Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Edge

The sun glaring down at my face,the wind in my hair mess me up as I travel to town on a local train(surprise,surprise).No,I am not vivek Oberoi leaning out to catch a glimpse of my 'rani'(though i wouldn't mind it).I am just one among many passengers in the train.

It is peak hour traffic on the central line.People are crammed inside like sardines in a can.The heat and humidity of March adds up to the volatile tempers fraying inside the compartment.All i can see from where i hang is hands,limbs and a few faces here and there.My fingers hold on to the railing desperately.There are about seven more people at the door,who share my fears and enthusiasm in staying alive.together we hang;like festoons on a window;waving along as the train chugs its usual path.

Buildings and shanties pass me as i hang perilously with one foot on the ledge and the other frantically searching for earth.We raise 'one' remaining hand to our foreheads in prayer as we pass a temple.I pray for an extra day to survive.There are many people who sit on the opposite banks of the rail tracks.They are up to their morning 'chore'.This is a regular feature.Not the best view in town,but the most viewed.The morality police never catch us for those,do they now??

The crowd swells to an unbearable limit,as we depart from a major station in the suburbia.For somebody watching from the outside,it might look as if the compartment were bursting at its seams.Inside,jostling and shouting matches take place.The crowd becomes more violent and aggressive.Whoever said that indians are peaceful people,better travel in trains once a while.These ruckus' push people near the door onto the door and we,well....we are just 'touching the train'.We hang on with every pint of energy present in us,for the sake of dear life.

Seconds seem longer than hours in this position.i pray to god to grant me strength,as the train comes to a standstill right above a bridge.I am hanging 30 ft above black,muddied -and dare I say it-water.though my knowledge of geography might describe it as a stream,my sensory organs would disagree.To my eyes it seemed to be a gigantic gutter,while my nose struggled to stay alive over it.


Finally,I reach at my destination.Haggled,afraid and pushed around by eerybody.Though,I have enough adrenalin to keep me going through the day without a cup of coffee.My thoughts wander as i am adjusting my clothes and hair.I wonder why terrorists have to find so many complicated ways to kill a group of people that are anyways struggling to stay alive.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Am In Heaven

I woke up one day to find myself lying on the grass with the sun shining above me.I sat up and beheld a beautiful valley sprawled below me.As far as i could extend my eyes,a lush green carpet of grass spread out.Cows,grazing nonchalantly,ocassionally raised their heads to greet me.The bright,blue,sky extended like a canopy,much beyond the great blue peaks with their tiaras of white,fluffy clouds.The sound of a waterfall gushing somewhere,wafted in the air alongwith the chorus of sparrows.The smell of wet mud filled the air and calmed me.Fear,surprise,joy and excitement created a chaos of emotions inside me.

I removed my shoes and felt the ticklish grass.The wind had stopped in a pregnant pause,waiting for me to take the next step.In that moment of surreal calm,I knew I was experiencing bliss.I decided to run down to the valley floor.A surge of happiness bursted through my insides.I ran like never before.For freedom,for joy,for life.I jumped,as i reached the bottom of the slope.My feet never touched the ground again.I was now gliding along the wind.I had turned into a bird.An eagle,to be exact.I sounded my clarion call as I flew across the meadow and above the forests.Birds in the forest raised an orchestra of voices as they answered me.With a swish of my wings,I rose higher than the wind could take me.I now set my sights to the twin peaks.

I increased my pace.Suddenly,flying seemed effortless.My body had started vanishing.I was becoming the wind itself.I passed over the rivers causing ripples to form.I flew towards the sun,peeking mischeviously from behind the twin peaks.With a sense of invincibility,I rushed into the white hazy clouds.

A soft,comforting embrace enveloped me.I melted into it.My heart could not contain all the medley of feelings welling up inside it.They began to flow out through my eyes.Crying,is not a word I would use to describe it,but i have no other.My tears drizzled down as gentle rain upon the valley floor.The grass now glittered as though sprinkled with diamonds.I wanted to touch them.I rushed down with the rain.

I landed on the cool,wet grasswithout as much as a sound.I was tired.My body had been drained of all the energy that it posessed.I dozed off to sleep with the wind blowing,upon a feathery grass bed;beneath an apple tree and the rainbow perchng between the mountains.

