Don’t tell me what to eat!

This rather angst-ridden post comes at a time when the country I reside in (India) is going through something along the lines of what can only be described as a shit-storm. There is a reason to why I choose to call it the country I reside in and not my country, and that reason has a lot to do with my disregard for the glorified nationalism that is patriotism; but that is something I will (hopefully, if I remember and have the energy) address in a later post. Today, however, I wish to talk about the most recent malady gripping this nation: a food ban.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular atrocity, here is a brief, heavily biased summary: The ruling political party in the country, the BJP, has launched a thinly veiled communal movement against religious minorities in the country in an attempt to make the country a “Hindu” nation. The controversial prime minister recently made the appointment of an even more controversial individual, and a Hindu religious leader no less, as the chief minister of the most populous state in the country (UP); a state with a larger Muslim population than Saudi Arabia. Understandably, a host of events has taken place since then, furthering the already mammoth divide between the left and right-wing individuals. I will not go into the host of issues I have with the government, but just highlight the one that is currently on my mind: the new UP government has started a crackdown against “illegal” slaughterhouses, under the guise of which hundreds of thousands of

Understandably, a host of events has taken place since then, furthering the already mammoth divide between the left and right-wing individuals. I will not go into the host of issues I have with the government, but just highlight the one that is currently on my mind: the new UP government has started a crackdown against “illegal” slaughterhouses, under the guise of which hundreds of thousands of meat vendors, the majority of them being Muslims, have been put out of business. Repercussions of this have been seen in states across the country, where vigilantes have taken to violence against even the legally operating meat vendors.

It does not take a great leap of understanding to see that this crusade against meat and meat vendors fits snugly into the communal image of the BJP. Hinduism has been mistakenly associated with vegetarianism for hundreds of years now (I say mistakenly because the archaeological and historical experts have agreed, time and again, that the oldest practitioners of Hinduism weren’t bothered about who ate what, and, what’s more, even sacrificed animals as part of prayers), and the BJP covertly seeks to make India a Hindu land, and thus a vegetarian one. The recent introduction of Hindi, a language which people, again, mistakenly, associate with India and Hinduism, into non-Hindi speaking states is a further example of how the Centre wishes to rebrand “India as is Bharath” as Hindustan.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll drop my “leftist” agenda which condemns the central government. I’ll even let slide the obvious linguistic chauvinism which is currently threatening the diversity of one of the most beautifully diverse nations of the world. What I cannot let up, however, is people telling me what to and what not to eat. We are a secular nation, which entails the freedom to be who we are, do what we want (as long as it is within the legal limits) and eat what we bloody want. Not going into the whole shenanigans about how necessary animal protein is for people, it’s a simple thing to understand: people have a right to food.

People who choose to follow religious limitations (yet again, a topic which I feel strongly towards and hope to speak about soon) to the extent of depriving themselves of certain things are more than free to do so, but who gives anyone the authority to restrict people not only from eating whatever it is that they wish, but also take away a major source of livelihood? What right does a democratically elected leader have to say that the practice of a religion should be done stringently, and to subsequently encroach upon the basic human rights of his people?

Tomorrow, if a leader is elected who bans the “illegal” sale of leafy greens, are we supposed to silently sit back and withstand the deprivation of an essential component of our diet? Fuck that, if the government decides to ban the “illegal” sale of chocolates, would we stand for it?

If yes, then, honestly, very little can be said here. People who are willing to submit so utterly to authority (authority which is barely educated, has a skewed world view, and takes religious communalism to a whole new level), then what are free-thinkers to do? How can anyone win in a fight where the other side has already decided that there is no competition.

If no, then why stop me from eating my tenderloin steak if I don’t stop you from eating whatever dismal cabbage creation you’ve concocted? Is it because my food offends you more than yours offends me? How can food be offensive to a person, unless you’re taking that offense as part of something larger, say a religion. If my food offends your religion, don’t eat my food. Why should I stop eating my food because it offends your religion? You religion is the primary religion of the country, you say?

Check again.

We live in a “secular” country where trying to get things like beef, which is now a traditional part of many Muslim households, is like trying to score drugs. I have a simple question, aimed at the prime minister and the chief minister of UP (whom I affectionately call Dhonginath; we have an understanding): if I don’t force you to eat meat as part of my religion (that of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), why do you stop me from eating it?

The inverse of sugarcoating

This post comes more than a week late, but then, I have never been known for my punctuality. Fortunately, it just so happens that the person to whom this post is dedicated understands my ongoing feud with time and deadlines, and so I am (I hope) off the hook.

This being a birthday post, I suppose timing was of the essence. Indeed, I had sat down to write this post in an alcoholic stupor last Sunday night; I soon discovered, however, that inebriated and articulation are not the best of companions. The post, as a result, came to a standstill. As anyone who has ever missed deadlines will tell you: once the time has passed, delays are easier to actualise than effort. However, I like to cling to the desperate notion that everything happens for the best; had the week not intervened between this post and the birthday itself, maybe the post wouldn’t have been as meaningful as it is now.

