Tag Archives: life

Are you lying your way through life?

There are those amongst us who are dying a little every day. I don’t know them when I see them but I do know it is a very large number. They are those men and women who are living their lives as lies – they let their dreams fall by the way side as they began to work for large corporates, for paid vacations, for stability. They gave up on their teenage dreams because they fell in love and decided to start a family.

It is so ironic, is it not, that you fall in love with someone because of the dreams they dream, because of the incredible life they see for themselves and yet, as soon as you decide to get together, you almost force the person to give up on that dream because it does not put food on the table each night. It is such a sad story, the story of so many many young couples, who today spend their lives waiting for the next holiday, the next big car, the next new gadget.

All of this because they are quietly dying inside. Of course, you will never know that when you meet them, they seem so happy, so perfect, with their jet-setting lives, you wonder what could possibly be wrong with such people. Yet pick up the papers and you will see, the star couple that till a few weeks ago was being celebrated as the perfect pair are now applying for divorce.

Leading CEOs and their illustrious wives are being accused of murder of their children… seriously, are these signs of a happy, balanced society? Personally, I think not. I believe somewhere in the race to get ahead, to look eternally young, to have the better phone and laptop, to have more followers than all your friends on twitter, you have built yourself a castle of lies and are now stuck inside it.

At this point, I am reminded of a serial I caught bits of recently: on Escobar, the Cuban druglord of the eighties. There is the part where he is on the run and he reaches his father’s home in an unheard of village. His father lets him stay out of courtesy, and there is a scene where Escobar tries to convince his father that he has become a great man. To which his father says, he is ashamed of him, of what he has become.

That is such a truth, it hit me straight in the heart. See, we go from day to day, moving around in our worlds, where we are all heroes to someone. Even Escobar for all his wrongdoings, had fans and people who swore allegiance to him till their last breath.

But this is a make-believe world, that we have created for ourselves. Our social media persona, our blogs, our instagram accounts – through each of these we choose what part of our personalities we want to show the world. The lives that we are living today are uni-dimensional, and so completely out of balance. Every aspect that we share about ourselves, our lunches and dinners with family and friends, the foods we make in our kitchens, the private moments we share with our children… it is all captured with the selfish objective of uploading the images on to the social media.

And those of us who do it regularly have figured out what gets the likes and what does not. To me, we are all constantly manipulating the outside world, put things out that we know others will like, these to me are half-truths. When I see pictures of lunches and dinners with family and friends on public media, I cannot help but wonder how such a private moment of caring justifies being shared with the world. Why? Why would anyone do that? Except to tell others that they hung out with so and so if that person is important, or just to get people to say, Oh Wow!

I have yet to see a negative comment on personal pictures shared, for the simple reason that what happens in your personal life, unless it is an achievement of some kind, does not really matter to the world outside. But uploading these images and getting people to put some silly meaningless comments, I feel one is trivializing the moment and the event. But then that is my perspective, and I come from a world where I had just a handful of friends who knew just some of my secrets.

May be my point of view varies because putting your life out there in the public domain to me appears crass. Most of my social media accounts do not even have my photo in the profile, as I find it embarrassing – I do. I come from the time when you let your actions speak louder than words, and today times have changed.

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Today, you can get shouting from rooftops, long before you have taken even a single step towards your goal. It is called ‘market testing’. And depending on how convincing your spiel is, you are sure to get a few likes, followers, some thumsup and such. I hope one of these days you will begin to realize that this false world is what is killing you. You may have a 1000 fans and yet not one of them may know your deep dark secret. You may have a hundred followers, but nobody you can pick up the phone and chat with when you are feeling low. So what are these people really worth to your real life?

I think those of us who gave up our dreams long ago and now look to this new world to give us acceptance, we absolutely need to figure this out. What are these fans, followers and comments really worth? Are we using these new counts to hide our own deficiencies? Are the happy pictures a cover up for the sadness the world feels inside? Is social media a true mirror of our society or is it just a mirage? Only time will tell.

~ bharti athray

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My thoughts and reality

A wild thought races across my mind
A cheetah chasing the deer across the flatlands
I wait, close my eyes to focus on the deer
Yet the details escape me – What was I thinking?

