Happiness #SoulfulSunday

Happiness is an empty cardboard carton, its sides tearing away, little by little, its original contents lying in some forgotten corner of the house, and its present contents having a whale of a time sitting inside the box, giggling with unbidden joy.

That’s the scene I witnessed last week as I walked towards the nearby vegetable shop. Two little kids were inside this huge carton, jumping up and down, laughing at their own antics with hardly a care in the world.

That’s the scene I have witnessed so many times, with different occupants; some playing hide-n-seek, some others investigating its nooks and crannies, and some just enjoying a siesta in its cool interiors on a warm, summer afternoon.

Happiness lies in such simple things, really. And, we, in our mad search for that elusive happiness go looking for it in all the unlikely places:

In the glittery gift shops that lure the buyers with all the dazzling trinkets and toys under the sun.

In places that boast of being Paradise on earth.

In people who promise us the moon but hardly even have the time to look into our eyes as we speak!

We understand this simple truth, but find it difficult to let go of that vain hope of discovering that happiness where we are sure we won’t.

Aren’t we such a sad, miserable species?

#SoulfulSunday

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This post is written for #SoulfulSunday. 

 

FLY. #FictionMonday

He called it FLY. He had considered christening it–it being the only companion he had in his eight by ten feet cell–but then it would mean getting emotionally involved with the creature, and he didn’t want that. It was after all just a fly that would be dead in a matter of days, far before he would. So, why invite such complications?

It had come flying into his cell one day as he sat staring blankly at the wall, reminiscing about his life; there really wasn’t much to do anyway. It had been the first fly to enter his cell. Usually, he was visited by ghosts of his past; sometimes by some other creatures. But, that day, this little thing had buzzed into his space and demanded his attention.

And gotten him thinking about some rather unusual things. Like, what would the fly eat ? Or, how long would it sleep? Or, would it not feel alone now that it was separated from its family? Do flies have families? Or, are they loners? What must they think about all day?

The questions kept coming and got him more and more intrigued.

If he could, would he able to make the fly his pet? he wondered on days when his heart beat a different tune. He missed his family. And, being in isolation, there were moments when he felt the urge to communicate with someone, share a few laughs, complain about the food, the cell, life, or, maybe, at least, share a smoke.

But, because he couldn’t indulge in these fantasies–he did consider these fantasies; they wouldn’t come true, would they?–he wondered if he could tame the fly, teach it a few tricks, or at least, teach it to respond to his voice. That would be such an achievement!

A house fly lives for 28 days, he had read somewhere. If the fly lived with him, he thought, and if he could, indeed, teach it stuff, then at least the next 20-something days would keep him occupied in some constructive activity!

And so, he set out on this new adventure with the eagerness of a little boy, his heart beating faster and full of hope, his mind filled with dreams for the fly.

The first adventure of his life had found him a wife at age19. His second adventure had made him rich, thanks to the bank he had help his friend loot. He had gone into hiding after that and so was saved. How he had enjoyed spending the cash he had stored in sacks in the extra bathroom!

His next adventure had been bigger–or, probably the biggest. It had taught him to use a gun. He had mastered the art, decided to not use it, but, eventually, had, and killed twenty people, including five kids, seven women, and the mayor of his city. And gotten him in solitary confinement as they deduced he would be a danger to other inmates.

He had completed twenty years here, a guard let it slip one day. How many more? he had asked, for which he had received no answer.

It had indeed taken a toll on his health. His anxiety had risen, and he hallucinated so often. But, he had to save himself from insanity and had therefore forced himself to keep his mind busy, someway or the other.

First he had found a rat that had kept him busy for quite a long time. Then, he had found an army of ants. It hadn’t been easy training them so he enjoyed playing games with them.

And, now he had found this fly.

How long will you keep me busy, little guy? he murmured to the fly as it sat on his toilet, its two large eyes staring back at him, wondering, perhaps, what was in store for it.

 

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The above post is written for #FictionMonday, hosted by my friend, Vinitha Dileep. 

This week’s word prompt is FLY.

