All this time and nowhere to go gave me the opportunity to relive some old school memories. I was going through my treasured stuff from school when I saw the slam books from then. Along with all the nostalgia came a lot of surprise, embarrassment and self realization. You see, the first page of every slam book was filled by me and my own answers made me cringe. Boy, was I a silly girl back then? You betcha!
Throughout my school-life I had wanted to be extraordinary. Who doesn’t? Wouldn’t we be all lying if we said that we didn’t desire to have that glory?
The road to nostalgia was filled with chagrin at every turn and it reminded me of all the things I had wanted to change about myself back then, beginning with my name. Yes, that bad.
I mean, what kind of a name is Irfana (it means wisdom, meh!) anyway? The fact that Irfan Pathan gained fame during my adolescent years wasn’t helpful either. People who mispronounced my name went as far as calling me Irfan Pathan.
I wasn’t happy with my nose either. It felt too big for my face. Could I be anymore Asian? The two slightly crooked teeth in my mouth bothered me too and how nice would it be if I could get rid of all that baby fat? My feet seemed too big to me and I was invariably desperately in need of a wardrobe makeover.
And then there was all that stupid acne! Young chocolate lovers would know what I mean.
Besides these physical changes, I wanted the freedom an Indian teenager never gets- to see the world and rule it. I wanted answers for my philosophical self. I lacked confidence and knowledge but there was no worrying about it because I lived in my own bubble of ignorance.
I had dreams but no plans. And to top it all, I was hopeless romantic !
Years passed, ups and downs and bumps later, I made mistakes and gained experiences. A lot in me changed. Not at once of course, but I know I’m not the same girl I was in school.
With time, confidence filled my mind and optimism filled my heart. I learnt to be content with things I have while striving towards the things I want.
While I pursued my passion, I found my calling in teaching. When I started working as a teacher, I became a student of life. I fell in and out of love and realised that it’s fine. I learnt how to nurse a broken heart. I hated the world and fell in love with it all over again. I found peace at libraries and orphanages. I found solace in poetry, stories, prayer and friends. Different things worked for me at different times.
And one day, I just woke up with the wisdom that happiness resides in the little things in life.
I love people who just don’t talk about their big achievements but more about how much they love life, how they see beauty in others, how they appreciate every little thing and how they have the hunger and enthusiasm to serve this world.
Striving for an extraordinary life is foolishness. Putting all your efforts for that one entitlement is foolishness because it makes your happiness conditional. Don’t you wonder if you are anything more than mere titles?
Rather what’s extraordinary is to discover the joy and marvel of an ordinary life.
Waking up to the sun bursting through the clouds, seeing an old friend after a long time, a child’s innocent laugh, a blooming flower, biting into freshly plucked fruits, an old tattered book, a text from someone you love, a cup of coffee on a rainy day, random gifts, finding money in your old jacket, the glint in the eyes of your lover when they look at you, a kiss on the forehead, smell of freshly baked bread, being barefoot on grass or beach sand between your toes, the first hug from your child(well, that’s huge!), stories told by grandparents, silence… All these and much more!
Little things are far truer, far more genuine and difficult to falsify.
I’m not condoning a lack of ambition here. A life without goals becomes boring but try focusing on the ordinary things that feel special too. My pursuit of happiness has lead me to become a teacher, a designer, a wife and a mother. It made me read, write, teach, paint, love and nurture.
Not everything has changed though. I still laugh out loud like an idiot without a hint of feminity, I refuse to diet, I still experiment with my hair, I still do wear my heart on my sleeve and embarrass myself quite often.
I was a git, I still am a git. But a better one now.
So from wanting to change my name, my nose and my family, the only thing I changed was my attitude and it has been one of my finest decisions in life.
God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?
Identity loss is something almost every first-time mom goes through. Some have it easy, some have it worse.
Sleep deprivation, feelings of ineptitude, guilt trapping yourself, mood swings, leaky boobs- all of these seem to have a limited shelf life.But Identity crisis has a lifespan of its own.
