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The Deadliest Contagion

My Article published in DOVE TALES: LITERARY JOURNAL OF THE ARTS

Pic: DoveTales Journal Resistance/ Summer Edition Aug 2020


The Deadliest Contagion: writing for peace, rayla noel:

That first time I watched ‘Gandhi’, one scene followed me out of the theater door: the one with native police and advancing marchers. Row after row, they went down battered and bloodied, and not one of them raised an arm in defense.  Martin Luther King Jr.  said it was this Salt March movement that deeply influenced his own philosophy of civil disobedience. Gandhi’s handful of salt at Dandi would change the way we read Resistance.

Shifting Plates

When I was 8 years old we lived in a rental home next to land lady Vanima’s cottage

She wore a 7 yard sari and gold anklets to underline her ‘high’ caste. How we even got to rent their place beats me, but if our shadow so much as fell across them on certain nights/days there was serious ritual cleansing that followed. Vanima would chant out loud, cover her head, and slam her front door against ills that might arrive at her from us. My mother was a teacher and my father worked a few miles away in a coastal town we visited every weekend, but on week days we had to brave our new address. Both our front steps ran together. Curiously, we shared the same walls and well—the projecting concrete brickwork over the top of well just about covered her face from ours. It was ridiculously awkward…...read more

The Deadliest Contagion https://writingforpeace.org/rayla-noel/

Developing empathy and peaceful activism through creative writing

Oil Painting : Shalom https://writingforpeace.org/rayla-noel-2/

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I respect you..

…your time here, your life; it maybe far different from mine, yet here for a breath we meet, brothers / sisters in a time like ne’er before…

I respect that your presence, your heart is the physical manifestation of God; we are so alike, we are different but alike in ways too many to not remember. I respect that we walked this year together, torn, mended, healing, broken, like dawns and dusks, we like oceans and shore lines .. crashing building castles; our prints settle in an earth in a time we will never forget. We may never meet but we have, here, now, this new day. And I stare at these lines that spill me to a person I might hear from, I might not. I stare at all this with respect.

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Emotional Civilization

I’ve been intrigued by Olivia Laing’s article ‘How to be alone’, which yelled for attention in my Google search for global pulse few months ago.

E.Hopper’s Night Hawk. Net pic

***

We have been a planet of People Groups: Consumers/Givers/Sitters/ Standers/ Travellers/ Chatterers… We talked of things we knew;


now it feels like we are Letters we never knew we could write, read by people we may never see, and it all breathes close enough to be real. 


Quoting O.Lang, “The weird gift of loneliness is that it grounds us in our common humanity. However frightened we may feel we have never been less alone.” 

(Her words stand tall and stark among all our comment on life issues, ach! Things more devastating than Covid: racism, depression …after the Mr. Floyds and recent spate of suicides, oh Economic crises et al, we know better);

Lang covers Ed. Hopper’s painting ‘Night Hawk’, along with twitter’s colorless version of Hopper’s Hawk in the age of Coronavirus..’ 


Ugh but yes, the aspect of Colour draining from us as we grow 3 feet from each other and gaze at new leaf, beetle, ant for sweet newness,


this is war on wars of Likes, Shares, Claps, War on self impositions where we once screamed to be heard, known, read…


Today there’s a mirror on the wall and it edits nothing of our Global Face staring at Us like never before:  


a Stare that visits possibly once every Era.

And this. That we have never been less alone:


here I am every human, mid new madness and uncertainty:

this new Status is louder than the noise of everything else we’ve known. May we all live to look back on these times as vital chapters of Emotional Civilisation…..if we have the time to….(more) ..

In our Quest for Peace, maybe our hunger will lead us to what truly fulfills: oh, our thirst quench our aimless dissatisfaction. Maybe poverty of spirit is necessary to strip us of materialism. Maybe when we are weak we are strong. Maybe when Feet are cut away we find Wings that rise us up to new Air more varified than Oxygen. It has a new name: It breathes the breath of a Three letter Word: God. How could we step in the divine if we think we are only physical? Loneliness is a Reflector. We are the moon to a Light too strong to look at. We are met with the silence of the sun and it burns into our skin a new awareness of life as it now is. We are not in control anymore. Not parliaments, not horses and kings can decipher a pokey horned virus that has us gagging in masks and gear we wouldn’t have touched last year this time. We’ve been paintings in the wall. We’ve been silenced by the bleating of social approval, but not anymore.

I look in the mirror and see a new me, she is unafraid of honesty…. time is way too short to waste in formalities. We are more than paint and walls. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved/ loves us so wide and deep and long… it reaches through all my anxiety…

Love like that makes me need a moment alone, to just digest the Unseen. Its where we are each headed: Its Face is pure unadulterated Love. Love unlike ours’ …Pursuing, waiting, healing, forgiving, eternal & beyond the embrace of a Society that is perhaps too numbed to not be suspicious of Power like that. Choose Life or Death, Love or Hate, indifference and acceptance. How many choices have we left? How many days in which to choose…

yea may these be vital moments of Emotional Civilisation.

Rayla N.

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Those school girl days …

So I get serial visits from childhood. My mates in ‘tails & school blue. Ashok in red bicycle and forehead lock, his bright eyes lit up with mischief that time he asks Sis M. why they wear veils and wouldn’t she please lift that veil for us once please? Sis M. blushes pink red purple and glares at him through her brows but you know she isn’t angry.

