Stand tall. Be proud.

“Hey bro.. stop”, shouted Nick. “What’s wrong with you? What are you eating? Are they sleeping pills? Let me have a look.” Nick found they were high dosage sleeping pills. “When did you start this practice? I saw you popping something last night. I thought they were vitamins. Just now I saw the label. Are you okay, bub? Do you have something to tell me? Is everything okay? I am all ears.”

Jack kept quiet. He did not utter a word. He just shook his head and tried to leave the room. His face was flushed and drenched in the embarrassment of being caught. When Nick tried to hold his elbow, he pulled it out forcefully. Nick decided to sleep on it for that night and talk the next morning. Nick let the matter sleep but he spent a sleepless night. 

The next day Nick met Jack in the garden. Nick had come to Jack’s place to spend a week with his family. Jack had 2 sons. His wife was a lawyer. Nick also had children and a loving wife. Nothing seemed wrong in either of their lives. Nick came to his brother with a cup of coffee and started the conversation. “Good morning bub. How are you? I am sure you slept well last night. I think I should have borrowed a pill from you.” Jack looked up confused. He thought his brother was teasing him. Nick continued, “Well, I had a sleepless night.” 

Jack looked sullen. He raised his head and said, “I am sorry. It was because of me, right? I am always a problem. I should have just told you everything.” 

“Oh.. that’s a revelation bub, go on tell me now”, said Nick with a scornful expression. 

“Don’t mistake me bro but please do tell me how you manage to remain so happy and cheerful all the time. You have the same business which I run. Our family lives are so similar. We earn the same way. Yet I feel so exhausted and stressed while you seem as free as a bird. You seem to have time for everything in this world. 

I always get stressed and burdened. I hardly find time for my work or a pastime. There have been so many nights when I have wanted to make a call and cry out my stressed thoughts. But I knew I was insane and didn’t want to give you even a taste of it”, Jack looked away when he uttered the last sentence. 

“Look at that. Someone has grown. You seem to have grown so much that you have started making decisions even for others. How would you know that your troubles would disturb me? From when has my bub turned into a douche?” Nick sounded sarcastic and irritated. “And to answer your question I am cheerful and balanced because I do not burden myself. Come with me. You understand things better when I give you an example.”

Nick pulled Jack towards his own garden and showed him. “See this beautiful idea in your gardening and learn from it. You brought together climbing roses and fruit trees. You have combined the color and scent of a beloved flower along with the value of home grown fruit. Did you do it intentionally with some creativity or did any book instruct you to do so?” 

Jack looked baffled. He said in a put out tone, “Could you please be clear? What has this got to do with my insomnia?”

Nick continued, “Adaptability. See the adaptability between them. The apple tree has the burden of the rose plant. The plant has literally strangled the tree. But the tree stands strong. It did not bend too much according to the pressure put by the climber. The apple tree stood strong. Your apple tree is not very old. It could have easily fallen or broken by the weight of this beautiful climber with its heavy roses.” Jack nodded slowly. 

Nick led him again to another part of the garden. “Now come here. See this bamboo trellis.

Do you notice the way it has bent with the weight of the climber? This is exactly how you have given in to all the pressures around you. Nobody in this world is without stress and pressure. It is up to us to bend and break or to stand tall and fight.” 

“Do not give the remote control of your feelings to anything or anyone. Why do you let your problems rule you? Your insomnia is because you have subscribed to the pressures around you. Be free brother. Don’t bend your back like this trellis. Be strong like your favourite apple tree. You will not have stress or sleeplessness.”

Nick patted Jack’s back and said, “Come bub, it’s time to throw those little pill devils inside those white pandora boxes. No more sleeping pills. If you have any questions do contact your brother and who is also your partner in crime. Let’s party together and solve the damn problems.” Jack laughed out with tears in his eyes. This was the first time he had laughed after a gap of almost three years. He felt lucky to have a very supportive brother. As he entered the house he reminded himself to repair the trellis and help it stand stronger. 

Life is not always about what you have to do. It is also about what you want to do.

The Four-wheel Drive (4×4)

A 28 year old man was the owner of a beautiful car. Obviously handed over to him by his parents on a silver plate. It was not as luxurious as the limousine nor was it very ordinary as it had all the required facilities and technology for a decent ride. Mr Scott enjoyed every ride in his car. It took him to all the places. He too enjoyed taking his car to various places. It did not consume much fuel. He did not have to spend much on any of its accessories and so he was very satisfied.

After a few months some changes were noticed by him. He suddenly noticed a kind of dissatisfaction in the journey. The satisfaction which he used to get in his initial rides were almost lost. He did not find that happiness even when he was with his best friends. Usually even a single long ride with his best friend would be so great that he would love reminiscing it over and over in his mind.  

He felt his rides in the car were getting strenuous rather than enjoyable. Therefore he decided to check his car for any kind of fault but he found none. His car was just the same without any problem and it was as good as it was given to him by his parents. 

One fine day he decided not to think over what was actually wrong with him. He tried to relive those days when he felt dissatisfied and it did strike him that the days he asked his friends to drive the car were the days he was most dissatisfied. He did not find enjoyment when he did not drive his car but asked somebody else to hold the steering for him. 

