Sunday, April 24, 2016

2313 : The falling tree

As kids, we used to play a game. It was a little strange, but here goes.

Each of us would scan the room, and collect 10 things (could be anything - toys, broken remnants, combs, books etc….anything as long we could lift it and accumulate it in a pile. 

So lets say 3 of us are playing, each of us would pick up about 10 items and pile it near (each of) us. Then taking turns, each one would place one item at the center, and announce what it was. It did not have to be what it was. As an example, I would keep a balloon, and announce this was my momma. If someone asked, why and how - I would explain that my momma was fat and round, so was this balloon. Then I would lovingly air hug the balloon. All would laugh and guffaw, because sometimes these analogies were really funny.

The next person would take one of this 10 objects and try and place it on the balloon. So the center pile is now rising, like the Bhuj Khalifa. Get the drift so far?

At one point usually around the 4th turn (10,11, or 12th ), the tower (pile at the center) would lose its center of gravity and would topple. Lets say I had kept the 10th object, it was an old wrinkled newspaper and I call it “my dad’s shirt.”. When asked I explained, “my dad’s shirt(s) are rarely ironed…”

As I placed my dad’s shirt on the pile, the whole pile giveaway and collapsed. Then all the kids would run around the house, guffawing and screaming, “Chintoo placed Raju uncle’s shirt on grandma’s car, and the whole thing came crashing down.”

There would be guffaws, louder screams and then the game would continue from start again…ad nauseum.  

Get the drift? There was no winning and losing. The whole idea was to guffaw.

Today, I did something strange. I picked up 10 items from my room. Then I decided to play this game alone. Listed in the order I finally used them. 

1) A huge book of poetry that you had once gifted me.
2) An empty bottle of domex toilet cleaner
3) A toy bike (Triumph Bonneville)
4) An unused diaper 
5) A battery pack lying around
6) An usb stick
7) A 12.5 kg dumb-bell.
8) A book of photographs (magnum 2015 collection)
9) A empty steel tea cup.
10)An old Nike running shoe (single leg)

Then I start placing them. Lets see how it went.

I place the book at the center to start the pile. This is a huge A4 sized, 300 page book on some of the world’s favorite poems. You had given them to me, knowing that I was absolutely in love with the way these words danced. If asked what this was, I would have retorted “This represents our foundation. The core of both of us, always talking, always sharing, always meaning, and always engaging.” 

Next the empty domex cleaner bottle. Used to clean toilets. If asked, this would be “The periodic house-keeping both of us did to our friendship. Unfortunately today, we have run out of liquid. We could still squeeze the bottle, but its empty.”

The toy Triumph. “It was our gateway to escape this world. To go away, to run into curiosity, to gallop into freedom. To flick the wrist, and believe you can leave this world behind.”

Things still stood. So far the tower was alive (and standing). No guffawing yet !!

The unused diaper. “It was our weapon against dirt. It was our weapon against other weapons, unfortunately, most of the 'other weapons' were of our own making. Hence the diaper was apt, it would have protected us against our own shit.”

The battery pack. “It was meant to symbolize our ability to recharge offline. Our ability to not need power from an external source to remain alive and loving in the kindred.”

Five objects and the tower stood tall. Grinning, menacing and almost invincible. The poetry book at the bottom helped.

The usb stick. “A host of unsorted interactions and memory. Some easily found, some hard to comprehend, some angry, some lovely. All of them retractable - as in we could delete them off easily. All of them in this conflagration of a mash up.”

The dumb-bell. It is heavy and loud. “It added a huge stress on the tower. The weight of the world. The weight of our world. Overwhelming and yet not fatal. Trite but not trivial. Dis-orienting, but not lethal.”

The Magnum book of photographs. “Our attempt to freeze ourselves. Our attempt to photo-touch an image and make it perfect. Our attempt at telling our story in the way we want it to be heard. Out attempt at being ideal, and unfortunately, admired. Our attempt to make others see, but only the one sliver of the story, that we wanted them to see.”

As I placed the book, the tower unfortunately, began to slide and in a couple of seconds fell off.

This time I did not guffaw.

What did we miss. Two items. The tower did not last till their turn came.

The empty tea cup. “Old traditional, and yet resilient cup. One over which we both could have traded our realities. Poured hot tea over the scratched, dented cup into its crevice. The hot tea would re-invigorate you, me, the cup and the universe.”

The nike running shoe. “Allowed us to run away, when we could. Run away from our own madnesses, from our own demons, from the grief we carry inside, from the terror we know the end holds for us, from the chasm that is inevitable.”

I will repeat, I did not guffaw. I swear I did not. But I did ponder and allow myself a wry smile. A game stitched together in complete real-time, which means no preparation and no planning; played on a simple whim; not with the purpose of winning and losing; was played; and how eerily it mirrored the reality of our lives; the sign of times.

Friday, April 22, 2016

2312 : Black is the new black (to the meter of a ghazal)

I remember you in this and that, in parts, like the summer of your 19,
That languish of a year, that June was indeed a 
                                                                               long poem in black.

That night when we walked hand in hand, the Asian moon out on a blot,
Up until today, when I do recall, I can only think of 
                                                                               Hong Kong in black.

And that bloody inebriated day, when we drank and swam in the Australian,
You had cussed and screamed in your native tongue, “I can smell red all
                                                                               along the black.”

On the day we had danced and waltzed to the tune of the stars,
At the altar, you looked stunning, the white all around you was as 
                                                                               strong as the black.

At Spain, in that blasted shopping mall, living dangerously, you had chosen an unlike you lbd,
You had looked at me in askance, and I had nodded in annoyance, it was a 
                                                                              wrong shade of black. 

