Rich God, Poor Man

These three little boys are extremely curious about everything in life and wandered into my gated house searching for my six year old dog. The oldest is 10 and is the responsible big brother and the youngest notes, “Even I am 6 yrs old“, when I tell him how old the Scotch is.

As I sit them on the sofa and bring them an apple each, they stare at all the gadgets in the house with awe.

How much is the TV, akka? Must be very costly no? Oh! Small computer! Oh! It’s called an iPad? How much does it cost? Must be a lot of money no? Nice mobile (cell phone). Look! I managed to unlock the phone. How much does it cost, akka?

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I fend off their inquisitiveness with answers that I believe are appropriate for their age. As the oldest and the youngest pet Scotch and enjoy their apples, the middle one wanders off to more apples kept at the puja area.

[It’s customary for most Indian households, especially Hindus, to have a little temple in the house; a collection of idols and pictures to bless the house. These idols are traditionally worshiped by lighting lamps and incense sticks and with offerings of flowers, vermilion, rice flakes or money.]

He carefully stares at the many colorful idols on the various sections and his eyes eventually rest on an idol that has been recently worshiped on. He fixates on an idol that sits smack at the center of a small podium, and has mounds of Rs. 5 coins lying around it.

Why is there so much of money put there, akka?“, he quizzes me, while settling back on the sofa.
It’s for the God. My mom must have done a puja with the coins.“, I respond.
But, God already has so much money. So, why are we giving him more money?“, he retorts, catching me off guard.
Umm…I…don’t… How old did you say you are, again?“, I ask my quizzer.

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I am 8“, he responds, ” and Mani anna is 10. My mama came home drunk last night and threw quite a fit. It was very funny, you know!” and he continues to munch on his apple.

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The dusty destiny!

‘Tis has been quite a while since we conversed. True. Time flew by and we walked into our own little closets, strengthened the walls around it and ensured the barbed wires saved us from any foreseen onslaught. The little that we heard, when we shouted across the inches of concrete, was the hatred and the hostility within. Staged? Practised? I know nought. Our keen discernment ensured that even a sincere act of fondness was falsified with riddles and mysteries. As each taunt built on another, the walls grew thicker, stronger and more fortified than before. The walls we built for one another, mysterious indeed.

In this lone cell, I hear sounds that baffle me; unknown visions from the past, I realize. A unified laugh at a played out hysteria, a cohesive smirk at the newest stereotype and a mortified scorn at tradition emerge, coerce and drift my way. I play witness to evenings spent in silent harmony, the music of the souls drifting by. I see two lone figures battling an entirety, the mass multitude. They walk together in their lone paths, alone in their combined missions, and yet powerful in each other’s presence.

Something stirs within, a wish? a dream? Fear maybe. I withdraw deeper into my surroundings, my facade from the outside world. And in the urgency to protect my heart from the hurt outside, have I forced you out with it? Did you want to be forced out from sheer exhaustion? Did the togetherness threaten your uniqueness?

The alter ego had vaporized, the best friend had vanished and out emerged my nemesis. Strong in knowing the real me, weak in being me.

[…]

She stiffened her sleeves, smoothing the crease that was beginning to develop. Smart move Mr. Murphy; throwing the wrongs her way, when she intended to make it her best performance. It was going to be the destiny she had fought for own her own, built it from the grave. The world had definitely been more accepting than it had been before. The bruises from her past wars showed themselves black and blue, reminding the observer to tread with caution. Was that the reason for the distanced reactions this time? Was the world busy living a more saner life for itself, untouched by her anxiety?

She shook her thoughts back to the moment she was basking in; the world could live its life and she hers. The walk towards the bridge had been painful. She had to conquer the worst enemy before setting out on this path; her inner self. The ego, bloated from years of hurt and neglect, had thrown its army of reasons at her, one more convincing than the other, declaring the entire episode a mere school girl’s trick. Her brain, the self-proclaimed master, had reasoned with them all, while the heart sat quiet, listening to the war wage on. As days turned into weeks and no consensus was in sight, the heart stiffly sat up, proclaimed the verdict and went back into its sanctuary. The trip would be made.

As her mind raced through the happenings of the past, her feet slowly tread on, stopping at the foot of the bridge. She looked ahead and gasped at the beauty that lay ahead. Pearly gates laid out for the mundane, reachable yet mystic in their ways. She took her first step forward and felt herself sink in, the soft touch of the feathers beneath her tickled her little toe. She let out a muffled laugh. As she lingered on, the season sunk in; little drops of rain slid by the window, concealing the harsh lights beyond. The familiar smells of the ocean swept by, bringing with them sounds from the past. Moments leapt by, as she validated the reality quotient of it. She walked out from aeons of movement and glared at having reached midway. The view amazed her.

