10th October 1991, Thursday when Roll No 638 bewitched me just to change the course of my perspective, priorities and preferences. Ever since then I began to live in a world of fantasy wherein everything revolved around him. Days definitely commenced with my routine customary prayers, but now they changed too. Imploring God to have a glimpse of Roll No 638 became its objective. Sleepless nights were spent weaving dreams of us together while days were spent supplicating that he does not play truant. But with each passing day, his reckless play-truant attitude gradually grew stronger, making my prayers more intense and his appearance less likely.
Twenty Eight long years, yet our first encounter is etched deep in my memory, every detail distinctively fresh and crisp. It was our college excursion where we had first met; with every eye contact no dialogues were exchanged yet our eyes spoke volumes making the day worth memorable. Distinctly reminiscing when he first appeared before me, with all his opulent personality, dressed in the most casual grey stonewashed jeans and white printed shirt, his chiselled jaw lifted with a sweet, pleasing smile accentuating his devil’s tooth, his eyes twinkling with impishness, his dark black hair neatly done behind and his voice though exuding pride yet was soothing and genial. He had an unusual lethal combination of sturdy, muscular physique and an incredible sense of humour (a combination almost extinct in men then). He was the Greek God per se, a bearer of a charming, smart and attractive demeanour. A complete package any girl would fall for. He had successfully cast his spell upon me that day.
He became the reason to regularly attend college. My eyes would scan the classroom only to rest on him and vice versa. His look would pulverize me, blushingly I would rip my eyes away from his. Less attention was on the lessons but more on his hilarious comments and mischief. He was roll no 638 and I was roll no 645, we occupied adjacent benches during exams. Being a regular student, my notes would always make rounds in the class. However, my adonis made use of them only during exams for cheating purposes. Thus my only motive to study for exams was to share my answer sheet with him in order to ensure that we remain class fellows.
Since we were pursuing science, laboratory sessions were an essential part of the course. He would be irregular for lectures but fortunately regular for lab sessions. I would always look forward for these sessions as we were to arrange ourselves as per our roll numbers. We shared the same lab counter for experiments. We had many instances where we bumped into each other, grabbed the same test tube or the same chemical but ironically spoke nothing just smiled and drew ourselves in different directions. With him around I was oblivious to the world around me. We would enjoy every silent and speechless conversation between us.
Probably, coming from a conservative family social barriers, fears and pressures prohibited us from being extrovert. Subsequently, deterring us to speak to each other too, but however, we shared an amazing oculesics communication.
Today, I sit back and traverse down the memory lane just to understand that life goes on. No one is indispensable and so is he. My life has moved on unfortunately without him but with beautiful memories of his charismatic smile, his humour filled one-liners and his devil-may-care attitude. Optimistically I believe his life too must have moved on successfully with someone worthy.
But, today while ruminating the past, I regret not speaking to him at least once! How I regret he could have taken the initiative to speak to me at least once (being the man)! How I wish we could express our feelings for each other in words! Why didn’t I ever muster up my courage and confess? Why didn’t he ever articulate his feelings into words?
I am positive, wherever he is, he might be still remembering me. As I still remember him. His well-being is always included in my prayers till date but crossing paths now after 28 years is always excluded.
Stay blessed wherever and whoever you are with …
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“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
The world knows it as Newton’s third law of motion, I am sure he wanted to say the Third Law of Emotion. Because, whatever you say or do, it tends to generate a certain kind of emotional reaction in other people. This is very evident in the case of social media celebrities – one tweet or one Instagram story from them and you can see all emotions flooding the comment section.
When I agreed to write about this topic, I was a little unsure if I can do it. Not because I do not have emotions. I do realize my eyes oozing out a teardrop when I am watching an emotional scene and my hand wisely wiping it off secretly before my wife finds out about this and mocks me. I was hesitant because I cannot even name many of the emotions. Just like I can recognize only basic colours on the rainbow and not all the shades on the paint company’s colour catalogue, I understand the basic emotions like fear, anger, and happiness but I cannot clearly identify the other emotions and feelings. Partly because, as men, we do not talk about other emotions much. It is not very common to hear two buddies, at least as I have observed, having conversations like “I am extremely anxious about this situation”, “This made me super emotional, I feel sad”, or “I am feeling ashamed”. Most of the conversations will be about positive emotions like pride, excitement & amusement.
Each one is different. In my case, many a time I catch myself going into an empty cocoon without thinking about anything. I don’t feel anything – neither happy nor sad, neither anger nor fear. I am calm. I think this is the enlightenment state that many spiritual leaders talk about. My wife doesn’t think so. She says I may have some sort of diurnal lagophthalmos. As a man who has not read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, I refuse to let her assumptions shake my belief. I was thinking maybe I am special until I found this video from Mark Gungor. The response from the crowd says how true this could be for all men. All men seem to get into a box (not the final one, although one day they will).
