Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Special Door

   May in this New Year each of us does not forget to leave behind stickers of memory, so that when your life is close to dullness and lack of memory a door opens, which takes you back, away from the labyrinth of confusion and uncontrollable splitting of selves, to the world and time which you cherish the best. 
           Hi readers, keep pondering over the resolutions you made the previous year, and making new ones. And while you get tired of thinking and in need of some refreshing thought, here is something special for all of you, published in another blog that I keep, Sidewalk. 
           "I woke up without a reeling head. Unusual; I thought. My gaze first fell upon the cell phone resting on the nearby chair that serves as my bed side table. A text message awaited me from a familiar number; after wishing a good morning back, I stared into the infinity of my closed room. Suddenly, something caught my attention there."

Read the rest here:http://open.salon.com/blog/side_walk/2011/12/31/the_sticker_day
Today's Readers: 179. 
There is a correction here; within a few hours after publishing this article today, the number of readers has risen to 311
This is the finale of  The Season of Celebration. The series ends here. Happy New Year once again, all. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goodbye Hello!


Mistakes were made; some deliberate, some unconscious, some in an effort to stand by the person who you are; grounds were held; in the expectation of a great profit, sometimes just for a feeling of security, and also to show others to what extent you can go to hold your ground; and promises were made; some were kept and some forgotten, whereas some of them you never bothered to think about; and we are here, alive, hopeful, enduring the worst but expecting the best.

The year past is nostalgia and the year to come is a dream. Reality is just this day before the tomorrow, the New Year. What is there to celebrate in it, except the sad fact that our reality only has a span of just this one moment! Can our desire to live on justify the splash of joy we experience at this moment? Our reality, this one moment that we all experience now and at present, is joyous because of our courage to dream about the next moment, our tomorrow, the future. Why can’t we do it all day and make every day a celebration?  

This overwhelming principle governs all our minds, and we exist in the induced oblivion about the now filling it with happiness, hope, and a sense of fulfillment about the times past, by dreaming about future, and coveting to live on. We unknowingly or knowingly believe in celebrations and celebrate each and every moment of our lives. This is something hardly need to be taught. But a mirror to look at ourselves is always good. And that mirror exists within each of you.

May all be well with us this coming year 2012! May we all be able to pray the right prayers, doing the right things at the right time; irrespective of how greater the hierarchy of temptations is.  

THE INDIAN COMMENTATOR WISHES ALL ITS READERS A VERY BLISSFUL NEW YEAR.
[Image courtesy: 123 Greetings and Google images] 
Today's Readers:97

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Evening in the Life of the City Barber



The barber’s assistant was new; a young man in his mid twenties. His hands were not in harmony with the scissors and knife yet.

“Don’t’ do it that way. Didn’t I tell you a thousand times, Ganesh?” the barber said furious as Ganesh, moved his scissors on the hairs of the officer from the kind’s court. The young man looked at the barber. “But Raman dada, I did it well; this is how you taught me.” He muttered with fearful eyes. His lips remained silent.

“What are you staring at?” Raman barked. Ganesh nodded with his body stooping at his master’s wrath, much for fear than respect, though it seemed rather an expression of the later. “Raman dada…” the young man tried to say something.
“Yes?” Raman asked indignantly. The sound of bullock carts rang in the street next to the shop. The city was full that day and the shops were doing good business. Because on that day was their king’s birthday.

“Nothing…I am trying to do it as you taught me…” Ganesh said.
“Oh, now you started passing your judgments at me uh? What do you mean I taught it this way? you…I will kill you if I lose my business with your stupidities…” The officer in the seat looked at Raman and then Ganesh, aghast. Even though Raman was raving at his employee, the officer was happy with the work of the young assistant. And the barber’s wrath was unnecessary.    

The young man’s face was pale from the insult heaped upon him by the nasty barber.

“What are you waiting for? You bugger!” screeched Raman. For a moment the young man stood still. Then he threw his scissors and knife on the floor with violent anger. He marched out of the barbershop, wordless.

For the barber, the British merchant and the Officer it felt like the sun melting down and the moon flown away by the fluttering of an eagle’s wings. It was like the most unlikely thing happened in the most unlikely of ways.

The day was receding into night. In the evening, the barbershop was visited by two messengers from the king. “You are asked to present yourself at the king’s court, now. Come with us.”

The barber had never before seen the king’s court and it seemed a place fit only for dreams. It was very much unreal, and it scared him, because he was there, wide awake, inside that dream. The court was full; with dancing and songs. As the messengers brought the barber, the music died down and the dancers teetered to each side. The throne glittered like a huge diamond, revealed in the middle at the far end of the court, and there on the throne was the king of Malabar.

“On this day, I have chosen someone special to be awarded for the generous lessons he gave my son. Here is Raman, the barber.” The king said.

The whole court rang with applause. The barber was flabbergasted. Some one entered the court from the grand entrance on one side. The court stood up. It was Ganesh, the barber saw it with a frightening stupor.

“Hail prince of Malabar!” The courtiers sang in one voice. The king stood up. There came on a platter, a heap of gold coins. Ganesh stood beside the king, smiling. The king said; “It was indeed, a great lesson. My son told me everything, Raman. You taught him what insult is and where is the limit at which one should draw lines to separate humiliation from insult. Take this small gift, as a token of appreciation.” And he gave Raman all the gold in the platter. The barber could not move his hands.

As the courtiers watched, his lips contorted, and his body sloped to one side, fell down. Emotional shock is like a ghost; a spirit, which finds curious ways to move in and out of human body. Sometimes they break into blood vessels and hide themselves in the skull, away from any physician’s observation.  

