Failure, struggle and a tiny thought!

  [Dear Ma’m,

Thank you for your participation in our Writing Competition.

The overwhelming response to our contest resulted in thousands of entries from amateur and professional authors alike. We’ve spent an enormous number of hours reviewing all the entries, and narrowing those thousands to double digits has been no easy task. 

Unfortunately, we’re sorry to inform you that your entry is no longer being considered for a prize.

We sincerely hope you will ‘try again’!]

When you receive a letter like the above, you are gripped with an enormous sense of failure. All that months of brainstorming, effort, struggle and persistence ends up in a huge cipher. And then tormenting questions start spinning your head – Am I not good enough? Where do I lack? Perhaps, my works should be thrown in a garbage can? Should I quit writing? They no longer appreciate works like mine… Thoughts like these go on and on as you go about your daily chores. The letter crashes your expectation and self worth in a moment!

At first, the words ‘try again’ in the rejection letter sounds downright condescending. It seems organisers are patting the back of a dejected child, who is on the verge of tears. You think – “Have I not tried enough? I neglected sleep, appetite and everything that mattered to create something unique. And my work is mundane for them, my creativity has no acceptance.” You feel your struggle came to naught. You believe you are a loser for this is not the first time you have been rejected.

And then, from a tiny corner of your mind, emerges a beloved and luminous thought angel. “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying your best.” You remember hearing your child chant that sentence just a couple of days back. It is from his favourite story book. Everytime he comes across this line, he demands an explanation. And you like a doting mother, explain it to him.

This thought chastises and shakes you to sit upright. You no longer look grumpy and slumped. You think – “Why did I forget the meaning of the line when it became relevant in real life? Is it one thing to lecture a child and another thing to incorporate in real life?

You smile pleasantly as you repeat to yourself – “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying my best”. 

One happy thought defeats dejection. The thought of quitting no longer plagues your mind. You know, you cannot let down your creativity. Winning or no winning, appreciation or no appreciation, applause or no applause… you will try to create like the everflowing murmuring  ‘Brook’ ( Alfred Lord Tennyson). “Men may come and men may go but I go on forever”. Victory is transient, creativity is not!

You once again gear up to take up another challenge… just for the heck of it. Who thinks about failure as long as you are creating! Indeed, life is not about winning, it is all about trying your best! The rejection letter is forgotten.

Two years and going strong…

  (This Valentine Special is a guest post by my friend and blogger Mini Singh.)

…I told him, “ I love you “. He was too busy checking out the new wheels and didn’t answer. I was dumbfounded! I waited for a few more seconds and then I said with little more emphasis on those three simple yet most important words, “I LOVE YOU”. He gave me one long look, which went right into my soul. I noticed him taking in my chunky nerdy glasses, dishevelled hair and a tired looking face. But he finally lisped the sweetest words, “I ove you”.

I couldn’t be more happier hearing these words. My little boy has turned two this week. He can’t yet pronounce words with letter ‘L’ in them and tends to say lollipop as ‘wayapop’ and love as ‘ove’. The only L-word he has mastered is ‘Lets go’, perfect to remind us that it’s time to go out for a walk. He likes spinning things, pretty much every thing that he lays his eyes upon and is always on the move. He can be especially seen in our wooden corridor near the entrance as the house is fully carpeted and the little explorer has already understood there is less friction from wood than other surfaces. And after spinning every new object, he turns around seeking an audience, and then our eyes meet and he beams with pride borne out of great accomplishment. I feel great to be a mother at moments like this. Motherhood is indeed blessed!

I have learnt with time and maturity that endless love comes only from a child and all they need in return is time and attention. We need to nourish them well, nurture them into fine human beings and try to be there always. Because they are what we will leave behind.

Have a look at my little beloved, who has changed my life forever!

  

The Redeemer of Sins

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The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be…a redeemer of sins committed by them.

Since childhood, little Luigi would notice the brutality of the men in his family. They were aristocrats and ruled whimsically. The women were prudish too.

As he grew up, he felt agonised to see the atrocities. One day, he saw his father beating a subject to death. He cried and begged God to give his family good sense. He resolved to do as much good as he could to absolve their crimes.

He rejected politics, ancestral riches, marriage in favour of priesthood. To this day, Rev Luigi is working tirelessly for mankind.

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here MFtS

5 Most Powerful Thoughts of My Life

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There are times when we are sad, depressed, dejected and morose for real or imaginary reasons. Sometimes life is so hard, so unjust, so evil…it is easy to fall prey to the sin of despair. But I have learnt with experience that at such trying times, it is our own thoughts that can either make or break us…they can make most lethal of enemies… Or they can be better than the best of friends. The choice is ours only.

So, here are my 5 favourite borrowed thoughts that I chant like mantra whenever faced with trying times or any grim reality. Hope it strikes a chord with you too:

  • Be aware of me always, adore me, make every act an offering to me, and you shall come to me; this I (Krishna) promise, for you are dear to me – Krishna in Bhagwat Gita ( He is in happiness as well as in unhappiness. All is His doing, even the pain is sent to us with a good intent. So, why should we despair when He is taking care of us.)
  • All power is within you. You can do anything and everything. Believe in that. Do not believe that you are weak; do not believe that you are half-crazy lunatics, as most of us do nowadays. Stand up and express the divinity within you – Swami Vivekananda (the most positive person ever!)
  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think. ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself. ― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. ( The quote is anonymous but Murakami has beautifully elaborated it.)
  • It is great if you get what you want but in case, you don’t get what you want, then it is even better….because of the simple reason that what you are getting is God’s will. And there can be nothing greater than God’s will! – (The legendary poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s advice to his actor son Amitabh Bachchan holds so much truth and wisdom.)
  • If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    (If by Rudyard Kipling is my favourite poem. I love the last line here, ‘to stoop and build’ whatever we have lost one more time and rise like a Phoenix from our ashes.)

