How it ended

Hey there! I’ve been in a transition phase in my life in the last few weeks. Let’s just say the last week of 2020 and the following weeks of 2021 have been of major transition for me. Of unexpected ends and unexpected new life.

I’ve been writing it all in my personal diary but I need to catalogue this. Here on my blog. My real journal. So, read on, if you got lot of time on your hands. 🙂

12/21/2020

Dear Diary
It doesn’t get lonelier than this. It’s almost like people have come together and decided to boycott me or not talk to me. Or maybe I did this to myself. I boycotted/ignored/distanced myself from people. They were killing me. The environment was toxic. 

Then why am I looking to get those same people back in life whom I hated/resisted? Perhaps, I’m looking for human interaction. I’m just looking to talk to anyone. And I’m unable to move out. I actually don’t want to quit my job. I just want a place where I’m able to work peacefully. Where people don’t mind me as much. Where people are welcoming than the antagonistic environment this has become. 

I tried moving. I tried reaching out to people. But no one wants to hire me. It seems like I’ve hit the end of the road. It’s like there’s nothing and no one out there who needs me/wants me. There’s no more value I can add in the current setup. I don’t want to stay here. That is true. And pretty certain. No matter how much I enjoy working with WV folks. I enjoy learning from them. But I’m no longer interested in working here. 

I understand I’ll need to step out slowly. But it’s been a long way. I’ve been tired for so long. It seems I’m unable to move out. 

12/25/2020

Dear Diary,
I quit my job yesterday. I think it would be two more months that I stay employed while I’m in my notice period.

It’s a weird place. An unknown place rather. 

I don’t regret my decision. I don’t want to go back to the place. Nor do I think it’s something I could continue. I could probably try to get another job but I think it wasn’t happening. I think this was coming my way all along.

I think I should be happy if this was my destiny. Rather than thinking of it as something I did, I would rather like to believe it’s a milestone God has brought me to. I should be happy because it comes before I went too far on the path of sin. Because that’s what my job had turned into. It made me to a person no one liked. No, it’s not about others. But it was a sign. I could not see earlier. I now do. 

I have never liked what I see when I reflect upon my past. It brings me only thoughts of guilt and self loathing. 

12/26/2020

Dear Diary,
It was a quiet relaxed day at home. After Tarun’s strong reaction to my idea of life coaching, it did settle me. 

I did not like his strong use of words or the tone, but I understood his concern. He wants me to take a complete break before plunging again into anything. I think I do need that.

I did painting, reading, went to walk with Tarun twice. Talked to Ayushi. Told her about my decision. It’s always so easy to talk to her. 

I and Tarun talked about how we want to focus on. That has to be Anay.

Some key points:

  1. Focus on Anay’s wholesome growth – brilliants, maths, aptitude, logic, sports.
  2. Focus on building a network of friends.
  3. Focus on writing. Discipline of writing.
  4. Do things irrespective of money.

12/27/2020

Dear Diary,
In-laws are visiting today. I don’t remember the last time they stayed overnight. It’s been really a long time. 
It’s Day-3 of my decision. I was having second thoughts about quitting work. I was a strong woman. I liked that powerful woman. The outside. But I don’t like the woman I had become inside. So, I do know it was time to move on. And hence the decision is right. I could not stretch it any further.
I did think if I should try and get another job. Maybe start applying. But I think it’s an opportunity I should take. Of a break. Of soul searching. Of finding out what my life would be if I’m not working. Not just imagine or be scared or have my apprehensions. But find out, for real.
So, for now, I’m sticking to it.
Had a long discussion with Papaji about Rampal Ji. I’m inclined to follow him. Mostly because of the dreamy life he promises. 

I asked him a question – ‘What was different between when you were following the earlier Guru vs Him. What difference did you feel in your own life?’

He said something like ‘I was following but I never found peace/happiness/sukh. Life was still full of troubles and dukh.’

And this clicked.

I don’t like the way my FIL pushes. He keeps on and on about it. But if I found something as magical, perhaps I would be harping about it to my kids all the time too. So, I kind-a get him.
I’m scared but I want to try following him. Seeing if it brings me the miracles and happiness promised. Freedom from the troubles of the mind. 
What I want ? Everything! Success, Fame, Health, Peace, Salvation. All. 😁

12/28/20

Dear Diary,

Such a major decision, such a random happening. And yet, nothing ever looked this right. Pretty much nothing coming from anyone to make me doubt. The more I talk, the more I think, I find this to be the right time and the right decision for me.
I talked to HR today. He tried to convince me that I shouldn’t quit but take sometime off. The only thing he could convince me of, was that I should not give up on myself. Perhaps it is the time to redefine myself. My Identity. My new life.
I talked to mother-in-law as well. She’s simple minded. She didn’t have a lot of reflection on what the decision would mean to us, for me. But she could tell me about her life, her journey and her tribulations. I think that helped.
I’m heavily considering taking Rampal route. I understand that it won’t be easy and I might not see miracles like I dream of. But it shall bring me peace of mind. Real happiness maybe. 
What do you think?
– Love, Hope

12/30/2020

Dear Diary,
It’s still morning time. About 12 noon. I’ve realized I can’t do this (<job>) anymore. Even if I wanted to continue, I cannot.

 It all seems pointless. The work I’m doing, the learning it requires. I do not want to continue it. There are small bits and pieces I like – like people I felt a connection with. Or the places I got to travel. Or the moments that made me feel like an accomplished woman. 

But I’ve understood it’s all fake. I’ve understood I would need to accept them as beautiful memories of my journey and move on. 

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can see it’s an end of a life I’ve known so far. I don’t know what future will offer. Whether this path is path to nirvana and happiness or path to a further gutter of darkness. With life, even when you think you’ve seen your worst most bottom, life shows you there’s another layer down that you could go. So, I don’t know if I’ve hit rock bottom or another one is coming with this decision of mine.

I know this. There’s no way back. And this is the only way forward. 

Dear God, please be merciful and kind to me.

Dear Diary,

It’s still morning time. About 12 noon. I’ve realised I can’t do this anymore. Even if I wanted to continue, I cannot.

