Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Window To Infinity

Inability to move forth the barrier
Anxiety in staying chained hither
Musings take hold of my existence
And I attempt to look beyond myself

Unsure whether I am an individual or a species
Baffled at the thoughts that I venture into
Wondering if I contain contradictions
As my breath in these multitudes.

The silence of another night speaks
And I see a universe beyond my window
Perhaps dividing illusions and reality
My courage battles with my darkness

As the Lady of Shalott confronts a curse
The curse that created and destroyed humanity
The galaxies in my mind collide
With all their stars floating around.

I wonder if the beauty I witness hither
Is a paraphernalia of conquests or cobwebs
I stand at crossroads unable to decide
Which road would commence my journey

It isn't a dilemma of choices
Rather a conflict of peaceful nothingness.
And I ponder upon the possible worlds
Arising out of the multiple universes

Driven by a minute they turn at the edge
The turn that results in fatality or paradise
My sword rests rusted for I haven't fought a battle
Long since I let this nothingness engulf me.

So much that my heart is immersed into it
But it still doesn't seem dark or rotten
Perhaps being stagnant isn't always poisonous
I glance beyond this transparent wall between worlds

And I remember all that could be done
Trying to trigger a wave of action
That would finally make me take that one step
Stories that now seem to be tales from Aesop's fables.

Is it a plague or mere laziness of an empty mind
But is the mind really empty or just plaqued by dirt.
Something stirs the silence beneath my window
I watch an old shadow beside the creek

It seems dark yet quite familiar
Beneath my skin blood crawls being aware.
The hooded shadow claims to be death
My senses shudder a bit giving way to anxiety

I wonder if it is too early for me to encounter death
But it laughs at me in cacophony
"Haven't you been close to me so often
All when you celebrated the rush of your senses

When you were a kid who couldn't stop taking risks
Climbing difficult terrains, challenging your sphere
Outside the box that was meant for you
Were you afraid of me then?

No. You sought pleasure in defying me
You lived everyday to disown me
And here after so many years you shiver
At the thought of not having lived

Before you are ready to defy my presence
I enjoy your helplessness but not much
I seem powerless without a contender
As strong as the mountains once explored

As vibrant as the waves once surfed upon
My opponent is now consumed by life
Yet the signs of life are dismal enough
Don't you see I am death and you are life

But we are quite similar to each other
The grass that you walked upon in peace
Never succumbs to fear when it dies and regrows
Nor does the ocean which you looked at in awe

And the horizon atop the peak you ascended
Gives in to die and be born again everyday
Only so you could admire the ecstasy
Of the laws that create and sustain you

You knew all of this when you were a kid
Do humans grow up to be nascent
Or do they forget how fragility is strength
Banging their doors to get acknowledged,

Consumed and get drained of what makes them
For they seem to be foolish enough
To take pride in who they have become
Believing the mirage of their superiority over the universe

Ah! How they build giant abodes
And learn to control technology
Seek pleasure to use it for destruction
Hence exhaust themselves for illusions

Before reality knocks at their boxes 
To take them into nothingness
That constitutes them inside out now
Amusing it is to see how they forget it all.

The universe pours them wine
Portraying illusions of power
And they get lured to believe
Nobody greater than them ever existed

I see you too are getting filled
Up to the brim by this vicious trap"
Death mocks at my shallowness
Leaving me dumbstruck and bewildered

Perhaps this was what the sound of waves say
Or when the wind gushes around wavering through my hair
When I feel small facing the vast ocean
That never takes pride for bringing tornadoes

I had realized this when I struggled to reach
Atop the mountain I admired
Or when I fought my first battle 
Against a ruthless clan on the battlefield

Death had stayed with me
But agreed to bid time for me
Till I had seen all that the world gave me
And here I had ceased to remember

That I exist as the smallest atom
To create a universe with the magic I possess
To exist with continuity until one day
When I need to defy my existence

To justify the existence of eternity of ideas
For I will perish one day
But my musings would remain
Echoing through the wind 

Surpassing lands with enormous waves
Merging into Aurora from the peaks
Perhaps reaching minds that wonder
At a window like this that divides

The worlds of illusions and realities
If the contradictions that make them
Constitute unexplored dimensions
That would make them take that step

To realize that death is not fatal
It is the celebration of a journey
Into a world beyond the unexplored horizon
And all this time when they would have survived

Traversed the journey of life
Death awaited them like a true companion
Through eternity, bringing the peace they sought
Reminding them to live before they die

Perhaps Napoleon would have thought this too
Or Ashoka would have embraced truth once he knew
I wonder if these thoughts are the echoes
Of minds that had once existed here forth

Reaching out to my insomniac mind
When the frequencies collide with my insanity
Hither I stand by the ephemeral window
The wall that merges eternity with pauses

And my sword awaits me to brush off the rust
And plunge my existence into the unknown
Battling towards the end of this journey
For another one accompanies me till the end

To venture into the after life one day 
Death awaits me after I have lived enough
There is a celebration in another galaxy
But I will join it once I have celebrated this carousal

I can look back to this world of illusions
Or step ahead from here like humanity
I exist at both sides of the window
And I wonder where I am at twilight

I stand and my sword clings on the edge
I start, I end, I continue till infinity
I am an individual, I am my species,
I die, I am born, I live to die, I die to live..


                                                     

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Changing Dimensions of Ideologies: The Late Twenties

I was travelling to a city when I met this woman in her thirties. Her demeanor was composed like an elegant woman but her attire made her seem deprived and much older than she might have actually been. An hour later she asked me if I was married. Now that is a question which I am often asked, considering

1. I am a woman in her twenty something in India.
2. I am a woman travelling alone.

Any way, I replied that I wasn't and expected another series of usual remarks/questions which I was ready to respond to but to my surprise I didn't receive any of them. Instead I got to know with a sigh of relief from her that she had just been out of an abusive marriage. She had to get married when she was only 20. She told me how she didn't have the courage or the desire to stand up for herself against domestic violence for almost ten years and considered it normal to abide by whatever happened because that was what she had always been told.

