Reading Challenge

Write Tribe Reading Challenge 2019

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Marriage

He checked his reflection in the mirror again. White Kurta with matching pathani, and a colorful embroidered jacket over the same. I hope she likes it, he thought eagerly. He ran his hand over his hair, trying unsuccessfully to straighten it but as usual, it looked totally messed up. With a sigh, he shook his head, checked his reflection for one more time and left his room.

A steady stream of relatives greeted him as he came out of the room and he found himself being hugged and patted from all sides. With every minute he grew more desperate to see her. It was really important for him to meet her once before the marriage took place.

After what seemed like hours, he found himself standing outside her room, trying to not to attract anyone's attention. He heard loud laughter from the room and braced himself for the inquisition. He knocked on the door.

Rhea opened it. Oh, oh, I don't want to deal with this one now! He thought in despair. She crossed her arms and gave him a knowing look. With a smirk, she asked him. "What are you doing here? You are not supposed to see the bride. Nobody is supposed to see her now!"

He bit back a haughty retort and said with as much humility and patience as he could. "Look, this is very important to me. I need to talk to her before the marriage. Please... " He pleaded to her and gave her his best puppy-eyed look. She rolled her eyes in exasperation and shouted. "Girls, everyone out." She wagged her finger at him and said sternly. "Leave the door open. We will be standing out." He cringed and nodded his head in embarrassment.

As one, the girls marched out giggling and pushing each other out of the room. Rhea motioned for him to go inside and held a hand at the door before closing it half-way. She made a I-am-watching-you gesture with her pointer finger and middle finger and he chuckled inspite of himself.

As he turned, he saw her and drew in a deep breath. He had seen her since her childhood. He had seen her in braces. He had seen her in oily and pleated hair. Every time, her beauty seemed to grow before him. But today, she sparkled with joy. Her radiant face beamed with a dazzling smile as she looked at him with a mixture of surprise and wonder.

"You look beautiful." He said with a warm smile as he took in her bridal attire. Most of all, he took in her eyes, beautiful, shining eyes. He checked them for a trace of uncertainty or doubt. All he saw was joy and happiness.

"What are you doing here, Mr.Handsome? We are not supposed to meet before the wedding." She chided him laughingly.

"I just wanted to talk to you for a few minutes. I hope you are cool with all that is happening. The past two months have been a whirlwind affair with the sudden engagement and the wedding preparations. And today we are here!" He finished with a deep breath as the activities of the past two months threatened to overwhelm him completely. Though he had been robotic and had acted on auto-pilot mode, her happiness was important to him and he had done everything he could to make this time memorable for her.

"Frankly? I don't know what I feel. There is happiness, there is excitement and there is a strange kind of sadness too. I will be saying goodbye to a dear and familiar life and a new life waits for me. It is scary and exciting too. I am a jumble of emotions." She let out a nervous laugh and he was shocked to realise that there was an edge of a sob in her laughter. He opened his arms wide and gestured her to approach him. She walked towards him slowly and hugged him. He held her tightly, as if he would never let her go.

"Everything will be all right. Don't worry." He said to her in a gentle voice as she withdrew herself from his hug. She looked at him and ruffled his hair affectionately, as she had always done since many many years. "Thanks for everything. I don't know what I would have done without you." She said to him in a teary voice.

He was about to speak when the girls squad rushed in unannounced and urgently.

"Come, you are being called!" Rhea held her hand and started to lead her away. He held her other hand and stopped her. "Always remember, I am there for you, come what may." She pressed his palm gently and walked away.

He saw her leaving, the only person he had ever loved in his life, his childhood friend, his sweetheart - as she joined her fiance in the mandap. He saw her leaving behind her old life, and that would mean him, and embrace a new life. Without him. But most of all, he saw his life clearly ahead. A bleak life without her. He took a deep breath as the grief threatened to overwhelm him again. It is not yet time, he reminded himself. The time would come later, after she left. But for now, his best friend, his childhood friend was getting married and there was work to do. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Drive

"Shall we leave?" She asked him and he could hear the amusement in her voice. He set aside his hesitation and discomfort, put up a brave front and nodded to her with a smile. If she was okay with this, he would be okay too.

She gestured to him to get inside the car. He reached for the back door when she cleared her throat. When he looked at her, she smiled and gestured to the front door. He rolled his eyes and got inside the car, taking up the seat next to the driver's. She came on to the other side and got inside, taking up the driver's seat. He could feel her pride and joy as she held the steering wheel almost reverentially. After muttering what seemed to be a prayer, she started the car. He sent a silent prayer to the powers that he knew and tried not to show his fear or distrust.

