Posted in Daily, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Family and Society

Passbook Worth Fighting For

A WEDDING GIFT

She married him today. At the end of the wedding party, her mother gave her a newly opened bank savings passbook, with $1000 deposited in it. She told her, “My dear daughter, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your married life. Whenever something happy and memorable happens in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it’s about next to the amount. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I’ve done the first one for you today. Do the others with your husband. When you look back after many years, you will know how much happiness you’ve both shared.’

She shared this with him after getting home. Both of them thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to make the next deposit. This is what the passbook looked like after a while: 7 Feb: $100, his first birthday celebration after marriage
1 Mar: $300, she gets a salary raise
20 Mar: $200, vacation
15 Apr: $2000, She’s pregnant!
1 Jun: $1000, He gets the big promotion and so on…However, as the years went by, they began fighting and arguing over trivial things. They didn’t talk much. They regretted that they had married the most nasty person in the world. There was no more love. One day she talked to her Mother. ‘Mom, we can’t stand it anymore. We have decided to divorce. I can’t imagine how I decided to marry this guy!’
Her mother replied, ‘Sure, that’s no big deal. Just do whatever you want, if you really can’t stand it. But before that, do one thing remember the savings passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn’t keep any record of such a poor marriage.’ She agreed with her mother. So she went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account.

While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She left and went home. When she got home, she handed the passbook to her hubby and asked him to spend the money before getting divorced. So the next day, he went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account. While he was waiting, he took a look at the passbook record. He looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to him. His eyes were filled with tears. He left and went home. He gave the passbook back to her. She found a new deposit of $5000. And a line next to the record: ‘This is the day I realized how much I’ve loved you throughout all these years. How much happiness you’ve brought me.’ They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back into the safe.

Marriage is never a game, as there are no winners or losers. It is neither easy nor does it follow a strict code of unbending rules. Yet it is beautiful for the fact that two people live for each other with gentle understanding and kind love. As no two people will come from the same background or follow the exact same path from same homes, neither will one person think as a clone of the other, fights and arguments are inevitable. Even though we have our set of beliefs, opinion and requirements, it doesn’t give us the right to impose on the other under the pretext of being married. Both have to express their own ideas and air out opinions with both compromising to reach a mutually acceptable solution. For along with the shared interests, morals and love; it is the mutual respect and acceptance that binds us together and carry forward during the tough times as well as misunderstandings. Before we throw in the towel, give up and declare it over, think back to the good times and to what brought us together in the first place. If the knowledge and times are worth living again, the fight to save. If not and the distress outweighs the reasons and the love shared in the initial days, then finally close the chapters with mutual respect and start anew.

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Posted in Daily, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Reality of the Gingerbread Man

Ever since my toddler had got his own storybook about “The Gingerbread Man”, he has been fascinated by the large cookie that can run. Little wonder then that he chose to read this book more than thrice a day at different sittings.

The story centers around an old woman who baked a gingerbread man which leapt from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but are unable to catch him. The Gingerbread Man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them, only to fall prey to the fox. The tale ends with the latter catching and devouring the gingerbread man.

Although he is too young to understand the hidden concepts, sometimes I do wonder if this tale is an underhand way to get at adults for our possessive streak, trust issues as well as the habitual lying we either weave ourselves or get caught in.

Just as every person or animal runs after the gingerbread claiming it,the question arises if the person has a right to claim it. We often reinforce it to children that just because we want it, doesn’t mean that it is ours or that we can have it. Isn’t true for adults too where our whims and tendencies trigger the possessive streak many a time. Second is the trust issue. Like the spider and the fly, we often fall prey to trickery as we see want we want to see or hear what we want to interpret. Though for the innocent children it is more important to know who to trust an when to call for help; this lesson doesn’t change as we become adults. The world is an ocean, filled with delights and sharks. To experience the former, one has to steer clear of the latter. The third is about the lies. Black or grey or white, lies are lies and fibs are fibs. While sometimes we engage them with good intentions, the dangers of being caught makes one uneasy at any point of time. For a man without credibility and honesty is like an unreliable car or gadget.

Setting aside the story, there is something special about gingerbread, either shaped as a doll, cookies or even the houses. One chunk at a time, they not only add colour to the flavours but also add to fun times in the kitchen with delicious batter to sample.