She had lost count of the time she had spent there after the initial day itself. A sense of helplessness had set in, rising the devil within. As the heart lay curled at the corner, the ego threw its tantrums. The turmoil within manifested itself louder by the passing. They had all birthed a mistake in unison and now hell lay about. Sad, searching eyes flooded with drops of lost morale, as two feet slowly dragged the entirety back to the earth. She had won the war, but the battle was lost forever.

The world seemed more accepting at her return than anticipated, a welcome worthy of the prodigal was laid out. Aged fingers pointed to the direction of the rightful destiny; it lay in photographs floating in virtual space, clicked hastily by emotionless hands. Destiny flourished in names matched against the stars, lifetimes of congeniality predicted from meaningless scrawls on the eternal parchment. It lived in interests created with the purpose of hitting a match, wavelengths sourced to traverse as one. It rested on familiarity bred over time, distances being lost by it all. Destiny lay elsewhere from where she had sought it.

As the heart built its newest layer of fortification, there was a world out there that needed to be satiated. The brain promised itself to be just that. The head hung low, nodded in acceptance. Destiny lay elsewhere indeed.

Rampant progression

What an idea! If things went unhindered, it would be a night to remember indeed. The common interest would work to my benefit here. The object of attention I’d picked was unquestionable; it was a clear-cut favorite, would give us enough to discuss later on, a perfect conversation piece. Sailing through a quick drift of mutual distractions, I throw out the offer, fingers and toes crossed. The proposal is accepted, it is going to be movie-night after all. Unknown to the universe, I do a little jig, feet click up in the sky and hands snap the latest beat.

The stage is set, pillows tucked under and the lights dimmed. Some red devil to lighten the mood? Oh yeah! Who could deny such an offer after all? The game is on and I am having a worthy time already, what if it’s only the opening credits rolling by.

The tricks that the human mind manages to conjure are intriguing indeed. Wisps of an all too familiar smile, those minutes of silence worth a million words, a quick smirk at that movie quote in unison. Signs, strewn across the little green room, all point to a single want for acceptance and a single confirmation of the same. It definitely looks like the Gods have us for their weekend entertainment and are intended on making sure it is a night worth remembering.

I look back farthest into my memory lanes, to when I first set sight on him. There was no lightning or the proverbial thunderbolt. There had not even been a genial conversation that made the mark from day uno. The last I remember, it had started with him deriding me and I running for cover, tears welling up my little round eyes. Most other years, I’ve known him, were similar to that one encounter; intensities of anguish varying at the most.

Time is the best healer, they say, and it has clearly proved true in my case. We slowly grew into similar beings, with like-minded interests and wants from life. Those moments of travail against the common Gods, made us realize we were fighting on the same side of the war; reason enough to build some camaraderie. As our dreams took us miles apart, we’d kept the lines open, grown closer despite the different zip codes, bonded more than ever before. Technically speaking, tonight is the result of days and months of us growing accustomed to the unknown, the last assessment of a year spent in preparation.

A sudden detachment from the present catches my attention and I sneak a glance out to investigate further. Before my mind can prepare the most appropriate question to throw out, he has risen to his feet, jacketed to the least and let himself out of the door. Shocked and stunned, I realize what a hard blow this act has been to my string of thoughts. Happy times of socializing are quickly overwritten by that same feeling of anger I felt, every time I saw myself being thrown around in his mercy. A nausea of wrath seeps in, waiting to burst out at the next opportune moment. What dry humour to walk out on me and my plan, not a word said!

Before my mutiny could proceed any further, the door opens again, and in he walks back, a bright and brilliant smile adorning his face. He brushes away the question on my face with a brief “Sorry!” and goes back to reeling the movie ahead. I feel stuck between strong forces of hatred and indifference, agony and complete normalcy, unaware of the expected reaction to such an incident.

A lot is answered, and newer questions raised, when I catch him stealing quick glimpses away from the movie and showering all attention on her. He had been out for that brief moment, only to smuggle her in, and all my initial fury had forced me to be totally blind to her. He had wronged me and my plan for the duo by bringing a third, uninvited guest to the part. As he catches me staring between him and her, he throws that same charming smile, armed to topple my senses over. That same smile, which gave me a reason to be in the first place, is now a potent dagger, quickly heading my way, waiting to uproot my beliefs in more thoughts than one.

