Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Estrangement


Sometimes it seemed childish, often it was; somewhere, the reluctance to grow up, more unfortunately pettiness and the amour propre -the ‘I’ out shadowing the ‘Us’.

“You know, it seems true it seldom can be fifty-fifty in a marriage”. She said.                                   “It can only be disproportionate, how so ever passionate and liberal one may be. That counts for both man and woman. It could only be sixty-forty or thirty seventy”. She paused, her eyes were brimful with tears but she would never shed, she held them back with amazing grace and painfully. I felt uncomfortable looking into her eyes, miserable that I could not offer much for comfort, except an occasional mutter, “It will be alright soon”.                                                                                        She  said, “Infatuation cannot afflict adults. Can it? But then in one’s teen how adult could one be?  It was falling in love; someone has to first, right? I don’t know if we fell in it the same instant or was I awed by his youthful charm, his enamouring self, candour and spirit that were lively?”
I told her I knew bits and pieces of their romance, the long courtship and then the fairy tale wedding itself. She cast way a promising career for a life with him. She put him on a pedestal. She ignored oblique misgivings passed about him while they were courting.  She decided that she would work very, very hard to keep things aloft if unpleasantness came about in their lives and she did. But she did that through silence. Ignoring and acquiescing often his infractions, his levity and his irresponsibleness, his waywardness and most of all his lack of openness that was always so in matters that concerned her, them and their children. That was very unlike him while they were courting. That was the mistake she did – the silence and wishing away and that has now come to torment her. He sailed along with not much understanding for her and her feelings. He was too preoccupied with his wide circle of friends, his increasing public importance as a young celebrity. To him she and her devotion to him was a fait accompli. It was a fairy tale beginning that did not quite tread the fairytale path as it moved forward in life. But he did not notice and she hoped it will reverse back on fairytale course.

It is hard to be torn between them two, for he is a  good friend and she attracts the respect that a dignified lady would. “Why don’t you talk to him? Make him sit here on the sofa, or at the dining table, have food together, talk over the difficulties, your feelings, apprehensions and loneliness. Make him understand what you folks are missing and there is more to life and family than a bunch of friends and acquaintances?”

“Hmm I have tried that in vain. But when do I get to see him. Off he goes at 9 and might or might not hop in for lunch, if he does he takes a nap and he is gone coming back after his usual revelry with friends at the club. It will be past midnight and I will have slept after staying awake as long as I could with dinner for the two of us on the table. He must think that his wife is at home. When children were growing up, I had enough to bother about and his absence or indifference did not matter much. My hands were full. Now they are gone and I’m left to sit and stare at the empty wall in front.” She said while she deftly touched the corner of her eye and with the tip of her little finger gently wiped the tear that would have dropped down her cheek. The élan and deftness of a danseuse was evident in her eyes and even in her fingers while she did that and when she gestured while speaking. “You would not do what he does. Would you?” She asked softly and enquiringly, she knew the answer.”You will not. Anyone who loves his family, hold it dear will not. I do not matter a wee bit in his scheme of things. I’m just a marionette, dancing , walking, running, sitting and going wherever he wants me to accompany.”

It is difficult to take sides here, though one may. The difficulty is his resentment sound so true while he confesses his mind and at the same time one feels that she is justified while listening to her. He blames it on her for being lazy and disinterested in activities.”Why could not she promote a school for dance?  Her reputation on its own will ensure a decent attendance?”                                         “Yes, precisely the question I asked her.” I said.                                                                             “And what did she say?”                                                                                                           “Nothing. Silence!” I said.                                                                                                                        “Exactly, what I want to tell you. She knows nothing. She just will not heed, listen.” He said.                                                                                                                                                     "But why don’t you discuss matters with her, your finance, your business? You see sharing your burden, your stress and strain of life with your partner makes a lot of difference. It enlivens the bond, the closeness. Man, you look half more than your age."                                                                          “Closeness, my foot, she will not understand all that. I see, you seem to have been carried away by her tale.” He sort of accused me.                                                                                                                “Look man as far as I can see, I do not feel happy about this discord in your midst. The quality time you spend with her is little. I’m certain you do not eat together. It is pretty true that a family that dines together stays together.” These are not little children to be told all this. Grown up folks!

 I tried to make her understand the professional talent that she was wasting. She need not have to sit back and rue what he does and what he does not do, curse her loneliness and the idiosyncrasies he has, (to put it politely). Yes it is true that he cannot draw the line between their lives and what that he is intoxicated about – his friends. To him acquaintances are friends. That sounds dismaying and discomforting. When she narrated about how some idiots, his friends move about with scant regard to her privacy and the privacy of her home, I could only wonder why such an intelligent respected fellow as her husband could be so thoughtless. It was gauche and intrusive of those fellows to be so impertinent, but then why invite people lacking social polish and etiquette to your privacy?             "I do not blame them. I blame my spouse. He ought not to have let them cross the living room. No woman other than I would swallow such graceless, cheeky behaviour even if the person is his bosom friend as he claims. I have been seeing this and bearing this excessive indulgence from the day I stepped into his life as his wife. His spread -out arms to every urchin- friends as he calls them embolden some that they show annoying impudence.”                                                                        “A friend would not be so cheeky.” I said.                                                                                                “Tell me what I should do when he is so indifferent and naïve? Oh it cannot be naiveté, a man of his age? Come-on people grow up. Wouldn’t they?” She was, I noticed quite indignant. Her eyes betrayed streak of disgust, like that swift display of intense emotion in the eyes of a bhrathanatyam danseuse enacting a moment of disgust and distaste.                                                   “It is plain and simple disregard, for his wife. It is as if I do not matter to him. I’m just a piece to showcase and I have been aware and have been so all these years. It is out of my volition because there is nothing I can do.”




Sunday, November 1, 2015

Badi dur se aaye hai pyaar ka.......



Some time ago a bloke observed that my blogs and the words I often use are so strong that they reek with venom. He suggested that by touching on such topics as I do and venting my feelings in the way I do, will corrode my mind. I agree partly. The topics I have blogged have been sometimes negative because they were part of life’s experience and that was also because one cannot be chasing butterflies all the while. That will be negation of a kind. I blog what I muse, what I experience. If expressing strongly on a subject is afflictive, corrosive and retrogressive, well what then is there to individual freedom to be expressive in the first place? There is satisfaction in being candid how so ever intense the unpleasantness that may evoke.

I was thinking in these lines and even the previous post I have on this Blog is the product of anguish resulting in face impudence.  It was then that I was invited to a birthday party and a musical night yesterday. I have been to that musical event (which is a monthly affair) a few times before as invitee. This time around it was at the invitation of a gentleman with whom I chanced to have some time at the club the past week. Though we have met often, nothing beyond a nod of acknowledgement had transpired between us. In course of this chat which was for more than an hour we spoke about few things. We spoke about his deceased brother who was incidentally known to me. The agony he and his mother went through, the marriage (providentially) of the girl who was betrothed to his brother, so on and about life. He has enough wealth to not bother about earning a living and he turned sixty that day.  While we were chatting his wife called him on the mobile and enquired if he would be in time for dinner. He told her to go ahead with her food and that he was with someone who knew his brother. His only child a girl was married and settled elsewhere. He however expressed that he often feels that there is something he his missing. I suggested he travel a bit, even if it is alone.  “Solitude that you get in travel cannot be matched”. I told what I have heard and read travelers say. He was not sure what he might be missing. But he said something is half full.

