Part of our Fellowship’s zoom candle light carols night, this was our fam’s medley of old carols and new harmonies improvised; wishing you a blessed day today and always; may the Lord of Light, Peace, Joy & true Love fill your days with His Song, all of now and the days to follow, stay precious!
When I was a child I was skinny, and I was a child. Shy. I stammered. Had to wear glasses very young. It kept falling off my snub nose. Got teased for that and my skinny legs. All that and I couldnot speak as well as the grown ups around me. I was ‘Pin throat’, ‘drumstick’, ….
“You’re the worst in your family!” One of my school teachers told me. “Terrible at sports.” Yes, unfortunately. I was underweight, how could I lift and throw, or jump heights, my ankles felt too tiny for my height. I was best in my bare feet running in the sands at the beach along our little home by the sea. I was happiest in the guava tree; I talked to squirrels and myna. They talked back to me, I’m telling you. Their grey soft fluff and under wings, their little eyes and snacker of beak in tree branch it all spoke to me in a peace that other languages did nothing to comfort a tiny person growing up in a world too fast to understand its slower creatures.
When I was four, a dream began. A nightmare. It happened around the time our landowners son tried to molest me, an afternoon my Ma was out working. I waited, and as I did, the landowners son grabbed me by the arm. It was odd, we knew him. A tall darkish boy who didnt talk. Now he pulled me to a stool in the corner of their shadowy shop. The shutters were half downed. Then he pulled me to the floor, it was cold hard stone, too fast to scream. I called to my God. Ma had taught me to pray, would God be here in this cold terrible place? He was. The shutter shuttered back up, someone entered I cannot remember who; the sound of that was freedom.
Daylight filtered through.
The landowners son flung me from him and disappeared. I do not remember how I got to stand on a heap of red ants. The househelp found me there, she yelled me to safety back up the stairs to our home above the landowners’ place. Was it that night the night mares began? It was a thin, very brown skinned woman in white flowing clothes, she had no face. She chased me around the terrace outside our home. Peering down at me, I saw it over and over . That face with no features. Like a painting smudged brown. It was the first time something hurt me, it took my peace. It chased, stalked, ate at me. It was the first time I felt alone. Afraid. Slowly the dream faded and left a shadow in me. A shadow that grew grew grew till it blocked out the light. Strange how you can believe the grey shadow coming in through a bad dream, is the light. Strange how we can believe lies that we are imperfect because we are not physically strong, strange how we can believe we are disabled because someone did a bad thing to us. Strange how we disbelieve the gifts we are given by God, just because someone somewhere made us numb.
Now later I met Christ at the Cross and He told me about murderers who didn’t know what they were doing, but what does a child know about bullies? I never told my Ma about the landowners son; never told her about an uncle who later tried that same vicious thing again. Ok they didn’t succeed, but why the silence?
I do not know.
But this I do know. It is the shut up – ness of a terrible event, that fosters nightmares. It fosters a lack of trust in oneself. It rears self hate. How I do not know.
I was once a child and spoke as a child. Now I am grown I do not speak as a child in the dark shuttered place by a red anthill, numbed by life. I speak as a grown woman, as a mother with girls of her own. I never spoke about that shuttered time, now as I do,
The nightmare recedes. The thin brown woman in white linen, her featureless brown face? She recedes. What was she?
I do not know. But yesterday I heard a girl talk about a Promise from the sacred lips of Yahweh. ” ...the years the locusts’ve eaten I will restore to you…”
A locust is an evil grasshopper I replied to the girl. Yes it takes our harvest. Everything that was ours rightfully. A metaphor of a thief , the locust & it came in a swarm! A whole thousand upon thousand of them, an army. years of badness. Of bad bad sad words said over and over. “You there, shush! Sit! You are reject. You are odd. No dont come here. Go to your corner. Shush. Dont talk. Dont sing. Go in the back row. You lil ugly thing.”
The locusts tried eat me up,
Bad dreams stole my nights now and then. Shadows grew their harvest tall. They spread their soft wings around my news. The news that crept in 24x 7. Bad news . Bad news. We believe it all.
Then I heard the good news of a Christ who taught me to forgive the landowners boy who didn’t know what he was doing. The good news that showed me how to love and not mind the bad all the time. I was a collector of sad events world wide, the good news of Christ was that, He knew. He knew about all my shadow. Nothing was hidden from Him. He was there too.
I had that good news now in me…. a Light that burned the dark away. Bit by bit or burned the dark away. Flame by flame it burned the dark away
Flame by flame it burned the chatter of my locusts stealing my joy. Christ was in every dark valley I’d ever tread. He, in every page every line every chapter every episode of my life. Times I messed, times I offended His name, times I ran from Him and His in the dark. Times the locusts killed me. Then I buried me. All my skinny self and snub nose and stammer. And times I felt not good enough. Times in the red ant hill, times numb with the loneliness only thieves of time give. Thieves of time, of smiles, of joy, of the fountain of life. Like locusts they arrive, not just ones and toes but thousands on thousands of lies with big jaws they chew chew cud chew on our weakness.
