Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Inheritance of Loss

Dec 5, 2016. Selvi Jayalalitha passes away. Obituaries and eulogies inundates the social media. Sifting through my Facebook wall, I click on one of the videos shared by a sensible person. It was the interview of Jayalalitha with Simi Garewal. The interview had a slow pace or may be it is just that we are getting too much used to Arnab. The questions were ordinary, expected but the answers were honest and straightforward, unlike the staged ones we see often, which caught my attention. Jaya, if I may, was shedding just enough light into some mysteries – talking about her crushes, the influence and dominance of MGR, the humiliations at the Madras assembly on March 25, 1989 which she revengefully remembered reminisced of Draupadi in the Kaurava court. But what struck me was her childhood. How the girl yearned for the presence of her mother and how she used to suppress her grief to behind the doors.

This swirled me into the after dinner dining room conversions we used to have at home. The nostalgic man he is, my father more often than not recounted his childhood days at Perinthalmanna. Mostly it will be about the dense, forest-like backyard, the birds and their songs, the after school evening games and the swim in the temple pond thereafter. I and my sister never grew tired of these stories, rather it would be true to say that we came to see and believe that we were in the story too. But occasionally some stories would slip out of him about how he missed his parents. These stories used to bring up a tone of sadness and anguish betraying his calm exterior reliving those nightmares as if it happened to him the day before. I felt these emotions betrayed Ms.Jaya too in the interview and I could see them in her eyes. Not just my father, my mother too lived her childhood far from the warmth of her parents care. Much to my surprise I have never heard her wailing about it.

Ours is a matriarchal society, so my parents grew up in their maternal ancestral home under the care of their grandparents and uncles. Children would easily feel neglected and underappreciated. Parents would not pick a favorite child, at least they would hesitate doing so, but not the case with the guardians. The pain of being overlooked was unbearable as I surmise from the stories of my father. It is not that my grandparents disliked their children but their salary was not enough to sustain the large family. Mothers made the painstaking decision to leave their little ones to carry out their primal duty as a wife. At least that is how I wish to dramatize. I do suspect my grandparents did enjoy their lives though dispersed with the painful separation from the kids. I believe the children too had their freedom to do whatever they wanted in most cases. My father and his brothers had their own hens in their childhood. His elder brother is said to have taken such good care of the hens that he drowned them in a bucket of water while bathing them. The other brother ate his share of eggs, sold some to buy new clothes. My father sold his eggs and waited for years to buy his first camera. He used to buy the used clothes from his dandy brother for lesser money.

It was not just my parents. I may not be wrong to state that it was a phenomenon of that generation - the new independent India. These children grew up to be adults, pretty early I would say, not just that the marriage age limit was less then but the decision making powers they had honed during their formative years. And here we are wearing uniforms to colleges - which are just extended school years. These adults were too careful not to let their children – child for many - taste the bitterness of negligence. I for one has not been away from my parents till I got a job. That’s just me but hey – it is my blog. They do all the decision making but are kind enough to make us feel that we made it. They pave the path to where they believe is good for us and we just have to nod at the end to make it our decision. They sacrifice their lives for the sake of their little ones fulfilling our every whims like a genie out of the bottle. Fathers working abroad to secure a glorious life for their saplings - as an engineer or doctor, of course, while mothers nurtured them back home.

Little did they know that the world was shrinking and was luring everyone with open arms that everyone was becoming global citizen. When I visit homes on a vacation I see wonderful houses with somber spirits inside - yearning, the only true feeling they have known, for their children to be near. They grew up on their own and now left forlorn when finally they look to retire and enjoy life. It seems to me it was never their right to receive care but just to provide them.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Unmasking of your Superhero

Marriages are always fun. Relationships are built. There are people whom you know but meeting after a long time period. You get introduced to many people whom you don't know. Usually our relatives introduce us to the unknown lot. But sometimes people who don't know you may come up to you to exchange pleasantries and identify you right without any proper introduction and you will be left surprised. 

