Have courage

And be kind.

Fairy tales – or fiction, in general – have a reputation for sheltering those with escapist tendencies. Sometimes, we simply need to escape this world with its harsh realities. Relish a time and place where everything has a dream-like quality to it.

But is that all there is to it? Are fairy tales really just a place to run away to, with no value whatsoever that can be taken to heart and used to make our (very real) lives more worthwhile?

Recently, I re-watched the 2015 live-action movie Cinderella, and it struck me that fairy tales are much sadder than we give them credit for.

Yes, sadder.

We all know Cinderella’s story. She lives like a servant in her own home, sleeping by the cinders, her family long gone. Then she meets a prince, and she lives happily ever after.

One might think magic saved the day, but did it really?

Cinderella goes through the pain of losing those she loved, in addition to the apathy from the only family she had left, with surprising grace and kindness. While there is indeed magic involved, it is but a moment of sunshine in the grey skies of her life. And it is clear to us that she has earned that brief spell of magical intervention.

The message of this story isn’t that you should wait for a prince or even a fairy godmother to come rescue you from your miserable life. It is repeated like a prayer, that the real magic lay in the kindness she had in her heart. Even when the times were hard, she held on to the words “have courage and be kind.”

I have long been someone who equated kindness and forbearance with weakness. Life has taught me that I was woefully wrong. To be grateful, or kind, or considerate, when you’re feeling your lowest is one of the strongest things you can ever do. It’s easy to give in to rage or to irritation, but it takes great strength of will to hold back and see the light.

And Cinderella had that strength.

I seek refuge in fairy tales when I start to feel like cynicism is the only way to live life. It is certainly safer, yes. And while ensuring one’s own safety is paramount, no one has earned anything ever, by staying cocooned in their nest.

To be vulnerable is to be brave, and to be kind is to be strong.

And when we are too consumed by the trials of reality, it can be stories that help us remember the truth.

Answers: Part 4 – Of all the rest

I had originally planned separate posts for each of the questions – however, I wish to fashion the answers to the remaining questions as a journey of sorts. Thank you, once again, Dante – here goes!

What are you reading right now? (besides this post of course)
What’s playing in your headphones?
How are you – mentally?
Is there anything about the world you would like to see change?
I’ve visited your city, what are you showing me?
Did you smile today? What made you smile if you did?

As we stepped into a new year today, I not only felt happiness for the hope and freshness that this brought, but also for how I wrapped up the last day of 2020.

It was one of those moments that finds you and takes you to a meditative trance. It was a cloudy evening with cool breezes and the slow dance of treetops. There was a drawing that I had begun working on in August, and it dawned on me yesterday that the best way to wrap up this year that taught me so much, would be to finish that drawing and to let it go with love.

The memory of that evening – simple yet wholesome – is what made me smile and brought a sereneness that settled on my mind like a soft shawl. A silent date with myself. The simple joys of feeling the breeze on my face, of having nature’s soft music in my ears, and the sense of completeness that comes when you add final touches to an art work.

Life too, is a work of art.

It has its ups and downs. There is a song that plays in my head these days – the OST “Ophelia” from the movie of the same name. If the tunes did not rise and fall as it did, it would not be a song. There would be no music or landscapes or even life that inspires it all.

I also came across some writing that reminded me of younger, more carefree days. That is what I’ve been reading. Journal entries of old, character build up and the rest; like a photograph preserves a face from the past, so does writing store a part of the person who created it.

Art is memory.

If you do visit me, I would like to take you to a place that evokes such memories in my life. I grew up in this town, so naturally there are places that can do that – but there is a specific part of town that has changed before my eyes as I grew up.

There is a circular road at the very heart of the town, and it surrounds a number of landmarks. A palace museum. An age-old temple. A library. But the road itself, the journey – is a memory. It used to come alive during the festival seasons, and I’ve walked along it a couple of times and felt at one with this place that adopted me as its own.

As I think of circles going round and round, of life unveiling itself like a beautiful work of art – you ask me, what would you change? I look around me, within me and sigh. Oh, but I don’t know enough about it to answer that, do I?

In the eyes of the world I may be a woman, but in the arms of life, I’m still very much a child.

Answers – Part 3 : Of Childhood and Safety

This post follows from part 1 and 2. I’m again clubbing two questions as they mean the same things to me, personally.

