A mother’s love

Her eyes looked at me, tender,
While she braided my hair, long.
Showering me with gifts as colourful as a peacocks feather,
She filled my heart with warmth and a song.

She gave me the best juicy cuts of mango,
while sucking on the hard, bare seed.
She bought me expensive lace,
As she darned holes in her old clothes, indeed!

She yelled at the teacher who punished.
She scorned the friend that ridiculed.
She loved her princess..
with all her heart, not an inch less.

Yes, she sometimes disciplined
And yes, she sometimes tamed
So her princess cried, upset
Forgetting her mama always gave her the best.

Now in a far off land,
grown up with responsibilities of her own
The princess, herself she reprimands
for not appreciating her sweet mama’s love at a time known.

Humbled, the princess sings,
Mama is a queen
strong and evergreen.
She holds us up,
she helps us fly
She makes the summers cool and the winters warm, aye!

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A golden love

Image  They say people always come into your life for a reason…to support you through a difficult time, to challenge you to grow, to teach you life’s lessons or to simply walk with you for a little while so you can both grow together. Some people stay forever and some only share moments. And others touch your heart in multifaceted way, changing your life forever with their love, kindness and eternal warmth.

Jolie was one such special soul. Steadfast, dependable, loyal, kind, affectionate and always the ‘listener’. She was wise and gave wonderful advise through her actions. My ten year old Labrador died day before yesterday and it feels like the end of an era. A ‘Jolie’ era. No, not named after Angelina! Jolie, for she was eternally beautiful – inside and out.

We brought her home as a two month old naughty puppy! She was playful and curious and huggable like all pups but like humans she had a mind of her own. Its almost like she could communicate with us and now after ten years I realise that she understood us perfectly and we her. I could talk for hours and she’d listen with her signature furrowed eyebrows expression. She brought happiness into our lives and helped each one of us grow and heal. Unconditional love took on new meaning. If you stepped on her tail, she’d turn around and try to give you a kiss; if you forgot to feed her, she’ll jump around you and give you doggy hugs, if you scolded her before leaving for work, she’d greet you with such excitement and joy at the end of the day. It was transformational. I have had a couple of dogs before her but she had a special soul. She came here to make a difference in our lives. We were all stuck in our different ruts and she brought us together again. 

Even the most loving human being would have left you with an odd bad memory but after ten years with this golden angel I only have heart warming recollections of her antics, her love, her gifts of kindness and patience. She will always be a part of me. 

I love you Jolie, you’ll always be with us. Like Mary Elizabeth once said,

‘Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there. I did not die.’

The spirit counts!

What makes people unique is their individual experience -all that the world has exposed them to and how they have perceived it. It is the only thing that sets us apart from any other human being.

One such thing that we all perceive differently is our community. For a person that has lived in the same town for their entire lives and gone to school with the same bunch of people, community has a completely different meaning to a person who has been on the move forever.

I’ve lived the life of a nomad and loved it! My dad is an officer in the Indian army and we moved so often that I can’t even remember half the places we’ve been to! I do know that I’ve been to nine school in twelve years! Being an only child, I found the moves exciting; a chance to make new friends, start over, learn about a new place and reinvent myself. It was always fun! There were occasional turbulences while growing up as its harder to make friends with teenagers than it is with kids but that was still a minor inconvenience in the face of all the adventures!

I loved all things new and in my case, my loyalty was always to the people I loved. No matter where we moved, those few loved ones would always be there for us and keeping in touch was a priority. My second loyalty as a child was towards the Indian Army. By virtue of being an army officer, my father was a patriot, but, he never overtly tried to instil the value in me. It just came.. It was a constant in all these moves just like the people I loved. 

When I grew up and left home to go to college in London, I was heading to a new place and there wasn’t ‘a community’ to come back to as my parents continued to move. So when someone asks me where do I come from I say India. But if they ask me where in India, my answer always has been, ‘my dad’s in the army so we moved around a lot…’. No single city was ‘home’. Home has always been where the heart is.

Spending seven years in London made me Londoner. I love the city. She helped me find myself and welcomed me into her culturally rich arms. Will I ever hesitate to say ‘I’m a Londoner’? No, because I am. However, the city still isn’t home. Home is not a place for me. Isn’t that funny? Home is the people I love and these people are spread across boundaries in Europe, Asia and the US. No wonder I especially hate immigration laws! 😉

So, I have the ‘where do you come from question’ nailed and I have the ‘where do you live’ question answered but I think people are very confused with my ‘where I belong’ answer. Its my definition and the human race wouldn’t be where it is spiritually if all our thoughts and feelings were bound by trivialities like space and time!

