By Veenu Banga
Travelling Lighter by Suma Varughese
Life Positive Publications INR 225, 188 pages
Some books can be opened to any page and read with great interest. Travelling Lighter by Suma Varughese is one of those books. Whether on the bookshelf or by your bedside, you want the comfort of Travelling Lighter at arm’s length. A sequel to her earlier book, Travelling Light, every sentence drips with Suma’s down-to-earth, priceless wisdom. Suma writes from the heart and bares her soul. Magazine editor, daughter, caregiver, sister, friend, citizen of the world, she speaks to you with clarity and purpose, sprinkled with generous compassion.
Travelling Lighter is a collection of her columns in Life Positive magazine. Therefore, the most valuable aspect of Travelling Lighter is recognising, that like us, she evolves. We can identify with her thought patterns and her handling of the human conditions that we all confront.
For many of my generation, Face Life, Not Death, could well be personal as we transition into caregivers of our ageing patents, and reversal of roles. Her realisation, “Death will come when it must… but until it does, we must face life”, is both personal and poignant. Much of this book is devoted to her time in this role. In many ways, her caregiver experience becomes the core of her discussion, giving Travelling Lighter a vulnerable, yet charming intimacy, between writer and reader.
You wouldn’t think Suma had self-esteem issues, which she analyses, “was conditioning, brought on by years of living unconsciously, reactively, and fearfully.” Who cannot identify with that? Needless to say, Being Authentic, certainly comes easily to Suma. Her carefully chosen words, her proclamations, her judgements, are all followed by examples, some from observation, and several from her life. She explores the whole gamut of emotions. Her deep honesty forcing you to uncover your own truth.
The book clearly brings out the better side of humanity. In The Kindness of Strangers, Suma paints a vivid picture of two very personal incidents in her life. Both will move you tremendously; they certainly did me. As I saw the 16-year-old frantically at the station, my heart missed a beat. “What if she had been sold into a brothel?”, as her mother points out. Or what if she had bled to death, unknown to any one, and alone in a public place, no less? Then one thinks of all the kindnesses that have touched one’s life, and saved us from drastic outcomes. I was engulfed with gratitude, along with Suma, and grateful for the kindness of strangers. I smiled at my bias towards Sikhs and downtrodden coolies. Oh, but for the underdog heroes! Suma makes you smile and cry in turns. In Out of my mind, she battles with this intrinsic part of us, our chattering, over analysing, finger pointing mind, responsible for several of our woes. Her simple discovery of The Secret of Abundance, her Understanding Strength, her Seven Comforting Truths of Life, will all embrace you. Every page will have some ‘favourite’ lines. For an easy read of heartening wisdom, choose Travelling Lighter as your companion.
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