We became close buddies for such a beautiful reason.
It turned to love which never changed like the seasons.
We ran into each other while travelling in solitude.
Narrating sad stories and admiring each other’s attitude.
You will be my best friend and my love forever and ever.
I am sure you are immortal and you will be mine forever.
Many have I met, many have I bid goodbye,
They promised to live forever, but it was always a lie.
I trust you my love, I know you always care,
Even during a storm, I know you’re always there.
You merge my blues with the blues of your sky,
And cheer me from heaven when you see me cry.
You have ever since been the superstar of my life,
Brightening my day; changing my dark shadows to light.
I have always enjoyed your warmth and your care.
Your possessiveness I admire, to lose you I wouldn’t dare
But today you punished me and I felt so depressed
You know I have to see you, else I can’t rest
I have got used to looking up at you for everything in my life,
I really missed you today, where did you go? Why did you hide?
I should have met you in my terrace and kept up my word,
I am sorry for being careless, just give me a chance to atone.
How punctual you are, even after traveling across the world!
You reach before me and wait patiently in your abode.
Excuse me, dear Sun, I shall never make you wait.
When you come from the west, I shall see you near the gate
We shall wink and stare at each other playing a game as we do
I know I always lose, yet I love losing the game when it’s against you.
How many times have you heard people say or how many times have you lamented, ‘Damn… I feel so lonely’, I have nobody, no one wants to be my friend, Why am I always alone?’
Many times right? I am not an exception. On one such gloomy evening, when I looked up at the setting sun with its orange blaze and the bronze glow, I felt some kind of similarity with the sinking star.
The Sun is always alone in the sky. Is his brightness great because he is alone? Is he happy to remain alone in the sky with no one to shine with? The moon and the stars are so lucky. They share each others’ company. Doesn’t the Sun need anyone’s company?
Next time, when we lament about loneliness, we should think of this mighty star. The entire day he is alone, all by himself and waits on us and makes our life bright. He gives us everything we need. He doesn’t take anything from us. How selfless!! Why can’t we enjoy the friendship of this darling Sun? Isn’t he immortal? He will never leave us. He will not quit you for another friend. He will live at least as long as you and I live.
All that he expects from us is , we have to simply look up to him. If you have the time to gaze at the sky, you will realize the sun plays hide and seek with us saying, “Find me now.. Peekaboo”. He shows his anger on us making us sweat or sometimes he is also considerate by lowering his heat.
Loneliness is a feeling we create. It doesn’t actually exist. If you are determined to ward off loneliness even the sun, the moon and the stars will give you good company. Next time you feel despondent and hopeless, close your eyes, wipe your tears, look at the sky and cherish the golden glow of this mighty Star. He will show you that at the end of every dark tunnel you will find the bright promising light just as we find the light of the rising Sun at the end of even the darkest night.
The sun reminds us that whatever problem you have in life, they aren’t permanent. They will surely set and then rest in peace. All that you have to do is sleep the night and rise again to start a fresh day all over again.
The only direction Shabnam loved to see was, towards the floor. Never did she raise her head to see who was in front of her or how many people were around her. She was indifferent to any curious sight or any blaring noise. All that mattered was her destination, which was the door of her small book shop. Her bookshop was exclusively for children below 17 years. She loathed to see people of her age and avoided any customer who was even in the first year of college.
She would raise her head only after she steps in the shop and get the first smell of the books, which she adored more than anybody and valued more than her life. She loved reading books but she failed to absorb the essence from a few. Shabnam always felt she was ugly. Society had injected that thought into her mind. Hence she loved the beast in The Beauty and the Beast and sympathized with the ugly duckling. She despised Cinderella and mocked Narcissus (the nymph who died, while admiring his own reflection in the pool).
Shabnam was the epitome of the word INTROVERT. She had no friends; no one whom she could confide in or no one to fight with too!! The only people with whom she communicated was her mother. She did not speak even with her only sister Mehekh. Mehekh was 2 years younger than Shabnam. She turned a deaf ear and a blind eye even to the adorable calls of the small kids of her neighbourhood. They kept pulling her long skirt as she walked by their lane. They wanted to play with her and see their Shabnam dhidhi smile again.
Shabnam was a very lively girl, full of cheer and smiles till she heard the talks of the elders when her father passed away. “Poonam has a great responsibility in life. She has to earn for the daughters till they stand on their own legs”, said one of the concerned aunts. “Getting Mehekh married isn’t going to be a problem at all. I wonder who will agree to marry Shabnam. How could God be so partial? He blessed Poonam with an angel but after cursing her with an “ugly duckling”, said the other nosey relative who didn’t notice Shabnam approaching with a plate full of fruits for the foul mouthed relatives. This comment shattered Shabnam to pieces.
That was the last time anyone saw Shabnam’s face or her eyes. She preferred to be her shadow’s best friend. A shadow never discriminates. Even if you are fair as the snow or dark as the coal, the shadow shows you the same image. She loved her shadow and befriended it from then on. She developed an inferiority complex with everyone and avoided any one of her age. Small kids were cute and so she avoided them too. She completed her schooling but did not go to college fearing the nightmarish stares and talks of her college mates. Instead she preferred distance education with a renowned university and agreed to take care of her father’s book shop, ShabnamBookstore, which was named after her.
One day a middle aged woman entered the shop. Shabnam said she didn’t have books for adults and avoided looking at the lady’s face. The person said, “Owner ji I don’t want books. I am a transgender. Don’t be scared of me. My presence is considered lucky ji. Give me some money and I shall bless you with happiness.” Shabnam did not react much but asked, “How do you feel you are a sign of luck? Did anyone tell you that? Actually you don’t even look….” Shabnam stopped. She knew she was surpassing her limits and handed over a 20 rupee note to the person. “I am sorry… uh.. How do people call you? I mean what is your name?” The immediate reply was “Lucky, my mom named me Lucky. It suited my gender and it feels good when people say Lucky is here. Lucky has come. It makes me feel good.”
