Learning to hope!

(Before I start writing what I’m about to write I’d like to say that it took me a little over 24 hours (and this was a year ago) to make up my mind about whether I wanted to publish something so open, so personal, and a piece from the depth of my… existence(?) (I don’t know how else to say this) and I decided that I should.

It’s not my entire journey, just a section and not an entire chapter. It might come across as little haphazard or confusing but that’s exactly how it’s meant to be. Feel free to stop right here and close this tab.

P.S.- You still have a chance to stop reading!)

Somewhere down the line a part of my soul died, or a part of me died, or was it a heady mix of both? The pain will make you stronger they said. So strong that it breaks you? It killed the person who had big dreams, it erased the smile off her face. So strong that it numbs you inside?

I read a quote somewhere “There’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in” (I don’t remember where I saw this one and who said it!). Perhaps this is why we need to be broken sometimes, to allow the light to shine through the cracks. Really now? Like the chinks in a curtain allow the morning sunlight to interrupt an already-disturbed sleep? No thanks! I hate curtain chinks that betray me by letting in the light. I’ve grown addicted to the darkness, my darkness, that has stemmed from pain of the past and present.

Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow the darkness enveloped me, the cold became noticeable and the numbness? That was a very welcome feeling. It means that you’ve been tossed around like a sailboat out at sea braving the turbulent waters. That numbness. Yes, that’s addictive. Are there anymore pearls of wisdom that I can reject or refute? Do I care enough? Do I want to care? Sadly, I’ll never know.

Sometimes I don’t know what makes me continue holding on when inside I have already let go. At times I think I’m a fool. I coax my outer self to meet my inner self and convince her to let go but outside there’s a glimmer of hope. Maybe the hope lies in the cheerful chirping birds at dawn, or the golden sunset skies at dusk or… maybe… just maybe… it’s the lyrics of a song that’s constantly playing in my head on repeat mode.

“At the end of the storm there’s a golden sky…”, there’s always a golden sky so I choose to walk on with hope. Hope for newer golden skies or the sweet silver song of a lark. I guess I’ll keep walking on with hope, towards the golden sky at the end of the storm.

If you chose life, you’ve been brave enough to live another day. You chose to live another day, keep going!!!

(The song “You’ll never walk alone” was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein (my favourite duo when it comes to lyrical and musical magic).


No one saw…


She hid behind her fairytales. Every single one of them had a happy ending. It helped her escape until reality hit.

No one saw her loneliness. No one saw the pain in her eyes when she smiled. No one saw the depression she hid behind her mask. No one heard her heart break. No one saw the silent tears she cried at night until her pillow was damp.

No one noticed that her dreamcatcher had broken. No one saw the demons she slew in her waking hours. No one saw her sit alone and stare at her walls, battling the silence. A silence she once welcomed was almost deafening. No one saw her struggle to stop her mind from thinking, not thinking. No one saw her struggle to sleep at night. They saw her anger, her hatred but no one saw her hurting inside.

No one noticed she was so numb inside that her tears no longer flowed freely. She was broken inside and no one saw.

She was alive and that was all that mattered!

Isaac Mutant!

Sometimes we just find something that touches our soul and stirs up emotions and thoughts we never knew existed within us. It took me a long time to settle into the area but now that I have lived here almost a decade I have grown to love and enjoy the sights and sounds the place has to offer. The different animals and birds, oh the birds! An ornithologist’s dream corner right through the year from Golden Orioles, to Magpie Robins, sparrows and pigeons, Pariah kites, Brahminy kites, waterhens, Egrets. Sometimes I stay awake until 4 a.m. just to hear the farmers head to work. Sometimes I wake up at the crack of dawn just to watch them water their crops. Sometimes it’s only to peek at a Black-rumped Flameback (woodpecker) who diligently visits the coconut tree outside my window at the first hints of daylight. If I’m lucky I get to see the Mongoose family scurrying about. A common sight are squirrels who have just been added to my “To-be-fed” list…

…and then there was Isaac Mutant. The first time I saw him I was in awe. Yes, he is a common crow with a story. I was tempted to call him Mr. Crowley but that didn’t quite cut it so Isaac Mutant it was. I love this crow for his uniqueness. I started feeding the birds leftovers. I watched him struggle to get food off the ground because of his beak. The other crows would seize his food before he could get at it because he would take long or rather the other birds were far quicker than he was. The poor chap had to tilt his head to get a grip on the food.