But Christ told me that….His power was made perfect in my weakness. My littleness. The littler, the weaker I was the more his power showed up in me. Like cracks in a wall, with light showing through. He didnt take advantage of my vulnerability. He laid Himself down for it.
Opposite of that locust, He, Christ.
The Good news. My defender. Healer. Physician. Rock. Strong Tower. Saviour. Master. Protector. My Light. Yours. Your defender. Your protector. Your shut-er up of the locusts eating up your mind. Eating up your time. Your life.
Their chatter chatter chatter it goes on and on in Mindfields we’ve buried with the ashes of time. You burnt out just trying to rise. Burnt out just trying to wake up refreshed from nights you did not sleep trying to sleep. But hey no.more..you hear me. No more.
Locusts… no more. In the name of Jesus, go get out of my life. I …am with the Christ.
GOD LACKS NO CREATIVITY EVEN IN THE LABOR ROOMS OF CHANGE
Two years ago our gentle teenager began to steadily turn into a stranger we could hardly recognize. A new medication put an end to his seizures a year later, but the trial had just begun.
God lacks no creativity even in the Labor rooms of Change!
Two years ago our gentle teenager began to steadily turn into a stranger we could hardly recognize. A new medication put an end to his seizures a year later, but the trial had just begun.
Light fell through the Emergency Room’s glassed-in ceiling and onto Johann’s face as he sang, “Whatever lies before me, I will be singing when the evening comes. Bless the Lord oh, my soul …10,000 reasons and forever more …” 10,000 Reason. Matt Redman
BLINDNESS ISN’T EASY ON ANY COUNT
Johann sings while waiting. Ah, yes. Blindness isn’t easy on any count, but today I froze as he sang the words – “When the evening comes???”
As he waited on a stretcher near the CT scan unit of Nimhan’s Hospital’s Neuro Science Department, an orderly changed the sheets to Johann’s favorite color – lavender. How could she have known? Was this a sign that total healing would follow? Johann, now 19 and blind from birth, can detect a few colors and has light perception.
“Ma, I love the lavender …” he said.
I bit back tears, nodding a muffled reply.
IT WILL PASS
When Johann’s seizures finally stopped, his aggression began. He was 18. “It will pass,” friends said.
The girls and Johann had a beautiful childhood, sharing music and fun, sharing games with a brother they were proud to be seen with. Now there were blows, bites, scratches, rage, and verbal battery. We went to parks on sunrise picnics, did road trips, prayed, wept, clung together as a couple, and individually with each of our girls. But when we went out in twos, Johann would scream in panic, running past the gate in search of us.
A kind new doctor changed Johann’s medications gradually while withdrawing earlier prescriptions. Dearest Lord God, now we must have withdrawal combat too?
EVEN IF YOU SLAY ME
“Brace yourselves,” the doctor said, his face filled with a compassion that scared me. The months that followed were a Gethsemane place for us. Here we would taste the bittersweet of Job and Daniel, “Even if You slay me…” Job 13:15, Daniel 3:14-18
Johann adopted us at age one. We were all being brought up together by God in His Kindergarten of Faith, but now, was He letting us out on our own?
The first hint of Johann’s illness started around his school final exams. Johann refused to touch his Braille. His dimpled grin receded faster as December stretched into January. We guided him to hand write, “I know my Redeemer lives…” then pinned it up where we could all see it. We were clinging to sanity.
“How long?” I frantically texted our second daughter, Kitsy, who was across the room. To avoid trigger words, we texted each other.
“God won’t put something in our laps that we cannot handle. Unsure how long Ma, but I’m willing to wait,” she replied. Was it just yesterday that Kitsy had screamed, “I – I want my brother back!” Now she was beaming and serene?
This is what happens.
One of us sinks, but another perks up with unthinkable faith or Scripture leaps out from a calendar. The movie, Hacksaw Ridge, spoke volumes to us. It is easy to fall into self-destruction, but God lacks no creativity even in the labor rooms of change.
Johann sings with the voice of an angel. His seizures took that from him, but from the pit of that hell, he began to sing again,10,000 Reasons, a song that brought me to tears. Johann was singing! Yes, with a crackly sandpaper voice, but he was singing!
We broke into raggedy worship, in the midst of cushions-flying-at-our-heads-and-worse, but surrounded by the prayers of dear family and friends. Often, I would stare at the predawn sky. God was and is present, like in those days, those three silent days after Gethsemane: “… a Rose trampled on the ground, He … thought of me most of all.” (Above All, Michael W. Smith)
OUR PRAYERS GREW DESPERATE
Lord please help me through the noise of my questions. Give the girls some joy today. Help my husband, Jeff.
About this time we also experienced professional setbacks. Could it really get any worse? It could. You cannot re-route through Gethsemane if you want to finish with colors.
Some of my own prayers irritated me. “Thank you Lord for the trials You send us.” Gratitude was the best thing we could do – thanking God for a little bird in the window, for a relative who sent a gift, for a glorious sunset, or even for Johann’s question, “What is happening to me?”
GRATITUDE KICKSTARTED JOY
Yes, it did and some things I have no words for.
