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If

March 20, 2010
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An inspiring poem by Rudyard Kipling called IF:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man my son!
—Rudyard Kipling

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Of this and that…

October 11, 2009

It is 4 AM. I stare out at the heavy red fluffy clouds through the iron gills in my lawn. It’s windy and trees ruffle noisily. The clouds, both heavy and light, simultaneously, flit on the skyscape.

The wind smells like it will rain. There is a kind of stillness even in the ruffling trees. I feel for my heart. Thoughts – of people here and elsewhere; Memories – of people here and elsewhere. Should I make some coffee? Is there milk? Thank god, there is. Let me kill my time making coffee. My mind’s restless. Could it be because of the full-moon? People have known to behave crazily during full-moon days. Like restless waves.

Am I breathing? How do I escape the deluge? Coffee? Why am I not moving towards the kitchen? It will rain soon. I must remember to blink my eyes. Ouph, the burdens of this body! And, is it the ant on my wrist? It’s moving towards my shoulder. Sudden frantic bursts of movements of a scared being. It feels threatened perhaps by the pulse and machinery of the body. Will it bite me? Should I do something about this ant? I think I should. Where’s my hand? Where’s my hand? In place. Smug. Unmoving.

Pitter patter rain drops. One on my hand. Other on my cheek. More drops follow. All over. Do I smell coffee? Or is it in my head? What will she be doing now? Did I just kill the ant? Is it my hand? Is this me?

By the way…

October 11, 2009

There is a story in the Heimskringla about a Norse king who married a witch. She died but her body remained warm and beautiful. The king went mad and kept vigil by her beautiful body in the belief that she was sleeping and would come back to him. After years of vigil, he awoke from his madness and the body was crawling with worms.

From the book ‘The Dark Tunnel‘ by Ross Macdonald.

Deluge and Dearth

August 20, 2009

It looked like it will rain. Dark clouds hung heavily in the sky. It was getting darker for 5 in the evening. People were busy with whatever they were doing. The traffic was stuck in jam. People looked like they were in a hurry. I loaded my auto-rickshaw with 4 heavy bags. I was already panting and sweating. I was moving into a new house. A new place.

Hyderabad, with not a single decent rain so far in this season and experts already predicting a very-dry summer, was humid. All the accumulation of dark clouds overhead could come to nothing. We have seen the whole rainy season coming to an end. Only dark clouds, no rain. Only build-up, no business. I signalled the driver to get going. I had no more business in this place. I was leaving my home that was for almost 7 years now.
I was passing along the hotel where I used to eat Biryani. I could smell spices in the air. The waiter stood out watching the street dreamily. It was too early for customers. We recognise but don’t wave at each other. We usually don’t. I wouldn’t return to this hotel again. I pass by other shops along the street. The traffic is moving very slowly and I get to stop before each place of any significance to me. There was this bus stop where we friends would sit idly in the nights. Till late nights. The tea-stalls made business. Now it was filled with people. Strange people. I turn my head away only to see the other hotel where I used to get meals for lesser price. When I was not having Biryani, I was eating here. The waiter here was used to not waiting for me to ask for a boiled egg while having meals. He got it always before asking. There was this tacit understanding between us like any two long-time associated parties; like they know each other well enough; like in a long successful marriage, both were content with silent acknowledgements.