Isaac Mutant

Isaac Mutant

Now not only has he mastered the art of picking food off the ground, he has no problems piercing bags open with his freakishly long beak. The struggles were real but he overcame them. Animals do have their struggles too and if we are lucky enough we get to witness their growth and ability to fly above their adversaries.

I have been feeding the birds (and now squirrels and a waterhen) since I moved into this place and it’s been almost eight years now. Today I managed to get a close up of him without him taking flight. Most times he’s perched safely on a branch of the jamun (blackberry) tree and watches me through his black beady eyes.

The crow that never gave up

The crow that never gave up

Why did I write about a common crow? I don’t know really but looking at Mr. Mutant every single day I see a soul, I see a bird who persevered and beat the odds, I see hope and most of all I found something that could be turned into a beautiful story.

I look around me and I see people fighting silent battles, depression, stress, health issues, struggles of holding a home together and a job or two or three, then there’s Mutant, the crow that didn’t give up. A living being without rationale. Everyone’s struggles are real, as real as Mr. Mutant’s, the only difference is; not everyone rides through the storm the way Isaac Mutant braved through his. To me he is no longer a “bird” but a symbol of hope!

The Goa I once knew!

Looking back to the simplicity of life, I miss it. I miss those days when I could just walk out of the house at any given hour and I knew I would return safe. I miss those days when we could just lie on the road and stare at the stars without bothering about speeding cars or traffic past midnight. I miss the clean beaches, the warm friendliness of people around me. I miss the way the roads were, how clean and unlittered the place was. Everyone lived in perfect harmony. No one questioned your religion. Growing up we only figured out friends’ religions by their last names and it never bothered us in the least. On the playground we were one happy family. Festival times were the most fun because we celebrated everything be it Ganesh Chaturti, Diwali, Id or Christmas. We went over to friends’ houses and enjoyed festivities alongside their families.

I miss those days when we could hang out with whoever we wanted without the fear of our drinks and food being drugged, without the fear of date rapes. I miss the days when people lived simple lives and did not seek to destroy families and relationships because avarice won them over. I miss those days when technology had not entered and complicated things. The joys of being out of the house and no getting pestered by constant calls.

I miss the clean beaches, the clean streets, the safety, handwritten letters, postcards, birthday cards, Christmas cards, the excitement of running to check the mail and the joy of seeing your name on an envelope. Someone across the globe remembered to wish you. The days when we would gather in friends’ houses and watch movies together because there was no cable TV. The bunch of us watching “The goonies” and “Karate kid” (which are still in my list of favourite movies) over and over til we got the dialogues. I miss those days when “entertainment” was sneaking off to the beach, swimming and collecting pebbles.

I miss the days when not every home had a telephone and one had to go to the neighbour’s house to make/ receive calls. When neighbours gathered together to watch TV, the Asian games, cricket matches, the weekly feature film. Days when we could just land up at a friend’s place and have a sumptuous meal with them. Food was always better in my friends’ homes. I miss those days when we would take a picnic lunch to the banyan tree and spend the entire day out in the sun. I miss those days running around without a care in the world because we lived in the most peaceful place filled with the simple things of life. I miss those days when owning a cycle was the coolest thing you did. You were king if you could pop a wheelie! The excitement when you got a skid right without falling down.

