Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This will pass..

Some day this will pass and I will be able to look back and smile, we have to tell ourselves when we are faced with a terrible blow. The yearning, the restlessness, the regret may even seem ridiculous in time. But, till then we have to break the time into tiniest of parts and try to squeeze life from each of the them.

How long can one carry this burden - unfulfilled desires, unmet expectations, wrong perceptions, unrequited love and broken promises? Life is littered with disillusionments but we have to move on. It took a Buddha to realize that desire is the root cause of suffering, and it took a Buddha to get over all desires to reach Nirvana. For the rest of us, the task is not easy, even if we listened to what he said. We stumble, we fall, we question, we cry. Sometimes we rise, sometimes we just resign. But there must be something worth living for we are still here.

A dear friend asked, "Arundhati, why is it so hard to live alone?" She is going through the horror of a bitter, long drawn divorce. For several months I have seen her coming to terms with life sustained only by an ardent faith. She breaks down like this sometimes, when the burden becomes unbearable. She cries her heart out and when she is done she wipes her eyes, stands erect and tries to negotiate with life on her own terms. I can't do much for her except for lending an ear. But I am in awe as I see her rise again and again from the ashes of her conscious. Yet, when she asks, why is it so hard to live alone? I have no answer.

Through our lives we get into various relationships - brother, sister, parent, husband, wife, lover, friend. Each relation comes with a baggage of expectations. If they are not fulfilled we are hurt, if they are fulfilled we end up with still more expectations. At some point of time, when the burden becomes too much to carry, we start struggling to get out. But more we shake our limbs to escape more we find ourselves entangled in the mire. Liberation does not come easy and loneliness seems like the greatest of the curses.

Just as a flame would burn till the end of its fuel, a relationship would sustain only until it has substance. So many of our relationships burn out. Some exist as mere shadows - sometimes just for the sake of society. Yet we cling on to them either out of social pressure or emotional dependence. We try to stoke them, struggle to breathe life in them only to be disappointed again and again. For so many of us end of a relation seems like the end of the world. We get desperate to a point that we are willing to sacrifice our self respect, our dignity, our principles and values to sustain a relation.

But, if a relation demands the sacrifice of your self esteem, is the relation worth it? You fall in love with a man who is not even willing to take responsibility for his actions. Is he really worthy of your love? The ability to love unconditionally is the greatest power of all. Yes, you are prepared to make greatest of the sacrifices for the person you love and that is noble. But if your love rips you off of your self, is it even love anymore? How far can you go and how much could you loose?

Any relationship should be based on the pillars of attachment, trust, sacrifice and mutual respect. If any of these is weak it would not take time for the relation to crumble.

If there is anything we are entitled to in this life, it is dignity and self respect. It is our right as the children of God. Any relation which crosses these boundaries should and would die.

Yes, it will hurt when the relation to which we gave everything comes to an end. But if we step out of the pain and regret and open our hearts wide enough, we will see that, actually, we do have a choice. We could choose to close ourselves with hatred and wallow in self pity or rise above ourselves with compassion and strength. Our dignity is our legacy but it is our responsibility too. We are the guardians of the divinity within us and we have to maintain its purity and respect. For this we have to be emotionally self reliant. We have to find within ourselves the strength to live this life away from the context of all the relations - accepted or imposed.

Words of song waft through my mind...

Khulke muskurale tu dard ko sharmaane de

Boondonko dhartipar saaz ek bajaane de

Open your heart and smile and let the pain run shy

Let the drops of rain play a melody around you...

Monday, October 25, 2004


What makes me a woman? I have been asking myself for past few days. My body? My spirit ? My thoughts? My actions? My preferences - both sexual and otherwise? Is it even possible to encase womanhood in words? It probably isn't, but it seems to be a need of times for something haunts me.

Is ability to reproduce foundation of womanhood? If I am not able to reproduce, does that make me less of a woman? I ask myself, as I come to terms with my difficulty to conceive.

It is strange how age old traditions and beliefs haunt you when you think you are above them. They seem to make a back door entry and dig into your mind where you are most vulnerable.

Images of age old suffering conjure up in my mind - images of women persecuted for their inability to bear children. Women tortured, rejected, insulted for bearing daughters. So many before me have died living deaths of relentless torture and insult. So many have lived in the burden of self deprecation.

No, I have not been tortured. I have not been insulted. In fact I am fortunate enough to have some of the most incredible people around me. I am blessed with a mind which has an ability to think and a spirit that, at least, has a concept of freedom. So, I have a privilege to ruminate, to question, to redefine my womanhood.

But confession has to be made. For a moment at least, I have betrayed my sensibilities by feeling incomplete, inadequate, stunted. It has taken a lot of effort to gain back my senses. The hurt to my ego was terrible. The pain lasted for days. How could I lack this - something which is so much a part of lives of any woman I have known? Why am I being denied the experience which seems to be such an important part of the life of a woman? The fact is that when something is denied to you, it becomes even more important.

What is it? Pollution? Stress? Mistakes in my upbringing? Past Karma? Curse? Black magic? I have tried to come up with so many reasons, silly and otherwise. Mind never fails at surprising you, does it? The rationalization need not be rational at all! And for a person like me, who has supreme ability of never forgiving oneself, it gets even worst.

If it were someone else, I would have given her comfort, understanding, perspective, support. But why am I not able to give that to myself? Recently, I read about a woman who was suffering from a rare condition, where she did not have any reproductive organs at all. No uterus, no ovaries, no cervix and no vagina. Inside a perfect female form, she hid an emptiness that was beyond comprehension. Her identity crisis seemed worst than mine, I almost cried with sympathy. But for myself, I don't even have tears. My mind is on fire and I am letting my heart burn. Compassion is the greatest of virtues - not only towards others, but towards oneself too! When will I understand this? Mind can be your greatest friend and it can be your greatest enemy!