To my surprise, I was humming a tune that I had heard at my friend’s desk in office the previous day. It was a kannada song. Kannada song and me! I don’t even know the language. But I was humming only the tune. La la la la la laa laa laa, laa la laa la. It was from a movie ‘Mungaru Male‘(Monsoon Rain). The tune was catchy but sad. I didn’t want to continue with it. I pressed my lips tightly and looked around me grimly. I can now see the house where I first stayed as a paying-guest in hyderabad. After having stayed there for 2.5 years, I had moved to a different house. Those were my college days. I could see in my mind a more younger me with a bag strapped to the right shoulder walking briskly with head bent down, lost in education, heading to this house after a strenuous day in the college. It wasn’t long back in time. I could see everything. I involuntarily began on the sad tune. With lips pressed tightly, the tune was playing in the nasal chamber. My eyes filled and I turned away. There were too many places around, each with its own history. Too many memories around. I may visit these places again but I will be a mere visitor then. No more privy to it.
Baarish aana saab. Is baar khatre-khatre ku tarseenge apun logan‘, says the auto-rickshaw driver. I didn’t want to reply. Such conversations usually prolong. I merely said, ‘Aaj to badal hai, hogi baarish‘. He diverted the topic to the traffic now. ‘Upar se yeh traffic, dum-dum ho jara. Kilutch, birake, kilutch, birake pakad pakad ke yeh haath dukra dekho!‘ He looked at me through the rear-view mirror. He had kajal in his eyes and his grey hair was dyed red with mehendi.
Arrere, aisa!‘, I say. Was I grateful to turn my attention from my painful memories? But I was also becoming aware of another approaching site, the temple that we will pass by and of the deluge of memories that it will bring to me. Those were the days! Early morning cold water baths, visits to the temple, and Irani chai in the Niloufer hotel. Those were the days. And to think of it, my monthly allowance was never more than 200/-. How content we were with smaller pleasures! I remember how Susanta, Mahidhar, and I had walked to this temple at 12:30 on the night when I came to know I was selected in the job interview. We were so thrilled. We looked inside the temple through the closed gates with thankful eyes. We walked hand-in-hand on this street dreaming big. We decided that we will leave the paying-guest accommodation and rent up a bigger house for 3 of us.
I didn’t want to cry and so I prodded the driver. ‘Kya traffic hai bhai; Insaanan kaisa rah sakte aisa!‘. He readily began, ‘kya bolna saab hyderabad mein gaadiyan badh gaye, sab ke paas paisa aa gaya. Jagah utthich hai, logan paida hore. Ab dekho kya hota!‘ He was waving a hello to a fellow auto-rickshaw driver and spitting a mouthful of pan juice all the same time. I was wary of fingering him again. But I had to talk. Or else this place, the memories, the tune will engulf me. I pick the phone and call Arathi. Is she asleep? Why doesn’t she pick her phone? She wasn’t feeling well this morning. I knew I could call someone else but I restrain. Once again I turn my attention to the auto-driver. But he began, ‘Roadan dekhre saab, sathrol hai, municipality waale khodke chale jaate. Zarra pani pada boleto jidhar ki public udharich jaam.‘ It was my turn now. Careful enough not to betray him my state of mind, I wiped my tears and coughed slightly to clear my throat and said conclusively, ‘pilanning nahi hai!‘.
Sahi bole saab, pani padteich logan keede-makodon ki tarah nikalte. Talaab kane maindak nikalte dekho, waisa!
I was avoiding my memories like a can of worms, and here he was describing them.

