DEEP WITHIN – XIV

All seem to be falling in place for everyone connected to RPCA and the on going tournament. Having Aman back in the team and Punit showing the right attitude of the game, the morale of the team was boosted high and they literally conquered every match they played. The opponents fell apart in front of their team spirit and skills. Sooner the tournament ended with the team lined up by RPCA lifting the winning cup.

There was joy and celebrations everywhere but there’re two persons who were still struggling with mixed emotions deep within their hearts. They wear plastic smiles while celebrating the team’s victory amidst the whole bunch of youngsters yet they didn’t have peace of mind. One was struggling with a guilt conscious of giving family ahead of ethics and another one was dealing with his decisions being thwarted again and again. 

The night of the victory ended with lots of merry making but a few of the very chosen people received one SMS from Mr. Vikram Shah, inviting all of them to his house for an urgent meeting the very next day around 6 PM in the evening. 

The time finally came, when all the invitees arrived with many questions in their heart for such urgent call by the most respected man of RPCA. They all were welcomed by Trisha, Punit and Shobhna as courtesy without being aware of the reason themselves. When they were inquired by the invitees, they had nothing to say except to express their ignorance about the invitation.  

When everyone gathered and took their seats, Mr. Vikram stood up as all others remained quiet. 

You all must be surprised of this sudden invitation from me. That was obvious. The tournament was won despite of all the turmoils in the beginning of it but there were few things that we kept undone and had poked me all these time… I want to make everything straight and clear before all of you, those who were very part of the trains of events that we all went through.” Mr. Vikram was looking very grave and serious making everyone’s heartbeats skip. 

They all waited desperately for him to continue further so that they can understand what actually he means. Among the invitees there were Manan, Aman, Sanjay, Mudit, Mr. Sharma, the coach and two of the most respected and trusted board members of RPCA. Even Mrs. Shah, Trisha and Punit were expectantly waiting for Mr. Shah to proceed.

My son, Punit is very dear to me, but I could not spend much time with him thinking her mother will be looking after everything. That was a mistake on my part to take things for granted. My absence in my son’s matter didn’t help him with his mannerism though he learnt it in a harder way. I apologise to her and to two of my adorable children for all these.” Mr. Vikram lowered his head as Trisha walked up to him and hugged him tight saying, “Oh Papa… you are the best. Don’t apologise to us in front of so many.” He hugged her back and replied, “A crowd to witness what we promise and confess always stay in our minds engraved, my baby.” 

Shobhna was sitting quietly with her son alongside her. They both exchanged looks with each other, feeling sad about their most loved one, yet felt very proud of his presence in their lives. 

Mr. Shah asked Trisha to sit down as he intended to speak more. He turned to two of the board members and said, “You both were my closest and most trusted friends, why did you then just nodded in agreement with whatever I said or decided? I am annoyed with you both…”  

Both of them were surprised and looked at each other without even uttering a single word. 

Don’t look so surprised; you know I was not right for selecting Punit, my son, over Aman, the more deserving, yet you allowed it, just because I said it so… But I apologise to you both for making such a bad decision and apologise to Aman for doing something which went against him though he showed immense character to subdue the negative feeling and played spirited Cricket to his full capacity. But his pretending of a fractured leg did disappoint me.” He added…

Aman could not say anything as well and was feeling embarrassed to hear such a respected man apologizing to him. “I am so sorry, uncle… I mean Sirr…” He could just say that and lowered his head.

“Mr. Sharma, I disappointed you the most.” Mr. Shah looked at the coach who was already expecting him to address. 

No… Sirr… You didn’t… If you would not had taken that decision then we would not have got Punit back on track.” Mr. Sharma responded quickly as he was the most straight forward man as Mr. Shah was in that room. 

You are right, Mr. Sharma. But still my decision was wrong and I didn’t even look at the dossier prepared by you. So I apologize to you as well.” Mr. Vikram said with a gentle smile on his face. 

Mr. Sharma stood in respect and folded his hand and acknowledge it giving Mr. Shah full respect. 