Unsplash

***

Yes we got in a school mates W/A group; we see new pictures of old friends, Yesteryears tiptoe in, loud in my mental ears…

Ranjana the fabulous, first she wore little plaits then her straight black hair grew out like a sheath cut blunt to shoulder. We were 3 ft tall… she sent me little cards strung with felt tipped flowers. Then she started talking and when she did whoa…. it was interschool debate, podium glossy words: I remember thinking she’s the most brilliant girl I’ve ever..! Large dark dreamy eyes that looked beyond our little confines into a wider world waiting out there. She is our class Genius, the life of the party, still is!

Devasmita, my ‘twin’ some said for our similar dark rimmed glasses and hair, but nah. This one’s our class Beauty, and a Sport! We did Sack Race and Badminton together.(“3 leggeds..” she reminds me. What sweet sport! Now they have Fear Factor🤯😅) Deva still has pure marble like skin, laughter rimmed lips, soft brown eyes and wit that needs just few words, with sass mind you. Do not forget we’re the late 70s high schoolers. It was Sholay and ‘Yaadon Ki barath’.. Bobby, Oh Zeenat Aman at her best. Hair worn in side bangs, xxx ear hoops and platform heels simmering under 34″ bell bottomed pants.

Who wore the widest bells? Unsure. The largest starched collars…? It was somethings between Elvis Presley and Amitabh B. The guys wore swag!….oh c’mon ofcourse you did, still do. I’m amazed they’ve not lost the gloss of Pre- Man days. They were Man – Cubs, and they were/ are big brothers.

Were there in- house romances? I’m certain. They were good days, as in Innocence. ‘Dates’ were eyes looking away in corridors and sports field, hehe.

Vimal (Design & more) marries a Beauty with brains, she’s a Doc who also Motor cross country races for heavens sakes, ofcourse he would; Vim so like his Ma. Wide Bambi doe eyes, dark lashed in high cheek-boned face, pure like Gujarati ghee, untouched by materialism. On saturdays, aunty would pack dhoklas in a tiered stainless steel tiffin carrier. Haven’t you had dhoklas? Then you must. Vimal sent us pictures wherever he went in the world… pics in garden chair or mountain rides.. he remembered birthdays, yelled when you forgot, he kept your scribbles and holiday letters (mine were filled with fish tales he grumbled) threatening to use them when we became an MF Hussain, haha.

Hey my classmates are beautiful people inside out. Joyati, our very own Bong-babe soft haired long plaits to the waist, voice like a song. You never heard her yell, her shirt always white, like her socks ‘ neath blue pinafore. Glad they did not give us ties;

this was 10 kms from Coastal Odisha, humid monsoons and summers ripe with mango, oh Lassi thickened with coconut gratings, and cashew if you were fortunate. I loved the rain, especially when it fell in the Grotto in Momma Mary’s smiling face like she were doing tears of joy. Ay they were days of serious fun, and some.

Exams were the monster. For me it was Hindi, and Math. The details are deadly. I felt hounded by heaven and hell; my mates were brilliant. I gawked at their intellect, their knowledge of laws and physic, of mercury and Algae, trigonometric squigglies and theories. Who was I, why ? I wondered, but not these Mates mine they laughed at impossibilities. Vimal was it, or Bhabani…. hummed like a bee/ dropped book piles in the floor?? Oh Bhabani: school Princy actually liked sparring with him. Sis Rosalie, she had this little Maddona smile that said much when Bhabani would not tuck shirt in, he’d grin back. They did these silent half-smile matches where I suspect they let each other win. I’ve never seen anything like that since. They were 2 Gladiators, well matched… never mind the decades between them. One was a curly haired tall teenager who could not cut his hair up above ears please, simply because he couldnot, he said. Then the thing about his footwear. It hurt him, he said. He tried once or twice. It was something with his feet. Not possible to wear shoes… did he succumb finally to Sis. R? No? Yes? I cannot remember. But the memoirs of those convos curl with humor.

Here were a generation without Google, WA, & Asphalt gamers. The Net was what fishermen brought home, and Apple was still just a fruit. Phones were black creations on a side table, you went to it. You “rang” it, then you “hung up”. How you hung up determined your mental state. There were no Emojis, just physical stickers you sewed on your jean knees, or stuck on books, on bikes. Books were everything, libraries ruled. I mean ruled. ( And you didn’t know to say Rock for Compliment) …

Oh Encyclopedia sat there like emperors and their wives & children, decked in gold edged flat greens and blues. Readers Digest stared at you, vying for your eyes along with Panchatantra and Cabulliwallah. Enid Blyton though! Some of us ate her pages feeding our soul with Adventure that had nothing to do with Bungee jumping. Horror was stories we retold in verandas, some moonlit nights. Sis Rosalie did our literature …. ” ancient Mariners’ seas .. a ghostly galleon…” she knew how to whisper, how to lift her chin like a hymn being sung, then she’d stand all regal with one foot nestling in her other foot; one wrist on hip, waiting for us to shhhhlisten as we met Wordsworth, Chesterton & RK Narayan….

Surprised at the recall here. I haven’t thought of her Coleridge albatross in decades! But I’m stoked, bro as our kids say.

Nah and we didn’t stoop to auto correct, hey what was a Comp? Lap tops were exactly that. Tops of laps. Here we hid lil notes,

Paper slips that horrific day .. when we didn’t know the name of an Island. But Bhabani. He knew. Ofcourse, he was Guru General Cool. Did he wear a lil ring on little finger? Unsure. But he knew name of that Island; how he spelled it was his own. None of us recognized the name though Ms. Shameem did. She hid face in her white dupatta wrapped around one arm: “You people…” she shut her eyes carefully inside pale pink coral glasses, knowing we had all carefully copied out Bhab’s version of ‘Sacremento‘. Then she slow- swung in my direction and said in sorrow, “You too?”