Shabnam looked at Lucky’s face with more interest and found something familiar. There was a thin layer of sorrow in those eyes but a smile on those lips. Lucky actually looked good. Lucky became a frequent visitor to the shop. Shabnam and Lucky became good friends. Lucky spent her time trying to understand Shabnam’s life. Lucky felt sad that Shabnam was ruining her life lamenting over a silly talk of worthless people. To Lucky, the society of loose tongues was a worthless bauble. Lucky decided to change Shabnam’s lifestyle. Lucky was waiting for a chance. It was to be made very clear to Shabnam that happiness should never be dependent on external beauty and appearance. The true beauty lies within a person. Lucky knew that…
One day, Lucky got Shabnam a string of jasmine flowers and placed it on Shabnam’s hair. She said, “Flowers add beauty to a girl’s face.” Shabnam was hesitant but accepted it from her friend’s hands. She went home and stood in front of the mirror with those flowers on her hair. She had stood in front of the mirror after 3 long years. She looked and looked. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She thought, “Oh yes, the jasmine flowers do make me look good.” She decided to wear them the next day and check for the reaction in the eyes of the people.
The next morning, she plaited her long hair, wore her routine clothes and remembered to wear the flowers on her hair. She was all excited. She went to her mom and got her blessings, as if she had an exam to pass. Her mom was perplexed. She called after her, “Hey Shabnam…” , but Shabnam ran away to meet Lucky. On the way she waved a Hi! to a little girl who happily greeted her back and pulled Shabnam’s skirt to play. Shabnam agreed and played hopscotch with her. The girl complimented her that she looked very beautiful and asked her if there was anything special. Shabnam blushed and hopped her way. After one game she left the place and greeted Mehekh. Mehekh was elated to see her sister smile and shouted, “Dhidhi .. you look very beautiful today.” Shabnam could feel the warmth in her cheeks and for the first time she forgot to see her best friend; her shadow.
She reached the shop and greeted the kids waiting for her. They were surprised with this sudden change and thanked the Lord. They wanted Shabnam to be this way always. Lucky came near the shop and silently observed the glow in Shabnam’s face. Lucky sneaked in and blindfolded her with the hands. Shabnam recognized Lucky with the smell of the jasmine flowers. She turned and looked at Lucky deep into her eyes and said, “Lucky, you are really lucky. Your mom named you so rightly. You have brought luck in my life. See, I look so beautiful today, because of the flowers you gave. Everyone admired me, played with me and I feel so good.” Shabnam saw a change of reaction in Lucky’s face. “What happened Lucky? Did I say something wrong?”,asked Shabnam.
Lucky said, “Shabnam there are no flowers on your head. Did you remember to keep them in the morning?” Shabnam was shell shocked. She touched her hair, searched her long plaited hair, the floor and outside the shop. The string of jasmine flowers that had made her beautiful was lost. She felt like Cinderella who turned into an ordinary maiden at the final stroke of the midnight hour. She landed with a thud on the chair beside her.
Just then the little girl with whom she had played hopscotch came running to her and handed over the flowers. “Dhidhi, Maaji gave this. You dropped it in the morning. It seems Maaji called you but you ran away. She asked me to give this to you.” Lucky observed everything silently and broke the silence with a tight hug.
“Shabnam, do you understand at least now. You have always been beautiful. There was no need for anything to give you that beauty. The flowers did not make you beautiful; the belief that ‘Yes, I am beautiful’, made you smile. This smile radiated all the beauty which you had hidden for so many years. All these years you were a slave to your own negative thoughts. You are not an ugly duckling anymore. You kept looking at the dark shadow and failed to see the reflection of the beautiful swan that you have actually transformed into. It was the positive thought that liberated you and made you see your own beauty. You gave yourself a chance to smile and that brought the best change”
Shabnam could not control her emotions. She was happy and felt so lucky to have Lucky as her friend. From that day Shabnam never looked down at her shadow; instead she enjoyed the happiness on the faces of everyone around her and admired their Beautiful Inside.
Happiness can never be found in external objects. It is present right within you. Remember one fact, you will never find diamonds scattered on the surface, you have to take a deeper look and mine your way with patience.
She opened her eyes slowly. The night lamp glowed right in front of her eyes. For a second the light stung her eyes, causing them to water. She did not recognize the place. She was petrified. She searched around for a familiar face. She searched for Karan. The only questions which kept repeating in her mind were, ‘Where am I? What happened to me? Why am I here?’ She tried getting up from the bed. It was then that she felt the gripping pain in her lower abdomen and for the first time in 6 hours she let out a moan. Her hands weren’t free. They were connected to a blood transfusion device and a saline bottle. She could hear the muffled sound of the ECG device which reminded her that she was alive. But…
Finally, she yelled, ‘Karan… Karan… where are you? Hey.. what happened to me?’ Karan rushed with a brown cover carrying medicines. His eyes were swollen. ‘Had he cried? But why? God.. What was this place?’, her mind was in total unrest and chaos.
Karan emptied his hands, sanitised them and ran them delicately over Kareena’s soft brown curls. ‘Hey Senorita, I am here. You are safe. See I have come here. I shall be sitting here near you and go nowhere. Sleep dear. Please dont strain. Close your eyes. See, even the doctor is here to help you. As he spoke, she felt a pressure building through her left vein. She was given Tramadol. She swooned in a few minutes.
It took 3 weeks for Karan to get Kareena out of her room, which was all set for their baby, who was expected in the decorated crib; in 4 months. The accident had not only killed the 5 month baby, it had seized Kareena’s ability to bear a baby anymore. Kareena was depressed and had decided that there was no reason for her to live. Karan did all that he could to cheer his wife, though he could also feel the pangs of their loss. He had reconciled to his fate and discovered happiness in keeping Kareena cheerful but all his efforts were in vain.
One day, Kareena heard the neighbour’s dog whining. She got up and reluctantly walked up to the window and peered through the curtains of her windows. She saw the mamma Labrador Sheena, suckled by her 2 golden puppies. The previous day 2 girls had adopted 2 brown puppies. She got irritated and drew the screen. After an hour, the whining stopped abruptly. Her curious mind led her again to the window just to see Sheena lying on her mat, her eyes welled with tears. The puppies were sold. Kareena could empathize with Sheena and could not stop herself from taking Sheena on her lap. She felt they shared the same ill fate of enjoying just a temporary motherhood. Kareena fondled her baby through her womb, spoke to it and now she was empty handed.
The next day, Kareena was terrified when she saw Sheena lying flat on her stomach and beating her tail vigorously. She dropped the bowl of milk and ran towards Sheena but stopped with surprise to see another pup near Sheena. It was not a Labrador. It was a mongrel pup, almost the age of Sheena’s own pups. Sheena fondled the pup as her own and guarded it from the other stray dogs. Sheena loved the pup like her own! This sight was an answer to Kareena’s own question to Karan.
