Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Voice Unheard

Today is a day of sorrow, since I heard the voice.
Its a long time now, but haven't forgotten its tint.
Soft like a flower, yet cold in its center and sharp on the edges.
It fell on my ears, like rain on a summer's day.

I wonder, why I'm alive! when life is just a dream.
Distance is like a tree: it grows, yet no one sees.
So the tree grew, gave shade for me to rest.
And now, I shed tears. Drops aren't there, but flows.

'Come back, you coward'- I often have to tell my mind.
For it backs off like a dog in an unseen clan.
When back, I'm at home, the real me, the monster.
For it knows someone's sad, knowing well that I'm mad.

Destiny! I never believed in it, even when my pulses proved it.
To be was my destiny? May be! because I never wanted to be!
Shadows grew too long till the black ate the white.
Till the doors of my life were unsafe in the night.

Ah! Yes, the voice. It still is loud like the evening Sun.
As always, it pricks the softest of all flesh- the heart.
When the pain recedes, I realize that voice wasn't real.
Then begins THE pain, for what's lost causes greater pain!

How peace comes - Travelogue

Just as this cold earth begins to warm up at the early touches of the sun, my eyes begin to see how lives are lived here. The rhythmic noise of the train set another rumbling in the head. Slowly, I was absorbed into the sorrows and joys of those who lived their journey on that train.

1. A Scary Episode

Every man and woman is god’s breath in bodily form. This statement excludes a minority of human beings from being God’s breath- the ‘transgenders.’ They by their form undergo unimaginable experiences just to be alive. Born in a society which does not have a space for them, they are left by themselves to fend for themselves – physically, emotionally and financially. For this reason, they are what they are. Today one from their community barged into my train. He/she spread fear in the passengers. s/he threatened men to give her money. She used abusive language to get there. She had to. There would be no other way. Nobody gives them work. Nobody loves them like human beings. They have no acceptance. They have no place in the mainstream society. If they wanted to survive, the had to become goons who can threaten and extract money from strangers.
I pity them. But what is my pity for them? There are also people who need to be accepted and appreciated as human beings. Society should realize this. They too should realize that there are other decent and dignified ways of living this beautiful life. All of us need to accept what is real. All of us need to let the other live. I don’t want to fear or look down upon my fellow human beings. I thin, neither do they.

2. The Wedding Duo
Another interesting vision!  Seated on two sections of the seats with an alley between them, the newly weds sat without looking at each other. The woman displays new ornaments on her while man shows off his new things – wife being the first in the list. Now, there comes a phone call. It rings from his pocket. He takes it out, checks who is calling and gives it to his woman. She knew it was her call, because it was her phone. She sobs on phone. It was her mom on phone. She is going away from home, may be for the first time, to her husband’s places. Two big bags indicate that.
Now his phone rings! She is curious too, looks intently. He doesn’t even mind her. He with authority creates a space exclusive for himself. Quite funny huh! She goes on to fiddle with her phone, listen to music, play videos, etc. Hubby buddy just gives a look or two on and off. He doesn’t have those on his basic cell phone!
Breakfast time. She serves. He eats. A traditional home on train. He finishes idlies one by one. 3, 6, 8, 9… Gosh, he stopped at 9. Her call now! She had her mark on the 6th one- wifely reduction may be! The drama continued. When those trans-people came, the man exhibited his guts by taking refuge in the toilet! Yet he is the Lord for her – “Pathi devo bhavah!”

