Monday, December 27, 2010

"My Life"

December Story-6


“And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the
truth—but that all is truth without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or am,
And sing and laugh and deny nothing.”

--Walt Whitman [Leaves of Grass]


“Life is not always what we expect. So it is not always different too. Because sometimes, even though we expect things to happen differently, nothing changes and everything follows the routine. And therefore, it falls within the limits of the attainable, to make life secured,” the girl said with a well-learned air. The young man looked at her, in her eyes, bluntly. The girl did not stop.“You must not waste your life idle in front of books within the closed doors of a library. Learning happens not in closets but in the vastness of nature. Be open that is what I want to tell you, be open and try to mingle with others. Take things lightly as much as possible. You always jump into things. Never.

“Be patient. Never do what your mind says. Follow your logic. You should be there for every one. You should not consider yourself the only one responsible for your actions, I mean that too is important, but you should not be individualistic. See, I am not criticizing you, but you should--”

“But I thought--” the young man intervened. He made a pause. “Shall I cut in?” he immediately asked excuse for his random intervention.

“What? What did you thought?” the girl gave him room.

“No…But, but…” He looked into her eyes again; unable to complete his sentence, as if it carried a deadly weapon that if went off could destroy the whole earth. Then he saw a carry-on node from the girl.

He said: “I thought…I mean…please don’t feel bad. I thought that…that it is my life!!” 

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Shepherd

"It is December, it is Christmas. Here is a Christmas gift for all my readers, a Christmas story. Happy reading."--Anu 

Once upon a time there lived a shepherd in a small village, where no one cared about shepherds. They were the poorest, the miserable, the illiterate and the hopeless. But Yaakov, the shepherd was different. He had a dream—a dream to meet angels. Like every one of us, he too didn’t know how and where the bud of this dream came to be rooted in his soul. And like every one of us, he too attempted to find out where and how, tried to recollect, this dream took its roots in his soul. Then he decided it might be far in his childhood. But that was just the way he explained it to his friends and fellow villagers. He was not at all sure. Perhaps, he had dreamed of angels when he was in his mother’s womb; a place where his memory failed to reach. Therefore, whatever he said was an imagination, something he attempted to justify himself for having dreamed such a terrible dream—to meet angels.

He woke up every day, thinking about his dream, his only hope in life and that gave him the enthusiasm to move on with the destitution. Every night, before closing his eyes, which he sometimes did in meadows distant from his village, grazing the sheep, he would think of the dream. And that never let the fear of loneliness or being attacked by the wild animals wander near him.

His friends and other villagers heard Yaakov speaking about the dream all the time. And as none of us now believe Yaakov’s dream may come true, his friends and villagers too did not. As a result, most of his friends kept a distance from him. But he accepted his destiny as a true shepherd does. He knew that every one will look up to him, care him, and respect him, after realizing his dream. His fellow villagers and neighbours too were embarrassed from Yaakov’s ‘madness’. For, them angels appearing to a shepherd was an absurd thought. One day, the village elders summoned Yaakov to the village court, which was a small assemblage under a tree.

There were only a few people there; some of the elders, Yaakov and his friends. No one else, probably, was interested in a shepherd’s case. The hearing began. Yaakov stood silent, as a shepherd was supposed to behave in front of the court. He had a lot of things to share, may be his imagination, but things that were required, he thought, to keep him away from being chained and dragged and closed in a room, and being titled as a mad man. But he stood patient, saying nothing. The hearing ended. The blames were proved. “You are blasphemous; a braggart who used angels to prove worthy of yourself,” one of the village elders said. He continued: “You are a culprit. And you should be punished. But considering your obedience to the court of the village, you are given an opportunity.”

Yaakov, who was calm, savouring his dreams in his mind as it was the only comfort he had in moments of despair, now brought back into the reality. He looked at the village elder, bewildered.

“We give you the time of ten days. Meet angels, or meet your destiny, a destiny that we decided—you should turn half the number of your sheep to the village court. And a failure in your commitment will prove to be your deportation outside the village, into the wilderness, forever.”—The village elder’s voice echoed in Yaakov’s ears. His friends cried and pleaded to the village elders, knowing well that their friend’s dream in nothing but a fiction.

Days passed by. Yaakov lived a normal life until the ninth day, because his dream demanded nothing else from him other than faith in it. He had enough faith and patience too. But Yaakov realized that the ninth day too was slipping away silently, witnessing no miracles, no angels.

