The Universe is always sending you signs, so…stay tuned!
December 31 has always been special for Vaani and me in the past decade or so.
It was on this day, in 2007, that we were told by our lawyer S.Vijayaraghavan (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) that we were bankrupt! Realizing that we just had Rs.2,000/- left with us in hand, with our bank accounts running in deficit, all our gold jewelry pledged, no real estate investments, insurance or stock options to fall back on, and Rs.5 crore outstanding to 179 creditors (I call them Angels in my Book!), we had gone to Vijayaraghavan to seek professional, legal counsel. Aashirwad was 17 and getting ready to go to college, Aanchal was barely 13. Our Life, that day seemed so dark, so hopeless, so impossible to salvage. It seemed to the two of us that it was all over! What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
So, in a sense, today marks a unique anniversary in our Life. Of our bankruptcy!!!
There’s an unforgettable throwback to that day. Earlier in April of 2007, Aashirwad and I travelled to Rajasthan on a vacation. We visited the holy dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti (1141~1236 CE), the Garib Nawaz, in Ajmer. I instantly felt connected with the energy of the place. I experienced the same Higher Energy at the dargah that I had felt at the Vatican in 1995 or while visiting our family’s native shrine, the Mangottu Bhagavathi Kaavu, in Athipotha (Palakkad, Kerala). My own views on God and religion have evolved over the years – but I can surely relate to a Higher Energy, which is also why I occasionally visit select shrines – to “repair and recharge”. Following our visit to Ajmer, perhaps because I had left my business card with the person who arranged our visit at the dargah, I kept receiving mailers every month. The mailer always had an appeal to contribute to a scheme to feed the poor at the shrine daily and it had the Garib Nawaz’s scared thread – something that believers tie around their wrists as a talisman. Each time I got the mailer I would ask my office to make a small contribution to the feeding scheme and I would forget about the mailer. This went on, for 6 months, almost mechanically. I never understood why I got those mailers. But on that day, around 5.30 pm, I stopped by at my office, after that fateful meeting with Vijayaraghavan. That was the first time I had heard the word “bankruptcy” with reference to our debt-laden, cashless situation. I was struggling to internalize what he had told us. And my practical, logical instincts told me that “there was no way out for us”! As I rode the elevator up to our office on the third floor, in those 30 seconds, I closed my eyes and meditated on the “Higher Energy” that powers the Universe. I prayed: “Show me a sign that we will make it!” It was, on a logical plane, a wasteful prayer. It was a captain’s valiant effort to see through a dark, stormy night, looking for a passing vessel, when his own ship was almost sunk! The elevator jerked as it reached the third floor. I opened my eyes and stepped out. I walked to my desk and I found a fresh mailer from the Garib Nawaz’s dargah sitting there, on top of a set of papers demanding my immediate attention! My assistant told me it had arrived that afternoon. Was that “the” sign? If you had asked me then, I would have been unsure. But 9 years on, we still are surviving, tethering at the edge at most times, but we are still there – hopeful and sure that we will make it! Was that “the” sign? You bet, it was!
Yet, as you can see, we have not just survived. We are driven now by a Higher Purpose – of Inspiring Happiness! So, we go about sharing, with all those who care to pause and reflect, through the lessons we have learnt from this cathartic phase in our Life, that it is possible to be happy despite the circumstances! So, December 31 has now become an anniversary of an awakening we have had – we have realized that if you let go and trust the process of Life, you will always be looked after!
December 31 was also the day, in 2012, when my wonderful publisher, Westland, made me an offer that I could not refuse – to publish Fall Like A Rose Petal. To me and Vaani, it is not just another Book. It is a spiritual journey. That offer came at a time when we were in a torrid phase in our bankruptcy, of complete worklessness (eventually we went on without an income stream for 30 months from June 2012 to December 2014)! The Book, which was launched only in August 2014, gave us a reason to last one more day each time, it gave meaning to why we were going through what we were.
Last evening, Vaani and I spent some time reflecting on the year gone by and told each other, no matter how tough the coming year would be, we would continue to remain focused, purposeful and dogged in our efforts to turn around the business (so that we could repay all our debt) and to Inspire Happiness among all those we connect with.
This morning as I got ready to go for a meeting at a Starbucks store, I reviewed our money situation. I didn’t have money on me for entertaining my guest, a business associate. My Starbucks loyalty card had just enough cash for one coffee. So, I arrived at the store planning to offer my guest the drink and decided to not have a coffee myself. But I reached the store ahead of my guest. A friend who was already there greeted me. She said she had been planning to reach out to me, to be my Santa – she wanted to load my Starbucks loyalty card with her gift!!! I protested. But she said she had been in touch with Vaani on this but, for some reason, she had not been able to do an online payment into my account. Before I knew it she had taken my Starbucks loyalty card from my hand and had loaded it with Rs.2000/-! I am so overwhelmed; I am still to make sense of her compassion, her generous gesture.
The symbolism of the convergence of Rs.2000/- and December 31 in our Life is not lost on us. This small miracle of a gift on my Starbucks loyalty card is yet another sign from the Universe. It seems to say to me and to Vaani: “Hang in there! If you are alive, it ain’t over yet!”
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