The title of this post is a phrase which the said person (to whom this post is dedicated) has used, often, to describe the way I express my views and opinions; implying, of course, that I use words which are too harsh to convey emotion which is, in essence, very pleasant. The original draft of this post was a smattering of powdered sugar on a mountain of maple syrup and honey, which is yet another reason this post feels more natural to me than the one which would have gone up on my friend’s birthday: it’s more honest.

Usually, when I undertake the Herculean task of dedicating a post to someone, it involves my assessment of their qualities and the subsequent zeroing in on the quality which I feel most strongly towards. This, however, is not the case today. It is not that the person of whom I speak is devoid of any startling qualities, nor that the person is burgeoning with a plethora of qualities from which it would be impossible to choose. No, the reason that this post doesn’t fixate on any one aspect of the person is because he, in his entirety, has done something for me which I value greatly: he has educated me in matters of which I was painfully ignorant.

Much of this educating took place after the rather tumultuous but exceptionally well-timed end to our brief courtship period. The subsequent friendship is something that I’ve come to cherish and learn greatly from. Wisdom, however, isn’t at the root of these teachings; it is not as though I have been specifically lectured on certain areas. This teaching comes from one of the most rewarding human experiences I have ever had. Not wisdom but honesty, I feel, drives this education home. The honesty of expression and feeling which my friend carries; his ability to wear his heart shamelessly on his sleeve, despite how much ever pain it may cause him; and his need to derive emotional sustenance from those he loves are the things I look towards when I feel lost in my own warped emotional psyche.

My friend has, on more occasions than I can count and with substantial damage to his inner peace, challenged my notions of correctness and emotional complexity. He has provided me with the perspective of diversity by showing me how powerful emotions can be, all while being highly delicate. He has shown me, time and again, what it means to be truly honest with oneself, even as I champion brutal honesty to the world. But more than anything, he has helped shape my ideas of the kind of interpersonal relationships I would be willing to have; ideas which were founded in reason, but perhaps hadn’t been actualised until the development of our friendship.

One of the greatest things which I will always be indebted to him for, though, is pushing my tolerance to limits I did not know I dared approach. I have always been less tolerant of dissent than I would like to believe, and this reflects heavily in my interactions with people. This beautiful, honest person showed me that my insatiable need for learning and growth, which I’ve always claimed was at the centre of my being, would never be realised unless I opened myself to things which I disagreed with and, far more than this, things which I had never even considered.

Even as I write this, I find myself edging dangerously close to a pit dense with the sorrows of nostalgia, which, I am afraid, is a luxury I cannot afford at the moment. However, one essential aspect of my friend remains to be mentioned, and poetic convenience has decreed it such that it be the last thing I discuss, glorifying it all the more. The aspect of which I speak, of course, is unbridled growth. It amazes me to see him growing as a person in every second of every day, but not being afraid to build again should he fall back. Whereas I take things from him and use them to further my own arsenal of introspection, he takes things from all around and uses them to accelerate in life. Indeed, it is satisfying to see that he is able to sustain his rate of growth, even as I am mine, and yet remain in tandem with both our ways of life.

Ah, but now emotional indulgence veers dangerously close to this rather well thought out, and unnecessarily long, (belated) birthday wish. Before I submit myself to the annals of sentimental gratification, I feel it best to set my (metaphorical) pen down, and wish my friend a lifetime of growth.

Happy birthday, my love.

“You can’t call people fat!”

The past few weeks have been remarkably eventful, thus launching me into another spell of absence from this little corner of the Internet that I have come to be so fond of. More importantly, however, these weeks have given me a lot to think about, thus, as though by some crooked sense of consequence, a lot to write about. Dwindling between the sweetness of slumber and the cruelty of consciousness, I find myself unable to give much thought to the topics at hand, and so I’ll write about something which has been on my mind for quite some time.

Recently, in an attempt to show that we care about society as much as we care about ourselves, the institute where I study commissioned a trip to a cancer hospital and a nursing home, to be headed by the Student Council, of which I am a part. And so a meeting was scheduled by the president of our council to discuss the trip and our respective roles in the project. For reasons best left to the imagination, philanthropy isn’t my strong suit. My distaste for charitable activities is evident for the best of causes, and here I was at the centre of one of the most pretentious undertakings I had ever seen. Needless to say, emotions ran high.

Using every last device of cunning left in my arsenal (pardon the exaggeration; it was more along the lines of trading favours with the council president), I managed to get out of going to the ghastly place, while boisterously announcing my relief. As expected, tones of disapproval rang sharp in the background. People who have very questionable morals of their own started lecturing me about my heartless nature, and how I need to “get over myself” or need to “have a heart”.

And once again I was face to face with an arbitrarily defined sense of social correctness. A set of defined morals was somehow governing my life and deciding whether or not my opinions were socially acceptable. People who were vaguely aware of society’s definition of good or bad carried the license to judge me on my beliefs, while completely disregarding their own in favour of what the “world” deemed correct. Almost all the people seated in that room were of a similar opinion to mine, and yet when I voiced mine, pandemonium seemed to reign. Hypocrisy, it would seem, had once again dominated a social gathering.

