Showing posts with label Love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Love. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

I love you, but...

Do you love me?

Four words that can drive people in relationships crazy with anticipation.
To ask a person you are very fond of this question is just so nerve-racking. 
You aren't sure if that person loves you the way you love. You aren't sure if the love is real. You want to believe the connection is eternal and true. 

Has it ever happened to you that you get restless without that 'someone'? You know you are having the time of your life but you feel pulled towards that special 'someone'? 
Like that 'someone' is home to you?

Someone recently asked me - What do you fear most in life?
I pondered for a bit and answered - 'Love'
He had a perplexed look on his face. 

'Actually, it's not that I fear love. I love a lot of things in my life. I love what I do for a living. I love how I am compassionate, caring and sensitive. I love the inexplicable joy of traveling, I love the fact that I can reach out to thousands of people with mere words. I love beaches and mountains. I love the fact that I am spiritual and purposeful. I love my friends. So, yes. I love a lot of things. 

But what I do fear is - falling in love so deeply with that one special person that I end up investing my emotions, my time, my love, my self into theirs, only to discover they don't feel the same about me. To me, that is the greatest way to kill the soul of a heart. That's how people die before they die. You know you are breathing but nothing you can do can resuscitate you. The scariest part of falling in love is you never know if you are falling for the wrong person. And by the time you realize that it's too late.'

But how do I define love? 
Love is when you care about someone in a way that confounds rational thought. Love is when you want them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you. Love is when you give up praying for that person to be with you and begin to ask God to
make them as happy as they can be, that she finds someone that will treat her with love and respect that she so deserves. (Bruce Almighty, 2003)
And when you love this way, you don't stop. Ever.

Love is an unconditional commitment where you do things that are unusual, anomalous and irrational, yet you know you are bringing a smile on her face. 
For love makes you do things, and you know you can’t be mad at them for a long time.

To love others, you must love yourself. Love is action. It isn't transient. You need to make love work every single day. If you love someone you do things that translate into action. It could be the trivial act or a generous thought. It could be a message in the middle of your day or a call when she is feeling down. When you successfully communicate how you feel via your actions that you care for the other person, that's when you show you love her.

You know you love that person when you accept her for the way she burps, and can't imagine a day without her tonsil stones, warts and all.

People pretend in front of everyone... there are 2 people you don't pretend in front of... Yourself and God, but then there is the third one - Your partner. 
You shouldn't have to pretend in front of her.
She doesn't have to have the same beliefs as mine... but she needs to respect mine as I will respect hers. 
When you feel there isn't space for somebody else. When you can't take your eyes off her, when you would fight and argue with her and then can't party without her and then you realize - She is the one.

Does it matter if your partner tells you the 'L' word?
Many times today, that phrase has been abused and over-used. Saying "I love you." to someone is wonderful. But it's just words, meaningless words if those words are not backed up by deeds that demonstrate your love.

Finally, romance is captivating, mesmerizing, and fundamentally chemistry. It is when we have butterflies in our stomach. It could be butterflies everytime we meet. But it is when we let each other be who we are without fear of censure. Love is not wanting the other to become a clone or a puppet of ourselves. 

When I was in a new relationship, I'd write poems to serenade her. But then as the relationship matured, I realized my love was more than rhythmic grammar and verbs. It transcended beyond anything I could say or transcribe into poetic words. Love was what I was made of and kept me alive.
And you know you are in love when you sleep in the serene calmness by the mere thought of that person.

Now, that's what love is!

A special shoutout to Neiha, Sangeetha, Ram and an army of friends who helped me with their perspectives. You folks did an awesome job articulating emotions into words!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Do-Gooders | Manna for your Soul

A good friend of mine believes that the path to Heaven is by doing good. 
He is the typical Christian. He tithes, sometimes less but more or less as much as he can to make it 10% and wears Jesus Christ on his sleeves. He believes Christians are beyond reproach and if you aren't a Christian, you are untouchable and hence unlovable. 
In short, if you aren't a Christian, you are dead to him. 

How very unlike Jesus Christ!

But this isn't very far from the truth from the rest of us. I see a lot of non-Christians, living in multi-cultural societies, think as long as they 'do good', they will earn a place in the Heaven that God promised all of us. But then their definition of 'doing good' isn't unconditional. 

While many other religious books talk about love, in the Bible, the greatest of all commandments is 'Love thy neighbour'. 

Many times, we think 'doing good' means 'doing nothing'. We rarely mull over the consequences of our words/actions when we should actually remember that 'Love does no harm to a neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilment of the Law'. (Romans 13:10).

Christ during His time on earth, didn't discriminate. As news of His healing powers spread, people from Asia and beyond visited Him. He never coaxed people of other faith to follow Christianity, but He did preach the Kingdom to them. His parables of mercy and love inspired them. People believed in Him because they found a person who had Godlike wisdom with the talents of a magician living a simple life too fantastic to not believe. Until His crucifixion, His disciples believed that Jesus would one day become an emperor of Israel and appoint them as ministers. The lure of unlimited power on earth was just too much for His followers at that time. 
Alas! How similar we are!
We proclaim our faiths through bumper stickers, yet we are up the wrong creek. We are prejudiced towards religious fanatics who kill and destroy lives, yet we see drivers, and it doesn't matter who your god is, curse and swear at other drivers and pedestrians. We see people in authority abuse their power and to many of us, this is okay, because we are too sensitised to the evil in our times. 

The next time you are faced with a choice of action that will affect the lives of other people, pause and ask yourself 'Does this reflect Christ's concern and love for others? Or am I only concerned about myself?'

Doing good isn't going to take care of your visa to Heaven. And it isn't just loving your neighbour next door, but developing faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness towards that random stranger who may not share your religious beliefs.
Showing how wonderfully Christlike we are, even in times of turmoil and anguish, is the only way we can redeem our spots in Heaven.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The demise of a heart | Manna for your Soul

This is the month of love!

