Friday, June 11, 2010

Life at Crossroads - A Set of Framed Pictures

This post deserves a dedication - To my parents who have stood by me through thick and thin, to my aunt who lost her husband very young, to my 'sanity holders' who have held my hand through the toughest times in my life and to my friends who bring so much cheer into my life. 

There are some moments when Life flashes by, in little neat packets of frames - You drop everything that you are doing or thinking to stand in awe of those moments. 
Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? But that's how it has been for me. Sometimes it is like an out of body experience, where you feel like you are standing on the side, a silent observer as your life plays itself out around you. The real You is there, playing out her part while the other You stands on the side, in quiet observation.

I can vividly recall three huge moments in my life, when life has flashed by in frames. Every time, life was at a turning point. The crossroads beckoned, I stood there on that deserted road, looking in all directions, dazed. With each choice, flashed different moments of life...Faces half forgotten, expressions that remained engraved somewhere on the corner of the mind. 

The first time I felt like the audience in my own life was surely on that horrible day in June, over a decade ago. On route to Pune, our car turned turtle, my uncle who was driving the car got trapped under the upturned car. I, who sat an arm length away, was thrown out of the car. I lived to tell the tale, he didn't. I don't remember the last moments before the accident vividly. However, every now and then, the memory of the next ten minutes comes to haunt me - that bitter mix of helplessness as you lie dazed on the grassy turf by the side of a slippery road. The impact winded me..I lay there, trying to get a bearing of myself, hoping there was someone to turn me over. In that moment, I saw my first trail of snapshots. I was sure I heard noises, I saw my uncle's face and the jokes we were cracking in the car before the string that held the chain together burst. What followed remains like assorted pictures I rarely want to see. That feeling, though, of utter helplessness, lying face down bleeding while life whizzes pass - someday I'll figure out the words to explain that hollowness...

The second time, I distinctly remember was in Mumbai. My personal and professional life was in tatters. I was spending nearly 18 hours in office, 7 days a week. On one of those days, I remember standing on the footboard of a speeding local train, looking at the railway track. Fascinated. Knowingly fully well that all it would take was for me to leave the handlebar I had my grip on. Another set of snapshots, this time mostly sad...were there faces? I'm sure I saw my parents...more compelling reasons to surrender to that vacuum I could feel inside. At that moment, if you had thrown a coin down my soul, it would have clattered a million times. A young girl who moved forward as the train approached the Lower Parel station broke my trance. She smiled as she walked out of the train, I remember so clearly...I smiled back, shivering in the knowledge she did not have. That she had perhaps saved a life without even knowing that her interference had meant that a choice was made.

The third time - this seems anticlimactic as I write it. There I was, sitting in a TV studio, all ready for a show, my hair set into place, my emotions hidden behind a mask of makeup. All that was allowed to be let through was the facade of cool professionalism. As my producer gave me my 'On Air' cue, I felt that again - that old, by now familiar feeling of an out-of-body experience. The Me somewhere by the side, watching my automated performance. A question asked, a reasonable answer given - the other Me feels proud of the real Me's performance. Through the ten minute 'On Air' performance, the other Me was busy tallying up the losses and gains, getting rapidly disillusioned with the futility of it all. That was the moment I decided it was time to end this phase of life. Time to pack bags, unsettle the seemingly settled. Draw new patterns, see new horizons.

The other day, I went with my friends to Seven Sisters - chalk cliffs along Seaford in UK. One of the cragged edges really looked like the endpoint, were the earth really flat. I walked till the tip, like an explorer, keen to stand on the edge and stare out down at the waters hitting the rocks and foam that spewing. Just when I thought I reached my end-point, I realised that was not the Land's End...

The landscape stretched on, it was my mind that saw it as the end. In reality, life lies elastic, ready to be moulded and stretched, the way you want to. Shorten it, and  it condenses itself. Stretch it and it expands to encompass everything. This time too, the neat frames of pictures flickered through my mind. But for once, I was at peace - with life, my place in this vast universe. 

The real Me and the other Me were in sync. That's the moment you know you have anchored your life right. 

I might see those neat packets of life frames someday, but now I know how to create equilibrium. 

I'm a survivor. This is catharsis.

( All the pictures taken at Seven Sisters - Berlin Gap and ahead)


  1. hi , pretty intense... i don't generally read long posts..but once i strtd reading this it kept me goin.... congrats fr ur state of bliss :-)


  2. I can so identify with this. I think many of us have these 'framed moments' which in many ways are responsible for where we are and what we are. Some attain the balance easily, while some others are still in the search. I am on my path to equilibrium, so I'd like to believe.

