The Dreamy One claims I am a chauvinist. I disagree. I'm only old-fashioned, with chauvinistic tendencies. The 'Piece' agrees with her. I think they're both feminist. They both disagree, of course.
I claim that 'gentlemanly' behaviour stems from the fact that women are the weaker sex (which is fact and which they both agree to) but that such behaviour is done partly out of a superiority complex that males suffer.
Pitch a person who is thought to be a feminist by the person who she thinks is a chauvinist and you get an interesting debate, no?
Winter falls over the bright, boisterous conurbation Bringing with it the fog and the mist and decorating The meandering suburbs through which travel commuters Wrapped in leather jackets and woolen caps and sweaters That shield them from the coldest days that the city has seen In seventy years. And the capital bustles with many new themes (The Commonwealth games, the new metro and airport(s)) That make it all seem that things are getting better, of sorts. “At least the river will be clean in four years time And hopefully by then, we’ll be rid of this crime Spree which has overrun our city”, say the populace. But far from such thoughts and overworked haste Of page three’s and controversies and daily altercations Sits a young boy in his room (and here begins the mood Of this short, epigrammatic story, this ballad to the youth Of the nation, and maybe the world, for such things go on)
Sits a young boy in his room and gazing at his desk, Trying to follow the his books but not succeeding, And it’s just a day left for the dreaded Internals Test. Yet his mind cannot stay here, with a sigh, he goes fleeing And delves into contemplation, meditation and dreaming. He has come far, many miles, yet has many miles to go before he sleeps. And as Frost creeps inside, he throws his long shawl over his knees To keep warm (for this year the mercury has dropped incredulously low Almost grazing the Indian gift to mathematics: the haloed Zero) He puts his pencil down and concentrates instead On arbitrary thoughts that come speedily to his head. He is in college now, in fact, in one of the best, (An argument that will never be lain to rest) And as his final year approaches, the future subtly encroaches On him and yet he can’t say that he is delighted With the path he has chosen, though he has been far sighted.
Pausing his deliberations he turns to his friend Sitting across the room, dreaming of stipends. “Is it dinnertime yet?” he asks his room mate Who replies “hmm…? No. It’s still quarter to eight.” Once again our protagonist sighs and resumes his rumination And idly and absent mindedly chews on his nails in hesitation Before he carries on his premeditated and calculated procrastination Of the task at hand - to further what the world calls education.
Excelling in academics, he was the envy of his batch, And many a prize in sports had he defiantly snatched Away from competition, for he yearns for the rush Of defeating the others and then acting like “it’s not much.” He used to be humble, he used to be meek. Barely a confrontation or challenge would he seek. He used to despise the boys who’d always try To hurt other boys and make the little ones cry. For these were the bullies (he had been bullied too, Questioned by them, and by the soles of their shoes) And bullies are cowards, or so he’d concluded, They were filled with false notions and were completely deluded. He vowed to never become like one of them, To step on other people and always pretend Like something he wasn’t. To put on a mask And carry on callously with menial self-centered tasks.
Yet ironically he finds himself now sternly seated Many years later and his vow has been defeated. For though our victor has overcome many an obstacle He’s compromised a little of his faith at every single scuffle And little by little the compromises integrated, Till there was nothing left of the kind hearted adolescent He remembers himself to be, just a little while ago. (Before he shaped his present protagonist alter ego) What precisely happened, we (nor he) can assert. It could have been the bullies, it may have been hurt. But maybe just plain loneliness or an endeavor at love Followed by all the reactions, and all of the above That caused him to walk alone, friendless and forlorn. And eventually, his heart imploded and gave way to scorn.
He remembers what the world had taught him when he was young, Learning about getting up when on the soil he was flung. For fall we must, once at least, we shall hit the ground. But it remains to us to lie there or stand up and abound. So he stood up again, and strengthened his shame And he covered his face and he chose a different name. A mask to hide what was weak and feeble inside. And so he became what he hated - the bully full of pride. Because it’s not easy when you’re backed up against a wall, You have nowhere to go, not even space to crawl. When the world pushes on - when it carries on its attack - With nowhere to go, you have to start pushing back. So he forgot what it felt like to feel all that he believed. He numbed himself to what his heart would decree. And even as the winter crept into his room and he Huddled even tighter to his shielding shawl invariably The frost caressed something, deep within something stirred And was brought back to life. A hollow feeling of meaninglessness Engulfed him and he opened his Bible to the book of Ecclesiastes To read the works of Solomon the Teacher, and he was the intern.