What happens when people fall in love?
Colors are brighter, smells are stronger, fragrances are arousing, mountains become molehills, you get the drift right..

But here's a question most people don't want to ask themselves - What happens when a relationship breaks?
Suddenly you feel a vacuum in your life. Your phone don't feel the same anymore. Its almost like you've died inside. 
You fall back onto habits that comforted you, but realise that nothing is the same again. 
Every bone in your body feels disjointed. Every muscle like a over-stretched rubber-band. 
You want to curl up in the darkest corner of the dankest room in your house and stay there.
You cry out to God asking for peace. Sometimes you just cry.
You want to be alone yet with company just so that you can hear voices other than your own. 
You have chores to do but any effort is simply futile.
You desperately cling onto fading memories of a dead relationship... hoping it would come alive again.
You dissect and analyse every minute of what happened and wish you could undo it. Even if you know that only means sacrificing the reason why you did it in the first place.

You want to cure that throbbing pain somewhere in the nether regions of your heart and intestines. 
Some people would want to drown their pain but like corpses that float back up, memories buoy. 
Most believe time will heal your pain and maybe it will. But what can heal your pain right now?
Prayer can. But like everything else, God cannot be rushed.

Why do relationships break?
People are attracted to each other because of things they share.
In the rare chance that you actually find that someone who fits you like that carefully-knit customized glove, don't let go. If you have found a person so alike you, you'd even have the same tattoo and the same temperaments, pawn away your ego and stay.  
The perspectives are varied, and the journey to the now was different. The dreams could be the same, but the paper to those blueprints are different. 
Your expectations out of each other grow. You expect the other person to be reasonable, patient, forgiving and loving. We want our love to be like in Corinthians 13: 4-8. We earnestly want a love that is perfect. 
Yet how many of us are really patient and hopeful? 
How many of us can claim to not be angered, boastful and trusting?

But the truth is - Human relationships are imperfect. Very few people can claim to be everything we are told to be in Corinthians 13. The only perfect relationship you can ever have is one with God. 
The fact that you are alive and reading this is proof that God loves you more than he/she loved you. 

Pray, even if all you can ask is for yourself. Because He knows you are hurting. 
Pray, even if you are angry at God for what happened. Because He isn't going to be mad at you for being pissed off at Him.
Pray, even if sobs intersperse your sentences. Because He knows the hurt behind those tears.
Pray, for him/her. Ask that they find happiness and peace in their souls. Because no matter why the relationship failed, they are going through every painful ache that you are going through as well. Because they need healing too. Because if you were with them, you wouldn't bear to see their tears, how could you let them grieve when you are not with them? 
Pray for both of yourselves. Because you both need the peace that surpasses all understanding. Because you need to heal.
Pray, because you can't be vengeful. Because it's much more satisfying when you let the person you loved the most go.

Personally, I've always believed in - 'If you love a person, let them go. If they come back, they were yours. If they don't. They never were.' 
My pastor would add - 'Sometimes, you just have to keep the doors to your heart open for a little while longer. And if they don't come back, atleast you know you tried and didn't give up so easily.' 

You could hold yourself back to shield the pain of a future heartbreak, but when the relationship breaks, you will be shattered. 
You may not want to feel exposed, but the truth is - when you are in love, you have already made yourself vulnerable. Because when you are in love, you are letting that person choose to love you as much as they can hurt you. 

My advice: Don't break up. Better still, don't fall in love. 
Romantic relationships are not for people who can feel pain, articulate it and write about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Don't leave me and go | Manna for your soul

When we leave our families, when our loved ones leave us, separation is painful.

This past week, I lost my son. Well, not a human son, but Snoopy was a son in every other way. He came into my life 2 years ago as a month old pup. Fist-sized, he was love at first sight. The little bundle of fur filled a vacuum in my life. 
He taught me invaluable lessons of love, forgiveness and patience.
He would pine for me, when I was away and shower me with love when I was back. As a pup, he would go through separation anxiety when I was away even for a few hours. Through days of conditional training and incentives, I gradually made him feel secure and less anxious when I was not at home. 

But when I lost him a week ago, I went through excruciating separation anxiety. I shuttered myself from the world. Totally disconnected. I simply couldn't grieve enough. I was consumed with guilt and questions of 'What if..'. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself. 
Many felt the pain I was feeling and then a good friend and fellow blogger said something that rang a bell in me - 'Snoopy came into your life for a reason. What was it?' 
Snoopy came into my life when I was reeling with a failed relationship. People who knew me well, understood how Snoopy filled my emotional needs as a father. 

He was my furry son and for the short time that he was in my life, he changed me in a way that sculpted me forever. 

I realized my shortcomings and my strengths and now as he is no longer with me, I remember the way he would look for me when we would play Hide & Seek, wait for me to wake up so that he could lick me again, wait for me to bathe him so that he could run all through the house and mess himself up, wait to be walked so that he could do his business and then walk me through the neighborhood. 
I still suffer from separation anxiety but I finally understand what the disciples went through when Jesus would tell them about His time to leave. In John 14:15-21, Jesus comforts His disciples by promising to send them the Holy Spirit.

God hasn't forsaken us. We have the Holy Spirit, just the way He promised us. He advocates and champions our cause. He waits for us, when we stray and rejoices when we return to Him. 
We have to trust Him just the way Snoopy would trust me when I would walk him through dark and unknown streets. 

Thankfully, we don't have to feel anxious about our unseen God. The Bible reassures us that no matter what, God is never too far from us. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Colors of Life

Isn't falling in love such a wonderful feeling?
This world has such excellent examples of people falling head over heals in love. 

So what makes two people love eachother so intensely?
Can it be chemistry?
Can it be shared likes and dislikes?
Could it be both?

Whatever it is, Love isn't impatient.
Love can be that gentle tug without your heart when you talk or think about that person.

Love isn't selfish. Because you give all you can and expect little in return. 
Love isn't lust, because when you love that person, you could go an entire lifetime, without lusting. 
Love is that soothing tub of warm water when your body is freezing. 

