Shaken but not shattered

I had a blind faith in humanity, in the triumph of good over evil, even in light of all the atrociousness around the world. Today my faith is completely shaken. I am inconsolable but I must acknowledge to myself and to you that it is not shattered. I urge you to do the same.

The outcome of this election leaves no room for skepticism as to what matters most to the majority of people in today’s America. It is grotesquely evident what they care about above all else including their own self-respect and dignity in case of the women who voted for Trump, is harboring the illusion of white supremacy. The outcome of this election makes it repulsively obvious; they are only driven by the motive of disregarding and rejecting the non-white, LGBT citizens and anyone unlike themselves. It’s painfully clear that they have no regard for egalitarianism. They chose to elect a deceitful, sexist, disrespectful, rapacious businessman to be the president of this country compelled only by their bigoted opinions. Their voracious desire to live in the ‘good old days’ of white supremacy and their strictly self-serving understanding of the sanctity of marriage is so great, they didn’t care he would drain them for everything for his personal gain.

The results of this election make it fairly evident that they don’t want me here only because my skin tone is brown even though I am a legal immigrant just like all of them. They may not want me and millions like me but it does not mean we don’t belong here. Feelings of trepidation sneaked up on me as I lay in bed last night after witnessing this catastrophic election in favor of a man who wants to deports millions of people and separate millions of families from each other. As a woman, I was indignant and nauseously offended that I live in a country where a man like him with so little regard for women, a man who treats women as a disposable commodity can be and has been elected the president.

But then I remembered that I cannot be scared, because that is what they want. He and his supporters might have won this election and it did break our hearts but we cannot allow it to break our spirits, we cannot allow ourselves to feel or act defeated. We are not. This can and will only make us stronger and wiser. We must boldly face this blow and turn it into strength and wisdom. We have to embrace this hatred with love and turn it into kindness. Our compassion is the only antidote to their hatred, just as our insight is the only potential cure for their ignorance. I believe every mind and heart can be healed with love and knowledge even if it seems unlikely.

I feel sorry for those whose motives of electing Trump as President were fueled by prejudice. They were unable or unwilling to see the cosmic repercussions their action would have on their own lives through the smog of hate that surrounds them. It must be terribly unfortunate to be so blindly unknowing and self-destructive that you can’t even realize yourself being stuck in a pit of slick mud as you rejoice over splashing it all around you in the hopes that some dirt may soil those you dislike, especially when you have no idea why you dislike them.

Through all this grime, we who can see have to forgive their unwarranted aversion and teach them love. Love has always been stronger than hatred and it always will be. The onus is now on us as citizens of this country and citizens of this world to keep marching forward with compassion as our sword to cut through the web of hate. We have to do this because as Hillary Clinton said in her painful but inspiring concession speech today, “fighting for what’s right is always worth it”.

My Father

How do I start this verse… or should it be written in prose
Your life, an unending tale of adventures, where do I start, how would I close
You have lived a life of a hero
Disguised as an ordinary fellow
Flipping through our old family albums, I see a man who looks just like you
His eyes emanating enthusiasm, prowess in his stance too
You don’t adorn a beard, ride motorcycles or drink beer straight from bottles like you once did
But youth thrives in your mind and in your soul and it can’t be hid

You are one of my favorite persons in the world since maybe I was five
I could be wrong but I can’t think of a time when it was otherwise
You are a simple man but full of intricate eccentricities
Easily elated by the use of your own innocuous duplicities
I have always loved and admired you though there were definitely those times
But even then, it was only your quirky rules that I really despised
When you’d turn off the air-conditioner soon as I dozed off on hot summer nights
Or when you’d tell me to figure my own way out of a pickle or when I’d get into a fight
When you’d wake me up to play tennis at the break of dawn
Or when you’d make me pull weeds with my tiny hands from our front lawn
I didn’t like it that you were always working and stayed at the factory late
Though now I can’t pretend I don’t know that it was for all our sake
Many a times, I appealed to your maternal side but you had none
Pushing me out of bed at five am in spite of my brawling so I could go learn
We had a comfortable life but you made sure we lived within our modest means
I hated your favorite saying, “We must save for the rainy days” when I wanted things
“Do you need it, can you do without it,” you’d ask me
And I remember how it would always drive me crazy!
You believed all kids really ever needed were books, morals and discipline
And anytime we had visitors, you’d make me tidy up and clean!
Though I didn’t care for any of the above in those instances
Now that I am a tad bit wiser, I am blown away by their significances

