Solitude of Social Distancing

Due to the prevailing norms of social distancing, people are suffering from isolation anxiety and fear of solitude. In this context, following extracts from Pablo Neruda’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech are enlightening:

“There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song — but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny…

Our original guiding stars are struggle and hope. But there is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope. In every human being are combined the most distant epochs, passivity, mistakes, sufferings, the pressing urgencies of our own time, the pace of history.”

sunset-1207326_1280

Friends, Not Lovers !

Relatively speaking, all relationships except love and friendship are governed by legal, social, religious, economic or political sanctions.  Friendship and love have no written or unwritten contract (lawyers are too expensive). However, friendship flows naturally (despite unnatural tendencies in some), whereas love has compulsions (of unmentionable benefits). Let’s juxtapose these relationships:

In a love relationship, we love, sacrifice and give (do we have any options), but we also consciously or unconsciously presume, demand and take for granted (our birth-rights). In love, we care and cuddle (hoping quid pro quo), but at times we are mean and jealous (genetic predispositions), and subtly or not so subtly pressurise and control (natural instincts). Friends do not compare, compete or complain, nor do they expect, exasperate or exacerbate (who will let them without a contract).

A lover can leave one and take two, but you don’t discard a friend in favour of another. Either one is a friend, or one is not. In love the joining date may be blurred on the postcard from the past, but the termination letter is clearly and neatly dated. Friendship is neither by appointment nor is there any expiry printed on it. Oscar Wilde is succinct “Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer”.

I can indulge with friends five or fifty, but can’t eat, drink or dance with lovers two or twenty without having my skull split open on all sides. Can you imagine back-slapping bonhomie among your past, present and future lovers? As Nietzsche said “Love is blind. Friendship closes its eyes”. If I may philosophise further: falling in love blindly is an eye opener, and friendship is an open and shut case.

As friends we are at our unhindered best… nice, naked and naughty…perfect partners in peccadilloes. With friends we can let our hair down yet keep the chins up. Borrowing from Robert Bloch, friendship is like pee in the pants; everyone can see it, but only we can feel the warm tingling sensation inside.

Yes, friends are sometimes pain- in- the- ass, but never hemorrhoids.

I will take my lover (yours too if you like) as my friend anytime, but not vice versa.

(This is written in good humour and not to belittle any relationship)

Still !

Still I am…

And distill my stillness still,

Some substance and residue plenty to fill…

Yet, in stillness how I distill;

                    Here, there, wherever…

                    I wonder, I wander everywhere,

                    Neither satiated nor had my kill…

                    Yet I am so still;

Fleeting  memories fill times bygone…

Fluttering thoughts find future untold,

Aloft near or beyond the distant hill…

Asunder, yet so close, It’s love or fear you instill ?

                    Stoic and neurotic, heroic and meek…

                    I am resilient, I am weak,

                    What couldn’t be, was not to be…

                    In the remnant you, what do I seek ?

Still I am…

And distill my stillness still,

Some substance and residue plenty to fill…

Yet, in stillness how I distill !

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.

children-1879907_1920

 

WHEN FATHER DEPARTS !

Dreams and memories of father waft into my nights like puffy clouds… sobbing memories, crying dreams… descending in hordes. Memories which keep me awake; Dreams pulsating and alive; Emotions overwhelming n choking. Memories of his infectious laughter, his magical touch and that naughty twinkle in his eyes… memories which beckon, dreams which whisper… tiny tendrils of tender thoughts… maudlin eyes tired of crying at times, but remembrance always wet…

With age he mellowed and sparkled like a fine vintage wine, yet father was a child. Innocent in his maturity and playful in his seriousness, he kept the child within around too. Father was full of life and gave so much of himself and his love. He didn’t preach goodness, but showed it in his methods n manners. Fond of small little pleasures, and with impeccable taste for finer things, he was neither greedy nor a hoarder, nor was he casual in his words, approach and life-style.

Father gave his best and looked for the best in others. He stood tall but never made one feel small. He appreciated all that is good and beautiful and left the world a little better. So very humane, father was among a few good men, a rare breed. He lived and died on his own terms… with dignity and grace, and in his own inimitable style! I grieve that he is no more, but am thankful that he was.

My unspoken bonding with father was such that there was little to be said between two of us. His silence was eloquent, eyes spoke volumes, and his smile or a raised eyebrow conveyed it all. Feelings ran deep and our understanding grew without trying. I wish I had held his hand more often and little longer; I wish I had hugged him whenever and wherever and for no reason; I wish I had sat by his side silently watching the sunset, sun or no sun; I wish I had stolen more of his mornings, afternoons and evenings; I wish I had drunk and devoured more of him… oh, how I wish!

Father went away, but will always be with me. He lives in my laughter and cries, in my joys and sorrows, in my sky and universe, in my days and nights. He lives in my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings. He lives in my breaths, my memories and my moments. I bask in the warmth of his love, I shine in his reflected glory.

After he departed, people thus console and counsel: life goes on as it keeps flowing like a river. But as Heraclitus said, no man enters the same river again…for it is not the same river and he is no longer the same man.

Sri HCS Photograph

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.

IMG_20200126_100657

Life Abbreviated !

Brevity is the soul of wit, but reduced to abbreviations aren’t we at our wits’ end?

Bitter or sweeter….communications are shorter n smaller. As they swarm all facets of our life, abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms confuse, confound and control, but there is no escape.

As men appropriate by playing GOLF (Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden), undaunted ladies have moved from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).

In SOML (Story Of My Life), I am never IRL (Me In Real Life). As I DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome) coz am 2H2H (Too Hot To Handle), LMK (Let Me Know) DAE (Does Anyone Else?)

Today none is CBGAILY (Caught Between Goodbye And I love You), and in the nano-second relationships it takes no time to traverse from  KMYF (Kiss Me You Fool) to BFK (Big Fat Kiss) to H&K (Hugs & Kisses) to KMA (Kiss My A..).

We are pinned to PINs, swindled at ATMs, and promise of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) doesn’t give what we see. CAA, NRC and NRP: Some insist AOA (All Of Above) and some shout NOTA (None Of The Above).

I am not JK (Just Kidding) when electronic mirth flows infinitely with LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and we are ROFL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing) and I end up LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off).

Rarely F2F (Face to Face), we are at our laconic best with HMU (Hit Me Up). BTW (By The Way), TIC (Tongue in Cheek) some say ASL (Age, Sex, Location) do not matter for YOLO (You Only Live Once), and so what if you are MIA (Missing in Action).

But not so long ago, the only beauties in mass circulation (whether AM or PM) were OK (which never was), RSVP (which no one followed) and PTO (which none did)    : )

P.S. Though politically incorrect, I suffer from RSS (Reverse Snobbery Syndrome) and now I put FUTAB (Feet Up n Take A Break).

Abbreviations

Guilty are those who impose Guilt !

For hiding their own guilt or guilty-conscience, some people perpetually impose guilt on others…in ways subtle or crude. They swing like pendulum from being extremely aggressive to wearing sorrow on their sleeves. They resort to emotional blackmail, portray themselves as pathetic losers, and sport underdog’s hangdog expression. Else they shout and sulk; throw threats, taunts and tantrums; issue ultimatums, lock themselves, become incommunicado, inflict injuries and abuses on themselves, and leave home food untouched (but hog secretly).

They play victim to victimize. Those who impose guilt are the ones who are guilty. Let’s not be guilty of feeling guilty due to someone else’s guilt.

Guilty Sulking