CHEER UP SAID WHO?? BAT MAN

When one has to live life alone in an apartment surrounded by concrete walls, life can get very overwhelming at times. My normal routine in such situations would be to take a walk, binge watch some series or have an ice-cream.

Not always life can be this boring, so, to satisfy my wanderlust, I planned a trip to Australia. A solo trip all by myself in Australia. I was all happy and excited while planning, packing dreaming about my vacation. It was almost a 17 day long trip starting from Melbourne to various other places and my last halt was Sydney. 

When I started my trip at Melbourne, the first few days went fine. Even though one doesn’t want to notice, as Australia is a popular destination for tourists, there were umpteen number people in all the beaches I visited, food plazas and even national parks. With so many people around, I still felt alone. During the first week itself, I felt alone many times, even more than when I just stick to my mundane routine of work and home. 

In addition to that, after a few days my sim card stopped working. So, I lost connectivity during the day and only when I was back at the hotel I could talk or chat with anyone. On the first day the sim hadn’t worked, I was so eager to be back at the hotel so that I could check my WhatsApp for any messages. I don’t know if that is just me,  somehow my connection with people is mostly through messages. I was kind of addicted to checking Whatsapp quite a few times back then. To my surprise, there was not a single message. I lived without sim card for almost 5 days, and each passing day my interest for checking my phone has reduced. At first, there was no signal, eventually, I realized no one messages me unless I do. Wait, what? Is this really true? It was a moment of shock than realization. 

For the very first time, I felt like throwing my phone away. May be, I felt helpless and weak. I could not stop the tears rolling down my eyes. Who stands at the iconic Sydney Opera house to cry? I don’t know. At that point I didn’t even care who was watching me crying. There were thousands of people that day,  as many plays were planned through out the day. By evening, more and more people gathered. I think the night life of Sydney is spectacular near the Darling Harbor, so many people spend their evening roaming around in that area. There I was crying, wondering why I should be the only one alone? 

I can’t remember how much time it took to regather myself. I took my camera and headed to take some pictures. This was a distraction from the thoughts that were bothering me. While I was busy with my forced distraction strategy, a small head popped in front of my camera  lens He posed for a picture. then made a gesture to me to show his picture. It was a little boy, could be 5 year old dressed like a batman. He gave me so many poses, smiling and asking to take more and more pictures. He asked me to show those pictures and and every time he had a large smile on his face with enlarged eyes. 

I don’t know who that boy is or where he is now. At that time he was no less than angel. I have heard many times, it gets easier during tough times if there is some to lend a shoulder or talk with. Our friends and family mostly do the job of cheering us up when we are feeling low. In that instance, I realized how powerful a smile is and it can come even from a stranger. What’s more pure than a kid’s smile. Nothing. There is nothing that could have made that moment better. I won’t ask for anything more either. Even today, when I feel low, I browse through those pictures which brings an instant smile. I feel some connection with that boy which makes me feel less lonely. He left a lasting impact which cheers me up every time I think about him.

What are the five best up’s in life? Buckle up, Start up, Keep it up, Don’t give up, Cheer up.”
―  Vikrmn

GRUMBLY MUMBLY AND SIMPLY BUBBLY

Grumbly Mumbly and Simply Bubbly – as their names, so their natures – stark opposites!

Grumbly Mumbly (let’s call her GM) always wore a frown on her face. No matter how well cooked any dish was, there wasn’t enough salt to her taste! If the salt was just appropriate, the veggies or the meat in the dish weren’t tender enough! The maid scrubbed the floors of her house clean every day; still, GM didn’t find them sparkly enough and showered a mouthful on her! Her ten-year-old daughter stood first in the class with a remark of “Excellent” superscribed on the Report Card; still, GM’s brows twitched seeing a shortage of four marks from the aggregate and all along the way back she fussed at the deliberate evil schemes of the teachers! On one occasion GM went shopping for herself. Unfortunately, the store did not have the required size of the outfit that she had selected. Not only did she blacklist the store for herself, but also did not forget to give a fuming suggestion to the store Manager to shift the store to some nondescript town or village! Her husband gifted her a bunch of her favourite red roses on their wedding anniversary. She immediately inspected the bouquet and started kvetching about his lack of taste to have chosen pale half-blossomed partially dried roses!

