Thursday 7 April 2016


Exactly four years ago, I was on retreat in Nottingham with Thich Nhat Hanh and the monks and nuns of Plum Village. April sunshine, daffodils and myself walking mindfully amid hundreds of peacefully paced humans. Thây offered me a daffodil from the stage (well, perhaps he was offering it to all of us, but like all great charismatic beings, Thây makes each of us feel personally invited into his presence).
In my less saintly moments, I remind myself that once upon a mindful moment, I walked in time to the rhythm of a Zen master.

There is another type of Zen I have been practising for five years. The Zen of Children. From the moment Rafael was born until this moment when he is a Grand Five Years Old, I have been accruing rivers of joy, peace and something resembling bliss. Perhaps it is bliss itself. He no longer demands stories sadly. No longer am I commanded, 'Tell me a 'tory, Aunty Shai!' His social life is comparable to any busy twenty-something.

And I barely get a look-in. Never mind, never mind, I console myself. I still have three Under Threes to contend with.

Here in Cambridge, The Twins tear about the newly sprung daffs, try to climb the silver birch and get stuck in veils of creeping ivy. Daily commands include: 'Do Owl! Do Rabbit! Do Pooh!' and I oblige, morphing into the animal of choice. The animals of Shelford are rawther genteel on the whole, with Raf's Gruffalo keeping a safe distance at the bottom of the garden, behind The Gate That Is Never Unlatched. In Singapore, it is quite another story. Bella the Bold has a new catchphrase.

'I'm strong and tough! I'm Tigerbali!'

This said, with all her characteristic ferocity, hair tangled and fingers fisted. Eyebrows drawn low in case you misunderstand and think her only a little girl. No, no, no. You are in the presence of the great grand daughter of Chief Justice Tigerbali himself, and one day she may hold his Sultan inherited sword to prove it.

Meanwhile, I, wilting from endless infusions and immuno deficiencies, intend to make this my new mantra. 'I'm strong and tough! I'm Tigerbali!' All I need is a companion tigress like Princess Precious has with Temujin the Terrible...


Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

you shall inherit the strength given to few. the eyes of your soul have witnessed much in your short stay, i would say more than many. you shall morph into that tiger of strength you've named, Temujin.

gracias for sharing. may health and strength be your friends

Sherry Blue Sky said...

How I adore your posts, especially of the children. What a wonderful Aunty Shai they have, who morphs into creatures on command. You are a fierce Tigerbali too, my friend, though a very sweet one. I love remembering your time with Thay and how wonderful that he handed you a daffodil. Sigh. I cant believe Raf is five and the littles are three already. The years fly by, a bit scary at my age. I so loved this post.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Shaista, am thinking of you and unable to reach you. I upgraded my system and lost your email address. Please e me at .... I hope you are doing okay.

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