Tender age, Profound expressions
TGILF launches Triumph of Learning, an anthology for the young ones by the young ones
THE DREAM CATCHER
Life is a big jigsaw puzzle!” she exclaimed.
As a child, she had been an ace at solving jigsaws, but this jigsaw haunted her. She looked at herself in the mirror. “Who is on the other side of the mirror?” she thought. “How can it be me? The girl on the other side is clad in a veil of darkness and low self-esteem. I was never like that. It’s not me! It’s not me!” she shouted.
An aspiring creative artist, Myra aged 30, was going through a rough patch in her life. Recently divorced after one year of a traumatizing marriage, she was sitting at her home, having a plethora of aspirations but no job. Her situation amused her. It was like being ensnared in a labyrinth, unaware of where the wretched paths would lead. The more she tried to solve the convoluted maze, the more she got entangled. Her mind was entrapped in darkness. Of late, darkness had become her best friend.
The feeling of liberation had not struck her, courtesy the “marital bliss” of one year. Every morning (read night, at the crack of the dawn she would sit on her bed, aimless, like a vagabond. She found her situation comical at times. It seemed like life had given her an exhilarating bungee jump. How invigorated she had felt one year before, all pepped up for her marriage, but little did she know that instead of rendering her with warmth and love it would leave a dent on her life which was taking exceedingly more time to heal. She went to take a shower, in the hope to cleanse her mind of all negativity plaguing it, but like every day the water intertwined with her tears and she was left drenched in an amalgamation of sentiments and thoughts all vying to come out in the open. Friends “L 22 and family did provide oodles of consolation of how everything would be fine and how time would blunt the pain of her problems but Myra knew that it was not happening.
She had lost her father to cancer five years ago. Since then, life had been tossing her around like a rag puppet. It was her father’s birthday today. All she was longed for, was his reassuring pat on her back and a warm hug saying “this too shall pass!” She remembered how her father had been an inspirational force in her life. He had been in the Indian Navy and since her childhood she had idolized him. She wanted to be an exact replica of him, fearless and audacious in following her dreams. She pursued a course of textile designing from a reputed institution and dreamt of touching a million lives through her art. But at this moment she could not gather the shattered pieces of her soul and think straight. She donned one of her father’s shirts and came out of the shower.
Immediately her eyes went to the dream catcher hanging on the wall. It was a present from her father on her 18th birthday. It was intricately made with feathers and net. She remembered that her father had told her the significance of dream catchers in Native American culture. They ensured good dreams for infants while the vicious dreams got trapped in the dream catcher and taken away with the morning sun the next day. However, 23 dreams are inside the catcher, they entangle with its feathers and gain flight.
But remember, the dreams have to be pursued passionately”. She took the dream catcher and felt a force tugging her towards the garden. She went outside and vented all her thoughts, feelings, passions and desires. It was like a fountainhead of emotions, buried in the innermost recesses of her soul, all coming out at once. She tossed the dream catcher continuously just the way her father had told her.
She thought about how she had always been groomed to be a fighter and not let people or situations put her down. Her ultimate aim in life was to reach out to people and tell them that art and creativity have amazing healing powers. It felt as if the touch of the dream catcher connected her with her father and gave her a purpose in life. Today for the first time, after so long, she felt at ease with her own self. She looked at the pole star shining in the early morning sky. The sun was still not out. With moistened eyes, looking at the star she said, “Happy birthday Pa! You have rekindled the lost hope.” She knew what to do next. Since her childhood the hills and its people had always fascinated her. The thought of the lush green and the cool breeze. She packed her bag and carefully fitted the dream catcher in one corner and headed for Manali.
All her dreams were entrapped in the catcher. She could not afford to lose them. “I will come back rejuvenated and start my life from a fresh slate” she said to herself. Little did she know that this trip would be life changing. Every day in Manali was like a story unfurling. She was on her own with no inhibitions or fears in her mind. She wanted to be all by herself, not think of anything specific and stupefy herself with the hills and their charm. “There is some magic about a mind devoid of any thoughts. The feeling of lightness is incomparable” she pondered. One morning she was sitting by the riverside. Every stone she threw in the water, made a resounding noise, temporarily made a 24 depression on the surface of the river and then eventually sank.
An interesting analogy struck her. “What if all of us have a magnanimous personality like the river!” she said aloud. Like a river, our life is also a victim to many problems (read stones), these problems sometimes have a crushing impact on our life and also leave a depression on it, but this depression is often transient. Absorbing these problems and not letting them affect the course of our life is the most prudent thing a person can ever do. “What an analogy Myra!” she said to herself, beaming with pride. She was surprised because she was bad at philosophies and the stuff. But this one turned out to be phenomenal. It was already pumping her with a lot of hope. She observed how elegant was the gait of the river in spite of the gamut of life it was carrying with it, indicating that a person should also maintain composure and tenacity even in the thickest of moments. Her eyes were transfixed in amazement, as she gazed at the river. “WHOA! Nature is indeed the best teacher”. She watched the night sky, holding the dream catcher. “How beautiful are these stars” she sighed. The sky has so much in it, pollutants, dust, smoke, numerous particles but that does not mar the brightness of these stars.