No one ever liked being with GM, though she was skilled at many things. She greeted each smile with a scowl. Her constant mumblings sent all tumbling away from her. Her blood pressure remained high at all times. Migraine was her companion of many years. Stomach ulcers frequented her. Gradually, a host of psychosomatic ailments befriended her. GM was miserable! Nothing that anyone did or said ever satisfied her.

Simply Bubbly (let’s call her SB) moved into Grumbly Mumbly’s neighbourhood one fine afternoon. Every other neighbour cautioned her against GM’s scoffs and sneers. “All the best, if you ever crossroads with her”, they said. SB just laughed it away. “There isn’t a person who can rob your cheer unless you decide to trade it for a world load of fear”, she quipped. SB found joy in all things and people around her, even in the most challenging ones. Her bubbly nature was infectious. A couple of times, GM and SB did crossways. Each look of grimace that GM threw was met with a beaming smile from SB. When GM broke her ankle, none went to her aid. “She would find fault with anything that we do”, they said. Simply Bubbly was the only one who went up to GM’s doorsteps each day without fail. Day after day she went for the three whole months that GM was confined indoors. “Wait and watch till she’s back on her feet”, said all.

The day GM was to take her first steps outside, all peeped from their windows. There was GM leaning on to SB trying to take stable steps in the midst of the busy traffic! And what was that – a smile on GM’s face! That was her first smile that anyone had ever seen!

The next day, at a thanksgiving get-together, Grumbly Mumbly seemed all quiet. She didn’t mind the loud chatter or the endless clatter of dishes. The music which would have either been too loud or too low on previous occasions didn’t bother her much. Seated at the centre wearing a faint smile, she said, “I’ve learnt to let go – to let go of the imperfections that drain my energy, and to appreciate all things around me. My quest for improvement would never end, but the snoots would never come back.”

Profusely thanking Simply Bubbly for helping her deal with her insecurities and anxieties, GM declared that she would be working towards a makeover. Gradually, GM’s complaints gave way to appreciations and her frowns into charming smiles. Her distasteful mouthfuls were replaced by words of encouragement. The world which she had been seeing with dark shades became visible with bright brilliant sunshine.  

Often, it’s tough to drive home rational thinking to the Grumbly Mumblys around us. They seem to be perfectionists, but fail to accept the fact that their own personality needs tweaking. They seem to have justified arguments for all their grumblings. Leave the hardcore GMs. What about you and me? How many times have we grumbled over situations, people, our own selves? The scorching sun makes us grumble. A heavy downpour early in the morning makes us grumble. If the water is too hot for a bath, we start muttering. If the electricity supply goes off while we are in the middle of an assignment we start fuming. If a guest arrives too early, we grumble. If the guest arrives much later than the scheduled time of meeting we grumble.

While it is necessary to be disciplined and maintain certain principles in life, it is all the more essential to harbour the virtue of contentment, all the while acknowledging the transient nature of the world around us. Discontent leads to grumbling. Constant grumbling emits the foul smell of ones personality to those around and proves to be a powerful repellent. Its wise to choose not to be a Grumbly Mumbly. 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  – THE BIBLE

“Be grateful and you won’t grumble. Grumble and you won’t be grateful.” – Billy Graham

IF THEY CAN’T BE SMART, YOU HAVE TO BE SENSIBLE

Why are you so obsessed about photographs?” asks my irked husband whenever I ask him to click me (only on occasions called festivals).  And I am ever ready with my taunts “why not? My sister, my sister-in-law, my friends – everyone gets clicked, and not just once but hundreds of trial and error shots, I only ask you once but you have a problem with everything I request (command, let’s leave it 😁)” and it depends on mood swings of the other party whether  to continue the taunt parade or call it quits. But the fact is he and me, both of us know why I want to squeeze in the memory of phone storage, simple! only to display the best one on FB 😂😂  and to count the likes and comments ensuing.  And I admit that I am guilty of liking to be “liked“.

I get mostly complimented on my smile. I am angry with Chiradeep at this point for giving me this surprise question/task 😡, just kidding.

What’s the secret? It’s just that I believe in this: A hug should be warm; A wish should be heartfelt; A smile should be infectious”.

If warmth and love are missing, then everything you do – a hug, a wish, a smile – are nothing but gestures covering your pretence.  I know for some reason that when I smile (not to the camera/mirror😁) at someone, for instance, greeting fellow parents at my daughter’s school, neighbours, for that matter a fellow passenger in bus who is a complete stranger, it’s the same positivity or happy vibe that I get reciprocated with. A simple thumb rule of life…at least what I believe and try to inculcate always – YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE.  So I have decided to “Smile” to keep the negativity at bay.

