Sanguine, not bloody

A surge of blood to the cheeks marks your elation when told how pretty you look in those new clothes you picked out for yourself. Is this the first time you’ve gone shopping all alone? Well done, my dear; you look smashing. Your cheeks are on fire today. Does my opinion really mean that much to you? I’m glad to have been of service, really, but the pleasure is all mine; the blood in your cheeks lights a fire in your eyes. Cherish that fire, my dear, for there are few things that blood does which are sanguine; the rest are all just bloody.

Your lips feel warm when my tongue runs across them, as though brimming with an urgency to escape and consume me in my entirety. Is it your blood at work again? Has the blood returned to fuel your inner fire, displaying your lust proudly for others to see, to touch, to feel? The quickening of that monotonous beat, sounding where your chest touches mine, tells me that your lips are not the only thing being singed by the ceaseless stream of elixir we’ve so come to fear. It’s really a lovely stream, my dear; most definitely sanguine, and not bloody.

Fuck! I bit you! Apologies, my dear; I was not aware that the same blood which flows in your veins also flows in mine. They’d told me differently when I was younger. My blood was redder than yours, they’d said; after all, you were green, and I was scarlet, like the aching scream of a dying sun. Look, though, how the same red that drove sense from my mind and into my loins now pools in your mouth. Spit it out, my dear, and look how it swirls. Here, let me show you mine, and we can watch them blend together, such that they might well have come from one body, one soul, one heart. The colour only brightens, my dear; even blood itself is more sanguine than bloody.

Don’t fret now, my darling. It’s only a little prick, and then you get to see the clear tube fill with a crimson glow. It’s serene, really; there is something calming about this deep, violent flood. To think, the answers to our questions lie in the scarlet depths of this tiny tube; answers to questions we didn’t want to ask in the first place. Curious, isn’t it, my dear; we would never have had to ask these questions had your blood, which really is the same as mine, not betrayed your mind, taking its body along with it? I have faith in the answers that this tube holds, but I see that you don’t. Answers are rewarding; and the blood, once again, at least for me, is sanguine. Is it just bloody for you, my dear?

Oh, the world is a horrid, horrid place. When did the red that signalled love and passion bend its will to ire? Or has it always been this way; have the two been so intricately linked, forever, that the difference only now emerges? Does knowing make you feel better, my dear, or would you much rather have lived out your days in the tranquillity of ignorance? You don’t blush like you did that first day anymore, but you bleed more. Has knowing why you bleed made you feel better, or is the blood still as bloody as it was before? Knowledge is good, they tell me; does that mean that your blood, paler now than it used to be, is more sanguine now that I know?

There is a stillness to you which I am not familiar with. In all our years together, I have never once seen you this calm, this restful, this immobile. What of your blood, I asked them; they said it has frozen inside your veins. Will it never rush to your face again, my dear? Is that why you feel so cold when I hold you? All you ever were, it would seem, was the flowing fire within you; a fire which has drowned in a frozen pool of red. There is a poetry to it, don’t you think? And yet, just this once, the blood that made you so alive is more bloody than sanguine.

You’ve been silent a long time now, my dear. When your blood froze, we tucked you into a bed of earth and covered you with the sky. Has the sky been keeping you warm? Has your blood thawed enough that your lips are warm to the touch again? I’d thought not. Nothing is warm anymore if I’m being honest. I wonder, often, if my blood too is freezing, even as I breathe? It certainly seems so. It has no reason to be warm anymore, with no one to feel its commanding heat but the inside of my skin, which is has long resigned to the feeble atrocities the crimson tyrant is capable of committing. Sometimes, I wish to see if the crimson tyrant is still crimson, or if the malaise has turned it black and sludgy; maybe that is why it hurts to breathe. Black and sludgy, yes; there is nothing sanguine about that.

I’m told the colour has faded from my skin, my dear; the little ones, whose faces fill up with fire like yours did so many years ago, or was it yesterday? They come to me often, climbing atop my thin bed in this room of white and blue, and ask me for stories of a time when things were redder. Nothing is red anymore, my dear; not crimson, nor scarlet. The faces which flush when they pant are not the right red, but a rosy pink at best. No one bleeds into their souls anymore. I feel my blood freezing too, now that I think about it. Is that why the false reds are here, to bid me adieu? I’ll be happier where you are, my dear; we’ll thaw our blood together. It’d be nice to see sanguinity again; the blood that they have here is just far too bloody.