So much of what I love about myself you taught me
Inadvertently and subtly, I think, I emanate your personality
I have been told I am not a girly girl, even kind of hoydenish
And just like you, I can often act quite childish
Many have been misguided by our light-heartedness and willingness to laugh
Our readiness to forget and forgive their gaffes
You are surrounded by people who love you, who’d die for you and so am I
Though some may pretend but we see past their disguise
Some have even tried to abuse our generosity and kindness
Taken us for fools, I pity them; they are oblivious to their obvious blindness
They may think we are feeble and unwise
But you and I know, it is in forgiveness that our strength lies
We both have at times been criticized for taking a stance
You never did tremble and that’s why, now, I am able to stand

Some believe fools take chances and rush in
But you taught me life without adventures is not worth living
Going down a conveyor belt as if mass manufactured in an assembly line
Is how the most evolved beings in the universe choose to use their amazing minds!
Chasing a false sense security, dying to feel in control, fearful of the unknown
They spend their lives out of breath, feeling exhausted, wound up and worn
But you taught me to take chances, fight for what I believe in
To make a fool of myself, if I have to, but never just give in
You’d say, “Try flying, if you are afraid of heights,
try dreaming, if you are afraid of nights.”
You’d say, “ You may fall and may even look foolish trying
but without falling first, you could not stand back up, smiling”.
You taught me, its better to make a fool of myself than to die without living
To never take life so seriously that it’s not worth remembering
You taught me to keep on smiling and believing in possibility
To preserve my ingenuity in the face of conventionality
You taught me most everything I know
Then there is your lovely wife and my darling mom

When I was growing up, you were riding the tides
The never-ending demands of a new business kept you occupied
But in the midst of the chaos called life
When everyone was chasing time, I recall how you tried to prioritize
Though you didn’t help us with our homework or take us shopping, ever!
I am who I am today because of the moments we shared together

I remember our bike rides before school in the mornings
I was attending The Air Force School, was maybe ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen or fifteen
We’d go riding our bikes in the still uninhabited parts of town
Drawn to the ditchless roads and dozing pieces of land waiting to be built upon
That’s when I’d tell you about the troubles of the turbulent teenage life
I even remember mentioning about a boy asking me out before proceeding to seek your advice
I was clueless twenty years ago but now I am well acquainted with your life before I came along
I have endeavored to but I will never know how that day you managed to stay so calm and strong
Me mentioning something like that must have given you quite a shock
Considering you grew up in a village and at least till tenth grade wrote on a slate with chalk
Many a times we have heard anecdotes of you bathing buffaloes in the nearby pond
And how you have boasted of building your parents home with mud and stone
I have often wondered how you possibly managed to stay so placid and cool
Hearing of your daughter being bothered by some juvenile fool
You did not give any specific suggestions
On how I should handle this unique situation
You only said what you had said to me a million times before and hence
I know best, I am the best judge and what I decide affects me first and then everyone else

And oh how can I forget our drives to and back home from the farm
Though we spent half the time stuck in traffic, it somehow added to the charm
It allowed me to bring you up to speed on my dreams and aspirations
You were always supporting of my visions, always encouraging of my ambitions
And though back then I had not the slightest clue of what I wanted to do or become
You told me I could do anything I put my mind to, that there wasn’t a problem I couldn’t overcome
And though you always took full credit for all my strengths and superb virtues
I felt strangely secure when you told me I have nothing to fear as I take after you

