Working Hard is Not Good Enough

Picking up this book from the rack of a popular bookstore is probably one of the most intelligent reading related decisions I’ve made in my life. At first, I was reluctant, having not had more than a few hundreds to spare. But the title drew me in and I gave in to the splurging side of me. A few pages through, it was obvious that I’d definitely picked a read that was my money’s worth.

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Mainly, the book is about, as the title suggests, how Hard Work is not the only necessary ingredient towards achieving success. Working hard is not a fool proof plan if it is not accompanied by working smart. Enriched with plausible examples and witty anecdotes, these lessons in everyday life as portrayed in the pages seem to come to life. The best part of his examples are how much they relate to an individual’s life and how easily one can correlate the information based on the situation he / she is in.

The usefulness of the book to any person in any stage, be it a college goer or a businessperson or even a home-maker, does not go unnoticed. There are motivational instances highlighted in the book, of people who’ve tried and failed but haven’t given up, but instead changed their ways. In no way, must this be confused for preaching, rather than a well conglomerated strip of thoughts. Captivating and rational are the two best words that can be used to describe the essence of the message in his writing. 

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The author, TGC Prasad, hits upon the essential elements of life with relation to management in this interesting journey through various peaks and depths of career endeavors. Along this fascinating path to self-discovery and a more enriched lifestyle, one comes across a Eureka! Moment and that is the one thing that every reader needs to look out for.

As the last page was done, I realized that I’d come out a stronger person, waiting to test my new found information. It was clear that years of hard work would be pointless if it wasn’t accompanied by intelligent decision making and proper time management as well as focusing on inherent personality traits to use them in a way that’s more beneficial to the circumstances.

TGC Prasad states that while Hard work is the fundamental Bedrock, it is just that and nothing more. While it lays the foundation, it is not enough. What is necessary is to look beyond failures and successes and to just move ahead with a clear mind and a defined goal ahead is what is necessary in today’s time bound world of chaos and disruptions.

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With his indelible intent to make a difference in the psychology of human minds, TGC Prasad nails it with precision and compassion. It is no wonder that now, with an increased fan base and a high-held reputation, his next book is going to be equally awaited, if not more.

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Of Horrible Habits and Suffering Streets.

Before you start off, let me tell you something. If you’re one of those people that does any of the things I’m ranting about in this article, you are not going to like it. Ok, actually, you’re going to hate it. Because, let’s face facts. No one likes admitting that they’re wrong.
Fine, I’m done convincing you to leave. If you’re still here for some weird reason, you may carry on.

So, like every other day, I was driving to work, my windows down despite the blaring heat and the perfectly functioning air conditioner in my car (Blame my middle class mentality!) when I saw a man in the car next to mine, driving, all suited up as if getting ready for a big meeting. Now, before your dirty minds run wild, no, I wasn’t ogling at him, mostly because he was a gazillion years older to me, but also because of what he did next. Now, this was a sedan (Yes, status symbol…) and a posh one at that (I’m really bad at car names so we’ll skip that part!).
Slowing down, he lowered his window and stuck his head out. For an instant I thought he was one of those annoying hecklers who was going to give me a hard time because of my lack of testosterone content but, actually, he did something worse. He puckered up his lips and…
…spat on the road.
Yes, he spat.
Looking at the disgusting wet patch of goo splattered on the road, I rolled my windows up and turned the A/C on, not because of the heat but because of utter disgust. To hell with my inflated petrol bill. I had bigger things to worry about.

And this isn’t the first time I’m witnessing something this repulsive. People spitting out of buses on poor, unsuspecting souls, empty candy wrappers and crushed juice packets strewn on the streets and uncaring people stepping on them as they walk by. Wow, we’re so disrespectful.

I’m not exactly saying I’m above the rest, but I try to do my bit, picking up after others (Yes, I’m weird that way) and storing dashboards and bag compartments full of wrappers till I find bins… stuff like that.  It doesn’t take time at all, actually, just a bit of thought. Unless you have severe back pain and can’t bend. Then, stop throwing stuff in the first place.

 As for the spitting, seriously, what’s wrong with you people? Saliva is meant to gulp. And if there’s something else in your mouth, I hope to God it’s edible. If it is, three words. Gulp. It. Down. Unless it’s Chewing Gum. Then you can just stick it under your car seat (No, I’m not kidding!). If it’s not edible, then I still have three words for you. What. The. Hell?! Unless you eat Play Doh and you’re five. Then it’s acceptable. Yeah, yeah! I used to do it too. Don’t judge me.

Next time, if you see someone doing any of these things, look at them till they make eye contact with you and then make puking noises. Or just point and laugh till they want to crawl into a hole and die. Well, that is what I do. If you want to be all dignified, fine. Hmph.

You can’t expect others to respect you if you can’t respect yourself, right?

She.

It’s 9 AM.

