The Pack Leader

I panted heavily as I reached the summit of the hill. The atmospheric tension bore down upon me as I looked down at the jagged rocks and smiled. They would soon be my last stop.

My cancer was killing me, albeit slowly. I wasn’t going to die the way it wanted me to- slowly, suffering in agony, begging for death, relief and mercy every step of the way.

Ever since I had lost Simba, it was as if I had lost the will to live. This hill held so many of our memories.

Dogs only recognise pack leaders. This was where I had subdued Simba when he tried to dominate me. I had grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pinned him down till he submitted willingly and accepted me as the pack leader.

I had led the pack of two faithfully and he had been a loyal supporter and follower till death did us apart. Today, I was standing at the doors of death, ready to fling myself off this hill and smilingly accept the reality which would only be delayed.

Before I could jump though, I remembered Simba’s expression of admiration and his absolute trust in my bravery, his disdain for cowardice and his respect for courage. That was when it hit me that by committing suicide I was running away. Running away meant that I was a coward.

I couldn’t be a coward. As a pack leader, I simply couldn’t afford cowardice. I had to lead and leaders had no option but to be brave and inspire their followers. Simba had placed his faith in me and I couldn’t break it by submitting to cowardice.

I backed away from the edge, sighing heavily. Once a pack leader, always a pack leader. Nobody told me what a tough job it was- to honour the memories of the dead.


I won’t hear his voice in the drawing room again. 

I used to go back home to hear him speak,

He used to keep my excitement at its peak,

I would eagerly wait for the stories he told,

Each a different theory foretold.
I never imagined our days were numbered,

I thought we would always be remembered.

Our fun filled moments- a proof of loyalty and our bond,

Shredded now, it had been torn. 
He would wait for me in the drawing room,

His face would light up out of the blue.

When he would see me coming towards him,

The dark evenings would no longer be dim.
Today he’s gone, there’s not even a shadow,

I remember the wonderful days as I weep with sorrow,

Time flew by faster than I could tell,

Now we are ringing the funeral bells. 
The one regret that my heart holds, 

Is the face I would die to behold,

Like a streak of lightning in the thundering rain,

It occurred to me that I won’t hear his voice in the drawing room again. 


You Cannot Win A Battle Without The Scars 

See the competition from the loser’s perspective …. 

Life is a battlefield and all of us want to be the heroes, the successes, the winners whom everyone admire. However, there can be only one winner. This philosophy – the everybody wins one is nothing but a consolation prize and we, the generally dissatisfied human species definitely find no consolation in it. 

Everyone wants to reach the stars. If they reach the stars, they want the moon. Next, they want the space, the planets, and then they want immortality. There is no end to our greed and needs and wants. Let’s accept it, nothing’s ever enough. 

Now, not everyone can win every battle. Most of us don’t win even one. Here is a way to live with it. To live with the fact that winning is important, but it isn’t everything. To live with the fact that some things, however few, are more important than material pleasures. To live with the fact that maybe our choices were wrong more often than not. 

Life is a battlefield and each challenge is a battle. Every wound is a sign of the hurt and the pain you have endured be it emotional or physical. You may laugh when you see the wound that was inflicted when you fell from the cycle when you were young. You may not remember what a big deal it was then. 

Just like the physical wounds on your body heal and strong new skin grows in its place, leaving just a scar behind, so do the emotional wounds heal. You rejuvenate and become stronger each time you’re hurt. Each wound is a scar and each scar is an experience which makes you wiser and stronger. 

Each scar, each wound- be it on your body, mind or heart- will always make itself felt. There is no way to avoid it. Time can only heal the wounds. It cannot make them disappear. You can resent the choices you make but you must learn to drink to the glory of your scars, to celebrate the gains and to let go of the loss. 

Don’t be afraid to face the small challenges and lose. Sure, the glory lies in the winning, but the proof lies in the scars that you get when you lose. Each decision may not be the best, each choice may not be the most suitable.
However, when you face the big and final battle, these scars will be your ultimate game changer. They will aid you when it matters the most and they will show you the right path when you need it the most. 

