17 Feb 2010

Title Matters Not

Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 2:03pm

Things must go wrong with him. There's no other way. All he gets is to chat with her, and then it all hangs at the mercy of the connection. And it goes bust at a most decisive moment.

It shows her offline. His messages don't reach her. He stares at the screen helplessly. She signs back in. Wasting no moment, he types... clicks send. And he sends more messages...

xxxx (her name)
xxxx. pls talk
am sorry, i ws upset...
wanted to write u... obviously can't be a blog post... when u suggested i put it on blog, i was upset... am sorry, xxxx
pls talk'
i am sorry. plssss talk
Not connected - [xxxx. i'm sorry, xxxx. pls talk]

Now he realises that he is offline! He quickly ups the connection. But he's a tad too late. She has gone offline!

Bad things happen in threes, according to probability. With him, though, they happen in hundreds, continuously, and with infallible precision. When even the most bitter cynicism fails, one starts laughing at himself.

While at it, a nice quote (about bad luck): "It floats around. Has to land on somebody. Say a storm comes through. Some folks sit in their living rooms and enjoy the rain. The house next door gets torn out of the ground and smashed flat. It was my turn, that's all."

30 Jan 2010

Elsewhere - Sequel

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:19am

I was told Elsewhere was as dismal as it could get. Dismal or not, the take was very simple - the bird (it could be a person) is broken. It is here, but it doesn't belong here. Its heart and soul are elsewhere. It longs to be there, but it can't be there, for some reasons. It is compelled to be here, but it knows it isn't here. There's no escape from this harsh fact. Everything comes to a rest. Existential crisis. A life in limbo. When the statement "life sucks" becomes the ultimate truth.

Anyways, it had a good side - a friend, who teaches at Banaras Hindu University, shared the following poems written by students. The first few lines suggest why the friend thought these were fitting to share.

when you get time just read this -
somewhat looks like your oeuvre -
morose, pessimistic, down in dumps
'uffff yeh life!'  variety of poems-
Connection Error
Metallic fog
Has wound itself around
Each one of us
Caught in its opaque grasp
We go through our lives
Hearing dimly
Feeling even less
When we hold out our arms
Hoping to connect
The metal glints
Brutal as mirror
All we can see in it is -
Our own faces
A Paean to Postmodern Love
Love -
a code sketched in dust
You look away
The wind blows
The pattern shifts
When you look again
You discover it says-
Something else.

- (courtesy, A.S.)

21 Jan 2010


Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 4:28pm

A flight, more aimless, never was
As hopeless nothing ever seemed
Stricken by endless pain
The bird had to fly, nonetheless

Lifeless, what else life is
When reduced to a pointless run
Gazed by the heartless grief
And clasped by faceless fetters

Flying here, yet not here
Heart and soul elsewhere
Heaven, this quite is not
Better is hell than this

Strangled tight by listless days
Cursed to a reckless fall
Tormented by sleepless nights
Sucked into a bog, depthless

A wordless quiet overwhelms
A flawless exit, happiness makes
And then, the colorless dusk
Fades into a moonless night

Flying here, yet not here
Heart and soul elsewhere
Heaven, this quite is not
Better is hell than this

Languid and sapless its wings
Deliverance, a useless pursuit
Wringed by anguish, ceaseless
As mirthless moments mock

Awaits the ruthless world 
To kill the fateless bird
As it is rendered helpless
By destiny most merciless

Flying here, yet not here
Heart and soul elsewhere
Heaven, this quite is not
Better is hell than this

24 Dec 2009


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:21pm

The artist, bemused and absorbed, stared at the wall. The wall was full of lines, scribbled at random. In all shapes and lengths, the lines didn't, at first glance, make any sense. Some of them were faint, some have been erased, some have vanished with the passage of time, and a few were indelible. They defined the theme and the meaning, and yet the meaning had a trace of persistent vagueness. Some fleeting lines were being drawn even as the artist continued to stare.

A moment shall come when the artist will cease to be, and the only justification for his existence is lent by the few lines, indelible and defining, that will still conceal a part of the meaning and yet make all his attention most meaningful.

1 Dec 2009

When NAQs become FAQs

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:43pm

"You never saw him, you never heard him. So why don't you give it a try?" my friend asked.

"Sorry. I would rather continue the stroll. You can attend the session and give me a call when you are done", I replied.

"You need not sit through the entire session. If you can't stand it, you could again go walking. I told you the campus is beautiful. And you loved it! So you can trust me when I say you will like this man too".

