When our three-year old son Karthik, witnessed the passing away of his dear grandfather last week, he had several questions like any toddler would have. He knew that Jonathan thatha (his paternal grandfather) was no more and that he has gone forever. For a child to understand “gone forever” is both beautiful and important. Important because he would not live with the expectation of seeing his thatha tomorrow and beautiful because he hides wonderful memories in his little heart and he remembers the lessons that thatha had taught him in his sharp mind.
When Karthik saw his thatha lying peacefully in a cold freezer box, he asked us how thatha could go to God if we put him in a box. He was upset that we did not open the box to let him go. His question may be innocent but it helped me reflect on a very important issue in life. Sometimes, we find it hard to let go of our anger and hatred and we let our hearts turn icy and cold but we try to convince ourselves that we are free souls. But, how can we be liberated if we do not let go of feelings that hold us back from being peaceful? I am grateful that my son taught me this very important lesson on one of the saddest days of my life.
Later, when the wooden coffin arrived, he said, “Look, the boat has come to take thatha to God“. To me, this is one of the most beautiful imagery about passing on. We sail across the mysterious ocean of life and we move on to the ocean of eternal life. We don’t know if the winds are going to be rough or smooth but what we know is that we all travel through the waters of life and love.
Today is Children’s Day in India. We all are aware of the amazing grace children have. They are blessed with unconditional grace to laugh open-heartedly, cry and scream with a passion, run fearlessly, pray with sincerity and love with a pure heart. Children have hearts that speak the truth and minds that follow their heart. They are already born with a mind to think which some people fail to understand. As Khaled Hosseini said, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors”. As adults, our responsibility is to teach them to think, to question and to say no to people who hurt them. Sometimes, we overwhelm our children with excess love that we hold them back from reality.
I could write pages about how to love a child. I could also write pages about how people hurt children. According to the World Health Organization report on child abuse, approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused. A recent research in India has shown that as many as 53 per cent, or one in every two children, are victims of child sexual abuse. Sadly, many children are scarred for lives because of adults who strip their respect, dignity and their joy of life. In addition to educating children and encouraging them to be brave enough to say No to abuse, we need to be sensitive, vigilant and attentive to their little whispers of pain and signs of abuse.
When I asked Karthik (our three year old son), what love is, he once said that “love is like coffee…because you love coffee and you love me”. A child is born with enough love to teach us to love. And love for them is not about the most expensive toy you can buy but it is about teaching them to love life and to care for others. Let us love to love and be strong advocates for children’s rights. It is not only children that need to learn about their rights but adults who need to know that children are neither sex toys nor toy soldiers. They are born to live!
Memories are sometimes the closest relationship we have ever had! They can bring smiles and warm our hearts and at the same time tear us apart. Past relationships swell up in the form of memories, some of which are hard to let go. Sometimes, it is the worst memories that grow on us and the pleasant ones slip away like fine sand through our fingers. A relation may end in good or bad terms but the memories linger on. Some of us try to paddle away from memories that hold us back from moving on but the harder we try, the faster they float back. And some other times, some good memories are like wine…maturing into something more crimson and bitter-sweet.
There are are many things that rekindle our memories: an anecdote, a nostalgic perfume, a torn picture, a movie, the lake front you shared a couple of beers with a friend, a hearty laughter that reminds you of your grandfather, a warm hug on a cold day from a distant friend, the song of your first dance and conversations that never ended. Friends and dear ones that leave us, never leave completely. They leave behind a piece of themselves and a piece of us. It is not possible to get over relationships or memories, because they were real at some point. But, it is important to let go of memories that hold us back from being ourselves and treasure the memories that make us smile.
Here is to memories…good and bad…memories that hold us together with friends from the past…memories that bring a smile to our heart!
Today is Ascension Thursday and it is a public holiday in Geneva. The Feast of the Ascension, is a day that commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. I also read that it is the 40th day after Easter Sunday.
We spent our Ascension holiday by the lake from 10.00 am with under blue skies, cumulonimbus clouds, dark blue waters, beautiful view of the magnificent Mont Blanc and three ducks wanting our food. Being there, experiencing the beauty of nature by just lying in the grass and soaking up the sun makes it a very special experience! Hope you had a blessed Ascension Day!
Grandfathers are beautiful. They have unconditional love for their grandchildren that is hard to explain. Some love them for what they are and some try to mould their grandchildren into how they’d like them to be. My grandfather Mr. Paul Vincent was of the first kind. He was proud of my achievements (yes, he thought I was awesome), my personality (he admired my confidence, my heart, my friendship), my taste in clothes and above all he loved me for what I was.
April 11 was a very hard day to go through. First, I denied the fact the my grandfather could not be in my life anymore. Then, as it slowly crept in, it started hurting. Then hurt led to a feeling of emptiness that goes past all human understanding. Time will heal the pain but will not take away this void he has left behind. Walking alone, reminiscing the great times we have had with him brings tears of sadness and joy. Sad, because we have not lost a grandfather but a friend. Joy, for all the vibrant memories. We were fortunate to have spent quality time with him through the years and he has been a true friend. An open-minded, honest, happy, straightforward, witty, punctual, well-informed, affectionate, caring grandfather was he!
Life is difficult to understand and the thought that he suffers no more brings comfort to a healing heart. And, there are plenty of reasons that make me smile as I think of the most happiest person I have known!
Grateful to his life, our memories and to everyone’s love and prayers!
May he rest in peace 🙂
Like most people, I get angry when I hear about violence that is striking down the world. Each day we read stories of rape and violence against children and women and it makes me boil with anger. I get angry when things go wrong in my life and when my bubbles of joy are burst by a person I love. And, amongst these situations, I try to put a smile on my face. My friends always wonder how Daphne is always cheerful, even on a rainy day! Off course they know my life is not a bed of roses and that I experience problems and situations that most people do. Yet I tend to smile and leave my worries behind. There is a reason for my smile.
I was a teenager who lived in my own world filled with rainbows and candies. I was grumpy and rebellious at home and did not really know or care about sharing happiness. At the age of 18, I visited an NGO that worked with women and children. I was studying Communications and was writing a story about the lives and struggles of these women. I met a young girl around my age who had been raped by her step father many times. She was there weaving baskets and living one day at a time. I told her ingenuously that I was sorry for not knowing what I could say to make her feel better. She looked at me and said, “A smile is what I need”. This certainly was not an answer I expected from her. Later she shared about how people look at her with sympathy and sadness but never smiled with her. She is a person filled with hope and optimism. That is where I got my smile from!
All of us face times when we wonder if we will ever laugh again. I know these moments and wondered where laughter has gone only to discover that it hides within us. It invites us to rush to life’s game again and share it with others. We may not know who needs it but it never goes wasted.
Spread your smile and see the difference it can make! Remember, there is never a reason to smile.