We all had thoughts, emotions and grievances deep within our hearts, yet those who are bold enough, spill it out in the right manner. I thought of doing so as I was troubled deep within my heart for going against my ethics, my morale.” He added with command, as he felt relieved sharing his heart. 

Aman will be the future captain for next tournaments, hope he won’t be sitting with a fractured leg…” Mr. Vikram said, as all laughed finally after such a long serious pause.  “And I know my son will have no problem with my this decision…” He added looking at Punit who smiled knowing his father’s heart.  

They all joined at the dinning table to savour the delicacies prepared specially by Shobhna, the woman of the house. The joys of victory was more evident today than yesterday as all of them present in that house felt it deep within their hearts before retreating.

THE BEGINNING

DEEP WITHIN – XIII

It was the reunion of the Shah family that brought the winds of change in their household. They made the rule to have breakfasts and dinners together so that they all could stay connected, and there was no communication gap between them. It brought Vikram back to Shobana, made him realise that she can’t do it all alone, she needs him, his support. The frequent fights, the arguments, the rows of heated exchanges died down, and a healthy, happy atmosphere emerged in place of it. And the most significant change was in Punit, who had learned to be kind, yielding, humble. No more tantrums with the maid, no more lashing out at the driver.

He daily went to school and then to the academy for practice. His team was no more doubtful about his position as the captain; they all could see this new person emerging out of Punit who was full of team spirit and dexterity and leadership quality. No one was happier than Mr Sharma; he could see his team winning the cup this year only if Aman was not sitting on the sides and watching the practice instead of being out there on the field. Punit often went to Aman to seek his opinion; his counsel and Aman gave it to him without any regrets. He could see Sanjay and Punit working together well.

It was a week before the tournament; it was Punit’s’ birthday. And unlike every year, where his father threw him a massive party at some exotic destination and invited the rich and the famous of the society, this year Punit wanted a simple get together with his family and friends at his home.

He invited his friends, his cricket team, his coach to his home for the modest party. He even told Aman to bring Manan and Mudit along. By evening Aman was ready, wearing his best shirt and his brother Manan offered him his watch and perfume. Aman didn’t know what could one gift someone who had everything, but he couldn’t go empty-handed and bought a vintage pen from his savings as a gift. He reached Punit’s house and suddenly felt very uncomfortable upon seeing the sprawling mansion. He mustered courage and went inside; people were already gathered inside, and Punit welcomed Aman in with a hug when he saw him limping inside with his foot still in a cast.

“Happy Birthday!”, said Aman and presented his wrapped gift to Punit with a shy look.

Punit took it with a polite, “Thank You!” and unwrapped it then and there. Punits’ eyes went wide with happiness, “Whoaa! A vintage pen, I never had one, always used those with refills. How thoughtful Aman” said Punit and gave Aman a small hug. Aman felt relieved and felt at ease as he sat with all others, chatting away and laughing.

Punit got his wish on his birthday; he wanted his house to be filled with laughter and friends and love. A few minutes later, Punit’s’ mother laid the table along with the maid with trays of snacks and sweets and glasses of juices along with bowls of soups. The aroma was mouth-watering; everyone was drawn to the table at once when Mr Vikram Shah very proudly declared, “kids, all the delicacies today are made by my lovely wife who once again proved that women could manage work and home with perfection at the same time. Now! Dig In!” He said with a smile and everyone filled their plates with Cheese Cutlets and Potato Jackets and Sesame Fingers. Punit helped himself, but he didn’t miss the smile his mother gave his father.

Punit introduced Aman to Trisha and Aman couldn’t help but feel awed by her. She was just the opposite of what Punit was; she was minimalist, down to earth and soft-spoken. Her beauty was very different from what he thought about rich girls. She wore absolutely no makeup, and her dress was a conservative one. Trish herself was filling everyone’s plate over and over with food, and she made it a point that Aman didn’t have to get up from his seat, bringing him everything right there.

Time flew by, and it was the time to cut the cake. Trisha had made it herself as she was into baking and was carrying it down the stairs. Everyone was huddled around the photo booth where Punit was clicking pictures, and no one noticed when Trisha twisted her ankle. The cake fell from her hands, she was about to fall the flight of stairs and hit her her head on the wall when Aman instinctively leapt from his chair and climbed the steps in a flash and caught her mid-fall.