The next time I woke up,was on my bed.The curtains on the window were drawn,to allow the golden sunlight to enter the house.The smile on my face refused to leave me for the next few hours.My mom spotted me like that,stiffened and said,"Forget It!!You are not getting any more of the gulab jamun in the fridge"

Friday, March 23, 2007

HIGHWAY THROUGH THE DANGERZONE

His big,bloodshot eyes follow me as i walk through the alley.It is not night yet but the power cut in the locality has added to the eeriness of the street.I am walking at a frenzied pace.he has been following me for the last 20 metres.I take the road uphill.It leads to my school.It would be deserted now,but I know shortcuts from there and might give him the slip.I can sense the anger in his motion.I glance above my shoulder,and find him gnashing his fang-like teeth.man!and mom says i have scary teeth.I shift gears and pick my speed up.He follows.He is close by now.My instincts kick i and I flee the spot.Never before had I run like that.Barren,leafless trees hover above me at the top of the hill.I stop to catch my breath.for a moment too long,he catches me.Why is he following me?,I wonder.breathless,I hit the left.I know,there is a shortcut that hits the main junction from here.He divebombs me,almost snapping my leg.I run hard,my pursuer runs better.Fear clouds my eys.A outstretched limb trips me over.I yield ground.He stops a yard away.His frame covers the only route of escape.He lumbers towards his victim.I can see a lust for blood in his eyes.I blindly throw my hands around,to find anything that could help me.He leaps at me,his fangs wide open.I thrash the side of his head with a srone.Stunned,he falls back.I regain my foothold.Now,I am taller than him.He staggers back.I throw the 'missile' at him.I miss,but he does not wait to check.

I get up,dust myself and continue the walk home.Damn!!stupid dog!!Almost scared me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A MIDSUMMER AFTERNOON

It is a dull,boring summer afternoon.I have exhausted all my resources of occupying myself.I lie there on the cot,with the earphones plugged in,gazing nonchalantly at the fan whirring incessantly as it creaks.The sun outside is baking up the ground.The cement pathway is so hot that some of its inhabitant mongrels have taken shelter under parked cars.The cars themselves,are not doing too well.I can see dust,grime and crow shit baked on them.they look like they could do with a cold shower.These are some of the unfortunate ones.Others like me,have a more comfortable life.They sit at home,listen to music,have a nap......not exactly.


IT is difficult to stay at home in such times.At least for me,its true.So why is it so?? My father always-like many other fathers-talked about how he spent his childhood struggling.He regaled me with stories of how they never had all the comforts that we have.How he would go to some richer neighbour's house if he had to watch a match on doordarshan.How he would never get any toys and had to put up with playing with homemade stuff and trees outside the house.Well,for all those people who think youngsters today have it easy?? think again.


Look around you.It is summer.schools,Colleges are closed.Yet there hardly are kids playing outside.Well for a start;Dad; there is no OUTSIDE.Our building ends right where the next one begins.You could pass the curd in my house to the neighbour and hardly spill a drop.Well,such closeness also has its benefits....Coming to the point,Kids don't have playgrounds like they had it in times yore.As for trees.The only ones left in this city are 'endangered species'.
When we play on the streets to avoid breaking our neighbour's glasses,you stop us saying "It is Dangerous".In such troubled times gadgets are the only solace kids have.At least we can beat the Australian team on the PC.

Even the use of gadgets is highly overrated.To be honest,I am around 20 and the most complicated gadget that I have used is a cellphone.Not all have playstations and Xbox 360s lying around.Even if hey did,living in my part of the town you are wont to have it lying in dust .We don't have electricity for 6-8 hours AT LEAST.(Mind it!I don't live in a shanty either.)So I can't use my 'gadgets' for long enough to waste precious time.

Third,no young boy of 20 years age can afford to stay at home playing.Not that the younger ones do.Half of my friends are busy in their jobs,careers,getting on with life et al.The younger ones -The ones I bully,at least try to- are off to coaching classes.I am curious.Many are busy preparing for the next year of exams.I never prepared for the exams before the penultimate day.

