Friday, November 27, 2009

From Silence to Omnipresence

There is so much to learn. When does one start putting the lessons to practice? Reading and listening to Spiritual Leaders can be addictive since there is a sense of 'feeling good' in their words. The challenge is putting the lessons to use while living in the world. The Oneness Experiment by James Twyman and Anakha Coman makes it possible to practice what I have learned over the last many years. The experiment has shown me the presence of Oneness in every event, thing and person I have encountered over the last 3 weeks. The experiment has helped me understand the power of my own thoughts and feelings in very practical ways. Every breath, every sight, every touch, every thought is a step on my journey towards knowing the Eternal Spirit better and recognizing it as the omnipresence it is.

For many years I claimed not to have time to meditate. Meditation then meant sitting in silence for a period of time and concentrating or focusing on a name or a light or a thought. Today everything is a meditation - if I choose to make it so. Remaining present in the moment is really what meditation is. Cooking, cleaning, writing, bathing, reading, watching TV, conversing - everything I do becomes a meditative state if I can remain fully attentive to what it is I am doing. Breathing - every single moment even when I am sitting down doing nothing - is a life experience if only I acknowledge it for what it is. I write, read, clean with a sense of enjoyment and it becomes valuable, with a sense of boredom and it becomes boring, with a sense of dislike and it becomes painful, with a sense of non-involvement and I remain oblivious to it. It becomes that which I bring of myself to it. Why then should I not choose to bring my entire self to the task with gusto and make every moment of my life a series of fireworks that light up my world? As I sit here writing this piece I look around me and there is so much to do, fold the laundry, clear the sink, do the cooking, sweep the kitchen, do the groceries, pay the bills, call my children - and yet I am sitting back enjoying writing without the tasks bothering me. When I am done with my writing I will take on the next task and enjoy that one too. I can choose to sit and fret about the pending tasks as I write - that would mean losing out on the pleasure in writing. So I choose to acknowledge the tasks and continue to write and enjoy every word as it floats out of my mind into my fingers and onto the screen. I bring all of me into my writing and that becomes my meditation for this moment.

The challenge is dealing with people - especially the ones who are on a different wavelength than I find myself in. I have found that the best way to deal with them is to remain fully present in their presence. I do not have to participate in conversations on subjects that do not excite me as much as it excites them - but I can choose to be fully present without being judgmental about them or their words. That is all that is required for me to be in a meditative state even in the presence of others. Imagine - meditating with your eyes wide open and seeing the goodness of others glow out of them as they speak. It is very exalting - once I have stopped judging their appearance and their words. This takes time - my habit of years, of forming opinions first must be curbed and I must rewind and accept the person and their words as a reflection of Spirit - the one that is omnipresent.

Life becomes a string of beautiful moments even when circumstances appear difficult. Acknowledging and accepting a circumstance's 'isness' and relaxing in its glory makes me its observer, and so its master. Every circumstance, material or person comes into my life for me as my friend, my lover and I befriend and love it in return and the heart stops pumping so hard, the sweat in the palms dry up, the butterflies in the stomach stop fluttering and a peace infused moment fills me with joy again. Acceptance of a moments 'isness' empowers me and it loses its power over me. It is as if I am in a race that I presumed was a sprint only to find after I left the starting post that it was a hurdle race. What would I do then - stop at the hurdle and cry over it? No, I would jump and clear the hurdle with the force that is needed to do so. Why then should life hurdles not be handled the same way? Why then should I not call up that unlimited strength inherent in me, to clear the hurdle and move on?

Omnipresence is no longer a concept for me. Omnipresence is an experience. It is what Oneness is all about. It is an inclusiveness with everyone and everything that brings a lightness to life, it illuminates even the darkest moments. Every moment is infused by the Omnipresent and so it is perfect. Basking in the presence of the Omnipresent is truly Glorious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I give Thanks.

