She began by writing emails to those online friends she had not thought of, forget written to, in almost two years. As she hit ‘send’ each time, it seemed like she was dispatching a wee bit of herself and receiving lots of love from the universe. The magic of giving! When our acts of kindness bring such satisfaction and joy to us are they really selfless? Is it selfishness to feel happy for having done a good deed? This thought plunged her once more into a reverie of sorts. Her mind was the fulcrum and her thoughts kept dipping and lifting her from low despair to high happiness to steady soul-searching. Life is funny; sometimes a merry-go-round, at others a seesaw and yet often a giant wheel. Or is it a circus she speculated, where you are the trainer, you the trainee, you the performer, you the clown and the audience all rolled into one? A stray dog looked up at her, his tail wagging, as if he knew the answer to what she was thinking. “If only you could talk,” she said to him, petting him. Shernaz brings to us a revelation that some of us experience. Love unlocks the doors that had not been opened in years. Here is a fictional account of the two voyages of a person, within and without, wherein there are no schisms, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
She did not notice the spectacular sunrise. Smoke rising out of the cottage chimney transfixed her attention as it hovered over the roof, first like a phantom seahorse then spreading like a thin cloud before disappearing into the hill above. In a snarl of feelings, she saw her life as a smouldering piece of charred firewood. It was smoking, but could that be possible without fire? No. So she had burnt, which meant that there had been light and heat. Epiphany!
Her mind stood bolt upright and she heard the words distinctly. “You have been a candle in their darkness and now you resent it? You always said you did it for love. Then stop sulking, gather up the melted wax of your life around a new wick and begin to blaze again. Love is not just for your near ones. Let it be all-encompassing.”
The chimney was lifeless now and the sky bright. An incandescent thought burned inside her. Life doesn’t stop once your loved ones stop needing you. There are others in whose life you can bring some radiance – hope, joy, the much-needed help around the house…oh, yes! There are a million ways to be useful.
She began by writing mails to those online friends she had not thought of, forget written to, in almost two years. As she hit ‘send’ each time, it seemed like she was dispatching a wee bit of herself and receiving lots of love from the universe. The magic of giving! Surprisingly the recipients had not even seen her mails yet and she already felt so cheerful and loved. It was probably the affection she distributed, that was rubbing off on her. What next? She went into the kitchen, baked a small cake and impulsively sent it off to a neighbour whom she was not particularly fond of. Again she felt elated. So, was she doing this only for herself?
When our acts of kindness bring such satisfaction and joy to us are they really selfless? Is it selfishness to feel happy for having done a good deed? This thought plunged her once more into a reverie of sorts. Her mind was the fulcrum and her thoughts kept dipping and lifting her from low despair to high happiness to steady soul-searching. Life is funny; sometimes a merry-go- round, at others a seesaw and yet often a giant wheel. Or is it a circus she speculated, where you are the trainer, you the trainee, you the performer, you the clown and the audience all rolled into one? A stray dog looked up at her, his tail wagging, as if he knew the answer to what she was thinking. If only you could talk, she said to him, petting him.
The loud ringtone zapped her out of herself as she picked up her phone.
“Hello, are you at home this evening?” asked a shrill voice from the other end.
“Yes aunty. Why?”
“I am coming over. We’ll talk then.” A sudden unease crept up on her as the phone went dead.
It was the elderly neighbour to whom she had sent the cake. Around six o’clock that evening she was at the door. Nina felt uncomfortable but she still smiled and invited the old lady in.
“Here, this is the cake you sent me earlier. Go put it on the table.”
“But aunty, why are you doing this? I baked it especially for you.”
“You think I can’t bake a cake for myself?” she asked. “And here”, thrusting a paper bag into Nina’s hand she continued, “are some samosas. But tell me how did you know it was my birthday today?” There was a catch in the lady’s throat as she said this.
Nina stared wide-eyed at the lady! She had only wanted to be a friendly neighbour, to feel smug about herself. Was it serendipitous that she chose this day to send her the cake? The old lady’s eyes began to glisten.
“You know, I have never baked a cake in my house from the day I have been alone? Your gesture today brought back lots of memories and I decided I would come here to share them along with the cake. I know how lonely you must be feeling.”
Nina could not stop the waterworks from her eyes. Wordlessly she hugged the old lady tight and let herself cry. A visor had been removed and she realised that her need to be needed was also her resistance to loneliness. They connected over cups of refreshing tea, cake, and samosas in Nina’s artistically laid out garden. It was a burst of colours enchantingly softened by the day’s mellowing light. It lent other-worldly charm to their bonding. Their spirits perked up. What a store-well of wisdom and wit this delightful old birthday girl is, smiled Nina to herself. A small gesture and it had paid her a huge dividend! A strange heaviness lifted from her heart revealing small bits of truth she had become blind to. Later, she walked the old lady home with promises to call each other daily and to visit as often as they could. A barrier had come down and a viaduct had replaced it.
“If you bury your loneliness all it will bear is shoots of pain. So bring it out in the open and let it perish under the glare of mutual companionship and caring,” she heard her mother’s voice advising the little sulky girl she used to be.
Under the starlit sky, another veil came gently off her inner eye: Love isn’t just about expending yourself to feel accepted. It is about oneself too. All-encompassing love means you too stay within its circumference. It is about compassionately recognising and admitting that you also have needs; it is as much about receiving gracefully as about giving; letting others into your life by unlocking your inner being so that their flame can shine upon the dark patches within you. It asks that you drop your defences and remain vulnerable. It means sharing your isolation with other forlorn souls a two-way shedding of arrogance, ego, and inhibitions.
The fibers that intricately weave humanity into one garment shimmered before her. She was filled with warmth. Sitting down on her doorstep, she smiled up at the sky and returned to her childhood pursuit of counting stars.
Photos from the internet.
#Arrogance #Epiphany #Love #ShortStory #Relationship #Life #DifferentTruths
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