10 Sep 2009

The Rainy Evening

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 1:29pm

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 12 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 12 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 behing the dark clouds and the earth smelt of rain. It's raining at a distance, certainly not far away. He quickly assessed that he must waste not 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's 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 element of his wish that it should not rain. Now he must find trees for shelter. He knows the route thoroughly and the nearest one is 15 minutes away. Not a faint heart that he is, 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. Or, 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 the clouds suddenly going, by some miracle, shallow and cannot rain? It isn't raining yet, so he can still play with hope. For some more time. Just.

With every drop of rain, however, hope dwindled. He must believe in miracles now. The baby is 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 is still far away. When he left for the town at 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's 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. Little did he know that it is the last time she would look at him. His anger dissolved, hope 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. 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. 

(...to be continued      

25 Aug 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 7:18pm

A long, tiring trek it has been. But it's not over yet. Twenty more steps to the peak, and the incline was at its steepest. Meursault felt weary in legs, muscles and bones, but he must reach the peak.

Nineteen done. The final step.

Done. Accomplished. Contentment. For now. With his eyes closed, he relished the moment. A quick smile later, he prepared himself to look at the world for, so to speak, one last time. The world he had lived in lay a few thousand feet below. The world thought he was a misfit. He thought he was a misfit, too. The world was a Rubik's cube, unsolved though, and he was a redundant micro-cube. Not even a cube, perhaps. A skewed n-faced, n-edged, n-dimensional piece. Maybe. An absolute misfit. He threw away the remnant of the fag and turned around. Curtains down. His back to the world. He looked at the expanse that greeted him. An expanse that filled the canvas that his eyes could see. And the tranquil waters a few thousand feet below. At the farthest point of his vision, the sky, the land and the water seemed to merge.  

The waters, reflecting the blue of the sky, beckoned. The sun hid behind the lone cloud, fleeting past the top of a distant mountain. The playful cloud, the dreary Sun and the reposing mountain - the silent, uninvited witnesses to his stealthy but loud act of repudiation of the world. The breeze moved gently and the birds were returning in flocks to their homes, after another day's toil and play.
Meursault took a deep breath, looked at the waters, lifted his hands up, fingers pointing toward the sky, thrust his feet against the dry ground, and as his feet rose up, he let them go off the ground and leapt toward the sky. The sky would push him, the ground would pull, but he will float in emptiness, along the edge of the cliff, descending to the cold of the waters whose waves crash relentlessly against the immovable mountain. Moving downward in spite of himself, Meursault felt no sense of his self, as if the entity that his frame has embodied thus far has mysteriously dissolved into nothingness and vanished without a word, leaving behind no trace. As quietly as he wanted to walk out of the world.

The bamboo shadows move over the stone steps
as if to sweep them, but no dust is stirred;
The moon is reflected deep in the pool,
but the water shows no trace of its penetration*

All he noticed was the waters into which he will soon crash, the resounding noise of which will remind him of his existence. An abrupt, compulsive reminder. Yet again.


* A Zen poem

17 Aug 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 6:51pm

"Br.o.k/en", Sid writes in the diary and closes it. Distraught, he stares at the guest who has been pretending to be, or indeed, unaware that he is feeling down. The guest enjoys another sip of wine and speaks for the first time. "Why you feeling low, son?"

Sid: "As if you don't know! Come on, you are God! You know how much I love her".

God has an easy smile. He tastes another sip before saying in a measured tone, "Love is not enough. You need luck. Too".

A pause. Sid stares intently at God. God acknowledges his awaiting stare. "Actually, you need loads of it. And you... YOU... you have none of it, son".

Sid is agitated and surprised. "Why!? Why me?"

"That's a wrong question, I'm afraid. I don't choose. I just throw dice. Whoever gets it, gets it. Whoever doesn't, does not. Random event".

"Ah! But you can control, undo and change anything. Randomness cannot be beyond your powers".

"Omnipotence is, I must remind, an attribute that YOU have ascribed to me".

"Have we been wrong, then?"

"Wrong/right, good/bad... Sorry, I am incapable of understanding duality. How does it matter, son? An ant believes you humans are omnipotent. But, are you?" God asks with a mocking smile.

"Don't trick me with dialectic. I want answers".

"Dialectic is your domain, son. I am a simple chap. Famous as God. Thanks to you".

Sid is in no mood to appreciate humour. "Fair enough. Later. Importantly, here I am. In love. But utterly shattered. Everything seems to be going against me. Despite my best efforts not to, I end up hurting her and inflicting more trouble. Worse, every word I speak and everything I do is implying the contrary. I feel helpless".

God is listening, with an air of indifference. He looks at the empty glass and it gets filled with wine in a moment. Sid is on the brink of a breakdown. "Life is unfair, son. Being at the right place matters. And you are not. Luck, as I said. That's how it is".

