Friday, May 31, 2013

The Killing Thing

“It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing."

John Green wrote that in his book, The Fault in Our Stars. He was talking about smoking. In the story Augustus Waters always carried a pack with him, and has a cigarette between his teeth. He never lights it though.

Looking beyond a mere cigarette, words, weapons, love, hate, they all kill. Yet, its up to us to either give it the power to kill us. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sudoku; what I've learned

I've always loved playing sudoku. A least since I took up playing it on the daily paper. I never went beyond the puzzle printed on paper, somehow solving a puzzle on my phone, computer or iPad seemed impossible. Then sudoku found a cozy spot with my other apps, mostly games I don't even play. And now I'm hooked on the game and love filling box after tiny box with numbers.

Sudoku is more than just a game though. It has taught me many things.

Patience. Don't lose your cool. The minutes may pass, but a puzzle deserves all of our time. Don't try to rush through a puzzle and make many mistakes. Patience will make you complete it.

Think ahead, but not too ahead. Sudoku makes you think ahead, "if three comes here, then nine goes there, two may go here and if so six can't get there," and so on me little voice in your head will go. Yet, with all the planning, you'll forget that first step and have to go through it all over again. So think ahead, but not too ahead.

Risks. Sometimes you just have to take a risk with a number. Some sudoku apps tell you when a number is wrong. If you have this option, and the puzzle seems to be going no where, take a deep breathe and enter the number that may or may not be right into the right box. Life too gives you these choices, a this or that moment. You take a risk when you make a choice, and sometimes you may regret it. But all that matters is that you tried.

Note taking. If you want to play it safe, take down notes, work the numbers out based on an assumption. But remember, you can't always do so. Sometimes the notes are overwhelming, and may make you see what is actually not there, or can't be there. You may get lost in the notes and forget the game.

Take a break. Sudoku is exhausting. And if you are tired, your puzzle will go no where. So take a break, go for a walk maybe, and get back to the game. You'll see things you didn't see before. Life too is overwhelming, exhausting. Clear your mind, take a break and get back in the game with a French and uncluttered mind.

The numbers will all fit. Unless you make a mistake, which you can avoid, and should. If you do everything right but the puzzle can't be solved, it could be that the puzzle is wrong. The puzzle maker made a mistake. Life is such, things work out and if they don't, then sometimes you aren't to blame. And you may spend hours and hours worrying and thinking and yet, the numbers don't complete the puzzle. Sometimes, no matter what you do or say, things don't work out. Some puzzles are meant to be abandoned.

Friendship. Sudoku may seem like something you have to do alone. But it's a game two people can play together. And while your minds think about the same numbers, and stare at the same puzzle looking for a solution, you realize that even with things that you think you must do alone, well, there's always room for another.

Mistakes. Make them. People may keep track of them, but that's how you learn. Did you carelessly put a number where it wasn't supposed to be? Well, next time you won't make that same mistake. But don't be scared of them. Don't try to perfect your every move.

Competition. Don't try to beat someone else' high score. Don't try to prove you are better than someone else. Don't make it your goal to finish the puzzle as soon as you can. It's a game, play it, enjoy it. Have fun figuring the 1-9 boxes. Don't make a competition out of everything. There are no winners, or loses.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

palm to palm :)

Sometimes... like now... I just need a break from everything. From people, from life. People ask me why I go to work five days a week, Amma always tells me to take Monday off. But I go. Sometimes all I do is what I can do from home. Sometimes I spend the day playing Sudoku, or Wordament or Spider Solitaire! But I travel for 1 ½ hours to get there, and I spent the same time getting back, because it’s an escape. From all the drama that is too overwhelming sometimes.

Following a conversation about life, I gave it all some thought. And realized that I have so many memories that I have hidden away. That I have bottled up and never told anyone. I don’t know if I ever will tell them to anyone, listening ears are hard to find these days. And sometimes silence says much more than words could. Sometimes a smile can actually make everything better.

Then there are all those things that you only know if you read between the lines. But I don’t do that. I take what is told or done just as it is. Compliments, insults, just as they are. Don’t put up statuses that may or may not talk about us, because I wouldn’t really get them. Don’t say things like, “some people are like that…” I wouldn’t even think you were talking about me. Just say things to my face. This came up when I was talking to a friend. I told him how I hate it when guys beat around the bush when asking a girl out. Then I realized that I hate it in general. Life is too short to be playing games… Just say what you need to say. It may be hurtful but I’d rather know the truth than the maybe-truth.