This book, twenty first in line in the Bibles New Testament, Strikes a deep chord in him for it reeks of discontentment. And even as he turns the pages, his mind once again drifts For it has no desire to meander over anything but its Own landscape, a maelstrom of thoughts and emotions And conflicting beliefs and incompatible notions About life and how to live, for we all must make a choice Whether to look at the thorns with roses and rejoice Or choose to see the roses with thorns and whine, Though they’re one and the same, there’s no demarcating line. And then he sees what was obvious from the start That, in loneliness, long ago, he had twisted his heart. But now, he was headed for no different fate For strength lies in humility, and love will not hate What it cannot achieve, it seeks no reprieve. Forgiveness of the past and of the self is the key. And now our little anti hero pauses and deliberates Over things he hasn’t reflected upon since many a day.
But the minute hand has traveled one fourth its journey And dinner is about to be laid for all who are hungry and weary Like our friend. So he puts away the Book and, with his room mate, Heads from their hostel room to the mess to empty filled plates. After dinner, to the room his room mate speedily returns To study more commerce and to eventually burn The midnight oil tirelessly. Yet our protagonist remains Standing by the field, where in the morning they play Hockey and football. Moved by the chill that Sends shivers down his spine, he lights a cigarette And inhales deep inside the smoke and the nicotine, And relaxes as his body is flooded with acetylcholine He glances back at the brightly lit building where he stays, His home away from home, the college hostel portrays An image of peace and tranquility and the assiduously Adept students that inhabit the rooms, the stalwarts of SRCC.
And above him in the sky, whose stars are obscured by the clouds And other such Floydian thoughts, pass two aero planes no doubt Headed towards greener pastures and bluer skies. The winter mist settles over the green field and travels on till the periphery And all that can be seen beyond the grass are the lights of the nearby dhobi. But the embers of his cigarette are his only light.
“They say it’s lonely at the top, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve never climbed that high, not yet, I’ve always been so-so. But recently I’ve felt this urge to be the best, whatever the cost, And it’s with this that I’ve spurned so much, so much I’ve lost. And yet I keep going because the ladder keeps growing And rather than be content with what I’ve reaped, I carry on sowing. Is this how it will persist? Is this how it shall always be? With me chasing wearily after the horizon on the sea? Because I feel in part and I think in part (the two aren’t the same For one needs the heart and the other requires the brain) I didn’t renounce anything to get this high, to get this far In my life, rather I realise that I gave it up at the start And where I am now is but a natural consequence Of the innocence I surrendered when I gave up my beliefs. Hence It’s not lonely at the top, but the people who get there themselves Are lonely already and that’s simply the story. There’s nothing else to tell.”
He turns around to return to his little room of a nation, And cogitate a little and maybe amend his destination, And as his mind swims with thoughts of odd fornications, Winter lifts over the bright, boisterous conurbation.
Sitting up late at night, working on a report that is just one in a long line of TBD's for the next 24 hours. I wish life had a pause button. All the same I'm thankful for the company of the three friends sitting beside me each working on their own separate reports. Though I could do without the Janani Janani. In sort of a good way - It puts me to sleep.
"You ever have those days where you have tons and tons of work to do and no time to do it all in? And as you set out on your day, things keep going from bad to worse and you wonder how the fuck you're going to get through it all?"
That's me a week back. And it wasn't just a single day. It was spread out across the entire 7 days, my agenda read: 5 project submissions, 3 presentations to make, 2 tests, and a compulsory class at 8 in the morning.
'Hell week' all over again? You could say so. But yeah... we survived that we survived this... Comme man!
I love the way some songs make you happy or sad or both, each at different times. And when I say both I don't mean that reminiscent bullcrap you feel when you put on a farewell song. Happiness is a choice. And if you do not choose to be happy, you're either sad or getting there. But some songs just make you wonder about all you've done and all you could've; all you can and all you will and all you know you won't ever do.
Here's one of 'em. Nothing new or radical, just one of those songs. Divine Comedy indeed.