Trisha’s cry for help caught everyone’s attention, and they ran to help her, but there she was, sitting on the plastered foot of a very guilty looking Aman who wouldn’t dare look up. Trisha’s father held her hand, and she awkwardly climbed down the stairs, feeling sorry for her cake but thanking Aman over and over again.

“It’s….it’s nothing, please.” He said feeling a little heroic

“Sorry, Bhai, I ruined your cake.”, she told Punit.

He hugged her, “Come on, Trish, I am happy that you are okay.”

Mr Sharma had a patronising look on his face as he asked Aman, “Would you climb down yourself or do you still need help?”, his tone was bordering on a tease.

Aman got up, and everyone clapped for him. They were all happy that he was not hurt after all, and that meant he would be playing in coming games. Punit was laughing along with Sanjay, and all the other team members were whistling and catcalling. It was an embarrassing moment for Aman, but he was happy nonetheless. His whole drama was for a purpose, and the purpose was solved. Mission Accomplished!

It was the first match, RLCA vs PCCI. They were in the dressing room. Mr Sharma was boosting everyone up one last time before the game.

“Punit, you are the Captain, I think you have made a great team and well-structured batting order. I am positive your fielding strategy and balling tactics would go a long way this time. But remember, the rules still apply, so no messing.” He said sternly, and Punit nodded without any rebellion in him.

“Sanjay you are the vice-captain. Remember if Punit is not there for any reason, you will lead your team. This is your chance Sanjay, show them what you have got and project your teamwork.” He told thumping Sanjay’s back, and he nodded with a smile and his hands in his pockets.

“Aman, you are our opening batsman, our star batsman. We are all counting on you. I know you will do your best and help us attain a score PCCI can’t chase. And yes, don’t get distracted by your fans in the stands.” He said with a smile, knowing full well Trisha would be there. Aman blushed and shook hands with Mr Sharma.

They all fell in line and rolled out on the field.

DEEP WITHIN – XII

Punit!! What are you doing here? You should be home by this time,” said Coach Sharma surprised.

Just came here for some clear thinking . . . didn’t expect to find you still here. But when I saw you, just thought to get some things straight,” said Punit.

What things?,” said Mr. Sharma with a low tone of suspicion.

Punit started with a lower that usual voice, “It was my father, right, who influenced the Board in my favour when you had already made up your mind about making Aman the captain?”

Look, let matters of the Boardroom remain within the walls of the Boardroom. I choose not to discuss anything regarding it with you. But son look, you are in the blooming youth of your life. The way you look at things now, the way you behave now will continue to impact your future. If you will have cemented good relationships now, they’ll always stand by you. However, if you continue to nurture your arrogance you will find yourself all alone one day,” said the coach wrapping his arm around Punit.

Tears streamed down Punit’s cheeks. He stared blankly at the ground with not a word.

Then suddenly, he got up to leave.

Punit . . . listen . . . Punit,” ran the coach behind him. But, Punit jogged himself quickly out of the arena.

He was unusually calm in the car as the driver drove him home.

For a change, his parents were at home that evening as he reached home. As the maid opened the door, he handed her the cricket kit and quietly went up the stairs. The driver and the maid exchanged quiet questioning looks.

Punit bolted the door to his room and flopped himself on the bed and wept inconsolably. The happy scenes from Aman’s house flashed before his eyes. The singing and merriment – it was such a different picture than what he had thought.

How wrong I was! I always thought that money gives happiness because you have all that you want. I thought that poor people are unhappy and miserable creatures. But, here, my family has everything – yet there is no peace, no joy, no love, no understanding, no one has much time for each other. And, Aman’s family literally has nothing compared to what I have. Yet, the peace I felt as I stepped into their house is unexplainable. Why is that missing in my house? I have hardened behind these hard polished walls. Punit went on tugging his pillow as thoughts flooded his mind.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Punit continued to lie on the bed, ignoring the knock. The knocking grew persistent and louder. He got up from his bed and went to the washroom. He saw his teary face in the mirror and could not believe that it was Punit Shah – the one who boasted with his collar up day in and day out. What had become of him today? Why was he crying after all!

