishes the day your duty was only to cook?

Do you greet your partner with a smile when you see them after a long day of work?

If nothing, can you just spare the day without complaining?

The list is not limited to the above. There are various small and big things we can do for our partners.

I particularly remembered one incident when the thought of kindness in relationships pondered in my mind. In the earlier team I worked in, we had a Usability engineer. She is an elderly lady. Way back in 2013 or so when I travelled to the US for some usability tests, she and I worked together collecting feedback from prospective customers. One day she walked up to my cubicle to say that she is going to pick me up the next day evening and I should spend the night at her place. That was the first time someone invited me home on overseas travel. It might be impolite to reject, so I hesitantly agreed to that proposal. On Friday evening, she drove up to the hotel I was staying in, and then took me home along with her. I spent that evening with her, her kids, dogs and cats. She arranged for a separate guest room for me. She decorated the room herself with flowers, alluring scents and nice food to top it all. I felt very honoured by her hospitality. For a junior employee like me, she didn’t have to do anything. She also taught me that it is very important to be kind and generous to others around us. This is not romantic I know, but kindness can really nurture any relationship. Kindness is extremely powerful when put into action.

In the monotonous life we lead, we sometimes forget that our partner deserves our undivided attention regularly. We cannot divide it between weekdays and weekends like we do at work. No matter how busy we are,  it is incredibly important that we are present in the relationships we are in. The ways are numerous. A warm touch, subtle appreciation or a small gift goes  a long way. The assurance we provide to the person we love is all they might need to have happy and fulfilling relationship. It may sound like being kind is easy, but , we should consciously ensure that we are there for the other person.

There are ways of behaviour that couples need to learn to express, share and receive love. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Just think it through and you would find things you can do for your partner to make them feel special. Many teenagers and even people in early 20’s do not realise that the easiest way to impress a person is to be kind 🙂 It is not the flowers, the compassion and the thoughtfulness behind bringing those flowers is what’s more important

Being kind also leaves us feeling very positive and is foundational to enjoying happy and healthy relationships. So, just be kind, spread love.

Caution: Don’t make the mistake of being kind in an abusive relationship. That is counter effective. Your partner might start taking more advantage of you and your emotions.

Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.” – Andrew Iskander

SURPRISE AND CHEER THEM UP

“How can I cheer up in pandemic?”

“How can I celebrate my birthday without friends?”

My son asked me such questions near his birthday and I had no answer, though was confident that I will make sure that he cheers up on his birthday. As he is a Harry Potter fan, I decided to surprise him with Potter gifts and decor. When he woke up on his birthday, he was thrilled and excited. And I was happy with myself that at least on his special day, I could make him happy.

This wasn’t the first time that I had planned a surprise for someone. It’s one of the best ways to cheer someone up. I remember when I accompanied my younger sister Prabhjot for orientation as she was entering her college. She was going to start a new journey, away from her family. She has always been my best buddy and my baby sister as well. As I was getting emotional, I thought to do something that will cheer her up. So, before leaving, I took some paper slips and wrote messages in them like- ‘I love you’, ‘Miss you’, ‘See you soon’, ‘Study hard’, etc. I folded and hid them in various places in her room- in her pencil case, her handbag, her toiletries kit and shoved the rest here and there in her belongings. I smiled in my heart thinking about her reaction.

Later, on finding slips, Prabhjot would call me & ask, “When did you do this? I am getting a slip almost every week.” We laughed when she told me that even a month later, slips would pop out.

When we love someone, we want to make them happy in some way or the other. Surprises help in doing so. With gifts or just with words, it’s easy to bring a smile on the faces of your loved ones. So, surprise them and cheer them up!

THE BEST WRITER STIRS THE EMOTIONS OF READERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Blessed!

A WOMAN WRITTEN IN MYSTERY IS WORTH A CURIOSITY TRIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoping it turns out so!

(Dedicated to @aastharao)

SHE HAS INFLUENCED ME

“TEAM” is always a mixed bag! Isn’t it?
Indeed, our Candles team is such a bag! We have approximately 50 odd writers from different corners of the world. Each of us is of a different personality, some of us are very jovial – some of us are very playful – some of us are extrovert yet a handful in our team are just of the opposite personality – they are reserved – introverts – talk less YET all of us love and understand each other’s differences. In this bunch of good souls, I got to know a lady who speaks less, thinks creatively, very matured and a lady of wisdom. She is also an avid webzine writer and a professionally trained Counselor. If I would ever recommend any lady to learn on Personality Development, then I would recommend her to this lady of our Candles team. I met her only once but her personality has really influenced me. Presenting before you the lady I found with inner beauty – our beloved Rajnandini Sahu😊

Among many virtues in her, let’s take our cup – How She Writes and What Does It Reflects About Her? 

“A good article not only presents values and information.

It also represents the character and the belief of the author.”

Indeed, being a reader, that’s how I always evaluate my authors ‘flipping the other side of the coin’ and critically analyzing their belief. Because in the world of endless voices and teachings on morals, ethics, and principles, at the end of the story all that we look for is reasoning and internalizing the values that we take away. In the long run, that’s what our life output will be. The deeper sense of reading is shaping of our inner man. 

Being a reader the first thing that always affirms my belief in Rajnandini’s article is – it is purely ORGANIZED and always has a Logically Constant flow of thoughtsExperimental Capability and has Relevance.

Some of her articles have truly marveled my heart and affirmed my belief in her sharing. Let’s take a couple of glimpses of hers’:

THE BRAND CALLED WOMANOn 2017 International Women’ Day week, she published this article. Often in such presentations, we take the track of Racism to race along. But Rajnandini was exceptional, she presented womanhood from God’s viewpoint and alongside didn’t dirty her hands by throwing mud at manhood. She was soulful in presenting the beauty of togetherness rather than playing the blame dice and uplifting feminism.

