Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Key to Happiness - It's All In Our Minds

The old man sat at the edge of his bed, his legs not quite reaching the floor below. He was once a fairly tall man, able-bodied and agile. But now he was just a shriveled, gaunt frame, his back bent twice over in his old age because of which he appeared much shorter now and his legs were dangling off the sides of the bed, even though he was seated at its very edge.
Lt Col. P (let’s just call him that for the sake of simplicity) had served for twenty long years in the army and had retired at the end of it, a decorated man, happy and content with his achievements while in service. He had fought many a battle and done his country and his family, namely his wife and three children, proud. He’d led quite an exemplary life and had been the kind of man everyone looked up to. He was without any doubt meticulous in his ways and always made sure everything in his professional and personal life was well-planned and well-taken care of. He made sure his children, two boys and a girl, went to the best of schools, ensured that apart from their education they were also encouraged to learn and pursue other interests, be it in the field of sport or music or whatever else they set their hearts on. His wife, Mrs. P on the other hand was a quiet and pleasant woman. Though she was not someone of many words, she was still very capable and ran the house efficiently and readily took charge as the head of the house whenever her husband was posted in far off places for long spells of time. She was a pillar of support and strength for her three children and never let them feel the lack of anything in their lives. Whenever the children expressed their fears over their father’s safety, while he fought fierce battles in distant lands, she would constantly reassure them and make them feel secure and confident of his safe return.
Now their three children had all grown up. The eldest, was an attorney and he led a busy life having married a lady of his own profession and when the two were not otherwise busy with the numerous legal cases they took on, their packed social lives took over. Entertaining people within their social circle at the drop of a hat, had to them, become as important as any other thing in their life. To the couple, having lavish, all-night long parties for their “distinguished” set of guests was as normal as waking up, getting dressed and setting off to work. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. Compromise of any sort thereby was unthinkable for the two of them.
The second son had gone on to finish his education at one of the premiere institutions in the country, passing out with flying colours. His life seemed to be shaping up well and everything seemed to be in place, until one day, his fiancé and college sweetheart had met with a horrible motor accident which took her life. After that incident, he had become a completely changed man altogether. He slowly cut off all ties with people he had once considered his friends and family. The last his parents had heard about him was that he had taken to drugs and was wasting away whatever was left of his life, frequently making trips between one prison and another.
The youngest, their only daughter had become a nurse and started work at a local hospital close to her parents home. Soon after she had married one of the doctors at that very hospital. And in no time her husband had decided to relocate to a different country in search of better career prospects.
And thus the last of their children had been distanced in one way or another from this aging couple. Not that they complained or made a fuss about any of it. Far from it, they had only been too happy to see all their children grow up and make a mark of their own and carve a niche for themselves in the wide world around. Their only regret had been what life had dealt out to their second son. They somehow could not come to terms completely with what had become of him. But as years rolled by, that too became a part of their distant but significant past.
Old Lt.Col. P, slowly began to get a little too forgetful about things. Once an organized man, he would now forget even little things like where he’d left his spectacles or the remote for the television. There were times when he’d go wandering off and then forget his way home till some neighbour recognized him and brought him back home. His wife on the other hand, was slowly losing her vision. What started out as blurred images, were now fast becoming barely visible entities. She would often stumble on things at home and end up having bruises and cuts that seemed to take ages to heal. All in all, this once efficient, self-made and self-sufficient couple, was soon finding it very hard to manage on their own. Finally their older son, had the two of them put away in a institution for the aged. Thus they came to be permanent residents of this new “home away from home”.
As Lt. Col. P sat on his bed that morning, dangling his legs gleefully, there seemed to be a strange excitement about him. He seemed to have a perpetual grin on his face as he gazed into the empty garden beyond the open window of his room. Mrs. P was in a room somewhere nearby, knitting away, mostly making absurd patterns out of wool. But that was among the last of her passions she had left in her. Day in and day out she’d knit away to glory. She too had that far way look in her eyes, though now she was practically blind to everything and everyone around her.
Lt. Col P, in his mind, was having quite a celebration of his own. He was dressed in his best coat and favourite pair of trousers and shirt. He was in his garden in the backyard of his old home and there seemed to be some sort of party going on. He was not quite alone, like he was in actuality. He was surrounded by his wife and children. No, his children were not all grown up like they were now, in fact they were just teenagers, and all of them in turn bustling in and out of the house, each carrying out a dish from the kitchen as their mother handed it out to them. They were arranging it all on the wrought-iron table in the backyard, which was painted white and looking spotless and grand amidst the rest of the decorations around. Soon his wife came out of the house carrying a huge three-tiered strawberry cream cake. That was a personal favourite of Lt. Col P and his wife. They had each year, right from the day they had been married, cut such a cake on their wedding anniversary. On this day too, Lt.Col. P was celebrating his wedding anniversary, though it was more like reliving those fond memories after all these years, in his mind. It was all like it had been before, all rosy and vivid, and filled with sweet recollections and sentiments he held dear. He was now one with all his numerous colourful, bright and joyous visualizations. He was oblivious to the world outside as was his wife, lost in a pleasant world of her own. They were both far removed from the harsh reality around and had managed in their own ways to put aside thoughts of what had become their lives now. And thus here was a very happy old couple, lost in their own little worlds, reliving moments of an unforgettable yesterday deep down in their minds, all over again.

