Monday, 17 October 2016

What Is the Difference Between a Moth and a Butterfly?

Let's try some quiz: What is the difference between a monkey and a gorilla? OK that seems an easy one. Let,s raise the bar: Can you separate a jackdaw from a sparrow? Now that seems a tough call.

However, it is a simple thing for those groups of birds. They know who is a jackdaw and who is a sparrow. When sparrows are out there in the field playing, the jackdaws who like to court the sparrows would be playing close to the sparrows,. But the sparrows would always give them a safe distance. Message: "Keep off! We ain't buddies."

Now let's come to the narrative: What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly? These insects are commonplace but not all of us can spot the difference. And this led to the separation of two best friends.

It is from a story that I read way back in college. A group of students were playing in the school garden. Then one of them who claims to be the brightest biology student pointed to an insect on a flower and said: "That's the lovely butterfly!"

The group stopped momentarily to admire the insect. But then one of the students, the best friend of the bright student, disagreed and replied: "No, that isn't  a butterfly, it is a moth." The rest of the students took sides with him and chorused: "Yes, it is not a butterfly, it is a moth."

The first student felt hurt. This was his friend disagreeing with him and causing the others to shame him. "I am the best biology student," he said. "You dare not argue with me on this.. This insect is a butterfly, not a moth."

But his friend would not have it. "Being the best biolog student doesn't mean you can't be wrong. I maintain that this is a moth not a butterfly," said his friend. And then the other students joined with a much louder chorus: "Yes, it is a moth, not a butterfly." And then they left the bright student standing there wondering at the humiliation. 

He walked a few feet away and sat under a tree swearing. He looked at the rest of the students. They were looking back and laughing scornfully at his with his friend.

After a while, he got up and walked to take a second look at this insect. How can he be wrong? The insect was still playing atop the flower. As he looked it seemed to him that he may not be right after all. It seemed a moth, not a butterfly. And now he has lost a friend.

The moral of the story is that nobody knows it all.  We should learn from one another and accept when we are wrong whether at home, in business, and in politics.

Now, take another quiz: Is this post an article or an essay? "An essay," you reply. No, it isn't an essay, it is an article. Read it again for a second chance to redeem yourself.

Hopefully, you won't lose a friend!

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Sunday, 16 October 2016

My Three Wishes

What is the old saying about wishes and horses?

I have three wishes. Here are they:

My first wish is to travel to the North Pole and experience the mysterious Northern Lights. Enough of seeing those spectacular images! Wouldn't it be delightful to travel up north and see it at first hand? I am figuring out the nearest town in the North Pole for that purpose. Some settlement in either Canada, Greenland or Iceland. And a crash course from an Eskimo about surviving at freezing point!

My second dream is to experience a complete solar eclipse. I have heard enough stories of those. In one account back in the day, some villagers thought the world was about to end. So they slaughtered their livestock and began preparing their last meal. And then night turned to day. I am checking out the location and date of the last one. No last suppers.

My third wish is to experience an earthquake. Suicide, you say? OK, let me downgrade it. Earth tremor. Wouldn't it be nice having the ground shake under your feet? We all move about every day unmindful of the seismic movement below our feet.

Strange wishes you say? Not quite.. Those experiences are long lasting. Don't you have such an eccentric wish? And again what is that old proverb about wishes, horses and beggars?

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"Don't Blow It, Hillary!"

Image result for hillary clinton smiling first debate photo

The U.S. election can be interesting. Almost like a festival. Sometimes contentious. And more so when two unpopular candidates are vying for the Oval Office. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
So one day I sat down to read the news regarding the election. I read all there was to be said about Donald trump, his racism  and his insult on women. I read all about Hillary Clinton, her use of personal email server and of Benghazi.

In one particular article, I took time to read the comments posted by readers. Of Trump supporters defending his plan to build the Mexican wall and dismissing his talk about women as what all men do. Of Hillary Clinton’s supporters saying that the email story was legless and that Hillary has already sat for hours before a Congressional committee and demolished all the Benghazi accusation. It was all interesting!

I do not remember the details of everything that I read on that day but one stood clear. At the end of the thread, an American girl after reading all the comments just wrote: “Don’t blow it, Hillary!” That is all I remembered.

I reflected on that sentence. It was full of meaning. Sometimes we do not need to say too much to convey our story. One sentence is enough. Like the sayings of the sages. Those immortal words that have outlived the centuries.

So what did she mean? She may have been saying that Hillary should not make any more mistakes. She may have been saying that she wanted her to win. She may have been saying that she wanted to see the first female president of the United States.

And as if Hillary heard her, she has been careful in making crafted speeches, wearing the right dress and smiling all the way. All well and good. “Don’t blow it, Hillary!”

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Write That Memoir!

"Where can I find sources to write my memoir?" That is the question that I have often been asked. But that is a simple question. There are four sources of materials for writing. In the case of memoirs, you are the source!

Tell the world about your life experiences at a particular time. And what sells is the "bad" news. Let's consider four of them.
Tell us about your "dirty" past life.  
Your readers will understand. After all, you wrote about it because you have repented. And come to think of it, everyone has a past. In Sorry, Not Sorry, Naya Rivera wrote how she enlarged her breasts and committed an abortion.

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 Write about a tragedy in the family that affected you. 

Everyone in the world is going through one sad time or the other so you have a ready audience. That is the story of Velma Jackson-Williams in Too Many Too Soon.

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Talk about a sickness that you have been battling with. 

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You should not be ashamed of that because everyone has one ailment or the other. And those suffering the illness are your ready audience. Jennifer Moore-Mallinos co-authored My Friend Has Down Syndrome.