Today's Readers: 101

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Salt and Honey


“There are not many readers in your blog these days, are there?” some one commented. I didn’t say anything in return. Instead, I decided to quote this story here.

The people who live in the shores of Dharmadam say that each drop of water in the sea has a unique life. Each drop is special and has a destiny to fulfill. They use this story, to explain this principle to the younger generations.

“Once, a drop of water in the Arabian Sea dreamed of becoming honey. But it knew that upon the surface of the sea, which is full of salt, his dream would never be possible. So it decided to pray to God. The water drop rose to the surface, and swayed upon a wave, up and down. Even though, it appeared merged with the seawater and the thousands of drops surrounded it looked alike, many of the sea dwellers had found that there was something different with this drop.

“A shark came by and said to the drop: “Every water drop at one point in its life would be transformed into honey. It’s a natural process and no one waits for it. But no drop ever would have done what you are doing now; proclaiming your desire and to pray for it. I pity you.” And it took a deep dive and disappeared. The drop became sad. But there was someone who was constantly watching over the enthusiastic drop: the sun.

“As the sun saw the confidence of the drop sinking, it shone brighter and warmed the drop. The drop evaporated and reached the heavens. It became a cloud and traveled to the land. When the rain poured over a beautiful garden, the drop was caught by one of the flowers and transformed into honey.”

“This is how the younger generation of storytellers ends their tale. And they would say, the message of the story is perseverance,” said the man who told me this story. “But the real story doesn’t end then. The story has much more to say than just teaching the importance of perseverance.” He was an old man, well beyond his seventies.

“The drop of water transformed into honey. It was golden brown, sweet and delicate. Situated within the flower, it had even had fragrance. The drop started considering itself to be more prominent and started constructing rules for others rather than following its own destiny.

“‘No one must touch me,’ it said as the bees approached the flower for reaping honey. It even made a bad face to the bees. The sun saw this again, but this time didn’t do anything. Slowly, as the time passed, the flower started withering. One day it fell down, and found by the ants. When the ants came for the honey, the honey became infuriated, ‘The flower was weak and could not support me. That doesn’t mean I would come along with you. Go away,’ it said. And the ants went back. The sun saw this and didn’t do anything again.

Finally, one day the rain came back again, the same rain through which the drop made its transformation possible. But this time with the rainwater that formed streams upon the land, the honey was washed back to the sea. And soon it became yet another drop in the saline vastness.”

The old man then said, “Some would end their story here; especially those in their middle ages and say that life always goes back to the start and the sense of loss is permanent to life. But those who know the real story would not stop it here. They know that much of adventure is still to come and life is not a hopeless return to where we began, but a journey that appears cyclical, though each time we are taken to meet a different world, full of different possibilities.”

I looked at him disbelieving.

“Another day, the sun heard this pleading: ‘I made a mistake. I would not repeat it again. I was trying to be myself, a drop of the sea water, even when I was given the chance to be the sweet honey. I realized my mistake and would not repeat it. Forgive me please, and give me one more chance. This time I would feed the bees and wouldn’t insult the ants. I have learnt how to respect my transformation.’

“The sun looked down. It was the same drop. Gleaming and swaying back and forth upon the shoulder of a wave. The sun shone brighter and the heat became large.”
***
This is the lesson in blogging too, I believe. Over the course of this journey, I have met people, shared wisdom, learnt new things and humiliated for my own incapability. Success is like seasons. Life is a cycle of opportunities and chances to excel at each turn.

My special gratitude goes to the respectful old man who shared this beautiful and witty story with me and made one of my evenings memorable on the shores of Dharmadam, much close to the drops of the Arabian Sea.
Today's Readers: 118        

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Season of Festivals

“On this day we shut out Nothing!”—Charles Dickens    

To be surrounded by people who care about you is always a nice feeling, one of the ever charming feelings a human being remembers all through his lifetime. It is to light this gleaming dot, once again, in the mind of all of us; we celebrate, move close to each other and share the warmth of love and the smile of care. But what would we do when we are with solitude? Before the numbness of loneliness corrodes your joy, you must want to celebrate. You either create a reason to celebrate, or a wait for a festival to warm you up with nearness, laughter, and stories.

We are very close to the grandest celebration of the year: Christmas. Like every year, The Indian Commentator too is participating in the vibe of the time. There is hardly any difference between a festival and the smile that follows a story, much due to the unignorable relationship between festivals and stories. Every festival is preceded by a story, or it could be the other way round too.

It’s all the same all over the world, how we all enjoy, stories being told by some one around a fire at night. Therefore, this interconnection is not at all strange. Stories are inevitable part of festivals. It’s curious to think why we like stories; different sorts of them, some terrifying, some soothing, some sad, some joyous. The reason for liking stories might be the fun they give us, or it might be the sojourn they make us capable of taking in some far distant land of fairies or people, fighting their battles and living their lives, sometimes, or just the pleasure of looking into their worlds, without doing much, just as an observer.

But this is not all. There is one more reason why we all love to listen to tales, and if possible try to tell them ourselves. The reason is not much the aesthetic craving to indulge in the creation of a form of art. It is a different desire, a desire as old as the story of humanity itself: togetherness.   

I was feeling lonely; and so decided to celebrate the lack of numbers of readers in my blog, my loneliness. Though I know my readers always keep me in their hearts and are waiting for me just in the turn of the corner, I confess I miss you all.

There has been a situation in my blog when the number of readers visiting each day took a dip down from about 200 to 70s. The reason for this dip could be the less number of posts I made, which in turn owes to many of my professional worries and also the death of my grandmother. The loss in my life seems interconnected with the loss to my blog, and both these losses, I feel, will be compensated with the help of a Higher Authority.   