The rides were so memorable and enjoyable when he was responsible for his own happiness. Then he decided to drive for himself even when he was with his friends. After a year or so he realised it was time for him to expand his family and he got married. He was happy. But has happiness ever been a family member who stays with us forever? It is always a guest. Sometimes it comes with an invitation and sometimes as an uninvited one. But never as a permanent family member.

As fate would have it, after a few years, he started experiencing the same sorrow which had struck him around five or six years ago. His car rides turned uncomfortable and around 3 to 4 times his car skidded away leading to horrible accidents. He did not want to take any more risks and checked his car to find out if there was something wrong with it at least this time. 

There was no deterioration in the quality of the car. Of course there were some external dents and curves but there was nothing wrong with the internal system and it was then that he realised his car journey was uncomfortable and literally led to an accident because he had not checked the tires. He had forgotten to check the tyres and keep them in balance. 

If the car driven by the young man here, is actually LIFE then the 4 wheels of this car are 

1. Personal life

2. Family life

3. Social life and 

4. Professional life

The young man always missed out on checking either of the tyres. Sometimes he neglected himself and prioritized his family life thereby losing the balance. Afterall what is the point in having the world’s costliest car if the tyres aren’t in good condition? Even if one tyre wears off, the car tends to move off track leading to a mishap.

When his professional life took the lead he failed to bring the other three wheels in control. Society is sometimes a form of a luring distraction that can tempt us to a very different path. The young man fell pitiable prey to the social practices. Consequently losing the balance in his ride. 

Finally, he worked on them individually bringing about the best balance in his Life. Life is like a four wheel drive, also called as 4×4 or 4WD. It refers to a two-axled vehicle drivetrain capable of providing torque to all of its wheels simultaneously. The young man gave equal importance to all the four tyres of his car and discovered peace.

He enjoyed a comfortable journey for a very long time with his family, friends, colleagues and the society until almost all the tyres got worn out and one fine day his car came to a stop. This time it was a permanent stop.

Life is like a car with inbuilt necessities. It is upto you to upgrade it and add the luxuries. You may not be able to choose the model of your car. But you can  choose to drive safely whether you travel near or far.

Tea time revelation

Natasha sat at the edge of the parapet wall with her 3 other friends as a group of family members had reached her house to spend 2 days. Her mom let her spend that entire day at her friend’s place but told her to get back by evening. For some reason Natasha hated guests. The four friends spent the entire day laughing and talking about their future plans. Natasha looked at her watch and lamented that it was already 4pm. “Oh.. I wish the clock stopped ticking. I don’t want to go back home.”

Natasha jumped down and said as she kicked a stone which lay near her feet. “Why do these guests come home? I hate them.” One of her friends, Leena asked, “But why?”

Natasha continued, “The arrival of guests is a happy and exciting moment for some old people, for a few youngsters it is a time when they love to put on airs about their achievements; a time for which they would have waited for around months or years so that they could blow their own trumpet. But for me it is a moment of disturbance. It is as if all the peace in the house would soon be disrupted. The serene atmosphere of the living room would suddenly seem like a vegetable market.”

Leena looked worried. “In what way are you concerned? Why is it a disturbance?” Natasha looked straight into Leena’s eyes and said, “My life is filled with so many problems. It is not as easy as yours.” Just then Leena’s mom stepped in. Natasha became silent. Accidentally Leena’s mom had overheard Natasha. Yet she just enquired if everyone would have some tea and left them to their privacy.

Natasha continued, “I fail to satisfy everyone in the house. My parents do not understand. They don’t have problems. My relatives have no problems. These relatives are like intruders who happily barge into our peaceful life, create havoc and leave the house (which would have become a debate hall) with a weird expectation. They would turn back with a sly smile expecting us to say, ‘We had a nice time. Please come again.’

Natasha had tears in her eyes and her face had turned red with anger. Leena’s mom entered with tea. She served everyone and sat near her daughter with her cup. She waited for everyone to take two sips of their tea. Then she asked, “Is the tea good?” Immediately Leena said hers had more sugar. The other two said they liked it. Natasha said she wanted some more sugar. Leena’s mom said, “I want it stronger as it is too light.”

Now nothing could be done with Leena’s tea. So Leena’s mom took Natasha down so that they could have their tea as they preferred. After reaching the kitchen Leena’s mom said, “Nat I am sorry but I heard you on the terrace. Please remember that it is impossible to satisfy all the people around you. There were 5 of us out there. The tea that I served all of us was the same. There were a few people who preferred my preparation. The three of us had some defect in it. It is simply impossible to prepare 5 different cups of tea unless people tell you their choices in advance.

Each cup of tea is made the same way but it will be of a different flavour to every person in this world. The flavour that you experience may not be the same for them. If you try to alter your tea according to everyone’s choices your tea will lose its original flavour.”

Natasha looked up in wonder. Leena’s mom continued. “Nat, you should realise everybody has their own problem. Life may look as common as this tea. But to every person it will be different. No two people live the same life. Every person has his or her own problem. It is just that the intensity differs. The tea is the same in both our cups but the flavour is different. Life gives everyone problems. Each person gets it in a different form.

