Volume 11 : Issue 2

Published : April - June 2012

Group : And Life Goes On

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By Arun Babani

Give and Take

We usually give what has stopped being useful to us. This T-Shirt is to be thrown, give it to your watchman; this ashtray is old and beyond repair, why throw it, give it to your driver. This chikoo is rotting, give it to your maid. This kind of giving must be accompanied by an apology to the receiver, she's unburdening you.

There is, in the highest give / receive, a similar kind of unburdening; like the rain cloud that is heavy with gifts, just overflows with abundance. It has to offer it to the earth, along with a tremendous gratitude, and the earth receives the bounty of rains with an open and womblike welcome. And what a difference is there in these two types of give / receive ventures.

Giving is always godly, and yet receiving is holier. Something is lying in your possession, you use it or don't, it is passively yours. Suddenly you pick it up from its place and hand it over to an admirer; now for the first time it becomes yours, actually. That other will name it after you and will receive it as yours. An object becomes truly yours, after you've gifted it to someone. A paradox.

As we humans have four layers of being; like Body, Mind, Heart and Being, so the gifts can be shared by each of these levels. Physical objects like gifts or money, although valuable, like the body, don't go very far. You may gift a perfume or a kitchen set, or even a car, it has its limitations. Better form of giving would be the mind-ful gift like knowledge or insight into deeper layers of life. Gyanam is the best form of Daanam. When you make someone 'see' something truly, you've shared your knowledge and then it goes deeper than the physical gift. A gift from the heart goes even deeper. As Dr. Deepak Chopra's seven laws of spiritual success has 'law of giving' as one of the basic laws of success. Even a one liner with love would go a long way in creating peace, good feeling and harmony. A heartfelt gift, which may just be a “Thank you card” is heavier in value than all the power gifts present in the shops. And lastly we have the gift from the very bottom of our being, which only a very few of us are able to share; the energy or the spirit; this is like the rain cloud, we talked about which just cannot help but share its abundance; to share energy as a gift to others, we must be able to consume and create it, which is a meditative experience.

Gifting has grown in recent years, as there are special days for mothers, teachers, doctors or even secretaries. Right understanding of the idea behind gifting, namely sharing one's abundance with someone you value, would drive out a lot of hoopla surrounding gifts and would bring your closer to your true feelings about your loved ones. From the bumble Baksheesh to the mighty Vardaan, there are all kind of levels of giving and receiving.

Your Walk Says it All

The style of our walk shows whether we are on an ascent or descent. It exposes our philosophy, our nerve. This fact was brought home to me one evening, sitting in a hospital lobby. Old women walk with their measured steps, and there are toddlers who have just discovered the tremendous joy of a carefree walk. A man on crutches walks with a tinge of self pity, while a nurse walks with an air of subdued self importance. Here in the hospital, the variety of walking styles are numerous; while someone walks sitting on a wheel chair, looking enviously around for a show of sympathy, the other may simply walk past him speaking anxiously on a cell phone! While the male doctors walk faster and surer than the others, more confident of their assured immunity, the female doctors are seen walking usually in pairs, stethoscope proudly hanging from their necks. They manage surprisingly well, considering the sate or emergency all around them. There is, the expectant walk outside the maternity ward, where “The News” is being awaited. Then there is the typical ward boy walk, which is either pushing a stretcher, or walking with a bandaged patient while holding their accessories, or walking with a doctor, just enough behind, to be able to be on call, just in case!

The priest comes walking, ever so softly, not to disturb even the air around him. And an occasional Police Inspector comes with a bulky step looking for any trouble in the tea cup. Pregnant women heave a sigh of relief each time they spot an empty seat; they walk, they sit, they stand, all with a heavy discomfort.

The seemingly simple act of walking changes with each new phase of life. A toddler on his tiny legs is all joy clapping his steps, while a teenager walks nervously conscious of his / her puberty; a strong two footed stride is displayed by a young visitor to the hospital, but a shaky barefoot walk is all an old man can manage.

A hospital visit makes it clear to us about which side of life's joys and sorrows we belong to. Whether we've just walked into a maternity ward, or have been walking around, or whether we are going to walk out of an ICU. Whether our journey is an upward one or downward one.

