Monday, April 30, 2012

Mother, defeated

They say, when a baby is born, a Mother is born too.
And in that Mother, a power is also born - an immense power that helps her protect her children against all evil that could arise: evil from outside, evil from within.

She cannot give up, no matter what - she has to keep fighting for what she thinks is best for her children, even when the children themselves become the beings she has to fight against. If their lives are in danger, she fights with her tooth and nail, until her last breath. If she loses a battle today, she knows she will win another one tomorrow. She knows she will keep fighting. For their sake. For her sake.

She is never terrified of losing - she knows that if she as much as thinks about giving up, her children won't stand a chance.

As they grow, as their perception of her changes, even as they accuse her of interfering in their matters, she knows that one day when they become parents, her motives and actions will become crystal clear to them.

There is only one thing, next to losing a child, that she views with horror - the one thing that haunts her night and day, the one thing she has no control over, throughout her life as a Mother. There is only one Monster that can ever bring her to her knees. She would fight it nonetheless, but she knows that it will overcome her in the end. The one terror that she carries, the one thing she knows she cannot fight forever, is her own Death. She would secretly beg it to give her some more time, so that she can protect her children till they are old enough to protect themselves.

And when she realises that she does not have that time, that she may have to give in too soon, that she may have to leave her children to fend for themselves because she has been summoned, there is no defeat as complete. She knows they will survive, she knows her courage will continue to inspire them, she knows her lessons will be remembered years after she has gone, yet the thought would gnaw into her consciousness: I will not be there for them.

My friend lost her two-year battle with cancer last week, leaving her two young children behind. I would never know what thoughts passed through her mind in those last days. I do not think she was afraid of Death as much as she would have been of leaving them - too young to even understand what her loss would mean to them.

R.I.P, my friend.
You are not defeated, you have passed on your amazing courage to your children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I just set a butterfly free

I just set a butterfly free
To see if it'll come back to me.
If it does, it belongs to me.

Ten days pass, and then some more.
Night and day, by my door
I wait until my heart turns sore.

Merrily fluttering 'cross the globe;
My thoughts bind it in their rope.
Can it read my mind? I hope!

Does it wait for me to call?
Does it think of me at all?
See the paintings on the wall?

Do I go and call it back?
Do I show it what I lack?
Do I say 'I need you back'?

I want to go, I want to fight,
I want to stay, I want to wait,
Don't know no more, what is right.

Is success meant to those who stay?
Those who wait to greet their day?
Or the ones who fight their way?

So I set this longing free
I'd been blind, but now I see-
Perhaps it wasn't meant for me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fish in a Timeless Pond

My friend and I were talking, as usual. Gossiping, if you like. (Ever noticed how that term stops being a concern after a certain age?) The topics were the usual ones - career, mid-life, family, shifting priorities. How we're past the struggling-to-love-what-we-do days and are now more or less into the doing-what-we-love phase.

A certain job description that we had a chance to read, came up. My friend remarked that the phrases 'challenging job', 'rare opportunity', 'learn new skills', 'do you have it in you' and such always lure a freshman, whereas we "who have seen it and done it all" steer clear of those. In fact, those phrases terrify us. We know what we have, and what we want. We're past the bubbling over phase. We're settled, more or less.

And we didn't just get here by accident. We have travelled our share of the way too.

Two or three years into my software career, I came across an incident that perplexed me. A person with almost fifteen years of enviable experience on his shoulders, quit a large, reputed organisation and joined a small firm that was well on its way to extinction.

A friend explained it to me: "Maybe he wants to be a big fish in a small pond." I was hearing the phrase for the first time. The idea was baffling, as well. Why would anyone, big or small, want to be in a pond that size at all? Knowing that this particular pond was muddied and drying and unlikely to last much longer? Isn't a bigger pond safe and fun enough??

It took me all these years to finally figure out the answer. Strange, how perceptions change with experience. No, I guess it isn't strange. It's quite natural. I don't think I would have thought this way - or even imagined myself thinking this way - ten years ago!

Now, the aforementioned friend and I are small fish in a small pond. Or maybe we're big fish in a pond where all fish are big. But somehow the size of the fish or the pond does not bother us at all... 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


People are very kind.
They always say Sorry.

They say, don't you mind.
They say You take care.

They say please pardon me.
They say don't you fret.

They say you should be happy,
Because you're the best.

They say a whole lot of things
But all they mean is No.

No, it can't be done.
No, I can't help you.

No, I am not the one,
But you're wonderful too.