3. The Reservation Drama

This drama also needs a little background story. India is geographically the 7th largest nation in the world. But demographically, we are second only to China. India Railways as I understand is the largest public sector employer in the world. It is filthy rich. These years, its income is going up dramatically. Among this, passenger ticketing is one of the major ones. Now, south India to be precise 3 ½ Southern states pay for their tickets as they should. Many of the remaining 24 ½ states bring lesser revenue to Railways through tickets. Being in Andhra, being on a train, I can vouch for that. My bloody reservation seat is under threat. Many, with a reservation have to come and fight to get their seats freed. This is a sad situation in many ways. Many of our people do not even understand what the meaning of reservation is. They get into any compartment/boggy of the train. Whatever is enough for them. But if it creates disturbance to those who have reserved their tickets well in advance, who is to blame?
It is here that the sociological equality of Indian population is at stake. Education and awareness are not equally distributed in India. Those who are economically at a better rung of the ladder also are at a higher position in the educational hierarchy. Therefore, the conveniences and goody packages of the government naturally go to this advantaged group. And the poor, uneducated majority remains at the bottom of the developmental ladder. For this reason were those people fighting with people who had their reservations ready. And those gentle men and women who showed actually using the privileges received from the tax payers’ money to show their supremacy on the less privileged ones. Another reading of the same would tell us that this democracy keeps certain percentage of its citizens under minimum levels of poverty, education and awareness – all for its knowledgeable rich to enjoy so me privileges.

4. The Little Princess
In the middle of the hurry burry of the reservation drama, god knows from where, this little princess who changed the tint of the journey came in (Hmm… Smell of kerosene.. there goes a kerosene tanker train…) in an all blue costume form top to bottom with her hair plaited and divided into two, she flashed her lightening smile over every unfamiliar face she saw. I remembered an old Malayalam story “Prakasham Parathunna Penkutty.”
Her family had no reservation. A middle aged woman with a small child, may be the little princess’ mother – came learning over me. The little princess came inside our alley to stand comfortably. Since I did not know the language, I had to smile back and keep quiet. I had a couple of questions boiling within me for her, but couldn’t ask. She went on chatting with her brother and my neighbours. I kept looking at that sweet face from which innocence gleamed. And I forget about everything that went around me. Peace… “Prakasham Parathunna Penkutty.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thousand days and a Dream: Documentary Review

Thousand days and a Dream
Directed by: P Baburaj & C Saratchandran

A village that existed for hundreds of years sets the scene. Like in a fairy tale, they lived in harmony and plenty. In the year 2000, one of the largest multinational soft drink companies comes into the village, gives employment to 5000 villagers, and even provides them with free fertilizer for agriculture. Doesn’t it sound good? Yes it does. The people of Plachimada village in Kerala felt happy when this familiar branded company came to their village. Life was changing - new jobs, more money and development.
            Within a year, villagers noticed that things were really changing around them. This time changes were not-so-happy ones. Rainfall had come down considerably. Well water turned salty and undrinkable. Agricultural land became barren. Water resources began to dry up. Time for realization! What else can you expect if 500 thousand litres of water was drawn every day from the limited ground and underground water resources? The villagers woke up to a bitter truth, that they were being exploited all those years. Their drinking water was being stolen and was sold back to them at a hefty price.
            How can one sell you what you own? It might seem farfetched. But for the water hunters in the world, this is their daily bread. They take water from the earth, which is a property of the people, and sell it back to the same people at a price that is unheard of. Here is a bonus too. They pollute land, water and human bodies simultaneously. The amazing fact is that they get their raw material- water- freely! An extremely profitable business indeed!
            The realization led to action. It is here, that we need a heart that understands. Lord Krishna could fight against Kaliyan, the serpent because Krishna was the Lord. David could fight against Goliath, the monster, since David was the anointed. The villagers in Plachimada were neither Lords nor anointed. They were Adivasis. They were daily labourers and agricultural workers and farmers and coolies. They were ordinary people. And their enemy, like Kaliyan and Goliath was a gigantic multinational corporation, The Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Ltd. Yet the villagers decided to fight. They had no choice, because they had no drinking water. W.H. Auden says, 'Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.' They couldn’t survive without water.
            Thus a peace-loving agricultural community was pushed into agitation and silent struggle. As is unraveled in the documentary Thousand days and a Dream, history is created in that small village by ordinary peasant women, children and men. A struggle, inspired by a simple desire to save good water for future generations was launched against another struggle which was inspired by a complex greed to amass wealth. Money, good will of political system, social influence and media control was with Coca Cola. But villagers had simplicity of heart, purity of intention, strength of unity and a truthful cause to fight for.
            Tears running down the cheeks of villagers- who sit at the protest meeting during the day and send their hungry children to bed at night- have a different story to narrate. It is a story of perseverance against the 'unbeatable,' hope against hope, life versus death. That is why Plachimada has grown beyond the geographical limits of the small village into a global movement. The imperialistic and capitalist ideologies imposed on people by the US led rich business class received its first set back at Plachimada. For the first time in Indian history, people proved that they are citizens of a democracy.
            The documentary captures moments where democracy dances to the tune of Dollar bills. Courts, politicians and police 'were' for Coke, till the uprising became a popular movement. Leaders of the movement were offered money, houses and land to downplay the struggle. The documentary was able to deal with these aspects of the politics of neo-colonization and neo-capitalism.
            Finally, it was made clear to the world that ordinary people like Mayilamma could make a difference. Plachimada is a people's struggle. It embodies our yearning for dignity. It signifies the longing of a generation to live in their homeland. It personifies the struggle of a people to make meaning. It is a fire that burns dehumanizing factors of the society. If this fire doesn’t kindle another hundred thousand little fires in our hearts, around us, villages and cities, this fire burns in vain. The documentary had to end. But the fire has to continue to burn.

Indian Nuclear Policy: An Amateur's view

Indian Union has come a long way in placing itself at par with other countries that are economically more powerful than us. The role of innovations in the filed of Nuclear research is one of the major stepping stones towards that journey. As a nation that is gripped by intense energy crisis, nuclear energy is certainly to be tapped. The integrity of our nation as a whole is at test in how we deal with this issue. At this juncture, we see how our legislature is struggling to strike a deal with the international community, especially the US government. To be someone of importance in this world of dominance means satisfying every muscle and bank. Since the US is the definition of both money and muscle in today's world, doing without them is not possible. Therefore, the SOVEREIGN REPUBLIC of India has to compromise the interests of its tax payers for the sake of a few money-sacks in the US. But the worry of commoners like me is that this compromise would soon become a sacrifice. I am afraid, in the context of the verdict on Bhopal gas tragedy. Justice delayed is Justice denied (as we see in Bhopal) - what is then blocking one's right to seek justice? The direction of todays developments in nuclear arena leads to a state where in case of an accident, we cant even claim a compensation.

Our newspapers and experts were constantly trying to tell us that all the three huge nuclear disasters were due to the negligence of the manufacturers of nuclear plant equipments. What the intervention of the US wants us to do is to insulate those suppliers/manufacturers from law suits and trouble in case of an accident. They say, its the government's duty to compensate the victims. But WHY? Why should we the tax payers be burdened with all this, just to protect someone who is not able/ready to take sufficient measures to manufacture safe nuclear plants/equipments? I PROTEST. And I request the Sovereign Republic of India to take into consideration the interest, lives and health of Indian tax payer over the monetary gains of Billionaires.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spare Me...

I still cant forget the day on which I missed a train... I reached the station panting and gasping for breath carrying all my luggage, only to see the red Cross on the rear end of the train's security wagon! If only I hadn't seen that, I would have been much less disappointed than otherwise, I thought. Opportunities slip our way, just like that train - by minutes, by seconds, by a breath, by a tear, by a sigh...

Opportunities are the easiest to find - only for those who look around! I used to think of me as an underprivileged being, with no 'good' opportunities turning my way. I used to wonder how could I become a writer, when The Hindu and Frontline had rejected my articles. Since they rejected me, I stopped writing.

What I failed to realize was that opportunities were inanimate. I always imagined them to be live, energetic and living beings which go in search of talented young blood. But they never came my way. I am sure that they never came your way too.

