‘A Letter To My Father’ by Priyanka Goswami

If I ask myself when could I be in my truest, most natural form; when could I be at my best yet know for sure that I could freely be at my worst without being judged. I would say and every daughter who has been at the receiving end of her father’s assured, unquestionable and undying love will agree with me, it’s the time when we are with our fathers. For me, it was when I was with You.

It’s been 17 years since you departed. As I think of it, I realize that soon enough, the time I will spend without in you in my life will outgrow the time I actually spent with you by my side.

The past 17 years have been a whole journey in itself. It has been an emotional odyssey of losing you, not allowing myself to believe and denying it till I could. Being mad about it, feeling sad and despondent till I finally settled that you were gone and there was nothing I could do to change it. For the longest time, whenever I thought of you, no matter how hard I tried to remember how well, bravely and graciously you lived, I could only think of how you died. It hurt and it hurt badly. But sometime, someday in those 17 years, I thought of you and smiled. I can now talk to people about you and narrate tiny snippets from your life, without breaking into tears. The pain of losing you has now become a part of me, like a scar from an old wound. It still hurts and itches every now and then. But it is also like a reminiscent, a reminder, of how grateful I am to have had you as my father even if it was for a slice of time that seems minuscule as compared to the rest of my enormous life.

It’s Fathers’ Day today and I think of the last 17 Fathers’ day and every single day that went by without you.

I miss you, I miss our conversations, I miss the warm hugs, the very rare arguments and cold wars and I miss making that twentieth cup of tea for you in a day.

You were a man of good taste. Every time I watch a nice movie, or read a good book or hear a new piece of news, I wonder what would you think of it. You loved reading books and magazines and everything you could find time to read. The newspaper was your friend and my greatest adversary because it owned your mornings. You might feel annoyed about it, but I still hate it. I don’t even buy a newspaper. I wonder what plans you had in mind for older years when you would get ample time for yourself. I ponder what you would think of the world and the ways in which it has grown and transformed in all these years.

I wish I could see you grow older. I might have teased you and called you an old man and you would probably return the favor by teasing me for my newly popping grey hair. That’s the kind of bond we had. You and me, and our very special bond. I remember telling you with supreme confidence that I am your favorite daughter. You would smirk at that and say, “Noooooo. I love three of you equally and you all are very special to me.” And the way you would smile because you knew that in my little head, I was your favorite daughter. And that was my most treasured, almost perfect idea of what I should be – ‘ My father’s favorite daughter’. That’s all, as simple as it can be.

You were always my guiding light. You would never tell me what exactly to do and what not. You just guided me. Like it was a game of figuring out life. You wouldn’t give me the answers but you would give all the necessary hints that I might need to figure it out on my own. Perhaps that’s why I am not good at taking commands or just following what others say. I take clues and twist them if that’s more suitable. Sometimes, it even backfires at me because, come on! I can’t even blindly follow a recipe at times.

Now that I am a mother myself, I wonder how you did it! Did you have a magic trick up your sleeve? Three of us, your three lucky daughters, are nothing like each other. We have hugely different ideas and temperaments yet you knew what each of us needed. Like a perfect gardener who has an absolute sense of the fact that each plant is different and needs to be tended differently to thrive. That every mighty sapling is a potential tree and it needs a different environment to transform into a splendid, indestructible tree, that can withstand any storm.

My biggest worry is whether I am the kind of tree you hoped for. I keep wondering If I grew up to your expectations even though you always said that we should never worry about the expectations you might have of us.  You always wanted us to be our happiest, unapologetic self.

Nevertheless, the daughter, the individual in me yearns to listen to your idea of me. It needs your validation. It is always certain of your unconditional love but it needs to know if you are proud of me. And I often think to myself that I have a long way to go before I can allow myself to believe that.

For the last 17 years, I haven’t really talked much about you and how I feel about you with others. It has been a deeply personal space which only a closer few have shared. But today, somehow, it feels like the right time to let it out (as much of it as can be said in words).

Because nothing probably hurts like the words that could never be said. Between you and me, there is a lot that couldn’t be told, couldn’t be heard and couldn’t be seen. But maybe you are listening. May be these words will find their way to you if I put them out, somewhere in the universe. Honestly, I am not sure.

But this story, the story of a father and his daughter, might remind every daughter that her father is the biggest of all blessings she has. Hug him, love him and take care of him while you can. But above all, listen to his stories. The stories of how he lived, all of them.

Trust me on that if you can. When people are gone, we try to find them in old letters, family albums and pictures. We expect them to show up in our dreams, but that’s not how it works. The only way you will ever connect with them is when you internalize all they said and all they taught you. You meet them right inside your heart when you become the person they hoped you would. It might be a long process to reach there, but never stop trying and be your father’s favorite daughter.

