Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Prince and the Angel

It is not easy to see angels.
“You can see them only if you believe you can”—said the teacher--“But it’s not easy, since you will always be doubtful in your decision to believe it.”
“If I meet an angel, what can I do?”—The Prince looked at his teacher, the old woman, with confusion in his eyes.
The teacher replied—“It is easy. You do not need to do anything. But usually people ask, when they meet angels, what they do not possess.”
The Prince smiled.

Another day, the teacher saw the prince running towards him in great anguish.
“What happened?”—The teacher was very caring.
“I saw something. It was light. It was voice. It was miracle.”
“That was an angel. You saw an angel!”—The teacher smiled in surprise.
The face of the Prince was still clouded in disquiet. The teacher did not ask him why, for she knew those who see angels will suffer great effects of anxiety in their attempt to comprehend and not to doubt what they just saw in front of their eyes and ears and conscious sensory perception. The prince seeing the silence from the teacher started describing his worries.

“Master, I could not ask anything!”
“I told you, you don’t need to do anything.”
“But you also told me if I knew what I do not possess, I can ask it. But I could not. I know this well that the successful person is the one who knows his own limitations and strengths. And there is no one without any limitations. And that means, I am not aware of what I do not have, what I do not possess, what my limitations are.”
“No, Prince.”—The teacher said with a smile—“It is not always necessary to know or to remember your deficiencies. Now, try to remember something that you never asked me before.”
“Have you ever seen an angel?”—The Prince took little time to grope this question from his mind.
“No”—the teacher replied sadly.
“Why!”—That was an exclamation from the prince.
“Because only a few can do that. Even though, I knew well about my own limitations and strength and being the master I am, I am not that special to see an angel. But even with all your naivety, you are.”

Eyes of the Prince welled up. He knew he learnt the best lesson about himself. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010


When we are waylaid by a different path in front of us, other than the ones we are used to, we say we are lost. But on a day of heavy rain, clutching three hundred rupees in my right hand—the money I borrowed from the owner of the place I work at, a part of my salary—I did not feel so, even though, that day had changed my entire life registering its presence leaving its indelible colour, and transforming into a milestone.

I had my umbrella in my left hand. In my right hand, keeping it safe from drenching in the rain, I had my hand bag and the money. I had a wallet. But the wallet was too much materialistic and I could not keep the money in it, as if the wallet might transform the money in it into a fistful of rubbish or mere bank notes. For me, those three hundred rupee notes were not just bank notes, or pieces of paper. They meant more than what they were meant for. The money existed beyond the language of day-to-day economics. That money was part of my soul; too abstract to be explained.  

I got off the bus that had taken me to the down town. And I walked to the book shop. I crossed the road. Then what I did was to walk on through the foot path beside the shops that appeared cramped in a long array. I was really careful to locate the shop I wanted to visit. I have a problem in identifying and locating particular things among a group or crowd. And then I found it.

I entered the shop. I was careful, very careful, not to wet the books around from water sprinkling from my umbrella, as if the place I entered was a shrine. I put my folded umbrella on the ground, and slung my bag on the left shoulder.

I looked through the glass shelf greedily. I could see my eyes shining reflected in the glass door of the shelf. I waited. There were people there who were making huge purchases. After what it seemed a lifetime, I asked the salesman if I could slide the door open. And he nodded meaning yes. The glass door was glided right. And I picked it up with my naked hands. I could feel my skin coming close to it and then, like a wild beast at its prey, sauntered forward to take its possession. It was the book: Twilight.

Then I took it to the salesman, and he gave it back enveloping it with a brown cover. I read his gestures and went to the owner’s desk, which was in the entrance itself. The shop was very small and there was only a part of the shelf given for English novels.

I went to the owner. My right palm was opened. I passed on Rs. 300 to the owner. The book had cost Rs. 270. He handed back the balance. I took my umbrella and put the envelope carefully in the handbag. The rain was still heavy, powerful and as usual: inexplicable, giving me mixed sensations of fear and happiness. I felt a bit paranoiac, because what I had with me now was something ‘non-common’: the transformation of my abstract soul—the book. The money I spent for the book was part of my first salary—the result of my sweat, my thoughts, feelings, and soul. And the explicable sensation those three bank notes conveyed had now been transformed into this book. But I was happy, too. I was happy to think that I earned the book, unlike that in my past days, in which I entirely depended on parents for my expenses. I was happy to know this too that each of the up coming moments in my life would carry with it, the sense of a new reality, a new world, and a new life. The book will remind me of my self sufficiency, at least in following my dreams. That was a new perception of life, and a new path, and I did not feel lost. I felt more powerful and enriched by the new path that crossed my life.                            

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Celebration of Reading

Milan Kundera, Ayn Rand, Joseph Heller, Carols Fuentes, Fernando Pessoa, Carlos Castaneda, Edward W. Said, Stephenie Meyer, and James Patterson are all not related with each other in their thematic unity. Except Edward W. Said, all the others are related, but not in their themes. What relates them is the form of artistic expression they have managed to survive in: the novel.

I had a “carnal” urge to read. So I had all of these writers borrowed from my university library; something unusual, because I finished my Masters there and there were no more chances to take books from the library officially, and as many of the faculty and my class mates thought there were restrictions in any of the unofficial interactions they may make with the university. But I saw possibilities. And I saw, indeed, a lot of them. I could work somewhere and gain some money to support my life and I did not have to worry about the class hours or syllabus any more. But borrowing books from the library would be a bit difficult if you did not have any connections, and I had managed to have some, in the Library Department.

The real issue was how I was going to finish all these bookswithin one month? (I had to return them or at least renew them within one month’s time and at present I did not remember the renewal dates of many of the books. So the fine might be soaring!) Milan Kundera’s Testaments Betrayed, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Carlos Fuentes’ Happy Families, Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, Carlos Castaneda’s The Eagle’s Gift, Edward W. Said’s The World the Text and the Critic (literary and cultural criticism), Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and James Patterson’s Double Cross, are all with me in printed version, now, and I am reading each of them, too. Each book is designated for each day. Other than these books, there is a PDF version of Paulo Coelho’s The Winner Stands Alone that I am in the process of perusing. But my attempts to prepare a rigid time table for each of these reading endeavours failed many times. So I decided not to be specific about the time table. Whenever I felt like reading Coelho, I read one chapter from the PDF book. I felt reading Meyer, there went one chapter from Twilight, another day. So it became a random reading endeavour utilising the opportunities that I came across due to the completion of my post graduation. (M.A. in English Literature) Well, more than a random reading it could be called a celebration of reading. There was literature from Europe to Latin America, from the USA to Britain, and from Literary and Cultural Criticism to vampire romance and new age philosophy in my ‘package’; a carnival of literature.
One book, among of them all exists even behind my closed eyelids, in my dreams and in my soul: Twilight. There is a story backing this interest. I will tell you some other time. 

Monday, August 16, 2010


The wikipedia article on Madonna, the singer, contains an adjective in its title in brackets: ‘entertainer’—a title truly deserved by the singer. She is endowed with an extremely powerful personality and an equally charming talent for music. Continuing her journey of music through a great many troubles personal and professional, she has reached at a stage in her life, where, her name itself would be enough to hold the masses on to their feet. Today that is, on the 16th of August 2010, she has turned 52 years: an age almost reminds of retirement for any of the woman singers. And, as is crystal clear, she is not going to stop it here. This would not have been possible with out hard work and extreme dedication. That is what makes her an icon for womanhood.

She was always there. Her smile, her dance moves, her voice, and her songs; a half century and a whole lifetime of music. It seems as if time has ceased in the mesmerizing power of her songs; as if it has been possessed by her charm. This is what makes her a symbol of magical beauty: a “Hard Candy.”

The Indian Commentator wishes Madonna, a very Happy Birthday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I am ordinary; a common man from Kerala, India. And that meant I believe, or should believe in the concepts of logic, reality, reason etc. For the common man, life under the constant influence of these factors is natural. Normality is my religion. I find myself under the comfort of “adjustments”. I know if I adjust my life for someone else, the other person will return the favours through another set of “adjustments” at the time of need. Logic is the skeleton of reality. Reality is the ultimate sense driven out of perception; sensory and intellectual. Reason is the guide that leads one through the intricacies and extraordinary spaces situated in the verges of reality, which although counter the normal, are highly recommended for the existence of the normal on the plane of signification. In other words, the extraordinary or the not-normal is necessary for the normal to make sense. The effect of the normal is drawn from the comparison caused by the influences of the not-normal. The reason works to distinguish and to elevate the ordinary and the normal over the extraordinary and the not-normal. And my ordinariness pertains to my inclination towards these notions.

But there are moments in life, when all this go topsy-turvy. I mean, there are moments in which we realize the presence of a strange open door, which shows us scenes we never have imagined ourselves seeing, or events, which we have never thought of witnessing. We perceive the not-normal, and feel the extraordinary, surprisingly at hand-within ourselves. I mean instances like giving away one’s life for nothing, or waiting for a whole life time for the sake of a lost relationship. It is a similar experience that I am going to share with you, here.

Though the moment was undesirable, the presence of the girl consoled me. I was ready to enter into the territory of conflicts. I knew very well what lies ahead of me will be a series of unprecedented moments, and it will without any chance to doubt, lead me to conflicts, internal and external, sensory and intellectual. She had already entered into one of the most tumultuous places in the world: my mind.

Her eyes hovered over mine. I realized the trails they left in my mind. They were powerful—the trails. Her eyes were full of empathy, and they expected it in return. So I stood there, listening to what she said. I could not hear the acoustic images she produced. For me, her language was her eyes, and the bright smile her lips carried. As I said, the moment was undesirable. To live through an undesirable period is like entering into a battle field, where one is alone, fighting with oneself. And that exactly is what she wanted me to do: waiting for inquiries in the reception desk the whole afternoon, alone—to fight with loneliness.

When one faces an undesirable situation, the self divides into two. One part will stand up for the decision that had been made in favour of the errand, and the other part will vehemently oppose the decision to face the situation (something that cannot be changed, because no one can go back in time to alter the moment in which the decision was taken), and each moment spent in contact with the undesirable situation would be transformed into a battle.

The paradox in my decision was that what I decided was far away from any of the human actions categorised with the word—decision. I spent the whole afternoon behind the reception desk regretting my decision. She was the one supposed to take up the job that day. But she had some emergency, as per what she said. I too was busy with my academic papers, which were to be prepared within one month, for which I dedicated my time every afternoon.

How could I end up doing something completely illogical and out of normal?

I was drunk with her sight, with her tresses, her smiles, her eyes, and with her religious taboos. She was veiled. She was a Muslim. To lift the veil was a taboo. But the shawl of the Churidaar that she used as her veil was hardly in place and I feared myself of risking my sanity, to forget my language, to lose myself. I had promised her in the meantime to stay in the inquiry desk as the receptionist, until five in the evening from the noon, all alone—the decision was made. I could have done anything, if she had asked. And now, thinking about it, I am really scared. I could even have died had she asked me so!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Wall

The wall of division
Of white lies
Of infinite meanings
Of confusion
Of restrictions
Of confinements
Of lack of humanity
Of uncivilized arrogance
Of ignorance
Of all the unrighteousness
Now the words only remain.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Artist's Destiny.

The moment in which a writer searches for a story or a theme to drive forward his creative impulses and to fulfill the destiny of an artist must be great. I too was in such a moment; sitting alone in the office of the language training institute I temporarily worked for. Writing nourished my soul and gave me the sense of fulfilling the Artist's Destiny.

The moment was crucial, for I was in an attempt to bring together my soul and body within the unique harmony of art. I was using the time of my job for writing. For what mattered most was the Artist's Destiny, and during those hours in the afternoon, there were no classes, either. I was asked to stay in the office until five in the evening to handle the enquiries if someone showed up.

The Artist's Destiny is the inexplicable urge one feels to work in order to meet an unknown, inexplicable demand. This demand comes from nowhere and can never be met. But it exists with all it mysteriousness and absurdity in an artist's life. This call is not from money, sex, food or shelter, but from something indefinable. Some name it: the divine call. But it is nothing other than the artist's destiny, which in its experience, is unbelievably pacifying and disturbing, at a time. Some take it as the call for perfection, too. However, this call or demand that the artist feels inside is beyond perfection. To a certain extent it is satisfaction that the artists seek in their communion with art. But this satisfaction, in no way, is related to perfection or money.

No artist could deny the call of the Artist's Destiny. I heard it, there, in that office. And I decided to follow it then and there. I was happy, for it was after many days' interval (almost four weeks) I was writing something. I learned something new. It is not you as an artist follow art, but it is the art that follows you; the artist. The unbearable urge in you as an artist, or a writer to start your work of art, to scribble down the words on a paper, is just a sign, which explains the nearness of the work of art to its material existence. The artist sees it. He Loves it. And he makes it his own.