SPECIAL POWER

There is something special about all of us, some special “power” that helps us to help ourselves, our near and dear ones as well as other people around us. This special something can be anything, ranging from being great at giving good advice to being a philanthropist or a social activist dealing with one or a few of the myriad issues that plague the society today. Some of us have great powers, powers that can build or break nations even; others might have puny ones, like that of the proverbial squirrel in the Ramayana, who tried to do his bit to help the Lord in building the bridge to Lanka by carrying nut-sized pebbles and piling them into the ocean, since the carrying of huge blocks of rock wasn’t his forte. Be it puny or earth-shaking, however, every special power counts; we never know when something insubstantial might have more than substantial consequences. That is probably why they are all so “special”.

When I come to think of my special powers (yes, powers, because I do have a handful actually; a couple of them puny, the rest not so puny, though not earth-shaking either), I think of my gift of penmanship as being the most powerful of them. Since I’m one of the quieter ones, I’ve always found Bacon’s idea “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing, an exact man” as being very close to my heart. It’s my earth-shaker; what couldn’t I do with it?  And if I had to choose just one of my few powers and relinquish the rest, I’ve no doubt that I’d choose writing over the others. Good advice, helpfulness, philanthropy – these are either too limited in scope for me or just not suitable enough, one way or the other. Writing, on the other hand, is exactly my niche; it makes me feel powerful, and I’m one hell of a power-hungry nerd. Since I’m one of the quiet ones, how do I make myself heard? I’ve stuff to share that a lot of other people might identify with; how do I reach out to them so that they know that somebody out there somewhere feels exactly how they feel? Through writing. (To be continued…)

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Fear

People, closed spaces, crowds, helplessness, losing people, losing jobs, loving too much or too little, reptiles, insects and worms – these are some of the things I’m afraid of. I’m around thirty years old, give or take a couple of years, an editor by profession and out-and-out modern in my approach to life. I’m outdoorsy, love shopping, eating out, travelling, cooking, music, books, perfumes, watches, dresses, shoes and so much more. I’m a woman, normal in every respect, who takes life, work and relationships seriously; I’m a woman who cries when hurt and bleeds when cut. I’m a theist, a believer in good and therefore, I also believe in the presence of evil and in ghosts and demons and the rest as manifestations of that evil. I realize, every moment, that I’m human and that I, therefore, have human failings – fear is one of those failings. I face as much of it as the next person and I have my own ways of dealing with it, so that I can keep moving forward, past my fears, fighting them instead of giving in to them and coming to a standstill.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, fear used to rule my every action, every thought even, until I was so deep in my own darkness that I used to contemplate about killing myself and putting an end to the suffering. This lasted until I realized that nobody could help me unless I picked myself up and out of the darkness I was in. I also realized that the more you try to shun fear, to avoid it or deny its existence, the greater is its hold over you. So I learnt to acknowledge my fears to myself and others, in spite of the fact that people have laughed at my fears, loudly and often. I realized that bravery lies, not in being unafraid and therefore, foolish, but in acknowledging fear as being real and in being wary of the object of your fear. Once I realized this, the rest wasn’t easy; but I knew that I could scale this mountain, slowly but steadily. Overcoming fear is like climbing a never-ending staircase – one step at a time, placing one foot in front of the other and climbing upwards. And fear doesn’t hamper my day-to-day life anymore.

I’m not at all ashamed to admit that my greatest fear is of people – not reptiles or worms or insects or darkness, ghosts, height and so on, but people. I’ve been bullied, abused, ignored, duped, cheated, ill-treated, threatened – by people. Yet I still go out every day and socialize with people for three reasons – I need to face my fear instead of running away from it; I’ve realized that experience is a better weapon than ignorance, and that not all people are bad – if I’m alive and thriving today, it’s because I’ve been helped by a lot of good people. The scars from the past, however, are a constant reminder that not everybody can be trusted and therefore, I need to be wary at all times and never let my guard down. The most painful experiences have nearly always come from the closest quarters – people who I thought of as family or friends. And these experiences have led to  the realization that fear is closer home than we realize.

It is sometimes hard to get back to normal even after the trigger or object that causes fear is removed. The effect of fear might extend from a couple of hours to a couple of years, maybe even longer depending on how potent the fear is. Fear is often related to past incidents – the past, here, might refer to the recent past or a more distant past. Many of us find that we tend to forget various incidents with time. However, the memories of such incidents, especially the bad, fear-inducing ones are never entirely erased; they are hidden from sight by the gathering dust of time, but they are often awake in our sub-conscious. Therefore, we often find ourselves unreasonable fearful of certain things or even certain people. This is where the saying ‘A burnt child dreads the fire’ inevitably comes to mind.

