Life’s lessons from retrospection

Life's LessonsA sense of peace has resided within me. I have been feeling it ever since I set foot in India. I don’t know if it was the travel or India or the fact that I am older (and hence wiser?). I realise that things don’t hurt or tick me off as they used to. Being born and growing up in India, I knew what to expect, both from places and people. I had made up my mind to not let things/people bother me. What surprised me most was that it wasn’t at all difficult to do just that. I was more relaxed and much more forgiving. As a result there was almost zero anxiety related to anything, however big it was.

Being back at places I have lived gave me an opportunity to remember old times and on more than one occasion I wished that I should not have let the bridge break. I missed a few people and wished I was more forgiving back then. I realise that things that I thought were huge back then are now of no importance. Most things turn out to be nothing with time. I was obviously too young, too inexperienced and too naive to see it that way. Now that I do, I have decided to not let things matter, no matter how big they seem. With time, we change and heal. I now believe in second chances.

Friends who were extremely close a few years back haven’t seen each other for years now. We lived in the same city but didn’t meet for a long time (before we moved). Now that I made an effort to reconnect and a few responded. We met and we picked up right where we left. It felt nice. I learnt that all relationships take a lot of work and effort to survive and sustain. Effort from both ends.

As I sit, my eyes closed (as I usually do when I want to imagine), I see my life, from as early as I can remember. I see the negative feelings I kept bottled and how they have influenced me as a person. Or, if I’m being honest, hindered me from growing. It now seems like a waste of time and waste of space in my mind. Have I finally learnt to let go?


Love yourself

There isn’t a lot of self love in the world. There aren’t a lot of people loving the way they already are. There aren’t a lot of people happy with the kind of person they are. We are taught to love and not hurt others. Why aren’t we taught to love ourselves as well?

I have struggled with my image to the self. I have felt inadequate and undeserving at the best of times. I still don’t deal fairly with compliments. It is an internal battle that rages at the worst of times. It hinders not only my efforts at getting ahead in life, but also eclipses the little bit of positive light and drags me to a dark bottomless pit of self doubt.

I don’t necessarily crave a comfort zone, but I have appreciated the lack of negative attention being a wallflower receives. At the very same time I have also longed for the rush of adrenaline a change or challenge brings. I want to feel good and positive and happy. And have hated myself for not having the courage to grab the opportunity with both hands (the threat of negativity and all). To get straight to the point, I have been afraid of judgement. To be fair to myself, I have been judged in the past. But to be honest, I am the one who has let it affect me the way it does.

Not plump enough.

Not beautiful enough.

Not fair enough.

Not intelligent enough.

In the past, when I received a negative comment, my mind would immediately go into defensive and then proceed to shut down. It was a reflex action, trying to lessen the impact of negativity and to protect myself from further harm. The more and frequently it happened with the said person, the farther away I drifted from them.

A simple comment like “you probably have darker skin than what suits that dress“, to my oversensitive ears sounded like “you don’t deserve to look pretty wearing that pretty dress, because you are dark skinned.”

I now recognise that it is more a fault with me, than with the others. People do it all the time. And there are all sorts of people. So expecting them to be nice and considerate of the possible insecurities I might harbour about myself is not fair.

Why I have gotten strong enough to make that recognition is because I have learnt to love myself. It isn’t a switch that switched on at a certain point in my life. It has been a very gradual process of introspection, retrospection, self evaluation that led to realisation. The hope to find a strength inside myself that I could pass on to my daughter. The hope to make my dreams come true. The hope to survive and thrive in this world that is sometimes too harsh than it needs to be. The hope to beat the odds and come out a winner. The hopes, dreams, aspirations and the ultimate decision of not giving a s**t to what anyone thought, collectively gave me the strength to be able to appreciate all I have and to love myself for who I am.

I have learnt to love my jiggly tummy marred decorated by trembly, silvery lines of stretch marks because they signify that I was once home to my beautiful, growing baby. I have learnt to love my crooked irregularly arranged teeth because I appreciate the fact that I have them in original, non-spoilt condition. I love my entire being, just because it is me, unlike anyone else that ever existed. At some point along the way, when I was looking for motivation, I discovered Nick Vujicic and I haven’t been the same. Initially I felt ashamed of having thought so little of my own self. And from there it has been a journey of internal healing and every day I try to be a little less hard on myself.