No other emotion in history can be more powerful than to fall in love, desperately. 
While you are falling in love, you also wonder if you are going to get hurt when you hit the ground. True love can however make you land on the ground like a cat.

So is love a lost cause? 
I don't know.
But this I know. Love is that cognitive elixir that can make everyday life a whole lot easier to bear. 

Can we sell bottled love? 
Maybe never. 
Loving a person can be the most noblest and the most fulfilling act a human being can do.

Can we conjure love out of thin air?
Again, no.
Sometimes, you find it and you will live the rest of your lives, wondering why you didn't meet eachother earlier.
And then sometimes, you don't and you will live with a person who is incompatible and has nothing in common.
To find a person who can reciprocate the love you yearn for, is the single greatest goal humans have. 

So what is love?
Love makes you grin a little longer and blush pinker.
Love makes your walk a little more livelier.
Love is that feeling of security and trust.
Love makes you want to go that extra marathon for her.
Love makes everything around you so much better.
Love can shrink distances and let you hold eachother. 
Love can make your heart skip a beat when you are together yet apart.

Take love out of a person and the world will be a cruel place to exist but love can make life that much more colorful.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I wish I ..

As we end another year of turmoil, sweat, tears, heartache, victory, sorrow and happiness, I invite you to think back into what is the most important thing in your life. It is not that promotion you got or the house you bought.

It is the small things in life. Family, Children, Time with your loved ones.
I invite you to read 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing' by Bronnie Ware.

Read the author's experience and get to order the book online here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine [44/365]

So here's another western import that Indians have adopted.

Back in college, I could actually witness the transition of how young impressionable Hindus make plans for 'that day' in February. St Valentine was probably the best evangelist known to man. It's interesting how even though I spent 16 years abroad, I'd never witnessed any other country take to St Valentine the way Indians did.

Valentine's day is just not one of those days which are good for geeks, loners and psychopaths.
A really depressing day for the single guys who've worked really (and I mean reeeallly) hard to snag one of them mamacitas, but failed.
A bad day for husbands who have -
a) failed to stay up awake and wish his wife/lover/booty-call a happy valentine's day at the stroke of midnight.
b) not got his wife the perfect gift.
c) not figured out a way to please her.
c) all of the above.

In a decade and a half, I've seen how a day that was intended to be day when tokens of love would be exchanged have become that time when insane thoughtless radicals attack those celebrating their love and when businesses try to sell off their unsold winter stocks and anything in red. 
Curiously, Valentine's day is exactly ten months to 'Children's day'

But it is also the day when husbands and wives discover how much they really know about each other.
Neetha and I love to gift each other surprises. We keep each other guessing until the very last moment and its simply tantalizing. I give her clues as to what it would be and enjoy the anticipation and joy that every gift brings us. Of course, it isn't anything expensive or otherwise tacky but always thoughtful.

Ofcourse, when you're in a relationship, you are supposed to love each other every single day but there's something about the 14th that makes your partner glow in a very special way. It could be the anticipation and the excitement, the blush on her cheeks or the twinkle in his eyes, or maybe it could just be love that comes from within.

One day when you prove that money can indeed buy you happiness for that day.
Because it is either the warm cozy bed or the doghouse otherwise.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Encounters with the other species [27/365]

I've had the most unusual history with pets. Growing up abroad, you'll always have the quintessential dog/cat/bird.
I remember we had Polly (a green parrot). When I was about five years old. Well, Polly's tail would stick out of the cage, so being the helpful devil that I was, would pull the feathers off the tail out so that the tail would not stick out. He didn't survive my trimming.

My parents decided that we would have a dog in our vacation home in India.
In comes Mony. Since the house that we had was quite close to a busy railway route, he committed suicide.

My grandma (Mom's mom) was an animal lover and that meant I've had atleast four dogs, two milking cows and a couple of egg laying hens in our farm. I particularly hated one of the hen. She would not eat the food or drink the water that I gave her, unlike the cows. What I did next would remain as the most talked about animal torture stories in our family since. I took the hen, helped by my younger cousin brother, bound it by twine and injected water using a syringe. Satisfied we were basking in the glory of having quenched the thirst of the chicken, we were about to untie the hen when my mom called me for tea. We left the hen at the terrace (which was the location of all our heinous activities) and raced down. We forgot about the chicken for the rest of the evening. Middle of the night, we were awoken by the gnarliest growls of feeding frenzy. All of us (plus the neighbors) were in for a shock when we realized that four of the neighbor's dogs were making a meal out of the hen that I tied up. Unable to fly, the hen had literally fallen into the mouths of the rottweiler and the doberman.
I don't remember the rest of the night or the day but I do know that I was never left unsupervised near a hen after that incident.

Many years later, when the fascination for fishes took over, I would smuggle guppies, black mollies and gold fishes in and keep them in a unused water tank in our terrace. My cousin brother was an unwitting accomplice in my hobby. We'd stealthily slip out to the terrace at the first moment of freedom and we actually managed to keep the illegal fish tank a tight secret for many months.

Then came college and my first brush with strays. I saw a pup on the street near my home and adopted it immediately. Took it to the vet, got it biscuits, milk and toys and even powder to kill the million fleas it had. I was in love.
But the love affair died, when my mom came back home. She gave me a choice - It's either the dog or my dad. Now, what kind of choice was that? I chose Dad. I gave up the dog plus accessories and all to a couple who was willing to adopt him.

Ten years would pass before I'd get my next pet. A cat.
I was not a cat person but one week with Tommy, and I was converted. He was a week old kitten, abandoned and needed a loving home. He was completely attached to me. I became his mother, father and sibling. A month later, I had to give him up since I was pretty much stuck at home because Tommy would simply not let me go. I failed to toilet train him and he  made my entire living room his personal kitty litter. Thankfully, my then girlfriend was a huge lover of cats and she agreed to take him over.

