Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mars is the Next Earth

Suddenly, my older one burst in on me with this theory - that Mars will be the next earth.
Photo courtesy: Srikant Ranganathan

In her words:
"Kalki avataram is the last of the incarnations after which the earth will be destroyed. Mercury and Venus are going to merge with the Sun, and earth is becoming the next Mercury - hot - as it is getting closer to the sun. Mars will come to Earth's position. Already snow capped mountains, underground water and atmosphere conducive for life have been found on that planet. So that will be the next earth. Then after sometime, that will also move closer to the sun and the next planet will become the earth, and this will go on till all are consumed by the Sun."

I listened with a thoughtful smile, thinking how close she is to the theory of expanding and contracting universes. I quoted:

 पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


In 'Vashishta's Yoga', the idea that the whole cosmos begins from a mustard seed  - a complete circle, that expands in creation and contracts in dissolution - seems to be indicated. What she told me, not based on any scientific fact or even with any understanding of what is given in the scriptures, seemed to reflect this same thought. Though this will mean that the sun will also move and so the relative cosmic distances with other stars, planets and galaxies will change, it is quite possible that in a contracting world, earth will eventually go back to its progenitor - the sun.

We will not live to see this, but I was pleased to see the radiant smile on her face when I explained what little I understood to her. And I was glad of the opportunity to give this self-generated nascent thought a direction.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Child-like Mind

An unexpected statement, and my mind flared up. A root thought went round and round in circles, taking over my mind and emotions. My hands went about their work, but the thoughts - a thought, in fact - split into different hues like light passing through prism, scattering into a million other thoughts.

One hue resulted in a debate; another pulled up past offenses; a third imagined a friend to whom I poured out my heart; a fourth thought objectively and judged itself petty for the frenzy it was getting into.

These further splintered into a myriad subthoughts. And, oh, a part was getting bored and sought to distract itself. So wave dipped and peaked, dragging the mind down while another sought to remain neutral and a third tried to boost it up.

The thoughts fueled the morning chores, which got done early due to the anger energy flowing with the blood. A refreshing bath changed the direction of the thoughts. A brief yoga session later, the mind started singing a song and presto! the mood had changed. Like a child that saw a new toy and forgot its tantrum, the mind now easily flowed to other, more pleasant thoughts.

'Dil to bachcha hai ji' - suddenly this line flashed through my mind (the very same, the very same). The mind is indeed a child, pretending to be mature and adult-like, but really a child that sways with whims and fancies. It throws tantrums, becomes stubborn and clings to its views without any rationale sometimes. The ego stands like a guardian - a short-sighted parent - assuring the mind of its perspicacity and encouraging it in its rash and unreasonable behaviour that becomes self-destructive eventually.

A little bit of sugar can distract a crying child. A little focus on our breath can distract our child-like mind. But just like the child enjoys the tantrum, we enjoy our spiraling thoughts.

I bow to our ancestors who identified the gentle guide, the guru - our breath- that calms us, guides us, releases us from the vice grip of our thoughts and emotions without much effort.

The One who gave us problems gives us solutions too, it is said. Most of the times, problems are of our own making. And yet, we have been given a solution in anticipation. Let's at least use that well.

Do problems go away? No, but they cease to become a problem - just a situation that needs to be faced and will pass... A child needs its games. Let it have its fun. Like a mature parent, smile and watch but don't get too involved. The next fancy will change the direction of the thoughts in any case.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Prayer, O Mother

Rising sun, shining forth
Spreading light, and hope
Colouring earth with saffron hue
Riding in the sky ever so blue

White, pure and bright
Filling hearts with divine light
In the middle a blue dot
Representing the Ultimate Truth

The lush, cooling green
And the trees, life-giving
For farmers who toil
Shedding sweat on my soil

The three stand out
And yet are ever together
Fluttering proudly in the wind
Making my heart sing

My eyes well up
When I look at you
Sometimes with pride
Sometimes with regret

May we be worthy of you
May we make you proud
Every day, every year
I offer you this prayer.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pleasure and Pain

From feeling intense anguish
It is no more even a deep wish
Oh! This pain cherished
Has all but vanished.

In this journey through life
Of being someone's mother and wife
Facing day to day strife
Which cuts one like a knife

As old wounds slowly heal
With new ones one has to deal
In layers that don't peel
And yet pleasure in this ordeal

Yes, the pain that gives pleasure
Cherished secretly, like treasure
Not to be revealed even under pressure
And relished with love at leisure

One day that pain too deserts
As better sense reasserts
Living in the present needs efforts
Memories come and go but in spurts

Let go, for past is of no use
To accept pain, heart will refuse
Grab the moment and pain will diffuse
Then in heart will joy suffuse.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Just Another Day

"Ma," 13-year-old Smita called out from inside. "Can you please get me my uniform?"

