Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for . . . Zest


Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
Ah, mis hijos,

We've reached the ultimate letter of the English alphabet. It's time to wrap up this edition of the ABCs and, fittingly, we have with us Z for Zip to help us finish it well. Today I will tell you about another Z that has the same capacity to wrap things up. That word is Zest and it is a magic ingredient which helps us to finish what we start.

So often in life we rush headlong into things, and then find ourselves feeling listless halfway through the exercise. That is when we realise that well begun may be half done, but that half done is of no use to anyone, unless you are talking about a half fried egg. 

In order to invite zest into your life, all you have to do is to act as though you truly feel it, as though Zest is the most important guest on your invitee list. And Zest will come. 

When you do the things that you have to with enthusiasm and zest, it serves as the grease which helps the little wheels move smoothly and faster.

Zest is not only a way of doing things, it is also a way of living life. Whatever you do, do with zest. No matter how far things veer off the path for you, don't lose your faith that this is part of the journey and that it will all come right in the end.



My wish for you is that there may be plenty of room for zest and enthusiasm in your life. That zest may light up your life and keep your spirit rocking always.

What more does a mother want?

Lots of love,

Mamma


PS. Mamma's lessons aren't over. There's a lot more that is worth learning and remembering. We'll catch up.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for . . . Youthfulness

Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
Mis bébes,
Welcome back. We've nearly reached the end of the English alphabet with Y for Yearbook. 

A yearbook is a book that students graduating out of school or college lay great store by. It consists of pictures and information relating to the students in the class that year and the activities they participated in. It helps you look back nostalgically on what are often described as the best years of your life.

Reminiscing about the "best years" is very well, but it should not degenerate into regrets about the lost glories of the past. 

La Niña and El Niño, you've turned five and two respectively in the last month. Yearbooks don't mean much to you, and the other Y word that I am linking it to is not one that you're likely to lose sleep over. 

You're at that age when the world seems brighter and more colourful. Your eyes are filled with hope, not cynicism, enthusiasm, not despair, trust, not suspicion. And that is why I think this is the best time to talk to you about another Y, Youthfulness

Our world is rigged such that our self-esteem is inextricably intertwined with our perceptions of how young we look, how youthful others imagine we are. People go to extreme lengths in order to look young, to cling to their youth. 

My darlings, today you can't wait to grow older. You count your age with joy, greedily adding the halves and quarters. But in some years, you'll be wondering where the years have gone. And you'll take great offence if someone assumes that you are older than you are, conversely delighting in being seen as younger. It's a natural feeling. I've felt that way sometimes.

One of the reasons why people long for youthfulness is because of the ravages that life and age wreak on the body. Receding hairlines, grey hair, weight in all the wrong places, wrinkles, tired, drawn out faces, eyes whose vision begins to get blurred — these are the symptoms that we suffer, symptoms that peddlers of beauty products and health prescriptions try to capitalise on. Your own mamma's body is sagging from the stress of two C-section surgeries, and from nursing you two, but would I have it any other way? 

I think you should make an attempt to look nice and presentable always. But don't feel compelled to peer down the mouths of bottles and tubes to enhance your assets and hide your flaws. The elixir of beauty and eternal youth is a myth. And I've told you before about your uniqueness and the beauty of your heart and soul.

There are better ways of rejuvenating yourself. Read with an insatiable appetite. Be interested in people, without intruding into their lives. Smile often and laugh louder; giggle if you can. Keep dreaming, and if a dream fails, find another. Those are foolproof ways to stay youthful.




My wish for you is that you may take greater pains to preserve the youthfulness of your mind and heart. Don't bother much about the calendar, nor sweat about the passing of the years. Don't give up your faith or your beliefs. You'll have a spring in your step that those half your age and younger don't have.

That's all for today. We'll grab some ZZZs tomorrow.



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: SALVATION OF A SAINT

Book: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 377







His previous novel, The Devotion of Suspect X, left me feeling unusually horrified. It left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth that I can still recall, even though it's been over 11 months since I read it. In contrast, Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino tries hard to achieve the same effect without as much success.

