“If you are thirsty, there is only one thing to do, to drink water, this path is that water.”, said the man stubbornly.
“Surely you are right. If one is thirsty, one must drink water, but this water can be drunk in so many ways. Water can be sipped from a crystal jar, from an earthen mug, from a waterfall, a stream, a river. It can be transformed from the ocean, melted from ice and it can flow from the tap.
It matters not how we reach this water, in our own way.
She arrives just in time to save me from a ferocious wild dog on my lone trek and seeing I am shaken, she offers me tea.
I accept and she leads me through a low labyrinth of trees, working their way to her house. She steps in and commands her husband seated quietly in a corner,
“Go Make her some tea!”
He looks reluctant and his reluctance arrives in heap fulls of sugar in my syrupy black tea.
I realise the only word we have in common is “chai” (tea) and we don’t speak the same language.
She asks about my life or I think this is what she asks me and I tell her for ten or fifteen long minutes.
She nods patiently, endearingly and at the end of it laughs uproariously and says she hasn’t understood a word.
I catch one word “thumbi” and say yes I have a brother. I point to the image of Mother Mary in her room and say that I love her too.
She understands this and squeezes my hand affectionately.
Then she gives me fruits from her garden for my walk ahead and a flower for my hair.
She has only one request in return, that I take a picture of her horse before I leave,
her most prized possession.
The Rain walked upto me, marching with her wet, cold feet and asked if I want to know her secret.
“Yes”, I cried in surprise and lent my ear to her watery breath and eager moistened lips.
The wind leaned in for he was just as curious as I.
She said, ‘Listen, Rain and tears work the same way.
One clears the heaviness of the sky and the other clears the heaviness of the heart. Every once in a while, they must clear.
The sky isn’t ashamed of its yearly storm, its unrestrained lightening, thundering wails and I, pour and pour. You are also children of the Earth,
And have no reason to be ashamed for when your eyes fill with tears of sadness and pain, from the storms of your heart.
The rain walks the earth and perfumed wildflowers grow, waterfalls flow.
The sky cries and you quench your thirst.
Your heart too grows wildflowers of every colour and resplendent waterfalls flow from the cracks, if you allow tears to empty the sky of your heart.
There is no shame, only beauty.”
And then the Rain walked away and left me and the wind, with her secret and a curtsey to her friend, the rainbow.
A nice likeable fellow, with clothes made of light.
We are sitting around a table.
A man is convinced he has found the philosophy which is the elixir to life.
He may be right, for the idea he speaks of is a beautiful one, but then he insists it isn’t just an idea, it is the idea.
The only one.
There is only one right philosophy and he knows it.
A palpable tension begins to travel around the table. A few people shift uncomfortably in their seats.
He asks, “What do you do when you are thirsty?”
Someone answers, “You drink water.”
“Yes there is only one thing to do when you are thirsty. This philosophy is that water,” he says.
I want to join the uneasy silence, but I can’t help but disrupt it with a thought that is burning within me, “Yes, when you are thirsty, you must drink water, but water can be drunk in many ways, from a waterfall, a river, a crystal jar, an earthen pot, a glass cup, water harvested from the rain, water transformed from the sea, water from melted snow, water from a tap, a stream and a well. It seems there are many ways to drink the same water and quench one’s thirst. Aren’t there?”
We dance to play music with our bodies,
We dance to feel the freedom we know is rightfully ours.
We dance to surrender wounds to the strumming of guitar.
We dance to hear the song within ourselves.
We dance to give movement to the love we feel.
We dance because the earth is always singing.
For years every morning he swam back and forth across the grand river, only for the pleasure of it.
And the waters contoured his face just a little differently, like it did with rock over a million years. A curve so minute that only a man with the eyes of a falcon, could ever tell the difference.
Wildflowers grew in his hair from lying down too long under sun-splintered skies and every time he felt great love for the earth, they grew just a little more, until he carried on his head, a perpetual, interwreathed forest of wildflowers.
The children came running unto Burbo just to get a whiff of the summer meadows, even in the coldest winter.
Burbo had never noticed that he was a man unlike any other, for he thought that every man was a man unlike any other.
Until one day, Burbo’s curious feet carried him to a town, where all men were alike. They paused, until all at once they burst aloud into great laughter. Burbo wondered for the very first time, why his head carried wildflowers instead of plain good old hair.
Burbo cut his hair, the one with sun-splintered skies, rivers and wildflowers.
He sold his wildflowers for all of twenty pounds and bought a new suit with it.
Burbo donned a suit and all the men stopped laughing.
by Shenaz Wahid
Unfurling a child’s imagination, inspired by this wonderful illustration.
Devika : ” An old adage goes, ‘The good little plant can be straigthened. It can change in its youth, to grow upright, but once it grows up to be a bent tree, it cannot change.’
It will always remain the same old, bent tree.
Once it has grown and been moulded, it’s impossible for it to ever change.”
Malleka : “It is true that the bent tree cannot be a little plant again, but with the seasons that always change, it too can change. It can shed its rotten branches, the ones that do it no good. It’s a choice the bent tree has to make.
It will be nourished by the same soil and the sun that will share its light, regardless of how bent and twisted the mighty tree has grown to be. Come rain and spring, it will grow new leaves. Spring will magically return the clothes autumn had taken.
It can still blossom, to give flowers and fruit. If nothing else, it will always be able to give its cool shade, to a tired traveller.
No the mighty bent tree, won’t straighten its trunk and twisted branches, but that’s how it paints the sky with its unique beauty. That’s what makes children climb and sit in its majestically twined branches. The perfectly straight coconut tree can only be climbed by the coconut vendor.
While the forest is full of straight and tall, upright pine trees, the forest is also full of bent trees.
And the imperfect, bent tree always has a choice.”
A true conversation that unfolded.
by SHENAZ WAHID
India, You will meet her, not in newspapers nor in a movie, not an idea or fantasy, not in her texts nor what the journalist, moviemaker nor prejudice says, not in fables or documentaries.
You will meet her on the open road, where magic, beauty and dust from the earth, whirl up to collide. You will meet her in conversation with her people.
You won’t find her solely in her famous crowded cities, nor in the disparity of poverty and wealth upon her land, nor in the strange blend of ignorance and knowledge.
You will meet her in the fiery strength that hides in the weakness. In an unknown face that walks in an unknown village in a staggering mountain, deep in the desert wind, by her verdant forest, gushing rivers and her endless ways.
You will meet her if you forget everything you’ve been told she is.
You will meet her when you embrace her with your heart
To only accept that which is born of love and that which is loving,
is a way to honor yourself.
A well must be full to be able to give of its water,
How can you give water or love if you don’t have its source within you?
and while the well within is always full,
it is quite the journey to recognize that it is.
I step away firmly from that which is not born of love, and accept only that which is,
and in this way, I silently honor my soul.
Authenticity and Aloneness are intertwined, one often born from the other.
By being what no one has been before : You.
Being authentic sometimes means being alone, growing up as the kid who never quite fit in, as the adolescent who didn’t always have the right words to say.
It means being a lost adult, giving yourself a chance to be found.
And when you do find it, YOU and walk along your path, at first you see you are alone, walking as everyone is in large groups to different places together,
But slowly and surely, they emerge from the shadows, those glorious beings who were searching themselves too while you were,
And together they share magnificent mysteries, known only to them.