I began to blog and paint again. A friend called asking why I had dropped off social media, and asked if I would consider an art book contract with a Christian publisher. The theme? Hope for the Hurting. My head said, “No,” but God nudged me to say, “Yes.” So I did.
Jeff started painting too, and though he is not one to be poetic, he titled it, Autumn Blush. It was soul harvest time. Our daughter, Kitsy cooked offerings of love. This once hyper, young teenager was turning out exotic recipes in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown rationing. Our eldest daughter, Vihan, had begun a fellowship for those her age and older, and we now joined her online — not easy to do with Johann intolerant of a particular chord on the guitar or insisting on rocking right in front of camera, yet his presence reaches more people than we think possible.
As I write, light falls through the curtains and Johann asks what I’m doing. I tell him I am writing about his song, 10,000 Reasons, and he smiles his lop-sided smile.
SING LIKE NEVER BEFORE
Outside a Koyal bird calls. There will be rain tonight after a sweltering Indian day. Ah, Lord God, more reasons to bless Your name even if our son isn’t well yet.
“Sing like never before, Oh my soul.”
Worship Him for His Spirit of matchless comfort in the presence of our frail humanity.
Unconditional healing is God lifting our innermost being, no matter the ordeal. Oh, the awe of holding hands with God, of being loved by Him in the midst of pain, learning to love Him back and to love each other unconditionally, like He does.
We are learning.
y 👈Audio. Read by RaylaAudio Player00:00
We were in tears recording this. It was a healing all by itself. … Very special hugs from our son who knows you are praying… ~ Rayla Noel
Rayla Noel lives in India with her husband, their three children and a God who never runs out of Creative Ways to help them graduate from His School of Faith.My Grace is sufficient for you; for My Power shows best in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP
Yes, our second daughter. Sits stunned Cross legged in bed, her entire person shocked, electrified; every ten minutes she goes,”Ma, how do I come to terms with this?”
We’re stunned too. Ivory, our daughter’s daughter hadn’t shown. Last week when we met at the gate, her shaggy white ears and tail all waggly with joy, she didn’t show! Though Kitsy says she did. I couldnt tell. Now what… I’m a great grandma??
Borrowing my human daughters words, “I must come to terms with all this!”
While our world battles fresh batches of this and that, life goes on.
To all the mothers that bless our earth
Momma, you kneeling in prayer – I remember you ~ mornings night, noon days of heart and song
you in the fabric of our earth & heaven & us three lil girls, you – now a Piece of Thel & Li & me & all the children…
THANKYOU is such two little words but it’s all I have: like the young ones’ sweet stammer wishes, hush- baked cake late last night for Mothers day, I grin out loud; there’s you in me/ us ‘telling songs & wishes in the fabric of an earth you birthed…
you in our hands and feet, in the way we see things;
they’re going to stumble out their rooms now, there’ll be hugs and kisses, I gaze at this like you used to go speechless unsure how to say Thankyou when we said love you – it’s such two little words.
You surprised that even I had three, me saying when I was 18, saying I’d never have kids Haha…
I know I know… there could be no mothers without our fathers and they are there strong in the brick of us, our dads and Sam and Jeff… and their mothers and fathers…and new sisters and brothers…your siblings with your face still here Uncles Sunny & Godfrey, precious aunt Bess miles away who just sent me a message, oh all their children …Ma…family roots spreading wings like angels
speechless now with our new selves ~ mothers all, even Joh our son tucking me into bed? Fixing my hair, his fingers a new tender last night; Vi whispering midnight hug, Kit with secret cuisine shopping list, hearts on their sleeve; and Anu and Sam and Akash across an earth not far at all from the heaven you birth every day anew thru’ all of us
…thankyou is such two little words as I stare at them looking like you ….
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This Post is for anyone celebrating their birthday today, (and everyone else) I have this urge to celebrate you, and offer a tiny prayer too from my son who’s incredible gift is prayer. If you’ve been following posts you’ll know he’s not just blind but recovering from a series of disturbing issues, but this isn’t about him;
whichever part of the world you’re in: what a ride this is, and yet we are still the same people we were born as…
Was my birthday couple of days ago: “..no fuss,” I warned them, but there they were @ midnight, cake and candles, hushed whispers: in the morning among mysteriously bought gifts, was a Heart full of blue crystal stars from Kitsy, and Perfume from our eldest, my first name ‘Diella‘ hand- crafted in with scores of words like “Light”. (I got that name in a dream, after a long crazy illness. While I healed, there was a dream: it had my name written on a white stone. Diella means Worshipper);
mid- birthday joy, now there was announcement of national 21 day curfew; our entire street & surrounding areas went quiet, no bustle of traffic or twitter from Myna in trees running between our home and army acres across.
Within our walls, my family had strung out little lights, there was music and the smells of great cooking,
(I have officially surrendered cooking baton to second daughter Kitsy, who is master chef! (On left is how she used to be), now 👇….sigh, they grow so fast.
D’you sometimes feel guilty to feel happy? You know it’s a mess out here with virus and anxiety attacks, but now and then there’s a celebration,
so here’s the thing: we were going thru’ all our pics, and my Jeff he rounded off everyone’s words with, “Ray, you are … you are… unique….” ….words that make me stare at everyone else now…..
that, there is no one like you either!