Like a normal human being's limit of keeping quiet till the barrier of patience breaks, this lady also stood up for herself one day and turned her back against her abusive husband. Not many of her family members supported her because she had been married for long and nobody wanted to take up her responsibility. Despite that, she reported her husband's actions and stepped out of the house. I asked her how she managed to survive after that. She told me it was a struggle initially but she learnt how to earn by taking up random household chores and managed to create a group of ten such ladies who work with her.

I could see the sparkle in her eyes as she told me how she manages to earn for herself and for her adopted daughter as well as for those women who need help but are lonely. Out of sheer curiosity I asked her what was the most difficult part of this journey of hers. Her reply surprised me and made me ponder upon so many points that I ended up writing about it. I expected her answer to be something about survival when she was abused or later with making her ends meet.

Instead it was a simple reply that making her accept herself again was the most difficult part. When asked why, she said she had never been taught how to do that. She had been involved in making everybody else happy for her life and loved their acknowledgment of who she should have been, which never left the scope of her breathing as she wanted to be. She didn't even know if that was possible until that was the only thing she could do. However, she said she still wasn't sure if she was contented with who she was now.

Our destinations separated us but she initiated a trail in my hyperactive mind(more because it was past midnight). I kept wondering how a child is taught about ideals, goals, beliefs from the beginning of life and an adult who enters the society, probably in late twenties, is already loaded with a baggage of points to live with in conformity. An opaque circle surrounds our existence and every time we wonder what remains outside this circle, there is a friction and we step back inside. Just like not everything that the society teaches us is right, similarly not everything that the society teaches us is wrong.

However, there exists a gap, between the knowledge that every human being is supposed to live in a way different from every other human being and the belief that every human being is supposed to live just like every other human being. There is a constant battle inside the mind of every human alive on Earth and it is forgotten that genetic diversities are not confined to the cells that constitute our body but extend to the frequencies that our minds emit as well. 

But just like the lady in the story above, we all have a breaking point, where we decide whether to step outside our circle of beliefs if we feel there might be another set of beliefs which could satiate our brimming pools of discontentment. Fair enough, we might have spent slightly less than a quarter of our lives living a set of ideologies which we feel could have another picture and we decide to embrace another set of ideologies which we could get aligned with. 
                                             
                                                        

    
Here comes the big question: How are we ever going to be sure whether we have arrived at our set of norms? By norms/ideologies, I don't mean the values which define us(some of them are hardwired into out sub conscious minds and actually make us unique). Neither am I trying to point to the political/religious/social beliefs that we have(because these were not hardwired into our minds, but we embraced them as we grew up according to our needs). I am trying to highlight the point of continuity in our lives when we switch to another pattern of beliefs.

Do you see the flaw here? We 'switch' to another set of beliefs, starting from a point 'zero', restarting as though our previous ideologies which we do not want to follow now, never even existed. Let's say we agree to this, does this whole new set conform to our existence(which till now was in congruence with our past beliefs)? Because we aren't even sure if this set will remain with us till the end of our lives. Obviously no. We are what our story till now has made us. From an optimist's perspective, you could say this is a part of our existence meant to make us learn. From a pessimist's perspective, you could even say that your mistakes would never leave you. 

This is a common phenomenon that we experience in our late twenties. Our minds have outgrown the ideas that we could get from our existing set of ideologies and we have entered a world which is open to be judged by ourselves, rather than our elders. We start doubting our patterns of beliefs and feel that the only way out of this is to escape and adorn a set of beliefs which conforms to our unique genes. No doubt, some of them do so. But we shed behind our existing patterns like one half of ourselves and step inside the new circle with the other half only to feel incomplete, till the day we yearn for another circle. It is a never ending cycle.

However, that's not the root of the problem. The issue is we start afresh only to get trapped in another circle of a new set of norms and then struggle to overcome the friction till we reach the breaking point of our barriers. There we miss the tiny aspect of continuity, of open loops and of shaping ourselves from everything that our minds have absorbed till now.

I could take the crudest example that I can think of. When I was 5, I believed in God and thought that those who didn't are manifestations of devils who are doomed to be burnt in hell. When I was 25, I knew fairly that it was just a point of view if one didn't believe in God and for God, it didn't really matter. Obviously, I no longer hated people who were atheists. In fact, I enjoyed conversing with them because it made me understand more clearly than earlier as to how they think. I still believe in God as I did. However, this did not mean that I shed aside the fact what I had once believed about atheists. In fact, it is this continuity which makes me enter an open loop where I can question what is right or wrong and update my opinions or stick to my own if I find them wrong.

Why does the continuity to accept differences and the fact that we could be changing what we think seem so suffocating when it is natural with our cells evolving every day? The basic idea that we forget is that we are born to get evolved, physically, mentally, emotionally. And how do we implement this? Well for me, I had started this with practicing my contradictions of existing and new ideologies together.

It seemed complex at first but if I now see, it is not only simple but enriching and liberating as well because I never feel trapped inside a circle. I could have hated being with people who had given me bitter experiences in past or my wrong decisions. When I knew they didn't matter as long as I was ready to face challenges, make mistakes and let them go, I was at peace with everything that had ever existed. Another instance, when I was young, I loved to spend time with my friends. As I grew up, I outgrew the whole concept of friendship about being together or dependent. Consequently, I might have friends but I am more of a loner and hardly attend gatherings. 

