She was at least six months pregnant; her other child seen here, looked up at us with vacant eyes. The woman’s pale face brightened; in minutes every container of food we gave them was ripped open as they ate till their wrists were messy. I couldn’t sleep that night. The first time we saw this family living under a cart in a back lane at Shvaji nagar(busy market area locally), we gave them some food and money. It all seemed too little help for their cracked lips and skins shiny with too many hours in our Indian winter sun.
The next morning we contacted a renowned NGO that was willing to take them in, provided we got local police clearance, which we were willing to get for them. Five mins later, the NGO called to say, “We will get the family in our van ourselves.Legal clearance shouldn’t be a problem. There’s work, food, shelter, provided they are willing.”
Oh. Thoroughly happy with all this, we went back to family under cart in that back lane, with news of help. Their kid could get a life, the young mom could get maternity assistance, her husband – a job. All this with a legal nod. But uh uh. The man looked eager for what was being offered: he worked where he could – cleaning floors, sweeping the street early mornings, but the woman turned into steel. “We are fine.”
“Aren’t you scared of being in the open here, day and night? And in your condition? “
Her yellow eyes flattened. “No.” She said. Gone was the gaunt lost look. The woman looked formidable, a street creature with lower lip sass & arm on hip. We haggled over their safety and future;
their child crawled back under rusting cart which wasn’t theirs. The man gave me a sad smile, as his wife stuck her jaw out. “You don’t want help?” I asked, now embarrassed.
Another young man with them(you see his hand in the photograph), said, “Help.” Then he furthered that with asking for help for himself. Every time I spoke to this couple, the woman muttered at me, the husband looked sadder, and the neighbour asked help for himself.
He almost got to me, before a flower seller and another approached us with severe disapproval, (as the couple + kid disappeared).
“This boy is a local thief, he is mentally ill and will harass you all. “
The local “thief” was breaking my heart by now. Kitsy our daughter bought flowers from the vendor, beetroot for her dad’s salad (after Angioplasty, we are all eating better, every day is a beautiful reminder of miracles, all that…till we got here, to ShivajiMarket, for better veggies).
No, the NGO couldn’t place the boy- local authorities would need to clear him, they said in a quick text. How old was he, 20? His face was a mess of fear, desperation and aloneness. Grandma was all he had; he suffered from fits and was possibly a kleptomaniac. No, the NGO could not help him; this was a legal issue and I was advised to get home. We gave the boy some food and pocket money; his desperation seared thru me, as we got in an auto- rick back home.
Helpless-ness. What a word. What a world. All the need in me to help him didn’t seem to help. The flower & vegetable seller who knew this boy, kind of took care of him. They had even heard of the NGO that was willing to help the family (who disappeared as we spoke).
A strange kind of rejection this was turning into. Flower seller heard me out, and shook his head. “Who gets help like this?” He asked as he handed us a bouquet of lavender asters wrapped in newspaper. “….who refuses work these days? And who are you?”
Who was I ? With an unintelligible reply we had headed home after wading through street food and sellers of scarves, bright kurtas, junk jewelry, cane garden furniture and gaudy green guavas cut in with red chilly and salt.
The world is a strange place: the older I get the more I see it as a Union of Acceptance orRejection – even from the most unlikely quarters. One sees the strangest Collabs of Innocence & Crime.
That young “thief” had the most innocent eyes I’ve seen in a bit. Local neighbors called him a chronic crook, oh not to be trusted anyplace. But – what if he had a base that could help him? “Help“, he’d said.
I don’t know.
Back home, we are not very strong ourselves, except deep within where I grow my vineyard of Prayer. Here one eats the salt of tears, of sensitivities sharpening by rejection, even from the most fragile sections of our society. Where have we gone wrong, so wrong that Independence is now settling in with lack of social security?
Oh the stories our lanes and lies tell. Some tell me there’s no use just praying. But every single time I meet my Maker, there’s a new face calling from yet another back lane. And they may run away from any kind of assistance; hmm, look it is scary to trust strangers,
He was real, I was young enough to love him for what he was, a real sea creature in the early waves, Bay of Bengal. Through the years, he has followed me, city after city, lane after lane, along with a certain “Harrison” Aussy Life Saver/priest who took me to the Shoulder of a wave. The two become one in a world of creative fiction, where the real story is one about Trusting the One Whose Shoulder we may lean on with the heart of a child. Do check preview attached👇🏼
It can turn you and me into ‘threshing machines’ (Is 41.15); thresh away doubt in the amazing love of God. I’ve seen hate and I’ve seen indifference, but
nothing shakes my core like the Presence of Him who can touch my heart of stone.
