Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moving...to http://thotjotted.wordpress.com

This blog has been a great friend, but changes are inevitable... For those of my readers who have been visiting this site, please visit my new blog at http://thotjotted.wordpress.com . Hopefully it would be updated more often than this has been of late!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Short sketch - Revenge

The Goddess laughed. Her eyes were amused and grim with satisfaction. She gazed upon her nemesis. A strange aura emanated from her, an impenetrable white shield of an inner secret of power.

"Your quest for revenge upon me has destroyed you more completely than any revenge I could have chosen. I do not need to defeat you, demon. I am beyond your power. My bondage was my own choice, as is my freedom. You deluded yourself into thinking that you chained me, for you have chained nothing but yourself. I have always been free.

Your murky claws can reach me, but they cannot touch me. Your black soul cannot sully my aura. The sacred touch of Life has healed the scars of your attack, and lighted in me the all consuming fire of passion. I revel in Life; I revel in my Beauty, I revel in the power of my Being. I revel in the knowledge that my revenge is complete because you are now my slave. And you do not know.

You sought to bind a Goddess to you with mortal bonds. You succeeded only in chaining yourself to a Power you can never conquer. This is true Justice – that you must suffer what you sought to inflict upon me”

She laughed again and turned away. The demon watched her with red rimmed eyes, still believing that he held the chain. As she walked, the chain dragged him with her, but he could not hold her back. He who had thought to master was the one enslaved.

The mountains and the heavens echoed her laughter.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Wedding Gift

Nirmala glanced at the image of the blushing bride in the mirror, draped in the traditional creme and gold saree, her hair adorned with fragrant jasmine flowers. It seemed to her that her Ammama was sitting in the corner and nodding and smiling in delight. In all her life, she had never loved anyone as she loved Ammama—with her gentle smile and silvery white hair, her inexhaustible store of stories and her quiet dignity, and the strength that shone out even in her quiet demeanor. It had been four years since Ammama died—how she would have loved to see her Nimmikutti’s wedding!

She smiled to herself as she thought of her last conversation with her fiancé. Sashi had been puzzled, but had acquiesced when she had said that the first thing they both would do after the marriage would be to plant a banyan tree sapling.

“Hmm? Are you a tree-lover or an environmentalist or something?”

“No. It is just something that--that I really want.”

“A banyan tree - sapling?”


“Will you tell me why?”

“I will tell you – sometime. Not now.”

She could still remember the night before they had sold the old house, how Ammama had sat late into the night, looking at the old banyan tree in the courtyard.

“Nimmikutti, do you know I planted that sapling? Your grandfather and I planted it on the day we got married. My father had lost everything to his creditors by then; that was all he could give us as a wedding gift. It was a sapling that he had got from the old tree in our ancestral house before it had been sold and he gave it to me with tears in his eyes. He said to me –“Govind is a good man. You both will be happy together. This is all I can give you, my daughter; all that I could salvage from the past. I have been a failure as a father, I have lost everything; but this sapling has the blessings of all your ancestors, it is the child of a tree that has seen the origins of a once-great family. Build again what I have destroyed, daughter. Build a new life…God bless you my child, may you always be happy.’

When I came here, it was just a little make-shift hut. But your grandfather and I planted the sapling that evening and we built a little fence around it. Then, in the twilight, he smiled at the sight of me, in my wedding saree, my hands all muddy and streaks on my face. And we both laughed our first laugh together.”

Nirmala remembered her Ammama smiling, her eyes bright with the memory of that shared laughter.

“That tree was like the symbol of our love. At first it was delicate, needing a lot of attention; I had to water it daily, add the manure, shoo away the cows that strayed in the yard. I had to watch over it, take care of it. And somehow, in my mind, it became synonymous with our love.

Isn’t the beginning of love a lot like that? Moods swaying like the sapling swayed in the breeze… I would blush when he smiled at me, weep when he frowned, feel depressed if he simply pointed out something I should have done, thinking that I am worthless, feel overjoyed if he bought me a flower. He too was like that at first, he was constantly trying to impress me with gifts or something he did…but he was more mature than I was and grew out of it quite soon. Then I thought he had lost interest in me and I became insecure. I would make a fuss if he so much as mentioned another girl or woman, and he would look at me quietly, puzzled. Sometimes, it was the other way. If I stayed in the marketplace too long, or spoke of anyone else highly, he would get upset. But your grandfather was a good man, and he never let his failings become passions. And slowly I recognized his love in the silence and the quiet thoughtfulness and the consideration he never failed to show for me. Through the years, once or twice, I thought the sapling would fall in the heavy rains and the storm and once or twice, I doubted if I was with the right person. The day he came home and fought with me after having a few drinks with his friends, I was reminded of all that my father had been, and I was distraught, thinking that mine would be the same fate as that of my mother. But it was a momentary weakness, and he never repeated it, when he realized how much it hurt me.