I moved to Detroit after marrying my husband earlier this year in April. It’s been a great experience – Americans are friendly, welcoming and fun people! I’ve loved their involvement in their local football and baseball teams, their local farmers markets, people paying homage to local products as opposed to the chains. Its a great community feeling. I got into ice hockey for the first time and I now follow the Red Wings team. I’m a part of this community right here in this old city in the United States. However, to me the larger human connection is ‘the’ community. I can respect other peoples local loyalties wherever I move for two reasons: it means a lot to them and I’ve always been a polite, respectful guest. I also feel attached and loyal to local causes no matter where I move. However, I believe, people tend to forget that the values they commit to in their own community are only stronger if they stay true to them irrespective of whether they are at home or away. We are all bound to do more for our own, it is our nature; but all people everywhere are our own and community service is a human value not a local one.

I write this as part of the Daily Prompt: Community Service

 

Lost Chances

I was six years old and I had a lot of time on my hands to play! Daddy was in the army and we lived in the apartments for officers. I used to play with the neighbours children but they weren’t always nice. Sometimes, they bullied me. I felt intimidated by how talented they were in school and how well they played ‘doll’! In those days, we made paper dresses for our dolls. Hundreds of them in a day! You could make a paper doll and then cut out dresses for them. We used to decorate them with colour pencils and crayons. It was addictive and Anna my neighbour was awesome at creating the prettiest designs…at least that’s the way I saw them.

I had another friend who lived across the fence in poorer apartments. I would go visit her regularly even though mommy told me not to! Her parents would treat me like a princess whenever I visited. They would clean their house in a frenzy, offer me their best chair (they only had a couple of rickety ones) and serve tasty sweets. Harika was shy, but she adored me and I truly enjoyed playing with her. We would play tag around their house and make doll dresses and laugh away to glory till it was really dark. Then her father would walk me to the fence where I would say bye to them and go home. It was wonderful.

And then, my mother took a break from her job and was around all day and evening and it became harder and harder to go visit Harika. We were also posted out and were to leave for another city in 2 weeks! Somehow in the last few days I only got to play with my neighbours and I didn’t miss Harika so much. Then, it was suddenly time to leave. On the last day, My neighbour Anna gave me a hundred doll dresses that she had made and some toys. I felt finally accepted by my neighbours and proud. While I was hugging them and saying my goodbyes, my father gave me a shout to see who was coming. Harika had walked with her father to come see me one last time. She had made a little doll out of cloth and cotton. It looked a little out of shape and was in patchwork. She came up to me and gave me that doll and all my snooty neighbours giggled and laughed at her.

Embarrassed, I took the doll from her and said, ‘is that all? You came all this way just to give me this?’ Her eyes suddenly filled with tears. She quickly said good bye, grabbed her daddy’s hand and started walking away. I have never felt so ashamed and guilty of my actions before. I quietly got into our car and let my parents drive me away. I wish I could have apologised. I wish I could have run after her, hugged her and thanked her for being my friend and giving me such a wonderful present. It was my greatest regret to be cruel to a true friend just because some cool kids were watching.

From that day, I have always been fiercely protective of all my friends and steadfastly loyal. Maybe it is my way of making up to Harika.

Written in response to the daily prompt: Explain your biggest regret – as though to a small child.

Living History

Working in London for the past six years has been beyond living a dream. It is a city for the young and ambitious. Dynamic and culturally rich, it offers something to everyone. I came here looking for work six years ago and was hoping to grow not just professionally, but as a person. And I did. I was young and in my mind, invulnerable to the cut-throat world of business. I had been brought up by a middle class family in India and my family ethos were that ‘hard work is always rewarded’. If you were good, you would only grow. Unwavering perseverance and dedication were the key to success! And that’s how I had found my initial break in London. 

My class had 22 international students, and none other than myself and my friend S stayed back to look for a job longer than three months. The economy was bad in 2008 and because of the recession the competition was insane. I had a low paying job at a small HR company. We were three people including myself. I applied for jobs morning, noon and night and probably received about 15 rejection letters a day! Being a foreign national, I also had the disadvantage of needing a company to sponsor me in order to hire me. It was frustrating but I stuck on and as luck would have it, a young start-up in the digital media sector liked my CV and hired me! It was where I wanted to be and my journey had begun! Oh the excitement and the sense accomplishment! I had actually landed a good job, in London, during the recession. I was all about the…’sticks and stones…’. I strutted and I blew kisses. In the months that followed, I worked hard. I was a flurry of activity and learnt a great deal. Two and half years later, a larger company hired me as their Marketing Manager. My dreams were coming true. I had a trajectory and in spite of facing an evil boss or two, I had self belief.

Being a manager was a challenge and I was learning how to work with different people under and above me – some annoying, some smart and some absolute dimwits! It did help me be a better person and I was achieving results for the company! And then one day, a year later, my boss asked me to see him in the meeting room. It hit me out of nowhere. I was being made redundant as a result of a merger with a larger company.

“Is it just me? Have I not performed well?”, I asked. Confusion clear in my eyes.

His hands shook as he replied, “You are great Pavs…we’re letting all support department staff go…HR, Finance, Marketing. CC has all the resources in place for these functions and we’ll simply get support from their teams. It’s not personal. In fact, I’ll be more than happy to give you recommendations wherever you go.”

