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Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

After almost 17 years of partnership, I realised that there have been umpteen moments when I decided to leave but didn’t go.

One of the key factors that make for a long relationship is lots of ups and downs. Smooth-running relationships spell disaster.

I have had a turbulent childhood and teenage years, a pattern I carried to my adult life as well. At first, I thought it was easier to up and go than waste time in negotiating a difficult relationship. Yet, over time, I realised that it takes much more to build a home, than it takes to break a house. I took up the challenge to remain, no matter what.

Key factors that helped me were my ability to see the brighter side of the darkest night. And realizing that the saying, ‘this also will pass’ is wrong. Many times, the same problems arise again and again, and the same words are exchanged till the voice can no longer hold those terrible screeching words any more nor the mind come up with reasons to explain and dialogue on the same old things, again.

“We have done that number before, ” I’d say. But, into deaf ears.

Spouse deafness can be awful especially if you are given to weak lungs and subsequent cough, due to over exercising the larynx. I am like that, only! What’s worse is, no, you don’t need the virus in the air to cause your sore throat and there are no broad-spectrum antibiotics that can cure your throat, please to note.

So there, you learn your lesson: Silence, is golden, when the other cannot hear. Lengthy discourses may also be done via email and guess what, you may write the stuff, but the other may read or choose not to, but the fact is, you’ve said what you needed to say and the eyes may hear or not hear at all, but you are free of a huge burden and hey, you have saved yourself from the terrible sore-throat, guilt feeling  for having vomited out angry words and what not.

Second, fall in love with someone else, for the time being. All in your head, of course! It helps, since you have psyched yourself into fooling your endocrine glands into producing in large quantities, the much needed adrenaline on which you are now high. Pity the poor gland has no concept of real from the imagined. You can at least be safe for a while, because you have sufficient stress relieving hormones to take you forth for the next ten months or so, during which time, your present problem with partner may end, but a new set of problems may crop up, for which you need new strategies.

Third, take a break from each other. Do different things. Pretend to be present when together, but ‘take leave of your mind‘ and visit far places which the other is talking to you. I can swear on this method! Be meditative and laugh at the right moment though or make exclamations whenever needed. In case, the other catches your absent mindedness, then repeat the last words she said to you.

“Are you listening?” There! It’s that easy. Just say, ‘Yes, I am listening; you just said, are you listening?’ ”

Life’s battles can be won in many ways. The critical issue is: strategy, which is a well-thought out plan devoid of all emotions. So you can keep a home, even if the house is breaking!

And this is how, I have stayed on, holding the fort of a relationship, that is forever bouncing like a ball. And have gained in insight and patience and forbearance.

I learnt a lesson from Snoopy, my pet dog. She was not like a cat, whose loyalty depended on where she gets her food and safe stay. She was loyal to me and no matter what I said to her, all she did was rolled her eyes this way and that, but she never left.

I’ve done the same throughout all these years myself. It really is all about  strategy!

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Picture from the net

 

 

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brown-hair-blue-eyes-makeup

I won’t see Madhu’s blue eyes again

And I won’t see her childlike pudgy fingers sit on her lap

Waiting for me to intertwine mine in hers

I won’t see her eyes fill with concern for her son

Nor the coldness that is theirs

When she speaks of her husband.

I won’t see them rest on my face

And ponder if I was a fool

To love her so.

Her eyes don’t know what I hide in mine

The dark shrouded pupil swimming in the ocean of milk

Conceal myriad memories around a pair of blue eyes

So dear to me in my childhood

Tucked away in the recesses of my mind

That pair of liquid blue eyes

So proud even behind dark glasses

Acts like a dam blocking out pulsating passion.

On the surface, my eyes are cold and dead.

Time will never erase the memory of those blue eyes

That rejected me.

But time can never stop me from seeking them

Again and again around me in friends and lovers

Those beautiful blue eyes

Just like Madhu’s blue eyes.

