What would you die for?

What would you die for?

It was a cool, breezy spring evening, with the fragrance of flowers in the air and butterflies of all colours flirting with the chaos of blooms everywhere. I still remember the sparkle in his eyes when he looked deep into mine, held my hand and said, “I can die for you.” My tender heart, all of 15 years beat so loudly that I was sure all the neighbour could hear it. I gulped down my nervousness, gave him a short smile, tugged my hand away from his clasp and ran! I ran as I had never run in any school race,I ran as if the devil was chasing me…. his words kept ringing in my ears, he could die for me… he could die for me… I was not sure I had wanted someone to die for me, I wanted him to love and live with me… but I could.not get any words from my dry mouth. So I ran. That was the first time I was faced with the words, ” I can die for.

That story ended as all teenage crushes do, and life moved on. But thereafter,over the years, I got to hear these words so often, in different places, diffferent contexts, from different people, for different reasons.
Today, I look back and wonder, do we really know the depth and immensity of the words we drop so casually…. what is it that is worth dying for?
What can you give up life for? And if to get that you need to give up life, then how can you get that and enjoy it? Is life so cheap that it can be traded for anything worldly? Or is any person worth trading your life For? Then what use would you be or your life be,to that person, if you a no more?
So, this question has followed me doggedly, over time,over millions of springs, million evenings and keeps prodding to me think, what would I die for?



Love is……

The other day, I found an old diary in a stack of old books. It was the one I had used to write poems in, when I was in college, way back in time…. I found this poem on love and it set me thinking….

Love is blinding

The fog horn blew, its deep, lonely sound making the sailors at sea

Wish to be at home;

Its huge shining eye, blinking back tears of solitude.

It blew again, deep, d-e-e-p down in the sea,

The monster stirred.

Ah! After a long, long wait of a million years,

Someone had come at last!

The monster up above was calling him!

He began his ascend to the surface; a long, tedious ascend.

He made it and…..

There it was!!

The tall figure with a bright shining eye, so much like his own!

The horn blew yet again;

The monster rose to his full height and responded with joy.

But…… the fog horn stopped calling!

Oh, the agony!

After million years of waiting lone, he had found a companion,

And, ….. and now…

It refused to answer!

The monster, filled with desperate fury, his eyes reflecting pain and anger,

Screamed and struck the light house;

Destroying it before it could hurt him anymore.

The lighthouse crashed down, and the monster….

Now overcome with anguish and remorse,

Sank back into the deepest, deep,

To wait another millennium…..



Reading it after almost 30 years, I smiled in amazement. How my understanding of the concept called “love” had meta morphed! Life, experiences had helped to see it more closely, understand it and know what Love is.

Love is not blinding, it is not destructive, it’s not about possession. Love is not at all about someone belonging to you or vice-versa. Love does not mean conquering or owning. It cannot be propriety.

Love is a state of being. Love is born inside a person, in the soul, It sets you free, giving joy irrespective of whether you are alone or with someone…. Love is freedom. It is the birth of prayer; it is the light that illuminates the path of faith.

So often, we confuse love with lust. Lust is a need, making us dependent. A dormant state of the soul that doesn’t last long, leaving us with a feeling of emptiness and loneliness. On the other hand, love is like the awakening of the soul, its not a relation, its not in relation to someone, or something. It’s a state of being, a feeling of completeness within, of fullness and joy. When this joy overflows, it surrounds you with peace, exaltation and “gladness” at being alive. When you experience love, you do not limit it to a person or thing, there is no need to possess, to own or to control the thing that gives you joy. It is the knowledge of freedom and purity from within, so in that sense you can neither fall into or out of love…. It’s a state of being, being one with oneself, exalted, in bliss…..







A smile….

Last weekend, we decided to take a walk down memory lane. We pulled out all the old photo albums, brought out the popcorn, chilled lemonade and sprawled on the cool floor, to relive the times captured in those albums. 

