Tag Archives: Faith

Why ‘Outspoken’?

The word that is doing the rounds in most of my social media accounts and now here too – ‘Outspoken’! The name of our team’s in-house public speaking forum at work.

Three weeks of effort, bonding with friends over brain wrecking sessions, hours of script editing, listening to audio recordings of speech practices at the oddest hours, reaching work early, leaving for home late – it became a habit.

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Oh shoot. Why did we begin this? Breathe, breathe.

The fright of the stage, fear of performing sub par, worrying about being a nerve wreck – not for myself, but for others. All of it so that the other people I know also feel the rush of confidence on the stage I’d once felt.

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Who’s backing out now? Will anyone even come?

Last week, I wrote about the event (a meeting for an audience of more than 80 people – we wanted bigger, better, grander) coming up. This week we are done with it. Not only did we manage to create joyous ripples of success but even five days after the event, mention of it creeps up in conversations.

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We didn’t know either we’d be so good, but thanks!

I’ve been thinking for a while now about why the event mattered so much to me. It took a lot of space on my already full plate. My manuscript editing got hampered, my work hours stretched into my sleep hours, I forgot to eat on time, I was hardly being able to compartmentalize and prioritize and these are all things that really matter to me! Then why? I thought about it – a lot. I tried explaining myself to people in a lot of fancy ways. But it is time to come clean. I have always been afraid of public speaking. I still am. I still fear I will fall short of content, or blabber too much, mostly about Elon Musk, or if I will have cold hands. Thankfully, shaking knees got chucked out of the window over the months. So yes, this is me. But I took my chances. I got pushed by a couple of people, they know well who they are, and I realized I could be less nervous and more confident. It dawned on me that with time, I could be the one addressing an audience. And I wanted the others to see, know, feel and acknowledge exactly what they and I had been missing out on for most part of our lives – the chance to let go of the fear.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of people around me. This lets me make a difference in mine through theirs. With you, I too get better. With you, I laugh. With you, I cry. With you, I walk the talk.

And that is exactly why I did it.

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Can’t stop dancing the happy dance!

Graciously Yours!

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Life Notes #13.

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I’m not the one on the stage this time, yet the test is mine.

The last life note that I wrote had to do with my entry into public speaking, with me emceeing for one of our corporate events. This one has to do with public speaking too but this time I am putting a lot of other people on the stage, wanting them to enjoy the stage just as I had on that day four months ago. Some of us at office came up with a public speaking forum so that others too got a chance to taste the rush of the stage, overcome the fear of the microphone and find themselves while letting go of the clench of the teeth, the shake of the knees and the sweat in the palms.

To be honest, I am more freaked out now than I was then. Probably because this time around, it’s not me but 30 odd people who are going to be under the scan of an audience that is almost three times the stage-gracers. This is going to be their make-or-break moment, because if we manage to break through their walls of fear together, we’ll make it! I still haven’t figured out why this means so much to me, why I am praying all goes well, why I’d rather keep my fingers crossed till the D-day than uncross them and work on my manuscript. I want each of them to go up there on the stage that day and unveil the magic of their thoughts, perform like they’ve unwound their shackles, unbound themselves from all the chains, like they’ve found themselves. I want to take pride in their efforts and see them take on the stage and world with confidence that shines like the sweat after an innings well played.

Note to self : Making a difference in someone’s life is all about the effort. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or not, though success would indeed be sweeter! What matters is that you tried. Efforts do count, even if not recounted or acknowledged enough.

Graciously Yours!

Breathe.

Her husband sat her down at the bed. She’d just taken a hot water bath. She placed her towel on her shoulder to soak up water from her wet hair. She inhaled deeply. This wasn’t the first time she had to answer the questions. This wouldn’t be the last.

“How did it happen?”

“What did he say?”

“How does it feel?”

“When exactly did it happen?”

“Did you see it all?”