Having finally learned my lesson with dogs and cats, I decided I'd try birds, again. I theorized they would not fly outside their cages, would not make too much of a mess outside and could be left unattended for long periods of time. They can be kept outside and would not want to sleep with you in your bed. Besides, I'd grown up to understand that tails sticking out of the cage was actually fine and plucking them only kills them.
And that's how we got Pilly and Gilly (our pet Australian finches)
That was more than a year ago. They have since laid countless eggs, raised young, seen some of them die and some of them fly away. We love them and in the absence of human children have been the recipient of our parently love. They respond to our calls, wait for us to feed them and change the water everyday, loves it when we put clean sheets on the cage floor, and is super excited when we give them a treat food or material for their nests.
Our parents have become fond of them and coo in excitement when Pilly or Gilly puts up a show for them.

Besides giving us endless joy when we are watching them, they have also taught us some invaluable life lessons.
When Pilly (the male) broke his leg, Gilly (his mate) would cry out loud and be right next to him. She would feed him and encourage him to fly. Pilly was simply wasting away, unless something drastic was done. We quarantined and treated him until he became stronger to fly. Although we had kept them in separate cages, they were inseparable. They would come to the perch that was closest to each other and would sing to each other. In a way that appeared like how a mother would sing to her child. When we finally put them together, they were ecstatic. They indulged in the typical mating ritual for many hours. Hopping and grooming, they were like long lost lovers.
When Gilly was ready to lay eggs, Pilly would hunt for pieces of paper, cotton, twigs and possibly anything that he could lay his beak to insulate and layer the nest. Once the eggs were laid, he would take turns feeding her and sitting on the eggs. His love and the way they shared the responsibility of raising their young was incredible. They would defend the nest, eachother and their eggs with their lives. As hardworking as an ant in summer but with all the love that we as humans can identify, they continue to be the children we can never have. When the eggs hatched, we could feel the excitement. It was like a party every moment. Lots of singing, much hopping, so much grooming and feeding. The proud parents just could not stay away from their daughter.
But when one of their offspring died, they would not sing at all. As if engulfed in grief, they would hop around its corpse and nudge it, wanting it to move.

Whoever said humans are the only species that can love, feel hurt and care for itself and others of it's species is definitely wearing blinkers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mutual Friend [19/365]

Never far from His outstretched hands...
Many of my friends indulge in the ritual of hunting for mutual friends so that they can increase their circle of friends.
More friends = More love.

But being a Christian, when I see another Christian I feel an enormous sense of belonging.
I may not know that person previously but I know that we have a mutual friend in Christ.

Perhaps what they say about birds with the same feather does have an element of truth in them.
I've attended a dozen churches over the past few years, and have always found that every church as being more warmer than the last one. Non-Christians call this a calming effect that a church has on their souls. But whatever it is, Jesus ties our hearts down to that basic need to have a common friend in Him. As written in John 15:9-17, Jesus loved us first.

Every time I get to meet a fellow Christian, the connection grows. I always end up learning more about Christ than I already knew. The fact that we have different perspectives of what the Lord does in our lives, regardless of whether we practice it or not is what enriches me. While some are pained by the struggles, most Christians learn to take it with a philosophical pinch of salt to come out stronger.

With Christ, our mutual Friend, I know that I all the love I'll ever need.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Loving the Mundane [8/365]

Quiz time: 
So what's common between Roadies, MasterChef USA, Survivor, The real housewives of New York, Keeping up with the Kardashians and Maximum Exposure?

If you thought; Reality shows. Congratulations! You didn't get it right but so didn't the 98% of the floating population.
For the minority who did get it right, and for the rest who didn't. Its the language and the foul temper that the participants on the show exhibit. 

But if you haven't been educated on the 15 everyday slangs  and cant read lips already, then chances are all you will hear is a beep. 

A couple of years ago, the worse you could hear on television would have been the F word. Rewind a few decades and even the sound of a toilet flush was muted off. But hey, times achanging. We are allowed to hear the flush, aren't we?

The most pertinent question here is: "Itna gussa kyon?" (Translated: "Why so angry?")
Now, I agree we have always been angry and, sure I learned the proper way to say the F word when I was 19. 

I am reminded of Colossians 3: 8-17 (read here), one of my favorite passages of scripture exhorting, encouraging and admonishing us to shun all that which is uncouth. Back in school, my school principal had a rule where any student caught foul mouthing would be asked to wash their mouth. With soap.

But the passage is poignant in the way it exhorts you to act no matter what you are, and no matter what the social divisions could be. As privileged as He made us to be, as humble as He was, God wanted us to emulate Him. See, God already knew that we were going to squabbling over religion, caste and creed and warned us to behave.

World peace may be too far fetched an idea. Not exactly something we can do. That's God's assignment.

Giving thanks to The Man upstairs appears to be out of nature for the folks down here.
To many, He is the 'go to' guy when we need something. But are we the kind of people who can give Him a little of what He asks? 
BEP got it right when they sang:  Where's the love??

Now ask yourself...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stalk 'em

Recently when a close friend of mine was relating to me how her ex was keeping a close tab on her. I was hardly surprised.

That's what most ex'es do.
Atleast the bitter ones.

Orkut was a wonderful thing. Sneaking a peek at the photo albums to see who's been dating who and hoping that they are having a miserable time, even if you are secretly envious about the good time they are really having. Browsing through the scraps to find out who he/she has been writing to and hearing from.

Then came Facebook. Darn those privacy levels. Now, he/she can't see those photo albums and or read those wall posts. So, now you have a stalker who is despicable enough to be rummaging through information (mostly pictures of you) on the internet. However, despite all the privacy online, and with the kind of footprint that we leave online, it is only a matter of time, that you can find some information. Even if it is as mundane as a note about a doctor's visit. "Finally, some new information!"
Well, congratulations, Shortie!

Statistics reveal cyber stalking is prevalent in developing countries like India, where there isn't strict enforcement of rules that protect privacy of an individual online. I know a person who left a malicious yet anonymous comment on google maps against me in the hope that I would toe his line. But being anonymous online is misnomer. A little digging yielded his computer's IP Address, name and postal address. But this is the cost we pay for freedom and free speech.