They run faraway into the sunlit horizon of my mind
Till all I can see are two hazy forms running.
A little fuzzball, like a bear cub
Waddles over to the forefront of my thoughts.

My attention shifts, I can see better now.
It’s an idea to create, to do something interesting
To create a soft tactile pillow, soft to touch
Fun to play with. I watch the little bear cub.

Ever so slowly as it rambles around the grass
I see it changing shape, slowing down.
A soft brown felt pillow sits on my sofa.

My son hugs it tight
as he watches his favourite cartoon show
On a sultry summer evening.

~ Bharti Athray

A moment in time

A moment in time –
Hangs like a fine needle
On a long white thread.

I watch the needle swing,
Ever so lightly
In the gentle morning breeze.

The silence lulls my senses.

I take in the moment… the cars, the signal,
the honking seems to come
from somewhere far away.

The summer sun beats down
Upon the metal of my car, my heavy eyelids droop…

Suddenly the needle on the white thread
is thrown about.

A wild gust of wind seems to sweep
across my consciousness,

I shake my head, trying to come to grips with where I am.

The loud horns are
close behind me, the signal has turned
Green. I must move.

The single moment in time – it has passed.

~ bharti athray

A DAY TO FORGET

The little girl ran across the road, chasing a small brown puppy she had just fed. Cars on the road screeched as they swerved to avoid the little body running across the road recklessly. I stood at the bus stop nearby, my heart beating fast as I watched the girl narrowly escape accident twice. While the drivers yelled from behind their wheels, she crossed over to the footpath, and managed to get hold of the brown pup.

Her messy ponytails fell forward as she leaned to pick up the jumpy fur ball. She was scolding him for being naughty or so it appeared to me from where I stood. Slowly my heart calmed down, knowing the girl was safe. As the child continued reprimanding her little friend, completely oblivious of the chaos she had caused on the road, the onlookers slowly shook their heads and moved on.

The world returned to its busy-ness.

I wondered at these strange moments of life, where one wrong step, a second’s delay in braking from one of the many drivers could have changed so many lives in an instant. It could have become a day none of us there would ever forget, in a bad sort of a way. But it had not, the girl, her puppy and the drivers were all safe. And the sun shone pleasantly, making this yet another day I would soon forget.

~ Bharti Athray

MY SISTER’S BIRTHDAY

It was a wet wintry morning, with dew on my window sill. I looked out to see the morning joggers run around the huge ground across the road. I liked gray mornings, they made the day feel timeless. I watched and wondered what the day would bring, when I remembered it was my sister’s 50th birthday. Yes, I had forgotten, well, not forgotten forgotten, but kind of put it away at the back of my mind. And it had suddenly popped out at me.

I sat myself down at my table and pulled out my favorite black diary. I loved writing in it, a dear friend had gifted it to me.

The page looked up at me, like a little child waiting to be told its tale of the day. I smiled as I put my pen to paper, thinking back to the days when we were young, and fought over chocolates, shared candy and lies, kept secrets, and generally grew up at a time when television was a prized possession and channels showed cartoons for a precious 30 minutes a day.

I loved my sister very much, she had been a wonderful confidante to me during my growing years. Of the two of us, she was the prettier one, and she truly dressed for the part. I had grown up looking up to her, but I can’t remember ever envying her the good looks.

My parents always told us we were both special in our own ways. The memories, the chats over tea, the lazy summer afternoons during school holidays made me smile. I so wished I could be with her right now, but she was far away in another city, almost a lifetime away.

Sure, we had kept in touch and shared stories about our boys, but right now, today, I felt it was just not enough. Finally having committed the memories, the reveries and the sweet warm feeling to the pages of my diary, I proceeded to call her.

She was busy getting breakfast ready for her family.
“Happy Birthday, M.,” I wished her. She was pleasantly surprised to hear my voice so early in the morning. “Hey, B., how sweet of you to call. Thanks a ton, B, for calling. But listen, I am in the middle of breakfast,… may I call you back like in 30 minutes?”

“Sure,” I said and hung up. I smiled to myself, the dew from the window had gone, the window was clear, the sun shone brightly through the leaves. The joggers had slowed or so I felt.

I sipped my tea, took a deep breath, watched the lane around my home come to life. Before long, it was time for me to wake up the kids… the moment had passed.

