10 December 2010

Freedom & Self Discovery


I've learnt that freedom is the space for self discovery... searching for the 'me' who is beneath all the conditioning I've lived with since birth... The road to self discovery is tough because I am confronted with opinions 'others' have about 'me' and the tendency is to believe them and not 'me'. I have learnt that it is important to overcome those obstacles such as 'what others think' and to allow myself the liberty to be 'me'. Though there is a price to pay for such freedom, (people misunderstand you and your intentions or see things their way) the final outcome is simply beautiful! The joy of reunion with 'self' cannot be expressed in words!!!

As I am learning to understand the meaning and essence of true freedom I am overwhelmed with admiration for the people from centuries before who fought in their time for the freedom that we take so much for granted... those who fought for the rights of slaves, the aboriginals, rights of women, children. The truth is that even today in some parts of the world there are those who live without the freedom we enjoy and the irony is... most people seem to be untouched by their plight in an age when everything is interconnected and one can communicate with the other end of the globe in split seconds!  

11 November 2010

The Little Girl and the Puzzle

I watched a little girl at play
Surrounded by her toys
Her hands engrossed with this and that
Her eyes danced with joy.

I watched mesmerized as she soaked
In colours, shapes, odd things...
And presently I found her gaze
Fall upon a puzzle game.

She picked it up and lay the pieces
All around the place.
And one by one she put them down
In their particular place.

I watched the pieces slowly grow
To become one big whole.
But lo! My girl was now perturbed
For some pieces could not be found.

She searched for them high and low
Turned everything upside down
But there was no finding them
They had just vanished in thin air.

My heart was torn as I heard her cry
She cried inconsolably.
“My puzzle... someone robbed those pieces!”
“I won’t be able to complete it!”

I tried to calm her down saying,
“Don’t worry I’ll get you another one.”
She said, “No! This was my puzzle...
I don’t want any other one!”

She cried herself to sleep that night
I hoped that she’d forget
The pain, the loss and missing pieces
And play some other game.

While I was musing over her loss
My mind threw me a stare
It smirked and asked me, “Don’t you know
The pain of missing pieces?”

I reeled from shock as the blow hit me
I realized with pain
My life too had missing pieces...
Someone robbed and took away!

I braced myself to hold back tears
For in vain I had tried and tried
To fill the gaps, the loss, the void
While my heart just bled and sighed.

My little girl, my prayer for you
Is that you would never know
The pain of missing pieces
In the lonely game called life.

21 October 2010

Have a Look at Yourself...


Friends I want to share a quote that has changed the way I see things...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 

Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. 

As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." 
~Marianne Williamson 

We all have potential deep inside us. Sometimes when life batters us and our spirits go down, we find it difficult to hold up to our dreams... And then there are times we do well in something and feel almost guilty for doing well. The truth is we need to let go of the pressures we put on ourselves and just do our best. If it is better than what others do... think of it as raising the mark. Don't make yourself small to accommodate mediocrity in others. Lift them and their standards up to another plane by being good and being the best you can be! 

I have learnt that each and every person I know and have come across so far... has some innate ability, some gift, some talent or skill in them. Sometimes they have been looking at others and their gifts so much that they didn't do anything about the gift they had! What a great loss, isn't it? For everything I can do well, I can also think of several things that I need to do better and I confess I am still a learner in some of them. But for those things I struggle with... I do know people who can do those things effortlessly!!! What a gift they have! What makes me sad is that they just don't seem to realize it... and they don't give it any importance at all. 

So take a good look at yourself... Appreciate the things that are good about you... be generous for a change! Give yourself the permission to be 'good' and start working at the things you can be 'better' in. Maybe there are people around you who make you feel miserable with their negative talk... maybe there were people who said you are good for nothing... Please remember that you can reject those statements. Please know that you have a right to protect yourself from such negative attacks on your person. Please care for yourself... Stand up for yourself... when you do so you will grow in confidence and be able to stand up for others too when they are in need of it. 