I noticed that in some pictures I had a glow on my face, absolutely radiating and in some, i looked completely lack- luster.  I looked again, a little closer this time, trying to understand what was missing in some pictures, as they were from same time zone. I pointed it out to my children and asked them if they noticed it too. Yes, they too felt that in some pictures they looked so radiant and “Alive” while not so much in others. We flipped through more pictures, trying to get a hold on what was the missing element.

Then it occurred to me, slowly, dimly. I looked back again, to reconfirm. Yes! The answer to our question was:  a simple Smile! No, no, not the scientific twisting of the facial muscles when you stretch your lips and cheeks laterally and sometimes, even show some teeth. I am talking about the real, heartfelt smile, coming from the heart, and reaching up to the eyes, lighting them, sending a soft glow on the face; an honest, from-the-heart smile! 

You see, its not just a physical movement of the facial muscles or a mask pulled on for the  sake of the camera.Its not a pouting of the lips, looking deep into the lens. Its not even about the right angle of the light and turning of the face. It isn’t something you can achieve without feeling the emotion. The smile is a combination of the “happy hormones” (or whatever they are called in science books) triggered in your body by the joy you experience in that moment and this reaction is reflected on the face, in the twinkle of the eyes, the soft hue on the face, the peace in the heart and finally, the U-turning of the lips. Wow! It a chemical-emotional reaction!!

A smile is the best make-up and accessory for the face, turning you into a more beautiful person, in that moment, when you smile with your heart, your being. And you don’t need the camera, to smile. When there is a song in your heart and your mind is flooding with the “happiness hormones”, when you are comfortable with being you, the smile comes spontaneously! sometimes, you may even find yourself smiling into space, at nothing in particular! Here, I must warn you that if people are around, some may look at you with strange curiosity! Do not let it bother you. You just go ahead and smile!!! 


My baby has grown up

As I stepped into the house last evening, my son rushed out of his room to greet me. The seventeen years old had a wide grin on his face, a sparkle in his eyes and a lightness in his step. I sensed there was something very exciting coming up, because this 6-feet baby of mine did not usually display so much emotion and come skipping out of his room to greet me. I waited, my mind racing, trying to guess a possible reason for this joy. By then, he had come and stood in front of me. He reached for my hand, put a 100 rupees note on it and stood expectantly, waiting for my reaction. I looked at him, looked at the note and then back at him, realizing this was an immense moment but unable to comprehend. He understood. Smiling, no, correction, beaming, he said that this was the first earning of his life!! He had earned the 100 rupees on his own, with his own efforts and with his own intelligence!

I looked at his hands and saw the tiny, pudgy, balls of pink, 17 years ago, which I had held in mine and slowly kissed each finger, the day he was born. I looked at his eyes and saw the huge, black eyes that shone many shades darker when he used to cry to be fed. I saw his tiny pink feet, soft and tender, kicking away into the air all day. I could still hear his gurgles of laughter and smell his baby- powdered skin. I could still feel his hand clasping my finger whenever we went out, how he would stand beside me, toying with my dupatta while I spoke to people we met, look up with his huge eyes and smile, each time I called is name. Time and again, he would turn and look at me, reassuring himself that mother was around, and then get busy playing.

I shook out of my reverie. Here he was, standing taller than me, having earned his first bit of money!!! How soon those tiny, pink hands grew into these strong, square hands, I did not realize…. How quickly he stepped out of my shadow, and into the world, I did not realize……  Yes, indeed, my baby had grown…. I smiled warmly, looking at him with pride, my heart seeming to burst with the flood of love that surged inside, I raised my arms and hugged him. My baby had grown up!!