No rule is without exception: Do my Facebook page show you the “True Me”?  Do I smile 24×7 (a question is invalid, to say the least)? No! I have other faces which rarely people get to see. There are instances when my smile could be a pretence or a mere smirk because other options to speak out my heart are closed. I feel like shouting letting my disapproval known, I feel like rolling my eyes showing my disinterest in the person or conversation. But I fail to do so on numerous occasions, especially when family and relations are involved. And most importantly I find it really hard to say “NO” lest I make them unhappy, I break the harmony of the atmosphere. A recent example: Everyday when I return to home after dropping my daughter at school I have to pass a cafe. The owner of the cafe, a middle-aged man became my acquaintance after he noticed me for a few days. Things were fine till cordial exchange of pleasantries. But then he started inviting me to his cafe to have a cup of coffee. He was quite persistent in his urge. And I declined politely every day as I  always have heaps of chores to finish off at home. I was like always smiling and putting down his offer as gently as I could.  I didn’t want to hurt him or rude at him but after some time I could feel the irritation running in my veins on locating him. I even took a long route to avoid seeing him. Though nothing personal, though he meant business only in a very literal sense it irritates to me no end that people fail to decipher beyond the smile, beyond excuses that there could be a strong reason or a problem doing rounds in our lives. It’s not just him, I know people (more than acquaintances) who see the gloss but reluctant to see and accept the pain underlining other’s life. “Grass is always greener on the other side” so true.

Shall I trend a path more unlike me? My friend Chiradeep asked me “Can you ever be harsh on anyone?” Yes, I can be but only with people who see my true emotion without judging me and without holding any grudge against me. My siblings, my kids (kids pure souls and smart indeed) – perhaps the people who know me in and out. I can be me with them. And with others, I choose a more diplomatic way of dealing things – avoid conversation and if it’s not possible to avoid an argument. It’s not about safeguarding my image but I feel hurting someone in the spur of the moment is a foolishness when it doesn’t serve any good big time, period! Because to damage is easy than to build.

Bringing it to an end “I wish people are smart enough to read between the lines, if not so let me be more sensible“.

Quote of the day

A mere smile is not just an extension to one’s lips but a refreshment to one’s soul.

WHAT’S A HOME? – II

It was a breezy winter morning as Meghana stepped out of her house. She was fighting hard to keep her tears from finding their way down her cheeks. She hailed the first cab that she came across and got into it.

“Where do you want to go, Ma’am?”, asked the cab driver.

So frustrated was Meghana with her predicament that she replied absentmindedly, “Anywhere…to a peaceful place…a place of dignity and love…without mountains of responsibilities.”

The cab driver kept staring at her with a questionable look.

Gathering her thoughts and emotions, she told the driver of her destination and gave him the necessary directions.

It was 10 o’ clock in the morning – two hours since she had sent Manu and Kabir on their day’s schedules. She had deliberately given the cab driver, the address of a beach an hour’s drive away. As the driver made his way through the morning traffic, a flurry of questions fleeted within her.

What is robbing the charm of my marriage?

Am I not beautiful enough?

Am I not taking enough care of all of Manu’s interests?

Is my thought process outdated?

Or am I simply expecting too much?

Is it because I am just a homemaker, that Manu doesn’t think it necessary to respect me?

Do I not toil from dawn to nightfall to make sure that Manu’s and Kabir’s needs as well as their wants are satisfied? Isn’t that enough reason to get me the love and respect I deserve?

Or…or…is there someone else in Manu’s life?

Meghana’s head reeled at the thought. No…she didn’t want to permit such thoughts to enter her mind. She had developed a splitting headache by then. Her Google Map showed Blue Moon Cafeteria just five minutes away.

She asked the cab driver to stop by the cafeteria, paid him and sent him off. The cafeteria was almost empty, except for a young boy – probably in his late teens, engrossed in a novel in one corner.

She chose a seat near the huge glass window facing the street.

“What could I serve you, Ma’am?”, a middle-aged lady in the cafeteria uniform asked her politely with a welcoming smile placing the menu before her.

In no mood to return her smile, Meghana scanned through the menu and asked for a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

“I’ll be back in ten minutes, Ma’am”, said the waitress.

