Thriving Mindfully

Author: Sreenath Sreenivasan (Page 1 of 27)


The walk back home from school was Lola’s time for discovery. The faintest of bird calls would send her eyes in search of the winged crooner. A kite fluttering on a high branch would slow down her footsteps. A puddle on the roadside was an invitation to craft a paper boat, and the scent of flowers would swerve her footsteps towards the pink perfumers.

But today, her curious search was of a different kind. Her teacher had taught her all about different be kinds of shapes.

Round, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond shape, star shape, heart shape…

As homework, the teacher had asked her to notice things around her home. The next day Lola had to tell the shape of her favourite thing at home to the whole class.

So, on her walk back home, all she was trying to notice was the shape of things around her.

The sunflower by the road side invited her eagerly. How she loved the bright yellow sun flower. How it smiled back cheerfully at the shining sun.
But what is the shape of a sunflower? She wondered.

It wasn’t square for sure.
It wasn’t a circle. It looked like a circle. But it wasn’t exactly a circle for sure.
None of the shapes taught at school matched the shape of the scented sunflower.

Lost in thoughts, she looked up in the sky to notice a flock of sheep floating amid the clouds.
Ah, a sheep shaped cloud!

‘Is sheep a shape?’ wondered Lola.

‘Ah and there’s a rabbit behind the sheep.
Is rabbit a shape too?’ Granny must know, she thought.

Ambling on slowly, she reached near her home. Lola’s little pup named Plato had smelt its way to her. Lola giggled and patted a longing chum. Plato wagged his tail with loving enthusiasm. She wondered, what’s the shape of Plato’s tail?

“It’s not a straight line. It is curvy. But what is this shape called? Half a moustache?
It is similar to my pigtails! But is pigtail a shape? Maybe Granny would know.’

She opened her lunch box and shared the half paratha she had saved as usual for Plato. She loved the wet touch of Plato’s tongue on her little fingers. She wondered if the touch me not plant felt the same when she glided her fingers on it.

Watching Plato eat made her happy. It also made her hungry.

‘What would Granny have made for her evening snack?
Could it be a triangle samosa?
Or a round Dosa?
A square cake?
A diamond shaped Burfi?
A Circle shaped Idli?’

All of her food fantasies had a shape all of a sudden!

With Plato leading the way as a faithful friend, Lola climbed up the stairs to her home. Plato’s nose reached for the slot underneath the door. His tongue wagged with ferocious intensity. He could smell cardamoms, and almonds, and pistachios. The look in Plato’s eyes told Lola that the snack had something to do with milk. Lola didn’t have to knock the door. Plato let granny know they were home with that familiar bark.

Granny opened the door. A whiff of condensed milk came streaming forth. Granny ruffled Lola’s hair as Plato jumped, longing to be treated the same. After a quick change and wash, Lola raced to the dining table.

A cupful of Kheer waited for her. A crust of shredded almonds and pistachios held the warmth of the dessert. The aroma invited Lola to dig in. She watcher Plato slurp his bowl clean in seconds.

‘Plato likes it Granny!’ she shouted to her Granny working in the kitchen.

‘And how about you?’ asked Grandma.

Lola took a spoonful of Kheer in her mouth. Her eyes shone bright and her brows arched up like a rainbow.

‘Ifts the befft Granny,’ she said with mouthful of kheer.

‘Granny, what’s the shape of Kheer?’

‘The shape of what?’

‘The shape of Kheer,’ announced Lola.

Granny let out a big laugh.

‘Lola my dear, today the Kheer is the shape of your little tummy.’

‘My tummy?’

‘Yes, once you drink all your Kheer, it will be the shape of your tummy!’

‘Really?’ asked Lola munching on shreded almonds.

‘Yes, indeed.’

‘And, Granny…’

‘Yes, Lola.’

‘What is the shape of clouds?’

‘The shape of clouds…hmm…the shape of clouds is imagination.’

‘And what’s the shape of Plato?’

‘The shape of Plato? What’s with all this inquiry about shapes? Did you learn this in school today?’

‘Yes, Granny. We have to notice shapes of things around us. And…and we also have to tell the shape of our favorite thing at home to our teacher.’

‘Okay. Now I get it. Well, go around and find for yourself!’

‘Yeff,’ said Lola with another spoonful in her mouth.

All evening, with Plato running around her, she looked all around her house to notice the shape of things.The wall clock in the front room was round. But the clock in the kitchen was square. Plato’s eyes were round, so were Grandma’s bangles. Her notebooks were rectangle, so was the baking tray…But none of these qualified as her most favourite thing.

Late in the evening, she had a filling dinner with Granny and Plato. She had more of the dessert than the main course. Lola was full of Grandma’s special kheer.

Sleep tip toed into everyone’s eyes. It was time for bed, half an hour earlier than usual, thanks to the wholesome meal. Within moments Lola curled up in her Grandma’s embrace and fell asleep. Plato dozed off next to the bed. His tail finally found some rest. Granny too submitted to a good night’s sleep.

All three whistled a gentle snore from their noses as they slept.

The watchman struck the road with his walking stick, assuring vigil throughout the night.
The sound woke Lola briefly,

‘What is your shape Grandma?’

‘My shape?’


‘I am the shape of love.’