Loving myself hasn’t completely erased the fear of being judged. I still feel conscious when I go out or talk to someone outside of my comfort zone. I still have self doubt. I still feel insecure. But loving and accepting myself has laid out the course of healing, through which I can effectively deal with those demons. In the face of rejection, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough” I now think “I might not be good enough for them, but I’m still good enough for me and I’m willing to find out if I’m good enough for someone else“. I am willing to try, and try again and keep trying, despite the results. This is a reminder to myself to not stop loving myself, to not stop trying, no matter what.

There is a lesson in here for you, if you are looking for it. There is motivation. And most importantly there is lots of love from me to you, just for being you.

Repeat after me, because sometimes you just need to speak out loud to your inner self to wake up.

I will be strong in the face of adversity.

I will fight back when bogged down by insecurities.

I will stand up for my self worth

I will not give up on my dreams

I don’t care what anybody thinks


I deserve to be happy

I deserve to be successful

I deserve all the good things in life


I am beautiful

I am strong

I am confident

I am unique

I am me

Selfless love


I have yearned time and again, to give her the happiness, the life she deserves. But even though I have always been with her, I haven’t been able do any of that lately. It burns me like fire, when I see her cry every night, muffling her sobs in the pillow. I wander aimlessly just to avoid seeing her cry; hoping that if she escapes my eye, some of the pain would ease. Instead, I feel completely void and it hurts more if that is possible. My heart has probably shifted places, choosing her to me. Not something I could help. Hadn’t I always wanted it to belong to her? But I shouldn’t be so selfish. It isn’t fair to her.

Oh, how lovely she looked in those bright colour dresses. I could just look at her all day and still find something interesting in her every day. We were surrounded by such joy, I thought my chest would burst open at some point of time. I couldn’t believe the way she changed my perspective towards life, just by her mere presence. The crinkle of her eye, her beautiful smile, hearty giggles, everything about her captivated me. The time of the past, so lovely. And I treasure every moment of it. Because those are the only things I have now. I hold on to it like a drowning man holds on to a grassblade.

She doesn’t have to hold on to the past. She has a choice to move on and ahead and she doesn’t realize. I hadn’t thought someone would love her the way I do, until I saw him yesterday. He might not love her exactly like I do or as much as I do. But I have seen the way he looks at her, which says more than he does. He doesn’t expect her to talk to him or open up easily. But he finds ways to help her get on with life. That assures me she will be in safe hands.

Today my existence stands justified, or so I think, as I see the smile in her eyes through those thick transparent layers of fresh tears. She talked to him for the first time and cried her heart out, indicating that she trusts him enough to confide in him the pain and loss. She told him I had left her. Her words flew like thousand daggers at my heart. Did anybody give me a choice, to stay? Did that bloody moron ask me before he got drunk and drove over me? This is not my choice. Who chooses to leave their child alone in a cruel world? So I stayed, however I could.

Today as I stand looking at them leave my house to their house, hand in hand, some part of me knows things would be better. After all this is the man I had once loved. She turned back to have one last look at her mother’s house, searching for something. Was she looking for me? Knowing she would remember me gave me the peace that I was longing for. She exhaled a sigh, turned around and smiled at her father and I instinctively smiled, a hand reaching out to her. I know she will be happy. And this is something I wanted to see before I left, forever. I waved at the back of the van which moved away, and said a silent goodbye.

Note: Some of the old timers might remember this from my old blog. It is an old story that I wrote. I’m just editing and posting it as part of the love series that I have going right now.

Dangerous love


Dirty boots thudded on the old wooden floorboards, leaving a trail of cakey mud in its wake. He sees her sitting in the drawing room with peeling wallpaper, looking out of the window, as if nothing could stir her concentration, not his incessant knocking on the door, not his kicking open the door, not his dirty boots thudding on the old wooden floorboards. From where he stood, facing her back, she looked like she was in a different world. And that made him angry.

“Are you f**king deaf woman? I’ve been knocking on that door for half an hour and you sit here, lost in your own world, looking out of that goddamn window facing a wall. I had to kick the door open. Now I have to pay the carpenter to mend the locks. All because you decided to suddenly go deaf today.”

