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wordsmith2015

love, laughter, pain, joy, life and its lessons, one word at a time

silver hair Valentines

The biggest and most genuine love stories can sometimes be found in one’s own backyard. I have found one tucked away in a corner of my home and heart. No, I have no salacious details or a scandalous story. This simple heartwarming tale is about a 75 year old man and a 70 year old woman, who could not be separated by distance, grief, needles, pain, suffering or wrinkles. Their bond, much like the heavily advertised Fevicol one on TV, has stood the test of time and troubles to emerge unbreakable.

For as long as I can remember, they have been inseparable. There were many ‘typicals’ in their past. A typical arranged marriage, a typical dramatic and torturous mother in law, a typical life full of four children. But while growing up, we never felt like we had an average life, nothing typical about it. We always felt special and well taken care of, primarily because we saw the love and bonding between our parents which cemented our foundations with comfort, confidence and trust. And mind you, this was never the expressive or overtly evident kind of love. there was no hugging or kissing or hand holding or date nights, which the current generation views as obvious hallmarks of a healthy marriage or relationship. But it was clear to all of us. Everytime their eyes were searching for each other when troubles came knocking, the way our mother used to hang off the balcony every evening at 6:30 pm, waiting for him to appear around the corner, how she carefully ironed all his handkerchiefs and rolled up all he would need the next morning, the way they stayed up nights, together, for years, trying to ease away our pain and suffering, remembering how lost they looked whenever either one was traveling alone, how she would wake up at 4am to pack fresh parathas when he was leaving for a tour. It might seem that she was busy making all the valuable contributions while he was just wafting around. But despite being in a full time and very important government job, our father managed to fulfill all his duties and shower us with all the love we needed.

Years have passed. We all are married and grown up with our own children. But in the last few years, I have seen a more evident and feverish sort of love emerge between our very own Romeo and Juliet, bordering on reverential. And the tables have turned. After years of silently working and slogging away as the core of this family, my mother’s wheels are now a bit rusted, her pace has slackened and she has almost come to a standstill by the side of the road, literally run over by an onslaught of diseases. And the unsuspecting, unassuming Romeo has emerged as the hero. The setting of this love story has changed as well. Even the props are different. There are multicolored medicine boxes, tubes, wires, injections, walkers, sticks and everything that could unhinge the strongest hearts. But his trembling hands are firm when she needs to hold on. His false teeth are always ready to widen into a cheery smile everytime her tears start flowing. There are cobwebs in both their minds but he fights much harder so he can be clear and steer her through her everyday challenges. This humbling and debilitating ‘new normal’ rips our hearts out on days when we are feeling weak in our resolve but every other time, it makes us proud and melancholy. For we secretly pray for a similar love story in our own lives. Hoping that when the world chugs on around us and we slow down, there will always be one set of feet, slowing down with us, with a silent promise that we will never walk alone.

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the art of being fine

I guess I’m fine

I’m always fine

When your warm hand slipped out of mine after an entire life of holding on and became cold, when I didn’t want to live anymore, they told me, don’t be like this

You’ll be fine soon they said, so I was fine

I think it’s been so long since you’ve gone that I should feel fine all the time. But to be honest, everything feels lacking, a bit sub-par

I eat all the same things we used to but all of it tastes a little bit different you know, like its missing some salt

When I look up at the sky, I sometimes see your face in an odd shaped cloud floating by. That does make me feel better for a while

No matter how many times I make your side of the bed, it never seems right. I think I mess it up myself, just so that it can look like you’ve slept in it

I try to keep myself busy but ever so often, silly things, little things flood my head with you,

A smile I see yours in, someone slurping tea like you did, a nervous hand tapping a table that used to drive me insane

Once I had to berate myself quite severely, when I saw your rusted razor and I cried for days

Don’t worry I’m better now

I have to feel better don’t I? There’s no choice

I try and go for long walks but lately I’ve been forgetting the way back home so I try not going too far

I go to parties but I feel even lonelier sitting all by myself in a corner of the room

I can understand. I don’t blame them. I don’t hear too well and have nothing much to talk about either

So you see? I’m living my life. It’s not much of a life without you, but I live it.

I always lay out an extra plate for you, every-day. It looks empty, just as I feel inside, but I know that one day we will hold hands again

And then I shall truly, truly be fine

There’s today


Life is a constant and unrelenting pursuit.

Of dreams, of destinations, of meaning , of purpose.

What am I doing? How can I do this better? Is this enough?

I sometimes think no one is happy with where they are.

It’s like being on a train journey, always anxious, in anticipation of the next stop
.

Instead of enjoying that mild sedatory rocking motion, that numbing of the nose while sticking it out of the window in the cold nippy night, fighting sleep to crack that murder mystery you’ve carried along as a perfect companion.

Who says striving is bad?

It has tremendous power.It powers us to do more, to do better,to not give up.

But if God intended us to be constant strivers, he would have delivered us as robots.

It’s our imperfections, our pace, our need to slow down that makes us real.

Tomorrow is great but today is amazing.

That picture looks great but put down that camera and let your eyes behold real beauty.

You might not have finished 3 lucrative assignments but you finished that little dollhouse project today.

You never made it for the fancy holiday your friends are on, but you had a piping hot cup of coffee watching the sun set with your head resting against the only shoulder that matters.

You’ll never make everyone happy.

You’ll never have everything to desire.

You’ll never make all your dreams come true.

But look around, take a deep breath, and know that today, you’re already part of an amazing one.

Drive

 

When was the last time you took a drive?