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.

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.

The lost art of Reading Time

The warmth of the watery, January Sun has seeped into my bones enough to cause me to step out of my shell of Winter laziness and pick up a pen and paper, and then my laptop. I’d like to thank you all sincerely for sticking by this rather mad collection of words over the past few months and would like to ask for your support for the long days to come. We can make something truly great out of this journey, all we need is some hard work. And so before I delve into a description about another one of my quirks, I would like to sincerely request you to leave some comments in the “Comments” section (points for apt naming) so that I can see what it is about this weblog that interests you and what more should I write on.

The idea of this post struck me on my train journey back from home, when I saw a young boy consumed with the digital age, almost uprooted from the fertile land of analogue discovery which defined my childhood. No, it wasn’t as menacing as this sounds, but it might as well have been. After having had a week to gather my thoughts, I am eager to bring forward this particular post and even more eager for your reviews.

As a child, I had been obsessed with watches. As a slightly older child, I am still obsessed with watches. I distinctly remember the long trips to the markets undertaken in the fiery heat with relatives I barely remember, just for the prospect of obtaining an analogue watch, or a “big person watch” as I then considered it. Soon that obsession converted to digital watches, then back to analogue, but the need to have a watch stayed constant.

I remember putting people in situations where they would have to ask me the time and I would get the opportunity to flip my skinny wrist over and proudly read out the time. Soon, the motion became reflexive, and on the dark, unfortunate, days where I didn’t have a watch my wrist would jerk towards me anyway to remind me of the fact. Then, the mobile was invented.

In all fairness, mobiles had been around forever, or for as long as I had known what a mobile was, but no one seemed to turn to the big ugly things for time; they were just or calling. Then they became more and more integral to life: my elder siblings, and others around me also unable to withstand the onslaught of “digitization”, started using them for sending text messages, then for listening to music, then for taking pictures, then for every act of man conceivable. Somewhere in this mess of making our lives entirely the fruit of battery power and LCD screens, the art of reading time got lost.

I realise that this sounds as though I am vehemently against technology, which further makes me a hypocrite (by the very fact that I am using a weblog), but neither of those notions, the former for sure and hopefully the latter too, are true. I am wholeheartedly in support of technology, being myself reliant on it, I believe it to be a great creation of mankind. However, seeing that boy, less than half my age and watch-less, use his father’s phone to tell the time was a soul-stirrer.

I spent the rest of my hours on the train engaging in activities which were as far from technology as possible. I enjoyed a few chapters of Orhan Pamuk’s brilliant book, Silent House; I put my mind into solving the Rubik’s cube; I procured an abandoned cooking magazine (no doubt in lieu of digital cookbooks available on the range of device currently planning our demise); and I enjoyed the beautiful countryside fly by my window.

However, my celibacy from technology was short-lived. Already aware of the impending ambush by digital substitutes of all things I held dear, I sought to steer myself away from the young boy who had fallen into the iron clasp of technology before he had learnt to defend himself. Alas, I could not. I was once again placed opposite his inability to read time without the aid of a back-light and large digits on a glass screen.

Waves of pity and remorse coursed through me as I saw the child get absorbed in a train-themed running game on that very device. It wasn’t just the absence of analogue watches which bothered me, though that played the major part; it was the realisation of the fact that as we advance, we leave things behind. It seems obvious and I can be called foolishly small-minded, but I find it hard to give up things which define us in some way or the other.

What will be next to go, after time-reading? Will we forget how to write with pens on paper? Will we no longer fall sleep to the smell of books? Will we let go of the sweet pain felt at the top of a long flight of stairs? What further sacrifices must we make in the bargain?

Of course, all this could be an overreaction to something which ought not to be given even a moment’s thought, but that message hasn’t quite reached my mind yet, and I would like to get this post across before it does. It isn’t just about holding on to outdated things in the face of modernization; it isn’t even about reluctance to accept the change that comes with a developing world. No, it’s about weighing what we leave behind with what we accept, and creating some sort of balance.

I tried writing this up on my cell phone earlier this week, yet something about the feel of a keyboard is irreplaceable, and so here I find myself drafting yet another post on my trusty computer, which I have grown a certain fondness for.

Change is inevitable, that is not only an obvious fact but one which has been overstated. However, change is also relative. It is only change when we compare it to what is already there. If we give up everything that is already there, how will we define change any more?