So, the question is, how does one free oneself of the paralyzing effects of one’s fears and continue with one’s day to day life? I’ve realized from my personal experiences that we can only be truly and completely free of fear when we realize that we are trapped by our fears in a spot from where there is no going back and the only act left is to move forward, face our fears and keep moving past them. The image that can be associated with overcoming our fears would be that of a ship in a gale, the sailors trying their utmost to save the ship from being wrecked because there’s nothing else to do. Life is the ship that we try to steer in the stormy seas of time, and no matter how dark the sky, how high the waves or how strong the gale, all that we can do is to hang on and try to survive. This is fearlessness or bravery, in my opinion – the act of not giving up, no matter what; the act of realizing that if we don’t master our fears, they will master us and destroy us; and that the act of facing our fears and moving forward past them, putting one foot in front of the other and climbing from the darkness into the light is a monumental one. Once we realize these things, the rest is definitely not easy; but, the realization and acknowledgement of our fears is the first step that we need to take in order to conquer our fears and live life as it should be lived; besides, it also shows us the path out of a miserable existence. Some day we might even come to know that our constant battle against fear has helped somebody else face his or her demons. That would certainly be something to look forward to, wouldn’t it?

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A SMALL NOTE OF THANKS

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The world of bloggers and blogging is a new world to me, a world full of surprises, which I’d joined just over a couple of weeks before. And I already feel very much a part of this world, as if I was born to become a part of this, eventually. Becoming a blogger was not an easy task for me, the most important reason being that I literally repel technology. All this tech stuff, which comes so easy to my generation, have always felt like a burden to me – I seemed to go nowhere with it. My lack of technical knowledge was nothing short of a morbid embarrassment to me. Had it not been for my few dear friends, who refused to let go of their trust in me and continue to inspire me still, I might not have become a part of this interesting world at all. Yet being here is nothing short of a good fortune, because the air here is full of inspiration. With each passing day, I seem to find something or the other that stimulates my mind a little more. As I go through the posts of my fellow bloggers, a whole new world of ideas and emotions are laid bare before me. The more I try to express how much I enjoy being a part of this world, the more I begin to realize how insufficient words are to express how I truly feel.

However, I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all my fellow bloggers who have joined me on my literary journey as followers, providing inspiration as well as sound advice and guidance, through their own posts. I also wish to thank all those friends who have never ceased to trust in my abilities or worth. Since my words fall far short of the sincerity I feel in my affection and regard towards all these people who have inspired me beyond measure, I do hope that this little post of mine helps to bridge the gap between feeling and expression and succeeds in reaching out to all those wonderful people, carrying all the benefits of the good thoughts that I’m sending them.

ON BULLYING

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Time and again I wish that I’d been an animal – any animal – instead of a human being. Life would not have been such a bad experience then, because I wouldn’t have had to feel so helpless upon hearing of the cruel things that people do to other people. There is so much cruelty in this world and so little love; yet, everywhere, love is the most talked about subject. Should I, then, believe that what we always preach and talk about, what we most dread losing, should not rule our actions? That love is important only with respect to ourselves, not with respect to others? That only the ones who have the means to make the weak suffer, can enjoy love and associated feelings as some kind of a prerogative?

I’ve been a victim of bullying myself, for years; so I know how painful it can be when you are at the receiving end of it. I’d been bullied in school when I was a kid and as a teenager in college. And the greatest lesson I learnt was that there’s no one beside you, no family, no friends who are willing to pluck the thorns out of your body.You are alone in your suffering and unless you fight back, nobody else is going to fight your battles for you. I will always remember with regret that whenever I complained to elders at home or in school, it was always I who got the scoldings and the beatings, accompanied by some ‘sound advice’ on learning to tolerate. I’ve even been called a liar; that I was a jealous attention-seeker who wanted to make her more intelligent and academically-advanced friends suffer. That really hurt me, because back then, I used to care about what people thought of me. During my long fight against being bullied, the one thing I missed most was a support-system. So when I got an opportunity to become a support-system to somebody else who was a victim of bullying, I didn’t let it go waste. I used both my voice and my hands to fight back, for my sake and for the sake of others, and I will always be glad of the fact that, though I bear the scars myself, I’ve been able to shield at least a few other children from being scarred. And I like to think of those scars as the necessary price that I gladly paid to save somebody else’s innocence, maybe even life. The people around me, who know me well, can count on me, because they know that I’m a fighter, if not a winner, and that if ever they are in need of support, I’m always there for them. Because all it needs to prevent bullying, more often than not, is raising your voice in support of the victim, because bullies are, after all, perverts who enjoy torturing lonely souls and fall back when strongly opposed – just like wild animals who are afraid of fire.

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ON HYPOCRISY

HYPOCRISY DESTROYS
HYPOCRISY DESTROYS

In a very recent issue of a popular magazine, I came across an article describing a rare but hilarious incident. A bride-to-be had refused to marry the would-be groom after he failed a basic maths test. It’s apparently a funny incident, but it couldn’t very well have felt like fun to the bride herself. She absolutely refused to have to do anything at all with somebody who couldn’t solve a sum that was easy enough for a child studying in Standard I.

This is not an uncommon problem in the country. While a majority of the women are well-qualified, a large portion of the male population has already started falling short of an equal level of qualification. As a result, a prospective bride’s dream of getting a perfect match for herself, has already suffered a huge set-back. In fact, a recent survey has stated that the present scenario is expected to worsen by 2025, resulting in at least a third of the women population having to compromise on the very important aspect of marriage – equality. As far as I can see, the situation is already bleak enough.

