A Car Ride of Reflections

Prologue

This short story is close to my heart. I had written it back when I was doing my Bachelors hence the points mentioned in the end are privy to my thoughts during that period of my life. The location is original and based on the place where I grew up and incidents are based on true experiences, but not necessarily in one day and in the same order. The aims and goals expressed in the post are something I’m still working on achieving as a habitual entity, but hope to master completely someday. But in the meantime, I hope this post helps us all including myself, to remember to always be grateful for what we have.

The Car Ride

It was 12 o’ clock in the afternoon and I was in a very bad mood, on my way to university for 12:50 sociology class. And yet, here I was, stuck in my car, in a never-ending traffic jam Tejgaon. I don’t understand why this happens to me. No matter how hard I try, I always wind up getting late. On top of that, this terrible heat in Dhaka isn’t making things any better. Why is it so hot?

“Karim bhai, A/C ta barai den toh!”

“Karim bhai, can you please turn up the A/C?”  I said irritably.

Suddenly there was a loud knocking on my window. I slid it down and looked into the face of a bleak little beggar boy.

“Apa duida taka den na, khida lagse.”

“Sister can you give me two bucks, I’m hungry.” he whined.

Considering that I was already in a grumpy state of mind, I was in no mood for rehearsed beggar tantrums.

“Jah, ekhan theke, amar kache nai!”

“Go away, I don’t have it!” I replied irritated and callously and closed the window.

The child continued to knock a few more times and then left.

Not having anything else to do or read, I looked outside the window. Everyone around was busy with their lives, hustling to go to work, chit chatting with friends and colleagues or sipping tea in tea stalls. Suddenly my gaze turned towards a thin scrawny man pulling  a morbid looking cart a few feet ahead. The man was constantly perspiring in the heat and the cart he was pulling, accommodated a steel carton filled with ghastly garbage. I watched as the man encountered a break in the ride as he came upon a dug-up area of the road, because of which he to steer the vehicle around the area. He then waited a fair few minutes for the cars zooming past him to stop, so that he could get the space to move on and continue ahead his way. I stared blankly after him.

My attention was soon diverted by a young rickshaw puller in his twenties, driving with one hand. With a shock I noticed he was missing his right hand. The despairing image froze before my eyes and I realized that I had started to have a nagging feeling in my heart, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.

We then entered Gulshan. Intending to erase the previous image from my head, I looked away, as we stood stuck in a fresh batch of traffic. Unexpectedly, the next significant thing that caught my eye was a long line of people, standing in the scorching heat, in the bus stand near Gulshan 1 market. Instantly I was reminded of my own once-in-a-blue moon bus ride, a few months back.

My project group mates and I needed to go to Ashulia to check out a site and take pictures. But my friends didn’t own a car and mine was in the workshop, so we decided to take the bus. It was my first time in a local bus. We managed to get the women’s seat and we sat down thankfully. It was excessively hot. Soon it was time to get down from that bus and catch the one that would take us to Ashulia. But this time we couldn’t get the women’s seats or any seat for that matter. Hence we had to stand in the midst of the crowd while the bus drove on, speeding and stopping unceremoniously. The local men kept bumping into me, more intentionally than unintentionally and I got aggravated. Since I wasn’t used to it, my friends sensed my distress and as soon as a seat got empty, they made me sit down. Upon finally reaching the site, I was relieved that the abhorrent ride was over.

The sound of a car horn brought me back to the present day. I looked back at the bus stand. The people were still standing in line in the blistering heat and humidity. Waiting.

We entered Baridhara. Here the usual environment seemed somewhat different. It is a calm, posh neighborhood where the more financially stable population lives. Soon, I would enter Bashundhara, reach late to class, get reprimanded by the professor, and then nevertheless, life would go on.

But that wasn’t the case this time. The nagging feeling in my heart grew stronger, and for the remaining car ride, I pondered silently about many many things.

I once read an article by a girl where she had said something I will always remember and commemorate. She had said that in the different sides of the same car window, two completely different worlds exist. Today, I felt the true effect of her words.

