Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter of Lonliness





    “How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete.” C.S.Lewis

Well, briefly visiting people- people who one may have known, some not met before, some distant relatives and some social acquaintances. All this, the result of a social exercise that one have to set about, however dismal some of those brief visits and social encounters are. Honestly it is a thankless endeavor, having to call at houses you never wanted to, bare your teeth in a muscular exercise called smile - to draw back your parched lips and grimace baring the frontal teeth to some you may not even want to notice on the road; some trivial, some petty, some haughty, some charming, some stoic about life- theirs and your and some gracious for your remembering them.

A few of them would be eager to annoy with their seemingly innocent but tactless, rude and misplaced enquiries, about something that one  wanted to let behind and  be forgotten; then when they notice a slight trace of discomfort in you they hammer in the nail with a wry smile- what can be called specious empathy. Smile inside with a brutally sadistic comfort before seeing you off.

Sometimes, how one wishes that one need not have to talk. Often it is pleasurable to not speak, to be quite, silent, in a mute existence!

I have been on social calls for the past few weeks necessitated by a forthcoming wedding in the family. So when entrusted with the uncomfortable job of going to homes and inviting folks there is nothing much one can do besides accepting the hazards of the exercise.

Brushing aside the forgettable invitees, I was troubled to see a gentleman who I have known since I was little-seen him in his prime and always compared him with the most handsome men in the tinsel world. A man who is a doctor by profession and whose family had close family ties with my maternal grandfather. I remember often visiting his well-known clinic when I was little and also even in my teens. They were wealthy physicians over three generations and were respected and well-known.

Old age- when money, social positions and nothing else matter; it catches up on you swiftly that you realise that you are handicapped even before you bated an eyelid. . He is in his mid-seventies and was widowed some years ago. That I have known devastated him. 

The loneliness of old age! It must be the matter of the desperation of the mind over what ails the body was what I guess I saw in his face – a man, physically a shadow of what he was. But he was alert and cocooned up in his bedroom watching the cricket Test live. A walking aid was kept next to him. In the course of our brief conversation he spoke about his fascination for cricket, asked me if I played. He enquired about everyone, though sometimes he was unsure. He stood up while I was leaving and with folded hands thanked for remembering him.


When I was driving back from his house, I wondered how many among the rest I met over the past days would ever stand for a moment and think of the fragility of life, of the ephemeral youth, our helplessness in between the brazen existence we often display.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Lord I Have Sinned for I'm "Gay"



In the USA, there was this highly polarised trial which was called, "The Monkey Trial’. A widely acclaimed film, ‘Inherit the Wind” was made on the subject. Well that happened in the twenties of the last century, at a time when Public or government funded schools were prohibited from teaching or discussing the Darwinian theory of natural selection and evolution. Americans, those days preferred to fantasise in the creation of the World sometime in 6457 BC by a vengeful and omnipotent person called God. Looking back those were antediluvian times in the American psyche, (not that much has changed there in other matters).

However, back here in India, today, we have a Supreme Court that prefer to rule on matters that touch our daily lives in a insouciant manner and based on their beliefs and ideology rather than testing the subject on the fundamental principles of the constitution. The two judges who ruled that the Victorian era logic of the Article 377 is fine for them personally (sic) and need not be struck down. Strangely for a judicial school that is often accused by some of intemperate judicial activism in directing the executive on policy matters, this new found revelation that sexual relationship between consenting adults of the same sex, even in private violates the anachronistic  Article 377 is strange.. In toto, the supposedly learned Judges opined that one’s sexual orientation is not a personal matter and can be directed by the executive. Isn't this contention ridiculous and pathetic than the “Holy Inquisition” when dissent was termed heresy, when women were branded witches and burnt at the stake?

This reminds me of the time I was an adolescent and a teenager, when I  withstood homosexual advances- from strangers inside the cinemas, and even a couple of  friends.. Personally it was nauseating and repulsive to me and I evaded such solicitations. The fact is homosexual tendencies, at least transient ones do plague some during adolescence and teen.  Wonder if someone would deny this. In some cases they stay put  in the person and I have known some who were socially well placed,who have lured young chaps to satisfy their carnal needs and in some case may have even sodomised young boys. Well here it is a different matter than from consensual liaison between adults. It is a fact that there are heterosexuals who have gay flings outside their homes. There are marriages that fall apart like cards because one of the partners has homosexual orientation too.

I guess that homosexual orientation is a condition. Rather than being sophist it is necessary that such inclined people are either helped psychologically or let them be as they are with equal rights to privacy like any other.
The question of morality is a fallacy here. When copulation with multiple partners and virtual orgy is depicted in the explicit sculptures of the Chandala era in Kajuraho, when temples have artistic sculptures of high breasted goddesses baring their bosoms, when scriptures elsewhere promises catamites in Paradise if a believer kills an apostate , why this hypocrisy? 


Transgender and Transvestism as well as bisexual orientation is not a crime  like rape, sodomy, murder or robbery. The right wing Hindu groups who bray about the need to uphold Indian culture and that the reversal of Article 377 is against Indian ethos must look back at the puranas and folklore wherein we have number of instances of men and women with the so called unnatural sexual orientation. There has been no instance in those works that tells us that such people were hounded by the society. So we have to wonder if we are actually going forward or into an age which evens the puranas and scriptures cannot comprehend.
The Court certainly erred in their decision and by leaving it to the legislature to amend or maintain the statute as they chose; it abdicated its responsibility in safeguarding the right to privacy and of something as private as sexual predilections.

The BJP, who claim to be the custodians of Indian Culture, ethos and heritage have openly endorsed the anachronism of the Court. In their opinion homosexuality is against Indian culture. Then tear down the sculptures in Konark and Kajuraho. The Church is tactfully silent. Perhaps skeletons are too many in their closets that any overt comment may vitiate the matter for the clergy. Or the Church prefers to still endorse only the heterosexual relationships of man and woman (husband and wife) - as approved by God. All other forms are unnatural carnal acts - sinful , abominable and candidates for eternal damnation. As for the Muslim clergy and politicians they are understandably apprehensive and silent amidst the  hullabaloo the Judgment has created. The reason is not far away to seek.


