Thursday, June 2, 2016

Gyaan!

We are born to change. My Four and a half year old was a different person two years ago. And i realise she will change more as time shall pass. Dont we all? I am not the same that i was five or ten or maybe fifteen years ago.
But though we may change, our souls remain the same. At least they should. So we feed it with good thoughts and good deeds and save it from getting scarred to the extent possible.
We may then change multiple times, but would always remain good people. 

Intro-Spec-Shun

Today I'm in a total look at myself mood. And contrary to what the wise would do, I turn to facebook - a world where every one looks so skittishly happy that the gunk literally explodes in your face. Of course, that's not true.. i tell myself. Look at the brighter side in life! Wait a minute, most of the wise would certainly do that!
Then i see a pic of a friends friend who traveled to some remote 'hilly paradise'. One of the pics was a giant hand (well, it was a close up) holding some food served in a giant leaf which was drying at ends and showing off particles of what seemed like dust. My mind instantly wanders to the newspaper article that talked about tapeworms and a relating interview in a shady news channel (yeah, they are all gung ho about how tapeworms are invading the Earth and shall rule humankind for the times to come).
I bury my head into my tired arms and sigh. Forget it.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kriya Karma

In death, her face looked disgusting. Unlike the death of Pishi Ma's character who died with a smile on her face in the story of 'Debyani', published in the weekly Bangla magazine, Daya Ma's wiry figure looked scary. Indira looked at the still body without breathing, as if she may wake Daya Ma up if she inhaled loudly. Was she afraid she may wake up again? Oh, so was she happy she was dead at last? Indira waited for tears to appear. But her throat was parched and her brain blank. She was devoid of emotions that moment. Paralyzed. So she continued staring. Sans words. Sans tears.

Daya Ma's white matty hair was scattered across her face. Her mouth was half open partly showing the lower gums and a bit of her tongue that was attempting to peak out of her toothless mouth. Her eyes were half open too, as if unwilling to close, unwilling to give up living. Her sinewy hand lay resting above her head, the ingrown nails displaying an ominous blackish blue sheen. The other hand lay on the other side, marked with obvious atrophy owing to lack of use across so many years. It was just pulp and bone now. It was the hand that Indira stroked every night for the last eleven years, before she went to bed. She knew it couldn't detect her touch, but she refused to relent. So she went on with her daily night time ritual of massaging the right arm, in hope of waking it up from the stroke that paralyzed Daya Ma. It never did. And now, it never will.

Indira slowly rose and hobbled towards the door. The creaky little wooden box that held Daya Ma's dentures stood smiling on top of the chest of drawers. She made a mental note of throwing it away at last. She was disgusted at the thought of someones teeth being outside his/her body. God knows how she put up with it till now. As she trudged along the corridor, she tripped on her pallu and lost her balance. Ushering her giddy self up she walked towards the telephone. Was she giddy due to shock or relief, she couldn't tell. And she coudnlt tell whether it was the demons within her or the demons outside that were devouring her brain with such sick thoughts.

She picked up the receiver and dialed a number.
"Hello?" Said the voice.
"Come home.." She said.
"What? Whatever happened?"
"It's... It's Daya Ma. She wouldn't talk."
"Come on. You know her tantrums. Talk her out of it!"
"This one, I cant, Bijoy. Come home. She wont wake up now... Please, come home!"
There was silence on the other end for a while. "Im coming."

Indira sat down and hugged her knees. Daya Ma had not been not the best mother in law. Indira still remembered the first holy day of shravan after her marriage, when Daya Ma had showered her with curses on for having imagined she could visit the temple with Bijoy before finishing all the chores of the house. She was distraught. And that was just the beginning of the ordeal. But she hadn't also thought for a moment that fate would have her nursing Daya Ma in a vegetative state for more than a decade. It was a dirty job alright. She doesnt remember a day when she hadn't retched at the smell of urine while washing the bedsheets. Neither does she remember going out of the house without thoughts nagging her about a helpless woman back there who may need to be attended to if need be. When was the last time she visited her own sister? Amu would fume at her for having not bought even a little toy for her boys.

"You both spend every dime on that hag!" She would retort. "Why, isn't it enough that she cursed you so you never even bear a child! I tell you, she is the Devil!"

But Indira would take care of Daya Ma. That was a part of her life she had come to accept. And it was a part of her life she could not imagine without. She would wipe her clean every day, feed her, wash her soiled clothes and read her the Ramayana. Sometimes during the sponge baths, the old eyes would well up. Then Indira would look away and wipe away the tears with the end of her pallu and pretend to focus on her work, trying to picture Daya Ma shouting at her with tiny drops of red syrupy betel leaves spraying out of her mouth mimicking her fury. She knew how it was to be left alone to fend for oneself. Hadn't her life before marriage rife with sorrows with her single mother? This was the least she could do to undo the wrath of Karma.