With the hope that once again we all, and a lot of new friends, will come together and sit around a fire and share our stories, I hear by announce The Season of Celebration. This Season of Celebration will continue until the New Year’s Eve. You bring some fire, you share some cakes, you sweets, you some milk, you some fruit juice, you sausages, and I will bring stories.

Today's Readers: 105   
[Image Courtesy: Google Images]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Plexus


There is always a new book awaiting. One I have just finished; The Box by Gunter Grass. I stand up from my office chair. Like all office chairs it’s comfortable in a profane sense. It always seduces me to sleep; makes me work one minute less than the time to finish. It loves me lazy. I hate it. But it stood by me this time, partially oaring me to an unknown island of sleep; flashes of faces, words spoken in English, a fairy tale divulged each time; and partially fixing me where I am, with the hard cover volume in my hand. I love the later part.

When my feet feel swollen, I stand up and contort my body once or twice, and then sit down, pushing forth my eyes on the white paper, only to find how familiar words dance to some mysterious tune to concoct the most fascinating potion of literary alchemy.

This time I stand up again; take a stroll around my chair in a ritual to warm up my legs. I finished the book, which I have been reading from the previous week. A thread sized stream of contentment oozes down into my mind. A smile spreads on my lips that takes a rightward move and settles on the right side for some time.

Another irritable pleasure I seek is to return this book at the library. I imagine my walk to library; contented, poised, with the same right corner smile. I may meet my students there, too. One inexplicable advantage of teaching profession; you get a tremendous amount of spare time. It is two in the afternoon, and I still have two and half hours left, which I can spend in the library. Thursdays are usually off days for me, due to some technical requirements, in order to balance the total hours of lecturing among other teachers: a whole day between me and my muse.    

My colleagues raise their weary glances up at me, while I pass their cabins as a traveler just back from his inter-continental mission, content.

The library is not as crowded as I expected. I see the librarian lady passing a curious glace at the stack of papers in my hand: a short story I downloaded from the internet. She hands over my library ticket, which I have to exchange with each book I take. But today I have no intention to take another book. The Box was a hard read. Words dancing, changing into voices and creating a mysterious alchemy.

The short story with me serves for another plan. It forms part of my creative writing practices. The story is by a writer who is new to my reading universe, so I am keen in observing him in action.

I am standing among the bookshelves now. I feel my legs need a real nice stretch. A stroll is needed, at least. So I take a round among the shelves, just dab my fingers over the covers of books, leaf through some and just move from shelf to shelf. The reason why I don’t want to take a book today is that I already have one at home; the biography of C. G. Jung, which seems to be a good one, though I haven’t started reading it yet. Some books create an impression upon us even before a page is turned.

Henry Miller: Plexus: the cover read. It was just a brown cover with the title in white with red bordering. I have been searching for any book by Henry Miller for a long time. Though, enough attempts were made I could not succeed. Somehow his books are not in many numbers in libraries; not even present in most of them, neither at book stores around in Kannur. May be the reason is their covers with pictures of naked women on most of them. That is why the cover of this edition catches my attention. It is a 1963 edition by Granada publishing company.

I take it in my hands, look at it and put it back from where it is taken. Promises have to be kept; I decided not to take a book today. I take it once again; turn the pages; they are yellow with time and the print is crammed. I put it back. Promises are promises, even if they are made to oneself. I am walking out of the library after 4.30, with a paper stack and a brown covered book. Plexus.

Sometimes it’s ok to take a chance if it’s worth it…I guess.    
[Image courtesy: Image 1, and 2: Google images]

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Drop of Love


A dewdrop found itself resting on the petal of a rose. That was the only memory of the drop. It was born there, separated from a cloud of fog and felt happy to be there.

There was something that lured the drop; a pull towards the heart of the flower since the petal was sloppy. The dew felt its destiny already marked out.

It said to the rose, “What would happen if I slid into your heart?”
The flower looked at the drop. There was a peculiar grace to the dewdrop. And the sun was sharing its gleam with the crystal soul of the drop. The flower fell in love with the dewdrop all at once. “I will…” the flower blushed, “I will receive you into my soul and transform you into honey.”  

The dewdrop could not decide what to choose. The company of the flower was mesmerizing. Its fragrance was unique. But what it said was dubious. It said it will transform the dewdrop into honey. ‘What is honey?’ The dewdrop thought. ‘Would it mean I have to disappear? Whom shall I ask?’  

Then, as if the thought of the dewdrop came to life, a sweet little humming was heard. The flower and the plant danced with slight tremor. The drop did not see anyone. But there came a question, “Who are you looking for?”

“Who are you?” The dewdrop asked. It was a surprise that still there was no one in sight.
“I am the breeze,” said the voice, still invisible.
“Why are you invisible?” asked the drop.
“This is how I am, if you are born with your guileless soul, I am born with the cloak of invisibility.”
“Can you help me?” asked the dewdrop.  
“Sure, tell me how.”
“What shall I do? The flower asked me to come inside her bosom, and she would transform me into honey. I do not know what to do. Do I have another choice? If I go out of the petal, I will fall down into hell,” the voice of the dewdrop was sad when it said this.

There was silence for the next moment. Then the breeze said, “Down below, there is the earth, not hell. However, you have another choice; you can contemplate the sun and when its rays are powerful enough they will lift you up to the heavens and take you back to the place where you were born.”

