Categories
Musings

A Ray of Hope


I took out the sketchbook from my cupboard, and began drawing. I don’t quite remember, why. I didn’t set out to draw anything in particular. Perhaps, I had just wanted to rediscover what it felt like, to put pencil on paper.

After about an hour, I felt happy with what I had drawn. I wrote down the date and time below the drawing, 27 November 2019, 9:30 PM – 10:30 PM. And then I went to sleep.

Pencil drawing
Setting the mind and body free

For several years, my sketchbook has been gathering dust in our cupboard. Why? Because I was afraid. Afraid that I would ruin a perfectly clean sheet of A3 drawing paper. That I’d draw something that was not worth showing to anyone.

That November night, I felt that I had achieved something. I had drawn something that looked half decent, and not ruined the sheet. And I slept soundly.

What I didn’t realise then, was that I slept happy, because I had let myself loose and enjoyed the process. I just wanted to draw. And the outcome, just happened to look nice to me.

This realisation hit me earlier this month, when I enrolled for an online sketching class.


For five days, I studied one-point perspective, drawing lines that vanished into the horizon. I spent several hours a day, trying to complete each of the assignments in time. Initially, I fretted over getting each of the lines neat and straight. By the time I had completed my twenty-fifth drawing assignment, I began worrying less about what the final outcome looked like. Completing the assignment, was far more important, than making it look perfect. And so, I just began enjoying the process by drawing freehand. I traced over the pencil lines with my pen, without using a scale.

I had removed the weight of expectation off my shoulder, and that left me feeling deeply relaxed.

With this newfound realisation, I reopened my sketchbook over the weekend, flipped over to that November sketch, and then did something I have never done in my life. I began erasing my drawing.


I erased the dark lines and the shading in between. But I left the faint outlines of the original in place.

I chose colour pencils from my kit — colours to represent nature: sun, fire, trees, wind and water. Then I slid open the blade of the cutter, and began shaving away the wood at the edges of my colour pencils. Each stroke peeling away years of dirt, negligence, and guilt.

And then, I let my hand run free. I ran a damp brush over the coloured areas of the drawing. A pastel shade drenched parts of the paper. A few blobs of water dried in place without blending in. I dipped the pencil tips in water, and let them run deep and dark, revealing each stroke. With each dip, the colour ran for a centimetre or two. In no time, the pencil tips shrunk. Another round under the cutter, and more of the colour lay exposed.

A few hours late into the night, and then a few more the next morning, and my drawing was complete.


I shared this picture on social media, and asked friends to provide a caption. Here’s a list of all the suggestions I received.

  • Sukriti (beautiful creation)
  • There is a rainbow of hope, life, vitality on our way…
  • Vapusa (nature, beauty)
  • Emerging path
  • Jeevan chakra (circle of life)
  • Ray of hope (suggested twice!)
  • The happy sun
  • Break the cycle
  • Circuit breaker
  • Liberation at any step

What surprised me, was that each of the suggestions revolved around nature, beauty, life, and hope.

These are the themes that we are collectively experiencing these days.


For perhaps the first time in our lives, we are living in uncertainty. All these years, we have been taking our lives for granted. We have tortured and exploited nature past its limits.

Now that large section of people are forced indoors, I am happy that nature has got a break from us. It had barely been a few days into the lockdown, that we all breathed clean air, saw blue skies, and even saw stars at night.


Earlier today, a weaver bird began building a nest in the balcony of my parents’ apartment! And what a day for this to happen.

Today is the 50th anniversary of World Earth Day.

Yes, our planet is a mess right now. Scientists have been ringing the alarm bells on climate change for years now, predicting that we are already too late to turn things around and make amends.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past few weeks, is that we have hope. Given a chance, nature can recover (and perhaps forgive us).

Here’s hoping you are safe and healthy.

Here’s hoping our planet remains safe and healthy.


More stories from other publications

Here are some stories I’ve written for different publications over the past few weeks, all related to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, how it’s impacted our life, and what we can learn about how to live sustainably in the future.

Design Tuesdays

The Virus Within

I’ve been looking at this scenario as an opportunity for companies to go fully remote. Most freelancers, including me, have not had to change our lifestyles much, as we’re used to working remotely. We’re already using technology all around us. If we could reduce our commute to work, we’d significantly reduce the fuel emissions from transportation…

Basicolans

When Everything Comes to a Halt

In our hyper connected world, and the ease with which we can now travel, it seems difficult to be confined to a small area. Yet, it is some of the technology behind this hyper connectedness, that makes it possible to remain connected, while being distant…

Travel Tales

The Marooned Traveller

So here we are, in 2020. Quarantined due to a pandemic. Travel, as we knew it for the last few years, and to a large extent, took for granted, has come to a grinding halt.