Everytime I hear someone wishing me Happy Thanksgiving; everytime I see an e-mail or a post with best wishes for Thanksgiving I smile at how commercial every such event is. What do I mean when I wish someone 'Happy Thanksgiving?' Just that they enjoy the day, eating turkey or tofu or lamb or anything they prefer to today with family and friends? Or am I giving thanks that they are in my life? If I think about it - and I mean really contemplate - then it is that I am grateful that they are in my life. Over the years I stopped reflecting on emotions and feelings and became more about people. I moved outwards when really I should have gone inwards. Feelings are what I am about. Good feelings make me feel better - not 'good people.' I have always believed (and often been ridiculed for believing) that we are all inherently good. Today I am convinced that my belief is a hundred percent true. It is upto me to remain focused on the good in everyone I deal with every moment. Holding on to a good feeling is what makes an experience good - immaterial who I am sharing that experience with.

Gratitude for any thing, event or person raises the vibration to elation; which raises the vibration to bliss. Remaining in the gratitude mode keeps me in bliss. This habit I have formed of judging and comparing leaves very little room for gratitude. I have practiced judging long enough now I choose to practice gratitude and I find I am smiling more often, have developed a higher level of patience, and am enjoying each moment with gusto. My true nature is one of happiness, peace, love and gratitude. How do I know this? It is in these emotions that I feel connected to myself and others. When I am angry, suspicious, doubtful, sad, I feel disconnected from myself. When I look back and think about events, things and people that have caused me pain in the moment they came into my life I realize that each of those had something good in them that only surfaced after - sometimes long after - they were gone. I now make conscious effort to remain non-judgmental and reach into myself to accept the so called good and bad and just accept everything at face value. An event is just that, an event - it may bring me joy or sorrow at that moment but inherently there is good within the event. Every moment is a perfect moment if I choose to look upon it as a perfect moment.

I choose to be grateful for my life - moment by moment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Listening to the Universe's Personal Messengers

I am so fortunate to have access to this wonderful experiment that James Twyman and Anakha Coman are sponsoring. The experiment is called The Oneness Experiment and is based on a book that the two have written called The Proof. I would like to suggest that anyone who is on a spiritual path take the opportunity to get the book and use it as one of your guides on your path.

On Saturday I was also privileged enough to listen in on a conference call that James and Anakha conduct every week. This week's special guest was Neale Donald Walsch of The Conversations With God fame. There is a recording of the call at Click on The Proof on the right. Listen to Conference Call #3 if you wish to hear his absolutely marvelous message. It is inspiring and useful insight even for those of us who are struggling with questions about life.

James, Anakha and Neale are messengers that will help take us to that next level. They have touched my soul. Thank you God for Everything.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From Silence to Love

"A strong positive emotion of regard and affection" - is a dictionary definition for Love. Somewhere in the process of a lifetime Love is expressed as many emotions - not always positive and not always of regard or affection. The sound of the word has a positive feel to it but the emotion behind it may be one of lust, greed, power, possessiveness, jealousy, security and many other unpleasant emotions. Pure Love must be unconditional - only then will it be the strong positive emotion of regard and affection that the definition talks about. Love with a string attached has different names.

The one condition Love cannot have is that of selfishness. 'I love because' - will necessarily have a self serving string attached to it. This conditional love can change to hate, fear and even indifference very easily. All that it requires is my interest to be jeopardized and love flies right out. A lasting love is a non-judgmental one. Love has regard for its loved one even when there is wrong doing not because love is blind, not because love is tolerant, but because love is compassionate, love is accepting, love is inclusive, love is respectful, love is expansive.