Epilogue

We spend so much time in our lives complaining on and on about our silly, frivolous problems and so little time appreciating all the phenomenal things that we have been blessed with. In the midst of studies, work, friends, parties, crushes and so on, there are many of us who forget that there are people who deal with thousand times bigger hardships and struggles than our casual, petty problems. They still fight tooth and nail everyday to survive in this ruthless, acrid, discordant world. What would we have done if we were born to live the life of the man who was pulling a cart full of our garbage? Or how we would feel if we had to pull the rickshaw day and night with only one hand, or if we were to stand hungrily on the outside of the car window begging people for money with our hands folded. Because we would have no choice but to accept their loathsome behavior since we can’t shout back at them the way we shout at our parents? What would we do if we had to stand in line for hours on end every day, to wait for a cheaper transport because we cannot afford it, or we need to save money for our/dear one’s treatment. What could we do, if as women we had to collide into strange men and be uncomfortable throughout the entire journey as the bus glides and stops through a series of traffic jams, generating more interpersonal collision. How would we have handled it?

The list is endless. Those people are fighters; they go through unimaginable hassles because they are not blessed like us and have to live a life of constant peril, poverty, health issues or income problems. It could have been me. If I had to live their lives, I would come back crying to my mother saying that it’s impossible to accept such daily incomprehensible pain. Yet people are fighting everyday.

It is a shame I am writing this article today but I am not doing anything on my part to help those poor people who deal with poverty throughout their lives. I hope I remember to acknowledge and appreciate my truly blessed life regularly, and someday contribute to society in a major way and help those who need it. As Mahatma Gandhi very wisely said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I hope to do just that.

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The funny story that’s called life

Okay, so this is my first blog post. It’s a little long as per my habit forever, but with time I will try my best to keep them short and precise.

Every experience has a first time- that’s very important to remember. Especially when one is scared and nervous. But I’m also trying to avoid procrastination, so the key to that is do and not think. Which means write and not think. But also, think before you write of course.

I think a little background is necessary here. The reason I started writing a blog. I’ve hit this time in my life where I’ve had some major changes in the way I think, the way I perceive everything around me, the very way I see myself even. And this change didn’t happen overnight; in fact it is still happening (because evolution is a continuous process). But also, it wasn’t easy getting here.

I was the kind of person who always focused on the negatives in life. Whatever was going wrong, whatever dreams that didn’t take shape, whatever issues I was dealing with, and the fact that everyone around me seemed to live a life that I would have loved for myself. And I was that way for 28 years.

But here’s the thing, and I realized this after I temporarily left the world of mystery novels and started reading some self help books. That life for you is going to be whatever way you view it as. It’s like what you see when you put on a pair of coloured glasses, and the world suddenly becomes all colourful. Take that out, and your back to your regular visions.

So if I choose to focus on the negatives, I will only see the negatives. If I choose the positives, I will only see the positive side of everything. Well, as much as possible anyway. Because seeing positivity in everything is like a habit that needs to be developed, it will not come naturally. As humans, we tend to see the worst not the best.

Coming back to the changes in life that lead to this decision of a blog, I mentioned that it was a tough journey to reach this place in life. When you’ve had major crappy moments in life leading to heartbreaks, disappointments, disruptions, arguments, stress, anxiety, and many other negative reactions; at one point, you realize the simple truth, that you must let go in order to survive. Either that, or try to remember only the good things that came out of it, and forget the rest.

For me, this epiphany got to the point where one day, after listening to a music that touched me immensely, I actually smiled to myself when I thought about all the crap that I’ve gone through in my life. Like I was actually grateful. ME. Out of all the people. The person who would always focus on the what-ifs, the why-it-didn’t s, what-could-be s, and the ever popular, “why-me.” But now, I think a little differently. I think- so what, if it it’s me? And that by itself surprises me so much. Not to mention I never thought I would be the one out here, trying to motivate people.

So basically, that’s why I’m here. I realized that there must be millions out there who face similar, and so much worse stuff in life and I want my blog to motivate all those. Everyone in any part of the world, who are going through something, I want you to know that you are not alone. That you can change your life, and it all starts with a simple thought. And a proper execution after that, but we will get to that later down the road.