Today a friend and I kept our palms together. He laughed that my hands were tiny, and his palm against mine, it looked like a father and child palm to palm moment. And I realized, I can’t remember doing that with my father. I just never did. It seemed like a normal thing to do, every child and his or her father. All the movies have that one scene. I have amazing memories of a much younger me and my dad. Various things. But never that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On My Beliefs

The world may lack many things, but it doesn't lack religions. Or beliefs. Now a question I have been asked too often is, "why do you not believe in God?" I usually choose some reason and shut them up. But today, well, here's a list.

1. Since you can pick and choose between religions and beliefs, there has to be some selfish reason behind your choice. Now, I have asked for stuff from that faceless, nameless God! I've said over and over again, "Look! If you do in fact exist, now's the time to show your self. Also I would really appreciate it if you kill me in my sleep so that I wont have to wake up tomorrow for a blood test!" (Yes, I actually did ask for that and was so disappointed to wake up the next day!)

So since you are reading this, or rather since I'm writing this, you know that I didn't die that night, and the blood test was utterly painful too! But I've asked for other things, things too personal to talk about, and too far away in the past to remember. And I haven't been given a single thing. So, why believe in someone who wont even listen to you?

2. God's love has too many limits. Like don't eat pork, don't love one of your own sex, don't cross dress! I mean, I already have so many rules in my life. Do I really need more? What right does this so called God or rather the men who right on behalf of God have to make such rules? I mean, life is too short to be governed that way.

3. Beliefs are too exhausting. The only reason I can get through a tiring day is because of my lack of beliefs. I don't need to worry if I won't be able to pray or if I've broken any rules or promises. I mean, sure, I do like to stick to the five precepts, but they are so easy to stick to. I rarely kill or harm life, never steal or lie, don't misbehave and don't get intoxicated! So I have nothing to worry about, and sure I light an oil lamp and offer flowers to the Buddha, or rather a statue every morning. But I enjoy doing that, gives me a few minutes to think, and be calm.

So what I do believe in is, live and let live. Just forget tomorrow, get through today. Do to others what you would want done to do.

And yet, with those simple things, yes, I still feel safer wearing a Pirith Nool, or when I have offered flowers, and alms to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. I do call my self a Buddhist, and I'm happy to have been born into a Buddhist family. But I don't let my beliefs suffocate me, or cage me. And this is what religion and teachings should do. They should free and not imprison.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Writings on the Wall

A teacher's first words to you will make you determine if you like that particular teacher or not, and if that teacher likes or dislikes you. My Ordinary Level Math teacher’s first words to me were, “Your handwriting is worse than a boy’s!” To add insult to injury, she was talking about my first page of a book neat and perfect handwriting.

During a class, my science teacher was reading through my notes. He frowned at one point, and pointing to a word, asked me what I had written. Having spent several seconds trying in vain, to figure the word out, I told him that even I didn’t understand what I had written.

I admit that my letters are mere shapes or strokes of a pen sometimes. They rarely resemble proper letters. My neatest letters were in Tamil, and this was mainly because I was learning the language and our Tamil teacher didn’t appreciate untidy books. My Sinhalese letters are more awkward and most of my school books were covered in incomplete letters that looked worse than what a five year old would write. My English letters are like scribbles, and I have to put in a lot of effort to write in such a way that another can read it.

In no way am I ashamed of my handwriting. Sure, my mother’s letters are round and properly spaced and my brother’s looks like tiny ants on paper. Yet, I do my father and grandmother proud with my hard to read writing. So I can claim to have it in my genes and I am still to make an effort to write neatly.

The issue I have is simple. Why do people judge another by his or her writing? My math teacher was implying two things by those first words; one, a female’s writing is like a beautiful painting on a canvas and two, males cannot write neatly.

I’ve seen men with handwriting so neat and proper, that they seem to have been born with a pen in their hand. I’ve also seen men write as if they were writing on sandpaper while being in a moving vehicle. Women too, can either fill a page with neat letters or make it seem like a toddler had fun scribbling on it. So, can the sex of a person determine their writing?

Personalities are more likely to explain an individual’s handwriting. I am a messy and untidy person and this extends to my letters. My mother is calm and extremely neat, and her personality too extends to her writing. The internet being a place of many hidden treasure, offers many explanations of personality based on one’s writing. These look beyond size and shape and include the flow of writing too.

Yet, one’s writing doesn’t always look the same. The when, how, where, with what, on what as well your mood will determine how your letters look. Since the days of letter writing and note taking are slowly dying, ones handwriting isn’t as important. This has sadly led to handwriting going from bad to worse, and if ever letter writing is given more attention, people will spend more time trying to figure out the sender’s writing than the time spent on actually writing and posting the letter.

