My three months of vacation in Alberta is coming to an end. There were endless number of things I saw, but a few have left indelible prints in the heart and that is what I have tried to put together in this illustration. These are a compilation of moments that may have changed me as a person. These are important.
I watch him on the reflection on my screen. On days he goes mad. Those days he breaks up things after a bout of binge drinking.I sit unperturbed, on my side of the bed watching the ISS capture the orb, fleeing. Yet, the blackness of space, largely reflects, the ugliness of his being.
It has been therapeutic for me watching myself from space. I do it not often, but mostly on such days. Usually nothing happens as I stare into space. The discs rotate, the earth revolves in the same grand old pace. Amazingly, today, an astronaut showed up. I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. His large gloved fingers right there on my screen. He adjusted his gear, took a while, then he looked down at the lens and adjusted his smile. He believes someone’s watching the live feed, from the blue planet, behind his countenace, below his feet. It’s almost been an hour, I’ve been trying to catch another glance of the him. The man in a spacesuit. Sober and astute. I wait for another chance to screenshoot.
While all this happens at my corner on the bed, on the otherside of the room, I hear songs of regret.
You know, it’s good, sometimes, not to throw things just because they’ve been flung at you. Anger may be misplaced, love, however, finds a way through. Remorseful songs play on his playlist. Old songs burn his memories. His reflection now looks so pale and lean against the brightness of my mummified screen. These songs are killing him, he, who is already dead. I hear him gruntle as he retires, on his coveted side of the bed.
The man in a white suit reappears and I finally chance a second glance. A few screenshots then I turn off my tab. It’s been a long night for all three of us.
All of us floating, in spaces we make.
who’s more lonely today?
Is it the astronaut, is it me or is it him?
In the early hours of dawn, Meursault was me and I was him, facing the wall with perked up ears, unable to sleep. Hardened by truth yet smeared with human flaws, I waited for a wishful light. The rest of the world seemed so certain about life, about truth, about the right and wrong, about who deserved to be condemned and, who, glorified. When it came to the knowledge of how the world worked, I was a pauper. Freedom was an idea created by glossy men in their glossy suits, by religious patrons in their cassocks and saffron attires. Within the four gray walls of a prison, only a man could be trapped, a weak man, however, could be trapped without walls but a man whose strength lay in truth would forever be liberated from the claustrophobic human bondage.
My truth was my only freedom, freedom my only asset.
For days I did not sleep. I just closed my eyes until the faint light of dawn rose upon me, wearing me off my fear. Night is not a good place to be. Night brings unimaginable horrors too bleak to be witnessed in light, the pure white holy light, devoid of a spectrum, that naive people believed in.
Before Newton introduced the ‘celebrated phenomenon of colours’, light and life both were thought to be just a mixture of dark and light. The colour wheel brought radiance into many gray lives. It lent a visual acumen making life a little more prolific and discerning. Theories spun around life percolated and meddled with strong foundations of belief that humanity rested on. Coming to think of it, if the mathematical tool like a fourth dimension never existed, memories would all have been but erased. My life would have been a dot, never connecting to any other elements in time. I would have been a moment, and so would you, in my heart. Reduced to an insignificant moment(not insignificant because we ceased to exist, but) because when everything gets measured in moments there would be nothing significant or rather the opposite. There would be no firsts or lasts, the first kiss, the last goodbye, just the endless hands of time grazing past into a blackhole absorbing all light, all the colours from our not so iridescent lives.
Could this be the existence of Absolute as an entity rather than a concept?
Would we view things without any relation to each other?
How would we view each other then?
Would it make us love or hate more?
Would we be happier? Or would happiness be illogical and sadness too?
Would beauty still be relative?
Would words be futile? Oh but words are!
The futilty of words can be measured by how time contorts it,
by how a singular concept believed by followers of religion and science can define and redefine a dot where it not just a dot but a dot stretched in all axial directions,
how the vantage point of one singular entity changes the perception of history and future,
And mostly how hung up words are on connecting the dots. They can leave impressions only across time.
I have written off so many people in the past as a page in my diary and so many people yet to meet have already met me in my mind, or so, my distorted perception of time tells me. Today, I write in a vague attempt to gratify my human urge to connect the dots. Writing can unleash an emotion which no grandoisely delusional moment can conjure. It redeems. It releases. It helps me repent.
Let my writing be my repentance.