What do you fear most? #SoulfulSunday

I pick a T-shirt and a pair of track pants to wear to the nearby shop I need to visit. I get dressed, tie my hair, pick up my purse, phone, keys. I drop the keys in my right pocket and after a minute, or so, check my pocket to be sure I dropped the keys in there. I check my purse again to make sure I have taken my wallet and phone. And, then, I look down at myself. Am I dressed? I did wear the T-shirt and the track pants a few minutes ago, but, I think, let me re-check.

So, I go back to my room, stand in front of the full-length mirror on my wardrobe, and look at myself, head to toe. Yes, I have worn my clothes, tied my hair and, oh, I have remembered to wear my T-shirt the right way, instead of inside out, like I did that day.

I walk back to the door to step out. I turn and check my pockets for the keys. Yes, I have them right where I put them. I pull the door, lock it and walk towards the elevator. Once inside, I again check myself–am I dressed?

Sigh.

It’s one fear that follows me every time I have to go, run an errand, or go for my evening walk. Those are the only two places I visit–the nearby shops for veggies and grocery, and the parking lot, below, for my evening walk. And, each time, I check and re-check myself to see if I am dressed.

That question–am I dressed, or am I imagining myself dressed?–haunts me each time I step outdoors. Last year, the fear wasn’t as pronounced as it has been since the past few months, now. It was somewhere on the periphery of the crowd of thoughts on my anxious mind.

These days, the fear is right there. Front and centre. Gnawing at me every step of the way to the shop and back.

Seriously, I can deal with all the other anxieties and fears that trouble me otherwise, but this one fear has been so difficult to deal with!

Is it something related to age? I am 47 plus. Only.

Or, is it something to do with my anxiety?

Or, some thought that lies hidden in my subconscious and gives me visions of walking all the way to the market area without my clothes on?

Does it happen with you, too?

I know, this is not the kind of post one writes, usually, but the thought was bothering me so much this past half hour, that I decided to share it here, with you all, and ask if we are sailing in the same boat.

Or, do you have any other fears? How do you deal with them?

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This post is written for #SoulfulSunday (albeit a day late!). My WI-FI was out of order. 

Do join me, my friends Esha and Vinitha, in this weekly writing exercise. It will help you get into the writing groove. 🙂 I promise!  

If life had been a fantasy film. #SoulfulSunday

The cool evening breeze soothes the weariness I have been experiencing since this morning. Last night, I slept late. It was a fitful sleep that saw me tossing and turning for quite a while before I finally got an entry deep into Slumberland.

Waking up with a headache and a cranky mood thanks to the change in my sleep schedule, I cursed every chore that awaited my attention.

Grumbling some more like an irritable child, I picked up the broom to sweep away yesterday’s dust and some unpleasant memories, too.  My arm ached from its weight and made it clear that the broom wasn’t its favourite thing in the world. I bent down to begin cleaning, and my back complained, as well. And, today, because I woke up late, tired and groggy, my mood protested, too!

And, the lines from a favourite poem came to mind:

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better

to paint a picture, or write a letter,

bake a cake, or plant a seed,

ponder the difference between want and need?

The artist in me jolted awake as did the writer upon hearing those words and I suddenly perked up thinking how wonderful it would be if I didn’t have to pick up the broom first thing in the morning, but a pen or a pencil?

Okay, it’s not every day that I pick up the broom on waking up. On weekdays, I pick up my yoga mat, and spend forty five delightful minutes in an invigorating session of my favourite yoga asanas. But, on Sundays, I give myself a day off from Yoga to give some attention to my home and its numerous nooks and crannies that on other days lie neglected and forgotten.

So, today, as the poem came to my mind, I wondered how it would be if I sat down to indulge in some creative activity instead of these boring housewifely duties.

With the broom in one hand and the dust pan in the other, I squatted on the floor and imagined a scene straight out of a fantasy film: Me at my table, humming a tune as I made an artwork; the chores staring at me from their dingy corners, shamelessly, filling me with guilt, their constant jibes and prods to leave all else aside going unheard as I sat, deeply immersed in my creativity, least interested in their “worldly affairs”, and finally, after hours of whining and protesting, those stupid chores going back to their corners to await the dawn of another day when I would eventually give them some consideration.

