Short Story : “Nothing lasts forever”

If I was sure about one thing in life, it was to teach history at the high school. Certainly, I should have expected better. With teaching came the herculean task of grading the papers. My heart was sinking as I eyed the pile of ungraded answer papers and assignments on my desk.

Pushing the spectacles up my nose, I picked up an answer sheet to value it. In sync with my eyes taking in what the student had scribed, my hands were making rapid red marks on the paper. A swish here, a cross there and some red blotches.

BC and AD.

Before Christ and After Death.

The words repeated throughout the answer caught my attention. Nursing the cup of coffee in my hand, I took a deep breath.

Two simple terms that could break years of history into two parts.

My imagination took flight as I sat rocking in the Mahogany chair.

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My Mind wandered to the two phases of my life.

Before Shyam and After Shyam.

The moment we set eyes on each other, we had felt that we were “Made for each other”.

As the romance blossomed we were “Mad for each other”.

Finally when the card castle of relationship tumbled down, we were “Mad at each other”.

“Nothing lasts forever”, that was the words which came out of Shyam’s lips, the day we parted ways.

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I woke up from my reverie.

Keeping aside the answer sheets, I walked up to the mantel where the album we made together for our first anniversary lie. There was a tug at my heart as I ran my fingers over the pictures. The camera had not just captured the pictures, but also our love and care.

Two happy people genuinely in love stood beaming at each other.

Adoration and love reflected in our eyes.

What had happened to us?

Love had started to grow on us. As schedules clashed and interest waned, we saw less of each other. Long silences crept into the relationship and one day we just gave up.

We just decided to let go of each other. That was the easiest thing to do, escape and let go.

It still hurt and every bit of my heart yearned for the gone days.

I mused whether Shyam would be feeling the same. That very moment revealed to me, how much we needed each other.

By reflex, I took my phone and dialed his number, after a long gap of three years. On the fourth ring, he picked up.

“Hello”, I said with heart beating in my throat.

“Nimisha’, he replied.

As words flowed between us, the wall we built between us crumpled down.

“Nothing lasts forever”, I told him. With so much love for each other, we could not have stayed away for long anyway.

“Yes, we are truly made for each other”, he quipped.

In mind’s eye, I could see him smile. The warm smile which made his eyes twinkle, every time he sees me.

My heart skipped a beat under the glow of his love.

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Smile Please!!

“Smile your special smile”, Sri said.

Special smile? , I wondered.

Yes the one which curls up your lips, make your eyes gleam and your face beam. Smile like that of a kid who has seen candy.

I laughed off his definition of smile, got lost in the moment and forgot all about it.  🙂

And then, few days back, on my way to work, I came across a couple in the metro train. The young bride was new to the city and he was pointing out the landmarks to her. In her eyes, I saw a childish glee and a soft smile played in his lips.

Oh!! , this is that special smile, I thought and I caught myself smiling.  🙂

Another time, while waiting at a restaurant, my eyes sought out a mother and her five year old son, sitting at a corner. The boy was telling her the numbers 1, 2, 3 till 50, that he had learned in school that day and she was listening to his every word. She pointed to a board and the little boy read out the alphabets ‘W’, ‘E’, ‘L’, ‘C’, ‘O’, ‘M’, ‘E’ one by one, and looked up at her with a puzzled expression. She read out “Welcome’ and the boy pronounced it slowly, till he finally got it right after a few tries. I saw the triumphant smile of the boy and a lopsided grin cum content smile of mother.

It was infectious, as I was smiling dreamily too 🙂 Then and there, I began my hobby of observing smiles and believe me, it is real fun.

The shy smile of my roommate when she receives her boy friend’s call, the mischievous smiles of my gang of girls after we pull off a prank on some friend, and then there is the naughty smile of my colleague who hides my cell phone every second hour. I learned that there is more to smile than curving of lips, it says more than what words could ever express. And there are different types of smiles too- the stupid smile, rickety smile, crooked smile, lousy smile, cautious smile, conscious smile, sloppy smile, envious smile and even the sad smile.  🙂

The beauty of each of these smiles is that with every smile comes another smile. It requires neither a context nor reason; it lights up the mood and spreads happiness. No wonder that, when we close our eyes and imagine our loved ones they are always smiling. Our best pictures have a big smile plastered all over our face.  🙂

I think a smile is so much a part of our identity, just like our personality. We have our own unique ways of smiling. Perhaps, different smiles each reflective of what we are feeling and what we want to express. If face is the mirror of our mind, then smile is definitely the door to our heart.  🙂

Smile often, may be a little more than often. After all, it’s a curve that can set a lot of things straight.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Everyone is a Winner! P.S: Life is not a race

Most of our perspectives about life are strongly rooted to the conditioning by society. One such perspective is that life is a race, a mad rat race, with the winner being judged as the best. Wherever we turn, situations seem to tell us that it is indeed a race, coming in different hues and colours. Science says it through Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest theory’. History tells about all the wars that we fought for supremacy and power. Even in sports, all the matches’ ends with a winner.