There is no use of lamenting. You are wrong if you feel your parents are stress free. It is foolish to avoid your kith and kin. Instead deal with your problems like an adult. Deal with your negative thoughts with a positive focus. You will never find any reason to cry.”

Natasha had finished her tea. Leena’s mom’s tea had refreshed her body and her words had refreshed her mind. Natasha felt ashamed of the way she hated everyone around her. She thanked Leena’s mom and rushed to the terrace.

She said, “Okay guys I think the tea did its magic. I feel fresh enough to leave and face my relatives with more confidence. See ya.” None of them could decipher what had happened but they loved the happy look on Natasha’s face.

She went to Leena’s mom and said, “Thank you so much Aunty. I shall never forget this cup of tea. I realized that I was too self centered. Today I understood that everyone gets their portion of problems and challenges. It is just that the packaging differs and sometimes the flavour differs. How foolish I am to think that everyone else was without troubles. Aunty, I may not be able to meet you tomorrow as I am planning to have a chat with my parents and identify their flavour of the problem.” Leena’s mom smiled and winked at Natasha as she left the house.

Life is waiting with a variety of challenges. It will come in different shapes and sizes. Just learn to deal with the challenges with sense and wisdom. And not lament and cry leading to a bigger problem

Empathy Elevates Elegance

With great power comes great responsibility.

Responsibility to manoeuvre the power in the light of righteousness is inevitable, any action to deny that at any cost leads to chaos.

As Alex was standing holding the railings of his balcony, he looked down to the ground, 25 floors below him. All that he could see was tiny specks of people, of vehicles and all living beings. He couldn’t recognise anything. But when he raised his head and looked up, he could see the beautiful birds, the mighty sun and the lovely clouds. He was so close to so many beautiful things.  

He was reminded of the difference in his sons Michael and Lincoln. Michael was the younger son, who was 25 years old and chose the path of humility and righteousness. He always felt it necessary to lend his helping hand and lift the people in the lower sections of the society. Alex knew everything about Michael. There was clarity in Michael’s future. 

On the contrary, Lincoln believed in growing higher and higher and always aimed in filling his own pockets. Alex hardly knew what his elder son was up to. Alex had his own business. He had been running his business successfully for the past 35 years and now it was time for him to stretch his legs, rest his back and think of everything else, except money making and business.

Lincoln was the elder one so it was customary to handover the business to him. He could have easily handed over the baton to Lincoln but he never found him to be eligible enough to take over the legacy. Alex required some more days to get complete confidence in his son’s behaviour.

A discussion was held with the members of the board, regarding the heir to the chairman’s seat. The votes were very poor for Lincoln whereas the votes were very high for Michael. Alex could not pass on the baton to Michael because Michael never aspired to start his career from a very high position. He wanted to climb the steps slowly and take his success slowly and steadily with him.  

Alex felt that he had failed to imbibe some kind of value to Lincoln. He never felt Lincoln was unworthy but he felt Lincoln should be more flexible, humble and understanding. Nobody prefers a tyrant like Hitler; everybody prefers a humble leader like Telemachus. Alex knew very well that the moment Lincoln acquires the power in his hands, that power will corrupt him. 

He decided to teach him a lesson. He wanted him to realize the need to be humble and understanding. Alex knew that it was pointless to advise a boy who was already 28 years old. So one day, Alex took Lincoln on a drive to the outskirts of the city, where they lived. He stopped their expensive car in front of a motel. 

It was a decent motel which could feed around 20 guests at the same time. The roof was made of asbestos and the walls weren’t completely painted. Though the motel did not look luxurious, Lincoln found around 20 people waiting in the portico of the motel. The people didn’t seem restless. They seemed happy, discussing and gossiping; young men and women chuckling and giggling at silly jokes. There was the most invaluable luxury of being happy.  

As Lincoln entered he noticed that there was a television kept at a high level. The fans were running at an average speed. The place seemed very tidy. The moment they entered, Alex was greeted by almost every person in the restaurant. Every person knew Alex by his name and inquired about his family and about his well being. Lincoln was shocked to see the bartender hugging Alex and patting him on his back. He even knew the games which Alex loved playing.

Lincoln did not understand a bit of what was happening. He had always seen his father being saluted and when he saw the bartenders and the waiters of the restaurant shaking hands and patting his back, he presumed it was some kind of disrespect from their side. The manager tried to make a conversation with Lincoln but Lincoln gave cold answers, thereby discouraging further talks. Lincoln remained sullen. 

After the crowd dispersed, Alex ordered food but the manager walked straight to the table and said, “Alex today’s bill is on the house.” Alex blushed and could not refuse the offer. Alex looked at his son and observed the change in his face. He asked him, “What is it my son? Are you alright? Is something troubling you?” 

Lincoln looked at his father and said, “Father, what place is this? Do you know these people? Have you come here before? 

Every person in this restaurant seems pretty close to you. They don’t even realise that you are the chairman of a prosperous company. They behave as if you are their childhood friend. I haven’t seen any friend of yours or any colleague of yours behaving so closely with you. How is it that you allowed the waiter, whose hands are always greasy and dirty, to touch you and talk? Don’t you think you have to maintain some distance from them, dad? We are rich. We have to show our authority. We need to make them understand their place. This is not right, dad. I am sorry but I feel this is totally not right.” 

