I Wonder….

I wonder…
Whose invisible hands are these
that have sketched the earth and the skies?
Whose dreams were those
that unfolded as stars in the sky?
Whose love is it
that rains as raindrops from the sky?
Whose caress is it
that blows as this gentle breeze?
Into whose imagination were conceived
the song of the brook…
the halo of the firefly…
this rainbow of emotions?
I wonder…..


The Golden Mirror


We live in a world of selfies…

A world where we care less about the moments we spend with people, and more about the pictures of these moments that we capture…where we click at least 10 to 20 selfies before one finally makes it to our wall on Facebook…where we are not ashamed to click the picture of human beings bleeding from a road traffic accident, oblivious to our primary duty towards mankind.

Whatever happened to empathy?

The next generation of homo sapiens may very well be a breed where empathy, sensitivity and the likes may be classified as mental illness, for they defy the norm.

And so, this is a relevant question- this question of ‘when was the last time you made a difference in somebody’s life?

Somewhere in the course of my life, I realized the difference between the superfluous happiness we derive from pampering ourselves and the self-perpetuating, fulfilling happiness we discover in our acts of empathy- those moments of embracing not just fellow human-beings, but all creatures on earth. It seeds in us a sense of contribution to the larger picture of the world and propels us to redefine the very objectives of our lives.

I have known AA for quite some time now. She is about half my age, and she reminds me of my own self in many ways. She is a happy child- bubbly, full of zeal and optimism, and perpetually enthralled by everything around her. Her passion for life spills into her eyes and makes them sparkle. When she talks, it is as if she talks with her eyes and gestures.

But it wasn’t surprising to me that she could go as low as she could go high.

I was at work when she sent me a long mail describing her state of mind following a break-up. In that mail, I could read the undertones of anxiety, dependence and panic. I could sense her mood swings that threatened to perpetuate and land her in acute distress. I was also aware that it was impossible to get her out of this state in a single setting. The first step was to make myself available to her. We agreed on making mails the medium of our conversations. So my first mail to her was centered on winning her trust and confidence. It was important to put myself in her place and understand her emotions and look at the scenario from her point of view. It was important to let her know that it was perfectly human to feel these emotions and that she had no reasons to feel ashamed of her emotions. And then, I had to help her arrive at what her emotions were trying to tell her.

We wrote to each other for days, and I took her through her emotions, helping her ‘approach‘ them and not ‘avoid‘ them. We talked about this particular phase of life and about many other things in life. We talked about our hopes and dreams. We talked about little things and big things. I also wrote a story for her. The last series on my blog ‘A Candle in the Wind‘, was part of this therapy. And gradually, I helped her shift her dependence from her relationship to more positive aspects of her life. Yes, the healing is going to take a long time. But I was delighted at her progress. I feel that I actually made a difference in her life by helping her discover herself. I showed her a mirror- a mirror that reflected the beautiful person she is. We share a deep bond now and I must say that she has enriched my world in as many ways as I have enriched hers.

I feel that this is all we need to do sometimes to make a difference in people’s lives. Show them a mirror…show them their own worth…show them the beauty of their souls….the richness of their lives. And at the end of it all, you can look into your mirror and smile at your reflection!

Life is short. Touch as many lives as you can. We are immortal only in the minds of the ones whom we have touched…our joys and sorrows continue to live in them long after we have bid goodbye to this planet.

Glimpses of Life

The most beautiful lessons of life often lie hidden in the most ordinary events of day to day life. And so often, we are too preoccupied with our own selves to be able to see them, and to perceive them. Life passes by, and we move on-towards some distant dream….some virtual treasure. At the end of the journey, we look back at the paths we traversed, and wonder where we went wrong. 

I shall quote a few examples from my own life in the last couple of weeks.

Saturday was a quiet day at work, and of the few patients that I saw, there was this elderly Muslim couple, who had come from a long way off. The man had come to seek treatment for some chronic illness that he was suffering from. The woman fascinated me, for in her eyes, I saw so much vitality. She was the picture of someone fiercely guarding the tiny flame of a candle that had little left to burn. When I was done with examining the man, I conversed with the woman, and we exchanged our thoughts. The prescription was a challenging affair because I had to strike a balance between the cost factor and the need factor, since they came from an economically deprived segment of society. When I looked up from the notes and prescription I had penned down, I saw her holding out a toffee for me. I looked at her with a question mark, and she blushed with embarrassment as she told me that she had bought it while they were waiting for the bus. There was this unspoken question in her eyes that seemed to ask if I would accept this inexpensive, insignificant token of love. I was moved. I accepted that tiny bit of sweetmeat from her and held it in my hand, realizing that this was priceless. The couple left, but I was speechless for a very long time. I had just been treated to one of the most beautiful lessons of life.

