The REd Door and the golden key

Story by Aswathi Ashok 

Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash

Will you believe if I said, I found the key to the magical realm of possibilities by accident? This happened on one of our routine weekend day trips to Pulau Bin.

My friends and I, all four of us boarded the ferry just in time to the Island of Pulau Bin- A remote island closest to Singapore’s main land. There isn’t much to do, but the place is great for camping and cycling. We loved to explore the lush green pristine forest that covered the rest of the island on our rented bicycles. 

“Finally, a well-deserved break from our work routine” grinned Hana.

“Yes” cheered the rest of us simultaneously. 

“Well, let’s start the ride then” I said with a smile on my face. With that, all of us cycled forward. Since the road was slightly narrow, we cycled in twos. Hana and Eva went ahead of us. Elli and me, we followed them behind. We loved cycling through the island at our own pace, exploring, taking breaks for pictures and selfies. 

I lost my balance when something suddenly hit my bicycle. It wasn’t a bad fall only a slight scratch on my right knee. Elli, immediately pulled over to look back. She parked her bicycle by the road and pulled me up. “Are you okay Maya” she asked lifting me up, careful not to hurt me. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Hana and Eva were quite ahead of us to have noticed my fall. “I am perfectly fine, no worries, keep going Elli, I’ll join you soon” I said getting up and dusting my dress while other cyclists went past us. Elli waited to make sure I was okay, before she resumed her ride. 

I looked at the handles and then at the road ahead. I could see Elli take the turn before she disappeared around the turn on the road ahead, just a few miles away. I got down from my seat, parked my bicycle to look for what caused the fall. I was sure I had hit some kind of a metal. I don’t know what made me do this but I did it anyway.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I tossed the dried leaves on the road with my feet and saw something glitter in the daylight. I bent down to pick it up, it was a golden key with three holes at the handle. I turned it back and forth wondering. Assuming someone might have accidently dropped their key while cycling, I closed my grip on the key and decided to return it at the main rental store, so they could return it to those concerned.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

 

As I stood up, a gush of wind blew my hair. Brushing my hair aside, I looked in front of me and saw a strange red door that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. “This is strange” I said out aloud. The road suddenly seemed empty. None of the other cyclists were seen nearby either. I walked to see the other side of the door and there was nothing, just the door standing firmly erect like it was the door of some invisible building built in front of me. 

Google images courtesy.

Was this magic. If it was, this was scary. What’s scarier is that we are all so used to living our lives in this world without magic, if we saw things happening that our logical minds can’t explain, I am sure most of us would go insane. I really did go insane I guess, because to date I cannot tell, if all that I saw next actually happened in reality or was that all me – daydreaming.

I saw a keyhole on the door, the key in my hand sparkled golden-yellow. How did the door appear?? Can others see it too? Why is the way so deserted all of a sudden? Too many questions swirled in my mind. I took few steps ahead and tried the key on the door. The key fit perfectly well and the door clicked open. There wasn’t anything inside, it just looked like the door slid open and nothing happened. I could still see the road ahead of me.  I walked through the door and all of a sudden, the landscape changed. I was now on an empty beach, there was no one around except an old boat tied to a rock. I walked towards the boat and there was a note kept on the seat that said, “Ride me to get back to your realm or stay in hear as long as you wish”. I turned back to leave, as this had started to scare me now. The door had vanished, I was all alone on a lonely beach with no idea how to get back. It was just me and the boat on the beach. I was in a fix, having no other option I jumped into the boat after untying it and rowed into the sea. Not knowing where I was, nor why I was doing all that I was doing.

Photo by Photoklickr from Pexels

I kept rowing, wondering how to get out of this place. As I rowed ahead, I saw a yellow door that appeared from nowhere onto my left, standing adrift on the waters of the sea. I stared at it fearful of where it might lead me to and chose not to open the door. I kept rowing ahead instead. “What if that door was my way back home?” a thought crept into me. Doubtful, I turned to look back only to see the door vanish. Few more coloured doors appeared here and there in the sea, some didn’t open despite me trying to open them, while most that opened, I chose not to get through them, as they made me anxious about where they might lead me to, by the time I decided to go through them, for some odd reason the doors either vanished or remained closed and just wouldn’t open.