Was she crying? Oh no, what now? Damn if he could understand women. He walked over to her and sat in front of her, on his knees, so their eyes were level.

“Okay, okay, now don’t start the water works on me. Its alright. I will carry a key from now. But seriously, what if we were being burgled and someone broke in? You should pay attention. Okay? I know you are mad at me for last night. But I promise I won’t lay a finger on you again. You hear that? I promise. You know I love you, don’t you? I love you very much. More than anything. Now lets have dinner, alright?”

He rolled the wheelchair to the dining table and started laying the table, telling her about his day. About that awful, blocked sewage pipe that he had to work on that morning. About how he almost broke a bloke’s nose because he wouldn’t stop talking.

“Can’t a man have his peace and quiet while he works? Jesus, people don’t understand at all. But I know you do my dear. And that is why I love you. Even though you were thinking of leaving me last night, I knew you never would. I wouldn’t have let you. You can’t leave me.”

He gently leaned in and kissed her forehead, while her unfocused eyes kept staring ahead and her lifeless heart failed to register the love that he was showing. A little too late.




The happiness guide

a.k.a “things one should avoid doing in order to attain happiness”

There are so many things that we do that distance us from people we love or hurt them. We always take our closest for granted. We always say mean things thinking it shouldn’t matter. Is it really ok to take people for granted? Is it ok to treat them disrespectfully because they are the near ones?

Here I want to state some simple facts which gives a certain set of people an idea of what provokes/hurts/irritates/annoys/angers people involved.

1. Don’t force someone or emotionally blackmail them into doing something they are not comfortable doing.

This one is the most prevalent tradition in any society. People think love is to do whatever the other person says or wishes. By not doing something the parents or elders say, the youngsters are being disrespectful of them. The expectation that one will feel loved when forced is an unwritten rule in every Indian family. Be it force-feeding the grown up kids or forcing them to attend a wedding or forcing them to get married. The worse form of forcing is blackmailing. People say things like “I want to see you-married/grandchildren before dying” or “you will study so and so course only, because I say so” or “I am not sending you to work, girls in our family don’t go out and work, that is not our tradition”. Why do they think that the other person is obligated to fulfil their wish against their own? Even if the person in question is happy to do what others say, it is still wrong to make those statements.

If I am really antisocial, you can never make me sociable just by dragging me to a goddamned wedding. It’ll rile me up more and I might actually start hating social gatherings. Try to understand why I am saying what I am saying. And if there is a problem with that, discuss it and try to solve it, rather than forcing a solution of your own down my throat. And I won’t even go in detail about the emotional blackmailing. It starts right at home and people attach so many strings to each other in the name of tradition, respect and love that they get entangled, keeping the people involved in a snare.

Some people are what they are, and no matter what you do, they won’t change. Stop forcing and start accepting.

2. Stop lecturing, stop comparing.

No really, I mean it. Whats the point of hitting around the bush when discussing a certain point in conflict? Come to the point. I’ll either accept or not. But don’t spend my energy and concentration in giving examples from a certain family in the colony or a certain uncle/aunty’s son/daughter.

This happens especially during marriage/planning a baby. You should get married because of blah blah reasons and so and so got married at such an early age which makes him the best son ever. You should have a child at a certain age because of blah blah reasons and so and so got pregnant at such young age which makes her a perfect daughter. I am not saying it is wrong to ask them to plan for a certain things. But it is wrong to command them to do so.

And if you don’t do it comes statements like “Its my karma I’m having such a bad son/daughter/husband, that I cannot even expect a happy moment in my life” and I’ve saved the best for the last “I did so much for my son/daughter, I sacrificed all my happiness to bring him/her up and now this is wat I get in turn.” Believe me, people say it all the time. May be they feel it too, but is it not wrong to feel that way? They are entitled to care, respect and love, but children have their wishes and aspirations too. It is very cruel and mean to expect them to give everything up just to fulfil parents’ wishes.

Healthy comparison and competition is good, but more often comparison between siblings leads to rivalry and comparing to someone else degrades self-esteem.