The campus was indeed huge and beautiful. But I didn't find my loving the campus a reason enough to trust my friend about my liking the man too. Actually, it's not about trust at all. However, it wasn't a moment to think deep about a word used by accident and merely as a trick to persuade. All the same, I reckoned there was nothing to lose. I admit I was indeed curious to see why this man attracted followers in millions across the globe. And I liked the fact that I need not sit through the entire session. "Okay! Great. Let's go!"

My friend was thrilled. "I bet you will like him. He has an aura and irresistible charm about him", he reassured.

"Great!" I smiled.

The gathering hall was huge and a definite achievement in architecture. We walked in. Hundreds of people were already sitting in meditative pose as a small group of singers rendered devotional numbers. The setting was, without doubt, impressive.

A few minutes later, the man - the new-age guru - walked in.

The earnest followers, more than six-hundred of them, stood up and welcomed him with rhythmic applause. Dressed in immaculate white robes and sporting a well-groomed beard, he received the welcome with grace. The initial words of blessing over, the audience sat down. I enjoyed observing the audience as much as I enjoyed observing the man who now became the cynosure of thousands of eyes.

All was fine till now, and then the questions began. And with every answer, my sense of wonder as to how millions could buy such views increased. He sounded like a filmmaker who plays to the gallery in order to play safe. Give what the masses need and thrive. I don't have any problems with his being revered or his having millions of followers. Works for him; works for them; it's mutual. None of my business. I have problem, though, as regards categorisation. Why consider him a spiritual guru when he sounds every bit like just another management guru?

My friend kept checking if I fell for the man yet. He was pleased I hadn't yet decided to walk out. And then the decider happened. The question came from a concerned follower. He confessed he has an uneasy conscience of being a part of corporate fraud, and sought the guru's advice as to how to deal with it. I don't know how the guru's words can be taken as absolute, but I still sneakingly appreciated the chap who at least brought it to the fore (notwithstanding the fact that conscience is a most  unreliable faculty) than conveniently keep it under the carpet as majority do.

The audience comprised corporate crowd, so most of them could easily relate to the question. On hearing the question, the guru laughed and so did the audience. It was as if he knew what the audience wanted to hear and the audience, in turn, knew what the guru would answer. They need the guru's reassurance that "it's all fine" and the guru needs a repeat audience. A simple, predictable step in circus. All that mattered then was the execution - the guru just had to say it. And he did. "In this modern world, a little tact is necessary and especially so for businesses. Tricks are essential to beat competition and achieve success. It's nothing illegal. And you need a job to survive. So it's better to turn a blind eye to the failings and concentrate on your work and goals. That will be good for both you and your employer. Focus on your goals and success and you will be more happy that way".

When he finished, one heard a deafening applause.

They were just playing a game. I couldn't stand it anymore. I could take that answer from a management guru, not from someone who is considered in line with thinkers in the spiritual realm (for me, that answer is unthinkable coming from, say, a Vivekananda or Sankara). "I will walk for some time and wait at the car. You can join me whenever you are done", I told my friend. He found the abrupt move cranky, but he didn't show it beyond a quick frown of surprise. Gentleman that he is, he smiled and walked out along with me, though.

While the issue of corporate fraud (and how responsible an employee is, for the same) raises interesting ethical questions, the justifications that we adopt raises, to my mind, even more interesting ones. I don't pretend to have any answers myself, but the questions refuse to die. There are no easy takes on where one should draw the line. Regardless, that we so easily ignore, and even refuse to acknowledge, the absolute sham in society is certainly an uncomfortable fact. Even more saddening is the fact that we accept it as inevitable, conform with absolute ease, and readily justify it. Let it be endorsed by the authority of a guru or State or one's own self and it becomes all the more effortless! We are an incredibly clever species! 

It reminds me of a few insightful lines from The Reader:  

Societies think they operate by something called morality. But they don't. They operate by something called law. You're not guilty of anything merely by working at Auschwitz. 8,000 people worked at Auschwitz. Precisely 19 have been convicted, and only 6 for murder. To prove murder you have to prove intent. That's the law. Remember, the question is never 'Was it wrong?' but 'Was it legal?'