It wasn’t just here, though, that I had spotted such behaviour. Every once in a while, I’d make the grave mistake of stating my opinion amongst people who, curiously enough, shared that very same opinion, and almost every time I would get shot down for being rude or uncouth or insensitive or, in the particularly amusing cases, inhuman. Not four days ago, I was given a present by a good friend of mine, and I reacted in a way which wasn’t particularly warm, but was certainly not hostile, and, above all, it was honest. From the tone of this sentence and the post in general, it is not difficult to infer the discussions that followed with my friend, who seemed thoroughly upset that I had reacted the way I had.

These examples, and so many others like them, seem to deliver a clear message: you can’t speak your mind if what you think or feel isn’t socially acceptable. Leaving personal opinions aside for a second, we are faced today with a society which condemns even the most objective of statements, if they seem to clash with social correctness. The title of this post is an allusion to the same, but it is also a small reference to something which I’ve always had problems with. I still remember being forcibly told that calling people fat was wrong, and being given no good reason for it.

Such pointless doctrine has been instilled into society so forcibly that any kind of social reform is a distant dream. We are so oblivious to the value of unadulterated honesty and so sensitive to our own insecurities that having them realised in the form of words is deeply unsettling. Instead of coming face to face with the ideas of one another, we wish to shy away from our thoughts and insecurities, because someone sometime ago decreed certain things incorrect.

The end of this spiteful posts hopes to see some kind of a social reform in the near future, so that I can speak my mind without threat of persecution.

It’s time to come out, now.

My writing desk has faced some neglect of late, for which I would like to apologise. Societal obligations have kept me both busy and uninspired, leading to a sorrowful lack in any literary endeavours I may have chosen to undertake. Indeed, even as I write this, I have a plethora of books and documents open on my computer, which is adamant to drag me to the bottom of the endless ocean that is the mainstream education system. The world, it would seem, has taken a grave disliking to my episodes of deep thinking and subsequent contributions (and here, I do take the liberty to assume that my ramblings are a contribution) that follow.

Society, as though under the obligation to maintain the karmic balance, has provided me with very many things to write about for the past few weeks. One of those fleeting moments of literary inspiration is the progenitor of this post. The conceptualisation of this post had taken place many months ago, but the actualisation is almost entirely due to a post which came out (no allusions to the title), written by my extremely talented friend. The post, cleverly titled “Closets are Claustrophobic” (the post is a great read, do check it out by clicking on the title and letting technology control your every move from there on out), spoke about much the same issue I wish to discuss here, but in what I opine as a much more refined manner.

I’ve always had trouble with the phrase “coming out”. It always seemed unfair to me that people of a certain sexual orientation were deemed living “in the closet” until such time as they chose to reveal their sexuality while their heterosexual counterparts could go about daily life in a decidedly un-Narnian fashion. It sickens me to my core to say this, but having been a homophobe for a large part of my life, I didn’t give much thought to this phrasing, something which I now sorely regret. Far more than the phrase, the actual discrimination which exists on the basis of something as deep-rooted and involuntary as sexual orientation is a cause for concern.

I have been fortunate enough to have very accepting friends (family is beautifully ignorant until this point) when it came to my sexual orientation. However, I’ve had a fair few encounters with woefully misguided people, who have been left scandalised at my “revelation”, visibly cringing away from me at times and changing the way they talked and behaved around me.  Then there are those who treat sexuality like an alien, fascinating phenomenon, mixing together their sense of wonderment and prevalent stereotypes in the crudest of ways. But of all the different reactions that people have, I find the worst ones always fall into the category of “it’s not your fault; it’s not something you choose or have any control over”.

Even though I have had quite a lot of practice dealing with these varied responses, it still takes me a few moments to calm myself down before I explain that it’s no one’s “fault”, and that there is nothing at fault in this case. Between the throng of people who pretend to be understanding of the “situation” or the “condition” and the cold-shoulder-turners, it’s very understandable why such a great number of people wish to remain “in the closet”. This is a scenario which is exceedingly seen in India, which is ironic considering that the country boasts of its diversity to anyone who can stop taking pictures of the slums for even a second, and refuses to be accepting of a whole social demographic.

It’s not that the country is vehemently homophobic, even though it may seem like it, but the people are shamefully unaware of the nature of sexuality. Yes, India has very many issues with acceptance, and that predicament is only heightened due to the lack of awareness. To many Indians, and certainly to the government, homosexuality is still a disease, something “unnatural” which must be stamped out of the population and criminalised. In many circles of India, homosexuality is an affliction which can be treated by religion, brute force, shaming, or, ironically in the more educated circles, therapy. One of the times when I have been the most taken aback in my life was when a junior resident of psychiatry at one of the most renowned hospitals in the country insisted that “reverting” to heterosexuality was better for the mental health of patients.