Yet another incident was also to do with workplace. So, we had this 8-year-old child who had sustained a fall and wounded her lower lip so badly that the cut almost split her lower lip into two. She was screaming, partly from pain and partly from fright. Putting the stitches was not easy at all, and the surgeon certainly did a wonderful job at suturing. Everyone beamed when the last stitch was through, and the surgeon concluded with dressing the wound. I had almost closed doors to that event, when I heard laughter. I went back to the scene, and I saw the nurses gathered around the child. For the child was still frightened. She refused to close her mouth, partly because the dressing on her lip intimidated her and partly because the memory of all the pain had not subsided. She refused to let anyone touch the dressing, and her eyes were still brimming with tears. All the nurses began taunting the child, until the child finally found herself distracted. In the meantime, one of the nurses fetched some ice cream, and held it out for the child. She accepted it, although she continued to look on in suspicion. As she slowly devoured the ice cream, the nurses kept up the taunting. The child relaxed and she was all smiles by the time she was done with the ice cream. I realized how unseeing we could be. The surgeon’s effort was so obvious, but for the child, what she received in totality was the most important factor.

And finally, I shall treat you to a vision that made me smile. I always find myself fascinated by banjaras (by their nomadic life), and I always stop to talk to them whenever I get a chance. So I spotted this banjara girl, sitting by the highway, selling bells and pots made of clay. She might have been about 20 years of age, and I found her strikingly beautiful. She was dusky, and she was clad in ethnic attire, with bright bandhni prints. She wore heavy earrings of metal, and also a necklace of black metal. She had beautiful eyes that shone with the sheen of her jewellery. I talked to her, and she told me about her life back in Rajasthan, and the dry months when the whole community was forced to move out and make a living from trade. As I left, I waved at her. She gave me a wide smile and waved back at me. As passers-by took in the scene, I saw what they saw. A city-bred woman, clad in a crisp cotton saree with a bandhni print, with expensive ethnic earrings and a wrist watch, smiling and waving at a dusky rural woman selling wares on the highway. The only commonality was the bandhni print and their smile!

A Candle in the Wind-VI

And thus, that phase of her life gradually found closure. She graduated and stepped into the infinity of the real world. She did not keep in touch with him. It wasn’t on purpose; the pressures and preoccupations of the next phase just took over. The demons associated with the loss of Abhinav had been laid to rest.
After nearly 2 years of that incident, she wrote to Abhinav, smiling at the memory of that phase. She felt nothing as she wrote that mail-no pain, no love, no spite. They met and as they sat across from each other, he smiled. He liked this transformation in her. He liked her this way, without the emotional vulnerability. He liked her for her strength- the way she had come out of that entire episode, though he knew nothing of what had actually transpired. She looked at him, searching her own mind for any residual feelings. But all she felt was freedom. The person sitting across her was like a new person- a person she did not know…a person she was willing to know, without any prejudices corrupting the perception. A person who may or may not be a part of her life. And the fact that it no longer mattered, made her feel free. She was able to talk to him, laugh and feel light. She put forth her slam book and he wrote for her. She smiled, and he smiled an affectionate smile. She loved this little slam book; it contained notes from people who had made a deep impact on her life, at some point or the other. People who had contributed to her self-discovery. Dr V had written too, just a few pages before Abhinav.
2 more years passed. She had been in touch with Abhinav, on and off. They lived in different parts of the world, and met occasionally. One September, a few months after she had met him, she thought back to their last meeting. It had felt good. Abhinav was right. When they had broken up years ago, there had been no real friendship between them. Infatuation had sparked that relationship. They were too young then and knew not their own selves. How could they then expect to know each other? It felt different now. They had met again at a time when they probably cared more about the companionship, than the direction their relationship was taking. Life was indeed alive with miracles and possibilities.
As she checked her inbox, his name caught her attention. She read through his e mail. ‘I am in love. And never before, have I felt this way. I think I was waiting for this person all my life.’ The mail was all about how they had met, and how love had taken him with it. She stared at the screen for a long time. She felt calm and relaxed. She felt good he had shared this with her.
When they met next, he was engaged. She wanted to hear more; she wanted to watch him narrate it all with excitement in his eyes. But he only gave her a long look. After what felt like eternity, he just held her hand and said, ‘Why are we like this?’ This once, she loved the silence.. her own silence.
For his wedding, she was not around. She opened her slam book and read through what he had written for her years ago. She turned the pages and landed on the note Dr V had written. It had taken her years to understand that what she had experienced during that phase of life, was a phenomenon they call ‘transference’ in Psychiatry. It had saved her life. On an impulse, she decided to meet Dr V. She made a trip to those premises that had formed the backdrop of her life then, and saw his name, written in bold letters at the entrance of his cabin. The nurse showed her in. ‘Dr V….’,she muttered. He looked at her quizzically? ‘Please have a seat. How can I help you?’ She was perplexed. ‘Don’t you remember me, Dr V? I was a student here.’ He frowned. ‘Were you? I can’t seem to recollect.’ She was about to pour out all the details of that episode of her life, when she impulsively stopped herself. After a long pause, she said,’That’s right. You see so many students every year. It would be impossible for you to remember each one of them. I was just passing this way…thought I would just drop in.’ He smiled. She rose, and slowly walked out. He smiled. She had unfurled into the individual he hoped she would….