As in the previous book, love, and the loss of it, plays an important role here too. Yoshitaka Mashiba, a rich businessman, announces his decision to divorce his wife, Ayane Mita, a famous patchwork artist, for her failure to conceive within a year of marriage. It is not a betrayal since Mashiba had made it clear at the beginning that he was marrying for the sake of fathering a child.

The unhappy Ayane, suspicious that her husband may be having an affair with her apprentice Hiromi Wakayama, leaves for her parents' home saying that her father is ill. A day later, Mashiba is found poisoned to death in his sprawling home. 

The body is discovered by Hiromi, and for a while it seems as if she were the killer. But very soon it becomes evident that Ayane is the only one with a motive, even as the clues all point out to her. But the fact that she was hundreds of miles away raises doubts as to her complicity in the crime.

When Detective Kusanagi develops feelings for Ayane, he shuts himself to all indications of her guilt, preferring to lay the blame on the other characters in the drama. His junior, Utsumi, however, is convinced of Ayane's crime and seeks the help of Manaba Yukawa, a physics professor and amateur sleuth, popularly known as Detective Galileo, to solve the mystery.

Both this novel and the previous one begin in the same way. The murder happens early on, and we are left in no doubt as to the identity of the murderer. The only mystery concerns how the deed was done, and in this we are as much in the dark as the esteemed personnel of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

This novel didn't quite touch me the way The Devotion had. Nor was the culture of Japan — details that helped the locale to grow on you — as evident here as it was in the previous novel. I also felt that this novel slipped up a little in the second last chapter when the author embarks on a flashback. 

But the book has its strengths. The beauty of the murderer is that even after the truth about how the murder was committed becomes known to us, we still find it difficult to believe that she could have done the deed or that such an elegant and beautiful woman as Ayane could have thought of what is very clearly the perfect crime.

The most horrendous murders are not those that hit the headlines, but those that remain unsolved and unsolvable, wrapped as they are in their cloak of domesticity and ordinariness. The murder in Salvation of a Saint is like that.

Not quite in the class of Higashino's earlier book, this one is still a fantastic read.








Sign up for the Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. and get free books! Participate now!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for . . . Xenodochial

Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
My dearest darlings,
In your book, X is for Xylophone. You have a toy one. Each wooden bar is of a different colour, seemingly a stranger to the other, and yet they resound together and make sweet music.


They stand together, their arms around each other's shoulders, propping each other up. And they remind me of a word that I want to draw your attention to. Xenodochial is a word of Greek origin and means being hospitable or kindly to strangers.


We are all strangers at some time or the other. Strangers in a foreign land, strangers in our own land, feeling lost and helpless. We've stepped out of the comfort of our homes, where they know us and put up with our quirks. We are unsure of what to do, and we hope someone will notice our predicament and help us.


Yes, we are all strangers sometimes.


I remember an act of kindness done to your Uncle A. He was standing in queue, waiting to pay his fees and secure his admission to an engineering college. Suddenly he received the news that the final amount to be paid was Rs X, as opposed to Rs Y, as intimated earlier. He found himself short of a few thousand rupees. And it was the last day of the admission procedure.


Those were the late '80s. There were very few ATMs around. Your Uncle A had no option but to return home and wait for your Papa to go to the bank and withdraw money. There was no way he would be able to retain his admission.


Of course, Papa was at work, and the rest of us were at home, so we had no idea about the insecurities and fears that suddenly took a stranglehold of him.


And yet he came home, bursting with joy.


Apparently, the mother of a fellow applicant standing by in the queue offered to pay the balance for him. Just like that. It was a big amount in those days. And yet she offered to pay it. Of course, Uncle A repaid the money once college began.


I often think of that woman. Of her large heart and her act of kindness for a total stranger. Of the way she gave without worrying about whether she would see her money again.


There are many kinds of kindness. Some require us to part with our money, others require our time or our energy. Sometimes they may brighten someone's day. Or they may alter someone's life.


Every day, we face numerous opportunities to help someone we don't know. Someone who may or may not be in a position to repay our kindness.


Are we ready to give without hesitation?