“Am I not born here?” the drop asked.
“No, you are taken here, from the sky. The sky is your birthplace.”
“Then I do not want to go back,” said the dewdrop, “I want to live and experience the most beautiful thing in life. How can I do it, breeze? Can you guide me please?” When it said it, the dewdrop’s soul took a ray from the sun and reflected it in a thousand colours.

“The flower is in love with you and is ready to transform you into the sweetest thing within its heart; how foolish you are not to realize it,” whispered the breeze, which the dewdrop could not hear. “How easy it is for someone to ignore the transforming power of love.”

“I will help you,” said the breeze.
The dewdrop felt the tremor once again, this time much powerful; and it felt itself gliding down slowly. Before the next moment, the dewdrop embraced the heart of the flower. There was a trail of chill left on the petal. The flower smiled at the dewdrop and the dewdrop felt happy for the touch of love. It didn’t ask anything else, for by then it new everything to be known. 

[Image Courtesy-all three images: Google Images]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Poetry


If what you know leads you to the unknown,
What you know is poetry.
If what you experienced takes you beyond-
Your expectations,
You have experienced poetry.
If the words on a paper makes you wonder,
How you wrote it,
You have written poetry. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Shooting Star

It is said that those who die, become a star in the sky. This story is dedicated to that star who told me several wonderful stories, and enlightened my mind; my grand mother. May her soul rest in peace.         
Anna, my grand mother. She passed away on 26-11-2011
“Silence is the language of the cosmos. From the smallest stone to the sun itself, they all communicate through silence, greatly rich with meaning and deep, very deep. In order to understand it, we need to have a special mind. You have it, don’t you?” A pair of eyes, surrounded by numerous wrinkles, slowly connected themselves with the boy’s.

He was silent for the next half of a minute. Yet another story! Why do old people tell so many stories? How do they remember a great many of these details? And how on earth does she know about the language of the cosmos? He thought.

“I don’t know,” He answered.

“Yes, you know. You are like that small stone that wandered all around the cosmos to find an answer to what puzzled him for a long time,” the grand mother said.

“What stone? A meteorite?” The boy looked up at her; the old face smiled with the creases of old age forming an art work of smile, with least effort.

“Yes,” She said. “The stone was wandering in the universe, asking for an answer. It wanted to know how to make others happy.” Then there was a pause. There was something that the old woman wanted to read from the face of the young boy. But the boy looked away.

“The little stone, met the Saturn. Saturn offered the stone a place in his colorful and vast belt of stones. But the stone wanted an answer. How to make others happy? Then it saw a gas planet. But the gas planet offered the stone a passage through it and said something the stone could not understand. Remember, silence is the language of the cosmos, and therefore no one can evade an answer. Something has to be told, something you will listen. That deep is silence.” She paused. The boy was now looking at her as if bewildered at the magical depth of silence.

Image Courtesy: Google
The old woman continued, “the little stone met many planets, stars—hot and cold, but could not find an answer that made sense to it, and then it crossed Mars. ‘It’s futile to try to make others happy,’ the silence of Mars said. ‘Live your life with whatever you come across and make the best use of every opportunity to live your life.’ The message was great and the stone moved on.”

“—was that the answer it was looking for?” The boy intervened; with his eyes full of the same quest that of the meteorite.

“On its path to circle the sun, the stone then visited the Moon. And by that time the stone had grown wiser from meeting many planets, stars and clouds, and learning from them. It said to the Moon, ‘I know it’s impossible to make others happy, and I must live my life making use of the best of opportunities. However, this is the ultimate end that I see to my life; making others happy. This is the only thing I want to do. How can I do it?’

“The Moon smiled, spreading its golden rays around and said, ‘you are already doing it.’ The stone was confused at the reply of the Moon. It asked, ‘what do you say? I don’t understand.’ The Moon, seeing the confusion on the face of the stone, smiled again as if playfully teasing the stone. The stone’s face grew darker. ‘Don’t worry. You will see what I mean. Go to the Earth and ask her,’ the Moon said.”

“What was that the Moon said, Granny?” The boy asked.
The grand mother’s eyes gleamed. She resumed, “The stone approached the Earth. Before it could ask anything, there was something that took the attention of the stone; a bright line of gold upon the surface of the sea. It was the most beautiful sign the stone had ever seen. ‘What is that?’ the stone wondered. Then it found something else too; the creatures on the planet, humans and animals, all are waving up at him, smiling, praying, wishing, and happy. The sea was reflecting the shining air that the stone carried with it, its own golden tail wisdom. ‘You are already making everyone happy,’ the Moon’s silence echoed through the air.

“The stone was happy because it received the answer it had been searching for. Then the stone became a shooting star and shined down to meet the earth and disappeared in the air, leaving a tail of happiness forever.” The grand mother finished her story and looked at the boy. He was asleep, dreaming, perhaps searching for those shooting stars that wander in search of how to make others happy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir-VI

VI
When you are alone and feel like holding on to something, you’d better look for yourself. I was alone there, then, at the bus shelter.

Yet, I was visible and present. For me, being present meant something else too, other than just breathing, eating talking with people and writing exams: painting. I found myself in that pale and lonely night doing graffiti on the wall of the bus shelter.

The following morning brought some admirers with its first light for the graffiti; the picture of a man standing in front of a dark box within a pale background. For the ones who looked more closely there was a surprise too. Within the dark box, there was a pair of secret eyes, addressing directly at the admirers, leaving the observers with a horrible sense of vulnerability. But no, no artist is sure of what he had achieved with his work of art. His success is that single moment when he realizes his finished work. But I was sure of one thing; my father would come to the bus shelter for getting his bus to Kannur.