As a parting note, I’d like to say this. Life takes different twists and turns, as we grow older and as each day passes us by. It is true that we expect things to be the way they are at this moment, forever. We wish that the people we’ve done so much for wouldn’t change, wouldn’t desert us or even move far away. And there is nothing wrong in wishing or feeling that way. We are but human beings and those are but human sentiments. As individuals we can make up our minds to stand-by and support the very people who’ve done so much for us; who’ve sacrificed so much for us. But as I said, one can never anticipate what turns life may take. Perhaps in the story above, the eldest son could’ve altered his lifestyle just a little bit so as to accommodate his aged parents and their growing needs and newly established dependencies. But like what happened with the other two, sometimes life just takes you so far away physically (like with the daughter in the story) or even mentally distances us from those we love (like what happened with the second son). These are often things that are beyond our control, its not like we want it to be the way it turns out to be. Things just happen for reasons we may never find or understand. For that’s what life is about, it all just happens.
And though we’d like to hold on to certain moments forever, it is inevitable that those moments have to pass and just become fragments of our memory. But then, our mind is a truly wonderful thing. It’s the most powerful gift that we possess. It helps recreate and feel those memories and moments all over again. No matter what twists or what course your life takes, never lose sight of all that you truly hold dear or let go of memories that you treasure. For one day, maybe in the distant future, maybe even tomorrow, one never knows when, these very memories can recreate a blissful world for us, one that would make us forget for a while and as often as we want it to, all that would have become of our lives at that point. That way, come what may, we would all still be happy, even if it’s all just in our minds - our own private space that no one can take away from nor separate us from.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kiss My Blues Away

I originally intended this as lyrics of a song and would love to explore composing music to go with it.
It’s a humble attempt at something that I’d love to explore sometime at leisure (writing lyrics for songs) but feel I have a long way to go, before I actually get to where I want to be.

Kiss My Blues Away

Walking down that lonely stretch of road
We used to call our own
Memories of you come flooding back
Reminding me of that joy I had once known.

We used to spend our days together
And our nights under the stars
Reveling in all the good things that came by
And turning away from troubles like they were not ours.

Ch : But then I don’t know what came between us
What took you so far away
Please tell me that won’t be forever
That you’ll be back someday
To fill this lonely heart of mine
And to kiss my blues away
Yes, to kiss my blues away.

My life has been so empty since the day that you were gone
My heart has been ever so eager
To listen to your laughter, to listen to your song.
Hope I won’t have to wait much longer for I am not all that strong
To go on with life without you beside me
To last out in your absence so long.

I’d wait for you forever
And I’d hide all those silent tears
If only you would promise you’ll come back to me
If only you would put aside that uncertainty and allay my fears.

Ch : But then I don’t know what came between us
What took you so far away
Please tell me that won’t be forever
That you’ll be back someday
To fill this lonely heart of mine
And to kiss my blues away (fade…)
Yes, to kiss my blues away...