Pandemic and the Anxiety.

There’s fear in the air as we see history repeat itself. 2021 feels like an extension of 2020, but with some extra dose of crisis thrown in for some added effect. Don’t you think?

Today, as I spoke with a friend, she shared how her sister was reeling from anxiety thanks to the absence of any activity to occupy her mind.

Our mind doesn’t need much to go off on a tour, isn’t it? All it needs is emptiness, ennui, a little bit of imagination, and it’s good to go!

Negativity is the first feeling it brings along with it from its visits to places far and wide. Negativity, that is followed by fear, anxiety and panic. 

Those who busy themselves in some activity are blessed, if they fail to see it. However purposeless they might feel, the activities they indulge in keep them busy, keep their mind busy, which saves them from a lot of mental agony.

Last year, when my anxiety was at its peak, I started making detailed ink artworks in a bid to keep the anxious thoughts at bay. It took me hours to complete the drawings at the end of which I felt happy and peaceful. I guess my mind, too, delighted in this feeling because every morning, when I woke up, the first thought that came to mind was, what drawing do I make today? 

I am thankful for my art. It has kept me sane. It has seen me through some really tough times and helped me stay afloat. There is something magical about it, about the tools I use to create the artworks—the paints, the pencils, the colours, the designs—that infuse me with the calmness and the pleasure that makes me want to wake up and tackle the day as it unfolds. 

The thoughts that come to my mind as I work on the household chores are, which patterns do I draw in a particular artwork, which colours will suit the design and when do I sit down to work on it.

Yes, there is anxiety, too, lurking around the corners, waiting to pounce on me and swallow me. And, I have friends who cheer me along as I fight this battle with my anxiety, but there are days when it does get the better of me. However, when I bring out my art books and supplies, the anxiety is replaced with calmness and I feel myself come alive. 

If someone were to ask me the one thing that I wouldn’t live without, I would pick art. I would survive without people around me—I did, last year!—but, without my art, I would die every second. My anxiety would attack me with a vengeance and I would be left without an ally to help me fight it. Maybe that’s why my parents named me Shilpa, a work of art.

No, I am not a work of art, but art does work for me! 😛

How about you? How have you been dealing with your anxiety? 

#SoulfulSunday

The above post is written for #SoulfulSunday. It’s a writing exercise I work on along with my friends Vinitha, Esha and Anamika, to keep our writing muscles active. Do join in. 

 

Mommy.

She ambles along, a smile on her face that glows with the happiness that is growing inside her belly. She rests a hand on her baby bump and supports her back with the other as she walks along the garden, watching the kids play. Dreaming, perhaps, of the day when she will be here along with her little one.

Will it be a girl or a boy? I wonder as I catch sight of her, lost in thoughts about the impending arrival of her bundle of joy.

I hope it’s a girl, I smile as my thoughts wander away. A memory comes rushing to my mind and I am lost in the past.

A car. A man. His wife. Chatting. Laughing. Giggling like two teenagers in love. The woman’s hands cradling her belly. The man’s hands holding the steering wheel. The radio playing their favourite song. The man and his wife now holding hands and singing along. A truck. A collision. Silence.

I am jolted back to the present and look around, my eyes searching the woman, hoping she is fine. I spot her, staring at a bright pink candy floss, her eyes, animated, her smile like a little girl.

Someday, we will have this together! I imagine her saying it to the life inside of her.

I look down at my own belly, its flatness crushing my heart. But, the tears don’t fall anymore. It’s not going to happen, ever. There won’t be a baby. There won’t be a baby bump.

I get up to leave. I have had my fill for the day. I turn around one last time to check on her and see her leaving, too.

Until we meet again, I whisper and walk away.

 

**********************

Today’s word prompt: PREGNANT: WritersWrite

Needs versus Wants. #SoulfulSunday

A year ago, life changed for the denizens of this planet. Life, as we knew it, came to a standstill, thanks to a virus that threatened to wipe out the smile from every face on earth. We were forced into our homes, advised to stay indoors, come what may, and learn to adjust to the new locked down lifestyle. 

I remember the night when the lockdown was announced last year, hubby came home late, armed with a few bags full of all that we could possibly need during our confinement. Things that were, actually, what we would want to make life easier, than we would need. 

There was SO much of it, we lived those months busying ourselves enjoying stuff that could have really helped those in need. Well, we did have the money so we got all that we wanted. Wants mattered then. Wants that were addressed to keep the smiles on our faces even during the darkness.

Today, a year later, things haven’t changed much. The pandemic is still around, as is the virus in its new avatar and the havoc it wreaks on us. A partial lockdown was announced last week, which meant we were not allowed to step outdoors in the evenings, and on weekends.

Again, we prepared to store things that we might not find lest rules became stricter. However, this time, something had changed. Life that had begun changing last year, had changed us along with it. Our thinking, our living, our earning and our spending. All of it had—has—changed.

