Author: Bilkish Vahed (page 1 of 6)


Just stand up and sparkle who you are, I’m thinking.

If some don’t like you, what to do. Not everyone can like you, not all of the time, anyway. Some never. This is good, how agonizingly bland would life be, if everyone liked you all of the time!

Just stand up and sparkle who you are. Nothing less will do. Nothing less will give you a sense of meaning, and pride, and satisfaction in this life.

Chocolate & Bugaboos

Moodily I stuff my mouth with one more piece of chocolate. Dark, luscious velvet smooths my palette, slides easily down my throat. When the last hint of sweetness is no more, I’m left hanging.

Slumping gloominess besets me this evening. 

Nothing’s happened, nothing in particular. Nothing and everything has triggered this hollowness. 

Sit down quietly on the couch, I counsel myself, be still.  But sitting doesn’t turn off the internal prattle: Don’t forget to buy electricity. Don’t want to be caught in blackness now, do you? What was A’s sarcasm about this morning? He’s so slippery, so loud, so hurtful. Must call my mother before it’s too late. Suddenly piercing through the chatter, a bizarre thought takes hold of me with supple clarity.

“You know that feeling of euphoric release,” it says to me, “when after a period of constipation – even just a day – you finally are able to unclog the blockages and let go? You know that feeling of delicious release?”

“Yeeess, “I say suspiciously. 

“Well that’s all that’s needed right now. Just let go.”

Oh no dammit, I think, not that puerile wisdom!

“Let go of what?” I demand.

“Everything. Nothing. The grey clouds. Just let it go.”

“No, no, no, nooooo,” I retort loudly, “fiddlesticks!”

“Yes, yes, yes, just let the bugaboos go.”

“The bugaboos?”

“The bugaboos, the goblins, monsters, vexations, discontents. Look from a different angle. Try it, you may surprise yourself.”

And in that precise moment it envelopes me. A ginormous, roaring, guffaw of laughter comes bellowing all around me, and through me. I don’t know what’s brought it on, how its caught me in its merriment, but I feel a lifting sensation.

Nothing tangible that I’ve let go of, I marvel. Just for a moment was distracted from the days dissatisfactions, and felt the shift in mood. The easing of that tense striving that haunts our modern lives. Not so difficult really!

As for euphoric release? Well, why don’t I let you decide about that!

Facing the Frontier

When I was 40, and 45, and even 50, I used to think about life as ending at 60. Beyond 60 was a kind of hinterland that I had no thought to consider. Living beyond was a blank.

But now, just two and a half years away from 60, I’m peering into a distance that is no more far flung. I stand at a frontier and I’m watchful. 

In this navigation-less journey, I have no way of assessing how far I’ve come, nor how far I’m meant to go. Go where?

Of late, I’ve been mesmerised and appalled, watching myself in a continual rush. Rushing to get to the office in the morning, rushing to deal with stuff required to meet deadlines, steeling myself against the onslaught of every day dramas that arise because they do. Rushing home at night, tired, sometimes drained, not to relax and rejuvenate, but simply to feed and wash and sleep. Where am I rushing to?

I stand at the frontier, and I’m watchful.

An Old Crush

When I was nineteen, I had my first crush on a real man. Before that there’d been heartthrobs – John Wayne, Donny Osmond, Clint Eastwood, Mr Rochester. Heart throbbing was that delicious sensation of insatiable longing for the unobtainable. A crush involved a real man.

Nobody says, “crush” any more. So passé. Nobody confesses to infatuations anymore. Nowadays, women and men don’t skulk in the shadows. Pursuing desire, knowing what you want and reaching for it, is the expected way. But then today’s social dance towards intimacy is a whole other conversation.

So I fell deeply into this crush for T, a young man a few years older than me, gorgeously handsome. Every woman in my family, and friends agreed on that point – he was truly dishy. They all sussed that I felt more for him than I ever, ever admitted to. 

I was not shy, not retiring in manner, but when it came to flirtation and seduction, I was as switched on as a door mouse. He was suave, cool, beautifully turned out, but never talkative, not to anyone. He affected me. I would inwardly quiver if he came anywhere in my general direction, feel wobbly, squirmy. 

As I reflect on this nearly four decades later, what I omit to tell you, the crucial part of this narrative is that I never spoke to him. Not once. Never. Though others tried to pave the way for us to connect, we never did.

But why dredge up these memories now, you ask, all these years later? Thing is, I met him again. In a shopping centre we bumped into him, my sister and I, and they began chatting. I said hello, smiled, then listened and looked, and felt.

He’s still handsome, but heavy now. Hearing him converse was listening to a stranger. I strained, my inner tendrils reached and arched and sought, but landed on nothing. Nothing stirred. He touched nothing in me.

Had he felt anything for me – lukewarm or ardent – all those years ago? I’ll never know, and it can’t matter. But the malaise of my nineteen year old self, her confusion and strangling reticence give me pause. And though it sounds glib, I know, not drenched in psychological complexity, I suspect that what kept her choked up in silence before this man, was her entrapment in an overweight body. I was fat then.

It’s extraordinary really. But when the body is shut tight, then seduction, seduction is an impossibly closed book.

Anger & its Mysteries

I overslept. Kept waking and dozing, then waking and dozing again, until finally I jumped out of bed and, as one does, reached for my phone and opened a mail from a colleague. As I took in the words, a hot stream flushed through my body, filled me. A second later – there’s always a slivered lapse of time in my discernment – I realised that what was flooding me inwardly was the feeling of anger.

Anger is a shifty sensation.

It always surprises me, like the arrival of an unexpected guest. My frustration with my colleague was about the difficulty of pinning down details, getting her to understand the specifics and particularities of the product that we are making together, the frustration of clarifying, fine-tuning, and enlisting her support. But anger, anger is personal. I’m irritated and frustrated with my associate as we sort things out. But my anger is not about anyone else, it’s about me.

There’s this woman, you see, who lives inside me, just under my skin, looking out from my eyes. This woman, who keeps me on the straight and narrow path of my own desires and dreams. When she rises, she rants: Do you need to remain embroiled in this situation, this relationship? Have you forgotten that you’re never trapped, never stuck, that you are always the master of your own change, big and small?  Do you want change here? Hmm? Then let’s do it! 

In the wake of anger comes a clearing, a reconnection with my Self, lightness.

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