Once there lived a beaver named Barry Beaver. Barry was a very happy and self sufficient fellow. He was content with his daily routine, which included waking up, tending to the dam on the river which his ancestors had built, preparing meals and going to bed. He had a large family with a lot of cousins, aunts and uncles. Every night they would dine together, sing songs and retire to bed one after the other. Bed time was a family affair too, mind you. They would all sleep in the river holding hands with one another to make sure they don’t drift away.
Now, among all his cousins, Barry, was least adventurous (his cousins mercilessly reminded him that each day). The most adventurous thing he might’ve ever done was to climb on the other side of the dam all by himself. His mundane routine never ceased to excite him; he savoured every element of his day as if it was the last day on Earth. He was, as a matter of fact, the best in spotting irregularities and obscurities in the dam compared to all his cousins. This was the reason; all the elders in the family adored him and gave his examples to teach their kids. His cousins (out of sheer jealousy and frustration) would mock him, tease him and at times even bullied him. And this is where our story begins.
One day, just as Barry was going about his routine inspection, three of his cousins rounded him up. They were particularly mad about the part that Barry had discovered a cavity in the dam a couple of minutes after his eldest cousin had submitted his reports of inspection stating all was well. The elders had punished his cousin by making him spend the enter day fixing up the cavity all by himself. Enraged, they had decided it was time someone took charge and taught Barry a few life lessons.
“So, you think you can outsmart us, eh?” asked Barry’s eldest cousin.
“I merely do my duties. Had you done the needful, we wouldn’t have been having this conversation.” Wittily replied Barry and tried to push his way through to avoid any further altercation. How mistaken he was for his cousin simply grabbed his tail and tossed him back. Beyond this point no more words were exchanged, only blows.
That night, Barry stayed aloof from all the merry making. He remained in the shadows until everyone had slept before making his way to sleep. He did not wish anybody to find out he had been beaten up out of embarrassment and fear of elders intervening only to worsen the issue. Barry gently massaged his wounds as he drifted off to sleep (holding a low falling tree branch in water).
Barry would never remember the incidents that unfolded that night. His cousin had not done a good job filling up the cavity. A small rock the size of Barry’s head carried by the flowing river hit the cavity with great force. The cavity immediately gave way. The current grew stronger than the strength of the branch Barry was holding on to. The branch silently snapped carrying Barry through the hole.
Imagine Barry’s surprise when he woke up. Shock didn’t take much long to settle in as the baffled beaver looked all around. This must be one of his cousin’s jokes. It has got to be. After having frantically looked everywhere, a realisation dawned upon him. He was lost. But how? Could he have drifted away? Again how? The dam was intact. Or was it? Unending questions stressed exacerbated his anxiety.
By the time it was noon, Barry had calmed his mind; He had to think straight. He glanced at the river. Perhaps he could try following it back upstream. Yes, that seemed a good idea. He mustered himself up for a long trek upstream.
Barry walked on and on for until nightfall, however, nothing seemed familiar. Worn out, he decided to rest the night and continue his journey tomorrow. Afraid of drifting once more, he decided to dig himself a pit beside the tree and snuggle in. As he settled down to sleep, his worries returned. Will he find his home tomorrow? Would anyone have noticed his disappearance? Would they search for him or simply ignore his absence and move on? His head was racing with questions once again, each worse than the previous one. Eventually exhaustion left behind his worries and helped him drift asleep.
The next day, Barry woke with a start. There were loud banging noises and a constant commotion in the air. How did he manage to sleep so long, he never understood. Out of curiosity he carefully moved behind bushes towards the commotion. He must have reached a human habitat, for there were humans all around doing strange things. Some were shooting fires with loud noises a few were playing with perfectly round rocks (though they seemed quite light to be thrown around with such an ease). There were a few who were cooking on fire. It all smelled so good especially since Barry hadn’t had anything but berries on the way.
Cautiously Barry made his way towards unattended food. He had heard far too many tales of human atrocities towards beavers to attract any attention. He was successfully able to smuggle a few pieces of bread and some cooked animal. This feels so good! He thought. All his tensions of returning home forgotten, Barry sat reclined by a tree well covered by the bushes and savoured each bite. Food had never tasted so good before.