The knocking turned into banging. He quickly washed his face and rushed to open the door with a wet face.

What happened Punit? Its not that you slept off . . . you came in just now. What took you so long to open the door,” demanded his angry father.

Er . . . I was in the washroom,” mumbled Punit. It was unusual for his father to come up to his room and knock the door.

Mr. Vikram Shah observed Punit’s swollen eyes and understood that he had been crying for some reason. However, he chose not to raise it up and just turned and descended the stairs.

Punit left the door open and strolled back into his room.

The maid walked in with a tray of snacks and steaming hot coffee. The mixed aroma of deep fried vadas (Indian snack) and the coffee filled the room. As he walked upto the tea table in his room, the image of the hot samosas and merriment in Aman’s house danced before his eyes. Tears started welling up once again.

Hey, hero what’s up?” It was his sister who had entered the room.

Punit could not control himself any longer. With the half-bitten vada still in his mouth, he held on to Trisha and started weeping.

Trisha was taken aback. “Hey, what happened? Come on tell me, did someone tell you something.”

Trisha did not know how to react. She had never seen Punit this way – at least not since his childhood days.

Why can’t our family be happy? Why can’t we all be together?” muttered Punit tightening his arm around Trisha amidst sobs.

“HOW ARE YOU” – DO I MEAN IT?

Last week Pogo (my Pug) peed on our doormat and my Mom slipped on it. She got a swelling and a slight crack on her right leg. The doctor advised her to wear a rigid splint the whole day and remove it before going to bed. Yesterday night when she was removing the splint, Pogo was watching her. He immediately started licking my Mom’s right leg, that too particularly the swollen part. After the incident, we noticed a stark difference in his behaviour and especially with my Mom, he behaves very soberly.

It might seem unrealistic and funny as he is a mere animal! Let me share you a couple of happenings of my life with humans recently to see the difference and the message I derived out of it.

In the recent past, I went through some unpleasant days of my life. I was feeling very low and discouraged. During such moments a couple of my friends asked me – HOW ARE YOU?

To one, I hesitated and in a very subtle way I portrayed ‘I am fine’. But immediately, my friend caught me and started checking with one of my contacts and also on my social media pages just to know what is exactly happening in my life.

To another one who is very close to me with bit hesitation, I shared about my bad condition. But the response was very casual or taken for granted kind of.

Did you notice the difference?

I would like to quote Payal’s (Candles Online writer) comment on it – “Humans are losing the sense of sensitizing the pain in others life. We have gone busy in grappling the materialistic and temporary gains.

Indeed it is like the condition of a leprous leg, unable to sense the pain and need for medication. The more I ignore the condition, the more the germ spreads and the more the ability of sensitivity is lost.

WHOM SHALL I BLAME FOR SUCH  AA CONDITIO OF MY LIFE?

WHY CAN’T I SENSE THE PAIN IN OTHERS?

Human is the epitome of God’s creation and is given the ability to understand the pain of others. Through understanding the pain of others and comforting them we project God’s image as that’s how we are created.

One of the life-changing experiences of Indian cricketer Mr Sidhu was a meetin with Mother Teresa. When he went to meet Mother Teresa and donate Rs. 10,000/- for charity, he saw Mother Teresa cleaning the wounds of a couple  of people with leprosy on their death bed. The room was stinking so much of their rotten flesh that Mr Sidhu had to run out and puke. After that when Mr Sidhu handed over the money, Mother Teresa said to him, Son, I do not need your money, I need your time.

Do we have time for others? The answer is, NO.

But why do we actually become opposite to how we were created? Where is the root of that leprosy? I think it is inside of us, inside of me?

The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”

What is that sickness?

Sin is the sickness of our heart. It is the bitterness, anger, arrogance, pride, clamour, evil speaking, malice and lust. These are little foxes who take birth in our heart and causes us to sin in a greater manner – Murder, Rape, Loot, Corruption, False Witnessing and many more.

Let us deal with these little foxes today!

