Tag Archives: cry

Dear Sea

Tell me, oh Dear Sea,
Why do I come to you?
Do you understand my pain,
that’s understood by so few?

You never ever talk to me,
but in you, I find respite.
How do you manage to ease, in me,
the little battles I fight?

When I see your waves, endless,
the water and the froth,
you seem to attract me
like a lamp attracts a moth.

When on a shore, I sit and weep,
how do I feel reassured?
Is it you that clears those thoughts
that once felt obscured?

I wonder at how you do all this,
I wonder if you do it at all.
I wonder at how vast you are,
and I, mere man, so small.

As if the waves of joy you carry
seep slightly inside my soul.
They fill my being with happiness,
Yes, sea, that’s your role!

When I leave, I look back at you,
I end up with a smile.
I came with little, I take back so much,
“I was blind all this while!”

I know I’ll come back when I’m low,
and you’ll open your arms for me.
I’ll cry again, but I’ll leave smiling.
Thank God for you, Dear Sea.

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A View Back In Time

I have always believed that our brain has been hardwired to compare. Be it objects, emotions or scenarios, our mind constantly compares. We are able to distinguish good from bad, black from white, shiny from rusty; and I feel this is where lies the basis of our intelligence. In short, I think that the human race is this intelligent because it can compare things better than any other group of organisms we know.

Since I am a part of this human race, and I am what can be safely called ‘normal’, I also have this quality to compare, especially to distinguish between things I saw during my childhood and those that exist now. And I dare say, I am really good at it!  Now there are some places that really don’t seem different with respect to time, until the difference is no longer possible to overlook. Mumbra, where I have spent a decent part of my childhood, is one such place… The streets are still as dirty as they were, 15 years ago; the people still quarrel like they did, back then; and the roads there still resemble the moon’s surface. The one remarkable change that one would easily notice now is the presence of a huge number buildings now. In a short while, many  residential structures have sprung up. It is jarring for the eyes, really. I mean, would you not be startled to discover a building that didn’t exist on your last visit, about three and a half month ago? To many, this is ‘rapid development.’

Mumbra is not that bad, as far as scenic beauty is concerned. Beautiful hills adorn one side of the town, a creek and mangroves on another. As a child, I enjoyed watching these hills while sitting on the windowsill of my Grandmother’s house on the first floor of Bhoora Mahal, though it is not really the best place to allow the creek’s view. The hills had something that had me gazing at them for apparently no reason. I enjoyed the way they turned green after a few rains, sometimes enveloped by clouds. And when it was summer, their hue would turn more and more earthern, till they were almost barren. My cousins and I would watch people (who looked no larger than ants from such a distance) climb up a long flight of stairs that reached all the way till the Mumbradevi temple, situated at the side of a steep cliff. It was a great time-killer, especially during summer vacations, when time-killing had to be ‘great’ by compulsion.

The View in 1999
The View in 1999

Soon, a ‘rapid development’, like those mentioned before, happened right beside my grandmother’s building. Not only did it block the view of the beautiful hills entirely, it also barred most of the natural light from entering grandmom’s house. It was a shocking change. No more sitting on the sill, no more watching the hills covered in clouds. It could well be the most shocking change I experienced till that age (I was around 12 years old, I guess).

After that, lights in Bhoora Mahal had to be kept on 16-hours-a-day (considering 8 hours of sleep). Meanwhile, more buildings got constructed, engulfing little huts and trees in the locality. The air lost some of its freshness each day. As time passed, some of my brain cells, that remembered the view from that window, died every moment. Only a picture clicked by my elder sister, from a borrowed film camera, back in 1999, kept the memory alive somehow. I had somehow stopped missing that view because I gave in to the fact that it could no longer be a possibility. True, I could view it from other places (such as building terraces), but it certainly never felt like how it felt from the sill. And one day, the ‘rapid development’ that stood beside a much-older Bhoora Mahal, crumbled and gave away.

