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Letting go

>> Friday, May 27, 2011




Last week I was reading the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. There is a story he has mentioned in it.

It is the story of two Zen monks Tanzan and Ekido, who were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came up on a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep ,it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side.
The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekiso couldn’t restrain himself any longer.
“Why did you carry that girl across the road? He asked.” We monks are not supposed to do things like that”
“I put the girl down hours ago” said Tanzan.” Are you still carrying her? “

Me too, have been nurturing the sores for too long. Never letting them heal. And I learned to get some painful pleasure out of them.
It is time to let them heal. Let them go for ever, if possible.

“The past lives in you as memories. But memories themselves are not a problem. It is from memories that we learn from the past and from past mistakes. It is only when memories, thoughts of the past, take you over completely that they turn in to a burden. Your personality which is conditioned by the past then becomes your prison.

We often say’ this too will pass’.  Everything will pass, whether they are good or bad. Like the bad times, the good times will pass too.

“Nothing ever happened in the past can prevent you from being present now. And if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?”.


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A tablet for death

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2011





From the time I entered the ward I could hear the cry. I had to pass through the front of his room and the nurses’ station to reach our meeting room. While passing, I had noticed the resident physician beside his bed.

We started our daily review of cases, and all through it, the cry was getting louder. His voice was rough because of his thyroid problem and sounded like a frog croaking. He was yelling also at the top of his throat, something which I could not decipher at the time.
I asked the doctor what was his problem.
And he said” Ah...nothing.. It is his usual tantrum ”


I knew this old man for some time. He was very old at about ninety years,  was unmarried and living with some of his relatives. There was no one to take care of him except a Bengali boy and the old man survived on his allowances from the government. He had a heart problem and thyroid disease and was  confined to bed.
I was not convinced of the explanation for his yelling. After the meeting, I went straight to his room. The Bengali was beside the bed and trying to console the old man. He was still crying at the top of his voice.


I asked him” Baba, tell me what is your problem”
He didn’t seem to listen and continued his tantrum, the cry now getting louder when he saw me.
I asked him again.
It was the same slogan, louder. I could make out” tablet for death”
“What is it that you want?”
“Give me tablet for death”
“OK, fine, I don’t have it with me, but tell me your problem”
“Tablet for death”


I was losing my patience. But I made a quick examination and found his abdomen was tender and he had a distended urinary bladder. Retaining urine, and not able to pass it, is probably the worst problem one can have .It is unbearably painful.
I gave instructions to pass a urinary catheter, and about 1.5 liters of urine came out.
I told him I would bring his tablets when I returned.
During the rounds I noticed that his cry was getting less aggressive and after some time,  faded and ceased.


While going to the outpatient clinic, I peeped in to see that he was sleeping comfortably.


The next day I saw him during morning rounds. He was lying comfortably and greeted me with a smile.
“I have brought your tablets” I said.
“What?” as if he was surprised.
“The tablets for death you asked yesterday, I brought them”
He grinned from ear to ear, and said
“Not now, I will let you know when”









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A twist to the tale

>> Thursday, May 19, 2011






I have some very religious colleagues, mostly nurses who often argue with me over religious matters whenever we find time to take coffee in the pantry. I tend to disagree with most of their ideas and sometimes make fun of them saying they are like the Thaliban, very stiff in their beliefs.

The other day we were discussing creation, I asked them. What if Eve had not eaten the apple? How could the silly serpent convince poor Eve to eat that lousy apple? They were happy enough, didn’t have an idea of what sin was, and then, why would she ever want to become like God?

“Oh, no, doctor, you are talking against the will of God.”
Here are these total innocents happily running around naked in the garden of Eden, tossing flowers at each other ,eating rose buds and then God says, "Don't eat that apple. You'll die!"
 But then the snake comes and says something different. This is exactly like a child asking his father, "Why can't I eat French fries and burgers for dinner?" and he says, "Because that stuff will kill you! Your grandpa dropped dead from eating junk food like that! Don’t you know many Indians die young eating all the lousy food? And didn’t you know that Clinton had a heart attack eating that stuff?”  And maybe this keeps the kid away from them for a while; he knows his father knows more than he does, so he must be right. But then he sees his Mommy eating that very same stuff. He says, "No, Mommy! Daddy says if you eat that, you die!" Mommy laughs. "No, burgers don't make you die, may be coconut oil" she says, knowing the child must have misinterpreted his father's statement but not really bothering to explain further. So the kid sneaks the French fries and burger later and he doesn't die.

Back from vacation, I was reading “Like the flowing river” by Paulo Coelho. There is another version of the story in the book.And probably a better reason for Eve to eat the apple.

Eve was walking in the garden of Eden when the serpent slithered over to her.
“Eat this apple, said the serpent.
Eve, who had been properly instructed by God, refused.
“Eat this apple, insisted the serpent. You need to look more beautiful for your man’
“No, I don’t, replied Eve. He has no other woman, but me”
The serpent laughed.
“Of course, he has’
And when Eve did not believe him, he led her up to a well on top of a hill.
“She is in that cave. Adam hid her there”

Eve leaned over and, reflected in the water of the well, she saw a lovely woman. She immediately ate the apple the serpent was holding out to her.


