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WE RISE BY LIFTING OTHERS – A SHORT STORY

Ranu sat down tired, looking at her grandson playing in the dirt. Her azure blue eyes and grey hair were remanent of the days when she was the most sought after young girl in her village in Nepal. Her grandson Panku, reminded her of her husband, Chote Lal. Panku had the same broad forehead, curly hair, snub nose and eyes like almonds.

Ranu was married at fifteen and by the time she was eighteen she was already a mother of two bubbly kids. She was married to a man double her age. He had promised to take good care of her and he kept his promise, but Ranu did not feel a connect with him. He was too calm as opposed to her biosterous breezy nature. She felt he was her guardian not husband. It was during this time she saw Chote Lal for the first time.

Ranu had run automatically with the crowd toward the village well pulling her little one. Running along she filled herself with details. A child about six years had fallen into the well. There was commotion all around. The child’s mother was wailing, people were running helter skelter for help. By the time Ranu reached near the well, she saw a young man had tied a rope on his waist and had already jumped into the well. Next day she saw him carrying a load for an old lady even though he was going in the opposite direction. Then she saw him again, helping a farmer pull out the wheel of his cart stuck in slush. Even though he was plain looking she realised she was attracted to him, perhaps because she admired the way he helped others.

Chote Lal was what you call ‘Jack of all trades‘. There was hardly a thing he could not do. He had just moved into their village and nobody knew much about him, and he didn’t speak about his past either. He became the village handyman soon and could be seen doing many odd jobs.

Ranu’s husband had called in Chote Lal when their roof began leaking during the monsoons. Ranu saw this young man of twenty two coming daily and trying to mend the roof even in pouring rain. She would ask him to take a break but he replied, you have little children in the house.

One day Ranu confessed her love to Chote Lal and convinced him to elope to India. She told him to meet her at the bus stop and she brought her little children with her.

A fortnight later they were married and moved into a small village in the foothills of Himalayas. As earlier, it did not take Chote Lal long to establish himself. He began working as a gardener in the farm house of a predominantly rich man who spent most of his days in the town with his family. His patron gave him some land to build home for his family. Chote Lal picked up many jobs from being a gardener, to a scrappicker, to a plumber and an electrician, he was everyone’s favourite handyman. He bought two cows and started selling their milk too. He worked hard as he now had four children to look after. Ranu took care of the home, children and cows. She tried helping Chote Lal whenever she could.

They were leading a happy life except, the benevolent nature of Chote Lal, which had attracted her to him now seemed like a bane. He went rushing out even at odd hours to help anyone in need. Even the slightest discomfort of others evoked the most altruistic response from him. Not that he neglected his family, she worried for him. He was the most selfless person she had met and she often wondered what would happen if he needed help someday.

When their patron’s wife passed away, Chote Lal walked ten miles to reach the cremation ground even though he hadn’t recovered from the broken shin bone he got while repairing someone’s roof. His only explanation was that Sir would be lonely at this hour.

He would deliver milk to their patron’s home everyday without fail, be it rain or storm or snow. It had been his practice since he bought the cows. On that fateful day too he had gone to deliver milk and never came back.

Chote Lal had married his two daughters into good families. They were well educated and worked as nurses in a hospital. His sons were doing good too. His elder son worked as a clerk in a bank and his younger one was still studying. Despite the best efforts of his children he did not stop working. His would quote his favourite saying ” we rise by lifting others”, and get busy with his work.

It was a very cold January morning and Chote Lal had been suffering from high fever, yet early morning he was ready to deliver the bottles of milk. Ranu pleaded with him to skip one day, but he would have none of it. By the time he delivered the bottles and had to come back it had begun snowing accompanied by a blizzard.

Chote Lal was offered hot tea, and prepared to leave bidding farewell to his patron, who begged him to stay put, keeping in view the weather outside. But as always, Chote Lal had a promise to keep. He had promised to repair someone’s gas burner and they will be waiting for him.