I am not an expert in this field. If I was, I would be publishing a book instead and charging for it. In order to learn more about emotions I started reading the book, “Master your emotions”. I must say that I was not too emotionally attached to the content and set it aside for another time. Like any normal human being slaving in the Information Technology world would do, I resorted to Dr.Google and asked, “Hey Google, how do men handle their emotions?” There were a bunch of articles both from experts and from wannabes like me. Some interesting ways that men use to handle their emotions, that caught my attention, are listed below.
The feelings may be expressed in the form of physical ailments. It looks like men tend to complain of sudden headaches, backaches etc when they are emotional. Have I done this before? I do get headaches and backaches but mostly they are either because I am sick or because of strenuous physical work like sitting in that uncomfortable seat in the flight for 9 hours. I do feel fatigued on certain days but that’s a rare occurrence. Otherwise, I was guilty of occasionally faking physical complaints to avoid a certain situation or people. Maybe that was my way of expressing disinterest? Is disinterest an emotion? Not sure. Only experts can say.
Men remodel one feeling into other feelings. They tend to convert emotions that they perceive as weak like sadness into an emotion that they feel is strong, like anger. The belief that it is okay for men to express anger but not sadness could be because the former is considered as a more masculine feeling. We have all done that. When I feel incredibly sad about how little common sense few people have, I turn the hulk mode on and smash that like button, err, smash whatever is in hand. I miss my Nokia 3310. Sigh!
Walking away is the default survival instinct. When men find themselves in an emotional situation they tend to walk away from that place or situation to calm themselves down. Be it when you are arguing with your better half or when you are in a group where the stupidity hits the fan. I have walked away from a lot of arguments when I sense that my heartbeat is rising up. But with this Corona fiasco on, not many people have the luxury of walking away from an argument. Please remember facing the conflict and having that argument with your wife is far healthier than going away and risking your life.
Is it really a blog post if you don’t leave a quote at the end to ponder about? Here is the food for thought on handling emotions from an anonymous person that is generally attributed to Lord Buddha (or Mark Twain, if you know what I mean) on the internet.
“Don’t promise when you are happy, don’t reply when you are angry and don’t decide when you are sad.”
Since childhood, you have been my favourite month. You were the month which gave my parents the joy of becoming parents for the first time. Every year, the arrival of March is more awaited than any other month. But, who knew, this year, you, my beloved month, had plans of your own. Just as I was ready to welcome you with open arms, news broke the evening before on the 29th Feb 2020 of not being employed any more from March 1st 2020. The gravity of the news weighed me down after a week until then it was assimilation. Days set in, posing questions “Now what? Until when? What next? etc?’ ‘I have a creator who cares and loves me with a heart of 70 mothers, he will definitely, place me somewhere better.’ was the only response I had for myself and kept me going. And, as a family, we grew closer, bonds strengthened. I was spending more time with my little one and cherished every minute of it. With all the bewilderment around, 13th March 2020 arrived and like every year, the sun shone brighter and the breeze was cooler. Or at least thinking of it that way makes me feel special. The second half passed by with much ease. Situations accepted; lock downs, enjoying each others company, relishing mom’s cooked food along with all the light-hearted moments together and self-grooming. Last, but, not the least, came the 10-day letter writing challenge to keep our minds churning a little extra. So, you have been a month full of lessons, appreciation and a potpourri of emotions for me.
Do let us know in the comment. how you feel about the letter to the month of March.
You want to write a letter and let others read, take part in the community challenge and be a part of the every growing blogging community on the link mentioned below.
The Sun rose like it did the day before. It was bright and sunny and so nothing changed. The night before the moon had stayed still in the sky. It was bright and was thankful for the sun casting its eye. But all had changed really and now it seemed too late. Let me cast my mind back to those times on the train, my head locked down with not a care in the world. Did someone look in my direction to exchange a pleasant glance. Oh, how I now long to make eye contact again. Let me cast my mind back to those coffee shop occurrences with my head buried in my laptop. Did I take the time to maybe share a drink with a stranger, ask them how they felt today. Oh, how I long for a chair in that coffee shop and make a new friend. Let me cast my mind back to the praising of celebs online while chastising our teachers and front line workers for pay rise demands. Did I not understand the real definition of a hero. Oh, how I long to shake and hug each and everyone of our front line workers now. Tell them what a brave and tremendous job they are doing to save us. Let me cast my mind back to the running around for kids thinking I was doing it all for them. Did I not stop to ask what they wanted. But now I do thank a powerful and protective force that a chance has been granted. I’d heard that when tyranny and obsession became our weapon of choice the powerful force would send someone, something to reset the error of our ways. And so in my lifetime I reset. I spent my life consuming, taking, grabbing, clawing but now I must be creative, to give, to share, to once again be compassionate. When the dust settles, will we have learnt our lesson? Only the powerful force knows as our hearts are transparent in front of it.