It looked like it will rain. Dark clouds hung heavily in the sky. It was getting darker for 5 in the evening. People were busy with whatever they were doing. The traffic was stuck in jam. People looked like they were in a hurry. I loaded my auto-rickshaw with 4 heavy bags. I was already panting and sweating. I was moving into a new house. A new place. Hyderabad, with not a single decent rain so far in this season and experts already predicting a very-dry summer, was humid. All the accumulation of dark clouds overhead could come to nothing. We have seen the whole rainy season coming to an end. Only dark clouds, no rain. Only build-up, no business. I signalled the driver to get going. I had no more business in this place. I was leaving my home that was for almost 7 years now.
I was passing along the hotel where I used to eat Biryani. I could smell spices in the air. The waiter stood out watching the street dreamily. It was too early for customers. We recognise but don’t wave at each other. We usually don’t. I wouldn’t return to this hotel again. I pass by other shops along the street. The traffic is moving very slowly and I get to stop before each place of any significance to me. There was this bus stop where we friends would sit idly in the nights. Till late nights. The tea-stalls made business. Now it was filled with people. Strange people. I turn my head away only to see the other hotel where I used to get meals for lesser price. When I was not having Biryani, I was eating here. The waiter here was used to not waiting for me to ask for a boiled egg while having meals. He got it always before asking. There was this tacit understanding between us like any two long-time associated parties; like they know each other well enough; like in a long successful marriage, both were content with silent acknowledgements. To my surprise, I was humming a tune that I had heard at my friend’s desk in office the previous day. It was a kannada song. Kannada song and me! I don’t even know the language. But I was humming only the tune. La la la la la laa laa laa, laa la laa la. It was from a movie ‘Mungaru Male'(Monsoon Rain). The tune was catchy but sad. I didn’t want to continue with it. I pressed my lips tightly and looked around me grimly. I can now see the house where I first stayed as a paying-guest in hyderabad. After having stayed there for 2.5 years, I had moved to a different house. Those were my college days. I could see in my mind a more younger me with a bag strapped to the right shoulder walking briskly with head bent down, lost in education, heading to this house after a strenuous day in the college. It wasn’t long back in time. I could see everything. I involuntarily began on the sad tune. With lips pressed tightly, the tune was playing in the nasal chamber. My eyes filled and I turned away. There were too many places around, each with its own history. Too many memories around. I may visit these places again but I will be a mere visitor then. No more privy to it.
‘Baarish aana saab. Is baar khatre-khatre ku tarseenge apun logan’,’says the auto-rickshaw driver. I didn’t want to reply. Such conversations usually prolong. I merely said, ‘Aaj to badal hai, hogi baarish’. He diverted the topic to the traffic now. ‘Upar se yeh traffic, dum-dum ho jara. Kilutch, birake, kilutch, birake pakad pakad ke yeh haath dukra dekho!’ He looked at me through the rear-view mirror. He had kajal in his eyes and his grey hair was dyed red with mehendi.
‘Arrere, aisa!’, I say. Was I grateful to turn my attention from my painful memories? But I was also becoming aware of another approaching site, the temple that we will pass by and of the fresh surge of memories that will bring to me. Those were the days! Early morning cold water baths, visits to the temple, and Irani chai in the Niloufer hotel. Those were the days. And to think of it, my monthly allowance was never more than 200/-. How content we were with smaller pleasures! I remember how Susanta, Mahidhar, and I had walked to this temple at 12:30 on the night when I came to know I was selected in the job interview. We were so thrilled. We looked inside the temple through the closed gates with thankful eyes. We walked hand-in-hand on this street dreaming big. We decided that we will leave the paying-guest accommodation and rent up a bigger house for 3 of us.
I didn’t want to cry and so I prodded the driver. ‘Kya traffic hai bhai; Insaanan kaisa rah sakte aisa!’. He readily began, ‘kya bolna saab hyderabad mein gaadiyan badh gaye, sab ke paas paisa aa gaya. Jagah utthich hai, logan paida hore. Ab dekho kya hota!’ He was waving a hello to a fellow auto-rickshaw driver and spitting a mouthful of pan juice all the same time. I was wary of fingering him again. But I had to talk. Or else this place, the memories, the tune will engulf me. I pick the phone and call Arathi. Is she asleep? Why doesn’t she pick her phone? She wasn’t feeling well this morning. I knew I could call someone else but I restrain. Once again I turn my attention to the auto-driver. But he began, ‘Roadan dekhre saab, sathrol hai, municipality waale khodke chale jaate. Zarra pani pada boleto jidhar ki public udharich jaam.’ It was my turn now. Careful enough not to betray him my state of mind, I wiped my tears and coughed slightly to clear my throat and said conclusively, ‘pilanning nahi hai!’.
‘Sahi bole saab, pani padteich logan keede-makodon ki tarah nikalte. Talaab kane maindak nikalte dekho, waisa!’
I was avoiding my memories like a can of worms, and here he was describing them.