Being an introvert, I like to spent most of my time alone, working at something or the other. I do step out of this zone, spend time with a few people and then come back to my zone. Neither does it mean that I am being a conformist nor does it mean that I am being a liberal. I am just being myself and it is fair enough to learn so much from the kind of people I observe, surround myself with or meet every day. It is not just late twenties, I would believe that it will continue for the rest of our lives. Of course all the beliefs could be updated. :D 

It isn't going to trap me in any way, as long as I know it is just a matter of continuity. For those who are wondering what was the point of this thought, why not try and step out of your trap. Whether you want to embrace the novelties or stick to your frame is a matter of what you find right or wrong. Any idea that you entertain, any person whom you meet or any place you visit is bound to trigger a thought inside your subconscious whether you acknowledge it or not. More than that, what you read, what you absorb, your language, all of it, affects the way you perceive ideologies.

Imagine if we have a frame through which we can witness our past, present and future all at once, what would we want to choose? It is as wide as this perspective, much like when you stand on the edge of a cliff, you can witness the vast ocean beyond yourself, but when you look back, you can also see the land behind you, like a reflection. You exist in both the places even if they divide the frame. As for the story in the beginning, I am sure at some point the lady will come to terms with who she is too, just like all of us, because it wasn't her story that was the point of this, it was yours, mine, everyone else's that was the point of this thought. 

Keep the loop open! :) 

                                                               





Sunday, 8 January 2017

Inception-- Of A Rendezvous

There are some things in life we seem to cherish only when our continuously ignored desires overcome our rational beliefs. I was undergoing the same thing when they crossed the threshold level in my mind and I finally decided to give into what my heart had been telling me to do since the past few months. Incidentally for me, it was a December night. It had been more than a year since my life had taken the most recent turn and I was on a journey that I pursued to find a destination I would love. I had come far from my history such that I could be ready to dive into the unexpected experiences in life. But I was unable to find a course on my journey. I was unsure of where I had wanted to go, may be not much unsure about the where, but about the how part.

                                                 
 

I had wanted to abandon routine for a while then, my job, my life, my circle(which is confined as such because I don't interact with people regularly)and longed to step out and find out what I had been looking for. I had wanted to shut myself from everywhere to set out on a new journey. 

Well, that isn't easy enough when you have 
1. a stable job , 
2. a dearth of leaves from your workplace, 
3. a bubbling desire to transform the mundane into magic,
4. your parents who are there and get worried if you talk about alienating yourself from the world. (They think you have undergone some Psychological change and ask you to socialize or worse, to get married, neither of which seems like an option to you, because they fear you might leave the routine and escape to the Himalayas, which isn't the case most of the times.)

So this was quite an insight for me to cover. But I wasn't going to a remote village in the Himalayas as my parents would think. I was going to a familiar place, a place that wasn't related to me in any way but which I had always loved, a place which unknowingly reminded me of my roots, of who I used to be when I was a kid. I didn't know if I had questions. I didn't even know if I sought answers. But I had an instinct which drove me to that place, and I had known that I never regretted my impulsive, intuitive actions. I was, at a bus station on a December night, because impulsive decisions don't give you the liberty to adjust the flight or train schedules, and I needed to accept that fact too. I waited for my bus to arrive, of course, enjoying the chill, because December brings warmth to me, for unknown reasons.
                                               
I had to switch two trains and a bus to and that was an intermediate station from where I had to board a bus to reach my destination. As I waited for my bus to arrive, I was engrossed in the book I was reading. It was by my favourite author of course, Paulo Coelho. My intermediate stop was a small but the most prominent and the safest one in the vicinity since it was a small hill station on my way. This wasn't the usual route but my impulsive plan had made me take the longer and the unusual route to reach the place. I wasn't there to visit hill stations for that matter. I was travelling to a place that felt mine and it was just going to be for a day. Amidst the cold night, I was waiting for it to snow but there were no signs of even a single flake.

I decided to take a look around and observe the place. There wasn't much commotion. The only passengers apart from me waiting in the lobby of that bus station were an elderly couple and a woman probably in her late forties. The old couple seemed lost, trying to find comfort and warmth in each other. Yes, it was cold. Just that I loved it much to ignore the fact. The elderly woman asked for a cup of tea and he rose, leaving the shawl for her. The woman noticed me looking at them and smiled. I smiled back and realized I seemed like a stalker, so I shifted my attention towards the woman. She was alone I assumed. I couldn't see her face clearly. Her gaze was fixed at a distance in the dark. I wondered if she thought about things which went on in my mind occasionally, but then sidetracked the idea because it seemed too weird.

It was 9:30 at night and the place already seemed deserted. My bus was expected to arrive in another ten minutes and would take 5 hours to reach my destination. I calculated that I would be just in time for something I didn't want to miss. The announcement for my bus was made at last. I grabbed my bag and headed towards the indicated area. It was going to be a long journey, so I plugged in my earphones and decided to get some rest. It wasn't my hour to sleep but it was my hour to contemplate in the most active form I could. I opened the pages in my mind and wondered what questions wandered in the deepest oceans I had been trying to avoid.

I didn't realize when I had dozed off. It was only when I heard the bus tires screeching that I woke up. Something had gone wrong. The driver informed us that the engine had broken down and it was difficult to get it repaired before morning.We were at the outskirts of the city. I checked the time. It was 2-30 in the morning and dark and cold. I had to reach the Peace Pagoda Monastery by 4-30 in the morning in order to join the prayer. I was going to be in Darjeeling only for a day and I didn't want to miss that. I looked around to check what the other passengers would do in the midst of the wilderness. Most of them decided to wait till the morning. I contemplated upon the lonely half an hour walk to the Monastery from there, the risks involved and the dangers of getting lost in an unknown place.