As I had lain dying in your arms, you offered to hum a sweet lullaby,
A rhyme here, a tune there, a note here, a pitch there, my own epitaph -my
                                                                              swan song in black.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2311 : On the letting go...

I remember walking with my spouse the other day, and she paused and wanted to pluck off a few leaves from a lemon tree. She likes the smell the lemon oil leaves on her hands.

She could not reach the leaves, and she asked me to pluck a few leaves. I willingly leaned ahead and did the act. As I finished plucking about 4-5 leaves, an old man (taatha as the keralities call these folks....respectful like a grandfather) jumped from behind the trees and shouted at us in his weak age weary voice. He was a Tamilian who chose to speak in English. He said "We had planted this tree, you cannot pluck leaves from here.", he said in a weak but angry voice.

I politely told him sorry (almost a mutter), but as we walked ahead, could not but think and ponder on this. The taatha must have been around 80 (my guess) and is probably at best going to be around for another 20 years.

And as he prepares for the last lap, he is still married to the tree which he probably planted 40 years ago. I understand love, belonging and a sense of emotional caring...what I struggle with is the sense of ownership and indignation.

Can you imagine this taatha at his moment of dying? Buddha would say, he is still so attached to this world, that he shall have to come back. I am beginning to see the wisdom of Buddha.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2310 : Baba bulle shah's wisdom

Dharamsal dhardwaye rehnde, Thakar daware thug, 
Wich maseet kosete rehnde, ashiq rehan alag
Partisans live in Dharamsalas, cheats in temples, 
Butchers reside in mosques; while lovers live apart. 

2309 : What is life?

Again came in a fwd from the same friend. I like the quote.

The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘Holy Shit, What a Ride!'”—Mavis Leyrer

2309 : Osho on solitude

A friend of mine sent me this quote on Osho. I think its phenomenally apt for our time and generation.

“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person--without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”

2308 : Gandhari's silence

The war was all but over now. What prevailed was a sense of a deep loss and the accompanying melancholy. Krishna had come around to meet Gandhari and  offer his condolences. She has been understandably upset. She had seen him with the eyes and outlook, the kind one only reserves for our enemies.

After his initial words, which she listened to patiently, she had chided him for being biased and taking the side of the Pandavas in the only battle that had ever mattered to her. The battle of Kurukshetra. He had tried to defend and remind her of the many times in the interim when he had tried to play the role of a reconciling friend. He admitted to not having been able to make any progress with both Duroyodhana and Shakuni.

In the due course she had muttered the infamous curses, the ones that consigned Krishna, Balaram and the Yadav clan to terrible endings. Krishna had accepted the curse and then proceeded back to his kingdom.

Dritharashtra had also heard the words. Like Gandhari - he too had not seen, but he had definitely heard, both about and of the war, and yes, he had also heard of the curses as they were pronounced.

In the days post the Krishna visit, Gandhari had become immensely silent - self absorbed to a point of almost disappearing. The only way Dritharashtra knew she was still around was by the footsteps and the odd hiccup he would hear from within his proximity.

After what could have been weeks, he finally one day decided to have a chat. He announced his intention with a loud almost self inflicted cough. In her blindness, she glanced in the direction of the sound with anticipation. A few minutes later, he eventually started to talk.

“Dear, are you still angry?”

“What makes you think so, my Lord?”, she asked with a polite wasp.

“You were angry with Krishna the other day, and since then, you have not spoken again.”

“My anger is not the one without the words. In all fairness, my anger is my tongue.”

“Then why the silence my dear?”

“My silence is a form of diatribe. A lazy form of debate.”

“So your anger is your tongue. And your silence is a debate.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Then why curse Krishna. You know this, I never had a corner for Krishna in my heart, but Balaram, my dear, he was always the nephew I adored. He was the one who wanted Duroyodhan to marry Panchali. He was always on our side. Your curse included him too in its intricate violence.”

“I have been confined all my life. With this marriage, and then with my blindfolds. With my curse, I hope to set myself free.”

She then added, “My sorrow at losing my children is immense. This exile which I find myself in, cannot be wiped out in this lifetime. I adopted your faultlines and made them mine. I locked myself in your shadow, and shut off the light from my eyes. I have always been broken and rotting. This curse, this anger, this silence - all of them are my weapons of redemption. A thousand years later, I don’t want to be remembered as a blind princess or a blindfolded queen, but instead as the Goddess who shattered the beauty of this dream by just the fire of her breath.”

2307 : Vice Versa

She met him the other day and the conversation started on a complaining note, “I think you are terrible habit for me.” 

“What does that mean?”, he asked.

He added, “Am I terrible, or are my habits terrible, or am I terrible for you?”, he fawned in a fake accent as he asked this.

She scorned and icily said, “Arrey baba, your English is tho completely terrible. We shall sponsor Rapidex for you. If it helped Kapil, it should help you too. You are tho definitely worse off than him.”

He nattily laughed and after a pause asked again, “Ok tell me what is terrible.”

“I don’t like that your silly jokes and stories are addictive. So are your completely stupid poems.”

“So its my jokes and poems that are terrible. You don’t have to tell me that, I already know.”

“Nah nah….its you and your whole being that is terrible. For me, you are almost like smoking, or pot - just a terribly bad habit. One's that can cause cancer.”

“Ah…that means I am bad for you?”

“Yes. Finally. Thanks for getting it.”

“So in short, I am like a vice?”

She furiously nodded in assent.

He paused, chuckled and then asked, “Very well, dear, then, will you please be my versa?”