I miss those days when petty thefts made the headlines of our otherwise boring dailies. I miss how everyone would leave their homes and gather around if there was a problem or death in the neighbourhood. How we lived in harmony without malice or pettiness. All we read now are rapes and murders, thefts make it to the unimportant news bits if at all they are mentioned.

Toddy tappers! What are those? Who sees them anymore? Coconut pluckers are so few and far between. Our bakers would come around on cycles with a big basket at the back, some bakers still do that. The baker who comes around to my area rides a non-geared two wheeler. Even our postman comes around on a motorbike. When did all this change?

I look at Goa now and I see most of our people have acquired Portuguese Passports and left in search of greener pastures selling their ancestral lands to anyone with the highest bid. Selling a piece of our precious heritage. It is a free world, no doubt, but look at how it’s changed. Goa is no longer safe. No longer that unknown haven people would flock to. The little corner of the world that was popular with the hippies back in the 70s and early to mid 80s.

What happened to the Goa we knew? Greed took over. People left. Outsiders moved in. Crime increased. Murders, riots, we were never in this kind of place. Everyone lived in harmony. People respected each other. Now? Now you can’t leave the house without the fear of getting attacked. The traffic is chaotic, the roads (if you can call it “roads”, I prefer to call it potholes with a little road thrown in for fun!) are horrendous. The riders and drivers are nightmares the way road rules are broken. Nobody cares! Lives are lost on the treacherous roads every single day but who’s counting? Everything negative seeped into our pure lands leaving barely nothing to call our own.

What happened to this peaceful place? The beaches are littered, the seas have garbage floating with the waves, the pavements are littered, there’s garbage everywhere. What happened to those pristine beaches? What happened to the cleanliness? Every time I have gone to the beach I have seen broken bottles, empty plates, plastic bags. We took pride in Green Goa. Our greenery has been replaced by grotesque buildings. Greed has turned our beautiful Goa into an unwanted concrete jungle. Goa was never like this.

Foreigners claiming that Goa is not safe! That is a real low blow. Not safe and Goa all in one sentence. We would pride ourselves of being a hospitable and friendly race. Some of us have even welcomed complete strangers into our homes and given them a hearty Goan meal. What happened to that Goa? When did things go wrong? How did we earn ourselves such negativity? Who is the cause? What is the cause?

Goa is not safe

I saw this picture and my heart broke. I grew up in clean, green, peaceful Goa and I continue living in hellish Goa. It’s heart breaking when we can’t feel safe on our turf, leave alone how foreign tourists will feel. Reading the list: –
“Do not go out alone,” (A guy cannot go out alone? Wow! When did this change?)
“Do not argue with the locals” (Really? Are we Goans so capable of doing someone in? Are we capable of such heinous things?),
“Do not trust “people” or police” (Yes, a lot of us locals do not trust the police! Can’t argue here. Sorry! No trusting locals!!!! That’s a mighty big blow right there. Peace loving, warm, friendly, hospitable Goans not trustable. That’s a big pill to swallow or perhaps I am drowning in a sea of Naivety. This saddens me. When did we change? Is it us or is the influx of other communities living on our land and giving us a bad name?)
“Do not run out of money”. (This is good advice. No one would want to run out of money while on holiday.)
“Do not buy drugs.” (Another piece of good advice.)

I was quite shaken up reading this. Flashbacks raced through my mind of what Goa was and I can’t fathom where it all disappeared. Change is inevitable but this drastic where an entire race changes the essence of themselves? How possible is that?

Our land has been not only being raped but it’s being tortured and murdered before our eyes. Our hills have been cut through for railway lines. Surely there was another route that could have been planned out instead of destroying the beauty of our interiors. Our once-upon-a-time-pristine beaches are strewn with garbage and one has to walk barefoot cautiously. Open water swimming sessions is such bliss, especially when you see plastic bags floating besides you. Our roads…. oh the wonderful roads we pay taxes for every year… I’m at a loss of words at this point. Road taxes for potholes! No longer can I brag to friends outside Goa about how clean Goa is, how lovely our roads are, how we never have a single flooded street during monsoons.