I gathered courage and decided to walk up to my destination. Just when I had started walking along the hillside, I heard footsteps following me in the dark. I turned around but couldn't see anyone. Baffled, I raced my steps and continued to walk. After almost half an hour of walking, I still couldn't see lights and began to worry a little. It was a hilly forest, an unknown city and its outskirts and I was alone. This could be foolishly unsafe. I wondered where this impulsive decision could lead me just when I heard my name. I got startled. It wasn't obvious for anyone to call me by my name in this place, in the middle of nowhere.                                                                                    

                                                     
Cautiously, I turned again and saw a woman waving at me. She approached me and it was only when she got close enough, I realized that she was the same woman whom I had seen at the bus station. I still couldn't see her face clearly though but I sighed with relief.

As she smiled at me, I blurted with a little anxiety, "Err..do you know the way to Peace Pagoda Monastery from here? I think I am lost and I need to reach over there by 4-30. Could you please help me?"

"I was going the same way. I stay in the Monastery. You aren't lost, you just seem to have taken a circled route around the hill. It doesn't mean you won't get there on time,"

"No, it doesn't mean that", I looked at her intently. Her gaze was different, more like a motherly gaze, but seemed familiar. I couldn't understand why. We started walking, rather I started following her, as if enchanted by her demeanour. She looked elegant in every way, a woman dressed in a simple saree, moving around calmly, with no visible aura of negativity around her. There was silence between us, but it didn't seem awkward. For reasons I didn't know, her presence made all my previous anxieties of being lost, fade away in the mist.

                                                 

And then she chose to break the silence, "What does a 26 year old woman in the middle of this hilly forest far from her world, think about battles?"

Her question surprised me. How could a stranger know about me so accurately. Did she look up for me purposely? I doubted for a minute and then composed myself to look normal and answered, "Well Ma'am, she thinks everyone fights a battle. They just need to know the purpose and their reasons."

"What if they cannot figure them out?", her question startled me again, because that was exactly what I had been thinking all along my journey.

"Eventually everyone does I guess."

"And what do you think about those who can't do it in the moment? Do you think they are lost?"

I didn't know what to answer.

She continued," I guess you know the answer. You just feel reluctant to acknowledge it."

"I am not sure what the answer should be. I feel it is alright to find answers on my own, the way I want. But I survive in a world where timing becomes a crucial factor perhaps. I could talk about battles, winning them, losing them or abandoning them for my own reasons, but nobody knows what will work out in the long run. I may not seem to know what I seek. Or may be I have the answers, but the questions which haunt me ruin them all."

She listened to me without looking back, but stopped and waited till I reached by her side, before she started walking again. My flashlight had turned off. She handed me a small battery-powered light. The wind seemed to creep in through my jacket but that didn't bother me. I had always loved this chill. I couldn't hide my smile. She had noticed it. She broke the silence once again.

"Have you heard the story of a girl who didn't know who she was until she lost a battle?"

I hadn't. I nodded in disagreement.

She continued, "There was this girl in an ancient kingdom. She grew up in the local tribe, but did not know how to fight. She wasn't supposed to join the wars that they fought. Years later, when they started teaching their girls how to fight, she learnt it too. But it wasn't until she found a secret hidden in the hills far away that she realized she could find her sword, and use it to protect her people and win over all the battles. She did find her sword and used that secret. She thought she had found her purpose. That it was all she had to do in her life. Little did she know that the misleading secret had been placed by her enemies purposely because they knew her abilities. And they knew that intoxicating one's thoughts was far more powerful than inflicting a physical injury, if they wanted to win over something."

"By inducing weakened ideas they could affect her mind forever?" I asked.

She nodded and continued,"You are getting there. A thought that is fed by a belief which turns out to be untrue, hampers a complete wave of actions and subsequent abilities. Everything was fine until she entered the battle but lost it."

"But she did have her sword? It wasn't governed by secrets! She knew how to fight, didn't she?"

"I am glad you can realize that. She hadn't been able to for some time. Like all of us. It was only when she felt completely lost and desolate, that she couldn't find a purpose on her journey. She didn't know why she was heading further and didn't understand what she had to seek. But it was then, that she wanted to go on and start over. All she knew was to sharpen her sword and use it. And that didn't require any secrets. She could hate that sword because it had made her forget her skills and rely on a secret which didn't exist. It was a reminder of her mistakes. But she didn't discard it."

I didn't want to interrupt her, but I could imagine myself fighting a battle without a purpose. I didn't know if she was making up that story, but it felt right.

"What happened next?", I couldn't stop myself from asking her.

"Again you know the answer already. She didn't have to discard her abilities or her sword for her mistakes. It is alright to make the wrong choices and not know where to go further. She didn't know what she could do, so she just did what she knew and wanted to do. She sharpened her sword and her abilities, which didn't require any secret. It was more like a penance for years. She felt she was lost but she wasn't. She was just rebuilding herself from the scratch not to fall ever. And then she entered the battlefield again. Of course she won this time. Can you tell me why?"

"Because she knew that it wasn't any magical secret which needed to be known now. Rather, she didn't rely upon it anymore. She only believed in her toiling efforts of valour and strength. She believed in her ability and faith to win, and in her conquest of being lost and found, she knew the journey had been necessary. She endured it all and admired it too", it was my turn to smile now, which she seemed to notice through the faint light.

"Well, it takes a lot to acknowledge this. People seldom find their purpose at the right time, but then all the turns they take lead them where they are supposed to be."

We had reached the gate of the Monastery. She directed me inside and said,"I am sure you will find all your answers within. Peace is what you seek outside, peace is what gets reflected from inside. But if it makes you happy, you can make it a point to visit this place for a single day, any time you like, or Winter if that's how you like it."

"How do you know that about me?" I was in disbelief.

"You know the answer", she replied.