Before we parted for the night he invited me to the musical event on Saturday and that would also be the occasion for his birthday party. That was how, I went there yesterday as guest. As I mentioned I was at the event a few occasions before as guest of another friend and class mate who is also one of the organisers. The group is called “Reminiscence”. A sizable group of music lovers who are in their mid-thirties and all the way up to people who are retired and septuagenarians too! They get together along with spouses at a local hotel every last weekend Saturday. The three hour programme of songs with live orchestra ends with a decent buffet dinner. Spirit is served along. The songs can be from any Indian language and mostly film songs. Since the members themselves are singers the amateur talent middle aged and old are conspicuous by their presence. So are the golden numbers from as early as of the 1940’s and 1950’s from Hindi, Tamil & Malayalam.

It was heartening to see people in their sixties trod up and sing melodious numbers of Mukesh, Mannadey or T.M Soundarajan and P.Susheela. I was wondering the power music has to bring together people. Nobody seemed to be talking about age or feeling old. The positive air was vivid and everyone seemed to be standing on a plank of avidity. There is a retired pediatrician, septuagenarian who had looked after both my son and daughter. I told him that. He played admirably some old Hindi numbers on his mouth organ, besides a Mannadey number- a duet with an elegant and pretty lady. He was a living proof that all doctors are not boring, dreary dull headed, hot headed folks. Besides, the banter and jokes that were passed along was I felt taking repose.

The eldest in the group was a gentleman in his early eighties. He was attending the session after a couple of months of illness. He said that the first act of his when his doctor approved of him to leave home was to jump into the car and attend the evening’s programme. He sang a few lines in admirably intense and aged voice. "Badi dur se aaye hai pyaar ka tofa laaye hain
 Apana lo ya thukara do, pyaar ka tofa laaye hain
 Badi dur se aaye hai, pyaar ka tofa laaye hain”.

He reminisced about his attending a concert of Muhammed Raffi way back in the seventies in Chicago. When Raffi began the concert with this wonderful ode of love, the audience irrespective of race and that included many Pakistanis too, erupted swaying deliriously in ubiquitous joy. It was rupture he said like a mammoth dam breaking open.  In passing he lamented, “Alas, look how now music is being comparatmentalised and singers banned from singing”.

The power of music is transcendental; it has healing and soothing powers that no parochial ideology can resist. I came back as during the previous times without my noticing a sprint in my step. There are always brighter ways to deal with life in midstream or when you are bowing down into the horizon. That is certain.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Impudence


Few characteristics that are bane and causes of annoyance are impudence, vainglory, disdain- disdain for others and refusal to respect systems- a fussy contrariness, besides some other one can think of. I mention these now because of a spectacle from the recent past. It was enactment of churlishness most annoying. Who says that pedigree, grooming education and public position would erase these egregious qualities? Or do they plague in the course of living? When Euripides said, “impudence is the worst of all human diseases”, he was simply stating a fact. Wasn’t he?

Frailty is not a quality that afflicts only women as the Bard would want us to believe. Men are not impervious or immune to infirmity. And when a woman with the qualities mentioned above also  possess the guile to enamour   and ensnare then frail men melt, faster than a block of ice on a summer afternoon; they forget their social status , professional positions and respect they enjoy , the responsibility  they have and the élan they must display in words and deeds. They simply become living examples of gauche.

And when you react from your position of responsibility against the boorishness of the woman, the frail little men who melt at her mere glance will fret fume and point back at their chest with their index finger and moan that you stabbed them there. For they allege that you hurt them, discredited them when you asked the intruder whom they let in illicitly that she must quit the place where she had no right to be. That is also when she would have realised that her beguiling charm and shenanigans interest only the impotent lot among men and entrap only such men.

Sounds abstract? Perhaps!  But putting it differently would mean telling bluntly.




Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wagha



What should I write? A few years back, blogging was a pastime and one blog every three days was the norm.  There was no dearth of topics and subjects to muse over and pen. Alas, over the past couple of years it has been a downhill journey for blogging. Bloggers who were regular on the blogs with their comments, both critical and endorsing have vanished from blogging.  There were some who took umbrage at one’s comment and posts; they were pathetic- they have vanished too into newer pastures. Perhaps they all were a source of encouragement to blog and their vanishing act has dent the enthusiasm to blog?

It is now vitiated days. One has to be watchful of what one speaks and writes; worse of what one speak out, think or even acknowledge with the “like” in facebook. If in the blogs it was stray idiots who refused to accept difference of opinion or a honest critique and took “holier than thou” airs, now it is the whole society in hordes and the government too who disapprove any disagreement with the established ways.
But has the society changed? I guess no. It has been so. Matters were subsumed. It is only that the catalyst agent came about and dusted up the dormant wiggles that now have grown into Frankenstein proportion.

Intolerance and prejudice have been about. Let me mention an incident which can be an anecdote too. Once a few us were having a good evening over spirits and this guy who was back from a journey was fuming over what he saw at the Wagha border during the ceremonial lowering of the flags and beating retreat. He expressed his distress and annoyance at the ‘vulgar ceremony’ as he put it- when border guards of India and Pakistan glare at each other and shake hands brusquely. He reminisced with great satisfaction a toddler sitting in the lap of her parent on the Pakistan side of the border smile and wave at him- a stark contrast to the ceremonial play of animosity by the guards. He wanted the ceremony to be shelved.  I couldn’t disagree with him about the frivolity of the enmity between the neighbours and the unwarranted ceremony that must be jettisoned. Another friend disagreed with him and laughed away the former’s opinion. He asked what was wrong in a dramatising  the ceremony for a bit of fun and all the onlookers do acknowledge the lighter side of the ceremony. The former was angered and took offence. He could not tolerate a dissonant opinion, a disagreement. He was a changed person then and had a ghostly expression which resembled the want to strangulate the fellow who disagreed with him. That was the last time we all sat together as this bloke’s cussedness keeps him away from people who he knows would question and disagree.

What reminds one more is not the well meaning position he took about the need to put a stop to the obscene ceremony, but the fellow’s intolerant and saturnine side that doesn’t allow him to accept disagreement. Unabashed intolerance! There are many of his kind. And it isn’t the fault of Narendra Modi that they are abound. But it is indeed Mr. Modi’s success that saw such dormant intolerance surface. All that he did was fan the ember. Water and fan seeds of intolerance with religion and jingoism then you get a Kafkaesque concoction.

I would not mind a ban on bovine slaughter and protection of milch beasts in the country as long as they can ensure that the meat is imported for those of us who love it and provided at the current price. Let them ban slaughter of milch animals or cows quoting their scriptures or the directive principles of the constitution. As much as they have the right to detest cow meat or bacon there are many who have the equal right to like them. I only ask my fundamental right be not violated- freedom to eat beef or food I relish. This right is non-negotiable, for what is one man’s food is another man’s poison. Intolerance cannot gain such proportion as to dictate to me what I must think, speak, eat and drink, when to have sex when to abstain; who to wed and who to live with; which God I must supplicate to, deny my right to be distanced from religion similar rubbish; read the book I love and critique, ignore the ones I dislike even if it is  the Vedas, Gita, Koran or the Bible and the persons too for what they stand for, draw the cartoon I like. As long as I do no crime, incite hatred or violence, thieve, rape or murder, defraud, my freedom to live and enjoy life in a way that I see and make my life worth living cannot be eroded by any government, or even God or men who sow divisiveness in the name of God and creed.

