Skip to main content

Why Fear When I am here By Your Side?

The year is 1987. The place is Blantyre, Malawi in Africa.

A ten year old forlorn-looking girl sat by the school's pool side. Tears hover in her dark eyes, her chin trembles just a little and she looks defiant and defeated at the same time. 

If you look closely, you know that there is nothing remarkable about her features unless you see plain mousiness in new light. Her skin is the color of almond - slightly brown, neither too dark nor light. Her hair is a short mop of curls that you know cannot be tamed, just like her heart. 

Her father had bought her something for a school activity, telling her with utmost seriousness, "This costs a lot in dollars. Keep it carefully. Don't lose it. I don't think I have the money to buy you another one like this." 

On the very first day of bringing it to school, she had misplaced it and couldn't remember where she had last taken it. In her memory, she felt that it is by the pool. But she had looked all around the pool several times. It wasn't there.

She felt her heart break. She couldn't possibly go back home and tell her father that she had lost his gift on the first very day. How would he trust her with anything again? No, she wouldn't go home from school till she found it, she decided.

But what if she didn't find it? She felt worried and she thought "Krishna, why don't you help me please?"

She didn't really believe in Krishna the way others did - idolizing him and all that. She liked talking to him and sometimes, he talked to her too like two normal people talking. Krishna was more of a friend, an inner charioteer. You simply don't go around idolizing your friends, do you? You talk with them, you listen to them and you learn to keep their confidences and accept them the way they are. And in times of trouble, you expected them to pitch in and be there for you. At least, to listen, if nothing else.

She thought again "Krishna, I thought we are friends. Why don't you help me?"

Then she saw the flash of orange robe, Afro-colored hair. Nothing had ever prepared her for this moment. She didn't even like this person whose picture was in her parents' prayer room. And now, he had followed her to school? How gross!

She decides to ignore him. But he sits next to her. She notices that the edges around her where he sits is wet but his robe doesn't get wet. How does he do that? It makes her curious.  

He has a very gentle voice, it soothes her frayed nerves when he asks her "I am listening. Talk to me."

She looks at him in irritation, "I have nothing to say to you."

He smiles. "I know you don't like me. You don't even smile at me when I am at your home. Why are you angry with me always?"

She is startled by the question and says, "I am not angry with you. But I don't want you in my home or in my life, that's all."

"Why not? I have come especially for you." He replies.

The way He says 'Especially for you' makes her sit up straight. No one has ever said that to her before. Is this funny man making fun of her like others?

"Do I look like I am joking?" He looks seriously into her eyes. "Didn't I come here just now for you? Look, I want to help you."

"Why?" She asks defiantly. "We aren't even friends."

He laughs. There is a musical quality to his laughter. 

"So lets start at the beginning then. Can I be your best friend?"

It is her turn to laugh now. "We aren't even friends. How can you decide on your own to be my best friend?" 

He thinks about it and says, "I never decide anything for anyone. I ask them, give them several choices and they decide but when their decisions go wrong, they tend to blame me for giving them the opportunity to have chosen in the first place."

The ten year old girl looks baffled. What is he saying? Nothing makes sense to her.

His face is shaped like the moon, his eyes are full of light and laughter. When he smiles, it is as though the world is full of light and sunshine. There is a dimple in his cheek. She likes people with dimples.

The orange robed monk tells her then, "I want to be your best friend because I want to listen to you talk. I promise not to judge your choices or give you any advice. I know you don't like being judged or given any advice." 

Now she is startled. How does he know these things about her that even her parents and teachers don't understand about her?

"I came for you. I know everything about you and I always want to know more of what is happening in your life as you grow up. I don't want anything from you. I have come to give, not take. I have come to listen, not talk or preach. I am simply always there for you and I want you to understand that." The orange-robed monk does not sit close to her, there is an arm's length distance between them but when he looks into her eyes, she sees the Sun in its depths. 

For the first time in her life, she feels the warmth of safety around her, like a cloak. It feels real, this  strange cloak.

"I also know that the way you are feeling right now isn't just about that object you lost. It's about how this school and the students make you feel about yourself. They make fun of you because of your color, your hair, your language and your nationality. They make it difficult for you to breathe this air or walk the grounds here. You are afraid. You are unhappy. You need a friend you can trust." Then he pauses and says something that no one has ever told her before. "The worst bit is that you believe you are plain, unintelligent and unable to impress those who matter." 