Posted in Christian, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Fickle Nature of Man

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” ( 1 Timothy 2:3,4)

One of the many stories of the Bible which is widely known is the tale of Jonah and how he was swallowed by the big fish. For those of us who haven’t heard of the story from the Bible, it says about Jonah (or Jonas) is a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC. He is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents to repent of their sins or face divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish where the boat was caught in a raging storm. He then orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard (to end the storm), whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of that generation to repent which was sufficient for God to spare the city at that time.

Although the feat of Jonah getting swallowed by the fish, surviving and being vomited out is remarkable; the chapters of the book stress on the fickleness of humans and the nature of God who keeps a watch over us.

The biblical principle underlined in the chapters was God’s willingness to grant repentance to whom He will. As Apostle Paul had written, “The Lord is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God offers His love to all, the rich and the poor, the believers and the atheists, the young and the old as the writings of the brutal Ninevites as well as prophets have shown. While it is true that the choice is ours to accept His Salvation and His Love, the patience of the Lord is never wavering. For some, there may be trials and tribulations, while others will enjoy their relative comfort. Yet the joy and gift of His Love is known to only those chose His Way and can’t be explained but only felt when one allows Him in their lives.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

A Child of Today

To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter. P. T. Barnum

On the occasion of India celebrating every 14th of November as Children’s Day (celebrated on the day of birth of the first Prime Minister of Independent India and one of the great leaders who dearly loved children, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ); it would be meaningful if we reflect how our children are faring in the world of today. With the advent of technology, nuclear families, both parents working and the rise of the internet; one often wonders what has happened to the playgrounds, parks and neighbourhood lots where once we used to play in our childhood. Of course, this must be a moot point to ponder with the rise of “modernization, development and smart technology kids”. Though, it leaves room for thought on whether we have lost the genes of physical play (not just the hands or feet) and creative thinking with strategy as well as group interaction. Pretty difficult to decide on it, when all the modern gadgets claim the development of the very same genes.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

These days, I often dread to read the entire newspaper in the mornings. With the rising rate of crime and delinquency against the children as well as by the children, it brings to shameful light of the neglect and selfishness that we as adults are engaged in. Besides not caring for the young, sometimes we ourselves indulge in acts causing danger to them. To quote the author Pam Leo,”Children are mirrors, they reflect back to us all we say and do.” Have you ever heard of a lioness killing its’ healthy young in their pride or healthy eaglets being killed by their own ? Are we better than the animals or worse ?

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Mathew 18:6 and 10, New International Version) One thing for sure, we have lost the sound of a child’s laugh as they are too caught up in the web of modernized theoretical learning, violence, fear and technology. If we become too late to change this, we are facing with the coming of the dark ages of carbon clones, monotonous, violence with production lines of robotic and mechanical output boxes instead of bright, creative or artistic minds with gentle hearts.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings. Hodding Carter”

Practical learning starts in the family and community where children learn the basics of humaneness, love, respect, harmony and kindness. As they venture into the portals of education they learn the principles and mechanics of nature, science, art as well as history. While these aspects are important all the same, care should be taken that character is built with love, respect and mutual acceptance as well understanding of humanity. In the process of gaining an education, the ethos of life should not be lost or buried under purely selfish interests. Remember the era of the dinosaurs versus the mammals.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. Billy Graham

So while we watch the next generation growing up, whether we be foster or birth parents, guardians, educators, aunts, uncles, singles or couples; make the difference through families, neighbourhoods as well as communities. No matter how small the attention and care may be for us, for the child it is a big matter. For trees never become big, tall, provide shade or bear fruit unless we understand what they need and take due care of them. For the children learn from us, just by watching us, leave alone words and lectures. For, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. Charles R. Swindoll” With that, lets hope we as adults change so that our children grow to leave a beautiful legacy for the distant years, though only time shall know.

Posted in Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

When the Water Boils

Everyone has their own batch of problems popping all over the place. Some we solve whereas we sleep on others. While some of us emerge from it stronger, others succumb to it and few get buried under them. The challenge to living is trying to get past the neon signs which flash “trouble ahead”. Armed with a cavalier attitude and fortitude, most glitches can be fought down to reach the temporary goal posts we have set up.By maintaining our perspectives and perseverance, eventually all adversities can be overcome. For life in a flat plane would hold no discoveries or memories. It’s how we react to the boiling water that makes all the difference.