It should not have taken me by such surprise but it did. For months my husband said he loved me, loved being a family man, loved being a dad to Spook. He bought me things. Then one day after months of telling me I was fine and didn’t need my meds because all my issues were just my bad personality…He called from work at 6 p.m. and said he’d see us after work. Three hours later, he called, mumbled into the phone, “I can’t do this anymore,” and he hung up. No doubt smashing his phone as he’d done before when he was ‘done’ with a woman. I was flabbergasted. I kept calling his cell and it went to voice mail. I tore into the bedroom and sure enough, all his clothes and computer were gone. Still not sure when or how he pulled that off since we had one car and he had no license so I wouldn’t let him use it, but I was in a bad mental space. He could have sprouted two heads and I likely wouldn’t have noticed. I’d begged him for weeks to make a call and get me into a psych doc because by that time, I was petrified to talk to other people. He always said he forgot, he’d do it tomorrow. He never did then had the nerve to say I drove him away by not being on my meds. After saying I didn’t need them, I just had personality disorders. This man everyone else found so charming and upstanding was in fact a pathological liar.
I immediately took Spook to my mom’s and took myself to the ER. I was going to get medicated and referred to a psych doc and I was gonna get in my right mind because now I was a single mom with a 2 year old to raise on my small disability income. 3/4 of which was rent. I was in a panic but once I got some Xanax on board, I calmed down. I was still confused why he handled it like a teenage boy breaking up with a girlfriend. We were married, we had a child together, and ending things with a cryptic call after just 3 hours earlier tell me how much he loved me. I do not think even baffled is a strong enough word to describe how I was feeling for the next week or two. Once medicated properly again with a reliable doctor, was when the gravity and reality of the sudden single motherhood finally hit me. This 2 year old little girl, confused that ‘da-da’ was suddenly not around, was counting on me. For everything. When some days with my mental health issues, it was all I could do to get myself out of bed and dressed. I did my very best, though, to keep a smile on my face and keep her routine normal as possible. If tears threatened, I’d step out of her view or into the bathroom, not wishing to add to her confusion of why mommy was so sad and scared. And I was terrified. The man left us with a power bill about to be disconnected, no food in the fridge, and Spook with no diapers. I had no way to bring in more money to get this stuff and many a night I stayed awake, stomach churning with anxiety, and cursing the day I allowed the donor to lie his way into my life. But everything happens for a reason and without him, I would not have my beautiful daughter so I regret nothing. I can’t however, forget anything, either. My own fear, my feelings of inadequacy, worrying if I was going to pass on my mental issues and ruin my child. Year after year, it became harder and more of a crippling fear. I admit there were times I basically zombie shambled through each day, making sure even if I hadn’t eaten or bathed in days, Spook’s needs were always met. The power of my love for my child gave me the strength to keep going, even when every fiber of my depressed being told me she’d be better off without me dragging her down. There were times when she would scream and hit me and break things and I’d call hotlines because I felt I needed help and yet…They didn’t see it as a problem other than a lack of consistent discipline on my part so I had to take on that added guilt and blow to my self esteem. There were times I almost wished her father would reappear and ask for visitation so I wouldn’t feel so crushed under the weight of it all by myself. I admit that with zero pride but I was overwhelmed and scared and…a train-wreck.
He’s been gone 9 years. He’s not asked to see our child. He moves and changes jobs and girlfriends every couple of months. He tells people I won’t let him see her. 9 years with limited resources financially and mentally, I have raised this child alone. Doctor appointments, school, homework, school events, constant playdates at our house to the point I thought I’d have a nervous breakdown. The tantrums and her hitting me. The screaming. The ADHD. I am still here because I am her mom and I love her. To use something irutarts said to me, “He left in peace and left you in pieces.” That he did. But I picked up those pieces and I put myself back together best I could. The point everyone seems to miss is that this was never about him or me being jerks to each other. It’s about a little girl who asked for none of this and his abandonment and shunning of her is unforgivable. When she asks me why other kids have dads and she doesn’t…I just have to tell her that her father and I couldn’t get along and he’s left his other kids, too, so it’s not your fault, Baby. He left her in pieces that will probably remain shattered into her adulthood and that is the true heartbreak of this failed relationship. The one thing she can say though is that she didn’t have a loving devoted mom who made sacrifices she she didn’t have to do without. Maybe she lost the two parent lottery, but she will always have me and I hope one day that means something to her. Maybe one day she will focus not on my failures but all of the things I did right.