Keep Calm….she brought a boy home!

23 Jun

My daughter yells at me….”you never believe us”…..as she tries to storm out of my room. I yell at her. I warn her not to walk out. She persists. I grab hold of her hand and she kicks me. I am infuriated now. I say that if she does not stop kicking me, she will get a whack. She shouts at the top of her voice. Screaming -“you always talk about child abuse….. Now you are abusing me! I reach the peak of my patience. I slap her and say “now you can drama and say I abused you”. She says – “I am leaving and storms out of the house. My husband, her step father follows her until she reaches the door steps of my parents home, a 15 minute walk away. 

It all began when my mum called me one afternoon whilst I was at work. My mum started yelling at me. She was not happy that my eldest daughter at age 14 invited guy friends over. You see- my mum is rather the conservative sort. My mum did not believe in boys and girls being friends. My mum always feared the unthinkable. What if the girl gets pregnant? What if people say things? How can we trust any boy? And so, growing up, I never revealed my guy friends to my parents. 

It was only when I turned 21 did I introduce my parents to a boy. I later ended up marrying this boy despite all attempts by my mum to keep me away from him. Arranged marriage was the only option to my mum…..something I was determined never to succumb to. 

My daughter had told me days earlier that she was inviting friends over. To watch movies in the home theatre room, she said. Little did I realise that these friends consisted of 2 boys and a girl. They did watch movies but lying on a bed from a laptop. 

So there I was in a dilemma. On one hand was my mother appalled by what was going on and on the other hand was my daughter who did not understand what was so wrong about having guy friends. And in the midst of it all was me. What should I do? I had plenty of guy friends most of whom are platonic. Some of whom are good friends. I enjoyed hanging out with my guy friends. At the same time, I was mindful of my mother’s fears. The need to protect my daughter and shield her from “naughty hormonal” boys was at the back of my mind. What if I allow her some liberalism and it back fires on me? But how could I be so archaic to disallow her to have guy friends. 

I decide to interrogate my younger daughter before dealing with the situation. “They were not on the bed”, she said. They were not doing anything. But as I probed her, all hell broke loose. 

My older daughter simply said , ” grandma is ancient. And you are my mother. I do not care what she thinks. ” She was right. I was her mother at the end of the day. I had to decide how I wanted my daughter to think and behave. I realised that to her a boy was just as much a friend as a girl. To her, they are part and parcel of life. 

I ponder on it. I remembered how I never understood my mother’s ways. I recalled how I too felt my mum should have more trust in me. I resented the fact that I always had secrets from my mum for fear that she will judge me and get upset about any of my male friends. I recoil at the pains I went through simply for wanting to marry a man of my choice. 

In a way my daughter was right. It was abuse to forbid her to have male friends. It was cruel to make her shun boys. It was in the name of honour, my mum used to say. But it simply made me feel like I was inferior to have to be kept away from boys. 

The reality is that my daughters will meet boys in her daily life. She will grow up and marry one some day. But as a mother it was my duty to teach her values and morals and to watch over her the best I can and yet allow her the freedom to interact with her friends male or female. 

As J.D. Salinger said- “Mothers are all slightly insane.”

The Indian wedding. 

24 May

As I enter the room, I see her. Clad in a dark red Saree. Gleaming with jewellery. Her sister dotes over her. She was going to get married. I sat watching as jasmine flowers were woven through her hair in a braid that fell all the way down her back. Her face was glowing and radiant. A smile sat permanently on her face. An expression of ignorance of what life had in store for her.

She was barely an adult. Just twenty one. And there she was getting ready to take a leap of faith and chance to live the life of a wife- to a boy she did not know. Her eyes were filled with hope and a sweet innocent anticipation of her new life. The life that she was brought up believing is what every woman must embrace. The life that she and every girl in India are told to be their destiny. The life of marriage. The life of a wife. The life of a subordinate woman.

Almost 89% of marriages in India are arranged. My parents for one had an arranged marriage. They have now lived as husband and wife for 45 years. My mother like the girl placed her entire life in the hands of a man that became my father. My mother too took that leap of faith. My mother too soon discovered that marriage was only the beginning of life.

My heart went out to this girl that I hardly knew. If only I could tell her that life did not end or begin with marriage. I wish I could tell her that the 22 year old boy she was about to marry cannot define her. I longed to enlighten her that marriage was not quite a bed of roses. I wanted to shield her from the fallacy that marriage was a fairy tale. I wanted to embrace her and tell her that life was just beginning.

My mind drifts to 16 years ago. I sat clad in a purple Saree as henna was put on my fingers in a pre-wedding ritual. The next day, I married a man that I had known for five years. I soon learnt that marriage was not a bed of roses. I ultimately realised that what I am and who I was slipped away slowly as I strived to please my marriage. I lost myself and became nothing more than a wife. Like that girl, I too was told that marriage was what defined me. I too was led to believe that my freedom and life would blossom with marriage. I learnt the hard way that there was no such thing as Prince Charming.

