Saturday, May 8, 2010

Poems of hope

When I began scribbling in the Blog the first thoughts I aired was on "hope" . And the prehensile hold on hope still somehow eclipses moments of despair.
Two poems that may enliven ones moments of despair.

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my "mind's eye" flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

When’re I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moonbeams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof!

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!

When’re the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Should e'er unhappy love my bosom pain,
From cruel men, or relentless fair;
O let me think it is not quite in vain
To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,
Let me not see our country's honour fade:
O let me see our land retain her soul,
Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom's shade.
From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed
beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

Let me not see the patriot's high bequest,
Great Liberty! How great in plain attire!
With the base purple of a court oppressed,
Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
That fill the skies with silver glittering!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head! 

John Keats ( Hope)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
IN the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
IT matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

....William Ernest Henley (

Friday, May 7, 2010


Will you know the next moment?
The incongruity of life is the uncertainty of the next moment. Because nature may or may not have a design for us and we know not what it is and what it is not .We do not leave in queue and in the order of entry into this world. The other day the TV channels reported that the Mumbai attacker Kasab may not be hanged for a long time as there are about one hundred plus convicts on the death row and the queue system has to be kept. Strange men do not enforce orderliness of the queue in train stations and public places but is zealous to have it on the death row for people awaiting the hang man.

Coming back to the fickleness of life – two bereavements took place in two different families I’m acquainted with. This happened over the past three weeks.
And both incidences were with ample irony.
The first was a middle aged woman in her early fifties. A boisterous person that she was, there was no pittance of clatter and chatter where ever she was around. She had enviable means of living and perhaps was oblivious of the inevitable that can befall from nowhere like deluge from the heavens and wash her away before she could blink. While on a vacation in the Far East with her family she died while she was gulping water off a jug. She went out even before she could blink. Strange indeed the capriciousness of life! The autopsy report noted “asphyxiation”.

The second tragic irony  happened in Atlanta US and I guess officially the boy (he was only 26) is not declared dead but missing. However all probability leads to the presumption that he is gone for ever. His parents might, as long as the corpse is not found, presume and hope that he will return one day. This boy had finished his masters in Engineering and I understand was employed in Atlanta. Last Saturday he went on a picnic and a boat ride on the lake with his companions. On the return leg when they were almost nearing the shore some of them threw themselves into the freezing waters .They all had life vests on. But this guy in exuberance ignored the life vest and plunged into the lake. He surfaced twice and then he was gone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Dream

To talk about dreams is getting into the realm of the games mind plays when awake and when at rest. It is in fact a highly professional and erudite arena of the Freud’s.. But lay beings like most of us do have ample instances of dreams and night mares that kindle the past and sometimes comes from the past to haunt. It raises questions about the morrow- and at times people claim can be a premonition or harbinger of things to come. But I do not know if human mind through dreams is capable of  prophesying the future with accuracy apart from lamenting  our disappointments from the past, and fantasizing our hopes and fears about the future.

Leaving that aside, I had a dream few days ago that was not a twenty- twenty genre; like hit run and out. But a steady one at that and must have stayed in the dream land for quite a while in my sleep at night. Certainly the longest dream I ever had.

It was thirty and more years ago that I last saw him (live).And though thoughts have remained in and out as often it normally is, and have also had quite a handful dreams about him. But they all were brief and like a whiff of air that pass over you.

He came in from no where and got into conversation with me. I knew we were meeting after a long, long time, but did not gather the courage to ask him where he was all the while. He, I remember looked little older than I’m now, but certainly not like what he looked when I saw him last. His hair was not grey but with even mixture of salt and pepper.It was lush and combed back as he used to.And the thick Hitler mush was in place. We walked together a long way. I do not remember where and when the walk took place. But it was fairly long walk and a long talk at that. I noticed that he was taller than I, by may be 4 inches and more. I was up to may be his ear lobe. That would make him 6 feet 4’..I remember being conscious about how tall I stood up to him. He stood broad at the shoulder and age,( I calculated, eighty seven) did not show on him a wee bit. He had the Pananama cigarette pack in his shirt pocket and also a pack of  I presume "kaja beedis" up his shirt sleeves. I do not recall the conversation bit by bit, but I feel that it was substantial and was more surrounding my life. I vividly remember him enquiring about Ara. He sounded quite odd as to why Ara chose Visual communication for his graduation. I told him that the fellow fancies life in the movies .He was not quite approving of that. There was also discussion on R and as to how she is with her studies? I remember him suggesting that she be directed into a profession more conservative. I guess the conversation went into somewhere relating to my profession. And I recall the approval was not so comforting from his part. There was a comment that I have been direction less from the beginning. He enquired if I heeded his advise of daily going through the “Editorial” of The Hindu, with  the Oxford English dictionary  at hand. And if I spent more time batting solitary throwing the tennis ball on the wall and practicing. He reminded me that was what Len Hutton and Don Bradman used to do at home when they were little. There was a sort of anachronistic comment It was  on a topic that was from the past,though in the dream I was very much in the present. He asked me to remind him at 10 pm in the night to switch on the radio as there will be a broadcast of a speech by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. And he is back in India after meeting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Yahya Khan in Lahore.

