And Then I Met Aastha...

Aastha was beautiful and she was fearless. I was self-righteous, scared, confused and attracted to her. But, Jaya thought it was still a good idea. I think she sensed that I would connect with Aastha. So I met Aastha.

Now Aastha instantly understood me. She heard what I had to say and I felt held. She wanted me to be honest with myself. She said, “the more you share of yourself, the more you will receive”. She wanted me to feel, not just think. And Aastha reminded me to act, more than a few times. But really, she just wanted me to invest in myself.

I had met some others before I met her, but none was like her. She contained a sense of community in her. A kind of love that I hadn’t felt before. So I stayed.

She saw me whole and she recognized the various shapes inside me. She offered reflections on the whole and reflections on its parts. And then asked me to take what was mine and leave what wasn’t. 

We would together enter unfamiliar spaces. Rooms with things spread out on the floor. As I related to those things, it was her that saw what I wasn’t saying. Sometimes, she would create a space, by arranging people, like they were arranged in my life and then asked me to talk to them. Bizarre and terrifying moments of watching and being watched and yet lovingly revealing and nurturing. Throughout those moments, she would be by my side, with her hand on my shoulder.

Whenever I am with her, I am Alert. I often feel Challenged, Threatened, uncomfortable. I was looking at shame, I just didn’t know it then.

Over many lemonades and chaas, she would cushion the blow of my witnessing. Witnessing myself and the others. She told me stories. Stories from her own life and stories that she had heard. Sharp and tender open ended stories that nudged me to make my own meaning of them. But mostly, they contained what I needed to hear.

I wondered how she did it all. Where did she learn to speak like that? How did she become and be like that?

Now, I couldn’t recognize myself by our second date and I was completely lost by our third. She held me tight though. She sang for me - “Take that plunge…you will land on your feet.” “I’ll be right here”, she said.

I wasn’t myself for a while. She let me be, even invited me to create spaces with her. Bit by bit, I find myself healing and enjoying these spaces. Mirrored in them and energised by them.

And now, when I am able to carry some of her in my work, sometimes, just sometimes, I get asked, “Where did you learn to speak like that? How do you be like that?”

I feel fortunate for being a part of Aastha. I am beginning to see a part of her in me. I wish for her to carry on investing and be invested in. As she persists in her inclusion, I wish for her to be included by many more people and in many more spaces.

Varun Rupela
Professional Member