When Good is Bad.

We can face the world, but it is difficult to face ourselves. Solitude compels us to look within. It brings us face to face with our ugly self; and forces us to vividly recall the injuries we have inflicted upon many including our close ones, and our unfairness in many a relationships born out of  selfishness, presumption, ego and  arrogance. Our soul knows us well, we can’t lie to it.

Selfishness invents justifications; integrity, empathy, and understanding do not need crutches of justification.

And within us, there is a kind of selfishness which lurks and masquerades as selflessness. Even while thinking for the good of our children, spouse, parents…we think from our angle…we look at their well-being through the prism of our own pleasure, our joy…not from the lens of their space, their feelings. If I am being kind, I do not realize that perhaps I am being unkind. If I am truthful, I don’t realize that truth also hurts. When I am trying to be righteous and upright in correcting others, it doesn’t occur to me that being so very correct is sometimes incorrect. We want to see the image of their happiness in our mirror, and the picture is always blurred. Many a times we try to be good for the selfish reason of feeling good, but is it really doing any good?

We forget the individual identities; that the fist is one, but fingers, though joined together at the base, are still separate; that at the very basic level, persons, persona, personalities and perceptions are all different.

Due to misplaced love and kindness, we grown-ups unconsciously tend to control…be it our adult children or our elderly parents. We try to decide what is good for them, and we preach and specify the ‘dos and don’ts’. Whereas our ‘for their own good’ instructions to children alienate them; the ‘kindly limits’ we set around our parents sometimes compromise their dignity, trample upon their feelings and sense of independence, and end up manipulating them.

Should we be so helpful to our grown-up children and our elders that they look helpless and feel hopeless? But we put them either in nappies or on pedestals. Needed or not, we constantly provide crutches.

We try to control (even if unconsciously and benevolently) because we have the arrogance to assume that we know better. Ceding this control sets everyone free, and there is nothing more beautiful than the sense of freedom.

Lifelong we don’t cease to parent children, and we parent our parents too. Grown-ups want to make their own decisions, at least some of those decisions. No one likes being coerced into a situation or an act. We need to be sensitive to their sense of shame and embarrassment arising out of unwanted dependence. What is needed is understanding and empathy, not control or sympathy. We are sensitive to what we want for them, but not to what they want for themselves.  

By doing away with parents’ responsibilities in totality (in order to give them so called ‘peace of mind’), we also snatch away their involvement and authority…be it personal, financial or pertaining to the family…making them redundant. There is nothing worse than being consigned to irrelevance.

So, let them be….so they can be themselves…in their space…with their identity and their perspective.

And let’s ask, not assume. For, there is no absolute in life. There is right and there is wrong, and in between are the doors of perception. And perceptions differ.

Photo Credit: Old Couple: wonsung.jang; 4 persons: Dimitri Houtteman (unsplash.com)

“Eternally She Lives, Forever She Dies.”

“Gujaarish” (meaning ‘Request’) is an Indian movie masterpiece starring Ash and Rithik, and the cigarette smoking scene in the speeding car vividly paints the agonies and ecstasies of their relationship. I have tried to capture these contours and “breaking free moments” in my poem: 

“Eternally She Lives, Forever She Dies.”

-Intimately, she lit a cigarette between my lips…

Tendering tiny tendrils of life, never yet lived,

Passionately, over precious puffs she lingered…

Her parched soul too, by life, lusted to be kissed.

-With yearning eyes, primal passions she ignited…

With tempting touch, forbidden fantasies she lighted,

Her scent so intoxicating, languorous life I inhaled…

Her silence so seductive, infernal inhibitions I exhaled.

-Wind in the hair and longings in the heart…

Desire daredevil, euphoric like a prancing dart,

Luring labyrinth mysterious! Whispering wishes run amok…

donning dancing hooves, waltz like wanton wants. 

-Snatching lifetime, for an instant from time’s grip…

Extracting every ounce, its sweet nectar insatiably we sip,

Intoxicating love, nuanced yet intense…

Scorch our spirits, souls, sanity and sense.

-Tentalizing touch of her fingertips to cigarette my quivering lips…

Stir memories of our tempestuous times and trials under veils,

Soon to fade away with the drifting smoke…

 Poignant reminder of life unfulfilled, a cruel joke.

-I was destined to be wasted, and she by design…

She gave me all of her, and much more to align,

Transient time tethered, stood still for some time…

Sanguine souls fused forever, but bereft bodies pine.

-What is she to me: a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend ?

Undefined relationship, ensconced in feelings unexplained,

Agonizing and exhilarating, is our unspoken bond…

Unfathomable! It’s much more…above, deep and beyond.

-I was Sisyphus! Struggling to claim what was not to be…

Now I surrender, for life chose not to be in me,

She insane in her fight, I triumphant in my defeat…

In this tragedy, there was nothing to win and none to beat.

-My life is her liberation, and death my freedom…

Right or wrong, in the twilight of finality who can fathom,

As I say goodbye, my death she wants to defy…

But death is the ugly truth, life but a beautiful lie.

