Fiction: From The Hospital To My Garden

I am sitting on the hospital bed. It is a small room, almost triangular. Clean and in its decor, sterile. It is a boring, functional room but being here has helped me relax…

I am doing an online writing course from The Univ. of Iowa. This was written as an assignment submission.


I am sitting on the hospital bed. It is a small room, almost triangular. Clean and in its decor, sterile. White ceramic tiles with a vague blue pattern cover the walls till 4 feet height and the remaining walls are white-washed. Apart from my bed there is a thin bed near the grilled window for someone from the family who might be accompanying the patient. It is a boring, functional room but being here has helped me relax. Now, at least for some days, I need not worry about food and cleaning. The difference, after all, between jail, hospital, and hotel is superficial. Home is another matter though. Home is made of weird intangibles such as laughter, joy, safety, freedom…

Now that my mind is free to wander, I start wishing there were beautiful paintings on the walls. I start wishing for a more aesthetic place. What to do? Beauty energizes me. So though the body is not strong enough to travel yet, I decide to go home.

You see, my home is in my heart. I can go there whenever I want. At home, there is a beautiful garden. And water. Water is so important. And so there is a small fountain. You know, the kind that runs on electricity, with water falling down three bowls at three levels and then the smart intelligent water climbing up again using its friend, the motor, so that it may fall once again. My mother gave it to me. It is quite amazing actually. The gentle sound of the fountain is so similar to my husband’s voice.

In front of the fountain, there is a small wheelbarrow. It is there for a very specific purpose. You see, behind the wheelbarrow, behind the fountain, grows a Haarsingaar tree. Flowers of the Haarsingaar tree fall on the grass at early dawn. They are shaped like small stars, with one small sun-ray attached to the center of each flower. My hubby has a quirky practice with these flowers. He chooses two from those that fall into the wheelbarrow, and places them on my sleeping eyelids every morning. In doing so, again and again, He makes my heart safe and free.

Oh, hey! He is calling. He has another quirky practice. Instead of hollering, He calls using deep silence. So really sorry, gotta go. Thank you for sharing my garden with me.

A River Within and Without

What I experienced on the river was of course soothing and exhilarating at the same time, but what I experienced on the ride back in the van – that was utterly sublime. That in-the-van experience makes that trip so memorable, so precious.

Write about the white-water rafting experience in Charlotte.

It is hard work – one-sided writing where only I am relating. How about you ask me questions (even though you know everything)?

Sure, I’ll like that.

I heard that you went white-water rafting in Charlotte. How did you manage that? You know, with MS and all.

I’d had enough. I’d had enough of being low-stamina. I wanted to live. I had been feeling better than a year back anyways. So I just decided to go for it and I am really glad I went. What I experienced on the river was of course soothing and exhilarating at the same time, but what I experienced on the ride back in the van – that was utterly sublime. That in-the-van experience makes that trip so memorable, so precious. Then the next day it was Sunday. Of course, I was tired. It had been physically strenuous, so I simply rested. There was zero mental agony or emotional frustration. The body needed rest, I gave it rest. Simple.

तुमने तो पूरा trip cover कर लिया – घर भी लौट गई, आराम भी कर लिया. I did not get to know anything about the on-the-river or in-the-van experiences. So now which one will you tell me first?

Let’s start with a bit of context.

Charlotte is a city in North Carolina USA. I was living there as a student at the university. After spending three years in frigid Iowa, it was pleasant being somewhat closer to the equator where the summer evenings are quite similar to Calcutta evenings. The East coast and Myrtle beach on the right is 4 hours drive from Charlotte, and the Appalachian Mountain Range on the left is just 2 hours drive from Charlotte.

A church at Charlotte had organized a white-water rafting trip for university students. Various churches in USA help international students and scholars to settle into the country. They help in crucial practical ways such as giving furniture for free. Also, they organize events in and near town because in coming to a new land many students and scholars do not have much of a friends group and social life.

I am so grateful to the church for having organized this and to Dave Weekly who took us on the trip. There were probably two others too, managing the group and driving other vans (there couldn’t have been only one van), but I only remember Dave as the organizer because I was in the van he was driving, and on the boat that he was navigating.

What was it like on the river?

It was beautiful – the greenery, the crystal clear water, all of nature so alive and pure. Yes, the water was rapid. In one place it was really strong. But despite such rapid waters, there was one man going down the river standing alone on his raft, navigating with a pole. That is the picture I cherish the most from on-the-river. It is so beautiful to be so one with nature as that man on the raft was.