Relationships are tricky.
The first times are always so beautiful. The first date, the first look, the first shy smile, the first kiss and even the first fight (aka lover's spat). All immortalized. Or until you break up, whichever comes first.

Breakups are a tight rope walk. Long after you unceremoniously dumped him/her, you burn with the innate desire to still be a part of that one person you should have never hurt and cheated upon.
It could be infidelity or simply boredom. Love turns sour faster than you can say 'Sufferin' succotash'. And it's all downhill after this. If you are married, you're headed towards many painful months of counseling (if you are lucky) or a divorce (if you are unlucky). If you are just a couple, you'd still go through all the pangs of a 'divorce'. Mutual friends stop being that. Gifts get returned/donated/burned. The memories of all the places where the both of you went to and 'did' it and all the things you did together suddenly begin to trap you in a vicious cycle of denial, hate, depression and anger. For the lucky few, the transition is nice and easy and the wounds heal.

For as long as humans crave love and value lust, we'll always have partners who cheat and all the trauma that comes along with it. And lecherous men and unrepentant women would want to spy on their former better halves and secretly want them to suffer but I've got three words for you-  
Get a life!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

When wives grow fonder towards their husbands and when every business worth it's balance sheet announce a 'upto 50%', then you know it's finally the Christmas week.

Christmas - Also the biggest week for Christians all over the globe.
Now, I am not against the way Christmas has been commercialized, packaged and sold, because it's so wonderful to see many non-Christians joining in the festivities. It is near heavenly when you hear malls play 'Halleluiah' and the Christmas classics around this time of the year. After all it's not every time you get to hear 'Joy to the world, the Lord has come' in a world torn by religious strife.

But is this what Christmas was really meant to be?
Window shopping for Christmas decorations, I struggled to understand how people wouldn't bat an eyelid when spending close to Rs 5,000 ( Approx $100) a piece for a single wreath and mistletoe. Now I am not a penny pincher but having seen how many people we have around us who live a day at a time, simply because the Charities that work for them have no funds.

Growing up, I remember how Christmas was about sharing, forgiving people who have hurt you and reconciling with people you have hurt, giving to those who really need it and sharing the joy!

While I fail to see all the hope and joy that Christmas is supposed to symbolize, I believe it's just a matter of time before we come full circle and begin to truly appreciate the reason for the season.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What do you need?

Part 5

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Given a choice between the two, would you like your needs satisfied or your wants fulfilled?

What is  your greatest need?
A new car? New home? More money? Promotion? High paying Job / Profits from business? Lots of clothes?

If you find yourself nodding to any of these, don't be surprised. So did a billion others too. Strangely, not many people would actually prioritize God in their lists of needs.

In my concluding part of the five part Series on what Jesus Christ really wanted to tell us without telling us, I am going to explore how we can have a New Beginning in Him.

In the cloak of darkness, we are said, Nicodemus visited Jesus. Now, we all know how Jewish leaders hated Jesus. He was a rival that threatened their very existence. Convinced in some way that Jesus does hold the key to eternity and salvation, he appears to have come to meet him out of personal admiration of the divine authority that Jesus possessed. Curious as he was, he wanted Jesus to teach him the way to salvation. Cryptic in His answer, yet poignant, Jesus told him that he must be reborn to be able to see the Kingdom.

At a time when Pharisees are hard pressed to be critical of His teachings and His followers, Nicodemus was confused by His answer. To many Jews at that time and many people in today's society, being born in the 'right' family, is all that mattered. Too many Christians think that being born as a Christian and attending Masses are enough to reach salvation.
Just as Nicodemus figured that by the virtue of his physical birth and his religious status as the leader of Pharisees that he is destined for the kingdom of Heaven, too many Christians think by elaborate prayers and measured tithes, they've booked their 60x40 in the Kingdom of Heaven.

O you, of little faiths! How far from the truth are you?

Reading on, we can also picture the shock and disbelief in the face of Nicodemus as he is asked to do the impossible task of being reborn. Jesus explains how a person must be born of the water and the spirit to be considered eligible to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Perhaps Nicodemus came to Jesus with an agenda to trap Him or to prove Him wrong. Yet maybe, he might have come with a need to be validated.
But Jesus's answer stumps him. Nicodemus struggles with the answers but goes back a changed person. From a haughty and proud Pharisee, he becomes a humble believer.

To all who come to Jesus, there is good news.
The Bible is replete with stories of people who has a need. We all have unending lists of needs. But are we really satisfying our Spiritual needs too?
There's healing available for everyone.

There's healing for everyone..
Faith is all that is required. Learning to exercise faith in Jesus and the willingness to humble yourself is the only thing that can save you.

The problem with religion is that people are constantly trying to complicate things. Followers are led to believe that they must go through a series of rituals to be saved. Jesus tried to simplify Godly living by showing us that He can do it even as a human being. Its doable!

'Here I am, Lord, Use me as you will'
Salvation is yours, the moment you confess this with your heart.

Missing you, Dad

Exactly 16 years ago on a day like today, my Sister and I gifted Dad a hand written greeting card. Themed with 'Lion King' stickers and a few lines of poetry that my Sister wrote, the Card on the mantlepiece still evokes strong emotions and lot of memories.

Daddy was the culmination of everything I aspire to be.
As a scientist with the Health Ministry, he was respected for his work etiquette. I remember filling with pride as I would walk besides him whenever he used to take me to work. I simply loved the way everyone would salute and greet him with respect. Even when he was unwell, "If I don't go to work, I won't be able to earn for you" is what he would tell me, he worked hard and never missed a single day of work in the 20 years that I remember. 
Like many of his generation, he believed work is worship and never switched jobs. Such was his dedication to his career that when he was called back 10 months after the first Gulf War (of 1990), he was only the first 50 expatriates that were allowed back to the war torn nation. We went through a lot more after that. The trauma of having to rebuild our lives took a severe toll  on Dad. He worked 2 jobs and so did Mom. 
Dad stood like a pillar amidst all the chaos. Never faltering. 