Just sat in the car, unclutched all your thoughts and accelerated far away from whatever is holding you back or towards whatever you want

The headlights come on, clearing your mind and the path ahead, showing you where you’re heading

The seat belt clicks you back into reality but as you pull out of the garage, you feel unfettered, free

Is it necessary to know where you’re going? Sometimes

Will you always know where you’ll end up? No

But does it matter?

The blinking street lights zip past like orderly, well behaved fireflies

Suddenly there is no traffic and you are left soldiering alone, against the inky black sky

Enjoying the solitude, enjoying the nothingness, enveloped in nothing but a nippy breeze

As you stick your hand out to tame the wind and try to grab fistfuls of it, your hand keeps flailing around, almost merry

And it’s a loss of control that feels amazing

Your hair, pulled away from your face is the only thing looking back, taking notes

While you blaze ahead, liberated, anxieties annihilated

Feeling like you’re infinite

An heirloom

 

I owe you so much little one
I’ve tried to repay this debt in tears, patience, lessons, hugs and kisses
But there is so much more I want to show you before this world implodes and consumes itself
A million crimson sunsets, where you can just hear that slight thud when the horizon gets greedy and gobbles up the fiery spheres
Beautiful rivers that carry hopes and goods and people, up and down, like the tides of life
Mute verdure mountains awash with the beauty of simplicity
Kind people who help everyone in their paths like gentle streams rearranging pebbles along their way
Gestures that are laden with hope and happiness, not reciprocity
Long drives taking us to new places, new people, new experiences and sometimes to nowhere
This basket that I’m weaving for you is full of small, simple, happy things
I’ll cover them all with a blanket of hope as I pass them on to you
I know you will look back and wonder what there is left to love in a world packed to the brim with hate, violence, blood and sorrow
But that is when I want you to sit with this little basket and see the wondrous world that was, and still could be, through my eyes

Static


The axis of just about everyone’s personal universe is balanced on something precarious and unpredictable.What will he think? What will she think? Will I look stupid? What will they think if I fail?

This brotherhood of apprehensions comes in a thick book full of myriad shade cards.

One more debilitating than the other, leading to paralysis.

Of intent, actions, determination and resolve.

It’s that same look you see on a child’s face, tapping his bat nervously, waiting for the ball to come in the backdrop of a sea of expectant faces.

Behind stooped shoulders and a quivering mouth, desperate to answer a lingering questioned scribbled and left unanswered on a blackboard.

In an unfinished joke that withers away on unsure lips.

On the beads of perspiration dripping down throbbing temples, which were full of a speech, now frozen, having already predicted failure and judgement.

All they really need to do is see nothing, assume nothing, hear nothing, but the sound of their own voices.

They are the masters of their destinies.

Opinions and tags are like transient ash from a withering campfire.

Long after the ash, fire and heat are gone, what will remain are the coals and pebbles of their determination.

Determined

It flickers, dances, now you see it, then you don’t

Playing hide and seek like a twinkling star

But it’s there.Sitting at the end of that road, that tunnel, that journey

Egging you to try, to fight, to walk, then run towards it

It keeps you warm in the biting cold

It sheaths and shields your passions in the blinding rain

It is baked and stoked on the coals of your determination

It is carved by your shaking but stable hands full of clay and doubt

But it will take shape 

Morphing into people, faces, destinations or dreams

The journey between where you are and where you want to be

I can see you so clearly that it seems you were made for my sight

I can feel you in every pore of my body

My knees might buckle I will still crawl to you

My hands might shiver but my elbows will renew

With every fibre of my body withering and washing away

I will conquer, vanquish , I will have my way.

I want my money back

I would feel cheated for my money.

If I had paid good money, to buy silence.

Post purchase dissonance for sure.

I would rip open the package it was delivered in, but gently, aren’t all wrapping papers engineered to shout and crackle?

I would expect a whole day’s worth of deafening silence but I’d be in for a shock.

The early morning solace, pounded by the unrelenting waves of unfinished conversations playing back from last night.

The quiet coffee lull, shattered by the newspaper screeching its warnings about the world gone mad.

A long run up the hill, without a soul in sight, would fill my head with the noise of aborted work and the instructions I never uttered.

No one plays cassettes or tapes anymore but there is a broken down tape recorder in my head that is always powered up and replaying memories and songs I have long muted.

Try stuffing your ears with cotton and your head with reverberate with the echoes of your own thoughts.

That fellow commuter,listening to music on his earphones, will still, egged on by an incensed sense of politeness, murmur pleasantries while craving his own quietude.

Makes me wonder if it’s more polite to be quiet than to break someone’s quiet.

Did you know that even the sun sets with a slight thud? Everyone’s a talker I tell you.

And don’t even get me started about bedtime orchestras.

Those crickets are my sworn enemies.

If I was really delivered that package, I would send it right back!

Thread by thread


Tricks, emotions, tears, joy and trepidation.

Relationships are like that unpredictable blanket, sometimes too territorial and snug, making you sweat, sometimes not as indulgent, leaving your toes peeping out in the unwelcome cold.

Every fibre woven with memories, music, melancholy.

Infused with a familiar smell of warmth and familiarity,some parts soaked in helpless tears.

Sprinkled with stains of cozy coffees, tinkling laughter and aimless conversations.

Strong and unyielding in portions, threadbare in others.

Tug a string too far and line upon line will unravel.

Tangled, twisted, knotted, but they will still make sense to you.

A wrap too strong and you feel suffocated.

With the rigours and vicissitudes of life, the patterns fade, the lines blur.

But on the most directionless of days, and the darkest of nights, they will land softly on your weathered shoulders.

To lift your chin, to wipe a tear, to kiss a lip, to tell you that tomorrow is another day.

To tell you, stay warm, I’m here with you tonight.

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