Shards of Mind…

August 3, 2009

“And you know, the world is going on normally, quite oblivious to your state of mind. No there arent any reported earthquakes, nor violent volcanoes. The world is not injured because of your personal grief”
I sighed. How can it be so? My world is shattered. I am bereaved. Don’t you listen to that heart thump? Irregular? Quick? And quickening?
“I can only see you gorging Chicken Biryani and you appear to be relishing it”
Yes, and why not? I wanted to indulge. My head’s bursting and I don’t remember when I last had a proper meal. See, the spicy chicken’s fumes are getting into my head and soothing my nerves. My eyes half close in delight. Yes, I wanted to indulge.
<pause>
Are you sure people are only seeing this? and not within? I enquire with some curiosity.
“No”, he begins, “they seem to be busy with themselves. Why don’t you just eat well and get along? Why do you have to know what people are thinking? It isn’t going to make any difference. At the best you will be given a comfort phrase”
Yes, I know that.
“..and the worst could be that you will have to endure a hearing”, he continues, “of their personal philosophies on life in general”.
Yes, yes. I hastened to add wondering how he is different from the rest.
<pause>
But what about my grief, my despair?
“We don’t care”, says he with finality and a piercing look.
You don’t care? After knowing all that! and you still don’t care?
“What ‘all that’?”
All that, I sing with a lilt and a sweep of my hands to show all that.
He repeats, “What all that?”
You know I wake up with a start these days and wet my pillow with tears for the rest of the night. You know that, don’t you?
“Yes”, he says calmly.
Oh!..and..and I feel a heaviness in my heart. The subtle sudden despair. Yes, that’s what it is. And you don’t care?
“No”, he maintains.
The noise of the crowded restaurant hits my ear. I start walking back home. But I can’t shake off the thought that such a thing can mean nothing to him. The traffic. The headlights. The honking. You know what I feel like! I feel like burning every little thing around here to cinders.
“You won’t do anything like that”.
Agitated, I avoid his stare and walk briskly. At the door of my flat, fumbling with the keys to unlock the door, staring at the lock with wide-open eyes, blinking frequently to stop the surge of tears, I tell him he will never understand my sorrow. He remains silent. I look away from him when switching on the light. Am not going to give him the pleasure of watching me cry. On a pretext, I rush to the kitchen and then to the bathroom and return washed. I pick a half-read novel and start from somewhere in the middle. He sits by my side, calm and unobtrusive. Why am I cursed? Why don’t I find peace?
“It’s the way you look at it”, he says.
Anyway I look at it I find no hope.
It’s so hard to see a rainbow with glasses thick as these
I find no peace in your counsel. I am bereaved. Why don’t I get what I want?
“Make the most of what you have got”
You talk of these as objects. I despise you.
“By all means, if it helps you”.
Why don’t you leave me alone?
“You cannot hide from your self”
O my tumourous self, please leave me alone!

I switch off the light and stare at the dark roof, with a warm trickle down my cheek onto the pillow.

Simply Dylanesque!

July 31, 2009

A wonderful song by Bob Dylan, Maybe Someday, has great lyrics.

Maybe someday you’ll be satisfied
When you’ve lost everything you’ll have nothing left to hide.
When you’re through running over things like you’re walking ‘cross the tracks,
Maybe you’ll beg me to take you back.
Maybe someday you’ll find out everybody’s somebody’s fool,
Maybe then you’ll realize what it would have taken to keep me cool.
Maybe someday when you’re by yourself alone
You’ll know the love that I had for you was never my own.

Maybe someday you’ll have nowhere to turn,
You’ll look back and wonder ’bout the bridges you have burned.
You’ll look back sometime when the lights grow dim
And you’ll see you look much better with me than you do with him.
Through hostile cities and unfriendly towns,
Thirty pieces of silver, no money down.
Maybe someday, you will understand
That something for nothing is everybody’s plan.

Maybe someday you’ll remember what you felt
When there was blood on the moon in the cotton belt.
When both of us, baby, were going though some sort of a test
Neither one of us could do what we do best.
I should have known better, baby, I should have called your bluff.
I guess I was too off the handle, not sentimental enough.
Maybe someday, you’ll believe me when I say
That I wanted you, baby, in every kind of way.

Maybe someday you’ll hear a voice from on high
Sayin’ “For whose sake did you live, for whose sake did you die?”
Forgive me, baby, for what I didn’t do
For not breakin’ down no bedroom door to get at you.
Always was a sucker for the right cross.
Never wanted to go home ’til the last cent was lost.
Maybe someday you will look back and see
That I made it so easy for you to follow me.

Maybe someday there’ll be nothing to tell.
I’m just as happy as you, baby, I just can’t say it so well.
Never slumbered or slept or waited for lightning to strike.
There’s no excuse for you to say that we don’t think alike.
You said you were going’ to Frisco, stay a couple of months.
I always liked San Francisco, I was there for a party once.
Maybe someday you’ll see that it’s true
There was no greater love than what I had for you.

Simply dylanesque, isn’t it?!

Hurt…

July 25, 2009
tags: , ,

Lyrics from Johnny Cash‘s song ‘Hurt’

I hurt myself today to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real
the needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away, but I remember everything

what have I become? my sweetest friend
everyone I know goes away in the end
and you could have it all my empire of dirt
I will let you down I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar’s chair
full of broken thoughts I cannot repair
beneath the stains of time the feelings disappear
you are someone else I am still right here

what have I become? my sweetest friend
everyone I know goes away in the end
and you could have it all my empire of dirt
I will let you down I will make you hurt

if I could start again
a million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Isn’t the song great?