She drove smooth, he had to admit. And he was pleased to note that she was driving very carefully, not overtaking any other vehicle by taking unnecessary risks and not racing when she could. All his fears were allayed when he saw that she took her safety very seriously. He wished to say something to her. That he was proud of her. That she meant the world to him. If he could, he would have said that he loved her. But he wasn't much into talking or expressing his feelings. He kept to himself, speaking only when required. He hoped that she knew what she was to him.

He bit back a smile. She had kept up her non-stop chatter since the car started, showing him places that she frequented with her friends, her favourite snack-bars and hotels and just about everything that they could see. When they crossed a bookstore, he saw her gaze longingly at it and shook his head in amusement. The female never ran out of books to read. She looked at him and they both exchanged a knowing smile.

She said the exact words that he was going to utter as a question. "I will come back to it later. I know you don't like shopping."

"I don't mind waiting in the car. Go ahead and purchase whatever you want." He said to her but she shook her head and laughed. "It will take a long time for me. I can never purchase books in a hurry, you know it."

"Oh yes, I know it and how!" He smiled when she laughed out aloud at his remark. And that was another thing that he could never tell her. That when she laughed, the world got brighter. Always. Unfailingly. Considerably brighter.

For the first time since he sat inside the car, some awful memories made their presence felt. He closed his eyes, trying to shake off the sound of the crash, the sight of...

"Are you okay?" She asked in concern.

"Oh yes. I am feeling sleepy, that's all." He managed to smile at her weakly.

"Okay. Just a few more minutes and the drive will be over." She said to him reassuringly and he nodded his head.

In the evening, at the usual time, he met his friends at the park. He was feeling much better. In fact, he could not wipe off the smile from his face.

"Hey, what is the matter?" His friend asked happily.

"I went on a drive today. In a car." He said and checked his friends' reactions. Some showed surprise, some showed shock, but underlying these expressions was unmistakable happiness in their faces.

"I know. Almost twenty years after my wife died in the horrible car crash." He said in a low tone, feeling as terrible as he did, whenever he spoke about the incident. But today, there was a numbing sensation to the pain he felt. It was there, but like a dull thud. It felt like someone had applied soothing balm to his heart to heal it.

Taking a deep breath, he cleared his mind off all negative thoughts and smiled. "I went with my daughter on her first drive. She drives really well. And the main point is, she drives carefully."

All his friends applauded with claps and pats on his back. He felt contented and peaceful. All was well in his world. His small world containing his daughter and some dear friends. That was all he needed to live. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Humanism - Let us not lose it!

I do not ask for luxuries or riches.
Only, when things go wrong, and it is not my fault, do not blame me or take it out on me please!
Or, when it is really my fault, go easy on me, like I go easy on you. Let a small mistake remain a small mistake, do not make a mountain out of the molehill!
When I ask for little things, like my favourite snack from the road-side vendor, or a sandwich at the stall, do not refuse please.
And if and when you buy it for me, do not crib about how inconvenient it was for you, or how unnecessary it was! It is in the little things that I find my happiness.
When the kid falls sick, do not blame me. I love the kid, as much as you do. 
When I plan an outing, and things do not go as per plan, do not make it worse for me by complaining and cribbing about the fiasco. You can be sportive about it, you know, and enjoy the moment.
I am strong, I know. But don't use this as an excuse to put me through emotional abuse. Even strength has an expiry date. Nothing can endure forever, not a strong mind or a strong heart. And not the strong person standing in front of you. 
I stay meek, I stay humble, I opt to go without a fight. Not because I can't. But because I won't. Do not take me for granted!
All the above pleas?
These could be from a troubled partner. And I use the word 'partner' because today, the roles have been reversed. If there are suffering women in a family, there are suffering men in another. Because anyone can be a victim of emotional neglect or abuse, regardless of gender.
Some of the above pleas?
These could be from a child pleading to his/her parents. Because it is the basic tendency of humans to take for granted, the people really close to us. It is easy to assume that the person we love the most will always be beside us, no matter how we treat them. The important thing to remember is that, it is not just necessary for our loved ones to be there, it is highly important that they stay with us, knowing fully well that they are cared for!
Some of the above pleas?
It could be aged parents pleading to their grown-up 'children'. Because it is easy to lose patience when you say a sentence for five times and your mother can't understand because she has a hearing problem. It is easy to shout when your aged father tries to do something but it results into a disaster as he no longer is able to do those tasks easily, which he used to do before. But it takes a high level of maturity and responsibility to remember that once upon a time, these people were young and healthy, they looked after us, raised us and still love and care for us! 