It all seems pointless. The work I’m doing, the learning it requires. I do not want to continue it. There are small bits and pieces I like – like people I felt a connection with. Or the places I got to travel. Or the moments that made me feel like an accomplished woman.

But I’ve understood it’s all fake. I’ve understood I would need to accept them as beautiful memories of my journey and move on.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can see it’s an end of a life I’ve known so far. I don’t know what future will offer. Whether this path is path to nirvana and happiness or path to a further gutter of darkness. With life, even when you think you’ve seen your worst most bottom, life shows you there’s another layer down that you could go. So, I don’t know if I’ve hit rock bottom or another one is coming with this decision of mine.

I know this. There’s no way back. And this is the only way forward.

Dear God, please be merciful and kind to me.

The gym instructor

Dear Diary,

Yesterday my old gym instructor called me.

It’s been close to 10 months since he left the physiotherapy center where we met, he still tries to contact.

He left in October’2019. He called me once at about 8:00 PM sometime in Nov/Dec. I was having dinner with family. I took the call from our dining table. It was a general conversation. Him asking about my health, about my workout. Asking to stay connected. Perhaps a 5-8 minute conversation.

I never called.

Then, sometime around April’20 I started getting whatsapp forwards. Good morning messages. In 4 days, I blocked the number.

I never tried to explain. Or contact.

He called yesterday again. Talking about health. About my workout. Work-from-home. I told him I blocked whatsapp because my husband is not comfortable and feels insecure. He nudged me to unblock. I gave a firm no. He again asked to stay in touch.

It was a 6-minute call.

I reiterated the conversation to my husband. I told him how I used husband’s name as a shield and tried to get away from the stalker.

My husband was upset. That I used the word ‘insecure’. He’s upset that I receive calls from such people.

I politely asked my husband – ‘What should be my course of action? How would you like me to handle such situations? If a man tries to contact me , should I outright be blunt and tell him to not call? You tell me.’

After some uncomfortable moments of silence and mumbling, he says – ‘I don’t know if this happens to other women as well, or is it just you who giggles and keeps contact with random strange men’.

What do you think I should fix?

#Love-thyself

We have often heard multiple adages telling you to fall in love with yourself before you seek love from outside. No truer words have ever been spoken. And, nothing more cryptic has ever been said either.

The problem with adages is they tell you this is what you need to do, but no one tells you ‘how’. They tell you what goal you should have and need to achieve but there’s no step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Well, I decided to love myself. I needed to. My constant need of seeking approval from outside was hurting me – both professionally and personally. The more you depend on outside, more susceptible you are to going wrong. You end up making decisions which are dependent on people you’re surrounded by. The people may or may not be qualified, or completely aware of the complete problem.

Hence, bad decisions. Implying stooping low self-confidence.

I knew I wanted to fall in love with myself but I didn’t know how. My mind constantly threw accusations at me – things I didn’t do, bad habits I needed to quit, reminding me of all places where I failed. I was tired and broken.

During lockdown, as I got disconnected from the outer world, and hence the places from where I seeked approval or from where I took inputs for making my decision – that loop broke. Now, I had no choice but to listen to my own self and make my own decisions.

And boy, did that help. In all my life, I’ve not been more at peace. While I found peace, I still didn’t love myself.

So, what did I do? I started doing things I always wanted to do –

  1. Do simple new things:
    • Cooking for my son. Taking care of my house – Lockdown forced all of us to do it. But this activity took off a major guilt from my shoulders.
    • Started doing pooja every day – I wouldn’t say I felt guilty of not lighting a diya every day but it was something that did make me feel misplaced. Whenever I was in trouble, I would go and pray but also felt guilty of praying only when needed. So, I started doing this daily. For first few days, I would be praying at odd hours, waking up after laying in bed because I suddenly remembered I forgot lighting diya today. Later the routine got set.
    • Started my yoga classes again – Working on my body is so difficult for me and yet it brings me so much satisfaction if I do it regularly. Adding it to my routine is toughest and once added, doing it daily is easiest. I found that sticking to a routine is something I can do. Forming a routine is what is tough, especially if it’s a good habit.
  2. Finish what you started – I had bought an embroidery DIY kit. I completed that. I picked the books I had bought and started completing them. I used to feel so guilty of buying books but not reading them.
  3. Disconnecting from my phone: As work load from home and office increased, I found myself disconnecting from phone as well. When you have so many things to do, you don’t have the time to waste time. Also, on days when I spent a lot of time on phone, I found I got bored of looking at it – because there isn’t much to do. There isn’t much happening either way.
  4. Pick a goal which is world-accepted: Enrolled for the course I always planned to do – It was so spur of the moment. It was so fateful. It was so sudden. I’m not sure if it was the right decision or not. But, having a bucket list and ticking off the bucket list is a major boost to your self-respect.

Effectively, what I found is that I’m working on things I respect. I’m trying to do things that I respect in other people that I look upto. I’m trying to refrain from doing things that I feel guilty about or loath in myself.

I might not have fallen in love with myself so much that I could say – ‘Main apni sabse favorite hoon’ but I definitely feel better about myself.

And it helps in re-surfacing in those low times.

Of life’s puzzles

Dear Anay,

There will be multiple times when you’ll be facing a puzzle in life. A question, a mystery, a problem – that seems unsolvable to you. You would be wondering how do I fix this!? How do I get rid of it? How do I get over it?

Often times, when you think hard, and you really care, you do find a solution to the problem. Most times, you do.

Then, there are times when things don’t add up. You feel like ‘why me? and how to fix it?’. You keep looking but it doesn’t help. If the answer doesn’t come naturally to you, despite enough looking and mulling – let it be.

Yes, just let it be. There must be a piece of the puzzle that is yet to come to you. Life opens questions and life answers them. But, it happens in due course. So, you must be patient. The solution may come in a week, or it may take years. You will really have to be patient.

But trust me, it shall all add up on ‘why you’. And, you’ll be surprised and glad because when it comes, it would seem worth the wait.