As he ate, he looked at the humans play. One thing in particular caught his attention; blue coloured blobs that floated in the air connected to a pillar with the help of a thin string. He saw one elderly human give two to an excited little girl. However, in the exchange of hands, one of the blobs flew away in the sky, higher and higher it drifted until only a speck was seen. Barry immediately was struck with an idea. He could go higher using those blobs and scan the ground for his home.
Leaving the food behind, Barry sneaked stealthily towards the blue blobs. He hid behind a red pillar to which the blobs were tied. He looked around to see if the coast was clear. He saw the same elderly man now talking with an elderly looking lady (who was carrying a baby in her arms).
“That’s not a problem at all ma’am, I will take these three balloons to your campsite for you.”
The elderly fellow plucked three blue balloons and left with the lady towards her campsite. Barry knew this was the moment. He hastily climbed the pillar and plucked a few balloons. He simply held them; they did not lift him in the air. Thinking fast, he plucked all of them and held on to them tightly. Slowly and steadily he began rising higher and higher into the sky. He looked in all directions for a hint of his home and lo and behold, there it was the tiny little dam just a few miles towards the mountains.
As though answering his request, the winds blew him in the direction to his home. Barry couldn’t be happier. He started releasing one balloon after the other as he flew closer to home. He was left with barely a few balloons when he began descending near the dam. The other beavers, which were searching for him, started pointing towards him in absolute awe. They were as shocked as they were relieved to see him drifting steadily towards them.
Barry’s eldest cousin ran towards him, as he landed, hugged him and began crying. “Forgive me cousin; it was my fault you were drifted away. I will never feign my duties ever again. I am so sorry.” Taken aback by the sudden change in the feelings, Barry immediately forgave him.
All the beavers surrounded Barry as he told his adventurous tale. Since then, nobody mocked Barry anymore. He had become a hero overnight. His cousins too improved their attitude towards him and he came to be known as ‘Balloon Beaver’.
A short story for the painting made by Ayushi Kapadia
A long time ago, a little boy planted a Tree sampling. He nurtured it with utmost care all his life. After him, his children and after them, their children.
The Tree thrived in their love. It grew taller and stronger by the day. The leaves on it grew so dense; they gave shade to the owner’s entire house.
The Tree it seemed had become centre of their love. The children would play around it; the older kids would even climb up in glee. The elders found peaceful refuge for their mundane activities under the Tree; they would sit beside it to read or to talk of many a thing.
However, one rainy morning, the youngest girl came up to the Tree to talk as she routinely did. She said, “This is probably the last time we are talking, you know. Maa says since Dadda has been called over by God to take care of his accounts, he won’t be coming back for a long long time. However, in the meantime, we have to shift to a smaller house, you know, since we are one member less. She also says we can’t take you there as it doesn’t have a backyard. Not yet at least. So goodbye, Tree. I will always love you.”
The Tree could not fathom what to make of it. Who will now take care of it? Will it ever find love and be happy again? The Tree sulked as the days grew into months and months into years.
The house had long been demolished and a road was being paved in its place. They wanted to chop off the Tree too, (the Tree had overheard one of the workers talk) but the governing body would not allow it. However, it didn’t matter to Tree. Being alone, unloved and unacknowledged was as good as being dead. Gloom had withered most of its leaves and weakened its strength too.
One fine day, the workers had erected a Lamp post beside the Tree. The post would sleep most of day and come to life at night. The post was a very jolly fellow. It would call out to cars passing by, asking for any news. But no car stayed long to reply back. However, this would not demean his spirit at all. He would try again with the next car.
The Tree observed this keenly despite its sullen state. Curiosity overpowered his gloom and it asked the Lamp post, “Nobody ever replies to you, doesn’t that make you sad? Doesn’t that make you feel unloved and pariah?” the Lamp post looked at the Tree just for a flicker and joyfully replied, “I live to grow, my friend. I believe tomorrow will be different.”
The Tree shook its branches with a note of resignation. The Tree knew it was a matter of time before the Lamp post would give up. However, the Lamp post continued its routine every night without a hint of hesitation.