Sounds so much like the Cinderella movie, right? Except that, instead of the chores (in my case) helping me out, I would have my creativity giving me the much-needed helping hand in dealing with all the pain and harassment that my housewifely duties bring me.

Ah, but life isn’t a fantasy film, and so I had to come back to real life and complete the chores, moaning and groaning all the while, promising my tired back that once all this was over, I would lie down and give it a break.

Suffice to say, I did what I planned, despite all the annoyance and the exhaustion, all because I knew that at the end of the day I would indeed have my me-time when I would write to my heart’s content and indulge myself, the way I deserved it.

 

#SoulfulSunday

 

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This post has been written for the #SoulfulSunday–a free writing exercise I enjoy along with my dear friends, Esha and Vinitha. Do join in. You will find yourself getting carried away writing, the way I do these days. We had decided on a 10-minute writing exercise, but here I am, sitting at my desk for the past hour, typing away, happily!

 

 

 

My pets, my writing partners. #SoulfulSunday

My pet dog, Chikoo, was my favorite writing companion. He would sit underneath my dining table, when I sat down to write or read. A peace-loving soul, he would sit quietly for hours as I typed away on the keyboard, pouring my feelings on my personal blog that I had christened, Feelings. Well, back then, I needed to vent out my bottled up feelings, my frustrations about life and my sorrows that I couldn’t share with anybody as openly as I wished to.

Chikoo was a good listener, too, and patiently heard me out as I shared with him my angst. But, it was his silent company while I wrote that I cherish the most. He just let me be. Never one to disturb me or demand attention during my me-time, he would sit lost in thoughts as I sat typing, my feet underneath his warm body, his fur comforting me with its satiny softness.

He was such a darling! A saint, actually.

After his passing, I missed his presence, tremendously. Dogs are special. And, it’s overwhelming coming to terms with their absence.

Later, when Cookie joined us, she offered the same kind of quiet company while I worked on my blog. She would perch on my shoulder, earlier. Later, she started sleeping inside my T-shirt, nestled against my tummy, while I typed a 1000-word blog post. Yes, it has been her favourite spot, and no, her sharp claws didn’t bother me. The love she has showered me with, and the trust she has in me, leaves me feeling too overwhelmed to worry about her claws.

With the arrival of Chikki and Bholu, things changed. They are not the quiet sort. They are a curious duo, especially Chikki, and love investigating everything they see around them. Including my laptop. I do manage to type a few sentences, though, but the writing exercise in their presence doesn’t last long. 🙂

It’s a blessing being able to share such quiet moments writing while in the company of our pets. Maybe because they are very understanding, very patient, and most of all, very loving. But, most of all, maybe because they are so inspiring. Their outlook towards life differs from ours, is more deeper than we would like to think, and full of innocence, the kind we rarely find within our human hearts.

#SoulfulSunday

Expedition Happiness

I chanced upon this documentary, Expedition Happiness, on Netflix today. It’s about a couple who sold off all their belongings to set out to travel the world. In a school bus which they turned into a caravan, they along with their dog,  travelled far and wide, to quite a few countries, to experience happiness. The joy of living every moment to its fullest doing things that are completely different from the kind they lived earlier. A life without a fixed schedule.

It looked so appealing to me, especially since I had a dog and loved having him on our travels. And, it set me thinking, how wonderful it would have been, had I done something similar. Maybe, in a little car, I would set out to travel my country along with my Chikoo, who loved car rides, too. Maybe, I too could have worked online, during our breaks, to sustain myself.

But, as those dreams of solo travelling can’t come true now, maybe my Expedition Happiness should be where I am able to live happily, with confidence in myself, and the belief that I am enough. For, try as I might, that feeling of pride and confidence in myself, at times, evades me as I feel myself lacking in something or the other.

It would be happiness for me if I can stand tall, sure of myself and my capabilities, proud of the choices I made, the decisions I took, and the life I lived.

It would be happiness for me if I love myself for the way I have grown over the years. Yes, the love is there, but it sometimes gets eclipsed by the self-doubt, and sometimes by people’s opinions.

It will require efforts if I am to find that happiness, but I need to do it. For myself.

It will need me to keep inspiring myself, loving myself, and accepting myself despite the fact that I might not stand up to someone’s expectations.

Will I find that happiness? Only time can tell.

#SoulfulSunday

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This post is written for #SoulfulSunday, a free writing exercise I participate in along with my friends, Esha Mookerjee and Vinitha Dileep. Do join us every Sunday at 7 pm, for 10 minutes. It feels so good!

Fear. #FictionMonday

“I love this shade of red!” Maya beamed happily as she applied the colour to her lips and pouted for a selfie.

Click..click..she went, clicking selfies on her phone, least bothered by the onlookers. Oblivious to the man standing behind her, carressing her dupatta, she admired herself on her phone camera, turning her face this way and that to get the perfect profile.

Tonight, she would pop the question to Amit, she mused as she smacked her lips after applying another coat of the lipstick. Pouting and winking into the camera, she was lost in thoughts, unmindful of the world around.

Her friend, Ria, was jabbering away about her new boyfriend, and the guy behind her had now shifted his attention to Maya’s hair and was feeling its softness between his grubby fingers, but Maya stood, unheeding, peering into the camera at her painted lips.

Her new job, her new house, Amit…life seemed perfect, she smiled, cheerily.

It was only when a finger brushed against her neck that Maya shrieked and turned around.

The face she saw smiling at her jolted her out of her reverie and she dropped her phone and the lipstick that moments ago had held her attention.

The misshapen face, just inches away from her own, reeked of cheap alcohol and cigarettes. The grimy hand that had played with her dupatta, now reached out to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear, and a deep voice resonated, as if from somewhere far away.

Hey, Maya. How have you been, my darling? Long time, huh! That charming smile is still intact, I see,” he whispered, inching closer.

“And, those lips…ah, strawberry red, luscious, desperate for a kiss! How long has it been since I tasted that sweetness, hmm?” he winked as he touched her arm, his fingers now curling around her wrist.

Her face, which moments ago had been a shade of pink, was now all white.

Her heart fluttered like a caged bird: nervous, scared for its life, desperate for an outlet to fly away to freedom.

But he stood blocking her way, looming large like an evil shadow ready to devour the peace and happiness of her world.

The Amit, whom she had forgotten when she had found her Amit’s warm embrace, stood between her and her freedom.

Would she escape, like the last time, or would she give in?

 

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This post is written for #FictionMonday, hosted by my friend and a talented poet, Vinitha Dileep of Reflections.

This week’s prompt: SHADE

 

 

 

Imagination.

What’s your favourite writing place?

My ideal writing place would be by a window that provides a picturesque view of a river flowing outside, its waves gently lapping the pebbled banks.

Or, maybe a lush garden, with a stream flowing through it, offering the soft background music of the falling water.  

My real life writing place, though, is far removed from this romantic image.

It is my dining table.  Earlier, it was the couch, but after my back started grumbling about the awkward, unfriendly posture I would adopt when I sat down to write, I moved to the dining table and chair.

The height of the table made it uncomfortable, so I placed a pillow on the chair for some elevation and now it’s better. Better suited to my back, which couldn’t have been more happy, or relieved.

A born daydreamer, I often go away on these fantasy trips, where I envision myself sitting in a cozy room at the top of my house; a cute, wooden desk with its many drawers holding my paraphernalia; a window above the desk offering me scenic views of the world outside, inspiring me to write the magical essay that strikes a chord with the reader, or create a painting that sweeps the onlooker off his feet. 

Ah, bliss! Just thinking about it makes me swoon and wish my dreams come true and some day I find myself actually sitting by such a window, writing that dream essay or creating that stunning artwork.

It’s such a blessing, isn’t it, to be able to paint such vivid images in our mind? 