Indeed all of us do feel miserable when we face disagreements. But ignoring a person who disagrees with you, treating him as if he were plague and pariah is inherent weakness. It can be accentuated by indoctrination and also dishonesty in what one says and claim to be living for. It’s an offshoot of fear and lack of belief in oneself. If one disagrees why not accept a discussion and put across your reason for disagreement? Why not learn to live with disagreement? It is not possible to convince everybody of one’s ways and opinions. To think and say that I’m unquestionable, my belief is sacrosanct is like the proverbial adage-“after me deluge”. If I keep running from disagreements and differences of opinion then I may be literally running all my life towards Timbuktu or the edges of the world.
 It is the hallmark of the meek.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Growing up with Chalk & Cheese


Not many would vouch that living about almost two decades with parents can be among the pleasurable experiences. If there happened to be monster breathing down your neck- an overbearing grandparent or a cantankerous, impertinent and bossy aunt or uncle well then it is a certain rendition that can unnerve you even in middle age.

Sometimes if one is fortunate the sternness of a parent may be lessened by the subtle empathy of the other. Absolute misery is it when parents in tandem are dictatorial. Then it is tyrannical! ”Les Misérables”!

The more fortunate ones get to stay in college and school hostels, There getting around with the warden overburdened with a few scores of young fellows is easier than sneaking away on escapades from home. If you are not fortunate then the angst and alienation that shadow you during adolescence and teen are often unnoticed or ignored by parents. Just a few, I guess seem to be on the right side with luck, where parent or one of the parents is always around for comfort. Chalk and cheese they are more often!

An old friend narrated to me recently an interesting episode from her teens. By the way the parents of this person were perhaps ahead of their generation, especially her mother who was an exemplary, woman. Self-assured, confident of herself and her kids, warm and understanding about her children and their friends, articulate in what she expresses and unequivocally blinkered in outlook and judgement. Though, she in her own words told me that she had to pop a couple of valium pills when I told her that I was going to marry a catholic girl. But then that is a different story.

Coming back to the story I mentioned, this young girl was sent to Chennai to study for the Chartered Accountant examination. Those days, back in the early eighties, there were no mobile phones and the trunk or STD dialing boasted by the sole provider of telephone service - the Telegraph department was antediluvian in every respect. Which meant that to get an approval from home for something that you are not sure of will take about a week to be conveyed by post to you in Chennai from say Trivandrum. That required one to cross one’s fingers and do what first comes to the mind.

I guess I moved away from the subject yet again. This young friend was pretty weak in math and she would have ghoulish nightmares even a week before the math examination in school. Now, adding to her misery and utter consternation calculus and trigonometry besides statistics were subjects that she had to digest if she wanted to stand some little chance of qualifying in the Chartered Accountant examination. As luck would have it she was told by someone that there was a teacher who was very good at teaching math and he specialised coaching students planning to give the CA examination. However, the only clue to his whereabouts was that he lived somewhere near the police station in Vadaplaani, then a suburb of Chennai.

The young lady took off in the direction of Vadplani and after an arduous, futile hunt in the sweltering weather for the math teacher she walked into the police station. A lone teenage girl nonchalantly walking into the police station sent the constables scampering hither tither, and curious, some with their door handle whiskers and some with their ubiquitous potbellies preceding them.

Tamil policemen though no symbols of goodness have in them some cultural fallout that Tamilnad have, they sort of respect women unlike the Jat policeman in places like New Delhi.
“Enna amma, enavenam?” (Dear woman what do you want?) Asked one of the policemen. Another asked rather surprised by the cheekiness of the girl to walk in to the police station. “ enna amma unkku konjamkoode bhayam illaya , ondiya police stationulley nuzhayarathukku?” (Dear girl tell me are you not afraid to be here alone?).

She was rather perplexed by these candid queries. She said. “Why must I be frightened? I’m her to know if you gentlemen can direct me to the math master who takes classes for CA students. I’m told that he lives near this police station. By the way I understand that police station is meant to be place of assistance to people, so why must I be frightened of you guys?”  


In no time she was taken to the master’s house in a police vehicle and pleasantly seen off by the constables. Later when the matter was told to her parent’s two distinctly contrasting replies came across by post. The first was from her father. It read,” Dear girl, you did the right thing in going to the police station; when in doubt check with the authorities.” The message from her mother read, “My girl that was the most silliest of things one could do. Never, ever walk into a police station all alone.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pretensions


Most of us will have had the misfortune to live disgusting moments watching folks flaunt their wealth- writing away cheques to the Church, other religious and charitable endowments. Their face mulched with haughtiness, moue and with glee. A certain satisfaction would writ in their face and comforts their mind coming to think that the apparent act of benevolence would cocoon them from nemesis. Further it is the adulation that comes when the act of munificence is publicised. Finally, the thought of the eulogies that would be incessantly read out in memorial services after they are gone! They will enjoy the vainglory even as they lay putrefacient in their graves! The philanthropists!
Philanthropy as practiced often shamelessly is as lascivious as philandering. I just cannot tell between the two, see any difference. Both are indulged in, one to satisfy the ego and the later gagging. And some folks do both.

However some are different and this guy is quite different. He cannot be called a philanthropist, because he doesn’t think that giving is the ultimate act of charity. In fact, he believes that the act of giving must make a substantial change in the life of the receiver. Failing which it is just an empty act like the ostensible statutory reservation that is provided to socially backward people in education and jobs in government.

Going back to his tale of riches from an ordinary middle class existence some twenty five odd years ago one feels envious and at the same time awe. He told me about the specter of future staring without bating its eyes. He was married and the young bride and he were travelling by train from Vizag to Kerala precariously perched on top of their steel trunks that held their belongings inside an overcrowded, smelly second class compartment. The future looked bleak. He was out of job and was not certain if he could collect the small capital that two of his friends suggested he bring so that they could begin a venture. The only source of income was the job his wife had as the teacher in a government owned Engineering college. It was then quite meager, but handy nevertheless and very vital.

From there, in a while life took a turn that he and his wife could not fathom. The business that he began with his partners flourished and exponentially too. Within a few years they spread overseas. A new life with remarkable shift, riches and money flowing in copiously and it continues. It is indeed different in a rich man’s world he would say later.It seemed almost like little Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a wonderland.

Now in the mid fifties he opined that matters like success and money are irrelevant to him. It has been so he says since long. He began practicing the art of giving after him, one day some fifteen years ago asked his wife if she really wanted to keep the job she had. Money was no more a necessity for her to be working. Children were growing and she could probably blend as a home maker. Besides inquisitive and intrusive opinions were passed in the family and among friends about her being employed and they alleged too greedy and self serving that she has little time to care for her family. She told him that she would like to keep the job, not for the money, but because of the passion she has for the profession- for teaching. Then, the very moment he suggested that she foregoes her monthly pay from the university and give it to students who are genuinely in need of financial support. Since that day, he said, it has been fifteen years and she would not touch a nickel from her pay cheque and personally ensured to credit the bank accounts of children who were finding it difficult to pay fees and other cost.

That was just one case of his voluntary promotion of human welfare. He dislikes limelight and as in his own words the left hand  shouldn't be told about what the right gives away.

There is something else besides money that can come to the aid of people. I saw used that well in him intervening as a good Samaritan and counselor when hard times and difficult issues almost plowed down the family of a good friend. Isn’t it so very true that the greatness of a man is not how much of wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and ability to affect those around him positively?


The wads of note one throws into the cash pots in places of worship, the large cheques signed off to prelates, the ostensible charity all which many do are seldom done out of love for the disadvantaged but as insurance against the malice and wretchedness that  in many cases are their associates and as a passport to a nonexistent paradise in the netherworld. But there are a few exceptions, I suppose.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vain & Ostenatious



It sounds quite a right when we hear someone say, ‘It is my money, what I earned out of my labour and I‘d use it the way I want. No one can question my right to burn my wealth; I might give it away, might want to be voluptuary with it- live in a palace made of gold and eat off glittery gold plates’.
People who speak thus could be anybody who is seated on mountain of wealth- it could be the Kalayan Jewelers family hosting the Big B, Benny Hinn the evangelist healer (sic), the Ambanis or the most fraudulent of species- politicians in whose case the only knowhow to accumulate wealth is to steal, pilfer, rob the masses and purloin.

However, I feel the statement and thought that it is my money and my right to indulge with it is flawed and obnoxious. How can we say that gilded and opulent living, a life style that is utterly, utterly epicurean and extravagant is morally agreeable? Just because it is one’s own money, one’s own (call it) hard earned wealth- a product of sweat and toil or because it is one’s heirloom one has the inviolable and unquestionable right to be voluptuous with it?

Indeed wealth or the money wealth generates can be used to buy, possess and experience pleasures of the mind, body and most of all gratify vanity. The last mentioned- vanity, is indeed what drives people to indulge, to swank, to swagger. But can one claim that as absolute right?
Now, we need to think about the resources that went into the generation of the wealth that we decide to use to satiate our greed and vanity. Are they exclusively – morally and ethically ours for a price? Do we possess the right to hoard and squander resources that are scarce because one may be sitting on wealth as rich as that in Fort Knox? Can we trivialise the labour of many by placing a price? Can we ear mark the produce of labour and resources that are natural and products that are made, to which there are a million others who have the right to, but not the means.

I had a very animated and hot discussion with a young woman on the topic. It pertained to the picture and the news report of the Kalyan Jewelry family hosting Amitabh Bachan. The dinner was served in dishes plated with gold and resembled the sumptuous feasts that we have seen in Hollywood flicks that tells about medieval period intrigues. I expressed that it was vulgar display of vanity and wealth. My young companion vehemently disagreed and she said, it cannot be bad because what one does with one’s money is one’s prerogative. If I disliked opulence and did not wish to be ostentatious so be it and that I have no right to criticise the other and call it vulgar or vain.

We moved on arguing our sides. The question of opulent weddings came up; the obscene concrete home of the Ambani’s – “The Antilla” overlooking the slums of Mumbai came up; the ecclesiastical vulgar pomp of the evangelist Benny Hinn and the Vatican  was thrown across by me as some examples of what should not be the life’s statement. However we just could not agree, but she stressed that she may not display such ostentation but at the same time she could see nothing wrong if someone who is rich indulged.

The vulgarity of ostentation was something which she could not understand and disapprove. Perhaps it takes quite a bit of life to reverse her understanding and honestly feel different to people who are arrogant in their use of wealth.



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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Piss Boys



“Hour of the Second Defecation” (disconcertingly an hour earlier than usual for his evening …abulations). Dharmapuri is a country where even every last of the President’s excrement is venerated (they take their shit seriously in Dharmapuri….) and each bowel movement examined by the press (“’Magnificent, said one; ’great stability,” said a second) - - - suggesting that this has become a land of mindless, groveling courtiers, oblivious to reality. (O.V.Vijayan in “Saga of Dharmapuri”).

Yes, this is the land of groveling courtiers dressed in khaki and olive green overalls and of piss boys in uniform, holding piss buckets for ministers donning cotton spun white wears known by the desi name ‘khadhi’;  cowering, hovering with piss pots minding the piss buckets for the Lordships to pee, because no one can tell when their bladders get filled with the pale yellow urine, distilled in their kidneys served with the exotic food and spirits that they devour with tax payers money; when it will be time to jet it out- the stinking excretion of a depraved species. When the Lordships pass by and even if you happened to be pissing you got to hold back your piss as a gesture of veneration & respect and salute them, the Lordships. For only the Lordships can piss when they want and where they want.

It is in such a society that Rishi Raj Singh the policeman dared to mind his business seated firmly in his chair and ignored the arrival of the tutorial school teacher turned home minister and wealthy politician who walked by, escorted by police officers virtually massaging him from toe to groin. Outrage and incense were the reaction from the political class who were used to police officers squirm and tremble in their presence, bending backward and forward, sideways and levitate too at their beckoning and often wetting their underpants in abject fear and debased.

Rishi Raj Singh the above board police officer from Rajasthan went by the protocol book which dictates that a guest need not stand up to salute an elected representative and sat firmly in the chair as the State Home minister later stepped in on the scene escorted by a retinue of supplicating imbeciles clad in khaki; holding piss buckets. This was branded as disrespect towards an elected representative and abominable arrogance of a police officer who will keep his job only at the will and pleasure of the elected representatives. The State was offended said some as it was an affront to the State & its 70 million Mallus and not just to the Home minister.

Rishi Raj Singh stuck to what was laid down in the protocol book. But in a country where politicians and elected assholes take it upon themselves as the birth right to defecate and demand that bureaucrats scoop their pooh it was seen as an offence second to caricaturing the prophet of Islam. It was only a few months ago a young Administrative officer was pulled up for donning sunglasses while shaking hands with the prime minister.

It is a sad reminder of the pathetic abyss of our times that Rishi Raj Sigh was moved out from the position of transport commissioner and recently as the chief vigilance officer of the state Electricity board because he was booking powerful weasels who had defaulted payment to the board and were also stealing power from transmission lines. Earlier, as the transport commissioner when he insisted that passengers travelling by car must wear seat belts, the minister in charge was annoyed and chose to reverse a sane order.

Leaving aside the book rules and niceties of protocol I wonder if any self respecting person will want to salute this awful species we call politicians. The very sight of these scoundrels walking by would make one writhe in disgust and utter helplessness. Recently in the USA, President Obama was chastised for not saluting the Marine who was in attention by the Air force 1, helicopter that was to fly the president out. That sounded wise and just- the president or the elected representative saluting the Marine. After all it is the soldier and the police who are at the receiving end of fire and not these parasites that are often well cocooned inside state mansions and steel armoured bullet proof motor cars. They always maintain a human shield.