2 things here. I was official Church Mouse, as decreed by Class officials, not just because I was quiet and shy but too, my existence represented the church in all its forms- my mom was Mrs.David the gentle woman with guitar and songs of Jesus- I had sinned. We had also done Ceaser’s famous Et Tu Brutei… I felt like a murderer of trust. Uh.

Net pic.

We had seen worse days. The time we wrote in the walls of our class with raw mango: were we angry about something? Sure there was rage to follow: Sis Ro. standing there in the grounds by St.Vincent in marble looking down on us as we stood socially distanced from each others elbows, oh spread out for Primary and Pre- primaries to see and know. The eastern Indian sun never fell so harsh and long, food in our lunch boxes curled with waiting… other teachers tut-tutted, we examined our shoe’s buckle and lace, our socks and knees, we pondered on the sand. I forget if we had to clean up classroom before or after this Runway show, but we did. Aye, ‘Ratilal (our tall aristocrat) refused to partner with his broom’, someone reminded us this morning. It should’ve been a great video, but those days ‘viral’ was only a flu’ and ‘U tubes’ lived in Chemistry labs; though now we have memos in our chips inside,

dearest Lord God, souvenirs of such days You made…

You made Shailaja and how come she doesn’t change one tiny bit, her head held high on a neck that’s still slender like the rest of her: a Princess still with that same peace about her, as if all the changes around do not matter. Patsy, she has that quality too, she… our nightingale and abs.charmer, now a teacher herself …. we were “Little Women” together,

with Sis.Margaret scowling at the gorgeous Alpana Watwe for not liking her green and red costume. “And hasn’t God made red flowers with green leaf?!” Sis M. rallied. (Alpana flushed: didn’t she know she’d look great even if they gave her a sack to wear?!) I worried about my ‘necklace’. It was a pale pink large pearly thing I got from where I’ve no recall. My role was Hannah the maid, in this great black velvet dress from costume wardrobe; it reeked of mothballs and damp wood… now I thought it needed my pearls. Sis M’s ferocious black eyes went through my skull then she burst into laughter; she nodded at my odd pearls.

I still wear it inside, a Reminder that we are what grew us. Teachers like Ms Brenda D’Coutho too, not just fairytale pretty but respectful. I wasn’t a star student, but no one laughed. If they did, it was friendly fire. It built. It did not break your back. We learned the simple things. Oh Sujata, our Ms. Joy. Today she is a Wizard in a Tech world, the first time we saw her she was in little red ribbons. Today I saw a pic of her in stylish grey crop and sweater looking like a Desi Hollywood Halle Berry, just wow .. she’s designed Helicopters?!

Here we are decades later. Yesterday Ashok Lohia actually now a grown up and ace Businessman thanked me for helping him draw his bio practical book cockroach, and I teared up thinking how the core of us never changed.

Shailaja : “Change is inevitable but
all look good. And there is that special something about everyone which hasn’t changed. 💕

Ranjana: “Yes that something special…that only an old friend can tell!”

I could say some more but the words want to stare at each other and just say thankyou. Thankyou my mates, for still being there.

Stay precious, stay blest.

RaylaRN

P.S.

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Text- Prayers

Today I prayed with Marija- Serb/Russian- she in an empty church (Prague), me here in my Indian Lockdown. We could not talk: Marija had a cough and is much better though still cannot speak. We text- prayed, in a beautiful silence.

Where Marija prayed today with me and her phone.

***

She is a gorgeous girl with a heart of gold; a classical pianist. A star all by herself and as we pray she introduces me to the whole new world we all are in: a world that has crept closer than ever before in a silence that reeks with fear and need: a silence that demands to be filled. We pray for her friend Serg. who is recovering from the worst: for the little children in her classroom and others even here. We go to the altar of an earth keeling; we have no words enough. We have no pride left, no ambition and self. We are as one, muted, stunned into new needs. Has Heaven changed? No.

Thankyou Marija for this.

***

It is the same light in Czechoslovakia that also will fall here a few hours from now. We all still spin around the same sun. It falls on us all the same way; the way it fell for centuries.

Emptied pews, memoirs of finger prints and feet that went through these places; tears, laughter, weddings, babies, christenings, flowers, sermons in candle lit shadows rising to the rafters like hymns;

now they are wooden witness to Marija’s whispers as she kneels for her Prague and my India and all our nations and friends and peoples….

…varnished mahogany(?) gleaming in the flash of Marija’s phone. I’d asked for a few pictures. We have never personally met, but she is blog friend and fellow prayerer at Haven Fellowship.

There are angels in marble here and there in life, in cathedrals and parks. And there’s us. We aren’t angels, we are real time people with lungs and whispers. So we pray for each other; for employment issues and food, for healing and cure; for peace and the knowledge of the saving grace of God that knows no death.

M.& I finish praying but I realise the prayer must go on like a back burner, even though we say Amen via WhatsApp and go on to dinner here. Monsoon is good this year maybe; there’s a rose bud in our balcony. New sapling from forgotten pots; like prayers they lift their stems to a laden sky. No we didnot see any Neo-comet. We saw a family of parrots in gaudy green & blood red beaks. Everything looks like prayers to me. Everything seems to be asking heaven for its Saviour:

as I write this it’s all I can think of. Yes I’m praying for us all, that more than life and death we will experience the Love of God that transcends our very need for mortality. And that He will make a way for us to feel for each other in prayer. In the end it’s the most powered possession humanity owns.

