Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The One Exception to Secret Agenda

I have a secret agenda for 2014. Revealing the agenda is not my agenda here, now. However, I am making an exception to this one idea. You are about to read it.
 
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After a pause of about three to four months of daily blog posts in The Indian Commentator, the thought rooted in my mind that I would definitely try to make my blog, once again, a 'daily' publishing space. This was not due to any pressure from readers to ‘either write or quit’. My readers have graced me with their presence all through these months, by being present in the same numbers as they did during the previous months of daily updates. So the concern over the number of readers going down the hill is out of the bucket. I am talking about moving forward with a new vigor. Doing something new, and as one of my fellow bloggers wrote, challenging myself in pushing my limits.

Again, this does not mean I was not challenged enough all through these four months. I pushed my limits farther than I had expected and conceived myself of having any ability for. Hell, I was even trying to forget about my second book. Fortunately, that thought did not materialize and after the long pause, I could finally resume my work on “The Next Big Idea”, my latest nonfiction book.

Daily blogging would surely put some pressure on my working hours, but it will on the other hand, make me feel more alive. This is the crucial reason that prompted me to undertake daily blogging in the New Year.

The gift of life is not just the ability to breath, smile, eat, reproduce, and die. Life attains meaning with the feeling of being alive. This feeling defines the quality of one’s life. Unknown to this thought, we often see people, full of material wealth, but still suffering greatly in their mental life. As human beings, we have a very rich psychological life. Therefore, to feel alive is as crucial as breathing, since ‘feelings’ are the heartbeats of the mind.

As 2013 is passing us by, I have revealed in front you, a part of my secret agenda—feeling alive. (I do not regret making this one exception about my New Year agenda. The rest I would like to keep secret.) What you do in order to feel alive also matters, very much.

Relinquishing the masochistic pleasure of binding oneself with past hurts and sorrows and relieving oneself of the burden of past mistakes, is the best way one can feel alive.

Achieving this feeling is possible through applying remedies to our minds. What better medicine is there for the mind other than a prayer? Here is a prayer for you.

Dear God, please help me forget,
The pain of yesterday’s suffering,
Remind me the lessons I learnt from it.
Help me forget the wound,
But remind me who wounded me and how,
So that I could, in the coming years,
Keep myself away from those people,
And their ways.
God help me be who I am.

May God bless you, my dear friends. Let us wish good-bye to 2013 and welcome 2014, with hopes and prayers.

I went for a prayer in the evening and prayed and lighted four candles; one for myself, as a sign of thanksgiving to God for all the blessings He showered upon me (including Wall of Colours), one for you, and one for the my works. Let us not forget these moments full of light. The memory of these moments would surely lead us through any type of darkness that plans to defeat us.

Thank you all for supporting The Indian Commentator, through 2013. I also thank the readers of Wall of Colours and Other Stories, who are a constant inspiration to me in fulfilling my destiny. 


Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Moses and Halan

A Story based on true events, about self-doubt and new beginning.


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While Moses was resting under the shade of a date tree in the Sinai desert, in the evening sun and while the sea of people who followed him were preparing to take the day’s rest, Halan one among them, came to Moses.


Between them, a sense of communication hung in the air that both acknowledged and respected. The presence of the invisible, inaudible language made both realize that they needed each one to ponder the moment’s existence. Moses knew that Halan would address him ‘Master’ and that he wished to continue the conversation until the night fell, even though they did not speak about this meeting before with each other.


“Master,” began Halan, “Why have you chosen to rest under this tree, alone? Can you see angels? Do you talk with them when you are alone?”
“I am very happy you came, Halan. I was praying to talk with an angel, to find the answer to a question.” Moses gestured him to sit down on a nearby rock. The wind was getting stronger and it was playing with the sand on the ground and the leaves of the date palms that surrounded them.


“Why have I rebelled against the Egyptians?” Moses asked.


Halan put on an expression that was between uncertainty and fear. He looked at Moses curiously, thinking there would be some clues whatsoever, in order to explain the meaning of the question. Moses thoughtfully dabbed his right hand on the long stick that Jehovah had revealed magical.