One night after weeks and weeks of calling out, a car passed by and before the Lamp post could call out to it, the car yelled back, “two new buildings have been painted in the city.” The car had zoomed past before the post could say thanks. And so it began. All the cars the Lamp post had called out to, one after the other, on their return journey brought their news. Soon the Lamp post and the Tree had heard enough to map the entire city.
Utterly surprised, the Tree asked how the Lamp post mustered the courage to not give up when nothing favoured it. How did it grow the grit to pursue on without as much as a twitch of hesitation? The Lamp post answered, “It’s very simple, my friend. I believed there more to me than just lighting up the road. However, in order for me to grow, I needed to push myself beyond my limitations or in other words, beyond my comfort zone. Hence, I stretched myself and found out all I had about the city. I can now, not just light up the path for a few metres, I can also inform the cars of any news of the city ahead.
”But it’s not just me; the same is true for everybody. Yes, you too. There’s so much more to all of us than just the mundane reason we are comfortable living with. You, my friend, had become far too comfortable in your comfort zone. You stopped growing. That’s why, when you were thrown a challenge, you withered. You submitted yourself to eternal sadness. Why can’t you find a new purpose? A purpose to grow once again.”
The words struck the Tree like a bolt of lightning. The Tree vowed to turn things around and find a purpose to live (rather to grow). The Tree once again grew to its full strength and bore innumerable fruits on its branches. Today, the Tree and the Lamp post not only guide the travellers with news and suggestions but also provide fruits and shelter.
A short story written for Ayushi’s Bookmark “The Tree and the Lamp”
I first stumbled upon the portal two months ago. At first, I did not realise what it was, not for at least four trips through it. I was very hesitant and scared to go in, however, when my father (who by the way has been using it for the past ten years) helped me understand its true identity and purpose, the world was never the same.
I could go to anywhere in the world via the portal be it Mumbai, New Delhi, Australia or USA. What is even more incredible is that in these two months, I have discovered the portal could also take me to just any place whether real or fictional (You just need to believe in yourself). I call these places Amazinglands. Only yesterday, I paid a visit to Hogwarts (to meet Harry Potter and Dumbledore) and Marvel (to meet Ironman).
It is not very difficult to operate the portal. Father says people do it every day without really knowing its true identity. All you have to do is summon it to you (It usually takes a couple of seconds to arrive). Once you enter the portal-gates, you press the destination button. It looks the same all the time, but the portal always takes you where you wish to go (I think it has a mind of its own too). Once your destination has arrived, the gates open magically and you must step out else you will be transported to a whole different place (once I got transported to Voldemort’s lair and my father had to come and rescue me from all the death-eaters).
The portal has been broken for a while now. It was probably Hulks doing. I sure hope it opens soon. The war has already begun in ancient Trolloc lands and it cannot be won unless I kill the head troll with my mystique sword.
-Elevators as seen by a four year old
Panting slightly, I walked in the coffee shop. My rain-water soaked sneakers making pug-marks as I trudged in. Profuse rains had strived real hard to put an end to most people’s work-day. Not mine.
I smirked as I collected my cup of brewing hot coffee from the server and made way towards a window seating overlooking the otherwise crowded street, now, devoid of any signs of life. Yes, the shrewd rains made very sure of that.
I put the coffee on the low level four legged wooden table and unzipped my waterproof bag to pull out my DSLR. Not caring about the mud-water marks my red canvas were making, I put my legs on the table as I reclined a little on my chair. I checked out, with immense pride, every photograph clicked today. Each one better than my best ever click. On your face, rains. Ha! Try harder next time.
It was an ordinary wednesday morning and I was walking along the Santacruz skywalk. I had just got done talking with my colleague regarding my appointments for the day. Out of habit I checked for any messages I might have received since I had last checked and as expected, I had 3 unread messages. I was texting and walking simultaneously, when I bumped into someone. I apologized without as much as even looking up. I had only walked a couple steps more when a plump lady in white salwaar kameez, who too was engrossed in her phone (watching some video with her earphones plugged in), bumped into me making me drop my phone shattering its screen.