I can’t help but think that this is some grand cosmic conspiracy, to put us in our place — literally. To slow us down. 

Categories
Hobbies Musings Stories

A whole new world


(Continued from “We’ll draw a green thumb”)

I watched my father-in-law poke a few holes into the bag with the screwdriver. He left it in the corner, and turned around to find me in a happy daze.

Here I was fretting about the lack of an actual ground. ‘One can’t possibly compost without a hole in the ground,’ I thought to myself. And there he was, coolly collecting all the kitchen waste into a plastic bag to make a compost bag in our tiny apartment balcony.

After my in-laws returned to their home, we continued to add kitchen waste to this make-shift compost bag, excited about harvesting compost.

But something wasn’t quite right.

For starters, it smelt bad. Very, very bad.

And it was super soggy – dripping brown smelly liquid wherever we kept it.

And then there were the maggots. Lots of them.

I was sure that I wanted to compost waste, and was determined to do so. But was it to be as yucky as this? Neither of us had any idea. And so we shot the question out into the electrical void – the internet.

The internet informed us what was going wrong. The short answer: our compost was out of ‘balance’ and had too much moisture*.

To solve our immediate composting crisis, we added shredded newspaper, and left the bag slightly open, in the furthest corner of our balcony. Next step: we decided to get a proper composter.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and we welcomed our Kambha.

The Kambha is a terracotta composter made by a Bengaluru based NGO, Daily Dump. There really isn’t much to it: three earthen pots with holes on the sides. While the top two had a rope mesh at the bottom, the third one was closed at the bottom. They stacked up neatly. I marvelled at the simplicity of its design.

We watched the instructional video and transferred our (now utterly disgusting) waste and added some of the ‘remix’ material supplied by the organisation. The ‘remix’ material and the terracotta absorbed the excess moisture, and within a couple of days the compost stopped smelling.

As I learnt soon enough, the compost pile is as much a living organism as you and me. Needing a well balanced diet, breathing in oxygen, and exhaling carbon dioxide. And if it is malnourished or there is something wrong with its digestion, it emits a foul smell.

As for the maggots, they stopped bothering me. The composter was now a self enclosed eco-system. The compost pile was its earth. And a host of creatures grazed on its lands. With the plastic bag out of the way, the air around the compost became more breathable, and the fruit flies joined the maggots. Soon the land sprung shoots of large fungi, and even a sapling here and there. And the fungus gnats appeared. The maggots slowly reduced in number, as the competition for food grew. And then came the spiders – the top of the food chain, preying upon the insects.

All the while the kitchen waste continued to reduce. What was first green, yellow and purple slowly turned a rich, dark brown colour, and it smelt sweet – like Mother Nature.


* The long answer comes in a separate post!

Categories
Hobbies

Intricate


Intricate
Intricate – veins of the flowers

For more intricate photos, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Intricate

Categories
Hobbies Musings

The Bouquet


She had been uprooted from her home, decorated to highlight her appealing petals, and given away to indifferent people. In her new ‘home’, she sat quietly in a corner, waiting to be noticed.

Her new family did not appreciate her. They had seen many more like her, and like all the others, she would be abandoned. The garbage collector would pick her up, and she would spend the rest of her short life along with plastics and other alien creatures.

She looked absolutely beautiful. And at the same time, she looked sad. We noticed her head looking towards the ground. She was tired, and disappointed. We decided to adopt her.

We peeled away the pins and wires that surrounded her, and even as I offered her water, some of her delicate petals gave way.

Free from the shackles, and getting a little care, she felt lighter. Was there a hint of a smile? She still missed her home. Nothing could replace that, but now, she hoped she could spend the rest of her days in peace.

Categories
Musings

A New Day


It’s been a rather noisy night. Huge flashes of lightning lit up the city in the middle of the night.

I step out to assess the damage. The verandah is littered with trash that the storm has decided to leave behind as a souvenir. I dodge the minefield to reach the railing and look outside.

Clear blue skies, and a cool breeze wish me a good morning. A pigeon flies towards the ground. Another one follows it. And soon many others enter the stage from all directions. Someone has just spread out a platter of seeds for them to feast upon.

I look at the trees, to see if there are any casualties. They are injured. They have been stripped off most of their leaves and there is a colourful carpet on the ground. But they stand proud and straight. They do not mind the shedding of leaves, after all, newer ones will grow. They have survived the night, and its time to savour their victory. The breeze is playing a gentle tune, and they are swaying to it.

Soon the city madness will resume, and last night’s events will be forgotten. But till then, I will stand here, in the middle of the mess, soak in the fresh air and watch nature celebrate spring.