So the question that I must be asking myself is - "Do I have it in me to put the job in line if and when I realise I'm a part of corporate fraud? Do I have it in me to stand up for the right and turn back on the wrong, regardless of definitions and consequences, legal or otherwise?" Yet, it has a loophole. The loophole is that the words right and wrong are subjective, as long as one is caught in thought! Nonetheless, the real test of education, passion and intelligence is, to my mind, in asking those questions that we never did or were always afraid to ask. And, importantly, in never seeking answers!

1 Dec 2009

Garden of Dreams

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 6:39pm

on this path
strewn with his dreams
her nimble feet danced
with steps soft

deluge of joy
rained from the heaven
soaking the lonely heart
in boundless love

rapt with glee
the soul heard life speak
the promise of bliss
in whispers mute

clasp of hands
was a walk on clouds
a life so rich before
never he felt

eyes so serene
and face most beautiful
no music more melodious
than her laughter

soul a fragment
blessed by her glances
and her silken touch
made now complete

the ecstatic soul
drunk to absolute brim
with her words most sweet
indeed, most sweet

lush with blooms
was the garden of dreams
and he knew no world
else than her

odes to love
that defied the world
sang the fleeting time
and ceased quite

fate most vile
and a god utterly mean
alas! helpless he watched
plunder of dreams

tears in eyes
agony in the broken heart
pain extreme shall haunt
every moment hence

who would believe
here was a precious garden
that now is barren dust
with memories yet

hapless the soul
longing for hers, with
pangs of the aching heart
aflame in love

30 Oct 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 6:04pm

The streets were buzzing with crowd and the deafening noise was unavoidable. The loud steps of the young, infirm steps of the old, tender steps of children, arrogant steps of cops, measured steps of the ascetic, wayward steps of the awestruck tourist, all of those crossing one another's randomly on the tarmac. Not a very hot morning it was, and they decided to stop by at a restaurant.

No sooner had they found a place to sit than the waiter loudly listed the items on the menu and waited impatiently for the order. A few words of slang from the table to the right, squeals of laughter from that to the left, and the clang of empty glasses from the one behind... noise permeated the entire surrounding. The waiter rushed to fetch and one doubted if he heard the order completely.

The tea was hot, and Murthy preferred to wait. He noticed Sid looking at the tea with focus. Maybe it brought a few memories, but it wasn't obvious to Murthy. He asked, "Dude, is something off with you?" "At times, one is off", Sid put it vaguely.

"I'm asking about you".

"At times,... one is off", Sid repeated.

"You could've informed me before coming. What if I wasn't here? As it is, it's Diwali vacation for school!" Murthy looked at Sid. "Isn't that crazy?"

"Well, I've become unpredictable, of late".

"We are too old for that, man!"

Sid responded with a shrug.

"You didn't have a plan, did you? Been quite some time since we met last. You didn't even want to check if I'm working with the same school? And you don't have return tickets!"

"Just occurred to me if I could visit the ghats and Sarnath. So I came. Checked with school... and you were there. And then there are always hotels, anyways. As for tickets, I will book it here".

"Being planned doesn't hurt, right?"

"If one is unplanned at times, I guess it's all right".

"Sailing with no direction or purpose, then? How good is that! Specially when one can afford not to?"

"There are times when one can't drive the sail. Waters are rough at places".

"That doesn't mean you would just let it go!"

"Maybe one hasn't. If one is running to catch the distant flower, he will brave the thorns on the path. It doesn't mean he is careless or hasn't planned his run to evade the thorns. On the contrary!"

Briefly, Murthy seemed to agree. "I see you have a point. Maybe you don't consider this important enough to plan. I plan, however, to go for a mobile number next year. You can do better then".


The pause in conversation was unnoticeable. It faded readily into the noise, imperceptibly. Sid almost finished drinking the tea while Murthy just began.

Murthy wouldn't be quiet for long. "Why the ghats, all of a sudden?"

"Something about them seemed to draw me".

"What? Their being old, sombre and morbid?" Murthy laughed.

"Perhaps. Resembles some old chap who has gone through the run of life. Reeks of silent wisdom".

"How about a haggard, used oldie crumbling under his own weight? Totally done in".

"Let's see. We will be there in a while", Sid smiled.

"You look low, man! You sound low, too!"

Sid knew, but he didn't think it showed. "The ride isn't always up and smooth. Sometimes, there's the decline on the hill of life".

"So you are on the decline? Where does it end?"

"It ends with the fall... The fall that levels everything... and shows you where you belong".

"So you are waiting for the fall?" Murthy finished the tea and put the empty glass down with deliberation. The contact of glass with the table was far from quiet.