It also is laid down that traffic should be stopped only when the president, prime minister and visiting foreign dignitaries travel by road. Which means that no one should hold back pedestrian and vehicle movement to make way for other persons and that certainly include state chief ministers, central ministers and even governors?

It is time that well meaning denizens reacted in face of the arrogant ways of this abhorrent lot. But, then is it not true that we get to be ruled by men we deserve and in democracy aren’t we electing our representatives who in body, mind and deed are us- our reflection, our shadow? Why then wail?







Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Greek Tragedy



The last few weeks, in the Western print and visual media we have seen a feast of commentaries on the Greek tragedy. The Indian press, baring a few of substance and the visual news media were totally oblivious to the tumult in Greece. As usual they had ample matters to feed upon that were of local flavour. There was also a fair bit of postings and comments on the social media too on Greek bankruptcy.

In the end though I had devoured most of the lead articles and the incisive reporting of the BBC, I simply cannot help not wondering about the Greek economic mess as simple issue of a recalcitrant borrower who displays arrogance and  a fair bit of credit immorality. The leftists, people like Noam Chomsky and the capitalist baiters will disagree and say that it is grossly offensive to brand the Greek attitude as  dishonourable unwillingness to repay debts. Astonishingly, I have not seen an article from the quintessential Arundhati Roy who would generally have reveled in an opportunity to blast Western economic policies directed at developing economies.

One need not have to be an Adam Smith or a Keynesian disciple to discern the Greek mess and it should not take a great deal of acumen to see that whosoever lives beyond their means- be it an individual or a country as a whole, capitalists, communist or socialists you will soon reach a cul de sac and have your back against the granite wall; lenders will snarl and all hell will break loose. Further lending will generally be ruled out in case of individuals whilst corporates and governments will have to sing the tough tunes lenders dictate. It is simple reasoning here that nobody wills, to throw good money after bad money unless strict assurance is available. Then, why are the cries of betrayal and cries of capitalist conspiracy? Did we hear a murmur of disapproval when the lenders were letting credit lines open to Greece and the ECB was generous?

This reminds me of the Indian situation which is akin to the EU. Many states have run up dangerous levels of overdrafts with the Central government and in a way is forcing printing of money .Monetary policies like that the ECB prescribed for its members including Greece was negated by the latter’s  fiscal application. Going slow, weak and timid on tax collection is all the more dangerous for a State for instance like Kerala that has no industrial output to bring in revenue.  In the case of Greece, one could watch on television that citizens were aware of the hole their country had got into and the austerity & belt tightening they will have to grin and bear. Back here we simply are oblivious to economics and are gaga when corrupt, dishonest and inefficient governments in States keep providing doles and freebies. Every meal that is free will have to fetch resources from elsewhere to make it stay free!

At the end of the acrimony with Greece will there be an honest and dispassionate appraisal of what went wrong for the Greeks to be indebted by over more than 350 billion Euro? Indeed the multi- billion dollar Athen Olympics was a luxury that wrought deep holes in Greek pockets. Like the Roman denizens twenty one days of round the clock circus briefly cast away reality. But that was just one of the many leaks and extravaganzas for which Greeks may have used borrowed money.

I was reminded of this necessary inquisition by a real time story of how a galloping business entity that nose-dived? Fortunately for the promoters the Banks intervened favourably and offered a life line of credit restructuring. Meaning to include the precise antidote ECB might prescribe for the Greeks – strict austerity and deferred interest and debt repayment.But here again neither the Banks nor the promoters seemed to investigate how the mess came about? The safeguard against the repetition of history is to find the culprit within if not show him the door.
There is indeed a simple quotidian moral in this Greek tragedy.




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MCP



“You see, what you convey in English need not necessarily sound polite and civil when you convey the same in other languages.”  She made a statement of sorts and without waiting for my reaction continued, “In fact it can be gauche and rude too. So you really cannot blame her for being annoyed. “I protested, yet when you are confronted by two women and when they are mother and daughter duo it is forbidding and you can be sure that all your remonstration and explanation will be in vain. You simply can’t reason with these folks. They are crafted to wear you down.

I could not understand this reasoning. Just could not. So, I was in no mood to throw the towel and relent to this nonsensical talk and lecture the duo have prepared to wear me down with. I minced no words and said. “Ok, ok, even agreeing with your decision on the choice and use of phrases, when you tell someone  ‘fuck you’, in English and when you transliterate the phrase into Malayalam or Tamil and even Hindi for instance, the meaning and the menacing intent is the same as long as you pepper your voice with baleful  intent. Yet you could tell someone ‘fuck you’, with enough punch to make him or her understand that what he or she is up to is stupid and can’t be approved, but no menacing, sinister intent is harboured.”

“Hear; hear you can never agree that you are in the wrong. You are all excited when you have done something bad. You do not own up and you simply argue.” They said in union. But the younger one was more vocal. I turned to her and repeated what sparked the conversation or argument in their parlance. “Come on, if I had told the girl, ‘stop chattering’ in Queens English, certainly you folks would have had nothing to say. Not that the intent is evil and rude when conveyed in Malayalam and elite when said in English. Moreover she is a girl who is about your age and with the same irritating recalcitrance as you display and when I told her to shut up and listen I was in fact admonishing her for being brusque and jumping the gun than listen carefully to what  I tried to convey to her over the phone.”

“Nevertheless, the language- the word you used is not acceptable, even if she is a young subordinate, an apprentice or whatever.” This was the mother‘s judgement. With these folks around, one gets the feeling of being marooned in a Central African Banana Republic and facing a Kangaroo court.
“No wonder she called you MCP when she heard you speak so to that girl your subordinate.” That was the daughter and she said with a chuckle.

“I don’t care a damn what she thinks about me, because she is presumptuous.  And you folks simply refuse to see and are prejudiced towards whatever I say. She just had no idea about in what circumstance I told so to that girl and what was the conversation transpiring between us. She simply acted like an overbearing matron. Moreover I do not see an eye to eye with her. We are just not homogenous. But for her to label me a chauvinist is boorish.Ca you tell one instance when you found me a male chauvinistic filthy boar?” I directed that question to the mother.
I continued. ”I have quite a few women friends and have good relationship with them. None would call me such sardonic names. Go ask them if I’m chauvinistic male boar. What she said reflects her arrogance, her disdain for others. Because she could have her way with one, she thinks she could lord over the rest too. I care a hoot."

“Yes do that, after all you always think you are right. You argue for the sake of proving your point. You don’t see if you are right. All that you do is yelling and raise your voice. In the bargain you raise your blood pressure.” I do not remember who stated this as the mauling was a joint exercise, I did not keep much tab as to who was punching below the belt.


“Indeed, I argue. I argue when I believe in something passionately and want to put forth my reason, my point. I raise my voice to emphasise the point and you allege that is screaming and yelling. If one can’t discuss and if you see an argument as a quarrel and an exercise that will only result in raised blood pressure and bad blood, well, then one must tape ones mouth with adhesive tape and wear blinkers too. A handful of cotton screwed into the ears would also ensure that all that is, is sound and voices, opinions are shut out. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Musings of Amour & the Unkind


There is one friend who latches on to philosophical discourse whenever we sit down for an evening sundowner. His memory is sharp and he quotes from varied sources. He has very valid, practical and sometimes questionable outlook towards life and death. He is not worried or afraid of the end of life. He asserts borrowing from Athenian philosopher, “The hour of departure has arrived and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live. Which of these is better, who could tell?”