“How do you expect me to love a baby which is not from my womb? How can someone else’s child love me as much as my own child? I have lost everything. I wanted to be a mother and God has taken it away from me. I always loved children but God has decided otherwise. Leave me alone Karan I can’t think of anything”, saying so Kareena folded her knees up to her chest and coiled in her bed like a baby in the womb. That was the only position in which she could feel secured amidst all the forms of insecurity. She doubted if her husband would love her like before. Will she miss his care? Will he leave her alone and search for a better partner who would give him the happiness of being a father?
The pressure was too much to even recall. Tears rolled down her cheeks when she saw an answer to her doubts. A mother can be a mother to anyone’s child. If Sheena could love another pup like her own, why can’t she love another baby as her’s? She discussed the idea with Karan who was so excited and emotional even before she could complete her sentence. He got up from his chair and cupped her tear stained pink cheeks in his warm tender palms and kissed her forehead for almost half a minute. They wept tears of joy. He wiped her tears off her face and told her, ‘This should be the last time I see you cry.’ The thought of being parents again lit up their darkened life.
Karan felt extremely grateful towards Sheena as he had failed in all the ways and methods he had tried to cheer Kareena. He had bought her expensive gifts, taken her to her favourite restaurants and her favourite beaches; yet no happiness could be felt by her as her mind was immersed in the quicksand of sorrow. She was being pulled inch by inch. In fact she let herself be pulled into deep sorrow so that one fine day she could drown forever.
The adoption formalities started right away. With Kareena’s medical records and Karan’s financial status, adopting was a cake walk. Only single parents are denied of adoption. Karan ran to the neighborhood and hugged Sheena. Sheena was only too happy to see her playmate. She kept wagging her tail showing her sweet, cute smile which could erase unhappiness from anyone’s life. Karan felt so grateful that he promised to adopt a baby girl and name her Sheena. The happy couple adopted a baby girl who was 6months old with tender pink cheeks, rosy lips, dark black eyes and scanty straight hair.
Thanks to Sheena, Kareena realised that it was not compulsory to own something in order to love it. You can always love anyone as your own. You can always adopt a life as your own. Mother Teresa loved everyone as her own. She was a mother to all. That is pure love. Every living creature has the ability to love. Love has no unit of measurement. You don’t have scales to measure nor instruments to filter love. Age, religion and biological gene patterns are the barriers created by human beings. Love requires kindness, humanity and care from a pure heart and a magnanimous mind. Kareena learnt this lesson from Sheena. I hope many more learn from human beings themselves. The world should learn to love everyone as their own.
A seed grows to a beautiful, strong tree or an unnecessary weed, based on how you nurture it. When you shower love and pour care and kindness in measured quantities, you will be amazed to see the child grown up to a strong well built tree who will take you under his shade and shadow to protect you forever and ever.
It is foolishness to adapt to a life filled with sorrow, adopt your source of happiness and have a happier tomorrow.
The word miser is defined as – a person who saves all that he has but never shares. He may keep collecting things throughout his life, but never tries to share anything. He feels he owns them and nobody has a right to use it or own it. The tragic fact is; he would not enjoy the money or riches accumulated by him for his own happiness. He gets pleasure in stocking and hoarding.
Is life worth living when you do not enjoy what you possess? Sharing is a beautiful action which involves so much happiness, blessings, love and care. Anything can be shared in this world. Right from materialistic things to wisdom, happiness and also sorrow. Happiness is one abstract feeling which is so magical. When you share happiness, it doesn’t have to be divided and lost. The more you distribute happiness, the more it will double up in your treasure chest.
How about the air we breathe? Is it something which you can keep as yours forever? It has to be taken in and let out. And if we do not let it out, we cannot survive in this world.
Breathing is a basic involuntary action which is a great reminder for all human beings that what you take from this world has to be given back in the same measure. You cannot stop. If you do, you cease to survive.
What goes around comes around!
The fruits of development, which is enjoyed by all of us has become possible only because of the hard effort put by many great heroes, who were barely recognized in society. We should realise that we have to return the gifts back to the society.
After a particular stage in life i.e. after every student acquires a job and embarks his career, he/ she has to contribute to the progress of the world, which has cradled him and enabled him to spread his/her wings wide.
Along with earning enough money for our own pocket, an element of service should always be a part of our purpose of working in a reputed workplace.
The words of Dr. Arignar Annadurai is worth remembering for a lifetime for any number of generations to come.
“Graduates, may I ask you, how are you going to repay – what is to be your contribution to the social chest on which you have drawn so largely. Unless you replenish it richly, coming generations will find only an empty coffer.”
Along with individual development you should contribute in toning up society, help in solving problems of those people who have experienced only dark days and bring in hope unto the despondent. Unless service is the outcome, the acquired education remains futile.
Social service is not a cake walk. The society will not extend a helping hand but it is our determination, which will enable us to be independent and extend our hands for others to come up in life. In this world which houses self-seekers and tyrants we have to put our best foot forward and serve others without any bias. This is a vital lesson taught to us by the rain.
Have you seen the rain pouring? It does not have a choice of place. It does not choose where to flow and whom to touch. It is not partial. It has no favorites at all. It pours on every person in equal measures. It gives all that it has in equal measures. It shares its water with everyone.
There was one such cloud in Coimbatore who showered the rains of basic necessities, medicines, fuel and also helped in procuring the life giving blood. He was Mr. P Subramanian, the Founder of Shanthi Gears and Shanthi Social Service. The news of his demise remains as silent as his life.
Though he had an industry, in 1996, he started to concentrate on social and philanthropic services full time. He was fondly referred to by those in business circles as the “Gear Man of Coimbatore”. He was not only the Gear man of Coimbatore, he was also the Dear man of Coimbatore.
SSS is a charitable arm that he had founded, which apart from supporting underprivileged students, is into the construction of roads, school buildings etc. The Trust runs a canteen, petrol bunk, crematorium, ambulance and a full-fledged pharmacy selling branded medicines at subsidized rates. Mr. Subramanian’s pursuit to give back to society has been endless. There was no end to his philanthropic services.
Social service need not be publicized. I remember my mother telling me, “When you help someone, see that the left hand doesn’t know that the right hand is helping someone. Charity or service should always be done in silence.”