"Waiting for the inevitable is redundant. For the present, it's just the decline".

"How long will the present last?"

"For now, the present is indefinite".

"Present indefinite", Murthy smiled. "Dude, tea isn't the best drink when on a decline. Like to try grass? Mescaline?" he winked. "My buddies at BHU can treat us".

"No, thanks!" Sid was amused.

"Worry not. One dip in the Ganges and the sin will be washed away", Murthy laughed. "If present is indefinite, future is tense. Present indefinite; future tense", Murthy played with words.

As they set out to the walk to the ghats, the noise followed them. Loyally. The noise of restless mankind. The noise of winter morning. The noise of ancient city. The noise of trade. The noise of the dogs fighting for a piece of bone in garbage. The noise of the pleading of beggars. The noise of the chanting of hymns. The noise of the weight of tradition. The noise of absolute faith. The noise of the suppressed dreams. The noise of the abandoned newborns. The noise of tears in the eyes of the old woman on the brink of death. The noise of brawls, of shattering failures, of loving hugs, of wily smiles, of the words unsaid, of the songs unsung, of broken hearts, of blithe spirits, of chattering minds, of noise, and of silence.

At the bottom of the flight of stairs, they stood on the banks of the Ganges, flowing serenely with flowers and filth. Shortly after, an old man in saffron robes and gray hairs caught their attention. "I will just get some flowers. Wait", Murthy said and went up. "Sure", Sid replied. The old man approached Sid, looked at him for a while and smiled. Sid couldn't help reciprocate; old man and saffron was a charming combination. "Life-altering time?", the old man asked with a smile and started to walk away. Sid, caught in utter surprise, looked at the man. Sid didn't answer "Yes", but the old man seemed to know. Walking the steps up, he said "God bless!"

"Thank you", Sid replied.

As the old man walked away and Murthy started walking toward, Sid heard the noise of their steps. Noise followed noise. The noise of surprise. The noise of ascent. The noise of descent. The noise of the ardent devotees. The noise of the living. The noise of the dying. The noise of sinners. The noise of sinning. The noise of the burning pyre. The noise of priests haggling for money. The noise of wrestlers. The noise of boatsmen luring visitors. The noise of kids jumping into the waters. The noise of the click of camera buttons. The noise of the pens arranging words on empty paper. The noise of relations consigning the corpse to flames. The noise of the flowers in garlands. The noise of the presence of strangers. The noise of the absence of dear ones. The noise of the silent, unseen God. The noise of the souls seeking salvation. The noise of eagles prying for the edible remains. The noise of monkeys stealing bits of food. The noise of the ashes dissolving in waters. The noise of reason. The noise of unreason. The noise of longing. The noise of belonging. The noise of unbelonging. The noise of existence. The noise of death. The noise of life.

The noise of the beat of the heart. The noise of presence. The noise of absence. 

16 Oct 2009

The Painting

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 1:40am

The land barren
Baked dry in summer heat

The solitary tree
Unseen by rain in ages

The forlorn bird
In the middle of flight

The empty nest
A home reduced to ruins

The blistering Sun
On the edge of the horizon

The cloudless sky
Gloomy in hues of dusk

The singular path
Untrodden then, now and hence

The fallen leaf
Bare to the trampling step

The red of Sun, the blue of sky
The brown of land, the green of leaf
All of them on the canvas together
And yet each of them numb and alone

Riot of color on the canvas white
But none has seen the missing hues
Save the painter, young and dreary,
Whose heart beats at uneasy pace

13 Oct 2009

The Rainy Evening

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 3:54pm

The bus came to an abrupt halt. The jolt woke up the baby. She had been blissfully asleep thus far, lost in the celestial world of her innocent dreams. "Careful!", the conductor, bespectacled and in his early-fifties, shouted at the driver, who didn't seem to care. The baby was displeased. She felt as if someone has forcefully pulled curtains on the beautiful world she was dreaming of and dragged her back into this infernal chaos that the people inside and outside the bus are living in. The rude intrusion into her sleep and the inexplicable end to her dreams didn't impress her. Striving hard to open her eyes, she burst out weeping. Sikandar held her close to his chest and patted on her back to put her back to sleep. The conductor held the door open for Sikandar to get down. "The baby will be fine. Don't worry", he assured Sikandar, as he alighted. "Give her medicine on time", the conductor loudly reminded. Sikandar, with his back to the conductor, smiled, waved his hand and said, "Sure, dada!"