Indeed one could never tell! Yet, sometimes we can presume and sometimes we can tell too.                A couple of incidences in recent time have been telling. It is scary, unpredictable this phase called old age. But, also then as this diminutive fellow often argues, every next moment is scary because its unpredictability and one need not wait to be in old age to feel the anxiety. Nemesis can catch up with us any moment. But we continue to move on oblivious and apathetic. Quite a truism!

When we live in a non-welfare State, the odds that are stacked against us are enormous. A few months ago when my mother was hospitalised with acute pneumonia, the odds in her favour was almost bleak. It became less than pale when she had a secondary infection. When life is supported by an invasive apparatus and even physicians unable to tell how long the patient would need the aid of ventilator to survive, if at all he/she survived- as days and weeks go by, there comes a moment when we ask to particularly no one, how long can we financially sustain this cost?

A week ago, a not so aged close relative was felled by acute hemorrhage in the brain while he was revelling with his two little grandsons. He now lies in hospital after a life saving surgery and solely aided by the ventilator that keeps him alive. Will he come out of coma? If he does what impairment will he live with? If he continues to be in coma and slip into vegetative state, how long will he survive? How long will he need medical life support to survive in a morbid existence? Now his children are by his side, but soon they may have to attend to their quotidian necessities & of livelihood and they will have to leave. How deep are their pockets to meet the medical bills? Yes indeed he is their father, but how long will they be able to sustain the medical aid, for there is no cornucopia of wealth to dive into. Deep pockets!

The questions may seem to be inappropriate; after all it is the father who is battling for life. But then glaring facts and situations can be such that there is seldom room for emotional persuasions and the so called high ground ethics and morality as we love to identify with. Not everyone is a Schumacher or Christopher Reeves to possess the resources to endlessly spend on medical assistance. At some point one will have to accept that it is a culdesac. It will be an awfully repenting and helpless situation we might find ourselves.

Aruna Shanbag was cruelly kept alive-a frozen and withered vegetable for forty two years. The nurses of the King George hospital were asinine and audacious to state that given another one hundred years they would still care to keep the unfortunate woman alive and on external  life support. Well in that case there were voluntary forums to meet the medical bill of that unethical saga enacted in the name of love, humanism, compassion and godliness. What about the cases of us, many other ordinary folks who might at some point find it a financially impossible task thrust upon us? What if we are the ones to be kept alive over the broken backs and lives of our children? Financial encumbrances in such cases will be enormous even to think of. Do we want to be kept alive and in the bargain wreck the lives of all who care for us? Do we want to be plowed under by the burden that we simply are unable to cope with- sustaining the miserable existence of the person we really love? Herein lie the irony, the tragedy of our falsehood, rhetorical frippery and malarkey-the government’s and the society’s refusal to legalise euthanasia. The fascination about life is its quality. And when the quality of life is not even remotely sensible, when the “Welfare State” is nonexistent, how can the government and the moralists deny a person’s right to dignified death? What civilised thought and law is it that would enable a government to criminalise assisted death by stopping life supporting medical intervention in cases of irretrievable physical state or in cases of financial impuissance arising out of grim and superfluous ghoulish existence, when the Government itself is unable to provide a welfare state?



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Eruption of Toba & Hinduism


We all will have multiple choices. Either he or she can keep his or her convictions or beliefs to self and ignore the tumult of dissent and disagreements around; bludgeon or hound the person who airs a different view point; still strongly express one’s conviction or opinion ( often to considerable annoyance of the other) and entice the other into a healthy argument. The first option is the corollary to being a eunuch, however broad and hairy may be one’s chest. I do not intend to commiserate with such kind. The second option is the easiest way to the ones who are feeble in mind, frail. The last option need not make you right but at least (to quote) Chinua Achebe, “To me, being an intellectual (sic) doesn’t mean knowing intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them”.

I came across a fantastic statement, best defined as an outlandish claim on the facebook wall, posted by a fellow fb user. It stated that Hindus existed in India from 74,000 years ago! Awesome discovery of anthropology, a mammoth singular feat of evolution and social living, a splendid demographic achievement that early in human history, one can presume (sic). The link in the post further moves on to atrocious claims that when the ancient volcano in Indonesia, “The Toba” erupted 70000 years ago, the cataclysmic aftermath wiped out many civilisation  and heralded a brief  volcanic winter shielding the sun out for a decade and more. Artifacts and tools besides fossils and skeletons  found in volcanic ash that was deposited in parts of India prove it goes on to claim that “Hindus “existed in India 74,000 years ago. Bizarre! What else can one say about this claim? Why not say that Hindus existed everywhere 100,000 years ago? Why not go further and claim that “Lucy” the prehistoric ancestor of human beings whose remains found in Ethiopia and who may have lived 3 million years ago was a Hindu? The agenda is to tell a concocted story, a surreal one a hundred times hoping it would be taken for real. Such an audacious claim is possible when you see as much as laughter provoking claims of aircrafts travelling transcontinental from India 100000 years ago and decapitated heads being stitched back on torsos aided by advancement in plastic surgery in ancient 

What are these folks after? Anyone with basic faculties will know that the science of archeology is the branch of anthropology that studies prehistoric people and their cultures through their material remains. One needs physical evidence or something near to it to extrapolate and not just mumbo jumbo and fantastic notions driven by outlandish ideas that are triggered by acute fanaticism and hallucination. Alas! The plan is simple. Create an eccentric theory that would keep folks in awe of the past and showcase it as historical truth so that the fact that the country is a land of immigrants is deftly set aside and erased; but was inundated by foreigners in the recent past, usurping a culture of a 100000 years.

“To comprehend the present and move towards the future requires an understanding that is sensitive, analytical and open to critical enquiry. …” says Romilla Thappar. This is what these folks make a pulp of and thereby making the study into history a mockery.

If a harmless question, whether God is a democrat could warrant a petition in court ,certainly these bizarre claims and statements should be termed offensive to basic intellect and commonsense and the ones brandishing such nonsense statements must be hauled up before law for offending commonsense.


Friday, May 15, 2015

'Hey Joe'


Someone said that life is not happening to you, but is responding to you.

When you meet the old fellow (sic) you could hardly relate that to him, though the phrase ‘old fellow’ is a misnomer here in his case, though he is eighty three. Talking to him, listening to him, watching him relish the third single malt (and nothing more than that) made me feel growing young- sort of aging backwards. At least for the short while he spent with us! After he was gone I began to think of the time spent with him, not many people would challenge you without virtually doing so to take personal responsibility for all that is wrong in your life and everything that is inordinate and derailed in the world. Without saying he conveys the truism that the world is that we create for us individually.

Joe as he is called, perhaps that is a moniker, is a  sprightly  man who would pass off to be in his teens, if his bald-pated  head and furrowed skin doesn’t tell a different story.
I met him some years ago and spent a few minutes with him. His extraordinariness as a person of gaiety touched me then too. I have been since then hearing of him from a friend who introduced me to Joe.