My wish for you is that you may never forget that we are all in need of kindness. And as He said, the measure we give is the measure in which we will get.


That's all for this week.


I'll see you on Monday. Meanwhile, we'll read our much-thumbed Winnie the Pooh together, and you, my darlings, can teach me to laugh until my sides hurt.


Lots and lots of love,



Mamma








Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for . . . Wealth


Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
My dear darlings,
W is for Well in your book. You've only seen a well in pictures. But a well is a very handy source of water for people in many parts of the world. When I was a kid, we used to spend our annual summer vacations in our ancestral home in Goa. Most people had a water well in their backyards. We didn't but we were always invited by our neighbours to draw from their wells.


I would enjoy drawing water from the well. Our neighbours were always amused at the sight of a city-bred girl taking such delight in so simple a chore. Somehow the water I drew out with my own effort always tasted sweeter. Or so I thought. That experience reminds me of today's lesson on Wealth.


I hope you always equate your true wealth with that which you have had to earn through sweat and effort. The water will taste sweeter. If you allow yourself to love money for its own sake, the water will never satisfy your thirst.


As a mother, I would like to see you settled financially. Money matters. But there are things that matter even more than money, and I don't want to see you unsettled regarding those.


I hope you never go hungry; that you always have bread to eat. And butter and jam too, and cake, when you want to celebrate the big and small milestones of life. But don't forget, my sweets, that the humblest meal, when you are hungry, can satisfy you more than caviar and champagne, and the biggest six-course spread.


Don't let your wealth be a measure of the gold and silver and the minted and printed currency you own. There are other kinds of wealth that will bring you more joy.


No matter how much money you have, may you count your true wealth as your family, your health, your faith, your memories, your physical strength and mental faculties, and the privilege of restful sleep after a hard day's work.


Your papa raised us to believe that a large library was also an indication of wealth. As was a happy family. And friendships. And happy marriages. And joy in the heart. When we were kids, he always encouraged us to learn newer things, insisting that learning was true wealth that never depreciated over time.


These are the things that no one can take away from you. These are the things that will last long after you lose money on the stock market. Inflation has no power over them.


I hope you earn your money through your own effort and hard work, but never at the cost of someone else's health and welfare.


Another thing, remember to diligently save money out of your earnings every month. Your Papa and Grandma taught me that. I know it's fashionable these days to talk of retail therapy as something that can magically make everything alright. But remember, whether those exorbitantly expensive shoes fill the hole in your heart or not, they can't prevent the hole from getting bigger. Until it consumes all of you and all you value besides.




My wish for you is that while you may have the convenience of the things that money can buy, you may never go without the comfort of the things it can't. May you always have enough to satisfy your needs, but not necessarily your wants. May you take delight in the simple pleasures of life and in the little you have. That is wealth enough.


The rest we must leave behind.


And yes, you are my wealth.


I'll see you tomorrow. We'll talk about the X-factor that everyone keeps harping about.






Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for . . . Vows

Image courtesy: Raj Manchekar
Sweetie pies, welcome back to your lessons.

V is for Vinegar in your book, La Niña. Ah, the very mention of the word causes your face to scrunch up. El Niño is no different. I can still recall the look on his face when I dipped a tip of my finger in vinegar and placed it on his tongue.

You asked me once, La Niña, why I needed to stock vinegar in our kitchen at all. You see, my girl, vinegar, though sour of taste, is an excellent preservative with many uses in cooking and even baking.

When you think about it, you'll realise that vinegar is not too far removed from my V word today, Vows. A vow is a solemn promise that you make, committing yourself to some action. Keeping a vow is very tough and may sometimes leave a sour taste in your mind, but a vow lived up to is what preserves marriages, relationships, friendships and workplace harmony.

Most people make vows and promises, without a second thought. They rarely think about the implications of what they have vowed, whether they will be able to fulfill them, whether they are willing to do what it takes to fulfill them.

My beloveds, think twice, think things through, before making a promise. Think about the consequences of not being able to keep your promises.