Sikandar had been impatiently waiting for the stop, for it started getting cloudy an hour ago. He wanted to reach Saharanpur before it rains. So, when it finally stopped, he was quite relieved. He just wanted to rush to the village. He couldn't give even a moment to turn, look back and thank the conductor properly.

The roar of thunder echoed all around. The clouds were closing in with haste. Saharanpur is still 7 miles away. It's a narrow, muddy stretch through dense forest to the village. Only carts and autos bring and take people between the bus-stop and the village. As one has to wait for hours to find an auto or cart, the young usually prefer to walk the 7 miles. Sikandar hastened his walk as the baby slowly gave in to sleep. He looked at the clouds and it was gloomy. The Sun has completely disappeared behind the dark clouds and the earth smelt of rain. It was raining at a distance, certainly not far away. He quickly assessed that he must not waste even a second if he should reach the village before it rains. For, if it rains, even walking becomes quite difficult on the road. "She is down with cold and high fever. Don't let her outdoors or she'll get weaker", Sikandar remembered the doctor's words. The baby must not get wet in rain. He must rush. He had walked on this stretch many times earlier, so he knows where and how to step and pace.

As it got darker, lightning wouldn't stop. The forest stood in utter quiet. If it rains now, it will pour from the skies. There's nothing to stop by and take shelter at. Suddenly, Sikandar was possessed with apprehension. He thought, for a moment, if it was wiser to go back to the bus-stop and wait till it stops raining. But where would he wait? The barren road aside, it was just shrubs and bushes. Not any better than this stretch. He walked on. Faster. A blinding streak of lightning ran through the sky in front of him, and it appeared as if the clouds were being torn apart. A tender rain droplet fell on his forehead. And with it vanished the last remnant of his wish that it should not rain. Now he must find trees for shelter. He knows the route thoroughly and the nearest one was still a good distance away. Not being one with a faint heart, he was hopeful that the huge tree will protect him and, more importantly, the baby from rain. If it rains through the tree too, he will, he hoped, hide in the groove of the trunk. But all the trees that he knows have full trunks. But reality made little sense now. He relied on his ingenious self - he would disregard all the cold facts and wish for even the most impossible of heroic rescue deeds by compassionate saviours, even if they come in the form of trees. Better yet, he hoped he will find a tiny brick structure, laid overnight by strangers, with a roof. He could put the baby there. Or, how about a divine turnaround - the clouds suddenly going shallow and cannot rain? It wasn't raining yet, so he could still play with hope. For some more time. Just.

With every drop of rain, however, hope dwindled. He must, if he must, believe only in miracles now. The baby was sleeping, and hasn't felt the rain yet. Shortly, however, she will. Sikandar held the baby closer. He has walked a good distance off the road but the village was still far away. When he left for the town that morning, it was bright and sunny. It didn't occur to him if it might rain. He cursed himself. But it was more out of helplessness, for he couldn't have foreseen anyways. Nevertheless, he cursed himself. He felt he should have anticipated, however impossible it was to. He heard the faint sound of rain. It was approaching him. He must run. Inevitability looked straight in his eye. That he failed to foresee didn't appear an accident now; it appeared like a downright mistake, instead. He must pay for it now. But must the innocent baby pay for it, too? Sikandar was anrgy. Rain pelted against the still foliage, and it'll reach him in a few seconds and drench them both. He looked up at the skies. Angrily. That he was always dismissive of God didn't bother him. He prayed. He prayed that the rain should stop soon. If the baby gets drenched and stays wet for a long time, it could be fatal. She is his life and he must save her.

The sky roared loud and rain caught him. Millions of gallons pouring incessantly from above. The baby woke up with a shiver. Startled, she looked at Sikandar. He looked lovingly into her eyes. His anger dissolved, resolve surfaced, but her glance had a thousand questions. One question, repeated a thousand times, rather. "Will you save me, papa?" she seemed to ask. Tears rushed into his eyes, but he stopped. How could he tell her she means everything to him and that he will do everything to save her! He caressed her face, held her closer, and said, "It will be all right, darling". Did she understand? He thought she did. Maybe she indeed did. Or maybe she didn't. Certainly, however, she didn't feel secure in his arms anymore. At what moment did the loving embrace turn into a lethal stranglehold? But what could she do? She doesn't know how to save herself. She was utterly vulnerable, wholly at the mercy of this fatherly character and the elements, earthly and divine. It could've rained an hour earlier or an hour later, but it chose, to his misfortune, this precise hour. He wondered why, for that was all he could do.

