An Apache Prayer:
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there are three lives before you: his life, her life and your life together.
Go now to your dwelling place to enter into your days together.
And may all your days be good and long upon the Earth.
Today is exactly one year since i moved to Johor.
I don't quite know what to make of it. A part of me is amazed that the past year has flown so quickly, and yet another part of me aches for the life I left behind.
This time last year, I think I just reached JB with Sudheesh. After packing my bags and bidding a tearful goodbye to my uncle, aunt, grandma and cousin, we drove down. I remember the Mr Potato signboards that we found so amusing along the way, but beneath that was a deep sense of dread as Shanta Swarupini formerly known as Pokirri Takkali (my car) flew along the highway swallowing the distance as effortlessly as Vamana conquering the nether worlds.
To be perfectly honest, it has not been half as bad as I thought it would be. I have a fantastic boss and wonderful colleagues, I've had the chance to work on a wide range of stories, I enjoy walking on the road and recognising people everywhere I go, I've learnt what it means to work as a team.
I earned my first front page story, I cried with a man who had lost his 8 month pregnant wife, I met the former Prime Minister, I was welcomed into homes that others might call hovels, I went hunting for Bigfoot, I lost most of my faith in the political system, I had a tiger cub named after me.
I have been exposed to so much more at the bureau than I probably would have been had I stayed back in the HQ.
I have also learnt to savour and treasure the little time Sudheesh and I share with each other.
But that said it has not been a joy ride all through either. I've had to fight being opressed at home and deal with the occassional loneliness of knowing that most of my closest friends are all many hours and hundreds of kilometres away.
There are days and nights when I've yearned to see his face and feel his warm arms around me, there are times when I've wanted to drop everything and run back. But still I stay on and bide my time. The separation is a little easier to bear when you know it will end some day.
Until then, I will wait the next year out and see where it takes me.
When you find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to begin immediately.
I don't know how to do those fancy colourful lines that run along the length of the page, so here is a splash of colour for someone i think the world of and absolutely love to bits!
Love, hugs, kisses and moosh-mooshes to pierce_79!! Hope you have a fantastic year ahead! :)
I did not go into journalism hoping for miracles, but I still find it extremely frustrating when my stories get altered and tamed down, or don't even see print because the powers that be deem it "too sensitive", or have instructed my bosses that the issue at hand is closed.
It is demoralising and infuriating, but there is nothing much I can do to change the situation except to rant at my immediate boss - my poor, long suffering bureau chief, who listens patiently to me each time I fall into a disgruntled state. Even though I may feel momentarily appeased to have had a listening ear, the problem remains not just for me, but I believe for every journalist who has had to cover news at some point or other in their lives.
When the people I talk to realise that that I am a journalist, they often take a step back and cover their mouths hurriedly for fear that I will quote whatever, often uninteresting and mundane, comment they might have made. If only they realised how far away from reality they often are!
A couple of days ago, I came by this quote and was struck by how apt and true it seemed to me. Don't get me wrong - on most days I enjoy what I do and love the team I work with, but when I read the quote below, I felt sad and ashamed and yes, used. Journalism has immense potential, how often it seems to be wasted.
Here is the quote by John Swinton (1829-1901), a former editor of the New York Times. It is believed that he made this speech when asked to toast "an independent press'.
"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.
"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty four hours my occupation would be gone.
"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?
"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)
Stepping into his charcoal factory, one is first greeted with the sweet aroma of burning wood, reminiscent of the old wood stoves of yesteryear.
Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Chapter 27 - Death
the dark night, the neighbour's light, the soft pillow, the ticking clock.
hide the sun, sweep away the dawn, stop the time.
i sleep, not wanting to awake.
I slipped out through the front door to bring in the car when a chillled night wind blew my curls asunder. Delighted, I stood still, watching as the same wind teased the leafy branches, creating patterned shadows on the ground. A stray dog passed and stopped for a fight seeing my motionless figure by the gate.
I lingered a while longer, silently alone in the jasmine scented garden.