Oomna at 8
Part-elf, part-sprite and part-girl
I am eight years old: part-elf, part-sprite and part-girl.
But most often a creature of joy. Today in the garden, I delight in sun-burning my arms and legs a crisp brown.
I loop, swoop and whoop around
And yellowing leaves from tall trees.
The faster they fly and the further they float, the more I chase.
I absorb the radiance of this golden leaf drizzle deep within me.
I let its gloss take over my life with bare feet and twirling grace.
I cannot wait a moment more to know unknown things.
How will it be to leap into the roaring sea? Feel the sting of salt?
Hurl myself into its blue-green waves? Be carried over its crest and down its troughs?
Even as I revel in a single wave as it arches its back, curls around my ankle and then crashes on the sand.
Are you as impatient to ransack the secrets life holds?
Snatch at different experiences?
Allow the rush of joy? Be swamped by it? Drowned by its sounds too?
Oomna at 9
Oh, the joy of my spirit
At nine, I was out of step with myself.
I set my lips in a straight line. I spoke haltingly.
I dimmed my light and felt a black, black, black darkness… inside of me.
“Don’t speak out of turn. Smile, don’t guffaw. Lower your gaze, don’t make eye-contact. Act sedate, not joyful.”
Restraint, restraint, restraint was what I heard from people. Again and yet again.
I took their words to heart. I allowed dullness to crush my spirit. I held sadness within me.
I learnt to quieten myself within box-boundaries of un-worth, unease, fear, worry, shame and discomfort.
These boundaries were not a fleeting mood but a lasting reality.
Yet today at ten I am who I am. Back on the beat of revelry. Outrunning faultfinders.
Who flipped the balance? Help me slip away? Mira ma’am, my teacher.
After class, one day she buttonholed me. She asked questions. She listened.
“Find the joy within you. The crackling energy deep inside that no one can bind,” she urged.
Her chirping was just so much gibberish. Yet it changed my life forever.
“Look at the gulmohar tree,” she said, pointing to the red, spreading, flowering tree outside the window.
“It draws its energy root up from the earth. Then it stretches, branches and leaves, and spreads breathless joy with its flaming red flowers.”
I had a flash of understanding. It was my ‘aha’ moment, one of utmost clarity.
I was looking at life wrong. It holds plenty of vim. It is wrong to let misery wash over it.
I began rooting out my strength.
Be it sunshine. Drifting cottonwood seeds that float as fluffy white clouds. Books. Friends. My dog Masti.
I now keep this joy at the centre of my being. I push past terrors and believe in myself.
I live my life my way without fear of others. Or the flicker of their disappointment. Or the scorn of their reactions.
I pay attention to what I need. I act on what I want. I no longer act to please others.
I am who I am.
I touch, taste, see, smell, hear and breathe every moment. They are mine to claim, hold and share.
My double somersaulting days are back.
Want to photobomb your way into fun too? Smile inside out? Turn into an incurable optimist?
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