Mr. Subramanian was a media-shy person and rarely talked about (SSS). Those that have had a peep into SSS canteen, petrol pump, or hospital have been awed by the silent work that he had been rendering to the society without expectation.
It is a myth that service can be done only by rich people. Mr. Subramanian was not born with a silver spoon. He worked his way to get there.
“He would come wearing the uniform, but he had rules that no employee should wish him when he visits or stop working to greet him. He always insisted that he got his picture only twice—for his driving license and then on his wedding day,” recalled Dr. R.Ramasamy, a laparoscopic surgeon who worked with Mr. Subramanian for nearly a decade.
Despite his illustrious work in industry and philanthropy, Mr.Subramanian maintained a low profile. He never wanted SSS to be associated with his face or name and till today the website does not have his name or picture. SSS was clear that it “does not solicit, request or accept any donation”.
He is a role model for everyone of all ages coming from all walks of life. Amongst all the flashy celebrities and haughty and miserly citizens we should also realize that a continuous stream of men and women endowed with the spirit of service have been carrying on the crusade successfully and have conferred rich benefits on humanity.
Service should be like the omnipresent air. Air has no image, it has no form. Though it has no recognition, it is the mightiest in the storm!
Anwar got onto the flight and was warmly welcomed by the beautiful air hostess, trained to be kind and hospitable. His eyes searched for those two very familiar things: 24 and A. He spotted it. It was a window seat. The airhostess interrupted his flow of thoughts saying, “Let me help you to 24A,Sir.” Anwar hesitated for a second and moved to his seat. His journey was not a very tiring one. It was from Varanasi to Kochi and was almost 8 hours(as promised by makemytrip.com) He sat by the window and closed his eyes after informing the airhostess not to disturb him for any reason, except with an intimation of untimely death just in case of a plane crash!
His eyes were heavy and they competed with his heart which carried the loving memories and unforgettable moments of his sojourn at IIT Varanasi. He reminisced, the thrill he had, when he took his first flight to join the well known study hub. He was excited and loaded with colourful, fictional and cinematic dreams. He imagined a campus as described in HalfGirlfriend and a restricted yet daring freedom for students as shown in Mohabbatein. He longed to have a Professor like the Professor in MoneyHeist, who would have a lion’s authority with a fox’s mind. As usual his expectations went unmet.
Today, after 4 long years he yearned to go to his hometown; Thrissur. He didn’t feel an iota of how he felt 4 years ago. A tsunamic incident had devastated the builder in him. He stopped constructing his dreams. The foundation of education was strong but the future which he built seemed fragile. He dozed off. He closed his eyes and opened them only when he felt a pull in his lower abdomen intimating him the safe landing in the Kochi airport.
There was so much to see in the Kochi airport which attracted any tourist and lured him or her to take a photo or two. Kochi airport has indelible stamps of Kerala’s tradition etched at its every corner. Any passenger arriving at T-3 of CIAL will be welcomed by life-size elephants made in fibre. Anwar was blind to this beauty, as his grievous mind had darkened his aesthetic senses. The aircraft taxied its way to the aerobridge. With his luggage Anwar took a taxi to Thrissur. Any normal person would have rushed to his house but he headed to his favourite Chavakkad beach.
He stayed at Devaragam Hotel and slept through the night soon after dinner, as if he hadn’t slept for a week. He woke up before the sun peeped from the horizon. He showed a thumbs up to the sun, wishing the mighty morning star a ‘Good Morning’. He started contemplating and rehearsing his lines a hundred times, which he had prepared the day he realised it was time to inform his parents that his engineering was done. He did not tell them that he had been placed in a company which wasn’t too famous or too generous.
Every semester, he had escaped from an arrear by a hair’s breadth. He had so much fear in his mind. He wanted a great future for his parents, he was tensed if he would be able to earn well enough to save enough money to buy a big house. All through school days he was tensed and kept himself away from all games or fun as he wanted to save credits for joining IIT. He saved the pocket money given by his grandad. He rarely bought anything for himself. It was always saving for the future. His grandad advised him to spend something at least for himself and enjoy the day but Anwar thought his grandad was too old fashioned.
He had saved another surprise for the family. He had to narrate his love story with Aareefa, who was yet another IITian. She was born on the 24th of February, just 1 day after Anwar was born. And that was why A and 24 were so dear to him. She had got well placed. This didn’t hinder their love but Anwar was quite uncertain of their nikkah, as he feared he wasn’t rich enough to manage the future expenses. So, he planned to save enough and then go ahead with the nikkah.
When the sun had eaten his shadow, he grew hungry and tired. He was exhausted due to anxiety and lack of confidence. He found a tender coconut stall and refreshed his soul with the sweet and mildly fizzy natural drink. He had the cream too. He kept staring at the deep sea and walked towards mid sea and felt a sudden inclination to let go. To let go of all his burdens, to let go of all his promises and responsibilities and finally to let go of his life! He closed his eyes and requested the sea, who was his childhood friend to take him away with her, wherever she went. He fell on her lap and closed his eyes. All that he remembered, was closing his eyes and being gently lifted by the waves.
He could feel the way he was tossed and heard the murmurs of fishes and dolphins. One dolphin with a dark pink nose, rubbed its nose on his cheek. He could feel the happiness of the playful dolphin. He tried to open his eyes but the sea whispered in his ear, “Hey Anwar, welcome to your friend’s abode. I am so happy to meet you after so many days.” Anwar replied,” Hello dear, how are you? How is it that you are always happy? From our childhood I have always seen you happily playing near the shores or jumping over stones and sliding from huge heights. Don’t you feel scared about your future? People say you have a threat to your life. Aren’t you planning to do anything?
The sea was silent for a minute and replied, ‘Hey we are best friends, aren’t we?’ Anwar could feel his lips moving; saying, ‘yes’. ‘Then you have to listen to what I have to tell you. We have to travel a long way. Listen to me and sleep peacefully.’ Anwar nodded and in his state of complete trans he felt a tiny fish tickle his ears.
“Anwar, do you think I do not worry at all? I do. I only worry so that no one dies because of me. I don’t want to harm anyone. What is the use of worrying about a long future which is not sure to come? What is the use of running back to the past when I can get nothing from it? Have you noticed the way I flow? I never move backwards. I always move forward. Unless I get furious and tend to reveal my anger with my retrieving and leaping waves. If not I never want to go back to the past nor am I bothered about my future. I always want to live in the present.