"That she is not beside me is already killing. Can I not have at least her trust and love?" Sid asks, his eyes wet in tears. "I am a wreck. I cannot recover from this".

"What do I care?" God says. Shaken, Sid feels. Pitiless. As life. A cold stare. Cold enough to freeze Sid's tears.

"Some delicious drink this is, indeed! Want some, son?" 


Such is the intrusion of the tragic, when one becomes aware of the turning wheels of life
- Self, Yann Martel 

17 Aug 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 4:21pm

Solitary wanderer am I
On an aimless stroll
In the lonely woods
Dark as night
Shimmering in the light
Of my precious love

Hapless soul
Rendered helpless
By an infallible stroke
Of the sword of life
Unfailing precision
Precise my failure

Merciless look
Staid face of fate
I wonder. I ponder
Would I be

A surfeit of feelings
Wary of words
A deluge of questions
With answers none
Sink my soul
And wring my heart

Who has heard
The wailings
Of a pining heart?
The wailings
Of a pining heart
Who has heard?

Alone my soul is not, though
For, she walks along
She. My soul-mate
My life, my love
And yet,
Yet I seek her

Ironical it is
The mind says
The thinking mind
Beyond irony it is
The heart says
The feeling heart

Unrest becomes me
Moonless, the night
Joyless, the tread
And I remain
Restless. Listless
Aimless. Lifeless

O, who has heard
The wailings
Of a pining heart?
The pining heart
And its wailings

31 Jul 2009

The Man. The Book

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:32pm

The longlist is out. I am putting my money on Coetzee. Yet again. May Summertime be the brightest find at this year's Man Booker do.

9 Jul 2009

Song of the Soul

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 7:43pm

The patter of rain
Battering my heart wild
Laughs and reminds me
Of your words sweet
The black of the sky
Enveloped in melancholy
Teases and reminds me
Of your tresses dark
The fleeting clouds
Moving to the worlds afar
Beckon and remind me
Of your tread gentle
The fair lonely star
Shining in all its splendour
Smiles and reminds me
Of your glance gleeful
The resplendent full-moon
Playing hide and seek
Chides and reminds me
Of your smile beautiful
The quiet of the night
Bathed in faint moonlight
Whispers and reminds me
Of your presence silent
I hanker for your love
Give me your hand
I long to see you
Gift me your glance
At this very hour
For, nothing else matters
Tender is the breeze
Impatient is my being
As I whisper loud,
"Give up everything
wait no more
and come to me, my love"

16 Jun 2009

A Dog's Rainbow

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 8:47am

Monsoons - she adored this time of the year. However, tonite, as the dark, broody clouds made an ominous appearance in all their cumbersome glory, she was especially cranky. On the edge. Not a wink of sleep rested on her tired, searching eyes.

As she cuddled up to her sleeping hubby, restless and pensive, she recalled the rushed, stinging smack by the silvery sharp needles of rain on her face earlier that evening.

The rain, she mused, like love, is the greatest leveler - of the rich and the poor, the good and the evil, the most beautiful and the ghastly ugly. The sleepy, and the awake. The lonesome and the alone... She wondered why the rain that had sprouted fragrant joy into the parched land also swelled up raging teary waves by the lakeside? Why couldn't the rain delight her... Like it'd always. She had felt a little caressed by the generous swoosh of its all-enveloping arms, and why had it then wearied her soul out? 
As she felt hot tears streaming down her cheeks, she wanted to get out and be one with it again. Desperately. So, she could melt her tears away in the cold uncaring monster of a downpour. Even as her soul let out a heart-rending cry, nature, seemed overcome with emotion, responded - with torrentials of it.

Her feelings began to overwhelm her. To the point of choking her. And then, she could hold no more. She went out into the balcony and texted her friend. She just wanted to sms him and tell him how sorry she was for having hurt him, his feelings. She apologised, said she had never meant to be nasty or call "twisted" - his intentions, his care for her, concern for her, feelings for her, his very love for her!

Having sent the message, she was all lost deep in his thoughts getting thoroughly drenched in the rain, when her hubby called out to her. Suddenly bolted into reality, she feared the worst.

Her premonitions, her sixth sense had warned her against taking such a risk. Why did she? And, now, she would have to pay! What would her hubby think, and say. What if her friend messaged her back right now? Her hubby wouldn't read her messages. Yet, he would be enraged if he knew she got a message from a guy that late at night. Rightly so, perhaps. What, if he insisted he would want to see her friend's message. After all, despite all the space they gave each other, they never kept any secrets between them. And, what was she upto, he would definitely wonder and be saddened... 

