How My Love For Words Led Me…

love for words

My love for words dates back to those crazy days of playing word games in school, when we perused our pocket dictionaries to accomplish the challenge of finding new words and guessing the meanings.

Despite those word-challenging games, my vocabulary remained so insignificant that I had to look up simple words like ‘gaunt’ to give the exact meaning to my students.

Can you believe that I have been accused of using difficult words in my poems?

Can you fathom my elation at such a compliment?

It is indeed a compliment for a person who has always struggled with words, who was not that blessed to be surrounded by books as a child, who was always eager to borrow books from the library but had to return them half-read!

My early poetry was very simple.

I had written few lines for my outgoing class:

Wish you love, wish you joy
Wish you all that you try
Guiding you was my goal
Avoiding advice was your role.

Shall I ever forget your faces!
Naughty but calm in all cases
Sometimes pleasant, sometimes killing
Sometimes obstinate, sometimes willing.

That laughter, that mirth
Those tears, those fears
All those hours that we shared
Those moments when you dared
To disagree and disobey
Always with me, they’ll stay.
© Balroop Singh, 1997

I was told that it seemed like some child had composed those lines.

The snub steeled my resolve to keep writing.

I dived into the sea of emotions
Floundering around I met poetry
She smiled at my naivety
But her song soothed my nerves
 
Warbling wistful notes of manumitting
Embracing her all-pervasive freedom
Effacing nonchalant, noxious attitudes
Of those who scoffed at my words
I felt an ebullient moment of accomplishment!

Keeping in mind the words of one of my favorite ghazals, written by Nida Fazli…

“Duniya jise kehte hain jadoo ka khillona hai, mil jaye to mitti hai, kho jaye to sona hai” (Urdu) –  What we call this world is a mystical toy, as useless as dust if you have it but as precious as gold if you lose it. (translated from Urdu)

The enigma of poetry through the wonder of words is thrilling beyond imagination. I keep landing in new worlds, where horizons keep widening and new mysteries keep unfolding. The quest to know more words continues with the encouragement of all of you, dear readers.

April is celebrated as National Poetry Month here and I am inviting all the poets I know to share their views about poetry. If you are interested in participating, please stay tuned. If you want to share your poetry or want to be my guest, you are welcome to contact me.

Thank you for reading this introductory piece to love for poetry and celebrating National Poetry Month. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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Love That Comes Back

Love returns if it is pure

‘Can you change the music Nana?’ my three-year-old grandson spoke very softly.

The music that plays in my car is always of my liking, soft, romantic and sentimental songs of the 50s and 60s that one could never get tired of.

‘You don’t like it?’

‘We can play it at some other time,’… his answer amazed me! For a moment I thought I was talking to a mature person.

I looked back and both my stars smiled at me.

The distance from their school to our home is hardly two miles and within that much time, they have to share their prattle and listen to peppy music too!

‘Nana, please put it loud,’ he keeps on requesting, oblivious of the fact that soft music would never seem loud.

‘We don’t listen to a very loud music, dear’ I say in my grandmotherly style but my advice goes unheard.

‘Daddy always puts it super duper loud!’ he proudly declares.

I rummage through the old collection of CDs lying in the glove box of my car and stumble upon a peppy mix.

‘I can’t hear anything,’ he says while I am still loading the CD.

‘Wait.’

A squeal hits the roof! Louder! The demand doesn’t wane.

We reach home even before a single song could be heard and in a moment everything is forgotten, with new puddles to jump into and splashing water all over, making bubbles and catching them, pushing and apologising till I announce lunch time.

Time passes by like a whirlwind and everyday we heave a sigh of relief when these express trains go home. The treasured moments we choose to spend with our grandchildren are special because they testify that love returns, empty nest fills again with glee and giggles. I love the expression on their faces when they softly whisper… ‘Nana I love you.’

Each stage of childhood is awesome, each milestone precious, each hug emits the love of the whole world and we are glad we can share it more than their parents who are rushing (like once we did) to meet the challenges of life.