He told me that he will be staying on here and may not go back to where he was,and would also like to see Mom. I remember walking him to our old house in Vanchiyoor Thiruvanathapuram. I saw him go in through the gate.
 I woke up with slight alarm. That was my father visiting after almost three and one half decades.

My name is Curly

The lines below were penned a few months back, and I sent it to Balan to gather his opinion. I recall him suggesting quite some edits. In fact I even wondered later should I preserve this? In fact this might be a bore to people who might come across and read. But to me it is the best far I think I can go with my limited ability in writing. This is based on real life people and a few unfortunate animals that happened to be in their proximity. I wonder if I have even remotely come close to penning and sketching the actual abysmal depth to which  people can sink. But the Pig even though it was a fact, is also a euphemism and or an allegory and represents affection that has been wounded but still cannot bear to dislike, hate or distance from the demons in angel- wear.

It comes from ones pedigree that one has the guts to acknowledge and be proud of one is an animal- and I have it. There is no insignificance and triviality attached with being an animal. And my father always said the human race may rule us but they cannot plunder our soul; they may enslave us but they cannot rob the freedom of our mind; they may slaughter us for game and food, but they cannot decimate our spirit. And it is animals that enjoy every moment of living. Humans, they fear, they fear death, and fearing death they forget to live. My father was wise to understand this. And this fact of life the fact of the stupid nature of humans was told to me by the wise Owl too.

My father was proud of being a pig. My siblings were six. I had four big sisters and two big brothers. But then there was always an air of melancholy in my parents. I did not fathom not even on the Easter night when my father came to each one of us and hugged .My mother kissed us each a long time before they were led out by the caretaker. She told me in bare whisper .You will have a wonderful life from tomorrow and may not have to smell the sty any more .My father tugged my curled tail , that was his way of shaking hands. He tugs it with warmth and strong, like human shakes hands. He had for the first time tears in his eyes. But I could see he was fighting back. Then they were led out. That was the last I would ever see them .Two distant shots of gunfire did not mean anything to me or my siblings who were half in slumber when my parents bade goodbye. And I slept tucking my head amongst the stack of hay, the sound of merry making and music could be faintly heard in the distance, emanating from the bungalow. That was the last I would see them. It was Easter night!!!!!!!!

I’m a pig. And I say that with pride. Not everyone conform to the state of being pig, and not every one acknowledges being a hog. I want to grunt loud and clear that I’m proud to be Pig. But I cannot, they have tied the nylon cord around my mouth, and my tongue hurts from the puncture from my tooth. I do not know if I will ever be able to grunt, I remembered the premonition and the ill feel in the gut on that morning of Easter Sunday four years ago... That was when she came into the sty along with the farmer and the white man and woman. Her touch made me quiver. And now I know why. The spirits of my fore- fathers were forewarning me of the ominous.

She was boisterous and quoted often from the scriptures on the journey from the farm. She in fact looked to me a strange person to be conforming as she tried to tell through her animated gesticulating conversation. The white man and woman who accompanied her seemed to be awed by her charm. My father often used to tell my mother over dinner the pious and the god fearing do not express and flaunt their love for the creator.
It was a huge limousine. The white man who was tall sat next to the chauffer. And I was placed through the journey on the lap of the woman. We were seated in the rear with the white woman. I could recall her animated monologue which erupted into laughter, and die off and the passengers listened to the magnificent stories the woman spun with amazing ease. When I was picked up from the sty by the woman, she began to talk to me like humans do to their little ones. She held me through my forelegs and dangled me with her out stretched hands like a marionette. The white man said,’ be careful it is still a babe. ‘Oh this so petite’, said the woman ignoring the white mans imploring, and she continued, ‘good lord mother of Christ look at his tail this sweet indeed curled up’. All the while I was literally almost having a bird’s eye view of the sty and the adjacent stables. I was never taken out of the sty by father and mother. The little while since I have been born, I spent in the sty. And used to wait for our parents who used to venture out often. I took a deep breadth when she brought me down and straddled me in her arms. It was dizzy being dangled in the air and my legs almost spreadeagled.They were I could understand talking about me and my sisters. But most of it was gibberish. The woman all the while kept fondling and massaging my coat. She playfully pulled my tail and yelled “hey Thomas I’m going to name him ‘Curly’,Oh oh such a sweet tail, see Thomas how great God is. Didn't I tell you yesterday night that the Lord has promised me an Easter gift...? And here it is oh Christ hallelujah …”

The limousine, from what I could see through the window went through winding roads and probably was speeding through the country side. That was my first day out. It was strange and foreign to me. Since I was born I spent my life in the sty and peeping through the cracks on the wooden door into the stables were fat cows were masticating cud and making mowing sound.