And then the tenth day came. On that day, Yaakov and friends took their sheep to a meadow away from the village, so that they could think through the situation and help Yaakov find some way out from the predicament of the village elders’ punishment.

Day light drifted away and Yaakov’s friends were sure he was going to lose his sheep. They sat around in a circle by night and Yaakov’s friends discussed their different suggestions. But all this time Yaakov was silent, meditating behind his open eyelids the dream he savoured throughout his life.

They all fell asleep by the midnight. Yaakov did not know how long it took after he fell asleep when he heard a voice. It was a call. “Wake up.” He woke up. When he woke up, the shepherd could not trust his eyes. He shook his friends up. They all screamed seeing the sight, when they woke up.

There was a bright light, a luminous body standing in front of them. That was an angel. They looked around in confusion, mistaking he scene from a dream they were having. There were stars in the sky and it was night, still, but miraculously, every thing around them was bright with a light that neither gave out heat nor showed its path, where it was coming from. It was a glorious scene.

The angel spoke:  “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was written.

Yaakov’s eyes flooded up. His friends sat numb, bewildered, seeing their friend’s dream being fulfilled, directly with their own eyes.

That night changed not just their lives, but the life of the whole humanity. It became history. A shepherd trusted in his dream, and his friends loved him and they shared a part of the history. For if they hadn’t brought him to that meadow, one could hardly say whether the same events would happen. No dream could be detached from fulfillment, unless you lack faith in it.

[Parts from the Bible: Luke 2:8-14 from the New International Version, 2010.] 

 Merry Christmas,
Lots of Love,
Anu

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Memories

This is a true story.

I was in Jawaharlal Nehru Public Library, Kannur. It was a Friday evening. Time—almost 5.30. I had made the visit to the library a habit from that very week after I started scribbling down something that made me feel as writing my first novel. Writing that story something that, I felt, could extend into a book was highly delightful and relaxing.

After my daily classes where I was working as a lecturer, I would reach the library at around four in the evening, and engage in reading and writing until six. Then I would catch my bus home. For almost four days, these two hours of exclusive literary activity rejuvenated my soul that was decaying from the lack of time I was able to devote to any literary deed, sometimes due to my hectic schedules and at times due to the one step I could not take—daring to challenge time.

I challenged time this time and, I won—or that was what I thought, until I had my other experience in the Friday evening about which I began. I opened my note book and my pen rocketed with the instillation of ideas my mind supplied, although pace in a writing process does not contribute anything special to the product or producer. But pace gives a feeling of self satisfaction when thinking of the writing process later, cherishing the unhindered ease one enjoyed in the creative activity. This would be a helpful memory, especially when you are fighting your writer’s block; a memory which you can recall and savour. In some corner of your conscious awareness you can rejoice about the extraordinary zeal you were adorned with.

Someone tapped on my shoulder, the left one. But I could not find anyone, when I looked back. Who would that be—playing fun with me here? I looked back again and found a white clad man on my right. He was in full white—white shirt and white dhoti and white hair on his scalp and face.

His ugly face took a nefarious twitch. “I have been watching you writing something for a hell lot of time. What is it?”—he scowled.

He was the caretaker of the library. There were usually two caretakers excluding the librarian, both of them were old with white “uniforms”. The library was a two storey building with its book shelves situated in the ground floor. The ground floor was structured into three halls, one—a reading room for the public, where one can find news papers in English and in Malayalam, two—the vacant hall adjacent to it, where at times book exhibitions and sales and also some conferences take place, and three—the library with shelves of books. The top floor was a long empty hall which was used for book exhibitions and for conducting conferences.  

And this man, his eyes with scorn in them for me and for my art, said—“This place is not meant to writing. Only reading,”—he was murmuring and for sure, wanted me to hear it. It was like throwing one out of one’s comfy writing room: yes, it was, for me.

Jawaharlal Nehru Public Library, Kannur was the place where it all started—my serious pursuit of literature, the quest for the magic of words and writing. And I called it my second home.

The sun was curving in the horizon. The street outside was varnished with a grayish evening charm. But everything went dark around me, even though it was no time for the streets to bath in darkness. I sat there trying to gain back my thoughts, to balance the world of my creativity and the present one close t hand, tangible. I won’t prefer calling the present tangible situation ‘real’ as people do, for it creates a breach between the individual and the Attainable. Every individual is capable of changing the world around him or her according to his or her own inner tastes. But when this world outside is identified as ‘real’, it cancels the vastness of possibilities. Because usually, the word ‘real’ is equated with the word ‘truth’—for most of us, something ‘real’ is ‘true’ too, forgetting that reality is only one dimension of human existence and there could be other equally significant dimensions as well. But if what the man was trying to do was reality, then this very piece of my writing is a challenge to that ‘reality’, for he was trying to stop me from writing but I created an altogether new and different narrative, which is now in front of your eyes.