I'm the world you'll never see I'm the slave you'll never free I'm the truth you'll never know I'm the place you'll never go I'm the sound you'll never hear I'm the course you'll never steer I'm the will you'll not destroy I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy
I'm the half-truth in the lie I'm the why not in the why I'm the last roll of the die I'm the old school in the tie I'm the spirit in the sky I'm the catcher in the rye I'm the twinkle in her eye I'm the Jeff Goldblum in the fly
Shit it’s already nine forty five she thinks as she hurries to class unzipping her grey and red bag and reaching for her pen and register as she climbs the spiral stairs after crossing the notice board and then goes down the corridor till she stops outside room number twenty four. She doesn’t like coming here to this drab, boring place so much unlike her old place so full of life and people who she had known for years till it had to end like all good things though she still keeps in touch with her closest friends most of whom fortunately did not move away and she quietly opens the door and slips inside after receiving a welcome nod from the teacher covered in salt and pepper hair. It’s just her second week of college and she dreads the thought of coming here almost every day for the next three years and sitting doing nothing, attending but not giving attention to the classes from the back seat where she passes notes to the only friend she has made till now and then wanting to meet new people but watching everyone disappear as soon as the last bell rings to go home or to the library to study or complete assignments. She hates it all.
He feels the autumn morning sun’s rays wash over his naked skin as he walks over to the edge of the pool in nothing but his swimming trunks and pauses to look around searching for his friend who lives nearby hoping that he too had woken up early for a swim. The air is cool but getting warmer by the minute as the sun trudges across the clear blue sky and not finding his friend he takes a deep breath and plunges into the pool full of murky blue water which had been cooled by the night’s chill and stings him lightly as it wraps itself around his body. As muscle memory takes over and he slices back and forth through the water his mind drifts to mundane things like how it’s such a good thing that the college pool has been opened before he passed out and the fact that there were still so many things he hadn’t tried yet in college, things waiting in the shadows, surprises life had in store for him during his last year before graduating. He had changed since coming to college he thought as he completed his thirteenth length and he reflected back upon his first two weeks of college where he had been so reserved and reticent even though the people in his class tried to open up to him and made light jokes about his cap which he had worn everyday of his first two months of college. As he finished his swim and pulled himself heavily out of the water the caretaker of the pool was using a long stick to clean the pool of all the debris and mud and silt that had accumulated at the bottom and he noticed that the caretaker was staring at the dirt he pulled out as if expecting life to wash itself of its stains at the same time and as easily.
Yellow and orange flames spew out of the monstrous machine’s mouth, black tar churning out of its bowels. The workmen are scattered all over; only a few of them actually concentrating at the task at hand. Huge black barrels are stacked under the shade of a nearby tree, just in front of the side entrance of the auditorium and on what used to be the ‘xerox lawns’. That was, of course, before the photocopy shop was shifted to next to the parking lot. The giant road roller moves back and forth over the newly laid asphalt in the distance. Workers dribble more fresh hot tar over the old pot-holed road and others smoke bidis while they wait for their turn. Change is all around me. Trees torn down and bushes uprooted as I walk around inspecting the preparations for my last college Annual Day. It’s a reflection of all that has happened underneath. In the end, it’s not the place I’ll miss and to some extent it’s not the people. It’s me. Who I was: young, innocent, happy. We all were. It’s not the things that make you laugh that you’ll always remember. It’s the things that make you truly happy and wonder about the future with confidence and think about it not with fear. They sometimes make you cry.
In the end… But we never really know the end do we. We always wonder if there would be something more to the story; more twists and turns. Is “happily ever after” truly that? Or will the protagonist be hewn down by some unknown nemesis, or some unforeseen calamity; perhaps the Ebola virus or tuberculosis. Shit like that happens all the time.
In the end… We always know that things have turned out better than we imagined but worse than we hoped they would. We are never satisfied, never satiated. We keep looking for more, keep trying to build taller towers or expand the borders of our empires. Is that where success, fame, happiness, lies? I don’t know, in just as much capacity as I know what will unfold in the end. But that’s the beauty of it. We don’t know how things end, so we look for new beginnings. We don’t know where happiness lies, so we trudge to great heights to look for it.
In the end… There will be a beginning. And hence endings never cease. There will be an end to your youth, and end to your joy, and end to your pain, and finally an end to your life. But therein lies the magic: The never-ending snake eating its own tail. Without sadness, we would never be able to appreciate happiness, without dreams of heaven; one would never fear pain in the burning pits of hell. And without endings, we would never try and make new beginnings.
