What Passion?

So I was going through my old manuscripts the other day, and I noticed that despite the difference in themes in them, there was one idea that kept repeating itself. Most of them had rather desperate pleadings to the world to remember me. I think it’s a legitimate request. Don’t you? We like to think of ourselves as the centre of universe in our immediate vicinity. But the truth is, it’s just an illusion! Work does not stop when you’re on a vacation. There’s someone else to do it. You fall sick, but life around you keeps on going. And you realise that your end is definitely not the end of the universe. Life goes on, and people move on, and you’re not certain that people will even remember you after you die. And so you plead.

 

                                                A legacy is what we wish to leave behind once we’ve moved on from this world. A part of ourselves that people will look at and say, “There! There he is.” I am sure this is one of the factor people take into account while choosing to marry and have kids. Some have said as much to me. So, for those of us who have deliberately decided to opt out of matrimony, the fear of being forgotten is not quite unreasonable. Off course, having kids does not ensure continuity. I don’t even know the names of my grandparents!

 

                                                Some people devote themselves to their family. Some devote themselves to their calling. Each in their own way, working towards this goal, a legacy to leave behind. And I am willing to bet my money on the idea that how successful a person thinks he has been in achieving said goal is directly proportional to how content he will feel on his death-bed. So, what’s it gonna be? Me? I think I’ll write blogs.

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NOW I’VE GOT AN AMBITION. NOT!

          “What do you want to be?” Now there’s a question that’s thrown at you every other day when you are growing up. I’m sure, like me, you changed the answer to that question as frequently as it was asked. For the most part of my childhood, I spent dreaming about being a Super-hero. A knight in a shining armour to rescue some damsel in distress if you will. Off course, it didn’t matter that I was an absolute wuss. When I grew up, I was sure I was going to be fearless.

 

          Then I discovered music. I saw my brother perform “Nasha Bhitra” (it’s a Nepali song) at some function organized by our church. I wanted to do that. I gave up that idea however, when I discovered how good (which is to say how bad) I really was. I kinda feel bad for all those people who had to endure my various “gems” when I decided to give them impromptu performances. My ambition of becoming an author, a poet, a professional football (soccer) player, traveler, photographer, all similarly got dashed one by one as I grew up.

 

          I don’t know about other countries, but in India, it is fairly normal for parents to frequently remind you what a failure you have been. It’s part of growing up and you learn to take it in your stride as you leave your teenage and hormones behind. Plus, the constant use does takes away its bite.

 

          I’m 26 years old now. And I’ve got a decent job which pays me enough to feed myself and my family with some to spare. It’s by no means a success story, but I believe its not a failure either. Sure I couldn’t be an author, but I can read. A treasure trove of knowledge and literature that I won’t be able to finish reading in my lifetime, even if I read at break-neck speed. I play football with kids at my neighborhood every chance I get, so there’s another box checked right there. My job allows me to travel quite frequently. I get transferred to new location every 2-3 years. I guess its not that frequent, but it will do. Most days I blare out the music system and sing along, and that makes me happy. Mostly because I don’t hear the mistakes that I make. And it irritates the hell out of my neighbors so that’s a plus. As for Photography? Well, I guess, I didn’t really wanted to be one.

 

          What we want usually comes at a price. Ambition, hunger, the drive to do whatever it takes and sacrifice everything else is good. Important even. But I figure everyone can’t have that. I certainly don’t. Life throws at you unexpected challenges. And more often than not, what you’re given is not what you actually wanted. But you have to make the best out of it. And hey! The kids in my neighbourhood do appreciate my game!

The Last Straw

Sheila gingerly touched her bruised cheek. After a fortnight of hiatus Rudra had beaten her again last night. She looked at herself into the mirror and was alarmed to see her face swollen to disproportionate level. But her alarm quickly faded. She knew no body would see her. They had no visitors. Not for the past five years. In a way, she was glad about it. She didn’t know how she would explain her frequent black eyes, or a broken nose. It never occurred to her that some of the visitors – had they had any – could or would help her. After five years, she had resigned to her fate. She heaved a long sigh and stood up. Akshara would be back in about an hour. Her daughter was the sole source of joy in her life now. Oh how much she loved her! Her gentle caress, she marveled, made the worst pain fade away. Akshara had started going to school that same year. Sheila’s life had not exactly a breeze, yet she was surprised how quickly kids grew up. Seemed only like yesterday when she’d seen her, the very first time. And here she was, already going to school.