Then one day, accidentally, I tripped over something on my way to despair. Cursing, I got up from the dusty path and looked for the wretched obstacle that blocked my way and pulled me down. But, much to my surprise, I realized that the 'obstacle' that tripped me down was an opportunity! It was an opportunity to realize that my senses weren't dead, that my intellect wasn't frozen, and that I could still look back and abuse! Haha.. what a realization!

But that point of realization re-aligned my orientations, my interests, and my habits.

I learned that the rejection of my articles by The Hindu was an opportunity to write better and research more, which I didn't realize till then. I also learned that an opportunity lies around even in the most desperate paths, mostly in disguise- I only needed to dust it to find its worth! I began to find an opportunity every moment. My eyes bumped into an opportunity every time I looked out. Yes I learned a lesson.

Now you must be wondering, "but still you are the same! How did you make use of the opportunities you found? There is no change visible in you!"

Its a reasonable doubt. I tripped, fell and realized about the abundance of  opportunities. Why haven't I changed? Why am I still the same?

I have a reasonable answer. Here it is! "I fell just Yesterday!" Give me some time to make use of them...

Hope you got the point. If not, READ THE HEADING AGAIN!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nirayunna nombaram

പുലര്‍ച്ചയ്ക്ക് ചൂടും സന്ധ്യയ്ക്ക് അന്ധതയും പരക്കുന്ന ഈ യുഗത്തില്‍ എനിക്ക് പറയാനും കരയാനും ഒന്നും ഇല്ല.
ദൂരെ കേള്‍ക്കുന്ന അവ്യക്ത ശബ്ദങ്ങള്‍ക്കും അപ്പുറത്തുനിന്നും കാറ്റ് കൊണ്ടുവരുന്ന മണങ്ങള്‍... അവ മാത്രമാണ് ഇന്ന് എന്‍റെ യഥാര്‍ത്ഥ കൂട്ടുകാര്‍.
എനിക്ക് വേദന ഉണ്ട്.
എന്‍റെ വേദന നൊമ്പരങ്ങള്‍ക്കും അപ്പുറത്താണ്.
എന്‍റെ വേദന കണ്ണുനീരിനും വിഷാദത്തിനും  അപ്പുറത്താണ്.
അകലങ്ങളിലേയ്ക്കു നോക്കി ഒന്നും കാണാതെ ഇരിക്കുമ്പോഴും, ലോകം ഒരു പൊട്ടു പോലെ അകന്നു പോകുമ്പോഴും എന്‍റെ വേദന ഒരു മഞ്ഞു പുതപ്പു പോലെ എന്നെ പൊതിയുന്നു...
അറിവുകള്‍ക്ക് അപ്പുറത്ത് ആണ് എന്‍റെ വേദന...
പകലുകളെ പ്രകാശം പൊതിയും പോലെ എന്‍റെ ദിനങ്ങളെ പൊതിയുന്നത് അതാണ്...
സ്വപ്‌നങ്ങള്‍ നിറയുന്നതും അത് തന്നെ...
ഇനി എങ്ങോട്ട് എന്ന് എന്നോട് തന്നെ ചോദിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ ഒരു കൊച്ചു കുഞ്ഞിന്റെ ഭാവത്തോടെ ഞാന്‍ തിരിഞ്ഞു നടക്കും... എങ്ങോട്ടെന്നു അറിയാതെ... എന്തിനെന്നു അറിയാതെ...
ഒരുപാട് negative ആയി ആല്ലേ...???
ക്ഷമിക്കണം അറിഞ്ഞു കൊണ്ടല്ല.. ആഗ്രഹിചിട്ടല്ല...
എഴുതാന്‍ ഇരുന്നപ്പോള്‍ ഇതാണ് കൈകള്‍ എഴുതിയത്...

ഇനി ഞാന്‍ മറക്കട്ടെ...
മറക്കാന്‍ ശ്രമിക്കട്ടെ...