November Rain

The November rain lashed down. Angry, aggressive.

Maria hated the retreating monsoons – they made her feel like she was drowning deeper into the lonely ocean of despair. Icy, cold, struggling to keep afloat with waves choking her as she gasped to find her way up.

But she saw no way. No direction to manoeuvre out of the sinking world she lived in. 20 years of marriage and she went deeper into hopelessness. She tried to think how it had gotten to this stage, but her mind was a mess.

Over the years it had become a living nightmare that spiralled without even much consciousness. Her husband Akhil had turned from that gentle soul into an angry, abusive man. To everyone else he was the finest, gentlest soul. But in the privacy of their home he morphed into volatile, manipulative monster. If Maria conformed and took his verbal abuses and insults there was a bit of calm. But if she tried to voice her opinion or even utter a word, the storm would erupt, throwing her deeper into the abyss. The water had become dirty, smelly like sewage. 

Choked with the oppressive air weighing down on her, Maria sat in silence, watching the slanting rain lash against the window. Tears streaming down her face. The rain drops against the window blurred through her tears. She didn’t even know why she was sobbing, but it was a release from the tightness in her chest.

Akhil wandered into the verandah. He saw Maria sitting in the dark all alone. 

Now what’s wrong with you? 

Nothing, she said, trying to stop her tears. 

Then why are you crying again? Maria could sense his temper flare.

What do you “want”? Akhil asked, angry, yet helpless and pleading. He could never understand why she felt this way. He saw no reason for her misery.

They had grown apart – once lovers, best friends – now two strangers living under one roof. One a circus trainer and the other a docile animal who winced every time the trainer raised the whip. It was all about masculine control. Maria’s head was crowded with a thousand answers as to what she “wanted” – she wanted her breath back, she wanted peace, happiness, gentleness, soft words, patience, appreciation, love, intimacy, sex – God knew her void which was gaping open with a raw gash that only she could see. She let the tears flow down her cheeks as Akhil watched her in rage – a rage that mortified her.

A narcissist never acknowledges his behaviour. He would never understand his victim. He was helpless in his rage, yet he would always use victimhood and manipulation to make her feel as if she was the cause of this toxic situation, simply to gain power over her. It was always her fault – in any situation. Maria had broken down completely. Her self esteem, her self worth, her desire to laugh, her innate aliveness. She was so scared of his unpredictable anger that she had to watch her facial expressions, her posture, her tone whenever she spoke. If they were not docile, Akhil would burst into irrepressible rage and torment.

The emotional abuse, the taunts, the constant denial of his behaviour after an outburst, the lies – Maria was done with it, exhausted from overthinking, fear and often crying herself into the pillow night after night. 

I want out, she said softly through the tears. 


I want out. I want to leave.

Akhil was silent. The rain beat down even more, as if to intensify the tension between them. Maria waited for his response but there was none.

If he said a loud ‘yes’ would she feel the weight lift off her chest? Would it free her from being his victim? Would she have the courage to leave and start a new life all over again? Would she, for the first time in many years, breathe and rise to the surface of the water again. 

Hope, a flower & me

I drive through the canopies of purple, down the winding hillsides.

I stop to watch the Jacaranda blooms sway in the breeze, some dropping gently on the road in front of me.

I wish that a solitary flower would randomly land on my windscreen, as if hoping for a message, a sign.

That flower that fluttered onto my windscreen

It’s weird how we long for wishes to come true – placing that hope on a random bloom that flutters on the spring breeze – for moments out of reach, for a friend to heal from an illness, a piece of good news, a phone call, a message, a hug, for love that’s hanging midair!

Believing that what’s meant to be will always drift in the breeze and find its way towards me…

Hope, a flower and me!

Lessons from the Jacaranda

In February each year, the Jacaranda trees get noticed. Not for their beauty, but for their shedding of leaves everywhere.

The dead leaves take over my lawn, my driveway, and everything looks a mess. The trees start to look bare and ugly.

Early March we see tiny purple buds struggling to appear on the bare branches, almost like a painful metamorphosis to come into their own.

Come April, and the Jacaranda trees are bursting with flowers. They stand there like stars in an otherwise dull pageant, stealing every bit of limelight. They throw up a riot of purple all over the hills.

Their time in the sun is short, but they outshine every tree in the Nilgiris during this season. The blooms fall from the branches like a merry dance in the light April breeze., turning the ground into a purple carpet. It’s one of the most spectacular sights each year.

As we tread into May, these beauties are done with their magical spell, having let go of their blooms, turning bare once again. They recede into the background and painfully grow back their leaves over the next couple of months – their time on the centre stage is over – a reminder that nothing lasts forever, neither the season of bloom nor the difficult period of being stripped bare.

I love sitting under my Jacarandas, surrounded by purple. It allows me to still my restless mind. A time to surrender to the universe, learning to let things take their course.

The pain of stripping ourselves, shedding our leaves. The patience to go through a period of pain before bursting into bloom. The optimism in believing that nothing lasts forever, not even the baring of our souls. For with the effort of growing those buds and nourishing them comes the immense pleasure of taking over a landscape and even the skyline. It makes me believe that its worth the downtimes, worth the wait, worth the heartbreaks and often tears when we emerge into our vibrant selves.

Acceptance comes to us in strange ways. For me it comes when I sit on my carpet of purple, in the stillness of a quiet corner of my garden.

The benefits of nature walks for our minds

We live in an age where almost everyone around us is anxious and stressed, be it adults or teenagers or children. The pressure to achieve and outperform, the need to fulfil the endless desires that we have, the numerous distractions around us, the addiction to gadgets and the constant need for validation from social media – all these lead us to overthink and shut down our positive emotions. Little wonder that depression is on a rapid rise and stress has become a global epidemic. Most of us live with anxiety on a regular basis.

Wandering into a forest or the woods in order to slow down and tune into our emotions is a great way of healing ourselves from stress, anxiety and mental disorders. ‘Ecotherapy’, the idea of connecting with nature to focus on our well-being is popular in many parts of the world. The Japanese prescribe “Forest bathing’ or “shinrin-yoku” – taking in the forest through our senses. It is a way of opening our senses to the natural world. Immersing ourselves in nature elevates our mood and even boosts the immune system, according to research. More and more people are resorting to the healing power of nature.

The sounds in the forest, the textures on the forest floor, the fallen leaves, the gentle breeze and rustling of branches, the brushing of leaves against our skin,  the chirping of birds and the occasional sound of a rippling stream … all these are therapeutic. They help us slow down our over-thinking minds and help us connect with our roots. 

Sit for a while under a tree – breathe, be mindful… and notice the ease with which we can change a stressful emotion to a more positive, self compassionate one. 

Try it. Renew yourself!