We sped on and the excited anecdotes, stories of philanthropy, of her sacrifice (not renunciation my father used to talk about) went on and on. The woman invoked the scripts and the holy Lord many a time. We were soon moving through a narrow strip of road with heavy undergrowth on either side. Must have been the edge of some forest land by the country side. I did not know a thing about such scenic and quite place, but my later life in the massive estate of the woman told me about such landscapes. The huge limo was too grand and nothing remotely resembling the sty I was born in and lived. A bronze crucifix was hung in the front inside of the car. And I felt the crucified figure on the cross was quite at discomfort perhaps not from the long time on the cross, but from being hung in the car. We were negotiating a bend in the road and a pigeon (the woman referred to as ‘dove’) flew from no where and perched precariously on the hood of the car. It was not quite sure footed there with the car swaying from side to side on that winding road. It flew away just as it came from nowhere. It looked into the inside of the car and I felt it met my eyes for a brief moment. The woman virtually jumped from her seat and let me down with a thud and I scampered back on the seat in shock. She yelled “Thomas   that is the Holy Spirit .It can’t be anything else, why should a dove now come on to our car? We are blessed Thomas, Oh mother of God I’m blessed”.
The white Man did not comment on this statement. She recalled an instance when she found an apple floating in the sea during one of her sojourns in a tropical island resort. How could an apple be found at sea? It is the Lord who did that for her. It was sign from God that he always thinks of her. The white woman meanwhile had slept. I closed my eyes and went into slumber. Though cool air in the car was soothing though the squeaking voice from the woman was to my discomfiture.

I woke up when the car was driving in through a huge iron gate with grills and sign of the cross welded on either side. The woman had slept and I found myself consigned to the floor. The creaking sound of the huge gates as they opened made me look up and scamper back on to the seat. We drove in through the gate past a huge pen with hen, ducks and geese. There were some fancy looking hen with plumes around their legs and they were short and tiny than the hens I lived with in the farm. We went past through the drive lined on either side with banana and coconut palms. Some two hundred meters down a huge mansion came into view. It had frontal lawn well manicured and with strange looking artificial pond with water lilies. Out from nowhere dogs began to bark, angry growling bark, sounded greatly angry with the incarceration they were put into. It was indeed anger at being kept in constricted cages like in the circus tents- I later came to understand.
  The car stopped in front of the mansion. The dogs went on barking agitated in the fenced enclosure some 50 meters away from the mansion. The woman took me out along with her. The white man and woman alighted from the car. We were seen at the door of the mansion by two other women, a plump one who would put a fat over fed bovine to shame. The other was dressed up and had an air of haughtiness and had her nose up, though it was nothing like that of Cleopatra. The woman put me down on the granite floor .And my instincts began to smell the surrounds. I was appalled when a four legged beast that resembled some strange creature ran straight into me from inside the house. But this was a dog not more than 6 to 8 inches tall but with long black and chestnut brown torso. I could notice it was a dog only when it barked and before I could gather myself it pushed me down and bit my nose. It hurt me. The fat bovine woman shouted some funny name and ordered that the creature go inside, and not to bother me. Unwillingly it retreated behind her. The woman who brought me began the animated discussion with the other two .I was left to move around the veranda. Strange place and strange people added to my discomfiture. The older woman took me in her arms and all went inside the house. We entered a huge room with paintings hung on the walls. There was a big table with eight chairs around. The furniture’s were exotic and looked elegant as well. The older woman kept caressing me while she took me and the white people along into a room that was with huge glass doors with frescoes painted on the glass and inside on the wall. There was a human figure placed on the pedestal. It was that of a woman and she was holding an infant like the older woman was holding me. There were flowers and roses and tube roses around the statuette. Candles were burning on silver plated candle sticks. There was an antique looking painting behind the statuette and in gothic letters it said “Praise the Lord”.
She put me on the pedestal, (I came to know they call the high rise table “altar”).I was again in fear of height.  I sniffed at the roses and the statue and shuddered at my precarious perch. She said," Thomas I will call him Curly and this is his baptism". She said this and sprinkled some water from a decanter on the altar. The white man and woman laughed.
She took me from the altar and all moved out into the huge room with the massive table. They sat on the leather holstered chairs. The other two woman as well (the one who thinks she is Cleopatra and the fat cow like one).I was placed on the floor. I looked around for the four legged creature that barked and bit me. It was cuddled up in comfort on a leather sofa.
The older woman spoke to Cleopatra and asked her to arrange some warm water and disinfectant soap to bathe me. In turn Cleopatra look alike called out some name and a short black skinned man came scampering from inside . She ordered him to get the water and soap ready in jiffy.
I was scared to move around, I was afraid of that short long dog (I was certain he was a spoiled tiny creature).I decide to stay by the woman, And curled up by her feet.
“And I cannot understand why the Muslims abhor Pigs”, she began, “Look at the poor little fellow”, she bent down and patted me, and continued,  “how sweet he is. He will make a good pet. And I, always from my childhood wanted a pig, you know with such lovely tail and curly ears. And it is just amazing that the Lord sent me this little one on this Easter day”. 
It was the white woman who replied. It was a retort of sorts. “Do you also believe that we are here because your Lord decreed so”? The white man let out a chuckle. The woman did not quite appreciate that. She gathered herself sooner than you could notice and went on. “I have always had fantastic dreams from my child hood. And you know you will find it difficult to believe, all that have come true. I dreamt myself as Audrey Hepburn in the Roman Holidays. And even I was struck with wonder when I eventually could do my travel in Rome the way Audrey Hepburn did. It was not the charming Gregory Peck as escort but a priest. It was the Lord himself and I saw the best of Rome and the Vatican  with a priest. One cannot ask for more from the Lord”! She exclaimed. You remember the dove- the Holy Spirit who flew and sat on our car. I have had dreams of that too. She added with a clairvoyant imperiousness.
They had meanwhile begun eating their meal and the fair one with the fat nose was serving, along with the dark skinned man. She and the fat cow like woman probably made the cuisine. I was tired and hungry and moved slowly around the room, watchful of the spoiled long short dog. The woman asked the one with the fat nose if there was food made for me. She in turn summoned the dark skinned man and dictated instructions. He scampered away with a nod.

