15 Apr 2011

The Eagle

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 8:51pm

The huge corridor was complete with massive pillars. It surrounded a spacious hall, that, ages ago, was witness to royal grandeur that few reigns could match. The splendour has died, the noise of dance has faded, and the palace stood weary, beleaguered by its own weight of forgotten history. Standing atop the hill, west of Sarnath, the palace echoed melancholic silence.

As they stepped out of the hall into the corridor, Banya clasped Amit's hand. She didn't say a word, but he knew she was concerned that it was getting dark. He looked into her eyes and smiled, and it meant assurance for her. Her heart sang and her step lightened. Amit put his arm about her shoulder and teased, "In light and in darkness, I am with thee, beloved; Do you care, then, where we go or where we don't". They stopped in their stroll. She smiled and embraced him. "You are my world, my love, my life; Wherever you take me, I shall walk in heaven", she whispered. 

"Isn't this the perfect moment! Far from the din of the world, holding you in my arms, looking at your smiling face, your hair caressing my face, your glances soothing my soul, your whispers making my heart throb... I see, hear and feel none but you... just you... only you, Banya!", Amit said in all tenderness. Briefly, they looked at each other. A moment that a soul in love feels has transcended time. "My mad poet!" Banya ran her fingers through his hair and beard and laughed. 

Anwar heard a faint sound of a woman's laughter. He stood up with a start and tried to feel where the sound had come from. It was from right side, he reckoned. He heard the sweet female voice tease, "You never keep your promise, do you! You have not given me your poems diary yet!". The sound became gradually more distinct. Anwar moved toward them with caution. He thought it's better to quickly walk toward the corner and hide. The male voice replied, "The poet himself is yours; What of frozen poetry!" 

"It must be him", Anwar thought. He hastened his walk, and slowly pulled out the gun from his pocket. Four more pillars and he would reach the corner. 

"Do you know it's full moon today?" Banya asked, her beautiful, loving eyes glancing him. "If that is so, we should watch it by the lake. It's stunning. You will love it. And I would love to watch you as you admire the moon", Amit replied fondly, pulling her closer as they crossed the penultimate pillar before the corner. 

Anwar's heart raced faster, as he heard the steps approaching the corner. He held the gun tighter and awaited impatiently. He reckoned they were barely three feet away.

As they turned left at the corner, Amit dreamed of Banya's face, shimmering in moonlight, tender as her touch. Anwar quickly took his stand, obstructing their tread. The sudden sight of a stranger startled Amit and Banya. A fretful Anwar was possessed with fear, and he didn't give it even a second to ensure it was indeed the person he wanted to kill. Gasping, he pointed the gun at Amit's forehead. Before Amit or Banya could react, Anwar pulled the trigger. Amit felt a jab on his forehead, a gush of blood, and a veil of dark quickly pulled on his dream, before his being could feel the shock completely. As his head hit the stone on the floor hard, the dream has faded into utter darkness.

Banya stood stunned in disblief. She looked at Amit, lying dead, and fell to the floor on her knees. Tears would rush in cascade. Anwar collected himself as he tried to check the face he had just shot. He observed carefully for a few moments. Banya looked on, as her eyes swelled with tears. Anwar realised his mistake. He seemed to speak to Banya, although he avoided looking at her. He still looked at Amit. "I am sorry. I thought it was Sid", he said and quickly walked away. 

Banya sat defeated and devastated. She held Amit's hand and sobbed. Inconsolably. She was so full of love for Amit that she felt no trace of anger for the stranger who shattered her world.

Not very far away, an eagle hovered above the lake, admiring the reflection of full moon.

22 Mar 2011


Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 2:36pm

walking on the tarmac
i spotted a dead rat,
still, quiet and dead,
and walked on
as if i noticed nothing

lying on the tarmac
the dead rat, still,
quiet and dead, spotted me
and slept on
as if he noticed nothing

an evening, sombre
a dark road, burning
a brief encounter
one was dead -
the dead rat or i?

7 Mar 2011

Lenin Square

Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 4:39pm

Six people got into the bus. Two of them were blind. Sameer, sitting close to the door, noticed them holding each other's hands and talking. Is it the language of reassurance? What is it to be blind, Sameer wondered. As the bus collected speed, Sameer observed their faces. They were smiling; they were happy. He wasn't. 

"How far is Lenin Square", the old man, sitting next to Sameer, asked. He was inaudible, or Sameer felt so. "Second stop from here", he looked at the man and quickly looked away. The old man was keen to prolong. "City traffic is getting worse. I'm already late... my granddaughter would be waiting at her school. My poor little bird", he remembered fondly. Sameer smiled casually and nodded, only preteding to have followed the conversation.

