Tag Archives: Health
In the auditorium at Jyoti Seva School for the Blind* (pre-highschool) there are 60 of us – 50 ? I take off my foot wear and search for words as one of the kids grins. They are eager, and cannot wait.
I have worked with kids at a few levels, but this time it feels I am learning, in this place that is like a piece of heaven. Dearest Lord God Almighty, little butterflies fill my stomach and heart. Outside it is Venkateshpura, Bangalore at its’ busiest. Little lanes cartwheeling with vegetable vendors and bullocks, women in burkhas, men in welders’ shops. Every vehicle in Bangalore city seems to be here, and I find it hard to understand how the Polish Prime Minister found his way into these tiny lanes for that visit a few years ago. But then God can do anything.
Sis G (music teacher ) and I try a few voice routines ; what footwork will work on stage ? This is the very first time for me, for Jyothi Seva, dance and music, even drama is no big deal. I have many ideas, and Sis G among other amazing Daughters of Love here, (Franciscan) are generous with my various plans : some amount of fun- drama show casing Daily Living Skills, Physiotherapy rings onto a mock street scene thick with cut out (thermocol/cardboard )auto rickshaws, city bus, a cow, a bullock cart, vendors, and two sighted artful pickpockets ) Am I nervous? Am terrified ! Sis G. the music teacher smiles at me.
These are not just any kids, these are 85 + blind kids, brilliant, some do stunning vocals, and oh they can dance! They are sharp, quick-witted and don’t you arrive without a proper plan.
One tiny tot (aged 5?) thinks it is time to break the ice. She holds my hand and says, “Aunty Ray, first you clap!” Her little face peers up at me thru’ a fringe, then with her small palm in mine she stands on toes and asks, “You are Johann’s Mama, no?”
“Yes baby”, I nod feeling utterly speechless. How big is God’s university of Life. How infinite His love that we should all be called children of God. How little I deserve to see such beauty thru’ the eyes of little Angels.
We sit in a circle and chat till lunch break. It is boiled rice with potato/ carrot gravy, an omelette and steel mug with cool cool water; little aprons tied to their waist, around neck- later everyone stacks their plates, rinsing spoon at low sink with tiny taps shining in the noon light.
Am humbled by the talent in these kids, humbled by how little I know about their world though our own son is blind and though I’ve been here so many times doing what one can with Personality Development. Am startled that all our words that try to be ‘be somebody’ are still so uniquely variant with each individual – and startled is a limp emotion next to this.
Aruna (9 years old) is an acrobatic. Am thinking, this one should do a cart-wheel right across stage – can we pull that off ? The 6 minute- choreography underlines Confidence; not something I had planned to think or say , but as we met again, the word came out firm and quiet. “Look kids, this is more than doing a step, you are all great dancers and actors, but we’re going to show the world the confidence with which you go out the front door, right ?”
They aren’t jumping for joy but they each nod in quiet as if glad I’ve finally got it.
“Alright, before we break now, let’s run through some emotions, okay?”
“OHHHHHKAY !” (phew)
“Right. JSSchool, can you show us some SAD ?”
The room is too happy to handle that. 2 seconds later they are rolling into each other with laughter. Not anything I could do or say to make them show me ‘SAD’.
As I wrap this, am uncertain how to end this Post.
Outside the gates of JSSchool for the Blind the world is thick with debate on politics, crime. Here we have to work hard at happy face-smile- lines, we have to work out routines that display Goodness, Honesty, Gentleness, Talents…
I’ve brought home a few lessons in those hours spent with kids who cannot see, some have been abandoned, some have parents that do not want them home, others go home on holidays… what I’ve seen is a thirst for the world outside their gate ; they love the feel of fabric, footwear, perfume and little things in my bag, my bangles and watch, the buttons in my shirt,dearest dearest Lord God what am I feeling but a huge sense of a Universe so vast I am gagging to grasp it all. How many more people are there in this world in dimensions we haven’t even begun to come near – and what kind of song could I choose to fit into Choreography to show their life – words that will match, tunes that are rhythms of their life… the reality of their life – what can I teach that I must first learn, live, inhale, digest.
They sang for me , “Bright Eyes,” “Tomorrow”, a few songs in Kannada that sounded like heaven – raw sweet voices without the sin of assumption. I just hope and pray the world they grow into will not be a place ridden with power games and disguised crime. That they, all our kids, will be able to cross the street unafraid, pay their own electricity bill and at least one other persons’, with the ability to make each other unafraid…
I have run out of words, but hope and pray oneday you too will find heaven in the lesser known lanes and homes where God’s own babies wait to tell us their story. I hope and pray this world will understand the language of the Father as He sings over our blinded senses. My words are not enough to describe the way I feel.
Thank you for reading this.
Last night, all plates and dishes put away, the lights low in the bedroom where our youngest son went into his blanket ; the girls were yet to fall asleep, I peeped in at Joh, and he lifted that dark head calling me for a second kiss, then a whisper –
“Ma,I feel lonely.”