I left the shelter at nine in the morning, just one hour before the time my father would arrive at the bus shelter. And by the time I had earned about 50 rupees from the contributions made by the admirers of my graffiti work. Most of them were curious to see what the young man in their neighbourhood had done. For the villagers, I was not an artist, not the man with colours, but just a jobless young man, who now had done something curious on the wall of the public bus shelter. I was no way close to the real “I” in their eyes. Sometimes, strangely, what one becomes in life is inextricable from what others think of one, especially parents. Taking up this theory, the absence of the “I” was justified.

After spending the rest of the day in Kannur beach, in the evening I went to my usual road side tea shop. There I met the writer, who was there the day before yesterday as well. What I felt different about this person (in whose blog now you read these words), was his eye for wisdom.

“Writing is part inspiration and part memory,” the writer said. “The memory of a distant self that one believes once he was. But in my case, that self is a vague word, an apparition which at once scares me and fills me with hopelessness. There is no time in my life any more. The more I worry about making a living, the more time slips away leaving myself strayed from the path I wanted to walk; writing.”

He seemed wanting to talk about something that worried his life. Perhaps he was looking for a companion to share his problems. I was not sure if this was the same thought that went through his mind. However, it was the same I thought of doing then. But something stopped me at first in sharing my story with the writer. I always felt that in order to share something, I must first take care of the proud emotional self. That proud self might find it degrading me sharing something. It's always concerned if I could go vulnerable once I shared something crucial. I could not tell him what I am, jobless, since it unravels the wounds of the proud emotional self. So I lied. “I am an art teacher, at the Art College, in Kannur. I do it for money, for sustaining my life. Being an artist and art teacher are different things, entirely.”

I was, I thought.

“Nobody knows what I feel in my mind. Perhaps you would know, because you are an artist, too.” I said.

He seemed lost in thoughts for sometime. Then he said something that I could not make out. But one word caught my attention: “Write.” It was an imperative. A sense of happiness came over me, euphoria. Sometimes what we feel is like how we deal with seasons. We live through every season, have been aware of all the measures that should be taken during each season and know what should be sowed and reaped in each season. But each time, each season leaves us bewildered, with its unpredictability.


Pacha’s memoir concludes here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

(Contd.) Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir


V
“Prakash Pacha is dead!”
“Artist Pacha passed away.”
I visualized these headlines in my mind. One was more proximate, the first headline. The second seemed much far away; the artist, which I could never be.

Though the visualization itself had no material grounding and just a hypothetical exercise in order to find an answer to a question that never existed, the process of imagining these titles gave me some sort of satisfaction. Peace. But then an acute sense of tragedy overwhelmed me. I was the tragedy. If I die now, my death would be a suicide. And suicides would be reported as ‘suicides’ not “death” or “passed away”, moreover, which news paper would cover my death. I was nothing, which I still am, for that matter. The sense of this tragic nothingness pushed me even harder than my genitor.

“What are you saying? Are you hoping God would help you? Then spread your hands and wait; let me see who would come to help you.”
My ears never rang, but that day.

My self had been divided into two; logical and emotional. My mind had reached the end of a monotonous indifference. For no specific reason, I felt slightly uplifted. I felt a delicate smile trailing through the right end of my lips, the euphoria of a warrior running towards his enemy soldier to kill or get killed. My logic had been forcing me to go back home. It showed me the fear of the wall my absence could build inside my family. It made me think about the lack of any sleeping space, and free food in the future; being an outcast sounded luxury. I trusted none of my friends to come for my help in hard time. Not because I was unfaithful to them or they are not good people, but they had their own problems to deal with and life had its own betrayal games to play with them.

No. I do not blame any of my dear and near. I love my family. I love all of them. I am the culprit. I could not face them. I realized I was slipping into a dark dungeon. My smile had vanished. The pale light seemed to diminish. I sat down on the concrete slab in the shelter. It was my emotional self, reminding me of another sort of loss, a loss that I could never be able to fill; the loss of love. My beloved ones are abandoning me because I pursued a path that was deemed impossible. I saw in the dim light the distant shape of a temple. I closed my eyes and prayed. I apologized, to a God that was darkness in the pale street light, for what I had done to my family. We sometimes say sorry and hardly mean it. That was one of such moments in my life.   

I got off the bus that dropped me close to my home, in the local bus station. The rest of the distance home should be walked. But my feet stood still. There was a bus shelter nearby. I went in.

There were very few people in the bus station, as it was half past nine at night. I wanted to hold on to someone or something. I wanted to be looked at by some empathetic eye. And I found a pair of eyes at the shelter looking unfriendly at the new arrival in the limited space. Perhaps it was a beggar. I could not see in the dim light inside the shelter.

Being an artist and an art work oneself are two different things. The latter is more threatening. I felt one at that time; the portrait of a confused young man, inside a dark cubbyhole, the bus shelter, with a pale background. It was the street bulb. I was ever more visible in that picture than at any other point in time. It was confusing too. I was alone, but with a beggar who is just a patch in the darkness of the portrait. But still I was visible more than being with all those who belonged in my family, those streaks of brilliant colours.

I thought of my painting at home about the “Impossible Flight”. The pigeon that took the flight had the form of an eagle. A pigeon transformed into an eagle. “When you follow something no one else believed worth following, you will undergo tremendous transformation.” John Varghese had said.

The pale colour was also the colour of uncertainty, or that was how I fixed it in my mind. There was no such accepted notion I hear anywhere which defined the colour between yellow and white as the colour of uncertainty. It was my decision, my choice. It is ridiculous how we all cling to our obstinacy to live on when the ground below our feet skips away mercilessly. Perhaps it is life that makes us adamant. Life is a teacher that teaches thorough a series of betrayals.

John Varghese had said something else too. What Varghese said did not fit proper with any of my divided selves. It was altogether a different situation. “Transformation means resurrection too,” John Varghese had said.

So I chose.
I decided not to go back home.
{Will be continued in the next post}

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Live from London: Book Review

The essential ingredients for writing a best selling chick lit are: a feisty protagonist, some personality quirks that would essentially land her into troubles, her misadventures, and as the final nail, an exotic setting. In Live from London, you find nothing.

In this grossly irritating Indian English misadventure, the writer has pathetically failed to strike any cords with the readers. Parinda Joshi sets her story--I mean if we can presume what is described in the book a story-- in London. The novel lacks a well structured plot, good characters, fine dialogues, events that show some sort of connection with each other and anything else that can be worthy of pursuing in the process of reading a novel.

This is not due to my frustration of wasting time reading this worthless crap of a book, but rather a sort of brotherly and friendly warning to all those who decide to spend a couple of hundreds to buy this book from market and investing their precious time reading. The book costs Rs 195. And the only worth paragraph that strikes you could be seen in page number 131. The second paragraph; which goes like this: “I was devastated, I lay crying on my couch all evening. I could feel the flames from the fireplace swallowing me. Every tear brought back memories; his smile, his touch and his promises. My favourite poster of him that used to be the highlight of my desk at work was now hanging on my celery green wall. I continued to stare at it with numerous silent questions in my eyes and he looked back at me from that poster, his eyes still piercing, not saying a thing.”

The reason why I quoted the whole paragraph here is simple; it is an unwritten rule that in order to write a good book review, one should address the positive sides of the book rather than just ranting at the negatives. Here, I found myself in a predicament. The situation I was in held multisided impacts. One was the time I spent with this book. That I never am going to get back. The second concern was the positive side; there was none worth mentioning. Then this paragraph came to me like a soothing breeze. Indeed, that is the metaphor I must use for this paragraph. In the eerie sterility of the novel, this paragraph stands out with its touch of melancholy and consistency in its feel and basic idea, something that you should not expect in Live from London, a soothing breeze.   

Scenes move from paragraph to paragraph giving no hint at where and when what had happened. The novel opens with the protagonist’s failure in Britain’s Got Talent reality show. She then lands up as an intern in a music label company. There she gets into a relationship with Nick Navjot Chapman, a young Indo-Canadian singer. Due to some misunderstandings and also due to couple of other reasons Nishi Gupta, the protagonist returns to India. She starts a new career as an anchor in one of India’s biggest reality shows. Wow! I summarized the novel quite well. But do not expect half the fun if you actually intend to read the book.

The guitar that is shown in the cover page too has no crucial role in the story. Nishi plays it in the Britain’s Got Talent show and miserably fails, and at intervals the author tries to make it a point to tell us that Nishi is a guitarist, as if saying Lord Voldemort has his powers hidden in his wand.

This book reminded me of some of the best chick lits I have ever read: The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, but only to feel lost and disappointed. 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir (Contd.)


IV
Painting: "Contemplation"By Kramskoy
Suggested by: Sarath Krishnan
I always disliked spiritual talk. Reading self-help books and philosophizing life were worst in my hate list. I hated writers like Paulo Coelho and all his sort of spiritual journeys. I had never dared to face the spirit, in fact. I knew my friend John Varghese had embarked upon a journey that would inevitably invite me to one of those maddening fancies that appear in all those books that many read, and say changed their lives. For me life had been unchangeable.

Then he said something that irritated me to hell and I was right about him too. There he was, telling me a story.

“Once upon a time,” he started; “In a small country, there lived a young girl. One day she read a book and liked it. She liked it so much that she decided to meet the author who lived in another city in the same nation. She met the writer and asked him if she can help him sell his books in other languages, as well.  

“She moved in to the city where the author lived, with her boy friend, leaving behind her studies in chemical engineering.

“She approached many publishers with the book. But not a single publisher was ready to go through the book, not a single stone had been turned.

“One day the author came to meet the girl. She was making a living by doing the work of a waitress and distributing pamphlets. At a café nearby, they both sat down and talked. The author was not at all hopeful about the success of his book, and he felt bad seeing how the girl was suffering for something impossible. He urged her to go back to her city and continue her studies, and not spoil her career for a dream that seemed almost impossible.” He stopped abruptly and looked at me in my eyes. I saw his eyes surveying mine. I saw his lips too. I knew they haven’t finished yet.

“But she knew she was taking the path her heart wanted to, just like you.” He picked it up again, with a voice that felt very dramatic then.

“After six months, the author came to see her. This time they met in the apartment she recently bought. Now she owned a car too. The book she was trying to sell the publishers became a huge success and was phenomenon in the publishing industry.

“That book was The Alchemist, author, Paulo Coelho and the girl, his literary agent Monica.”

He might have read it somewhere. He was not a writer after all. His creativity had no such charm to cook such a story all of a sudden from nowhere.

I said good bye abruptly and walked away, as if I can pay back the internal humiliation caused by my father that way. I was taking it out to Varghese. I had this thought then that he would understand, it’s my deeply wounded heart that made me behave that peculiar way. We trust upon our intuitions even if there is no guarantee they would be true; and think people can understand what we feel as if the screams of our wounded mind is in some audible frequency. I could not get another chance to meet Varghese, because all these days after that encounter I had been in a search for a route to find myself from what seemed an endless maze of confusing theories of ‘being what I am’.    

I spent the whole day in Kannur beach. Nothing productive happened. I was just beside myself. Then the sun went down. And darkness brought a whole new situation to the forefront. It was not where I would go; as my father had thrown me out of my house; but it was how tall would be the wall my absence could build inside my family.  
{Will be continued in the next post}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir-III


My father decided it; I, his invisible son, will write the bank test.

He bought the application, paid the fee and asked me to attend for a coaching class that prepares candidates for the test for bank clerks. It just happened so, as if I never existed, not the ‘I’ my father’s psychopathic mind could see now, but the ‘I’ who is an artist, who is always a vaguely reflective crystal surface in front of him.  

I found no reason why I should tell him I could spend my time and money in a better way somewhere else. I was invisible. My voice would only seem wind-howls which meant nothing.

It was quiet on the day, my mind. It had stopped communicating with me. I was in my room looking blankly at my new painting which I titled the “Impossible Flight”, where I depicted a pigeon flying with a jet airplane. The impossible pace the pigeon took in the picture had given it a look that was close to an eagle. It was a pigeon transformed into an eagle.

“It’s time to go. Are you not dressed up yet?” Father asked. He was talking about the coaching class. As if the coaching class is absolutely normal. It is never close to normal for someone like me, but unfortunately that ‘me’ did not exist at that scene. “No. I am not coming.” Out of nowhere, as if the sun shows its diamond ring in its sudden lurch after a solar eclipse, the artist “I” jumped out of his hiding.

“What are you saying? Are you hoping God would help you? Then spread your hands and wait; let me see who would to help you.” He said all at a stretch as if he knew this moment in the past itself and rehearsed it well to suit it. I did not believe in God; because I couldn’t believe something I could not see in colour and texture. I thought it that way.  

I am progressive. There is no guarantee in a progressive person’s life when and where one becomes his enemy, like what happened that day with my father.

Just then he gave me a push. I went flying out of the door to the verandah, feeling something heavy in my heart. The weight in my heart might be due to the shock of the sudden push. However, Instead of thinking about father’s behaviour a movie came to my mind. I could not recollect its name, but I remembered its characters, all of them having special abilities, some pushing others away without even touching them!

There must not be any mention of my father or family when I talk with anyone about the whole issue. I had decided it prior to meeting John Varghese, one of my friends, a spiritual teacher and the proprietor of Maruthi automobiles Mechanical Showroom, Kannur section.

Without asking much questions, he said: “I understand your situation. Something similar had happened with me too. But that was long back when I was about to take huge decisions in my life, when I was a youngster. Now I am 50, but even now the thought of those days fills me with self-respect. I dared to follow something no one else believed worth following. You are doing the same.”
{Will be continued in the next post}

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir

II
Beautiful days are like books, they smell good. It was a perfect day. After skipping the exam, I wandered around the city and got inspired. I did not attempt another Eligibility Test till this day, due to the sheer aversion to the process of testing one’s abilities with respect to someone else’s standards. It’s for a teacher, not for an artist. But how can a teacher teach art if he or she knows art in terms of its history alone?

As all contracts end, my contract with the private institution too ended one day. And a state came upon me, which is generally not very comfortable for parents; called joblessness. I remained jobless for the next four months until the local university needed an art teacher and my ill luck decided to favour me. Teaching in the university offered a new set of artistically stimulating period in my life. And like all artistically stimulating experiences this too was an ordeal. Ask any artist, the best of one’s works would be the product of the worst days of his life. Inspiration is mostly like lotus. Its roots lie in dirt.

Joblessness of their children endows parents with a sense of urgency. The time spent in jobless state is directly proportional to the degree of this urgency. This is a psychological state in which parents lose sight of their children physically and mentally. Children become invisible and their being becomes an alien equation to be sorted out. And they make impractical and illogical plans for their offspring who they can’t see or feel any more. Instead of the golden principle which dominated the family dinner-table, “there is a limit to the happiness money can buy”, money becomes the only matter of talk and the only idea worth living for.  

And in one the days of this specific psychic disorder my father decided that I should apply for the job of a clerk in a bank. 

{Will be continued in the next post}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Artist’s Memoir

Writing memoir is like talking to oneself with frequency that is impossible for anyone else to decode. People might read but will see only words and stories, their meanings hidden deep behind somewhere in the chasm of the writer’s soul. A memoir is like a painting. Behind the bright and dull, there exists a world which only the blessed ones can occupy. Below is the memoir by my artist friend Prakash Pacha. He shared it with me after my incessant requests ever since I came to know he had dared to write, partly to satisfy my sense of superiority through judging the work, and partly due to my curiosity. It’s a long one for my blog, to be included in a single post. So I am dividing it into parts, hoping my friend Pacha would not mind. 
 Aiming the Impossible
I
I never tried this; writing. I feel insecure. This is not my thing. It is after the advice of my writer friend, that I am trying this. I had been teaching at a private art institute in Kannur, after my post graduation in Fine Arts.

Then came a moment when the so-called National Eligibility Test conducted by the University Grants Commission became the only criteria for teaching jobs in colleges. At this point in my life when I must find a job of my own and be independent from my family that still provides me, the Eligibility Test showed itself as a monster with chuffed perfection. In front of it I found my self inferior and helpless. To qualify the Test meant to do things the best way as they say. But I believe in doing things the best way I want. I am an artist for whom art is religion, and creativity God. Each moment spent at work is worship.

The test is special. Once you qualify, you are a part of the NET qualified teachers’ community. There will be questions in the exam that have nothing to do with art or creativity. The Answering in the test involves processes such as darkening the bubbles—the objective test—and a written test, where you are asked to write essays on what a specific art movement’s name means. I am artist, not an art historian. It thus eventually sucks all the creativity from your soul and leaves you dead.

The application was sent, the fee was paid and all the travel expenses were taken care of, by my family. The day of the exams came.

I had to go

It was in the examination hall I thought; if I wanted to sit for the whole day or not. The choice was mine. Sitting there for the whole day meant spending a day in front of a set of meaningless question papers prepared by university blockheads who have no idea what the word ‘art’ means, other than what their dusty old tomes told them.

So I rose and went out. 

{Will be continued in the next post}

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sojourn


I like to start writing a new story each day; stories without endings, stories that are born out of a sudden whim and carried forward with obsessive spontaneity. I am just like any other writer, a naive creation of God, who believes words can cure him of his solitude, when every one else around him has lost their trust on words. But his hope is miraculous, because it never tires of its mission. It urges him to write, to spend time with words—polishing them, practicing his skills, pruning his diligence to perfection, looking failure in the eyes, succeeding, dreaming—and disregard his family’s advices to look for a job with a permanent financial source.

But as most of the writers who are part of the struggling community, who are not yet blessed with the gaze of the publishing industry, it is difficult for me, even now, to write about my dwindling financial situation, my struggle for a life. Perhaps I could write a story, search for a solution to this situation or just try to create an altered reality through the power of words that could protect my being form deteriorating from the struggle for livelihood. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. At this point words, become formless sounds, and thoughts run out of paper and jump out of the terra firma and fly in the air, forcing us to find someone to share them with. The fear of wasting words is the worst kind of it, only a writer knows.

Prakash Pacha was someone I found in Kannur, with the above mentioned intention. Well, to be frank, the intention was considered later. The finding had taken place in a small tea shop near the Old Bus stand. He was drinking tea sitting on the only bench available. When I came in he moved in order to make space for me, but in this attempt he spilled some tea on my jeans. I looked at him in the eyes. His face, which was calm a moment before, changed defensive and this, provoked me further. But considering the risks of entering into a brawl with a stranger in a city which is famous for its thugs and communists, I immediately put on my mask of indifference and steered my gaze away from him.

Then I noticed something under the bench near his legs. It was a framed picture and a hand bag with painting brushes peeping out of its mouth. An artist! “Are you an artist?” I asked, unable to find the time to hide my facial expressions suggesting my relief to find someone with a destiny which is as naive as mine. “Yes” he answered with a cool air, as if I am just another of his fans, when in fact I had never seen his art works, and would never perhaps see them either. I was only interested in the fact that he was an artist, just to share a fellow feeling, the presence of someone with whom I can effectively share those words that took the eloping flight from their comfort zones.

Then he told me his name, extending his hand. Prakash Pacha, Pacha being his brush name, meaning green, in Malayalam, his favourite colour. One thing is sure we can never be friends, I thought. I cannot differentiate between green and blue. I can see green, but for me it appears very much an uncertain variety of blue. “It’s nice to meet you, a writer.” He said as his parting words. I smiled and kept that smile for as long as possible allowing no word to escape this time, thinking he was not the right one for sharing those flying words of worldly agony. But the very next day we met again, in the same shop. And this time there was something different. Pacha was warm. He asked me about my favourite authors and books. And though we parted soon that day, we promised to meet each other at the same place the next day, at the same time. And I could see the tea shop owner, sealing off our pact with his smile, in the prospect of two potential customers. And I was happy too, for there was a companion who is from the art world, and perhaps in similar life situations as mine.

“I am an art teacher, in the Art College, in Kannur. I do it for money, for sustaining my life. Being an artist and art teacher are different things, entirely.” He said on our next meeting. So here he was, sharing his life story with me, just the way I thought it, and it surprised me how his story resembled mine. And this is one of the reasons for certain deft generalizations I undertook in the first paragraph. I could be wrong in my conclusions. I am very well aware of the fact that best learning is the learning from within, but due to his essential temperaments, the layman always goes for the outside knowledge, what others say.

“Nobody knows what I feel in my mind. Perhaps you would know, because you are an artist, too.” He said in our fifth meeting. “I don’t know what to do. Yesterday I thought of suicide.”

Instead of occupying the position of weakling, and being consoled, I found myself aghast in front of Pacha, as his resort, thinking how I could suggest help to this naïve sibling of the art mother.

“As you once said, being an artist and an art teacher are different experiences, being a writer and a painter, too are different states of being. But still, this is what I do when I am down: I write whatever I feel.” I lied. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. At this point words, become formless sounds, and thoughts run out of paper and jump out of the terra firma and fly in the air, forcing us to find someone to share them with. This was the very intention I placed as the reason for the daily meetings with Pacha. But now, finding no other solution to help him in his problems, I suggested writing.  

Even though, we promised to meet tomorrow, I could not find him the next day. The tea shop owner too confirmed not seeing him that day. For another one week he was absent without any news and allowing me no guesses. The struggle for a life extracts all our attention, and leaves us blind, deaf, dumb and senseless. The writer, the artist, the musician vanishes, without even the charity of a proper cremation. Perhaps he was disillusioned from my friendship. He might have tested my solution and miserably failed.  

I met him again, but after four weeks. “I tried what you suggested.” Pacha said. “It was miraculous. I found peace with myself and the world. I was trying to dedicate as much time as possible to write. I almost wrote a memoir.”

Sometimes, a peculiar feeling follows certain revelations, a feeling that verges jealousy. Perhaps writing is like the taste of honey sucked from flowers in a garden, each taste differently. Perhaps this too is a revelation that even a painter can do what sometimes a writer can’t achieve, with words.
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