..nothing moves me like the Fountain of His tender mercy new every morning. Oh nothing shakes me to the core like His still small voice insisting, pursuing my weakening breath, pleaing that I look away from stubborn doubt into His permanence.
like It had a thousand times but today It included me in Its Light. It wore my hands and feet, and ignored the shadows of death, the insanity of the night gone. Then It said my name. Like It says yours, this is none other than the Spirit of the Living Loving God. It calls…
Her eyes sparkle then dim as he walks out and leaves her to pay their bill. I didn’t dare take a pic while they were there.
Next to us a couple (late 30s?)….her eager smile full of pink lipstick; his laughter, …careless? The Cafe reeks of a few worlds the names of which I try find, they’re there in my sensitivities.
Another couple exchange photographs in their mobiles, then he stares long at his phone; she beams at him, waiting, then looks at me. Her paper thin cheeks crease in a smile that reveals one broken tooth, was I imagining that? What do I know except that we are pieces of a Life too complex to understand just yet and yet, aren’t we each fantastically full of pieces with or without God.
I ask our eldest daughrer Vi, why Cafes draw me so hard and she grins back, “Oh its stories…ma?” Hmm,
this is real, raw; they unmask certain some unseen things?
One solitary diner talks into laptop, two humans across the long low roofed cafe huddle in peppered ponytails and bright colors, a couple with resting faces burrow into gaudy salads:
people with words, or none, via a miracle of timing: we have coffee together celebrating a victory, a sadness, Hope…
Outside, before our flyover:
a flower seller insists we buy her 2Roses. Kitsy our second daughter returns one rose to the girl who flares with the indignity of that. The dignity of Humility, oh. She receives her Rs 50/-, not thinking she could’ve priced it a bit more; didn’t dare offer her another note, her jaw defies pity?! This is new in my country of a billion contrasts and every contrast falling in me like a psalm;
like pieces of God brewing our attention to detail: perhaps we have misunderstood a few events between here and heaven? Perhaps what we call pain and suffering are truly Bridges into God raw real, screaming for Peace with man….
I get a forward on “Feeling Joy no matter what” and I’m thinking “Nice!” but the weather is neat pools of red mud where they’re digging up new roads around our address. Yes, the rains give us poetry too, if you’re like me when we aren’t reading on bombings at Borders and what Price Gurus are saying in our Newspaper dropped off at shoe rack outside. Yes yes, an Indian- Must-have (shoe rack outside door) has come in handy after the Virus! All this, but Joy: not trending Reel – 30second replay of Insta-joy, but an “underground river” the forward implied.
So. I’m backing into every overload of goodness the Lord ceaselessly forwards our way:
am doing what I can to true and serious Follow Him so His Updates happen on my Homepage asap. Serious …
without those Notifications I’m stewing bad news bits or Reels of puppies falling asleep & local Funny people (even Jordindians, a few ‘Jalals’ – they’re not all courteous)😏
But Joy – that’s the real deal. Not pieces of this and that, but the Act of the Psalmist hisself, tripping via my Times, raking in spadesful* of Green Pastures with Him Who alone can Unblock the Light.
* spadesful, or spadefuls?
& this is a Draft I’m posting unedited. Is Joy optional? I think so. We never add it on as a Must-have, only because it is a commodity not available off the shelf, unless we Follow the One Who made us all,
He’d have it in loads. Anyone Who created our puppies and furry friends would. Oh I hear at least three of my friends hoot at that.
Whatever it is we follow, will follow us wherever we are headed.
C.S.Lewis’ ‘Winged Horse‘, re-wiring the way I look at Renewals:
worn out earth route replaced by sky map – wings; brain fatigue, taken on by new oxygen!
Who said anything against that, Bro, take a walk in the direction of newnesses. “Racham” Love beyond Love. I found that in a Hebrew Translation of the Love of God, beyond parallel. Love like that speaks to worn out sinews of humanity; to its war-birthed monsters of chaos. Ay, Racham, a Love that breathes into my empty spaces that would other wise fill with death.
It seeps out like new petals, like the spread of new colour. Laughter tinges Its Stem. I sulk in the shadows, refusing to let go of the dark, it was my safe place but now Joy begins to bud! I believe that I cannot believe: whoa….the greatest war on the human spirit divides me right here : this firm insistence on the denial of the Touch of the Healer.
The room trembles with Peace, the mind of me reverts to memories of illness. God has never not walked right into my broken heart, He has never once left me alone. I have been touched over and over by the Hand of God and yet how deep is shallowness of the human, that I would resort to past sickrooms rather than remember the million miracles that are my itinerary.
As a new day begins I’ve never been as summoned by God as now. It doesn’t feel normal. It doesn’t feel safe. Hehe. My inner being revolts with the five senses. You know there are more than five. The sixth and seventh and nth sense are summed in Words we sniff at like wines tasters and net browsers: there’s Faith and Hope and Love. The greatest of these is Love:
not the transient self absorbed love that feeds need, but the Love of God that can walk right into a human room and lift the roof off with His Presence. The roof off our fire escapes and others. I’m grinning at the visual of that, as a new emotion unfurls. Faith is a substance. A fact. Not an invisibility. It bears root and stem and blossoms…
hey. Have a blessed day
(Also do check out Jon Bloom ‘s Article on Belief; found his website yesterday, am so grateful for the read).