She did call me back a while later, but now, I was rushing to work. We made promises to connect back soon, and I never did get around to telling her just how much she meant to me… then or now. May be, another day. Another birthday.

~ Bharti Athray

Image source: paulagatto.com

WHY ARE WE ALL RUNNING AROUND?

low-light-photography-1Sometimes the only thing that stands between Death and me is this thing I call ‘life’. Mine is a simple one at that – nothing great to write home about. You know, the ordinary stuff: marriage, husband, job, children, home, work… I have a good life, by the way, nothing that should make me want to consider dying in a hurry. I have a loving family, my kids are absolutely fun… and yet, there are days when I wonder, What if I was to walk away from it all? Does it ever occur to you how much we are all running around, hoping that we will make a difference somehow – to our lives, to the lives of our children, their children maybe… the running never ends. But often when I lie in my bed at the end of the long day, I often wonder ‘what did I achieve today?’ There are no exciting answers, as most of my days consist of doing the routine stuff, and that takes up so much of my time and energy, I have nothing left to do anything more. That gets me thinking about the time when I will eventually meet Death – will it be at the end of one such uneventful day or at the start of it? I know some of you may think I am being morbid, I have been told that often; but I am not a morbid, or a depressed soul. I love life, I enjoy what I am doing, I love my kids totally; and yet it all feels meaningless. This trying to make a name for oneself, working to earn a living, creating wealth, buying homes, trying ever so hard not to be affected by what the neighbours have to say about you… it all seems so pointless. You know what I really want to do… I just want to go to the beach, sit there for hours with my eyes closed, listen to the waves and just be. I want to feel the sand under my feet, under my legs, not worry about the sand being dirty, not bother what all those walking past will think of me, nor worry about whether I have been sitting here too long. I want to be at that beach without a single thought chasing me, and I just want to live in that moment. Will I get up from there, come back to life as I know it? I don’t know, but as I put myself through this visualization, I very strongly feel it will not matter. As long as I can go to that far away beach each morning, just be there as I would be if I were dead – with no thought, no worries, no feelings, no expectations, I would just ‘be’. And then when I have had enough of just ‘being’, I would be ready to come back to this seamless prison that we call ‘life’. ~ Bharti Athray Image source: Jenis Fotografi Lowlight

IS LIFE GETTING IN THE WAY OF YOUR WRITING?

681x454Today, my painful sore throat made me realize what could happen if I keep putting off regular writing.

I have been having a sore throat of sorts on and off for a couple of months now.  Initially when it came on, I went to the doctor and get a series of tests done, and everything came through normal. My doctor did not want to put me on medication when he was not able to diagnose what was actually wrong with me.

So he asked me to come back in a couple of weeks. He gave me some essential antibiotics and said, ‘Either it will go away or persist. We will be able to decide the next course of action post that.’

Well, now it has been almost three months since that last visit to the doctor and while the irritation was not much in the interim, there is a slight swelling at the side of my neck. So why am I telling you all this?

Because I realized I have been putting off going to the doctor as I have been a bit busy during the last few weeks: our schools reopened here in mid-June, so I was in and out of my boys’ school, my little fellow has been unwell almost every alternate week as we have rains here this time of the year. And to add to all this, there was been a fair amount of work at the office. So I just keep putting off the visit to the doctor, putting everything else first.

This morning, my throat has been more painful than before and I have been seriously thinking of giving the doctor a visit. I am right now hoping it is nothing critical. As I mentally turned over the whole thought in my head, I realized this is pretty much the way we aspiring writers approach writing. We know we ought to be writing, but we let all the other very real issues occupy our productive hours, and then we complain about not having the time to write. Till one day, you see someone you know has managed to put a book out, or put together a brilliant blog over time. You seem to have missed out on it all. And then it makes you anxious. That is what my painful throat is doing to me: making me anxious!

I think most times it would make sense to put your writing slot at the top of your list, like your life depended on it. Else it will not happen. I am sure if you put it at the top of your to do list, you will make time to write and over time.  Take a look at how you approach your writing. Is it critical to your well being or is it something you do when you have the time? That is truly what will make the difference between success and failure at writing! Meanwhile, I am off to see my doctor!

~ Bharti Athray

Image source: Internet