I however was blessed. I managed to break free from the shackles of marriage. It was only when I was rid of the bonds of marriage did I find myself. I no longer identified myself as a wife. I realised that I was my own person and nothing or no one could make me whole. But most certainly, those around us can without a doubt break us.

Just 3 months ago, I embraced marriage again. But this time, I was ready. I had learnt that marriage must be taken by its horns rather than let it consume me. I learnt that marriage is all about two separate lives living side by side, never two lives becoming one. I was revived having full knowledge of what marriage is. I know now that it was patience and compromise that made a marriage. I understand now that love was merely the icing in a marriage.

The boy and the girl sit side by side as husband and wife. They exchange silent glances and shy smiles. As I walk away, I say a prayer that they find the beauty in marriage. I wish that they live happily ever after!

Breathless in 2014……….

31 Dec

If I could think of one word that describes 2014, it would be breathless. Breathless like a fish out of water gasping for air in the face of death. Breathless like standing on top of the himalayas so high up that it feels like I can touch the clouds. Breathless like the magic of shooting stars showering up high in the night sky.

I ushered in 2014 with anticipation of change. My year started with by 40th birthday celebration. I decided that when I turn 40, I would like to celebrate it with people that meant the world to me. My birthday started with a dinner with my beautiful children on the eve before. Followed by lunch and then dinner with close friends and a surprise cake lit in a dark room when I arrived home. Without a doubt, my 40th birthday was simply magical. My birthday party was at none other than Marini’s on 57th….up high on top of one of the tallest restaurants in the world with 15 of my closest friends. Seeing all my good friends together in one room was breathless!

Travel was a major theme in 2014 for me. Florida with my family that made be feel like a breathless child giddy on the roller coasters. New York, the city that never sleeps that mesmerised me with its vibrant ways. Sydney with a dinner cruise that left me with a smile and with new friends. Snorkeling amidst beautiful fish in Koh Li Pe was an amazing experience. And the last but not least, Nepal with one of my best friends was simply mesmerising. At that very moment, I felt like I was standing on top of the world- almost literally!

2014 also saw me going through a spiritual phase. It saw me examining my own religion and various other religion around me. It led me to the conclusion that religion is morphine for the masses. It led me seeing that it did not matter what religion one belonged to- but what mattered was what lies in your heart.

It goes without saying that 2014 saw me doing a fair bit of charity work. The joy of helping a friend cook food and feed the poor and homeless is yet another breathtaking feeling. Raising money to promote the status of women in society and helping organise a forum for women to learn about their rights were fulfilling experiences.

Of course, the glitz and glam of 2014 was not without some tragedy. 2014 saw me with a cervical cancer threat. The biopsy thankfully turned out to be benign but left me with the sad knowledge that I am one of those persons with a high risk of cervical cancer from a virus that I contracted from my ex-husband. The pain and frustration made be feel breathless and hopeless.

2014 saw me battling with a bad back with painful mornings. This however, led me into a more healthy lifestyle and a new love for exercise!

2014 was a year which taught me that “I” am important. I learnt the hard way, that I needed to think about myself and what I wanted out of my life over others in order to find my own happiness. And so 2014 saw me cutting ties that were toxic and painful as it was, I let go of friendships that dragged me down. As much as it may seem selfish, it was a necessary evil.

Last but not least, 2014 showed me love. Without a warning, love landed on my door step – when I least expected it. It showed me how it felt to be loved unconditionally. It made me see that true love was easy and not hard. It made be feel truly breathless.

As a Malaysian, 2014 has been a trying year. 2014 was plagued with racial and religious dilemmas. 2014 saw airplanes go missing with our loved ones on board. 2014 saw massive floods wipe out our homes and destroy lives.

2014 with all its highs and lows, made me breathless……… and leaves me waiting for 2015 with bated breath!

Just give me a reason…..

5 Aug

The first thing she noticed as she walked in was him. There was something about him. The way he sat on a bar stool facing away from the bar. The way he was seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. The intense look in his face as he typed messages on his phone. His nonchalant body posture at ease with his surroundings. And most of all the fact that he seemed to have not noticed her – someone who had never been to that place. He didn’t pay attention to the boisterousness of their conversations and her insaneness that day.

She heard herself say that she had to make sure she struck a conversation with him. She wanted to make sure she would be noticed and most of all remembered. Looking back- she did not know why she had that urge.

But when she finally caught his attention it was his smile that touched her the most. It was the warmest and most genuine of smiles she had ever seen. That first meeting led to many more. Things flourished. Without a doubt he was an antidote for her broken heart. He made her believe once again that there was such a thing as love and romance- maybe!