Tears are flowing down her face now. She is appalled he knows her so well. How does he do that?

Then he tells her, "I am not saying this to bribe you into a friendship with me. But you are my daughter. I will protect you like the eyelids protect the eyes and it is my duty to fight your battles when you are vulnerable. Why fear when I am here with you by your side? So I give you three blessings. Listen carefully.

First: As you pass through each year of your life, you will look more and more radiant and be admired for how you speak and carry yourself in the presence of people who matter - the decision makers - because you will begin to reflect Me in your thoughts, words and deeds. The day you become arrogant or egoistic about it, I will cease to be there for you.

Second: Do not ever fight with anyone unless it is a matter of Dharma. When you fight a battle, I have to step on that battle field for you. That isn't fair to the other side is it because they don't know I fight your battles? Because where I step in, victory is always mine. I don't ever want you to misuse this blessing.   

Third: Whenever you want to see me or speak to me, I shall be there for you always and even when you are wrong, I will be by your side because you are My child. That will never cease even if we stop being friends."

He gets up swiftly, touches the top of her head briefly in blessing and then he's gone.

She stares at the vacant space that had been earlier bright with the orange colored robe. She feels a strange sense of peace around and within her.

It's time to go home now. She gets up. She knows now she has dreamed all this - the funny man in the orange robe, the promise of friendship and all that.

As she stands up, ruffles her crinkled uniform and is about turn, she sees that object she had been looking for all along throughout the day.

It is on the very spot where the monk in the orange robe had been sitting and talking with her.

All she feels, in that moment, is an echo of his words, "You are my daughter. I will protect you like the eyelids protect the eyes and it is my duty to fight your battles when you are vulnerable. Why fear when I am here with you by your side?"

She grabs that object, runs back into the school premises from the pool side and as she is on her way home, she feels giddy, happy and a sense of confidence for the first time that her life is about to change forever. It did. 

And the three blessings He bestowed on her continue to protect her.

Comments

Vishnu said…
Thank you for sharing this story, Swapna - so touching and written with so many vivid details.

Love the "flash of orange robe. Afro-colored hair" line - so very remarkable of one person only.

The three blessings from our spiritual teachers can be enough to get through any major up or down in life: presence, support, and spiritual friendship.

No fear needed when you have this kind of a divine presence guiding you and standing by you.

Lovely and well-written post.
Asha said…
beautiful post, Swapna. stay blessed:)
Aravind B said…
Very beautifully crafted story.... Brings alive so much love and joy in the heart.

Just felt that the story could be developed over 2-3 parts. That way, the monk's words of wisdom would have better chance of sinking into the reader as well as the little girl...

And we readers would have got more of the beautiful episodes to read about! :)

Thank you for this piece...
R. Ramesh said…
oh hii. yday i struggled to post a comment on your blog..sorry I could not be in touch for sometime..am gearing up for am important, happy family event in feb..dear blog friends like you are always in my mind..thanks for all the encouragement:)hi to fmly esp super junior..
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
@Vishnu - Totally enjoyed reading the way you have so beautifully summed up the gist of this post. Thanks so much for reading and commenting here too.
@Asha: Thanks so much, Asha. Wishing you all of God's abundant blessings too.
@Aravind: Heartfelt thanks and sai ram, Brother Aravind. So overwhelmed to read your feedback and I liked your suggestion about developing a story like this spanning 2-3 parts. Looking forward to such constructive feedback from you for forthcoming posts as well.
@Rameshji - Such a pleasure to hear from you after ages. Will definitely convey to Sanand and Adi. Warmest regards to you, Akka and daughters.

Most Popular Posts

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 

[DO READ: The POWER OF LOVE]

Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Why love matters - Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh has an amazing insight to share!

What is love? It means different things to different people. 

Have you thought about it? Do read: POWER OF LOVE

The best way to understand 'love' is to reflect on what it means to you from deep within - soak yourself in the thought of what the word means to you. For a teenager, love is 'crush', for a young person, her boyfriend is her love, for a mother, love is the baby growing every day. For a spiritual seeker, God is Love. 

The idea of 'love' just sparks our curiosity - writers cannot stop exploring the nuances of love. Some of the most beautiful thoughts in poetry are about love. Artists bring to life the loss of wounds and heartbreaks in their portrayal of love. Nearly every film that we see amplifies the emotion of love through complex narratives and songs.


READ: Love means to see one you happy




FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST

But what exactly is love? Is it what we see on screen or read about in books?

