People don’t disbelieve me when I tell them that I visited Ayutthaya, the erstwhile capital of Thailand only after I saw a picture of Buddha’s face mired by these roots in a travel brochure. Here’s my very own picture of the same spot. Isn’t it mesmerizing?
Apparently, when the temples there were damaged due to the Burmese attack on Ayutthaya somewhere in the 16th century, a lot of statues were destroyed and somehow this head came to rest between the roots of this Banyan tree and has been there since. Ayuthaya (which is a World Heritage site) is a must visit if you are travelling to Thailand.
Scratch the surface –
What am I on the surface?
What am I a little further down? How do I know that?
When I’m angered, put in a discomforting situation, how do I react?
What are my secrets? What do they tell about me?
Am I always me or do I sometimes put up an act?
Layers of human nature
Oh so many of them,
Outwardly, my face with make-up,
my behaviour in society and inside my home,
further inwards within myself – my fears, my jealousies, my loves – all concealed.
So many emotions – that of anger and confusion,
Of greed and jealousy, and sometimes of loneliness.
But I choose not to show. I try and hide it beneath layers of work & play.
I love you but not totally. I love you because of my guilt, my compulsions, my duties.
Layers of make up – why do I need it? Am I not pretty enough?
Do I need to conceal my flaws?
Flaws, says who? A sprinkling of freckles, a distribution of moles & warts;
Why can’t I show the world who I am, I retort.
My true face, my true self? This is how I am without the sheath,
Does my face really matter? Or does the person/soul underneath?
Why have the perfect nose or the perfect pout? Why not the slim line that I have for a mouth?
Does it betray my rigidity? Why betray and conceal?
Why not change it? Smile a little and appeal.
But the truth is prettiness is loved and liked. Beauty of the body is.
So I will try to fit the norm.
Conceal and change it until I know not who I am.
Fear drives me.
When will I be able to break through these layers & breathe out fully, deeply and to my heart’s content.
When will I live on the surface, to show my true emotions and not be ashamed of them.
Written in response to the Daily post challenge – Layers
‘Be independent, no matter what’– This is what my mom once told me and it has stayed with me since then. I know there’s now no novelty in this piece of advice but the first time that someone hears and absorbs it, it registers as important.
She belongs to another generation where women did not have the freedom they have today. Not many were educated and most were confined to their homes and activities of cooking, cleaning ,sewing etc. My mom chose to work after her marriage to my dad. My dad also had humble beginnings but what characterizes him is his broad-mindedness. His determination to build a better life for himself and others. I know my mother’s income also helped things move along at home, but that wasn’t the reason she worked. She worked because she didn’t want to be dependent on others for anything. Be it on my dad for finances to run the house, or to buy that piece of jewellery she liked or go out somewhere or organise transportation or anything for that matter. She told me a story of how once she waited for my dad to send the car to her for an errand she had to make. The car didn’t come on time and she got delayed, frustrated that the work wasn’t done and that lead to her taking a pledge of being independent no matter what. She ventured out more and more – took buses and trains, travelled on her own, bought what she liked (sensibly of course) and things were so much better. Not just for her but for my dad as well.
I wish all women understand this. That somewhere love becomes tinged with contrary emotions if we do not have the capability to fend for ourselves. We feel tied down (physically & emotionally) and possibly let down if we are not independent.
Make life happy by living freely and by giving yourself that freedom – Become independent.
There was an article in The Mint, a few days back on the first women’s team that summitted Mt. Nanda Devi (7816 m) in 1981. The article covered Chandra Prabha Aitwal and how she came to be a part of the women’s expedition that first summited. For a lucky few, destiny has designs while the rest of us have to find our calling. She came from a modest background, was average at school and was working as a govt teacher in a Girls College, Pithoragarh, India when she got an invitation to train at NIM (Nehru Institute of Mountaineering -Uttarkashi) and from then on there was no looking back.
“I summited in darkness, but the moon was rising and, gradually, I could see the shimmering snow on the nearby slopes. Summitting has a different thrill associated with it, whether it’s in daylight or in the dark. You feel as if you’ve seen heaven; it cannot be put into words,” she says of her summitting experience.
I don’t know why reading this bought tears to my eyes. I tried to analyse my emotions and think about what moved me. Random thoughts went through my mind. I wondered if I could summit Nanda Devi? Could I see the glittering sky on the summit of these famed mountains? Did I have it in me? More importantly, did I want to do it? I thought again about what moved me. I realized that it was the moment of triumph described of an achievement so coveted, that seemed so prized to me. It was not the act of summiting the mountain but that of having achieved something in Life. Could I do something that made this life less ordinary? Would I have that moment of triump? Would I be able to look back on my life and let out a contented sigh that my life was stamped with a special achievement. I’m in the quest to find, set & achieve my GOAL. Something that is special to me and not just a pure possession. I’m thinking aloud as I write this. It should be challenging to get there – not something easily achievable. Not just any car but say a Rolls Royce. Not just any position in that organisation but that of the CEO. Not just any hill, but an Everest or a K2 or a Nanda Devi. It could be making a positive impact in the lives of people I know or don’t know. I’m looking for mine – that star to hitch my wagon to. Have you found/thought about yours?
Fire is considered sacred in the Hindu religion & it’s a part of many of our prayers and offerings to the Gods. India as many of you know has many festivals, mythological stories, ancient beliefs & rituals that form a part of our lives. One such wonderful joyous festival is that of Holi which we celebrate to welcome spring here. We use coloured powder and apply it to friends and acquaintances and there’s a general atmosphere of bonhomie all around. Just the night preceding Holi, we also burn a bonfire called ‘Holika’. This blog is about her and why we continue to burn ‘Holika’ every Holi. Holika was the demon sister of a demon king called Hiranyakashipu. The king hated Lord Vishnu, as Vishnu was responsible for killing his brother Hiranyaksha in his Varaha avataar (you can read more about the avataars of vishnu in an earlier bloghere) but his son Prahlad was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried numerous methods to kill his son Prahlad, but each time the lord intervened and saved him. His sister Holika had a boon of remaining untouched by fire and so Hiranyakashipu prevailed upon his sister to take Prahlad into the fire and burn him, while she would escape unscathed. So on the night before Holi, Holika stepped into a fire made for the purpose of burning prahlad; but the maya (greatness) of the lord is such that she was burnt to ashes while Prahlad remained unhurt. The whole of the city had been assembled by the King to teach them a lesson that they would suffer a similar fate and be burnt if they prayed to Lord Vishnu. When Holika was burnt, the people rejoiced and their faith in the lord was made stronger than ever before. In India, we still burn the Holika the night before Holi and it’s symbolic for us wherein we wish that all the evil inside us & impure thoughts would be burnt and only good would remain in us forever.
The picture here is of the Holika being burnt in my building society before Holi in 2015.