As the conductor made his way through the crowd, the blind men moved next to Sameer. He looked at them again. Would they get down at Lenin Square, he almost asked. He refrained. Of course, he wouldn't have asked. He is in no mood to talk. He noticed the girl on the seat in front, reading a message on her phone. He noticed her smile. She quickly typed a reply. He could clearly see her typing. "Stupid doc. What does he mean by ineligible? Tom is already high on harmones. High time you find him a mate ;-) Check with another vet", she sent. 

Sameer didn't find it funny. He wondered why she smiled. And why she typed ;-) But he wondered only that far. He wasn't able to focus on anything. He was looking aimlessly. His mind wasn't registering anything. He moved his leg a little backward, and felt the bag. It was stable, under his seat, perfectly unnoticeable among that crowd. The bus stopped. Five people got down. The blind men didn't. 

The old man was restless. "Next stop, right?" he asked. Sameer assured, "yes". "I am also getting down, don't worry sir". The old man smiled. Sameer looked at his watch. "13 minutes more", he reminded himself. The signal turned red and the bus stopped abruptly. The bag moved out a little and hit his leg. "Asshole", Sameer referred to the driver. Slowly he pushed the bag in. He felt he should rather get down here. But he reckoned Lenin Square is just a couple of minutes away, and decided to remain seated. The bus moved.

Sameer checked the bag again. For one last time, before he stood up. The old man followed. Sameer moved toward the door and looked back. The two blind men took the seat. He looked at the girl. She was busy with phone; she wouldn't get down at Lenin Square. "Lenin Square", the conductor yelled. The bus stopped neatly in the slot. Sameer got down, and noticed Sid who had been waiting for this bus. "Hey!" Sid greeted Sameer. Sameer was nervous. "What are you doing here, buddy?" he asked. "Am going to the mall. Want to come?" Sid asked, prepared to get into the bus. As he followed Sid's words, Sameer noticed the old man walking briskly away. 

The conductor was asking crowd to get in. The bus would move. "Hey, why not take the next bus?" Sameer checked. 

"No. Need to go to the book exhibition from there. Am already running late".

"That's ok, Sid. Have a cup of tea and then make a move".

"Sameer, next time", Sid patted on his shoulder. "Will go. Will buzz you. Bye", Sid got into the bus.

Sameer wanted to stop Sid. Sid won't stop. The bus moved. Sameer remembered their previous meeting. Sid had remarked he wanted to die. Sameer stood still and watched the bus move away. He looked at the watch. "Six minutes more", he noted. He looked around. For a moment, he felt he had lost all sense of comprehension. He wasn't able to follow anything. He could just see, hear, but it was all like a swiftly passing dream. He thought he should rather run and stop the bus. But he stood unmoved. 

After a minute, Sameer turned around and walked on. 

Five minutes later, the bomb, ticking silently inside the bag that the blind man felt with his leg, took off. 

28 Dec 2010


Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 12:51pm

happy new year

May there be more light at the end of the tunnel, or fewer tunnels at the end of the light!

14 Dec 2010


Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 12:11am

up in smoke - twothousandten

...for, it's the fag end of this year!

6 Dec 2010


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 10:32pm

The nonchalant, sly smile broke Sid's patience. He closed his fist and punched Russell on his face. In his youth, such a blow would have hardly had any noticeable effect on Russell. But his frame has aged and become frail. The impact made him fall to the floor. As his jaws shivered, his mouth was full of blood. Collecting himself, he still managed to smile - it could've meant mockery of Sid's strength, or the lack of it - and stood up. Sid looked at him with rage. With a stronger blow, he saw Russell fall again.

Before Russell could clean the blood and stand up, Sid reached for the pistol on the table beside. He moved closer and pointed the weapon at Russell, whose eloquent eyes showed no trace of fear. "It's up, bastard!" Sid asserted. It took effort for Russell to smile and speak, "Not quite, son! I trust the Almighty and He will see me through".

"Delusions get stronger in the face of death", Sid remarked. "I don't even pity you. I served six years in prison for a murder you had committed. Now I will give you six holes in your skull - one for each of those years of my life that got sucked by time. None shalt save thee! Truth shall triumph".

Russell remained composed and replied, "Let me tell you a secret, son. Truth is most vulnerable. It is bare. Defenseless".

Sid noticed the cross resting against Russell's chest. Looking back intently at Russell, he said, "A remorseless exploiter is not fit to talk of vulnerability. You seem to be completely lacking in conscience".

"You excel at presumptions! Conscience is a self-appointed cop, needed by those who run away from themselves. A clear soul doesn't need conscience. Thank you very much!"

"Let me see how clear your soul is, then. Just because you got away with the murder six years ago, you think you can put the truth behind, locked and buried in a closet? You will pay for it. With your life. Now", Sid said emphatically.