We have reached a space where spending on wants is looked down upon. Spending on needs is the trend we follow. 

Thanks to the difficulties last year brought to our doorstep, we now know the difference between wants and needs, and vote for ‘needs’, any day. Oh, and how our needs have reduced! We realise how less we really need to survive. 

We now look at what we have, and plan accordingly if and what we need. And, although initially it did seem a bit tough to deal with, this difference between needs and wants showed us how simple life really is and how happy we can be, living simply. How we had been complicating life with stuff we didn’t need, cluttering our homes and our minds with things that were superfluous. 

Yes, money in the pockets is less than earlier, but there is contentment in the heart when we see the few things that we need to survive. Contentment and gratitude for those few things that God has provided. Things that don’t weigh much on the pocket, nor take a lot of physical space. 

Earlier, when we made a list of things we had, the material possessions blinded us to things that really mattered. Now, when we make a list of things we have, God’s blessings figure on the top and we are satisfied. Well, we have His blessings, what more could we ask for!? 

He has blessed us with a new perspective towards life that makes life a lot easier to decipher. He has blessed us with some truly wonderful, loving souls for friends and family. And, He has blessed us with the precious knowledge about spending the short time we have here being good to everyone, doing things that give us true happiness

Really, what more could we want? No. What more could we need? 

#SoulfulSunday

This post has been written for #SoulfulSunday. It’s a weekly writing exercise that I have been working on along with my friends, Esha and Vinitha. 

Taken.

What’s that red dot on your forehead? he asks in his American accent, the kind I have heard in movies from Hollywood that I watched late in the night, when Ma and Baba slept.

That’s called the Bindi. It’s make-up. Or, you could call it an accessory, too. Most Indian women wear it. I supply the information to this curious firang. Is he really keen on knowing about India and the Indian way of life? I am not sure.

Okay, but what’s its significance? he persists.

It means I am “taken”. I reply with the air quotes. 

Taken? he asks, visibly amused. 

Yes, taken, as in married, hitched.  I reply with a hint of irritation. 

Am I annoying you? He looks concerned. He has such beautiful blue eyes that express his anxiety. Ah, when was the last time my husband showed any concern to my feelings? 

No, it’s okay. You aren’t annoying me, Jake. It’s just that… 

What is it? He quickly asks, but realises his mistake and looks away, embarrassed. He knows his boundaries. How refreshing! Most men never know when they are crossing their limits. 

Sigh. If only that red dot didn’t mean anything, I would have been with Jake, talking the night away, sharing my feelings about stuff I keep hidden inside my heart, sharing my dreams for myself, maybe sharing something more. 

Jake is that kind of a man. So unlike all the others I have known. So unlike the one who retains the red dot he applied to my forehead.

*****

Today’s post is for yesterday’s word prompt: DOT, from Writerswrite.

 

 

 

 

Where do you feel most secure? #SoulfulSunday

Last week, someone on Twitter asked a question:

If you are thrown into a room with all the people you have ever met, who would you look for first, and why?

I replied I would look for my mom and my pet dog (if he could return from Heaven). 

The reason is simple: I have felt safest with these two souls. Period.

With mom, as with Chikoo, there has never been any insecurity, any complications, any judgements, or the need to explain myself. Both these people (yes, Chikoo is a person) have loved me unconditionally, accepted me the way I am, with all of my short-comings, my idiosyncrasies, my annoying behaviour, every flaw of mine that others might not put up with.

Also, I have never felt ‘fear’ lurking around the corner when in the company of mom, or Chikoo. I’ve never worried about something going wrong because I knew that if anything does go wrong, then we would get through it together.   I have had the freedom of speaking my mind without having to filter my words. I have known that if I ever err in life, then I won’t be ridiculed or reprimanded, but enveloped in their warm hug and asked to take a second chance to rectify those errors.

Oh, and there’s also been no worries about either one of these gossiping about me! 😀 They have never done that. They have always believed in saying things to my face. Told me what a supreme idiot I am and how I need to change my ways!

And, most important of all, I have always been myself with these two souls. I couldn’t imagine trying to put up a facade with either of these because one of them is my mother – the one who gave birth to me and knows me inside out – and the other is a dog, who knows humans better than humans know themselves! Dogs can smell our characteristic traits, even the ones we try to hide under the garb of perfectionism. 

So, there you go! These are the two people I would look for. Aren’t they the perfect choice?

What about you? Whom would you look for?

 

#SoulfulSunday

The above post has been written for #SoulfulSunday, a writing exercise that I work on along with my friends, Esha and Vinitha. 

The price of staying mum.

You know the old man on your bus has a twisted mind, when he rubs his thigh against yours and then says it was just a harmless mistake, and that you are just like his daughter.

