Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ALTAR EGO

His head was splitting. It seemed like every nerve was revolting, ready to explode any minute. His heart had lost its mirth long ago, but today it seems to have given up its spirit. His purpose in doubt; his existence questioned. He felt pain no more. He had had enough of it. Numbness had engulfed his veins. He felt like a slaughter sacrifice waiting his turn at the altar. Only a little too desperately. He looked at his friend who was sitting right in front of him. What has life done to us, he thought?

We were so happy, vivacious, lived life by the minute and enjoyed every second of it. We felt invincible. We fought in the mud, got drenched in the rain, sang out of tune, danced like nobody was watching, screamed at the top of our lungs. We sat for hours staring at nothing, talked for hours about nothing. We went on a long drive to nowhere, ate and drank everything we could get our hands on, fished in the pond for hours only to get a shoe for a prized catch, fished for a few more hours in search of its pair without luck, roamed the streets in the night with carefree abandon, spent the very last ounce of energy in our bodies and came back to crash into our beds as if never to wake up again. And then we woke up the next day fresh and ready for another adventure.

And so life rolled on amidst chaos, excitement, fervor and charm. Day after day went by chasing nothing and enjoying everything. I wish I had never woken up after one of those days. But I did. And here I am. A changed man. A deflated man. A lost man. A man no more.

His thoughts brought him back to reality. He looked at his friend again who smiled casually. There was the same innocence and zeal that he had seen years ago. How could that be possible? When did we part ways? How does he not have any of life’s scars? Why has God been so kind to him? Or maybe was he too cruel to me? Is he even there? His blood started boiling even more. His friend still had his smile as he looked at him with even eyes. That made him even more livid.

“What is it that makes you so happy? Seeing me like this. Helpless, hapless and hopeless. Seems like life has been very kind to you my friend. If you had been me, then probably you wouldn’t even be here. Do you know how much I have endured? Do you know how it feels when your wing is ripped apart? Feather by feather. Do you know what it does to your self-esteem? Have you felt scrutiny? Have you experienced love? Do you know how it feels to yearn for affection and not receive any? Have you experienced failure? Do you know how it is to fail in the eyes of your friends? Your family? Your foes? And the coup de grace! Do you how excruciating it is to finally fail in your own eyes? The final fall!  

Have you ever thought how would after life be? Would it be more peaceful? It certainly sounds more mysterious. Do heaven and hell exist? Wonder where I would go. Will I be transported through space to get there? It would be cool to see some planets on the way. And be it hell or heaven that I reach, I probably will be better off than I am now. I wouldn’t have to work consistently to satisfy others. I won’t be judged. I would already have been judged. I can be myself. I won’t be a disappointment to the people I know as they won’t be there. Well at least I hope so.

Yes, I have considered death. I have no shame in admitting it. You may think I am a coward. Well heck, maybe I am. Isn’t it easier to just press the shutdown button? We can restart in a new life if there is something like that or be lost into obscurity. Isn’t that an interesting prospect? To myself and to the people who are tired of me? May be. But I can’t muster courage for that either. Will someone miss me? Am I disappointing them again? For one last time. Do I owe them to live? Do I owe myself a death? I can’t seem to decide. Like every other decision, I put this one off too.

Why don’t you say something? Are you deaf? That would be so cool actually. But I know you can hear me. The smirk on your lips tells me you are enjoying this. You think you are safe inside that mirror. You think it is cool to see me make a fool of myself in front of you. In front you, of all people? While you stand there majestically reminding me again and again of my glorified past!  

He looked at the man in front of him who was so calm and composed, so carefree and happy, so blissful and na├»ve, so simple and kind, so full of life and love. This was a man he once knew. This was a man he once loved. This was a man he once was. He wondered how long it had been since he left him inside the mirror. He couldn’t remember. That was the man he still wanted to be. Everyday! Or even just for one day! A wry smile came to his lips. He laughed it up. Life indeed does strange things to you.







Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DADDY TALES


A few months ago, I had promised to come back with more fun stories about our cute little monster. Well, she has been keeping us busy and extremely happy with all her antics and there has never been a dull moment. That had kept me from penning my daddy tales for a while. But they are way too special not to capture and freeze in time and so here I am back with some more cute excerpts from the Maya diaries. Well, having said that, I actually wrote this a while back but I guess not much has changed.