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Forgiven sins

Autumn is the season of forgiveness
A tree sheds all of its leaves, becomes naked
Another one changes from green to yellow
No one complains.. they accept and welcome the raw!

When the rain falls, it dissolves the dust into nothingness
Killing its identity and turning it into wet soil
Yet no one complains.. they cherish the sweet smell of damp earth
Monsoon is the season of committing sins with pride
They don’t mourn the dead, they laud the killer!

Winter is harsh and cold
We burn wood to keep ourselves warm, an act of survival
We justify the damage by calling it necessary
One species has to sacrifice for the sake of another
Winter is the month of self-forgiveness!
Are you still guilty?

Butterfly, Despair, and Mozzarella.

I was floating in the sea of hope
With waves gushing into my ears
Deafening me to the screeching crows
Hungry fishes nibbling through my skin
I knew when I 'd open my eyes, 
The sky would have turned from scarlet to blue
Blue, also a colour of despair
For a world that limits the one above between 6 walls of glass
This world is at the mercy of us humans
For it to look colourful and alive
Surviving on its worst and the best day
With nothing more than balls of wheat

Wheat, an ingredient so dynamic
It turns farmers into ‘breadwinners’
Defeat may look like bread without butter
Victory could be pizza on a fancy table
Tomato sauce becomes the weaker sex
Mozarella is the only value addition
Mozzarella, the alcohol for modern world problems
That people share to treat their vices
In a world confused between trees and buildings
Is the boulevard of misguided faiths and dusted empathy
How I wish the greys could be greener
And like a child I could chase butterflies.

The years that were four…

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In the anticipation of sharing our fears

We walked the darker roads

Claiming to be free from commitments

Didn’t realise we were pulling towards

Studying each other through black and white

We were stuck in the grey

Trying to separate the colours and understand

The inseparable spectrum of togetherness

While smothering the older flames

We screened each other in various games

Creating a mess so profound

Gathering broken glasses bit by bit

Unapologetic of the endless nights

Wakefulness to see the sunshine

‘What are the odds’ you asked

I said, ‘Of completing a circle together’

No corners and no pauses

The constant movement of our orbit

Trying to win our solo rides

Together we were lost in nothingness

Sleeping with the differences

Waking up to the habits that bound us

Striving to recognise the invisible shield

Reflecting us on the same side

We pushed and pulled the threads

Tying us to a distant dream

In search of which you and me

Shall move alone and together.

The Road Less Travelled

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Tall trees in bloom with several violet flowers, the flapping red flag high up on the tomb of a temple; I drive through the sharp turns, moving closer and further from the rocky walls. The chilly wind piercing through my skin, hair trying to veil my eyes, blocking the view of the endless mountain peaks that can only meet the sight.

Old, vacant dwellings, far from each other. Bridges connecting the roads that were never meant to be. I don’t like to see co-travellers during this journey.

The mountains are too big to ascend and their peaks too difficult to reach. When I turn and climb in an attempt to elevate, I want to be the only soul perceptible. Hills must be the place where the holy spirits dwell; human presence may kill their peace. I witness the birds flying in one direction, then resting and larking at a sight invisible to me.

I want to have a conversation with who they see, ask them if they are searching for something as well. Whether they have any companions, or if they too dream of a mysterious place similar to these hills.

I am still waiting for an answer, while the hues of vermilion turn into a silver sky without stars. The hissing wind sounds like the heavy breathing of someone tired of walking miles, with the satisfaction of having accomplished a purpose in its pause. I stare into the nothingness to see the motion of light, leaving the place tranquil with neighbouring darkness of the night. He left again, may be to seek another human like me, to convince them of a fulfilment just like they did to me.

 

How is a revolution conceived ?

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King

Ever seen a child play? He goes by his whims and imaginations and never by the rules. That is how the human spirit ought to live; free to want, free to speak, free to dream, free to err, free to learn, free to believe. When this is denied, it attempts to gain the freedom to question and challenge. As we grow up, the spirit is chained by the shackles of family, society, governing authorities, nations and boundaries. The list of the appropriate and the inappropriate is something we can get for free, but freedom is never free!

Assuming that early men never had a schedule, a code of conduct, a fixed recipe, a to-do list, a deadline to meet, or a rule to follow, their evolution was a result of their experiences and the learning from the same. This was neither certified by an authority on a certain parameter nor compared with the performance of others. They must have hunted whatever they wanted to eat; using whichever tool they were confident about. And so it starts with survival. It always starts from the basics, and that is what it comes down to after taking the highest leap. End mirrors the beginning.