Something in him makes him think it befitting to explain his act. He says that she was sweet and the two of us would get along just fine. Did the expected retort to that statement require me to start bonding with her right away? I hated the mere thought of it, a certain smell that she reeked of, gave me the bumps already. I dodge a glance and look away, finding a new found interest in the movie that no longer holds any meaning to the evening at all. I see him pull her closer to where he is, she huddles in the comfort between his shoulders and his strong hands. I perceive him having ridden aeons away from me, in the quick span of a minute.

I hear a little giggle and I can no longer feign ignorance or act invisible. I stare at their faces, totally in love with each other, a feeling I’d ignored for years now. He pulls her closer, she caves in under his controlling grasp and my mind punishes my eyes by not letting them look away. She gasps as he lets their yearning lips lock, he closes his eyes to feel her consume him from within. She drowns him thoroughly, for when he opens his eyes, I see him in a different plane from mine, wandering a planet unknown to me.

A familiar smile crosses his lips, as he reads her face; something amusing has caught his attention. He thrusts her towards me and asks me to share his enthusiasm as I read off her cover: Smoking is injurious to health.

So is chocolate, ice cream and butter chicken. Why bother!, he retorts, to no one in particular, and takes another puff off his new found love.

My little brother has grown up to be a different man indeed.

The best snow angel, ever.

tring…tring…tring…tring…

Heyy! Wassup?

Yo! Wanted to say a final GoodBye. Just in case you know. *smile*

What’s wrong? Final already?

Well! I am breaking up with my ex today, all over again. Over dinner. So if something does happen to me and I don’t see the tomorrow to come, might as well let you know, you’ve been great.

Shut up! You are kidding, right? You din’t tell me he was homicidal.

I don’t know…Chalo, Gotta run. Bye.

She sat up, the prediction was spot on, again. It was going to be the first snow of the season. The incessant rain over the last month, hadn’t helped the mood either. But she had dreaded the snow for a good while now. No, she din’t hate the snow, it was quite the contrary in fact. It made her senses reel and feel fresh; alive. It was the perfect way to prettify the world, consummate and lasting. But all the snow around reminded her of the past; nostalgic and painful memories were rekindled. And thoughts are creatures that one has little control over. Yes! It was going to be a tough winter.

The chill sinfully kicked her out of her world of thoughts. She adjusted herself atop the little wall, tried better at staying warm and went back to her thoughts. The events of the evening had not turned out the exact way she had pictured it. But then, they weren’t what she would have called miserably bad either. They had sat in a little table, the mad rush of the restaurant beating around in all directions. As inappropriate as the location may be, she spilled her worst nightmares. They had grown apart over time anyway, things hadn’t been the same. The energy for those midnight phone calls and five hour long conversations had seeped out of their lives. The distance between them hadn’t been all that favorable either. Since their lives had picked different wave lengths to beat on, might as well let go of the little strings. She felt the words tumble out of her lips awkwardly; all the rehearsing lay wasted. She’d looked up, in anticipation. Of what? She wasn’t really sure.

Tucked in doors, she watched the first flakes of snow drift down, prop a leaf near by and wait for its companions. A few more followed and before she could tell, they were everywhere. The barren tree had new friends now, the prodigal leaves can wait till spring to return. Man made machines lay helpless, for once powerless, against nature’s ways. Ones smitten by the distinguished bug walked out, hand in hand, breathing winds of love from across the worlds. Children, with their unending chirpy ways and padded layers to the foot, welcomed the snow with tongues out in the snow and angels in the making. The sight of foot prints in the fresh snow is poetic in a strange sense; our fleeting five seconds of leaving a mark on this wide planet. Yielding to the wily temptation, she pulls over a jacket and jumps into those boots. She quietly walks to the front door and opens it; a strong gush catches her off guard and forces out a tear.

She nimbly wiped off the tear before the neighbors in the little shack caught up. She felt a wave of fatigue catch over, and swarm her from all directions. Numb to the last nerve. She’d expectantly looked up, armed and yet unprepared for the counter attack from the person across the table. There had been melancholy in his voice, anger in his tone, hatred in his breath. A melange of emotions were thrown at her and she seemed to have lost track of the best way to react in such an inopportune moment. She’d fought back, argued, pleaded and tried her best hand at logical reasonings. She’d let out a huge sigh and looked up at the skies; why hadn’t anybody invented a sober way to break up as yet. It was going to be a long night after all.