When we go through the storm and come out a stronger person... we become beacons of light to those who are struggling in similar situations themselves. Don't underestimate the value of your success. It is the light that inspires others to fight for victory in their own lives. No one can gain if you allow yourself to beaten and die in defeat... but everyone can gain if you fight your battles and come out a success!  

Friend, I believe in you! I believe that there is the seed of greatness sown inside of you. Won't you water it and bring out the best in you? Won't you shine your goodness and let it light up the lives of others too? 

So what are you waiting for? SHINE!!! 


20 October 2010

Success and the Teacher

When you look at the past what do you see? Do you see years of tiring service that were unrewarded; or being barely able to meet the needs of your family with an insufficient pay package while busily juggling classes, exams and corrections; or getting put down by the snobbish ‘success-stories’ from society while struggling to find reasons to continue teaching? Being a teacher is tough in a world that is wired to praise fame, money and ‘success-formulas to make it big’. Perhaps we need to look at success and define what this word means for teachers.

Can you imagine a world without teachers? If there were no teachers, no one would know anything more than what their parents taught them. We would go back to the stone ages because there wouldn’t be any ‘shared universal knowledge bank.’ Even if someone wrote books there would be very few people who would know to read anyway! Helen Caldicott said, "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth."

Someone rightly said, ‘Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions’. (Author Unknown) Teaching is laying down the foundation of society. What teachers give to their students is more than just knowledge, they teach them ways to think, understand, analyze and most importantly – a way to life. "Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well," said Aristotle.

Throughout the history of the world, there have been many upheavals, revolutions, achievements and also grave mistakes that caused mankind severe grief and loss. The teacher is the only link between those lessons and the current generation. If there were no teachers to interpret these lessons mankind learnt at such a high cost, we might be doomed to repeat the experiences of loss and we would have to keep trying to achieve what was already achieved in the past. Teachers make this world move forward. It is the teacher who inspires good values and makes human beings out of those who are mere flesh and blood.

Henry Brooks Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” If we want to know what the future holds for us, we only need to have a look at the quality of the teachers we have around us. Good teachers instil good values, efficiency and higher standards in their students that ultimately is aimed at the betterment of society. Tracy Kidder remarked, “Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom.  To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.” 

Passing on the baton of goodness and virtue in a world torn apart by broken relationships, social unrest and corruption is nothing short of a mammoth task. John Sculley opined, “We expect teachers to handle teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and the failings of the family. Then we expect them to educate our children.” Teaching takes a lot out of the teacher. “In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years,” said Jacques Barzun. Therefore it is true that, “A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.” (Author Unknown)    

If you are a teacher, don’t look down on your role in society. You are of much greater value to the children you teach than you will ever know. A lot of children today live in families where their parents have no time for them. They spend their day in the company of a mindless television set, a servant or an empty house. There are others who have seen or experienced terrible things within their homes or in their vicinity. When their own family and loved ones let them down, it is the affection of a caring teacher that helps them get by through those traumatic years spent at home. One would not be overstating to say that a good teacher saves a child’s faith in humanity and helps them see that humans can be good even when their own life-experience has shown them otherwise.

A teacher is a beacon of light, lighting up and leading the way to a wholesome and fulfilling life. A teacher raises hope in a child that helps him to find the zeal and enthusiasm required to go through with the tough journey of life and come out successfully. Without the inspiration and support of a teacher, a child cannot make it through the maze of life. “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth,"” said Dan Rather.

Of the many children you teach, there will be many who will move on with life without sharing about what you have done for them. Just like the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus and only one returned to thank Him, there will be only a few who realize the important role you have played in their life. Yet we need to understand that those few are spokespersons for all the others who wouldn’t know how to express a word of gratitude for your contribution to their lives. Carl Jung said, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” 

It is important to understand that there are many kinds of teachers. William Arthur Ward explains, “The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.” However, a teacher who goes beyond the call of duty and speaks value and worth into the lives of her students is a ‘great teacher’ who inspires. It is for this very reason that Karl Menninger said, “What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”

As teachers let us take ourselves seriously, let us sow and cultivate within our hearts the inspiration to achieve the highest goals and purposes in our lives and the lives of the students we teach. Our students are with us only for a set time, let us make optimum use of this time, to build them, to entrust them with knowledge and skills and whenever needed to reassure them about their own goodness and the goodness of human kind. 