Joy of every party! Family and relatives still remember him for the brilliant jokes and skits that he used to mastermind at every wedding for the past 30 years.

Growing up, I remember every moment with my Dad, even ones that would be potentially embarrassing, like the instance when I asked him about sex.  He did an exceptional job because he went on to explain the journey of the sperms to the egg in a way that made sense to a 16 year old without embarrassing or 'damaging' him irreversibly. 
My family still remembers how Dad used to teach me. He used to make mince meat of my exposed arms. Unpleasant but then I would be the same strict disciplinarian to my kids too. Sorry Kiddos!

The only guy that ever really understood me as I was growing up, I remember how he would motivate me at school. Once having performed so poorly at school (Grades were everything, after all), he gave me an option of having to study in a government school or to continue in CBSE. Now, not that I have anything against government schools or the quality of education imparted there, but in my nubile mind, studying at a government school was equivalent to deportation. I was given three weeks time to pull up my socks. Three weeks until the 'model exams'. Three weeks to go from 3/100 to 60/100. That was the first time he gave me an ultimatum. It worked. I studied, like I'd never before. That I did get 60% is not the highlight. That my Dad was proud of what I've achieved in such a short time is what I still cherish.

In college, the distance and the experience of not having my Dad took its toll on me. I craved for my Dad in my formative years, but in his earnest desire to make sure his children had everything in life instead of planning for his retirement took a toll on his health too. Having worked two jobs for a good part of a decade, in a repressive country like Kuwait, away from his wife and children, would be the greatest punishment a man can go through. Having worked with highly carcinogenic substances as a Researcher, he became a victim of his job. A job that he gave 35 years of his life, signed his death warrant. They finished their obligation with a gold plated watch and a plaque commemorating his three plus decades of 100% attendance.

He spent the last 7 years of his life in and out of hospitals, his body battered with chemo but all the drugs in this world did little to dampen his soul. Full of the goodness that a father could have towards his children. Full of love that a husband could have towards his wife. 

He was still the rock of the family. He was all that I still aspire to be. 
They say that when your parents tell you something, you can do better not to ignore it. I didn't know this. I ignored a few of his advices, and landed myself in shit deeper than I would've liked to admit then. But he was polite yet stern. Never politically correct but always a wise Parent. Commanded respect when he was alive and still does much after he's gone. 

June '06, is a month etched in memory. I'd just returned from a short visit when he suddenly snapped a shoulder like a twig because his colon cancer had advanced to the bones. It was all downhill after this. He was bedridden because the cancer had already shut down his liver and his gall bladder. It appeared that his body was almost giving up. I was determined to be with him as much as I could.
I remember the pain in his eyes, even as he would struggle to sit up to greet the hundreds who visited him. I still remember how he would want me to switch off the lights so that I could sleep even as he slipped in and out of consciousness. I remember how on one particular night, he was almost in tears after having passed motion in his bed. Unable to help himself, he was in grief at all the 'inconvenience'. The person who toiled almost all of his adult years for everyone else was crying because he was making us clean him. I remember how he made all three of us sit up, and in his last talk to me, asked me to take care of the family. I remember how we wept uncontrollably together after that. I remember how he told my mom of how proud he was of me a day before he passed on. I can still hear him telling my mom to ask me to take care while I was on the phone. I remember how relieved and pain-free he was the night before he passed away. He had asked for his favorite dish. I remember how he said "All is peaceful now. I am glad". I remember how he told my mom to switch off the lights so that she could grab some sleep, an hour before he passed on. I still remember how peaceful he looked as he passed away. Something about how peaceful he looked in death comforts me and the idea of death a little more tolerable. 

He was my best Friend, my most trustworthy Confidante, my only Mentor, my greatest Critic and most importantly the Most Incredible Dad that I could possibly have.

I still miss you, Daddy. I know you forgive me for all the nasty things I've managed to do inspite of having been your son. I am proud of being your son and I am looking forward to seeing you again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not so tough now, are you?

Part 3
A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

A phrase that has been immortalized in Hollywood movies, how many times have we thought  we were strong enough to not stray away from the path of God, but have failed. Miserably.
Very similar to how Peter denied Christ.
The most famous denial in Christianity is something that has fascinated me every time I've read about the last few hours of Christ and his Passion.
As a child, I've wondered how someone could say something and not stick by it. I've wondered how Peter could deny our Lord so easily and to complete strangers at the speed at which he did.
But of course, Sunday School teachers won't ever tell us why he did deny Jesus or what Peter really went through post his denial. Most people that I've spoken to could not really explain why.
But the answer is there in our midst.
When Peter proclaimed his undying love for Christ and his wish to follow Christ unto death, Christ's response to him is quite different from how we would respond to, if someone said the same to us.
Very long ago, a girlfriend told me that she would never leave me and declared her undying devotion and unabated love until death does us apart. Great! I thought. But her 'unabated and devotion' to me lasted only for 2 years when she found another person to shower her 'undying love' to.
If only I knew then what I know now, I would have told her to measure her words and to use it only if she meant it truly. 
But of course we all mean what we say when we say it. Specially when we are in love. And I am not even talking about romantic love. It would be our love for our parents, our teachers, colleagues, friends or even movie actors. But just as the seasons change, our love fades and our words are just as easily dead.

Christ's words might have cut Peter like not before, but I dont think he would have thought much of His rebuttal. Peter continued about his motions of following Jesus, unaware that he was witnessing Creation's most incredible event. Like a deer caught between the headlights, Peter was 'caught' by various people, who where not even important or threatening, but caught at a point where he was witnessing a huge travesty of justice, he simply caved in. 
Jesus, looks at him. Not with disgust, hatred or anger. But with a look that has compassion.
Like a bad case of deja vu, his deep despair and anguish of having let his Lord down, is something that we have all experienced, most surely more than once.
As a stronger believer in Christ, I can now identify myself with Peter. I have disowned him many times, only to realise how foolish I am. I have resisted walking in His path even when I promised not to stray.

