The moment I saw a new life come out of me, my world turned upside down. Filled with happy tears and immense joy, at the back of my mind I knew that it was coming- the time to shoulder responsibilities as a mother which would forever be a part of my identity. For me and my husband, it has been a roller coaster ride to bring up a newborn in a foreign land with no support amidst the pandemic. Nevertheless, we are grateful to God for all the strength and wisdom He bestowed on us in battling the unforeseen circumstances of parenthood.
I was in need of someone to vent out all my struggles with Ethan without them judging me and it was my parents who came for my rescue to listen to whatever I have to say. My retired father who looked after my grandfather who left us a month back also shares his daily challenges with me and during one such conversation, I found few similarities between Ethan and my thatha. This likeness have motivated me to write, When 1 meets 91. To read about my grandfather, check the link http://In memory of Durai Thatha https://sujimagdalene.wordpress.com/2021/09/24/in-memory-of-durai-thatha/
Ethan is a mommy’s boy, for he needs me around him always and I can firmly confess that he is fond of me more than anyone as I am his sole caretaker most of the hours in a day. In the same way, my grandfather in his last days was very well bonded with my father as he spent most of his time in taking care of him. My dad told me an instance when thatha playfully hit his tummy asking where he had been as he was not around him for some time. The first takeaway from this instance is that both children and elderly are dependent on someone to take care of them for most of their tasks. While we consider it a responsibility and delight to be with our little ones, we often consider it a burden to look after the older ones. While we read stories and sing rhymes with children, we ought to read bible/newspaper/magazines to the older adults. I have had the privilege to read bible to thatha and sing with him when he was sick in 2018; memories to cherish.
Secondly, Ethan throws tantrums for no reason at-least once a day thereby provoking my temper. Likewise, my thatha did the same by denying medicines, being moody and talking irrelevantly at times. When it comes to Ethan, I understand that tantrums are a part of their life and it’s me who has to control myself and find ways to soothe him. However, when I reckon if I had the same acceptance with thatha; the honest answer is no. When I ingested that both 1 and 91 are the same physically, emotionally and mentally, my perspective changed. Alas, it was late as I was miles away from him.
How beautiful would be the lives of elderly when we treat them the way we treat our infant. What goes around, comes around. We, human beings were formed from dust on the ground and to dust we return. Formed as a tiny mustard seed in mother’s womb, in the circle of life, we all grow, thrive, live, age and finally pass away into ashes (or bones). Lives of 1 and 91 are the same; but their well-being merely depends on the choices we (people in between) make.
Through roses and thorns, valleys and peaks, successes and failures, days and nights, highs and lows, birth and death, I grow and refine myself to keep a steady pace in the flow of life. When I gaze at myself in the mirror, I wonder how much I have changed (for good) physically and mentally which I now embrace. Like every human being, I have been through hell and heaven in different phases of life which have left behind hands full of experiences, innumerable lessons, unforgettable memories and few heartaches. It is true that life begins at 30 as we get a deep understanding of who we are, what we are capable of and eventually, it’s that point of life, when we begin to live our best days. In this article, I share few simple yet powerful takeaways I have picked up so far. They frame me to be a better individual.
1. To be productive, waking up early is a prerequisite
2. Put God first by seeking Him in the early morning hours
3. Always begin the day with a glass of lukewarm water
4. Never skip breakfast unless you are fasting (and praying); else, it is just starving
5. Take your vitamins; food alone doesn’t meet all our nutritional needs
6. When we look good, we feel good. So, take care of your outer and inner beauty
7. Say no to any kind of gadgets in the first and last part of your day
8. An egg a day, two serves of fruits and vegetables, few nuts and keeping oneself hydrated are important
9. Be active physically and mentally; idle mind is devil’s workshop
10. Work towards your skills/talents; if you don’t have one, create
11. Never judge anyone; everyone human being is different. Embrace the difference of opinion
12. Never talk negative about someone in their back. God listens and He will judge
13. Listen when someone talks; even if they keep repeating. This world has less listening ears
14. Mean what you say; say what you mean. No fake words to please others
15. Keep your promises
16. Be on time
17. Smile often
18. Don’t be night owls; go to bed at the set time
19. Family gets the first preference
20. Never compromise health for wealth
21. Save before spending
22. Forgive even if people aren’t sorry
23. It’s better to mind our own business rather than poking our nose into others life
24. Check on your loved ones by visiting, making a phone call or texting
25. God created everyone equally; so respect and treat others fairly
26. Being humble makes you a better person; pride brings destruction
27. Speak truth with love; being arrogant doesn’t profit us
28. Have empathy for others; not sympathy
29. Be a minimalist; less is always more
30. You reap what you sow; so sow the best
At times, circumstances make it impossible to exercise these lessons on a daily basis even though they are etched at the back of our minds. It’s completely alright to lose our balance occasionally, for we are mere humans and not programmed machines. As long as we bounce back to live a purposeful and joyous life, nothing else counts.
