Friday, May 30, 2008

The Last Leaf - by O'Henry

Here goes one of my favourite short stories written by O'Henry..

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called "places." These "places" make strange angles and curves. One street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!

So, to quaint old Greenwich Village the art people soon came prowling, hunting for north windows and eighteenth-century gables and Dutch attics and low rents. Then they imported some pewter mugs and a chafing dish or two from Sixth Avenue, and became a "colony."

At the top of a squatty, three story brick Sue and Johnsy had their studio. "Johnsy" was familiar for Joanna. One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met at the table d'hote of an Eighth Street "Delmonico's," and found their tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the studio resulted.

That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown "places."

Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman. A mite of a little woman with blood thinned by California zephyrs was hardly fair game for the red-fisted, short breathed old duffer. But Johnsy he smote; and she lay scarcely moving, on her painted iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window-panes at the blank side of the next brick house.

One morning the busy doctor invited Sue into the hallway with a shaggy, gray eyebrow.

"She has one chance in-let us say, ten," he said, as he shook down the mercury in his clinical thermometer. "And that chance is for her to want to live. This way people have of lining-up on the side of the undertaker makes the entire pharmacopoeia look silly. Your little lady has made up her mind that she's not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?"

"She-she wanted to paint the Bay of Naples some day," said Sue.

"Paint?-bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about twice-a man, for instance?"

"A man?" said Sue, with a jew's- harp twang in her voice. "Is a man worth-but, no, doctor; there is nothing of the kind."

"Well, it is the weakness, then," said the doctor. "I will do all that science, so far as it may filter through my efforts, can accomplish. But whenever my patient begins to count the carriages in her funeral procession I subtract 50 per cent. from the curative power of medicines. If you will get her to ask one question about the new winter styles in cloak sleeves I will promise you a one-in-five chance for her, instead of ten."

After the doctor had gone Sue went into the workroom and cried a Japanese napkin to a pulp. Then she swaggered into Johnsy's room with her drawing board, whistling ragtime.

Johnsy, lay, scarcely making a ripple under the bedclothes, with her face toward the window. Sue stopped whistling, thinking she was asleep.

She arranged her board and began a pen and ink drawing to illustrate a magazine story. Young artists must pave their way to Art by drawing pictures for magazine stories that young authors write to pave their way to literature.

As Sue was sketching a pair of elegant horseshow riding trousers a monocle on the figure of the hero, an Idaho cowboy, she heard a low sound, several times repeated. She went quickly to the bedside.

Johnsy's eyes were open wide. She was looking out the window and counting-counting backward.

"Twelve," she said, and a little later "eleven"; and then "ten," and "nine"; and then "eight" and "seven," almost together.

Sue looked solicitously out the window. What was there to count? There was only a bare, dreary yard to be seen, and the blank side of the brick house twenty feet away. An old, old ivy vine, gnarled and decayed at the roots, climbed half way up the brick wall. The cold breath of autumn had stricken its leaves from the vine until its skeleton branches clung, almost bare, to the crumbling bricks.

"What is it, dear? Tell you Sudie."

"Leaves. On the ivy vine. When the last one falls I must go, too. I've known that for three days. Didn't the doctor tell you?"

"Oh, I never heard of such nonsense," complained Sue, with magnificent scorn. "What have old ivy leaves to do with your getting well? And you used to love that vine, so, you naughty girl. Don't be a goosey. Why, the doctor told me this morning that your chances for getting well real soon were-let's see exactly what he said-he said the chances were ten to one! Why that's almost as good a chance as we have in New York when we ride on the street cars or walk past a new building. Try to take some broth now, and let Sudie go back to her drawing, so she can sell the editor man with it, and buy port wine for her sick child, and pork chops for her greedy self."

"You needn't get any more wine," said Johnsy, keeping her eyes fixed on the window. "There goes another. No, I don't want any broth. That leaves just four. I want to see the last one fall before it gets dark. Then I'll go too."

"Johnsy, dear," said Sue, bending over her, "will you promise me to keep your eyes closed, and not look out the window until I am done working? I must hand those drawings in by to-morrow. I need the light, or I could draw the shade down."

"Couldn't you draw in the other room?" asked Johnsy, coldly.

"I'd rather be here by you," said Sue. "Besides, I don't want you to keep looking at those silly ivy leaves."

"Tell me as soon as you have finished," said Johnsy, closing her eyes, and lying white and still as a fallen statue, "because I want to see the last one fall. I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of thinking. I want to turn loose my hold on everything, and go sailing down, down, just like one of those poor, tired leaves."