So it is time to discover that woman in me.

I look at the mirror and see a perfect female form. The curves of my body, the softness of my skin, the grace of my gait, all whisper my femininity. My heart quickens at the touch of my man. I seek the warmth of his skin, the roughness of his touch. And I possess the greatest gift of all, I am able to open myself to accept him.

I have the ability to cry at will, to laugh at the smallest of things. I can look at a flower and marvel at it's beauty. Gossip gives spice to my life, applying nail paint is greatest of my joys and heaps of clothes is my idea of heaven.

I have compassion, tenderness, empathy to all that is little, fragile and weak. I am flighty, shy, moody, mysterious. It is hard to fathom the depths of my soul. I breathe fire one moment and break down into tears the next. I indulge in romance and human relationships fascinate me.

I can fall in love and how? I can fling myself completely, uncontrollably, passionately, with everything I have. I can suffer in love and love in suffering. Love speaks from the deepest of the places in my heart. Sacrifice does not bother me for I can loose the world for a twinkle in the eyes of a loved one.

I may not be able to reproduce, but I can create - a poem, a story, a thought, a smile, a word of care. I may not be able to give birth, but I can nurture - a sapling from a seed, a cat from a kitten, a human from a child.

Is it really so hard to see her, if you open your heart enough? I can glimpse her now, deep inside myself, the woman that I am. She is hiding somewhere behind the veil of self doubt, I know. It is time to find her, to bring her out in the sun and let her breathe free from expectations. She should see herself too and bask in the glory of her womanhood. She should be proud, yet grateful for all that is endowed to her. The triumph of her existence would melt any clouds that fate has chosen to cast upon her being.

I will embrace her now and with her I will sing the song of this life, in a celebration of the divine.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Its one of those days when I speak of love

It is one of those rare, precious days when you feel you are loved by everything around you and you are in love with everything in sight. The rains have just subsided and the sun has blessed the world around me with a fresh, crisp warmth. The leaves that have fallen off with the rains are now in tango with the winds. They are free now, free to waft away or park themselves in a warm cozy nook. They are not worried about wasting away in an aimless journey, for they whisper a promise of life.

As I look at the hills and breathe in the warmth, I feel beautiful. My skin seems to shimmer and my body is a beautiful symphony. This is when I want you to touch me - when I am feeling so beautiful. And this is when I miss you the most. I am jealous of those leaves just as I am jealous of anything that is free - anything that could fly to you at will and play with your hair.

I spread my arms to embrace the warmth and a miracle happens. I open my eyes to see I am in your arms. Your face is close to mine as you whisper messages of love, only to be heard by me. I even twitch a little, as your stubble pricks my ear, and complain half heartedly at the sweet pain of your bite on my now beautiful neck. You have held your hand over my eyes, to protect me from the sun and kiss my lips in full, savoring the taste. You touch me like you own me, like I am yours and yours only, and like the world doesn't matter anymore, for we are where we should be.

As your love seeps into my being, these barriers don't seem barriers anymore. The distance between us disappears as does the burden of life. The sun has the power to melt them all: the thoughts, the duties, the obligation, the pain - all that conspires keeps us apart.

Do you feel this too my dear when you look out in the sun? I hope one of these rays that just made me shine, lighted your face with the same love as mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Of rain and such

It was raining here yesterday, the usual Northen California rain - calculated and cold. There is no such thing as enjoying the rains here. We walk out of our little boxes at work and hurry to another box, the car, and then to the last box, our apartment, hating the rains along the way. Rain and cold are now a fixed pair in my mind so much so that I have lost the association with the monsoons.

Not too long back ( or is it?) I would have been on a two wheeler with Mukta, heading for Sinhagad, right in the hardest of the monsoon rains. We would have gone up there in the fog and mist and peered down to see, if anything, of the valley below. It would not have mattered that we could see nothing. The fog would offer infinite possibilities. The sheer uniformity of it would set us free take any direction we liked. It would make way as we moved on, creating a cozy, private enclosure, hiding all that was unpleasant. Some walk in the clouds it would have been!

The fog, though, is treacherous thing, they say. It beckons you to test yourselves beyond the limits of sanity. So much so that I have heard tale of a young man who, mesmerized by the fog, jumped straight into it only to die in the valley below. Once you are in the fog, this does not seem that insane. Anything seems possible there. You are so incredibly close to yourselves that the boundaries between the mind and matter, the inside and out are blurred to the extent that you don't know what is truth and what is imagination. Life seems to have no beginning or end, just a middle, stretched to infinity on both sides, so much like the fog.

I happened to be in Konkan one monsoon and experienced what monsoon is really about. Every monsoon, the earth and the sky play a mating dance there. The sky takes her passionately, mercilessly and she rises to every challenge, soaking in the nourishment he has to offer, demanding for more and more. Who wins, who looses - does not matter. What matters is the pure, raw, primal passion - love as it should be.

In the hiatus, the earth bursts with life. Thousands of species of plants begin their journey at this time with an infinite promise of life. It is green everywhere, but the greenery is not ephemeral. It does not consist of grass that grows in the monsoons and dies with it. The plants are as passionate for life as their mother. They reach into the depths of her for nutrition and soon learn to thrive on their own. Nothing is left untouched by this magic; no patch of soil, no corner of a home, no stack of hay. It is like the earth is making a statement against all that is sullied and impure, displaying, in full force, its capacity to create life.

I am not nostalgic by nature and almost never think about the past. But something touched a chord yesterday, maybe it was the sight of a sapling or whiff of a fragrance of wet soil. What started this reverie, I don't know. But the journey to the past was beautiful....