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Maliny Mohan

IMG_20161229_195350.JPGI see blog posts on 2016, the year that is soon going to disappear like a wisp of air right in front of our eyes and wonder whether I should be writing one on the topic too. Writing a post at the end of every month recollecting the good and bad things that completed the month was a new year resolution few moons back. When the fact remained so, pangs of guilt reappeared from that dejected, dusty corner of my heart nudging me to at least provide a fulfilling end to the year at the least. Thus arose this decision to write a post on the five incidents that happened over a span of 12 months, bringing with them reasons to smile, rejoice and be proud about.

I don’t know how it affects you, but for me, year-ends have always brought mixed emotions to my mind. I contemplate the influence…

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Writing TIPs from Madhulika

Dustedoff

I’ve been writing an off and on series on writing, and decided it was high time I got around to what most people (myself included) would regard as my core competence: the writing of fiction. Fiction, whatever its length—novel, novella, short story, microfiction—offers a lot more freedom than non-fiction does. You’re allowed to let your imagination run wild. People (except the occasionally nitpicking, editor-minded reader like me) tend to allow liberties with facts. You can create your own world. Literally.

I was told, some years back, by an editor who’d read one of my short stories, that I’d violated ‘two rules of creative writing’ in the story: one, that dreams should not play an important part in a story (she’d mistaken what I’d meant to be a hallucination for a dream). Two, that the story should not end with the death of a protagonist (which means that…

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Keep the faith and repeat this quote to yourself daily – Aekta Kapoor

100 Paths

I’ve quit my job, and what I am going to miss most is the opportunity to be a mentor (not just a boss). I have cherished my ‘Monday tips’ sessions with the boys and girls at my office, and they’ve made me promise to write them down if not speak them out every week. So here’s my first of the lot, my Monday tips to my former team across the Internet, instead of real life.

  1. A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow. – George Patton

A dear friend of mine was sharing her ideas for scaling up her enterprise, which is just a year old but has been getting great feedback from her clients. She was worried about the amateur quality of the videos and photos she has clicked, and the lack of a professional marketer to handle her social media. She said she…

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Dustedoff

By which I mean writing that doesn’t make an editor wince.

Let me provide the context to this. Every now and then, I am approached by a wannabe writer who wants me to have a look at their manuscript and give my feedback. Very rarely (and what a sad reflection this is on Indian Writing in English), I find something that is a delight to read, even in its unpolished, unedited form. More often than not, what I receive is riddled with errors. Grammatical errors, factual errors, errors of everything from casing to punctuation.

When I have suggested, as part of feedback, that the manuscript be subjected to a series of self-reviews and (this is something not many Indians seem to be keen on) that an editor be  hired to clean up the manuscript, the usual reaction is, “But won’t my publishers do the editing?”

And my answer to that…

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All points please note!

On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses

Here’s an update to the post below by Allison Williams:

I’ll add something for authors who wish to query in the USA – literary agent Janet Reid‘s blog is terrifically helpful with query and process guidance (it’s not quite as scary as ‘they’ll trash you if your title isn’t in italics 🙂 ) and the Query Shark blog is great for exactly how to write a query and where authors go wrong.

Also, the practice I’ve followed and that has helped many writers I know – send queries in batches, not all at once. Query 10 agents. If they all say no, something’s wrong with the query, so revise it before sending to the next ten. If agents request pages and then say no, revise the pages before sending to the next ten.

In the USA it’s important to send a personal query (Dear Agent X, I appreciate…

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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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My mother passed away in my arms on the 26th March,2000 at 5.15 in the evening. I was at her bedside when the end came. I knew it was the end and I burnt the incense and put her Guru’s photo at her head and took the Gita and started to read the second chapter which is all about life, death and life after. My left hand was on the right side of her face as she breathed her last coinciding with the end of the chapter as well. I quote the lines “This is the state, O, Partha of the man who rests in Brahman; having attained to it, he is not deluded. He  who abides in this state even at the hour of death passes into oneness with Brahman” It was for me the most amazing and the most spiritual experience – almost as if I was midwife to the entire process and transition that had happened. I was not afraid at all and there was no resistance from me as well. Only a great intimacy, perhaps stronger than I have ever had with my mother even during her living years.

.The 26th March was also her birthday and we had all gathered to sing Happy Birthday to her and everyone hugged and kissed her even though she was in coma. Then we all shared her favourite sweetmeat. I then left for the Ramakrishna Mission of which she was a dikshita and brought in the “charanamrit” which I fed her with. Five hours after that in the presence of all of us at the Chronic Care Center she left her body.

The entire experience was really very spiritual. All my life I had dreaded the thought of her dying. In my early childhood I had a recurring dream in which I would always see her dead and would wake up crying. The dreams stopped abruptly in my teenage years. Nevertheless it was always a fear.

She had been ill for a long time and sometimes I would even wish that she would leave this body and mind and “take on a new dress” as it were but deep within the thought also made me afraid to lose her physical presence for the rest of my living years. Around the same time I also felt that I needed to clear the past with her. Things that had caused tension between us and unresolved issues from our past especially that she had been a single parent and by the time I saw my father for the first time I was 21. So there was a lot of back log as one can imagine. Hence, I spent days when she was conscious clearing as many things from the past so she felt completely okay about everything. It was good for both of us.

My mother was like my child. Although she gave birth to me, as I grew up, I became her mother! Whenever we were together I was the one who took care of her all the time. It sometimes made me very angry. It is harder to give than to take. It takes a lot more to give to our parents out of conscious desire and not out of duty. Hence her passing away became even more significant to me.

Death comes to all of us but we see it as an end of life, not as a part of life. We learn that it is a transition from one state to another but we still fear it. For me the experience was unique – just the exhalation of the last breath and the “movement” had happened. From this life to life after.

Death of a parent is one of the most profound experiences in life. We almost take it for granted that they will live forever – and they do in spirit but in the body they do go just as anything else in the world. For the first time we are truly adult and grown up. Overnight we know we cannot be a child anymore. The umbilical cord has snapped finally.

During this trying time that I sat beside my mother’s bed nursing a person in coma for over 13 days I prayed a lot not only for the release of her soul but also a great deal for myself. Crisis has always brought my needs before God and I have ardently prayed for myself and my own state of mind and body and healing even as the catastrophe is happening. I must tell all of you that the Lord answered all my prayers and more.

He gave me immense strength to bear this all by myself. He gave me a new family and tons of friends who bore my pain with me. Much prior to this happening He gave me a friend and companion whose moral and emotional support was a source of great strength for me. He gave me stability in spite of what had happened and even as I completed the last rights, I knew He had healed me and if at times I do cry it is only because I am human.

Not for a moment have I any doubt that He is a kind and a giving God and He loves me immensely. And He shows me the truth and has gifted me with insight to see His Workings without a moments’ doubt. It is always so clear.

When I returned from the cremation grounds to the house there was a little baby our house help was baby-sitting. The baby was only three months old and her mother had died in childbirth. I thought of birth, life, death  –  and life after.

I quote from the Gita, chapter two,” As a man casts off worn-out garments and takes others that are new, even so the embodied one casts off worn-out bodies and passes on to  others new”

Click to Listen to The Bhagavad Gita Chapter Two

 

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