Saturday, 26 April 2014

Liar, Liar, Liar.....

Through my explorations of things that create marks in the mind -  those thoughts that disturb my energy levels and lower their frequency, I realised it was not just places where I judged myself that this arose, but when I judged other people I also felt a similar discomfort in my being. In ripping them apart for something, in effect, also seemed to rip apart the equanimity of my own mind.

I started looking at those words and ideas that caused these reactions - of lowering energy levels. As part of the exercise I put out a question on Facebook with a list of words that I had thought of and asked people on my friend list to add to them. Using some the words and ideas that they shared with me, I started writing these words, seeing what would happen to the word-mark if I kept repeating the written word.

I was trying to recreate the stains created while drinking tea, where it had been my carelessness in pouring tea into the cup.  Sometimes it was because of the greedy gulps I could not quite manage to mouth, while drinking from the cup that also created the stains on my saucer. In an earlier exercise I had left a four-piece- layered muslin on the saucer to absorb the stains. At first I thought I would use this fabric itself, but the marks faded with washing and therefore I had to find another way to create these marks.

So, going round and around the contours of the identified words in Hindi or English I found similar blobs could be created. I also combined a few words like fat slob or stupid bitch and even tried repeating them. If you didn’t know which words had been used – they actually looked a lot like the tea stains I had observed in my saucer. 

My hand writing is small and I wanted to enlarge the word-drawings. So, I went down to the newly opened photo-copy shop housed in our building complex.  Nitin runs the shop and he was curious about what I was doing, so I shared the idea. The next day, when I went back with some more drawings and asked him to enlarge them still further, he asked me if my rendition of ‘Liar’ intentionally had two faces.

I had pencilled in the word next to the drawing so that I knew which word I was working with and he had read that. It was an interesting interpretation which intrigued me because I had not quite come to that point of identifying the association a viewer might give these word-stains.  Therefore, I decided to begin the embroidery work with this word-stain/blob.

I don’t know if the ‘liar’ I had drawn could really be interpreted as having two faces, but it does sort of look like what could be double-speak, which is in effect what liars do. I also think that when we do something that is not really in concurrence with the truth, whether we realise it or not, some mechanism inside us does nag. When people shut themselves off from this voice and if confronted, they tend to appear arrogant. I also discovered that in judging someone, something similar goes on inside of my mind too.

One evening at the start of the swimming season I had finished my swim and was sitting by the pool drinking some [mineral] water.  As I savoured the spirit of hope in an early April evening with the fresh green of new leaves reflected in the pool blue, one of my neighbours came down with her daughter. I sat there sipping from a plastic glass wondering why this woman had not responded to my message inviting her and her child to come see the performance  my art class was putting up in the coming week. She had to pass me to get to the pool but had walked by without acknowledging me. She later did look in my direction a couple of times, but in refusing to make eye contact it seemed that she didn’t see me. I was directly in the line of her gaze so that too was strange. I couldn’t give her the benefit of doubt that I was invisible because with my height and frame I am impossible to miss, especially since there was no-one else at the pool at that time. 

I could have walked away, but I thought I had invited her, so maybe I should remind her of my invitation and reiterate it. I walked up to her and said hello and was asking if she had received my message but before I could finish my sentence she said rather abruptly, dismissively and a tad too rapidly, “sorry, I have been too busy to respond to your message”. She used the word sorry without a hint of anything remotely resembling the humility of an apology, it smacked of arrogance instead – implying that she was too busy to respond to invitations from a neighbour or anyone whom she, at that point in her life, deemed irrelevant to her. And clearly I was in that category – a nuisance rather than an asset.

This idea has always bothered me. I often wonder why is it that I never seem to have the capacity to deem anyone irrelevant enough to ignore them or their invitations, especially when they are known to me and there has been no contention between us, or the capacity for it. Is it because I am not busy enough? Sometimes I do forget things, but during meditation or Reiki things just pop up and this luxury, if one can ever think of it as such, does not exist for me. Once prompted, I do the needful.