What do I do with kindness?
What to make of mercy?

What to do with politeness,
And what of apology?

Mere words, have no meaning...   
Does this have no end?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A flower from the past

This flower takes me back to 17-18 years ago. 

I first came across them one summer, growing wild all over an ill-kept garden, swaying in the wind, totally oblivious of the surroundings and their new admirer. When the flowers gave way to seeds, I collected them and brought them home, saying to my Mother, "I want these flowers to grow wild on our garden as well."

On my last visit home a few months ago, my Mother gave me a few seeds and said, Plant this in your garden.

Our living space having shrunk, I do not have a wide garden where these flowers can grow wild as they did long ago, so I planted them in a pot. 

The first flower blossomed last week.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Of Following Dreams

*Warning: negative post ahead.

One must not take one's passions too seriously, or set out in pursuit of them.
Trust me on this. It will be much easier if you just take my word.
No? Then read on.

It is one thing to say, Follow your Dreams. It is yet another to shed the normalcy and security of daily life, and set out on the unfamiliar road, clutching a sheaf of hopes. The road less travelled, some say, to inject a sense of romance into it. That's brave of you, they say, to make you feel proud of your actions.

It is not easy, for sure, but to assume that the road is less crowded is attempting to deceive oneself.

It is not easy to look at people one has known all one's life and see them as characters. Observe their traits. Their colours. Their smells. Their accents.
It is not normal to manipulate situations, throw baits and wait for the bite.
Everything becomes a tool in a laboratory. Everyone becomes a lab rat.
Some call that art, the unapologetic term for irresponsible behaviour.

Worst of all, it is not easy to ask oneself every day, Was this the road I was meant to take? Or, am I making a mistake and wasting years of my life? Am I going to die over a pile of regrets??

Until a goal is reached, one never knows. In some cases, not even when a goal is reached.
What is the goal, after all, if not the journey itself?

What purpose does it serve anyway?
A sense of achievement that lasts a week? Nothing is satisfying or gratifying after ten days, is it?

The journey continues, regardless of the number of stations that pass, the milestones you cross. What does a mountaineer do after conquering Everest? There is no End, is there? There is no destination, no place that signifies the Ultimate Goal. Each goal gives way to the immediate next.

Isn't it easier to give up, turn back and swat those pestering dreams away while you can?
Isn't it even easier to never start, to pretend those dreams never existed?

What's a few more regrets anyway, in the end? There will probably be less regrets, for there is nothing more selfish than chasing one's own dreams.

Mark my words...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We're all obedient... nature.

We don't know it, we are ashamed to admit even the possibility, but the truth is that we are. The trait conceals itself deep inside the forgotten recesses of our memory. It takes but the right nudge at the right time to bring it out.

Of all my son's virtues, I believe 'obedience' would fall somewhere towards the bottom of the list. "Why don't you just do as I say?" has become the tag line I have to repeat several times a day.
And I know my Mom would roll her eyes if I call myself 'obedient'.
But when I look at my six-year-old carefully, I can see a tiny unit somewhere within his being that urges him to listen and obey. When he was smaller, he would just obey without thinking.

I find the evidence for the existence of this entity when he tells me things like "I threw a stone at the dog because my friend told me to."
"The TV says 'don't go away', so I am sitting right here." ("Don't go away! Cartoon Network will return right after this short break!")

As he grew, he started pondering over my words, and then he learned to hesitate, or refuse, to obey.

That tiny unit remains intact even as we grow, partly dormant, sometimes shaking itself awake with a yawn, and makes us want to obey every direct order we get.

How else can I explain the urge to obey when Google tells me authoritatively that I haven't fed my mobile number to it and I'd better do it immediately?

Or when Facebook says, my email account and FB profile aren't linked, and that some of my friends have gone bonkers trying to locate me on FB, and it's my duty to save their lives by linking my profiles?

Or when one of those job profile websites ask me to complete my resumé, lest some ill fate befall me before the day is out?

Or when some unknown site pops up at me and says Click here to know your future! I don't want to know my future, but I unknowingly move my mouse towards the window as if in a trance, before I snap awake, realise what I am doing and stop.

I feel guilty - as though I am breaking a few rules - when I resist that urge to do things these robot monsters suggest, and when I refuse to give in to their demands. I feel as though I am not being a good girl. I would so love to get a pat on the back from Google when I fill in my personal number, the way my son gets one when he is being good.

It must be that tiny trait called obedience, that still lurks inside...