What bothers me the most about all of this, though, is the hypocritical nature of the Indian society. Having spent my final two years of high school in an all boys residential school, I, unfortunately, have first-hand knowledge of what usually transpires in sexually starved communities. Four classes of people seemed to exist at my school: the vehemently heterosexual, for whom any kind of homosexual contact was both unfathomable and repulsive; the ones who were exploring their sexuality and who would make sure that news of their experimentation never leaked; the ones who had been so starved of sexual contact that flesh was all they needed, be it of man or woman, but who would never let this side of their identity be seen; and the homosexuals. All these classes, however, had one thing in common: they were all very outspoken and wore their distaste for homosexuality proudly on their sleeve.

The post which I have linked covers a lot of the things that I wanted to talk about, but there is one point which I feel can never be stressed enough. Ridicule of homosexuals and the LGBT has been a long-standing cultural norm in modern society, from way before the time of “Gay Related Immune Disorder”. It is good to see how many people have undergone the political reforms which prevent them from mocking people of specific sexual orientations, but at the same time, it is disheartening to see how much abuse is still prevalent. Using words like “gay” in a derogatory context remains to this day a common practice, and it baffles me how a progress civilisation can think that this is at all acceptable. The freight-train doesn’t even remotely stop here, though. Psychological and emotional abuse, if not physical, is constantly doled out in buckets, not only to individuals of a non-heterosexual orientation but to anyone who “seems gay”.

People will spend hours of their time watching crude homosexual pornography, and then turn their faces towards the world and comment on how gross and unnatural homosexuality is, making it a point to equate everything even remotely displeasing with a non-heterosexual orientation. Yes, it was inspiring to see countless Indian take to the streets when the Supreme Court recriminalized homosexual sex in India, but if it takes gross injustice to raise a voice against such discrimination and to show solidarity for the LGBT, then it isn’t hard to understand why so many people choose to hide their identities for their entire lives.

India has a history of teaching its children to not be proud of themselves and making them understand that unless they conform to a manner that is acceptable to society, they are not worth it. As gut-wrenchingly sick as that is, it’s even more wrong in the case of sexuality. Countries across the globe place so much importance on “fitting in”, that members of the LGBT have no choice but to prevent their identities from ever being revealed, lest the predominantly heterosexual society consider them as outcasts. And no one, absolutely no one, should have to live with that kind of psychological trauma or stress.

I realise that I have made any generalisations here, and I would like to apologise for any feelings that may have been hurt. It is not my intention to cause discord, but to make sure that society acknowledges the LGBT as on of them, and doesn’t make it their mission to create a rift between two halves of humanity.

It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird

Why was this post not published yesterday, seconds after the news of her death rattled the world? Because there are times, albeit very few, when the mind is enslaved by the heart. The mind will know what must be done and when, but the heart will put a stop to it, it will put shackles around those thoughts and force you to just feel for a second, and that second will never end.

Barely a month after souls were ripped from their bodies across the globe at the traumatic news of Alan Rickman’s death, another grave tragedy has befallen us. Death has gotten used to the taste of benevolent souls, and has forgotten that balance must be maintained in the world. For the first time in my life, I am angry with Death for being greedy, for wanting the best for itself.

She was old. Unlike with the death of Alan Rickman, the shock factor wasn’t dominant here. Maybe that is the reason the thought of Alan Rickman only crossed my mind while I was writing this post: the emotions associated with both their deaths are so different that it makes no sense to draw analogies. And so, of course, I will be helpless in drawing analogies.

On the day of Rickman’s death, I remember feeling thoroughly cheated. I felt angry, shaken, shocked to my core, and more upset than I can explain. Yesterday, though, there was a kind of resignation in the sorrow that I felt. I knew that this day was coming, and I was prepared for the bombshell to drop, and so there was no great shock to mask the sorrow. Yesterday, I felt truly sad after a long time. I felt sad like I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was the raw force of the sadness, unmasked by any other emotion, which I think was so crippling, causing the delay in this post.

I had first read “To Kill a Mockingbird” sometime in the middle of seventh grade, and had taken an instant liking to Scout. Little did I know that Scout was more or less a spitting image of her creator. Over the years, Scout and I have come to be the best of friends, and Harper Lee was like out guiding figure, a motherly presence watching as her brainchild went ahead and made friends. Two years after reading the life-altering book for the first time, I got to know Harper Lee well, due to an assignment set to us in English class.

It was easy to get to know her. I suppose it was because I knew Scout so well by then that learning about Harper Lee was just like having another conversation with Scout. Lee was a firm presence throughout my life from that point onwards, and I was secure in knowing that a wrinkly woman somewhere in the US was alive and well.

When her book came out last year, I was nothing short of elated. Getting to see her in action again was surreal! My expectations weren’t well rewarded, however, and I decided that the only memories I wanted to have of Lee were those related to her original work. All was good yet again: tarnished memories had been forgotten, disagreements had been resolved, and Scout and I were on speaking terms once more.

