Vulnerability

She looked forward to the day. The exact time of the day, to be precise, when she would lay her eyes on him. It had almost been an year.

When he called her to announce, “I’m here!” she couldn’t hold back the bounce in her strides, as she walked towards him. And when she saw him, she hurled herself at him, and took the long pending bear hug from him.

Just the thing she needed.

He held the strings that bound her, untangled them gently so that she could slowly breathe. The first breath she took cracked the high wall of pretense she had built around her. She took another deep breath and she found herself unravel in his arms.

Her vulnerability lay bare in front of him.

They sat next to each other on the bench. Leaves crackled as they shifted their feet. The winter afternoon heat warm on their backs. His arms around her shoulder. Her hands resting on her thighs. They sat for a while. Her emotions finally found words and they flowed from her lips. The unspoken, unseen weight slowly lifting from her shoulders.

Trusting that he can take it all, she unfolded. And he did.

Though they felt stillness around them, the time kept ticking. Finally it was time to leave, with a promise to see each other soon again.

As they both walked away in the opposite directions, she walked away with strength and courage to live from him. And he, with a bit of her soul.

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Before Falling Asleep

She tossed her head around, annoyed that sleep almost eluded her.

“I can’t feel my face!” she complained.

He leaned across and planted a kiss on her lips.

“Better?” He asked.

But she had already fallen asleep with a faint smile on her lips.

Tiny Magical Hands

The chapati refused to go down her throat. It just seemed dry. Even her favourite gravy that her mother made to go along with it, refused to help her swallow.

She refused to eat. She would sit, staring at the wall; speaking with silence and hugging the void. Everything, she felt, was crushing her. Her spirit and soul were disappearing in an abyss.

She just sat. Thinking and listening to the white noise in her head. Unaware of her surroundings.

Till something tiny walked by and almost pushed her off the chair she sat on to force fit its butt. There were two tiny hands and a sweet singsong voice which insisted on interrupting her state of being a rock. It said, “I want to feed you!”

Before she could answer, the hands had torn a piece of chapati, dipped it in the gravy and pushed it near her lips. She smiled and took a bite. It was easy to swallow now.

The singsong voice said, “Once more!” Till she had all of her dinner inside her tummy. Successfully.

Those tiny hands had magic to break the spell she was under.

The magic was her two year old daughter’s pure, innocent love.

Walking with the Differences

They were two individuals.

He loathed some things she loved.

She loathed some things he loved.

Emotionally, both would be on different planes. Always.

Yet, they co-existed and were the best of friends.

They accepted and walked with the their differences with their arms around each other.

Bread Samosa

I was on a vacation in Hong Kong. We had spent the day walking. It was a very good and satisfying day. It was so good, that I had found my old appetite rumbling in my stomach. And that appetite brought this strong craving on my tongue: a strong want to eat India Chat. I had traveled down from India to explore this place, and yet this thing in me wanted to eat desi street food. But, I kept mum. Thinking this isn’t what he would like to eat. And yet, this man, to my great surprise and happiness asked, “Would you like to eat dahi puri?” I was wondering if he could read my brain waves.

There in Hong Kong, when we were eating the dahi puris with some addition of samosa chat, I got hit by this strong wave of nostalgia:

I would wait eagerly for my parents to come back home from work. I would be in the garden with my pupper. Waiting for them to walk inside the green gate, just to run close to whoever comes home first and ask, “Can we have bread samosa for dinner?” The day we would have it was like a picnic at home, but at night. Would be noisy, cosy and fun. Like some kind of celebration. The walk with my father to the shop to buy fresh out of wok samosas. Holding his fingers. Walk back home to eagerly eat the hot samosas, flattened and pressed firmly between two breads. And the satisfaction once the first bite was savoured…

I missed it.

Then today happened. We were out, my father, sister and my niece. While each ran their errand, I entered a small shop. One place which came close to making samosas like the samosa shop in the place I grew up. And I had the question in my head again. I turned around to find that my father had followed me in the shop with his cup of coffee. I asked the same question, “Can we have bread samosa for dinner?”

He smiled. Maybe the nostalgia had hit him too. And he answered saying he was just going to ask if he should get some bread for the night.

It was a celebration again. This time it was for my new job. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate.

Somehow, the mood was better. Like we had grip on something and that it wasn’t lost. I saw the old me. The old, easy bond I had with my father came back. He was happy. Genuinely happy. Happy to do this. Let his grown up be a child.

We were excited.

My mother was excited when I told her. It made me happy. Somehow the atmosphere felt familiar. It was warm, cosy and celebratory again. Though it was disastrous: the samosas were too spicy for our taste, yet it was the emotions that mattered.

It was about the simple pleasures. Most of the time works like a charm.

About a Long Affair

As soon as the bus halts at my stop, I find myself rushing to cross the road. Forgetting my fear of crossing roads. Rushing like a mad woman to climb the three tiny steps and stand next to this jolly man with his hair parted in the centre. Just this. The man with the magical stall of wonder. My Pani Puri walla.