Joe lived most part of his adult and student life elsewhere in India, New Delhi and Kashmir being the highlights, I gather. As a young man he represented the Delhi Ranji trophy team in the 1940’s. He reminisced the times when Pataudi ( Sr) was frequent at the nets and the elite social company he kept , mostly flocked by memsahibs. He smiled mischievously while narrating the social high profile life in Lutyen’s Delhi in the 1940’s. He rubbed shoulder with Nehru and shook hands with Lord Mountbatten. His prized possession is the bloodied soil from the spot where Gandhi was shot and killed.

Joe’s father was employed up in north and that took him places, then his own job with a petroleum company made him a Mallu in love with the diversity of India and its varying geographical locations.
I can well presume that he has had his share of adversities personal and external.  While sitting with him I wondered if the aura of optimism and sheer plank of avidity that he stands upon will rub on me and the rest who often find it difficult to be even half alive, let alone to be exuberant and radiating elan vital when confronted even by the shallow irritancy of quotidian life. Robert Prigg says in his book Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “Is it hard?”  “Not if you have the right attitudes”. 

I asked him while he was helping himself with dessert after a good dinner of chicken byriani and chicken grill if he was a believer- if besides the 18 hole game of golf that he ventures to play at early dawn three times  every week, going to church was in his agenda. His reply was a wave of his hand – like you keep away an unwelcome irritant fly and slightly contorting his face he said sternly,"No”. He was not deluded, I found and that must also be the reason for his sprightly mind.




Monday, April 27, 2015

The Sophist


How many of us have taken note of the pernicious impact discourses of specious men like ZakhirNaik, Benny Hinn, who deftly practices successfully the art of malarkey and skullduggery? Indeed, I have not ignored the fact that there is now a spurt in con artists in ochre grab and ably aided by Hindutva outfits. However now I’m not intending to pen about all men of such kind. Let me stick with this self-confessed “student of comparative religious studies” (as he himself defines him) ZakhirNaik.

Even if one has distaste and detests a person or his philosophy, it is only civil and decent that one acknowledges the man’s positives. In the case of Zakhir Naik what is starkly outstanding in the vermin of the utter malarkey and lies he preaches is the amazing rote learning he has had. He can quote extempore from various texts and scriptures, mention the verse and chapter without batting an eyelid. That probably bowls over half the gullible who drool astonished and awed like mongrels on a fool moon night, at his discourse and what not. I wonder if someone ever tried to check the veracity of his blind quotes.

If one watch the YouTube clips of some of his liberally attended meetings one can see through the frailty of his contentions and how he uses the power of the number of the virtually blind and gullible folks who stand by him to brow beat any honest and skeptical questioner.

In one of the video I happened to see a young man from California ask Zakhir Naik a couple of questions. The first query was why this omnipotent God ( to read as Allah, here)who created the sky, heaven and the earth with its multitude of living forms, not create man with the power to do only what is right and only what God proposes. Why has this God not created man minus the loathly and ugly side that is the only reason for all the strife and agony? The second question was why God is a sadist, who enjoys banishing human beings to eternal hell, when he, as the creator would have the power to mould his creation without vices.

Zakhir Naik for the next twenty odd minutes went about quibbling, talking hocus-pocus and mumbo jumbo while two menacing looking men positioned on either side of the questioner. He chided the man for his doubts and went about without airing one sentence to substantiate his argument that the God of Islam is always right. Typical of the mindset that we see among fanatics and bigots of all faith! He ends his reply with the question and suggestive answer- “well now do you agree to embrace Islam and become a Muslim?

He goes on to challenge the Christian world to prove that Jesus was born on December 25. What he conveniently forgets is that while there is no historical proof and empirical claim to prove or disprove that, there is no proof either to his claims and that the mumbo jumbo he quotes as facts from an ancient time when tribes were engaged in mindless and internecine killings were providential. The crux of his argument is that only the “book” that he quotes is true and nothing else is.

An atheist, an agnostic and or a person who enquires before jumping on to a wagon of fantasy, no man can sit back and swallow the bunkum that this person reels out. One has to be devoid of common sense and the basic faculty to think if he or she should go gaga over Zakhir Naik. Besides, it is the veiled vitriol and falsehood that he sautés his speeches that makes you retch while his audience are rapturous in approval. No wonder that the British Government after the worst pliability that it showed in case of the mad Ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie denied Zakhir Naik visa to enter UK.
It is a pity that this sub continent known for its ancient assemblage of intelligent and sagacious minds should cater and live with such myopic minded and egregious philosophy that is spawned from all direction by men like Zakhir Naik. The inane inclination to twist history, paint myths and fairy tales as facts and historical happenings, distort the past, rubbish and spew vermin on other school of thought and people is ominously increasing in today’s society.

Look at one fantastic argument or rather holy statement of Zakhir  Naik.  To the person who threw the question he said that God created us from the loins of Adam and Eve. While he created us he asked us if we would want to live like the exalted group- the angels. It was Man, he said, who wanted to live in the world possessing the evil qualities. So it was not God who made us with evilness. Mumbo Jumbo is an inept word to describe this fantastic theory. I do not remember someone asking me while I was in the womb or immediately out of it if I wanted to be human or an angel. Zakhir Naik says that man cannot remember such a situation where God gave him a choice, because God erased that instance from our memory and we would be seeing that in replay only on the Day of Judgment. Abracadabra man!
There are certain matters in Christianity that he agrees with and is strangely comfortable with. He argues that the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth of Jesus is true. (He however sees Jesus far below the exalted position he gives to Mohammed). He gives a scientific reasoning to endorse conception without male female intervention. For this he takes out the example of certain species of butterflies and some unicellular creature such as amoeba. He latches on to parthenogenesis to establish that the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth of Jesus “could” have happened.
Any freshman in biology class would explain what parthenogenesis is and would call an argument such as that of Zakhir Naik naïve and silly. For parthenogenesis cannot happen in higher mammals or living beings such as Man.

To narrate more about the fantastic stories of Zakhir Naik is to belittle the genre of old woman’s tales and bed time stories we all have relished. Zakhir Naik must now be feeling the heat with an invigorated Sangh and with its political party in power- more wonderful stories of long distance aircrafts, plastic surgery, of transplanting of the head from the shoulders, of nuclear reactors in ancient India are abound. Certainly these claims might pale a little the fantasies Zakhir Naik narrates quoting his holy book.


When fools are abound, when people miserably ache and seek for magic to lighten up the burden and mundanity of their lives, such bigotry and sophistry thrive in the guise of spiritualism, promise of salvation ,passport to paradise and shameless evangelism. Those of us who show the gumption to stand on our feet and look life in the face and not wait for magic and sorcery to bail us out, can either fret and fume, write blogs and post defiant statements on the Facebook or Twitter and continue with our little lives, hoping that in the frenzied scramble towards paradise these folks would not deny us peace here and not let us keep our little lives to ourself.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Where the Rain is Born


Anton Chekov’s short story “The Bet” always reminds me of the awe that one can feel reading books, the powerful sway that books can have upon the reader. But then over the years I also realised from experiencing people who also read books that, “books are mirrors you only see in them what is already inside you”.