(Below: Marija, playing WayMaker).

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16. The Bible.

What happens when people pray

The day my mother walked out of her skin, she breathed once twice then her hand in mine grew cold, that day Eternity walked close in my narrow space. Was it co-incidence that rays streamed from a room ventilator to where she lay, her last breath so unlike death?

I wanted to grieve, but light stared down thru that ventilator and all I could do hear was the peace of our father, in heaven. My ma was not finished, she had just begun, this amazing woman I saw pray-

when I was little and prayed long prayers. people were afraid to ask me to pray. I trusted God with every detail. We had no secrets. No privacies. I remember them all choking with laughter as I asked the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob to walk thru our little house by the sea and bless bless everything… from packets of chicklet chewies sent by aunt Rosie from Bahrain &, asking Him to bless all of us even our panties, I said in fervent prayer on my 3 year old knees ..

Unsplash

***

It is funny how a child can walk thru that wall between God and humanity, without shadows of doubts, but as I grew I was afraid- of those shadows, they – became a kind of god. Those shadows in the valley of defeat. They are neat I’m telling you- they are sweet- they are cool chill and teach us to be afraid. I was a child and now am grown. And I have seen us die everyday in all kinds of rooms. We have seen us pray all kinds of prayers.

Tenderly guide us‘ my mother would sing after she prayed -her voice quivering. I wondered why her voice did that quiver- every single time she prayed? Was she scared of Yahweh- was it something He said? Sometimes she’d go quiet as if listening in the silence to her God, as if He were saying secrets in her ears and she’d weep these tears…..they shone her face. she was crying not sad- these were tears you tear when theres things you cannot recover from.

These days when I pray I have no sensible words to ask . The wall between Him and me is a lesser mask, theres no stiff jaw rule no regulation but as the moment begins, I’m searching heaven ……in the quiet/ that begins when I open my soul there’s a silence. The silence of heaven- and something begins I have no words for but I will try… something asking me if I truly love him.

I say yes and He God of heaven, says if have love, then I will pray not for bags of rice and health of my children but for my 1.20 billion…..

yes! I tremble in reply but He isn’t stopping. In the silence He weeps and the sound of that is an ocean on its knees, in Gethesemane, for humanity. Come closer, He says. I look and see, calvary. I cannot move but He reaches within me/

His feet flowing crimson past nailed sins… ” it’s all for free-& hard to believe … I’ve paid your price; not just an Indian 1.20 billion but a planet full . Death has no victory nor the grave. Why are you all so afraid?” He asks, His eyes full of the tears- of heaven: Tears you tear when theres things you cannot recover from.

And I see what I never understood before –what happens when you pray. Like that time with my Ma…when

when heaven walked close in my narrow space. And light stares down in the face, of our valley of the shadow of doubt shhhl

in the silence screaming in our ear; not life nor disease nor hunger nor fear can stand

the most sacred request of all: the God of heaven asking us to pray for All His children…for each other. What can separate us from that kind of love? We can..

we who will not stop to pray for each other/ But Eternity walks close in these walls between us …..a space growing closer than e’er before. And I hear its deafening silence in my ear, won’t you stay awhile with me and pray?

It is a question I cannot recover from/ it is, a voice from heaven. My human selfish dark could ne’er produce that light streaming in from windows of heaven/ like that day my mother walked with Him who now looks in, at our lives -He’s asking in a silence we may be in….

Won’t you step out of your own skin & pray for another? Not in the distant future but Today….

It is time

To hold on to the good in us. To remember mercies and love. And faithfulness. It’s that time to practice peace. And pray like we believe prayer works. It does. Everytime we healed, someone prayed. Everytime our heart of stone melted, it was someone praying. Someone changing the stone of us into a pleasant pasture. What a tragedy that we believe drug- related elation, rather than what made us. It is time

Net pic.

***

..to rest, lean on the magnitude of true Love. I have lived a while now. I’ve seen good and bad and ugly. In you and me. I have eaten nice days that melted down to garbage. And I’ve been kissed by green pasture still waters, my soul has tasted of the Lords goodness and old fashioned as it may seem to someone’s intelligence, darling all our intellect cannot even begin to explain the goings on of mortal breath.

Yep. It’s time to pray. To know God is there here within the arms of our screaming need; Lord heal our lands, our diseased core. Why we fear death is because we know there is more beyond these days, & all our material ways. ‘Neath clothes and head and shoulders & knees & toes, we are creations made. We are more than bags of bones descended from ape and tapes of theories. We are more than doctrines and philosophies. In the core of your pillow you know, you know… in the stark of night, you look out your window asking the meaning of it all, and you know there is more. There is your beautiful mind and it will not die in a box. It leaves into territories we must seek now before late cannot get later.

It is time beloved, to not just pray for life but that also in death we will be safe. We are more than corpuscles and conditional peace. What are we, what is man, his woman, her child: do we know?

In the core of the night with stars, we wonder twinkling star shining bright, what you are…? Just dust. We are more. We write and deduce, we think and celebrate. We justify and keel. We are storms and wars, deciders of things we negate, but this:

a little piece of virus has us running like rabbits into our holes where we beg grace. Our theories and kings, all our horses and men, cannot put us together again.

In our distress we become murderers. Killers of decency. Not just now but thru’ history we read that when we are pushed beyond limits we are limited in our morality. Then we know there is good and bad. If there is good there is a Source. And it’s not us. There’s evil and there’s a source and its not us.