Three people died, from what I heard, and many people lost everything they had. Too busy with my own life (no time left to be killed, anymore), I only went to meet my grandmom after a few weeks i.e. after Bhoora Mahal was declared safe. It was a sunny afternoon,  the characteristic of the day I remember because I realized it was too bright the moment I reached the first floor. My steps hurried, taking me faster in the direction of my destination. They hurried because I started to realize what awaited me. The moment, when I stepped into the house, was special. It felt as if I was re-entering my childhood. The moment was bright, like the fresh sunlight that embellished the room I was in. My joy was at a constant ascent. And each single spec of time that had settled on my life’s own window, began to disappear, allowing me to view those moments of my past vividly. Some memory triggers are nature’s own time machines. I relived my moment, standing on the window sill and gazing at my beloved hills in the same way as I did as a child. I did so one eyeful at a time, because it was choking me with emotions. My oscillating mind began to compare two images of the same scene, images separated by a period of about eight years. As tears began forming in my myopic eyes, I looked away uneagerly. I came back to the sill many times during the few hours I spent there. In the little amount of time I spent there, I understood the true meaning of nostalgia. It is good that some things don’t change.

What I saw in 2013
What I saw in 2013

My Legendary Talent

Average – If there is one word that describes me, it has to be this. I have always been strictly average, right from the moment I was born, during my childhood, during my stint as a student, even now. Some friends and critics have used terms like ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ as my qualities, but I guess they have been excruciatingly kind. I don’t deny them entirely, however, as I believe that we all have been blessed with a few good talents. I guess I am a good singer, though not an excellent one. And I say ‘good’ because I have won a handful of prizes while in school and college. The first time I decided to step on stage happened long after (4 years) I discovered that I had the capability to make my vocal chords dance inside my throat. I was in Grade 7 then, and having sung a deeply patriotic and wisely chosen ‘Zindagi maut na ban jaaye…’ (Movie: Sarfarosh), I won the first prize. Even to people who thought my sole talent was Being Hopeless, I was suddenly the Sonu Nigam of my school. I didn’t complain. In fact, I made it a point to participate in as many competitions as I could – Quizzes, Drawing, Singing… You name it, chances were that I was in it. As my stage fright began to diminish, my confidence climbed steadily. After a while, all I was worried about was winning prizes, which I ironically found a dearth of (A handful of prizes, true, but I have small hands).

When one day I was told that a Talent Show was to be held in our school, I participated readily. Without thinking twice, I listed ‘Mimicry’ as my talent. I believed I mimicked the voices of cartoon characters well, especially those shown on Disney Hour everyday at 5 PM. No one, not even myself, knew whether I was fit to do it, or not. Perhaps, I just wanted to be different, not only with what I was about to do, but also the character I had chosen. Goofy has not been among Disney’s smartest characters, but his was the voice I was most confident of mimicking. After waiting eagerly for close to half an hour, I heard my name being announced and proceeded on to the stage. In front of an audience that comprised students of half a dozen classes and some teachers, I began my little act. Moments after I began to speak, the microphone stopped working. I was told that I had to continue my mimicry without one, because all numerous attempt failed to revive it (the mic, not the mimicry). Placing the dead microphone on a table, meant for props for other performers right behind me, I began what one could only call ‘In-efficacious Squall.’ I had to be loud to be audible to all, but that meant I had to end up sounding like a clown.