"Try to sleep," said Sue. "I must call Behrman up to be my model for the old hermit miner. I'll not be gone a minute. Don't try to move 'til I come back."

Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the ground floor beneath them. He was past sixty and had a Michael Angelo's Moses beard curling down from the head of a satyr along the body of an imp. Behrman was a failure in art. Forty years he had wielded the brush without getting near enough to touch the hem of his Mistress's robe. He had been always about to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet begun it. For several years he had painted nothing except now and then a daub in the line of commerce or advertising. He earned a little by serving as a model to those young artists in the colony who could not pay the price of a professional. He drank gin to excess, and still talked of his coming masterpiece. For the rest he was a fierce little old man, who scoffed terribly at the softness in any one, and who regarded himself as especial mastiff-in-waiting to protect the two young artists in the studio above.

Sue found Behrman smelling strongly of juniper berries in his dimly lighted den below. In one corner was a blank canvas on an easel that had been waiting there for twenty-five years to receive the first line of the masterpiece. She told him of Johnsy's fancy, and how she feared she would, indeed light and fragile as a leaf herself, float away, when her slight hold upon the world grew weaker.

Old Behrman, with his red eyes plainly streaming, shouted his contempt and derision for such idiotic imaginings.

"Vass!" he cried. "Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for you fool hermit-dunder-head. Vy do you allow dot silly pushiness to come in der brain of her? Ach, dot poor lettle Miss Yohnsy."

"She is very ill and weak," said Sue, "and the fever has left her mind morbid and full of strange fancies. Very well, Mr. Behrman, if you do not care to pose for me, you needn't. But I think you are a horrid old-old flibbertigibbet."

"You are just like a woman!" yelled Behrman. "Who said I will not bose? Go on. I come mit you. For half and hour I haf peen trying to say dot I am ready to bose. Gott! dis is not any blace in which one so gooot as Miss Yohnsy shall lie sick. Some day I vill baint a masterpiece, and ve shall all go away. Gott! yes."

Johnsy was sleeping when they went upstairs. She pulled the shade down to the window-sill, and motioned Behrman into the other room. In there they peered out the window fearfully at the ivy vine. Then they looked at each other for a moment with out speaking. A persistent, cold rain was falling, mingled with snow. Behrman, in his old blue shirt, took his seat as the hermit miner on an upturned kettle for a rock.

When Sue awoke from and hour's sleep the next morning she found Johnsy with dull, wide-open eyes staring at the drawn green shade.

"Pull it up; I want to see," she ordered, in a whisper.

Wearily Sue obeyed.

But Loa! After the beating rain and fierce gusts of wind that had endured through the livelong night, there yet stood out against the brick wall one ivy leaf. It was the last on the vine. Still dark green near its stem, but with its serrated edges tinted with the yellow of dissolution and decay, it hung bravely from a branch some twenty feet above the ground.

"It is the last one," said Johnsy. "I thought it would surely fall during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall to-day, and I shall die at the same time."

"Dear, dear!" said Sue, leaning her worn face down to the pillow, "think of me, if you won't think of yourself. What would I do?"

But Johnsy did not answer. The lonesome thing in all the world is a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey. The fancy seemed to posses her more strongly as one by one the ties that bound her to friendship and to earth were loosed.

The day wore away, and even though the twilight they could see the lone ivy leaf clinging to its stem against the wall. And then, with the coming of the night the north wind was again down from the low Dutch eaves.

When it was light enough Johnsy, the merciless, commanded that the shade be raised.

The ivy leaf was still there.

Johnsy lay for a long time looking at it. And then she called to Sue, who was stirring her chicken broth over the gas stove.

"I've been a bad girl, Sudie," said Johnsy. "Something has made that last leaf stay there to show me how wicked I was. It is a sin to want to die. You may bring me a little broth now, and some milk with a little port in it, and-no; bring me a hand-mirror first, and then pack some pillows about me, and I will sit up and watch you cook."

An hour later she said:

"Sudie, some day I hope to paint the Bay of Naples."

The doctor came in the afternoon, and Sue had an excuse to go into the hallway as he left.

"Even chances," said the doctor, taking Sue's thin shaking hand in his. "With good nursing you'll win. And now I must see another case I have downstairs. Behrman, his name is-some kind of artist, I believe. Pneumonia, too. He is old, weak man, and the attack is acute. There is no hope for him; but he goes to the hospital today to be made more comfortable."