A thundering slap on her cheek sends her flying across the room as she lies on the floor, nursing her smarting skin with her trembling fingers. Standing on top of her, her spouse breathes heavily, a lit cigarette in one hand and a rolled belt in the other. She closes her eyes, letting the tears fall as she welcomes the pain for the sheer sake of the wedding ring strapped tightly on her finger.

Liberation from domestic abuse? Obviously not!

It’s 3 PM.

Her lower lip begins to quiver but she holds back the tears as the man standing in her way shakes his head. She watches her brothers run out to play under the warmth of the sunshine.
“But Father,” she sulks. “I want to go play too.”
Her mother watches solemnly from the kitchen, unable to help her daughter. Abusing his dominance and their silence, her father refuses and asks her to go work. Her longing eyes watch the tiny figures of her brothers running towards the enchanting waves and listen to the sounds of laughter that she can’t be a part of.
Disheartened, she makes her way into the kitchen.

 Protection from discrimination? Surely not.

It’s 8 PM.
She glances at the silent street ahead, her eyes wary of the two men leaning against the shutters of a closed store, smoking. They’re bigger than she is and stronger than she’ll ever be. Clutching her purse tightly, she takes a deep breath and moves one step forward, her heart pounding in her chest. The only two sounds that can be heard as she gets closer to their hunched figures are the hurried clinking of her heels and the indefinable whispers of their voices. She can’t decide which is scarier but by now, she’s trembling. As she walks past them, quickening her pace with every step, she finally remembers to breathe. Her hammering heart calms down as she takes one last look behind her shoulder in case someone is following.
The dark is her enemy and she cannot fight it.

Freedom from fear? Absolutely not.

11 PM.

She screams in pain as the men drag her through the gravel into the dark alleyway. Her voice muffled from the sweaty hands grasped around her mouth, she struggles, knowing what’s going to happen to her. As the filthy fingernails claw into her skin, the endless torture begins, stripping her of her dignity and abandoning her with no fight left in her soul. By the time they leave, all she has is her tattered clothes that barely protect her broken heart.

Safety from rape? Definitely not.

So what exactly is her reason for celebrating Women’s day? Will 24 hours of recognition every year make up for the unending misery?

The day she takes self defense classes because she wants to be strong and not because she has to fight for survival.
The day she finally walks out on the people who make her suffer not because they’ve kicked her out but because she knows she can stand on her own two feet without their help.
The day she holds her head up high and walks past the men with confidence instead of cowering down to their physical and emotional dominance.
That is the day she shall celebrate.
But today, unfortunately, is not that day.

The Rain Child

The house is heavy with grief.
Twisting an escaping strand of my straightened hair in my finger, I bite my lower lip to stop myself from getting emotional.
Outside, as I hear thunder, a sudden smile of secrecy escapes my pursed lips.

Abandoning my family in time of their need, I take one step back, listening to the sound of my bangles as they gently clink against one another.
I take another and then turning around, I run out of the main door.
My long, curly hair is brushing softly against my back as I break into a sprint, my lips slightly apart with the struggle of breathing. Hoisting my ankle length skirt up, I continue running till I reach the far end of my back yard.
Around me, mango trees are swaying with the wind, waving to the lightning in the sky.
I stand still, closing my eyes, my head turned towards the clouds.
My fingers have let my Tulip red skirt fall beautifully over my legs as my arms slowly start moving upwards, till they’re outstretched beside me.
A warning thunder resounds in the sky, nature’s call, and as if on cue, a drop of rain falls on my forehead. Within seconds, another plops on my nose till eventually, the drops cover my face.
I smile; loving every minute of the beauty with my eyes closed and then, I begin spinning. I don’t know how I look but if my dad were standing next to me right now, he would have said that I looked like a rose amidst the lushness of nature.

My father is my most favourite person in the entire world.
He always says that when I’m happy, he’s happy.
But I haven’t told him yet that I’m only happy when he’s around. Now, I think that it may be too late.
“Darling,” He’d say on a random day, as we both sat in our lawn, lazing around and taking in the beauty of the sunshine. “Have I ever told you the story about you and the rain?”
I’d giggle and say, “Yes! But I want to hear it again.”
He’d chuckle at my excitement and start off with the story I had heard over a hundred times in my life
“You were only nine months old!” He’d tell me, with stars in his eyes, every time he repeated that story. “A lucky baby. One day, we had left the main door ajar and you heard the rain pouring outside and crawled out.” His face would turn into dismay. “It was a good fifteen minutes before your mother and I found you. God, the horror in my heart! Would you believe, just when I was ready to call the cops, I saw you from out the window, sitting near the mango trees, giggling in the rain? I never left the door open again!”
At this memory, he fondly laughed. “My rain child.”