No matter the news, nothing changes who you are, your essence is unique, novel! Yes they say ‘novel‘ for all kinds of things, but here we are, citizens and strangers and basic people born to mothers and families and lives that can change in the twinkling of an eye. We been warned of all that, but when it arrives it’s a thief in the night, it’s a touch between life and death…
We got two bone chilling letters from people we love, one from our precious nephew in a hospital in Germany, he’s a doctor; and the other from a very dear friend in the U.S. They wrote loving notes, asking family to pay attention to how deadly this Covid thing is, the pace at which it mutates, its silent stealth. These precious ones lives are at risk because of their professions: I can’t tell you enough what it felt like, to be gazing at/ celebrating life in all its hues: to hug across the miles, and cry tears of love and pain;
to know that we 7 billion are strong and yet we are this vulnerable. We are beloved and fragile, our life is like grass, and yet we are one-of-a- kind- each, Designer made, no matter that our breath can be whisked away; we are phenomenal, a Force to reckon with. The day we were born, people paused or clapped, kissed? …. wept.
We can die, and even that occasion is phenomenal. It causes chaos / maddening grief, because humans as a race cannot be ignored. If one of us is attacked in any unusual ordeal it is News. The entire planet of us under siege is another thing altogether, nothing competes with the vastness of that: the fact that we are under this kind of common indefinable, insurmountable distress is totally New.
If we survive this, and many will, there will be the aftermath of it and it may be unlike anything recorded in the history of mankind: I don’t want to go much there: this one is about birthdays and how it feels to celebrate humans, mid- international crisis; it feels strange and provocative -beautiful and Quiet.
This morning I woke up feeling different, younger and older, like I had more in my 206 bones. It’s an awareness… of what? The immortality of life, or its brevity? I’m staring at books we used to read, it’s like from another life: movies, talks. Some Quotes feel more right than before. Oh, bouquets and birds, they don’t change, they are like paintings and classical music; they have Eternity in them. But our conversation…. it is halved in a new way.
Birthday hugs: they are tighter.
Gazes and strummed guitar, candle lights and the clink of glasses… they say new things. I can’t say what, just new. And old. And somethings we never knew before. We thought we knew it all. Our parents and grandparents taught us how to say Grace and say please, thankyou and sorry. As we grew we thought we understood things a little more than yesterday. It felt sweet, sometimes sour.
Now, I don’t know… and that is a New Thing. It reminds me of how little we all truly know about each other as humans. You are a person with feelings and heart and we must care deeply for each others’ well being, must pray for one another’s lives/ souls…
this is more than birthdays: you can see this Post hovers around that word and how I want to wish you a beautiful life without sounding patronizing, even if it’s not birthday zone. Even if life’s not short and we’ll survive this and other wars.
Our daughter Vi does these Videos and I’d love for you to listen to this one. She’s a lot like me and feels deeply about things;
then our son walks in on her recording (he cannot bear closed doors), but the moment turns around, he prays and brings you right into our room facing palm trees on it’s right, with my large painting in the back drop. It is called DaySpring, and I wish you that Inner Spring of Light and Life.
Vi does her own take on Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei; we looked up those words and it means “Emblem: a Lamb bearing the Cross of Christ.”
All sounds so serious. D’you get the feeling life is way more than mortal detail? That there’s more besides thinking on Cures and everyday bread/ rice/ health… that oneday we might all be someplace else besides this planet?
And that we matter incredibly more than we suspect…
This is another one I’ve no clue how to wrap. Do have a blessed day.
What started two years ago with a few young people across Bangalore city, today was just Family, oweing to ‘Janata Curfew’: people’s voluntary curfew where every Indian stays indoors all day till 9pm this evening.
So we got together for today: our daughter Vihan who made our Haven call come true with her heart of steel and love for Jesus & every soul ever; our son Johann (I’ve written about him here, he’s recovering so well. Thankyou all for prayers). There’s the one and only NoelJeff without whom this family would be an awkward lot. Our second daughter KitsyRuth, the Bijli(electricity) of us (and Chef!). Then me: still catching my breath from some weird sort of illness- that’s-not-Covid🥴: glad for the grace of God that’s brought us through a strange 365×2 days, hallel! It was worth it all, to watch Family grow this way. Do join every Sunday, Subscribe for Updates, Share with people who might appreciate company, comment so we know you’re there…
Trusting these Vids are understood for the purpose of Sharing God’s Comfort. None of us are Pros., just extremely ordinary -everyday- veggie- chopping- hassled over nitty gritty- kind of people with an extraordinary Father who loves us all no matter what we think of Him, no matter how dark the road might seem. You are not alone.
For FMF Writers. ‘Table”.
Our table seems to expand with every new person. I don’t know how they did it back then, we now are more conservative a Society. (Conservative as in : conserving on personal space/ sharing). We buffet, we carry bag/ take home. We have little side-table, collapsible ones too, with flaps down sides. Yes, but not my husband.