On his way back, he tredged slowly as his leg hurt and his fever was back. As he walked along the road he saw a puppy stuck in the snow on a cliff. The poor creature was wailing loudly because of cold and also because of fear. The cliff had a sharp face, but Chote Lal decided to bring the puppy down. How could he leave him stuck up there? He balanced himself precariously and after a lot of struggle managed to put the little puppy out of his plight. He was happy to see him walk across the road. As he was moving down, Chote Lal slipped. His head hit the pavement and he lost consciousness. Lying on the side of the road the snow began to collect on him.

Passers-by saw him, but none stopped to help or check on him. A man who lived all his life helping others, lay helpless till the snow covered him in a white shroud.

By evening Ranu was anxious and in desperation called the patron. He panicked too, as Chote Lal had left long time ago. He went out to check himself and called on Chote Lal’s mobile. To his dismay he heard it ringing under the snow in Chote Lal’s pocket, not even hundred metres from his home.

Deepika..

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ART OF LETTING GO

As individuals we all tend to cling on to what we love. It could be our pet, our friends, boyfriends,the home where we live, our school, even the circumstances we may be in. But life unfailingly transforms and we have to learn to let go of situations, places and people, many times even before we are actually prepared for it. Letting go becomes important for us to move forward.

Our predisposition and character is to look back and our mind tends to focus on how things used to be. When relationships end or a treasured person leaves us and departs, we have to allow ourselves the time to grieve and then learn to let go. This is what we have heard and have been following for a long long time. We tend to hole up in our home and become disinterested even in the routine chores.

However, the Buddhist way of looking at letting go or detachment is very interesting. They unlike many of us do not look at loving someone as the need to possess. They beautifully explain letting go as:

Loving someone more than you have ever loved them before. Non-attachment only happens when our love for another extends beyond our own personal expectations of gain or our anticipation of specific, desired outcome.

Tich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist Master

It certainly is the most beautiful explanation of detachment I’ve ever read. You don’t need to lock yourself in a room or cut yourself off from the real world to let go.

When you have to say goodbye to your friend or love you feel a lot of pain. Specially when you know that your paths may not intertwine again. That feeling of pain is not true detachment. Your joy should arise from the fact that the person you loved has found happiness even if does not involve you.

Without detachment, explains Master Hanh, love becomes egoistic. It wants to possess. It becomes selfish and wants to cling on to the person or situation, making love more and more destructive.

If you truly want to let go, love the person more and wish them happiness and success. Be happy for them in the place they are now.

For love to be true love, it must have elements of compassion, joy and equanimity – and this is truly letting go. The real secret is that letting go is not an art, it is an allowing. It is completely selfless because your sense of ‘self’ is no longer asserted in every situation.

The Mind Unleashed

What I wrote up till now was emotional element of letting go. The detachment in love. But all of us our attached to even small items collected over the years. We become sentimentally attached to these and they begin to cause clutter in our home and minds . Thus leading to stress and exhaustion. For example you have a box full of cards your little ones made, a doodle they made as 1 year old, souvenirs from our friends or loved ones. We are sentimentally attached to all of these. We fear losing the precious memories if we discard them.

Even though it may be hard, the truth is, keeping all these items leaves us drained as it increases the clutter around or homes. So how do we know what to keep and what to discard?

We need to first understand that losing the items will never make the memory fade away. A truly precious memory is part of us forever. To be able to let go of the stuff you need to recoginse which items bring you absolute joy, only those are worth keeping. Believe me letting go of many articles will bring you more peace than keeping them there.

I’ve talked of very few areas where you may need to let go. I’m sure there must be many other things and spheres where detachment will bring you joy and happiness.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.

Herman Hesse

Please feel free to share your experiences of letting go.

Deepika..

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BANNED!!!

Newspapers everyday are filled with the news of something being banned or people asking for a ban on something.