Life is not all about thinking about the future and saving for it. Save the present day my friend. Live this day of yours. Enjoytoday. Who knows if you would be alive tomorrow? You kept restraining from fun during your childhood for an IIT. At IIT you kept thinking of a placement and ruined those days in stress. After graduating you are ruining your life, worrying about your future.
When did you live? How much of your life would you call worthy? Did you enjoy any day? Can you label any day as the best day of your life? I can label every day of my life as awesome. I enjoy every move of mine, I jump and play and do what I want to. I do not restrain from my duties too. I spread water everywhere, carry many people, feed many living creatures and remain happy. I do not know when I will be taken away by the sun to reach the clouds. I am not scared, I enjoy my life till that moment I get evaporated.
Be like me Anwar. Stop lamenting. You are like those foolish people who forward a beautiful whatsapp message to all their friends but forget to read that message themselves and enjoy it. Save for the future, share happiness but do it after you enjoy a bit for yourself. Live a life in a way you want. Don’t try anything which is beyond your capability. That is when you give up badly. Don’t waste life storing for the future. Live the present and frame a beautiful future.”
Saying so the waters rushed into his nose in full pace. This choked him badly but he suddenly felt a hand over his chest thumping with force. He spat the water and opened his eyes to see the anxious faces of three fishermen with their catamaran. They rubbed his back making him feel better. Anwar was perplexed. He thought he was dead and had joined the company of his friend. When he turned and looked at the sea, a dolphin jumped high towards the sky. It was the same one with a dark pink nose. This time it tail-walked and plunged into the water.
He sat on the sands and contemplated. He decided to earn a reasonable salary in the company, that had offered him a job and marry Aareefa. He said, ‘Today I shall be happy for sometime and then plan my tomorrow.’ He called his parents and informed them through the phone about his job, about Aareefa and about their nikkah. His parents were very happy for him. They didn’t enquire anything about his salary package too! Anwar realised how foolishly he had decided to end his life just because he became too anxious of his future. Anwar left Chavakaad bidding goodbye to his friend and thanking it for the best moments he had at last found; not on land but underwater!!
We save money, we save natural resources. Sometimes we also save our happiness for others. But one thing which you cannot save is TIME. No bank can help you save it for you with any rate of interest. Time has to be used immediately. Time doesn’t have a past nor a future. One second gone is one second lived. Time lives in the present. Use it wisely, use it happily.
Bang! Bang! Came the sound of two bullets and this time it was followed by the shrill cry of a child. Mr. Winston jumped from his bed and adjusted his satin nightwear. He slid into his flip-flops and rushed to see the chaos. For a decade, it had never been peaceful in Detroit. People had almost got accustomed to the din and cacophony. Sounds of grenades and the 50 cal had deafened many people before. But now it gave them only a mild shiver as one would react to the sound of thunder. Sadly, people had got used to misery.
The wailing was heard from the corner of his building. He rushed to the spot and found a boy, who was well dressed, sitting in a pool of blood, trying to wake his dead mom and dad. They lay dead facing the smoke filled sky, almost one on top of the other. The wailing child was left to cry by the rest who scampered around to save their own lives. No one stopped to help the lad.
On seeing this, Winston could feel his heart stop and his head going numb. He turned totally deaf and blind to the danger around him. His attention was completely focused on the child and its safety. He looked around him and pussyfooted till the corpses and picked the wailing child with trembling hands. He rushed to his building by closing the child’s mouth softly, with his hands. The child realised that the man was not one of those dirty looking beasts who shattered his life. He knew this man was an uncle who had come to save him.
Winston consoled the boy and as he spoke he realized the boy was named Martin and had no siblings. He and his parents had moved to Detroit only a month ago and that day they had come to that street to buy a new toy for Martin. The boy wept till his eyes forced themselves to sleep. Winston could not let the boy on the streets or hand him over to any ‘responsible and trustworthy’ person. He decided to take care of Martin till the riots subsided.
Winston was rich. He was an adventurous businessman, who had learnt to lead a safe life in a vulnerable city. He was a maverick and could never find a soulmate. He was too independent to get along with any woman. He felt a wife would demand his time and attention. Wealth was his sole companion. He wasn’t one of those rich aristocrats who walked the streets like a celebrity. He was a philanthropist yet he could never share his time and life with any woman.
Winston took up the responsibility of Martin, who had been orphaned right in front of his eyes. Life had tormented and tantalised Martin too much. One day when Winston was asleep, he heard a whimpering sound from the adjacent room. He found Martin shivering and sweating in his sleep repeating the words, “I will kill you.” Winston pacified him and spent the entire night by his bedside. Though Winston was kind, the nightmares haunted Martin not letting him enjoy the good life given by Winston.
Winston was worried and decided to rehabilitate Martin. He pondered for almost 3 complete days and decided to adopt Martin and be a responsible father for a helpless boy, if not a good husband to any lady.
He did not wish to administer any kind of medication for his son. He always believed, ‘Nothing can be more effective than pure love‘. You don’t need a counsellor, when you have a loving parent, who showers abundant love and care. Winston was confident that he would be successful in pulling Martin out of the traumatic state.
With a new school and a caring parent, Martin grew up as a lovable lad. He found the same love in his present father. Winston was at peace, but noticed his son’s health a little dissatisfying. Martin looked tensed and lean with stressed nerves. Winston presumed it to be the result of the workload of any normal teenager. Everything went normal till one day Winston noticed something weird. He saw his son drawing a picture of 2 men being shot by a man with a 50 cal. Below the painting the words, ‘I WILLKILLYOU‘ was written in red paint.
Winston felt the same numbness that he experienced on the day he saw Martin’s parents shot to the ground. He realised it was this anger that was eating his son from within. Martin had masked his depressed and angry mind with a pleasant smile. This worried him. It was atrocious and dangerous for a teenager to behold this kind of vendetta. He didn’t want to sit and advise or confront him. Winston wanted Martin to contemplate and introspect his shattered mind. The bitter truth was unless Martin decided to pull himself together, no one would be able to help him. He had to forget the past and let the painful memories melt for good.
Winston went to his son and said,”Martin shall we go out on a holiday. Let us move somewhere far away; far from this maddening crowd where there would be peace. Just you and me. May be a week dear.” Martin was perplexed. “Why to a far off place, why just us? Shall I take my friends?”