It creeps in only at night, after all the voices subside. That is when you hear just you, like a whisper on a cold night that you can see from a distance but never judge. Softly, like warm silk, it grows on you, wrapping you into a comfort sheet. The voice talks to you, it is the same voice that led your heart to love. So misleading but so convincing. So sinking and so lifting like waves that break upon the same rock day in and day out. Noises subside and you watch the world in mute. The world is awake but mute. In your mind it is. Your sigh at constant intervals is the only sign that convinces you about you living. That, and a lonely dog, faintly howling in half sleep somewhere on an abandoned street on this cold night. Your mind travels there, to that street, that empty street where your footsteps echo against walls on both ends. The crunch under your tired feet tells you autumn has arrived and that the leaves are dying. Another bout of gloom sets in. Your voice is the only warmth you draw life from. Haste is not you. You wait and wonder and watch and wonder again. Your life had been an exhibition. You have been unmasked and ridiculed. You have been rightly wronged. You are a beautiful woman, a living goddess inside a dying hearth.
In shiny Mercedes that park out your door they hoard into your life without a honk. They become a part of you and in hushed voices that scream obsecenity, they climb on you night after night. Do you scream? Do they beg you to? Those sweet nothings that they whisper into your ears, do they mean a thing?
But you lie there, stretched out like a sheet upon a carcass, too scared to move, stained in someone else’s blood. The stench seeps in you. If only every man came with a statutory warning, a label that warned women off. But even then, what good would that do? Your life is a hobson’s choice- take it or leave it. You lay on that bed with no choices at hand. Yet, God has been good. Some kind men have come your way. Coming to unburden the feebleness of their character, they have shed tears on your shoulder. Rational, strong men cloathed in corporate suits now all laying on your scrubbed floor. The floor, no matter how hard you scrub, still feels dirty to anyone else. “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!”, Lady Macbeth mumbles while she continues to scrub the dirt out of her. You are another figment of Shakespear’s creation. The muse for a thousand poetry.Dirt within as well as without. Your beautiful face is a curse you have carried all your life. Who would have imagined the destruction that beauty brings? Who would have imagined what course life would take because of your moon like face?
The moonlight filters into your room. So serene and so chaste. How could anyone compare you to the moon that lies so far away from dirty hands poking every crater? Your craters have been defiled. Husbands and brothers and priests and true lovers, fathers and cons and doctors and lawyers, all have come your way. Naked they lay on your bed, waiting to pounce like a cornered tiger. Even in their nudity you see the sham, the cover up of a virtuous life. Those that talk of changing lives and ruling the world, those who cringe at the very sight of you outside closed doors, those that keep their women away from you, those that call you a prostitute without the least realization that you have prostituted them.
A cauldron of lies emptied over hours of sleepless night when customers flock around waiting for turns. Each one smell different and you hide the smell behind your cheap perfume. They make you happy at times and at times you feel wanted. Behind that door you are a powerful woman. You make them forget the averageness of their mundane sustenance. You rule over many a which makes you feel important. Atleast you give God an excuse to have brought you there. But the moment you step out your bubble world you find your doom – the other woman. She looks at you and smirks. You watch her, hand in hand, with the man who begged outside your door the other night. You feel sorry for this woman. In her righteousness that lies between the parting of her hair, and hangs around her neck like a noose, she condemns you but you still win. Her insecurity and your profanity fit in like pieces of the same puzzle. Somewhere you still hear the dog whining in half sleep. You watch and you wonder like on any other cold night.Your lives, in a funny way are intertwined, like a conundrum without an answer.
“Where is my God? The Higher Power you told me about?” His scream shatters the globe of my faith. No words could restore it; no vision of the divinity could scrape it back from the muck in which it lay now. His trembling lips lathered with a slimy drool speak out a sad tale of desperation ad helplessness. His eyes echo help. I look at him and all I want to do is slap him tight across his face for bringing the devil in, for letting it rule over his life, our lives. For raging a war and then giving up the battle so easily. For lighting a spark and blowing it across, turning it into a wildfire. For setting an avalanche run through us, stifling us and killing us every second that we lay beneath the cold insecurities of tomorrow. His acceptance, his willingness to change, his surrender has pulled him a long way but how much does a man really need to falter. A gram is enough to shake his deepest beliefs and unshackle his fears. He stands in front of mute stone idols. They never talk back to him, yet his expectance baffles my rational sense. A vacant gaze under the blue skies, the idol and him. They both look the same to me somehow. Both Gods in the making, both deciding destinies, both creating a world of their own where they themselves feel out of place and mostly, both mute and abandoned by believers.
Practicality, that is what would have been hidden in Pandora’s box..and technology of course..irrational they may call me and I admit to it..to being this impractical, irrational being struggling in a world that has no space for emotions.
