January 28, 2011

Close Your Eyes

One of the most important lessons I learnt in life happened when I was least expecting it to spring itself on me.

I sat as part of a large audience, listening to the speaker, who was a charming young man, and speaking a lot of sense. He spoke about drugs, he spoke about sex, he spoke about academics, he spoke about peers and the resultant pressure - all those things that are so important to teenagers, all those things they give so much importance to, but speeches nevertheless, and we forget them faster than we can step out of the hall.

"Don't give gyaan," we are saying inside our heads, no matter how much sense it makes. I was gradually switching off because there is only so much that you can and want to absorb and after a point, I decided it was irrelevant to me. I had hardly ever given in to peer pressure, I had my own mind and opinions, I would never touch alcohol and drugs and cigarettes with a ten foot barge pole and I had particularly strong personal views about pre-marital sex at that point in time. I didn't need this talk. I was doing fine.

My parents had done a fabulous ethic-and-morals job on me, I would say.

Then the speaker's voice broke through my reverie. Get up, find a person you have never met or seen or spoken to before. Form pairs - one of you will be blindfolded, the other will take the blindfolded person for a walk around the children's park next door.

I gulped. Nothing in my wildest dreams would have prepared me for this. Especially not this.

We got up awkwardly, that hall full of about 100 people, and I was found by a large, bored looking girl. She said an awkward hello and smiled at me and we introduced ourselves. All I knew was I was going to be led around a park, replete with children and adults, who would see the lot of us blindfolded - and my guide's name was Priya.

I was blindfolded - Priya held my hand and took me for a walk. I felt a bit like a blind dog. It was consoling that there were about fifty pairs of us. I was not the only one looking like a fool.

Lesson no.1. None of us wants to look like a fool if we are going to do it alone, no matter what the activity, of learning, of fun, or both.

I groped, stepped very gingerly, afraid of tripping or walking into people and things. After a while, I realised...I did not need to do it. I did not need to try. I needed just to listen to Priya. She kept telling me where there was a stone, some cow dung, a dog running straight at us, she steered me off paths where I would trip or fall, she counted out stairs for me so I could climb without worrying. After a while, I stopped worrying and smiled and let go of that worry - I allowed Priya to lead me, and meanwhile, I decided to do other things.

I heard a child laughing while being given a push on a swing. I smelt the gentle waft of jasmines in the park. I felt a dog run past me, his soft fur touching my feet for a split second. I laughed and giggled at how this whole activity was funny.

You know the best part - in less than ten minutes, I had a friend I completely trusted and all I knew about her was her name. The sound of her voice. How her hand felt in mine. Safe and responsible. How many times have I made a friend who I trusted so completely in a span of ten minutes?

Lesson no.2. Life can be trusted to take you safely through every path, if you only let it steer the wheel - it can be trusted you know. There is no need to worry. At all.

Some of us call it God.

January 17, 2011

Finding Love

Until we cross over to the other side, we all belong to that lost group of people that are looking for real love. The heart-wrenching, gut-moving, mind-numbing sense of true belonging, perhaps not unconditional, like the Creator has for the Created, but close nevertheless.

The kind that wants to live forever because you found the person you love and won't settle for anything less than forever.

Until you get there, life is one big question, as if you are incomplete, because you are missing part of the whole, your soul-mate of sorts. Nothing looks as colourful, things seem pretty purposeless, and there is a wide gaping hole inside of you in evenings when its perfectly quiet in your room and suddenly, a 10X10 room looks over-large.

You are not alone - you are lonely.

But when you cross over to the other side and feel qualified enough to talk about finding life-lasting true love, you know just one extra thing.

That when you start doing all the things you love, you find true love waiting for you round the corner, and then...then, you are in no hurry. You stroll lazily across to them, you know they won't turn around and disappear, you know they are going to be hanging around right there and your eyes are on them. You take your time then, read that book you love to read, eat the things you love to eat, spend a day doing things you have always wanted to do, like walking through new roads and finding a shortcut, going to catch a movie all alone and thoroughly enjoying it.

You build a house of cards, you make a new friend, you decide to learn how to cook your favourite thing, you pleasantly surprise your parent, you mail order a pizza to your best friend in another city...you fall in love, over and over, with your life and with yourself. You know, finally, how to be happy and alone, not sad and lonely.

Then you find love. Only then.

January 09, 2011

Coming Back

Surprisingly, a lot of writing comes happens when the senses skid into a realisation that sinks into the innermost layers of the self. And a bit of writing also happens when the self stretches itself and brushes accidentally or intentionally, into a truth it always knew but seemed to have forgotten.

You, who told me suddenly, a few moments back, to never stop writing, to not let anything stop me, just reached out to both writings, and both selves, the Whole and the Partial. I am back because each is answerable to the other. Neither can stop the other from realisations, however minor, because we promised each other, we would stumble along and learn and although alone, we would never be lonely.