Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Deprived Life


He was naughty,genial and often daring. Perhaps it was the youth in him that egged him to rebel. The age of revolt as people defines youth! There was certain impetuosity in him, but most of all he was a lovable and loving fella.

We have had quite a few adventures and nocturnal exploits together. Though it was very true that his father displayed and enforced domineering pervasiveness and discipline that is seen often meted out to conscripts, my friend in spite of the many thrashings have stood up, dusted himself and serenaded with fun and frolic. Fun, banter was very much a vital limb of his youthfulness. Rejoicing in our youth we had a jolly good time. I still recall the fear that I always had for his father’s temperament. It was often a tough task to call him out of the house while day time  and sneak him out of the house late evenings and at night.

Looking back, I feel that the atmosphere in his home was stifling for a wanderlust soul like he. School and later college was an obtrusive obligation thrust upon us, though we both could cross over with average scores.

 It was 1951 and in the final year after the intermediate examinations, one day evening some of us got together under the canopy of the giant peepul tree that stood at the far corner of the local temple. He was found listless and muted. That was a strange bearing he ever displayed. We had a few beedis with us and some of us liberally exulted in its whirling smoke puffed out from our lungs. We set off for our homes when the temple bells rang for the evening deeparadhana and the crows had ceased their cawing. The bats took off from the lofty branches of the peepul and circled above.

We walked quietly in the mildly warm dusk; the incandescent street light bulbs on the tall  lampposts that stood at a hundred yard distance from each, lend a shadowy image.  They looked like distant stars and swarmed by moths. We could listen to our breaths in the total silence which was occasionally disturbed by the rustling of dry leaves under our feet on the road. My house was farther beyond his. It was then that he opened out a bit. “Look I cannot stand the life in my house any more. And it would be better if I could contribute something to the kitty at home as you know we are six children and father has his temperamental out bursts probably out of anxiety. You know it is a pretty tough to feed seven”.                                                                                                                  "So what do you intend to do about that?” I asked. He was not forthcoming. We bid goodnight and he jumped over the picket fence gate at his house. I moved on and without knowing I would not see him as I knew him, ever again!  
I did not see or hear about him till about noon the following day. It was in the afternoon while she was serving me lunch with boiled brown steaming rice, sambar, ayala fish curry and elephant yam fries that mother casually asked if he had come by that morning. I nodded my head in "No" as my mouth was full with the wonderful gruel of rice and fish gravy. “His little brother was here asking for him and he went back when I told him that you were still wriggled up in bed”. She finished.

He was not seen the whole day and he did not reach home that night. By next day afternoon it was confirmed that he was missing along with his bag of few clothes. Later, that evening some news came about that he was seen the previous morning on the train leaving for Madras, a travel of almost 39 hours those days. I realized he literally ran away from home in search of freedom and living. He could have told me .couldn’t he? His parents, amidst their worry sighed a little relief .The mystery behind his vanishing act made a conspirator of me. Would somebody believe that his thick pal was not aware of his mysterious disappearance? I avoided his father even on the street. I hid behind the bushes and trees when I saw him afar.

When the brown inland letter squared off with the postal seal and my address came to me from an army post depot address in Madras, I was elated as I thought I knew before I saw its content that it must be from him. My chum wrote to me that he joined the army as a trainee soldier and would be undergoing ten months training. In Chennai he joined the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army that was on a recruiting spree post-Independence. Nineteen years old, young, tall muscular and charming, he was a destined recruit, I guess.
Once a month the old post man visited me on his old Raleigh bicycle and thrust   a brown inland letter into my hands. He never smiled or acknowledged my presence; he displayed a face annoyed at my sight. And he was simply doing his postal duty by delivering the letter to my address. Well the whole village believed that I was in cahoots with my friend and I offended his family and elders of the village by not forewarning his booting.

It was a year and a half and I was counting the last couple of days before he was back on his first vacation as a soldier. He had elaborated in his previous letter the gifts he had bought for his family.7 ‘o clock shaving blades for his father, chocolates and Nestle condensed milk for his sisters and mother, a pack of “Lucky Strike” cigarettes for me .. …the list went on.

The day before morning he was to reach back, his father received a trunk telephone call at the local post office. It was from the Railway Police Station in Coimbatore. They had subdued a young man, an army recruit on the train from Madras. He had turned unusually violent at night after waking from sleep and had to be restrained. He was showing all signs of extreme insanity. They followed to here from the address and telephone number found on him.

His father was devastated. He along with a couple of local elders left for Coimbatore immediately.

 1996, September 10th.He died early morning today. Forty five years of extremely deprived life. He did not recover from the inexplicable change that came about on that fateful journey with loads of gifts and happiness bursting at the seams. Fellow travelers had no clue to what went wrong. They saw him sleep like any and then saw him wake up a mad violent man. He was confined to the mental asylum for the major part of his bedeviled phase of life. Those days the viable treatment for insanity or extreme mental illness was administration of electric shock which subdued the patient and put him to sleep. He endured many. I have seen him at times, in his cell in the hospital, sometimes unconscious after the electric therapy and sometimes awake. He recognized me at times, but suddenly he was violently profane and abrasive. Sometimes he even spoke about the naughtiest things we did. He often used to remind me to bring back the beedis we used to smoke and I took him beedis in acceptable ration .

I cannot to this day see what went astray. A life that promised lot of love and fun to be bludgeoned by misery and to go up in smoke.He lived a life of living dead,seized by delusions and hallucinations with violently frightening temperament which towards his last days lessened to the extent that he seemed to be existing without knowing.It seemed to me that he was in his silence inviting for a journey into his world which we cannot know. Or did he say, “Welcome to my life of night mares”? 














Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Ravishing of Women

                         Suicide of Lucretia 508 BC


The burst of outrage and the leaderless demonstration and protest in New Delhi against the gang rape of a young woman in a Delhi transport bus has been a windfall to the media in terms of ratings. I would not be surprised if they juxtapose commercials of condoms in between the coverage and programs on the appalling incident. The opposition politicians, sans party lines voiced ridiculous demands and expressed angst. The government in power which displays astounding imbecility in all things except corrupt practices and sleaze was irritated by the protest, which according to them was much ado about nothing.

Certainly rape is not an endemic scourge confined to India.  The ravishing of women has been man’s vicarious pleasure from ancient times in human history. The Roman attitude towards women and rape was that of property felony against the husband or the lord of the house. The rape and suicide of the Roman noble woman “Lucretia” triggered the rebellion that is said to have overthrown the Roman king and paved the way for the Roman Republic.

I happened to read the poignant article of Kevin Alfred Strom,” Ravishing the Conquered Women of Europe”. To say that the feeling it gives is distressing, is a misnomer. The depth of revulsion at the human race which we represent is fathomless – library.flawlesslogic.com/massrape.htm.

Rape as a weapon of war has been in use since early human times. Lust, liquor and loot were the offer for the victorious. This was taken to horrendous proportions by the victorious allies in Europe after the Second World War. Since history is always dictated by the Victor, atrocities piled on the vanquished are seldom known.