Her dismissal of me and my invitation didn’t end there, and I wished that I had not taken that step to talk to her because her attitude was offensive and it left me disturbed. However, I wondered, did it bother her at all?

Did her double-speak which came forward as arrogance rather than a genuine apology, create the kind of blob in her being that my drawings had? When she was speaking to me in that defensive way, clearly implying that she was not really telling me the full truth and that behind that facade of being too busy to respond, something else that had been creating the need to make it seem as though I was irrelevant- did that ring out ‘Liar,Liar, Liar!’ in her mind? I wondered.....

Dealing with what I felt, at the receiving end of this attitude, which at some level, dealt with not telling the full truth. This person was not being able to say whatever else had been festering and that resulted in this strange and unexpected attitude - and in that sense dealing with an untruth, I felt disturbed. I knew that it had less to do with me and more to do with the person and her own mind, but I realised that the energy levels do get passed on and when we know that someone is lying or not telling the full truth the fabric of our own mind begins to get fraught – at least mine does!

I can’t just shrug it off. Eventually I do, but I first need to allow the feeling to speak to me. In observing what went going on, I realised that it tears at the fabric of mind. It shreds it and pulls it in different directions because I’m trying to figure out, where did this come from and why? Have I unwittingly done something to upset this person and what could that be? Since we are not exactly friends and nor do we have much to do with each other and  are barely passing acquaintances who have lived in the same complex for about 4-5 years. We meet at the park or the pool and other common areas and events – and that too occasionally, so what could it be?

 I could feel the fabric being pulled here and there – the sentiment and grace of reiterating the invitation, was being shred in my own mind. Why did I have to do that? Should I have walked away and let it ride? In effect, I could tell that she was avoiding me and perhaps it had to do with the fact that a workshop was in the offing and there was a charge and it embarrassed her – to say that she did not want her child to participate or something on those lines? But whatever it was, it was better to know, rather than let it ride and create a sense of awkwardness in my mind. I prefer not to do that – at least not now at any rate, though I have to confess, I have been guilty of avoiding asking such questions earlier on in my life.

And through this drawing of the threads of thought - on one side and then another and sometimes ripping the whole fabric of mind apart, I could hear ‘Liar’ ring out. It was my judgement of her. I had decided that she was not telling me the whole truth and that was why there was defensiveness in her attitude that echoed arrogance rather than a graceful regret at not being able to attend.

This incident and my feelings about it reminded me of the embroideries that I had been working on where’ Liar’ was the ‘word-stain’ I had been dealing with. I had used the ‘word-stain’ or blob that the word created – inserting this between layers of muslin. After seeing what the marks did when over-laid with fabric that had been pulled apart, I wrote ‘Liar’ in long hand with needle and thread. I was working more from a sense of feeling rather than any conscious realization of things. But, when I picked up the embroidered pieces later that evening, I saw that intuitively I had actually created a texture, evoking the same kind of feelings I had experienced, in relation to this incident by the pool.

And imagined it must be what gets created in all minds - knowingly or unknowingly.  When the judgement is repeated, thinking it would form a rigid pattern – a kind of defence mechanism that actually adopts the idea inadvertently through the process of denial, I have worked it in cross-stitch. I used the letters ‘LIARLIARLIAR’ to create a pattern of sorts.

When you are faced with something similar.... innocuous perhaps..... but then perhaps not - would you say that the marks left in your mind are akin to these thread renditions?


  1. Nice comparisons - I like the way LIAR looked in cross stitch - you are crossing boundaries not usually crossed - well done.
    Manju Kapur

    1. Thank you Manju, for stopping by, reading and writing in. I'd not really considered that I was crossing boundaries but thank you for pointing it out. It makes it all the more challenging & interesting for me to pursue this work within this context of boundaries, now.