First tree with blossoms in the park in front of Icherisheher.

First tree with blossoms in the park in front of Icherisheher.

It’s spriiiing! I’m delighted to see blue skies again, and anticipating white and lilac blossoms, as well as the tulips last year’s Baku-dwellers are raving about. The days are warm, the nights are chilly but I’m simply happy because it’s spriiiing again!

Lots have happened since my last blog entry. Not able to share everything just yet, so I’ll be cryptic šŸ™‚ Let it suffice to say that winter is over. My mourning, black drape shroud–that’s over. And the dead, it’s been raised to life. (Giggling as I scribble this.)

Life has overtaken writing. My students are growing up. Fast. Old acquaintances from India have become friends, and friendships that have budded late last year are continuing to blossom. There were new books read and book reviews left unwritten. There were new haunts to explore, although my fave still remains the same–Nargiz. (Will rave about this find in another entry!) Then, of course, I caught the winter flu and ended up teaching as my fever flamed on.

But rainy winters devoid of snow, thankfully, end.

White blossoms near School 6.

White blossoms near School 6.

Spring also means significantly cutting down on my unlimited craving for cheese and ice cream! Just discovered this little market behind Chiraq bookstore that sells greens with all these spices that tingle on my tongue for 20 quepic per bundle. The little shoppe sticks prices on their veggies and there’s a helpful storekeeper who knows basic English. What more can a hopeless foreign-language-learner ask for?

69_greens

I’ll also be trying kefir for the first time in a moment. It’s a drink that’s originated in the Caucuses, and health nuts are raaaving about it.

It’s spriiing! Excited to chase sunshine as flowers blossom on the trees along the Bulvar.

04_pilot wife

Awashed with relief,
words to describe what I’ve been feeling these past two days.
Awashed with relief.
There’s this song in my heart,
and a new openness to live my next chapter.
Been holding to old characters,
even if they’ve jumped off the pages long time ago.
Suicide.

So today,
I’m awashed with relief.
Done with death,
ready to get on with life,
Baku, best place.
Here. Now.

Found several groups, new, budding, blooming friendships.
Love working with Azeris,
and have also found an interesting conglomerate of people from various continents.
Walks of life.

My heart is open, singing,
visions of new doors opening.
New positive characters,
full of love.
How could I have kept myself in the limited?
Characters, lost lines.

So I’ve joined this book club,
which a Polish friend initiated.
Our first meeting was on “Ali and Nino”,
our next on “The Shack”.
Perhaps I’ll write about them another time,
both books I recommend.

I found “The Pilot’s Wife” in Chiraq.
Not sure if I liked it.
It’s about Kathryn,
pilot’s wife duh.
She finds out about double life husband leading,
overused plot,
of personal and political betrayal.
But this is not what the story is about.
It’s an introspective rendition of Kathryn’s emotions,
as she crawls without choice,
from grief, to betrayal, to not being able to grieve at all.
For the man she thought she knew.
The language lyrical. Contagious.
Riddled with fog mood.

Line from novel resonates with me today.
Scene: she is on a boat, fisherman rowing across ocean,
place where she drops wedding ring.
Intentionally.
To be relieved of love, she thought, was to give up a terrible burden.

Letting go always means death.

But the wind whispers,
It is only death here. On the other side of the glass door, there is a room where you will see your loved ones again. The way they were when it was all new.

And that is the burden of love,
stuck in inextricable maze.
It always hopes.
Beyond death.

But today I woke up,
awashed with relief.
Ready to swim,
heart open
eyes open
arms open
along the waves of the Caspian.

Looking back, it’s very hard to believe that on two separate occasions, I didn’t speak to my Dad for one whole year. (That makes two whole years in total!) I was resentful. Bitter. I felt like he didn’t know me and didn’t care to take the time to build a relationship with me. My heart was hardened. I was in the right. He was in the wrong. I didn’t care if he said sorry. I had decided to build a wall to protect myself from pain.

I’m not sure how things started to turn around for me and my Dad. All I know is that I had finally turned to my Heavenly Father. It was clear that He wanted me to forgive, give my Dad a blank slate, and honor him no matter what. Even in his imperfections. I had to make a heart decision, not once or twice, but several times. And I can tell you that although it was difficult, it was well worth it because I’m now enjoying the rewards of having a loving relationship with my earthly Dad!

Today, as I had lunch with him in Cafe Ysabel, it was obvious that he wanted to spend time with me just talking and enjoying each others’ presence. After being away for a year and a half, there is nothing more I want in this world than to spend quality time with him. Life is short, fragile, full of unexpected turns. I’m choosing to spend that time with loved ones.

They say that actions speak louder than words. Here are some lifelong lessons I’ve learned by seeing my Dad in action.

1. Never give up on the people you love no matter what the circumstance is. My Dad has stood by my mom, sister, brother and me through our ups and downs. We have hurt him deeply on uncountable occasions. But he has never cut us off or left us. My Dad’s greatest joy is the simple pleasure of seeing us and being with us. In today’s world of disposable relationships, where people break ties because they are unhappy or not getting what they want from the other person, my Dad has gone against the norm. He stands by us. Supports us. He is there for all of us when we are sick. When we need help. When we are broke. When we are stomping our feet and throwing tantrums. When we walk through dark emotional valleys that seem to have no end. When we turn our backs on him and betray him. My Dad stands by us, fights for all of us and protects us. I see this choice my Dad makes over and over again and it has cut my heart. I am amazed at his strength. He is like a boxer who keeps on getting knocked out but keeps on standing up again as he slugs through the pain. I can only pray that God gives me half of his strength through the inevitable dark valleys in life.