microphone-audience
Image courtesy: michaelangelocaruso.com

Three hundred quiet faces looked at me intently. I wanted to believe that they liked and secretly marveled inside their heads at my ‘Talent’, but it was clear enough that I was wasting the time of a more worthy participant. And right when I thought it could not get worse than this, my feet disturbed the cable of the then-not-working-now-functioning-perfectly-well microphone. The cable dragged the mic, and the whole hall erupted in laughter. It was not for my act… They all thought I had farted! The position of the mic right behind me didn’t help me either. I tried to explain what had happened, but the damage was already done. Red-faced, I took the long walk back, while everyone (including a few teachers) continued their relentless giggling. As I sat back in place, the student alongside asked me if I had an upset stomach and began laughing crazily. Others followed suit. Soon, around half of my classmates had demonstrated various methods of boisterous laughter, apart from suggesting various home remedies to cure flatulence. One went as far as asking whether farting was the talent I wanted to showcase. I remained quiet most of the time, having given up explaining long back as I knew it would have little or no effect. The teasing continued for a few more days until another victim was discovered, after which my schoolmates forgot about the Talent Show. It remained etched in my memory vividly, though. It kept reminding me that even with all the lack of my fear of facing an audience, I was vulnerable to embarrassment if I did not make the correct choices. It is an important lesson life has taught me; a lesson I learnt the hard way; a lesson I value; a lesson I will never forget.

P.S.: I used this title to pay homage to the novel ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’, the first novel I ever read completely (and re-read it 5 times). This novel is written by my favorite author, Mike Gayle, whose descriptive and rib-tickling writing has been among my primary inspirations.

The Frail Furball

“Wake up, Salman! You will be late for work!”

“Gah! 5 minutes more please…”

When I woke up ‘5 minutes’ later, half an hour had passed. As I looked at the clock while running to the bathroom, with my towel mopping the floor graciously without much effort, I realized I had approximately 25 minutes to bathe, get ready, comb my hair (always takes a bit of time), have breakfast, catch an auto rickshaw, reach the station and catch my regular train. Considering the fact that this was routine stuff, I was slightly less troubled in my mind. Afterall, I had been desperately trying to reach office on time since ages, in vain. I had been so unsuccessful in this endeavor, that my not-so-on-time arrivals earned me another epithet – “Late Latif.” This, too, was routine stuff. I had been a “Monday Man” (for falling ill a lot, mostly on Mondays), “The Prolific Patient” (for falling ill a lot) and “Mr.Clumsy-pants” (for falling a lot).

Deciding while bathing, that I needed to skip breakfast to ensure my rare moment of punctuality, I quickly rushed to change my clothes. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they were not taken out last night from the cupboard. This was a big ask, considering that the cupboard was in the upper room. Perhaps the only challenge more demanding was that I had to rush upstairs on a ladder (there were no stairs) wearing nothing but a towel around my waist. I hardly had any time to ponder. Frenzied, I rushed upstairs and quickly went across the room. In no time at all, I was ready and combing my hair looking at the mirror. I had shaved last evening, and my skin gleamed, and I grinned at how good a job was done by my barber. The reflection of a white ball of fur, lying on the floor just behind me, caught my attention. It was a cat.

Now it was not a surprise that felines loved our upper room – it was their favorite place to hang out when they weren’t pouncing around on roofs. Even with windows shut, they always found a way to sneak in and rest on a cloth fallen from a clothesline. I admit they had been a nuisance, sometimes, but I have always loved cats. I always make it a point to show love to these fluffy creatures, provided they are tame and do not get uncomfortable.

I turned around and advanced towards the animal, half expecting it to run away. But it stayed still as I brought my hand near it. It was not asleep and was looking at me. But it did not move. As my hand made contact with its soft fur, it started to get up. I felt a shiver it its body, and before I could assume that it was getting ready to run away, it no longer attempted to stand up, coming back to its original state. It was for the first time since the moments of my first encounter with it, that I noticed its extreme weakness. The outline of its ribcage peeped out at places from underneath the surface of its skin. It blinked very rarely, and produced no sound at all since I first saw it. What looked like a curled-up ball of fur, was now a mute bag of bones. I was convinced it would die if I didn’t help, and images of a pet that died years ago flashed before me. All this was shattering my heart.