A successful teacher is first a good human being who has a heart that warms up to the needs of her students, she teaches her students not just subjects but also about life; she entrusts her students with skills and abilities to make it through the difficult path of life and come out of it successfully. She juggles the roles of a teacher, mother-figure and friend to perfection while earning the respect of her students. Ultimately a successful teacher is one whose students find inspiration and success because they were taught by her words and her example.  


12 October 2010

Selah!

Selah! Pause and think of that...

I struggled with the pause...
Didn’t know what to do
I fiddled with my fingers
Looked up at the ceiling...
Looked outside to see if I would venture out
But the mood just didn’t set in
I wondered what was wrong with me
Felt so odd, so.... lost.

We were in a conversation
Words dancing to a rhythm
When suddenly a speed breaker came
And threw me off balance!
I fell flat on the ground...
Hands, legs... splattered everywhere
Oh! What on earth is happening?
I screamed to no avail
The pause had struck
The devastation begun...

I sat down a while
Silently breathing
While my mind calmed down
Took a note of what I was feeling
Hey where are you my friend?
I called out
But there was only silence
I called and called
Till my voice wore out
And wearing out became still.

I looked into the mirror
The image mocked at me
She said, ‘You silly goose!
You have time for everyone but me!’
Ah there! It suddenly hit me
I had just not understood
My friend needed a break too
To meet himself alone
Just as my ‘self’ was craving                             
To meet with me alone.

Selah... now I understand
Pause and think of that! 

08 October 2010

A Roller Coaster Ride

A roller coaster ride
Emotions taking charge 
Going places 
Dragging me along unchartered waters
Oh! It is exhausting... 
To say the least. 

Dreams I had dreamed
Put away in cold storage
Even learnt to ignore
Pretending it was okay to let go
Suddenly wake up
I see them staring me in the face
I break into a run
Scared to look them in the eye
Scared because last time 
I had got badly bruised
I cannot afford to let that happen
My mind screams within me. 

Help! Help! Someone help... 
My voice returns to me in the void
Grow up girl, my mind tells me
Yesterday is gone and over with
Let bygones be bygones
The past doesn't belong here
But you... you do
What about those dreams? I ask
Hmmm... what about them? 
Why are you afraid?
What have you to lose but your fear? 

The Search for a Stranger

Years have gone by...
There is someone I am dying to meet
Someone I used to know so well
Almost like my own self
I venture out on a journey to find her
Knowing that this time too
The pain will be unbearable. 

Yes, I have done this before
And had to come back unsuccessful
The weight of carrying this load
Almost broke me down several times
Feeling vary about the whole exercise
I had given up.

I try to search for her
I try to pick up the pieces
Some strands here
Some mangled shards lying there
A mosaic they make
Glistening in the sun
Beckoning to me, ‘Come!’
I pull back feeling shy
Then a song, a film, a memory
In a flash something comes back
I flow in the wave of that emotion for a while
Till hard reality hits me again.

I tire easily
This is heart wrenching
I feel like giving up
But my soul doesn’t let me  
Because this person I’m looking for
Is far too precious to me.

Perhaps it is a jigsaw puzzle
I need to solve to retain my sanity
A crazy storm rages inside me
I lie down exhausted
While my eyelids droop down
A visual flashes inside my eyes...
She was singing in the rain
She was up on the terrace
Talking to the sun and the wind
She loved the sea
She loved the mountains, their breeze
She longed for life...

I freeze
Tears flowing down
As I see images of the dreams she had
Her yearnings still move me
Her groanings still echo inside my mind
I look up at the endless sky
Pleading for mercy
Pleading for her sake and mine
Crushed and mangled somewhere within
Are dreams she dare not bring up
Dreams that gave her meaning to live
Dreams that made her sacrifice everything she was
Everything she had and hoped to be.