When we went shopping for the last table we bought and still have- by nothing but the sheer grace of God and all His angels specially trained to take care of homes like ours, … well he wanted a six seater glass table. It has a lower layer, frosted glass- but still glass.
I remember the day we bought it, at Powai, Mumbai; our third child was just in, a tiny gorgeous visually challenged cherub, but he would grow, and he would want to climb this thing. But Jeff wouldn’t listen. They’d learn, he said. Train them well, they’ll learn, learn how to take care of good things. How to be careful, not be rowdy around it.
I turned to the Salesman for mercy, but he was helplessly taken by my truly beloved’s passion for glass. “Ma’am, you can let your children sit on this table, even lie down, this is no mere glass, this is Italian …”
It stood on four seemingly- tender steel legs that looked feather light, I wasn’t convinced. But Jeff has these large brown amber eyes that seem to melt when he wants something badly and he wanted that table. Two years down we had to shift cities/states, my heart sank. India is no small country, our furniture went on Inter State highways and heaven & hell know how many bumps. Shashi our neighbor had wanted that table, Jeff wouldn’t hear of it.
When we unpacked and re-assembled it, it looked as good as new.
The tales this one can tell:
birthday cake cuttings with the kids’ friends falling at it till it swayed 70 degrees one birthday when there was a weak table-leg;
the times we prayed here, chatted, tried a new recipe, made cards, painted nails, made calls, talked into the night, lit candles, salvaged bouquets over a day old, got new lilies, fixed an old vase, lost spoons and found them later elsewhere, made new friends, got new plates and mats, re furnished our white backed chairs (Jeff wanted those white dining chairs too, fabulous as they look ~ fine steel rod backs in red brown wood frame, they are white, and this is not a small family, we love our paints and colors and crayons and tubes of acrylic….
Jeff re-furnished each chair recently, it all looks elegantly loved.
“They’ll learn,” he said, also persistently insisting on using our best glassware too. “Why not use it all now, we celebrate every time…”
“I’m keeping them for special occasions,” I sulk every Sunday. And every Sunday he takes every plate out, our best ware for the day that’s supposed to be treated sacred.
“What if they chip?”
He turns those eyes on me with, “They haven’t yet, if they do…we’ll have to get new ones.”
After all these years, I’m changing. I’m glad for the way this ‘Italian’ glass and white steel thing makes me feel, its glass lower layer with frosted rain drops, and white chairs. From a barely-anointed Clean-Bee, I’m turning into something unspeakable everyday, slowly, inch by inch, am getting addicted to cleaning accessories and mat decor. Nor worrying about it breaking anymore: unsure why.
Oh ok, it’s a She, and She’s still a beauty, a friend,
a family member that reminds us of the fragility of moments, and how quick and sheer life is, transient, yet resilient.
She reminds me to constantly dress up for one another, always treat each day as a cause for celebration. Funny, I never thought of her that way, till writing this. Never gave her a name, but then she’s each of us: breakable, and yet if treated with care, can still stand.
This Post prompted by FMF WRITERS: Word: TABLE.
“How many sides does a coin have?” I ask eight blind kids in their Creativity room. 7 of them are quiet. There is shyness, diffidence, anxiety in the room.
One little girl twists her ribbon to knots. Then there’s Varun (name changed), always in trouble for speaking his mind, for being local ‘Complaint box‘ and ‘Motor mouth’. Young Varun has faced both destitution and comfort: he’s been ‘corrected’ for being unruly and is a tamed little lion today. All of which maybe has made him unselfconscious. His mind is an undefensive scramble of questions. Varu may not be the highest scorer in academics but he’s the curious one.
Now he replies with excitement, “Three sides, no?” Heads, Tails, and the Edge. He rolls the coin across the table to me, of course he knows exactly where I’m sitting, his young face filling with light as if he’d just found the key to the universe.
If I were to blindfold myself, or shut my ears for an hour, would I be able to solve a few problems that have baffled me before? Chances are…. who knows? Yes!
I don’t know how, but our son Joh who was born blind, always finds missing things at home. He says he knows when we last used it, and where we kept it. Keys, wallet, glasses, a book, papers… it is uncanny. He remembers details we cannot easily remember. Is his memory sharper? Perhaps he’s just using all he’s got, and the sense of sight he lacks, propels him to search deeper at muddles and mysteries. He knows the time of day, knows if it’s going to rain…his olfactory senses are high toned, auditory nerves on edge, every hammer and anvil fine tuned.
What does it take for us to respond to a new question from an opposite state of mind? If I’m a logical person, I respond from one side of me. But what if, when I’m startled, shaken, pushed out of comfort zone, I now respond from the Creative side, or vice versa;
My own childhood began with being left handed. In the chaos at early school where one of my teachers did not understand me, I began writing in reverse, & speaking in reverse, (spoonerism would soon turn out to be a fun diversion in classroom and some moments of boredom).
I’m unsure how and when the transition to ‘fun with being an odd one out’ began but my parents were not conventional people. Some of the places we lived at were dangerous stations, there was travel by tiny boat, deep sea/ river crossings…and yet things seemed to turn into a joyful classroom for me. A kind of Jungle Book lens through which to enter what was given.