He nods his greeting and silently thrusts a small bowl made out of dried leaves in my hand. He puts on his gloves, takes a puri from the stacked heap, cracks it open, fills it with masala aloo, dips it in the spicy tangy paani and places it gently on my bowl. 

The first Puri, when it touches my tongue and cracks open in my mouth, the flavours explode! Melting away all the frustration and stress of the day. I feel comforted. Sometimes, this spicy beauty soothes my soul better than the saccharin words of my dearest friend.

The flavour brings out the vivid colours of the darkening night skies, and as it starts refreshing my soul I can finally hear things around me. Till then it’s just my Pani Puri walla filling my bowl with my beloved street food, comforting me silently, without understanding the chaos in my mind. 

By the end of maybe ‘one plate’ or even two, I don’t even feel guilty about my indulgence. 

Rather, I feel happy. Content. Comforted.

Always!

That Goofy Face

There’s always this boy. I had a minor crush on him. Then we became, sort of, friends. Every time he opened his mouth, I would always feel that I like him lesser. But then, no matter what he said, this tall boy, when he would smile his full goofy smile at me whenever he passed me by, I could feel my heart do a double somersault no matter how hard I suppressed it. His smile was big and always seemed​ to reach his eyes. 

I would avoid his eyes every time we passed each other by. Especially if it was more than once in a day. Because he smiles his big smile every single time! Even if he was annoying and taken, his smile was contagious. His smile would leave a smile on my lips which would pass on to the next person passing me by. 

He is unaware and it will stay that way. It will be my little secret corner in a small room in my head: He’s that goofy faced friend, who notices it all, and makes me smile unwittingly ever time he smiles. And my day gets better.

Birth of Hope

The setting was perfect. The sun had just set. There was a hint of rainy clouds coupled with a light breeze. The sky was the shade of dark navy blue slowly darkening to black.

I was nearing my block, that’s when I saw them. A couple. They must have been in their late 70s. The first thing that I noticed was the way they held each others hands. She had a firm grip, maybe helping him balance. Maybe holding herself steady. Or maybe, just holding because she wanted to. He had his walking stick in his other hand. They walked slowly, one small step at a time. In perfect sync. 

I couldn’t help but smile. 

Even for a cynic, with all the distrust in the world, looking at them couldn’t help but for that moment believe that things could be as real as that couple who had grown old together and still seemed to be very much in love.

Discovering Old Memories

There is such pleasure in organizing things. I always feel like I am clearing some clutter and organizing things in my head along with the things I am organizing around me. By the end of the entire exercise, I feel at peace and satisfied. Another beauty of organizing, finding out things that are buried somewhere – maybe in dust or maybe under some pile of books.

Yesterday, while organizing, I found a book called “Simple Ways To Manage Stress“, which was passed on to me by my dad. Looking at its green and blue cover, I was transported back to the day when I was maybe 10-12 year old:
It was a hot summer day. My summer vacations were going on. That evening, dad had handed me some A4 sheets along the book and marked couple of pages that had some pictures. I was supposed to draw and color  those pictures in the sheets that he had given me.

I remember drawing a farmer with birds over his head and a conversation bubble over his head. There were some more similar simple pictures that I don’t remember right now. All that I remember is that I was having fun drawing them and then coloring them with my precious rainbow color pen set (I still have them. In working condition 😀 ).

He later told me that they were for his presentation at office and that his audience had understood the presentation better and interacted during the session because of the pictures that I drew. I do not know how he presented it in the conference room without using a laptop and a projector (I will ask him, once I finish this post), but when he told that, I felt so proud and pleased that I could help dad out with his work. Remembering this, made me happy.

Simple pleasures and simplest of acknowledgement were all that I needed when I was a kid. Reflecting on the memory, I feel it is still the same, even when I am all grown up. I still thrive on the simplest of pleasures and simplest of acknowledgement from the people that I love and care about. This is what that still makes happy.

Relationships might not be easy. I might not have lot of experience in this area. But looking back at this memory, I realized one basic thing – Acknowledge the person and the person’s efforts for you. Respect each other. Love without any boundaries or limitations. Elementary things. Simplest of simple things. But these are the things that matters the most.To me, to you and to everyone! This is what makes us all happy.

I still do not have the answer to “What is happiness?” but now, I can feel and understand what makes me happy. Must focus on it. Like Charles Bukowsi said, I must keep finding things that I love and let it kill me.
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Listen

Listen to yourself, even when people around you keep saying nay to the thing that you want to do.

Listen to them, if you do not want to hurt them. But, do what you wanted to do anyway.

Stand up to your fears and face them. Not many have the courage to listen to themselves and carry out things as they had exactly planned. Do not let anyone put across their reasons as to why you shouldn’t do it. If you feel strongly about it – that you should do it, do it.

There will be consequences to your actions, but do not worry about it now. Do not worry about how the consequence will turn out. Do what you have been planning to do. Because, once you go through what you have planned, it will set you free. You will feel light and peaceful.

Why am I saying this? Because, today is the day, I set myself free. I listened to myself and summed up my courage to take the step to do what I want. I did what I wanted.

I did it.

One step at a time.
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