                                        Sheila knew Rudra had always wanted a boy. He had not even bothered to pretend to hide his strange fetish. ‘Our son will do this’, ‘we’ll buy this toy for our son’,’I want our son to become that’, ‘our son will have everything that I didn’t.’ Sheila never ventured to ask him what he would do if it were a girl. She was too scared of his passion. He’d after all, never hazarded a girl’s name whenever they were discussing for their imminent baby’s name. She’d hoped, for Rudra’s sake, that it turn out to be a boy. But when she saw her daughter, when she held her for the first time, she felt guilty of ever having wished it.

                                      After her return from the hospital, an eerie calm settled over the house. A calm broken occasionally by the baby’s wail. She had no idea then that it was the calm before the storm. She could she the dejection on her husband’s eyes. He wore the look of someone being severely cheated. Then suddenly, one day, all hell broke loose. Rudra came home drunk, barely able to stand. When Sheila had tried to help him to bed he had struck her full on her face, cursing and abusing her. That had been the start. After a couple of times, he didn’t even need the excuse of intoxication. She had married against the wishes of her parents. Even her friends didn’t support her. They had coaxed her, threatened her, tried to bully her, but she had been adamant. Perhaps strangely it was their disapproval that drove her further towards Rudra. She had vowed to prove them wrong.

                                A gentle tap on the door, brought a smile on her face. Her princess was back. She went ahead and opened the door. Akshara looked up at her and lifted her arms upwards signalling her mother to pick her up. Sheila’s smile grew even bigger as she bent down to do just that. “How’s my baby?”

“Akshara is fine.” She said carelessly.

“What did you do at school?”

“You know mammy, Rohit peed in his pants today.”

“Again?”

“Miss Teresa sent him home.”

“You should have peed in your skirt too. You could come home to mammy early.”

“Ewe!”

Sheila kissed her and gently placed her on a chair. “Ready for Ice-cream?”

Akshara jumped up in joy. This, Sheila thought, is what kept her alive. Her bundle of joy. Just a little thing right now, and one day she’ll be going to college, running for a job, and getting married. The thought brought a sad smile on her face. She turned away, lest her daughter should see her tears.

*       *       *

“Open the door Sheila.” Rudra was shouting outside. Sheila had an uneasey feeling, so she sent Akshara to bed. Although, she knew that Akshara could hear everything. The screams, the abuses, Sheila could at least protect her daughter from seeing the actual violence. She stood up, and slowly went to open the door.

“What took you so long?” he glared.

Sheila didn’t bother to answer.

“Answer me you bitch.” Everything was a blurr for a moment. And it took sometime for Sheila to register the burning sensation in her face, and some more time to realise its cause.

“Answer me.” Rudra was screaming.

“I was in the bathroom.” Sheila blurted.

“What were you doing in there? Masturbating?”

“Yes.” Sheila knew the answer would provoke Rudra even more. But she couldn’t help it. She was angry herself.

“You whore! you answer me back like that? I’m gonna teach you a lesson today. Come here you Bitch.” Rudra lunged at her. Sheila reacted swiftly, but she bumped herself on a chair and fell down. The next instant Rudra was on top of her. Sheila tried to defend herself by clawing frantically. A punch however, somehow landed in Sheila’s face. A warm taste of blood filled her mouth. She started clawing even more frantically. Her nails came handy this time and she managed to scratch him few times. A punch landed right between her eyes, sending Sheila into momentary darkness. Rudra took the advantage and placed her hands sideways and locked it with his knees.

                            “You bitch. You wanna get fucked?” Rudra tore her blouse and started kneading her breast mercilessly. Sheila tried to wriggle out but it was of no use. He was simply too heavy. She didn’t give up, but knew the futility of trying. Rudra bent down and bit her breast. Sheila screamed in pain. At that instant Akshara came running towards the scene.

“Daddy no.” She caught Rudra’s right hand and started pulling it. With one swift movement he freed his hand which sent Akshara a couple of steps back.

“Get inside.” Rudra screamed.

“Yes. Go back in baby. Mammy will be right there.”

But the moment Rudra turned his back on her, she came forward again and started pulling him.

“You little witch. Don’t you understand? Get back inside.” Enraged he picked up the baby and threw her across. She hit the wall and fell, silent and immobile. 