As she said that, it started to snow. It soothened me from within. I had been waiting for it to snow ever since I had entered the vicinity. But listening to the story had made me forget that I had wanted to ask her how she knew so much about me. I directed her flashlight in my hands towards the point where she was supposed to be standing, but there was nobody. I tried to look for her everywhere, but she wasn't there.

The alarm in my phone notified me that it was 4-20 AM. I dropped the idea of finding her. Enlightened, soothened and a bit confused, I joined the prayer. The humming, chanting and praying made me enter a state of trance where I found myself in the middle of the same forest where I had been some time ago. But it was soothing this time. I contemplated upon all my life choices and questions which I hadn't been noticing till now. I knew the answers. As I opened my eyes in the dawn of realizations, I knew it was time to embrace the uncertainties and follow my road wherever it took me. I was going to find my abode and my purpose. It was more like a beginning, rather than an end.

                                           
   

With the blissfully calm Winter aurora, I made it a point to step out of the Monastery and visit my beloved hill station once before I decided to come back for another rendezvous some time. It was a day of peace and contentment. I had to leave at 5 in the evening. I was still wondering about the woman. I thought it would be polite to meet her again and return her flashlight. I returned to the Monastery and asked the Reception Guard, "Do you know where is the lady who lives here? I have something to return to her."

"Madam, We do not have any lady in charge of receiving people who come here."

"No, I was escorted by someone who said she lives here. I had got lost on the outskirts and she helped me find my way till here."

"You must be mistaken Madam. You arrived here last night."

"I didn't! I arrived here in the morning."

"No Madam. You can check your entry". He showed me my credentials with my signature stating the time to be 2-30 AM. I was baffled. I didn't know what to say. I picked up my bag and left from there wondering if everything I had experienced had been a dream.

I smiled at the possibility of such a dream and boarded my train. I decided to make it a point to visit the place nevertheless. As I took my book out of my bag, I found the small flashlight that she had given to me on my way. It still worked!

I turned it around and found the word inscribed, "RENDEZVOUS".

I closed my eyes, pictured her, my journey and my decision to visit the place again and realized--- It hadn't been a dream. It had been the Inception of a series of Rendezvous, may be in another world.

                                                     

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Let The Soul Wander In Dust

In the late twenties age group of lives, the Y-Generation or the generation from the early 90's as we say, commonly experiences a phenomenon which could be termed as 'Emotional Hedonism' which some people vaguely term as 'Bipolar Disorder'(which is not exactly correct though). These are periodic mood swings ranging from extreme highs to extreme lows, or even the feeling of being social for a minute and then feeling alone in the crowd. One could feel lost and focused at the same time and still experience motivation as well as vagueness.

We could wonder why our parents never had such issues. Perhaps they belonged to a real world which was confined to a sphere they could reach. We, on the other hand, belong to a world which is governed by virtual spheres which have no boundaries. The endlessness of this world makes us feel that we have an unbounded circle of people for us, but in reality, it just secludes us from the fast paced lives and makes us feel alone. Moreover, due to this we tend to forget that there is no such thing as the ultimate happiness or ultimate sadness. Our minds are designed in such a way that when we experience incidents, we tend to feel extreme vibrations of happiness/sadness for a few minutes but after some time, our emotions adjust themselves to our normal levels of happiness, depending upon each individual.  We could wonder why however, we let them affect our normal routines, if the effects are momentary.

When I was a a kid, I used to believe that elders had the answers to all the questions anyone could ever think of. My obvious approach to a problem I couldn't solve was to consult my elders and find a solution based on their perspectives. However, sometimes I wondered if they were correct. Just like me, my elders too would have been dependent on their elders for their beliefs. So it was more of a game of perceptions. As I grew up, I realized that it wasn't just their answers but the approaches as well, that weren't absolute. There couldn't be anyone in this world who knew the answers or perceived everything objectively. We are humans, right? But then I wondered why nobody ever thought of these facts when confronted with questions. If nobody knew the answers, it simply meant that we had to find our own at any point in our lives. Yet sometimes we tend to forget that it is only we who could find the answers, as many as we can.                                                                                        
And this does not(in any way) mean that we need to follow a strict pattern to find our answers. Just as we have unique approaches, so do we have unique answers for every individual. Each one could be driven by one's own karma, one's own beliefs, one's own passions. For some, the answers could lie in a sense of purpose, for others they could exist in another world or universe. However, we have to embark a journey of our own, one that is not driven by anybody else. I believe that anyone who has never been alone for some time and done something to find one's own reflection, needs to do it once before they breathe their last. Because in our last moments, we do not remember people, we do not remember places, but we remember who we had been throughout our lives. It not only teaches us how to find our answers, to the questions that remain stuck through our minds, but also understand our lives, our experiences and ourselves. I have seen different people taking different routes to do so. But talking about the phenomenon I mentioned in the beginning, an impulsive generation like ours, has varied options, distractions as well as layers to travel inside ourselves. This doesn't make it simple though, for those who still want to figure out themselves.

                                                   

There are no rules to be followed when we pursue a journey meant to find ourselves. Who knows the rules anyway. I have seen many people following a passion which fulfills them with a sense of achievement and purpose. But for those who have none, there is something that they are still missing out-- the real world. Yes, they need to step out. Change the pattern of life that is followed and move out of it. If not forever, make a change for some time and get to know yourself. How? By getting to know the world that exists outside, the world that you still haven't seen. Step out and travel-- if not to places far away, travel nearby, perhaps to a place in your locality. For once, do not be dependent on Google Maps or Apps that answer your questions. The world still has people who could help you out. Talk to them in the real world.