Love has to be experienced first, right? But how do you know i…

Five ways to take charge of your anger

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Every day, the newspaper headlines are full of scary stories of people killing each other over trivial things - mostly these incidents happen when individuals lose their temper and turn violent. In traffic jams across Noida in the evenings, people don't hesitate to walk out and hit each other.  At workplaces, colleagues lose their temper and say things that they regret later. During holidays with loved ones, small things set us off and we say things that damage relationships forever. No one stops anyone. Everyone likes a big, bad fight. It's great to vent. After all, what's the big deal about getting angry? After all, if you cannot express what pisses you off, how can you call yourself human? 


Does anger solve your problems? You know the answer!

If anger solved all the problems in the world, this world would have been a perfect place centur…

Book Review: Nan Umrigar's Sounds of Silence, A Bridge Across Two Worlds

The year 1978 was a glorious one for Karl Umrigar – a young man who won many prestigious horse races, including the Indian 2000 Guineas and the Indian Oakes. Finally, Karl Umrigar fulfilled his dream – every jockey’s dream– to win the Indian Derby. His name remains in the Indian Derby scroll of honour. 
But just at exactly the moment Karl won, he fell from the horse.  A fall that finally saw the country mourn for him when the headlines of the Indian Express read, “The King is Dead.” Karl Umrigar, the young champion and loved by many, was laid to rest on May 3, 1979.
Karl Umrigar’s Death: Bridge between Two Worlds You can imagine what Karl’s death did to his family, particularly his mother – Nan Umrigar. She says, “Nothing could have prepared us for the darkness that descended upon us – nothing!
While her family tried to pull on with daily routine, Nan Umrigar found herself in such a state of agony and trauma that she couldn’t resume a normal life. She couldn’t let go of her son.
She heard…

A Dad's advice to the daughter he loves: Be yourself, remember you are special and treasure your strengths

Just a week ago, Dad gave me a very emotional pep talk at the Bangalore airport. The good thing is that whenever I feel emotionally vulnerable or stressed out, I replay Dad's conversation. It lifts me up and instantly brings a huge smile to my face. That's my Dad - yeah! 




As a teenager, Bangalore used to be one of my favorite cities though the garden city was not as ''global'' and ''vibrant'' as it is today. It was a pretty cool place to go shopping for stylish accessories, not that I could splurge and go crazy with shopping but I could do so on a limited budget. So, I used to look forward to our summer trips to Bangalore, from where we would head out to Whitefield. 

The busy, broad streets, the scent of street food and the vibrant atmosphere had always perked me up every time I reached Bangalore. Be it heading to Puttaparthi or Whitefield, my parents and I have traveled to Bangalore so many times that it became a kind of ''routine'…

What is true knowledge? Dada Vaswani's teaching on knowledge offers a valuable lesson!

These days, everyone is an 'expert' on a given topic and this is most evident on social media.  From make up to nutrition to every topic under the sun including coffee, wine and herbs, there are experts on every social media platform. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it can prove helpful in your quest for knowledge but sometimes these are misleading as well. Not all that shines is gold, remember? So how do you figure out the mark of a person with knowledge as compared to those who proclaims it the rest of the world?
Here is a wise quote from Ruzbeh N Bharucha's book, 'Conversations with Dada Vaswani' offers us a powerful insight about knowledge and what it means.
[MUST-READ: Sage Tiruvalluvar's Golden Advice on Friendship]

                               FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST
Sadhu Vaswani, who is much loved and revered as a spiritual master, shares the crux of what knowledge stands for. True - there is no wisdom greater than this.

Hey Jude movie review: Nivin Pauly and Trisha shine their magic in this feel-good, heartwarming entertainer

Acclaimed director Shyamaprasad's latest movie starring Nivin Pauly (as Jude) and Trisha (as Crystal) is a heartwarming love storyof two completely different individuals who find a rare bonding of friendship with each other, helping the other to deal with the distinct quirks in personality. The story also touches upon a very important aspect of human life - no human being is perfect and it's okay to be different and quirky but you also need to find a support system and practical ways to overcome it.


                                                    [Image: Hey Jude Facebook Page]

Jude is different but he still makes you laugh
From scene 1, you can sense that Jude is different from other men of his age - his reactions are slow, unpredictable and borders on immaturity unless it has something to do with the topics that interest him - for example, marine life or oceanic pollution. There is nothing laughable or frivolous about Jude but this is exactly where Nivin Pauly's portray…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…