I was numb. Its a defence mechanism that takes away my ability to feel and think. I got into the motions. I thanked him for his support and asked if I could speak to my team before leaving. I wiped my corporate iPhone clean of all data, emptied my desk, hugged my colleagues, gave a brave little speech and walked out of there. Still numb.

I called my parents and let them know and also my best friend who showed up a couple of hours later. We had a practical conversation on my plan of action (POA). It was multi-pronged and strong. We also agreed on the story for prospective employees. She left and I slept. The next morning, I dressed up and went to have coffee with my now ex-CEO. We had an honest chat about my talents and capabilities and he gave me some sound tips on companies that could use my expertise and again offered to recommend me where he can. I gave my thank you speech and left with dignity. As I walked into my house and made my way into the bedroom, it all came crashing down and I sobbed the afternoon away. Self doubt and the critical questions came tumbling into my mind…

‘Was it me?..’

‘Did they not like me and I hadn’t noticed?..’

‘Maybe it was the time I was late last week and the CEO looked at me weird’…

‘Maybe I wasn’t doing that well’

‘Maybe they didn’t know how to politely tell me that my work was crap.’

It was heart-breaking. I went through the usual stages of grief and stayed at anger for a definite few hours. And then the emails started pouring in from colleagues and other employees who had been let go. Some letting me know that it had been a great pleasure working with me, some in the same boat offering to connect, some curious and some demonstrating their respect. It was another defining moment of ‘growing up’. I was good at my job and I had positively impacted all these people, business was business and the company did what it had to – aka I was not indispensable and that was OK. I learnt to fight the self doubt and see me for who I was – strong and willing to learn and then I pushed forward. I networked and pleasantly realised I had built a reputation good enough in the market that I landed myself a ‘dream’ job in less than three weeks! Unwavering perseverance and dedication had paid off but I was also wiser to know that not everything was in my control.

I had come out stronger on the other side of the recession. I had lived through history and I had a personal but heroic tale to tell.

I’m writing this as part of the WordPress weekly writing challenge: living history.

Core

Nothing can prepare you for love. Even an abundance of love or an unlimited lifetime of it cannot.

I remember the very first time I told him I loved him. I felt a dam had burst in my heart and a river of emotion was flowing out through every pore of my being. And then he said it back and there I felt a rush of pure joy. Emotion over powered me. Nothing had prepared me for that moment; the moment I decided to love.

I remember asking him to leave and never come back. I remember waves of grief crashing against my heart as I pushed him out of my life. Sobs wracked my body as I attempted to rid myself of the most intense pain I had every felt. Emotion overpowered me. Nothing had prepared me for that moment; the moment I decided to stop loving.

Nothing ever prepares you for the joy, the grief, the peace, the passion, the madness, the silence, and the murky yet glorious depths of love. Each shade of it takes you by surprise. Each gentle stroke hits you with an unexpected force and each violent jolt soothes with unexpected grace.

Every moment, every single moment of our lives is governed by love. It is governed by our need to give it, our desire to receive it, our wish to play with it, our hope to grow with it, our pain when it disappoints, our aspiration to set it apart, our ambition to make it last and our arrogance to tame it.

It’s only in a sudden moment of realisation that it hit me..every action I have ever taken whether consciously or sub-consciously has been dictated by this mysterious force.

As I walked into my house today knowing that a whole evening of entertaining myself lay ahead of me, I hoped to be able to stream a new movie on the internet, read a couple of articles I had bookmarked online and chat with a few friends before I went to bed. Turning the computer on, I was welcomed by the annoying yet familiar icon of ‘no network connectivity’ in my activity tray. The annoyance quickly turned into frustration within a few minutes as my mind hastily tried to settle on another activity for the evening. Sadly there was none. I was left alone to my devices, with my own thoughts racing within the myriad passages in the maze of my mind.

Left alone, the mind truly is a devil’s workshop. A devil pumped up on many steroids. Left alone the workshop makes you listen to uncomfortable thoughts that do not disappear without the distraction of a television set, a group of interesting friends or the vast nothingness of the internet. The mind has to squirm and listen to every loud thought, a million at a time both dispersed and sharp. The mind has to distinguish between fanciful imaginations, horrific illusions; overactive visualisations and most importantly pick the sober most thoughts like singular unmarked stars in this cosmic expanse.

Left alone with my thoughts, I was able to pick out the one driving force in my life – love. Love connects our past, present and future. Some call it the threads of fate or destiny intertwining every moment of our lives, others call it karma but it’s not external. This love has a butterfly effect on our existence; from the moment we are born to eons after we die. This is the love of parents, friends, siblings, professors and people we work with and true love. Love is more core to our existence than gravity. We might believe we are independent of its pull but all of our decisions are based on a push from/to other people.

Thinking is our gift; it’s what sets our species apart. I would feel so proud to be aware of my flaws, to identify patterns of my past mirroring in the actions of my present without taking my thought that step deeper and seeing how it’s all about love; the loss of it, the desire for it, it’s scarcity and it’s abundance.