If the promises that you make are believed, it is because you are trusted. The promise itself has nothing to do with it. It gains value from your character, not from the words you use. Whenever you make a promise to someone, be so honourable as to treat the promise as it were a debt you owed that person.

Whether the vow was made verbally and casually or whether you signed on the dotted line in the presence of witnesses is irrelevant. Nor does it matter if a suitably well-paid lawyer is able to bail you out or not. What matters is that your failure to deliver the goods marks you as a person that does not deserve to be trusted.


Make sure you are calm and cool-headed when you make a vow. The time when you are upset or angry or even very happy is not the time to make a promise.


Above all, don't be tempted to wriggle out of a promise you made because there is no one to hold you to it. There is One, whose promises are never broken, who watches everything. 


My wish for you is that you may be slow to make a promise, yet quick in keeping it. And that you may be no less respectful of the vows you make to yourself.

That's all for today. See you tomorrow.




 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for . . . Unique


Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
My sweet hijos,

U is for Uniform, a set of clothing that you, La Niña, are very familiar with. I have always loved wearing uniforms. I like the fact that they help instill a sense of belonging, equality and community in a group of people.

But uniforms can also have another effect. They can make you feel one in a crowd in a world which goes out of its way to make you feel ordinary and insignificant. When life makes you feel unappreciated, I want you to remember another U word, Unique, which describes "YOU" far better.

I'm not just saying this because I am your mother. I really believe this of you and me and everyone else besides. Each of us was made unique.

Most people, however, abandon the promise of their baby-selves to become prisoners on a conveyor belt. They forget that we are born with immense potential of mind, body and spirit. Such treasures are not to be shrugged off for the privilege of getting membership of the herd.



Therefore, stand tall and take joy in who you are. Strive to be better, to improve yourself. 

Don't let anyone mould you into a carbon copy of someone else.

Don't believe anyone who tells you that you are ordinary, too fat, thin, short, tall, bucktoothed, knock-kneed. 

Don't allow them to bind you into their straitjackets.

Don't let them fit you into the stereotypes they choose for you.

You do not have to fit the constructs that Society has erected, nor do you need its approval to be who you are.

Let me share with you a valuable trick that one of my school teachers once taught me. She used to say, "Spend one minute in the morning looking at yourself in the mirror and saying aloud, 'I AM AN UNREPEATABLE MIRACLE.' For best results, repeat every morning."

You see, mis hijos, you are a composite of innumerable variables - your culture, nationality, health, age, experiences and attitudes to them, fingerprints, character traits, personality, beliefs, aspirations, goals, dreams, genes, viewpoints and talents. You were created on a grand scale. You are neither products of assembly line manufacturing nor cookie cutter creations.




My wish for you is that you may never lose sight of the fact that you were created to be unique. And because you are unique, I wish that you may allow others the freedom to be unique too. 

I also wish that you may use up every talent you have to the fullest. So the world is forced to acknowledge your extraordinariness and eat its own harsh words.

Be yourself. That's your one true destiny. Be the best You that you can be, and you'll always get a V-sign from me.

See you tomorrow.







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for . . . Truth


Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
My little children,
T is for Tongue. You know, of course, that the tongue helps us taste and digest our food. But did you know that the tongue also helps us to speak?

That might explain why this slippery customer finds it so hard to speak the truth. We all lie so many times. White lies we call them, and they come in handy when the truth embarrasses or shames us. Strange how we have courage for the big truths, but the small lies undo the seams that hold us together. 

Truth itself is so much bigger than any of us, it's hard to grab all of it. All we can hope for is to find that strand of truth which strikes a chord within us and give others the right to be inspired by the truth that moves them, even if it strikes us as cacophony. 

Keep your eyes open for there are truths everywhere - in nature, in faith, in everyday life, in the mouths of babes and mad people. But you'll have to be careful. Sometimes a lie dresses up like truth, and the disguise is so good that whole mobs of people get fooled.

Sometimes there are many versions of truth. That's how History is written, you know.

At other times, you will find that people who are wise enough to know a lie from a truth still choose to go down a path that they know will mislead them.

Nor should you hold your opinions and preconceptions in too crushing an embrace. It will spare you the misfortune of finding that a truth you've clung to all your life has wooden feet. 