Winston smiled and said,”Martin, you are my best friend and my son and my world; around whom my life revolves. Shall we have this holiday just for ourselves? I have been longing for a heart to heart talk with you in a peaceful place. Let’s go this one time.”
Persuading youngsters for a trip with parents isn’t an easy task. Martin took 2 days to agree. And they traveled together with minimal luggage. Winston didn’t choose a resort or a beach. He chose a desert. The Al Qudra desert in Dubai. Winston had a few business partners who made the required arrangements. Martin had no comments. He actually liked the sudden silence. It took almost 2 days for them to settle. The third day started with the camel ride across the desert. Both father and son rode side by side in complete silence. No guns, no vehicles, no human voices nor the sounds of nature. One could hear his heart beating and feel the free air moving in and out of his body. Martin’s eyes welled with tears. He pursed his lips and avoided any kind of eye contact with his father.
Winston noticed a change in Martin’s face and realised that his trip was turning fruitful. After relaxing in the tent made by the trip organiser, Winston broke the silence. “Cry out Martin. Make yourself free from all thoughts. Our hearts are too fragile to hold the burdens of revenge or hatred. Just come out of your past. Let your heart enjoy some silence. You have to stop the angry voices and replace it with sweet thoughts.
Vengeance is dangerous Martin. It will consume us. It is as mighty as this desert. You are just that speck of sand. Don’t lose yourself and your life in conspiring against evil. At Detroit you could not hear the violence of your mind. The external chaos did not let you hear the conspiracy of your heart. But the desert is one of the places where you will listen to your heart and converse with the wind. I brought you here to learn this beautiful lesson.
A desert is a place which teaches you patience. It may seem lifeless but if you listen to the silence you will realize a desert breathes life. It promises safety to those who have hope and promises death to those who try to hurry up and fight against the sand storms.
Be calm. Let go of all the worries. Let your heart and mind work in peace. You are a very good boy. Dont let the external circumstances make you inhuman. Stop burdening your present with your past and start planning for a beautiful future.”
Martin ran out of the tent. He wept out his sorrow, his anger and all his distress. He came back and said to his dad,” Thank you so much Dad. I feel much lighter. I am sorry for being so foolish. If you hadn’t given your time and care I would have been lost in this world like a drop of water in this hot desert. I shall never think of my past and stop recollecting the miserable events. You are my saviour sent by God. Thank you so much Dad. You have really been the oasis in my desert-like life.”
Saying so, they walked for a while to see the setting sun. It was quite significant for Martin, whose revenge had set in the oasis created by Winston.
Revenge is never any problem’s solution. It is deceptive, it is an illusion.
Confide your sorrows with people close to your heart. The happiness you DESERTED will turn to a DESSERT of tarts.
The Panasonic music system with its 2.1 speaker was blaring. Despite the music, one could hear a panting sound. The sound from his lungs and the heat in his face suggested the intensity of anger inside the man, while he was running on the treadmill with a red face, bloodshot eyes and sweat pouring out of his body in irregular spurts. His veins had almost reached the top of his skin while his breath came out like the fire from a dragon’s mouth. There was exhaustion in his face which was accompanied by frustration. The frown on his forehead deceived the momentary false smiles, which he gave to the other members, who kept entering the gym in batches.
When Khalid came near him and gestured him to look at his watch, only then he realized that he had not worked out, but he had over worked out like HELL!! He did not notice that he had been running on the treadmill of the gym for the past 3 hours. He had arrived when the manager opened the gym door at 5.00 am and now it was 8.05, heaving with youngsters of his age, wearing all models of athleisure. Khalid came near him and asked him to stop right away and offered to walk down with him to their house which was just 2 streets away.
They had been a resident of that area for the past 15 years. Khalid and Kareem were very famous in the neighbourhood, not for their heroism or their pranks, but for the beautiful relationship they shared as siblings. They never gave up on each other. They could understand each other’s silence and sometimes all that each one required was a pat on each other’s back saying, “Befikar rehna, Mein hu na” (Don’t worry, I am there for you.) “What is wrong with you these days? Why are you so tensed and frustrated? Is your health alright?”, asked Khalid solicitously. Kareem kept mum.
“Kareem answer me Bhai what is wrong? Is this about Kajal?” Kareem stopped. He did not want to deny nor did he want to suffer alone. It was far beyond his capacity to bear the torture anymore. No one tortured him. He brought it upon himself. “Bhaiya shall we go to Priyadharshini Park. I need to tell you something”, he pleaded. Even his deadliest enemy would have agreed because his eyes were welling with tears and his face had turned crimson. When they reached the park Khalid said, “Chalo, now tell me everything. It is just you and me. As we always know what happens between us dies with us.”
“You are right. It is Kajal. I saw her pictures in her Facebook and Instagram accounts. She seemed so happy. She has moved on Bhaiya. She has deceived me. I am such a douchebag. I am not able to withstand seeing her standing with other people so happily, when I am lamenting. I can’t imagine some other boy being her friend. How can she forget me so soon? What is it that I did not do for her? She was mine. I thought she will be mine forever. But what is this? Where did she go?”, cried Kareem. Khalid let him cry. He waited till Kareem threw out every arrow which he had safely carried with him causing them to bleed in the form of frustration and tears. After a few moments of silence Khalid said, “Bhai, you should realize one thing. Kajal is not the one who has changed. You have changed. I am very sorry to tell you this but you know very well we three have been very thick friends for the past 15 years from the day we met her as our new neighbour. Kajal ties a raakhi in my hand every year not for the fun of it. It is because she regards me as her elder brother and confides in me the way you do. She hasn’t changed at all. Tell me Kareem what is making you so busy nowadays? You have been in business since 5 years and quite recently, maybe for almost 3 months you have been so much to yourself. What is it that keeps you away from caring for your loved ones?”
“Oh Bhaiya aap bhi? (you too brother?) Why do you talk like her? My work has become hectic since the economic crash. I am forced to work long hours and I am tired. My mind is tired and my body is equally tired. What has my routine got to do with she moving away from me?”, Kareem’s voice staggered as he spoke. Khalid held his shoulder and spoke softly, “Bhai, please understand one thing. Whatever maybe your schedule, you don’t compromise your family time. Why do you earn? For the family, isn’t it? And what is the use of maintaining a long distance from your family; being aloof from them, all the while being secluded with gadgets and not taking a little time to converse. We understand your work pressure. But don’t let that pressure crush your happiness. Relieve yourself for some time. Speak with people. You dont seem to have time for anyone.”