-Life lifeless we lived, yet clinging to the magnificent moment…

My existence is her life, our parting her torment,

In death’s shadow, imprisoned and intertwined are our lives…

Within me, eternally she lives! With me, forever she dies!

 

Disclaimer: I am not aware whether I am violating any copyright by posting these pics. I have no intention of piracy and have posted these pics only to make my poem come alive. I am prepared to remove these pics if the copyright owners (if any) so wish. Thanks

GOOD FROM THE EVIL!

CORONA VIRUS: A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

The fear of corona virus has slowed life resulting in forced idleness of various degrees. Not only work is affected, we can’t even pack off to a holiday destination. While we practice hygiene to ward off the dreaded virus, the unexpected leisure is the virus-sent opportunity to think and act, to teach and to learn.

Nothing is more important than helping children become better and responsible citizens. Of course, top priority now is teaching them cleanliness and protecting themselves from getting infected. But let us also give them our time to inculcate values, and to develop positive attitude, hobbies and habits.

We can utilize this time to nurture in our children values such as kindness, empathy, tolerance and respect for others and their views. This will build their character. Let’s tell them the importance of reading to widen their horizons and to deepen their understanding of life and times so as to develop a positive attitude and world-view, and to think deeper, broader and universal. Let’s present before them the pleasure to be derived from creative hobbies such as painting, writing, and other arts which help them to explore and to imagine, to delve within and to dive without. Let’s expose children to household chores and dignity of labour, and make them respect workers, maids, drivers, cooks and others.

Let’s show them by example value of money and savings, of considered spending and intelligent choices; to teach them basics of money matters such as writing expenses and keeping those within budget. Let’s convince them to avoid wastage of every resource- money, food, water, electricity, and to reuse, recycle and repair, and to be kind and considerate towards the environment. Children imbibe and emulate what they see. The mindless spectacle of stream of parcels delivered daily at home by Amazon and others makes their impressionable minds to think that  there is endless supply of easy money.

We must teach them by example that what matters is not materialism but goodness, knowledge, intelligence and being humane.

If we can give these life lessons to our children, I believe we would have given them the ultimate gift. The corollary benefit is that while teaching our children, we too will learn to be better human beings.

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The seductive art of conversation…where have we lost it ?

Where have we lost those thought provoking, soul satisfying conversations…which delight our hearts,  soar our moods and illuminate our minds…..those rewarding conversations from which we come out with a deep sense of satisfaction, feeling all is well with the world ?

Many a times, do we not indulge in the inane and the mundane, the banal and the vapid….making us literally die of ennui ? Do we not end up talking about people and issues…shallow n superficial…. leaving us with feelings of waste and emptiness ?

Why have we forgotten what a treat it is to savour the scintillating conversations laced with stimulating ideas, how captivating is brilliant repartee, how delightful is the needle sharp wit, how charming is the subtle n nuanced humour ?

The exciting give and take, the enthusiastic sharing, the amalgam and the synthesis of divergent yet non-judgmental views, the meeting of intelligent minds, leave us enriched, enlightened, enthralled….and provide fodder for thought, reflection and contemplation.

Connoisseurs will agree that a great conversation is a rare vintage wine….sparkling, heady,  intoxicating….drowning our senses in its effervescence and exuberance , enlivening us with sheer pleasure, and giving us a heavenly high.

CHEERS !!!

BOOKS WHICH SCORCH THE SOUL AND WARM THE COCKLES OF HEART!

Some books compel us to search within and look beyond….. writings which have sprung from deep, uncommon understanding of life and exceptional sensitiveness to human emotions.

These books uplift us and deepen our belief in undying human spirit and its innate goodness…books which have painted life’s unblemished glory and its ugly underbelly, leaving an indelible impact on our world-view and thoughts about humanity, life and existence.

Books which speak of relationships enduring and gone sour….love and betrayal….trust and treachery…. bonds built and friendships forgotten. Books which take us on a journey of commitment and compromise, hope and despair, and triumph and tragedy.

These are the stories of lust, loneliness and longings; of naked needs, dogged desires and primitive yearnings; of dreams shut and shattered. These are the tales of agony and ecstasy, dignity and depravity, passions, perversions and perfidy.

Books which are the poignant tales of the moment to moment uncertainty of survival and struggle to stay alive; of life wasted, lost and regained; of now or never dilemmas; of simplicity of being, complexity of relationships, and difficulty of existence.

These are writings of epic proportions describing human entrapment, its helplessness to accept life on its own terms, and hopelessness to sink its soul and sell its sovereignty.

These are the sagas of sangfroid and sagacity, of righteousness, of character and decency.

Some such books which have moved me are:

  • Roots (Alex Haley)
  • The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
  • The Good Earth (Pearl S Buck)
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips (James Hilton)
  • To Kill A Mocking Bird (Harper Lee)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  • Educated (Tara Westover)
  • Of Mice & Men (Steinbeck)
  • Beloved (Toni Morrison)

         (not in order of preference)

There are quite a few, but these immediately spring to mind.

Such books give us a sense of the whole much more complete…which satiate yet leave us wanting ….and after reading these the heart is light and aroma of goodness lingers.

Please do share your list of such books.

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