Browsing through a social media page, I read that Melbourne will be the most locked down city in a week among other nations of the world. Weeks before I gave birth to Ethan in August 2020, we went into lockdown for the first time and now, we are in the midst of our sixth lockdown with restrictions easing occasionally depending on case numbers. It’s been a couple of months since we met our friends, had visitors at home, went for a trip, did shopping, and dined at a restaurant. Staying at home with fears of contracting the virus haunts as cases keep increasing day by day. However, the privilege of exercising/walking/cycling outside comes as a rescuer for stay at home moms like me. Though Victoria has officially entered spring, it’s still cold most of the days which makes it impossible for me to take my 13 month old toddler for a walk. Sometimes it rains and all we can do is simply gaze at the faint sky and falling droplets of rain with some cuddling and laughter. Myself and Ethan look forward to sunny days as an eagle waits for his prey with eagerness and hunger; hungry to breathe the outside air, play in the swing, enjoy the vibrant flowers, explore new places and find some comfortable place to have our mid- morning snack. Luckily, we have been enjoying these privileges twice or thrice a week and after an hour of mom-son time amongst the nature, my mind is uplifted and body energised thereby keeping me sane throughout the day.
After all, life is about relishing such simple privileges and living our best in the present. Finding joy in the ordinary is what I have discovered.
I have always considered it a privilege to grow up in a home with grandparents as they are an epitome of selfless love, supreme care and divine protection. Losing my maternal grandmother (Ranji Avva) in 2015 was heart wrenching and the wounds I acquired from her death are still fresh. I lost a person who loved me unconditionally.
It throbs to write that my paternal grandfather (Durai Thatha) has left the earth on the 9th of September 2021 at 90 years of age; just two weeks back. Those who have known me from my childhood and adulthood days would certainly have met my Thatha too because he is a part and parcel of my life. Somewhere deep down the heart, I believed that situations would normalise and I would get to see him. However, worldly death is an uninvited foe who doesn’t hold back for any.
I write this article in memory of my Thatha who has inspired clusters of people; especially me. Born on the 15th of October, 1930 in Ooty, India, my grandfather, Mr Cunnaiah Daniel Zechariah was one among the 6 children born to my great grandfather, Mr Cunnaiah Naidu, who worked as a manager in a printing press along with British people. In my childhood days, I have heard my Thatha say that his father was very concerned about discipline and never failed to teach them the same. I was so amazed when I got to know that everyday at 4 am, ie very early in the morning amidst the freezing weather, all the 6 children were expected to assemble for the prayer as soon as they hear their dad sing the song ‘Arunodhayam jolikudhe’. It was also a rule in their household to return back to home at 6 pm no matter where they are as that’s the time for their evening prayer.
My Thatha completed his 10th standard from Municipal High School, Ooty which is now renamed as Government Higher Secondary School and worked in a ration shop for a short while in a place known as Pykara, Ooty. I guess he was not satisfied with his first job and when he told his parents about his interest to join Indian Navy, they were hesitant. So, what did he do? He ran away from home and went to Coimbatore where he stayed in a relatives place. I remember the reaction I gave him when he told me this story; with eyes wide open, I asked ‘appadiya’ (meaning ‘is it?’). Upon attending the interview, he cleared it and got selected as Airman in Indian Navy. Only after joining Navy, he sent his distinguished picture in naval uniform to his parents. I am pretty sure my Thatha made everyone proud and his parents would have got a wide smile on their face. Whenever someone comes home, my Thatha shows his Navy pictures and tells them his story with so much enthusiasm and pride. He worked mostly in Wellington Island, Cochin in a ship named Vikranth, which looks long and huge. I heard from my dad that he visited Mumbai, Goa, and Singapore during his work.
