In Case Too Much Poetry Puts You Off…

While we have been talking about our poems, I wonder whether you would enjoy an interlude and click on the following link, where I received the honor of sharing some interesting facets of my life and a childhood memory.

Please click here to read more

I have closed the comments here, please feel free to share them at my friend, Allan’s blog.

Advertisements

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 Reading Affects Our Personal Development #WorldBookDay

 

Book love
Love for reading

World Book Day – a day that celebrates reading, a day that always inspires me to renew my love for books and share it, a day that reminds me how meaningless life would be without books!

Reading has not only given me pleasure, added brilliance to my gloomy hours but has also enriched my life in various ways.

It has made me wiser, healthier, resilient and emotionally balanced. It helps me converse with the greatest thinkers and dreamers.

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” – Rene Descartes

Reading inspiring stories reassures me that inspiration could be found anywhere, even in the tears of detachment. Fictional characters too have the potential to enthuse new energy into us.

Redefines anguish:

Reading gives us the capacity to understand, to absorb and to figure out that anguish, loss, grief is a universal phenomenon. Getting stuck in our suffering can block our own growth.

When you equate your painful experiences with others, they seem trivial and you learn to deal with them. The connection becomes the healing factor.

Gives a fresh perspective:

Reading drags you out of your cocoon to watch the world with a fresh perspective, which develops when you are exposed to various views.

Pain, misfortune and emotional hurts are inevitable. It is futile to immerse ourselves in the setbacks of life because sooner or later we have to abandon this baggage to move ahead.

Takes us places:

Reading helps us escape the mundane events of life, it takes us to places, which we could have never visited; it defines our purpose of living; absorb the ideas that appeal to us and then analyze them.

The best moments of our life are created by reading; the best flights of imagination are crafted by the words of a writer who can create a scenario, which transports us into the realms of our choice and stay there frozen in time.

Realities of life come alive:

Stories of guilt, horror and forgiveness acquaint us with those realities of life, which could remain hidden from us. The atrocities of the past, the oppression and discrimination recorded in the annals of history unfold before us when we read.

Even those who choose light, romantic stories get a whiff of the truths of love and life and learn that freedom to live our life the way we want to, was not always possible and is still a far cry for many.Reading quote

Connections and social relationships get better:

The magical power of friendship and reverence, social interaction and kindness is revealed through reading fiction. We can learn some profound lessons of life from fictional characters.

Reading enhances our emotional quotient, our capability of understanding people, complex human behavior and their frailties. I didn’t know how forgiveness could free us from self-imprisonment till I read about it.

Virtues of life can be felt:

Have you noticed how a virtuous character leaves a lasting impression on your mind? Nobody likes a villain who is always conniving to make life difficult but we learn to distinguish between the good and the bad from his devious ways.

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” – Joseph Addison

Develops analytical skills:

Reading poetry honed my aesthetic and analytical skills and has made me more sensitive towards the beauties around me. It also introduced me to the finer emotions of humanity.

Has reading affected your personality? I would love to hear your perspective.

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 don’t I set a target?

books

I know you are surprised and curious! I know you are thinking that targets or goals form an imperative part of our lives and without them we may seem like a rudderless boat, which would never reach anywhere.

There are some targets, which seem inevitable, which are like milestones and refuse to move till we accept them as realities. I know! I too had to honor them but I would call them compulsive cahoots, gnawing at our minds everyday, challenging our abilities and pushing us closer to the curve of compliance.

Setting goals for reading? Really?

What confounds me is setting targets for joy, happiness, travel, leisure and above all reading! I have heard many times…‘this year I am going to focus on happiness’…as if our focus on this fleeting emotion ever wavers!

Setting targets for pleasure trivializes the term ‘goal,’ which inspires vision and success in the chosen field. Unconditional commitments do make us determined but isn’t it better to reserve them for more important achievements?

I have always encouraged my students to set academic goals to reach the pinnacle of glorious pedestal they would like to perch on and many of them have accomplished them.

I have never set a target of reading books, as I believe we read for pleasure, not for meeting goals and invite unnecessary stress. There are many other triggers around us to cause stress.

I have never kept a count of books I have read for all these years. Completing a book and starting another one is as normal for me as changing an outfit.