  3. It is these moments that make us what we are.
    Life with it's bumps and potholes..
    Nicely written btw.

  4. I hear you. You’re not alone. I’ve written of some of mine in Mommy’s Writings. All of us at some point in life question, hoping too have answers, which don’t always come. It’s then when life seems futile, until a small still voice within is heard. Maybe not by one’s own self but in the action off something or someone’s momentary touch, or her interference that had meant a choice was made, and then had captured the mind’s message than received from the still small voice within. Let’s cry tears of joy in the freedom and the peace in being me, knowing that indeed God’s love carries me, even when I’m not consciously aware. And as you so beautifully put it, so I look to see His reminder, when life seems so far away and distant, whose beauty and majesty anchors my life right. Amen.

    Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author, would you like a sandwich?

  5. Pradeep: Thanks.. keep dropping by. Will try to keep the posts shorter..;)

    Coffee Cup: Someday you will reach there and everything that you went through will seem worth it.

  6. Purba: Thanks..:) Writing is so wonderfully cathartic at times.

    Suzanne: Welcome to my blog and thank you for appreciating the thoughts.

  7. Whoa !! That was some piercing words..I shiver keeping myself in your shoes while the accident happened with your Uncle..See Life will ask questions, its upon us whether to answer them or quit..I prefer answering them as i live to see that things do get better..Great writing..

  8. Great Writing. In this article I can very well relate with the second and third incident and the last example you gave with seven sisters is just awesome.. Glad that I stopped by.. Great writing

  9. Different people and different turbulence but somewhere the basic struggle seems to be the same.. Glad you made peace with yourself. That was quite intense whew!!

  10. T N Neelakantan12 June 2010 at 20:46

    Very nice to read about your witnessing some of the moments in your life that made a difference. We all have similar experiences though, only a few, consciously notice.

    T N Neelakantan

  11. there are so many moments in life when we suddenly decide 'tomorrow i start living again'...something changes at that moment...I think it's our view that has changed...we start seeing a dimension that was hidden up till then...strange, coz nothing has really changed

  12. the next time you reach a place where you want to think is the land's end or are made to believe it is...turn around and spread your arms...look at the vast land and the life ahead of you, tell yourself that land begins here. we all have to make a beginning...sometimes what we think is the end, teaches us that. Life is like that tempest you painted. but the fact is, even that paining needed a deepus to put it down on canvas!

  13. Wow, not stunned by the content but by the honesty. I hope in some small part the space and distance afforded by your time in Falmer has helped you to find this centre and that you will remember it in days to come as you achieve new heights in whatever field you settle upon.
    Enjoy your homecoming and please come back!

  14. wow deeps i have no words......reliving some of the experiences...(not together).... but i think everyone reaches a point of the 'earth's end' not realising u just have to go on further and there it is ..."life".....that little ray of hope.....well u know what i mean... weve survived and conquered...:)

  15. Bullseye: I agree that taking life head on is the only way to live it right. :) thanks for your comments.

    Annasarp:It took me to put things into perspective to realise how I have left a lot of demons behind me. :) Thanks for taking the time to read the post

  16. Farila: Coming from you, it is high praise. This post was lying clogged somewhere in the heart for a long time, the trip to Seven Sisters finally unclogged it.

  17. Neel48: Thank you, guess the journalist inside somewhere makes you analyse your life and reactions too. :)

    Nalini: So true, so very true.

  18. John: Sometimes this burst of honesty is required to give the demons a decent burial, is it not?

    Jo: Thanks babe, for being there, through a lot

  19. Reaching the edge and coming back from it after self realization is actually like rebirth...all of us go through such ups and downs in our thought glad that you are at peace....

  20. Such bursts are of course required and I am glad that you are burying the darkness for a brighter future ...Something all survivors come to realise sooner or later. Very glad that your catharsis has been sooner.
    I meant to imply above that I am sure you will succeed in whatever your next step is!
    Even if you are not coming back in the near future, please remember your alma mater (the place *and* the people) in years to come...

  21. Great post! Life is so unpredictable

  22. I loved reading it. and I have read it 3 times.

    I cannot put my appreciation in words, i somewhat lack the ability; but this should be a page from a book that you wrote.

  23. John: Surely, Isn't that a given? I might be back sooner than you think. :)

    Ana_treek: The older you grow, the more irritated you get at not being able to figure it out right.

    Zubin: You knew bits and pieces of this story. Never the whole,eh?