"Six years ago when I killed Rameses, you knew it. But what of it? Who cared? The sinner gets away with it, wins plaudits and worship, and the poor fellow - you - has six years cut and the indelible tag of convict, just for being the unlucky witness to the crime! World cares for robes. I have the robe of the priest; you have that of the sinner. Nobody cares for truth".

"Much as I appreciate your wisdom and shrewdness, I am amused at your confidence. It's just one pull of the trigger that separates you from a certain death. You got away then. There's no getting away now. It's the judgment day. The world might have spared you... It indeed spared you, and that's why I am here. I will not", Sid explained. "And if you think I am here to brood over the lost years, you are wrong. It's for selling those three girls to pimps, you fucken pig! I won't let you get away with it". 

Briefly, Russell's eyes reflected surprise. "How could I not guess that! They are young, pliant and ambitious. I put them in to the trade they will do good at. Even if I take your moralistic ground for a minute, why should you have a problem when they don't? Regardless, son, I can see that I can walk out alive even now. I have the signs. I pity you don't see!"

"The signs? Like what? Miracles? Let me remind you, fucker - it takes twenty miracles to survive six shots to your brains. I don't mind another six in prison, but this time I will go with contentment. And I will let the world know how much of a disgusting old pig you are. They shall know the truth", Sid insisted.

"Either you don't know the world at all or you are too naive", Russell remarked with a smile. "The world is a slave to beliefs and hope. Hope is a lie, beliefs are lies. They want lies. All they do is talk about truth; they don't want it. They are scared that the truth might not fit their belief. In such a world, truth is always a casualty. So whom will you tell the truth to?"

"However the world is, it is not my problem. It's not about them. It's about truth. Whether they take it or leave it, it's their problem. I'm not leaving it to them this time. I'm ensuring justice right here, right now".

Russell looked unruffled. "You are still a young fellow. Don't be foolish, son. Listen to me. Give it up. Put it down. Forget it. Walk out. Go, live!"

Tightening his grip around the pistol, Sid punched Russell with force. Russell fell to the floor. His jaw was swollen. Sid took two steps forward, aimed the pistol at Russell and pulled the slide. "This is it, mate! Pray your Almighty". Russell saw Sid's face silhouetted against the bright glass roof. Holding the weapon tight with both hands, Sid squeezed the trigger.

When the trigger released, the sound was almost deafening. Even as his hands recovered from the recoil, Sid fell to the floor. The bullet went right through Sid's left eye and left a gaping hole in his skull. Russell got up slowly, adjusted his robe and stepped toward Sid. Looking at Sid lying dead in a pool of blood, still gushing, Russell whispered, "The first rule when you aim, son - be sure which way the weapon fires. You should've known that I wouldn't have kept a straight one for your taking! God bless you!"

The next morning, one read in print: "Sid shoots self. Succumbs". Further, the brief read: "Sid, the convict who served sentence for killing Rameses six years ago, shot himself as an act of atonement. He died instantly. Shortly after dusk last evening, Sid stepped into Se Cathedral, offered prayers, confessed to Rev Russell how guilty he had been feeling and how desperately he sought forgiveness and expiation. He carried a loaded pistol, whose ownership police have failed to determine. When Rev Russell tried to stop him, he reacted violently, effecting injuries. Before Rev Russell could alert the police, Sid shot himself and fell to the floor, dead".

The doctor administered analgesic to Russell and assured a quick recovery. "Should not take more than ten days, Father. Thank goodness he didn't shoot you!"

Russell smiled. "Thank you, son! God bless you!"


14 Nov 2010


Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 7:31pm

as the deep, unruly
casts me deep
into the depthless

swimming, barely
in bare waters
bearing the tumult

who will reach
the placid shore
i.alive or i.dead?

2 Oct 2010

Str a n ded

Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 6:32pm

Impasse. I've lost it.

I'm making the most outrageous move in life.

30 Sep 2010


Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 4:00am


21 Sep 2010

Weakest Link

Posted by Oblivion in Philosophy | 6:12pm


The reason why advertising, marketing and PR work. The reason why public opinion can be played with, with fair ease (as this article suggests). The reason why image management consulting and gurus work. The reason why facts can be presented as per choice to prove or disprove anything in the courts of law. The reason why even empirical data are interpreted differently by a simple variation in criteria. Information asymmetry can make it worse, and distort invariably.

The consequences are, sometimes, devastating! One prays that it doesn't happen in the most precious of relationships, but life doesn't care! 

JK puts it brilliantly.