I kept rowing and numerous doors kept appearing. My anxiety and fear started to worry me. I couldn’t understand what was happening. How was I supposed to choose the right door and find my way back? Will it take me back to the island or will it take me to some other dangerous place? I stopped rowing overwhelmed with worries, tears rolled down my cheeks, I clenched my dress on my knees with a tight grip. I knew, I was lost. “I’ll probably die in here alone, and no one would ever know” it was my fear talking.

“No, I’ll definitely find a way out” I finally said out aloud with all the courage I had left, trying my best to sound brave. Atleast it sounded braver than I felt. Just then I heard a VOICE.

I jumped to a corner of the boat when I saw the source- “I didn’t realize you could talk” I said to the boat.

“That’s okay, I couldn’t talk, not until now. That’s how things work here. I can only talk when the one riding me overcomes their anxiety, like you just did” replied the boat.

“Please do not fear me, I am the voice inside you, the subtle supportive voice that stays mute when all your voices of anxiety and fear speak louder” said the boat.

“I don’t understand what in the world is happening? How are you a boat?”

“Don’t worry Maya… Yes I know your name” the boat replied before I opened my mouth to ask. “Remember, all this is just an illusion, but that doesn’t mean what you learn in here is false. The golden key that you found was hope. And I am the voice of your conscience. Now, whatever I am about to tell you is something that you already know, as I said I am the voice in you, but you let your voice of anxiety and fear speak to you louder” said the voice.

“What is this place? What are these doors, why am I here? How do I get back?” before I knew I had blurted out all the questions I had.

“Slow down, I understand you are scared and confused” said the voice. I am sure you’ll understand once you wake up, from this illusion”

“This is the world of Possibilities, you opened it when you touched the golden key. This world acts as a blueprint to how humans choose to live their life in your world”

I wanted to interrupt but decided not to and let the boat continue talking.

“This journey, you rowing through the water is how life is. All the different doors you saw in here are all the amazing opportunities you got to go home to your realm. When you lose some opportunities, many others open up. You let your fear and anxiety, stop you from opening few doors, didn’t you?”

There was silence, the boat had stopped talking. I realized what the boat was trying to tell me, I knew how to get back home.

I opened the door in front of me and walked through it and within seconds the landscape changed and I was back on the seat of my bicycle. I looked around and saw the golden key lying at my feet. “This was all real then” I thought as I bent down to pick it up but just then.. It vanished.

The newly gained confidence and hope brought a smile on my face, I had learnt what I had to in my life and cycled my way to my friends. To this day, I haven’t told this story to anyone, except share the lesson I learnt to all.

“Don’t let lose the rare golden opportunities that come your way, every door that comes your way opens up a new possibility. Don’t let your fear and anxiety, stop you from opening the door of possibilities. You never know, that door that you fear to open right now, might just be your next golden opportunity”.

Halloween 2020: Re-Assimilating the lost symbolism and customs of Halloween

Blog by Himani.

Halloween today is nothing how it could have been hundreds of years ago. Nor we see those primeval rituals and customs maintained as they were when Halloween was originally celebrated.

31st October, originated from a Celtic festival Samhain(sow-in), translating to summer’s end, Halloween today is celebrated by lighting bonfires, wearing costumes, going for trick or treating and house parties, partaking in house/yard decorations etc.

Even before the first fall of the leaves, even before the autumn starts, you’d see Halloween stores set up and decorations are already on sale. No one can deny we all love spooky, ghostly, eerie, cold, skittish kick of Halloween time. And don’t we wait just for this time of the year? To live the cold of the air once more, to feel the fear in the air, and once again, to have a smack of Halloween’s capricious excitement.

Though, this is not what excites me, being a lover of history that I am, I couldn’t help but wander my ways through learning about Halloween’s history and its lost symbolism and customs over the decades. So, if this interest you. I say and you shall. Read on.

Pumpkin Twins by David Menidrey (photo courtesy Unsplash.com)

Halloween History   

Halloween was celebrated by celts 2,000 years ago. The day was marked as the end of the summer and the beginning of cold, dark winters. The Halloween date today, 31’st of October, became so much more than just a marking of ending and beginning of a season as the time went on.