“Bhaiya I will do it hereafter but how did Kajal not understand me? Why doesn’t she speak with me like before? I message her at least once a day. I send her wishes for festivals. I have been so open with her. We have shared our passwords. We go out whenever possible. We eat together whenever she comes home. I also wished her for her birthday. I have told her to call me whenever she needs my help. I am there for her. Why doesn’t she understand this?”, Kareem didn’t realize his rising tone. Khalid gestured him to speak softly as his tone attracted many curious stares.
“This is where you go wrong. A girl doesn’t need your password or your wishes. She needs a bit of your time, exclusively for her. Kajal is not demanding it. She is waiting for you very patiently. She just got used to how you were before. When you both confessed your love, you had all the time in the world for her. She was your priority. Calls were lengthened from minutes to hours. You both had the best time cooking in our kitchen and watching movies in our living room. You were expressive. Now all that has disappeared. What made you change all that? Did you at least sit and tell her about your routine? When was the last time you told her that you love her or that she looks good in a particular dress?
Did you know that Kajal had come over yesterday? You were not at home as you had to go around with your friends. Had you promised to take her out?”
“Oh God, yes I did. Rohith had come with his friends to show us his new vehicle and I went away. Are baapre, how did I forget? Did she wait for me?”, Kareem turned his head downwards with his hand on his forehead.
“She had been waiting the entire evening and finally she came here worried, if you were ill and she found you were out with your friends. I couldn’t save you as I did not know about your arrangements with her. She wept silently and said, “May be they had some important work.” How do you expect that girl to understand you when you don’t tell her the true situation? She also told me about the way you had changed. She longs to hear from you Kareem. She says, suddenly she has found it very difficult to read your mind. She doesn’t even know if you feel the same way as you used to do before. She also asked me if you had another girlfriend in your life.
You were like an open book. But now, everything seems so secretive. Do you know how scared she feels to even ask you why you don’t talk like before? Why don’t you be more expressive? You used to speak out how you felt for her. I thought you might publish a book with the poems you used to write for her. Now you have stopped everything so abruptly. Kareem no one has the magical power to read anyone’s mind. Unless you express your feelings as words, nobody will understand you. You cannot say that you do not know to speak and you know to show your care only in action. That is lame. The easiest thing you can do with the person whom you love, is express your feelings with an open heart. You don’t get bored of greeting your friends. You have time for them. Then how do feel it unnecessary to praise or express to a person who cares for you more than her life?
Don’t blame her. You are being partial. The time you have for friends and workmates, even a portion of it, you don’t have for Kajal”
Kareem could just stare at the ground and listen intently. He could feel his ear heating up. Not because of anger but with shame. He felt really bad for blaming Kajal. She was just being an innocent and timid girl waiting for her jaan (lover) to find time for her. He looked up at the sky and thanked the stars. If he hadn’t opened up to his brother, he would have mistaken a girl who did only one thing for him; she silently understood him and waited patiently for him to get back to her.
“It isn’t too late Kareem. Stop staring at her pictures and chiding her. Go to her house and talk with her. Explain your situation. She will understand. Please don’t hurt her. You know her past has troubled her a lot. Give her the confidence that you haven’t changed. Let her realize you are there for her. You have to find time for her. With great difficulty we took her out of her sorrowful past of being an orphan and adopted by a drunkard man and a sick woman. Kajal doesn’t need sympathy. She doesn’t need pet names or special gifts. She just requires your care and appreciation. If I haven’t judged her wrong, she would give up her life willingly for the people whom she loves. She has no other in her mind except you.
Instead of running on that treadmill be more expressive. Say how you feel. If not no one will understand you. There is no use of telling that a person can’t hear your words when you are standing one mile away. Get closer and see the difference. Every word will be heard, every feeling will be reciprocated. Your eyes are the mirrors where she sees herself. Your smile is where she finds her worth and your care is where she discovers the meaning of her life.”
Kareem stood up and wiped his face. When Khalid stood, Kareem hugged him tightly. “Arre, kya kar raha hai thu?” (What are you doing?), Khalid turned uneasy. Kareem said, “Bhaiya, this is my first step of improvement. I have decided to be more expressive. I do realize that I took Kajal for granted. She understood me all the time and I just kept misunderstanding her. I turned possessive but failed to make her feel loved. Thank you for making me realize that IT IS FUTILE TO BE POSSESSIVE ABOUT SOMETHING UNLESS YOU POSSESS IT. I shall amend things and make all arrangements to possess this invaluable treasure and keep her safe with me forever and ever.”
Dear friends, In this world our existence is not permanent. We are blessed with the capacity to reason out and express. Instead of holding grudges in the mind let us find time to pour them. Let us sit and discuss our problems. There is no use of sowing the seed of anger and hatred and let it grow into a strong Poison Tree. Let us speak with an open heart, apologize if needed and sort out problems at the earliest. Who knows if you would get another opportunity to amend situations? The pandemic has made us use this valuable statement:
Agar zindha ho tho kal milenge. (Let us meet tomorrow if we are alive.)
Understand each other’s feelings and learn to Express to Impress Avoid misunderstandings, over thinking and unnecessary distress Never postpone to confess love, never postpone an apology God created all of us but not with lifetime guarantee.
Aisha looked out of the window and there she saw it again! A beautiful shooting star! She closed her eyes and recollected the way she was excited when she saw a shooting star for the first time in her life.
“Ma… Where are you? I saw something. Come here quickly. Something fell from the sky ma.” Her mom, who was busy in the kitchen, preparing Aisha’s favourite Chole Bhature, entered the room as she was wiping her hand in that small towel, which always hung around her hip. “What is it Aisha? What did you see? Where is it?”, asked her mom. “Oh ma.. you always come late. See, you missed seeing something so beautiful. Next time when I call you please come soon. Or else, wait. It may come again”, whined Aisha. “Arre.. tell me what you saw beta.. “, mom said peering through the window. All that she could see was darkness which was pressing blackly. “Well, it was a star near that moon. Can you see the stars near the moon, which looks like my finger nail? It seemed as if one star tripped on something in the sky and had a great fall. It had a tail ma. It was shining. Wait it will fall again or maybe it may go up again to its place near the moon”, Aisha paused and caught her breath.
