Forgive them, free them

So a couple of days ago, I found myself wanting to cry. Phone in hand, I was staring at the whatsapp chat.

Why was I being replied to in such a curt, formal manner? Aren’t we really close? How?  How had her behaviour changed so much ? She used to be so cheerful towards me. Always. I was her confidante. She was mine. Everyone had joked that only death could do us apart.Then why was I receiving cold vibes that were strategically distancing her from me, pushing me to the periphery of her circle of friends?

I concluded, for the umpteenth time, that I am in one of my weak, vulnerable, over-sensitive moments, and that I am only imagining this. As my heart reached this conclusion ,my mind chuckled softly, wryly. For it knew, that I was really being ignored by a friend who had previously been very, very close to me and that it wasn’t just this whatsapp chat, but many other incidents that had made me want to cry. And such an event was happening to me for the third time in a year.In fact, I have even mentioned one such event in a previous blog.

So why do I have so many friendship heartbreaks in my life? I loved these people so much. The doors of my handle-with-care heart, I opened to them. I let them in. I gave them time.Made their problems my own. Made their worries worry my soul. Then where did I fail? Lying down on my bed, I consoled my heart with new conclusions.

The truth is, loving people simply means not expecting from them. So when I say,” I loved these people so much ” I am not really talking about pure, pristine love. I am talking about a love and friendship my generation is used to—a love that binds. It binds you with expectations. It is not a love that is healthy for any relationship.

I realised, that if I truly love people, then I have to forgive them with all my honesty. When you forgive people for their small and big mistakes, you truly liberate them. And also yourself. With forgiveness, when we allow the ones we love to choose their paths, we free them. When we allow them their space and privacy when they want to be alone, we free them. When we forget about the times they had vented out their frustrations on us, we free them. When we accept that they don’t need or want us anymore and want to move on, we free them. Freeing people we love,quietly, is true love!

By any stretch of imagination, mopingly going through the history of your whatsapp chats with your friend, is no declaration of mountain-smashing friendship. Being patient with your friend is. Well, friendship and love is really, being there when they least expect you to—with a forgiving, liberating smile!

So with this thought, and an insignificant, inhuman, electronic whatsapp chat deleted and erased from the memory of my phone and mind, I was able to console my heart. And if you yourself are reading this with fissures created in your heart by people whom you love, then try forgiving them. Try freeing them.

Hanbunko.

Well. I had planned a grand write-up for the 9th of September. Because this was the day I had begun blogging last year.This was the day I had decided I had had enough of my thoughts screaming to be released from the depths of my mind. At times they used to beat loudly at the doors of my heart, crying out  for me to free them. I had had them obscured from the world. And when I had blogged for the first time, I had felt relieved. I had vowed that I would blog every Monday at any cost.

But so many Mondays have passed, and I have been struggling to write.Earlier, I used to apologise profusely for not blogging on Mondays. But now, I believe I have slipped into a limbo. This struggle to write is not really because of lack of inspiration. I am always inspired to write. But the real struggle is, time. In the past few days, I had bitten off more than I could chew.I participated in so many competitions, so many events–that I could not find time for anything! For family, friends, studies, promises, myself and well, arty heart.

I have committed to so many activities, so many people and made so many promises, that every time my phone rings, every time I get whatsapp messages–a strange, unknown fear pervades my heart.The centre of my stomach feels heavy with stress and pain. I ask myself, Who are you disappointing this time? How will you apologise again?Hadn’t you cancelled all your previous meetings already? Oh God! You have still not done it . Why? Did you not have enough time you lazy, worthless piece of turd? Will she understand? She seems irritated with you, will she even talk to you? Do You plan to escape?

I do not have the energy to answer all the questions I ask myself. Because I am so sharp, so correct in my understanding of myself. I know exactly what my mistakes are. So, it makes it very difficult for me to face myself. My cruel self, which judges me very harshly.

Back from college, I crashed into my spot on our sofa. My legs were numb from exhaustion. Several hours passed away without meaning. And then, I suddenly found myself having some free time in the evening. So I picked up my headphones to listen to some music. And I listened to it. I listened to Hanbunko.

Hanbunko is a song I had not heard since a long time.It is a Japanese song by a girl band called whiteeeen. For some reason, I did not want to listen to an English song.English songs are rarely associated with genuine and honest cheer, they are always surrounded by themes of pathos, insecurity, loneliness, ignorance and pain. No English song I have heard in my life has actively, openly and directly expressed itself as a happy song,a song of cheer–in both lyrics and melody.