My father doesn’t know that he’s my rain.
I mean to tell him that if it still is possible.
Outside, where I’m standing, the rain gets heavier. I feel the cold rain drops fall on my skin and mix up with the hot tears that are scalding my cheeks.
That’s the best thing about this season.
No one needs to know how much your heart is breaking.
My father always tells me that tears are a sign of weakness
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“Don’t ever let people catch you crying.”
“But dad,” I’d whine. “Everyone cries every once in a while!”
“Not you!” He’d smile then, fondly touching the tip of my nose. “You, my dearest rain child, will just run out to where you belong. By the mango trees in the rain. Your real home. There, you’ll find happiness. If you don’t, I’ll always be here for you.”
My childish mind did not think deep enough back then to realize that ‘always’ was not a word that meant ‘forever’. That immortality will always be our biggest weakness.

I look out at the mango trees. They’ve been there for longer than I can imagine.
My father once told me that he and my mother planted them together.
I love my mother a lot. But she doesn’t compare to the bond I share with my father.
I’m careful not to tell her that because I’ll hurt her feelings but she’s aware. Anyone would be.

Falling to my knees, ignoring the pain surging up my legs, I clutch the grass with both my fists to compose myself. My head is bent low and my tears are falling with a speed that matches the rain.
Death is the most terrible gift of life.
It takes away from you, precious moments that you no longer have time to share. You see your future right in front of your eyes but it’s a future you can’t have because your time is up.
My sobbing gets loud and I’m scared that someone in my family inside, weeping, will hear me.
Behind me I hear footsteps but I don’t turn.
Then, a voice.
“My dearest Rain Child,” it says, a deep male voice choked with emotion and regret.
I know it’s my father.
He wipes his tears and crouches beside me.
I look at him, one last time, my eyes brimming with tears, matching his.
Like father, like daughter.
Then, he speaks.
“You’ve decided to go to the rain!” He says, breaking down. “But why didn’t you take me with you?”
I’m sitting right next to him but he can’t see me. He can’t see me sobbing hysterically now, shouting ‘I love you’ to him over and over again. I want him to know that I’m glad that car accident took me and not him. That I’m glad that I am not the one alive right now, crying for him. That it may sound selfish but I may not be able to survive without him. That mom now has him to lean on but if he had been the one to go away, then our family would collapse. But then, I want him to understand that this is what fate has written in our lives and that’s alright.
But it’s too late for all these things.
So, I just take in the sight of him.
We have one private moment together, joined in our tears and agony.
Then, getting up, I pat his head, though he can’t see me.
For one miraculous moment, he looks up, directly into my eyes.
He may not be able to see me but he has felt my touch.
Knowing that this is the most that I can have, I run towards the pouring rain till I’m finally one with it.
Then I’m gone and so is the rain.
The sun comes up, shining brightly, as if I’ve never existed.
But far away, in my house, the wails continue.

Memories

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My most favourite memory,

Is that of your beautiful face,

But now that the days have passed,

My life has lost its grace

I remember our shy smiles,

Our reluctance at the beginning,

But that was so long ago,

Now life has lost its meaning

You used to tell me that,

I made your sorrows heal,

But the magic has vanished,

My life has lost its zeal

You made my heart flutter,

And only you had the ability,

But now it’s all over,

My life has lost its reality

I remember your pleasant laughter,

As we sat under the trees,

That seems like years ago,

My life has lost its peace

Ever since you jumped,

Ever since that fatal fall,

I have been consumed by guilt,

My life has lost it all

The Wedding

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Her ring is sparkling under the sun.
Looking at her, beautifully decked up, I know that I am doing the right thing.
Her white, flowing dress falls around her neatly as she walks down the aisle, her eyes fixed on the man she is going to marry.
I wipe a silent tear, remembering my own wedding, 26 years ago.
Ours was an arranged marriage.
I had wanted to be independent.
My parents had wanted dowry.
In our struggle to decide my future, they won.
Before I turned eighteen, my marriage had been fixed.
I look at my daughter now, vibrant, an air of independence around her.
At 25, she radiates brilliance.
The man down the aisle is her boyfriend of eight years.
She made the choice that I had been too afraid to make almost three decades ago.
I remember our discussion, about five years back, when I had brushed upon the topic of marriage.
Had I been as firm as she was back then, and my parents as understanding as I am, things would be a lot different now.
Wiping away another tear, I watch as they seal their love with a kiss.
Her happiness makes me happy.

This is an entry for the FEMFLASH 2013 writing competition from Mookychick Online. Enter now.

The Ten Year Old

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At the awful sound of the crash,
My feet bounce off the bed,
I hurry down the stairs,
In fear that my mom is dead

But she lies crouched in a corner,
Our ancestral vase shattered on the floor,
My father pulls out his belt,
As he firmly bolts the main door.

As I tip-toe into the living room,
My heart pounding in my chest,
I see my mother, now being kicked,
By the father I utterly detest

I reach out for the phone,
Tell the cops my mother may be dead,
By the time I’m done with the call,
Uncountable tears have been shed

My mother’s face is red,
My father’s face, vile,
At the sound of the sirens,
On my face, a wide smile

The cops barge into the house,
See my mother on the floor in pain,
I quietly get back into my room,
And pretend to be asleep again.

This is an entry for the FEMFLASH 2013 writing competition from Mookychick Online. Enter now.