Even as these thoughts played havoc with her already-aching head that was working overtime, she suddenly found her concerned hubby standing behind her, gently taking her by the arm and leading her back inside.

Outside the voluminous rain poured hasty and violent. The thunder yelled and threatened to tear the sky apart. Inside, another drama was unfolding. Asking what bothered her, so late at night, and why she was out in the balcony in the rain, he glanced upon her cellphone, buzzing with the tone of an incoming message. Puzzled, he tried to take a look. Frightened and shocked out of senses, she grabbed it. Didn't let go of it even when he asked for it. Almost muddled, as though in a trance, as if unaware that it was normal for her hubby to be curious and ask, she couldn't comprehend why he was so 'bothering' her... she was irritated, and wondered why was he being suddenly so overly-protective and concerned? 

Almost crazed into a frenzy, she yanked her phone from his hands and screamed at him in all her thundering threat of a tone. Angered, her hubby only got more curious and insistent, asking if she was hiding anything from him. Awfully guilt-ridden, and all enraged, she thundered back a loud 'no.' 

Even as the rain beat up outside, loud and fierce, the two exchanged harsh words. Harder feelings. He finally did what she had been fearing - Asked her if she was having an affair and why she had behaving strangely for the past few months. Why was she so transformed all of a sudden. Why was she so lost always? Why wasn't she irritated anymore when he teased her? Why didn't she laugh out loud when he cracked jokes? Why was she now so into love songs, when earlier the very sound of any music drove her mad? What was she so "lost" about...

Breaking down, completely, she just ran outside. It had suddenly become all quiet - the rain had, as though magically, disappeared and rendered everything silent. Not a leaf moved. She fell to the floor weeping inconsolably, almost as though mourning at a loss of a loved one. He was petrified, but extremely moved by her plight. Tenderly picking her up, he brought her back in. After a while she calmed down and apologised. He said he didn't need to know anything. Her happiness was of utmost importance to him. That was all that mattered - just the two of them to be happy and together. 

The storm had passed. Balance was restored. However, the monsoon was here to stay, at least for a good while, and the storms would be back at the slightest of chance and on the hottest of angry days.

"Love is a minefield. You take a step and get blown to pieces, put yourself back together again and stupidly take another step..."

9 Jan 2009

Wall Street fundas

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:44am

After Lehman Brothers went bust and the confidence of employees worldwide was shaken, a friend remarked in good humour, "Now we have to listen to whatever the managers tell us. Can't take risk". And Seth Godin spares nothing when he puts across his insightful take.

"It's clear from current events that there was no correlation between talent and pay on Wall Street.

"Confidence is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly in marketing or investing. Arrogance, on the other hand, is hard to reward. My favorite combination is the quiet confidence of knowledge, combined with the humility that comes from realizing that you're pretty lucky and that you have no idea at all what's guaranteed to work tomorrow."

Sounds even more relevant after scandal hit Satyam the other day!

25 Dec 2008

Dear Santa

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:58am

Amélie is six.

Like all little girls, she'd like to be hugged by her daddy.

But he never touches her, except for a monthly checkup.

The thrill of this rare contact makes her heart beat like a drum.

As a result, he thinks she has a heart defect.

Santa, on this day, therefore, hug all Amélies in the world.

23 Dec 2008

8 Days to Go

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:37pm

Among the season's greetings that have come in thus far, I found this impressive. Cheers to the copywriter. 

It's that time of year again, when sappy eCards will be peppering the globe like reindeer droppings. But not everyone wants visions of sugarplums. We happen to prefer build-your-own monsters singing generic rip-offs of seasonal songs.

Don't you?

Your friends at Corbis

31 Aug 2008


Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:33pm

When you can't do graffiti, you buy tees. With statements, meaningful or vague or queer or bizarre. Regardless, they attract attention and engage you. Some make for examples of good design work, some are loud, and some are bland. But it's only a few days ago that I realised some could be shocking too.

It was on my last two visits to a shopping mall that I spotted four girls - pretty, I must say, each of them carrying a guy along - flaunting the statements (prominently flashed across you know where) that shocked me. Thinkers who follow the leave-appearances-at-that school of thought may accuse me of being a pervert, but I found the statements obscene.

Statement 1: "36!"
Statement 2: "Dirty minds think alike"
Statement 3: "Look or you miss"

Statement 4: "Yummy! I love milk"

Given the perceived visual, I thought of... well, that's beside the point. Yes, it is possible to justify the statements by attributing their focus to other references, but that's a sheer idiotic exercise. That is denying the importance of context. Context is everything. If it was a drunk party or orgy, the captions would not have been out of place (literally). 