After graduating high school, I tried to find the right track but in vain
I know my indecisiveness caused you stress, heartache and even financial strain
You never pressured me to follow the norm
I had all the freedom I could ever want in every shape and form
But blinded by the smog of conventionality, I lost the ability
To find my own way, to create my own chosen destiny
I tried to walk the paths most traversed for convenience and financial reward
Assuming I am no different, I followed the crowd
I sincerely strived but I couldn’t walk too long on those roads
And I had to take many detours before I found my hearts’ abode
You watched patiently as I made my turns
Anticipating with every bend what lessons I might learn
With nothing but a tiny idea for a feeble flashlight, I often fearlessly walked into the dark
Because even in instances you were not there with me, I knew you had my back
The lessons you taught me were my guide but the thing that gave me real strength
To keep on going and not look back, was your undying confidence
Sometimes I ponder over all the time and energy lost
In pursuit of my dreams, I have gained so much but at what cost
Reminiscing on the streets of my past, sometimes I get lost and stumble upon regret
But soon find my way, when I remember your words that I shall never forget
“No experience is a waste of time, every experience even if seemingly improvident,
Is full of lessons we would have lost otherwise, every experience makes us more prudent.”

I inherited a great quality from you, the ability to believe
“Because of obstacles never give up on your dreams”
You have enjoyed many successes because you worked hard and were unwavering
I never saw you tremble when the earth beneath your feet started quivering
Like most men and women, you too have experienced failure
And like all great men and women, you have accepted it with valor
Many a times life flung rocks at your face
Giant mountains emerged unexpectedly in your ways
But you always stayed calm and strong, never appearing worried or trampled upon
And as long as you got to play tennis everyday, all was well, nothing was ever wrong!
You knew you could make it through, no matter the circumstance,
And emerge at the other end, with your mind affecting the consequence

You have always said, “God helps those who helps themselves”
And I have seen you spend your life applying this adage to yourself
Though you too have faced mischances, the jar (of life) overflows with blessings, love and providence
Even stuck in difficult circumstances, this jar remained stable, braced by divine guidance
When you endured tribulations, when you were robbed, stabbed and shot
Your body was bruised, your bank account cried out, but your heart remained taut
Your soul stayed strong even under the weight of a heart that was torn
And though your body may have been broken, your mind was never worn
I couldn’t have been more than nine or ten when they sneaked into our home in the middle of the night, a thieving gang of five
Standing at the threshold of my room, half asleep but crying, I watched you wrestle these men armed with guns and knives
I remember the darkness that surrounded us, recall the deafening cries drowned in the loneliness of the night; moments like these are not forgotten easily
But what I remember most lucidly is the three of us watching helplessly as you grappled with those men to drive them out of our house, I remember you fighting them fearlessly
I used to think you are invincible; maybe it was my childlike naiveté to blame
I am no longer a child or naïve but I still believe the same
You fought like a hero that day and have lived like one every other day
In ordinary and extraordinary situations, “you just did right”, as Maya Angelou* would say
You enjoy telling embellished tales of how you enforce discipline onto those you catch in the act of treachery
Those who don’t know you or want to believe the worst in you, fall for these self-fabricated tales of cruelty
I really wish you’d stop entertaining clueless audiences
By portraying yourself as an unforgiving disciplinarian to prove your sapience
For those who really know you, know that you are a modest man with many virtues
So please stop trying to delude

Your life is a composition of beautiful melodies
Always enjoying everything you did immensely; you have lived your life simply but boldly
Born and raised in a small village, rearing cattle, chewing sugarcane in lieu of candy
Riding buffaloes in the pond, helping your parents on the farm, your childhood was dandy
And then the time came to decide whether to leave or stay per your parents’ commands
You chose to be brave and endorse your dreams, contrary to popular demands
Never looking back in regret, you have moved forward and on
You have traveled the world, experiencing life fully, without ever forgetting where you came from
You have eaten at the cafes in Paris and admired her breathtaking architecture
You have lived for eleven years in her jungles and bathed in the waterfalls in Nigeria
You have been to Canada and seen the wildlife that roams happily in Alaska
You have taken the trolley to the top of her mountains in Switzerland
You have relished her beauty gliding around in boats and in buses in Amsterdam
You have lived in the suburbs of Dallas and in winter eaten ice-cream in England
You explored and napped in the beautiful streets and parks of Portland
You have climbed mountains covered in snow
You have traversed the big seas and landed on the shore
And though you have enjoyed every one of these places with an open heart
Cherishing each moment, embracing their uniqueness and what sets them apart
You are still that boy from the village who’d lie on mud under the open sky counting stars
You are still that boy from the village who always returned home no matter how far