Love comes from the inner depth of silence. Love requires no verbal expression. The energy of love is strong and positive and a loving touch can be electrifying, a loving gaze can make the heart race or tears brim over. True love can be felt even in the absence of a loved one. This love never fades. A veil may hide it and make it appear hazy but a love that has tasted that depth is nothing but everlasting. It is very much like the love a mother feels for her child or the love between lovers - the ones who know that theirs is a love of many lifetimes. When the eyes of true lovers meet they speak in a language that is indecipherable to anyone else. A mother can look into her child's eyes and know his emotions without asking a single question. This language of love can be spoken through a touch or a gaze or by just being present without the exchange of words. "I love you," is being shouted out in every nuance of love.

In the West where the weather was harsh and allowed for short harvesting season man was looking at mastering the nature outside. Science and technology owes its discoveries to this search of the Western cultures. Today the West has mastered and has outdone Mother Nature to live in luxury even under the harshest conditions. In the pursuit that started off as a need to survive, man has lost his sense of Self. The senses and the ego have slowly edged the spirit out. The outward expression of love - words, actions, things - have become necessary to prove an emotion that has the infinite capacity of carrying its own eternal energy.

In the East the land was fertile, the weather was perfect and men had the luxury of delving inwards to master their own true nature. They discovered the silent language of love that can be expressed simply by being Present and available. There was no need for words and gifts. Love was life, love was who they were. As the world got smaller due to scientific and technological advances and the boundaries of the East and West got thinner there was an exchange of ideas that for a short period of time diluted the awareness of love being life.

Delving deep into the silence I have discovered that hearing and saying the words "I love you," are the best ways for us to start getting in touch with that energy. The three little words need to be uttered with the energy that touches the soul. The love needs to be felt before the words are uttered and then the weight of the words reduce till they will no longer need to be uttered. Silence is a beautiful language and deserves its place in our lives again.

I suggest expanding the definition of Love to be - "An unconditional strong positive energy of regard and affection." I remind myself that Love is expressed as an emotion but is in reality the vital energy of life itself. From the depths of Silence, Love expresses itself as a glow that envelops us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From Silence to Happiness

An AAHAA moment - True Happiness is possible only when it is Unconditional. All other feelings of happiness are transient. I have often heard of and even felt "unconditional love" towards others - but have questioned its veracity in my life since this love is directed towards people I know. This love came from a capacity to forgive and to accept that they have perspectives different from mine. Sometimes if there was 'wrong doing' I loved inspite of it. And so by virtue of the love being qualifiable it somehow lost its capacity to be unconditional. Then there is the love I feel for those who I may not know and who may not know me but whose troubles I know about. I feel for them and I send out blessings towards them - there is a sense of compassion in this love. Again this is love because they are in need. What I really want to be able to feel is love that is flowing outwards all the time. No judgments, no sizing people out, no first appearances or anything like that.

Then last night as I listened to a spiritual guru it dawned on me that it is not only love that needs to be unconditional it is Happiness. My happiness comes from within me and is therefore completely in my control. My definition of happiness though is based on my belief system - something that I have developed from the first moments I got associated with the physical world. My divinity remains untouched by these belief systems but my human side is acutely affected by them.

When I can go back to my core - my divinity - and look out through my mind's eye I can see that my happiness is measured by how I FEEL. When I feel good I am happy when I feel bad I am unhappy. When life goes the way I believe it should I am happy when it does not I am unhappy. There are degrees to this happiness and that too I gauge by my feeling-o-meter. Feelings come from past experiences of pain and pleasure that helped develop and establish beliefs. These beliefs have mostly misaligned me from my True Self. Whether a feeling is a good one or a bad one it comes from a belief that is mostly biased. The play of duality is what has established my beliefs. How I, the Authentic Me, sees something is often different from how my ego sees things. My opinions and views must not only be expressed they must also be understood and accepted for me to feel good. This is conditional happiness. This is the kind of fleeting happiness my little I is yearning for.