The matter is not the question of erosion of morality, sin or the abysmal depths the society is going into. Homosexuality has been an orientation since ages. Anthropologists explain that even animals are oriented to homosexual behaviour. It is the specious puritanical views that is the problem and that which restrains from accepting something that has been, that is and that will be.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Arundati Roy, & The Corporate Hindu India


This is rubbish, outlandish innuendo and utter nonsense. I want to scream so, that people may take note. My Blog readers are only a few so this post will not reach out and only the few who read this may take note. The only way to reach this bizarre observation of Ms. Arundati Roy to the notice of many is to highlight this in Twitter and Facebook so the spiraling information gets moving afar. Also I’m further convinced that one should always be skeptical before being judgmental, be it even the commandments from the good Lord himself.

Arundati Roy, is a person whose views, analytic opinions and articulation that has impressed me. Her book, “The Shape of the Beast” and her many writings , foremost being the essays, “Walking with the Comrades”, and the well balanced piece on the Parliament attack and sentencing of Afzal Guru. Her acumen in distancing from the Anna Hazare fanfare was well justified, to me in hindsight. But she foresaw and that is one of her special ability. Her novelette though not a great creation ringed bell for me as it was moored in the times I grew up and many scenes she poetically wrote in prose brought back instances from my childhood days. I could empathize with a person who was my age and grew up in the same social times.

Now after listening to a video lecture she gave in the USA, I feel angered and revolted by her callous, ill-informed and untruthful comments on certain incidences in India’s early post independent days. Her erudition and the information that percolates to her repository have either deserted her or she chose to go into an India bashing offensive -playing to the gallery. In the bargain it may have done much harm to the country and how India is perceived in the West. (The video link is given here and I would suggest that people listen to the portion in question, which is in the very beginning of the video).Check this link-     http://youtu.be/jDqlqSIPgjU

Ms.Arundati Roy alleges that India is a Corporate Hindu State that has been perpetually at war with its own people, starting from the moment she gained independence- the Muslims in Hyderabad and Kashmir, the Christians in Goa, the natives of the North-East and recently with the Sikhs in Punjab. She claims that the Indian Army has been perpetually waging war against her own people.

This is utter nonsense and at total variance to history and facts. Yes in the central heartlands of India, now there is an ugly bourgeois war against the indigenous people – the tribes, and blessed by big businesses who want to eliminate or dispossess the tribal once and for all so that the rich and untapped natural resources can be exploited. But what has the Indian action against the Portuguese in Goa, against the belligerent Nizam in Hyderabad and against the terrorism of the renegades in Punjab got to do with corporate manipulations and Hindu agenda?

Elsewhere Ms.Roy has opined that Kashmir was never a part of India. Can she tell what is India and when did the concept of India come about? She must be aware that the political India is an idea of the nationalist movement and a post-colonial metamorphosis, a fact. Nowhere on the planet has a country been demarcated and fenced soon after creation of the planet by the Lord as believers would like to believe? Nations evolve. Social, natural, political and historical factors play much part in the evolution of a country. Is Ms. Roy endorsing the British cunning in leaving what was called India to fend for herself by drafting a very crafty instrument of partition and exit where in the six hundred odd princely states where given the choice to join the two nations or stay independent? Yes indeed the country was partitioned on communal lines and the rulers of the tiny kingdoms were free to join the Indian Union or the country formed on communal and theocratic ideology-Pakistan. Going by that yard stick there was nothing irregular in the ruler of Kashmir opting for the Indian union. If Ms.Roy argues that the Muslim majority states must go to Pakistan based on the communal partition agenda then what right did the Nizam have in staying aloof with Hyderabad – a Hindu majority State? And again no sane man or a practitioner of State craft would want a recalcitrant and belligerent little kingdom in its midst, which Hyderabad could have potently become? Is she not aware of the atrocities of Nizam –post independence and the large-scale forced conversion of Hindus to Islam?
As for Goa where she claims that India fought its own Christian population, one can only laugh at her silliness. Post World War -2 the colonial structures all over the world disintegrated. And what right did the obstinate Portuguese have to stay in Goa with their anachronistic colonial dispensation? Moreover, is Ms.Roy not aware of the nationalist movement in Goa that was in sync with the freedom movement all across the sub-continent? Her argument may even serve to smear the nationalist movements against the East India Co and the British rule in India!

The then US President John.F.Kennedy said denouncing the Indian action in Goa, “the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel”. Their representative to the UN branded India the colonial aggressor. Ironically, Ms. Roy seems to be echoing those sentiments fifty years after.  

Yes the criminals and thugs sponsored by the Congress were unleashed in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s killing. They wrecked the most dastardly communal frenzy upon the hapless Sikhs. But what went about in Punjab in the early 1980s and the Frankenstein that Sikh religious frenzy created (apparently aided by self-serving politicians themselves) was Kafkaesque that could have snowballed into a greater disaster. Tactically the Indian government erred when they sent the army into the Golden temple when they could have smoked the terrorists out. But that was no war against the Sikhs.

The matter of the north eastern states is far more critical when it comes to the process of nation building. With diverse regional and tribal loyalties it was a herculean task to integrate the minds than the land into the Union. Ms.Roy must be also aware of the long years that it took for the integration of the fifty states into the Union and federation of America. There was in the years since independence resistance from tribes and regional outfits in the north east which snow balled into insurgency and conflict with the Indian State and the army was deployed. There has been covert and not so secret logistical and material support to the insurgents from across the border too. The historical separation of the north east during the colonial period created problems for the national formation and integration post-independence. In the north east a sense of incompatibility grew into resentment and being made a part of the union especially when the Indian government cold shouldered local aspirations.

 Ms. Roy should understand that it is not the Hindu corporate agenda that brought about as she alleges military action in Goa, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Punjab and the North East, but matters that are diverse. The shortsighted vision of successive governments in New Delhi has contributed to the alienation of Kashmiris, but that is a different story. Pray what is wrong in Punjab now? While in North East the internecine animosities among tribes and their regional loyalties may have to be grappled with for more years while nation building.

What does Ms. Roy subscribe- a perpetually unstable cauldron of tribal, ethnic and regional loyalties at logger heads like in Afghanistan or an evolutionary process of nation building. Or is she still voicing the colonial mindset that should bring back the Portuguese to Goa, the Dutch to the Coromandel, the Danes to Tranquebar, the British East India Co  back to Calcutta and we still will have to find some space for the Spaniards.


