Sunday, 29 November 2015

My life in a nutshell

Life is a tug of war between acute cravings to remain buried in a fetal position under ponderous layers of blanket tucked away smugly in its much affirmed impregnability and between a fathomless longing to lie sprawled under an open sky with arms spread out wide and far just as a near perfect refection of the wild blue yonder that you try to capture and release at the same time. And in between them lies a pile of unpaid bills and a trail of half done chores.


Sometime around while my cold fingers were dragging the cursor to the 'post' button to publish the above string of seemingly erratic words, somewhere in a quaint little town in Eastern India an erudite soul was pouring over enchanting pictures of various stages of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. Here is  what Manjari Chakravarti writes about the process:

"Was reading about caterpillars being completely liquified inside their cocoon before being refashioned into a moth or butterfly, a process that is as inconceivable as something seen in a hallucination, as far from probability as it can get.
So, was thinking, could this be what we see as death? What if death is only that process of liquefaction from which we emerge as something else ( although of course we retain none of the original soup once we've kicked the bucket, unlike the caterpillar). 
This is of course some form of wishful ranting. 
But, the butterfly remembers behaviours it had learned as a caterpillar. (Insert italics here.)
Once, a movie on tv opened with the scene of a field, some blue sky, and I said " oh, that's Cornwall". About twenty minutes into the film, it transpired that the scene was indeed set in Cornwall.
There are some forests I miss, a certain kind of forests, a certain light, a kind of dark sky. Pretty sure they're memories of some pre-liquefaction period."

An internet connection albeit a lousy one is perhaps also a contrivance to form deeper bonds where you are beckoned to have a peek into each other's ostensibly inaccessible yet fascinating dwellings. When I read her post the very same day my own post seemed to unfold an added suggestion. The very same day we both had mused over two different acts both of which elucidate a common precept. The precept was absent from my sphere of observation till I read her post.

Here is my conversation with M

Me:These are signs I think. The parts not only complete the whole but also are a replica of its larger design. We can connect the dots if we are sensitive to the signs.

M: Yes G...

Me: At times I write something to put into words something that nags me and when I read it again after a couple of days it comes across as something totally different...I mean I never had though it could mean that too!

M: Because we are changing all the time, our perceptions change, even of ourselves.

Me:Or do we get a glimpse of our subconscious sending a deeper message?

M: Hmmmm.......could be!

M: Like my current post. I didn't think about birth and death while writing it

M: Hey!!Sounds like a cocoon n butterfly to me
grin emoticon
Me: I wasn't even thinking of all this while writing

M: Telling you must go abroad Apply! Apply! Apply! Go! Scoot! Fly!Run!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Love, marriage, etc.

Though I am well aware (or that’s what I would like to think) of where the proverbial shoe pinches, I would prefer to dodge the hat of an agony aunt when it comes to all affairs love and marriage. The point being…this blogpost must be saved from the dangers of being dumped under ‘the advice on love and marriage.’ Since I am not selling either the idea of love or the institution of marriage (or even abstinence from them) I would prefer my disclaimer ‘THIS IS NOT A POST ON ADVICE ON LOVE AND MARRIAGE’ to scream out at you than hide it behind the chagrin of fine print. It’s imperative to be repetitive and explicit here because those perched on moral high horse may raise an eye brow or two on my credibility to advice on the said topic and those sitting on the fence may unsuccessfully look for sane advice in the post. I would like to believe that I have managed to kill the qualms of the former and hopes of the latter with the same stone. Even if after reading the disclaimer there still lurks a slightest urge to grab a tiny piece of advice from me it must be nipped in the bud right away. Not only is it inflammable, following it is bound to either yank you out of your comfort zone or open up a can of worms, both highly disagreeable and baleful situations according to our societal norms. 

The blogpost is simply a spinoff of a complex experiment conducted in the premise of an idle head that tries hard to stay put on my strapped shoulders. It so happened that when somebody accidently triggered a raw nerve it lead to a chain reaction of sorts that attempts to untangle love from marriage, de-construct and dissect them and then observe them separately as well as in combination, their dependency on either, their survival without the other and their attributes in their pure form. Here are the approximated findings that sprang straight out of my crazy laboratory that thrives in the recesses of my head concealed under a generous growth of frizzies. 