For me, it lasted 1.5 years into motherhood. When I was pregnant, my mom continuously told me to be prepared – that life wouldn’t be the same. I nodded dismissively, reminding myself that she was from an older generation and that nothing would be lost and the only change would be that I would have a tiny, beautiful baby soon. Well, never doubt the wisdom of a mother!
With my son’s grand entrance (How? That’s another story) my world flipped overnight. I did a lot of preparation-mental and otherwise – but everything seemed so less. To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. To say that I still continue to be overwhelmed on a daily basis would be truer than truth.
For some women- loneliness, exhaustion, raging hormones, self doubt, being self critical, sleep deprivation, cluster feeding, mood swings, body aches, hair loss, weight gain, loss of sexual drive, uncontrollable food cravings- are all small inconveniences that they won’t notice with a tiny baby in hand. For others, these are insurmountable challenges that need to be battled daily.
I missed my friends. I missed exercise. I missed eating on time. I missed being presentable all the time. I missed looking beautiful. I missed sleep. I missed going out. I missed my hobbies. I missed writing. I missed reading poems. I missed the sunrise. I missed being free. I missed everything a lot.
I forgot what it felt to be alone with your own thoughts because even when my husband took care of the baby to give me my own time, all I could think of was how to make things better for my son.
The first few months of me being a mom passed in a blur. Yet every minute seemed so long. The days are long but the years are short.
But soon as I got accustomed to being a mom and fell into a routine with a lot of love and support from my spouse, I began searching for my former self. I began with my hobbies- I read, I painted. I lost weight. I ate healthy, (well, healthier than before) I changed my entire wardrobe. I was still sleep deprived but now I was happier.
One midnight, as I pondered and rated myself as a mother, I realised I haven’t lost my identity. Instead, I had gained a new one. One where I am more patient and generous,with a new perspective and understanding of life. I see the big picture. I forgive people easily now. I began to appreciate the littlest of the little things even more- a quiet cup of tea, an uninterrupted chat with a friend, a slow meal and a full shower are all simple pleasures.
I realised that while I may be many things other than a mom, my son is, as of now, just my son-he has no other identity. He needs me and my undivided attention. Now I knew firsthand the intricate pain of parenthood, the beauty of loving a completely dependent being with all one’s strength. He’s my responsibility and it’s gonna remain that way for a long time now.
I have made new mommy friends,learnt three new skills, started reading motivational books. I now have an idea for a novel and a business. And all this is baby inclusive.
Motherhood is beautiful. It isn’t easy though. A new role. A new challenge. A new identity. And no matter what people say, it takes time. It took one and a half years for me. Could be more for you, could be less too.
Being a mother has changed me greatly. I have made choices for my future solely because I am a mother now.
And then, as I lay there, realisation hit me like a bolt of lightning. My mom had gone through all these “challenges” and much, much more for me and my four siblings as well. When she asked me to be prepared she wasn’t being someone from an older generation, she was just being an experienced, successful mom. I realised how much my mom poured herself out for us. As mothers, women become extremely selfless.
The tears, pain, sacrifices, heartache and work parents go through all their lives is unbelievable. The fact that I had only seen the infant and the toddler phase hit me hard. I still had to nurture a toddler, a preschooler, an adolescent, a young teen and a teenager. So then, I stopped rating myself (because it was too early) and instead gave a full 10 on 10 and more, to my parents and made a mental note to tell my mom I love her even more than ever.
To all the mommies out there- thank you! May we honour your sacrifices in all the ways we grow and may we always become your reason to smile!
Calvin and Hobbes is the only comic strip I have read that discussed philosophical topics in a humorous and relatable manner.
I love the story telling, the art, the wit, the subtle and sophisticated humour, the wisdom but most of all I love the characters – Calvin, the parents, Susie, Moe, Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, the teacher, the Babysitter and of course my favourite, Hobbes!