Hope these 5 wonderful thoughts keep you and me positive under all circumstances and enable us to fight with problems. Amen!

image courtesy Google

The Bride of Fourteen

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Arriving at the beach, she reflected on her life. It had been an unusually long one. She would be 100 in a couple of years. Although her memory was blurred now, she still remembered the day of her marriage at the age of fourteen.

And the day when her eldest was born. She was sixteen then. And she didn’t know how to hold the little one. But during those days, there were so many people on whom she could rely. Her husband, parents, siblings, friends…but now they were all gone.

It was funny but she never really missed anyone after they left her. She felt she was connected with all of them through ‘Him’. ‘He’ had been her constant companion since childhood. Her conversations with ‘Him’ were entertaining and sustaining. ‘He’ would be there for her even till the end of the world, she knew it.

She laughed like a girl of fourteen again!

This story is a part of Mondays Finish the Story by Barbara Beacham. This is a flash fiction challenge where a new photo and the opening sentence is provided. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words. Click here to take up the challenge: https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com

Mum in Minneapolis

imageLast year when we came to Minneapolis in USA, I had no idea that there would be an addition in our family of three – I, My husband and our two year old son. We moved in winters, when the climate is severe…savage I would say, and a zero degree day is supposed to be a warm day. Coming from India, a warmer place, I felt like crying when I stood shivering at the airport waiting for a cab.

The first few days, I would move around my house in a snow jacket and socks but gradually, I got moderately acclimatised. It was not long when I discovered that I was going to be a mum again…new place, new people, new way of life and a newborn! I was unsure how I would manage everything. But I must say Minneapolis has a beautiful way of treating its people, she makes everyone feel at home despite having a very harrowing climactic conditions.

I watched the first snowfall of my life through a window. It was like meditation and I knew everything was going to be alright. Slowly, memories from my childhood in a small town in India, started getting revived as we passed along the beautiful lakes and rows of long trees. The small town feel, the ever smiling faces and nods of passers by, the laid back life transported me back to my childhood days when the world was ‘not in a hurry’. I would share the wonderful pictures with parents, siblings and friends back home.

Target was the first store I visited in the US. It was huge! Weekly visits to the Walmart and the Indian store (TBS) became a part of life. Then there was daily chat with sis in law through phone. I started liking the place. My spirited two year old too had a playroom of his own to mess up. One gets such adorable stuff for kids here in ToysRus. It just brings out the child in you. I admit, I was cowed down by the vastness of the Mall of America initially, then it was sheer fun going there. And in the dollar tree you could get any stuff for a dollar! Everywhere my son was treated very well..my father in law rightly says…a child is a king in USA!

In the mornings, picturesque sights greeted me through my window. In Minneapolis, when the ground is white, nature uses the sky as a canvas and when it is summer, the place is in blooms…colourful, vibrant, vivacious and to say the least,…it revives you from within. Visits to the Fairview clinics for my pregnancy check ups were fun too. My toddler befriended nurses and the doctor there.

However, life threw challenges now and then. I was often sick and with a two year old and the cooking and cleaning, I felt really tired. I missed India then. In India, you get help and maids are available but here, it was a pain to work even when I was sick. Also, one misses family, friends, festivals, marriages, social gatherings, the chaos, the heat, surprisingly, even the negative things…everything. There are two things I would wish I could really import from India – beauty parlours where eyebrow is plucked not waxed and second, underground enclosed parkings so that one doesn’t have to brave the brutal cold.

My son turned three and soon after I had my newborn baby boy through c-section. I thought I would crack up…as my parents in law could not reach on time and the baby came early. But the hospital, the staff everyone were just wonderful. I cannot express how gentle and caring the nurses were! And at this critical time of my life, our little circle of friends supported us like rock. We were provided with care and unconditional support.  I am very thankful to each one of them…and I pray to God to keep them blessed always. My hubby was like a one-man-army throughout this period.

It was a nice family time when parents in law arrived and we heaved a sigh of relief. One of our closest friends brought a swing for our little baby boy, and it was magic through and through! My baby just loved swinging in it, leaving me free to do other chores. The fall season in Minneapolis was pure wonder…we enjoyed family rides, get-togethers and outings.

It is winters again here. My preschooler has started going to school and loves it. At home, we speak Hindi because of the fear that he might forget his mother tongue, so picking up the English language is a bit tough for him…but how he enjoys blabbering in English! My baby has outgrown the swing and loves to independently move around.

Whenever we go out…it is like going back to my childhood days in a small town in India, snugly sitting with my father…passing long trees on a wide road, stopping occasionally to look at a beautiful bird and just chatting away. I think this is what my boys will remember when we go back to India.

It has been one amazing year in Minneapolis for me . President Obama rightly reflected recently that there is a natural affinity between the two democratic nations…India and USA. I think, it is because both the countries love reaching out to newcomers and acceptance level is high.

I cannot help saying..now..I feel ‘at home’ in Minneapolis.