Erudition, knowledge and the courage to articulate it earnestly and candidly is indeed a splendid gift. But using those special qualities to spread innuendo, corner pats in the back, some acclaim and applause in elitist arenas is tawdry.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vox Populi

He was a man who was born (as some may say) with a little more than normal craving for alcohol. His brother, who was a year younger to him (but they grew up like twins) would in later life recall how one day while they were in the early teen, were sent by their father to supervise the felling and collection of coconuts in the  grove  the family owned. Seeing the master’s young boys the adiyanmar (workers) took extra care in gratification. They served them pure toddy that was tapped at dawn. To the amazement of all the “little big brother” gulped a few pots of the highly stimulating drink and moved about unassuming.. This was astonishing for all because even veteran and seasoned drinkers seldom accomplish that feat in even time and move about without being tiddley.

Later in life, some of the folks who knew him would exclaim that his story was one that of a man who was driven into alcoholism by an impossibly termagant spouse and a marriage that rocked sans peace and quiet. Others would argue that his was the case of excuses to do something he could never resist and his body chemistry was such. Yet some others who knew him and his wife would sigh that she could make a wreck out of a passive and sober man.

Having known him, it will be nigh impossible for one to disagree with the last opinion.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mother Tongue Monolgues


The pity part of us, Indians by far is the unwillingness to acknowledge that mother tongue is not inferior to a foreign language, English (sic).I see this queer disposition more in Mallus. The shameful matter is the vain belief that knowing and or flaunting even a limited skill in English where mother tongue would adequately suffice conveys a superior status.

Writing these feelings in English may be construed as one such vain vanity. But honestly it is not so. I acknowledge my education in the English language medium may have helped in acquiring a comparatively better skill in the language and consequently the comfort zone when using the language. However, how could I explain away the less proficiency in Malayalam, my mother tongue? The fact is I must confess and I regret is the matter and it peeves me to infinite extend.

When I opted for Malayalam as my supplementary language in college, it was a choice borne out of my not so great knowledge of Hindi, the language spoken by most Indians. Hindi was deftly confined to watching unfailingly the Hindi flicks of those days. It was not the love for the mother tongue perse that brought about the decision to choose Malayalam as the supplementary language. In fact I was also dissuaded by the folks at home and friends from opting for Malayalam and they warned me that it would be a handicap as the grammar is tough and marks are not easily provided by the examiners. Nevertheless I went ahead and it only makes me laugh and wonder how I could manage a first class in that language in my graduation. And there were just two first class holders in the language that year in the whole college. It even now makes me often believe that miracles do come about.

Do I deserve accolade? I would say a flat ‘NO’, because it is a crude reality that my command over written Malayalam and its grammar, the range of vocabulary in my repository is insignificant and average. I wonder if I could pen an essay in Malayalam without stumbling from spell errors. The simple reason is that I have read far less in Malayalam than I have managed in English. It is a sort of disgraceful feeling when a friend often chooses my blog posts to publish in the “Assisi” Magazine. Only because, I feel naked that I could not translate effectively what I blogged into Malayalam the language in which the publication publishes. So he selects the post and translates it with his aides.
It is a pity!

The knowledge of one’s mother tongue helps in the awareness of one’s roots, culture and tradition that are subsumed, though here mercifully I have not lagged. This vital aspect was compromised to a considerable extent in both our children. Their education outside Kerala and in a school and curriculum that gave little heed to languages (Indian) must be squarely blamed. Nevertheless as parents I wonder if I and C can absolve ourselves from the slip, however unintended it was.

Exasperating and glaring is the vanity that people show off and trivalise their mother tongue and try to be someone else that they are not and can never be. They go about their conduct as if they were born in the English country side and would prefer to sing “God save the Queen”, if only others would notice what they believe is their uniqueness. I’m not expressing any jingoistic thoughts and or outlook here. I have not seen any Europeans, (who also hail from much diversity- of language and culture like we Indians do), who be it a Dutch, French or a German, Italian or Nordic and who prefer to speak in English than their language when among people from their own country. But Indians prefer to cloak in a false vanity and flaunt English ways even when it is not necessary and even  to a fellow country man.

 Recently, I recommended a guy for a placement and I was also present at the time of the preliminary discussion with the prospective employer as the later was known to me. The fellow began to reply to the queries of the employer in his (tamilised) English while the later was careful to understand the boy’s Tamil background and was conducting the interview in Tamil. I was feeling a bit awkward as it was glaringly rude and seemed annoyingly insistent use of English. The employer did not keep his irritation in check for long and asked the fellow why he was answering in English when he was spoken to in Tamil. Why is this so? Are we equating nobility and finesse with knowledge and exhibition of our prowess in English? The colonial mindset refuses to go away. Indeed there is a lot of cultural impact upon a colonised society than when while being the usurper. But we prefer to be more English than the Brits.

There are kinder- gartens and preparatory schools where spoken language is forcibly English and kids (read parents) are penalised and fined if the wards speak in a vernacular tongue; the maid who earns livelihood doing domestic chores would want her child to call her “mummy”. I was once travelling in a taxi, incidentally the taxi driver’s little son aged about five or six was with him. The taxi man was pointedly speaking with the little fellow in English as broken and raped even by lay standards. The boy was sure to pick up the half-baked and distorted spoken language as real time English. Why? Why so? I cannot understand. I feel awkward and irked by the social usage of -grandma, brother, sister, aunty, daddy, mummy and so on. And believe me many believe these usages are help to showcase their supposed superbia and their belief that their status is enhanced and noticed. Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts are “Rip van Winkle” like!

I feel that the fascinating aspect of the English language is that it assimilates and blends unto itself languages as diverse as it can get. That brings to it richness. It is certainly a language which is a hybrid language and that does not make it less in wealth than the languages from which it liberally borrowed. Each language has its flair and uniqueness. To deride ones mother tongue is unenlightened. And to believe the mother tongue is piddling shows pathetic ignorance, vainness and is certainly naiveté.