I quickly finished the remaining sentence and put my notebook back in my bag. But I did not want to leave that place all of a sudden, because that would prove my act to be out of cowardice or embarrassment caused by someone so unimportant like him. That would be giving undue importance to my ‘enemy’. Enemies who do not deserve one’s respect should not be given the impression that the bread of respect is shared with them, I reminded myself. So I decided to spend as much time as possible in that very place. I took Mario Puzo’s The dark Arena from my bag and started reading. But I could not concentrate. The book was unreadable that was true, but the reason was more than that. It was too hard being ousted from one’s second home. I sat there for fifteen more minutes which seemed five hours of waiting for my enemy not to feel too much undeserved pride.

Memories are precious. They must be kept close to heart since with each heart beat we can re-live every one of those moments—delightful smiles or heart breaking cries—so that every path in our present and future would be bright with the light from the past. I walked out from the library, knowing well that this would be a painful one among my December memories. 

December Story-4

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons in the Snow

"There is no season, no time, and no etiquette to tell a story"--Anu.

December Story-3
He had no doubts about what constitutes reality, Subedar Singh thought. In the part of the world which they were in—the three of them, the Lieutenant, the soldier and him—reality was the most unpredictable aspect of existence; slippery, shocking and horrible. The place they were in was the Himalayas, in one of the obscure mountains. There was snow every where. It was December and therefore more snowy. It was not the thick, white, blinding snow that constructs and coagulates reality here, the Subedar thought, but the red, sticky fluid that leaks from the bullet burnt skin-holes and spreads on the white serenity of the snow—blood.   

The three of them were standing at the Indo-Pak border area. It was then the Lieutenant told them a story. ‘There is no season, no time, and no etiquette to tell a story.’—the Subedar thought.

“Friends,”—the Lieutenant’s voice raised above the serenity, maligning it with echoes—“the story happened years back in one of the ancient monasteries in the lap of Himalaya. The monastery was situated in the valley. Though the guru in the monastery accommodated many students there, his love was specific towards two of them—Rithu and Pavan.

“The day came when Rithu and Pavan had to part from the monastery, as the period of their education under the guru was over. The guru summoned both of them. He had an offer. There still was a confusion, who would be the apt person for being bestowed with the offer?

"Both Rithu and Pavan were equally talented, though skilled in different areas. Pavan was a poet and Rithu was a fighter. The two students came in front of their teacher. The guru asked them a question: ‘Who would be ready to teach students in this monastery, for the rest of their future?’

"That was a great offer and that proved their extreme abilities. The question was plain, direct. It supplied a bright and enthusiastic gleam on the faces of both the students. But one of them, Pavan, suddenly seemed gloomy. He said: ‘Guru, respected master, I am sorry. I do not think myself to be capable of handling such a great responsibility of teaching students. I still feel myself to be a student. There are a lot more things for me to learn. How can I then be a teacher?’—the guru looked at his shoulders, which were sagging due to his deteriorated confidence.

“Then was the turn of Rithu. He said: ‘I am ready, Guru, my master. You are my teacher and I learnt whatever you taught me. If I doubt myself and my abilities, I doubt you. And I don’t.’—he squinted at Pavan, who was standing beside him with lowered eyes and a sad face, as a loser.

“Now, it was the time for the guru to speak up. ‘I choose Pavan’—he said.

“The two students stood aghast. ‘But…but…’—Pavan could not utter his expressions.

“Rithu’s face changed into an infuriated red. However, he immediately regained his composure.
“‘But why master? I thought I delivered the best answer for your question.’—There still was an underlying shiver in Rithu’s voice, a shiver from dejection.

“‘You are a good student, Rithu.’—The guru spoke—‘But, I want a good teacher. A good teacher is someone who can identify himself with the students; who feels that there is a lot more to learn than what is acquired. And Pavan knows what he doesn’t know.’

“And thus the guru chose his follower.”—the Lieutenant stopped.

 “Pavan knew what he did not know.”—the Subedar uttered, almost unconsciously.

The soldier who, until then was quietly looking at the two officers, broke his silence. “When we take something for granted, like Rithu, who trusted is master’s wisdom and his own capabilities blindly, we are forcing ourselves to the loser’s end; Am I correct saabji?”