Leaving the comb on the floor, I rushed downstairs to the kitchen. Finding a steel bowl with great difficulty (Our kitchen was a maze of utensils), I poured some fresh milk and came back upstairs. The sapless kitten still lay there, too frail to even change its position. I lifted it in my hands and somehow tried to bring its mouth to that of the bowl. As its whiskers touched the surface of the white liquid, its tongue began lapping it hurriedly. It almost fell out of my hands into the bowl, as I struggled to ensure it did not. It seemed as if the milk was pulling the kitten towards itself. In around two minutes, the bowl was empty. I went back downstairs to get some more milk. But when I returned, the animal was gone. I scoured the entire room, but the feline was nowhere to be found. Worried and surprised, I slowly started to descend down the ladder. The open window, that was not open earlier, grabbed my fancy. I came back up again and looked outside from that window. My worries faded and I smiled silently for a few moments. My little ball of fur was sitting on the opposite roof, licking its paw. My smile was more a result of disbelief than of happiness. Surely, such a small quantity of milk would not have been enough to bring the kitten back to life. It was too weak to move its limbs, the same limbs it was now cleaning merrily with its tongue.

While having breakfast, I looked at the tea in my cup for sometime. It was about the same quantity as the milk the kitten had sipped. Many questions crossed my mind: Where would the kitten go? Would it get more food? Would it live long enough? I could no longer eat in peace, so I stood and left without finishing my breakfast. If there have been times when I ran away from a straining thought, this was surely one of it. As I walked towards the rickshaw stand, I saw the the cat sitting at the edge of the pavement, stretching and yawning. Changing my direction at once, I went near it. I was already convinced that it was the same animal, but before I could touch it once again, it got up and ran away. I genuinely smiled for the second time during the day, not due to disbelief this time, but from happiness. As I saw it disappear at a distance, I boarded the rickshaw and left for work. I was happy to be late this time.

Kitten

(Image is for representation purpose only, and is owned by its author)

Death of the Dilemma

Should I go, or should I not?”

It must have been one of the rare times in the history of humanity that a person was confused between entering a building and climbing up to the third floor, or not. Most people need just the first step to convince themselves. I needed three floors. For precisely 7 minutes, I stood there and kept tackling my thought. I would not let go. My eyes remained fixed on the third floor window all the while. I turned around and left the compound. I could not take myself building so much suspense for me. “No big deal! I haven’t been there for over a year. Doesn’t matter if I did not go there today”, I explained to myself while on the way in an auto rickshaw. My other self kept quiet. My phone rang. It was Mom, who said that I had to collect some jewelry from an aunt and deliver it to another aunt in Amrut Nagar.

“Amrut Nagar?”, I confirmed and mother responded in the affirmative. I was returning from the same location. It was the same place where I stood under that building, lost in confusion. In no time, I was going back there, a box-ful of ornaments in my hand. “Sometimes, all you need is a sign”, my other self gave back a long-pending reply. Quickly, I delivered the box to my aunt and looked at the remnants of my deliberation about my visit to an old friend’s house.

When I say ‘friend’s house’, it would hardly appear to be a matter to be so perplexed about. But it DID matter to me. I had not been there for more than a year and five months (Yes, I kept a track of the time). All this time I had avoided that place as much as I could. There had been many such moments when I had stood and stared at the third-floor window, wondering if I should go upstairs and meet my second family (I would call them this). Every time I would return, just explaining to myself some way or the other. And all this was for a reason.

It is said that people with true friends are lucky. While I don’t really doubt this saying, I believe that there is hardly a person as fortunate as the one who is also loved by his/her friend’s family as one of their own. My friend’s family loved me dearly, and I realized my superior luck very soon. It was only a matter of time when they were my mother, my father, my brother and my sister. The only wrong thing that they did was they lived right next to my ex-girlfriend’s house. When I was planning to marry her, my second family tried to help me. In return, they were banished by their own neighbors. And then, they banished me. The only thing more painful was that they never said it to me by themselves. It was a long day, I recollect.