I guess the true identity is in understanding and knowing ones roots and that, the mother tongue alone can help. Folks from Kerala would be familiar with the spectacle of Mr. Prakash Karat the Communist Party ( CPM) General Secretary  orating  on stage in English and sometimes aided by an interpreter . Ironically the gentleman cannot speak to his flock – the Malayalee proletariat in their (his) mother tongue and has to seek the help of English. His roots with the place of his birth and that of his fore fathers were severed early in his childhood.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

ZEN


Vailopalli Sreedhara Menon  the renowned poet of Kerala sang, “Bandhura kanchana kootilanengilum, bandhanam bandhanam thanne paaril”!!!  It loosely means that a life of (plenty) even if incarcerated in a gilded cage is yet a life of incarceration. I now, over the past few weeks have begun to realize that there can be exceptions to the adage the poet wrote. Because I’m in the past three weeks relishing a life though not interned by any means but grounded by my own volition; not a life indulgent and sumptuous. I joked to C that it is a refugee status. She was a shade offended, I presume.

So it will be until a while (I guess) I will be with my mother and indulging rather gauchely in gastronomic plenty. The plentifulness of taste - those dishes that leave a lingering aroma, smack and atmosphere that it stays in you even long after many moons and all have faded. I do not think that one should believe in niceties and hold back when enwrapped by food that can entice you to live another day only that so you could have more of it. Food, that is simple and unpretentious, but makes you lean sideways to guess if it was made in heaven. So I devour them and ravenously.
An unexpected twist of events!

“Gastronomic plenty” may be a phrase that may be quite misleading. Because often it is like we miss the wood for the trees. Not that I have been through famine all these days leading up to now, nor is it now vulgar indulgence in regal and princely food. It is simple and bare food made at home and which is in the menu of any ordinary people. But the gilded difference is it is being prepared by someone special, someone who has the uncanny knack of adding drops of ambrosia into each little dish prepared and that makes the food exceptional at that.

So here I’m virtually flying thrice each day to paradise after passionately eating food cooked by her. And after every meal I’m content and at peace, Zen like, that would not mind even falling dead.
And, I stay embattled in the battle of the bulge.




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Narendra Modi and I

I intend to vote this time around; perhaps it will be if I manage to do, the third or fourth time, I have ever exercised what is considered as a right of sorts. And I must by all means do my little part to stop this man – the poster boy of intolerance, xenophobia and the corporate India Inc.

There is nothing unashamed in asserting that he, Narendra Modi is not the representative of the Hindus or a Hindu way of life. On the contrary he, when hoisted on the shoulders as the saviour of Hinduism  and Indian culture bedevils the way of life and what is spectacular of Indianness (sic) and culture.
Why do I despise this man and do not want him to be the deciding on my life, be entrusted with the future of an already strained and simmering society and country?
The reasons –
1-He is certainly , though acquitted by an investigating buffoonery called SIT responsible for the carnage and systematic massacre of innocent civilians in the communal riots of 2002 in Gujarat that was then also under his dispensation.

2- He is the architect of a perverted and obnoxious philosophy that equates and showcases  Indianness (sic) as Hinduism and vice versa.

3- The philosophy of hate that he and his organization profess is akin to the perverted mindset and thought, professed about the uniqueness of Aryan race by Adolf Hitler or by the far right pro white mongers of the segregation era in the USA  and South Africa. India cannot survive as nation on the premise of hate, intolerance, pseudo secularism and falsehood. This is a rainbow culture we have and that is what will see this country as a nation and far from disintegration and communal turmoil.

4- The agenda of the socio-political group that this man represents is appalling if the uttering and the psyche of he and his cahoots in the party are taken and analysed ,it is not only mere saffronisation or equating saffron with Hinduism and even a theocratic state in the Hindu mould that they would probably want, but  total subjugation and elimination of dissent, diverse faith and culture. One will fail to trace Indian history even into the medieval times and fetch a society or a ruler who professed the philosophy of intolerance and elimination of difference.

In any case Hindu and ancient Indian philosophy and tradition as well as the then practiced state craft were not based on conversion, proselytism by the sword or lure. To allege that it was the submissiveness of Hinduism and ancient Indians that were responsible for alien culture and hordes from beyond the Hindu Kush invading the land is preposterous.It was  the evils that harbours within Hinduism that aids in conversion away from the faith. And to believe that one must or can undo the egregiousness of the past by a wrongful act in the present is anserine. Demolishing mosques, churches or synagogues and rewriting history text books with untruth, malarkey and saffron version of the past is not only ridiculous, myopic but grievously harmful to posterity and the generation that is growing.

If this is endorsed there shall be no difference between Hinduism and certain faith that originated in tribal lands of the Arabian peninsula  and continues to be horribly didactic and intolerant even now.

5- The corporate world and India Inc. as affectionately labelled has identified this man Narendra Modi as the messiah and the icon of resurgent corporate India. And in the corporate commercial cauldron that they perceive the  vast multitude of Indians who struggle at the door of subsistence even for one square meal a day is not accounted or noted .They are sixty five percent of the 1.2 billion Indians- a legion who do not matter in Narendra Modi’s scheme of things. They are mere puppies’ who can be run over and forgotten.
The vibrant and fast growing Gujarat that Modi has brought into the forefront and is widely showcased by his PR team is a Gujarat that is urbanized, express motorways criss-crossing urban centres, shopping malls, and huge industries that entrench displacing vast majority of the so called puppies, huge dams that channel water to the elite urban towns and industries, while hundreds of thousands displaced by the surging waters of the mammoth dams are jettisoned to fend for themselves.

A careful observation of some of the premier national newspapers in the print media and TV channels will tell that many have already been bought over by the Modi lobby. The development agenda of Modi is not inclusive and statistics that are on the websites run by NGOs and authentic portals will adequately tell. But then as they claim and so do the present corrupt dispensation of Manmohan Singh, it is all for “the greater common good”.

Imagine a development agenda that is lopsided, a social outlook that is hatefully communal and an Orwellian State that is premised on intolerance, where citizens are snooped upon and dissent brutally silenced. Yes, snooped upon, because a man with Modi’s philosophy cannot survive in an atmosphere of tolerance or dissent. He cannot and the saffron robe cannot build a tolerant and secular society. If Congress is secularly pro Muslim the Modi bandwagon is despicably anti-Muslim and anti-other faiths.