“Is there a fear staring you in the face right now? Are you finding your faith in God’s promise shaking? If so, you are likely praying desperately for God to be with you. God will answer you. But you might, like Jacob in Genesis 32, be surprised by his answer.” Jon Bloom in “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Today we faced a particularly difficult day with a young one who’s coping with medical challenges, we were worn out with love. Never used those words before, but there it was. As we huddled together in a quick call on the God Who made us all, these words went thru me, “…help us wrestle as we wrestle with our angel,” . This was in a way, our Lil Angel of Tough, teaching us lessons we didn’t know, but we were learning.
Sometimes we wrestle with an angel: the angel of pain, aloneness…look close.
Watch what happens.
Ach..Jacob wrestled with the Angel of God, He hurt his sinew, then pointed to a longer, tedious hazardous route in his journey, via southern Gilead, a den of thieves. What did the Angel whisper that Jacob obeyed, what did the hurt sinew do, but strengthen him to become Israel?
And when it was getting to dawn, Jake holds on to the Angel, “I will not let you go until you bless me…”
What secrets hide in such places that regular comforts fail to offer? Here we may falter, fail, recline in fear, doubt.
Worse. Often in our tangle with doubt, our greatest “Ally” will encounter us, even disable us till we realise the disabling process was enabling certain instincts we could never have guessed were within, just waiting its moment to be birthed. Now we are yelling, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” It is a miracle all by itself to be here where we now see what was needed the most.
The encounter breaks us, before taking us higher …like dawn. Oh like dawn.
There was Daniel, fatigued by an angelic visit he laydown exhausted, fevered. What more shall I say, we are ‘surrounded by a host of Witness more than we know’. Moses blanched white to the roots of his hair after a Tent meet with the God of Sinai.
Today if we’ve wrestled with a personal ‘Angel’, look in the mirror of the soul and soon oneday you will stop fighting the Challenge that was here in the first place to teach us to lean not on our own Fears, but on the One Who is above all human bondage.
Here, cherish Him, the Risen Savior Who lives that we too might stand ten feet tall, like standing grain,
the sight of vision, the hearing of the muted, the sense of loss, the smell of hope,
the unseen tomorrow….these and some
stir my ‘heart ‘ – ah that organ of awareness we’ve placed somewhere ‘tween head & rib.
And oh when my spirit opens itself to pray…
what words could describe the Sensory of Prayer? We as a Race are sands shifting in the growing Light of Dawn,
the growing Life of Light in my dark: the sight of things I touch in my core, by a power they call Faith…. what is that described? Must I describe it, for who? Why write, share moments broken from ‘accepted’ norms, why care, why heal? Why kneel, why weep joy,
Why bless for curses; why Love for hate, why rejoice in suffering, what is this; hell heaven, Christ, Lucifer and the Spirit of every man and woman and child – running deep from what we hide, deny
I try telling my new friend, this stray girl with fragile toes, silk ears and white eyelash; try telling her about Pandemic protocol but she doesn’t care. She loves Momos from the Tibetian lady at Top in Town Mini Mall, but that is closed since Lockdown.
Black Beauty our Block Watch girl/dog & I took years to make friends but as time went by, I could not help but notice we shared a kindred passion. For the Law of mutter…
I have a reasonable temper but Blackie can be a wailing storm at 2 am. Sometimes she’s a lopsided ‘meh‘, or just does abstract poetry with her dark eyes in patch of white ash fur.
Aye, this in our strange day and time – I, human am pleased to say that she & I have things in common:
we are gulpers of Oxygen, we die without Water, or Food. We unashamedly exhibit dislike for the current confines of Distance,
that said, I envy Blackie.
I envy her maskless addressless state, unsure where she arrived off; why some of her paw is askew, why her neck bends 75% south; last December she suddenly healed of arthritis, the limp is less pronounced. Today Black walks up the stairs, visits at our door and mumbles for chow.
I’m thinking how Blackie and I were both made by God, not monkeys. I’m more like a monkey than she is though. I’m more Rhesus. More scratch-head, pout mouthed. Blackie is snout mouthed, “friend” person. If God had a four legged pet, He’d get a dog. They are faithful, they have crazy hearing and wouldn’t miss a word He spoke. They would follow like faithful disciples: we humans are more short sighted versions of cat.
B. has forgiven me for being different from her. Here she waits some noons when the sun slants in our patch picked from farms and gardens and seeds we ate and preserved.
Ahm. Some use for old furniture. (I should neaten this, right). Its like the wilds among Peace Lily, baby Gulmohar, water babies, strawberry (actually), and some names we’ve no clue of but call ‘Meer cats’, ‘Squirrel tail ‘(river grass). There’s Zeezee, Zuzu? <African fuss leaf,
All of us, flora fauna / homosapien : creatures of an unequal earth, co- species. Fathom that?