When my children flew out of my nest, I was heartbroken, wondering what is left in life, as our lives seemed to be buzzing only with them.

Slowly we learned to live without them, trying to detach.

This is one of the poems I wrote at that time:

Wheel Of Time…

We search
Those tiny hands, which eagerly held us
Those dainty feet, which needed balance
Those lovely eyes, which emitted brightness
Those soft tears which needed endearment
Those fleeting moments that slipped by.

We take pride in
That unconditional love we shared
That eagerly sought guidance we treasured
That much needed support for each other
That joy of giving
That pain of separation!

We know
The wheel of time moves on
New bonds, new ties ignite
Moments fleet, memories drift, shadows glide
There is always hope
At the horizon we seek.

You search
The future, we search the past
The quest is common, perceptions differ
We soar with you, the flight is slow
We’ll be together
As past merges into future.
© Balroop Singh, 2003

Love comes back

We did soar with them, waiting, hoping and trying to peep into future, which is here!
Another poem that complements the older one:

Love Returns

We have found
Those tiny hands we searched
Those little feet that follow us
Those big eyes that beckon
Those angelic smiles to reckon

We take pride in
New love that is cuddlier
New bonds that clasp us
Delightful moments that glow
Rivulets of respect that flow

Now we know
If it pervades our souls
Love returns in another form
Detachment is just an illusion
It unlocks the secrets of delusion

Let’s not forget
Whatever you give comes back
Selfless and real love returns
Instill the value of love
Pour it in its purest form.
© Balroop Singh, 2018

Time for introspection!

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

Why Are Some Human Beings So Vindictive?

Are you vindictive?

You must have heard the infamous refrain ‘an eye for an eye’ or the age-old dictum ‘Tit for Tat’…Revenge has always seemed sweet to most of the people since times immemorial.

Psychologists and researchers believe that human behavior is determined by the genes and the kind of environment we live in. While the role of Nature and Nurture has always been accepted, even the best of upbringing and education couldn’t exterminate the innate vindictiveness of human beings.

It can be discerned in the innocent squabbling of toddlers; it gets sharpened when they grow up to face the competitive world of sports and schooling and slowly it becomes a part of their personality.

Probably the real reason is rooted in the evolution of human race, which had to struggle to survive against all odds and challenging circumstances. In modern times, when people are blessed with all kinds of materialistic and spiritual choices, revenge refuses to slacken its hold on human psyche.

Why? What could be the possible reasons?

Revenge is triggered not just by deceit, infidelity or injustice.

There are very insignificant reasons, which may not seem as trivial as you could presume.

Negative thoughts: Vengefulness could be a reaction to their own negative thoughts, which make people insecure and jealous. Family bickering and rivalries are the best example of such insecurities. When one member of a family becomes successful or is seen to be happy, others step in with their malicious thoughts of creating rifts to grind their own axe and exploit emotions.

Ruining relationships: Jealous people want all the attention, they want to prove they are the most loving and caring and if they find a challenger, they make a surreptitious attempt to alienate your siblings or other relatives by backbiting; by creating such situations which could prove you to be a villain.

It gives momentary pleasure: Revenge seeker has his own reasons, his frustrations and failures for which he holds others around him responsible. Seeing them suffer could give him pleasure. It might even boost his bruised ego. His helplessness in reacting directly could be camouflaged in the façade of goodness. Revenge hurts you also

It assuages anger: Anger, the most illogical and unbridled emotion gets mitigated by revenge. Hurting others and meting out the most unreasonable treatment through their jibes, punitive actions or passive aggression gratifies such avengers.

It proves one’s power: Vindictive people consider themselves to be more powerful. Sometimes they are influential due to the positions they hold. They could be your bosses or colleagues. A disappointed colleague who was eyeing the promotion you got or the boss who has been given a negative feedback may rob you of your peace of mind. Those who want to let you down would derive sadistic pleasure out of such situations.