For starters, our little one is not very much into drinking her milk (she is very interested in tea though). Well then, that is not really a surprise as I guess lot of kids don’t. She can yell and shake and move for hours and not get tired. You give her milk and she will start her fake cry. And then you take the bottle out, she will give you her cute smile. The little rascal! The only way to feed her is to pin her down like a chicken and arrest her arms and legs and keep the bottle in her mouth, let her complete her fuss routine and then she will start drinking. But thankfully we have a Plan B. We put her to sleep first and then feed her. We tag team this in a quick two step routine. One of us puts her to sleep while the other is ready with the feeding bottle and a pillow. If you have ever watched Formula One racing, this will remind you of a pit stop wherein the driver drives in at the perfect speed, bringing the car to a screeching halt and the pit crew expertly changes the tires and refuels at break neck speed. 

We all know that infants like putting things in their mouth or licking anything that they can get their hands and tongue on. This one is no different. No object, animate or inanimate, living or otherwise, is exempt from the lick test. But this one gets very creative at that. She is one picky licker I say. She tries to compare the tastes of the things she has licked. For example, the other day she was busy licking her finger. Or rather fingers I should say as her whole hand was pretty much insider her mouth. As I was lying by her side, she noticed that I have fingers too. That got her excited. She grabbed my hand and started scanning my fingers. She took a while to pick her favorite. Index finger it was. She then slowly pulled it towards her mouth and started licking it. You should see her expression change. She was a bit confused I guess. Do I like it or not? Hmm… I have an idea, she thought. So with my finger still in her mouth, she inserted one of her fingers into the mouth. Parallel testing went on for a few seconds and then the verdict was out. She pushed my hand out and continued sucking her finger, until I finally pulled it out. She gave a short glare but then started searching for her next target.

Now interestingly, she has developed a special liking for my nose though. If that is available, she never misses a chance to have a bite. The other day she tried licking my nose but I guess it was a little out of grasp. But she is never one to give up. So she reached out and grabbed both my ears with her hands and pulled me close to her face and then started licking it. I loved it so much that I let her do that for a little bit before I gently pulled away. She gave me a shy smile. I guess that meant “yummy”. She is one hell of a prankster I tell you.

The little one is Miss Curiosity. She takes note of every single little detail around her. It is very easy to take care of her as she hardly fusses. We take her around to every room in the house and she spends about 20 minutes observing everything carefully. Once she is done with the room, she will give a little grunt which is a go ahead for us to move on to the next attraction. And she has her favorites as well. There is a world map in the living room that she just loves. We can stand there for hours and she would still keep staring at it in rapt attention. Oh yeah… Madam loves watching herself. Be it the mirror or the calendar with her pictures galore, she keeps looking on without batting an eyelid.
Recently she has taken to music. We listen to a lot of songs and she has been a victim of passive singing as well. So tired of all this, occasionally she goes into concert mode herself. I must say she maintains a fairly good rhythm (a aa.. a aa aaa… aa aaa.. aa aaa aaa a..). And boy… can she reach high pitch or what! Her decibel levels are frankly unbelievable and off the charts. And she does some hand gesturing to go along with that as well. Now once I got very excited and started singing along, not at her level of finesse but whatever I could muster (aa aa.. a aaa aa aaa aaaa aa..). Madam was not impressed. Smart ass she is… She takes her left hand and puts it on my mouth and then continues with her singing. Message delivered, I guess. I must say she is a little more considerate when she is about to sleep. She lets me sing along then as I rock her.

And if she is not singing, she likes to hear me sing. Or at least that is what I like to believe. Until she starts speaking and breaks my bubble. And no prizes for guessing, I am a very bad singer. I have a selection of five songs which I sing regularly as I walk around rocking her and often times she is probably asleep by the time I reach the fourth song. But of late, she has started listening more and I have to expand my repertoire. But the good thing is there is one song (which by the way is my all-time favorite) that she just loves and it manages to put her to sleep eight out of ten times. I know what you are thinking…. Why not sing that first? Well, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. So, the only thing I have to make sure is to never let my wife sing that song to Maya. Then she would come to know how bad I really am and I don’t want that to happen, just yet.

But it is while sleeping she gives us some of the best moments. Putting her to sleep itself is great fun. The moment I put her on my shoulders, she herself adjusts into a comfortable position and then does the cutest thing. She puts her arms around my neck in a cute puppy hug. This was one such occasion where I had just rocked her to sleep and then sat down in the sofa with her sleeping in my lap. She had kept her hands on my cheek, so softly with so much of love. Now as she was asleep, her hand was slowly slipping down. It made its way to my chin. Then it was slowly about to drop down. How could I let that happen? As her finger tips disconnected, I gradually lowered my chin. Now my chin was touching her hand again. Her hand was almost near her cute little tummy and my neck was almost at a 90 degrees. But her hand was still on my cheek and that was all I cared about. There was a sound. She stirred and my heart skipped a beat. I quickly wrapped my arm around her head to comfort her. My ear was near her heart and my hand was on her head. It was almost as if I could hear 2 beats: her heart and her brain. Another bang. This time I was sure she was going to wake up and cry. She just shifted a little bit and wrapped her arms around my arm and deposited her face into my bicep and continued sleeping. And that gentle smile when she sleeps…. Ah… that is something to die for.