They say people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. And so she wondered was he a reason- to help her heal and find hope and happiness? Or was he a season- to walk her through a lonely phase in her life? Or maybe just maybe he may just be there for her lifetime. A soul mate to live her life with. Someone to grow with. Someone to hold her hand and walk through life with her. Secretly she hoped that this time- he was for a lifetime!

She had once felt the same way before. It was his shiny grey blue eyes that locked her gaze. He always seemed to be everywhere she went. It was a whirlwind kind of love affair. It hits you fast and quick and you did not know what hit you. But a lifetime hope stopped at a season. Or maybe a reason. She was barely 20 when they met. She was just 35 when he left. The reason was to give her her three beautiful kids. The reason was to teach her never to be impulsive. The reason was for her to learn that love did not make life a bed of roses. It left her wounded! It left her lost! It definitely made her strong.

The first time she met him, her mind said stay away. He is trouble. How could that be she thought. She felt a strong bond to him. It was as if they knew each other from a different life. They were in many ways the same and yet different. They were like the sun and the moon. Like darkness and light. Like earth and fire. This too she felt might be a lifetime kind of relationship. This time however she knew her love alone was never enough. Without a doubt it ended- a reason or a season? A reason for her to help him through a difficult phase in his life. A reason for her to learn to recognise love when it came knocking. A season for her to grow and build herself. For her to find herself. For her to realise that she did not need a man to make her happy. For her to see that happiness was within her.

But do we have a choice whether to accept these people in our lives? Can we choose to avoid them for a reason or a season to avoid the heartbreak when they leave? They are without a doubt necessary for us to live our life. Who they are, why they are and for how long they are is all written in the stars! And so, even if they seemed so wrong, they are right for a reason.

As Buddha says- we ourselves must walk our path!

Love Your Fate -Friedrich Nietzsche-

Dying young….

31 May

They say life and death are the two things that are certain. It is God it seems that determines our destiny – and so I have heard – countless times throughout my life that, our life and our death are written on our foreheads. These writings by God which marks the start and end of our lives are etched in stone when we are mere 3 month old foetuses in our mother’s wombs. Everything else in between our life and our death, they say, is determined by our choices in life.

But as a person in the prime of my life, I, like many around me, never stopped to ponder on death. I woke up everyday taking it for granted. I assumed I will live my life step by step through the countless cycles until I am old- or rather much older than I am now. I am constantly fighting the currents of life that it never once occurred to me that the angel of death may be looming around me. My life as I saw it had a long path ahead. My life as I felt it had minutes hours days months and years left to live. I had many plans in my life. And never did I imagine that time might be against me.

It all happened one day when what was a routine medical check up I did every year turned out to be my warning bell that life – my life- might be cut short. That my life might be suddenly taken away from me. A revelation that was hard to fathom and which hit me hard knocking me off my feet. Why me? I had no answer.

They say- we should live our life as how we want our obituary to sound in our death. I sat pondering that day- what would I be remembered for? What was my significant contribution to life itself? What had I done to make my life worth it and most of all- had I lived my life as best I could. What would my obituary say.

It dawned on me then that in my bid to live life to the fullest – I had not lived life at all. I like many around me, lived life as how we are taught to live it. Study hard and get a degree – we were told as a child. Work hard and make a good living- we are reminded. Marry and have kids- our mothers constantly reminded us. All these things- I did. But faced with impending death, none of these achievements meant that I had truly lived life. My obituary as I saw it would say – loving mother and obedient daughter! Nothing more.

I hear the song “if I die young” faintly in the distance. The lyrics- “funny when your dead how people start listening” kept coming back to me. I realised then it was not about living life as how we want to be remembered in our death. It was not about whether we had done all the right things we were told must be done. But it was living our life to the fullest. It was about embracing life itself. It was about fighting for life itself! For in death we become but a memory and all that remains is our voice heard during our life.

And so- the remaining moments of my life- shall not be about framing words to be spoken in my death but rather touching other lives and hearts – and leaving a mark that will be heard and listened when I am gone!

As Oscar Wilde aptly said- To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all!!

When Death Comes Knocking………

31 Mar

They say that in the 12 seconds before your death, your whole life flashes before your eyes. I often pondered what about my life would I see in the 12 seconds before my death. How could a lifetime be captured in a matter of moments. I cannot for the life of me imagine the 12 seconds that I will see in the moments preceding my death. But most certainly I hope it would be a happy and peaceful vision which would leave me with a smile on my face.

And it was this thought that came to me as I sit at the wake of a man that I never knew in my lifetime. A man that I had heard so much about in his lifetime and even more in his death. Majestic, simple and kind hearted were some of the words I saw used to describe him by a myriad of people. These words would forever paint the image of this man that I have never met and never will. But most certainly when I visited him on his death bed- the words kind hearted, majestic and simple did flash through my mind. It was written all over his face.