But, if the problem seems like a repeating pattern – like failed relationships, failed jobs, failed friendships, failed attempts – then you must step away and reflect on yourself.

These are actually lessons. Lessons that Life wants us to learn. And we cannot move forward unless we learn it! But we are so stuck on our values, our beliefs, our desires, or our preconceived notions that we refuse to see it. Or learn. And, hence, the experience keeps repeating itself in one form or another. We wonder why it happens to us despite our best efforts, but we don’t realize that we’re looking at it the wrong way. Instead of looking outside, we must look inside and change what we are doing.

And, last but not the least, enjoy the journey while you solve these. Because Life is nothing but heaps of jigsaw puzzles that you shall keep solving. Once the grand picture is complete, your reason for existence shall be over too. So, don’t look at problems as the hardships of life but actually the reason for your existence. Like a challenge. And, just like in a game, you never receive a challenge unless you’ve proven yourself worthy of that level. So, if life has brought you to a tough challenge, then remember that you must have proven yourself worthy. And, you’re destined to overcome it.

And, if you fail, just in case you fail – don’t worry! Life gives you ample opportunities to stand up and retry.

You see, life or God never gives up on you. You just make sure that you don’t give up on yourself.

Love,

Mom

Of listening

Dear Diary,

I was reading the book ‘Men without women’ by Harumi Murakami. The story was ‘Yesterday’. What a book! What a collection of stories. Without the cats and dogs and extreme imaginative which are typical of Murakami’s books, I’m enjoying this a whole lot better.

Well, the post is not about the book or the story but a thought that struck me while reading it.

In most of my friendships, through my life, I’ve openly talked and shared. I’ve shared the highs and lows of my life. I’ve always felt necessary to share because that’s how I know you make friends. That’s the reason you make friends.

Thing I missed was I didn’t hear the same story from the other side. I realised I never let the other person talk. I knew I was talkative. I have always been social so I thought people enjoyed my company. I also knew I’m not a very keen listener.

But I never pieced things together. And I feel embarrassed.. and a little sad that I never knew them fully enough.

This lockdown brought me the quiet and the solitude I needed to enjoy and appreciate the silence. I don’t feel the need to talk all the time, or talk to anyone at all. That has automatically reduced a lot of the clutter that filled my mind.

I would like to listen more now. I would like to be in a company of a friend where even if I or (s)he isn’t talking then that’s fine too. And I’ll like to enjoy that silent companionship.

And, I would like the friend to be myself. To myself.

Let’s see how that goes.

I’ll try and spend a few minutes, each day, of silence, with no thoughts or words and just trying to enjoy my own company. Perhaps, a silent conversation on how the day has been!

-The FireFly

What is Love?

I have fallen in and out of love many times. And yet, as much as I try to define, box, or understand Love, I fail to do so.

Great men have said, umpteen times, Love is the thing that shall win over the world. Gandhi, J K Rowling, Tagore and God knows how many have established, that in this world of chaos, materialism, hatred, apartheid and prejudices, it is Love that shall give you the direction you need.

Well, some ridiculed it too. Shakespeare portrayed it as a disease that causes your peril, makes you do foolish things, and hence, must be stayed away from. (Did I misunderstand Shakespeare and his Romeo-and-Juliet saga?)

Hence, I hereby declare – I fail to understand Love.

Is it the emotion I share with my husband? Where commitment is the strongest emotion.

Is it the emotion I feel for men, at times? Where passion is the strongest emotion.

Is it the emotion I feel for people I lost? Where longing and nostalgia are the strongest emotion.

Is it the emotion I felt through my first kiss? Where hormones and giddiness were the strongest emotion.

Is it the emotion I feel for my son or my Dad? Where sacrifice or unconditional is the strongest emotion.

Which of these emotions/definitions is supposed to guide me in life to make decisions? Because at all times, on any occasion, there’s only any one of them. And none of them lasts more than a few hours. How do you make decisions of a lifetime based on an emotion that you know has a lifetime of a bubble? When you have experiences, where decisions made out of ‘love’ have proven to be mistakes.

And, what is that elusive Love? The Love that I kept dreaming about all my growing up years. The Love the cinema, the world sells so hard. The Love that was supposed to be ‘forever’. The Love that was supposed to be an answer to all my life’s hardships and problems? The Love that was supposed to be the answer to the deep questions of life?

Perhaps, as the statement says – It is a gimmick sold too hard by the materialistic world. What God created was just another emotion; which was supposed to be a bubble – enjoy while it lasts. And not to place too much value upon in real life.

If that’s true, then that’s a disappointment. A disappointment of a lifetime.

Of destruction

Dear Diary,

My thoughts are destructive today. I want to break, mutilate, destroy. Basically, vent out the destructive energy which is building up inside me. The lockdown, the work, no breaks. Even the breaks are not helping. There is just too much to do. I am tired of being the responsible one.

At this time, when anyone asks for anything more, I flare. I feel like bursting. And usually you don’t vent out on outsiders, you put that out on your family members. I don’t do that and the volcano keeps building up inside me. Consuming me, eroding me, eating me, mutilating me.

I want to run away. Run away from this perfect life. Run away from all the formalities. Run away from all the responsibilities. Run away from all fake and show.

Why don’t I?

Because of the child.

I don’t want to do that to him. Leave him without a mother figure. No matter how bad the Mother is, it is an important place that should not be left empty for any child in this world. Even if I’m as demented as ever, physically or mentally, I fill that space for him and that’s required.

Will it be okay if I die? Like suicide? Will he be able to adapt to that? Perhaps he will. But it’s nonetheless the same.

Will it be any different than my running away and leaving him? Yes. Hell lot. One leaves depression, other leaves a scar. Depression and sadness fills with time. Scars like these don’t heal so soon.

I don’t know what’s worst – a mad mother you deal with all your life, or a dead one.

Mind’s ramblings

1. Have you ever had this feeling, like you’re looking into a deadly snake, real up close! You know it’s going to kill you the moment you flinch, but you stay there- enraptured. You should be scared, your mind should be thinking of ideas to escape, survive, save yourself, but you’re transfixed. You can do nothing but watch.

2. Have you ever been obsessed? With a thought, with an idea, with a disease, with a question, or with a person? Almost like a demon/ghost possessed you and no matter what you think, believe, want to do, it takes over and does what it wants to do. Almost like you don’t have control over your actions. You cannot control your mind to stop thinking. You cannot control your body from reacting. You can only hide, lock yourself up before you do something stupid. Because you know you will.

3. If answer to above is yes, how long were you obsessed? How did you get rid of it? Did it do irreparable damages?

4. How do you overcome irreparable damages?

5. How do you let go of the temptation of something that you can never have?

Of spite

People never change. Their inside traits never change. They may learn to behave and show differently, but inside, no one changes. If you are a polite person, caring person, helping person in life, you remain one forever. If you are a spiteful person, negative person, you remain one forever.

With life, and with its experiences, you get hurt from what you are internally, but does that change you? I don’t know.

My constant urge to stay a positive person costs me dearly. I encounter spiteful people. I know they are full of hatred. I know people with deceit. And I’m supposed to remain the same giving, caring, care-free person as I was previously. Despite knowing their intentions.

I talked to an old Manager today. We parted ways bitterly. There wasn’t much said, at least I didn’t. But, he made it amply clear that he didn’t take it well. Knowing him, I know he cared a lot. He cared and made all efforts to make it work. So did I. But it didn;t work out. Times change, priorities change, work changes. You cannot stop a person’s moving on. Change is inevitable. And if you do not understand that and still despise a person then it is your problem.

I tried not to keep a grudge. I know he is spiteful so he keeps it. He badmouths me, amply. Still we need to work together, some times. I have made more than enough efforts to help, despite his bad-mouthing. Despite knowing that he’ll never support/help/praise me. And yet, when we talked today, he was still spiteful. He was suspicious of my inputs, my support.

I felt hurt.

And that’s my problem. Why do I still allow that person to affect me? Till when will I keep reacting this same way? Don’t I know that he will never see any good here. No matter how much I do he will always believe that I did nothing. Or, that I wasn’t helpful.

I know this is not going to go down well. He will try to cry foul. He will try to escalate this matter as non-helping. So I understand what I have to do. At least, professionally.

And, personally, I must not allow his bitterness get to me. I must not pass that bitterness to others. His bitterness brings out mistrust in me. It brings out the part which wants to hurt and burn all the people in this world. Not give out any freebies. But, I must not change.

I must not allow him to get to me. I must remember the truth. I must remember my side of the story and not let him fill his side of the story into my mind.

Just because people cry foul, or cry loud, or keep repeating their point, it tends to become the world-known truth. But, you must remember your truth. To forgive is not to Forget. And forget you must not. None of them. None of it.

लॉक डाउन

जब दुनिया से समय मिला तो अपनी दुनिया को जाना

जब दुनिया को चुप किया तो सुना अपने अंदर का गाना।

कितना कुछ था जो मेरे सामने था, पर दिखता नहीं था

और जो नजरें देखती थी, सब था कितना बेमाना।

कहने को मालूम था कौन अपना कौन पराया ,

पर अपनों को छोड़ सदा गैरों पर समय गंवाया।

दुनिया जहान की फिक्र की, पर अपनों को ना जाना।

जिन चीजों से परेशान थी, जिन चीजों में वक्त बीतता था , उसमें कुछ भी नहीं था जरूरी ,

पर लॉकडाउन ने दिखाया जरूरी पर समय लगाना।

मैं सोचती थी दुनिया ऐसी होती तो कितना अच्छा होता, पुराने ज़माने होते तो कितना अच्छा होता,

धरती माँ ने दिखाया , सब जो चाहिए , वो है आज भी तुम्हारे पास।

ज़्यादा की नहीं, कुछ कम करने की ज़रूरत है आज।

इंसान कितना भी बदल जाए, हमेशा है धरती माँ का अंश

देगी मौका फिर, करो अब ये विध्वंस बंद।

क्या है तुम में हिम्मत ? बदलने की – खुद को? अपने जीवन को?

कर पाओगे नामुमकिन को मुमकिन?

ये अब धरती माँ को है कर के दिखाना!

A Revelation

Dear Diary,

I have a feeling. The feeling that the times of transformation have started. For this Earth. Corona is just the beginning and the times ahead are going to be harder.

While we, the human race, will adapt and survive, the people in it, the ones who survive will go through living hell.

I see lot of people dying suddenly. The reason for deaths are varied. I don’t think they are always or confirmed related to corona. And that’s not the point. The feeling is – the people who are going are all people you could feel were kind souls. You don’t always need to meet people, or know them in person, to know they were kind or good souls. You could feel the aura. From their pictures. It is like they escaped the harsh destiny the living must face.

Brahmakumari’s Dadi Janki, Ankur Sir from FB, Irrfan Khan – these are some of the most recent ones to have passed away. It wasn’t their time to go.

The world is non-expiring. It’ll always exist. But to survive in this world, and live through this horrifying times, is the burden of your past lives that you shall now have to live with. Near ones dying, unexpected changes in lives as we knew, more frequent and sudden changes in our surroundings – the ones who live, would need to live through all of that. The ones who pass away, are the ones who were lucky. Or, perhaps, less vice.

Do you believe in Hell/Heaven? Do you think it happens after we die?

My understanding says the hell and heaven is all here. The heaven that you get post your death, is the luck you have in your next life. And the hell you are supposed to live through, the fire that burns you, all that is the hardships you suffer during your next life.

Your current life’s deeds decide your next life’s picture. Whether the next life is going to look like a living hell, or like a beautiful rosy heaven, is decided by your life’s actions today.

I also used to have a question that I think got answered: If all that happens in our life is pre-destined, then why don’t we consider the sins/mistakes as pre-destined too? The birthplace, financial status, the person we marry, the child who’s born, these all play a major role in our woes and worries. In whether our lives in this materialistic world look like heaven or hell. Have you never wondered why the poor seem to get the worst of it all? As if God doesn’t save them. So, what we are born with is part of the game plan.