But hanbunko did. With hanbunko ringing loudly in my ears, I paced around my room and looked out of my window.Raindrops were gently piercing the water of the swimming pool in my society.They were creating small holes through the water and and it seemed like they were falling in with the rhythm of the beats of hanbunko.

And then, I felt genuinely happy. Motivated. Ready. Refreshed. Cheerful. Complete.This song, which my oh-so-mature self would have dismissed as childish and noisy on any other day, infused new life into my cells.And, dancing to it’s tunes–I realised that I was back to being myself. I was back to being the same goofy girl who had started arty heart without a care in the world. And as I felt a great, most heart felt gratitude towards it, I dedicate today’s blog to it!

Readers, I hope each one of you has a hanbunko in your life. A song that bring’s you back to your senses, a song which cheerfully reminds you who you really are!

Dear Amrita.

I decided to write my 17 and a half year old self a letter, that is, exactly a year ago when I was toying with the idea of blogging. Here it is:

Dear Amrita,

I won’t ask you how you are, because I know you too well to ask you that! I am the only one who understands you in this wide world, because really, I am your future !

At this time of the year, you must be busy worrying about your first year internal examinations. I know that you are really worried about how you are going to cope up with this new life,because after all–this is not junior college, when life was sweet and innocent. I know that you are worried about how you are going to cope up with a combination of subjects you are not comfortable with. I know that you are feeling a sense of ennui, a strange vacuum that has been created because of some of your best friends being separated from you.At the same time, you are excited ! You want to jump across like a childlike doe, to taste the grass of the other side. You want to know what it finally feels like to be grown up. You want to taste freedom. You want to taste responsibilities. And you are very,very curious!

This is indeed a bundle of bittersweet feelings, dear Amrita of the past. But let me tell you, you will get past all of these so quickly,so cheerfully and much more efficiently than you can imagine. Yes, there will be new events in your life. But stay calm ,focused. These things may be out of your comfort zone, but it is those things that will give you the thrill, the kick that you ask from life! These events will be the ones that will make you grow the most.

You will perform really well in the exams that you fear so much, and you will be tempted to think you are invincible. But don’t. I know I am being sanctimonious here, but just like you move on from bad incidents–you should also move on from your good experiences. Trust me, holding on to anything of the past is wrong, for the past is one big, beautiful lie. And living in it can be a dangerous activity.

This is the year you will make some of your best friends . But at the same time, you will realise that the more you give your heart to people, the more pain and damage they will inflict upon it during their brief and long sojourns in it.But I trust you. I know that you will breeze past heartbreaks, conflicts and pessimism to shine.

All I write this for,is the hope that when you start fearing the unknown, when life throws grenades of discomfort and you are ready to give up–you come across this. I write this simply for that time when you are bereft of direction and find some, with this letter. I write this, for that time in a parallel universe, where you will be reading this!

Yours lovingly

Amrita Shenoy, 2015

A day in my life.

I had an eventful day last Saturday. Though it wasn’t the best day in my life, it was one day which will be etched in my memory forever ( for reasons best known to me).

Last Saturday, I had no will left in me. I had no energy to wake up at 6:15 like every day and attend the first lecture in my schedule. For once, I decided that I would skip it. I had been extremely tired the day before and had been down with a weird,oral infection of sorts ( which my mother opined firmly, was because of stress).

As I reached college,I could feel a noise inside my head. It was as chaotic as an Indian fish market.The chaos was actually from the thoughts within:

You have not yet spoken to her about that article you couldn’t edit ! What if she calls you and fires you in front of everyone? Will they like the comic strip, the one that you worked so hard over? TWO EVENTS AFTER LECTURES today! That means I will have to stay back till 4:30…and that further means I will not get a seat in the train today ! A one hour journey standing ! But my legs are already bad because of yesterday’s peace rally !When will you get time to eat lunch?You have not started preparing for your internals…14 chapters in Macro Economics, the entire first module for Indian economy..You have also not met the people for the planning of the skit! You have not even started preparing for the personality contest you want to win so badly! The first round is a quiz..and there will be all sorts of questions..about distant lands, about people you have never known, sports you have never played and current affairs which never reach your ears..and the best part is that it is not a written quiz, it will be held in full public view! You wont even have the privilege of embarrassing yourself privately, you will in fact humiliate yourself publicly by showing everyone how disgustingly poor your G.K is and what an ignorant pea-brain you are! Amrita. If you don’t find solutions to all of these soon,you will be a mess.Wait.You already are one. Wait..what am I sa…..