Slowly the sapling took deeper root and started to grow, and slowly our trust in each other grew. The sapling did not require constant care and attention; it no longer needed the fence to protect it or me to shoo away the cows and goats. And we became closer and closer; we did not need constant proofs and reassurances for our love. Every obstacle did not scare us; every problem did not weigh us down: we began to grow in love. Then your father came along, and from the sprightly young banyan tree there came long rope-like roots for him to swing by… It was around that tree’s shade that your father took his first steps, and it was climbing on that that he became so energetic and agile.

And slowly we also became better-off, the hut became a house, and the roots of the tree and the foundation of the house were the same…in my mind. It felt as if each time our family had a crisis, I would see the impact on the tree, and each time the tree weakened, there was something happening in our life. Perhaps it was superstition… but I felt that it had become intertwined with our souls…The night that I had my third child, there was a terrible storm and I heard a loud noise outside…a huge branch had broken off and fallen to the ground. I had a deep sense of foreboding in my heart… and in the morning, they told me that the baby was stillborn...”

Ammama had sighed deeply and ran her hand over Nimmi’s head gently.

“You were named after that baby girl, Nimmikutti. ‘Nirmala’ was the name I had thought for that baby if it was a girl. When your mother put you in my arms for the first time, I felt like God had given her back to me.”

She looked at the tree again and smiled. “Do you know that when you came here as a child, you would always climb that tree? You would sit on the branches and refuse to come down until your grandfather brought you the mangoes from his store. And he always kept the best mangoes for his Nimmimol.

Your grandfather passed away six years ago, but even now when I sit under that tree I feel him near. I tried very hard to convince your father and uncles not to sell this house, but … well, they are right too; I am alone here and they are worried that there is no one to take care of me. And I am happy we are selling it to Revathy and Sankaran—they are good people and they will take care of the house and the lands… and the tree.” And Ammama had gone out in the night to sit under the tree a long while, reliving the years gone by.

Nirmala smiled again to herself looking at the little sapling that stood ready for planting in her room and remembered how she had got it.

“What do you mean you want to go to the village? There are a thousand things to be done before the wedding! We don’t have time to go now.” Her mother had been aghast.

“I will go alone, Amma”

“Alone? A bride-to-be travelling alone? It’s unheard of! You can’t go anywhere this week!”

“Amma, I have to go. For Ammama. For myself.”

Her mother had had no answer to that. She had frowned and then she had gone to the inner chamber and brought out the wedding saree and the rings.

“I will come with you. I wanted to get these blessed at the Kshetram”

“Amma… I love you…”

Her little pilgrimage had been to her Ammama’s home, to the old house where Revathichechi now lived. In her heart she had felt that she wanted her Ammama’s blessings to start a new life, and that her Ammama would be there under the tree, waiting for her. They had gone to the Kshetram and then to the house and Revathichechi had been overjoyed to have them stay there. And in the evening, she had gone out to the courtyard and sat under the tree and looked up at the bright stars.

“Ammama… it’s my marriage on Saturday. I just wanted to be here with you before that. I wish you had been here, Ammama. I miss you a lot.”

“I am always with you, my child”

Nimmi had started. That had not been her imagination.

“Ammama… are you there?”

“Come back here tomorrow morning.” She had felt the thought in her heart rather than heard it.
The next morning, as they got ready to leave, Nimmi had gone out into the courtyard again and found a sapling growing at the spot where she had sat the night before. She had gently disentangled the roots and wrapped the sapling in some damp cloth and packed it to take back with her.

“What is that?” her mother had asked.

“My wedding gift. From Ammama” she had replied.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Storyteller

The magic would begin every evening.

Every evening he would transport me into a world of monsters and magicians and princesses and genies. He would paint the brilliant colors of fantasy, bringing the magic alive with his words, his expressions, his unique narration. He would build the suspense until my bedtime and leave it hanging , so that I spent the day impatiently awaiting the evening to hear the next part of the story. And he never disappointed me. Every night I dreamt of those magical characters in his stories that were so alive and so vivid, every day I wondered what would happen next. I did not realise then that he was teaching me much through his stories, I saw only the colors, not the messages he had weaved into them.

Those are the most brilliant memories of my childhood: the monsters and the princes of those stories more real in my memory than the events of those days. My brother was gifted: his words had magic, not just in bringing images to life, but in sharing, in caring, in bringing laughter and warmth into people's lives.