So, just flush out that filth from your mind, young lady! he retorts as you get up and walk away to find another seat. 

Kids these day! He complains, aloud, hoping someone will take his side, and then turns to look at you as he licks his lips.

You wish you had the guts to walk up to him, lift him off his seat and push him out of the bus. It’s been so long since you have been putting up with the torture. 

What is it with these old men! You seethe, inwardly. But you hate yourself for lacking the courage to speak out.

If only mom had taught me to stand up for myself, or bash up those perverts. If only she hadn’t shushed me because I am a girl and a girl should never raise her voice. If only she hadn’t said that men will be men and it’s best to ignore them and their stupidity. 

You shrink away from his gaze that seems to undress you. You recoil from the very look in his eyes and hope and pray you reach home safe, in one piece, with your dignity still intact. 

Tomorrow. I will do it tomorrow, for sure. You promise yourself as you count the minutes when you will reach your destination and another day will come to an end. 

********************

Today’s prompt: Twisted: Writerswrite

 

Croaky.

The frog was special. Gifted, actually. Very unlike any other frog on earth. I knew it the moment I saw it lining the dead flies in a neat row. 

I hadn’t noticed it earlier, but one fine day, on my morning walk, it took me by surprise as it jumped out of the bushes and landed right in front of me. Green, slimy and ugly, I didn’t find it the least bit appealing. But the way it jumped and then stopped to look up at me, and then sat right there, like a puppy eagerly asking one to play with, I knew it wasn’t your usual frog.

I crouched down to take a closer look at the little guy and as I did so, it flipped over, onto its back, its legs up in the air, and croaked, as if asking for a belly rub! 

Stunned and amused, I reached over and tickled its tummy with my finger. I didn’t even feel disgust as I would otherwise have felt  in such a situation. In fact, I was amazed by what was happening in front of me. I mean, here was a frog who was behaving so unlike frogs, so like a puppy, as if within it beat the heart of a canine!

And, just like a canine does, the frog wriggled around when I tickled it, as if enjoying it, loving being touched.

Surprisingly, I chuckled—something I hadn’t done in ages—and spread out my palm, inviting the slimy little fellow for a ride to wherever it wished to go.

It hopped onto my palm and turned around to wink at me. I winked back at it as if we had just shared a private joke.

I was ecstatic! Finally, after months, I had someone here with whom I had bonded just like that! When was the last time I had interacted with someone, connected with someone, touched someone?

I took it home and decided he would live with me. Such miracles don’t happen everyday, do they?

Once home, I set out to make it comfortable. The empty fish tank would be its home and a miniature tea set, its crockery.

Next, I brought out a packet of cereal to feed the tiny thing, but then realised that it might not find the taste appealing. I never did. 

So out I went into my little garden to look for insects and found some flies buzzing around the decaying apples I had discarded last night. 

I managed to catch a few, brought them home to the waiting frog and deposited them in front of it. It looked at the flies, then looked up at me with something that resembled a smile and then, as if it knew its manners, picked the flies and lay them in a row. Then, one by one, it picked up the insects, placed them on its tongue and gobbled them up. And finally, with a satisfied burp, it patted its tummy to show it was full and then lay down for a nap. 

 I knew I had done the right thing by bringing it home. With not a soul around since more than a year, thanks to the virus, living alone had taken its toll on me. Croaky—yes, I christened it while it slept like most babies do—would now be my world and we would live happily, ever after. 

*******************

Today’s word prompt: Gifted: from Writerswrite. 

The lady of the house

She stands in the doorway of her newly renovated bedroom. Her heeled feet apart, her hands on her hips, her neck bent to her right, the way she always does when studying something, inspecting something, her eyes narrowed, focusing on the tiled floor, her lips pursed. There’s a sharp intake of breath as she finally spots it.

She moves towards it, slow, noiseless, like a cat closing in on its prey. The mason stands a few feet away, his breath stuck in his throat, his eyes following her every move, right till the moment she stops in front of it. 

Oh dear god! Why didn’t I think of hiding it under a chair? 

He moves forward, his heart thumping, his mind thinking of an excuse that she will find believable. 

Why aren’t these tiles in alignment? she asks, her tone, icy. He feels the chill and braces himself. 

They had tried all they could, but they couldn’t cover it up. 

It’s just a tiny tile out of place, boss. The lady won’t even notice! his men had convinced him.

But, the lady had noticed it in just two seconds and now he would have to pay. Dearly.

He knew what the punishment would be.

Pull out every tile in the bedroom—all the four bedrooms— and the passage, right up to the hallway and the kitchen, and then lay them all back in. Without a single error. And, at no extra cost. 

 

**************

Word prompt: Alignment: Writers Write

 

Finding oneself. #SoulfulSunday

You only have to find yourself. Everything else, you can Google.”

I came across this quote this morning. It set me thinking, nay wondering, how the Universe knew this is what I have been pondering since some time now!

