Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe and Relax

September 7, 2016
by DC
9 Comments

My Big Secret – Part 2

I think I left you hanging long enough. So here is my second big secret. If you have been following my blog for the past year, you know of my big move to India and all the trials and travails that followed. It wasn’t as easy move after spending 13 years of my married life in the U.S. And my husband being unemployed did not help matters either. Add to that the education system which came as a complete shock to my kids and me. The fact that I did not have my own space or freedom made matters worse. So after much deliberation (mostly on my part) we decided to move back to the U.S.

In a week I will be moving with my family. You could say I am escaping, running away because I am too weak to face the challenges life has thrown at me. But I am just returning. Returning to a familiar place that I have come to call home. Where I have the freedom to be the person I want to be and not feel guilty about it or be ostracized for it. For those who think I am weak, let me tell you that I faced these challenges for a year using all my strength, faith and all the support I could garner. But at some point I had to admit to myself that things are not working out as planned and that I would never be truly happy here. And that somewhere along the way I ceased to belong to this place. Since this is my big reveal, I won’t go into the challenges I faced in Chennai in detail. That is material for a whole new post.

We have been moving every year since 2014 and this time I intend to put down roots, put my foot down and cement myself in North Carolina. For the next several years my kids need the stability of attending one school and growing up with friends they care about. As for me, I am tired of packing and giving away stuff and moving like a freaking nomad.

For the record, I lived in the same city for 23 years of my life, attended the same school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I attended college and university in the same city and had friends I knew from the cradle! I think my kids deserve a little bit of that too.

If you are reading this, please know that it isn’t as easy as it looks – hauling your family half way across the globe and then back in a year. We don’t have jobs waiting for us. We have to buy everything from furniture to vehicles and insurance. It is scary, but less scary than having to live in Chennai for another year without jobs. America isn’t called the land of opportunity for nothing! So I beseech you to keep us in your prayers as we make this move and settle down. Thank you and wishing you a lot of success if you are making big changes in your life. I will leave you with this quote I saw on Facebook yesterday that really resonated with me – If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. (Jim Rohn)

August 17, 2016
by DC
2 Comments

End of the Tunnel

I am the light at the end of the tunnel. I am my own savior. My spirit ran ahead to beam the light of hope as my weary body and mind struggled to catch up. It was this light that kept me alive as the piercing darkness around me spilled into my soul. The tunnel was akin to a birth canal, squeezing every lie, facade and mask that I ever wore. Squeezing all my pompous notions of being above it all. Thinking I had reached the peak of spirituality, I refused to budge. But I slid quickly from the summit into a dark endless cavern where I stayed until I came to terms with my own foibles. There were no milestones and even if there were, I couldn’t see them. I wasn’t even sure if I was blind or it was too dark to perceive anything. I may have had my eyes closed, afraid of what I would encounter if I opened them. Somewhere along the way when it was too painful to grope in the dark I simply lay down in a heap and slept. The darkness of sleep more soothing than the one that I could not escape when I was awake.

Was I alone in the tunnel? I could not tell. But I could sense a presence. A warmth. A glimmer of hope from somewhere afar. It was towards this that I floundered like a thirsty animal in a desert. The squeezing and extraction of all extraneous baggage continued until I felt like I was stripped naked. But instead of feeling self-conscious and embarrassed I felt free. I was exposed and I no longer needed to play the games I played before to keep a bunch of lies alive or to please people. This is when my eyes that were accustomed to darkness spotted a faint flicker far far away. Now I knew I wasn’t imagining the warmth. It was coming from this source. As I edged closer it felt warmer, loving, compassionate and all -embracing. It was me I found at the end of the tunnel waiting and shining like a beacon. I had just birthed a swanky new version of myself. Pure, free and full of child-like hope.

When I stepped out, I saw more like me shining and waiting to receive themselves. But like the indistinguishable darkness, our light merged and blurred our individual bodies. You might think I’m out of my mind and in a way you are right. Thoughts travel faster than the speed of light. Our soul knows where we are going and even when our bodies falter, the soul charges ahead unafraid.

Maybe Sri Aurobindo’s words would make more sense to you than mine. So I leave you with this excerpt from the Savitri.

Even through the tangled anarchy called fate

And through the bitterness of death and fall

An outstretched hand is felt upon our lives

It is near us in unnumbered bodies and births;

In its unslackening grasp it keeps for us safe

The one inevitable supreme result

No will can take away and no Doom change.

 

August 2, 2016
by DC
18 Comments

My Big Secret – Part 1

This is big! Most of my feelings, thoughts and life experiences end up in my blog. However, this big secret I have kept from you for over a year now. It all started quite innocuously while I was still in Washington. I had landed this long-term subbing position at an elementary school while we were contemplating moving to India in the summer. One morning I walked into the classroom to find all the 4th graders (usually a groggy and unfocused lot) chatting excitedly and poring over some picture books. I turned to the teacher with a quizzical expression on my face and she smiled and said, ” It’s author day today. A local author will be coming in to talk to the children about what it is like to be a writer.”

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but was happy for the kids who were going to get a break from their regular school day routine. The whole school assembled in the cafeteria/auditorium and a man in his late thirties or early forties took the stage. His name was Paul Lewis and he wrote children’s books. Paul never thought he would be an author. He loved to draw and paint when he was in school but his career didn’t start out as an illustrator or writer. Paul used to be a substitute teacher in Washington and one day he went to a school and guess what? It was author day! By this time I was sitting up straight and really paying attention.

To cut a long story short, Paul connected with the author who encouraged him to use pictures to tell a story and then come up with the words. This was easy for Paul because pictures came easily to him. Pretty soon he had a picture book and published it.