My friends, you cannot fight a battle without the scars. Without the experience, the shattering of failure – you cannot experience the joy of winning.
There is no win without some loss. You have to determine how much loss you are willing to make to get the ultimate and bigger gain. 

Try facing each challenge this way and one day you will definitely reap the rewards. There is no end to the battles life throws at you and the more you fail, the higher the chance that you will succeed in the next. 

When you win- mark my words- not IF, WHEN you win, the world will look up to you as one of its biggest successes, when you’ve probably faced more failures than the rest of them put together. And that, my friends, is where the irony of it lies. 


The Blind That Can See 

I was a 34 year old brilliant pianist when I lost my sight due to a terrible accident. I had just begun earning fame and name for my talent which had been polished and honed through years and years of hard work, efforts and patience. 
It was all thrown away because a drunk person got behind the wheel. I turned very bitter and miserable after that. I barely ate, I was a cranky gentleman and the only one who gave me solace was my dog. 

Her name was Oakley. She was a golden retriever and would often comfort me when sobs would wrack my body on an endlessly dark day, when time would stretch on into an eternity.

A year later, I heard music. Someone was thumping the keys on the piano, but there was no lilt and no tune to the music. It was just a mindless thumping and I slowly but surely, recognised each key and each note. 

I made my way to the piano and heard Oakley’s excited bark and the thump of her paws as she banged them again and again on the piano. Maybe she felt that since I had been happy when I had been playing, I would be happy if she played for me. 

I pushed her off the stool and sat down on it myself. I tried playing a tune, but to no avail. I couldn’t find the right keys and try as I might, positioning my fingers didn’t help. 

I gave a groan of frustration as I hugged Oakley to me and cried. In her desperation to rid me of my anxiety, she started pawing the keys again. I felt calm and at peace as I let the notes wash over me like waves. She played for me every afternoon. After a while, I started holding her paw to understand where each key was. 

That’s the way I learnt to play again. By remembering the position of each key and each note, by holding Oakley’s paw as she led me through the dark, I learnt to play and to live. I pay homage to the dog. She gave me a reason to live for once more 

Today they call me -The Blind That Can See, because I am a privileged man that saw a way to get back his life, his music and his passion even when he was severely handicapped. 


Wait for the masterpiece 

I cringed as I entered my home, the sickly sweet smell of paint going up my nose. I stared aghast, at my room mate, who had apparently been “inspired” at 8 in the morning, to “create”. 

Today seemed to be one of those days.I made my way to the kitchen with the groceries as she merrily yelled that she had found the inspiration for a masterpiece. I shrugged non commitally at that.
She suddenly stopped what she was doing and sat me down. She asked me,rather fiercely, why I didn’t consider painting to be an essential skill. She then told me a philosophy. She told me that painting was life and life was painting. The blank canvas was a new life which was just beginning. 

Just like each different colour has its own significant value, each experience in life also has its own significant value. No two strokes are the same, because each is made in a different emotion, by a different hand, for a different cause, just the way each deed we do is meant for a different purpose. 

She said the mistakes we make in life, are like the wrong colours, the wrong strokes on a canvas which can spoil a masterpiece. However, if one can rectify the “mistake” by making a new colour or using the stroke for a unique line, then it adds an individualistic tone to the same painting. Similarly, the mistakes we make in life don’t spoil our whole canvas. They simply give it an originality which it would have lacked otherwise. 

At the end of the tether, when we look back, we can see our own canvas of life and we can see the masterpiece we have painted. The important thing is to WAIT for that masterpiece. Everything happens for a reason. Each stroke, each colour, each design, each mistake- they all have their own significance which unfurls only with time. 
The day they fall into place is the day we look back at our lives with an unbiased eye. That’s the day we see the masterpiece of our life which we have created. 

The first thing I decided when she had finished that rant? I needed painting classes. Immediately. 


I found my heaven 

I groaned softly as I got up from the hard bench, raising my head to look at the police officer who pushed my food in through the walls of the prison cell. 