And such were my thoughts. It took me some time to type them out, but only a minute or two to think them all ! And I must admit that they exhausted me more than the one hour journey to college.I reached my classroom and attended the rest of my lectures dutifully.After stuffing myself with spoonfuls of the rice I had brought to college, and a quick little talk with my friend Sarath, off I went to the first seminar I was supposed to attend.

It was on mindfulness and control over one’s thoughts. I shared some of my problems in the seminar and the speaker ( a Doctor) gently pointed out that I was indeed having problems and that I was gradually falling down the ladder. The ladder, I inferred, was a metaphor for a balance of emotions and falling down the ladder only meant falling to my imbalance because of lack of control on my  thoughts.True that.

So at that moment, I decided that I am not going to let my own thoughts be my illness and soon,death. I was again, very tired. Mentally and physically exhausted. And I had to attend another two hour long seminar. I thought : why can’t I skip this seminar? what is the worst thing that will happen to me if I skip it? Sometimes we can’t fulfill all our commitments..all our desires..Sometimes we have to know that WE ARE NOT GOD! And with this thought, I came home. I came home to vegetable biryani made by my mother. I devoured the biryani with relish. That moment wasn’t going to come back in my life.

My hunger completely satiated, I drowsily walked back to the kitchen to put away the plate in the sink.Drooping, sleepy eyes and an error of judgement was enough to drop a vessel and create a loud, ear-piercing sound of the steel vessel hitting the floor.I hastily picked it up and hoped that I hadn’t woken up my parents who were having their afternoon nap. Some incidents in my life are exactly like this vessel; hollow and weightless–but create so much noise in my life, I thought.

The rest of my day went by with my smartphone for company.And as I went to sleep that night, I vowed that I would change my life!

The hero and the villain.

Last week, India went through a lot. Our media had a ball. After all, they happened to have stories that could legitimately be passed off as news.Last week there took place, the death of two important men in my country.

The first, was a highly exalted man.A beautiful lotus born in a dark, murky pond called poverty. The one who made it out of this pond through values, ideals and qualities we read about only in fairy tales and corny blogs like this. A wise old man with a silvery bob, wrinkles of experience, hard work and age on his face. His lips spread in a smile so guileless,so good natured, so innocent–that he could be mistaken for a child. Teacher, scientist, missile man, activist, the former President of India, Bharat Ratna…he was given many an identity. But APJ Abdul Kalam was beyond these mundane titles. He was in the truest sense, a man one could not descibe in words. He was a force that the shallow couldn’t contain..a personality that didn’t fit in black and white moulds.

On the other hand, was a man guilty of having assisted his brother in killing innocent people. For twenty years, the fears, remorse,hope,madness and fury of this man had been contained in a four-walled room that was his cell in jail. He begged for mercy again and again, but in vain. No one could forgive him for so serious an error of judgement—-the one that separated so many from their dreams, their happiness, their loved ones. No one could forgive Yakub Memon for the crime he had committed,and so, among the chaos of much debating and discussing, much scrutiny and hype—-hung Yakub Memon.

So two men died last week. But one died wrapped in the Indian tricolour with flowers in his grave while the other’s corpse hung lifelessly on a noose built by the anger of the people. One died doing what he loved doing the most while the other died with crushed dreams of being with the ones he loved being with the most. One died gloriously as a hero with many eyes shedding tears for him, while the other died a villain, with the same eyes baying for his blood.

APJ Abdul Kalam's body in Rameswaram

APJ Abdul Kalam’s body in Rameswaram

BUMBLEBEE


Hello readers! Today, I present to you my second short story. I really am not good at writing cheesy, but do consider this my own take on…wait..let me not let out spoilers..read on!

He was so tiny.Actually all third graders were.But he was a little smaller than the rest in size. But very,very aggressive.In the beginning of school, she had only observed him from a distance,she had seen him giving all the right answers in class and later, shouting orders to his dumb, tall friends in the recess.He,she believed, was just like a buzzing little bumblebee.The sort who looked small but would sting people on their behinds.She did not dare (nor did she care) to know him better, she was too scared to approach the likes of him. She had her own little rosy world of herself and her two best friends who she shared a bench and her lunch with. And then,one day her life changed.

“You talk a lot!” screamed the teacher.

Bumblebee was being scolded for this offence for the umpteenth time.And before she knew it, Bumblebee was made to sit with her.From  the very first day,the vibes they exchanged were far from friendly. He kept pushing her things aside and demanded more space. She,on the other hand–felt that her poor desk was being colonised.And sure enough, he had made it his own within a week’s time. She always felt inferior and small in his presence for he knew all the tables by heart,he did all the divisions well. And she hated maths. English was her forte!