Let us be better humans first. Feminism, chauvinism and the likes wont matter if we lose our basic 'humanism'!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Two ends of a rope

- It's a chill brought by a cyclone in the neighbouring state. One part of the society roams on the streets with sweaters and shawls, eats spicy food and sips on hot drinks. The other part of the society shivers uncontrollably on the roads, trying to find some warmth, both from humanity and Nature. And Life in general.
- The vacations are over and the group of young children are happy and excited. While one set is happy because it is time to meet friends and enjoy in school, the other set is excited because it is now time again to sell books and stationery and earn money.
- The family is happy. They have moved into a new home. Everything is just what they wished for. Another family, staying in the same building is just as happy. Because the lady of this family has now one more home to clean, and thereby earn some additional money.
- They both were mothers, but only one actually gave birth to a child. The other one's happiness knows no bounds. While the surrogate mother handed over her new born baby and felt her heart break irreparably beyond measure, the other mother embraced the baby, feeling her heart couldn't take any more of happiness and peace. Two lives changed forever in a single moment.
The observing soul saw all these and wondered. Who or What is it that decides whom to place at which end of the rope?
Two ends of a rope. Bound by a single link, placed at opposite ends, with a world of difference between them. When they meet, they complete the Circle Of Life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Word for the new year.

Another year has gone by. Life is moving on at a fast pace. If we pay attention to every day, it seems to drag by. But when we look back at the year as such, we find that time just flew by and we barely noticed! (May be, that's why the wise people say - always look at the bigger picture!)

As time flies by, the times of our lives change too. We are not the same people we were a year ago. For me, it has been a phenomenal year with a lot of changes. The year has taught me some most important lessons of my life.

* To start with, I have learnt that it is not as necessary to be happy, as it is to be content. If you are contented, if there is peace in the heart, then you won't be lacking anything in life.

* And that is the second lesson. We really don't lack anything, it is our desire for 'more' that creates the illusion of 'lack' in our life. Where there is gratitude and contentment, there is abundance!

* Our happy place, our place of peace and contentment is within us. Neither people nor places can make us happy if we do not feel connected with our own Self which is the source of ultimate bliss.

* Religion, spirituality, rituals and the likes are nothing if there isn't basic 'humanity' within us! The most important duty for us is to revere life in all its forms. Be it trees, be it animals or humans - everyone deserves respect, everyone deserves to live.

* The emotions - however overwhelming they may seem to be - it is important to realize that they are temporary, like clouds passing through the sky. It is never a good decision to take any action only on the basis of the temporary emotion that you may be experiencing at that given point of time.

Words have great power. They can change your mood, they can motivate you, they can drive you to despair. Words can define the course of action for you. With this view in mind, I kept searching for a word that would define the new year for me. Can I say 'define the new year'? May be. Or, the better term/phrase would be - 'What the new year would be really about.'

After a lot of introspection, I finally found the word. 'Write'. Because nothing else gives me as much satisfaction and happiness as writing. Because it feels like just the thing I should do. Because I can't imagine a life without writing. Because it is as essential to me as breathing. Because, only as a writer, I can identify myself now.

The question arises - Am I a good writer? I don't think so. Will I be a good writer? I am not sure. The only thing I know for sure is, I have to write! So I will.

Because, good, bad or mediocre, I am a writer and a writer always writes!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Reading Challenge

Write Tribe Reading Challenge 2019



It appears in your life all of a sudden, without any warning.

Normally your day is made up of a routine. Unconsciously or knowingly, all of us follow a routine. For some, it is the same set of tasks that they do, at the given time and place. For others, it is the same set of thoughts that they think every day. Only the effect of the thoughts changes. Some bring in the same kind of emotions but with changing intensity. Your day is not just made up of physical work, but mental activity too.

And then, Silence makes its presence felt at some point during your day. It could be the busiest day of your life, or the laziest day. It could be any time of the day. But you feel it.

It's like, you were shivering badly and a huge warm blanket wrapped itself around you. Or, you were watching the sea with its tidal waves, and in the blink of an eye, the waves disappeared, leaving behind just the sea with no motion at all. Or, on a bright sunny day, a huge dark grey cloud covered the sky and brought in cold and darkness in the world.

Silence. It is necessary. It is the sleep that your tired soul craves. It is the night that your hyper-active mind longs for. It makes you view the bigger picture. You face the question - 'Who am I?' when you confront Silence. And this question is just the beginning of Self-Realisation. Gradually you will realize that you are not the physical work you do, you are not the thoughts that you think every day. You are Formless. One with the Universe. There is no Other. Just You. One Self manifesting as Many. All your struggles, physical and mental, end when you realise your true nature.

Silence. It is the beginning. And the End.