Sickness cannot be called as sickness without Healing. When there is Sin, there is also Holiness. It is the LORD who is Holy, and as long as He exists we have the hope of becoming holy and  being healed again from the sickness of  the heart.

God has given us just two principles;

“Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind

Love people as you love yourself.”

WHAT AILS THE HUMAN PSYCHE

As I write this, I am trying to come to terms with the recent CBI revelation that a student of grade 11 of a reputed school ended up slitting the throat of a 7-year old of the same school simply because he wanted the upcoming examination to be stalled! As the truth comes to light after a series of investigations, my heart saddens at the whole episode.

A tender life lost! A youth staring blankly at a gloomy future as a juvenile convict. One set of parents scarred for life by the loss of their little bud. Another set of parents left to battle with the stigma of a ‘murderer son’ – faced with the dilemma whether to be with their son at this tough time and to face the wrath of the society or turn cold towards their son for his heinous crime.

Some of us would be quick to comment – ‘What a depraved mind the teenager had!’, ‘This shows how poor his upbringing might have been!’, ‘He ought to be given a really strong sentence’, ‘Speaks of the times we are living in’, ‘How unsafe the world has become!’ and the like.

Before getting started with the business of shaking our heads in despair and pooling together this and other such incidents happening around the world, lets remember that human depravity has been an age-old phenomenon. Right from the time man fell in sin, there has been no turning back. Human fallenness raises its ugly head every now and then breeding unhappiness, uncertainty and distrust.

A quick scan of world history over the civilizations would give us ample to ponder about in this regard. So, no, its not simply that the digital generation has its mind tweaked to sheer perversion. Only that people have increasingly developed an attitude of ‘fearlessness’. Fearless to commit errors of omission and commission without a care for the consequences.

Well, a sure cure to the moral turpitude of mankind is to live in the fear of an Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient God all the days of one’s life. It is also essential to expand our latitude of acceptance and understanding for the people around us. Even if a child is not able to perform well, even if a person gets laid off his/her job, even if the yearly yield shows a downward arrow, the person in question should be able to run to the comforting arms of his/her loved ones and not scheme for alternatives.

How open are we to seek help before resigning from the bleak situation before us? How alert are we to observe and attend to the signs of distress in the people around us? How accommodating are we to allow people to grow and develop amidst their mountain and valley life experiences, rather than pushing them to perform?

These indeed are questions that we ought to ask ourselves!

 

BE YE COMPASSIONATE COMFORTERS

Ever had those nervous moments such as waiting for your turn to face the interview panel or being the next in line for a stage performance? Clammy palms, fidgety toes, twirling hair ends or biting nails?? Been there?

And did you feel better if someone came by and wrapped an encouraging arm around you or gave you an encouraging pat on the back? I bet you did feel a lot better!

Humans need comfort at varying times. Stress, anxiety, disease, worry, financial debt, death – all call for comfort and consolation. At times just a silent presence is the best comforter for an aching soul. While at other times, words or acts of comfort are necessary.

Well rehearsed words of comfort or a gesture of formality serve to console the speaker/doer more than the person(s) in need for comfort.

As I write this, I am reminded about a person called Job mentioned in the Bible:

He lived in a place beyond present-day Euphrates. Job has been described as a man who was ‘blameless and upright, and the one who feared God and shunned evil.’ He was a wealthy and respectable man with a happy family. However, in one day he lost his enormous wealth by natural and human hazards. As if that was not enough, all his ten children died at one go when the house in which they were feasting together, collapsed. To add to his misery, Job developed a horrible skin disease and his body was covered with stinking sores. Instead of standing by him during these tough times, his wife taunted him saying, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job’s pain and suffering was intense.

At this juncture, three of his friends who got the news of Job’s misfortune came to visit him together to mourn with him, and to comfort him. But when they saw Job from far, they could not recognize him. At this they lifted their voice and wept. They could not believe their eyes! So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

After these seven days of silence, each of them spoke up – lengthy speeches. Each of them jumped to various conclusions. The common essence of their speeches was that – only the wicked suffer this way and that Job was suffering because he had done something wrong. They repeatedly encouraged Job to admit his wrong and repent so that God would put an end to his suffering and bless him again. After hearing them out, Job says, “What miserable comforters, all of you!”