I looked at her retreating profile and called out,”HEY!” with both my hands raised in an utter displeasure. She did not even notice. However, what surprised me was, neither did anybody else notice any commotion. Given that we Indians have a reputation to leave all work at hand and huddle up at slightest disturbance, I felt completely ignored and uncared for.
I picked up whatever was left of my phone and attempted to restart it in vain. Pushing the phone away in my bag and making a mental note to immediately visit a phone store at the earliest, I began walking again. My thoughts were still intrigued though by the way I was neglected by everybody when I noticed a young beggar’s kid (about 5 or 6 years of age) carving a horse out of a piece of wood. I had always seen this kid when I walked by, but never observed him. The precision and speed with which he was slicing the wood with an old Swiss knife (which I suspect he must have picked from some place or stolen it from someone) it demanded every bit of my admiration.
I went closer and stooped low so that I could observe his art better, he suddenly became aware of my presence and looked up with the widest smile his tiny face could muster. He dived in is rough jute sack and pulled out a couple wooden figures that he had carved and presented them all to me. I singled out a particular elephant which he immediately quoted “forty rupees, sahib.” I paid him a fifty rupee note and asked him to keep the change.
I wondered how I had never noticed him before. I did not have to think long for the answer; it was all around me. Everywhere I looked, everyone I saw were entirely absorbed in their mobile devices. Some in deep conversations, a few checking out text messages while others enjoying music/video. Not one of them cared about his/her surroundings.
Alas! Terminator has actually come true. The machines have enslaved the humans (of course, quite differently than delineated in the movie). I wanted to shout out to them, draw their attention to the obvious slavery. But who would listen? How many would even care? We humans have got into a deep rooted comfort zone with these gadgets. Taking them away will cause an existential crisis to most of us.
So what should I do now that the realization has dawned upon me? Should I continue my ignorant bliss or should I get out of my comfort zone and actually my life?
Our lives ahead steadily unfold one moment at a time. Our past decisions are what make us today, and likewise our present decisions would thus define our future. As Sherlock Holmes very aptly says “Tiniest of details are in fact the most important ones”, smallest of everyday decisions are the basis of what lies ahead for us tomorrow. And our everyday decisions can be boiled down one argument: Elevator or Staircase?
Let me elaborate my theory. Elevator represents the easy, quick and comfortable solutions whereas Staircase represents the difficult, time consuming and uncomfortable answers. So what should we choose? The elevatorsolutions will solve our problems at our convenience without much discomfort to our lives (or so it may seem). On the other hand the staircase solution will help increase our stamina and tolerance limit in the long run (again or so it may seem).
However, life isn’t a black or white. Neither are our decisions so straightforward. So the question that remains is what shade of grey should our decision be? Should we climb a few stairs and take the elevator to remaining floors or should we take the elevator first and climb the last few flights of stairs.
Wisdom thus lies in choosing the shade of grey eventually.
How many of us remember our first experience travelling in a plane? For most of us, we were kids not more than 5 or 8 years of age. Very recently, I had the fortunate encounter of seeing someone live the experience for the very first time.
The incident happened when I was travelling from Ahmedabad to Mumbai via a low cost airlines. The airlines was scheduled at 23:55 hours. Now the person in question was a girl in her early twenties accompanied by her husband who seemed to have had a bit of experience in flight travel. They were seated one row ahead of me. For the convenience of reading let us name them ‘Geeta’ and ‘Rohit’.
As Geeta occupied her seat, she immediately caught my attention because her gestures and expressions show her enthralled with excitement but her behaviour was timid enough to keep her excitement low for the fear of being judged. Rohit on the other hand had his chest puffed up with pride and a slight tinge of arrogance of being in possession of eternal knowledge.
When the aircraft began taxing towards the runway, Rohit takes a slight recline in seat, puts his hand up and behind his head. Geeta on the other hand has one hand gripping the armrest and the other grip a smartphone ready for any status updates or pictures.
Rohit: “Just wait until it’s high up in the air, your ears will go absolutely numb.”
Geeta: “Yeah I know, Radha told me to carry cotton.”
When the flight engines picked up the vigor for takeoff, Rohit leaned forward slightly, his elbow now brought front to lay on the armrest, using his index finger, pointing at the nearest window.