If you grew up in Goa in the 70s, 80s and 90s you will know what I am talking about. The days when the Flea market was a flea market. Hippies would gather in the area and try to sell their guitars, cassette players, records, and whatever they could sell to make enough money for a flight ticket home. No one batted an eyelid at a foreign tourist sunbathing “clotheslessly”. No crowds gathered around to gawk at a fair maiden clad in a bikini. Now? It’s shamefully quite a different scene. One fair skinned sunbather and there’s a crowd trying to get her in a selfie which is being strategically taken in front of her.

The recent events in this tiny dot on the map has left my head reeling. This is definitely not the Goa I grew up in.

What kind of Goa will we be leaving for the next few generations? Will there be traces of our heritage and culture? What are we leaving behind? The Goa I once knew as a child and the Goa I live in right now doesn’t feel like the same place any more. I had a very interesting talk with a group of boys/ men ranging from the ages of 16-31+. It was refreshing to see their levels of awareness and their drive to see a change happen.

I want to be the change, I want to see change, I want to see Goa how it used to be but I can’t do this on my own!

Everything and Nothing to lose

She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Her face was expressionless, her eyes were blank. It was almost like gazing into a gulch. Her hair was well groomed, not a strand out of place. Her makeup was impeccably flawless that it made her look like a porcelain doll that had just stepped out of a horror movie. Her composure was admirable yet it looked like she had been through the mill. She inhaled the overpowering fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans that permeated the air. The smell of the “magic beans” was intoxicating. There was nothing better than relying on the aroma you love to release an exceedingly generous amount of pheromones into your system.

Her eyes quickly darted around, scanning the couples and people seated sipping on lattes or mochas, some people were having a quick bite before heading home after work. Even though the café was full no one bothered about her presence. She glanced down contemptuously at her Yves Saint Laurent handbag for a fleeting moment.

“Elena, I will be coming home late tonight. Don’t wait up,” Brad’s bass voice boomed from the kitchen as he grabbed his leather briefcase off the kitchen counter and swung his laptop bag carelessly on his shoulder.

Elena ignored him. These were just hollow words that were repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. She had grown immune to those late nights, weekends “with the guys”, not showing up an entire night. Thankfully the children were in boarding school. They wouldn’t have to see the tears while she sat in front of a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, nursing a crystal tulip glass before her. Sitting in that large mansion alone every night was not as easy as she made it seem. The loneliness slowly shattered her mental equilibrium but it didn’t show on her face.

She had been with Brad for twenty years. He fell in love with her the moment he saw her walk down their college corridors. She stood out in a crowd with her “devil may care” attitude and confidence. They were in different departments but he had made it a point to introduce himself to her during her first year. He went on to becoming an affluent businessman and she was a stay-at-home mom.

Their marriage was a social affair. He treated her like a princess. There was nothing that she could possibly want from her Chanel handbags to her Gucci shoes. She was always well turned out. Brad loved having her on his arm at the social dinners and at the elite cocktail parties. It was quite evident that she was his trophy. She had always been his prized possession right from the moment they started dating. He was equally striking with his V shaped physique and height that resembled a beanpole. She had to admit they made a handsome couple, and even passed their mid-forties they still made heads turn.

She tried to figure out where they went wrong or more likely what went wrong. She always did what was right. She kept the house exactly how he liked it, cooked his favourite meals, and maintained her looks so that it concealed her age. Was it the excitement of cheating or the excitement of doing something wrong? It was all blurred. Somewhere down the line Brad decided to start dating another woman. Elena knew who she was. She was younger than Elena by an entire decade but not as tall or pretty. Elena’s beauty was enigmatic and still made men dizzy with infatuation.