One could ask how that would help. Well, since I am still an explorer, I answer this as per my observations and experiences. When we step outside, alone, and face strangers, in new places and new situations, listen to them, experience the unexpected; we are not adding to their stories for their sake, we actually witness a part of ourselves that had never appeared before. Imagine how wonderful it is to find a new dimension of yourself and say ,"Hello buddy! Never seen you before" and you get an answer, "I had always been there. Was just waiting to be found." Well, yes that reminds me of the Soul Mate theory too, which I had discussed long back, but it feels more enlightened to find various dimensions within ourselves. The best part is when we remain open to any aspect that we encounter within ourselves, because Hey who knows the rules, and it is our journey.

One thing that I have seen people holding back is fear-- the fear of unknown, the fear of being damaged, the fear of being judged. What I have learnt in my journey is that none of these fears are as huge in reality as they seemed when they held me back. And all that I found out about myself was on the other side of those fears. What is the worse that could happen? I could get lost, broken. Well, till now I have seen myself rising after every defeat, and every time, better than earlier. If we remember that after the extreme incidents, we always regain our normal state of personalities, there is nothing that could happen to us as such. We need not carry the burden of our previous experiences to find out new facets of our lives.

As for the world, opinions always exist, but they say nothing about us, they are a reflection of what people have been through and of what they perceive of our personalities. Correcting them is not our task. They are on their own journeys and need to find out their own answers, because their questions differ. What we need to think about is our courage to accept what we find of ourselves. Because believe me, when the unknown arrives, we have an inner critic continuously reminding us of our boundaries, pulling us back into our spheres, and hindering our creativity to find ourselves. Let's call this critic as 'The Other' inside our minds.

'The Other' can be calmed down, rather made to sit back, by believing that it is only and only our core values that shape our personalities, and not our past behaviours, actions or mistakes and they should never pull us down. As a matter of fact, we need to make as many mistakes as we can and we should. Also, there is no time limit to restrict them. The more we do, the more we learn, especially about ourselves. The freedom from this static ideal of ourselves can do wonders. It can introduce us to our purpose, to things that make us feel alive, not in the momentary sense, but in a stable, gradual manner of growth. Because when we allow this to happen, we start respecting our journey, our mistakes and accept ourselves with our shortcomings. Nothing in the world can match this feeling of authenticity, integrity and individuality that we find to love ourselves.

This finding makes us believe in a magical aura, which strengthens our spirits on our journeys. When we forge our own path, we do not need anybody to fulfill our purpose, because neither do we get trapped into the opinions of others, nor do we please them, and we do not even compare their journeys to ours. We simply follow our intuition and let it guide us into the unknown. We learn to forgive ourselves. The best outcome of this focus is that we not only find our new versions, but we also get compassionate towards others for their mistakes.

That reminds me of a story from the Ancient ages. A little girl in her glory experienced disasters that made her weak. She did not recognize her own abilities. One day a stranger appeared and made her believe that she was the warrior born to conquer the world. She followed him and found that she was courageous, brilliant and compassionate. He made her discover a sword that she used to fight her battles. She won all the battles and believed that his presence made her do so. One day, she lost a battle which shattered her faith in herself. However, a day came when she also got to know that he was a spy from her enemies and intended to damage her using the same sword. She continued on her journey alone and did not reveal the secret to anyone. On her journey, she met people who told her stories that reminded her of her own valour. Gradually, she rose from her flickering ashes and entered the battle field, alone this time. It took time, but eventually she won over all her enemies.

When we read this story, we find a picture of ourselves, blending into our beliefs, our core values, our behaviours. And believe me, the way it works for me, I am sure it does for others too. Making mistakes is not at all wrong, not forgiving ourselves is. We could learn from the mistakes of others, but for the important ones, we need to make them ourselves and take our time to learn from them. How else could we ever plunge ourselves into the Dark Night and find our lights guiding us to who we are.

                             "If there are storms ahead, I will know how to sail through,
                               If there is darkness ahead, I will know how to burn and shine.
                               If there is dust ahead, I will know how to absorb and blow it,
                               For I will find my dimensions, Only when my soul wanders."

Oh by the way at the end of that story, the girl finds the man among her enemies. When asked what to do with him, she said, "I do not want revenge for his mistakes. He will find about it on his journey. For mine, I am thankful that I got lost and found myself on my own." Guess what, she kept the sword, because her mistakes could not deprive her of the strength she had found, of the breeze she had found when she blew away the dust from her soul.

                                                     

  

Thursday, 10 November 2016

श्री रामाधार मिश्र(नानाजी) कहते थे

आज मेरे नानाजी का देहान्त हो गया. उम्र तो इतनी अधिक ना थी पर शायद समय आ गया था. मैंने आज से पहले कभी अपने आपको इतना लाचार नहीं पाया कि चाहे कुछ भी कर लूँ पर अंतिम क्रिया के पहले नहीं पहुँच सकती. ऐसे समय में याद आता है कि घर से दूर और अकेले हैं, और कोई मदद भी नहीं कर सकते. एक इच्छा अंतिम दर्शन की. 

बस अब रह रहकर नानाजी के विचार मन में आ रहे हैं, और अपने होश संभालने से अब तक उनकी यादें सामने आ रही हैं. मेरे नानाजी पंडित श्री रामाधार मिश्र जी , बिजावर के एक विशिष्ट नागरिक थे, जिन्हें सिर्फ़ बिजावर में ही नहीं, छतरपुर जिले और बुंदेलखंड क्षेत्र में दूर दराज़ के हिस्सों में भी उनके नाम से पहचाना जाता था. और यह नाम उन्होंने अपनी कर्मठता, सेवा भाव, निष्ठा और ईमानदारी से कमाया था. लोग उन्हें सिर्फ़ एक विख्यात और ईमानदार वकील के रूप में नहीं जानते थे, बल्कि उनके सादा जीवन, दयाभाव और सही रास्ते पर चलने के साहस का आदर भी करते थे. उनके राजनैतिक या कार्यकाल संबंधी किस्से बताने के लिए मैं सही व्यक्ति नहीं हूँ. मैंने उन्हें सिर्फ़ उतना जाना है जितना देखा. अवश्य ही कई ऐसे ज्ञानी, सम्मानीय, और उनके करीबी लोग होंगे जो उनके सुनहरे कार्यकाल पर प्रकाश डालेंगे. मैं तो सिर्फ़ उनकी नातिन हूँ, और उन्हें नानाजी के रूप में ही जाना है. 