Having promised our utter obedience to our Lord Christ, how many times have we faltered and 'given in' to a temptation?
How many times have you thought you were strong enough to beat a habit, but caved in at the first instance?
How many times have you felt invincible but fallen to the gutters of sin?
Peter, however, went on to become one of Christianity's greatest disciple, preaching, practicing and living a life like his Master even to his death.

What is important is not how much you've denied Him in the past, but how much you are ready to let go of yourself for Him right now. 

I've realised that being 'born again' mustn't just be a tag that sets you apart but an experience where you realise that you will fall. How you pick yourself up, dust off and walk with a clearer picture is what will save you.

Part 2 here
Part 1 here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cheap Life

Last Thursday, I was involved in an accident.

Now, before you start to type in your reaction, I didn't have a scratch on me.
However what I did witness shocked me.

On a way back home at half past 10 in the night, I witnessed a fatal accident.
A motorcyclist was sprawled right in the middle of a narrow road, with his head crushed beyond recognition. Face in a pool of blood with his knee and pelvis crushed. Hands outstretched as if he was blown away. No helmet. Minimal damage on the bike.
A solitary cop stood by the side of the road trying his best to redirect impatient drivers through a four feet gap in the road. The traffic lights were flooding the road with more traffic, as usual.
Many motorists filed past. Not one stopped to call the ambulance or offer help the lone cop with the unending traffic.
Not one stopped and I bet not one cared.
Not one would have thought more about this accident or lost their sleep over this.
He after all is just a statistic now.

Must have been a law abiding citizen.
Must have been a loving son, brother, husband or father.
Must have been a hardworking employee.
Must have been a tax paying citizen.
Must have been a deeply religious man.

But he certainly didn't deserve to lie in a pool of blood mixed with brain matter and bubble gum.
If he was a VIP or a Politician, the cops would've cordoned off the road. But 15 minutes into the accident, no one bothered. He is obviously dead since we can see his head is crushed beyond recognition. His tax rupees might have helped pave the very road that bore his shattered skull.

I was deeply shocked though.
Reasons that were guesses. I reasoned that he might have been hit by another vehicle while he was speeding down the road himself.
I prayed, that his family be consoled. That he find peace in the afterlife.

I searched for the news of the accident the next day. Found none. But remembered him in silent prayer every time we traveled on the bike.
Two days after the accident, I found a corner in the local newspaper, about the accident.
Sharmil, our unfortunate victim was a keralite. At 24, he left an indelible mark in our lives.
Little did his employer know that he was not coming to work that day. Little did his family know that they are not going to talk to him ever again.

Questions unanswered.
How will the truck driver ever rest in peace? Knowing that he snuffed out a life so young. That could have had a lot of hope, that certainly had a lot of dreams and shouldered a lot of responsibility. Like Lady Macbeth trying to wash off blood off her hands, would the truck driver be trying to wash off Sharmil's blood off his hands?
How was a truck able to speed on a road that is barely broad enough to have two cars? And where were the traffic cops who ambush hundreds of motorists?
How was the truck allowed to escape?

Shuddering even as I write this, this may go down as a mere number on the statistics in the traffic department, however this got us pondering.
Is life cheap? Do we deserve to live a death where we are just a passing attraction or an annoying traffic distraction?
Or is it just because we are Indians. One among a billion where our vacancy is quickly filled up by new births.

I guess it could be both.

By the time I've taken to write this, India added 50 newborns to her population. But Sharmil is not coming back anymore. His family will forever remember the 24th of March, 2011 as the darkest day in their lives. 

May his Soul rest in Peace and May the rest of us show some respect to the Living.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Love thy Neighbor... Dirty his doorstep

If there is one advice that I have struggled with is 'Love thy neighbor'.
For an advice that is so simple yet in many ways the easiest way to resolve all conflicts, to love your neighbor is so difficult.
My neighbor is such fine example in my defence.
A family of 1, the lady of the house has a very simple way of screwing my mornings. She simply soaks my morning newspaper while washing her 4 yards of porch! And no, it didn't rain.
She allows all the dirt to flow so that along with the morning paper, I also get the muck.

Clever, I must say.
Vengeance had crossed my mind a billion times and it is so much easier to hurt back. But that is what Satan always wants us to do. Thoughts like: 'Why should we do any less?' 'I must show her who's boss' 'Two can play this game'
But what happens when we hurt back?
A few weeks ago, when I had the chance to go to court for urgent personal errand, I realised that there were tons of people there too. It's an ocean of humanity!Why are there so many people litigating and squabbling? 

Ofcourse the attorneys are laughing their way to the banks.
But if only we could set aside the temptation to retaliate.
All said and much done, it is difficult to not remember how hurt we got. It is like when you get an itch, you have to scratch yourself to satisfy it. And until you do, that itch grows to huge proportions that every thing else is less significant. We are led to believe that by retaliating our oppressor would feel cowered by our might,  would understand that we only hurt back because they hurt us first, and would probably hope that they do not retaliate back. Tall Wishes, young man! Because soon you are the oppressor.
We get drawn into a silly circle of revenge, vengeance and before you know it, you are the greater monster of the two.

I'm not going to wish for world peace and that poverty be wiped off the face of the earth. That's for beauty contestants to say at beauty pageants.
But I do hope that we learn to forgive one person a day.
Do one good deed to one stranger a day.
Give a little more goodness than you get atleast once a day.
Learn to step into the shoes of atleast one person you encounter and say a kind word, a day.


And, on the brighter side, if you start loving your neighbor, you won't have to love your enemies, because you won't have any!
But in the meanwhile, I am still drying the soggy wet newspaper before I can read it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 'G' Word

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Relationships are hard work.
I doubt anyone would question this, but why is it that many of us plunge into a long term relationship with nothing more than lot of castles in the air and a smile.

If what they say good experience comes from bad judgments is true, then I am sure there are a lot of people who could give much better advice than I.
But my 2 cents here...