That leaves me alone.The daydreamer,stays at home writing nonsense on his PC.Such that only like minded people like to read.Mom shouts from the kitchen to make me sell the papers and useless items and get some change.I try to ignore her.But it is hard to do that when she comes out with a metal tongs in her hands."Do that and get me some groceries,or forget your coffee",she warns me.Whoever said that youngsters today have it easy.....Dad,you were lucky

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Over The Top

I stood there on the ledge.Alone,Desperate.The wind blew hard in my face;as if to dissuade me.Below me,an endless trail of tracks snaked into the fast darkening horizon.The sun shimmered ominously in the twilight sky.Somewhere faraway,a lone canine called out to the pale moon.Soon,a chorus of howls inundated the chill air.My heart is beating so fast,I can hear it.I step down to calm myself.One look around the creepy,tattered bridge assures me that I am alone.The train shrieks as it passes below the bridge.Its rumble shakes the earth beneath my feet.

I toughened myself up.I had to do this.I climbed onto the ledge again.This time I was not alone.A lone night owl is waiting for a sight of its prey.He tilts his head and studies me with his bright round eyes.I avoid his gaze and concentrate on a more important job.I look down.It must've been thirty feet to the ground.One step ahead takes me thirty feet below,strange!!I push my stiffened body over the ledge.I can see the light of a train.Maybe it's an express one!Suddenly there is a creepy calm.I feel like I am falling into a vaccum.I hit the ground,without a sound.I feel nothing.My body is strangely limp.

I open my eyes.It is all dark around me.I try to stand up,but my back is killing me.My head shoots up instinctively.All I can see is an old fan creaking as it whirs on my room's ceiling.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lage Raho.....

It is a busy traffic circle.Cars and bikes smoke past.Everybody is busy running from one end to th e other.Nobody notices him standing in the centre.An old,bespectacled man hunched on a stick;right in the centre of the circle.He has been standing there for a long time.I don't know why he hasn't crossed the road yet.Maybe that is not his purpose.The sun burns down with a purposeful vengeance.His bald head does not seem to be the best headwear to me.Birds,all kinds hover around him.He doesn't seem to care.And interestingly,neither do they.This strange view attracts a little girl's atention,as she passes by in a car.All she gets in return is a bark from her mother to keep her hands inside.The birds are very calm on his shoulder.Suddenly,one of them undergoes a minor'indigestion'.His expression does not change for a moment,his smile is unwavering.As if nothing happened.

It is an hour past and he still stands there.Steady and rock solid on his staff.A man is right next to him.He looks like one of those rich businessmen.He is puffing on his cigarette.Well,as if that wasn't enough,he has a mouth full of 'paan'.He sneaks a look around,like a thief about to pick a pocket,and spits.Right on the old man,leaving a red abstract stain on his dhoti.Not even a sorry muttered.I look at the old man,for some expression of anger.I am disappointed.Not a wince,his face is stoic.I know it now.He is one of those pacifists,who would bear every oppression in staunch non-violent manner.I knew if this guy had the strength,he would have cleaned the stain and smiled at the 'culprit'. GANDHIGIRI - They call it.All philosophical nonsense.Who will bear everything bravely,without getting angry,cursing or hitting his opponent?I won't.Some boys pass him.Raucous and screeching in mirth.One of them imitates him and gives birth to a new joke.They throw away empty packets of biscuits at his feet.Immediately three scourging mongrels pick them up and run away.Wish some of us had the decency they have.I decide to leave the old man alone and concentrate on my lunch.

I decide its time to get home.I walk past him for the last time.The plaque beneath him reads -MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND "MAHATMA" GANDHI -FATHER OF OUR NATION.I smile at him.Wonder if this was the nation he wished for,dreamed of,gave his life for?Only if he had a voice.If only he could speak.....again.

Na Poocho Dard Bando se
Hasi Kaisi Khushi Kaisi
Musibat sar Pe Rahti Hai
Kabhi Aisi Kabhi Kaisi.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Long Drive

I got into the rickshaw.It already had two passengers.A girl my age and an old uncle. The rickshaw-wallah looked back and said,"Meter pe chalega(Pay according to the meter)." I nodded my head before asking him,"Meter toh chalega,na?(At least the meter will work)".He smiled.Thus the drive began.

