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” Only way to conquer temptation is to succumb to it”  

This was the thought I woke up with, early in the morning. Why would I wake up with such a dubious thought in my head? What was I dreaming about? Chocolates or maybe some bread ( I haven’t had bread or any form of carbohydrates in a long time), or a stunning dress which was ridiculously overpriced or something even more interesting which I would leave to everybody’s imagination.

I hit the search on google to see the source of this wonderful quote and found many results which lead me to understand it was one of Oscar Wilde’s famous quotes from his work The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I will have to read this now.

It kept hovering all over me during the day as I went about my chores (resisting temptations of food, shopping plans or otherwise). I put it out on my Facebook status, twitter and it was liked, retweeted but nothing of consequence was discussed about it. So I let it stay until I was compelled to understand more about it by writing here.

The sun is setting and I see a golden glow in the sky. It looks like liquid gold which I would love to bottle and preserve forever. Soon I see it disappear and observe the darkness spread across the little world I see outside the large windows of my drawing room. But nothing earth shattering reveals itself and I am still struggling to understand why my day was consumed by such a provocative thought. It was time for dinner and I realized I was looking at a dull lentil soup and some stir fried vegetables as my dinner. The thought completely send my mind on to a tizzy. I sought the husband’s help and he acceded that dinner shouldn’t be this boring. We settled for ordering some Pizza, bread sticks and Pepsi for dinner. It was such a satisfactory meal, that settled all the restlessness that I was feeling since morning. A full tummy can change many perspectives.

Photo courtesy : http://www.hollyjean.sg

What did I do here? I just succumbed to my temptation of having some not-good-for-me, food. But I enjoyed it. I am feeling a little guilty but less frustrated. So what do I prefer? Less guilt or More frustration? A little guilt didn’t hurt anyone. I made promises to myself to work it off in the morning at the gym. Don’t know if I will actually do it or not,  though. But for now, I am fine. I am good. I am happy.

Why did yielding to temptation make me feel better? That is because I listened to how I was feeling. I was listening to what was in my heart. Was it a stupid thing to do? Yes, most probably, Yes.  So giving in to temptation was by all means, a heart over mind decision.

This pizza-dinner adventure has got me thinking about :

1. How many times I would have succumbed to temptations; say out of 10 times?  8 out 10 or 5 out 10 times? What is a good ratio? What sort of a person does that make me? 

Well to this question, I feel no ratio is good or bad. Guided by instincts, I should listen to my heart or my mind depending on the situation at hand. As far as the question of , what sort of person would that make me is concerned, – I would be as good or as bad a person, as I let myself be or think to be.

2. What is the best way to assess any situation? Should I let my heart rule over my mind?

This will ensure that I would end up wearing my heart on my sleeve at all times. This will lead to a lot of heartache, pain and misery, I am sure. I don’t want that. I want to protect myself. Self-preservation is a natural instinct and the mind ensures that I assess a situation first before I jump into it, like a child would.

3. If I let my heart rule over my mind, would that mean I would have more experience (good or bad) which would in turn be more fulfilling?

Possibly.

But soon a time would come when the emotional side would have been wrecked by the vagaries of life and the heart would turn skeptical. Will such a situation be regarded as a life well-lived? I am not sure.

4. What about a situation where I let my mind take all the decisions and the heart has nothing to say?

This should the basic course on survival that God should have already taught us before we entered this World. But it is not so because  we would then miss out on the beautiful experiences and some bad ones as well, that shape us and our personalities. Wouldn’t work at all or would it? Would it make me cold hearted and calculative? Possibly. Would it shield me from all the hurt? It may or may not.

photo courtesy : Photobucket.com

So there is no one truth to any of this.

We do something or take decisions based of multitude of factors that present themselves at that very instant such as our mood, our experience, the situation at point in time and sometimes even the company. Also, it is the societal pressure that probably makes us take many decisions.

Another window to this debate would be about creative people like poets, writers, artists, painters – do they have more of a leeway to give in to their temptations than us ordinary mortals? Is that why this lot appears more alluring to the commonplace? Is society more forgiving when they yield to temptations of all sorts as a way to further their artistic aspiration and expression? I would say yes and good for them!!!