Once again she closed her eyes and recalled the moment. In a flash, it was all over. One second she was at the pavement, the next she was on the road, the head of a dying man on her lap, blood drenching her clothes, tickling down her skin, shock overriding the bile building up in her stomach.

She opened up her eyes again. She was ready.

Her husband instead said, “It must be difficult for you dealing with the accident. Do you want to eat outside or should I cook?”

She breathed again!

Graciously Yours!

Of People and Things.

Naksh was singing at the top of his voice! “Papparah Papparah Papparah… Badtameez Dil Badtameez Dil… Ahh… Haan

“Oh shut that radio thing off and stop jumping on the bed,” Shailjaa scolded her eight year old son, Naksh!

No longer jumping, he smiled at her and stood there, the hand held radio his father bought as a gift, still blaring what people called music these days!

She was still angry at him but this child of hers could not be least bothered! He’d misplaced her earrings and she couldn’t find it anywhere. She was sure she’d given to him to go and keep it by the bedside table. She’d even boxed his ears two hours ago but he came back and sat beside her in no time! Now he was jumping on the bed unashamed.

“Get out,” she said, dropping the freshly ironed bed covers and pillow cases on the bed. “I have to change the bed sheet.”

“Mummy, I am sorry,” he said, and walked out of the room, forlorn and dejected, head hung.

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Shailjaa didn’t reply.

She pulled off the old covers angrily. Unfurling the new covers, she went to the headboard side and struggled to pick up the mattress alone to push the new covers beneath. Something fell from behind the mattress onto the floor beneath. She bent down and looked under the four poster bed. Two pieces of gold shone out to her. One within her reach, the other rolled off to the other end. She crawled under the bed and got her hands on both the pieces. She craned her neck upwards to look at the bed from under. A coffee flavored toffee was sticking out from behind the mattress, fighting gravity, pinched in place. She pulled it out too and crawled back out from under the bed. She sat on the floor, head resting on the bed, turning the earrings back and forth. They were the ones for which she’d boxed her son’s ears. She felt terrible, devastated almost. She now recalled picking it from the bedside table and having kept it on the bed. They must have gotten wedged between the mattress and the headboard during the course of the night. She lay her head on her knees and held herself close. She sat that way for more than a few minutes and swore to herself she’d put people over things here onwards.

Getting up from her place on the floor, she went out of the bedroom to look for her son. He was standing in the balcony, listening to the radio. She snuck up behind him and dangled the toffee in front of his eyes. He whirled around and smiled broadly. But then he saw her face and his smile dimmed a little. Her heart pricked.

“You want this?” she asked him.

He shook his head.

She felt sad.

But then he said, “I want the mango flavor.”

Her heart jumped with joy! “I’ll get you those later. Right now, will you please help me with covering the bed?” she asked.

He nodded her head vigorously. Then he raised a finger and asked, “Can I jump on the bed after that?”

“Yes, we both will,” she said, laughing.

Beaming with joy, he ran towards the room, and she noticed as she followed him, that his radio was lying in the balcony. She picked it up and placed it on the table – a lesson learnt.

Graciously Yours!

Thought Flash #6

If marriages are indeed made in heaven, are you telling me God actually went about match making on the basis of caste? Or religion? Or even for that matter on the basis of gender?

Souls, as per last understanding, were gender-less. Caste-less. And religion-less. So how can my soulmate be from the same religion or caste as me?

Shouldn’t arranged marriages and ‘matches are made in heaven’ be mutually exclusive?

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Graciously Yours!

P.S. : This post is by no means an attack on your personal beliefs. I’m rather questioning mine.

Marmee!

She’s flawed. Yet she’s perfect.

She’s elegant. She’s hardworking. She’s barely tired. She’s always concerned.

She taught me to accept nothing lesser than what I deserve. She made me bold. She proved women are at par with men.

She put me to sleep on long days. She stroked my hair telling me how proud I made her. She let me make up my mind about what is right and what wrong.

She taught me life. She learnt from me too. She shared her mistakes, overlooked mine. She broke rules. Yet she respected them.