Alex smiled and took Lincoln with him to the kitchen of the restaurant and showed him a corner. He said, “This is the exact place where I started my career. This is where I stood and cooked for thousands of people for five long years and these greasy hands are the ones which helped me to rise to the position in which I am today. You have only seen the rich father. You have never seen the poor cook. 

Those people who greeted me were my colleagues and we cooked together, swept the floors together and shared our joy and sorrow together. We had no differences amidst us. Money should never be a parameter to recognize human beings. You are well educated. You have all the required qualities of a successful businessman, except the quality of human integrity. Integrity matters a lot. It is the core factor for a successful business.”

He handed over a pen to Lincoln and said, “This is my gift to you son on being elected as the next Chairperson of our company. You could use this gift either to sign the new projects and appointment orders of our company or sign the resignations and memos of people. The money and power which we have to either be used for the upliftment of humanity or as bricks to raise walls between you and the society. When an individual acquires Great Power, the use or misuse of that power is everything. Will it be used for the Greater Good or will it be used for Personal or Destructive Ends? Now this is a question you must ask yourself.” 

Lincoln took the pen from his dad’s hand and stared at it for a while. He felt ashamed of his previous attitude with human beings. Alex continued,”Son, you must be aware of the bulls and the bears of the stock exchange. The bear market is where prices go down giving trouble and loss to most of the people. The bull market has a hike in price raising the hopes of many. I would prefer you to be the bull who would help raise everyone in the society.”

The manager brought in the food and as a reflex action, Lincoln stood up and shook hands introducing himself, “Hello sir. I am Lincoln. I am fortunate to be here today. Could you please take me around your motel after lunch?” The manager smiled, hugged Lincoln and said, “Welcome to our family dear.” Alex looked up at his son with pride in his eyes and with confidence in his mind. 

Many times we don’t understand the meaning of being empathetic with our peers. 

And what we don’t understand we always tend to fear. 

Take your own chances and try to love and care.

You have to decide whether you want to be a bull or a bear.  

Little drops of honey

When the day seemed dull and upset due to a promise unkept,
She came into my room as if she was an invited guest.
At first, I showed more fear than warmth or excitement
But when she seemed bolder, I couldn’t help being different.

Her presence had already animated everybody in the house.
My possessive mind told them, she is mine and not yours.
I held her so near me, that her eyes were near my nose.
And that was when she chirped aloud and all my fallen spirits arose.

I scampered round the house not knowing where to place her,
She was a tailor bird herself who must be owning a shelter.
At last I found a cardboard box, which held a bunch of grapes.
While my friend held her in his hand, we made her a new cage.

She happily hopped into her new cage, she knew we weren’t her enemy.
We gave her water but what she loved was the little drop of honey.
She couldn’t drink it from a bottle cap, making us worry and wonder
Finally she knew the best way was to drink from my friend’s finger.

Her tiny feathers were olive green and her body like butter scotch ice cream
Her tiny head kept moving around as if trying to capture the scene
The tiny black eyes on her face were a beautiful match to her beak
She was so perfect in every way and so we decided to keep.

Just then her mamma and papa bird called her aloud from the tree nearby,
She fluttered her wings rapidly, giving a responsive cry.
It was that our heart skipped a beat and made us deeply realize,
How selfish we had actually been by keeping her as our prize.

Separating her from her parents was never our intention.
We know it’s a pain that has no cure, no treatment or medication.
We took her to the tree from where we heard her parents’ clarion call
At once her mamma gave a peek from the nest on the tree so tall.

I opened the door of the grape box cage and at once she flew out high.
She stopped two times and gave us a look, it seemed she said goodbye
We had named her Honey, for her voice was sweet and it was the only food she ate.
I miss her already but we hope someday she will be at our gate.

Thirty minutes of enormous joy is what Honey gave us that day.
How easy it was for her to adapt, to be kind with us and play.

When a tiny bird can shower loads of hope and joy
We as human beings should at least give it a try.

Make a Difference with deference

“Enough is enough. I can’t take it anymore. Come out .. quick. It is now or never. Push the wall. All of you together. Push. 3…2…1..”

And the wall broke. The five friends jumped and ran as fast as their legs could carry them. All of them had black heads. They did not feel the sweat but their heart was pounding badly. They reached a distant forest and hid in the dark woods. They decided to spend the night in peace. When the leader looked up at the aspen tree all that he could do was kiss the trunk and say, ‘Goodnight mom’. 

Her branches and many of her friends’ branches and trunks were cut to make many of his friends, relatives and colleagues.

Of course all of us know that One tree makes an average of 1million matchsticks. These five matchstick friends ran from their huge cream colored matchbox, where they were imprisoned for almost 5 years. They were the last 5 sticks from that box. The rest were tortured to burn so many houses and factories. Though the matchsticks resisted they were rubbed and scraped till they finally let out the spark of destruction. 