So good luck, to both you and me, and I will be sharing your journey with you, growing, evolving and learning from you and be there right beside you in spirit. Here’s to the hopeful anticipation of an amazing journey together. Cheers!

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The 2019 Takeaway

The older we get, the more we realise the value of the universe around us. In a world where materialistic elements serve as our oxygen, we often fail to grasp the fact that what actually matters is the source of it all. The uncertainty, insecurity, fear, trauma, disappointments, heartbroken moments, failures.

Meanwhile, the struggles of life clashes with the logistics of the system and our eyes are covered by a thin layer of mist, thus masking what lies underneath all the fog. Happiness becomes all about showcasing it for the world, and our pain, sadness and heartache remains invisible to the naked eye, because well, how can we show our vulnerabilities to the world?

The more you run after what everybody else already has, the more you lose yourself in the process. There is a fine line between moving on and letting go, and sometimes one happens without the other. No matter how much you’ve had to do it before, it never gets any easier the next time. It takes all that you have-every strength, energy, heart, willpower, and whatever else you’ve got, to push through it till the current end.

But this is what I’ve learned. Do it anyway. Instead of running away from it, run towards it. The harder it seems, the more you engulf yourself in it. The furthest that it seems, the closer you try to get to it. Reverse psychology could not have served you better. That pain you are feeling-is your gold. Use it, wear it, bathe in it and let it become the strongest part of you.

Spark that fire inside you to light up the hearts that still have not recovered from an internal power blackout. Your struggles, battles and failure is your reward and strength and this is where you use that experience to help others. So that they can rise to face their challenges head on, every single day, every minute and every second of their life and then before you know it, you wont feel as lonely, you wont feel as disheartened, and you will be fighting those demons right beside them.

Here is to a positive, optimistic, hopeful 2020. 🙂

Gratitude is thy safe haven

Okay, so as promised in my last post, here it is. Need to take a quick second to admit that it took a bit of work to convince myself to actually sit down to write it. I have always been the opposite of being grateful. Never actually knew the concept of it I suppose. Now when I look back at all the times I complained about things, that were nowhere near as difficult as the other crap in life, I feel silly. Then you get enlightened and grateful one fine sunny morning (especially if the weather directly affects your mood) and then lo- behold, soon enough you are disappointed by the letdowns of life and go back to complaining again. And suddenly realize all over again the hard way, how much worse things can actually get.

Therefore today I will list the things I am personally grateful for. What we see, we believe. So if we see the positives, we believe them more and more right?

Gratitude appreciation #1

Let’s start with the most obvious reason: Health-wise, I still seem to have most of my limbs attached to my body for now (although let’s just wait, winter and snow is just beginning. But more importantly, I am alive and breathing. One dental appointment can remind us to be grateful of that. I’m also not dying of a major disease at the moment. So many countless number of people around the world can’t even begin to have that luxury. They are surviving the biggest of health battles, hygiene issues and much more, whilst being deprived of life’s basic necessities. It sounds cliche but that’s because it is; this right here, is the basic motivation to be grateful.

Gratitude Appreciation #2

This needs to come to top of the list (okay, okay I know it came second). But I need to be alive first to appreciate the second one! Which is -being grateful for every struggle that I’ve undergone. In fact, every single, cut-throat, heart-wrenching, nail-biting pain that all of us have gone through. This step is so simple yet so hard. Our mind goes directly into calculating the damage and the scars those experiences leave us with. Believe me, I know. But I am still so very grateful for those moments. What else can we do anyway? If we want to spin those ugly truths in any positive direction, we absolutely must learn to be grateful for them first.