Every vacation, Thatha visits Ooty and once, he fell in love with my grandmother, Mrs Jesse Chandra Daniel. They got married in 1959 and my dad, Mr Daniel Sunder Rajan was born in 1960. As my Thatha was working away from home and in different countries, my grandmother would have felt lonely I guess because I heard from my Thatha that his wife asked him to resign the job and he obediently did for the sake of his family.
After resigning, my Thatha, Avva and dad moved to Ayanavaram, Chennai where my Avva worked as a teacher. Meanwhile, Thatha got placed as Transport officer in Kalpakkam and shifted there along with his family. Our whole family still receives special respect when we say our Thatha’s name as he is known as a very humble and helping person by his colleagues and neighbours. After Thatha’s death, my dad has been receiving so many calls and texts from his peers and friends telling him how helpful and kind he has been to them in difficult times. At the age of 58, Thatha took voluntary retirement since Avva had been suffering from breast cancer and shifted to their newly built home in Ambattur, Chennai, where my parents currently live. A year after I was born, my Avva went to be with the Lord and Thatha stayed in Ambattur along with his elder sister, Ranji Avva, who is also my maternal grandmother. To read about her, check this link http://Ranji Avva – Woman of Faith! – Sujitha Magdalene Sunder – https://sujimagdalene.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/ranji-avva-woman-of-faith/
As my father was working at Kalpakkam, beginning of every month, Thatha used to visit us for a couple of days to get his monthly pension. As a little girl, I longed to see him every month so that I can sleep on his chest and get pampered as much as possible. Throughout our entire stay in Kalpakkam, whenever Thatha visited us, he made it a point to take me and my brother to the departmental store to get us snacks – gems, five star, kitkat, chocos, milk bikis, jim jam, salt biscuits, animal shaped biscuits, potato chips, just to name a few. It was heartbreaking when someone said that I could no longer sleep on his chest because of his open heart bypass surgery and from my memory, I think after this operation, I never got to feel his warmth so close.
This article would fail if I do not pen down the beautiful memories he carried with Ranji Avva. Every vacation, when we visit Ambattur, I was spellbound by the love and care shared by them; I have never seen them fight or argue over petty or big issues; nevertheless, they were bound by sacrificial love and mutual understanding. When one gets sick physically, the other ‘suffers emotionally and tries his/her best to cope the other person up. While Avva was nearing her last days, her physical weakness demanded someone to be with her always and it was Thatha who shared his bed with her to keep her safe. Months before her death, there was an instance when Thatha fell sick just because his sister moved from our home to an other place. I wonder if I would be ever able to witness such deep bond between brothers and sisters in this present age.
I grew up seeing my Thatha pray for everyone at 4am every day and starting his day by reading bible, daily bread and other spiritual books for more than an hour. He has huge collection of different books which paved way for me from a very young age to read and find solace in God’s word. In my teens, I longed for a bible for myself and he gifted me the same on a Easter Day which I will cherish forever. He has been my fashion designer who selects dresses and sandals, and helps me in pairing them while I rush for work. Though I come home from work at 10 pm, he patiently sits in the veranda except on sick days to open the gate for me and to say goodnight. It is so difficult to process the thought that I will not get to see my Thatha anymore in the home where we once shared such wonderful memories.