जब मैं छोटी थी, तब तो छुट्टियाँ सिर्फ़ नानाजी के घर पर बिताने के लिए होती थीं, माँ जाएँ या नहीं, मैं तो जाती थी. बिजावर का मतलब मेरे लिए बस मौसियों, मामा और भाई-बहनों से मिलना होता था. कभी कभी सुबह हम बच्चे नानाजी के बड़े से फ़ार्म हॉउस घूम आते थे. नानाजी और नानीजी ने वहाँ भी एक मंदिर बनवाया था, हनुमान जी का. मेरे बचपन की धुंधली यादों में उस मंदिर में बैठकर पूजा करना और वापस आते समय फूल लेकर आना अब भी है. नानाजी नियम और वचन के पक्के थे. कोई भी चीज़ उनके नियम नहीं बदल सकती थी. कितनी बार हम बच्चे उन नियमों को बदलने की कोशिश करते थे, पर नानाजी भी तो हमारे ही नानाजी थे. पूजा के बाद घर के सभी लोगों को चन्दन लगाना और आरती देना जब तक नहीं होता था, वे उठते नहीं थे. 

जब नानाजी कोर्ट जाते थे, तो हम बच्चे थोड़ी बहुत शैतानी भी करते थे और हमारी मौसियाँ भी खेलने के साथ हमें खाने के लिए कुछ न कुछ नया बनाकर देती रहती थीं. फ़िर शाम को नानाजी और नानीजी के साथ मंदिर जाना होता था. मंदिर जाने की याद मेरी सबसे सुखद याद है अब तक. हम नानाजी के कोर्ट के सामने से जाते थे. उतने लंबे रास्ते में हर २ कदम पर कोई न कोई उन्हें नमस्कार वकील साहब कहते हुए निकलता था. मेरे मानस पटल पर जानकी निवास मंदिर, मंशापूर्ण मंदिर , खेल का बड़ा मैदान, राम निवास मंदिर, और हनुमान जी की कुटी, और उसके पीछे का बरगद का पेड़ सब अभी तक अंकित हैं. मंदिर के पंडित भी नानाजी को जानते थे. रास्ते में नानाजी पाठ करते जाते थे और नानीजी हमारी धर्मग्रन्थों की जानकारी बढ़ाती जाती थीं, हमारे सवालों का जवाब देकर. नानाजी की बैठक में सैंकड़ों कानून की किताबें थीं. वे नए नियमों और पुराने केसेज़ को ध्यान से पढ़ते थे. बिजावर से जाने के बाद उन्होंने वे सभी किताबें एक लाईब्रेरी को निःशुल्क दान कर दी थीं. कहने लगे कि यहाँ रखने से अच्छा है कोई इनसे पढ़कर कुछ सीख ले. 

नानाजी घर आकर भी घर के हर सदस्य के बारे में पूछते थे, चाहे कोई भी हो. अपने व्यस्त दिन के बाद भी उन्हें अपने सभी बच्चों और उनके भी बच्चों का ध्यान रहता था. सबने भोजन किया या नहीं, किसी की तबियत ठीक नहीं हुई तो उसके पास बैठकर सहलाना नानाजी अक्सर किया करते थे. घर के छोटे बच्चों को तो वे अपने पास ही बैठाकर कहानियाँ सुनवाते थे या खुद सुनाया करते थे. एक धार्मिक पत्रिका है 'कल्याण', जिसका नाम शायद बुज़ुर्ग लोगों ने ही सुना होगा. नानाजी ने उसकी आजीवन सदस्यता लेकर रखी थी.  मेरा पढ़ने का शौक वहाँ  भी काम आया. और फ़िर नानीजी से उन बातों पर लंबे संवाद होते थे, लगता था कि नानाजी सुन नहीं रहे पर जैसे ही हम कुछ गलत बोलते थे वो तुरंत हमें सही करते थे. राजनैतिक मुद्दों पर नानाजी बहुत देर तक चिंतन किया करते थे. नानीजी से तो मैं अब भी बातें कर लेती हूँ, पर नानाजी से जब बातें करने लायक समझ आयी तब तक वे इन मुद्दों पर ज़्यादा नहीं बोलते थे. 

मुझे अच्छी तरह याद है कैसे नानाजी दिन में कोर्ट जाने से पहले भगवान् के पाठ और हवन पूरे करके जाते थे, चाहे भोजन करें या नहीं. उनके राम रक्षा स्तोत्र के श्लोक अब भी मेरे कानों में गूँजते हैं जो वे पूजा के कमरे में बैठकर बिना किसी रुकावट के करते थे. शायद नानाजी का धार्मिक होना घर के सभी लोगों में कुछ मूल्यों को पत्थर की तरह बिठा गया. मुझे याद है जब मैंने स्कूल जाना शुरू किया था. उन दिनों हम जबलपुर में नहीं रहते थे. मेरे पिताजी की पोस्टिंग सागर में थी. और वहाँ से बिजावर बस ६ घंटों की दूरी पर था. तब घर पर लैंडलाइन फ़ोन नहीं था. मैं हर हफ़्ते बिजावर चिट्ठी लिखा करती थी. और नानाजी उसे भोजन के समय ज़ोर से पढ़वाते थे. फ़िर किसी मौसी या नानीजी से जल्दी उसका उत्तर लिखवाते थे. एक हफ़्ते के अंदर मुझे जवाबी चिट्ठी मिल जाती थी. 

ये बात तब की है जब मैं चिट्ठियाँ लिखने के लिए बहुत छोटी थी, शायद ४ या ५ साल की. नानाजी को माँ ने बताया कि मेरा एडमिशन सागर के सबसे अच्छे स्कूल सेंट जोसफ'स कॉन्वेंट में हो गया है. जब अगली छुट्टियों में मैं बिजावर गयी तो नानाजी ने माँ से कहा कि अब ये हिंदी कैसे सीखेगी. मेरी माँ भी उन्हीं की बेटी हैं. उन छुट्टियों में नानीजी ने मुझे हिंदी की गिनती सिखानी शुरू की. जब मैं वापस आयी तो मेरी माँ ने उसे जारी रखा और साथ ही बहुत कुछ सिखाया. अगली छुट्टियों में जब मैं बिजावर गयी तो नानाजी ने सोचा कि पूछा जाए कितना भूल गयी. जब मैंने उन्हें पूरी हिंदी की गिनती सुनाई तो वे खुश हो गए पर उससे भी अधिक ख़ुशी उन्हें तब हुई जब मैंने नानीजी के साथ बैठकर सभी मौसियों के सामने राम रक्षा स्तोत्र संस्कृत में पढ़ा. उसके बाद स्कूल में हमेशा मैंने अपनी हिंदी और संस्कृत सभी से अच्छी पायी. ये हमारे घर के वातावरण का असर कहा जा सकता है कि आज इतने वर्षों बाद भी हिंदी और संस्कृत मुझे नानाजी और नानीजी की उस बात को याद दिलाते हैं और ख़ुशी महसूस करवाते हैं कि मैं कहीं भी पढ़ी, कहीं भी रही, अब भी बिलकुल वही हूँ. नानाजी को मेरे अंग्रेजी वाद-विवाद की रिकॉर्डिंग्स सुनना भी पसंद था. उस पर वे अपने विचार ज़रूर बताते थे. 

मैं जैसे बड़ी होती गयी, मैंने अपने परिवार को और करीब से देखा. मौसियों की शादियाँ, नानाजी और नानीजी का रहन - सहन मैंने बहुत गहराई से जाना. इसीलिए मैंने अपनी  मौसियों में सहेलियाँ पायीं. जब मैं अकेली थी, तब शायद इसीलिए मामा के साथ इतने साल बिताने का समय मिला कि आज भी  उनकी भांजी से ज़्यादा परिवार के बच्चों में उनकी सबसे अच्छी दोस्त हूँ.  कभी कभी मुझे गर्व होता है और ख़ुद को भाग्यशाली महसूस करती हूँ कि मैं और मेरे माता-पिता बिजावर में नानाजी, नानीजी, मौसियों, मामा और अपने भाई-बहनों से सबसे अधिक जुड़े रहे. आज भी लगता है कि वो अपनापन मुझे सबसे बांधे रखता है सुख-दुःख में चाहे हमें मिले हुए कितने भी दिन हो गए हों. 

मैंने नानाजी को बाहरी अनजान लोगों पर दया दिखाते हुए भी बहुत देखा. जब समझ आयी तो मैंने पाया कि हमारे घर में कई बार गरीब लोग दूर दूर से आते थे. दरवाज़ा खोलने पर एक ही रट , "मिश्राजी  वकील साहब से मिलना है."  इन में से कई ऐसे होते थे जिनके पास कोर्ट केस की फीस देने के  पैसे नहीं होते थे, या जो बिजावर के दूसरे लालची वकीलों द्वारा पीड़ित थे. वे नानाजी के पास आते थे. नानाजी  मुफ़्त  में उनकी मदद करते थे क़ाबिल तो वे थे ही(उनकी डिग्री और काम से). मेरी माँ ने वकालत करने से पहले कई बार नानाजी के कागज़ संभाले थे. वे बताती हैं कि नानाजी ने हमें कहकर रखा था कि ऐसे लोगों को भोजन-पानी देना और ज़रूरत के लिए पैसे देना. कई बार  बाहर से आये लोगों को रात का आश्रय भी मिलता था. भूखों के लिए भोजन और भंडारे भी नानाजी अखंड रामायण के साथ करवाते थे. नानाजी कहते थे जितना कर सकते हैं करना चाहिए. उनके  इस नियम का पालन घर में हमेशा किया गया. 

आज यूँ तो आँसू मैंने भी बहाये पर फ़िर सोचा कि एक अच्छे जीवन को जीने की सीख देने वाले ऐसे ज्ञानी और दानी व्यक्ति को उनके जीवन के लिए याद रखा जाना चाहिए, (और वह भी हिंदी में) जिससे हम भी उनके आदर्शों का पालन करें. तभी सोचती हूँ आज देवउठनी एकादशी का दिन ही चुना ईश्वर ने उन्हें अपने साथ मुक्तिधाम ले जाने के लिए. वैसे तो बिजावर मेरे लिए सागर और जबलपुर से भी ज़्यादा करीब है, नानाजी भले ही गुवाहाटी या वड़ोदरा में रहे हों,और लोग अब भी घर और हमें देखकर कहेंगे कि ये मिश्राजी वकील साहब के घर से हैं, और इस पहचान पर मुझे गर्व है, पर मेरे मानस पटल पर उनकी जो छवि सबसे पहले उभरती है, वह है पूजा के कमरे में या शाम को बैठक में राम रक्षा स्तोत्र के १०८ पाठ  करने की सीधी छवि  और उनकी गूँजती हुई आवाज़,

                                       "राम रामेति रामेति रमे रामे मनोरमे। 
                                        सहस्त्रनाम तत्तुल्यम रामनाम वरानने ॥ "