A friend ignores me and this makes me unhappy. Where does this feeling come from? If I examine this feeling I can justify my unhappiness because I believe I can expect my friend to be true to my friendship. My happiness is dependent on my expectation of reciprocal feelings towards me. My friendship was therefore conditional upon her feelings towards me. Unconditional friendship means that I am a friend because I love her and get pleasure from caring about and for her. Then whether or not she considers me a friend becomes immaterial. If and when she needs me, wants me, remembers me I am there for her. She may have kicked me to the curb but I never got to the curb - I stayed at her door. The pleasure I got from the friendship still holds true, for in my heart is the knowing that my love for her is unchanged. The kind of love a truant dog has for its master - how soulful and touching is that love? It is complete all on its own - independent of anything else there is. This love is independent of who she is and completely dependent on who I AM. How then can I be unhappy?

My belief system and my feelings are intertwined and when I examine my feelings and disentangle them from my beliefs the picture that comes through helps me align myself to my authentic feelings and therefore makes it possible for me to go back to my Source - my Divine Self. Feeling unhappy or sad or angry is considered 'normal' simply because I have developed a belief that it is so. What I forgot was that these feelings are only a mechanism to measure my beliefs which I must then consciously and continuously tweak. Instead of brooding over, crying, complaining and regretting, thus becoming unhappier, if I examine the feelings and figure out which misaligned beliefs they are coming from I can choose to correct them for future reference. This applies for happy feelings too. All happy feelings are not essentially in tune with the Authentic Me.

A friend praises me for my kindness and compassion towards her. I feel proud of myself and happy that she is so appreciative of me. Here like in the previous example my happiness is conditional upon my expectation that my feelings be reciprocated. This too is being decided by my misaligned belief that my happiness is dependent on her appreciating all I do. Like in the previous case my happiness to be unconditional must be independent of her response to me. There too I am at her door even if she has placed me on her dinner table. My love for her is independent of the meal she treats me to.

Beliefs that arouse opposite sets of feelings are ones that must be changed. I must remain stable under all circumstances. The emotions that arise whether they be elation or sorrow, love or anger, fear or indifference must all be used to bring myself to that plain where there are no bumps either way. Feelings will arise from moment to moment and every feeling deserves expression but every feeling also deserves attention. I must use my feeling-o-meter and bring myself to my core to find the stability that comes from my inner happy being. The happiness within me is complete on its own - I am complete within myself. People, circumstances, events will come and go and as they do so they will leave their mark on my ego self and on my beliefs, feelings and thoughts but if I can get myself back to the equilibrium and remain true to my Authentic Self being loving, compassionate and giving, Bliss will be mine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Silence to Creation

The time has been well spent. Just 'being' in Silence has proven the futility of constantly doing. Having given myself the opportunity to go into those spaces in my mind which bring inspirational thoughts I have discovered some fabulous secrets that were hitherto known but not believed by me.

There have been many moments in my life when I have successfully 'predicted' events of the future. I now realize that those were not predictions of events that were already fated - they were events that I co-created simply by raising my vibrations that necessitated those events. I vividly remember some of the moments when the so called predictions were made. The first one that comes to mind is one where my husband and I were in Bombay traveling along a known road in an auto-rickshaw. He had for years dreamt of working outside the country. A desire he had very often shared with me. That evening too he was deriding his luck about not having any of his dreams fulfilled - a very common way in which he usually expresses his deepest desires. At the spur of the moment I said he should stop despairing as soon his dream would be fulfilled. He clung on to those words and wanted me to tell him where he thought he would be going. At this time his sights were set on Europe and the US. Am not sure what it was that prompted me but I looked at him and very determinedly announced he would be going to Africa. We both laughed as neither of us were even aware at this time that Africa was a place to find work in. For some reason we both carried that thought with us and often talked about it jokingly but as if it were true. Sure enough within a couple of months a gentleman he had never met or heard of before offered him an opportunity to work in Nairobi and six months later my husband was working in Africa.