I won’t see Madhu’s blue eyes again

Tucked behind the wall of my cold eyes

I have stored the memory of those eyes

Which today, reflect in the coldness of the shroud

That covers my pupils

Swimming in the ocean of white milk

Dead.

Photo credit 

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Shadow lies
I may not have told you yet
My heart skipped a number of times
when we met, briefly

My mind said
No, this is again one more mirage
your mind has created to divert
your attention from yourself

Perhaps, I said
maybe! But please I need

To look at other things

Some love, some feelings and sensations
to know that I am alive and kicking
I might have been alone

Very alone
In fact the aloneness only a bad relationship can bring me to
But was it not her desire too

I saw in her eyes behind her specs
that light of anxiety mixed with desire

May I not rest in the those longing eyes
which reflect my desire too.

For too long I have slept on a pillow which harboured bad dreams

Is it not time to open a little window and look out at the sunshine?

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You can’t talk to a wall, for a long time, because, it does not talk back to you. To have communication, you need interaction. You need to give and receive, both.
There are however, times when things just become something you can call a shrouded rejection. It is like a moon, that is there in the sky but you can’t see it because it is covered by a cloud. It is not as if it is not there; the truth is it is there, but it is also a truth, that you can’t see it. No matter what the reason is, there is a wall between you and the other. And you can’t talk to the cloud, the shroud, the wall. It only absorbs and gives nothing in return.
There is a deception in place. The illusion of the moon, behind the cloud, is an illusion, so long as the moon does not show up in front of it. The existence of the moon, is a supposition, the reality in the face is the cloud. So which are we to assume, is real and which false?
There is one sure reality check. Get behind the cloud. Is there really a moon, or standing in front of the cloud, there is only the illusion of an existing moon?
Get real. If there is no moon, there is no rejection, not even a shrouded one. So don’t hang out there staring at what is not there. Instead, you have a whole world on the other side, the side you are not looking at, the side which is looking at you from behind and saying –
“You can’t talk to the wall, all your life. You brain will become hollow. Exchange is like two cups of tea standing next to each other – you pour some in one and then another and you drink of both.”
*sigh* What goes out comes around! Even rejection!

 

 

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smriti62It is said that a king once came across a sage and was so deeply affected by him, that he gave up his huge kingdom, his wealth and his women to follow the sage in the search of The Truth.

This sage was not any ordinary man. For years he had been practicing a silent meditation. Thus, when the king, often questioned him and pleaded for spiritual guidance and direction, the sage answered nothing. However, when the queries got deeper and more persistent, the sage snapped – Be Silent!

That was it. For years the king sat at the feet of his Master, in total silence, from sunrise to sunset, day in, day out. Until one day, a little dog found his home and came to live with him.The king tried to shoo him away, but it would not go. Hence, despite his efforts, the king was forced to look after the dog – feed him and watch on him.

It so happened that a few months from then, a man wandered along and seeing the sage went up to him and fell at his feet.

“ Guru”, he pleaded, “give me something to eat. I am so hungry…”

The sage looked at him and said –

“ There is no food here, as you can see. But you can go to that sansari who live below and he will give you the food you want.”

Hearing this, the king felt a terrible sense of disdain. He loathed to be addressed as a sansari. Was it not he, who many years ago left everything to follow this sage? His kingdom, wealth and women, all renounces for a search? So why was he being called a sansari? However, his thoughts took him to his habits in the recent years and he knew why the sage had called him a sansari.

It was the dog and his attachment to the dog that made him a sansari. Having left everything in his world as a king, he still had not left his attachment to things, be it a dog even. Suddenly, it hit him like a bolt from the blue – it is not what you leave behind materially outside, what you need to leave behind is attachment itself. If one is not free of the bandhans inside, no matter what one leaves outside, new things will only replace it again. So if one has to be really free, then, one has to cut off the very threads that bind us to the things outside.

A great realization struck him and in that moment, he left, now even knowing where he was going to. He left the dog, the house and the sage, all in one stroke.

