Tag Archives: life

Should relationships have expiry dates?

When I was in middle school I often had these episodes when I used to stop talking to my classmates as a result of random fights. Sometimes, the fights wouldn’t even be explicit. We just stopped talking for a period which varied between two days to even two months at a stretch. But once that period was over, we started talking normally as before, as if nothing had happened.

I think not confronting issues straight up is ingrained in Indian culture. We like our periods of not talking, fuming separately.

But having worked in corporate set up for several years now, I think I have become slightly better at confrontations. I have learnt not letting things go without explanation.

Sometimes when it comes to personal relationships though, it still gets tricky. Should relationships have expiry dates? Or can we fall in and out of touch, and then resume back contact after a period as easily as it was during those childhood days?

I have done that as well, as an adult. Trying to patch things up.

But as I get older, somehow, I have started letting things go. We hope people will change, but sometimes it takes too long. Do we want to tolerate that strained relationship hoping that person would change or see to your point of view? At the same time, you know you are changing as a person and your priorities are changing too. So maybe you are already in a zone from where things can only diverge further and any chance of convergence is because in your heart you wish to live in an alternate reality, knowing well it would never be true.

This is how I feel now. Maybe, some more years and my perspective will again shift. To be honest, with this pandemic, I have often thought that maybe we should abandon all fights and just live in peace. While that is ideal, human nature always surfaces. It’s difficult to hold your patience when you yourself are under a lot of strain. Those fights are perhaps not easy to avoid, even though we wish we can.

I think within Nature there is as much a place for a storm as there is for calm. So, in the end, if it helps you reach your intended level of peace and calm, maybe some fights are worth it.

What do you guys think? Let me know.

A happy memory

This morning mom started feeling weak, perhaps the result of her ongoing battle with Covid. She’s saying it’s the first time in the last 14 days that she has felt this way. Naturally, the emotional state at home is brimming with worry and helplessness.

In a way, we have had it all. We have been dealing with Covid for over 1.5 months now, and it has strained all of us. But do we sit here and keep lamenting? Does not make sense.

So I sat down to focus on a positive memory. The tough part is, I’m having to think a while to come up with something worthwhile.

Here we go:

A long time ago, perhaps when I was in sixth standard, I went to a poetry writing competition. I don’t remember the theme on which we had to write, but I distinctly remember having included the words “because old is gold.” Or maybe I am imagining it. I don’t know. The only thing that I can be very clear on is the fact that I wrote a long poem.

The thing is, I wrote the poem and came back, never bothering to enquire what the results came out to be.

Many days later, one of my schoolteachers who frequented such competitions asked me, “Arpita, did you participate in this event? Because it feels to me like they announced your name as the winner.”

It was surprising to hear him say that. One, because I did not expect this. Second, because I thought if I was indeed a winner, maybe the organizers would find a better way to get in touch with me. I do remember feeling a bit let down, if I had indeed won, at not being able to pick up the prize in front of a cheering crowd.

So I went with a neighbor to this nondescript building where the event had taken place (or maybe, it did have distinct and interesting features, but my memory fails me). Surprising as it was, my teacher was indeed right. They gave me a certificate and a trophy of a respectable size. I had won the first prize!

I remember coming home and feeling so excited about it, at the sheer unexpectedness of things. I don’t remember how my father felt about this, but my mother was definitely happy.

Afterward, this story was repeated many times over, among neighbors, friends and family, until other things pushed it down the stack of memory lane.

If you wish, do write the first happy memory that comes to your mind as you read this. Looking forward to starting a chain of positive memories as we trudge along this pandemic.

The role of a hobby in a crisis

Some of us consciously look for hobbies. Some of us just go on living about our lives, doing the things that need to be done on a day to day basis, without feeling the need to cultivate a hobby.

Sometimes, when one goes through intense periods of crisis, one questions the true purpose and meaning of life. What is the real point of life? Will we see better days? How do we move forward from loss?

These questions all merit thought and discussion. Our low points in life are not few and far between. The daily rigmarole of life is often unbearable in the face of grief. Yet, if one has learnt to invest oneself in things larger than themselves, and actively so, then life feels lot more livable.

As I cope through the loss of my father, I still feel a sense of relief when I see the plants on my rooftop and front yard brimming with life. The loss I have faced is significant, yet, that loss of life is somehow adjusted by abundance of life somewhere else. You then truly learn to appreciate the cyclic nature of life.

My mother, put into a patriarchal setup in a traditional house filled in-laws in ’90s India, has only learnt to serve. A major chunk of her life has been about getting better at household chores, putting food on the plate on time, cleaning utensils and clothes, caring for us when we fall sick. She has not learnt to accept but give, and give selflessly. I have not seen her watching movies or enjoying nice meals at a restaurant. Now that I have picked up some of her work in the household, I realize that it would take a lot of drive to spare time to do things just for fun.

These days, while she is recovering from Covid herself, she has been watching YouTube videos and some TV, none of which she wholeheartedly enjoys. She keeps complaining that she wants to get back to the business of her former life, which is now a shell of what it used to be. I worry for her. I worry that she might feel so lost in despair that she might not know how to move forward. Even as I write this, I know that she perhaps will, but how well?

I feel if she did have a hobby, she might be able to distract herself, focus on something outside of her, have a momentary break from the pain in her heart. Which is why, my brother and I have to be extra careful with her.

I have found, even in these deep times of doom, writing has given me courage. Knowing that I can put these words out here, my feelings exactly as I feel them gives me courage. It makes me feel like I am leaving a small part of myself into these words and leaving behind a little bit of that self. Every moment that I stay focused in creation, I am in a state of metamorphosis, working toward a new self, someone who is stronger for the shells that she loses.

Has your hobby helped you deal with loss or grief? Do share your story with us.

Living with uncertainty

It’s not new that the pandemic has pulled us all into a state of uncertainty. But it’s only when it merges with your existence that you really begin to see the disarray.

A lot of you perhaps know that I lost my father to Covid 19 in May. Mourning the loss of a loved one is tough in itself. In this case, it was intensified further by the fact that we did not have anyone to stand by us in this time. On top of that, I caught an ear infection and have been having a low grade fever for over two weeks. My brother has been coughing for several weeks now. We, however, have tested negative twice for the virus.

One can imagine what all of this combined means for us as a family. Leave aside the fact that we have been wearing masks in the house for over a week. Leave aside the fact that you second guess your own test results every single moment that you think about it. Leave aside the sleeplessness, the constant state of worry that one is in. Life still must go on. Food needs to be cooked, baths need to be taken. Even if your heart breaks, you must get back to work, because you must hold onto every shred of normalcy that you can.

Work gives one a sense of purpose. As the world shuffles and realigns itself around me, I’m still glad to have things around me which are same. The work goals remain the same. While my managers are understanding about my availability and bandwidth, there are still soft deadlines to be met. I gotta buck up and keep going.

My brother bought a new phone today because his old one just gave up on him – and something as simple as seeing him set up the phone gives one the impression that life continues in its own cycle. I ordered a hard disk myself because I no longer have storage on my laptop – thanks to all the videos I shot for YouTube.

Standing today, I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. When tomorrow comes, in hindsight we will know how the story played out. With the benefit of hindsight, we will feel like this was always meant to happen. But in this moment, I’m living and breathing an uncertainty. Of life. Of hopes and dreams. We can only take one day at a time and hold onto as much normalcy as we can. Whatever it takes to get to the other side, whatever it takes!

Forging new relationships off the crumbs of that are no more

Both my father and mother grew up in large families. My father had seven siblings, my mother had three. Of the two, my father was the one who liked socializing the most. He was someone who would try to connect with a random stranger, ask them where they were from and try to find a common acquaintance in the most absurd of ways.

Now that my father is gone, we have been getting so many phone calls from so many different people who have been touched by him in some ways at some points in their lives. There have been relatives with whom we had fallen out of touch, few who we have never spoken to before, several with whom we sort of stopped contact because of differences. In spite of my mother’s frustration, my father kept up with them all. He never would explain why it was important for him to stay in touch with people. He fought with my mom when she got upset about him calling people who didn’t speak to us.

Now that he is no more, those people are calling us and treating us with so much kindness. When our hearts are so broken, their voices and the way they speak about my father are helping us cope. It reminds me how powerful keeping in touch is.

We have all taken our lives for granted, our relationships for granted. We do not forgive easily, we hold onto hurt and anger. Yet in times like this, every morning when I wake up and feel fine physically, I feel gratitude. Even when I console my grieving mother, I tell her that while we have lost something, we still have so much to hold onto.

I try now to spend a bit more time speaking to friends and relatives over the phone, trying to get to know them, learnings bits and pieces of their lives. Maybe this is how I am subconsciously channeling my father’s spirits.