A soul is a mirror


       Have you ever wondered why you get along with some people and not with some others? Does it make you curious to know what attracts some people towards you while some others remain on the periphery or simply indifferent? Why did we, in school, ( and often still do in adulthood!) have “best friends” who were more dear to us than the others?  These thoughts have been on my mind for a long time now. I often mulled over the fact that while some people adored me, some liked me, for some I did not exist and yet a section of people who were strongly repelled and chose to stay away from me. If I am the same person, living the same philosophy each day, then what evokes this diversity of emotions and responses?

       This morning, I looked at myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth, as usual in a rush and a thought struck me. I looked at myself closer. I looked at the mirror and then at myself in the mirror. There was something I had to understand, something that was almost in my grasp. I paused my brushing and looked again. Yes!! there it was! The answer was staring back at me!

 This mirror held the explanation to my quest for why we evoke different responses from different people. Each soul is a mirror. When a person lives in integrity, with the soul and the outward conduct being in sync, the soul is a mirror for all those who come in contact with us. Each person sees himself reflected in your soul. If they like the reflection, they stay, in your life and in your circle of friends. If the reflection makes them uncomfortable, they drift away and avoid possibilities of seeing themselves reflected. It is not you they avoid, it is seeing themselves reflected in your soul mirror that they avoid. 

 It is your soul and your choice to live in integrity from inside-out. You cannot change what the mirror reflects. You cannot then, have everyone in your “best friends” list. This is what I have now have to learn to live with. Mirror cannot change as per the person standing in front of it, it will simply do what it does, reflect………


Befriending Jealousy

                The other day while I was getting into my shoes to go for my evening walk, my teenage son asked if he could join me. I happily welcomed him and we both set off. For a while,  we talked of routine stuff, his studies, college friends, food, his new haircut. But I could sense that there was something more he wanted to discuss. It was not usual for him to take a walk with me, as he found walking very slow and sedentary, very “oldie kinda concept”, in his own words. I played along gently, giving him the comfort to open up and talk about the thing that was bothering him. 

Finally he asked, ” Ma, how does one handle jealousy?” I took a few deep breaths as I processed his question in my mind, smiled inwardly that it was not such a catastrophe I had been bracing myself for and decided to share my wisdom and understanding of this concept called jealousy.

Jealousy is a relative of envy, I said. Very often, when you see something in another person, which you want to have, but don’t, you feel envious. You unconsciously wish you had it too. After a while, you forget about it and move on to other things, busy in your own life. But, sometimes, you cannot forget and move on. Its absence in your life begins to bother you . It continues to bother you and the botheration becomes so acute that you decide to rid the other person of its joy. You could have focused on developing that quality in you, but you take the easier option.

So, my son, I said, the only way to handle jealousy is to improve your quality even more! Rise higher and do better. It is the should be the fuel for you to raise the bar and enhance your skills! So, actually, your friend’s jealousy towards you can be turned to your advantage! He gave a nod and from his smile I could understand that he could see a path ahead. He gently squeezed my hand and said, “Let me race to the end of the track!” Before I could protest, he sprinted off on the track!!



Lesson from a Bottlebrush

       There is a bottle-brush tree in front of my terrace. I see it everyday when I wake up. Its been looking back at me for the last twelve years that I have been here. 

Every day, it keeps swaying with the breeze, its leaves doing a tango to the kiss of of the cool air beneath them. Every few months, it looks a little taller than it was. It surely grows tall and straight, and FAST!

     As i looked at it this evening, I realized something I had not noticed in all these years we spent together, looking at each other and silently speaking to each other. I realized that as the wind gets stronger, it bends more. Once the wind stops,there it is again; tall and straight. 

     So, what’s special? The quality of the tree to bend and let the wind pass, and still remain intact. Someone might say that it bends each time the wind touches it! I would say, it is this quality of the bottle-brush which lets it hold its ground and keep standing tall, long after the wind has died down. 

    Its as if the tree has been telling me everyday that bending is  not losing, its adapting; and adapting will make you stronger, hold on to your roots and withstand the pressures around you.

     Such a singular lesson and it took me twelve long years to understand!