When the moment is ripe, all things fall into place themselves. The rest of the time is spent, only preparing for that moment.

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If your thought are deeply entrenched in the contemplation of someone you love, you become the person you love.

 

Therefore I will only speak of myself, for in me now you have merged. Not of your volition but of mine. Not of your need but of mine.

 

And you think I have forgotten you.

Yes and no!

How can I remember you, when all that I am is you in me? How can I see myself as separate from you, when you and I have merged like two different coloured inks on one blotting paper?

 

We were different. Separated by time and space, over lifetimes. Two bodies. Two minds, searching one another over lifetimes. Now the search is complete. Not because I have found you, but because my love has acted as the blotting paper into which our two separate lives have merged into one.

 

It was the best thing that happened to us. Now there will be no hide and seek. No need to go anywhere to look for the other. Not even to avoid the other, if we wish to.

Now we are – me.

 

In fact, it was all an illusion – two separate beings, traveling over lifetimes to find each other.There was no time and space in which our souls traveled in search of each other. It was only how we thought we did. But, now even that is over.

I have thought of you so much and imitated your ways so often, in wakefulness and in sleep, I have devotedly contemplated upon you, like Radha upon Krishna and now I find the difference between us has disappeared.

I can say we are one, if there still were two of us. But, when that is naught, there is only a lack of words to describe what Is.

If your thought are deeply entrenched in the contemplation of someone you love, you become the person you love.

 

 

 

Art by Smriti Vohra

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Draupadi, stop those lies!

For five thousand years you have allowed humanity to believe in the notion that you were victimized by Yudhisthir and the Kauravas; your shame around your body exposed in broad daylight before an audience of men, you called your step brothers and your husbands. And that your loyalty to the Pandava brothers, was sacrosanct. That when Yudhisthir, in a fit of passion, staked himself, his brothers, his kingdom and finally you as well, you made it out to seem like you were the harmed one, driven to the other camp where the Kauravas stood waiting to devour you.

But, he, Yudhisthir, was the wronged one too. Wronged by you! For, you had cast a spell on him, so deep, he was obsessed with you. Alas, his infatuation found no respite, for as long as you were with Arjuna, he could never have you. His gripping desire for you boiled in his belly, waiting to spill out.

Yet…..

Draupadi, tell the world, that much before this day had dawned you enjoyed this play happening around you, when both Yudhisthir, the eldest of the Pandavas and his cousins, the Kauravas, were cast into the dungeon of smoldering heat obsessing with you.

I ask you, were you not responsible for this? This bath that the world knows you had come out from at the moment when you were dragged by your hair and placed on the dais, was it not what you had been bathing in, so many years in your mind? This longing, this wetness of a perennial flow of yearning, this burning flesh, this quiet and secret craving for other men – was it not what you had been pining for, that resulted in Yudhisthir being besotted with you? That you had played with his infatuation to the hilt, by placing your impression on his mind in such a way that he became powerless over his passion for you? And behind all this melodrama that took place that day, you hid the truth about your multi-fanged tongue with which you licked the carnal desire in many men, even the Kauravas?

You hid the fact that while you remained committed to one you would always dance to the tune of your desire for the other. The real drama goes on in your mind, flirting with the subconscious and the conscious mind. What they dare to reveal to the world and what they conceal within, unknown to everyone. Even to you sometimes.

In the contorted expression on your face that day, or the way your fingers and toes clenched inward, as you expressed pain, being dragged by your hair; in the manner you thrust your breast, now hiding, now exposing it before the Kauravas, the arch of your swollen hips, twisting this way and that, as if to resist, to hold back, yet, not quite, I have seen the hungry tide of longing mixed with passion, seething forth, like a woman about to meet the mounting pulsating throb inside her body and her mind.

Therefore, Draupadi, tell the world, that for you the distinction between pain and pleasure are blurred. Indeed, the two are too close and when one gives rise to the other, it is out of your control.