As for corruption the less expected the better. He may be above corruption, but we saw what the BJP ministers and legislators are capable of when it comes to thieving and corruption. As for their proclaimed intent of the revival of Hinduism and its elevation over Islam or Christianity it is malarkey and misleading. The hundreds of ancient and medieval Hindu temples that were submerged by the rising waters of the Narmada or consigned to nondescript oblivion all over the country, even in the BJP ruled States stand as ghostly harbinger and premonition.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Innuendo


She said, “I bear no malice to none. I speak forthright and from my heart as a parent who wishes well for children be it mine or another’s”.
Her voice, tone as well as content of the carefully chosen words were laced with apparent honesty and felt candid, sincere.  So it seemed and so it sounded! There was no reason to suspect something amiss and an innuendo.

“I could not bear her boldness, her audacity no more. She, I feel and am convinced has changed much and she is not the same little one I saw, I knew before. And I decided that I must seek you out to tell you that unless you pull her back she will be lost to you, forever”.

I brooded .Such message would be disturbing to anybody who has a child and who is committed to bringing up children. When an observation as disconcerting as it is in such words come from a parent- and that from a single mother who certainly may have felt the lonely agony of bringing up a child, one must take notice. It cannot be malarkey and false. Can it be?

Could it be? Could it not be? Truth and falsehood where distant mirages but I wished the woman was viciously inclined to malign. But yet why must a mother utter such vicious stories of foreboding about another child? A child who was or has been inseparable companion of her own?

Perhaps there were infringements-minor infractions at that, the impetuosity of teens? We have all been through the crisis of teen.

When what later, mercifully not very late turned out to wipe out the foul air and the gathering tempest , the fear- I sighed an immense sigh of relief and wondered why people should be so petty and uncharitable. Good intentions laced with innuendo and exaggeration! An adult, gown up, a mother seeking cheap satisfaction was quite an oddity. To opine on someone who you have not seen for months? It was preposterous. And an uncivil way of evening out the differences children have sometime in their midst.

Who was it who said “It is a wise father that knows his own child”? It was William Shakespeare and here it was the C, who from the moment the unpleasant silly story emanated was an icon of confidence that all was malice and rubbish. Such is the trust she has in her children.

For me, I still believe in the infractions of youth. How can one pass over youthful times without a wee bit of mischief? Well then the borderline, the threshold has to be known and heeded. That is something a parent has to inject in children, not to be heedless.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

God of Small Things



Sometimes, sometimes often certain individuals come into ones thoughts. They come in like gentle whiff of fresh soothing air, and tickle ones hair pits, one’s heart and soul. As the native Indians, the Sioux say, “The heart soars like an eagle”! Perhaps I may be too enkindled about the feeling the thoughts bring forth? Nevertheless they bring sweet memories in an otherwise cantankerous, perfidious world and people.

In this world nothing comes free and everything has a price more than any value and altruism is a premium trait, if not a dying or a dead aberration perhaps noticeable in a few. In such a society this man who I must call as P, for the shortened version of his name and his relationship to me (he was my father’s first cousin and elder to he ). I called him “Perappan”. He was an exception,insofar as I knew in his relationship to me and my sister at least!

Memories of him dates back to my very young age of about six or seven and he lived with us , which was then a joint family of sorts .He was unmarried and died a bachelor boy well into his eighties. He was an early riser and used to engage in serious manual labour. The vegetable garden which was then a prideful thing was his creation. He used to gather about fifty odd buckets of water from the perennial well to water his fave garden. Spinach, Egg plants, cucumber, gourds, red chilies’, bananas, and yam the list was endless! Then the cows- the baths he used to give them (I in tow as an assistant of sorts) by the well.

I remember walking about with him questioning and inquisitive about his work here and the one he did there. Sometimes he would relent and let me do the little job when I was petulant about his refusing to let me do something along with him.

He was a craftsman .That doesn't mean he sculptured femme fatales, charming princes and abstract forms raved by the vain. He was a simple tailor. A maker of men’s formal wear, the tuxedos and suits and he was quite well known in a small elite circle for his exceptional skills in tailoring. The patterns that dissolved into ones symmetry, that coalesced as a second skin!

If I had had tasted the little things in early life that a child holds close to his heart they were from him. He was in a way my God of small things.

The first Chandamamam ( Ambiliammavan) monthly  children’s book till they ceased publication , the occasional matinée movies, the circus , the fairs  , the visits to the zoo and the beach, the overwhelming journeys in the admired double decker bus that were grand relics in Thiruvananthapuram, the refreshments and short eats out in  restaurant, the Parry’s chocolates and toffees, the peanut chikkis, the regular supply of shirts and trousers, the unfailing supply of firecrackers for Deepavali , the little doles ( Vishu kaineetam) for Vishu, my first  shuttle badminton racket…...! Thank God! If there is one, he was the one, the God of small things, things that now I feel made my life as a little child. They now tower large. Seem to be huge, very big, priceless and of incalculable value. Things that all the bullion may not suffice to square off. Things that are priceless but are invaluable the most.

I remember him desolate when I strayed a while in my early teens and in shady grouping of supposed friends. .Shiver me timbers!

Years later when he was living with his nephew (his sister’s son), I used to go to him often when I was in Thpuram, sit with him for a while. He was always pleasantly thrilled to see me and perhaps he also may have sighed that I did not disappoint him as he once feared I would. When I bade bye to him at the end of each visit, I used to leave in his palm one hundred Rupee bill. I often noticed a glint in his eyes, a shimmer. Gradually when he was ploughed under by dementia, he used to just sit in the chair and smile when I held his hands. The familiarness, recognition and the glint in his eyes ebbed not too gradually. They became washy from age and I saw he was surely going down, the smile too. The last time I saw him, he was not smiling, but sat with a void look into the distant, or was it into the blank vapidness of the white wall in front. The eyes were of living dead – no glint, no shimmer, and was foggy.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

My foot ,Gauche!!!