Elena gritted her teeth in anger trying to figure out why Brad would choose to go scurrying after such an inexperienced “plain Jane”. She knew she looked far younger than her forty-five years, her skin was flawless; her hourglass figure could send any woman into a frenzy of jealousness. Her legs were shapely and athletic.

Violence had seeped into their loveless marriage. Whenever Brad was home he would pick a fight on imaginary issues. She didn’t use the right softener when she laundered his clothes, the vegetables were not cooked the way his mother made them, her car was parked at a slight angle and he couldn’t get his car out, the dog had greeted him with muddy paws all over his Versace suit. Yes, he had a very vibrant imagination; she had to give him credit for that.

Brad knew that Elena was aware of his mistress and he couldn’t help wondering why she had not filed for a divorce taking all his assets with her. He was even ready to let her have it all, his entire estate, his fleet of cars, and his business. Heck! He would even pay for the best divorce lawyer if he had to. Elena maintained her composure and decided to see how long the two of them could play this game of cat and mouse. Six years went by and they were still playing the same game. He was violent behind closed doors but in full view of the public eye he made sure he came across as the world’s greatest husband. His manners and suave personality made it all very believable.

Elena had toughened up over the past few years. She had been going for Muay Thai classes to keep her mind and body sane and fit. She planned a secret weekend out to surprise her estranged husband. Perhaps it was her who needed a break away from the prison she used to call home. Maybe she should go on a road trip and catch up with friends in nearby states or fly out to meet her parents who lived in the other end of the country. She bought herself plane tickets and got ready for her break. Brad could handle the food since he did that anyway despite of her cooking all his favourite food. She was definitely going to take a break from the manor and its sprawling, well-manicured lawns. She wouldn’t even miss the place.

She informed Brad well before the day. He told her that he wouldn’t be able to take her to the airport because of his work overload. She translated that excuse to “You know I’d rather spend that time with my mistress than drive you to the airport”. She yawned to let him know that she knew what he was implying.
The day of her departure turned out being a stormy one. She got a call informing her that her flight was canceled and her money would be refunded. She was pleased about it because she would now get a chance to see what her husband was really up to. She staggered upstairs to the attic and hid her bags there. She set up a makeshift bed and bid her time. This was one time she was exceptionally pleased about concealing cameras around the house and linking them all to her laptop. She had to make sure that she was safe since she was alone most of the time.

Elena knew she was safe in the attic because Brad was confined to the kitchen, their bedroom and the attached bathroom. It was almost as though none of the other rooms existed for him. Even his office that opened out into the emerald lawns overlooking the summer gazebo meant nothing to him.

Elena covered the tiny windows with thick blankets and made sure no light could be spotted from the outside. She had stocked up the tiny antique cupboard with tinned foods and basic essentials. She typed in her password to link up to the cameras and in a few clicks she could see the entire house and all the rooms. She swapped between scenes. She just needed the important areas. Brad was not due to be home until much later that evening.

She did not have a long wait. Brad was home earlier than expected and he was not alone.

“I should have known he would bring that tramp along and let her sleep in my bed!” Elena fumed and turned up the volume on her laptop after plugging her headset in.

“We have to be careful and cover our tracks,” Brad said. “She has to be somewhere in this house. I called up the airport to check on her flight and I was informed that the flight was canceled. She does not have anywhere else to go. Please don’t do anything rash.”

“You don’t do anything rash,” the thirty-five year old woman retorted. “What if she is here and watching our every move? Do we follow through with our plan?”
“What plan?” Brad was confused.

“The plan to eliminate…,” his mistress replied in a nonchalant tone.

“The weapons…,” he trailed strategically.

“Are taken care of,” she ended his sentence.

Elena had been expecting something like this for a long time now and was well prepared for the day. She rummaged in a trunk for her gun which she had kept loaded and ready. She had hidden a gun with an attached silencer in their bedroom and one in the kitchen. No one knows the kitchen better than the lady of the house. She groped around for a dagger. She knew how to throw the knife to hit the target exactly where she wanted to. She tucked the dagger in the band of her skirt and gripped the gun so tightly her knuckles turned white.