I met Fagoo Behera the boatman from Khujang, (names unchanged), he sang to ‘baba crocodiles’ in the Mahanadi River, Ma said. (Baba, for baby). Not to underplay how tense some days were, but when you have a Life you must live, and choose to respond not from underlying Fear/ Anxiety, who knows what you will find?
Ma taught craft & music at Stations where Dad worked (Ministry of Lights&Shipping, Govt.of India). We lived in ports from Kanyakumari to Mandvi in Gujarat 200 kms from the India border. There was always a Lighthouse, and the Net was only what a local fishermen used. My first freelance job was with Drama production at Akash Vani, Bangalore, (if you discount our Amateur Theatre, age 5, 6, 7, ..with neighbour kids. We did Shakuntala, desi Cinderella…. on septic tanks and under guava trees, little knowing oneday we’d be drawing from these Treasures).
I’ve volunteered at Schools where our blind son was at, and being with these beautiful people reminds me e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y of how we misunderstand some acts/ facts of everyday living: how I interpret the word “Challenged”, what ‘handicap’ implies. Or the word, ‘Special’. Our second daughter once remarked with loud sigh, ” …maybe if I’d had some sort of disability I’d be called Special!” It was a rude awakening for us; and I’m thinking now, perhaps the worst disability is a bored person/ with lack of confidence, or someone who has no foundational strength.
- We are really only using 2% or less of our faculties.
- We as a Race are now probably farthest from our creative selves than we’ve ever been. Illness both physical and otherwise, could be changing us into a species of indifferent mammals, or ones controlled by Fear.
A few years ago, Dr.Joseph, a good friend of ours here in Bangalore, invited me to a Conference for Personality Developers. ‘Be yourself’ he said.
Was I nervous? Sure, but not just nervous. I’d grown to be a full time mom by now, and hermit artist with little worry about boardroom protocol. (At home we were getting used to the world of the ‘Disadvantaged‘, with firm jaws and steel too!…)
by 3 pm that day, it was clear my notes weren’t going to work: it had been a morning full of discussion on reasons for Communication breakdown. I would need to change the dialogue here to get through to Tea break without everyone yawning at me.
I look back with a happy shudder:
me in sedate blue sari, waving my kitchen wooden potato masher in version of how early man oh, and woman !- may have communicated before they made polite words.
The room burst with noise and laughter as some immediately traded ‘fight‘ stories;
Soon it was time to ask, “How many sides does a coin have?”
One replied,”Heads, tails, and shadow..”
“Impression on palm, if count is held tightly.”
“Education and growing up show negatives and positives: the 3rd side is what I have learned from both.”
We asked a blindfolded volunteer to feel & describe a coin as if he’d never touched one before, and he said, “Flip side, flop side oh… and edge!” Just like Varun the Blind kid had put it.
One lady who had been very quiet, now smiled and said she’d not wanted to participate, (what difference would it have made to her regular life?), & how the potato masher here had seemed silly, but that it was funny and reminded her of somethings she’d forgotten…also, how we best change from regular to a little more ‘unusual‘, please?
A theater person in the room said he’d been thinking on similar lines…but did not know how to break ice in a room he wasn’t used to; and how writing Plays made him appreciate the Unexpected.
Today we live in a modest apartment overlooking army acres of forest: there’s no sparrow, but yesterday we had two peahen, and one visiting Bulbul…..
all from the balcony where Joh and I took baby steps at Homeschooling via NIOS, after his 7th std at Jyothi Seva for the Blind.
I remember hating Braille, crying my heart out, knowing there’s 4.8 million more blind people in India alone, and how little we are geared for Challenges. There would be new ones to face in the next few years, but each only serves to stretchhhhhhh my rigid bones. Life, and you and I, are changing as we speak,
it all shifts faster than we have time to buy another outfit in newer coutre! One thing remains – the Human need for fulfillment, via connectivity with other humans or self.
I grew up with tribals for friends, sometimes a deer, or a lizard that left its tail in my book! There were no Malls, or Google; Life had surprises everyday in its lulls and rogue waves,
Look at this :
Our mind can perform 10 Quadrillion operations/ sec without our even knowing it.
Imagine the power of a human alone or with another. What a big bazaar of Spheres we must all be: impacting each other in ways we might never know yet, with or without words.
Our son Joh, had a semi- paralyzed friend who could not speak, but when we entered his room, his whole body language changed. Joh could not see him, but they had their own unique exchange that was fascinating to watch: a world of touch, the vibrations of laughter… sighs, the rhythm of one’s pulse displaying emotion…
Definition of Edge:
- Line or area farthest away from the middle.
- Intersection of two surfaces.
- Point at which something is likely to begin.
- Margin of superiority, advantage.
- Our single most important skill that makes for ‘Unique‘.
So, WHAT’S MY EDGE?
In my teens, someone told me I smiled too much. By age 23, a BBC retired Staffer who mentored me at Broadcast (Feba Radio), John Fear, he also produced “What they believe” –
he said, “Rayla, “he said, “Can you smile now and then? ”
JF’s shock of white hair and piercing blue eyes were daunting, but he was kind. “….though, a little anxiety in the right places, might keep you from harm y’know…..”