Thatha never owned any vehicle; he walked miles and hours to keep himself fit. He was a person who took good care of his health by drinking plenty of water, eating at the right time, taking natural supplements and finding happiness by helping others. I have not seen him get anything for himself; not even a shirt or shoe but spend his hard earned pension for the well-being of others. He gave everything that he had wholeheartedly without a pinch of hesitation and respected people of all classes and ages with no partiality. He is an embodiment of a perfect child of God who has laid up treasures in heaven by helping and being there for others rather than accumulating earthly treasures which would be one day destroyed by moth and dust. Read few messages about him below-
It aches heavily to write that my Thatha longed to see me after I moved to Melbourne in 2018. Before losing his memory completely to Alzheimer’s disease, he cried on seeing me and it puts a tear in my eyes to write that his question ‘yeppoma varuva ? Unna pakanum pola irukku’ (when will you come? I long to see you’) still echoes in my ears.
My sincere thanks to Nimmi avva, Joseph thatha and dad for sharing many unknown sides of thatha and brushing up my childhood memories 😊
Afternoon naps are what I love the most as it’s that hour of the day when I can be at peace and spend some time for myself amidst the chaos caused by my 1 year old hyperactive toddler. Not just that; I get ample time to adore my cutest boy and give him infinite number of kisses as he sleeps on my arms. In the warmth of his calming breath, I relax myself and nap for a hour or so until I set the race for evening routine.
Yesterday, as I was having my own time reading articles, I was distracted by a loud sound which lasted for a minute and then gradually faded from my ears. We live in a suburb which is quite near to airport and ever since I moved here, my ears are habituated to such sounds around the clock. I am lucky enough to witness airplanes flying above my head occasionally. However, the sound I heard yesterday was a bit different; noisy, deafening.
Once the rumbling subsided, I thought of an other sound that I would be hearing very soon; it will be much louder, bolder and mightier than all the sounds I have ever heard in life. It will be the sound of a trumpet- the trumpet of God and God Himself with descend from heaven to take me up to live eternally with Him in the most beautiful place He is constructing. And yes, it’s not only for me but for the whole mankind.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
God created the heaven and the earth. He is the beginning and the end. He has created me in His own image and despite His efforts to give a peaceful and purposeful life, I fall short of the glory of God often. Out of pure sacrifice and love, God sent His own son, Jesus Christ to earth to die for my sins by taking up all the infirmities, shame, sickness, and the like on the cross. He rose again the third day and has ascended into heaven to prepare a place so that you and I can live with Him eternally.
So yea, He will come again. Definitely. Without fail. At the right time. However no one knows when but everyone must know why. Why? Because he loves me and you and that’s why we live in a period of grace now. He is merciful and kind enough to forgive our sins and shortcomings no matter what they are, who we are and what our beliefs are. If we call to Him, He listens and replies.
Henceforth, every time a plane flies over my roof, I reckon how near the coming of the Lord is!
I know that searching for serene in the midst of sorrow isn’t imperative anymore as darkness keeps engulfing humankind continuously. There is no strength left in your heart to keep on hearing cries from desperately longing individuals who have either lost their own or battling the fierce fight. You even wonder if your eyes could shrink it’s vision or your ears could shut its drum to the ongoing chaos surrounding your entity. Times are hard; irrespective of one’s identity or age, with no regard to humanity, clusters of people entering the pangs of death remains steady over time.
Being home bound for even a while seems like an eternity for you when there is no visible sign of light at the end of this dangerous tunnel. Your thoughts on when would the deep dark night give way to break the dawn so as to return to the world of normalcy inhibits the seed of hope. While pondering on the lives lost, loss of livelihood keeps pouring as a fuel into the already burning fire of anguish.
Oh dear weary soul, yes indeed you are amidst the fiery furnace but absorb the bitter truth that I am not fair at all. I have been exclusively given to each and every mortal being on this planet; yet, I function along with my companion, the breath, who could stop listening to me at any point of our mutual service. We cannot help but stick to our duties bestowed on us by the Creator. At times, we are pushed to conclude our chores even though we hear your plights and cries. That’s why even though I am precious as a pearl, I am fragile, unfair and short lived.
There are many lessons that I would like to teach you in your journey on earth and no matter what, I cannot continue my coaching without testing your faith and patience. Eventually, you can get to know me better only through pain, suffering, hardships and loss; these are the building blocks I use to mould and create a new ‘you’.