The white man and woman retreated after the meal to another room and the one with the fat nose escorted them. The woman and the fat one took me out to the bathroom, which had shiny marble paved on the floor, and closets and wash taps with gold plated handles and swarvoski stones on the tap head.  I was put into the tub which had a foot of water. And they scrubbed and bathed me with highly perfumed soap. I was showered in hot water and wiped with soft cotton towel. The fat one took me into the bed room and dried me with an electric dryer. They brushed my coat and put a satin collar in golden color on my neck, it had two tiny bells and a tiny crucifix on it. Perhaps that was my initiation! I was exhausted by then .The dark skinned man put down near me a bowl of cooked rice and vegetables. They gave me milk as well. I was indeed hungry, since there was no food for long. By the time I was finished tiredness and sleep engulfed me. I do not know when I fell into sleep and how long. When I woke up it was dark and I was lying on a soft pillow covered with satin cloth. I could hear the clock ticking and the chime struck. I lost count it was twelve I guess. Twelve midnight. My first day in my new home. My mistress, and now I am her pet!  Was this that my mother referred to on that Easter night when she and father were led out by the farmer, “son you will have a good life”?

I have meanwhile traveled much with the woman in her huge limo which breathes out cool air. I always noticed the crucifix dangling in front and the miserable face of the man on it. And every time I saw he seemed more anguished. She took me around like dogs are taken around. I was petted and fed well. I was privy to move around in the interiors of the bungalow. The fat woman and the fair one gave me bath every week.
Life was splendid. And I had no reason to have any premonition of any dnger or impending perils. And the quite insistent words of the Owl seemed facetious.
Days went by! Often there were celebrations,fun and frolic in the bungalow after prayers for which men in white robes descended from somewhere. I often heard servants speak in hushed tones that there were profane activities often later.

I taste blood in my mouth, my blood, and my punctured tongue is bleeding. The feel of my own blood! I want to throw out but my mouth is tied with the cord my tongue hang out limb from my mouth. And cannot pull it in.  Ha the holy eucharates the whole clan used to partake during the many religious ritualistic congregations that was held in the bungalow and always followed by feasting and frolicking. The men in white robes used to tell loud raising the antique wine cup “this is my blood, partake this and bond with me”. I wondered if there was cannibalism involved. Humans drinking their own blood and the blood of their ilk! And now
 I taste my blood!

I was sleeping indulgently on my pillow in her private room, the room of my mistress, it was then the short stout dark skinned man accompanied by two other men came in and tied the nylon cord around my mouth. They did that swiftly .I was pinned on to the floor and a choker noose was put around my neck. I resisted violently at the door of her room. Then I felt lightning strike my heart, she came and kicked me out through the door and shouted at the men” slaughter the fat bastard I have the bishop for dinner tomorrow. This fat swine has been having a jolly good time all these years. Ha even pigs must be kept in their place and much of the luxury of my room makes him cling back. And don’t dirty my house on the way down”. She shouted the last sentence perhaps for her henchmen. I got a skewed view of her and saw her aquiline face, her eyes were bulged, red shot and evil and there was not an iota of love or empathy which she claimed she has and which I believed she had- all that she faked! They shoved my back with a rod and I squeaked in pain. They pulled and tugged me down the flight of stairs, I slid some, down and though I tried to fight back and tried to fix myself staunchly on my four they managed to drag me down. I realised that it was not nightmare but reality, reality that dawns even when you wish them away. Reality dawned not when they strapped my mouth with the cord, not when they put choker around my neck , not when my tongue hurt, not when they pocked my back with the iron rod and dragged me down the stairs, it pained but when she kicked me through the door and when her face manifested  with all that she really was  and what she really  is, a turncoat and a pathetic hypocrite.

They dragged me over the rough granite. My torso was bruised and I could feel blood on my body.

When I was pulled past the fig tree out side the pathway I saw him perched on the branch of the Jack-fruit tree... Stoic countenance as he always keeps, I could hear him whisper to me “pig, is a pig- did I not warn you of this peril you are being dragged into?”

When I woke I was in the corner of the hen pen and saw that I was thrown over the pile of hen droppings. My body ached and I could taste blood dripping down my mouth. The resistance I put up while they pulled dragged me over the granite pathway had torn portions of skin from my under belly. It was like sharp needles piercing my skin. At every turn and move I felt the excruciating pain. I closed my eyes and I did not know how soon I slipped again into delirious sleep .My pain soothed by the hallucination that I slid into.