I winced as I felt the dryness in my throat and licked my lips trying to moisten them. I swallowed my food with difficulty, my beard prickling my cheek. Each second I could hear the uproar and the shouting that was going on outside. 

I was pulled roughly to my feet and dragged out of my cell to the execution centre, where the eyes of the executioner bored into me. The officers tried to be impartial but they couldn’t prevent the gleam of triumph that entered their eyes at the fate that I was about to suffer. 
One of them whispered in my ear that I would finally pay the price for my crimes and the souls of his relatives would rest in peace. 

I raised my shaggy head to look at the crowd which broke into an uproar and spat at me, incensed with rage. I heard the cries of the mothers who had lost their children. I felt the silent anguish of the wives who grieved solemnly for their dead husbands. My chest heaved with the anguish, despair and pain of so many people which weighed me down. 

You know the fact that upset me the most? I hadn’t done the deed. I hadn’t killed all these people and I didn’t deserve their hatred. The one who was responsible for these dastardly crimes was my own younger brother, a man with family and children. It was not something casual for me. There are some crimes which cannot be reversed. I did not and would not support relentless consecutive murders to satisfy blood lust. Death was too easy for him. 

I had taken his crimes upon my head so that my death would teach him the price that had to be paid for wrong doing. With a smile on my lips and contentment in my heart, I headed towards the executioner, feeling peace as he pulled the rope. 

The darkness engulfed me and the frantic heart beats came to a still slowly as I found an ethereal world of goodness, righteousness and humanity. I had found my heaven. But it wasn’t on Earth. 


Flaws Can Be Beautiful 

I sat at  my desk, sighing as I removed my back pack from my shoulder. I tied back my hair and took out my books waiting for the first class to start. It had been a month since college had started and the lessons were as boring as ever. It didn’t help that my best friend and partner was absent. I would’ve snoozed in all the lectures like usual, if something interesting hadn’t happened. 

That’s when she walked in. All eyes were riveted on her as she walked through the door. I gasped when I saw that she was completely bald. The teacher introduced her as the new girl. Many boys snickered unkindly when they saw her. I heard “Baldy” being whispered throughout the class and felt sorry for the new entry.

She seemed totally oblivious to the fact. She sat beside me without a word. Then, the teacher called for the nominees who wanted to become class representatives. All the kids shrunk in their seats, because most of us knew that the CRs were only bullied and picked on by the back benchers. I was shocked when she decided to raise her hand and registered herself as a nominee. I didn’t say a word. 

The next day, there was a debate between the nominees where each tried to prove that he or she was the best for the post. The girl, who had already been christened as “Baldy” by the whole class, soon got her chance. She ignored the cat calls and derisive laughs which followed her on to the Dias. Confidence seemed to be emanating in waves from her. She soundly beat each and every one of the other nominees in a battle of wits. The snickers and chuckles slowly turned into gasps of admiration as they realized the true talent which this girl possessed. She was indeed an unusually quick and fast debater, who could think on her feet and snap questions at the other candidates which they could hardly answer. 

After a hands down surrender from the other candidates she took up the post of CR and retired gracefully, as an undefeated champion,  amidst a burst of applause. She became my close friend because I admired her for her self belief. She never thought that she was substandard and incompetent. That’s where the secret of her self esteem lay. I learnt that she had got cancer and lost most of her hair due to intensive chemotherapy. She thought that she was lucky to get another chance at life and intended to use it to the full. 

Till date, people call her Baldy, especially the people she met during college life, but it is more out of reverence and respect that the name stuck. I learnt a very valuable lesson that day. Either you can be a prey to your flaws or your flaws can be your prey. That’s the choice which determines the difference between chicken and champion.    If you pounce on your flaws at the right time, they cease to be your flaws and become your identity, one you can be proud of. The world will perceive you as you perceive yourself. Most people hear this statement. She took it to the next level by actually implementing it. To this day, I salute those who can make their flaws so beautiful that they become a significant  part of their personality and their strength, instead of a weakness. Like Baldy told me- “you can’t change what you are. You can change how you think about it” A statement  never sounded so true.