The Courage to Ask, to Seek

“Looking at you,mom”, said my daughter, “I have learned that there is nothing wrong in asking for help”.

My eyes filled with tears as I heard her say these words. It’s has not been long since I got over my shyness to ask, to ask for help, even financial help, to ask for suggestions, to ask for ideas, to ask for directions, to seek friendships, to seek company…yes, I have learnt to ask the hard way and I don’t regret it one bit.

This year has been one of the most trying and testing times of my life, not getting paid for work done for a long period was seriously damaging my nerves, my confidence, my equilibrium and every thing else.

I thought of talking to my friends but haven’t I been a crib box for too long now, I wondered.

I sat up during the night almost every day trying to figure out what to sell, whom to approach, should I ask my father again, haven’t I done that enough?

I looked around at the few steel utensils and regretted that they will fetch nothing in the market. I laughed at own ingenuity.

Luckily whatever gold ornaments, my parents had given me were kept safely away from me!

I was almost becoming neurotic when I decided to do what is best to be done. To focus my energies on writing, on training, on meeting people, on doing anything that kept me sane away from prying worries.

The efforts bore fruit when an article I wrote got published in ‘The Better India’

http://www.thebetterindia.com/99764/vinayak-gajendragad-entrepreneur-astitva-naturals/

I knew the universe was looking out for me. Having come this far I said, what fear.The plan B of winding up everything and landing at my parents doorstep was a viable option.

There would be someone out there who would help me get through this, I waited for opportunities with my fingers crossed.

In the meanwhile I was also applying left,right and centre to any job, any part of the world.

Then I decided to check with my former employers and contacted one of them. They said, yes of course, we want you back, I was relieved but not fully because the interim period needed me to fulfill my financial commitments.

I approached 2 of my relatives after a serious session of ‘inky pinky ponkey, father had a donkey’ stuff and put the matter in front of them. “I will help you out, I know what you have been through”, said one “Could I transfer double of what you had asked for?I guess you need it.” asked another young fellow as if reading my mind.

I couldn’t have been more blessed to have people who respond positively to a request. I remembered how I had opened up my purse for a friend of mine, was I the receiver of the benefits of good karma or was it mere providence? I wouldn’t know.

Needless to say, when I  joined the new work place and received my first salary, my burden had eased considerably. I was in a happier space. Most importantly, I felt blessed.

My father said, ” You should not have asked others”, I didn’t reply. I knew I had done the right thing.

I am not ashamed of asking for help,yes, even financial help. And I would not be bitter if refused help. Again, it is definitely not a pattern.

A friend of mine said, ” You should have told me. I keep aside money every month for my lord Shiva. I would have happily given it to you.”

Are there difficulties in life? Yes. But are there joys, Yes, many more than the sorrows or the disappointments,shining brightly in comparison to the harshness that life offers.

It’s mixed plate, life, that is. True riches in life are experiences that prove your faith in yourself and those around you.

When in difficulty, trust the universe and reach out. There’s definitely a hand or two out there ready to hold you.

So go on,  trust yourself , forge ahead, dream your life and watch the universe fulfill your wishes.

Knocking at the door

Who could that be

knocking at the door

breaking the silence

I walled myself in?

Who could that be

knocking at the door

tireless aching hands

a willful heart?

 

Who could that be

knocking at the door

wearing a smile, a bait

or lending a hand for real?

 

Who could that be

knocking at door

an answer to the prayers

or an indictment of deeds past?

Who could that be

knocking at the door

holding the flag aloft

bearing a loving heart?

Perhaps it’s him

who promised to come!

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty

amidst interesting story telling lines

(They call them wrinkles)

criss-crossing

in long boat like shapes

they smiled at me- the eyes

I looked back

eager to make the right impression

but like every other time

I shuffled

stuck a finger up my nose

scratched my chin

furrowed my forehead

and mumbled ‘hello’

bright,small and blue

the eyes looked calm, intent

and then shut off

as if to obliterate me

I worked up anger

whiffed up cuss words

when they opened again

and laughed at me loud

I fell in line

we laughed together.

 

And we build their homes

I pitched a tent

on a vacant plot

and waited

and waited

no one appeared

not a single soul

days went by

months went by

I flourished in the tent

I thought it mine

I swept it clean

I pasted broken pieces of marble tiles

at the entrance to make it like home

It was good, we felt at home

All five of us

Me, my wife and our children

My little girl brought more marble pieces of yellow

The boys brought red, green and a shade of mauve

They stuck it well, laughing as they did it

While she and I worked at carrying bricks

Up and then mortar and then much more.