Every time I read it, I am reminded that we all have a Calvin within and we all need to let our imagination run free once every while.
I get off on ’57 Chevy’s
I get off on screaming guitar.
Like the way it gets me every time it hits me.
I’ve got a rock and roll, I’ve got a rock and roll heart.
A book and a cup of tea. Isn’t that a delectable combination? A book and a cup of tea, or coffee, or hot chocolate …On a sunny day or a sulky one, a windy day or a wintry one, a book never says goodbye.
It’s raining today and I am ensconced in that warm chair-swing in the balcony. I watch the sky celebrate, extend my hand and feel it on my palm and smile as a few raindrops caress my face.Opening my eyes, I watch the steam from the cup of tea, rising with eagerness, forming shapes, trying to reach for the sky but then slowly it gives up and accepts its fate.
Finally, as if following a sacred ritual, I turn my attention towards the book in my lap and run a hand over the cover. It wasn’t a new book. Rather, a very old one. Borrowed from the British Library.
Turning the book over in my hands I wondered how many people must have handled it. To the unseeing eye, it was only an old, tattered book, unworthy of any praise. But a lover would know its worth. I wondered how many stories it held, apart from the printed one.
How many moments it treasured?
I loved reading for all those well known reasons- for visiting unknown places, for the new eyes, new adventures, new friends, the knowledge, the wisdom. I loved the musty smell, the sound of a flipping a page, the feel of a book in your hands. I love it all!
But I love reading a borrowed book most. I love reading the tales hidden in them. Faded covers curling at the edges, browned papers. Finding a dried petal or flower in between the page reminds you of some stranger-friend. Words scribbled on the edges and careless doodling. Favorite passages marked and dog eared pages!
A stain here and a stain there, telling stories within a story. Chocolate marks, candy wrappers, names of lovers scribbled in tiny hearts drawn at the corner of a page. How many stories could a book tell? And how many could you read?
And then as my gaze wander, so do my thoughts. I look up at the clouds and start giving wings to their shapes. Then, I wonder about you.
Do you love the rain as much as I do? Do you too like saunte
ring empty roads? Does the sunset leaves you awed too, every single time? Do you love making castles in the sand? Do you enjoy talking to the birds? Do you find humor where most people don’t? Are you as crazy as I am? Do you too hate the world at times? And then learn to love it again? Do you like to eavesdrop on the wind whispering to the trees or pen speaking to the paper? Do you sit alone and relive memories? Do you get goose-flesh when you see the rainbow? Do you ever feel lonely in the crowd? Can you too sea the fire in the sea? Do you feel the evening breeze caress your hand? Does spending time with people below seven and above seventy mean anything to you? Do you look at the stars and wonder…?
Poetry? Long walks in the rain? Dancing? Calvin and Hobbes? Kishore Kumar? Clapton? Dcfc? Star wars? Beaches? F.R.I.E.N.D.S.? Duck tales? Fox’s wedding?
The rain has stopped and the scent of earth pulls me out of my thoughts. Petrichor! Sighing deeply, I look at my book and smile. It had waited patiently for my return. My companion amidst lonely crowd.
So would you still ask me why I find in it my solace?
I guess it’s about time to change my age in the About section. 😛
28 things learnt by 28 :
Learn to love your life and yourself.
No matter how messed up you or your life may seem (or people say) there’s always something unique about you. Be grateful.
Chocolates, books and music can lift your mood.
In that order.
The sunrise, the sunset and the moon are three beauties that come to you everyday.
Learn to appreciate it.
Never stop learning.
One who stops learning becomes old. One who keeps learning stays young.
Improve. Mature. But never “grow up”
Make sure you never lose the inner child in you.
Smile when you wake up and forgive people before you sleep.
For your own peace of mind.
Eat, sleep, laugh and talk moderately.
But smile a lot! Smile and shine!
Give charity and gifts regularly.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s small or big.
Make time for your family. Family is very important.
Love them. Serve them. Be with them.