P.S. - This was written over a year ago as my concluding article in the college journal Candid Expressions. Miss you Major Idiots.
Coming back after a brief stint of self-exile from the blogging world (not that my absence was missed much, but such is the illusion of renown and reputation that many bloggers cloak themselves in) was not easy nor was it hard. It simply happened. Why? Because I was up all night drinking and practicing my salsa (not recommendable when under the influence) and then ascended to the terrace at dawn keeping in my company the good music from my laptop and the vodka, scotch, and beer in my veins. What more reason could we possibly need?
But to salvage one of the articles on my previous blog, here are a few insights gained during what was arguably the toughest time of my life (well I don't know if it really was but hey that statement must've caught your attention at least, no?)
1. Insecurity stems from doubt and worry. These will be your greatest foes because these are the adversaries that will always stay haunt with you, no matter where you are, what you do, or who you choose to spend your time with. Work hard to wear them down, and even though you may never really defeat them, you do get credit for trying. The race is long, but in the end, it’s only with yourself.
2. We are all human. We are always going to be prone to errors, mistakes, false guesses. Practice does not make perfect. Learning from your mistakes does. There are no right decisions, or wrong ones for that matter. There are only choices. There are some choices you may regret for an hour or a day, others you may regret for a week, a month, a year. But no one can live to their potential if they cannot learn to live with their own mistakes. Forgiveness is Godliness. But it is the Forgiveness of the self that is truly divine.
3. The brightest people aren’t always the ones who get the best scores in two hour tests, the best people aren’t always the ones who walk away with the prom queen, though these things do happen. Never judge people by the make of their car or their epitaph. You may have left behind a large sum of money for scholarships or prizes to bright minds that make the world a better place, but that will not change the fact of what you did and who you really were, and the people that have to know these facts, will.
4. If only once in your life, follow up on an impulse and catch the next day flight to a city halfway across the country to meet that girl/guy of your dreams, even if you know that it won’t work out. Life isn’t a fairy tale or a teenage film, but it doesn’t make it any worse to try to make it like one. Always believe in love and cherish whatever memories you associate it with. For it’s the ones who truly believe in something that everyone else says cannot happen that change what everyone else believes in. It doesn’t matter if the race doesn’t change, what matters is that the race doesn’t change us.
5. Lastly… Dream. Let loose your imagination, your hopes, your visions, curb them only with your beliefs. It doesn’t matter if people don’t agree with you. What matters is that they are allowed not to. If everyone dreamed the same dreams then there would be no point in living. And even if dreams may not take root and perish, you will know that for a brief while, you saw a painting on a blank piece of canvas when no one else could, and that it was beautiful. Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you’ve got for you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not.
P.S. - Bond I fully remember the gyaan about the effectiveness of using three points rather than two or five and blah... I like 5 points while writing. Gives more room for error.
I once remarked to a friend; “I love experiencing sunrises. Dawn. The concept or the idea of greeting a new day just as it is born. Not that I get up that early too often, but the few times that I do, it always refreshes me."
That was over two years ago. Now I sit atop a stone fortress in a crevice that few venture upon or into. The night is over now and it is almost time for the sun to rise. Already the sky has turned pale within the hour and birds chirp in the distance and bus horns and other traffic sounds resonate along the highway (which once was infested with robbers, as one auto-driver narrated to me) just outside the campus. Yes it is dawn. And a new day approaches. A new day with hopes and desires just like the one that stumbled into being yesterday.
Rain. It falls slowly at first. I am without shelter and for a moment I contemplate abandoning my post on the top of this fortress to seek shelter, but then I think that even cowards have given their lives for more and i halt myself
Wind. It cannot be heard or seen. But it is felt. And it is heard in the rustling of the early morning trees as if they were rising from slumber and shaking the dew from their branches the way we press the sand from our eyes when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
Clouds. They are large in this city, so far away from the city I once called home and the city that promised me a home. Garden City is situated atop a plateau, keeping it at a high enough altitude (similar to my parent’s home) while giving it the illusion of a plane.
Light. The sun breaks through the clouds over the horizon now. The wind whispers in a loud voice to announce the arrival. Hawks and smaller birds rise up into the air.
Rain’s platters audibly upon my shirt now. It is time for me to go. I have born witness. I will testify.
Some days begin like all other; some like something else completely.