The wide spread anguish and outrage that is now a phenomenon in Delhi over the past few days has not even in this age of instant visual beaming by television channels,  provoked such demonstrations in other parts of the country. About a year ago a woman in her late teens was pushed off a running train in God’s Own Country- Kerala and raped before being killed by the lone rapist. Not to be left behind, recently a father was arrested for repeatedly raping his adolescent daughter. Local channels are all with such distressing news 24 x 7.Tender age doesn’t seem to be deterrent for physical abuse. Infants, teenagers and the aged are at equal risk- be it in the sanctuary of the home or outside the walls of the house. This is when one has to acknowledge that it is not power and subjugation alone that is behind the mindset of a rapist or a molester. How could a father engage in such demonic acts on his child?

The matter that looks rather perplexing is the sudden out-pour of anger after the Delhi gang rape. Rape is a daily occurrence by the hour .Not to forget even men are sodomised and raped. In Kerala a former Marxist Chief Minister was quoted to have said that in the USA, rape is as casual and common as having a cuppa.  This was a Communist’s reaction to the mass abuse of a woman in Kerala.

Why is it that the unbridled anger that we now see not directed to the systematic abuse of women by the State? Be it the questionable powers given to the paramilitary and army personnel in the North East resulting in rape of women by security forces (seldom reported to the outside world); the outrage the disciplined (sic) Indian army continues to commit on women in Kashmir; the rape and murders of tribal women in the central heartlands of India by the Para military deployed against the Maoist?

Moving buses, speeding trains or police stations, the safety of women is not going to be secured. Firstly, because the male psyche finds excuses on her dress codes and her presence in a particular place at a given time. This fantastic theory is seconded by the likes of Sheila Dixit, pathetically herself a woman, who was quoted to have questioned the indiscipline of the gang rape survivor in being outside her home at that unearthly hour of 9.30 at night. Even after the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary the survivor is placed in a situation where she has to prove she is not guilty of provocation and of loose morals. The court also has stated that non-consensual sex even among spouses can be seen as violation of woman’s right. Because a woman goes the way of harlot, it does not give man or the social order the right and impunity to violate her. Either the learned court is ahead of our times or we insist that we would like to confine in barbaric social laws and notions.

Political clout of the perpetrator or his long hands reaching high places will ensure that the investigating agency- the police re- writes the sordid saga with the victim as the villain and profane. The rest will be handled by the incorrigible lies that barristers of the defendant orate in court rooms, tarnishing the victim and shredding her character to smithereens. The sanctuary law provides is deftly used by the practitioners of the law to vilify and pillories the victim and ensure the case is dismissed or the accused gets away with a knock on the knuckle.

What assurance can a rape survivor hope for even from an all women police posse who would taunt and lambast her for a “putain”? The social acceptance by her family her spouse and his family? Are young men noble hearted and chivalrous to descend and grab her by the waist and speed away on horseback? How many among the outraged young men demonstrating in Delhi are disposed with the audacity and are knightly to offer the survivor, solace, love and security of a home?

We are missing the woods for the trees. The fact that has to be acknowledged is that the fire has been burning since the dawn of man – rape and violence against woman is not a nascent phenomenon taking cue from Bollywood flicks. Sexual violation on women and the insensitive assault on the hapless young woman in the Delhi bus was only a tiny aspect in the anarchy and decadence that has set in man’s mind. State sponsored tyranny is another extension. It is not that all is well with man and sexual abuse of women is the only pernicious issue, an exception that has to be immediately corrected.

The means suggested for this is equally anarchic like the act itself. Castration, death penalty and so on that are vociferously demanded can be also extended to other crimes. Why not amputation of the limb for larceny, stoning to death for adultery?

The reason why the spontaneous protest in Delhi lost its halo was because of obstinate demands and emotional statements on punishments that have to be legalised. Bringing down the insensitive government to act has other means that are democratic. Why not vigils at the India Gate like the ones in Tahir Square, Tiananmen Square or even the Wall Street? Instead vociferous calls for immediate and unconditional action from the authorities like the pigheadedness of the Anna Hazare bandwagon will only eventually result in the movement against sexual abuse of women whimpering out.
And women will continue to be ravished.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rambo



Sometime ago, a dog breeder fell in love with our Rottweiler, Rambo. He was insistent that we agree to have his Rottweiler bitch mate with Rambo to sire. The naughty Rambo being a virgin we were rather amused to find out how he would react to the luscious bitch. Naturally the fellow was bowled over and but we did not expect to see such panache and civilised (sic) conduct from him, a dog. The female was in her heat and naturally the scent of the bitch in her sexual arousal would suffice for the male dog to go berserk. We let them together for one full day. Rambo first took her around the compound and like an obedient escort stood by her side in the enclosure. We were wondering and often thought Rambo was impotent. We in fact teased him for what we thought was lack of masculinity behind his hairy chest. The fact was that the female dog was not fully in her state of sexual arousal. And poor Rambo had to wait and know patience. He would not violate her, alas dogs do not know to rape!

The hullaballoo and outrage after the Delhi gang rape that has virtually deluged over the past few days made me remember the conduct of the dog Rambo, a creature in the family of beasts upon whom we foist the prevalence of such behavior and designate it , “beastly act”. This notion and judgment that mankind often make is unjust and preposterous. A rape victim was quoted having said “Not enough people understand what rape is and, until they do ..., not enough will be done to stop it.” As male, I cannot know the physical and emotional trauma an act of rape can do to woman. But to empathize with agony one need not have to be hauled over the burning coal.

I cannot say with certainty from the perspective of all men what emotions can jet across a man’s mind and what muscular consequences he may demonstrate when blessed with the site of a curvaceous beautiful woman. But there can be no man who will not be titillated by the physical endowment and beauty of women. Speaking for myself, necessarily it is not the feeling of sex and instant copulation that plough me down. Often it is the awe and admiration for the beauty of the female physique and charm that enchants. Lust is something incidental and not a necessary factor that haunts when confronted by a titillating female physique. And voluptuousness necessarily need not arouse the insistent craving for copulation, though it can be the catalyst. Certainly the endowment given to the human species is the faculties to think and restrain. But beasts seem to have expressed amazing prowess of restraint that we believe they are incapable of. When a man does an act that besmirches the beast, perhaps we need to redefine the lexicon.

How do we explain a father violating the daughter? What mindset is it that sets off a group of men on a hapless woman? It is just not the sickness of the mind but the decadence of the society we represent and the civilisation that we laud about. Such creatures, are they comforting beings to be unleashed in the society?

I will not be surprised if a media enterprise offers the victim of the Delhi outrage a fat sum to tell her side of the story, her experience of the gang act. Because such is the swelling of squalid, vicarious pleasure that is festering like gangrene among us.

The Mayan prophecy of apocalypse on the 21 st Dec last would not have been a cataclysm at all. It would have perhaps ensured the elimination of a civilization that has renegade the right to be called civilised.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heat and Dust



Over the past week I watched two Hollywood flicks that were saut├ęed with pretty decent action and plots and both had extra marital sex and adultery thrown casually into the plots. One, the adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s “Painted Veil” and the other with a much young Robert de Nero and Al Pacino in the cast. In the genre of infatuation, "The Summer of 42” is still etched in memory though.