Why is the educational qualification of a prospective groom so important to women? Is it not enough that he has a job, can provide for the needs of his family and provide shelter? These are questions that need answering. The answer is no. It is not enough that a man has a job and can provide for his family. Just as every man dreams of certain qualities like beauty, good cooking skills, a well-paid job and so on in his wife, so does a woman. A woman’s dreams are no less important than those of a man. Dreams and the hope of realizing them are what keep us going; therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we strive to provide an environment that’s conducive to chasing dreams. The least a woman can expect from her husband is understanding and a stimulating conversation; how can her expectations be fulfilled if a man is only just qualified enough to retain a job? Education is the only thing that can improve a person’s ability to understand and relate to other people and keep jealousy, depression, inferiority complex as well as a sense of unfulfillment out of a life-long relationship. A marriage needs much more than just financial security; why else do so many of them end in divorce? The sense of being equals is what makes a bond strong, not the compromising on essentials. When a relationship starts with a compromise, it doesn’t promise much stability in any case. One compromise leads to another and before long, one partner starts feeling cheated. No wonder that person would want out of such an unfair situation.

Coming back to the incident of the groom who flunked in Maths, isn’t it surprising that the bride and her family had been kept in the dark regarding the educational qualification, rather the lack of it, of the groom? And this is just one of the many incidents of this kind. How can these people have such a mentality and how can they hope to get away with such fraudulent practices? Isn’t this proof enough of the hypocrisy that is practised by our society? That, while the groom and his family gets to choose a bride from the creme de la creme in any given situation, rejecting and indeed insulting, prospective brides and their families on such flimsy grounds as beauty, figure, colour of skin, size of dowry, superstition and so on, when in fact these women are well-qualified and often hold positions of responsibility, the same choice of being choosy while selecting a partner is not available to most women?

It is time that we started questioning whether some of these age-old superstitions and practices shouldn’t be changed. They do not belong in a modern society afterall. We are so proud of all the progress we have made over the years; is it not wrong then that our mindset hasn’t undergone much progress, so much so that we never think twice before acting like the hypocrites that we are? We expect others to be honest when we ourselves are still not ready for the truth. Are colour of skin, caste, physical beauty or the lack of it, size of dowry offered or whether it is offered at all and superstitious beliefs so much more important than a woman’s education or her inner beauty, that she has to face rejection time and again just because she falls short of the former? We harp on and on about self- respect and treating others with respect; what, then, happens to that sense of respect when we hanker after somebody else’s money? Where goes this respect when we treat perfectly capable women and their families with such disrespect? And do we still dare to wonder why our society and its values are deteriorating when the answer is just an introspection away?

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A BLOGFULL OF INSPIRATION

LIGHT UP SOMEONE'S LIFE
LIGHT UP SOMEONE’S LIFE

This post is about all those people who have inspired me in a variety of ways, over the years, in my pursuit of a literary dream. I’ve found inspiration in unlikely places, among friends and strangers alike. Inspiration had even come knocking at my door when I least expected it to. I’ve had bad spots but it has still been an amazing journey towards discovering myself; and I might not have come this far, if not for the inspiration that came my way in strange packages.

Not too long ago, I read a post by a friend, who’s an eloquent and inspiring blogger, about blogger’s block. I was impressed. So I read some of her other posts and found my inspiration in her. I’m someone who usually repels technology; but after reading her blogs, I actually took the initiative to read up all the material about blogging, that I could find on the internet. And voila, I’m already on my way to becoming a blogger myself.

Then there are other friends, some of them much older, some who are accomplished bloggers and some who form my reader-cum-support base. Talking about support, I can never say enough about the girl who nearly nagged me into becoming a blogger. She said, ” Unless you expand your reader-base, you’ll always be stuck in the same rut for ever. Expand your horizons and you’ll find newer limits to conquer.” That was the best piece of advice that could have come my way. The ones who are much older than I am and yet find joy in learning new things and crossing new limits, are the best mentors I’ll ever have, because they inspire, not with words but with their actions. They have their own problems and weaknesses, but they never let their problems get the better of them. If they can do what they do, so can I. From them I get new lessons everyday on how to fight and win.

Last but not the least, I remember my deceased friend, M R, with great reverence. I knew him but for a short while, but he saved me, just as he saved many others, from depression and associated disorders. He was the sexiest man I’d ever come across; not physically, but in a much better way, in his behaviour, temperament and attitude. He became the brightest light in my darkest hour; sadly though, true as he was to all else, he was true to the metaphor as well – as my night drew to a close, his light slowly went out, until I heard one day that he was gone. He was the best thing that had ever happened to me, the best thing that could ever happen to anybody in my shoes. Had he still been here today, my joy would have been more complete in his happiness. The ones who didn’t know him, really missed knowing a gem of a man.

Had there been no M R, who knows, I might not have been here either.