I was returning from college after writing my exams.I guess the paper wasn't too easy,which is why I skipped my walk home and got into the rick.The rickshaw is a very quaint little thing.Though I do not take it very often,it is something I enjoy riding in.Better than a car or a bike.Maybe because I feel safer in it.The ride home is a long one,the driver knew this better than anybody else.Sensing two young people in his 'Feraree',he switched on the FM.The speakers behind us blared,for a minute the world went silent.The poor uncle could not help but mumble in irritation.He glared at the driver,who oblivious of his doingsang along in merriment.I could not help but smile.Well,I loved the song.The uncle caught me in the act,glared at me.I looked the other way.

Halfway through the journey now.We were past the ever ensuing traffic of the main road and on the last stretch home.This was the rougher part of the road.The rickshaw wallah seemed very confident of his driving skills,the uncle wasn't.In the meanwhile he(driver) turned to me and started alking India's chances in the world cup.I,for a moment was caught unawares.Then taking a cautious approach,I expressed a positive wish that maybe they might just make it this time.People can be real sensitive about cricket in this country.He laughed.My bluff was called.I had no choice but to argue in support of the topic.I was facing a tough opponent.He seemed to know every flaw that Sunil Gavaskar and Vengsarkar might have ovelooked while selecting the team.Suddenly the wise old man spoke up beside me.Well,the debate got tougher coz,he belonged to the generation that had seen the cup home.He started comparisons of the present team and "victorious" one.The rickshaw driver decided to take the safer side.The girl,who somehow seemed familiar,was worrying sick lest the driver should bang the convoy into an oncoming divider.We three were unaware of her fears,and perhaps a little insensitive too.I know exactly what she might have thought,"MEN",just like mom and many other unfortunate women do.

We reached home finally.I got down and paid the fare and bid farewell to my entertaining friend.The uncle warned me to watch out for his predictions.The driver grinned and asked me when the matches will begin.I informed him the dates.Just as we were about to leave,the last member of our party remarked the silliness of the whole debate.The driver snapped,"You would never know",and sped off.She looked at me in surprise.I just shrugged.

IN a country where the pitches carry the name of the 'Caesar' Sachin,followed by the 'Triumvirate' of Dada,Jammy and 'the new kid' Dhoni;cricket is more than just another sport.It can make friends,enemies.It is a religion that runs much deeper in our bloods than any other thing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

MOM

She stands there in the kitchen,cooking,unaware of the importance of today.For her it is the same,every day,every month,every year.I don't know when I met her.They tell me it was in the hospital.I was a little pink mass of flesh;wriggling and bawling loudly.I ask her about it and she smiles proudly.I love the way she does that.Not that she looks awesomely beautiful,the wrinkles all over her face are ugly.

I was always afraid of her.Maybe,afraid is not the right word.I can't remember an accurate word,but it was not a fear.It was something of a respect.I still remember the times when she spanked me for not doing well in my tests.She would hold me by the wrists,and hit me on the knuckles.I don't think it was of much use,but somehow I never got angry at her for doing that.
I don't think she ever grew tired of me.She would diligently wake me up,bathe me,and drag me to school.With me it was never that easy.I would bawl all the way up the hill.She would always promise me a chocolate if I behaved well in school,I remember that.But she would never give me any.Instead she would roll out some balls of jaggery and give it to me.I loved those days,when she would place me on the ledge and feed me.She would never eat before feeding me,and still does not.As I grew up,she was the only one who supported me unconditionally.

I disappointed her a lot.In my late teens,I quite lost an interest of studies.I did very badly.She was suffering a lot within her heart.My father gave up on me,she didn't.Even now,when I refuse to do anything that my father tells me,She holds him back.Then she would convince me,somehow,to do it.Maybe it is in her blood.That amazing power of persuasion.She has never changed since then.

My family has been through good times and bad times.But I was never a part of it.Even when we were in a financial crisis,she never flinched.She knew to utilise her resources.She would take tuitions throughout the day.I guess she had enough experience teaching a bad child.Our single room flat would be covered with children sprawling all its length and breadth.Even when I took up a part time job in my vacations,she said I could continue as long as I was able to manage my studies comfortably.You should have been there when I gave her my first salary,she was beaming.

