Last Days and First Days


Our last day in Calcutta coincided with the Vivekananda Road Flyover disaster. The bridge collapsed and crushed over 20 people, injuring many more. Two days after the event, people are still trapped under rubble. Friends are marking each other and themselves as safe on Facebook and politicians in power are blaming one another.

On a more personal note, we were packed up and ready to go. Earlier that day, we said goodbye to Misty. And then we said goodbye to Kajol and Sudha, our staff.

Kajol came to us three years ago, to look after my son and quickly made herself indispensable in every way. She cooked for us and managed packed lunches, laundry and everything in between. Sudha, we had only known for a very short time, an elderly lady with gappy gums and a warm smile, who cleaned.

Kajol cried and cried. I hugged her and told her to look after herself. Sudha asked whether she could take the vegetable rack. I said no, it belonged to the landlord.

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Eventually we took our 17 pieces of luggage 3 years worth of essentials? (not including the tennis racquets) and headed towards the airport and completed all airport security formalities. Tired and impatient, we finally arrived in Hyderabad and fell into a fitful dreamless sleep.

The next morning, foggy headed and unsure of what we had actually done, I went through the motions. I let my sister-in-law and mother-in-law take over with the children. Ambiguous to the emotions of gladness or relief or something else. I found clothes and toothbrushes and surrendered to the situation.

Limbo is what you make of it, though. And after a cup of coffee, I was determined to make it count. I started researching and planning and forging an imaginary future and then, somehow, just after breakfast, I collapsed. I shutdown mentally and found it difficult to swallow anything much. By the evening, I was lost.

With the setting sun, and the KVR Park closed, we headed to the Jagannath Temple in Banjara Hills. The dark marble floors were hot and gingerly we made our way to various shrines. A mini pilgrimage.

The temple priests were conducting their evening ritual of banging their brass gongs in the hope of frightening away any unwanted energies and creating holy vibrations only for the most ardent and faithful. For the rest of us, the temple steps were close enough to feel the benefits of piety and prayer.

There is something comforting in the space created for the gods. Calm and clean, unrushed in prayer, people emit only light. Priests were unbothered, going about their daily duties and the gods waited patiently to be noticed. The rest of the world continued to spin while inside the temple we sat and moved only as if in slow motion. It was as if we were cocooned and cushioned from what we perceived to be our realities.

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I can see why faith is so powerful. Right now, I wish I could borrow some. I wish I could sit with folded palms and ask the gods to provide us with the best fit solutions for our forthcoming journey. But I can’t. Not quite. I can only look up to the skies beyond the temple roof and hope that in our insignificant microcosm, the answers will reveal themselves in time; that we possess enough strength and stamina and ‘chutzpah’ to carry ourselves through the coming weeks. A different type of faith.

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Faith or Luck or a Way of Mind?


Faith

What is it? Why is it?

I’m going through stuff at home at the moment. It’s best not to elaborate…it’s private! But it’s stuff, nonetheless.

I thought I was dealing with it quite well, I thought I could handle the ‘either or’ of the situation but last night I was bowled a bit of a ‘googly’, as they say in cricket. There’s a third option or to be more precise, an infinity of options. Now, having worked out and mastered my reactions to the eventualities I thought were going to be upon us, I found it a bit difficult to remain composed during the whole situation when I find that there are other likely outcomes and not so easy, comfortable ones, either. But just at the right time, a friend appeared, pretty much like an angel and is leading me to something new, a revolution of the mind…’faith in something more than I’. It’s happened completely by accident, but at exactly the right time! And I find myself wondering how did I get here?

I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual. A friend described me to someone as agnostic. I suppose I could be that too. I believe in a higher power, but I don’t believe it’s quite God. I believe in the right time for things and that everything has a reason that we may not fully understand. The only reason I believe these things, is that time and time again, I have experienced it.

When I have sat back and waited for things to play out, believe it or not, they have played out beautifully. I have been happy and fulfilled. When I have been stuck in a rut and have looked for change without success, I have stopped and suddenly change came and dragged me into a situation I would not have even contemplated. I admit; I have been lucky. Or have I? Am I one of those people who have just simply accepted that things always happen for the best and then have adapted to it, consciously looking for the positive? What would have happened if I decided that I was the unluckiest person in the world? Would that shape my experiences in the opposite direction?

Is it age? I’m in my early thirties (yuck!) and I have reached a stage in my life when I say, some things cannot be changed and we should be grateful for what we have, because not so long ago, we did not have all this. And it is true, I have accrued a husband, two children and more laughter and amusement following these acquisitions than I ever thought possible.

Perhaps it is where I am. I’m in Calcutta or Kolkata. It’s a city where people amble nonchalantly, rather than stride with direction. “Hoi jabe” is a phrase you hear often, meaning, it will happen, when it needs to. But then you also hear, “Hobe na,” with a doleful shake of the head, meaning, it will not happen, no matter how much of a bribe you offer. It’s as if in Calcutta, you resign yourself to a fate that cannot be changed…it has happened this way and will continue to happen this way, because broken as it seems, it still works. Your will has nothing to do with it. So I suppose I have resigned myself to that too. It was easier than getting stressed every time something was not happening in the way I envisaged, which was a lot!

Faith is a funny thing. I need it to survive. It’s arrived at the right moment in a form I can deal with. It is in the form of something logical and rational and resonates with vibrations, in a way I never thought possible. I just need to cultivate it, like a garden. The soil is finally soft and fertile enough to allow that to happen and flowers, I am sure, will bloom.Image

Prayer


Scrolling through my “reader” because I cannot sleep, I notice a lot on spirituality and faith and prayer.

I’m not an atheist, I don’t believe in any organised religion, as such but I do believe in the power of prayer and a being greater than ourselves, with whom, we could communicate with, if we so choose.

Here is my prayer, because I feel the need for it:

Dear God,

Grant me the patience to see things through, to wait it out, to count to ten.

Grant me the courage to say no, to say yes and follow through ’til the end.

Grant me love so that I may care and so that I may see and that I may do.

Grant me sleep, deep and joyful, and honest, with dreams that may come true.

Gosh, that was a little corny! Especially, the way it almost rhymed. But rhyming is good for the soul too, I think…it is like a child’s prayer, and deep down, inside, I feel like a child. I do tonight, at any rate.

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I wonder if my brother will know why I picked this particular image…

The Taste of Rejection


The first thing that caught my attention this morning was this email:

Dear D B,


Thank you for your submission and for your interest in ******. We have now had a chance to read your opening chapters and I am sorry to say that we don’t feel it is something that we can offer to represent. I’m really sorry to disappoint but I wish you every success in your search for a suitable agent.

With best wishes,

S



Needless to say, it shook me awake. I had that awful knot in my gut that threatened to make me cry.

But then, whilst scrolling through Pinterest, in an attempt to ‘get over it’ I saw this:

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‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.

‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

― Lewis Carroll

I’ve never been very good with rejection. In my mind, they’ve made a mistake. I’ll be accepted somewhere, somewhere good. This is my unshakeable belief.

I’m very good at believing in impossible things.

Faith in Calcutta


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Orange flavoured ball echoed by a silver plate.

Honking giant metal geese, angry eyes of red.

Zooming,wheeling, almost colliding.

I clutch at anything I can but all I can reach is faith.

A fat man, a god’s man, clad in white, the mark of the holy, on his forehead sits.

Leave your shoes, offer this and that,

And thank me with,

All I’m asking is,

All you must pay is…

I barter my faith.

Then? Then I meet shining brown faces, baked just right,

Hot out of oven, hope in their eyes.
Dancing, debating, grateful, learning. In them

I harbour my faith.