I truly wow that God made Blackie & Co.,for such a time as this:
to remind me that Life is way more complex than mere survival …
That sentence arrived an hour ago without warning. The entire story of nature revolves around man, woman, child, their environment, like the planets revolve around the sun; like birds returning to the nests, like bees go to flowers: the entire Bible is an endless Whisper to Humanity;
the aspect of Love, the person of Jesus: Emmanuel – God with us; He lived, lives for what, whom? From the first Word of the…
Bible to It’s last, this is about us. What were we thinking? Every drop of water, every slant of Light, every dawn and dusk, revolves around humans: yes the Story of Jesus is incomplete without us in it: any which way you look at it, fight kick slam shut it, crucify it, hang it out to dry. Without me, His story is incomplete. And what does that say about what He is to us?
It drives home things some things I’m gagging at. There’s no little joy here, just yelling sunshine. All of everything, from the beginning to the end, wraps around His Humans. No more shying from a Presence that pushes me like I were all He lives for, no more excuses…
As my day ends here and we settle in to night, no matter hell or high water,
I’m nestling in the way one sentence* arrived at me, wrapped Itself around my core and breaths now with a dimension all Its own.
Who names these cyclones? As “Tauktae” batters our west coast, showers and demi-gale rinse our flora, fauna & us all – roof/ roofless, and
newspapers drying in the sun for the Ugh Virus;
Two young girls in Bangalore City, got into PPEs and are helping families bury their dead in a local cemetery.
Unsure if this 👆🏼 is alright- posting their pic here but suddenly I don’t care. Am proud of them, of their parents who supported them in this. Am not too sure I’d do the same. Life’s edgy, uncertain, scary.
Our chicken stall friend Aji asks if we won’t buy 5 kilos please, his voice pleads. Garbage collectors request a ‘baksheesh‘. I would’ve frowned, now the heart is no longer fenced with one’s own dilemma. It’s as if walls have broken, we are all in one room. One emotional room. Some have marooned themself. They are wary. They will not call. Shrug.
That said, green leaves and autumn crocus arrive on schedule. And morning dew and light in the sky flipping in thru my window. What a beautiful earth in all the madness we are. Ashes & death from the Ganges to our monitor sets.
The earth reels as she did from her day 1, she never changed that spin. We don’t know much about existence, do we,
besides what Billy Gates or Elon Musk said or did not say today
or why we must/ must not Vaccine our self; which Vaccine is imported or ex. Exported. And why they must cost any thing at all to ones who cannot afford a meal;
questions, questioning answers.
Meanwhile Tauktae spits & fumes in Gujarat: respect to Newsmen & women braving winds to bring us our daily Feed from graveyards and other places. They are called Vulture Journalists by folks locally, unsure why.
It is the Season of the Unsure. Pre- monsoons have had that flavor from before I wore tiny petticoats. Will our Farmers smile, will they, won’t they?
“Will they be rice tomorrow dad?” Ms Mupti Singh taught us that one at Music class, I must’ve been 8ish. I did not really know anyone who didn’t have a meal to eat. Soyamma & Thamdi from a fisher folk family, came home to help with the dishes, then play. They wore little saris and lopsided hair buns. Oh could they run! You never beat them at cricket, at throw ball, at Hide&Seek, their long legs flaying the sand like young horses. They climbed trees, walls, roof; they were wide eyed with joy at mirrors, at dad’s guitar, at the Pressure cooker, at the tiffin boxes of food Ma packed for them, their round tummies barely hid in the sarees they wore, wore them like little boys. Both of them got married before I finished school. They must be great grandparents by now, in the eastern coast of India, which is battling other storms, like the rest of us are.
Disaster is such a Leveler, phew. We are all on the same plane now, the student, the teacher, the … …well almost. There’s our migrant workers, and hungered masses.
There’s young Nia, grieving for her dad. Tinja for his Grandparents. Families with young kids gone. A set of grown up twins dying within hours of each other, yes of Covid. What can I say. It is too much for a blog post. Am praying, that wisdom will prevail, that governments will know what to do, that they will bless back like only they can.
Am grateful for green grass and crocus that still blossoms a decade after we got them from a beach side somewhere in the west coast. It is a big round circle of life, fitting in square holes in the crust of sanity. Insanity sits waiting like a bride, on the eve of a terrific wedding. I smell change, in me, in you.
Things we thought we did not know, we shall know. What has not been told to us, we will now understand.
Not my words above, that’s from the Bible. Time and Tide take care of Insensitivities.
As our nation reels and staggers among seen and unseen factors, can all the kings horses and all the kings men put things back together again? Before we can get used to the day’s Papers, the next day dawns with worse stats. This is unreal, but like one person said, “..it was a disaster waiting to happen.” It is a war on everything we’ve known.