I fell off from the boat once. That was fun. It was fun because it didn’t get serious. I was rescued pretty soon. My friends (fellow university students, boatmates rather, for I didn’t really know anyone much) hauled me back in, pulling me by my life jacket. Whew! That was something! For the few moments that I was in the water, it was quite an experience. The water was so strong. I was totally helpless. The rapids were shoving me under the boat itself and the weight of the boat was further pushing me inside the water. Exhilarating!

white-water-rafting1

Like I said, because I was rescued soon enough. Else, there would have been nothing exhilarating about it. Further down the river, from another boat in our group, a few other students had also fallen into the river. That was a bit more serious and was quite a scare for those students and others in that boat – especially for the trip organizers. Fortunately though, those students were also rescued after that initial scare and tension. It is quite a skill managing the boat in the rapids. At times just remaining seated in the boat becomes a challenge.

The whole thing was physically very strenuous. When we were all done changing and had boarded the vans to head back to the city, everyone was tired. Each muscle in my body was aching. We stopped at a highway deli to parcel food to-go before the long drive back. I went and bought myself a sandwich and came back to the van. Holding the sandwich I tried to haul myself up into the van but fell down – the body was so fatigued.

Now don’t you go about thinking that I keep falling here, there, everywhere. Fell out of the boat, fell down in getting into the van. The former was because the rapids were so strong, the latter because the body was exhausted.

I get it. Both a result of the laws of physics. You never fall down. You never can fall down – for you are forever in my arms.

Thank you. That is very sweet of you. Now let’s get back to the story at hand –

मुझे लगता है तुम्हे कुछ झिझक हो रही है, वह in-the-van अनुभव सुनाने में।

वो तो है। मुझे लगता है कि शब्दों में वह शब्दातीत अनुभव कैसे ढलेगा? उस अनुभव का महत्व और असर पाठक तक कैसे पहुँचेगा?

तुम कहो तो। मैं सब ग्रहण कर लूँगा।

I was worried. How will I drive my car back home, that I had parked in the university campus? Will I have the energy to focus as needed on the driving, will I reach back home in one piece? It seemed quite likely that I might end up crashing the car somewhere. These concerns were simmering on low volume in my mind as I sat on the back-seat of the van. I did not even have the energy to be actively worried.

Everyone in the van, in their tiredness, had dozed off — all the necks drooped in a variety of directions. Dave was driving. He was the only one who had not dozed off. He had been on the river too. He must’ve been dead-tired too – yet he was focused on the road, focused on getting the van and all its trusting passengers safe back to the city. Where did he get the requisite energy? It was all because it was his offering to God. He was doing this because it was the church’s initiative. It was the church’s initiative because it wished to welcome the international students and scholars into the beauty of this land, share a fun activity with them that they might otherwise not be able to organize on their own.

As I sat with my depleted body and the concern about what lay ahead, it occurred to me to meditate on my chakras. Those days I used to meditate on my chakras at home regularly using an audio course called “The Anti-Career Guide – The Inner Path to Finding Your Work in the World, by Rick Jarow”. As I used to meditate on the chakras at home, as the attention rose from the base upwards, that self-alignment did bring faint glimmers of self-empowerment at times. In the van You suggested I do just that, meditate on the chakras, sans Rick’s audio. So I did.

Often during meditation, the mind is fidgety and eager to be free of restriction, eager to be free to gallivant. This time, attention and focus occurred easily. Once I was done moving my attention from the base chakra to the crown chakra, I naturally moved into an immersed state. I do not know how long I was in “that zone”, a few seconds or several minutes. Only when I came out of that state did I realize I was in some kind of an immersed state. It was not the normal sleep, I know – for my neck and head had not drooped into slumber. When I came out of that state, the gnawing tiredness and body ache had gone. I was alert and fresh and enjoyed the peaceful remaining ride back to the city, for everyone else was fast asleep. Only Dave was at the steering wheel in the front of the van — steadfast. On reaching Charlotte I was able to drive back home with no problem at all.

It was amazing, the transformation that had occurred. This experience remains in me as a direct evidence of the immense power that exists within us. I am not able to tune into myself in this manner often, but it is good to know that it is always at hand. Yes, for me personally, at times a moderate amount of physical pain aids meditation. It gives me a physical sensation to focus on that is not as subtle as focusing on the breath. That evening I was so tired that the mind did not have any energy to gallivant. It seems that aided in the tuning-in too. The next day I rested the whole day, peacefully, without any suffering.