“No.” Sheila gave a cry of terror and lunged across to help her child. But a well timed kick in her stomach sent her bundled in the floor. Rudra gave her another kick and left the house hurling abuses.

 

*         *             *

                               Sheila woke up with a start. After last night’s ordeal, she was surprised she fell asleep at all. She planted a loving kiss on her daughter, cuddled up in her breast. After Rudra had left last night, she had hurried to have a look at Akshara. There was a small cut on her elbow, and a minor bruise on her forehead. Other than that, she seemed okay. Akshara hadn’t cried after the incident, and she didn’t know if she ought to be worried about it. For now, she was just relieved that her child was okay. She gently caressed the bruise on Adshara’s forehead, but quickly drew her hand back, when she stirred. She carefully left the bed and headed to the kitchen. She noticed on the way that Rudra had not returned that night. Not that she cared. After a cup of a very strong coffee, she started to have an idea of what she was going to do. Rudra had not exactly been a loving father. Though she was sure that he didn’t hate her. Inasmuch as he never hit her or abuse her. But yesterday changed everything. She may have resigned to her fate, but she was not going to let her daughter got through the physical abuses, and the mental trauma inexplicably attached to it. She would not be able to forgive herself if she allowed that to happen. Yesterday, she thought, was the proverbial last straw. She had to leave. But she wanted to have a few things clear with her husband, so she sat down to write to him.

 

Rudra,

       When you find this, I might have gone far away, or i may be just across the street. In any case, I advice you not to come looking for me. We are leaving, leaving for good. I won’t tell you where I’m going, but my guess is, you’ll figure it out. You will notice that the jewellery, the cash, along with the ATM card, is not where its suppossed to be. I think after being subjected to all the physical as well as mental pain for all these years, you got yourself a fair deal. My lawyer will visit you shortly with divorce papers. I suggest you sign it, unless you want to display your monstrosity to the world. In addition, all further communication with me, or my daughter shall occur through my lawyer.

 

May you rot in peace

Sheila

 

                                      She left the letter on the table and went in to wake her daughter up. After she’d sent her to wash herself up, Sheila started packing. They ate their breakfast in utter silence. She left the dirty dishes on the table and picked up her luggage. She had deliberately chosen to pack light. You could never foresee disasters, so she took only what she could not leave behind. She caught Akshara’s hand and took one last look at the house she hoped to never return. She left the door open partially. It gave some kind of devious and deep satisfaction to think how Rudra would feel when he saw the door open. And she could only imagine where he would vent his rage when he found out she wasn’t there.

                                         Akshara had not asked a single question on the way. Perhaps she knew her mother was up to something as Sheila was constantly looking over her shoulder. When they were alone or then they were lost in crowd. Sheila didn’t volunteer anything to her daughter either. She was occupied. Half worrying that Rudra would come looking for them, half feeling silly for  worrying. And as the time dragged ahead she started to see Rudra everywhere. Her anxiety was at peak while she was waiting in line for tickets. And she almost made a dash for it when she saw Rudra running towards her. Thankfully, it proved to be someone else. It was only after the train started moving and picked up considerable speed that she found herself relaxing a little bit. She gave a loving smile to her daughter and picked her up to give her a kiss.

“Were are we going mammy?” Akshara asked quietly

“We are going to your grandparents’ house. To my mother and father.”

“I have a grand father and a grand mother?”

“Yes honey.”

“And when will we come back?” She asked after sometime.

“Never.” Sheila said. Careful not to look too stern.

“What about school?”

“You can go to the same school I went. Its near by, and its beautiful.”

“Really!”

“You like that?”

“Yes.” 

Sheila hugged her close and kissed her. Relieved that Akshara was just a child. She would make new friends and move on. But not long before, Sheila knew missing her old school friends. But for now she was happy. For her part, Sheila knew facing her parents would be a tough task. But something in the back of her mind told her that the toughest had already been done. She had acknowledge her mistake to herself.

 

 

The Rot Within

I believe that we are capable of change. At least I hope so. There was a time when we believed that the Earth was flat! And that the sun and the stars revolved around it! But we find such notions strange now. We laugh at its ridiculousness. But it took a radical new idea, backed by concrete data to change such longstanding and ultimately ludicrous belief. Our sense of patriarchy and power has been threatened. The advent of the Internet and the consequent free flow of information has meant that change is happening around us in a blistering pace. A pace which the common man (man=man, not person) has failed to keep up with. The danger to their hitherto unquestioned superiority hangs on a precarious balance. While everything else around him is changing, he clings desperately to his old and more often than not Draconian beliefs. His need to assert this twisted sense of superiority frequently manifests itself to horrible, even monstrous consequences.