Why does  one even encounter temptation?

The most common reason would be discontent with the current situation andselfishness. These are facts of life which hit us at some point or the other. We feel this because we compare all the time which is also quite natural a thing to do as we live in a world where everything is relative to something. Nothing is absolute in itself. So the best way to counter temptation is to stop comparing! Easier said than done!!! So what do we do under such dolorous circumstances? Well nothing but to accept the situation for how it presents itself.

Acceptance is the biggest gift one can give oneself. To be able to accept the situation,  the heart to accept others the way they are and the courage to accept ones limits and faults are the best weapons to deal with temptations for any kind of a situation. Having said that, it wouldn’t mean that one wouldn’t succumb to temptation but atleast one can hope to cut some slack for ourselves and for others. Thus making the whole situation bearable. That’s when one can think straight and then decide on whether one wants to listen to the heart or the mind. That time is crucial. Everyone should have that window to decide and that is solely possible when one is more accepting and hence more forgiving.

Another aspect is our talent to compensate. We all make compensations for things that we do or don’t and for us or for others. It is the most reasonable way to justify, reason, seek forgiveness for something that we feel guilty about. So if temptation is at large and there is no way one can avoid it or one doesn’t want to avoid it, then compensation is the best sort of artillery one can resort too. 2 positives for one negative? Will that work?? It may or it may not. But it is worth the shot given that at sometime or the other we are bound to give in to our senses and temptations.

So if I gobble up a bar of chocolate, then I compensate by either going to the gym or eating light. Works, right? In certain cases it will and in certain, it won’t.

Either ways, for me personally the ratio of mind over heart has kept changing as I have grown older. In my opinion, the older you grow, you weigh on your mind more than you would on your heart. How does this change come about? Well for me it has come about through some tough-love that life has showered on me. Having weathered some storms, I have realized that in order to protect me and my interests I have to resort to my mind before I let my heart take over. Sometimes when I see them working in tandem is when I know I have made the right decision.

Hope that it happens more and more.

Now about the Pizza; I have promised myself that I would work it off by hitting the gym tomorrow morning. Whether I do it or not is something I can decide on in the morning. Most probably the heart is going to win this one and soon there might be a post on my blog stating how one MUST NOT succumb to temptation at any cost.

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1. The wind speaks today

of stories untold, unheard

Like a baby’s first eyes

 

2. The unicorn shines

in the velvet moonlight

singing a song lost

 

 

It was a day in office like any other. She had recently joined an organization but her heart was still back at her college campus, playing basketball with the boys, spending time reading at the library and teasing classmates. There was not a care in the world and she knew her future was full of possibilities. A technical training was in full swing and she tried hard to concentrate, but every now and then her eyes darted to the computer screen to spot new messages in her inbox. He wrote short emails. She wished that he’d write longer ones. At first glance they looked curt but when she weighed his words, they meant to convey so much more than was written.

It had been an hour already since the last email and she felt her body grow more and more restless every passing minute. He should have emailed to confirm. Well, the thing was, he had asked her out over the phone and details were to be shared over the emails during the day. She shivered with excitement for various reasons. One being, it was her first date with someone she secretly had a crush on since the time she had set her eyes on him. It made her delirious when it was reciprocated.

What was taking him so long? “Ping” – you have new email, it said. Promptly her hands took hold of the mouse to open the email and the sight of his name made her want to yelp with joy. He had written that the date was on and details were a surprise. It included a warning at the end, that it would be a long one, so better be prepared. Her fingers that typed the reply to that email were sweaty in anticipation. It was a good thing; she said to herself, that within a month of moving to a new city, her social life had started to buzz. Now the intolerable wait till the evening!