2. Treat people equally no matter what their race or socio-economic status is. My Dad used to take me to Aurora market, a wet market near Cubao. Every week, a man with cerebral palsy would limp up to him and sell him sweepstakes tickets. And every week, my father would buy a ticket from him. My Dad always greets doormen, waiters, waitresses and other service people. He makes them feel valued by engaging them in small talk.

3. Value learning. You’ll never see my Dad without a newspaper or novel. He is always reading or watching CNN and talking to me about world politics. In other words, he’s a nerd! He is always encouraging me and my brother to explore further studies. He values that I’m an international school teacher so I can share this love of learning with others.

I have the best Dad in the world who has taught me lifelong lessons through his actions. I am so grateful and glad that today I am able to spend time with him and honor him. I love you, Dad!

Have you ever been through a situation that was too painful to face? Painful enough to make you want to stay in bed, hide away from the sun. Blinds closed. Eyes closed. Hands gripping the comforter over your head. You want to fall into a coma. Remain unconscious. Because there is nothing to get up for. There is nothing in you, no cell in your body, that wants to live because there is nothing to live for. Important relationships are severed. Your dreams are dead. You are weak. Defeated. Flatlined.

I have just read David Bonifacio’s blog entry, written to a fictitious/future daughter to help her remember who she is in Christ. Today he is helping her remember that You Are Strong. It reminded me about the season when I flatlined.

They say that every season has a blessing. I can now look back and see the blessing of not having anyone to talk to and completely lean on. It meant that God was the only one I could lean on 100% of the time. He was the only one who could completely comfort me. Yes, family and friends were there to offer prayers and words of comfort. Their kinds words and encouragement were priceless. But they couldn’t be there for me all the time. They have lives and challenges of their own. They couldn’t save me from wanting to fall into the pit of darkness and self-pity. At the end of the day, through sleepless nights and sunny days when all I wanted to do was hide in the dark, the only one I had–completely, totally, utterly–was Christ. His presence dominated my life and literally lifted me out of my emotional pit.

I would read His Words over and over again. Claim them. Speak them in the first person. Until they penetrated my stone heart. And slowly, ever so slowly, His words began breathing life into me again.

Here are some of those words He spoke to breathe life into my heart and the verses that they are based on–

I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Where I am weak and I cannot do anything about my feelings or situation, You are strong. All I have to do is surrender everything to You. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

The Lord is fighting for me. The only thing I have to do is be silent. So don’t say a word. Shut up and let His Spirit do the work. (Exodus 14:14)

God is now healing me and binding my emotional wounds. I can literally picture this happening. (Psalm 147:3)

The Lord has only the best plans for me. I want God’s best. Nothing else. He’s my Heavenly Father and He’s working out my future and giving me hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you find that you’ve flatlined, pray. Read His Word. Listen to Him with your mind and your heart. He loves you. Where you are weak, He is strong. And know in your heart, that this is the season when all He wants is to be first in your life. No one else. Nothing else.

It’s been a month, or perhaps two or three months, of transition. It’s a season of uncertainty. It’s a season where curve balls are being tossed amidst a time where you have to make life decisions.

It’s also been a season where I’ve clung on to my anchor – God. Yesterday, I read a blog entry by David Bonifacio. He imagined himself with a daughter in a world with many demands and opinions. He’s in the middle of a series where he wants his future/fictious daughter to remember who she is in Christ.

It made me remember who I am. I’ve been meditating on Deuteronomy 28:1-14. It’s made me remember that no matter what happens, I am His daughter. He is generous and wants to bless me in every single way.

Will I obey Him? Or will I do my own will? Will I be swayed by others’ opinions? Or will I open my ears and heart to what He says, and trust that He will give me the grace to follow?

Here is what I’ve been declaring every morning based on His word–

Lord, you are first in my life.
You are my Heavenly Father, I am your daughter.
I want to obey You every day and follow Your commands.
I have faith that You are blessing me in every aspect of my life.
I am blessed in the city and in the country.
The fruit of my womb will be blessed.
My family is blessed because You are at the center.
Every thing I touch at work will succeed because of Your power.
People who are against me will always be defeated. They will flee.
You will bless the land that You will give me.
I will lend and never borrow.
You will make me the head and not the tail, so I can bless others.
I will continue to obey You and believe in Your promises.
I love how Your word is coming alive in my life.
I continue to be excited to see how Your promises will come into fruition in my life.
I love you, Lord. Amen.

It’s Holi today. Ear-splitting Hindi music beckoned from downstairs. Unwashed, I tied my hair back, slicked coconut oil on my skin on and wrapped my camera in kitchen plastic.

Trek trek trek. Six floors downstairs. Unarmed. No powder nor gun. Just a camera. Cling wrapped.

“Miss Sacha!” Children screamed. They water sprayed me. Pelted water balloons. Slathered powder on my face. All in the spirit of fun.

Holi, festival of colors, signifies triumph of good over evil. More color wars. Pelting pelting pelting. The evil that pervades. Rainbow colors used as weapons.

Tradition attaches colors to meaning. Red is purity. Matrimony. Pink meaning nothing I can find.

Holi (for me) ended with a sweet milk drink, peppered with cardamom and pistachios.

But from my sixth floor cave, hours after a hot shower, the music plays on. To the beat of the color war.

Pelt pelt pelt.

I love airports. I can read in airports. I can work. I can blog. I love how airports are a portal for hellos and goodbyes, a portal for open doors.

To buy or not to buy? B, where will you take me next? šŸ™‚

So crowded. Need to get away.

Thank God for the second level, an escape from the crowds.

Found a seat I could recline in.

Mad about red.

Mumbai smog.

Above the smog, the great escape.