She let me fly free. She brought me back to the earth when I lost my way. She cried at my success. She held me through my failures.

She fought for me. She let me hold her when she was weak. She showed me her weakness. She became my strength.

She’s my ‘Marmee’. And I couldn’t have asked for any better!

Some days, I miss you here. Other days, I write about you! 😉 Love you, Mom!

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Graciously Yours!

Sea.

Guide to reading : Below are, not one but, three completely unrelated short stories all bound by the one word ~ “Sea”.

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He walked towards the seas. Stretched far across till where his eyes could see, only blues greeted him, shimmering in different shades from azure to teal to royal blue with hints of cyan and turquoise pitching in! This was the quieter part of the beach. Not many residents came here. And tourists? Barely. He dropped the bag and slowly moved to the edge of the rocks. As he looked down at the lapping waves twenty feet below, a rush of excitement passed through him. Goosebumps lined up his arms. He took in a lot of air, breathing deep. It would be a while before he did that again. “Whenever you’re ready,” he heard someone shout. He looked across to the adjacent cliff. Nodding, ever so slightly, he gave the clique of photographers a thumbs up and then spreading his arms like those of an eagle’s, he swooped down on the water, cold air rushing past him and all of reality a mere joke in that moment of truth!


“Mom, be careful. The baby might get hurt,” my daughter warned me, as soon as I set the toddler on the sand. I smiled at her, nostalgia hitting me in my guts! Twenty years ago, my little girl was perched in my lap eating her way through sand more than playing with it. She ran across the sands, collecting shells, screaming with delight at wriggling snails. Crabs scared her. Starfish made her curious. Corals were her collectibles. I still had some kept in one of my boxes. I scooped up the kid in my arms. “Are you stronger than your mother?” I asked him. But he was fiddling with a coral in his hand. He curiously stared at it and gurgled “Ma”, the best way he could, showing the coral to me and his mother turn by turn. “Oh well, let him out on the sand. He’ll be fine!” said my daughter, possibly reminiscing her own coral days! “But we’ll bathe him once after,” she said, as soon as I put the kid on the beach where I had raised my family and my husband’s mother had raised hers and so on. We were the sea and sand people. You couldn’t take the salts of the seas out of our blood.


He needed to talk to someone. His brain was a flurry of thoughts. Everything was going wrong. He was screwing up whatever was left in his life after having lost all that he once had. He got out of his car. He closed the door lightly. His girlfriend’s banging of the car door still reverberated in his ears. Walking along the beach, he saw a girl sitting alone. Hoping it would not be a mistake, he went up to her and asked politely, “Do you mind if I sit here?” She looked up at him. Her tear streaked cheeks glistened in the soft lights. “It’s a free country,” she said, resignedly. He sat down beside her. He cupped up the sand and watched it flow out of his hands, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I don’t want us to be running out of time,” he said out loud to his girlfriend. “And if you go away, this is all I’ll ever be,” showing her his now empty hands. “You cannot love me so much. You should not,” she said, putting her hand in his. “The sands of time will take care of us. Just let them,” he pleaded. She sighed, didn’t say anything, but let her hand stay right where it belonged.


Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Devesh Lunia.

The Hope?

He sent his father away for breakfast. It was ticking 10 AM. She would be coming over  any time to the shop now. And there she was, clad in a sari, hiding all possible parts with the six yards of cloth. She had a beautiful body, one she should have been flaunting had it not been marred with red, blue, purple and brown. Her eyes showed what the clothes hid.

His eyes lit up and smile broadened whenever he saw her. And when she looked at him and smiled, his wings fluttered to fly! She handed him a list of groceries required. Their hands touched. Neither pulled away. They both knew they wanted it. It was her console and his concern.

 “How are you today?” he asked, while slowly picking out items from the shelves. There was no hurry. There never was.

“Same as yesterday. Same as every day. Existing.”

She was morose today. Anyone in her shoes would be.

“You’ll start living soon.”

“Will I now?”