Ganga looked at the clock and shouted back, "Wrap a towel around you and pick it up yourself."

Jay was in the dining room, reading the paper. "Poor kid, why don't you get her the dress?"

"You are most welcome to," Ganga said as she kneaded the dough indifferently. Jay just shook his head as he continued reading. Ganga felt a pang of guilt but didn't budge - she couldn't. She had a meeting at 10, and if she got delayed, then traffic would delay her.

Smita came out grumbling. "It would have taken you a second."

"Right, and if you had taken it with you in the first place, it wouldn't even need that second," Ganga said and returned to the kitchen.

Smita made a face as she dressed up and tied her hair. She filled up the water bottle, packed her snack and sat down for breakfast. Ganga served her hot chapatis with paneer butter masala. "Yummy! Keep extra," Smita said.

Ganga smiled, "Already packed 5. Is that enough?"

Smita nodded with her mouth full and then hugged her mother from the side.

The house was empty by 9 as each went their way. Smita returned first, at 4.30. She was tired and looked at the dining table expectantly. She felt like having hot dosas, but all she could find was bun and jam. She sighed and ate the snack. She called her mother, "Can you make dosa at night for dinner?"

Ganga was silent for a minute. "Not tonight. I have a dinner meeting. Tomorrow breakfast, I promise."

Disappointed, Smita was about to put the phone down when Ganga said, "I will ask daddy to order something... or the two of you can go out. But..." she paused to let Smita scream joyfully. "You have to finish your homework before that. Do you have any classes?"

"Only maths tuition."

Jay, however, was also tied up at work. Ganga wondered what to do. "Why don't you order something?"

"Come on, Ganga. It maybe 8 by the time I reach home and it will be too late for her. Why don't you go home, make something before leaving for dinner?"

"Won't have time," she replied thoughtfully. "Will order pizza."

"No! I hate pizza."

"Then tell me what? I know the pizza guy will deliver in 30 minutes, but not anyone else. She will be alone at home. I don't want her to open the door for delivery boys..."

"But what if he does not come before you leave?"

"Jay," she said sternly, "If you can give me solutions, do. Don't just tell me about the problems."

"Skip the dinner," he said suavely.

"Return home early," she snapped back and cut the call before it erupted into a fight. She sat back with her eyes closed. She felt she was snapping all the time. She called Jay again. "I will pick up something on the way," she said.

"No, it's okay. I just  rescheduled my meeting to tomorrow. Don't plug in something then..." he warned her, but she smiled feeling the warm rush of love.

"Don't be hard on her," she said softly. "She likes to keep the door closed, just let her be."

She called Smita up to inform her. "Yaay!" her daughter exclaimed. She knew it would be a night of indulgence, but, well, why not. "Just make sure you complete your work and don't aggravate father," she cautioned her daughter.

When she returned after the dinner, she felt tired. Jay was awake but Smita was asleep. "How was the dinner?"

She nodded, but rushed to the bathroom and threw up. "I told you to miss it," Jay said and earned a glare. He got her some cumin seeds and made buttermilk, and though it calmed her churning stomach somewhat, she had a restless sleep.

Next morning, when Smita woke up, she was startled to see her father pottering about in the kitchen and her mother in bed. "Sandwich for breakfast?" she asked with a weak smile.

Jay smiled, "Yes! How did you guess?"

Smita rolled her eyes. "Guess..."

He chuckled. "Oh come, half the world lives on it."

"I belong to the other half," she said over her shoulder as she went about her morning chores. "What's happened to mom?"

"Stomach bug. So please help around if you can," he cautioned her.

Ganga opened her eyes and panicked, seeing it was already 8! She rushed to the kitchen to see Jay clearing up the kitchen and Smita packing her lunch - curd rice with pickle.

"Go to the doc today," father and daughter said in unison. "We can't have you packing up like this," Smita added and hugged her mother. Jay's and Ganga's eyes met over their daughter's head and they smiled.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Cycle of Tragedy

It rocks and steadies, rocks and steadies
Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, catastrophes
Murders, rapes, arson and robberies
Blasts, butchery, terrorism, even slavery

Friday, June 24, 2016

Turning 180 degrees

I am not a sentimental person. I don't have a collection of memories of my children's childhood; nor do I run through their photos often.

And yet, this one moment made me smile and wonder.

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