Since then I have often wondered why such major predictions have not come my way. Now I realize that giving in to the vagaries of life and living in the company of pessimists is not very conducive to inspiration unless one can consciously practice raising ones vibration. It is not that life gives rise to the various feelings I have - it is I who creates my life experiences with my deepest feelings. This is a great discovery and one that has come from time spent in meditation, contemplation and writing with abandon.

The first part of becoming a creator of experiences is easier than the next part, though. Expressing a desire is easy - but doing so without resisting it is not. Remember asking is supposed to be showing greed which is not what ladies should be doing. Oh dear - what a sure shot way of crumbling creation right at the start. Allowing a desire to be fulfilled requires me to bask in the thought and feelings it rouses. Instead I tend to find reasons why the desire will not or cannot be fulfilled. It is only the desires that flow through me unhindered that manifest themselves. This requires me to give in to my desires without feeling guilty about wanting it or letting my intelligence decide that it is not possible to achieve. The previous sentences are the ways I should avoid thinking. All thought must always have a positive connotation. Reconstructed the sentence reads - "This requires me to give in to my desires knowing I deserve everything I dream of and believing that with the seed planted, the Universe is in the process of letting it blossom." Both sentences say the same thing - one brings a frown to my face the other a smile. It is the smile that eventually makes dreams come true.

The joke is on me. I have read about these principles of abundance often enough but since I never acknowledged this to be true in its entirety I denied myself the pleasures of fulfilled dreams for many years. Now I am in the process of re-training my brain - the one that is controlled by my ego. I am constantly watching my thoughts and training myself to think without resistance no matter what. I know I can create my own dreams - now I am in the process of letting them in.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Fear to Love - God by God

I came into this world not wanting to - crying as if in excruciating pain. Yet it is how I first breathed 'life' into my being. From that moment I entered the realm of duality - of pain and pleasure. Suckling my mother's breast I learned to attach myself, to want, to have, to like and to dislike. I lost my divinity little by little and soon I forgot that I am divine. The human side of me was not just predominant it was as if that was all I was. Not that being human is all bad but I learned and developed traits that were conducive to living a materialistic lifestyle devoid of spiritual depth.

I could have lived a life exemplifying my divinity but my environment was not attuned to it. I come from religious parents. I was raised to believe in God - a physical God. This God resided outside me. He was meant to be feared, to be revered, to be worshiped from afar. If I sinned He would punish me like He punished so many of the poor, destitute, sick and physically and mentally challenged I saw all around me. I remember as a child seeing a deaf and dumb young girl in a park. The sounds that came from her throat made me afraid. I asked why she was unable to speak and was told that she had been punished by God in this life because she must have lied in her last. I was terrified. I went home that day and told my mother about every lie I could remember having uttered in my 6 years of life on this earth. The sensation that went through my body for days after still makes me shudder.

In India leprosy was rampant as I was growing up. The stigma attached to the disease made it impossible for sufferers to live at home, or to even seek treatment. They resorted to begging on the streets. Again my understanding then was that God had punished them for sins committed in a previous life. How is it possible to think about divinity when there is fear of punishment from the Divine in the forefront of an innocent mind? What was worse was that there was the potential that I could have sinned in my previous life and so a punishment was waiting for me. Everytime I saw or heard of suffering I cringed.

As I grew up the punishing God never let up. He punished us all the time. God became someone to fear and in that respect He was real. Bowing down to Him everyday I only prayed that He not punish me. When I did wrong knowingly or realized I had done wrong I watched to see what the punishment was going to be about. Thinking back I realize what a waste of time that was. If instead of thinking, "Be careful, God is watching," I had thought, "God is kind and is watching over me," things may have been different.

As a child I was surrounded by books that made no sense. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda seemed like Latin then. I was coming at it from an angle that was contrary to what Swamiji spoke about and so the words seemed completely foreign. I never quite understood what 'Knowing Myself' was all about. Who knew me better than me? I was this horrible mass of mistakes who deserved to be punished, what more was there to know? I was really an innocent, confused, scared little girl who never mastered the art of reading between the lines.