But, the Universe does that, you know, to wake us up from our slumber, to nudge us towards the right path, the one that will help us discover ourselves and learn something important about our life, to strive to become better versions of ourselves, to use the time we have been given here to the best of our ability.

I am a firm believer of the fact that the Universe communicates with us all the time. 

Sometimes, its messages come like a bolt from the blue, when we are least expecting it, sometimes subtly, too, like whispers that come riding on the cool, evening breeze, and sometimes through signs that come to us precisely when we need them. 

If we notice these signs, take the messages seriously, well and good. If we don’t, it’s our loss. 

Usually, we are too occupied, too ignorant to notice the signs, listen to the messages, pay heed. That’s how we lose so many golden opportunities, make stupid mistakes and lousy choices and land up in a mess we find tough to get out of.

I can imagine the Universe shaking its head, sympathetically, sadly, like a mother who is left disheartened because of the ways in which her children err. 

But, on the rare occasions that we do pay heed to its advice, I am sure the Universe rejoices. 

All the answers we have been searching, all the things that work out for us, all the problems that get solved easily, all the baseless fears that haunt us but which get nipped in the bud—these are all signs that the Universe is glad we paid heed to its messages and took the right steps, made the right decisions.

And, it’s at such moments that we find ourselves. Find the purpose of our life. Find the things we are meant to do in this life because those are the things that give us true happiness, the intuition that, yes, this is what I was meant to do!

So, let’s keep our eyes and our ears wide open. Let’s be alert for the signs that the Universe sends our way and let’s grab those signs, understand them and follow the advice that comes straight from the Universe—the one that truly cares for us, about us.

For, in those signs are hidden answers to our questions. We will know it, intuitively, for that’s how the Universe communicates. 🙂

 

#SoulfulSunday

This post is a writing exercise that I, along with my friends, Esha and Vinitha follow every Sunday. A 10 minute (or more) writing exercise wheh we write whatever comes to our mind. An exercise that gets our mind working, our fingers moving.

 

People in our life. #SoulfulSunday

The blank screen gazes at me, as if awaiting my command. My fingers hover over the keyboard, ready to click on the keys I instruct them to as my mind tries to grasp a wayward thought and turn it into a blog post. 

Sadly, no luck. 

I look back at the blank screen and wonder how long before I will be able to type something…anything…that makes sense.

***
Ah, yes, finally, here’s one thought that popped into my head just now. I won’t let it go.

So last night, as hubby and I sat in bed, talking about life, we remembered my mother-in-law and began discussing her. How terrible it would have been had she been around these past 2 – 3 years, when the life we painstakingly built over the past 20 years got destroyed. How her condition would have worsened if she would have had to experience this past pandemic year. After about fifteen minutes of our discussion, we agreed that she was happy up there instead of down here, so thank you, God! 

A while later, when I was deep into slumberland, she visited me in my dreams. As I knew she would. 

I was always scared of her. She being my MIL, I felt intimidated by her. On top of that, her illness made her do and say stuff that made me nervous. My fear of her didn’t let me live in peace for almost seventeen years and I was forever jumpy around her. 

It’s been more than five years since she passed away, but she often visits me in my dreams. I just have to look at her photograph, or talk about her, and there, she is in my dreams. And, there, too, I live in fear for she is around. Something or the other goes wrong and I am at my wits’ end trying to sort things out. I am such a mess even in my dreams!

So last night, I saw her amidst us, suffering from the dreaded Covid. Her doctor refused to come, take a look at her despite my pleading. It was all very disturbing and maybe that’s why, I found myself awake every now and then.

I woke up tired this morning and have been since feeling so sleepy, I could fall asleep in a second if someone gave me the permission to do so. But there are chores that demand my attention, and this post that needs to be completed.

So, I ponder this state of mind and wonder how a person—alive or dead—can have such an effect on us that we forget about ourselves and give them space in every cell of our being even when we are so disturbed by their presence.

I don’t mean to offend her, but it’s a fact that I was frightened of her and her illness. Especially her illness. That was the culprit. Maybe if it hadn’t been there to ruin her life, she and I would have shared a warm relationship. 

Sounds so perfect, no?

But, life isn’t as perfect as we wish it to be, and so we must learn to live with our fears—of life, things and people. Learn to live with the ghosts that haunt us and the fears that take the joy out of our life. Maybe we have something to learn from it all. Yes, maybe I was supposed to learn from it all—that’s what I tell myself, that’s how I comfort myself. 

Or, maybe it’s something to do with our past lives, where I might have troubled her with my presence. 

Is that an over-imaginative mind at work? I wonder.

#SoulfulSunday

The above post has been written for #SoulfulSunday. I am late by a day, but I am glad I kept this date with my blog, and with my friends, Esha and Vinitha. 

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started