While Goodreads keeps nudging me to set a target, I remind myself …’If you take a book like a medicine, it loses its charm.’ I had learnt this lesson long ago when I could not read the specified number of books for my Literature discussions! The more I tried to keep up the pace; my concentration grew less and less.

Pledging to read a book within a specified time is like a noose hanging before me, depriving me of all the joy connected with the style of the author and language of a book.

Is it all about numbers?

Reading is not just about numbers and being able to say… ‘I have read 25 books this year.’ It is more about absorbing the thoughts, savoring the words, imagining and connecting with the places. It is a breezy journey to enjoy, not a whirlwind to escape! Quality of reading enriches our experiences, not the quantity.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adlerreading-quote

It is more rewarding to read a book slowly so that we can absorb the virtuousness of our favorite character…to drench in the feelings of people around us…so that we can become a part of their world.

Is it about emotions?

Some people don’t get emotionally engaged in a book, they read it very fast, without actually stepping into the realm of fantasy, without identifying with the characters and their thoughts.

One of my friends had this habit of reading the books very fast. Whenever we would mention a book or share it, she would come out with this reply… ‘Oh! I have read that!’ At that juncture of life, as a young and immature reader, I would envy her speed. I even tried to read in her manner but honestly speaking, I could hardly enjoy the book and felt guilty too.

Shallow reading seems to be the norm of the day just to complete the resolution of reading a specified number of pages during the day. If the book is a cheap romance or a thrilling mystery, delving deep into it may be inconceivable but we get out of such books quite early in life.

Reading without any distractions around us – another challenge of modern times!

The other day I happened to be at a hospital, waiting for a procedure of a dear one to be over and to keep my thoughts positive, I had taken my kindle along with me.

I tried very hard to concentrate with chit chat going all around, two ladies talking continuously, exchanging their views on every possible topic from hair styling to cooking!

I had read 20% of the book but I want to start it again for the pure pleasure of soaking in the beautiful words, which got lost in the crescendo around me.

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Do you set targets for reading? Do you read faster to reach those targets? I am waiting eagerly for your perspective on commercialization of reading for pleasure.

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

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

Balroop Singh.

 

My Promise Of Becoming A Better Person…

Last year when I was intrinsically inspired by the resolutions of my blogger friends, I had made just one promise and that was ‘to become a better person.’

This one thought ushered in a host of memories, which revealed to me my true self and I felt the need to record some of my struggles with the enhancement of my personality.

It was not an easy endeavor as many of those memories were fraught with fears of facing monsters lurking around me but the way I have dealt with them single-handedly, removing all the cobwebs in which I was trapped has convinced me that there is always a light shimmering at the horizon.

As the curtain was coming down on another year, I got the opportunity to introspect… how much could I come up to my expectations?

The definition of being a ‘Better Person’ could be different for all of us but I had set 6 benchmarks, which I have been working on.

51hws7e9y-l-_uy250_

I am delighted to tell you that a single resolution has helped me immensely in putting together my observations and experiences in the form of a book, which I am ready to release. Some of the chapters are the same that I have shared with you but this book is for all those readers who don’t come regularly to read my blog and even those who would like to ascend the steps of personality building, one by one.

My conviction is that self-help is the best kind of help as teachers and therapists can only show us the way. We have to move ahead with our own steps, if we stumble and stagger, we have to rise with our own efforts in whatever journey we undertake.

When I self-published my first book, I was not a blogger and was unaware of the challenges of wading into the realms of publication. Ignorance is bliss and so I didn’t even realize where I could have floundered!

Then I discovered blogging! The happiness of sharing my emotions and reflections was enough to keep me afloat! On the way I met some wonderful blogger friends who guided and supported me with their wisdom and expertise. Some even reviewed my books.

My thoughts go back to some of my oldest blogger friends Vishnu, Harleena Singh, Marie, Lisa and Somali, who stood by a newbie to offer valuable advice and reviews. Alka went a step further by uploading one of my books’ cover on her blog to help me in its promotion. Christy invited me to tea at her blog to talk about my poetry. Dear friends, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude once again and look forward to your support this time again.

I have many lovely author cum blogger friends whom I met recently and would request all of them to be a part of this endeavor.

Please spread the word. Share this post at your blogs and all the social networks please.

Give a shout out to your friends who would like to become a better person.

My book is now live at Amazon.com

You can click on the link to look inside or grab your copy.

Thank you for reading this. I look forward to your love and support.

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

Balroop Singh.