Samhain/Halloween/Hollow’s eve became the day before the new year, the day of bringing the new fire, the day the king would gain his powers, also for some reason it became the day, where the boundary between the both worlds (the dead and the living) is thinnest. Though there are absolutely no evidences, what and why was this decided or recorded and followed through. But it surely stuck throughout the centuries.

Halloween Symbolism

Some symbols of Halloween- the witches, jack o lanterns, bats, ghosts and skeletons, spiders and webs, bonfire, broomsticks and candles, black cats and pumpkin are all key symbols of Halloween. Nothing that it stands for today. In earlier days, Halloween was all about, the harvest, all saint’s day, all soul’s day, soul night, Soule-cake. And of course, as there were witches there was fortune telling customs. Which… there are… many. Halloween is too much to some up in something so little.

Here, I am leaving you with some old stories and customs you could try this Halloween. From making the deal with the devil, to looking into the future.  Do you want to know the name of your future lover? Or the number of years in you’d be married? All you must do is keep reading.

Devil- A deal with the devil– A farmer makes a deal with the devil. The farmer agrees to pay up when he would harvest his first crop. The farmer goes out and plants acorns.  

Candles-  one of the Halloween’s custom suggests, if you want to know the number of years before you’ll marry. You should. Take a candle, place it in the sink on a Halloween and hold a thread over the flame while counting slowly. The number of years before the thread burns, twice that and that would be the years before you will marry.

Holding Candle in October by Rebecca Peterson- Hall ( Photo Courtesy- Unsplash.com)

Ghosts-  It is said, on Halloween there are more souls in each house than there are grains on shores of the sea. Halloween always been a time where ghosts have believed to be walking amongst the living.  They return on the realm of the living for one day and one night.

Photo by Artem Kovalev. (Photo Courtesy- Unsplash.com)

As of one of the old customs- windows were left opened and beds were uncovered just so ghosts can return to the mortal land and can enjoy mortal comforts.

Apple Parsing-  Apples feature form apple bobbing, candied apples, caramel apples, decos and fortune telling.

According to another fortune telling customs- An apple is pared and the peels are waved over heard three times, before being thrown over the left shoulder and then read. And that’s a Fasttrack Halloweeney way of revealing initials of your beloved or to know your fate. But only if you sing-

Pairing, pairing long and green,

Tell my fate for Halloween.

Afternoon Sun by Bao Nguyen ( Photo courtesy- Unsplash.com)

Witches- greatly feared on Halloween, as per saying –

Hallowe’en will come, will come,

Witchcraft will be set going,

Avoid the road children, children.

Witches were seen as someone capable of transforming themselves in number of animal forms, their league with the devil, practicing their malicious art with the cauldron and chants. They were largely feared for abducting children.

I See You by Raquel Pedrotti (Photo Courtesy- Unsplash.com)

Bonfire-  the custom involves- tossing of nuts (chestnuts or any other nuts) onto a bonfire to predict the future. If the flames dance around when the nuts are thrown in, the coming year will be full of fun and excitement. And if the flames don’t change, the coming year will be dull.

Photo by Minh Trung Tran Cao (photo courtesy- Unsplash.com)

Wood-  Another of the fortune telling custom was to keep a small sliver of wood in a glass of water on your bedside on the Halloween’s night.

And chant the chant below, prior sleeping.

Consort of mine, that is to be,

Come this night, and rescue me.

And as you fall asleep, this will invoke the Halloween’s magic dream of falling off a bridge only to be saved by your future intended.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao (Photo Courtesy- Unsplash.com)

There are many, many more customs and rituals that involves, stepping/walking backwards to look into the mirror, wishing, and encircling the willows for finding your future intended, the beloved and true love. I cannot enlist them all. But they all are very rich and playfully interesting.

By now you know, what you are missing out on “modern” Halloween’s day. I hope this Halloween you try something new. Maybe one of the fortunes telling customs to find out how your next year will be, or maybe to find initials of your future intended. And if you really want to take it there, then maybe making a deal with the devil.