The lieutenant smiled in relief that they learnt the lesson, which they have to follow in the coming days in those snow shrouded peaks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Poison

December Story-2
"Poison kills poison."--Anu
The old man’s eyes were on the young girl. She seemed in her early twenties. The girl was sitting in a corner of her room, on the floor, with her forehead covered with knees, alone. Her beautiful tresses, dark and shiny, were spread over her shoulder. She was crying silently.

‘My child, I know you are crying. And I know this too that the reason that made you cry has its roots in your soul, and you do not want any one else to see your bleeding soul.’—the old man thought. Suddenly, he felt his body weakening. He was over 70. The girl was his grand daughter. He wanted to move forward, console his grand child, but he felt his legs giving way. Turning away from the scene, he walked out to the verandah and deposited himself in a huge chair, which was the throne; the symbol of authority that he held over that large house, and big family, which no longer mattered. He was the head of the family; however, his two sons were the decision makers in that house.

Theirs was a joined family with five families living together; three sons of the old man and two daughters, with all their families. It was his greatest wish to see them all together, and to live with them until his death. He loved them all too dearly that he could not see even one of them be sad. And now, he wanted some support, seeing the little girl silently cry, at least that of the chair. Was his decision wrong to bring all his family together? Was this not in his concern that if someone in the family were in trouble the whole of the family would come to support?  

The little girl was in trouble and now and there was not a single member of the family near her on whose shoulders she can rest her heavy heart. She was a stranger in her own room; an alien within her own universe. That was a Christmas day and though, they never celebrated Christmas, as it was done in Christian homes (because they were Hindus) during this day, every year, a very pleasant feeling swept through their lives. And the old man was confused, why on such a day his grand child was sad, hurt in her soul. He always preferred his family to be in high spirits on that day. On this very day too, he wanted it to be the same way; happy, buoyant, loving. He decided to mend the broken harmony of happiness in the family, though he knew something was terribly wrong.   

Her father Aravind was at home. The old man regained his composure and approached Aravind.

“Aravind, my son, haven’t you noticed your daughter alone with herself, crying her sorrow on a happy occasion like this?”—the old man asked his son, father of the lonesome girl.

“Father, I had already seen her crying.”—Aravind was grave. “And I know the reason too. She was in love with someone. But that man betrayed her. He married someone else.”—Aravind stopped abruptly.

“But son, how can we leave her alone with herself? She needs our help in such a tumultuous time.”—the old man couldn’t grasp Aravind’s expressions.

“No, father, she is hurt by love. And those who are wounded in love are difficult to be healed. The wound gets infected and becomes a poison, which is most dangerous. There is only one way to undo this poison—to fill the heart with another powerful feeling, which is equally poisonous as hurt love.”

“What!”

“Loneliness. 
Loneliness, like love, spreads throughout one’s body and soul, and so it ousts every other emotional remains in one’s mind. It sucks you free out of every other emotional consciousness, and exalts itself. I know loneliness itself too is poisonous, but my daughter, now in this turn of her life, needs it to be cured from one of the most dangerous poisons—wounded love. Poison kills poison.”

The old man understood. He went around the room of his grand daughter. She was quiet now, sitting in her bed, not crying any more. But before her eyes met his, he turned away leaving her alone.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Dew Collector

December Story-1
One of my seasonal hobbies is strolling through the country side, exploring the nature, the people and their lives, during December. December helped this yearly endeavour in many ways. The weather, which in Kannur is usually hard during rainless time, in December gets a little mild and cold and the availability of time due to the one-week Christmas vacation after the schools and colleges close for holidays: a factor that is supported by the weather. I was a student of literature, who believed himself to be miraculously close to the identity of a writer.  

I remember reading somewhere that the basic quality of being a writer is to find a sense of wonder in the world around oneself. But, let me tell you my friend, it is very difficult, unless some wonderful encounter pushes you though a door—a door that exists every where but one that you would never notice to have the ability to take to the world of wonders.

One of such visits was through a village called ‘Nayattupara’ or ‘Hunting Rock’. There was a story behind this name, but that was not a December story. December stories should be sweet, mild, and affable. The story about the name of the village is gory, terrible and will scare us. What I am going to tell you here is a different story—a story about a wonderful encounter.