“Yes,” he said with a conviction she admired in him. He was the reason she had more purple than red.

“He touches you again and it’ll be all over, okay?” he asked her, handing her the packet.

He took the money she gave him and put it aside in a drawer his father knew nothing about.

“I’ll give him a week at the most. He’s a rotten fellow.”

“A week it is then,” he said, looking at her. Her sad smile spiked a pain in his chest. He knew she wasn’t an infatuation. And he let her know. Every damn day.

“I love you,” he said, his parting words.

“I do, too,” she said softly, her day already feeling better and brighter.

He watched her walk away. She was married. She was elder to him. Theirs was a match the society would frown upon.

But he had taken to her like salt to sea. He was her only hope and she his beacon of light. Together they would alight the horizon.

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Graciously Yours!

The Ideal?

Her eyes teared up as she wrote another long, lying letter to her mother. A letter which would give away nothing of what was happening to her, which killed her bit by bit from guilt every time she thought of her mother.

Her mother had always been her best friend. She still was. But this time she couldn’t share her happiness with her mother. Or her pain. She looked at herself in the mirror across the bed. She saw her blurred self lying on the bed, papers piled up neatly on a hard bound dictionary. She covered her bosom with her saree. The red marks around her neck didn’t need a mirror as a reminder.

She was in love. With a man not her husband. She was in pain. With a man her husband.

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To be contd…

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.

The unseen face.

PST

 

They could not afford the granduer of the Durga Puja pandals which were stretched across the length and breadth of the city. Their idol had none of the splendor associated with the city’s most festive days. They were five women praying to the strongest woman deity they’d ever known, celebrating her stories, wondering if she still existed somewhere among one of them.

Not many of them prayed anymore. Over the years, the numbers at the Puja had dwindled. She didn’t blame them. After all, how long can you fight against your own destiny and hope that things will change, tides will turn and the unthinkable will happen? But she hadn’t been able to forsake praying. That is the one thing that she had wholeheartedly learnt from her mother – to pray.

They weren’t a part of the privileged – if she could put it lightly. Goddesses and prayers couldn’t be an element of their daily living. Far from it, in fact. They lived in areas, the others called red light areas. She never understood where the name came from. She always wondered if the red light signified danger – and if yes, then were they a danger to society or was the society a danger to them?

She seemed to have lost herself in the sounds of the conch shell and the bells. The fragrance of the incense sticks devoured her into a trance.  Someone banged on the door. Snapping out of her trance, she opened the door. “How much longer will you all be at it? It’s almost sun down. You need to get to work,” the lady at the door, said strictly. The lady was not a bad person, but she wasn’t necessarily good either. She was, unfortunately, just right.

“We’ll be downstairs soon,” she said ruefully.

Closing the small 10 by 10 feet spare room which housed a small idol of the Goddess of the season, the five ladies trooped to their respective rooms downstairs. Taking off her red and white bangles, she kept them carefully in a velvet clothed box. Her mangalsutra* lay beside it. She’d never worn it after her wedding day. Tears welling up in her eyes, she kept the box tucked far inside her wardrobe. She removed her red bindi and stuck it on the top of the box. They were to be used again after a long time. Slowly she took off her red and white sari, an attire which held no significance in the life she was living, an attire that was to be kept hidden away from her ‘customers’, an attire that shouldn’t remind them in any manner of the life that was awaiting them outside the red light area.

She was faceless to them. Nameless to them. They wanted it that way. And she wanted to keep it that way too. She didn’t want to think of what her life meant – either to her or to them. She wanted to keep her dreams locked away in that velvet clothed box.

She was a devotee of  the Durga. But she couldn’t harness the Goddess’ strength in herself. They were devotees of the Durga too. And they didn’t want her to harness Her strength.

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Prashant from Just Spoken Thoughts. Thank you for coming up with the beautiful sketch in almost no time! Hoping that this post will allure you into further creative collaborations! ;)

*The black and golden beaded necklace that signifies marital connection and is a part of the married Hindu woman’s attire.