Let me go back to the story before I reach to narrate the reason for the above statement.                       During an evening of revelry a wealthy Banker and his guests debate the subject of capital punishment  While the Banker asserted that capital punishment was preferable to solitary confinement that kills the prisoner gradually, a young lawyer states that he would prefer to be alive and a life time of imprisonment than be killed. To this the Banker mocks that the young fellow would not spend five years in confinement and he was willing to pay him 2 million if he would spend 15 years in solitary confinement, no daylight , no human contact. They  enter into a wager.
An almost uneventful first year went by with the young lawyer ordering wine, cigars, good food and superficially exciting light novels and played his musical instruments.  The second year was often dotted with bouts of wailing, angry monologues and he drank a lot. From the third year, saw the young lawyer dropping notes for books- classics, philosophies, travelogues, medicine, religion, chemistry, languages and so on. As years went by the sound from inside the prison was barely heard. There were only notes for more books.

As the fifteenth year approached its end the Banker was truly getting nervous at the prospect of having to pay the lawyer as agreed in the wager. Plowed down by worry and deceitful, the Banker plots to kill the young man. Sneaking into the prison he found an emaciated figure stooped in a chair and oblivious of his entry. He found a letter written thus-“For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women…beauties as earthreal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets geniuses, have visited me at night and have whispered in my ears and wonderful tales have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc and from there I have seen the sun rise and watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean and the mountain – tops with gold crimson. I have watched from there lightning flash over my head and cleaving the storm clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens and the strains of the shepherds’ pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils that flew down to converse with me of God… In your books I have flung myself into bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religion, and conquered whole kingdoms….

Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unrestfulness thought man has created in the ages is compressed into small compass in my brain. I know that I’m wiser than all of you.
I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory and deceptive, like mirage. You may be proud, wise and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe. You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth and hideousness for beauty. I don’t want to understand you.

To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of Paradise and which I now despise. To deprive myself the right of money I shall go out from here five hours before the time fixed and so break the compact…”

The distraught Banker limped back to his house after reading the letter. The next morning the jail keeper announces that late at night he saw a shadow of a man wriggle out through the window, scale the high walls and vanish into the misty night.

Surely no further explanation is needed here of the outcome.

Now what would you say about folks who “trivalises” books, who do not value books? But who vainly reads them or impresses upon others that they read them? Who audaciously walks away with a book from your collection even without informing you and when you repeatedly over days remind that care should be taken to return, ferally glares at you that the book is lost and could not be found?                                                                                                                                          “Well if you fret much about a mere book, I can pay for it or buy you a new one.” The last statement is a swipe at your face and profanation to books.
When one sits back and analyses this particular incident that happened, what one could understand is that,“books are mirrors you only see in them what is already inside you”.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Pious Face of India

                                             The Delhi Gang Rapist

A month ago one impertinent, intemperate cantankerous  politician –a belligerent Marxist was sent to serve a prison term by the Supreme Court for calling the Judges a pack of fools. Now, looking at the restraint a Judge of a Delhi court has delivered against the airing of the BBC documentary on the “Delhi rapist interview”, terming that the telecast or publication of the interview will be detrimental to law and order, I ‘m obliged to endorse the view , after all the comment about the Courts was right.

Now, what did this reprehensible sexual assaulter say to the interviewer? He said that the victim has to be blamed for her torture and death and that if she had not resisted the rape she would not have been physically tortured but left to survive after gang raping her to the content of their perverted libido. Further it is reported that he said, they would only have assaulted the male companion leaving the girl after the rape. This statement and perhaps the fear of far worse outrageous comments from a remorseless criminal must have prompted the hue and cry against the telecast of the interview and the Government’s decision to ban it. But worse still must be the real reason to restrain the telecast or publication of the interview that would reveal a pitiless and incorrigible male psyche- the infamous male misogynism.

We must recall that many of the same politicians, and religious heads who display anger now over the interview were the ones who expressed that it is women who attract rape and women who go out at night are libertines and  deserve to be sexually assaulted etc. A bishop even termed rape (in another case of rape some months ago) as God’s instrument to test the will of the victim and it should be accepted with all grace.A Muslim leader in Kerala called for marrying girls by the age of fourteen as longer they remain unmarried more are their chances of walking the immoral way.

When such men cry foul and wail that they and the country will be offended if an interview with an unregenerate despicable mind is to be telecast, it oozes vulgarly of hypocrisy and falsehood. The interview I’m sure will reveal far more outrageous side of the rapist and generally that indeed being subsumed in a male psyche, will make apprehensive and nervy many male chauvinistic and misogynistic men. It is the backlash and the anger that it would create in the vast sections of the society and mostly among women, what rattles these male chauvinistic ogres.


The lawyer of the assailants A.P.Singh said this after the verdict sentencing the criminals to death“…..if my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would  take her to the farm house and with all onlookers around , douse her with petrol and burn her alive . I would not have let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude.” A perfect specimen of the Indian male psyche.

India is a country, were value of life is selective depending upon wealth and trappings of power. This is a country were cows are sacred than the well being of women. This is the country whose government takes the role arbitrarily of a dietitian and decides what people should and must not eat. This is a country where disrobing of Draupadi is not a scene from a legendary mythical treatise- it happens daily and often have the sanction of the male dominated society. This is a country where mythical Ravana is seen as a villain though he did not even once lift as much a finger to violate Sita whom he held captive in his abode; while Rama who was insolent and chauvinistic to send Sita through Agni to purify and ensure her chastity, who later succumbing to the innuendos of a plebian about Sita’s virtue banished her and his twin sons to the wilderness of the forest, is considered a God and an ancient Mosque is razed down to build a temple atop for him. We let women be treated as commodities wrapped inside the black shades of burkha and jihabs, we dictated by archaic religious diktats, deny basic sustenance and rights to women . We ignore the hearts and souls entrapped inside the black fabric drenched with sudate and nauseating with its bacterial odour.

Well these things are not new and the products of western influence or the age of computer and iPad or iPhones. The wretched side existed ,only that such heinous aspects began  invading  our living rooms thanks to the explosion of television and the voyeuristic TRP crazed television channels. Look at the huge mob and crowd that flock to police stations and courts, drooling, their dark brownish face contorted in glee and sleazy pleasure whenever a woman -a rape victim, a sex worker or a female girl – the victim of abuse is produced! They would all in their pious Indian minds gang rape the hapless victim many times over.
What do these tell?                  

Are we trying to wish away the loathsomeness in our minds and hearts by banning such revealing journalistic work? Are we afraid of being confronted by our alter ego?
Instead of understanding how despicable the male psyche works, instead of understanding the incorrigible nature of the rapist, instead of acknowledging that a greater social scourge is subsumed in our midst, we stupidly and hypocritically cry offense; that we will not let the grand design to tarnish India’s image succeed by airing the interview; in fact  naively by blaming a sinister plot to undermine India, we exhibit ourselves as a country of thugs, rapists, misogynists and buffoons.
Indeed we are adept at banning, at proscribing. For, we are afraid of facts, of reality, of light, we are afraid of our own self, our face. It hounds us. Doesn't it?

It is not the BBC documentary or the interview with the rapist that we are afraid of, that rattle us. It is us we are afraid of- our reflection.
We are just not pious and we cannot make believe we are.