As I grew up, those story nights passed, and he showed me other worlds and ideas. He taught me the fascination of palmistry, he shared my interest in books, music, electronic gadgets and computers. He listened and advised me as I stepped into my adolescent days; I admired him with all the intensity of a shy, awkward teenager for a confident, popular and beloved brother. I thought that there was nothing and no one he could not win over: he could speak to a beggar or a prince with equal ease. And he did !

My brother taught me about courage, love, sacrifice, relationships: through his stories, through his life. He taught me about how to live life with laughter , no matter how difficult the circumstances. He taught me what it means to win, what it means to care. He taught me how to live.

And now he is gone.

I can cry out against the injustice of a cruelly interrupted life, I can despair, I can weep: but that would have broken every lesson that I learnt from my favourite brother. I can only remember what he told me when I spoke to him last--"I am always a winner!"

"Yes you are", I want to tell him. Because he is still with me, with each one of the us he touched with his special magic. With laughter, with happiness. In every story I tell, he will be my storyteller.

But I know he knows.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Random Thoughts - Choices

I keep wanting to tell my friends—Think about the choices you are making. Realize what they are. Understand the implications. Accept all the possible consequences. There are no second chances in life. There are but a few in relationships: and even if you get them, most relationships don’t remain the same. Small things matter. Invisible things matter. You are responsible for all your choices, intentional and unintentional. No one can rescue you from the consequences of ones you make, just because you did not do it intentionally.

Life has taught me that it is easier to say “I don’t care” than to live it. If you choose to say that and later find that you do care, a long way down the “don’t care” path, the way gets rather lonely. Life extends long beyond youth. And believe me, it’s difficult to not care later about some things that are easy to ignore in the spirit of youth. Sometimes, the inexperience and immaturity that makes you say “I don’t care” is forgiven, but often it is not. Sometimes the delicate flowers you crush in your mad rush do bloom again, but often they don't. Don’t look back and wish it had been different. The answer would only be that you should have thought of it earlier. Think ahead. And understand the delicacy, the complexity, the subtlety of human relationships and what they are based on. It takes just a harsh word, an angry look, a selfish thought to crack its foundation. If you think that they are not worth it because of their delicacy : well… all I can say is, I hope you never have to change that belief. I have had to. And I have learnt—that the most delicate of bonds are the ones that are truly worth the effort to keep and save.

It’s always a “kachcha daaga” … a delicate thread that holds people together. I keep wanting to tell my friends… Look. Think. See. Understand. You are making choices every moment. Be aware of them. They are building your future. Now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Poem -- KALI*

You have misjudged me.

You have glimpsed only the depth of a woman’s love.
You have not fathomed the vehemence of her contempt
when that love is thwarted by a betrayal that shames infidelity.

You have felt only the intensity of a woman’s faith.
You have not comprehended the potency of her scorn
when that faith is shattered by the reality of a treachery more appalling than mere falsehood.

You have sensed only the warmth of a woman’s tenderness.
You have not known the eternal ice of her indifference
when that tenderness is subjected to mockery and requited by a sham, a pale reflection of her love.

You have known only the sweet passion of a woman’s innocence.
You have not been scorched by her soul set ablaze by a holocaust of pain,
when she has cremated all the dreams of her innocence.

You have interpreted a woman’s gentleness as her weakness,
her unwillingness to cause pain as her inability to defend herself.
You have not gauged the power of her endurance, or the strength of her conviction.

Be not so deceived.

A Goddess is born from the depths of a woman’s heart,
hallowed by the ardor of her love,
or baptized by the depth of her anguish:

A Fury with power to which man has no equal.

Challenge not that Goddess; test not her Wrath.
It shall consume you.
She has no mercy.

I shall not forgive.

*Kali--The Goddess of destruction in Indian Mythology.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Random Thoughts -- Nostalgia

It’s not events that make a memory special. I remember the day I achieved something or lost something, but it does not bring to my heart the bitter-sweet pang of nostalgia. It is the ordinary days I remember, the secrets shared under the tree near the chapel, the long walks around the school ground with my best friend at school, talking about just everything; stargazing, counting shooting stars, and sharing so much without really talking, with a friend, lying on the wide parapet of our hostel terrace, sitting with my dad late into the night after my mom had slept, talking about whatever happened in the day.

And even of days special, the moments we remember are not the ones we expect to remember… I remember going with my brother for a movie for the first time: I don’t remember the movie or who acted in it; I remember the moment where he protectively put his hand around me on the way, as if he were my elder brother rather than my younger. The day I was out with a friend, I saw a great many interesting things, but I remember most the time we sat on the grass… and simply talked. Sometimes it is less that even that; a sentence, a word, a look, a smile, a gesture of caring, the whiff of a perfume, the aroma of a home cooked meal, the laughter, the teasing… The things I took for granted come back to me from the past, and I look at them and wonder why I never realized how precious they were. The most vivid of memories are of the most commonplace things, and it is then that I realize how much I had misjudged them.