We slept happy with pieces of  marbles tiles at our entrance

Which was also our whole home

Then my girl brought home a small hibiscus plant

And my wife helped her grow with her children

“We are now six”, she said happily

When a little cat wandered in

My wife cried “oh, great we are now seven”

And she said how seven was a great number

Her father was seven when he got his first job

Cleaning toilets at the masters home

“And it was good enough for all of us

We had enough to eat and drink”

It was by then, all done,the home

Their home, outside which we had ours

Now they will move in

And we have to move out

To where they build new homes

So that we can pitch our tent outside

So that she and I can carry bricks, mortar and much more

She said, half jokingly,

“I like my home just near my work place

besides which construction labour ever got a nanny?”

Our children will now make it better

The piece of land where I will pitch my tent,our home

Till the work is done and then we move on

I know sometimes climbing up and down

I might just not return

Well, I know her well,my wife

She will pitch the tent, make a home and feed my children

Perhaps a new man will join her, perhaps not.

 

Who could I be?

Who could I be

asked the boy tip-toeing to the sky

the showers, the rainbow and the storm answered his question.

who could I be

asked the child curious carefree to the waters

the rivers, the sea and the stream shared the water.

who could I be

asked the girl to the fire power

a candle light, the moonlight or the sun said the fire.

who could I be

asked the woman wrinkled wasted

the fire, the waters or the sky, was the reply.

A heavy rock of sadness sits

A heavy rock of sadness sits

placing herself comfortably

in the myth of happy existence

peeping from behind the scene

tearing in through the pores

breaking sometimes into a stream

running its course to its end

searching perhaps a different end.

Asking, seeking on its outward bound

a mask of happy rainbow paper wall

separates the rock from the reality.

Yet it tears and yearns

and reaches forward to

what is not and will never be.

 

The Greatest Love of All

Shruti is a  young 26 year old who is a dancer, a speaker and a leader in her own right is on a mission to change the way the Indian child speaks. Speech according to her is all empowering. By learning to express themselves well, these children no matter where they come from, what they do have a future as bright as it can be. “I want to make a difference to the government schools in our country. The students in those schools are the ones who need to be trained.What a difference it will make to their lives,” she falls silent, her bright eyes reflecting her brighter ideas to influence for the better.

Kalai is a 26 year old stays in the girls hostel of a college. She is a physical instructor. Hailing from Tamil Nadu now working in Bangalore, the girl is a recent aspirant to crack the Karnataka Administrative Services exam. She is working hard at it. She told me of how her brother who is a reporter in Kadalur, Tamil Nadu introduced her to the dream. His faith in her is her belief. “I will crack it mam”, says she, “I am very confident. My English is not so good, I can’t recollect all these years but I will surely clear the test next year.” She has been dissuaded by friends and colleagues who told her to give up the efforts as the exam is not too easy but she is a tough nut and with oodles of self-belief that remains unshaken. Cheers to her dreams!!!

A young man not more than 25 is up at 5.30 am. He is in the process of getting a driving licence for 2 and 4 wheelers. “It has become expensive these days”, he says “but soon I am going to have my own bike and car so I better not delay.” Siddrappa is also a dancer. He practices difficult dance moves on the ground adjacent to the hostel where is he put up as a warden for college boys. In the mornings you can see him doing somersaults and stretch exercises, some weird body shakes in the name of dance on the open ground near his hostel. ” I am learning western dance. I am looking for an entrance into one of those TV shows. Then there is no looking back”, he smiles confidently.

Married and on the verge of divorce, having endured and put an end to a torturous marriage, young Nuzha is dreaming of cracking a government exam. She is often haunted by the dreams of a child she was forced to abort due to her husband’s indifference. “Sometimes I think, I am here for a reason. I might just have been another wife regretting my marriage but god’s will has brought me to this city. I will surely get placed in a good college and will simultaneously prepare for administrative exams. I am sure I will clear it.”

Says Ayesh, “My father is very adamant. He has asked me to get married only after my PhD, that’s his only condition. It does not matter to him who I marry. Since theirs is a love marriage, I often tease them that I should have eloped with some one by now to keep up the family tradition!” She has no plans to ‘settle’ immediately. I will work to raise up in the hierarchy of college teaching, then will think of marriage. “What’s the big hurry, any ways”, she asks casually.

Confident voices of confident young people from across the country from Bengaluru, to Tamil Nadu to Kolkata to far off Chikmangalur…. surely doom’s day is not yet so near, surely it’s a good time to be living….

“I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”

I guess this is what the youngsters are singing in tune with Whitney Houston. And the universe propels its forces to be with those who dare to dream!!!