Something made a nice man a demon.

Something made a terrible man an angel.

Get a little closer, listen to my breath. Tell me the source of that and I’ll tell you the source of what draws humans together in the presence of a crisis. There is a Power wider than the girth of the earth spinning on an axis at her tummy. There are polarities geographically, spiritually. We have tasted the bitter dregs of evil and we have sniffed a sniff at some good. We have accepted the powers of Ugh but we are suspicious of God because He wouldn’t like us nestling with Him with all our horns and tails on.

We hate the idea of a Christ that upset the grave. “Bah humbug!”

We suspect His love that spurns evil. We would believe every other, not Him. Though we thoroughly blame Him for all the evil we invited in our living rooms. I’ve done it too.

But it’s time. Time to wipe our glasses and shed embarrassment at being created. The grave has no shame. That last word belongs only in this fleeting land of human existence.

..

Raylarn – insta.

New every morning

Refresh my soul, let the doors of you, open to Peace. Let everything within breathe Grace. May our mind lean on Him whose mercies never fail, they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Greater than all my bounteous lack. His power in my weakness, oh the fact of that. Not I but Christ in me, not the dark, but the Light in me. ReNew every morning soul, stay blest.

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**

Earth Buds.

To all new moms and babes unborn

To the new dads and pulse of pitter-patter running thru’ your heart already.

To spaces in you owned by scans in your lives, in these uncertain days, ah the joy of that beat-beat-beat in the wombs of life,

Dedication to my darling Samanths & A.

***

In the swelling toes of our Dance, in the tender belly of our Song that throbs in the placenta of Divine Touch,

Aye we are Watched o’er, we are grown everyday, we are Babes ourself in these Rooms as we wait: Rest. Receive days of Grace.

Pitch perfect Prayer for July

I tried to pray today, it was like going to a store and not wanting anything any more except a counter that could take requests for giving. Giving thanks.

RNoel

*

In all the recent Mayhem and Jittery June Viral chaos, the centre of me sat down to stare at another month for all of us. Suddenly the things that used to scare me don’t anymore. How come? The people that used to taunt, seem to have lost fang and fuss. Now how?! I don’t know. The rabid need for money seems to have bitten off it’s own head. Sure we all still need the MO but something’s changed and we’re a little less orthodox about our own goodness. We’re all a little more orthodox about our own littleness. We are maybe more crazy and yelly 😅 if that’s a word. We are kinder, if that’s possible. Those who never spoke now speak. The insanely noisy have become quiet. Me, I begin to pray and end up speechless. I remember my Prayer List last year this time. How I’ve changed, haven’t we all?

July, how’re you going to be? Will I be pretty, will I be rich… here’s what he said to me.. que sera sera… if you remember that song.

Meanwhile our 19 year old heals in new ways. The hyperaction you see in below video has decreased way more than we thought possible. He’s still pitch perfect, and a crazy guy for calender memory. And a whole host of things.

Am grateful for the tremendous healing he’s had over the past month. We’re able to play like we used to, chat .. .

He actively hates Covid for the restrictions its imposed on our outdoor lives but home has become a more beautiful place with its quiet surroundings and green. Our lil gardens grow with the rains this monsoon; trees fill with new kinds of birds. Yeah I am speechless this July, with deep need for better days yes, but also gratitude for the million gifts we may not even know we were born with.

This July I’m praying we will know and use our gifts well. What a tragedy to not notice the stash within us.

This July what’s my personal Pitch

Compromise

He took it and took it, then he didn’t. The last time we met he showed us his telescope with Saturn rings and Jupiter all in his panelled rooms with fresh flowers sometimes, and a dog named Bin. He ate sunflower seeds and loved the colour yellow. S.J was your regular above average looking superman that fixed bicycle tyres and switches. He baby sat your kids and took out your trash. He was handsome and brilliant, he talked to you as if you were gorgeous; he wasn’t a flirt, he was nice, dependable. When SJ walked out his terrace and died of depression they said, he was not compromising anything anymore, he just couldn’t take it nor fake it. We’ll never know, but as more and more people get nooses and poison concoctions, more people fall to depression and even heart attacks, I’m wondering that we cover our sadness with the laughter we ache for. I wish we could talk out loud, ask for help. I wish. I wish.

FMF WRITERS

They said the world would end yesterday?

Never mind. Mayan calendar, Julian’s calender. Dec2012, and another earthlike planet rearing to have crashed here: though after all we’ve gone through recently, anything feels plausible! I did fervently look at sky now and then.

And maybe ‘they’ were right. The world as I knew it has ended. If there’s a day left, perhaps we should consider giving voice to people who wait to be heard; our arms and feet for the thing God birthed us for.

I wonder what your day is like.

Monday seems chilly, overcast here in a city multiplying its Covid count. Deep within is a hearth that whispers ‘All is well’; the trees outside look the same with more birds in them than I ever saw: green winged red heads, who are they? Brown feathered white spotted falcon family bird flying down at squirrel.

I haven’t been able to blog last week, and mayn’t be able to till I finish interviews then manuscript for a book on burns’ survivors- their past tragic, now, stunning amazing, post-reconstructive surgery and counsel by some fantastic humans here in Bangalore, India.

Unsplash, thankyou!

***

So I will be away a bit; cannot say more here. It is going to be risky traveling in and out of lanes now being triple watched for ‘community – transmuting virus..’ : venturing out is something! I saw people with no smiles because of masks, saw a young man completely drunk on a Hero Honda and he revving that bike like a maniac, eyes and mouth working deliriously.