Today we prayed that we would really pray, set aside 21 days asking the Lord to hear our voice, for our people, our leaders, our healing as nations, as states, homes, families, individuals. 21 days of a fast from everything that holds me back: negative thoughts, distracted mind prone to worry..
all that. Remembering who God is, and what He means when He says, “If my people who are called by my Name will humble themselves and pray, I will forgive and heal their land…”
Took this pic- our tiny saplings grow into little plants, as a nation plummets…. where?
Moki, an acquaintance will laugh at this post: not everyone believes in God. And then not everyone believes God answers prayers. And then some believe in a God of disaster. When He speaks He is a mere Judge. He is, but He’s also the One that lets new skies each day lift my heart. Am spending the next 21 tugging at the hem of His garment, seeking Grace.
This morning my heart is curiously still: yeah I’m seeking His face. He’s brought us through worse. Covid and poor disaster management is not the worst ill there is. A worse one stares us in the face- the soul of man, woman and child that lives alone, without the Friendship of the One who made us all, one Who waits to meet us here before it is too late.
The silence is eerie. Listen careful, you might hear the street below, a siren, another siren. My friend Shalitha had a quiet wedding, we blest them virtually. None of us wore silks and perfume. Just a prayer for the best.
By 10 am, the stores are shut, the clutter gone. There is a certain boldness in our fear. A nation crouching, afraid, strangers to each other. I want to pray but the words are new. These are not prayers we prayed before. These are words within words. Yea from days as these, our roots grow. Here is no pretense
No awkward. Here we are real. Like in a Titanic sinking. We grab life boats, we run, stall, leap. The writing on the wall is not a debate anymore: there is the good, the bad, the ugly. There’s the sinner, the sin & the saint. The Giver, the Recipient. The Gift. In between is a silence that denies nothing.
There is God and the devil. And the deep blue sea. A Red sea. Some of us believe it will part when we pray. Some of us cannot believe in the next warm meal. Ay, our Roots are grown from days as these
Days as these, are in our books of war, of floods and cities buried in sands. Careful what you do, every move unwinds on the Pages of Time. We are now those walls of caves that told stories of hate and love, of the birth of civilizations, and those that fell.
These are the days we will be known by. Not just sweet sagas of survival, but too, of how we fell each other, or do not. Of rise in prices that need not have happened, of hoardings and anti- social leanings. Where are we? What happened to all our poet- ministries, our movie stars and heroes…. we are here, equally yoked in the silence between each new day,
each breath, every deed, these are what our children’s children will know us by…
these ways we reach out to one another, these ways we turn away or say nothing, or say/ do something: these are the days, the things that grow us,
and what we become/ what we are: our core, our minds, our physical soul….
these days be-tell all; whether we will step out of comfort zones to look across our walls at the other…
or look away,
we can rage at parliaments and virus, we can wrap our sensitivities in our cooking pots and shut our doors to our own shoes for fear of death and the dying,
but what new news is that? We will all die one day, it is the manner of our deaths that vary. And when in the Chapters of our History they will write of these Times, I pray..
I pray they will recognise us as humans, unafraid of each others’ dis – ease; that we knocked doors and went extra miles, that we did not wait for kings and parliaments for sweet salvation. There’s more people dying of fear than lack of a vaccine.
When they tell of this Decade’s doings, I pray they will hear and report that we at least tried to think of each other,
(cuz who knows what becomes of what we think, when we think in each other: when we pray, as individuals, as nations, as a planet)-
we will never know: till we know what we know when we expend ourselves for one another,
The rain last night left puddles and a ‘Bird of Paradise’ bud! Life goes on as we scramble for Oxygen, literally. India hurts, prays, vaccinates. Every Breath is a miracle no one’s taking for granted. Nor food, shelter, job. The Earth continues to deliver her grass, bird and foliage. It is that Time of Life. We crawl into our insides, we gaze out at the stars. Aye, this too shall pass. Till then we wait. And watch. And pray.
This is that time of Life, when strong men and weak pray.
How long before Parks too will close down again? This Lil guy did not want to be seen, but few moments later he shimmied down that tree, his eyes brilliant with joy.
Why didn’t I give myself permission to talk to him? Courtesy- protocol. Sigh. I’ll never be able to walk past that rock without wondering if he’s ok.
As our State looks to more Lock down and vaccines, know what? For sure we have never peered closer at God. We as nations and homes, haven’t gazed deeper into each others eyes, haven’t admired nature, faces, leaves, skies, rocks, people;
As a race, we’ve not lingered as much at each other, socially distanced and all,
today as I read my Bible, the words came out and wrapped themselves around my head. “Give thanks..” And I had to stop beating myself over that boy I walked past at the Park. Gave myself permission to pray that he’s alright. Yes we can pray, right? My atheist friend ‘ll wag his head. Thats ok. In the end we will know for sure what we stutter at now.