Are you still in touch with your inner child? If so, do you mind telling me about them?
Do you feel safe?

In a word, yes. But let me tell you the story.

Last day, I came across this tale of a brave warrior.

The warrior was well renowned for his courage, and when people asked him what his secret was, he would tell them that when he felt fear, he took refuge in a castle where he was always protected. One night, he was passing through a forest when a band of robbers – who knew him by reputation – caught him. “You can’t go to your castle now!” They taunted him. But the brave warrior smiled and said, “Oh, but my castle is within. And it is my mind that takes refuge, not the body.”

This story was profound in so many ways, but in the context of this post, it speaks to us in that whether we feel safe or not, is a choice that rests with us.

I fully acknowledge that finding this place of protection within is easier for some than it is for others – many of us have had frightening, abusive experiences, and its hard for those with such traumatic memories to think of the world within or without as a safe place.

After all, it holds so much trauma from the past that it seems nearly impossible to find peace there.

Eventually, we all look for safety. In jobs, relationships, degrees, money. These are all worthy and necessary pursuits, but what of the world within?

There are things we all lacked growing up, though the specific thing we lacked might vary. And what we lacked must have served at least in part to bring us where we are now. For instance, as a child, I longed for meaningful relationships, for a place free from the evils and heartbreaks the world had – and that took me closer to spirituality and self exploration.

But when we go searching for that peace outside of us, can we be sure that it’s going to be long-lasting? Jobs can be lost and so can relationships. Everything that can be gained can be taken away – just as we who gain and lose these things can be taken away in the arms of death.

One wonders if there is indeed any such thing as safety in that case, given the fragile balance of the world. And because our experiences tend to bring us to fears and successes both, our inner child can show apprehension, annoyance and even anger.

While I’m no great master of the mind, I have observed that as I started to build a better conversation with my inner child, I’ve started to feel safer. When an experience comes along that challenges me, I soothingly tell myself that it’s a learning experience and not a taunt from life.

Taking the inner child by hand, I protect her against the backlash of my own thoughts.

Ultimately, every situation in itself has no power to break us. This knowledge when internalized is the greatest safety net of all.

So when are you building your own castle?

Answers – Part 2 : Of Places and Wishes

This follows from part 1 and I’m clubbing two questions as my answers to these are similar.

Given the option to move to anywhere, would you? Why would or wouldn’t you?

What is the one thing you want at this moment?

How you feel emotionally is a place, a state of being is a place. Owing to some recent lessons, I feel that even though the world has much to offer, our internal world is just as magnificent a universe to explore.

The abandoned ruins of childhood memories, the fresh fields of momentary happiness and the wilderness of difficult emotions are all places to spend time in.

The way you discover different sides to you when you physically travel, these journeys into yourself could be just as rewarding, if not more, with the right mindset.

While I certainly do love to travel, at this point I realize all the more the need to attain the state of mind that allows me to stay calm and composed no matter what the situation externally. As I start to discover treasured moments in my own home that I know like the back of my hand, I see why clear perception is essential.

And perception cannot be clear unless the mind allows itself to drink of the present, which it rarely does as it’s either too consumed by the past, or too obsessed about the future.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I ‘want’ that, because I know that I and every other being on this planet is evolving slowly towards that state of mental clarity.

Consciousness evolves too, not just the physical forms.

But it’s the closest thing to ‘want’ that I can think of now.

I remember how – on my most surreal trip until now to the mountains, I enjoyed every bit of the journey. Climbing the first few hills, going deeper into the forest. Camping at a clearing where we still had a signal on our phones. Going higher still the next day – walking through wild country, listening to the streams, stopping for a breath as I basked in the sun, encountering a whole community of sheep. The cup of tea at the thatched tea shop, and the first sight of the snowy mountain. Standing under a night sky as I sent a thought of love to my family whom I couldn’t call as I had no signal on my phone, and seeing a shooting star then.

None of these moments are better than the other. They all have the same precious spot in my heart, and they always will. As I knew then that I will reach my destination, I know now too, for the only qualification to be on this journey is the willingness to learn.

And so for now, I savor the journey.