“Let’s split up,” Brad suggested.

“I’ve never been here before. I wouldn’t know where to go,” his woman hissed.

“Fine, in that case we’ll just stick together,” he sighed agitatedly.

“Do you know where she can be?” she asked him.

“We’ll check the bedroom first,” he suggested. “Come on.”

Elena quickly changed to the camera in the bedroom and waited for them to enter. Brad looked under the bed and checked the bathroom.

“She’s not here,” he stated.

“Captain Obvious!” she smirked.

He smiled. He loved the way she kept him feeling younger than his years whereas Elena was just a reminder of how much older he had gotten. He tried to forget about his graying hair and receding hairline. He felt much younger than he looked.

“Let’s go,” he said.

Elena had not installed cameras anywhere else after the bedrooms on the first floor. She had no choice but to switch off her computer. Without waiting for it to go off, she slid it beneath an old wooden trunk. She slipped off her pumps and crept to the door. She knew that she would have an advantage if she was caught behind it. Her heart pounded like a train on a track. She thought it was going to burst out of her delicate frame. She knew that her estranged husband had a gun with him but she was not certain about what weapon the other woman had.

She heard the knob on the door open slowly.

“Elena, I know you’re in here,” her husband crooned, tantalizing her. “We’re right next to you. Come out, come out wherever you are my darling.”
He stepped into the attic hesitantly, signaling to his girlfriend to stay back. Elena slowly lifted the gun. He opened the door and switched on the light.
“She’s not here, let’s go,” the woman whispered quite audibly.

“There’s nowhere else she could have gone,” he said. “We checked all the rooms, remember?”

“We didn’t check the garage,” she pointed out, agitatedly.

“Go check the garage. I’ll meet you there,” he said and without warning he slammed the attic door shut.

Elena aimed at his head and pulled the trigger. He fell flat on his back. He was dead before he hit the floor. The mistress heard the thud.
“Brad?” she called opening the door. She found herself face to face with an enraged Elena.

“Hallo there! I’m Elena, Brad’s widow. Pleased to meet you,” Elena’s smile was psychotically sinister. “Fancy you dropping by to see me. You must be Leigh.”

Leigh charged at her, brandishing a kitchen knife she had found on the counter. Elena grabbed her wrist and twisted Leigh’s hand behind her back forcing her to drop the knife. She pulled out the dagger and stabbed Leigh in the jugular vein. Leigh collapsed to the ground. Elena then fired a shot straight to her head.

“Nice to meet you too darling,” Elena snarled.

She retrieved her laptop, handbag and shoes from their hiding place and stepped out of the attic. She locked the door. She knew she had enough time to dispose of the bodies and the car in the estate. She wrapped the dagger in the blue silk scarf that was slung over her handbag and headed downstairs. She got into her car and drove to her favourite coffee shop. She parked her sedan neatly in the only vacant spot there and got out of the car. She straightened her skirt before reaching out for her handbag and scarf. She walked in and ordered a coffee. She found an empty table by the window, grateful that she had a splendid view of the breathtaking sunset. She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.

“CUT!” the director yelled jubilantly, grabbing the clapper board from his assistant and slamming it with a burst of enthusiasm. “…and it’s a wrap, pun intended!”

Not everything is what you think it is or what you assume it might be. Sometimes life is nothing but a mere illusion.


Things aren’t always perfect,
Sometimes they’ll never be,
But there are telltale signs,
That we refuse to see.

Things are always pretty,
Sometimes they are pretty lame,
You either roll with the punches,
Strike back or lose the game.

We all live behind a mask,
But few are brave to drop it,
Some continue their charade,
Coz they don’t know how to stop it.