This matchbox was placed on the table by a gang of gangsters who had decided to sell the trees and burn the forest. When the 5 friends heard the plan they could not bear the thought of burning their own parents. Though they would not live a life and carry the guilt, they did not want to have a hand in the unforgivable deed. As soon as they are struck against a surface they would perish, yet they did not want to die as a sinner. They kicked the smaller wall of the matchbox and ran away. They knew very well that

 One tree can make a million matchsticks but only one match is needed to burn a million trees.

These five friends had decided to put themselves to good use for a noble reason. They wanted to light a fire which would serve the people and not destroy them. 

When they got up in the morning a small boy named Shrenik picked them up and put them inside a small dirty bag along with many other matchsticks. All the matchsticks inside the bag had red heads and seemed happy. When these friends asked them the reason for their happiness, they said, “We overheard this boy telling his dad about an experiment for which he required around 14 matchsticks. He wanted to prove something to his friends. We are happy because we thought our lives would perish in the hands of pyromaniacs. Today we will perish for the sake of some useful experiment of an innocent child.” 

“That sounds interesting. Do you know what experiment we are going to be in?” asked one of the five friends. The answer was a no. They waited patiently till Shrenik emptied the bag and placed all the 14 sticks on the ground. 

There were around 5 more boys of the same age group to witness the experiment. They were dressed in rags. The tiredness on their faces reflected the hunger in their stomach. They looked pale but had not lost the sparkle in their eyes when they got an opportunity to learn something new from their friend. 

Shrenik laid the matchsticks adjacently like soldiers lying on the training ground for their rifle practice. He lit one of the matches and the fire spread slowly. The boys didn’t find anything unusual. “All of us know that all the matchsticks will burn now. The fire will spread and destroy the rest. What is so new? Are you trying to make us a fool?”

Shrenik did not react. When the 7th match was also lit, He moved the 8th match backward. The fire stopped. The remaining 7 matches were saved.

The boys were surprised. They were hardly 6 years old. This simple experiment seemed wonderful to them. These ignorant boys were misused by the thugs of the area for thieving. Shrenik trief telling them it was wrong but they never listened to him. 

According to them, it was impossible to stop working for the thugs. They thought that a habit could never be stopped. They were scared to deny thieving. Shrenik tried advising them to step back at least once. He knew he would be able to stop his friends from becoming thieves. All that they had to do was report to the nearby police station. The boys understood the meaning of the experiment and decided to inform the police immediately.

After the boys left Shrenik picked the burnt matchsticks and threw them in the dustbin. He saw that the remaining unburnt matchsticks had red heads. He had saved them for his next experiment. 

The five black head matchstick friends were among the first seven sticks who proudly gave up their lives for a great cause. They were strong in their will power and kept up their moral value. Till the end they didn’t want to be a source of destruction. Shrenik also proved the power of stepping away. 

Dear friends, 

When you feel things are not healthy to the physique and the mind, it is not compulsory to stand amidst trouble like a scapegoat and suffer. There is no harm in stepping away from dangerous people or vulnerable situations. One person’s difference in thinking will save many innocent lives. 

Never be a reason for anybody’s trouble. 

If you do, you suffer double.

If you get into one, never remain there with deep rooted legs. 

Step back from the trouble and make a difference at least for the rest. 

When the time is right…

The nurse brought in the morning sponge bath items and the medicines in a trolly, which could hold almost a complete day’s food. She gave me her usual smile and greeted me good morning, though my leg was hanging high above my eye level, tormenting my ability to stand on my own feet. When the nurse dropped in the previous time she held my hand and wrist to check all the vitals. She didn’t greet me then. Was it too early to say good morning then?

Now that she wished good morning, it must have been around breakfast time because the trolley also carried a teapot and some unpalatable sandwiches. I permitted her to do her job while I continued with the work I was doing since the accident. REPENTANCE!

I went to Ooty on a business trip by car and drove the entire day. Of course, I disobeyed my father as he had given strict instructions. ‘Do not drive back on the same day. Stay back and drive the next day as it would be too risky to descend the hills in the dark.’

When have we paid heed to the warning given by our closest people? Had it been through a radio or a social media message, I would have given it a thought. (Now that’s a bit of the bitter butter that I taste in my sandwich.)

I was disobedient and my body decided to teach me a lesson. It happily fell asleep. When I was driving down the hills, a huge truck collided with my car and fortunately I did not fall on the other side of the hill. If not, this would have been a story written by a ghost writer. (I mean a story written by a real ghost.) The car was found irreparable but my body has been brought back to shape and I owe it all to the doctors in the orthopaedic department of this hospital.

Today, as I lie in my bed, I realise I should have obeyed my dad. I regret this disobedience and I have another confession to make. An action which is a darker one. A deed for which even God wouldn’t forgive. I hope my dad does.

My dad has actually been bedridden for the past six months. He is around 83 years old. He did not disobey anyone. Infact he was too obedient towards his duty. He was very dedicated to his job and spent most of his life scrutinizing files and reading books.

Reading the newspaper was as important to him as having the day’s food was to me. He wouldn’t stop with the first few pages or handpick his favourite columns. The satisfaction of reading the newspaper came only when he started with The Hindu and ended with the last line of the last page. I remember seeing his turned back with a tiny stoop more than a raised head with a relaxed look.