…every body that ever was here that’s a woman or appreciates women as they are, sweet kings as they are in spirit and in truth, the finger prints of God in all His glory, I say
Happy day to ye, makers of beauty, photographers, writers, messengers of hope, warriors in grace, gardens of peace you yes you, I know you by name, and not- I pray you know how blessed the earth is that you walked here, you browsed here maybe, or pinged, even fed back, commented, read, or just said naught, but you are here in this University of Blogs and you inspire the earth to spin again. God bless you with the knowledge of how fabulous you are! Amen😇
Her house was green: from a new painted roof to shutters in soft green. Every room was like a library, even their table was decorated with books, I’d never seen anything like it. My home was a museum of random memoralibia: drying rose bouquet in bamboo vase from Odisha, tatted table top made by Gran, a coir center mat and coir rimmed lamp shade that overlooked a sofa set in dying rust red velvet, yes we had books but nothing decorous like those at Shasi’s place: we had Reader’s Digest,Good Housekeeping old copies from the sales at the Library every year. And we had Caravan yellow backs, and Dad’s volumes of Carpentry&Tool care! Nothing in green except a stool he hand painted. And yes, 16 types of Bibles. Or more.(Not in green, those).
When Shasi came home, evenings after Math tution, she smiled all polite and wouldn’t look at my collection of feathers in last year’s old English Textbook. She was fussy I thought, but later saw how she wouldn’t look at her own books either, or at her own stamp collection. As a matter of fact she never looked much at much: but she listened hard, and I would later learn how big a gift that was.
Years later we met at college, and she recalled details I’d forgotten all about: like when we had had chicken pox and how Ma had brought us bouquets of neem leaf. She recalled songs,we’d done at contests, and which ones we lost at. In particular she remembered how I fell apart at an Essay Contest at school, and how we climbed a guava tree and ate every last guava to celebrate that sadness. Later we were sick with too much of that fruit and went to a gooseberry tree and ate some there till our teeth were raw. So yes, green will always remind me of Shasi, and how she listened to the sound of colors. And other things. She remembered us praying in the dark sleepover after cousin P.recounted bits of Psycho that weird horror movie; she never stopped praying after that she said. It gave her a better option than worrying or staying sleepless, on nights when there was illness or a thing to stress over. I never thought she’d be the type to receive comfort from prayer, or notice how it changed a room, but apparently she did. Did she read all the beautiful books in her house? Shasi nodded and said ,”Your Bibles were so loud at your place Ray, I had to go and
get my own collection. Come over some time to Kolkotta…”
(I could write more but am one minute past the five mins allowed to FMF prompts! Have a great day y’all)
I always look forward to this Prompt from Friday Five minuters, look forward to it with a relish I knew growing up with tonsillitis and was allowed ice cream only on sacred times of wellbeing! Ah well. Thankyou FMF writers, for keeping me in touch with words,mine & yours. Life gets hectic- beautiful yes, hazardous often in these days of virus and co., but creation never stopped. Sam my musician friend’s beard has gotten longer. Binda seems to heal from cancer, our friendly neighborhood pigeon gets bolder by the day, the children are taller, the sky feels more velvet, yesterday I caught a few drops of rain- it was cool and quenching in my skin, this morning I could not wake up the 5 am I usually do for my morning Quiet, but I kneeled within, in my heart, in bed, cushioning my spirit in Him, as He re- created me for a brand new day. Still in bed I open mail from FMF, and blog. Something I’ve done only twice. Blogging before brushing my teeth. Its a different odd feeling. Like breaking a rule, like smiling with your mouth closed? Maybe. Blogging is a whole cave of possibilities in a beach full of pirates, hehe. I see the world differently horizontally : the Word Observant hauls up sensitivities to look at life with new perspective: as a Server, a Waiter of creativity. A servant of It. Not obstruct its way. Not mess with its Maker, not shut eyes to the possibilities of the day. Here I want to haul self up and stare at the things waiting today:Wait. Ask. Pray. Serve as I watch, observe our Creator’s pathways in my day.
Today is Ash Wednesday? My childhood Anglican Chapel with stained glass windows weeping blood tears into nesting pigeon, and my parents managing to look happy while duelling bass & alto at a Lenten anthem….
Gran insisted on a fast. Dad couldn’t bear the thought. Ma, she balanced the two acts with ease: gram- curry, complete with red boiled rice in ghee – kanji. Which was essentially Rice boiled water. Which Dad hated with his life. But he loved the protocol of sad-ish days! And this was a sad-ish event. Ash Wednesday hailed a new trek around a live Cross: over the next 40 days old songs would be nailed in new ways, new flowers cut for old vases, the brass Cross got polished all over again till you saw your face in it when they carried it down to the altar on Good Friday, weeks down.