Neat, tidy, perfectionist, sloppy, messy or lazy, handwriting will paint a good enough picture about an individual and on his or her personality. While this can lead to a lot of wrong judgments, I would rather stick to my illegible writing than work towards writing like a proper lady.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Good die young

HE WAS A HUSBAND TO A very patient and kindhearted lady. He was a father to a six month old boy. He was also a soldier. He carried a gun right to the battlefields and he survived the war. He may have watched people he loved as friends or brothers, drop like flies as bullets pierced their hearts. He survived it all. Yet, he couldn’t escape death. A blood clot took him to a grave no one had even planned of digging for him, before he even turned forty. He was a man his family depended on, a man his wife’s family had begun to love as their own. He worked hard to build a home for his wife and child, and even before it could be given the final touches, he died. He is a man that adds truth to the phrase, “only the good die young.”

When talking about the dead, those who died of some illness, at the battlefield, having drunk themselves to death or just being in the wrong place, people would say, “Oh he was in his forties, but that’s no age to die!”

Yet, is there an age to die?

Heath Ledger, an impressive actor who starred in many movies including the heartbreaking Brokeback Mountain and the much loved The Dark Knight didn’t live to be 29. We can only imagine the performances the world is deprived of due to his death.

Keith Urban, lead singer of Nirvana died at 27. He wrote in his final letter, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” River Phoenix, who starred with Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho left the world in 1993, at the age of 23. Even Michael Jackson, who shook the world with great songs, was too young to die at 50.

The list of course, goes on. Looking back at what Billy Joel sang, only the good die young. Maybe none of these people were exactly good, yet, nor were they bad. It is not by birth that people are good or bad, there are in fact no good people or bad people. This was said by someone who has a way with words. It is easy to agree with it though. The men and women who breathe no more, may not have been good people. Yet, they were certainly too young to die.

Everyman is a play that clearly shows death respects no one. There is also a dark joke, where Death visits a man, saying his name was next on the list. The man pleads with Death to give him more time, and goes on to treat Death like a king. Having enjoyed a great meal, Death is asleep. The man then erases his name from the top of the list Death carried with him, and writes it at the very end. The next day Death wakes up and thanks the man for his hospitality and as a reward Death promises to instead start at the bottom of the list.

So, does age distance us from that inevitable end? Are we for a moment able to think, “Oh! I’m only a teenager, I have years ahead of me!” We can’t afford to think like that, and yet we do. This is why when a 90 year old lady, who has seen the world dies, it comes as no surprise to people. However, the death of even a 50 year old is shocking as he is simply too young to die.
The song Knocking on Heaven’s Door is as heartbreaking a song the world would hear about soldiers. These are men who were good, who were brave and who put the lives of others before their own. The soldier mentioned before made a promise to visit his family soon. And yet, that promise is useless now, for only the good die young.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

emotionally broken

to you (of the past)

"We can only be completely honest and innocent and real with each other because we both know perfectly well that nothing can and nothing should happen between us. For instance by some miracle we have feelings for each other, we know we have to erase or forget or at least control those feelings. However it is this forbidden love/liking that keeps us going, plunging deeper and deeper into life's mysteries. It is this that helps with the mild flirting, the honesty and self revelations. This also breaks us, making us emotionally broken human beings"

love, me (of the past)

from nails to love

Nails! I hate them. Not the rust covered ones that fill glass bottles that once contained jams of various sorts. Not those that are battered into wood with a hammer, holding things together. Not those that held Jesus Christ on to that cross, the nails that were covered in his blood.

Nails! The ones that grow on your fingers and toes. Those ghastly things that are grown to the most disturbing lengths. I keep my nails short; cut them constantly, even though at times it makes my skin bleed. The feel of some one's sharp edged nails on my skin makes me shudder, and more than once I’ve been tempted to slice them off.

When I went to Jaffna for four days, I realized on the second night, that my nails needed cutting. There was no way to find a nail clipper or pair of scissors and they weren’t astonishingly long to make it seem like an emergency. So I did something I hadn’t done for years. I bit my nails off. And it was only then that I felt free and in a way cleaner.

To switch topics, my grandmother recently asked me if I was in love. “In love or just love?” I asked with a grin. So she asked me if I loved anyone, in particular, that is. So yes, love, that clich├ęd, cheesy thing that makes even the strongest of men fall at the feet of a woman. That makes even the most intelligent woman lose all senses when face to face with a man.

So what makes liking someone different from loving someone? And the love for one way different from the love for another? Why is love sometimes so suffocating, and at other times so freeing? What makes us love, what makes us worthy of someone's love?

I don’t have the answers, and I don’t want them. And honestly, does any one know the answers? And would they actually want to know them?