Grateful Appreciation #3

All those things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to achieve or maintain, but eventually did. Like graduate high school, finish my undergrad, um get a job? Struggling at maintaining it, is a conversation for another day though. I used to think I was so dumb growing up, that I never stopped to think, appreciate or even acknowledge the fact that I didn’t fail at any of those. And what about being thankful for the small achievements in life, like dancing in public? Or singing. Finally dragging yourself to join a gym? Letting go (somewhat) of the past and certain people. Forget those, what about starting this blog? Talking to all of you through this platform, reaching out to so many people through my words (boy, it sure sounds like I think I’m very famous). But the point is, I cannot even begin to iterate how unachievable they all seemed to be at one point in life. And yet, here I am.

Grateful Appreciation #4

All the everyday things we do in life I guess. Like let’s say, oh I don’t know-simple stuff like getting up/waking up every morning and dragging ourselves to start the day? Going about our day behaving that life is fine, that we are at our normal pace and routine, but the truth is, nothing feels right. Every second of every minute of every day it’s the same feeling of nothingness. Yet we still carry on somehow, (huffing and puffing of course), and we still manage to find the strength in us to get through the day despite all that. That’s something that we should find a way to be grateful for, right?

Gratitude Appreciation #5

Well, here’s to being grateful to be us. Who we are, to ourselves, to others, when we are alone or in public, what we do in the face of an adversity, what we do during crisis and also how we act during our good times. Every time we feel helpless and that there is no hope, be grateful. Embrace the broken dreams. The lost revelations. The aching heart. It helps to fight to not only live another day but to conquer it. Ironically enough, when we are doing relatively okay in life (the word “good” seems too good to be true), we become the least grateful. We may not complain as much then, but we get busy in our busy lives and forget to be thankful to what we do have.

I can tell this for certain though. That I have evolved enormously. The past year particularly has been so rough and good at the same time. Things that used to stress me out for nothing now are much more easier for me to not dwell upon. Every time my heart is breaking or I lose all hope in eternity, I have the strength in me to stop, breathe in some fresh air and find the courage in myself to smile (not at all joking). Also, well, I have supporting music to help me tread the path of course. But truth be told, this merely on it’s own was next to impossible in the past. But now? I am so grateful for everything that lead me to be this person I am now, and the one I am on my way to become. That is why my friends, gratitude is meant to be the light to lead the way to who we are eventually meant to be. Hope it does for you as much as it does for me.

Peeling off the layers

No my friend, I am not talking about the onion layers. Though undoubtedly it would make you cry which is kind of the point of this conversation (I’m kidding), but the onion would be a more metaphorical reference to all the layers in our lives.

We are all made up of several masks. I don’t mean that everybody is fake. But we go about our lives behaving as though that is exactly the state of mind we are in. It’s layers and layers of politeness, keeping face, behaving normally, doing chitchat, going about our work, etc.

But what happens when we turn the lights out? When all the hustle and bustle of our day is over for the evening, and it’s just us and the darkness..and our own thoughts. All the feelings we store hidden, all the way inside at the bottom, come tumbling out one after one. Where there’s nobody around but ourselves.

One evening when I was coming home I had to stop walking all of a sudden because of the sight that met my eyes. I guess the car could have been damaged much worse after the accident, but what got my full attention were the passengers inside. One was unconscious (I hope, because I don’t want to think of the alternative) and the person sitting beside, on the driver’s seat was frantic with panic at the non-responsiveness of the injured. I could not budge. I watched as passerby’s tried to help with water, the police coordinated, more people stopped to watch and then finally the ambulance arrived.

That is the ultimate thing guys. When you take out all the layers of an everyday life, there is only one thing-life and death. One minute you are driving/walking/skating normally on the road like any regular day and the next minute, or even second, your whole world is turned upside down. Just like that. You fall in a daze, have no idea what’s happening around you-all your senses numbed and all you can think about is what’s going to happen now.

I remember having tears in my eyes, I remember putting my hand to my face every few seconds but I was unable to cry. I wanted to, I wanted to go running towards the broken car, but I remained where I was, unable to move. All I could think was how petty I have been my whole life to complain and complain about things that were nowhere near to what was in front of my eyes.