Auntie Sukam wore her grey silk and brooches with foundation cream, stark cream in her brown face, the lipstick was always pale mauve on Ash Wednesday: Christ would notice, she had this aura of beautiful pain around her long ageing eyes, its crinkles running up her temples. When aunt Sukum sang you wanted to stop staring at the lit up pigeon and close your eyes and listen to it all. To the wheezing Organ, to the Padre’s high tenor killing it, to the roar of distant town bus and the occasional water pump bleating in Taj compound, the tourist hotel with four rooms and one tiny tower overlooking us all in the chapel with wild lilies outside. Its a lot to remember all of a sudden, not just us in stages of life, but Christ Himself and what He was doing back then, and now- seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding with pleas for the best and the worst of us:
I’m staring at this beautiful Ash. And Him on that Cross, that once. That was all it took. That Once; yes festivals can grow silly, sour, overdone, or flatten out with Time; there’s no one I know now that bares mauve lipstick and Grey silk reeking of mothballs, nor sings like old Chapel folk @’Old Rugged Cross’…
It never goes out of me: that spirit of the Lent. The word derived from Lean, as in Leaning, Lent. To lean on a Strength, on Redemption, on Grace, on Hope, on Love. To lean, I lent on His Memo of Salvation. I’ve never really celebrated this day as any particular event, but early this morning as a few pigeon messed my fern, and I went waving all arms to shoo them away, I remembered to remember the way this feels, in Present Tense:
The Cross – a tense all by Itself, an Entity. I won’t pretend to even begin to describe Its Data. It crossed hell for heaven for us, and back. And forth. Via decades of nonsense and dis- ease, It never stopped following Humanity, in and out of graves, in and through crises and vanity fairs. Above and beyond all powers in high and low places, between This and That, Here& There, These & Those, the Cross was an event that happened ONCE, and It changed everything, present continuous, changes everything as we speak. Don’t ask me how it felt for Him , I’m still staring : at Him: Him Seeping Life into death.
Its not a sad season, It can change the way Humans Lean, and Whom on. Once we get that, it Hits you: This is the real deal.
You see It* in naked mouths, in burdened markets, in death cells & cathedrals; we all await the same thing.
I saw It last week in a wee apartment & momma with sick child,
saw It crying in the Street yesterday outside a Cafe: a man sat in Crossword puzzles; his face sunk. A couple in phones, not touching shoulders like Love sits; she refused cake, he shrugged, got a green mango ice cream, the silence only stopped now and then when the happy eyed waiter grinned. He grinned as he walked between polka-dotted giant cups perched in high wooden open cabinets and acrylic fern;
we diced snakes & ladders at this Cafe called Narcos. Hmm. No drugs, just us in chilled sweaters and hungry for chat as mothers and daughters can be when needing to know we are loved – no conditions, no time to comb hair. There was that need, to taste a satisfaction…..
a diamond waiting to be sharved (just made that word) ;
It….is like Water waiting to Fall, like a Niagara e’en. We say, What. That….! But we turn into terrorists at Traffic messes, we become brooding hens over interruptions, we snarl at headlines, and run like headless chicken when ignored. Oh and this – we absolutely evangelize on the meanness of God when there’s an earth disaster, then we build Cathedrals of mistrust….
It was there yesterday at Happa Stationers‘- guy in dull red cap o’er few flat locks, he strung them over his shoulder, his face dead-fire, as we traded notes for exam accessories for my Kitsy,
she with eyes like stars over an unknown future. Some people are Bearers of Good. They go like a Lighthouse searching the dark:
we retrace steps back home, the sun is warm in our cold toes. Yea an Indian cold. Cold enough to shiver my pigeon;
am scared to read the papers – they lie face down in a jute bag under chair turned to the trees outside, as if asking these skies for Noah’s rainbow;
today’s unopened Times sun bathes next to Rosie, with her 50+ tiny spiky leaves and rose pouting…..
like us Humans rearing for relief.
We’ve schooled our Self to hiss like serpents in gardens of Grace. We rap our own knuckles if we fall prey to God’s Love. We skid, stop stare like rabbits caught in headlights, stammering- afraid to give in to Humanity’s best-masked need:
(Terrified of what we do not know, what we do know holds us safe among ‘relatables‘; eaters of edible bad news);
I saw It Staring at me via a Cartwoman selling tomatoes. No Cross tattoo in her throat like some of us Church goers host, no prayer beads except rich busy fingers at brinjal and coriander leaf, like she were a branch off Him who made her veggies! As if there was nothing to fear. Yeah her purpose to be the Bearer of Grace.
Yeah I can talk of Love and Valentine trophies all day but if I didn’t receive this Thing, I wouldn’t know how to give it. ‘IT’ …a 5 lettered word one sees best on a Hill far away.
Soon we’ll be doing Lenten fasts and Anthems to woo It back in our lanes, aye Grace– lurking in corners like a lost Lover, a jealous one, aching to forgive, bless, heal, restore, love:
aching that we believe *Its reach, Its depth, Its width, Its unfathomable Power to raise the Human Spirit from the Store Rooms of hell.
