On Christmas Night

Nights are like long stretches of darkness, like shades of grey scattered against the white, like silent caves hidden in the wilderness. “What are nights for?”, I asked? Do they mean something? Do they say something?

When the whole world is sleeping and you are alone in your kitchen baking and the aroma of cake fills the night air, the twinkling stars from their heavenly heights take a deep breathe and stop to stare, that moment is beyond words. You sitting at your window catch a glimpse of the stars and even before you could react, they smile and wink and disappear. Disappear where?

“Stars to what places you go?”; “Who are the people you meet?” As I wondered I heard a little jingle outside my door. Oh! is that Santa greeting me, is that him who stole my dream to shower me with gifts?

I opened the door and saw the green grass in the lawn covered with snow. Surely, the leaves rustled, the logs burnt bright and the candles glowed. Yes! it was …it was him. Sometimes you feel like kids. You wait with hope, with desperation for something or someone to wrap you around with a blanket of warmth. The cozy feeling enlivens your spirit. The quiet of the night sounds like a gentle drizzle.

Nights are like long stretches of darkness, like shades of grey scattered against the white, like silent caves hidden in the wilderness. “What are nights for?”, I asked? Do they mean something? Do they say something? Why do we say ‘Dark night’, ‘Lonely night’, ‘Scary night’, ‘Long night’? Nights are also bright, lighted, starry, cool, breezy, warm, gentle, comforting? Aren’t they? Nights are for rest, for peace, for rejuvenation, for celebration.

When a star twinkles, a lamp glows or a candle burns it is the darkness of the night that conspires to make them illumine the world. When standing at the edge of a dark tunnel rest assured that daylight is spreading its wings somewhere.

Darkness is not ugly or evil. It is a moment that leads to another moment. It is the stillness that ushers you to action. It is the oblivion that awakens your deeper conscience.

Knowing thyself is truth, truth is true knowledge. Happiness is not dependent on people, events, situations and circumstances. It is within you. Ignorance is a veil that shields your vision. It creates the confusion between hope and despair, joy and sorrow, love and hatred.

On Christmas and this festive season, pledge yourself a world of happiness.With peace and wisdom that Santa brings for everyone, gift the world more happiness; happiness which is independent, unadulterated, which springs from within the fountains of inner calm and quietness.

Lift the veil, happiness is just round the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Rampal: A Leaf from the Past

Sitting in a coffee house, waiting for a business client, I was finding it difficult to stay calm. I was forced to meditate on the nature of ‘wait’ and how ‘waiting’ impacts the human mind. As I kept ruminating, my thoughts unconsciously led me to the time when I was still a young child. I traversed back in time, dived into my past and became completely oblivious of my present ‘wait’.

Waiting could be exasperating. It could be taxing, tiring, humiliating. It can leave you fuming, fretting, annoyed. Sometimes, however, waiting can be fun, especially if one is waiting for ones D-Day, expecting a promotion, a salary hike or meeting a long lost friend or a loved one.

Sitting in a coffee house, waiting for a business client, I was finding it difficult to stay calm. I was forced to meditate on the nature of ‘wait’ and how ‘waiting’ impacts the human mind. As I kept ruminating, my thoughts unconsciously led me to the time when I was still a young child. I traversed back in time, dived into my past and became completely oblivious of my present ‘wait‘.

On a hot Friday afternoon, in a small sleepy town in the remote corner of the country somewhere in central India, the kids waited anxiously, straining their ears for a distinct sound. It was almost 3.00 p.m. The sound was expected anytime between 3.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m. The long and dreary summer afternoon had prolonged the wait. It seemed like ages before the familiar ‘toot-toot’ of the bicycle horn could be heard at a distance. The kids rushed to the window and there at the curve of the road emerged a hazy outline of a man riding an old black bicycle. As the figure came closer, the sound now became loud and clear. The kids grew excited; the curls of their lips widened into broad grins. The kids jumped and leaped towards the main iron gate entrance at the far end of the garden road with finely trimmed hedge on either side and small white and purple petunias flowering in the artistically designed flowerbeds that were encircled by small pebbles and painted white with lime powder (chuna). Stop! stop! they shouted in chorus. The hooting sound and the cycle came to a standstill.

The mysterious rider alighted from the bicycle, there were two large white bags hanging down from the two handles at either side of the bicycle. The bags were overstuffed with soft, spongy, sweet smelling, mouth-watering delicacies, whose aroma filled the air. “Why did you come after so many days, this time” ?, asked one of the kids. The lean and thin man with dark brown complexion and small brown eyes responded with a feeble smile. He unloaded the bags  with mild difficulty as his left arm was amputated or he was a victim of natural disability. Mother signaled them to come near the shaded verandah. She asked him if he needed some water, as he looked pale and worn out. Mother went inside and brought him a glass of water and some jaggery, which he accepted gladly. After that, he asked the kids in a more enthusiastic voice “What would you like to have children” ? The bag when opened, appeared like a Pandora’s box which revealed packs of freshly baked cakes, candies, pastries, cream rolls, muffins and assorted cookies. There was a whole range of  delightful delicacies to satiate the sweet tooth. The children picked their favorites and their hearts were filled with boundless joy. Mom payed the bills, the kids waved happy hands and in unison shouted, “Come soon again Rampal bhaiya!

Rampal, the thin man with one arm and a bag full of goodies used to visit the Campus once in every 15 days. He was a welcome guest and indeed the most awaited one. He was a harbinger of priceless happiness to these kids. Living in a campus residential area, situated on the top of a hill, surrounded by nature, cut off from mainstream, where marketplace was miles away, the small vendors like Rampal were a blessing in disguise.

Today, there are a thousand places just round the corner where you will find the most exquisite of bakers and confectioners. The market is flooded with shops which offer the finest and most scrumptious treats of delicious cakes and cookies. Pineapple cake, Truffle cake, Fruit cake, Black Forest, Marble cake, there is an array of cakes available. I relish them all, but nothing tastes as pleasing, as luscious, as gratifying, as heavenly as the cakes and cream rolls that rolled out of the magical bag of  Rampal. None of these can match up to the aroma and the sweetness that was delivered to our doorsteps by Rampal.

The sound of the cycle bell is still ringing in my ears,  I can see you riding towards our house with your bags filled with tempting yummy delights. I am standing at the same  old gate hoping to find you there…

Waiting for Rampal was like an endless wait but the ‘sweetest’ one that one could have ever craved for. It is amazing how different people from different walks of life, touch our lives and leave such lasting impressions on our mind and heart.