Our walk gives it all away!

A Girl’s Best Friend

Mobile phones and young girls are born to mate each other; they go together. They cross roads together, they stand at bus stops together, they enter coffee shops together, and they eat, sleep, and laugh together. I've seen a young girl taking an injection from a physician – while busy on her mobile. I've also seen a young girl on stage, waiting for her turn under the spot light, filing her nails with a mobile between her shoulder and ear. This explains the Ad film on mobile phones, featuring young girls, the latest being this young lady being delivered a cell phone by the postman, and she promptly messages her brother to send her a pink lipstick!

A young 20 something, alone, and lost in an urban jungle, now feels secure with a mobile phone firmly in her grip, a young 15 something, can now feel powerful in the college corridor with a mobile, a young 30 something, living alone as a PG, can now order for her noodles on the mobile, and a young 12 something can play with her school mates by giving “missed calls.” Well, well, it is a gala time for young girls, and they care a damn if it bothers the rest of us as to who pays for their slapsticks and lipsticks!

Time was, about a year ago, when a mobile was just a phone; the girls prayed for a further increment. Today a mobile is a phone plus a music player, plus a television, plus a computer, plus a camera, and plus of course a vibrator! What more can a girl ask for? At 99 paise she says “I'm loving every minute of it.”

Now, the big question. Why? Why does a girl, in her right senses love to talk, talk, and talk, when its merely words, words, and more words! Radio Mirchi had a joke going : “What did the mobile tell the young girl? Hold me tight” “What did the boy tell his girlfriend?” “Kar lo duniya muthee mein.” Dr. Sigmund Freud discovered for us the alternative uses of pencils, candles and keys for young girls. The esteemed father of Psychoanalysis could never have imagined that barely a century later little girls would land up with instruments they could hold, play, listen to and vibrate with their own nimble fingers. . . With a handset in her hands or pants, a girl is more that a girl now; she's what she always wanted to be : A complete man!

Hello, Hello . . . you naughty girl . . . . ! Where are you. . . . . What are you doing. . . . ?

For God’s Sake

In early childhood I was taught to pray by my mother who was a voracious prayer. Before going to sleep or touching the footsteps of school, or before meals, there were lots of occasions for prayer. On the big days – birthdays, holy days – prayers just seemed to fill our days and nights.

In youth, prayers gave way to doubt and cynicism. What God, who's God and soon it became a way of life. Until, we were blessed with a child. Now, the mother in me took hold, and prayers came back with a bang. It started with “Please, please God, take care of my son,” and I prayed when he slept, prayed when he went to school by cycle, and prayed when he went for overnight hikes in the mountains.

Over the years my agenda for God in my prayers went on multiplying. “Take care of my mother,” for instance, was added when she was hospitalized at the age of 70. She recovered. My dad's business went through a bad patch and to the prayer was added the request for his retirement.

And then came the trouble in Punjab. As my list of “take cares” grew so also the intensity with which I prayed. I believed that my son cleared school with my prayers, although the poor chap attended seven tuitions over and above the eight hours at school. My parents entered their 80th birthday dancing on their feet. My prayers were bearing fruit, when suddenly to my dismay, Gujarat was shaken by the terrifying earthquake.

The state and the victims of the tragic quakes appeared in my prayers. The rehabilitation of the victims went well and the world smiled again. A prayer, when answered, fills the one who prays with gratitude. We always say, appeal to the highest authority and things will change. And that's what I have been doing all these years.

My son bought a car a few months ago, and promptly a prayer was added to take care of his car and him while negotiating potholes and traffic lights.

Then with the September 11 attack on the US, my prayers seemed to be overburdened. My child, my mom, my pop and his plot of land, my child's studies, this car, my wife and her arthritis, Gujarat and now the US. And then, followed the attack from the US, I added a prayer for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And, today, I want to make a confession : Now, I'm afraid for God Himself. They are killing in his name, how long can He Himself survive? I feel this chill creeping up my spine. Soon they will go for Him.

Just today, I've added the prayer to take care of Him.

Whom shall I address it to?