The next day the doctor said to Sue: "She's out of danger. You've won. Nutrition and care now-that's all."

And that afternoon Sue came to the bed where Johnsy lay, contentedly knitting a very blue and very useless woollen shoulder scarf, and put one arm around her, pillows and all.

"I have something to tell you, white mouse," she said. "Mr. Behrman died of pneumonia today in the hospital. He was ill only two days. The janitor found him on the morning of the first day in his room downstairs helpless with pain. His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold. They couldn't imagine where he had been on such a dreadful night. And then they found a lantern, still lighted, and a ladder that had been dragged from its place, and some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it, and-look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf on the wall. Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, it's Behrman's masterpiece-he painted it there the night the last leaf fell."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Path to self-awareness

Knowing what is right and what is wrong in your own inner consciousness is insufficient. It is not the knowing of truth that transforms a person; it is the doing of truth that has an impact on you and on the other people that you interact with. You may know that it is inappropriate to think selfishly and look out for your own best interests first, but your inner emotions may drive you to be blinded to the needs of others.

You may know that it is against your basic truth to judge another individual, but your inner emotions may cause you to look at that person and make a judgment because of the effect you are allowing them to have on your life.You may understand that all of God’s creatures were created equal, but that doesn't stop you, on an emotional level, from feeling that the human race is the most important life form on the planet.

The discrepancy lies not in a lack of information, for the information is available on a world-wide basis for those who would seek it, evaluate it, and accept it as their own; the discrepancy lies in the ability to integrate Universal Law into your lifestyle. Awareness of the self does not just focus into the positive aspects of a personality, or the positive aspects of skills and talents that you brought with you into this lifetime, but into the negative as well; it is only when the positive is weighed against the negative, and the balanced perspective is used as a guidepost in integrating higher consciousness into the self that the influence becomes apparent in your relationships and in your lifestyle.

Self-actualisation can be translated to mean, making the self actual. It means there is no difference between what you think and what you do. There is no contradiction between what you tell others and how you respond yourself. It is manifesting who you are and what you believe in on a dayto-day, consistent basis. The path is a long and solitary one, and many individuals give up. It is difficult to accept what our conscious choices in the course of a specific existence have driven us to do to other people. It is hard for us to accept that we have been selfish, or resentful, or spiteful. It is hard for us to see where we have deliberately manipulated our lives so that we have control over the people and the situations and the events within it.

It is not easy to admit that we are not the positive, smiling, loving person that we prefer to see ourselves as; when, in the course of personal growth, it becomes necessary for an individual to truly, honestly evaluate how they have interacted with their fellow human beings, the drop-out rate skyrockets.

This is unfortunate, because personal growth cannot proceed — self-awareness and self-actualisation cannot be accomplished — without a true and open acknowledgement of who we used to be and how we used to live our lives, no matter how unpleasant that panorama may be. This does not mean that we need to spend years of our lives suffering regret and remorse for the wrong we have done in their lives to other people. It does mean that we need to take a reasonable amount of time to look back and to evaluate honestly what was really at play in any particular situation, where the two parties were really coming from, and where each conducted themselves with less than universal love.

We cannot change the past; we cannot undo the influence that we have upon other people by our thoughts and our feelings and our reactions, but we can learn from that experience and make a personal commitment never to treat anyone with that lack of respect again. If that person is still in our life, we can have the grace to apologise, and share our learning experience, and say, “I’m sorry that i used to be like that. I want to be like this, now, and i hope that you will help.”

It is only by acknowledging our past weaknesses, and sharing our future aspirations, that we can experience the support and encouragement of others on our journey to self-actualisation. If we are not willing to admit that we have ever made a mistake, ever reacted inappropriately, ever deliberately hurt someone, then we cannot admit that we need to change, or that we need other people’s help in doing so. It is, from a soul evolution perspective, selfdefeating behaviour to remain in situations made from the lower consciousness that create less than fulfiling situations and relationships in our lives.
The most difficult thing to do is to live in peace and harmony with people. It is, perhaps, easier to live with birds and animals. Why is living with people a problem?

We know that fire is hot and we accept that fact. If we are burnt by touching fire, we do not blame it. If a whole house is burnt down, we may condemn other factors or blame our negligence, but would accept fire as it is. Its place is undeniable and it is not rejected. Similarly, we accept the coolness of ice, the beauty of flowers, fruits, trees and plants. Again, if we are admiring a beautiful, full moon and someone else comes and starts appreciating it, we don’t say, “Why are you looking at my moon? You have no right to see it!” There is no sense of ownership, no possessiveness; there is acceptance without any projection of likes and dislikes.