Then I logged into my computer yesterday evening, and things took a turn for the worse. Amidst a horde of news items about the JNU fiasco (which did nothing to alleviate my foul mood) was a single story, saying something along the lines of: “Harper Lee dies at 89”. I don’t well recall the events immediately following this one, and I don’t think I want to. Something seemed to have slipped inside: not broken, but slipped. Broken implies shattering, or an unforeseen even causing irreparable damage. No, this was different. Something had slipped, and I still don’t know what it is, or where it’s slipped from, or where it’s slipped to. Maybe I’ll find it someday and place it back, who knows?

“Harper Lee is currently thriving at the remarkable age of 84” is how I had concluded my presentation that day in English class. Death, it seems, took my remark of “remarkable” as a challenge. Death does that sometimes, in an attempt to prove itself omnipotent, it uses our words to play with us. It’s sad, really.

And so something slipped. Something was wrong. The feeling of being hollowed out will take some getting used to, which is exactly what I say every time something disturbing happens. I don’t have a problem wrapping my head around the fact that she’s gone, as I did with Rickman. But here, there is something which I’ve never felt before, and hope to never feel again, because it’s a very permanent feeling with no end in sight. That feeling, the simple feeling which is much less insidious than others but sticks on forever, is a feeling of impending nothingness, the “what not” state if you will.

So, what now?

Death has taken a step out of line this time, because whatever may have happened, one thing is undeniable: It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

On the illusion of being well-informed

Once again, I find myself indebted to the mainstream system of education for presenting me with the opportunity, and to some extent the content, of yet another post. Instead, it is better said that the academic ordeal of which I speak wasn’t a direct contributor to this occurrence, but merely the dreaded path through which it was achieved.

Earlier this week, I was faced with the horrendous task known as “journal writing”. The task, which is a regular atrocity, entails copying content from one piece of paper mindlessly onto the other, for what I assume is the sadistic amusement of the examination board. It is, in my opinion, the most dreadful of all assignments conferred upon the students by the Indian education system, and I feel confident in stating that the Indian student body would unanimously benefit from its exclusion.

However, the extent of my displeasure with this particular catastrophe isn’t the subject of this post. No, today I wish to talk about how painstakingly putting myself through that displeasure led me to a profound realisation, albeit one which the world has made many times over already.

In a wildly desperate, yet wildly successful attempt to bring an end to the monotony of mindless copying, I put on some music from my playlist, which, by common consent, is quite distasteful. It was when one particular song was playing that my epiphany made itself apparent, and thus gave rise to this post.

The song of which I speak has now come to be one of my favourites, yet there was a time when I would very contemptuously skip that song whenever it had the audacity to play. When I’d first heard that song, and indeed for a few times after, I’d convinced myself that the lyrics of the song were not possible to be deciphered, on account of the singer’s poor enunciation. Recently, frustrated by my inability to make sense of what is an insanely popular song, and crippled by my all consuming obsession with song lyrics, I gave in and “Googled” the words.

As though a dense fog had been lifted off my mind the moment I read the words upon the screen. What’s more, whenever I had heard the song hence, including on the fateful evening of which I speak, I found myself clearly understanding the lyrics which had so far been nothing but elusive. And so while I was mechanically scribbling away into my notebook and this song played, I found myself humming along with it, whispering the words into the air, completely unaware that I now knew the lyrics well enough to sing along.

It was then that I had to pause the gruelling task which was engaging me, and think back upon the days when I had thought the song incomprehensible. The epiphany ran thus: our knowledge, all our knowledge, is an illusion, brought about by incidences of learning which we do not give due credit to. To make this rather cryptic statement clearer, I’ll take the example of what I have been talking about thus far. It is now impossible for me to think of a time when I did not know the lyrics of this particular song, because they seem so obvious in the light of the new knowledge I have acquired.

How is it possible that something which is so thoroughly apparent to me now, was so utterly elusive then? How has the simple acquisition of knowledge made me forget the sensation of being ignorant? And so I extrapolated this particular theory, if you will, onto other aspects of life and existence. I came to the rather startling realisation that a lot of the information we take for granted is actually a compilation of things we never knew, and things which we thought we never would be able to understand, until such time as we found them out.

The favourite colour of your best friend, perhaps, may serve as an example. Your favourite dish, another. A third could be the knowledge of the grammar of your first language. There is so much knowledge within us which we assume is a given, or which we take for granted, not realising that we are born with nothing in our heads, and that even things which seem like they’ve always been there, haven’t.

Of course, shortly after realising this, I saw the bulk of content before me still waiting to be written, and I left the realisation of this epiphany for another day. At this point, I’d like to end this very vague post with one question: does it count as an epiphany if it’s merely reflection upon something you’ve always known?

Food for thought, I guess, or something to distract yourself with this Valentine’s Day. Happy Loving, everyone.

To whom do we owe the pleasure?

First of all, I thought it best to state that the competition which I had spoken of last week has not yet concluded. It would seem that the dates have been extended, therefore the cunning beast that is hope still lurks somewhere deep within me. I am a child, after all, and a child liked to win. And so, as the masses say it, “fingers crossed”.

This post is related to my previous one, albeit very remotely. This post is nothing more or nothing less than my expression of gratitude to a person who seems to have made it their mission to help with the realisation of my writing dream. Though, in truth, I will never be able to thank them enough, I like to console myself in thinking that this form of expression comes a little close.

The person of whom I speak has come to be one of my favourite people in a very short span of time, which is a condition I both adore and intensely fear: it is not in my nature to bond with people I haven’t spent aeons with, and so rare exceptions such as these throw me well out of my comfort zone. This friend of mine has also, in what I believe to be heavily misguided judgement, has taken a strong liking to my writing, which I consider to be mediocre at best.

Earlier this week, while “Skyping” with said companion, I found myself victim to an unprecedented stream of compliments, and could not truthfully accept them for I knew that they weren’t strictly objective in their origins. However, those words had a most magical effect upon me, convincing me that giving up writing, as I had been planning to do for quite some time, would be nothing short of catastrophic. Armed, or rather fuelled, by the hot air which steadily replaced the blood in my body, I decided to make this particular contribution of mine a weekly affair, and am glad to say that so far it seems to be holding its own, even if it is a few days off.

Ever since that very stimulation web conversation, I have found myself deep in though about each of the things which were discussed, and have come to a rather blissful, if hasty, realisation. Every writer needs that one person who believes in them: not a fan, not even an ardent reader, and definitely not a literary critic. Just someone who knows where your writing is coming from, and would like to more of yourself expressed in words because they truly believe in your potential. Some people go their whole lifetimes without finding that one soul; fortunately, though, I can say with great certainty that I have found mine.

And so even on days when I have nothing to write about and no one to write for, not even myself, I will find myself sitting at my desk, penning something away half-consciously, just because I refuse to disappoint this one beautiful creature who has chosen to put their faith in me. I have no way to say this without sounding sinfully obnoxious, and I request that you forgive me for that, but I feel proud that I have someone of the sort, and someone who is unfathomably great in ways I can never even hope to be.

There exists between us a sort of connection which, if I am very truthful, I have never been able to feel with another. I have had friends who have been closer to me, of course, and people that I have loved more, but this connection is something entirely different. This is a connection based solely on thought: from my mind to my friend’s. This connection exists because I choose to write, and because my friend chooses to read what I write. I have an abundance of critics around me, who have helped me in ways I cannot even understand, and have helped me to grow as a writer, but the contributions of this one person will remain something different altogether.

And so the least I could do, early one Sunday morning, is take the opportunity to thank said individual, for giving me that most coveted of all offerings: their trust. Faith in a writer is, as I have said previously, an irreplaceable entity, and I am over the moon to think that I have received the same in brimming abundance from someone I myself hold in high regards.

I would be neither exaggerating nor in the wrong if I claimed today that everything I write henceforth, be it prose or poetry, has only come into existence because of my “comrade-in-arms”‘s belief in me. Ironically, it is now that I find myself at a loss for words, when words are the most important. Inept as I am at expression, I hope this will suffice as a small reflection of the deep gratitude which I feel for my dear, dear friend.

Thank you for your faith.

Je serai poète et toi poésie

15 - 1

Ah, yes. No one says it like the French. This post attempts to defy the cliché of a “Valentine’s Day post” by becoming part of another one: the “end of Valentine’s Day post”. However, the contents of this post are not meant to stir up deep, thoughtful emotions about love. No, this post is more or less a tribute to the lovely lady whose picture is shown above, whose recent adventures in the world of relationships I have had the pleasure to understand.

You see, caught in the spirit of the Valentine month, I was unable to keep myself from wondering what exactly it was that made relationships work. What was it which held couples together? What was it that brought two people, no matter how unlikely, together in one of the strongest bond which exists between people? My search for the answers to these questions led me to a potential well of information, which turned out to be surprisingly cooperative. It is due to her willingness to share with me her emotions regarding the relationship that I am able to write this post today.

Her relationship seemed to me to be, for lack of a better word, perplexing, and I sought to understand what made this particular relationship work, more than I did what made relationships in general work. What followed was an interview of sorts, the details of which are best left to the imagination. However, the subject of interest here is the inference which we can draw from her responses.

Upon careful and rather extensive questioning, I came to some conclusions, which I care to voice here, for no other reason than because, well, I can. As a reward for satiating my curiosity, I had promised my friend that her time would not be spent in vain, and that something productive would come out of this interview.

The highlight of the interview was undoubtedly the discovery of the motive behind the existence of this relationship. The ten minute long session yielded this result: my friend is in this relationship because it offers her hope, a sense of a greater purpose, if you will. It gives her hope that there is something bigger and better out there, something bigger than any of us, and something better than anything which we have at the moment. I found that gesture to be particularly endearing: that a person could be hopeful due to another person is very endearing.