Indira's eyes scanned the room to fathom were the ringing was coming from. She rose from the corner and walked towards the door. Bijoy stood there, his hand resting on the wall on the side, his eyes partly red and partly wet. Indira watched Bijoy and Bijoy stared at Indira. And when she put her forehead on his chest, he sighed and held her for moments that seemed like forever.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Liberum Arbitrium

"Sometimes you just require to be strong, Hema.", Says the counselor. Hema watches the doctor's beautiful majenta chiffon sari and her chest lightly breathing the air conditioned oxygen in and out. She nods. She has always been the strong one. There was never a problem with that. But dealing with death was another thing. All that running around along the hospital corridors, queuing up at the TPA desk, listening to the doc with acute concentration, seems juvenile now.. almost unnecessary. Why all the drama when she always knew she this was how it would have ended? If it were not for those anti depressants, she would have been a vegetable by now.

"My child was just fourteen, Doctor.", She says studying her nails and trying to appear calm.

"You have another daughter, Hema."

"Yes i do. In another years time, i shall know if she suffers from the same gene defect. That means another round of running around and preparing for death. Well at least next time, i would be prepared. Sorry, more prepared."

"If that gives you the strength to move ahead, i wont stop you."

Hema nods and leaves the room. On her way back her eyes linger at scenes that have been a part of her life since the last six months of weekly visits to the counselor. The Nimbu Soda vendor wards off flies from his cart, the little old lady a large mole on her forehead nods to sleep in front of the many jasmine garlands she intends to sell to the vehicle owners, a young couple sits at the bus stop with their backs to the road.. the guy's hand on the girl's beaded dupatta, watching it chime against the steel bench, his jeans hanging dangerously low revealing a part of his butt crack.

Hema stifles her giggles and walks by, both marveled and disgusted at how monotonously everything around her goes on as if nothing happened.

A few steps ahead, her car is parked with Ameya watching her walk towards it. His large eyes have become more droopy than ever and the hair near his temples suddenly seem to have grown more strands of white than black. In his eyes, she reads love, expectation, hope and... need. He is in no less distress than her. But he shall never show.

She musters a smile and quickens her pace.

Not yet. She tells herself. I dont have the mind to give up yet... and opens the door of the car.

"Hi Dear, wish to have a Nimbu Soda?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The little mayhem called life

I scratch my cheek and watch the fly crawling on the sandpaper. It makes funny noises as it walks all over it, stopping intermittently to rub its tiny little hands together. My nails are dirty and filled with soot. It comes from scratching... and off late it has worsened. But i don't think i can do anything about it. I don't know whether i am supposed to. The tap from where i filled water for myself was uprooted a few days ago to make way for a wide road. The new road looks nice, i must say. But there's less space for me and my brother to sleep now.

I yawn and sit up. The fumes from the vehicles blur my vision. It may be twilight or it could be early morning.. i cant tell the difference. Cheenu opens his eyes and crawls to me. It has been a few days since our amma left. She usually goes away for some time.. but not for this long. But i am not scared. There are so many people around. Why should i be scared? I am just hungry. And so should be my brother. He cries a lot and i do not know what to give him. He usually goes to sleep after drinking some water but now there's no tap so there no water too.

I cross the road and pick up a packet. It has a few biscuits. I share them with Cheenu. For the first time i see him feed himself. I kiss him on his cheek and he taps on my chin. We shall wait for amma today. And if she does not come back, I'll take Cheenu and walk away. I don't yet know where to. Perhaps a place which has a tap nearby. Yes, that should do...

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Ride and the Rider

Take back the reins you handed me,
It's better you ride me home.
And on the way you may sing me
my favorite lullaby song.

Let me sleep unbounded
let me dream of the skies;
let me hear you breathe
near me, as i close my eyes.

Ah it's so amazing
this beautiful snowy dream;
Hush the noises lest they
wake me up again.

Dont tell me it's all over
dont say that it's time;
that we're back to where it started
and that it shall be fine.

Once the circus starts
the show would have to go on
and on the vicious hamster wheel
shall run the hapless clown.

So just a few more winks
before the sky turns blue;
Let me enjoy these moments
of being ferried by you.

God and other Topical Concerns


Courtesy: http://www.ikedaquotes.org/


I have stopped believing in religious/cultural traditions. Well, the thought in itself is not very jarring as much as a fact that it is coming from a person who was her pious-most a couple of years back. I do not know the exact moment when my thoughts and beliefs clashed with each other and i chose the path of rationality. It was certainly an very sub-conscious decision. Or perhaps it was a gradual transition. So one may ask, do I believe in God? And the answer would be Yes, I do.