RECOGNITION FOR A PURPOSEWe all look for the recognition of our work but recognition becomes evident when our work is well articulated. And each of her articles is always presented with utmost clarity. Undoubtedly, she is gifted with the art of articulation. 

THE EYE – THE LAMP OF THE BODY: Often articles come with flamboyant captions but the presentation seems disjointed. It seems like the author is scrambling for thoughts. Being a reader and meticulous observer of her articles, I always found Rajnandini being keen in the logically consistent flow of her thoughts in every of her article. In the 6th paragraph of this article, she has beautifully canvased Eye as the Lamp and how evident it is to believe.

APOLOGISE, IF YOU HAVE ERREDI always believe reading to a reader is exactly like looking at a mirror. We look at the mirror to bring perfection to our face, so is the true reading. As the reader reads, he realizes his flaws in life and internalizes the alterations. Being a reader, I found that in this article of hers.

In the world filled with so much of imperfections, how can someone pen with fineness?

Well, the 19th century American Author, Madam Helen Keler said,

“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments

as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations

because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness”.

Almost all of Rajnandini’s articles are finely tuned to the Biblical values. I am quite sure that’s what makes her words evident to the reader’s life, as she formed the habit of going to the Bible at all times.

It reminds me of the Bible verses,

The Word of God is like a mirror that shows how duplicitous our life is!

It is indeed the lamp to our feet and light to our path to a life with perfection

(Dedicated to @sizzlybizzly)

PERFECT EXAMPLE OF LIMITLESS CREATIVITY

Close to 7-8 years back, I was going through a period of distress in my personal life. Writing greatly heals me so I started my own blog for which I wasn’t getting any readership. I started browsing looking for platforms where I could publish my blogs. I came across an interesting article on Wrytestuff.com (another blogging website like Candles online). The article spoke about how connecting with God really helps. Since I was going through a hardship, I found the article really helpful. I posted a comment on the article thanking the author for bringing some inspiration in my life. Along with this, I too registered myself as an author on wrytestuff and started blogging endlessly.

For a few weeks, I did not get a reply on that comment. I was checking it quite regularly because I really wanted to connect with this author. I almost thought this guy must be some established author, maybe too arrogant to reply to a petty comment on his article. But one day he replied and to my surprise, it was a very warm and friendly reply. He mentioned that he was away and had not logged into this website for certain reasons. He too became regular with his blogging and we started following each other quite regularly. Wrytestuff had certain assignments for the writers, I remember waiting for his article so that we could talk about it. There was no WhatsApp those days, so we used to chat over Facebook and Gtalk.

Needless to say, we had endless discussions, debates, generation of new ideas and fun together. One thing led to the other and I contributed to Candles for the first time on his request. At that time candles was a printed version. I was very surprised to see his dedication over getting Candles printed and distributed as much as he could in his personal capacity. Eventually, in July 2015, candles online was born. And he catered to it like a baby. Right from designing the logo, bringing up the website, hunting for writers, keeping the writers family close and connected, basically being a great leader to Candles – he did everything. I am so glad that I am connected to him as a friend.

Just like his first article gave me strength and inspiration, even now I browse through his articles when I am looking for strength. Often I have tried to analyze what it is about his writings that I am so attracted to. I have realized that he is God loving person, he draws his strength from his belief in Jesus. I have always been a non-believer, non-religious person hardly ever resorting to prayers when I am in distress. His articles mostly talk about his belief and love for God. The kind of person I am, sometimes I also used to find his articles a bit irrational (usually when my super logical mind takes better of me). However, almost always I find his articles very soothing and comforting. I wouldn’t say that I have started believing in God now but something inside my belief system has shaken after knowing him for so long and working with him.

As a friend, I know what his hardships have been, but the article “Reinventing self is finding joy in our hardtimes” really brought tears to my eyes. I realized how one person’s belief can help him pull through even in worst of times. My hardships may be different than his. My ways of searching for comfort are also very different than him. But there is connect that I feel when I read this article which is very comforting. There are many more of his articles that define his concept of God so clearly. And even though I don’t have a strong belief, it helps me a lot to get going during hard times. When I am lost in this chaotic and super confusing world, his articles gives me that ray of light that I know if I follow I would be taken care of. This is enough to pull me up together and move on.

On a lighter note, he also writes good humor. Among many of his light-hearted articles, my favorite is “How on earth am I in the midst of babies”. This one is really funny and I like the way he manages to bring out humor even in the situation that was painful for him. The way he has told his tale in this article is very simple and funny.

It is not just the articles but the way this person brings out the creativity in each of us with his great ideas and close to perfect execution of these ideas is commendable. He initially came up with face 2 face interviews, a great way to connect with different people and bring them in the spotlight for our readers. My favorite interview is “Kalpana Vogeti – A woman who believes in smiling from within” To extend these interviews he even came up with an idea that all writers must interview each other and that resulted in a week of Spotlights named “Discovering Self”, this makes me feel like closely knit family of writers who are quite daring to bring out their lives in open for the world.

A few months back, he started the story relay – this concept turned out to be a great hit among the writers and readers. We started with the story “What is Home?” However, my favorite is “The Road to Home”.

To keep the readers (and writers) engaged, he also started with FB Best Caption and Charlie’s Wish. Needless to say, this man’s creativity is limitless. He is not only a great writer but also a great leader and an awesome friend. I am so glad to be the part of this team which is no less than a family headed by our dear Charlie. His name is Chiradeep and he is often referred to as Boss or Charlie in our group. He is the glue that keeps this family together and Candles burning forever.

(Dedicated to @chiradeepnf)