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more dangerous to the spirit within a man than suffering. It harms the nature and existence of the spirit. Coz when we do something not because we want to do it, but because we are expected to do it, it kills a certain part of the absolute spirit, and once the absolute start dissolving, it becomes more prone to further harm and loses strength. When this pattern becomes repetitive, we believe the spirit gets immune to it. That is where we go wrong. It’s not the regular pressure that makes the sky cloudy, it takes low pressure to make the clouds rain. A ball cannot bounce back until it hits the ground. That is the point, the basic, the ground, where the revolution is born.

The spirit seeks justice, absolute justice. It refuses anything it considers unfair. Freedom to be is its choice, and when that is denied, it revolts. “Coz justice is a judgement that is both fair and forgiving. It is not only the way we punish the wrong but also the way we try to save them…. Sometimes it is necessary to do the wrong thing, for the right reasons. The important thing is to be sure that our reasons are right, and that we admit the wrong”- Shantaram

People who do not raise a voice are the people who always console themselves. Consoling is nothing but a form of acceptance and suffering. A soul that does not console itself is a soul that will fight back. “Tolerating injustice is encouraging injustice”- said my father on his last day, unaware of its influence on my cloudy mind. Some feelings sink so deep into our hearts that only freedom from them can help us find them again.

Also, those who console themselves do not love themselves. If you love your soul, you will not accept what you do not deserve. Suffering is a sign of weakness, bouncing back, a symbol of strength. What and who you love should become your strength, not your weakness; coz love is a passionate search for a truth other than your own. “Let me say at the risk of seeming ridiculous that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”- Che Guevara

But this does not mean that freedom is absolute. Freedom should be mutual, a manifestation of all the individual freedoms thriving to attain justice. In your own quest to get free, you cannot harm others’ freedom. It has to be neither submissive nor autocratic, but progressive. Justice cannot bring ego, it should bring peace. And peace is what nurtures our soul.

“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”- Into the Wild

Love Child of The Sun and Moon

They breathe in the same sky and attract the same wind,

Shine to the same world and indulge in a common sin.

Enlighten the audience and wish them a new start,

But play them for a fool when the lights are awfully dim.

They trade their glow for a fleeting lust,

Create an illusion of a proceeding end.

Vary in virtues yet can’t help yearning,

The nasty exchange of desires becomes a vicious trend.

Seeking new beginnings to grow n let grow,

Makes it vital for the feelings to flow.

They choose to conclude and start out to venture,

In a new set of commitment they can’t seem to enter.

Aware of the impossibility of their co-existence,

They defy all values attached to their togetherness.

Whenever the night fades and arrives a new morn..

A love child of the Sun and Moon is born.

A Rendezvous with Bliss

One evening, while I was sitting alone, sipping coffee and reading about terror-stricken Muslim countries, my mind wished for a break and heart for some peace. I looked outside the adjacent window, facing the street and the park across it. It had turned cloudy and the sky was colourful with shades of blue, grey and pink. Towards the west were hues of orange scattering around the setting sun. Trees were dancing in tandem with the cool wind and in between were the vermillion rays flickering.

The park was bustling with people of all ages. Majority of them being children, playing and swinging around, all clad in colourful clothes and looking like flowers in between the greens from that distance. I was lured enough to walk out and cherish the beautiful evening instead of sitting inside and sinking into the emptiness. I walked out and let my awareness infuse with the freshness and delight of the moment.

Walking towards the park, I saw an aged couple, probably in their late 70s, sharing some joke and laughing. The female was blushing and looking on the other side while her husband was smiling and slowly removing the tresses falling on her face. I could not help but smile at the sweetness of that sight. And my belief in the grace of that grey-haired age grew only stronger. Since, by then, you have lived a major part of your life, experienced changes, seen ups and downs, fulfilled responsibilities, have no desires but love, there comes a content and innocence only children can have. No wonder people often compare childhood with old age.

On moving ahead, I was closer to the euphoric kids who looked curious and frolicsome. A little girl of about 5 was telling her friends about a month old new canine member in her family. The children skirting her were listening to her with a lot of wonder, mouths open in awe and eyebrows pointing like a mountain peak… sheer innocence!

Walking further, I saw a young lady sitting on a bench and watching the kids playing nearby. From her adoring blaze, it was apparent that she was the mother of one of those kids on the swing. That veritable intrinsic smile, which is specially gifted to mothers; mothers who can’t stop admiring their little bundles of pleasure.

As I took a few more steps to reach a bench and sit, I felt a drop on my arm. No sooner did I realize it, it started drizzling and the kids started yelling in joy. They were hopping on the green grass, looking at the sky, eyes gleaming and enjoying the showers from heaven. Mothers who were around came running to take their kids back, some seeking shelter under trees and others running towards their abodes across the street. Oldies also started retreating but at their own pace, holding hands and supporting each other.