When I began my life in the bungalow three years ago I did not even have an iota of premonition of things that would befall me. But then the goodies of life that came my way inhibited my thoughts and blinded my vision that I came to trust her and the clan. Now I realize that it is only when the nail pierces your skin that you feel the pain and no amount of sane warnings will make you see and look loudly at the impending disaster that will befall you.
The Owl once said,she is a person who excels in deception and venality. Her clan is the euphemism for hypocrisy, subterfuge and ruse. The owl utter words of wisdom, like a hermit. He was privy to all that happened in this huge mansion. At night he pervaded the bungalow in body and spirit, and by day break he was gone.  Perched up high in the branch of the Jack tree or his silent meditation inside the bungalow, where he used to fly in late at nights. He has couple of usual places inside the bungalow where he perches with intense, deep meditation and surveillance-on the sill up on the portrait and on the transept of the cross that is kept fixed to the wall in the exotically painted room where the house hold folks kneel and chatter their litany of prayers most days.
The Owl told me many an instance “Beware, you are a pig and pigs are kept in farms for slaughter. You are misled by the woman to believe that she keeps you as pet but one day she will have you stuffed up as gourmet dish”. And persistently I have many a time rubbished his forewarning.
During many nights when he visited the bungalow I have conversed with him till dawn. And he gave me an insight to the world around, the world from which as he said I was seemingly protected by delusion, by a cocoon which is not permanent. And always  I strongly disagreed. All his wisdom did not erase my myopic vision, of the goodness I believed the world has. I refused to let his sanity eclipse my thoughts and beliefs.
He is the tenth in the generation of owls to stalk the life of the clan who lives in the bungalow. And the family biography was passed down to generations of Owls. He once said, “in most parts of the world birds of my species have been associated with death and misfortune. More so because of our screeching terrifying calls and nocturnal behavior. But there are other perceptions that are pleasant as well. And you little fellow can go with any of the notions that comforts you. But the best I agree to is the opinion summarized by a gentleman in the West”, ‘I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and underdeveloped nature which men have not recogonised. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied   thoughts which all men have’.


I see his sagely warning about my destiny, my fate, may be coming true soon. I am certain. I can see the dark shadow of death and the unknown stalking me like it stalked the man in Samara. I can see her staring at me instilling fear and utter loneliness. I’m scared I’m scared. “I do not want to die. Like all living creatures when the hour of reckoning seems around I do not want to leave, please I do not want to die”.

Day is breaking and I can see the silver lining in the horizon. And soon I might be send into perpetual day or darkness. Now here they come, the voices of the men are at the door of the pen. I’m still bound hind and fore, and the nylon cord tied cruelly over my mouth has virtually ripped my tongue and I can only feel numbness. Here, the doors are thrown open and I’m pulled out by the rope. I have no strength to resist and I yield. They are dragging me out and on to the block of stone. I can see the stout black fellow raise a heavy glistening knife and put it on my throat below my lower jaw. Do I now feel good? I suppose so. I have no fear, why then did I resist? It feels so good to embrace the inevitable. I can feel the knife slice through the outer layer of my skin, ha, now it has reached the fatty layer which human beings love. The stout fellow is persistently putting more pressure on the blade and now I can feel it slice through the flesh and snap my air trachea. I can still hear them laugh and applaud the stout guy for quick and efficient job. They have not slit apart my throat. Because she had also instructed them to preserve my head on my torso so that the gourmet dish can be embellished in style and pomp. The deep slice the knife made, now makes the blood flow out and starves my brain. I can feel darkness enter my eyes slowly. I cannot feel pain . Death has no pain; there is no pain in death. Because I died few hours ago….., when she kicked me out through the door of her suite.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wrath of the Heavens

While discussing with a few friends about the vagaries of life and the difficulties that shadow, they alluded to a discussion they had about me with a very well known Ayurvdeic physician. He is also a keen subscriber to astrology and the belief in a super force called God. And these folks confided that they have now begun to seek the advice of astrology and vasthu. And have even hired friends to commit poojas and incentive offerings at temples suggested in the astrological extrapolations.  I wondered if their orthodox Christian faith sanctions such beliefs. Doesn’t that tantamount to herding after heretical doctrine?
 "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me......” "Do not make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above..."
They were actually exasperated by the impertinent question I put forth. Their conversation with the Ayurvedic physician about my recaltricant attitude towards conventional religious diktats made him insist that they persuade me to go to him for a discussion. He was all the more insistent because they told him that I was an atheist.. In fact that pseudonym is not what I would appreciate, because my point of view is not of existence or otherwise of a big brother but more of what if he is and what if he is not. Well we will come to that later if necessary. But let me remind that I detest poking my nose into somebody’s beliefs and I may not appreciate someone sermonizing to me either from a selling point of view. That is labouring to instill mortal fear if possible. I prefer to base my beliefs or convictions on the evidence and knowledge I have as of date. Who can tell, may be I may be proved wrong tomorrow and vice versa!
I have not really ventured after clairvoyants and the intoxicating comfort they may provide. Though a couple of times, I have out of curiosity been to an ashram and also had
 yoga session with men in burnt orange- amber colored fabric draped around them. And bingo it was quality opium as some body had said before. You float like a feather and then bang you are back to earth and bruise your arse. So when I told them I have no hesitation in visiting this gentleman they transmitted the message to him. And his retort was “didn’t I tell you, he will agree to come.”.

