Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe and Relax

August 2, 2016
by DC
16 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.

cropped-Pic03.jpg

June 23, 2016
by DC
0 comments

Womanly Woes

I caught a glimpse of a serial on television the other day. This was the scene – a blind wife throws herself at the husband’s feet begging to be allowed to stay with him. Her disability is seen as a major hindrance that prevents her from doing her wifely duties and chores. Well-wishers urge the husband to dump her at an ashram and find a new wife to take care of the house and his child. With tears streaming down her face she begs this stone-faced man who scolds her and tells her to make her way to the ashram.

She painted such a pathetic picture of herself, wailing uncontrollably, helpless and totally at the mercy of her husband that it stirred something in me. This was no modern day soap but inklings of such desperate behavior do show up in pretty much every television offering. Forget television, in the back drop called real life a lot was going on. The triple talaq debate for one. Raping an unconscious woman gets a Stanford student a light sentence to protect his future. And in another part of the world a woman gets on the wrong side of law for reporting sexual assault. A Bollywood star (I’d rather call him scum) compares the rigors of shooting his film to being raped and if history is to be believed he will get away with it thanks to his celebrity status and blind fans who will back him up unashamedly.

Where is the justice? I wanted to reach into the screen and shake up that waling woman and tell her she was better off without that jerk of a husband and to stop treating him like some Greek God that needed to be appeased. Known for people pleasing, we women take it to another level when it comes to men. We deny ourselves in order to please our men. Oh he doesn’t like me wearing make-up. Oh he likes my hair short. Oh he doesn’t want me to work. What the hell do you like woman? Does he honor that as well? I hope so or he is so not worth it. Some women deny their own needs to the extent of living in loveless or abusive relationships. You deserve to be loved and honored for what you are. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. It is sad that so many economically impoverished and uneducated women are left high and dry by men who use and abuse them. It is sadder that many educated, highly capable women suffer in silence instead of walking away from abusive or adulterous husbands.

The excuses are many. Kids. Society. Financial dependence. But when a man does the same thing no one questions him. He can wash his hands off his kids and get away without paying child support or alimony. But women? Oh no! Walk away from an abusive relationship and you have ruined your child’s future, marital prospects, psychologically damaged them and what not. And guess what? It’s always the woman’s fault!

If educated women can’t stand up against these atrocities then what hope does a poor housewife who can’t read or write have? Her fate is sealed and she can be cast out on a whim or just by uttering a word three times. Or worse held hostage and made to do the housework while the husband carries on with other women. Victims of aggression and insatiable lust, these women suffer unspeakable horrors. Some pay the price for standing up. They are burnt alive or marred for life by acid attacks. When will this end I keep asking myself. Sometime soon I really hope and then even the media will reflect that change with empowered women who hold their own without a man hovering in the background.

cropped-fireworks-5Apr2013.png

June 15, 2016
by DC
0 comments

Oh Orlando!

Orlando. I remember you. Sitting right in the heart of Florida, you are a place where dreams come true. Where magic unfolds. Where a confluence of people from around the world come to enjoy dream vacations. Sunshine, sweet oranges, laughter, fun and good times – that’s what you are all about. I remember spending some quality time with you. Basketball games at Amway Center, birthdays at Disney, dining out with old friends.

Today, as the horror of what happened over the weekend sinks in, many who know me ask about Orlando and I am flooded with memories of magical weekends spent with you. Rainbows, long drives, writing in the sky, beautiful people living harmoniously under the same sun – that is how I remember you. You mean a lot to people the world over – some spend their lifetime earnings to make a dream trip with their family. You gave them a memory of a lifetime, sweet moments that stay with them long after the kids have moved out of the nest.

Somebody injected a drop of poison into your celebration of life and love. That drop may have consumed the lives of many but it has brought together droves of people. People who stand for everything that you are – love, oneness, unity, brotherhood and peace. And above all family – we are all one big family and it’s time we acknowledge that. We do in fleeting moments when we come together with a common goal in mind – to celebrate with our families or support a worthy cause.

Oh Orlando! The shadow cast over you will soon pass. For a hundred thousand hearts are beaming their light to you. And the light will triumph and peace will prevail. I don’t know if you remember me but I remember you and always will. You are my happy place and always will be.