Insecurities: “Living well is the best revenge,” said George Herbert but vindictive people don’t let you live well! Your living well exposes their own imperfections to them, making them insecure in their heart of hearts.

Have you heard of nemesis? It is the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall. An agent of natural justice… some people call it “Karma” and believe that whatever goes, comes around and you have to pay for your evil deeds.

Nemesis catches vindictive people sooner or later!

Vengefulness is a negative streak, which can only be addressed by our own inner voice. Like all negative emotions, it does hold some goodness. It acquaints us with our real self. it might lead us to introspection!

Negative emotions are very subtle and deceptive. They absorb more energy but they often walk away victorious, testing our patience and strength, ennobling us, belittling our ego, thereby transforming us into humble human beings.

You can read more about negative emotions and how they help us.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

How Relevant Are Short Stories In Our Lives?

How relevant are short stories

Short stories are as dear as lullabies if they are introduced at the right time. While babies derive delight in looking at the illustrations and hearing the familiar voice of their parents, children love to cuddle up with a good story book.

My earliest memories of short stories are connected with my grandma, who could tell me weirest tales without a book but only at bed time. Her favorite refrain that ‘if we tell stories during the day, travelers forget their way’ was taken seriously by us. Though I chuckle at her belief now but it brings fond memories of her face whenever I think of stories.

My love for stories grew as I chose to study and later teach literature and had an easy access to all those renowned names known for writing brilliant pieces. Some of them got entrenched in my memory as they encouraged me to imbibe the values that they glowed with.

This love was recently revived by ‘What’s In A Nameby Sally Cronin, an engaging collection of twenty short stories, each story inspired from real life and emotions that every individual has to live through. Another captivating anthology ‘Twelve Tales Of Christmas’ by Cathleen Townsend infuses a spirit of togetherness and warmth through its stories of human interest. Now I am reading ‘The Story Teller Speaks’ by Annika Perry and I am amazed at her enchanting style of holding the readers.

My blogger friend Nihar whose ever-inspiring creative stories make a delightful reading, recently requested me to share the short stories that have left a mark on my personality and I got this idea of sharing these timeless classic tales.

The first one that comes to my mind is the ‘Gift of Magi’ by O.Henry. When I had read this story, I was too young  to absorb the emotion behind buying a gift, too young to understand why gifts are so important, as I had rarely received them but I learnt how important they can be and why people make sacrifices. I often wonder – could there be a better example of true love?

This value of sacrifice is further highlighted in ‘The Last Leaf by O. Henry. Old Behrman, an unsuccessful, dejected artist who was always talking about his masterpiece,  had nothing to sacrifice but he wanted to save the life of young Johnsie who had lost the desire to live. The last leaf that never fell and saved her life was actually Behrman’s masterpiece that he had painted on a snowy and windy night! How benevolence and inspiration can uplift human spirit touches my heart whenever I read this story.

‘The Model Millionaire’ by Oscar Wilde is remembered not only for the excellent prose and succinct style of Wilde’s writing but also for inserting subtle messages for humanity like… “Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed.” Generosity could be an inborn trait and a kind act never goes unnoticed. If Hughie could donate his last sovereign to the ‘poor beggar,’ the beggar didn’t disappoint him!

Saki, whose real name was H.H.Munro has written several masterpieces but ‘The Background’ appeals to me the most, as it is a satire on the hypocrisy and love of art, which is considered to be more valuable than a human being who is treated like a rare piece of art as he carried the masterpiece of a tatoo artist on his back! The story jolts you out of your slumber and makes an effort to underline what is more important – a person’s dignity and freedom or just a piece of art?

Short Stories

God Sees the Truth but Waits by Leo Tolstoy made a deep impact on me and I have discussed it time and again to fathom why does God wait so long, why does an innocent suffer for the crime of another person, how could forgiveness be as noble as it has been made out to be? Spiritual interpretations of this story have failed to convince me why was an innocent man used as a tool for the purgation of the soul of a hardened criminal? Isn’t God all-powerful?