It was one hour almost, since I had started my yearly ‘karma’, my walk. I realized that I felt thirsty. I should have taken a bottle of fresh water and some snacks or some cooked tapioca and curry chicken—uhmm, a delicate combination. Hey, wait a minute, I thought of food, which simply meant I was hungry too.

It was a country side where there was not a single restaurant, good or bad. Hopeful to find, at least, some water, I knocked at a door. An old man opened the door. I presented myself and my need fairly well. The old man smiled; called someone by name—“Neeli.” An old woman came from a room that very much can go along with the guess—a kitchen. There were two chairs in the verandah of that moderate tile roofed house. The old man motioned me to one of the chairs with he occupying one. I thankfully accepted the offer and smiled at the peeping old woman. The floor was plastered with cow dung and it gave a very nice cooling effect.

“You come inside and sit here.”—the old woman said. The old man nodded in consent. And I went in. There I found a dining table with two chairs around it. The old couple seemed to be the only inhabitants of that house. And both of them though in their graying hair don’t seem beyond 65. I found a steel mug there on the table. I took it, thinking that I could use it for drinking water when the woman came back from the kitchen. There was some water remaining in it.  I was about to empty the mug, when I heard a shout—that was a scream—“No.” The old man was looking at me from the verandah with an expression I read as an extreme form of agony. He stood up, ran inside and snatched the mug from me. I felt somewhat guilty, as if I had broken something valuable and precious in that house though I could not really make out what the reason for the scream was.
Then the old woman came in and joined the bizarre moment. But by looking at the mug in the old man’s hands, as if realizing the intricacy of the moment, the old woman smiled sadly at me.

And then I heard a story that I had never imagined or came across, in my whole lifetime as a writer.

“This is the soul of my son.”—the old man said. His eyes started glowing. “He died in the Himalayas, serving the nation as a soldier. But no one could recover his body from the snow. His soul might have merged with the snow. We collect the dew drops early in the morning from the flower petals and grass blades, every day. We both believe that this dew is the soul of our son. Look we have collected half a bottle from the last one year. And thus the soul of our son always remains with us.”

I thanked them for the water of rejuvenation, both for my body and mind, and walked out inheriting an eye for seeing souls in dew drops.          

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Welcome December

December has approached us, with its chill and humid air in this part of the world, and its multi-dimensionalities against all odds, the entire humanity. December, for different people, for different cultures, conveys different meanings. But the most important aspect of December is immersed within the sweet word—Christmas. Well, things get sweeter with the New Year celebrations. I, certainly, am aware that you have opinions that occupy a drastically shifted space than the one explained here, or some times you are one who agrees with it as well. So I do not want to give you an impression that I am attempting an essay on Christmas and/or New Year Celebrations. 

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your Faith is. Here, in The Indian Commentator, you are in the celebration of reading. And in this month of December, I have something special for you, my reader. Although, I began the month with a couple of new poems, the celebration I intent is to be with stories. But why stories? There is a reason. I read the following story in Paulo Coelho’s blog some days back, which reminded me of the significance of telling stories. I am quoting that story with his permission here. You can read it below. 

            
The great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, when he saw that the people in his village were being mistreated, went into the forest, lit a holy fire, and said a special prayer, asking God to protect his people.
And God sent him a miracle.


Later, his disciple Maggid de Mezritch, following in his master’s footsteps, would go to the same part of the forest and say:
“Master of the Universe, I do not know how to light the holy fire, but I do know the special prayer; hear me, please!”
The miracle always came about.

A generation passed, and Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, when he saw the war approaching, went to the forest, saying:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor do I know the special prayer, but I still remember the place. Help us, Lord!”
And the Lord helped.


Fifty years later, Rabbi Israel de Rizhin, in his wheelchair, spoke to God:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor the prayer, and I can’t even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell this story, and hope God hears me.”
And telling the story was enough for the danger to pass.


And I will add:Tell your stories. Your neighbors may not understand you, but they will understand your soul. Stories are the last bridge left to allow different cultures to communicate among each other.

Courtesy: Paulo Coelho.

So let us spend this December with stories. The stories will start from the next post onwards. You can call them, December stories or if you don’t mind, Christmas stories, because the stories will be about December, and life in December. May, Jesus be with all of us. Happy reading!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Failure

"It is not necessary in a heart breaking cry, for everyone to see your tears."--Anu

Where my poetry failed,
And my silence devastated,
My tears won. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dreams-2

My blood is rain.
My body is the earth.
My soul is garden.
My feelings are dust.
My thoughts are shades.
My being is creation.
One thing still left:
My dreams—and I live in them.

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