Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gethsemani

From the year 2001, Gethsemani continues to disturb me. Every time I dare to enter the sanctuary of my own being, Gethsemani speaks from some unknown corner, intriguing me, agonizing me. It had been the pattern for as long as I could remember since I was first knocked down by self realization.

This year, Gethsemani was hidden from my sight. There were no signals from above. I was in desert. I am in desert.

And what else does Gethsemani mean? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why should the girl run?

What I saw 
I got out of the bus at Secunderabad station. As hunger was eating my energy, I walked fast. Traffic is heavy as usual. After trying 4 times, I crossed the road successfully.

On the other side, life was as usual busy and 'vender'ful. Just then, a rude looking guy crossed me. He had a plastic bag in hand. I observed him because of his careless manners.

There was a young girl of 20 coming towards me, after crossing the road. Our 'rude' guy was dashing at that girl, as if to hit her! She looked up and saw this man, and began running. The 'rude' guy went his way, but the girl continued to run towards the bus stop. I stopped and looked at this for a few moments.

What I thought
I am ashamed. In my country, girls have to run to be able to live with self respect. This morning's newspaper told me about a teenage girl being gang raped next to the police station and a church! I am ashamed, and left without words to feel sorry for myself and my world.

My dear friends, a society that can't respect women, will not progress. Civilization is where individuals have freedom to be themselves in mutual agreement and peace. While most of our people are not able to be themselves for fear of being 'looked at', 'attacked', 'molested', 'raped', 'teased' and 'disturbed', how can we claim to be the great civilization that we are proud of?

I am ashamed and left without words to feel sorry... because our girls are made to run...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

music in the vein

After a long time, I touched my guitar again.. When heart is unable to express through tongue, my guitar comes to rescue me from obscurity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One fine evening

One fine evening.

"Where to?"
"Wherever."
"Hmm.."
"You?"
"Not yet decided."
"That's worse."
Silence.

After a few yards of silence...
"Who are you?"
"Me?"
"There is a long way to go."
"Where to?"
Silence.

"Do you see a tree over there?"
"That's not a tree."
"I think it is a tree."
"That's not a tree."
"I can see it's shadow."
"There are a lot of mirages here."
"Are you real?"

A few yards without words...
"Don't touch me!"
"I didn't."
"You did. I didn't like it."
"I still see the tree."
"Who are you?"
"Does that matter?"

No words...
"It's really hot."
"I probably won't reach the tree."
"There is no tree."
"You are feeling hot."
"You are distracting me."
"From what?"
Silence.

Another long stretch of desert without words.
"See! The tree!"
"Thirst can be so desperate?"
"I better rush."
"Before you die.. Yes. You better rush."
"You don't want to come! It's fine with me if you don't."
"Let the mirage eat the carcass of life that doesn't see."
"Will sight ever devour a blind man?"

Silence.
This time silence was longer.
One set of footsteps disappeared.
Deserts is still out there. Mirages too.
But this time, silence will be longer.

"Ok. Welcome. Where to?"


---------------------------

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An epoch foretold

        It's been 3 months. I couldn't believe its just 3 months since I came to know this wonderful person. For most of the time, I was only listening to this person from a distance. But there was magic in words uttered and thoughts delivered. I was taken along the rivers of world civilizations. I was baptized in many an ocean. I saw so many of the greatest historical figures, all friends of this great person. There was creation and destruction. I went for long walks with him along the banks of Tigris and Euphrates. There brew a rumbling around the place I listened, announcing a cleansing apocalypse, and He was the prophet!

        He posed questions that toppled me from my comfort zones. He disturbed my sleep and left me crazy and schizophrenic for days on end. There were moments when I wanted to run away, because what he said was too much to digest and what he meant was too large to comprehend. But after the end of 3 months, I am more me! He foretold an epoch. But more so, he is an epoch foretold.

        Today, it came down like a streak of lightning upon me- the fact that he is leaving us in the dark and going away. It was good to be disturbed. Those sleepless nights were beautiful. Those schizophrenic days were so real. I won't be getting any more of them.