Throughout his life, he strove hard for us. He is a teetotaler (though he was workaholic) and never has he thought about himself or his special needs. He was that one person who never expressed what he wanted. There was always this question, “What do you want? May I get you this?” or he used to surprise me with various gifts.

Today his body has become tired and you know every machine has its wear and tear. So does the human body. When my dad had various dreams of a retired life, it did not include a day of being in a bedridden state. Obviously it was a bolt from the blue. He felt bad that he had to stick to his bed for the entire day. But he felt worse that he had to depend on the people around him for food, water, his bath and his basic toilet needs. He felt uncomfortable when he could not keep himself clean but had to depend on another pair of hands to keep him clean and tidy. Many days I remember when he used to apologize for being bedridden.

One day the devil in me showed up. All that dad wanted from me was a change of battery for the clock on his bedroom wall. The moment the clock stopped working, my dad requested me to change the batteries. I promised to do it after I got back from work but I didn’t do it. I did not realise that he had been waiting for an entire day to know the right time.

The next day my dad did not tell me anything but silently kept observing all my activities and when I got up after watching a two and a half hour movie he requested the second time for the change of battery. I should have done it then, instead I yelled at him. “What difference does it make to you? What are you going to do by knowing the time? Do you have a flight to catch or some files to sign? You just have to eat and sleep. I look at the clock and do all the jobs for you. What does it matter if it is 8 o’clock or 10 o’clock? I always give you your food at the right time. Is that what you want to check?”

My dad grew silent. I thought the reason for this silence was understanding. But today I realise that it was not the silence of understanding but it was the silence of disappointment.

Today, as I keep looking at the walls, without a clock or without a watch on my wrist, I understand how important it was for my dad to know the time. He did not see if it was one o’clock or two o’clock. What he saw was his entire world. I still remember the words: “My entire world revolves around this clock.” Tears rolled down my cheeks. Without seeing the clock, I did not realise if it was time for a wash or if it was my lunch time. It felt as if I lived in a world without a calendar. Just imagine if we had no clocks and calendars, what would we do, what work of ours would be systematic? We might be in utter chaos. Unfortunately, we have forgotten to know the time by looking at the stars and the sun.

During winter, when dad told me to reduce the speed of the fan I ignored it as I wanted to enjoy the complete breeze in point 4. Today I realised it when this room has a fan with no regulators. I feel really warm but have to lie in my bed with the fan moving at speed 2. The helplessness is intolerable.

After a week I returned home. I spent my days alone as mom had to nurse dad. My parents spoke through the phone and settled my bills online. I felt I was cured in two places. My bones were set right and my behaviour was altered. God had taught me the need for respect. I went up to my dad and gave him a tight hug. My dad was taken aback. He said, “Wait, I have not been given a bath. I may not smell good. You may get angry.” Hearing this I felt like a worm and cried at his feet. I said, “Dear dad, I am so sorry for ill-treating you. I had been a monster to you when you needed me the most. I never realized the importance of taking care of a person’s feelings and his self respect. My ego prevented me from understanding your words. You are kind and so you forgave me. But God was a firm teacher who taught me a few lessons with a few practical sessions.”

My dad gave me his sweet toothless smile. I loved when he smiled as it let his greenish grey eyes twinkle like a star. I looked up at the clock and said, “Daddy you were so right. Our world revolves around this clock.

What goes around comes around. Every second that I survived on the accident spot on the street, I regretted driving late. Every minute of the day, I longed to know the time and every hour that passed I longed to see you and beg for forgiveness. Will you forgive me dad?”

Dad placed his hands on my head and said, “You are my child and a father’s heart takes no time to excuse his son. The best lessons are taught by time. And the worst wounds are healed by time. It is almost 11.30 am. Shall we finish my bath?”

That was my dad. A disciplined, soft hearted person who never knew to hurt a soul. Today, let us all remember our fathers who are far and near us and learn to live life the way they have led it for us. There is nothing wrong in treading on the path set by our elders. Remember.. the cars on the racing track will exist till their final lap, only if they stay on track.

Realization is such a wonderful moment, when reality hits your eyes and you realize. Parents help us experience it the best way. Don’t you think they deserve a prize?

The Castle of Eternity

In the far shores of Miami, Lincoln lived with his parents in a refugee camp.

The International Rescue Committee provided opportunities for refugees, asylees, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of individuals who had survived against incredible odds, were welcomed into the safety and freedom of America. At Miami, the refugees were given an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Lincoln was an intelligent lad who was solicitous to know about everything around him. He was not more than 8 years old but had sailed through the tides of life that even a man of 20 hadn’t. He had confronted mobs and tread amidst corpses. Though he missed the pink days of his life, he never gave up. He always knew there would surely be a glowing light at the end of his dark tunnel.

He did not believe that one should murder the dark so that light could be born or the negative has to be destroyed to create the positive. He believed in harmony. A harmony which is created by mutual contemplation and comprehension. He had the physique of an 8year old but the maturity of a teenager. He took up lessons from the generous kind hearted mentors who had initiated to impart basic knowledge to the camp children.