The worse life gets the more we value its worth. I’m grateful for every bit of sun and work still left to do among a mass of humanity still beautiful.

(Will be @ comments section, so do write in. Apologies for times I’ve taken off there)

FMF Writers

Happy Fathers Day

To all the dads everywhere and here: have a beautiful meaningful one.

And this ones for you my very own Daddy Robert David:

pics taken by my sis.

( photo below)

Silly banter it went on and on. With only you I could go that way, with decades between us, you were the little brother I never had, or the big brother, but thru it all you were and are and will always be that block I am the chip of: my father my dad my bestest Friend.

At this restaurant, we were exchanging all of each others rings. …
Food took so long to arrive, we exchanged story after story. For the life of me I cant remember what we were talking here. But we were hungry. I was in a sari so it must’ve been somebody’s event
You ended up with all the rings that lunch, love you forever and ever my Dad
Our last bonfire together? I cant look at beautiful things without thinking of you. I cant go thru ugly things without remembering you. Nor go through Fathers Day without saying thank you for never leaving me alone. You’re with me and our lives. That’s so you. Your music and voice. You’re laughter and tears. Your joy and strength they meet me everyday in different ways. I miss you like crazy but somehow you’re with me. What a guy to have forever as my Dad. My dad.
Our last pic together, taken by my husband Jeff. Dad was not talking much, was very ill; wanted a ride.

Miss you terribly Dad today. Where you are, can you see this? We talked about heaven and how we’d love there forever. You asked if I’d know you? I said ofcourse I’d know you. You said we’d be ‘Ray’ and ‘Robbie’ … but would I be your daughter? I laughed and said how nice it’d be to have you as my brother …. haha! You weren’t amused as much as I was; and I realised a daughter was something too precious to exchange, or a father. And I want to hug you close and say … God who gave you to me as my Dad wouldn’t take that from me/ us. And that in heaven our tears will be sweeter our love richer for the presence of God who brought us closer.

I love you, love love you my Dad.

Do not weep for the wounded

but look to the Wounder, how low he falls.

My brother who died at the feet of evil? Everyday his children rise stronger strong;

Unsplash.

***

but that one with hell as his mentor: weep for how he was low, so low.

My slain brother lives tall eachday, his children rise, watched by the heav’ns of his Maker.

The Wounded weep but they sleep sweet at night; ach! they weep yell at the hell in ones who steal the very thing that could’ve made their own children rise,

nah today I did not weep for my brother, but for humans who go low so low they must murder their own eternal life,

for these, weep.

Where now?

Just park. Lay your handles in the wall, stay in. It’s not impossible to do. It’s the way it is now. How do we do this:

unsplash

The park and Lizac stores, they’re half open. Garim Mall and Ooga’s kitchen, Lily House plants and Maya’s Stop for groceries, they’re all there. No one’s left. They’re quiet. Raghu the frig repair man called to say his Ma disappeared yesterday. Then he called now to say she still hadn’t returned.

My throat feels sore, hmm. Quarantine my heart Lord God, let me get off my highways a bit and lean in on You.

***

FMF WRITERS

My daughter a grandmother at 20!

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??

My daughter and her grand daughter. Life is beautiful.
oh this is K’s daughter a few months ago. A gorgeous stray darling that followed Kitsy and stole our hearts. After a prolonged meeting we named her Ivory Gabriella. That last name for the angel she was, is to our little one who adores all animals. Now she says God heard her prayer cuz she asked Him to let Ivory have puppies! She had 3 this evening. Shaggy headed little 4 legged scamps with wet noses and tremble paws. No way they’re getting in my heart. The last time I melted and we had six fat paws growing by the second all over our sitting room, with neighbours kids taking turns to feed them and pet! Sigh. We are an urban farm. Lockdown very esp has turned my four here into serious birdwatchers, squirrel feeders, cloud watchers, sun set watchers. They also read the news and weather. They eat, pray, venture out a bit, then eat and sleep and encourage the animal kingdom.

***

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.

What dyou do. You want to growl but cuteness overload here caves my heart in. Thankyou Lord for days that can still delight us in ways we might not ask for, but here they are, new every evening. Bless our earth dearest Father, with health and safety and peace.

“Heart sick…yet hopeful..”

I had to haul in 👆above title and a quote below from Frank Bruni (of New York Times) article that stopped me mid-sentence in my random thoughts on the world at large.

…. in a lovely article that connected acts of kindness during the Spanish flu of 1918 to acts of kindness during the current coronavirus pandemic, Jim Dwyer, The Times’s New York columnist, wrote: “In times to come, when we are all gone, people not yet born will walk in the sunshine of their own days because of what women and men did at this hour to feed the sick, to heal and to comfort.”… for more on this by Frank Bruni, a must read. New York Times.

Was the famous Spanish flu also tailed by Migrant Crises and other havoc; why are we different from other Pandemics? Aren’t we more educated, aware, empowered? Yes and maybe that’s both the problem and the solution. My grandma could not have had the same support I as an Indian woman have today, or the same voice, or capacity to hope. We’ve seen good. We’ve received good. Bad as this century might be, we’ve seen some incredible goodness. The more bitter the pill, the sweeter the poem.