He was audacious.She was not.And he would often use this to his advantage, to have fun by twisting her arm. Sadist!He would make her cry at times. She begged, pleaded with the teacher to change her place–but in vain. The teacher looked like she had a masters in the art of foolishness! Couldn’t she see? She had made a most wide-eyed, defenseless child sit with a foul, devilish creature that appeared cute to some!

The only time she and bumblebee had bonded was when once, there  was a free last period.All the children had sweaty heads and their uniforms too smelt of cool,child-sweat.Some were picking their noses, some were asleep.Some had soiled,tanned faces due to the intense P.T in the previous period.And she was tired too. So was he.She was resting her head on the desk and humming lightly, a popular film song.And Bumblebee, for the first time, joined her.They sang for a while till he stopped to correct her.She noticed a little scar on his brows.He was flashing a toothy smile. His teeth were also of really small size, some, even crooked. ” This one is about to fall, see!” He proudly declared. Looking at that fragile little mass of calcium, she burst out laughing. He laughed too. And that, was the first time they had exchanged friendly vibes.

Her woes, however,did not end there. They ended only when she changed her school.

She opened her eyes, it was time for college.So many years had passed away in quick succession, like the characters from a season of Game Of Thrones. She did not really remember much about her school life. She only had a few highlights–First grade,fifth grade and also the third grade–which was made horrible by a certain troublesome mite of a partner!

As she entered the classroom, she had a few jitters. After all, it was her first day in senior college.Like always, she found comfort with two girls who shared a bench and some hot lunch with her on the rainy July day.She was completely at peace in the arts classroom, tackling away all economic theories and questions from teachers–she had stunned everyone. As class got over, she received a text from a friend from third grade. Apparently,one of their classmates was in the same class as her.Her friend had asked her whether she knew him. She didn’t know this boy,she decided, but she did inquire with others whether there was a guy with that name.Turned out, there was. This boy was quiet and looked somewhat familiar,weirdly. He was pleased to know that she had been in his school once.They talked briefly, but they were both finding it difficult to concentrate on each other’s speech. You see, a young boy and a young girl are always awkward around each other–whether it is because of their hormones within or because of the culture they are raised in,that is not known!

 As she packed her bag and prepared to leave,they gave each other a clumsy smile.And that, was the moment she realised who he really was! No prizes for guessing!Yes! It was him! Troublesome little bumblebee had indeed grown up!She was filled with a sense of alarm, but simultaneously–she could feel a flurry of adrenaline in her blood.She hated him, even now, for giving her so much trouble but she was really,blushing the deepest red when their eyes met.

She was feeling a tingling sensation in her belly.She didn’t want him to know who she really was, for she feared he would go back to his old ways.As he waved her a bye, she thought she saw him blush too.She didn’t want this. She didn’t want this.She didn’t want such a catastrophe in her young life.She wanted to forget Bumblebee’s handsome face, his black beady eyes  and the scar on his brow–the one that could be noticed, only when he smiled.

My ideas of being human.

I had three other topics to choose from, but I dismissed them. The truth is, I am intuitive and it is my heart that rejected them, not my mind. It is my heart that decides what is right for me and what is wrong. What is interesting and what is banal. Sometimes this heart opens it’s doors to many, without knowing the consequences of doing so. It opens it’s doors to forces that keep it warm. But it also opens it’s doors to fears and insecurities that give it great pain.

This heart can keep warm, the hearts of many others. It can listen patiently. It can sacrifice willingly. But can it stand up for itself ? That I do not know. But this heart is indeed very different from the mind. It is naive and forgetful. It often fights with the mind. It ignores the warnings of the mind. It loathes the mind for it’s cynicism. But when it is betrayed or hurt, it quietly acknowledges the mind’s superiority and sheer brilliance. It resents it’s own decisions and even if bitterly, marvels at the power of the mind in anticipating the worst.

source: google images

source: google images

And in all this, it is really embarrassed to acknowledge that it is only needy– just like the other hearts in the world. And all it needs is someone to feel for it. To not be indifferent towards to it. This, is precisely my idea of being human. I can be human only when I am all heart and am able to understand the hearts of others. When I am able to resurrect my self esteem by letting my heart heal it’s own wounds. When I can allow my heart to let in humanity in it’s most pristine form and not give in to the cynicism of the mind.

The above is a write-up I had written to apply to my college magazine. The topic was ” My ideas of being human”.