One day, they were given a group activity for their creativity and motor skills. It was supposed to be a single group activity of all the 10 children yet children formed a tiny group of 3 and discussed. They picked buckets and mugs and random articles from various corners of the beach and kept them very safely lest any member of the other groups would take them away. Lincoln was neither invited to any group nor did he show any intention of including a partner.

The observant faculty did not mind children getting to groups but was troubled by the solitude attitude portrayed by Lincoln. She walked up to him, touched his shoulder and said, ‘Hello Lincoln, Good morning’.

Lincoln shuddered when a white hand was placed on his dark shoulder especially when it was most unexpected. He moved a step away as if to avoid anyone seeing the kind lady committing such a crime. He trembled as he said, ‘Morning Miss Doreen. I am good. I will finish my work and show’.

Doreen looked around and then it struck a chord. Lincoln didn’t prefer to be alone, he was taught to be alone. She couldn’t tolerate this but had to remain tight lipped. She hadn’t come there to profess about ways to end discrimination but had come to impart knowledge. When actions could speak louder, she called all her students together and said, “I notice that all of you have formed tiny groups instead of one big group. And so I have decided to make your activity a competition. The group which makes the castle with 3 buckets of sand and half a glass of water will get the highest score. If you add more water your points will decrease.”

The ignorant children got back to their groups and started their work. Lincoln knew it was impossible to make a castle with less water and preferred to use the necessary quantity. The other kids mocked him and abused him for being foolish. One of them said, “He deserves to be no more than a foolish servant.” After ten minutes all the 9 children looked exhausted and could raise nothing more than a shaky platform. Lincoln had completed his castle with a fort and a tiny flag pole with a heart on top.

The students were shocked to see his work and rushed to him. Doreen walked near her kids and asked Lincoln, ‘Why is your flag different? Pick any color paper and use it as a flag.’ Lincoln replied in a low tone with his head bent towards the sand, ‘Miss Doreen, is it okay if my flag doesn’t represent only one group of people? I thought my castle could be used as a place to occupy everyone with a heart without any preference to race or color.’

Doreen observed the embarrassment in the faces of the other kids. To lighten the situation and enlighten the kids she clapped and said, ‘Wow, don’t you think Lincoln deserves appreciation? How did you make your castle Lincoln?’. Though Lincoln was shocked by the sudden applause he said, ‘I used more water. The sand particles have to be united with enough water to let the castle stand sturdy. If not it will crumble down. I knew my score in the competition would be low but I wanted my castle to stand strong.’

Doreen looked at the children and said, ‘And so kids, what shall we do? Shall we rebuild our castles with more water?’ The kids looked at each other and said, ‘Miss Doreen shall we have the activity as one group? We understood that we have to remain united to stay strong. We were wrong to separate ourselves and avoid Lincoln. If we separate ourselves without unity we would tumble; just like our castles.’

They turned towards Lincoln and asked, ‘All of us have a heart, shall we join with you to make a huge strong castle of love?’ Lincoln just smiled and said, ‘Come on, let’s go and pick our buckets.’

Doreen let out a sigh of relief and walked on the sand with her eyes on the long shore. The waves of happiness splashed near her as she left beautiful footprints on the sands.

The sands have witnessed tremendous unity just like the children’s. If the sand had to be divided like human beings they would have been gobbled by the ocean millions of years ago. We still have beaches because tiny sand particles of various shapes, sizes and colours stay together and strive together.

Kudos to these tiny particles who demonstrate so much unity amidst diversity!

Castles built in the air by mere words have zero productivity.
But the castles built with hope, love and care have the strength to fight the wildest calamity.

Mastering the indispensable trait

Rising from her bed, she saw her windows weeping in pain.
They did not have any feeling or emotion; she realised it was the morning rain.
Her mattress felt cold and lifeless, but tempted her to crawl back to place,
She couldn’t get lured again; she had to gear up for her rat race

No other night was as unpleasant, lonely and so weird,
As it was the first time she had to sleep, without her mother very near.
Darkness was her enemy and about ghosts she had good belief.
But the scent from mom’s pillows and bed sheet gave her some relief.

She got out of her house with a smile, wishing to have a great day,
But how would she ever cross the street with the rain flooding her way?
She remembered the hug given by her mother and felt the warmth within.
She closed her eyes, said a quick prayer and strode with a lowered chin.

She jumped over puddles and turned around manholes; everything seemed so scary.
Till she looked below her umbrella and noticed something fishy.
People around her walked so freely, unbothered by the tempestuous rain.
Their heads held high, their faces with a smile, which did not look out for the drain.

As she kept looking at them with curious eyes,
She got back stares, as if she were a fool in disguise.
The middle aged mocked and the old just gazed;
The children went away from her as if she were insane.

Suddenly she found a huge whirlpool gobbling people into the ground,
She couldn’t stop and didn’t escape and felt herself getting drowned.
She screamed with fear and let out a cry.
She could see the water but she felt very dry!

She floated to a river through the darkest tunnel
And got on to her foot and skipped over every puddle.
She did realise only she could see the rain.
She ran with fear till she felt her head pain.

But suddenly a soft hand with a familiar smell,
Touched her forehead and said “Don’t worry you’ll get well.”
At last she woke up from that dreadful sleep
And finally seeing her mother, she began to weep.