I was still walking slowly, getting drenched, not just in the rain, but at the moment; a moment of harmony with nature and its beauty. The music of rain and thunder, feeling the wind and the raindrops on my skin. A moment in which everything seems right and you live in the present, love the present. A moment when you smile alone, to no one and to everyone. Eternal bliss!

Confessions of a Thoughtful Mind

In bed and not sleepy. Just thinking..about past, present and future. The important people that I have lost. The good and bad they did to me, the good and bad I did to them. Whether it was really how I think about it, or my judgments were wrong.

The good times that hurt now, because they happen no more. The bad times that you regret, yet they taught you a lesson in life. Your past makes you happy because it was good. Some losses are for the good, some for the bad. Some of them were too good to be lost, a losing them gives birth to self-doubt. Your inability to pursue it further in life. You start contemplating about the righteousness of the decisions you took then. ‘Things were good, could they have been better if continued or only worsened?’

Past and future occupy you so much that you spoil the present. You ask yourself questions for which you have no answers. Every day you take a pledge to not ponder over it again. But the mind does not function alone, heart accompanies it always.

You sit alone, and you like it. You look for solitude and alienate yourself from those around. At times it helps, at times it doesn’t. In my case, it usually does. That’s especially when people around don’t know about your problem. They judge you on the basis of your involvement in it instead of realizing the vulnerability of the time it occurred to you. As a result, a distance is created, but its temporary, considering you cannot be in the same mental frame for long. And should not be as well, unless it’s a happy state. 🙂 People who don’t judge you are the people you share it with, coz you know you can. Though not as intensely as you share it with yourself. They do guide you and correct you, yet understand you selflessly, they are friends! They usually suggest what is right, coz they have the privilege of looking at the issue practically and not only emotionally. You are convinced and you agree. You take a decision and feel better about it. But that’s temporary. As they say, when we sleep, the mind is relaxed, but the heart is not. When the mind is sleeping, heart alone does the thinking and loses rationality completely. You want space, not just from others, but also from your own thoughts, the hollowness. You try to fill the vacuum. People who create it are not available, but their memories are.

You compare the past with future. You hope that it shall be better yet doubt the same. You think that the decisions you take now could prove you wrong. Then to make yourself feel lighter, you try to convince yourself that it indeed shall be better, coz that’s what you deserve. But the truth is, you are stuck to the past until future happens..and present is lost in between. In the world of emotions, the present is more hypothetical than future. Future is achievable but we do not realize it, in this process, we forget to achieve the present.

In fact, the present is what is most important. It can redeem you of your past and help the future to be brighter and happier. I take a sigh, believe in the present, smile to myself and close my eyes!

Random Thoughts

Silence often helps in finding the right answers.

Love is like the air which can never cease. Some relationships are like the cool breeze which soothe your senses and some are like the dust storms which pollute the very existence of air.

Winning and losing lose their relevance when it comes to spreading smiles across the faces of those you love.

Religion not only teaches us how to worship our God but also gives us a reason to fight.

When two people suffer a loss of the same magnitude, a silent touch consoles more than words.

If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.

Love has its own time, season and own reasons. You can’t ask it to stay, you can only embrace it as it comes and be glad that for a moment in your life, it was yours.

The truth you speak has no past and no future, it is, and that’s all it needs to be.

If words express, silence heals.

The beauty of emotions is that you can’t be logical about them.

Vagueness should not always be misunderstood for lack of clarity or inability to express, it can sometimes strike the right balance between how much to express and how much to conceal.

It is simple to be complicated but extremely complicated to be simple.

It is important in life to conclude things properly, only then can you let go.

You are in the most realizing and receptive state when in bed and not sleepy.

In any partnership, personal or professional, it’s not about being 50:50, but knowing when to be 70 and when to be 30.

It is wiser to find out than to suppose.

To err is human, but to stick to the error even after knowing its an error……Blunder!

Educating children cannot be the only solution to our socio-economic problems. They learn as much at home as in school. They observe us and repeat their observations. What’s important is to be good teachers ourselves and set an example.

Peace is not something you wish for, it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.

Crying in front of the wrong people is worse than laughing in front of the wrong people.

The difference between a good and a bad decision is equal to the difference between relying on what you know and relying on what you perceive.

Seasons depict life in a beautiful way. Waiting for autumn is like a child waiting for his future, a stage of excitement and unfamiliarity..while spring is like old age, having already seen the winters and at peace with the past.

Fasting is not just for food and from the tummy, it is in the mind, an exercise of self- control.

Religion is not about idle worship….its in the magic and beauty of nature, the Sun rising every day, the Moon balancing the heat with its calm, the rivers, the greens… And it’s about keeping the God inside alive!

Anything or anyone you are extremely attached to should only be your strength, not your weakness. And unfortunately, if it does become your weakness, it’s time to be stronger and let it go.