She looked up at the skies and watched tiny flakes fly toward her, gently flowing with the breeze and finally settling on the most wayward strand of her hair. It felt as new and fresh as her first snowfall ever. She had run out frantically, ignoring the pros in the yard. She’d convinced friends into building their first snowman ever. She remembered the taste of fresh snow on her tongue, the way it quickly melted and left behind a chill. She put her tongue out again; Yes, the same taste all over again.

A couple of hours and many more drinks later, he seemed to have resigned to what lay ahead. He slumped gingerly on his chair, as words slurred out of his mouth. He promised to talk hours long, about their love affair, to his wife that dint exist yet; swore that he’d name his first born girl after her. He claimed that he’d never stop loving her ever, would only retire to the life his parents dreamed for him. She sensed a fabricated effort in the entire conversation. Bade quick, subdued goodbyes; promised to keep in touch for ever and left speedily. Not once did she look back, not once did she regret what she’d just done.

She looked back and not once lamented about all the places she’d been to. Every by-lane, ally and highway had given her something new to learn from, something memorable to take back. She’d had her share of burns, hits and bruises, but she’d fought them back with a strong mind. She knew that she had the best bunch of rocks to support her, fasten her to the roots, whenever she’d slipped. She remembered people with worse states of mind than hers. She was very lucky indeed.

A smile began to surface, as the realization dawned. She’d cleared her vision, rid of any noise, comforted her wound, was ready to move on.

She thumped down on the snow and wielded her numb hands and legs in new found revelry. Her snow angel was going to be the best one of the season.


Wild Wild West – I

One thing that hit us with a quick gush, as soon as we stepped out of the airport, was the hot and dry air. A 100 Fahrenheit and we rechecked our stock of sunscreen, put on those glasses and strut on to our ride. I have to flashback a few hours to how we got here though, because the beginning ensured that we were to have a fun trip after all.

2 AM miseries

Some sane thought that Switch and I had, made us book tickets out of far-off PHL, instead of backyard EWR or across-the-street NYC airports. This “out-of-this-world” decision, that seemed pretty reasonable when we punched out our credit card details, ensured that we were up at 2 in the morning, out of town by 2 30, only to be roaming the streets of EWR for a decent parking lot. Well, we had to put the car in safe hands for four long days; that automatically ruled out any off-street ones, those that had a voice operated system talking to no one in particular and of course the ones closed. Frantic search was on. It’s funny to digest the number of weenies who actually roam the earth that early in the morning.

After trying out every possible option dear mr/ms garmin gave us and having let go of two of the five, to magically walk into the dream parking space, we had a little of five minutes to spare before our train out. Better sense prevailed and we drove into the very same lot that we had driven past a hundred times in that one night in search of a safer option. Yeah right! Who are we kidding!

Feeble pleasanteries exchanged, keys to the ride surrendered in the hands of a total stranger and two bags baring us down, DShah and I ran for it, while Switch tried to fumble the tickets out. We dint care if we looked like two goons, running away from mad dogs chasing us; we had a vacation to start on time. Acela arrived, the conductor obliged and we rode an hour into PHL, all in a weary sleep-embedded daze.

Note to self: cops in Philly are very cordial, nice to the point of being over intrusive I guess. It’s a fact, because Dear mr cop chose to accompany us from one station to the other, made sure we boarded the correct connecting ride and wove good bye to DShah with tear-filled eyes. Ok I might have fuzzed the facts on that one a bit; I was sleep deprived and it was too early in the morning for nocturnals like me, remember?

Philly billies

A minor fiasco at the “security check” left Switch bereft of his dear-old ninja gear. How many camping trips had he gone out on, pulling it out of his kit, nimbly; flaunting it out in the open, boldly; as other covetous eyes stared on! True, he had hoped to demand extra drinks on the flight with that one weapon and damn, his plot lay out in the open. We drank to his ill fortune, promised to buy him a stronger, sharper, meaner, sleeker, ahmm.. er weapon and boarded the flight at the back of the crowd.

Proud to be back benchers indeed, we tried having sane conversations with the ‘air hosts’, Damn! I still cant get used to that profession for a man, before somebody’s good judgement stepped in. We slept through the rest of our flight.

Wild West

Turbulence woke us up, in time to see the first glimpses of the mighty canyon. We straightened up, crained out the pot hole windows and Viva Las Vegas!!

PS: Learnings so far:

– It is impossible to try being on a diet and on vacation at the same time.