Something to think about I suppose, in the park, with trees, and dogs, and ponds, and grass, and wooden benches, and tea stalls, and not a single LCD screen in sight.

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.

Dancing Tables

There is something undeniably eerie about the mysterious companion we lovingly call memory. I have found myself, on more occasions than I can name for lack of remembrance, thinking about the unending onslaught of memory. The devious monster parts ways with us when we need it most of all, but returns with vivid images of a past we have long forgotten when we are least on guard. Usually these flashbacks are a consequence of lack of activity, yet there are days when the cunning scythe of memory eradicates all in its path and resurfaces, unabated.

Today was one such day. You see, I had been busy all day long, and whereas I had willingly kept myself preoccupied with trivial ongoings, I was largely unavailable for random thought through no effort of my own. Yet despite being so very engaged, and with yet a truckload of very consuming chores lined up ahead, I found my mind drifting off into a time which I vaguely remembered. After fighting the subconscious recollections of that past for some time, I gave in and decided to embrace my enemy as a friend.

But I refused to be thrown into a pit of sorrow on a day when things had been favouring the tide. So instead of wallowing in the more demoralising parts of my existence, I decided to focus on the fair. I am proud to say that I did not fail. In fact, I succeeded rather remarkably. I managed to look deep into the recess of my mind and find the one memory which is the high to all lows, the up to all downs, the sunshine to all clouds. It is a memory of the simpler days, when being carefree was the only care we had.

Amongst the many great things about this one memory which has helped me through thick and thin is that I can share it with someone. It may seem like a trivial point, but in a way it makes all the difference in the world. I do not know what it is, but there is a feeling which fills your mind when you think of a happy moment spent in the company of someone you swore never to forget, and that feeling drives all worries from your mind. The feeling probably cannot be described, for it is slightly irrational, making it all the more satisfying.

Only the other day I was telling a close friend of mine about the basic principles which govern our lives, for no other reason that to make conversation, when I realised how flawed all my theories would have been were it not for this particular memory. For I have based almost all my life’s greatest decisions on the sensation of comfort which this memory gave me. Today, while trying to remember the feeling which the memory always left me with, I was presented with the greatest curse to have befallen mankind since temptation: forgetfulness.

I have spent the last few paragraphs speaking about the sweet comforts of a memory which I claim has stayed with me all these years and has been a  great part of my life, yet I honestly cannot recall most of the details of the memory at all. I do not know what I was wearing that day, what the weather was like, what time of year was it, or even how I ended up in that particular place at that particular time. So why is that memory so significant?

I do, despite my rather pitiful recollection powers, recall the person I was with, the joke which had us laughing for almost half a day hence, the place where we were and the disinterest of those around us. The disinterest, in the most corrupt way possible, gives me hope: it tells me that even when no one else cares about that one day sometime in the last ten years, I always will.

Does that suffice? Are a few details about a once happy-go-lucky time spent with an old childhood comrade enough to imbibe the feeling of warmth, comfort and security? Is that all it would take for someone to calm me down: a sketchy picture of a past I barely remember?

Somehow, I find that very unconvincing.

It is not always that I sit at my desk and lose myself in a sea of memories only to resurface hours later bathed in the sweet joy of recollection. In fact, when asked, I would say that I am amongst those few unfortunate souls who condemns dwelling in the past. And so I find myself justified when I say that there is something about this memory which not only allows me to let go of my principles, but also encourages me to indulge myself in a habit I can only ever call pathetic.

Think as I may, I cannot find the answer. I do not intend to pile upon your already swamped lives the trifle tale of a troubled boy, and I shan’t either, but in this time of the unknowing I find it best to share my woes while harbouring the illusion that someone is listening. You will find on multiple occasions that you, too, have this sketchy, unusually comforting memory, with no apparent reason for its existence; tell me when that happens, and I shall be all ears.

Life has always had a way of presenting me with opportunities to create great memories out of, and I shall be forever grateful for that. However, I do wish, on occasion, that since life is so gracious in giving memories, if it would be just as gracious with taking them, if only to create space for new ones. It is not that I do not value this particular memory above all others, for I do, but as long as this one has caught my hold, I doubt I’ll be able to move on to a newer, potentially more comforting one.

At last, I would like to thank the person who shares this memory with me, making this memory and my life come alive when I most need it. For I may one day forget all the details of this memory, and I may forget the memory itself, and the feeling that this memory leaves me with and anything about this memory, but I shall always remember my companion.

Thank you dear comrade: Dancing Tables.