But if that’s true, and my sins are pre-decided then, how am I responsible for defining my future, my next-life? Don’t they say – ‘Vinaash kaale vipareet buddhi’. (It’s an ancient Sanskrit shloka that means when the times are bad, your mind stops working and you do the opposite of what your sane mind usually does).

Well, I think the answer is- Yes, the sins you commit are pre-destined. To atone for the time you must live in hell. If one lifetime is not sufficient, then the next one.

But you do have a choice.

  1. If you find yourself facing a path that conflicts with your conscience, with your humanity, that is the sign that you are headed to the wrong path. Try to avoid it.
  2. If you find you are unable to avoid it, or that you did not realize and committed a sin – rather than loathing yourself, feeling guilty about it, work on atonement.
  3. You cannot undo the wrong you did, but you can try to do the right thing. Do more and more of your good deeds.
  4. Selfless deeds are the best deeds. Do as much as you can for the needy. Do not differentiate people on your personal likes/dislikes. If you see an opportunity where you can aid others, help others, although it doesn’t benefit you in any way, take that as an opportunity. Opportunity to add to your good-deeds bucket.

And that brings me to another revelation: If the sins you committed were too big to complete in one lifetime, then you must live through multiple lifetimes and suffer through it all, till all of it gets covered. This might be defining the number of lives you live through. And that’s what it means to work for Moksha. Work as much as you can to fill up your good deeds to escape the lives you live. Because as many lives mean as many times you would sin. As many times you would be presented with cross-roads, of deciding to sin or to not sin. Remember, there are some which were genuine mistakes and you feel deeply sad about them. But some which were actually a choice. The ones which were accident were pre-destined. The ones which you chose, are the ones Kama throws your way. And you faltered. You just added a new sin to your sin-bucket. This didn’t come from your past lives. You created a fresh one.

Detach yourself from the worldly ways and live a life of austerity. Look inside. Grow from inside. All you need is inside you.

Remember that.

The FireFly

Feeling full of light

Dear Diary,

I’m feeling a sense of contentment and peace. This time away from life, life that I knew as normal, has been a blessing in disguise.

Before corona hit us, I was exhausted. With the issues I was struggling with, with the direction my life was taking. I was doing everything in my might, in all facets of my life, and yet I was falling short. At work, at my home, to myself.

I was telling my husband to go somewhere. Let’s take a holiday and go somewhere. Take a break. But he was busy. I had crazy deadlines at work too so taking leave would leave me in a bigger mess than I already was. So, I was stretched thin but couldn’t do anything to escape.

Corporate has a way of stressing us and changing us into people we didn’t want to become. Especially Management. I don’t know if I was doing it wrong but there were tasks I was supposed to do, but they didn’t sit well with the human aspect of me. You may argue that you don’t need to think so much. Or, that it’s all professional and everyone takes it that way. But, for me, it’s like being the Executioner.

When I’m assigned to do something as simple as like giving someone a negative feedback – you know, 90% of the times these are people who are trying their best and falling short. And being a Manager working closely with them on a daily basis, I know that. I know they’re honestly trying their level best. Then who am I to judge? I’m not best at everything. It took me thousand of hours of hard work to learn it all. Then why do the people at top expect them to do it faster/better. It’s humanly wrong to my eyes and my mind.

There are companies who force Managers to chuck out bottom 10% of their workforce. The poor performers. I thank heavens that I haven’t been put to that test yet. But if asked, I won’t be able to do it. Even if someone deserves it, in my rational mind, I still won’t do it. Because to take away someone’s livelihood is wrong. I can’t explain it. I know. I try to tell myself – ‘Either you can do the job, or you step down and let someone more capable do it’. This is dharma assigned to me. But I cannot look at it that way.

This article, explaining an Executioner’s predicament, I can relate to it. I understand what it means to be at conflict in your heart.

http://www.ncadp.org/blog/entry/what-its-like-to-be-the-person-who-puts-prisoners-to-death

And with these thoughts and conflicts, I was distraught. And I did not know what was eating my heart away.

This time away from people, at home, only focussing on work and nothing else, has brought me time to sieve out the facts of my emotions. I’ve been able to see how much people were impacting me. They were draining me.

I feel healed. Able to go back to my original self and humanity. And guess what? I’m still doing all I’m supposed to do at work. The technical work. It’s the most productive time I’ve seen. All the team working, me able to give them full attention while talking to them, and yet I have time to do my own work too.

It’s like Nature is showing us a way to live an alternate life that’s not as fake as we had made it to. And which allows us to live a better quality of life.

– The FireFly

Of #MeToo

Dear Diary,

I never quite favored the MeToo movement. Or at least of what the urban women made of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the women spoke out against their perpetrators. Even if it took them so many years to be able to do so. I’m happy that it brought courage to so many other women to speak out. To feel that if someone else got justice, they perhaps could too. It brought a sense of togetherness in women across the world – that we are together and we will support you if you find yourself alone in the battle. That is unlike the history of womankind where women have been the biggest critiques to fellow women – whether as Mothers-in-Law, or Peers, or even Sisters at times. We have been our biggest enemies.

What I did not like was how it focused only on the culprits. The people it brought to light were those who had actually committed crimes. What about the others? The subtle ones? The ones who perhaps did not commit the crime were equally a part of all this?

So many women used the opportunity to vent out on FB about their first time of being groped/molested/raped/misbehaved. I did not.

I did not because as a woman of 35 years, I see that person as a victim himself. Victim of the society.

I was perhaps 7-8 years of age when it happened. He was probably 6. Yes, he was younger than me. He ran in the park, tried to grope me down there, and ran away. Then, I didn’t know what he was trying to do, what he was trying to find. It took me many many more years to learn, there was something down there, to find. But even at that tender age of 7, I knew I was inappropriately touched.

When I look back at the episode, I ponder. How did that child know so much about female anatomy, at that age? How did that child know he’s supposed to do that? My son is 9 yrs and he knows about the breasts because they’re visible part of female anatomy. But nothing more.