        He lived the life of an Oracle and led an army of souls- all of them mesmerized by him. Me just one of them. Thanks is not the word... He has become part of me- the thoughts and threats, hopes and hypes, dreams and dreads. I will cherish them. Blessed is he, for he helped me become more me.

----------------------------------------------------- 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Way Back


The Way Back


 - A Story written with the help of a dear friend -

Annie usually was much ahead of all her classmates in submitting her assignments and projects. That made her feel one up in class. It was her passion to run ahead of others- be it in class or in life. Listening to the light soothing music from her computer, she was aimlessly looking out of her window. In fact, she was not seeing anything- she was just looking. Winter breeze was rushing in through the window and playing with her hair. The evening sky shed a beautiful orange shade on her cheeks. She looked beautiful being lost in thoughts.
Beep beep! Her mobile phone’s message alert tone woke her up from her thoughts. While reading the message and her face grew tense. She put the phone annoyingly back on the table. It was one of her classmates, enquiring how the assignment was progressing. The class is given an assignment to write a script for a short film. Annie had thought of a number of concepts, but none of them satisfied her heart. So she wasn’t able to begin the assignment. She was feeling miserable, as some of her friends have already reached the completion of the assignment. She couldn’t bear the fact that she was behind all others.
She got up from the chair and walked to the fridge. While grasping a bottle of water, she thought of what could be done. She had high ambitions in life. All her activities were set at becoming a great writer and movie maker. She toiled day and night for that. She chose her courses and studies accordingly. This year she chose courses that gave her experience in the field of writing and film direction. She had high expectations of this course, for which the assignment is due. But now, she couldn’t even start scripting.
She had tried all possible stories she could lay her hands upon, but was not happy. There were just 15 days for submission and she hasn’t started conceiving an idea! She couldn’t even concentrate on her daily routine. Sitting back on her chair, she came to some decisions. Her face grew tense and serious. Something has to be done. She has to find a concept.
She decided to get out of the hostel, the very next day and go on to the roads to look for a satisfactory story to work on. She didn’t mind missing classes for a day to meet the deadline. With this resolution, she went to bed, still with a disturbed mind.
Early next morning, she got up and packed her bag. She arranged her camera, a bottle of water, her wallet, a note pad, couple of pens and a portable tripod for the day. She was determined not to come back without a story for the script. She could feel her heart beaming with eagerness and excitement at this activity.
She wandered on the roads with her camera. The early morning sky, birds, first movements of people on the road, first vehicle on road, etc., passed in front of her eyes. The people who passed her by, did not interest her. She wanted a story that could generate a screen-worthy story and would impress the teacher. She wanted to be famous.
Hours passed without finding anything that interested her. Lunch time had passed long back. She was hungry and thirsty. Yet she couldn’t stop wandering through the streets of the city. She forgot her breakfast and lunch. Just on water, she wandered the streets alone. Feeling tired, she stopped for a while to rest her feet. Her heart was pounding fast as it was nearing evening and she hadn’t found a story. She felt like crying. Inside her pride, she was a girl with a soft heart, who liked to smile spontaneously and weep at the slightest of pains.
Thinking to herself about going back and having an early sleep, she put her camera back into her bag. Her dreams always had taken her above the ordinary. She had the courage and wisdom to be what she wanted to. She always succeeded when she wanted to, and she always wanted to. But in the silence of her soul, she always felt that she was missing something- something that was crucial. As she packed her bag and had a sip from her bottle, she was lost in these thoughts.
It was then, that she heard some people arguing across the road. There was an elderly looking man on the other side of the road at the junction, making a hot exchange of words with the staff of a restaurant. The old man seemed untiringly arguing on something. And the shopkeeper was becoming angrier at the old man. Her heart told her to move towards them. She picked her bag up and crossed the road. She went near the restaurant. Her keen eyes caught the excitement of the moment immediately.
The old man was about 75 years old. He looked quite an interesting character for her. He was well dressed and looked very descent and classy. He was tall and well built, but slowly age was eating into his build. His hair was snow white and he was not quite steady. She could make out from far that his hands were shivering a bit. But still his words were sharp and made sense.
She approached the feud so that she could hear what they spoke. The argument was about payment. The old man had eaten from the restaurant. When the bill came, there was a disagreement between the old man and the manager of the restaurant. She found the arguments quite amusing.
Old man: I will sue you. You don’t know who I am. Don’t try to cheat me. Yesterday, I ate my dinner from here for Rs. 1 and today you are overcharging me? How dare you?
Manager: What? Which century are you living in? You won’t even get a toffee for Rs. 1, and you want to get away full stomach with that? You better pay; else, I will call the police.
Annie couldn’t hold her laughter after hearing the old man’s argument. A descent meal would easily cost you Rs. 30. It was getting into the manager’s nerves. He moved to his table and picked the phone up as if to call police. The old man said, “hold” and put his hands in his pocket. He searched his pockets one by one and after a long search, he found a one rupee coin from the rear pocket of his trousers. He held it up to the manager and said, “This is all I will give you. The right price of what I consumed. Take if you want.” He tossed the coin into the restaurant and turned to walk.
The manager looked at the one rupee coin, boiling with anger. He signaled his workers to get the old man and picked the phone up again to call the police. One of the waiters came rushing and caught hold of the old man from behind. The old man whirled in his hands. Annie felt that she should be doing something. But she couldn’t move. ‘Now or never’- whispered her heart to her. In a swift move, she rushed to the manager’s table and cut the telephone line with her index finger.
The manager looked up at her in anger. He got up from his seat, now frustrated to the verge of an outburst. Annie got frightened and didn’t know what to say in that tension. The manager shouted at her, “Now what? What the hell do you want?” Annie’s tongue was tied. He was about to pick the phone up in rage and throw it down. Annie gathered courage and told him, “I’m sorry. He is my grandfather, I will pay the bill,” she lied. “How much is it?”
The manager looked at her quizzically. He was slowly cooling down. He said in an annoyed, irritated and slightly angry tone, “Rs. 30. Don’t let your crazy old man out on the roads like this. Thank god I didn’t finish him off.”
Annie took out the amount from her wallet and went to the old man who by that time was free from the waiter’s arms. He appeared weak and shivering from after all these, but still he turned to the restaurant and said, “Good you released me. Learn to behave decently to gentle customers.” Saying this, he turned away and started walking.
Annie rushed to his side and started walking with him. After a few steps, he noticed her walking along and asked her in a stern voice, “Hei girl, are you following me? What do you want?” She was startled at that unexpected question. In fact, the old man hadn’t seen her paying the amount at the counter. He still thought that he was released because they realized that they were wrong. Annie realized this and told him, “Oh, no sir. I saw how you didn’t budge to their demand. It was great. I thought I could have a couple of words with you. By the way, I am Annie, a student of Media at the University.”
He stopped and looked at her from top to bottom in a quick brush and said, “What if I didn’t want to talk to you, huh? I can’t believe how people can be so arrogant and inquisitive like this. Media… paparazzi… hypocrites…” He looked into her eyes, pointing his finger at her and said, “Don’t dare to get anything out of me. I have seen this and even more!” She was shocked to hear such a blunt statement from him. She felt bad and stood still to see him walking past. She stayed there till he disappeared round the corner. She wiped a drop of tear that formed in her eyes and walked towards her hostel. She was tired and hungry. Over all the physical fatigue was the frustration of not getting a subject to write. She wanted to reach her room and break down in to tears and cry aloud.
As she moved a few steps ahead, she heard a noise from behind her. She looked back to see some people running round the corner shouting, and calling for an ambulance. She rushed to the corner. There she saw the old man lying motionless on the road side, bleeding from his head. A bike had knocked him down as he tried to cross the road. She rushed to him and checked his pulse and helped the men who carried him into a car that agreed to take him to the hospital. She got into the car along with him. His head was in her lap. He was breathing, but looked pale. Her clothes were full of blood from his head. She feared something bad would happen.