I had the fortune to attend a marriage recently where I ran into many such surprises. I was identified by many as my father's son. Each such rendezvous always fills me up with a sense of pride in my legacy. I have always looked upon my father as an inspiring and motivational person all my life. All children naturally admire their parents. But as I have seen with most of those around me there comes a painful moment of realization, that juncture when your parents cease to be a superhero. Children still adore and love their parents instinctively, but the only superheroes left for them are the caped vigilantes. But I have grown beyond that point, or arguably i have hardly grown at all, as for me my father still remains to be a superhero. I admit there were jittery instances when I expected more from him and the superhero image were about to deface, but he always emerged as an ineffaceable superhero. The image is so ingrained now, I hardly have any fears of rocking that image held safely in the mantlepiece of my heart. It is always highly gratifying when people identify me as father's son be it from my looks, the way I stand or walk, the manner in which I speak or be it my thoughts and opinion.

So, I was dumbfound when I was shown this is not always the reality. I had missed the complete picture. I had missed the duality of nature. I chanced upon an Israeli-German 2012 documentary film, Hitler's Children, that portrays the struggle of family members of Hitler’s inner circle, such as Heinrich Himmler, Hans Frank, Hermann Göring, Amon Goeth and Rudolf Höss, with the burden of a family legacy, and surname, identified with the horrors of the Holocaust. The descendants of the most senior Nazis describe the conflicted feelings of guilt and responsibility they carry with them in their daily lives. They tearfully narrate their grief filled lives and how they live in the shadows trying to rebuild their lives. Some of them even going to the extent of sterilizing themselves so that their surnames are not perpetuated ever on earth. Their struggle to build a wall between their children and their legacy so as to relieve of the trauma they would have had to live with. A guy told how ashamed, guilt-stricken and fearful he was to reveal his surname and how a Holocaust survivor palliated his burden with a forgiving embrace. One broke me down when he said how he could not obey the fifth commandment 'Honor thy father and thy mother' and took to propagating his hatred for them. But admitted that while doing all these researches on the concentration camps, which he plans to do till he dies, how desperately he hopes to find somewhere his father had saved at least any life. And how heartbreakingly he could not find an instance till now. A lady was pensive when she revealed, how she was made to believe of her father as a war hero by her own mother, the agony - the anguish - the disbelief she had as a young adult when that image was shattered.

Every child needs a superhero in their parents. Let no one ever be deafened by the shattering of the images they uphold. Let no one be ashamed, burdened and ostracized from the society due to their surnames. Let no one have to remember their inheritance ignominiously and disgracefully but with pride that comes from a clear conscience. Let us leave a legacy that allows the coming generation to take it with dignity and joy. But for those who still are afraid to unmask their superheroes and continue their mournful miserable lives, I plead humanity to extend their support, warmth and love to assuage their repentant lives.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

I feel like a new born...

Friends depart,
silence retract,
strangers all around;
I feel like a new born….

Numb and desperate,
without close associates;
I don’t belong here!!!
I feel like a new born….

Smiles fade,
standing bewildered;
whom to entrust my-self???
I feel like a new born….

They meant everything,
could express nothing,
now helpless, but only to cry;
I feel like a new born….
Benighted of what to do,
no idea what I do,
falling at each step;
I feel like a new born….

Aimed at building a career,
alone had to face all barriers,
turning unknown faces known;
I feel like a new born….

I now can’t be silly,
Surrounding me are bullies,
In a gush, swimming for the shore;
I feel like a new born….

To hide from all,
I close my eye balls,
nightmares churn out sleepless nights;
I feel like a new born….

Pushed by time,
and living to the chimes,
I lost me….who am I???
I feel like a new born….

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A Pampering Ride

It was after a tiresome day in office. It was the delivery date and somehow managed to squeeze the application through. Was longing to be at home. I always feel so, but without exception when the work load is too much. Call it my laziness or whatever else, but who won’t desire to fall into safe hands at such needy times? Though the level of desperation may vary.