It is no wonder that the whole of life time seems like a big competition, considering that the germination of life in itself begins with the triumph of a spermatozoon which beats all other sperm cells to fertilise the ovum. As we grow up, the struggle to outperform others builds momentum through our education system centred on performance in examinations and assignments, and continues through the mad chase to get a job. Next on line is the marriage championship with the ultimate quest to find the most eligible spouse in the world. The cycle takes a full circle, as the competitive genes pass downs to another generation. The battle goes on and on.

Perhaps it could be the sheer need to prove ourselves that we tend to consider everything that we do is yet another conquest in life. Heroes in movies say “I feel like the king of the world”, advertisements offer “Paradises on earth” and we are often caught by the bait of “Living life king size”. Sometimes, it makes me think whether we all are really happy because we achieved something or we want to prove that we are capable of achieving in front of the world. Sometimes, we have just posted about our recent success in Facebook and is waiting for comments to flow in, there comes a pop up that our friend (in this case, a competitor in the race) has achieved something better. Thereafter no matter how many comments congratulating you come, we forget our current achievement and go in pursuit of another one. It may be because success is mostly defined in terms of comparisons with the success of similar people in similar circle. We are obsessed with being the best of all, and easy measure for it, have always been benchmarking against our peers, instead of our own satisfaction.

For the firm believers of “life is a race” concept, I would like to see it in a different light. In my perspective, we should see life as a “marathon”, rather than a rat race. Life is all about performing consistently, finding our own personal best, benchmarking our past achievements and striving to outperform ourselves. Much like in a marathon, it would require us to run at a steady pace, rather than get burnt out at the end of a rat race. We all are winners, if we can discover our unique best, nurture it and in the process enjoying every moment of it.

Wish vs. Got: Why we should move on!!

Most of the people have one common story to tell other than the goodness of their mom’s cooking. Yes, the tale of wishing for something, not getting it and having to satisfy with something else. The story of losing, longing and living a “second best life”, while what we always wished for keeps tugging at our heart.

It could be the wish to study something, make it big in your chosen career or winning a heart. We keep dreaming about it, visualise it coming true and float in the happiness that you get from the mere thought that the wish materialise. And one day, the bubble breaks. The card castle that we built have come crashing down and we are stranded, unable to bear the crushing weight on our heart.

Added to the agony of a failed wish comes the herculean task of adjusting to the new life, and moving on is never as easy as it seems to be. If we have put all our heart, mind, efforts and hope into something and we do not get it, we are too shaken to see the reasoning behind why we should move on. It’s like our life has been paused. We see people moving around, smiling, having fun and feel isolated, rather disconnected from all the “life” that surrounds us.

However, after a point, our desolate mind tends to believe it’s our destiny and blame it on our luck. Though we are writers of our own destiny, what we tend to ignore is that, it is okay to make mistakes in life.  More than what education can give in our lives, experience gives us and the learning we get is enormous.

Once a teacher in my high school class, scribbled in my slam book-“It is okay to fall down, but the real courage is in getting up, brushing your knees and keep running”. I do not remember anything that she taught, but these words remain etched in my heart.

I strongly believe that moving on is not about giving up your dream; it’s about deriving energy from your setbacks. There is nothing in life called a failure, as everything is worth a try.

Never regret anything that you did, but regret all the things that you did not do and resulted in your being in the position. Make the best out of what you have got and scale up to achieve all that you ever wished for.

Everything is for the good and good things come to those who try.

A dream, a tale of winning and losing

Every once in a while, I come to crossroads in life faced with lot of choices and not knowing what to do. I take a deep breath, and find solace in these words from Alchemist.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Then, a seed of thought is sown in my mind and a dream is born. I nurture it with my ambitions and convictions. It starts to grow past the boundaries and up towards the sky. It becomes so much a part of me, yet may seem very surreal.

One fine morning, a dream to pursue my passion took birth in me. A dream to follow my heart, live the life I wanted and the way I decide it would be. But, with every step towards my dream, I found something pulling me back. It took me a while to realise that restraining factor is not external, but the inherent fear of changing my current way of life and stepping out of comfort zone.

The fear stemmed from my belief that to gain something in life, I would have to lose something. The fear of losing something was scary, that my life came to a standstill. I could achieve my dream, but at the end of it, what if I have to leave behind someone I love, some relationships I value, some beliefs and value systems or my own past achievements.

I was caught up in a dilemma and the question which tormented my heart was whether dreams always come at a cost. For once, I decide to take a chance. I turned a deaf ear to what my brain told me and my heart took over the reins of my life.

Today, I am living my dream. And I have an answer to all who ask the cost of a dream. Yes, all dreams are tales of winning and losing. I won a life I always wanted to have, but in the process I have lost something. I have lost my fear, inhibitions and the barriers that I put up around my life. I opened the windows to my heart, my mind was filled with brightness and the power of a dream has given wings to my life.