Use "a" before a word beginning with a consonant or the sound of a consonant. Use "an" before a word beginning with a vowel or the sound of a vowel. The “Madhama” said , perhaps the fifth time  that day, squinting her eyes through the reading glass perched on her nose and with a strain of exasperation she did not think was worthy of an effort to mask. The middle aged Anglican Indian spinster known in local parlance as “madhama” closed the ‘Wren & Martin’, pushed her chair back, stood up and straightened her skirt, tucked at her shirt before asking her pupil, the pure blooded young Indian woman to do the exercise in sentence construction with the words she had noted for her. Then with a noticeable imperious about turn she walked back into the house. Shadow the dachshund scampered behind her from underneath the table. True to its name! The boy was skeptical about the dog and was certain that it has all the trappings of its mistress.

He had been through this exercise daily in the grammar class at the convent across the street. And precisely because of that he was not too keen to sit by the table while the young woman labored at the exercise dictated by the Anglo Indian mam. He moved out further in the verandah of the colonial building that was now the residence of this white woman. He began to observe with awe - visually the artifacts and the furniture there. Surely this woman must be rich to have such a big bungalow and this clean drive way with mahogany trees giving perfect canopy .The May sun was a matter on the road outside and the world outside. In here it was pleasant as the trees would not let the hot rays of the sun scorch the ground below and inside the house the old antique GEC ceiling fans revolved gently, he felt figuratively than purposefully. The grandfather clock in the living room struck four and it brought him back from his thoughts chasing up the unknown hillocks. 

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock….”

He sang in hushed voice swaying his hand aimlessly.

It was a routine now for a month. He accompanied his young aunt daily to the white woman’s bungalow. It was after lunch that they set forth on the thirty odd minutes’ walk in the summer sun. Past the junction that served as a flea market till noon every day- the foul smell of fish, rotten-fish still hung in the air like unseen fog and bickering, cantankerous  women still exclaim in brassy voices of what happened in the business hours in the morning, while packing up their unsold wares for the following day. Black restless crows would hop and fly around targeting tidbits and entrails of fish and junk left around. Then past the convent school where he went before the summer recess. The window of his class room STD – IV C on the third floor of the building towards the road side and he would daily notice was not shut close.  She would hold him close to her while they walked and hold the “Singapore “umbrella above her, taking much care that he was safe from the unfriendly sun.

He was eight.
He often overheard conversations at home because the elders thought it was not significant if a little boy like he was privy to the discussions they held. What he sometimes overheard told him that his aunt was sent there- to her father’s ,by her husband who wanted her to undergo a crash course in spoken and written English; to understand the etiquettes of the elite society; to make her a cultivated woman. He did not understand the nuances of the conversations. But he was sure that she went to the Anglo-Indian white woman so that she would teach her English and social behaviour- what important and big  people called  'respectable' (sic). 

He heard someone comment that his aunt’s husband who was a “big man” in a “big city” was peeved by what he saw as her gauche and lack of etiquettes  in social gatherings. She once told her mother, that he called her ‘a dumb and insipid doll’ who cannot exhibit civilised and cultured conduct. She did not know to shake hands and reciprocate with hugs and kisses when an important person approached her. She had no idea of how a hostess should conduct about at a dinner for the elite clan of her spouse’s acquaintances…. . Her naiveté and lack finesse was glaring and damaging .Her salutation was just a coy smile and a “namaste”. Absolutely uncivilized and gauche!

The big man in the big city wanted to civilise her.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Of Husbands & Wives


I do not mean this for myself. But just musing over wives whom I have known, mine and that of my friends and others; their life’s with their spouses. I do agree that by the same token a woman who may read this can also compare from the other side too.

I have a colleague who I have often noticed speaking to his wife back at home over the phone in an impatient and rude tone. Though I resisted eaves dropping, I have sometimes exercised a bit to overhear his conversation on the phone and I have noticed in the distant unremitting voice over the phone that she does not care to listen to him, but keeps talking when he at this end is violent in tone and asks her to first listen before chattering. Yes, this may be one sided judgment, but what often struck me was his rudeness on the phone and his impatience when talking to her. I have not noticed this when he, for instance talks to his parents. He is not too keen to often go back home either. The bottom line that cannot be ignored is that he married her after a courtship.

A close friend is often blushing when his wife opens out on the arguments and battles that comes about in their midst. The apparent traces of philandering he indulges in. She even hilariously narrated one instance and went on to talk about an argument they had one evening over his wanting to go out to the club for a drink and she suggesting he do it at home and they can be together. He refuses and she proposes an option that she will go with him and gulp down a few drinks too (she is a teetotaler). The situation flares as he stays adamant. She locks the house from within so that he cannot venture out and consigns the key to place where he could not find. He is upset and locks himself in the bedroom and goes to sleep. He later finds her drunk and cuddled up in the sofa in the living room after vexedly polishing off a few glasses of his favourite single malt.  They had an inflamed romance before tying the knot and it is twenty five years since.

There are some who are malleable and often one might wonder if it is not a tad deigned. In some case the act becomes more of a rule and demand than an exception. Puppets on a string? Equally remarkable are the specious husbands; the ingratiating ones. Not necessarily would the wife be a termagant, but they love their act. Perhaps often matter of adaptation?

I wonder where I stand. Fortunately though it has been a life a bit quarrelsome, dissenting and not so pluperfect, it has also been pluperfect as relationships like say, with friends can be .Perhaps, as exasperating, affectionate and forgiving as say even sibs would be. “Touch wood!” I hope C would agree.
.
I would tell this to a person who I know and is by blood related to me. It may be rude to say that he is timorous and callow at forty. That is a pity but is the fact. Romantic blissfulness during the brief dating they had after they chanced to meet in a temple probably was not enough to unveil their selves. Perhaps they were too aware and conscious to let go the armour they held over them. The enigma of the passionate times as always vanished soon and reality knocked on the door. The bitter side of them or either one of them was blown open. And the incompatibility was felt as she claims, by her. She alleges that he may not have felt the difference as he was obsessed with himself- a “narcissist” in her words. Isn’t it true that while you are dating you pretend to be someone else? They both may have .

He is certainly distressed, but she is unheeding and often one feels the woman is inexorable. Well what can one say unto him, but to tell her, “Watching you walk out of my life does not make me bitter or cynical about love. But rather makes me realize that if I wanted so much to be with the wrong person how beautiful it will be when the right one comes along."