Instead I fell into the front seat of my friend’s car. I was too tired to take my bike that day. I switched on the music system. The speakers blared off some heavy metal songs. I was feeling dizzy and navigated through the playlist to change the music. I was so happy to find a folder ‘Malayalam’ and played it. I wondered if the player is smart enough to sense my mood when it played ‘Olathumbathirunoonjalaadum chella painkili..’ from Pappayude Swantham Appoos.

I was falling through the tunnel of time to my Second Standard days. My father used to sing that song while bathing me. My mother had stopped bathing me as she was too busy in the kitchen to manage my giggling prone to tickling in the busy morning hours. He would sing the lines ‘..Ente bala-Gopalane enna theppikumbam padadi..’ repeatedly. Not that he singed extremely good, but I loved it very much because I thought he was singing for me. It made me feel very special and in the centre of the universe. He called me Gopalaa, so I deluded myself into believing that he made the lyrics for me. I was never tired of those same lines every morning. It never occurred to me that it could be a movie song even when I heard it in Anand-ettan’s auto rickshaw on my way to school. Its true that we see only what we want to see as we are blinded in love. But I did not know then that it was equally applicable o the sense of hearing as well. It was only when I saw it in Chithrageetham – a music programme in DD4-Malayalam Channel did it dawn on me that such a possibility exists. It was a shock not so mild and also a disenchantment not so grave. After this episode of edification, the song did drop a few places from my popularity chart before it soared back to the top in a week’s time.

I was feeling so light and soothed and pampered by the time it played the umpteenth time that night, still was missing home, even more this time. My friend was snarling at me and I was grinning, as broad as the Cheshire cat.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Day at Work

Hands  stretched  out
to  snooze  the alarm  ,
with  a  fitted  pout
the  day  welcomes  lukewarm.

Knocking  at  the  bathroom  door ,
shouting  to  make  it  quick 
the  queue  stands  as boats  in  moor
shaking  the  legs  in  an  urgent  prick.

To  sleep  off  the  incomplete  dream  ,
the  bus  seat  is  conferred  as  a  bed ,
commuted  to  the  office  in  teem
as  cattle  to  the  slaughter  shed .

With  a  smiling  mask ,
giving  the  good  and  the  bad  the  same  ear ,
around  the  cubicles  moving  brisk  ,
without  a  wink  , to  the  target  all  gear.

Looking  at  the  juicy  sliced  white  melon  ,
the  slender  creeping  and  dancing  lightening  ,
the  vagrant  wind  dries  all  ,
only  hope  and  aspirations  remain 
like  the  salt  crystals  after  the sweat.

Fighting  for  the  pillow
as  blind  kitten  for  mother’s  milk  ,
lying  with  a  dribbling  mouth
its  time  again  for  the  hands  to  stretch  out.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Silence of the Dogs

I have not slept well for the past one week. Late nights in office. Euro cup. The arrival of a new carrom board. Well, had to blame something. Then there are these street dogs. Their gang wars. Their standing guard of the territories. Their congress. The barks. The screeches. The yelps. The howls. I want a relief from these tossing, weary, torturing, long restless insomnious nights.

It was a full moon day. The street lamp outside was fluttering as always. Partly the voltage is to blame, partly the loose connection. I had an altogether bad day in office. Worser still, the team I had stakes on lost. I could not sleep well as the irritation was still itching. Itching hard. I could not bear when the ferals started all their notorious activities. I decided this must be it. I had to put an end to it.

Disclaimer 1: The narration below is has violent content. Pregnant women and those with weak hearts are advised not to peep in.