I haven't lost my admiration for her.She still goes about doing her chores ritualistically.She has grown older,maybe a little weaker.But she is the same woman.My mother.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Book Of Knowledge

The book lies in my hands .Closed,ruddy and old.It has an ancient feel about it.I do not remember exactly when was the last time when somebody read it.but I guess it must have been a very long time,an year to be precise.I remember buying it from the old dusty shop in a bylane beside my college.I wasn't very enthusiastic about buying it.But my father had forced me into it saying that he wanted to see at least one book of my syllabus in my bag or else...He never finished the sentence,I didn't give him a chance to.I grudgingly spent thirty bucks on it.And then forgot all about it.

This always happens with me,buying a book and never using it again till the last day of my examination.Not that I am not a book lover.I love books - Novels,Comics,Stories etc.But books reccomended by teachers for the improvement of your knowledge in a particular subject,Nah.All year I spent my time roaming in the corridors,bunking lectures,arguing with my lecturers.It was there all the time,even when I almost failed.It watched every move of mine with an overbearing patience.As if it knew exactly when i would come to it.It waited.And it was right.

I was tensed.I had to find it.If not risk failing the examination.That would be a lot more dangerous than it sounds.I looked for it desperately.My drawer is not the easiest place to search for a thing,but I ha no other choice than succeeding.I found it at last.Resting between an old diary and the cluttered books.It felt priceless.I had never experienced this feeling,not even when I bought it.I was happy.I looked at the book.I felt like it was smiling at me too.As if saying,"I knew you'd come looking for me."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Room Beyond The Dark Corridor

The sun was in its prime outside the room.The feeling inside the room was not the same.There were about twenty boys and girls assembled.Each one seated nervously in his place.The tension in the room was mounting every minute.But not a word was uttered.Other than the ocassional sound of paper being flipped over,or the tip-tap of the pen on the desk,silence prevailed throughout.Time pased without any incidents.There would be an odd whisper here or there,but it would be silenced as soon as the clip-clop of the supervisor's footsteps would near.The sparrow was the only living being that had the courage to annoy him.It flitted from the huge tree outside,to the sill above the blackboard.As if in a show of disdain,it would drop pieces on its way.The odd peon would peep in with a cup of tea for the examiner.The examiner would look around the room in a sweeping glance and accept it.The boy in the first bench looks at him.The thirst is evident on his face,but he will have to wait.There are a few people like me in the room who are keeping an eye on every movement in the room.The girl on the bench next to me is irritated by the sound her bench makes every time she pressures her pen.The clock is ticking away in its own monotonous way.

The silence is killing me.I have a very strong urge to scream,tear my paper and storm out.It is impossible,I say to myself.I look at my paper.The blank reflection of my mind stares back at me.The boy in front of me is furiously scribbling away in his paper.I tap him on the shoulder.He refuses to look behind.I can't afford to quit.He irritably shakes his head,as if to ward a annoying fly away.I leave him alone.I look behind for a stray sign of hope.The person behind me might be friendly.He flashes me a huge grin.I get the point.He knows as much as I do.I return to my paper.If ever I read greek,it was now.The examiner,who has been watching me,as much as i him,smiles.It is a sly one.That of a hangman waiting for his prisoner.I glance at the clock again.It warns me that there are only fifteen minutes left.I scribble whatever I can imagine.As the bell nears,the tension reaches a feverish pitch.People are now scribbling as fast as they can.The speed of one girl is bothering me.Her pen might burn her paper up.Even the examiner increases his steps.He sets around distributing threads to tie the supplements.He doesn't bother to stop at my bench.Suddenly a deafening sound erupts.People look up as if waking from a hypnotised sleep.The emotions on everyones face is varied.One boy looks as though he just lost his girlfriend,while another is as smug as the one who got her.The papers are snatched,and assembled on the table.Whispers ,loud and audible begin to float around.The examiner asks everyone to get out.

I step outside.The sun grins widely at me.He does not know how it feels.He wasn't there.Inside the room beyond the corridor.