I think the child probably saw something. Perhaps his father; or elder brothers do that. Or worse, he probably was taught, as a fun masochist thing to do.

This thought is deeply disturbing to me.

When I went back home, I told my father about it. I think I remember anger in his eyes. I hope I saw, at least that. He simply shrugged and told me to ignore it and be careful if I see that child again.

This was society teaching me how to react to such instances of abuse. At the tender age of 7.

There were multiple instances, much more grotesque, which happened later in my life, of eve-teasing, of groping, of misbehavior. But I had learnt my lesson well in childhood – to ignore and be careful.

Was it my Father who did wrong? Do other Men teach differently to their Daughters? Well, the #MeToo and the FB messages tell me, No, I wasn’t the only one being taught to ignore.

When I grew older and a false sense of bravery/hormones took over, I would shout or create commotion if someone tried to misbehave. This was almost always when I was traveling alone for my studies. But if I ended up talking about the episode with the family, like my Mom or brother, he would tell me – why do you have to be the one fighting all the time? Why do you pick fights all the time? With the bus driver, with random strangers?

I understand. They were trying to keep me safe than brave, when they are not around to protect me.

Another lesson taught.

  1. Fighting is not for girls.
  2. Men protect women. So, if you’re alone, don’t go picking fights.

These lessons are WRONG! Not because Men will always be abusive and Women will always be soft creatures because they’re created that way.

No No No.

These are wrong because:

  1. They changed the basic fabric of my being. They defined my limits.
    • I never felt comfortable running in open because I was always worried if someone was looking at my breasts.
    • I never laid down in a park watching the stars, or feeling the soft grass beneath my body, because it was inappropriate for a girl/woman to do so.
    • I was extremely reluctant to learn anything about male anatomy and it took me a long while to get comfortable with my husband, because I had been exposed to it far too early. Thanks to all the open defecation, and leeches brushing behind your backs in overloaded buses.
    • I avoid getting into difficult conversations with Men because I fear they might get violent. My defense mechanism is to escape or leave the conversation till it cools down.
    • And God knows how many more such subtle changes!
  2. They put the power of ‘my’ well-being into someone else’s hands. It makes the Men of my family as my protectors or guards. They are not. They never have been. They never will be. Because that would require them to be with me at all times. Which is technically impossible.

Hence, I prove that these lessons are wrong. And now I re-learn.

Now, I try to unfurl. I try to unlearn these lessons. I try to teach myself to be free of my mind’s cultured limitations. To not belittle or soften myself up for the benefit of the society or the Men around me, or for the elder Women who tell me it’s inappropriate. I weigh the right and wrong in my mind and let the answer come from there, and there alone.

I try to teach the boys and girls in my family, different. To the girls,

  1. I teach them to speak up.
  2. I teach them to be self-dependent.
  3. I teach them to make decisions and to learn to own up to the consequences.
  4. I teach them to make more girl-friends. Be there for fellow women.

I teach my son different too. You know, how?

  1. I don’t take flak from his Father. We argue, we debate and we discuss. Some decisions are his and some are mine. There is no ‘Master’ of the family.
  2. Let the Father do household chores. Not just during lockdown but otherwise too.
  3. Let the Father bring a glass of water for Mom, while Mom reads a book/watches TV/chit-chats with friends.

Sounds very uncomfortable, right? Off-base? Feminist?

Yes, it will sound like that. But change begins at home. And unless the younger ones see equality at home, they will never offer equality to the world.

There are women around me who make fun of me and my husband. All these women are what I call my family. No one from my husband’s family says that!

But I don’t budge.

Because I believe this is the way. This is my bit to the society. To change this corrupted society. This is how we end future ‘MeToo’.

Of Lockdown

Dear Diary,

It’s been a month of lockdown. A month of being completely home-bound. March 22nd, 2020 it started officially but March 18th was when it started for us. We still have to go till May 3rd. And chances are grim that it would open even then.

A lot of reflections and revelations.

  1. The body can handle this much physical work when it used to start aching so soon earlier. It seems we were not using the right muscles.
  2. We can manage house work and office work together.
  3. It isn’t like I’m completely swamped with work. I still have time to do knitting, watch series or watch movies; despite doing all the household work too. That is a major O.
  4. Me and Husband can co-exist and co-operate. We make a nice team. We are still not at each other’s throat. The time together has only brought us closer than apart.
  5. Love and Lust are two separate entities.
  6. I can cook but I can’t do it!

While the initial few weeks were nice and encouraging, I’m losing the zeal to work. I want to go back to my old ways. Old lazy bum. No cooking. Just lying around the whole day. I don’t mind cooking but waking up and sleeping every day and night with the thought that ‘cook, what to cook, am I late, people are hungry’, it’s distressing. Husband is supporting as much as possible. He chips in whenever required. Cooks whatever minimum he can. Even tries to experiment and tries to do well. So, its edible. But it’s not like we can switch. We did try to switch for a few days. I guess, for 4 days to be precise. I took up the cleaning and he took over the cooking. By the end of the day, we both would be exhausted beyond measures. My shoulders were ready to pop out. I found I might detest cooking but I’m incapable of doing mopping. My body hurt so much due to the mopping that I had to apply painkillers. He had a similar response to cooking.

Hence, we found that we both have limitations; on what we can and we can’t do. Thankfully, it wasn’t a common thing that we could not do. So, we are complimentary that ways.

7. But the most important revelation, that I must document, is the spiritual one – About ‘Why Moksha?’

I used to have a question earlier: about spirituality, our purpose in life: Why do we need to work towards Moksha? Why is it bad to be in this world, to enjoy the luxury, the pleasures of this world? To enjoy the pleasures of the senses.. Isn’t it part of God’s creation? Why can’t we enjoy the creation. Why must we use the Human birth to pursue Moksha.

And this is what I found during lockdown: As we keep enjoying the worldly pleasures, the way Kama works is it keeps engrossing you further and further. You lose the line between pleasure and necessity. And then a time comes that we’re so much a slave to those needs that we are ready to sin to get those. We know we’re doing wrong, but we can no longer survive without the need/sensual pleasure/luxury. And hence, we’re ready to toe the line.