Another important discovery I made as a result of my unimpeded questioning was that it wasn’t so much about the person itself in a relationship, but about what they offered. According to my friend, her partner offered her a constant to hold on to, something which she could fall back upon when everything seemed to be going up in smoke. To this, the question which naturally followed was: what was your constant before this person came into your life. Her answer itself to this question is, again, immaterial. What we concern ourselves with is the fact that whatever it was that was her constant before, it hadn’t left her. Her partner had merely added on to her sense of stability, which fascinated me to no end.

However, there were some things which confuse me now, as they did at the start of the interview. Needless to say, each of those things merits a post on its own, and so the scope for mention of those qualms is beyond that of this one particular post. The one thing which I would like to shed some light upon, though, is something which I have frequently been accused of. People say that I am too dismissive, that I take away people’s faith where it is not my business to interfere. My friend made me think along those lines: what right do I have to tell her what to do with her relationship, or cast my scepticism towards relationships, on her?

None whatsoever. Which is precisely why this is not a post where I preach, or talk about my beliefs or opinions. This is a post destined to show how a simple girl, who admitted that she considered herself to be on the selfish side of things, decided to share the most valuable possession in her bonnet: her life. For she made it clear that she sees no end to this relationship, at least not in the near future.

The interview, which I can only assume was nothing short of an ordeal for her, showed me many things, particularly the one which is mentioned hence. The ability to see greatness in people who seem to be the worst of the litter is one which can be found even with the most unpredictable of people, and that in that greatness can lie the definition of one’s existence.

This isn’t a claim to, as mentioned above, deep and soulful love. This is an allusion to how even the most perplexing of relationships, and even the most unlikely of couples, can show how things are done. Happiness is the key here, as it is everywhere else, and the key is best found when a pair is on the lookout.

Does this mean that my stance on relationships and commitments has changes? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t like to admit anything just yet, in case the Valentine hangover passes, and I find myself under a mountain of promises which I had no intent of making in the first place.

So good luck to my dear friend, her partner, and their relationship. I wish them all the very best in life, and will attempt to keep my cynicism away from their blossoming relationship.

Happy End Of Valentine’s Day to all.

More than a teaspoon

It might interest you to know that I am an absolute devotee of the Harry Potter series, and so I feel obligated to tell you that this post has sought inspiration in one of my favourite scenarios of the Harry Potter universe.

For those of you who are as caught with the series as I, you may remember the scene which took place after the “infamous” kiss between Harry Potter and Cho Chang, in the Room of Requirements, just before they broke for Christmas. The trio sat before the large fire in the Gryffindor common room and discussed the range of emotions which Cho must he feeling as a result of the kiss, to which Ron lovingly replies: “one person can’t feel all that, they’d explode!”.

As it would turn out, Ronald was wrong. For a great period of time, I was under the misconception that my own emotional range was that of, to quote Hermione from the same scene, a teaspoon. Recently, I have found myself in a great emotional upheaval, to which I simply cannot adapt due to always having believed myself as immune to the sway of feelings.

It therefore came to me as a great surprise when I found myself unable to mask an aspect of my life which I had so successfully disregarded for as long as I could remember. The surge of emotions which overcame me like a tidal wave left behind an uprooted collection of incorrect beliefs about myself which I realised had been forming the pillars of my rather faulty existence.

Today, while attending an unnecessarily lengthy seminar on “Happiness”, I realised that, for all the times I had been happy about the fact that I had matured or evolved at a respectable rate, I was as emotionally developed as a frog, assuming frogs are not emotionally developed at all. It was not the seminar which prompted this realisation, for I have heard enough old men drone on endlessly to be immune to their words. No, I learnt this because as I sat there, mechanically nodding to the discussion, I realised that I could be doing something so much more productive.

However, an epiphany was to strike first. I realised that ever since I had been delved into the stormy sea of feelings about half a week ago, my mind had more or less become numb. Impervious to the thoughts and words of those around me, I had learnt that when confronted with intense sentiment, I stopped growing. This both startled and deeply upset me. How could I be seventeen, well aware of the plagues of society, perfectly in the knowledge of what my life shall amount to, yet not know how to deal with a simple case of feelings?

Everything which my closest friends had been saying or implying struck home. I realised that I had so much to learn, so much to understand and so much to apply that I may not have been alive these past two decades at all! Nothing I knew would amount to anything because I had what I believed was the emotional range of a teaspoon, but was actually just a mass of inexperience. Not knowing how to handle basic emotions like sadness, jealousy, happiness even or the more complex ones like love and hate, remains my greatest flaw and the greatest hindrance of the mental growth which I have prioritised all my life.

Contrary to popular belief, epiphanies are rarely followed by radical change. The change does come, but after a certain “incubation” period, so to speak, after the moral of the epiphany has had tome to settle in. And so whereas I am now aware of my incapacitation to handle these emotions, there is really no evidence to suggest that I’ll be able to actually do so starting right now. Then again, maybe I will.

Time will tell.