So one recent Saturday morning I met him in his office in the precincts of his sprawling hospital and nursing home.. He was a man in his late fifties. He was tall, well built and with noticeable charm. His cabin had the Padma Sree awarded to him conspicuous on the wall. There were pictures of apparently of his parents next to the picture of a Hindu deity. He has obviously built up on the traditional ayurvedic sanctuary that his father began.. And the place stated loudly that he has since done commendable work. He began suggesting that we might have met before, but that was not the case! He said that when he was told about me he presumed that I must be a lean emaciated person in the mid fifties. I told him in any case I m into the fifties though I had to disappoint him about the bony –skinny physique. We laughed it away.
He asked me what my problems were. I told him it was just the problems which for some body would be on the family front yet to some on the physical side and to me it is more on the business or commercial front. .And I also in jest suggested that the vagaries and ups and downs of business cycle would perhaps be prolonging a bit far in my case. He asked me if I believed in God. I told him, I go to a temple or a church and with equal dispassion, and if he wanted to know whether I pray the answer is, no. And I could be at peace in the quietness of a small temple by the country side, or a church less frequented by the flock rather than in the commercial din and melee of a Guruvayoor or a Vellankanni. He wanted to know if I were a member of a communist party and perhaps that might have superseded my traditional grooming. I told him that was not the case. I have never liked subscribing to any ‘ism’ be it communism or Hinduism. And that after seventeen I have never prayed nor been to a temple to petition and ask for largesse. He asked if my maternal or paternal family had a “kula deivam” a devi or a devan.( god or godess) .I nodded in the affirmative that my mother’s side has a ‘Devi’ temple ascribed to their family origins, a totem perhaps!. Have you ever been there? he asked. I told him that thirty five years ago was the only time I have been to that temple. He told me categorically the difficulties I face in the official facet of life are the fall out of my being a turn coat, a renegade. “You were a believer till into your teens and then you forgot and turned your back to the power of your family deity. And I m certain the displeasure of the Goddess is haunting you in some way”. I did not feel like commenting, but was quite interested to see which way the discussion would ensue. He had in the meanwhile collected my birth date, from these people who directed me there and had crafted my horoscope. He was in fact waiting for this astrologer- a woman in her early forties. She knocked and came in, showed obeisance to him. She sat in the chair by the table next to me and began to lay out the paraphernalia traditional astrologers use to pursue their art. And in a while she began to tell my past and present. I wondered what was so exciting to know the one I already knew. She soon found in the melee of the constellations dictating my life and drafting my eventual journey on the planet that I m experiencing the wrath of the family deity. The stars are ominously positioned and it will continue another nine more years, though the severity and havoc it could wreck has passed and will cease to be effective and damaging by the end of April 2010. She also as it mostly happens with astrology almost caressed my past as it was. (Was she using some strange mystical mathematical calculations and extrapolating events that are now history, and inferring the drama of life of the future)? She stated that I carry with me lot of problems and keep them to myself. Ha who has a smooth ride anyway? She said that nemesis one after the other waits outside my door to enter and play pranks. And only the blessings of the deity and trustful prayer to god can alleviate my state and keep the bad omens at bay.
Now they reached upon the antidote for the whole state of affair. “You have forgotten your Amma. You let her out from your thoughts the last thirty five years”. I told them that every morning when I wake the first thing I do is to think of my mother and that would suffice to have peace in mind.  “But” , he replied, “you have ignored the Amma that gave you this amma”. You will have to go to the temple of the deity and prior to that you must give her handful of wealth. Apologise to her for turning away from her. And you will see the difference

I did not go there for a debate or verbal confrontation let alone intellectual discussion. I went their as going there may not be inhibiting me in any way to lead a normal life. One thing I noticed and have reinforced my convictions- that bribe and corruption begins in the presence of god. Providing quid pro quo to the Almighty is the genesis of sleaze and graft.
I did raise the question that there are many people whom I knew well and who are embodiments of falsehood and all that is lacking in ethics, but go to places of worship that they can find anywhere and where ever they happen to be, .and are in the traditional sense of the phrase god fearing. They pray and offer encomiums and munificence to their God. . And they lead awesome and wonderful life. And there are multitudes who suffer and live in pain of all sorts. Could they explain these strange phenomena, this contradiction to their summing up? ‘No that is something you should not think leave such people out of your thoughts’. Certainly that was not the answer to my question.

In the sum up, after my short interaction there, I came out with the beliefs and notions that I carried with me. You must live in fear and must believe in a big brother. Grease his hands often so that he is always in good terms with you. Inconvenient questions must not be thought of.nor put forth.
 But I still could not understand why human beings get excited and sensitive about somebody keeping to himself his way of life. Of course I m not an iota disparaging about this gentleman and his intentions of counseling or call it advise.