The Bet by Anton Chekhov delves deeper into human psychology, bringing out the frailties of human beings on one hand and nobility that one can acquire if one wishes to. The argument over what kind of punishment is better – life imprisonment or death penalty culminates in proving that life imprisonment could be more humane as it offers an opportunity to the criminal to change. The lawyer who chose to accept solitary confinement, just for the bet, slowly rose above ordinary human beings and understood how immaterial is the lust for money and luxury.

A Man Who Had No Eyes by MacKinlay Kantor has stayed in my memory for the outstanding style of narration, style and a sudden unexpected twist that leaves the reader spellbound. It is not just a short story… it is a comment on life, how we approach it positively and move on. A must read to change your outlook on life.

Sparrows by K.A. Abbas brilliantly highlights some harsh realities of life, which had hardened a man. But a streak of kindness, so natural to human instincts, didn’t die and it could be ignited by loving birds, without even a word. A man, presumed to be devoid of emotions, shunned by villagers and even his own family is transformed into a loving and kind human being by the love of sparrows for their own young ones.

God Is Near by James Herriot convinced me that love could be found in furry friends too. If we love His creation, we can feel the presence of God around us even without visiting any religious places. Dr. Herriot’s unspoken commitment to the dogs and cats of Miss Stubbs was no less than her housekeeper.

Short stories lay bare various facets of life. They are more effectual in conveying the values without sermonizing about them. Each emotion can be felt through short stories if they are told in their true spirit.

Have you read any of these stories? Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

 

How Quotations Ennoble Us

A quote a day gives a new melody

If you are a regular reader of Emotional Shadows, you must have noticed that quotations form an important part of any post I share.

Sally G. Cronin, my author cum blogger friend has nominated me for three day quote challenge, which transported me back to one of the memorable moments of my life. Fond of collecting quotations, I had a notebook in which I would write one quote everyday. One day when our class teacher asked us to talk about our hobbies, I couldn’t say much and produced that notebook to save myself from that embarrassing situation. Her reaction surprised me. She took my notebook and promised to return it but she didn’t.

Next day I was summoned by the Principal. With great trepidation, I walked towards her room, wondering what had I done now, knowing well I was in for another punishment! I saw my notebook of quotations in her hand and was taken aback by her kind words of appreciation. The pride and encouragement that she infused in me doubled my love for quotations and writing them down most neatly.

A good quote is more than a book. It can leave a lasting impression on us… it can awaken aspirations, ignite the inspiration that lies dormant, it can connect us with great minds and their experiences, it can mold our perceptions and personalities.

Quotations have ennobled and enriched me.

It is hard to pick a quote as each one carries some profound truth about life yet we have our favorites.

My first pick has to be from my all time favorite poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling:

Quote from Rudyard Kipling's poem If

The above lines have adorned my table for many years and have inspired me:

  • To remain calm in provocative situations
  • To trust my abilities
  • To let people pass their judgment
  • To be patient
  • To respect my values
  • To listen calmly
  • To forgive those who tried to demean me

I have been a little rebel in breaking free from the rules. So the ‘three day quote challenge’ has been construed by me as ‘three quote challenge’ (just an interplay of words from left to right!) and I would like to share them together.

forgiveness quote

The above quote and many such have helped me reconcile to the whole idea of forgiving those who could have derived sadistic pleasure in enforcing their authority to establish their supremacy. I still read quotes about forgiveness to reassure myself that forgiveness purges us of any ill will that we may be carrying in our heart for those who were insensitive towards our emotional wellbeing.

Solitude

The above quote was a little puzzling for me but it has helped me in many ways:

  • In understanding the difference between loneliness and solitude
  • In introspection and self-reflection
  • In listening to the echoes of my heart
  • In resolving inner turmoil
  • In soaring on the wings of imagination
  • In enjoying my own company
  • In sky gazing when the clouds drift to reveal the rainbow.

Many thanks to Sally for nominating me for this challenge. It is customary to nominate some more friends for the challenge but I throw it open to all my readers who love quotations to write a post about their favorite quotes.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.