The way those stars were exuding light and vivacity impressed her. She wanted to catch those stars with her dream catcher. She wanted to be like one. Nature was giving her omens to move on in life, to rise and shine. It was fabricating a beautiful message for her. The next morning as she was strolling on the road, she met a shepherd who was taking his sheep for grazing in a meadow which was a short distance from the place where Myra was staying. She greeted the shepherd in his local language. Myra had the knack for learning new languages and was a staunch follower of the dictumwhen in Rome, do as Romans do. “How many sheep do you have?” she asked the frail old man.
The man stared at her in amazement. No one had ever bothered to 25 even greet him, let alone ask him about his sheep. A wide smile spread across his face. “178!” he exclaimed. “There are 178 of them and my sheep are my life. They understand me so well.” The man was very eager to supply more information than he was asked for. Both of them strolled in the direction of the meadow. “So, do these sheep provide you with enough wool to earn two square meals?” Myra enquired. The shepherd paused for a moment. “They do. Enough to support my wife, two children and me.
There was a time when….” he paused. He did not want to stir old memories. After all, what could anyone do about his condition? Myra sensed his hesitation. “There was a time when, what?” she goaded him to complete the sentence. “Ah..!” He exclaimed, “There was a time when our cottage industry used to flourish. These sheep used to provide us with wool and we used it to make handwoven caps, gloves, shawls. The intricacy our pieces of clothing possessed! It was a skill, an art which had been acquired through long hours of practice. And then came our doom.” He paused for a second, cleared his throat and resumed. “Industrialization took a toll on our lives.
The industries with their sophisticated machines started producing artefacts and apparels, which were cheaper than ours. Slowly people started buying machine made products and we were left with our sheep. How amusing life is. We now merely supply wool to these people who have destroyed the sanctity of our revered art. We are just like these naïve sheep, tamed to follow any direction.” He took a deep breath. He rubbed his eyes so as to hide his tears. Myra consoled the shepherd and asked him to take her to his village. She wanted to have a bird’s eye view of what their art actually was.
She was welcomed by the shepherd’s wife who greeted her with a warm smile. After a careful scrutiny of all nitty gritty about their tools, weaving technique, folk art designs the kind of things they 26 manufactured, Myra knew what to do next. It was a humble meal of roti-chawal. The aroma of the clay tandoor and cheerful serving by the family satiated Myra to the core. She had witnessed such courtesy after a long time. At last the old man asked her, “So what are you going to do now?” Myra replied with a wide grin on her face, “Take a torch, find happiness for you and bring it to the confines of your house.” The man’s face brightened up, though he did not get her remark.
That day Myra was elated beyond limits. At a time when her own life was shrouded in shades of black and white she was ready to flood other people’s lives with luminosity. She knew that her own life would be transformed for better, in ways unknown. In the succeeding days Myra rummaged through every belt of Manali and interacted with villagers in the same predicament as the shepherd’s. Soon she began the hunt for a client who would be willing to market such products.
Luckily she found one client who wanted authentic hand woven woollen apparels. She sourced the raw material needed and trained all the villagers how to dye the woollen yarns with natural colours from vegetables, fruits and other plant parts in an eco-friendly manner. The whole team toiled day in and day out. Work started in full swing. At the end of the day Myra used to get exhausted but the shepherd’s remark about life taming him had pricked her conscience, she wanted to free hundreds like him from the shackles.
Soon she and her team of villagers, successfully delivered their first order that comprised of co-ordinated “green accessories” sets of ladies caps, gloves and socks in lace-weave and folk art motifs from Kangra valley. Her happiness knew no bounds when the items were a huge hit across all metro cities. After a long time she felt like a secure, independent woman. Secure, amidst her family, the villagers.
As days passed her clientele grew by leaps and bounds and demands poured in from different parts of India. Soon her organization, which she named “Khushi” 27 (happiness) became a full-fledged company, delivering happiness to all its customers and cocooning its employees’ lives with a sense of security and warmth. Myra had come home for a short time to meet her mother. One night during her stay she went to the garden and started tossing the dream catcher violently in the air. Seeing this her mother, who knew about the dream catcher, enquired, “My sweet girl, all your dreams have been fulfilled. You are a successful lady in every aspect and I swell with pride whenever I see you. What are you trying catch now?” “I have just one small desire. I want Pa back.
I want to show him how his girl has metamorphosed from a wobbly creature into a strong woman, and I want him to know that it has all happened because of him. I want his pat on my back. The reassuring pat.” She sat down, tearful eyes glinting at the skies. “Love you pa! My dreams have been caught."