Finally, the day at the office ended. They were supposed to meet at a  mall and then take it further from there. When she entered the mall, she almost kicked herself for not going home to change. She saw a bevy of girls pass by looking absolutely sparkly. She called him to know where she should meet him and he asked her to take the escalator up to meet him at the Cineplex foyer. So it was easy enough for her to guess, that they were going to watch a movie. Soon she saw him standing at the enterance of the hall with nachos and pop corn packets in tow. They simply exchanged pleasantries and moved into the dark hall with the other movie watchers. Soon she realized, it was a block buster movie that she had wanted to watch all along. Within minutes she got engrossed in the movie , the plot, the characters, the twists and betrayal. She did not know that while she munched on her nachos and popcorn, he was intently watching her. He watched her body’s silhouette in the darkness. He watched the chocolate tone of her skin glisten each time the lights from the screen fell on her. He observed that she was unselfconscious and one with the purpose which at that time was watching the movie. He observed that she had just one anklet on her foot and began to wonder if she was the singular anklet wielding boho-rebel. But somewhere, in his mind, he was enchanted by her nonconformist attitude. He imagined her running like a wild child amongst the sunny flowers with a basketful of daisies. She was the one who could chase the butterflies with the same ease as she would conduct a meeting with a room full of suited stalwarts. Would he feel intimidated, he asked himself? That’s not even the right question, he heard himself answer. Funny how oblivious she was while his eyes watched her every movement.

The movie ended and she felt strange about how uninteractive he had been all the time. She felt as if he was getting bored in her company and that made her apprehensive. Surely she had it in her to keep him interested so she decided to drive the conversation from then on. Maybe then she would be able to understand if it was her or whether he was the recluse kinds. It would make it clearer whether there had to be anything to this association, if at all. Having made up her mind, such, she embarked on a verbal diahorrea, quizzing, prodding, indulging and to the extent of simply meandering. He was kind, she understood. He listened like a man who was besotted but never offering his two cents on any topic at hand. She felt like a lone warrior who had lost her purpose in the pursuit. But she liked that he listened.

The date was to extend from merely movie going to an evening at one of the most romantic spots in the city. They drove in silence more times with just the smattering of words when the silence became unbearable.  Slowly the conversation started to dribble in and topic of life partners and marriage took center stage.  She thought that she might just try become a match fixer and try to fix him up with her taciturn room mate. She thought both of them would make a great pair. But she would feel sad, if he didn’t keep in touch with her. She would miss his emails, his song dedications to her and the lovely quotes that kept her engaged for the whole day in a romance that was akin only to the novels. He was definitely a much better person to interact over the emails, she decided. Maybe she should try being a little more flirtatious, open a shirt button or  two, laugh more so and throw her hair around. Darn why was he giving her such mixed signals!

He was taking it all in. Her boisterous talk, the way she threw her hands around while talking, the way she stealthily opened the top button of her blouse and how he couldn’t get enough of the broken tooth whenever she flashed her dazzling smile. His thoughts were interrupted when she started steering towards marriage. On an impulse he knew how the date had to end. He joined her conversation in bits and pieces while noticing the bent of her elbow and the creaseless neck. He did not believe in love at first sight because he was too real to humour himself with such fallacies. But he grew surer of the outcome of the lovely evening.

Gosh!! She thought, those dimples that formed on his cheeks were hard to miss. Half of the evening was over and she was surprised she didn’t notice them before.  She always had a thing for guys with dimples and felt that guys who had them automatically qualified as the ones who were caring and sensitive. The evening light heightened the gold colours on his temples and she almost reached out to cup his strong chin. Slowly as if her eyes were seeing for the first time, she noticed that his skin was golden as it was bronzed; he was clean shaven for the occasion and his hands looked neat. His lips parted every now and then as if to say something but then held back the words. What did he fear? A silly thought perhaps, or maybe a promiscuous pass or the shock of having had a glimpse of the undone top button. She giggled at the thought of it. He must think she was trying too hard, so she turned away a little to button up her blouse. Now he would probably think that it had unbuttoned by mistake. She chided herself at making too much of a normal situation. Here were a boy and girl, meeting to have a good time. Why should they tag other expectations with this rendezvous?

