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Change

Remember those pure and innocent school days?

Now, you don’t even recall them in your hectic ways.

Remember that high school soul mate you had?

I bet his wedding, didn’t really make you that sad.

Remember that friend of yours – always calling and checking?

She is now so busy that it’s not even a monthly thing.

Remember when people liked you just the way you were,

Now they seem to judge you, taunt you on who you are.

Remember when life was just easy, simple & sane,

But change is here like a freaking hurricane.

However, we forget that when hurricanes destroy everything,

The chaos, surely gives way to something.

For you can’t hold memories eternally,

And you move amidst the chaotic-calm – slowly and resolutely.

Coz remember when you thought things would never turn strange,

You forgot that the only thing constant is nothing but change.

 

 

 

Thinking of me

Our love blossomed and bloomed,

Not like a hurricane that rushes through all at once,

More like a gentle breeze that soothed and calmed.

I thought of you on flawed days…..even on flawless ones,

Knowing that on a still night, near the sea,

You are surely thinking of me.

 

But like sand in a fist, you were slipping away,

What could I do? How could I not hold you tighter?

You are gone. I scream, thrash and wither away,

I ache for that talk, our hugs; I yearn for that laughter.

On silent days….even on cacophonous ones,

I think of my only infinity,

Hoping that on a still night, you’ll think of me.

 

Oh! But now I cannot recall, cannot recollect,

The colour of your eyes,

That igniting conversation,

That one friend you always despised?

Oh no! But I cannot hold on to blurring vision.

My loyal heart has but treacherously moved on.

But sometimes just a simple song reminds me of you,

I float away, somehow, somewhere I am with you.

 

You shut me in a box of memories, cage me,

But a sly, random song will play on a still night.

A sad smile, caged memories shall ignite,

And the alas, forgetting your oblivious lover,

I know you’ll surely be thinking of me.

Let that finance enter your life…

Have you ever faced a time when days pass by so quickly that at a point you write a date on a piece of paper and you can’t believe it. I always found a co-relation between this phenomenon and Einstein saying almost the same thing in an equation-like language. Einstein was of the opinion that higher your speed, lesser is the time it takes to reach your destination. Somehow people treat his opinions as an outcast that can be accessed by scientists alone. Isn’t his belief true in case of normal life too? The faster we move with life by working late to climb the corporate ladder, by getting married at the “appropriate age” etc, the faster we reach our end and never realize when life passed us by. Somewhere all learned men tell us the same thing, men with microscopes tell this in equations, men with holy books tell this in religion. We forget the simplicity of heavy-weight education in a maze of equations, jargon, fancy looking books and a desire to boast a degree. One sounds so qualified when he says “Inflationary pressure is expected to go down-swing and consequently the debt costs are expected to remain constant.” It simply means “Stuffs gonna have lower prices, and hence you will not have interest rates increased.”

Somewhere I have this vague thought in my mind that is quite difficult to put in words that all of what we do, all of what mankind does perhaps leads to a single point. Imagine branches – every branch will lead to the same tree. Perhaps that’s why people like Einstein, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Mahavir etc. reached that tree of happiness. They jumped a few branches but they found their branch and stuck to it. The branch may be religion, science, finance or charity or anything else in the whole wide universe. Perhaps they are all trying to tell us the same thing – we just get lost in the jargon of it all.

I always felt that the most formal and technical of concepts teach you life lessons. We are just too caught up with jargon, and technicality to really realize this. This feeling has been lying inconspicuously in the back of my mind. However I realized this, in the middle of a financial management lecture, pet named SFM (Strategic Financial Management). The engrossed teacher was  speaking of markets and just like that I thought – Aren’t we all trading in a market of life, with happiness being returns, sorrow being loss/risk and the Almighty being the market regulator. And of course, the various commodities we trade are in an OTC Market. (It is an unnecessary jargon to say it has no standard market). We trade love for love, time for money, dreams for stability and so on. And it’s a limitless market where anything can be a commodity and anyone can be an investor, like a giant web of transactions.

The types of investors in finance are found in the life-market too. There are risk-averse investors who live life by a standard code (Minimum Risk Portfolio) who go for a stable degree, stable job, marry a stable/standard guy/girl and get reasonable returns of happiness. And then there are aggressive investors who invest in commodities like passion, madness, a consuming love and earn hefty returns in terms of happiness and fulfilment. And as finance says “Higher are the returns, higher is the risk” They face the risk of failing in their passion, not finding love and so on.

And then my train of thought went wild with the similarities of what the scary looking equations and hefty concepts were saying and what philosophers like Oscar Wilde use to say. The similarities are startling. Every decision we make is almost similar to an investment decision. Sometimes we are bullish on a stock, say a lover and then if the view is right, we gain and if the view is wrong we lose. Risk aggressive investors, when bullish, will go for the unacceptable and volatile lover and invest more love – if the view is right, it results in huge returns of joy and if the view turns out to be wrong, they are left with a huge loss of a gigantic heart-break.  If I am bearish on the lover, I do not invest my love, time etc to avoid loss.  

Heard the phase “There has to be darkness for light to enter”? When there is too much sorrow, happiness is bound to come. Well that’s what economics calls the Business cycle – Slump, recession, recovery and boom. Life is never the same in spite of you being the safest investor. Unlike real markets, you cannot choose not to invest because it is life and you can leave the market only when you die. And you have to go through these business/life stages. Slump and recession make you realize how much you can count on your blue-chip investments – friends and family. Recovery and boom make you believe in the market, make you believe in life.

And then like finance, we cannot predict everything. Somewhere a random investment, say an investment of helping a stranger can earn you high and unexpected returns. Somewhere the safest of investments may result in loss. And like market regulators, God watches the trade, lets us, earn, lose but steps in when things get out of hand and leads the market back to its bustling self. So the finance branch of the tree of happiness somewhere simply tells you – trade with all your heart, take risks of loving and following your passion and hedge it with family and friends Be free because if things get too difficult and recessionary, trust the market regulator to step in to take you to the recovery stage…..

Not feeling the feels

Amidst the busy schedule starting with a morning lecture followed by an 8 hour office and ending with a forced study session of an hour, things can get a little overwhelming in the final year of chartered accountancy. Every time I get the urge to place my fingertips on the beautiful black keyboard and type something lovely, it is followed by an urge to scan through the maze of legal words and interpretation of laws given by those manning the walls of justice. Even if I manage to choose between these two, the urge to have a long chat with a friend, or to watch a soul-cleaning movie or American Tv show manifests. I love too many things, and I want to do them all. But time is a bitch..!! Hence I have been busy doing things I like, trying to juggle them the best I can since a couple of months now. It really feels like a blessing, when you love doing whatever you do and that keeps you busy. Well, amidst the busy schedule, a long, twisted and weird series of events led me to a meeting with my ex. Well ex is an understatement, really. But  calling him someone I truly and purely loved, and then hated, and then loved again, and then left sounds too corny and confusing. These meetings are usually disastrous events, a ride through feelings, where someone ultimately gets hurt (that someone usually being me). However, this time I had a good feeling about it all. That is it. I marched towards the treacherous grounds where he stood based on a term as abstract as feelings.

Abstracts do work at times. I left the place after chatting with him and on my way back home, I waited for the feelings to take over, Tick-tock, tick-tock. Nothing. I waited some more. Tick-tock, tick-tock…..And perhaps I had a visible expression of utter astonishment on my face. I felt no sadness, no longing, no lust, no love. And I was the most satisfied person at that moment. After years, I was finally able to let go.

Human mind is a funny thing. Science says that human brain is wired to eventually let things go. That is the reason we can survive death in the family, we can survive failure. The intensity of feelings fade as memory fades. Perhaps, I too was a happy victim of this function of the brain. But not really happy. Our feelings and the science behind those feelings are in two different dimensions. As hours passed by I got worried. I felt so normal after the meeting that it felt abnormal to me. I was as fine as I would be after chatting with a colleague from office. The only emotion I was feeling was worry. The science behind feelings intended for me to let go and forget about it. But my actual feelings made me too aghast at the loss of emotions. I felt guilty and inhuman. For days I have been thinking, going through memories, just to feel something but all these efforts have been in vain. Worried but intelligent friends pointed out “The fact that you are thinking so much about it means, it’s not really gone. You are just telling that to yourself.” But I am thinking because the only emotion is worry.

I have felt all possible emotions when I was with him. I have felt kinship, love, lust, happiness, euphoria, anger, hatred, jealousy, animosity, helplessnesses and even sorrow. It makes me feel so inhuman that I cannot manage to have any of these now. And emotions are not something I can fool myself into not having. I use to feel desire to talk to him after the meetings, sometimes lust, sometimes just sorrow or sometimes a soft happiness of past love. People always remember and re-live feelings about the most important events/parts of their lives. A businessman re-lives the feeling of pride after talking about his first deal, a husband re-lives love while talking about his wife, a painter re-lives the passion while remembering his first stroke of brush. How can I be so inhuman that I cannot re-live the feelings, not even a hint of the feelings, when he has been such an important part of my life. Yes, he has been an ass most of the times. But I truly loved him and now I don’t feel a thing. Only feelings I have are humanitarian and nothing more. I have been so busy doing things I love, running around trying to find God, or making plans for solo trips, enjoying freedom etc that I forgot, I simply forgot to remember him. And my brain took the cue and erased the feelings. Yet another emotional tie was broken. It is scary not to have feelings for people. Sometimes I feel too much for the greater good, like gender equality, spirituality and too little for most individuals. There are not many people with whom I am emotionally connected. I might be social, even caring as humans should be, but not emotionally connected. Except a few close friends and family, I do not get too worked up about the lives of others. This helps me be close to those who matter, feel for those who matter, cry for those who matter. Those who matter have now become -1.

I am still musing. But I guess it is futile fighting the evolutionary traits established after years of evolution. Yes I feel terrible about not feeling anything (Major paradox). I feel terrible that time has made a stranger out of someone I loved from the bottom of my heart. I feel the feels about not feeling the feels. I would like to think that the some total of feelings a person feels at a point of time is the same – we just transfer feelings from one place to another – kind of like energy, merely changing forms. For example, most people in India have too many emotions tied to economic survival, they can’t spare feelings for environmental issues. Einstein had too many feelings regarding science, he had none for his family. Perhaps, that is why famous artists see nothing except art around them – all the feelings are tied to art. Yes, I know the saying “Love grows when you love more people.” This doesn’t really seem true to me. If one were to love the world as much as one’s family, the meaning of family itself would be lost. You can’t have feelings for everything and everyone in the world (by feelings I mean something more that humanitarian) as that would paradoxically tantamount to having no feelings for anyone. I would like to think that my feelings have unknowingly transferred to law, to love of freedom, to desire to follow one’s heart, to friends, to family, to the desire to work at an NGO etc and my brain decides to spare him none.

My lack of feelings for him has made space for feelings for so many other things in life, and I can live with that.

Melodies in Life..

Walking on the busy streets of Mumbai everyday, jumping over cow-dung, dodging people in hurry, and running for buses in uncomfortable but pretty heels, I always have one companion, subtly with me but inconspicuous to most. They are my headphones. I have heard of fascinating tales of Tansen, the singer in Akbar’s court from my grandparents – the grandeur and skill in his singing, how he would impress the rain gods with his Malhar raga and how he was the finest there has ever been. Music is something very cleansing and soulful. And we are privileged to carry melody with us everyday. Music has a way of connecting to me, like rain and weather connects to me, like interesting people connect to me. I often experience a change in mood when I listen to songs, really listen to them not just play them in the background.

Songs trigger sharp memories of feelings, emotions, people, a phase in my life when that song was constantly on repeat etc. And I wonder whether other people feel it too. There are instances when I avoid sad Hindi songs because I really get sad for a few hours after listening to them. Whenever I feel down, I shut myself in my room, call a friend and listen to kickass songs like What doesn’t kill you by Kelly Clarkson, Aas Pass Hai Khuda and so on. EDM has another way of getting to me with the thumping of the beats – it empties my mind, which is really something..!! Certain songs remind my of someone I loved, some remind me of travel, some of memories with friends, some of forlorn phases.

I realized this when I was sitting with a couple of friends at the Worli sea face. The waves bring out something very spiritually satisfying in everyone and so the urge to sing retro songs came in. And so we sang, in ragged, amateur tones and misplaced lyrics but enjoying every moment of it nonetheless. Music has been around for years – calming music, sad music, music to pray, different melodies, These melodies are decorated by the sparkle of lyrics by writers. And we get “a song”. Some melodies are without lyrics but convey the message equally well. All this was a luxury earlier when concerts of great singers were attended only by the royals. But today we have devices which gives us all the melodies, all the emotions associated with the melodies, all the meaning in the lyrics in a jiffy. We have ipods, smartphones etc. We carry music with us everyday to accompany us in our solitude in train/bus travels, we carry beats with us to make that walk from the station to office a little less boring, we have the volume in these tones to shun away the unwanted noises and we have the calmness in these melodies to soothe our tensions.

Music brings out the artist in everyone, and those who possess the ability to create music are not only artists, but artists who bring art alive in others. So the next time you listen to that song you like, let yourself rest and allow the artist in you to enjoy it….

 

Her Life in Snapshots

She awaited her first breadth in this world. Rani would be born in the industrious rural area with cattle roaming around, modest homes and natural lifestyle. She came in this world and heard her first words “Please understand, it was illegal. Next time, our lord will bless us with a boy.” In some other land with tall buildings, busy people, loud horns Riama was born. Her parents smiled at her pretty sight but their eyes awaited their next child.

When Rani yearned for the smell of books and the warmth of the class, she was handed one meagre book, the smell of which was overpowered by the aroma of masalas. The classroom was her brother’s kingdom while the kitchen was her hut. Raima on the other hand was handed her S.S.C books on her first day at school. The I.B books awaited her brother.

They snatched away the book from Rani’s hands and adorned her with a spatula. Raima found herself holding a book in one hand but the other hand held the tea kettle. She wanted to drop the kettle, but they wouldn’t let it happen. Suddenly her hands felt weary with the weight of the objects. Somehow the book kept slipping and no one cared. Everyone thought the kettle was precious.

Rani’s parents would become furious when she would look at boys. But one day, they said Rani was to have a special friend. They went around the fire for the friendship. She then went far away with him. Raima’s parents merely frowned when she went out with boys. But they didn’t frown quite as much when she was with Mishra uncle’s son. They wanted her to go far away with him some day. Raima, now all grown up, wanted to go far away as well. She introduced the special friend and they were furious. Perhaps the white kufi on his head had something to do with the anger. She wanted to say kabool but she found herself going around the fire.

Rani’s hands bore the brunt of washing utensils, her skin bore the marks from her special friend, her heart bore the burden of being a prisoner. Raima’s back bore the brunt of cooking for the family as also sitting in an office, her tired mind bore the brunt of under-performing at work and under-performing at the kitchen, while her heart bore the brunt of not being loved.

When years passed by and they stared into the eyes of their daughters, they knew they had a decision to make. History would repeat itself only if they would allow it.

 

The Fallen Knight….

Knighthood was a sacred and honourable title given to only those few men who hold the fort of the righteous side in the most adverse of situations, who were known to be wise learned men, gallant, smart but not cunning and skilled in their chosen field (swordsmanship). I recently realized that my unconscious mind, spurred by years of listening and reading about the mighty knights had awarded knighthood to a certain 21st century human being. Like all knights, he carried a certain charisma along and only recently did I realize that the infatuation was in fact a part of the whole scheme where by subconscious had awarded him knighthood. He was this soulful, aware person, righteous is every manner, socially responsible, shrewd, goal oriented….and everything else a knight can be. He holds different opinions, views and  ideologies which are refreshing to hear and think about.

But recently while debating about such a different opinion, somehow the knight proclaimed that he doesn’t think death penalties are valid for the charges of rape. We were talking about juvenile crime and so here is how the conversation between the knight and my subconscious (that had granted him the knighthood) sounded :

Subconscious : Surely knight, your opinions are so because a kid is involved. It is a debatable topic.

Knight :No my opinion is for all of them – juvenile or not.

Subconscious : (now desperately) Surely, surely,,,,you must think there is a  punishment much more cruel than death. Correct..? Am I right in saying so knight?

Knight : (now sensing that the title was in danger). I just don’t think it is right.

Then, my rational self realized how very desperate my subconscious sounded while defending her knight. And I had a realization – harsh and shocking. Somewhere there existed an element of reasoning behind this view, however tiny that element may be, that he did not realize how cruel and heinous a crime we were talking about. And the knight who was clad in a velvet white cloak, an armour suit and a mighty steel sword in his hand riding on a while stallion, was no longer there. My imagination saw him as a traitor, for he had betrayed the trust my subconscious had placed in him with the title. Suddenly he had fallen off his horse, now black as night and was transforming into an ugly figure of the evil enemy. My white knight had fallen.!

It fills me with such angst when I realize that people cannot relate to the crime and it’s cruelty. Perhaps it’s considered as one of those things that happen to other people. There is no empathy. Sympathy is offered by everyone but not empathy. I am an avid reader and when I read, I imagine. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed Harry Potter books – I could imagine the enchanted ceiling, the moving photos and all of it in my mind. But my imagination is not restricted to Harry Potter. When I read news about rape, the cruelty of it does not escape my imagination. The fallen knight voiced his disloyal opinion in respect of a particularly horrifying incident called the Nirbhaya case. And I was horrified to hear him say that such a crime could be excused from death penalty. Punishment was fine, but death penalty was a bit too much according to the fallen knight. He expressed his erudition – “I have read material regarding death penalty not being valid. Humanitarian grounds”. A statement that once would have earned admiration from me, only irked me even more. When I read the reports of this case, I could empathize with her. Many people shy away from the actual empathy because it is too vivid. But then, so is the reality. One cannot begin to understand the cruelty by reading the incident as mere news. And I urge the handful of people reading this to imagine with me, imagine her and be her. Imagine being raped by six men, lying semi naked and watching your friend being brutally hit with a rod. Fighting against 6 men and then being raped and beaten by the rod, and being penetrated by the rod…!!!!. So badly penetrated by that rusted iron rod, that the intestines and the uterus come out and then being thrown away. Imagine yourself, your daughter, your sister, your wife, your loved one lying there with her intestines out….Imagine someone you love most dearly, her smiling face, lying on a road after being raped by six men and beaten and her intestines out. Imagine the pain of the intestines coming out, the bruises, the shame. My heart stops whenever I read the Nirbhaya case because I can imagine myself, every person I love in her place. And if you just imagined being her imagined your loved one being her, I dare you to consent to the fallen knight, when the memory of that loved one, her pain and her plight is before you.

My knight had not only fallen, he was now an ally to the monsters. He was that person who protected someone who did this to her, who did this to me when I empathized with her. Some people, including the monster, think that reading of books have made them superior, that the power of knowledge has made them sensitive to others and to prove this sensitivity, they claim to be sensitive towards six men who raped a woman repeatedly. It is easy to pass off the word “rape” in a sentence when words like “sensitivity” prevail. But what about sensitivity to her? In the wake of boasting knowledge, social superiority as also sensitivity to monsters, people like the fallen knight become cruel to the humans mutilated by them…

In India, there is still a vast population which considers women to be objects. A politician recently commented on rape “Boys make mistakes. Doesn’t mean they have to be hanged. We intend to change the law.” It scares and infuriates me to read this. Such monsters exist and the reason for such a statement is simple – they think rape is just another crime. Crime, yes, but not that serious to warrant a death penalty. Well theoretically, it is just a crime, like the monster-turned-night must have read. But when one imagines herself or his/her loved one’s in place of Nirbhaya, that’s when it hits you – it isn’t just a crime. Its much more. The fallen knight, righteous, aware and fair,somewhere thinks like this politician. The politician’s views are formed due to lack of eduction and the knight’s, due to excessive education. But the conclusion is the same. Are they any different ? But again, taking cue from his arguments in this respect, he deserves sympathy and I deserve to be punished. After all, it’s my fault I awarded him knighthood so easily in the first place….Isn’t it?? …I have to be careful…Boys will be boys…..