Photo by Melpoole (Photo Courtesy- Unsplash.com)

Life can be Foggy at times…

Foggy day VANCOUVER

Day before, I was driving to work. I haven’t seen that much fog in my entire time here at Vancouver. I took a few pictures on my way (of course not while driving. LOL). My thoughts went around it and found a beautiful positive twist to it. I always love when I get positive vibes. If I can find something to relate or help others through my random thoughts. I will. Here it goes.

I cannot see much in front of me when I was driving. I could hardly see a few meters. Did I stop driving? Did I get scared and parked the car? No. What I saw is when I drive slowly forward, the images get clearer and clearer. I could see. The point is, Same as our lives. We all had our bad days. If we stop pushing forward, we will stay in our status quo. We cannot improve ourselves. Same as future, we cannot see, but what we can see is right now. So if this “right now” is clear to you, why you want to worry about the future?

“Fogg about our FUTURE will clear by itself if we move forward with clear sight of NOW” – Ajay Nair

I am going to quote this above sentence now and then. For me, it gives us a message. Nature itself showed us the message for a long period. As usual, we never saw the message, or we failed to interpret the nature’s signals. Foggy days are a perfect example. Never stall your life worrying about future or past. Just like Fogg clears up, as we move forward driving, same as our life and future will visualize.

The pictures I took, I will share here. The images are not clear due to Fogg, but what you can see can be considered as “NOW”. It is very clear and beautiful too. It gives us an obvious interpretation. What is behind the Fogg, is our future. Walk with head held high, future will come in front of you clearer. I love it and I hope I am sharing this to some of you who may love it too.

Thanks for reading. If you agree, please share, read my books, blogs and poems. Love you all. Remember, Fogg is not here to stay…Stop fogging up your mind with thoughts related to future and see clear what is NOW.

Gandhi Jayanti- October 2

MAHATMA GANDHI

Born as an Indian, one can never forget this date. Can we?

In our blood, brain and cells, October 2 etched on us. We die with this date on our hearts too. Proud to be Indian, just because this personality was born in India. Many of us learned a lot about his teachings during our school days. The man, the leader, the guru and ofcourse most fierceful freedom fighter. His biggest weapon is “Ahimsa”

Many leaders followed his teachings and messages. Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Nelson Mandela to name a few among them. Today also many influencers take his teachings and interpretation to reach masses. Remember, he did this with no social media help. He did this by walking in to masses. I would like to remember Terry Fox here. He did it by himself to bring change. His legacy still follows many years of him leaving us.

Mahatma Gandhi inspired people by leading them with what he preached always. He never leads them from behind. He was there, walking with them. I still remember the screenings of his footages we have from freedom fighting days. Those black and white fast motion movies definitely moved our hearts.

I do not know whether in our lifetime another Mahatma will come in our lives. I know this much, Mahatma had given us a lot for our generation and many more generations to come. His teachings are still relevant and will not get outdated, regardless of what century we are in. How many of us can say this with confidence, the lessons we give to our children will be relevant for a different century. I highly doubt that.

This October 2nd we are celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 151st birth anniversary. During this pandemic, I want to say, believe in ourselves. We will come out of it. Gandhi believed in Ahimsa, and he knew that is the only weapon he needed to get freedom for India. He believed, and he reached masses with this message. Today, politicians are struggling to reach masses with a simple message like “Wash your hands, Wear masks”. I am not comparing politicians to Mahatma Gandhi. I am just saying he was divine. The most important teaching he gave us and influenced me is

“Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if we cannot practice it in full, we must try to understand its spirit and refrain as far as possible from violence”

He is our superhero for our nation. We lovingly call him Bappu. Happy Birthday dear Bappu. You are our father and will be always in our hearts as our Nations Father. Salute.

How are you? Really!!!

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

How are you? Really!!

We got in to this habit when we pass by our colleagues and friends. Simple words with no meaning, really. People became so robotic these days to answer. I am good. Thanks. Really? Are we good?

Pause for a second here…

I have been pondering this for a while now. At first when I came to Canada, I saw people were so courteous saying “Good Morning and How are you?” I felt fantastic. That we cared. Over the years living here, I see this as just a custom. I see people asking this and the answer comes very robotic. No connection what so ever. “I am well, thanks. OR I am fine. OR Good”

How are you? Really!!