Nay, not true! It is indeed all within your control to determine how you want to participate in this wild dance, your wet with passion hair waving like tongues of fire, lashing out in the air. And if I have deciphered correctly, I can tell you Draupadi, I have heard the guttural laughter emanating from your throat, of satisfaction, so deep, you could only wait for just a few more moments before you lost yourself in the experience once again! And again…..and again!

Men are fools, you say. Look at Krishna! Trying to hide your shame externally, when in your mind you are drinking from the well of eternal ecstasy!

Draupadi, tell the world, that like a moth burns itself in the fire, you too must do it again and again, burning yourself out in the fire of your own feelings and therefore, you will always flirt with the forbidden. Tell the world that while you lived with Arjuna, you toyed with the desire for the other brothers as well. Tell the world that this is what you had all along fantasized, being forcefully thrown into the inferno of carnal desires; that the fight to possess you was what you yourself wanted most. And in the minds of the Kauravas, you had already been stripped off, of all your resistance, you lay in their hands to do what they so wished to do with you. Tell the world, this is what you wanted – to be possessed so completely by the other.

The boredom of complacency is not for you; the ‘given’ too unexciting. Hence, you will always play with danger, that which is taboo. For the taste of forbidden fruit is just too sweet to forego.

You are not the victim. You have perfected the art over generations of being with one, but spreading yourself widely across to many. At least in your mind, your need for many has sustained over generation, playing hide and seek between the layers of consciousness, between the hidden and the exposed, the acceptable and the forbidden, the blatantly obvious and the masked…..

While the whole world stops to cry…poor Draupadi! You are having the last laugh!

Draupadi, tell the truth!

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Who is Draupadi?

Every woman!

In the epic Mahabharata, however, she is the learned daughter of King Drupada of Panchala, and wife of Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers. But because Kunti, mother of the Pandava brothers wished it, she became the wife of all the Pandavas brothers as well. Yudhisthir, who is besotted with her, is the eldest of the Pandava brothers.

The social practice, polyandry, still prevalent in parts of India, permits one women to marry many men, especially if they are brothers in the same family.

The desire monologue, in the above writing is the author’s own depiction. So is her claim that the potential to desire more than one lover is every woman’s Draupadic inheritance.

Picture credit: Rupa Ganguli as Draupadi: http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q114/deep86/rupa_padma03.jpg

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The Free Soul

“There is but one Infinite Being in the universe, and that Being appears as you and as I; but this appearance of divisions is after all a delusion. He has not been divided, but only appears to be divided. This apparent division is caused by looking at Him through the network of time, space and causation.” .”- Sw Vivekananda in The Complete Works Of Vivekananda, Volume 3, chapter 6, page 9-10

 

A lifetime spent in contemplation of the non-existent, the false and delusions. Like a sage sitting and cogitating on the beginning and the end and the in-between, not knowing that the clay from which he is made is the same clay that holds the secret of Existence –Shunya. Not zero but Whole.

Everything, that ever was, ever will be. The complete reality. Not a black hole but Shunya, the heart and Being of the Universe.

Yet, I have sat through the dark night to see the light of day. I have suffered great pains and struggles just to arrive at the Truth, not knowing that the object I seek is of what I am made. I have sat outside the clay pitcher, day in day out contemplating Who Am I, not once looking inside to see the blazing Light, nor the complete Stillness, of which I am. Looking outward, only one after another delusions eluded me.

I am the Shunya, never born, never to die, I am. I know but then again I forget, the same Truth, for I have got used to believing in a mirage in the desert of my life. I spend the whole life looking for that which cannot be found, because, there is nothing to find except only delusions, mirages in the canvas of my life.