But what if Eve had refused the apple?





You have Adam and Eve and their offspring, all live forever because of the tree of life. We all would be running around naked, because we have no shame, sex obviously feels good, because that was the way it was designed, and so, we have lots of it. Also, we would be provided with all the food we need without having to work for it.  The animals would be vegetarian ("everything that has the breath of life in it -I give every green plant for food.").  There would be no reason to kill any animals, because you wouldn’t eat them or need their skin for clothing. No tsunamis, earth quakes, plague or swine flu to worry about. Women would deliver without pain. So,no hospital bills

 So, everyone having a good time, doing what feels good, plenty to eat without any effort, lots of milk and honey all the time,  friendly vegetarian animals to play with, peace and love are all you know…. that's how I think we  would be spending till eternity and …..mmm.. I could go for that.

But somehow, I feel, after some time, I would have got bored with that kind of life.

 I think that God knew that Eve would eat the apple, if he didn't want her to, why would he have ever put the tree there in the first place?


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How to name it ?

>> Wednesday, May 18, 2011




The morning sky was moody. Some days it appeared bright and colorful. On other days, gloomy and cloudy. From where I used to sit in the morning, I could see the sky till the end of Agasthya hills. When we were looking around to buy a house, I had chosen this place because of the view.









It was when I was enjoying the morning breeze that I casually looked up at the ceiling lamp. I don’t know why we had bought it, but it looks like one of those lamps you would see in a church. And then I saw the tail of a bird from the top of the lamp. It was not moving. I called my wife and started scolding her about how careless they were, in having not seen the dead bird lying on top of the lamp.
 My wife had a hearty laugh.
She said  “It is not dead. That is the nest of the bird and it is hatching the eggs”.
How could she be so sure?
“Oh, the bird was here few months back, and flew away with its children”.








Ah, so, that was it. It is a permanent residence of the bird! I was not surprised. We have three bed rooms in the house. My son uses one. The other one, supposed to be our bedroom, was full of clothes, and there was no place left on the bed. My wife was in the process of sorting them out. I had thought of the spare room, and then she told me of the cat which had delivered few days back under the bed. I was not supposed to disturb the cat, and so, I had to sleep on the floor ,on a mat. That was fine too, for a change. Though I put up an effort to fight against her love for animals, which is a bit on the higher side, I secretly admire her kindness. But  hadn’t I placed some restrictions, she would fill the house with stray dogs and cats.

I was curious. I brought a chair and was trying to get a glimpse. One click,  and the bird flew away. It is called “ Thoppi kkili” in our language, because it has something like a cap on its head. From then on, I used to watch its coming and going. At night time, it would come and settle down on the nest and won’t move till morning.


















When I came back from my trip to my hometown, I saw the bird coming home with with a large caterpillar bulging in its bill. Once it landed on the lamp, I saw two tiny sets of beaks opening wide for the feed. They had started moving around in the nest and were growing fast. From daylight to dusk, seldom does more than two minutes elapse between feedings. One day morning, I noticed that one of the babies  had fallen down, in to the dome of the lamp and was fluttering its wings. The mama bird flew in from nowhere, and was desperately looking for the missing one and finally found it. She flew frantically around the lamp and soon realized she was incapable of rescuing the baby bird. When she had gone away, I tried to reach the baby bird inside the dome, and the one sitting on top flew away !. It  landed on the floor of the car porch. Within seconds, the mama bird appeared and was furious at me and trying to attack me. The mama took her baby to a safe place on to one of the plants in the pot. I managed to get the other baby out of the dome and placed it safely on the nest.

I saw the father bird when I was looking for the kids. He was sitting silently at a distance on a tree top, keeping watch over the mother and kids. My wife told me he always sits outside, on the roof top or on an adjacent tree top, to watch over the mother and kids and to warn if enemies are around. The mother bird chirps all the while, and is musical. Although the male and female birds look alike, after watching them a while, I could tell them apart by their attitude. When feeding the young, the female goes straight to the nest. A few seconds before she arrives, the babies inside rev up the volume of their chattering. That tips me off to look up from my chair in time to see the mother  land at the top of the lamp and disappear inside the nest. As they grew, the nestlings made more and more noise. They started poking their white flanged bills out of the nest, opening them wide to receive whatever prey their mother would bring.




I saw them all on another day in our neighboring compound. On the wire fence by my neighbor's yard, teetered the two baby birds, their parents on either side. That house was safer, it was not occupied.

I don’t know how to name it. We say only human have intelligence. If it is so, I think love is beyond intelligence. With such tiny brains, they have marvelous instincts. The bird couple has been always together from the time my wife had seen them. At least, they have raised two sets of kids. I don’t know if they argue and fight, the way we do. About where to go for lunch and dinner, and where to make the home and settle down. But I have seen their mutual  commitment. Ornithologists believe that they have the same habits of love ,cheating and divorce,as we do.They have jealousy, and there are home wrecker females among them too.



Did they learn it from bird watchers?

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