India’s development saga vs. BPL: Who are we kidding?

India’s journey towards development is much like the fairy tale of Vikramaditya and Betaal. Destination seems inches away from reach, but the path seems to get rickety by the day. Five years plans came and went, LPG became a topic for group discussion, fiftieth Independence Day was celebrated with pomp and vision 2020 became every Indians dream, thanks to our President APJ Abdul Kalam. Sixty years later, we are still a developing country, now fondly called an emerging economy.

If figures are testimonials of growth, India has more to its kitty than its population of 1.2 billion, as it is the ninth largest in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). But on the flip side, we are ranked 119th in Human Development Index with 41% of the people living below the poverty line.  With a BPL set at Rs.31 in urban areas and Rs.25 in rural areas, Indian Government can hide behind the economic growth rates, but would India be able to justify the BPL cap set.

The definition of people under the poverty line, who are entitled to subsidized food and energy supplies, have varied from time to time, based on the governments, state legislatures and planning commissions. However, it was never been able to fathom the exact level of poverty that actually exists, with more than half a billion people living in horrendous conditions.

Mankind has moved long way ahead from the dreams of “Roti, Kapada aur Makaan” and “Bijli, Sadak aur Pani” has become passé. However, the BPL revised in 2011 is based on a survey conducted in 2002, with respect to a person’s private expenditure on food, education and health. No wonder, the BPL lines are dubbed as starvation lines.

The former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt rightly said: “The unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power. The plans that build from the bottom up and not from the top down and  that which put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

As we recover from one recession and head into another, let us remember that holistic and sustained development would be the only key to India’s success. It would require consistent and focused effort in socioeconomic development by taking the “common man” up in the economic pyramid. This would happen only with the realization that economic growth is merely a single aspect of the process of economic development and that it has several dimensions including standard of living, human capital, infrastructure development, sustainable environment, social equality, health, literacy, etc.

All said and done, the question remains whether India is set to be a developed country and economic super power by 2020. Ten years from now could be an unrealistic target if economic development has to be achieved in its true sense, but better late than never.

Who is man’s best friend?

Who is man’s best friend?

Did I hear you say a dog? At least that is what half of the one billion population think of, thanks to the cliché dialogue etched in our hearts.Now who is really man’s best friend? I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Have you thought about it?

Its time you stop counting your friends. I am not talking about “Ramu, Shamu, Damu and all”. I am talking about the things with which we are spending more time with. Do we not spent more time with TV, iPod, laptop and internet in the forms of orkut, twitter, Facebook, sms, emails, pings than a friendly open chat with your best friend?

And in spite of all these connectivity and networking we are not able to sustain some relations.

You were a great gang, inseparable teams, best buddies!!  You vowed to each other to be together no matter what happens! The last day of your school and college did you say “keep in touch”, because I have done that and all that is left of it for me is an inbox clogging with forwards, custom-made scraps and same dry messages on New Year, Christmas and Friendship day. At times all of my friends sent me the same message that I can’t but help smiling at the creator of the message and smile.

My happiness seeking mind finds relief now in the forwarded messages by thinking that whether it was forwarded or not, someone thought of wishing me and I feel special. I will think I have to do something special for them and find out excuse after excuse to postpone it.

Am I that busy? I would be lying if I say “Yes, I am busy”. The excuses that I find are not because I do not want to do something for friends. But because I want to avoid confronting the reality of spending some time alone trying to sort out emotions and feelings. Lately I spent some time picking cards, wrapping gifts and choosing books for friends. The happiness that flooded me is beyond words. I closed my eyes trying to visualize how happy the receiver would be and it made my day. No expectations and no returns.

The best day in life is when you see your loved ones happy. Aah!! Don’t blush girls and don’t puff up your muscles boys. I am not talking about love of your life. I am talking about all those who you love and who loves you. The pleasure of choosing a gift for a friend, taking all the time and poring your head about “will she like it or not?”, seeing your close friend falling in love, thinking about your best buddy taking cooking lessons for her married life, wondering about my best friends discovering life in their work places and to feel that special moment of connection which are beyond words, distance and the burgeoning technology.

Coming a full circle, my question echoes “Who is man’s best friend?”

I would say that “Google” is man’s best friend.You have any query you Google it: your needs, doubt and even to find out your love percentage. Strange is it not? Some things which you could simply ask, discuss and enjoy figuring out , you type it in Google like,

“How to make friends?”

“How to fall in love?”

“How to impress girlfriend?”,

when all you need to do is look into yourself, search within and it is there nestled within you. You know it. You know exactly how to go about things if you just open your heart and embrace life for all that it is worth of.

Let the sweetness of love fill your heart and the fragrance of life titillate your senses, because that is what I did and it makes a huge difference to our life worth a thousand smiles.