But God, for me, is not Krishna/Shiva/Allah/Christ/Saibaba. It is just a force. An invisible hand that leads me to my destination. That holds my hand when i am in doubt. That forgives me no matter how wrong I am. That helps me tell the wrongs from the rights. That makes me a better Human. I am no more under any compulsion to give that force a form or a face. I want to believe in that force, irrespective of its gender, its power.. only conscious of its presence, its relevance in my life.

I do not know whether this is right for many. But i can feel that i am convinced about its truthfulness. Going back to the facts that led me to this situation... as i mentioned, I cannot pin point one. Maybe it is when i see how people blindly follow a tradition without attaching a meaning to the reasons behind it or its consequences. Or perhaps it is the way people kill/brutalize/loathe each other in the name of religion/Gods. Or maybe it is just the realization of the way my life has become like a hamster wheel... more about the chores to be finished and less about feeling accomplished/content. Or maybe it is about how the concept of God and Godmen has been so commercialized that it has lost the charishma.. the want of belonging to it.. the want to be unquestioningly following it. So many so many reasons. Or should i attribute it to the inevitable and quite evident mixing of cultures that triggers a want to question something before doing it. I dont know....

But i still believe that this Universal Force sees it all. It is sentient like us.. just more forgiving, more loving, more giving, more encouraging.

As a child, and while growing up, i followed many a customs/traditions without asking my Mom why it was done in the first place. Being an Hindu entails performing poojas/rituals/participating in festivals/social gatherings, etc. And i have happily followed most of them as a youngster. My mom herself was not an extremely pious woman, in that some of these feelings may be genetic, so to say. She never used to light diyas every evening or teach us many slokas/mantras/ tell us loads of mythological stories or anything. I was an avid reader and learnt about many stories on my own.

To be able to think about and talk to God about my problems (which i feel were much less earlier) was quite relieving. To be able to tell myself that Krishna would protect me and that Devi would give me strength made me more confident. And the fact that these Gods had forms that i could relate to made them comfortable to talk to and to be confided in.

Then along came this awesome book (which is now quite ubiquitous too) called The Secret. It introduced the power of Universal Providence into my life. And it actually worked wonders for me! I dont know whether i sound too naive when i say this, but now i have what they call an undivided and absolute faith in the theory of how the latter gives you back what you give it. In due passage of time, i was exposed to the concept of duality - that there are good and bad in every form. Even Gods made mistakes. Even Asuras have their own side/version of stories where they were the right ones and Gods their rivals.

The fundamental paradigms shifted.. and cultural shocks ensued. Characters in mythologies suddenly started seeming false and make believe. Gods were now just extremely powerful human beings.. some of whom could manipulate due to their influence and charishma. Asuras were only people at the wrong place at the wrong time (pretty akin to a youth being transformed into a terrorist.. who would you blame? - the society? the organisation/outift? the terrorist himself?). Stories/legends now looked pretty dreamy and man-made. Then grew hatred towards the 'fear' that was created around not performing a ritual or praying daily to God. And i slowly started disbelieving and then one day just stopped believing.

Above is just half of my problems. As a child, the aforementioned cultural traditions gave meaning to my childhood. The stories built me a land of fantasies and magic. The temple visits, the get togethers, the dance practices and bhajana groups, the songs i learnt and sang and were appreciated... my childhood was built around all this. Even now, some of my best memories are built around all this. It just becomes more confusing when i realise i wont be able to practise all that with my child with the same conviction that i possessed then. How then would my child be able to relate to my childhood? Would her childhood be bland and blase with TV and electronic gadgets that have nothing remotely worthy of being cherished later on? How do i ask her to pray in front of a particular God when i myself am no more comfortable doing it? How am i supposed to explain a tradition/custom to her when i have doubts about its origin and reasons?

While i am usually confronted by such nagging thoughts, i find a window of hope when i ask her to thank God for everything she has. Perhaps that's the way around it. And then a few mantras to keep her in the faith of someone out there protecting her. It is my duty to give her the freedom to choose what she would be comfortable doing. I would surely not make her do things just because everyone else is doing it. What is the use of being a staunch believer of a God if you are not a good human being.. if you cannot understand someone else's pain. What is the use of performing all these rituals if you dont feel gratituous of being alive and being there with your family.

For me, the fact that I am alive and healthy to be able to think about all this itself is overwhelming. Life and time does not wait for anything, Anything can happen to anybody and then you'd be caught unaware. I just want to be a good human being. Not a staunch God believer. Id rather believe in the Supreme force which would give you back all the good that you give others. Id rather be a person who is kind and giving and empathetic, than be someone who would chant mantras and back bite someone.

I am still learning and trying to find out who i am and why i am here. I am trying to fathom where i started and where i am going now. I am still learning. And i hope the God or the Force, as i see it now, shows me the way... gives me strength to keep going and never give up. And is patient with me when i go wrong somewhere... I am still learning.

The haven't yet found the answers to my questions. But i am assuming they will come to me sooner or later. Till then...