Answers to some wonderful questions – Part I : On Country and Culture

There will be a couple of these, as said set of wonderful questions are eleven in total. I’ve also shelved anything else I thought of writing because I might miss out and not complete them. These questions are from Dante at Dialectics, an amazing blogger and a great friend. His posts sometimes bring you closer to reality, sometimes make you question the way things are, and sometimes give you a good laugh because he sounds like a thoroughly frustrated English professor (he does teach language so, close enough!). Thank you, Dante, for re-nominating me and giving me the chance to respond to the questions you wrote.

Since I don’t want to do another nomination post right after my previous one, I’m taking each question as a prompt (a delight to me, who adores explaining my answers). The question I’d like to answer today is: May you teach me something from/about your country/culture?

In my homeland of Kerala, the period from mid-July to mid-August is called Karkkidakam – one of the months in the traditional calendar. In the earlier days of our agrarian society, this month of dark monsoon clouds and prevalent illnesses was bad news. Our ancestors hence devised a detailed plan for us to weather this seasonal storm and stressed upon the importance of looking after our health.

My favorite part of this plan was the Ramayana recital.

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Liebster Award Nomination – 2020

I am really grateful to Rishika Kakar (https://whimsicalwordsmith00.wordpress.com/) for this nomination. I just recently discovered her blog. She writes with a flair, making you feel as if you’re in the experience yourself. She lives up to her name, ‘The Whimsical Wordsmith’ – so do check it out!

My favorite thing about award nominations is that I get to answer so many questions and ask some of my own – and what better way to know fellow bloggers than holding an interview with them? Here goes!


  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  5. Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post
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Nature and Progress

More and more people believe that we are facing real issues due to our distance from nature – so much so that there’s even a word for that trauma.

As I was taking a walk today in the yard, thinking of this, I came across this flower lying on the path. I wondered whether we too, are like her, separated from the branches, roots and leaves, isolated from our true homes (ironic, given the present circumstances).

I used to be a person who loved to imagine the lives of those who came before us. I’m guilty also of glorifying those times as golden.

But as I felt the stone against my bare feet, the wind in my hair, the song of the leaves, I knew that I too was blessed.

Nature is never far away.

If you miss Her, you always have a choice to step out and reunite with Her.

And if that is not an option, simply close your eyes and listen to the breath like waves – rising and falling like the innumerable daughters of the ocean.

She is in you, as you are in Her.

And we are where we are meant to be, always.

Befriending procrastination

Surely, all of us are familiar with this famous black hole – the only one with a name that I can actually remember.

Procrastination is blamed for reducing productivity, negatively impacting mental health and for the one cardinal sin we should never commit – wasting time.

Unless you’re a master of your own mind and time (if you are, please, teach us all), there is at least one event concerning procrastination in everyone’s life that is either a funny anecdote or a story with a moral.

If you are familiar with my blog, you would know that I firmly believe in using all our traits – and I mean all of them. We are not one-dimensional beings made to forever laugh and smile and please those around us. We are human, and so-called negative impulses might be here to stay.

But perhaps procrastination is not such a bad thing after all.

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Why we shouldn’t let our ancestors dictate what we should believe

“The older generations believed that shouldn’t be done. They say it’s not appropriate.”

No matter where you come from, you must have heard these words – often from well meaning elders or even your more conservative friends.

I heard that recently from one of the most open- minded, forward-thinking people in my life.

We were talking about how the wooden prayer cabinet in our home that housed our sculptures, texts and other prayer articles, was often referred to by my friends as a temple inside my home. He must have heard someone in the older generation say it shouldn’t have been so, and he shared that with me.

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Communications in colours

When I first took “The Palace of Illusions” into my hands, it was love at first sight. And when I began to read it, to truly get lost in the story, I knew that I had indeed found the love of my life – the way we think, in our heady excitement, when we fall in love for the first time.

Eight years later, I still cannot pass it by without picking it up, looking through it with a happy sigh, and perhaps going through a few lines, even chapters. I’ve decided many a time to do a re-read and still found myself as enriched and elated as I was when I first finished it.

I truly hope I love someone the way I love this book – or that someone loves me that way I love this book.

Somehow, it teaches me something new every time I read it and leaves me not with the sort of exuberance that dies down within seconds, but with a calm sense of meaning that stretches on like an ocean of great depth.

How is it that I never wrote a review for this book?

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