Rohit (slightly unsure): “see now, I think, we are going to fly.”
Geeta (feeling the thunderous engines roar) just tightens her grip and looks outside with deep enthusiasm
When the aircraft picked up speed, Rohit (now pretty sure): “see I told you. I know it all.”
The moment the flight pulled off the ground Geeta shrieked with excitement as she felt the momemtary weightlessness.
Rohit goes back in his reclining mode and boringly suggested clicking a photo to send home.
Geeta: “It’s too dark, I can’t see anything. I’ll turn on flash.”
Before he could intervene, she had already clicked a picture disturbing the entire line of passengers sitting adjacent to them.
Feeling slight embarrassment, Rohit chided her for being so naive in flight, but not wanting to curb her excitement, he quickly directed her attention to the retreating lights of the city of Ahmedabad. She could no longer hide her awe. She now had thrill written all over her.
When the flight reached a stable height and seatbelt sign went off, Rohit took no time to show off his bravery by pulling off the seatbelt but gestured her to keep it on for her safety.
Rohit probably had planned Geeta’s experience very well because, just when the novelty of the thrill was wearing off, He directed her attention to the panel of buttons overhead. He pressed the attendant button and immediately the stewardess came around.
Rohit: “Some water for me and her.” (In an undertone to the stewardess) “It’s free right.”
Stewardess: “Yes, Sir.”
Rohit impressed her yet again by showing how the airline staff was the slave to his command.
When the other stewards began rolling the merchandise tray for the aisles nearest the cockpit, Geeta quite naturally began eyeing the tray curiously from afar. She tried loosening her seat belt enough to allow her to raise herself slightly to see the all the delightful stuff.
When the steward came in closer, she immediately started pointing and asking if she could keep a few things. Rohit nervously looked at the steward in the hope that he would refuse. To his disappointment, he said “It will cost Rs. 3250/-, Ma’am.”
Now my curiosity was piqued. Rohit is cornered. Will he now spend the amount to keep up his esteem high?
Very smartly he told the steward that he will think and let him know. And once the steward moved forwarsd, Rohit turned to the Geeta and said “You shouldn’t buy stuff here. It’s too over priced and inferior in quality. Our sharmajee can get us a good deal. He has lot many contacts.” Amazing is the word I will use to describe the way he got around the situation.
When the pilot announced we would be landing in sometime, Rohit began his stylised commentary once again, “Mumbai is actually a group of islands joined together. Atleast twenty to thirty of them. Virar, Nalasopara, Gateway, Borivali, all islands. They are joined by putting all the cement and sands in water. Mumbai was very different when I had first come to work here. You are lucky you will be landing from air directly.
Geeta: “It’s all because of you. You have no idea how much I ve wanted to see Mumbai.”
As the plane began taking slight dips in height in order to land, Rohit wasted no time in directing her attention to the window, not wanting her to miss the mumbai lights as the flight flew closer and closer.
Rohit: “Hold my arm properly. Landing doesn’t always happen safely. So many times the wheels come off or get punctured or one of the wings breaks due to wrong landing angle.”
Geeta ( terrified) grasps his arm with both her arms and sits tight.
Upon disembarkation, Rohit puffs up his chest even more with pride at having got his wife safely through a thrilling experience called ‘Aeroplane
I was most often then not always bogged down with fear and insecurity; Fear of failure and insecurity of my image perception. I would imagine a lost battle even before I would plan my battle. I had preferred living in other’s shadow than make a mark. Hence, I could neither claim any achievements nor give myself the boost to strive out of my comfort zone. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams. I have majestically gigantic ones which I wish one day I would own them all. But, (oh! how I hate this word) I only ended up coming up with the most extravagant excuses to procrastinate.
The solution lies around the question ‘why?’. Why do you wish to realise your dreams? Why are you trying to get out of your comfort zone? Why is there a necessity to make your own mark? These answers will guide you to a motive so strong, neither any excuse nor fear and insecurity will obstruct you. However to begin you need to take a leap of faith, which is to say believe in yourself (yep that’s the leap of faith). Trust that the Force (star wars) will guide you to your destiny. Start small and pave way to big success in increasing steps.