When I view the four lettered word (that does not start with a fantastic F) from under my cerebral microscope I was disappointed to find that everything clever had been already written, said, sung, played out, enacted and felt a zillion times. While I could have cried for being robbed off of a eureka moment I let my mind wander from the sunny terrains of love to the dark crannies of hate. Though it’s not imperative to examine hate to comprehend what love is, I thought it would help to some extend as they are the considered to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. It would be relevant to mention that whenever in the past I had expressed my hate for a particular low life scum I was reminded by a hapless listener that hate is a negative emotion that only affects me and not him/her (I refuse to divulge the gender of the low life). So going by it it’s safe to assume that love is an intrinsic and a positive emotion that helps you and not necessarily the person you love. So while the focus of your love is the person you love but the affect it has on is only you like a malfunctioned gun that backfires. It’s your business. I am not saying that love is not reciprocated, it can be but that’s not a pre requisite. Nobody is obliged to love you back. When it’s reciprocated it’s just an aftereffect albeit a pleasant one I must add. However I wouldn't be too quick to label it love if it depends solely on this aftereffect. Love doesn't have conditions.It doesn't matter if the person you love doesn't love you back. You still love him/her. I verified the above hypothesis with my love for singing. It doesn't lessen my love for the activity even when it doesn't love me back which is more apparent to the poor listener than me.

No matter how tall the claims for love are or how genuine the accounts of it sound it remains to be checked if it’s truly love or one of its glittering but cheap impersonators called infatuation. How do you find out? The litmus test of love is that its effect is always positive and it never harms. Remember love in its pure form is unconditional and harmless. It would not harm anybody. I mean anybody. It cannot be a reason for harming you, the person you love or anybody else who manages to sneak into the picture or even steals the complete picture. If it’s harming you or someone you need to rethink if its love or some vague idea of it you are stubbornly clutching on to to avoid uncomfortable questions or inconvenient situations. It should not be a fa├žade to hide your own insecurities or a defence mechanism to boo away your own demons. It’s definitely not something to fill in your loneliness with. It is deep affection for someone without expecting anything in return. Remember love does not undermine your dignity, freedom and self-respect whether you are the giver or at the receiving end.

When it comes to marriage love is only one of the ingredients in the complex concoction. Respect, space, healthy boundaries and empathy surge up to claim their rightful place. Marriage is not an intrinsic feeling but an institution and a man made one at that. In our endeavour to knit social, legal, religious and emotional strands into a single establishment what we have assembled is a Gordian knot of sorts. It requires constant nurturing since it’s cultivated and not innate. It makes it hard to escape ego as the participants are constantly judged from social, religious, legal and emotional platforms. Ego is nothing but feeding on to an enlarged sense of self worth that thrives on the approval on your marital protocol from these sources outside of the marriage. These social and religious institutions like you to play out to their tunes for their sanction.

 Marriage is also a spiritual workshop for participants to learn empathy, balance, boundaries, respect, and love not just for the partner but also for themselves. It’s an interesting balancing act where the partners try out various permutations of ego and self respect. The ideal is where there is no ego between the partners but respect for themselves and each other. Less than ideal is when one of the partners clings on to ego and the other gives up on self respect to create some sort of balance. If you feel this imbalance in your marriage you need to ask yourself are you the one with the ego or the one with no self respect. The combination that is doomed is the one where both cling on to the ego. It’s an important lesson to distinguish self-respect from ego. Unlike love, marriage is always a two way street for it to work. Since its success depends on two people it also teaches people to honour themselves by walking out of it if the respect, love, space is not reciprocated. Whether we stay in marriage or walk out it teaches us soul lessons important for our growth.

So how do we know if the marriage is working? By looking within and bypassing an urge to collect a report card from the social dictators. Ask yourself the reason for staying in marriage. Does love, respect, personal growth, peace, contentment figure in affirmative in your answer? You would want it no other way than to stay in your marriage because it empowers you, fills your life with light and positivity. However if your reasons for staying married is because you are scared to fall into the cruel stereotype of a social pariah( the most common being the crazy cat lady) or some fear of the unknown or because you are fighting a losing battle with your own demons then all the facebook likes on your anniversary pictures can become that invisible guide that drives your decisions.