The relentless rain resolute to get her, the clouds that cheered without shame, the vast forest that slipped into slumber, the Sun that forgot His might and hid behind the clouds, and this hapless man's insecure embrace - her life was bare. The cold rain water soaked her clothes and skin, and she could not keep her eyes open. Crying aloud, she held Sikandar's collar more firmly. Her shrieks dissolved in the din of rain and her tears were awashed by the callous drops that pelted against her tender face. She did all she could - she cried with all her heart, totally ignorant of what was at stake.

Sikandar did all he could, too. He held the baby with utmost care. If he was desperate to reach the village before it started raining, if he hurried on a rugged stretch, if he wished for the impossible rescue acts, if he scanned everything he could see for anything that promised shelter, it was for the baby. Yet it was the bottomline that mattered, and the bottomline was that he was helpless. At the end, the measure would be this - whether he saved the baby or not.

As it rained heavier and skies became darker, it proved more tough for Sikandar to spot any signs of shelter. With the water on the ground already sinking his feet, even walking became a testing task. The baby continued to cry and he didn't know how to calm her. Six months ago when he spotted this baby abandoned in garbage, when she looked into his eyes for the first time, when he held her in his arms, she became his life. She was a few months old and he was twenty-four. "You are not an orphan anymore, darling. You are my daughter", he told her, unable to contain his delight. She looked at him. She understood she was precious. She smiled in sheer joy. "She is my most precious", Sikandar announced to the village. They thought he went crazy, but it didn't matter to him. He named her, according as his guru's suggestion, Aarushi. His days hence would begin with her glance. "I will never abandon her", he told himself. And yet, as he held her close and ran toward the village in rain at that moment, everything was being put to test. Was she being chosen to be perpetually abandoned or was he being driven to abandon her? He didn't know.

Sikandar spotted - or so he thought - a small tree that he believed could shield rain. He began running impatiently. A few steps later, the run was interrupted by a solid blow against his right foot. Before he could realise he had hit a massive rock, he found himself falling down. He gathered fast and turned around, still in flight. The strong blow toppled his balance and the fall was inevitable. An instant later, he fell down on his back. For an already freezing Aarushi, it was a shock enough to effect hiccups. Sikandar was too focused on her safety to feel, or even worry about, the pain. It was a relief for him that she was not injured. He didn't think much about her hiccups. He believed that once he reaches that tree she will be fine.

Holding Aarushi tight, he tried getting up. His right foot wouldn't move. Surprising Sikandar, it gave in and made him collapse. He underestimated the impact of the rock. It crushed his toes and the gash was deep. Nothing was known of the ligaments or bones, but this was clear - he couldn't walk. Lying down on his back, he tried to feel his foot. But he couldn't. It was as if the foot has been amputated. Struck with an element of dread, he raised his head to look at the foot. He found it trembling in pain and dripping blood. Meanwhile, Aarushi cried with subdued voice, marked by intermittent hiccups. Sikandar took his shirt off with haste and used it to cover Aarushi. As one after another agonising minute passed, she shivered more severely and her crying became more irregular. 

The tryst with the damned moment of fate lay in the open. Everything was soaked to the soul, as if the Providence wanted to prove that water is the basic and the only element of the universe. The hunt, he felt, was over. The monster chased, caught, cornered, and rendered him helpless. It's just the final blow that remained as it enjoyed watching him suffer the last pangs of pain. Tears reached the brink of his eyes and he choked in pain. He felt Aarushi against his bare chest. If he could, he would tear his chest open and keep her inside and cover her with his bloody flesh. It was time to admit, the moment to apologise. Would she forgive? She might. She most likely would. She would, indeed. But would he forgive himself? She rested in his arms believing he is the only hope and he couldn't save her! The life of his precious, tender one lay on the edge and he was chosen to witness as a helpless invalid. Nay, he was, by a move most shrewd, chosen to execute the kill himself!