Only at that moment did she think of the consequences of what she was doing. The old man was a complete stranger. At the hospital she will have to sign papers for him. ‘Whom to call and inform,’ she was worried now. Suddenly, she thought of finding some details in his pocket, and searched his shirt’s pocket. There were a lot of paper pieces in his pocket. She patiently hunted among those papers for a clue. There was an old visiting card among them. It was archaic. She could hardly read from it, but it mentioned Mr. Harry Fernandez. She kept all those papers with her.
Within minutes, they reached the nearest hospital. He was rushed to the hospital. Annie had to register the patient at the emergency counter. She filled in the name and the address in the card and signed the form. Half an hour late, the doctor came out and informed her that he is ok now, but had to rest for a few days at the hospital as the head injury is quite serious. Considering his age, he has to be careful. She thanked the doctor as he left the casualty.
Annie thought of what could be done. It was already 8 pm. She had to reach the hostel before 9 pm. She rang up to the warden and told her that she is at the hospital with a relative and would be late at night. The warden was not happy at this, and wanted her back immediately. She hung the line and looked for a phone number on the old visiting card. There were no phone numbers on the card. He went through all the paper pieces from the old man’s pocket to find some number to call. There was one number which never answered. She felt dizzy and exhausted.
Sipping a hot coffee from the canteen, she went to the telephone booth at the hospital. She borrowed the telephone directory from them and searched for the address found on the card. Yes. That address was there. She found the number and gave a ring immediately. It was around 9 O’clock then. After trying thrice, someone picked the phone up. She didn’t know what to say. At the other end, the person said hello again and again, and was about to hang up when she said hello.
“Good evening. I am Annie, a student at the University here. Is it Mr. Harry Fernandez? The reply came swiftly, “No, daddy is not yet back. Can I help you?” Annie did not know how to tell them what happened. She gathered courage and said, “in fact, I don’t know Mr. Fernandez. Pardon me if I am wrong, is Mr. Fernandez a man of around 70 years?” There was panic in the answer: “yes, he is an old man. Anything wrong? Is he alright?” Annie asked them not to panic: “there was a small mishap on the road this evening. I got this phone number from his pocket. He is in Apollo hospital now. Nothing to worry, he is alright.” Annie couldn’t complete what she was saying; before that, the line was cut. She felt miserable that she didn’t even ask the name of the person she talked to. She went back to the hospital and waited outside the ICU.
Around 20 minutes later, she was woken up by the nurse. There was a middle aged couple and a kid with them. The nurse said, “Miss, these are the relatives of the Patient.” She stood up immediately and greeted them. They introduced themselves as Mrs and Mr Thomas Frenandes and their son Felix Fernandez. The couple was tensed and their faces were anxious. She made them sit down and narrated the evening’s incidents to them. She updated them on the condition of their father Mr Fernandez and told them not to worry. They thanked her profusely and asked her about her whereabouts. They dropped her at the hostel and talked to warden to avoid complications in the hostel.
Once in the privacy of her room, Annie thought about the happenings of the day. After a bath she lied down on her bed, thinking of what would happen to Mr. Fernandez. The script and the assignment were out of her mind. She didn’t know when she fell asleep.
Early the next day, she got ready and proceeded to the hospital. Mr. Thomas was there. He told her that his father slept well. Annie wanted to know more about the old man. She was curious. She asked Mr. Thomas what his father was.
“My father was a known man. He tried his hands in many and varied fields and succeeded. Harry was a mastermind- a genius,” began Mr. Thomas. Annie sat there like a child listening to the story.
In his 14th year, Harry published his first story in one of the leading magazines of the state. From then onwards, Harry was an unstoppable talent. He wrote for magazines, newspapers and published a volume of poems before he even reached Bachelors Degree. His interests varied in their shades, but basically he stuck to pen and paper. He broadcast his stories on radio, and slowly took over to television. He wrote for national channel for a while. All these were along with his studies. By the end of his Bachelors degree studies, he was an established author and actor.