My heart missed a few beats ; it had been a long two months, there had been illness, a trip, school year starting over, uniforms that did not fit, unfinished assignments, a lingering cough and so many unfinished things…
“Why son ? We’re all here aren’t we ?”
“When you ‘re all busy with other things, I feel lonely,sometimes. “
Speechless, I hugged him close, closer, a third a fourth kiss.“You feel good now ?”
“Yes, but don’t go.” He said nothing after that just smiled and the room filled with feelings I have no words for.
Human touch. How abused, misunderstood those two words are : and so very easy to ignore in all our busy-ness. We sat there an hour, not just Joh and me, but all five of us, an hour in that quiet gentle dark as the little ones fell asleep.
Dearest Lord God, the worst disease on earth : ‘loneliness’ and such a simple cure right from the mouth of Babes.
This December I found myself saying, ” Dearest God please give us a Christmas like none other ( not imagining our dear friend Johnston Richard was onto an Album with the same title , and asked if our visually challenged son Johann Noel would sing and do a small narration for him).
Johann who has never really sung with studio headphones on, leave alone narrate ‘cold cold snow’ not anything we have experienced. I now understand ‘snow’ is for the cold of the human heart…
Johnston Richard you raised the bar on this mother’s faith, on a challenged kids’ sometimes lonely existence. Christmas is not exactly a festive season for everyone – for those who are disabled physically, emotionally, financially, socially,oh so many ways…
not everyone gets Christmas trees laden with gifts, banquets and new wardrobe, or Love…
not every one is given a chance to be who they are. God reminded me/ us at the Noel home, He did create some really good people on earth, making for Peace, Joy, acceptance, of each other, and the Room for another to also shine.. ( rare ! )..
Listen to ” Cold Bethlehem” and our home visual -mix on U tube 🙂 of the song, also below, a brief from Johnston Richards
Talking about his new album and the Title :
JR : People around the world give gifts to their loved ones and share the joy of family reunions. For many people, it is a season of give and take. However, the true essence of Christmas is the joy that comes from knowing the truth that you are loved unconditionally by God. No matter how others treat you or how you look at y0xourself. This love shatters all logic and liberates you from self-condemnation and leads you to self acceptance. Through the unseen power of the unconditional love that moves the universe, you are propelled to love ‘yourself’ and then other people unconditionally and give of yourself without expecting anything in return. Christmas like no other is the moment of history when time stands still and you experience selflessness and accept the intense and unconditional love of the creator of the universe who loved the world and gave his perfect gift of love to an imperfect world.
If you could make a wish for the world today –
JR While Christmas is a time of joy and is celebrated around the world, to several people around the world it is a time of loneliness, financial hopelessness and emotional brokenness. But celebration and life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things or plethora of friends. Christmas is a message of hope. A message to the lonely : the Unseen power and love that moves the universe came down to earth in human form on Christmas day to save those who were ‘lost’. Without hope, without a future. Christmas is a time to go back to the basics and accept that love and feel the completeness. Love knocks on your door this Christmas and my wish for the world is that the people open the door and let the creator, who is love personified, fill their hearts with the completeness and euphoria of that blissful unspeakable joy.
What’s the toughest challenge being ‘Johnston Richard’?
JR Writing and composing songs is a gift that God breathed into me. I am strongly compelled that the songs that I receive from the throne should not be kept under a bushel. As any trustworthy steward, as the guardian and scribe of the songs, I am strongly inclined to get my music out in the open and put it on a lamp stand. My mission is to play in what I call H.O.P.E, which stands for Hospitals, Orphanages, Prisons and Educational Institutions. The toughest challenge I am faced with is acceptance. The industry has changed and it is tough to survive, let alone thrive, as a Gospel solo artist. Somehow, I believe that bands gain favourable responses as compared to solo artists. When you are soft-spoken and humble, the world takes meekness for weakness and tried to ride on your back. People tend to judge a book by its cover. You can be judged by the colour of your skin, your nationality, and stature. And there’s another thing. It’s a catch 22 situation -You cannot become recognized if you don’t have enough people buying or supporting your music; and on the other hand, people don’t want to buy your music if you are not well known. So far, I have been funding my music from my own pocket. It’s a challenge to do huge promotional shows on a shoe string budget especially when you have a family who depends on you. I personally know what sacrifice means. Through it all it has taught me respect for others in similar endeavours and has built in me strong values, character and gratitude. I praise God for His faithfulness, and thank my wife and daughter, and my dear friends for their incredible support. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my story in here God Bless what you do…
Johnston Richard lives in Bangalore ; besides his 9-5 job as a Professional Writer, he is a singer-songwriter, worship leader, author, producer and a guitar teacher. He has written and composed over hundreds of songs and has released two studio albums.Johnston partners with Besso Orphanage for destitute children. WWW.JOHNSTONRICHARD.COM. His second album, which is a Christmas Album, was released on December 7, 2013
It is so beautiful, your heart
I cannot stop but stare at the beauty of
your heart, the one you hide, didn’t you know
you have such a beautiful life
It became common to have Lali say she was healed of her stomach ache, and that fresh air blew into her home, though the electricity had failed. We laughed a bit, like she was insane, even when she cooed over her plants and trees and spoke to unlikely people, gave them her smiles and food. And prayers. Lali aunty could irritate the pants off you, if you were not in the mood for her ‘ miracles’ and she had many stories to tell. ‘ Never take oxygen for granted’ she would say, ‘ ..also good clean water. These are our miracles. Or when someone is good to you… these are precious moments..”