"Perception is clouded with judgment, with comparison, with desire. To perceive without the interference of the censor is arduous. Imagination builds the image of the self, and thought then functions within its shadows. From this self-concept grows the conflict between what is and what should be, the conflict in duality. Perception of the fact and idea about the fact are two entirely different states, and only a mind that is not bound by opinion, by comparative values, is capable of perceiving what is true."

To find what is true, perceptions must never be taken as absolute. That implies all beliefs, ideals, opinions, etc must end. Importantly, the authority of oneself must end. One must be naked. So long as "I" exists, truth will elude. Unless "I" dissolves in entirety, perception can never be a direct and immediate access to reality, as it is intuitively assumed.  

Russell emphasised all his life the importance of the limits of knowledge. Definite knowledge is minute, and probable knowledge is fine in the realm of scientific inquiry and must be held with skepticism. Beyond that, nothing can be known. Certainty, then, would be a detriment to perceiving what is true. For the same reason, he dealt with, in depth, the problem of how to reconcile some apparently obvious truths about our experience of the world with the possibility of certain kinds of perceptual error. Camus puts across a similar take in the following lines.

"This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction."

"We have a right to think that truth with a capital letter is relative. But facts are facts."

Truth is always beyond everything. Camus: "Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth".

Perception, unless admitted of fallibility, is the weakest link.

20 Sep 2010

Paradox of Fate

Posted by Oblivion in El Eye Ef Ee | 7:42pm

I rarely found a more beautiful reference to the paradox of fate than this line (in Telugu).

choosenduku achamgaa mana bhaashe anipistunnaa aksharamu ardham kaani ee vidhi raata

Simple words, profound, lyrical. (Thanks to Seetarama Sastri sir)

I wish I could translate it as beautifully into English (I even wonder if it could be written as beautifully in English), but roughly it translates to this:
even as it appears to be exactly in our language, yet not even a letter is comprehensible

11 Sep 2010

Canine Obit

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:51am

Murthy, our adorable team mate and loyal friend, passed away on August 16, 2010. Many of you are as familiar with him as you are with Ranga Shankara itself - he was mostly found walking around with a certain sense of pride in those theatrical eyes, or sleeping in his favourite spot in the theater - under the first table in the cafe.

Murthy came to us with the site - he has been through the complete journey of the construction, opening and running of Ranga Shankara.

Murthy was a perfect theaterwallah - throughout the three years of construction, he insisted on sleeping in the area marked for the stage, has participated in all the acting workshops conducted in the ground floor and has always occupied a first-row seat during platform performances.

We will miss him dearly. May he rest peacefully.

(Spotted at Ranga Shankara. For such a touching obit, it'd be odd to mention that Murthy is a dog. The poster was complete with its photograph.)

9 Sep 2010

Buddha Bar

Posted by Oblivion in Philosophy | 10:02am

A man once came to see the Buddha to get help with his problems. After the man had told the Buddha one of his problems and asked for help, the Buddha replied: "I cannot help you get rid of that problem."

The man was surprised that the Buddha could not help him in this regard, but he told the Buddha about another problem; he thought to himself that the Buddha should at least be able to help him with that problem. But the Buddha told him "I cannot help you with that problem either."

The man started to get impatient. He said: "How can it be that you are the perfectly Enlightened Buddha, when you can’t even help people get rid of their problems?" The Buddha answered: "You will always have 83 problems in your life. Sometimes a problem will go, but then another problem will come. I cannot help you with that."

The baffled man asked the Buddha: "But, what can you help me with, then?" The Buddha replied: "I can help you get rid of your 84th problem." The man asked: "But what is my 84th problem?" The Buddha replied: "That you want to get rid of your 83 problems."

1 Sep 2010

The Myth

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:19pm

A letter from a Holocaust survivor explaining why he had ceased to believe in God.

“God had allowed SS troops to snatch a baby from his mother and then use it as a football. When it was a torn lump of flesh they tossed it to their dogs. The mother was forced to watch. Then they ripped off her blouse and made her use it to clean the blood off their boots.”

(Source: The Economist)

It's lopsided and insensible to talk of progress and civilisation and take pride when the fumes of Holocaust still pervade the air. Holocaust is the reference point of the so-called civilisation and all things human. The point is we are still only as human. 

Beast is a fact. God is a myth.

20 Aug 2010

...of Being*

Posted by Oblivion in Poetry | 8:21am

as the first rays
of the mighty
the malevolent sun
wooed the day
(yet another day)
darkness gave way
to light that would
flirt till dusk

yet, from beatific light
to blinding darkness
life, for him, moved
in a mean moment
(terse as silence)
the restless heart
ran behind her
to woo, to stop

and as she went
she took his all
he stood still, light
as a feather, for
he went with her
(yet, he stood alone)
feeling crushed under
the unbearable lightness...


(*thanks to Milan Kundera)

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