He urged me to observe human struggles, victories, tragedies; people in footpaths, and high places…. or in the isolation of misunderstood behaviour.
Decades later I realised I’d developed an almost dangerous fascination for Humans: it made me look at footpaths and invisible people in ways that never left, it began to change our home, it made us gaze at the beauty of all God’s Creation, at Life however mundane or high octane.
After we moved back from Mumbai to Bangalore, our visually challenged son, then 6 years old, would hardly speak, now he was further disoriented with temporary rental house and boxes. One morning right in the middle of a water crisis, as we were filling from one existing tap with borewell supply, the connecting pipe fell away from tap as water filled every place it could get. Our son was stunned, then delighted with all the happy chaos. It was just him and I at that moment, but he took charge, his deft little hands working the pipe back to tap faster than I could. His laughter filled my ears for a long time with the feeling this moment would be remembered forever.
As I write this, there’s an urge to return to subjects I used to hate, retrace some ways of thinking, unlock secrets best known to kids. Or better still, go out to play with them like we did in the age of the unselfconscious, curious innocence.
Who knows what one might find in a guava tree, or how the world looks from a wall, a roof top, a swing? Yes, yes we’d probably need help climbing trees and walls, roof: let’s just say who knows what we will find if we would just stretchhhhhh a little?
From my article in Self Development Journal, Shri B.Singh, Education/Welfare trust. Mumbai.
This post inspired by Writing/Believing Sight Unseen‘s post about streets, so I said I’d have a go at my own streets around. He said he would look out for it so here goes 😅
I’m still not a Google map person, when people come home here in Bangalore, I tell them we’re the lane opposite the huge Banian tree complete with tap roots and birds yelling in it…. uh
past Bamboo shop man’s enclosure for new buildings coming up.
If they’re on a lane further down I must guide them left of CMR law college but which left, depending on which side they’re facing. If they’re facing my tree, then I’m on their left.
Owwwwgh! Which tree they ask, theres more than one tree here. I realise I don’t know location address. Postal address says Reddy layout. Google says I’m at Chingalingakua…..
but this is a post about streets around me,
I’ll try again. If I go out (forget people coming home for now)
if I turn left of my Banian tree, towards the Flyover, there’s the little uphill lane past Chemist and Bake,
past the Aquarium blue roof place(can’t remember name)
alongside two storeyed apartment where recently a biker still in red helmet, well he ran up those stairs to first floor but forgot his keys still in bike. He looks down, sees me, and with friendly grin, asks if I can get keys off his bike and throw it up at him….. that lane.
Go up that lane 2 minutes and seven or more trees to your left, (with cheeky monkey in them),
you get to the Ayyapa temple Cross, rich with people arriving and leaving off blue and white bus, red bus, auto rickshaw and car and bike. There’s a food stall, a toy shop and a garment store across, not to mention cheerful vegetable vendors in carts, they sell some of the best grapes I’ve ever had, wine coloured ones, they’ll stain your shirt if you’re not careful, that street junction
which breaks into a two way Flyover where I happened to get stranded, waiting for an auto rickshaw with my then 8 year old blind hyperactive son….that Flyover
leads to a larger location called JBnagar, aha we finally have a name!
We meet Mangula* in a little town outside Bangalore….where exactly is she from? Half Kannada, Telugu, Tamil…she doesn’t know. How many people groups are we in this busy Peninsula India? At least 70, I hear .
I get permission to tell her story, take her picture. Mangula is thrilled, unashamed, why should she be? She’s done nothing wrong, only given good in return for the trouble she’s received. A feisty, 64ish (maybe), you never know, she could be much older or younger:
M. is General dishwasher at the home here where we’ve been these past 10 days;
…is also garden lizard/ squirrel Chaser, Chef, Masseur. (Ahm, snake killer too if the occasion so arises). Will sing along with any song you are singing, in monotonous hum. Origin? Hard to say. Telangana, Kannadiga... she speaks a marinated form of sub languages, but her story is beyond my head. (Retold with permission). Maybe I should just call her Mingu….?
Has two surviving children:
one of whom is her daughter Aasha who died young after a life of abuse from a man outside her community. The runaway marriage ended in him asking Aasha to go to the city looking for a ‘well paying job.’….which was a round of hotels and nightlife that left Aasha with a HIV+ baby girl. Husband now gets himself a new wife, while also occasionally thrashing some pocket money out of mum-in-law Mingu. And I mean thrashing. Ming’s daughter Aasha didn’t live beyond that monsoon when she fell seriously ill….
Mingu tells me this as she carefully pours eucalyptus oil in my shoulder blades last evening; the massage is welcome. She has the fingers of God for achy sinews. Her speech can get coloured with words for the bad men in her life, for her husband who brought home another wife, and Mingu had to leave with her then infant. Recently the old man died and she had to ‘pay her respects’ ... in a 3 day ceremony, with 2 other ex wives. The 3 widows dressed as brides were given a turmeric bath, (wore red glass bangles that were systematically broken), then a river bath in which she near got drowned, following which she caught a lung full of cold….