Monday, July 8, 2013

Que Sera Sera


He was born and began his life in a faraway land – land of his birth, a land that had history, myths, legends and culture, colourful, so vibrant that he and many of his generation were swept away in its audacity and imperiousness. In the high tide, what people boasted loudly – “rich heritage!” Like many of us who want to glow in the aura of our past. The past, that was of our forefathers! A past, of which we have not seen and should have no bearing upon what we now are! The illusion that we are what it was- “the glorious past”, of which we had no part and can claim nothing of.

It is true that culture, years of tradition and social living as civilization could make people refined; by far better creatures, without gauche. It is also true that what is born with you would refuse to wither away and like little ugly warts, like barnacles stick to you with wickedness.

 He was one such. His grandfather was a person of nauseating wealth and hence, also what brings with such profusion – “influence and power”. Adding up to a potent concoction, “arrogance”! He had his fingers in pies, in places that really mattered. He had a long arm. That served well when he turned eighteen and brought him the passage across the seas to the land farther away. A land, where its people who like Rip Van Winkle believed that the world has not changed, cannot change and also that they still could lord over, the minnows as they see you and I. Where people believed and to great extent true until some years ago, that their folks would be devouring breakfast, lunch and dinner obscenely like rapacious philistines, all at the same time in different places on the globe; where it was twilight, dawn and noon all at  same time, Where the sun never went into the sea. A bizarre matter to think about for ordinary people like you and I! It was not fantastic, in fact it was true.

So, that was where he spent the most fertile time of his life, his youth. The cold wind that blew from the North Sea and the Arctic did little to mellow his enthusiasm for all that was less modest and liberal. Ten years and nine months of fun, frolic and a side dose of university education.
The Irish girl saw him in the rain one day and they walked under the same umbrella to his apartment. It was a special feeling of nearness that accelerated banging of his heart against his ribs, he would later recall.                                                                                                                                                                                                   “Falling in love in the rain and be soaked to the bones. I felt I would fade away in the rain and my bones would melt in the warmth of his clasp.” she would reminisce even many years after. “It was rain drops of love over us” she would add.

Eventually, she tagged to him as the co-passenger on the jet plane back to the land where he was born. She held his hand throughout the precarious air borne journey. She had an aversion for the skies and what hurls through the skies- up in the air with no moorings on the flat earth down below. She did not pray though, for a quick and safe deliverance from the long drawn jet haul through the clouds. It was not that she was an atheist .She was a catholic as most folks are from her country. And she disliked flying.

Back at home, he ventured into territories that were fancy and exotic, though he managed an Engineering degree in metallurgy from the university in “Old Blightly”. He chose to be a wine merchant. There was still a part of the substantial share of wealth his grandfather bequeathed to him and that was tempting enough to be flamboyant and freewheeling. His grandfather, the patriarch had passed away and the clout the family enjoyed receded gradually and purposefully like the ebbing of the tide.

Old habits that are in our chemistry, that reside in our veins and every sinews even while we were in the womb- our thinking, the way we feel about others, the intensity of our altruism or the lack of it, the good, the bad and the despicable in us may not be erased by factors and people that come about into our life at different times. They are only eclipsed. Perhaps it is the vile in us that plots our fall. That charts our destiny, different from the course we would want to.

He squandered his heirloom. If it is rude and cruel to say he squandered, one may rephrase it to mean he simply lost. She watched helpless and miserable for him. His overbearing and conceited personality was a burden to her too. Back to more mundane environment but refusing to let go the air and the pomp of the past he continued…. . He really believed of his invincibility, his superiority and cared less for what others valued in their life and what affected their life. In fact he deluded himself into fantasy and trampled upon others too. His immortality- he believed in that too? In the avaricious living he seldom reflected on the fantasy called immortality.

Now he is a depleted image from his past. Of the past, that was he. Emaciated and midway through the therapy. Toxic concoction pumped into his veins at regular intervals but the tumor in his lungs gorging into him further. It plays with him. It takes back seat, gives him a shimmer of hope and then harangues at him as it lords over his fate.  Taunts him! Would he in moments of quiet reflect on the arrogant life he lived? The shenanigans, the instances of deceit to the woman who shared her umbrella in the cold rain long ago? She, who still spends time by his side, holding his hand as she did on the plane many years ago? Of the people who he spite? Would he realize that what he now is,is the sum total of his past? Or is he not?
 Perhaps!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

BROODING




                                           Nandadevi at dusk

Destruction, loss, and pain is not unequal, be it anywhere life exists. It is a perverted and bizarre contention that loss of life and agony is insignificant and matter of trivia when it is borne by others, by people of other denominations, faith or race and is the cruelest extent to which human beings can pursue their ideas. The cataclysm in the Himalayas, the devastation of the tsunami or even the directly man made afflictions like genocides and ethnic cleansing we see and hear about are all matters of distress to people who cannot see the difference in the colour of blood and value of life.

I was trying to put myself in the picture of the devastation in the monsoon torrents brought about in the Himalayas. It hurts! It hurts not because of the loss of life, but because the devastation was asked for- we crossed the threshold Nature has been putting backward.

The Gods, I’m certain, would see the picture of Kedarnath in the aftermath of the deluge in the mountains with stoicism. And so should man, with dispassion. The gods were not wrathful nor did they vent their fury through pelting and deluge, for they may have vanished from Kedar long ago with indifference. Looking at the pictures of the ploughed under township of Kedar and the half inundated entombed temple structure, I wondered why was not the town totally submerged down under the rocks, mud and debris? To vanish from the surface like the grandeur of the Mayans or a Pompey! To perhaps be later discovered and to resurface in an age were man has respect and reverence to the fragile blue planet that is his only home like the rebirth of Machupichu.

It was commerce in the hills, in the mountains. There was no sanctity and calm in the frenzied gathering of mortals in what they call as the abode of Gods. The beeline they made to Kedar, by foot and on miserable mules was in a state of divorce from the God they ventured to seek in the mountains. Eyes wide shut and chanting gibberish invocations they were actually defiling Nature. Remember the Lord of Kedar is a yogi, a hermit and a person who resides in the pristine air of the mountains.