Heartbreak is perhaps the worst injury a person can suffer from. More traumatic than broken bones and as helpless as a paraplegic. Yet, we rarely seek God's approval in our dating lifes. We are too busy trying to get intimate to our partners and we forget to seek His blessing and thank Him for the wonderful moments that we share. I've had the wonderful opportunity to experience how powerful God's love can be when we ask His approval. So many Christians think that we are being artificial when we 'seek His approval'. But I for one, don't understand how we as children of the Father should be ashamed of asking for His nod! Of course, He wants us to be happy in love and satisfied with the youth and beauty of our partner. The book of 'Songs of Solomon' is such a brilliant example of how God wants us to be passionate in love and honest in virtue we should be. Ask Him, He is more than happy to let us experience love on earth.

And then again, there is also the next step in a relationship. What starts as a fascination for the other person grows as a obsession and then before you know it, you are neck deep in sin, having thoughts that you ought not and doing things that you must not.
Physical intimacy is nice but where and how you draw the line is what matters the most.

Much can be said about the way the world is today, and about how our perception of 'committed relationships'.
Hollywood and in many ways, Bollywood fantasizes and glamorizes Instant Relationships that spring out thin air. Relationships where boy meets girl, girl tries to play hard to get, boy moves heaven and earth to prove his love to girl, girl marries boy, boy dumps girl and the cycle repeats.
Someone once told me that it is very difficult to find beautiful single women. But I find this untrue, because in an age where you have beauty creams that will allow you to look younger and fairer, shampoos that promise long and strong hair, and its only the depth of your purse that is stopping you from resembling a well dressed mannequin. (Pity they haven't found a way to bottle good sense and a gentle and loving heart yet)
Having witnessed dating disasters and relationship nightmares, I can firmly say that finding a girl who is virtuous is perhaps the most rarest thing. And then along the way, you do meet one and you know she's a keeper.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

In time, as we mature in a relationship and become more intimate with your partner, it is easy to be sidetracked from the true joy of companionship. Partners who let contempt and familiarity creep in, allow the satan to exploit cracks in the foundation.

As difficult novels and the media romanticize a modern relationships, it is impossible to be a state of constant arousal.
When you don't have God in your relationships and you know that satan is firmly in control when great expectations fail. Satan; the biggest mistake that a couple in love can make.

Like the intro for one of my favorite cartoon shows, The Powerpuff girls,
Add God to your relationship and everything Godly. Minus the temptation of flesh and the lure of lust, and you wont fail.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When the beauty fades ...

Love fails and beauty fades...
This touched me because many times, when couples are dating themselves they fail to see the pitfalls and red flags.
You could be in love with a person who is an absolute pole apart from what you are, but all the pheromones in the planet cannot give you a happy marriage.
But what happens when a successful long distance relationship breaks up and you are left wounded?
Ordinarily, it shouldn't be as traumatic as a relationship between 2 people who lived in close quarters.
But I know a couple who was in a long distance relationship.
There was a lot of connection, love and no end to the promises to be with each other.
But there was the slip between the cup and the lip.
Promises were made to move heaven and earth and all else in between. But when the time to act came, all were conveniently brushed under the rug of societal obligations.
I respect the girl who chose to fulfill her parents' wishes over the guy she knew only for a year. If only we had more virtuous women, could we overcome the many evils of our society today.
What started as ordinary emails being exchanged blossomed into something incredible.
What was incredible ended with a lot of trauma. Both of them suffered. All the guy did was fall in love with a girl that he had never seen, but felt a million times through the many hours of phone calls they shared. But when she broke the news, all that he did was to stay silent though within him he was shattering into a million pieces. Not once, but a million times every minute of every day.

That guy was Me.

When I heard her tell me, I hung up and cried, until the pillow was soaked.
Then turned over the pillow and cried until my eyes ached, until my voice cracked and the pillow soaked.
That's when a dear friend of mine expressed his sympathy and encouraged me to grieve. "But in 3 days, you will get up. figure out what you want to do with your life and move ahead."
At the moment, I thought he was being too optimistic. 3 days?! No way. Though it was just a year of relationship, I knew things would never be the same again.
But in 3 days, after hundreds of sessions crying and many many hours of grieving, I woke up and realized that I didn't feel quite as bad as I felt on the first day. Little by little despite the agony of being dumped for the 2nd time, my emotional and spiritual condition improved significantly. I knew that I died to my old reality and was reborn to a new Me.

I guess it has to do with the Death, Burial and Resurrection.

I recently met a friend who stuck with me, through the toughest and most excruciating part of my breakup. She didn't take the moral high horse by blaming either of us, but allowed me to retrospect and heal.
The trauma of a bitter breakup still fresh in my heart, I decided to insulate myself from plunging into a rebound relationship.

Not very long ago, I heard the story of a couple who were getting married.
Very much in love, as all couples are, the love struck pair look at each other ready to orate their well written vows to each other.
The pastor stops them. He tells them to trash the pieces of paper and to look at each others hands and tell each other how much they mean to each other from one heart to another.

This is what ails our marriages. In a society that glamorizes sex and promiscuity, we plunge into a marriage with as much frivolity as a kid in a toy store, but fail to understand that what we do with our hands is what keeps a marriage moving and no amount of physical attraction or tall promises can salvage a marriage.
No big fat weddings for me, because I would rather prefer to marry a woman, who respects herself just as much as she would respect me.
A relationship that is build on mutual trust and inherent understanding, where we don't need to talk to be heard, when a mere nod, look and a touch would do.
A bond where we are not conceited but implicit and honest.
Every man sees his second mother in his lover and every woman gets her first child in her lover
    -William Shakespeare
Having been love-deprived all my adult life, I have craved to be with a lady who would be a mother, lover, confidante, closest friend and most passionate wife. I've seen you, I've loved you.

When the party is over... the crowd moves on... when your age catches up with you... when the body gives up and mind gets rusted.
Love, Trust and Communication is all that you'll need.

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