– When fast asleep, an hour is like a minute and 1500 miles take a mere five.

– Male air hostesses, using their spare time knitting a sweater, are not a welcome sight to wake up to.

– Deccan airways was not the only one that had carriers rattling during take-off.

– Security check personnel love Swiss army knives.

In Wild Wild West – II, The Mustang compromise, Hoover’s arch and the mad dirt ride to walk.

A new road, a new beginning…

A world full of blogs and blogging awaits. Correction: A world awaits. I’ve never really been first time lucky. So I migrate from elsewhere to here, in hope, in want, in utter desperation to pull my strings together and find meaning around me. How successful am I in doing that? how much of a mess do I leave behind? Stick around as the story unfolds.

Some ground rules to set before we embark on this journey.

For me, the self:

– blog like noone is reading.

– blog like the whole world is watching.

– blackmail (emotionally, ofcourse) at least two people-a-day to read your blog.

For you, the reader:

– ahmm. hang in tight.

– please be vocal, bouquets or brickbats, bring em on. Am all ears.!!

Two tracks and one soccer game.

She had reached the train station with enough time in hand to let the chill kill her nerves. Was it her guts or her brain that made her go through the torture of the cold every other minute? Every time her teeth shuddered and her muscles twitched in the wind, she let out a sigh, looked up at the heavens and laughed. Yes! She was still alive.

The girl was too young to realize if it was love or a plain high school crush. They had been chums since they’d joined back in mid school. They’d grown closer in the last few years and the five hour long phone conversations had left every couple in class jealous. But today, when he had confessed to her that he had found love and he was going to propose to their best friend for years, she din’t know if she was being plain and simple possessive or he really meant the world to her.

Yes! She was still alive; and that realization brought with it the pains of the night. Time when another realization had struck, the fact that she had been kidding herself this far. The last few years had been a roller coaster ride, with her shifting from one foundation to another to keep her shack grounded. It was surprising how everytime her boat drifted off the shore, she’d found a new bark of wood mid water, to moor her boat. But last night she realized that no matter how hard she tried, it was meant to be.

He really meant the world to her and watching him fall for another girl in front of her eyes left her stranded. The icing on the cake had been him falling for her very best friend. Now everytime she saw her, it hit her harder than ever. The theory was proved after all;  everyone falls in love one big time, everyone is fighting for something and everyone has something to hide.

It was meant to be and she had to let the tides wash her ship off shore. Mortal ties of friendship had gotten her through some of the worst times in her life; start of college with all the growing up to do, a new job, work in an unknown land. There had always been a heart to go back to at the end of a sad day, with a smile, a cheer and a hug to kiss the pain away. These were hearts that meant the world to her at some point in space. They had helped her fight it through; and now it was the same few who failed to see it.

Everyone has something to hide and the girl let that guide her when she held both the souls dearest to her heart close to it. The move to a new school, college in a land from the past had given her the break she had needed to fall out of these misunderstandings and grow up. Five years and she had totally out lived her childish charms. She’d grown up. She’d grown out of them.

And now it was the same few who failed to see it; she was not meant to be rooted to the ground to begin with. Every time she thought it was the wave and the tide to be blamed, she had ignored the voice within that was enjoying the unsteady waters. There had always been the hand that quietly cut all ties to the earth, given that perfect boost up skward. Noone had noticed it then because noone had cared.

She’d grown out of them and today when he discovered her in the web world, while she was expected to be ecstatic about it, all we felt was a gush of the smells from the past. Mere fictious characters playing the part in her head, a play that barely made anymore sense to her, something that barely made sense to anyone. Things had changed within her in the years that flew by and she hadn’t noticed it. Noone had noticed it then because noone had cared.

Noone had noticed it then, because noone had cared and she was used to life being like that. The prince of the dumpster, the ruler of no-man’s isle she had been. And now, when she saw visitors to her little island, wanting a piece of the land, adding their own colors to their little patch and worrying about the bright ones in the neighbours, she wonders if she is to be blamed. She fails to understand why the visitors don’t see, that all that should matter is their being there. And their making their stay worth it. 

For as much as I am open to them walking in and as much as it would hurt me to see them go away, my heart would not change from what it had liked before and after. As often as a new traveller would break my heart, it would welcome another one in with open arms, for that is how pink and plum it is bred to be. It has been each such blow that has made the heart stronger. 

No matter how many more bandaids this knee might hold, the soccer game is on and it has to be bled to live to the fullest..