The subject matter is not the film but depiction of certain foibles that was shown as an attribute in man-woman relationship in western culture. In many literary fictions and Hollywood films-something that seems to be at odds with oriental thinking have been often seen. Even in the works (English) literature by Indian authors on the “Raj “and as well as the British writers of the early twentieth century, the western dame was shown as voluptuous and fast. Or did I read only such allegedly profane books that flourished on the banal theme? Nay, the lecherous eyes of the brown skin native clad in loin cloth roving with irresistible  lust when he serves tea to the fair skinned mem sahib and while she watches the gora sahibs play polo have been artfully mentioned in many works placed in the era of the Raj. And then the lonely soul she is in the strange and humid land, cast away from the cool climes of Victorian England seek the warmth and acrid smell of the brown skinned native. The hungry wolf!

In one of the film, the villain of the piece meets a young and sophisticated woman in a restaurant and though the conversation was begun rather rude they vibe well and spend the evening together and have sex.  The cliched exclamation that I would have uttered in my young age, would have been, “lucky bastard” (!).But in the present time, though I envied the fellow, I was quite amazed as to how a woman could agree to be in bed with a stranger – a man who she acquainted only for a few hours. It was something that a harlot would be inclined to.

Now, the Hollywood flicks are a plenty that pictures such instance. This in fact was titillating in the age of freewheeling youthfulness.  It may have crafted a distinct picture of the western woman, I’m certain not in me alone but among the ones of my generation. A ravenous breed, hungry for sex and willing to devour any man! This was also the theme of the most obsessing books I read when I was about fifteen or sixteen-“Venus in India” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Longed from then on to sail across to the West! “Heat & Dust”, the Booker prize winning work of Ruth  Jabwala which was later made into a acclaimed film by Merchant & Ivory was  at par. It only added to the allure and fantasy of a carefree life in the West.
An absolute chimera it turned out to be! And not one, even one of the Western women I have chanced to associate with, offer to reenact the plots. It is true as far as I could understand that they are tactile in association (man-woman), something we Indians see as to be distanced and frowned upon. And most of all the halo of virginity, a concept that may have been foisted on cultures by the male psyche is of no great reverence in the West.

I and C were discussing about a couple of films we saw that had adultery as the wicked. They were zestfully enacted and were appealing. Did it matter if the spouse has a fatuous fling? We wondered!    In a context yes it did, it does. I feel, foremost it is the possessiveness than the moral precepts that haunt or pester when such adventures come to light. And that is the matter in any society occidental or oriental. It is possessiveness and the good lord's commandment is only incidental.
As for the libertine ways of men and women, perhaps we have more hypocrisy and shallowness in relationships in our societies than in the West.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Achamillai




A disturbing morning today, to have begun with!
And one of my most cherished poems came to mind.
 It was a pity that in the curriculum that was dished out at school & the university (in Kerala) I was denied the nectar of Subramania Bharatiyar’s great mind. It was Keats, Shelly, Tennyson, Wordsworth and that genre, besides the poet laureates of Malayalam, my mother tongue.
Here is one of the few gems I cherish of Bharatiyar, who like many prodigies was denied a full life’s time. He died young at 39 in 1921.

I get goose bumps when I recite these lines, but will it transfuse into the  blood in my veins? I do not know. Have I ever borne these words in my veins,did I ever try to imbibe? I guess I’m not greatly satisfied.
I have tried in the best possible way to transliterate the verses. I wonder if it justifies remotely, if it does, well I’m content.


”Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Icckathulorellam yethirthu nindra  pothilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Thuchamagi yenni  nammai thooru  cheytha pothilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Pichai vangi  unnum vazhkkai pethu vita podhilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Ichai konda porulellam izhandhu vita pothilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye.”

“Kacchanintha kongai mathar kankal veesu pothilum ,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Nachchai vayile  konanthu nanbar ootu pothilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Pachai yooniyaintha  ver padaigal  vantha podhilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye,
Uchi meethu vaan  idinthu veezkindra pothilum,
Achamillai, achamillai, acham enpathu illaye.”


Fear not oh soul. Fear not
Fear not when the world arrange against
The derisive stares and the faces cold,
Fear not oh soul. Fear not.
When fated to implore by the vagaries of life
When you’ve lose possessions cherished
Fear not oh soul. Fear not.

Fear not oh soul. Fear not
Fear not the seductress’s charms
Fear not the venom of kith and kin,
Fear not the hordes of men in arms
Fear not oh soul. Fear not.
And when the heavens above come flaming down
Fear not my soul. Fear not.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Violence+Martyr+Violence = FAITH



I think genesis of an idea or a philosophy is greatly influenced by the age and time in which it is born. As much as a child who’s growing up, his outlook, vision of life, his morality and ethics are determined by the circumstances into which he was born and importantly how he was raised. Don’t you think so?
I some cases a turbulent incident and or experience can influence a person without bounds and change the course of his or her life. Like it probably did to the lives of Gautama Buddha and the Mauryan beacon- Emperor Ashoka and in recent history to Mohandas Gandhi.

It is also true that a religion like Communism was born out of the socio-economic conditions of an age. But its application in  society in as violent a way as it was applied in the Czarist Russia or even in the Pol Pot’s Cambodia, paved way for its eventual demise in those societies. It is a glaring fact  that history often repeats, but Man seldom notice – that violence begets violence and, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart”( Proverb 11.30).

Though an irreligious person, I have been fascinated by Christ (not the Christ that the Church has electroplated as she want), but the Christ- he may have been a mere mortal, the son of God (figuratively speaking) or the son of God, a man who extolled virtue, nonviolence and urged masses to rebel silently within and exhorted the marginalised to do so, so that a skewed and unjust socio- economic system was addressed and changed. He eventually paid with his life like some others in later history, who dared to articulate- a loner, a lone voice in a frenzied mob.

I feel Christ was perhaps the first communist and not Karl Marx, who was more of an economist expanding on probable panacea for economic and social ills and also borrowing from the philosophy of Christ. It was strange aberration and a painful one that his (Christ’s) acolytes in later days indulged in the most heinous acts to preach and spread his philosophy around the globe. But then that scorched chapter became a ugly history after the age of the Inquisitions. I think, now no one who has admiration for Christ would exhort the archaic dictum of, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, even against the most extreme provocation. If this does not suggest the thought behind the genesis of Christ’s philosophy, the humanistic ring around its genesis, what else does it tell? Whereas a violent birth and a violent childhood is sure to bring forth violent existence!

I have now spent more than a year in a society, a land which is by far open and free, when compared to some of the countries in the neighbourhood who are grossly obscurantists and intolerant. Most of them are conforming to remnants of tribal laws and culture from the medieval ages, when tribal customs, archaic and unjust laws, belief in sorcery and its use to create fear of the supernatural, internecine wars and intrigues, horrendous cruelty on the losers and dissenters were all as common as the sun rise and sun set. Faith and philosophies born out of such times continue to be as primitive as it can be. Though people live in the absolute comfort aided by the advancement of science and technology coming out of Western scientific temper and thought, they seem to be still marooned in the dark ages as far as intellect, custom and beliefs go. Faith in violence, still is in the core of their nuclei.

If someone told me that I represent a country of apostates and who are pagans and with beliefs in strange and false gods, I would either try to enlighten him on his lack of knowledge or ignore the comment in total. For if someone calls you a jackass, unless you doubt you are one why react or show a violent dissent?

A few days ago I was privy to a strange custom that was enacted outside my apartment. A house of god as one may call it, flocked by a sect of people situates across the road. The ten day long festivities began and for the first eight days I was curious, to begin with and then began to enjoy the congregation that came at night time, the drums and the songs they sang. It reminded of those temple and church festivities back home. Then on the ninth night and tenth morning it was in my understanding bizarre and macabre enacting of a strange and repulsive ritual. Scores of youth lining on either side clad in white, wailing, flagellating with flails and soon they were drenched in their own blood.  The morning ritual was with menacing swords slashing themselves, their torso and head. The young fellows seemed to flaunt. Blood was flowing from head to heel down their torsos, the white clothing a distant thing! The bizarre melee was their way of venerating a historical figure who they considered as the ordained chieftain of the faithful’s and who was brutally killed in the battle by renegades of the same faith.

Later that afternoon I walked an alley down and for the first time I knew the stench of human blood. It was nauseating and morbid air.  I wondered how haloed would this bloodletting and infliction of pain can ever be? If reverence to the martyr and commemoration of martyrdom was the observance then those folks could have enmasse gone to a medical facility and donated blood. That would have been a great act of reverence and worshipful than this ghoulish ritual. But!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Confessions of A Confused Mind


I have disappointments, awkwardness that I want to cloak. I want to feel I’m not unabashed of my disappointments, which I think rise from my timidity and my inability to be decisive. I admit that I have always wanted life to take a different course, or to put it in another way- I wanted to tread a different path. But the lack of will and gumption made me what I’m and brought me to where I’m. And the real I, often feel peeved, more because of fear of what people would see and judge of me. I dislike and dread people judging me- weak in temperament and unless I gather to emit a rough exterior, display piggery and rudeness , the armour that I built subconsciously, will fall apart .I know this is sham and plain hypocrisy, but nevertheless allows me to feel  some security within its cocoon. But I worry someone audacious will call my bluff.


I agitate more at the helplessness fully conscious that anger and annoyance is all I can show as the smoke screen for my mental state. Flummoxed? But I will want to defiantly deny I’m confused and I’m in the wrong. It is true I ‘m disheveled and annoyed by everything around, even the bark of the stray dog on the street or its distant whining. I tremble with irritation and ire in the face of arguments. I want unchallenged compliance, but I’m annoyed at the disagreement shown by others- even by my wife! I can only see it as defiance . I feel total bitterness.Fairness, I feel can exist only when there is absence of arguments .

I have fantasies like everyone out there; I have lived a past that was rebellious and nonconforming. The excursion into rebellion was deviant and when persistently hounded by, first the solitude of childhood and then the pithy urge of adolescence and teen. But yet,later, I had to compromise and conform in many ways. I could not pursue the fascinations that tempted me. I dreamed to break the shackles and the garrote that bound me. But it was like an oubliette and exit was difficult. Yet,I dreamed-  the unending travels to distant lands, the nomadic sojourns in far off places, the eternal honey moon with my favourite writers through their books that I would devour till I cease to breathe.And most of all the serenading for her in lust that was boundless..

Between you and me let me say, I know that the timorous 'I' in me chose a life that was typically wedded to conventions.

 Ha She! I was her paramour and she could enslave me in her enchantment. I relished it and it was ecstatic. I enjoyed being pliable to her whims, her perversions, I loved the enslavement.  But I was too gutless to agree to her demand to cohabit with her and I was dependent on the doles from home. I dreaded that. She was incensed and cursed me, labeled me coward. I was, in a way! I was a coward and that I without me knowing was becoming a misogynist. I felt trampled upon by women dominated home and then out there she was forcing me to grovel, to accept her dictations. I was scared and out of that rose a general dislike, contempt, aversion to anything feminine, man or beast? I ran away from her. Sometimes I wish I had not. But her odour lingers!

Now strangely I find myself at a crossroad. And again the old fear of the morrow, the fear of what the ones back home, the world out there would think of me- lurks, taunting me and I fail to decide. I try in vain to blame it on the world, the system, my wife, my friends and even the stranger on the street. I again see me stumbling at the rope. I want to see the successful ones and among my friends as being too street smart for ethical comfort and appreciation. I feel comfort in seeing and imagining that their success is assisted by compromised social life; of embracing opportunistic way of life. I try to blame my pitfalls and my disappointments on a grossly unfair world. I feel I’m unfit for the society and its way of living. I experience like the odd one out. But I try to lay back and ostentate to myself, my successful tryst with fidelity   and my distancing from moral depravity as I suppose many are. I can staunchly claim to have scaled a peak in the character that many could not scale. But, I still feel annoyed and profane. That makes me angry. 

 People as I see are rude and baneful and they conspire and accuse me of being so. I detest unfavourable judgment in all opinions that are thrown at me and am alienated too; a non-agreement unbearable. I fret and fume that the conspiracy is absolute and I feel a loner. I would want to redefine blasphemy. Anything and anybody not conforming to my feelings, my thoughts, and my wish is blaspheming. I would not bate an eye if I have to lose relationships, I would like to believe so. .And like places that I have been and loved but managed to leave, should not be entrapping me. I fear sentiments, I love them too. They are mooring me anchored, I fear that would melt my armour and I do not have the temerity to accept so.

I fear the cassock that shields me will fall down; my glass cubicle will crumble.

I will fight back. Shouldn’t I? I’m not defeated .am I?
Or have I missed, not noticed the gift in hand- that I actually am blessed?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Lord God Made Them All



All Creatures Great and Small; all Things Bright and Beautiful; all Things Wise and Wonderful; the Lord God Made Them All.

James Herriot books are a genre apart in uniqueness, beauty and simplicity, about animals, pets and his love for them. The dog stories of Herriot are viand for the mind and soul, be it young or old. However it was not until well into my life, I could have a pet at home. That was more because of C’s immeasurable love and fascination for animals, especially dogs. I have had cats back when I was little, but they were often frowned upon at home, more because of their behavioral traits of opportunism. I did love them nevertheless.

So we were assisted by a family friend to take a pet from a litter of puppies. The offer was for free as it was the only one from the litter that was left because the others all male were taken away by people. So, the little bitch, a Labrador- Dachshund mix breed and a black one came to our house when she was about sixty days old. We named her “Blacky”! Both Aravind and Radhika, then about five and two years of age were equally excited and in fact their curiosity was often irritant to the little pup.
Blacky was less than foot tall and pretty stretched like her mother who was a Black Dachshund. However her behavioural traits and attitude was inherited from her father the Labrador. That made her an intelligent, loving and obedient dog. She was zealously concerned about Radhika and guarded her like an Alsatian. She would not shy from chasing a stranger if he/she went near the girl. But understood who had to be let in and kept at a distance.

There was an instance when she did what she resisted doing and what she never dared to do thereafter. The primeval instinct in her once got the better and she ran out on to the road and later came in awash, probably in stagnant drain water. For the first and the last time she got the stick and endless bath in shampoo, soap,  spray of lots of perfume and cologne thereafter.

She slept on the sofa in the living room. Though the kids wanted her in the bed along with them, I was insistent that bed was out of bounds to her and she can have the cosy comfort of the sofa. Certainly I could see in her tiny eyes that she frowned upon my decision. She used to timidly tag on to the kids at bed time but when I wagged finger at her she used to go and curl up in the sofa.

Then, we moved into another house and a couple of house next to our, was a woman with whom Blacky became friends. The intro, I guess happened when C took her for strolls outside. The woman had a comfortable and luxurious life. She was estranged, from her husband; in fact she abandoned, banished him after he suffered a major heart attack and was penniless as well. The story is rather unsavory to dwell. She was keen about a hedonistic life and seemed to enjoy it.

Blacky who was annoyed and uncomfortable when she knew that none of us would be around in the house suddenly seemed to vanish at night after she got her meal. It was rather a mystery; we could not hear her growl and bark in the night admonishing a street dog when it would howl outside. Then punctually at about seven in the morning when I would be in the verandah having my cuppa and morning newspaper she would wriggle in through the closed gate and trot to me rather timidly and with  guilt in her eyes and sit by my chair staring eagerly at me. Her black tail wagging and was with some apprehension. When I asked her where the hell she was she would gaze down on to the floor and then quickly vanish into the house. This became a routine. We later found that the woman next doors were keeping Blacky in her bed and in the comfort of her air-conditioned bed room. Blacky finally got the privilege which she wanted. There was not a moment during other hours of the day she would leave the house.

I was quite defiant about the dog’s attitude. I exclaimed that she was an opportunist and selfish like the woman next doors forsaking relationship for comfort .Though an uncompromising dog lover, even C was rather surprised at her behavior and perhaps saw some parallel.

Later ironically and quite disturbingly, when she took ill she chose to spend the night at home and die and we were calling out to her when we found that she did not turn up the next morning as she used to. C went to the woman’s house to fetch her and was alarmed when she found she had turned up the previous night there, but did not sleep in the woman’s bed and she went away soon. Sometime late in the morning, she was found dead under the foliage of crotons that stood outside the French window she used to sneak out after her meal at night.

Did she know she would die and wanted to die in the house? Did she try jumping back into the house that night through the window

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Summer Storm


I stood by the well, and it was about three in the afternoon. The hot summer sun swiftly had vanished and darkness had dawned at noon. I felt the change in the air-the crows seemed to flutter in circles perhaps prodding the others to scamper and fly back to the safety of their roost; the sparrows which are a rare sight these days were hastening to pick up the specks of food they could find and were intent to fly back to their nestlings; the mynas were not to be left behind; the family of squirrels were scurrying up the branches of the old mango tree; the lone ranger –the serpent bird who found roost among the thick green foliage of the mangos-teen moved to a safer branch. The clouds had gathered in thick mass, in dark, blackish grey. The sky looked viciously beautiful! One would wonder if the sun was up in the sky a little while ago glaring down on all earthlings in its full summer fury. The dominance over him was total


The breeze scouted and moments after thunder roared in the distance. The wind quickened and the tall stooping coconut palms swayed ominously. I stood still looking at the sky and felt the swift change in the air seep up from through my feet, through every sinew in me. Lightning broke crevasse of fire-fiery   streaks in the dark rain clouds. The cumulus nimbus was in no mood to retreat, the storm clouds soon spread her canopy of dark grey tentacles and it felt the sky was coming down to meet the land. The chariot of the gods roared swiftly and blazing silver flashes in the dark sky. I thought I saw firmaments in the sky. The earth seemed to shudder and I stood by the well.

Then she arrived in grandeur. Pouring down in torrents quenching the flora and she hit the earth as succor to the soil, dry and parched by the relentless glare of the summer sun. It was April 7 th 1973. The summer rains had arrived. I soaked in her. I longed to melt in her, awash!

Why do I remember that day and the morning after? I do not know. The summer rains, how she arrived and squelched the earth, engulfing all life in her munificence and beauty. And then, the day after- morning when I woke up and walked about outside the house and on to the road still drenched and cold after the rains the evening before- breached branches of trees, debris of broken twigs and tree leaves littered; pebbles and sand carried by the torrents  and strewn on the road; bright red and chaste white hibiscus flowers bowed by the beating of the summer storm albeit still with splendour and  beauty, washed by the rains and carrying droplets of water, peeped over the compound walls and fences of houses on either sides of the road; Kanikonna (Cassia fistula), was in full bloom , being April and nearer to Vishu- they looked bright lapped by the rains and their  yellow gloss prettier in the warm soothing rays of the rising sun. The bougainvillea, kanikonna (Cassia fistula) and the cluster of jasmine flowers were strewn around on the wet earth by the gate in front of the house; their tiny petals still sparkling with droplets of rain water.  They seemed to paint a picture abstract and beautiful, red-pink ,yellow and white. The sunflowers endured the beating in the rain but they invested their majesty and stood beckoning the morning sun. As it was my habit of checking by the fish tank every morning soon after I was out of bed, I went to it. The water was almost spilling over, and was crystal clear. I felt my finger the index and the middle into the glazing water and I tinked in the coldness that grabbed them. The fishes- the Gold, the Angels, the Black-ies and the Sword tails all were in ecstatic play.


By then the sun was up and the warm rays fell upon the earth, through the trees and it brought forth a feeling of blessedness.

The majestic jack fruit tree which stood at the front left corner of the compound was gleaming. Its foliage of dark green leaves looked pristine, fresh and brilliant. The jack fruits that donned along its trunk through the year were resplendent greenish yellow and beamed, tanned by the storm. The huge mango tree was imposing and sweet little yellowish mangoes had fallen down in the wind and rain waiting to be picked up. I looked over the well and saw the water level was only a couple of feet below the brim. The ferns sprouting luxuriously on the walls of the well had driblets of storm water and looked vivid green. The squirrels were scurrying along the trees and squeaking, tails standing up; the sparrows and mynas were intensely devouring the seemingly unending carcass of May- flies that were washed out in the rain.


The feast was splendid, the ambience electric and the wait worth. I inhaled a very deep lungful of air. There was a lyrical quality about the air that morning. I felt I was reborn.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Malarkey



It is not true that one can create an illusion of humility; the membrane is so thin that the world will see through the facade  It is not possible to divorce us from what we voice and write. They are our selves-good or bad, acceptable or outrageous, humorous or livid.

In times gone by when I was young, avenues to see one’s thoughts in print was  rare and success- an achievement as scaling the Everest, possible only to the very few who succeed after relentlessly posting in the mail the works they pen- essays short stories, poems ,so on and so forth to publishing houses, newspapers and periodicals. In fact there were no boulevards that one could trod through to air one’s thoughts. The virtual age has revolutionised all that. And it will be sheer untruth to claim that what we write on our blog, be it as a post or comment is not us speaking, our psyche, our experience and they are only pertaining to aliens or we speak for the reader. Else one must admit that one is a common hypocrite who wants to influence and sway people with clich├ęs like “awe”, “awesome” etc.

An ode to melancholy cannot be penned in an elated state. One has to be feeling sad to write about being sad. Can I say that my poem, my essay are not my thoughts but of my neighbour? It is only when one empathises with the misfortunes of the neighbour or when one is consumed by one’s own misfortunes does the ode to melancholy bears. A man like Mukesh Ambani sitting in the ugliest mansion ever built to desecrate the Mumbai skyline cannot possibly pen or be enchanted by the lines of William Wordsworth
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

I’m not an afficando of poetry but I understood that the language of John Keats lines
'Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
 In some untrodden region of my mind'
can be linked to his love letters to Fanny Brawne.

Keats penned one of his famous five odes , “Ode to a Nightingale”, one spring. He felt immense tranquility and happiness in the song of the little bird that nested near his house. He went out sat beneath the tree for hours and thence was born one of the most beautiful odes. What other state of mind other than sheer joy and tranquility can provoke such a creation? A paranoid mind cannot hear nor see the nightingale.

Take these lines of P.B.Shelly:
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
 My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
 Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!'

The poet evinces his aching for rebirth and resurrection. He wants to be as 'timeless, fleeting and lofty' as the West Wind, for he suffers endlessly. The intense emotional distress of the unforgiving life makes him bleed-the life experiences ('I fall upon the thorns of life') and longs to put an end to the agony. I do not think that Shelly would have felt offended or ashamed at this dissection of his verses.

Can one say that the lines were all in humour and jest? There is always our pale self in our words and writings even if we consciously want to camouflage or deny that. One need not be a Maugham or a James Joyce, but life’s experience is in our words and writings.

 Hemmingway’s candid painting of life as seen and experienced by him created the unique literature that give us immense pleasure. Hemmingway’s life and his writings are entwined and are mirror images. “Death in the afternoon”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” both vivid narration of his love- bullfighting and his experience in the Spanish Civil war, then “The Old Man and The Sea” are undeniable exposition of human relationships, emotions, love, agony, lust and disappointment. Imagine Papa Hemmingway creating “Snows of Kilimanjaro or the Green Hills of Africa if he were a reticent and incipient arm chair explorer? The throbbing emotions packed in the “Snows of Kilimanjaro” would certainly have touched Hemmingway as an experience felt or seen in some ways.

It is life that make a writer or a poet, Mark Twain,Hemmingway or the Bloggers like us and there is no infamy in not being timid and to accept that our words in letters are our life- humour, jest, agony, joy or stoicism.The opposite is sheer malarkey.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Legacy of Agony



Over the past few days two incidents happened in places distance apart. One, the tragic death of a young woman in far off Ireland and  the other, a timed out death of a volatile virulent man in Mumbai, India. Both the incidents, one a terrible tragedy triggered by religious dogma and the other the due process of a natural law that does not even discriminate tigers!

To tell my personal opinion, the sad story of the young woman in Dublin, Ireland, who was discarded to bleed and die an agonising death after being denied medical intervention to save her life during the miscarriage of her pregnancy and that too in a society and country that is seen as economically advanced and modern is quite distressing. Distressing and macabre because the premises the medical facility based its refusal to terminate the miscarrying pregnancy was on the didactic interpretation of a religious code that says man has no right to take away what God has given-”life”.

The Vatican Council holds the declaration, "Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes”. I went through much of Wikipedia and some sites that have posted Christian doctrines, but could not see any reference to Jesus Christ touching upon the subject of abortion. However, I notice that though the Bible gives direct guidance on many topics, but not on abortion. In fact the Roman laws in force during the time of Jesus did permit abortion and abortion was practiced from the times of early human history.

I do not intend to pour scorn on a moral code of catechism or asperse the faithful practicing catechism. But if laws are made to better life then they must be interpreted in spirit and not in a bigoted and outlandish way as the doctors in Dublin did. That was criminal and wanton negligence which will only defile the faith if faith is used as an apron to hide. The bane of scriptures is that the moral exhortations they give are all entwined in jargon and euphemisms, often liable to be interpreted by mortals whichever way to suit them. More often the self-acclaimed custodians of religions and zealots state their versions of a code to thoroughly ensure that the flock stay pliable and unfortunately gullibility is not in dearth. This  may be graver in the present day Muslim world.

The last knell orchestrated by the bigotry in Dublin was the outrageous statement of the Irish Government that they would provide all means for the widowed young man to rebuild his life. What would they do? Provide him with an Irish bride?

“Good riddance to bad rubbish”, was the general expression when told about the passing away of the self-proclaimed custodian of Hindu bigotry and Marathi manoos, Marthi asmita. A person who idolised Adolf Hitler and when asked by the Time Magazine soon after the Barbari Masjid demolition for his comments, infamously said, “kick em out”( meaning the Muslims of India).A person who seldom traveled outside Maharashtra just twice in the past forty years was certainly living in a well. To him perhaps the world was his carefully manipulated and cultivated frenzied following like the GM crop! He ran the State as if it were his fiefdom, his heirloom.  And the rest of the country and the world hardly existed or even mattered.
He was a man who exhorted Hindus to organise suicide death squads and hit back like the Islamic fanatics. Perhaps as a token of goodwill and willingness to sacrifice, as to ensure that charity and philanthropy starts at home and within the household he should have asked his son and nephew to lead the death squads to begin with. But like all such operators he ensured his safety and his family’s safety by assembling and expending the gullible and frenzied foot soldiers of the Sena.

He said after the demise of his wife, that he ceased to believe in God and even dislikes his favourite one of the pantheon Vinayaka, as even this God did not do enough to save his wife. What can one define this thought process- imbecile, demented, ridiculous?

Professional jealousy and rivalry is understandable. Infamously the professional jealousy of the late thespian M.R.Radha provoked him to shoot the late icon M.G.R. But this Sena supremo’s ire was towards the three Khans in Bollywood. He alleged that the Bollywood was being increasingly controlled by Muslim actors and he unleashed his Sena goons on theaters screening movies of SRK. The harrowing time people from South of India lived through in the Bombay of the late sixties and seventies will also be recollected by the Biharis and Northerners. He was a direct threat to the concept of the Union.

It is does not require maverick capability nor is it an achievement to harness and unleash anarchy and unlawful elements on the society and the commoner. Money and power can see to it. To subjugate and enslave by fear and terror is not supreme achievement and iconic. And this was exactly what the Sena Supremo did. He was no Mandela, no Gandhi, no Martin Luther King and no Mother Teresa who all could sway and enslave people not by terror but something apart and distanced that the late don and his ilk will not have known and will understand.

The bane is that bigotry and myopia are growing virulently amongst us sans religion, faith and race. If not, the tragedy in Dublin would be only a nightmare nor would a fanatic in Mumbai been a fact of our times for almost five decades. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Tale Of The Fallen Apple



His idiosyncrasies are not absolutely among the kind one can put up with. They are rather insipid and quite frivolous. They are often bore and also annoying. But what the heck, he has a diploma degree in mechanical engineering, which he is quite proud of. It is true that education perse and as it is imparted today would have no bearing on one’s character and behavioral attributes. Erudition is not a panacea and a carte blanche certificate for ills in the personality either. But somewhere they do blend and can have tremendous influence on one’s personality conduct and words. It multiplies and enhances the aura when the company one keeps from the formative period in life is not trivial.

The blissful thing about him is that he is oblivious to the faux pas  he brings about by his conduct and words. They are not offensive but annoying-something I sometimes wish I could do without. No malice meant but yet he can haul you over the barbed wire.

He does not acknowledge or may be not aware of his limitations. He would go to the White House and ask the President why his mansion is not painted white but yet he dares to call it the White House. I often felt it was a bit of audacity and over confidence out of ignorance that drives him. I shudder to think of his claims to the education he had. No spite meant.

His spoken  English is awful, but once he even boasted to his General Manager that no one can draft a communicative message in English as he can. His impudence once prompted the C.E.O, to observe that he was rather rude and has no reverence to him even. I always felt that it was not arrogance that made him comment and behave as he often does, but perhaps ignorance of etiquette or a way of eclipsing an inferior complex. But he always did a commendable conclusion to the jobs that were entrusted to him. That perhaps makes him the lieutenant of the C.E.O.

It was an occasion when we were at an official dinner and was in his brassy oratory self .I was seated next to him and he picked up conversation with a couple of ladies. I do not remember how the conversation began and how it progressed to the stage when the women almost dropped the glasses they were holding and I quivered a bit. I cowered because the women knew that he was in my company! But our presumptuous friend was in no mood to notice our gape and that of the quite a few heads that turned towards our table.

As I mentioned, I cannot remember the thread from where and how the conversation or call it monologue began. However he reached the stage where he wanted to use an assertive allegory. He said,“It is like the principle of why things fall down and how that was first found out. It was a scientist called Einstein who first found that out. One day he was seated on a bench in his garden and an apple fell down from the nearby tree. Einstein saw that and wondered why it fell down to earth. Have you folks heard about this story before?”


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mystic- Mystery



“Who am I ? Ask yourself.” She exhorted. “Are you the flesh and blood that you are now or are you the mind that is in you?” I did not see it even a shred necessary or imperative to fret and send my brain on a hunt seeking answer to this monumental ask. She continued her monologue at the group that we were, about a score of virtually bewildered people. Bewildered more because of the strange introspection the petite French lass with shaven head and in white kurta pyjama implored us to engage. We were all seated on the forest floor and in the opening strewn with dried leaves and a perfect canopy lend by huge trees to shade us from the noon sun.

The group was confounded and that enhanced their pleasure in a strange way. It happens when you are dumb struck with jargon and entwined sentences and meanings that are the arsenal of God men and women. Your bewilderment is fanned by virtual curiosity and hope of something about to break open as revelation. A fool’s paradise where ignorance is bliss and more mystifying more the bliss.

She continued her monologue in accented English. She spoke about SreeKrishna and dwelled on his alleged sorcery  She soon turned to lecture on a verse from the Gita and began to decipher for us its intricate meaning. It was amusing to think what depth of knowledge would life and experience besides the five years she spent in the congregation render this young woman in her twenties to indulge in the audacity of lecturing on Indian and oriental philosophy. It was a different coin when it was her master-her guru in the ashram. The guy had such powerful and haunting eyes that can only be surpassed by the pair of eyes of the late Rajneesh. He was tanned and brown complexioned. The turban on his head addressed the probable baldness. But the flowing white beard and whiskers added to the captivating gaze.

I was to live with the congregation inside the sprawling but Spartan ashram for three days as a participant in what was termed as engineering of the inner self. I was pulled in there by a distant acquaintance and had to shell out fifteen thousand Rupees as participant fee in the sessions and the chance to correct my inner self. (sic) To be fair the food was strict vegetarian but was heavenly in taste and richness. The ashram was at the foothills of the Western Ghats and was well designed. The guru or master as many called him was a Shivaite but I did not sense any bigotry or an iota of religious tone in his lectures. His discourses were matter of fact, thought provoking and distanced from conventional beliefs and had a syncretism that was encouraging. He was a master of yoga. I could hear and see inmates up well before daybreak and engage in asanas.
The first evening after dinner, I and my acquaintance went exploring the periphery of the ashram. We were warned to not wander far out as the periphery was frequented by wild animals. The surroundings with the mountains silhouetting in the late moon rise was fascinating and awe. At about five early in the morning, I was waked up by the live beat of traditional drums, cymbal and evoking flute. It was the ashram’s way of wake up call or alarm. It was a beautiful way of saying the day was about to dawn.

Some days after I was at the ashram I happened to meet a friend who was living in the city for a few decades and with whom I chanced to discuss about this ashram, its founder guru and inmates. His reaction was bordering derision. He said it was fine with just yoga but matters generally don’t end with that. “Ha that fellow, the Guru was roaming around this town a few decades back on a Java motor cycle. I knew him personally. One day he went missing and when the Rip van Winkle came back he was a master, a guru. He has a penchant for the good things in life; you know what I mean and the euphemism. There are a lot of innuendos about his abode and himself. He is a jet setting fellow and has high influence and contacts. Just leave things as it is and do not get entangled in the web they weave”. He said. The conspicuous part was he mentioned the man in the first person and used his name that was from his motor cycling days.

The captivating thing about the three days sojourn in the cloister was I was virtually levitating for a few days after. The amazing hypnotic effect of the man and his words will ensnare one in a trance, until the power of the opium and his aura ebbed away in the incessant pounding of matters of life outside.
I noticed that his eyes were hauntingly transfixed sometimes. I observed that he has the orgasmic look in his eyes and that is especially directed to women. The companion who was with me was ploughed under by his gaze. And I sensed that she was beguiled by him. She was wealthy and he has a knack for wealthy elegant women.
She chose to let the enchantment get better of her and began to frequent the ashram. She was obsessed. She wrote off a fat cheque for the ashram and that was not endearing to her family. She even went on a journey with the monk and his caravan of followers to the Kailas -Manasarovar in the Himalayas through the luxury route via Tibet. When matters began to threateningly move towards her getting embroiled with the ashram and when she was almost decided to write off her wealth to the Guru and perhaps spend her remaining life in the congregation, her people hit the panic button. I’m not privy to what transpired after, within her domestic confines. But her honeymoon with the ashram that was menacingly obvious waned at the combined onslaught from within her family. It is a guess what panicked them- her obsession or her apparent plan for largesse.

It will be unfair however to not  to accept the vast knowledge the monk seemed to have and his candid aversion to the traditional religious order and self appointed holy men.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Audacity of Youth



The audacity of times youthful has seldom a parallel. The gift of youth is to rejoice in youthfulness. I may have had my share of impudence in my youth. Now when I see it in my kids and in the ones their age (children of friends and relatives), I feel bewilderment, some consternation and steadfastly cling on to hope. Hope in their future.

The audacity often is in the form of seemingly arrogant retorts. This happens both from the boy and the girl, though the fellow is more subtle and careful in his reaction whilst the femme terrible is very matter of fact. I wonder if this is the case with their peers’ elsewhere. At least I wish so for my comfort.
I do not know if they have any fear of the morrow. Can one be obstinately sure of oneself? Why do not they have a plan B should there has to be a detour. I did not have a plan B for my life, in the first place I was vacuous to not plan at all. But that is not even in the least a consolation.
The fellow states in as many words that he has to be let free till the year winds out and he has to think, explore and know matters besides going places before he can with passion and singular purpose pursue his line of activity. And to cement his statement he signs off by reminding that nobody shall harbour the fantasy that he is pliable to others wishes. I feel helpless more out of this audacity than fear.

Light heart banter is more often pursued with the girl though her tongue in cheek retorts usually harnesses me. More because of her emboldened comments compared to the reticent nature of the fellow.
Surprisingly to me when I compare after delving into my past the kids of this generation are sure of their footing and fear less of the future. Vicissitudes are not in their lexicon, not yet!

I often remind A, the boy (a man now) to avoid by all means riding a two wheeler without protective head gear whether he is a motorist or a pillion. The advice which in fact is a pleading was generally laughed away by him with a comment that I’m too queasy. Last week K, his friend confessed on his Facebook wall that thanks to the helmet he wore , he could save his face from distortion , though his arm ached badly after bruising from the fall from his motor cycle that morning. K went further that he learned a lesson that day and was an experience. I could only sigh relief and say, “thankfully not an expensive lesson!" That night A, was travelling to his friend in Kozhikode, where he would certainly be going around on a two wheeler, I implored him with the experience of K, he did not pass his usual comment but sounded pensive and understanding.

Sometimes one wonders if there is an overdose of apprehension as a parent. Certainly it is not the best and enviable job one has to tackle in a phase.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge



It was in 1977-78, I guess that the University of Kerala conducted a film festival at the Tagore Theater in Thpuram.  Those were the days when the Hollywood genre held sway over young like I and in equal competitive measure with the Amitabh Bachan flicks. But there was much de ja vu about the retrospective that the University Students core was organizing.

There were a few Hollywood classics like the “Roman Holidays” and the marvels of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. But mostly the festival was of films that were till then unheard of-films from the Eastern Europe, besides classics of French directors. The one that stood out in memory all these years is a poignant film in black and white , that in fact help germinate a dislike and abhorrence to the  punitive punishment with death. Later the same film was screened by the Surya film society in their festivals.
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, was a French film from the early sixties. It was adapted from the short story of by Ambrose Bierece. Set in the times during the American Civil war, the film captures the lust of human mind for life.
A Civil war prisoner, a civilian and an alleged spy is to be hanged at the Owl Creek Bridge.

It recounts the illusion the poor man has as he precariously stood on the edge of the bridge with the noose around his neck. He is to be dropped down from the bridge. The rope breaks as he is dropped down and he finds himself breathless and struggling in the icy waters down. 

He senses a superhuman strength as he breaks free from the rope that bound his hands and legs. He swims fast and gets carried downstream by the swift current. The soldiers fire at him when they sense that he broke free. Evading capture he is washed on the bank downstream from where he takes to heels running frantically towards his home. The wild, fatigued and desperate run is through the woods and thickets. He is drained and his feet are with blisters. His clothes torn and tattered, wearied he reaches his home desperately wanting to see his wife and child. As he sees his wife walk towards him with smile, surprise and open arms, he runs towards her. As he is about to take her in his arms he senses a pang...... .The shot we see then is the cut to the incident at the Owl Creek Bridge......

 His great escape was .......
I saw this film again yesterday, from Torrent. Perhaps you would like to watch this short film (of about 15 minutes) in the link here The print is not good but the poignancy of the shots is never fading.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wax




It is one thing to pat oneself on the back and proclaim that one is a pontiff of sorts; one is on a greater moral and ethical plateau than the ordinary denizens and even one’s spouse, children and friends. But it is a different matter to be humble to not proclaim oneself as the infallible, moralist hero. The pleasure one may sense by this sententious being and when patting on the back is narcosis and the state, narcissism-more so when an image of the wronged is created. This is not a liability found in the elite of the society or the celebrities who are caught with their trousers down, with foot in their mouth; it is also seen much amongst us ordinary souls.

Cheating on oneself is more dissolute than cheating on your spouse or the world itself. I do not know what would be for instance in the mind of Louis Armstrong now. Reading his autobiography, “It is not about Cycling”, I was impressed by the raw courage and perseverance he displayed from a terminally sick stage and come back into the world to inspire awe by winning the most grueling physically exerting sport, the “Tour de France”. I’m sure he would have felt empty within even when he proclaimed that he was wronged and unfairly handled or even when he wore the Yellow jersey of the winner of the tour seven times.
But Armstrong just happens to be another human being who perhaps led himself to be deluded. This deluding happens every day amongst many.

But I think not about deception perse as seen in the case of, say a Tiger Woods or an Armstrong. It is about the character we generally display to the world, the image that we create for public consumption and with some, for comfort of hallucination. What I’m, is best told by my spouse and my children. Mothers may be prejudiced in favour of their child. But I guess the wife/husband or the children may be forthcoming and candid. So what we are is best known from our spouse and kids. This is especially true in case of folks who claim a higher ground for themselves in character, outlook even in mundane or seemingly trivial matters. A person who champions in public the cause of women’s emancipation and equal treatment may be the most cantankerous and quibbling man at home. A man or woman who exhibits the air of a perfect partner may be the artist of malarkey and ruse back home. These fantastic revelations are closed circuited inside the walls of the house and privy to the spouse and the kids only. Some of them can be even misogynist.

I have known a close relative whose promiscuity was deftly covered up by his spouse all the while when she was alive. But it was shockingly made aware to me after her death, his profane indulgence with women and his disregard for his conduct being known to his teen aged daughters. When she was alive he used to assault his wife provoked by his temper and the matter seldom seeped through the walls of the house. He retired from a powerful position with a multi- national company. He was seen and known as a disciplinarian, a gentleman, an unfortunate bereaved, loving husband and affectionate father!

There are some who thrive by blaming the spouse, usually the wife. The image they create to the outer world is that of the gentleman, the tolerant and loving husband, a person who has much forbearance and patience with his spouse. It is a revelation that is opposite that we get to see if the wife chose to talk. Such people are always enjoying the image of the wronged.

It is true that we can find specimen in all matters in the society we live. This person a woman was a termagant - cantankerous and emotionally debilitating in attitude and conduct towards her husband that he was driven into alcoholism. His was not a case of silly excuses and self-justification to hit the bottle. He chose to drown himself in the trickery that inebriation and over dose of alcohol provides. Well his wife was in fact an image of friendliness and the wronged.

Why do I say so much? Because it is mentally comforting to have the image of what you are, of what your spouse or children would define you as.When you know you are a semi-outlaw and a fallible, an ordinary mortal who will stumble,who is not above infractions but moves on, rather than a contrived wax image of moralist and the wronged.