I am never informed about my resignation; so no one can ever count my length of days. However, as long as I am in you, do your best to learn from me as these valuable lessons would lend a hand to be at peace with yourself. Trust me- I can keep you hale and healthy, safe and sound if you practice gratitude, kindness, lovingness and thankfulness among your fellow people. My forever enemy, death never takes a back seat and he eagerly waits with wide witchy grin to separate you and me. Though he has to succeed one day, take heart that it’s the body that he can destroy but the impeccable soul silently waits for its Creator.
What can 15 minutes in a day do to your life? Will you believe if I say that concentrating everyday for a minimum of 15 minutes on a single task can drastically change your life? I tried this experiment in my day to day life which has paved way for me to be more productive and mentally active as I am equipping myself to the task I would like to master. Not just our skill set but this act of continuous improvement has improved and altered my mindset as well.
Do you know that consistency is the key to keep progressing in the race of life. I don’t believe that there is a set destination or success point for humans as we are capable of achieving and keep on achieving far beyond what we think we want to become. That’s why the basic question we ask children on what he/she would like to become in life seems to the dumbest question as this pushes them to achieve a profession or task that they desire, leaving behind other professions which also can be conquered. A doctor by profession, for instance, can be a dancer, singer, writer, artist or the like. Similarly, a home maker can be a vivid reader, a perfect organiser and an excellent cook. Nevertheless, there is no one point destination; instead let us thrive hard to show our excellence on various walks of life.
How is it possible to achieve this? Here comes the 15 minutes rule. A research on human excellence proves that spending 10,000 hours on a single skill can make you a pro. For example, a child who has completed 10,000 hours playing chess has high chances of becoming a Grandmaster. This 10k hours can begin with spending 15 minutes a day on each task. Consistency is the key to achieve what we desire. Somewhere in the internet I read that the gap between dream and reality is action. Every one has thousands of dreams. Don’t you? Every single mortal being desires to excel in life and have an identity for oneself. Narrow is the way that leads to the road of continuous success but every step you take after reaching the road is worth the crooked and rocky path you once travelled. Let us not just dream; but act vigorously to make it a proud reality.
In whatever field you yearn to excel, start it today by spending just 15 minutes on it with all your heart, mind and soul and just in a month or two, you couldn’t help but be mesmerised by how much you have achieved. Make sure to be regular; only then it becomes a habit to learn and practice.
A week back, I was fortunate to have some time for myself and I decided to have a look at our long lost garden. Firstly, I noticed a plethora of unwanted plants; also known as weeds have taken most of the garden space, thereby inhibiting the growth of our no-matter-what-I-will-grow rose plants. I had strength to pluck out few of them but many were so hard rooted that I was not able to remove them at all. Even a garden scissor couldn’t help me with this tedious task.
Reminiscing those tiresome task, I wonder how many weeds we have in our lives. By weeds, I mean the sins or a wrong attitude as simple as judging others or overusing gadgets instead of spending time with others; especially our Creator. These weeds do take deep roots in our lives if not properly removed at the due time. But in human terms, it is not quite easy to remove the specks from our life by ourselves unless we surrender our heart and life to Jesus. Only He can search our heart inside out, see our shortcomings and gently warn us of our misdoings. This is the stage when weeds are easy to pluck as its roots haven’t got deep into the soil. At times, our sins or bad deeds or character are so deeply rooted that we fail to analyse and rectify them even if God shows us the true colour. In order to get rid of these over grown weeds, HE uses sharp yet strong tools to remove them from the roots, just like His hard lessons that teach us to confess our sins.
Sprouting of weeds can’t be stopped unless we spray an anti-weedicide. As long as we live on earth, wrongful thoughts or attitudes can’t be avoided; but, regularly cleaning the garden bed aids in keeping the soil clean. Submitting ourselves to Jesus everyday and connecting with Him through bible reading and prayer helps in keeping our lives clean. Hence, instead of giving room to unnecessary weeds, we can sow good seeds (by implementing the word of God) which will yield a variety of fruits, flowers and vegetables for our healthy and happy living. It also attracts others to join us just like the bees and butterflies who come in search of colourful plants.