We build these patterns and move on , and when we look back, we realize that the colors that we had thought would last have faded away, and yet the threads reveal the depth of the hues we had never noticed, the strength of the thin strands of gold and silver that we had not perceived before. When we look back, the pattern we see is not the one we expected to see.

But it is more beautiful than we could have ever expected.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Short sketch -- Disquietude

The desperate beating of wings woke me.

It was past midnight, and I could hear the soft patter of the rain on the tiled roof. It was not raining very heavily; the chirping of crickets and the croaking of frogs were heavy upon the cool night breeze. Yet, jarring upon the soothing night melodies was the frantic fluttering of wings somewhere on the rooftop. Some bird was trapped somewhere.

I went around, trying to locate the sound, but there was no room for a bird to enter through the wooden bars upon the windows below. It was an old house; the attic was accessible only by a narrow staircase at the back of the house. I knew it had to be the attic, but it was dark, and I was no longer the young girl who used to clamber nimbly up the steep stairs. I hesitated. What would I be able to do anyway?

The sound was becoming feebler and more desperate. Somewhere within my heart, an ache had risen, as if the bird was trapped within me and the wings were beating in desperation against my heart. I sat on my bed, hugging my legs. Unaccountably, tears were prickling at my eyelids.

And then I heard the plaintive cry of a dove through the now faint flapping.

I sighed and went out again. I grabbed an umbrella and went towards the kitchen and the backdoor.

Electricity was an unpredictable guest those monsoon days. The wind and rains caused a disruption almost every night; it had been out from evening. I lit a kerosene lantern from the kitchen and unbarred the wooden doors. The cooing was also getting faint, so I unlocked the grate to the stairs at the back and climbed slowly up the stairs. I could hear the flapping a bit more clearly now. The mournful cry sounded like not one, but two birds. I stepped on to the terrace and tried to locate the source of the sound with the feeble light of the lantern.

Hanging limply from one of the wooden beams, a plastic bag somehow tangled on one of its legs and caught on some nail on the beam was a slate grey dove. Flying around it crying plaintively was another one, probably its mate. The bird was struggling feebly, but it looked like it had exhausted its strength. I took one of the poles that we usually use to pluck mangoes in the summer and tried to reach it. The mate, thinking that I was attacking the helpless bird, flew at me, fiercely attacking me. I managed to flap it away, and tried again. This time, the nail loosened, and with a sickening thud, the bird landed at my feet, shuddering with exhaustion and fear.

I gently disentangled the plastic bag which had somehow got tied to its foot so tightly that I could see that it had broken in the frantic effort it had made to escape. I was no expert in the handling of birds: I simply went back to the kitchen, got some water and some wheat in a couple of bowls and left it next to the bird. I could feel its heartbeat still, but only faintly; I had not much expectation of its survival, and only a little hope.

I went back to my room and lay down, but sleep had fled from my eyes that night. The incident had evoked some forgotten sense of desperation in my own heart. The bird had come to symbolize the dreams that I had tied down with such merciless practicality. A dream, like bird, is born to fly free, and bondage of any sort is alien to it. To bind or hold captive a bird or a dream is to kill it.

I went up the next day, and saw that the bird had succumbed to its struggle and exhaustion. I dug a small grave for it in my garden and buried it. And my heart was still. The struggle had ceased within, as without.

The other bird, its mate, moped around the house for a few days, perhaps mourning its lost love . I did not see it after that.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Poem -- Aspiration

I want to be that gull—
      The storm and the sunset
      Behind me;
      Riding the wind
      Towards the horizon…
I want to be that gull;
I want to be that gull
      That a sailor spies,
      And takes heart,
      Pressing towards home,
      Lost in the storm…
I want to be that gull:
      A fighter,
      A symbol,
      A vision,
      A message.
I want to be that gull.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Random Thoughts --Fuzzy Logic

I do not like "Fuzzy Logic" in real life.

"Fuzzy logic" , defined in the terms of Artificial Intelligence Theory , allows subjects to belong to "Fuzzy sets". Which means that if the glass is half-empty or half-full, the glass is member of two groups which are actually contradictory -- "not empty" as well as "not full"

Which is all very well in theory.

What do you do with people who live in fuzzy logic? For people who don't answer a question with a simple "yes" or "no", but with a sort of answer that could be either -- or nothing connected to the matter at hand?

"Would you like to join us for lunch ?"