Sometimes we need to step back,
Away from negativity,
Or get stuck in a rut, self destruct,
And be doomed for all eternity.

Sometimes we all need an angel,
To help us to our feet,
A gentle hand, a calming voice,
When life goes off beat.

(Again another experiment with verse, slight twist in the style. I love writing poetry. I love capturing my emotions, thoughts, and “eternalizing” them in verse. I write when I’m happy (and I’m happy when I write), sad, angry, indifferent. If I’m lucky I get a masterpiece.

I don’t write for praises. I don’t write for recognition. I write because this is who I am, who I have always been, the only thing I know to be. My poetry is a connection of soul to mind that leaks out on paper. Nothing egoistic. I like keeping my work simple, unplagiarized and straight from the depths of me. Poetry is an art that takes a lot of refining and it’s not something that happens overnight but it’s an art anyone willing to try, can master. I started writing poetry at the age of six and I still do not have a fixed style. When it comes to poetry I like the unprediction of the whole thing and most times I don’t know which style I will use. I go with the flow (of my pen). I still love seeing my writing on paper before it gets typed out and blogged.

The mix of “You” (which is me) and “we” which is generic and used extremely logically. I have been going in and out of depression the past five months (June has only just begun) and the poem is a capture of my feelings and the ups and downs. Sadly, I am not expressive when it comes to grieving or expressing affection. I’m quite “bottled up” to use the words my mom would say to me. The only outlet I knew was writing. So yes, this poem is not aimed at anyone in particular. It’s about taking negative situations and turning them around before insanity sinks in. It’s about rolling with the punches and getting back on your feet. And yes, I did have a few angels (not just one) who helped me through difficult times at different times this year. I also threw in a little humour here and there which I hope doesn’t get missed.

Poetry is like art. It’s complex and since it can be interpreted in a million ways plus the wrong way (the way it was not meant to sound) I thought I would explain what I was thinking while I was thinking, plotting, planning and writing the verses. The entire poem took me about 45 minutes to write and edit.)

Why Karate?

Learning Martial Arts has always been on top of my list since I saw Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) back in 1984. After watching the movie with a bunch of friends I went home and asked if I could join karate classes and there was a volley of optimistic “she’ll grow out of this phase” responses “Join the basketball team” “Play badminton like your mom and dad!” “Swimming? No?” “Girls don’t learn karate! Ladies don’t fight!” I kept persisting every time the “You should play sports” topic arose. I was so dead keen on learning karate but no girls don’t fight, it’s not ladylike. Eventually I gave up ever learning seeing how stubborn my father was on not letting me go for classes.

Somewhere during my teens I found a karate manual. Hey! wasn’t that how Daniel Larusso started learning karate? From a manual? So it began… page by page… in the privacy of my room I tried out punches and kicks (obviously not the right way and we grew up in a YouTubeless era) hoping that I was getting it right. A friend borrowed that book and that was the last I saw of it. My DIY Karate classes came to an end. The dream lingered at the back of my head.

Now out of college and working, perhaps I could possibly save and pay for my own classes. Yes, that was a sound plan til I walked into a teak sofa that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and I dislocated my toe. The classes came to an end. Took me a good six months because doctor Me set the toe right.

Three years ago, all hopes of learning karate was lost til I shared a friend’s post. A couple of friends did start class and told me that since I shared the post I should start too. I asked my husband if I could and here I am still going for classes. Well, I did take a year off.

Karate has helped me in so many ways and I highly recommend classes for everyone.

Why Karate?

After an incident (fortunately very minor incident) that took place day before yesterday, I can’t stress enough on how important it is to know karate or any form of self defence. I am partial to Karate hence the harping on about it.