The obscene concrete structures that were put up on the mountains jack sawing trees and vegetation were not only an eye sore but brutal violation of Nature. I wonder if any of the four destinations Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badarinath was equipped with means to dispose tonnes of waste and garbage men threw around with impunity. For many the wailing of Nature is not even a distant whimper.
The rape of Kedar can be seen and understood only by people who go there with their “eyes wide open”. For a supplicant, a petitioner or even a sinner eager to wash away his sins so that he could start all over again and mortals who are anxious of ensuring a star plus afterlife which they expect to ensure from the excursion to Kedar and the mountain shrines, her enchanting self is not noticed. They do not notice the beauty she radiates in the majesty of the snow clad mountains shinning in the noon sun or the crimson ornamental appearance at dusk; the cold gushing water of the rivers; the timid birds that are special to the Himalayas; the silver streaks of waterfalls from distant hills; the lush green flora; besides all that , the music of silence that whiff by if one care to listen, be it day or night and the caress of the cold breeze and the howl of the icy wind at night.


This catastrophe that visited the thousands who went there believing they can buy salvation is not an exception or a misfortune that happened like an uninvited tsunami or a volcanic eruption without forewarning. Similar disasters will be visiting us in other places the Sabarimala for instance or any place where we defile nature and desecrate her.


Closing these parts of the Himalayas for religious excursions or restricting the permissible numbers a year with absolute and impeccable management of the environment must be put forward as possible solutions. Or perhaps we will never learn, understand and take not notice of the foreboding. Such is our arrogance, lust for possessions and selfishness .And in our frenzied mode for salvation we might forget to live the life here and also leave the world an inhospitable place for posterity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Snippets from a Monsoon Sojourn


“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” These are not my words and I must confess to my meager wisdom and wit. That would tell all about why I’m fascinated with quotations.

It was a pleasant stay in Kerala the past two weeks in the skin soaking ambience of the beautiful monsoon rains. When was it last, that I spent about two weeks enchanted by the monsoon spell? Must have been years ago in the past when I was in the teens. The past week, cuddled beneath the sheets in the bed at night sliding into the soothing comfort of sleep, listening to the relentless drops of rain outside was the perfect lullaby even for a middle aged fellow like I. It was then that memories of the many walks, and rides in the rain fleeted in reverse and in time through my mind. The sheer happiness of aimlessly walking about in the rains through the coconut and mango groves caressed by the overflowing ponds in Ambalpuha during the sojourns there on vacation from school; the bicycling in the rains; the ride up the mountains on the JAVA motorbikes and the honey moon ride with C to the hills in heavy rains on the Yamaha 350 cc of yore immediately after our wedding…!

“I don’t chase people when they walk away. It is not that they all are not important to me. I just believe that if they want me in their life they will stay. No questions asked.” Again not my words precisely, a quote certainly!

Over the faithful Indian whiskey at a nondescript bar in Thiruvanthapuram, one evening the previous week, I, B and my cousin and B’s name sake, let the spirit of the alcohol sink in us and used the moment to debate on the estranged marriage of the later. Little B, married a pretty lass after a chanced meeting , call it courtship or dating some thirteen years ago. What they did not realize under the unequivocal onslaught of Cupid was that there was bound to be matters of incompatibility that will act like little storms and tempest inside a wedlock. Well that stark realization may have dawned in them after the first few year of wedlock. They have two pretty little girls is a matter apart.The damsel prefers to don the robe of the "damsel in distress"(sic),while the fellow seems to be wearing the cloak of  the innocent and the offended. The fascinating observation came from the advocate who the dame approached to be her counsel in the filing of the petition for divorce. He observed, “She was in my office and went on a monologue that seemed to never stop. She sent me a thirty page official mail citing her points and case for annulling the marriage. But I could not even in the many words she spoke and wrote, notice an iota of  substantial reason for seeking divorce”. 
To me, ironically and rather sadly they seem to be as immature as they may have been in the early days of their marriage and their courtship.

“My wife Mary and I have been married for forty- seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce , never.” Again a quote!

That brings me to the betrothal in the family and wedding bells after many long years. It was astonishing and a matter of amazement how a girl could with open heart accept a person to wed her, someone who she saw and spoke for a while on the phone a little before and after the complete approval from her parents.  Does this expressively rubbish the dating, living together and amorous courtships that precedes betrothal and marriage  and are an accepted aspect in the West , while increasingly replicated in India, these days? It is quite a wonder how the physical law of gravitation and attraction works in the matters of earthlings!

Now the ultimate quote of Osho! ”If you love a person, how can you destroy his or her freedom? If you trust a person, you trust her or his freedom too.”
Osho continues,"One day it happened that a man came to me who was really in a mess, very miserable. And he said, 'I will commit suicide.'
I said, 'Why?'
He said, 'I trusted my wife and she have betrayed me. I had trusted her absolutely and she has been in love with some other man. I will commit suicide' he said.
I said, 'You say you trusted her?'
He said, 'Yes, I trusted her and she betrayed me.'
What do you mean by trust?—some wrong notion about trust; trust also seems to be political.
'You trusted her so that she would not betray you. Your trust was a trick. Now you want to make her feel guilty. This is not trust.'
He was very puzzled. He said, “If this is not trust? I trusted her unconditionally.'
I said, 'If I were in your place, trust would mean to me that I trust her freedom, and I trust her intelligence, and I trust her loving capacity. If she falls in love with somebody else, I trust that too. She is intelligent, she can choose. She is free, she can love. I trust her understanding.'

“And if she finds that she would like to move into love with somebody else, it is perfectly okay. Even if you feel pain, that is your problem; it is not her problem. And if you feel pain, that is not because of love that is because of jealousy. What kind of trust is this, that you say it has been betrayed? My understanding of trust is that it cannot be betrayed. By its very nature, by its very definition, trust cannot be betrayed. It is impossible to betray trust. If trust can be betrayed, then it is not trust. Think over it.If I love a woman, I trust her intelligence infinitely. And, if in some moments she wants to love somebody else, it is perfectly good. I have always trusted her intelligence. She must be feeling like that. She is free. She is not my other half, she is independent. And when two persons are independent individuals, only then there is love. Love can flow only between two freedoms.”

I write this few hours after posting the Post and coming back to read it all over again  I wonder , if Osho's statements have clarity and if I could agree with him perse. The observation on trust seems to be fine. But this acceptance of liberalism in letter and spirit in the name of freedom and individual freedom is rather inexplicable and foggy. Don't you think so?

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.