If Society ever had it’s own support system it could count on, its now. Yes we have our baddies but they far underwhelm the rest; though a bullet is a bullet, each bullet or act of dis-service reaps a harvest of righteous indignation. Each act of hate weakens itself. Each strike of violence wakens the conscience of Global communities: we shoot neck out of our rabbit holes like meercats. Look at us, we are more than nations, we are slowly morphing into one dialect: the sounds I’m hearing now are not hate but more brotherhood: the kind that would try raise an Abel back from the dead.

Elsewhere and in my own country, there are people praying for each other like never before. We are afraid but we love like never before. We are speechless at poverty and hunger, at homelessness and at new sins with names you and I mayn’t know how to spell. How little we become in the face of global illness, terminal intolerance. And yet, we are prisoners of hope. We are at our worst and at our best.

This lifts my heart,

Stay precious, stay blest.

June already 2 days old?

Warm sun and monsoon swaying in, last year this day what were we doing? Taking a road trip was easy, I remember even accepting a job at an Art Centre earlier last year, what a ride it’s been.

It is quiet,

have you watched a quiet India? Ever? Streets thick with discipline? People sanitised/masked? You can cross streets, shop anytime without dodging crowds. News of price rises rear its nasty head. News of migrant deaths and tragedies surface: a 20 year old walked near 2000 kms from here to another end of India, no not even a cycle trip like last weeks’ teenager who rode her handicapped father a thousand miles home, (yes, ofcourse now they want her in any team that might Olymp.); he got home to his ailing mother, he was bruised and weary to say the least. Then that evening he gets bitten by a snake, and dies?

There is much good too, an earth full of fantastic people who will never be seen because they choose invisibility. People who call to ask how you’re doing, happy cheerful voices full of contagious joy. This June I’m focusing on being grateful for every nice face or letter or call received. Seriously, grateful. Sad yes, but grateful. It’s a Cure all by itself.

°

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‘Do not let your Blog post be your Journal…?’

We had an anniversary, a triple cake treat by the kids, renewed vows solemnized again by our 3 who said they missed being there….

With Kitsys triple delight!
***

There was food like I’ve never cooked, (courtesy Kitsys Culinaries!) rings bought with their little earnings, gifts of card and music, prayers, photographs were taken;

I’m here thinking again on Blog advice (title) given by some Bloggers, and how the times have re-arranged us. Uncertainty hinges everything, one feels the need to celebrate heart on your sleeve, unabashed. Celebrate in the simplest ways, the complex matrix of Love and Life as is; thank the ones who deserve gratitude, bless those who may not, pray for all; ignore ignorance, hate hatred, use fear well, stay safe, honour all. Esp God.

That feeling… all over again, yesterday.
***

Our wedding was an unforgettable event with white bougainvillea falling off trees, poinsettia in the hedges all the way to the chapel with a bell and a young priest who stammered for nervousness; it was surreal. We were 6000 ft above sea level, Mercara before tourism took its routes. That morning, families of clouds breezed through as the bridal march played. We’d never seen anything like that. The elements had come in to play among the pews.

Madikere
***

I cannot help but think Life is a Marriage of Soul and Existence. We’re here like Clouds going through Chapters that turn with Winds of Change. We are way more than victims of ease or disease. We are citizens of kingdoms within and without. The questions we ask are between these kingdoms. The things we feel and write about or do not share are between these kingdoms.

What can I say; there’s rain and hail out side as I wrap this. Lockdown eases, fruit vendor wails for attention at 7 am. You dont want to yell him down, you’re thinking he has no money for rent, or his kids need lunch. It hurts, and it’s going wild in an insane way. It hurts to have cake, it hurts to not be at peace:

we are headed for answers to questions we asked long ago; only who knew these answers would question us. Answers about the meaning of life, and about things more valuable than ‘luxuries’.

Newspaper accounts are chilling. We are getting more introspective than ever. How long will C19 take, 10 years? By which time the Fashion industry, Entertainment and Industry would’ve morphed into Poetry of a greater kind, I’m telling you.

Also Bloggers. We will write about newer things? We mayn’t just skim surfaces of teacups & heart: we may be less shy, less afraid of Fear,Love,Joy,Peace. Words may turn out to be journals. Essential words, documenting Life as is. So yes, no! We may want to Blog-Journal, for the Times that will follow. For Posterity to know what 2020 felt like. For our own selves.

Old words will give birth to new ones: distance for instance. Who knows what will be when it comes to be?

But people of words, will find skills in their head and finger bones like they never thought possible. That and emotion. E’en Faith. And Fear, or the opposite of it. And Love. And the Face of the Invisible.

Essential delights

At the Home, after the last bell rang and the kids clattered down the two or one flight of stairs, their Taylor Frame Slates & cane in place …(you should watch a blind kid run down stairs!) they served red rice with coconut chutney and bitter gourd fried. It was the tastiest thing I’ve ever had; how did they get the acrid rind to taste juicy soft delicious?

Marie Ann the French girl from Meghalaya, an Intern, she could not keep her fingers off the bowl. She put down her fork and knife and went at it with all her fingers.

It was marinated then fried in chillied seasoned curd, onion shreds stir fried with garlic. All this in turmeric seasoning, dried red chillie, rock salt… cook said. I’m sure there was coconut oil involved, and an amount of jaggery.

What I remember best about that moment there in the dining room with gourd delight, was the little silence around lunch and the relief of laughter later. Oh the sharing of recipes, from totally academic people who could not have touched much Cuisine in their life span. The interest shown here! Detailed love for forms of Gourd and its life: both as vegetation and as essential to human peace.

I love that about what good fellowship of food does to us Homosapiens, I especially love when one is surprised by unexpected flavors.

What is man….