"Actually, I have a meeting with Mr.Bigshot X in the evening at 5 PM today, and I think he is....."

What does that mean? Is he too busy to join us for lunch?

"So, you wont be able to join us?"

"Actually, when I got up this morning , Ms.Attractive from your group had called me...."

Well yes, she is there for lunch. So are you coming ??

"So, you would be joining us ?"

" Actually ...."

Can you tell me whether I have to make a reservation for you or not? Apparently not. At this point, I make the decision.

" OK, so I am not including you in the reservation. Sorry you cannot join us. Hey... I am getting another call... talk to you later, bye!". CUT.

The whole point of decision-making for these people seems to be to avoid taking a position that you can be tied down to. Putting your leg in both boats so that you can argue that you are in either... or neither... as the situation demands.

And my stand on that is not ambiguous. I don't justify it saying "Well, there are reasons...". I say that it's a waste of time to talk to people who cannot answer a straight question. Trying to help them decide is like trying to hold on to an eel.

Sometimes it is not irritation I feel but pity. So many people today don't seem to know what they want or what they feel.

Do you love your job? "Uhmmm..."
Do you want a change? "I guess ..."
Do you love your wife? "Yeah ... hmmm..."
Do you want me to kill you?"Well..."

Yes, that may be overstepping the line. But I think there may come a time when that might be the response to the question. Why live when you are not sure if you want to be living? Or if you are indifferent to it?

I do not say that there are no grey areas in life. Sometimes it is required to allow both possibilities to exist. But I feel that is heavily over-used -- as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for a commitment. So that if one boat sinks, the other is still available. So that if both boats sink, you can argue that you were not actually in either one. And if one boat wins a race... well, you were a part of it too, right?

But the truth is this: You may get the credit of winning a few, be able to escape the consequences of losing a few. You may be safe most of the time and escape the worst when things are bad. You can compromise on taking a firm stance, you can live in the big grey cloud of fuzziness that is neither here nor there... But that safety too comes at a cost.

What would happen to our country in a war if the commander when asked if the battalion should attack, responds "Maybe"? When it's your life on the line and the jury responds to "Is he guilty?" with "Well, it could be either way..."?

In times of War or Peace, those who lead are not those who are designated with the authority to lead. The leaders are those who can take decisions, who can justify them, who can stand by them, who can take responsibility for them. They are those who can look at another straight in the eye and live by the conviction of what they believe in. They are those who have faith in God, and themselves and their decisions. They are the ones who can move mountains and change the world.

In the end, it's your life, and if you want to spend it on the cliff with a glider, not able to make the decision to let go of the ground, that's the choice you make.

Have you seen the view from the mountaintop as you glide down? Oops, I am sorry you missed it :-) !

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Sketch-- Faces in the Mirror

It was a dull and dreary night, the end of a dull and dreary day; the sort of day when gloom and moroseness seem to emanate from the walls and the earth; when the sun never peeps out from behind the heavy drapery of clouds surrounding it , and one can feel the biting chill of the wind even in one’s bones. It was dark when she glanced out the window; there was neither a moon nor stars visible; only an empty blackness into which even shadows had disappeared; so dark that it seemed that morning could never come again to disperse the heavy blackness.

"Another cloudy day ... seems that it will never change..."

She leaned back and stared at the reflection in the mirror. It was not the same face she used to see once; gone was light of childhood innocence, the hope that used to light up the eyes. There were traces of tears, like raindrops upon the glass windows after the rain has stopped. There was not even a suggestion of the smile that once never left the face; it had been replaced by a pasted imitation that could fool all but the most observant.

“I look old!” she thought. She felt old. It did not seem like it had just been a year. A year that had left her feeling scarred and bruised inside; lost and drained of all hope and faith. She sighed, idly tracing the outline of her chin on the mirror with her fingers.

The face in the mirror looked back at her, and as she looked, it seemed to change. The eyes became hollowed out, empty, with a blankness that was beyond pain or despair; it was an absence of feeling, as if they had wept all of their tears and were incapable of weeping. The brows were drawn together, not in a frown, but as if that had become the permanent expression of the face. The cheeks were pale and withered, concave... there were wrinkles around her mouth, lines drawn as if to accentuate its downward droop. The lips were pursed, etched in a smile of triumphant bitterness. It was the face of a cynic; the face of one who had no expectation of happiness, no reason to wonder what the next hour will bring—just the certainty that it would be more despair.

“Look at me!” she said in angry bitterness. “I am the one who is paying for your mistakes! I have nothing, nothing in my life… No reason to live. Every day drags on, changeless, hopeless… just breathing in and out. I had dreams once… beautiful, cherished dreams... Lost…all lost…because of your choices. I have nothing to offer anyone… I am no one. There is no one to be happy that I am alive…no one to shed a tear when I die … no one to smile remembering me… Can you even understand how lonely I am? Nobody ever enters my house… why should they? I have nothing but bitterness and regrets… How terrible it is to be alone, totally alone… But why me? Just because of your foolishness!”