I come from a loving home where I was doted on and given all the comforts of life. This material world was the only world I knew and life was about having things and comforts. I saw poverty and suffering from afar and was afraid. This was God's punishment and I had to escape His wrath. I was fortunate to have a good family and be well provided for but I could lose these anytime. That is where I got this burning need to be liked - if everyone liked me God had to like me too, right? After all He was this man sitting in the altar. He had been seen by people who wrote about Him and His teachings that my parents read from regularly. So if others liked me I could convince Him that I was likable. He would definitely see that.

The other myth about my God was that I was never to ask anything of Him. That was being greedy. He would give me all I needed. Be grateful for what you have. Look at the ones who have less than you do. Consider yourself blessed and never ask for more. What a terrible myth to believe in. It created a scarcity mentality that is hard to overcome. The infinite abundance of the Universe was hidden from me for years. I deprived myself of so much simply because I was afraid to receive everything the Universe wanted to give me. The omnipresent God was absent from material things. To believe in this oxymoron was unintelligent but everything is possible with God. It was therefore sinful to want anything. My relationship with God was one of Fear, Punishment, Scarcity, and eventually Abandonment. No wonder I work so hard to be liked.

Today my relationship with God is different. My Personal God still sits in my altar - He is my habit. I have an impersonal God the one who loves me and watches over me and guides me towards liberation from fear, punishment, scarcity and abandonment. The one who shows me how wonderful this gift of life is and how much I can achieve and have by just being. Liberation or Moksha is no longer about becoming one with an unknown entity after death, it is about being free from attachments in this life. It is about recognizing the transience of this life and this world and living each moment in its fullest - free. It is about not giving in to bullying, emotional blackmailing and manipulation by anyone - free. It is about loving me, for I like every other animate object am one with the Universe - free. I can have what I want when I want and enjoy it for as long as I want to- free. What is mine is mine because I want it to be mine not because some God above wants it to be mine. What a freeing thought. I am responsible for everything I have had, have and will ever have. My body, my home, my relationships, my work everything is because I am and when I have left this body the memories of these wonderful gifts will be mine to carry forward even if I physically leave them behind. I do not need to prove my worthiness to receive - I have because I choose to have.

This is a benevolent God. One who blesses me with everything I desire. There are no taboos, no limits, no restrictions. This is the God within me who I have complete access to at all times. This God is my being and my consciousness and is connected to every other being and consciousness and is an observer of everything I think and do. Every thought and action has a consequence and it is a predictable one - but it is not unique to me. Everything that is happening around me is a consequence of every other action and thought that this infinite Universe had, has and will have. Destiny is not determined by the Big Man in the sky. We are responsible for the cumulative destiny of the Universe and the microcosmic destiny of each of us. Karmaphal is determined by each action and thought being thrown out there and therefore being attached to the fruits of our actions is futile. Unless we can all tap into the Universal Mind, the Universal Intellect we are better off leading a life serving, sharing with, helping each other with compassion and love. The only way we can ensure a beautiful tomorrow is by making today beautiful.

The air I breathe is the air everyone else breathes - the one that is not just molecules of gas but life itself. This life is common to us all and is the string that keeps us tied to each other. This Life this God this Universe this Truth this Breath this Moment are all one and the same thing. This journey to coming to this understanding is a step towards experiencing, realizing and living it. It will take a lot of unlearning and relearning before it will become a habit - the one to replace the habit of my Personal God sitting on my altar who I still bow down to with reverence. It is only through His teachings and guidance that this journey has been possible.