“I was once traveling in the dessert in India. I traveled for over a month and always found the most beautiful landscapes before me, beautiful lakes and all that. One day I was very thirsty and I wanted to have a drink at one of the lakes; but when I approached that lake, it vanished. Immediately with a blow came into my brain, the idea that this was a mirage about which I had read all my life and then I remembered and smiled at my folly…..the next morning I again began my march and there was the lake and landscape, but with it immediately came the idea, this is a mirage.”- Sw Vivekananda in The Complete Works Of Vivekananda, Volume 3, chapter 6


I am in the habit of forgetting I am
The Free Soul, The Absolute. Like the Shunya that exists inside the pitcher, outside the pither and in all parts of the pitcher, I am that Whole, The Absolute.

 

Still, a lifetime spent in idle thinking to arrive at the Silence of the Lamps.

 

 

 

 

NB: Art By Smriti Vohra

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Kolkata is fiery red all over. Conches are sounding all over. Hindi filmy music mixes with Bengali new Poojo sangeet Radio Mirchi is buzzing with new excitement. There is jubilation in the air. – She is coming. Only for four days. She is coming home. The rains continue to lash the streets. The little ponds laugh. The greens cannot be hidden by the growing grey of the city. The idols of Durga are in their finishing touches period. From where I am, I am floating on the Ganga….

 

It has begun with a hair message. Warm hair oil is poured over my head and I feel the circular movement of gentle hands as they rub the oil into my scalp…slowly…round and round…turning my head this way and that…. a soft Rabindra sangeet playing in the background…..I breathe deeply…..and let go…floating inward….still conscious of the hands working around my head…behind my ears…and at the nape of my neck. Slowly I am fading out…..my breathing has become heavy …and slow…….soundless…..with gaps in between…..and moments I am not breathing at all…….yet I am alive……I know it despite my deeply relaxed state of being. Fresh mud from the banks of the Ganga river flowing through Hoogly, touching Kolkata, has been brought, to be laid on a new terrain, my body. I have asked for a mud bath..the grey-brown, ever so soft silt from Ganga’s river bed. Handfuls of it are being laid out on my ………face to be follow by my body. It is cool..smoothe..creamy. I guess my face, leaving my eyes, and lip are laden with soil. To enhance the breezy coolness, I can feel two slices of cucumber being laid out over my eyes. Now I cannot open them …my ears have become sharper. I can hear the sizzling sound from the kitchen as seasoning is being done to daal. The haunting aroma of paanch phoran fills the air and my olfactory glands take a deep doze of the fragrance of Bengal’s unique but simple five-spice seasoning. I can also hear the poojo songs on radio…the hands that are today’s guide to the celestrial are on my neck and my shoulders are now being turned to the banks of the river Ganga……slowly the silt spreads through my torso..the overwhelming feeling is that of a cold paste. How easy it is to feel cool in the middle of summer! My intestines are freezing as the mud spreads over my stomach.

 

My legs and thighs are in a let go….perhaps I will never walk again as they cannot be willed to move any more…I will only float like a plank of wood, without direction, on the body of Ganga……just float aimlessly…. The hands are rolling over my thighs and legs. Together with the coolness, I can simultaneously feel Ganga slowly but surely taking a firm grip of me, first my face and then the rest of the body as the mud dries over my body, slowly embracing my skin in its pores. No! It is not pissible to be away from Her too long….She has caught me today and will not let me go…..These hands are driving me closer to Her bosom…I don’t have to make any effort to come close to Her – She grips me to her bosom. I am in a let go…I cannot resist. My feet and toes are now covered by  Her soil. There is a hand that is transporting me, transforming me……..the hands that now message my arms in a downward motion… …and before my fingers move into the soil, spreading themselves in the cool water of the earth of Bengal, I feel her lips touching the tips of my fingers….I feel the kiss of death….the kiss which will make me die to myself. In my head I hear my English School Headmistress, Miss Thomson read in her clear and British accent, “ The Touch Of The Masters’ Hand” The story of the man who driven by poverty puts his guitar out to auction. But nobody buys it till he comes and tunes it. At the touch of the Master’s hand, the guitar fills the room with such melodious music that it is auctioned at a very high price.