It only took a phone call to my present girlfriend to end this mental disarray. She encouraged me to go and meet them. When my mind was waist-deep in confusedness, she de-cluttered it in one moment. Some people understand what calms you down more than you can ever understand. I walked away again, but this time, I wanted to buy something to eat. When I get worried or nervous, food helps me (and maybe, this is one reason I am turning so fat now). But I did not want to eat alone, so I bought some shawarmas for them and a huge pack of chocolate for my friend’s little son. While returning, I watched daylight fade, and since I was walking in Mumbra, surroundings began to lose visibility as there was no power, not even on the streets. I reached the building and was on the stairwell without a second thought. As I stood in darkness on the third floor, the heat of freshly-prepared shawarmas warmed my fingers , as I continued to gasp out of exhaustion. I did not want to change my mind midway, so I ran as fast as it was possible for me. I knocked the door and waited for what I felt was an enormously long minute. The door creaked open, and lights began to glow. Power had resumed.

The Entrance

The Agony of Age

Around two months ago, on August 25, 2013, my sister gave birth to a sweet girl. She brought with her, a truckload of joy and happiness. Such an angel, the little girl. I believe all infants are more angels than humans. They know nothing bad, they do nothing bad, because their thoughts are pure. My niece is too young to think, right now. She recognizes me, though, sometimes only sleeping in my lap or when I pat her. She also recognizes my mother, and smiles looking at her. Most of all, she is able to identify her own mother, even by her voice. I feel the little girl is now understanding the world around her. She cries sometimes, mostly when hungry. It seems that she has concluded somehow that she will get food once she cries. All this when she is just about a couple of months old. I wonder how I used to be when I was that young. I am sure, I was not as smart. Children, these days, are much smarter. My mother tells me I had Jaundice when I was born, and they kept me in the hot afternoon sun to “cure” me. When I wailed for food, rarely opening my eyes because the sun was so bright, my mother stood at a distance and cried for me. She knew I was hungry, but she could do nothing. I guess I did not get a chance to be as smart as my niece, because I was busy sunbathing.

The Cradle

I am in the twenty-fifth year of my life now, and it has been one fine ride, so far. Of course, there have been difficult times, but they have only helped me understand the true value of the good times in this journey. But the biggest difference between the then-me and my now-me is perhaps my ability to choose between what is good and bad. I have understood that like all humans, by default I am programmed to make mistakes as I grow up. Perhaps, this is what helps me learn things.

I wonder what it would be like to not be able to think, to be like an angel, to just cry and get food. I am not that old, and would like to believe that I have a long way to go. But the agony of age will catch up. Responsibilities will continue to pile up. Looking at my niece, I wonder how was it for me to know nothing bad, to do nothing bad, to have thoughts that are pure. Or to have no thoughts at all.
However it was, I guess I will never find out.

Music, My Healer

Music… What can it not heal? Bruised morales, broken hearts… Perhaps every negative thought that can possibly come in someone’s mind. For some, music is just a way to kill time, while others listen to songs for very specific reasons. I love Linkin Park for its lyrics. Though slightly on the sadder side and sometimes too loud (rock bands are, usually), its songs can take you to another world if each word is listened to carefully. One song, Roads Untraveled, that I very much relate to comes from their recent album, Living Things. I often find myself singing the lines below:

“Give up the heart left broken
And let that mistake pass on.
‘Coz the love that you lost
Wasn’t worth what it cost.
And, in time, you’ll be glad its gone…”

So beautifully written! Simple lines, and such deep meaning! Consoling and advising at the same time. These lines so easily guide you to the thought that it is important to move on in life. True, a broken heart is like a thousand daggers piercing your soul together, like a never-ending pain, like a tombstone on the grave of love no longer alive. But it CAN be healed and there is always room for hope.

Music, my healer
Music, my healer

‘Hope’ itself is such a little word with so much meaning that it can change how one perceives life. We all deal with little heartbreaks each day, so why can we not overcome those which are seemingly huge? There are always negative thoughts riding in the vehicle of the past. Let your hope be its roadblock. When the past begins to deafen you, focus your mind on the Chime of your positivity. Solace is just waiting to be acquired.