“Look well at me… I am your future…” she smiled bitterly. “I am your fate.”

She looked away from the mirror, shuddering. Oh, what point is there in living to become…to become that!!

Something seemed to flicker… perhaps lightning in the distance. She glanced at the mirror, hoping the apparition had gone away… hoping it had just been a trick of the light and her imagination. She blinked… the face… her face… Was it her past? The eyes were alive with laughter and she seemed to be glowing with some inner light. The cheeks were rounded in health, and there was a smile that seemed to be not just from her lips but from her whole face. Yet, there were crow's feet around those eyes, as if drawn by a thousand smiles and endless laughter, there were wrinkles around her mouth, but they seemed to widen her smile…the hair was gray, but seemed to be glowing like silver. It was a face that personified joy and wisdom. The eyes looked at her with understanding and without reproach--not with forgiveness, but as if there was no reason for forgiveness…

“Thank you!” the image said. “You are the one who taught me that life is not about what I do, but how I do it. You made mistakes, but learnt from it… you found something good in everything that happened to you, no matter how bad it seemed. You taught me to become stronger for every experience, to grow… to respond, not react when things went wrong. You showed me that the worse the situation, the greater the opportunity! That was something that always made me look forward to a new day… a new sunrise … a new beginning every time. I am alone, but not lonely; I have so much in my life! I have friends and family who care about me and who are very dear to me, I have so many people whom I can help and who help me love life more each day! You taught me that my life may be different, but it need not be bitter or full of pain—that I can be something… someone in this world… that I can make a difference! I did not chase happiness—it came to me; I did not need to search for peace, I found it within me…”

“Thank you so much! If I could, I would choose the same past once again… I have no regrets…”

She stared wide-eyed at the mirror, unable to move… She blinked and when she looked at the mirror again, it showed her the face she saw every day, the marks of tears still evident on it. Had she been dreaming? Perhaps… it had been a long day … perhaps she had slept off. She put the mirror away and glanced out the window again. The night had changed-- a full moon was shining, the clouds had blown away and a million stars were twinkling brightly.

“Tomorrow will be a beautiful day!” she thought to herself with a smile as she lay down to sleep.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Random Thoughts

Q - “What do you do when the biggest and most cherished dream of your life shatters and is lost?”

A - “Dream again; Dream bigger, better, wiser…. And start chasing the new dream all over again.”

I did not get this quote anywhere in particular; it came naturally in a conversation with a friend. Perhaps my mind picked it out from its extensive stores, accumulated from years of voracious reading; perhaps it is the assimilated output of various positive influences and ideas; perhaps it is another’s thought; perhaps it is my own. I lay no claim to its originality; or to the thought itself. I just realized, as I said it, that it was the only way to truly live.

Mistakes, setbacks, tragedies, failures… happen. Sometimes they are inevitable, sometimes avoidable but still happen; sometimes they are just wrong choices. But no mistake, no tragedy and no failure qualifies us to stop living. There are no “showstoppers” in life – unless we let them stop the show.

Sometimes it takes a road block or a dead end to make us realize we are headed the wrong way. It takes a hard blow to make us rethink what we take for granted. It takes a blinding light to show what we choose to ignore or overlook. Every mistake or failure brings with it two opportunities: first, to learn how NOT to do something; and second, to learn how to be stronger or better for the experience. Life is all about these opportunities for growth. It is up to us how we choose to make use of them. No one can stop us from dreaming again, except ourselves. It is painful to lose a dream-- but it is death to stop dreaming.

Every way does not lead to a dead end, though many may. I thank God for dead ends! At least, they stop me from going too far in a way not right for me! Every time I find one, I just have change direction; find a new way, a new road, a new direction, sometimes a better destination and a new dream to chase.

All I have to do is keep going.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Beginning...

It's New Year... A time to look back at the past year and remember it's lessons, bitter and sweet... a time to look forward with new hope, new dreams and renewed energy. It is a time to let go of the past and it's mistakes, to revive the good things; a time to grow, a time to change.

To those of my readers who have returned to this site repeatedly in the past year while it has been sadly neglected: I am honored and humbled by your loyalty! I hope I do not let you down again. I intend to blog and write as regularly as time permits. :-)

My writing has always been a reflection of me... You will find changes, for I too have changed. Other than the changes in me, I also intend to change the style of my blog. In addition to my poems and stories, I intend to include writing that cannot be categorised into either-- just "writing".