Last night as my eldest daughter Vi and I sat talking into the early hours of today, there was this sense of human fragility, of an earth spinning in space, of recent global panic & the puny state of everyday living as we know it.

With rose sapling in our balcony.
***

This morning was woken with a strong sense of God’s love surrounding our home by the trees and little yellow and red bird couple flitting in and out balcony as Jeff sat close, his words and hands warm with Gods love. The landscape outside is sparkling washed after last nights rain and this mornings sun. Why is my heart all hushed, not in a bad way:

Oswald Chambers’ reads in his My Utmost For His Highest – ‘the despair of delight....’ what’s that. Takes a bit to process. (Whoops, it’s actually the Delight of despair😅)

Unsure what these are called,
but theyre least maintenance.

.

I can’t imagine that we’re all sitting pat on a molten core of flames thousands of miles beneath us; can’t imagine that we have gravity- and the moon hasn’t. Am gawking at the fantasticity of bird wings, of Nature and Chaos. Of Viral disaster and how it overturns every thing. Of the power of Change, of Newness in our Present. Of our very Ignorance mid Intellect. Of how little we know of Everything; so

must I go on today as if we all can do without God? D’you care. What are these Posts for, what’m I here for, who are we, are we ours? Have we lived as if we are gods? Are we God’s? After Dust, where will our Spirits home?

Bamboo stalk ‘pot’ picked
from pile @ Haven Fellowship
Cubbon park.

(Acres of bamboo growth
caught fire so they
felled it all.
We got a piece)
Its just grown
an unrelated sprig.
***

As Jeff held my face in his warm hands now I had a sense of his spirit reaching out to mine… an eternal warm spring. Not experienced that as strong as today. Have felt that over the years,

too: with the birth of our first daughter, and subsequent 2 adorable adoptions. There was that Presence & here today, mid heartache for our people, and the futility of watching thousands struggle through pandemic impact…

am sensing His Presence stronger than ever before deep in this valley of Shadows.

With Marija from Prague.
Kitsy our precious daughter at Cubbon that day with the rest of Haven Fellowship, but can you see the bent figure in white shirt in the background? This was on Feb16th 2020.
***

Supersonic Ka-Boom!

Unsplash pic
***

I’m with ears pinned back,

my high frequency senses free-falling:

yesterday this time it* went through parts of Bangalore city, it rattled panes, shook houses; 10+ hours earlier they heard it in Canberra….

a ‘*Supersonic Boom that our Ground & Air forces here in India are puzzled at. It felt like an earthquake in the air around and deep within…. it’s bass explosive rumble was not like any Jet, not like anything I’ve ever heard, “….no it is Cyclone Amphan air pressure impact; no no we do not know...”

My ‘Shalom’
(Peace) for Shil.W.
***

As a Race all of a sudden, we do not know much except mutual questions. The life we knew will not return, but things that offended do not seem to offend now. We as Humans are looking deeper; Prayers are welcomed. Safe is where? Peace is an Essential Commodity like never before. Kabooms are even neighbourly. Tonight if some of us see Clouds throbbing in Neon (actually have seen these from our terrace 5years ago; thought it was local Rock Concert laser beams going hyper high) we may shrug it off as yet another 2020 event. As a Cluster of Survivors we are gaining immunity to bad news, Shock absorbers all kicking in.

What’d Hitler have done; or any of those big boys of war? This is the Grandma of War, and she is Villain non parallel and yet Kah-boom!- she has changed us into Hermits for Peace like never before in the History of the human race.

Neighbours begin to nod at each others neighbours; old ‘enemies’ send you WhatsApp forwards, they appreciate your potted plants seen in Instagram Story. Songs are sung by people with no vocal gifting, it’s even beautiful, meaningful. We are losing our Shy. We do not mind being photographed without our glasses. We still care about appearances though, we give us new haircuts. We yearn to not hesitate to shake hands, hug. That’ll be rare. That’ll be rare. But we will go on. We will wash our hands and feet and face relentlessly-relentlessly wash veggies, sanitize phones and c.cards …. but we will go on. We will look up at the sky and expect comets meteors and flares. If there are more Boom booms we will just not panic like we used to about exams and traffic jams. We are tougher than we are shocked, we are now closer to the Unknown than we’ve ever been. No, no. We are not caterpillars nor monkeys. We live we die we experience positivity, patient endurance and peace mid chaos. We work it. We tell our kids & friends on phone and in market places or between days of the week… be strong we say. We mean it. We wake up early to stare at the sky…. how its’ Light kills Virus. Our babies ask Existential Questions we no longer shush. We wonder too. Where are we from? Where do we go next…

There are no alternative activities to these Askings. We ask on. We understand each others’ questions better. We go quiet- no one thinks that odd. Not if we wear a wrinkly scarf, uncombed hair. You’re friendlier if.

All these things. We’ve changed so hard we can not go back. We are freer than we’ve ever been as a mass of individuals. Yes we die, we are afraid, we cry. But we are sweeter, nicer, kinder, tenderer. We share the Highest Common Factor- Human Frailty. This mutes Snobs. We are all Untouchables. How that looks if you draw us all is we are these Masked Breathers. We are changed into Changelings in the Twinkling of an Eye; it arrived like a Thief in the night. It took our Breathe-Easy days and Ka-Boom! Its turned our 7 billion into 2 alpabets: Us, however divided, in the face of Existence. We are Unstoppable Seekers of the Peace of God.

Dr. RAVI ZACHARIAS

Shalom: Peace, nothing missing, nothing broken.