Oftentimes, aren’t we quick to jump into conclusions on seeing people in distress? At times, yes the wrong-doing of the person may have led to disastrous consequences. But, that is not always the case. As in Job’s case, we see later, that it was a test of his faith and uprightness and not a punishment for any wrongdoing.

We do not have the answer to all the whys of life – in our own lives and in those of others. A newly married girl loses her husband – why? The much awaited baby is born with a fatal disease – why? Cancer robs a little girl of her loving father – why? A family travelling for a good cause die in accident – why? Parents shot dead in a case of burglary, leaving the children as orphans – why?

Well, we don’t have the answers to events that God in His Sovereignty permits to happen, though He never causes them. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people’ is an often asked question. There is a book by this very name written by a Jewish Rabbi named Harold S. Kushner in which he tries to reason out and come to terms with the death of his son at the age of 14 in 1977 of the incurable genetic disease, Progeria.

Reasons are not always necessary to comfort and console others – a heart of compassion is.

Bear in mind the following when attempting to comfort and console anyone in distress:

  • Do not attach meaning to any event just by looking at the surface of it
  • Pause and put yourself in the same situation
  • Do not be hasty to speak too much
  • Do not add spice to sad events and spread them all around
  • Even if the consequence is a clear action of wrong doing, do not jump to get the credit for pointing it out
  • Speak the language of comfort that the person would understand – silent presence, a warm comforting hug, actions of comfort, few non-judgemental words of consolation
  • Do not accuse.
  • Do not point to generational flaws (mistakes of parents or grandparents)
  • Do not be hasty to provide solutions
  • Make your presence a balm of comfort for the suffering person
  • Allow the person to give a vent to his/her feelings (may be shouts of anger, tears of sorrow, denial, stoic silence)
  • There isn’t an apply-to-all-situations formula for comfort. So, act according to the situation.
  • Most importantly, pray for the person. The God of comforts will provide the peace that passes all understanding.

Anti-depressants, comfort foods, alcohol, drugs and other various addictions never bring the comfort that the heart requires. They, at best, numb the pain for a while. If you are hurting today and there is none to comfort you, I want to assure you that your Creator cares for you and will make Himself known to you if you lean on Him.

Let us be alert towards hurting people around us – in our families, workplaces, neighborhoods and even our helpers. It doesn’t cost to comfort. Rather it is richly rewarding to restore a soul from the depths of distress to the heights of relief!

CHOOSE TO REPLACE AND RENEW

All this week through we have emphasized upon the fact that human heart can be awfully deceitful. It can not only be full of self-deceit, but can also be brimming with ideas to ensnare others. While we need to accept this undisputed truth, we also need to acknowledge that we can choose not to allow ourselves to wallow in this fallen state forever. So, then what do we do about it?

Let’s take for example a young lady who has a cupboard full of worn out tattered clothes. She knows the place where she needs to go and buy new clothes for herself so as to replace her old wardrobe. She also has the required money with her. But, she is so much attached to her old clothes that she just cannot go and buy new ones. After prolonging way too much and realizing that she is being looked at with raised eyebrows, she eventually buys new attires for herself. However, she still continues to dress herself in the worn-out clothes. Now, who can help her?

She alone can help herself! She has to decide to replace her old wardrobe with the new one.

We are so much habituated to hearts filled with self-centeredness, hatred, anger, jealousy, pride, malice, self-righteousness and fame in ourselves and in others, that we do not feel the need for a cleansing of our hearts. And, if our hearts do get cleansed we are still hesitant to replace the old with the new.

Replace hatred with LOVE

Replace injustice with JUSTICE

Replace strife with PEACE

Replace self-centeredness with SELFLESSNESS

Replace jealousy with CONCERN

Replace anger with PLEASANT UNDERSTANDING

Replace suspicion with TRUST

Replace sadness with JOY

Remove the tattered garments from your heart and enrobe your heart with new raiments. Spread the fragrance of newness all around you and let people wonder how your heart has changed!!