Not wanting to pick up her train of thoughts, Meghana looked out of the cafeteria window hoping to find something interesting…something that would take her away from her fears and worries. She saw an old woman leaning on a pair of crutches walk past, a small boy hopping and jumping happily holding an old man’s hands, a vendor trying his best to sell some articles of daily use at a cheaper price to passers by, a young couple walking hand in hand with the gleam of newly found love largely writ on their faces.

“Here’s your order, Ma’am”, came the chirpy voice of the waitress, startling Meghana.

“Oh!…Thanks”, muttered Meghana without a smile.

The waitress went away. As she uncovered the tray, Meghana noticed that there were food stuffs other than the ones she had ordered. Apart from the sandwich and coffee, there was a chocolate muffin, a cream roll and some star-shaped wafers. Underneath was a neatly folded cloth napkin with the words – “Shine as a light amidst the darkness”, stitched onto it.

Meghana waved at the waitress and summoned her to come.

“Yes Ma’am, how may I help you?”, said the waitress, whose name Meghana noticed was pinned onto her uniform.

“Er…I think there has been some mistake in serving the order. I had only ordered for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. But, there are some additional items in my tray”, said Meghana.

“Could I sit with you for a minute?”, said Shikha, the waitress.

Not prepared for such a question, Meghana forced a nod.

“My sweet Ma’am”, began Shikha, “you are beautiful. Has anyone told you this?” A faint smile formed on the corner of Meghana’s lips for the first time that morning. Her mind raced to the day when she had met Manu for the first time and he had said, “Meghana, you are beautiful – a marvellous creation of the Creator.” Oh! How she had blushed that day! She was about to break into a shy laughter when her surroundings brought her to the present. And gloom filled her face.

“What does that have to do with my order?”, Meghana retorted with irritation clearly evident in her voice.

“From the time you walked in, I noticed sadness in your eyes. I do not know the reason nor would I make you uncomfortable by asking you. But I want to share a slice of my life with you. Before that, just to clarify, these additional items are complimentaries that we at Blue Moon Cafeteria offer to our first three customers each day. And, you are our second customer for today”, said Shikha with a wide smile.

“Now coming to my story, I own this cafeteria”, said Shikha.

Taken aback by this piece of information, Meghana seemed to be visibly unsettled thinking that she ought to have treated Shikha better.

“No, nothing to worry about, my dear. I love to serve my customers along with my employees. So, I dress like them and behave like one of them. You can be at ease. This cafeteria was gifted to me by my father when it about to be shut down once and for all. Decreasing footfall of customers and dwindling coffers drove my father to such ill-health from which he could never recover. He bequeathed this cafeteria in my name”, said Shikha.  

Meghana pretended to be listening to her with interest…

Continue reading the next part HERE

I MISS YOU MOM

I look at her once and can’t withdraw my eyes,

From beholding her yet again.

The smile with which she’d display her affection,

Revives before my eyes within seconds of ten.

Her embrace resurrects so vividly before me,

The warmth of her arms,

 That would so lovingly hug me in glee.

 

I look at her and smile away in profound bliss,

Recollecting the memories,

When my forehead had been blessed with her kiss.

And the words of care,

That would proceed out of her mouth.

 

When next will I be privileged to receive that,

I doubt . . .

 

I look at her, at her picture – that’s all I have with me now.

I see it and remember the times,

Wherein desires for my happiness had bowed.

I miss all of her gestures which now to my heart brings,

An unspoken sorrow of detachment,

From you my mother, which now I hopelessly drink.

 

(P.S. Written when I was away from home and missed my mother badly.)

WAS IT MEANT TO BE?

Was our story meant to end the way it did –

  Was it meant to begin, to begin with?

 

You once said you can walk miles with me by your side –

 Was the journey meant to end because the path was rough?

 

You once said let’s get closer –

Were the distances meant to be drawn because of distant destinations?

 

You said once that your eyes long to see me –

Was my heart meant to yearn for you forever?

 

You once said life is to live –

Were my feelings meant to be paralyzed because of your rejection?

 

You once said happiness is to see me smile –

Were my tears meant to go down unnoticed?

 

You once said our togetherness is meant to be cherished for a lifetime –

Are your memories meant to haunt me throughout my life?

 

I am still carrying the baggage of a broken relationship, nursing a broken heart and still asking myself – Was It Meant To Be?