The Bhagavad Gita says that a wise person moves everywhere with love and affection. Like the wind blowing freely, he does not get attached to anything. He accepts all. Sometimes people behave nicely, sometimes they don’t. This neither elates nor depresses the wise person. “Such a man of wisdom lives with his senses under control, free from personal likes and dislikes, and therefore, enjoys every object, place, situation and person”.

Also, we find it difficult to live with people because we have too many expectations of them. If i expect something of another, that person may also expect something of me. Furthermore, i am unable to fulfil my own expectations of myself. I want to do so many things, but i am unable to do them. Thus, we feel disappointed and frustrated with ourselves, and aggrieved or upset with others when they fail to satisfy our expectations. I saw a sticker that said, “Don’t try to change me. Accept me as i am”.

It is important to understand the message clearly and completely. The message is that one should accept the fact as it is. Then if a change is necessary, try to make that change, but do not insist on it. Every parent wants the child to perform well and excel whether in sports or in studies.

There is nothing wrong with that. But, to expect something that may not be possible for the child to do, and unnecessarily apply pressure and force, will cause frustration to all.

When one is living with people it may not be possible to have no expectations at all, so one should have reasonable expectations. An artistically inclined child with no aptitude for commerce should not be forced into the family business. Expectations should be reasonable and based on knowledge and wisdom.

As far as nature or the moon is concerned, we do not feel a sense of ownership or possessiveness. But with regard to people this feeling is deepseated and can be very destructive. What we need to have is love and affection. Along with that there should be freedom and space, too.

Two hands joined together leave a gap and can be easily separated. Similarly, we should give space to people. Often we hear people say, “Give me some space please!” If you love a bird, will you cage it and expect it to be happy? It is not possible to love someone and also confine them in that love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

You Can Take Karma Into Your Hands

What is the law of karma?
It is the law of cause and effect. It is something like sowing of the seed. As you sow, so shall you reap. You cannot sow thorns and reap apples.
The law of karma is universal; it applies equally to all. Every thought, word, deed, emotion, feeling and wish are seeds we sow in the field of life, In due course, the seeds will germinate and grow into trees, and yield fruit — bitter or sweet — which we shall have to eat. No one else can do that for us. Krishna can drive the chariot of Arjun but Arjun him self has to aim the arrows in order to win the battle of Mahabharat.
There are causes that produce their effect immediately. There are other causes that produce their effect after a long time. If you overeat, it is a cause you have created. It produces an immediate effect — indigestion. There are other causes which take time to produce its effect, every seed must yield its fruit. This is the law of karma.
We are told, all men are created equal. No one can be so foolish as to imagine that there is actual equality of ability or environment or conditions of birth for all. Why, in the same family, do all children not have equality of ability or intelligence?
A Sindhi proverb says: “The mother gives birth to children; each brings with himself his destiny”. Each one brings his own karma. Among siblings, one might become a millionaire, while another struggles to make ends meet.
Two question arise: 1) Is this inequality the result of karma? 2) And if so, is it fair? The answer to both — as the sages of India have taught us — is in the affirmative. You are the architect of your own destiny. You are the builder of your own life. Every thought, emotion, wish and action creates karma: and we have been creating karma for thousands, perhaps millions of years.
If our thoughts, emotions and actions are benevolent, so-called good karma results. If they are malevolent, evil or difficult karma is created. The good or evil we generate attaches itself to us and remains in our life until we have neutralized it.
Why are our past karmas kept a secret from us?
Don’t you think it is a great mercy of God that our past karmic links are not known to us? Else, it may be difficult for us to live in the world.
How did bad/good karma originate?
Free will gives us the right of choice. We can choose between what the Upanishads call preya and shreya. Preya is the pleasant: the path of pleasure that lures us but leads to our degradation.
Shreya is the good: the path of shreya may, at first, be difficult to tread but ultimately leads to our well-being and spiritual evolution. At every step we have a choice. Many of us, alas, choose the easy path — the path of pleasure — and so keep on multiplying undesirable karma.
If all that happens today is the result of our past karma, is everything predestined?
No. John Oliver Hobbes said: “Men heap together mistakes of their lives and create a monster they call destiny”.
You are the builder of your fate. Therefore, be careful, especially of you thoughts. Every thought is a seed you are sowing in the field of life, and what you sow today, you will have to reap tomorrow.
Change your karma and you will change the conditions in which you live. And you can change your karma by adopting a new pattern of thinking.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

If u find urself bored in the office.... here r some tips

1) .... Never sit idle in office!!! neva make that mistake!!!! should u find urself busy sitting idle, try digging ur nose..... digging ur nose is an art boss!!!! u can roll all ur capital income inside there without any specific rollers or caster !!! even better, try finding out if there exist any natural BY PASS route from one nostril to the other>?>>>>??? hwo knows u might win the PADMA VIBHUSHAN for DISCOVERING something really great.