Think of your life before lockdown. There were so many things that you ‘needed’. You were buying every week and yet, you were missing something or the other from your list.

Now, it’s been a month of lockdown. You have only been able to buy essentials. There are things you definitely need but with no stores open, you must make-do with whatever limited you have. You can innovate and re-purpose what you already have at home but you must live within your means.

And, this way, the lockdown has been a forced disconnection from Kama. And living austere. And realizing how limited you actually need.

And if you look back, you will find, that you have been quite content, in this past one month. All the dark thoughts, the stress, the temptations you used to be struggling with on a daily basis; is no longer there. Or at least has muted a great deal. This isn’t something that only I observed. It is something I found a lot of my friends to have realized too.

Relatives, people I used to run away from, I’m trying to make contact and talk to them more frequently. I’m taking initiative to be in touch. I don’t know what changed to bring this change. Maybe because I know it is limited. Maybe because I know they need it too. It’s important to stay in touch for everybody’s well being. Or, maybe because now there’s limited people I have to interact with so I’ve more space and time to give to them.

The more we stay in isolation, the more time we have for ‘spending with ourselves’ and it has healed me. My mind has stopped rambling.

Can you believe, Dear Diary?

My mind has stopped rambling.

It happened almost like a switch. As if one fine evening, the switch closed and the mind became a friend, from a foe. The keyword was ‘Love Thyself’.

My major takeaway from all this: Live frugal. Keep your needs minimum. Love yourself. Value what you have. And, you shall find Peace.

Love to all!

-The FireFly

My Bengali journey

Dear Diary,

I’ve been slowly stepping towards Bengali. You would remember (because you’re the only one who listens carefully and never forgets!), it has been on MyListOf30 for long. I want to learn Bangla so that I can read the rich literature it offers. I also want to visit Bengal during DurgaPujo time.

But, I never started working on any of these wishes of mine.

My destiny started pushing me towards it, perhaps a few years ago, when I started following ‘Dithi‘. She’s a painter. Beautiful artwork. Her ode to Maa and Bengal through her work is gorgeous.

Then, few years later, as I got on Instagram and started following random people aka strangers , that’s when the flood began.

@sixyardsomeone, @parama_g, @thebohobaalika, @themonnerism

In the past 6 months of so, without actively seeking, I now follow a host of Bengali women. Did I follow them because they’re Bengali? Hell, no! It just happened. I could relate somehow, to them, despite that there’s no bengali blood in me. No fish-connect either 😀

Most of the women I’m following are about sarees or painting. But it’s not just about the sarees or art. It’s like feeling comfortable and taking pride in your roots. These women are about making traditional ‘in’. They do such a beautiful blend of ethnicity with western/modernity. And don’t let their beautiful exterior fool you. If you ever try to get close, they ignore/shrug you off easily. I have tried to get close and been shrugged off too. I don’t mind, though. Because I would have done the same if a stranger approached me, woman or not! 😉

All of them write beautifully. Poetry, thoughts, art, house decor, anything!

Of Hibiscus flowers. Home-cooked food. Colorful walls. Books.

All about simple, earthy things. It drums my heartstrings. It calls to my Indian soul. I feel beautiful, inside and out, while going through their stories/pictures/words.

Bengali women personify ‘strong’ to me. Sharp features. Big, striking, kohl-filled eyes. Saree-clad. Comfortable with their curvaceous bodies. Confident in their persona. In their demeanor. In all that they are.

I think that’s what I relate to. That’s what I aspire to be. That’s what I want the world to think when they look at me.

Now, my every morning starts with their Insta stories, their pictures, their day-to-day thoughts. They have become sisters whom I’ve never met. Perhaps never will. Or, maybe I will, someday.

With so much Bengali culture coming to me, every morning, it’s hard to put a stop at other mediums. So, I watched Anurag Basu’s ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore’ on Netflix. I loved the interpretation. I don’t think I ever understood ‘Pather Panchali’ ever before. We have all heard/watched various Hindi/English interpretations of Tagore’s stories but I think I could relate/understand only Basu’s interpretation.

I particularly liked the story ‘Atithi’ which is based on Tagore’s story ‘The Guest’. It has a song – ‘Sujan Majhi re’. Beautiful. I searched it on youtube and that led me to other Bengali songs.

I’m addicted to this one. It has the English translation which helps you appreciate the lyrics lot more:


I’m now watching Satyajit Ray’s ‘Ghare Bhaire’. Another masterpiece. If you haven’t watched any of Ray’s movies, I strongly urge you to watch one. This is my first of his movie.

Even when you don’t understand the language, and the actors, the non-verbal communication, watching the bygone era and the director’s such modernized viewpoint on it, all those years ago. I’m not well-versed with the terms of cinematography but I know the movie would top the charts. It’s marvelous.

Life and its mysterious ways of bringing what you want, to you!

I went to Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati recently. It wasn’t on my itinerary. It happened.

I’ve started to wear my sarees more often. Big bindi, bangles.

I feel like Maa is allowing me a way back to her, this way. I’m finding the Devi part of my soul. The strength, the beauty, the power of a woman.

Sometimes, things happen in your life. You didn’t do anything for them to happen. Sometimes, you didn’t even want them to happen because that’s not part of your game-plan. Life is good without it too. But, when change comes, rather than struggling with it, or overthinking it, let it happen.

Life has so many shades and each is worth appreciating. You never know, which one you get to see in this lifetime. It might start with discomfort, or even pain. But what’s the point of living without actually living each moment, each up-and-down. Don’t let life slip by. Because it’s all about the journey, and not the end that matters.

Peace!

My covid diaries

Dear Diary,

It’s been a week of full-solid lockdown at home. The country might have declared it yesterday but we’ve been isolated in our house since last Wednesday. And the whole of March for my son.

No office, no physio visits, no markets. My husband steps out to get whatever essentials are required.

How’s it going?