You are seventy years old but you still remember the lessons your father taught
Nuggets of wisdom you carry in your pockets that cannot be bought
He was a good man, a loving husband, a farmer, a brave soldier and an amazing father
He has long been gone but you still live your life everyday to make him proud and your mother
You have drawn courage from adversity and embraced failures
You have thrived in scarcity and succeeded in all your endeavors
You are always excited to learn new things with childlike eagerness
You never allow pride or ego to deter you from seeking assistance
You reject archaic ideologies and choose to uninhibitedly live in the present
You have many a times stepped out of your comfort zone to evade the bliss of ignorance
You have always practiced consideration and tolerance
You are quick to accept your mistakes and treat others with deference
And though you can sometimes be childish and persistent
You are always willing to apologize and make amends

Your father took great pains to make you the man you became
And what you did for us was the same
You taught us no matter the circumstance, to never evade responsibility
To persist with honest and uphold our integrity
You taught us to be brave and not let fear dictate our actions
To believe in our dreams and live a life of our own volitions
You taught us to pursue our calling, not just survive
To carve our own wings if we really wanted to fly
You taught us to swim, so we may not drown in the turbulent seas and never let the adventures of life pass us by
You taught us to ride with ours head held high through the convoluted, treacherous paths followed by judgmental, disapproving eyes
You encouraged us to take that leap, climb that mountain and mount that horse
You cheered us into running that race, break a leg, you said, if we had to, for it won’t hurt as bad as remorse
You told us to jump into the deep end of the pool before we knew how to swim, telling us we have nothing to fear, we are as strong as we dare to dream
Our bodies may ache, my hearts may break, and we may even bleed but as long as we believe in ourselves, our wounds shall heal

I try to live my life by your example and l love the person I have become
I thank you sincerely; you and mom are responsible for this incredible outcome
I am your darling daughter, which I believe, is the source of your secret power
For, you are a superhero, also known as my father

I love you and I shall always endeavor to make you proud.

Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can’t give you. So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. 
Take up the battle. Take it up. 
It’s yours. This is your life. 
This is your world.

– Dr. Maya Angelou

Think About It

Those who say life is not a fairytale have probably not yet truly lived. They have probably never felt gut clenching fear and soul crushing dismay. They have probably never really failed and so they have probably never truly won. They have probably never been humbled or been in awe. They have probably never experienced the ecstasy of the conquest and the elation of freedom. They have probably never even looked longingly into the open skies beyond the closed windows of the tower they remain entrapped within.  So they have probably never yearned to fly. How are they to then know what flying without wings could feel like. How are they to believe in magic. How are they to know life can be a fairytale if only you allow it.

Think About It

“She had to possess the courage to enter, through language, states which most people deny or veil with silence.”
― Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets and Silence, Selected Prose, 1966-1978

Think about it

“I must have no fear of failure. It was my fear of failure that first kept me attempting the Master Work. Now I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.” – Paolo Coehlo (The Alchemist)

Think about it

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”

– A.A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)

Difference between knowledge and understanding. Knowledge may not equate to really knowing. 

Such exceptional and honest insights into humanity found in many children’s literature are breathtaking and humbling in their profundity. I propose that it be made mandatory for all adults to revisit children’s’ books routinely to refresh the understanding of the most important lessons we were taught even before we turned 5 and are no longer able to discern at 25 or 35 or 55 or 75. Life washes our minds clear of the most important, life saving truths and all attempts should be made on our part to hold on to them. These truths if remembered and honored shall be the torch that help us find our way to a door when the lights inevitably turn off and darkness abounds.