It was during his post graduate studies that he fell in love with philosophy of Sartre, paintings of Nicholas Roerich and cinematography of Francois Truffaut. He desired to be existential in expression, peace loving in appearance and controversial in spirit. He went around the streets of the city endlessly in search of something he felt was missing in life. Somehow, he began to dream of becoming a film maker. He thought writing would be the key to this dream. He sent a few of his scripts to renowned film makers of his time. Some were taken. He thus systematically neared his dreams.
In the meanwhile, he married Margaret as his parents constantly pestered him to get married. Margarita was a lovely woman. She changed him thoroughly with her love. He became a family man, became more careful about his life and savings. He loved Margaret like his own life. He had 3 children, of which Mr. Thomas was the second. He got settled in that city. He limited his dreams and worked hard to make his family happy and satisfied.
It was when Thomas was 10 years old, that he got an invitation to work with Mr. Sinha, the topmost director of that time. Sinha wanted Harry to script for his movie. It was something that Harry was looking forward to.
There he meets his soul mate, Radha. He realizes she was the one for her. Yet he remained himself for the love of his family. But his love and affinity for Radha grows day by day. He confesses this to Margaret and Radha. Margaret understands him and says she knows how much he loves her and the kids. Radha too is madly in love with him, but for the love of Harry, she remains silent. She tries to keep distance from him, but he couldn’t resist seeing her. Thus their relationship grows strong. Margaret sees all these, but is not able to resist or prevent. She understood her husband more than anyone else. Though she couldn’t bear the fact that there was another woman in Harry’s life, she knew that he loved his family over everything else.
Harry remained strong for a year after the completion of the film project. But all the time, he was going through intense mental torture. He was literally torn apart between being himself and living his life. He needed to be practical and happy with his family. But he also needed somehow to respond to Radha. He didn’t love Radha for physical pleasures. What was between them was not carnal love. Harry often wondered what he could call that love. Once he asked Margaret about his relationship with Radha. Margaret looked at him in the eyes and said, “Harry, I know you love me and our kids more than everything.” Harry was more and more being pushed into terrible mental uncertainty and pain. All his writings of those times were tragic love stories.
Finally he made up his mind to end this torture. He told Margaret that he had decided on something and is going to meet Radha. He chose the eve of Christmas for this meeting. He called Radha to the park that night. He might have wanted to dramatize this moment. He waited for long for Margaret, but she didn’t turn up. He was about to leave the park. Just then, he heard a call from the other side of the road. It was Radha. She waved to him. As she crossed the road, he too waved back.
Thud! Harry couldn’t believe what he saw. A truck came fast and ran over her. He ran to her. She was lying in a pool of blood on the road. He raised her head and speechless, he wept. Radha, with the last stirrings of life in her moved her lips and asked him, “tell me that you are mine for ever Harry.” He shook his head as he wept his life. His tears and her blood met on the cold road like the day and the night. She struggled to say something and in a moment, she was gone, falling silent into his arms.
Harry remained silent with her body in his arms. His tears went dry. When police came, he was still holding the dead body in his hands. That day onwards, harry never spoke about Radha. It appeared as if that chapter was erased from his soul, as if he was someone else. Harry never became the real Harry again. He started showing signs of memory loss. He forgot his spectacles, bike keys, etc. in the most unusual places. His writing projects were halted. ‘Harry is dying or is he already?’ his friends doubted.
Today, harry is just a living body. Nothing of his former life remains- not a trace of memory. Margaret, Radha and the kids... all are gone. The doctors who treated him gave up after a few years. Margaret died with a broken heart after a few years, leaving the children alone with harry.
Annie wiped tears from her eyes as Thomas finished the story. He called her for a coffee. They didn’t realize that hours passed narrating the story. Annie got up to follow Thomas. She stopped to look at Harry through the glass door of the ICU. She felt miserable.
On the way back to the hostel, she took out her writing pad and tore off a few pages from it and threw them into a dust bin on the road. She walked away wiping her eyes. Those papers fluttered in the wind. It was written, “Script on Harry, the old man.”

