The relative comfort

It has been a long time, a couple of years to be precise. The reminder on FB of a post from last year brought the memory back.

It was late in the evening and I was waiting at a bus stand. If my memory serves me right, It was raining as well. After a long wait, I decided to have a seat. The seating bench was a new one at the bus stand and after sitting for some time, I felt that the seat could be a couple of inches wider for me to sit comfortably. I am not one of the bigger guys around, so was pretty sure that a larger portion of the population would find it uncomfortable to sit on this new seating in the bus stand. The metal frame of the seat didn’t do any good to the seating comfort.

It was at that moment, that I see a person come towards the place I was seated. Seems to be homeless, the small package he carried and his overall condition indicated the same. He comes over, finds an empty space on the seat a bit away from me. He dusts off the space with a cloth he has, places the small package on the seat proceeds to lie down on the seating bench with the package doubling up as a pillow. Within no time, I could see that he fell into a deep sleep and here I am still struggling to seat myself comfortably.

The concept of relative comfort dawned upon me at that moment. Many a time, our comfort zones are what we defined them to be and there are many who find it a luxury about something that we struggle to come to terms with.

While I am not much of a taker for a life-changing single incident, such instances in life do offer some perspective. Over the past couple of years, I did go back to this incident in my life when faced with a situation of choice and was able to make a decision by coming out of self-defined comfort zones, because comfort is what one makes of it.


Every bud has to blossom

I see him nearly every day, at the tea stall collecting and cleaning all the used tea glasses, giggling with his acquaintances or going about calmly and seriously with his work. Appears to be all of 10 or 12 years, lean frame, not so maintained face and lost eyes. A sense of helpless feeling grips me whenever I see that kid. So does it happen whenever I see a child working, for I always believed it is not the right age for them to work irrespective of what the situation is, depriving them of basic education is something I always helplessly despised. 
But the other day something else pricked me. As usual, I was relaxing and having my tea and there were a couple of kids playing with a cricket ball. This Kid was going about his usual chores and suddenly signalled to the two kids to throw him the ball waited for a fraction of a second and then went back to his daily chores. The enthusiasm on his face when he asked for the ball and that expressionless face after a few moments pricked me deeply. I was looking at this kid and do not exactly know if those two kids denied or ignored his request or that he himself remembered his work and suppressed his little urge to catch the ball, but that moment etched in my memory and really makes me restless.
What really hurt me was that apart from the fact that this kid is already deprived of Eduction, he is being deprived of something more basic and more important, His Childhood. It is really not the age that you suppress your urge to play since you have the work on hand. I do not know whom to blame, the Tea stall owner, his parents, my helplessness or the system as a whole. But what I do know is it is not right. The fact that this kid is just a specimen representation of a much larger population makes me restless. ” Today’s Children are Tomorrow’s Citizens” was a maxim that I heard from my dad while growing up, if this is the case the future looks bleak.
Unfortunately, I really am unable to do anything except to vent my frustration so do I believe are many others who are moved by this but are caught in their own vicious Life cycle. The solution is a complex one, as there are many factors that contribute to such situations and each story is diverse.

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Stuck being a Draft

“You need to click on the send button. Unless you want it to remain as a draft, with the content known only to you.”

I in jest remarked at a colleague who was contemplating for quite a good time after drafting an email.

As I looked back at my screen, my eyes fell on the “drafts” folder in my mailbox and the number “29” indicating the number of drafts in the folder.

Out of curiosity, I thought of checking as to why there were so many drafts and why they remained so.

Few of the mails were blanks – with only the recipient’s id but no content. Wonder what I intended to communicate to that person and then did not go ahead with it.

Few other’s had the content but did not have any recipient id. I could not recollect whom I intended to send these mail to save a few of them. For those I could remember, the question did pop up, why I did not proceed to send them.

There were a few others, which did not require much thought as both the content as well as the recipients’ ids were clearly stated. As in the earlier case, the question was about ” why I did not send it”.

A bit of contemplation, and there were multiple reasons for those mails remaining as drafts.

Many of the emails with no content, were the ones where I had an idea whom to send but could not come up with the content to say. They seem to be a result of a momentary intent to respond to something, which on a later thought I decided not to pursue.

So seems to be the case with the mails which were drafted but at the last moment decided not to pursue or thought of postponing them to a later date. The sad part, many of such emails have no relevance now. In a few of the cases, holding back seemed the better option but most of the time, they did seem to be a lost opportunity.

The half drafted ones with no recipients are the ones that do cause more pain looking back. They were part of an idea intended to be said but never fully expressed.

I had a quick glance at my blog sites and there I find many drafts which did not manage to be completed or published.

The draft folder seems to have parlance with life. Thoughts, feelings and ideas – intended to be said but remaining as drafts without being given an opportunity to be expressed or acted upon. Fear, uncertainty, improbability, lack of will, sheer laziness or prudence – the reasons could be varied.

As I contemplate on the draft folder of my life, I realise that there were many which I should have acted upon and many others that proved to be good choices by being not actioned upon.

But it did give me a good opportunity to reflect upon and gain some insights which could help me in dealing with the present and future.

Might be it is a good idea, to time and again look into the draft folder of life and reflect upon those which were stuck as drafts. Few might still be worthy of being sent, even if not they still would offer some insights on life.

Heroes , and the narratives which define them

Browsing through YouTube, came across the video of Shashi Tharoor’s debate in regards to British Colonization. One of the many aspects he spoke about was the Bengal Famine during WW II and the response of Winston Churchill in respect to his officers in India asking for the supplies for the famine-hit region instead of stocking them up for the armed forces.

His response does come across as a vile one void of any apathy. His contempt for India and its leaders fighting for freedom was a known one, which I did learn about later as I grew up. This is quite in contrast to the picture I had growing up, wherein he was one of my favourite historical figures. The lessons we had in our English literature in school and college and the mention of him in our History classes esp. in regards to WW II, did picture him to be a great hero and a man of great words and deeds.

It was quite shocking for me as I learnt more about his treatment of India and his despicable attitude towards it. On contrary. for most Britishers he was indeed a hero figure. I believe even his standpoint in regards to India was in the better interests of the nations. Although, I would have hoped him to be a bit less uncouth about it, especially for a man of his stature.

This reminds me of a student I had, for whom I used to take tuition classes. She had her upbringing in Saudi Arabia, and apart from her parents being from India also had close kin in Pakistan. She did have multiple arguments with me, especially in regards to Jinnah whom she refers to as Quad-e-Azam and whom I had the lowest of respects for. I knew he is a hero in Pakistan, but for me, he remains to be someone with a divisive mindset.

I think the same could be said about Mao. The initial opposition to Mahatma Gandhi, that I came across was from uninformed quarters whom I rarely grave credence to. But, in my due exploration, I did come across people whose grouse against Mahatma Gandhi seems to be legit.

This brings me to ponder , can there be a hero sans a single sided narrative. I think it is the conflict of different narratives which gives rise to a hero. Without a narrative , a Hero might not arise or there might not be a need for one. At best, a Hero can have a larger support and few opposition but the dissent from someone who is not part of the narrative would always remain.

It would boil down to the narrative that we beleive in to define a Hero, if at all we need one.

Life beyond faith in God.

The concept of God has been an experiment since childhood for me. Thanks to the ever-changing beliefs of my father in pursuit of exploring the idea of God and faith, I have been exposed to various belief systems including Hinduism, Christianity, non-religion etc. The good part of all this has been that my dad was not inclined to be absorbed into any particular ritual or dogma and sort of in a continuous state of exploration. This unique dichotomy of believing in something and yet questioning it had a profound impact on the way I started looking at things. All through these experiences, the constant has been the belief that there does exist a supreme being, who is the source and the very reason for the existence. The name of the God in question changed, but the belief in the existence of a supreme being continued.

The purpose of existence and the thought about the very origin of the whole universe has been a reason for continuous thought and exploration for me. While these bigger questions linger, there was something else that continued my association with the belief of the existence of a supreme being, “Faith”. This faith did not require a specific deity or a form of worship but a faith that there exists someone who is watching over and guiding me towards the path that I need to journey. This has been a crucial aspect for me especially during some critical phases of my life, where I had to deal with the unexpected loss of parents one after the other. All through these travails, there was this belief that someone is watching over and I would at some point be able to overcome the travails thanks to the justice to be provided by God. There have been continuous setbacks despite my best efforts ( or might be I could have tried better), and all through this, it was the faith that someone is watching and I would have my reward. which made me survive and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, my exploration and experimenting on different ideas about God, Humanism and others continued. There isn’t any particular incident or a reading which made me to question the concept of God, but it was summation of all the experiences that I started to question this concept and in turn my faith. Belief in any religion or practice was something I long overcame in my younger days, but questioning the existence of God and my faith in that aspect was a new experience that i started having. It was particularly tough to not believe in the existence of God, especially with concept of faith which happens to be the bedrock of what I believed in. The thought that there might not be anyone who is actually watching me over and it has been me all alone who have been fighting all-through and would need to continue fighting all alone, was sort of unsettling. It was as if something is snatched away from me, and I am suddenly left without having anything to continue with my life. Honestly, I might not be still open to the absolute fact that God does not exist, but I have started coming terms to the aspect that it does not matter if God exists or not and my survival is very much up to me. This thought, as I said is quite an unsettling one.

It was out of this unsettling feeling that I happen to find faith in something new, myself. Removing away the faith in someone actually helped me to start having faith in myself. Now there is no one else, that I could throw the responsibility on or wait for deliverance. If I am expecting a solution, I better start working on it. This sort of enabled me to start having more focus on myself, of identifying where I am doing wrong or where I am actually being good. Diverting the faith from God, and building upon the concept of faith on self has been an enriching one for me so far. The possibilities that me , as a human can achieve does seem to be more feasible especially with the realization that there are no unknown factors that influence. each and every occurrence now can properly be analyzed, understood and corrected upon to try and  improve on it. This possibility make me more optimistic and I do feel empowered that it is me who can make things happen.

Yes, life does exist beyond the faith in God.