2) Should ur boss always suspect u saying u give false exuces and that u are not loyal to him when it comes to quoting a tender... Ensure that u stick a board on ur desk sayin " I WORK HERE FOR MONEY, IF YOU WANT LOYALTY , HIRE A DOG"

3) Hmmmm!!!! My boss is always ahead of schedule, ppl.. always.. he is always 364 days 23 hrs and 59.05 minutes ahead of schedule.. always!!!!!!!!!!!!!! next time he hurries up with me, i am gonna reply sayin "has constipation made u walk on the time bomb sir??????"

4)Neva waste ur time listening to ur bosses in his cabin.... take pics of his bald head... Upload the same onto AUTOCAD, CATIA, PRO-E or Adobe, develop a 3-Dimensional view of the same and calculate the curved surface area and the total volume !!!! Don u stop there..... issue a painting scheme, float enquiries and order requisition of paints for polishing the ever polished round yet hugely magnanimous globular no crystalline ever shining BALD HEAD ..... no end no end buddies.... experiment this on many bosses found in yo firm and a deatiled study to be done based on comparison do u know wy??????? following conclusions can be arrived

- Which boss is cheaper?

- Who has the maximum inbuilt space that can house nothing but uslessly the EMPTINESS

- Which boss is his wife's PALTU KUTHA ??? baow baow baow!!!!

5) Once whilst havin a meetin with our consortium partners (all partners in crime , huh!!!) our boss was asked to calculate the CO evolution for the steel making process. now how would a boss remember his 12th standard molecular formulae??? will he??? how can he go forward without relying on his trusted Lieutenants SUBBBY AND DEEPU.... haa..... .. the best we could do.... perfect calculations... we calculated such a way and placed the papers in our boss's file that whilst explanation ,a boss kept sayin., "these calculations were done with in depth knowledge and intrusion of ma brain into the actual and probable analysis done, sir.... the CO evolution is blaa bla bla bla bla!!!! do""""""

What a round of applause.... the calculations revealed that Steel's melting point is just 1500 degrees,.but ma boss's calculations (actually ours) could generate so much heat that it could run a 20 MW thermal power station and give current to Two bombay cities.... brrrrrrrrrroooooooorrrrrrrrrr it was so nice seein ma boss getting on what grounds will he eva even stare at us in front of anyone after he had claimed that those calculations were done by him????? haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

but Subbby , Deepu and Kiran were all ready with perfect errorless calculations to save our company's ass!!!!

6) Remove the connection of the printer and see if the printer still works... Should it not, reconnect it and see if ur connection works.. should it still not ensure u make a comment sayin, the virus ahs screwed even ma DOT MATRIX printer.

7) even worse, remove the compressor unit of ur age old AC's that work in ur office (preferably ur boss's cabins.. for more details pls contact KIRU on BL).. i am sure the AC's in ma office where designed, fabricated and Manufactured just 10 days before the Mahbharatha War started.. The Window ACs ryt now have taken the incarnation or rather the image of the SPLIT AC's .....

8) Avoid using Telephones or wireless modes of communication within office... Do not waste current at home charging ur mobiles either, instead u could use Match boxes and lil strings to get ur data transfered.

9) UNISTALL the Antivirus in ur bosses PC ... let the boss and his PC rest in peace!!!

10) Should u be fed up with ur boss and if he keeps callin u for the meeting again and again when any

vendor or party visits u.... nothing much, stick a board outside ur boss's cabin that read "BEWARE OF DOGS"

11) Try shifting the data from C drive to D drive and again D drive to C drive... find out which takes longer time?

12) Make full use of the comfortable chair and table provided and take a nap.

13) Should your boss ever demand that he wants the work to be done on totality.... u reply him sayin " sir we wish to see your HAIR on ur head to grow in totality too"

14) Should your boss take leave, form a agency and find out if his mother-in-law has come back as one of the Undead and if the boss has really gone to track her to her coffin to drive a stake through her heart and give her eternal peace. .. I guess One day should do it. in short find out how many days he is gonna me off....