This is something we should ask ourselves daily. This needs to happen. Many people around us are under mental agony. Still, when we say, How are you? (Reason I used the word “say”. I do not think we are asking people anymore. We are just saying for the sake of it). Many times people ask this and walk away before even the person responds to you. We assume they are going to say they are ok. Why we do it, because this has become so robotic to us. I have seen it and I am guilty of myself doing that to others. Everyone of us is busy. But why?

Reset ourselves. It is very important. Mental health professionals are recommending nowadays to ask ourselves daily How are we doing. Think about it. Are we doing well? Why are we running like a headless chicken every day? Why are we not happy? If we give ten minutes of our time to self reflect, we can re channel our focus.

I am going to focus on this thought from now on. I also will pause and mean it every time I ask someone, “How are you?” With this pandemic situation, we are more isolated than ever. The human touch is missing. All we can do is show the care for others. This may make someone’s day. They may want someone to talk to. Stop by your colleague’s office. Have a chit chat following the social distance protocol. Now with reduction of workforce, there are many who you have worked with are sitting at home. Call them up for a few minutes. Talk to them. Ask them “How are they?”. This may give them some fuel to survive for a week. All I am saying here is “Don’t be selfish. Care about others.”

I am asking all the people who are reading this “How are you? Really!!!” Comment below. I am looking forward to have a conversation with you guys. Share this blog to your friends if you want to ask them, “How are they? Really!!!”

I am also leaving you this video from youtube. It is apt and align with above thoughts. If you really think about it.

Introducing Aswathi Ashok- New member to our Guest bloggers

“Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth”

                                                                                              -Khaled Hosseini

I truly believe that stories can be a great way to learn a lot of things in life in a more interesting way. All of my guest blogs will mostly be fantasy – fictional short stories, and other fun bookish blogs. Before I dive into writing short stories, I thought it’ll be a great idea to introduce myself to you all. 

I am Aswathi Ashok, an aspiring Author living in Singapore. I have been an avid reader since childhood. I enjoy creative writing and love spending my time creating short stories or reading. I aim to do something creative every day because it makes my soul happy. I enjoy doing a lot of things and hence have so many hobbies.  My answer to this particular question “What are your hobbies” would probably be the longest. Few of my favourite are as follows – Travelling, Reading, Writing, Swimming, Singing, Dancing and Photography. I Love both Art and Science. I have done my masters (M. TECH) in Biotechnology. I worked as Research Assistant at A*STAR, a research Institute in Singapore. I have enjoyed scientific writing while working on my scientific review papers. Currently focusing on my creative writing skills as well. 

My hubby and me, we are a bookish couple who love travelling together. Books, Coffee and Travelling together to explore historical places are our favourite things to do. We run a travel blog “COUPLE TRAVEL TALES” to satisfy the history buff in us. The blog mainly focuses on the history, legends and culture of all the places we visit. Our recent visit was to Egypt and Turkey. We are currently working on our blogs on them. I write on medium as well. My favourite genres include Historical Fantasy, Mythology, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror and Classics. I write fantasy-fiction stories with an eerie touch to it, hoping to inspire others who read them as well. 

I grew up reading Enid Blyton books but I seriously fell in love with reading because of J K Rowling ‘s Harry Potter Series. My recent favourite Trilogy that I can’t stop talking about is “Winternight Trilogy” by Katherine Arden (This series is based on Russian Mythology, I’d highly recommend reading this series to everyone who enjoys reading historical fantasy books) . I am at present binge reading Neil Gaiman’s books and honestly, I admire him as a writer, love his style of writing and creativity. 

When I don’t read or write, I binge watch Netflix with my hubby, we also do have two cats at home – Nemo (Ginger-white, male) & (Coffee – female Calico). Few of our favourite Netflix series are as follows: The Grimm, Once Upon a time, Lucifer, The Originals, Vampire Diaries and Cursed. 