I was at the beach with my husband and a friend. We decided to have street food. The three of us stood by the stall waiting for our turn when a couple of men walked towards us. One of them had a daughter with him. As they approached us, the man with his daughter turned his back to me and started walking into me. I moved back a couple of steps and so did he. I moved sideways and he moved again, close enough to ensure there was contact both times. I moved the third time and raised my arm ready for him to make a move. He didn’t disappoint and he got a sharp elbow to the back. He spun around and I asked him where he was going. He put his head down and walked away. Smooth! no need to involve neither husband nor friend. I had enough confidence to handle myself.

Karate classes are definitely paying off. I can think of so many reasons why Karate is important but I’m only going to elaborate on what I feel are the main reasons and why I don’t want to quit.

#1. My main reason being anger management. If you have anger management hassles this is the best way to control anger. You can’t go out there and slap anyone you feel like but it teaches you control. It teaches you how to stay calm when people are in your face, pushing you to levels even you didn’t know you had. You stay calm because you are a karateka and Karate is all about discipline.

How I wish I had to start classes earlier than I did. I can safely vouch for the anger management part because I have trouble controlling my anger especially when I get pushed beyond my limits. I have what is known as the “Hulk syndrome” I blank out and I have no recollection of what was said and done during that time. In the past decade there have been a few incidents that drove me over the top but I was not training then. I usually walk away when I feel that surge of anger but sometimes it’s not possible to walk away. Karate has given me that control. I still lose my temper but I keep well within limits now and no one gets hurt. I do encounter an occasional irritant and when things get heated I do katas in my head and I keep telling myself “I’m a Karateka, I will stay calm”. It’s worked like a charm! However, there are those stray moments and people who get on my last nerve and I am learning control. However, I don’t “just” get angry, I do make it very clear that I am reaching the end of my tether and if someone decides to continue pushing me, they do so at their own risk and I tell them so very clearly. I’m definitely better at keeping my anger levels down now than I was my entire life and I have karate to thank for that.

If my mom was still around she’ll probably list out the number of things that got broken in the house because I lost control of my temper. A teak cupboard got cracked because I kicked the door with my knee (I was not training then) and the refrigerator, the door came right out I don’t know what I did but the door broke. I was incredibly puny and seeing that damage no one would have thought it could match my size. The number of plates and glasses that were smashed. Yes, definitely not proud moments for me and I’m pretty sure there must have been more damage  done in that house but I can’t remember anything more.

#2. Keeps you fit. If you’re asthmatic this is a good way to get rid of that wheezing. Carry your inhaler along in case you can’t handle the exercises but after a few months of training you probably won’t need to look at the inhaler. I’m asthmatic and training has helped there too.

#3. Self defence. You can feel safe at all times. You may not always have enough time to reach for a pepper spray or grab your taser but you can definitely be fast enough to throw in a few punches and kicks. You will definitely cause a few injuries and there are high chances you will be safe at the end of it. We live in times when no one is safe. If you’re a girl then you need to know self defence to protect yourself if you’re alone. If you’re a guy, you still need to know self defence in case you need to protect yourself or your partner. It’s just something that will always be a useful skill to acquire.

#4. Helps your reflexes and reaction time. I don’t think this needs much elaboration.

#5. Builds up confidence and not just the way you carry yourself but all round confidence but I do admit, I am incredibly shy so this is still work in progress but again, I’m far better than what I was before.

#6. The Meditation. This may not happen at every class but when it does happen it leaves you feeling calm and makes you feel like you can take on anything. This is another thing that contributes in anger management.

#7. Helps keep depression at bay.

#8. Helps overall fitness. Tones the body. After training a little more seriously than I did when I started, I have dropped a few extra pounds. Still a long way to go but yes, it helps with weight.

#9. Age doesn’t matter. You may not be able to do a complete split or you may not be able to kick higher than a foot above the ground but don’t let that deter you. Just keep practicing and you will get there with determination and grit.

All I can say is learning karate is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made. Please do consider self defence classes of some sort, it doesn’t have to be karate. More importantly, stay safe!

Poster in our Dojo

Poster in our Dojo