Stop comparing. Start loving unconditionally.

3. Stop abusing

Just because you are my parent/relative/sibling doesn’t give you a right to verbally/physically abuse me. Give respect to get some. Especially once I am a grown up and have a sense of respect. As you keep abusing me, the respect I have for you keeps diminishing. Remember, one day I might even give them right back at your face. Be careful of what comes out of your mouth.

Stop abusing, start respecting.

4. Don’t replace love with respect

I might love and respect you. But not necessarily respect and love you. There is a difference. I can certain respect despite of all the bad things, but I can’t love. Many people can’t. So make sure you don’t expect respect assuming love will follow, it might not.

In case things are already sour, to get respect, you need to only give respect. But to get love, you must give respect, love and something else too to fill the gap. If you know what I mean.

But if things are ok, you still need to give both love and respect to get them back. You can’t get respect by just loving and not respecting. And you can’t get love by just respecting and not loving.

5. Don’t think you have a right over the other person, whoever that might be.

Everybody has their life. They are entitled to one. No one person has a right over any other person. We have right over only things, not living beings. Esp. not living beings which can think. You might have helped them, why, you might have even saved their life too, but that doesn’t entitle you a right over them. You might have given birth, but you won’t have a right over the children. You might be best of friends ever, but you can’t control their lives. Everybody is entitled to live their life the way they want, you can guide, suggest and advice, but you cannot live your life through them or control how their live their life.

Stop living through others’ lives. Make a life of your own.

6. Learn to let go

People are not things that you can always keep with you. If they stay, well and good. If they decide to move on, it’s their wish. You have to learn to let go to be happy. This might just be the hardest thing for parents. Some cry over their children for a long time, some just stop living, some always think of old times, some try hard to hold on to their drifting children. Here I don’t mean kids who leave their parents to go settle abroad. Though, there too letting go helps.

I am actually talking about children growing wings and getting out of the nest to make something out of their lives. The parents might not feature regularly in the children’s new life, but they still love and cherish their childhood. And still visit parents for holidays. It is same for children who expect their parents to be available at all junctures of life. Like having someone around to take care of the house and children. They might like it or not, but it is not their duty. Their duty ended the day you made a life of your own. Now they stand behind and guide you at crucial moments. They might just choose to retire for a leisurely life, unburdened.

Let them go. Don’t hold people against their will.

7. Don’t hold others responsible for your happiness

The main reason for sorrow are expectations. People become sad that something they expected didn’t happen. That someone didn’t behave as they expected. That their son/daughter/wife/husband didn’t treat them like they expected. This one always hurts the most. So try not to expect. It is really difficult not to expect all the time, but with conscious effort one can successfully stop expecting in most scenarios. Trust me, I’ve done this and I’m happy most of the time.

Remember, nobody but yourself is responsible for your own happiness.

A tribute to my first mother

I have troubled her so much, all my life. She has never yelled at me. Not once. She has always been that idol of kindness and love for me. I am sure many who knew her have similar stories to share. But I like to think mine is special.

I used to see her help my mother in the kitchen. They would finish cooking and sit down for a foot massage. Yes, it was a daily ritual. Every evening after cooking food, my mom would massage her tired heels. She never cared enough for herself, always trying to find someone who could do with her help. She was constantly in and out of the house, mostly because of others’ problems. We had to literally pull her down on a chair and hold her to give some respite to the dog tired legs and feet.

She worried about my mom endlessly. I could never understand the bond they shared, like the soul sisters who were not actually sisters. She would always bring exotic food for us, especially for mother, whenever she went out for dinner. I got my share of new clothes and toys from her. She was my tutor too. I learned science, geography and a lot about English from her. I’m writing today because of her dedication, to get me education, so I could make something out of my life.

And make I did. Now I am a writer and a journalist. I see people’s troubles and write about it. I try to help them as much as I can. She might not have been my mother, but I got all these traits from her.

In every way, I can call her my first mother and my own, my second. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my mother. I did, but I loved her more. She had no reason to look after us like she did. But, she invested a lot of time, money and effort to get me where I now am. She still treats me like a kid, gifting me new clothes and cooking something good for me, whenever I visit.

Now, who would do that for a house-maid’s daughter?