What I wished to share when I started this blog was my world. To that ideal, I hope to always be true.

Wish you all a Happy New Year! May you learn to love life and it's experiences , both bitter and sweet, a little more this year.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Decorate me not, with your labels:
Like a dress I have outgrown,
They sit awkwardly upon me,
Not belonging; peeling off;
Stifling my soul with the narrowness
To which you confine me.

They let you imagine me
As what you wish me to be.

Paint me not with your hues;
Each of you perceives me
Through the tint of your own eyes
And sort me like candy.
Then you accuse me: like a chameleon,
Of changing color with every view.

In truth, it is you who view me in colors,
And you, whose perceptions change.

Fashion me not in your shapes:
I am not soft clay to be molded;
I have a form and contour
That cannot be changed with force;
Your compulsion may break me
But it cannot re-sculpt me.

I do not need to look like you:
It is you who need me to fit in.

Stop trying to define me—
I defy your simplistic definitions,
Do not hope to classify me:
I do not fit in your pretty categories.
Do not try to remodel me,
I have been modeled as I was meant to be

I am. And proud to be.

Accept me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


My cheeks burn as I sat there, grappling with conflicting emotions. I took a deep breath. “It will keep happening”, I told myself, “So better get used to it”.

I was happy for her. I truly was. This was not about her. It was only about me.

The chatter around me was getting louder… Or was that my imagination? I looked around. Nobody was saying a word. The voices were in my head. I pressed my hands to my ears, but they would not stop. Mocking, jeering voices of a hundred imps that live in my head. They laugh at me because I kept believing. And waiting.

I realized she was saying something to me. About suitcases. About what she would need. I tried to say something, but nothing meaningful would come out. I needed to make sense of the chaos in my mind as my feelings battled it out. “Just a min”, I said and got to the ladies room. I stared at myself in the mirror and opened the tap. First splash. “I’m happy for her. We have been partners in distress for too long.” Second splash.” I’m envious. She escaped. I didn’t.” Third splash. “She’s my friend and she just got a good break. Forget about this and get back there.” I obeyed myself and got back there.

But I could not forget.

My cheeks burned again as we got together to bid her farewell. Eulogies. Leg pulling. Best wishes. Old jokes aired one last time. Forgotten nicknames revived for old times’ sake. Laughter.

“It could have been me”

“It isn’t.”

“It may be me next.”

“There I go again.” The imps in my head were cracking up with laughter.

I went back and checked my mail. Photographs from my old roommate who is now onsite. I clicked on it, but after the first photo, I closed the window. I did not want to bring on another round of might-have-been-me’s.

The tingling was still there as the day ended. Sitting in the bus, I thought of what my friend had written. ‘Good things will happen to good people’. “Maybe that was it. Maybe I am not among the good people.”

These imps were really irritating me.

“My turn will come.” I tell them sternly. Cackle cackle.

“That’s number 18”.

“Number 18 of what?”

“The number of times I’ve said that already.”

I wish the imps would not refer to me in first person.

I wish they weren’t right.

“Well, I’ll do something about it.” I said, trying to hold on to my determination, but sounding unsure, even to myself.

“Like what?”

Why do they always have a point?



“Just shut up.”

Cackle cackle.

I took up a book and resolutely ignored them. Not that it stopped them of course.

My mobile rang just as I finally managed to get them to shut up.

“Hi Ma”

“Are you Ok? You don’t sound too good.”

How is it that she always knows from my voice?

“I’m fine. Just a headache and touch of flu.”

“Liar, liar…” went the imps in my head.

“Took any medicine?”


“What other news?”

“ Nothing much. Er..mmm… Deepa is going onsite tomorrow.”


Loud pause. I knew what was coming next. Strike one. I should not have mentioned that.

“What is happening with yours?”

“Hmmm…they are saying it will take more time.”

“We should really be thinking of your marriage. If you are not going, we could have it in August or something”

Not again.

“Ma, it will happen…”

“You are not getting any younger, you know”

“Ma, I’m just 24. I have time”

“Most girls your age are married. At your age, I had already had you”


“Well, think about it. There is no use delaying things if…”

“Ok ok. How’s dad?” I needed a change of topic.

“Worried about you. He was talking about it last night. He says if something happens to us… He wants to see you settled while we are still hale and healthy.”

OK, that was strike two.

“Ma, you both are perfectly fine and there’s nothing to worry about. Hmm…my stop is nearing; I’ll call you later”

Liar, Liar…

“OK. Take care of your health. Eat well”


One of these days, I would strike out.

I needed to talk to someone. I dialed my fiancé.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nauseous with envy”

“Who is it this time?”