  1. I was craving for some time off and it was getting difficult to get out (even without corona, our lives have become very busy and complicated). This came at the most opportune moment.
  2. I had always believed that being an extrovert I would go mad, and probably lash out at my family members, if I were forced to stay home. Through this corona situation, all of us have no option but to stay home. And, it has been a revelation. I’ve not just been fine, I’ve found myself much more at peace. Peace – something I had been struggling to find in past few months and wasn’t able to.
  3. I found that most of my mind’s tribulations came from outside – people’s reactions. People’s responses/non-responses, verbal/non-verbal behavior. Mostly I guess due to the urge to please everybody, I get very anxious if people are upset or do not agree with me. And hence, I get unsettled very easily. I now realize that that’s my folly. I need to be ok with people upset or not-okay with me. They can go ahead and hate me, dislike me. And, I’ll not tag them as enemy, or opponents, or haters.
  4. I also found that my productivity at work improved being home. My team is mostly young engineers so they could walk into my office at any time. I believed I’m giving them an open culture. But, what it meant was, I had no moment of peace and quiet. Now, with me home, they work on their own, ping me/call me only when they are completely stalled. This also means that I’m able to ignore that ping or tell them to call them later, or set up a meeting so it’s off my mind. And I can focus on what I was doing. And, I’m able to fully focus on them when I’m talking to them. Unbelievable! All of this should have been default, but it wasn’t. And practically it’s impossible to execute.
  5. I had always wanted to include cooking for my son. But being lazy/having maids at my disposal, I was never pushed to it. Now with no maids, all of us are working on everything, and I’m trying all the experiments I wanted to do (e.g. cooking a smaller chapati but adding more stuffing so his count doesn’t go up but he does eat :D)
  6. I wanted to teach him, get more involved with his studies. It wasn’t coming in a routine. Now there is so much time. Enough to play, work, read, and study. We’re learning mental maths.

It’s like mind was full of junk and suddenly it is able to focus on things that needed sorting. And life is coming in order.

Someone mentioned on FB about ‘ambiverts’. And I found an amazing article on Forbes explaining how to find out if you’re one. And, I found I perhaps am. I gain happiness from meeting people and talking to them, but I equally need my own time, my space, my quiet. Maybe I’m not an extrovert after all. Taking that tag off me, seems like I’m taking off a load of expectations off me. The expectation of keeping up a conversation if the other person is not participating. Expectation of reaching out to people and resolving conflicts. Expectation of being the lively happy person all the time. I also can be the silent one. I also can be dull. I also can sulk. In public.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up with this hectic routine and handling all the household work. For now, it feels okay, good at times. I hope we’re able to sustain the 21-days (which husband says may take the whole of April). Mornings are hard. Busy work-days are hard too. Today was fine.

I’ll keep you posted.

Love

Hope (I decided to drop this pseudonym. Will find a new one. Until then, ciao! stay safe)

Of positive parenting

Dear Diary,

I’ve often written, and have always been critical of the strict parenting I received during my childhood. I never thought I was abused but there was a lot of pressure. My story was shared by lot of other friends around me. Breed who had overzealous parents wanting their children to do well. The parents had seen a harsh life trying to make ends meet in a city like Delhi. With no backup financial support from their parents (our grandparents), they had to build everything from ground. Their realities were harsh and all they could do to make sure their kids didn’t face that harshness was to make the kids financially capable. Hence, they put their mind, heart and money into the kids and their career.

It’s not their fault. It wasn’t ours either. But the world thus shaped our childhood.

And, I find that shaping a lot in how I parent my child. I do not push him for his studies. I do not try to put time limits to his play time. Not a day passes without my telling him how fortunate I am to have him. I do realize that I am perhaps being casual and it might impact how much he achieves in his life. I cannot escape the fact that the world still runs on money and he will need to be financially capable.

He’s 8, soon to be 9.

I am allowing myself this time to let the love seep-in into him. When the world around tries to tell him daily on his shortcomings or his failures or the high standards he must achieve, let him remember, he was enough. Let this time be etched in his memory that for someone he was the best. And he will always have this safe place to go to.

I don’t know if this is the right way of rearing a child or not. I’m just a witness to his life, playing my part of a facilitator, to the best of my capabilities. And I’ll try harder. But I’ll try not to push my insecurities, ambitions, harsh experiences on his childhood. And I’ll try harder.

-Hope

Of approvals

Dear Diary,

I woke up this morning to two posts – a guiding WhatsApp message and a video by BK Shivani, something I get every morning. Both talked about the same thing. ‘The need for approvals’. How we suffer in our lives because of being needy. Need of something from outside of us. When we depend our happiness on something/someone outside of us, suffering is inevitable.

I strongly believe in omens and God. The omens are like breadcrumbs that God throws at me when I’m struggling with a problem in life. It’s a message or direction in which I’m being guided to consider, in my thought process.

The video and the message were exactly what I needed. I am needy of approvals – of my looks.

Having grown most part of my childhood and teenage years as a dark girl, I started getting attention only after about the age of 25. And the culture we have, where a girl isn’t enough unless she’s beautiful, I was subject to a lot of bias, ridicule, remarks, and rejection even from immediate family. I had adjusted myself to the scorns. They didn’t impact me anymore. I could handle them.

The change was what I wasn’t prepared for!

It was a new world and a whole new feeling! Even after all these years, I can’t get enough. It’s exhilarating. And, it can bring a smile to my face on any bad day. No matter what kind or how bad a problem I’m in.

The same family members who never appreciated my achievements now show me off to their friends, relatives etc. They are ‘loving’ me. They compare themselves to me now. I’ve somehow become the benchmark. And think of it, my life’s achievements are not because of my looks. They are what they always were.

That’s the kind of world we live in. A person is judged and must live with consequences, of their life’s realities, that they have no control over. Whether it’s beauty, religion or place of birth.

Anyhow, the post is not about the past. It’s about the present. And the need of approvals that I have. And how I must get over that need if I want to have any amount of happiness or satisfaction in my life.

They say, a problem accepted is half the battle won. So, let’s hope that now when I’ve understood the problem, I’m able to work to eradicate it from my being.

Much Love!

Hope