Today, I realise these things are not common place, these are rare, and sacred. There are some things we must work for, and there are fantastic things that happen when we least expected it.
..on these mountains, like the rhythm of hoof
shedding miles, with good news
of Peace – how beautiful those feet, shedding light
like blood on pale faces,places;
like the trample of fresh new wine
cellars in the valley new with grain song unheard
like dawn fire among stars that pale
against Your sky, oh God, my God –
how beautiful the feet of those who bring… good news
on these mountains of division, despair, destruction,
shredding miles of lost terrain,
with good news…
oh how beautiful these feet…
( re-written, suggestions Abhra Pal thank you )
He had these tears,
like when a father is betrayed
it was the first time I wiped His eyes
when I prayed.
the first time here I felt a bit
what it must be like, to be hit
like that, oh dear God, like that
like when your own child steals Your Gold,
like warm food deliberately left out to get
How it feels like to be over ruled
envy, jealousy, pride, dear God, I never would have thought
You cried –
I never thought, how would I
this is not what mortals know –
what humans foil and demons throw :
humans can engineer two sides
two opposite sides…
yes it can make a father cry, but what I remember most is that
I dreamed I wiped Your eyes…
was that just a dream..
” … for diamonds and rubies I do not care, all I have is for others to share, I crave for just a glimpse of Light, for peace and rest in that after-Life..” Hariharan Balakrishnan
Innerdialects : I am in awe of the creative fraternity, especially when they are there for the sheer passion of expression. H. Balakrishnan says it like it is, without too much ‘modesty’ or ‘ guilt’ – tracing Lost Horizons, the safety of ‘Stars‘, of moments,mementoes, of memories that never left, and of Dancing Diamonds and Volcanoes. The Equipoise of Silence …
His Works reflect a Universe waiting to be understood. They provoke the writer in me, silently reminding me of the human being perhaps neglected, within. Of secrets that wait to be told; of what Words can do in a Time that is more devious than ever before. Here is a human being that must be read, for he is more than a dad, husband, writer,traveller, lover of good food and music. He is an Indian with Spirit, heart and soul.
” Poetry, comes out of inner thoughts at some particular moments in time. I don’t see any need to feel guilty.It is the capacity to absorb things differs from people to people and also, in the same person, time to time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be human. ” Hariharan Balakrishnan
The silent man came in to this world With a lusty cry, the wail for peace He shouted screamed and swam about He saw he heard he smelt and stood
The silent man grew up and watched The world around him go down in size His loudest wail of no avail He chose to grow up, not capsize
The silent man too had his moments Of standing- and of understanding People who had something to say With mere presence, now gone away
The silent man has chosen silence He has his silence for company He has no use for fools or falsehood He is happy in his path of silence
The silent man too sometimes shouts He wants his voice once to be heard He sometimes loses sight, his voice And also, anon his equipoise
The silent man too tries to teach The world that is within his reach He came in shouting, wailing, crying He wants to go out smiling laughing
The silent man sees, thinks and learns He has something to teach in turn But chose to keep his thoughts inside Like the volcano that never spewed.
Lost horizons on the way Of a lonely traveler on his road To some place somewhere He knows not, does not care
A wayfarer in Eternity Without an inn- or an out Only his thoughts- and dreams Of someone else’s tomorrow
Horizons lost by one Can they be gained by another?
The author here .. ? After father died, she read out to me some of the life experiences she noted down in Tamil. I told her if she writes a few more to make 100 pages in print, I’ll publish them in English. And that’s precisely what we did- on her 80th birthday. Only I know what went into the final product. The original mss was ‘lost’ for a few years etc. But the launch was really a ‘launch’. The book was released on a real launch which floated on the Husain Sagar in Hyderabad with some 200 people. Newspapers were competing to take her interview and outdo one another. The Hindu Friday Review did a story, and it was followed with a remarkable commentary by Eric Shackle of Sydney in his “Life Begins at 80”. Eric has since become a dear friend and now lives in Big Pond- still writing an occasional column. He is maybe 93 now. If I send him a mail, I can bet he’d reply within 48 hrs. That’s the kind of man he is. God bless him.
Hariharan Balakrishnan Poetry is subjective, and is often written in reflection- of events and moments that have passed long since.
There is also a series of humorous anecdotes that I can share only over a cup of coffee in a group. Who knows? Once I start writing, this idea may bloom as a book!