I still wonder why the hell a big brother or the Almighty up there must be controlling the celestial objects in certain many ways and play truant on us. Why must we think that we are the pinion in the life of the planet? The sun will rise and set each every day whether we are around or not? It is not "after me deluge".
 And this big brother if I can meet him will always want to tell him “brother you are quite in efficient in arranging things that you let lose, and it is time you retired and let living beings take care of themselves”.
And still the question remains unanswered and the answer a mystery. What must we make out of this?

This brings me to a message  I received a few days ago on my mobile. It read..

“Report of a random stranger...d celestial bodies wud agree wid me dat a change in their course is long due..d people hav been puttin up wid both nonsense and sensible stuff, d cause of which most often fails their good sense of easy it is for d celestial object to change its course n hence d life of is often found dat a prolonged period of inaction burns out d leftover need for movement..but sometimes it works on d contrary..d object in question wud develop a deep sense of wander lust dat gives a momentum to last an eternity..a being hence pins its hopes on d celestial bodies to change its course n change lives”.


Monday, April 12, 2010

With Apologies To Balakrishnan Nair

It was 1973-74. The youth festival at the Government Model High School Thiruvananthapuram was announced. And we in the IX standard – six of us got together to enter in the competition for the drama .Like in the previous year we chose the same duo as our mentors and coach. One of them is now a well known star of comedy in the Malayalam film industry. It was the very same couple who were then doing their pre-degree in the Government Arts College next doors, who chose, trained and helped us towards winning the best prize for dramatics the year before. It was then a play called “Computer Boy” by Veloor Krisnhankutty. The hilarious piece won over the much flaunted and rehearsed grim plays of heart break, debauchery, mental disorder etc of the seniors..
So the second time around, the two coaches chose a serious stuff, and the play was written by one of them. The story line was about a revered retired school teacher. The sub plot was about a delinquent student who comes back disillusioned after years in the wilderness of life. And supplicates to the teacher and beg forgiveness for his past derelictions and antipathy. The play was aptly named “ Vazikatti”. One of the current superstars of the Malayalam films was chosen for the role of the venerable teacher, and I was destined to don the role of the aberrant student.

We rehearsed under the supervision of the duo. The day of the festival and the competition dawned. On the morning of the competition we were involved in our final practice and rehearsals. This was being done in the fifth standard class room which was then towards the flight of steps that goes into the school from the Chengachoola junction
It was around 9 in the morning. The competition was to begin at 2 in the afternoon in the Drill hall. Our coaches called for a brief recess and we engaged in idiosyncrasies and  hearty laughter.
I noticed the gentleman walking up the flight of steps and cross the play ground. It was the English teacher Mr. Balkrishnan Nair. Better known as “Duplicate”. I have no idea why the pseudonym stuck on him. If it was for his countenance and temperament it had to be Tiger( kaduva) or something similar. Over buoyant that I was I shouted at the fellows and tried to garner their attention to Mr. Duplicate walking past. He was approximately 100 meters away from us. And I felt secure enough to howl and shout “Duplicate. Duplicate, duplicate”. All including the coaches began to yell in appreciation'duplicate'. Mr. Balakrishnan Nair did  seem to have ignored our salutation. We got back to our rehearsal.
Perhaps five minutes went by. Stomp stomp stomp the sound of leather boots reverberated on the granite gravel outside the class room. The class room shook as if hit by a quake 8 on the Richter. "Ethu Kazu…… monada  ariyandathu duplicate arranannnu”? (Which SOB wants to be shown who the duplicate is ) And then the thunderous vituperation went on. He was shaking like a huge tree. The rage was tempest like. He was shouting expletives and emphasising each word with the wag of his umbrella. The earth quake went on for a few minutes. None of us moved and bated an eyelid. We were almost near wetting our shorts. And as the whirlwind came, it thence stormed out..

It took a few more minutes for all of us to revive our bearings. And it did not take any longer for the rest to pounce on me. They branded me stupid and trouble maker. One of the coaches (the current comedian &  film star) accused me of betraying the group and the play. What if Mr. Balakrishnan Nair was to be in the judgment committee for the play? The prospect was haunting and a dire posiibility.’you have compromised all of us by your inexcusable and intemperate words and action”. He stated. They were unanimous in asking an apology from me. And that I must go and apologies to the Teacher himself. I was quite piqued that all was out of my doing. That scenario was very discomforting and unnerving. I protested that he might forget the incident. No they said vehemently. The coach ( the current film star) said that there is nothing wrong in aplogising to the teacher for my wrong doing and even Mahatma Gandhi have gone seeking apology from his master .I was a bit amused by the Gandhi story and moral coming from him. He began to tell me about Gandhi savoring meat against his mother’s diktat and then apologizing for his misdemeanor. He was supported by none other than the current super-star.
They literally pushed me out of the place to go in search of the teacher. I wondered what an unjust world! The act of heckling the teacher was unanimous and in chorus, though I implanted the idea. And now they shove me into the lion’s lair. I wandered to the main building of the school and went past the staff room back and forth. On one of my rounds I saw Mr. Balakrishan Nair coming out of the room. I gathered my self and stood in attention and said 'good morning saar'. He nodded and walked past me in his inimitable style. I was expecting another round of verbal or physical assault. But it became clear that in his fit of rage Mr. Balakrishnan Nair could not remember the faces that he confronted.
I walked back to the rehearsal whistling and told the group that Mr. Balakrshanan Nair appreciated my Gandhian act of remorse and repentance.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Educating the Parent