This is my journey from Fear of Abandonment to Unconditional Love from my Personal God to my Universal God. Thank you God for Everything.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baba - White Sheep

November 3rd each year is a black day in my calendar. 34 years ago today I lost my Baba to brain cancer. He was 52 and suffered for 6 weeks of which 3 were thankfully spent in a coma. The end was recognized as the heaving of his chest stopped as the sun set that evening. It was the day after Kali Pujo. There were fireworks being lit all around us but I was oblivious to the sights and sounds of that evening. The evening was a haze midst a houseful of people. A stunned silence and then agonizing cries from friends and family were heard off and on all evening long. Yet there was a sense of extreme relief for me - I no longer needed to worry about Baba dying. This relief outshone any grief I may have felt over my loss. For years I had worried about his passing. For as long as he was outside the home I worried that he would not come back - that he would die and leave me.

When I was eight I watched my sister who was 13 have an epileptic seizure as she played ball with her classmates. She passed out and never recovered. That was my first contact with abandonment. I saw my parents despair over the loss of their child. I could not quite relate to what all the fuss was about. She had seizures and slept for hours after, almost every day. It was only later that I realized that there were to be no more seizures and that it was time for me to be attended to. It felt good.

Baba poured all his attention on me and my brother who was seven years older than me, a teenager who did not want to be doted on. I on the other hand was ready for all the attention Baba could shower on me. Then three years later when Dada left home for Calcutta I had arrived. In the next precious few years I became princess.

Baba was a big man - tall, broad and big hearted. To the rest of the world he was a Bengal Tiger. At work and amongst our friends and family he was to be handled with care. He was highly disciplined in his ways and expected everyone around him to be so too. Quite the perfectionist in everything he did and he did a lot. He was good at many things from repairing his Morris Minor and polishing it to a shine each weekend to embroidering a beautiful landscape on silk; from changing the light bulb to developing photographs in his dark room; from reciting the Gita to cleaning the toilets; from painting the walls to being a successful Homeopath - if he undertook a task he would do it well. He had a short temper, very little patience and loved to secretly gamble (horse racing to matka to playing the lottery). He was an extraordinary man from whom I learnt to love the written word. He insisted that I be proficient in the English language, that I be a career woman, that I be self dependent, and that I love with abandon. He told me often that he would leave me with a wealth of education and not a penny. "Inheritance is a curse," he would say, "And all I want to leave my children with are blessings."

His words as he lay a clean sheet on the bed (yes he was good at that too) "The way to a man's heart is through a well made bed and his stomach," still rings in my ears. I was about 14. Many a night after I had completed my school assignments I would lay down between my parents and he would read to us from Leo Tolstoy, Agatha Christie, Somerset Maugham and even the Encyclopedia Britannica. He loved to read both in Bengali and English but insisted that Bengali would come to me in good time, "Matribhasha to, theek shikhe jabe," (It is her native language - she will learn it in good time,) and so I should concentrate on the English language. His English was good but he had an accent that I enjoyed teasing him about. He took it all very sportingly.

He demanded attention simply by his presence. Maa had it hard. He expected his meals to be served on time and in a particular way. The thala (stainless steel plate) had to be shining clean, the food had to be piping hot, the water had to be poured just as he got to the table, and the food had to be perfect each day. Our home had to be spotless, the curtains had to be drawn open and shut at exactly the right time, Maa had to be perfectly dressed at all times and she had to be there when he needed her. She had to be his wife, his sister and the mother he never had all in one. In return he gave her his all. He adored her and made sure that she never lacked in any comforts. He showered her with his attention and spent quality time with her.

Your passing has left a space in me that can never be filled, Baba. I remember you often, in good times and bad. Most times my memories of you brings a smile to my face but on this day each year I shed a tear in your honor - you are my guiding light and all I do in life is a reflection of your direct influence on my life. Maa taught me many important life values and you taught me love. Today I am as old as you were when you left this world and I know I make you proud. Your absence from my life has made me acutely aware of your presence within my soul. I love you dearly. Rest In Peace. So long - till next time.

Abundance - redefined.

One dictionary meaning of the word abundance is 'in ample quantity.' Feeling a sense of abundance is therefore a relative term. F...