It’s true what they say: the people we love may not be physically present with us, but they are always with us in spirit. It’s true because when you’re faced with a loss so deep, you learn to base your decisions not just by your worldview, but by those of the ones that you lost. In that way, our dead are never dead. They live in us as long as we live. Or as long as we keep them alive in our memories.

On departures and social constructs

Waking up at a different hour than your usual can sometimes be cathartic.

Since the Covid situation started, I have been working out of my home. I no longer have a job which requires me to wake up at 7 AM in the morning to take calls with the onsite. No longer do I even need to wake up at 8 AM, so I can finish breakfast and leave for office on time.

My morning routine these days consists of waking up at an hour which the young me would have been shocked at and wouldn’t have been allowed anyways in my parents’ house. Yet, the whole world is reeling under a pandemic and wake-up hours may be the least of concern to anyone involved.

However, this morning, couple of my flatmates left the flat as they are going back home. To see them off, I woke up at 6.30 AM. They left about 7 AM. Just having woken up at an hour which you probably have not seen for the better part of a year, you have no idea what to do.

I spoke to my mother for an hour, grateful that some people still wake up at decent human hours and are available for a chat. We talked about people leaving and the emptiness left behind – the suitcases that no longer crowd the hall. The utensils which have magically disappeared, the shoe racks which just hold some blank shoe boxes and dirt from the shoes that no longer belong.

Having spent five years in this city, I would say I have grown to not being affected by departure. I have learnt to shut the lid on memories and reopen them when they are convenient or simply gushing into the mind-screen. The weekends past spent on pizza parties are just that – past. I know now that these weekends are not to come back, but what will indeed come by are new people and new memories which come with them.

This pandemic has taught me the importance of being around people in life. In some ways, I am saint-like in my life. I could go hours without talking to anyone, thinking to myself, reading something or just generally doing things which do not matter in the grand scheme of life. Yet, in the handful of parties that have been held in the house in the last month or so and a game of monopoly which I have gotten great at over the period, I realize the importance of the social construct.

I did not grow up learning to respect friendship. It worked back in the day, because we lived in houses filled with nosy relatives or pesky neighbors, people who made your business their business. But here, in the high-rises of Bangalore, no one really cares. If you ever exchange any words, that’s perhaps because you haven’t been responsible with your trash or you cost your neighbors their sweet sleep with your loud music. We are generally good tenants, which means, we don’t often get called out for the two behaviors mentioned above. Which means, we live in a three-bedroom flat, my flatmates and I, and we are pretty much on our own, on our own routine.

And within that, when people come and just fill up your lives, in the form of a maid or a random co-worker of a flatmate who you’ll never see again, somehow it feels good. The world is a beautiful place, but it is made all the more beautiful by the sheer variety of people living in it. In some ways, even the pesky neighbors feel like a fixture of the past era now. There is an odd pain in everything being perfect, without a bother. I do love my solitude, but we will continue to be social creatures until perhaps the end of this civilization, in spite of our machines ripping us off our human interactions. In between, perhaps these pandemics will serve us with a reminder of who we ought to be and what we really need to thrive in the world that we have made up to be so complex.

Help Needed |How to Adult?

Hello WordPress family,

Hope you all are doing well! I’m writing this post to get some quick tips from you all. Let me explain:

As I’m getting into the later half of my twenties and generally learning to figure out how to handle life like a boss, whether be at the personal or professional front, I have been wondering what changes I could possibly make in my day-to-day life to live a more meaningful life.

Hence, this post is an open-invitation to all of you to chip in your two cents on the little things that help you live life more happily and comfortably. It could be something as dry as reading about the stocks to improve personal finance or maybe taking half an hour in the day to call a friend with whom you have lost touch or watching a TV show which can actually help improve negotiation skills.

Any takers?

Some nights speak to you in poetry…

Some nights speak to you. It sits with you, as you hug yourself and tell yourselves lullabies.

Some nights watch you like a predator, a big cat in the night. Shiny eyes sparkling through a tiny gap in the bush.

Some nights writhe in pain, and ask you questions. Why? Why? Why? The sound of your heartbeats. Dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum-dum.

Some nights listen to you as you tell the stories.

Some nights break into a million tears, and vermilion paints the sky red.

Some nights the moon is oddly absent, and big cities do not see the soul of an owl.

Some nights gasps for breath, as you await the final word.

Some nights, after all is said and done, and goodbyes float, some nights, they lull you to peace.