Make sure you spend some time with people below 7 and above 70 regularly.
They know the magic to make you feel better.
Tell your parents you love them. You may not have the chance later.
And I mean, tell them! Like, tell them on their face, “I love you pappa” or “I love you mummy” You have no idea about the regret of letting them go without letting them know.
Spend a day without your phone. Spend another without looking at the clock.
Experience the slow-mo life!
Selfishness is a virtue.
Stop crying about how bad your life is.
It isn’t. Even if it is, get up and make it better.
Spend time with people who support and believe in you.
And be that person for others.
It’s the only thing that money can buy that makes you richer.
Do yourself a favour and follow your passion.
Figure out what lights your fire and then chase the match.
When in doubt, always ask mom.
She carried you safely for nine months. Trust her.
Not everybody will like you. So stop trying to please everyone and get with it.
After all you are not the centre of the world.
Chivalry is not just for men.
Courtesy before chivalry.
Listen to your body.
It talks to you. It really does!
Think before you speak and read before you think.
So basically, read more, speak less.
Let makeup empower you.
But never be ashamed of your natural self. Believe in your beauty.
Drink more water.
Then your skin, hair, mind, body will thank you.
First impressions are worthless 50% of the time.
So try not to judge people over that.
Never cease dating your spouse.
That’s a fine way to keep the spark alive!
Dream, dare and droll.
Get a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.
Beauty lies in the green of trees.
This is the magic they call technology that sitting here in a bus while reminiscing about my very first train journey, I am writing this post. I had travelled by train for the first time almost a decade ago. Well not really, because I have been on a train even before that but I was so young that those memories are fuzzy.
But I remembered a few moments ago that I had written something about that decade ago journey and now I have successfully retrieved that file. So here goes…
“Train travels are fun, fun, fun; when made under the sun. If that not be the case and one has to travel thirteen hours, majority of which are hours of darkness, then it is an absolutely different experience .
Pity I never knew this before the train started moving. When I say it is a different experience, I do not mean that it’s a bad one. Let’s just say a writer would enjoy the day journey and a poet would love the night.
Since this was the first time I was inside a train, I was too excited to retch over the malodour from the ‘latrine’ or the dirty curtains or the paan stains in the corners. My lips were zipped and my head would have done a 360 if it was possible. Thrilled to the core, I looked around at everyone, making mental notes of their actions, looks and strange (in some cases disgusting) behaviours. Some of these people smiled back at me while others glared, muttered something and looked away. Half an hour later the excitement started waning and it was completely smothered when a child in the neighbouring berth started crying so shrilly it hurt my ears. I would have understood if he would have been anywhere up to five years old but he must have been around twelve and I had to stifle the urge to ask him to shut up.
All this reminded me of a friend who would never endure such things and the thought of her face in the exact situation made me smile. Power of friendship!
At about 10.30 p.m. people began climbing their berths and started switching off the lights. I have never been able to sleep before one a.m. so I took aid of a dim light to read the book I had brought along. Around midnight, I turned for a ‘good-night’s-sleep’. But, alas!
I have no problem climbing up to my berth but then I notice the six feet difference between me and the floor. Already resentful at having to give up the window, I look down and my stomach starts rumbling as the phobia creeps in.
Somehow I lie down, shut my eyes and try sleeping. But the constant joggling hampers any kind of sleep. So with some hope and much understanding of the fact that I still have ten good dead hours of the night to pass, I stuff the earplugs into my ears. After what seemed like eternity I checked my watch just to be shocked that only an hour and a little more had passed.
Cussing under my breath, I blame my frigging self for insisting on this many wheeled transport. In my defence, train travels had always been described so amazingly in books! Finding no respite, I leapt down and sat by my slumbering mumma’s head and watched out of the window. The view was superb.
Nope…actually there wasn’t much of a ‘view’. 😦 Just darkness and what I thought were trees. I move and with me moves everything.
For no particular reason I peep at the sky and hold my breath at the beauty of it. Has it always been like this?