This is what happens when

भूल कर कशमकश ज़माने की
मेरी बाहों में आके रह जाती हो


Image credit: Protik Maitra

A Beautiful Mind – Not A Book Review

Last week I finished reading A Beautiful Mind. It is a biography of John Nash written by Sylvia Nasar. John Nash was a mathematician who made fundamental contributions to several fields of mathematics. His work in game theory has had a tremendous impact in economics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. Thing is, from the age of 31 to 62 he was besieged by schizophrenia and lived a life thoroughly lost to the world.

This is an astounding story of redemption, so very competently crafted into a detailed, thoroughly-researched saga. I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude when I finished reading the book. So I had a tiny exchange with my boss –



You are beautiful. So kind and loving. इतना सुकून महसूस कर रही हूँ after having read John Nash’s biography. Thank You for putting the book in my hands. Thank You for restoring his life. Thank You for making him the way You made him. Thank You for giving him that self-awareness that he learned to say no to his delusional thoughts, thought by thought, each time they occurred. Thank You for mending his relationships — that he finally became a supportive husband and father, with his quirks. That he finally had a good relationship with his sister. Thank You for Alicia. Indeed there is only Your love that blossoms across the universe in different ways. Thank You to Princeton and the whole mathematics community that kept him, let him stay and wander its corridors through all his dark days. Thank You to USA that brought him back when he was insistent on becoming stateless — though I fully understand the purity of that thought, of wanting to become stateless.

Thank You for Sylvia Nasar, for having her write such an excellent biography, with such in-depth research, thorough references, no words minced — all things beautiful and ugly relayed as it happened, no candy-flossing — right down to all the behind-closed-doors drama of the prize decision, showing me how Your hand is there in everything that transpires. Those adjectives, beautiful and ugly, I have inserted them. She related the whole thing almost totally as a true journalist — not just what happened in the outside world, but also the inner dynamics of the brain, how it feels inside for the person dealing with such a condition. All the informational sections of what the research world in USA was like in the 1940s, 50s, the sharing of the mathematics in a manner that laymen may comprehend, how game-theory has impacted economics, including Al Gore’s auctioning of wavelengths right at the time when the Nobel was being awarded were also so valuable and gratifying to read. Thank You for all of that — though I skipped several pages in between.

Thank You for the pointers and takeaways of how I can live a better life. Filter out every thought of warring family members and the sense of being alone (because it is a delusion), and give my mind to You, for Your beauty to flow.

You are most welcome. It is all because I love you.


By the way, John Nash also invented a game called Hex. It is very easy to play. I played with my nephew Dhruv and he beat me at it. Dhruv and I both lost to the computer. See if you want to give it a try.

To The River And The Mountains

We are immersed deep into the quiet now — the quiet of the gurgling river and the humming crickets of the night, the moonlight dancing peacefully as silver varak on the water as it navigates the rocks and pebbles, the mountains rising high in the backdrop, black in the night, but not pitch black.

It feels good to press the accelerator of the car. The cool wind on my face feels good — so also seeing the profile of your smiling face, the changing landscape on land and in the sky. A long drive feels good.

We started when the sun was setting, driving into the sun, the pink, purple, and deep blues. Now the pink and purple have eloped with the sun and the sky has adorned itself with that one regal evening star — the queen of all the stars that will soon make their appearance.

“Where do you wanna go?”

“That river.”

“Good that we have our camping gear in the trunk. We can camp there for the night if we want.”

“Let’s see.”

So we drove. To the right of town. 70 kms away.

.

It is 8:30 p.m. now by the time we have reached here. There are mountains on one side, the gurgling river beside it, and this open land on this side of the river — covered with grass interspersed occasionally with boulders — nature’s chairs placed so thoughtfully for us.

“I just want to sit with you, in your arms, beside this gurgling river for a while — before we fix dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“I am looking forward to the sushi though.”

“I am looking forward to the beer.”

“Ok. You, your beer, and patient me — but only two cans. Then we dive into dinner.”

“How about diving into the water?”

“In the morning. Am too tired just now.”

So here we are — on this flat long rock, a natural bench that mother nature has placed for us.

“I love you.”

Your lips on mine. Not kissing. Just there. For long. At least it seems long — eternal.

Then you turn your face to gulp beer again, and pull me close.

We are immersed deep into the quiet now — the quiet of the gurgling river and the humming crickets of the night, the moonlight dancing peacefully as silver varak on the water as it navigates the rocks and pebbles, the mountains rising high in the backdrop, black in the night, but not pitch black.