I stand between two time frames
The years when her dreams were alive
Then a long excruciating pause
A numbness that feels endless
Followed by a journey
A getting out of that insane hole
It took years for the wounds to heal
A prisoner of circumstances
It took years to breathe free again.

I need to go back through time
To find her who used to smell the roses...
If only there was another way!
You may wonder why all this effort
You may say why bother about a stranger
Well don’t you see?
She was me.

She was me
Years before the vagaries of life
Crushed my heart and my dreams
She is that me
Whose only possession
Was her dreams
Her little joys and trivial imaginations.

I find her and embrace her
We dance together in joy
The beauty of life returning to me
Songs and feelings begin to fill my heart
A parched land sings after blessings of rain!
 I reminisce those bygone years
And wonder
“Can I dream again?”

22 September 2010

Battered

It was not my fault
I was battered.
Unsuspecting I lay
At that spot
Trusting to be cared for
Yearning for things
I was only deprived of.

Born to be cherished
Sought to be loved
Yet a little infant
Was given nothing but pain.
Lying helpless in the hands
Of the rejecter
Torn, twisted and mauled in spirit
Beyond recognition
Beyond help...

Years made it worse
The beaten are not spared
By those who have seen good times.
They speculate
They analyse
They judge
If this had to happen to you
You must have done something
To deserve it.
They speak words that maim.

Comforters are none
Finger pointers
Overwhelmingly many.
How can a victim survive
If no one rescues?
How can one who only suffered
Make it through life?
Tattered in mind, spirit and soul
Who would make them whole?

I lay motionless and numb
Pain engraved inside my psyche
Almost soaked with grief
Almost dead
No one came
No one missed me
Because I wasn’t home
From the beginning.
In a world full of noise
Who misses a silent pause?

Then the miracle happened
A hand from outside this realm
Reached out and touched me
And oh the joy of being touched!
I looked around and saw no one.
No one was visible.
We played peek-a-boo
Then I slowly learnt
About my mysterious friend.

Shrouded in an invisible garb
He spoke words that
Brought me back to life.
I didn’t complain about
What He was or wasn’t
Because His words...
They were life itself to me
They brought strength and form
Into this formless mass called me.

As healing returned
I ventured back
Into the world that didn’t want me.
They put numerous tags on me
They made me the butt of jokes
I felt like a specimen
I felt like a worm
I felt I was battered
Over and over again.
But this time it was different
He was standing with me.

His love filled me so...
The taunts and stares
Didn’t dent my spirit
I grew in great measure
I thrived on His love.
I found the treasure, the fountain
Of everlasting life and love.
Now no one can touch me
No one can violate me
He stands guard over me
My heart and my life.

I am in love with my Protector
In a way no one understands
Well no one notices a speck
But when someone does
That speck becomes a person!
I’ve met messengers
Who say they speak for Him
But they hardly do justice to Him
For I know His touch
I know His voice
I know Him very well.

I still face the stares and the glares
I still get taunted for all I went through.
But with Him talking
And walking beside me
I know I can make it
The rest of the way.
And now when the judgers start talking
It doesn’t hurt me anymore
Cause I know the One  
Who really matters.




11 September 2010

Say No to Hate

This song was written by me after 9/11. If everyone in the world said 'No' to hate... the world will surely change for the better.

Though it was written in 2001 now even in the year 2015, it is just as relevant. Hate has raised its ugly head and claimed many more lives all over the world. 

Here are the lyrics of my song 'Say No to Hate' 

SAY NO TO HATE.


1.      Where is the heart that hurts when others cry
Look around and see and try to understand why
Do you believe that pain can solve anything
Do you think that hate can bring peace in the world
Who is the enemy we're fighting you must understand….

Chorus:
Across the earth, the countries, the people of this world
We all feel pain, it hurts us when we lose someone dear
Don't let them win this war, they're waging against us
We must unite and love the people of this world

2.      Wake those who're sleeping tell them about it
Tell them you care for them… they shouldn't doubt it
Take all the power you have into your hands
Build up and strengthen, join hands… across the land.