I wonder sometimes how people can do the meanest and the horrifyingly brutal things and then hide it behind a mask of practicality..is that what it is?
I find myself messed up in a web of differences..life seems to suck then but as I gather my way out of chauvinistic rationalism I realize that to be different is something to be proud of..it is an attribute worth cherishing here, where people climb on any bandwagon to look real..
A child enters the world with a mark of innocence but if we carry the same innocence into the lucidity of the grown up human race this innocence is unrightfully termed as foolishness.
The veil of science has shoved into my throat, bitter pragmatic gulps..so bitter you can neither swallow nor throw it up and yet my moral values, my ethics, my principles rage a war against the surrealism of realism.
I rather choose to be fantasized than comply against my will to sit amidst a host of irrevocable fanatics who believe that they are the real makers of the world and who fail to realize that the world is already there..readymade..all we need is to fill in our part of changes in our own small ways..
Sharing 10 of my favourite books. Though I can’t vouch for the fact that these are my favourite reads, I can guarantee you that they will keep you glued to the love of reading, I have also shared some of my favourite quotes from some of these books. Enjoy the list…
The little prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Translated from French, the story revolves around a little lonely Prince fallen to earth from an asteroid. His observations, his love, his friendships and his baffling comments on how strange an adult world could be makes this book hit my lists. Every line in the book invokes deepest thoughts, an unfailing glimpse of how ridiculous a grown up is in the eyes of a child.
“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
A million little pieces by James Frey
A book recommended on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It met with a lot of controversies on being marketed as a memoir but I feel if one could write a fiction so well I wouldn’t care to read an autobiography. This book reflects the struggle of an addict and alcoholic to come to terms with his life. I read it at one go. That is how unstoppable the book is.
“The Young Man came to the Old Man seeking counsel. I broke something, Old Man. How badly is it broken? It’s in a million little pieces. I’m afraid I can’t help you. Why? There’s nothing you can do. Why? It can’t be fixed. Why? It’s broken beyond repair. It’s in a million little pieces.”
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Gifted to me by my student Chaman , this book has stayed as one of my best reads. Holden Caulfield and his infamous rebelliousness is a reminder of our spent youth or misspent youth for that matter. The isolation of teenage life is so beautifully portrayed through Salinger’s protagonist that you can connect so well to an age you passed in spite and rebel.
“In the first place, I’m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard.”
Into the wild by Jon Krakauer
A true account of the adventure of Christopher McCandless where he takes us with him hitch hiking to Alaska. It is a heart wrenching story of his desires to live a life in solitude, his experiments with different phases of life, his unrelenting love for the wild and his realisation for the need of company. It takes you to a journey of it’s own kind. It reminds me and will always remind me of the supertramp I have in my life, Priyajit .
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods; / There is a rapture on the lonely shore; / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep sea, and music in its roar; / I love not man the less, but Nature more… / – Lord Byron
The diary of a young girl by Anne Frank
When the Nazi occupied Netherlands, Anne Frank and her family, like most of the families then, went into hiding for two years. This is a real account of a diary written by that little girl hiding behind the concealed book shelf in one of the rooms. The entries in her diary are poignant with remnants of life in war. This book inspired me to keep a diary of my own just in case India goes to war and I go into hiding.
“Because paper has more patience than people. ”
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
The colour purple by Alice Walker
Recommended to me by Shova, this is another must read in my list. A story of a little black girl repeatedly raped by her father. It’s a story about her unrelenting faith and endless hope. Celie’s letters to God very beautifully echoes her hearts torment. It is certainly a book everyone should read. This book has a strong underlying message on humanism and feminism.
“…have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
The good earth by Pearl S. Buck
Set in a chinese backdrop the story revolves around a chinese man’s fortunes and hardships. The novel is a pulitzer prize winner and an intimidating read for people who enjoy reading classics.Written in a simplistic style the author has captured the essence of the human spirit which transgresses the boundaries of human endurance. It also subtly lingers on the theme of feminism.
“Hunger makes thief of any man.”
Malgudi days by R.K..Narayanan
My love for the series started with the episodes aired on doordarshan. The book came later. As always, given a choice, I would always pick the book. The little fictional town of Malgudi and the little tales spun around the town portrays a light hearted and simple picture of a rustic life. Swami is an unforgettable character and so are many others who have lived on in our hearts through this book.
The Company of women by Khushwant Singh
I have always been a great admirer of the pointy, sharp and blunt writings of Khushwant Singh. His contemptuous words for women have disturbed me at times but never failed to fascinate me. In all truth he writes, a witty old man, with an undying appetite for scotch and women. This book is an unconventional read about love, lust and passion.
Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
Harry Potter…seven books…seven days…that’s how long it took for me to gobble up and swallow down J.K Rowling’s entire series. It was a moment of clarity for me. I realised that no matter how old you got, the world of magic always brought out the child in you.
Well…here it is then…ten books that came to my mind today. Currently, am reading The very best of Ruskin Bond and loving every word of it.
All they could see was a large lump of flesh, obstinate, smelly and lazy. That was all everyone would see. They took her pictures, posted offensive comments, laughed at her face, and applauded at her jokes. She was the brunt of every third joke in a stand up comedy. That was her, a disgusting lump of flesh.
They vouched against racism, against discrimination against religion, caste, creed but it was alright to laugh at her. She fit no controversial agenda. It was OK. She was but a lump of flesh.
She had a name, no one knew. They named her Gluttony and expected her to beckon at their call. They disguised their callousness behind her glutton. They disguised their crude words behind her self-loathing. They blamed her for who she was; a huge lump of flesh.
She carried the burden of her cross. Day by day she dragged it as it grew heavier. They even got a fancy name for what they were doing, “Fattertainment”. Media could be creative and no one blamed the media for flooding them with opinions. She had made poor choices and landed up where she was, they cried. They feared she would create an epidemic. Their fat humour was the best weapon against the lump of flesh.
The weight bias finally weighed her down. It killed her motivation and it crushed her chance. She would never get into that little black dress hidden in her closet, the one she untiringly tried after every session of a sweaty workout. Her genes had failed her as much as her jeans had. Away from prying eyes, all day she would try a new regime, a new diet, a new set of exercise. No one would ever know. She would stand for hours in front of the mirror, wondering why everyone else failed to see her as she would.
She had beautiful eyes, she knew, sadly, only she knew that.
Locked up in her room, she would emanate the fragrance of beautiful flowers, sadly, only she knew that.
She longed for love. Locked up in a room, crushed by their comments, beaten by the unrelenting media opinion, a lump of flesh longed for the love that they all took for granted.
She now rests, in a huge casket. As she disintegrated, like all of us someday will, it was noticed that she didn’t take up much space beneath the earth. They buried her deep, still fearing the epidemic. Filled with bony prototypes of humans created in labs and edited in softwares, this was certainly no world for the big, fat and the f*ugly.
The Elephant God, that’s what Sarah Macdonald called him in her book, The Holy Cow. An indecent mockery, for which her book was criticized by many, but a true account of many facts we close our eyes to. The God of Gods stands smooth, alongside clones of him, all in white, ready to be painted on. Ganesh Chaturthi is here, a festival dedicated to him where the revered Hindu God is celebrated, worshipped and then finally left to rot. Sounds harsh but then truth is always a bit harsh on us, the ten days converted religious fanatics, who dance to the tunes of remixed religious songs in a huge procession on this day.
Celebrated on the occasion of the birthday of Lord Ganesh, this festival lasts for 10 days. The anointed statues are found in every other locality, installed in beautiful pandals. After the ten days of worship, the 11th day is a pinch in any ecological mindset. The esteemed statue is immersed in the water without a second thought about what God must actually have to say about his contribution to pollution. These statues, especially the ones made of Plaster of Paris are huge sponsors to the increasing level of water pollution. Going back to the history of this festival, we come to know that it was celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Sivaji and after the Peshwas it became a family affair. The huge scale celebrations were over taken by small family rituals. The festival was revived by Lokmanya Tilak, a prominent Indian freedom fighter. All he ever wanted was to scale away the inter racial differences at the time of the freedom movement. He must have, but then he would turn in his grave today if he gets to see the consequences of what he revived. Commercialization of the festival has brought about a change in the material used to sculpt. From earthen clays, artisans have moved on to Plaster of Paris, it being easy to mould and cheaper to make but biodegradable on the other hand.
Our Elephant God, rotting away in filthy, mossy water tries to stay afloat, without a body for a change, the head floating away someplace else. The ecological humdrum going on in the world has faded in volume of the blaring speakers shouting out electronic chants. This year as another million people gear up to celebrate this religious mega event, let us try to realize the true purpose behind it all. Let us seek it as an event to promote the green revolution. Let us adorn our pandals with statues made of earthen clay or paper mache. Let us see that the cycle of creation and dissolution be fulfilled to the end.
If not, then it would be rather ironic to witness how the God of wisdom spares his hard core devotees that very wisdom they seek. The Elephant God would, once more, be criticized in some other hilarious chronicle while his statues interred with the industrial wastes.