I plunged out of my bed. On my way down the stairs I picked a crow-bar and a knife from the kitchen. A sabre like. I smashed the door on my back and stepped in to the alley. A black dog came charging towards me. I withdrew the sabre from the scabbard and plunged into the chest of that crazy dog. It yapped and fell still with a thud. Thick red blood dripped from the sabre. Then a husky attacked fom my side. My remarkably quick blow was on target but the sabre penetrated so deep that I had to get hold of my crow-bar to protect myself from the approaching canines. There were four of them, snarling at me. I held the crow-bar horizontal to the ground, gripping with both my hands. They slowed down. Snarling still, they followed cautiously the semi circular path I was making, to make sure am not encircled from all sides. Am alone. They are many. At an opportune moment, I swung hard and real quick, the crow-bar at the stupendous four. I heard the skull cracking of the first one. The pointed edge slashed the throat of the second and sent the other two flying in the air. The two fell at a distance and was so injured that they could barely stand. I approached those yelping creatures with the war cry of the Yeehats. I got hold of one by its hind limbs and smashed against the lamp post. It was such a strong blow, the post was set vacillating. The flickering lamp went off. I could feel the frightened eyes of the one left staring at me. I grabbed him too by the hind limbs and banged him on the sharp and pointed edges of the gate. The head half of him tearing apart and falling on the other side of the gate. I threw the half left in mine to a distance. I gave out a rallying cry.
"Who wants a fight??"
"Anybody left??"
But to my dismay, I found packs of tens rushing towards me. I stood with my back against the lamp post. When they neared me, every sound died out in my horribly loud battle cry. The inevitable annihilation was carried out with ferocity and vehemence. I found myself surrounded by knee deep carcasses of the sons of bitches. The blood seemed more thick and dark in the moonlight. The blood smeared all over, I gave one final outcry.
"Who wants more??"
I could hear a pin drop. I raised my hands in vociferous eruption. I slammed my blood smeared hands against the post. A steady light started glowing. I could see the two piercing eyes staring at me from the posters in the walls behind. Those inquistive pair were of "Badi Memsaab's".

"Well, Clarice - have the dogs stopped screaming?", a calm, soporific yet impertinent stern voice asked me.
"Am not Clarice", I started scornfully without realising it was to Dr. Hannibal Lecter that I was talking. But when that fact dawned on me, I was about to reconciliate by answering to his question by a smiling 'Yes', but some yelps and barking stopped me from doing that.

I opened my eyes irritatingly to the howls. The street light was still flickering out in the alley.

Disclaimer 2: No animals were harmed during the complete course when the incidents unfolded. Any animal found dead in my locality should be strictly attributed to its insensible crossing of the roads.

Disclaimer 3: The dogs in the recounting are strictly fictional. Those resembling any living or dead are strictly coincidental.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Prayer for a friend

Apr-18-2008. A very unfortunate and sad day for us. The day when all our prayers went unanswered. The day of demise of our beloved friend, Krishna Prasad. It was on a Vishu that unfortunate accident occurred taking a cheerful and brilliant soul with it.

When he was taken from Palana hospital to Jubilee Mission hospital, with just a bandage around his head, who would have known it was the last time to see him alive. Three days of waiting outside the hospital corridors hoping prayers would save him dimmed as our friend failed to wake from comatose.

The entire batch of 2004-08 of our college was unfortunate to witness six valuable lives succumb to death. In loving and fond memories of their souls :

Waiting outside praying,
instilling great hopes within,
he would turn up smiling,
poking fun at our wet eyes.
Dawn to dusk we sat
in those dilapidated benches,
watching him through the glass,
entangled in tubes and monitors around.
Prayers of parents,
nor ours,
could stop the doctors say,
‘Sorry , he is no more’.
How death entered?
breaching our mortal cordon
and hopeful eyes,
to steal his divine soul.
How could death,
comply our recusant friend,
to take to the cryptic world;
amidst us he had enough fun.
When he lay unmoved,
It  failed us conspiring,
stripping him off the surreal,
and pushing us into an ordeal.
The reek of death,
was spreading around;
in the bier - under the floral tributes,
he left us in destitute.
Draped in the shroud,
revealing only the visage;
who will rescue him from Its cage?
Pulling the hearse,
Never did anything more fierce,
smothering beneath the smouldering wreath,
only memories bequeath;
consigning him to the flames,
is there anyone we could blame?
The fainting cries,
and our helpless eyes,
could do nothing, but pray,
‘may You always be in peace’.