Monday, March 05, 2007

English Literature - Do not opt for it

What a day!Phew!!Its Examination time,and houdini like the rest of his clan is very busy studying.Yes!Even Houdini needs to study,though he still needs a miracle to pass.Today was one of my more dangerous assignments - ENGLISH LITERATURE.What is so dangerous about it?Reading poetry might sound a great idea to woo your girlfriend,but it is not the same for literature students.We look at a poem not just for its lyrical beauty,but also for its metre.Before entering this class I had no idea about how many poetic forms there were in this language.All I knew was that poetry would have 'rhyming' words and a musical note,and prose does not have that.Some knowledge of poetry I gained from a very strange book.You might have heard of it.It was "The Da Vinci Code".Remember the 'IAMBIC PENTAMETER'?yeah,it is a form of poetry where the syllables in every line are grouped together at the metric scale of five(penta).There are other forms like The Dramatic Monologue,The Petrarchan Sonnet,Elegies(sad ones),and Epic Poems.To remember all these forms along with the complexities,and their rhyme schemes is a herculean task.Not to mention that we also have to remember the more famous poems of each form,their literary importance and their poet's background.I love poetry,to be honest.I just don't like looking at it with a magnifying glass.It is like the engineer,who looks at his ferrari examining its flaws.I mean,come on!!Its a ferrari....sorry,beautiful poem.Look at its lyrical beauty,applaud the excellent and ornate words,rejoice in its meaning.Don't ask me to write a three page explanation on why Tennyson's "Ulysses" is better than Elizabeth Browning's "The Musical Instrument"or vice versa.It takes the entire fun out of reading verse.Of course,professional and better literature students would disagree with me.

A study of Literature,especially English,would be incomplete without the study of novels.We have the famous "Pride and Prejudice" and Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles".Honestly,I hate 'P & P'.It is a totally girly novel.Well,I understand it is of great historical importance.I beleive,it was the first novel written by a woman to have acquired such fame and rung in the advent of women novelists.Even then,it is downright silly for me.Thomas Hardy though occupies a much better stanin my eyes.I hear shouts of MCP!!No,listen it is just because I like tragedies much better than happy endings.Pessimist am i??I personally feel,that Hardy had the courage and conviction to take a different path and succeed as compared to his peers like Dickens and Thackeray.His total opposition of the belief in a 'omnipotent,benevolent and omniscient god'attracts me.In fact,he calls god the "First Cause" i.e the major imperfection which is the cause of misery.He goes on to add that destiny,not character,is the cause of human misery,one of his quotes in my book reads "Man can do what he wills,he cannot will what he wills".Another describes the ever present cruel and merciless society aptly saying,"Happiness is but an occassional episode in the general drama of pain". Interesting ain't it??
IN fact his writings caused such discomfort in the orthodox victorian society that his books were often treated as sham.His sympathetic portrayal of the 'fallen woman' in 'Tess....' evoked severe criticism.Its subtitle of "A Pure Woman" raised quite a few eyebrows.Now tell me?Do I wrong in placing him above Jane Austen?Well,I do place Jane Austen above the Bronte sisters and Mrs.Gaskell.But I love Thomas Hardy.

Apart from this we do have a detailed study about the backgrounds of the 19th century literature.From the Victorian Age,back to the Romanticists and the Classicists.This part is tough.We have a complete and perfect mixture of history,sociology and politics in these chapters.We have to study what went on behind the scenes as these famous authors and poets were busy in their drawing rooms on their 'little ivory'.It is all very important though,from the marks point of view.

Now,the question is why am I telling you all this?Because......I had my exam today and messed up real bad.My chits were bad enuf and the guy sitting in front of me was a real bozo who wouldn't show me anything.Now as I am home,my brain has just awoke and realised that the data stored in that unused locker for a long time,might actually have been of some use.Hence,I write this post so as to prove that I do have some knowledge about literature.Also,in a vain hope that if ever my english teacher does look into blogs,she might give me some grace marks.

Ma'am,please have mercy.Don't look at the visitors page and judge me. Remember


Admit that Homer sometimes nods,
That poets do write trash,
Our Bard has written "Balder-Dead"
And also Balder Dash

PS: That is not mine.It was written by Matthew Arnold.I just 'wikied' it.