Such an incident, nay atrocity occurred last week in New Delhi. An act so horrible and sadist in nature, that to speak of which would cause any sane human being to vomit his entrails out. Yet speak we must. For the crime itself has become so common place that a colleague of mine asked me, “why are they protesting over this rape? I mean they happen every day, don’t they?” I shuddered inside in the realisation that he asked me exactly the same question that was in my mind but had not voiced it yet. How had we become like this? How did we let ourselves become like this? How did we start to take such crimes, whose victim is rendered mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, shattered, whose victim is a fellow human being deserving of equal, if not more respect from us, as an everyday occurrence. May be the criminal is all within us. We let that happen to her, and countless other women. Nay, I should say the criminal is within us. Our failure to address the trauma women faced in course of her everyday life is what caused the horrific rape, and the consequent death of the victim. Our willingness to accept the constant threat as something regular and every day, and hence unimportant is what caused for a young women to lose her life.

Which brings me back to my initial point. People are capable of change. May be her death was the ‘radical idea’ we all needed to kick us all out of our stupor. Call for stricter law, more police presence are understandable. But its all reactive and ultimately ill-advised. Law can be bent or broken, and nobody wants a Police state. Do you? Sure changes can be slow. But change can gain pace when the circumstances are right. The Second World War with all its faults did wonders with regard to women’s right. The same goes for black slaves in American Civil War. This is our war. Our chance to mobilise our belief and bring about the change that we want, which has been long overdue. Its our duty to Her and countless others who have been victims of our apathy. Our chance to prove that we care. Our sisters needs us. Now, more than ever.

SONGS FOR MY SOUL

So I’m home. The best thing about it (well off course other than the being home part) was that, everyone was there. The married ones with their better halves. The unmarried ones enjoying not having to go to college. Six days of festivities and playing cards. Joy! On top of it, the eldest brother had a collection of some 900 songs on him. Off course I had to copy them all. Boy! It did take a lot of hard work to sort them out. Let me tell you, having to listen to complete trash is easy. You can easily delete them. And the good ones directly gets saved. But what about the borderlines? Took me six days to sort them out. 157 out of 900 have survived. And its just the first cut. I’ll have to give a good listen to them once or twice over to fully decide.

There’s Queen, Maxi Priest, Scorpions, Saxon, Hot Chip. Frankly, other than Queens and Scorpions, I’d never heard of the others. Plus there’s smattering of other artists who have only one or two songs left back. I like to listen to new songs and new artists. But I’ve seldom outgrown the songs and artists that I’ve grown up listening to. My song collection is not sorted out in terms of genre, or artist or such other chronological methods. No. I keep my musics in one folder. A new folder for every year. The first one says “2009-2010” but it actually is a collection of all the songs that I’d collected from 2007. You get the drift. I’m currently on 2012-2013. If you look closely to the songs on them, you will get to see my gradual change of taste. Its a reflection of the change that came up on me. The songs that I listened to, in a particular year, the reason that I liked them in the first place, is in itself a tell on how I was.

I will dwell upon all those in another entry. For now, I have to listen to these songs. 🙂

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

On a good year, its remarkable that I get to meet two or three old friends of mine while I’m on leave(vacation for the uninitiated) I wonder how its gonna be this year. I mean this year has been a years of firsts for me. First time I’m going home for the second time in a year. First time so many of my friends has promised to come see me. First time I’ll visit Palzor Stadium to cheer for HOME team. In more ways than one, I’m quite looking forward to going home this year. Even though I don’t have as much cash on me as I would’ve wanted, I somehow feel this time around it will be better than the boring ones I’ve had to endure for the last six years.

In some way its weird, because, most people look forward to their vacation, and going home after a long hard year. But mine usually turn out to be a long drawn mundane exercise whose end I’m more than happy to see. But this time around I’m a little excited. There isn’t any dramatic change or a big reason for that. I suppose, changing my outlook helped a little. May be its a combination of small reasons that contributed to change everything. I guess I’ll find out when I reach there. For now I’m happy to feel the way I feel. And that’s ANTICIPATION! EXCITEMENT! 🙂