‘Ah…so…I will tell my teacher….my favourite thing is my Granny and….. her shape is…’

The faint aroma of kheer still lingered in the room. Plato yawned. Granny smiled. Lola fell asleep in a safe, loving embrace.

Does a rock have spirit?

Does a rock have spirit
Maybe not they say
Then why does a majestic mountain
Lift my soul away

Does water have spirit
Perhaps they say
Is that why a gurgling stream
Makes my soul sway?

Does fire have spirit
Nay! do they repeat
Then why does my soul
Buoy in the bonfire heat?

Does the wind have spirit
Yes there’s a chance
Is that why a breeze
Stirs my soul to a dance.

Some answers are beyond words
As wisdom is beyond wit
There sing those temple birds
Only spirit can awaken spirit

Then should we ever question
Whether an idol has spirit at all
Or should we ask ourselves,
Does the idol move our soul?

The music in silence

In our darkest hours

Past all the loud calls
for help from the outside,
Marooned in a quiet desperation
We look for strength
And pray
Without breathing a word.

In our darkest hours

Lost of hope for tomorrow
With a tear-blurred vision

We long for a sight
Past our plight
We close our eyes,
And pray
Hoping to see
A vision divine.

When we seek music
That’s pure and true,
We seek it
Being mute

When we seek a vision
That’s bright and clear
We seek it
Being blind

While the universe whispers
Every minute
Every moment
We drown it
In din
Day in
And day out.

Should we pity
The blind?
Should we mock
The mute?

Maybe they are just as desperate
For help
As we are
In our darkest hour

Or maybe,
Just maybe,
They meet the Truth
Beyond their blindness
Eye to eye
Every moment

Maybe they hear
Beyond doleful deafness
In eternal silence
A music divine.

Find Your Self Yourself

We live in times strange, of false claim
Of calling all we own with our own name

How far have we strayed from who we are
No we aren’t our jobs, we aren’t our car

A layer of garment that’s fit to size
Becomes a part of elegant lies

Until fickle fashion changes its way
And those perfect dresses are cast away

Isn’t it the same with that gadget too
How it brings you a thrill and becomes you

Until they come out with a newer range
And make you believe it’s time for a change

With changing trends, it only gets tough
When they say what you own isn’t you enough
And we retire our respect for all good reason
Lest we commit an economic treason

If your identity is determined by all the rest
Your power will be the easiest to divest
And if all this tamasha feels odd and absurd
The time is ripe to steer your course inward.

Beware of that hypnotic popular call
You feel momentarily big, but, forever small
Seek instead that priceless core
Set out, discover, and bring it to the fore.

It won’t be easy as all forces seek conformity
As your deviance is deemed a deformity
But follow you must, beyond all fuss
The undeniable light of your inner compass

And though you might wear an old-fashioned dress
And wield tools that might fail to impress

You will shine in glory, and get way far

In the journey of discovering who you really are.


There is a bird I’ve known for far too long
Only and only by its silken song
As much as I’ve tried to find her perch
I’ve ended up with a fruitless search

It sings melodies like a bamboo flute
While picking and eating berries and fruit
A nameless friend that brings such joy
Yet I know not if it’s a girl or boy !

But one fine day when it stopped singing
My voice, my words, they went missing
For all the penmanship, everything I wrote
Was a quote of the birdsong note for note

With a longing ear, its song did I seek
I waited for a sign many a week
In agony I wondered ‘Did I lose my muse?’
And in mourning I penned down my blues.

With that outpouring, painful and tragic
Emerged an element of elegant magic
I heard its voice note for note
The bird sang the blues I just wrote

It said, I am sorry to have disappeared
I grew afraid of thoughts you too feared
Was my spirited song, a daily drivel
Was there meaning at all in tales I tell?

Bird, I told, you are timeless art
Each of my word is a dipping dart
Aimed at pinning the essence in your song
The pursuit of all artists all along

As bright as you imagine my feathers to be
Your words are light that invite me to see
The silent surrender to art in pursuit
The beauty in song that’s beyond refute

And so we mirrored each other’s thought
Together did flow past the creative clot
We traded our thoughts as we must
And never argued about who stopped first

And we found a vision along with our sight
The bird sang aloud, fearlessly did I write
To tell tales in tandem became our resolution
And I named the nameless bird,

Smiles in the sky

There are times when I have got nothing to say,
And nobody to share that nothingness with.

The sun hides behind the clouds.
The rain falls, pitter-patter.
There sits a lonely dove on the cable
Awaiting someone.

I fly to that brooding bird
And proclaim,
All the truths she knows already

Again and again,
I speak
Of that feeling,
Of silently sauntering in the shimmering summer sun,
Of a restless retreat over raging rivers on a run
Of tumbling like a torpedo towards the tarmac turf
Of soaring in the sky on a slow, shy surf
Of the festive fervor in foraging for fruit
Of loving lentil left by the lintels to loot

Of picking the perfect twig for a nest
Of the relief in repose, of relishing rest

Of being in love yet being lonely
Of being lonely yet being in love

The curvy cable eavesdrops
On our candid confessions
Coated in collegial camaraderie

The wire weighs down with
the weight of two birds
It hangs low between posts,
As if smiling

The sun shines,
The rainbow smiles back
At the smiling cable
Upside down.

two birds
Fly away,
alone still,
Lifted in spirit
Melded in meaning

Buoyed by
Fleeting flirtations
Of those two

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