“This weekend.”

“Hmmm…Well…forget it, sweetheart. Don’t let your feelings be affected by things beyond your control.”

That’s easier said than done. I sighed.

Home sweet home. My roommate took one look at my face and asked “Bad day?”

“You have no idea.”


“I think I’ll skip. Not hungry.”

Oh, so we’re gonna lie down and think about this, are we? Cackle cackle…Can’t wait…

“On second thoughts…. What are we making?”

“Sambar and Rice”

“Ok. Lemme cut the vegetables.”

She raised one eyebrow.

“I’m in a mood to cut up some people into very small pieces.”


“Hmm… I’ll just pretend the carrots and potatoes are among those.”

“Er….Ok...I guess.”

I cracked open two coconuts, and started on the carrots.

“Er…the pieces don’t need to be that finely cut, you know.”

I looked at her. She smiled.
“Fine, ma’am. Let me know once you are finished with all the murders. I need the…er...bodies.”

“Almost done”

Dinner time. I still didn’t have an appetite.

“So, who all are we eating?”

“I think almost half of the management at my office.”

She smiled.

“Did they deserve it?”

“Hmmm…Well, no…But I am in no mood to be fair.”

We both laughed at that.

But it still stung…


The mail sat in my mailbox and I stared at it. I scanned it once more to be sure of what it said. Nothing. There was nothing in it that warranted a second glance. Except the list of people it had been sent to.

Even a cursory glance told me that all the recipients were in the same situation as I was. Did that mean anything? Probably nothing at all.

But it was a tantalizingly suggestive “nothing”, a million possibilities hidden in the very ordinariness of that mail, in its generality.

My glance kept running to that row in my inbox. I took up the phone and called my friend, another recipient of that mail.

“You saw it?”



“I don’t know.”


The silence implied that it was the same for her. A choice—whether to hope and be disappointed again, or ignore it and—But it was impossible to ignore it.

“Well, we’ll know at 3:00”


“It’s probably nothing.”

Silence. Then I heard her sigh.

“Yeah, probably.”

“Let’s see.”


I looked at it again. It was going to be a long wait.

Not that I was unused to that.

Lunch buzzed with the discussion about the mail. Apparently, my observation of the mailing list was on target. The mail was from a biggie. Lunch was punctuated by debates on why some were in that list and some were not.

I listened. Nausea was flooding me and a vague ache hovered in my head. Apprehension? Or acidity? Or both?

Cackle cackle. "Think it is gonna be different this time? When will I learn?"

The imps were in form again and my head was buzzing.

A pacification. That would be it, I knew. Just another ego-soothener. Too mild for ego wounds that ran deep. Insignificant in the context. “No changes, but this is why.”; “We just wanted to let you know.”; “As soon as possible” “We are definitely looking into it”; “We have strategies in place which will come into effect soon”.

At least they would have made an effort, I told the imps.

Cackle cackle. “The sweet, loyal, employee who wants to fall for it again? Wow, they really have it good with me.”

Why do I put up with this?

Because they may be mean, they may drive me crazy, but they are invariably right. They are just voices in my head, but they are not hypocrites.

H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E-S. I spelt the word out idly. I imagined the letters hanging from the ceiling. I counted them forward and then I counted them backward.

It didn’t make me feel much better, but at least the imps were quiet.

At 4:00 pm, I was staring at the monitor with a triumphantly bitter smile. I’m getting good at this. Predictability is a good thing. I ought to write the scripts for the management. I know exactly what they want to say. And how they would say it.

Then my PM called me.

I felt sorry for him. He was almost as much a victim as I was. I wondered how it would feel if I had to sit there. Knowing what had to be done. And having no choice.

Yes, I did feel sorry for him.

He spoke. I smiled at him. I nodded. Yes , I understood.

The imps stopped buzzing in my head. Instead, there was an eerie quiet. I heard the verdict loud and clear.

All the better to accept it. Move on.

The light weight in my heart must be a trick of my mind. It was quite fine. I could laugh as we walked to the canteen. Yes, the book was quite nice. Film this weekend? Maybe. Hmmm… no, not going home this weekend.

Then something imploded near the center of my chest. For a moment, the world darkened.

Impact. Even when you expect it, it takes some time to hit you that you’ve reached a dead end. The End. No more hope. No more dreams.

The rest of the evening was a dream. Or as hazy as one.

And the next few days. Physical impact? Maybe it was the weather. The heat wave had been horrible. Maybe that would explain the sudden fever and nausea attack that drained all my energy in the next few days.

No, it probably had nothing to do with dying dreams at all.

* Czechoslovakia - a term my friends and I use to signify the vagaries of management; based on a joke that we once got in a mail.