A few minutes passed and Sikandar shook with a start. Letting a loud fit of hiccup, Aarushi fell silent. An eerie chill ran through his spine. Even though she rested in his arms, he didn't feel her anymore. His heart pounded unstoppably, and his worst fear came to the fore. The monster had dealt the final blow. The decisive, fatal blow. And it laid the baby dead. Aarushi lay motionless, abandoned by life, and in utter quiet. Sikandar didn't dare to see her face. He could not. Not as yet. His strength betrayed him. He burst into tears but she wouldn't be moved. He cried aloud but she wouldn't hear. He wept and pleaded but she wouldn't wake up. Inconsolable grief would be his for life. As he lay on the ground with a broken foot, holding the dead baby in his arms, the rain fell in abandonment.

* * * * * * * * *

Sikandar stood silent and looked intently at the ground. It was at this very place that he lay in abject helplessness and let her die. It has been three years. He bent down and kissed the ground. A heavy silence fell on the forest while he was haunted by the rending glimpses of the rainy evening that shattered and reduced him to nothing. Tears blurred his eyes.

At a distance one heard the roar of thunder.

12 Oct 2009

Desert Sand

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 2:22pm

Grain by grain
Slips the sand quick
Beneath the feet
That, jaded and adrift,
Walk to nowhere

With each step
Deeper the feet sink
Into the sand
That, eager and mean,
Yields sans care

Fervid like fire
Blows the blazing heat
From the Sun
That, fiery and aloof,
Derides the fare

Rugged and grim
Rests the stolid tread
With the grit
That, hard and biting,
Does the feet pare

The aimless path
Desert sand without pity
Spur the fetters
That, hungry and candid,
Stifle to tear

Grain by grain
Slips the sand quick
Beneath the feet
That, pale and cracked,
Walk to where?

8 Oct 2009

By the Brook

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 6:07pm

There's a brook that I sit by
Its waters flow in glee
They greet in rush and run past
And before I wish back, flee

They smile, they tease, they beckon
To the blue expanse of the ocean
They say they will take me
Where they can play for good

I sit, I stare, I watch
In silence, somber and unamused
At an hour beyond cheer and gloom
I only see them come and go

All is quiet in the eastern sky
The western is all but quiet
Unquiet are the birds and the woods
And quite unquiet is my heart

And at the stroke of dusk
We drift - the waters and I
The waters that never become still
And the heart that cannot be stilled

29 Sep 2009


Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 2:42pm


24 Sep 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 7:09pm

An eerie calm prevailed at dusk as the last rays of Sun reflected on the edge of the sword. Abhimanyu, the supreme warrior, had been holding and examining it with care, for he sensed a difference. The sword that severed many a head with infallible rigor refused to obey the hand that never faltered. The hand that moved with inimitable grace forgot the craft. The grip was destitute of the erstwhile resolve and the arm was wanting in strength. The invincible warrior in him was suddenly vulnerable.

As he looked at the sword with care and pondered, he remembered his master's words. "For a warrior who has mastered his craft, the sword is an extension of his hand. The day he feels the weapon is distinct from his hand, he is dead". He realised what has befallen, and smiled. It had an element of sadness, but the element of surrender overpowered. He heard someone walking toward his chamber.

Abhimanyu turned around and noticed Siddha who walked with measured steps as he approached the door. "Come in, Siddha", Abhimanyu greeted him. Siddha bowed down in respect. "The master wants to see you, sir", he said. As he sought the persmission to leave, Abhimanyu said, "stay for a while, Siddha. I would like to give you something".

Siddha obeyed and was pleased. He always admired Abhimanyu and cherished the dream of becoming as great a warrior one day. Abhimanyu, with the sword in his hand, walked toward Siddha. "When I see you, I am reminded of myself when young. I believe you will be a great warrior soon. That warrior for whom battle is a game, fighting is an art and victory is irrelevant. This sword is everything I have, and I find it befitting to give it to you this day".

Siddha was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that Abhimanyu considered him worthy of this benediction. A master warrior never bequeaths his sword; it is buried along with him. It didn't occur to him to ask Abhimanyu the reason behind this surprising decision.

As Abhimanyu handed Siddha the sword, he was content, for he was sure it went into the right hands. He did not let Siddha touch his feet. He never let anyone do that. Instead, he embraced Siddha. And before going to meet the master Vikrama, he told Siddha, "and never forget this: the battle is always with yourself; never with the enemy". Siddha will understand the meaning only after many years. At this moment, he just remembered the words.

As Abhimanyu walked through the corridors, he remembered his master's words again.

Master Vikrama's chamber was quiet. Abhimanyu touched his feet and Vikrama blessed his fond disciple.

"Master, I was told you wanted to see me".