Although I don’t know the source of the story, read on to find which one we would be.

The carrot, the egg and the coffee bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. “Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Posted in Daily, poetry, Reflections

Raking the Thoughts

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honey-sweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” Rainer Maria Rilke

With the leaves of autumn and its winds brushing by, it brings to mind of the years that have passed by. While looking down the memory lane, one often recalls the dreams and hopes of childhood and what we had dreamt of the big world out there. Many of us had our own visions and dreams of what we would want to be as we grow up. Yet life has its’ own funny twists and turns. Some of us have stuck to the plans of high school, others have modified it while few have shoved them under the carpet of what they then believed was something better. While some of us have carved our own niche in the today’s world, the rest of us are still journeying enjoying life’s moments as they come. The final crux of living is to be happy.

Yet among all this, there are few of us who have had cherished desires and hopes of doing what we love. Some of us have taken those aspirations as hobby or hobbies, while the rest haven’t yet found the time to do so. Even worse, there are other who are stuck in the rut or chaos, too hassled to find time of their own. Amidst all this, what we have to realize that no one is going to give us a push or shove all the time. Sometimes we have to buck up ourselves and secure our dreams by moving in their direction, not by standing still. For time will go on its’ merry way and there is only one life. If we don’t try to find our dream, no one will ever do it for us. Instead of storing up the regrets, spend that time doing a little of your own everyday no matter how small it may be. For no matter how busy the harbour is, there is always activity in the waters but we never find it by rooting ourselves at the shore.

Follow Your Dreams

If while pursuing distant dreams
Your brightest hopes turn to gray.
Don’t wait for reassuring words
Or hands to lead the way.

For seldom will you find a soul
With dreams the same as yours.
Not often will another help you
Pass through untried doors.

If inner forces urge you
To take a course unknown,
Be ready to go all the way,
Yes, all the way alone.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t
Draw lessons from the best;
Just don’t depend on lauding words
To spur you on your quest.

Find confidence within your heart
And let it be your guide.
Strive ever harder toward your dreams
And they won’t be denied.

-Bruce B. Wilmer

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Trace the Bridges

In forensic sciences there is a principle known as Locard’s exchange principle which states that the perpetrator of a crime will bring something into the crime scene and leave with something from it, and that both can be used as forensic evidence. Although these words written by Locard was, “It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially considering the intensity of a crime, without leaving traces of this presence.”

Nevertheless setting aside crime scenes, what was dwelling in my mind were two words “exchange” and “traces”. Although the principle above may sound simple, what one fails to realize is that our every human interaction and relationship works on exchange and traces. There is an exchange of human emotions, ideas, behaviour, words and actions leaving behind imprints or traces in the near or distant future behaviour or interactions. Along the exchanges, sometimes we end up in having misconceptions, misunderstandings and mistrust, finally leading to innumerable issues. While some issues may be genuine and easily resolvable by a little give and take, others may either be irrevocably knotty or may be there as courtesy of making a mountain out of a molehill. Yet the catch is that we will never know unless we try.

Human relationships are of a very fragile nature. They need a lot of care and fostering to maintain and grow. Even the ones that seem rock solid might falter if the small pebbles strewn in the path aren’t cleared. On the other hand walls and fences are rock solid and never crumble, but they are meant for walling in or isolation. Until we learn to build bridges to keep the flow of exchange of ideas, emotions and interactions, we wouldn’t be able to leave behind traces either. After all life without meaning is purposeless, for what everyone wants among the deepest desire buried in their hearts is to be wanted and loved.  Then on, the rest will follow.

As the story between the two brothers go, everyday we have the choice of building fences or bridges. One leads to isolation and the other to openness. Yet the final decision is ours to make. While we need to know which bridges to cross or which to burn, sometimes we need more than one chance to decide the outcome of whether to cross the bridge or not. Either way the course of action is ours to decide and the sequelae that follows, we ourselves will have to face.

The two brothers

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?” “Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see his place anymore. Cool him down anyhow.” The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”

The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge – a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work – handrails and all – and the neighbour, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, ” but I have many more bridges to build.”

Everyday we have the choice of building fences or bridges. One leads to isolation and the other to openness.