The moon was its yellowish colour (which I prefer to its usual white shade). The stars twinkled as if smiling and the clouds all had a mystical touch to them. For some reason, I was comforted by this sight and felt immensely peaceful.
Astra Castra, Numen Lumen.
I spent a long time watching the sky and thinking of nothing in particular.
Then the train started to slow down at Guntakal station. Brightness filled the train.
Here I was in for a shock. It was four a.m. and people were sprawled asleep on the floor. Some of these were in rags, obviously beggars but some of them were passengers.
When the train started moving again I rested my head on the window sill and let the wind slap my face.
I changed my position when I could no longer feel the right side of my face. As I did, I noticed my neighbour who was a young woman who had been incessantly fidgeting. She sat up, jumped down and shook awake her companion who was a young man. The husband/boyfriend woke up, befuddled. When he was fully awake, she made him sit up, sat herself beside and snuggled up to him, closed her eyes and fell asleep. A faint smile played around her lips that said ‘I am comfortable now!’
I thought of a thousand things then. Being able to hold your loved ones whenever you want, is a lucky luxury.
Tired, I then flaked out. I remember waking up with a crick at seven thirty. ‘Damn! I missed the sunrise!’
My head was soon filled with croaky shouts of ‘idly-wada’ and ‘chai garam’ and a lot of common buzzing.
Chai garam was nothing like chai. I missed my green tea.
But the morning sun and the green fields that met my eyes made up for everything. The kid who was crying the previous night seemed very happy stuffing idly into his mouth. The couple was gone and in their place were a group of young men who I guessed by the uniform were students.
Fresh air, a few songs and many photos later we reached Bangalore. Not exactly a dream journey but at least a memorable one. I am not sure if I would consider travelling by train again. The one-hour plane back home was pretty comfortable.”
P.S I have travelled by many trains many times after that but that journey and that couple will always have a special place in my heart.
“Beti” means daughter in Hindi. My uncle and aunt got this beautiful cake for us a few weeks ago.
Letting the daughters of the family feel special and loved without any occasion is such a beautiful idea.
I believe we do not need a particular day to make our loved ones feel special… but still, a very happy women’s day to all the women out there!
Sometimes, all I want is someone to hug me and say,
“I know it’s hard. But it’s all going to be okay. Here is chocolate and six millions dollars”
Let your feelings show,
Love to your heart’s content,
Before you finally Let Go…
Loving yourself is about enjoying your life, trusting your own feelings, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning from the past.
Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting. Have faith that things will work out, maybe not exactly how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.
You are the books you read,
The people you meet.
The dreams you make,
The words you speak.
And you are, what you take from these.
Let the colors fill your mind
Carry your own sunshine
Live the truth,
Express your love,
Do more, need less,
Laugh a lot and be blessed.
See the wonder of it all,
Marvel at the sight,
Share the happiness,
Celebrate the life.
Dream big, but never be,
In too much hurry,
To stop and smell… to feel… to touch or to see.
So celebrate what has been given,
The tiny bit of heaven!
In the caverns of each soul,
Different talents wait to grow.
Each one has been given to lift,
One of the special gifts.
Some have the gift of verse,
Some are blessed with brevity,
Music, beauty, athletics and dance,
Innovation, imagination, luck and chance.
Some get the gift of strength ,
Some get the power of healing.
Some with the power of endurance,
And some have the gift of intelligence.
But there’s one that’s very rare,
And needs to be shared,
Of all the gifts, it stays above
And that, my friend
Is the Gift of Love.
***The drivel that follows was born when I was on the brink of slumber (Hypnagogia? :P) last night. I have debated much with myself whether to post this stuff because it’s against my blogging rules but then a friend always keeps saying, “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules!“***
The doorbell rang. Jasmine looked at the door with a frown. She wasn’t expecting anyone. Pausing the movie where Woody and Buzz tried to escape, she walked to the door. Just as she unlocked the door, somebody pushed it open and she was thrown inside her own house.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight’s entertainment!”