Well, I guess I can go on. But I will stop for now to be back later. She is filling our lives with countless cute and memorable moments every single day. Every such moment is worth cherishing and reliving over and over again. And these memoirs will instantly transport me back in time and I can watch poetry unfold once again in front of my eyes. Sometimes we wish she never grows up. We think what if she stays this tiny little bouquet that we could keep wrapped in the warmth of our arms. But then… life writes its own script, doesn’t it? 





Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FIRE AND SMOKE


Death, I believe is the ultimate mystery. Life is known, at least for the most part. Death is not, again for the most part. Probably we can feel every other emotion that is out there to be felt. But death lurks in the dark. It is just around the corner all our lives, but we don’t live to see it. Yet it embraces each and every one of us eventually. When it decides to, depends on our luck or the lack of it. But even though we mostly don’t see our death coming or prefer not to think about it, we experience death more than we realize. What we understand from it will differ and will shape our eventual tryst with it.

As I sit there watching you sleep as peacefully as ever, I feel numb. I have lost a sense of time or place. I know I am going somewhere but I don’t feel myself moving. I don’t feel the sun scorching my skin. I have lost every other sense but sight. I see you in front of me, sleeping with a gentle smile across your lips just like any other day. But something is different. Today is not every other day. Although I want it to be more than ever. I don’t recognize the streets I have driven by for the last 35 years. I don’t realize how much time we were there together in that van, seeing each other like it was the first time we set eyes on each other. I don’t remember our first encounter. And you wouldn’t remember our last.

I have never seen you cry. You have never seen me cry. Not for long I guess. I see my entire childhood flash in front of my eyes and the only thing that is constant in every frame is you. I sit there in vacuum as a single tear is resisting gravity in a last ditch attempt to prevent my defeat. All through my life, you have let me win every game we have played. I guess it is about time I lost. The tear agrees.

The lone tear slowly makes its way down my cheek as I sit there still in disbelief. There is a storm of despair stirring inside me as I try hard and resist every single tear it produces. Don’t they say one should cry his heart out? I don’t want to. Every tear is a memory. Your memory. I want to keep it inside me forever. This storm is never going to die. The tears are never going to stop. But I know I will never let you go.

The van stops. I see people around me. Nothing registers. They take you away from me momentarily. I hear voices in my head. I meander in a trance as I find you on a wooden bed. You seem comfortable. I am told to say and do things. I comply mechanically. The thought that I might not see your face again makes its way into my head for the first time. I shudder. I close my eyes. I see your face. It doesn’t exactly look like how you are now. It is not the very first one that I remember as a child either. It is a unique mixture of your face that I grew up watching and adoring all these years. It is your face just for me. I fear no more.

Several years ago, I lost something. My loss was painful, at first. I then got used to it pretty soon. I could never forget it, but I learnt to live with it. Or rather without it. But it took me several years to realize what that did to you. I have always known you to be such a tough guy that I didn’t imagine the extent my loss would affect you. You never told me. But one day I saw it in your eyes. I saw a different man. A man whom you managed to hide well from me. A man more endearing than you already were.  

 Fire and smoke engulf me. Your thought alone consumes me. I come back the next day. You are still there. Well, in pieces. They say you burned all night. I am asked to collect your bones. I want to keep one. I am told not to. Well, I don’t have to worry as you are in my bones. I put your remains in a copper pot and bathe you in milk. I am supposed to give you to Mother Nature. I am not ready to let you go. I reluctantly go to the sea and am about to open the pot when all of a sudden a giant wave comes roaring as she grabs you away from me in a flash. I stand there transfixed having lost your last physical remains. Looks like nature was so eager to have you amidst her. I am sure you will love her company. But I hope you will miss me occasionally and step out from wherever you are to see what I am up to. I will look out for you.  

I come back home. I look into the mirror. I see you. I reminisce of all that has transpired. It was a strange day. You wore my shirt. I wore your dhoti. I burned with you. And you will live with me. Forever!






































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