 

Date: 23rd March, 2019

Written within half an hour of watching Masaan. Inspired.

Why would you make actors act if you don’t point the camera at them? Sometimes, it is good.

The City-Dweller’s Diary | Part 1

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Every year in March, the non-evergreens shed their leaves. They shed a year of growth, tiredness, hard work, boredom, memories and lifelessness and go on to become homes to tiny neon-green leaflets. To become young again. To make more memories, to produce more oxygen, to become homes to countless birds, insects and squirrels. Year after year. Growth. Death. Renewal.

As humans, we don’t have a symbolic growth aspect. Our everyday is merged with our regularity. There probably isn’t one single moment which defines a significant change in life. It is gradual. Full of hopes. Full of fears. A literal step ahead, literal two steps backward.

Yet, over the years, our cells are constantly regenerating themselves. Our memories are become weaker – we are inadvertently forgetting some, forgiving some. We are becoming more accepting of the world around us – we are learning to live and let live. The hair is turning grey, and muscles are no longer taut. Yet, we morph into a version of ourselves which is less insecure of how the world sees us.

Traveler, behold! If you made a promise to yourself and never followed through: well, there’s a non-evergreen in everyone of us. Somewhere inside of yourself, you are shedding those leaves. Perhaps you don’t see yet, the growth of those neon-green leaflets. But in the moment you decide to wake up half an hour earlier to see the sunrise, to donate your old clothes to folks who need them more than you, in the moment when you let someone else take the lift because it is full and they are late, when you help a child to learn the alphabet – you grow a neon-green leaflet. Small. Fragile. So much so that it could break. Yet, in it lies the potential to grow bigger, stronger, the provider of purity that sustains the world.

So close your eyes, and nurture the neon-green. Because, at the end of the month, a deeper shade awaits you. Every moment. Every year.

Hello, December!

Dear reader,

A warm Hello to you. Where are you as you read this? Curled up in a warm blanket, with a coffee in your hand? Or are you in a bus or a subway, commuting to office and peacefully reading a slice of other people’s lives, as passengers move in and out at each stop? Or are you in your garden, with a hose in your hand, watching over the big roses that you planted few weeks back? Or are you looking out a grey window, watching over buildings from a glass house, wondering about the purpose of your life?

I am on my bed, my blue blanket snuggled under my legs. My back is against the wall. On my left, from the window daylight shines like in a cloudy day. A motorbike just passed by, wheezing out noise. A carpenter is knocking repetitively on a plank of wood somewhere. Other than that, the sound of my typing into this blank screen adds to the audio spectrum. There is a feeble wind outside as I can see the leaves of a big, nameless tree fluttering. It is about 11.00 AM in the morning.

I have a busy workday ahead of me. At work, we are currently trying to understand how cloud platforms work. My mind is also filled with a bunch of creative ideas, still in their nascent stage, in want of fleshing out. I just finished writing a small piece which will go as a voice-over in one of my videos.

December is here. And to tell you the truth, the cold ain’t so bad yet. I am seeing folks updating pictures of snow on Facebook and WhatsApp statuses, but I don’t feel the chill yet. In a few days, Christmas will be here. The malls, the churches will light up in fairy lights and Christmas trees. It would be a spectacle to behold. We will exchange Secret Santa gifts at work. Maybe, we will go out on 24th night, me and my teammates, and we will sit in front of a church as the night turns into 25th. The air will be chilly, and people would be in colorful sweaters. We will eat cake after the service is over, wish each other merry Christmas, and return home to our comfortable beds.

December is that month when we take stock of the year. The memories that were made. The profits and losses. The balance sheets of life. Did we accomplish our 2018 resolutions? Did we lose that stubborn belly fat? Did we travel more, write more, and make new friends? Did we get over our heartbreaks? Did we lose a loved one? How do we summarize the year, put a final sum in the balance sheet and decide what to prioritize in the coming year?

The coming year. A new blank slate where no child has drawn a unsteady line with the white chalk. A new blank slate,before the duster has been rubbed. A new blank slate with the promise of incredible things happening. A year full of promise. To ourselves, and to others.

As I write this, a fraction of sunlight comes through my window – as if the sun understands the palpable glee in my heart as I write this. In this moment, I am peaceful. In this moment, I am full of hope. In this moment, I do not care how today will turn out and if we will meet the client’s expectations. In this moment, I feel confident that I will do well, today and in the times to come. In this moment, I am truly myself.

Are you?

Love,

Arpita