I was introduced to J. Krishnamurthy by Bal .  Prior to my knowing him, I do not remember that if I had passed through any of J.K’s writings or even remember hearing his name. That was in 1983. In any case I was not erudite in reading matters of substance.
I have only read a few of his books and do not even remember if I have read any from cover to cover. Yes, but I have read his “Commentaries on Living”, and that had enough provocative package to think. And there was this captivating appearance of his in photographs, (as I have not seen him in flesh and blood) that was haunting as his words. They make you think and not stay foolishly yawning. I may not agree with his expressions on subjects’ carte blanche. But still many times I found it difficult to defy his opinions with any logic that I could. In fact when somebody calls spade a spade it may not be even within the realms of Einstine to offer a theory or statement to the contrary.


I missed sending Ara and R to a school run by the Krishnamurthy foundation, though I have wanted that.  And now when R expressed that she wants a change of school from the last ten years in Connoor the first choice was the Krishnamurthy foundation schools nearby. So few days back I. and C along with R went to the School outside Bangalore for the interview and selection process for admit to class XI.

The school was set in a 100 acres verdant forest land. The reserve forest was engulfing one side. The Principal in the course of our discussion expressed that they always look out for fascinating encounters with the wild life that strays into the boundary of the school.

The children were ushered into the Physics lab for a short written test. And parents along with the Principal and few teachers sat on the mattress in the thatched auditorium. A short video film on a talk by JK was screened. The topic he commented was ‘Education’.

In Krishnamurthy’s very own words,”…if you dominate a child, compel him to fit into a pattern, however idealistic, will he be free at the end of it? If we want to bring about a true revolution in education, there must obviously be freedom at the very beginning, which means that both the parent and the teacher must be concerned with freedom…” But then his views on education like his views on other matters were rubbished as impractical

 The film I presume was perhaps one of his last few public experiences .After the film the Principal invited the parents to interact and express why they wanted to seek admission for their wards in a school run by the foundation and what education they want the child to imbibe.

Quirk some were the comments that followed!!!

The first speaker parent fell head over heels – semi prostrate like they do for ‘namaz’.
“Praise to Sri Sri Sri Krishnamurthy”, he began. It was amusing and also a stunningly comical beginning to the interaction. It also immediately reminded me about the religious cults that mushroomed with the camouflage of yoga discourses and hearty living etc. I adamantly decided that this guy was from the particular Swamy’s cult. And bingo he was ha !!Then came the lectures and discourses from a retinue of parents. Discourses, ideas statements that I m certain J. Krishnamurthy never thought of even remotely. One parent began his soliloquy and ended saying that “…. so we all should work towards achieving Krishnamurthy’s dreams”. The Principal a demure looking man suggested politely that JK had no goals and dreams. The parent looked bewildered and I m sure must have decided that the Principal was definitely a nitwit to say so. I felt that the Principal was unwittingly sparking a controversy suggesting that JK never said or meant what they were wholeheartedly attributing to him.
Then a parent mother began in a forcibly accented English,” You see the strife in this world is caused purely out of our greed, our lust to achieve. We feel that a luxury car, a LED Television, a journey to Walt Disney etc is necessary. JK was different. He never asked for all this luxury….”. Oh my goodness I wondered with discomfiture this woman was making a Mahatma Gandhi out of J. Krishnamurthy.

Another parent began her discourse. She gave the feeling that she wanted to anoint JK posthumously a ‘swamy’ a ‘god- man’. Yet another suggested after his comments that we all must work towards setting up a JK country.

There were fascinating retorts subtlety stated by the Principal and another teacher. But in the final analysis I felt most  that  the parents missed out on the vital question that JK made in the film,” what kind of education do you as parent want for your child”.

During his life what Jiddu Krishnamurthy said and wrote ignited both interest and controversy. His observations on religion, nationalism, tradition, organizations, and relationships often ran counter to the convention of the day. I state this with a very basic and limited reading I have had of Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s writings. I felt after listening to the people who were there to deposit their children into JK’s lap for education that they have missed the wagon.
As he was during his life he still is ahead of his time, our time, in matters of education, religious views, nationalism, relationships etc. Sadly they missed the gentle speech of the ‘old man and insights on education. Krishnamurthy presented education as a serious activity that must engulf the whole of a child whilst people, most of them still see it as preparation for succeeding in a materialistic world. 
I came out of the school concluding that the vogue of the upper middle class including myself is pure hypo critic bonhomie with Krishnamurthy. And it is sheer vanity that expresses the sobriquet ‘JK’ nothing more, nothing less. Will the children be different?