  24. My dear Deepthy,

    Through your deep dark days of "18 hours and seven days", I could see that you had to take a break or be broken. I'm glad you chose and crossed the line.

    In writing about it so searing and honest, you have shared with us a part of yourself that is in us too: we too fight our demons in our ways. Look closely and you will see the process unfold in my blog as I write about the "lessons my mother learned me".

    I've said this before; I'll say it again. These are the notes for the book you will write some day.

    I can see the expression, "if you had thrown a coin down my soul, it would have clattered a million times", in the mind's mouth of one of your characters, "standing on the footboard of a speeding local train, looking at the railway track. Fascinated. Knowing fully well that all it would take was for me to leave the handlebar I had my grip on".

    Hold always this daring piece close to your heart, Deepthy. It is your personal truth and the story of your survival. But it is also universal: the story of all the struggles of our young people to face the challenges that Life throws at us and the temptations that Death dangles before our tired eyes.

    As an editor, I can recognise the makings in you of a great writer. With your permission, I will copy this piece and preserve it for the day when ...

    I might even start to edit it ... and send it back with queries???

    Peace and love,
    - Joe.

  25. Joe: Thank you, with all humility. Recognition from one's teacher is the biggest honour. Please do refine it into a better piece. I will be honoured.

  26. Hi, Dear Deepthi!

    Thanks for your kind comments at my blog! Love this cute blog of yours! Do stay in touch & keep blogging and sharing. Cheers! :-)

  27. OH wow... i never knew sitting in my london office and reading this in my lunch break would make me realise how lucky i am.. sometimes you need to have a reality check in real life !!
    All i can say is , it truly touched me.. and girl u really are survivor!

  28. Thanks Srinath...Your posts always make me want to take the next flight to Andamans..

    Anju: Thanks a ton for your encouraging words. Though I must say that my contemplative posts are normally a way to thank everyone and everything in my life for making me the person I am. :)I guess each life begins to matter when you try to decipher what incidents or people left behind as their legacy. :)

  29. Very nicely written. I like the part where you describe the 'scenery and setting' when your life flashes before your eyes.
    "The real You is there, playing out her part while the other You stands on the side, in quiet observation."

  30. Hey journomuse . It was a brilliant and vivid somewhat dramatic ..some sadness .. some sincerity .. Together they bring me a story teller who is so alive her words ..

  31. Thank you, Seeker. Welcome to my blog.:)

  32. lovely!!!Stories of our life.. But I must say not many people have the courage to put it in words and that too so beautifully... I have been through incident 1 and to some extent 2.. So I can perfectly relate to it..
    But then life has its way of making us keep going for lessons to the brave... making us stronger and wiser (I am not sure about the wise part though) Sometimes its fun to keep repeating the mistakes too..
    Have a happy life onwards and there is nothing like being at peace with yourself..Thats another thing I discovered very recently...

  33. It happens so often that we literally give up but something very minute which we ignore at other times makes us change our decision for instance a smile on the face of 2 year old.And when e look back we just laugh at ourselves...but yes they are indeed life changing moments... very well written :)

  34. WOW. Long one this! Took some time to read! Excellent writeup. Wonder if a startling moment will ever come in my life and wake me up from this slumber. Until then adios :P

  35. Wonderful writing , sincere ,intense and kept me hooked on to every word. .

  36. Thanks Nishant, sometimes when you write, it becomes a personal cleanser..and you don't realise how long it is, to the torture of others reading it..:) promise to keep my posts shorter..

    Welcome to my blog, fantasies of a lifetime.:)

  37. Intense. Wonderful.
    The length of your article is perfect. What you can do is - cheat on the readers - create an illusion that they are reading less number of words - erm, change the template, increase the font size and the width of the main body. ;) :)

  38. Greetings!
    If you love food and if you love to write then this is your chance to shine! Coming up soon, a blogger contest that will get you the stardom you deserve. 'Like us' today and stay tuned for further updates.

    Marketing Team
    Sancho's Restaurante and Cantina (Mumbai)
    The one and only place in Mumbai of Original nachos, Tacos and everything Mexicano.

  39. You have handled a really intense topic so easily. great piece of writing

  40. Thank you, your comments brought me back to this piece...the blog has been suffering my bouts of quixotic abandonment...:) Thank you for visiting and hope you find more stuff here time and again..

  41. It's so difficult to talk abt these moments. You have captured them intensely.

    1. Thanks Manish. It feels like a lifetime ago, life has changed so have circumstances. But I was there once and I lived through it and so had to tell the tale.