3.      Say no to prejudice say no to violence
Say no to racism seeds of hate inside us
Say no to those who spread terror in this world
Show them we care we stand with those who are hurt
  
4.      Stand up my brother, my sister, every child raise your hand
You can make a difference, don't fear, you can take a stand
Let it be known our destiny lies in our hands
We are the people it is we who rule the world.



18 August 2010

When Jesus is the standard

When Jesus is the standard
We have no right to throw our weight around
We have every reason to keep our feet upon the ground.

When Jesus is the standard
The definition of greatness totally changes
The meaning of service has several ranges.

When Jesus is the standard
The heart is mightier than the head
New life is possible through the dead.

When Jesus is the standard
All superficiality fades away
The darkness flees bringing a bright new day.

When Jesus is the standard
Nothing is impossible anymore
We can keep charging to the fore.

When Jesus is the standard
The ‘self’ will have to submit
The Father’s will is the ultimate summit.

When Jesus is the standard
Your heart and conscience will be one
Following God’s only Son!

~ Henrietta Decruz 

06 August 2010

Empty Lives...

I woke up to this realization just some days ago. Have you realized that most of our meeting with people these days is online, over the phone or through emails? When I think about the time I am ‘really meeting someone’ it boils down to meeting my cousin who is sweet enough to make it a point to meet me. I felt uncomfortable that my memories of actual life experiences filled with happy moments and exciting things shared with others are very few and far in between. Most of them go back to school or college days. There are a few laced here and there of memories with colleagues I loved working with... But then they seem to stop there.

What am I trying to say? I guess it boils down to this... We are a generation who has just stopped living the way I guess people lived a century ago. Now we ‘connect’ but don’t spend time together. Now we chat but don’t share our heart with each other... We remember our favourite scenes from movies better than we remember times with our friends. Chances are we have watched those movies several times but haven’t spoken to our friends that often.

I can go to the extent of saying ‘a book is my best friend’ because I spend time with it and give it all my attention while reading cover to cover. But can we say the same about the time and attention we give to our friends?

I feel sad that as human beings who cannot live alone... Remember - ‘No man is an island’... we seem to be entering a fast lane where we land up alone with a routine that is filled chock-a-block with time consuming, patience eating things-to-do that leave us with not even a stray chance of actually spending meaningful time with someone else. It is no one that no one feels for anyone else’s pain any more... It is no wonder that relationships are breaking left-right and centre!

I guess that bring me to the conclusion that the people who write books, songs and those who make movies are the ones who are creating memories for us these days. I wonder if they know it! God help us if they fill crap into them and we lap it all up! We would end up becoming a junkyard!!! How terrible!

I guess that is all the more reason we should be careful about what we read, listen and watch... they leave a big imprint on our lives. There are so many carbon copies of ‘heroes’ and ‘idols’ around, it feels sick sometimes. I wonder what happened to the good old original ‘me’. Looks like nobody wants that anymore... except some people like me. Everyone wants to model themselves on this or that successful or famous person so much that they are not themselves anymore!

When I go to buy clothes I have to search and search for something that is not the trend! I just don’t want to be one of the numerous copycats of the latest trend. I want to be ‘me’. Same with music and movies... I like to check out what it is about before I decide whether it is worth hearing or watching. Guess this world has become one big assembly line factory set up. You make one famous guy wear this and then it becomes a rage... every tom dick and harry wants to wear it afterwards.

Where was I? At relationships... yes. How many conversations have you had with anyone that went beyond ‘Hi! How are you?’ ‘the weather’, ‘the latest buzz’ or something mundane? It is so dehumanizing... Nobody really wants to know if you have something to share. Nobody has time to care for anyone else but themselves. Sad. It is no wonder our generation has the most number of people who are lonely, depressed and feeling suicidal. And when they do want to talk who do they have to go to? Counsellors who have to be paid so they listen to you. Worse still they get judged for just venting out sometimes.