So somebody asked if lack of respect should be reason to walk out of marriage where there is love? I would say that first it needs to be examined if it indeed is love because remember love does not harm or undermine somebody. Love is a feeling not an enactment. The feeling manifests in acts of caring for the object of our affection.The acts of caring can vary according to people and situations. So we can still love a person when the situation changes.Only its manifestation will change. It can manifest into a silent prayer that stays with you like a delicate fragrance. So if you love your partner but want to exit marriage for reasons other than love who says you can't or don't love him/her? Marriage and love are not mutually inclusive. While marriage solicits love, love can thrive without marriage. Love does not need to be proclaimed, sanctioned,photographed, displayed, justified, explained or approved. Love can also be a subtle semblance, basal and unembellished with no strings or frills attached.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

A Quiet Diwali

Four of us with our collective loss, twelve lamps, a quiet dinner comprising of a folksy menu and a monophonic prayer that’s sacrosanct yet serene. The celebration of Diwali in my family now is a reticent affair, an aberration from the usually clamorous fiesta in form of  uproarious banter supplemented with more than a generous dose of firecrackers, sweets, rituals, games, booze and other adornments and embellishments that amalgamates the festival of light.

However Diwali had not always been such a vanilla affair for us and had the usual sprinkling of sweets, dry fruits and firecrackers and a lot more starting from my daunted and mostly unsuccessful bids to not come in the way of the whopping spring cleaning operation while contriving my way into myriad shopping trips for new clothes and gifts. The winter air replete with anticipation of imminent gaiety rang with a few stray fire crackers as a prelude to the grand finale. The people who were considered important enough received tacky ‘happy diwali’ cards made on relatively precious plain white sheets of paper. Not so important people got the ones scribbled on ruled paper torn from the notebooks. Lamps were bought few days before so that they could be washed to a squeaky perfection and small cotton balls were rolled into willowy wicks. The D day started with wearing of new clothes, a comparative study of fire crackers before pooling them to be used at the much awaited night and sometimes a cramped attempt at a grubby rangoli amidst disagreements that went beyond bickering to jostling of elbows and bumping of tiny heads. A trip to the gurdwara, a family prayer, much rehearsed greetings, lighting the lamps and placing them at the darkest of the corners all fitted in seamlessly to complete the jubilant delineation.

However over a period of time it diluted to a simple prayer and a dinner. The most pertinent reason is that I grew up. I became aware of child labour in firework factories. It’s distressing for me to realize that I had derived juvenile pleasure albiet unknowingly out of the fire crackers made by those tiny vulnerable hands in threadbare conditions. I no longer wish to patronize such boorishness. I have grown out of my apathetic leanings to the ominous air of thick dark smog and the roads littered with used fire crackers bearing a testimony to a night of complete heedlessness, a nightmare for innocent animals and dainty birds. My heart goes out to all the elders and those who are ailing and afflicted. The bazaars are no longer safe to shop during festivals and sweets are precarious for a variety of reasons so that leaves us with lamps, prayers and rangoli. Extended family has all spread across the globe so family gatherings are as sparse as the hair on my grandfather’s head.

Though our house didn’t ring with raucous laughter or echoed with ceaseless greetings there was a snug ambience of ingenuous complacency. Apart from the family prayer the unsaid affirmation between all of us was apparent, the promise of togetherness through thick and thin. As we sat in the coziness of our home the deafening sound of fire crackers seemed to fade into oblivion and what remained was an almost faultless love and an imperceptible bond you develop with people who have shared intricate experiences and memories that braid a part of your soul together so much so that the memories become our collective joy or pain and can be felt in togetherness even when no words are uttered and in spite of some glaring disagreements and difference of opinions.

My six hour bus journey to reach had been more tiring and uncomfortable than the usual with an unsparing smattering of smelly farts, cramped seating and pushy co passengers but I have resolved to spend all the occasions, little or big with family. There might or might not be any fun and games but there will be always the silent wordless prayer and gratitude for each other. My emotional taste buds are getting tired of masala of daily life with its tendency to deviate towards high strung drama and these occasions have proved time and again to be remedial and beneficial for palate cleaning and grounding.