It's a marketplace out there, and truths are auctioned and bid for. Unpalatable, uncomfortable and ugly truths may find no takers where sugar-coated and prettily packed untruths win the popularity stakes.

My wish for you is that you may never lie to yourself, lest lies and truths get mixed up in your head. That no matter how tough times may get, you may have the courage to swallow the truth you must. Because the acceptance of truth brings peace. No lie can outrun a truth, no matter how much of a head start it has had.

There is more to truth than just the telling of it. There is the living of the truth, a much harder job. If I am not able to pass the litmus test of living the truth, then all the lessons I have been sharing with you these last few days are just hot air.

Such a challenge for me.

Until tomorrow. Can't wait to meet U again.




Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for . . . Sincerity

Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
Ah, my darlings, how these pages have missed you.

In your book, La Niña, S is for Salt. I remember one time, La Niña, when you sulked over my refusal to give you something that you had set your heart on and you declared somewhat combatively, "You don't love me, I know. You love me as little as the salt we put in our food." At that time, I pulled you into my arms and kissed you and tried to convince you that I loved you very much, more than you could imagine.

It was only much later that I realised what a great truth you had spoken unwittingly, and how it is so intimately tied to my S word, Sincerity

When you're old enough, mis hijos, you'll see that the world is quick to pay lip service. There is no dearth of false emotions. The counterfeit moves hands faster and is accepted more often as legal tender. Whereas, Sincerity, whose notes you will recognise for their torn and soiled nature, are looked upon with suspicion and despised.

In spite of the large-scale incentive to be insincere, I would advise you not to succumb to the temptation to be hypocritical. 

A little salt, just perfect, enhances the flavour of the meal. Anything less could take away from that flavour. Anything more could ruin the meal, and your health, in the long run. 

Similarly, sincerity is perfect in small doses. Too much begins to smell like artifice. Too little leaves the appetite hungry.

Far too often people wear masks on their faces. We go through life, never realising what some people actually look like. Don't go through life wearing a mask. Strip it off and throw it away. Let honesty be a boon companion to your sincerity.

Mis hijos, make sure you mean what you say. So people can trust you. On the other hand, you don't always have to say everything you mean. A little discretion helps further the cause of sincerity. 



My wish for you is that you may be able to distinguish between true sincerity and pretence. That your life, relationships, friendships, work and interests, may be shorn of any fake emotion.

That's it for today.

I'm baking some muffins. How about a T party tomorrow?



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: THE UNINVITED

Title: The Uninvited
Author: Liz Jensen
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus
Pages: 320









The Uninvited by Liz Jensen is a nightmare come alive. The book raises a primal fear that keeps hitting the reader harder and harder not only from the sheer scale of the events as the numbers of the criminals and the victims multiply, but also from the horror that emerges at the thought of such a disaster actually coming to pass.

Hesketh Lock is an anthropologist who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. Separated from ex-girlfriend Kaitlin, Hesketh still misses her little seven-year-old son, Freddy, who he thinks of as a step-son.

Hesketh, a corporate fraud investigator, is sent to Taiwan to investigate a case of whistle-blowing in one of his company’s client-firms. Sunny Chen, an employee in a timber factory, has blown the lid on some high-level corruption involving the illegal trading of hardwoods culled from protected forestland. 

But Chen, far from seeing himself as a hero, is consumed by guilt. A man who fears and worships his ancestors, Chen insists he was driven to expose the corruption by spirits. The knowledge of his guilt drives him to kill himself, leaving behind witnesses, CCTV footage and a suicide note.

Around the same time, in England, a seven-year-old girl shoots her grandmother and father, killing the one and blinding the other. There is no motive for the crimes, and the child herself seems unaware about the enormity and gravity of the deed she has done.

Barely has the clamour died down and the investigation set to rest before the world begins to reel under the onslaught of a rash of cases of both kinds. The death of Sunny Chen is followed by numerous acts of sabotage across industries in countries around the world. Each time the saboteurs, grown men with clean records and reputations for harmless behaviour, indulge in acts of sabotage, they feel a crushing sense of remorse and accuse mythical beings from the mythology of their own cultures, before killing themselves out of repentance and shame at the act of disloyalty that they have committed.

