Life as I know it

It has almost been a month in the Transforming India Initiative Fellowship and the journey has been a whirlwind of emotions. Some days I’m plagued with a million questions and on some days I’m as peaceful as a lake. On one of those days when my brain was on overdrive, we had a session on 'Partnership with Communities’, where I wrote about two partnerships in my life that worked and two that failed. In the process, I realized that there were some key values that I hold as non-negotiable and this realization emerged only as a reflection after penning the partnerships in detail. Writing about those people who caused great, deep, long-lasting impacts took me to a different dimension where I understood that life as I know it has been shaped by every circumstance, every small decision, every tiny thought — those that seemed like small things, but are actually not.

My symbolic response to the fundamental question — What is life? is the short story 'Life as I know it’…

It is dark but I have received my share of the shiny white today. I feel mother’s embrace as I sway and swing inside her. I can hear loud sounds, it’s as if two huge objects have collided. I haven’t heard anything like it! I feel wonderful as pearly beads pour over me. I can’t directly feel them, but I do feel the spreading chilliness and mother’s happiness . I can hear my siblings who surround me from above, squeal with joy as they dance to the breezy cool. Mother understands my excitement and gently coos that it’s almost time. Tomorrow I can join my siblings from above! I’m elated! I make a fuss about going to bed, but mother dearest rocks me gently, and soon I’m fast asleep.

I open my eyes, and I no longer see the pretty browns of mother above me. Instead it’s the shiny white! And all my brothers and sisters are enjoying the after effects of pearly beads from the previous night. I’m soon given attention and told that my name is 'Leaf’, just like my siblings! And that’s how it begins — My life as a Leaf.

My daily lessons commence and I’m taught how to tilt my body when pearly beads lash out angrily, how to spread my body to get the right amount of the shiny white and lastly, how to let go when the time comes.

As I glance down from the long arms of mother where I’m perched, my siblings begin to tell me all they have seen and experienced. The shiny objects that zoom quickly make tremendous amount of noise, they call them the noisies. They tell me that one of the noisies had crashed into mother, three seasons ago and had caused terrible damage. While mother suffered few injuries, she lost a dozen arms and hundreds of our siblings. Mother gently joins the conversation and tells me that it is a matter of the past, one must forget and most importantly forgive. Mother continues, "Forgiveness is the key ingredient for happiness. Forgiveness begins with oneself. When one is hurt, at that moment of extreme unhappiness, one tends to blame somebody or the situation. A lot of negativity is generated and one is soon upset. My dears, we must all understand that while it’s natural to get upset, it’s unnatural to stay upset. Forgive oneself for getting upset and then forgive the cause for the upset."

At that instant, I see two black objects flying and landing on mother’s arms, just inches away from me. I’m startled! They start singing sweetly:

Do not be afraid my dear,

for our baby we are here.

Your mother is our home,

no matter where we roam.

Siblings joyfully tell me that the song we witnessed is by the singing wings, who smile at me kindly.

The shiny white has turned a lovely crimson and is sinking into the tranquil blue that stretches till infinity. It looks beautiful. I’m elated at the thought of seeing this marvelous sight everyday now onwards!

Everyday I learn new things. I learn the importance of accepting a new sibling, just like the older siblings have accepted me. I learn that mother is not only home for us leaves and the singing wings, but also for crawling legs and humming sweets. I experience the joy of giving shade to people. I learn that while some days pearly beads lash out angrily, other days the shiny white shines too brightly. Most importantly, I understand that joys and discomforts are natural and I should respond to them in equanimity.

Three seasons have passed and it has now become extremely chill. Mother announces the approach of Autumn and encourages us, leaves, to graciously let go the moment she tells us to. I’m prepared. She loosens her grip and gently sways. I hear my siblings gently leave mother’s arms. I close my eyes and thank mother for caring for me always. She nods kindly, and shakes her arms.

I smile at her and let go with these last thoughts: Forgiveness, Acceptance, Kindness, Helpfulness and Equanimity…That’s life as I know it.

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