Write about a lost memory.

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Is there something or someone that you missed very much? Talk about it in your memoir. After all, we all have fond memories. Barack Obama did it in Memories from My Father.
So don't ask the question: "Where can I find sources to write my memoir?" You are the source. Write that memoir now!
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Thursday, 13 October 2016

"Here I am. I Never Left You!"

Three days later as she struggled for life, she spoke her last words to me: “Comfort, don’t ever leave me." I nodded. I was holding her. I didn’t want to cry. Then she died. Tears flowed freely. After one week, she was buried in the city cemetery. Wreaths of flowers covered her grave which was marked with the words: “Here lies one who waits upon the lord.” Darkness fell on the cemetery. And we went home to mourn our beloved Hope.

I worked for Hope as an attendant being a nursing-school student. I was taken aback when I first saw this woman living inside a tank called a respirator.

At first, I could not bring myself to ask her how she came into this. As time went by, however, we became familiar and talked freely together. Then one day when her husband came to see how she was doing, I asked the question directing it to no one in particular. I thought that her husband would provide the answer, but instead, it was Hope that started her story.

“One black winter morning in 1948—thirty six years after I was born in Los Angles—I discovered that I was stricken with the deadly polio.” She swallowed hard and continued. "Things got bad quickly. From flu to paralysis and then to the hospital where I added up to several polio patients on the waiting list." She wanted to scratch herself but since she could not do it herself, she called my attention to it, which I did. And then she resumed her story.

“I was afraid. I thought that I was going to die. For I had to lie on my back on the floor of the crowded hospital waiting for an Iron lung. But it was long in coming. Breathing was hard. Then one day, I passed out. I did not know what happened afterward. Job will tell you the rest of the story.
“When Hope fainted, I didn’t think that she would come back to life again," the husband continued. "The doctors must have been some kind of magicians because after one week, my wife started to breathe again. And before long, she was placed in the next available respirator, much to our relief.
“These Iron lungs were at first thought to be a temporary invention—helping patients to recover—and breathe on their own later. But we discovered that the opposite was the case. Because these breathing machines were to become the permanent homes of many polio sufferers.
“Knowing this, I brought her home with the machine. And she has been living inside it for the past three decades,” he ended and left the room, trying to hide his tears. I tried to fight back mine too. I was trying to really understand what it meant to lie on one’s back in one spot for over thirty years!

Her faith in God kept her going through the years. She was a very devout Christian and she believed that her suffering was only for a time. And she firmly believed that if she dies, she will be resurrected to live again, pointing out what Jesus told Lazarus’ sister, Martha at John 11: 25 .

I must confess that I was not a Christian when I started working for her. She was the one who preached to me and converted me to Christianity. And that was what she did to numerous other curious passersby and strangers who came to see her. Instead of being encouraged, she was the one that encouraged her sympathizers; and her faith in the Bible made many to become Christians. She was always praying to God in behalf of herself and others; and despite her condition, she was full of compassion for people. In fact, her courage inspired all who knew her.

Hope’s only regret was in not being present at the wedding ceremonies of her two children. For she was in the respirator when the two teenagers became adults, married and had children. She only saw the wedding pictures.
In fact, it could be said of her that she  was a cat with nine lives. Because on top of this, she had an emergency appendectomy without anesthetic when her appendix burst, endured cancer, had major surgeries and chronic skin disorders.

But there is a time for every affair under the heaven. Even a time to live and a time to die. So one day she went for her seventh surgery. And after that she was removed from the Iron lung for the first time in 37 years, attached to a modern respirator using her tracheotomy, and placed on a hospital bed. She was not getting enough air. Fear gripped her. She knew she was going to die.

Twenty years have passed now. I have since then grown from a lady to a married woman with a family. Perhaps she has been forgotten. But I still visit the grave yard on every anniversary of her death to lay wreaths of flowers on her tomb.

Today is another anniversary of her death. And I take a bouquet of flowers to lay on my friend’s tomb. As I enter the cemetery, I raise my eyes toward the gate and I see the words of Solomon at Ecclesiastes chapter 1 verse 2: THE GREATEST VANITY! EVERYTHING IS VANITY.

I walk ahead to the marked tomb with the epitaph: HERE LIES ONE WHO WAITS UPON THE LORD. I lay my wreath of flowers on Hope’s tomb and sit to think of this loved one who suffered and died, waiting for the Lord.

 I dream of her last moments.“Comfort, don’t ever leave me,” she said to me as she struggled on her death bed. I held her hands, trying to fight away tears from my eyes. Her struggle became weaker and weaker. And then drawing a deep long breath, her eyes fixed on my face, she died. The hospital attendants wheeled her away to the morgue. And I thought that the world had ended. 

I was awoken from my meditation by a flash of lightning and the roaring of the thunder. I look up. It is going to rain. I gather myself and kiss goodbye to Hope as I hurry home. As I go, I remember her last words and I was ashamed that I was leaving my friend. On my way, I walk pass the tombs of the governor, the slave, the Indian and the war veteran—all vanities. I step outside the cemetery, look back and see those words again: THE GREATEST VANITY! EVERY THING IS VANITY. But I remember Hope used to talk of a bright future in paradise where sickness and suffering will be gone. I was encouraged. So life may not be in vain after all.

She took ill one black winter morning. My resolve now is to be faithful to God so that I will meet my friend during the resurrection in the coming new world. Then one bright summer evening we would gladly hold hands together as we walk through the gardens of paradise. And I will say to her: “I’m here, Hope. You see, I never left you!"

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