Imagination is such a thing, you are lucky if you can use it to give you company during your lonely, difficult, unhappy moments. Use it, to steal you away from that place of unhappiness to one where you come alive. Use it, to create friends when you have none just when you need one. Use it, to make the world a better place when it’s dark and scary all around. 

If you were to ask me what’s the one thing I wouldn’t be able to live without, I’d say it’s my imagination. It helps me survive life. It helps me find peace within when I need it the most. It helps me see the rainbow amidst the grey. It keeps me going.

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I am late in writing this #SoulfulSunday post. Maybe I could call it the ‘day-after-the SoulfulSunday-post’! 🙂  

 

#SoulfulSunday

 

 

 

Unloading those errant thoughts. #SoulfulSunday

#SoulfulSunday

Sometimes, when I sit down to write–like just now–there are ten things on my mind I would like to write about. But, as I begin to type, I feel all of those thoughts and ideas scurrying in every direction, trying to flee, like an errant child trying to hide after getting caught red-handed.

I wonder what it is about these thoughts. Do they want to be understood, or do they want to baffle me? Life is as it is so complicated, and add to that the complications that arise out of our overactive imagination, things get tough.

There are depressing thoughts, and there are questions that leave me feeling frustrated. Sometimes, there are happy thoughts, and sometimes morose ones. And, in the span of a day, all of these varied feelings and the related thoughts take up all the space in my mind, simultaneously, that thinking straight is a futile exercise.

Today was such a day. It being a Sunday, I thought how nice it would be if I could give my my mind a break, too, from all the stress it had been carrying the past week. But, no. Those thoughts didn’t give me a minute’s respite. I dealt with them as best as I could. I tried drawing, watching TV, listening to music. Nothing worked. And, finally, when I sat down to write it all down what was troubling me, all these thoughts just fled, leaving me staring at the computer screen, blankly, wondering what to write about. The timer had begun and I had to write something.

Thankfully, I ended up typing 267 words!

I feel when we talk about Writer’s Block, we don’t consider the stuff we can actually write about as we battle that Block.

I don’t know if whatever I have written makes sense, but I am glad I managed to write something; get my mind thinking something fruitful instead of wasting away precious energy frustrating over things not working out.

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The above post is a 10-minute free writing exercise that’s a part of #SoulfulSunday–a brainchild of my friend, Esha Mookerjee Dutta. And, I, along with my dear friend, Vinitha Dileep, are following this new concept of stealing 10 minutes from our busy schedules and just writing to give our mind a break from all the chaos around. 

Do join in every Sunday at 7 pm (IST) and get going. There won’t be any editing of the posts we write, and there will be no judgements, either, coz usually, when you just pour down your thoughts on paper, you never look back to edit what you have written, isn’t it?

Flee #FictionMonday

I find it unbearable, the way you hold me in your arms. You stifle me so, the way you grab me by force. I don’t feel loved.  I feel captured. Owned. Not loved. Never loved.

Everything you say, everything you do, reeks of savagery.

When you hold me close, your fingers dig into my back, like claws, your hot breath on my neck, your heart banging within the ribcage as if doing a victory jig in a state of euphoria, celebrating the power you wield over me.

I feel the bile rise in my throat when you give me that look from across the room. I dig in my heels, ensconce myself into my seat and wish I could somehow get stuck to the spot so you won’t be able to coax me to bed.

How can you love someone you fear? Someone you abhor?

Whose mere presence around you unsettles you? Upsets you?

Wonder what I was thinking when I fell for you!

But, I bide my time.

Some day.

Some day, I will escape. Some day, when you are fast asleep the morning after, when you lie dead to the world, your snores echoing in every corner of the house, your mind in a haze, I’ll steal myself from you and vanish.

I will go back to the person I was before.

To the time when I was alive.

Breathing. Smiling. Thriving.

 

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This post has been written for #FictionMonday, hosted by my dear friend, Vinitha DIleep, from Reflections. Do join in and have fun with words!

This week’s prompt: FEAR

 

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