"Indeed. You have fought many a battle and made me proud. Prepare for one at the stroke of dawn. This is yet another test of our might. The enemy has challenged us for a duel with their best swordsman. If we win, their army will be ours. I'm not even thinking of a loss. To win, however, we must send our best, for this isn't going to be any easy duel. And that's you".

Abhimanyu spoke after a pause. "Master, I thank you for having shown unflinching faith in me thus far. And it's by your grace and blessings that I have won all our battles. But, master, I cannot fight any more. I apologise but I cannot challenge the duel".

Vikrama was surprised. "Insanity! What devil has possessed you, Abhimanyu!?"

"Master, it's a realisation. My craft has betrayed me, and the sword obeys no more".

"Is it you? Is it the same man who the world knows as invincible, who plays with the sword with the grace of an expert dancer, who slays enemies at will, who is feared by foes, respected by friends and worshipped by disciples for his matchless skill? The supreme warrior who commands entire armies! And you say you cannot command your sword today! What a shame!"

"I fail to feel the sword as my hand any more. Sadly, master, I confess I cannot fight hence".

"What has conquered the unconquerable, I wonder!"

"I know not, master!"

"You are dead not when you cannot control the sword. You are dead when you think you cannot. Get over the delusion, Abhimanyu. You are invincible. Your craft will never betray you till your death. Prepare for the duel".

"I cannot, master!"

Vikrama became furious. "I ordain you, Abhimanyu!"

"Your word means an order to me, master. But I cannot let you down, of all people. I cannot fight any more. I apologise".

"Abhimanyu! If you cannot fight, you don't deserve to be alive. Either head for the duel or be beheaded".

"I owe everything to you, master. If death be, so be it!"

"Such disdain!".

"I'm just being truthful, master".

"Then let your craft too be truthful to you! Watch your own head being slayed". Vikrama summoned Siddha without a moment of delay. "Siddha, this man has chosen martyrdom for self. I confer on you the honour of beheading this great warrior who has gone insane too soon".

Siddha was struck with utter disbelief. What a merciless turn of fate! He was in tears as he looked at Abhimanyu. "Being a disciple is not easy. You must walk the rough terrain. Take the sword, Siddha. This is your first test", Abhimanyu said.

Vikrama advised Siddha, "unshakeable grip, unwavering gaze, and one swift cut. On the neck. Should sever the head before he can blink".

Abhimanyu bowed down and touched the feet of Vikrama who refused to look. Four despondent guards led Abhimanyu and Siddha to the execution chamber. As they walked out of his chamber, Vikrama turned around and looked out through the window. Hesitantly, tears filled his eyes.

Moments later, a loud clang of the sword was heard.

16 Sep 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 12:47pm

The Man Booker shortlist is out and Coetzee is in the running for the first hat-trick. May the master win! Besides Coetzee (for Summertime), the others are:
A S Byatt, The Children's Book 
Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze 
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall 
Simon Mawer, The Glass Room 
Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger

16 Sep 2009

Walking in Darkness

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 12:40pm


He wanted to know how she is. Hurriedly, he mailed. To ask how she is, to tell her that he will always stand by her. He looked at the monitor; he saw her face. She was in front of him, he felt. He was talking to her, tenderly holding her hand. Wanted to hear her words. One word, at least. One smile. He would ask no more questions, speak no more words to hurt her more; he just wanted to see her smile. Expectantly, he clicked "send". 

Instantly, he received a mail delivery notification. The email account does not exist, it said. When life mocks and luck betrays, the unfortunate one stands no chance. Disbelief took over. He knew it was going to happen, for she had told him. And he also knew why she had. Yet, yet he refused to accept. He sent the mail again. With the same result. He sent it again. And again. And again. It had no loophole. There was no furtive path open for his words to reach her. No generous messenger, no instant messenger, no messenger. If only he could hug her once, he thought. But melancholy was all that held him in its cold embrace. Holding so tight that it was almost choking.

In the bitterest moments of life, the only music that plays is the pulsating beat of one's heart fueled by the rending pain. A line from Coetzee's Disgrace that occurred to him a few days ago when she took the train, occured to him again: "A day like any other day, clear skies, a mild sun, yet suddenly everything is changed, utterly changed!"  

It was a city of millions. Yet he felt utterly lonely.


He sends the mail again. The result is no different. He wants to see her. Her smile. He wants to look in her eyes. Once. A walk in the darkness, life has become. It's a city of millions. And he feels utterly lonely.
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