- The End -

Smoking affairs

It's been two years! Long enough to get fed up with any non sense. So when I saw fumes rising from Maitri Cafeteria's Chai outlet, I walked up to the source of those fumes- cigarrette fumes.

The are was full of people. So many faces. So many languages. And standing in the midst of all those, the smoker is enjoying her cigarrette and a warm cup of tea. She must be 25, that's it. Young and healthy. But like many tragic hypoctitic academics, she also has put on a careless look carefully furnished using shabby, revealing clothes and a hopeless hairdo.

I walked up to the smoker and asked: "Hello, good evening. I have two questions for you." "Hello, hmm.. Ok, you can ask". "One- What's your name? Two- Don't you know that smoking is injurious to health, and smoking in public is lawfully prohibited and is against ethical and moral practices..." "Hei..."

She interrupted me. "What? Who do you think you are? The keeper of morals? Unappointed moral police on EFL campus? I will do whatever I want, wherever I want. I have the freedom..." Now, I interrupted. "Oh, I haven't finished my question. Do you mind listening to my question in its entirety?"

"No!", said she angrily and continued, "you think you can ask anyone any stupid question?"

I interrupted again, "I am sorry, since you are not ready to listen to my question, I am not ready to listen to you too. Bye"

I walked away.

One moment, and I stopped. My back was burning. I turned in astonishment. The smoker is standing with her empty cup of tea like a demoness, red with anger. The cup is emptied on my back, it burns. I couldn't but let out a loud cry. But I controlled my pain, walked towards her. Now everyone around is looking at me and her. i walked past her into the tea stall. Ordered a cup of tea. When the vendor gave it to me, I took it and gave it to the fuming Smoker. Amazed or angry, looking like a fool, she took the tea from me. Realizing that she looked stupid, she threw the tea down, and it fell on my feet again!

I turned and looked at the crowd who witnessed the drama, took out my phone and called police.

Within 15 minutes, police was there. And when police came, the story changed its nature. They came straight to the heart of the crowd, where I and the crowd was standing. I introduced myself and said that I called them. "What is the problem", asked the inspector.

"Sir, this man has behaved rudely to me" hearing this, the inspector turned around to look at the one who said this. It was the smoker. Now she looked quite pitiable. She continued, "He abused me and talked vulgar to me. When I reacted, he insulted me again" With tears in her eyes, the girl said to the police.

I was shocked. The crowd wasn't shocked!

The inspector turned to me and said, "come, let us go to the station." He turned to the girl and said, "madam, when you get time, come to the station and give a written complaint. We will handle this."

"Won't I get a chance to speak sir, I called you. I was the one who needed help" I asked the inspector.
"It's a case involving women you rascal. You are the accused. You are responsible to prove your innocense." said the inspector.

"Give me one minute, Inspector, I want to address this crowd before i come with you please." i pleaded with him to which he agreed.

I looked around. There were around 100 people who have gathered to see the drama. The girl's jhola bearing friends were all in jubilant mood by now. Some were about to leave, seeing the conclusion of the drama.

I stood on top of a chair and said, "my dear friends, you have witnessed what happened here. I am hurt and am am extremely sad for us the 'crowd' of EFLU than for that girl who has accused me of un-gentlemanly behaviour. I have asked her only two questions. what is your name and why does she smoke in public. she didnt even allow me to complete my question. So I walked away. Why should I listen to her if she is not ready to listen to me? You saw how she threw a hot cup of tea over my back. You saw it. I bought her another cup of tea for the one she lost. She threw it on my leg. You all saw it. I am not sad for her. I am sad for us, the 'crowd' of EFLU. We saw all this. We kept quiet. I was treated like this since I decided to end my silence and ask one person why she smoked at such young age in public place, which is against law. I was assaulted. Just for asking an innocent question with the intention of goodness, I was assaulted. Not just assaulted, I am not branded as an indecent man. She accused me of vulgar talk with her. I believe this is what freedom of women means on our campus. Ans I pity the proponents of this kind of feminism."

The crowd was standing there. no movements. I knew I had to go. So I concluded. "My friends, know this. If this woman's accusation proves right to the eyes of the law, I am not going to say one word against it. If I am convicted for what I am accused of, YOU all will know what was right and what has fallen. That will be the fall of freedom and the remaining morals in this already fallen University. I am going. Thank you for listening."
I turned to the girl and said, "Thanks a lot, " and walked away with the police to their jeep.

There was silence. I hope that was silence before a storm.