“I am hungry now,” I say an hour later and spread the sheet on the ground. You light a fire. Roasted veggies and garlic bread for you, cold sushi for me. You toast the bread on the fire and warm the veggies. We eat. The fire sings a crackling composition for us.

***

It is the wee hours of the morning. The sky has not opened into clear blue, nor its special sunrise hues for the day. The birds are up and about though. With a gentle snore, you are still sleeping. It’s fascinating how I feel more relaxed and peaceful if you are relaxed than if I am relaxed. I go to the river and splash my face with the crisp clear water, made crisper still by the morning chill. Soon I’m immersed in the water — immersed in the flow of never-ending love.

After a good easy half an hour I finally step out of the river. You are squirming in the sleeping bag. Your eyes open dreamily. Our eyes meet and there is a silent acknowledgment, a gentle love. My heart settles further into the soft bed of contentment.

On the patch cushioned with lush grass, I do some yoga — nothing fancy, just some Pawan-muktaasana, and fill my lungs with the fresh morning air. You catch a quick 10-minute meditation on the rock where we’d eaten dinner. For long you simply look at the shaking branch of a tree on this side of the river, then a small bird with rich blue feathers catches your attention. Now, for long you are immersed in how that tiny frame is so full of the most natural life. You feel as though you are communicating with it — which you are. Eventually, your eyelids gently descend as, in your being you make the universe your own.

We pack up. All camping gear dismantled and folded into the trunk of the car, we head back. Soon we will partake of some piping hot idlis and chutney at our favourite morning joint before you drop me off at my office and carry on to yours — but right now, as we drive back with our eyes and chest filled with the peace and life of the entire universe, we are silently One.

The Joy Of Work Well-done

A piece of work well-done, boulders and roadblocks broken down (technical roadblocks, in my case), is reason for much joy.

If I was working from home I would have stepped out of my room and gone and hugged mom. Since I am working from a co-working space right now, this post is the alternative. But the joy of a good old physical hug is in a realm of its own.

I would go to mom, grinning wide. She would ask me, “क्या हुआ?” and I would say “कुछ नहीं” — for most of the time the reason for the happiness would not amount to much in the worldly sense or be too complex to explain. In any case, joy that erupts within us without reason is the most sublime. “Unnecessarily Happy“, is the technically correct term for it.

Actually, there is always a reason for joy — but like I said, often that reason is not valued much by the world. The most sublime reason for joy: when, in the most natural manner, we feel unlimited.


Image credit: Gerd Altmann from Germany at Pixabay.com

threesome

One night You had encircled me.
No, that night You sandwiched me.
From one side You came as You
From one side You came as Him.
Then I remained just as a mite

One night You had encircled me.
No, that night You sandwiched me.
From one side You came as You
From one side You came as Him.
Then I remained just as a mite
Floating in You infinite.

*

I float in Your power
boundless
And Your arms
encircle me
Two black, two white —
and so the dance
of duality
is not a challenge.
It is my haven
It is You.

I float in Love
infinite
I live in You.

Waterfall

I want to feel this body
rub against Your body.
I want to feel this breast
pressed against Your mouth

I want to feel this body
rub against Your body,
this breast pressed
against Your mouth.

The 3-D roundness
of Your body, and its shape,
and its weight,
as those legs
keep these legs in check…
let my senses drink.
These fingertips, let them caress
Your being.
Let me smell Your sweat
as I did that day.
Your voice in my ears ―
let it water my deepest being.

Oh! Where are you?

This thirst in drips
keeps me alive.
Give to me the waterfall.

***

The Gift Of The Night

Now that the day is done
There is only You and me.

The night is precious
For it brings
You and You and only You

Now that the day is done
There is only You and me.

The night is precious
For it brings
You and You and only You.
You who are forever here,
How precious that the night
Still brings
Just only You.

There is every moment left
To love You by and by,
For now, I shall kiss the night
How sweet it’s gift,
Then maybe I shall also kiss
You, but just a tiny bit.

My heart, my lips
My every cell
Are all so busy loving You.
Where is the time?
So my love, for now just this
Just a tiny little kiss.

From a wordless place

Sometimes it is good to go to a wordless place, i.e. to not write prose or poetry. So here is a digital art instead that got made recently, during a no-objective-other-than-to-have-fun time.

What does it signify to you? What does it evoke in you? Does it evoke anything at all? Tell me. Then I will share where this image emerged from, what I called it, and how a friend interpreted it in a totally different way.

your entanglement is a dream sm