Her face had turned scarlet and her eyes were wide open with excitement. Mom couldn’t control her smile. She said “Aishu, it is a falling star. It is considered lucky if a person gets to see it. You could wish for something. It may come true. It will not get back beta. Next time, when we spend time in the balcony we may be lucky to see another one.”, saying so her mom patted Aisha’s head tenderly and left the room to continue frying her delicious smelling Bhature.
Mom was always in the kitchen, forever trying to make delicious food items for the family of 4 members. Aisha’s grandparents were too old to do any household chore. The best way they could help the ever-busy-lady of the house was by managing their routine all by themselves and by keeping good health. They knew that if they fell sick, it meant more stress for their daughter-in-law. Their son had been to Dubai 6 years ago, to earn for the family, as it was kind of customary in their family. One member of the family would end up in any of the Gulf countries to earn for his or her family. It was either by force or by sheer luck. No head of the family ever wanted to live miles away from his family unless the financial status was that bad.
Aisha recollected the way her mom promised to see the falling star, but did not keep it up as she had already reached the sky before another star could fall off. Aisha’s mom suffered a massive cardiac arrest. Aisha let that tear of sorrow fall off her eye. She wiped it and continued writing her “novel”. She wasn’t actually penning a novel. They were just random scribbles and anecdotes which she treasured and was quite secretive about. Whenever she penned her thought she posed like a professional writer and imagined her diary as an upcoming Bestseller. Aisha was good in her studies. The seventh standard did have its toll on her with all the new subjects being introduced. But she was a very smart girl who managed her studies and her favourite hobby of writing her “novel”.
Her dad was very supportive and had come down from Dubai after the demise of his wife in order to carry the baton passed on by his wife. It was now his turn to run the race as far as he could. His parents had become more cooperative than before. Life seemed quite normal. Of course the house missed the wobbling mother and the aroma which made her neighbours hungrier and eager to taste the food.
One day Aisha fainted. She was playing hockey and suddenly she let go of her stick and fell down. She was fortunate, as her head wasn’t hit by any stone. She was carried to the sick room and nursed. She was running high fever. Her dad took her to the hospital, who gave her immediate treatment and she was discharged within an hour. But matters got more serious when the fever prolonged and finally the doctors did the blood test to discover something horrific. It was leukemia.
Her father was devastated. He didn’t have enough money to treat her. Aisha was a very matured girl who had a very good control over her emotions. She was very practical and had learnt to be strong after her mother’s sudden demise. But Aisha did not lose the smile on her face. She just said, “Abba be happy that I am alive now. I am breathing in this moment. I am able to see the world and enjoy the beauty. Do not fill your eyes with so much tears that you fail to see the happiness on my face. I am like the falling star. I want to bring delight to this world. I want people to admire me and not sympathise me. You may not be able to see me for a long while, but don’t miss to see me. Amma missed that star that night. You don’t miss me because I am your very special star.” Her dad did not find words to reply. He held her hand and promised never to cry. “I will not miss to see even one second of my daughter’s happiness.”
Aisha completed her seventh standard. She was administered medicines from the government hospital and an NGO took the complete responsibility of her treatment. Aisha did not feel comfortable with being one among the charity cases. She told the head of the Cancer institute, Mrs. Shanthi, “I am writing a book. I will complete it very soon I will publish it and repay the debts I have incurred. Will you please keep an account of the expenses Madam?” Mrs. Shanthi was touched. She maintained a separate notebook and showed them to Aisha whenever she requested to know how much she owed the organisation. Mrs. Shanthi had no intentions to get back a penny from Aisha, but as it is well known .
Mrs. Shanthi had endured the pangs of losing many such young patients. She did all that was possible to keep them smiling till that smile froze till the grave and beyond. Aisha’s treatment was systematic and she responded well to the medicines and the blood transfusion. The girl who sat and counted stars, started to count her left over hair. She had lost her charming looks but the beauty of her heart had only grown more. She wore a red scarf round her head and mimicked her favourite fairy tale character Little Red Riding Hood.
With every course of treatment, Aisha felt the urge to keep her family and well-wishers happier than before. She completed her “novel” and sent for Mrs. Shanthi. Aisha’s joy knew no bounds when Mrs. Shanthi agreed to help her with the publishing. Aisha was also glad to know that she could get back home as her treatment had clicked well and all that she required was a few medicines which had to be taken on a regular basis.
The diary was typed, edited and underwent consummate fool proof. It was not just random scribbles, it turned out to be beautiful words which expressed love, kindness, humanity, the care for every living being, her poems to her mom and of course the value of every breath. These were the words in the first page.
I don’t just breathe. I experience every breath and treasure every moment. Every breath is an invaluable gift and I wish to make it more valuable by using it to make a difference in everyone’s lives.
Of course it was a gift for her from the NGO. Aisha ran her fingers through every page of her first book and let out a sigh of relief. She looked at her mother’s portrait which hung near her bed and showed her the first copy. Her father looked at her with immense pride and her grandparents hugged their granddaughter for her achievement. Aisha’s book was a great success.
Her debts were cleared with the money she received for her debut novel. She never felt haughty about this as she felt it was her duty to keep her father as happy as possible. She did not want her father to repay any of her debts nor did she want anyone to consider them as a burden.
Her book was obviously dedicated to her mother. Every time she saw the title, it took her back to that wonderful night when her mother made her a promise to watch the next falling star together. The novel was titled, “FallingStars Never Die”. She felt very happy that God had helped her in her endeavour.
With happiness comes good times but we believe it the other way. We always wait for a good time to be happy.
With Aisha’s progressing happiness, her health recouped and she attended school till her 12th standard. Beyond that, she had all the deteriorations of a cancer survivor which slowed down her movements. Whatever was her condition, she never failed to inspire her readers; just the way she did it today.
This story is written having this young girl in mind.
Gitanjali was buried long ago but today she has been reborn to live in all our hearts for another lifetime. Aisha is just another name given to Gitanjali. Every time a person reads her poems, she will be magically reborn in the message of her poetry and live with them. She will live and teach them how to live.
This book was a gift to me from my mother when I won the creative writing competition during my 7th standard. The book inspired me in many ways and the best message which I received was
Peace is felt better, when it comes after a storm. Life gets more meaningful, when you continue to live even after you are gone.