Friday, November 24, 2017

Nursing for death.

Death is no longer an adventure. They say young ones and old people are one and the same. They need to be treated alike. They need similar TLC. But the thing is, while one nurses the former for life, you do the same thing for the later but for death. I have witnessed both. While the first one rejuvenates you, makes you feel feelings, emotions that you might not have felt before, the later brings out the hidden monster in you. The naked, arid soul gets revealed to you. When you are nursing a toddler for life, you see the progress, you revel and gloat in it. And from time to time you feel a sense of pride and achievement.  But when you are nursing the old ones, the attentive sympathy in the beginning turns to apathy later on. And more than ennui, a sense of helplessness grows while you watch over the disintegration of body and mind. When all is over, it leaves you numb,dispirited and bewildered with many unanswered questions.
The first time I'd felt irretrievable loss was when I finished reading Things Fall Apart (1). Not exactly after reading but while reading Chinua Achebe’s most famous novel. I read that book in my first year of college. I still don’t remember who recommended it. That feeling of deep loss was felt Not when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna or when his son deserts village to embrace new religion or when he kills himself in the end. It was felt when Okonkwo returns to his village after 7 years of exile with lot of plans for a great future and readiness for any amount of physical labour to start from the scratch but finds the scenario in his native totally changed. That had hit me quite badly back then. I felt saddest by that.   Okonkwo returns to his village after exile and realizes that things have changed forever and he cannot turn the clock back. That was the first time I had felt that miserable, crunching feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Death doesn’t always result in loss. One might feel a sense of release and relief when all is over. Likewise Life doesn’t bring joy always. How can Life when it reaches an unacceptable point of no return be made livable? 

(1) Come to think of it, apart from this I guess I have felt Love, Hate, Rage, Despair, Joy, Glory and fulfillment only through either books or movies. Pathetic isn’t it!  I guess in real life I have felt sympathy, understanding, concern, fear, appreciation and a fair degree of anger. Just Being Mortal, maybe. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Coach

He was watching the dance of yellow balls. Beginners, Amateurs, semi- professionals hitting the ball in the four different courts of the arena. The varied sounds made by the racquets as players sent the ball across the net in different trajectories was music to his ears. Even closing his eyes, he could know who was playing on which court just by listening to the sounds made by racquets and movements of players. It was a symphony of sorts.  If on one court it was swift and loud, in another it was short and soft. Yellow furs bounced on the red clay at the command of the player. It was a beautiful scene. He enjoyed watching players chip and charge. He enjoyed training them more.
This was his sanctuary. Here he was playing the role of the coach. Looked up to by all for guidance. The joy and pleasure he felt while imparting what he knew to the young minds was real and sublime. He polished their ground strokes, made them swing and slide with ease. He inspired them to play unconventional game and encouraged them to try out newer shots.  Many of them preferred one-handed backhand. He didn’t need to confirm that they were the fans of the Great Man. While they worked rigorously to develop their game he also taught them to listen to their body. He was a master trainer, physio and counselor all in one for the pupils. They loved it when he was around not just to play with him but also to listen to him. Because he more often than not liked to talk about the game. His passion for tennis was infectious and ignited their minds .
Only in the arena he was at peace. Here he could breathe freely.  The strangling pressure from the broken threads of life that he keenly felt eased a bit in these clay patches. Threads as important as life itself. Each and every one of them. Wife, parents, daughter. But he constantly thought about the woman with whom he felt the connection but had let go.  He knew he won’t do anything about it and it hurt. Was he dishonest with himself?  As an answer to himself he sliced the ball sharply putting heavy topspin.  The ball like a reproach ferociously shot across and landed out of reach from the boy much to his bewilderment at this sudden, unexpected aggression.

Friday, July 07, 2017


Why is it that music channels on radio and tee vee during late hours/graveyard shift play sad songs! I was surfing the channels in this city I hate most i.e Delhi to keep myself awake yesterday. Firstly, it was so hard to find a channel, which was playing the music I knew, to feel, you know a bit of nostalgic! Oh, not in the way of Yesterday Once More but in a whole different way. Even as I was beginning to feel ancient and archaic looking at the stuff that was getting passed off as music, I found one channel. But then soon enough I felt so brokenhearted even though I am not brokenhearted! Because most of the songs that were getting played on the channel, which was playing the music I knew, were forlorn love songs. 
I was beginning to hate myself for not creating a library of my favourite songs for situations like these. One song from Haryali Aur Raasta ‘bol mere taqdir’ which I had listened to years and years ago actually got me thinking again how music messes up with one’s mind. May be Keats was right even though I always doubted how unheard melodies could be sweeter.  Maybe heard melodies throw the door wide open for possibilities, for unheard ones to take birth in our minds. I was the type who listens to one song forever and then ditches it forever. So collecting songs for rainy day was never a habit with me. Once though, I did try but soon realized that the value of the songs once on the system immediately plunged deep down. Veblen goods. Moreover, I had given up on movie music in between and taken up classical simply because I never understood it's complex variety.
Music, they say, is the food for the soul. And I was thinking if one were to consume this type of food, what does one become? The minds that worked on these, what did it want to accomplish? Creativity is nothing but embellishment. So is there a causal effect between unreal and real? In a way ironic.

So now coming back to Tee Vee, why sad love songs? Shouldn’t it be upbeat songs so people who are awake stay awake! Do they do what they do because of some research by a management chap! Do they believe people who are listening to music at that late hour must have lost their heart and soul in the game of Love and they need to be empathized with? And hence they do so with Bollywood mushy songs? I don’t know. But would be interesting to know and to speculate!

Friday, June 16, 2017

When I grow up I want to be.....