Dealing in joy

It has often come to my attention that the Universe has, over the course of the few billion years of its existence, lost its grip on the balance of things which usually governs everything we do. I tend to flatter myself every now and then and thus took it upon me to restore the balance which I so very sorely missed.

A word of advice here, one which I have myself created and which has nothing to do with the habit of which I spoke previously: maintaining the balance of the Universe is easier said than done. Valiantly though I had set out upon my conquest, I gave up unfortunately quickly.

Often, you will find that the need to be useful, and the desire to be productive can work miracles in the case of despair. The very same happened with me earlier this year. Feeling downhearted at the prospect off having let go of my noble desire, rather mission, I found solace and, for all intents and purposes, inspiration, in chocolate, of which too I have promised to speak.

It was perhaps the sinful, bitter taste of chocolate which awakened my senses as no imbalance of the Universe had. I looked around me and was startled to see that people spoke with one another in monotonous, expressionless tones and with dull, lifeless faces. Scattered amidst these scenes of indifference were façades of intense, unyielding misery.

I myself am a great admirer of joy: sheer, unadulterated humour is my idea of time best spent. To see this lack of joy in abundance in a surrounding which I was associated with did not sit well with me. I then decided to spread as much joy as I could, which at once reminded me of the restoration vow I had taken earlier. This got me thinking about how one large, integrated vow was much easier to keep than two rather difficult ones.

This logic, at the time of its conception, had made wonderful sense and so I was prompted to follow it through to the end. I did, and I can proudly say that I found a way to bring my integrated vow to life and to hold on to it. Fortunately, the plan unfolded flawlessly and seemed to have a lot of promise in store.

It is rather a simple pan you see. For every sad, miserable, teary-eyed person I find, I shall provide some form of joy, humour or comic relief to another. In such a way, I play my own trivial part in the restoration of the Universal balance along with spreading joy, thus fulfilling both of my vows. At the end of the day, I sit and match up my joyful people with the Universe’s miserable ones.

Soon, I spotted a glaring flaw in my thus far beautifully logical act of charity: the people that I do distribute joy to eventually become miserable too. And so, I decided to instigate a small change in my M.O. Instead of providing joy to a person for every miserable person I see, I decided to give out joy to as many people as I could.

One fine day, while championing the great cause of Universal balance, I was struck with brand new realisation. Since I was helping the Universe with restoring its balance, it would be senseless if the Universe didn’t pay me back somehow. And so, based upon that completely vague, absolutely abstract and downright senseless deduction, I set out looking for a gift, more payment than gift really, from the Universe. Adamant to prove to myself that I wasn’t in fact going crazy, I actually found something which could very well be Universe’s sign.

You see, every once in a while, when the Universe feels grateful for my help, it pays me back with ready-made humour. It may be a scenario which greatly amuses me, or seeing people laugh out, or anything which makes me feel like my conquest is, in fact, paying off. This may make absolutely no sense, but once you start to give out some joy, then you shall see the feeling of greatness which accompanies seeing joy in action. For spreading joy has a joy of its own.

Happy with the progress  I was making, I decided to tell my friend about my noble act, whose only query was regarding the identity of my dealing partner. I am an atheist, and so it made no sense to my friend that I should talk about the Universe as an entity. My response was rather obscure and is really quite difficult to explain but I shall try my best nonetheless.

When I talk about the Universe needing help or the Universe paying me back I don’t mean a particular entity who is somehow in charge of the various ongoings of things around us. I refer instead to the Universal sense of balance which is so very sorely missing nowadays. This is the same sense of balance which is responsible for the existence of day and night, for desert and ocean, for sky and ground, for good and evil, for light and dark.

“Who creates that balance? Looks to keep it stable?” asked my friend and, momentarily, I was stumped. Then I answered as best as I could: the beauty of the Universe is that it doesn’t need anyone to balance. Every single particle, every single molecule works to maintain that balance by its own. Every particle in the Universe will go about doing what it is meant to do irrespective of whether we spot it or not.

My friend’s next question was even more trying: “How do these particles know that it’s their job to give you funny stuff to laugh at?” And yet again I thought that my brilliant theory had met its close, but it hadn’t. The Universe doesn’t create anything for me, or for you, or for anyone. The Universe simply exists, it prolongs its own life, and should one spot something which they feel is out of place and they meddle, well so be it.

The only reason that the Universe seems out of balance to me is because I spot something and that it is out of balance. Maybe it is not so at all, maybe the Universe is perfectly in balance, maybe my meddling will have not make any difference at all and we will end up exactly where we were  supposed to in the first place.

My friend doesn’t like the concept of anything predestined. To all such people: maybe nothing is meant to be a particular way, maybe the Universal balance has been disturbed, maybe its been disturbed because ages ago someone meddled, maybe my meddling will also cause some effect, maybe the Universe does need someone to spot its discrepancies.

Whatever may be the case, as long as what I am doing doesn’t have any detrimental effects, I feel confident in carrying on with my mission. I shall keep doing what I do, until I can sense that the Universal balance has been somewhat restored. Wish me luck.