Yea, yes- the most under-rated, least accessed, the Greatest Human need there is- Grace:
Love always follows. No matter the odds.
Grace : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. b : a virtue coming from God. c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.http://www.merriam-webster.com › grace
He wore long curls under a hair band and old fashioned jeans with wide trousers folded in a hem that half sagged as if unsure of the Times. Sunlight fell in his uncombed locks needing a wash but it didn’t matter. It had an educated look about it, casual disgrace. It was the funeral of a dear brother,
we stood around the sunny open air chapel Gate#1, wanting to weep but the sun shone hard. Tall trees above us burned lemon gentle yellow. “It is well with my soul,” we sang. The lyrics fell into us, there’s no other way to say it. Funerals of good people do this to me.
The man with the locks stood like a statue two feet from where I leaned on a pillar. He hadn’t moved; his shoulders crouched with either fatigue or sorrow. He must be a close relative? The chapel steamed with hushed love.
VJ looked like Peace in his casket strung with garlands, wreaths, roses, jasmine bouquet, posies, petals in the floor around – it wasn’t like a mourning, it was a Graduation. A cousin broke down as he paid tribute, a niece, a sister, a classmate, colleagues, more wreaths- they crowded now in the floor like an unruly garden. No one stirred, light shifted.
Two hours had gone by, the man with long curls stood like a rock his arms curled in at the fist. I lost sight of him then saw him again at the burial – he got as close as he could then moved politely away hugging himself, why was I looking at him. Everyone grieved soft. Polite smiles, and gentle farewell. The sky, a stark baby blue covered everything in more Light;
He moved closer to where we stood with VJ’s wife and daughter, then he hugged VJ’s wife with burrowing sobs. The daughter didn’t know who he was, he didn’t fit in with any of the groups here- work teams, relatives, church folk. The sobs mutated, no one else was crying that way. We had cultured tears, in the back of our eyes and throats. VJ was that kind of guy, he wouldn’t have wanted noise, or loud wishes. He was a tree planted by streams of living waters. A tree that bore fruit in quiet neat ways. Not spluttering in the earth, but growing gently.
The stranger caught my eye for a quick moment as he stood back and wiped his tears; his hands were large, sunburnt, like his face with wide cheek bones and thick hair held back in fine wire band. Then he hung back a bit under tall trees swaying in occasional gust of breeze. February felt hot and cool at the same time in the cemetery with hundreds of memoirs of Life by our feet; not a place to discuss things in decibels. You wanted to rest, exhale.
The man wore a red and blackish windcheater over a once white Tee. Not 6 ft tall; wide shouldered, lowered gaze in the walk where others gathered to say things to VJ’s family, ‘visit us,‘ that kind of thing. The man lingered, not looking at anything in particular, then he slow-turned to leave.
Later we heard no one knew him at all. What was he, who? Perhaps…
a person blessed by VJ. Maybe a wanna be musician whom VJ heard out. Maybe he gave him some kind of help, he had that look about him: gratitude and pain.
Or maybe, maybe he was a chronic funeral crasher, identifying best among sadness. He seemed at peace in tears, not awkward in Grief’s ways. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I’ve seen them- some of us humans who fit in between lives of others, and we identify best in pain. Here we can weep out loud and not be misunderstood. Here there is solace, here there are grounds to linger in, in awe at loss. At farewells, at sermons that whisper at the Other Life, at the kind of Love that happens where we stare at that edge of the coffin. We are all one here, here there is no caste, creed, other separations of Humanity. Here we are one at this place where Life gazes at death, how futile even that is- when the spirit has gone ahead. It was apparent- VJ was not there. His absence a presence so loud you wanted to applaud his transition, his earth days done so well, and him now with God whom he worked for all his life.
The stranger’s face followed me home; we talked briefly about him. Then I had a headache and curled up in bed, but had to spill my thoughts here, blog. Perhaps:
between the Living and the Dead is a Race of Humanity belonging to neither (the living nor the dead); the corridors between the Two narrow down to one fine line and there they are- a People that identify best in places like Here, where pain is an acceptable emotion.
Perhaps. Though it is most likely this was a person VJ helped in some significant way, he was so like Christ, gentle steel and hard work, not choosing to be called Reverend; his songs hauntingly beautiful like his smile that said all. A man of few words, almost shy of being heard too much, except of the Christ he loved. Just the kind of man who reached out to strangers with no name…
(Few years ago VJ’s wife had been hit by a racing biker, hit bad enough, head injury, fractures. VJ did not breathe one word against him, no law suit, nothing. ‘The brother had something on his mind, surely. Else the accident wouldn’t have happened. I asked the Lord to bless him..” VJ said in our home months after the accident, not one trace of anger in him).
Now I’m thinking what if the stranger was that biker; but my thoughts they do run wild.
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