She pauses mid-eucalyptus massage, I’m feeling so much better for the treatment but cannot understand how she gets through the day…
her silence is heavy, is she crying? M’s skin is like hardened leather, the voice soft with cares. There’s a grand daughter, Simi…..
every month Mingu gets tablets for the girl Simi, from a Centre 30 kms away on a bus that costs her Rs 300/- to and fro. Simi is 16, tall, with dark knowing eyes and a mouth that can spin tales, fight like a cat- you know she’s had it rough. Step mom hates her….
…grand daughter here is a wild one, looks 25. Long story-
last month she got married to an 18 ish year old from nearby village, and he swears to love her to his dying day. His ‘awful Ma who demands a dowry‘ doesn’t know about the Simi’s HIV+ ness. He works in a factory, has a Cycle and ‘Quarters’ to live in.
Ming is pleased at her grand-son-in-laws’ ways. He now has a small house near a local church, with music all day coming in through their window.
It is a treat to listen to the woman, her tears and soft rage, her gratitude to a God she hasn’t seen, and her zest for life.
Last night as we watched Romedy Now.…it went to midnight, Mingu in a head scarf; we hugged/wished each other Happy Valentine’s as families do. Ming grinned with all her white teeth, she hadn’t a clue what/ who Val was/is…..
and I’m a little guilty at being so smug in even saying/ wondering what Ming thought of the word, Love. How could I translate the word ‘Beloved‘ to her; ‘Love’ was, is only what others gave her, give her.
This is another post I’m unsure how to finish, or why I titled it the way I did. Women like this one, they might live a life thick with details they can’t really say, but they have my respect.
*Names have been changed.
…they fall most not when we sin,
but when we repent…
what can compete with the perfection
of a repentant heart…
Much to un-think here, @ a 3 hour drive from Bangalore city, into tiny growing town.
Today at our little church overlooking gulmohar trees and a blue December sky, the question was asked,“What does Jesus mean to you?”
I don’t like Q&As; we could be judged in these sessions, but this morning here there are people in their teens and twenties and the few of us other gen. humans. They are frank and brilliant,
some say Christ is Love and Light;
to make it even more hard to be real honest, the young preacher asks us to know Jesus sits in the room and that we do this on birthdays don’t we…don’t we say a few words about the birthday person, so… let’s make this a personal Christmas, she says.
I’m getting more uncomfortable. You don’t fake it with the son of God. It’s my turn to say my few words. I speak my heart,
“See Jesus used to be my best friend. The kind that puts up with all my nonsense. A Big brother. As I grew older He was the stronger. As I grew tired He was my strength. Now though, He makes me uncomfortable. “
I pause for breath before venting.“These days He is a mirror. Showing me how selfish I am. I see Him in the faces of neighbours, strangers… relatives… I see Him asking me to love them, help them if I had it in my power to.”
This info begins to worry me but it’s from a real place.
My life isn’t just about me. Sure. I know. And I wonder what kind of Person can love like that, to change me from the inside so I get to care about Mrs.Lanley Aru, and her husband who hurts people, and Ghanush, and Miya. And Bobo and Tre. All a bunch of people who should go to a school for behavioural disorders. I can feel His gaze go right thru me. Dont tell me that’s emotional stuff. You dont know me. I couldn’t love like that. I couldn’t care about these peoples eternal lives, why would I want to live with them eternally, please.
What kind of story is this: from cradle to a crude cross:
I’m out of breath.
To be cont’d .
Have a great day,
The lyrics of a song done with my lefty guitar (will upload when theres courage to do that:). Words run off me and I can’t think except watch how healing walks in. No evidence, it crawls in a millimeter at a time. Then two steps back. Yes I’m a dreamer but positivity alone has never helped med.side effects, see? And I’m seeing new light in the dark. Seeing hope against odds. Our son is on a new surge of withdrawal, the seizures stopped months ago, but this. As my fam and I watch each other cope, moods swing then settle. We must plan activity to zap his nervous energy. He’s been the sweetest calmest person here these 18 years, so this is hard. Jeff read this out to me just now,”He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.“
I’m asking, so His Shadow goes where angels ‘d fear to tread, right. His shadow chases hell for us, It treads fire and walks stormy water to get to us, His Shadow would, Who, What else could? This isn’t a blog post for the sake of blogpost. I am grateful for that Shadow that lead me to some extraordinary readings today, rooting me back into security, ignoring my doubts, my fiery disbelief.
It’s too late now to be afraid
Too much Grace in this place,
too much Mercy walked in, kissed me,
New healings, I cant see yet, except thru’
This, glass darkly.
Mountains of change, attached valley cliffhanging honeysuckle, dew, dawn whispers, mist – to these I owe my
nothing competes with these things that change me,
these times of sweet surrender,
these times of blessed assurance
You are here,
foretaste of Your life, me an heir of salvation,
Me here not mere existence but weeping starlands… weeping meteors of Joy
Blessed assurance Father God You are mine, ours mine.