They were seated at an open air restaurant and ordered some food and beverage. There was a tingling sensation that they were aware of and knew the cause. They spoke about the weather, the people at the restaurant, the dogs frisking about and the birds chirping at the height of the dull summer evening. They sipped and spoke, the sipped and listened. There was a rhythm in their banal actions which they both were aware of.  Time passed and she teased him with a prospect of introducing him to her roommate. He shrugged and asked instead, if she was willing to be his. To this, in spite of the shock, she managed to give him a weak smile. Obviously he was joking, only pulling her leg to keep the evening afloat. All this while he hadn’t uttered a word of significance and now he wanted her to be his for life? Ofcourse she was being teased. But his gaze was unwavering. It unsettled her since she knew he meant every word that dropped out of his mouth.  How could he decide so quickly, given that he hardly knew her? How could he? She thought, she was frivolous about life but it surprised her that a seemingly mature man had the audacity to play prank of this order with her.

He had to keep his gaze steady to prove the truth of his sentiments. Not once did it occur to him to reconsider. How could he tell her now that this was what he had in mind the entire evening. He had decided to risk it. He had known a lot of rejection and this was  one risk he had to take because he knew he had never had anything handed over to him  easily. He wanted her badly. Not in the physical sense alone, but her very essence, the light frothiness that she brought about where ever she strode.  He missed that zing in his life, this spring like chirpiness and delusion that life can be fun. He was sure that she would bring it with her into his life, if she said yes.

Only if she said yes.

“But Papa, what would have happened if the thirsty crow wouldn’t have spotted any stones close by?”

Mithi’s Papa looked at his adorable four-year-old; all wrapped up in her Winnie the Pooh bed cover up to her chin. Only her tiny hands were visible that had clenched the bed cover with all the strength that they could muster. But it was her question that stumped him. How on earth did she start thinking about the “Thirsty Crow” story while he read her the “Three little pigs” story from her handsome, fully illustrated, sparkly fairy tale book? He garnered all the patience that he had since this was the tenth time she had interrupted his flow of words by her unrelated innocent questions. It suddenly worried him whether, his daughter, whom he had thought of being unusually imaginative and smart was having trouble focussing on the activity at hand. But he dispelled the baseless thought away when he looked  at the probing eyes waiting for his answer. He knew he had to invent one like the countless others he had before. But this time he decided to give her some logic to test whether she understood reason or not.

“Errr, baby, had the crow not found the stones to put in the pot, the story wouldn’t have existed in the first place!”

This answer seemed to please Mithi and she quickly indicated that he should continue with the rest of his story about the “The Three Little Pigs”.  By the time, he had reached the middle of the story, the tiny eyes had closed. Mithi’s Papa, got up slowly and placed her favourite dolly, Lola next to her and caressed her forehead before turning out the light in the pretty pink room. He closed the door after him and called it a day.

Mithi had an active imagination. So active that she enacted her imagination to see if it could come true. Most of all, she wanted to see if all the stories that Papa told her were actually true or not. She had asked him innumerable times whether these were only stories or was there really any ounce of truth. Each time, her father confirmed and assured her that these were true tales. She constantly endeavoured to put his hypothesis to test. She dressed up most of the times to be the part in question and enacted the whole story the way she understood it to be. She requested her Papa that she wanted to be the “Red Riding Hood” who out-smarted the wicked wolf. Her Papa, on the very same day, on his way back from his work, stopped at the General Stores in the local market and picked what had the closest resemblance to Red Riding Hood’s attire  – A bright red raincoat. For the next few days, Mithi was seen strutting her red raincoat and talking to herself in front of the mirror, being the best Red Riding Hood, her Papa had ever seen. Mithi even buried a few beans in their backyard, to see if they were magical and turned into a giant creeper like that  in the Fairy Tale “Jack and the bean stalk”. She watered it every day and turned the spot into a muddy puddle and patiently waited for the creeper to grow. When nothing happened, she was disappointed but not for long as she would have found some other story to test. She even placed a pot of water near the Gulmohar tree  in her front yard. She strategically placed a few stones around the pot for any crow who was thirsty to drink out of the shallow pot. Crows did come around but flew away when they realized there was nothing of importance in the pot. After a few days, a silly crow managed to push the pot down to break it into many pieces.

Mithi’s belief that her Papa would only tell her the truth, made her stubborn when none of her ploys seemed to take effect. As a part of her afternoon play time, she and her dolly, Lola, put pieces of bread to form a trail so that “Hansel and Gretel” could find their way to her home and into her room. She waited for hours in her room playing with her doll house but Hansel and Gretel did not turn up. She then decided, it might be because they would have thought she was the wicked witch and wouldn’t want to make the same mistake again.  So she dressed up as a Princess with her tiara and got about playing the next story.