The other day got asked what one wanted to become when one was 8 yrs old. I went back in time and realized there was no definite goal that I wanted to pursue when I was that young. Only thing that mattered was to top the class by beating the guy who was a friend and a bookworm. And watch movies in theatres. I wanted to be many things. It depended upon the flavor of the season, experience of the day! 
When I was 8, I guess, I wanted to be Hema Malini after watching Razia Sultan! And then when PT Usha became the golden girl of India I definitely wanted to be a sportsperson/athlete. So seriously pursued Volley Ball, Badminton for a while. I wanted to join Ramakrishna Mission when a brilliant lady who had excelled in Bio-chemistry or something came to our School. I did try reading few books on Vivekananda and Shankaracharya. Everyone thought I was kidding but my cousins started calling me Ms.Vivekananda! At 13, after finishing GWTW, all I wanted was to wait for another 4 years and then marry. Who to, it didn't matter! I just wanted to be foolish. When Pamela Bordes made it to international headlines I wanted to become a call girl. Didn't even have an inkling how one becomes that. But started regularly checking out Life among other magazines in the library to become trendy and fashion conscious and designed my own clothes again for a while! Life was fashionable! There were so many choices one had when one was growing up!
Still get goose bumps thinking about how excited we were all about Life. How keen we were to explore and find out the meaning of this whole existence. How seriously we debated about what and why of Life! May be Kerouac is right. There is no point to this whole joint! Life is not glorious and sublime. But it can still be beautiful. It may not appear so at every moment of the day. But you realize it quite often. 
When you are troubled and in the middle of the night your friend brings a smile on your face with a PJ/KJ then you know Life is Beautiful.                         
When you wake up to the smell of your pet you know Life is Beautiful.       
When you start at the loud thunderclaps and realize that, that child is still there somewhere deep within and not all is lost, you know Life is Beautiful.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Cupboard of Unread Books...

Most people will have at least few books in their collection which they would have got thinking they will read it later. Once you decide to read it at some other point of time, more often than not, that some other time never comes. And in the meantime, those unread books keep falling behind in the queue. And at times they get forgotten also, if you weren’t very keen on reading them in the first place! For e.g books bought out of obligation, as courtesy at book release functions or books gifted to you by all and sundry (Everyone is a writer nowadays!).
I have – can’t tell the number, haven’t counted- a pile of books which have remained unread. Amidst that pile there are obligatory purchases and gifts, but a large number of books are those bought by me. Every time I open the cupboard, invariably I catch sight of more than one book that have remained unread. Standing tall, they accuse me of neglect and bias! And I feel guilty. So I have started keeping them on the reverse so that I don’t see their spine!!
Of course, there are some books I have deliberately left unread or incomplete like for e.g those Amish Tripati type books on Puranas, Mahabharat, which have flooded Airports. There are some, when I look at them, I immediately recall how skeptical I was even while purchasing them about actually reading. My gut would have laughed about the choice but I would have doggedly resolved to read them in order to, may be feel good about myself!  In to this category falls, books like Tao of Physics, Collection of essays by Russel, Jiddu, Osho books etc. As I look at them, I still feel I might read them one day but I also regret not trusting my gut.And there are some in the collection which I had read as young from the library. So may be a strong sense of possession and also wish for reliving those sweet moments would have forced me to get them. But I haven’t come around to rereading them yet. So now the very need for rereading has diminished.And then there are books on anthropology, ancient history, economics which I very much want to read but hardly get time. While growing up it was my dream to have a private library of my own with all those leather bound books in the backdrop just like in Classic movies!! Later, it got narrowed down to a collection of selected books. But unbeknownst to me this collection has become not so selected and chosen. It has everything!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Laughter and Lies

Amidst bouts of clear laughter
I listen to pointed but mayhaps harmless banter

Surprised, I watch that it never reaches eyes
And wonder why it is easier to peddle lies.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Random thoughts

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself     -Hermann Hesse

Do we make up thoughts or is it the other way round? Or is it both ways? May be its both ways!
Just imagine treating thoughts as a separate entity from yourself! If only it was possible to pluck them and throw them in the bin! Is it even possible?

Measureable quotients for everything- Intelligence, Emotional, Spiritual. Why not develop a quotient to measure criminal, fraudulent, machiavellian instincts!

Why do we give so much importance to learning? Can everything be learned? Is it even desirable to learn everything? This tendency to measure and understand where one requires learning, improvement and then forcing one to act upon it is totally unreal. It is like using academic cosmetics for air brushing your personality!

I don't know if  I am being negative.  But it just feels so distasteful!  As if it was not enough for the world to dive deep for showing up as the ideal body and face, now all these sugary sweet know thyself analysis to prep the mind and soul for a better version of oneself in the manner of softwares that get upgraded every once in a while.

Coming to Hesse, he is so right about that stillness! But what happens when one does not want to come out of that stillness? The world I know is the one which makes noise and talks loud. Even those who talk about silence make nothing but noise.  How do we listen to the sound of silence?

Is it only possible in death? I remember listening to the sounds of silence when Anna died. It was 4 years ago! But it still feels so recent. I understood the meaning of the word Smashana Mouna- Silence of the graveyards, back then. Somewhere I had read- or is it a line from a movie- a girl grows up when her hearts broken or when she loses her father. Even if you don't care much about the impression you are giving to the world, the world will make one and you will live to fight it, a friend had warned back then in college. I had laughed. Oh, the confidence of the youth! So Hesse does make lot of sense. Silence can teach, but it can numb you to inactivity and stillness.  May be problem arises when one feels more productive in being inactive and still!!

"The Sound Of Silence" - Simon & Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”