We had to break for lunch and I stood around wondering if I should go talk to him. You see, I had been walking around with a book inside me for several years now. A book about Dadima and this was the ultimate wake up call. Big nudge from the universe. Call it what you want. But it couldn’t be a coincidence. It was as if Paul was talking to me. I was a substitute attending author day at a school, like he did several years ago. Talk to him, my inner voice was saying. But my nerves got the better of me and I quietly walked to the lunch room and proceeded to eat my lunch.

A few seconds later the door opened and Paul walked in. He pulled up a chair at the table where I was sitting. The universe was really shoving it in my face today! I started talking to him and told him about my book and he was quite chatty and helpful. I really don’t remember much of what he said but I do remember him saying not to become a writer just to get famous or rich and to just do it for the sake of the craft.

My subbing gig ended in a few weeks and I was busy posting stuff to sell on Craig’s List. I spent most of my time on the computer replying to e-mails from potential buyers. But I still had a lot of time on my hands. That was when I started writing my book (April 2015). I figured if I could write a chapter of 1000 words and wrote 10 chapters in all, I’d have a 10,000 word manuscript ready in say a year or so.

I started in earnest and finished nearly four chapters before we relocated to India. Another four chapters were done over the course of the year and early 2016. Then I got busy with my job and never really got around to finishing the last two chapters. My dear friend S kept egging me on to finish it and I typed up the last three chapters (I added another chapter) by the end of July.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the book now that it was written. Do I publish it? How do I go about it? No clue. Two days after I wrote the book a friend suddenly mentioned my grandma out of the blue and told me she loved reading stories about her. I told her she was in for a surprise as I had just finished writing a book on my grandma! She wanted to pre-order  the book. Another sign, this time telling me to get the book published.

Later that week I attended a book launch at the Odyssey book shop and then another the subsequent week. And then a contact on Facebook launched her book of short stories in Malayalam. Really got me thinking about publishing my book. So that’s my big secret – that I wrote a book and might publish it. I have no clue how I could have been tight-lipped about it for so long. Would you read it? Would you like an e-book or paperback? Do share your ideas. Without you and this blog I never would have in a thousand years attempted to write a book. So thank you dear readers and watch this space for more about my journey through the publishing world.

There is another big secret I have to reveal and it is totally unrelated to this one so I’ll save it for the next blog post – My Big Secret – Part 2.

July 17, 2016
by DC
2 Comments

Not Poetry, Not Prose…

 

It’s not about black lives,

It’s not about white lives,

It’s about justice and fairness.

 

It’s not about men,

It’s not about women,

It’s about equality for everyone under the sun.

 

It’s not about Islam,

It’s not about Christianity,

It’s about oneness and tolerance.

 

I don’t care if you are gay, transgender, Hispanic or Arab,

This earth with all its treasures are yours,

And so is peace, love, dignity,

And a safe place to call home,

A right to love and be loved,

To justice, fairness and liberty,

And all good things under the heavens.

 

Ignore the entitled few who love to judge,

And take sides in endless cyber wars,

The heartless ones who quietly fan the embers of dissent,

And watch the dancing flames from afar as they consume countless innocents,

The haters, manipulators, trolls, politicians and their sycophants.

 

Let’s disengage from the drama,

And speak out in one voice – Enough is enough!

Lift the downtrodden from the pits of despair,

And light hope in their hearts.

 

What many before us fought for,

And passed on as a treasured gift,

We will not allow to be shamelessly snatched from our hands.

 

 

July 6, 2016
by DC
0 comments

Walking into the Unknown

It’s a scary place to be. The vast openness in front of you. Myriad intertwining paths stretching across the horizon as far as the eye can see. Fear immobilizes you. One wrong step and you think all will be lost. How sad it is sweet child that you have forgotten where you have come from. Squeezed out of a dark and snug chamber through a narrow canal, forced to breathe that air which was alien to you a second ago. Deprived of your continuous supply of nourishment, you had to latch on and suckle to survive. From simply being you were pushed into doing. You had to learn the tricks of this brand new world. Cry to get attention so your needs could be met – needs that did not exist before your birth. And isn’t it a wonder that you did incredibly well, although you had no idea what to expect.

Yet you falter when faced with the unknown. When uncertainty looms large, you fret and fume, cemented to your narrow path, unable to make a choice. Until you are pushed own the rabbit hole, forced to take a plunge and fill your hearts with courage. Why must you be afraid? The same force that birthed you and made you take in that first breath of fresh air, will nudge you along the right direction. If only you are patient and quieten your mind to listen to its guidance. For it is always there. It is like the background noise of a dripping faucet that you learn to tune out. But if you tune out  everything else, the noise becomes ominously loud – too loud to ignore. Follow that guidance and it will never fail you. It will in time take you where you are meant to go.

When I made my appearance into this world, my hip was dislocated and I wasn’t breathing. I could have made an exit without my first breath of air, without ever being held in my mother’s arms, without ever crying. Miraculously I survived but I was not out of the doghouse yet. Was my brain damaged because I was deprived of oxygen? Would my hip fix itself and would I ever walk normally? These were not questions that ran through my head. I was too small to know or even remember any of this. My parents didn’t know either. But when I visited my pediatrician, she would give thanks for every milestone I crossed. For she was the one who saved me from the jaws of death as I lay lifeless in her arms. She was witness to the miraculous power that let me live and thrive.

I don’t doubt for a second that help is always available for those who ask. But we must have the courage to follow through even in the face of imminent disapproval. Only we can hear our inner voice. We cannot let the voices of others drown it. Nor can we allow the noise of the world obliterate it. We cannot let fear dictate our actions. We have to trudge forward in full faith that the force that birthed us will take us home.