Mithi’s Papa watched her closely after he came back from work and worried that she was getting bored. Soon she might say that the stories were all untrue. What would he do then to put her to sleep. Surely, he couldn’t sing her to sleep. She might never let him into her room if he tried singing, he thought and chuckled to himself. He realized that Mithi did not have any companion apart from her dolly, Lola. The place where they lived did not have many children around and so did not have any community playground. Mithi had to be content playing by herself in the garden, in front of their house.  He made a note to himself that he needed to look for another neighbourhood where Mithi could play with other children.  Anyways, in a couple of months she was going to start school so things would fall in place. He felt much better after that thought. That night he told her the story of ” Goldilocks and the Three bears”. This time she did not ask any questions but he could sense that she was actually visualizing the whole story in front her eyes. He wouldn’t be surprised if she asked for three teddy bears or for that matter a blonde wig to play Goldilocks. He only dreaded that she might try to paint her hair to look the part. Before that he needed to make sure she had the wig and the three teddy bears!

On one such night he had tucked her and retired to his room. He switched on the television to catch up on some World News. After sometime he felt weary and drifted off to sleep. It would have been little after midnight that he woke up with a start. He realized he had forgotten to switch off the lights in his bedroom. But before he did that, he had a strong urge to check up on Mithi. He strode to her room as silently as he could and crossed the hallway to reach the lavender painted door.

He was taken aback to see a faint glow coming from underneath the door. He recalled having switched off the lights before stepping out but the faint glow did not look like the one from the lights. He slowly opened the door and then he stopped on his tracks.

He felt his knees go weak and felt paralysed. The sight in front of him made his face go white with fear. He tried to enter the room but felt like a force was pulling him back. He called out to her but felt as if she couldn’t hear him at all.

He saw her hoisted in the air and bobbing up and down. He could see that she was still asleep and had no cognition of what was happening to her. That eery glow was coming off the space around her and it was as if she was in a bubble. His trepidation filled eyes observed that a long and almost endless creeper had broken the window glass panes entered her room to surround it from all sides. He felt he was going mad when he noticed three tiny pigs dressed up in a suit and prancing about on their hind legs. Just when he thought that the tiny black flying things were flies, one of them just flapped their wings right in front on him. To his dismay he realized what it was. It was a crow from his stories. The crow flapped a few more times and flew close to Mithi’s floating body. He screamed and screamed for her to wake up and run to the safety of his arms. It was then he saw two shadows in the darkest corner of the room. He saw a cloaked figure that he instantly recognized from the faint red silhouette as Red Riding Hood only that she was faceless. The hood was hollow and only darkness seeped out of it. He didn’t have to think twice before he understood whom the gleaming green mean looking eyes belonged to.

Meanwhile the one of the miniature crows came back flapping its wings wildly.  It screamed the most blood curling screech which made the hair at the back of his neck stand. Suddenly he felt a cold wave wash his face and he woke up in cold sweat.

He immediately realized that he was dreaming. But his heart felt like lead and it hammered inside dangerously. He was unable to move for several minutes and sat upright in his bed thinking of the bizarre dream. He decided he wouldn’t be reading any mean bedtime stories to Mithi anymore since they had started to even affect him now. He felt he needed to check on her after the nightmare to make sure she was tucked in well. He silently made his way to her room and open the door. He saw her sleeping peacefully on one side holding Lola snugly. Quickly he made a survey of her room and felt silly about his nightmare. He took one more look at her and felt a deep wave of love engulf him. Not wanting to disturb her, he closed her door and walked towards his.

While he switched off the lights to his room and snuggled under this bedcover he felt he had missed seeing something. But he again pushed that thought behind and closed his eyes. It must be his nightmare, he decided. Certainly there was nothing in her room that he should worry himself with. With this he drifted off to another fitful sleep.

Back in Mithi’s room, as she slept soundly with Lola in one hand, she was unaware of the presence in her room. In the darkest corner, there sat a hooded faceless figure and a pair of gleaming green eyes keeping a watchful eye on their protégée.

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