The man who walked in had a pale skin, ruby red lips and … a red sponge for a nose. Clown’s makeup. And a Glasgow smile.
“Oh. Hi.” he said.
“What do you want?” Jasmine asked recognizing the man.
His Glasgow smile faded, somewhat.
“Why… so… serious?”
The Joker walked into the living room and turned off the television. Jasmine reached for her phone but he was quicker.
“How about a magic trick? I’m gonna make this phone disappear.”
He dropped the phone to the floor and kicked it with his leg so that it slid under the sofa. “Ta-daa! It’s… it’s gone!”
Jasmine rolled her eyes. She sat on the sofa and looked at him with a smile.
“I know who you are. But you, you do not know who I am, do you? If my Batman finds out that you were here… and you harm me even a bit, oh boy, you’re dead!”
The Joker seemed amused.
“I don’t want to harm you! What would I do without you? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me.”
“Then what’s your plan?” Jasmine asked.
“Do I look like a guy with a plan?” he said.
He giggled. “You know, I may look like a monster, but I’m not. I’m just… you know… ahead of the curve.”
Jasmine stood up, agitated. She walked up to him and picked up the knife from the fruit bowl and pointed it at him.
“Then what is it that you want?” she asked.
“Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You want to know how I got ‘em? Come here.”
He grabbed her wrist which made her drop the knife and twisted her hand behind her back.
“You see, I had a wife. Beautiful, like you. Full of life. Always smiling. Speaking of whom… I think you and me, you know, we are meant to be!”
Jasmine tried to push him away.
“Hmm… a little fight in you. I like that!” he said and laughed.
Jasmine smiled wryly, relaxed her body and said, “Well then you are gonna like me even more!”
She kicked his shins and tangled her leg with his and performed a sweep that tripped him onto the sofa. Laughing, she sat on his legs disallowing him from moving.
The Joker chuckled too. “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh?”
“Well, I like you, but I will also have to kill you.” said Jasmine.
The Joker sighed.
“But you won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” he said.
Jasmine laughed and said, “Haha. You know, I think you are right. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a girl who is a hopeless romantic with a dirty mind, you should hold onto that. Because she’ll be yours at two in the morning and at two in the afternoon the following day. She’ll kiss you where it hurts and until it hurts. And that’s important. She will love you even when you are Batman and even when you are the Scarecrow. She is worth a little something…and a little more than usual.”
With that Jasmine leaned in to kiss the Joker and reveal her husband -her Batman- behind all that make up.
Taylor Mali is perhaps best known for his poem “What Teachers Make“. The following poem is perhaps one of the best poems in praise and respect of teachers – the unsung heroes of the education system. It has successfully motivated many teachers, including me, to love what we do, and to do it better, everyday. It is said that the poem was born out of an actual dinner conversation Mali had.
The following illustration by Zen Pencils is my personal favourite as it combines my love for comics and poetry.
There are many reasons why I love teaching – Because :
1) I get to share my passion for reading, writing and learning.
2) My students constantly surprise me.
3) I get to see the world from so many different perspectives.
4) I get to learn new things.
5) I touch lives.
And even though I have a big problem with the current education system, I enjoy being a teacher for the love it brings me everyday.
A week ago, a group of students whom I had taught around two years ago called me up and invited me to their farewell party. I had already made some other plans for the day so I politely declined. My phone had no rest that day as there was an influx of calls. I eventually cancelled my other plans and decided to go to the party. And that was a wise decision.
The girls looked oh-so-pretty and the boys, suave. And I felt old. And blessed. And like a celebrity – because they all wanted to click a pic (mostly selfies) with me! 😀
And even though it was not a farewell for me, I was given presents. This brought tears to my eyes.
So yeah, I love teaching because it is indeed the most satisfying job in the world. 🙂
Original – Main Tenu Samjhawan Ki – [Rahat Fathe Ali Khan]: