Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Brothers of Karmazova

"The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for him and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract him without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, ……., all from continual lying to other men and to himself."

How perfect a summing up are these lines of Foyodr Dostoevsky!

He ceased to love and all that he showcased as love and affection were charade. His cunning and glory facade was magnified in the form of excessive display of devotion (sic) to his God. And since he began to be delighted in lies, he lost his power to distinguish between falsehood and facts:  he believed and regaled in falsehood and knavish. Thence he lost his touch with his creator. For he lied to him too and bated no eyelid, he believed that his lies were the truth! Truth, he wanted to see and for others to believe.

“What is done is done”, she would fume and no blandishments meant for her husband unlike Lady Macbeth. She would continue, “...and what has to be done must be done, I do not care if it is your mother, sisters, brother or friends”. However to accuse her of the lone source of wickedness and malfeasance would be quite unfair .It must be understood that the two were uniquely created for the other and in fact their self-serving smugness and vile compliments each other.

When serendipity smiles, she hugs. And when it hugged him it was a bear hug. It suffocated him with manna and enkindled the selfishness and arrogance dormant in him.

They were two, he and his brother. Born into a very modest and ordinary family in the pleasant climes of a mountain village, their childhood was lively as that of any other kids reared in the remote quietness of the hills. Until they were in their early teens they had no clue or idea about a world and lands over the hills. The farthest they traveled was the eight kilometers on the serpentine road criss- crossing the Tea and Coffee plantations to the nearest semblance of what was a village. The rickety old ramshackle wooden and tin sheet contraption that they called, “the bus” ran on a rundown Fargo engine scraped by the British military after the Second Great War. The schedule of the bus from the gate of the Church of “The Immaculate Virgin”, a couple of hundred yards from their house to the distant village was a certainty as uncertainty can be. And she plied the distance like a lame tortoise. But nevertheless the bus and the journey in it were akin to a supersonic travel for the brothers.

Old man Karamazov was a good man and he respected his God more than what others did- fear. He toiled hard earnestly and with heart and soul to bring bread and burn the wick at home. He had immense faith in his creator and reared the eight children he had. It will be unfair to discount the hand his wife lend and served him in rearing the kids and keeping their home a little garden of Eden.
In such atmosphere there was bound to be love, affection, gaiety and the struggles are soothed out forgotten and consigned out. Though the fact was that, individual fault lines in the character of the kids refused to be submerged. They did often latently raise their heads. But the gentle Mr Karamazov came down heavily when recalcitrance was noticed.

It was after their few teen years spent aimlessly in the lotus eating wilderness of the hills did Mr.Karmazov decide to send them to a faraway city into the guardianship of their Godfather. The brothers enjoyed the new world. The young Karamazov was wily and a salesman in flesh, blood and breath. A man who could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo and still have him feel he bought a warmer. He could easily grab a small job in a company and his artful ways and countenance gave him fair speed of rise in the organization. The eldest of the Karamazov brothers though, was content to be in the shadow of his kid brother and be happy with the little blessings that came his way because of the later. Life was fair and splendid! The Karamazov brothers dutifully send regular money through post to their old man back home. In later years one may have to notice this as a strange aberration in their character especially of the youngest. They were noticeably very sensible and a dutiful duo though the young Karamazov was colourful and rather flamboyant in style. His brother though was quiet, preferring to lie low and enjoy the pleasures of the world.

Avarice was the lecherous maiden that slept with the younger Karamazov. And his acts of felony was unearthed by the company sleuths who were watching his rather extravagant life and they caught him hands on , confronted him and threw him out ignominiously from the job. With the corner stone gone the eldest of the Karamazov brothers was infirm and like a helpless duck caught in the middle of a busy motor way.
Lady luck smiled on the brothers in unexpected and enviable form. It would take a few quires of paper to narrate their rise up the social hierarchy and for the young Karamazov it was phoenix like and of great pride. The lifeline he got was like avenging the ignominy and ill-luck that put him down for quite a while

When the younger Karamazov spake the rest of the clan trembled and they trembled convulsively from fear when his lady spake. Such was the power of wealth that was in their control. He began to expressively use others as means to his desired end. One day he banged his fist with such furiousness and ferocity on the dinner table during a family dinner to observe old man Karamazov’s death anniversary that the whole group of his clan trembled and shriveled. Such was the force of his fist coming down on the wooden table, glasses and plates flew scattered. He said “This is my money, my wealth. It is I and my wife who decide who eats from our plate”. He turned to the old woman and gesticulated with terrific eyes and yelled derisively, “if you want to go back to the house  in that god forsaken hills and into that den plastered with clay and cow dung you can and take with you who among the people here who disagree with me. Here, I’m the lord”, and pointing towards his wife he continued, “beware she will decide who is welcome and who is not. She is the mistress here”. There was appalling terror and hate in his face. As one among who was then, there, sitting perched miserably in a chair nearby saw as she later recollected, “I saw the devil in his face, the devil, Lucifer himself!”

The elder of the Karamazov brothers was as he always was, content with the second fiddle and he preferred the crumbs from his kid brother rather than show the courage and moral fortitude to stand up to him and his ruthless, overly ambitious and pathetic wife. He feigned deafness to all the shenanigans of the duo and there, at the table on that day, he slipped out to smoke his cigars. An artful escapist and self-seeker! He had the right to remain silent but lacked the moral courage not to be silent.
 He surely will have died many a time while he lives.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Men of Such Kind.

“I’m afraid you are a prisoner in your own fort.” I could not get more candid than this and that too when he was the chief. He stared bewildered into my eyes and I knew that what I said sunk in and he was jolted more by, may be my audacity to make that statement without mincing many words. I saw, it was touché! I tried to lessen the impact of the hammer and hastened to add, “I regret having to be as blunt as I was, but the fact is that you are having in your domain two of the most fiendish persons there can be. They are like the Rasputin and the Russian queen and have grown uninhibited that now they see you as trivial, irritating and an expendable joke”.  

After momentary reality of dismay, he soon began protesting in his usual overblown self that he still is the lord what he surveys. Often, his arguments were asinine and expressed defiantly, loaded with arrogance and misplaced pride. The fact as I could see was that his bêtise may see him fall and lay like Ozymandias pretty soon. I was not alone in concluding so. People in the organization even spoke of a re-enact of the horror of the Ides- of- March. They said in unanimity that, his conceit was sure to accompany him even into the grave. Alas, some men are destined to not foresee where their own self will eventually take themselves to!
I have not seen another who was a vacillator than he is. His vacillations were out of fear of the man who grew ominously influential and big under his tutelage. It was akin to a parasite growing larger than the host. His protégé- Anthrax Romin the Greek!

The intrigues, chicanery and maliciousness he condoned and saw as means to greater gains were orchestrated and conducted by Anthrax. Apparently in even time he grew into an albatross and an indispensable part and that if threatened in anyway can pull with him the whole fabric. He was privy to many shady matters and by the fact, held a total asphyxiating control over even his mentor’s life and business enterprise.

When it was about the hag, it has been an open speculation about her power over this fellow Anthrax. Though observations by people may be dismissed as sleazy gossips and innuendos, there was much substance to the probability that she was his concubine or mistress and they were in cahoots with bigger plans that would eclipse the psyche of Shylock. For a characterless harlot to travel with ease from the status of a kennel-keeper and a relegated house maid into a force that has to be reckoned in the hierarchy of the organization and feared would certainly have more than smooth transition that was natural. She exerted immense influence on the protégé. And he, true to his name after the scourge, he can be as villainous as the disease itself. And together they combined to be a force that was reprobate and grossly dangerous.

Once, the Big-man asserted that Anthrax is a “dirty bastard”. I did not respond to the statement as I have known often that he will pamper him and go all over the fellow like a child or a poodle when he sees him and he has not the courage to confront him with such statement. His position as the boss and the lord of the empire he runs, fails to aid him with character and grit to antagonize or ruffle him. He was easily pliable, Anthrax and his accomplice, the woman could do it with their little fingers. It was strange to us more because Anthrax’s shenanigans was more than often compromising the big man and putting in peril the survival of what perhaps his children should be left or bequeathed one day.

Some others have often approached the big- fellow and failed to prevail upon him to untangle himself from the snares of Anthrax. The big man saw him as his “Man Friday”! He refused to heed others when they told him, “He is the reason for the state of affairs. He always has and will continue to derail the organization. In fact he lights the fire and cries out hastening you to run and put it out, in the mean while he‘d have lit another fire. He survives by ensuring you do not at any moment feel that he is dispensable. Look back, what has he brought about since associating with you as a young fellow returned from overseas? Nothing but choking problems and trying situations!”
One day he began in a casual conversation with me to paean him. I listened withholding my annoyance and was later pilloried by others for letting him shower praise on his protégé and continue with his delusions.
The book of living, if written may highlight the importance of one’s ways, path and the people who we keep within our perimeter. For, both can leave indelible bearing upon us and our fate. And this man seemed to be weighed down by his conduct and the company he keeps.

He once told me to my utter disgust when I mentioned some matter thus, “it is a big problem to be left unattended…” He held me literally pulling my shoulder and stated, “There is nothing called big problem in life. Even if your kid dies in a motor crash or what ever, it is only a problem and nothing more.”                                                       

"You see”, he, at another time told me; “I work and keep this wealth for my satisfaction”.I did not want to let him be satisfied with his mean-spiritedness and arrogance. “But Sir, we earn and keep aside wealth or things for our dependents- our kids, our spouse and what we call our family. I would want to do that and so will many others”.                                                                                                                                                              “I’m not foolish to hitch my happiness to my kids and wife, or am I prepared to accept that I earn for them. You know something, if I die today, the only thing they would do is to grab my wealth.” It was quite nauseating and I said to myself, “you make me sick and utterly repelled. I harbour no pity for you, you pathetic fellow”.
I felt his eyes read me and was certain, almost certain that he read my thoughts. He dismissed me with the wave of his palm and his customary fussy and eccentric disposition.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Amour, as the word “love” in English has connotations with subtle difference and feel. Some words even defy transliteration and are unique in its meaning, spirit, tone and the evocative passion they convey. Though I’m not capable of critiquing a film except as a lay person, I felt empathy and warmth while also failing to find the “le mot juste” for the affection, concern, the impassioned silence the film reflected in the relationship between the aged couple.

The film flew back to my mind when a casual conversation with another threw open the genuine fear and apprehension that can stalk in old age or in midstream if one is incapacitated. I wonder if someone can be fearless and an optimist in  face of  the perils that are hand in glove with old age.

He had a blissful marital life for many years. The tempests that oft startle couples from the slumber and casual moorings that threaten to corrode marriage and to fade out as storms in a tea cup was not strange to him. But he says there was no love lost.

He was a future trader of petroleum and churned dollars with every snap of his fingers. He lost some and often heavily too. He reveled in this gamble and while success serenaded and tangoed with him, he delighted himself. Though, it mattered the least to him he was beheld by many with envy and also as the cynosure. A happy man with an envious family and wealthy too! However the crash a few years ago saw him sucked into the whirlpool and when he surfaced with desperation he saw that the castles he built were washed away in the deluge. It was devastation.

“Yes it was fearsome, but was not as devastating as perhaps the possibility of losing one’s …….” he paused and continued,” A lonely winter of life is frightening.  What would one cherish most, the loving presence of your wife, the affection of your kids or the glitz and relationships that wealth brings? Relationships are, I’m afraid, my friend like swallows in high summer. They fly to distant safe lands when the frost set in and gloomy days loom.” He did not wait for my opinion; he walked out of the room and was gone.

I was spontaneously overwhelmed by the humaneness of the film I saw the day before, “Amour”. I did not need more insight into his story to unravel what he alluded.

The central characters, the old octogenarian couple are retired music teachers living a life of intense bond and affection. When the wife is crippled by repeated strokes and is sinking into miserable physical existence the love and bond among them is tested considerably. It is finally his sheer humanness, courage and unflinching love for her, his wife that leads him to smother her with a pillow and end her agony.

My thoughts went after the stranger who spoke to me a little while ago and agonized to guess his destiny when he sails into the winter of his life, solitary, cold and shivering. But, did I see in his eyes a shimmering flame that may keep him going?
"Begging for love can only add on to beggary", his parting words resonated.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Match Making

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match…
…….Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Plan me no plans
I'm in no rush
Maybe I've learned
Playing with matches
A girl can get burned
Bring me no ring
Groom me no groom
Find me no find
Catch me no catch
Unless he's a matchless match.”

“Tradition”, the word describes what has stood the flow of time and the test of generations. I guess one would understand what I refer to. Indeed the institution called marriage and in Indianised Anglican phrase-“arranged marriage”. Call it match making too!

Though I may be seen as a votary of anti-match making because I was recalcitrant and did not heed to the traditional way of match making when it mattered to me personally. I do endorse the values and the meticulous processes that lead up to an eventual betrothal. For, one cannot deny the fact that wedlock is not merely an affair between the groom and the bride, man and woman but it is essentially a liaison between families. This is where family values, integrity, and respectability come to play and lack of it is fraught with unpleasantness that is sure to visit at a much later date well after marriage. I emphasise this to my kids and I do not know if someone can convince me to the contrary.

I was instrumental in the initial discussions that preluded a couple of wedlock and, now, an impending one.
I was shockingly fascinated when I realised recently a gaffe, some twenty and eight years ago when I discussed briefly with my then brother-in –law to be, the proposal for my sister’s hand in marriage. His parents took over the formal matters after my meeting with him. But I realize now, and after all these many years that I (we) may not have asked my sister whether she approved of the match making. Wasn’t it quite impertinent to presume? It is too late to ask her now! Perhaps I must remind him now the gaffe. Sure it is humorous to think about.

A match making that later proved to be a toss-up between spite and or the facilitation of relationship between two mutually malefic couple, took place some twenty two years ago. I was by virtue of marriage related to the man. His parents assigned me as the only male member worthy of initiating discussion with the prospective bride and family. I took up the matter and had to persuade him to accept her proposal as he was quite nervy about his parent’s opinion about the bride and her family. I had to usher a quality that was nonexistent in me-“persuasion” and it worked. I now may be persona non grata in their social list and, as for me, I do appreciate to be distanced from them is an ironical matter.

It will be amusing if I mention now to my brother-in-law, my forgetfulness in not asking his wife (my sister) if she agreed for the match making. Because now, I just concluded the ground work or call it research about the groom for their daughter (my niece).I flew to Abu Dhabhi to meet and chat with the boy before endorsing him from my side to be-“the suitable boy”.
Now, did I remember to ask the girl if she approves of this match making.

                                "....  Find me no find
                                Catch me no catch
                                Unless he's a matchless match.”