It's not my business to question their rights to wear what they did, but I cannot help wondering if they are not going overboard. If they believe it reflects how bold they are in making such statements among crowds or how casual, "cool" they are in making them in such a matter-of-fact manner, do they also have it in them to take the gazes and comments of guys without any trace of discomfort, rage, or frustration? What exactly are they conveying by wearing such tees? Yes, tees have flourished as a medium for personal expression, but how good is it to exploit it to flash obvious references and religious/political allegiance (reminds me of a guy who flashed a pro-Nazi statement, complete with the Swastik symbol)? Is it not unfortunate that the young fail to find better examples than Britney or Paris or Hitler? 

I don't pretend to know the answers to these and other questions that come up, but I am surely at a loss to see how their parents and siblings could allow such choices. Or do they think the girls are going to Mardi Gras? But then, maybe I'm just too conservative, because it didn't shock them or the girl herself. And when statements like "I am a bitch" are fast becoming fashionable, thanks to reality shows like Splitsvilla, this is, after all, a sign of things to come.    

I reckon I have found the statement I will try on one myself:  "If it's on the tee, it's on the mind".

19 Jul 2008

A Cup of Tea

Posted by Oblivion in Philosophy | 9:40pm

At a temple,
a learned professor seeks Zen.

Master Nan-yin offers tea.
He pours…and he pours.

“But…it is overflowing!”

“Like this cup, you are full of concepts and ideas …
Is there room for Zen?”

Source: Osho

Currently Reading: My Revolutions

27 Jun 2008

The Friends Effect

Posted by Oblivion in Language & Networking | 6:09pm

That networking influences what we speak has been proved by extensive research. Some purists resist, some yield with ease, and some eagerly deliberate to add the words in vogue to their personal diction. Of all such words, I don't like particularly two - "like" and "cool". The latter, though, works as a tolerable (for me) filler in informal chat. The filler "like" (used more often in the spoken variant), however, doesn't sound pleasing to me. Far from it. Interestingly, I have noticed that this is used more by women than men. I don't know if this observation of mine agrees with the global statistical data.

While at it, I quite agree with this chap's amusing and insightful take:

"While growing up in India, I was taught to pronounce words phonetically, with the correct intonation and everything. I never heard or used the kinds of speech fillers and anomalies that currently plague our language - the ubiquitous ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’.

With the advent of cable TV and largely puerile (speech-wise, at least) shows such as ‘Friends’, many Indians took to peppering their speeches with untold amounts of ‘likeyaknows’ and ‘o-my-gawds’, playing a tacit co-ordinating game with American teenagers half a world away, most of them completely fooled into thinking that it was somehow cool.

Now of course, teenagers the world over have these speech impediments; all subconsciously semi-programmed into aligning with something they will come to regret at an interview or Toastmaster’s meeting ten years hence.

You call it Network effect. I call it, for lack of a better term, the ‘Friends’ effect."

Raj Pandravada

16 May 2008

Believe It or Not

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:23pm

A bottle of beer may cost half a billion dollars; by next week it could be a billion. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached a terrifying 355,000% in March, with prices doubling roughly once a week. It is probably much higher now. In a vain attempt to keep up, the country has just issued a Z$500m banknote, which is worth some $2 (or less by the time you reach the end of this sentence). The billion-dollar note is surely on its way. After a decade of recession Zimbabwe is reaching all sorts of extremes: it has the fastest-contracting peacetime economy; its people are fleeing both repression and chronic hunger; life-expectancy is plummeting to the mid-20s. Despite all this, Robert Mugabe, the incumbent, expects to win a run-off presidential election on June 27th.

- Source: The Economist

Just the other day, I read how North Koreans (the poor ones, though), on the brink of a severe famine due to food crisis, have started trying tree-bark and grass for food. Although the inaction on the part of the government is understandable - due to its rigid foreign policies and cold international relations - yet it confounded me that situations test humans to the limit. All that superfluous gibberish about "collapse of barriers" notwithstanding, the world is still a definitely divided, apathetically disconnected place.

There certainly are quite a few "believe it or not" things happening in the big, insane, and horrible world out there! Only, they are rather chilling than exciting!

13 May 2008

Looking for BoB

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:32pm

The race for the Best of the Booker is into the final lap. Of the 41, the following survived.

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda
JM Coetzee's Disgrace
JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur
Nadine Gordimer's The Conversationalist
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

I'd have doubted the literary sensibilities of the jury if Disgrace hadn't made it to the shortlist. Having won the Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children is a strong contender. Rushdie has an advantage in that he has a stronger presence in media and is more famous among the circle of average readers for other reasons too. Now that the voting is open to the public to decide the winner, one has more reasons to believe Rushdie will win. For, most Indians will vote for him, driven by the obsession to flaunt the success of an 'Indian'.

However, I put my money on Disgrace. This masterpiece should win by a mile.

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