Children see positivity in everything. No emotion is coloured by negative thoughts nor is an action judged as motivated and questioned . It’s beautiful to witness this purity of thought. When one brings another a toy or a sweet; they accept it readily and lovingly. And then we grow up and there comes about a change. Where, when and how, I don’t know. Maybe we are taught at times to be wary of people, to not accept gifts from others without reason, not to be too trusting and loving – because we fear being hurt. But what love is that where you haven’t invested enough emotionally, so you aren’t scarred even a bit when things don’t work out?
We move away from home for higher education and then our jobs. How we forget those who once were essential to our existence. I know of people who don’t get to see their parents for years. It’s so easy to forget and be ungrateful. Then there are relatives we loved as children. We played with those uncles and aunts. Then comes a time when we drift apart. There are times when we meet briefly and when we do, we use our minds to judge them, we start looking for changes, we start questioning motives. We’re suspicious when people are nice to us! Why can’t our thoughts be pure. Why can’t we love them as we did when we were children? Let’s teach ourselves to be more trusting, loving and giving especially to the people who loved us once but are far away now.
I remember my maternal great grandmother who I loved as a child. She lived with us for a couple of years and went back to our native place later. She’d tell us magical stories, give us food and love. I even remember her piercing my ears and then attending to the wound until it healed. Didn’t see much of her later as I grew up. We’d go to our native place only for the summer vacation. Those couple of months were wonderful though and she’d shower us with affection. She passed away quite a few years back and I couldn’t see her before that. I had heard she’d become totally blind a couple of years before her death. I regret not having made the trip to see her. To have been around and near her. To have told her that I loved her and that she had made my childhood years special.
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?
Recently I was in Nasik at my mom’s place to drop the kids for their annual summer get together at my Mom & brother’s place later. It’s an annual ritual for the kids to go to my brother’s place for my younger niece’s birthday and from there to spend time at Nani’s (maternal grandmother) place for some fun and change and of course to spend time with their grandparents.
We were having chai in the garden that morning in Nasik (oh yes, my parents have a sprawling bungalow in Nashik with a beautiful garden and a kitchen garden too, something that we can only dream of in Mumbai), when my husband remarked that the tea cups we were drinking our chai in had been the same for the past 10 years or so. Before I could jump to the defence of my parents he smiled and said “It’s so surprising that these cups don’t have a single chip, whereas we are changing cups every 2 months, isn’t it? “I must say I was rather pleased by this remark but that set us both thinking as to why it was so. We live in Mumbai where people’s routines are set like clockwork. The Bai (maid) comes at 12 noon, the cook at 11.30 am. My husband leaves at 7.45 am (if it gets to 7.50 am, then traffic is sure to shave off at least 30 minutes from office time. You must be wondering what this has to do with the cups? Well, what it tells us is that in Mumbai if my maid chips cups every 2 months, I am willing to excuse her cos she has to hurry thru her job to move to the next house she cleans and if suppose I do reprimand her, I’m certain I’ll be left without a maid for a month! And do you know what that means? It means complete chaos. That’s how living in Mumbai is. All balanced precariously – a minute here and you miss your train. You reach office late and miss a meeting. Your boss gets another reason to set you down. You have another reason to scream at your children/spouse. Your kids slowly refuse to talk to you or listen to you. Your husband and you start to have fights on anger management. And so, we take a deep breath & say chipped cups are just FINE, we’ll change them every 2 months.
I’m from India and we have a lot of native handicrafts and I work in the field of handicrafts because of my love for people and creativity. But for these artisans who create beautiful handicrafts, creation is not just a means of self expression but an essential activity for survival. Most of them who reside in rural India, are solely dependent on their craft for their day to day living expenses since they do not possess any other skill. Further, women who have traditionally been neglected & uneducated are left with little other means for survival and financial independence. My artisans who make patachitra paintings, handloom stoles, paper mache articles are each unique people..
They sit in the heat without fans, painting, weaving or working at the furnace (for Dhokra products) tirelessly. You don’t hear them complain. Give them constructive feedback, new designs to work upon, point out processes that can be modified and watch them strive towards it in the good faith that all improvements will help bring in more work.
The fact that they leave aside their everyday worries, come for meetings & take pains to grow in their chosen professions is commendable. They remind us that the things we take for granted (such as easy money & a good life) are to be cherished and if possible shared.