I am really excited to be a part of www.onewhohatedbooks.com  as a guest blogger. Here I’ ll be focusing on writing short stories and also on why I love writing /reading so much, you can also expect a few book recommendations to inspire the reader in you. So if you love reading short stories with a spooky touch to it and are up for some bookish blogs, don’t forget to follow my guest blogs here that I ‘ll be writing every third-fourth week of the month. Thank you so much Ajay for giving me this opportunity. 

Follow me:

Instagram : www.instagram.com/purringbookshelf

Medium: https://medium.com/@purringbookshelf

WordPress: https://coupletraveltales.com/

Pandemic has affected all of us in some way or the other. I really hope the situation resolves soon and the world heals. Until then stay home, stay safe and stay healthy. I hope you enjoy reading my stories.

Happy reading!

Aswathi Ashok

Reset- A Natural Phenomenon

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

Now 8 months in to 2020. Is world trying to reset here? I wonder sometimes. I feel like a standstill everywhere. I want to think positive here. Why we are hearing so much bad news these days? I put together a few pointers here.

1) As a human being we took granted many things nature has provided to us.

2) We felt we are above everything. We developed this arrogance of saying we have knowledge.

3) We left our humbleness and abuse nature for our short-term gain/ happiness.

I can talk over and over on this topic. However, my point here is human beings are not anymore humans. They slowly have become someone who lost their respect for nature and its gifts. Somehow this entitlement feeling took over us. We behaved like we created all this. We created some perishable items and felt like supreme power. We ignored what nature had stored for us, which is not at all perishable. We ruined it by what we call “Life style or Modernization”

Think back, our forefathers they worked hard on land and lived on what the land provided to them. They never tried to destroy the land. They preserved the land for the future, which is what we got as a gift from them. Now what are we going to give our kids. RUINED and UNWORTHY land. I would like to call, We raped mother nature already so much that it has started now to retaliate.

Last few months from march, it gives us a shock treatment by nature. You call it china virus, or factory produced virus. Regardless, nature is taking a U turn here. No doubt. We see clear skies and clear water. Just simple 5 months, we already see this much difference, you can imagine how powerful this nature is.

Take all the incidents world all over, movement to positive is happening. BLM, Women empowerment, Me too, all leads to reset. I am glad to see people are finally coming together to do something for their kids meaningful. Once we worshipped water, fire and air. Now we don’t even give any value to these three necessities. We pollute nature as if we own these and we create these. Stop making fun of those individuals who pray to these elements. They understand the importance of those fundamental key things. These three keep us alive. I came from a part of the world where water is someday a luxury. I know the value of it. We had gone days without water. We also had gone days with the flood. I know the importance of taking care of nature. The only way we can give a healthy life to our future generation.

So friends, stop abusing the nature. Do what you can to help the nature.

My Next projects Cover Reveal

Hi literary lovers. I am very excited today to finally reveal my cover designs for projects which are lined up for release in the coming months. The dates are not solid yet. But I will try my best to get this out for you all to read by the month I have outlined below.

Cutie Fox went to fiji

This is going to be a fun book for kids aged between 3 to 8 years old. Sequel series of Cutie Fox stories. This time, Cutie Fox and family are going to Fiji to attend his cousin’s wedding. What happens there and his experiences will take any child explore their curiosity. Story has many positive messages and will have sight words. (Aiming to release by Sept or Oct 2020)

COok with no rules

“Recipes and tips to spice up your boring wraps” The tag line says it all. Book is to help and create healthy wraps with Indian flavor to it. Target to motivate younger generation to eat healthy with more vegetables to their diet. This wrap fillers are all cooked, no raw vegetable. Packed with flavors to explore.( Aiming to release Dec 2020)

Trust me- One Woman two lives

Torn by many society practices, Lakshmi landed in to safe hands of Kelu. Many years later trouble looms around her past. Daughters both suffers through the system of untouchable anarchy. Losing her mother and sister in one day, Bhavani is all set for revenge. Can she step up to her brother in law? Trust Me- One Woman Two Lives is an emotional roller coaster with many lives entangled in danger and true blood relationships. (Aiming to release March 2021)

Please do support my current books on sale. Droplets, Cutie Fox went to town and Celestial Poems. I will keep bringing you more books in the coming years as I have many other projects in my mind. I need support as an encouragement. Thank you all.