My mind drifts to a conversation I had with an ex boss of mine. I walked into his room to chat as I often did. He tells me that he had just finished writing his orbituary. I was appalled. Why would you do that I exclaimed. It was rather morbid, I thought, to write your own orbituary. I want to live my life as how I would like to be remembered in my death, he said. Always live your life as how you want others to remember you when you are gone, he said. This lesson I learnt then made me ponder about my life and what I would be in my death.

And so today I wonder, what would my own orbituary say. Just hours ago, I was seated between two men. One of whom said- I only know her as the caring mother, caring for her kids and her horses. The other said, I have not seen that side of her- I only know her as the person always inviting me out for drinks. At that moment I could not but help to think that what I am differs in the eyes of each persons around me. What I truly am, I hoped, would be the essence of my orbituary and the memories of me that I want to leave behind.

I recall asking a friend about 2 years ago- what would be the one word he would use to describe me, if he were to write my orbituary and describe me in my death. A blessing, he said. At that moment, I laughed and shrugged off his comment. But in the days that follow, I did hope that I would be a blessing to all those around me. And since that day I do endeavour to be a blessing to all those around me simply by giving my all to life itself.

They say life and death are the two things certain in life. How we live our life will define our death. As a famous Indian proverb goes- When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one!- Kahlil Gibran

The Everest beckons……

22 Feb

I open my eyes and see the sun emerging. I walk out to the balcony of my room and am mesmerised with the view. The sun rising. The Himalayas in the distance. The snow capped Everest stands visibly looming over the valley below. The view takes my breath away.

I feel like I had reached the end of the world. The place where journeys end. Where souls find peace and enlightenment. I cannot help but think that I must be blessed to reach this corner of the world – something that I never imagined I would have achieved in my lifetime.

My mind drifts to the people that reside here. How wonderful it must be I think, to wake up daily, and see the sun rising over the mountains. To feel the positive energy surround oneself. To imagine that one is closer to God and enlightenment. They say that the Everest has a spirituality that allows one to reach enlightenment. And I feel excited to take a closer view to see this majestic mountain with a hope that my spirituality is renewed.

Just days before, I visited the famous temples surrounding Kathmandu. Nepal they say is a country with more temples than homes. And so, I had a fervent desire to understand and feel the powers that these temples are said to possess. Many say they find their path upon visiting these temples. I could not wait to feel the cure that these temples would bring to my soul that was in search of a spiritual meaning. After all Nepal was where Buddha was born.

I am born a Muslim. As a child I was never really forced into practising Islam. I never really understood the rules and regulations that seem to plague Islam. In my twenties, I went to an Islamic university where I learnt about Islam and it’s rules. I still had no answer to the many odd rules that Muslims are subjected to. Don’t question I was told. Just follow and trust in God.

Soon after, I reached a point in my life where I often question about religion. God I believed in. God I loved. But religion – the many types and facets of it boggled me. How do we know which was the true religion. How do we know which is the right path to follow. I desperately wanted to understand the many different paths towards reaching God.

And so with a hope to find an answer I land in Kathmandu with a dear friend of mine. In the days that followed we visited many temples. Buddhist temples that practice Buddhism the Tibetan way. Buddhist temples that practiced Buddhism the Nepali way. Hindu temples of lord Shiva and Krishna. The sacred river where ashes of cremated Hindus were sent flowing towards enlightenment.

As I look around I discovered that people here were no happier than those in other parts of the world. Their average wage is usd2 a day. They live day to day maybe even moment to moment. Their wants cover the basic necessities of life. We noticed that they did not have many vices- they hardly smoked or drank alcohol. The shops shut down at 10am. People arose to the sound of the bells in the temples and strived to say mantras whilst spinning wheels in hopes of finding enlightenment.

It was here that I realised religion was truly morphine of the masses. People turned to religion to help them find their way. Religion helped them have hope. Religion gave them an aim in life. Religion was an outlet to release their troubles and pain. But does religion really do all that?

One thing was certain. The people here appeared calm. They appeared at peace with themselves. They had smiling faces. They did not beg for help from foreign tourists. They were a picture of zen. Life in Nepal they say moves slowly. And truly so- these people had no desire to rush through life. They cherished it bit by bit. What is their secret I wonder? I conclude that is must be the aura of the mountains overlooking them and making me feel like I was closer to heaven.

I never got close to the Everest. I was not blessed they said. The Sherpas that are blessed to live on the Everest practice compassion and selflessness. Maybe I lacked one of these two qualities. Maybe I was not ready to experience the enlightenment that the Everest holds. But in that brief moment I stood staring at the sunrise amidst the Himalayas- I found peace!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: