Sunday, June 17, 2012


Death comes knocking
Odd hours, odd places
For some it arrives before birth
While for some its long lonesome paralytic wait
Death comes knocking at odd Time

It hits young and old
even while crossing road
Its even an internal malignant growth

For dictators and leaders
Its powerful weapon of war
But for plenty its a humble means of livelihood

Sometimes Death wears fierce mask and shakes Earth
Buries, drowns people, animals in sleep
Sometimes it even makes a smart move
It forces mad self to plunge dagger into self

Death, death, death
Stalks Life
Spares no one
Erases all
But leaves us with metaphors for poetry, epitaph
Unavoidable, unpredictable and inevitable death

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aai - My Mother

It’s been a month, but still my mind is unable to register her tragic death.  I can’t make sense of the sudden fire accident which took her away from me. She had been making early morning tea for decades, how could she err on that fatal morning? Was she becoming forgetful? Questions like these hound me -questions without answers. 

Like her death, I can’t make sense of her life too. There are such extreme dichotomies that it seems surreal. Some people’s life peak at youth or middle age or much later – hers had peaked when she was hardly in her early youth. Thanks to her liberal father, who owned a photo-studio and travel agency she had wide exposure even in a small dusty town like Bijapur. They had an in-house bakery and a museum collection (which was all lost, that is another story for another day). Their household had entertained everyone from foreigners, travellers to political leaders of India’s freedom movement. My grandfather had walked with Mahatma Gandhi during the famed satyagraha movements and there are photographs of all great political stalwarts which bear testimony to this fact. He had even been to Noakhali which is now in Bangladesh. When I try to think of her childhood, I can only imagine a lively household, buzzing with activity and people. She had studied only till school finals but she had gone on to participate in cycle rallies, lawn tennis and other sports activities to represent her town and district at different levels even after that. She was accomplished classical singer who had given solo performance at Mysore Darbar and sung freedom songs at political rallies. She even had Nehru patting her back after one such performance. She was such a free outgoing free bird who was pushed by marriage into a diametrically opposite household. My father came from an orthodox Brahmin family. I think that’s when her decline began. Maybe Mysore performance was her peak, so it had to go downhill from there.

It must have been difficult for her to fit into my father's small mud house full of restrictions and regulations. The house even lacked a toilet. She often talked about humiliation of walking down to common toilet with curious eyes peeping to see the new bride. But she lived through it all and she made her marriage work in spite of restrictions which included a ban on her solo singing performances in public. I really don’t know what made her stick to such a marriage. Maybe she had no choice because soon after her marriage she gave birth to two children in a row. Then I came along unexpectedly years later. Children are a kind of magic glue which make even odd marriages work.

I always saw her as a strict, bitter but fun loving and spirited woman. She had refused to tag along with my father to different cities he was transferred to. She opted to live alone with three children in a suburb near Bombay which had pretty decent English medium school nearby. She was a pretty autocratic mother. She had imposed a ban on playing music in the house, which I guess was a reaction to the ban that was imposed on her.  She was very strict about our studies, so much so that we had nicknamed her as “Hitler”. She believed in the power of formal education, she took private tuitions of my school-mates to add to the family income. She ensured we had freedom and fun once we were done with our studies. We went out often during father’s monthly visits and even otherwise. The fun outings included movie and eating out together. After years of doing this, a kind of fatigue had come over her. She would prefer staying back than commuting by crowded local train and trudging all over downtown Bombay (we couldn’t afford a taxi ride) with three children in tow. But then she didn’t have a choice in that matter too, so she did come along grudgingly.

Later, she gave complete freedom to all three of us during our college days. She would get worried but I remember her waiting at the door for my sister when she would return late from her college. Later, she waited for my brother and then for me. We all enjoyed our extra-curricular involvements and came back with stories for her. My new friends would soon become her friends too. She enjoyed company of people. She was a proud to be an atheist. I remember once being stranded during monsoon at a friend’s house for three days. There was no telephone then, I had panicked and wondered if my parents would report to cops or whether she will pray to God. But when I returned after three days she told me she had faith in me and she knew I would be safe somewhere and would return once water levels had receded. She had not panicked.

There are innumerable memories of her and her spirited ways. I can go on. It is not surprising she opted to live alone at the age of 70. It was like going back to her old ways of running a household on her terms but there was a huge difference, she was 70, scoliosis had bent her back which made her almost immobile and it was an empty nest. Yet, she preferred being by herself to living with her children and grandchildren and adjusting to their modern busy life style. I remember her call after India won Cricket World Cup. She had told me excitedly that she had danced alone in her flat and watched fireworks lit up the sky. Her tragic end did not do justice to her long difficult life. She deserved better. She had dreams and wishes, which will forever remain unfilled…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Greetings From Pune!

Yes. I am visiting my own blog after more than six months. In these months I have migrated from East of India to West just like birds do following their calls. I still really cant comprehend what my true calling is, nevertheless, here I am, trying to settle down in a new city, walking down new roads, discovering new book stores and new books. Its same me, at a different latitude and longitude, trying to tackle the same problems and realities, only the geographical location has changed but it feels great to live in a city nestled in the Sahyadri hills.

Unfortunately I had to spend first couple of weeks in different clinics but I am glad to have found trustworthy doctor who cured me of Vertigo and E.Coli and a nice dentist who walked into her clinic with flowers and smile and cured my dental agony (my agony was of course her ecstasy, for she charged me a lot like all modern dentists do). My son as always has been great support during this difficult phase. It feels great to be back at my keyboard and share my tales again.

There is this one book I would recommend highly today to all book worms- Other Colours by Orhan Pamuk. I felt so normal after reading these essays and my madness, my travel, my restlessness, my search for my space, dignity and inner peace doesn't seem to be all in vain. I know, I don't need to validate it all through others quotes and books, but, trust me my faith and belief both had deserted me and I am glad its all coming back. I can now trust absolute strangers and build a life here in this new city without old fears and paranoia. In this city, I have also met old relations and friends I didn't expect to meet and best part is ,I feel same after two decades, its like picking up old conversation. I am also visiting ancient archeological sites with my son. I am eating familiar traditional Maharashtra food after two decades and introducing different culture, language to my son. Its been mixed bag so far. I am waiting to get back my energy levels to climb some forts around here. Each city has something to offer to every weary traveler, for me its given me a fresh breath of air which i needed!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year to All

Christmas and New year celebrations have really lifted my spirits. I am really surprised that I am signing off a rather disappointing year on a very positive note. There comes time when one gets tired and looks away from all realities and chaos of one's life. I now accept chaos and absurdity as only norms.

I am going for my daily walk and looking at life from a safe distance. I make no plans when I leave the house but most of the times my feet take me to bookshops. I have added more books to my collection. One day I took my son to an art gallery and had great time watching him watch huge canvasses, riot of colors and sculptures. His interpretation and perception is very unbiased and different. It was an inaugural day of an exhibition and even artists were keen to know which picture captivated his attention the most.

I also watched an extraordinary bilingual movie, Arekti Premer Galpo (Just Another Love Story) based on lives of two cross-dressing transsexuals. It was the first time I went alone to a modern multiplex to watch a movie. It reminded me of good old days when I use to go out and watch classics in international film festivals, movie-clubs. Only the feeling of excitement and anticipation was missing but movie truly surprised me. Probably because it projected vulnerability of an individual as strength and suffering of transsexuals and homosexuals too was viewed in a wider context. It hit the bulls eye, the problem truly lies in human society which enjoys to marginalize and oppress the minority of all kinds. Its a sick perverse society which enjoys stoning others for pleasure and leisure.

Last week I was shocked to read about Iranian director Jafar Panahi being sent to prison and banned from making films because he tried to project reality through his movies. I often watch his movies on one of the TV channels and they are amazing small magical parables which essentially explore ideas of freedom and independence of an individual.  Then came the news that Dr. Binayak Sen has been sentenced to life imprisonment on the charges of sedition. How many more creative, compassionate souls will be crucified by the State? Why 'Power' invariably gives birth to demons? Kudos to these brave hearts who will continue their good work even from prison. No one can imprison good compassionate human soul.

I have no expectations from next year, no resolutions either. Like the famous song goes, Whatever Will be, Will be.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not an Ordinary Year

I am watching another year go by. This year was not like rest years of my life. I faced many a storms including painful episodes of my mother shifting out to stay alone at the age of seventy and my son’s abuse in school. Life humbled me a lot in this one year; it stripped me of my confidence, creativity, sanity and even support systems. You can say I have lost most of my treasures including my peace of mind. Sad part is I can’t even comprehend or count my precious losses.

I don’t want to spend last few remaining days of the year counting my losses. But some images will certainly haunt me forever. Images of my bent mother bending to show me gratitude, my terrorized son pleading desperately not to send him to school after his class teacher had abused him, a young relative transforming into someone else and vanishing into dark world. Most importantly, I will never forget my helplessness and  suicidal rage in the face of it all.

My only solace is I did what I could for my mother and my little son. But I have lost my complete trust and faith in humanity and human kindness I must  mention silver linings of this dark year – few friends who believed me and gave me courage to hang on, my son’s new school which opened doors to me as well and great authors and musicians who illuminated my darkest nights.

Biggest realization has been, one really has to face music alone in life. Life is a solo performance. I am so often tempted to end this disappointing solo act but I cannot, I have one important audience, my cheerleader and supporter, my little son.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Journey

A Journey
Why? evolves to
Why not?
Hopeful becomes
Meaningful dissolves
Into Meaningless
A journey from
Evolution to

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Milan Kundera and Being

After many days I found a book which I read through day and night without a wink of sleep or sense of fatigue. Milan Kundera has that ability to take readers on an imaginative trip while keeping them rooted in the reality of human existence. Immortality is a novel, but through it he has explored many philosophical questions which are unavoidable.

What I liked about the book is his ability to create characters and give them a modern life full of modern dilemmas. It is a novel within novel which is created out of one single gesture of a woman. So we see birth of Agnes, a very real but fictional character and her life journey becomes our own. People created around Agnes are interesting too because they are so real with real eccentricities, obsessions and fixations. This book is a meditation about life, death, being, love, sex, immortality, human memory, human mind and manipulations and human indulgences like music, literature, art and even war.

What I simply enjoyed reading was the conversation between Hemingway and Goethe in the other world. They are taking a walk in the other world long after their deaths and they discuss the images they have left behind. Images, which have made them immortal but over which they no longer have any control. We actually see a flip side of immortality.

Milan Kundera reduces great men and art to images and even imitations of themselves. All philosophy, literature, music, art is a mirror to view the human world but he also questions the validity of that very mirror and what it reflects. At one point, all the past understanding of human nature and life by great men actually looks like a baggage we can do without because it hardly comes to any aid when we face real existential dilemmas.

I also believe in what he says about importance of chance and coincidence. Isn't it a coincidence that when I was thinking about death and immortality I came across Immortality and Milan Kundera's reflections on the subject? The book made me laugh, wonder, ponder and observe human life from a happy distance.

It is also a happy coincidence and chance that I can share my ramblings without any inhibitions with some friends and strangers who chance upon it.Yes, please forgive me for my imperfect English, I am a bad editor with a lazy brain. I know, it is no excuse, but right now I want to ramble for no particular reason, maybe a time will come when I will start editing my sentences before hitting 'Publish Post'. Right now, the state of mind I am in, each blog is my momentary death, I have no wish to become immortal.