It sounds too simple to be true... but the answer lies in the simple old way of living. Spending meaningful heart time with your family and friends... making memories, making mistakes and learning from them, laughing together, laughing at ourselves... checking out an old hobby, going after that silly sounding dream... After all these are things that make us human... these are things that keep our hearts alive.

I’ve decided I’m going all out to live like never before. What about you?

12 July 2010

The Lord Kept Working...

He never slumbers
He never sleeps
He is always working
Behind the scenes.

The silent worker
The tireless worker
Who always gets blamed
For His works are not seen.

So often we've complained
Grumbled and cribbed
Called Him many names
A sad picture framed...

But He is so faithful
This amazing God
He still keeps on working
To improve our lot.

He's sad when we're broken
He cries when we fail
He knows what we're made of
He knows we are frail.

So He never judges
The angry words we say
He looks even deeper
Into a heart in dismay.

He cuddles and comforts
He caresses and soothes
On nights when the stars hide
He turns on His light.

He has no need to help us
He doesn't need to care
But He's a God who loves us
And He keeps working anyway.

- Henrietta Decruz

01 April 2010

The Right to Education Act and disabled children

The Right to Education Act coming into force is a laudable. It is truly historic in nature since it makes education a constitutional right, thus making it available for children across India. It would be even more worthy of appreciation if the HRD ministry will also throw some light on how it proposes to ensure that all the children who are blind, deaf, physically and mentally challenged among others will be brought to benefit from this historic bill.

Children with disabilities need special education that is particularly suited to their needs. While there are organizations doing good work in some cities and parts of India, it is still a distant dream for every disabled child to be able to find a suitable education centre and proper trained teachers who can teach them. There is a need for special education schools in every city and town that teach blind students in Braille, deaf students in Sign Language and the like. 

It would truly be a historic day when every disabled citizen of India will be able to say that their needs have been suitably met by their nation. I hope that the disabled children will not be forgotten by the country’s leaders when they plan the blueprint of how to bring the RTE Act into implementation.

I am sure that it will take much more than good intentions to bring this about. It would mean that the Government will have to ensure that the necessary funds are set aside and used to set up such special education centers in every state, city and town. It is also important to build up the necessary resources for special education and put proper Government certified teacher’s training programmes for those who teach the deaf, the blind and so on.

The 2001 Census states that the disabled population of India amounts to 1,261,722. We can be sure that the figure is much greater than that now. It would be commendable if the Government of India truly followed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in letter and spirit and made provision to ensure the future of the disabled in India is also made secure.

05 February 2010

Time to take stock of the harm done

It is time we Indians took stock of all the harm that divisive issues like the Telangana issue has caused us. When it comes to loss of public and private property and the loss of working hours the amount would easily be over several hundreds of crores. Then again what about the loss of the faith of the common man in democracy, in the instruments of governance when no one puts an end to the mindless violence, losses, frequent bandhs and rising prices due to shortages caused by such bandhs? What about the lives and the future of the students who were dragged into this issue and are going suffer as a result of it? Who is to compensate for all these things and for the loss of India’s reputation internationally due to ever increasing events that paralyze normal life?

Moreover, the government at the centre would do well to understand that once it concedes to such demands it is only giving the go-ahead for many more divisive agitations to use the destructive path to get their demands met. Would it not have been better if they had instead sought to get the government to develop their region using peaceful means? Imagine the hundreds of crores that was lost or wasted in the violence generated by this issue, if it were used to develop the Telangana region we could have changed the face of that place. We need to get over the narrow minded view that only people from a certain place can develop their own ‘land’ or ‘region’, instead we need to have the heart to ensure that every nook and corner of our country is developed because we love our country. When all of us decide to become true citizens of India, issues like Telangana that ask for the breaking up of our country will become a thing of the past.

It is time that those who caused the damage are made to pay up so that it would deter those who want to pursue that path. By doing this the law makers and the judiciary can ensure that such malignant movements don’t kill the future of our country.