Meanwhile, children across the world turn on their close family members in horrific and brutal acts of violence. After the crime is committed, the children slip into a state of fugue, losing all memory of the ghastly deeds.

Called to investigate these abnormal incidents of corporate sabotage, Hesketh begins to see patterns such as a fear of blindness and food poisoning and an inexplicable and unnatural craving for salt and processed food between the grownup saboteurs and the criminal-children. 

Hesketh teams up with his old mentor Prof Whybray to try to make sense of the nightmare. Even as they struggle to understand these strange phenomena, the nightmare hits much too close when Freddy attacks Kaitlin.

Before long, conditions deteriorate further when the children begin to lose their language and other social skills, and band together in feral groups in a situation that sees a complete disruption of normalcy and brings mankind to the brink of disaster. And yet all is not lost. For those who are willing to see, there is a lesson in it.

That Jensen has succeeded in writing a first person male voice is admirable. One of the highlights of this book is the character of Hesketh, easily one of the most likable voices I’ve read in recent times. Besides possessing an inordinate interest in the most random yet esoteric subject (he can identify clouds by name and has a talent for associating real life action with comic book action sounds), he also remembers other random facts and figures that are always relevant. 

Hesketh also has a penchant for matching skin tones, and the colours of hair and furniture with the shades in a paint catalogue chart that he carries about in his head. In addition, he loves doodling Venn diagrams, in an attempt to find commonalities in seemingly unconnected situations. It is an activity that he finds a greater need for with the increase in the mysterious incidence of suicides and murders.

The condition he suffers from is anything but a disadvantage to him, since it renders him incapable of immersing himself in social relationships, enabling him to maintain the neutrality and the distance that his investigations demand of him. Completely out of place in social situations, Hesketh’s way of dealing with another person’s distress is to make them an origami figure, a pastime that affords him great solace. In fact, Hesketh’s origami provides the props for the expression of his sentiments. 

Even though he lacks social skills, he has a wry sense of humour and tries in vain to prove to himself that he does have a heart and that he is not a robot made of meat, an accusation once made by Kaitlin. Despite his best attempts, however, he remains staunchly unmoved by symbolism.

I would certainly wish for a sequel with Hesketh in it.

Another highlight of this novel is Jensen's prose. Her writing makes you taste the heat and ash and smoke of the traffic and the metal of the malls. She talks of a “living room” that “smells of damp wool and wood smoke” and “coarse crystals winking on the slate roof of my cottage.

It is a special treat to see foreign locales through her eyes. In one instance, she describes Dubai as being “Pincushioned with construction cranes.


The novel is rich in detail and knowledge of the language and folklore of numerous cultures, including Chinese and Scandinavian. Aficionados of folklore will rejoice. Hesketh himself loves to learn the basic phrases, culture and traditions and folk tales of a new country each day.  


I scare easy and avoid the face peeling variety of horror, but the psychological brand of horror, I’ve realised, is even more intense. The brilliance of this novel lies in the fact that the macabre events are hastened through the medium of children, the epitome of innocence.

Horrific as the implications of the novel were, the end was even more disturbing for me.





Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for . . . Responsibility

Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar
Gather around, my darlings,
It's the last day of the week, and we've got a very important lesson to learn. So look sharp about you. 

In your book, La Niña, R is for Razor, an implement that Dadda uses to shave, and one that, because of its sharp edges, holds a strange fascination for both of you.

Take it from me, you're not touching the razor until you're old enough to be trusted to handle it right. We need to be sure that you can handle that razor with Responsibility, the R in my book.

We all live on the razor's edge in a number of ways, and it is up to us to show that we can be responsible. Right now, you're both young, so the only things I'd like you to be responsible for are your own playthings. Keep them in the right place. Avoid leaving them strewn about all over the floor. We don't want anyone to fall over those toys, do we? If we're not careful and responsible, our actions could have disastrous consequences for others.