We may be going about our normal lives everyday, trying to survive, trying to achieve our goals, take care of our families, fulfill our responsibilities etc, but we are hardly able to pause and take a minute to look at ourselves. Let me tell you a secret. I hate the thought of going to take a shower (don’t judge me!). Because I know exactly what’s going to happen. I won’t be able to keep my thoughts, my pain, my tears, in check soon enough. There will be nothing in my surroundings to distract me from all that I try to run away from. Which means I will break down, lose control of my calm, relatively chirpy usual demeanor and all the layers will be turned off like in Photoshop with nothing but the background layer.

Yes I know what y’all are thinking. Sounds like this person has a lot of unresolved issues. You won’t be wrong, but then again-who doesn’t? So let’s all take a moment and take step 1 of resolving issues. Acknowledge them. If you count this post as one part of acknowledging, then there, I’ve taken the first step. Sort of.

I will end this post with a mention of the second step so that I can write on it next. Gratitude. Believe me I will need to add this as my habit much more than any of you. But if I want to accomplish that, I would like to do it alongside all of you. Because that’s why we are here isn’t it? To be there for each other as a community. So until next time amigos, let’s all give ourselves some credit for continuing on, in our journey, in our struggles, in spite of all our layers. Unless we want to feel all warm and hot in all our upcoming winter jackets, if you know what I mean.

It all seems too easy

It actually does, doesn’t it? Everything that we see in social media, the seemingly all time highs , the happy and smiles and poses and outfits and sunshine and food and restaurants and well the list goes on and I don’t even need to add all of them here because I’m sure you already know.

But here’s the funny part- if someone goes to my social media page, they will find the same, fluffy stuff, where I posted a happy picture the day after I spent the night before, crying until dawn. Why do we do even do that? Why can’t we tell the world when we are going through a hard time instead of only focusing on the “good” things?

I managed to stay away from social media for a while just for this reason: it’s too stressful to see everybody living the life we want for ourselves. It seems like everyone’s lives are all about friends, family events, weddings, friends again; basically all the fun stuff that we see in the pages of people we know and celebrities. Don’t celebrities have problems in their lives as well? I really admire those who post about the difficult moments that they faced in their lives two days ago. That way their smiling picture has the backstory behind it and we don’t live in a bubble where everything is picture perfect.

Awareness is a virtue that we often fail to recognize. If we were to live in a world where everyone only uploaded the difficult and embarrassing and upsetting moments in their lives, then we would start believing that all things in the universe are ugly and unbearable. What we see, becomes the reality remember?

But here’s the deal-breaker. It is the opposite of easy. Our lives are far from perfect. And I want to mention something here. Something that’s been bothering me lately. My life has always been chaotic and stressful in most cases (naturally because of the way I was taught to look at it). But there has been a few days when I actually lived the life I see regularly on social media. The going out with friends or family part, good company, good food, good weather, everyone around smiling, including myself, etc. So that means I am lucky and fortunate to be living that life right? Even if it was for a day?

But that bubble would burst the second the day or night was over. It became a routine that every time I had a good day, it would be followed by a depressed, lonely, doomed feeling where I would end up trying to remember what exactly I was so chirpy about the day before. And I realised why. Merely convincing ourselves to take it easy, enjoy life a bit, have fun with people around us, not let anyone or anything get to us- isn’t enough. None of it matters, because in the end my heart is still hollow inside. The problem is still there, at the very core- strong and seemingly impeccable. It’s what makes us remember that we are not happy, that nothing in our life seems to work the way we want it to.

I’ll put an end to the post here. Mostly because I don’t want to ramble on and on about something that I don’t know how to solve yet. But I want to express my thoughts and feelings so that people know that behind that smile and a daily response of : “I’m good, how are you?”, there is more pain and distraught hidden, so that they know they are not alone. I will keep going, keep pushing forward despite that dreaded feeling inside me, mostly because I don’t have the choice to quit. I don’t know where life is taking me, but I do know that there are people in this world with much worse problems than mine. I will try not to dwell too much into the past, not have a panic attack about what the future will behold and mostly try to live in the moment and give it the best I can. It’s not easy, it never will be, but I have to go on. Make the “not easy” part be worth it. Or at least try to. In the end for it to get better, it needs to get worse first.

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