“Why are you silent, Halan?”
“Master…?”
“Don’t you know the answer?”


Halan felt uneasy and regretted his decision to meet the great man at this time of the day. He had expected Moses to enlighten him with his accounts of meeting with angels and talking their tongues. But here Halan was encountered with a question; and that too about the reason of Master’s Great Rebellion.


How I am to know the answer? Isn’t that Jehovah who asked Moses to do so? Halan thought.


“Why should I answer this question, O, Master?”
“Because, I need to know how to explain it, if an old friend crosses my path and asks how my life is.”


Halan stood up. He was about to walk away, but stopped for a moment, and said to Moses, “Master, I’m sorry I don’t have the answer now. I will come back tomorrow evening and then I will answer your question.” Although Halan regretted saying this to Moses, he felt at peace thinking that at least he did not behave defiantly towards their great leader.


He walked away seized by the thrust of the unusual event and also by the concern that if he could ever be able to resolve the question the great master had just asked him. He turned around once again and said, “Master, there are no answers for questions of significance, but only opinions!”


Halan saw Moses silent and he went away, pale in face and puzzled in heart. Moses looked up at the heavens. The stars were slowly making themselves visible now.


The next day at a different place, the group made their halt. Moses was sitting at the centre of an assembly of leaders, when Halan came to meet him. Moses excused himself from the group and came out of the gathering to greet Halan. The members of the group first looked at each other and then at Halan. There were confusion, curiosity and contempt in their looks towards Halan, such an unimportant member.


“I spent all the previous night, thinking,” Halan said. Both of them started walking away from the group. There were some date palms nearby giving shade to those who desired it. They stopped under one of them.


“Tell me,” Moses insisted. His eyes were wide with interest.
“Master, I …I don’t know if I have a real answer. In the morning, as I was preparing the grass for the camels I found a mother and a child in the nearby abode. The child was very young and was just in its early days to walk. The toddler stood up wobbling before it took hold of his mother’s long dress for balance. It started walking away from the mother. The sand was not hot yet; however, the pieces of stones that protruded from the earth were deadly sharp, even for the careless grownups. The child walked toward a cluster of rocks. The mother was mending her long torn apron and seemed not to see this. I did not have a good feeling about the mother, for what mother with a beating heart would let her little child to wander in the treachery of the land, alone?


“I shouted at her, telling her that the child might fall down. But she did not give any heed. By the time the child reached the rocky terrain, surprising enough, the mother was there, picking the child up. It was as if by a miracle. I did not know how, but she was there. Surely, a mother knows what her children need!”


Halan stopped and looked at Moses, who was waiting to know how Halan wanted to communicate what he came across during that unusual experience.


Halan saw Moses closing his eyes in contemplation. He thought he should continue; “I asked the mother why she let the child wander freely. She merely looked at me and did not utter a single word. Suddenly, she went inside her tent.


“I turned away from that disgusting silence. Then someone called me from behind. It was a man. He came to me and said; ‘Sorry friend, my wife doesn’t speak. She lost her capacity to speak at a very early age, because a soldier had once poured hot oil into her ears as punishment for infidelity towards Anubis, the god of the Pharaohs. It’s she who insisted me to come out and apologize to you.’
“‘Oh, I did not know her sad story,’ I said. I felt bad again, for thinking critically about the woman, the mother who could not hear anything her little child or anyone else said. The husband continued talking. He said; ‘she was not yet married when this happened to her. A little girl she was. I met her only later. I could not stop thinking about the girl who is so firm in her devotion towards the True God, and was even ready to sacrifice her ears for what she believed to be true. I never saw anyone like her. Her father told me, later, that the hot oil came out through her nostrils, burning and melting the delicate tissues on its way. Oh!…I can’t even talk about it.’ the man held one hand on to a date palm to support himself.


“‘You are great too,’ I said.  ‘It requires great devotion to marry a deaf girl, when you are such a healthy and handsome man.’
“This, I regretted saying, master, since true love is bound to nothing, except one’s soul. But a word spoken and a fruit fallen cannot go back to their original place. That the tradition had taught me.
“‘I apologize for saying that,’ I said to the man once I realized I should not have said what I just mentioned.”


Moses was listening to Halan attentively.
“That husband smiled at me and I saw forgiveness, love and peace in his eyes. I know these are not many, but one. I drank from it. Instead of forgiving my foolish remark, he thanked me for accepting the apology for his wife’s indifferent behavior. ‘Why do you do that? I don’t think I did anything noteworthy. Your wife did not respond to my call, because she could not hear me. Not because she was arrogant. ’ I told him.


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Image Courtesy: Google
“Then he narrated another incident from his life saying forgiveness is the essence of life. He told me that once in his childhood, he came across a young prince, who had beaten up a soldier who was whipping a slave mercilessly for taking a small time of break from his bone cracking work.

“The soldier died due to the beating. The young prince ran away seeing the soldier dead. The boy came close to the slave, whom the young prince had saved. Seeing a kid coming closer to this bloody scene, the slave shouted at the boy to go away. But the boy moved closer still. He asked the slave, why had the prince killed the soldier. The slave, through his blood and sweat murmured; ‘Because life is movement and change.’”
    
Halan looked at Moses at a pause, which he thought would give some room to the great man to ponder over this amazing story he was told, by the husband of that young deaf woman.


Moses looked astonished at the end of the story.

Halan could not wait. He said; “Master, I think…perhaps I found the answer to your question. You asked me; “Why have I rebelled against the Egyptians?” And the answer is because life is movement and change.”


Moses smiled. He blessed Halan and said; “Let’s cross the sea!”

I wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers.


This is an excerpt from Wall of Colours and Other Stories. Get your copies from major online bookstores across the world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What Stephen King Did to Me

Do you want to call it a true story? You are welcome.
Skeleton Crew was on my table when I woke up a week before, on a Sunday morning. I took it for the weakened reading. I read Mist, the novella that was made into a movie, by Dimension films. I could not finish it that weekend, so the novella took a serial treatment. Every night, I took down a few pages, just before going to sleep. Let me confess, Skeleton Crew is not for you, just before sleeping, if you do not entertain nightmares. It will give you lots of them.   

When the painting job commenced in the upstairs section, recently added to our one storey house, the most dreaded fact was that the painters would move downstairs. That is where we lived, the family. When the painters come downstairs, we are expected to move upstairs, with the cots, beds and sofa set. Moving all those goods upstairs is a terrible task for an international shirker like me. But, hey, I could do it, couldn’t I? I have only one thing else to worry about now—the bookshelf.

I have a special bookshelf. A glass sliding door and a dusty floor made it ‘different’ from any other elegant looking home libraries anywhere in the world. The ideal home library I had ever seen is at Dean Koontz’s house, in a video. Carved out polished shelves.   

My bookshelf was physically different from that one, or with any other elegant ones, for that matter. I, at the same time, was not at all grumpy at the ‘dusty’ fate I received and the way I was forced to keep my bookshelf, the reason to which, I should say is the dirt road near to my house and the maintenance works that have been going on for the past one year.

Changing the bookshelf was a necessity. They said I should take my books upstairs and keep them there. The task demanded a lot of energy. For me, the bookshelf was the lives I lived and still wish to go back to when I so wished; the nest of every fairy that visited me, the visiting room for all my dreams, before they entered my mind’s screen behind the closed eyes, and the temptation to do the ultimate good to my soul, reading.
 
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“Do not take any of the books downstairs, until the painting works are done and over with.” They instructed me. We still lived downstairs as there was still some work to be done upstairs, before the painters moved down. The books were the first of the goods to be shifted up there. So finally, I ended up taking all my book upstairs, while living downstairs. Let’s get to the point. Here is where Stephen King comes in. I took all the books, including the ones I currently read and my notebooks, which I kept for different tasks. This means, I took Skeleton Crew as well.  

The novella, Mist was still an unfinished stub of the serialized reading endeavor. Every day, after college and other academic work, whatever little time I got was being used to woo the muse Stephen King has sent my way, in this book, just before sleep. After the day when all the books went upstairs, I spent one night in my room, down stairs, like an alien. I could not sleep in that place, which was strange now with no books, and an empty shelf.
 
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They were very particular about the books, tables and other stuff to be removed from the rooms on the ground floor, before starting the painting work. Very good, I thought. The workers were very diligent. They saw things are done the way they wanted it to be. Was I happy? Hell no. I was restless.

The next morning, as I was about to leave for college, I heard someone shout at me, from behind. I stopped for the person to catch me and explain the cause of his needing me. It was one of the painters. Great, I thought. “Didn’t you hear me saying it, the day before yesterday?” he asked. I did not know why he asked that very particular question, at the first place. I said, still, “Yes, sure, I do.”

He raised his hand. His right hand was dirty from work and had spots of paint on it; it rose. He had a book in it—Skeleton Crew.

Image Courtesy: Google
“I found it on your table, dude. Wassup? Ain’t you concerned about what we say? There should be some respect for words.” He went on. “Don’t you wannus to finnish the work in time, for ya? Your momma would be angry if she sees it.”

Although the way he questioned me and teased me, gave high frequency signals to my temper coils and infuriated me, I smiled a guilty smile at him. I took the book in my hand, hid it in my office bag, and walked out.   
I was helpless. The one who hooked me was no less than Stephen King himself.

PS: If you are reading this, please do not get disturbed at some of the offensive stuff I pulled off here.   

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Man’s Search for Meaning: a Book Review

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”__Dr. Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
 

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In Man’s Search For Meaning Dr. Viktor E. Frankl introduces his psychotherapeutic idea ‘Logotherapy’ and the events and revelations that led him into the practical realization of his hypotheses. The book has three parts: Part One: Experiences in a concentration camp; Part Two: Logotheraphy in a nutshell; and Postscript: The case for a tragic optimism. The book is graced by a wonderful preface by Harold S. Kushner, in which he contextualizes the book for general readers.

As Dr. Frankl himself asserts repeatedly, this book is limited in its space and possibility to include the complete scholarship of Logotherapy. Instead, one should look at Man’s Search for Meaning as an attempt to elucidate what is concisely expressed in the subheading: “The classic tribute to hope from the holocaust”. Part One of the book is dedicated completely to this purpose. Part One also analyses three mental stages the prisoners undergo, from the time of their incarceration to release. This analysis gets poignant and disturbing, because it is taken from the first hand experiences of Dr. Frankle himself from Auschwitz, Dachau and the Bavarian camps during the Nazi reign. Although the book does not follow a chronological order of events, the narrative is a gripping tale of how uniquely unveiled is the “human potential…to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.” (116)
Image Courtesy: Dr. Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search For Meaning helps its readers ask two significant questions: One-is there a meaning to my life? Two-do I believe in the existence of such a purpose or meaning in life in the first place? The second question should be asked first, but most of us randomly settle for the first one in negation and take the second one in affirmation, as a consolation. This in turn ruins the very roots of life and imprisons the person within vacuum. Every reader is sure to find something unique and personal in Dr. Viktor E. Frankl’s small but affective book.

There are people who even survived the “provisional existence” of death chambers during the Nazi era. The element that separated most of them with the rest, the ones, who, in the middle of their suffering gave up the hope for existence, is the responsibleness to attach meaning to their lives. Viktor E. Frankl also suggests that the cause of the present day deterioration in mental health is due to an “existential vacuum”-the absence of any meaning to one’s existence. He sidelines many philosophies and ideologies, including Freud’s and Sartre’s and suggests “Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-detemining.” (133)
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The “tragic triads” of life, namely pain, guilt, and death cause definite suffering, but in Dr. Frankl’s point of view, this suffering can be overcome if one deems it as part of finding or achieving the ultimate meaning of life. Viktor Frankl puts meaning at the altar of highest human achievement. He uses meaning as a cure to many of our problems due to suffering. Only an individual, who found some purpose or meaning in his or her life, can accept the inevitable suffering and make the right choices. “The emphasis on responsibleness is reflected in the categorical imperative of logotherapy, which is:“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.” (114) 


This is an MSP Book Review: Procure a copy of Man’s Search For Meaning for yourself, here 
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