As you grow older, I'd be happy if you begin to display a sense of responsibility towards things that you share with others. Don't deface your desks or trash school or public property. Dissuade others from doing so, even if it makes you less popular. Treat unclaimed things with the same sensitivity. Respect other people's property, and their claims, just as you would want them to respect yours.

Your proud mamma will be proudest of you when you learn to be responsible for yourself, when you steer clear of the temptation to blame other people or circumstances, fate or providence, for your misfortunes and failures.

If you do something wrong, own it. Apologise and set out to set things right as best as you can.



My wish for you is that you may take responsibility for yourself. The niña/niño in the mirror is the only person whose actions and attitudes you can control. You don't have that kind of hold over anyone else in the world.

One more thing: don't ever try to shirk or run away from your responsibilities. I have learned in life that if you strive to do your best by your responsibilities, they will define you and give meaning to your life.

Responsibility makes so many demands on us. But don't worry too much just yet. When you're ready to fly, the wings will come.

That's all for today. We won't meet here tomorrow. A little rest will give us renewed strength for our lessons next week, don't you think? Besides, we've earned our rest by our exertions this week.

I'll see you on Monday.

Lots of love,
Mamma





Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for . . . Quietude


Image Courtesy: Raj Manchekar

My cutie pies,

Q is for the Question. El Niño is much too young right now, but you, La Niña, have so many of them. "Mamma, where was I when you got married to Dadda?", "Mamma, can I eat one more piece of cake?", "Mamma, where do crows sleep?" I can barely cope with the onslaught of the questions that rain down on me.

Some of your questions make me smile; others provoke me to think. I welcome them all. Not something I can say of the other questions that rear their ugly heads in spite of my attempts to ignore them. Questions of how to fit needs into budgets, uncertainties about what tomorrow will bring, and doubts about how things will turn out.

When I feel myself crushed down under the weight of these questions, I think of another Q, Quietude, which alone has the power to take the sting out of the unending questions. And I realise that there is a place in the depths of my heart into which I can retreat, where none of these questions can hurt me.

It is not easy to enter this place. You need to first turn down all the clamour of life. Switch off the TV, the radio, the cellphone. Tune off the noises on the street, the blaring car horns, the whistle of the pressure cooker, the whir of a neighbour's vacuum cleaner.


It is not easy to make your way to this inner sanctuary. We become so accustomed to the noises around us. Even when the noises around cease, we cannot hush the noises inside our heads. What's worse, worry has us in a vice-like grip.


Sometimes it helps to remove oneself physically from the noisy marketplace that is the world and go somewhere quiet, like a library, or a place of worship or a place where you can be assured of solitude and the company of nature. 

If that's not possible, wake up before anyone else in the house does. Sit still and allow yourself to be washed by a wave of peace that is the preserve of the early day before the busyness of life takes over. Right there in your own inner sanctuary. In the midst of the hullabaloo of life.


There you will find your true self. That essence that otherwise gets drowned under mounds of laundry and bills and the clutter and cacophony of everyday life.



Take time to be still. Resist the urge to make haste always. Water, left still, becomes clear. So it is with our minds.

In time you will find it easier to withdraw into yourself and imagine what the eye of a tornado must feel like. Then you will know that quietude can strengthen you deeply and that your soul sometimes needs to wind down.



If  you remember what we learned in H is for Health, then you know that the body will stand by you if you treat it well. But the body isn’t all we’ve got.

We are not bodies that have a soul. I believe that we are souls that have a temporary body. What we are here is but a blip in the context of forever.

The soul needs its own brand of food, including music, the arts or a good book. But Quietude is its favourite. 

I wish that you may never be too jaded to be healed by a carpet of grass, the sunrise and the great waves lapping against the shore. I wish that you may never forget to give your being the nourishment that only quietude can provide.

I hope someday you will take this lesson to heart. But not just yet. Right now your mamma needs your innocence and your incessant questions.

Your school will be teaching you the 3 Rs, reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, but if you meet me here tomorrow, I'll tell you about another R that is no less important.

Hasta la vista, babies.
 
 
 
 


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...