 

The music in the room has changed and I can hear Beethovan as I am dying to myself….the Lady takes over what belongs to Her………I am powerless. I am Hers. She has gripped me now firmly. My fingers are firm and even the web between them are now cast in her soil. Gently, the cucumber slices are lifted and I open my eyes…….my vision is filled with Kolkata. My jaws have fallen slightly and the song on her lips is the song we sang together at midnight, that night of poems and song lyrics –

 

Mamma, when I look at the clear waters of my soul

I see your face

Mamma, when I hear the voices in my head

A thousand voices speak like you

Tell me mamma,

Is loving another woman, like loving myself

 

When Kolkata plays on her guitar, your ears can feel like they have got so finely tuned, like as if you’d smoked some pot……gently strumming on her guitar, the strong embrace of the earth over me and around me….I drift off into a deep slumber……..Daughters of the soil, I see my mother merging into the beautiful idol of Durga, floating over the large breast of the Ganga.

 

I am Her.

 

 

 

 

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Dear Stephie,

 

We have not been in touch for years. Neither you wished to reach out to me nor did I want to bridge the gap of silence between us. However, the reasons were different for both of us.

 

We carried the burden of loving the same man. 

 

I had lost him to you and you lost him to eternity. What a cruel joke! Pity, neither you nor me could keep him forever. Yet, we do live on with guilt – I, for hating you for your act of theft and you for having stolen my love treasure.

 

Ours is not a triangle. Ours is a direct fight between two women, over the rights of one body. And both of us have played out our game of violence over his body.

 

But if either of us were to be confronted with the fact, we would both deny it.

Was it our love or our egos? Was it our hatred or our gaming minds? Was it our super-ego or our extreme desire to fool ourselves to believe that one of us is greater than the other? Or, was it our fatal desire to prove that one was better than the other? What was it we were trying to establish by playing this game with each other over him?

 But what the hell! The right to be ourselves is ours – vile, wicked, malicious, and angry that we are. Yet, we must deceive each other and our own selves and hide our real selves – we are bitches, both of us.

I have chosen to write this letter to you in order to  tell you once and for all I despised you for your courage to steal him away from right under my nose. I tried to break you up but was convinced that he wanted to be with you, only when you were around. But, when you were away, out of town, it is me he returned to. Our passion for each other doubled during those times….

 

 

Then how can you say, he was yours? And even if he was, you have lost him just as I have, to eternity.

 

What is over is over. What remains is here and now…. A moment pregnant with the curse of closure.

 

I want to tell you I have purposely kept away from you, from sending a condolence letter as well when I came to know of his passing away. Who ever condones the death of a whore’s  husband?

 

But, today I need to close the chapter with you too….I need to end this story of hate, not for your sake but for mine. It is purely a selfish reason.

 

I am pretty certain that if ever you receive this letter, you will in turn say, “Who is Usha?” It will be the same for you as well – selfish, you before me. And that is why I call both of us, bitches. Our egos are bigger than our selves. It has always been so.

 

I am not sorry for the past, nor for the feelings I havefor you. But I do need to ask permission to close this chapter with you, these pageswe have both written with tears, jealousy, anger and venom for each other. And I hope with that, we will have both, finally moved on, knowing there is nothing more to share between us….

 

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Memsaab, Usha heard a voice behind her. It was her driver. She turned to look at him.

 

“The gates will close Madam. You have been sitting here for last two hours”.

 

Usha gathered herself, bringing herself to the present moment. She stared at the stone walls of the Monkey Point, trying to fix her mind on the face of one stone that resembled a monkey. Yes, she had come here to look for the monkey among the stones, but what she got engaged in was the monkey in her mind. At last she had written the long awaited letter to her ex-husband’s  wife.

 

A deep sigh escaped her mouth as she lifted herself to walk in slow steps towards her car.

 

“Let’s go”, she said simply, “the gates have closed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

NB Art By Smriti Vohra 

 

 

 

 

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