Too much traffic ban vehicles, too much plastic ban plastic, too much noise ban speakers, too much merriment ban parties. Ban books, ban movies, ban people, ban animals, ban this, ban that. Banning seems to be seeping deep into our socio-political culture. All of us are a drop of hat away from pronouncing a ban on something. I ban TV for my children when they do not obey.

Banning is easy. To ban ‘it’ is perceived as the most common solution for many real and imagined problems. Banning is, however, a lazy policy, I believe. How can you make ‘it’ go away by banning ‘it’? ‘It’ will be there, maybe hidden somewhere, or swept under the carpet. Banning something will not stop it from happening. It would of course give the legal system more power to deal with it in a different spectrum.

When a ban is enforced on certain behaviour it may certainly have a deterrence effect on it. But will the behaviour be modified? I highly doubt. I believe that the behaviour may actually worsen because now it will be criminalised. On the surface the ban will please a majority of people, but in the long term effects may be unsatisfactory and even unpredictable.

Banning something, I feel actually increases the interest of people in it. It becomes like the forbidden fruit you want to taste. More than that I think, banning something is not the solution. When you ban something you fail to correct human behaviour. You are not holding the person responsible for the wrong, you are blaming ‘it’, the inanimate thing.

I read of ban on use of loud speakers after eleven at night. Loud music disturbs everyone, but we do not realise that when we are the ones celebrating. A ban is necessary because we are not sensitive to each others needs. A ban on crackers because we still do not understand the ill effects of pollution. When we become more responsible and answerable then the need for ban will not be there.

But then there have been bans of the bizzare kind. I found few on the net. I do not vouch for the truth of these bans, but I found these preposterous.

  • LIP-SYNCHING

Turkmenistan bans lip-synching at large cultural events and on TV programming. In 2005, President Saparmural Niyazou banned lip-synching in order to preserve true culture. He also banned opera and ballet deeming them unnecessary. ( source https://www.quora.com/what-are-some-strange-things-banned-in-countries )

  • SCRABBLE

In the 80’s Romanian leader Nicole Ceausescu banned the game calling it “subversive” and “evil”. Luckily the ban is no longer there.

  • CHEWING GUM

Well, in Singapore there is a ban on the import or sale of gum. So it gets impossible for locals to get any. Except if it is medically prescribed. The ban was imposed in 1992 when someone used chewed gum to bring the public transportation system to a halt! How??

  • ALCOHOL ADVERTISEMENTS

In India you cannot advertise alcohol. The ban came into effect in the 1990’s. Many companies have tried to get around the ban by promoting surrogate products.

  • TIME TRAVEL

Not literally. China bans the movies and shows about time travel. Chinese authorities felt that representattions of time travel resulted in frivolous depictions of “serious history”

  • BLACK JEANS

North Korea bans wearing black jeans (among various other things). You can only wear blue jeans. Black is a colour, apparently associated with United States.

  • GAMBLING AT CASINO IF YOU ARE A CITIZEN OF MONACO

Yes! Despite being a symbol of Monaco, Monte Carlo Casino does not allow citizens of Monaco to enter and gamble there. In 1860’s Prince Charles III was afraid that his citizens would lose all their money there. It was perfectly fine for foreigners to do so.

  • DYING IN THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT

In United Kingdom one is not allowed to die inside the Houses of Parliament as that would entitle one to a state funeral. Don’t know how they would prosecute you for breaking this law?

  • RUNNING OUT OF GAS ON AUTOBAHN

Autobahn is the federal controlled highway system in Germany and you cannot run out of gas while driving there. And if you do, do not think of walking to the gas station as walking on Autobahn is also banned.

  • PONYTAILS ON MEN

The Iranian government issued a list of appropriate male hair styles in 2010, which prohibits ponytails, mullets and hair that is too spiky.

Was that a long list? I’m sure it can be longer though. The idea behind this was to make us think: Is banning helpful or should we focus on correcting the underlying human behaviour so banning can be banned.

Deepika…