“Don’t cry my child it was just a bad dream,
I am so much near you and I shall never leave”
She then got out of bed and stepped her foot on the floor.
And asked if there was rain and tempest the night before.

The mother realised the mental condition of her dear daughter,
Who had planned to leave the house and had fought with a terrible temper.
The moment she shut the door and stepped out of the house,
She had fainted and lay unconscious and had taken hours to arouse.

“It never really rained nor did we experience a tempest
Your anger and impatience put your mind at complete unrest.
The rain you saw was fear and the tempest was your anger
Do you remember the fight we had over a very silly matter?

Your mind can’t bear unnecessary stress, anger and pain
You will only spoil your health and have no gain.
Be calm my child during any untoward situation
Think twice before you shout and always be very patient.”

The girl looked out of the window and saw the bright sunlight;
The clouds had disappeared and things seemed normal and right.
Tears rolled down her face as she said hugging her dear mother
“Oh I am sorry dear momma I shall be patient forever”

When situations are unfavorable remember to be calm
Problems feed themselves with panic causing great harm.

It is purely your choice to keep your fears latent.
Are you going to be patient or become a patient?

Angels in the scrubs

She left home kissing her daughter’s cheeks
Promising to get her, her favourite cheese
The daughter hugged her mom and stopped her cry
Little did she know it was a final goodbye.

Hundreds of ladies donned in white leave their homes and families in order to serve the rest of the world. Their hands bear the healing touch and their words light a spark in the dingy, desolate hearts. They give hope to the desperate and care to the insecure. They clad themselves with enough protective gear; not to keep themselves safe, but to prevent any kind of infection from their body to the patient’s. They are the angels sent from heaven who are omnipresent and omnipotent yet keep themselves subtle and humble.

One such angel who strove hard with her care and compassion, to make life easier for human beings was Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, though she had opposition from her family and nursing was a restrictive social code for affluent young English women. She was called the Lady with the Lamp not because she posed for a picture in front of a lamp, like the Glow of Hope, alternately titled “Woman With the Lamp” which is a painting by S.L. Haldankar. It is because she went around the badly wounded soldiers of the Crimean War, with just a Lamp as a source of visibility.

She is a “ministering angel” without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”

— Cited in Cook, E. T. The Life of Florence Nightingale. (1913) Vol 1, p 237.

The phrase was further popularised by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1857 poem “Santa Filomena”:[38]

Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And flit from room to room.

There was shortage of nurses in Britain and lack of hygiene. Soldiers were not just dying from battle wounds but from poor conditions. The incandescence from the wild tongues of fire was just another source of light during the war. She not only administered medicines, but also spoke soothingly to the soldiers, who had given up on their lives.

Today, in recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge is taken by new nurses. The ethical pledge is

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly: To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.

The Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday.

Nurses are angels and messengers of God. They bear the healing touch of the Almighty. Doctors perform operations and prescribe medicines. But it is the nurse’s hands that administers them to us. Is it even imaginable for a postoperative patient to administer his own medicines or give himself a good scrub? Here lies the vital role of these unrecognised nurses.

They may not have time to have their meal at the right time but she would arrive with the patient’s food tray just in time. This selfless nature of nurses is invisible to the eyes of the patients. We have always spoken high of the doctors who operate but conveniently forget to appreciate the service of the nurse. We take her service for granted. We feel it is her duty to do it. If it is nurses’ duty to serve, it is very much our duty to show them gratitude.

Pandemic times are marked with innumerable patients and unprecedented situations. Nurses both males and females, are literally on their toes, rushing from one bed to the other. Gender, caste, religion or nationality is an invisible factor. They only see the pain and discomfort in the ailing. They aim to either remove the pain or lessen it.

But we have a good number of people in this world who blame nurses. They expect only a female nurse to attend to a female patient. Is it sensible? When the doctor who operated could be a male, why not the nurse? Nurses are blamed if they have a small break in their nursing stations. When you have to keep your spirits high even after a 48 hour non stop duty, having a light hearted chat is not a crime. It is infact a necessity.

Nurses deserve respect. They deserve a salute. They are as inevitable and as important as the white coat doctors. They are the buffers between the patient and the doctor. A busy doctor may not be able to immediately attend to the pangs of a patient and that is where the nurse plays the role of even a doctor; wears her gloves, boosts her confidence and takes complete charge of the situation.

If the doctor is the Commander-in-chief; the nurses are the infantry. Only if both of them wage the war together will they be able to win against the deadliest war. A surgery turns successful only with the complete assistance of efficient nurses. Right from the preoperative prep till the postoperative transfer, the role of a nurse is highly commendable.

The calendar may bear a date for the international nurses day but the felicitation is more meaningful when we celebrate them in our hearts.

A nurse can never get a “WORK FROM HOME“.
On the contrary, she is always expected to “WORK AWAY FROM HOME.

Let’s make nurses realise, Being a nurse is not a curse
Let’s respect their feelings and not make their life worse
Pain, rage and pathos is a passing cloud for all of us
But a nurse lives amongst tears, among bloodshed and all the fuss.
She bears a sweet smile even during her most tormented days
And thanks the Lord for saving a life, for His miracle and grace.